Posted by: Standing Solus Christus | June 8, 2008

Lord’s Day Quote: Robert Rollock

Now therefore we are to speak of the word or of the covenant of God having first set down this ground that all of the word of God pertains to some covenant.  For God speaks nothing to man without, for which cause all the Scripture both old and new bears the name of God’s covenant.  The covenant of God generally is a promise, under some one certain condition.  And it is twofold, the first is the Covenant of Works, the second is the Covenant of Grace.  Paul in Galatians 4:24 expressly sets down two covenants, which in the old testament were shadowed by two women as by two type to wit Hager the handmaiden and Sarah the freewomen.  For saith he, these be those two covenants let us then speak something of those two covenants. 


And first of the Covenant of Works, the Covenant of Works which may also be called a legal or natural covenant is founded in nature, which by creation was pure and holy and in the law of God in the first creation engraven in man’s heart.  Therefore, the ground of the Covenant of Works was not Christ, nor the grace of God in Christ, but the nature of man who in his first creation was holy and perfect endued with the knowledge of the law.  There was no mediator for this covenant. For in the creation we were God’s friends and not his enemies.  Now to come unto the condition, the condition of the Covenant of Works is the condition of good works.  Of good works, I say not that proceed from Christ nor from His grace but from nature only and the integrity thereof.  And being informed with a knowledge of the law, and perfectly good as it was in the first creation, proceeding I say from the ground of the Covenant of Works.  Therefore, works mere naturally good, only, are required as the condition of the Covenant of Works.


So then by this condition do you exclude hence faith in Christ? I do. And do you except here from the condition of the Covenant of Works all the works of grace and regeneration?  I do except these also.  But the Covenant of Works is often propounded in the Gospel to such as be in grace and in Christ Jesus.  For how often is the reward of eternal life promised to such as do well.  Wherefore it may seem that the works of regeneration appertain also to the Covenant of Works which that such works be required of them which be under grace.  I answer the antecedent is false.  For if at anytime we read or hear in the Gospel of grace that works be required of them which be in Christ and justified by Him to that end that they may obtain eternal life we may not think that God speak unto them after the Covenant of Works.  For in the Gospel, good works are required of them that be in Christ, not such as proceed from their own nature nor such that proceed from their own strength but only such as proceed by the grace of regeneration.  As for that place in Matthew 19:17, where Christ is said to say of a young man who called upon Him saying, “Master what works must I do to inherit eternal life?” The Lord answered, “If thou wilt enter into eternal life, keep the commandments.”  I grant that here he understandeth the Covenant of Works and that the Lord propoundeth to the young man the form of the Covenant of Works.


But observe that the Lord so answereth to one that sought his life and salvation by the law.  And which did unto cleave unto the Covenant of Works and trusted to works as meritorious.  For so the Covenant of Works and the rule of the law must be set before everyone which is without Christ seeking righteousness by the law and works of the law to this end.  If it may be that by the sense of sin and feeling of his own misery he may be prepared to embrace the Covenant of Grace, in Christ.  Know this then that to such as be in Christ the Covenant of Works to them is abolished and of none effect so far as by it justification and salvation are obtained.  I grant the law abideth which is the rule of those works, but now it have another special use.  For it serveth for our direction in the works of grace and sanctification.  In the free Covenant of Grace, or Gospel, the first ground is our mediator Jesus Christ who did purchase and merit a new grace and mercy of God for us.  The first and principle grace in this covenant is righteousness and this justice which is here promised in the Covenant of Grace is no inherent righteousness as that original justice was but is the righteousness of our mediator Jesus Christ which is ours by faith and the imputation of God.  Next after this kind of righteousness which is by imputation there is another inherent justice promised in the Covenant of Grace.  Even just as such as sanctity and goodness of nature as was lost in the fall of man and this is but begun in this life but perfected in another.  And this heavenly and spiritual life doth proceed from all that righteousness of Christ, which is imputed to us by faith.


Robert Rollock


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