Page images

But what we can do through Christ, we receive the power of doing on account of the merit of Christ, which is not given to any man without the antecedent and special intention of Christ, who died and merited it. Therefore, whoever has obtained this most excellent benefit, that he should have the merit of Christ applied to himself effectually, ought to confess, that he has received the power of applying it more than others, from the special kindness of God and Christ, who intended, destined, and applied this his own merit especially to that person. Thus the event of the beneficial application of it in the predestinated, demonstrates that there was in Christ, who offered himself, and in God, who accepted this sacrifice, a special and effectual intention of its application to the predestinated. And this is that singular privilege of the elect in the death of Christ which we have endeavoured to establish by our proposition.

ARGUMENT 9. If it is asserted, that the death of Christ, according to the appointment of God and the intention of Christ, has not merited the effectual application and infallible attainment of salvation which flows from it to those who are predestivated, it will improperly follow, that the merit of the Mediator, according to the will and intention of the Father who accepted it, and of the Son who exhibited it, did not more regard those who are elected than those who are passed by, but pertains equally to both. The consequence is plain, because it is evident, That according to the will of God, the merit of Christ in dying extends itself to all men on this condition, If they should apply it to themselves by faith. Therefore, unless Christ had intended by his death to merit for the elect, in addition, that the beneficial application should be made to them by faith being given to them, no special privilege would be given to them in the merit of Christ. For the death of Christ, according to the appointment of God, merited this for Judas, that on the condition of faith he might attain to eternal life; but it obtained in addition for Peter, that on account of the merit of Christ he should receive persevering faith and all other spiritual benefits

which are required in order infallibly to obtain eternal life. And to this the reasoning of the Apostle has respect (Rom. viii. 32,) where he discourses of the privileges of those who are predestinated, He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? In which passage as he had before intimated some special calling of the predestined, which he named a calling according to purpose, so also he marks some special oblation of Christ for these predestinated persons, which may be called an oblation according to purpose, that is, with a certain purpose of conferring effectual grace on the elect, and infallibly leading them to life by the merit of this death. Those who take away this distinction in the design of God, as to the death of Christ, considered in relation to those who are elected and those who are passed by, as Bannes truly says (in 1, quæst. 23, art. 5, p. 296, 297,) Declure that the merit of Christ is in no degree more perfect as a cause of salvation to the predestinate than to the reprobate. Because, as to the sufficiency of his merit, it equally regards all men ; but the difference is in this, that his meril is applied to some, but not to others. Therefore if the application as to the elect is not derived from the merit of Christ, his merit will have an equal regard to the predestinate and the reprobate.

ARGUMENT 10. If Christ did not offer himself to God the Father with some peculiar and absolute will of redeeming and effectually saving the elect by the merit of his death, then effectual grace and eternal life would not be otherwise prepared for or given to any persons in Christ than it was in Adam. For the possibility of having grace and eternal life on a condition depending upon our freewill, was granted to the human race through the first Adam. If, therefore, Christ did not by his death merit grace and life for any persons absolutely, but for all promiscuously, on this uncertain condition, If they should receive grace offered, and believe in him, and persevere in faith, and at the same time commits and leaves to the free-will of each whether he is willing to believe and to persevere or not, truly, as to the manner and uncertainty of obtaining

effectual grace and eternal life, we should be in no better condition through Christ, than we were by Adam. But this is opposite to the holy Scripture, which suspends grace and eternal life, as prepared and given through Christ, to all who are to be saved, on the certain purpose of the good pleasure of God, and not on the contingent motion of the human will; which is shewn in the controversy concerning election and preterition. It is opposite also to the opinion of the orthodox Fathers, who opposed the Pelagians, and especially that of Augustine (de corrept. & grat. cap. 11,) where, when he had shewn what that grace was which was given in the first Adam, he speaks thus concerning the grace prepared and given through Christ to the predestinated : So much more help of grace is given by Jesus Christ, to those to whom it hath pleased God to give it, that not only that is bestowed without which we cannot stand, even if we would, but also so much and such grace is bestowed, that we are willing. There is truly in us, through this grace of God, not only power to do what we will in receiving and perseveringly retaining the benefit, but also power to will what we are enabled to do. This grace, which is given for Christ's sake to the elect alone, and which produces in them alone the effect of a beneficial application and salvation, does not flow to them from any special operation of the human will, but from the special decree of the Divine will, through the medium of the merit of Christ. Therefore the merit of Christ was in some special way destined for them by God, and is applied to them by Christ himself.

ARGUMENT 11. That opinion is to be rejected by us which is either altogether the same, or at least is closely allied with the condemned opinion of the Pelagians: but the opinion of those who assert that the death of Christ, as to the Divine will and intention, is equally the same to all as to its efficacy, but that it arises from the human will that it is eventually effectual and beneficial to some, comes as near as possible to Pelagius. But the orthodox having been stirred up to an accurate consideration of this thing by Pelagius, always taught, on the contrary, That a bene

ficial or effectual application of the merits of Christ depends on the grace of predestination, by which faith and a good will is mercifully conferred upon some, though denied to others by the just judgment of God. As to Pelagius, that he transferred the benefit of the death of Christ, that is, eternal life, from the special intention of God, to the special operation of the human will, appears from the epistle of Prosper to Augustine. It appears also from the epistle of Hilary to Augustine, in which the Remnants of the Pelagians express their opinion that eternal life is so proposed and set before all men, through the death of Christ, that they altogether deny any singular or special purpose of God concerning the salvation of the elect through the death of Christ, and refer to the human will the whole distinction between those who are saved through the death of Christ, and those who are not saved. But, on the other hand, that the orthodox acknowledged a special and secret purpose of God in accepting the sacrifice of the death of Christ, and of Christ in offering it, concerning its effectual and beneficial application to certain persons, is not less evident from the books of Augustine, On the predestination of the saints, On the benefit of perseverance, and others written against the Pelagians and Semipelagians; in which this conclusion concerning the special will of God in saving the elect through Christ, is the primary, if not the only one. The same may be said of Prosper and Fulgentius, who every where refer the effectual obtaining of salvation to the effectual and special will of God in destining Christ in a special manner to the elect, and not to the free-will of men in applying the death and merits of Christ to theinselves, as it may happen.

ARGUMENT 12. But lest we should seem to contend with empty names, our last argument is derived from the express testimonies of the Fathers, and of modern writers, who assign to the predestinated a special prerogative in the death of Christ; which is nothing else than an infallible attainment of grace and glory, according to the special appointment of God, derived from the merit of Christ in

dying and offering himself with a special regard for them. And first from St. Augustine :

Test. ). This is an eminent testimony in Johan. tract. 48, p. 352, tom. 9,) How did he say to them, Ye are not of my sheep? Because he saw that they were predestinated to eternal perdition, not purchased with the price of his blood to eternal life. A little after, Of those sheep, neither the wolf seizes, nor the thief steals, nor the robber kills any one. He who knows what he gave for them, is secure of every one of their number. From which words we collect two things : first, That our Saviour offered the price of his own blood in some special way for the redemption of the predestinated; in such a way indeed, as that from thence follows their infallible salvation. Secondly, That he did not offer his blood in the same way for those who were passed by, or not predestinated; from whence they are denied to have been purchased with the price of his blood in order to eternal life: which is to be understood of an absolute and effectual ordination to eternal life to be completed and brought into act by the death of Christ.

Test. 2. To this testimony another is allied (Serm. 50, de verbis Domini, p. 194, tom. 10,) The predestinated were not yet gathered together ; but he knew them who had predestinated them; he knew them who had come to redeem them with his own blood. He saw them, though they did not yet see him ; he knew them, though they did not yet believe in him. What is more plain, than that Christ came into the world, that he might redeem the predestinate with his own blood, and that he redeemed those who were effectually and infallibly to be brought to the participation of eternal life ; in which way he never determined with himself to redeem the nonelect.

Test. 3. The third testimony of the same Augustine, we shall produce from his book, (de natura & grat. cap. 5) which is as follows, Those who are delivered, are not called vessels of their own merits, but vessels of mercy. Of whose mercy but his, who sent Christ Jesus into this world to save sinners ? whom he foreknew, and predestinated, and called, and

« PreviousContinue »