There are still other scriptures to which an appeal can be made in support of the view that the covenant with Noah was a covenant of special grace and not a covenant of common grace. I Peter 3:19-21, “By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; which sometimes were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was preparing wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by the water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh but the answer of a good conscience toward God) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” The teaching here is that the flood and Christian baptism are related to each other as type and antitype. The idea is that as Noah was cleansed by the waters of the flood from his godless contemporaries and their corruption, so are the believers cleansed from their sins by the water of baptism, that is, by the blood of Christ. Saved are they from their sins, from their sinful flesh and from the world doomed to destruction. Now if the Lord sent the flood to cleanse, separate believing Noah frond the wicked and reprobated world of his day and age, can it be true that, after the flood, the Lord established with Noah a covenant of common grace including that very world? 

Our conclusion is then that the covenant with Noah was a covenant of special grace and not of common grace. It is only in the light of this conception that what is reported to us in Genesis 6, 7, 8 can be rightly explained. All serves this covenant of special grace (Another covenant there is not). This covenant must be perfected. The elect must be saved. For this there must be opportunity. 

All are not agreed that the covenant with Noah was a covenant of special grace. According to the late Dr. A. Kuyper, the covenant that the Lord established with Noah was a covenant of common grace; thus a covenant including also the reprobated humanity. The promises of this covenant fare said to be the very promises that the Lord made to Noah with whom He is supposed to have transacted as the representative of the reprobated. This covenant God makes real in the lives of reprobated men by a doing of His according to which He so operates by His Spirit in the hearts of these men that sin in them is checked and they, themselves, as a result, perform works that have moral value in the sight of God. The purpose of this covenant is the creation of a common sphere in which elect and reprobate, can cooperate for the betterment of this world through the development of the earth and its resources in obedience to the original ordinance of creation, “And the Lord God took the man, and put him in the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it” (Gen. 2:15). Such is the view. Let us examine the proof that Kuyper imagines to have found in the Genesis narrative in support of his view—the view that the covenant with Noah was a covenant of common grace.

a) First, he directs attention to the personal pronounyou in the text at chapter 9:8, 9, “And. God spake unto Noah and to his sons with him, saying, And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you.” In the Hebrew the pronoun you is plural; for its antecedents are Noah and his sons and not Noah only. This must serve as proof that the covenant with Noah was common: it was established with Noah and the three progenitors of the human race to be, thus with both Noah’s spiritual and carnal seed, with both the elect and reprobated in his loins. Had it been a covenant of special grace, it: would have been established with Noah in the line of Shem, thus with Noah’s spiritual seed alone. Such is the view. Writes Kuyper, “It is God speaking here, so that we deal with the very words of God, and God spake not to Noah alone but to Noah and his three sons, hence not to Shem alone but to Shem and to Japheth and to Ham as well as including their whole offspring, ‘And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you and with, your seed after you.’ Had it been a covenant established with Noah alone, one might; explain, the words, ‘and with your seed after you,’ as having reference exclusively to Noah’s spiritual (that is, elect) posterity. But such an interpretation is now impossible, for it is evident that the Lord addresses not His words to Noah alone, but to four persons, to wit, Noah, Shem, Ham and Japheth. Thus the Lord emphatically declares that He establishes this covenant not with believers alone, nor with the posterity of Shem alone but with Ham and Japheth and their posterity as well.” De Gemeene Gratie, Vol. I. page 17. 

The point to this reasoning is, that the covenant, established, as it was, with Noah and his three sons and not merely with Noah in the line of Shem, includes the whole human race as to everyone of its members, thus includes reprobate and elect alike and was, on this account, a covenant of common grace. 

But this reasoning certainly, does not hold. That the Lord established His covenant with Noah’s three sons and not alone with Shem was owing to the fact that He had His elect in the generations of each of these sons. If so, how can His establishing His covenant with all three sons prove that His covenant with them included also their reprobated offspring and was, therefore, a covenant of common grace? It cannot, of course. 

Later it was revealed unto Noah that the Lord will enlarge Japheth and that he will dwell in the tents of Shem. Now Shem is Christ. The tents of Shem is the house of God over which Christ has been set a great priest. In this house Japheth as redeemed from all his sins by the blood of Christ shall have a place. Surely, the covenant with Noah and his sons was a covenant of special grace. 

Second, Kuyper has still other proof. It is this, namely, that the covenant with Noah included also the brute creation. Kuyper writes, “As though foreseeing that this would! be misunderstood, God becomes more explicit and literal in His statement of the matter thus, ‘And with every living creature that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you, from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth.’ This is repeated in verse 12 in these words. ‘The covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations,’ And as if it were His purpose to state this with greater concreteness and to bring out with greater clarity that this covenant assuredly does concern human existence on earth, it is said in verse 13, ‘a covenant between me and the earth.’ Thus as much as six times it asserts that here we have to do with a covenant not of particular but of common grace. And it is hard to understand how some, in’ utter disregard of this six-fold assertion, have reasoned away and to all practical extent denied the general character of this covenant.” Idem, Vol. I, page 17, 18. 

The point to this reasoning is that, including, as it does the brute creation, all life on earth, the covenant with Noah must be common. Now this argument has weight only if the matter it concerns cannot be explained on the ground that the covenant with Noah is particular. But the matter can well be explained on this ground. Fact is that the particular covenant includes the brute creation. We need but quote Paul here. “Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Rom. 8:21). Here it is taught that the brute creature will be delivered and that its deliverance is bound up with the salvation of God’s people and that, therefore, this creature is also included in the particular covenant. 

Third, Kuyper directs attention to the use of the divine names God and Jehovah. Now it is true that in the narrative of the Lord’s transactions with Noah, the name of God appears throughout. This must serve as another ground for the view that the covenant with Noah was common. For, so the reasoning goes, if the covenant were particular, the sacred writer would have employed the name Jehovah, the particular covenant name of the Lord. Writes Kuyper, “Even the use of the name with which the Most High who concludes the covenant is here called forbids any other conception of the matter (forbids the view that the covenant with Noah is particular, Kuyper means). Where the saving covenant of particular grace is referred to in Genesis 3 the name Jehovah is employed. And also in the passage that speaks of the blessing of the Messiah upon Shem, we find in Genesis 9:26 the name Jehovah. But here in connection with the covenant of Noah as well as in verse 27 where mention is made of the blessing upon Japheth, the covenant, name Jehovah is uniformly eliminated and we find everywhere the name God only. It is here not Jehovah but the God of all flesh and who in that covenant seals with an oath a promise that indeed pertains to all flesh equally and to all that breathes.” Idem, I. 18. 

Kuyper imagines to have made the discovery that the name used with the particular covenant is always the name Jehovah and, never the name God. However, passages occur in which the matter concerned is plainly the particular covenant (there is, of course, no such thing as a common covenant) and in which the name used is God and not Jehovah. Gen. 17 is a report of the Lord’s transaction with Abraham regarding the particular covenant of grace and the name used throughout is the name God and not Jehovah: And so the conclusion that, because in the report of the Lord’s transaction with Noah regarding the covenant the name God is used, this covenant with Noah is; therefore, a common covenant and not the particular covenant, is wholly unwarranted. 

This is the extent of Kuyper’s proof from the Scriptures. He has no more. And so it shall have to be admitted that his attempt to prove with the Scriptures that the covenant with Noah was a common covenant and not the particular covenant ended in failure. It only goes to show how that the view under consideration is a sheer invention. The covenant with Noah was the particular covenant. Nothing could be plainer from the chapters in Genesis that deal with this covenant. (See my previous article on this subject in the Standard Bearerfor September 15.) 

But, one will say, how are we to explain the following statements occurring in these chapters: “And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh” and “that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth” (Gen. 9:15, 16). Here the Lord twice states that His covenant with Noah was between Him, the Lord and Noah and every living creature of all flesh. Does not this expression in italics—the expression, every living creature denote also every human being and thus indicate also the reprobated? And if so, have we not to do here with a statement plainly teaching that the covenant with Noah was indeed a covenant between God and the reprobated also? No, not at all. It was not even the contention of Kuyper that the expressionevery living creature denotes also every human being. According to his view, the expression indicates only the brute creation, plants and animals. Reading the verse with some thought and in its context, we will see that this view is correct. The statement indicative of human beings, that is, of the rational creation, the human race to be, is the following, “And God spake unto Noah and to his sons with him saying, And I, behold, I will establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you.” The pronoun ‘you’ denotes Noah and his three sons. The term “your seed” signifies their entire offspring, the human race to be. If we now allow also the expression “every living creature of all flesh” to indicate human beings, the humanity to be, then verse 15 must be made to read as follows; “I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you, that is, between me and you and your seed, the human race to be, and every living creature of all flesh, that is, plants and animals and the human race to be.” It is plain that the expression “every living creature” indicates the brute creation only and not also every human being. This verse, therefore, cannot be quoted in support of the view that the covenant with Noah was between God and reprobated humans. Certainly, the covenant with Noah was between God and the brute creation and the whole human race. But the question is whether this covenant with Noah is between the Lord and the human race head for head or between this race according to the election of grace. According to Kuyper the former is the case. He, therefore, taught two covenants, the covenant with Noah, the common covenant and including both reprobate and elect, and the covenant with Abraham, the particular covenant and including only the spiritual seed. 

But the two covenants are the one particular covenant of grace. The seed of Noah and the seed of Abraham are the same seed and this seed is Christ. And the promises are essentially the same. And God the Father is the God and Father of the one covenant as well as of the other. 

But this is not saying that in every respect the two covenants are one and the same covenant. The covenant with Noah in distinction from the covenant with Abraham, is definitely covenant between the Lord and the whole earth and its fullness. To call it a covenant of nature is, therefore, not incorrect. It being a covenant of this character, there were definite promises and articles associated with it not directlyassociated with the covenant with Abraham. 

1. The fear of man—Noah and His sons and their seed—will be upon every beast of the earth, upon every fowl of the air and upon all that moveth on the earth, and upon the fishes of the sea. All is delivered into man’s hand. For the ferocious beast may not approach man to destroy him. For how otherwise could the elect be saved and God’s covenant perfected? 

2. Every moving thing that lives is given to man for meat but with this restriction that the flesh of the animal with the soul thereof shall not be eaten. The meaning of this prohibition is known from Lev. 17:10-14, “And whatever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eateth any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people. For the soul of the flesh (of the animal) is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that maketh atonement for the soul . . . And whatsoever man there be of the children of Israel . . . which hunteth and eateth any beast or fowl that may be eaten; lie shall even pour out the blood thereof and cover it with the dust.” According to this Scripture, flesh with the blood was the flesh of an animal that had been killed but whose carcass had not been drained of blood. To eat such flesh was a great sin, the reason being that, according to the above-cited Scripture, the blood was sacred in that it was the blood “that maketh atonement for the soul.” So holy was the blood that it had to be covered with dust after being poured out. 

3. The ordinance that whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed.” So did the Lord also place in the hand of Noah and his seed the sword to curb the bloodthirstiness of the wicked in order that human life might be protected. For God had much people in the humanity to be, and therefore it must be perpetuated on this earth until all the elect are saved out of it. 

4. The mandate to Noah and his three sons and their seed that they be fruitful and multiply and bring forth abundantly in the earth. It is only because this mandate will continually be realized in man by God that man will be fruitful. Through man as His organ God will replenish the earth, His purpose again being the perfection of His covenant between Himself as the triune Jehovah and Christ and His people. 

5. The waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh, but while the earth remaineth seedtime etc. shall not cease and this for the same purpose as that just mentioned under 4. All serves the salvation of the church to His glory. 

The reprobated humanity will also profit from these ordinances of the covenant with Noah. But this can be no ground for saying that this covenant was between. God and the reprobated also. For this profit will be unto them not a blessing bit a curse and will also be meant- as a curse. God will send rain and sunshine also upon their farms but only in His wrath. And at the second appearing of Christ, when the elements will melt and all the works of men will burn, the earth will be permanently cleansed of them. 

A terrible theology you say? The God of the Scriptures, the God and Father of Christ, is a terrible God, who does terrible things in righteousness. This is what He says of Himself in His word. A terrible theology? It is the theology of the Scriptures. And no one thus far has been able to show that it is not the theology of the Scriptures. Yes, a terrible theology but as glorious as it is terrible.