一.上帝是人的创造者,人是有理性的受造物,所以,人本当顺服上帝。但是,上帝与受造者之间的不同如此巨大,所以,人绝不能享有祂,以此为自己的福分和赏赐,除非是上帝自愿俯就,这俯就乃是祂乐意用立约的方式显明的(赛40:13-17;伯9:32,33; 撒上2:25;诗100:2-3;113:5,6;伯22:2,3;35:7-8;路17:10;徒17 :24,25)。

The distance between God and the creature is so great, that although reasonable creatures do owe obedience unto Him as their Creator, yet they could never have any fruition of Him, as their blessedness and reward, but by some voluntary condescension on God’s part, which He hath been pleased to express by way of covenant.

二.上帝与人所设立的第一个圣约是行为之约(加3:12),以完全和个人的顺服为条件(创2:17;加3:10),将生命应许给亚当,以及在他里面的后裔(罗5:12-20;10:5)。

The first covenant made with man was a covenant of works, wherein life was promised to Adam, and in him to his posterity, upon condition of perfect and personal obedience.

三.因着堕落的缘故,人完全没有能力使自己靠那约得生命,主按祂自己的美意设立第二个圣约(加3:21;罗3:20-21;8:3;创3:15;赛42:6),通称为恩典之约。在此约中,上帝藉着耶稣基督白白地向罪人提出了生命和救恩的邀约,吩咐他们归信耶稣,从而得救(可16:15-16;约3:16;罗10:6,9; 加3:11),并应许将圣灵赐给一切预定得永生的人,使他们愿意并且能够相信(结36:26,27;约6:44-45)。

Man by his fall having made himself incapable of life by that covenant, the Lord was pleased to make a second, commonly called the covenant of grace: wherein He freely offered unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ, requiring of them faith in Him, that they may be saved, and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto life, His Holy Spirit, to make them willing and able to believe.

四.这恩典之约在圣经中常称为遗命,是指立遗命者耶稣基督的死,又指由遗命所留下的永远的产业及其所附属的一切(来9:15-17;7:22;路22:20;林前11:25)。

This covenant of grace is frequently set forth in the Scripture by the name of a testament, in reference to the death of Jesus Christ, the testator, and to the everlasting inheritance, with all things belonging to it, therein bequeathed.

五.此约在律法时代和福音时代(林后3:6-9)的施行各有不同:在律法时代,它藉应许、预言、献祭、割礼和逾越节的羔羊,以及其他交付犹太人的预表和外在方式而施行。它们都预表基督要来(来8-10;罗4:11;西2:11,12;林前5:7)。在那时代,藉着圣灵的运行,它们足以有效地使选民因相信所应许的弥赛亚而受训诲,得建立(林前10:1-4;来11:13;约8:56)。选民藉着弥赛亚而有完全的赦罪和永远的救恩。此约称为旧约(加3:7-9,14)。

This covenant was differently administered in the time of the law, and in the time of the gospel: under the law it was administered by promises, prophecies, sacrifices, circumcision, the paschal lamb, and other types and ordinances delivered to the people of the Jews, all fore-signifying Christ to come, which were for that time sufficient and efficacious, through the operation of the Spirit, to instruct and build up the elect in faith in the promised Messiah, by whom they had full remission of sins, and eternal salvation, and is called the Old Testament.

六.在福音时代,当所预表的实体――基督(西2:17)显现的时候,施行此约的外在方式乃是圣道的传扬、施洗与圣餐这两个圣礼(太28:19,20;林前11:23-25);这些外在方式虽然为数较少,并且施行起来比较质朴,少有外表的荣耀,但是在它们里面,此约对万民,连犹太人带外邦人(太 28:19;弗2:15-19),显明得更丰富,更清晰,有更大的属灵果效(来12:22-28;耶31:33-34)。此约称为新约(路22:20)。所以,并不是有两个实质不同的恩典之约,而是同一个恩典之约,只是在不同时代,施行的方式不同(加3:14,16;徒15:11;罗3:21-23,30;诗32:1;罗4:3,6,16,17,23,24;来13:8)。

Under the gospel, when Christ the substance was exhibited, the ordinances in which this covenant is dispensed, are the preaching of the Word, and the administration of the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper; which, though fewer in number, and administered with more simplicity and less outward glory, yet in them it is held forth in more fullness, evidence, and spiritual efficacy, to all nations, both Jews and Gentiles; and is called the New Testament. There are not, therefore, two covenants of grace differing in substance, but one and the same under various dispensations.