The NT on the Mosaic Covenant

Here is a short extract from Hodge on the various ways the New Testament speaks of the Mosaic covenant:

(1.) When viewed in relation to the people of God before the advent, it is represented as divine and obligatory.
(2.) When viewed in relation to the state of the Church after the advent, it is declared to be obsolete. It is represented as the lifeless husk from which the living kernel and germ have been extracted …
(3.) When viewed according to its true import and design as a preparatory dispensation of the covenant of grace, it is spoken of as preaching the same gospel, the same method of salvation as that which the apostles preached.
(4.) When viewed, in the light in which it was regarded by those who rejected the gospel, as a mere legal system, it was declared to be a ministration of death and condemnation. (2 Cor. iii. 6-18.)
(5.) And when contrasted with the new or Christian economy, as a different mode of revealing the same covenant, it is spoken of as a state of tutelage and bondage, far different from the freedom and filial spirit of the dispensation under which we now live.”
Systematic Theology, 2:376

I think this is a very helpful summary to keep in mind when trying to understand how the NT speaks of the Mosaic Economy, which, as any observer of the current reformed scene knows, is a matter of some controversy!

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4 Responses to “The NT on the Mosaic Covenant”

  1. Greg MacDonald Says:

    Excellent summary – like it! Always found the Marrow to give a terrific overview of the connections between the law and the Gospel even within the Mosaic economy.
    Where are you these days?

  2. Donald John MacLean Says:

    Thanks Greg. We are in Cambridge these days – at Cambridge Presbyterian Church. I’m working down in London so have a long commute each day!

    Things are going well – I’m writing up the last chapter of the thesis (which is hopefully now a PhD) the first week of Feb. It will be nice to have it finished. I have an article on Durham & the Free Offer in the next issue of the Puritan Reformed Journal (should be out very soon) which will hopefully be a helpful piece. The commute actually gives some good time for writing.

  3. Adam Richardson Says:

    Dear Donald – I am an American minister in Moscow, Russia, and am considering pursuing a PhD on Thomas Manton. Are you studying Manton? Are you at Cambridge? I would love to hear about your studies and ask you questions about this. Grace be with you.

  4. John Thomson Says:

    I like most of Hodge’s points except perhaps the following:

    ‘When viewed according to its true import and design as a preparatory dispensation of the covenant of grace, it is spoken of as preaching the same gospel, the same method of salvation as that which the apostles preached.’

    This statement I may wish to quibble over. It depends what Hodge means. If he means merely that the Law and Prophets pointed to Christ then I agree: if he means that the Law is essentially gospel, then I disagree. In fact it did not ‘preach’ gospel but Law. It said, ‘Do this and live’; it did not preach, ‘the just shall live by faith’.

    The Law’s proclamation of Christ is essentially typological and indirect. Even here, ‘Law’ is probably broader than the mosaic covenant, including within it the whole of the Pentateuch at least.

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