The Old Covenant was not a Covenant of Works (Baptist J.A. Haldane)

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Jerrod Hess

Puritan Board Freshman
When the apostle in writing to the Hebrews speaks of the old and new covenants, he uniformly refers to the covenant at Sinai, and that ratified by the blood of Jesus Christ. The covenant at Sinai, could never be called a covenant of works, for it was a type and shadow of the new covenant, and not opposed to it, although it was thus perverted by the Jews. Immediately after the fall, man was placed under a gracious constitution by the promise of a Saviour being given him. Under this constitution, all men have been since the fall, and will be to the end of the world. On this all God’s dealings with them have been founded.

James Alexander Haldane, Reasons of a Change of Sentiment and Practice on the Subject of Baptism (1809), pg. 60
 

brandonadams

Puritan Board Freshman
Thanks for posting. Make sure to compare with what else he says about the Old Covenant though. For example, in his commentary on Gal 3:12 he says that Lev. 18:5 was properly the condition of the Old Covenant, but that it was limited to temporal life in Canaan, not eternal life. I assume when he denies the Old Covenant was a covenant of works he has in mind a covenant of works for eternal life. https://books.google.com/books?id=Sy8EAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA134#v=onepage&q&f=false
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
When the apostle in writing to the Hebrews speaks of the old and new covenants, he uniformly refers to the covenant at Sinai, and that ratified by the blood of Jesus Christ. The covenant at Sinai, could never be called a covenant of works, for it was a type and shadow of the new covenant, and not opposed to it, although it was thus perverted by the Jews. Immediately after the fall, man was placed under a gracious constitution by the promise of a Saviour being given him. Under this constitution, all men have been since the fall, and will be to the end of the world. On this all God’s dealings with them have been founded.

Judging by what J. A. Haldane says here: 1) the Sinai covenant was not a covenant of works; 2) he does not view the terms old and new covenant as referring to the covenant of works and grace respectively; 3) he sees the Sinai covenant as a type and shadow of the new covenant, but not the new covenant itself; 4) he asserts that there has been one "gracious constitution", i.e. the covenant of grace, after the fall under which all men who will ever be saved have been saved. Hence, I have to conclude that Haldane viewed the Mosaic covenant as an administration of the covenant of grace, which the Jews turned into a covenant of works, but it was not identical with the new covenant administration.

My view is that there has been one covenant of grace in all ages since the fall, yet there was a pedagogical republication of the covenant of works under Moses as a central component of the Sinai covenant. Hence, the old covenant can refer to the covenant of works when it is referring to the Mosaic covenant as a republication of the covenant of works, even if the Mosaic economy was not a republication of the legal covenant simpliciter.
 

brandonadams

Puritan Board Freshman
Where does he deny that?
On the same page you quoted (see below and throughout Chap. III).
4) he asserts that there has been one "gracious constitution", i.e. the covenant of grace, after the fall under which all men who will ever be saved have been saved. Hence, I have to conclude that Haldane viewed the Mosaic covenant as an administration of the covenant of grace
That's actually the opposite of what he says. I encourage you to re-read the section (and the work as a whole). His whole argument in this section is to demonstrate why the Abrahamic Covenant (let alone the Mosaic) is not the covenant of grace. He specifically distinguishes between what he refers to as a post-fall "gracious constitution" and "the covenant of grace" (note furthermore he says that all men are under this gracious constitution). Start with his Table of Contents where he summarizes Chap. III Of the Covenant with Abraham and its supposed connexion with Baptism
Evils arising from confounding the old and new covenants. This the foundation of all Antichristian worship... The argument for infant baptism from the covenant with Abraham proceeds on a mistaken view of that covenant. It is improperly called the covenant of grace. Was not the new covenant.
starting on page 59
The argument stands thus. 'The covenant with Abraham was the covenant of grace. That children were intrested in it is evident from Gen xvii 7. "I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant to be a God to thee and to thy seed after thee," and the token of the covenant was to be given to infants. The privileges of the people of God are not diminished and consequently the same promise must still remain for their children; and baptism the token of the covenant must also be given to them.'

I have used the term covenant of grace because it is frequently though improperly applied to this subject. Many are misled by the word covenant which properly signifies an agreement. But its meaning is more extensive in Scripture. It sometimes signifies a commandment sometimes a promise. The term covenant of grace was much used by the old divines as opposed to the covenant of works. But of the latter covenant we hear nothing in the word of God. We read of no agreement entered into between God and Adam but a commandment given to the latter upon the propriety of which he was never consulted. When the apostle in writing to the Hebrews speaks of the old and new covenants he uniformly refers to the covenant at Sinai and that ratified by the blood of Jesus Christ. The covenant at Sinai could never be called a covenant of works for it was a type or shadow of the new covenant and not opposed to it although it was thus perverted by the Jews. Immediately after the fall man was placed under a gracious consitution by the promise of a Saviour being given him. Under this constitution all men have been since the fall and will be to the end of the world. On this all God's dealings with them have been founded. But people confound this gracious constitution with the accomplishment of the promise of a Saviour when the new covenant as opposed to that made at Sinai was ratified with the blood of Christ, Mat xxvi 28 and which consequently did not exist before it was shed. The apostle shews that a covenant is confirmed over the dead and that it is not of force while the appointed victim liveth Heb ix 17. But does any one seriously believe that either what they call the covenant of grace or the new covenant was just four hundred and thirty years before the old Gal iii 17 or that God with such solemnity promises by the prophet Jeremiah that the days should come when he would make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah when he was speaking of the covenant he had made with Abraham fourteen hundred years before which had never been abrogated and under which together with the Sinai covenant Israel was living at that very time[?]...

Although an oath was made to Abraham securing the blessing to all families of the earth through him, this does not prove that the covenant made with him was the new covenant, although it was intended and much calculated to give us strong consolation who live in the days of that covenant...

To call this the covenant of grace, is only calculated to mislead for surely it was peculiar to Abraham that Christ should spring from him. Had any other individual in the world believed what was promised to Abram he would have believed a falsehood. The covenant of royalty afterwards made with David may for the same reason be called the covenant of grace because it respected Christ the only Saviour; but it will be granted that the covenant as given to David was peculiar that of the fruit of his loins God would raise up Christ to sit on his throne."...

I trust my brethren who hold infant baptism on the ground of the Abrahamic covenant, will seriously and candidly examine these things. It has been clearly shewn, that the covenant with Abraham was a pecular covenant: that it consisted in the promise of his being the father of Christ, the Savior of the world.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
That's actually the opposite of what he says. I encourage you to re-read the section (and the work as a whole). His whole argument in this section is to demonstrate why the Abrahamic Covenant (let alone the Mosaic) is not the covenant of grace. He specifically distinguishes between what he refers to as a post-fall "gracious constitution" and "the covenant of grace" (note furthermore he says that all men are under this gracious constitution). Start with his Table of Contents where he summarizes Chap. III Of the Covenant with Abraham and its supposed connexion with Baptism

I reread the above section several times. Still, I think that you are right on this point; I was only summarising what appeared to be his view given the limited extract with which we were supplied. The fuller context indicates that your interpretation is correct. I must admit, however, that "gracious constitution" appears on first reading to be a reference to the covenant of grace, but the wider context reveals that that is not what he meant.
 

Jerrod Hess

Puritan Board Freshman
Informative indeed brother. Regardless of my convictions that remain, I may or may not have posted about Haldane too soon. The original work I read from was an abridged Pocket Puritans copy, so I'll have to read this work in full. Blessings to you and yours
 

brandonadams

Puritan Board Freshman
Like Haldane, make sure you read Gill carefully. He was in large agreement with the other baptists regarding the covenants, though he expressed himself in a way that is liable to misunderstanding regarding "administration" (Baptists in the 17th century also wrestled with whether or not to use the language of "administration" - see Renihan's "From Shadow to Substance" for a helpful discussion of this).

He agrees with Haldane that the Mosaic Covenant operated upon a works principle (Lev. 18:5) contrary to the Covenant of Grace, was limited to temporal life and blessing in Canaan, was the outworking of the "particular" Covenant of Circumcision, and was itself distinct from the Covenant of Grace/New Covenant. Regarding the Abrahamic Covenant, he follows Coxe quite closely
The next covenant is that made with Abraham and his seed, on which great stress is laid (Gen. 17:10-14)… Now that this covenant was not the pure covenant of grace, in distinction from the covenant of works, but rather a covenant of works, will soon be proved… that it is not the covenant of grace is clear
Body of Practical Divinity (III.I)

The covenant of circumcision, or the covenant which gave Abraham’s infant children a right to circumcision, is not the covenant of grace; for the covenant of circumcision must be more certainly, in the nature of it, a covenant of works, and not of grace. It will be freely allowed, that the covenant of grace was at certain times made, and made manifest, and applied to Abraham, and he interested in it…


[A]t the same time the covenant of circumcision was given unto him, there was an exhibition of the covenant of grace unto him: the account of both is mixed together, but then the covenant of circumcision, which was a covenant of peculiarity, belonged only to him and his natural male seed, was quite a distinct thing from the covenant of grace

Some Strictures on Mr. Bostwick’s Fair and Rational Vindication… (30-31)

For fuller quotes and elaboration, see https://contrast2.wordpress.com/2017/04/14/some-comments-on-john-gills-covenant-theology/
 

Jerrod Hess

Puritan Board Freshman
Like Haldane, make sure you read Gill carefully. He was in large agreement with the other baptists regarding the covenants, though he expressed himself in a way that is liable to misunderstanding regarding "administration" (Baptists in the 17th century also wrestled with whether or not to use the language of "administration" - see Renihan's "From Shadow to Substance" for a helpful discussion of this).

He agrees with Haldane that the Mosaic Covenant operated upon a works principle (Lev. 18:5) contrary to the Covenant of Grace, was limited to temporal life and blessing in Canaan, was the outworking of the "particular" Covenant of Circumcision, and was itself distinct from the Covenant of Grace/New Covenant. Regarding the Abrahamic Covenant, he follows Coxe quite closely




For fuller quotes and elaboration, see https://contrast2.wordpress.com/2017/04/14/some-comments-on-john-gills-covenant-theology/
Thanks for the info, I've seen your article on Gill before. The subject is not monolithic nor easy to peruse. And though Gill does note the temporal aspects of the Covenant at Sinai, and the principles of works contained in it, do note that Gill calls the Mosaic Covenant the legal administration of the Covenant of Grace in his commentary of Hebrews; though it was not a pure administration of it, albeit, contained it.
 

brandonadams

Puritan Board Freshman
I'm very curious what you think Gill means by "legal administration of the Covenant of Grace." Your signature says "The Old Covenant was a Covenant of Grace." Is that what you think Gill means? If so, can you please define what you think that means?

Gill says the Mosaic Covenant
  1. Operated upon the same principle of works of the law as the Adamic Covenant, in contrast to the principle of faith
  2. Was "a repetition, and a new edition of the covenant made with Adam."
  3. Mosaic law was delivered to Israel on Sinai as a typical covenant of works for temporal life and blessing in Canaan
  4. "the works it required were typical of Christ's obedience to the law, in the room and stead of his people, by which he fulfilled it"
  5. was mediated by Moses
  6. made with the whole nation of Israel
  7. began at Mt. Sinai
Yet he says the covenant of grace during it's Old administration
  1. Operated upon the principle of faith, not works
  2. Blessings included regeneration, spiritual circumcision, sanctification, salvation and redemption in Christ
  3. Was mediated by Christ
  4. Was made with the elect alone
  5. Began right after the fall
Clearly Gill does not think that the Mosaic Covenant and the Old Administration of the Covenant of Grace are equivalent. Rather, he believes they are related such that the Mosaic Covenant of Works "manifested," "exhibited," "displayed," "held forth" the Covenant of Grace and was thereby an "administration" and "application" of the Covenant of Grace (which was made in eternity past) to the elect during the Old Testament. In other words, the Mosaic Covenant revealed aspects of the gospel through types and shadows such that men could understand and believe the gospel and thereby be saved. If you read Doctrinal Divinity IV.III titled "Of the Exhibitions of the Covenant of Grace Under the Mosaic Dispensation" you will see that his explanation is simply a list of all the ways in which Christ was typified during the Mosaic Covenant. That is what Gill means by "administration of the covenant of grace" and that is no different from what 1689 Federalism believes in principle. Yet that is different from what Westminster Federalism means by the term. Note the OPC Report on Republication
the idea that the Mosaic covenant is in substance or kind a “works” covenant, but at the same time an aspect of the administration of the covenant of grace, seems to create a hybrid position that combines elements of positions that viewed themselves as alternatives to one another. Simply stated, there were really only two categorical options for speaking of the Mosaic covenant within the systemic framework of historic Reformed covenant theology, with various other possible permutations under each.

The Mosaic covenant was either a covenant of grace that differed only in administration from the Abrahamic and new covenants (among others), or it was a substantially distinct covenant that stood in essential contrast to grace.
 

Jerrod Hess

Puritan Board Freshman
I'm very curious what you think Gill means by "legal administration of the Covenant of Grace." Your signature says "The Old Covenant was a Covenant of Grace." Is that what you think Gill means? If so, can you please define what you think that means?

Gill says the Mosaic Covenant
  1. Operated upon the same principle of works of the law as the Adamic Covenant, in contrast to the principle of faith
  2. Was "a repetition, and a new edition of the covenant made with Adam."
  3. Mosaic law was delivered to Israel on Sinai as a typical covenant of works for temporal life and blessing in Canaan
  4. "the works it required were typical of Christ's obedience to the law, in the room and stead of his people, by which he fulfilled it"
  5. was mediated by Moses
  6. made with the whole nation of Israel
  7. began at Mt. Sinai
Yet he says the covenant of grace during it's Old administration
  1. Operated upon the principle of faith, not works
  2. Blessings included regeneration, spiritual circumcision, sanctification, salvation and redemption in Christ
  3. Was mediated by Christ
  4. Was made with the elect alone
  5. Began right after the fall
Clearly Gill does not think that the Mosaic Covenant and the Old Administration of the Covenant of Grace are equivalent. Rather, he believes they are related such that the Mosaic Covenant of Works "manifested," "exhibited," "displayed," "held forth" the Covenant of Grace and was thereby an "administration" and "application" of the Covenant of Grace (which was made in eternity past) to the elect during the Old Testament. In other words, the Mosaic Covenant revealed aspects of the gospel through types and shadows such that men could understand and believe the gospel and thereby be saved. If you read Doctrinal Divinity IV.III titled "Of the Exhibitions of the Covenant of Grace Under the Mosaic Dispensation" you will see that his explanation is simply a list of all the ways in which Christ was typified during the Mosaic Covenant. That is what Gill means by "administration of the covenant of grace" and that is no different from what 1689 Federalism believes in principle. Yet that is different from what Westminster Federalism means by the term. Note the OPC Report on Republication
With all due respect brother I simply believe Gill, despite his confessions of temporal and work principle aspects of the Mosaic Covenant, that the underpinning and foundation of the covenant was one of the many economies/eras/dispensations of the covenant of grace. You yourself know, those former diagrams that your camp has drawn up, and advertised as pertaining to clarify positions. (the circles, with things in common, and things not in common.) To the which, the "20th century Baptist" position is asterisked, with the words "not exclusive to 20th century, men such as John Gill have held similar views". Now, are you saying that he wasn't one covenant multiple administrations, or was? Because between your words, and that diagram, you have me confused.

Also, I tip my hat to you in studying the intricacies of covenant; but I am a mere layman, my expertise is not covenant. Although I whole heartedly disagree with the idea of 1689 Federalism, maybe I could use more study in the subject as to why I disagree, and keep up the pace in conversation with men like you.

I'll be bowing out of the extended conversation for now, but thank you for your correction about Haldane and sharpening in general. Blessings
 

brandonadams

Puritan Board Freshman
With all due respect brother I simply believe Gill, despite his confessions of temporal and work principle aspects of the Mosaic Covenant, that the underpinning and foundation of the covenant was one of the many economies/eras/dispensations of the covenant of grace.
I'm not really sure what that means.

You yourself know, those former diagrams that your camp has drawn up, and advertised as pertaining to clarify positions. (the circles, with things in common, and things not in common.) To the which, the "20th century Baptist" position is asterisked, with the words "not exclusive to 20th century, men such as John Gill have held similar views". Now, are you saying that he wasn't one covenant multiple administrations, or was? Because between your words, and that diagram, you have me confused.
That diagram was made when I had only brief familiarity with Gill, having only seen the initial statements where he mentions "administration of the covenant of grace." The above is the result of more in-depth study of the subject.

Although I whole heartedly disagree with the idea of 1689 Federalism, maybe I could use more study in the subject as to why I disagree
I think that would be a good idea, as many who think they disagree have realized they don't after further study. https://cbtseminary.org/covenant-theology-the-2lbc-cbts/
 
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