SIXTH LORD'S DAY.
Question 18. Who, then, is that Mediator, who is, in one person, both very God, and a real righteous man?
Answer. Our Lord Jesus Christ; who of God is made unto us wisdom and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.
We have now shown what kind of a Mediator it is necessary for us to have. The next question which claims our attention is, Who is this Mediator? That this Mediator is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, manifested in the flesh, is proven by these considerations:
1. It became the Mediator to be very God, as has been shown. God the Father, however, could not be the Mediator; because he does not work through himself, but through the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Neither is the Father a messenger; because he is sent by no one, but himself sends the Mediator. Nor could the Holy Ghost be the Mediator; because he was to he sent by the Mediator into the hearts of the elect. Therefore, the Son alone is this Mediator.
2. It was necessary that the Mediator should have that which it became him to confer upon us. It became him, now, to confer upon us the right and title of the sons of God, which we had forfeited; that is, it became him to bring it to pass, that God might, for his Son's sake, adopt us as his children. This, however, Christ alone was able to effect, because he alone had the right thereof. The Holy Ghost had not this right, because he is not the Son. Neither did it belong to the Father, for the same reason; and also because it became him to adopt us among his children, through the Son. Therefore, the Word, who is the natural Son of God, is alone our Mediator, in whom, as in the first begotten, we are adopted as the Sons of God, as it is said: "If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." "As many as received him, to them he gave the power to be called the sons of God." "Unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ." "He hath made us to be accepted in the Beloved." (John 8:36; 1:12. Eph. 1:5-6.)
3. The Son, alone, is the Word, the Ambassador of the Father, and that person who was sent to the human race, to reveal the will of God, through whom the Father operates and gives the Holy Spirit; and through whom, also, the second creation is accomplished; for it is through the Son that we are made new creatures. The Scriptures, for this reason, every where join the first and second creation, because the second was to be effected by the same person through whom the first was made. "All things were made by the Son." (John 1:3.) The Mediator was also to be a Messenger, and Peace-maker, between God and us, and to regenerate us by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the Son alone is this Mediator.
4. It belongs to the Mediator to send immediately the Holy Spirit. But it is the Son alone who thus sends the Holy Spirit. The Father does, indeed, send the Holy Spirit, but it is through the Son. The Son sends the Spirit immediately from the Father, as he himself declares: "Whom I will send unto you from the Father." (John 15:26.)
5. It became the Mediator to suffer and die. But it was not possible for any of the persons of the Godhead to suffer and die, except the Son, who assumed our nature. "God was manifested in the flesh." " Christ was put to death in the flesh." (1 Tim. 3:16. 1 Pet. 3:18.) Therefore, the Son is the Mediator.
6. That the Son is the Mediator may be proven by a comparison of the prophecies of the Old Testament with their fulfillment in the New Testament.
7. The works and miracles of Christ establish his claims to the office of Mediator. " The works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me." "Believe the works." "When Christ will come, he will do more miracles than these." "Go and shew John those things which ye do hear and see. The blind receive their sight," &c. (John 5:36; 10:38; 7:31. Matt. 11:4-5.)
8. By these clear testimonies of Scripture: "There is one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus." "Christ is made unto us of God, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption ;" that is, he is made unto us a teacher of wisdom, a justifier, a sanctifier, and a redeemer; which is the same as to say he is a Mediator and Saviour, both by his merit and efficacy; for in this declaration of the Apostle, the abstract is put for the concrete. (1 Tim. 2:5. 1 Cor. 1:30.)
It is here worthy of notice that the Mediator is said to be made unto us of God; which means that he was appointed and given. The Mediator ought to have been given by us, and to have proceeded from us, because we had sinned. But we were not able to give a Mediator, in as much as we were all the children of wrath. Therefore, it was necessary that he should be given unto us of God.
It is also worthy of notice that righteousness and holiness were one and the same thing in us before the fall, viz: an inherent conformity with God and the divine law, as they are now the same thing in the holy angels. Since the fall, however, they are not the same thing in us. For, now, Christ is our righteousness; and our justification consists in the imputation of his righteousness, by which we are accounted just before God. Holiness is the beginning of our conformity with God, whilst sanctification is the carrying forward of this conformity with God, which in this life is imperfect, but which will be fully perfected in the life to come; when righteousness and holiness will again be the same thing in us, as they are now in the holy angels. The sum and substance of the whole doctrine of the Mediator is contained in what now follows.
The doctrine of the Mediator, which is intimately connected with the glory of God and our comfort, must be carefully considered for the following reasons: 1. That we may acknowledge and magnify the mercy of God, in that he has given his Son to be our Mediator, and to be made a sacrifice for our sins. 2. That we may know God to be just, in as much as he would not, out of his clemency, pardon sin; but was so greatly displeased therewith that he would not remit it, except satisfaction were made by the death of his Son. 3. That we may be assured of eternal life, in having a Mediator who is both willing and able to grant it unto us.
4. Because the doctrine of the Mediator is the foundation, and substance, of the doctrine of the church. 5. On account of heretics, who at all times oppose, with great bitterness, this doctrine; and that, having a proper knowledge of it, we may be able to defend it against all their assaults.
The doctrine of the Mediator seems to belong to the article of justification, because there also the office of the Mediator is explained. But it is one thing to teach what, and what kind of a benefit justification is, and how it is received, which is done when the doctrine of justification is treated of; and it is another thing to show whose benefit it is, and by whom it is bestowed upon us, which properly belongs here.
The principal things to be considered in relation to the Mediator, are the following:
A mediator, in general, signifies one who reconciles two parties that are at variance, by interposing himself and pacifying the offended party, by entreaty, by satisfaction, and giving security that the like offence will not again be committed. A mediator, in the German, is emschiedmann. To reconcile includes: 1. To intercede for the offender with the offended. 2. To make satisfaction for the injury done. 3. To promise, and bring it to pass, that the offending party shall not repeat the offence. 4. To bring the parties at variance together. If any of these conditions are wanting, there can be no true reconciliation.
But in special, and as here applied to Christ, a Mediator is a person reconciling God, who is angry with sin, and the human race exposed to eternal death on account of sin, by making satisfaction to divine justice by his death, interceding for the guilty, and applying, at the same time, his merits through faith to them that believe, regenerating them by his Holy Spirit, thus bringing it to pass that they cease from sinning; and finally hearing the groans and prayers of those that call upon him. Or, a Mediator is a peace-maker between God and men, appeasing the anger of God, and restoring men to his favor, by interceding and making satisfaction for their sins, bringing it to pass that God loves men, and men love God, so that a constant and eternal peace or agreement is effected between them.
A middle person, and mediator, are different. The former is the name of the person--the latter the name of the office. Christ is both. He is a middle person, because in him is the nature of each party--he has the nature of God and of man. He is a Mediator, because he reconciles us to God; although he is to a certain extent a middle person, in the same respect in which he is a Mediator; because in him the two extremes, God and man, are joined together.
Addenda. It is sometimes asked, whether Adam had need of a Mediator before the fall? To this, answer may be returned according to the signification which we attach to the term, Mediator. If we mean by it, one through whose mediation, or by whom God bestows his benefits, and communicates himself to us, then Adam, even before his fall, had need of a Mediator, because Christ ever has been the person through whom the Father creates and quickens all things; for "in him was life," both natural and spiritual, "and the life was the light of men." (John 1:4.) But if we understand by a Mediator, one who performs these and all the other duties which belong to the office, then we reply that Adam did not need a Mediator before the fall. We must observe, however, that the Scriptures do not speak of Christ,as being Mediator before the fall of man.
That we need a Mediator is evident--
1. Because the justice of God does not admit of any reconciliation without a return to his favor. An advocate is, therefore, necessary. Neither can we be reconciled to God except intercession be made in our behalf. An intercessor is, therefore,needed. So, satisfaction is demanded. Hence there must be one to satisfy. Then there must be an application of the benefit, for there is a necessity that it should be received. Hence there must be some one to apply the benefit of redemption. And, finally, without a removal of sin, and the restoration of the image of God in us, we will not cease to sin against God. Hence, we need some one to deliver us from sin, and renew our nature. But of ourselves we are not able to accomplish these things; we cannot appease God, who is angry; we cannot make ourselves acceptable in his sight, &c. We need, therefore, another person to act as Mediator for us, who may perform these things in our behalf.
2. God demanded a Mediator from the party which had committed the offence. As a divine Being, he could not receive satisfaction from himself. His justice made it necessary that the offending party should make satisfaction, or obtain favor through such a Mediator as would be able to satisfy perfectly, and also be most acceptable to God, so as not to be driven from his presence; and who might, by his influence with God, be able easily to reconcile us to him by making satisfaction, entreaty and intercession in our behalf. Such a Mediator, however, we were entirely unable to find from among ourselves; because we were all the children of wrath. There was, therefore, a necessity for some third person to come in as a Mediator, who should be given of God, and who would be very man, and at the same time most acceptable to God.
3. It is necessary that those who would obtain deliverance should make satisfaction to the justice of God, either by themselves, or by another. Those who cannot make this satisfaction of themselves have need of a Mediator. It is required of us now, if we would obtain deliverance from sin, to satisfy the justice of God either by ourselves, or by another. But we are unable to effect this by ourselves. Hence we have need of a Mediator.
Obj. Where there is but one way of making satisfaction, no other is to be sought, or proposed. The law acknowledges but one way, which is, by ourselves. Therefore we must not propose any other; nor must we say, either by ourselves, or by another. Ans. The whole is conceded, as it respects the law: for the law prescribes but one way of making satisfaction, and it is in vain that we look for another. But yet whilst this is true as touching the law, it, nevertheless, does not reject every other way. It does indeed say that satisfaction must be made through ourselves. But it never says, only through ourselves. It does not, therefore, exclude the method of making satisfaction through another. And although God did not express this other method in the law, yet it was comprehended in his secret counsel, and afterwards revealed in the gospel. The law does not, therefore, explain this method, but leaves it to be unfolded by the gospel. Nor is there in this any conflict, or want of agreement between the law and the gospel, inasmuch as the law (as has just been remarked) no where adds the exclusive particle, saying that satisfaction can only be made by ourselves.
4. That we have need of a Mediator with God, may be shown by many other considerations, of which we may mention the following: 1. The chidings and compunctions of conscience. 2. The punishments of the wicked. 3. The sacrifices instituted by God, which referred to, and shadowed forth the perfect sacrifice of Christ. 4. The sacrifices of the heathen and Papists, with which they desired to please God, which had their origin in the feeling, or consciousness of the need of some satisfaction being made in order to our acceptance with God.
It becomes a Mediator to treat with both parties, the offended and offending. It was in this way that Christ performed the office of Mediator, treating with each party.
With God, the offended party, he does these things :--1. He intercedes with the Father for us, and prays that our sin may not be laid to our charge.
2. He offers himself as a satisfaction in our behalf. 3. He makes this satisfaction by dying for us, and enduring a punishment sufficient to meet our case, finite indeed as to time, but infinite in dignity and value. 4. He becomes our surety, that we shall no more offend God by our sins. Without this suretiship intercession finds no place, not even with men, much less with God. 5. He at length effects this promise in us by giving us his Holy Spirit, and everlasting life.
With us, as the offending party, he does these things :-- 1. He presents himself to us as the messenger of the Father, revealing this, his will, that he should present himself as our Mediator, and that the Father accepts of his satisfaction. 2. He makes this satisfaction, and grants and applies it unto us. 3. He works faith in us, by giving us the Holy Spirit, that we may embrace, and not reject this benefit which is offered unto us; because there can be no reconciliation unless each party consents: " He works in us both to will, and to do." (Phil. 2:13.) 4. He brings it to pass by the same Spirit that we leave off sinning and commence a new life. 5. He preserves us in this state of reconciliation by faith and new obedience, and defends us against the devil, and all enemies, even against ourselves, lest we fall. 6. Finally, he will raise us up from the dead, and glorify us, that is, he will perfect the salvation begun, and the gifts which we lost in Adam, as well as those which he has merited for us.
All these things Christ does, obtains, and perfects, not only by his merits, but also by his efficacy. He is,therefore,said to be a Mediator, both in merit and efficacy; because he does not only by his sacrifice merit for us, but he also, by virtue of his Spirit, effectually confers upon us his benefits, which consist in righteousness, and eternal life, according to what is said:
"I lay down my life for the sheep." "I give unto them eternal life." "As the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given unto the Son to have life in himself." "As the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them, so the Son quickeneth whom he will." (John 10:15, 28; 5:21, 46.)
There are many benefits comprehended in the office of the Mediator; for God has instituted it for the purpose of bestowing blessings upon the Church. Paul comprehends these blessings very briefly in four general terms, when he says, "But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who, of God, is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption." (1 Cor. 1:30.) He is made unto us wisdom, 1. Because he is the matter and subject of the wisdom which we possess. "I determined not to know any thing among you save Jesus Christ, and him crucified." "We preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block, and to the Greeks foolishness; but to them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God." (1 Cor. 2:2; 1:24.) 2. Because he is the cause of our wisdom, and that in three ways; because he brought it from the bosom of the Father--instituted, and preserves the ministry of the word, through which he instructs us concerning the will of the Father, and his office as Mediator; and, finally, because he works effectually in the hearts of the elect, so that they assent to the doctrine, and are renewed in the image of God. In a word, Christ is our wisdom, because he is the subject, the author, and the medium. He is our righteousness, that is, our justifier. Our righteousness is in him, as in the subject; and he himself gives this unto us by his merit and efficacy. He is our sanctification, that is, sanctifier; because he regenerates us, and sanctifies us through the Holy Spirit. He is our redemption, that is, redeemer; because he finally delivers us: for the word that is here translated redemption, does not only signify the price, but also the effect and consummation of our redemption.
This question is most wisely connected with the foregoing; for since it is manifest, that satisfaction must be made--that it must be made through another, and that it must be with the satisfaction of the Mediator, which has already been described, we must now enquire, What kind of a Mediator is he.
In answer to this question we would reply, that our Mediator must be man--very man, deriving his nature from our race, and retaining it for ever--a perfectly righteous man, and very God. In a word, he must be a person that is the anthropic, having both natures, the divine and human, in the unity of his person, that he may truly be a middle person, and mediator between God and men.
The proofs concerning the person of the Mediator are drawn from his office; for it was necessary that he should be, and possess all that was included in his office. These proofs have been already presented and explained, in the exposition of the 15th, 16th and 17th Questions of the Catechism, to which we refer the reader.
The Mediator has thus far been spoken of as the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, as we have shown in the eighteenth question of the Catechism.
The sum and substance of what we are to believe in relation to this subject is this, that the Scriptures attribute at the same time these three things to Christ, and to him alone:
First, that he is God. "The Word was God." "All things were made by him." "The Church of God, which he bath purchased with his own blood." "Who was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness." "There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one." (John 1:1. Acts 20:28. Rom. 1:4. 1 John 5:7.) To these declarations of scripture, we may add those which attribute to Christ divine worship, invocation, hearing of prayer, and such works as are peculiar to God alone. Those passages which attribute to Christ the name of Jehovah, are also in point. (Jer. 23:6. Zach. 2:10. Mal. 3:1.) The same thing may in like manner be said of those declarations of Scripture which refer to Christ, the things spoken of Jehovah in the Old Testament. (Is. 9:6. John 12:40, &c.)
2. That he is very man. The humanity of' Christ is proven by those declarations of Scripture which affirm that he was man, the Son of man, the son of David, the son of Abraham, &c. (1 Tim. 2:5. Matt. 1:1; 9:6; 16:13.) Also, those which declare that he was made of the seed of David according to the flesh, that he had a body of flesh, and came in the flesh. (Rom. 1:3. Col. 1:22. 1 John 4:2.) The same thing is also proven by those passages which attribute to Christ things peculiar to man; as, to grow, to eat, to drink, to be ignorant, to be fatigued, to rest, to be circumcised, to be baptized, to weep, to rejoice, &c.
3. That these two natures in Christ constitute one person. Those declarations of Scripture are here in point, which attribute, through the communication of properties, to the person of Christ, those things which are peculiar to the divine, or human nature. "The Word was made flesh." "He partook of flesh and blood." "Before Abraham was, I am." "I am with you aiway, even unto the end of the world." "God hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, by whom also he made the world." "Jesus Christ is come in the flesh." "Who is over all, God blessed for ever." "Had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory." (John 1:14. Heb. 2:14. John 8:38. Matt. 28:20. Heb. 1:1-2. 1 John 4:3. Rom .9:6. 1 Cor. 2:8.)
There is but one Mediator between God and man. The reason of this is, because no one but the Son of God can perform the office of Mediator; and as there is only one natural Son of God, there cannot be more than one Mediator.
Obj. 1. But the saints also make intercession for us. Therefore,they are also mediators. Ans. There is a great difference between the intercession of Christ, and that of the saints who live in the world, and make intercession both for themselves, and others, even their persecutors and enemies:
for the saints depend upon the merits of Christ in order that their intercessions may avail, whilst Christ depends upon his own merits. And still more, Christ alone offered himself a surety, and satisfier, sanctifying himself for us, that is, presenting himself in our stead before the judgment seat of God, which cannot be said of the saints.
Obj. 2. Where there are many means, there must be more than one Mediator. But there are many means of our salvation. Therefore, there are more mediators than one. Ans. We deny the major proposition; for the means, and Mediator of salvation, are not one and the same thing.
It has been shown, that a Mediator is one who reconciles parties that are at variance, as God and men. This reconciliation is called in the Scriptures a Covenant, which has particular reference to the Mediator, inasmuch as every mediator is the mediator of some covenant, and the reconciler of two opposing parties. Hence the doctrine of the Covenant which God made with man, is closely connected with the doctrine of the Mediator. The principal questions which claim our attention in the consideration of this subject, are the following:
A covenant in general is a mutual contract, or agreement between two parties, in which the one party binds itself to the other to accomplish something upon certain conditions, giving or receiving something, which is accompanied with certain outward signs and symbols, for the purpose of ratifying in the most solemn manner the contract entered into, and for the sake of confirming it, that the engagement may be kept inviolate. From this general definition of a covenant, it is easy to perceive what we are to understand by the Covenant here spoken of, which we may define as a mutual promise and agreement, between God and men, in which God gives assurance to men that he will be merciful to them, remit their sins, grant unto them a new righteousness, the Holy Spirit, and eternal life by and for the sake of his Son, our Mediator. And, on the other side, men bind themselves to God in this covenant that they will exercise repentance and faith, or that they will receive with a true faith this great benefit which God offers, and render such obedience as will be acceptable to him. This mutual engagement between God and man is confirmed by those outward signs which we call sacraments, which are holy signs, declaring and sealing unto us God's good will, and our thankfulness and obedience.
A testament is the last will of a testator, in which he at his death declares what disposition he wishes to be made of his goods, or possessions.
In the Scriptures, the terms Covenant and Testament are used in the same sense, for the purpose of explaining more fully and clearly the idea of this Covenant of God; for both of them refer to and express our reconciliation with God, or the mutual agreement between God and men.
This agreement, or reconciliation, is called a Covenant, because God promises to us certain blessings, and demands from us in return our obedience, employing also certain solemn ceremonies for the confirmation thereof.
It is called a Testament, because this reconciliation was made by the interposition of the death of Christ, the testator, that it might be ratified; or because Christ has obtained this reconciliation by his death, and left it unto us, as parents, at their decease, leave their possessions to their children. This reason is adduced by the apostle Paul, in his Epistle to the Hebrews, where he says: "For this cause he is the Mediator of the New Testament, that by means of death, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force, after men are dead; otherwise it is of no strength at all whilst the testator liveth." (Heb. 9:15, 16, 17.) Whilst the testator lives he has the right to change, to take from, or to add any thing which he chooses to his will. The Hebrew word Berith, signifies only a covenant, and not a testament; whilst the Greek word which is used in the Epistle to the Hebrews, signifies both a covenant and a testament, from which it is inferred (as Some suppose) that this Epistle was written not in the Hebrew, but in the Greek language.
Obj. A testament is made by the death of the testator. But God can not die. Therefore his testament is not ratified; or this reconciliation can not be called a testament. Ans. We deny the minor proposition; because God is said to have redeemed the Church with his own blood. Hence he must have died; but it was in his human nature, according to the testimony of the apostle Peter, who says of Christ the testator, who was both God and man, that he was put to death in the flesh. (1 Pet. 3:18.)
This covenant could only be made by a Mediator, as may be inferred from the fact that we, as one of the parties, were not able to satisfy God for our sins, so as to be restored to his favor. Yea, such was our miserable condition that we would not have accepted of the benefit of redemption had it been purchased by another. Then God as the other party, could not, on account of his justice, admit us into his favor without a sufficient satisfaction. We were the enemies of God, and hence there could be no way of access to him, unless by the intercession of Christ, the Mediator, as has been fully shown in the remarks which we have made upon the question--Why was a Mediator necessary? We may conclude, therefore, that this reconciliation was possible only by the satisfaction and death of Christ, the Mediator.
This covenant is one in substance, but two-fold in circumstances; or it is one as it respects the general conditions upon which God enters into an engagement with us, and we with him; and it is two as it respects the conditions which are less general, or as some say, as it respects the mode of its administration.
The Covenant is one in substance. 1. Because there is but one God, one Mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ, one way of reconciliation, one faith, and one way of salvation for all who are and have been saved from the beginning. It is a great question, and one that has been much debated, whether the ancient fathers were saved in a different way from that in which we are saved, which, unless it be correctly explained, throws much obscurity and darkness around the gospel. The following passages of Scripture teach us what we are to believe in relation to this subject: "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever." "And God gave him to be Head over all things to the Church." "From whom the whole body fitly joined together," &c. "No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him." "There is none other name under heaven given whereby we must be saved." "No one knoweth the Father but the Son, and he to whom," &c. "No one cometh to the Father but by me." "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life ;" he means, I am the way by which even Adam obtained salvation. "Many kings and prophets desired to see the things which ye see," &c. "Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it, and was glad." (Heb. 13:8. Eph. 1:22; 4:16. John 1:18. Acts 4:12. Matt. 11:27. John 14:6. Luke 10:24. John 8:56.) All those, therefore, who have been saved, those under the law as well as those under the gospel, had respect to Christ, who is the only Mediator, through whom alone they were reconciled to God and saved. Hence, there is but one covenant.
2. There is but one covenant, because the principal conditions, which are called the substance of the covenant, are the same before and since the incarnation of Christ; for in each testament God promises to those that repent and believe, the remission of sin; whilst men bind themselves, on the other hand, to exercise faith in God, and to repent of their sins.
But there are said to be two covenants, the old and the new, as it respects the circumstances and conditions which are less general, which constitute the form, or the mode of administration, contributing to the principal conditions, in order that the faithful, by their help, may obtain those which are general.
Since there is but one covenant, and the Scriptures speak of it as though it were two, we must consider in what particulars the old and the new covenants agree and in what they differ.
They agree, 1. In having God as their author and Christ as the Mediator. But Moses, some say, was the Mediator of the Old covenant. To this we reply, that he was Mediator only as a type of Christ, who was even then already Mediator, but is now the only Mediator without any type; for Christ having come in the flesh, is no longer covered with types.
2. In the promise of grace concerning the remission of sins, and eternal life granted freely to such as believe by and for the sake of Christ, which promise was common to those who lived under the old covenant, as well as to us; although it is now delivered more clearly, for God promises the same grace to all that believe in the Mediator. "The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head." "I will be a God unto thee and thy seed." "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life." "But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, we shall be saved even as they." (Gen. 3:15; 17:7. John 3:36. Acts 15; 11.) We here speak of the promise of grace in general, and not of the circum stances of grace particularly.
3. In the condition in respect to ourselves. In each covenant, God requires from men faith and obedience. "Walk before me and be thou perfect." "Repent and believe the gospel." (Gen. 17:1. Mark 1:15.) The new covenant, therefore, agrees with the old in that which relates to the principal conditions, both on the part of God, and on the part of man.
The two covenants differ, 1. in the promises of temporal blessings. The old covenant had many special promises in relation to blessings of a temporal character, such as the promise of the land of Canaan, which was to be given to the Church--the form of the ceremonial worship, and of the Mosaic polity, which were to be preserved in the land even to the time of the Messiah--the birth of the Messiah from that people, &c. But the new covenant has no such special promises of temporal blessings, but only such as are general, because God will preserve his church even to the end, and will always provide for it a certain resting place.
2. In the circumstance of the promise of grace. In the old covenant, the faithful were received into the favor of God, on account of the Messiah that was to come, and the sacrifice which he would offer; in the new, the same blessing is obtained for the sake of the Messiah who has already come, and for the sacrifice which he has already offered in our behalf.
3. In the rites, or signs, which are added to the promise of grace. In the old covenant the sacraments were various, and painful, such as circumcision, the passover, oblations and sacrifices. In the new, there are only two sacraments--Baptism- and the Lord's Supper--both of which are simple and significant.
4. In clearness. The old had types and shadows of good things to come. All was typical, as the priests, sacrifices, &c. Hence every thing was more obscure and unintelligible. In the new, we have a fulfillment of all these types, so that every thing is clearer and better understood, both in regard to the sacraments and the doctrine which is revealed.
5. In the gifts which they confer. In the old, the effusion of the Holy Spirit was small and limited; in the new, it is large and full. "I will make a new covenant." "If the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more," &c. "I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh." (Jer. 31:31. 2 Cor. 3:5. Joel 2:28.)
6. In duration. The old was to continue only until the coming of the Messiah; but the new will continue forever. "I will make an everlasting covenant with them." (Jer. 32:40.)
7. In their obligation. The old bound the people to the whole law, the moral, ceremonial, and judicial; the new binds us only to the moral, and to the use of the sacraments of Christ.
8. in their extent. In the old covenant, the church was confined to the Jewish nation, to which it became all those who would be saved to unite themselves. In the new, the church is established among all nations, and is open to all that believe of every nation, rank, condition, or language.
Remark. The old testament, or covenant, is often used in Scripture by a figure of speech, called synedoche, (in which a part is taken for the whole,) for the law, with respect to that part which is especially treated of. For in the old covenant, the law was enforced more strenuously, and there were many parts of it. The gospel was also more obscure. The new testament, or covenant, on the other hand, is for the most part taken for the gospel, because in the new a great part of the law is abrogated, and the gospel is here more clearly revealed.
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