Republication and "The Marrow of Modern Divinity"

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Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
I'm reading "The Marrow" and there is a lot about "Republication" here.

Has anyone found what is in The Marrow about Republication enlightening or exasperating or both?

I'm finding the Marrow to explain things somewhat more clearly to my own understanding respecting what people are trying to talk about by Republication.

As far as I'm concerned, there may be a hypothetical presentation of the law as a CoW in the Old and New Testaments, in order to drive people to Christ, but that isn't a RoCoW, or an entering by God into a CoW or a republished CoW with the Israelites. How do you enter a CoW with a nation of sinners?
 
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Willem van Oranje

Puritan Board Junior
I'm eagerly waiting for Venema to deal with republicationism in the next issue of the MARS journal of theology. Haven't read the Marrow, but what you are saying sounds about right.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
I've only reached p.94 of the Marrow in this new edition by Christian Focus. What I said in the above post wasn't derived directly from the Marrow or Boston's notes, but is only what I'm thinking may be what is presented in Scripture and from which the doctrine of Republication is erroneously and confusingly derived.

I'll get back with one or two quotes to discuss, but on pp.75-79 of this volume, Boston presents his view of Republication.

I think this study of Republication will give the Reformed Church a more nuanced and fuller understanding of the Covenants, and the relationship between law and grace in them, but it doesn't seem like it's the correct doctrine in its present form, or even could be.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
What exactly is, I know this is off topic sorry, republicationism? I mean what is the basic argument for and against it? If this is too off topic just send me a message or something thanks.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
A few points of significant difference. (1.) The Marrow teaches the publication of the covenant of works in subordination to the covenant of grace whereas modern proponents of republication teach that the covenant of works was republished in co-ordination with the covenant of grace. (2.) The Marrow teaches an hypothetical righteousness by the law whereas republicationists teach a real righteousness grounded in the creation order. (3.) The Marrow teaches gospel imperatives whereas republicationists teach all imperative ("do this") is law and all indicative ("done") is gospel. A little attention to detail reveals that modern republicationists find no precedent for their novelties in the Marrow of Modern Divinity.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
I have this posted on my blog.....
http://www.puritanboard.com/blogs/puritancovenanter/sinai-mixed-dispensation-439/


That the conditional promise (Lev. 18:5, to which agrees Exodus 19:8) and the dreadful threatening (Duet. 27:26) were both given to the Israelites, as well as the ten commands, is beyond question; and that according to the apostle (Rom.10:5, Gal 3:10), they were the form of the covenant of works, is as evident as the repeating of the words, and expounding them so, can make it. How, then, one can refuse the covenant of works to have been given to the Israelites, I cannot see. Mark the Westminster Confession upon the head of the covenant of works; ‘The first covenant made with man was a covenant of works, wherein life was promised to Adam, and in him to his posterity, upon condition of perfect and personal obedience’ (WCF 7:2). And this account of the being and nature of that covenant is there proved from these very texts among others, Romans 10:5, Galatians 3:10.


(Lev 18:5) Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the LORD.

(Exo 19:8) And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the LORD.

(Deu 27:26) Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say, Amen.

(Rom 10:5) For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.

(Gal 3:10) For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.

WCF
Chapter 7:2
THE first covenant made with man was a covenant of works,(2) wherein life was promised to Adam, and in him to his posterity,(3) upon condition of perfect and personal obedience.(4)
(1) Isa_40:13-17; Job_9:32-33; 1Sa_2:25; Psa_113:5-6; Psa_100:2-3; Job_22:2-3; Job_35:7-8; Luk_17:10; Act_17:24-25. (2) Gal_2:12. (3) Rom_10:5; Rom_5:12-20. (4) Gen_2:17; Gal_3:10.

Sinai a mixed Dispensation

The transaction at Sinai or Horeb (for they are but one mountain) was a mixed dispensation: there was the promise or covenant of grace, and also the law; the one a covenant to be believed, the other a covenant to be done, and thus the apostle states, the difference betwixt these two. ‘And the law is not of faith, but the man that DOETH them shall live in them’ (Gal 3:12). And to the former, viz. the convent to be believed, it was given to their fathers as well as to them. Of the latter, viz. the covenant to be done. Moses speaks expressly, ‘The Lord spake unto you out of the midst of the fire, and he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to PERFORM (or DO) even Ten Commandments’ (Deut. 4:12-13). And he tells the people no less expressly, that ‘the Lord made not THIS COVENANT with their fathers’ (Deut.5:3).


(Gal 3:12) And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.

(Deu 4:12) And the LORD spake unto you out of the midst of the fire: ye heard the voice of the words, but saw no similitude; only ye heard a voice.

(Deu 4:13) And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone.


(Deu 5:3) The LORD made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day.

pp. 78-79 Marrow of Modern Divinity by Edward Fisher .

The Mosaic has a very large Gracious pulling in the Mosaic. But I do believe as Galatians says that their are two Covenants that are pronounced. God does reveal his Grace in Exposing the CofW and the deadness. It is a schoolmaster also.

Sometimes I do see the Over Arching Gracious Covenant of Grace in the Mosaic. But then I also see the Over Arching pronouncement of the Covenant of Works upon those who are spiritually dead. The Covenant of Works is not reinstituted. It was a once for all from the Garden of Eden and made for all of Mankind in our first Federal Head Adam. There are glimpses of promises and threatenings in the Mosaic. But Paul specifically notes that these are two Mountains or two Covenant in the book of Galatians. This is hard to understand.

I also found Herman Witsius very interesting on the decalogue here.

http://www.puritanboard.com/blogs/puritancovenanter/decalogue-covenant-works-covenant-grace-432/

And Hodge here....

http://www.puritanboard.com/blogs/puritancovenanter/hodge-abrahamic-covenants-479/

I had a very good Talk with Rich on this topic a while back and he really showed me how the Mosaic was full of Grace. It was very enlightening. But I still struggle with this subject and keep seeking it out.
 

Irish Presbyterian

Puritan Board Freshman
A few points of significant difference. (1.) The Marrow teaches the publication of the covenant of works in subordination to the covenant of grace whereas modern proponents of republication teach that the covenant of works was republished in co-ordination with the covenant of grace. (2.) The Marrow teaches an hypothetical righteousness by the law whereas republicationists teach a real righteousness grounded in the creation order. (3.) The Marrow teaches gospel imperatives whereas republicationists teach all imperative ("do this") is law and all indicative ("done") is gospel. A little attention to detail reveals that modern republicationists find no precedent for their novelties in the Marrow of Modern Divinity.

Which modern republicationists promote this idea? What is a 'gospel imperative'? If you mean imperatives that are the essential response to the proclaimation of the gospel I'd say that most modern republicationists would agree that these imperatives are essential.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
But then I also see the Over Arching pronouncement of the Covenant of Works upon those who are spiritually dead. The Covenant of Works is not reinstituted. It was a once for all from the Garden of Eden and made for all of Mankind in our first Federal Head Adam.

Just to add to this thought..... The Covenant Head of the Covenant of Grace which I see to be promised before and purely instituted in the New Covenant is Jesus Christ who also fulfilled the Covenant of Works once for all. It also was a once for all of the elect fulfillment.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
A few points of significant difference. (1.) The Marrow teaches the publication of the covenant of works in subordination to the covenant of grace whereas modern proponents of republication teach that the covenant of works was republished in co-ordination with the covenant of grace. (2.) The Marrow teaches an hypothetical righteousness by the law whereas republicationists teach a real righteousness grounded in the creation order. (3.) The Marrow teaches gospel imperatives whereas republicationists teach all imperative ("do this") is law and all indicative ("done") is gospel. A little attention to detail reveals that modern republicationists find no precedent for their novelties in the Marrow of Modern Divinity.

Which modern republicationists promote this idea? What is a 'gospel imperative'? If you mean imperatives that are the essential response to the proclaimation of the gospel I'd say that most modern republicationists would agree that these imperatives are essential.

Dear Keith,

If you're a Republicationist maybe you can explain more clearly exactly what modern Republicationists believe, because it seems either deeply mysterious or deeply confusing or both, illustrated by the fact that the writers of the book, "The Law is not of Faith", said that there was a RoCoW at Sinai "in some sense", which is hardly clear language. Or maybe those of us that aren't persuaded are just not seeing something that's really there.

E.g. For a start, how can God make a CoW with people like the Israelites who were already sinners? They have broken the CoW before they even enter it, haven't they?

For Adam the high jump was set at the highest possible level, but for the Israelites - because they were already sinners - it was set at a lower level, was it?

---------- Post added at 10:15 PM ---------- Previous post was at 10:09 PM ----------

A few points of significant difference. (1.) The Marrow teaches the publication of the covenant of works in subordination to the covenant of grace whereas modern proponents of republication teach that the covenant of works was republished in co-ordination with the covenant of grace. (2.) The Marrow teaches an hypothetical righteousness by the law whereas republicationists teach a real righteousness grounded in the creation order. (3.) The Marrow teaches gospel imperatives whereas republicationists teach all imperative ("do this") is law and all indicative ("done") is gospel. A little attention to detail reveals that modern republicationists find no precedent for their novelties in the Marrow of Modern Divinity.

Thanks for this, Matthew.

I'll continue to read the Marrow. I believe I've greatly benefited from it already.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
I think republication needs to be defined much better. It can't be reinstituted to Israel unless you mean Israel to be Jesus. It definitely can not be reinstituted as it was formerly given to Adam in the Mosaic. At the same time I do think Jesus fulfilled the Mosaic also.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Well the case of the Lord Jesus is very different of course, Randy.

I think most orthodox Covenant theologians would agree that He came to fulfil the CoW for His people. But Jesus, like Adam, was potentially able to do it because He had not sinned.

It wasn't just that Jesus kept the CoW because believing Jews (and believing Christians) tried to keep it and failed. Believing Jews and Christians - or unbelieving ones - couldn't even begin to try to keep the CoW, because they were/are all born sinners.

We would also agree that - unless they are converted in the womb - human beings are spiritually speaking in the CoW from birth until they are regenerated. The unsaved soul is in the broken CoW and thinks in terms of it until he/she is regenerated.

But the Covenant of Grace in both its Old and New Covenant (or Testament) administrations is graciously calculated by God to encourage/drive people to seek salvation by grace alone through faith alone.

It can't be reinstituted to Israel unless you mean Israel to be Jesus.

And remember "Israel" has expanded in the New Covenant, and we are also under (different) conditions. A believer or unbeliever who is under the New Testament administration can be properly excluded, temporarily or permanently from the visible kingdom of God for flagrant breaches of the Ten Coomandments. Does this mean that we're under a CoW because we have to live up to - at least - such conditions?
Or are these conditions graciously given, first of all for the sake of the elect in the New Covenant Administration?
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
I understand that Rich. Just as St. Paul did in Romans 7. One needs to understand this in context of Romans 7 also in my estimation. Don't you agree?

I actually believe Paul's statements in Romans 7 can lead one to some kind of understanding of the Republication understanding.
 

Wayne

Tempus faciendi, Domine.
I'm not well-read on this subject, but in contributing a quote from Jeremiah Burroughs yesterday for the Hosea 6:7 thread, I noticed the following statement by Burrough. Where would this place him in this discussion (if there is enough information in the quote):

The covenant of God we usually divide into two parts; but the Scripture, to me, seems to hold forth a threefold covenant : the one of works, that which was made with Adam in Paradise. The second, that which was made with Abraham, the covenant of grace : the tenor of which is this, I will be thy God, and the God of thy seed after thee. Then the covenant made with them on Mount Sinai.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Well whatever Republication of the CoW really means, Randy, it certainly gets one thinking of the ins and outs of Covenant Theology.

Personally i think there may sometimes be a hypothetical - not real or meant - presentation of the morallaw as a CoW in the Old Covenant.

The Lord does the same in the New testament with e.g. the Sermon on the Mount, to some extent, and the Rich Young Ruler, thus giving warrant to subsequent gospel preachers to use this technique.

Our Lord wasn't republishing the CoW to the RYR in order for him to go off and try to save himself. It was a purely hypothetical technique in order to encourage him to truly seek salvation by grace through faith.

It is God's grace to sinners to do this to unmask their hopeless and helpless situation to them, not in order to really enter into a CoW with them, as He did with Adam.

This presentation of the law to sinners is part of the Covenant of Grace and of the Gospel.

It's not comparable to God entering a CoW with Adam. It's more like God graciously peeling away the fig-leaves from Adam and Eve after they had sinned, so that they would see that they needed proper clothing.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Richard,

Modern Republicationists put the Covenants into Royal Grant/Suzerain Treaty language.

I've heard Horton enough on this to understand that he believes, at Sinai, God made a Suzerain Treaty with the nation that, unlike the Royal Grant made to Abraham, made conditional promises to the nation with respect to the land. As the nation went, so the treaty was enforced. The Law of Moses then operated in such a way as to demonstrate to the people who saw the fate of their nation succumbing to its inability to keep the demands ot the treaty, that they had to trust in the Royal Grant promised to Abraham.

The "in a sense" that you're seeing in modern Republicationists is that they don't see Sinai as a republication of the CoW for a man to be justified but as a republication for the nation with respect to the land. The nation would be judged or be blessed strictly according to its corporate obedience to the stipulations of the Suzerain Treaty.

I realize it is unpopular to question this these days as it is viewed as "taking sides" or potentially drifting into non-Reformed categories that reject the Law/Gospel distinction but here are my problems:

1. I have asked how we are able to really know what we can transplant from an understanding of Hittite treaties to the Covenants God made with man. I think many will simply point out this is a form of gramattico-historical methodology where we seek to understand cultural ideas in order to better exegete meanings. However, sound "cultural exegesis" is always used carefully and discriminately. N.T. Wright, for example, uses the grammatico-historical method to show how the Jews of 2nd Temple Judaism understood grace and then recasts Paul in light of this understanding. We all recognize the clear dangers of this latter application of the method but I've never received a satisfactory explanation of how men have guarded against the same application from Hittite treaties to recast our understanding (and modern terminology) concerning the Covenants.

2. There is usually a polemic against those who question the particular Law/Gospel distinction that arises out of modern Republication to show how Beza and others insisted on a Law/Gospel distinction. I wish there was more acknowledgement of the fact that it is not a question of a Law/Gospel distinction in Reformed thought but what that Law/Gospel distinction is. In other words, when Reformed thinkers (e.g. Beza) spoke of the need to distinguish Law from Gospel were they always saying: "It is essential to distinguish imperative from indicative as the heart of the Law/Gospel distinction."? Some of the lack of civility on this topic is not merely from those that simply loft accusations at modern Republication theories but also how modern Republication theorists will not acknowledge that there is a Law/Gospel distinction of another type in Reformed thought.

3. If we assume the validity of modern Republication then we would expect the Law at Sinai to operate strictly according to the Sanctions imposed by the Suzerain treaty. That is to say that, as a nation, Israel and Judah would receive all the curses stipulated by their Suzerain. As a republication of the CoW, there could be no "grace" operating in this scheme and the Suzerain would be expected to exact what the Curses call for. Israel and Judah violate a stipulation of the CoW as nations and the curses should inevitably fall upon them with respect to the land an other curses.

What we see in the history of Israel, however, is much different. In the midst of His prophets calling judgment upon the people, there is a call to repentance. In the midst of disobedience, God does not exact retributive justice upon the nation. Instead, over and over, He intermingles gracious language about His people and even delivers them, as a Nation, repeatedly and unilaterally by His power. If God intends Sinai to strictly act as republication of the CoW then there is decidedly non-CoW stuff all throughout the Judges, Samuel, Kings, and the Prophets that is clearly the language of grace. I don't know how to reconcile this with the theory.

As an example, consider James 5:17: "17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18 Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit."

Studying the Prophets last year in Seminary, it was pointed out that Elijah didn't just come up with this idea about withholding rain from the earth all by himself. As a man of the Word, he would have understood that the idea of the "skies becoming like bronze and withholding its rain" is a clear curse of the Mosaic covenant. How does one, in faith, pray for something that is a sanction in a Suzerain treaty? How can that be an exemplar of faith to us?

I am not a scholar and am trying to be very respectful of those who have studied this far more than I have. I'm not trying to kick up dust here only to be seen a "party spirit" in this debate. I have honest concerns about modern Republicationism and I struggle working through these things. I assume the best in the most visible proponents of modern Republicationism and see much benefit from their work at large and consider some of them personal friends. I simply believe we need to be able to bring these things out on the table for better clarity concerning how our Standards speak of the Covenants as well as the Law and the Gospel.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Thanks very much for this very insightful post, Rich.

I must say that I read (most of ?) Horton's Introduction to Covenant Theology, but found the distinctions between Hittite Treaties, and other treaties, a little exasperating and so that aspect of things went over my head a bit. I obviously gathered that he was a Republicationist.

Now that you've explained things a bit better I'll be able to understand Horton's book better, although not necessarily agree.

There are conditional elements in the New Covenant that seem to somewhat correspond mutatis mutandis to those that Israel were under. E.g. In the Book of Revelation, our Lord talks about coming and removing congregations out of their place if they don't repent as congregations. I don't know what the Republicationists make of things like that?

You could say that the New Covenant has a legal caste that those under its administration have to live up to, to remain under its administration. E.g. whether I am a true believer or not, if I steal or commit adultery I am rightly subject to Church sanctions. The Q is whether the legal caste in the Old Covenant or the New covenant, has a gracious purpose to sinners behind it?

It's good to learn from history and archaeology in studying the Bible, but we have to be careful to let God's Word teach us how the Spirit Himself was making use of such material. He was unlikely to be taking it on board wholesale.

Use of the Hittite Treaty theme has already been pushed too far by less careful writers than the Republicationists e.g. Gary North.
 
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MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Which modern republicationists promote this idea? What is a 'gospel imperative'? If you mean imperatives that are the essential response to the proclaimation of the gospel I'd say that most modern republicationists would agree that these imperatives are essential.

Please consult Rich's post above for the republicationist's claim that Sinai placed Israel under a real obligation to works-righteousness.

A gospel imperative is, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved." Republicationists obviously agree that imperatives are essential; they just don't agree they are gospel.
 

Irish Presbyterian

Puritan Board Freshman
Which modern republicationists promote this idea? What is a 'gospel imperative'? If you mean imperatives that are the essential response to the proclaimation of the gospel I'd say that most modern republicationists would agree that these imperatives are essential.

Please consult Rich's post above for the republicationist's claim that Sinai placed Israel under a real obligation to works-righteousness.

A gospel imperative is, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved." Republicationists obviously agree that imperatives are essential; they just don't agree they are gospel.

I always assumed that the works aspect that was placed on Israel at Sinai was related to the fulfillment of the land promises and not a works righteousness onto salvation. I don't ever recall reading a modern republicationist saying that Israel could have gained salvation by work righteousness. I probably haven't read enough in that case.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
I always assumed that the works aspect that was placed on Israel at Sinai was related to the fulfillment of the land promises and not a works righteousness onto salvation. I don't ever recall reading a modern republicationist saying that Israel could have gained salvation by work righteousness. I probably haven't read enough in that case.

If that's the case - as it seems to be from Rich's post - what Republicationist's are talking about is not a Republication of the Covenant of Works, because Adam could have earned true salvation for himself and his posterity by his obedience. So why call it Republication of the Covenant of Works? That's just causing theological confusion.

The reality is that exclusion from the Land and/or People of Israel, either as an individual through excommunication or through excommunication by execution or as the nation as a whole, the previous exclusion of Adam and Eve and all their posterity - including us - from the Garden of Eden - in a Cursed World, and the exclusion of members of the New Covenant from the Covenant and Visible Church by excommunication, are gracious acts by God towards sinners designed to warn people about the ultimate exclusion to which these exclusions are only pointers.

These are all gracious types of the ultimate reality and antitype of exclusion from Heaven in Hell. They are all gracious because God doesn't use the ultimate sanction of immediately casting the sinner into Hell.

Why do the Old Covenant sanctions seem severer and less spiritual (or with a more physical aspect to them) than the New Covenant sanctions? Because the Church was an underage Church.
 
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