Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A.A. Hodge on God’s Covenant with Man, I

Over the summer I've been working through the Westminster Confession of Faith. Last Sunday we covered chapter VII entitled God's Covenant with Man. This is one of those chapters with important implications for Federal Vision (FV) theology. I found Archibald Alexander Hodge to be a very reliable guide as I navigated this section of our confession.

One of the key components of the FV is God’s relationship to Adam. While the confession views the relationship in terms of Creature & Creature, the FV puts forth a Father & Son relationship. The first is probationary: the second is gracious. Follow Scripture and the Confession this is how Hodge understands God’s relationship to Adam:

“The duty which an intelligent creature owes to its Creator is inalienable, and springs necessarily, - (1.) From the absolute, imperative obligation which is of the essence of all that is morally right – which exercises authority over the will, but does not receive authority from it; and (2.) From the relation of dependence and obligation involved in the very fact of being created. To be a created, intelligent, moral agent, is to be under all the obligation of obeying the will and of living for the glory of the absolute Owner and Governor.”

“That, on the other hand, the enjoyment of the Creator’s fullness and love by the creature is a matter of sovereign grace, depending alone upon the will of the Creator, is also self-evident. The very act of creation brings the creature under obligation to the Creator, but it cannot bring the Creator into obligation to the creature. Creation itself, being a signal act of grace, cannot endow the beneficiary with a claim for more grace. If God, for instance, has created a man with an eye, it may be eminently consistent with the divine attributes, and a ground of fair anticipation, that at some time he who has given eyes will also give light; but, surely, the creation of the first can lay the foundation of no right upon the part of man for the gift of the second. And, of course, far less can the fact that in creation God endowed men with a religious nature lay the foundation of any right on their part for the infinitely more precious gift of the personal communications of his own ineffable love and grace. God cannot be bound to take all creatures naturally capable of it into the intimacies of his own society. If he does so, it is a matter of infinite condescension and sovereign will.”

A.A. Hodge, Westminster Confession of Faith: A Commentary. Banner of Truth reprinted 2002, pages 120-121. My emphasis.

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