Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Covenant of Redemption, by John Flavel, Pt 2

Now, to open this great point, we will here consider, (1.) The persons transacting one with another. (2.) The business transacted. (3.) The quality and manner of the transaction, which is federal. (4.) The articles to which they agree. (5.) How each person performs his engagement to the other. And, Lastly, The antiquity or eternity of this covenant transaction.

(1.) The persons transacting and dealing with each other in this covenant; and indeed they are great persons, God the Father, and God the Son, the former as a Creditor, and the latter as a Surety. The Father stands upon satisfaction, the Son engages to give it. If it be demanded, why the Father and the Spirit might not as well have treated upon our redemption, as the Father and Son! It is answered, Christ is the natural Son of God, and therefore fittest to make us the adopted sons of God. Christ also is the middle person in the Trinity, and therefore fittest to be the mediator and middle person betwixt us and God. The Spirit has another office assigned him, even to apply, as Christ’s vicegerent, the redemption designed by the Father, and purchased by the Son for us.

(2.) The business transacted betwixt them; and that was the redemption and recovery of all God’s elect: our eternal happiness lay now before them, our dearest and everlasting concerns were now in their hands: the elect (though not yet in being) are here considered as existent, yea, and as fallen, miserable, forlorn creatures: How these may again be restored to happiness (salva justitia Dei) without prejudice to the honour, justice and truth of God; this, this is the business that lay before them.

(3.) For the manner, or quality of the transaction, it was federal, or of the nature of a covenant; it was by mutual engagements and stipulations, each person undertaking to perform his part in order to our recovery.

We find each person undertaking for himself by solemn promise; the Father promiseth that he will “hold his hand, and keep him,” Isa. 42: 6. The Son promiseth, he will obey his Father’s call to suffering, and not “be rebellious,” Isa. 50: 5. And, having promised, each holds the other to his engagement. The father stands upon the satisfaction promised him; and, when the payment was making, he will not abate him one earthing, Rom. 8: 32. “God spared not his own Son,” i. e. he abated nothing of the full price he was to have at his hands for us.

And as the Father stood strictly upon the terms of the covenant, so did Christ also; John 17: 45. “I have glorified thee on earth, (saith he to the Father) I have finished the work thou gavest me to do; and now, Father, glorify me with thine own self.” As if he had said, Father, the work is done, now where is the wages I was promised? I call for glory as my due, as much my due as the hire of the labourer is his due, when his work is done.

(4.) More particularly; we will next consider the articles to which they do both agree; or, what it is that each person does for himself promise to the other. And, to let us see how much the Father’s heart is engaged in the salvation of poor sinners, there are five things which he promiseth to do for Christ, if he will undertake that work.

(A.) First, He promiseth to invest him, and anoint him to a threefold office, answerable to the misery that lay upon the elect as so many bars to all communion with, and enjoyment of God; for, if ever man be restored to that happiness, the blindness of his mind must be cured, the guilt of sin expiated, and his captivity to sin led captive: answerably, Christ must, “of God, be made unto us, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption,” 1 Cor. 1: 30. And he is made so to us as our Prophet, Priest, and King; but he could not put himself into either of these; for if so, he had acted without commissions and consequently all he did had been invalid; Heb. 5: 5. “Christ glorified not himself to be made an High-Priest, but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son”. A commission therefore to act authoritatively, in these offices, being necessary to our recovery, the Father engages to him to seal him such a threefold commission.

He promiseth to invest him with an eternal and royal Priesthood, Psal. 110: 4. “The Lord has sworn, and will not repent; Thou art a priest forever, after the order of Melchisedec.” This Melchisedec being King of Righteousness, and king of Salem, that is, Peace, had a royal priesthood; and his descent not being reckoned, it had an adumbration of eternity in it, and so was more apt to type and shadow forth the priesthood of Christ than Aaron’s was, Heb. 7: 16, 17, 24, 25, as the apostle accommodates them there.

He promiseth moreover to make him a Prophet, and that an extraordinary one, even the Prince of prophets; the chief Shepherd, as much superior to all others, as the sun is to the lesser stars; so you have it, Isa. 42: 6, 7. “I will give thee for a light to the Gentiles, to open the blind eyes,” &c.

And not only so, but to make him king also, and that of the whole empire of the world; so Psal. 2: 6, 7, 8. “Ask of me, and I will give thee the Heathen for thine inheritance, and the utmost ends of the earth for thy possession.” Thus he promiseth to qualify and furnish him completely for the work, by his investiture with this threefold office.

(B.) Secondly, And forasmuch as he knew it was a hard and difficult work his Son was to undertake, a work that would have broken the backs of all the angels in heaven, and men on earth, had they engaged in it; therefore he promiseth to stand by him, and assist and strengthen him for it: so, Isa. 42: 5, 6, 7. “I will hold thy hand,” or take hold of thee with my hands, for so it may be rendered, i. e. I will underprop and support thy humanity, when it is even overweighted with the burden that is to come upon it, and ready to sink down under it; for so you know the case stood with him, Mark 14: 34, and so it was foretold of him, Isa. 53: 7. “He was oppressed,” &c. and indeed the humanity needed a prop of no less strength than the infinite power of the Godhead: the same promise you have in the first verse also, “Behold my servant whom I uphold.”

(C.) Thirdly, He promiseth to crown his work with success, and bring it to an happy issue, Isa. 53: 10. “He shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.” He shall not begin, and not finish; he shall not shed his invaluable blood upon hazardous terms; but shall see and reap the sweet fruits thereof; as the joyful mother forgets her pangs, when she delightfully embraces and kisses her living child.

(D.) Fourthly, The Father promiseth to accept him in his work, though millions should certainly perish, Isa. 49: 4. “Surely (saith he) my work is with the Lord.” And, verse 5. “I shall be glorious in the eyes of the Lord.” His faith has therein respect to this compact and promise. Accordingly the Father manifests the satisfaction he had in him, and in his work, even while he was about it upon the earth, when there came such a “voice from the excellent glory, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

(E.) Fifthly, As he engaged to reward him highly for his work, by exalting him to singular and super-eminent glory and honour, when he should have dispatched and finished it. So you read, Psal. 2:7. “I will declare the decree; the Lord has said unto me, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.” It is spoken of the day of his resurrection, when he had just finished his sufferings. And so the apostle expounds and applies it, Acts 13: 32, 33. For then did the Lord wipe away the reproach of his cross, and invested him with such glory, that he looked like himself again. As if the Father had said, now thou hast again recovered thy glory, and this day is to thee as a new birth-day.

These are the encouragements and rewards proposed and promised to him by the Father. This was the “joy set before him”, (as the apostle phraseth it in Heb. 12: 2.) which made him so patiently to “endure the cross, and despise the shame.”

And in like manner Jesus Christ restipulates, and gives his engagement to the Father; that, upon these terms, he is content to be made flesh, to divest, as it were, himself of his glory, to come under the obedience and malediction of the law, and not to refuse any, the hardest sufferings it should please his Father to inflict on him. So much is implied in Isa. 50: 5, 6, 7. “The Lord has opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back; I gave my back to the smilers, and my cheeks to them that pulled off the hair; I hid not my face from shame and spitting: For the Lord God will help me, therefore shall I not be confounded; I have set my face as a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.” When he saith, I was not rebellious, “mariti”, he meaneth, I was most heartily willing, and content to accept the terms; for there is a Meiosis in the words, and much more is intended than expressed. And the sense of this place is well delivered to us in other terms, Psal. 40: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. “Then said I, Lo I come, I delight to do thy will, O God, thy law is within my heart.” O see with what a full consent the heart of Christ closeth with the Father’s offers and proposals; like some echo, that answers your voice twice or thrice over. So does Christ here answer his Father’s call, “I come, I delight to do thy will; yea, thy law is in my heart.” And thus you see the articles to which they both subscribed, or the terms they agreed on.

(5.) I will briefly show how these articles, and agreements were on both parts, performed, and that precisely and punctually. For,

(A.) The Son having thus consented, accordingly he applies himself to the discharge of his work. He took a body, in it fulfilled all righteousness, even to a little, Matth. 3: 15. And at last his out was made an offering for sin, so that he could say as it is, John 17: 4. “Father, I have glorified thee on earth, I have finished the work thou gavest me to do.” He went through all the parts of his active, and passive obedience, cheerfully and faithfully.

(B.) The Father made good his engagements to Christ, all along, with no less faithfulness than Christ did his. He promised to assist, and hold his hand, and so he did; Luke 22: 43, “And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him.” That was one of the sorest brunts that ever Christ met with; this was seasonable aid and succour. He promised to accept him in his work, and that he should be glorious in his eyes; so he did: for he not only declared it by a voice from heaven, Luke 3: 22!. “Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased:” But it was fully-declared in his resurrection and ascension, which were a full discharge and justification of him. He promised him that “He should see his seed,” and so he did; for his very birth-dew was as the dew of the morning; and ever since his blood has been fruitful in the world. He promised gloriously to reward and exalt him; and so he has, Phil. 2: 9, 10, 11, and that highly and super-eminently, “giving him a name above every name in heaven and earth.” Thus were the articles performed.

(6.) Lastly, When was this compact made betwixt the Father and the Son? I answer, it bears date from eternity. Before this world was made, then were his delights in us, while as yet we had no existence, but only in the infinite mind and purpose of God, who had decreed this for us in Christ Jesus, as the apostle speaks, 2 Tim. 1: 9. What grace was that which was given us in Christ before the world began, but this grace of redemption, which was from everlasting thus contrived and designed for us, in that way which has been here opened? Then was the council, or consultation of peace betwixt them both, as some take that scripture, Zech. 6: 13.


  1. Hi Andy

    I read your comment over at Eddie's blog.
    I added myself to follow your blog.
    You are more than welcome to visit mine and add yourself as a follower if you want to.

    God Bless You, Ron

  2. Thanks, Ron. I like your blog.


Visitor Counter

Flag Counter