THE FEDERAL THEOLOGY OF NEHEMIAH COXE: The Covenant of Grace
Covenant of Grace: The Programmatic Function of Genesis 3:15
Coxe sees the covenant of grace introduced via the promise of the gospel first revealed in Genesis 3:15. The 2nd LCF (1677), 7:3 says, “This Covenant [the covenant of grace in context; cf. 7:2] is revealed in the Gospel; first of all to Adam in the promise of Salvation by the seed of the woman…” In his Discourse of the Covenants, Coxe says:
11. It was from this design of love and mercy that when the Lord God came to fallen man in the garden in the cool of the day, and found him filled with horror and shame in the consciousness of his own guilt, he did not execute the rigor of the law on him. Instead he held a treaty with him which issued in a discovery of grace. By this a door of hope was opened to him in the laying of a new foundation for his acceptance with God and walking well pleasing before him.
1. For in the sentence passed on the serpent (which principally involved the Devil whose instrument he had been in tempting man, and who probably was made to abide in his possession of the serpent until he had received this doom, Genesis 3:15) there was couched a blessed promise of redemption and salvation to man. This was to be worked out by the Son of God made of a woman, and so her seed, and man was to receive the promised salvation by faith and to hope in it. In this implied promise was laid the first foundation of the church after the fall of man which was to be raised up out of the ruins of the Devil’s kingdom by the destruction of his work by Jesus Christ (1 John 3:8).
Later Coxe adds:
From the first dawning of the blessed light of God’s grace to poor sinners faintly displayed in the promise intimated in Genesis 3:15, the redeemed of the Lord were brought into a new relation to God, in and by Christ the promised seed, through faith in him as revealed in that promise.
This understanding of Genesis 3:15 gives Coxe’s work a Christocentric flavor from the beginning. In the first paragraph, he says:
The great interest of man’s present peace and eternal happiness is most closely concerned in religion. And all true religion since the fall of man must be taught by divine revelation which God by diverse parts and after a diverse manner has given out to his church. He caused this light gradually to increase until the whole mystery of his grace was perfectly revealed in and by Jesus Christ in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. God, whose works were all known by him from the beginning, has in all ages disposed and ordered the revelation of his will to men, his transactions with them, and all the works of his holy providence toward them, with reference to the fullness of time and the gathering of all things to a head in Christ Jesus. So in all our search after the mind of God in the Holy Scriptures we are to manage our inquiries with reference to Christ. Therefore the best interpreter of the Old Testament is the Holy Spirit speaking to us in the new. There we have the clearest light of the knowledge of the glory of God shining on us in the face of Jesus Christ, by unveiling those counsels of love and grace that were hidden from former ages and generations.
Not only is this statement programmatic for a Christocentric understanding of Scripture, it also reflects the fact that Coxe viewed special revelation as progressive. The 2nd LCF, 7:2 says, “This covenant is revealed in the Gospel; first of all to Adam in the promise of Salvation by the seed of the woman, and afterwards by farther steps, until the full discovery thereof was completed in the new Testament.” Coxe saw Christ as the hermeneutical center and focal-point of the whole Bible (i.e, scopus Scripturae [the scope or target of Scripture]).
 Cf. A Confession of Faith Put Forth by the Elders and Brethren of many Congregations of Christians (baptized upon Profession of their Faith) in London and the Country, Printed in the Year, 1677 (Auburn, MA: B&R Press, Facsimile edition, 2000), 27.  Coxe and Owen, Covenant Theology, 55.  Coxe and Owen, Covenant Theology, 59.  Here he is dependent upon Beza. Cf. Coxe and Owen, Covenant Theology, 33, n. 1.  Coxe and Owen, Covenant Theology, 33.