The Marrow of Modern Divinity is a 17th Century work that teaches concerning God’s Eternal Plan to redeem a people to his name to the praise of His grace. The work is set as a discussion between a legalist and a libertine about the role of the law in the life of a believer. An Evangelist happens along who is able to put the law in it’s proper perspective, as it relates to the salvation of men. Chapter 2 of the book covers God’s Plan of Salvation, purposed within Himself in Eternity Past, revealed in various stages through Biblical history, beginning with Genesis 3:15, and finally completed in His Son – Jesus Christ. God’s Plan of Salvation of mankind is commonly referred to by theologians as the Covenant (or Plan) of Grace; or the Gospel. Chapter 2 of the Marrow covers the Gospel outlined as follows: Gospel 1) Purposed, 2) Promised, and 3) Provided.
The first section we cover is God’s purposing within Himself, in eternity past, to redeem fallen mankind. This purpose within the Godhead is called, by theologians, the Covenant (or Plan) of Redemption. From this, we learn that God has an eternal purpose and plan for the things He does. In other words, salvation is not a backup plan, but Plan A1 in the Mystery of Gods Eternal Council.
Counsel of Redemption
The chapter opens with Evangelist teaching the three men about God’s Eternal Counsel. He does so by way of a dialogue between the Justice, Mercy, and Wisdom of God.
“Justice stood up and said, that man had sinned, and therefore man must die… ‘If I be offended, I must be satisfied and have my right; and therefore I require, that man … satisfy the judgment of God.'”
“Mercy, on the other side, pleaded for favour, and appeals to the great court in heaven: …’O let favour and compassion be shown towards man, woefully seduced and overthrown by Satan!'”
The Wisdom of God is the judge ruling over the matter and devises a way to satisfy them both. In order for them both to be satisfied, two things must be effected:
- (1.) A satisfaction of God’s justice.
- (2.) A reparation of man’s nature.
But, man will be fallen and will not have the means to pay off so great a debt, nor will he be able, being dead in sin, to repair his own fallen nature. An intermediary is required, who could stand in the place of man to satisfy divine justice, and yet must also be one having the full creative power of God, in order that he might be able to sanctify and wholly restore the fallen nature of man.
Thomas Boston, in his footnotes upon this passage, says:
Therefore, in the contrivance of his salvation, it was necessary that provision should be made for the satisfaction of God’s justice, by payment of the double debt mentioned above; namely, the debt of punishment and the debt of perfect obedience. It was also necessary that provision should be made for the sanctification of the sinner, the repairing of the lost image of God in him. And man being as unable to sanctify himself, as to satisfy justice, [a truth which proud nature cannot digest], the Saviour behoved, not only to obey and suffer in his stead, but also to have a fullness of the Spirit of holiness in him to communicate to the sinner, that his nature might be repaired through sanctification of the Spirit. Thus was the groundwork of man’s salvation laid in the eternal counsel; …
Who could this mediator between man and God be, that he could both fulfill all the Holy demands of God’s Law, and also satisfy the Divine Justice of God?
“…this could be none other but Jesus Christ, one of the Three Persons of the blessed Trinity; therefore he, by his Father’s ordination, his own voluntary offering, and the Holy Spirit’s sanctification, was fitted for the business. Whereupon there was a special covenant, or mutual agreement made between God and Christ, as is expressed, (Isa 53:10), that if Christ would make himself a sacrifice for sin, then he should “see his seed, he should prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord should prosper by him.”
“Thus Christ assented, and from everlasting struck hands with God, to put upon him man’s person, and to take upon him his name, and to enter in his stead in obeying his Father, and to do all for man that he should require, and to yield in man’s flesh the price of the satisfaction of the just judgment of God, and, in the same flesh, to suffer the punishment that man had deserved; and this he undertook under the penalty that lay upon man to have undergone. And thus was justice satisfied, and mercy by the Lord Jesus Christ; and so God took Christ’s single bond; whence Christ is not only called the “surety of the covenant for us” (Heb 7:22)…
Law of Works Fulfilled
By Christ taking upon Himself our nature, and fulfilling all righteousness on our behalf, and by suffering and dying for our sins, he satisfies all the righteous requirements of the Law of Works for us. Christ enters into the Covenant that Adam rejected in order to free us from it’s curse (Rom 5:14, 1 Cor 15:47). In this plan, Christ becomes a surety (Heb 7:22 – i.e. like a co-signer for a loan), and so made himself liable to fully pay and fulfill the full obligations required upon all those for whom he represents.
And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. 4Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. (1 Cor 15:45-47)
Concerning this plan, Boston says this:
The Son of God consented to put himself in man’s stead, in obeying his Father, and so to do all for man that his Father should require, that satisfaction should be made: farther, he consented, in man’s nature, to satisfy and suffer the deserved punishment, that the same nature that sinned might satisfy; and yet farther, he undertook to bear the very same penalty that lay upon man, by virtue of the covenant of works, to have undergone; so making himself a proper surety for them…
Salvation by Works or Grace? – The Good News
In another footnote, Pastor Boston notes what I’ve stated before: that salvation is wholly of works. A perfect obedience to all the just requirements of righteousness are required in order for a man to stand before God. So what makes this good news? The good news is that because we’ve sinned against God and forfeited any claim we had through Adam on eternal life; Jesus Christ, the second Adam, came into the world to suffer and bear away our sin debt and to merit the inheritance on our behalf. For Christ, our salvation is wholly of works, but from our perspective, this gift is received freely and wholly based upon the grace of God alone!
In this way, God is both just and the justifier of sinners!
Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. (Rom 3:24-26)
Says Boston: How then is the second covenant a covenant of grace? In respect of Christ, it was most properly and strictly a covenant of works, in that he made a proper, real, and full satisfaction in behalf of the elect; but in respect of them, it is purely a covenant of richest grace, in as much as God accepted the satisfaction from a surety, which he might have demanded of them; provided the surety himself, and gives all to them freely for his sake.
For more on the Eternal Covenant (Plan) of Redemption, see Charles Spurgeon’s Sermon: The Blood of the Everlasting Covenant