Turretin on the Covenants Part II

 This is part II of F. Turretin’s discussion of the difference between the Covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace.  Again, this is found in volume 2 of Turretin’s Institutes (pages 190-191).

The CoW and CoG differ:

6) In their ends: the end of the first (CoW) was the declaration of justice, while the second was the manifestation of the love and mercy of God.  In the first there was no room for repentance or pardon, but in the second the forbearance of the Father appears – the way of grace and salvation of sinners is opened up.

7) In their manifestation: the first (CoW) was made in the state of nature (pre-fall), and it was known by nature and impressed upon man’s consciences (cf. Rom 2.14-15).  The second (CoG), however, is a hidden mystery, which is neither found in nature nor discoverable by reason – it can only be known by supernatural revelation. 

8 ) In their order: the covenant of works is first, the covenant of grace follows.  The one who breaks the CoW has a remedy in the covenant of grace, but the one who “violates” the CoG has no further remedy or hope of pardon because there is no other covenant by which he can be reconciled to God.

9) In their extent: The first (CoW) was universal, made with all people in Adam.  “Hence there is no mortal who is not by nature under the covenant of works…”  The latter  (CoG) is particular, made with the elect alone (which Turretin explains in a later section).

10) In their effects: the first (CoW) gave man reason for glorying when he observed it, the second leaves no room for boasting, because it is founded on grace.  There was no grace in the CoW – the first (CoW) after the fall became a terror, frightening the conscience while the latter (CoG) is gracious and saving.  The first now has everything to do with bondage, while the latter is all about freedom.  “In the first, God from Mount Ebal thunders curses in the ears of sinners, but in the second as it were from Mount Gerizim blessings are promulgated.” 

To repeat myself, as Ursinus said about the absolute necessity of distinguishing law and gospel, it is also necessary to distinguish between the CoW and the CoG.  You mess one up, you mess the other up necessarily, for they stand and fall together.

shane lems

sunnyside wa

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