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dience. The person who is reduced to the last stage of weakness by a mortal disease, is as incapable of raising a weight of ten pounds, as a weight of a hundred. I conclude, therefore, that this view of the covenant of grace is erroneous, has no foundation in Scripture, is contrary to the moral attributes of God, fosters pride, overthrows the gospel of Christ, and is calculated to deceive sinners, with the vain hope of obtaining salvation by their own efforts, while the terms which it proposes are not more within the compass of their ability than the strictest and most extensive demands.

LECTURE XLIX.

ON THE COVENANT OF GRACE.

Condition of the Covenant-Preliminary Remarks on the Engagement to perform it into which

the Son entered—The Condition included, First, Perfect Obedience to the Precepts of the Law; Secondly, Satisfactory Sufferings for the Sins of his People—Promises of the Cove nant considered as they respected Christ himself and as they respected the Elect-View of the Blessings promised to the Elect.

A COVENANT is an agreement between two parties who come under mutual engagements. Something is to be done by one of the parties, in consequence of which the other party binds himself to do another thing in return. When a master, for example, enters into an agreement or covenant with a servant, he prescribes certain duties to be performed by the servant, and promises to recompense him with suitable wages. By consenting to the compact, the servant becomes bound to perform the stipulated work, and the master is bound to bestow the reward when the term of labour is finished. In a covenant therefore, there are two parts, a condition with a promise ; and sometimes a penalty is added to be executed in case of failure. The two former are found in the covenant of grace; and I now proceed to consider them in their order.

The condition of a covenant is that work or service which gives the performer a right to the promised reward. In order to learn what was the condition of the covenant of grace, let us remember that Jesus Christ, by becoming the surety of his people, took upon himself those terms which it would have been necessary for them to fulfil, in order to obtain the favor of God, and a title to happiness. What these were, will appear, if we consider the original obligation under which man was placed by his Creator, and the situation into which he had brought himself by disobedience. The first covenant enjoined perfect obedience to the Divine law as the condition of life; and the will of the Maker of the covenant was signified to Adam, in the prohibition to taste the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. As the prohibition was not founded on the nature of things, but on the sovereign will of God, it was a clear intimation to our first parent, that his hope of continued and augmented felicity was suspended upon his unreserved submission to the authority of his Creator. He was to obey him in every thing, and to ask no reason but his command; he was to live for him alone, and to consecrate all his powers to his service. Such was the original condition of the covenant; But something more is now demanded, in consequence of the melancholy change which has taken place in the circumstances of man. As he was a fallible ereature, a penalty was added in the beginning to enforce the precept, and to vindicate the honour of the Lawgiver, if the covenant was violated. To this penalty, Adam became obnoxious as soon as he had sinned; and his descendants are under the sentence of death, which was first pronounced upon him.

Hence we perceive what must have been, and actually was, the condition of the covenant of grace. For what was requisite that fallen man might enjoy peace with his offended Maker, and regain the happiness which he had lost by transgression ? Although the first covenant had been broken, its claims subsisted in full force. It still demanded that perfect obedience which man had failed to yield, and in consequence of this failure, farther demanded that its penalty or curse should be executed upon the guilty. As man could not himself satisfy these claims, they devolved upon his surety, and that too, without any abatement; for, to suppose them to have been relaxed, on account of the dignity of the person, and his intimate relation to the Father, is to suppose God to have been less holy and just in the covenant of grace, than in the corenant of works. You see, then, that the fulfilment of the terms of the one covenant, was the express condition of the other. All that was required from sinners was required from their Saviour. The second covenant could not be established but by an exact compliance with the requisitions of the first. And the demands of the first covenant were enlarged by the breach of it; for, from man in a state of innocence, it required only obedience to its precepts; but from guilty man, and from Christ his representative, it required not only obedience but suffering.

Before I proceed to explain, more distinctly, the condition of the covenant, there are some remarks to be made upon the engagement into which our Saviour entered to perform it. The engagement was perfectly voluntary on his part; there existed no prior obligation, nor was there any authority by which he could be compelled to it. As a divine person, he was subject to no law, and acknowledged no superior; for, although we call the Father the first Person of the Trinity, we do not assign to him any pre-eminence of dignity and power, but merely state the order of subsistence. To suppose the Son to be inferior to him, would be inconsistent with the belief, that the same individual essence, and consequently the same perfections, belong equally to both. He “thought it not robbery to be equal with God."* Supreme dominion is necessarily attached to true and proper Divinity. The Son is “ King of kings, and Lord of lords.” With this supreme authority which we attribute to him, the engagement into which he entered to perform the condition of the covenant, was not incompatible. It was an act of his will, concurring with his Father in the scheme of redemption, and consenting to exeeute the part of the work which was allotted to him ; but it did not imply a present subjection to the authority of his Father, or the immediate assumption of an inferior station. It was merely a purpose thus expressed, to assume that station at the proper period; a promise to descend to the earth in the fulness of time, and to appear in the form of a servant. By this promise of obedience, to be afterwards performed in the nature of man, the Son, as God, no more subjected himself to the Father, than the Father subjected himself to the Son, by promising to give him a right to demand the stipulated reward. I would not, however, be understood to insinuate, that he was not, from eternity, constituted our Surety, and that he only assumed his character at a posterior date. If grace was given to us in Christ before the world began, and the elect were then chosen in him to salvation, there seems to be a necessity for admitting, that a relation was then formed between him and his people; but it could not immediately have all the effect which it afterwards had, when he was manifested in the flesh. But it gave him a present interest in them ; it was the foundation of that gracious economy which commenced after the fall, and which he carried on by his Spirit, and by the external ministry of angels and prophets; and it was the ground on which God pardoned sinners, and bestowed spiritual blessings upon them, prior to the incarnation and death of his Son.

. Phil. ü. 6.

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I shall afterwards take an opportunity to speak of Christ as Mediator, and of the mysterious constitution of his person. It is certain that he is Mediator in both natures, the divine and the human; and hence it may seem to follow, that in both he is subject to the Father; and the difficulty remains, how one Divine Person could be subject to another. The proper solution of it, I think, is to consider the subjection, so far as the divine nature was concerned, as merely economical ; and, being voluntary on the part of the Son, submitted to only for a time, and to promote a particular design, it manifestly does not imply any degradation. He did not surrender his Divinity, or any of his perfections, or any of his rights, but solely consented to sustain, for a season, a subordinate office, for the glory of the Godhead, and the salvation of a perishing world. Retaining his original glory, he was pleased to draw a veil over it in the eyes of men; to empty himself, according to the strong language of Scripture, and take upon him the form of a servant. The case would be similar, as far, at least, as human can resemble Divine things, if the son of a king, who was associated with him in the throne, should condescend, for reasons of state, to receive and execute the orders of his father. His title to supreme authority would be unimpaired, and, in fact, he would actually retain it undiminished, although he had waived the exercise of it for a time. The subjection of the human nature to the Father, was real, like that of any other creature to the Creator. It was different, indeed, from any other creature, in this respect, that the second person of the Trinity had united it to himself; but, in consequence of this union, there was no communication of properties from the one nature to the other, so that the human was deified, and raised above the authority of law. Although subsisting in the same hypostasis with the divine nature of the Son, it continued perfectly distinct, and was consequently under the same moral obligation, which binds the highest as well as the lowest creature to obey the will of the Author of its being. We may therefore say, that Christ as Mediator was subject to his Father, using the word, subject, in such a sense as is not inconsistent with his Supreme Divinity, and always remembering, that his subjection in the divine nature was voluntary and temporary, but in the human nature is necessary and perpetual. The necessity of maintaining the subjection of his whole person as sustaining the mediatorial character to the Father is obvious, because the acts of his human nature alone would not have accomplished the redemption of his people. A higher agency was requisite to fulfil the terms of the covenant. The Son of God must be made under the law, and the Lord of glory must be crucified.

I now proceed to speak more particularly of the condition of the covenant, which our Surety fulfilled. In many theological books, we are taught that it comprehended the three following things, holiness of nature, righteousness of life, and satisfaction for sin by sufferings and death. To answer these demands, our Redeemer assumed human nature without a stain, gave perfect obedience to the precepts of the law, and shed his blood as an atonement for sin. I am disposed to call in question the accuracy of this statement. To the second and third particular I have no objection, and believe that they were truly the terms of the covenant; but I do not see that the first was any part of the condition. My reason for dissenting in this instance from the common opinion, is that, besides satisfaction to divine justice, which is now required in consequence of sin, no other thing can be conceived to be the condition of the covenant of grace, which was not the condition of the covenant of works. Now, holiness of nature was not part of that condition, because man already was possessed of it when the covenant was made, and all therefore that could be required of him was, that he should act agreeably to the principles and dispositions with which his Maker had endowed him. A condition bears reference to the future, and implies something to be done. No man enters into a

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covenant with another, on the ground of what he at present is, but on the ground of what he promises to be or to do. God did not promise eternal life to Adam, because he had a holy nature, but in the event of his obeying the command which he had given him respecting the tree of knowledge. The only condition prescribed to him was obedience, and it is the only condition, therefore, which could be prescribed to his Surety. It is true indeed that man, having lost the holiness of his nature, is bound to account for it; but this is done, not by substituting the holiness of the human nature of Christ as a compensation for the want of it, but by his atonement on the cross for all sin original and actual: and being indispensably necessary to communion with God and the enjoyment of heaven, it is restored to the elect by the operation of his Spirit. The holiness of his human nature, I consider rather as a qualification for the work which he was appointed to perform, than as any part of the work itself. It was necessary that it should be a holy thing, not only because an impure nature would not have been admitted into personal union with the divine, but because it would not have been acceptable to God, or capable of performing a single action of which he would approve. Its holiness was an indispensable pre-requisite, according to his own saying. "First make the tree good, and then the fruit will be good.” The Father therefore engaged to provide it, and actually gave it to him at the appointed time. “ Wherefore, when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldst not, but a body hast thou prepared me.” * These are the words of our Saviour, and they imply, that the human nature was given to him by his Father that he might have something to offer, namely, the immaculate oblation of his body and soul. We believe that all that our Saviour did and suffered in the character of our Surety was meritorious of salvation. But there is no merit in the simple possession of a gift, however excellent in itself; and merit arises from the proper use of the gist, from the use of it according to the will of the giver, and for the purposes which he had in view in bestowing it. The holiness of the human nature of Christ was a gift of his father, by which he was qualified for his work, and in receiving it, considered as a man, he was passive. There was therefore no place for merit, although his unspotted purity was in the highest degree pleasing in the eyes of his Father. His merit consisted in the use of the gift, in retaining his holy nature amidst all the temptations of Satan and the world, and in exerting its faculties in the service of his Father. It could not therefore be a part of the condition of the covenant, which consisted in active duties, in doing something which God had enjoined, and to which he had promised a reward. For these reasons, I reject the first particular which is usually mentioned as included in the condition of the covenant, and shall confine your attention to the second and the third.

First, The Father required from our Surety perfect obedience to the precepts of the law. Such obedience was demanded from man under the first covenant; and as the obligation of the moral law is not founded on occasional circumstances, but on the nature and relation of God and his creatures, the same obedience must have been required in the second. There was no possibility that man could obtain happiness unless this obedience was performed by himself, or by another whom the Lawgiver should admit to act in his name. • If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments,” † is the answer which the law returns to the sinner, who asks what he shall do to inherit that life. It is evident that the same obedience was required from our Saviour, when acting as our federal head. As he is said 10 have been made under the law, when he was made of a woman, so we hear him expressing, in the view of his future incarnation, his intention to fulfil it: “I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy law is within my heart." He knew and loved the law, Heb. x, 5. † Matt. xix. 17.

# Ps. xl. 8.

and he came into the world to honour it by submission to its authority. He was always ready to recognise his obligation to obedience. By receiving baptism from the hands of his forerunner, he solemnly and publicly dedicated himself to the service of his Father; and his whole conduct was a commentary upon his own declaration : “I must work the works of him that sent me while it is day; the night cometh, when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world."* Accordingly he diffused on all around him the light of holiness, as well as of heavenly doctrine.

In every relation and condition of life, in his conduct towards friends and enemies, in peace and in trouble, before the eyes of the public and in retirement with his own followers, he exhibited a perfect example of it. He glorified God, he loved man, he went about doing good. As he boldly challenged his enemies to convict him of sin, so he reckoned with the utmost confidence upon the approbation of his Father. “He that sent me, is with me; the Father hath not left me alone, for I do always those things that please him." +

It may be objected, that the obedience of Christ, however perfect, could not be available for us since he owed it for himself, because as man he was subject to the same moral law, which is obligatory upon all mankind. Its merit, therefore, could not be imputed to others, but must have terminated upon himself. Different answers may be returned to this objection. It may be said in the first place, that, although it was performed in the human nature, it was the obedience of our Mediator in his whole person, and consequently, that he did not owe it for himself, because, being the Son of God, he was not subject to the law. It may be alleged indeed, that as Mediator he was subject to the Father in the sense already explained; but it should be considered that, this subjection being voluntary, the obedience which resulted from it was not necessary for himself, and could therefore be accepted in behalf of those for whose benefit it was intended. It may be said again, that even his human nature owed no obedience for itself, in order to its admission into heaven, but in virtue of its union to his Divine person, was immediately entitled to all the glory and felicity of which it was capable. Whatever obedience, therefore, he performed upon earth and in a state of humiliation and trial, was not upon his own account; and hence, according to justice, the benefit of it might be transferred to his people. It may be said once more, that, although the human nature of Christ was necessarily subject to the law of God as the eternal rule of righteousness to all intelligent creatures, yet it was from choice that it became subject to the law in that particular form, in which it was binding upon men. To them it bore the form of a covenant; but this form was incidental and temporary, and would have ceased as soon as the condition was fulfilled. “The obligation of the law under this consideration,” says Dr. Owen, “ ceaseth when we come to the enjoyment of the reward. It obligeth us no more formally by its command, Do this and live, when the life promised is enjoyed. In this sense, the Lord Christ was not made subject to the law for himself, nor did yield obedience unto it for himself. For he was not obliged unto it by virtue of his created condition. Upon the first instant of the union of his natures, being holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners, he might, notwithstanding the law that he was made subject unto, have been stated in glory. For he that was the object of all divine worship, needed not any new obedience to procure for him a state of blessedness, And had he naturally, merely by virtue of his being a creature, been subject to the law in this sense, he must have been so eternally, which he is not. For those things which depend solely upon the natures of God and the creature, are eternal and immutable. Wherefore, as the law in this sense was given unto us, not absolutely, but with respect unto a future state and reward; so • John is. 4, 5.

† Ib. viii. 29.

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