Balfour on the Sinai Covenant

In reading some of AW Pink’s The Divine Covenants tonight, I found the following note under Section III of Part 5: The Sinaitic Covenant.

For much in the early paragraphs of this chapter we are indebted to an able discussion of the character of the Sinaitic covenant by Robert Balfour, which appeared in the British and Foreign Evangelical Review of July 1877.

After much searching, I was able to find this particular journal article, linked below, at The article begins on journal page 511, which is roughly page 521 of the scan. Give it a read to find out what brother Pink found so remarkable.

Balfour, Rev. R. G. (1877). The Sinai Covenant. The British and Foreign Evangelical Review, XXVI, 511-526.

9 thoughts on “Balfour on the Sinai Covenant

  1. Thank you for bringing this article to my attention! Here is the full citation followed by some information on the works cited by Balfour in this article.

    Robert G. Balfour, “Art. VI.-The Sinai Covenant.” The British and Foreign Evangelical Review, Vol. XXVI (London: James Nisbet & Co., Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd, 1877), No. CI. (JUL 1877), pp. 511-527; on Internet Archive at [accessed 25 MAR 2014].

    The works cited in Balfour’s article include the following:

    1. E. F. (Edward Fisher, fl. 1627-1655), The Marrow of Modern Divinity (two parts; London: 1645, 1649; republished 1718); cited on pp. 512-513.

    Thomas Boston (17 MAR 1676 – 20 MAY 1732) first encounters The Marrow of Modern Divinity at Simprin in 1700.

    As a result of a conversation at the General Assembly of 1717 he arranged to have it reprinted in 1718 with a preface by James Hog of Carnock (1658?-1734).

    The Marrow Controversy (1718-1726)
    The 12 “Marrow Men” include Boston, Hog, and Ralph and Ebenezer Erskine.

    2. Boston’s notes on The Marrow of Modern Divinity; cited on pp. 513-514.
    New ed. (1726); on Google Books at

    3. Fairbairn, “The Typology”, and “The Revelation of Law in Scripture”, Vol. XXVI.-No. C.; cited on pp. 514-515.

    4. Witsius on The Covenants, Bk. iv., Ch. iv, sect. 43-55; cited on pg. 516.

    5. C. H. M. (“Plymouthist”), Notes on the Book of Exodus, Ch. XX; cited on pg. 517.

    6. Dr. John Erskine of Edinburgh (b. Dunfermline at Carnock, 2 JUN 1721 – 19 JAN 1803, Edinburgh), “Theological Dissertations”, pp. 38, 39, 51; cited on pp. 518-519.
    “Theological dissertations; containing, I. The nature of the Sinai Covenant. II. The character and privileges of the Apostolic Churches, with an examination of Dr. Taylor’s key to the Epistles. III. The nature of saving faith. IV. The law of nature sufficiently promulgated to the heathens. V. An attempt to promote the frequent dispensing the Lord’s Supper. 1765”

    Question: Is this John Erskine related to the “Marrow Men”, Ralph and Ebenezer Erskine, who allied themselves with Thomas Boston?
    No. John Erskine’s “…father was the great Scottish jurist John Erskine of Carnock, and his grandfather was Colonel John Erskine of Cardross who had been in William of Orange’s army when it invaded England in the Glorious Revolution in 1688.” Source: Wikipedia article.

    On Ralph and Ebenezer Erskine, two of the “Marrow Men”:

    Grandfather of Ralph and Ebenezer Erskine: Ralph Erskine of Shielfield.
    Father of Ralph and Ebenezer Erskine: Henry Erskine (b. Dryburgh, Mertoun, Berwickshire; d. 1696, age 72).
    Note: Thomas Boston of Ettrick heard him preach while a boy at Whitsome, near Berwick.

    The two sons of Henry Erskine from his second marriage to Margaret Halcro:
    Ralph (18 MAR 1685 – 6 NOV 1752)
    Ebenezer (22 JUN 1680 – 2 JUN1754),

    “Faith, without trouble or fighting, is a suspicious faith; for true faith is a fighting, wrestling faith.” – Ralph Erskine, 1733

    “A rigid matter was the law,
    demanding brick, denying straw,
    But when with gospel tongue it sings,
    it bids me fly and gives me wings”
    – Ralph Erskine

    Source: The Village Church at

    • Wow! Thanks Pastor Jeffery. This is very thorough. I will update the post later with the references you listed above. I’m looking forward to reading this article in earnest (and the one you linked in your comments).

  2. Thanks for finding this! And thank you John for the bit about John Erskine.

    Abraham Booth, baptist, wrote The Kingdom of Christ in 1807 contrasting the New Covenant with the Old. He footnotes John Erskine on “external obedience”

    Now, as the immunities, grants, and honours, bestowed by the King Messiah, are all of a spiritual nature, his faithful subjects have no reason to wonder, or to be discouraged, at any persecutions, afflictions, or poverty which may befal them. Were his empire “of this world” then indeed it might be expected, from the goodness of his heart and the power of his arm, that those who are submissive to his au thority, zealous for his honour, and eon- formed to his image, would commonly find themselves easy and prosperous in their temporal circumstances. Yes, were his dominion of a secular kind, it might be supposed that an habitually conscien tious regard to his laws would secure from the oppression of ungodly men, and from the distresses of temporal want. Thus it was with Israel under their Theocracy. When the rulers and the people in general were punctual in observing Jehovah’s ap pointments, the stipulations of the Sinai Covenant secured them from being op pressed by their enemies, and from any re markable affliction by the immediate hand of God. Performing the conditions of their National Confederation, they were, as a people, warranted to expect every species of temporal prosperity. Health and long life, riches, honours, and vic tory over their enemies, were prom ised by Jehovah to their external obedience. (Ex 25:25,26; 28:25-28; Lev 26:3-14; Deut 7:12-24; 8:7-9; 11:13-17; 28:3-13) The punishments also, that were denounced against flagrant breaches of the Covenant made at Horeb, were of a temporal kind.*

    In this respect, however, as well as in other tilings, there is a vast difference between the Jewish and the Christian Economy. This disparity was plainly in timated, if I mistake not, by the opposite modes of divine proceeding, in establishing Jehovah’s kingdom among the Jews, and in founding the empire of Jesus Christ.

    *Lev. xxvi. 14—39. Deut. iv. 25, 26, 27* xi. 9.7. xxviii. 15— 68. xxix. 22— 28, See Dr. Erskine’s Theological Dissert. p. 22– 29. External obedience. — Punishments of a temporal kind. These and similar expressions in this essay are to be underwood, as referring to the Sinai Covenant strictly considered, and to Jehovah’s requisitions as the king of Israel. They are quite consistent, therefore, with its being the duly of Abraham’s natural seed to perform internal obedience to that sublime Sovereign, considered as the God of the whole earth; and with everlasting punishment being inflicted by him, as the righteous desert of sin.

    Here is Erskine’s work:

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