Systematic Theology - Vol. 2

By Charles Hodge | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VI.

COVENANT OF WORKS.

GOD having created man after his own image in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, entered into a covenant of life with him, upon condition of perfect obedience, forbidding him to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil upon the pain of death.

According to this statement, (1.) God entered into a covenant with Adam. (2.) The promise annexed to that covenant was life. (3.) The condition was perfect obedience. (4.) Its penalty was death.


§ 1. God entered into Covenant with Adam.

This statement does not rest upon any express declaration of the Scriptures. It is, however, a concise and correct mode of asserting a plain Scriptural fact, namely, that God made to Adam a promise suspended upon a condition, and attached to disobedience a certain penalty. This is what in Scriptural language is meant by a covenant, and this is all that is meant by the term as here used. Although the word covenant is not used in Genesis, and does not elsewhere, in any clear passage, occur in reference to the transaction there recorded, yet inasmuch as the plan of salvation is constantly represented as a New Covenant, new, not merely in antithesis to that made at Sinai, but new in reference to all legal covenants whatever, it is plain that the Bible does represent the arrangement made with Adam as a truly federal transaction. The Scriptures know nothing of any other than two methods of attaining eternal life : the one that which demands perfect obedience, and the other that which demands faith. If the latter is called a covenant, the former is declared to be of the same nature. It is of great importance that the Scriptural form of presenting truth should be retained. Rationalism was introduced into the Church under the guise of a philosophical statement of the truths of the Bible free from the mere outward form in which the sacred writers, trained in Judaism, had presented them. On this ground the federal system, as it was called, was discarded. On the same

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