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John Preston on the Covenant of Grace: Absolute and Particular and Conditional and Universal

February 8, 2008

Now, for the opening Point to you, you must understand, that there are two ways, or Covenants, whereby God offers salvation to men: One, is the Covenant of Works, and that was that righteousness by which Adam had been saved, if he had stood in his innocency; for it was that way that God appointed for him, Do this, and live: But Adam performed not condition of that Covenant, and therefore now there is another Covenant, that is, the Covenant of Grace; a board given against Shipwreck. Now this covenant of Grace is double:

Either absolute and peculiar,
Or conditional.

Absolute and peculiar only to the elect. So it is expressed, Jer 31. I will put my law in your inward parts, and write in your hearts, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people. So likewise in Ezech. 36. I will give you a new heart, and put a new spirit within you, and I will take your stony hearts out of your bodies. Here the Covenant is expressed absolutely, and this is proper only to the Elect.

But now, besides, there is a conditional Covenant of Grace, which is common to all; and that is expressed in these terms: Christ has provided a Righteousness, and Salvation; that his Work that he has done already. Now if you will believe, and take him upon those terms that is offered, you shall be saved. This I say belongs to all men. This you have thus expressed in the Gospel many places: If you believe, you shall be saved: as it is Mark 16. Go preach the Gospel to every creature under Heaven; he that will believe, shall be saved; and he that will not believe, shall be damned. It is the same with that, Rom. 4.5 To him which works not, his faith is accounted righteousness. (Mark it) To him that believes on him that justifies the ungodly; that is; there is a certain justice of righteousness, that Christ has prepared or purchased for men, though they be ungodly, he requires nothing of them before-hand, though they be wicked and ungodly, yet this righteousness is prepared for them: that which is required of them, is only that they take it.

John Preston, The Breast-Plate of faith and Love, (London: Printed by George Purstow, and are to be sold in the Companie of the Stationers, 1651), 30-33.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 28, 2008 10:02 am

    I write on the Calvinist influence in the start of America in New England and would like to know if the Prestons went to New England and were involved in America. Also, I have a relative, O.J.Preston I am researching from mid 19th Century that may have come from New England to California. Any info?

  2. CalvinandCalvinism permalink*
    February 28, 2008 10:31 am

    I am not sure. I would scope out some of the Puritan biographies, like Beeke’s “Meet the Puritans.” Jonathan Moore has a new book on Preston, based on his Ph.D, “English Hypothetical Universalism: John Preston and the Softening of Reformed Theology,” Eerdmans, 2007. Some of Moore’s theological claims are wrong, but his biographical material and bibliography may help.

    Thanks for visiting,

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