Especially between Presbyterians & Baptists, the unbreakableness of the New Covenant has been much controverted as a possible way of resolving the debate over subjects of baptism (see this thread for instance). The unbreakableness of the New Covenant is usually deduced from Jeremiah 31:32 (cf. Heb. 8:9). It goes something like this— The Mosaic Covenant was made with the fathers, and they broke it, or in some sense made it ineffectual. This is contrasted with the New Covenant, which will not be made ineffectual or broken or fail because… Now it is interesting to see that Calvin describes the Old Covenant as inviolable— Now, as to the new covenant, it is not so called, because it is contrary to the first covenant; for God is never inconsistent with himself, nor is he unlike himself, he then who once made a covenant with his chosen people, had not changed his purpose, as though he had forgotten his faithfulness. It then follows, that the first covenant was inviolable; besides, he had already made his covenant with Abraham, and the Law was a confirmation of that covenant. As then the Law depended on that covenant which God made with his servant Abraham, it follows that God could never have made a new, that is, a contrary or a different covenant. For whence do we derive our hope of salvation, except from that blessed seed promised to Abraham? Further, why are we called the children of Abraham, except on account of the common bond of faith? Why are the faithful said to be gathered into the bosom of Abraham? Why does Christ say, that some will come from the east and the west, and sit down in the kingdom of heaven with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? (Luke 16:22; Matthew 8:11) These things no doubt sufficiently shew that God has never made any other covenant than that which he made formerly with Abraham, and at length confirmed by the hand of Moses. This subject might be more fully handled; but it is enough briefly to shew, that the covenant which God made at first is perpetual. How then does Calvin gloss the Fathers breaking the Mosaic Covenant? It ought at the same time to be observed, that the fault is here cast on the people, that the Law was weak and not sufficiently valid, as we see that Paul teaches us in Romans 7:12. For as soon as the weakness of the Law is spoken of, the greater part lay hold of something they deem wrong in the Law, and thus the Law is rendered contemptible: hence the Prophet says here that they had made God's covenant void, as though he had said, that the fault was not to be sought in the Law that there was need of a new covenant, for the Law was abundantly sufficient, but that the fault was in the levity and the unfaithfulness of the people. We now then see that nothing is detracted from the Law when it is said to be weak and ineffectual; for it is an accidental fault derived from men who do not observe nor keep their pledged faith. There are still more things to be said; but I now, as I have said, touch but briefly on the words of the Prophet. From here, in an attempt to defend the unity of the covenant of grace, many Presbyterians argue that the New Covenant is breakable just like the Old, because they are both the covenant of grace, or so the argument goes. However, I think this is an unnecessary move, and I hope to show why for several reasons. I'll preface with one last quote from Calvin on Jeremiah 31:33— He now shews a difference between the Law and the Gospel, for the Gospel brings with it the grace of regeneration: its doctrine, therefore, is not that of the letter, but penetrates into the heart and reforms all the inward faculties, so that obedience is rendered to the righteousness of God. The Old Covenant itself was not the source of regeneration and life. It administered these things to the elect, but they came from the New Covenant. Before getting too excited, I want to show that what I am saying is thoroughly Presbyterian, and throughly biblical. Firstly, here is the New Covenant according to the Holy Scriptures, Heb. 10:14-22— For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. This is the apostle interpreting Jeremiah's New Covenant, and saying that by it there is remission of sins. Not by the Old Covenant, which was only the letter and type (cf. Heb. 9:15). Here comes the Presbyterian argument. I present to you, Robert Shaw— In entering upon the exposition of this section, it is proper to remark, that, at the period when our Confession was framed, it was generally held by the most eminent divines, that there are two covenants connected with the salvation of men, which they called the covenant of redemption, and the covenant of grace; the former made with Christ from everlasting, the latter made with sinners in time; the righteousness of Christ being the condition of the former, and faith the condition of the latter covenant. This distinction, we conceive, has no foundation in the Sacred Scriptures, and it has long since been abandoned by all evangelical divines.… In like manner, one covenant includes Christ and his spiritual seed. The Scriptures, accordingly, everywhere speak of it as one covenant, and the blood of Christ is repeatedly called "the blood of the covenant," not of the covenants, as we may presume it would have been called, if it had been the condition of a covenant of redemption and the foundation of a covenant of grace (Heb. 10:29; 13:20). By the blood of the same covenant Christ made satisfaction, and we obtain deliverance (Zech. 9:11). We hold, therefore, that there is only one covenant for the salvation of fallen men, and that this covenant was made with Christ before the foundation of the world. The Scriptures, indeed, frequently speak of God making a covenant with believers, but this language admits of an easy explication, in consistency with the unity of the covenant. "The covenant of grace," says a judicious writer, "was made with Christ in a strict and proper sense, as he was the party-contractor in it, and undertook to fulfil the condition of it. It is made with believers in an improper sense, when they are taken into the bond of it, and come actually to enjoy the benefit of it. How it is made with them may be learned from the words of the apostle, "I will give you the sure mercies of David" (Acts 13:34), which is a kind of paraphrase upon that passage, "I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David" (Isaiah 55:3). God makes the covenant with them, not by requiring anything of them in order to entitle them or lay a foundation for their claim to the blessings of it, but by making these over to them as a free gift, and putting them in possession of them, as far as their present state will admit, by a faith of his own operation." If, therefore, there be a covenant made with sinners, different from the covenant made with Christ, it must have a condition which they themselves must perform. But though our old divines called faith the condition of the covenant made with sinners, they did not assign any merit to faith, but simply precedence. "The truth is," as Dr Dick has remarked, "that what these divines call the covenant of grace, is merely the administration of what they call the covenant of redemption, for the purpose of communicating its blessings to those for whom they were intended; and cannot be properly considered as a covenant, because it is not suspended upon a proper condition." The Westminster Assembly, in this section, appear to describe what was then usually designated the covenant of grace, as distinguished from the covenant of redemption. But, though they viewed the covenant under a twofold consideration, as made with the Surety from everlasting, and as made with sinners in time, they certainly regarded it as one and the same covenant. "The covenant of grace," say they, "was made with Christ as the second Adam, and in him with all the elect as his seed." He cites as divines who hold his view, "Boston, R., and E. Erskine, Adam Gib, Hill of London, Brown of Haddington, Dick, Belfrage, and, indeed, by all modern evangelical divines." This is an antidistestablishmentarian-seccession-church minister. It doesn't get any more Presbyterian. And yet, I think it is fair to say that he has just laid out a doctrine of an unbreakable Covenant of Grace made only with Christ, and, consequently, in him with the elect alone. Given all the above, is it helpful or edifying to refer to hypocrites as 'covenant-breakers' and especially as members of the covenant? They certainly are visibly partaking of the benefits of Christ's covenant. Furthermore, they in a purely carnal way are surrounded by his ordinances and have free access to the things he has instituted to minister the grace of his covenant to the elect. But should being caught up in the administration really be called 'membership.' This seems like theological imprecision, and has made our debates over baptism less clear by blurring the real distinctions. Does Shaw's view above require us to hold to a subservient covenant view of the Mosaic? Or would we relegate the language of covenant breaking to the weakness of sinful man (Jer. 31:32, cf. Rom. 7:6ff)? Please share your thoughts!