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CHAP. IX. - Of the Abrogation of the Covenant of Works on the part of God.

I. HAVING sufficiently considered the violation of the covenant by sin; let us now enquire whether, and how far it is made void, or abrogated by God himself.

II. And first, we are very certain, that there are many things in this covenant of immutable and eternal truth, which we reckon up in this order: 1st. The precepts of the covenant, excepting that probatory one, oblige all, and every one to a perfect performance of duty, in what state soever they are. 2dly. Eternal life, promised by the covenant, can be obtained upon no other condition, than that of perfect, and in every respect complete obedience. 3dly. No act of disobedience escapes the vengeance of God, and death is always the punishment of sin. But these maxims do not exclude a surety, who may come under engagements in manís stead, to undergo the penalty, and perform the condition. But we shall speak of this afterwards, and now proceed to what has been proposed.

III. It is indeed a most destructive heresy to maintain, that man, sinful and obnoxious to punishment, is not bound to obedience. For by no misconduct of man, can God forfeit his right and supremacy; but the right and supremacy of God requires, that man, and even every creature, be subject in all respects to God, so far as possible. Moreover, the rational creature, such as sinful man is, and does continue to be, can be subject, not only to the natural, but also to the moral providence of God; nor only to his vindictive justice, but also to his legislative authority; and as he can, so he ought to be subject to him, as to the obligation of obedience, because every possible subjection is essential to the creature.

IV. If the sinner who deserves punishment was not subject to the law, he could no longer sin, and therefore by one sin he would set himself free from, the danger of farther sinning; for where no law is binding, there is no transgression, no sin, which John defines to be the transgression of the law, 1 John iii. 4. But nothing can be imagined more absurd, than that man by sin has acquired an impeccability.

V. Moreover, according to this hypothesis, all sinners would be equal, and an equal degree of punishment remain for every one; which is contrary, both to sound reason and scripture, where the inequality of sins and punishment, is so often inculcated.

VI. There is a plain passage, Gal. v. 3. which confirms, that even by the promulgation of the new gospel covenant, the breakers of the covenant who are without Christ, are not set free from that obligation of the law, which demands perfect obedience, but continue debtors to do the whole law.

VII. Nay, even in a human court, the penal compact is deemed an additional compact, adding to the principal convention, and consequently not abrogating, but accumulating the former obligation. Much less at the bar of God, can the obligation to punishment, arising from the

learned person not improperly says in the words we have just quoted: "So that the same law, abolished in the Redeemer as the law of sin, becomes the law of the Saviour and bestows righteousness on those who are his:" which he has at large and learnedly explained on Rom. viii. 2. In a word, the same law which was to man in innocence a commandment to life, and is to man in sin, the law of sin, giving him up to the dominion and guilt of sin, becomes again in the Redeemer the law of the spirit of life, testifying that satisfaction was made to it by the Redeemer, and bestowing on man, who by faith is become one with the Redeemer, all the fruits of righteousness for justification, sanctification, and glorification. All the change is in the state of the man, none in the law of the covenant, according to which man, in whatever state he is, is judged. Which things seem not to have escaped the observation of the learned person himself; when, Summa Theolog. c. xxxi. ß 1. he speaks to this purpose. Nevertheless, when we say this, we mean, that this fourfold abolition and removal of the covenant concerning works to be done, which is connected without our own happiness, is founded on the same law: not that this could be done by virtue of the law in itself alone, but that the intervention of a surety and redeemer made it, at last possible to the law. I allow that what he calls the abolition of the covenant concerning works, is founded in the law of works; but I leave it to the readerís consideration, whether it is not a strange way of talking, to say, that "the abolition and removal of the law, is founded on the law itself, and that the intervention of a surety and redeemer made it, at last, possible to the law;" namely, that itself should effect its own abolition and removal? From all which I conclude, that it will be more proper to treat of these things when we speak of the fruits and effects of the covenant of grace, than when considering the abolition of the covenant of works: which is on no account abolished, but in so far as it is become

 

 

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