Wilhelmus A'Brakel on the National Covenant

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Backwoods Presbyterian

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I just read in TCRS Vol. II, pg. 64 in the context of whether or not a person can rightfully deny themselves the Lord's Supper in a degenerative Church (A'Brakel means here a Protestant church and he thinks you cannot and that regardless of the state of the Church you should still take the sacraments), A'Brakel makes mention of the "Covenant of the Old Testament" and says this:
"The Covenant of the Old Testament was not an external covenant, but was none other than the covenant of grace, having the promise of both this present and future life, that is, of both spiritual and temporal benefits, such as in the present case [here referring back to the NT Sacraments]. If one wishes to refer to [the Old Testament] as a National Covenant/I], one is merely saying that the covenant of grace was established with that nation. That it is called a typical covenant is in consequence of it typifying the entire ministry of the coming Messiah."


Puritan Board Sophomore
I am in the process right now of writing a paper on the differences and comparison of the Mosaic and the new covenant; including how it relates as a covenant of works and grace.
Herman Witsius said something similar.

“It was a national covenant between God and Israel, whereby Israel promised to God a sincere obedience to all his precepts, especially to the ten words; God on the other hand promised to Israel , such an observance would be acceptable to him, nor want reward, both in life, and in that which is to come, both as to soul and body. This reciprocal promise supposed a promise of grace.” Page 186, volume 2 of The Economy of the Covenants between God and Man.

I do not personally deny the elements of grace associated with this covenant, however this same covenant is looked to as law, just as in the Adamic sense not eating of the fruit of the knowledge of Good and Evil is law and thus associated with a covenant of works as the Adamic covenant is defined. A recent example of the Adamic covenant being that of a covenant of works can been seen in Jeffrey Nichaus recent work on the origin of covenantal thought.

I do think Mosaic covenant needs to be looked at historically first and formost and then reviewed systematically with the new covenant in Christ. I do think we can see a clear works orientation to that of the old covenant and that its these works through Christ that we receive that imputed righteousness and the law fulfilled.

I am in the early stages of my work and be willing to add more later. I may change on seeing the old covenant as a mixture of grace and works, with the focus being on works, but will see.
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