Home > Covenant Theology > The Covenants-Chapter 9n- The Teachings of the Covenant

The Covenants-Chapter 9n- The Teachings of the 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.

R. B. C. Howell- The Covenants

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