Part 2
Chapter 4—Of Efficacious Grace

Section 12—Jeremiah 31:33.

But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts.

These phrases of putting,and writing the law of God in the inward parts of the heart, do not mean barely a making known the nature of the moral law, as to the spirituality and perfection of it, or the glory and excellency of the gospel, its truths and ordinances; but a creating in the soul a real and heart affection for these things, and a subjecting of it to them by the power of divine grace; and indeed, are expressive of an internal work of the powerful grace of God upon the soul, in which man is as passive as a vessel is, in which any thing is put; or as paper and parchment on which any thing is written. Now, to this the following things are objected.

1st. That "these promises are made expressly to the whole house of Israel, to all with whom the old covenant was made, and whom God brought out of Egypt,and would bring again out of captivity;and therefore can be no covenant made with the elect of the house of Israel and Judah; because then the whole nation of the Jews must have been elected and converted; and because it is made with those who kept not his former covenant; whereas the elect always persist, say these men, in their covenant with God; this therefore can be no new covenant with them."[1] To which I reply, that these promises are not made to the same individual persons, not to all, nor to any, with whom the old covenant was made, whom God brought out of Egypt, and whose carcasses fell in the wilderness, but their posterity; for it is expressly said in verse 32, that this new covenant is not according to the covenant that God made with their fathers in the day he took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt.And though they are made to the house of Israel, yet they are not said to be made to the whole house of Israel, and to all the children of Israel and Judah; and therefore might be made to the elect of the house of Israel. Whence it does not follow, that the whole nation of the Jews must have been elected and converted; nor was it made with those who kept not the former covenant; nor do we say that the elect always persist in their covenant with God; for we know that the covenants, vows, and promises they make, are often broken; but we say, that they always abide in God's covenant with them, and are always his people, and he their God; and which notwithstanding is a new covenant to them, especially under the gospel-dispensation, to which these promises refer, being under a new mode of administration, and always new in perpetual force and vigor. Besides, the house of Israel, and the house of Judah, may be taken literally or figuratively; if literally, this prophecy concerning them was accomplished in the times of Christ and his apostles, who first preached the gospel, and made known the new covenant of grace to the Jews; many of whom were converted under it, the gospel being the power of God unto salvation, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek (Rom. 1:16): they may be taken figuratively, and design the elect of God, whether among Jews or Gentiles; for as there was an Israel after the flesh,so there was one after the Spirit: even the whole Israel of God,the chosen vessels of salvation, to whom the new covenant and all the blessings of it peculiarly belong.

2ndly It is said,[2] that "these words, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts,import two things:

1. "That he would clearly make known his will to them, so that they need not be at much pains to find it out, as in Deuteronomy 30:11-14, Romans 10:8, and 2:14." To which I answer, that though these words import a clear and plain discovery of God's will, yet that is not all; for there may be, and is a clear and plain revelation of God's will externally made in the scriptures, and by the ministry of the word to some persons, in whose hearts nothing is internally put or written: whence it follows that putting and writing the law of God in the heart, is something more, and what is distinct from, a bare making known the will of God, though never so clear and plain; and must intend an internal operation and application of God's grace. Moreover, where the knowledge of God, of his grace, mind and will, is spiritual, experimental, and saving, that follows upon, and is the fruit and effect of the putting and writing the law in the heart, as appears from the following verse; and is owned by the author of this exception. Once more, when the Gospel, which is the grand revelation of God's will, has a place in the hearts of any, it is owing to the powerful and efficacious grace of God that accompanies it, opens the heart, and lets it in; where it; is not only clearly known, but affectionately received, experimentally felt, and truly believed.

2. "And[3] inculcating them on the soul by the Holy Spirit, so as that they may be still fresh upon the memory; (Deut. 6:6; 11:18, Prov. 3:1, 3). Whence it follows, that these promises cannot be so understood, as if God by them engaged to do the whole work, which he hath engaged us so expressly to perform." To which I reply, that the persons spoken to in the cited passages were not unconverted persons, but such who had been under the first work of conversion: and the phrases of laying up and writing the laws of God in their hearts intend more than a bare remembrance of them, even a strong affection for them, and close attachment to them; so the sin of Judah is said (Jer. 17:1) to be graven upon the table of the heart,which does not intend their consciousness of it, and the keeping of it in their memory; but on the contrary, stupidity, insensibility of it, indolence about it, and a stiff tenacious adherence to it, as well as affection for it. And should these phrases intend no more here, can it be supposed, that there should ever be an affection for the law of God, or a close adherence to the Gospel of Christ, in such whose carnal minds were enmity to God,and not subject to the law of God, nor could they be,without the powerful operation of God's mighty grace? Since then these words import, besides a dear knowledge of the law and Gospel, and an imprinting the eternal truths of both in the mind, a hearty affection for them, which issues in a professed subjection to them; this must be owing, not to the power and will of man, but to the unfrustrable and insuperable grace of God. And this objector owns, that the inculcating, them on the soul must be purely passive. The passage in Jeremiah 32:49, will be considered under the head of the saints' perseverance.


[1] Whitby, p. 288, 289; ed. 2.281, 282.

[2] Whitby, p. 289; ed. 2.282.

[3] Ibid. p. 290; ed. 2.282.

Gill Index