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Conditional and Universal Covenant of Grace:

November 3, 2007

I was reading and searching through Heinrich Heppe’s Reformed Dogmatics today, and I came across something very very interesting. It looks I have found another source or precedent to the idea of a hypothetical and universal covenant of Grace.
I will post some of the context here. I am know Cocceius is not an advocate of a universal and conditional covenant of grace. I have included him tho merely for some context. Cocceius was doing his thing in around the 1650s, and he was hostile to Amyraut. But now, this other fellow, Eglin was active in the 1610s, and a Zuricher, who seemed to have also worked in Marburg. I cannot find any biographical information.  It is clear that he express Zwingli and Bullinger’s view on the universality of the Covenant of Grace. And you have the language of general conditional decree and special absolute decree. Crocius was one of the Bremen Delegates, so we are looking at another early Reformed theology. The more we dig into this, the more and more its clear that Amyraut derived his ideas from earlier sources. The idea that he originated doctrinal deviations, and/or borrowed from Arminianism is becoming more and more a incredible (a joke even). Lastly, We also see here a very clear statement on John 3:16.

1) –In and for itself then it was the entire fallen race of man which God made the object of His gracious revelation, when He resolved to present to humanity as a gift of grace the lie which it had forfeited. This is the eternal testament of the Father, “the immutable will of God to give an inheritance to the believing”, and the eternal decree of the Father Himself, according to which He has promised the whole of humanity, so far as it accepts His grace with penitence and trust, righteousness and eternal life as an inalienable inheritance of grace.

Note the essentially universalistic basis upon which the idea of the covenant of grace rests. COCCEIUS introduces his exposition of the doctrine of the covenant of Grace (De foed. IV, 74), by declaring that of course God might at once have punished man with all evils. But the height of wisdom and power aided Him in His glorious plan for exercising mercy on man. Accordingly He resolved (1) to unfold His inexpressible mercy “in vessels of mercy”, and (2) “to employ an ineffable kindness and longsuffering towards the entire human race” .

–Similarly EGLIN (De foed. grat. 40): The “impelling cause of the covenant of grace” is the “love of God for the world, i.e. for the whole human race, which by the act of Satan had fallen into misery”. For this “common lapse” of the human race God had ordained in Christ a “common remedy.” Now a distinction must be drawn between “God’s general decree” and the “particular decree of election“. The former is (43) the “covenant of grace including the whole human race and by the counsel of His will planning for all indefinitely in Adam, on condition that man should repent and believe.”  The latter on the contrary is the covenant according to which God “Himself graciously fulfills the condition required in those whom He has assigned to Christ from eternity”. As regards the former (44) the “promise is general by an outward calling“; as regards the latter we can only speak of an “effective application of the promise in accordance with the special promise of grace” .

–LUD. CROCIUS 962: “The object of the grace of compassion is the whole human race as wretched and fouled with sin. This is what our Saviour teaches by the word “world” Jn. 3. 16 (God so loved the world. . .). It is certain that here by the word “world” is. to be understood not the entire system of heaven and earth with all their denizens divinely produced out of nothing, but only the human race.–963:  Nor yet does Christ here understand by the world the elect only, according as they have already been separated from the world, but the entire human race taken all together (universe), according as by nature it lies in sin and according as it is commonly called through the gospel to repentance and faith in Christ”. Heinrich Heppe, Reformed Dogmatics (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1978),  371-372.

2) COCCEIUS (De foed. iv, 78): Only by a mediator could God show Himself gracious to the world. Since the sinner cannot reconcile or justify himself the sin must be atoned for by a mediator. If righteousness is to be restored to the sinner again, he must be made a present of it by God. “But to present righteousness can be nothing else than to condone sins and to accept the unjust as just” .

–OLEVIAN (30 f.): “The heavenly Father  resolved so to execute the decree of His love as to satisfy perfect justice. As it is essential to Himself He can no more deny it than He can deny Himself. So in the actual execution of the righteousness the greatness and strength of His love in the Son and of His perpetual mercy sworn from the beginning had to shine fort”. Even in the Redeemer’s work of reconciliation its essentially universalistic side must be acknowledged.

Hence EGLIN (54) declares that it must not be said that God did not send His Son into the world “to be the common Saviour of the whole world, conditionally set forth”. Only, the circumstance that not all attain to faith and blessedness must not give rise to the view, that “in proposing a common remedy” God had failed of His purpose (51): (i) “The things which. He decreed as ex hypothesi and conditionally must be estimated conditionally and (2) “in those whom (the Father) willed to give to Christ, fulfilled the requisite condition gratuitously”. But above all it must be insisted that it is not true to say that Christ accomplished nothing for the reprobate: “he broke and abolished the whole lapse of Adam, the whole curse of the whole law, in short, the one same enemy of all, Satan”. Undoubtedly therefore we may say (63) with Scripture, that “as regards all-suffciency of merit Christ made purchase even for the reprobate, and even for them paid the lutron of death in full considered by itself, although it is not applied to them by the saving attraction of faith”. Heinrich Heppe, Reformed Dogmatics (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1978),  373.

3) The single ground of the covenant of grace is God’s compassionate love for all men and the free Trinitarian counsel of God.

EGLIN (De foed. grat., 40): “The impulsive cause of the covenant of grace has been, God’s love for the world, that is, for the entire human race fallen into misery by Satan’s cunning”  Heinrich Heppe, Reformed Dogmatics (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1978),  384.


Full names: 
Raphaelis Eglini Iconi Tigurini (Zurich, Marburg) c1614.
Ludovigus Crocius (Bremen) c1636.

One Comment leave one →
  1. November 4, 2007 5:34 pm

    “Eglinus, Raphael, also called Iconius, a minister of the Reformed Church, was born at Rüssicon, in the Swiss canton of Zurich, Dec. 28, 1559. After studying theology at Zurich, Geneva, and Basel, he for some time taught school at Sonders, in the Veltlin (now part of Lombardy); but, with the Protestants generally, he had to leave this place in 1586. After working for some time as teacher and “diaconus” in Winterscheid, and as “pædagogus” at the college of the alumni at Zurich, he was, in 1592, appointed professor of the New Testament in the latter city. Becoming absorbed in the study of theosophy and alchemy, he spent his whole property in experiments, and in 1601 had to flee on account of debts which he had contracted. Through the intercession of his friends he obtained, however, permission to return, and an honorable dismission. He went to Cassel, where landgrave Moritz, himself a great friend of alchemy, appointed him teacher at the court school, and later, June 13, 1606, professor of theology at Marburg. From the theological faculty of this university he received, in 1607, the title of D.D. Subsequently Moritz also appointed him court preacher at Marburg. He died May 20, 1622. Eglinus was one of the first Reformed theologians in Hesse where landgrave Moritz and his successors endeavored to supplant Lutheranism by the Reformed Church. He wrote in defence of his creed a number of small essays, the most important of which relate to the doctrine of predestination. He is one of those writers in whom the German reformed theology became more scholastic in its character, and was merged in the stricter Calvinistic tendency. In 1618 Eglinus wrote an apology of the Rosicrucians, of which association he had become an active member. He also wrote several books on alchymy and on the Apocalypse. A complete list of his works is given by Strieder, Grundlage zu einer hess. Gelehrten-Gesch.–Heppe, in Herzog, Real-Encyklopädie, xix, 456; Hagenbach, History of Doctrines (edited by Smith), ii, 175.”

    Alexander J. Schem, “Eglinus, Raphael” in Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, ed. John Mclintock and James Strong (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1981), 3:74-75.

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