Christ’s Sevenfold Relation to the Covenant of Grace

screenshot-2016-12-12-02-14-42The Trial and Triumph of Faith

Sermon VII, pp. 75-82

[Christ hath a sevenfold relation to the covenant. 1st, He is the Covenant itself. 2nd, The Messenger. 3rd, The witness. 4th, The Surety. 5th, The Mediator. 6th, The Testator. 7th, The principal party contractor.][1]

The parties of the covenant are God and man. Oh, how sweet! that such a potter, and such a former of all things, should come in terms of bargaining with such clay, as is guilty before him! Now, the parties here, on the one part, is GOD; on the other, the Mediator, Christ, and the children that the Lord gave him. Observe, (1.) In the covenant of nature and works, God and his friend Adam were parties contracting; and in the second covenant, God, and his fellow, Christ, and all his, are parties. A covenant of peace cannot be between an enemy and an enemy, as they are such; those who were enemies, must lay down wrath, ere they can enter into covenant. Contraries, as contraries, cannot be united. God being the sole author of this covenant, did lay aside enmity first. Love must first send out love, as fire must cast out heat. It is true, this covenant is made with sinners, (as God made the covenant of nature with Adam, yet righteous,) but an union covenant-wise could never have been, except God had in a manner bowed to us, and grace proved out of measure gracious.

Christ is the party here; so, Christ hath a sevenfold relation. (1.) As he is more than a creature, he is the Covenant itself. (2.) As he dealeth between the parties, he is the Messenger of the covenant. (3.) As he saw and heard, and testifieth all, he is the Witness of the covenant. (4.) As he undertaketh for the parties at variance, he is the Surety of the covenant. (5.) As he standeth between the contrary parties, he is the Mediator of the covenant. (6.) As he signeth the covenant, and closeth all the articles, he is the Testator of the covenant. (7.) As he is a side, or the half of the covenant, he is the Party contracting in the covenant.

For the first: “I gave thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles.” (Isa. 42:6.) “I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people.” (Isa. 49:8.) Christ, God and man, is all the covenant: (1.) Because he is given to fulfill the covenant on both sides. (2.) He is the covenant in the abstract; he is very peace and reconciliation itself, “And this man shall be the peace, when the Assyrian shall come into our land.” (Mic. 5:5.) As fire is hot for itself, and all things hot for it, and by participation, so thou art in so far in covenant with Christ, as thou hast any thing of Christ. Want Christ, and want peace and the covenant.

2. “The Lord whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the Messenger or Angel of the covenant, whom ye delight in.” (Mal. 3:2.) Christ travelleth with tidings between the parties. (1.) He reporteth of God to us, “That it is his Father’s will that we be saved.” (John 6:39.) (2.) Christ reporteth of himself, for it setteth Christ to be a broker for Christ; and Wisdom to cry in the streets, Who will have me? (Prov. 1:20-22; and 9:1-5.) It became the Lord Jesus to praise himself, “I am that Bread of life: I am the Light of the world;” (John 6:48; and 8:12.) “I am the door.” (10:9.) And “I am the good Shepherd.” (verse 11.) (3.) He praiseth his Father, “My Father is the good husbandman.” (John 15.) (4.) He suiteth us in marriage, and commendeth his Father, and our father-in-law. You marry me, dear souls; Oh, but my Father is a great person: “In my Father’s house are many dwelling-places.” (John 14:2.) (5.) He commendeth us to the Father: a messenger making peace will do all this, “They have received thy words, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.” (John 17:18.) “O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee, but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.” (verse 25.) Ministers cannot speak of Christ and his Father, as he can do himself. Oh, come! hear Christ speak of Christ, and of his Father, and of heaven, for he saw all. O sweet believer! Christ giveth thee a good report in heaven; the Father and the Son are speaking of thee behind backs. A good report in heaven is of much esteem; Christ spake more good of thee than thou art all worth. He telleth over again Ephraim’s prayers behind his back. (Jer. 30:18.) Oh, woe to thee! Christ is telling black tidings of thee in heaven: Such a man will not believe in me; he hateth me, and my cause and my people. Christ cannot lie of any man.

3. Christ is an eye-witness of the covenant, and heard and saw all. The whole covenant was a bloody act, acted upon his person, “Behold I have given him for a witness to the people.” (Isa. 55:4.) “The faithful Witness,” (Rev. 1:5,) “The Amen, the faithful and true Witness.” (3:14.) The covenant saith, (1.) “The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost;” (Luke 19:10). Amen, saith Christ, I can witness that to be true. (2.) Christ died and rose again, for sinners. Amen, saith the Witness, “I was dead, and behold I live for evermore. Amen.” (Rev. 1:18.) Christ putteth his seal to that: “This is a true and faithful saying, that Christ Jesus came into the world to die for sinners.” I can swear that is true, saith Christ. (3.) The world shall have an end, (saith the covenant,) and time shall be no more. “By him who liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven and earth,” saith this angel witness, (Rev. 10:6,) that is most true; “Time shall be no more.” It is a controversy to the world, if eternity be coming. Christ endeth the controversy with an oath. (4.) Christ shall judge the world, and all shall bow to me: This Amen of God saith, that is true, “For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me.” (Rom. 14:11.) The covenant of works had a promise: but because it was, (1.) Conditional; (2.) To be broken and done away; it had no oath of God, as this hath. O doubting soul! thou sayest that thy salvation is not sure. Why? And it is a sworn article of the covenant; thou hast Christ’s great oath on it. Alas! God loveth not me. Hast thou the Son? Thou hast a true testimony it is not so; and “A faithful witness will not lie.” (Prov. 14:5.) Christ has cause to remember that thou art saved; he beareth the marks of it in his body. Atheist! thou sayest, Who knoweth there is a heaven and a hell? Why, the witness of the covenant saith, I was in both, and saw both.

4. “Christ is the surety of the better covenant;” (Heb. 7:22;) and in this, the Father is surety for Christ. If he undertake for David and Hezekiah, (Psalm 119:122; Isa. 38:14,) far more for his own Son. God hath given his word for Christ that he shall do the work, “Behold my righteous servant shall deal prudently;” (Isa. 52:13,) and “Behold the Lord God will help me:” (Isa. 50:9:) And again, the Son is surety to the Father, and the great undertaker, that God shall fulfill his part of the covenant; that the Father shall give a kingdom to his flock, (Luke 12:32; John 6:37-39). (1.) Christ, as surety for us, hath paid a ransom for us; (2.) Giveth a new heart to his fellow-confederates; (3.) And is engaged “to lose none of them,” (John 17:12,) “but raise them up at the last day.” (John 6:39.) If we could surrender ourselves to Christ’s undertaking, and get once a word that he is become good to the Father for us, all were well. Woe to him who is that loose man, as he has not Christ under an act and bond of surety, that he shall keep him to the day of God! We make loose bargains in the behalf of our souls.

5. As Christ standeth between the two parties, he is the great Lord Mediator of the new covenant, (Heb. 12:24). (1.) Substantially. Our text calleth him, Lord, the Son of David. By condition of nature, he hath something of God, as being true God, and something of man, as sharing with us. Hence is he mediator by office, and layeth his hands on both parties, as a day’s-man doth: (Job 9:33). In which, he hath a threefold relation: (1.) Of a friend to both; he hath God’s heart for man, to be gracious, and satisfy mercy; and a man’s heart for God to satisfy justice. (2.) Of a reconciler, to make two one; to bring down God to a treaty of peace; to take him off law, and high demands of law, which sought personal satisfaction of us; and in his body, to bring us up to God by a ransom paid, and by giving us faith, to draw near to his Father. So he may say, Sister and spouse, come up now to my Father, and your Father; to my God, and your God; and Father; come down to my brethren, my kindred, and flesh. (3.) He is a common servant to both: God’s servant, in a hard piece of service as ever was, “Behold my servant,” (Isa. 52:13; 42:1,) and “My righteous servant:” (Isa. 53:11:) Yea, and our servant, “He came not to be served, but to serve, and give his life a ransom for many.” (Matt. 20:28.) Alas! both parties did smite him: “It pleased the Lord to bruise him.” (Isa. 53:10.) “God spared not his own Son,” (Rom. 8:32;) and the other party, his own, smote him: “This is the heir; come, let us kill him, (say they,) and seize on the inheritance.” (Matt. 21:38.) This was cold encouragement to sweet Jesus. If it had been referred to us, for shame, we could not have asked God to be a suffering Mediator for us. There is more love in Christ, than angels and men could fathom in their conceptions.

6. The covenant is the testament of our dead friend, Jesus; he died to confirm the testament. (Heb. 9:16,17.) Every blood could not seal the covenant. Christ’s blood, as dying, sealed the everlasting covenant. (Heb. 13:20.) It both expiated the sins of the covenanters, and also, brought back the great Shepherd of the sheep from death: for, Christ having once paid blood, and died, it was free to the surety to come out of prison, when he had paid the sum.

7. The seventh relation of Christ maketh way to the parties. And here, Christ cometh under a double consideration; one as God; so he is one with the Father and Spirit, and the Lord and the author of the covenant. (2.) As Mediator; and so, he is on our side of the covenant. Then is the covenant made with Christ, and all his heirs and assignees, principally with Christ, and with Abraham’s nature in him; but personally, with believers. [1.] The Scripture saith so, “The promise (or covenant), is made to Abraham and to his seed: he saith not, And to seeds, as of many, but as of one: And to thy seed, which is Christ. (Gal. 3:16.) I grant, Beza, Piscator, and many, expound Christ, for mystical Christ; for, (say they,) it cannot be meant of Christ personally, for so it should fight with the scope of Paul, who proveth the promise of life eternal to be made to all believers. [2.] It should [otherwise] follow, that life eternal is given to Christ only. But, with leave, this is not sure; for the truth is, the promise is neither made to Christ’s person singly considered, nor to Christ mystical: for, {1.} The promise is made to Christ, in whom the covenant was confirmed. (verse 17.) {2.} In whom the nations were blessed. (verse 14.) {3.} In whom we “receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” (verse 14.) Who was “made a curse for us.” (verse 13.) Now, not any of these can agree with Christ mystical. Christ mystical did not confirm the covenant, nor give the Spirit, nor was he made a curse; but Christ mediator, is he to whom the promises are made, and in him, to all his heirs and kindred, not simply in his person, but as a public person and Mediator.

[1] This is a summary from the Table of Contents found on p. xiv.

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