« PreviousContinue »
relied on are these, Matt. i. 21, Thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins. John x. 15, I lay down my life for my sheep. John xi. 5, Jesus died, that he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abrond ; and such like.
Reply 17. From the aforesaid testimonies, and others which are similar, it is well concluded that the death of
Christ, according to the will of God in sending his Son, • and of the Son in offering himself, pertains in a special manner to the peculiar people who are known only to God, that is, to the elect. But that special mode is of this kind, that he cannot be said to have died for these alone, but he died for these only with the certain, eternal, gratuitous purpose of infallibly saving them, through the free gift of his special mercy flowing from some special providence, which we call predestination. But from testimonies of this kind, which refer to certain persons, the death of Christ, not considered simply, but complicated with the decree of secret predestination, it is wrongly inferred, that this death does not pertain to all men in some general way. But the general mode is of this kind, that we should acknowledge that Christ died for the whole human race, with an evangelical covenant, and that a most sure one, concerning expiating sins and conferring eternal life on each and every man, provided they should embrace this Redeemer of the world with a true faith. And hence it is, that although some passages occur in the holy Scriptures, in which Christ is said to have died for the elect, or for his own peculiar people, yet none occur in which it is denied that he died for any persons, many occur in which it is asserted that he died for all. For the Spirit of God was willing to shew to those that believed in the death of Christ the special privilege of the elect, but he was unwilling to overwhelm in silence the common privilege of the human race in the same death of Christ. It is our part, therefore, to leave to God the decree of his secret predestination, according to which he determined how far, and to whom, he will effectually apply this death of Christ by the gift of his special grace; and in the mean time, to
acknowledge with grateful minds the sum of his revealed Gospel, which promulgates That one died for all, that whosoever should believe in him may have eternal life. On this subject Ambrose says (In Luc. lib. vi. cap. 7), Although Christ suffered for all, yet he suffered especially for us, because he suffered for his Church. Aud so far we have laid before you our first proposition, explained, confirmed, and vindicated from objections to the contrary. We have been the longer in treating of it, because (as it was observed) it contains the chief part of the matter, and opens the way to resolve the rest, in the discussion of which we shall be much shorter. Let us, therefore, proceed to the second proposition.
THE SECOND PROPOSITION STATED, EXPLAINED,
IN our first proposition we endeavoured to shew that the death or merit of Christ was appointed by God, proposed in the holy Scriptures, and to be considered by us, as an universal remedy applicable to all men for salvation from the ordination of God. And on this account we hesitate not to assert that Christ died for all men, inasmuch as he endured death, by the merit and virtue of which all men individually who obey the Gospel may be delivered from death and cbtain eternal salvation. But because some persons in such a way concede that Christ died for all men, that with the same breath they assert that he died for the elect alone, and so expound that received distinction of Divines, That he died for all sufficiently, but for the elect effectually, that they entirely extinguish the first part of the sentence; we will lay down a second proposition, which will afford an occasion of discussing that subject expressly, which we have hitherto only glanced at slightly by the way. This second proposition, therefore, shall be reduced into this form ; if it is rather prolix, pardon it. The death of Christ is the universal cause of the salvation of mankind, and Christ himself is acknowledged to have died for all men sufficiently, not by reason of the mere sufficiency or of the intrinsic value, according to which the death of God is a price more than sufficient for redeeming a thousand worlds ; but by reason of the Evangelical covenant confirmed with the whole human race through the merit of this death, and of the Divine ordination depending upon it, according to which, under the possible condition of faith, remission of sins and eternal life is decreed to be set before every mortal mun who will believe it, on account of the merits of Christ. In handling this proposition we shall do two things. First, we shall explain some of the terms. Secondly, we shall divide our proposition into certain parts, and establish them separately by some arguments.
In the first place, therefore, is to be explained, what we mean by mere sufficiency, and what by that which is commonly admitted by Divines, That Christ died for all suficiently. If we speak of the price of redemption, that ransom is to be acknowledged sufficient which exactly answers to the debt of the captive; or which satisfies the demand of him who has the power of liberating the captive. The equality of one thing to another, or to the demands of him who has power over the captive, constitutes what we call this mere sufficiency. This shall be illustrated by examples. Suppose my brother was detained in prison for a debt of a thousand pounds. If I have in my possession so many pounds, I can truly affirm that this money is sufficient to pay the debt of my brother, and to free him from it. But while it is not offered for him, the mere sufficiency of the thing is understood, and estimated only from the value of it, the act of offering that ransom being wanting, without which the aforesaid sufficiency effects nothing. For the same reason, if many persons should be capitally condemned for the crime of high treason, and the king himself against whom this crime was committed should agree that he would be reconciled to all for whom his son should think fit to suffer death : Now the death of the Son, according to the agreement, is appointed to be a sufficient ransom for redeeming all those for whom it should be offered. But if there should be any for whom that ransom should not be offered, as to those it has only a mere sufficiency, which is supposed from the value of the thing considered in itself, and not that which is understood from the act of offering. To these things I add, If we admit the aforesaid ransom not only to be sufficient from the equality of one thing to the other, and from his demand, who requires nothing more for the redemption of the cap. tives; but also to be greater and better in an infinite degree, and to exceed all their debts, yet if there should not be added to this the intention and act of offering for certain captives, although such a ransom should be ever so copious and superabundant, considered in itself and from its intrinsic value, yet what was said of the sufficiency may be said of the superabundance, that there was a mere superabundance of the thing, but that it effected nothing as yet for the liberation of the persons aforesaid. Now to this mere sufficiency, which regards nothing else than the equal or superabundant worth of the appointed price of redemption, I oppose another, which, for the sake of perspicuity, I shall call ordained sufficiency. This is understood when the thing which has respect to the ransom, or redemption price, is not only equivalent to, or superior in value to the thing redeemed, but also is ordained for its redemption by some wish to offer or actual offering. Thus a thousand talents laid up in the treasury of a prince are said to be a sufficient ransom to redeem ten citizens taken captive by an enemy; but if there is not an intention to offer, and an actual offering and giving these talents for those captives, or for some of them, then a mere and not an ordained sufficiency of the thing is supposed as to those persons for whom it is not given. But if you add the act and intention offering them for the liberation of certain persons, then the ordained sufficiency is asserted as to them alone. Further, this ordained sufficiency of the ransom for the redemption of a captive may be twofold: Absolute ; when there is such an agreement between him who gives and him who receives this price of redemption for the liberation of the captives, that as soon as the price is paid, on the act of payment the captives are immediately delivered. Conditional; when the price is accepted, not that it may be paid immediately, and the captive be restored to liberty; but that he should be delivered under a condition if he should first do something or other. When we say that Christ died sufficiently for all, we do not understand the mere sufficiency of the thing with a defect of the oblation as to the greater part of mankind, but that ordained sufficiency, which has the intent and act of offering joined to it, VOL. II.