the Covenant of workes, a man is left to himselfe, to stand by his own
strength; But in the Covenant of Grace, God undertakes for us, to keep
us through faith"
was necessary to reconcile the contradiction between their doctrine of
the elect, assurance of God's grace as His chosen people, and Old Testament
evidence that God allowed his chosen people to suffer (see Job).
The covenant, sealed in the sacrament of baptism, implied, "a league between
God and man" (Miller, Seventeenth,
pg. 502). The Covenant of Grace promised Abraham and
his descendants salvation and assurance for their own sake, regardless
of the sins they committed. God saw humanity as imperfect, yet he loved
them anyway, as evidenced in the Covenant of Grace.
will not only tell thee what I am able to do, I will not only express to
thee in general, that I will deal well with thee, that I have a willingness
and ability to recompense thee, if thou walk before me, and serve me, and
be perfect; but I am willing to enter into Covenant with thee, that is,
I will bind myself, I will engage myself, I will enter into bond, as it
were, I will not be at liberty any more, but I am willing even to make
a Covenant, a compact and agreement with thee"
New England Puritan theological tradition was “an Augustinian strain of
piety" (Miller, Seventeenth,
pg. 8). It called God the reason of all things,
and the possibility of harmonic union of God and man it called Eden.
Disharmony was sin. Awareness of the possibility of Eden was divine
grace and the struggle to live in the light of that awareness was called
faith. Failure to live in that light destined the sinner for damnation
pg. 8). The covenant reflected their piety.
logic of the covenant had been clear, whether applied to individuals or
to nations; one enters into the bond, he sins, and is afflicted, according
to explicit terms; he confesses his sin, the affliction is removed, he
is restored to the covenant"
only recourse to affliction was prayer and repentance, to be expressed
through confession of the sins that brought the misfortune. It was
the duty of the civil authorities to pursue and punish those who refused
to confess and repent
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