CHAPTER SEVEN: The Covenant of Redemption Between God the Father and God the Son Concerning the Elect; or, the Counsel of Peace
Having considered the decrees of God in general, and the predestination of men in particular, we now proceed to the discussion of the covenant of redemption. The first Reformers and some subsequent writers have spoken with much reverence about this sacred mystery, some discussing it at great length. How I wish that such reverence would also currently prevail when either speaking of, or hearing this mystery discussed. Do not understand this to mean that this is a truth which only recently has become known, as some pretend who are ignorant of what has previously been written. Rather, it is a truth which of old has been known in the church. Everyone should strive to understand and use this truth correctly. We shall present the full ramifications of this covenant, also as it is presently administered by Christ. We shall consider,
(1) the parties in this covenant;
(2) the persons concerning whom, and for whose benefit this covenant has been made;
(3) the reality of this covenant transaction;
(4) the work of the one party, the Father, which we subdivide into the commands and conditions of this covenant, the promises related to the fulfillment of these conditions, and the confirmation of these promises by oath and sacraments;
(5) the work of the other party, the Lord Jesus Christ, which is subdivided into His acceptance of the conditions and the promises, His fulfillment of the conditions, and His demand relative to these confirmed promises.
The Covenanting Parties of the Covenant of Redemption
First of all we shall consider the covenanting parties, who are God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. It will be easier to comprehend this matter if we primarily consider the execution of this covenant rather than the decree from which it proceeds. We maintain that the manner in which the Lord executes it in this time state is consistent with the manner in which He has eternally decreed it. We nevertheless treat this covenant as one of the intrinsic works of God, being repeatedly presented in such a manner throughout the Holy Scriptures. Concerning Christ it is stated that He “was foreordained before the foundation of the world” (1 Pet. 1:20). The elect are chosen in Him (Eph. 1:4), and grace has been given them “in Christ Jesus before the world began” (2 Tim. 1:9). Whatever Christ encountered in this world happened to Him according to the eternal decree, foreknowledge, and determinate counsel of God (cf. Psa. 2:7; Luke 22:22; Acts 2:23).
By virtue of this eternal covenant there has been an eternal relationship between the Son and His suretyship. This He demonstrated already in His government of the Old Testament church immediately after the fall, prior to His incarnation. This raises a question: Since the Father and the Son are one in essence and thus have one will and one objective, how can there possibly be a covenant transaction between the two, as such a transaction requires the mutual involvement of two wills? Are we then not separating the Persons of the Godhead too much? To this I reply that as far as Personhood is concerned the Father is not the Son and the Son is not the Father. From this consideration the one divine will can be viewed from a twofold perspective. It is the Father’s will to redeem by the agency of the second Person as Surety, and it is the will of the Son to redeem by His own agency as Surety.
The persons on whose behalf and for whose benefit this covenant is made are those who have been elected in Christ. We have extensively discussed this matter in the previous chapter. Of the elect it is stated that they belong to the Father and have been given by Him to Christ. “Thine they were, and Thou gavest them Me.” Therefore they are said to be written in the Lamb’s book: “They which are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Rev. 21:27). The Lord, in a holy manner, would permit that they would sin by their own free will and thus would be concluded in sin, by virtue of which they are by nature children of wrath. In order that the infinite mercy and grace of God should be bestowed upon them in delivering from them this state and bringing them unto salvation, it was necessary that there be a Surety to satisfy God’s justice. The Father thus gave the elect to His Son as Surety, and the Son accepted them, recorded their names in His book, became Surety for all of them—none excepted—and for them alone, and promised to accomplish His Father’s good pleasure in bringing them to salvation.
The Existence of the Covenant of Redemption Scripturally Verified
That there was such a covenant made between Jehovah and the Lord Jesus concerning the elect can be verified as follows.
First, in Psalm 89:28, 34 it is recorded,
“My mercy will I keep for Him for evermore, and My covenant shall stand fast with Him. My covenant will I not break.”
Proof that mention is made here of the covenant between God the Father and the Lord Jesus is clearly evident. It is a known fact that the Psalms contain many references to the Lord Jesus, and that David in many respects was a type of Him. Therefore, Christ is also referred to as David (Hosea 3:5). In this Psalm mention is made of David and of the Lord Jesus as He is typified by David. I have stated that it also refers to the Lord Jesus, for
(1) whatever is recorded up to verse 37 applies most eminently to the Lord Jesus. In other texts He is also identified as the Elect of God (Psa. 89:3; Isa. 42:1), the Holy One of God (vs. 19; Luke 1:35), One that is mighty (vs. 19; Psa. 45:3), the Anointed One who was anointed with oil (vs. 20; Psa. 45:8), the firstborn of God (vs. 27; Heb. 1:6), the King of kings (vs. 27; Rev. 19:16), One whose kingdom extends over the entire earth (vs. 25; Psa. 72:8), and One whose kingdom will endure as long as the sun and moon will be (vss. 36–37; Psa. 72:5).
(2) Everything in this psalm does not apply to David, such as being the firstborn Son of God (vs. 27), being the King of kings (vs. 27), and possessor of an eternal kingdom (vs. 36).
(3) The last part of the psalm, beginning with verse 38, presents us with a contrast between David’s kingdom and that of the Messiah. This contrast points especially to the fact that the kingdom of the Messiah would extend over the entire earth and, as has been pointed out previously, would endure as long as the sun and the moon. The kingdom of David, on the contrary, would come to an end.
(4) That which is stated in 2 Samuel 7:12–16 and in verses 26–37 of this psalm refers to the identical matter, and therefore it is beyond doubt that it refers to the same history. The words of 2 Samuel 7 however, are expressly applied to Christ in the New Testament (cf. Acts 13:22; Heb. 1:5), and it therefore follows that this is also true for vss. 26–37 of this psalm.
Taking all this into consideration, let us now reason as follows. The Psalms often refer to Christ, David frequently being a type of Christ in them. Everything eminently applies to Christ, but everything does not apply to David. A contrast is made between the kingdom of Christ (vs. 25–36), and the kingdom of David which, according to vs. 38, would be destroyed. It is thus very evident that mention is made here of the Messiah, Christ. He is here said to be in a covenant engagement with the Lord, and thus it is evident that there is a covenant between the Lord and Christ.
Secondly, this is also evident in Zechariah 6:12–13,
“Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and He shall grow up out of His place, and He shall build the temple of the LORD: Even He shall build the temple of the LORD; and He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon His throne; and He shall be a priest upon His throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.”
We cannot understand both to refer to Jews and Gentiles. They are indeed united in one church in the New Testament, but not the least mention is made here of them. Therefore this idea cannot suddenly be inserted here. The pronoun “them” indicates that mention is made of two who have previously been mentioned, who are none other than Jehovah and the Branch.
Neither can we understand both to refer to the two offices of the Lord Jesus, that is, His kingly and priestly offices. It is true that these offices were not to be united in one person. A king was neither permitted to be a priest, nor a priest to be a king. These tribes (Judah and Levi) and their respective offices had to remain distinct; however, in the Lord Jesus they coalesce in one person. It is equally true that these two offices coalesce in the execution of the mediatorial office, but one may therefore not conclude this text to refer to these two offices. This cannot be true, for,
(1) Christ is one Person, and there is mention of two.
(2) There is no reference here to two offices, but merely to “being a priest” and “ruling.”
(3) Christ had three offices, which all function in unison for the building of the Lord’s temple. Therefore, if the reference is meant to be to the offices, it should have stated “between these three.”
(4) There can be no mutual consultation between offices, as this is the activity of persons. Such consultation occurred instead between individuals who held the three Old Testament offices; thus we should not understand the reference to be to the kingly and priestly offices.
“Them both,” however, refers to Jehovah and the Branch, the latter being the Messiah. In one glance it can be discerned that the reference is to these two. “Thus, speaketh the LORD of hosts … the BRANCH … He shall build the temple of the LORD,” which is the work of the Messiah. He who would build the Lord’s temple, that is His congregation, would be endowed with the necessary qualifications: to rule and to be a priest. Therefore, rulership and priesthood are descriptive of the Branch who would accomplish this work, and thus it reinforces our contention. He, the Branch, would be engaged in the Lord’s work to which He had been commissioned: the building of the Lord’s temple. This required mutual understanding and consent as well as consultation, counsel, and wisdom. Thus the Father and the Son not only agreed to promote the peace of the elect, but they also agreed about the manner of execution, that is, it would be accomplished by the Prince of Peace, the Branch, who had the necessary qualifications for this task.
Thirdly, this is also confirmed in Luke 22:29, where it is stated,
“And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as My Father hath appointed unto Me.”
It is not stated ὁρίξω (horizo), nor διατάττω (diatatto), but διατίθεμαι (diatithemai). This word means as much as to promise something to someone by way of testament or covenant. From this word διαθήχη (diatheke) is derived, which means “testament” or “covenant.” Thus, the verb “to appoint” includes the idea of covenant, and by virtue of this covenant He would receive the kingdom. This is expressly stated in Galatians 3:16–17, where it is recorded, “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ,” etc. Thus, we have here the covenant, the promises, and the fact that these have been made to Christ, as well as the fact that this covenant has been confirmed in Christ. Therefore, there is a covenant between God and Christ.
Fourthly, this is also evident from words which implicitly refer to a covenant, such as “My God,” and “My Servant.”
That was the promise of the covenant.
“And (I) will be their God, and they shall be My people” (Jer. 31:33); “… My servants …” (Isa. 65:13–14).
Members of the covenant, by virtue of that covenant, call God their God (Deu. 26:17–18). The Lord Jesus generally makes use of the same manner of speech: My God, My Father. “I ascend unto My Father, and your Father; and to My God, and your God” (John 20:17).
Fifthly, the existence of this covenant is also clearly evidenced by the fact that Christ is called “Surety” in both the Old and the New Testament.
Only consider Hebrews 7:22,
“By so much was Jesus made a Surety of a better testament.”
None can be a surety unless there is a contract and a covenant between the creditor and the surety of the debtor. The creditor must be satisfied with, and consent to the fact that such and such a person functions as surety. The surety in turn must obligate himself to the creditor to pay the debt. Since the Lord Jesus has become Surety by virtue of mutual consent and approval, there is a covenant between Jehovah and Christ.
Sixthly, it is also evident by virtue of the following conclusion.
Whenever, on the one hand, there are requisite conditions and commands as well as promises and sacraments, and on the other hand, consent and acceptance of conditions and promises, satisfaction of conditions, and a demand for the promised benefits upon satisfaction of the conditions, then we have an incontrovertible reference to a covenant. All of this exists between God and the Lord Jesus Christ, and thus there is a covenant between both of them.
This we now wish to demonstrate, not only as proof for this doctrine, but also to describe the nature of this covenant. In doing so we shall first reveal the work of the one party, and subsequently of the other party.
Concerning the work of the Father we must consider separately:
1) the commands which function as the conditions of the covenant,
2) the promises of the covenant, and
3) the warranty of the covenant.
The Father in electing the Lord Jesus to be Surety, Mediator, and Savior, presents Him to the elect and gives them to Him so that He may merit and accomplish salvation for them, as we have seen above. For this purpose He presented several conditions to Him and commanded Him to fulfill them. “… The Father which sent Me, He gave Me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that His commandment is life everlasting” (John 12:49–50a); “This commandment have I received of My Father” (John 10:18). These commands, being the conditions, include among others the following:
First, that the Son would assume the nature of the sinner; however, without sin.
“… A body hast Thou prepared Me” (Heb. 10:5).
Secondly, that He, as Immanuel (Θεάνθρωπος),
God and man, having assumed the identical nature of elect sinners, would become their Substitute, remove their sins from them, and take their sins for His account as if he Himself had committed them. For this purpose He, being a divine Person and thus above the law, would place Himself under the law, which demanded punishment for the transgressors and perfect obedience to gain a right to eternal life. “God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law” (Gal. 4:4).
Thirdly, that on their behalf He would bear all the punishment which their sins had merited, and would suffer, die, and arise from the dead.
“No man taketh it [life] from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of My Father” (John 10:18); “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain” (Acts 2:23).
Fourthly, that on their behalf He would have to fulfil all righteousness in order to make them righteous.
“… So by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous” (Rom. 5:19); “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself.… He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:19, 21).
Fifthly, that He would make the elect partakers of this merited salvation,
by declaring the gospel to them, regenerating them, granting them faith, preserving them, resurrecting them from the dead, and ushering them into heaven. Thus the execution of this great work would rest upon His shoulders. “And this is the Father’s will which hath sent Me, that of all which He hath given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day” (John 6:39). This then is a general presentation of some of the conditions of this covenant.
To these conditions the Father added glorious promises, both in reference to the Surety as well as in reference to the elect.
First, the Father promised that God’s good pleasure would prosper through Him.
“When Thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand” (Isa. 53:10).
Secondly, the Father promised that He would be King over all the elect, not merely from among the Jews, but also from among the Gentiles.
“Yet have I set My King upon My holy hill of Zion. Ask of Me, and I shall give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession” (Psa. 2:6, 8); “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.… All nations shall serve Him” (Psa. 72:8, 11).
Thirdly, the Father promised that He would have power over all creatures in order to govern them to the benefit of His elect.
“All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth” (Mat. 28:18); “For He hath put all things under His feet” (1 Cor. 15:27).
Fourthly, the Father promised that He would be glorified in an exceedingly magnificent and wondrous manner which would be observed and acknowledged by the creatures.
“… When He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Heb. 1:3); “… I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne” (Rev. 3:21).
Fifthly, the Father promised that He would be the Judge of heaven and of earth.
“And hath given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of man” (John 5:27); “Because He hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom He hath ordained” (Acts 17:31).
Sixthly, relative to the elect, the Father promised to Him that the elect would receive all the benefits of the covenant of grace through Him: forgiveness of sin, reconciliation, adoption unto children, peace, sanctification, and eternal glory.
“… It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32); “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32).
God confirmed all these promises to the Son by means of both sacraments and extraordinary declarations.
(1) He confirmed this to Him by oath. “The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a Priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek” (Psa. 110:4); “Once have I sworn by My holiness that I will not lie unto David [Christ]” (Psa. 89:35).
(2) He sealed this to Him by means of the Old and New Testament sacraments which we will discuss shortly.
(3) God assured Him of this by means of extraordinary and immediate revelations and declarations. “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Mat. 3:17). This declaration is repeated in Matthew 17:5. God was not only pleased with His Person, but also with His qualifications as Surety and Mediator, and in His work of redemption.
This then is the work of the one party, the Father.
We shall now consider the work of the other party, the Lord Jesus Christ, which consists in
1) His acceptance of both the conditions and the promises,
2) His fulfillment of these conditions, and
3) His demand that the promises be fulfilled on the basis of these conditions being fulfilled.
First, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is very God and a holy man, in hearing these conditions according to His human nature, neither would nor could but accept these conditions due to His perfect holiness and love for God.
With full joy He wholeheartedly accepted them, as it is stated in Psalm 40:6–8, “Burnt offering and sin offering hast Thou not required. Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of Me, I delight to do Thy will,1 O My God: yea, Thy law is within My heart.” The apostle also quotes this text in Hebrews 10:5–7, and extends its application more fully to Christ.
Secondly, He also accepted the promises.
This acceptance is confirmed by the fact that the Father strengthened Him in the execution of the covenant by means of its promises, oaths, and seals. “He is near that justifieth Me; who will contend with Me?” (Isa. 50:8). In like manner He is said to be justified in the Spirit (1 Tim. 3:16). In what manner is Christ justified? The Father reaffirmed and assured Him of the fact that His suffering and death was a perfect ransom for all the sins of the elect, that the Father was perfectly satisfied with the execution of His suretyship, and that He merited a complete salvation for all the elect. Therefore, He who manifested Himself in the likeness of sinful flesh during His sojourn upon earth (Rom. 8:3), and who had all the sins of His elect imputed to His account, will “appear the second time without sin unto salvation” (Heb. 9:28). It is also evident that Christ strengthened Himself with these promises, for in His suffering He anticipated the glory which was promised to Him. “… who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross” (Heb. 12:2).
In what manner did the Lord Jesus use the sacraments? We have a dilemma here, for the sacraments were instituted for believers in order to seal to them that they are partakers of the benefits of the covenant on the basis of His suffering and death, whereas Christ was perfect and knew of no weakness of faith.
It is a certainty that He partook of the sacraments such as circumcision, the passover, and also holy baptism; this is not as evident regarding the Lord’s Supper. To solve this dilemma the following must be considered.
(1) Both the sinless as well as sinners may make use of the sacraments. Prior to the fall the Tree of Life was a sacrament for Adam. This is true, considering that a sacrament, a) repeatedly and vividly brings to mind the promised matter; b) repeatedly reconfirms the certainty of the promises; c) provides a sweet foretaste of the matter signified; and d) rekindles and quickens the approbation of the conditions of the covenant as well as the person’s pledge to fulfil these conditions. All of these are applicable to a sinless person. Since Adam could use the sacrament in this fashion, the Lord Jesus was able to use them likewise.
(2) The sacraments, being the seals of the covenant, sealed to Christ all the promises of the covenant of redemption. For believers, the sacraments seal the covenant of grace in Christ, but for Christ they sealed the covenant of redemption, assuring Him that He, on the basis of His perfect obedience and satisfaction, would merit all the promised benefits for Himself and His children. It was thus sealed unto Christ that His sacrifice was pleasing, His satisfaction was efficacious to remove the sins of the elect which He had taken upon Himself, and His perfect righteousness was efficacious to acquire the right to eternal life for them.
Thirdly, as the Lord Jesus had promised to fulfil all that the Lord demanded of Him, He therefore came and perfectly accomplished this in very deed.
“Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:6–8). Therefore He said, “I have glorified Thee on the earth: I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do” (John 17:4), and “It is finished” (John 19:30).
Fourthly, upon fulfillment of the condition, the Lord Jesus demanded the fulfillment of the promises both for Himself and for the elect.
He does so first of all for Himself.
“I have glorified Thee on the earth: and now, O Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was” (John 17:4–5).
He also does so on behalf of the elect.
“Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me” (John 17:24).
Did Christ merit something on His own behalf, since He did and suffered everything on behalf of the elect?
These matters are not contradictory, as one thing can be pursued with various objectives. In suffering on behalf of the elect and in fulfilling all righteousness for them the Lord Jesus manifested such a perfect obedience and love toward God and the elect, that He, according to the covenant of redemption, has merited the promised benefits for Himself as Mediator.
First, when considering a covenant which contains conditional promises, the party which fulfills the conditions merits the matter which has been promised.
Here there is also a covenant with conditional promises. Since the Lord Jesus has fulfilled the condition, He has consequently also merited the fulfillment of all the promises which have been made to Him as well as the elect.
Secondly, Christ anticipated the payment of His wages.
“… surely My judgment is with the LORD, and My work with My God” (Isa. 49:4).
There is a gracious reward which is not according to merit, and there is a just reward which is according to merit and on the basis of accomplishment. In reference to Christ we have here a contract which justly requires the payment of wages upon the accomplishment of a task. In view of this, Christ has merited a reward for Himself.
Thirdly, the Lord Jesus had His glory in view as a prize which was set before Him.
“… Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame” (Heb. 12:2).
We thus observe that joy was set before Him upon the condition of submitting to the cross. That joy He had in view and therefore He endured the cross, thereby meriting that joy for Himself.
Fourthly, this is also confirmed by all those texts in which His work is stated to be the cause of His exaltation.
Christ humbled Himself, and therefore God exalted Him.
“He shall see the travail of His soul. Therefore will I divide Him a portion with the great, … because He hath poured out His soul unto death” (Isa. 53:11–12); “Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows” (Psa. 45:7); “And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him” (Phil. 2:8–9).
The use of such language is so common, and so clearly presupposes merit, that the mere observation of these texts confirms that Christ did not only obtain glory in consequence of what had previously transpired, but He also merited the same.
Practical Observations Concerning the Covenant of Redemption
We have thus seen that relative to the eternal salvation of the elect there is a covenant of redemption between the Father and the Lord Jesus. We have considered the specific conditions and promises which it contains, how willingly the Lord Jesus has accepted them, and how perfectly He has finished everything. One should not be of the opinion that all this is mere intellectual speculation, and that, having perceived all this, one can let the matter rest, for it is the foundation for all sure comfort, joy, holy amazement, and the magnification of God. Therefore we must strive to understand this doctrine well, and to make use of it continually. For your guidance, consider the following matters.
First, the salvation of the elect is unmoveably sure.
They are therefore in an unchangeable state—indeed, as confirmed in this as the elect angels. For both parties, God the Lord and Christ, are fully and mutually satisfied concerning the salvation of the elect and the way in which they will become partakers of it, the conditions for this having been fulfilled by the Surety. They need not keep themselves, but according to this decree they are in Christ’s keeping and thus they are kept by a sure, almighty, and faithful hand. Therefore,
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” (Rom. 8:35). Who shall disannul the covenant which has been established between them both? “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (1 Cor. 15:55).
Secondly, the elect neither need to accomplish nor merit salvation, nor add anything to the acquisition thereof, for by this covenant all the weighty conditions were laid upon Christ.
He would bear the punishment; He would fulfil the law on their behalf; He would keep them; and He would lead them to salvation. He would perform all that pertained to the covenant, and has also accomplished it. On the other hand, all the merits of Christ extend to God’s children, and all graces are theirs: the adoption unto children, justification, sanctification, perseverance, and glorification. All these, at the appropriate time, manner, and measure, are administered to them in accordance with the contents of this covenant. Therefore, in recognition of this, how they ought to cry out,
“Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto Thy Name give glory, for Thy mercy, and for Thy truth’s sake” (Psa. 115:1)!
Thirdly, the covenant of grace and our covenant transaction with God in Christ has its origin and basis in this covenant of redemption between God and Christ.
From this covenant issue forth the beginning, continuance, and end of man’s salvation. Before anyone existed, and before the gospel was proclaimed to them, it had already been decreed and established in this covenant when each of the elect would be born; when and by what means they would be brought into the covenant, the measure of grace, comfort, and holiness; and the quantity and nature of the tribulations and crosses they would have to endure in this life. All this has been determined and all the aforementioned matters issue forth from this covenant.
Therefore the elect on the one hand need but be still and to let the Lord work. They need but to open their mouths to receive, for whatever is comprehended in the articles of this covenant will most certainly be given to them. On the other hand, they must focus upon this covenant, be active in entering into the covenant of grace, and living therein, they must make it the foundation of their life. This will motivate the godly to proceed with understanding and steadfastness, neither resting in the steadfastness of their faith or godliness nor, as one so often is inclined to do, being tossed to and fro when both appear to diminish. In consequence of this, they will acknowledge that the manifestation of every grace and influence of the Holy Spirit proceeds from this covenant. They will be enabled to exclaim feelingly, joyously, and lovingly, “For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen” (Rom. 11:36).
Fourthly, this covenant reveals a love which is unparalleled, exceeding all comprehension.
How blessed and what a wonder it is to have been considered and known in this covenant, to have been given by the Father to the Son, by the Son to have been written in His book, and to have been the object of the eternal, mutual delight of the Father and the Son to save you!
The parties of this covenant were not moved to include any of the elect on the basis of foreseen faith or good works. They were not moved by necessity or compulsion, but by eternal love and volition. “Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love” (Jer. 31:3). Love moved the Father and love moved the Lord Jesus. It is a covenant of love between those whose love proceeds from within themselves, without there being any loveableness in the object of this love.
Oh, how blessed is he who is incorporated in this covenant and, being enveloped and irradiated by this eternal love, is stirred up to love in return, exclaiming, “We love Him, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
Fifthly, by virtue of this covenant the Lord Jesus is the Executor of the salvation of the elect.
The Father has given them into His hand and entrusts them to Him. The Son in love has accepted them and has committed Himself not to lose one of them, but to raise them up again at the last day (John 6:39). The Lord Jesus is omnipotent, faithful, loving, immutable, and possesses everything which is necessary for their salvation. How safely one may therefore surrender everything to Him, and rest therein, confessing,
“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want” (Psa. 23:1); “The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me” (Psa. 138:8); “Thou shalt guide me with Thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory” (Psa. 73:24); “Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him” (Psa. 2:12)!
Wilhelmus à Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, ed. Joel R. Beeke, (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 1992), 1:251–263.