Sibbes: Our Communion Was First Founded Upon A Covenant Of Works

This communion and fellowship of man with God, was first founded on a covenant of works made with Adam in paradise. If he did obey, and did not eat of the forbidden fruit, he should have life both for himself and his posterity; the which covenant, because God would not have forgotten, he afterward renewed in the delivery of the ten commandments, requiring from man obedience to them in his own person, exactly, at all times, perpetually: promising life on the obedience, and threatening death and cursing if he continued not in everything the law required to do. But this fellowship being placed in man’s own freedom, and having so weak a foundation, he lost both himself and it, so that now by the first covenant of works, Adam and all his posterity are under a curse; for we cannot fulfill the law that requires personal obedience, perfect obedience, and exact obedience. He that ‘continues not in all is cursed,’ Gal. 3:10. The law then finds us dead and kills us. It finds us dead before, and not only leaves us dead still, but makes us more dead.

—Richard Sibbes (1577–1635), The Complete Works of Richard Sibbes, ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart, vol. 6 (Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; James Nisbet and Co.; W. Robertson, 1863), 3. [spelling modernized]

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  1. He uses the word renewal. Seems like a republication of the CoW to me. I keep hearing there are negatives to such a view but scripture seems to imply a renewal of the CoW or a reminder. I don’t know. The Gentiles who have no law have a conscience. Is the conscience a reminder or renewal of the CoW for Gentiles?

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