Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Herman Witsius: "The covenant made with Israel at Sinai was..." (2)

The Question under consideration is how was the Covenant of Grace administered "in the time of the law?"

Herman Witsius, The Economy of the Covenants:
"Having premised these observations I answer to the question: The covenant made with Israel at mount Sinai was not formally the covenant of works...
"Nor was it formally a covenant of grace: because that requires not only obedience, but also promises, and bestows strength to obey. For thus the covenant of grace is made known, Jer. xxxii.39. "And l will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me forever." But such a promise appears not in the covenant made at mount Sinai. Nay, God, on this very account, distinguishes the new covenant of grace from the Sinaitic, Jer. xxxi. 31, 32, 33. And Moses loudly proclaims, Deut. xxix. 4. "Yet the Lord hath not given you a heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day." Certainly, the chosen from among Israel had obtained this: yet not in virtue of this covenant, which stipulated obedience, but gave not power for it; but in virtue of the covenant of grace, which also belonged to them...
"What was it then? It was a national covenant between God and Israel, whereby Israel promised to God a sincere obedience to all his precepts, especially to the ten words; God, on the other hand, promised to Israel, that such an observance would be acceptable to him, nor want its reward, both in this life, and in that which is to come, both as to soul and body. This reciprocal promise supposed a covenant of grace. For, without the assistance of the covenant of grace, man cannot sincerely promise that observance; and yet that an imperfect observance should be acceptable to God, is wholly owing to the covenant of grace. It also supposed the doctrine of the covenant of works, the terror of which being increased by those tremendous signs that attended it, they ought to have been excited to embrace that covenant of God. This agreement therefore is a consequent both of the covenant‘ of grace and of works; but was formally neither the one nor the other." pp 34, 36

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