James Haldane (1768 – 1851) was converted later in life and entered the ministry as a Scottish Presbyterian. Upon further study, he and his brother (Robert) became baptists. Through their evangelistic efforts they planted many churches. Historian Nick Needham gives an overview of their lives here.
James was not shy about his baptist beliefs. In addition to writing “Reasons of a Change of Sentiment & Practice on the Subject of Baptism,” he wrote a commentary on Galatians (1848).
He also began writing a commentary on Hebrews, which was published posthumously from his manuscripts (1860). On Hebrews 8:6, Haldane explains
[T]he difference between [the New covenant] and the Sinai covenant is the grand object of the Epistle…
Jesus is here described as the mediator of a better covenant. We are taught that the first covenant was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator, Galatians 3:19, referring to Moses, who stood between God and the people Israel, went up to the mount with God, and received the instructions which he was pleased to deliver. But the Apostle is here speaking of the priesthood of Christ, and although Moses was the mediator of the Sinai covenant, yet when he was removed the high priest acted as mediator, for he presented the gifts and sacrifices which were enjoined, burned incense, and blessed them, and inquired of God upon any emergency which arose; but Jesus had obtained a more excellent ministry, being the mediator of a better covenant, established upon better promises.
The better promises of the new covenant are salvation from sin and eternal life. The promises of the Sinai covenant were all earthly, such as long life in the land of Canaan, plentiful harvests, victory over their enemies, and national prosperity. This may be ascertained by consulting Leviticus 26 :, Deuteronomy 28 :, and therefore that covenant was ratified with the blood of bulls and goats which can never take away sin, and only sanctifies to the purifying of the flesh. The new covenant, as has been already stated, is established upon better promises and was ratified with the blood of Christ, which cleanseth the children of the covenant from all sin. They shall all be presented faultless before the presence of God’s glory with exceeding joy.
On verse 8 he notes
The first covenant was made with Israel after the flesh, the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the new covenant is made with those that are Christ’s, who are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise. Galatians 3:29. God adopted Israel after the flesh to be his peculiar people, in virtue of their being the seed of Abraham, and consequently related to Christ; but it was a carnal relation; hence Israel were blessed with all carnal blessings in earthly places, namely, the land flowing with milk and honey. But the true Israel, in virtue of their spiritual relation to Christ, are blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 1:3.
And verse 10
And I will be to them a God…—By the Sinai covenant God proclaimed Himself the God of Israel, and required their obedience; but they broke the covenant, by making the golden calf; and although the tables were renewed, still they were rebellious, and brought upon themselves many severe judgments; and not only Song of Solomon , but their rejection was foretold “Ye are not my people, and I will not be your God,” Hosea 1:9; and again, “The Lord God shall slay thee, and call his servants by another name.” But, amidst all their rebellions, there was a remnant according to the election of grace; and “as the new wine is found in the cluster, and one saith, Destroy it not, for a blessing is in it; so the Lord did for his servants” sakes, that he might not destroy them all” Isaiah 65:8. But when they filled up the measure of their iniquities, by not only killing the Lord Jesus, but rejecting the evidence of His resurrection and ascension, in the outpouring of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, wrath came upon them to the uttermost. The Lord, according to His threatening, slew them, and called His servants by another name. Acts 11:26.
By the new covenant God is the God of His people, in a higher sense than He was to Israel after the flesh. The privileges which the children of both covenants enjoyed were in virtue of their relation to Christ. The one was a carnal relation; of them, according to the flesh, Christ came, and, in consequence, they were blessed with all carnal blessings in earthly places.
They were redeemed from Egyptian bondage; they were fed with manna, preserved in the wilderness, put in possession of a land flowing with milk and honey. Thus were they blessed with all carnal blessings in earthly places. The children of the new covenant are spiritually related to Christ, and are consequently blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places. Their redemption is spiritual; their citizenship is in heaven; their inheritance is incorruptible, undefiled, and fadeth not away.
On verse 11, Haldane notes that Deuteronomy 30:1-6 was a prophecy of the new covenant.
Part of this chapter is quoted by the Apostle, who describes it as the language of the righteousness which is of faith, in contrast with the righteousness which is of the law. Romans 10:5; Romans 10:9. It is here the Apostle uses greater plainness of speech than Moses, who taught with a vail upon his face; but still he tells us that in the words quoted from Moses there is the language of the righteousness of faith, obscurely communicated by the Jewish lawgiver, but clearly taught under a more glorious dispensation. The account of the new covenant is taken by our Apostle from Jeremiah; but the same truth had been more darkly intimated by Moses, before Israel entered Canaan.
James Haldane (1768 – 1851) was converted later in life and entered the ministry as a Scottish Presbyterian. Upon further study, he and his brother became baptists. Through their evangelistic efforts they planted many churches in the area. Historian Nick Needham gives an overview of their lives here.
James was not shy about his baptist beliefs. In addition to writing “Reasons of a Change of Sentiment & Practice on the Subject of Baptism,” he also wrote a commentary on Galatians titled “An Exposition of the Epistle to the Galatians, Showing That the Present Divisions Among Christians Originate in Blending the Ordinances of the Old and New Covenants” (1848).
(He also began writing a commentary on Hebrews, which was published posthumously from his manuscripts).
Haldane says that each of the Abrahamic promises “received a literal and a spiritual fulfillment.” For example, he notes that the promise
that God would be a God to him and to his seed after him… had its fulfilment in the riches and prosperity of Abraham, and in Israel after the flesh, being brought into covenant with God; whereby he became their God, and acknowledged them as his peculiar people. Its spiritual fulfilment was, God becoming God of the true Israel, – Abraham’s children by faith, – by a better covenant, established upon better promises.
One great means by which Satan has succeeded in corrupting the Gospel has been the blending of the literal and spiritual fulfilment of these promises, – thus confounding the old and new covenants. The former was a type of the latter, and to this the Apostle refers, in speaking of the revelation of the mystery ‘which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith’ (Rom 6:26). The mystery here spoken of is, the hidden meaning of God’s dealings with the posterity of Abraham, to which, in his epistles, Paul frequently refers.
Over at the Founders Ministries website, Sam Renihan has a very helpful summary of 17th century Particular Baptist Covenant Theology.
The Particular Baptists emerged from the English Puritan movement within England’s parishes and universities. Several of the first-generation Particular Baptists attended Cambridge and Oxford and began their ministerial careers as priests in the church of England. Lay ministers among the Particular Baptists studied and preached Reformed theology. To the Particular Baptists, a consistent application of Reformed theology yielded congregational and Baptist conclusions. This was the case in their covenant theology, which developed within the unity and diversity of the larger branches of the Reformed covenantal family tree…
Pastor Richard Barcellos joins the Regular Reformed Guys to talk about his upcoming, as yet unnamed book about the Covenant of Works, the Garden of Eden and a number of other questions in relation to the New Covenant Theology.
This is one of those meaty episodes. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
The guys are hanging out on the back porch of the church discussing 1689 Federalism while the youth play kick ball in the background. If 1689 federalism is essentially old-school baptist covenant theology, how is it different from other forms of baptist covenant theology and how does it differ from paedobaptist covenant theology? This is just a simple introduction, and Joe and Jimmy want to encourage you to check out the resources listed below to go deeper. Plus, screaming kids who can’t run or lose.
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1689 Federalism (website)
Recovering a Covenantal Heritage: Essays in Baptist Covenant Theology
The Distinctiveness of Baptist Covenant Theology by Pascal Denault
Covenant Theology: From Adam to Christ by Nehemiah Cox and John Owen
The Covenant of Works: Its Confessional and Scriptural Basis by Richard Barcellos
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Former Presbyterian pastor Robert Truelove gave an overview of 1689 Federalism compared to Westminster Federalism on Facebook Live (26:48).
(You can also listen to an older podcast episode of the Confessing Baptist where Truelove discusses Taking a Church from Paedobaptism to Credobaptism.
On 22, May 2017 | In Resources | By admin
Similar to the interactive/collapsible outline of Owen’s commentary on Hebrews 8, we now have an interactive outline of Coxe’s “A Discourse of the Covenants that God made with men before the Law”
An Evernote version of the outline is available as well.
In 2014, Stan Reeves did a bible study series at Grace Heritage Church on Baptist Covenant Theology. The material can be found at http://graceheritage.org/resources/bct/. Files include audio, video, PPT, and PDF.
Note: Reeves argues that the dichotomous nature of the Abrahamic Covenant refers to the fact that, according to Gal 4:21-31, Gen 15 and Gen 17 are two different covenants, one unconditional, the other conditional. This is not quite accurate. A better way to understand the duality of the Abrahamic Covenant is to see that God made two promises to Abraham: that he would have numerous offspring possess the land of Canaan, and that he would be the father of the Messiah. From these two promises flow two covenants (Old and New). Or, alternatively, Coxe argued that the promise made to Abraham about the Messiah was the Covenant of Grace and was merely revealed within the Abrahamic Covenant of Circumcision, which was about the numerous physical seed and land of Canaan (which he argues developed into the Mosaic Covenant). But Coxe did not explain the duality in terms of Gen 15 & 17 (note that 15 is all about the physical seed’s journey to Egypt and then into Canaan).
Note: In his lecture on New Covenant Theology, Reeves argues that the New Testament church is a continuation of the Old Testament people of God. He compares it to a caterpillar growing into a butterfly. This is a carry-over from the 20th century Reformed Baptist covenant view and is not in line with 1689 Federalism, which sees Israel according to the flesh as a type of Israel according to the Spirit.
These resources are collected from our Bible study series on confessional Baptist covenant theology. This is a study of the way the Bible unfolds the structure of God’s redemptive plan for His people.
Covenant theology claims that God has unfolded his redemptive plan through a covenant structure with an overall gracious purpose for his people expressed in the covenant of grace.
Baptist covenant theology claims that this structure is not only consistent with an understanding of the church as a regenerate community but that it supports that understanding.
Confessional Baptist covenant theology puts us on notice that we are not doing theology apart from listening to our elders in the faith. These truths are not new; they find clear expression in the Second London Baptist Confession of 1689.
The perspective taught here is sometimes referred to as 1689 Federalism.
Introduction Audio Video Overheads no handout The Covenant of Works Audio Video Overheads Handout The Abrahamic Covenant Audio Video Overheads Handout The Mosaic Covenant Audio Video Overheads Handout The New Covenant Audio Video Overheads Handout The Nature of the Church* Audio Video Overheads Handout Responding to Dispensationalism Audio Video Overheads Handout Responding to New Covenant Theology Audio Video Overheads Handout *Special session on subjects of baptism Audio talk was cut off at 1:18:40 — actual talk was much longer
This helpful overview of 1689 Federalism was directed towards a church going through reformation and new to the idea of covenant theology.
see also Biblical Law-Commands Overview