Sunday, October 3, 2010

De Testamento

Bullinger wrote a treatise on the covenant in 1534. He gave this work the title “The one and eternal testament or covenant of God” (De testamento seu foedere dei unico & aeterno).

The following is a helpful synopsis of the content of this treatise taken from a blog ”The Heinrich Bullinger Page” (

I. Introduction
1. Definition of the terms
i. Testamentum
ii. Foedus
The parts of a human covenant.
2. God in condescension to man has expressed himself by way of and in the form of earthly covenants.
3. The Covenant is expressed in Genesis 17:1-14, and includes the following elements:
i. Who is bound: God and the Descendants of Abraham.
ii. The Conditions and Terms of the Covenant.
iii. The Duration of the Covenant: It is One and Everlasting.
iv. The Confirmatory Seal of the Covenant
v. The Records of the Covenant
II. The Parties
i. God. Our religion is founded upon God’s gracious entrance into this Covenant.
ii. The Descendants of Abraham.
1. The “Children of Abraham” are not the physical descendants, but the faithful.
2. However, children of the faithful are most certainly included in the covenant; no child, however, can claim a right to the blessings of the covenant purely by physical descent.
3. Contra the Anabaptists, the first mention of the “Spiritual People of God” is not in the NT. Compare Jer. 4 and Romans 2; or the prophets with John 8 or Gal. And Rom.
4. Thus, NT statements about the seed being the faithful is not said in exclusion of infants, rather it is said in exclusion of hypocrites and those who trusted in physical descent and outward ceremony.
III. The Conditions
i. The Promises of God
1. Summarized in his name: El Shaddai (The All-sufficient God)
2. The Promise is chiefly spiritual, consisting in the grant of himself.
i. It was often presented under the form of earthly goods.
ii. Nevertheless, behind these earthly goods the faithful sought the true substance.
2. The Conditions for Man
i. “You will keep my covenant, you and your descendants in their generations. Walk before me and be upright.”
ii. The summation of the requirements for men are:
1. Faith
2. Love toward God and neighbor
3. Excursus: Thus, these conditions and terms of the covenant contain the substance of all things found in scripture; and thus is it said that the covenant is the scope of scripture.
i. The Moral law (or Decalogue) is but an expansion of the Covenant terms.
ii. The Judicial laws express certain principles of walking uprightly in the covenant as pertains to human dealings; Abraham lived according to these principles; Moses delivered them to the people; and societies today ought to live in accord with them. The magistrate is a vital minister of God.
iii. The prophets show us the terms of the covenant in action.
iv. Christ, as recorded in the gospels:
1. By the very fact of his incarnation, death and resurrection confirms the promises and sufficiency of God.
2. He also prescribes the conditions for men, both:
i. By his actions;
ii. By his teaching.
3. The apostles also teach who are the heirs of Abraham, etc.
IV. The Unity or Duration of the Covenant: It is One and Everlasting
i. Throughout the Old and New Testaments, scripture refers us back constantly to Abraham as the paradigm of our salvation.
ii.The accidents of the Covenant have differed in time, and in this respect we may refer to the Old and the New.
iii.The reason for the Law at Sinai
1.The requirements expanded into a list by the finger of God in the form of the 10 Commandments.
2.The ceremonies afterwards added to keep men from idolatry and to show forth Christ.
iv.The benefits of the present Church-state.
v.Several Objections dealt with:
1.Matthew 5
2.2 Cor.
3.Accusation of the Ebionite Heresy
4.Deut. 5
5.That the Old Covenant was based upon promises of earthly glory and the Land of Canaan; whereas the New Covenant says we shall suffer.
V.The Seal of the Covenant
1. Circumcision was instituted to consecrate his Covenant.
i. He who despises the sign despises also the Covenant.
ii.But he who does not contemn the ordinance, but rather is prevented should not thus be thought cast off from God’s people.
2. With the confirmation of the Covenant by Christ’s death, the confirmatory sign also changes.
i. Baptism
ii. The Eucharist
VI The Records of the Covenant
1. They were published continually over time in the books of the Old and New Testament.
2. As with earthly testaments, any disputes or questions over the inheritance and conditions is to be resolved in these documents.
VII. Epilogue: The Antiquity of this Reformed Faith
1. The worship bound to this Covenant far precedes heathen religions, and those of the Muslims and Papists.
2. Continuing in the terms of the Covenant, God will continue to establish the true religion.

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