Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Sinai and The Covenant of Works

Extended Excerpt From The Marrow of Modern Divinity

by Edward Fisher with Notes by Thomas Boston

EVANGELISTA, a Minister of the Gospel.

NOMIST, a Legalist.
ANTINOMISTA, an Antinomian.
NEOPHYTUS, a Young Christian.

Chapter II, Section II, 3 
The law, as the covenant of works, added to the promise.

Ant. But whether were the ten commandments, as they were delivered to them on Mount Sinai, the covenant of works or no?

Evan. They were delivered to them as the covenant of works. 1

Nom. But, by your favour, sir, you know that these people were the posterity of Abraham, and therefore under that covenant of grace which God made with their father; and therefore I do not think
that they were delivered to them as the covenant of works; for you know the Lord never delivers the covenant of works to any that are under the covenant of grace.

Evan. Indeed it is true, the Lord did manifest so much love to the body of this nation, that all the natural seed of Abraham were externally, and by profession, under the covenant of grace made with their father Abraham; though, it is to be feared, many of them were still under the covenant of works made with their father Adam. 2

Nom. But, sir, you know, in the preface to the ten commandments, the Lord calls himself by the name of their God in general; and therefore it should seem that they were all of them the people of God. 3

Evan. That is nothing to the purpose; 4 for many wicked and ungodly men, being in the visible church, and under the external covenant, are called the chosen of God, and the people of God, though they be not so. In like manner were many of these Israelites called the people of God, though indeed they were not so.

Nom. But, sir, was the same covenant of works made with them that was made with Adam?

Evan. For the general substance of the duty, the law delivered on Mount Sinai, and formerly engraven on man's heart, was one and the same; so that at Mount Sinai the Lord delivered no new thing, only it came more gently to Adam before his fall, but after his fall came thunder with it.

Nom. Ay, sir, but as yourself said, the ten commandments, as they were written in Adam's heart, were but the matter of the covenant of works, and not the covenant itself, till the form was annexed to them, that is to say, till God and man were thereupon agreed: now, we do not find that God and these people did agree upon any such terms at Mount Sinai.

Evan. No; 5 say you so? do you not remember that the Lord consented and agreed, when he said, (Lev 18:5), "Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, which if a man do, he shall live in them"; and in Deuteronomy 27:26, when he said, "Cursed is he that confirmeth not all the words of this law, to do them?" And do you not remember that the people consented, (Exo 19:8), and agreed, when they said, "All that the Lord hath spoken we will do?" And doth not the apostle Paul give evidence that these words were the form of the covenant of works, when he says, (Rom 10:5), "Moses describeth that righteousness which is of the law, that the man that doeth these things shall live in them"; and when he says, (Gal 3:10), "For it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them?" 6 And in Deuteronomy 4:13, Moses, in express terms, calls it a covenant, saying, "And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even the ten commandments, and he wrote them upon tables of stone." Now, this was not the covenant of grace; for Moses afterwards, (Deut 5:3), speaking of this covenant, says, "God made not this covenant with your fathers, but with you"; and by "fathers" all the patriarchs unto Adam may be meant, [says Mr. Ainsworth,] who had the promise of the covenant of Christ. 7 Therefore, if it had been the covenant of grace, he would have said, God did make this covenant with them, rather than that he did not. 8

Nom. And do any of our godly and modern writers agree with you on this point?

Evan. Yes, indeed. Polonus says, "The covenant of works is that in which God promiseth everlasting life unto a man that in all respects performeth perfect obedience to the law of works, adding thereunto threatenings of eternal death, if he shall not perform perfect obedience thereto. God made this covenant in the beginning with the first man Adam, whilst he was in the first estate of integrity: the same covenant God did repeat and make again by Moses with the people of Israel." And Dr. Preston, on the New Covenant, [p. 317,] says, "The covenant of works runs in these terms, 'Do this and thou shalt live, and I will be thy God.' This was the covenant which was made with Adam, and the covenant that is expressed by Moses in the moral law." And Mr. Pemble [Vind. Fid. p. 152] says, "By the covenant of works, we understand what we call in one word 'the law,' namely, that means of bringing man to salvation, which is by perfect obedience unto the will of God. Hereof there are also two several administrations; the first is with Adam before his fall, when immortality and happiness were promised to man, and confirmed by an external symbol of the tree of life, upon condition that he continued obedient to God, as well in all other things, as in that particular commandment of not eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The second administration of this covenant was the renewing thereof with the Israelites at Mount Sinai; where, after the light of nature began to grow darker, and corruption had in time worn out the characters of religion and virtue first grave in man's heart, 9 God revived the law by a compendious and full declaration of all duties required of man towards God or his neighbour, expressed in the decalogue; according to the tenor of which law God entered into covenant with the Israelites, promising to be their God in bestowing upon them all blessings of life and happiness, upon condition that they would be his people, obeying all things that he had commanded; which condition they accepted of, promising an absolute obedience, (Exo 19:8), 'all things which the Lord hath said we will do'; and also submitting themselves to all punishment in case they disobeyed, saying, 'Amen' to the curse of the law, 'Cursed be every one that confirmeth not all the words of the law: and all the people shall say, Amen.'" And Mr. Walker, on the Covenant, [p. 128,] says, that "the first part of the covenant, which God made with Israel at Horeb, was nothing else but a renewing of the old covenant of works, 10 which God made with Adam in paradise." And it is generally laid down by our divines, that we are by Christ delivered from the law as it is a covenant. 11

Nom. But, sir, were the children of Israel at this time better able to perform the condition of the covenant of works, than either Adam or any of the old patriarchs were, that God renewed it now with them, rather than before?

Evan. No, indeed; God did not renew it with them now, and not before, because they were better able to keep it, but because they had more need to be made acquainted what the covenant of works is, than those before. For though it is true the ten commandments, which were at first perfectly written in Adam's heart, were much obliterated 12 by his fall, yet some impressions and relics thereof still remained; 13 and Adam himself was very sensible of his fall, and the rest of the fathers were helped by tradition; 14 and, says Cameron, "God did speak to the patriarchs from heaven, yea, and he spake unto them by his angels"; 15 but now, by this time, sin had almost obliterated and defaced the impressions of the law written in their hearts; 16 and by their being so long in Egypt, they were so corrupted, that the instructions and ordinances of their fathers were almost worn out of mind; and their fall in Adam was almost forgotten, as the apostle testifies, (Rom 5:13,14), saying, "Before the time of the law, sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law." Nay, in that long course of time betwixt Adam and Moses, men had forgotten what was sin; so, although God had made a promise of blessing to Abraham, and to all his seed, that would plead interest in it, 17 yet these people at this time were proud and secure, and heedless of their estate; and though "sin was in them, and death reigned over them," yet they being without a law to evidence this sin and death unto their consciences, 18 they did not impute it unto themselves, they would not own it, nor charge themselves with it; and so, by consequence, found no need of pleading the promise made to Abraham; 19 (Rom 5:20), therefore, "the law entered," that Adam's offence and their own actual transgression might abound, so that now the Lord saw it needful, that there should be a new edition and publication of the covenant of works, the sooner to compel the elect unbelievers to come to Christ, the promised seed, and that the grace of God in Christ to the elect believers might appear the more exceeding glorious. So that you see the Lord's intention therein was, that they, by looking upon this covenant might be put in mind what was their duty of old, when they were in Adam's loins; yea, and what was their duty still, if they would stand to that covenant, and so go the old and natural way to work; yea, and hereby they were also to see what was their present infirmity in not doing their duty: 20 that so they seeing an impossibility of obtaining life by that way of works, first appointed in paradise, they might be humbled, and more heedfully mind the promise made to their father Abraham, and hasten to lay hold on the Messiah, or promised seed.

Nom. Then, sir, it seems that the Lord did not renew the covenant of works with them, to the intent that they should obtain eternal life by their yielding obedience to it?

Evan. No, indeed; God never made the covenant of works with any man since the fall, either with expectation that he should fulfil it, 21 or to give him life by it; for God never appoints any thing to an end, to the which it is utterly unsuitable and improper. Now the law, as it is the covenant of works, is become weak and unprofitable to the purpose of salvation; 22 and, therefore, God never appointed it to man, since the fall, to that end. And besides, it is manifest that the purpose of God, in the covenant made with Abraham, was to give life and salvation by grace and promise; and, therefore, his purpose in renewing the covenant of works, was not, neither could be, to give life and salvation by working; for then there would have been contradictions in the covenants, and instability in him that made them. Wherefore let no man imagine that God published the covenant of works on Mount Sinai, as though he had been mutable, and so changed his determination in that covenant made with Abraham; neither, yet let any man suppose, that God now in process of time had found out a better way for man's salvation than he knew before: for, as the covenant of grace made with Abraham had been needless, if the covenant of works made with Adam would have given him and his believing seed life; so, after the covenant of grace was once made, it was needless to renew the covenant of works, to the end that righteousness of life should be had by the observation of it. The which will yet more evidently appear, if we consider, that the apostle, speaking of the covenant of works as it was given on Mount Sinai, says, "It was added because of transgressions," (Gal 3:19). It was not set up as a solid rule of righteousness, as it was given to Adam in paradise, but was added or put to; 23 it was not set up as a thing in gross by itself.

Nom. Then, sir, it should seem that the covenant of works was added to the covenant of grace, to make it more complete.

Evan. O no! you are not so to understand the apostle, as though it were added by way of ingrediency as a part of the covenant of grace, as if that covenant had been incomplete without the covenant of works; for then the same covenant should have consisted of contradictory materials, and so it should have overthrown itself; for, says the apostle, "If it be by grace, then it is no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace: but if it be of works, then it is no more of grace; otherwise work is no more work," (Rom 11:6). But it was added by way of subserviency and attendance, the better to advance and make effectual the covenant of grace; so that although the same covenant that was made with Adam was renewed on Mount Sinai, yet I say still, it was not for the same purpose. For this was it that God aimed at, in making the covenant of works with man in innocency, to have that which was his due from man: 24 but God made it with the Israelites for no other end, than that man, being thereby convinced of his weakness, might flee to Christ. So that it was renewed only to help forward and introduce another and a better covenant; and so to be a manuduction unto Christ, viz: to discover sin, to waken the conscience, and to convince them of their own impotency, and so drive them out of themselves to Christ. Know it then, I beseech you, that all this while there was no other way of life given, either in whole, or in part, than the covenant of grace. All this while God did but pursue the design of his own grace; and, therefore, was there no inconsistency either in God's will or acts; only such was his mercy, that he subordinated the covenant of works, and made it subservient to the covenant of grace, and so to tend to evangelical purposes.

Nom. But yet, sir, methinks it is somewhat strange that the Lord should put them upon doing the law, and also promise them life for doing, and yet never intend it.

Evan. Though he did so, yet did he neither require of them that which was unjust, nor yet dissemble with them in the promise; for the Lord may justly require perfect obedience at all men's hands, by virtue of that covenant which was made with them in Adam; and if any man could yield perfect obedience to the law, both in doing and suffering, he should have eternal life; for we may not deny [says Calvin] but that the reward of eternal salvation belongeth to the upright obedience of the law. 25 But God knew well enough that the Israelites were never able to yield such an obedience: and yet he saw it meet to propound eternal life to them upon these terms; that so he might speak to them in their own humour, as indeed it was meet: for they swelled with mad assurance in themselves, saying, "All that the Lord commandeth we will do," and be obedient, (Exo 19:8). Well, said the Lord, if you will needs be doing, why here is a law to be kept; and if you can fully observe the righteousness of it, you shall be saved: sending them of purpose to the law, to awaken and convince them, to sentence and humble them, and to make them see their own folly in seeking for life that way; in short, to make them see the terms under which they stood, that so they might be brought out of themselves, and expect nothing from the law, in relation to life, but all from Christ. For how should a man see his need of life by Christ, if he do not first see that he is fallen from the way of life? and how should he understand how far he had strayed from the way of life, unless he do first find what is that way of life? Therefore it was needful that the Lord should deal with them after such a manner to drive them out of themselves, and from all confidence in the works of the law; that so, by faith in Christ, they might obtain righteousness and life. And just so did our Saviour also deal with that young expounder of the law, (Matt 19:16), who it seems, was sick of the same disease: "Good Master," says he, "what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?" He doth not, says Calvin, simply ask, which way or by what means he should come to eternal life, but what good he should do to get it; whereby it appears, that he was a proud justiciary, one that swelled in fleshly opinion that he could keep the law, and be saved by it; therefore he is worthily sent to the law to work himself weary, and to see need to come to Christ for rest. And thus you see that the Lord, to the former promises made to the fathers, added a fiery law; which he gave from Mount Sinai, in thundering and lightning, and with a terrible voice, to the stubborn and stiff-necked Israel; whereby to break and tame them, and to make them sigh and long for the promised Redeemer.

Thomas Boston's Notes [1] As to this point, there are different sentiments among orthodox divines; though all of them do agree, that the way of salvation was the same under the Old and New Testament, and that the Sinai covenant, whatever it was, carried no prejudice to the promise made unto Abraham, and the way of salvation therein revealed, but served to lead men to Jesus Christ. Our author is far from being singular in this decision of this question. I adduce only the testimonies of three late learned writers, "That God made such a covenant [viz: the covenant of works] with our first parents, is confirmed by several parts of Scripture," (Hosea 6:7, Gal 4:24),Willison's Sacr. Cat. p. 3. The words of the text last quoted are these: "For these are the two covenants, the one from the Mount Sinai which gendereth to bondage." Hence it appears, that in the judgment of this author, the covenant from Mount Sinai was the covenant of works, otherwise there is no shadow of reason from this text for what it is adduced to prove. The Rev. Messrs. Flint and M'Claren, in their elaborate and seasonable treatise against Professor Simpson's doctrine, [for which I make no question but their names will be in honour with posterity] speak to the same purpose. The former having adduced the fore-cited text, (Gal 4:24), says, Jam duo federa, etc., that is, "Now here are two covenants mentioned, the first the legal one, by sin rendered ineffectual, entered into with Adam, and now again promulgate." [Exam. Doctr. Joh. Simp. p. 125.] And afterwards, speaking of the law of works, he adds, Atque hoc est illud fadus, etc., that is, "And this is that covenant promulgate on Mount Sinai, which is called one of the covenants," (Gal 4:24). Ibid. p. 131. The words of the latter, speaking of the covenant of works are these, "Yea, it is expressly called a covenant," (Hosea 6, Gal 4). And Mr. Gillespie proves strongly, that Galations 4 is understood of the covenant of works and grace. See his Ark of the Testament, part 1. chap. 5. p. 180. The New Scheme Examined, p. 176. The delivering of the ten commandments on Mount Sinai as the covenant of works, necessarily includes in it the delivering of them as a perfect rule of righteousness; forasmuch as that covenant did always contain in it such a rule, the true knowledge of which the Israelites were at that time in great want of, as our author afterwards teaches.

[2] The strength of the objection in the preceding paragraph lies here, namely, that at this rate, the same person, at one and the same time, were both under the covenant of works, and under the covenant of grace, which is absurd. Ans. The unbelieving Israelites were under the covenant of grace made with their father Abraham externally and by profession, in respect of their visible church state; but under the covenant of works made with their father Adam internally and really, in respect of the state of their souls before the Lord. Herein there is no absurdity; for to this day many in the visible church are thus, in these different respects, under both covenants. Farther, as to believers among them, they were internally and really, as well as externally, under the covenant of grace; and only externally under the covenant of works, and that, not as a covenant co-ordinate with, but subordinate and subservient unto, the covenant of grace: and in this there is no more inconsistency than in the former.

[3] As delivered from the covenant of works, by virtue of the covenant of grace.

[4] That will not, indeed, prove them all to have been the people of God in the sense before given, for the reason here adduced by our author.

Howbeit, the preface to the ten commandments deserves a particular notice in the matter of the Sinai transaction, (Exo 20:2), "I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage." Hence it is evident to me, that the covenant of grace was delivered to the Israelites on Mount Sinai. For the Son of God, the messenger of the covenant of grace, spoke these words to a select people, the natural seed of Abraham, typical of his whole spiritual seed. He avoucheth himself to be their God; namely, in virtue of the promise, or covenant made with Abraham, (Gen 17:7), "I will establish my covenant to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee": and their God, which brought them out of the land of Egypt; according to the promise made to Abraham at the most solemn renewal of the covenant with him.(Gen 15:14), "Afterwards shall they come out with great substance. And he first declares himself their God, and then requires obedience, according to the manner of the covenant with Abraham, (Gen 17:1); "I am the Almighty God, [i.e. in the language of the covenant, The Almighty God TO THEE, to make THEE for ever blest through the promised SEED,] walk thou before me, and be thou perfect." But that the covenant of works was also, for special ends, repeated and delivered to the Israelites on Mount Sinai, I cannot refuse, 1. Because of the apostle's testimony, (Gal 4:24), "These are the two covenants; the one from Mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage." For the children of this Sinai covenant the apostle here treats of, are excluded from the eternal inheritance, as Ishmael was from Canaan, the type of it, (verse 30), "Cast out the bond-woman and her son; for the son of the bond-woman shall not be heir with the son of the free woman"; but this could never be said of the children of the covenant of grace under any dispensation, though both the law and covenant from Sinai itself, and its children, were even before the coming of Christ under a sentence of exclusion, to be executed on them respectively in due time. 2. The nature of the covenant of works is most expressly in the New Testament brought in, propounded, and explained from the Mosaical dispensation. The commands of it from Exodus 20 by our blessed Saviour, (Matt 19:17-19), "If thou wilt enter into life keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, thou shalt not commit adultery," etc. The promise of it, (Rom 10:5), "Moses describes the righteousness which is of the law, that the man which doth these things shall live by them." The commands and promise of it together, see Luke 10:25-28. The terrible sanction of it, Galations 3:10. For it is written [viz: Deuteronomy 27:26,] "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them." 3. To this may be added the opposition betwixt the law and grace, so frequently inculcated in the New Testament, especially in Paul's epistles. See one text for all, (Gal 3:12), "And the law is not of faith, but the man that doeth them shall live in them." 4. The law from Mount Sinai was a covenant, (Gal 4:24), "These are the two covenants, the one from the Mount Sinai"; and such a covenant as had a semblance of disannulling the covenant of grace, (Gal 3:17), "The covenant that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law which was 430 years after, cannot disannul"; yea, such an one as did, in its own nature, bear a method of obtaining the inheritance, so far different from that of the promise, that it was inconsistent with it; "For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise," (Gal 3:18), wherefore the covenant of the law from Mount Sinai could not be the covenant of grace, unless one will make this last not only a covenant seeming to destroy itself, but really inconsistent: but it was the covenant of works, which indeed had such a semblance, and in its own nature did bear such a method as before noted; howbeit, as Ainsworth says, "The covenant of the law now given could not disannul the covenant of grace," (Gal 3:17). Annot. on Exodus 19:1

Wherefore I conceive the two covenants to have been both delivered on Mount Sinai to the Israelites. First, The covenant of grace made with Abraham, contained in the preface, repeated and promulgate there unto Israel, to be believed and embraced by faith, that they might be saved; to which were annexed the ten commandments, given by the Mediator Christ, the head of the covenant, as a rule of life to his covenant people. Secondly, the covenant of works made with Adam, contained in the same ten commands, delivered with thunderings and lightnings, the meaning of which was afterwards cleared by Moses, describing the righteousness of the law and sanction thereof, repeated and promulgate to the Israelites there, as the original perfect rule of righteousness, to be obeyed; and yet were they no more bound hereby to seek righteousness by the law than the young man was by our Saviour's saying to him, (Matt 19:17,18), "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandmentsThou shalt do no murder," etc. The latter was a repetition of the former.

Thus there is no confounding of the two covenants of grace and works; but the latter was added to the former as subservient unto it, to turn their eyes towards the promise, or covenant of grace: "God gave it to Abraham by promise. Wherefore then serveth the law? it was added, because of transgressions, till the Seed should come," (Gal 3:18,19). So it was unto the promise given to Abraham, that this subservient covenant was added; and that promise we have found in the preface to the ten commands. To it, then was the subservient covenant, according to the apostle, added, put, or set to, as the word properly signifies. So it was no part of the covenant of grace, the which was entire to the fathers, before the time that was set to it; and yet is, to the New Testament church, after that is taken away from it: for, says the apostle, "It was added till the seed should come." Hence it appears that the covenant of grace was, both in itself, and in God's intention, the principal part of the Sinai transaction: nevertheless, the covenant of works was the most conspicuous part of it, and lay most open to the view of the people. According to this account of the Sinai transaction, the ten commands, there delivered, must come under a twofold notion or consideration; namely, as the law of Christ, and as the law of works: and this is not strange, if it is considered, that they were twice written on tables of stone, by the Lord himself,the first tables the work of God, (Exo 32:16), which were broken in pieces, (verse 19), called the tables of the covenant, (Deut 9:11,15)the second tables, the work of Moses, the typical Mediator, (Exo 34:1), deposited at first [it would seem] in the tabernacle mentioned, (33:7), afterward, at the rearing of the tabernacle with all its furniture, laid up in the ark within the tabernacle, (25:16); and whether or not, some such thing is intimated, by the double accentuation of the decalogue, let the learned determine; but to the ocular inspection it is evident, that the preface to the ten commands, (Exo 20:2, Deut 5:6), stands in the original, both as a part of a sentence joined to the first commands, and also as an entire sentence, separated from it, and shut up by itself.

Upon the whole, one may compare with this the first promulgation of the covenant of grace, by the messenger of the covenant in paradise, (Gen 3:15), and the flaming sword placed there by the same hand, "turning every way to keep the way of the tree of life."

[5] Here, there is a large addition in the ninth edition of this book, London, 1699. It well deserves a place, and is as follows: "I do not say, God made the covenant of works with them, that they might obtain life and salvation thereby; no, the law was become weak through the flesh, as to any such purpose, (Rom 8:3). But he repeated, or gave a new edition of the law, and that, as a covenant of works, for their humbling and conviction; and so do his ministers preach the law to unconverted sinners still, that they who 'desire to be under the law may hear what the law says,' (Gal 4:21). And as to what you say of their not agreeing to this covenant, I pray take notice, that the covenant of works was made with Adam, not for himself only, but as he was a public person representing all his posterity, and so that covenant was made with the whole nature of man in him, as appears by Adam's sin and curse coming upon all, (Rom 5:12, Gal 3:10). Hence all men are born under that covenant, whether they agree to it or no; though, indeed, there is by nature such a proneness in all to desire to be under that covenant, and to work for life, that if natural men's consent were asked, they would readily [though ignorantly] take upon them to do all that the Lord requireth; for do you not remember," etc.

[6] That the conditional promise, (Lev 18:5), [to which agrees Exodus 19:8,] and the dreadful threatening, (Deut 27:26), were both given to the Israelites, as well as the ten commands, is beyond question; and that according to the apostle, (Rom 10:5, Gal 3:10), they were the form of the covenant of works, is as evident as the repeating of the words, and expounding them so, can make it. How, then, one can refuse the covenant of works to have been given to the Israelites, I cannot see. Mark the Westminster Confession upon the head of the covenant of works; "The first covenant made with man was a covenant of works, wherein life was promised to Adam, and in him to his posterity, upon condition of perfect and personal obedience." And this account of the being and nature of that covenant is there proved from these very texts among others, Romans 10:5, Galatians 3:10, chap. 7, art. 2.

[7] "But the covenant of the law [adds he] came after, as the apostle observeth, (Gen 3:17).They had a greater benefit than their fathers; for though the law could not give them life, yet it was a schoolmaster unto, i.e., to bring them unto, Christ." (Gal 3:21-24). Ainsworth on Deuteronomy 5:3.

[8] The transaction at Sinai or Horeb [for they are but one mountain] was a mixed dispensation; there was the promise or covenant of grace, and also the law; the one a covenant to be believed, the other a covenant to be done, and thus the apostle states, the difference betwixt these two, (Gal 3:12), "And the law is not of faith, but the man that DOETH them shall live in them." As to the former, viz: the covenant to be believed, it was given to their fathers as well as to them. Of the latter, viz: the covenant to be done, Moses speaks expressly, (Deut 4:12,13), "The Lord spake unto you out of the midst of the fire, and he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to PERFORM [or DO] even ten commandments." And (5:3), he tells the people no less expressly, that "the Lord made not THIS COVENANT with their fathers."

[9] That is, had worn them out, in the same measure and degree as the light of nature was darkened; but neither the one nor the other was ever fully done. (Rom 2:14,15).

[10] Wherein I differ from this learned author as to this point, and for what reasons, may be seen earlier [footnote #4].

[11] But not as it is a rule of life, which is the other member of that distinction.

[12] Both in the heart of Adam himself, and of his descendants in the first ages of the world.

[13] Both with him and them.

[14] The doctrine of the fall, with whatsoever other doctrine was necessary to salvation, was handed down from Adam, the fathers communicating the same to their children and children's children. There were but eleven patriarchs before the flood; 1. Adam, 2. Seth, 3. Enos, 4. Cainan, 5. Mahalaleel, 6. Jared, 7. Enoch, 8, Methuselah, 9. Lamech, 10. Noah, 11. Shem. Adam having lived 930 years, (Gen 5:5), was known to Lamech, Noah's father, with whom he lived 66 years, and much longer with the rest of the fathers before him; so that Lamech, and those before him, might have the doctrine from Adam's own mouth. Methuselah lived with Adam 243 years, and with Shem 98 years before the deluge. See Genesis 5. And what Shem, who, after the deluge, lived 502 years, (Gen 11:10,11), had learned from Methuselah, he had occasion to teach Arphaxad, Salah, Eber, Peleg, Reu, Serug, Nahor, Terah, Abraham, Isaac, (Gen 21:5,), and Jacob, to whose 51st year he [viz: Shem] reached. Genesis 11:10, and 21:5, and 25:26, compared. [Vid. Bail. Op. Hist. Chron. p. 2, 3.] Thus one may perceive, how the nature of the law and covenant of works given to Adam, might be far better known to them, than to the Israelites after their long bondage in Egypt.

[15] That is, and besides all this, God spake to the patriarchs immediately and by angels. But neither of these do we find during the time of the bondage in Egypt, until the angel of the Lord appeared to Moses in the bush, and ordered him to go and bring the people out of Egypt, (Exo 3).

[16] The remaining impressions of the law on the hearts of the Israelites.

[17] By faith; believing, embracing, and appropriating it to themselves, (Heb 11:13, Jer 3:4).

[18] Inasmuch as the remaining impressions of the law on their hearts were so weak, that they were not sufficient for the purpose.

[19] By faith proposing it as their only defence, and opposing it to the demands of the law or covenant of works, as their only plea.

[20] How far they came short of, and could not reach unto the obedience they owed unto God, according to the perfection of the holy law.

[21] Nor before the fall neither, properly speaking; but the expression is agreeable to Scripture style, (Isa 5:4), "Wherefore when I looked it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?"

[22] (Rom 8:3), "For what the law could not DO, in that it was weak through the flesh; God sending his own Son," etc.

[23] It was not set up by itself as an entire rule of righteousness, to which alone they were to look who desired righteousness and salvation, as it was in the case of upright Adam, "For no man, since the fall, can attain to righteousness and life by the moral law," Lar. Cat. quest. 94. But it was added to the covenant of grace, that by looking at it men might see what kind of righteousness it is by which they can be justified in the sight of God; and that by means thereof, finding themselves destitute of that righteousness, they might be moved to embrace the covenant of grace, in which that righteousness is held forth to be received by faith.

[24] This was the end of the work, namely, of making the covenant of works with Adam, but not of the repeating of it at Sinai; it was also the end or design of the worker, namely of God, who made that covenant with Adam, to have his due from man, and he got it from the Man Christ Jesus.

[25] That is, the perfect obedience of the law; as it is said, (Eccl 7:29), "God made man upright."


  1. Jack. I have no doubt that "the covenant of works" is restated in Sinai, but when I say that I am referring to the covenant of Genesis 3, that if a man should carry with him the heavy burden of the law (previously stated in Genesis 2), and do what it requires, and work diligently to feed himself, and suffer terribly through childbearing, etc. then God will bless the fallen Adam in an earthly way, that is to say that God will redeem the work of the sons of Adam. In honor of this covenant, God gave Adam a token consisting of flaming cherubim at the gate of Eden, that Moses would represent in the "Ark of the Covenant."

    When you refer to the restated covenant of works, you are referring to Genesis 2. I've never been able to understand that. I agree with you that the Law is stated in Genesis 2, and therefore restated in Sinai, but why do you say that the Covenant of Works, referring to Genesis 2 is restated? The Law is a part of Creation (complete in Genesis 2). The process of covenants, by which God redeems his Elect from his Fall does not begin, obviously, until after he has fallen (Genesis 3).

  2. Hudson, the best I can do is to suggest you read The Marrow of Modern Divinity. It can be obtained as a Kindle Book either for free or just a couple dollars. Fisher and Boston address your questions. Also I would recommend the books Sacred Bond (Brown, Keele) and The God of Promise (Horton). Also Robert Shaw's commentary on the Westminster Confession of Faith, title: The Reformed Faith (free Kindle book) would be an excellent source.

  3. Hudson, actually Shaw commentary would be the place I would start.

  4. I am disappointed that you cannot respond to my simple criticism of the typical interpretation of the WCF except by referring me to a typical interpretation of the WCF.

    1. Hudson, I'm not avoiding a response. We have talked about this before and I seem to offer nothing that you found satisfactory. So, I referred you to Shaw and others. Have you read the pertinent parts of Shaw's commentary. He explains much better than I what I would hope to respond with to your criticisms. The only covenant referred to in Gen. 3 is the proto-evangelium. The result of the fall, besides expulsion from the presence of God, is the curse due to the breaking of the covenant, not a covenant itself. Work was given as a creational madate and is now no longer a pleasure of serving God but a toiling with thorns and thistles. The creational covenant mandate to multiply and be fruitful is now bearing children in pain, often losing children in child birth.

      The creational covenant of works is distilled and summed in Gen. 2 in the specific "Do not eat of this tree" command. If they do they shall die. It is the opposite of positve command of Moses, "Do this and live." which was implied in God's command to Adam. Being made in God image and likeness indicates that Adam, as under-ruler of the Sovereign rulership of God, is meant to live in a fashion that expressed the righteousness of God through his righteously ruling and exercising dominion in the Garden... that points to the Law-Covenant written on his heart just as Paul indicates is the case with all mankind in Romans 1. Ruling righteously and keeping perfect obedience to the creational law-mandate of God is what Adam failed at and is what was reenacted by God with Israel. That law-covenant stipulation is expressed via the blessings and curses conditioned by their obedience that attended the inauguration of the Mosaic covenant.

      The Mosaic covenant also included or pointed to the promise of the gospel in its types, sacrifices, and ceremonies. In other words the promise made to Abraham continued in effect for individual Israelites who were elect and were to believe. The Law covenant with the nation of Israel did not annul the promised salvation to the elect as per Paul in Galatians.

      I hope this helps... blessings!

    2. Btw, of course I include the death-curse as the primary result of the fall of Adam.

    3. Well Moses certainly thought Genesis 3 contains a covenant. What pray tell would "The Ark of the Covenant" have looked like if restating Genesis 2? The fact is that God told Moses precisely how to build the "Ark" (Exodus 25). It had three main features.

      1. A place of safe keeping for the Testimony to the Law which was broken by God's people both in Genesis 3 and again at Sinai, but not only there, for the books of Moses are replete with reminders that Adam and Eve had taken and eaten of the fruit and that men, even God's Elect had continued in their sin every generation since. "The Testimony" in the Ark consisted of the stone tables, the rod of Aaron and the Manna (all having to do with the sin of God's people). As such, it remembered the sins in the wilderness but it also looked backwards to the original sin of Genesis 3. There is nothing in The Testimony that looks back to the giving of the Law or to the relationship between God and Adam prior to the Fall.
      2. The "mercy seat" commemorating God's promise that a 2nd Adam would come to restore all that was lost. Genesis 3:15 If I might ask, why would God ask Moses to restate the arrangements between God and Adam in Eden (what you refer to as "the covenant of works) with a "mercy seat"? and why would he make a propitiatory covering if there was not yet a need for propitiation of sin in Genesis 2? As Calvin says, quoting Paul, without this covering the Law would be of no benefit to us.
      3. Two cherubim commemorating the wrath of God and the impossibility of returning to Eden. Genesis 3:24 Not that I like to refer much to outside sources but John Calvin's Commentaries in speaking of the cherubim of Exodus 28:18 says that this is what Moses is referring to; that the cherubim over the mercy seat are the same God angels placed as guards to keep man away from approaching paradise. They are there to keep the people in the doctrine of the Law, and also to exercise His dominion, administrate His blessings and symbolize His presence. That's basically a quote.

      Again, I'm not saying that the Law was not there in Genesis 2. In fact, it seems clear that the Law exists from at least Genesis 1:2 onwards. But Moses is not restating the giving of the Law or man's situation in Eden. He is restating the breaking of the Law and what God did about it in Genesis 3. The Ark of the Covenant is a restating of that covenant. This is the only way it makes sense.

      Please try to look at the text directly. I really don't want to hear about non-Scripture sources that don't pay attention to the facts.

    4. Note that Genesis 2 is in the 7th Day of Creation. It is before the time when God began to make covenants with man. Surely we must distinguish between the 7th day and the 8th day.

    5. Hudson,

      Yes, in Gen. 3 there is a Law-covenant of works - a broken law-covenant of works that was instituted in Gen. 2, broken when they ate of the fruit.

      Moses, himself, is not restating anything regarding the Law-covenant of Gen. 2. There are two levels going on. The covenant Moses gives to the nation of Israel as they are placed in the garden land of Canaan points back to Adam in the Garden and is summed up in the words "Do this (keep the Law) and live." If as a nation they prove unfaithful and play the harlot then they will be expelled from Canaan just as Adam was expelled from the Garden (which happened - "But like Adam they have transgressed the covenant; There they have dealt treacherously against Me. Hosea 6:7).

      The original covenant of works instituted under Moses was still broken when they entered Canaan. Who will fulfill it? Israel is given a law covenant by God through Moses for them to keep that is a shadow or reflection or a typological republication of the Edenic law-covenant (Do this and live) pointing back to the original given to Adam. That Mosaic covenant also pointed forward to the true Israel Son who would come forward as the second Adam and fulfill the original law-covenant of works typed in the old covenant -

      "Then said I, Lo, I am come (In the roll of the book it is written of me) To do thy will, O God.
      Saying above, Sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein (the which are offered according to the law),
      then hath he said, Lo, I am come to do thy will. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.
      By which will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." (Heb. 10:7-10)

      - when Jesus is born under the Mosaic law covenant (Gal. 4:4) and fulfills it for the elect by paying for their sins in his death and fulfilling the demands of the Law covenant by his perfect obedience - credited to those in him.

      Sorry I can't do any better. Always a challenge via a combox. I don't see what is controversial about the above. We may be talking past each other, but this view is mainstream Reformed and, I dare say, biblical. Horton's book?? Cheers...

    6. And to clarify, the law-covenant instituted in the Mosaic covenant was not a true re-institution of the covenant of works for Israel to obey in order to be saved. It was a national covenant that had to do with their faithfulness in order to remain in the land. The individual salvation of elect Israelites was through faith as given in the Abrahamic promise. And that promise pointed to the coming Christ and his finished work as typed in the Mosaic sacrifices and ceremonies for sin atonement.

    7. Not only is there no covenant in the Garden, there is no establishment of Law there either. The Law was given and explained to Adam in the Garden (Gen 2), but the Law was not created or established there. By Genesis 2, we are already in the 7th day. The Order or laws of this world, by which all life is sustained and with which Adam was commissioned to administrate God's earthly realm were established in eternity (begotten before all worlds), then first appeared on the 1st day, in Gen 1:1-2 as "the light of men" (John 1).

      Adam broke that Law(s); not that the Law itself broke but rather that the Law ceased to break in Adam's favor. God then took the defeated Adam and made a covenant with him, a suzerain treaty that he should live, prosper and have the hope of salvation through Christ, albeit in hardship and pain. This is my understanding of all three creeds and of all Reformed confessions excepting possibly the WCF (chapter 7). Why this is controverted in the WCF? I have no idea. Does it presume to teach something different than other Reformed confessions? You tell me.

      Anyway, when Moses builds the "Ark of the Covenant of God", he depicts the covenant as it is presented to Adam in Genesis 3, which results from the breaking of the Law that Adam was commanded to obey in Genesis 2, which was established in Genesis 1. How do you deal with these facts? This is crucial. I agree with you that the Ark which Moses gave to the nation of Israel is summed up in the words "Do this (keep the Law) and live" which comes from Genesis 2, but that in itself is not a covenant.

      If you believe there is a covenant between God and man in Genesis 2, I would like you to define the word "covenant." One thing is for sure; it cannot be a suzerain treaty. I suspect that for you to find a covenant in the Garden, you have to redefine the term to suit the circumstances.

    8. I'm glad you point out that "That Mosaic covenant also pointed forward to the true Israel Son who would come forward as the second Adam and fulfill the original law-covenant of works typed in the old covenant" This is given to Adam in Genesis 3, not in Genesis 2.

    9. Hudson, in a word your views are idiosyncratic. I know this doesn't prove you wrong, but can you point to a writing or passage from one orthodox Reformed theologian that teaches your interpretation of Gen. 3 as the place where God makes a covenant of works with man (Adam)? I really can't interact with your objections because they are premised on a misunderstanding of the covenant of works in chapters 2 and 3. Point me to one Reformed theologian who defines the sanctions on Adam and Eve in Gen. 3 not as curse sanctions but as establishing the covenant of works as you do?

      I think it would be helpful if you would read some of the things I've suggested. And I will add one more book. It is lengthy but engages this very topic in a comprehensive Bible and theological manner. David VanDrunen's Divine Covenants and Moral Order. A few quick pull quotes:

      The most obvious objection to seeing a covenant in Genesis 1-2 is the absence of the term "covenant" in the text. This has little weight, however, for the OT elsewhere records events not originally described by the word "covenant" but explicitly interpreted as covenants later in biblical history, as even critics of the idea of a prelapsarian covenant recognize...

      ... Hosea 6:7 arguably looks back at God's original relationship with Adam and uses the term "covenant" to describe it...

      the presentation of God as king in Genesis 1:1-2:3 suggests a covenantal reading of this creation account...

      the remarkable parallels between Genesis 1-2 and God's later dealings with Noah and Israel also suggest reading the creation account in a covenantal light...

      the kinds of things that characterize covenants elsewhere in Scripture are present in Genesis 1-2...

      Since the image of God constitutes human nature, was the covenant of creation natural and, if so, in what sense? Reformed theologians sometimes refer to this covenant as a "covenant of nature," and I believe this conclusion is sound and helpful...

      to see the creation of human beings in God's image as itself an act of covenant establishment...

      The commands of 2:15-17 are best understood, in my judgment, not as supplementing Adam's natural moral obligation but as focusing it.
      (pp. 80-85)

      Read the whole thing.

    10. I never said that the sanctions on Adam and Eve in Gen. 3 establish a "covenant of works". That expression is not found in Scripture or in ANY of the other Reformed Confessions, all of which were written nearly a century earlier. The idiosyncrasy belongs to the WCF, not to me.

      I said that the sanctions and the promise and the restatement of the law (from Eden) - three separate aspects of Genesis 3 - mean that there is a covenant of the type we call a suzerain treaty. And this is precisely what Moses produces in the form of his "Ark of the Covenant of God". Now if you want to tell me there is an intra-Trinitarian covenant (a "Covenant of Redemption") in Genesis 1 and "Covenant of Works" in Genesis 2 , I suppose I'm OK with that even if it means that the definition of "covenant" is totally different for those three instances. My main objection is that Exodus 25 is not referring to either of those so-called covenants.

      I think it's far cleaner to not use the word "covenant" where Scripture does not use it. Isn't that what the regulative principle is supposed to accomplish for us? In addition to addressing our sins of omission, the RPW addresses our sins of commission. It requires us to use the words of Scripture in the same way that Scripture uses them. So when Moses makes the "Ark of the Covenant of God", we know that God is asking us to see a covenant in the place to which it refers; Genesis 3.

    11. I acknowledge that Hosea 6:7 refers to a covenant, but what covenant is it? God is clearly expressing what we all know to be true, that until the New Covenant is made with Jesus and God's Law is written on the hearts of His Elect, God's desire is left unfulfilled. But this does not mean the prophet is referring to one covenant more than another. I don't think so.

      "For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. But they like men have transgressed the covenant: there have they trespassed against me."

    12. I agree with you that the "presentation of God as king in Genesis 1:1-2:3 suggests a covenant-like reading of the creation account... But it does not suggest a covenant between God and man. We don't get to the thing you want to call a Covenant until 2:16. So what is the covenant in 1:1-2:3 ? It's not so much a covenant as it is the Will of God toward His creation. The creation is subdued under His Providence and good will. This is the Will of God which is handed to Adam and Eve to administrate. They are not signatories to this "covenant" but rather they are trustees or executors of God's Will (2:15). They have authority in all things except to serve themselves. This is where our laws of trusts and estates come from. We also know it as the duty of a Christian. A sanctified Christian is a son, and a son has the duty and privilege to administrate the estate of Jesus until His return.

    13. Hudson, this is what I took to mean the curse sanctions of Gen. 3, from your first comment:

      but when I say that I am referring to the covenant of Genesis 3, that if a man should carry with him the heavy burden of the law (previously stated in Genesis 2), and do what it requires, and work diligently to feed himself, and suffer terribly through childbearing, etc. then God will bless the fallen Adam in an earthly way, that is to say that God will redeem the work of the sons of Adam. In honor of this covenant, God gave Adam a token consisting of flaming cherubim at the gate of Eden

      That mandate of work and multiplying wasn't established in Gen. 3 but in the first two chapters. Gen. 3 has now a curse involved in those creational mandates. And if you are going to restrict understanding covenant only where the word is used then there isn't one in Gen. 3. Again, VanDrunen's book clearly lays out the case via the biblical data. In addition, the covenant of works has to do with Adam's obedience to the righteousness of the moral law inscribed on his heart at creation and distilled or summarized in the command to not eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Earthly working and multiplying in child birth is part of that covenant but hardly the central focus of it.

      And to claim the WCF is idiosyncratic is funny at a minimum. In so doing you are claiming that that everyone who subscribes to that confession has an unbiblical view of the covenants. And you are including those who hold to the Three Forms of Unity who claim that their 3 standards are in agreement with the Westminster Standards. You've yet to point me to any Reformed writer who supports your understanding of Gen. 2 and 3. Please do so if you can.

      You say you don't want to hear from "non-Scriptural sources," but you are a non-Scriptural source. The Church in her confessions puts forth what the Church understands as correct doctrine in Scripture. Not that as individuals we don't seek to understand Scripture, but to hold a teaching that is not consistent with the Reformed confessions should give one pause. So we rightly should look to the writings of Reformed theologians on this and every doctrine in order to obtain a witness for our own interpretations. So again I would encourage you to do some reading of "non-Scriptural sources" like VanDrunen and Horton or some of the older guys like Owen and Witsius.


  5. Lee Irons: Exegetical study of Paul’s teaching on the Law has convinced me that it is impossible to separate the stipulations of the Law from the sanctions. The very fact that the stipulations are telling you to do something or warning you against disobedience implies that they are speaking to you apart from your union with Christ, as if you were not doing what the Law required or as if you might be tempted not to. The Law of Christ speaks to us from a totally different, new covenant ethical framework. It speaks to us in a voice which implies that the Law’s demands have already been completely satisfied. . Since the Law’s demands have been fully satisfied by us in Christ, the Law has no more to say to us, no more to demand of us. “Or do you not know, brethren, … that the Law has jurisdiction over a person only as long as he lives?” (Rom. 7:1). “Through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God” (Gal. 2:19).
    Because these things are true by virtue of covenantal union with our Law-fulfilling Surety, the believer nevertheless continues to sustain a relationship to the Law in Christ. Otherwise, if the Law itself has been abolished in an ontological sense, we would be saying that the merit of Christ has also been abolished. Thus, as Paul argues so eloquently in 1 Cor. 9:21/Rom. 7:1-6, we have died to the Law, not in order to be anomos, as if we were now widows without a husband, but in order to be ennomos Christou, married to another.


  6. Lee Irons:
    So the three-fold division of the Law is wrongheaded, but its fundamental concern to
    maintain that large swaths of the Mosaic Law reflect the moral will of God founded on
    God's righteous nature and man's identity as the image of God is valid. This moral will,
    however, must not be equated with the Decalogue, nor can it be defanged into a list
    of bare non-covenantal commands - "the moral law not as covenant of works."


  7. The Marrow view involved a view of predestination that was essentially Amyrauldian. The counsel of God with respect to predestination contained a determinative decree and a hypothetical decree. The former belonged to God’s secret will and the latter to God’s revealed will. The Marrow taught that the revealed will of God expressed God’s will as desiring the salvation of all who hear the gospel.

    The Marrow Men claimed that by making this salvation conditioned upon faith, they in fact made the work of salvation particular because only the elect actually came to faith. But salvation was made dependent upon man’s faith, because one had to explain how only some were saved when in fact God desired the salvation of all, earnestly urged all to come to Christ, and provided an atonement which was sufficient for all, intended for all and available to all.

    It is true that the Marrow Men taught that saving faith was worked in the hearts of the elect of God. And it was in this way that they hoped to escape the charge of Arminianism. But this will not work for two reasons. In the first place, how is it to be explained that God on the one hand desires to save all and expressed this desire in the preaching of the gospel; and on the other hand actually gives faith and saves only a select few? The Marrow Men, as the Amyrauldians before them, resorted to a distinction in the will of God but such a distinction sets God in opposition to Himself as being One Who on the one hand desires to save all, and on the other hand, desires to save only some.

    In the second place, by making faith the condition of salvation, faith is set outside the benefits of the atonement. if the atonement is for every sinner, but faith is not for every sinner, then faith cannot be a blessing given by means of the atonement. Then faith is not one of the blessings of Christ’s death, but becomes a condition for making Christ’s death effective. One cannot have it both ways. Faith is either part of salvation or a condition to salvation; but both it cannot be. Herman Hanko

    1. Mark, could you help me out here and let me know what's your thought or purpose in posting the Hanko quote?

  8. I realize that not everything can be said at once about the Marrow. It's neat how it attempts to show different points of view, even if it does not always succeed in being fair. I do think it's important to think through how, if one agrees that God promised Adam eternal life on conditions (I don't), how does that covenant show up again in later covenants, for those who are now guilty in Adam. Does all law have to some extent sanctions? And to that extent, is all law a "covenant of works".

    I do appreciate how Lee Irons shows at once, how the law is law in the Mosaic covenant, but at the same time, denies that the content of the Ten Words is the content of the laws in other covenants. Hebrews---new covenant, new law....

    As for Hanko's warnings about the double talk of "dead for you" at the Marrow, I only quoted that to indicate that not all the good is on the side of the Marrow. If those who rejected the Marrow were about proving their election by their obedience to the law, or about showing their regeneration by their improved disposition and virtues, of course I oppose that legalism. But the answer to that is not to deny or ignore or double-talk your way out of the doctrine of election. And I do think Marrow is guilty of that in some respects.

    The law -gospel antithesis is absolutely essential to talking about the gospel. I agree with the Lutherans and the Bonars about that. But we don't need to cut back on discussion of God's sovereignty in election in order to put focus on the law-gospel antithesis. It's bad when Augustinians only talk about sovereign election, as if works vs faith did not matter, as long as they are predestined by grace. But it's also bad when Lutherans talk law vs grace, but then explain grace in terms of faith rather than in terms of the object of faith, which is Christ's law satisfaction for the elect. We need both the sovereignty and the righteousness of God to be revealed to us.