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The Economy of the Covenants Between God and Man by Herman Witsius

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Herman Witsius (1636-1708)

Arguably known for the best work on Covenant Theology in print (at least in the top 5).

Herman Witsius (1636-1708) was Professor of Divinity in the Universities of Franeker, Utrecht, and Leyden. A brilliant and devout student, he was fluent in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew by the age of fifteen, when he entered the University of Utrecht. He was ordained at twenty-one and served in several pastorates, filling both the pulpit and the academic chair over the course of his life.

This, his magnum opus, is a reflection of some of the most fruitful and mature thinking on federal theology during the seventeenth century, and still holds a preeminent place in our own day.

Chapter II: Of the Covenant between God the Father and the Son

I. IN order the more thoroughly to understand the nature of the covenant of grace, two things are above all to be distinctly considered. First, the covenant which intervenes between God the Father and Christ the Mediator. Secondly, That testamentary disposition by which God bestows, by an immutable covenant, eternal salvation, and every thing relative thereto, upon the elect. The former agreement is between God and the Mediator: the latter, between God and the Elect. This last pre-supposes the first, and is founded upon it.

II. When I speak of the compact between the Father and the Son, I thereby understand the will of the Father, giving the Son to be the head and Redeemer of the elect; and the will of the Son, presenting himself, as a sponsor or surety for them; in all which the nature of a compact and agreement consists. The Scriptures represent the Father, in the economy of our salvation, as demanding the obedience of the Son even unto death, and, upon condition of that obedience, promising him in his turn that name which is above every name, even that he should be the head of the elect in glory; but the Son, as presenting himself to do the will of the Father, acquiescing in that promise, and in fine, requiring by virtue of the compact, the kingdom and glory promised to him. When we have clearly demonstrated all these particulars from Scripture, it cannot, on any pretence, be denied, that there is a compact between the Father and the Son, which is the foundation of our salvation. But let us proceed distinctly. 1st, By producing such places of Scripture as speak only in general, but yet expressly, of this compact. 2dly, By more fully unfolding the particulars which complete or constitute this compact. 3dly, By invincibly proving the same from the nature of the sacraments, which Christ also made use of.

III. Christ himself speaks of this compact, in express words, Luke 22:29: Κἀγὼ διατίθεμαι ὑμῖν, καθώς διέθετό μοι ὁ πατήρ μου βασιλείαν, “And I engage by covenant unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath engaged by covenant unto me.” In which words the Lord Jesus says, that by virtue of some covenant or disposition he obtains a kingdom, as we also obtain it by virtue of the same.

IV. And, Heb. 7:22, where he is said to be “a surety of a better covenant,” or testament. But he is called the surety of a testament, not principally on this account, because he engages to us for God and his promises, or, because he engages for us, that we shall obey; as Moses intervened as a surety between God and the Israelites, Exod. 19:3–8. For by how much Christ was greater than Moses, in so much he was also a surety, in a more excellent manner. His suretiship consists in this, that he himself undertook to perform that condition, without which, consistently with the justice of God, the grace and promises of God could not reach unto us; but being once performed, they were infallibly to come to the children of the covenant. Unless then we would make void the suretiship of Christ, and gratify the Socinians, the very worst perverters of Scripture, it is necessary we conceive of some covenant, the conditions of which Christ took upon himself; engaging in our name with the Father, to perform them for us; and that having performed them, he might engage to us for the Father, that we should certainly have grace and glory bestowed upon us.

V. Moreover, Gal. 3:17, Paul mentions a certain διαθήκη, covenant, or testament, “that was confirmed before of God in Christ.” Where the contracting parties are, on one side God, on the other Christ; and the agreement between both is ratified. But lest any should think that Christ is here only considered as the executor of the testament bequeathed to us by God, the apostle twice repeats, that Christ was not promised to us, or that salvation was not promised to us through Christ, though that be also true; but that the promises were made to Christ himself, verse 16. That Christ was that seed, ὧ ἐπαγγήλται, to which he had promised, or, to which the promise was made; namely, concerning the inheritance of the world and the kingdom of grace and glory. It is evident, therefore, that the word διαθήκη does here denote some covenant or testament, by which something is promised by God to Christ. Nor do I see what can be objected to this, unless by Christ we should understand the head, together with the mystical body, which with Christ is that one seed, to which the promises are made. This indeed we shall not refuse, if it also be admitted that Christ, who is the head, and eminently the seed of Abraham, be on no account excluded from these promises, especially as the promises made to his mystical body ought to be considered as made to himself; since he also himself hath “received gifts for men,” Psa. 68:19.

VI. Nor ought those places to be omitted in which explicit mention is made of the suretiship of Christ; as Psa. 119:122: “Be surety for thy servant for good;” that is, as surety receive him into thy protection, that it may be well with him. In like manner, Isa. 38:14: “I am oppressed, undertake for me,” be to me a surety and patron. And that none but Christ alone could thus undertake, God himself says, Jer. 30:21, “Who is this, עדב את לבו that engaged his heart,” or appeased his heart by his suretiship, or sweetened his heart by a voluntary and fiducial engagement, or, in fine, pledged his very heart, giving his soul as both the matter and price of suretiship (for all these things are comprised in the emphasis of the Hebrew language) “to approach unto me,” that he may expiate sin? These words also show what that suretiship or undertaking was which David and Hezekiah sought for, namely, a declaration of will to approach unto God, in order to procure the expiation of sins.

VII. In fine, we may refer to this point Zech. 6:13, “The counsel of peace shall be between them both;” namely, between the man whose name is The Branch and Jehovah, for no other two occur here. It will not be foreign to our purpose to throw some light on this place by a short analysis and paraphrase. In this and the preceding verse, there is a remarkable prophecy concerning the Messiah, whose person, offices, and glory, the prophet truly describes in a short, but lively manner, subjoining at last the cause of all these; namely, why the Messiah appeared as such a person, executed such offices, and obtained such a glory; namely, because of that counsel which was between him and the Father, the fruit of which, with respect to us, is “peace.” Of the person of the Messiah he says, that he is איש, the “man,” that is, true man; see Hos. 2:15; and, indeed, the most eminent among men; not אדם or אנוש, which words denote “wretched man,” but איש ימינך, “the man of thy right hand.” Psa. 80:17. Because Christ is not here considered as in the abasement of his misery, but as in the excellence of his glory. His name is the Branch, because sprung from God, Isa. 4:2, Zech. 1:12. A new root of a new offspring, or of the sons of God according to promise and regeneration—the second Adam; and, indeed, a branch which shall blossom from under himself; Aben Ezra, מאליו, from itself, which shall not be produced or propagated by any sowing or planting of man’s hand, but shall spring from a virgin, by the peculiar power of the Deity. His office is to build the temple of the Lord, that is, the church of the elect, “which is the house of God,” 1 Tim. 3:15; which Christ κατεσκέυασε framed, Heb. 3:4; and built, Matt. 16:18. Laying the foundation in his cross, and cementing it with his blood. But because, in the same breath, it is twice said, “he shall build the temple of the Lord,” it may suggest to our minds whether, besides the building of the church, which is the mystical body of Christ, the resurrection of Christ’s own natural body may not be intended, which is called, “the building of the temple,” John 2:19, 21; which being done, he will receive majesty, a name above every name, and sit on the throne of God, to execute his kingly and priestly office in glory. For a king to sit on a throne, is nothing strange, but for a priest, very much so; being contrary to the custom of the ancient priests in the Old Testament, who stood daily, often offering the same sacrifices; because their labour was ineffectual to remove the guilt of sin, Heb. 10:11, But Christ, having once offered up the one sacrifice of himself, and by it obtained eternal redemption, sat down for ever at the right hand of the Father, never to rise to offer a second time, Heb. 1:3, 9:12, 14. He now does what his session gives him a right to do—he makes intercession for his people, Rom. 8:34; as was ingeniously observed by James Altingius, Hept. iii. Dissert. 6. § 49. But whence does all this proceed, and what is the origin of such important things? “The counsel of peace,” which is between “the man whose name is the Branch,” and Jehovah, whose temple he shall build, and on whose throne he shall sit, Rev. 3:21. And what else can this counsel be, but the mutual will of the Father and the Son, which, we said, is the nature of the covenant? It is called a “counsel,” both on account of the free and liberal good pleasure of both, and of the display of the greatest wisdom manifested therein. And a counsel of “peace,” not between God and Christ, between whom there never was any enmity; but of peace to be procured to sinful man with God, and to sinners with themselves.

VIII. It seems, two things may be objected, to which we are briefly to answer. 1st. That by those two we are not to understand the Father and the Son, but the Jews and the Gentiles. 2dly. That here it is not the counsel, which is the original and cause of all these things, and which ought to have been expressed in the preterperfect or present tense; but the counsel, which is the fruit of Christ’s intercession, of which the prophet speaks in the future tense. To the first, I answer, that this exposition is asserted but not proved. There is no distinct mention made of Jews and Gentiles in the preceding verses of this Chapter. And it is not lawful for us to add any thing to the text. What others allege concerning a priest and king, or the office of priest and king, or about the Jews of Jerusalem and Babylon, is quite forced. “Our explication,” says the very learned De Dieu, who here is of the same opinion with us, “appears simple and plain.” Neither is it new, since Jerome tells us that this verse was understood of the Father and the Son. To the second I reply, that nothing can oblige us to assent to it; as the words, by our analysis and explanation, yield a very just and profitable sense, and this covenant could not be expressed by a more significant term than that of a mutual counsel between the Father and the Son. What is added, with respect to the difference of tenses, seems to be of small moment; for that the tenses in Hebrew are often put one for the other, and the future for the present, none can be ignorant of, but they who are indifferently skilled in that language: Psa. 17:3, צרפתני בל תמצא “Thou hast tried me, and thou dost (or didst) find nothing;” literally, “thou shalt find.” Such changes of tenses often occur in the same Psalm. Besides, something is then said to be done in Scripture, when it is declared to be solemnly done; of which instances are to be met with every where, see Acts 2:36. We will therefore fully explain the words thus: “The counsel of peace is between both.” And if you entirely insist on the future tense, the meaning will be this: At the exaltation of Christ, and the peace advanced by him from heaven, there will be a manifest execution of this counsel. But we need not come to this; for if by this counsel we understand that agreement which subsisted between the Father and Christ—God-man—when, assuming human nature, he appeared as the surety, the Prophet might and ought to speak of it in the future tense; and he does so in a beautiful order, ascending from the effects to the cause, in the following manner: Christ—God-man—shall build the spiritual temple of the Lord; for which he shall receive as a reward glorious majesty, and shall fit on the throne of God. And this needs not seem strange: for Christ, clothing himself with human flesh, will, by a certain compact, on which our peace is founded, promise to the Father that he will do all this. The Father, on the other hand, will promise thus to reward that service. In this manner every thing runs smoothly. See more of this, chap. III. §. 2–4.

IX. It is also a proof of this, that Christ, often in the Psalms and elsewhere, calls God the Father his God. See among other places, Psa. 22:4, and 45:8; Is. 49:4, 5 and John 20:17. Which is the form or manner of the covenant. In this sense Jacob promised, that “the Lord should be his God,” Gen. 28:21; that is, that he would so frame his whole life as became one in covenant with God. The Israelites, also, when they solemnly renewed the covenant, Jos. 24:18, said, “We will serve the Lord, for he is our God.” In like manner God promises, in the covenant, that he will be the God of his covenant people; that is, display the riches of his all-sufficiency for their salvation, Jer. 31:33: “This is my covenant, that I will make with the house of Israel: I will be their God.” Deut. 26:17: “Thou hast avouched the Lord (thou hast made the Lord say), this day to be (that he will be) thy God.” The very meaning of the word, which we render God, implies this: for אלה Eloah, derived from אלה, he swore or adjured, denotes him, whose prerogative it is to bind us, by oath, to love and faithful obedience to him, and to whom we ought, by oath, to give all obedience; and who on his part engages, that he will be all-sufficient to his faithful servants for salvation. He, therefore, who professes Eloah to be his God, does, at the same time, by virtue of the covenant of God, call himself the servant of God: for עבד servant, is the correlate of אלה Eloah, or אלהים Elohim; as Psa. 86:2. הושע עבדך אתה אלהי, “preserve thy servant, O thou my God.” And in this manner the Father calls Christ, in many places, his servant, Is. 49:5, 6. Besides, such a one professes, that he only depends on the promise and testimony of that covenant: in these things the whole nature and design of the covenant consists. As therefore Christ calls God the Father his God; and on the other hand, the Father calls Christ his servant, both of them do, by that name, indicate a compact of obedience and reward.

X. But we come now more particularly to discuss all the parts of this covenant, that it may not only appear, there subsists some covenant between Christ and the Father, but what that covenant is, and of what nature. The Contracting parties are, on the one hand, the Father, whom Christ calls my Lord, Psa. 16:2. On the other hand, the Son, whom the Father calls his servant, Is. 53:11. The law of the covenant is proposed by the Father, John 10:18: “This commandment have I received of my Father;” and John 12:49, “The Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment.” To that law a promise is added by the Father, Is. 53:10–12, “When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin [when his soul shall make itself an offering for sin], he shall see his seed,” &c.: and Is. 49:6–8, “It is a light thing, that thou shouldest be my servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob,” &c. On performing that law, the Son acquires a right to ask the reward, Psa. 2:8, “Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.” Thus far the proposal of the covenant on the part of the Father. The acceptance on the part of the Son consists in this: that he willingly submitted himself to the law of the covenant; Psa. 40:7–9, “Mine ears hast thou (bored) opened;” that is, thou hast engaged me as a willing servant to thyself, having agreed about the reward. “Then said I, Lo! I come. I delight to do thy will; yea, thy law is within my heart:” see also John 14:31. Nor did the Son only undertake this, but actually performed it, being “made of a woman, made under the law,” Gal. 4:4. John 15:10, “I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love;” and John 8:29: “I do always those things that please him.” Nor did he part with his life, till he had truly said, “It is finished,” John 19:30. In the course of this obedience, the Son comforted himself in the faithfulness of the Father, to accomplish his promises. “I said, surely my judgment (reward) is with the Lord, and (the recompense of) my work with my God,” Is. 49:4. And when he drew near the end of his course, he claimed, with great confidence of mind, the promised reward, John 17:4, 5. “I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” What then can be supposed wanting to complete the form of a covenant, which we have not here?

XI. In fine, all these things may be confirmed from this, that Christ likewise made use of the Sacraments; not only as to the matter of these institutions, as they were divine commands, the observance of which was to him meritorious; but as to the form, as they were signs and seals of the covenant; God the Father, by the use of them, sealed the federal promise concerning justification from sins, not his own personal sins, either of commission or omission (for such he had none, 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet. 2:18), but from those which by at voluntary engagement, he took upon himself as his own, and from which, as surety, he was “justified in the spirit,” 1 Tim. 3:16; and also concerning life eternal, to be bestowed on him and his; God the Son, in the use of them, acknowledged himself a debtor to fulfil all righteousness: as these things have been learnedly observed and explained by the celebrated Voetius, Disput. de fide Christi, ejusque sacramentorum usu. Disput. T. II. p. 160; and Essenius, de subjectione Christi ad legem divinam, c. x. §. 11. But let us illustrate this by an example. In the baptism of Christ, there was an evident sealing of the covenant of both sides. Christ declared, that it was his province “to fulfil all righteousness.” To that he bound himself by baptism; telling John, upon his refusing to baptize him, “Suffer it to be so now, for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness, Matt. 3:16. The Father declared, that he accepted the suretiship: “In thee I am well pleased,” Luke 3:22: and put him in mind of the inheritance; “Thou art my Son.” And all these things he sealed by the symbol of the Holy Ghost descending upon him.

XII. As these things are evident, and contain a demonstration of the truth to the conscience; I would not have Psa. 16:2 strained to this purpose: “Thou hast said unto the Lord, Thou art my Lord: מובתי בל עליך my goodness (is not upon thee) extendeth not to thee.” As if in these words there was an address of God the Father to the Son, to this purpose: I require nothing more of thee, as a satisfaction to me, in order to display my grace; for thus a learned author paraphrases these words, “Thou hast said to the Lord,” &c. Thou, son of man, hast acknowledged that Jehovah is the Lord, and hast engaged thy obedience to him. Thou, by loving and obeying as a servant, even unto death (to which thou offerest thyself) hast declared me to be Lord, and honoured me with a perfect obedience. As to any advantage to be obtained, “my goodness,” my grace, and the benefits depending thereon, “extendeth not to thee,” (is not upon thee) that is, thou art τετελειωμὲνος, an absolute and perfect Saviour. What was laid upon thee, or what thou wast bound by suretiship to perform, that my goodness might extend to mankind, that thou hast performed, and I accept of the whole. Thus על generally denotes something due, both among the Hebrews, and in the sacred writings.

XIII. But I think these things are strained, and do not run with that smoothness one could wish. For, 1st, There is nothing which obliges us to imagine, unless we incline so to do, that there is, in these words, an address of God the Father to the Son; since the whole of this Psalm has not the least appearance of a dialogue, but only represents a single person speaking in one continued discourse, whom Piscator, by weighty arguments, proves to be the Lord Jesus. The learned person himself speaks thus: “It is certain this discourse may be ascribed to the Son, as addressing himself.” And therefore, I say, it is certainly possible that this discourse cannot contain the approbation of the Father, acquiescing in the obedience of the Son. For if the Son addresses his own soul, which said to Jehovah, “Thou art my Lord, and my goodness extendeth not to thee;” doubtless the Son said this to the Father, and not the Father to the Son. 2dly, I own that these words, which the Son says to the Father, or the Father to the Son, are so emphatical, that they cannot, in their full signification, be supposed to be spoken by either of them to the other, on account of the peculiar excellence which is in the Son, Heb. 1:4. But I question whether any can be easily persuaded, that the approbation of the most perfect obedience of the Son, and the acquiescence of the Father therein, are expressed in such slender terms. “Thou hast said, Thou art my Lord.” I appeal to any, who “teaches the good knowledge of the Lord,” as it is said of the Levites, 2 Chron. 30:22, whether those words of Scripture be such as that nothing can be devised more proper to illustrate that sense which the very learned person elsewhere requires, before he acquiesces in the meaning assigned, Sum. Theol. c. 3. §. 30. 3dly. It is very true, that על sometimes, among the Hebrews, signifies something due. The very learned De Dieu, on Gen. 16:5, has long ago observed this, from the writings of the Hebrews, and also of the Arabs. But that signification does not seem proper to this place; for Christ was neither indebted to God for his goodness or grace, and the blessings depending upon it; nor did he, properly, owe the grace of God to believers. But it was by virtue of a compact, that he owed obedience to God; on performing which, God owed to Christ, and to them who are Christ’s, the reward promised by the compact, which is given to Christ as a due debt. The signification of being due might be insisted upon, had it been said my law, or satisfaction to my justice, or something to that purpose, “is no more upon thee, no longer extendeth to thee.” But we must fetch a strange compass to make these words, “my goodness extendeth not to thee” (is not upon thee) to signify, “Thou art no longer indebted to my goodness;” and again, that the meaning of them should be, “Thou hast done every thing to which thou wast bound, that my goodness might be extended to men.” And I verily doubt, whether it could ever come into any one’s mind, that such an explication is the fullest, the most simple, and most suited to the connection; in fine, that it is such, that none, who compares it with the words of Scripture, can devise a more happy manner of expressing the thing; and that therein, an inexpressible degree of light, truth, and wisdom may be discovered.” For these are laws of interpretation, which the very learned person himself has laid down, Sum. Theol. c. 6. §. 38.

XIV. 4thly. Another sense may be fairly brought from the words of the Psalm, which has nothing either harsh or strained, and contains what is becoming the wisdom of God, as thus: The Lord Jesus being deeply engaged in holy meditations, addresses his soul, or himself; and declares, that while in his meditation, he said to Jehovah the Father, “Thou art the Lord,” all-sufficient to and by thyself for all happiness. And therefore by this whole work of my mediation, and consequently by all my obedience, no accession of new or greater happiness is made to thee, nor canst thou be enriched by my satisfaction: “my goodness extendeth not to thee:” Thou receivest no benefit thereby: all the fruit of my satisfaction redounds to the pious and chosen people. See Job 22:2 and 25:7. The comment of Ben Nachman on the former place is elegant, agreeing very much with the phraseology in our text; he declares, “That no addition of good is made to God, when any good is done.” All which words contain a salutary truth, instructing us concerning the all-sufficiency of God, to whom no new good can accrue from any quarter, and concerning the fruit of Christ’s satisfaction, as redounding to the godly; and are most adapted to the words and analogy of the whole Psalm. For על many times signifies the same as אל, to. I shall produce a place or two, which occurred to me when meditating on these things in reading the Scriptures: Micah says, chap. 4:1, נהרו עליו עמים, “and people shall flow unto it:” This Isaiah expresses as follows, chap. 2:2. נהדו אליו כל הנוים, “and all nations shall flow unto it.” Where על and אל are taken in the same signification. In like manner, 2 Chron. 30:1 “Wrote letters על אפרים,” that is, to the Ephraimites. It is still more to the purpose, what we have 1 Sam. 1:10; תתפלל על יהוה, “prayed unto the Lord;” and Psa. 18:41: “They cried על יהוה, unto the Lord, but he answered them not.” Sometimes it signifies the same thing as עד up to, or quite to, as 2 Chron. 32:5, ויעל על המנדלות, “and raised (the wall) up to the towers:” not that it is credible, the wall exceeded the towers in height. Jer. 4:18. נגע על לבך, “it reacheth unto thine heart.” You may add other instances from Glassius Phil. Sacra. p. 773. As, therefore, the use of this particle is very extensive, we have no reason to restrain its signification to owing or being due, which seems less adapted to this place.

XV. I speak not these things, with a view to detract any thing from the due praises of the very learned interpreter, to whom I profess myself greatly indebted; but because nothing is dearer to me than to search out the true meaning of the Spirit speaking in the Scriptures. And while I am wholly intent upon this, I cannot avoid sometimes examining the opinions of ethers, even of those for whom I have otherwise the greatest veneration. Faith is none of those things which may be imposed by any human authority; neither is any injury done even to the greatest of men, when we declare our dissent in a modest manner: whether we have done so here or not, must be left to the determination of the impartial reader, who may also judge whether, by these observations, I have deserved that severe language which the very famous person, Dr. John Van der Waeyen, was pleased to throw out against me in Sum. Theol. Christ. lib. i. c. iv. v. 267, seq. He very much complains that I called that explication of the celebrated Cocceius harsh and forced, and that the words of the Psalm were wrested to that meaning. I own indeed, I had formerly written in this manner, out of my simplicity, nor did I imagine there was either reproach or injury contained in these words. But there is no force of argument in the tartness of language: and that the least appearance of that may not remain, I now alter it, and instead of wrested, say, harsh, not running so smoothly. The rest I cancel. I freely forgive the ill language of my reprover, as becomes a Christian. It does not belong to him, but to our common Lord, to pass a judgment on my intention. As to the subject itself, I beseech the reader to compare my reasonings with his; and if he thinks that mine are solidly confuted, I am not against his differing, in every respect, from me, as I differ from him; and the simple explication of the words, which I maintain, with the generality of expositors, began the more to please me, the more I saw my reprover stand in need, for the defence of his opinion, of such a compass of words, and so far-fetched and intricate subtleties. I have no inclination minutely to consider the rest. Each one has his own temper, his own way of writing; which if I cannot commend, I endeavour to bear with. But I return from this unwilling digression.

XVI. As the doctrine of the covenant between the Father and the Son is so expressly delivered in Scripture, it is unjustly traduced as a new and a late invention. Though I find few among the more ancient who have professedly handled this subject, yet some of the greatest divines have occasionally made mention of this covenant. I say nothing now of Arminius, who does not carelessly discourse on this covenant, in his oration for the degree of doctor; from which the very accurate Amesius produces and commends some things in Rescriptione ad Grevinchovium, c. 1. Amesius himself, in Anti-Synodalibus, de morte Christi, c. 1. §. 5, charges a certain distinction of the remonstrants with this absurdity, that “it denies that the covenant entered into with Christ (‘He shall see his seed, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand’) had been ratified.” Gomaris, treating of the baptism of Christ, on Matt. 3:13, says, that it was the “sign and seal of the covenant between God and Christ; namely, that God would be his God, and the bestower of salvation; but he himself was bound to perform obedience from a principle of perpetual gratitude.” In like manner, on Luke 2:21, of the circumcision of Christ, he says, that it was “a sign and seal of the covenant with God; which covenant consisted in this: partly, that God was the God of Christ, according to the general promise, made also to him, Gen. 17:7, as to the seed of Abraham, Gal. 3:16, and according to the singular character given of him, Psa. 45:7, Heb. 1:9; partly, that Christ was bound to obey the will of God, John 6:38, Matt. 5:17.” See his disput. de merito Christi, §. 1. The very learned Cloppenburgius, disput. 3 de fœdere Dei, not only slightly mentions this subject, but fully and accurately handles it. The very famous Vœtius, disput. T. ii. p. 266, says, “He (Christ) was subject for us to a special law of paying our debt by a condign punishment, as our Mediator and surety, according to the tenour of the covenant entered into with the Father.” Essenius, formerly his scholar, and afterwards his colleague, de subjectione Christi ad legem, c. 10. §. 2, says, “The federal sealing of the divine promise did also really take place in Christ, according to Is. 53:10, 11.” Dr. Owen handles this very subject at large, on Heb. T. i. Exercit. 4. p. 49. Nor was this doctrine unknown to the popish doctors. Tirinus, on Is. 53:11, thus comments, That the Prophet there explains the compact agreed on between God the Father and Christ, by which, on account of the sufferings and death of Christ, redemption, justification, and glorification were appointed to be the rewards of all those who faithfully adhere to Christ. Thus it appears, that these sentiments concerning the covenant between the Father and Son are not to be treated with contempt.

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