Turretin Defended The Covenant Of Works Using Hosea 6:7

VI. Episcopius, and with him the Remonstrants, deny that a covenant of nature was made with Adam (“Institutiones theologica,” 2.1 in Opera theologica [1678], p. 23); but it can be proved. (1) There are granted the essential parties of a covenant, God and man. God, who as the Creator of man, must also be his governor and from this, his legislator, and because good in his own nature, the rewarder also of those who seek him (Heb. 11:6), so that he would not only give him a law for his direction, but also hold forth a reward to him for keeping it (although bound by no right to that). Man who, because a creature, must also wholly depend upon God and, because upright, could keep the inscribed law, and because rational, ought not otherwise than in a rational manner (i.e., by the intellect and will) be governed, both by the prescription of a law, the promise of rewards and the threatening of punishment. Also since he was created after the image of divine holiness, he ought to have been led to a communion of that happiness also which is the inseparable attendant of holiness.

VII. Second, a law was imposed upon Adam, which necessarily implies a federal agreement and contract. For he who receives it, binds himself officially to obedience under the punishment denounced through the same; he who gives it (for the very reason that he exacts obedience) is bound to furnish indemnity and security to the one obeying. Although Moses sets forth only one part of that federal sanction (referring to punishment, Gen. 2:17), still he proves that the former concerning the promise should not be excluded, both from the sacrament of the tree of life (by which it was sealed) and from the threatening of death (which by reason of contraries had the implied promise of life and from the various passages of Scripture which express more clearly the nature and sanction of the law, as Lev. 18:5—“If a man do these, he shall live in them,” cf. Dt. 27:26; Ezk. 20:11; Mt. 19:17; Gal. 3:12).

VIII. Third, the passage in Hos. 6:7 seems not obscurely to intimate this: the Israelites are said to have “transgressed the covenant like Adam” (hmh k’dhm ‘bhrv bhryth). For although these words may also be explained of the inconstancy of men (that they may be said to have transgressed the covenant as men are wont to do, who are naturally false and fickle, and often deceive expectation), still nothing prevents their being referred also to Adam (that they may be said to have violated the covenant like Adam, their first parent, who miserably broke the covenant contracted with him by God). A similar locution occurs in Job 31:33: “If I covered,” says he, “my transgressions as Adam [k’dhm].” Here is a manifest reference to the fact of Adam’s endeavoring to excuse and hide his sin (Gen. 3:12).

Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, ed. James T. Dennison Jr., trans. George Musgrave Giger, vol. 1 (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 1992–97), 575–76 (8.3.6–8).

    Post authored by:

  • R. Scott Clark
    Author Image

    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

    More by R. Scott Clark ›

Subscribe to the Heidelblog today!

One comment

  1. Warfield says in Vol I of his Selected Shorter Writings pge 120 that
    ” Perhaps, the general tone of the Federalistic interpreters may be said to be fairly
    represented by the calm treatment accorded the passage by Turrettine.” in reference
    to the statement in Section VIII.

Comments are closed.