A Summary of Herman Witsius' "The Economy of the Covenants Between God and Man" - by Dr. C. Matthew McMahon

Covenant Theology - God's Master Plan to Give His Son Jesus Christ a Bride

Today, many Christians are turning back to the puritans to, “walk in the old paths,” of God’s word, and to continue to proclaim old truth that glorifies Jesus Christ. There is no new theology. In our electronic age, more and more people are looking to add electronic books (ePubs, mobi and PDF formats) to their library – books from the Reformers and Puritans – in order to become a “digital puritan” themselves. Take a moment to visit Puritan Publications (click the banner below) to find the biggest selection of rare puritan works updated in modern English in both print form and in multiple electronic forms. There are new books published every month. All proceeds go to support A Puritan’s Mind.

Check out these books on Covenant Theology.

A Simple Overview of Covenant Theology

When dealing with Covenant Theology “simple” is a good thing. After the Bible, this work is the FIRST that you should read, or one that you should introduce to a friend if they are struggling with covenant concepts.

Covenant Theology Made Easy

When dealing with Covenant Theology, making doctrine easy to under is important. This work is a great follow up to the “Simple Overview of Covenant theology” book.

A Masterful Work on Baptism

There is no better succinct, concise, precise and exegetically irrefutable work on infant baptism than Harrison’s work. It is not just about baptism – it’s about infant inclusion in the covenant of grace. It’s about church membership.

Those that have a hard time reading 800 page treatises on theology may enjoy this short overview. This is taken from Witsius’ work and is a summary of each chapter in that work. It gives an brief outline in written form of what Witsius’ teaches through his two volume work – the best work on the subject of Covenant Theology.

A Short Overview of Witsius’ Economy of the Covenants, by Dr. C. Matthew McMahon

See his full work here online.

(Struggling with Covenant Theology and the Bible? Let’s make it EASY…Covenant Theology Made Easy by C. Matthew McMahon, Ph.D., Th.D. – eBook, and get the printed work HERE)

Book 1 – Explaining the Covenant of Works
Chapter 1: Of Divine Covenants in General
Chapter 2: Of the Contracting Parties in the Covenant of Works.
Chapter 3: Of the Law or Condition of the Covenant of Works.
Chapter 4: Of the Promises of the Covenant of Works.
Chapter 5: Of the Penal Sanction
Chapter 6: Of the Sacraments of the Covenant of Works.
Chapter 7: Of the First Sabbath.
Chapter 8: Of the Violation of the Covenant of Works on the part of Man.
Chapter 9: Of the Abrogation of the Covenant of Works on the part of God.

Book 2 – Explaining the Covenant of Redemption
Chapter 1: Introduction to the Covenant of Grace
Chapter 2: Introduction to Covenant of Redemption
Chapter 3: The Covenant between the Father and the Son more fully explained.
Chapter 4: Of the Person of the Surety.
Chapter 5: Of the Suretyship and Satisfaction of Christ.
Chapter 6: What Sufferings of Christ are Satisfactory.
Chapter 7: Of the Efficacy of Christ’s Satisfaction.
Chapter 8: Of the Necessity of Christ’s Satisfaction.
Chapter 9: Of the Persons for whom Christ Engaged and Satisfied.
Chapter 10: After what manner Christ used the Sacraments.

Book 3: of the Covenant of Grace or the Covenant of God with the Elect
Chapter 1: Of The Covenant of God with the Elect.
Chapter 2: Of the Oneness of the Covenant of Grace, as to its Substance.
Chapter 3: Of the Different Economies of the Covenant of Grace.
Chapter 4: Of Election.
Chapter 5: Of Effectual Calling.
Chapter 6: Of Regeneration.
Chapter 7: Of Faith.
Chapter 8: Of Justification
Chapter 9: Of Spiritual Peace.
Chapter 10: Of Adoption
Chapter 11: Of The Spirit of Adoption.
Chapter 12: Of Sanctification.
Chapter 13: Of Conservation.
Chapter 14: Of Glorification.

Book 4: Of the Benefits of Salvation
Chapter 1: Of the Doctrine of Salvation in the first age of the World.
Chapter 2: Of The Doctrine of Grace under Noah.
Chapter 3: Of the Doctrine of Grace from Abraham to Moses.
Chapter 4: Of the Decalogue.
Chapter 5: Of the Doctrine of the Prophets.
Chapter 6: Of the Types.
Chapter 7: Of the Sacraments of Grace down to Abraham.
Chapter 8: Of Circumcision.
Chapter 9: Of the Passover.
Chapter 10: Of the extraordinary Sacraments in the Wilderness.
Chapter 11: Of the Blessings of the Old Testament.
Chapter 12: Of the Imperfections falsely ascribed to the Old Testament.
Chapter 13: Of the real defects of the Old Testament.
Chapter 14: Of the Abrogation of the Old Testament.
Chapter 15: Of the Benefits of the New Testament.
Chapter 16: Of Baptism.
Chapter 17: Of the Lord’s Supper.

Book 1 – Explaining the Covenant of Works

Chapter 1: Of Divine Covenants in General

In studying divine covenants in general, one is treading through understanding God’s Redemptive Plan throughout history. This is a matter of Eternal Salvation. It answers the question: How may a sinful man approach God? (Exodus 3:5). When a person injures the sacred mysteries surrounding the divine covenants, they are twisting the means by which men are saved (Matthew 5:19) In Scripture, “covenant” is translated in the Hebrew “berith.” It can have various meanings, such as: 1) An immutable ordinance made about a thing (Jer. 33:20); 2) A testament that cannot be changed (Heb. 9:15-17); 3) a sure and stable promise, though it is not mutual (there are not two parties involved but just God); 4) A precept (Jer. 34:13-14); 5) a general rule or statue; and 6) a mutual agreement between parties, with respect to something (Gen. 14:13)

God’s covenant with man may be seen as a covenant of God with man. It is an agreement between God and man, (a pact or agreement) about the way of obtaining consummate happiness; including a threatening of eternal destruction, with which the contemner of the happiness, offered in that way, is to be punished. (Which is the manner in which Witsius defines this). In the Hebrew, the meaning is “To cut a covenant” or “strike a covenant (Genesis 15:10).” The Greek is the same continuing the Hebrew ideas with the word diaqh,kh. There are three elements of the covenant – 1) A promise of eternal life. 2) Prescription of the conditions for obtaining the promise, and 3) the penal sanction against transgressors of the conditions of the Covenant. God requires the complete sanctification of the parties involved in the covenant or threatens punishment. Nor was the Covenant an option for man.

In Scripture, there are two covenants of God with man: Covenant of Works. (“Do this and live…”) and the Covenant of Grace. There are poignant similarities between the two covenants. In the Covenant of Works: God manifests himself as supreme law-giver and chief good desiring to make man a partaker of his eternal happiness. In the Covenant of Grace He is infinitely merciful to the elect sinner. There is a mediator in the covenant of grace, where there is no mediator in the Covenant of Works.

Chapter 2: Of the Contracting Parties in the Covenant of Works.

The contracting parties of the covenant of works are God and man. In this covenant Adam sustained a two-fold relation, both as man and as representative of all men. He was created with a reasonable soul that has the capacity for interaction and power to act perfectly with knowledge, righteousness and holiness. The whole extent of the image of God created in Adam consists of three parts: 1) Antecedently, in that it consists in the spiritual and immortal nature of the soul and in the faculties of understanding and will, 2) Formally and principally in these endowments or qualities of the soul, viz. righteousness and holiness, and 3) Consequentially, in the immortality of the whole man, and his dominion over the creatures. As head and root, or representative of mankind the whole of history proves this fact as he was the first man to whom was spoken the creation ordinances and mandate.

God is righteous in governing the world in this fashion by the covenant with Adam in the garden. No one would have complained if Adam had obeyed. People often complain it is not fair since they were not there, and that they could have succeeded if they were. However, no one can say they could have done better. Since they are fallen now, they are thinking in a fallen state, and they think now that they could have done better than a perfect man who had no sin. But in Adam everyone has sinned personally. In Adam everyone sinned, as if they had been there.


Chapter 3: Of the Law or Condition of the Covenant of Works.

The Law of the Covenant is twofold: the law of nature implanted in Adam which was done at his creation, and the symbolic law concerning the tree of the knowledge of Good and evil. The Law of nature is the rule of good and evil, inscribed by God on man’s conscience, even at his creation, and therefore binding upon him by divine authority. This has not disappeared since the fall. It is compatible with love and not an enforcement or coercion but the obligation of a just act based upon the holiness of God. The law of nature is the same in substance with the Decalogue.

The Creator/creature distinction necessitates law. If God did not uphold the law He would deny Himself. God is the sovereign Creator, not man. If man were autonomous, then man would be “god.” The law requires external and internal obedience. It governs not only our actions but our nature. The universal precepts of the law are founded upon the nature of God, that is, an expression of His character.

The symbolic law was the tree of knowledge of good and evil. (Gen. 2:26-17). There is a two-fold reason for the symbolic law – with respect to God, to test and try man’s obedience, and with respect to man, probatory law with reward of eternal life and punishment of eternal death.

A perfect three-fold keeping of the law was required. First, of its parts with respect to subject and object: The whole man, body and soul, had to keep the whole law. Also of the degree to which it is to be kept: man had to keep the law with all diligence and heart. Also, man had to persevere: Man had to persevere in keeping the law without fault.


Chapter 4: Of the Promises of the Covenant of Works.

The Covenant of Works did include promises contrary to the Socinians. Man’s natural conscience teaches him that God desires not to be served in vain, nor that obedience to his commands will go unrewarded and for nought. Rather, true faith is rooted in the word and promise of God. The tree of life represented the promise of eternal life. It would have a been a nonsensical statement for God to prohibited Adam from eating of the tree if something good were not to come from not eating. It was a seal of the promise of God to Adam if He obeyed. If no promise had been made, man would have lived without hope and lack of hope is characteristic of the fall, for the very threatening infers a promise.

The promise made to man was eternal life. Jesus came to do what the law could not do because man sinned. Jesus came to procure eternal life therefore it was promised to man from the beginning. If Adam persevered, he would have received what we received by faith in Jesus Christ. The law itself was ordained to life (Gal. 3:21). Christ, the second Adam, earned eternal life for us through the law. He did what Adam did not do.

If there was no reward, what kind of covenant would it have been? God would act unjustly against His character of rewarding those who diligently seek Him and all of Theology Proper would come crashing to the ground. God would then violate His character.

The nature of the promise of God to Adam for eternal life has a number of foundational truths. God owes nothing to man. Man cannot merit anything from God. God cannot punish a holy creature for it would be wrong for God to send a creature to hell that is just and Holy. This would be a denial of Himself. God cannot refuse to grant a holy creature the communion of Himself. If He did that would throw, again His character in confusion. He would be saying that he does not delight in holiness and true piety. And God does not love something in vain.


Chapter 5: Of the Penal Sanction

There are various observations concerning the penal sanction to note (Gen. 2:17). Death is the consequence of sin and therefore not natural. The rebellious and disobedient and them alone are those set with the consequences of punishment. Death follows as a consequence of eating from the forbidden tree. Sin here expressed is the transgression of the symbolic law. The law seen in the tree of the knowledge of Good and evil, is the more full expression of the Law of God.

The term death is used generally to include all its meanings. It is to be taken in all of its meaning, not just physical death. It was spoken to Adam as the head of mankind. Corporeal and spiritual death on behalf of all men as the outcome of his disobedience. This penal sanction would be administered immediately. The moment he finished his sin in eating the fruit, he felt the change and it began immediately. Death is the separation of body and soul. Death means vanity or frustration of this life along with its pain and miseries. Death means spiritual death. Death means eternal death of body and soul.

The necessity of the penal sanction for sin is the majesty, holiness and justice of God. God is a jealous God for His own glory and majesty. God cannot deny Himself, nor can he deny His supreme majesty. It’s the manifestation of the jealousy of God that is seen here against sin. He must punish wickedness. The holiness of God demonstrates that God cannot be joined with a sinner without satisfaction made to his justice for He cannot look upon sin. A holy God hates sin and the sinner. God manifests his holiness when he punishes the wicked. The justice of God is an essential attribute of God. God’s justice demands sin be punished with death. However, God does not delight in the death of the wicked. The penal sanction of death is based upon the just nature of God. Eternal death is not an arbitrary sanction. It depends on the holy nature of God. Sin is infinite in relation to its attack upon God who is infinite (and not in an absolute sense since there are degrees of sin), therefore punishment must be infinite as well. It cannot be removed but by Christ’s blood, it stands forever.

Chapter 6: Of the Sacraments of the Covenant of Works.

In the Covenant of Works there were sacraments. They are visible proclamations of the covenant. Daily Adam beholds the sacrament with his eyes, and remembers the promises given to him, and the threats. They are there to strengthen our faith in God’s promises, and to confirm our faith (Heb. 6:17-18). They are also a foretaste of eternal blessings. Those eternal blessings will be without outward signs and simply grasp the thing itself signified in these lesser objects at that time, but now we must use them to strengthen faith for they remind us of our duty to God. They help us remember how one is bound to his covenant-God, and they bridle and restrain him in a certain degree from sin. The sacraments of the covenant of works are Paradise, the tree of life, the tree of knowledge of good and evil and the Sabbath.

The sacrament of Paradise was the Garden of Paradise. It was a garden planted by God, given to man as steward to take care of it. Paradise signified heaven. (Luke 23:432 Cor. 12:4Gen 3:10Rev. 22:1Gen 2:12Rev. 21:27). Paradise reminded Adam to be active. It was the pledge of heaven, and Adam was to cultivate that place continually. He was to keep the sanctuary of God pure and holy, so that God could come and “metaphorically – eat of its fruits” with Adam in fellowship (Song 4:16).

The sacrament of the tree of life signified the Son of God who is the source of life in all covenants. It was the sign of the covenant promise of eternal life. Adam was cut off from the sign when cast out of the garden. Being cut off from the tree demonstrated the need of a Mediator to bring them back to the tree. It was a holy example – for “the fruit of the righteous is a tree of life (Proverbs 11:30).”

The sacrament of the tree of knowledge of good and evil signified the promise of the covenant and the curse of the covenant. It stood as a memorial of our duty towards God. Adam should desire the chief good – who is God. Man should not go after that which is simply pleasing to the body. God’s rule is the supreme authority before man, which Adam should have followed as signified by the tree. Had Adam obeyed, he would upon his trial have come to the knowledge and sense of his good to which he was called, and had a natural desire after, even “eternal life and consummate happiness.”


Chapter 7: Of the First Sabbath.

The last sacrament of the Covenant of Works is the Sabbath that began at Creation (Genesis 2:2-3). The first day was the day blessed – the first day after six days of work. As a creation sacrament, it is binding upon all men for all time. It is binding simply on the basis of imitating God. Adam entered into the Sabbath rest upon completion of his creation. The first day Adam enjoyed was the Sabbath rest.

God rejoiced over His work. He ceased from creating anything new and contemplated his creation. He rejoiced over what was worthy of His labor – which is consistent with the character of His goodness. This set a pattern which man is to copy. Adam was engaged on the first day of his creation to contemplate the Creator – resting and contemplating to abstain from every sin. On this day of rest God blessed man.

The Sabbath is set as a sacrament. God’s resting signified His far more glorious rest for men in heaven (Heb. 4:10) Men enter this rest through the work of Christ which points to the mystical signification of the Sabbath and heaven. God’s resting signified man’s eternal rest in God after his probation.


Chapter 8: Of the Violation of the Covenant of Works on the part of Man.

The covenant in its whole constitution was violated by Adam’s sin. The broken Covenant is seen in Hosea 6:7 and Romans 5:12. Adam was the root of mankind and all of mankind fell in that transgression.

There are some important observations concerning Satan’s temptation of Adam and what Satan did there. Satan doubts God’s word. He doubts or undermines the penalty of sin. He instills Heresy (Rev. 13:11, “He speaks like a dragon…”) He promises greater happiness upon obedience to him. Satan tempted him to obtain that new happiness through disobedience. He then appeals to God as a witness to his lie. “Did God really say?” The serpent was overthrowing the nature of the priestly office of Adam by causing the priest to doubt God. Would the sanctuary of God, the holy place of God, be overthrown? Adam succumbed to the temptation and violated the covenant by making a covenant with the devil.

Adam’s sin was predetermined by God. The doctrine of concurrence teaches us this: for man to act, God has to act, and if God acts then man acts. Man cannot act independently from God. (1 Peter 1:19-20Acts 17:28Isa. 10:15). This is a necessity of consequence. It is not that God “made” Adam sin in his heart, but that God withholds His morally good influence in Adam. God’s decree is the foundation for man’s liberty and He cannot be the author of sin.

When Adam sinned, God imputed Adam’s sin to all his posterity. Romans 5:12, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.” An actual sin is in view. “All” includes those who did not personally sin. Therefore Adam’s sin was imputed to them. It is due to Adam’s one sin that death came to all. It is analogous to salvation in Christ who is the Representative head of His elect. Only one sin of Adam is imputed to his posterity. All are fallen as a result.

Chapter 9: Of the Abrogation of the Covenant of Works on the part of God.

There are important eternal truths that transcend the abrogation of the covenant. Perfect obedience is (still) required by all men. This should help us to see that God does not change just because men fall. God still speaks to people in His Word as if they are not fallen (Do this and live.), for perfect obedience is necessary to obtain eternal life (Galatians 5:3). Disobedience is still punished by death and men are still obliged to keep the requirements or face the consequences.

The Fall did not abrogate the duty to keep the law. James Arminius believed that it did. However, the obligation to obey is founded principally upon God and not a covenant. The execution of penal sanctions does not abrogate the law, and instead God administers a greater punishment. Inability to keep the law does not negate the responsibility to obey it. Man is the cause of his inability. Man’s sin cannot diminish God’s authority for that would be contrary to God’s nature. The law does not change because God does not change (James 1:17Romans 8:4)

The Gospel did not abrogate the duty to keep the law. The Covenant of Grace confirms the Covenant of Works. Perfect obedience is required to obtain eternal life because Christ’s life and death was necessary to redeem his people. The very fact that there is a Covenant of Grace demonstrates the need to uphold the righteous character of God. The fruit of Christ’s work does not change the law but the sinner. The law does not change because God does not change. This is critical to understanding the Covenant of Works. The abrogation on the part of God was that man could no longer obtain eternal life by the keeping of the law.

Book 2 – Explaining the Covenant of Redemption


Chapter 1: Introduction to the Covenant of Grace

The consequence to the Fall was that the Covenant of works was broken and the New Covenant was established. Witsius says, “When the covenant of works was thus broken by the sin of man, and abrogated the just judgment of God, wretched man was cast headlong into the deepest gulf of ruin, whence there could be no escape.” Man was now without God, as Ephesians 2:12 states that he was, “having no hope and without God in the world.” As a result, a further covenant needed to be established with man – the New Covenant, or Covenant of Grace.

A New Covenant was setup that promised a coming Mediator to overthrow the curse. It was new from the beginning, and characterized in that way throughout redemptive history, then epitomized in Christ. This is the foundation of God’s merciful plan to save sinners.

The Covenant of Grace illustrates God’s adorable perfections. Who can rehearse it all? Wisdom, power, truth, justice holiness goodness, philanthropy, good-will, mercy…and the like. It demonstrates that which Adam would not have known in the garden, but now revealed through mercy.

It is helpful to define The Covenant of Grace, or New Covenant in the following way: “The covenant of grace is a compact or agreement between God and the elect sinner; God on his part declaring his free good-will concerning eternal salvation, and every thing relative thereto, freely to be given to those in covenant, by, and for the mediator Christ; and man on his part consenting to that good-will by a sincere faith.”

In other words, as we will see, the Covenant of Grace, made with the elect is the reality interposed in time of the covenant that God the Father makes with the Son. In time, this covenant is manifested as the Covenant of Grace.


Chapter 2: Introduction to Covenant of Redemption

The Covenant of Redemption is defined as “The Father gives the Son to be Head and Redeemer of the elect; and the Son presents himself as a Sponsor or Surety for them.” This covenant is between God and the Mediator, not the elect and God. The elect simply reap the benefits of this agreement between God and the Mediator.

The Scriptures demonstrate the reality of such a covenant made and we want to demonstrate this by Scripture to prove the necessity of it. First, we should observe the nature of the sacraments, which Christ partook of for they are evidences for the Covenant of Redemption.. Luke 22:29 “And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me.” The Greek word diati,qemai, “to dispose of a covenant” may be better worded “and I engage by covenant unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath engaged by covenant unto me.” (cf. Hebrews 7:22). He is a surety – he represents us to God and communicates to us His promises. He undertook to perform the condition of the covenant where we could not (Galatians 3:17).

The contracting parties are, on one side, God, on the other, Christ; and the agreement between both is ratified. Christ is the seed to which all the promises of God are made and complete. He is the executor of the testament – or diaqakh. The economic relationship between the Father and Son, that is Christ calling God Father and God calling Christ servant, points to a Covenant of Redemption (Isaiah 49:5-6). In this servanthood, the whole nature of the covenant exists. Christ calls God his Father, and the Father calls Christ His servant.

The contracting parties of the covenant are the Father and Son. (Psalm 16:2Isaiah 53:2). It was a covenant proposed by the Father (John 10:18), and includes a promise and right to ask for a promise upon obedience (John 10:18John 12:49Psalm 2:8Isaiah 53:10-12) This covenant was accepted by the Son (John 14:31Psalm 40:7-8). This is where many misunderstand how the covenant of grace is conditional upon obedience, but that Christ accepted such obedience on behalf of the elect and so the elect, and they alone will be able to keep such a covenant with God because of Christ. Christ had to perform and keep the covenant for all this to be effectual for the salvation of men, thus seen in his baptism to fulfill all righteousness. The Father declared that He accepted the suretyship, “in thee I am well pleased (Luke 3:22).” These things were sealed by the symbol of the Holy Spirit falling upon Him.


Chapter 3: The Covenant between the Father and the Son more fully explained.

Importance of the Covenant of Redemption is Foundational to Covenant Theology. It is the foundation to the whole of our salvation. This Covenant is divided in to three time frames or three periods: eternity, immediately after the fall, and in the incarnation. The time period of eternity for this covenant is proven from the Scriptures (1 Pet. 1:20Prov. 8:23,; Eph. 1:4John 17:6Rev. 13:8). It was then engaged immediately after the fall. A need for a Mediator was given at the time of the fall (Gen. 3:15Rom. 3:25Zech 1:12-13). The time of the incarnation is also demonstrated by the Scriptures (Psalm 40:7Hebrews 10:5Galatians 4:4).

There is an importance to seeing how Christ related to the Law. As God He was subject to no one and nothing. He is the Son of God in this respect. As man He was subject to moral, ceremonial and civil laws. He partook of the ceremonies and types which He would fulfill. In this he was obedient. As mediator He was subject to earn eternal life and pay our debt of sin, i.e., active and passive obedience. The active subjection to the law was that he set himself under it as a rule of life (involuntary), but as a way to save sinners it was a way to obtain eternal life (voluntary). His passive obedience consisted of various miseries of body and soul from the cradle to the cross. Without His active and passive obedience sinners can never be saved. His human nature, then was truly subject to the law and his active obedience is appropriated to the God-man and not just the human nature which is necessary for the salvation of God’s people.

The relationship between reward and the obedience of Christ is also critical to understand. Reward is promised to him which is the highest degree of glory (John 17:1). To receive this as a man is the perfect fruition of God., being exalted above all creatures. He is given the church, receives all power, and gives gifts for the church.


Chapter 4: Of the Person of the Surety.

In order for salvation for men to accrue, the Savior must be true man, consisting of a soul and body (Heb. 2:10,11,16 17). This does not mean the human nature was taken into the divine nature. Rather, the divine nature “assumed” or took upon the human nature. The Hebrews passage is an argument for the Incarnation, not simply a statement about it.

The Savior must be a righteous man. You have to be a perfect man in order to save men. He must fulfill as man what Adam failed to do as man. The justice of God would never be satisfied unless flesh kept the covenant bond (Ephesians 5:30Galatians 4:4). He had to be a righteous man as Hebrews 4:15 states and Romans 5:19 demonstrates. The Covenant demands perfect holiness. There has to be a legal purity about the sacrifice for God to accept it, for an unrighteous man cannot save himself, and only a righteous man can save others.

The virgin birth immunized the Savior from original sin. There are two views seen here: the Symbolic view: the Virgin birth was a symbol appointed by God whereby he was separated from sinners. The miracle itself had no inherent power to keep the Savior from original sin; and the Literal view: Virgin birth had inherent power to keep the Saviour from original sin because it is possible that part of the body is not under the curse of sin nor a means of transferring guilt.

The Savior must also be true God (Isa. 43:11). Man is not the Savior, and salvation does not originate with him. Only God can restore us to true liberty, for he who sets us free, makes a purchase of us for his property and possession (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Only God can give us eternal life that is in Himself. Only God could raise the image of God back to its right state. Only God can give us the right to become sons of God. Only God can effect the new creation. Sinful man cannot but taint the soul. God must rescue the soul, and make it new.

The Savior must be God-man. He had to be man in order to obey, submit, and suffer. (1 Timothy 2:5l3:16) He had to be God at the same time in order to have his obedience, submission, and suffering to be of sufficient value for the redemption of the elect. He had to be God at the same time in order to be able to bear the fierceness of divine wrath and conquer death by his resurrection. The power of God had to support the human nature to offer it as a sacrifice.


Chapter 5: Of the Suretyship and Satisfaction of Christ.

Jesus Christ is called our “Surety” because he made satisfaction to God for us. The Socinians define satisfaction as “partial satisfaction,” where man must take up the rest of the story. The Biblical definition of satisfaction is complete satisfaction.

Christ could, without injury or disgrace to himself, perform the satisfaction to God for us. He was lord of his life; able to lay His life down for others (John 10:18) As the God-man He could endure the punishment and perform an obedience of such value as to be more than equivalent to the obedience of all the elect. His life and death demonstrated an incomprehensible love for God and men. His taking on human flesh was not injurious to His deity since He did not cease from being God.

God the Father was able to accept the satisfaction of Christ because it satisfied the character and nature of God. It satisfied also the truth of God, the goodness of God, the justice of God, and the holiness of God – because it demonstrated the glory of God.

The relationship between the suretyship of Christ and the law is also important to observe. The law was not abrogated or derogated in any fashion. The law says that perfect obedience is required for eternal life and that every sinner who is not saved will suffer eternal death. The law does not state that the very person to be saved must perform the perfect righteousness or punishment. The law does not state that the punishment must be infinite with respect to duration. It was, though, fully satisfied by Christ (Rom. 8:4Isa. 53:2John 8:29,46). It was not unjust for Christ to be punished for us because God can lay the punishment for sin upon Christ, and Jesus willingly laid down his life for our sins. We must remember that it is God who determines what is just and not our intellectual reason.

The obedience of Christ was for our own good. His miracles demonstrated the truthfulness of his message. His holy life was an example to us (1 Pet. 2:21). His holy life pointed the way to heaven (Heb. 12:14). The obedience of Christ was performed by Him in our stead in order that we might receive eternal life (Rom. 5:16-19) and it was sufficient for all. His deity enabled his obedience to be of inestimable value for the elect. His humanity enabled Him to obey in our place. It should be noted that the obedience of Christ did not abrogate our responsibility to obey the law.


Chapter 6: What Sufferings of Christ are Satisfactory.

All the sufferings of Christ during his humiliation are satisfactory for the elect and before God’s judgment seat. The Scripture speaks of the satisfactory sufferings of Christ in general terms (Isa. 53:1-7Heb. 2:105:8-91 Pet. 2:21). The actual death of Christ is considered part of the satisfaction (Isa. 53:10Matt. 20:18John 10:151 Pet. 3:18Col. 1:21-22Rom. 5:10Heb. 9:15Rom. 8:34). This is what we call a typological argument for this: the typical satisfaction was effected by the shedding of blood of the animal, thereby requiring separation of body and soul (Heb. 10:20) The veil (Christ’s body) had to be rent which was done when he died as a sacrifice on the cross. Christ’s physical sufferings (e.g. his scourging) are accounted as part of the satisfaction (Isa. 53:51 Pet. 2:24) Christ’s sufferings in the garden of Gethsemane are also considered part of His satisfaction. And it should be noted that His sufferings would violate the justice of God if they were not endured in our place.

Some argue that Christ’s sufferings were not all satisfactory. However, Witsius responds to the arguments from Scripture. He says that the death of Christ was the completion of all of his sufferings. Christ was always a priest and mediator (Luke 2:49) since His birth though he was not publicly inaugurated until the thirtieth year. Moreover, the year is with reference to Levites and not priests. Christ’s offering was completed on the cross but He was before that the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Moreover, by their reasoning Christ would have had to die at one year old. Christ was still the beloved Son of God even while hanging on the cross. The creeds and Catechisms teach this also.

Chapter 7: Of the Efficacy of Christ’s Satisfaction.

The efficacy of Christ’s satisfaction is twofold. First, Christ obtained for himself, as Mediator, a right to all of the elect (Ps. 2:8Isa. 53:10). Christ obtained for the elect immunity from all misery and a right to eternal life to be applied to them (Matt. 26:28Gal. 1:4Tit. 2:14). Christ did not achieve a bare possibility of salvation but actual salvation for His elect. The idea of redemption, ransom and price of redemption infers the reality and not possibility of salvation. Scripture declares that the proximate effect of redemption is actual salvation (Rom. 3:24Eph. 1:7Col. 1:14Heb. 9:121 Cor. 6:20Acts 20:28Gal. 4:4-5). Scripture does not speak of Christ’s death as a possibility of the remission of sins or a hypothetical possibility, for it is absurd to believe that Christ died for one who would eventually be sent to hell. And, since possibility may never become reality, Christ may never receive the promise given to him by the Father. However, in terms of timing, the benefits of salvation are not bestowed upon the elect before effectual calling, faith, repentance, and actual union with Christ.

James Arminius argues against an actual salvation of God’s elect by Christ’s death. He says that God has full right to impart those benefits to whom he thinks proper, and on what conditions he is pleased to prescribe. He argues that if Christ’s death accomplished salvation for the elect then “they are entitled to ask those benefits of God, in right payment and purchase made, without God’s having any right to require of them faith in Christ and conversion to God.” Also, “The righteousness wrought out by Christ is not ours as wrought out, but as imputed to us by faith.”

Witsius answers Arminius’ charges. First, God is bound to his promise. Faith and repentance are part of the blessings (Eph. 1:3) bestowed upon the elect on the merit of Christ’s satisfaction. Faith and repentance are not requisite conditions before some effects of Christ’s death are communicated to a person, e.g. regeneration. Secondly, God’s elect can boldly ask for blessings because of what Christ has done. No one can ask for those blessings unless he has first been converted. Thus, God cannot require faith and obedience as the means to earn the right to ask for eternal life. This is based upon the person and work of Christ alone. Thirdly, faith is considered as applying the already accomplished salvation. It is the result of Christ’s mediation. Salvation is ours with respect to its right in Christ before we are saved and ours by possession when we believe, otherwise known as passive and active justification which are vital for salvation.

Chapter 8: Of the Necessity of Christ’s Satisfaction.

Was Christ’s satisfaction necessary, or could have it have been done in another manner? The real issue at stake with regard to this controversy is not the absolute power of God. We must not ask if God by an act of His power could have saved man another way. That would be to overthrow divine revelation. God can do nothing but that which is consistent with his holiness, justice, truth and the rest of his attributes.

The real issue is the holiness and justice of God. Was Christ’s satisfaction for salvation of the elect owing to the mere good pleasure of God or was it necessary to satisfy the justice and holiness of God?

The following may be set forth as real and true arguments in favor of the necessity of Christ’s satisfaction. First, an unnecessary satisfaction is contrary to the goodness, wisdom and holiness of God. Second, an unnecessary satisfaction mitigates against the Scripture’s stress on the great love of God as demonstrated in the giving of his Son. Third, Christ’s satisfaction was a declaration of the righteousness of God which cannot be overthrown (Rom. 3:25). Fourth, animal sacrifices could not atone for sin (Heb. 10:1,4,11) only the sacrifice of Christ could atone for sin. Fifth, Hebrews 10:26 infers that sacrifice is necessary for pardon. Sixth, the necessary satisfaction of Christ exalts the attributes of God. Seventh, the necessary satisfaction of Christ promotes Christian piety. Eighth, the necessary satisfaction of Christ does not detract from any of God’s attributes.

Chapter 9: Of the Persons for whom Christ Engaged and Satisfied.

Particular atonement is the cornerstone to the Covenant of Redemption and its execution. Christ’s satisfaction was sufficient for all, though the Scriptures do not make mention of a hypothetical possibility of how Christ could have saved all. Rather, Scripture demonstrates exactly what Christ did. Yet, it should be noted that Christ, as man, loved all men according to the commandment. Also, Christ’s satisfaction has brought much good even to the reprobate in the manner in which it has affected society in general, or by way of what we would call common grace. In terms of the reach of the Gospel and the atonement extended to men, the Gospel is freely offered to all without distinction. Even though these truths about the general affects of the death of Christ in the world may be true, Christ only died for the elect.

There is ample Scriptural support for the doctrine of particular atonement. The “all” of 2 Cor. 5:15Heb. 2:9Col. 1:20, and 1 Tim. 2:6 is restricted to the elect, which means exegetical work is needful in order to understand the passages in question. The term “world” in such passages as 1 John 2:2 refers to “the collective body of believers or of the elect.” Specifically, the Scripture says that Christ died for his sheep, his church, his people, and his peculiar people (cf. John 10:15Acts 20:28Eph. 5:25Tit. 2:14). The accomplishment of Redemption is only as extensive as its application which means it can only be applied to the elect and was for them alone; Tit. 2:14. The accomplishment necessitates application as is implied in the words “ransom” and “bought.” Also, the use of marriage to describe the relationship between Christ and his church is penetrating in its typological application (Eph., 5:25). The sacrifices in the Old Testament which were a type of the sacrifice of Christ were designed for Israel alone and not for all people. Even for one to say that the satisfaction of Christ was for all men, is ludicrous since having Christ die for the reprobate is unworthy of the wisdom, goodness, and justice of God.


Chapter 10: After what manner Christ used the Sacraments.

It is important to study the role of the Sacraments in the life of Christ since they help us to see the nature of the Covenant of Redemption between Him and the Father, as previous noted. The use of the sacraments was not a matter of choice but a duty incumbent upon Christ to fulfill as righteousness, as He so told John the Baptist.

For Christ, the sacraments were signs and seals of the covenant between God the Father and God the Son. It demonstrated the benefits of salvation for His church and that they were promised to Christ. As a result of these promises, Christ promised to faithfully redeem the elect.

The sacraments which Christ used were circumcision, baptism, the Passover, and the Lord’s Supper. Christ is set in the center of transition from the Old Testament covenantal sacraments to the New Testament covenantal sacraments and partook of them all before God. Not because he was sinful and needed remission, but because He is the Lord over those sacraments and instituted them for our benefit, as well as fulfilling all righteousness in His pact or agreement with the Father.

Book 3: of the Covenant of Grace or the Covenant of God with the Elect

Chapter 1: Of The Covenant of God with the Elect.

The contracting parties of the Covenant of Grace are God and the Elect. God is to be considered in this covenant as all sufficient in Himself for sinful man. He is merciful and gracious to sinful man (Ex. 34:6-7). He is “just” to enter into a relationship with sinners. He is wise to be able to enter a relationship with sinners because he knows exactly how to enter into a beneficial relationship based on wisdom (Eph. 3:10).

The Elect are to be considered as lost miserable sinners (Tit. 3:4-5). They are chosen by God to grace and glory, and they are those for whom Christ died.

In terms of the roles that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit play in redeeming men, we term this the economic roles of the Trinity. The Father is the principle author of salvation (2 Cor. 5:19) and appointed the elect to be heirs of himself and co-heirs with his Son (Rom. 8:17). The Son is the Mediator, Testator and distributor (John 10:28) of all the blessings acquired in this engagement. The Spirit applies, signs, and seals the blessings to the elect.

The covenant with the elect is restricted to the invisible, spiritual communion of the covenant of Grace. There are promises to them in this part of the covenant. Salvation itself and the means leading to it are promised to them (Jer. 31:33). This is an important notification, in that, in the Covenant of Grace the elect receive blessings based on promises but the reprobate who covenant with God receive cursings as a result.

There are important differences between the promises of the Covenant of Works and Covenant of Grace. Only eternal life was promised in the Covenant of Works. Eternal life and the means to receive it are promised in the Covenant of Grace.

There are conditions of obtaining the benefits of the Covenant of Grace. It is important to define the idea of a condition: a condition is that action, which being performed gives a man a right to the reward. According to the definition, there are no conditions in the covenant of grace. No man has a right to the reward. The Covenant of Grace is a unilateral covenant that is sovereignly administered by God. Whatever can be conceived as a condition is all included in the universality of the promises. Thus, these “conditions” are not so much conditions of the covenant as of the assurance that we shall continue in the covenant.

The role of faith in the Covenant of Grace is important as a means to assurance. Eternal life is promised to all those who believe even as it was promised to all those who obeyed in the Covenant of Works. Faith is not a condition properly so-called. Faith is the way, instrument, or means by which we receive the promises of eternal life. The difference between obedience in the Covenant of Works and faith in the Covenant of Grace is the difference between giving and receiving. However, there are still threats in the Covenant of Grace. The threatenings of the Covenant of Grace are derived from the law from which every curse proceeds.

Chapter 2: Of the Oneness of the Covenant of Grace, as to its Substance.

Against Dispensationalism, there is a oneness of the Covenant of Grace. The Old and New Covenants are different with respect to “circumstantials.” However, the Old and New Covenants are the same with respect to their “substance.”

The Oneness between the Old and New Testaments is of continuity. The one and same eternal life was promised to those in both covenants. The Old Testament does not put forth a different means of salvation than the New Testament. For example, there is New Testament evidence of the resurrection (John 5:39Acts 24:14-15Matt. 22:29). Yet, there is also Old Testament evidence of the resurrection as well (Gen. 49:19Job 19:25-27Dan. 12:2) Old Testament saints were saved by Christ as were New Testament saints (Acts 15:11Heb. 13:89:15) (Note also the necessary implication from John 14:6Acts 4:12).

Old Testament saints were saved by faith as were New Testament saints (Hab. 2:4Gen. 15:6Ps. 2:12Isa. 27:5Heb. 11). The faith of Old Testament saints was not a general faith but faith in Christ – the only way a man can be saved (John 8:56Heb. 11:261 Pet. 1:11).

For example, it is helpful to look at Gal. 3:23 to see its interpretation of this. “Faith” here cannot mean that faith in Christ is new because Paul uses Abraham as an example for us; Gal. 3:6,7,9. Faith is meant as the faith of the redemption already completed as opposed to the hope of the Old Testament saints.

Chapter 3: Of the Different Economies or Dispensations of the Covenant of Grace.

We have seen there is a similarity between the two Testaments which cannot be overlooked. However, there are still some differences, otherwise there would not be an Old Testament and a New Testament. The difference consists in the administration of the testaments, not the actual substance of the testaments themselves. The “circumstantial” differences of the testaments is what is in view here. In the Old Testament the promised land was a pledge of heaven. Bondage to the elements of the world was a factor, and the exclusion of the Gentiles was seen in Israel as a nation that looked inward instead of outwardly. There also seemed to be a less measure of the Spirit of grace in extent since it was bound to the leaders of a specific nation, and to certain individuals.

In the New Testament such grace expands and the extent of the Spirit widens. We find the inheritance of the Gentiles taking place, the reality of freedom in our Christian liberty, a more plentiful measure of grace abounding by missionary endeavors.

In terms of outlining the different dispensations of the Old Testament, we may break them down into the time periods surrounding Adam to Noah, Noah to Abraham, Abraham to Moses, Moses to the New Covenant.


Chapter 4: Of Election.

We must define election as “the eternal, free, and immutable counsel of God, about revealing the glory of his grace, in the eternal salvation of some certain persons.” It should set forth certain distinct characteristics that are noteworthy. Election is the counsel of God or decree (2 Tim. 1:9Eph. 1:11Rom. 8:289:11). It is important to distinguish between internal and external election, that is, the invisible and visible church that has specific ramifications on how one understands the Covenant of Grace.

Election is personal. It is not some general decree but a particular designation of certain individual persons to be saved. The term “predestinate” means to point out or ordain a certain person (Acts 17:3110:42Rom. 1:4Luke 10:20Phil. 4:32 Tim. 2:19;

John 13:18). Election is eternal (Acts 11:18Eph. 1:11,4Rev. 13:817:8; 2 Tim.l:9; 2 Thess. 2:13). Election is also unconditional based on the decree. Scripture asserts that the free will of God was the supreme reason or cause of election (Matt. 11:26Luke 12:32Rom. 9:21). It asserts that foreseen good in man was not a reason for election (Rom. 9:112 Tim. 1:9). The purpose or result of election is faith and holiness and thus, they cannot be the cause (Eph. 1:4John 15:162 Thess. 2:13). Election is also immutable for immutability belongs to all the decrees of God in general (Isa. 14:2746:10Rom. 9:19). God’s decree is not suspended on a condition. If a condition is involved, the condition itself is at the same time decreed. The Scriptures ascribe immutability to the divine election; (Rom. 9:112 Tim. 2:19Isa. 49:15-16Rev. 3:5Isa. 4:3).

Election and assurance are knit together. Assurance is made possible because of God’s election without which we would never be assured of our salvation. To attain the assurance of election we need to apply the marks of election to ourselves. Here we find the marks as effectual calling by the word and Spirit of God (Rom. 8:30), faith in God and Christ (2 Thess. 2:13), hatred of evil (2 Tim. 2:19), the sincere and constant study of holiness (Eph. 1:42 Thess. 2:13), and the internal witness of the Spirit (Rom. 8:16Eph. 1:13).

Chapter 5: Of Effectual Calling.

What is effectual Calling? It is “an act by which those, who are chosen by God, and redeemed by Christ, are sweetly invited, and effectually brought from a state of sin to a state of communion with God in Christ, both externally and internally.” There is a difference between the effectual call and the external call.

The external manifestation of God’s power which renders men without excuse is proclaimed by natural revelation. The message of natural revelation (Psa. 19:1-4) is to pursue heaven and eternity, and to seek after God. It also tells us that there is some hope of enjoying God due to the patience (2 Pet. 3:9) and goodness (Rom. 2:4) of God. We cannot enjoy God unless we pursue purity and holiness.

There are limits to the effectual nature of natural revelation. It renders men without excuse, but is not sufficient for salvation.

The external call of God in the Gospel for salvation is proclaimed by special revelation, not natural revelation. Natural revelation provides the backdrop for special revelation, where special revelation is necessary for salvation (Rom. 10:14). The Gospel call is given in different ways and degrees over the course of history. But it was never universal since some have never heard it (like the native in the African bush). The call contains the command to believe in Christ. In order for it to be saving, though, the external call of special revelation must be accompanied by the internal call to be effectual.

The internal call of God is the exercise of God’s infinite power, by which he converts the soul no less powerfully than sweetly. God’s internal call does not interfere with the freedom of man to make men puppets, but rather, he makes them willing with a new heart. In order to understand this, we need to distinguish between the common operations of the Spirit and the moral and supernatural actions of the Spirit. The Spirit grieves over the moral turpitude of men (this is as accommodation takes place in biblical revelation), but in His supernatural actions, He consistently fulfills His will.

Chapter 6: Of Regeneration.

Regeneration is that supernatural act of God, whereby a new and divine life is infused into the elect person who is spiritually dead, and that from the incorruptible seed of the word of God, made fruitful by the infinite power of the Spirit. Men are under the condemnation of spiritual death which is a separation and alienation from God. It makes men insensible of all spiritual things and wholly incapable of any act of true life.

The word regeneration can be used in different ways. It is the first act of passing from death to life, and in this sense accomplished in a moment. There is no intermediate state between the regenerate and the unregenerate, for Scripture divides all of mankind into two classes, sheep and goats (Matt. 25:2-3). Regeneration can also be seen as the second act or the manifestation of spiritual life. Sometimes spiritual life manifests itself slowly as in regenerated infants. Therefore, a person cannot always determine when he was saved.

Can there be “Preparations” for regeneration? The Semi-Pelagian view says yes – the sinner prepares or comes to be regenerated by seeking, asking, repenting, sorrowing for sin, etc. However, the Scriptures teach that a dead man or bad tree can do nothing to prepare himself for grace. The “Reformed” view concerning preparations to regeneration concerns the breaking of the will, a serious consideration of the law, a consideration of their own sins and offences against God and a fear of hell and a despairing of their salvation. The differences between this view from the Semi-Pelagian view is that these preparations are not “preparations” of grace but effects or fruits of regeneration. These “preparations” performed by the reprobate, no matter how they may appear, are still consistent with spiritual death and do not lead or prepare for conversion, for a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. There are no “preparations” for regeneration in the sense of an act of passing from death to life. There are, though, different degrees in regard to spiritual death.

The author of regeneration is God (John 1:13). Christ is God and the author of regeneration but also the meritorious and exemplary cause of our regeneration. The Holy Spirit is the immediate author of regeneration (John 3:5).

The seed of regeneration is the word of God. Regeneration does not always appear to operate in the same manner as is clear in the case of infants. So, it is incumbent upon all men to place themselves under the teaching of the word of God. A person must encourage and nurture the beginning of grace in his life by engaging in the means of grace.

Chapter 7: Of Faith. I. The acts of faith.

When we talk about faith, we are talking about the knowledge of the things to be believed. Knowledge must be a apart of faith or faith cannot exist. Scripture testifies that faith involves knowledge (Isa. 53:11John 17:3 cp. Heb. 2:4John 6:692 Tim. 1:3). The very nature of faith dictates knowledge, for assent to something presupposes knowledge. Faith is produced externally from the preaching of the word and internally by the teaching of the Holy Spirit. The amount of knowledge will vary from believer to believer. The increase of knowledge strengthens faith.

What do men need to believe in order to be saved? The things that must be believed in order to be saved are the divinity of the Scriptures, certain truths with respect to salvation in Christ, knowledge of your sin, and Christ as the only Savior. The salvation offered in understanding these things is obtained through faith. Faith is then assent to and conviction of the truths of the gospel (Heb. 11:1). This is a true conviction based upon the truth of God. In this regard men should have a love of the truth (2 Thess. 2:10) and a hunger and thirst after Christ.

What is non-saving faith? One may have a historical faith which is theoretical or naked assent. Temporary faith engages the heart but only for a time. These are not true faith. What, then, is the difference? Non-saving faith does not properly see the beauty of, or love of, the truth, and does not engage in self-examination. The “joy” of non-saving faith arises from novelty and rarity of the truth, which does not produce the love of God, nor produce proper fruit.

Even though hypocritical faith may be found in men, assurance of faith is possible (2 Tim. 1:122 Cor. 13:5). One must examine himself according to the acts of faith so they can be assured by the promises of God. Sometimes believers do doubt. Causes of this can be a wrong notion of saving faith, or their inability to properly discern the proper acts of one’s own heart, or comparing one’s faith with the level of faith that is aspired. When we do gain true assurance, it produces gratefulness to God. It also is a wonderful consolation for ourselves, and produces piety and obedience.

Chapter 8: Of Justification

What does the term “justify” mean? When we use this in a normative sense, it means “to account, declare, or prove” (Psa. 82:3Deut. 25:1Prov. 17:15Isa. 5:22-23Psa. 51:4Matt. 11:19Luke 7:29). It is used with reference to particular actions of men as well (Psa. 106:30-31Jer. 3:11Ez. 16:31. It is used with reference to the state of man.

In terms of a helpful definition for salvation, “It is a judicial, but gracious act of God, whereby the elect and believing sinner, is absolved from the guilt of his sins, and hath a right to eternal life adjudged to him, on account of the obedience of Christ, received by faith.”

God is the Judge who declares a sinner righteous. God the Father (Rom. 8:33Isa. 43:25Jam. 4:12Rom. 3:6), God the Son (John 5:22,27Matt. 9:2), and the Spirit applies and seals salvation to believers (1 Cor. 2:12Rom. 8:16). The ground (or matter) of justification is the perfect righteousness of Christ alone (2 Cor. 5:21). There is nothing that we add to the righteousness of Christ for our justification (Gal. 2:21).

The form of justification consists in the discharging of unrighteousness and the adjudging of righteousness which includes the forgiveness of sins and the right to eternal life. The instrument by which we receive the righteousness of Christ and justification is by faith alone (Gal. 2:16Rom. 3:28). We are justified by faith not in the sense that faith replaces obedience, for faith is not strictly a condition of justification. The Reformed creeds say otherwise in certain senses. Faith is not a work that merits justification, for the condition of justification is perfect obedience (which was completed in Christ). The genuine opinion of the reformed is this: that faith justifies, as it is the bond of our strictest union with Christ, by which all things that are Christ’s become also ours or… as it is the acceptance of the gift offered, rendering the donation firm and irrevocable. And the uses of the doctrine of justification are to display the glory, goodness, justice and wisdom of God. This should remove all boasting from the sinner (Isa. 64:61 Cor. 4:7).

Chapter 9: Of Spiritual Peace.

Spiritual Peace is a mutual concord between God and the sinner, who is justified by faith; so that the heart of God is carried out towards man, and in like manner, the heart of man towards God, by a delightful inclination of friendship. The origin of spiritual peace is God who originates peace with man. It is the direct result of His mercy and love. God seeks man and freely offers peace to all men. With the Elect, God subdues them and saves them.

The consequence of spiritual peace is friendship with God. Peace of conscience is a direct result (Rom. 14:7Eph. 3:12), as is peace with fellow believers, the angels and with the whole of creation (Isa. 14:11-12Hos. 2:18).

Man’s role with regard to spiritual peace is that he should seek spiritual peace by confessing his sins before God and to believe in Christ alone for reconciliation with God. He should humbly submit himself to God and recall he has a responsibility in preserving spiritual peace. This is accomplished through daily love for God (John 14:21), frequent communion with God, to walk in obedience to God (John 14:23), return to God when you fall into sin (Jer. 3:22), and to submit to God’s providence in our life.

Spiritual peace can also be interrupted. Believers can never completely lose peace with God but the sense of peace with God can be interrupted. God does not always draw near (Isa. 8:17Ps. 10:12) and at times is displeased with his children (Ps. 80:4). He can also be angry with his children (Ps. 88:16-18Isa. 57:17) and may deal with us as an adversary (Job 13:24-27). He may give us over to be vexed and buffeted by the devil (Job 2:6). This may be the cause of demonstrating His sovereignty (Matt. 10:15), to show the difference between this life and the one to come, to demonstrate the excellence of his grace or to demonstrate the power and goodness of God in preserving the soul through many trials and sorrows.

From man’s perspective it may be that we see ourselves guilty of a grievous sin (Isa. 63:10), or lack of fearing God. At times we are carnally secure with pride, or believe we are unworthy of the acceptance of divine grace.

What can one do to retrieve the sense of peace with God? First, we should discover the reason or cause and remedy it if we can (Lam. 3:40). We should renew our faith and repentance, be much in prayer for help and wait patiently upon God to restore us (Lam. 3:26).

Chapter 10: Of Adoption

Adoption is the doctrine of teaching the Christian how one becomes a “son of God.” All believers are sons of God (1 John 3:1-2). (Adam was a son of God in a different sense than this (Luke 3:38)). But how do the elect become children of God? They must be born of God (John 1:12-13). It is enacted by marriage with the Lord Jesus.

It is important to note the relationship between the Old and New Testament in terms of adoption. Old Testament believers were adopted as sons though placed under tutelage. They were not admitted into the mysteries of God’s will and unable to approach the holy of holies. Their typological inheritance was the land of Canaan. In the New Testament believers are not subject to Old Testament tutelage. They are introduced into the Father’s secret counsels and have free access to the Father. Their inheritance is tangible and not typological.

The blessings given to the sons of God are extraordinary blessings (1 Cor. 2:9). They come from the glory of our elder brother, Jesus Christ. These are great and precious promises indeed (2 Pet. 1:4). We will receive the whole world; both present and future; a spiritual kingdom; the dignity of being a son of God; victory over sin (Rom. 6:14,18), the witness of the crushing of Satan (Rom. 16:20), triumph over a whole conquered world, the inestimable riches of spiritual gifts and the peace of soul and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14:17). The greatest gift is God Himself. He is the Protection from every evil and the Communication of every good.

Chapter 11: Of The Spirit of Adoption.

The Spirit of adoption is the Holy Spirit, operating those things in the elect which are suitable to, and becoming, of the sons of God, who love God, and are beloved by Him. In the Old Testament the Holy Spirit was bestowed upon believers (Num. 14:24Neh. 9:20Ps. 143:1051:10-12Isa. 63:8,11). It is fallacious to say that the Holy Spirit was not given until the New Testament for that would overthrow the saint’s salvation.

We should note the work of the Spirit that is common in both testament periods. There is the persuasion of the greatest love of the adopter (Psa. 4:731:751:1436:7-963:5). God also instills an obedience due to filial love (Ps. 81:1116:1119:10). He gave an expectation of the inheritance to come (Psa. 17:2531:19). It must be noted, though that the work of the Spirit in the Old Testament was more rare and sparing and mixed with much terror. The Covenant of Grace was revealed more obscurely, there and therefore, the operations of the Spirit were obscure – they were so obscure, comparatively speaking, that the Spirit is said not to have been under the Old (John 7:39). The Holy Spirit is promised in the Old Testament which leads some to believe He was not in operation at that time (Isa. 35:6-744:3Ez. 34:26-27Joel 2:28Zech. 14:8).

The work of the Spirit of adoption enables believers to cry “Abba, Father” (Rom. 8:15-16). Together with our spirit He bears witness that we are children of

God (Rom. 8:15-16).

When we think about being adopted, the testimony of our conscience must be well grounded and based upon the marks of a child of God. These marks are the imitation of our Father, a new life that is worthy of God and His grace, a true and sincere love for God, a filial fear and obedience (Mal. 1:61 Pet. 1:17) and an unfeigned brotherly love. We ought to examine ourselves according to those marks to see if we posses them.

Chapter 12: Of Sanctification.

What does it mean to be holy? Holiness is that which is separated from a promiscuous and civil, but especially from a profane use (Lev. 20:262 Cor. 6:17). It is whatever is dedicated to, or set apart for God and his service (Ex. 30:2919:51 Chron. 23:13). It demonstrates that which is pure. In terms of the present study, sanctification is that real work of God, by which they, who are chosen, regenerated, and justified, are continually more and more transformed from the turpitude of sin, to the purity of the divine image.

There is a difference between sanctification and effectual calling. The effect of effectual calling is union with Christ. The effect of Sanctification is the exercise of holy habits and graces. The difference between sanctification and justification is that justification is a judicial act, terminating in a relative change of state; namely, a freedom from punishment and a right to life, and sanctification is a work which terminates in a change of state as to the quality both of habits and actions. Broadly speaking, it refers to the whole of man’s salvation. Narrowly speaking, it refers to the above definition.

The process or work of Sanctification is to first put off or mortify the old man (Col. 2:9Eph. 4:22). The second step is to put on or vivification of the new man (Col. 3:10Eph. 4:24). The three aspects of the Christian life surround grace, faith and love, but the goal or end of holiness is the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31).

The means of sanctification is the word of God and devout meditation of it (John 17:17). It must be daily read, heard in preaching (Rom. 10:14,15,17), kept, valued and be used in times of temptation.

In terms of the extent of holiness, we cannot attain unto perfection in this life (the doctrine of Perfectionism – 1 Kings 8:46Eccl. 7:28Prov. 20:9Jam. 3:21 John 1:8).

The cause of imperfection is our indwelling flesh or corruption (Gal. 5:17Rom. 7:15-16). “Flesh” refers to remaining corruption, which abides in the whole man (body and soul) but its principal seat is in the soul itself. The war within is not between body and soul but between sanctifying grace and the remains of natural corruption.

God does not grant perfection to us in this life in order to display the difference between heaven and earth, to teach us patience, humility, and sympathy, to teach that salvation is by grace alone, and to demonstrate the wisdom of God. This is a perfection in degrees which we will not achieve ultimately until glory.

Chapter 13: Of Conservation.

Conservation is a gracious work of God, whereby He so keeps the elect, the redeemed, the regenerated, the faithful and the sanctified, though in themselves weak, and apt to fall away, internally by the most powerful efficacy of his Spirit, externally by the means which He has wisely appointed for that purpose, that they shall never quite lose the habits of those graces once infused into them, but be certainly brought, by a steadfast perseverance, to eternal salvation.

The Trinity is involved in every area of conversion. God the Father predestined the elect to eternal salvation and gave believers to Christ for his inheritance (Ps. 2:8John 17:610:29). God promised to not allow the elect to fall from grace to their eternal destruction (Isa. 54:10Jer. 32:38-4031:31-33). He keeps His elect by His almighty power (1 Pet. 1:5). God the Son keeps those whom He bought with his blood (John 17:12). Christ prays that the elect would be kept safe (John 17:15,20). He builds his house with real stones (1 Pet. 2:5) which do not crumble. Jesus unites the elect (corporately and individually) to Himself and they are safe (Eph. 5:23). God the Holy Spirit continually abides in believers (John 14:16-17). He is the spring of eternal life in the elect and the Author of our seal confirming our salvation (Eph. 1:132 Cor. 1:21-222 Tim. 2:19). He gives to us a down payment of our eternal salvation (Eph. 1:14).

The method or means God uses to preserve us is His infinite and supernatural power, and His word containing promises, threatenings, exhortations, and admonitions to excite us to persevere in the faith.

The doctrine of conservation promotes piety and upholds truth. It promotes the power, goodness, holiness, and the efficacy of the merits and intercession of Christ, as well as the power of the Holy Spirit. This doctrine allures the unconverted, for the promise of eternal life is more sure and stable. The opposite doctrine promotes procrastinating repentance until the end of one’s life. This former doctrine motivates one to grow in holiness.

Chapter 14: Of Glorification.

Glorification is the gracious act of God, whereby He actually translates His chosen and redeemed people, from an unhappy and base state, to a happy and glorious one. Glorification is begun in this life with the first fruits and is consummated in the life to come. The first fruit of glorification is holiness and shadows of the vision of God which is apprehended by faith (2 Cor. 5:7Heb. 11:1), and an experimental sense of his goodness (Ps. 34:8). The gracious possession and enjoyment of God is the end of glorification, besides the glory of God in general (Ps. 145:15).

When we die, the human soul survives death (Matt. 22:32 (cf. Luke 20:38); Phil. 1:23Heb. 12:23; Luke 16; Psa. 31:5Acts 7:59Luke 23:43). The human soul lives, understands and feels either the favor or vengeance of God after death (Luke 20:38Matt. 17:3Phil. 1:232 Cor. 5:8Rev. 14:151 Cor. 15:1930-32).

Upon death, the souls of believers are received into heavenly joys and mansions (2 Cor. 5:1Luke 23:43). There is the joy of being with God and Christ in glory (John 12:2617:24), the joy of seeing God in the light of glory (Matt. 5:8), the joy of loving God, the joy of dwelling in holiness and glory, the joy more than inexpressible, more than glorious.

The blessedness of the eternal state for believers begins with the resurrection of the body (1 Cor. 15). The quality of the body will be changed and all infirmities will be removed. Only a spiritual or heavenly body will be able to inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 15:50); that is a body that does not require meat and drink. This is to show forth the greater glory in the perfections that God has manifested in His works. We will also see the redemption of all creation (Rom. 8:19-20), the divine judgment of the wicked, the gathering together of the elect as one perfect body, and the perfect conforming of us to the image of Christ. In this state the redemptive work of God shall be complete which will be immutable and eternal (Matt. 25:46Rom. 2:71 Pet. 5:41 Thess. 4:17).

There will also be a difference in quality and quantity of rewards among the elect, though heaven will be heaven for everyone (Rom. 2:62 Cor. 5:109:6Gal. 6:81 Cor. 3:8Matt. 19:28).

Book 4: Of the Benefits of Salvation

Chapter 1: Of the Doctrine of Salvation in the first age of the World

We find the first proclamation of the gospel in Gen. 3:14-15. Here the devil and not the serpent is condemned (cf. 2 Cor. 11:3Rev. 12:9Rom. 16:20). We then see God engaging in the blessings or benefits promised to man in this gospel. There will be the curse of the serpent, the destruction of the devil’s power, enmity placed between the serpent and the woman and her seed (which includes man’s sanctification) and the resurrection of the body. God alone is the author of these benefits, but the meritorious cause of these benefits is the seed of the woman. The Seed is used collectively but also in an eminent sense it refers to Jesus Christ. We must be sure we understand that it refers to both the lineage of the woman and the elect servant of God – Jesus Christ, Christ is therefore the meritorious cause of these benefits.

How will Christ gain such benefits? The manner of acquisition of these benefits are the sufferings of the Seed as indicated by “you will bruise his heel.” The heirs of the benefits are Adam and Eve, and the seed of the woman (i.e., the godly seed of the woman – Rom. 9:8). The seed of the woman shall be made partakers of the benefits through faith. This is indicated by the use of the common term “seed” which signifies our union with Christ which is by faith. It is also signified by the conquering of the devil which is performed by Christ as well as by the elect in Christ by faith.

Where do we see Adam’s faith? Adam’s faith is seen by calling his wife Eve, and Eve’s faith is demonstrated by her words of hope in the promise when Cain and Seth were born. However, one must be aware that Adam’s faith is seen prior to the fall, where Eve’s is consequent to the fall.

Chapter 2: Of The Doctrine of Grace under Noah.

There is a great amount of grace found in the naming of Noah. The righteous must contend with sin is the meaning behind his name. There is goodness and a sense of comfort to be expected as a result of Noah’s birth. God is the author of the good that will result from him. The doctrine of grace in the preaching of Noah should be noted. Noah was a preacher of righteousness as 2 Pet. 2:5 states. Noah preached the doctrine of salvation by the Spirit of Christ (1 Pet. 3:19-20). Grace is seen, then in his name, in his coming and in his preaching.

One may also see the doctrine of grace in the blessing with which Noah blesses his sons (Gen. 9:26-27). God is the author of blessing and Shem and his posterity are to be God’s peculiar people. The doctrine of election for the younger is preferred over the older which is seen through the entire bible. The sins of the fathers are visited upon their children as in the case of Canaan, and the curse. But godliness is even seen as profiting the soul and body as material blessings are promised to Japheth. The Church, then, can be seen in this blessing to Noah’s sons as it resides on the earth, for it should look forward to their permanent habitation in heaven. Also, it may be noted that the Divine majesty was to rise from the posterity of Shem and dwell in his tents. The Gentiles, especially the descendants of Japheth, were to be allured by the preaching of the gospel to the communion of the church of Israel. All these things show the doctrine of grace found in the blessing of Noah to his sons which is typological to the Church.

Chapter 3: Of the Doctrine of Grace from Abraham to Moses.

One of the most glorious times in the history of redemption is seen in the doctrine of grace under Abraham. Grace is seen in the appearances of God to Abraham. God calls him out of Ur (Gen. 12:1), and speaks to him at Shechem (Gen. 12:67) and in Bethel (Gen. 13:3-4). God promises a son and heir for him in time (Gen. 15) and gives him the sign of circumcision (Gen. 17:1). At one time, God also became his guest (Gen. 18:1). In Abraham’s trial, God also commanded him to offer up Isaac in sacrifice (Gen. 22:1).

Grace is vividly seen in the covenant God made with Abraham. The time of this covenant was 430 years before the Exodus (Gal. 3:17). The stipulation of the covenant was first the leaving his country that involved self-denial (Gen. 12:1). He was also to not fear which involved faith and love (Gen. 15:1). He also had to walk before God that involved holiness (Gen. 17:1).

The promises of the covenant were spiritual promises. We can divide them into general spiritual promises and special promises. General spiritual promises (Gen. 15:117:1,7) contained promises that would protect him against every evil, and that God Himself would be his reward. He would have communion with God and the continuance of His favor. The special spiritual promises to Abraham referred to him as the head and honorary father of all believers, for the Messiah would be his descendent, and he is the pattern of faith and blessing to those after him (Gen. 12:2-3). He had a promised seed which refers to Isaac (Gen. 21:12), Christ (Gal. 3:16), and all believers (Rom. 9:8).

Abraham had great faith in God. He was justified by faith alone (Gen. 15:6Rom. 4:3;

Gal. 3:6). The object of his faith was the promises made to him (Rom. 4:20-21) and the promises found in Christ (John 8:56). The promises made to Abraham were confirmed to Isaac and Jacob.


Chapter 4: Of the Decalogue.

The deliverance of the Ten Commandments to men is a great revelation in the character of God. The Trinity (God) is to be acknowledged as Law-giver. Moses was a minister of God (Deut. 33:45:4-6Lev. 26:46Mal. 4:4John 1:17). The time is fifty days after the Exodus and the place was Mount Sinai (Deut. 5:2Ex. 3:1). The manner of the giving of the law was accompanied with signs of thunder, lightning, smoke, and earthquakes (Ex. 19:16,18Deut. 4:11Heb. 12:18). God gave the law in this way to proclaim the majesty of the Law-giver and instill the fear of God in the people so that they might obey (Ex. 20:20). The Law given consisted of ten words (Ex. 34:18Deut. 4:13). This Law was a prescription of duties which threatened judgment as a result of disobedience derived from the covenant of works. The Promises in this Law for obedience derived from the covenant of grace. When God gave it to Moses it was written by the finger of God and called the tablets of testimony (Ex. 24:1231:18Deut. 9:10Ex. 31:1834:29).

The Decalogue is the same as the law of nature therefore it is always binding. God’s authorship requires us to obey. There is only one church, one kingdom, one king, and one law which remains binding to all (Eph. 2:14Rom. 11:17). Even the New Testament confirms the binding nature of the law (Matt. 5:17Rom. 13:9James 2:8-11Eph. 6:2). The uses of the law are either seen in itself or absolutely. It is a representation of virtue, goodness, and holiness, and the way in which man can have glorious communion with God (Lev. 18:5Rom. 7:10). Yet, this law is still a command of God binding everyone upon the pain of death. In the pre-fallen state of man it was the rule of obedience. In the fallen state of man it is imperative to discover and convince man of his sin (Rom. 3:20) and bring them to Christ. It demonstrates to us what Christ had to do on our behalf.

The Decalogue was a covenant and is called a covenant (Ex. 34:28Deut. 5:24:139:9). This covenant contained stipulations (Ex. 19:5-6), and promises (Ex. 20:12). There was a repetition of the doctrine concerning the law of the covenant of works in this new pronouncement and was to convict people of sin and drive them to Christ. This administration should not be confused with being a formal covenant of works. Even Paul does not consider the Mosaic cove­nant as works, for that is a perversion of the covenant.

Chapter 5: Of the Doctrine of the Prophets.

The Old Testament prophets spoke of the person and work of Christ which Christ Himself attests to (1 Pet. 1:10-11Acts 10:4326:22-23).

Witsius does not speak further on this subject. He says, “this subject has been, both formerly and lately, considered by the learned, and treated with such accuracy, that I have nothing to add.”

Chapter 6: Of the Types.

There are two senses to most things in the Old Testament, the literal sense or meaning and the mystical sense or meaning which points to Christ, in His person, states, offices, and works. They also point to his spiritual body, the church. In this we should be careful to interpret the types of the Old Testament properly and precisely. Not all types are explained in the New Testament even as not all prophecies are explained in the New Testament. We should have principled guidelines to all our interpretations of the Bible. The doctrine of Christ is the key of knowledge without which nothing can be savingly understood in Moses and the prophets (Lk. 11:42). We should use the New Testament to interpret the Old Testament so long as we rightly understand the context of the Old Testament and simply do not use part or partial information given that may be in the New Testament. We must be careful to interpret the kinds of types that we find: natural types, historical types, and legal types.

The natural types of the Old Testament refer to the creation of the world and the creation of man and woman.

The historical types of the Old Testament refer to the first age of the world. Abel represented Christ in his humiliation; Enoch represented Christ in his exaltation. In the second epoch Noah represented Christ, the ark represented Christ and the church, the flood represented Christ and the church, Isaac, Moses, and Aaron also.

The legal types of the Old Testament refer to the Ark of the Covenant and the day of expiation or atonement in Lev. 16.

Chapter 7: Of the Sacraments of Grace down to Abraham.

Sacraments, again, are those things that are given by God to man, to be seals of His covenant, or earnests and pledges of His favor. The sacraments of the first period is seen in the act of God’s grace when He made clothing for Adam and Eve as a result of the sacrifices. Adam and Eve had sinned, and God provided them with atonement based on sacrifice. Abel also offered acceptable sacrifices to God, which demonstrates God employed them to sacrifice to Him based on the need for cleansing from sin.

The priests were also in a typical manner “sureties” in so far as they approached God on behalf of man to offer sacrifices. God gives Sacraments to men, but God requires sacrifices from men. The priests offered up animals for atonement, which had to be without spot or blemish. Christ would later be offered up as the perfect sacrifice for men, without spot or blemish. Sins were laid upon these sacrifices (which made them substitutionary) and forgiveness was enacted as a result of the faith one had in what God required.

The sacrament of the second period was the rainbow. This sacrament was not formally and precisely a sacrament of the covenant of grace, rather it pointed to the reality of covenantal preservation for the whole earth. Rather, it was a confirmation and typical representation of the Covenant of Grace.

Chapter 8: Of Circumcision.

The divine institution of circumcision is exceedingly important to understand since it was a mark of the covenant of God in the flesh of His people and carries over into the spiritual and powerful realities in the death of Christ. Circumcision was first instituted to Abraham and his whole household (Gen. 17:llff). It was for males only in the material sense, but women are accounted in and with the men to be in the covenant federally as the seed passed through the procreative organ of the male. The reason for a male-only sign was that salvation is not dependent upon the sign. As a note, circumcision could be administered by anyone and was to be performed on the eighth day from birth.

The necessity of circumcision is demonstrated in that the refusal to circumcise would lead to excommunication (Gen. 17:14). This does not mean that infants dying uncircumcised after the eighth day perished. Again, the realties behind the sign are not tied to the act itself.

The spiritual signification of circumcision was that it is first a sign and seal of the covenant of God with Abraham (Gen. 17:11Rom. 4:11). There are three spiritual realties taught by circumcision: 1) our misery, 2) our redemption, and our returns of gratitude.

Circumcision was to be “an everlasting covenant” signifying to the end of that age or until the coming of the Messiah. Witsius says, “Circumcision was the sign and seal of this covenant; so that all, who duly submitted to this, according to God’s prescription, were solemnly declared by God himself to be partakers of the promises made to Abraham: and, at the same time openly avowed, that, by a lively faith, they received the promised Messiah, and expected from him blessings of every kind. And thus circumcision became to them a seal of the righteousness of faith, Rom. 4:11.” The reason it was abrogated is that it prefigured that which was to come in its fullness (Col. 2:17). Circumcision was the sign of regeneration, which would be fulfilled in the death of Christ, thus a bloody sacrifice was no longer needful after Christ, though the realties behind circumcision continue in every child regenerated before God. It was part of the wall of partition between Jews and Gentiles that has been abolished by Christ (Eph. 2:15Gal. 5:6). And, circumcision was not immediately abrogated, but gradually, which demonstrates the continuity and not discontinuity of the Covenant of Grace.


Chapter 9: Of the Passover.

“Passover” comes from the event where God, while he killed the first born

of the Egyptians, passed over the doors of the Israelites (Ex. 12:13). The place of the Passover was first in Egypt (Ex. 12:21), and second in the wilderness of Sinai (Numb. 9:5) then in the place of God’s choosing (or the Temple) (Deut. 16:5-6).

A lamb or kid was to be used for the Passover (Ex. 12:3). It had to be without blemish, male, and of the first year (Ex. 12:5). The lamb was prepared by setting it apart on the tenth day, was to be killed and its blood sprinkled on the doorposts. It was to be roasted thoroughly, then eaten (Ex. 12:9). The bones were not to be broken and the leftovers were to be burned.

The mystery or significance of the Passover is peculiar to Israel. It was a demonstration of the salvation of their firstborn sons, and the bitter herbs represented the bitter life under Pharaoh. The unleavened bread represented the bread of affliction in Egypt. The significance of the Passover to all believers in Christ is that He is our Passover Lamb (John 1:29,36). Christ was to be taken from among his brethren, was to be perfect and male (Jer. 31:22). The sufferings of Christ speak specifically this mystery. The lamb was to be killed by the whole congregation, and so likewise was Christ (Luke 23:18). The blood of the lamb was to be shed, likewise of Christ (1 Pet. 1:19). The lamb was to be cooked thoroughly, likewise Christ’s suffering was complete and sufficient where the roasting signifies the burning of the divine wrath, so the place of Christ’s sufferings is the same (Luke 12:33;

18:31). We need to be sprinkled with the blood of Christ, partake and eat of Him and share in his sufferings for the Gospel.

Chapter 10: Of the extraordinary Sacraments in the Wilderness

The sacraments in the wilderness were signs and types of God’s promises of salvation. Such is the Red Sea and the passage in the cloud (1 Cor. 10:1-2). “Under the cloud” refers to near, not literally under; but that meaning of “baptized in the cloud and in the sea” is what is important. It is used as baptism in a figurative sense. The sign of cloud and sea signify the same thing as baptism (1 Pet. 3:21). When the Israelites were baptized into Moses this means by Moses, not in him as in Christ. The spiritual significance of the cloud is a symbol of God’s gracious presence. It prefigured the future incarnation of the Son of God and signified God’s protection towards the elect. God in Christ takes on the evils that threaten his elect. This was given to all who passed through the clouds including the women and the children.

The sacrament of manna is also important to consider (1 Cor. 10:3). The name is derived from “he prepared, appointed, determined.” God used natural causes to make manna, but it was from God as the principal cause (Ex. 16:4,8,16Deut. 8:3,16Neh. 9:15,20,21). They were to gather it as instructed, and to gather a double portion for the Lord’s Sabbath. The mystery or spiritual significance of the manna was that it represented Christ as the bread of heaven (John 6:32).

Two other “sacraments” were the water from the rock, and the brazen serpent. The water from the rock signified Christ as one who gives us life (1 Cor. 10:4), and the brazen serpent represented Christ lifted up (John 3:14).


Chapter 11: Of the Blessings of the Old Testament.

God saved the people of Israel in electing them as a peculiar people (Deut. 7:6). Israel was the “first born of God”, the special treasure, and chosen to glory in God as their portion (Deut. 26:17). Out of this people the Messiah would come as an Israelite (Deut. 16:15,18).

The land of Canaan. was promised to Abraham and his descendants as a portion typifying heaven (Gen. 12:713:1515:7). It was a picture of our eternal inheritance (Numb. 14:21,23Ps. 95:11). Canaan was pleasant for it was God’s land and a picture of God’s grace (Deut. 7:7-84:37-38Ez. 16:6036:32). It was Joshua the liberator, not Moses (who represented law), who brought them into the land of Canaan.

The demonstration of the divine majesty was revealed tot hem at Mt. Sinai and Gods majesty was revealed in the pillar of cloud and fire, and in the cloud in the temple to demonstrate His affinity with His people.

Christ was pictured in the ceremonial law and the godly found much comfort, delight, and learned much from the ceremonial law. This does not mean that the ceremonial law was somewhat of a burden and part of the bondage of the Old Testament economy. It surely was. But it demonstrates the need of Christ until the coming of Christ.

God also gave the Israelites the Word of God through His prophets. The almost uninterrupted succession of inspired prophets is an amazing testimony to God’s goodness in that they could consult and learn the will of God. Moses was followed by a succession of prophets with the exception of some very few and short intervals (1 Sam. 3:12 Chron. 15:3).

Chapter 12: Of the Imperfections falsely ascribed to the Old Testament.

Some people make false accusations about the Old Testament. For instance, some say that there are no true or permanent benefits of salvation in the Old Testament. However, Christ bestowed on believers, even under the Mosaic economy, true benefits in and with the typical shadows. A mutable economy in some respects does not imply mutable in all respects. We should distinguish between salvation and the promise of salvation and not between salvation and temporal benefits. Christ’s promise was sufficient to bestow eternal salvation on Old Testament believers, otherwise the Old Testament does not speak of Christ and salvation at all.

Circumcision of the heart or regeneration is a New Testament blessing, which belongs “properly” to the Covenant of Grace, and thus was in the Old Testament (Deut. 30:6 refers to a period within the Old Testament).

Some say that the writing of the law on the heart is a New Testament blessing. This is nonsense. Old Testament saints had the law written on their hearts (Ps. 119:11,16,47). Old Testament saints loved God without fear with exceeding joy, which assumes the writing of the law on their hearts.

Some say that there is no proper forgiveness of sins in the Old Testament. This overthrows the very word of scripture in the Old Testament (Ps. 130:432103;

51; Ex. 34:7; cf. Jam. 2:21Rom. 4:2-3). Even Jesus forgave sins before He died on the cross which would have been properly fixed to the Old Testament (Matt. 9:2).

The difference between the Old Testament and New Testament refers to the actual transferring of sins upon Christ and the actual expiating of sin by Christ. It is a matter of time, not effectiveness.

Some say that adoption is a New Testament blessing, but it existed in the Old Testament (Job 34:36Isa. 63:16; cf. Gal. 4:4-7). Old Testament believers were considered and treated as young children and thus did not differ much from servants, but this does not negate true adoption.

Some say that peace of conscience is a New Testament blessing, but the Scriptures affirm that Old Testament believers had peace of conscience (Ps. 3:54:317:15). Their sin was forgiven which brought peace. Old Testament believers did not have the peace that comes from the ransom being fully paid but they did have peace knowing that they did not have to pay it and that the Messiah would one day do so. They were as much under the wrath of God and power of sin as we are in the New Testament. The difference only lies within the finished work of Christ which we look back to and they looked forward to.


Chapter 13: Of the real defects of the Old Testament.

What issues can we take with the Old Testament in reality concerning the defects of waiting for the Messiah to come? First, the cause of salvation was not completed. Secondly, There is an obscurity of the Old Testament economy in types and shadows. Thirdly, greater threatenings of the Law were seen and felt, and lesser promises of grace (Heb. 12:18). Fourthly, there was a real bondage to the ceremonial law which would be later abolished (Gal. 4:3,9).

Laws cannot in and of themselves make one perfect, and they had no elements of holiness in themselves. Their mystical significance pointed to Christ. They contained an element of enmity between God and Israel and Israel and the Gentiles. The gospel, though, later, was the epitome of freedom.

There was a work of the spirit of bondage in the Old Testament that taught that it was good to submit to the ceremonial laws. But, it should have forced them to seek the spiritual significance of the laws and not to cleave to the outward rite only. It should have inclined the wills of believers and taught them to long for the liberty of the new covenant.

In the Old Testament we also find a more “scanty” measure of the gifts of grace with respect to their extent among the people. God only called the nation of Israel to be His people. In that one nation, very few were partakers of saving grace (1 Cor. 10:5). They had little knowledge of spiritual mysteries, little abundance of spiritual consolations due to ceremonial laws. Old Testament believers had a hunger and thirst for a better condition according to God’s promise (John 8:56Matt. 13:17Heb. 11:13).

Chapter 14: Of the Abrogation of the Old Testament.

When the Gospel had come, the ceremonial law was abrogated. It was first founded on the free and arbitrary will of God, but God prefers the moral over the ceremonial law (1 Sam. 15:22Isa. 1:11Jer. 7:22).

The ceremonial law was abrogated, for it was intended for the people of Israel alone. The Scriptures foretold their abrogation (Deut. 18:15,18. b. Jer. 31:31-34Jer. 3:16-17Ps. 110:4; cf. Heb. 8:11-13Dan. 9:27). This was to be fulfilled in the coming of Christ

The ceremonial law ought, one time or other, to be abrogated. Without that taking place, the fullness of the inclusion of the Gentiles into the kingdom makes the ceremonial laws impossible to keep. The ceremonial laws are but shadows, and a yoke to be broken. The sign of their abrogation was the coming of Christ (John 4:21). The ceremonial law was abrogated by Christ’s death, and such an abrogation was confirmed by the resurrection of Christ and His ascension and gift of the Holy Spirit. The ceremonial law was finally abrogated at the destruction of Jerusalem since it was still lingering even after the death of Christ because of Jews who were zealous for the law.


Chapter 15: Of the Benefits of the New Testament.

There are obvious and wonderful benefits in the New Testament over the Old Testament. There is the real and true presence of the Messiah (1 Tim. 1:15). In Him the Gospel of the Kingdom is completed. In Him the calling of the Gentiles has taken place and the grace of Christ has gone over all the world (Ps. 2:8Isa. 49:6Luke 2:40). The appointed apostles brought this proclamation of the good news, and the Gentiles responded quickly to it.

In the New Testament there is a more abundant and delightful measure of the Spirit (Zech. 9:12Isa. 44:2-335:7Joel 2:28). The effects of the Spirit can be seen in a more clear and distinct knowledge of the mysteries of faith (Isa. 11:954:13Jer. 31:341 John 2:27), a more generous, a more sublime and cheerful degree of holiness (Isa. 33:2435:960:21-22Zech. 10:512:8), a more delightful consolation (Isa. 40:1-260:1-255:1166:12-14John 14:16Acts 9:31Eph. 1:132 Cor. 1:22), a filial boldness, which is now greater, as adoption itself, and its effects are more conspicuous; Gal. 4:6) and the gifts of the Spirit are more extent (Mk. 16:16-18Acts 10:45-4619:621:81 Cor. 12:7-11).

In the New Testament there is a greater freedom in Christian liberty. It is a liberty common to all believers from the tyranny of the devil, from the reigning and condemning power of sin, from the rigor of the law, from death., and from the laws of men.

Now a question arises about the restoration of Israel. Is this going to happen? In Romans 11:25-27 Paul is explaining a mystery, and the interest of Gentiles is involved. Paul does speak of a literal Israel. He says that Israel is considered as a nation from beginning to end and a part of it has now been hardened. The hardening will continue until the fullness of the Gentiles come into the kingdom. All Israel (the nation as a whole) will be saved when the fullness of the Gentiles have come. “All Israel” does not refer to mystical Israel but to the Jewish nation (according to Herman Witsius). In verses 1 and 14, Paul refers them to his own pedigree, calls them his own flesh and kindred, and distinguishes them from the Gentiles. Paul is dealing with a mystery but it is no mystery that Jews were converted with the Gentiles. Witsius uses the following Scriptural support: Lev. 26:41-45Deut. 4:30-3130:1-632:43Psa. 102:14-1885:9-10Isa. 11:11-1219:24-2549:14ff62Jer. 3:18ff33:24-26Ez. 36:24ff37:1534:25ff.; Hosea 13:29Luke 21:242 Cor. 3:16.


Chapter 16: Of Baptism.

With the Jews there is a twofold use of baptism that is important to consider: the baptism of uncleanness and the baptism of Proselytism. Jews did baptize, which should help New Testament Christians see the continuity between the covenants and not so much the discontinuity.

There are two Divine institutions of baptism that we find in the New Testament: John’s baptism (Luke 3:2John 1:33) and what we call Christian baptism. The similarities between the two baptisms is that they both are based on God’s command, both involve water, both are administered into faith and confession of Christ, both are a sign and seal of the remission of sins, and both involve an obligation to repent. The differences between the two baptisms is that John’s baptism was from God but not from Christ as the Mediator. John’s baptism was a preparation, introduction, or initiation for Christian baptism. God communicated a more sparing measure of the Spirit in John’s baptism than in Christian Baptism.

In discussing Christian baptism we begin with the mode of baptism. Some immerse and some sprinkle. Arguments for immersion are that Christ and the Apostles used this mode as seen by the example of the ancient church. “Baptize” often refers to immersion linguistically and there seems to be a more full likeness between the sign and the thing signified in immersion. In terms of those who sprinkle, the example of the three thousand (Acts 2:41) in one day and of Cornelius, Lydia, and the jailer exclude the possibility of immersion. “Baptize” can refer to sprinkling or pouring linguistically. And the thing signified by baptism is explained in the Old Testament and New Testament in terms of sprinkling and pouring (Isa. 52:15Ez. 36:25Heb. 12:241 Pet. 1:2Heb. 9:13-14). Immersing or sprinkling once or three times is indifferent though. It is to be done in the name of the Triune God.

The spiritual meaning of baptism is connected with the communion with Christ and His body along with all his benefits (1 Cor. 12:13Tit. 3:51 Pet. 3:21). It is also an engagement to an important duty (1 Pet. 3:21). Its particular meaning is that water signifies the blood as the impetrating cause (Heb. 12:241 Pet. 1:2), and the Spirit as the applying cause (Isa. 44:3Ez. 36:25-27). It signifies both present and future benefits received from union with Christ. And as circumcision, it signifies the putting off of sin (1 Pet. 3:21), and the putting on of Christ (Gal. 3:26-27) – regeneration. It also demonstrates our duty towards God (Matt. 28:19-20), ourselves (Rom. 6:3-6), and our brother (1 Cor. 12:13Eph. 4:3,5).

In baptism there is a description of what the Trinity engages in – the Father promises salvation, the Son obtains salvation as mediator, and the Holy Spirit applies salvation.

The children of believers are also to be baptized as federal agents of the covenant. Children of believers in the Old Testament were to receive the sign of the covenant (Gen. 17). Peter speaks of the inclusion of children in the covenant in the New Testament in the famous restoration passage of Acts (Acts 2:38-39), as does Christ with the little children who own the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 16:13-15Luke 18:15). The children of believers are called “holy” federally (1 Cor. 7:14), thus, all those who belong to the church of God have a right to baptism. Baptism fulfills and takes the place of circumcision as a covenant sign, but not by way of abrogation (Col. 2:11-12).


Chapter 17: Of the Lord’s Supper.

The Lord’s Supper is the second sacrament of the New Testament next to baptism. The elements of the Lord’s Supper are the bread and wine. This enables the sacrament to be enjoyed universally and is consistent with the New Testament economy. It is no longer a bloody sacrament like Passover since the Passover is fulfilled by Christ and He alone is the bloody sacrifice. Unleavened bread should be used and wine should be used. Red is preferable but not necessary.

Christ took the bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it. His words with respect to the bread were to take, eat, and do this in remembrance of me. He then explained that this was His body, which is given for you. In terms of the cup, Christ took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it. He said that they should drink ye all of it, in remembrance of Me. It meant that it was the blood of the New Covenant, which is shed for the remission of sins. The Disciples received both the bread and the cup, and ate the bread and drank the cup.

Those who would partake of the Lord’s Supper have necessary requirements. They must have a knowledge of the faith and are able to discern the Lord’s body. They should be able to understand the analogy of the sacrament and show the Lord’s death until He comes. They must have a repentant and believing heart. In this way, infants are therefore excluded from the Lord’s Supper, as young infants were excluded from the Passover.

The spiritual meaning of the Lord’s Supper is that it is a sign for our instruction. The bread signifies the body of Christ, and the wine signifies the blood of Christ. The taking of the element sets forth Christ to believers, the breaking of the bread represents Christ’s death, the pouring of the wine represents his shed blood, and the receiving of the elements signifies their receiving Christ. We should meditate upon Christ when eating and drinking the elements for in these we have communion with Christ. It ends up being a seal, ratifying to us the promises and grace of God. In this seal we receive true and real blessings that identify union and communion with Him and us, and set forth future blessings of the life to come. It is a solemn duty to Christ that we partake worthily. We should keep to our duties before Him as a faithful, and loving spouse. We should reciprocate the love of Christ exhibited in the Supper. We should remember Christ’s death on our behalf.

FINIS

Covenant Theology Poster

The Puritans made many posters, even in their day, to aid church members in understanding Scriptural truth. I created this new poster to cover the Covenant of Redemption, Covenant of Works and Covenant of Grace.

Check Out these Books on Covenant Theology

Presumptive Regeneration, or, the Baptismal Regeneration of Elect Infants by Cornelius Burges (1589-1665)
A Discourse on Covenant Theology and Infant Baptism by Cuthbert Sydenham (1622-1654)
Infant Baptism of Christ’s Appointment by Samuel Petto (1624-1711)
Covenant Holiness and Infant Baptism by Thomas Blake (1597-1657)
The Manifold Wisdom of God Seen in Covenant Theology by George Walker (1581-1651)
The Covenant of God by Thomas Blake (1597-1657)
A Chain of Theological Principles by John Arrowsmith (1602-1659)
The Covenant of Life Opened by Samuel Rutherford (1600-1661)
The Covenant of Grace Opened by Thomas Hooker (1586-1647)
The Covenant of Redemption by Samuel Willard (1640-1707)
The Covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace by Edmund Calamy (1600-1666)
The Doctrine and Practice of Infant Baptism by John Brinsley (1600-1665)
God’s Covenant and Our Duty By Samuel Willard (1640-1707)
God’s Glory in Man’s Happiness by Francis Taylor (1589-1656)
Infant Baptism God’s Ordinance by Michael Harrison (1640-1729)
Jesus Christ God’s Shepherd by William Strong (d. 1654)

Bible Verse:

“I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless,” (Gen. 17:1).

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