Heidelminicast: Olevianus On Moses As A Legal Covenant

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One comment

  1. Thanks, Scott, for sharing this otherwise-unstranslated quote. Samuel Bolton’s survey was very similar:

    Samuel Bolton, The True Bounds of Christian Freedom (1645, BOT edition, 1964)

    [Introduction: What follows are verbatim quotes from Bolton’s study. Bolton lived from 1605-1654, and was a commissioner to the Westminster Assembly, though he never attended. The treatise itself wrestles with the question of the Christian believer’s relation to the Mosaic law, and the treatise is primarily practical. In the process of this practical study, however, Samuel Bolton addressed the issue of how to understand the Mosaic law as a “legal” covenant, since in scripture it is sometimes so referred to. In the process, he surveys the various known opinions among orthodox reformed men in his day, and articulates and defends one view (‘covenant subserviens’) that is remarkably like the view of Meredith G. Kline. Note also that no one in the 17th century regarded the Sinai administration as simply gracious. Even those who saw it as advancing (“subservient to”) the covenant of grace observed that it did so “in a legal manner.” tdg]

    For the clearing of these difficulties, let it be said that divines have distinguished between various kinds of covenants. Some of them have set down these three: a covenant of nature, a covenant of grace, a mixed kind of covenant consisting of nature and grace.

    Other divines have distinguished the following:

    1. ‘Foedus natura’, of that covenant which God made with man in innocency.
    2. ‘Foedus promissi’, or the covenant of grace and promise, which was made with Adam after his fall…
    3. ‘Foedus operi’, or the covenant of works which was made with the Jews

    Still others make the three covenants to be the following:
    1. ‘Foedus natura’, the covenant of nature made with Adam.
    2. ‘Foedus gratia’: the covenant of grace made with us in Christ.
    3. ‘Foedus subserviens’, or the subservient covenant which, they say, was the covenant made here with the Jews merely by way of subserviency to the covenant of grace in Christ, a covenant of preparation, to make way for the advancement of the covenant of grace in Christ.

    Still others say that there were never more than two covenants made with man, one of works, the other of grace, the first in innocency, the other after the fall. Yet, they add, this covenant of grace was dispensed to the Jews in such a legal manner that it seems to be nothing but the repetition of the covenant of works. (pp. 89-90)

    If it be neither a covenant of works, nor a covenant of grace, then must it of necessity be a third kind of covenant:…It was given by way of subserviency to the Gospel and a fuller revelation of the covenant of grace; it was temporary, and had respect to Canaan and God’s blessing there, if and as Israel obeyed. It had no relation to heaven, for that was promised by another covenant which God made before He entered the subservient covenant. This is the opinion which I myself desire modestly to propound, for I have not been convinced that it is injurious to holiness or disagreeable to the mind of God in Scripture. (p. 99)

    T. David

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