The manifold vvisedome of God In the divers dispensation of grace by Iesus Christ, In the Old New Testament. In the covenant of faith. workes. Their agreement and difference. By G. Walker, B.D. pastor of Saint Iohn the Evangelist in Watlingstreet.
Walker, George, 1581?-1651.
Page  132

CHAP. XVI. The Differences.

BVt the differences between them* are many and great. First, they differ in the manner of requiring obe∣dience to the law, and exacting good workes. The Covenant of Moses requires, that a man shold first endea∣vour to fulfill the whole law, that thereby he may be justified, and live; and if he cannot do so, that then he should flie to sacrifices for sinne, and free-will offerings, and in them, as in types, to Christ and his righteous∣nesse and obedience, that there he may finde that which by the law he cannot obtaine. But the Covenant of the Gospel requires that a man should first renounce himselfe, and all his owne righteousnesse, and seeke salvation and righteousnesse in Christ by faith, and that being justified by grace in Christ, he should by way of thankfulnesse labour to the utmost, Page  133 to bring forth all fruites of holinesse, righteousnesse, and obedience to all Gods commandements, and that for this end, that he may glorifie God, adorne his profession, and be more and more assured of his communion with Christ, and sincere love to God.

Secondly, these Covenants differ * in matter and substance. The matter and substance of the Covenant made by the Ministery of Moses, it was mixt, it was partly conditionall, and partly absolute; partly legall, and partly Evangelicall; it required to justification both workes and faith, but after a divers manner, and it was a mixt Covenant of two divers Co∣venants, both the Covenant of Workes, and the Covenant of Grace.

First, it required workes, that men should doe the workes of the Law and live, and this it did by way of the first Covenant. For the morall Law written in two Tables of stone, and consisting of the ten Comman∣dements which God spake from mount Sinai, is called by the name of Page  134 a Covenant, Deut. 4. 13. He decla∣red to you (saith Moses there) his Covenant which he commanded you to performe, even ten Commande∣ments, and he wrote them upon two Tables of Stone, and Deuter. 9. vers. 9. These two Tables are called the tables of the Covenant: by these testi∣monies it is plain that the law was gi∣ven to Israel as a Covenant which required obedience for justification and life.

Secondly, this Covenant given by Moses, promised Christ, and requi∣red that whēsoever they failed in their obedience to the Law, they should flee to sacrifices and sinne-offerings, which were Types of Christ, and did prefigure, signifie and seale his satis∣faction and atonement for sinne, and that by faith they should seeke righ∣teousnesse and satisfaction in him, and shoul rest upon those promises which God made with their Fathers, that in Christ the blessed seed all Nations of the earth should be bles∣sed. And this is the second, even the Evangelicall part of the Covenant, Page  135 and is called by the name of another Covenant, Deut. 29. 2. For indeed this is the Covenant of Grace, as the other part is the Covenant of Works. This GOD propounds absolutely, the other is conditionall, that a man shall doe it if hee can, and if hee can doe it hee shall live; if hee can∣not, that he should flee by faith to Christ, foreshadowed in types, and promised to the Fathers. Thus the Covenant which God made with Is∣rael, was not a simple, but a mixt Co∣venant, and the matter of it was mixt. But the Covenant of Grace in the Gospell is simple without mixture, and propounds no other way to sal∣vation, but onely in and through Ie∣sus Christ; no justification but that which is by faith in Christs obedi∣ence, without our owne workes. This is a second difference.

The rest of the maine differences* are plainely laid downe by the Apo∣stle Paul, 2 Cor. 3. One is, that the Covenant which God made with Is∣rael, was an old Covenant. For it is called by the Apostle 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Page  136vers. 14. But the Covenant made with all Nations by the Gospell, is called 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the New Covenant, vers. 6. Now the Covenant with Is∣rael may truely bee called Old, and is so indeed in respect of the Co∣venant under the Gospell, for two reasons.

First, because the legall part of it, which was the Covenant of Workes laid downe in the ten Commande∣ments of the Law written in Tables of Stone, is in substance all one with the first Covenant which God made with Man in the state of Innocency; the summe of both is that one thing, Doe this and live.

Secondly, because the Evangeli∣cal part of it, which promised life and righteousnesse in Christ the promised seed, was given after the old manner, as it was to the Fathers before the Law, that is, in generall, darke and obscure promises, & did shew Christ onely afarre off, to come in the lat∣ter ages of the world. But the Cove∣nant of the Gospel is every way new. It is made with us after a new maner; Page  137 It sheweth Christ already come, and that most plainely, and it hath no re∣liques of the Old Covenant of works in it, but teacheth justificatiō by faith without works, even by communion of Christ and of his righteousnesse alone, without any concurrence of our own righteousnesse and workes of the Law concurring for justifica∣tion.

Another difference wch the Apostle* makes betweene these Covenants, is, that the one is the Letter, the other the Spirit. For so he affirmes▪ ver. 6 Now the reasons of this are two especially: The first reason why the Covenant with Israel is called the letter and the Covenant of the Gospel the Spirit, is because Moses who was the mediator of the Covenant with Israel, did give onely the Letter of the Covenant, that is, the Law and the Covenant written in Tables and in Letters, but he could not give the Spirit to make them un∣derstand the Covenant, nor any inward grace and ability to make them keepe it. But Christ the Me∣diator, by whose Ministery the Co∣venant Page  138 of the Gospell is given, hath also the Holy Ghost in himselfe without measure, which Spirit he by his Word, and together with the word of the Covenant, sends into our hearts, and enables us to beleeve and to keepe the Covenant. And as Iohn the Baptist, comparing himselfe and his ministery with the ministery of Christ, saith, I baptize you with water, but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire; that is, I give onely the outward signe, but he gives the inward grace: So it may be said of Moses and Christ, that Mo∣ses gave onely the letter or writing of the Covenant; but Christ gives the word, and with it the Spirit of Grace also, which makes it effectuall to sal∣vation. And therefore the Covenant, as it proceeds from Moses, and comes by his Ministery, is but a letter; but that which Christ gave as Media∣tour, is the Spirit.

Another Reason may be drawne from the manner of giving. Moses gave the Covenant written in Letters which many could see, but could not Page  139 read; and many could read, and could not understand; and many could un∣derstand literally, after a naturall and carnall manner according to the pro∣per literall sense, but they could not understand the words spiritually ac∣cording to the spirituall sense, they could not see nor discerne the true scope, end, and use of the Words. But Christ did preach the Covenant of the Gospell, by a lively voyce, in words easie to be understood, which did not onely sound in the eares, but also pierce into the hearts and spirits of the hearers, and did shew not onely the matter, but also the manner, end, and use of every thing, and how the Law and Commandements doe not onely binde the outward man, and require the outward act; but also do binde the inward man, even the soule and spirit, and doe require all holy thoughts, motions & dispositions of the heart and soul: and thus the words of the New Covenant are fit Instru∣ments of the Spirit, and the Spirit doth worke powerfully by them.

Another difference laid downe by*Page  140 the Apostle, verse 13, 14, 18. is, that there was a vaile before the Cove∣nant with Israel, which hindred their sight, so that the people could not looke into the end, nor see the right use of the Law and the ceremonies thereof. But the Covenant of the Gospell is given with much evidence of speech, and therein we all with open face behold, as in a glasse, the glory of the Lord. Now this vaile consisted of two parts: The first was the darknesse and blindnesse of their hearts, and the weaknesse of their sight: The second was the obscurity and darknesse of the Covenant it selfe, which both in respect of the words, and also of the Seales, the Types and Figures, was very darke, and hard to be understood: First, the people themselves were naturally by reason of originall corruption blinde and ignorant, and not able to see the right end and use of the Law and Covenant; yea, their sight was so weake, that they could no more looke upon Gods glory, then the weake eye of a man can looke upon Page  141 the bright Sunne when it shineth in full strength; and therefore being not able to looke upon the glory of God shining in the Covenant, they could in no case see into the end and use of it, and so their owne weake∣nesse and blindnesse was a vaile unto them, and is this day to all the Iewes, till their hearts be converted to the Lord, vers. 16. and till he powres out his Spirit on them. Secondly, the words of the Covenant were spoken, and the Seales and Ceremonies or∣dained after such an obscure manner, that a vaile of darknesse did hang over them, till Christ by his actuall fulfilling of them, and by the words of the New Covenant in the Gospel, did make all plaine, and pull away the vaile of darknesse. This obscurity of the Covenant proceeded from three speciall causes; the first was Gods hi∣ding and concealing of his purpose in the giving of the Law. For his purpose in giving the Morall Law, was not that Israel should doe it and be justified thereby, which after mans fall and corruption is impossible; Page  142 but onely to teach them and us what is true and perfect righteousnesse which leadeth unto life, and to make all men examine themselves by it as by a rule; that by it finding them∣selves destitute of righteousnesse, and utterly unable to performe righteous∣nesse, they might be driven out of themselves, and so prepared to re∣ceive Christ, and embrace his righte∣ousnesse. Also Gods purpose and counsell in giving the Ceremoniall law, was not that men should per∣forme them as any part of righteous∣nesse to justification; neither did he ordaine them to be of themselves pur∣gations from sinne, and expiations of iniquity, but onely to be Types foreshadowing Christ, and his all-suf∣ficient sacrifice, and seales of the Co∣venant wch did seal it, not by any ver∣tue in them, but by vertue of Christs which they signified. Now though this was Gods counsell and purpose in giving the law morall and Cere∣moniall. yet he did conceale, and not in plaine words expresse it; he told them not that he meant by putting Page  143 them upon the performance of the law, to make them find out their own weaknesse and insufficiency, and thereupon flee to Christ the end of the law, and the substance of the Ce∣remonies and sacrifices:

But contrarily he required their performance of the Law for the ob∣taining of life, and did so speake as though it had beene possible for them to fulfill it, and to be justified there∣by; and so they commonly did under∣stand his words erroniously, even as the Papists doe at this day, thinking that God would never have com∣manded them to doe the Law, if hee had not knowne that it was in their power to doe it, as he commanded; and this was the first cause of the ob∣scurity of that Covenant.

The second cause, was the mixture of the legall part of the Covenant with the Evangelicall, and the joy∣ning of them both as it were in one continued speech. For first God re∣quired by the morall law, that they should do it for the obtaining of life; then immediatly he addes unto it the Page  144 ceremoniall law, and ordained sacrifi∣ces for sin (which did declare them to be sinners, and so destitute of righte∣ousnesse) and gave them divers types and shadowes of Christ, and by that law he required obedience and do∣ing, upon paines of death and cutting off, so that the people of Israel did still imagine themselves to be in the Covenant of workes; and from that manner of speech used by God, and from the title of laws and statutes which God gave to the Ceremonies, and from the words before going, they gathered that the sacrifices, obla∣tions, and other rites were rather laws to be observed for righteousnesse, then seales of the Covenant of grace, and signes of Christ and his righte∣ousnesse; they thought the use of them to consist in doing, not in signifying, and stirring up of faith to lay hold on Christ: and this was a second cause of the darknesse of that Covenant.

The third cause was the great pe∣nurie, and scarcitie of Evangelicall promises in that Covenant, and the great inequality and disproportion Page  145 which was betweene them and the legall Commandements of Workes. For in that Covenant we finde few promises of life & salvation, but only upon condition of Workes. Christ is very seldome pointed at in plaine words. The Evangelicall promises as they are rare & very few in all the Bookes of the Law which God gave them by Moses; so they are either very generall, or else very obscure, more then those which were given to the Fathers long before: But the Legall Commandements and Pro∣mises are many, and those very plaine in every place.

And this was a speciall cause which made the people of Israel to misconstrue the meaning of that Co∣venant, and to thinke that all salva∣tion was to be obtained by Workes; and thus the Covenant was obscure, and the end thereof was hid from their sight, they could not understand the true use of the Types and Cere∣monies. But the Covenant of the Gospell is made in such plain words, and doth after such a lively manner Page  146 set forth Christ and his perfect Ran∣some, satisfaction and righteousnesse unto us, and the true way to justifica∣tion and salvation by faith in him, that the most simple may understand it; and with that plaine Doctrine and multitude of Promises the Spirit of God workes powerfully, and is gi∣ven by Christ in such measure to all sorts of people, that the darkenesse of their hearts is abolished also, and so there is no vaile, neither over their hearts, nor over the Covenant it selfe; but as Christ is plainely offe∣red in the Word, so their hearts are enlightned and enabled to looke on his glory, and they are transformed into the same image; and hereupon there comes to be great difference in this respect betweene the Covenant of the Gospell, and the Covenant of the Law which God gave by Mo∣ses.

From these two last Differences, there doe arise others which are there laid downe by the Apostle also; to wit, That the Old Covenant of the Law is the ministery of death, but the Page  147 Covenant of the Gospell is the mini∣stery of the Spirit and of Life, 2 Cor. 3. 7. The Old is the occasion of sinne, and so the ministery of con∣demnation; the New, of righteous∣nesse to justification. The Old brings bondage, the New liberty. The Old is lesse glorious, and yet dazled the eyes of the Israelites, that they could not looke on it stedfastly; The New is full of glory, and yet we can behold in it with open face the glory of God, verse 18. These particular Differences are all named and noted by the Apostle, and they doe arise from the two last going before. For Reason tells us, that be∣cause the Old Covenant was given by the Ministery of Moses a fraile man, and was darke and obscure, sub∣ject to be misconstrued, and was not plainely preached by lively voyce, but onely written in dead Letters in Tables of Stone; therefore it was no fit instrument for the Spirit to worke by; the Spirit did not worke by it such plenty of Knowledge, Faith, and other Graces. It did onely Page  148 shew them what they should do, but enabled them not to do any thing, ra∣ther made them: more sinfull, in pro∣voking their corrupt naturewch more lusts after evils forbidden; & it made their sins more wilfull, which before were done in ignorance; and thus it became the Ministery of Sin, Death, and Condemnation unto them. It al∣so brought them into bondage, by shewing them their slavish condition, & giving them no grace to flee from that miserable estate. It dazled their eyes, because it shewed them the glo∣rious Majestie & Iustice of God; but gave them not the Grace of the Spi∣rit, to strengthen their sight, to looke with boldnesse and comfort upon Gods majesticall justice. But because the Covenant of the Gospell is made in plain words, and given by a Medi∣atour who hath also the disposing of the Spirit, & dispensing of Spirituall Grace; therefore it is a fit instrument for the Spirit to worke by, & the Spi∣rit goeth forth in great power, by, and with the publication of it, which re∣generates men, & renues their hearts, Page  149 knits thē into one Body with Christ, gives them the Communion of all his Righteousnesse and Obedience to ju∣stification of Life, frees them from all feare and bondage, makes them run freely and willingly in the way to life, and in the pathes of Gods Com∣mandements; enables them to stand boldly before the glorious Tribunall of Gods Iustice, and gives them an heavenly eye-salve to their sight, that they may stedfastly behold GODS glory in the face of Iesus Christ. And thus in those respects those two Co∣venants doe much differ betweene themselves.

The last difference is named by the Apostle in the 11 verse, and it is this, That the Covenant of the Law given by Moses, and the glory there∣of vanishes, and is done away: but the Covenant of the Gospell, and the glory thereof abideth for ever. Which Difference is thus to be un∣derstood, not that the substance of the Law, or the righteousnesse there∣of ceaseth at any time, neither that the Evangelical promises which were in∣termingled Page  150 in that Covenant, are a∣bolished together with the Types and Ceremonies. These things are in no case to be granted: for the Law of God is an eternall rule of Truth and Iustice, & by the righteousnesse, obe∣dience and fulfilling thereof all the Elect shall be justified, and saved for ever. This our Saviour testifieth, say∣ing, Think not that I am come to de∣stroy the Law, but to fulfill it; for veri∣ly, till heaven and earth passe, not one jot or title of the Law shall passe, Mat. 5. 17. Also his blessed Apostle, Rom. 3. 31. Doe we then make void the Law through faith? God forbid; yea, we e∣stabish the Law, & Rom. 10. 4 Christ is the end or fulfilling of the Law for righteousness to every beleever. And if we rightly consider the Ceremonies and the promises given to Israel, wee shall perceive that Christ was the Bo∣dy & substance of them all; and there∣fore so long as hee abideth, the sub∣stance of them abideth firme & sure, and doth not vanish. Wherefore the Law & Covenant wch God gave by Moses doth vanish and is abolished onely in three respects.

Page  151First, in respect of the extreme rigour thereof; for as it was given to Israel it required obedience of every man in his owne person to justifica∣tion and life; but now it onely re∣quires that a man have that righte∣ousnesse which is a perfect conformi∣ty to it, though performed by his surety and mediatour, and that shall sufficiently save him. Before it did require perfect righteousnesse, upon paine of damnation, performed by every man himselfe, and threatned a curse to every breach of it. Now it bindes a man himselfe to performe no more then he is able; if hee doth his best, and brings a willing minde, God accepts the will for the deed; because now we are not to obey the Law for justification; Christ hath done that for us. Now we are to obey it in thankfulnesse and in imitation of Christ, that we may be conforma∣ble to his Image, and by holinesse made fit to see God, and to injoy the inheritance which Christ hath pur∣chased for us.

Secondly, the Law and Covenant Page  152 givē by Moses is abolished in respect of the outward administration. Their obedience to the morall Law was first preached; and afterwards the sacrifice of Christ was promised in types and figures. But now Christ is first preach∣ed, and then after justification in him, the Law is set as a rule to walk by in the wayes of sanctification; and also to shew how it is impossible to finde perfect righteousnes, & to be justified and saved, but only in Christ. There the promises were set forth and sealed darkly in types and figures, but now these figures and ceremonies are cea∣sed, and Christ the substance of them is set forth naked in his owne colours before our eyes.

Thirdly, the Covenant given by Moses may be said to vanish and be abolished in respect of the light and glory of it. For the light and glory of it, which it then had, is swallowed up of the great light of the Gospell. The glory of it was but like a dimme light or candle, but the glory of the Gospell is like the light of the Sunne at noone day, so Page  153 that before it the light of the Law is put out, and appeares no more then the light of a Candle in the bright Sun-shine. Now the Apostle tels us, that, When that which is perfect is*come, then that which is in part is a∣bolished. And in our common speech we say, that the brightnes of the Sun destroyeth and putteth out the light of a Candle, that it is as good as no∣thing; and so wee may in the same sense say, that the Covenant of the Law is abolished in respect of the light and glory of it; For the glory of it which was but in part is swal∣lowed up by the great light of the glorious Gospell. But the Cove∣nant of the Gospell abideth in all respects firme and sure for ever, and we must never expect a plainer re∣newing of it to the end of the world. And thus I have out of the holy Scriptures, and especially from the words of the Apostle discovered plainely the agreement and difference betweene the mixt Covenant which God made with Israel by Moses, and the pure and simple Covenant Page  154 of Grace made with all Nations in the Gospell, and published by Christ and his holy Apostles and Evange∣lists.