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peace to his disciples, 76. He declared it to be his prerogative to bestow on all his people the blessings of that Covenant.
The Redeemer, foretelling his address to be delivered at the day of judgment to his enemies of all ages of the world,—“ I never knew you : depart from me,” intimated that he would not recognise them as covenant children ; and declaring of his people,-—" I am the good Shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine,” he taught that they know him, as they alone do who take hold on God's covenant.77
Allusions to the seal imply the doctrine of Covenanting. The declaration,—“ He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true,
1978 refers to a solemn covenant attestation to the truth.
The people of God designating the Redeemer, as the “ High Priest of our profession,"79 recognise him as bestowing grace upon them, to take hold on God's covenant, and to continue to cleave to it.
In the Epistles, there is distinctly brought into view an inheritance which is not else than the blessings provided in God's covenant, and appropriated in adhering to it.
The designations,—“Children of the kingdom," 81 “ Followers of God as dear children," 82 “ Friends (of Christ),” 83 “ Heirs of God," 84 - God's heritage, “the bride, the Lamb's wife,” 86 “ Perfect, or possessed of integrity, healthful, safe, willing, complete, “sanctified,” are all calculated to point out the covenant relation and privileges, and duties, of the people of God; and, accordingly, to show that by special explicit
76 John xiv. 27. 77 Is. xix, 21.
78 John iii. 33. iii. 1. 80 Col. iii. 24, and 1 Pet. i. 4, 5. 81 Mat. xiii. 38.
Eph. v. 1. 83 John xv. 14. 84 Rom. viii. 17. 85 1 Pet. v. 3, 86 Rev. xxi, 9. 87 Philip. iii. 15.
engagements they should devote themselves to him; and the representation of the Church as the “ Pillar and ground (stay) of the truth,” 88 teaches that her duty is to make an unequivocal and steadfast public profession of Divine truth.
The Covenant of God, from the last dispensation being introduced as the “New Covenant," and as one of the covenants of promise, 89 is represented by the last inspired writers as extended, both in regard to its blessings and its duties, to the latest
And, by some of the evangelists and apostles, the Covenant of God is exhibited as a testament. By them the dispensations' of Divine mercy to men, are represented as being each both a covenant and a testament. By them are applied such representations to each of the dispensations—both to the former dispensations, and to the last of them. The conclusion, therefore, to which we are brought by them is, that each, as a testament, is essentially an exhibition of a corresponding covenant, or a given dispensation of one covenant. The truth is, that the Covenant of God, under each dispensation, includes in it a testament, or that every dispensation of grace, whether in former times, or in the last times, viewed as a testament, is a covenant. Every testament is a covenant, and each of those dispensations is at once a testa ment and the Covenant of God. Take first the present dispensation.
A testament, like every covenant, has a stipulation, or promise and demand; in both, good is offered, and duty required. In this dispensation, the blessings of God's favour are offered, and obedience to the law of Christ is required; it has, therefore, one character, both of a covenant and of a testament. A testament, like every covenant, when acceded to, has a re-stipulation, or engagement corresponding to the stipu88 | Tim, iii, 15. 89 Heb. viii, 13; Eph. i. 12
90 Heb. ix. 15.
In the present dispensation, when the overtures of Divine grace are acceded to, there is tendered an acceptance of Christ and all his benefits, and the promise of obedience in dependence on his strength. It has, therefore, another mark common to both a testament and a covenant. A testament and a covenant have alike a seal or ratification. The seal of the testament is not valid till the death of the testator; the overtures of Divine mercy were ratified or sealed by the death of Christ.
The present dispensation has, therefore, the third and last mark both of a testament and of a covenant. It has, consequently, all the characteristics of a testament, and of a dispensation of the Covenant of Grace. It must, therefore, now appear how the idea of the present dispensation being a covenant is contemplated in the New Testament, even while it is described as a testament. The coincidence between a covenant, and a testament as a particular case of it, explains how the Greek term dizohen is capable of being rendered sometimes by the word testament, and, at others, by the word covenant; and shews the error of the insinuation, so derogatory of the inspiration of the Scriptures, that the Apostle Paul, finding that this Greek term, which is used for covenant, meant, in some connections, a testament, therefore proceeded to unfold the covenant of God as a testament. The reason why the apostle, guided by inspiration, exhibited the Covenant of God as a testament, was, that it is in reality a testament. Yea, the fact that that covenant is a testament, must have been the reason why, even before the days of the apostle, even that Greek word had, from direct or indirect communication between the Greeks and the Israelites, acquired the twofold import. Hence, besides, it is doing no service to the interpretation of the Scriptures, to attempt to shew that in the passage
of the Epistle to the Hebrews, 91 where the covenant is represented as a testament, either that the term diabýxn there, must have only the meaning testament, or that it must be rendered covenant exclusively throughout. In some parts of the passage it means the one, in others the other, in others both. It means both in the original of the passage, " And for this cause he is the Mediator of the New Testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.” It means a testament in that of the following, 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 while the testator liveth.” In the original of the words, “ Whereupon neither the first (testament understood) was dedicated without blood,” it means properly a covenant ratified by the blood of sacrifice, and, consequently, a testament. And it means both in the original of the words that follow, “ This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you.” The parallelism between the death of the testator and the shedding of the blood of the covenant, is beautiful, and it cannot be destroyed. In the case of the death of Christ, it becomes an identity. The death of the testator is there the shedding of the blood of the covenant!
We have seen that the last dispensation is both a covenant and a testament; but so was the former. The blood of sacrifice was typical at once of the blood of the Mediator, and of his death as the great Testator. The blessings of his purchase in the first ages were, even as in the last, testamentary. They were not reversionary, but no less by bequest and no less sure than they had
1 Heb. ix. 15—20.
been had he, whose death by sacrifice was continually pointed out antecedently, really died.
In conclusion, from the whole,
It is manifest, that to represent Covenanting as a mere Jewish thing, is an error. It was engaged in before the father of the Hebrew race was called. It was practised when the Levitical economy was on the verge of dissolution, and attended to in the apostolic age by churches that were not subjected to its peculiar institutes. It was provided for the Church, whether existing in Old or New Testament times. It was independent of the peculiarities of the former dispensations, though it attracted to itself the performance of their characteristic observances. It was by Covenanting that the Church was incorporated ; by it the Church has been hitherto kept distinct from the world ; and by it, throughout all time, she will prove herself to be the heir of the Covenant promise of God, made from eternity, and to be bestowed in time and eternity to come.