It may be that you do not read the comments section. That’s probably wise. Here are some revised and expanded responses to some questions/objections
1. The doctrine of the republication of the covenant of works relative to the land promise and national covenant contradicts the WCF. Owen taught republication, ergo Owen contradicts the WCF.
Respondeo dicendeum: Petitio principii. Whether the doctrine of republication contradicts the WCF is what is in question. The major premise begs the question. One prima facie evidence against the major premise is the fact that the same sorts of folks who wrote the WCF and held to republication and used it as proof of the confession’s doctrine of the covenant of works. A second piece of evidence is the language of WCF chapter 19 to which Thomas Boston appealed.
2. The doctrine of republication is implicitly Baptistic.
I don’t see how distinguishing the visible church from the invisible church helps the Baptists at all. Like Paul in Rom 2:28, the Reformed faith recognizes that there are those in the covenant of grace only visibly and those who have possession (or who will come into possession) of the substance of the covenant of grace. One of the great problems for those Baptists who would be Reformed is that, by trying to achieve an eschatological visible church in the semi-eschatological age, they muddle or implicitly reject the visible/invisible distinction. That’s why they can’t baptize children, because they can’t be sure that a baby is regenerate. Pace Abraham Kuyper, that’s why we don’t baptize on the basis of presumed regeneration. We don’t assume that only the regenerate may be baptized. God commanded that all sons of the covenant, even Esau and Ishmael, be circumcised on the 8th day. In the same way, we baptize babies on the basis of divine promise and command. God promised to be a God to us and to our children (Gen 17). That promise was repeated in Acts 2:39. God commanded that we initiate our children into the visible covenant community. The command to initiate children of professing believers into the visible covenant community still stands. Unlike the temporary and typological land promises and the temporary and typological national covenant given to Moses, the promises of Gen 17 are permanent.
It seems to me that that those who deny republication do so partly because, in reaction to the Baptist error, they conflate Moses and Abraham. In so doing they’ve actually agreed with the Baptists who do the same thing. What we want to say to our Baptist friends is that Moses is not Abraham. Moses is unique in important ways. One great Baptist assumption is that everything that happened in the typological period was Mosaic, that the NT expression “old covenant” refers to everything that happened before the incarnation/death of Christ. In fact, the expression ‘old covenant’ (2 Cor 3; Heb 7-10) does not refer to Abraham but to Moses.
Infant initiation, Baptists argue, was part of the “old covenant.” The “old covenant” has expired, therefore infant initiation has expired. On this basis they oppose infant baptism. We (should) respond by saying that, “Not only does the expression ‘old covenant’ not refer to Abraham but Paul doesn’t treat Abraham like an ‘old covenant’ figure. That’s why he’s the father of all who believe (See Rom 3-4; Gal 3-4). By distinguishing between Moses and Abraham we assign infant initiation to Abraham and not to Moses.
Because we distinguish between Moses and Abraham, and because we see that, relative to salvation and justification, Moses was an administration of the covenant of grace made with Abraham, we cannot agree at all with those Baptists (e.g. Paul Jewett) who argue that there was nothing spiritual about the Mosaic covenant. Hebrews 11 is clear that under Moses and David etc God saved his people sola gratia, sola fide, et solo Christo has he has always done since the fall.
Hodge is perfectly right to say that God made a temporary, national covenant with Moses. That temporary national covenant, which expired with the death of Christ, was the outworking of the land promises and the promise of a national people made to Abraham. The spiritual covenant, the covenant of grace, however, does not expire. The covenant of grace was temporarily administered through and alongside a national covenant. Paul seems to say something like this in Gal 3 doesn’t he? The Mosaic covenant, insofar as it was a distinct covenant, was a national, external, temporary covenant. At the same time, however, the spiritual, internal, Abrahamic covenant of grace continued and those in the Mosaic covenant who were elect, were also children of Abraham as well as children of Moses.
God said to Abraham: I will be a God to you and to your children. Adding a visible national, temporary covenant to that immutable spiritual covenant (which was repeated in Acts 2:39 – “For the promise is to you and to your children” does not change that promise. The national, temporary, land promises were administered through Moses and expired when Jesus, the true Israel went down to Egypt, came up out of Egypt, obeyed God as the Israel of God, the natural (not adopted) Son and as the 2nd Adam. When Jesus was crucified, the Mosaic covenant was crucified with him. Seems to me that’s what Paul says in Colossians.
3. The doctrine of republication leads to antinomianism by making the Mosaic covenant merely temporary and typological
Unless one is a theonomist, antinomianism is denial of the abiding validity of the moral, natural law of God. That law was given in creation in the covenant of works. Our Lord Jesus summarized it in Matt 22:37-40. It came to expression in Israelitish terms in the decalogue. Unless one wants the national covenant today, one has to recognize that the Mosaic theocracy was temporary and typological. The Westminster divines certainly recognized that fact in ch 19. Does the fact that the national Israelite, Mosaic covenant was temporary and typological mean that we lose the decalogue and a reign of antinomianism is unleashed? No. That’s the beautiful thing about the Reformed faith. We don’t ground the decalogue purely in Moses. We ground it in nature. That’s why VanDrunen’s work on natural law is so important and useful. That’s why Barth’s and the theonomic/reconstructionist rejection of natural law is do damaging to Reformed Christianity. The substance of the decalogue persists because it is natural or creational and a reflection (analogue) of the divine nature. The land promises and saturday sabbath expired with Moses but the promise of heaven and the Christian sabbath persist because we live in a semi-eschatological age. The consummation is not here yet.
This is why the older Reformed theologians appealed to republication to prove the pre-lapsarian covenant of works; not relative to justification or salvation but relative to the national covenant. They believed in natural law. They frequently called the covenant of works a “covenant of nature.” Maybe part of the problem some folk have today with republication and the covenant of works is that they no longer believe in nature/creation and the natural law thus they don’t believe that the decalogue reflects the creational law? For the older Reformed theologians, the national covenant illustrates the covenant of works. If there could be a temporary, legal, national covenant, mutatis mutandis post lapsum then there could be a pre-lapsarian covenant of works.
It is odd that some who position themselves as staunch defenders of confessionalism are laying siege to one of the chief traditional proofs for the confessional doctrine of the covenant of works. Maybe our ostensible confessionalists are just that?