5. Jesus Christ, the head of the covenant, is their head with their own consent. With heart and goodwill they have taken Him for their head for all the purposes of the covenant; and they stand to it, not to alter, if the choice were to be made a thousand times. Those for whom the Father from eternity chose Christ for a head, by faith approve the choice in the day of their conversion, making it over again personally for themselves, whence they are said to appoint themselves one head (Hos 1:11). And as often as they repeat their acts of faith, which they must live by, they repeat their choice. Being sensible of what they suffered by the sin of Adam their first head, Christ is precious to them as a second Adam. They come into the covenant, and abide in it, under His wings alone, expecting no benefit by it but through Him. They have taken Him as their head for government, as well as their head for nourishment and support. They have delivered up themselves unto Him to be ruled by Him as well as to be saved by Him, to be governed by His laws and not by their own lusts, to be saved by His grace and not by their own works.
6. The condition of the covenant fulfilled by Jesus Christ is the only ground of their confidence before the Lord, as to acceptance with Him or any benefit of the covenant they look to partake of. A crucified Saviour is the foundation laid in Zion for sinners to build on, and believing on Him is the soul’s building upon it (1 Pet 2:6). If men build on another foundation, they build on the sand, and their confidence shall be rooted out. If, being driven off from all other foundations, they do not build on this, they must needs perish as the chaff which the wind driveth away. To believe – or build on the righteousness fulfilled by Christ – can imply no less than one’s trusting on it for his salvation. Whether this trust be strong or weak, there must be trust: else there is no faith, no building on Christ, but the soul is kept in a state of wavering, in opposition to the staying of it by faith on Christ (Jas 1:6). Now he that is within the covenant takes Christ’s righteousness as his only ground of confidence before the Lord, for the covenant does not allow any other: nothing save Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor 2:2). He hath some measure of confidence for life and salvation upon that ground, whereby he is distinguished from the desperate, faithless and unbelieving. And what confidence he hath for life and salvation, he hath upon that ground alone, whereby he is distinguished from the presumptuous, formalists and hypocrites. And both these things are joined in the believer’s character: they “rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh” (Phil 3:3).
7. The promises of the covenant are a satisfying portion to their hearts. They are indeed sensible they have many wants, but then they see as much in the covenant as would supply them all, so that they need not go to another door for supply. They are persuaded there is as much water in that well as would quench all their thirst, if they could but get the art of drawing it. Thus the covenant is all their salvation, and all their desire (2 Sam 23:5). This discovery of the covenant is not owing to nature, but to that grace which shows so much worth in the one pearl as makes a man content to sell all he hath to gain it (Matt 13:46).
But no man will come into the covenant until it be presented to him, for who will join himself to another in a marriage-covenant or in a contract of service, with whom he cannot see how to live? Faith discerns in the covenant not only a refuge, but a portion (Ps 142:5), else the man would never come into it. And none who have made this discovery will remain out of the covenant; “they that know Thy name, will put their trust in Thee” (Ps 9:10; see also John 4:10). If the worth of the treasure hid in the field of the gospel be perceived, all will go for obtaining it (Matt 12:44,45); all will be counted loss and dung for the excellency of it (Phil 3:8). Certainly the men of the world do not see this in the covenant; it is but an empty, hungry thing in their blinded eyes. In the gospel, the covenant is held out to them in the breadth and length thereof, but it does not take with them; it is far from being all their desire. After all, as if they had seen nothing that could satisfy, they still cry, “Who will show us any good?” (Ps 4:6). The truth is, the heart of man can never see enough in the covenant to rest satisfied with it. Till grace give it a new set, and contract its endless desires for that which the unrenewed heart is most set upon, there is no provision in the covenant for it, but against it.
1. Continued from last month, a further extract from Boston’s book, A View of the Covenant of Grace, which is available from the Free Presbyterian Bookroom at the special price of £5.55.