Thursday, July 2, 2015

Part 1: A Study of The Covenant of Redemption, by Patrick Gillespie

This and the following 4 posts are taken from Chapter 3 of Patrick Gillespie's “Ark of the Covenant Opened” (London, 1677)

THE general Nature of this Covenant is common to it, with all other Covenants; whatsoever different peculiarity they have, this is essential and common to all Covenants; they are Agreements: and this is an eternal transaction and agreement betwixt Jehovah and the Mediator Christ, about the work of our Redemption.

The peculiar propriety of its nature, will appear by inquiring a little into, (1.) The various eternal acts of the will of God that concurred to make up this agreement. (2.) The distinction and order of these eternal acts of his will, and the right manner of our conceiving of them.

1. Supposing, as we have said before, that God purposed in himself not to save man without a satisfaction to his Justice: These eternal acts of the will of God, or rather the things which we conceive under these various acts, and their denominations among men (for we need not multiply acts in this matter, but for the helping our own understanding) did concur and meet together in this agreement.
(1.) The designation of a Person to do this work; there must needs have been a Person set apart and designed from eternity unto the doing of the work of Redemption, and this Person was the Son only; not the Father, nor the Spirit, I Pet. 1.20, Who verily was fore-ordained before the foundation of the world; but was manifested in these last times for you. 
(2.) The preparation and fitting of the Person set apart to take our Law-place, and room, that Justice might smite him in our stead; which also was by an eternal act of the will of God decreed, that the Son of God should be Immanuel, God with us, or God made manifest in the flesh, Isa.7.14. I Tim.3.16, and unto this incarnation of the Son of God, his own words have reference, as unto the grand qualification whereby he was destinated before-hand, that he might be in a capacity to do this work, Heb.10.5. A body has thou prepared me. 
(3.) The calling of the Person designed: calling is an act different from designation, 'tis something further. Christ was by an eternal act of God's will called to this work, and that long before he came into the world, Psal.89.19, Then thou spakest in vision to thy holy One, and saidst, I have laid help upon one that is mightyI have exalted one chosen out of the people. And Isa. 42.6, I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a Covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles. Heb.5.5, So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priestbut he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, today have I begotten thee. 
(4.) The investing of the Person designed, with offices, powers and authorities, for the doing of this work, such as his Mediatory-office, and the powers and authorities thereunto belonging, which was not suspended until the time of his actual discharge of the offices of King, Priest, and Prophet; but by an eternal act of the will of God, he was set up and vested with these offices and powers from everlasting, and had the glory of the designed, called, invested Mediator; as he plainly insinuates, Prov.8.23, I was set up from everlasting, saith Wisdom; several Expositors render it, I was called, or I was anointed. Joh.17.5, And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.
(5.) The mission of the Son, Christ designed, fitted, called, invested for this work, was also by an eternal act in the counsel of God, sent to do this work; he had a solemn eternal authoritative mission, a command to go, and was bidden go; he had the will of God by an eternal act or commission given out to him concerning all this work, long before he was actually made under the Law; to which he hath respect, when he saith, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God, Heb.10.7. even that will of God that was in the book of his eternal decrees, Joh.6.39, And this is the Father's will which hath sent me. And 10.18, This Commandment have I received of my Father: But in all these, we do not so much multiply the distinction of acts, as we take notice of the distinction and difference of Phrase used by the Holy Ghost, speaking of this mystery in the Scriptures. Upon the other part, there concurred unto this agreement, an eternal personal consent and compliance upon Christ's part, unto all these eternal acts of the will of God; for Christ God, equal with the Father, does not begin to consent and agree unto any thing in time; nor can the eternal Son of God will any thing in time, which he did not will and consent unto from eternity.

But Christ was present with the Father, and did from eternity consent and agree to these eternal acts:
(1.) To the designation of himself to be the person that should satisfy the Justice of God, he heartily acquiesced and offered himself; he said, Lo, I come to do thy will, Heb.10.5,7. He poured out his Soul unto death, Isa.53.12.
(2.) He consented unto the putting himself in that low capacity that the working of this work required, Heb.2.7, Thou madest him a little lower than the Angels; to leave the throne of glory, and come down to his footstool, there to be in disgrace; the Lord of the Law, to be made under the Law, Gal.4.4. the holy one that knew no sin, to be made in the likeness of sinful flesh, Rom.8.3. Phil.2.6,7,8, Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God. And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross. 
(3.) He consented and agreed unto the eternal act of his calling to this work; no sooner was it his Father's will that he should travel in the business, but it was his also. He was as a ready Servant, whose ear was bored in token of his love and willingness to serve his Master, when he might have been free, Psal.40.6, Mine ears hast thou opened or bored. Isa.50.5,6, The Lord hath opened mine ears, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back.
(4.) He consented to the taking on these offices and trusts that the work of our Redemption required; there was no force nor constraint upon, no necessity of nature that he should step in betwixt the disagreeing parties, that he should step into the fire that we had kindled, that he should make himself a Sacrifice for our sins, that he should receive a dispensatory Kingdom; but frankly and freely he consented to do all these things, John.10.18, No man taketh my life from me; but I lay it down of myself. John.17.2, As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. Prov.8.23, I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. 
(5.) He consented unto his mission, his Father's sending of him, and was well content to go that errand; yea, so hearty was his consent, that he took delight in it,Psal.40.8, I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy Law is within my heart. Joh.4.34, Jesus saith unto them, my meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. And to all these things he gives a personal consent from eternity, and with so much delight, that he solaced himself, and took pleasure in the future accomplishment of these eternal acts of the will of God concerning the Sons of men, Prov.8.23,30,31, I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning or ever the earth was. Then I was by him as one brought up with him, and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him: Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth, and my delights were with the Sons of men. This is the nature of this eternal transaction, which will appear also more clearly afterward from the tenor of this Covenant, with the reciprocal engagements of the parties.

2. Concerning the distinction and order of these eternal acts of the will of God, and for preventing gross and unbecoming thoughts of them; I give these cautions.
(1.) All the acts of God's will, his decrees, and eternal transaction with Christ, are in regard of God, one most simple and pure act of His will; but in regard of our conceptions of them, who cannot take up many particulars together in one; they are distinguished and expressed so in the word, that we may take them up distinctly: The Lord in his way of expressing these great mysteries of the counsel of his will, accommodating himself to our way of conceiving things: we are therefore accordingly to take heed how we conceive of the distinction of acts in the eternal counsel of God's will. (
2.) When we speak of the order of these eternal acts, we mean only the order of Nature, and which of these acts are to be conceived by us antecedaneous to the rest in that respect; for there is no order of time, no priority nor posterity of that kind among the decrees of God, and acts of his will, which are all eternal.

3. We are to conceive of this order (which only agreeth to the decrees of God) according to these rules:1
1. According to the futurition of things; that is, these decrees and eternal acts of the will of God about things ad extra without, which do suppose the futurition of things about which these decrees are past; these decrees (I say) do necessarily suppose some other acts of the will of God antecedent to these in order of nature, whence the things supposed in that decree, had their futurition; for 'tis to me above question, that things which did not exist from eternity, had their futurition no where, but from the decrees of God's will, which made them future things before they existed; neither is it possible that God could foresee any thing as future, before his decree, and some act of his will gave it futurition; whatsoever the device of Scientia media [middle knowledge], tell us to the contrary. And according to this rule, we say, the decree of God's entering in Covenant with man, whether by Law or Grace, does suppose some antecedaneous act of the will of God (in order of nature) concerning the Creation of man, some decree whence man had a futurition, and existed in the prescience of God as a future thing.
2. We may conceive of the order of the decrees of God, according as he orders things in execution, by that rule so much made use of by the Learned Dr. TwisseQuod prius est in intentione posterius est in executione & contra: that which is first in the intention of God, is last in the execution;2 and that which is last in the intent, is first in the execution; Understand this rule, as that Author doth, without subordination of the co-ordinate means whereby God intended to make himself glorious in the way of mercy and justice; and according to this rule, we say that God first decreed the glorifying of his mercy and justice upon all mankind, before he decreed any thing concerning his creation, or his fall: for the creation and fall of man, were first in execution, before justice and mercy was glorified in him.
3. Another rule (which also is a qualification of the former) is, that these eternal acts of the will of God which respiciunt finem, relate to the end, are in this kind of order before; these acts of his will which respiciunt media relate unto the means which lead unto these ends, Et illud quod habet rationem finis est prius, quod vero habet rationem medii est posterius; And that which hath the place of the end, is the first; and that which hath the place of the mean, is last in order among the eternal acts of God's will. And this rule holds not only with respect to the supreme and chief end; to wit, God's glorifying of himself in the way of manifesting his mercy and justice, which is first in order among the eternal acts of the will of God, relating to man; and all the other acts of his will, concerning the creation, fall, sending of Christ, &c. (which are co-ordinate means in respect of this supreme end, to which they are subordinate): These I say, are posterior in this kind of order, among the decrees of God, and eternal acts of his will; but this rule holds also in respect of that subordination that may be conceived among these acts of the will of God, about the creation and fall of man, and the sending of Christ (which are co-ordinate means in respect of the supreme end before-mentioned); yet because one of these may have the place of an end, with respect to another of these same co-ordinate means, which may be also a means for carrying on some next immediate end, as well as the supreme ultimate end; as the Salvation of the elect is a mean subservient to the great end of glorifying Grace, and yet may be, and is also, an end of God's sending Christ; so that the sending of Christ, is both a mean subordinate to the glory of Grace, and the Salvation of God's elect people. Now, I say, which way soever we look upon the acts of God's will about the glorifying of his justice and mercy on Mankind, we are still to conceive of the eternal acts of his will, that respect the ends which he has proposed to himself, both supreme and subordinate, as first in order; and these acts of his will, that relate to the means, as last: for God first purposed the end, then the means that lead to it.

1. The reader will note that these rules provide for a thorough-going Supralapsarian doctrine of the decree in agreement with the Supralapsarianism of Samuel Rutherford and borrowing from the principles of William Twisse, another Supralapsarian and the Prolocutor of the Assembly of Divines at Westminster.
2. William Twisse. Vind. gratiæ & potest Divin.

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