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The Dogma is the Drama: Witsius on the Covenant of Grace

7 February, 2008

b and lilyWhat an amazing story the Bible tells–what an amazing history. I love how powerful the following excerpt from Herman Witsius is; to really get the drama of what he’s saying (what the Bible’s saying!), read this to yourself out loud and really picture the words…

ACT 2: The curtain rises over the barren waste of the broken creation covenant

(The sky is darkening, shadows deepening. A lone voice sings a lament in the distance.)

(The narrator speaks:)

When the covenant of works was thus broken by the sin of man, and abrogated by the just judgment of God, wretched man was cast headlong into the deepest gulf of ruin, whence there could be no escape.

For listening to the solicitation of the devil, and giving way to his own reasonings, he, in a most violent manner, withdrew himself from God, that he might be at his own disposal; and (like the prodigal son, Luke 15:12) throwing off his rightful subordination to God, sold and enslaved himself to the devil. All which were acts of the highest injustice: for man had no right thus to dispose of himself; nor the devil to accept of what was God’s.

Yet God considering that by this rash and unjust action man was justly punished, did, by his righteous judgment, ratify all this for further punishment, gave him up to himself, as the most wretched and foolish of masters; and to sin, as a cruel tyrant, which would continually force him to every abominable practice.

(The darkest hour–silence.)

Moreover, when man was no longer in covenant with God, he then became ‘without God and without hope in the world’ (Eph 2:12). For it was impossible for him to devise any method, becoming God, whereby, consistently with divine truth, justice and holiness, he could be reconciled with God, and return again to his favour. The law of sin was also just, by which man was enslaved to sin, to the dominion and condemnation of it, and given up to the devil as his tormentor.

Nor could man contrive any way, whereby sin, which condemned, by the most equitable law, could itself be justly condemned by God.

(Dawn breaks, as clear as it is unexpected. The sound of strings.)

But it pleased God, according to the riches of his unsearchable wisdom, to lay this breach of the legal covenant as a foundation for his stupendous works; for he took occasion to set up a new covenant of grace; in which he might much more clearly display the inestimable treasures of his all-sufficiency, than if every thing had gone well with man according to the first covenant: and thus he discovered what seemed to surpass all belief and comprehension, that God, who is true, just and holy, could, without any diminution to, nay rather with a much more illustrious display of, his adorable perfections, become the God and Salvation of the sinner: for he found out that admirable way to reconcile the strictest vindictive justice with the most condescending mercy. So that the one should be no obstruction to the other.

For so illustrious an exercise of these perfections, there could have been no place under the covenant of works.

(Music swells; a bright sun rises.)

If therefore any thing ought to be accounted worthy of our most attentive consideration, certainly it is the covenant of grace.

Here the way is pointed out to a Paradise far preferable to the earthly, and to a more certain and stable felicity, than that from which Adam fell. Here a new hope shines upon ruined mortals, which ought to be the more acceptable, the more unexpected it comes. Here conditions are offered to which eternal salvation is annexed; conditions, not to be performed again by us, which might throw the mind into despondency; but by him who would not part with this life before he had truly said, It is finished. Here with the brightest splendour, shine forth the wonderful perfections of our God, his wisdom, power, truth, justice, holiness, goodness, philanthropy, or good-will to man, mercy, and what tongue can rehearse them all? Never before displayed on a more august theatre, to the admiration of all who behold them.

(Denouement.)

Whoever therefore loves his own salvation, whoever longs to delight himself in the contemplation of the divine perfections, he must come hither, and deeply engage in holy meditations on the covenant of grace.

(The curtain falls, the music fades–but the light remains as bright as noonday.)

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3 Comments
  1. Eric permalink
    7 February, 2008 2:52 pm

    I just think that this is so mindbendingly awesome. We will never exhaust the mystery of God’s justifying love, even in heaven!

  2. creedorchaos permalink*
    7 February, 2008 3:15 pm

    Eric~

    Amen. It makes me think of the wonderful choruses the saints sing in Revelation. Now THIS gospel from THIS Father, Son and Holy Spirit are worth singing the praises of forever!

    ~B

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