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.
Pascal Denault’s careful labors over the theological texts of both Baptist and Pedobaptists of the seventeenth century have yielded an excellent study of the relation of baptism to a commonly shared covenantalism. At the same time he has shown that a distinct baptistic interpretation of the substance of the New Covenant, that is, all its conditions having been met in the work of Christ its Mediator resulting in an unconditional application of it to its recipients, formed the most basic difference between the two groups. His careful work on the seventeenth-century documents has yielded a strong, Bible-centered, covenantal defense of believers’ baptism and is worthy of a dominant place in the contemporary discussions of both covenantalism and baptism.
-Thomas J. Nettles, Ph.D.
A reprint of two seventeenth century theologians, Nehemiah Coxe (Adam-Abraham) and John Owen (Mosaic-New).
Coxe says “That notion (which is often supposed in this discourse) that the old covenant and the new differ in substance and not only in the manner of their administration, certainly requires a larger and more particular handling… I designed to give a further account of it… But I found my labor for the clearing and asserting of that point happily prevented by the coming out of Dr. Owen’s third volume on Hebrews.”
Owen said “No man was ever saved but by virtue of the new covenant, and the mediation of Christ in that respect.”
Introduction, James M. Renihan, Ph.D.
1. A Brief Overview of Seventeenth-Century Reformed Orthodox Federalism, Richard C. Barcellos, Ph.D.
2. Covenant Theology in the First and Second London Confessions of Faith, James M. Renihan, Ph.D….Order Paperback Order on Kindle
This is a good book, but it is not recommended as the best primer for understanding 1689 Federalism.
Please see the Recommended Reading List.
1689 Federalism Note: Van Dorn adopts the 1689 Federalism model in that he rejects the “one covenant under multiple administrations” model and also views the Abrahamic, Mosaic, and Davidic covenants as works-based. He cites Coxe, Collins, Denault, and Sam and Micah Renihan, among others. But the work is very much his own expression of the biblical data.
He makes a provocative and compelling argument for adding a Levitical Covenant to the traditional understanding of covenant theology.
His belief that “two different people can actually approach the same covenant in two different ways and theoretically both could obtain the blessing” is his own and not necessarily reflective of other 1689 Federalism works. Likewise his comment that false professors are related externally to the new covenant similarly to “unbelieving Israel in the OT” is not reflective of 1689 Federalism. The book is a primer and paints with broad biblical-theology strokes, so the reader would do well to compare the primer with the more comprehensive exegesis offered in the other books here. But the book is a welcome addition and a helpful, brief overview of the bible as a whole, offered with fresh expression and perspective.
Note: Don’t be confused by the title. This is not a book on 1689 Federalism. It is written by a proponent of NCT. It criticizes confessional subscription and argues the 1689’s understanding of the Mosaic Covenant, Adamic Covenant, and the law is unbiblical. This book is not recommend.
For a more detailed analysis, please see Review: Captive to the Word of God – A Particular Baptist Perspective on Reformed and Covenant Theology
This is the third book in the series Recovering our Confessional Heritage. The series is sponsored by the Institute of Reformed Baptist Studies in cooperation with RBAP. The Institute of Reformed Baptist Studies is a graduate theological school which aids churches in preparing men to serve in the Gospel Ministry. For more information please visit irbsseminary.org.
The purpose of the series . . . is to address issues related to the Second London Confession of Faith of 1677/89 (2LCF). . . . The series will include treatments of various subjects by multiple authors. The subjects to be covered are those the series editors (along with consultants) determine to be of particular interest in our day. The authors will be those who display ample ability to address the issue under discussion. Some of the installments will be more involved than others due to the nature of the subject addressed and perceived current needs. Many of the contributions will cover foundational aspects of the self-consistent theological system expressed in the Confession. Others will address difficult, often misunderstood, or even denied facets of the doctrinal formulations of the 2LCF. Each installment will have a “For Further Reading” bibliography at the end to encourage further study on the issue discussed. ~ from the series editors, James M. Renihan and Richard C. Barcellos
“Moses, writing after the historical acts of creation, utilizes the covenantal name of God, Yahweh, while discussing Adam’s Edenic vocation (Gen. 2:4ff.). Isaiah utilizes concepts that started with Adam to explain the universal guilt of man, while using the word “covenant” (Isa. 25:5-6). Hosea, looking back upon previous written revelation, makes explicit what was implicit in it. The prophet’s inspired words give us God’s infallible knowledge of one of the similarities between ancient Israel and Adam. Both had a covenant imposed on them by God and both transgressed their covenants (Hos. 6:7). Paul, while reflecting on Adam’s Edenic vocation, contrasts the disobedience of Adam and its results with the obedience of Christ and its results (Rom. 5:19). The term “works” in the phrase “covenant of works” contrasts with “grace” and “gift” in Romans 5:17. Paul asserts that Adam was a type of Christ (Rom. 5:14). Adam sinned and fell short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). Christ did not sin (Heb. 4:15) and, upon his resurrection, entered into glory (Luke 24:46; Acts 26:19-23; 1 Pet. 1:10-12), a quality of life conferred upon him due to his obedience (Rom. 5:21). This is the life he confers upon all believers.
These scriptural realities, understood by the utilization of the hermeneutical principles of the Holy Spirit as the only infallible interpreter of Holy Scripture, analogia Scriptura, analogia fidei, and scopus Scripturae, led to the confessional formulation of the doctrine of the covenant of works.” ~ Richard C. Barcellos
A proper understanding of Adam’s state in the garden is fundamental to a coherent doctrine of salvation, which is why this little book on the covenant of works is so important. Richard Barcellos mines the riches of the Reformed Baptist theology and explains the covenant of works with exegetical fidelity and theological clarity. Anyone who wants greater insight into the covenant of works and Reformed Baptist confessional theology should definitely read this book.
J. V. Fesko, Ph.D.
Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology
Westminster Seminary California
No document more amply demonstrates the clear lines of continuity between Reformed Baptist thought and our Christian creedal and Reformed confessional heritage than the Second London Confession of Faith of 1677/1689. And in that Confession we see the biblical teaching on the covenant of works clearly and cogently expressed. It is in breaking that covenant that Adam became a covenant-breaker, and brought down upon us the covenant curse of death (spiritual, physical, and eternal); and it is in keeping that covenant that the Second and Last Adam, our Lord Jesus, became The Covenant Keeper in our place, and brought down to us the covenant blessing of life eternal. I warmly commend the exceptionally fine work represented by this book.
Dr. Liam Goligher
Senior Minister, Tenth Presbyterian Church
About the Author
Richard C. Barcellos, Ph.D., is pastor of Grace Reformed Baptist Church, Palmdale, CA. He is author of The Lord’s Supper as a Means of Grace: More than a Memory, Christian Focus/Mentor and Getting the Garden Wrong: A Critique of New Covenant Theology on the Covenant of Works and the Sabbath, forthcoming from Founders Press.Order at RBAP
On 19, Feb 2011 | In Books | By admin
Preface: Make sure to read Samuel Renihan’s important How to Read Logos’ Baptist Covenant Theology Collection to understand how these works relate to 1689 Federalism. They are not all in agreement with every detail. Pascal Denault’s summary as well as the Coxe/Owen volume should guide your evaluation of these other authors.
The Baptist Covenant Theology Collection dives into seventeenth- and eighteenth-century covenant theology, emphasizing the implications God’s covenants with man have for modern-day believers, particularly regarding baptism. One of the largest divisions facing the Baptist church in the seventeenth century was the stance on paedobaptism. These texts carefully craft arguments from Scripture, drawing from developments in covenant theology to address contemporary arguments supporting infant baptism. The collection contains a blend of accessible texts written for laity and more in-depth scholarship for those wanting to dig into covenant theology.
With Logos Bible Software, these valuable volumes are enhanced by cutting-edge research tools. Scripture citations link directly to English translations, and important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Powerful searches help you find exactly what you’re looking for. Tablet and mobile apps let you take the discussion with you. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.
- Examines seventeenth- and eighteenth-century covenant theology
- Addresses contemporary paedobaptist arguments
- Provides a variety of accessible and scholarly explorations of Scripture
- The Ax Laid to the Root, Part 1 by Benjamin Keach
- The Ax Laid to the Root, Part 2 by Benjamin Keach
- The Display of Glorious Grace; or, The Covenant of Peace, Opened by Benjamin Keach
- The Everlasting Covenant: A Sweet Cordial for a Drooping Soul by Benjamin Keach
- A Discourse of the Covenants That God Made with Man before the Law by Nehemiah Coxe
- A Short Description of the Difference between the Bond-Woman and the Free, as They Are the Two Covenants, 2nd ed. by Isaac Backus
- A Treatise concerning the Lawful Subject of Baptism, 2nd ed. by John Spilsbery
- Truth Vindicated, in Several Branches thereof, and Many Objections Fairly and Soberly Answered
- A Just Reply to Mr. John Flavell’s Arguments, by Way of Answer to a Discourse by Cary Philip
- A Solemn Call by Cary PhilipBaby-Baptism Meer Babism; or An Answer to Nobody by Samuel Fisher
- The Fallacy of Infants Baptisme Discovered; or, Five Arguments, to Prove That Infants Ought Not to Be Baptized by Paul Hobson
- A Treatise concerning the Covenant and Baptism: Dialogue-wise, between a Baptist & a Poedo-Baptist by Edward Hutchinson
- Of Baptisme by Henry Lawrence
- A Little Cabinet: Richly Stored with All Sorts of Heavenly Varieties, and Soul-Reviving Influencesby Robert Purnell
- A Treatise of the Vanity of Childish-Baptisme: Wherein the Deficiency of the Baptisme of the Church of England is Considered in Five Particulars Thereof by Andrew Ritor
- The Second Part of the Vanity & Childishnes of Infants Baptisme by Andrew Ritor
The Fatal Flaw of the Theology Behind Infant Baptism & Covenantal Dichotomism. Johnson’s treatment differs in some important respects from the Coxe/Owen treatment (see disclaimer below), but he shares their rejection of the “multiple administrations” view and highlights the dichotomous nature of the Abrahamic Covenant. This book is a very helpful summary of various ways paedobaptists have attempted to deal with the “law of works” aspect of the Mosaic Covenant.Disclaimer Paperback Kindle