The Mosaic Covenant as a Covenant of Grace

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Stephen L Smith

Staff member
To regard Sinai and the holy law given there as strictly a works-covenant, essentially and fundamentally a merit-system accord, would (I suspect) tend to reduce the utility of its moral element, particularly after the introduction of a new-and-replacement covenant regarded as a radical departure. Just as we presently do not mine the Edenic covenant for its trove of vital moral directives, under exclusively-NT-relevant conditions it is doubtful we should have any high regard for the 10C as such. We would confine us to the NT for ALL authoritative moral, ethical, and positive guidance.
That is a good summary of my initial concern.
I would be extremely surprised if Beeke specifically has 1689 Federalism in mind. I have not come across modern published works that have studied 1689 Federalism and are intentionally engaging with or critiquing it. I think Beeke clearly has other traditions in mind.
The reason I wondered was because Beeke says "Traditions deprived of these covenantal sensibilities have had much greater difficulty asserting the abiding validity of the Decalogue as the moral law." I would have thought NCT would not assert the abiding validity of the Decalogue as the moral law. Then Beeke finalises his argument making reference to the moral law as "part and parcel of the covenant of grace".
Getting the Garden Right
Our garden has an ever growing battle of weeds because of the covenant of works. Maybe I need to read this book before I tidy up our garden :)
See also his appendix in the Coxe/Owen volume regarding the functions of the decalogue, available online here
Thank you. I will look this up.
We differ from VanDrunen, Irons, Kline, etc on this point. We affirm WCF/LBCF 7.1 whereas they do not.
Are you saying that Kline etc denies an important WCF statement such as 7:1? I thought WCF/LBCF 7.1 was vital truth for all Reormed Christians.

Brandon, I meant my comments as questions not a debate. I'll reflect on the issue further.


Puritan Board Freshman
Stephen, I am not certain who specifically Beeke has in mind. You might email him if it's a pressing concern. I would still be very surprised if he has studied and is commenting on 1689 Federalism (as opposed to NCT or republication).

Are you saying that Kline etc denies an important WCF statement such as 7:1? I thought WCF/LBCF 7.1 was vital truth for all Reormed Christians.

Yes. See Irons' paper Redefining Merit: An Examination of Medieval Presuppositions in Covenant Theology. See here as well and

RJ Spencer

Puritan Board Freshman
Not "promised". "Revealed". It's hard to "reveal" something that isn't there, isn't it?

2 LBCF Ch. 7.3
This covenant is revealed in the gospel; first of all to Adam in the promise of salvation by the seed of the woman, and afterwards by farther steps, until the full discovery thereof was completed in the New Testament; and it is founded in that eternal covenant transaction that was between the Father and the Son about the redemption of the elect; and it is alone by the grace of this covenant that all the posterity of fallen Adam that ever were saved did obtain life and blessed immortality, man being now utterly incapable of acceptance with God upon those terms on which Adam stood in his state of innocency.

1689 Federalism takes great pains to clarify that the Covenant of Grace is actually THERE all along, else no one would have been saved.

There are some differences between 1689 Federalism and the 1689 Confession. The 1689 Confession does not split up the old covenant and the new to the degree that 1689 Federalism does.
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