by R.B.C. Howell
THE TEACHINGS OF THE COVENANTS.
Messiahship of Jesus; form of
the Christian Church; purposes of
God in relation to the Israelites; Church not visible until
the coming of Christ; qualifications for membership; signs and seals of
the covenants; consummation of the covenant in Christ?s second coming.
ALL the covenants recorded in the word of God, having reference directly, and indirectly, to our redemption from sin, and salvation by Christ, are now before you. It remains only that we consider briefly some few of their doctrinal, and practical teachings. I say some few, and briefly, because to refer to them all, and in detail, would require more time and space than can now be commanded, and I must compress them into a single chapter. How vividly do these covenants illustrate the grace of God in your redemption; the miserable condition of men in their fallen state; the love, and goodness of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ! How affecting the appeal which they wake to your gratitude, and obedience! With a full soul, as you contemplate them, you exclaim with Paul; "O the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!"1 But all these, and many other like considerations, we must pass over in silence.
1. One among the most impressive lessons taught us by the covenants is, I remark, in the first place, the demonstration they give of the Messiahship of Jesus of Nazareth.
Of all the covenants of the law especially, this was the primary purpose. These, as we have seen, provided, to a great extent, the testimony required, to place the faith of both Jews and Gentiles upon an immovable foundation. Is not the proof of his Messiahship given by them, and their auxiliaries, perfectly conclusive? Was not Jesus the Christ? Is the promised Deliverer yet to come? Then all is lost irrecoverably. Come when he will, it never can be certainly known that he is the promised Messiah. No means exist?no means ever can exist? by which his claims may be satisfactorily established. The Jews from whom he was to spring are no longer a nation, but driven centuries since, from their country, are in hopeless exile. Their laws which God pledged himself to maintain until his advent, ceased to be administered eighteen hundred years since. Long ago has past the prophetic period for his appearing. The genealogies of the tribes are all wholly lost. Not a Jew can be found on earth, who, as they themselves confess, knows, or ever can know, whether he is a descendant of David, or of some other Hebrew family. Messiah not yet come! Then all prophecy, and all history must be discredited. The Bible itself is a fable, and no confidence can Be placed in its revelations. Religion, in all its forms, is only a delicious dream! But, happily, we labor under no such uncertainties. God himself has provided, in these covenants, and their auxiliaries, against all indefiniteness. The proof that Jesus is the Christ, is full and "infallible." He came at the precise time, and in the very place, fixed by prophecy, for the coming of Messiah; all the collateral events occurred which were predicted to transpire at his appearing; the family from which he sprung; the place of his birth, and of his teaching; the works which he did; the events previously predicted, of his life, betrayal, sufferings, death, resurrection, and ascension; all these leave upon the intelligent, and unprejudiced mind, no doubts. It is absolutely certain that Jesus is the Christ, the Saviour of men.
2. The teachings of the covenants, truly interpreted, give us, secondly, important aid in determining the character, and form of the visible Christian church.
They concur with the New Testament, in establishing the fact, that it is "A congregation of faithful men, in which the true word of God is preached, and the sacraments duly administered, according to Christ?s ordinances, in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same."2 It is therefore, a purely spiritual body, called out of the world, by the gospel3 and formally organized for the service of Christ, according to his own laws. In professed agreement with these doctrines, but practically, in direct opposition to them, it has been very generally assumed, that "The Jewish society before Christ, and the Christian society after Christ, are one, and the same church, under different dispensations." This proposition, you must, from the examination through which we have passed, be convinced cannot be sustained. The covenants themselves, plainly show that the Jewish church, and the Christian church, are organized upon different, and dissimilar covenants; that they are composed of wholly unlike materials?the one of the entire Hebrew nation, the other of "faithful men," believers only; that one was a figure of the other; and that when the gospel church, the reality, was visibly organized, the Jewish church, the figure, ceased to exist. The covenants of the law, were the charter of the Jewish church. They were designed, as we have seen, to bear witness to Christ. When he came, and was acknowledged, their purpose being accomplished, they were superseded, since when the charter expired, then of course, expired with it, all the peculiar privileges it conferred. The Jewish church, therefore, was not continued in any form. The new covenant was now introduced into visible administration. This is the charter of the Christian church. If the apostles teach us truly, these churches were so unlike, that the removal of the Jewish was necessary to the introduction of the Christian:- "He taketh away the first [covenant says Paul,] that he may establish the second."4 And David speaking prophetically of Messiah, says:- "The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent; Thou art a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedeck."5 In exposition of this passage, Paul remarks:- "If perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should arise, after the order of Melchizedeck, and not be called after the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity, a change also of the law. For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of whom no man gave attendance at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Judah, [such is the stipulation of the covenant] of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. And it is far more evident," that "there is a disannulling of the commandment going before [the old covenant] for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. For the law [the Jewish covenant] made nothing perfect; [being figurative merely] but the bringing in of a better hope [the gospel covenant] did; by the which hope we draw nigh unto God.?6 Can that which is removed, and that which is placed in its stead, be after all, substantially the same thing? Can the law be changed, and still continue to be the same law? If not, then the covenant of the Christian church, is another covenant than that of the Jewish church; having a new Mediator, a new order of priests, new sacrifices, and a new service. It follows, therefore, that "The Jewish society before Christ, and the Christian society after Christ, are not one and the same church under different dispensations." Consequently all the deductions from this source to which men are wont to resort, in reference to the nature, form, and ordinances of the Christian church, are baseless, and necessarily fall to the ground.
These conclusions, so obviously scriptural, and true, are, I am glad to find, beginning to be acknowledged by the learned, and candid, even in the ranks of our Pedobaptist brethren. I might introduce several authorities, but will satisfy myself with one only. Dr. Hodge, one of the Professors in the Princeton Theological Seminary says:- "It is to be remembered that there were two covenants made with Abraham. By the one his natural descendants through Isaac, were constituted a commonwealth? an external community; by the other his spiritual descendants were constituted into a church, [invisible of course, since, at that time, the only formal organization was that of the law.] The parties to the former covenant, were God, and the nation; to the other, God, and his true people. The promises of the national covenant, were national blessings; the promises of the spiritual covenant (i.e. the covenant of grace) were spiritual blessings, as reconciliation, holiness, and eternal life. The conditions of the one covenant [the old] were circumcision, and obedience to the law; the conditions of the other were, and ever have been, faith in the Messiah, as ?the seed of the woman,? the Son of God, the Saviour of the world. There cannot be a greater mistake than to confound the national covenant with the covenant of grace, [that is, the old covenant with the new] and the commonwealth founded on the one, with the church founded on the other. When Christ came, the commonwealth was abolished, and there was nothing put in its place. The church [now made visible] remained. There was no external covenant, nor promise of external ?blessings, on condition of external rites, and subjection. There was a spiritual society, with spiritual promises, on condition of faith in Christ." "The church is, therefore, in its essential nature, a company of believers, and not an external society, requiring merely external profession as the condition of membership.7" This is the true testimony. It must be so. It cannot be otherwise. The Jewish church which rejected, and cast out the Christian church, could not be substantially that very Christian church which it cast out, and rejected. The Jewish church into which its members were born by natural birth, could not be the same church with the Christian into which none can lawfully enter but such as are "born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."8 Was the church which contained the Scribes, and Pharisees, and Sadducees, the most open, determined, and malignant enemies of Christ, the same church with that into which none can enter, but those who love Christ with all their soul, and mind and strength?
The church of Israel, was the nation of Israel, and, as a whole, could no more be the church of Christ, in the New Testament sense of that phrase, than the American nation, can be called the church of Christ.
3. The covenants, thirdly, clearly teach us that all the peculiar purposes of God in relation to the Jewish nation, are now fully accomplished.
Their separate nationality was, as we have seen, secured, and perpetuated, as an essential part of those means by which the fulfilment was certified, of the "promise of God in Christ to Abraham." When Christ came, and the proof of his Messiah-ship was established, that end was gained perfectly. They, in the providence of God, were soon afterwards dispersed, and have never since enjoyed a national being. And why should they? What is to be gained by it? Yet it is believed by them, and the opinion prevails very generally among Christians, that they will at some future day, be restored to Canaan, and there yet become a great nation. Are the Jews really to be restored as a nation, to Canaan? If they are restored, by what laws will they there be governed? By those of the old covenant? They are all fulfilled, and superseded. As the laws of God, they no longer exist. Sacrifices, oblations, priesthood, circumcision, are not now even when practised by Jews, obedience to God. Will they be governed by the new covenant. Then they will be Christians, and why should they be separated from other Christians of different races? But do not the prophecies declare that they will be restored? Let us examine them. Among the passages which are considered most conclusive on this subject, are such as these:- "Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen whither they have gone, and gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land. And I will make them one nation in the land, upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall reign over them all; and they shall no more be two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all; neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions. But I will save them out of all their dwelling places, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them. So shall they be my people; and I will be their God; and David my servant, shall be king over them; and they shall all have one Shepherd; and they shall walk in my judgments, and obey my statues, and do them. And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children?s children forever; and my servant David shall be their prince forever. Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; and I will place them, and multiply them; and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them forever more."9
The nation, and kingdom, that will not serve thee, shall perish; yea, they shall be utterly wasted. "Thy people shall be all righteous; they shall inherit the land forever."10 If these, and similar passage, guaranty the restoration of Judah and Israel to the land of Canaan, literally as a nation, they must of course be interpreted literally. But is such an interpretation reasonable? Will legitimate Biblical criticism tolerate it? Where are the ten tribes of Israel? They do not exist upon the earth. How then can they return literally? Will the restored twelve tribes in their land, where they are to increase, and multiply, be all righteous? If so, they will be what no nation ever has been. Will all other nations be either tributary to them, or refusing such subjection, be utterly destroyed? Is David to rise from the dead, and to reign over united Judah, and Israel, forever? Is this earthly state to continue without end? And that covenant of peace, and that sanctuary, or temple, which they are to enjoy forever, what are they? Something different from the gospel, and its blessings? Will all this occur literally? To believe it is wholly out of the question, not only because it is unreasonable, but also because it directly contradicts many of the most important teachings of the New Testament. How then is it to be interpreted? Plainly, like all other similar portions of the old testament, according to its figurative sense. Having seen thus much, the meaning is at once obvious. All these texts, under the gorgeous figures which enshroud them, of the return to Canaan of all Israel, their prosperity, and their triumphs, predict simply, their ultimate conversion to christianity, their union with the people of God, that Messiah, (the spiritual David, unto whom all nations shall be subdued,) shall reign over them, and that purged from their sins by his blood, they shall rejoice in the covenant of peace, (the gospel of Christ,) and in their king Messiah, and in their glorious sanctuary, (the church of the Redeemer,) forever more.
Thus have we seen that there is no reason for the further separate nationality of the Jews, and no scripture in support of the opinion that they will ever be restored literally to Canaan. And, besides, the gospel has long ago, "broken down the middle wall of partition" between the Jews, and the Gentiles. Henceforth "they are one fold," and have but "one Shepherd." "God is no respecter of persons." In his sight there are no distinctions among men; "neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond, nor free."11 The rejection of Christ?s doctrine by the Jews, led to the persecution, and dispersion of the disciples, and thus became "the riches of the world." What now shall be their conversion, "but life from the dead?"12 When "the fullness of the Gentiles shall have come in;" that is, when Christians of all nations, shall become Christians indeed; shall act towards Israelites as they do towards other men ; their prejudices will cease, they too will be converted, and make up their part of the fullness of the riches of Christ. The Jews were the "true olive tree," of which Christ is the root and fatness. When they rejected him, they as branches, were broken off, and the Gentiles, branches of the wild olive, were grafted in; or took their place in relation to Christ. But when their unbelief shall cease, they shall be restored to the favor of God, as humble followers of him "who died for all, that those who live, should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him who died for them, and rose again."
4. From these covenants, together with the history of Israel, and instructions of the prophets, you learn, fourthly, that the gospel church was not visible until the coming of Christ.
Men eminently pious; deeply
imbued with the spirit of true religion, existed in every age; not among the
Jews only, but also among the Gentiles. They were all believers in the Messiah
promised as yet to come. But they were not visibly organized as the kingdom, or
church of the Redeemer. The gospel covenant, which was their guide, and support,
has existed, as we have seen, from "before the foundation of the
world." It is, therefore, really the oldest of all the covenants. It is
consequently, called the new covenant, not in respect of the date of its origin,
but of the period of its visible administration, which did not commence until
after the old covenant had served its purposes, was fulfilled, and had passed
away. For all that concerned holiness, and salvation, it was, nevertheless,
fully as effective immediately after the fall, as it is at this hour. Christ
Jesus was "A Lamb slain from the foundation of the world."13
All who in any age have been saved, have obtained their deliverance through
faith in him. Up, however, to the time of his personal appearing upon earth,
there was no formal outward organization. The only external
administration was legal, and typical. To any one who will maturely examine the
subject, these facts must be apparent. Readily may you trace the approach of the
church to the period of? its visibility. Previous to the advent, the covenant,
and kingdom of Christ, are ever spoken of, as being in the future. By Ezekiel
Jehovah said, "I will establish unto you an everlasting
covenant."14 And, in another place, "I will bring you
into the bonds of the covenant."15 By Daniel he said, "In
the days of these kings [the Roman Emperors] will the God of heaven set up a
kingdom, which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to
other people; but it shall break in pieces, and consume all these kingdoms; and
it shall stand forever"16 Thus did all the prophets speak of the
church, up to that moment when the Old Testament dispensation was closed. The
kingdom was not yet formally inaugurated. You open the new Testament, and what
do you there find? John the Baptist comes, "preaching in the wilderness of
Judea, and saying, Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."17
"Messiah the prince" appears. He is recognized in his baptism, as the
"Son of God."18 Having entered upon his ministry, he
proclaims of the kingdom, "It is nigh thee, even at the
doors;" at this moment, "the kingdom of God is within you."19
To which an apostle adds, "Now is come the kingdom of our God." 20
It may be instructive to mark the precise point of time at which the church of Christ became a visible organization. To do this we must ascertain what it is exactly, which places the church in this visible state. It is as you will at once see, upon reflection, not spirituality, nor orthodoxy, nor both these together, but external form. Without spirituality, and orthodoxy, there can certainly be no true church. They are essential to its very existence. Yet these alone, do not constitute its visibility, since in that case it would have been visible long before the days of Abraham. And there are many men eminently pious, in the present day, who whatever may be their devotion to God, are not literally connected with the visible church; which could not be the case if spiritual qualities only, were necessary to that union. What more is required then, to make these good men members of the church? They must, I answer, be baptised, and receive the Lord?s supper. These ordinances, therefore, mark the line of separation between the church and the world. In the truth of this statement, we have, happily, the concurrence of every denomination of Christians. They all teach that those who are baptised, and received at the Lord?s table, are thus united with the church, and that those who are not so baptised, and received, whatever may be their piety, or excellence in other respect; are out of the visible church. These ordinances, doubtless, do not draw the line of distinction between the church and the world, exactly where God will place it at the last day, because they are administered by fallible men, who are liable to mistake the claims of those who receive them. Many, we have reason to fear, are in the visible church, who will not, at the last day, be found on the right hand of the Judge; and many are probably, not in the visible church, who will have a place then in the church triumphant. It is, nevertheless, true, that the ordinance, usually called sacraments, mark the established boundaries between the world and the visible church.
These principles are settled. Let them now be applied. John the Baptist began to draw the line of separation, by the administration of baptism to the repenting Israelites, thus making "ready a people prepared for the Lord." The disciples by their baptisms, made it still more distinct. Now the visibility began dimly to appear, as in the distant horizon, the faint outline of a towering mountain. Christ himself finished it when in an upper room, the same night in which he was betrayed, he instituted, and administered the sacred supper. At that hour the separation was complete, the kingdom set up, and the church arose visible and bright, like the morning sun, shining without a aloud. The next day he died for his people, upon the cross; he was buried; he rose again; he "ascended up on high, leading captivity captive, that he might give gifts unto men." Thenceforward when disciples were united with his followers, it is said of them, "The Lord added to the church daily, the saved."21 The exact point of time, therefore, at which the church of Christ became visible, was on the night of his betrayal, and at this moment of the conclusion of the sacred supper. From that moment it was the visible church of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
5. From the covenants now before you, is derived, fifthly, rich information regarding the scriptural qualifications for membership in the visible church of the Redeemer.
Dr. Hodge, in the article already noticed,22 justly say; that "In no part of the New Testament is any condition of membership prescribed, other than that contained in the answer of Philip to the Eunuch who desired baptism, ?If thou believest with all thy heart, thou mayest.? Nor in the Old Testament is there any other condition prescribed." Only believers in Jesus Christ are entitled to the distinction. Unhappily, however, this fact does not command universal concurrence, and these covenants are appealed to, as proof that infants, as well as believers, are to be baptised, and received into the church! And do they really furnish the authority claimed? It is assumed that "the covenant of promise to Abraham, of God in Christ," for him, and his seed, is equally, and in all ages, literally a covenant with every other believer, for him, and his seed! But can this proposition be true? If God fulfils the covenant with Abraham, and his seed, to every other believer, and his seed, he does so, of course, in accordance with the terms of the covenant. Now turn back to that covenant, if you please, and examine it closely, that you may see what its promises are, and ascertain how, in the first place, they are to be fulfilled to every other believer, as well as to Abraham. These promises were, that God would make of Abraham a great nation; that kings should descend from him; that he, and his posterity, should possess the whole land of Canaan; that he would bless him, and make him a blessing; and that he should be the father of Messiah. These are its promises. And you are told by grave and learned men, that these are equally promises to every other believer! And are you expected to believe a proposition so preposterous? That there are multitudes who do credit it, is to me wholly unaccountable, except upon the supposition that they have never examined the subject.
And now, in the second place, determine if you can, how these promises apply to the literal seed of believers. The connection with this covenant, claimed for them, on the ground that they are the children of believers, is not less preposterous than that advocated for their parents. It assumes that the covenant established a spiritual relation between Abraham, and his infant offspring; and that it establishes now, the same relation between every believer and his infant offspring! Need I say that this whole category is a mistake, from beginning to end? It is certain that no spiritual relation not before existing, was established by this covenant, between Abraham and his infant seed. He was made the father, not of all the redeemed, as some have imagined, but "of all them that believe," of whatever nation. Infants are redeemed; but infants do not believe. To his own descendants he was "the father of circumcision." He was the spiritual father, so far as we know, of no one, assuredly not of his own infant seed, unless the absurdity can be admitted that spiritual qualities (that is, that religion) may be propagated by natural generation. The covenant therefore established no new spiritual relations between even Abraham and his infant seed. Much less does it establish now, any such relations between believers and their infant seed. "The blessing of Abraham has indeed, come upon the Gentiles," but in no such acceptations as these. That blessing consists not in creating any spiritual relations between believers and their infant offspring, but for themselves, in having their faith counted to them for righteousness, as Abraham?s faith was counted to him for righteousness. As to their children, if they die in infancy, they are, and ever have been, and ever will be saved, by the merits and righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ, independently of parentage, or ordinances, of any character whatever. If they grow up to maturity, they are blessed in being taught by Christian parents the way of life and salvation through Jesus Christ. The covenant with Abraham, for him, and his seed, is not therefore, equally a covenant with every other believer, for him, and his seed. To presume consequently, that the infant seed of believers, because they are such, are entitled without repentance, and faith, to the ordinances of the gospel, and to membership in the visible church, is a derogation of the covenants, a violation of the analogy of the Old and New Testaments, in opposition to the word of God, and destructive to all the best interests of religion.
What then, is the true teaching of the covenants on this subject? It is most plain and obvious. In the Jewish, or typical church, all was external, and earthly. The church itself was national and confined in its membership to the Hebrews. Literal descent from Abraham, with circumcision, conferred a full right to all its privileges. Its services were symbols. Nor did its worship necessarily demand any spiritual qualifications. The Christian Church, the reality, is internal and spiritual. It is not national, but individual, and extends its blessings to all men, irrespective of races. The spiritual seed of Abraham (believers) who have the spiritual circumcision (the regeneration of the soul) are alone entitled to its privileges. Its worship demands the homage of the heart; for "God is a Spirit, and they that worship him, must worship him in spirit and in truth."23 This is the true and only scriptural analogy between the Jewish Church and the Christian Church. The covenants therefore, prove conclusively, that repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, are essential qualifications for membership in the Church of the Redeemer.
6. These covenants teach you, sixthly, that the entire series of "signs and seals of grace," which our brethren have engrafted upon them, is not only wholly imaginary, but also highly pernicious.
And what are these "signs and seals," which you have been so often told, are invariable appendages of the covenants? Dr. Dick says: "A seal has been defined to he the visible sign of an invisible grace; and may be more generally described as an institution of which it is the design to signify the blessings promised in the covenant, and to give an assurance of them to those by whom its terms are fulfilled."24 Our brethren proceed accordingly, to find seals of some sort, for all the covenants, which they do not fail to account as so many "signs of invisible grace!" Of the law, or "covenant of works," under which man was originally created, they affirm that "The tree of life" was the seal. But in this conclusion all are not agreed, some insisting that "The tree of the knowledge of good and evil" was the seal; others that it was" Paradise;" and still others that it was "the Sabbath day."25 The learned Witsius however, takes bold ground, and assumes that all these four things were legitimately, so many seals of the covenant.26 For the sign and seal of the covenant with Noah, they point you to the rainbow; and for the sign and seal of " the covenant confirmed of God in Christ," to Abraham, they refer you to circumcision. Under the New Testament, baptism and the Lord?s supper, they teach you are the seals which signify, and the signs of the blessings, promised in the gospel covenant!
It must, I think, be plain to you, that no such "institution" as this appears in the word of God. What! A mere ordinance, administered by men, and having the effect "to give assurance to those who receive it," that they shall be recipients of all the blessings promised in the gospel covenant! Can this be reconciled with the teachings of evangelical religion? Never. It attributes to baptism and to the Lord?s supper, vastly more of efficacy than ever was assigned them by the great author of our salvation. But as to the alleged "institution" itself; where were "the signs and seals" of the covenant of Eden, in which we have the original announcement of a Deliverer from sin? There were none. Where were the "signs and seals" of "the covenant confirmed of God in Christ" to Abraham, and which has been called "the covenant of grace?" There were none. To find them our brethren are obliged to resort to quite another covenant?the covenant of circumcision?a license not allowable in Biblical interpretation. Where were "the signs and seals" of the covenant which gave to Abraham the land of Canaan, and made him a separate nation? Where the "signs and seals" of the covenant of Sinai? No such "institutions," appear. The rainbow was no seal, or "visible sign of an invisible grace," to Noah, or to any one else. It was simply a token" pledging God, according to his promise, not again to destroy the world by a flood of waters. Nor was circumcision itself, of which our brethren have made so much, either a sign, or a seal, in the popular theological sense, of any thing, to any one, beyond Abraham himself. "He received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had, yet being uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised."27 This is Paul?s exposition of the subject. If he is right, then circumcision was to Abraham himself, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had before his circumcision. But it was no seal, or "visible sign of invisible grace,? to any one else, even among the Hebrews, either in his day, or afterwards. Thus baseless, not to say mischievous, is this whole doctrine of "signs and seals of the covenants," in its application even to circumcision. How much more baseless is it, and mischievous, when it is made to refer to baptism and the Lord?s supper! These ordinances are to their recipients, signs and seals of nothing whatever. They bear glorious testimony that "Christ died for our sins" according to the scriptures; and that he was buried; and that he rose again from the dead, the third day, according to the scriptures." 28 But they are no "institution of which it is the design to signify the blessings promised in the [gospel] covenant, and to give an assurance of them, to those by whom its terms are fulfilled"29 The whole doctrine "of signs and seal" is utterly destitute of authority; and all its teachings manifestly in conflict with evangelical christianity; since they attribute to these ordinances, results which belong exclusively to the work of the Holy Spirit.
7. All these covenants, both those which promised the coming of Messiah, and those which so carefully directed the circumstances in relation to his advent, point, in the last place, for their complete and final consummation, to the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
"As it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment; so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him, shall he appear the second time, without sin, unto salvation."30 The mediatorial work, to which he was assigned, by the covenant of redemption, will one day be finished. He will at last have "made up his jewels." Then will he "deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father;? having" put down all rule, and all authority, and power; for he must reign till be hath put all enemies under his feet."31 He himself said:- Hereafter shall ye "see the son of man coming in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory."32 His apostles take up this declaration, and repeat it; assuring us that at his second coming, "he shall descend from heaven with a. shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God, and [that] the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we be ever with the Lord."33 How great is that grace which by his first coming, you have already received! And how unspeakable will be "the glory which will be revealed in you," when he shall come again! Characteristic of the one advent it is said:- "The grace of God which bringeth salvation, hath appeared unto all men, teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously and godly, in this present world." By the other, we are authorised to look "for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God, and our Saviour, Jesus Christ,"34 "who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself."35 To what amazing events then, are we destined. They shall not however, occur until the gospel has achieved all its earthly triumphs. "The kingdoms of this world must" first ?"become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ." "Then cometh the end." Time ceases. Christ, and his people, are glorified together. Heaven is filled with everlasting rejoicing.
xi :33 2
XXXIX Articles, Art. IX. 3
ekklesia (Greek) 4
x : 9 5
Ps cx : 4. 6
vii : 11 - 19. 7
Review, October, 1853. 8
John i : 13. 9
xxxvii : 21-26 10
Isa. lx : 12 ? 21 11
Col iii : 11 12
Rom xi : 11-15 13
Rev xiii : 8 14
Ezek. xvi: 60 15
xx : 37 16
Dan ii : 44 17
Matt iii : 1 18
Matt.iii: 16,17 19
xvii : 21 20
Rev xii : 10 21
Acts ii: 47 ? ? O de Kyrios prosetithei tous sozomenous kath emeran te
Review, ut supra. 23
John iv: 24. 24
Theol. Vol. 1. p. 474: Is it not a little surprising that a Calvinist as was Dr.
Dick, should teach that doctrine? 25
Dick?s Theol. Vol. 2, p. 556. 26
Dr. Oecon. Fed. Lib. 1 cap. 6. 27
Rom iv : 10 ? 71 28
1 Cor xv : 3, 4 29
ut supra. 30
Heb. ix : 27, 28. 31
Cor xv : 24, 25. 32
xxxiv : 30, 31 31
Thess. Iv : 16, 17. 32
Tit. ii : 11 - 18. 33
Phil. iii : 21
The Reformed Reader Home Page
Copyright 1999, The Reformed Reader, All Rights Reserved