Page images

self could not deny that the redemption completed on the cross pertains in some peculiar way to the elect. For thus he speaks (in Amica duplic. p. 230) It appears that the word redemption may be applied in a different sense to many species of the same genus ; and therefore it may be properly said, that some only, and not all, were redeemed in some special way or peculiur sense, and so it is usually said in the holy Scriptures. Again (page 235,) answering a passage produced from Heb. xiii. 20, in which Christ is called The great Shep. herd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, he grants, that Christ is the Shepherd of these sheep, and indeed of these only, in a peculiar way, namely, as to the saving and spiritual act of feeding them, which contains the actual gift of the Holy Spirit ; and also as to some special ac

den. Having accepted this offer, he soon became involved in the controversial war which raged in the Netherlands; and the Gomarists, or rigid Calvinists, taking advantage of a book which he had lately published, entitled, Tractatus Theologicus de Deo, sive de Natura et Attributiis Dei, they accused him of heresy, and engaged several foreign Universities in the party. In particular, they obtained the aid of our own James I., who, on receiving the book of Vorstius, in an hour's time drew up a large Catalogue of heresies from it, which he sent to his minister at the Hague, with an order to certify to the States how much he detested those alleged errors. He also caused his book to be burnt in London ; and informed the States, who had sent a doubtful reply that they would inquire into the case, that if they did not dismiss Vorstius, none of his subjects should visit Leyden. James moreover wrote against Vorstius, who respectfully replied; all which would not have prevailed upon the States to dismiss him, but for the untimely appearance of a book by some of his disciples, entitled, De Officio Christiani Hominis, which contained some Anti-trinitarian doctrines; and although formally disclaimed by Vorstius, so much odium was thereby ex. cited against hin, that he provisionally resigned the professorship, from which, by the Synod of Dort, he was entirely dismissed, and banished by the States of Holland from their territories. He lived for more than two years in secrecy, frequently changing his abode in fear for his life, until in 1623 the Duke of Holstein collected the dispersed followers of Arminianism, and assigned them a spot of ground for building a city. To this place Vor. stius retired, but died soon after at Toningen, in Sept. 1622, at the age of 63. According to Bayle and Sandius, the opinions of this theologian probably leaned towards Socinianism, or at least he dogmatized on the attributes of God in a manner which was quite unusual at the period. The Reader who desires to see a more ample account of him and his opinions, may con. sult Nichols's Life of Arminius with advantage, Appendix P. pp. 202 236. VOL. II.

2 N 2

quisition of these sheep. I ask, what this is which Vorstius concedes to us, when he grants, that not all, but some, were redeemed by the death of Christ in a special way and peculiar sense ? and when he says, that Christ is the Shepherd of his sheep in a peculiar manner, as to some special acquisition of them? If he means nothing more than that in the event the benefit of redemption pertains to some, that is, to those that believe, in a special and peculiar way, according to the different acts of the human will, he merely trifles, and does not at all answer the testimonies brought against him. For all those passages, He purchased the church with his own blood : he is the Saviour of the body; he laid down his life for the sheep: he died that he might gather together in one the children of God: these, and such like texts, do not point out any special works of the Church, the body, or the sheep; but the special intention and operation of the Husband, the Head, the Shepherd, respecting this Church, this body, these sheep, by his special will determining and procuring their salvation by the virtue and merit of his death.

Against all these things which we have discussed respecting the special intention of Christ in dying being referred and restricted to the elect, and concerning the saving application of the death of Christ depending upon and flowing from that intention, it may be urged by way of

OBJECTION, 1. If it is granted that in the oblation of Christ there was such an intention limited to the elect, so as that an effectual application and infallible salvation is obtained for them, then we seem to refer their justification and salvation not so much to the good pleasure and special mercy of God, as to some kind of justice. For if it should be inquired, why Peter rather than Judas received effectual grace and salvation from the merit of the death of Christ? it will be answered, according to our opinion, Because Christ, by his special intention, and by the application of his merits, merited that for Peter which he did not merit for Judas. But that which is given, from the merits of Christ being peculiarly applied to any person, does not seem to be given merely from the mercy of the

good pleasure of God, but rather from justice : because it is just that what Christ hath merited for these or those persons, should be specially assigned to them. But this seems to contradict the Apostle, who derives grace, and the infallible salvation of the predestinate, from the mere favour of God.

Reply. There is no opposition between these two opinions, God justifies and saves Peter of pure grace, or of his own mere good pleasure, and, God justifies and saves Peter in consideration of the merits of Christ being specially ordained and accepted for the salvation of Peter. The reason of this is plain, Because God, who, of his own mere good pleasure and pure mercy, determined to give faith and salvation to Peter, determined at the same time not to give to him these things otherwise than through and on account of the merits of Christ, destined for and given to Peter in some singular way, and that from the same good pleasure and pure mercy. This good pleasure of God is opposed to our merits, and is accomplished, not made void by the merits of Christ being applied to us. From whence the Apostle (Heb. xiii. 21) says, that God works in us that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ. Therefore, although it is of the mere good pleasure of God, that he is willing to grant to Peter effectual grace and salvation, yet this good pleasure is not accomplished otherwise than through. the merits of Christ. This, then, is the sum of our reply; Although every work of special grace which is done in the elect is done on account of the merits of Christ being specially applied to them, yet in their justification and salvation is seen the true way of mercy, and not of justice; because Christ with his merits, with this very mode of meriting and offering his merits, some special regard being had to the elect, the whole of this, I say, derives its origin from the gratuitous good will of God towards them.

OBJECTION 2. If we admit that the elect obtain effectual grace or saving faith because the death and merit of Christ in suffering on the cross was applied to them by some special intention, then we seemn to admit that the merits of the passion of Christ were imputed or applied to some men before they believed. But this is contrary to the received opinion of Divines, which asserts that faith is an instrument or medium, without which the merits of the passion of Christ are not applied to individuals. It is pecessary, therefore, that this act of faith should exist, which may have the merits of Christ specially applied or imputed to it. How, then, can this special application of the merits of Christ to the elect, who are not yet made faithful and believing, be applied ?

Reply. In order to meet this objection, let us make the words of the Apostle (Eph. i. 3) the foundation of our remarks, God hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Christ, that is, whatever saving good comes to us from God, is given to us through Cbrist and for the sake of his merits. Therefore, since saving faith itself, which is peculiar to the elect, is to be placed among the chief spiritual blessings, it ought to be granted, that it is given on account of the merits of Christ, to all those to whom it is actually given. Therefore, what Divines commonly say, that faith is the instrument, by means of which the merits of Christ are applied to us, is to be understood of its application, as it is considered on the part of men : For the elect cannot apply to themselves the merits of Christ in order to the reception of any spiritual benefits whatever, unless through faith being first supposed to be in them. But if we consider the application or imputation on the part of God alone, then we say, That God both can and does apply, that is, impute and communicate to men the merits of Christ, so that, from regard to those merits, he gives to them spiritual good things, even when they are reckoned impious and unbelieving. For faith, when it is first given, is not given to a believer, but to an unbeliever; but it is given to the elect on account of the merits of the Mediator. Therefore we must necessarily confess, that none of the elect can, by believing, apply to themselves the merits of Christ in order to the fruition of eternal life, unless God of his special mercy should, on account of the merits of Christ, first give them faith whereby they may

believe. And this is that special application of the merits of Christ, which we affirm pertains to the elect by some peculiar privilege, from the special will of Christ in offering himself, and of God the Father in accepting this sacrifice. Scotus had respect to this in his saying, which is most worthy of observation, That this was the principal thing in the merit of Christ, that he merited that those should be united to him who had not been so before (lib. 3, dist. 19, qu. 1, p. 75). Which is the same as if he had said, that the chief efficacy of the merits of Christ consisted in this, that he merited, that some of those who believed not should actually become believers, and, being united to Christ by faith, should obtain eternal life. This is that special ordination and application of the merits of Christ, which altogether depends on the good pleasure of God, and not on the free-will of men.

OBJECTION 3. If in Christ's offering himself, and God's accepting that sacrifice, there was some special intention of quickening and infallibly saving all the elect, by the virtue and merit of this sacrifice, we seem to exclude from this special privilege the elect under the Old Testament, who were born and died before this sacrifice of Christ was made on the cross.

Reply. As to the argument of general sufficiency or special efficacy, I answer, That the sacrifice of Christ had the sanie virtue under the Old Testament, before the external act of its exhibition, as it had and has under the New Testament, after Christ was really exhibited and offered on the cross. For as, from the special intention of God, special grace is derived to the elect under the New Testament, on account of the merit of this sacrifice now actually offered ; so, from the special will of the same God, special grace flowed to the elect under the Old Testament on account of the merit of the sacrifice afterwards to be offered. For Christ was a Lamb slain from the foundation of the world both in the preparation of his own will, and in the acceptance of the will of the Father. It is, therefore, here to be observed, that there is one kind of cause which operates physically, or naturally, another which operates me

« PreviousContinue »