Excerpt from "A SACRAMENTAL

QUESTION.  For what end hath the Lord appointed sacraments in his church?

ANSWER. To be visible signs and seals of his gracious covenant with man, in order to represent and apply Christ and his benefits to his covenanted people; to strengthen, their faith in his promises, and solemnly to engage them to his service.

Q. Why hath the infinitely glorious God chosen to carry on the business of man's salvation, in the way and method of a covenant, or gracious paction with him?

A. For these reasons: 

1. To display the mildness of his nature, and moderation of his government; for, though he be the absolute emperor of the world, and may make of his creatures what he pleases, yet he sweetly tempers his supremacy with goodness, seeking, as it were, to reign with his subjects' consent.

2. To show his marvellous goodness, and condescension to the sons of men; in that he humbleth himself to treat familiarly with them, make promises, and come under obligations to make them happy and glorious, "Lord what is man, that thou art mindful of him; and the son of man, that thou thus visitest him?"

3. God deals thus with men, that he might have reasonable service from a willing people, and their voluntary consent to his good laws. For though he might prescribe to man what condition of happiness he pleased, yet he would require nothing of him but what he should be obliged to judge a just and easy yoke.

4. That his people might serve and obey him, with the greater delight, having such gracious covenant-promises for their encouragement.

Q. How many covenants hath God made with man, concerning life and salvation?

A. Two; the first being called the covenant of works; the second, the covenant of grace.

Q. "What is the covenant of works ?

A. It is a gracious agreement, which the great Creator made with our first parents, Adam and Eve, in their state of innocence; and in them, with all their children descending from them, by ordinary generation: wherein God promised them life and happiness, upon their perfect obedience to his holy will and law; and threatened them with death and misery in case of disobedience; and withal, giving them, for the trial of their obedience, a particular command, that they should not eat of the "tree of knowledge of good and evil," Gen. 2:17; Gal. 3:10, 12.

Q. How doth it appear that God made such a covenant with our first parents?

A. Because in this affair, the scripture lays down the essential part of a covenant: we have two distinct parties contracting, God on the one part, and man on the other. We have God requiring something of man, viz. obedience to his will; and we have this requisition, attended with a promise of life upon obedience; and a threatening of death upon disobedience. And, lastly, we have Adam submitting or consenting to all this, for seeing he was made after the image of God, perfectly holy, he behoved certainly to consent to God's holy will, when at first laid before him, and that immediately by God himself, his gracious and bountiful Creator. And this also is confirmed by several places of scripture, Hos. 6:7; Rom. 2:27; 6:14; Gal. 4:24.

Q. Why is this covenant, by the compilers of our Confession of Faith, called sometimes a cove- nant of works, and sometimes a covenant of life ?

A. Because works, or perfect obedience, was the condition of this covenant, on man's part; and life, or perfect happiness, was the reward promised on God's part.

Q. Was there no grace manifested in the first covenant?

A. Yes, in several things: 1. In that the glorious Creator was pleased to descend, as it were, to a level, and transact a covenant with his own creature, and thereby come under bonds and obligations to him, Psal. 113:5, 6; Rom. 11:35.

2. In taking such pains to help the mutability of man's state and free-will, by hedging in his way with promises and threatenings; and thereby graciously fortifying and arming him against all temptations to sin, by furnishing him with arguments, both from the promise of reward in case of obedience, and the threatening of punishment in case of transgression.

3. In that he was pleased to promise a reward so great and glorious as eternal life, to man's obedience, when he was sufficiently obliged to it by the law of his creation, though nothing had been promised for it.

4. In that he created Adam with sufficiency of power and grace to enable him to perform God's whole will; gave him all the creatures to obey him, and allowed him intimate communion with himself.

Q. What law or rule had our first parents given them for their obedience, in the estate of innocency?

A. They had both the moral law, and a positive law; both a general commandment, "Do this and live," and a special commandment, "not to eat of the tree of knowledge."

Q. How were these laws given and promulgated to our first parents?

A. By their creation in a perfect state, they had the moral law written and engraved in their hearts. But the positive law was given them by external revelation, Eccl. 7:29; Rom. 2:14, 15; Gen. 2:17.

Q. Why is that special command called a positive law, and distinguished from tho moral law? 

A. In regard it is of the nature of a positive law, to command or prohibit things that before were indifferent, and only become good or evil by virtue of the command, and not of their own nature; so the eating of the tree of knowledge was neither good nor evil, but as commanded or forbidden by God. That law was not founded on the light or dictates of nature, as all the moral precepts are; which therefore are a standing and unalterable rule of righteousness.

Q. Why did God strictly forbid the eating of that tree?

A. 1. To let Adam know that he was not absolute owner of what he possessed, but only a servant; and that God was the supreme Master and Lord of all.

2. To keep him in mind, that his happiness did not lie in time's things, but in the pleasing of God, and enjoying his favour.

3. To try his obedience and regard to the divine authority; and to render him for ever inexcusable, if he should disobey God in so easy a command, when he had snch helps and encouragements to keep it.

Q. Did our first parents keep their covenant with God?

A. No; for though they had sufficient strength given them for keeping it perfectly, yet being left to the freedom of their own will, they did so mismanage the same, that they misbelieved God, hearkened to the devil, and complied with his temptation to eat the forbidden fruit: whereby they sinned against the clearest light, and were guilty of the most cursed ingratitude and rebellion against God.

Q. What state did the breach of the covenant of works bring man into?

A. Into a most wretched and miserable condition, having thereby lost God's image, his favour, and all communion with him, plunged himself into a fearful gulf of sin; and fallen under the sentence of death, and all sorts of miseries, temporal, spiritual, and eternal.

Q. Was the whole posterity of Adam brought into this woeful state by Adam's sin?

A. Yes; all of them who descended from him, by ordinary generation: so that never any, but the man Christ, was excepted.

Q. How can we be charged with Adam's guilt, seeing we were not existent when he sinned?

A. Because when the covenant was made with Adam, he acted as a public person, representing his whole posterity who were then in his loins; and thus the covenant being made with them in him, they sinned in him, and fell with him, Rom. 5:12, 18, 19; 1 Cor. 15:21, 22.

Q. Was there no remedy provided for Adam in the first covenant in case of a breach?

A. No; for it threatened death for the least transgression, and left the transgressor hopeless under the curse, without a promise of pardon upon repentance, or of new strength upon losing what he had, or of a surety to answer for him, Gen. 2:17; Gal. 3:10.

Q. Was it possible for fallen man to find out a remedy for himself?

A. No; for he lost all power to do any thing that was good; and his misery called for a ransom of infinite value; which none but God could provide, Rom. 7:18; Psal. 49:7, 8; Mic. 6:6, 7 ; Hos. 13:9.

Q. Is the covenant of works now disannulled, so as it hath no power over any man?

A. No; for every natural man and unbeliever, is as much under the power and obligation of this covenant as ever Adam was; it still stands in full force against all such; they are obliged to peform its condition, viz. perfect obedience, and also to undergo the penalty for breaking it, for they lie still under its sentence, according to John 3:18, "He that believeth not is condemned already," i.e. by virtue of the covenant of works, which they have violated. And Eph. 2:3. it is said, " We are all by nature the children of wrath," i.e. we are doomed to wrath and destruction by the broken covenant of works, and still lie und the sentence, while we are in the state of nature

Q. Is any man now able to answer the demands of the covenant of works?

A. No; for, as we have lost our strength to perform its condition, so it is impossible for any created power to pay its penalty, or give satisfaction to infinite justice for the offence of sin.

Q. But how is it consistent with justice to require that from us, which we are utterly unable to perform?

A. Though we by our own fault have lost our strength to obey, yet God doth not thereby lose his just right to demand what belongs to him. A creditor loseth not his right to crave a just debt, because the debtor has squandered away his stock, and is turned bankrupt; nay, he is still liable and his children too. So in this case our being unable to pay, will not absolve us from our debts; especially seeing the inability is brought on by ourselves.

Q. Is there any way for such bankrupts as we are, to be discharged of that debt, and loosed from the bond of the first covenant?

A. There is no way, but by taking hold of the new covenant, and flying to its Mediator and Surety for the payment of our debt.

Q. Are believers in Christ wholly absolved from the obligation of the covenant of works?

A. They are wholly loosed from this covenant, as to its power of justification and condemnation. It can neither justify nor condemn them, since God hath entered into a new covenant with them for their justification. But though it be no ways binding upon believers, as a covenant, yet still it binds them as a law, or rule, for regulating their hearts and lives: for the law being of universal moral equity, it remains a perpetual rule of righteousness to believers as well as others, and it is impossible that a rational creature can at any time be loosed from its obligation as a holy and just law; though believers are freed from its condemnation as a covenant. As the law or covenant of works is—in respect of its threats and whips—a schoolmaster to drive us unto Christ for righteousness and justification; so Christ graciously frees his people from the rigour and condemning power of this schoolmaster; but refers them back to him as a guide and director of their walk and behaviour, Gal. 3:13, 24; 1 Cor. 9:21; Rom. 6:14; 7:16, 22, 25.

Q. Is it simply impossible for any man now to enter heaven by the way of a covenant of works ? 

A. Yes, certainly, for that way was eternally blocked up by Adam's fall; so that there is no passage by it ever since, Rom. 3:20; 8:3 ; Gal. 2:21.

Q. If there be no salvation by that covenant, why doth the Lord now require sinners to perform the condition of it, viz. perfect obedience; as he did the Israelites of old, and that young man, Matt. 19:17, "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments?"

A. The Lord insists on the terms of the first covenant with all sinners in a natural state, not to show that life is attainable that way, but for these reasons. 

1. To show the equity of the terms of the first covenant, the justice of its sentence, and his right to demand obedience, and satisfaction thereto.

2. To humble proud self-coneeited sinners under a sense of guilt, and convince them of their own impotency.

3. To drive them out of themselves, and make them despair of salvation by their own righteous- ness, and of finding life by the first covenant, Rom. 7:9.

4. To convince them of the absolute necessity of betaking themselves to the covenant of grace, and the righteousness of the Mediator therein provided, Gal. 3:22, 24.

Q. Why have men such a natural inclination to be justified and saved by the way of the old covenant of works?

A. It being the covenant of nature, and made with Adam when all mankind was in his loins; men by naturo do still entertain a deep impression of it. Besides, man by nature being a proud and selfish creature, he is unwilling to be beholden to another for righteousness and salvation, but strongly inelineth to be his own saviour, and to stand upon his own leg?, and this we all derive by natural generation from Adam. Hence it was that the Jews and Pharisees of old sought so earnestly to establish their own righteousness, and declined to submit to the righteousness of Christ, Mat. 19:16; Luke 18:11; Rom. 10:3. Hence also the Galatians of old sought to join their own works w ith Christ's righteousness (as the Papists do now) in the matter of justification. We are all naturally married unto the law, or a covenant of works, that is our first husband; and from it we must necessarily be divorced, in order to our being married to Christ and his righteousness, in a covenant of grace. But so strong and rooted is our inclination to our first husband, the covenant of works; that even the best believers have a natural hankering after it, and find it the greatest difficulty in the world to get their hearts weaned and plucked from self-righteousness; and from seeking to be justified and accepted with God, by virtue of something in themselves.

Q. Did God leave all mankind to perish under the sentence and penalty of the broken covenant of works?

A. No; for God of his own free-grace, from all eternity, hath elected some to be redeemed and saved from it, Eph. 1:4, 5

Q. What way hath God chosen to redeem and save elect sinners from their lost and perishing estate?

A. Man being wholly miserable, and incapable of any relief by the first covenant; God of his infinite mercy was pleased to frame a gracious new covenant, answering all the demands of our miserable circumstances, and constituted his own Son to be the Mediator and Surety of it; and this is now the only way and method of salvation, Gen. 3:15; 17:2, 7; Rom. 8:3: Acts 4:12.

Q. What is this gracious new covenant, which God hath made for redeeming fallen man?

A. It may be said to be twofold, 1. The covenant made from eternity with Christ, in name of the elect, commonly called the covenant of redemption.

2. The covenant of reconciliation, made in time with the elect in Christ, commonly called the covenant of grace.

Q. Doth the word of God give any ground for this distinction?

A. Yes, Ps. 89:3, &c; Isa. 59:21.

Q. What is the covenant of redemption?

A. It is an eternal and gracious agreement in the counsel of the glorious Trinity, upon the foresight of man's fall, for the redemption and recovery of elect sinners: wherein God the Father, out of his infinite mercy, gave a certain number of fallen mankind to God the Son, as their federal representative and surety, to be by him redeemed and saved: and for this end, demanding of him that he should assume their nature, and in their room satisfy divine justice?, by paying their whole debt both of obedience and suffering, the which they were obliged to do by the covenant of works: and also, that he should undertake to gather all the lost elect and bring them unto God. And for his encouragement in this great work, it was promised to the Son that he should have all requisite furniture, support, acceptance, and success: and likewise a glorious reward to himself, together with grace and glory to his people. With which proposals of the Father, the Son, out of his infinite free love, most cheerfully complied; undertook to do the whole work required of him, accepting of, and claiming the promises made unto him, Ps. 89:3, 4, 19, 20, &c; Is. 49:3,4, &c.; 59:20, 21; 2 Tim. 1:9; Tit. 1:2; Heb. 10:5, 9; Ps. 2:7, 8; Is. 50:5—7; Ps. 40:7, 8; John 10:18; 17:4, 5.

Q. What is the covenant of grace?

A. It is God's free and gracious paction with elect sinners in Christ, proposed to and made with them in the gospel: wherein, according to his eternal compact with Christ their surety, and for the sake of his mediation and merits, he graciously and immutably promiseth pardon, peace, grace, and glory to them. Particularly, he promiseth, in an absolute manner, to grant them the blessings of vocation, faith, regeneration, and other means of salvation. And in order to their obtaining of the pardon of sin, the adoption of children, and eternal life (all which blessings are purchased by Christ), he requires of them that they believe "in his Son the Lord Jesus Christ," and accept of him with all the benefits of this covenant, by a true and lively faith, which they are called to show forth by a sincere repentance, and study of new obedience. All which gracious promises and demands, the elect, in due time, upon God's call, cordially acquiesce in, accept of, and give consent unto: and this they do through the grace and strength of Christ their surety, according to his eternal engagement for them, Ezek. 36:26, 27; Heb. 8:10; John 1:12; 3:16; Jam. 2:18, 22; John 6:37, 44, 45; 17:12; Acts 5:31.

Q. Was not this new covenant a most wonderful, gracious, and suitable contrivance and remedy for our misery in a fallen state?

A. Yes, for though the first was a glorious covenant, contrived in infinite wisdom; yet, seeing it could not answer the demands of the miserable circumstances we plunged ourselves into, God was content to lay it aside, and frame a new one suitable to our misery. For the first covenant leaving man helpless, hopeless, and remediless under its sentence, having no provision for pardon, place for repentance, nor room for a Mediator, God pitied us in our undone state, (though he could more easily have destroyed Adam and his posterity, and made a new world of innocent creatures, to have been governed by the first covenant;) yea, he took down that glorious fabric of obedience and rewards, and framed a more gracious and excellent one in its stead for saving lost man. And seeing man was disabled and incapacitated for covenanting with God by himself a second time, God found out a Mediator and Surety to bind for him, and perform both the condition and pay the penalty of the first covenant, and answer for any new thing to be demanded of him. And thus both God's justice is satisfied, and man's happiness secured; the law-breaker's life saved, and the law-maker's honour maintained; and free grace highly glorified.

Q. Is there not a great affinity betwixt the covenant of redemption and the covenant of grace?

A. Yes, for they agree not only in their spring, ends, and indissolvable nature, but likewise in their substance and matter; in so far as the covenant of redemption comprehends the whole of the covenant of grace, both promises and demands: for the whole blessings and benefits promised in the covenant of grace to the elect, were from eternity promised in the covenant of redemption to Christ their head and representative; and so to the elect in him: and for the condition or qualifications required of the elect in the covenant of grace; they were first demanded of Christ their head in the covenant of redemption, who then undertook and became Surety for his people's performance. So that we see, in some respect, the covenant of grace is only a transcript of the covenant of redemption, according to 2 Tim. 1:9; Tit. 1:2; Gal. 3:16.

Q. Wherein then doth those two covenants differ?

A. In these respects, 1. As to the time of making them; the covenant of redemption being made from all eternity; but the covenant of grace only in time, by the preaching of the gospel.

2. The federates, or parties covenanting, are different: in the covenant of redemption, the Father and the Son are the only parties covenanting; but in the covenant of grace, God and the elect are the parties. I grant that Christ is a federate in the covenant of grace, as well as in that of redemption, but in different respects: for in the first he stood as principal, but in the second as surety. In the first he was the only party; but in the second he hath the elect joined with him, Christ is the mediator and surety of the covenant of grace, but the covenant of redemption hath no mediator or surety; the Father and the Son trusted one another upon the agreement.

3. These two covenants differ from one another, as a prior treaty or agreement made by one friend for the behoof of another differs from the posterior ratification of it by the party concerned, for whose good it was made. Our blessed Redeemer, Christ, graciously placed himself as the elect's representative in the covenant of redemption, transacted with God the creditor for the payment of their debt, and made a most advantageous bargain for them. But it being made without the elect's knowledge, it was necessary that their consent should be had to this treaty and method of salvation; wherefore God is pleased to cause it to be promulgated and proposed to them in the gospel, for the gaining of their consent. And God's voice to them in the gospel is to this effect: "Are you content with what Christ my Son hath engaged and done in your name? Are you willing to quit all other methods of salvation, and come to me through a Mediator, and rely wholly upon his righteousness? Are you satisfied with the remedy provided for you in the covenant of redemption?" O, saith the poor soul (being determined thereto by the powerful operation of the Holy Ghost, whose office it is, according to the foresaid eternal agreement, to apply the remedy prepared by Christ), "This is a most noble method of salvation; I am well pleased with the eternal treaty and the execution of it, with the Mediator and his righteousness, and with the great and precious promises made to me in him: I renounce all other ways of salvation, and rely entirely on Christ to bring me to God." And this is that which we call the covenant of grace.

4. They differ in respect of their comprehensiveness; the covenant of redemption being far more large and comprehensive than the covenant of grace, in regard it contains it and much more: for the covenant of redemption hath in it, not only what is promised to, and required of the elect, but also many distinct demands of Christ as their surety, and promises made to him as such, which do not immediately concern the elect: such as these; it was required of Christ that he should "leave his glory, take a body of flesh, fulfil the law, and suffer death: also, that he should quicken the elect by his Spirit, convert and sanctify them, guide them through the world, and bring them safe to glory at last." Again, it was promised to Christ personally, for his encouragement to engage in this work, that he should have all "needful assistance and furniture for it, acceptance and success in it, and a glorious personal reward, an honourable resurrection, and high exaltation above all principalities and powers. That he should have the administration of all things put in his hands for the good of his people, as an unsearchable treasure of grace and rich supplies given him, to communicate to them whatever is for their good and happiness:" whereupon Christ, as our surety, freely undertook the work proposed, and laid hold on the promises, both those made to him personally, and those made to his seed in him, Gal. 3:16; 2 Tim. 1:9.

Thus we see how many things there are in the covenant of redemption, required of, and promised to Christ as the elect's surety and representative, distinct from the things promised to and required of the elect themselves: which last part makes up the covenant of grace when promulgated to them in the gospel for their consent and acceptance; so that it is plainly a part or branch of the covenant of redemption, and differs nothing from it but as a part doth from the whole, or as the map of a particular province, distinctly bounded and illuminated, with a new inscription or dedication, differs from a general map of the whole kingdom whereof it is a part. The covenant of grace, as proposed to and made with Christ in the elect's name from eternity, can hardly be distinguished from the covenant of redemption; for thus it is a constituent part thereof, and incorporated with it. But as it is drawn out by itself, to be proposed to the elect in the gospel, and their consent obtained to it, it becomes a distinct covenant. Nay, it is distinct both in respect of conditions and promises.

1. In respect of conditions; death, and satisfaction, for sin thereby, was the great condition of the covenant of redemption on Christ's part; but faith, and closing with Christ thereby, is the condition of the covenant of grace on the elect's part. I grant indeed, that Christ our Mediator is bound for the performance of both these conditions, but it is in different respects; for the first he is engaged as principal, but for the second as surety. Christ undertook for us things of two sorts; first, things that he was to do for us by himself: secondly, things that he was to make and enable us to do: the first sort he performed for us, according to the covenant of redemption, as the principal party engaged for them. The second he works in us as the surety of the covenant of grace, which from eternity he undertook to be. Now there is a great difference betwixt these two; for though it be certain and true, in the strictest sense, that Christ actually died for us, and satisfied justice for us, and in our room; yet it can noways be said that he repents or believes for us; these are formally our acts, though it be Christ that enables us to do thein, and works them in us.

2. In respect of promises; the great promise on God's part to Christ, in the covenant of redemption, was giving to him a seed and a glorious reward: but his great promise to the elect, in the covenant of grace, is the giving of redemption and eternal life to the party believing. The tenor of the covenant of redemption, as made with Christ from eternity, runs thus; "make thy soul an offering for sin, and thou shalt see thy seed:" but the tenor of the covenant of grace, as proposed to the elect in the gospel, is, "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt not perish in thy sins, but have everlasting life," Isa. 53:10; John 3:16.

Q. Wherein doth the covenant of grace differ from the covenant of works ?

A. In many things; such as, 1. The covenant of works, which God entered into with our first parents, was a covenant of friendship, betwixt God and an innocent creature, that were in amity together. But the covenant of grace is a covenant of reconciliation betwixt enemies, an offended God and guilty man; the first flowed from divine love and goodness; but the socond from divine compassion and tender mercies.

2. The first covenant was universal, being made with all mankind in Adam. But the second in particular, being only made with the elect in Christ.

3. The condition required of Adam in the first covenant, was working and obeying, and that to perfection; but that required of us in the second is believing.

4. The first covenant makes the proper condition of life, and the ground of man's justification before God, to be the righteousness performed by the man himself: but the second declares it to be the righteousness performed by our Surety, Christ, apprehended by our faith.

5. The first covenant did not provide, nor so much as admit of a mediator or surety to answer for Adam's performing his part of it, or of any remedy in case of breaking it; for it allowed no place for repentance; it gave no hopes of forgiveness upon any condition whatsoever. But the second covenant graciously admits and allows of all these.

6. The first covenant could be broken and disannulled, but the second is indissolvable and ever- lasting, because of the sufficiency and faithfulness of its surety, Is. 54:10; 55:3; Heb. 7:22, 24, 25.

7. The least sin or failing on Adam's part made void the first covenant, excluded him from all the blessings promised in it, and rendered him perfectly miserable: but all the sins and failings of the elect cannot dissolve the second, to deprive them of happiness, Ps. 89:31, 33, 34; Jer. 3:14; Heb. 13:5, 8; 1 John 2:1, 2. 

Q. Hath our faith the same place in the covenant of grace, that Adam's obedience had in the covenant of works? Or, is faith the condition of the covenant of grace, in the same sense that Adam's obedience was the condition of the covenant of works ?

A. No; for Adam's obedience was his righteousness before God, and the proper ground of his justification and claim to happiness: it was a real and pleadable condition according to the cove- nant, upon which Adam's title to life and happiness was properly founded. But this cannot be said of the believer's faith; for faith is not his righteousness before God, nor the ground of his justification and claim to happiness; it being only the instrument or applying condition required of him for interesting him in the righteousness of Christ his surety; which alone is the proper ground of his justification and claim to happiness; and the only pleadable and meritorious condition of life and salvation, which the poor naked and guilty soul must flee to and depend upon.

2. The condition required of Adam, in the first covenant, was to be performed by him in his own strength, i.e. the strength that was given him at his creation. But the condition required in the second covenant, is not to be performed by the elect sinner in his own natural strength, but by the strength freely promised and communicated to him in this covenant.

Q. Doth not the covenant of grace oblige us to obedience, as well as the covenant of works did?

A. Yes; but not in the same way, or for the same ends.

Q. What is the difference betwixt legal and evangelical obedience?

A. It is very great in several respects: 1. Legal obedience was peremptorily commanded as man's duty: but evangelical obedience is also freely promised, and given as the gift of God.

2. The first could not be admitted, unless absolutely perfect: but the second is accepted, though imperfect if sincere.

3. They vastly differ in their ends, the first was required as the proper condition of life and happiness, but the second, as an evidence of our faith, and conformity to our Redeemer. The first was for the justification of our persons; but the second for the testification of our gratitude for redeeming love. The first was required as the legal condition for the purchasing of heaven and glory; but the second, as a gospel qualification in order to possessing it only.

Q, What names or epithets doth the covenant of grace get in scripture ?

A. A great many, particularly it is called a testament, a covenant of peace, a covenant of life, a covenant of promise, a new covenant, an everlasting, holy, sure, and well ordered covenant, Heb. 9:15; Ezek. 37:26; Mal. 2:5; Eph. 2:12; Heb. 12:24; Is. 55:3; Luke 1:78; 2 Sam. 23:5.

Q. Why is this covenant called a testament? 

A. It is frequently called so in scripture, and that because the everlasting inheritance promised in it, with all things thereunto belonging, is freely bequeathed and made over to the elect; yea, even the things required of them are freely promised to them: and all these precious promises and legacies are made sure and firm to them by the death of Jesus Christ the testator, Heb. 9:16, 17; Matt. 26:28.

Q. Is the covenant of grace a scripture term, and what is the import and meaning of it?

A. This term indeed is not found in the express words, though it be often expressed in words equivalent. The term is very significant and most fitly appropriated to this covenant; in regard the free grace (i.e. the undeserved mercy and goodness) of God is richly and gloriously displayed in this covenant. It was free grace that inclined God at first to contrive it, that moved him after- wards to reveal and propose it. It is free grace that determines the elect to consent to it, and abide in it. And it is the exalting of God's free grace which is the great end and design of it. But more especially it is called a covenant of grace, in respect of the matter of it, all the blessings and good things promised in it being God's gracious and free gifts to undeserving sinners, proceeding merely from his gratuitous bounty and astonishing free love in Christ. Yea, so full of grace is this covenant, though God is pleased to require faith of us, as the condition to interest us in the benefits of it, and also good works to show forth that faith; yet, both that faith and these works are as freely promised and given to the elect by virtue of this covenant, as any other blessing in it, Eph. 1:4, 5, 6; 2:8—10; Zech. 4:8.

Q. What are these blessings, gifts, and benefits, which are so freely offered and promised to us in this covenant?

A. They are so many they cannot be numbered ; and so great, they cannot bo expressed. The great things stipulated on God's part in this covenant, and that which is the sum and substance of all his other promises, is, "I will be your God," Jer. 31:33. This is the fullest, largest, sweetest, sublimest, and most comprehensive promise in the whole bible. The covenant of works had no such promise that we read of; God said only to Adam, "Do this and live," i.e. Thou shalt have life and happiness. But in the covenant of grace he said, "Believe in my Son, and I will be thy God," i.e. I will not only give you life, heaven, and glory, but I will give you myself, a Jehovah, all I am, all I have, and all I can do, shall be thine. "I will be thy God," includes all God's blessings to his people, whether grace or glory, earth or heaven, time or eternity. It implies his standing instead of all relations to them; his heing their Father, their King, their Husband, their Master, their Friend, their benefactor, and all things to them. Further, "I will be your God," imports an interest in all the divine attributes and perfections; you shall have my wisdom for your direction, my power for your protection, my mercy for your pardon, my grace for your sanctification, my faithfulness for making good all the promises to you, and my sufficiency for giving you perfect happiness. Nay, a whole trinity shall be yours; the Father, with his eternal love and pity; the Son, with all the fulness of his purchase; and the Holy Ghost, to make application of the blessings of that purchase unto you.

Q. What are the blessings of Christ's purchase contained in this covenant ?

A. All the blessings and mercies that ever were or shall be enjoyed by any believer in time or eternity; they are all the fruits of Christ's purchase, and run to them in the channel of this covenant. The chief of these particular blessings are, "The new heart, illumination, faith, repentance, pardon, freedom from the law's curses, reconciliation, adoption, sanctification, access to God, hearing of prayers, the quickenings, consolations, and conduct of the Holy Spirit, increase of grace, peace of conscience, perseverance, the ministry of angels, suitable outward provision, through-bearing at death, resurrection to life, and eternal glory:" together with all the graces of the Spirit, and innumerable other blessings, temporal, spiritual, and eternal: Ezek. 36:25—27; Heb. 8:10—12; Ps. 23:1, &c; 24:10; 84:11; 91:11; Is. 33:16; 41:10; Jer. 3:19; Hos. 14:4, 5; John 10:28; 1Cor.1:30; 3:22; 2 Cor. 1:20; 6:18; Jer. 31:33, 34; 32:38—41; Rom. 8:26, 28; John 3:18, 36; 14:16, 17, 26; Is. 54:13 ; 53:11 ; Rom. 3:24—26; 1 Tim. 4:8 ; Phil. 4:19 ; 2 Pet. 1:4.

Q. Whether is the covenant of grace absolute or conditional?

A. If the definition before given of this covenant with the scripture texts whereon it is founded, be duly considered and compared, we will find it is partly absolute, and partly conditional.

Q. In what respect is the covenant of grace absolute?

A. In respect of the first blessings and benefits promised in it, which serve as means for obtain- ing the ends of the covenant, such as effectual vocation, regeneration, faith, and repentance; these are promised, and given absolutely and freely by God for Christ's sake, without depending on any condition to be performed by the elect, Heb. 7:10 ; John 6:44, 45.

Q. In what respect is this covenant conditional ?

A. In respect of the second and subsequent blessings of it, which are as the end of the foresaid means, such as union with Christ, justification, adoption, and glorification. God is pleased to suspend the bestowing of these till that condition be performed by the elect, which he requires, viz. faith, John 1:12 ; Gal. 2:16; Phil, 3:19.

Q. In what sense is faith called a condition on our part, in this covenant?

A. I showed before that it is not to be meant in that sense, that obedience is called the condition of the covenant of works; that we do not understand it as an act any way meritorious or pleadable before God for a reward, or an act performed by our own inherent strength, or elicited by the power of our free will. But we mean only that faith is an act or qualification required of us in point of duty, as necessarily antecedent to the conferring of the promised blessings of pardon and life: and that the bestowing of these blessings is suspended, till this act or condition be performed.

Q. Is faith the only condition of the covenant of grace?

A. In this covenant there are conditions of three sorts: 1. There is conditio propter quam, or a condition for which the blessings of this covenant are bestowed on the elect; and that is Christ's satisfaction and merits, in respect whereof all the blessings of the covenant are truly conditional, except that of election, and God's purpose of redemption.

2. There is conditio per quam, or a condition by which we come to get an actual title to, and interest in the second or subsequent blessings of the covenant before-mentioned, and that is faith, which is required as a necessary condition, instrument, or mean of application on one part, in order to our partaking of these blessings, Rom. 5:1; Acts 16:30.

3. There is conditio sine qua non, or a condition without which the foresaid blessings of pardon and eternal life cannot be enjoyed; so repentance and new obedience may be called conditions of this sort; in regard they are absolutely necessary for all Christians partly as the concomitants, fruits, and evidences of a true faith; and partly to prepare and "make us meet for the inheritance of the saints in light," Luke 8:3; Zech. 12:10; Col. 1:10, 12; Heb. 12:14.

Q. Doth it not detract from the grace and freeness of this covenant, and afford something to the creature whereof to boast, to say that the covenant requires any condition on our part?

A. If any act or duty required of us in this covenant, were to be performed by our natural strength, or by the help of common grace; or if it did give a right to the blessings of the covenant in any meritorious way, either by way of congruity or condignity in the popish sense: then indeed, it would derogate from the free grace of this covenant; wherefore, with all sound Protestants, we must abhor all thoughts of such duties, works, or conditions as these. But when we call faith a condition, and understand it only of a gracious instrument or qualification in the elect, purchased for them by Jesus Christ, absolutely promised by God in this covenant, and wrought in them by tho Holy Ghost; a grace, that receives all from God and gives the entire glory to God: such a conditionality of faith is noways inconsistent with a covenant of grace, or of promise, Eph. 2:5, 8.

Q. Since faith is not performed by our strength, but wrought in us by the Holy Spirit, how can it be said to be a condition on our part?

A. Though the grace and power of believing be derived from God's Spirit, yet the act of believing is properly the act and deed of the gracious soul, as being exerted and performed by his faculties; and hence it is that the Spirit of God styles these truly our works, that are wrought in us by his grace, Isa. 26:12, "Lord, thou hast wrought all our works in us." They are still termed our works, though performed by his grace.

Q. May not love, repentance, humility, self-denial, holiness, and new obedience, be called conditions of this covenant, as well as faith, seeing these are likewise required of all that entered into this covenant, and many blessings of this covenant are also suspended until the performance of them?

A . There is a very great difference betwixt the conditionality of these graces, and that of faith, as I shall afterwards make appear. In the mean time, I own, if conditions be taken in a large sense, for every thing, duty, or qualification, that is necessarily required of those that enter into this covenant; then indeed all the forementioned graces and qualifications maybe called conditions or terms in this covenant; and some of these terms, conditions or qualifications are necessary as antecedents unto our entering into this covenant, others as concomitants of it, and others as consequents to it, though indeed they are also freely promised to the elect.

Q. What are these terms or qualifications, that are required as antecedents unto our entering into this covenant?

A. Such as hearing of the word, some knowledge of God, and sense of our misery, and despair of help in ourselves, and a sight of our need of a Mediator, &c. All these may be called antecedent or preparatory conditions of our entering into covenant, in regard they are necessarily and previously requisite unto it, Matt. 9:12; Luke 15:16, 17; John 4:10.

Q. What are these terms or qualifications, that are required as concomitants?

A. Such as, repentance, love, humility, self-denial, spiritual hunger, &c. these may be called concomitant conditions of our entering into this covenant, in regard they necessarily accompany it, and are inseparable from true faith, Mark 1:15; Acts 2:38; Luke 7:47; 9:23; Phil. 2:3, 8; Mat. 5:6.

Q. What are these terms or qualifications, which are required as consequent unto our entering into this covenant

A. Such as, evangelical obedience, taking up the cross, patience, perseverance, &c. these we find laid down as fruits and evidences of faith, and required as necessary conditions of our enjoying and possessing the ends of this covenant; viz. eternal life and glory, Gen. 17:1, 2; Luke 9:23; Heb. 12:14; 10:36, 38. I say, all these may be called conditions, or terms in this covenant, in the sense before specified; as being duties and qualifications necessarily required of all those that enter into it; and so we find these words, conditions and terms, used by many sound Protestant divines.

Q. What is the difference betwixt the condition of faith, and these other conditions required? Or what preference hath faith to these, in reference to this covenant?

A. Repentance, and the other graces and qualifications before-named, are only conditions of certain connection, without which we cannot be justified, united to Christ, or inherit his purchased glory; but faith is the only instrumental, uniting and applying condition of our justification, by, and through which, as a mean and instrument, we are actually justified, united to Christ, and entitled to all the blessings of his purchase. It far excels all other graces, in regard it hath a peculiar influence on our justification, and union with Christ. It doth that noble office to us, which no other grace or act of ours is capable of, because of its special aptitude and fitness for taking hold of the Redeemer, and closing with his righteousness. Hence we are frequently said to he justified by faith, but never by repentance, love, or any other grace. And the righteousness that doth justify us, is often called the "righteousness of faith and by faith." And it is so called to teach us, that as the righteousness of Christ is the only meritorious condition of our justification and our partaking of the great blessings of that covenant; so faith is the only instrument and applying condition thereof, Rom. 4:13; 10:6; Phil. 3:9; Gal. 5; Heb. 11:7.

Q. Doth faith justify, and entitle us to the blessings of the covenant, as a work, grace, or habit in us, of special excellency and worth before God?

A. Not at all, for if it be considered as a work or grace in us, it hath not any more intrinsic worth or value, than other gracious habits, nor any more influence on our justification before God, than other graces have, which is indeed none at all. Faith then, doth not any ways justify us upon the account of its own worth, or as it is a work or grace of ours; but only as it is an instrument having a peculiar fitness as the hand of the soul, for apprehending of Christ, and applying his righteousness, which is the only ground of our justification before God. And upon this account only it is, that faith is preferred to all the rest of the graces, and called the only condition of the covenant of grace on our part.

Q. Why is Christ called the Mediator and surety of the covenant of grace?

A. 1. He is called the Mediator of it, because he graciously interposeth betwixt God and man, who were at variance, and by his blood and Spirit reconciles them together, and brings them into a covenant of peace and friendship.

2. He is called surety of this covenant, because he graciously undertakes for both parties fulfill- ing their parts of it, viz. that God shall perform all his promises to the elect, and that they shall do whatever God requires of them, 1 Tim. 2:5; Heb. 9:15; 7:22.

Q. Doth God need any surety or cautioner on his part?

A. Not at all, upon his own account, for he is the faithful and immutable God, "for whom it is impossible to lie," or falsify his promise. But only on our account, for our guilt having made us suspicious that God would not accept, or dwell with such unworthy creatures: it was requisite for our comfort that the Son of God should be surety to us, for the performance of these promises, that are truly so great in themselves and may justly be astonishing to our thoughts.

Q. Is this covenant universal, or made and entered into with all men, as the first covenant was?

A. No; it is only made and entered into with such as accept the offers and terms of it, and these are none but the elect, Is. 55:3; Ezek. 11:19, 20; Heb. 8:10; Rom. 9:4; 11:5, 7

Q. Is this covenant offered to none else?

A. Christ and the benefits of this covenant are tendered to all that hear the gospel, without exception: and this is plain from the many general calls and invitations of Christ to lost sinners, with the promises thereto annexed, which we have recorded; together with his peremptory commands, that require every man to come to him, and believe in him, and that under the pain of damnation, Prov. 1:20—23; 8:1—5; Is. 14:22; 55:1; Mark 16:15, 16; Acts 2:38, 39; Rev. 3:17, 18; 22:17.

Q. Have all men, even the worst, sufficient warrant from these general calls, commands, and promises to come to Christ, and take hold of this covenant, with all its benefits and promises?

A. Yes; they may do it warrantably, without any fear of presumption, firmly expecting welcome upon their coming. Nay, they heinously sin against God and their own souls, if they neglect to do it, Is. 51:3—5; John 4:37; Heb. 2:3; 4:1,2.

Q. Why is this covenant offered and tendered to all the hearers of the gospel indefinitely, seeing it is only made with a certain number of them, viz. the elect?

A. Because it hath so pleased a wise and sovereign God, who doth all things, "according to the counsel of his will," and is not bound to give an account of his matters. Yet, we may adventure to say, that he doth it for these ends; namely, that he may proclaim the sufficiency and perfection of Christ's ransom, together with the freeness and fulness of divine grace, as a sufficient foundation for all to believe, and flee to Christ for refuge. And also, that by this method the elect may be gathered out of the multitude, and the refusers of Christ left without excuse, Eph. 2:11; Job 33:13; Matt. 20:16; Luke 15:22; Heb. 2:3; 11:13, 14.

Q. Is there any salvation but by the covenant of grace and Christ its mediator?

A.No. Acts 4:12; 1 Cor. 2:13; Gal. 2:16.

Q. How then were the faithful saved, who lived under the law before Christ's coming in the flesh?

A. Though they had a dark and legal dispensation of the mystery of grace, yet they were under the same covenant, and saved in the same method with us; for they had the same Mediator and surety, typified to them by Moses and the sacrifices; they had the same promises of remission and salvation, which we have: and they were called to look through the types and figures, and act faith on Christ to come, as their only Saviour and Redeemer. And so they were justified by Christ in the method of the covenant of grace, and saved by virtue of the blood of Christ their surety, which was agreed upon to be shed for them in due time, according to the covenant of redemption; upon which account he is called "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world," Rev. 13:8. See also Ps. 2:12; Is. 14:22; Acts 10:43; Gal. 3:7—9; 1 Cor. 10:4.

Q. Was the covenant of grace promulgated and dispensed to the church, always after one and the same manner?

A. No; but in different manners; yea, so different, that though the covenant of grace, under all periods, hath still been the same for substance, yet, because of its gradual revelation and different administration, it is distinguished into the Old and New Testament, or the old and the new covenant of grace. The old covenant being that which was administered before Christ's coming in the flesh; and the new, that which is administered since his coming, Heb. 1:1; 8:13; 9:1; Jer. 31: 31; 2 Cor. 3:6—8.

Q. Wherein doth the dispensation of the new covenant of grace differ from that of the old?

A. The Old Testament, or covenant of grace, was administered by promises, prophecies, sacri- fices, and other types: which all pointed forth Christ as to come. But the new covenant of grace is administered by the preaching of the word, and dispensing of the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's supper, which show forth Christ as already come. Moreover, the new dispensation of the covenant is far more easy, clear, efficacious, and extensive than that of the old, Heb. 10:1—3, &c.; 8:6, &c; 1 Pet. 1:10; Matt. 28:19 ; 1 Cor. 11:23.

Q. What way hath God taken to establish and confirm the covenant of grace to us?

A. Several ways: 1. By his word or promise. 2. By his oath. 3. By the death and blood of his Son. 4. By outward signs and seals, commonly called sacraments, Gen. 17:7; 22:16, 17; Heb. 6:13—18; 11:16, 17 ; Rom. 4:11.