Page images
PDF
EPUB

and that for all ; but with the conditional, and not the absolute ordination which we have expressed. In one word, when we affirm that Christ died for all sufficiently, we mean, That there was in the sacrifice itself a sufficiency or equivalency, yea, a superabundance of price or dignity, if it should be compared to the whole human race; that both in the offering and the accepting there was a kind of ordination, according to which the aforesaid sacrifice was offered and accepted for the redemption of all mankind. This may suffice for the explanation of the first term.

Secondly; That is also to be explained, which is stated in the proposition ; namely, That through the merit of the death of Christ, a new covenant was entered into between God and the human race. By this covenant we understand that which is urged by the Apostle, Gal. iji. Believe, and thou shall live, and is opposed to the legal command, Do this and thou shalt live. This agreement, which promises salvation to every sinner under the condition of faith, has no foundation or confirmation any where else than in the blood of the Mediator; without the effusion of which no mortal man could aspire to eternal life, not even though believing. But through the death of Christ having been accepted by God as a ransom, now it is lawful for any man in. discriminately to ascend into heaven by belicving, as the Apostle shews in Romans iii. 21 to 26; and Christ himself, Mark xvi. 15, Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. Therefore in this evangelical covenant, confirmed by the death of Christ, which the Apostles published to the whole world, and the ministers of the Gospel preach at the present time, there is no difference of persons made. As well Esau shall be saved, if he should believe in the Messiah, as Jacob shall be condemned if he should not believe. But it is to be confessed, that there is also another ordination of God, secret and absolute, regarding certain definite persons, and founded likewise on the death of Christ, which obtains the name of the new covenant. But this is understood rather as agreed upon between God the Father and Christ, than between God and us. For it is that which is related by the Pro

phet Isaiah (liji. 10), When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed; and is explained by the Apostle, Heb. viii. 10, This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel ; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts, and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people, &c. As if he should say, That Christ by his death not only established that conditional covenant which may be published to all men individually in this form, If thou shalt believe, whosoever thou art, thou shalt be saved through the death of Christ, but also that secret and absolute covenant concerning the giving of faith to certain persons and infallibly saving them through Christ and for his sake. But it is to be observed, That this latter covenant is known to Christ alone, nor can it be opened to any one by the ministers of Christ, as to the individual persons whom it embraces. For the Apostles themselves could, and we can preach to every man that conditional and revealed covenant, If thou shalt believe, thou shalt be saved. But neither could they, nor can we proinise infallibly to any one, Thou art one of those whom God gave to Christ the Mediator, and to whom, through Christ and for his sake, he will give persevering faith, and will infallibly lead to eternal life. For this would be the same as if we should declare that we were in the councils of God before the foundations of the world were laid, and could point out with our finger the elect and the non-elect. Without this latter covenant, which is more properly understood to be established between God and men, that first conditional covenant would be in vain to all men through human depravity, and the precious and infinitely meritorious blood of Christ would flow in vain. But since, as it was said, God alone knows them to whom this covenant has regard, it is our business to urge and press that first conditional covenant, which is revealed to us; and this is that which we contend was confirmed by the death of Christ with the whole human race. Lastly, it is to be observed, although that conditional covenant is not actually made known to all men, yet it is of such a kind, that it may be divulged. VOL. II.

2 D 2

and announced to every mortal; although every one will not claim for themselves their right in this covenant, yet there is no one to whom it is not lawful, through the merit of the death of Christ, to proinise this to himself and to claim it according to the covenant, If I believe, I shall be sared. It is established, as to all men individually, but through some special kind of providence of God over. ruling it, it is revealed and made known to some and not to others.

It remains, in the third place, that we should explain what was laid down in the proposition, respecting the Di. vine ordination depending on the aforesaid cove..ant, according to which, remission of sins and eternal life is decreed to be erhibited to every man, under the possible condition of faith. And here that only needs explanation which we affirm, that the condition of faith is possible to every one. We would not then that this should be so understood as if every one had in hiinself an internal and proportionate natural principle for eliciting the act of true and living faith. For this was the error of Faustus, of Rhegium, and the Semipelagians, who ascribe faith to free-will, and dream that the gift of faith is as it were naturally inborn and inherent in them. To this those words of Faustus have respect (lib. 2. De lib. arbitr. cap. 6), You see that the benefit of believing is not a new privilege, but an old one ; and that, at the very beginning of the world, as the mind of man was endowed by its ercellent Author with understanding and reason, so also was it with faith. And lest any should think that this gift of faith was lost in fallen man, he adds a little afterwards (cap. 7), That cvery follower of virtue should cultivate in himself this general gift of faith with special diligence. See more on this opinion in the work itself. Although, therefore, he calls faith a gift, yet he intimates that it is a natural and general gift, as though it were possible to elicit this act of believing by the power of free-will. But from this we are altogether averse, nor have we regard to this in saying that the condition of faith is possible. Moreover, neither do we found this possibility of believing in any supernatural gift received by all. For we dare not maintain, that gratuitous assistance sufficient to produce the act of believing is given to all, since the Scripture itself teaches, in a manner sufficiently clear, that faith is the special gift of God. This, therefore, is disallowed, since, with the most learned Bannesius (in Quest. 23, Ars. 3. Concl. 8) we found the possibility of performing this condition neither on any natural and innate gift, nor on a supernatural gift received by all; but in a supernatural gift to be received possibly by any living person, according to ordinary law, as the Schoolmen observe. These things being thus expounded and determined, I will now divide the aforesaid proposition into three parts, which I will confirm separately by the reasons to be alleged.

First. The mere sufficiency of the death of Christ, which is estimaled only by the intrinsic value of this ransom, without that ordained sufficiency which arises from the intention and act of offering, is not so far available that Christ may be truly said to have died for all men sufficiently. I have thought that this proposition should be laid down for the sake of those who strenuously maintain that Christ died for the elect alone, and yet (which I confess I am too dull to understand) admit that Christ died for all sufficiently, and sometimes greatly exaggerate this sufficiency as extending itself to all mankind. They profess, indeed, that Christ died for all men, for all orders, stutes, and kinds of men, yea also for individual persons as to the sufficiency of his merits. (Contra rem. Collat. p. 104, & Status Controv. p. 144.) The Veteranici, in their judgment exhibited to the Synod of Dort, write thus (Acta Synod. Dordr. p. 99) When Christ is said to have died for all, this may be understood of the sufficiency of his merit, or the greatness of the price. Since the death of the Son of God is the only perfect and sufficient ransom for expiating and blotting out all the sins of the whole world: the immense merit of righteousness, the universal medicine of death, the eternal fountain of life, &c. · A little after, This sufficiency of the ransom as to the reprobate, hus a double end, one in itself, the other uccidentally. The end in itself is, that God testifies that he delights not in the perdition of the wicked, since he gave his only begotten Son, that whosvever believeth in

him should not perish, but have everlasting life. The accidental end is, that by this sufficiency of the ransom they might be rendered inexcusable. For these perish, not through the fault of Christ, but of themselves, when, through their own unbelief, they refuse the benefits of Christ offered in the Gospel. So far their opinion. I deny that this sufficiency of the death of Christ for reconciling all men can be rightly conceived from the mere sufficiency of the thing offered, unless there be added the ordained sufficiency from the act of offering. Which may be proved thus :

ARGUMENT Ist. When we say that Christ died sufficiently for all men, we say nothing else than that he was offered up sufficiently for all men, or that he gave himself as a ransom or price of redemption sufficiently for all men. But to die for all, or to be offered up for all, or to give himself for all, designates the act of dying, or of offering up himself to deliver all, completed by some ordination. Therefore, the sufficiency of the ransom alone, without the intention and act of offering accomplished as to the persons, cannot make this assertion true. Christ died sufficiently for all. But common sense refuses that it should be granted that he died sufficiently for all, who is denied to have died or to have been offered up for some. But granting the intrinsic sufficiency of the ransom to redeem a thousand worlds, at the same time it must be granted that this same ransom is not yet offered in any way for many men, nor yet offered up sufficiently. For as ten thousand pounds are enough, and more than sufficient to liberate five debtors, who each owe two hundred pounds; yet if this entire sum should be offered and paid to the creditor for two only by name, the other three being excluded, the sufficiency and superabundance of this ransom in itself will not effect, that it may be said to be given and paid sufficiently for those three : thus, in this common cause of the human race, although the precious blood of Christ be a ransom more than sufficient for blotting out the debts of every individual, yet it cannot be from thence inferred that he was sufficiently offered for them, who, in the very act of offering, are openly excluded. Therefore,

« PreviousContinue »