Hodge: “Do This And Live” Is A Covenant Of Works

1. The law of Moses was, in the first place, a re-enactment of the covenant of works. A covenant is simply a promise suspended upon a condition. The covenant of works, therefore, is nothing more than the promise of life suspended on the condition of perfect obedience. The phrase is used as a concise and convenient expression of the eternal principles of justice on which God deals with rational creatures, and which underlie all dispensations, the Adamic, Abrahamic, Mosaic and Christian. Our Lord said to the lawyer who asked what he should do to inherit eternal life, “What is written in the law? How readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thy-self. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right, this do and thou shalt live,” Luke 10:26–28. This is the covenant of works. It is an immutable principle that where there is no sin there is no condemnation, and where there is sin there is death. This is all that those who reject the gospel have to fall back upon. It is this principle which is rendered so prominent in the Mosaic economy as to give it its character of law. Viewed under this aspect it is the ministration of condemnation and death.

—Charles Hodge, An Exposition of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians (New York: A. C. Armstrong & Son, 1891), 57–58.

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    • The debate seems to lie mostly among those who hold to the Westminster Standards and whether the Standards teach or allow that a republication or re-enactment of the covenant of works was given at Sinai – not for attaining eternal life but as a national covenant to remain in the land and as a type of the covenant of works under which the 1st Adam was born and Jesus Christ, the 2nd Adam, was born (Gal. 4.4). Most would concede that it was taught by many Reformed over the years (e.g. Hodge) but they want to make the case that that teaching is not confessional. Why? Because, according to some, the Confession explicitly rules Hodge’s view as non-confessional and likewise any who hold similar understandings. Thus the current OPC study committee deliberating this issue.

    • I second that as well, there doesn’t seem to be a debate from where I stand,
      there is overwhelming evidence on this site as well as other sites not to mention
      published sources, you could ague for a definite material republication in the Old
      & New Testaments, not to mention the Old having Typological, Hypothetical
      & Pedagogical elements as well as a Federal (formal element) Covenant offered to
      Christ, which is were the 3 above point to, being fulfilled in the Cross.

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