Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A.A. Hodge on God's Covenant with Man, III

The Westminster Confession of Faith defines God's relationship with Adam as "a covenant of works" (WCF 7.2).  After Adam fell that covenant of works did not disappear but remained in force and that understanding is foundational to the rest of the chapter of our confession. 

Commenting on WCF 7.3 and the phrase, "...the Lord was pleased to make a second, commonly called the covenant of grace..."  Hodge writes the following:

"Since Adam forfeited for himself and his entire race the original promise of life upon the condtion of perfect obedience, and incurred the penalty of death attached to disobedience, it follows that, if the old constitution is left without supplement or modification, man is lost.  If mankind is to be saved, there must be a new and gracious intervention on the part of God.  And if God intervenes to save men, it must be upon a definite plan, and upon certain definitely proclaimed and accurately fulfilled conditions.  That is, a new covenant must be introduced, rendering life attainable to those who are to be saved on conditions different from those offered in the preceding constitution.  The question, then, relates to what is revealed in the Scripture as to the parties to whom the promise is made, and conditions upon which it is suspended."

Hodge takes a brief detour to address, in his words, "The Arminian view" of the covenant of works before explaining the nature of Christ's work in these terms:

"The Calvinistic view, therefore, is, that God having determined to save the elect out of the mass of the race fallen in Adam, appointed his Son to become incarnate in our nature; and as the Christ, or God-man Mediator, he appointed him to be the second Adam and representative head of redeemed humanity; and as such entered into a covenant with him and with his seed in him.  In this covenant the Mediator assumes in behalf of his elect seed the broken conditions of the old covenant of works precisely as Adam left them.  Adam had failed to obey, and therefore foreited life; he had sinned, and therefore incurred the endless penalty of death.  Christ therefore suffered the penalty, and extinguished in behalf of all whom he represented the claims of the old covenant; and at the same time he rendered a perfect vicarious obedience, which was the very condition upon with eternal life had been originally offered.  All this Christ does as principal party with God to the covenant, in acting as the representative of his own people."

"Subsequently, in the administration and gracious application of this covenant, Christ the Mediator 'offers' the blessings secured by it to all men on the condition of faith; -- that is, he bids all men to lay hold of these blesssings by the instrumentality of faith, and he promises that if they do so they shall certainly enjoy them; and he, as the mediatorial Surety of his people, insures for them that their faith and obedience shall not fail."

A.A. Hodge, Westminster Confession of Faith: A Commentary. Banner of Truth reprinted 2002, pages 124-126. My emphasis.

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