Wilhelmus Schortinghuis (1700-1750) on the covenant of works and the covenant of grace


Wilhelmus Schortinghuis (1700-1750) was one of the final leaders of Dutch Nadere Reformatie. While it is true that Schortinghuis wrote some very pietistic (in a negative sense) stuff, this book, Essential Truths in the Heart of a Christian (Nodige Waarheden in het Herte van een Christen), is quite in line with the orthodoxy of Reformed scholasticism before it. Here are a few of his questions and answers that have to do with the covenant of works and covenant of grace:

“What is the covenant of works? The agreement of God with the righteous man [Adam] in which God promised life and threatened death, with the stipulation of perfect obedience to his law. If man met the stipulation, he would enjoy eternal life (Hos. 6:7, Job 31:33).”

“Did man have the ability to fulfill these demands? Yes, indeed; because he was created in God’s image (Gen. 1:31, Ecc. 7:29), he was perfectly good and completely upright.”

“What do you learn from this covenant?  1) The happiness of the first man in the original state; 2) the privilege of the believer, who now lives in another, unchanging covenant; 3) never to seek salvation in a covenant of works, but as a miserable sinner to seek it in Christ in the covenant of grace (Matt. 11:28, Prov. 18:10).”

“What does God promise and demand in the covenant of grace? He promises all the essential benefits here and especially for eternity. He promises: ‘I shall be a God to you’ (Jer. 31:33).  And he demands faith and conversion (Acts 16:31; Ezek. 33:11), both of which he promises to provide (Eph. 2:8, Ezek. 36:27).”

– Wilhelmus Schortinghuis (1700-1750), Essential Truths in the Heart of a Christian (Nodige Waarheden in het Herte van een Christen), p. 56-57, 66