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The Covenants-Chapter 8a- The Old Covenant and the New Covenant

If this statement of the subject needs further confirmation, the evidence is abundant, and at hand. Of the law, and the gospel—the Old, and New covenants—Paul speaks in language which can hardly be misunderstood. He characterises them, not as one covenant, developing itself in different forms; nor as two of the covenants which marked the history of the divine government; but as “the two covenants” of God. Both were in their place supremely excellent, and perfectly adapted to secure the ends for which they were respectively designed. Both were made necessary, by the original violation of the covenant of works. Both were predicated upon the infinite grace of God. The one was the auxiliary of the other. But they were not both alike exalted. The gospel was unspeakably more glorious than the law, since this was the very soul of the plan of salvation, while that was a temporary institution only, “added because of transgression, till the seed [Christ] should come.” Such were their nature and reciprocal relations. They are by an apostle, held up before you in contrast. “If,” says Paul, “the ministration of death, [the old covenant; the law] written and engraven on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses, for the glory of his countenance, which glory was to be done away; how shall not the ministration of the Spirit [the new covenant; the gospel] be rather glorious? For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. For even that which was made glorious, had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. For if that which was done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.”

R. B. C. Howell- The Covenants

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The Covenants-Chapter 8- The Old Covenant and the New Covenant

The two classes of covenants, resolved into two covenants; their

nature, and contrast; old covenant fulfilled, and superseded by

the new; preparation of the Gentile world for Messiah’s coming;

nature and excellence of the gospel.

In addition to the covenant of works, which, as has been said, is peculiar in its character, and stands by itself, we have traced in the preceding chapters, two classes of covenants, of three each, and seen their nature, their purpose, their mutual relations, and their true interpretation. To all who study them attentively and intelligently, it must be apparent that they resolve themselves into substantially, two covenants; the one relating to Christ directly, and the other relating to him indirectly, being embodied in the circumstances which preceded his coming, and prepared the minds of men to receive him. You turn to the teachings of the evangelists and apostles, and your convictions on this subject are established and confirmed. Everywhere they speak of the one class (that which embraces all the covenants of the law) as the old covenant; and of the other class (that which includes all the covenants of the gospel) as the new covenant; and which to us are more familiarly known, as the Old Testament and the New Testament. The three covenants which composed the law, and which are therefore, one in effect, fixed the circumstances of which I have spoken, which preceded and prepared for the coming of Messiah. They grew naturally out of the promise to Abraham, that the Saviour should spring, according to the flesh, from his family. This promise of God in Christ to him, bore, consequently, the same relation to the covenants of the law, or the old covenant, that a constitution does to legislative enactments; the latter being designed to carry out in the best possible manner, the provisions of the former. With these facts before us, the reasons are obvious, why the whole dispensation of Moses is so often, and so appropriately denominated “the law;” not eminently the “moral law,” but especially that law which was contained in “ordinances,” and which the Saviour removed, “nailing it to his cross.” In like manner, the three covenants that comprise the gospel, and which, also, in substance, are one, form the new covenant in the blood of Christ ;” “the everlasting gospel;” older than the law, but not visibly administered until after the law had been perfectly fulfilled, and had consequently passed away. As previously determined, “All the prophets, and the law, prophecied until John “the Baptist.” “Since that time the kingdom of God [the gospel] is preached, and every man presseth into it.”

R. B. C. Howell- The Covenants

The Covenants-Chapter 7j-Philology of the Covenants

Thus we have seen as briefly as possible, the philology of the covenants, in the progress of our investigation of which, we have shown that while they must be understood in their plain literal sense, they have palpably also, a second and higher meaning, which to comprehend them truly, you must study, and understand; this meaning we have traced, explained, and illustrated, as contained in the promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and in the covenants of the law, all of which guarantied to Abraham, an innumerable seed, and perpetual possession and enjoyment of the land of Canaan; and we have seen how these promises were, and are yet to be fulfilled, in the conversion of all nations, in the happiness of men upon earth, in the resurrection of the body, and in the everlasting glory in heaven of all the sanctified; and we have also seen how the covenant as repeated to David, is consummated in Jesus Christ our Lord, “In whom we have redemption by his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.” Of him, and through him, are all things; to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”

R. B. C. Howell- The Covenants

The Covenants-Chapter 7i-Philology of the Covenants

The same philology, I will further at present, only remark, must also be applied in its interpretation to the covenant as repeated to David. To him God said, and the declaration was frequently repeated:- “Thy seed will I establish forever; and build up thy throne to all generations.” He did indeed literally establish David’s seed, but not forever; and literally built up David’s throne, but not to all generations. The terms of the covenant must be accomplished. In their literal import they have unquestionably failed. It remains only therefore, for us to expect them in their second and higher meaning. And they are accordingly, gloriously fulfilled in the person, and reign of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; “whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and whose dominion is forever and ever.” “David’s kingdom,” says the distinguished Robert Hall, “was renewed and improved into higher glories, in the person of Jesus Christ, the true, spiritual, substantial David; of whose kingdom (it cannot reasonably be doubted by any) that of David himself was a type. The empire of Christ was the sequel, and continuation of that which had originated in the son of Jesse; and hence the Saviour is so often styled The son of David.’ The angel at his nativity announced him as ‘He who should be great,’ who should sit upon the throne of his father David, and of whose kingdom there should be no end.” Already in a previous chapter, I have spoken of this covenant somewhat at length. I have referred to it here again, only to show that its promises are of such a nature that their perfect fulfillment is impracticable, except in their higher sense, and in which they bring prominently before us, the everlasting kingdom, and perpetual dominion of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

R. B. C. Howell- The Covenants

The Covenants-Chapter 7h-Philology of the Covenants

The covenants in their full import, further teach the future glory of the sanctified in Jesus Christ our Lord.

These all, are spiritually, “Abraham’s seed, and” therefore, “heirs according to the promise” in the covenants. Their immortality, and eternal life, are held forth, by both prophets and apostles, under the emblems of renovated heavens, and earth, the habitation of restored and beautified Jerusalem, and of the fertile and ornamented land of Canaan. “Behold,” said God, by the prophet, “I create a new heavens, and a new earth, and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.” “Be ye glad, and rejoice forever, in that which I create. For behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people. And the voice of weeping shall no more be heard in her, nor the voice of crying.” What shall we understand by all this? The new heavens, and earth, so excellent that the former are no more even remembered; and the new Jerusalem, in which God himself will rejoice with his people, and in which never more shall be any pain or sorrow? Isaiah speaks of them as if they were here upon earth. John the apostle, repeats the prophecy, and declares that it then, that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be, in all holy conversation, and godliness, looking for, and hastening unto the coming of the day of God?” “Nevertheless, we according to his promise, [in the prophets] look for new heavens, and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent, that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.

R. B. C. Howell- The Covenants

The Covenants-Chapter 7g-Philology of the Covenants

The children spiritually, of Abraham, are found alike, among both Jews and Gentiles, and to them all, are made the promises of the covenants; not to them and to their seed, as they were to Abraham; but to them as the seed of Abraham; nor to them literally, as to his natural descendants; but to them spiritually in their second, and higher meaning. The conversion of the Gentiles, gave to all the lovers of Christ, unbounded joy. The Jews have long resisted the grace of God, but the fullness of the time will ultimately come, and they too shall be converted. This great event is predicted by the prophets, under the figure of the restoration of Israel from a long captivity, to the scenes of their own native home. For example :- ” Awake, awake, put on thy strength, O [Messiah] Arm of the Lord.” “Art thou not it [He] that hath dried the sea; the waters of the great deep; that hath made the depths of the sea a way for the ransomed to pass over? Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head; they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.” And when thus converted, the delight that Israel will experience in Zion –not literal Zion, but the Church of the Redeemer – are depicted under the emblems of rebuilding and adorning their cities and enjoying the fruits of their own land. “They shall build,’ say the prophets, “their old wastes; they shall raise up the former desolation; and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolation of many generations.” “In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins; and I will build it, as in the days of old.” In other words, I will cause Israel to receive Christ, whom they have so long rejected. “And they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; and they shall make gardens, and eat the fruit of them.” Their joy as Christians shall be complete.

R. B. C. Howell- The Covenants

The Covenants-Chapter 7f-Philology of the Covenants

But when, and how, were the promises, according to this meaning, to be fulfilled? Not certainly, in this life, nor fully until after the resurrection of the body, since previous to that event their realization was evidently impossible.

But were the promises in the covenants understood, in the sense now suggested, by Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and David, and the other saints of literal Israel? Was this one meaning at least, in which they embraced, and believed them? With reference to these inquiries our Lord himself, reasoning with the Sadducees, who denied the existence of separate spirits, and also the resurrection of the body, amply instructs us. He said, “Now that the dead are raised, even Moses showed at the bush, when he called the Lord, The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; for he is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” The souls of these patriarchs were therefore, still living, though their bodies were dead; and the promises in the covenants taught them that their bodies would be raised from the dead, since in their higher spiritual import, they secured to them the enjoyment of the land of Canaan forever. If they were not to be raised from the dead to this end, how could the promises ever be fulfilled? And what was true of them, in these respects, was true of all others in similar circumstances. And further. That the Canaan in which they were to dwell after the resurrection, was to be not on earth, but in heaven, is plain from the preceding part of this same conversation of our Redeemer. He expressly calls the promised country, “that world,” in contrast with the literal country, which he calls ” this world:” – ” The children of this world [literal Canaan] marry, and are given in marriage. But they who shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world [spiritual Canaan] and the resurrection from the dead [to prepare them for it] neither marry, nor are given in marriage. Neither can they die any more, for they are equal to the angels, and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.” That the covenants therefore, in their higher meaning, taught the resurrection of the dead, and the glorious realities of heaven, no one can question, since such was their construction by our Lord Jesus Christ himself. And still further. Because they did not understand the covenants in this sense, Messiah directly charges the Sadducees with culpable ignorance;- “Ye do err,” said he, “not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.” Paul also gives us an exposition of these covenants, and in exact consonance with that which we have just seen, from our Lord Jesus Christ. In his defense before King Agrippa, he hesitated not to say, and in the presence of the Jewish chiefs :- ” I stand, and am judged, for the hope of the promise made unto our fathers, unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God, day and night, hope to come.” But to what promise made to the fathers, and which when Paul spoke, remained to the twelve tribes unfulfilled, did they hope to come? Paul himself thus explains:- “Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you [King Agrippa] that God should raise the dead?” And in another place, when before Felix, he said :- ” I confess unto thee, that after the way that they [the unbelieving Jews] call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things that are written in the law, and in the prophets, and have hope towards God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.” But where is the promise to the fathers, of the resurrection from the dead, written in the Law of Moses? It is written no where, unless it be in these covenants, nor even here, except in the sense in which they have now been explained. God will raise up from the dead, all the spiritual seed of Abraham, and give them for an everlasting possession, that Canaan above, of which the Canaan on earth was the appointed emblem.

R. B. C. Howell- The Covenants