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Christ the Kinsman-redeemer in the Covenant


From “A View of the Covenant of Grace” by Thomas Boston.


Thomas Boston (1676-1732) was a pastor of God's flock in Ettrick, Scotland, whose preaching God abundantly blessed in the saving of many souls. The son of a Presbyterian who knew the Lord and was imprisoned for non-conformity, Boston was raised in times of murderous persecution. Nevertheless, he lived to see God’s people flourish and multiply, as “the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:47). He is perhaps best known for his part in the reprinting of “The Marrow of Modern Divinity”, a book which distinguishes the Covenant of Works from the Covenant of Grace.



The object of the administration of the covenant, is, sinners of mankind indefinitely: that is to say, Christ is empowered, by commission from his Father, to administrate the covenant of grace to any of all mankind, the sinners of the family of Adam without exception: he is authorized to receive them into the covenant, and to confer on them all the benefits thereof, to their eternal salvation; according to the settled order of the covenant. The election of particular persons is a secret, not to be discovered in the administration of the covenant, according to the established order thereof, till such time as the sinner have received the covenant, by coming personally into it. And the extent of the administration is not founded on election, but on the sufficiency of Christ’s obedience and death for the salvation of all; neither is it regulated thereby, but by the fulness of power in heaven and earth given to Jesus Christ, as a reward of his becoming obedient even unto death.


For confirming this truth, let the following things be considered.


1.   The grant which the Father hath made of Christ crucified, as his ordinance for the salvation of lost sinners of mankind. In the case of the Israelites in the wilderness, bitten by fiery serpents, God instituted an ordinance for their cure, namely, a brazen serpent lifted up on a pole; and made a grant thereof to whosoever would use it for that purpose, by looking to it. No body whosoever that needed healing, was excepted: the grant was conceived in the most ample terms, Numb. 21:8, “It shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.” So all mankind being bitten by the old serpent, the devil, and sin, as his deadly poison, left in them; God hath appointed Jesus Christ the ordinance of heaven for their salvation. There is a word of divine appointment passed upon a crucified Christ, making and constituting him the ordinance of God for salvation of sinners; and God hath made a grant of him as such, to whomsoever of Adam’s lost race will make use of him for that purpose, by believing on him; in the which grant none of the world of mankind is excepted. All this is clear from John 3:14 , 15, 16, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have eternal life. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Now, the administration of the covenant being settled in pursuance of this grant therein made for a reward of the Mediator’s obedience, the object of the former can be no less extensive than that of the latter.


2.   The Mediator’s commission for the administration, is conceived in the most ample terms; and he is clothed with most ample powers with relation to that business. It carries his administering the covenant, not only to the meek, the poor, the broken-hearted; but to the captives, blind, bruised, prisoners, bond-men and broken men, who have sold their inheritance and themselves, and can have no hope of relief but by a jubilee, Luke 4:18, 19; with Isaiah 61:1, 2. What sort of sinners of mankind can one imagine, that will not fall in under some of these denominations? Christ is indeed given for a covenant of people; not of this or that people, but of people indefinitely. “All power is given him in heaven and in earth,” Matthew 28:18. So there are none on earth excepted from his administering the covenant to them. He is empowered to save the guilty law-condemned world, by administering it to them; “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved,” John 3:17; forasmuch as he is the ordinance of God for taking away the sin of the world, chap. 1:29; though many to whom he offers the covenant, do refuse it, and so are not saved eternally. Accordingly, from this fulness of power he issues forth the general offer of the gospel; wherein all without exception are declared welcome to come and suck the full breasts of the divine consolations in the covenant: Matthew 11:27, “All things are delivered unto me of my Father.” Ver. 28, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Chap. 28:18, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” Ver. 19, “Go ye therefore and teach all nations.” Mark 16:15, “Preach the gospel to every creature.”


3.   He executes his commission in an unhampered manner, administering the covenant to any sinner of mankind: Proverbs 8:4, “Unto you, O men, I call, and my voice is to the sons of man.” The object of his administration is not this or that party of mankind, under this or the other denomination; but men, any men, sons of men indefinitely. So the gospel, in which he administers the covenant, is good tidings to all people, Luke 2:10, a feast made unto all people, Isaiah 25:6, though many, not relishing the tidings, never taste of the feast. Accordingly, he commissioned his apostles for that effect, in terms than which none can imagine more extensive, Mark 16:15, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” The Jews called man the creature, as being God’s creature by way of eminence: so by every creature is meant every man. There are in the world, some men, who, by reason of their monstrous wickedness, are like devils; there are other men, who, by reason of their savageness seem to differ but little from brutes: but our Lord saith here in effect, “Be what they will, if ye can but know them to be men, ask no questions about them on this head, what sort of men they are: being men, preach the gospel to them, offer them the covenant; and if they receive it, give them the seals thereof: my Father made them, I will save them.”


4.   If we inquire, who they are to whom Christ stands related as a Saviour? or, whose Saviour he is, according to the scriptures? we find, that considered as an actual Saviour, saving actually and eventually, he is indeed only Saviour of the body, Ephesians 5:23; but considered as an official Saviour, a Saviour by office, he is the Saviour of the world, 1 John 4:14; John 4:42. Thus one having a commission to be the physician of a society, is the physician of the whole society, by office; and so stands related to every man of them, as his physician: howbeit, he is not actually a healer to any of them, but such as employ him. Though some of that society should not employ him at all, but on every occasion call another physician; yet he is still their physician by office: though they should die of their disease, being averse from calling him; yet still it is true, that he was their physician, they might have called him, and had his remedies; and it was purely their own fault, that they were not healed by him. Even so our Lord Jesus Christ hath Heaven’s patent, constituting him the Saviour of the world; by the authority of his Father he is invested with that office: and wheresoever the gospel comes, his patent for that effect is intimated, 1 John 4:14, “And we have seen and do testify, that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.” Wherefore, none of us shall perish for want of a Saviour. Jesus Christ is the Saviour of the world; he is your Saviour, and my Saviour, be our case what it will: and God, in and by him, is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe, 1 Timothy 4:10 . Hence Christ’s salvation is the common salvation, Jude 3.: and the gospel is the grace of God that bringeth salvation to all men, Titus 2:11, marg.  Christ then stands related as a Saviour by office to the world of mankind; he is their Saviour: and he is so related to every one of them, as sinners, lost sinners of that society, 1 Timothy 1:15, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” Luke 19:10, “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which is lost.” Let no man say, “Alas! I have nothing to do with Christ, nor he with me; for I am a sinner, a lost sinner.” Nay, upon that very ground there is a relation between him and you. Since you are a sinner of mankind, Christ is your Saviour: for he is by office Saviour of the family whereof you are a branch. If you will employ another than him, or pine away in your disease, rather than put yourself in his hand, ye do it upon your peril: but you know assuredly, that you have a Saviour of your own, chosen of God for you, whether you employ him or not. He is by his Father’s appointment the physician of souls: ye are the sick; and the less sensible ye are, the more dangerously sick; there is a valuable relation then betwixt Christ and you, as such, Matthew 9:11, 12. He is the great burden-bearer, that gives rest to them that labour and are heavy laden, Matthew 11:28 ; Psalm 51:22. Ye labour, spending your labour for that which satisfied not: and are laden with iniquity, even heavy laden; and nothing the less so, that ye are not duly sensible thereof: there is a relation then betwixt Christ and you, on that very score. Now, if Christ stands related to the world of mankind-sinners, as their Saviour, then they are the object of his administration of the covenant.


5.   Lastly, If it were not so, then there would be some excepted persons of the world of mankind-sinners, for whom there is no warrant, more than for devils, to take hold of the covenant, by believing in Christ: contrary to the constant voice of the gospel, John 3:16; Mark 16:15. For surely they have no warrant to take hold of the covenant, to whom the Administrator is not empowered to give it. Which of the world of mankind-sinners can these excepted persons be? Not pagans, and other infidels, who hear not the gospel: for howbeit, in the depth of sovereign wisdom, that warrant is not intimated to them; yet it doth really extend to them; as included under that general term, whosoever, John 3:16. And if it did not extend to them, the covenant could not lawfully be preached and offered to them by ministers of the gospel; more than a crier could lawfully go and proclaim and offer the king’s indemnity to those who have no concern in it, but are excepted out of it. The ministerial gospel-offer is undoubtedly null and void, as far as it exceeds the bounds of the object of Christ’s administration of the covenant; as being, in so far, from one or more having no power to make it. Neither are any who hear the gospel excepted: for the not taking hold of the covenant by faith in Christ, is the great sin and condemnation of all who, having the gospel, do so entertain it, Proverbs 8:36; John 3:19; Mark 16:16. But it could not be the sin of such persons; because it can never be one’s sin, not to do a thing which he hath no warrant from God to do. Much less are the non-elect excepted: for at that rate, not only should their unbelief be none of their sin; but the elect themselves could never believe, till such a time as their election were, in the first place, revealed to them, which is contrary to the stated method of grace: for none can believe in Christ, till once they see their warrant; forasmuch as that warrant is the ground of faith.


Wherefore we conclude, that sinners of mankind indefinitely are the object of Christ’s administration of the covenant; that he is empowered to administer it to you, and every one of you, whatever you are, or have been; and that you must either take hold of the covenant for life and salvation, or perish as despisers of it, since ye have heard the gospel.




“A View of the Covenant of Grace” by Thomas Boston. Focus Christian Ministries Trust, 1990. pp 151-155.