RPM, Volume 17, Number 48, November 22 to November 28, 2015

Shipwrecked, Rescued and Grounded

Relating Edwards, Witsius and the
Heidelberg Catechism

By Joel Kletzing

For those who have never waded into The Economy of the Covenants by Herman Witsius, one quickly comes to appreciate his ability to relate varied parts of Scripture to each other, providing many "aha!" moments as the reader's understanding increases. Yet one may struggle also with some concepts such as where in the Bible a covenant of works is mentioned or described. If one is schooled in the Heidelberg Catechism, the question might arise as to why there are not plentiful allusions to the covenants in that solid, instructional, comforting, beloved, widely-accepted tool for discipleship which has provided guidance to an impressively wide group of believers since it was produced in the sixteenth century. The later Westminster Confession and Catechisms include the doctrine of the covenants as established and accepted doctrine creating a noteworthy distinction between the two most widely used guiding documents in Reformed communities.

On one occasion two published, well-known Lutheran professors of church history made a statement that led the hearer to believe that before the Puritans there was no such thing as covenant theology and that it was an invention of the Puritan movement. How could something so dear to modern-day evangelical Reformed theology have been missing throughout the history of the church? To further raise concern, there does not seem to be a great deal of unity on what to call the alleged covenant established between God and Adam in Eden. Some call it an Adamic covenant, some the covenant of works (which is rejected by others who claim that faith was required on Adam's part and not just raw obedience, maintaining that Adam's failure was one of faith when he chose to believe Satan and follow Eve), some the covenant of creation or life or nature.

Philip Schaff, the German church historian who migrated to the United States to teach in the seminary of the German Reformed Church in 1844, believed that the church is organic in nature, and that while it never grows or develops into something other than what it was constituted by Christ and His Spirit to be from the beginning, it does mature and develop in its understanding of Scripture and of itself. He explained that while the church brought to the sixteenth century the developed doctrine of the Trinity and the two natures of Christ and the incarnation, error forced it to develop further its soteriology. 1 While Schaff was not keen on many aspects of Puritanism, could it be that his theory regarding the organic nature of the church can assist in understanding the development of covenant theology? Such an approach would view the covenant of works as not a new invention but a development in the church's understanding of God's use of covenants in unfolding the salvation of His people. So to further investigate the matter, much of the following will focus on the significance of events in the Garden of Eden recorded in the first chapters of Genesis, specifically attending to original sin and the covenant of works.

The Great Christian Doctrine of Original Sin Defended

Robert Jenson recognizes Jonathan Edwards, a Calvinistic, New England Congregationalist, as a founder of American evangelicalism. Edwards lived from 1703-1758, and Jenson reckons him to be among the top six thinkers in his century. 2 In another place that particular author recognized Edwards as America's greatest theologian. 3 Many others share his high regard for Edwards.

Edwards wrote The Great Christian Doctrine of Original Sin Defended near the end of his life. It was published posthumously (1758). In it he answers a Dr. John Taylor of Norwich who had published The Scripture-Doctrine of Original Sin Proposed to Free and Candid Examination (1740). The third edition, published in 1746, became influential in the growing Unitarian movement of the time.

At the beginning of Edwards' work the reader is called to take interest in the seriousness of this topic which infiltrates and dooms all members of the human race. The author said that "All mankind constantly, in all ages, without fail in any one instance, run into that moral evil, which is in effect their own utter and eternal perdition in a total privation of God's favour, and suffering of his vengeance and wrath." 4 He defined original sin as "innate sinful depravity of the heart" which encompassed the depravity of the whole of human nature and the imputation of Adam's first sin which made all who are descended from Adam by normal means liable for punishment. 5 To explain his point he used an illustration of a man living in the king's palace and in line to receive honor, but he violates the king's rule and dishonors him. Would the king's punishment affect that man only or also his heirs? Certainly his heirs would not receive what he forfeited in being evicted from his position. 6 Adam was guilty not only of breaking a law but of breaching a covenant and thus ruining a relationship with God, dismissing himself and his posterity from God's favor.

By these explanations, Edwards meant to confute all who wish to see humanity as inherently virtuous by nature. Such opponents of Edwards, including Dr. Taylor, would propose that an individual's good deeds far outweigh whatever sins may be credited to him. Dr. Taylor cautioned against examining a prison and the convicts found behind its walls to make an assessment about the whole of humanity.

Against such attempts to salvage the notion of a generally good nature belonging to humanity because it contains some praiseworthy elements, Edwards argued that evil in society would be far worse if it were not for God's merciful hand restraining it. The fact of universal divine justice being foretold in the Bible is evidence that all of humanity is polluted and corrupt. Unless God's grace would intervene in the normal course of human life and interrupt with divine power the constant sinning, all humans would be condemned to eternal death and torment. 7

Edwards set out to prove that all are universally born into the world destined to commit sins. He cites Scriptures such as 1 Kings 8:46 ("there is no one who does not sin"); Galatians 3:10; Psalm 143:2 ("no one living is righteous"); etc.

On the other side of the argument, in Dr. Taylor's attempts to prove that the human race is not in such a predicament as Edwards claims, he argues that the law was and always must be a law useful for obtaining life. 8 This, of course, implies that humans are not so completely polluted by sin as to prevent them from complying with God's requirements.

Arguments such as Taylor offers demand that alternate explanations for the plain meaning of various Scriptures passages must be developed. For example, Romans 3 says that justification comes by the promise of God and not by means of keeping the law. Romans 8:3 explains that because of the weakness of the flesh the law was rendered weak and unable to justify. The earlier theologian John Owen maintained that the law was originally to conduct the human race to life and only accidentally did it become the instrument which acquainted humans with death. Taylor's failure to grasp the extent of the pollution of sin in humanity caused him to depart on an aberrant path which separated him from a Biblically orthodox understanding of the law and created much confusion in his various attempts to formulate how the law remains useful still.

Taylor acknowledged a powerful tendency toward sin present in human nature, but he defended innate goodness by naming this regular yielding to temptation as being only a minor infirmity or defect. This implies that the real cause of sin must involve one's environment and the pressure or stimulus that it presents. It seemed inconceivable to him that humans could be born polluted. Certainly the surrounding world must account for any pollution that envelops a person. When Dr. Taylor read that God pronounced the world good, he believed that God's assessment was still valid, even after Adam's sin. 9

Edwards responded by changing the question from whether there is a good balance in the world between good and bad deeds, to whether or not humans are regarded as being in a state of innocence and righteousness and favor with God, or if there is evidence that God abhors Adam's descendants as existing in a state of sin and guilt. He argued that a ship cannot be classified as good if it is not seaworthy enough to cross the Atlantic Ocean but is able to stay afloat for a majority of the trip. 10 Humans are surely corrupted in morality because it is impossible to find one who can fulfill the law perfectly which is God's requirement for being accepted. There is no evidence from Scripture that any number of seemingly good deeds can cancel out demerit caused by violation of God's law. One sin yields eternal demerit. Edwards asks if a wife could be recognized as good if she fulfilled her intimate marital duties to her husband more than she did to other men with whom she slept. 11

In Chapter One, Section Four the reader finds Edwards' argument for total depravity from observing the human race and realizing that all sin as soon as they are able even in spite of the example and influence of godly parents. 12 This demonstration of human sinfulness then continues progressively until death, just as an acorn matures into a mighty oak, unless the hell-bent person is interrupted by divine grace. 13 Humans sin because they are born sinners. (See James 3:2 – "we all stumble in many things" and Proverbs 20:9 – "Who can say, �"I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?'".)

Another instructive point Edwards made is that true obedience is relational and is rooted in love for God and not the mere fulfilment of duties. God, he said, deserves a love equal to His infinite perfection. We demonstrate by our sinful disrespect for God and His law that we by nature are incapable of truly fulfilling the law by loving God as we should. 14 Further, by lack of gratitude we fail to exhibit the love and worship God deserves. We degrade God when we esteem Him to be of less value than earthly objects. When love for God exceeds love for competing interests, then virtue will outshine evil affections in our lives. 15 Who can show by his actions that he is by nature good and loving toward God and his affections are not fettered to idols?

Compiling yet more evidence for total depravity Edwards makes observations about human foolishness and claims that corruption manifests itself in folly and stupidity in religion. Citing Romans 1:28 he explains that even though ample knowledge of God is presented to humanity, each sinful heart suppresses truth and refuses to worship properly. The author asserts that even in the most refined cultures, noted for their higher learning, absurdity is the product of their citizens. By absurdity he means idolatry, superstition and evil behavior. 16 Such phenomena are universal and can be identified in every known civilization of all ages. Proverbs 8:36 says, "But he who sins against me [wisdom] wrongs his own soul; all those who hate me love death." Certainly this verse references what Edwards calls absurdity.

Dr. Taylor attempts to reinterpret the empirical evidence by pointing to Christians who love God and devote themselves to His service for His glory as evidence that humans are not really that hopeless. 17 But does Matthew 7:13-14 not state that the gate of salvation is narrow and that there are few which find it? Ecclesiastes 9:3 warns, "Truly the hearts of the sons of men are full of evil; madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead." At times even Taylor must admit along with Stephen (Acts 7:51-53) that Israel's history demonstrated a greater adherence to wickedness than godliness. 18 Edwards noted that when Jesus sent out the disciples as sheep in the midst of wolves (Matthew 10:16-17) His description of humanity hinted nothing of innocence or freedom from depravity. 19

Edwards' opponent crafted a creative explanation for the consequences of Adam's sin that God enacted. He saw those consequences as the tool of a benevolent Father who disciplines His children to teach them the vanity or emptiness of all earthly things so as to entice the erring beloved back onto the correct path. Edwards countered that such a theory might be effective if there was no existing bias in humanity which constantly inclines all toward sin. Man is not capable of changing merely through external stimulation. His explanation included the fact that Adam was alive two-thirds of the time from the beginning of the world to the flood and was able to tell of Eden and so entice sinners to follow after God and love Him, yet there is no evidence His testimony restrained evil. The same is true of Noah's preaching. Was there evidence that God's judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah produced a revival? Or the miracles of Moses' time when God was proven to be superior to all other gods? One could add to this list the glory of God displayed in the rule of King David and his son Solomon, the discipline of the Babylonian exile, Daniel's experience and testimony, fulfilled prophecy, etc. The nations (including Israel) became hardened. Dr. Taylor's theory does not hold up at all. Christ spoke of the Jews in His day who witnessed His miracles as worse than the wicked residents of ancient Sodom and Gomorrah. 20 He had set a good example for them and would have been a powerful influence by modeling love and humility and self-denial, meekness and patience. 21

Dr. Taylor attempted to assert that humans today retain the same freedom to choose to serve God as Adam had. 22 He believed that sin could not rightly be named sin if it did not proceed from our own choice. No one, he said, could be credited with sin that he did not commit and was allegedly born with. 23 He argued that the fact that sin is so rampant in the culture we observe fails to prove that all humans are corrupt by nature because Adam also sinned, and he was not corrupt at the time of creation. 24 In other words, we may sin like Adam, but not because of him.

Edwards' firm response was quite logical. He explained that if one year produces a bad harvest of a certain type of fruit, the environment may be blamed. But if all fruit trees of that type in all places and times produced rotten fruit, the proof seems conclusive that there is a fatal defect in that type of tree. Continuously repeated actions stem from fixed principles. 25 There is not one human who has ever used the free will which Dr. Taylor alleges to choose to please God perfectly.

Edwards points to universal mortality even affecting infants as evidence of original sin. Death is referenced repeatedly in Holy Scripture as a punishment. 26 Here Dr. Taylor's ideas about affliction and death are elaborated further. He believes that these consequences of sin are merely meant to assist humans in curbing their pride and ambition and fleshly desires. He denies punishment as the primary reason for death. But why would such an incentive to obedience be executed on infants? And if death is such a benefit, why would Christ come to remove it, and why would it be called our enemy (1 Corinthians 15:22ff.)? 27

Edwards draws the reader's attention to the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham pleaded for God to restrain Himself and not destroy the righteous with the wicked. In answer to those petitions, God spared Lot and his family, but He did not spare the infants of the unbelievers. God said He would spare the entire city if ten righteous persons could be identified among the ranks of citizens. Apparently no ten could be found, indicating that the infants were not considered righteous by God. 28 This same argument could be used concerning the infants that perished in the flood or during the Canaanite conquest. Proverbs 22:15 teaches plainly that foolishness exists already in the heart of a child. Genesis 8:21 claims that the earth was wicked, and each man from his youth was no exception. The Hebrew word for youth used here refers to all of the period called youth, even the earliest years. Psalm 58:3 says "The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies." 29

In Part Two of the work Edwards begins to examine particular Scriptures to learn about original sin and the continuing significance of what happened in Eden. This brings him to interact quickly with Dr. Taylor's ideas about the creation of Adam. Dr. Taylor dislikes the idea that God may do things without human consent. He resents the idea that God would create the first man holy. He opposes original righteousness on the grounds that he believes man must have a choice to determine his own destiny. He would prefer to hold that Adam was created without any disposition for or against God.

Taylor's thinking grew out of an Englightenment context which sought to downplay revelation as an authority in determining human destiny. Reason was elevated to the supreme position of steering human lives. The autonomy of the individual was to be preserved at all costs by Enlightenment adherents. During this time rationality dismissed much Biblical truth as needless and as a nuisance that hampered an individual reaching full human potential. 30 Further, Taylor believed he was defending God's glory by arguing against original sin which, if accepted, seems to present God as unjust, cruel and tyrannical and to lead people to blasphemous thoughts of Him. 31

Edwards taught that Adam was created with both inferior and superior principles implanted in him. Inferior principles included self-love, appetites, passions, love of liberty and honor and pleasure. These inferior principles can be recognized as the flesh. The superior principles were righteousness and holiness, given because of the Father's love for His highest creation. The superior principles were supplied by the Holy Spirit and were thus imparted through initial union/communion with God. They are called spiritual in distinction from what is named the flesh. These superior principles were given to rule the heart. Tragically, when man sinned these superior principles which were the grounds for real dignity, life, happiness and glory, were withdrawn and no longer ruled the human heart because communion with God was lost, and the Holy Spirit was no longer in residence there. This left man in darkness, corruption and ruin – merely flesh without spirit. At this the inferior principles began to reign because there were no superior principles to serve. The result is that from that time on man's private affections took the place of God.

Our author described these inferior principles as being similar to a fire in a house. Fire is a good servant but a bad master. In believers who are restored to union with God and who have the Holy Spirit living within them, the spirit and flesh now war as the flesh does not wish to relinquish its previous position of control. 32 What has been passed on to us is a state of being born with the flesh in control which leads us to concur by nature with Adam's rebellion. 33

The real struggle here is whether a choice to obey makes one righteous or whether a righteous choice springs from a virtuous disposition. If Adam's choice was made available to him without any inherent, governing principle of righteousness within him, and he had chosen to obey, would that truly have been love for God? If the virtue of an act is determined by the cause, and the cause is arbitrary choice as Taylor claimed it was, then are there really grounds to establish proven virtue? Dr. Taylor credits man with the ability to create from nothing virtue in himself. Edwards refers to this as Dr. Taylor's "self-determining power of the will." 34 Edwards in essence argues that a completely blank slate cannot write itself. He maintains that Adam was obliged from the first moment of his life to act rightly, and since he did up until he ate the fruit, he must've been created with the inclination to righteousness. The inclination to sin was incited by Satan's lie. If Adam was created to live life properly oriented toward God, then his punishment makes good sense. Not only is an action judged right or wrong, but so is its motive. Edwards questions how if human nature were not created with a disposition to relish some things and reject others as odious one could claim to have a will at all. 35 If one follows Dr. Taylor's logic, then one could argue that Adam was at a disadvantage to modern men because he did not have the external stimuli of knowing what death and suffering is which Taylor alleges is a part of God's love to steer individuals to make proper choices. Ecclesiastes 7:29 says that "God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes."

In Section Three (of Part Two), in continuing to consider the early chapters of Genesis Edwards defends the idea that God dealt with Adam as representative of the entire human race. Edwards anticipates Dr. Taylor's counter argument that God's words to Adam make no reference to his descendants. The Puritan author points out that in Genesis 1:26 when God is quoted as saying, "Let Us make man in Our image," He also says, "and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea…" 36 God was treating humanity as a whole, together represented in Adam. How could the ground be cursed without future generations being affected?

According to his attempt to protect the idea that contemporary men and women are born innocent, Dr. Taylor insists that the threat of death did not extend beyond Adam to any other generation. He goes so far as to say that death is not a privation but a punishment as a "means of a more happy existence and a great increase of good." 37

Edwards finds no agreement with Taylor, pointing out that the tone of God's dealing with sin and the ominously flaming swords of the cherubim were not expressions of fatherly kindness. Dr. Taylor was attempting so hard to preserve the notion of a principle of innocence in all humanity who then have freedom to choose for or against God, that he begins to use the language of Scripture in unnatural ways. Edwards points out that Lamech named his son Noah (Genesis 5:29) because he believed that the baby would bring comfort to all those who toil under the curse begun in Adam's day. Lamech understood that the curse was not just for Adam but for all humanity.

Edwards moves through later Scriptures to amass evidence of total depravity. When he cites such verses as Psalm 14:2-3 – "The Lord looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek God. They have all turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is none who does good, no, not one," the way Taylor attempts to preserve free will and inherent innocence for humanity is by suggesting that the Holy Spirit did not mean such blanket statements to actually apply to all people but only to a particular group that was in the author's mind at the time. Edwards unfolds this line of reasoning further in his later treatment of Romans. 38 Conspicuously absent are any statements in Scripture which speak of humans as inherently innocent or holy in their natural state. Instead, 1 Corinthians 2:14-15 equates natural man with carnal man and identifies both as opposed to spiritual man. This means that man in his natural state is now a stranger to true holiness and virtue. 39 Before conversion, Christians were by nature children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3).

When attention is turned to Romans 5:12-21 which teaches that death came to all through Adam's sin, Taylor maintains that death here is only physical whereby the body returns to dust even though he says that death in 6:23 as the wages of sin is eternal. Contrary once again to Taylor, Edwards argues that death in Romans 5 refers to the whole of death – that is, its temporal, spiritual and eternal dimensions. 40 Employing creative interpretative technique, Taylor reasons that this passage does not teach that Adam unleashed pollution on all humanity, but merely happens to chronicle which member of the human race sinned first and the consequences he received which did not extend beyond himself but were exclusively his. He was oblivious to the organic nature of the union of all humanity with Adam which can be illustrated by a plant whereby if the root is corrupted, all the branches will be as well.

There is a slight sense where Taylor comes close to orthodox doctrine regarding Adam's sin. Breaking the law merely as a rule brings guilt on Adam only as an individual. That simple violation of the law is not imputed to the rest of the race, Edwards said, any more than his other sins were imputed to us. But Taylor rejected that Adam served also as a federal representative of the human race, and what was passed on to all after him was the broken relationship and corruption of nature, the loss of original righteousness. This meant that death also was passed on to all. After he broke the covenant, he stood before God simply as a moral individual with personal obligations. 42

Taylor persists in insisting that physical death is a favor from God given on the occasion of Adam's sin but not as a consequence. However, if death in Romans 5 is regarded as a favor from God, the passage does not make logical sense because grace and righteousness through Christ are opposed to that death. How could they be properly pictured as accomplishing the same good purposes of God as death would in Taylor's doctrine? There is no evidence elsewhere that the consequences of sin are received as a favor. 43 While Taylor credits death to the love and grace of God, the Apostle Paul credits it to Adam, as he also credits life to Christ. Taylor says that both death and life are a part of the goodness Christ dispenses to sway people toward obedience.

Since Taylor reduces death in Romans 5 to physical death only, he likewise reduces justification to a guarantee of a restoration of life at the general resurrection of both the just and the unjust which will be granted to all people. 44 He believed that the benefit of Christ and the gift of righteousness helped believers in some vague way. Maintaining that all are born innocent, his view of the significance of the shedding of blood was much weaker than the orthodox understanding that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin (Hebrews 9:15f.). 45

While Taylor acknowledged some form of a covenant established between God and Adam in Eden, he believed that that arrangement was abolished on the occasion of Adam's sin. Remembering that he believed that physical death was actually a benefit to those born in innocence to deter them from sin, the vague benefit of Christ was then added to the benefit of death. Again, the compounding benefits in Taylor's scheme seem to be competing and not complementary benefits. And it is difficult to see how his understanding squares with passages such as Luke 19:10 which plainly reveals that the Son of man came to seek and to save what was truly lost. How could this be if there are no universal consequences to Adam's sin? It is not clear then from what exactly the Messiah would actually save His people. 46 Galatians 2:21 teaches that if righteousness could come by way of the law, then Christ died in vain. Yet Dr. Taylor opined that humans retained their full capacity to carry out their duty before God. That apparently means that one who chooses to keep the law (hypothetically speaking) would have no need of Christ's sacrifice. Seeming to disagree with Paul's letter to the Galatians (just cited) Taylor explained that the work of Christ merely increased an individual's talents, light, advantages, means and motives so that by his own will and choice he may be righteous.

This is what Dr. Taylor means when he appropriates the term regeneration for his own purposes. He does not see it as a change of state from natural sinfulness and pollution to righteousness in Christ, indicating movement from a state of death into life. Instead, he believes that it simply refers to one reaching her full potential of fully expressing her own true natural powers in holiness, living a divine life. 47

It is difficult to reconcile the ubiquitous theme of repentance and conversion in the New Testament (e.g., Acts 3:19) with Taylor's teaching. Repentance and conversion are linked with baptism, and baptism signifies a change from deadness in sin to walking in newness of life (Romans 6:3-5). This Biblical language promotes an understanding of salvation being a rescue from a state of doom and helplessness. Likewise, circumcision of the heart (Deuteronomy 30:6) refers to transplanting a new nature into the one receiving it (cf. Ezekiel 36:25-27). Colossians 2:11-12 refers to the putting off of the old man and putting on the new while Romans 6:6 speaks of the old self as being crucified as Ephesians 4:22-24 encourages the believer with direction about putting on the new man which is created in righteousness and true holiness.

One begins to tire of Taylor's inventive solutions as he defends his position. He makes the term "new man" refer to the church and not to individual transformation. 48 But the Bible is clear that the language of the old passing away and being made a new creature in Christ refer to individual believers (Ezekiel 11:9; 36:26).

Dr. Taylor resented being represented by Adam. However, if one acknowledges God as Creator, then one must also acknowledge His right to treat humanity as a single unit in the first covenant. 49 This examination of Taylor's arguments seems at times tedious and taxing on the modern mind. His arguments though often sound familiar as many evangelical Christians foster much misunderstanding of the covenants and allow what seems rational to trump what is revealed in Scripture. What one is left with after wading through this thorough treatment of Taylor's work is a powerfully convincing compendium of Biblical teaching from Edwards regarding human helplessness and hopelessness in our natural state. The stage is set to learn of the rescue that God implemented and to receive further explanation of the covenant relationship between God and Adam which provides the necessary background for grasping original sin.

The Economy of the Covenants Between God and Man

Herman Witsius (1636-1708) was born in Enkhuizen, The Netherlands, and was recognized as a gifted student, learning the Scriptures in Greek and Hebrew before entering college. 50 He was a part of a movement known as the Further Dutch Reformation which emphasized the inner experience of Reformed doctrine and personal sanctification. It was a movement influenced by English Puritanism, and the author personally studied in England for a time. He was known for elevating faith over reason, believing that reason lost its purity in the fall of Adam and that reason is not fully restored to a pure state in this lifetime, even in the regenerate. 51

It is divine election that sets the stage for understanding covenant theology because the covenants are initiated solely by God and are not a response to human conditions. 52 Witsius was among the first of those in the Further Dutch Reformation to connect so closely election and covenant. 53

J. I. Packer describes covenant theology as a hermeneutic, "a way of reading the whole Bible that is itself part of the overall interpretation of the Bible that it undergirds." 54 To begin to grasp the covenants of Scripture is to begin to enter elements of the relationship that the members of the Trinity share. The covenant is a means that love, communion, fellowship and righteousness may be extended to us. Packer points out the practicality of understanding the covenants as they provide a framework for understanding God's dealings with humans. Biblical ethics then is living out a covenantal life and participating in joint covenantal relationships. He defines a covenant relationship as "a voluntary mutual commitment that binds each party to the other." 55 Some covenants are negotiated, while others are imposed unilaterally as all God's covenants are. A God-given covenant, Packer says, carries obligations (faith and repentance), and the resulting obedience of faith leads God's people to receive the fullness of God's promised blessing. 56

The text of The Economy of the Covenants begins with a description of Hebrew and Greeks terms for covenant (berith and diatheke respectively). A survey of their usage throughout Scripture reveals that they may refer to an unchangeable ordinance (such as the pattern of night following day), a testament or will, a promise, a precept (e.g., the Ten Commandments), but most significantly for this present study they refer to a mutual agreement between two parties as between Jonathan and David (1 Samuel 18:3). 57 The two parties were considered to have been united by covenant into one body. The ratification of ancient covenants could include a solemn feast and the cutting apart of animals with the participants passing between the animals as they pledged themselves to honor the terms of the covenant, submitting to the penalty of sharing death with the animals arranged around them if they should fail to honor their commitment. 58 When God entered into covenant with Abraham, it meant the flesh of the Messiah would be torn apart in order to honor the promises made that day. In Christ all God's promises to His people are yes and amen (2 Corinthians 1:20). His blood is the blood of the New Testament (Matthew 26:28).

The covenant promises of God focus on how humans may acquire true happiness, escaping eternal suffering and punishment. Thus such a covenant includes a promise of happiness, conditions that must be met in order to see those promises fulfilled, and threats of punishment for those who violate the conditions stipulated. 59 Man is to value God as his greatest good, and God promises to prove Himself true and faithful. To reject what God promises is to deny His goodness, to rebel against His sovereignty and to reject His holiness. When He stated "I will be your God" (Deuteronomy 26:17), He gave any member of the covenant "full liberty to glory in [Him], as his God, and to expect from Him, that He will become to man, in covenant with Him, what He is to Himself, even a fountain of consummate happiness." 60

Witsius identifies two covenants. One is legal and is called the covenant of works or nature. Its motto is "do this and live." The law included in it flows directly from the nature of God and is not a list of arbitrary rules He gives. 61 It includes love for neighbor since love for God leads us to love His image in our neighbor. This translates into a concern that our neighbor "be under God, in God, and for God, and all he has, be for His glory." 62 This law which is rooted in God is not only to govern our actions but our very nature as well. 63 The covenant of works also included a symbolic law – that is, not eating the forbidden fruit. This symbolic law served to reinforce that God is the Lord over all things and must be obeyed in every detail.

This first covenant situated Adam in a "state of acquiring a right" which he could have accomplished had he persisted in obedience. Adam's failure to acquire the right to happiness meant that if the goal of happiness was to be granted, it would have to be the result of mercy produced by a new covenant apart from good works. 64

The second covenant is the covenant of grace which calls fallen sinners to trust in Christ alone to provide the happiness referenced above. 65 Romans 8:3 assures us that God sent His Son in the flesh to do what the law could not do. Jesus procured for the elect eternal life and happiness. The condition of both covenants is the same – perfect obedience to God's Law. However, in the second covenant, it is Jesus who performs obedience in behalf of those corrupted by original sin. The aim of both covenants is the same – the glory of God. In the covenant of works, God acts as Lawgiver and presents Himself as the chief good calling His creatures to partake of His own happiness. There is no mediator in this covenant. It is its reliance on a substitute that chiefly distinguishes the covenant of grace from the covenant of works. In the covenant of works, man earns his reward. In the covenant of grace, the mediator merits eternal life and rewards for God's elect.

In the covenant of grace God acts as merciful, granting life to elect sinners, and Jesus is the mediator. In recalling the details above about Dr. Taylor's desire to protect and promote the glory of God by denying the doctrine of original sin, it seems that covenant theology actually accomplishes what Dr. Taylor desired. It glorifies God. God owes His creatures nothing, and if we produce anything that is proper, it is because of His goodness He supplies to us. But in making covenants God voluntarily indebts Himself to His people. 66 God loves Himself above all else as the chief good. So He loves His image in us. Love opens the door to union/communion in which men and women can partake of God's own happiness. 67

The covenant of works was a pact God initiated with Adam who served as the representative for the entire human race. He served in two roles – as a man and as the root of the human race. If he obeyed God's law the reward would have been communion with God for in Him alone is happiness to be found. Death was the punishment for disobedience. The later theologian, Edwards, agreed with Witsius that man was created just and able to delight in supreme truth and in the perfections of God. Adam was created with a holy will, daily revering and loving God as his chief good (Ecclesiastes 7:29). 68 Looking to the New Testament, to Paul's letter to the church of Ephesus (4:24) where he refers to the condition of regenerate man, Witsius concludes that Adam was created in God's image in regard to knowledge and righteousness and holiness. While in his original state, Adam had no need of redemption. Salvation was available to him through the tree of life. 69 Yet the quality of the righteousness Adam possessed in his pristine state was not the quality of righteousness required for eternal life because it was as yet unproven. The type of righteousness he possessed was able to provide virtue and the basis for acting properly (Ephesians 5:9). 70 Had it not been for the introduction of sin, the law would have conducted Adam to eternal life. 71 Paul says numerous times that a sinner cannot be justified by the works of the Law. Witsius reads backwards from this and interprets this to mean that at one time it would have been possible to receive eternal life through keeping the law. He asserts further that Adam would have been privy to more information than Moses records – both regarding the content of the law and the rewards promised for obedience. 72

To be entrusted with God's image was to be granted a precious treasure that should be guarded. Yet this calling was not an entirely independent enterprise. A creature cannot function without reference to or dependence on its Creator. So God actively preserved and supplied and sustained Adam's ability to honor the divine image within him. 73 In other words, Adam was lacking nothing required for sustaining obedience. The rule regarding good and evil was written on his conscience. This Witsius names the law of nature. The ruins of the law of nature are evident in humanity today (Romans 2:14-15). 74 In the new creation, the law is once again inscribed on the hearts of God's people as was foretold by Old Testament prophecy. All creation is dependent on its Creator, so if man is properly rational, it would only be because of being in communion with God who is supreme reason. 75 Recalling Dr. Taylor's reliance on reason and common sense which was antithetical to what is plain in divine revelation, it seems his major error may have been a failure to acknowledge dependence on divine providence or that God is supreme.

Again remembering Dr. Taylor, his argument that the commands given to Adam were not meant to involve the entirety of Adam's descendants, we note that Witsius points out that all would agree God's commands to Adam regarding marriage and procreation extend to the entire human race and not just to Adam. So when one considers that plus the evident fact that all humans share in Adam's penalty, it makes the most sense to conclude that Adam was the federal representative of the entire race just as Christ represented the elect in the covenant of grace. Witsius anticipates the arguments of those who may argue that God is unjust for including us in Adam by predicting that given the same situation as Adam faced, we would have done what he did. 76

Immediately after sinning Adam began to experience the beginnings of both spiritual and physical death. Witsius explains death as a bad disposition of the body which makes it unfit to host the soul any longer, causing the soul to depart. But the state of dying also includes sorrow, misery and hard labor which culminate in death and prevent life from being a true experience of living. True life includes happiness. Spiritual death is separation of the soul from God or when the Holy Spirit no longer resides there. 77 Thus the Apostle Paul referred to being alienated from the life of God (Ephesians 4:18). The Spirit of God illuminates, sanctifies and exhilarates the soul, producing wisdom, pure love and rejoicing out of a good conscience. Death in the soul then is characterized by folly, unholy affections and the torment of a guilty conscience. Witsius clarifies that both living and dead bodies have activity. The living body takes in nourishment and finds delight. The other rots and becomes foul. Likewise, living souls are nourished by God and delight in Him. Man's soul was made to contemplate God, to regard Him as truth and to set its affections on Him as the supreme good. A dead soul decomposes through impure and detestable affections and desires and thought. 78 This means spiritual death encompasses both sin and its effects. A consequence of sin is to be given over to sin because being given over to sin is death. The deadness in sin of this life is a prelude to eternal death. Throughout eternity the soul will be conscious of being deprived of supreme good. Such torment is worse suffering than the body being consumed by flames. 79 The death threatened as punishment for sin then can be summarized as lack of union with God. God's holiness means He must hate both sin and the sinner, for if He did not punish sin He would resemble the sinner because of His collaboration with it. 80 This does not mean that God takes delight in inflicting death. He does not because death destroys His creation (Ezekiel 33:11). God must choose the destruction of the sinner over the option of the destruction of His own glory. 81

One might wonder why sin is such a serious offense, meriting such horrific judgment. Witsius explains that sin is high treason against divine majesty. It is an attempt to pull God down and destroy both Him and His attributes. As mentioned previously, God loves Himself and both His majesty and glory and will punish any attempt by a sinner to injure either. This is referred to in Scripture as God being a jealous God. 82 Sin is so powerfully malignant because it is committed against an infinite good. 83

Included in his consideration of the Covenant of Works, Witsius identifies sacraments that belonged to that era. Sacraments are symbols which confirm promises and call man to his duty. They appeal to the eyes and also to the senses of touch and taste to supplement the Word of God which enters the ears. Sacraments reveal to us a foretaste of what is to come. Our author names four sacraments that he believes existed for Adam before the fall – paradise, the tree of life, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the Sabbath. 84 These sacraments are different from those instituted later because they do not point to justifying faith in Christ or to His ability to purify those corrupted by sin. 85

Paradise represented "the most profuse bounty of the Deity" and pointed to a grander residence in God's presence where one could enjoy God more directly than through His creation. It was calling man to pursue God as his great reward. 86 The rivers in Eden pointed to the river of water flowing from God's throne in heaven which signifies the Holy Spirit. The special place God created for man and the special delight God took in man should have led Adam to seek fulfilment in the Creator only and not in the creation. The food and water and rest in the Garden anticipate an even grander union with God who will satisfy His people forever. Adam was to keep his soul for God as he kept the garden. 87

The tree of life signified the Son of God, not in His role as Savior and Mediator because that role did not belong to the covenant of works, but more generally as the Source of life for all. The Son of God has life in Himself and is life. 88

The presence of fruit on the tree of the knowledge of good and evil should have caused Adam to consider its mystical significance. It was beautiful, but why was it there? Adam was to refrain from eating it to acknowledge God's dominion over him and that he in faith reserved himself for something greater God had promised. There is a greater good to be had and a deeper beauty to be discovered than merely what appeals to physical senses as the forbidden fruit did. 89

On the first Sabbath God delighted in His own attributes which were demonstrated in creation. Man, likewise, would be expected to do the same. 90 To sanctify the Sabbath would be to reserve it for the special purpose of honoring the Creator. The Sabbath also had a forward-looking aspect in that it pointed ahead to eternal rest and intimate communion with God when labor on earth is done. 91

The tragedy regarding the sacraments is that Adam valued a piece of fruit and personal freedom of choice above the promises of the covenant (not unlike the love of free choice that Dr. Taylor represented at his time in history). This leads one to question whether the nomenclature "covenant of works" is most appropriate to describe the first covenant since it seems to some that the failure was one of faith.

The serpent likely struck Eve as miraculous when he spoke. After procuring her attention he presented himself as an extraordinary teacher who at first seemed to be in agreement with God's ways but subtly challenged her as to whether or not she really understood God and His commands properly. Then he more boldly took the step of undermining the threat of death and promised a greater happiness if she would follow him rather than God. If one agrees with Witsius' assessment of what Adam had been promised, then Satan's deception played on God's promises by using terms of truth but assigning them new meaning. God had promised a future greater knowledge when Adam and Eve would see and know God more fully. Satan's way of attaining that promise was false. 92

After Adam and Eve committed their sin and the covenant of works was broken, were there parts of the covenant which were brought forward into even the present? Witsius says yes. The obligation to obey God perfectly still is in effect. The offering of eternal life on condition of obedience still stands. The threat of death as the punishment for sin is still in force. 93 But the first covenant makes no provision for a surety who can fulfil those conditions in place of helpless sinners. Regarding the continuing force of the covenant of works Witsius employs an analogy. He asks if an employer whose employee drinks too much and makes himself helplessly unfit to work would waive his requirements for duty because the employee is unable to work. Neither will God diminish the law even though Adam robbed the entire human race of any hope of meetings its demands. 94 Witsius makes a significant distinction, though, when he states that the law is in place because God remains our greatest good, and so it is always correct to love and obey Him. But the federal nature of the law is abrogated. It is no longer useful as a means to attain eternal life. 95

The covenant of grace actually did not dissolve the covenant of works but confirmed it because the Mediator of the covenant of grace fulfilled the requirements of that first covenant. 96 Witsius introduces the covenant of grace this way:

The covenant of grace is a compact or agreement between God and the elect sinner; God on his part declaring his free good-will concerning eternal salvation, and everything relative thereto, freely to be given to those in covenant, by, and for the mediator Christ; and man on his part consenting to that goodwill by a sincere faith. 97

Witsius broaches the subject of a covenant behind the covenant of grace – a covenant between God the Father and God the Son. The Father gave the Son to be the Head and Redeemer of the elect, and the Son willingly presented Himself as Sponsor or Surety for believers. The Father required obedience of the Son even to the point of death in return for which the Son would receive a name above all names. 98 Among other verses, Hebrews 7:22; Galatians 3:17; John 17:4-5 and Luke 22:29 allude to this pre-creation arrangement. Witsius then references numerous Scriptures that employ covenantal terminology when speaking of the relationship between Christ and the Father. In speaking of the Father Jesus employs the phrase "my God" and in speaking of the Mediator the Father refers to Him as a Servant. The account of Christ's baptism also provides information about the covenantal relationship between Father and Son. When submitting Himself to baptism Jesus declared Himself to have come in order to fulfill all righteousness. In turn, the Father declared His Son's position as Surety in the covenant to be acceptable. 99 God would grant salvation, and the Son would yield obedience and gratitude. It is of great comfort to us to realize that Christ's merit which earned for Himself the position of Head over all the elect in glory is inseparable from His meriting glory for us as well. His glory is the beginning and cause of ours. 100 It is an expression of love that He linked His glorification to ours.

In chapter IV of Book II, the author describes the two natures of the Surety with the fact that He had to possess both body and soul, and be perfectly righteous. The virgin birth insured that He was a true representative of Adam's race and able to fulfill the terms of the covenant of works, yet that He did not exist in Adam when Adam sinned and so avoided having Adam's sin imputed to Him. Neither did He share in the pollution passed on from Adam to the human race. 101 It was none other than God the Son who personally restored His image to the human nature He assumed. 102 While Adam's sin constituted the human race guilty before God, Christ's obedience constituted the elect righteous before God, earning for us eternal life as if we had performed such obedience ourselves. 103

Death as punishment for sin included with it all misery that is characteristic of those deprived of happiness. Witsius likens Christ's body to the veil in the temple (Matthew 27:51). As long as He was in His body sin and the curse were not yet removed, but once it was torn and subsequently raised again from the dead, a new way was consecrated for us, a way of access to heaven. 104 For the elect Christ secured immunity from misery and a right to eternal life (justification) which we begin to experience now as effectual calling, regeneration, sanctification, conservation and glorification. 105 The infinite dignity of Christ gave His sacrifice such a quality and value that it is powerful enough to save all the elect, and had God willed to save the entire world, there would have been more than enough effectiveness to accomplish it. 106 As a man Christ was subject to the law of love, and so He wept over the lost, yet He did not go beyond His commission from the Father to redeem the elect. Since the sacrifice of Christ effected every part of our salvation, even faith as the instrument of union with Christ, had Christ died for all, then all would eventually come to salvation. 107

During his discussion of the salvation our Surety provided for us, Witsius demonstrates the benefit of a covenantal understanding of Holy Scripture by employing it to mine explanations for the reader which may otherwise be overlooked. He raises the issue of what benefit Christ might have gained from participating in sacraments, including circumcision, baptism, the Holy Supper, etc. Even though the Scriptures do not specifically record a sentence which says Christ ate the bread at the Holy Supper, it is perfectly reasonable to assume that He did so since it was customary for the head of a family to eat first of the Passover bread after blessing it. 108 Luke 22:18 and Matthew 26:29 lead one to believe Jesus did partake of the cup. For Christ to partake would have been for Him to consecrate the sacrament in person. Witsius cites Chrysostom who said that Christ ate and drank to demonstrate that the elements were not literally His flesh and blood. 109

Jesus was baptized to fulfill all righteousness as He obeyed God's command. His participation was also a sign and seal of the covenant. In covenant ceremonies both parties partake and so bind themselves in their respective roles. Christ's actions confirmed the promises of Father to Son and Son to Father. The promises to Christ refer in part back to the covenant of works whereby happiness would be granted for obedience, as well as referring to the New Covenant, signifying that He would be supremely glorified as the Surety for His people and that the elect would be saved. Our participation in the sacrament seals to us regeneration, the death of the old man and the coming alive of the new, as well as the remission of sins – all of which is built upon the glorification of Christ. 110

In partaking of the sacraments Jesus was committing to His duty before God and the church. His own faith was strengthened by meditating on Scripture, praying and participating in instituted worship including the sacraments. 111 Christ's circumcision signified and sealed to Him that He is the promised seed of Abraham through whom all nations would be blessed. 112 In the Passover the Father acknowledged Jesus as the Lamb by whose blood His people would be delivered from the destroying angel. The Lord's Supper sealed to Him that He would be food for the elect to nourish us for eternal life. Further, it assured Him of a coming heavenly feast. 113

Book III begins with descriptions of the Trinitarian roles in the covenant God made with the elect. The Father appointed us joint-heirs with His Son. The Son is the Mediator by whose blood the covenant is ratified with us who were helpless to convert ourselves. The Spirit brings the elect to Christ and makes us partake of His benefits. He is the seal and guarantee of our complete happiness. 114 What Adam lost under the terms of the first covenant God restores in Christ. His law is written on our hearts. God promises to be our God and to own us as His people (Jeremiah 31:33; 32:38-40). The covenant of works promised life for obedience. The covenant of grace promises life as well as repentance and faith as the means to receive life. 115

Witsius discusses whether or not the covenant of grace has conditions. He realizes there is significant disagreement in the debate. His answer is no. He defines a condition as "that action, which, being performed, gives a man a right to the reward." 116 None of us can earn life for ourselves. Only Jesus could do that for us. Faith is not to be regarded as a condition for salvation but a gift that is a part of the overall gift of salvation. 117 He further elaborates on his position by stating that God presents the testament (covenant) as if it were a promise of reward for faith/obedience because He condescends to our level to show us we should seek and expect what He promises. 118

A helpful delineation is made in this work between the covenants, stipulating that the first covenant, the covenant of works ended in Eden. Confusion comes in referencing the covenant of grace because it was administered differently between the Old Testament and the New Testament. In that context it was referred to as the old covenant and new covenant, but actually both titles were naming two different economies of the same covenant which unfolded progressively. 119 In the Old Testament the land of Canaan served as a pledge of heaven, and the activity of the Spirit of grace was not demonstrated as abundantly as in the New when the Gentiles received a distinct share in the inheritance God extends to His people. The Mosaic Law contained types of spiritual realities, shadows that were later replaced by Christ. Later Witsius would plainly state that the Old Testament is the covenant of grace dispensed before the incarnation and includes eternal life, regeneration, faith, justification, etc., just as the New Testament does. 120

Witsius divides the Old Testament into periods as follows: From Adam to Noah the Gospel promise recorded in Genesis 3:15 was handed down through family instruction. Faith was expressed through sacrifices which were a seal of the Gospel of promise. Secondly, from Noah to Abraham, Noah was a preacher through whom Christ preached (1 Peter 3:19). Hebrews 11:7 regarded him as an heir of righteousness received by faith which was evidenced by his constructing the ark. This period included the covenant sealed with a rainbow. Thirdly, from Abraham to Moses, promises were made to Abraham and the covenantal sign of circumcision was initiated. Fourthly, beginning with Moses Christ demonstrated Himself as King by a display of royal glory when the Law was given at Sinai. The tabernacle and ark were constructed, and Israel's captors and enemies were defeated. This period ended with the tearing of the veil in the Temple at Christ's death. 121 The New Testament did not bring a new way of effecting propitiation/salvation, but brought a fulfillment of all the Old Testament expectations. 122

In describing the Holy Spirit's work, the Puritan writer defined effectual calling as "that act by which those, who are chosen by God, and redeemed by Christ, are sweetly invited, and effectually brought from a state of sin to a state of communion with God in Christ, both externally and internally." 123 The external call comes through hearing the Word, and the internal call is the work of the Holy Spirit. Not all sinners should be told that Christ died for them – only the ones who repent and believe. 124 For such persons God grants understanding, an open heart, a readiness to receive the Gospel, and He writes His law on our hearts as He puts reverence there for Himself. It is not that God drags along the unwilling but that He makes us willing. 125

Regeneration is here defined as "the supernatural act of God, whereby a new and divine life is infused into the elect person spiritually dead, and that from the incorruptible seed of the word of God, made fruitful by the infinite power of the Spirit." 126 There is no other solution for those who became dead in Adam. Regeneration constitutes the soul so that it can now act in a way acceptable to God. Without regeneration there is no repentance or love for God. No one can produce regeneration in herself. 127 Regeneration may be implanted in a person and slowly manifest itself. In this section Witsius speaks of elect infants who die at a very early age and young children who at an early age demonstrate "holy longings" such as are exhibited in a tender conscience or a devotion to prayer. 128

Faith is the principle act of regeneration. It produces a "holy energy and activity of the whole soul towards God in Christ. 129 It includes a multi-step progression of activity in a believer's heart. First it embraces knowledge of the truth. Secondly it assents to the truth and confesses that God is true. Thirdly, it spawns love of truth, followed by (fourthly) hunger and thirst after Christ. The final culminating phase is receiving Christ for justification and sanctification. 130

In his discussion of justification we read that justification destroys the power of sin to condemn while sanctification destroys the dominion of sin. Even though the works of justified believers are imperfect here on this earth they will be recognized on judgment day as the products of grace and union with Christ. 131

Reconciliation is understood as "a mutual concord between God and the sinner, who is justified by faith; so that the heart of God is carried out towards man, and in like manner, the heart of man towards God, by a delightful inclination of friendship." 132 Adam's sin turned humanity into haters of God. God alone is the Author of peace and alone can restore it to our souls by reconstituting our relationship with Him and teaching us the reality of His love for us. 133

Regarding adoption and becoming sons of God, Witsius notes that angels are called sons of God because they resemble His holiness. Adam was a true son because created in God's own image and was loved and granted dominion over all creation. However, Adam forfeited that dignity, but the elect regain it in Christ by means of a new, spiritual generation from above. No normal descendant of Adam can produce this adoption himself. Since we are adopted we have been granted rights and privileges as children of God who are guaranteed an inheritance. Here we learn of the meaning of a testament which is a will made effective at death. The immutable will of God was recorded in Scripture and ratified by Christ's shed blood. 134

Sanctification is "that real work of God, by which they, who are chosen, regenerated, and justified, are continually more and more transformed from the turpitude of sin, to the purity of the divine image." 135 A sanctified person begins to do what Adam failed to do. He recognizes purity in God, equity in His law and holiness in Jesus. He recognizes his highest goal as resembling God's purity and holiness. He does not attempt to correct God or improve on His Word. Sanctification is a progressive activity whereby sin is driven out as the new life enters. The old nature is not merely rehabilitated, but brand new habits are conferred. 136

God provides means to be employed on the path of sanctification. "The use of these means is required of man, yet their efficacy depends on the blessing of God alone. Nor indeed is it without the interposition of God, that man can and will savingly use those means." 137 These means include meditation on the Holy Scriptures with its promises and threats and examples of the saints and explanation of Christ's life and sacrifice, devout prayer, sincere examination of our own consciences evaluating our words and thoughts and actions regularly, etc. 138 The flesh hampers this process but does not reign over us. Witsius points out that under the Old Testament law when an earthen vessel was declared ceremonially unclean it remained so until it was broken and destroyed (Leviticus 11:33). Second Corinthians 4:7 refers to us as earthen vessels. Therefore, these bodies will be unclean until destroyed by death. As new habits are graciously given by the sanctifying Spirit of God, there remains within us vestiges of the old man which oppose the divine work. 139

At this point in his teaching Witsius includes some similar elements as Dr. Taylor's dynamic of benefits from hardship, although used in a very different way. Dr. Taylor believed that death was a blessing from God which gave a person a desire for heaven and produced positive character qualities. Rev. Witsius credited these benefits not to death and misery but to the life brought into the soul by God's Spirit's presence. Witsius says that the spiritual struggle in us drives us on toward heaven and develops patience, humility and sympathy for others. It proves that salvation is by grace alone and that human effort cannot begin to deliver someone dead in sin. 140 A point of clarification is offered concerning whether or not a person can achieve perfection in this lifetime. Witsius held that perfection will only be a reality in heaven, but what is one to make of references in Scripture to a person who is noted to be perfect? The perfection of characters such as Job (Job 1:1) refers to a depth of sincerity in devotion to God, notably lacking hypocrisy, the whole self being given in commitment to God and His law. 141

Next comes a discussion of conservation which is a gracious work of God, whereby he so keeps the elect, the redeemed, the regenerated, the faithful and the sanctified, though in themselves weak, and apt to fall away, internally by the most powerful efficacy of his Spirit, externally by the means which he has wisely appointed for that purpose, that they shall never quite lose the habits of those graces once infused into them, but be certainly brought, by a steadfast perseverance, to eternal salvation. 142

Here he draws a distinction between those who are elected to eternal glory and Israel whose election was to the communion of an external covenant (Romans 11:7). 143 While unproductive branches are broken off and discarded (John 15:6) true believers were given to Christ by the Father as a fruit of His labor (John 17:6) and therefore cannot be lost (John 10:29). 144 God authors and guarantees the salvation of the elect (Jeremiah 32:38-40). Christ will preserve His bride to present to Himself without any parts missing. 145

Last in this section of the text is glorification, or "the gracious act of God, whereby he actually translates his chosen and redeemed people, from an unhappy and base, to a happy and glorified state." 146 Glorification is begun in this life and completed in the next. Already in this life rays of divine light break into the soul. Witsius says that nothing more excites our love for God than "the knowledge, sense and taste of the divine love" we begin here and now to experience. 147 We grasp this vision of God both by faith and by our experiences, especially through practicing spiritual disciplines. 148 For some as death approaches and the soul begins to ascend to heaven, heaven begins to descend into the soul, and while still present with the body they are able to relate what they see. A part of glorification also is receiving assurance of salvation. Referring by analogy to Joseph who spent time in prison before entering Pharaoh's court to rule, Witsius asks, "If God does so great things for his people in the prison, what will he do in the palace?" 149

In the fourth and final book of which the two volumes under consideration are composed, Witsius starts off with a consideration of the doctrine of salvation during the first age of the world. He continues to demonstrate how the covenant paradigm makes portion after portion of the Scriptures clear. The beginning discussion ties the condemnation of the devil (Genesis 3:14-15) to the absolution of Adam and Eve. The serpent which led humans astray is cursed. Satan's power is curtailed, and Witsius believes he is no longer permitted to approach men in the same direct way. His influence is restricted to earthly-minded men destined for hell. He cannot stop the church or God's plans for it. His realm is dust, and so he can only harm the body of dust but cannot dislodge the soul from God's possession. When the body is destroyed, Satan will have no more access to the believer. Licking the dust is a sign of defeat, and so the sentence passed on the serpent foretells Satan's complete demise. In a serpent's head are contained craftiness and poisonous venom. Thus it was foretold that his head would be bruised. Destroying his head would destroy his power over men (Romans 16:20). Placing enmity between the serpent and the woman's offspring refers to sanctification as we learn to hate and detest the devil's work. Satan would be defeated by One who is man, but in order to be more powerful than Satan must also be God. Thus it was Jesus who bruised Satan's head by paying a ransom for the elect. Satan bruised the Messiah's heel by affecting him for a short time, but Satan's wounds were eternally fatal. The woman whom Satan deceived would become the instrument for his overthrow. The reference to the seed of the woman refers not merely to seed according to the law of nature but according to the promise of grace. Therefore it refers to the body of Christ. Adam demonstrated his faith in God's promises by naming his wife Eve, mother of the living, after the fall occurred. 150 The following chapters continue to unfold the covenant understanding of God's dealings with Noah and Abraham and their descendants.

Regarding the Ten Commandments, Witsius does not believe that these laws were previously unknown but that they had been handed down by word of mouth. Through Moses the Law was combined and expanded with greater detail, then recorded for permanent use. As he lists the three types of law given to Israel – moral, ceremonial and political/forensic, he explains that these correspond to Israel's existing as rational creature bound by the law of nature, as the church of the Old Testament which looked forward to the coming of the Messiah, and as a peculiar people who lived as God's people in Canaan under a theocracy. 151 God wrote the Ten Commandments on stone Himself. The only other known time that God writes law Himself is on the hearts of believers. 152 Only God has power to override the innate sin in the human heart present from birth and instead write new operating principles there.

Witsius states that the law God provided for Adam was the rule of nature and that it was stamped on his heart. It was the condition of the covenant of works which if performed would lead to happiness. Thus he believed that the Mosaic Law is a repetition of the terms of the covenant of works, but not given for the same purpose because that covenant had been abrogated, and in it there was no provision for pardon. 153 Israel, however, embraced it as a covenant of works and attempted to use it to justify themselves. 154 He states that God was not expecting fallen Israel to live perfect lives but to practice a sincerity of heart and have faith in His love and commit themselves to Him to save them, practicing constant repentance. 155

After the fall the law mainly condemns but also can serve as a restraint in fallen man to enable civil government to exist so humanity can be preserved. 156 Under the covenant of grace, the law is used by the Spirit of God to strip away all self-confidence and delusions of self-sufficiency in man. The Israelites witnessed Moses, the Law-giver, glowing after having been with God, and should have been taught by that how far they were from reflecting divine glory. 157 Man's only hope is to rely on Christ and His redeeming work.

After conversion the law serves as a guide for our gratitude and love for God. It confirms election as it enables us to interpret our own actions as God's gracious working in us (sanctification). 158 Therefore Witsius saw the Law as useful to both the covenant of works and the covenant of grace. 159 He calls the law the Sinaitic Covenant, intending covenant here to mean precept, and says that the Sinaitic Covenant is neither to be confused with nor separated from the Covenant of Grace. 160

Following this discussion is a portion dedicated to types and other foreshadowings of Christ in the Old Testament. For example, the sacrifice of animals in the Old Testament under the covenant of grace called the man offering the sacrifice to offer his whole self as a living sacrifice in faith and love as the sacrifice itself pointed to God's promise to remove sins through the coming Christ. 161

Among the Old Testament sacraments explained is circumcision. Circumcision was never meant to lead anyone to believe it could save, otherwise one might assume God would have prescribed it to be administered on the first day of life and not on the eighth. 162 Circumcision was both a sign and a seal of God's promise to send a Messiah by whom would come earthly, spiritual and heavenly blessings. A seal is a solemn declaration that the recipient is a partaker of the promises made to Abraham and which should draw one into a lifestyle of faith and anticipating blessing through the coming Messiah. It is a seal of righteousness acquired by faith. It signifies misery in that the part affected is used in reproduction, indicating that humans are sinful from the time of conception. The painful cutting brings to mind the separation and death sinners deserve. 163

Later chapters describe the covenantal significance of the Passover, the passage through the Red Sea, manna from heaven, water from the rock and the brazen serpent. Looking to the New Testament, the sacrament of baptism by its use of water signifies the drowning of the old nature and the new life found in Christ. Thus the old self is no longer liable to stand judgment and no longer able to exercise dominion over the body (justification and sanctification). Being washed, we should not subject ourselves to pollution once again. 164

Baptism is a sacrament representing regeneration and ingrafting into the body of Christ. The subject is passive. However, the Lord's Supper is a sacrament indicating nutrition, and so one is called to examine himself before participating. Just as the bread and wine are converted into the substance of the one eating and drinking, so Christ comes to live in us. This particular sacrament seals to us our mystical, intimate union/communion with Christ. 165

Where Is Covenant in the Heidelberg Catechism?

While the covenants named in this study may not be specifically named in the Heidelberg Catechism, the Heidelberg Catechism was referred to by Witsius on more than one occasion as a suitable basis for doctrine and for explaining the covenants. He referred to questions 31, 67, 70, 75 and 80 regarding the satisfaction rendered by Christ's sufferings166 and to question 42 regarding why believers still have to die if Christ has already died in their place. 167

The Catechism was written by Caspar Olevianus and Zacharias Ursinus in 1563. There have been at least two works published elaborating on the covenant theology of Olevianus. 168 Ursinus wrote The Commentary of Dr. Zacharias Ursinus on the Heidelberg Catechism which references the word covenant under the discussion of approximately twenty-nine of the one hundred and twenty-nine questions. While the systematic formulation of covenants was not included in the text of the catechism itself, Ursinus devoted space to explaining it in his commentary, and he did include it in the text of another catechism he produced, the Catechesis maior. The overall content of the Heidelberg Catechism is covenant theology, revealing the total depravity resulting from Adam's fall, the designation of Christ by the Father to fulfill the offices of prophet, priest and king, and to be the Mediator who would accomplish salvation for the elect as a Substitute offering His life as a ransom. Believers are justified by faith and by the ministry of the Holy Spirit have their hearts refurbished with new affections which are nourished by the preaching of the Word and the Sacraments. There is much material in the catechism which is beautifully arranged in such a way as to make available Biblical theology to a common person.

Nathan Decker observed that while the Heidelberg Catechism does not include a Lord's Day devoted to the covenants, Ursinus in another catechism wrote, "What firm comfort do you have in life and death? That I was created by God in His image for eternal life; and after I willfully lost this in Adam, God, out of infinite and free mercy, took me into his covenant of grace that he might give me faith, righteousness and eternal life because of the obedience and death of his Son who was sent in the flesh." 169 The whole of the catechism presents the believer's living relationship with Jesus, the essence of the covenant of grace.

In response to the idea raised at the beginning of this paper that covenant theology did not exist before the Puritans, R. Scott Clark explains that there are references in early church writings which reveal themes such as the unity of the covenant of grace, the superiority of the new covenant over the era characterized by Moses' Law, union of the Jews and Gentiles in Christ and both being identified as Abraham's children, and a stress on moral obligations of participants in the covenant of grace. It was through the confusion of Medieval theology and then the challenges directed at the Reformers that a more detailed covenant theology came to be articulated. 170

One aspect of covenant theology that is included in Witsius' writings was not yet developed when the Heidelberg Catechism was written. That is the covenant of works. Richard Muller understands the covenant of works to be a doctrinal construct. As noted earlier, it is not particularly named in Scripture. It was formed by "a comparison of a series of biblical loci." 171 One arrives at the concept of the covenant of works almost by reasoning backward from the covenant of grace. Wilhelmus ‡ Brakel said that if one did not understand the covenant of works he would not truly grasp the covenant of grace and the true mediatorial role Christ played. Nor would one understand properly Christ's active obedience that merited eternal life for the elect. 172 Not everyone shares this favorable view of covenant theology. There are those who consider it to be a departure from the Reformers' theology and accuse it of wrongly creating a priority of law over grace. But Calvin had emphasized the legal relationship between God and man, the tree of life as sacramental, the idea that sacraments are covenantal signs, the law of Moses as a legal pact, and a relationship between Adam and Christ which explains Christ's redemptive fulfilment of the law. He did not however summarize these things with the terminology "covenant of works." 173

F. W. Dillistone has noted that covenant terms were seldom used in sixteenth century confessions. Showing antagonism toward the concept he alleges that the covenant of works as expressed in the Westminster Confession is "a fictitious invention which has no Scriptural foundation." 174 Nico Bakker who is critical of Witsius claims that the covenant of grace is Witsius' covenant of works repackaged to simply present Christ as Surety instead of us. He accuses covenant theology of relegating the covenant of grace to the shadow of the covenant of nature. 175 Still others see it as a departure from the Three Forms of Unity.

O. Palmer Robertson, noting the absence of much of covenant theology from the classic creeds of the Reformers is specifically hesitant about the covenant of redemption, or the covenant referred to earlier as the covenant Witsius described between the Father and Son which underlies the covenant of grace. Robertson calls this covenant an artificial construct as well. He hesitates to use terminology "covenant of works" and "covenant of grace" for fear it gives the impression that grace was not in play in Paradise or that works play no part in present-day salvation. 176

John Murray does not use covenant language to define the pre-Fall relations in Paradise, but his references to the Adamic administration seem to be an equivalent, including the same elements. 177

Many will continue to wrestle with the terminology used to express the plain Biblical concepts contained in the catechism of misery, salvation and gratitude. In his commentary on Question eighteen of the Heidelberg Catechism, Ursinus states that there is only one covenant which is "two-fold in circumstances," referring to the Old and New Testaments. 178 However, in his Major Catechism he does use foedus naturale but not foedus operum. 1791 Berkhof cites Bullinger and Olevianus as the first to present federal theology as a "constitutive principle of the entire system." 180 Dirk Visser argues that God's rest on the seventh day of creation and the appearance of the fourth commandment in the law of Moses lays the foundation for understanding that the law of nature was a moral law, preferred to be known by some as the covenant of works. 181 Ursinus does refer in other writings to a natural covenant which required perfect obedience, the reward for which was eternal life and the punishment being eternal in nature. 182 This would indicate that the seventeenth-century Puritans were not as disconnected from the sixteenth as some would suggest.

While the covenant of works was not mentioned in the 1530-1560 time period, by 1600 it was well developed. 183 While there was little mention of such a concept in Zwingli, Tyndale, Bullinger or Calvin who all focused on the single covenant of grace, as time went on theologians began to work backwards from Moses to Adam. 184 Thomas Cartwright began to see how the covenant or works prepared for and explained and magnified the covenant of grace. William Perkins openly acknowledged two covenants that were different in "nature, substance and kind." The one was summarized by "do this and live," and the other was plainly all of grace. 185 It is helpful to know that Perkins was responding to a Roman Catholic idea of a covenant which mingled law and grace together. His goal was to develop a scheme which would separate the two and elevate the Gospel. 186 By 1595 Polanus wrote of the covenant of life and death in Eden which was later repeated at Sinai. 187

Regardless of what terminology is used in describing the relationship between law and Gospel, the content of the Heidelberg Catechism cannot be classified as lacking because there is no Lord's Day devoted to covenants. The truth of covenant theology is plainly presented. Indeed, the teachings of Edwards and Witsius are most useful for making plain the truths of Holy Scripture and magnifying the perfect obedience and sacrifice of Jesus as well as guarding the church from error amid many notions of how the testaments fit together or what the role of the law should be in the present or how corrupt man truly is by nature.


Beach, J. Mark. "The Doctrine of the Pactum Salutis in the Covenant Theology of Herman Witsius." Mid-America Journal of Theology 13 (2002): pp. 101-142.

Beeke, Joel R. "The Life and Theology of Herman Witsius." In The Economy of the Covenants.

Between God and Man vol. 1, by Herman Witsius. Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2010, rpt.

Clark, R. Scott. "The History of Covenant Theology," Retrieved from www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/history-covenant-theology/.

Decker, Nathan. "The Covenant and the Confessions." Protestant Reformed Theological Journal 48, no. 1 (November 2014): pp. 3-22.

Edwards, Jonathan. "The Great Christian Doctrine of Original Sin Defended." The Works of Jonathan Edwards. Vol. 1, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2011, reprinted from an 1834 edition published in Great Britain.

Jenson, Robert W. America's Theologian: A Recommendation of Jonathan Edwards. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.

--------. "Mr Edwards' Affections." Dialog 24, no. 3 (Sum 1985): pp. 169-175.

McGiffert, Michael. "From Moses to Adam: The Making of the Covenant of Works." The Sixteenth Century Journal XIX, no. 2 (Summer 1988): pp. 131-155.

Muller, Richard. "The Covenant of Works and the Stability of Divine Law in Seventeenth-Century Reformed Orthodoxy: A Study in the Theology of Herman Witsius and Wilhelmus ˆ Brakel." Calvin Theological Journal 29, no. 1 (April 1994): pp. 75-100.

Packer, J. I. "Introduction on Covenant Theology." In The Economy of the Covenants Between God and Man vol. 1, by Herman Witsius. Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2010, rpt.

Russell, Andrew C. "Polemical Solidarity: John Wesley and Jonathan Edwards Confront John Taylor on Original Sin." Wesleyan Theological Journal 47, no. 2 (Fall 2012): p. 72-88.

Schaff, Phillip. The Principle of Protestantism. Ed. Bard Thompson and George H. Bricker, vol. 1 of Lancaster Series on the Mercersburg Theology. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2004. This work was previously published by United Church Press, 1845.

Ursinus, Zacharias. The Commentary of Zacharias Ursinus on the Heidelberg Catechism.

Trans. G. W. Williard. Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1852, rpt.

Visser, Derk. "The Covenant in Zacharias Ursinus." The Sixteenth Century Journal XVIII, no. 4 (Winter 1987): pp. 531-544.

Witsius, Herman. The Economy of the Covenants Between God and Man. Vols. 1 & 2. Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2010, rpt.


  1. Philip Schaff, The Principle of Protestantism, ed. Bard Thompson and George H. Bricker, vol. 1 of Lancaster Series on the Mercersburg Theology (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2004), p. 78. This work was previously published by United Church Press, 1845.
  2. Robert W. Jenson, "Mr Edwards' Affections," Dialog 24, no. 3 (Sum 1985): p. 169.
  3. Robert W. Jenson, America's Theologian: A Recommendation of Jonathan Edwards (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988), p. 3.
  4. Jonathan Edwards, "The Great Christian Doctrine of Original Sin Defended," The Works of Jonathan Edwards Vol. 1 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2011, reprinted from an 1834 edition published in Great Britain), p. 146.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid., p. 218.
  7. Ibid., pp. 147-148.
  8. Ibid., p. 148.
  9. Ibid., pp. 150-151.
  10. Ibid., pp. 151-152.
  11. Ibid., p. 152.
  12. See argument on p. 171.
  13. Ibid., pp. 153-154.
  14. Ibid., p. 154.
  15. Ibid., p. 156.
  16. Ibid., p. 157.
  17. Ibid, p. 160.
  18. Ibid., p. 161.
  19. Ibid., p. 162.
  20. Ibid., pp. 163-167.
  21. Ibid., p. 171.
  22. Ibid., p. 167.
  23. Ibid., p. 216.
  24. Ibid., p. 168.
  25. Ibid., pp. 168-169.
  26. Ibid., p. 173.
  27. Ibid., p. 174.
  28. Ibid., pp. 175-176.
  29. Ibid., p. 187-189. See also David's statement in Psalm 51:5 about being sinful from conception.
  30. Andrew C. Russell, "Polemical Solidarity: John Wesley and Jonathan Edwards Confront John Taylor on Original Sin" Wesleyan Theological Journal 47, no. 2 (Fall 2012): p. 74.
  31. Ibid., p. 77.
  32. Edwards, pp. 217-219.
  33. Ibid., p. 221.
  34. Ibid., p. 178.
  35. Ibid., p. 179.
  36. Ibid., p. 183.
  37. Ibid., p. 184.
  38. Ibid., p. 187, 194-195. Compare also verses such as Jeremiah 17:9; Ecclesiastes 9:3; Matthew 16:23; Job 15:16; John 14:17; 15:18-19; 17:9; 1 John 5:19.
  39. Ibid., p. 193.
  40. Ibid., pp. 199-200.
  41. Ibid., pp. 221, 218, footnote.
  42. Ibid., p. 218.
  43. Ibid., pp. 200-201.
  44. Ibid., p. 204.
  45. Ibid., p. 211.
  46. Ibid., p. 212.
  47. Ibid., p. 213.
  48. Ibid., p. 215.
  49. Ibid., p. 224.
  50. Joel R. Beeke, "The Life and Theology of Herman Witsius" in The Economy of the Covenants Between God and Man vol. 1, by Herman Witsius (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2010, rpt.), p. 3.
  51. Ibid., pp. 5, 10.
  52. Ibid., p. 16.
  53. Ibid., p. 20.
  54. J. I. Packer, "Introduction on Covenant Theology" in The Economy of the Covenants Between God and Man vol. 1, by Herman Witsius (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2010, rpt.), p. 27.
  55. Ibid., p. 29.
  56. Ibid., p. 30.
  57. Herman Witsius, The Economy of the Covenants Between God and Man vol. 1 (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2010, rpt.), pp. 42-43.
  58. Ibid., p. 44.
  59. Ibid., pp. 45-46.
  60. Ibid., pp. 47-48.
  61. Ibid., p. 65.
  62. Ibid., p. 66.
  63. Ibid., p. 68.
  64. Ibid., p. 71.
  65. Ibid., p. 49.
  66. Ibid., p. 77.
  67. Ibid., pp. 77-79.
  68. Ibid., pp. 50-51.
  69. Ibid., p. 54.
  70. Ibid., p. 55.
  71. Ibid., p. 73.
  72. Ibid., p. 75.
  73. Ibid., p. 57.
  74. Ibid., p. 60.
  75. Ibid., pp. 62-63.
  76. Ibid., pp. 58-59.
  77. Ibid., pp. 83, 86.
  78. Ibid., pp. 86-87, 89.
  79. Ibid., pp. 89-90.
  80. Ibid., pp. 96-97.
  81. Ibid., pp. 100-101.
  82. Ibid., p. 93.
  83. Ibid., p. 103.
  84. Ibid., p. 105.
  85. Ibid., p. 106.
  86. Ibid., p. 107.
  87. Ibid., pp. 108-110.
  88. Ibid., p. 112.
  89. Ibid., pp. 113-114.
  90. Ibid., pp. 119-120.
  91. Ibid., pp. 122-124.
  92. Ibid., pp. 137-138.
  93. Ibid., p. 151.
  94. Ibid., p. 154.
  95. Ibid., pp. 155, 159.
  96. Ibid., p. 160.
  97. Ibid., p. 165.
  98. Ibid.
  99. Ibid., p. 172.
  100. Ibid., p. 191.
  101. Ibid., p. 196.
  102. Ibid., p. 200.
  103. Ibid., p. 209.
  104. Ibid., pp. 213, 216.
  105. Ibid., p. 235.
  106. Ibid., p. 256.
  107. Ibid., p. 270.
  108. Ibid., p. 271.
  109. Ibid., p. 272.
  110. Ibid., pp. 273-274.
  111. Ibid., p. 277.
  112. Ibid., p. 278.
  113. Ibid., pp. 279-280.
  114. Ibid., pp. 281-283.
  115. Ibid., p. 284.
  116. Ibid.
  117. Ibid., p. 286.
  118. Ibid., p. 288.
  119. Ibid., pp. 307-308.
  120. Herman Witsius, The Economy of the Covenants Between God and Man vol. 2 (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2010, rpt.), p. 316. See also pp. 328-329, 335.
  121. Witsius, vol. 1, pp. 313-317.
  122. Ibid., pp. 322ff.
  123. Ibid., p. 344.
  124. Ibid., p. 353.
  125. Ibid., p. 354.
  126. Ibid., p. 357.
  127. Ibid., pp. 358-361.
  128. Ibid., pp. 366-367.
  129. Ibid., p. 373.
  130. Ibid., pp. 375-382.
  131. Ibid., pp. 396, 424.
  132. Ibid., p. 428.
  133. Ibid., pp, 430, 441.
  134. Ibid., pp. 442-456.
  135. Witsius, vol. 2, p. 6.
  136. Ibid., pp. 13, 17-18.
  137. Ibid., p. 39.
  138. Ibid., pp. 39-44.
  139. Ibid., p. 46.
  140. Ibid., p. 47.
  141. Ibid., p. 48.
  142. Ibid., p. 55.
  143. Ibid., p. 56. See also pp. 318-319.
  144. Ibid., p. 61.
  145. Ibid., p. 68.
  146. Ibid., p. 82.
  147. Ibid., p. 78
  148. Ibid., pp. 83-84.
  149. Ibid., p. 86.
  150. Ibid., pp. 110-126.
  151. Ibid., p. 162.
  152. Ibid., p. 171.
  153. Ibid., p. 182.
  154. Ibid., p. 184.
  155. Ibid., p. 181.
  156. Ibid., pp. 179-180.
  157. Ibid., p. 174.
  158. Ibid., p. 181.
  159. Ibid., p. 186.
  160. Ibid., p. 336.
  161. Ibid., p. 239.
  162. Ibid., p. 251.
  163. Ibid., pp. 252-253.
  164. Ibid., p. 433-434, 438.
  165. Ibid., pp. 458, 462.
  166. Witsius, vol. 1, p. 226.
  167. Ibid., p. 231.
  168. See R. Scott Clark, Caspar Olevian and the Substance of the Covenant and Lyle D. Bierma, The Covenant Theology of Caspar Olevianus.
  169. Nathan Decker, "The Covenant and the Confessions," Protestant Reformed Theological Journal 48, no. 1 (November 2014): p. 8.
  170. R. Scott Clark, "The History of Covenant Theology," Retrieved from www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/history-covenant-theology/.
  171. Richard Muller, "The Covenant of Works and the Stability of Divine Law in Seventeenth-Century Reformed Orthodoxy: A Study in the Theology of Herman Witsius and Wilhelmus á Brakel," Calvin Theological Journal 29, no. 1 (April 1994): p. 75.
  172. Ibid., p. 76.
  173. Ibid., pp. 88-89.
  174. Quoted in J. Mark Beach, "The Doctrine of the Pactum Salutis in the Covenant Theology of Herman Witsius," Mid-America Journal of Theology 13 (2002): pp. 106-107.
  175. Ibid., pp. 108-109.
  176. Ibid., pp. 114-115.
  177. Ibid., p. 113.
  178. Zacharias Ursinus, The Commentary of Zacharias Ursinus on the Heidelberg Catechism, trans. G. W. Williard (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, rpt. 1852), p. 98.
  179. Derk Visser, "The Covenant in Zacharias Ursinus," The Sixteenth Century Journal XVIII, no. 4 (Winter 1987): p. 533.
  180. Ibid., p. 534, footnote.
  181. Ibid., p. 536.
  182. Ibid., p. 539.
  183. Michael McGiffert, "From Moses to Adam: The Making of the Covenant of Works," The Sixteenth Century Journal XIX, no. 2 (Summer 1988): p. 132.
  184. Ibid., pp. 133, 142.
  185. Ibid., pp. 143-145.
  186. Ibid., p. 146.
  187. Ibid., p. 151.
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