History of Mosaic covenant

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1689er

Puritan Board Freshman
The biggest difference between 1689 and Westminster Federalism apart from baptism is the nature of the Mosaic covenant. I was wondering what the church fathers and medieval theologians have to say about the matter.
 
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brandonadams

Puritan Board Freshman
Harrison, prior to the Reformation there was a strong tradition in agreement with 1689 Federalism on:

1) The nature of the Mosaic covenant (typological covenant of works for temporal life and blessing in Canaan)
2) The "retroactive" nature of the New Covenant such that OT saints were saved by the New Covenant

Here are some resources that elaborate.
 

Charles Johnson

Puritan Board Sophomore
Harrison, prior to the Reformation there was a strong tradition in agreement with 1689 Federalism on:

1) The nature of the Mosaic covenant (typological covenant of works for temporal life and blessing in Canaan)
2) The "retroactive" nature of the New Covenant such that OT saints were saved by the New Covenant

Here are some resources that elaborate.
I find this quite surprising given that the doctrine of the Covenant of Works came of age in the 1580's, and that there were no covenant theologians before the reformation.
 

brandonadams

Puritan Board Freshman
Charles, I encourage you to study the issue more closely. See Ligon Duncan's dissertation, for instance.
 

arapahoepark

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
There is this rather brief primer that may be of help.
Irenaeus is a person to look into as well.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
It was my study of this topic that caused me to become Reformed and leave my 30 year Reformed Baptist beliefs.


There are plenty of references on my blog by the Early Reformers on the topic also.
 

Jeri Tanner

Administrator
Staff member
It was my study of this topic that caused me to become Reformed and leave my 30 year Reformed Baptist beliefs.


There are plenty of references on my blog by the Early Reformers on the topic also.
A lot of your links are dead in your article because of updates and changes made by Rich as he’s worked on the PB site.
It would take a bit of time and effort, but would be so worth it if you could reestablish some of them. Those threads are gems! So helpful.
 

brandonadams

Puritan Board Freshman
It was my study of this topic that caused me to become Reformed and leave my 30 year Reformed Baptist beliefs.
Since the OP is specifically asking about the early church and medieval view of the matter, you may want to clarify that it was your study of the nature of the Mosaic Covenant that caused you to change, not your study of the early and medieval church.
 

Charles Johnson

Puritan Board Sophomore
Charles, I encourage you to study the issue more closely. See Ligon Duncan's dissertation, for instance.
I would encourage you to do the same. In particular, to study the works of the fathers in their original languages, and to seek to understand what the fathers intended to communicate therein, rather than reading them with the primary purpose of finding support for 1689 baptist theology. That the fathers don't support baptist theology should be plain enough from their baptizing of infants.
 

brandonadams

Puritan Board Freshman
The Covenant of Works is not uniquely baptist. I mentioned Ligon Duncan above, Trent linked to R. Scott Clark. You can add Andrew Woolsey's dissertation "Unity and continuity in covenantal thought."

That the fathers don't support baptist theology should be plain enough from their baptizing of infants.
It seems you don't understand what this thread or my comments are about, as I never commented on the issue of baptism.

If you have a specific objection to the citations in the above links, I would love to discuss. If not, you're really not adding anything of value to this discussion.
 

Charles Johnson

Puritan Board Sophomore
The Covenant of Works is not uniquely baptist. I mentioned Ligon Duncan above, Trent linked to R. Scott Clark. You can add Andrew Woolsey's dissertation "Unity and continuity in covenantal thought."


It seems you don't understand what this thread or my comments are about, as I never commented on the issue of baptism.

If you have a specific objection to the citations in the above links, I would love to discuss. If not, you're really not adding anything of value to this discussion.
Brandon, you tell me to study the matter more, but if I say you should do the same, I'm "not contributing to the discussion"?
 

SeanPatrickCornell

Puritan Board Sophomore
Brandon, you tell me to study the matter more, but if I say you should do the same, I'm "not contributing to the discussion"?

As an outside observer to this conversation, his recommendation that you study the topic more seemed to be very much on topic to the discussion at hand, while you seem to be talking about things that don't have much to do with the topic of the thread.

In short, you seem like you NEED to study the topic more. Brandon seems to have a good grasp on the topic.
 

brandonadams

Puritan Board Freshman
Brandon, you tell me to study the matter more, but if I say you should do the same, I'm "not contributing to the discussion"?

Yes, that is correct. I have provided specific resources (from paedobaptists as well as myself) that demonstrate that the Covenant of Works as well as "covenant theology" broadly speaking, existed prior to 1580. Your claim has simply been to erroneously dismiss my claims because I am a baptist and to broadly claim that neither the CoW nor "covenant theology" existed before the reformation. In order to contribute to the discussion, you should be more precise, with citation, for why the above claims are incorrect.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Since the OP is specifically asking about the early church and medieval view of the matter, you may want to clarify that it was your study of the nature of the Mosaic Covenant that caused you to change, not your study of the early and medieval church.
Ah, You are correct Brandon. Thanks for catching that. I was glancing and reading a bit too quickly brother. Covenant Theology concerning the Mosaic Covenant did have transition over the past few millennia. Grace was viewed differently also. Our Modern Church does not understand the distinctions and various definitions concerning grace as it has historically been known. Grace is unmerited but Xaris doesn't necessarily mean unmerited favor. Sometimes it is the influence and power to do as God or the god's are pleased with. Benevolence is not always understood in relationship with grace. After all Xaris was a common word in the Greek language that we have given an overt Christian understanding in our day. The same goes for the word justified which is a common word we have also narrowed the definition down because of theology. History, Language, and Theology are so important for us to understand these things. I thank God for the various Profs and reading material I have had at my disposal to help this poor layman grow in grace and truth.

Be Encouraged.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
A lot of your links are dead in your article because of updates and changes made by Rich as he’s worked on the PB site.
It would take a bit of time and effort, but would be so worth it if you could reestablish some of them. Those threads are gems! So helpful.
Thanks Jeri, I noticed that concerning another blog post where I reference Dr. Robert Scott Clark and the Puritanboard. You all know how I esteem him as a historian and theologian. lol. At one time he would have made a better Baptist or Lutheran in my estimation. Not sure where he lands now. I have a lot of blogs to fix evidently. I am back to health and able to work more now. They fixed my heart valve and got my heart meds regulated. Still on barrowed time. They just keep changing that prognosis ahead as they have for the past 22 to 17 years. I was told 5 more last fall. LOL. I am gonna keep on trucking till I am called home. That may be tomorrow.
 

Charles Johnson

Puritan Board Sophomore
Yes, that is correct. I have provided specific resources (from paedobaptists as well as myself) that demonstrate that the Covenant of Works as well as "covenant theology" broadly speaking, existed prior to 1580. Your claim has simply been to erroneously dismiss my claims because I am a baptist and to broadly claim that neither the CoW nor "covenant theology" existed before the reformation. In order to contribute to the discussion, you should be more precise, with citation, for why the above claims are incorrect.
What do you want me to cite to show that the Covenant of Works developed as a doctrine in the 1580's, and did not exist prior? It's not like I can cite a primary source for something that didn't exist. As the logicians say, it's impossible to prove a universal negative. I could cite someone else saying the same thing, but you'd still have to go off of their word. I will offer you this though: if you can find the words "covenant of works" in any work before 1585, or "covenant of grace" before 1529, I'll eat my shirt.
 

Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
You are not likely to find “covenant of works” like that. You have to look for the idea, for the doctrine. Not the name. It’s like asking a theologian in the in the early 100’s AD, prove the Trinity by showing the word “Trinity” in some historical work. It ain’t gonna happen. But the doctrine is there.
 

Charles Johnson

Puritan Board Sophomore
You are not likely to find “covenant of works” like that. You have to look for the idea, for the doctrine. Not the name. It’s like asking a theologian in the in the early 100’s AD, prove the Trinity by showing the word “Trinity” in some historical work. It ain’t gonna happen. But the doctrine is there.
Sure, except the concept of the covenant of works didn't exist. And many of the historical things Brandon is making connections to in his articles aren't even covenants broadly speaking. In one article he references Aquinas's theology of Old Law and New Law. Aquinas did not theologize in a covenant framework in any respect. If that's covenant theology, the pope is a covenant theologian. In another article he references Augustine as a forerunner of 1689 theology. But I looked up the Latin for the passage in question, and Augustine uses the word "testament" - "covenant" is only an artifact of Schaff's translation. Nor did Augustine organize his thought in a covenant manner. One has to ask, if all of these figures agree as much with 1689 theology as Brandon claims, why were none of them credobaptist, and none of their disciples credobaptist?
 

Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
As to testament, even the Westminster divines use testament and testament if you did not know this is part of covenant theology. Think of last will and testament, it’s a contract it’s a Covenant.
 

Romans830

Puritan Board Freshman
You are not likely to find “covenant of works” like that. You have to look for the idea, for the doctrine. Not the name. It’s like asking a theologian in the in the early 100’s AD, prove the Trinity by showing the word “Trinity” in some historical work. It ain’t gonna happen. But the doctrine is there.
 

SeanPatrickCornell

Puritan Board Sophomore
One has to ask, if all of these figures agree as much with 1689 theology as Brandon claims, why were none of them credobaptist, and none of their disciples credobaptist?

We might as well ask, "if none of them held to covenant theology, why did they baptize infants?"

The answer to that question reveals more than you'd probably be happy with though, because then we'd have to ask, "why don't you baptize infants for the same reason?"

In any case, the short and dirty answer to the question you pose is, "because they baptized infants for totally different reasons than you do".
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
No sensible person argues that you can find a full-blown articulation of the doctrine of the covenants as set forth in either the Westminster Standards or 1689 federalism in the patristics. That is not the argument they are making. Those who appeal to the church fathers in support of certain aspects of their "covenant theology" are only saying that elements of what they believe were seminally present in earlier writings. Whether or not such claims are accurate is, of course, debatable.
 

brandonadams

Puritan Board Freshman
Charles, you seem to be the only one not really understanding what is being asked and discussed.

if you can find the words "covenant of works" in any work before 1585, or "covenant of grace" before 1529, I'll eat my shirt.
If that is how you do theology, I think it explains why you're not tracking with what is being said.

But I looked up the Latin for the passage in question, and Augustine uses the word "testament" - "covenant" is only an artifact of Schaff's translation
See previous comment. You seem to be struggling with the word-concept fallacy. With regards to Augustine, what exactly do you think he means by testament in those quotes? I'm all ears. Note what Woolsey says
For Augustine pactum and testamentum were used interchangeably[.]
And note Augustine on different meanings of "testament" and what he means by it:
A Work on the Proceedings of Pelagius.
Chapter 14.—Examination of This Point. The Phrase “Old Testament” Used in Two Senses. The Heir of the Old Testament. In the Old Testament There Were Heirs of the New Testament.


Was it therefore without reason that our brethren were moved by his words to include this charge among the others against him? Certainly not. The fact is, that the phrase Old Testament is constantly employed in two different ways,—in one, following the authority of the Holy Scriptures; in the other, following the most common custom of speech. For the Apostle Paul says, in his Epistle to the Galatians: “Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bond-maid, the other by a free woman. . . .Which things are an allegory: for these are the two testaments; the one which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. For this is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and is conjoined with the Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children; whereas the Jerusalem which is above is free, and is the mother of us all.” (Gal 4:21-26) Now, inasmuch as the Old Testament belongs to bondage, whence it is written, “Cast out the bond-woman and her son, for the son of the bond-woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac,” (Gal 4:30) but the kingdom of heaven to liberty; what has the kingdom of heaven to do with the Old Testament? Since, however, as I have already remarked, we are accustomed, in our ordinary use of words, to designate all those Scriptures of the law and the prophets which were given previous to the Lord’s incarnation, and are embraced together by canonical authority, under the name and title of the Old Testament, what man who is ever so moderately informed in ecclesiastical lore can be ignorant that the kingdom of heaven could be quite as well promised in those early Scriptures as even the New Testament itself, to which the kingdom of heaven belongs? At all events, in those ancient Scriptures it is most distinctly written: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will consummate a new testament with the house of Israel and with the house of Jacob; not according to the testament that I made with their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand, to lead them out of the land of Egypt.” (Jer 31:31, 32) This was done on Mount Sinai. But then there had not yet risen the prophet Daniel to say: “The saints shall receive the kingdom of the Most High.” (Dan 7:18) For by these words he foretold the merit not of the Old, but of the New Testament. In the same manner did the same prophets foretell that Christ Himself would come, in whose blood the New Testament was consecrated. Of this Testament also the apostles became the ministers, as the most blessed Paul declares: “He hath made us able ministers of the New Testament; not in its letter, but in spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” (2 Cor 3:6) In that testament, however, which is properly called the Old, and was given on Mount Sinai, only earthly happiness is expressly promised. Accordingly that land, into which the nation, after being led through the wilderness, was conducted, is called the land of promise, wherein peace and royal power, and the gaining of victories over enemies, and an abundance of children and of fruits of the ground, and gifts of a similar kind are the promises of the Old Testament. And these, indeed, are figures of the spiritual blessings which appertain to the New Testament; but yet the man who lives under God’s law with those earthly blessings for his sanction, is precisely the heir of the Old Testament, for just such rewards are promised and given to him, according to the terms of the Old Testament, as are the objects of his desire according to the condition of the old man. But whatever blessings are there figuratively set forth as appertaining to the New Testament require the new man to give them effect. And no doubt the great apostle understood perfectly well what he was saying, when he described the two testaments as capable of the allegorical distinction of the bond-woman and the free,—attributing the children of the flesh to the Old, and to the New the children of the promise: “They,” says he, “which are the children of the flesh, are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.” (Rom 9:8) The children of the flesh, then, belong to the earthly Jerusalem, which is in bondage with her children; whereas the children of the promise belong to the Jerusalem above, the free, the mother of us all, eternal in the heavens. (Gal 4:25, 26) Whence we can easily see who they are that appertain to the earthly, and who to the heavenly kingdom. But then the happy persons, who even in that early age were by the grace of God taught to understand the distinction now set forth, were thereby made the children of promise, and were accounted in the secret purpose of God as heirs of the New Testament; although they continued with perfect fitness to administer the Old Testament to the ancient people of God, because it was divinely appropriated to that people in God’s distribution of the times and seasons.

Nor did Augustine organize his thought in a covenant manner.
I'm not really sure what you mean by that or how you see it as relevant to addressing how Augustine viewed the nature of the Old Covenant.
One has to ask, if all of these figures agree as much with 1689 theology as Brandon claims, why were none of them credobaptist, and none of their disciples credobaptist?
As Sean said, because they justified infant baptism on a different basis than the reformers.
 

Charles Johnson

Puritan Board Sophomore
Charles, you seem to be the only one not really understanding what is being asked and discussed.
What was asked is how the fathers viewed the Mosaic Covenant. Would you really say that all of your posts have addressed that topic directly? I understand what was asked. I'm addressing your unproven and anachronistic readings of the fathers.
If that is how you do theology, I think it explains why you're not tracking with what is being said.
This is exquisitely condescending. I phrased my statement the way I did so as not to complicate the issue too much, because it is in fact the case that covenant theologians tend to use the word "covenant". But feel free to take mutually agreed upon criteria for what constitutes a covenant and covenant theology and if you find it before those dates I'll still eat my shirt. I'm not tracking with what's being said because what's being said is patently absurd. Augustine and Aquinas were not 1689 covenant theologians, nor covenant theologians. If you disagree, you should begin by defining covenant theology in a way that is sufficiently narrow to be useful, and then show that they meet that definition. I strongly suspect that whatever running definition you're using could also be applied in full vigor to Pope Francis, the Greek Patriarch, and your neighborhood freewill baptist.
See previous comment. You seem to be struggling with the word-concept fallacy. With regards to Augustine, what exactly do you think he means by testament in those quotes? I'm all ears. Note what Woolsey says
Every Christian in the world calls the New Testament a "Testament". I think he was referring to the New Testament dispensation. I understand that someone can have a concept without using a particular word. But you have not demonstrated that Augustine had what we refer to as a covenant in mind. I have shown that the word was not there, and you have failed to show that the concept was indeed present. If you would like to explain what criteria you used to arrive at this conclusion, since it apparently was not reading Augustine with a lexicon, it's my turn to be all ears.

And note Augustine on different meanings of "testament" and what he means by it:
From your own citation, "we are accustomed, in our ordinary use of words, to designate all those Scriptures of the law and the prophets which were given previous to the Lord’s incarnation, and are embraced together by canonical authority, under the name and title of the Old Testament."
Nothing about this indicates that Augustine's thought was covenantal. These words would not be out of place in the mouth of a Roman Catholic or Lutheran, and I hope we can agree they are not covenant theologians and do not do covenant theology.

I'm not really sure what you mean by that or how you see it as relevant to addressing how Augustine viewed the nature of the Old Covenant.
You don't know what it means to systematize one's theology along the lines of covenant? To say it in other words, the difference between a dogmatic or federal theologian? In your own words, "If that is how you do theology, it explains why you're not tracking with what is being said."

As Sean said, because they justified infant baptism on a different basis than the reformers.
I seem to recall Augustine comparing circumcision and baptism, and the reformers doing the same.

Here is what I think of when I hear the words Covenant Theology, Brandon. I realize these may not all apply to Baptist "Covenant Theology":
- Believing that all the benefits of Christ are received by those in covenant with him
- Believing that one covenants with Christ by faith alone
- Believing that a covenant has external signs, known as sacraments, which sign and seal it
- Believing that the covenant has inalienable conditions, usually faith and repentance
- Believing that God's covenant faithfulness means that all the saints will indeed persevere to the end of their lives.
- Believing that the Church is first and foremost God's Covenant community
- Believing that the Covenant has both internal and external membership, and that not all who partake of the sacraments of the church are internal members.
Augustine and Aquinas agree with almost none of those points. So I ask again, in what meaningful sense are they doing covenant theology? If they were on board with a majority of these, I would gladly agree that they were covenant theologians even though Augustine said "testament", not "covenant", and Aquinas said "new law", not "new covenant". But they used those words for a reason, and the reason is that they intended to communicate those respective concepts. A word-concept fallacy is when someone denies something true or asserts something false on the basis of a word, when the concept is indeed there. But in this case, the words are really quite representative of the matter. Now that I've explained myself and my reasons for rejecting your analysis, perhaps you could retract your condescending remarks, and try to have a discussion in good faith?
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Just to clear this up a bit. I do see the MEDIEVAL CHURCH had a view between the Old and New Testament (Law and Testament). I am yet to see what is being precisely asked for in any of the comments concerning the Mosaic Covenant. Maybe I am missing something.

Please, no more links unless you are going to show a pinpoint reference. Quote the reference you desire us to see and then give us the link please so we can read the context. We appreciate being able to read directly what you desire for us to see and understand.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Augustine said "testament", not "covenant", and Aquinas said "new law", not "new covenant". But they used those words for a reason, and the reason is that they intended to communicate those respective concepts.
This is true. It mattered based upon how they viewed grace as they related to those concepts. As I noted above grace was defined and viewed differently and based upon the context it was related to.
 

brandonadams

Puritan Board Freshman
I'm not tracking with what's being said because what's being said is patently absurd. Augustine and Aquinas were not 1689 covenant theologians, nor covenant theologians.
Please note, the OP was not "Were the fathers and medieval theologians full-blown Westminster covenant theologians or full-blown 1689 covenant theologians?" Rather, the OP was "The biggest difference between 1689 and Westminster Federalism apart from baptism is the nature of the Mosaic covenant. I was wondering what the church fathers and medieval theologians have to say about the matter."

Westminster: The Old and New Covenant are one and the same covenant, differing only in administration. The Old offered and bestowed eternal life through faith in Christ.

1689 Federalism: The Old and the New are not the same covenant. The Old offered only temporal blessing (and curse) for life in Canaan conditioned upon obedience to Mosaic law.

Augustine: "In that testament, however, which is properly called the Old, and was given on Mount Sinai, only earthly happiness is expressly promised... the law of works, which was written on the tables of stone, and its reward, the land of promise, which the house of the carnal Israel after their liberation from Egypt received, belonged to the old testament, so the law of faith, written on the heart, and its reward, the beatific vision which the house of the spiritual Israel, when delivered from the present world, shall perceive, belong to the new testament."

I am not claiming that Augustine, Aquinas, or early church theologians agreed with 1689 Federalism in every way. There are certainly important differences. I am merely demonstrating that on the question of the nature of the Mosaic Covenant (and how it relates to the New), they were much more in agreement with 1689 Federalism than Westminster.

Every Christian in the world calls the New Testament a "Testament". I think he was referring to the New Testament dispensation. I understand that someone can have a concept without using a particular word. But you have not demonstrated that Augustine had what we refer to as a covenant in mind.

From your own citation, "we are accustomed, in our ordinary use of words, to designate all those Scriptures of the law and the prophets which were given previous to the Lord’s incarnation, and are embraced together by canonical authority, under the name and title of the Old Testament."
Nothing about this indicates that Augustine's thought was covenantal.
Charles, I encourage you to go back and re-read that quote in full, carefully. Yes, that is one meaning Augustine acknowledged "Old Testament" has, but note the title of that chapter "Chapter 14.—Examination of This Point. The Phrase “Old Testament” Used in Two Senses. The Heir of the Old Testament. In the Old Testament There Were Heirs of the New Testament." What was the second meaning of "Old Testament" for Augustine?

The context of this chapter is Augustine demonstrating why Pelagius was a heretic even though he was acquitted by the synod in Palestine. Pelagius was tried for his belief that the Old Testament promised eternal life. In his defense he cited Dan 7:18. Thus the synod exonerated him because it is orthodox to say that eternal life was promised in the Old Testament Scriptures. But Augustine points out that Pelagius was being equivocal and deceitful on this point because the issue was not whether the Old Testament Scriptures promised eternal life, but whether the Old Testament made with Israel on Mt. Sinai promised eternal life. When understood as referring to the testament made on Mt. Sinai, the Old Testament did not promise eternal life but was limited to earthly life.

A Work on the Proceedings of Pelagius.
Chapter 13 [V.]—The Fifth Item of the Accusation; And Pelagius’ Answer.


After the judges had accorded their approbation to this answer of Pelagius, another passage which he had written in his book was read aloud: “The kingdom of heaven was promised even in the Old Testament.” Upon this, Pelagius remarked in vindication: “This can be proved by the Scriptures: but heretics, in order to disparage the Old Testament, deny this. I, however, simply followed the authority of the Scriptures when I said this; for in the prophet Daniel it is written: ‘The saints shall receive the kingdom of the Most. High.’” (Dan 7:18) After they had heard this answer, the synod said: “Neither is this opposed to the Church’s faith.”


A Work on the Proceedings of Pelagius.
Chapter 14.—Examination of This Point. The Phrase “Old Testament” Used in Two Senses. The Heir of the Old Testament. In the Old Testament There Were Heirs of the New Testament.


Was it therefore without reason that our brethren were moved by his words to include this charge among the others against him? Certainly not. The fact is, that the phrase Old Testament is constantly employed in two different ways,—in one, following the authority of the Holy Scriptures; in the other, following the most common custom of speech. For the Apostle Paul says, in his Epistle to the Galatians: “Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bond-maid, the other by a free woman. . . .Which things are an allegory: for these are the two testaments; the one which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. For this is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and is conjoined with the Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children; whereas the Jerusalem which is above is free, and is the mother of us all.” (Gal 4:21-26) Now, inasmuch as the Old Testament belongs to bondage, whence it is written, “Cast out the bond-woman and her son, for the son of the bond-woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac,” (Gal 4:30) but the kingdom of heaven to liberty; what has the kingdom of heaven to do with the Old Testament? Since, however, as I have already remarked, we are accustomed, in our ordinary use of words, to designate all those Scriptures of the law and the prophets which were given previous to the Lord’s incarnation, and are embraced together by canonical authority, under the name and title of the Old Testament, what man who is ever so moderately informed in ecclesiastical lore can be ignorant that the kingdom of heaven could be quite as well promised in those early Scriptures as even the New Testament itself, to which the kingdom of heaven belongs? At all events, in those ancient Scriptures it is most distinctly written: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will consummate a new testament with the house of Israel and with the house of Jacob; not according to the testament that I made with their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand, to lead them out of the land of Egypt.” (Jer 31:31, 32) This was done on Mount Sinai. But then there had not yet risen the prophet Daniel to say: “The saints shall receive the kingdom of the Most High.” (Dan 7:18) For by these words he foretold the merit not of the Old, but of the New Testament. In the same manner did the same prophets foretell that Christ Himself would come, in whose blood the New Testament was consecrated. Of this Testament also the apostles became the ministers, as the most blessed Paul declares: “He hath made us able ministers of the New Testament; not in its letter, but in spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” (2 Cor 3:6) In that testament, however, which is properly called the Old, and was given on Mount Sinai, only earthly happiness is expressly promised. Accordingly that land, into which the nation, after being led through the wilderness, was conducted, is called the land of promise, wherein peace and royal power, and the gaining of victories over enemies, and an abundance of children and of fruits of the ground, and gifts of a similar kind are the promises of the Old Testament. And these, indeed, are figures of the spiritual blessings which appertain to the New Testament; but yet the man who lives under God’s law with those earthly blessings for his sanction, is precisely the heir of the Old Testament, for just such rewards are promised and given to him, according to the terms of the Old Testament, as are the objects of his desire according to the condition of the old man. But whatever blessings are there figuratively set forth as appertaining to the New Testament require the new man to give them effect. And no doubt the great apostle understood perfectly well what he was saying, when he described the two testaments as capable of the allegorical distinction of the bond-woman and the free,—attributing the children of the flesh to the Old, and to the New the children of the promise: “They,” says he, “which are the children of the flesh, are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.” (Rom 9:8) The children of the flesh, then, belong to the earthly Jerusalem, which is in bondage with her children; whereas the children of the promise belong to the Jerusalem above, the free, the mother of us all, eternal in the heavens. (Gal 4:25, 26) Whence we can easily see who they are that appertain to the earthly, and who to the heavenly kingdom. But then the happy persons, who even in that early age were by the grace of God taught to understand the distinction now set forth, were thereby made the children of promise, and were accounted in the secret purpose of God as heirs of the New Testament; although they continued with perfect fitness to administer the Old Testament to the ancient people of God, because it was divinely appropriated to that people in God’s distribution of the times and seasons.






A Work on the Proceedings of Pelagius.
Chapter 15.—The Same Continued.


How then should there not be a feeling of just disquietude entertained by the children of promise, children of the free Jerusalem, which is eternal in the heavens, when they see that by the words of Pelagius the distinction which has been drawn by Apostolic and catholic authority is abolished, and Agar is supposed to be by some means on a par with Sarah? He therefore does injury to the scripture of the Old Testament with heretical impiety, who with an impious and sacrilegious face denies that it was inspired by the good, supreme, and very God,—as Marcion does, as Manichæus does, and other pests of similar opinions. On this account (that I may put into as brief a space as I can what my own views are on the subject), as much injury is done to the New Testament, when it is put on the same level with the Old Testament, as is inflicted on the Old itself when men deny it to be the work of the supreme God of goodness. Now, when Pelagius in his answer gave as his reason for saying that even in the Old Testament there was a promise of the kingdom of heaven, the testimony of the prophet Daniel, who most plainly foretold that the saints should receive the kingdom of the Most High, it was fairly decided that the statement of Pelagius was not opposed to the catholic faith, although not according to the distinction which shows that the earthly promises of Mount Sinai are the proper characteristics of the Old Testament; nor indeed was the decision an improper one, considering that mode of speech which designates all the canonical Scriptures which were given to men before the Lord’s coming in the flesh by the title of the “Old Testament.” The kingdom of the Most High is of course none other than the kingdom of God; otherwise, anybody might boldly contend that the kingdom of God is one thing, and the kingdom of heaven another.

Note that using "Old Testament" to refer to "all those Scriptures of the law and the prophets which were given previous to the Lord’s incarnation" is a common custom of speech, but using "Old Testament" to refer to the testament made on Mt. Sinai is to "follow the authority of the Holy Scriptures." In Two Letters of the Pelagians, Augustine continues this discussion, this time explicitly using covenant and testament interchangeably (I don't have a latin copy so feel free to check the Ch. 13 title in latin).

A Treatise Against Two Letters of the Pelagians.
Book III Chapter 12.—The Old Testament is Properly One Thing—The Old Instrument Another.

Therefore, by a custom of speech already prevailing, in one way the law and all the prophets who prophesied until John are called the “Old Testament;” although this is more definitely called the “Old Instrument” rather than the “Old Testament;” but this name is used in another way by the apostolical authority, whether expressly or impliedly...

A Treatise Against Two Letters of the Pelagians.
Book III Chapter 13.—Why One of the Covenants is Called Old, the Other New.

But some one will say, “In what way is that called the old which was given by Moses four hundred and thirty years after; and that called the new which was given so many years before to Abraham?” Let him who on this subject is disturbed, not litigiously but earnestly, first understand that when from its earlier time one is called “old,” and from its posterior time the other “new,” it is the revelation of them that is considered in their names, not their institution. Because the old testament was revealed through Moses, by whom the holy and just and good law was given, whereby should be brought about not the doing away but the knowledge of sin,—by which the proud might be convicted who were desirous of establishing their own righteousness, as if they had no need of divine help, and being made guilty of the letter, might flee to the Spirit of grace, not to be justified by their own righteousness, but by that of God—that is, by the righteousness which was given to them of God. For as the same apostle says, “By the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and by the prophets.” (Rom 3:20-21) Because the law, by the very fact that in it no man is justified, affords a witness to the righteousness of God. For that in the law no man is justified before God is manifest, because “the just by faith lives.” (Gal 3:11) Thus, therefore, although the law does not justify the wicked when he is convicted of transgression, it sends to the God who justifieth, and thus affords a testimony to the righteousness of God. Moreover, the prophets offer testimony to God’s righteousness by fore-announcing Christ, “who is made unto us wisdom from God, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: that, as it is written, he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” (1 Cor 1:30-31) But that law was kept hidden from the beginning, when nature itself convicted wicked men, who did to others what they would not have done to themselves. But the revelation of the new testament in Christ was made when He was manifested in the flesh, wherein appeared the righteousness of God—that is, the righteousness which is to men from God. For hence he says, “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested.” (Rom 3:21) This is the reason why the former is called the old testament, because it was revealed in the earlier time; and the latter the new, because it was revealed in the later time. In a word, it is because the old testament pertains to the old man, from which it is necessary that a man should make a beginning; but the new to the new man, by which a man ought to pass from his old state. Thus, in the former are earthly promises, in the latter heavenly promises; because this pertained to God’s mercy, that no one should think that even earthly felicity of any kind whatever could be conferred on anybody, save from the Lord, who is the Creator of all things. But if God is worshipped for the sake of that earthly happiness, the worship is that of a slave, belonging to the children of the bondmaid; but if for the sake of God Himself, so that in the life eternal God may be all things in all, it is a free service belonging to the children of the freewoman, who is our mother eternal in the heavens—who first seemed, as it were, barren, when she had not any children manifest; but now we see what was prophesied concerning her: “Rejoice, thou barren, that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for there are many children of the desolate more than of her who has an husband,” (Isa. 54:1) that is, more than of that Jerusalem, who in a certain manner is married in the bond of the law, and is in bondage with her children. In the time, then, of the old testament, we say that the Holy Spirit, in those who even then were the children of promise according to Isaac, was not only an assistant, which these men think is sufficient for their opinion, but also a bestower of virtue; and this they deny, attributing it rather to their free will, in contradiction to those fathers who knew how to cry unto God with truthful piety, “I will love Thee, O Lord, my strength.” (Ps 18:1)

Note his interchangeable use of testament and covenant in A Treatise on the Spirit and the Letter, (compare his comments on Jer 31 with above).
A Treatise on the Spirit and the Letter.
Chapter 34.—The Law; Grace.

After saying, “Not according to the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand, to bring them out of the land of Egypt,” observe what He adds: “Because they continued not in my covenant.” He reckons it as their own fault that they did not continue in God’s covenant, lest the law, which they received at that time, should seem to be deserving of blame. For it was the very law that Christ “came not to destroy, but to fulfil.” (Matt 5:17) Nevertheless, it is not by that law that the ungodly are made righteous, but by grace; and this change is effected by the life-giving Spirit, without whom the letter kills. “For if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.” (Gal 3:21-22) Out of this promise, that is, out of the kindness of God, the law is fulfilled, which without the said promise only makes men transgressors, either by the actual commission of some sinful deed, if the flame of concupiscence have greater power than even the restraints of fear, or at least by their mere will, if the fear of punishment transcend the pleasure of lust. In what he says, “The Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe,” it is the benefit of this “conclusion” itself which is asserted. For what purposes “hath it concluded,” except as it is expressed in the next sentence: “Before, indeed, faith came, we were kept under the law, concluded for the faith which was afterwards revealed?” (Gal 3:23) The law was therefore given, in order that grace might be sought; grace was given, in order that the law might be fulfilled. Now it was not through any fault of its own that the law was not fulfilled, but by the fault of the carnal mind; and this fault was to be demonstrated by the law, and healed by grace. “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh; that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Rom 8:3,4) Accordingly, in the passage which we cited from the prophet, he says, “I will consummate a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah,” (Jer 31:31)—and what means I will consummate but I will fulfil?—“not, according to the covenant which I made with their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand, to bring them out of the land of Egypt.” (Jer 31:32)






A Treatise on the Spirit and the Letter.
Chapter 35 [XX.]—The Old Law; The New Law.

The one was therefore old, because the other is new. But whence comes it that one is old and the other new, when the same law, which said in the Old Testament, “Thou shalt not covet,” (Ex 20:17) is fulfilled by the New Testament? “Because,” says the prophet, “they continued not in my covenant, I have also rejected them, saith the Lord.” (Jer 31:32) It is then on account of the offence of the old man, which was by no means healed by the letter which commanded and threatened, that it is called the old covenant; whereas the other is called the new covenant, because of the newness of the spirit, which heals the new man of the fault of the old. Then consider what follows, and see in how clear a light the fact is placed, that men who bare faith are unwilling to trust in themselves: “Because,” says he, “this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts.” (Jer 31:33) See how similarly the apostle states it in the passage we have already quoted: “Not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart,” (2 Cor 3:3) because “not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God.” (2 Cor 3:3) And I apprehend that the apostle in this passage had no other reason for mentioning “the New Testament” (“who hath made us able ministers of the New Testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit”), than because he had an eye to the words of the prophet, when he said “Not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart,” inasmuch as in the prophet it runs: “I will write it in their hearts.” (Jer 31:33)






A Treatise on the Spirit and the Letter.
Chapter 36 [XXI.]—The Law Written in Our Hearts.


What then is God’s law written by God Himself in the hearts of men, but the very presence of the Holy Spirit, who is “the finger of God,” and by whose presence is shed abroad in our hearts the love which is the fulfilling of the law, (Rom 13:10) and the end of the commandment? (1 Tim 1:5) Now the promises of the Old Testament are earthly; and yet (with the exception of the sacramental ordinances which were the shadow of things to come, such as circumcision, the Sabbath and other observances of days, and the ceremonies of certain meats, (See Retractions 2.37) and the complicated ritual of sacrifices and sacred things which suited “the oldness” of the carnal law and its slavish yoke) it contains such precepts of righteousness as we are even now taught to observe, which were especially expressly drawn out on the two tables without figure or shadow: for instance, “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” “Thou shalt do no murder,” “Thou shalt not covet,” (Ex 20:13, 14, 17) “and whatsoever other commandment is briefly comprehended in the saying, Thou shall love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Rom 13:9) Nevertheless, whereas as in the said Testament earthly and temporal promises are, as I have said, recited, and these are goods of this corruptible flesh (although they prefigure those heavenly and everlasting blessings which belong to the New Testament), what is now promised is a good for the heart itself, a good for the mind, a good of the spirit, that is, an intellectual good; since it is said, “I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their hearts will I write them,” (Jer 31:33) —by which He signified that men would not fear the law which alarmed them externally, but would love the very righteousness of the law which dwelt inwardly in their hearts.
 
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