Benjamin Keach pastored a fellowship at Horse-lie-down, Southwark for 36 years (1668-1704). He was succeeded by Benjamin Stinton from 1704-1718 (14 yrs), who was succeeded by Joh Gill from 1720-1771 (51 yrs). In 1833 the congregation moved to New Park Street where Spuregon began preaching in 1854 (20 years old).
Which view of covenant theology did Spurgeon hold to?
First, note how important Spurgeon believes this issue is:
“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts; and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people.” — Hebrews 8:10.
THE doctrine of the divine covenant lies at the root of all true theology. It has been said that he who well understands the distinction between the covenant of works and the covenant of grace is a master of divinity. I am persuaded that most of the mistakes which men make concerning the doctrines of Scripture are based upon fundamental errors with regard to the covenants of law and of grace. May God grant us now the power to instruct, and you the grace to receive instruction on this vital subject.
The human race in the order of history, so far as this world is concerned, first stood in subjection to God under the covenant of works. Adam was the representative man. A certain law was given him. If he kept it, he and all his posterity would be blessed as the result of obedience. If he broke it, he would incur the curse himself, and entail it on all represented by him. That covenant our first father broke. He fell; he failed to fulfil his obligations; in his fall he involved us all, for we were all in his loins, and he represented us before God. Our ruin, then, was complete before we were born; we were ruined by him who stood as our first representative. To be saved by the works of the law is impossible, far under that covenant we are already lost. If saved at all it must be all quite a different plan, not on the plan of doing and being rewarded for it, for that has been tried, and the representative man upon whom it was tried has failed for us all. We have all failed in his failure; it is hopeless, therefore, to expect to win divine favour by anything that we can do, or merit divine blessing by way of reward.
But divine mercy has interposed, and provided a plan of salvation from the fall. That plan is another covenant, a covenant made with Christ Jesus the Son of God, who is fitly called by the apostle, “the Second Adam,” because he stood again as the representative of man. Now, the second covenant, so far as Christ was concerned, was a covenant of works quite as much as the other. It was an this wise. Christ shall come into the world and perfectly obey the divine law. He shall also, inasmuch as the first Adam has broken the law, suffer the penalty of sin. If he shall do both of these, then all whom he represents shall be blessed in his blessedness, and saved because of his merit. You see, then, that until our Lord came into this world it was a covenant of works towards him. He had certain works to perform, upon condition of which certain blessings should be given to us. Our Lord has kept that covenant. His part in it has been fulfilled to the last letter. There is no commandment which he has not honoured; there is no penalty of the broken law which he has not endured. He became a servant and obedient, yea, obedient to death, even the death of the cross. He has thus done what the first Adam could not accomplish, and he has retrieved what the first Adam forfeited by his transgression. He has established the covenant, and now it ceases to be a covenant of works, for the works are all done. “Jesus did them, did them all, Long, long ago.”
And now what remaineth of the covenant? God on his part has solemnly pledged himself to give undeserved favour to as many as were represented in Christ Jesus. For as many as the Saviour died for, there is stored up a boundless mass of blessing which shall be given to them, not through their works, but as the sovereign gift of the grace of God, according to his covenant promise by which they shall be saved.
[H]ave a joyful respect for it [the covenant of grace]. Awake your harps and join in praise with David—“Although my house is not so with God, yet has He made with me an Everlasting Covenant.” Here is enough to make a Heaven in our hearts while yet we are below—the Lord has entered into a Covenant of Grace and peace with us and He will bless us forever! Then have a jealous respect for it. Never suffer the Covenant of Works to be mixed with it. Hate that preaching—I say not less than that—hate that preaching which does not discriminate between the Covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace, for it is deadly preaching and damning preaching!
Remember that there was a Covenant of old, which men broke—the Covenant of works, “This do, and you shall live.” Keep such and such commands, and you shall be rewarded. That Covenant failed because man did not keep God’s commands and so did not earn the promised reward. We broke the terms of that contract and it is no longer valid, except that we come under penalty for the breach of it, and that penalty is that we are to be cast away from God’s Presence and to perish without hope, so far as that broken Covenant is concerned.
Now, rolling up that old Covenant as a useless thing out of which no salvation can ever come, God comes to us in another way and He says, “I will make a new Covenant with you, not like the old one at all.” It is a Covenant of Grace— a Covenant made, not with the worthy, but with the unworthy! A Covenant not made upon conditions, but unconditionally, every supposed condition having been fulfilled by our great Representative and Surety, the Lord Jesus Christ! A Covenant without an, “if,” or a, “but,” in it, “ordered in all things, and sure.” A Covenant of shalls and wills in which God says, “I will, and you shall!” A Covenant just suited to our broken-down and helpless condition. A Covenant which will land everyone who is interested in it in Heaven! No other Covenant will ever do this.
This renewing work has been in our Lord’s hands from of old. We were under the old covenant, and our first father and federal head, Adam, had broken that covenant, and we were ruined by his fatal breach. The substance of the old covenant was on this wise,—”If thou wilt keep my command thou shalt live, and thy posterity shall live; but if thou shalt eat of the tree which I have forbidden thee, dying, thou shalt die, and all thy posterity in thee.” This is where we were found, broken in pieces, sore wounded, and even slain by the tremendous fall which destroyed both our Paradise and ourselves. We died in Adam as to spiritual life, and our death revealed itself in an inward tendency to evil which reigned in our members. We were like Ezekiel’s deserted infant unswaddled and unwashed, left in our pollution to die; but the Son of God passed by and saw us in the greatness of our ruin. In his wondrous love our Lord Jesus put us under a new covenant, a covenant of which he became the second Adam, a covenant which ran on this wise,—”If thou shalt render perfect obedience and vindicate my justice, then those who are in thee shall not perish, but they shall live because thou livest.” Now, our Lord Jesus, our Surety and Covenant Head, has fulfilled his portion of the covenant engagement, and the compact stands as a bond of pure promise without condition or risk. Those who are participants in that covenant cannot invalidate it, for it never did depend upon them, but only upon him who was and is their federal head and representative before God. Of Jesus the demand was made and he met it. By him man’s side of the covenant was undertaken and fulfilled, and now no condition remains; it is solely made up of promises which are unconditional and sure to all the seed. To-day believers are not under the covenant of “If thou doest this thou shalt live,” but under that new covenant which says, “Their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” It is not now “Do and live,” but “Live and do;” we think not of merit and reward, but of free grace producing holy practice as the result of gratitude. What law could not do, grace has accomplished.
Sermon for New Year’s-Day (Revelation 21:5)
Spurgeon clearly understood the importance of distinguishing between the Covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace. But did he follow Calvin and Westminster? Did he believe that all of the post-fall covenants were renewals of the same covenant? Did he believe the Mosaic Covenant was the Covenant of Grace?
This Epistle to the Hebrews is full of distinctions between the old covenant and the new, the gist of it being to show that the former covenant was only typical of that abiding dispensation which followed it; for it had only the shadow, and not the very image of heavenly things.
“I will be their God.”—Jeremiah 31:33.
WHAT A glorious covenant the second covenant is! Well might it be called “a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.” Heb. viii. 6. It is so glorious that the very thought of it is enough to overwhelm the soul, when it discerns the amazing condescension and infinite love of God, in having framed a covenant for such unworthy creatures, for such glorious purposes, with such disinterested motives. It is better than the other covenant, the covenant of works, which was made with Adam; or that covenant which is said to have been made with Israel, on the day when they came out of Egypt. It is better, for it is founded upon a better principle. The old covenant was founded on the principle of merit; it was, “Serve God and thou shalt be rewarded for it; if thou walkest perfectly in the fear of the Lord, God will walk well towards thee, and all the blessings of Mount Gerizim shall come upon thee, and thou shalt be exceedingly blessed in this world, and the world which is to come.” But that covenant fell to the ground, because, although it was just that man should be rewarded for his good works, or punished for his evil ones, yet man being sure to sin, and since the fall infallibly tending towards iniquity, the covenant was not suitable for his happiness, nor could it promote his eternal welfare. But the new covenant, is not founded on works at all, it is a covenant of pure unmingled grace; you may read it from its first word to its last, and there is not a solitary syllable as to anything to be done by us.
God in the Covenant (Jeremiah 31:33)
The old covenant said, “There are the tables of stone, mind that you obey every word that is written thereon: if you do you shall live, and if you do not you shall die.” Man never did obey, and consequently no one ever entered heaven or found peace by the law. The new covenant speaketh on this wise, “Their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. I will write my law in their hearts, and on their minds will I write them. I will put my fear in their hearts that they shall not depart from me.” The prophets enlarge most instructively upon this new covenant. It is not a covenant of “if you will I will,” but it runs thus, “I will and you shall.”
Christ is the messenger of the covenant, in the next place, as the messenger of the Father to us. Moses was messenger of the covenant of works, and his face shone, for the ministration of death was glorious; but Christ is the messenger of the covenant of grace.
“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts.”—Hebrews 8:10.
WHEN God gave to Israel his law,—the law of the first covenant,—it was such a holy law that it ought to have been kept by the people. It was a just and righteous law, concerning which God said, “Ye shall do my judgments, and keep mine ordinances, to walk therein: I am the Lord your God. Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the Lord.” The law of the ten commandments is strictly just; it is such a law as a man might make for himself if he studied his own best interests, and had wisdom enough to frame it aright. It is a perfect law, in which the interests of God and man are both studied; it is not a partial law, but impartial, complete, and covering all the circumstances of life. You could not take away one command out of the ten without spoiling both tables of the law, and you could not add another command without being guilty of making a superfluity. The law is holy, and just, and good; it is like the God who made it, it is a perfect law. Then, surely, it ought to have been kept. When men revolt against unjust laws, they are to be commended; but when a law is admitted to be perfect, then disobedience to it is an act of exceeding guilt.
Further, God not only gave a law which ought to have been kept, because of its own intrinsic excellence, but he also gave it in a very wonderful way, which ought to have ensured its observance by the people. The Lord came down upon Mount Sinai in fire, and the mountain was altogether on a smoke, and the smoke thereof ascended “as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount Quaked greatly;” and the sight that was then seen on Sinai, and the sounds that were there heard, and all the pomp and awful grandeur were so terrible that even Moses,—that boldest, calmest, quietest of men said, “I do exceedingly fear and quake.” The children of Israel, as they heard that law proclaimed, were so amazed and overwhelmed with God’s display of his majesty and might, that they were ready enough to promise to keep his commandments. The law of God could not have Been made known to mankind in grander or more sublime style than was displayed in the giving of that covenant on Mount Sinai.
And, dear friends, after the giving of the law, did not God affix to it those terrible penalties which should have prevented men from disobeying his commands? “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them” “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” It was the capital sentence that was to be pronounced upon the disobedient; there could be no heavier punishment than that. God had, as it were, drawn his sword against sin; and if man had been a reasonable being, he ought at once to have started back from committing an act which he might be sure would make God his foe.
Moreover, the blessings that were appended to the keeping of the law ought to have induced men to keep it; look again at those words I quoted just now: “Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the Lord.” This did not mean that the man who kept God’s law should merely exist; there are some in these degenerate days who seek to make out life to be existence, and death to be annihilation, but there is little likeness between the words, or between what those words mean. “He shall live in them,” said the Lord concerning the man who kept his law; and there is a fullness of blessedness couched in that word, “live.” If men had kept the covenant of the Lord,—if Adam, for instance, had kept it in the garden of Eden, the rose would have been without a thorn to tear his flesh, and the enjoyment of life would never have been marred by the bitterness of toil or grief.
But, alas! notwithstanding all these solemn sanctions of the ancient covenant, men did not keep it. The promise, “This do, and thou shalt live,” never produced any doing that was worthy to be rewarded with life; and the threatening, “Do this, and thou shalt die,” never kept any man back from daringly venturing into the wrong road which leadeth unto death. The fact is, that the covenant of works, if it be looked upon as a way of safety, is a total failure. No man ever persevered in it unto the end, and no man ever attained unto life by keeping it. Nor can we, now that we are fallen, ever hope to be better than our unfallen covenant-head, Adam; nor may we, who are already lost and condemned by our sinful works, dream for a moment that we shall be able to save ourselves by our works. You see, dear friends, the first covenant was in these terms,—”You do right, and God will reward you for it. If you deserve life, God will give it to you.” Now, as you all know right well, that covenant was broken all to pieces; it was unable to stand by reason of the weakness of our flesh and the corruptness of our nature. So God set aside that first covenant, he put it away as an outworn and useless thing; and he brought in a new covenant,—the covenant of grace; and in our text we see what is the tenor of it: “I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts.” This is one of the most glorious promises that ever fell from the lips of infinite love. God said not, “I will come again, as I came on Sinai, and thunder at them.” No, but, “I will come in gentleness and mercy, and find a way into their hearts.” He said not, “I will take two great tables of stone, and with my finger write out my law before their eyes.” No, but, “I will put my finger upon their hearts, and there will I write my law.” He said not, “I will give promises and threatenings that shall be the safeguard of this new covenant;” but, “I will with my Spirit graciously operate upon their minds and their hearts, and so I will sweetly influence them to serve me,—not for reward, nor from any servile motive, but because they know me, and they love me, and they feel it to be their delight to walk in the way of my commandments.” O dear sirs may you all be shares in the blessings of that new covenant! May God say this of you, and do this to you; and if so, we shall meet in the glory-land, to sing unto the grace of that eternal God who has wrought so wondrously with us, and in us, and for us!
“He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second,” is illustrated… in the case of the covenants made with the literal and the spiritual Israel. There was a first covenant to which the Israelites gave their consent soon after they came out of Egypt. That was a covenant of works, and when Moses rehearsed in the ears of the people the terms of that covenant, “All the people answered together, and said, All that the Lord hath spoken we will do.” Yet they soon forgot their solemn promise. You remember how the commandments were “written with the finger of God” upon “two tables of testimony, tables of stone;” but when the people turned aside to worship the golden calf which Aaron had made, we read concerning Moses, “it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses anger ’waxed hot,’ and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount.” In God’s great longsuffering, the commandments were given a second time, though Moses, and not God, wrote on the second tables of stone, and they were put away for safety into the golden ark, above which was placed the mercy seat of pure gold. This was another symbolical illustration of our text: “He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.” The law in the hand of Moses is broken that we may have the law in the heart of Christ hidden away under the sacred covering of divine mercy in the holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High. The first covenant of “This do, and thou shalt live,” is taken away, that God may establish the second, which is, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” The first covenant, because it waxed old, has passed away; and now God has established a second covenant, the covenant of grace: “They shall be my people, and I will be their God: and I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them: and I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall lot depart from me.’
First, we invite you to notice THE TWO WOMEN—Hagar and Sarah. It is said that they are the types of the two covenants; and before we start we must not forget to tell you what the covenants are. The first covenant for which Hagar stands, is the covenant of works, which is this: “There is my law, O man; if thou on thy side wilt engage to keep it, I on my side will engage that thou shalt live by keeping it. If thou wilt promise to obey my commands perfectly, wholly, fully, without a single flaw, I will carry thee to heaven. But mark me, if thou violatest one command, if thou dost rebel against a single ordinance, I will destroy thee for ever.” That is the Hagar covenant—the covenant propounded on Sinai, amidst tempests, fire and smoke—or rather, propounded, first of all, in the garden of Eden, where God said to Adam, “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” As long as he did not eat of the tree, but remained spotless and sinless, he was most assuredly to live. That is the covenant of the law, the Hagar covenant. The Sarah covenant is the covenant of grace, not made with God and man, but made with God and Christ Jesus, which covenant is this: “Christ Jesus on his part engages to bear the penalty of all his people’s sins, to die, to pay their debts, to take their iniquities upon his shoulders; and the Father promises on his part that all for whom the Son doth die shall most assuredly be saved; that seeing they have evil hearts, he will put his law in their hearts, that they shall not depart from it, and that seeing they have sins, he will pass them by and not remember them any more for ever.” The covenant of works was, “Do this and live, O man!” but the covenant of grace is, “Do this, O Christ, and thou shalt live, O man!” The difference of covenants rests here. The one was made with man, the other with Christ; the one was a conditional covenant, conditional on Adam’s standing, the other is a conditional covenant with Christ, but as perfectly unconditional with us.
While Spurgeon did clearly separate the Mosaic Covenant from the Covenant of Grace, he did not clearly separate the Mosaic Covenant of Works from the Adamic Covenant of Works. He did not follow John Owen and Nehemiah Coxe (among others) in limiting the Mosaic Covenant to temporal life in the land of Canaan. Nor did he make the careful qualifications that Keach made (that the Adamic Covenant of Works was revealed in the Covenant of Works with Israel, while being separate from it). Of course, these quotes are taken from sermons, not treatises or polemical tracts like the earlier Particular Baptists wrote, so we can’t expect the same level of nuance (and some did articulate it similarly to Spurgeon – see links).
The New Covenant is the Covenant of Grace
Spurgeon frequently preached on the New Covenant and identified it as the Covenant of Grace, the “Everlasting Covenant.”
This is the central truth of all Scripture, it is the basis of all Scripture. When Paul desires to set forth the covenant of grace, he appeals to this passage [Jer 31:27-37]. Twice, in the Epistle to the Hebrews, he bases an argument upon it, and after quoting it, adds, “Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us.” Brethren and sisters in Christ, under the first covenant we are ruined; there is no salvation for us but under this new covenant, wherefore let us read to our joy and comfort what the promises and provisions of that new covenant are.
The first Covenant was the Covenant of Works—”Do this and you shall live.” That Covenant, as I have shown you, was broken, but the new Covenant is a Covenant of pure Grace. Christ has fulfilled all its conditions on His people’s behalf and, therefore, all its privileges are theirs… Yet once more, let me remind you that the ensign of this Covenant is faith. Under the old Covenant it was and always would have been, works. But, under the new Covenant, it is faith. Do you believe? Then you are in Christ and all the blessings of the Covenant of Grace are yours.
He followed both Keach and Gill’s minority view in that he did not separate or distinguish the Covenant of Redemption from the Covenant of Grace.
Now, in this covenant of grace, we must first of all observe the high contracting parties between whom it was made. The covenant of grace was made before the foundation of the world between God the Father, and God the Son; or to put it in a yet more scriptural light, it was made mutually between the three divine persons of the adorable Trinity. This covenant was not made mutually between God and man. Man did not at that time exist; but Christ stood in the covenant as man’s representative. In that sense we will allow that it was a covenant between God and man, but not a covenant between God and any man personally and individually. It was a covenant between God with Christ, and through Christ indirectly with all the blood-bought seed who were loved of Christ from the foundation of the world…
Thus, I say, run the covenant, in ones like these: “I, the Most High Jehovah, do hereby give unto my only begotten and well-beloved Son, a people, countless beyond the number of stars, who shall be by him washed from sin, by him preserved, and kept, and led, and by him, at last, presented before my throne, without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. I covenant by oath, and swear by myself, because I can swear by no greater, that these whom I now give to Christ shall be for ever the objects of my eternal love. Them I will forgive through the merit of the blood. To these will I give a perfect righteousness; these will I adopt and make my sons and daughters, and these shall reign with me through Christ eternally.” Thus run that glorious side of the covenant. The Holy Spirit also, as one of the high contracting parties on this side of the covenant, gave his declaration, “I hereby covenant,” saith he, “that all whom the Father giveth to the Son, I will in due time quicken. I will show them their need of redemption; I will cut off from them all groundless hope, and destroy their refuges of lies. I will bring them to the blood of sprinkling; I will give them faith whereby this blood shall be applied to them, I will work in them every grace; I will keep their faith alive; I will cleanse them and drive out all depravity from them, and they shall be presented at last spotless and faultless.” This was the one side of the covenant, which is at this very day being fulfilled and scrupulously kept. As for the other side of the covenant this was the part of it, engaged and covenanted by Christ. He thus declared, and covenanted with his Father: “My Father, on my part I covenant that in the fullness of time I will become man. I will take upon myself the form and nature of the fallen race. I will live in their wretched world, and for my people I will keep the law perfectly. I will work out a spotless righteousness, which shall be acceptable to the demands of thy just and holy law. In due time I will bear the sins of all my people. Thou shalt exact their debts on me; the chastisement of their peace I will endure, and by my stripes they shall be healed. My Father, I covenant and promise that I will be obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. I will magnify thy law, and make it honourable. I will suffer all they ought to have suffered. I will endure the curse of thy law, and all the vials of thy wrath shall be emptied and spent upon my head. I will then rise again; I will ascend into heaven; I will intercede for them at thy right hand; and I will make myself responsible for every one of them, that not one of those whom thou hast given me shall ever be lost, but I will bring all my sheep of whom, by thy blood, thou hast constituted me the shepherd—I will bring every one safe to thee at last.” Thus ran the covenant; and now, I think, you have a clear idea of what it was and how it stands—the covenant between God and Christ, between God the Father and God the Spirit, and God the Son as the covenant head and representative of all Gods elect. I have told you, as briefly as I could what were the stipulations of it. You will please to remark, my dear friends, that the covenant is, on one side, perfectly fulfilled. God the Son has paid the debts of all the elect. He has, for us men and for our redemption, suffered the whole of wrath divine. Nothing remaineth now on this side of the question except that he shall continue to intercede, that he may safely bring all his redeemed to glory.
The covenant—to come at once straight to the matter, however offensive the doctrine may be—the covenant has relationship to the elect and none besides. Does this offend you? Be ye offended ever more. What said Christ? “I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me: for they are thine.” If Christ prayeth for none but for the chosen, why should ye be angry that ye are also taught from the Word of God that in the covenant there was provision made for the like persons, that they might receive eternal life. As many as shall believe, as many as shall trust in Christ, as many as shall persevere unto the end, as many as shall enter into the eternal rest, so many and no more are interested in the covenant of divine grace.
Through His substitutionary Sacrifice, they were even then “accepted in the Beloved” and, in the fullness of time, they become Believers in Him and so enter consciously into the enjoyment of the Covenant privileges which had been conferred upon them from eternity! The Covenant is not made with them when they believe in Jesus—it was made on their behalf by the Father and the Son in the eternal council chamber long before the daystar knew its place or planets ran their round!
OT Saints Members of the New Covenant
In 1867, Spurgeon wrote against a new teaching called Dispensationalism in his Sword and Trowel publication.
An earnest study of those Scriptures which disclose “the everlasting covenant” as it was gradually but distinctly revealed, will do more than any arguments of ours to dissipate the mist of those strange doctrines we have referred to. That Covenant was declared to Noah; it was still further opened to Abraham and Isaac, it was confirmed to David; Isaiah rejoiced in its sure mercies, Jeremiah was privileged to relate many of its special provisions; and Paul avers in his epistle to the Hebrews that this is the Covenant under the provisions of which the precious blood of Christ was shed; it is the blood of the new Covenant… According to the terms of the everlasting Covenant, and not according to the law, nor yet according to the tenor of any transient dispensations, the Old Testament saints were justified and accepted of God.
There Be Some Who Trouble You (Sword and Trowel essay against Dispensationalism)
Further, the blood of Jesus is also the Seal of the Covenant Speaking after the manner of men, until the blood of Jesus had been shed, the Covenant was not signed, sealed and ratified. It was like a will that could only become valid by the death of the testator. It is true that there was such perfect unity of heart between the Father and the Son, and such mutual foreknowledge that the Covenant would be ratified in due time—that multitudes of the chosen ones were welcomed to Heaven in anticipation of the redemption which would actually be accomplished by Christ upon the Cross. But when Jesus took upon Himself the likeness of men and in our human nature suffered and died upon the accursed tree, He did, as it were, write His name in crimson characters upon the Eternal Covenant and thus sealed it with His blood. It is because the blood of Jesus is the Seal of this Covenant that it has such power to bless us and is the means of lifting us up out of the prison-pit wherein is no water.
What about the Noahic, Abrahamic, and Davidic Covenants?
ALL GOD’S dealings with men have had a covenant character. It hath so pleased Him to arrange it, that he will not deal with us except through a covenant, nor can we deal with Him except in the same manner. Adam in the garden was under a covenant with God and God was in covenant with Him. That covenant he speedily brake. There is a covenant still existing in all its terrible power—terrible I say, because it has been broken on man’s part, and therefore God will most surely fulfill its solemn threatenings and sanctions. That is the covenant of works. By this he dealt with Moses, and in this doth he deal with the whole race of men as represented in the first Adam. Afterwards when God would deal with Noah, it was by a covenant; and when in succeeding ages he dealt with Abraham, he was still pleased to bind himself to him by a covenant. That covenant he preserved and kept, and it was renewed continually to many of his seed. God dealt not even with David, the man after his own heart, except with a covenant. He made a covenant with his anointed and beloved; he dealeth with you and me this day still by covenant. When he shall come in all his terrors to condemn, he shall smite by covenant—namely, by the sword of the covenant of Sinai; and if he comes in the splendors of his grace to save, he still comes to us by covenant—namely, the covenant of Zion; the covenant which he has made with the Lord Jesus Christ, the head and representative of his people…
It is important, then, since the covenant is the only ladder which reaches from earth to heaven—since it is the only way in which God has intercourse with us, and by which we can deal with him, that we should know how to discriminate between covenant and covenant; and should not be in any darkness or error with regard to what is the covenant of grace, and what is not…
This passage is somewhat vague. It could potentially be read as saying the the Noahic, Abrahamic, and Davidic covenants were renewals of the Covenant of Grace. If you re-read the paragraph, you will see that Spurgeon very clearly addresses each covenant on its own. He does not refer to them as the same covenant. The renewal he speaks of is the Abrahamic Covenant renewal to Issac, Jacob, etc. Separate from these covenants that God made with Noah, Abraham, and David, God also made a covenant with Jesus – the Covenant of Grace.
Spurgeon clarifies the Abrahamic Covenant as it relates to the Covenant of Grace:
“As for you, also, by the blood of your Covenant I have sent forth your prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water.” Zechariah 9:11.
THE LORD is here speaking to His ancient people, Israel. That nation had always been preserved, although other nations had been destroyed—and the reason was that God had entered into a Covenant with Abraham on their behalf. Circumcision was the sign and seal of the Covenant, so that God could truly speak of “the blood of your Covenant.” The Jews have never ceased to be a nation, though they have been scattered, peeled and delivered over into the hand of their adversaries because of their sins. They may enjoy various rights and privileges in the different countries where they sojourn for a while, but they cannot be absorbed into the nationalities by which they are surrounded. They must always be a separate and distinct people—but the day shall yet come when the branches of the olive tree, which have been so long cut off, shall be grafted in again. Then shall they, as a nation, again behold the Messiah, the true and only King of the Jews—and their fullness shall be the fullness of the Gentiles, also!
All Believers have some share in that Covenant made with Abraham, for he is the father of the faithful. We who believe in Jesus are of the seed of Abraham, not according to the flesh, but according to the promise, and we are pressed by a Covenant which like that made with Abraham, is signed and sealed with blood even “the blood of the Everlasting Covenant.” We, too, are saved and kept as a separate and distinct people, not because of any natural goodness in us, or because of our superiority over others, but solely and entirely because the Lord has made an Eternal Covenant concerning us, which is “ordered in all things and sure,” because Jesus Christ is, Himself, the Surety on our behalf that its guarantees and pledges shall all be carried into effect.
Here Spurgeon is articulating the dichotomous nature of the Abrahamic Covenant. Abraham had a two-fold seed with different promises made to each. Furthermore, he clearly distinguishes between the Abrahamic Covenant and the Everlasting Covenant of Grace (which was “like that made with Abraham”). The Abrahamic is signed and sealed by circumcision while the Covenant of Grace is signed and sealed by the blood of Christ.
As an instance of the expulsive power of a new delight, we all know how the memory of the old dispensation is gone from us. Brethren, did any one of you ever weep because you did not sit at the Passover? Did you ever regret the Paschal lamb? Oh, never, because you have fed on Christ! Was there ever man that knows his Lord that ever did lament that he had not the sign of the old Abrahamic covenant in his flesh? Nay, he gladly dispenses with the rites of the old covenant, since he has the fullness of their meaning in his Lord.
Does the covenant say, “A new heart will I give thee, and a right spirit will I put within thee?” It must be done, for Jesus died, and Jesus’ death is the seal of the covenant… The blood is the symbol, the token, the earnest, the surety, the seal of the covenant of grace to thee… May God take away the enmity out of your heart to his own precious truth, and reconcile you to himself through THE BLOOD of his Son, which is the bond and seal of the everlasting covenant.
Covenant theology is a very difficult subject of systematic theology and while Spurgeon did not write systematic treatises (thus we don’t have comments from him in detail on this) when he preached on covenant theology, it was consistent with (at least one strand of) 1689 Federalism, not modern baptist covenant theology.
Charles Spurgeon is a beloved Calvinistic baptist preacher, but he was also very confessional.
Benjamin Keach, minister of Horse-lie-down meeting, London, was among the subscribers in the Preface to the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith. Founded in 1650, that church (the place name is now spelled Horselydown) later became the New Park Street Church, where Spurgeon was called, and then moved to the meeting house of the Metropolitan Tabernacle. Although Dr John Gill later produced a summary Confession to be read at each Lord’s Supper gathering, the congregation continued to regard 1689 as the defining document for ‘Baptists denominated Calvinists’.
When the Metropolitan Tabernacle was built under Spurgeon’s pastorship, the foundation stone was laid on August 16, 1859, beneath it being placed a Bible, the Baptist Confession of Faith, Dr. Rippon’s Hymn Book, and a declaration by the deacons of the church.
With that in mind, here are several statements from Spurgeon’s sermons in regards to the weekly Sabbath. I recommend reading the sermons in full. I am here only excerpting the portions directly relating to the Sabbath as a weekly rest, but we must heed Spurgeon’s emphasis on the true eternal Sabbath rest.
“There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.”—Hebrews 4:9.
HE Apostle proved, in the former part of this and the latter part of the preceding chapter, that there was a rest promised in Scripture called the rest of God. He proved that Israel did not attain that rest for God sware in his wrath, saying, “They shall not enter into my rest.” He proved that this did not merely refer to the rest of the land of Canaan; for he says that after they were in Canaan, David himself speaks again in after ages concerning the rest of God, as a thing which was yet to come. Again he proves, that “seeing those to whom it was promised did not enter in, because of unbelief, and it remaineth that some must enter in, therefore,” saith he, “there remaineth a rest to the people of God.”
“My rest,” says God: the rest of God! Something more wonderful than any other kind of rest. In my text it is (in the original) called the Sabbatism—not the Sabbath, but the rest of the Sabbath—not the outward ritual of the Sabbath, which was binding upon the Jew, but the inward spirit of the sabbath, which is the joy and delight of the Christian. “There remaineth therefore”—because others have not had it, because some are to have it—”There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.”
Now, this rest, I believe, is partly enjoyed on earth. “We that have believed do enter into rest,” for we have ceased from our own works, as God did from his. But the full fruition and rich enjoyment of it remains in the future and eternal state of the beatified on the other side the stream of death. Of that it shall be our delightful work to talk a little this morning. And oh! if God should help me to raise but one of his feeble saints on the wings of love to look within the veil, and see the joys of the future, I shall be well contented to have made the joy-bells ring in one heart at least, to have set one eye flashing with joy, and to have made one spirit light with gladness…
II. And now, yet more briefly, and then we shall have done. I am to endeavor to EXTOL this rest, as I have tried to EXHIBIT it. I would extol this rest for many reasons; and oh! that I were eloquent, that I might extol it as it deserves! Oh! for the lip of angel, and the burning tongue of cherub, to talk now of the bliss of the sanctified and of the rest of God’s people!
It is, first, a perfect rest. They are wholly at rest in heaven. Here rest is but partial. I hope in a little time to cease from every-day labors for a season, but then the head will think, and the mind may be looking forward to prospective labor, and whilst the body is still, the brain will yet be in motion. Here, on Sabbath days a vast multitude of you sit in God’s house, but many of you are obliged to stand, and rest but little except in your mind, and even when the mind is at rest the body is wearied with the toil of standing. You have a weary mile perhaps, many miles, to go to your homes on the Sabbath day. And let the Sabbatarian say what he will, you may work on the Sabbath day, if you work for God; and this Sabbath day’s work of going to the house of God is work for God, and God accepts it. For yourselves you may not labor, God commands you to rest, but if you have to toil these three, these four, these five, these six miles, as many of you have done, I will not and I must not blame you. “The priests in the sanctuary profane the Sabbath, and are blameless.” It is toil and labor, it is true but it is for a good cause—for your Master. But there, my friends, the rest is perfect; the body there rests perpetually, the mind too always rests; though the inhabitants are always busy, always serving God, yet they are never weary, never toil-worn, never fagged; they never fling themselves upon their couches at the end of the day, and cry, “Oh! when shall I be away from this land of oil?” They I never stand up in the burning sunlight, and wipe the hot sweat from their brow; they never rise from their bed in the morning, half refreshed, to go to laborious study. No, they are perfectly at rest, stretched on the couch of eternal joy. They know not the semblance of a tear; they have done with sin, and care, and woe, and, with their Saviour rest.
The Perpetuity of the Law of God
“For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” (Matthew 5:18)
It has been said that he who understands the two covenants is a theologian, and this is, no doubt, true. I may also say that the man who knows the relative positions of the Law and the Gospel has the keys of the situation in the matter of doctrine. The relationship of the Law to myself, and how it condemns me; the relationship of the Gospel to myself, and how if I be a believer it justifies me–these are two points which every Christian man should clearly understand… We are not under the law as the method of salvation, but we delight to see the law in the hand of Christ, and desire to obey the Lord in all things.
Jesus did not come to change the law, but he came to explain it, and that very fact shows that it remains, for there is no need to explain that which is abrogated. Upon one particular point in which there happened to be a little ceremonialism involved, namely, the keeping of the Sabbath, our Lord enlarged, and showed that the Jewish idea was not the true one. The Pharisees forbade even the doing of works of necessity and mercy, such as rubbing ears of corn to satisfy hunger, and healing the sick. Our Lord Jesus showed that it was not at all according to the mind of God to forbid these things. In straining over the letter, and carrying an outward observance to excess, they had missed the spirit of the Sabbath law, which suggested works of piety such as truly hallow the day. He showed that Sabbatic rest was not mere inaction, and he said, “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.” He pointed to the priests who labored hard at offering sacrifices, and said of them, “the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless.” They were doing divine service, and were within the law. To meet the popular error he took care to do some of his grandest miracles upon the Sabbath-day; and though this excited great wrath against him, as though he were a law-breaker, yet he did it on purpose that they might see that the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath, and that it is meant to be a day for doing that which honors God and blesses men. O that men knew how to keep the spiritual Sabbath by a easing from all servile work, and from all work done for self, The rest of faith is the true Sabbath, and the service of God is the most acceptable hallowing of the day. Oh that the day were wholly spent in serving God and doing good! The sum of our Lord’s teaching was that works of necessity, works of mercy, and works of piety are lawful on the Sabbath. He did explain the law in that point and in others, yet that explanation did not alter the command, but only removed the rust of tradition which had settled upon it. By thus explaining the law he confirmed it; he could not have meant to abolish it or he would not have needed to expound it.
Spurgeon’s Puritan Catechism
48 Q. Which is the fourth commandment?
A. The fourth commandment is, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor they cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.”
49 Q. What is required in the fourth commandment?
A. The fourth commandment requires the keeping holy to God such set times as he has appointed in his Word, expressly one whole day in seven, to be a holy Sabbath to himself (Lev. 19:30; Deut. 5:12).
50 Q. How is the Sabbath to be sanctified?
A. The Sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day, even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days (Lev. 23:3), and spending the whole time in the public and private exercises of God’s worship (Ps. 92:1-2; Isa. 58:13-14), except so much as is taken up in the works of necessity and mercy (Matt. 12:11-12).
Abram and the Ravenous Birds
In company with these foul vultures, fly those ravenous birds called worldly thoughts, which spring from the force of habit. The wheels have been running the last six days in this direction; it is not quite so easy to reverse the action, and to make them go the other way. We have been sinking, sinking, sinking in the miry clay of daily business; it is not very easy for the soul that lies cleaving to the dust, to rise at once towards Heaven! It is no wonder, when you have so many things to think of in this age of competition, that the ledger should lie there in front of the pew instead of the Bible, and, that at times, the daybook should come in when your hand holds the hymnbook, or that you should be thinking of a bad debt, or of a long account which is rather precarious, instead of meditating upon the faithfulness of God, and of pardons bought with blood. These traffickers molest the very Temple, and we have not always the scourge of small cords to drive them out, nor the commanding Presence of the Savior, to say, “Take these things hence, it is written, My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.” How many a mother comes here with all her tribe of children on her shoulders? How many a father comes here with thoughts of where he shall apprentice his eldest son, or what shall become of his younger daughter? How many a merchant comes in, and every wind that makes the windowpanes rattle reminds him of his ships at sea; how many a farmer is thinking of his land, and the fitful gleams of sunshine and returning showers make him remember his cattle and his crops? Shops and stalls, bushels and
scales, silks and cottons, horses and cows, and even meaner things intrude into your house, O King of kings!
Brothers and Sisters, how often do some of you indulge in them? I hope there are none of you who keep your account books on Sunday, and yet how common is this in London! There are some who shut up their shop in front, and keep it open at the back, as if they would serve the devil and cheat the Lord! If you register your ledgers on Sunday, why not open your shop? You might as well be in the shop as in the country house, for the sin is just the same; only you now add hypocrisy to it, by pretending to serve God when you do not! Yet how many there are, true Believers in Christ, who would scorn to look at the ledger on Sunday, and yet their mind is hampered with accounts, and debtor and creditor will be striking balances continually in their brain! Some professors on the Sabbath afternoon will be talking about the state of the markets, and asking, “What do you think of the rise and fall of Consols?” “When will this terrible American war be over?” “When is it likely the Manchester factories will obtain full employment by the arrival of ship loads of cottons,” or “How will Louis Napoleon pay his debts?” When they come up to the House of God in the evening, they wonder how it is they do not get on with the preacher! The preacher might wonder how he could be of any service to such hearers! They wonder that the Sabbath is not a refreshment to them; but, how is it likely to be when they still continue in their worldly employments, really giving their hearts to the world, though they profess to give their bodily presence to the service of Christ?…
You have heard persons say, “I would sooner wear out than rust out.” There is no occasion for either, if we would but keep this day of rest as a perfect rest to our heart and soul; but, that we can never do unless we love Christ, for a Sabbath is an impossibility to an unconverted man! If we would but, as
Christians resting in Christ, keep this first day of rest, giving our souls thorough ease, there would be no fear of the brain giving way. We would labor on, even to a good old age, and then die in peace, and our works would follow us. I cannot expect you to believe me if I should say, you can carry on your business all the days of the week without care, without diligence, without very earnest thought. We must be “diligent in business,” and you must put both your hands to the wheel if you would make it go! But do leave the wheel alone today. Now, have done with it. You will madden yourself, or, if it comes not to so sad a climax as that, you will destroy your comfort, destroy the acuteness of your mental powers, if you do not give them rest today. I am no preacher of the old legal Sabbath; those who are teachers of the Law insist upon that quite enough. As for me, I am a preacher of the Gospel, and rejoice that Believers are not “under the Law, but under Grace.” A worldling is under the Law, and it is his duty to remember the seventh day, to keep it holy, for so runs the Law which is his taskmaster! But I am not under the Law, and therefore I keep this day—not the seventh, but the first day of the week, on which my Savior rose again from the dead—keep it not of Law, but of Grace—keep it not as a slavish bondage, not as a day on which I am chained and hampered with restraints against my will, but I keep it as a day in which I may take holy pleasure in serving God, and in adoring before His Throne! The Sabbath of the Jew is to him a task; the Lord’s-Day of the Christian, the first day of the week, is to him a joy, a day of rest, of peace and of thanksgiving. And, if you Christians can earnestly drive away all distractions, so that you can really rest today, it will be good for your bodies, good for your souls, good mentally, good spiritually, good temporally and good eternally!…
Time is the ring, and these Sabbaths are the diamonds set in it! The ordinary days are but the walks in the garden, hand trodden and barren; but the Sabbaths are the beds full of rich choice flowers! This day is Care’s balm and cure, the couch of time, the haven of Divine calms. Come, my Soul, throw yourself upon this couch; for now the bed is long enough, and the coverlet is broad enough—rest and take your ease—for you have come unto Jesus, to a finished Sacrifice, to a completed Righteousness, and your soul may be satisfied in the Lord, and your spirit may rejoice in the Lord your God. This is to keep Sabbath!
An unconverted man or woman cannot do this; and there are many of you, I fear, here present who never knew what Sabbath means—never had a Lord’s Day in your lives! In vain do you keep the day, unless, your hearts keep it too. Oh, may your hearts know how to find in Christ a perfect rest! Then shall
the land have rest, and shall keep her Sabbaths. May God give you Divine Grace to know your sin, and enable you to fly to the Savior, and find in Him all your soul needs! May He enable you to rest in Christ today, and then you shall keep Sabbaths on earth till you keep the eternal Sabbath before the Throne, “For thus says the Spirit, ‘They rest from their labors.’” “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ,” and you shall have rest. Trust Him, and so shall you be saved, and your spirit shall be at ease.
Rest in the Lord
Brothers and Sisters, the Lord, as if to show us that He would have us rest, has been pleased to speak of resting, Himself! It is inconceivable that He should be fatigued! It were profanity to suppose that He who faints not, neither is weary, and of whose understanding there is no searching, can ever be in a condition to need rest! And yet He did rest, for when He had finished all the works of His hands in the six days of creation, the Lord, “rested on the seventh day and sanctified it.” When afterwards that rest was broken because His works were marred, we find Him further on smelling a “sweet savor of rest” in the sacrifice which was offered unto Him by Noah, whose very name was rest.
These two facts are highly instructive and teach us that God rests in a perfect work and that when that work is marred the Lord rests in a perfect Sacrifice, even in the Lord Jesus Christ! He has a rest there and He speaks of our “entering His rest” as it is written, “they shall not enter into My rest.” There is a rest of God, then, and there remains a rest unto the people of God. And of that rest, not in its highest development in Heaven, but in its present enjoyment on earth, we are about to speak. “Rest in the Lord.”…
Beloved, may the Lord, by His Holy Spirit, grant you abundantly, from this day forward, to enter into this which is man’s first, man’s last, man’s sweetest, truest rest—the rest of the sinner coming to Christ—the rest of the saint abiding in Heaven! This is the only real rest that can be found on earth or Heaven—rest in the Lord! God grant it to us by faith, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
An excerpt from Spurgeon’s “Soul Winner”
Nor is it soul-winning, dear friends, merely to create excitement. Excitement will accompany every great movement. We might justly question whether the movement was earnest and powerful if it was quite as serene as a drawing-room Bible-reading. You cannot very well blast great rocks without the sound of explosions, nor fight a battle and keep everybody as quiet as a mouse. On a dry day, a carriage is not moving much along the road unless there is some noise and dust; friction and stir are the natural result of force in motion. So, when the Spirit of God is abroad, and men’s minds are stirred, there must and will be certain visible signs of the movement, although these must never be confounded with the movement itself. If people imagine that to make a dust is the object aimed at by the rolling of a carriage, they can take a broom, and very soon raise as much dust as fifty coaches; but they will be committing a nuisance rather than conferring a benefit. Excitement is as incidental as the dust, but it is not for one moment to be aimed at. When the woman swept her house, she did it to find her money, and not for the sake of raising a cloud.
Do not aim at sensation and “effect.” Flowing tears and streaming eyes, sobs and outcries, crowded after-meetings and all kinds of confusions may occur, and may be borne with as concomitants of genuine feeling; but pray do not plan their production.
It very often happens that the converts that are born in excitement die when the excitement is over. They are like certain insects which are the product of an exceedingly warm day, and die when the sun goes down. Certain converts live like salamanders, in the fire; but they expire at a reasonable temperature. I delight not in the religion which needs or creates a hot head. Give me the godliness which flourishes upon Calvary rather than upon Vesuvius. The utmost zeal for Christ is consistent with common-sense and reason: raving, ranting, and fanaticism are products of another zeal which is not according to knowledge. We would prepare men for the chamber of communion, and not for the padded room at Bedlam. No one is more sorry than I that such a caution as this should be needful; but remembering the vagaries of certain wild revivalists, I cannot say less, and I might say a great deal more.
I came across a good excerpt from Spurgeon:
Very often men have needed nothing more than the knowledge of sin to enamour them of it, and they have loved sin all the better for knowing it to be sin. The apostle Paul tells us that he had not known lust if the law had not said, “Thou shalt not covet.”
Because of the malignity, as well as the infirmity of our flesh, the mere principle of law will never do anything to purify or ennoble our moral nature. It has been tried by eminent teachers and social reformers.
Dr. Chalmers tells us that in his early ministry, he used to preach morality, and nothing but morality, till, he said, he had hardly a sober or an honest man left in the parish. The preaching of morality seemed to lead to immorality.
read the rest via the link and post your thoughts