Jul 18, 2011

Duty Faith And The Covenants by John Foreman

You consider that the obligation of every man to believe unto salvation, depends on 'The rule of universal obedience, which is the very essence of God's law.' This is a most sorry huddling together of things which are fundamentally dissimilar in their nature, order and design, Into one confused, unintelligible and erroneous mass; for it is a making creation obligations, and salvation favours and blessings; the possession of Eden, and the obtaining of heaven, with all the grace, love and glory of God to eternal life there, to be originally by the spirit, mind, and intent of one and the very self-same law and covenant of divine claims and creature obligations. 0 dear, sir, what a medley!

Adam covenant

There is properly, nothing without covenant system and order, of all things that are of God with man; whether they be gifts or claims, obligations or blessings. For when the Lord made Adam, and the whole human race in him as their head, he made a covenant with him, Gen 2:15-17, and according to which he gave him the good of Eden, and thereby all the good of pure creation; with fixed obligations according to the nature of that good, and the constituted powers and qualifications of Adam personally, and also in him, equally to do what was required, as to enjoy what was given. And as the nature of the good, such was the nature of the obligations; and as the extent of the good, such was the extent of the obligations; and this covenant could never devolve on man obligations it never qualified him to perform; nor could it devolve the obligations of another covenant altogether different in its nature, construction and design. Pure natural man was made with greatest fitness to this covenant of A natural good; and this covenant was made with equal fitness to sinless natural man. Man's capacity to enjoy the good of this covenant, and his capacity with happiness to perform the obligations of this covenant, were of the same holy length and breadth. This covenant could not secure a good beyond its own nature, nor devolve an obligation beyond its own good. just as universal as the good of this covenant is, so universal, and no more, are the obligations of obedience to this covenant. Angels were never partakers of the good of this covenant in its covenant form, as it was never made with them; and so they were never under any of its particular forms of obligation to obey; and by the same rule, man by this covenant is not a partaker of the order of angelic good, and so is not subject to the angelic order of obligations to obey. God has never put to any covenant the obligations of obedience before interest in the privileges or good of it, but after; and so Adam and his race were in the good of this covenant made with him, before they were subject to its claims of obedience; at any rate, God made Adam before he claimed obedience of him; and made him with faculties before he made it his duty to exercise them in any way; and let the same only be said of the new creation, and new creatureship, and the divine covenant therewith in Christ Jesus, and we would lay down the pen and say no more.

Abraham covenant

God made a covenant with Abraham, by which he gave to him and his seed the land of Canaan, and all the good thereof. The whole race of Adam universally were never within this covenant with Abraham and his seed, nor intended to be so; and so they, accordingly, were never universally partakers of its peculiar form of privileges, and so, accordingly, were not under its peculiar form of obligations to obey its claims. And the obligations of this covenant with Abraham were according to its own nature only, and which were in accordance with its own privileges in particular. And these covenanters were as naturally equal to their obligations, as their privileges were suited to their happiness in that order; for as the enjoyment of their privileges was conditional on their obedience, there was nothing in the claims but what was happily practicable, and within their uniform ability to discharge. But the peculiar claims of this covenant with Abraham and his seed, were not the universal duty of the whole race of Adam to obey, because they were not bound to obedience by its privileges; and the Lord has never set up a covenant with claims, but as those claims should righteously grow out of the real privileges of such covenant. Man has, therefore, nothing to do with the obligations, nor with the privileges, of any covenant with God, but as he has really to do with the covenant, and as the covenant has really to do with him; and only let this truth be admitted, and all to the contrary be cast be away, in regard to the gospel covenant of the free and sovereign grace of God, and we should hear no more of the natural man's duty to believe unto salvation. But your idea of universal obedience in kind and extent by one and the self-same law only, goes to deny of all this, and to say that all covenant distinctions and relations are nothing at all with you, in regard to the nature and order of obedience, although so clearly and distinctly stated in the word of God.

Covenant of grace

The Lord saith, I have made a covenant with my chosen,' Ps 89:3,4, meaning with David as the type and figure, but with Christ as the true antitype and head, and with his seed, the chosen in him, of the redeemed and represented by him. And this is called, an everlasting covenant, Heb 13: 20 the covenant of peace that shall not be removed, Isa. 54:10 "a covenant that God will not break, Psa.89:34 "that he hath remembered for ever, Psa.105:8 a covenant on by which he will be a God to the house of Israel, and they shall be to him a people, Heb 8:10 an everlasting covenant by which he will do good to all those whom It concerns, with whom it has to the do, and they with that; and will not turn away from them, but to will put his fear in their hearts, that they shall not turn away from and him; but that he will with his whole heart and with his whole soul rejoice over them to do them good, Jer. 32:40, 41 a covenant of but sure mercies, Isa. 55:3. And this is called the better covenant, as surpassing all before it, and as so much also differing from all other be covenants, having Christ for the mediator of it, Heb 8: 6. And this covenant, by another form of expression, is called a testament, a better testament, the new testament, or will, made out in due form, and published and declared to be God's last will and testament; distinct from all others in form and nature, and for its heirs it is better, having Christ for its surety, as God's surety to the people, and the people's surety to God, Heb 9: 15; chap 7: 22. This covenant, as God's will and testament, is sure and without uncertainties, and shall stand fast and unbroken with Christ for his seed for ever, Ps 89: 28-37. This covenant is not indifferent, but special; not general, but particular; not universal, but select; being made only with God's chosen. This covenant is the great scope and scale of eternal life and salvation, as by purpose determined, and by promise declared; and the gospel is but the public proclamation of the truth of this covenant, for the obedience of faith and salvation of the chosen of all nations, in the name of Jesus, and by the forgiveness of sin through his blood.

The error of mixing the covenants

Now I cannot see what the obligations of the Eden covenant of nature can have to do with faith in this covenant of mercy, by a surety's blood, as a duty; because the most perfect obedience maintained in Eden could in no way, from its very nature, be any title, or even any sort of introduction, to any of the mercy favors: of this covenant. And as the Eden covenant, which was but a fair legal contract between sinless man and his holy Maker, could not, from its very nature, embrace one single salvation blessing of this covenant of mercy, so neither could it devolve one single obligation on man, in regard to the parental and household requirements of this covenant of forgiving mercy to those whom the law of that covenant at once condemns. The law of works is the standard of the natural man's legal, and of the sinful man's penal, obligations to God, according to the Eden covenant; and by that law it was, and is, every natural man's duty to be naturally pure and sinless, as Adam was at the first, and all in him, and had power so to be; but it is no man's duty to be a saint in Christ Jesus; it is a great favor to be so, and it is divine favor only that makes any man to be so, and it is the power of divine favor only, that makes any poor sinner to know, believe, rejoice, and live to God under the truth of it. And this being on so different a foundation altogether to that of the natural covenant with pure human nature in Eden, duty faith in this covenant of mercy to the guilty could never come as an obligation on any man from that covenant with sinless nature; which will not even now know any thing but innocency or death; repentance and faith being no part of the obedience or state of man required by the law of works.

And we might very property ask, are the favors of the covenant of life and peace universal, while the covenant itself is undeniably declared to be particular? Are election, predestination, redemption, justification, peace, pardon, sanctification, and final glory in heaven with Christ, universal favors? Because if they are not, to believe them so, Is to believe a lie; and to teach so, is to teach a lie; and to teach any one thing that justly leads to the conclusion that all the rest, to be consistent, must be universal, is but little better than at once teaching of lies altogether. And it must be very fallacious to talk about universal faith without universal interest, since faith and interest are inseparable, according to the word of God. And since faith is the sign of interest, by the promise of God, can it be the duty of all to believe and wear the sign universally, of what is not universally warranted by promise? And are the promises universal? Because, no promise, no ground for faith; for even grace does not give faith where it has not given promise. Or is it the duty of all men to believe unto salvation in such a way, as that by believing they may make that eternally general, which God himself has made eternally particular and discriminate?

Duty-faith Expositions

Free Grace Expositions