The Covenant of Grace: Same to Both Jew and Gentile

Stephen Marshall
A Sermon on the Baptizing of Infants (1644)
Conclusion 1.

The Covenant of Grace, for substance, hath always been one and the same, both to the Jews and to the Gentiles. 

Which to understand, know, that the new and living way to life was first revealed to Adam immediately after his fall, and that blessed promise concerning the Seed of the woman was often renewed, and the Patriarchs faith therein, and salvation thereby, recorded plentifully in the Scripture: but the first time that ever it was revealed under the express name of a League or Covenant was with Abraham; and therefore we shall need look no higher than his days: who because he was the first explicit Covenanter, is called the father of the faithful; and ever since clearly hath all the world been divided into two distinct bodies or families; the one called the Kingdom, City, Household of God, to which all who own the way to life, were to join themselves; and these were called the Children of God, the Sons of Abraham, the Children of the Kingdom: all the rest of the World, the Kingdom of the Devil, the Seed of the Serpent, Strangers from the Covenant of Grace, without God in the world, etc.

Now I say that this Covenant of Grace hath for substance been always the same; for substance I say, for we must distinguish betwixt the Covenant it self, and the manner of administration of this Covenant: The substance of the Covenant on God’s part was, to be Abraham’s God, and the God of his Seed, to be an All-sufficient portion, an All-sufficient reward for him, to give Jesus Christ to him, and righteousness with him, both of Justification and of Sanctification, and everlasting life. On Abraham’s part the substance of the Covenant was, to believe in the promised Messiah, to walk before God with a perfect heart, to serve God according to his revealed will, to instruct his family, etc.

The manner of administration of this Covenant at the first was by Types, and Shadows, Sacrifices, &c. And four hundred and thirty years after the Law was added with great terror upon Mount Sinai, not as a part of this Covenant, but as the Apostle saith expressly, it was added because of Transgressions, to be a Schoolmaster to whip to Christ; Plainly in that giving of the Law, there was something of the Covenant of Works made with Adam in Paradise; yet in order to the administration of the Covenant of Grace, there was a rehearsal of the Covenant of Works, under which all men lie by nature, until they be brought under the Covenant of Grace: and this was delivered with great terror, and under most dreadful penalties, that they who were prone to seek justification in themselves, by finding the impossibility of their keeping the Law, might be driven to seek for a better Mediator, even the Lord Jesus Christ, as was excellently shadowed out (Exod. 20.18-20, Deut. 5.24), when they cried out to Moses; that they might no more hear this dreadful voice, which would kill them, but that they might be spoken unto by a Mediator: and God said, they had well spoken, and presently accepted Moses for their typical mediator, and by him gave them the Gospel in their Tabernacle Ordinances. And there was also something of the administration of the Covenant of Grace; partly, because all the threatening and cursing part of it was intended as a preparative and means to fit them for Christ; and partly because the directing part of it, contains that very rule whereby Abraham, and all his Seed were ordered to walk in obedience towards God.

To conclude this, all their external promises in case of obedience, all outward blessings which were to be enjoyed by them, the land of Canaan, and all the good things in it, all outward punishments and threatenings, loss of their country, going into captivity, all their sacrifices, their washings, their sprinklings, their holy persons, holy feasts, and holy things, were all of them but so many administrations of the Covenant of Grace; Earthly things then, were not only promised or threatened more distinctly and fully, than now they are to them who are in Covenant, but were figures, signs, types and sacraments of spiritual things, to be enjoyed both by them and by us; as might be cleared by abundance of particulars: take but that one instance of the Land of Canaan, which albeit in it self it was but like other lands yet was it by the Lord sanctified to spiritual ends, where he would have his Tabernacle pitched, and Temple built, out of which Land, when the ten Tribes were carried captive, he is said to have put them out of his sight: the very Land being figuratively holy, and a sign of God’s presence, the resting of God’s people there, a sign of their eternal rest in Heaven, into which not Moses the Lawgiver, but Joshua, or Jesus, the type of their true Jesus was to bring them: neither did the Lord promise them entrance into, or continuance in that Land, but upon the same conditions upon which he promiseth eternal life, as true faith in the Gospel, with the love and fear of God, and obedience of his Commandments: godliness having then, as it hath now and always, the promise of good things for this life, and the life to come, of earthly things, then more distinctly, and fully, and typically, but of heavenly things more generally and sparingly; whereas now on the contrary, there is a more clear and full revelation and promise of heavenly things, but the promise of things earthly, more general and sparing: Now this external administration of the Covenant is not the same with us, as it was with them, but the Covenant is the same; they were under the same misery by nature, had the same Christ, the Lamb slain from the beginning of the World, the same conditions of faith and repentance, to be made partakers of the Covenant, had the same graces promised in the Covenant, circumcising of their heart, to love the Lord, etc. Theirs was dispensed in darker prophecies, and obscurer Sacrifices, Types, and Sacraments, ours more gloriously and clearly, and in a greater measure: the clothes indeed do differ, but the body is the same in both.

As is apparent, if, first, you look but into the prophecies that were made, Jer. 31.33, Isaiah 59.21, Joel 2.32, and many other places, where the same things are promised to the Gentiles, when the Gospel should be preached unto them, which were first promised to Abraham, and to his seed; but more fully, if you look into the New Testament, where you shall find (Luke 1.54-55, 69-73, Luke 2.31-32) that Christ and the kingdom of grace by him, is acknowledged to be the sum of the Oath and Covenant, which God had promised to Abraham, and to his seed: So Matth. 21.41, 43. the same Vineyard that was let to the Jews, should afterward be let to the Gentiles; the same kingdom of God which was formerly given to the Jews, should be taken from them, and given to the Gentiles: So Rom. 11, the Gentiles were to be engrafted into the same stock in which formerly the Jews had grown, and from which they were now to be cut off, and into which in the end they should be engrafted again: So Gal. 3.8, 14, 16, Abraham had the same Gospel preached to him, which is now preached to us, the same blessing bestowed upon Abraham, comes on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ, that they (as well as he) might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith; they who receive the promise of the Spirit through faith, have the blessing of Abraham come upon them: as clear is that, Ephes. 2.13 to the end of the chapter, the partition wall which severed us from the Jews, is now broken down, and the Gentiles who formerly were afar off, are now taken in, and made Inter-Commoners with the Jews; the Apostle alluding to the manner of the Jewish worship, where beyond the Court wherein the Jews did worship, there was another Court divided from it by a sept or wall, which was called, Atrium gentium & immundorum, the Court of the Gentiles and of the unclean, nearer then which none of them might approach unto the Temple; but now saith he, The partition wall is broken down, and we are no more Strangers and Foreigners, but made fellow-Citizens with the Saints, and of the household of God; and with them grow up unto an holy Temple in the Lord; all which shews, that the very self same privileges formerly made peculiar to the Jews, are now through Christ communicated to the Gentiles. And this will yet more fully appear, if we consider how St. Paul to the Galatians, shews that the same seed of Abraham, so much spoken of in the Covenant made with him, is now found among the Gentiles, as it was formerly among the Jews, there you shall find three sorts of Abraham’s seed: First, Christ, Gal. 3.16. the root and stock, the head, and elder brother of all the rest.

Secondly, all true believers are Abraham’s seed (Gal. 3.29), these only are made partakers of the spiritual part of the Covenant.

Thirdly, you shall find another seed of Abraham, who were only circumcised in the flesh, and not in the heart, who though they were either born of Abraham’s seed or professed Abraham’s faith, and so were Jews facti [become], though not nati [born], made though not born Jews, becoming proselytes, yet never came to make Abraham’s God their All-sufficient portion, but placed their happiness in somewhat, which was not Christ, either by seeking justification by the works of the Law, being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness did not submit themselves unto the righteousness of God, or placed their happiness, in satisfying the lusts of their flesh, going a whoring after the creature; and so though they were Abraham’s seed by profession and outward cleaving to the Covenant, yet were to be cast off with the rest of the uncircumcised, of whom Ishmael and Esau were types (Gal. 4.22, etc.). Even so is it now in the times of the Gospel, we have now Jesus Christ, the Elder brother, the first-born of the Covenant, we have also true believers, who are brethren and Co-heirs with him, who are properly the heirs by promise, and we have also some who are only a holy seed by external profession (Gal. 4.29), who either with the false teachers, which Paul there speaks of, mingle justification by the Law and Gospel together, or with others (2 Tim. 3.5), though they have a form of godliness; yet deny the power of it in their lives and conversations. So much for the first Conclusion, that the Covenant of Grace, for substance, was always one and the same.

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