Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
Several years ago, I was talking with an Indiana Quaker discussing the importance of the New Covenant in Quaker thought when his glance and comments revealed his suspicion that I was introducing something new even opposed to his church's teachings. "Where does this idea of a new covenant come from?" he asked accusingly. I remained speechless for several seconds, amazed he didn't know the answer and wondering how I could answer without revealing my dismay that he would ask such a question. I think I said, "it is another word used for New Testament so when you read or discuss the New Testament you are discussing the New Covenant." It connects the work of Jesus and the New Creation in Him to the Old Covenant or Old Testament. The word "New Testament" may be so common in our experience that it has faded into the background and is simply seen as another word for Bible. Just to refocus attention and start us thinking, how would you answer these four questions?
1. What is your definition of the New Covenant or the New Testament?
2. How does the New Covenant differ from the Old Covenant?
3. How much of the New Covenant could you teach to someone else right now?
4. Is it important for a person to understand the New Covenant? Why or Why not
The following are excerpts from Fox "A clear Distinction between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant" Works Vol. 6 p 38ff From Digital Quaker Collection. www.dqc.esr.earlham.edu/
And therefore the Lord saith by Jeremiah, ‘Behold, the day shall come, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel; not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: But this is the covenant that I will (page 39) make with the house of Israel: after these days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws in their inward parts, and write them in their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people: And they shall not need to teach every man his brother, and every man his neighbour, saying, know the Lord; for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.'
So this is the new covenant, in which all shall know the Lord, that was promised and prophesied of before it came to pass, which is not according to the old. Jer. xxxi.
And in Heb. viii. the apostle shows the fulfilling of Isaiah's and Jeremiah's, and Ezekiel's prophecy; and how the new covenant was come, and he preached up the new covenant, and preached down the old; and how that all should be taught of God in the new covenant: So in that he saith, the new covenant, he hath made the first old covenant as a thing decayed, and ready to vanish away.
And in Heb. ix. he saith, how the first covenant had ordinances of divine services, and a worldly sanctuary and tabernacle, and candlestick, and table, and show-bread, and censors, and pot of manna, and Aaron's rod, and many other outward things.
But in the new covenant Christ hath abolished all these outward things, who will rule all nations with his rod of iron, which is beyond Aaron's rod.
And so it is clear, that the new covenant is not according to the old: For in the old covenant, the priest's lips were to preserve the people's knowledge. And Ezra had a pulpit of wood to read the law to the people upon: And the law was written in tables of stone. But in the new covenant and testament Christ ends this priesthood, whose lips were to preserve the people's knowledge; and they are to look unto Christ Jesus, who is the treasure of wisdom and knowledge in the new covenant.
And God writes his laws in their hearts, and puts them in their minds in the new
covenant by which all may know him, from the greatest to the least of them.
(Page 41) But in the old covenant and testament the priests had chambers in the temple; which chambers and priesthood Christ hath abolished, and made his chamber in the hearts of his people.
And in the old covenant the Jews were to keep their feasts of tabernacles, and the feast of passover, throughout all their generations; and they eat of this passover when they came out of Egypt: but in the new covenant and testament, the Jews in spirit, that pass out of the spiritual Egypt, feed upon Christ, their heavenly passover, and keep the heavenly passover throughout all their generations in the new covenant, and keep their heavenly spiritual feast of tabernacles, dwelling in the green booths of the green tree, Christ Jesus, the heavenly man, the second Adam, whose leaf never withers, fades nor falls, but is always green. And Christ abolishes the feasts and passovers of the old covenant; so the new covenant is not according to the old. ....
(Page 43) So people was to hear Moses and the high priest in the old covenant and testament: But now they are to hear Christ, their high priest and prophet, that God hath raised up in the new covenant, in his grace, light and spirit. For the law came by Moses, in the old covenant; and all the people of the Jews was to hear the law in the old covenant, and do it, and live: ‘But grace and truth is come by Jesus Christ,' in the new covenant and testament of light, life, and grace. And so all the children of the new covenant are to hear Christ in his grace, and to be under the grace, and truth's teaching, which will bring their salvation
(Page 44) So this worship in the new covenant and testament, is a new worship. ... And this spirit and truth must every man and woman feel in their hearts, by which they may know the God of truth, who is a spirit. .... in the spirit, in the new covenant and testament and new and living way sings and rejoices, and prays in the Holy Ghost, their bodies being temples of the Holy Ghost.
(Page 50) But in the new covenant and testament and new and living way, Christ the son of God saith, ‘Swear not at all, but let your yea be yea and your nay, nay; for whatsoever is more than these, cometh of evil'
(Page 66) and this is Christ's doctrine in the new covenant. And the apostle saith, ‘Being reviled we bless; and being persecuted we rejoice.' I Cor. iv.
For doth not the apostle tell you, that Christ hath abolished Moses' old testament, and hath taken off his vail, and made his glory no glory, because the glory of the new covenant and testament hath dimmed it, and done away the glory of the old?
(Page 72) And therefore, are not you under the vail, with your tenths, and tithes, and offerings, and candles, and candlesticks, in your temples, and altars, and outward places of worship, with your priests' distinguishing garments, and your feasts, and observing of days and times, and swearing to end strife and controversy amongst you? Is not this Moses and the old testament , and reading the old testament, and not the new testament and new covenant, which saith, ‘'Swear not at all, but let your communication be yea, yea, nay, nay?' And Christ's righteousness is all the believers' fine linen, which are the children of the new covenant and of the light, and their altar is spiritual; and Christ hath enlightened their candle, their spirits, with the light, which is the life in him; which burns in their temple night and day. And so Christ, in his glorious new testament and new covenant, he hath done away with and abolished the first priesthood, ....
An issue may be "Does Fox's understanding of the New Covenant come from the New Testament or is this from some other source. Again I wonder if in this one article, does Fox address all of the distinctive Quaker beliefs and is he accurate in finding those he does address coming from the New Covenant or Testament? My Plan is to continue this in Biblical Basis of Quaker Beliefs Part II