Archive for the ‘Covenant of Redemption’ Category

John Owen Conference

August 23, 2008

So this week was spent at the John Owen Today conference.  It was good to meet people I had only made contact with over the internet in the past (e.g. Marty Foord, Mark Jones and John Tweeddale) and to make new contacts.  This was the main benefit of the conference as not many of the papers were directly relevant to my thesis – I was unable to attend the most relevant paper (John Owen’s Gospel Offer: Well Meant or Not). 

The most thought provoking talk for me was the first of the conference by Prof VanAsslet on “COVENANT THEOLOGY AS RELATIONAL THEOLOGY: The Contributions of Johannes Cocceius and John Owen to A Living Reformed Theology”.  The particular point I found interesting was his stress on the relationship between the denial of a distinction between the covenant of redemption and the covenant of grace and eternal justification.  Essentially VanAsslet argued that a proper distinction between the covenant of redemption (the triune God’s eternal counsel) and the covenant of grace (the execution in time of this eternal counsel) helped prevent time (covenant of grace) being swallowed up in eternity (covenant of redemption) thus mitigating against eternal justification.  VanAsslet noted historically if the covenant of grace is collapsed into the covenant of redemption there is the danger of eternal justification emerging (e.g. Gill).

Moving away from the conference, and to keep this blog vaguely related to the free offer the question has again been raised in a recent article – just who is the gospel offered to and must they be sensible sinners.  (The inference of the article was sensible sinners).  Well lets see how James Durham would answer.  So Mr Durham, who is the gospel offered to:

“The person called to this, is expressed thus, if any man, etc. which putteth it so to every hearer, as it it went round to every particular person, if thou, and thou, or thou etc … because where the Lord saith any man, without exception, who is he that can limit the same, where a person of whatsoever condition or qualification is found, that will accept of the offer according to the terms proposed?” (Revelation, Rept. Old Paths, 2000, 274).

Right so the gospel is offered to everyone who hears preaching.  But Mr Durham, are you really sure the gospel offer isn’t restricted to sensible sinners – I mean we would never offer the gospel to those most insensible of sinners, professed atheists, would we?

“We make this offer to all of you, to you who are atheists, to you who are graceless, to you who are ignorant, to you who are hypocrites, to you who are lazy and lukewarm, to the civil and to the profane. We pray, we beseech, we beg you all to come to the wedding … We will not, we dare not say, that all of you will get Christ for a Husband; but we do most really offer Him to you all, and it shall be your own fault if you lack Him and go without Him.” (Unsearchable Riches of Christ, Rept. Soli Deo Gloria, 60)

Finally I found out this week that there is an unpublished manuscript sermon by Samuel Rutherford on Rev 3:20!  I assume that Rutherford takes the same view of this verse as Durham i.e. it is an evangelistic appeal to unbelievers.  In which case this sermon is hugely significant for my thesis and would, perhaps, depending on its length, be worth transcribing and including as an appendix to my thesis.  I need to get up the the National Library of Scotland and read this sermon post haste!

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Weekly Update 41 – Random Quotes From David Dickson (and two from Durham!)

February 9, 2008

I’ve spent about 5 minutes on my thesis this week due to work pressures so I’ve not had time to pull anything together for the blog.  Here are a few quotes from Dickson from Therapeutica Sacra on various topics.

Revealed will/secret will distinction:

…the revealed Will of God in Holy Scripture; wherein is set down to us what we should believe, and what we should do, and what is the Reward of the Obedience of Faith, and what is the Punishment of Disobedience.
p9

Duty faith:

… the Lord hath commanded to repent and turn unto him (offering Reconciliation in Christ) therefore it is my duty so to do.
p10

Understanding of “he descended into hell”:

…not without ground have Orthodox Divines taken in Christ’s Sufferings in His Soul, and the detaining of His Body in the Grave (put in as the close and last part of Christ’s Sufferings) as the true Meaning of that Expression, He descended into Hell…
p76

Definition of the Covenant of Redemption:

This Covenant of Redemption then may be thus described. It is a Bargain, agreed upon between the Father and the Son designed a Mediator, concerning the Elect (lying with the rest of Mankind in the state of Sin and Death, procured by their own Merit) wisely and powerfully to be Converted, Sanctified and Saved, for the Son of God’s Satisfaction and Obedience (in our Nature to be assumed by Him) to be given in due time to the Father, even unto the Death of the Cross.
p38

Definition of the Covenant of Grace:

The Covenant of Grace is a Contract between God and Men, procured by Christ upon these Terms, that whosoever in the sense of their own sinfulness shall receive Christ Jesus offered in the Gospel, for Righteousness and Life, shall have Him and all the Benefits purchased by Him, according to the Covenant of Redemption; and that God will be his God, and the God of his Children.
p126-7

Mosaic covenant – grace or works?:

Such was the Covenant, which the carnal Israelites made with God in the Wilderness, and which their Posterity did follow, turning the Covenant of Grace, whereunto God was calling them into a Covenant of Works of their own framing: For, the Grace which was offered to them in Christ, under the veil of Levitical Types, Figures and ceremonies, they turned into an external service of performance only of bare and dead Ceremonies, and into a Ministry of the Letter and Death: For they did not take up Christ to be the End of the law, for Righteousness to every one that believes in Him, but did think, that both the Moral and Ceremonial Law was given unto them of God, to the intent that they should do the external Works of the Moral Law so far as they could; and when they transgressed the Moral Law, they should flie to the Ceremonial Law, and make amends for their Faults by satisfying for their Sin by the external Sacrifice of some clean Beast offered to God, or by the washing of their body, and their Clothes.
p120-1

Which is in line with what James Durham says:

Distinguish betwixt God’s intention in giving, and the believers in Israel their making use of this law; and the carnal multitude among that people their way of receiving it, and corrupt abusing it contrary to the Lord’s mind. In the first sense it was a covenant of grace: In the second, it turned to be a covenant of works to them; and therefore it is that the Lord rejects (as we may see, Isai. 1. 13. and 66. 2,3. Jer. 7. 22.) their sacrifices and services as not commanded, because rested on by them, to the prejudice of grace, and contrary to the strain and scope of this law complexly considered.
James Durham, The Law Unsealed, Edinburgh: Thomas Lumisden and John Robertson, 1735, p6

They would both direct, “Ye would distinguish betwixt this law, as given to Adam, and as given to Israel: for, as given to him, it was a covenant of works; but, as given to them, ‘tis a covenant of grace…” (Durham, p15).

The decree of election and unbelief:

First, God so executeth and perfecteth the Decree of Election, that in the mean time He hindereth none, of all the Hearers of the Gospel, from receiving the Grace of Christ offered therein. He excludeth no Man from embracing the Covenant; but, on the contrair, He opens the Door to all that are called, to enter into (as it were) the outer Court of His dwelling House, that they may so draw more near to Him; and so He doth not particularly manifest any Mans Reprobation.
p136-7

Lots more helpful material, but I’d better stop now.  Hopefully back to Dickson on the free offer next week.