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Of the different Economies or dispensations of the Covenant
1. It nevertheless pleased God, at sundry periods of time, and in divers manners, to dispense the same covenant of grace. We shall exhibit, in this chapter, a short representation of these dispensations in such a method, as first simply to explain what in this matter seems to us most exactly agreeable to the whole tenor of scripture; then freely, but calmly weigh the reflections of other learned men.
II. This diversity of economies is comprised under two principal heads, which the apostle calls by the names of the Old and New TESTAMENT, where we are to note, that by the Old Testament, we are by no means to understand the legal covenant, obtaining salvation by our own works; that being very different from the covenant of grace. But according to us and Paul, the Old Testament denotes the testament (or covenant] of grace, under that dispensation, which subsisted before the coming of Christ in the flesh, and was proposed formerly to the fathers under the vail of certain types, pointing out some imperfections of that state, and consequently that they were to be abolished in their appointed time; or as Calvin has very well expressed it, Institut. lib. 2. chap. xi. § 4. “ the Old Testament was a doctrine involved in a shadowy and ineffectual observation of ceremonies, and was therefore temporary, because a thing in suspense, till established on a firm and substantial bottom." The New Testament is the testament (or covenant) of grace; under that dispensation, which succeeded the former, after being consecrated and established by the blood of Christ. For this reason Christ calls the
which he reached to his disciples in the supper, " the cup of the new testament in his blood,” Mat. xxvi. 28. To signify that then at length the New Testament would be perfected when sealed by the blood of the testator, which he shed at his death.
III. It is carefully to be observed, that the difference of these testaments is not to be placed in the substance of the promised inheritance; as if, under the Old Testament, ,was allotted the inheritance of the land of Canaan, and the inheritance of heaven under the New. Nothing can be imagined less accurate and just. The allotment of the heavenly inheritance proceeds from the testament of grace, absolutely considered, which remains in variably one and the same under every economy. Only the same
inheritance is proposed in a different manner. In the Old Testament, under shadows, and in a certain period thereof, under the pledge of the land of Canaan, and which at the appointed time was to be purchased by the death of the testator. In the New Testament clearly, without a pledge to which any regard
a was to be bad, and as now purchased by the death of the testator. The promise of the common salvation which is in Christ, whether formerly made to the fathers, or to us at this day, does not belong to the Old and New Testament as such, but absolutely to the testament or covenant of grace. The difference of the testaments consists in the different manner of dispensing and proposing the same saving grace, and in some different ad juncts and circumstances. Whatever
was typical in that dispensation, and denoted imperfection, and an acknowledgment that the ransom was not yet paid, belongs to the Old Testament. Whatever shews that the redemption is actually wrought out, is peculiar to the New Testament. Without carefully adverting to this, it is not possible, we can have a distinct knowledge of the nature of both testaments.
IV. But let us insist a little further on this point, if pos sibly we may advance what may set the truth in a clear light. Three things are to be distinguished : the testament of
grace, the Old and New Testament. To each its own inheritance is to be assigned : That of the testament of grace is eternal salvation, with every thing belonging to it, through Jesus Christ; which is equally common to believers in all ages. The
. Old and New Testament being different economies of this one testament of grace which they comprise, suppose also and include the same heavenly inheritance. But in so far as they are different, the inheritance also attributed to each, is different : but that difference consists chiefly in two things, first, in the different manner of proposing it, which I hope I have now clearly explained: then in the circumstantial adjuncts of the principal inheritance; which, in the Old Testament are, the inheritance of the land of Canaan, as a pledge of heaven, with a bondage to the elements of the world, and the exclusion of the Gentiles, and a less measure of the Spirit of grace. In the New Testament the inheritance of the Gentiles, with liberty, and a more plentiful measure of grace.
V. We begin the economy of the Old Testament immediately upon
the fall, and the first promise of grace, and end it in Christ; as both the nature of the thing and scripture direct us to do. We argue from the nature of the thing in this manner; since believers had the covenant of grace proposed and confirmed to them, immediately after the fall, by such signs, as contained a confession that guilt was not yet expiated ; and which therefore were, at the time appointed, to be abrogated by the introduction of the New Testament ; there can be no reason, why the promise thus proposed and ratified should not be the Old Testament. We do not reckon the promise of the seed of the woman bruising the serpent's head, and of the enmity established between the seed of both, as belonging to the Old Testament, for these things absolutely belong to the covenant of grace in general, but the sacrifices, which were added, and by the blood of which that testament was confirmed, belong indeed to the Old Testament. It appears more than probable to us,
. with some very learned men, from the Mosaic history, that immediately upon the promulgation of the covenant of grace, Adam, at the command of God, slew beasts for sacrifice, whose skins were, by the favour of God, granted to him and his wife for clothing: which was not without its mystical signification, as shall be explained in its proper place. It is certain, we have an express account of sacrifices, Gen. iv. 2. seq. which account, in the opinion of chronologers, happened about the year of Adam, 129. Seeing therefore these sacrifices belong to the testament (or covenant) of grace, and typically seal the blood of Christ, which was to be shed in due time, and likewise reminded of guilt
not yet expiated, they can be referred to nothing but the Old Testament. For, whatever is thus joined to the covenant of grace, cannot possibly be referred to the New Testament, the very force of the words requires its being said of the Old Testament. To this argument a certain very learned person objects as follows: “ Adam, the deluge and the rain-bow were types, and previous to the actual performance of redemption, and yet they belong not expressly to the Old Testament. For, this last was abrogated with all its shadows. But those others cease not to be types of greater and spiritual things to us." But the answer seems to be easy. The deliverance of the Israelites out of Egypt, the passage through the Red sea, their wonderful support in the wilderness by manna, and water from the rock, the fall of Jericho, the expulsion of the nations out of Canaan, the carrying away of the Israelites into Babylon, their return from Babylon, and many other things of the like nature (for it would be endless to recount all), do they not all belong to the Old Testament economy? But these very things certainly cease not according to the sentiments of very learned men, to be all of them types of the greatest things to the Christian church. The city of Jerusalem itself, the very temple with its whole pomp of ceremonies, though no longer in being, any more than. Adam and the deluge, yet ought also to be considered by us Christians as types of the heavenly city and temple not made
with hands. In a word, the whole of the Mosaic law, though abrogated as to any obligation of observance, ceases not lo exhibit
to us, for our instruction, a type of spiritual things. VI. There is another reason taken from Paul, who reduces all these institutions of God to the Old Testament, Heb. viii. 13. Which decay and wax old, and are ready to vanish away. But it is certain, that not only those things which were first ordained by Moses, but those also, which were in force, long before Moses, as sacrifices and circumcision, were abrogated by the introduction of the New Testament. But these were not abrogated, because, as the learned person would have it, they were reduced by Moses, with the rest of his constitutions, into one obscure system, but because they were of the same nature with the Mosaical; namely, shadows, which were to give place to Christ the substance. And they were so, not from their being renewed by Moses, but from their first institution.
VII. Nor do we speak without scripture, when we reckon all that time, from the fall to the coming of Christ, to the Old, or former Testament. For thus we have the apostle's authority, Heb. ix. 15. “And for this cause he is the mediator of the New Testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the FIRST TESTAMENT, they which are called, might receive the promise of eternal inberitance," But it is evident, that, by the death of Christ, the transgressions not only of those believers who lived under the Mosaic economy, but also of the elder patriarchs, were expiated from the foundation of the world ; to which the apostle's reasoning leads us, as by the hand, ver. 26. And therefore to their time also THE FIRST TESTAMENT belongs. And no reason can be given, why the apostle should wake particular mention of any determinate period, seeing the efficacy of Christ's death equally extends to all believers backward. Which was also finely observed by Cocceius himself, in his comment on this place ; “those very sins therefore, which have been, and were not remitted under the first testament, seeing that sin, which all men have in common, because all are said to have sinned, when Adam sinned, Rom. v. 12. and all other sins his children were guilty of, as also the sins of those, who expected Christ, in order that the testament, which gives remission and the inheritance, might be ratified, ought to be expiated by the death of the Mediator, as by a ransom.
VIII. We will again consider and examine the very learned person's exception; and thus he speaks ; “ from the time that sin was imputed, to wit, from the time of the law, there being made, by the law of Moses and the Mosaic institution, a com
memoration and exprobation or charge, or accusation of sin, and a hand writing exacted, Heb. x. 3. Col. q. 14.; hence all the preceding sins committed during all the time avoxñs of the forbearance, are said to HAVE BEEN, in a peculiar manner, under the Old Testament. Not that the Old Testament was from the time in which sin was first committed, but that those committed before the Old Testament, are said in a peculiar manner, to have then chiefly existed when they were imputed, commemorated and exprobated or charged. Nor did it contribute a little to heighten the virtue of Christ's death, expressly to have observed, that sins not only not imputed when there was no law, but also very often imputed and charged, were yet, by the death of Christ, entirely removed, so that there is no more remembrance of them.
IX. These things are so subtle (for I hardly dare call them obscure and perplexed, lest the learned person should be offended) that I own I do not understand them all; I will however attempt it. He supposes with me, and with all the orthodox, that the virtue of Christ's redemption extends to the removing all the sins of all the Elect from the beginning of the world. This being so, he enquires, why Paul called those sins the transgressions that were under the first testament. The reason of which he will not have what we contend for; namely, that the Old Testament was from the time, in which sin was to be expiated by Christ, but that all the preceding sins, committed from the beginning of the world, are said, in a peculiar manner, to HAVE BEEN and to HAVE EXISTED under the Ou Testament, or Mosaic economy. But why did those very old sins exist under the Old Testament? Because then they were imputed and charged by that remembrance of sin, that was made by the law of Moses. From this reasoning I first assert, that, by the transgression under the first testament, are understood all the preceding sins which were committed during the whole time of the forbearance. Whence by a yery easy, consequence it follows, that the times of the for. bearance, in the sense the learned person uses that expression,
, that is, the ages which went before the coming of the Messiah, and of the first testament, are of equal extension. No, says he: But the very old sins, suppose of Adam, Enoch, Noah, are said to have existed under the Mosaic covenant or testament. Where, learned sir ? Where, I say, is it said, that the sins committed before the Old Testament existed in a pecu-, liar wanner upon the introduction of the law of Moses ? Not certainly in these words of Paul. For the very word existing, is not to be found there, much less, in the sense you