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IV. Though the parties concerned in the covenant, as explained in this answer, to wit, God the Father, and Christ the Head of his elect, are both divine Persons, so that one of them is not infinitely below the other, as man is below God; and therefore it is more properly called a covenant, in this respect, than that which God is said to enter into with man, (and, if stipulation and re-stipulation is, in any respect, applicable to the divine dispensation, it may be applied in this case :) nevertheless, there are some things, which are implied in the idea of a covenant between man and man, that cannot, consistently with the glory of these divine Persons, be contained in this federal transaction between them; particularly, as he that enters into covenant with another, proposes some advantage to himself hereby: thus a master, when he stipulates with one to be his servant, is supposed as much to need his service, as the servant does the wages that he promises to give him; there is a kind of mutual advantage arising from thence: but, in the covenant of grace, whether God be said to make it with man, or with Christ, as the Head of his elect, the advantage that arises from thence is our's, and not God's. · In this respect, what was done by Christ, made no addition to the essential glory of God, or the divine blessedness, any more than man can be said, in that respect, to be profitable to him : thus some understand those words of the Psalmist, as spoken by our Saviour, when he says, My goodness extendeth not to thee, but to the saints which are in the earth, Psal. xvi. 2, 3. and this agrees very well with some other things, contained in the same Psalm, which are expressly, in other parts of scripture, applied to him; and, if so, then the meaning is, that whatever glory God the Father designed to demonstrate by this federal transaction with his Son ; yet he did not, as men do, by entering into covenant with one another, propose to receive any addition of glory from it, as though he were really to be profited thereby.
Again, when men enter into covenant with one another, they are supposed to have different wills, and accordingly they Inight refuse to enter into those engagements, which they bring themselves under, as well as comply with them; the obligation, on both sides, is founded in mutual consent, and that is supposed to be arbitrary : but, when we consider the eternal compact between the Father and the Son, we inust conclude, that though they be distinct as to their personality, yet, having the same essential perfections, the will of the Father and the Son, cannot but be the same. Therefore when
Therefore when many, who explain this doctrine, represent one as proposing, the other as complying, with the proposal; one demanding, the other expecting, and each depending on mutual promises, made by one to the other, this, it is true, seems to be founded on some scripture-expressions to the same purpose, wherein the Holy Ghost is pleased to condescend to make use of such modes of speaking, which are agreeable to the nature of human covenants, as he does in various other instances; nevertheless, we must not so far strain the sense of words, as to infer, from hence, any thing that is inconsistent with the divine glory of the Father and the Son. And to this we may add, that no act of obedience can be performed by a divine Person, in the same nature, as there cannot be an act of subjection in that nature, which is properly divine; and consequently when we con sider Christ, in this respect, as entering into covenant, and engaging to perform those conditions, which were insisted on therein, these are supposed to be performed by him, as Mediator, or God incarnate, in his human nature; and, in this respect, he is the Head of the covenant, which is made with him, and, in him, with the elect. Therefore we must suppose, when we speak of a covenant between the Father and the Son, that, whatever be the will of the Father, the same is the Son's will; and whatever conditions the Son consented to perform, as stipulated in this covenant, it was in his human nature that the work was to be done; and therefore it is well observed, in some following answers, that he, who is the Head or Mediator of this covenant, is, as it was absolutely necessary for him to be, both God and man, in one Person. But of this more hereafter.
V. There are several expressions used, in scripture, that give us sufficient ground to conclude, that there was an eternal transaction between the Father and the Son, relating to the salvation of his elect, which, if explained agreeably to the divine perfections, and consistently with the glory of each of these divine Persons, is not only an undoubted truth, but a very important article of faith, as it is the foundation of all those blessings, which are promised, and applied to us in the covenant of grace, in which is all our salvation and our hope. Here let it be considered, that, when we speak concerning a covenant, as passing between the Father and the Son, we understand thereby, that there was a mutual consent between them both, that the work of our redemption should be brought about in such a way, as it was, by our Saviour, when this eternal agreement liad its accomplishment; and accordingly the Father is said to have set him up, as the Head of his elect, from everlasting, Prov. viii. 23. and ordained, that he should execute those offices, which he was to perform, as Mediator, and receive that revenue of glory, that was the result thereof; and the Son, as having the same divine will, could not but consent to do this; and this is called, his eternal undertaking; and, both these to
gether, are styled the eternal covenant, between the Father and him.
For the proof of this doctrine, we might refer to those several scriptures that speak of our Saviour as called, and given for a covenant of the people, Isa. xlii. 6. and fore-ordained, 1 Pet. i. 20. to perform the work which he engaged in, in the behalf of his elect; and also consider him as consenting to do every thing for his people, which he did in time, and to stand in every relation to them, that was subservient to their redemption and salvation, which he could not but do, as having the same divine will with the Father; and without his consent, it could not properly be said that there was a covenant between them. We might also prove it from those several scriptures, that speak of him, as sanctified and sent into the world, John X. 36. to act as Mediator, sealed by the Father, John vi. 27. and receiving a power to lay down his life, and take it up again, John X. 18. that so he might answer the great end of our redemption thereby; and also, from his being empowered to execute the offices of a Prophet, Priest, and King; confirmed in his priestly office by the oath, Psal. cx. 4. Heb. vii. 21. of the Father, sent by him to execute his Prophetical office to those whom he was to guide in the way of salvation ; and, as God's King, set on his holy hill of Zion, Psal. i. 6. When we consider all these things done, on the Father's part, as antecedent to Christ's acting as Mediator, and, at the same time, when we compare them with other scriptures, that speak of the Son, as consenting to do the will of God, or complying with his call, willing to be and do whatever was necessary, to secure the great ends designed thereby; when we consider him, as taking the human nature into union with the divine, not without his own consent thereunto, and as bearing the punishment due to our sin, which it would not have been just for God to have inflicted, without his will or consent; I say, this mutual consent between the Father and the Son, that those things should be done which were subservient to the redemption and salvation of the elect, which the scripture is very express in giving an account of, these are a sufficient foundation for our asserting, that there was a covenant between the Father and the Son relating thereunto.
But now we shall enquire, more particularly, into the sense of those scriptures, on which this doctrine is founded. And here we cannot wholly pass over what we read, in Psal. cxix. 122. Be surety for thy servant for good; and Hezekiah's prayer, in Isa. xxxviii. 14. I am oppressed; undertake, or be surety, for me. The Hebrew words are the same in both places, and signifies, not barely to confer some privileges on persons, but to do this under the character of a surety; and therefore when VOL. II.
David and Hezekiah pray that they may be delivered, either from their enemies, or their afflictions, by addressing themselves to their Deliverer under this character, it must be supposed that they understand him, as having undertaken to be a Surety for his people, which is a character that belongs only to the Son. And since it is so evident, that his Mediatorial work and character was so well known to the Old Testament church, as their salvation was equally concerned herein with ours; and, since they are often represented as addressing themselves to him by faith and prayer, it seems more than probable that he is so considered in these texts, when it is desired that he would be surety for them, namely, that as he was appointed by the Father, and had undertaken, by his own consent, to stand in that relation, they pray that they might be made partakers of the benefits arising from thence.
There is also another scripture, in which the same word * is used, which seems to be applied to our Saviour, viz. in Jer. XXX. 21. Their nobles, or, as it ought to be rendered, in the singular number, their noble, or magnificent person, shall be of themselves, and their governor shall proceed from the midst of them; and I will cause him to draw near, and he shall approach unto me; for who is this that engaged his heart to approach to me, saith the Lord? This sense of the text is very agreeable to several other prophecies, relating to the Messiah's being of the seed of Israel; and when it is said, I will cause him to draw near, and he shall approach unto me, it implies, that he should sustain the character, and perform the work of a surety, in the behalf of his people, for that is the proper sense of the word there used; for who is this that hath engaged his heart unto me ? that is, who is there, among the sons of men, that dares engage in this work, or is qualified for it? Or it may be understood with a note of admiration ; that is, how glorious a person is this, who hath engaged his heart, or (as it was determined that he should) has freely consented to approach unto me, that is, in so doing, to act as a surety with me for my people! And that this is a more probable sense of the text, than to suppose
that it is meant either of Zerubbabel, or some other governor, that should be set over them, after the captivity, appears, if we compare it with ver. 9. in which it is said, "They shall serve the Lord their God, and David their king, which can be meant of none but Christ, inasmuch as David was dead; and none that sat on his throne, or descended from him, can
The Hebrew word in this, and the two other scriptures above mentioned, is dry zvhich signifies, In fidem suam recipere; spondere pro aliquo; and it is used in several other scriptures, in the same sense, for a person's undertaking to be a surety for another. See Gen. xliii. 6. chap. xliv. 32. Prov. xi. 15. Job xvii. 3. 2 Kings xviii. 32. and elsewhere.
be called David in this place, because divine worship is said to be performed to him, which could not be done without idolatry, which no true sense of scripture can give countenance to; and this is a character given of our Saviour in other scriptures: thus, in Ezek. xxxiv. 24. I will be their God, and my servant David a Prince among them; and, in Hos. iii. 5. They shall seek the Lord their God, and David their King, and fear the Lord and his goodness in the latter day; that is, they shall adhere, and give divine worship, to the Messiah, whom their fathers rejected, when they are converted, in the latter days. Now it is this David, their King, who is said to have engaged his heart to approach unto God; and then, in the words immea diately following, ver. 22. God reveals himself, as a covenantGod, to them, which is the consequence of Christ's engaging his heart to approach unto him: Ye shall be my people, and I will be
your God. Now this proves an eternal transaction between the Father and the Son, in that the Father wills, or determines, that he shall draw near, or approach to him, as a surety, and the Son consents, in that he has engaged his heart to do it; and all this with a design that his covenant should be established, and that he should be a God to his people.
There is another scripture which proves that there was a federal transaction between the Father and the Son, from several expressions therein used, namely, in Isa. xlii. 1, 6. which is, beyond dispute, spoken concerning our Saviour; for it is applied to him in the New Testament, Matt. xi. 18-21. Herein God the Father calls him his Servant, as denoting that it was his will, or (to use that mode of speaking, which is generally applied to covenants between man and man) that he stipu. lated with him, to perform the work which he engaged in, as Mediator, to which he is said to be called in righteousness; and, with respect to his human nature, in which he performed it, he is styled God's elect, as fore-ordained hereunto, and the person in whom his soul delighteth, as he is glorified by him in the faithful discharge thereof; and, that he might not fail therein, God promises to hold his hand, and keep him; and, as the result of his having accomplished it, to give him for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles.
And elsewhere, in Isa. xlix. 8, 9. which also appears to be spoken to Christ, not only from the context, but from the reference to it in the New Testament, 2 Cor. vi. 2. In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have i helped thee; and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages; that thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Shew yourselves, we have
plain intimation of his being ordained by the Father to per