The Puritans & CovenantsPosted: April 10, 2014
What were some varying views among reformed theologians regarding the distinction between the covenant of redemption and the covenant of grace?
Dutch theologian Herman Witsius stated that the covenant between the Father and the Son “is the foundation of the whole of our salvation.” David Dickson saw the covenant of redemption as the basis for the temporal covenant of grace. John Brown of Haddington saw this in a different light he sees a clear distinction between the two covenants. Edmund Calamy echoes Brown on this point. He suggested that the Father made the covenant of grace with Jesus Christ from all eternity. Calmay’s view is consistent with the Westminster documents, these documents maintain that the covenant of grace was not a mere afterthought of God in response to the fall but instead was made with Jesus Christ from all eternity, being a contract of God the Father with God the Son from all eternity as mediator for the salvation of the Elect.
Some reformed theologians then distinguished between the covenant of redemption and the covenant of grace, where others preferred to speak of covenant of grace as having an eternal and a temporal aspect.
Where did the concept of the eternal covenant between God the Father and God the Son originate in the eyes of Richard Muller?
Dr. Richard Muller believed that the idea of this eternal covenant may have originated in the writings of Cocceius, “but its roots are most probably found in the earlier Reformed meditation on the trinitarian nature of the divine decrees.” Muller sees hints of this concept in the writings of Luther. The early Reformer Johannes Oecolampadius(1482-1531), in his lectures about Isaiah speaks of a covenant between the Father and the Son. The concept can be located also in John Calvin and his successors. David Dickson however most likely introduced the terminology of the covenant of redemption.
What were some texts that Thomas Goodwin and Patrick Gillespie saw as proving Christ was appointed as prophet, priest and king?
Thomas Goodwin saw such passages as Deuteronomy 18:15, priest Hebrews 3:1-2, and king Psalm 2:6. Patrick Gillespie elaborates on Goodwin’s point adducing a series of texts to prove that Christ’s appointment by the Father represents an important aspect of what constitutes a covenant. One of the most common texts sited is 1 Peter 1:20, which speaks of Christ as for ordained before the foundation of the world. Some other texts such as Psalm 89:9, Isaiah 42:6, Hebrews 5:5 confirm that Christ was by an eternal act of God’s will called to this work, and that long before He came into the world.
What was some varying views among Reformed theologians on the role of the spirit in the covenant of redemption?
Samuel Rutherford points out some differences among Reformed theologians. He states that not all mutual intratrintarian agreements must be called covenants and so suggests that only the Son is ordained (1 Peter1:20), with His own consent, to be Mediator. Reformed orthodox trinitarianism necessitates the Spirit’s presence in the Father-Son agreement. Scottish theologian James Durham notes that “All three persons give the command, and concur as the infinitely wise orders of the decree.” He argues then for the Spirit’s role as a contracting partner.
How did Thomas Goodwin describe the threefold distinction of God’s immanent, transient, and applicatory acts?
First, Thomas Goodwin describes these acts as follows.
- One, Immanent in God toward us, as His eternal love set and past upon us, out of which He chose us, and designed this and all blessings to us.
- Two, transient, in Christ done for us; in all He did or suffered representing us, and in our stead.
- Three, applicatory, wrought in us, and upon us, in endowing us with all those blessings by the Spirit, as calling, justification, sanctification, and glorification.