This week I went through the early American Puritan John Cotton’s (1585 – 1652) “A Treatise on the Covenant of Grace”. You can find the free PDF version from the link.
I loved this book. It is completely Puritan-esque with its balanced view of doctrine and application. Cotton does a great job defending the doctrine of the covenant of grace but he does a better job giving consolation to the reader and expounding the depth of the work of the Trinity in our lives.
Cotton works with long sentences with myriads of commas all over the place, so you might have a hard time following his train of thought (I know I sure did).
He also goes through details: the Abrahamic covenant, its seed, the Mosaic covenant (relation of the Christian to the Law), and the New Covenant.
I highly recommend this book for a well-rounded classic-Reformed view of the covenant and its application. You will find some gems in this work!
John Cotton has a great dissertation on the uses of the Law for Christians and Non-Christians alike from page 53 (on the PDF search) to 72. And a great dissertation from 196 to 208 about the external and internal relation to the Covenant of Grace, and expounds upon it beautifully, touching up on infant inclusion as well.
Some of my favorite quotations are:
[on hypocrisy and the necessity of the external/internal distinction “of hypocrites [there are] two sorts (and you shall find them in the church of God) some washed swine, others goats… [Remember that] the five foolish (Matthew 25:2) were all Virgins” –Cotton, pg. 26, 32
[Concerning the Law and the Regenerate man] “And truly some under the pretence of the Covenant of Grace, have thought it altogether bootless [useless] to bind Christians to the Law of God, and to look at it as any part of the direction of their course: because this is an imputation usually reflected upon the Covenant of Grace let us consider therefore and enquire to what use serveth the Law of God, if God give himself first unto his people in the Covenant of his grace?” –Cotton, pg. 68
[Cotton on the Jews turning the covenant of grace into a covenant of works] “And this was the rejection of the whole house of Israel, Romans 10:3, they being ignorant of God’s righteousness and going about to establish their own righteousness have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God; and hence the covenant of grace is unto them turned into a covenant of works; they are now become the children of the bond-woman and not children of the free-woman: for they that have their faith in themselves and not in Christ, they fall under a covenant of works. So that mind you the Lord is just and righteous in all these his dispensations.” –Cotton, pg. 200
[Cotton even goes into family duties after he’s established the importance of the covenant in our families. He highlights these three]
- “pray with our children and servants
- Teach them the will of God
- Restrain them for wickedness” –Cotton, pg. 206
Overall I give a 4.5/5 stars for this old work.