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On the Duty of Covenanting and the Permanent Obligations of Religious Covenants (1853)

Q. What is a covenant?

A. A covenant is a mutual engagement between two parties, in which certain performances are stipulated on the one hand, and certain promises on the other.

Q. Wherein does a covenant differ from a law, a vow, and an oath?

A. 1. It differs from a law in this, that it supposes mutual stipulations, while in a law there is no stipulation whatever, but simply the authority of a superior enjoining obedience on an inferior.

  1. It differs from a vow, inasmuch as, while a covenant supposes engagement on both sides, a vow supposes engagement on one side only; a person who vows engaging to perform some particular service without any promise being supposed to be annexed to the performance.

  2. It differs from an oath; an oath being nothing more than a solemn appeal to God for the truth of some assertion that is made, without, as in a covenant, either an engagement to duty, or promise of reward.

  3. In a covenant, then, there is engagement by two parties-in a vow there is engagement by one party only-in an oath there is no engagement at all.

Q. Does a covenant, whilst it differs from each, at the same time suppose the existence of a law, and include both an oath and a vow?

A. Yes. 'A covenant proceeds upon the supposition of something being obligatory, and here is the idea of law. It implies an engagement to perform what is admitted to possess the obligation.'


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Jan 2, 2005
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Deuteronomy 29:10-13
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