The Everlasting Covenant; Common Humiliation; the 1848 Revolution in France

Hebrews 6:1; Hebrews 13:20  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 10
I have very happy news in general from the south of France, but nothing since the Revolution save that they were quiet. I should feel cordially disposed to join in any humiliation with brethren, and feel it very desirable. I think Wigram dreaded a little the appearance of a distinct formal body. If this meant not owning all saints as one, I should indeed object to it as ruinous and sectarian; but that brethren so called, as such, should publicly (as far as that is used in a christian sense) take the place of humiliation, I should feel most desirable; I wait only the Lord's time for its accomplishment. I quite take this ground myself before God, and before all those who walk wrong, other Christians and all. I trust God is working, in His grace, very fruitfully in the hearts of His saints: may He keep us humble, and near Him, so that we may not yet more need humiliation.
I apprehend as to the passages, that Heb. 6,, they were called to learn, that is, go on from what had been learned in a puerile way of truth and Christ, and go on to what the Holy Ghost had brought out of the powers of the world to come. If they had left this latter, it was no good to go back to lay the old foundation again: if they had it, they ought to go on to something else, so that it was no good his speaking of the old part. All short of the Holy Ghost's revelation of a glorious Christ would connect itself with the beginning of Christ, I apprehend. Paul was bringing Hebrews out, just before the destruction of Jerusalem, of what linked them with what was ready to vanish away—outside the camp—into that which he had founded as the church in connection with Christ glorified: only this, for this reason, somewhat transitional, the church is not itself developed, only the power of the new thing.
Covenant is an obligation to another which does not enter into the idea of being my own body, or my own child; but then those who form this body, or are these children, are subjects of what in substance was a covenant, though I do not know that it is called so, for the word covenant is rather what God has condescended to assure man's heart by; but when Christ says, "Lo, I come to do thy will," He undertakes something, and the Father having given Him power over all flesh to give eternal life to those whom He has given to Him, He accomplishes all, so as to present them according to the thoughts of the Father's love perfect to Him. All this ordering of wondrous divine counsels, Christ having undertaken all needed, and obtained by redemption, and given, as the Father has sent, the Holy Ghost to accomplish the rest in us, being, so to speak, undertaken by parties, if one may reverently so speak, has been called a covenant; and I apprehend the apostle speaks so alludingly when he says, "through the blood of the everlasting covenant." But in general, save as an allusion, covenant is an inferior idea to this taking up their own place in this glorious counsel of God by the Persons in the Trinity. I doubt that scripture would speak of their covenanting among themselves, as if they had had to bind or assure one another. It is called for us an everlasting covenant, but this, though it embraces all this really, is rather the idea of God assuring man by its being an immutable, unchanging thing, secured to man by Christ's blood: not the Persons binding themselves among themselves. However, this is a matter of words, and those who use the expression; though they lower the notions of divine things. It is well to be true to these, because one is here to God's glory, and no stumbling-block is put in the way of others; but those who use these ways of speaking are so in purpose of heart, and substantively; so that one may be at ease with them.
I should not answer very dogmatically as to Gen. 4:77If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. (Genesis 4:7). Those who take the sense of sin-offering argue on that on account of which you argue against it, the word being applied to the lying down of an animal, the victim is there before you at your door. "If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?—and unto thee shall be his (Abel's) desire, and thou shalt rule over him." Then there is the parenthesis, "If thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door." Now I do not doubt that this speaks of the culpability of Cain; the only question is, if it does not present this culpability, as God has presented it to us, that is in Christ as the sin-offering. Other translations take the whole thing in another sense; I apprehend that the primary sense is, sin is there before you; you meet it in going forth; it lies at your door. He could not escape finding it attached to him: Duly God has laid it before us in the sin-offering in Christ. I do not doubt the English is right, and in general the other translations wrong. I believe these were all the passages you asked me about, so I close, dear Affectionately yours.
[January 14th, 1852.]