Extracts from John Owen's complete works on the Land Covenant

Home
Back to Land Covenant

Numbers refer to Volume and page in Ages Acrobat Version of Owen's works unless otherwise (Personal comments in squared brackets)

6 p 130
But when the same Jacob comes to ask after another name of God, he answers him not; as it were commanding him to
live by faith on what he was pleased to reveal. Now, then, God had not made himself known to Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob by his name Jehovah, because he had not peculiarly called himself unto them by that name, nor had engaged it in his covenant with them, although it were otherwise known unto them. They lived and rested on the name of God Almighty, as suited to their supportment and consolation in their wandering, helpless condition, before the promise was to be accomplished. But now, when God came to fulfill his promises, and to bring the people, by virtue of his covenant, into the land of Canaan, he reveals himself unto them by, and renews his covenant with them in, the name of Jehovah. And
hereby did God declare that he came to give stability and accomplishment unto his promises; to which end they were now to live upon this name of Jehovah, in an expectation of the fulfilling of the promises, as their fathers did on that of God Almighty, in an expectation of protection from him in their wandering state and condition. Hence this name became the foundation of the Judaical church, and ground of the faith of them who did sincerely believe in God therein. And it is strangely fallen out, in the providence of God, that since the Jews have rejected the covenant of their
591
fathers, and are cast out of the covenant for their unbelief, they have utterly forgot that name of God. No Jew in the world knows what it is, nor how to pronounce it or make mention of it. I know themselves and others pretend strange mysteries in the letters and vowels of that name, which make it ineffable; but the truth is, being cast out of that covenant which was built and established on that name, in the just judgment of God, through their own blindness and superstition, they are no more able to make mention of it or to take it into their mouths. It is required, then, that the name of God be given unto us as engaged in covenant, to secure our expectation that he will be unto us according to his name.
6  p 609
2. We may observe, that no other duty whatever is expressly placed in the same series, order, or rank with it; which makes it evident that it is singled out to be professed as a token and pledge of our sincerity in all other parts of our obedience unto God. It is by Christ himself made the instance for the trial of our sincerity in our universal obedience; which gives no small
honor unto it. The apostle puts great weight on the fifth commandment, "Honor thy father and mother;" because it "is the first commandment with promise," <490602>Ephesians 6:2. All the commandments, indeed, had a promise, "Do this, and live," life was promised to the observance of them all; but this is the first that had a peculiar promise annexed unto it, and
accompanying of it. And it was such a promise as had a peculiar foundation through God's ordinance in the thing itself. It is, that the parents should prolong the lives of their children that were obedient. ym,y; �Wkria}y, <022012>Exodus 20:12, � "They shall prolong thy days;" that is, by praying for their prosperity, blessing them in the name of God, and directing them in those ways of obedience whereby they might live and possess the land. And this promise is now translated from the covenant of
Canaan into the covenant of grace; the blessing of parents going far towards the interesting their children in the promise thereof, and so prolonging their days unto eternity, though their days in this world should be of little continuance. So it is said of our Savior that "he should see his seed, and prolong his days," <235310>Isaiah 53:10; which hath carried over that word, and that which is signified by it, unto eternal things. But this by the way. As the singular promise made to that command renders it singular, so doth this especial instancing in this duty in our prayer render it also; for though, as all the commandments had a promise, so we are to carry a testimony with us of our sincerity in universal obedience in our addresses unto God, yet the singling out of this instance renders it exceeding remarkable, and shows what a value God puts upon it, and how well he is
pleased with it.

8 p139
2.) For the rule of this, it is "the oaths of the tribes;" or as afterward, "his word," � the oaths of the tribes, that is, the oaths made to them, � the word he stood engaged to them in. The promise God made by oath unto Abraham, that he would give him the land of Canaan for an inheritance, even to him and his posterity, <011314>Genesis 13:14-17, is here intimated. This
promise was often renewed to him and the following patriarchs. Hence it is called oaths, though but the same promise often renewed: and it had the nature of an oath, because it was made a covenant. Now, it was all for the benefit of the several tribes, in respect of actual possession, and was lastly
140
renewed to them, <020317>Exodus 3:17; hence called "the oaths of the tribes," not which they sware to the Lord, but that which the Lord sware to them. So afterward it is called his word, � "Thy word." This, then, is the purport of this general proposition, "O Lord, according as thou promisedst, and engagedst thyself by covenant to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, with their posterity, that thou wouldst give them the land of Canaan to be theirs for an inheritance; so by the dispensation of thy
mighty power thou hast fully accomplished it." And this he layeth down for the supportment of faith in a time of trouble.

Vol 9 519
(3.) It is an everlasting covenant upon the account of the matter of it, � the things concerning which it is. It is not a covenant about corn, and wine, and oil, � about the growing of our houses, the increase of our families or selves in the world; but it is a covenant about everlasting things, � "things which are not seen," <470418>2 Corinthians 4:18. Grace is eternal, mercy eternal,
spiritual life, and joy, and comfort, are all eternal things.
"This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent," <431703>John 17:3.
Not only eternal glory, but the grace we have here by virtue of the covenant, is eternal. "It is not about the land of Canaan, thrones and kingdoms, � it is not about the prosperity of our families," saith he; "but about everlasting things."
Now, is there not here great ground for retreat unto this covenant in all our straits, that hath its rise in everlasting love, its end in everlasting rest, and the matter whereof are all everlasting things. This is the first property of it, and a reason why we ought to make it our relief, � because it is an everlasting covenant.
 

11 p 292
Args from Covenant of Grace for Perseverance of Saints
4. "From the words immediately preceding the passages offered to debate, it clearly appears that the promise in these passages relates unto and concerns their reduction and return from and out of that captivity into their own land."
Ans. Will Mr. Goodwin say that it doth only concern that? Dareth any man so boldly contradict the apostle, setting out from this very place the tenor of the covenant of grace, ratified in the blood of Christ? <580807>Hebrew 8:7-12. Nay, will any say that so much of the promise here as God calleth his covenant, chap. <233133>31:33, 34, 32:38-40, doth at all concern their reduction into their own land any farther than it was a type or resemblance of our deliverance by Christ? These evident assertions are as express and flat contradictions to the evident intendment of the Holy Ghost as any man is able to invent. But,
293
Mr. Goodwin hath many deductions out of the former "sure and evident" premises, to prove that this is not a promise of absolute and final perseverance (it is a strange perseverance that is not final!) in grace to the end of their lives; for, saith he, �
Heb 8.7-13
For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.
8 For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:
9 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.
10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.
12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.
13 In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.
[Owen seems to be deliberately or carelessly neglecting the context of the verses.]
Jer 31.
32  Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD:
33  But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
34  And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
[But 35 Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is his name:
36  If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever.
37  Thus saith the LORD; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the LORD.
38  Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the city shall be built to the LORD from the tower of Hananeel unto the gate of the corner.
39  And the measuring line shall yet go forth over against it upon the hill Gareb, and shall compass about to Goath.
40  And the whole valley of the dead bodies, and of the ashes, and all the fields unto the brook of Kidron, unto the corner of the horse gate toward the east, shall be holy unto the LORD; it shall not be plucked up, nor thrown down any more for ever.]
Jer 32
37  Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely:
38  And they shall be my people, and I will be their God:
39  And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them:
40  And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.
[41  Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly with my whole heart and with my whole soul.
42  For thus saith the LORD; Like as I have brought all this great evil upon this people, so will I bring upon them all the good that I have promised them.
43  And fields shall be bought in this land, whereof ye say, It is desolate without man or beast; it is given into the hand of the Chaldeans.
44  Men shall buy fields for money, and subscribe evidences, and seal them, and take witnesses in the land of Benjamin, and in the places about Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, and in the cities of the mountains, and in the cities of the valley, and in the cities of the south: for I will cause their captivity to return, saith the LORD.]

11 p 298 [Owen's answer to Goodwin's 7 objection that "If the spiritual promises be absolute, so must the temporal be also; for their accomplishing depends solely on the things mentioned and promised in the spiritual."]
2. Temporal promises, as such, belong not primarily to the covenant of grace, as they are of temporal things for the substance of them, but to the covenant with that whole nation about their inheritance in the land of Canaan, which was expressly conditional, and which held out no more of God's intendment to that nation but only that there should be an inviolable connection between their obedience and prosperity.
 

11 p 758 [Answer to objection that Ezek 17 provides unequivocal evidence of a falling from righteousness, Owen establishes a dichotony between gracious promises to temporal blessing (land, nationhood, health, fruitfulness etc) and eternal covenant blessings bought by Jesus' blood]
3. That it is not the nature and tenor of the covenant of grace, and God's dealing with his chosen secret ones, his saints, true believers, as to their eternal condition, which in these words is intended, but the manifestation of the righteousness of God in dealing with that people of the Jews, in a peculiar dispensation of his providence towards the body of the people and the nation in general, appears farther from the occasion of the words and the provocation given the Lord to make use of those expressions unto them. The proverb that God cuts out Of their lips and mouths by the sword of his righteousness in those words was "concerning the land of Israel;" used perhaps mostly by them in captivity. But it was concerning the land of Israel, not concerning the eternal state and condition of the saints of God, but concerning the land of Israel, verse 2. God had of old given that land to that people by promise, and continued them in it for many generations, until at length, for their wickedness, idolatry, abomination, and obstinacy in their evil ways, he caused them to be carried captive unto Babylon. In that captivity the Lord revenged upon them not only the sins of the present
11 p 758
generation, but, as he told them, also those of their forefathers; especially the abomination, cruelty, idolatry, exercised in the days of Manasseh, taking this season for his work of vengeance on the generations following, who also so far walked in the steps of their forefathers as to justify all God's proceedings against them. Being wasted and removed from their own land by the righteous judgment of God, they considered the land of Israel, that was promised to them (though upon their good  behavior therein), and how, instead of a plentiful enjoyment of all things in peace and quietness therein, there were now a small remnant in captivity, the rest, the far greatest part, being destroyed by the sword and famine in that land. In this state and condition, being, as all others of their frame and principle, prone to justify themselves, they had hatched a proverb among themselves concerning the land of Israel promised to them, exceedingly opprobrious and reproachful to the justice of God in his dealings with them. The sum of the intendment of this saying that was grown rife amongst them was, that
for the sins of their forefathers, many, yea, the greatest part of them, were slain in the land of Israel, and the rest carried from it into bondage and captivity. To vindicate the righteousness and equity of his ways, the impartiality of his judgments, the Lord recounts to them by his prophet many of their sins, whereof themselves with their fathers were guilty, in the land of their nativity, and for which he had brought all that calamity and desolation upon them whereof they did complain; alarming, under many supposals of rising and falling, that principle of rising and falling, that principle he laid down in the entrance of his dealings with them, � that every one of them suffered for his own iniquity, whatever they suffered, whether death or other punishment, and not for the sins of their forefathers, whatever influence they might have upon the procuring of the general vengeance that overtook the whole nation in the midst of their iniquity. This being the aim, scope, and tendency of the place, the import of the words and tenor of God's intendment in them, I cannot but wonder how any man of understanding and conscience can once imagine that God hath given any testimony to the possibility of falling out of covenant with him of those whom he hath taken nigh to himself through the blood of his  Son in the everlasting bond thereof; as though it were any thing of his dealing with the saints in reference to their spiritual and eternal condition that the Lord here reveals his will about, being only the tenor of his dealings with the house of Israel in reference to the land of Canaan.

[Doesn't Paul make the same claim in 1 Cor 5 and Gal 5, and John in 1 Jn 5 and Rev?]

[In further disputing on possibility of fall of a righteous man from Ezek 17. Owen distinguishes 2 covenants sharply and falsely.]
11 p 764
The severals of the text come nextly under consideration, and amongst them, first, the subject spoken of (that we may take the words in some order, Mr. Goodwin having roved up and down, backwards and forwards, from one end of the text to the other, without any at all), and this is, "A righteous man;" that is, such an one as is described, verses 5-9, "But if a
man," etc.; that is, such an one as walks up to the judgments, and statutes, and ordinances of God, so far as they were of him required in the covenant of the land of Canaan, and according to the tenor of it, whereby they held their possession therein, and whereby heavenly things were also shadowed out. That this is the person intended, this his righteousness, and this the matter upon which he is here tried, is clear in the contexts beyond all possible contradiction; so that all farther inquiries into what righteousness is intended is altogether needless What with any color of probability can be pretended from hence as to the matter in hand arises from the analogy of God's dealings with men in the tenor of the covenant of grace and the covenant of the land of Israel;
which yet are eminently distinguished in the very foundation of them, the one being built upon this bottom, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die," the other upon a dispensation of another import, as has been declared. We do, then, plainly supererogate as to the cause in hand, by the confutation of the answers which Mr. Goodwin farther attempts to remove, and his endeavor therein; which yet shall not be declined.

Confused basis of seed - land promise, conflate land possession with law.
Enjoyment of land conditioned on obedience under Law
Obedience to Law a fruit of grace

Vol 17 Exercitations on letter to Hebrews
EXERCITATION 16.
JEWISH TRADITIONS ABOUT THE COMING
OF THE MESSIAH.
1. Other considerations proving the Messiah to be long since come.
2. Fluctuation of the Jews about the person and work of the Messiah.
3. Their state and condition in the world for sixteen ages.
4. Promises of the covenant made with them of old all fulfilled, unto the expiration of that covenant.
5. Not now made good unto them � Reason thereof � The promise of the land of Canaan hath failed;
6. Of protection and temporal deliverance.
7. Spirit of prophecy departed.
8. Covenant expired.
9. Jewish exceptions � Their prosperity;
10. The sins of their forefathers;
11-13. Of themselves � Vanity of these exceptions � Concessions of the ancient Jews � Folly of Talmudical doctors.
14. Tradition of the birth of the Messiah before the destruction of the second temple.
15, 16. Tradition of the school of Elias about the world's continuance � Answers of the Jews unto our arguments, by way of concession.
17. The time prolonged because of their sins � Vanity of this pretense.
18. Not the Jews only, but the Gentiles concerned in the coming of the Messiah.
19. The promise not conditional � Limitations of time not capable of conditions.
20. No mention of any such condition.
21. The condition supposed overthrows the promise.
22. The Jews in the use of this plea self-condemned.
23. The covenant overthrown by it.
24. The Messiah may never come upon it.

Vol 17 Ex 17. p 510 Sn 29 Jesus the True Messiah
On all which considerations, it appeareth that none can possibly be intended in this promise but he whose birth was t/a, a miraculous "sign,'" as being born of  "a virgin;" and who, being born, was "God with us," both in respect of his person, uniting the natures of God and man in one, and of his office, reconciling God and man, that God might dwell with us in a way of favor and grace; he whose the land should be in an everlasting kingdom.
Vol 17 Ex 18 p560 Jews objections answered
10. Moreover, it is granted that there shall be a time and season, during the continuance of the kingdom of the Messiah in this world, wherein the generality of the nation of the Jews, all the world over, shall be called and effectually brought unto the knowledge of the Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ; with which mercy they shall also receive deliverance from their captivity, restoration unto their own land, with a blessed, flourishing, and happy condition therein. I shall not here engage into a  confirmation of this concession or assertion.

They say that they shall be delivered out of their captivity, restored to their own land, enjoy peace and quietness, glory and honor therein. We say the same concerning them also.

Vol 17 Ex 18 p 571
20. Thirdly, They insist on the promises which concern themselves; and these of all others they most mind and urge against their adversaries. Nothing, they say, is more certain and evident in the Scripture, than that the people of Israel shall be brought into a blessed and prosperous condition by the Messiah at his coming; and, in particular, that by him
572
they shall be brought home into their own land: and to this purpose they plead, Isaiah 11:12, 52:54, 60-63, 66; Jeremiah 30:31; Ezekiel 34 - 48; whereunto sundry other places of aa like importance may be added. But now, say they, instead hereof, that whole people is scattered ever the face of the earth, under great misery and oppression for the most part, without the least interest in the country promised unto them. And from hence it is that they most obstinately conclude that the Messiah is not yet come; for  until they are rich, wealthy, and powerful, they will not believe that God
is faithful.
21. Ans. It would be too long a work, and not suitable unto our present design, to go over all the promises in particular which seem to have an aspect this way, or wherein mention is made of Abraham, the seed of Abraham, Jacob, Israel, and the people of Israel and Judah. Besides, the exposition of them may readily be got from many learned commentaries
extant in all languages on the prophecies of the Old Testament. I shall therefore only give such general answers, as, being applied unto the several particular instances, will manifest the insufficiency of the Jews' argument from promises of this nature.
(1.) Then, in the consideration of these promises, we must carefully distinguish between those which had their full, at least principal, accomplishment in the return of the people from the captivity of Babylon, and those which have a direct respect unto the days of the Messiah. It is known that the prophets do very usually set out that merciful deliverance in metaphorical expressions, so as to set off the greatness of the mercy itself. But the present Jews, who now look for the accomplishing of all the most strained allegories in a literal sense, supposing that the deliverance which their forefathers then obtained, because of their ensuing trouble and poverty, did not answer what is spoken of it, do wrest them all to the times of the Messiah, when they hope they shall receive them in full measure; for they reckon all things according to their outward gain and profit, and not according to the manifestation of the love and glory of God therein. These promises, then, are in the first place to be set apart, as not concerned in our present business and difference.
(2.) We have manifested before that there is mention of a double Israel in the Scripture; � the spiritual Israel, that is, all the sons of the faith of
573
Abraham, in all ages and places throughout the world; and an Israel according to the flesh, or the carnal posterity of Jacob, which the present Jews are. This distinction we have elsewhere confirmed. Now, many of the promises pleaded belong to Israel in the first sense; that is, the church and people of God, who by faith are admitted into the covenant of
Abraham, and so made inheritors of the promises. And these also, which are by far the greatest number, are to be set aside from our present consideration of them.
(3.) It hath been proved that oftentimes spiritual things are expressed metaphorically in the prophets, � by words which, in their literal, first sense, denote things outward and corporeal. This is sufficiently evident from the instances formerly given, wherein such things are spoken as it is utterly impossible that they should have a literal accomplishment; and of the like sort there are others innumerable. And thus most of the predictions that concern peace and prosperity must necessarily intend
spiritual peace with God, because, concerning the same seasons, wars and trials are in other places foretold.
(4.) Whatever is foretold and promised concerning the Jews themselves in the days of the Messiah, doubtless they have no ground nor color of reason to expect the accomplishment of it until they receive him, own him, and submit unto him; which to this day they have not done. When Moses went forth to visit them of old in their distress, and slew the Egyptian that smote one of them, because they refused him, and would not understand that it was he whom God would deliver them by, and endeavored to betray him to death, their bondage was continued forty years longer; and yet at length by the same Moses were they delivered; and although they have refused and rejected him who was promised to be their Savior, and so continue to this day in their captivity, spiritual and temporal, yet it is he by whom, in the time appointed, they shall be delivered from the one and the other. But this shall not be done until they own and receive him: which when God shall give them hearts to do, they will quickly find the blessed success thereof; for, �
(5.) We grant that there are many promises on record in the Scripture concerning their gathering together, their return to God by the Messiah, with the great peace and glory that shall ensue thereupon. Set aside their
574
opinion concerning the perpetuity of the ceremonial law, and their return, in the observation of it, unto their carnal ordinances, built on a supposition that God is pleased with the blood of bulls and goats for its own sake, and not as a signification of that which was infinitely more excellent and glorious, � an apprehension which the whole world hath, as it  were by joint consent, long ago renounced; and cast away the vain and foolish imaginations about their sensual pleasures, behemoth, the wine of paradise, and literal accomplishment of professed allegories, which the wisest among themselves begin to be ashamed of; and there is nothing in their own expectations but we acknowledge that they shall be made
partakers of it. Return they shall to their own land, to enjoy it for a quiet and everlasting possession, their adversaries being destroyed; filled they shall be also with the light and knowledge of the will and worship of God, so as to be a guide and blessing unto the residue of the Gentiles who shall seek after the Lord; and, it may be, be intrusted with great empire and rule
in the world. The most of these things are foretold concerning them, not only in their own prophetical writings, but also by the divine writers of sundry books of the New Testament. But all this, we say, must come to pass when the veil shall be taken from before their eyes, and when "they shall look on him whom they have pierced," and joyfully receive him
whom they have sinfully rejected for so many generations. Until this be done, they may wrestle as they can with their own perplexities, and comfort themselves as well as they are able in their miseries, and get money in their dispersions by all unlawful arts and ways imaginable, and expose themselves to the delusions of impostors, false prophets, and pretenders to be their deliverers, � which, to their unspeakable misery and reproach, they have now done ten times; � deliverance, peace, tranquillity, acceptance with God and man, they shall not obtain. Here lies the crisis of their condition: When they shall receive, acknowledge, and believe in, that Messiah who came so long time since unto them, whom their fathers wickedly slew and hanged on a tree, and whom themselves have since no less wickedly rejected; and when, by his Spirit and grace, they shall be turned from ungodliness, and shall have their eyes opened to see the mystery of the grace, wisdom, and love of God in the blood of his Son; � then shall they obtain mercy from the God of their forefathers, and returning again into their own land, "Jerusalem shall be inhabited again, even in Jerusalem."

Vol 17 Ex 19
2. This whole law is generally distributed into three parts; � first, the moral; secondly, the ceremonial; thirdly, the judicial part of it. And, indeed, there is no precept but may conveniently be referred unto one or other of these heads, as they are usually explained. That which is commonly called the moral law, the Scripture terms, yrib;D]h tr,v,[} tyriB]h yreb]Di, <023428>Exodus 34:28, "The words of the covenant, the ten words," from whence is the Greek deka>logov, or the law of ten words or precepts; all which in their substance are moral, and universally obligatory to all the sons of men. That part of the law which the Scripture calls yfip;v]Mi, "judgments," <022101>Exodus 21:1, determining of rights between man and man, and of punishments upon transgressors, with especial reference unto the interest of the people in the land of Canaan, is by us usually termed the judicial law;and the institutions of ceremonial worship are most commonly expressed by the name of yqj, the whole system whereof is termed the law ceremonial.

Vol 17 p654
1. By the sanction of the law, we intend the promises and penalties wherewith by God the observation of it and obedience unto it was enforced. This the apostle hath respect unto in sundry places of this Epistle; the principal whereof are reported in the following dissertation. To represent this distinctly, we may observe that the law falls under a
655
threefold consideration; � first, As it was a repetition and expression of the law of nature, and the covenant of works established thereon; secondly, As it had a new end and design put upon the administration of it, to direct the church unto the use and benefit of the promise given of old to Adam, and renewed unto Abraham four hundred and thirty years before; thirdly, As it was the instrument of the rule and government of the church and people of Israel with respect unto the covenant made with them in and about the land of Canaan. And in this threefold respect it had a threefold sanction: �
2. First, As considered absolutely, it was attended with promises of life and threatenings of death, both eternal. The original promise of life upon obedience and the curse on its transgression were inseparably annexed unto it, yea, were essential parts of it, as it contained the covenant between God and man. See Genesis 2:17; Deuteronomy 27:26; Romans 6:23, 4:4, 10:5, 11:6; Leviticus 18:5; Ezekiel 20:11; Galatians 3:12, 13.
3. Now, in the administration of the law, the church was thus far brought under the obligation of these promises and threatenings of life and death eternal, so far interested in the one and made obnoxious unto the other, as that if they used not the law according to the new dispensation of it, wherein it was put into a subserviency unto the promise, as <480319>Galatians
3:19�24, they were left to stand or fall according to the absolute tenor of that first covenant and its ratification; which, by reason of the entrance of sin, proved fatally ruinous unto all that cleaved unto it, Romans 8:3, 9:31.
4. Secondly, The law had, in this administration of it, a new end and design put upon it, and that in three things: �
(1.) That it was made directive and instructive unto another end, and not merely perceptive, as at the beginning. The authoritative institutions that in it were superadded to the moral commands of the covenant of works, did all of them direct and teach the church to look for righteousness and salvation, the original ends of the first covenant, in another and by another
way; as the apostle at large disputes in this Epistle, and declares positively, Galatians 3., throughout.
656
(2.) In that it had a dispensation added unto the commands of obedience, and interpretation, kat j ejpei>keian, by condescension, given by God himself, as to the perfection of its observance and manner of its performance in reference unto this new end. It required not absolutely perfect obedience, but perfectness of heart, integrity, and uprightness, in them that obeyed. And unto the law thus considered the former promises and threatenings were annexed; for the neglect of this use of it left the transgressors obnoxious to the curse denounced in general against them that continued not in the whole law to do it.
(3.) It had merciful relief provided against sin, for the supportment and consolation of sinners, as we shall see in the consideration of their sacrifices.
5. Thirdly, It may be considered as it was the instrument of the rule and government of the people and church of Israel, according to the tenor of the covenant made with them about the land of Canaan, and their living unto God therein. And in this respect it had four things in it:�
(1.) That it represented unto the people the holiness of God, the effects whereof are implanted in the law according to its original constitution; whereupon in it they are often called to be holy, because the Lord and Lawgiver is holy.
(2.) That it gave a representation of his grace and condescension, pardoning sin in the covenant of mercy, inasmuch as he allowed a compensation by sacrifices for so many transgressions, which in their own nature were forfeitures of their interest in that land.
(3.) That it was a righteous rule of obedience unto that people as unto their especial covenant condition.
(4.) That it fully represented the severity of God against willful transgressors of his covenant, as now renewed in order to the promise, seeing every such transgression was attended, in their administration of rule, with death without mercy.
6. It is of the law under this third consideration, � though not absolutely as the instrument of the government of the people in Canaan, but as it had a representation in it of that administration of grace and mercy which was
657
contained in the promises, � whereof we treat. Concerning this, or the law in this sense, we may consider first the promises, then the threatenings of it. And the promises are of two sorts; � first, Such as God took immediately upon himself the accomplishment of; secondly, Such as others, by his institution and appointment, were to communicate the benefit of unto the obedient.
7. The first are of three sorts:� First, Of life temporal, as it was an instrument of their government; and eternal with God, as the promise or covenant of grace was exemplified or represented therein, Leviticus 18:5; Ezekiel 20:11; Romans 10:5; Galatians 3:12. Secondly, Of a spiritual Redeemer, Savior, Deliverer, really to effect what the ordinances of institution did represent, so to save them eternally, to be exhibited in the fullness of time, as we have at large already proved. Thirdly, There are given out with the law various promises of intervenient and mixed mercies, to be enjoyed in earthly things in this world, that had their immediate respect unto the mercy of the land of Canaan, representing
spiritual grace, annexed to the then present administration of the covenant of grace. Some of these concerned the collation of good things, others the preventing of or delivery from evil; both expressed in great variety.
8. Of the promises whose accomplishment depended, by the institution of God, on others, that is the principal, and comprehensive of the rest, which is expressed, Exodus 20:12, "Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land." This, says our apostle, is "the first commandment with promise," Ephesians 6:2. Not that the foregoing precepts have no promises annexed to the observation of them, nor merely because this hath a promise literally ex, pressed, but that it hath the special kind of promise, wherein parents, by God's institution, had power to prolong the lives of obedient children: "They shall prolong thy days," � that is, negatively, in not cutting off their life for
disobedience, which was then in the power of natural parents; and positively, by praying for their prosperity, blessing them in the name of God, and directing them into the ways and means of universal obedience, whereby their days might be multiplied; and on sundry Other accounts.

[Vol 18 Contains interesting examination of relation between land promises and sabbath. 'Sabbath not the 7th day of creation' and day unimportant.]

20 p 80
They had a promise of entering into the land. They believed it not; and, as our apostle says, they "could not enter in because of unbelief." The promise was to their nation, the posterity of Abraham; the accomplishment of it in their persons depended
on their faith. Here was their trial. They believed not, but provoked God; and so perished.
20 p 291
(4.) With the spiritual part of the promise made unto Abraham there was mixed, or annexed unto it, a promise of the inheritance of the land of Canaan, Genesis 12:3,7; and this, �  ....

(5.) The declaration of the promise of entering into Canaan, and the rest of God therein, became in an especial manner the preaching of the gospel unto them, namely, �
[1.] Because it was appointed to be the great visible pledge of the performance of the whole promise or covenant made with Abraham. The land itself and their possession of it was sacramental; for
[2.] It had in itself also a representation of that blessed spiritual rest which, in the accomplishment of the promise, was to be asserted.
[3.] Because by the land of Canaan, and the rest of God therein, not so much the place, country, or soil, was intended or considered, as the worship of God in his ordinances and institutions therein solemnly to be observed. And by these ordinances, or through faith in the use of them, they were led unto a participation of the benefits of the promise of the
gospel.
292
From what hath been spoken it appears how the gospel was preached unto the fathers in the wilderness, or how they were evangelized. It is not a typical gospel, as some speak, that the apostle intends, nor yet a mere institution of types; but the gospel of Jesus Christ, as it was in the substance of it proposed unto them in the promise; the entering into the land of Canaan being the especial instance wherein their faith was to be tried.

20 p 293
This sense the words, as was said, seem to require, "To us was the gospel preached, even as unto them;" that is,
wherein and when it was preached unto them, therein and then it was preached unto us also. But it may be said, that these Hebrews could not be concerned in the promise of entering into the land of Canaan, whereof they had been now possessed for so many generations. I answer, They could not do so, indeed, had no more been intended in that promise but merely
the possession of that land; but I have showed before that the covenant rest of God in Christ was in that promise.

320
The rest here intended is that whereof the land of Canaan was a type. But there were no types of heaven absolutely as a future state of glory. But both the land and all the institutions to be observed in it were types of Christ, with the rest and worship of believers in and by him. They were "shadows of things to come, the body whereof was Christ,"

666
2. It is also said to be eternal in comparison with and in opposition unto that or those temporal deliverances, or salvations, which the people under the law were made partakers of by the interposition of their legal priests and their sacrifices. For there were temporary punishments, and excisions by death, threatened unto divers transgressions of the law, as it was the
administration of a temporal covenant unto that people. From these they might be freed by the ministry of their priests and carnal atonements. But those who were delivered from those penalties, and saved from the sentence of the law, were not thereby absolutely secured of deliverance from the curse annexed unto the moral law as a covenant of works. Their
salvation, therefore, was not eternal And perhaps, also, respect may be had unto the deliverance of the people of old out of bondage, with their introduction into the land of Canaan, which was a temporary salvation only. But this is so absolutely; and,

Vol 22
(4.) Into this estate and condition God brought them by a solemn covenant, confirmed by mutual consent between him and them. The tenor, force, and solemn ratification of this covenant, are expressed, Exodus 24:3-8. Unto the terms and conditions of this covenant was the whole church obliged indispensably, on pain of extermination, until all was accomplished, Malachi 4:4-6. Unto this covenant belonged the decalogue, with all precepts of moral obedience thence educed. So also did the laws of political rule established among them, and the whole system of religious worship given unto them. All these laws were brought within the verge of this covenant, and were the matter of it. And it had especial promises and threatenings annexed unto it as such; whereof none did
exceed the bounds of the land of Canaan. For even many of the laws of it were such as obliged nowhere else. Such was the law of the sabbatical year, and all their sacrifices. There was sin and obedience in them or about them in the land of Canaan, none elsewhere. Hence, �
(5.) This covenant thus made, with these ends and promises, did never save nor condemn any man eternally. All that lived under the  administration of it did attain eternal life, or perished for ever, but not by virtue of this covenant as formally such. It did, indeed, revive the commanding power and sanction of the first covenant of works;

109
(2.) The old testament, absolutely considered, had,
[1.] No promise of grace, to communicate spiritual strength, or to assist us in obedience; nor,
[2.] Any of eternal life, no otherwise but as it was contained in the promise of the covenant of works, "The man that doeth these things shall live in them;" and,
[3.] Had promises of temporal things in the land of Canaan inseparable from it. In the new covenant all things are otherwise, as will be declared in the exposition of the ensuing verses.

119
1. The apostle in this place intends only those promises whereon the new testament was legally ratified, and reduced into the form of a covenant; which were, as he declares, the promises of especial pardoning mercy, and of the efficacy of grace in the renovation of our natures, But it is granted that the other covenant was legally established on promises which respected the land of Canaan. Wherefore it is granted, that as to the promises whereby the covenants were actually established, those of the new covenant were better than the other.

Heb 8.9 [useful]
"Not according to that covenant which I made with their fathers, in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord."

22.398  [On Heb 9.15 Nature of testament]
(2.) As unto the nature of it, it is declared in the adjunct mentioned; it is "eternal." And it is so called in opposition unto the inheritance which by virtue of the first testament God granted unto the Israelites in the land of Canaan. That was an inheritance, and was conveyed by a promise. And when God threatened to deprive them of that land, he said he would
"disinherit them," Numbers 14:12. [Moses successfully pleaded God's oath against this threat v 16] And this inheritance consisted not only in the land itself, but principally in the privileges of holy worship and relation unto God which they enjoyed therein, Romans 9:4, 5. But yet all things that belonged unto it were in themselves carnal and temporary, and only types of good things to come. In opposition hereunto God provided an "eternal inheritance."

2. The way whereby God did convey or would communicate this inheritance unto any, was by promise: "Might receive the promise of an eternal inheritance." The Syriac translation refers the inheritance unto the "called:" "Those that are called to an eternal inheritance." But in the original it respects the "promise:" "The promise of an eternal inheritance;'' for by the promise is assurance given of it, and it is the means of the actual conveyance of it unto us. And the apostle hath respect unto what he had discoursed about the promise of God, and the confirmation of it by his oath, Hebrews 6:15-18. So he declares it also, Galatians 3:18. The promise made unto Abraham, and confirmed by the oath of God, was concerning the eternal inheritance by Christ. The inheritance of Canaan was by the law, or the first covenant; but this was by promise.
400
And we may consider three things:
(1.) What is the promise intended.
(2.) How and why it was by promise.
(3.) How we do receive the promise of it.
(1.) The "promise" principally intended is that which was given unto Abraham, and confirmed by the oath of God: for the inheritance, that is, the eternal inheritance, was of the promise, Galatians 3:18, namely, that in the seed of Abraham all nations should be blessed. It includes, indeed, the first promise, made unto our first parents, which was the spring and
foundation of it, and respects all the following  promises concerning the Lord Christ and the benefits of his mediation, with all the grace which is administered by them, which were further declarations and confirmations of it; but that great solemn promise is principally intended: for the apostle designs to convince the Hebrews that neither by the law nor by the
sacrifices and ordinances of it they could come unto the inheritance promised unto Abraham and his seed. This was "the promise of eternal inheritance,'' whereof that of the land of Canaan was a type only.

And therefore doth God so often mind them of the freedom of it, � that it was an act of mere love and sovereign grace, which in themselves they were so far from deserving, as that they were altogether unworthy of it, Deuteronomy 9:4, 5, 7:7, 8. Much less hath the promise of the eternal inheritance respect unto any thing of works in ourselves.

Deut 8.18 But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he swear unto thy fathers, as it is this day.
Deut 9.4 Speak not thou in thine heart, after that the LORD thy God hath cast them out from before thee, saying, For my righteousness the LORD hath brought me in to possess this land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD doth drive them out from before thee.

23 p 78     Heb 11.8
Obs. IX. An inheritance is capable of a limited season. The title unto it may be continued unto a prefixed period. So was it with this inheritance; for although it is called an "everlasting inheritance," yet it was so only on two accounts:
(1.) That it was typical of that heavenly inheritance which is eternal.
(2.) Because, as unto right and title, it was to be continued unto the end of that limited perpetuity which God granted unto the church-state in that land; that is, unto the coming of the promised Seed, [Who has no interest in the land]

23 p 79
But when the grant of it to them expired, and those wicked tenants of God's vineyard forfeited their right unto it by their unbelief, and murdering of the true Heir, God disinherited them, dispossessed them, and left them neither right nor title to, nor any interest in this inheritance; as it is at this day. It is no more the inheritance of Abraham [or his Seed]; but in Christ he is become "heir of the world," and his spiritual posterity enjoy all the privileges of it.
Wherefore the grant of this land, for an inheritance unto Abraham in his posterity, had a season limited unto it. Upon the expiration of that term, their right and title unto it were cancelled and disannulled. And thereon God in his providence sent the armies of the Romans to dispossess them; which they did accordingly, unto this day.
Nor have the present Jews any more or better title unto the land of Canaan than unto any other country in the world. Nor shall their title be renewed there unto upon their conversion unto God.
For the limitation of their right was unto that time wherein it was typical of the heavenly inheritance: that now ceasing for ever, there can be no especial title unto it revived. And we see herein, �

23 p  82
He sojourned in this place "as in a strange land." He built no house in it, purchased no inheritance, but only a buryingplace.
23 p 83
And they were "heirs with him of the same promise;" for not only did they inherit the promise as made unto Abraham, but God distinctly renewed the same promise unto them both; � unto Isaac, Genesis 26:3,4; and unto Jacob, Genesis 28:13-15. So were they heirs with him of the very same promise. See Psalm 105:9-11.

23 p 107
This "promise," or the thing promised, some expositors (as Grotius and his follower) take to be the land of Canaan, which these patriarchs possessed not. But nothing can be more remote from the intention of the apostle; for whilst they received not these promises, the country which they looked after was [only] heavenly. And in the close of this discourse, he affirmeth of them who lived in Canaan in its greatest glory, and possessed it in quietness, as Samuel and David, that they received, not the promise, [And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise]. Wherefore this promise is no other but that of the actual exhibition of Christ in the flesh, [which has no respect to the land after his ascension]

23 p 121
Grotius and his follower would have the country intended to be the land of Canaan, and the city to be Jerusalem, � which yet in a mystical sense were typical of heaven, � for these were promised unto their posterity; than which nothing can be more remote from the mind of the Holy Ghost. For,
[1.] That which they looked for and earnestly desired, they did at last enjoy, or their faith was vain, and their hope such as made them ashamed; but they never personally possessed Canaan or Jerusalem.
[2.] This country is directly opposed unto that wherein they were pilgrims, which was the land of Canaan, and called "a better country" in opposition unto it; and so could not be the same.
[3.] The city which was prepared, was that whose only framer and builder was God; that is, heaven itself.
[4.] This country is said to be heavenly; which the land of Canaan and the city of Jerusalem are never said to be, but are opposed unto heaven, or that which is above.   122
....the whole of it being at this day one of the most contemptible provinces of the Turkish empire?

23 p 141
It remains, then, only to consider what was the seed so pro. raised, or what was the principal subject of these promises. Grotius with his follower, and the Socinian expositors, reduce these promises unto two heads:
[1.] That of a numerous posterity.
[2.] That this posterity should inhabit and enjoy the land of Canaan for an inheritance. But this is directly to contradict the apostle, who affirms, that when they had possessed the land of Canaan almost unto the utmost period of its grant unto them, they had not received the promises; that is, the accomplishment of them, verse 39.

I do not deny but that these things also were in the promises annexed unto that which was principal in them, as means and pledges of its accomplishment, as I have at large elsewhere demonstrated; but the principal subject-matter of the promise was no other but Christ himself, with the whole work of his mediation for the redemption and salvation of the church.

23 p 164 [Of Joseph's faith]
And if there had been nothing [in] that promise but the inheritance of the land of Canaan, as some imagine, he
would not have maintained his faith concerning it unto the death, and in his departure out of the world, enjoying far more in Egypt than what was contained the Romans But, �
[Inheritance of the land for his people]

23 p 196 [Of Moses]
Grotius is bold, in his usual manner, and refers it to the [mere] possession, of the land of Canaan. Hammond forsakes his guide, and extends it unto things eternal. Nor can there be any thing more improbable than the conjecture of Grotius; for neither did Moses ever enter into the land of Canaan, nor was the interest of his posterity therein to be any way compared with the treasures of Egypt.
[without the land inheritance - no seed, no blessing, no redemption - land valued primarily for this]

23 p 227 [Rahab's justification by faith proven by her work]
And all these things set a great luster upon this work, whereby she evidenced her faith and her justification thereby

23 p 235-6  [Nature of saving faith]
Wherefore "through faith" they subdued these kingdoms; in that they did it,
(1.) On God's command. It was the will and command of God that they should so subdue them.
(2.) In the accomplishment of his promises; for he had given them all those kingdoms by promise before they were subdued. A due respect unto this command and promise made what they did a fruit of faith.
(3.) The persons destroyed by them were devoted to destruction for their own sins; the people did only execute the righteous judgment of God upon them, so as what they did was for the good of the church. So it was on just causes.
(4.) This subduing of kingdoms was an act of faith, in that it was typical of the victory of Christ over the kingdom of the devil and all the powers of darkness, in the redemption of the church. Hence both Joshua and David were especial types of him. We may yet further observe, that although it was through faith that they subdued kingdoms, yet in the doing of it they made use of all heroical virtues, such as courage, valor, military skill, and the like. Never, doubtless, were there on the earth more valiant men than Joshua and David were, nor who underwent greater hardship and danger in war For these things are consistent, yea, mutually helpful unto one another. For as faith will excite all graces and virtues that are useful in and unto any work that men are called unto, as these were unto war and the subduing of kingdoms; so they are subservient unto faith in what it is called unto. Hence God took order in the law, that those who were fearful and faint-hearted should be discharged from engaging in this work of subduing kingdoms.

Back to Land Covenant
Home