Sum of Saving Knowledge

on 01 February 2024 by David Dickson

The entire Sum Of Saving Knowledge can be read on monergism

Translated and published in Polish with permission from


                                        THE SUM OF SAVING KNOWLEDGE

                                              THE SUM OF SAVING KNOWLEDGE may be taken up in those four heads:


                       1. The woeful condition wherein all men are by nature, through breaking of the Covenant of Works.

                       2. The remedy provided for the elect in Jesus Christ by the Covenant of Grace.

                       3. The means appointed to make them partakers of this covenant.

                       4. The blessings which are effectually conveyed unto the elect by these means.


                                                 Which four heads are set down each of them in some few propositions.


HEAD I Our woeful condition by nature, through breaking the Covenant of Works.

O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself. - Hos. xiii. 9. 

I. THE almighty and eternal God; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, three distinct persons in the one and the same undivided Godhead, equally infinite in all perfections; did, before time, most wisely decree, for his own glory, whatsoever cometh to pass in time: and doth most holily and infallibly execute all his decrees, without being partaker of the sin of any creature.

II. This God, in six days, made all things of nothing, very good in their own kind: in special, he made all the angels holy; and he made our first parents, Adam and Eve, the root of mankind, both upright and able to keep the law written in their heart. Which law they were naturally bound to obey under pain of death; but God was not bound to reward their service, till he entered into a covenant or contract with them, and their posterity in them, to give them eternal life, upon condition of perfect personal obedience; withal threatening death in case they should fail. This is the Covenant of Works.

III. Both angels and men were subject to the change of their own freewill, as experience proved, (God having reserved to himself the incommunicable property of being naturally unchangeable:) for many angels of their own accord fell by sin from their first estate, and became devils. Our first parents, being enticed by Satan, one of these devils speaking in a serpent, did break the Covenant of Works, in eating the forbidden fruit; whereby they, and their posterity, being in their loins, as branches in the root, and comprehended in the same covenant with them, became not only liable to eternal death, but also lost all ability to please God; yea, did become by nature enemies to God, and to all spiritual good, and inclined only to evil continually. This is our Original Sin, the bitter root of all our actual transgressions, in thought, word, and deed.


HEAD II The remedy provided in Jesus Christ for the elect by the Covenant of Grace.

O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help. - Hos. xiii. 9.

I. ALBEIT man, having brought himself into this woeful condition, be neither able to help himself, nor willing to be helped by God out of it, but rather inclined to lie still, insensible of it, till he perish; yet God, for the glory of his rich grace, hath revealed in his word a way to save sinners; viz., by faith in Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God; by virtue of, and according to the tenor of the Covenant of Redemption, made and. agreed upon between God the Father and God the Son, in the council of the Trinity, before the world began.

II. The sum of the Covenant of Redemption is this: God having freely chosen unto life a certain number of lost mankind; for the glory of his rich grace, did give them, before the world began, unto God the Son, appointed Redeemer; that, upon condition he would humble himself so far as to assume the human nature, of a soul and a body, unto personal union with his divine nature, and submit himself to the law, as surety for them, and satisfy justice for them, by giving obedience in their name, even unto the suffering of the cursed death of the cross, he should ransom and redeem them all from sin and death, and purchase unto them righteousness and eternal life, with all saving graces leading thereunto, to be effectually, by means of his own appointment, applied in due time to every one of them. This condition the Son of God (who is Jesus Christ our Lord) did accept before the world began, and in the fulness of time came into the world, was born of the Virgin Mary, subjected himself to the law, and completely paid the ransom on the cross: But by virtue of the foresaid bargain, made before the world began, he is in all ages, since the fall of Adam, still upon the work of applying actually the purchased benefits unto the elect; and that he doth by way of entertaining a covenant of free grace and reconciliation with them, through, faith in himself; by which covenant, he makes over to every believer a right and interest to himself, and to all his blessings.

III. For the accomplishment of this Covenant of Redemption, and making the elect partakers of the benefits thereof in the Covenant of Grace, Christ Jesus was clad with the threefold office of Prophet, Priest, and King:

made a Prophet, to reveal all saving knowledge to his people, and to persuade them to believe and obey the same;

made a Priest, to offer up himself a sacrifice once for them all, and to intercede continually with the Father, for making their persons and services acceptable to him;

and made a King, to subdue them to himself, to feed and rule them by his own appointed ordinances, and to defend them from their enemies.

author image
David Dickson was pesbyterian theologian and minister of the Church of Scotland. Co-author of The Directory of Public Worship, which is part of the Westminster Standards, and The Sum of Saving Knowledge.