Calamy’s Survey of Mosaic Covenant Views

I stumbled upon an essay by Edward Calamy, a Westminster Assembly divine, titled Two Solemne Covenants Made Between God and Man. He includes a survey of contemporary views of the Mosaic Covenant that I found interesting:

There be severall opinions about the Covenant of Works, and the Covenant of grace, to the great disturbance of many Christians;

1. some hold that there be foure Covenants, two of Works, and two of Grace; the two first, one with Adam before the fall, and the other with Israel at their returne out of Egypt, and the Covenants of Grace the first to Abraham, and the other at the Incarnation of Jesus Christ; this M. Sympson affirmed before a Committee of the Assembly of Divines in my hearing.

2. Others hold that there is but three Covenants; the first with Adam, the second with Israel at their going out of Egypt, and a third with Jesus Christ, the two first of Workes, and the last of Grace, and this M. Burroughes delivered in his Exposition Sermon in Cornhill in my hearing.

3. Others hold that there is but two Covenants, the one of Works, and the other of Grace; yet the first they hold was made with Israel at Mount Sinai, and no Covenant of workes before that, and now it is vanished away, and the other a Covenant of grace yet not made till the death of Christ the testator, and this is affirmed by James Pope, in a Book entituled, the unveiling of Antichrist.

4. Others hold that the Law at Mount Sinai was a Covenant of grace, implying that there is more then one Covenant of grace, and this is affirmed by Mr. Anthony Burgesse in his Vindication of the Morall Law the 24. Lecture, text the 4. of Deuteronomy.

5. Others with my selfe hold that there is but two Covenants, the one a Covenant of Workes, and the tree of life, was a Sacrament or signe and token of it, this was made with Adam before his fall…But then there was a Covenant of grace which God the Father made with Jesus Christ from all eternity to save some of the posterity of Adam….

Just by way of comparison, I would say there are 6 covenants:

  1. Adam/Works
  2. Noah
  3. Abraham
  4. Moses
  5. David
  6. Christ/New/Grace

1 and 6 offer eternal rest/life.
2-5 are about various other things, namely the coming of Christ in the flesh.

4 thoughts on “Calamy’s Survey of Mosaic Covenant Views

    1. Well, to be clear, Calamy is not saying these are all representative views of the Westminster Assembly. #3 for example is directly contrary to WCF. He’s simply surveying the variety of opinions of his time.

      But yes, there were complexities and disagreements, it seems, amongst the Westminster divines. I would love to see any discussion of this issue from their minutes. If you haven’t had a chance to read Patrick Ramsey’s essay, I’ve found it to be one of the most helpful in understanding the view of WCF and the debate of the time


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