Home > Covenant Theology > The Covenants-Chapter 2b-The Covenant of Works

The Covenants-Chapter 2b-The Covenant of Works

The covenant of works demanded as its conditions, perfect obedience.

Nor was this in any degree difficult. One test only was instituted, by which that obedience was to be formally expressed; abstinence from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. How simple, and easy, was the observance of the obligation! How appaling the consequences of its violation! Compliance however, as is true in regard to all the other laws of God, was not confined exclusively to external action. The state of the heart was of primary consideration. The covenant claimed to govern not the conduct alone, but also, then as now, the powers of the inner man. “God is a Spirit, and they that worship him, must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). “The whole heart must be in perfect submission, uninterrupted by a single insurgent feeling. A purity of character must be maintained, uncontaminated by a single spot. A zeal and devotion must be preserved, unrelaxing in a single purpose.”

The covenant of works was in its nature fitted, and designed to give, and did give uninterrupted happiness, as long as its requisitions were observed. This is true throughout the whole moral universe of God. I have before intimated that, man is not the only being under its government. It is the law of angels themselves. To their nature, no less than to man’s while in a state of holiness, it is perfectly adapted. Those of them who “have kept their first estate,” are conformed perfectly to all its demands. They meet, and satisfy them fully by love; fervent love to God, and to all their celestial associates. Heaven is pervaded consequently with the unbroken harmonies of love. And how unspeakably happy! 0, who can estimate the joy, deep, calm, overwhelming, that fills angelic bosoms I Nor was man originally, and during the whole period of his holiness, less happy. Who can adequately conceive of half his joys? Whence all this pure, this unmingled delight? It arose exclusively, as a perennial fountain, from the covenant of works. “The man,” said Paul, “that doeth these things, shall live by them” (Rom 10:5). His bliss is unfading. Happiness embraces every ultimate good. Perfect happiness, is perfect good. God intended man, and all his creatures, to be thus happy. To gain this end was the purpose of the covenant. To all the obedient it was, and ever must be, complete in its results.

R. B. C. Howell- The Covenants

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