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ritoriously, or morally. A cause which acts physically, must necessarily be brought into action, before any effect can be produced by virtue of it: but a cause which acts meritoriously, or morally, such as is the passion of Christ, may produce its effect before it actually exists, unless it precedes, at least in his knowledge and acceptance to whom it refers, by regard to him, to dispense the benefits of his grace to men. For in this thing a meritorious cause has some connexion with a final cause, which, though not yet actually existing, but being only foreseen and previously considered, very much moves the agent in doing this or that. In this manner we say that the passion of Christ, and his merits depending upon it, having been foreseen as offered to God, and to be specially applied to Jacob, and not to Esau, were a kind of moving cause to God to give to Jacob that special grace which he denied to Esau. Suares rightly says, (in 3, qu. 49, art. 4, in Comm.) Thut special love by which, on account of the merits of Christ either given or foreseen, God sanctifies and reconciles men to himself, may be included in the merils of Christ, either by his meriting for us the effect of that love, or the love (or election) of God freely bestowed upon us.
OBJECTION 4. Lastly, it may be objected, That it is not consistent, or rather it is altogether incongruous, that God, who willed that the death of Christ, with the rich treasure of his merits included in it, should be equally applicable to all men for the obtaining of eternal life, on condition of faith, was, at the same time, unwilling to prepare and give this faith, on account of the same merits of Christ, equally to all; but should give persevering and saving faith to the elect alone, and that on account of the merits of Christ being limited to and ordained for them by some special will and regard of God.
Reply. I answer, where any Divine act appears, it is rash, I will not say impious, to doubt of its equity or congruity. But we have already demonstrated, that now, by the death of Christ, a covenant was established with the human race, according to the tenor of which, eternal life is promised to every man on condition of faith. Of this
covenant Rupert observes, (in 4, Gen. cap. 34) We say that that covenant, by which alone the enmities were removed which had subsisted between God and men, was many times indeed promised, but once executed, namely, by the passion of Christ the Son of God. For in this, without any contradiction, is a certain foundation of peace, while God, accepting the faith of men, gives to them Christ his Son, that they may be saved by him. Therefore no doubt is to be entertained of this appointment of God, founded on the death and merits of Christ, and having respect to all men individually. But it is still questionable, whether, granting this universal covenant of giving eternal life to all men, if they should believe, God exercises his liberty, and exhibits his special mercy, in giving to the elect that saving faith by which they may believe, and that through Christ, and on account of his merits, applied to them by some peculiar privilege. The thing speaks for itself. For we see that the elect, and the elect alone, eventually obtain from God persevering and saving faith. But suppose that so great a gift were specially given to them in any other way or respect, than on account of the merits of Christ, ordained and applied to them by some special intention of God; it is altogether unlawful to suppose it. For as Ambrose excellently says on Eph. i. 2, (He hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Christ), Every gift of grace is through Christ. These things being settled, although (as I said) it is useless to dispute of the congruity of Divine actions where there is evidence of the facts themselves, yet, that no scruple may be left, we say, first, That this special intention of God, according to which he determined with himself, on account of the merits of Christ, to give to the elect the special benefits of effectual grace and salvation, does not clash with that conditional compact, Whosoever believeth shall be saved, but is rather a kind of special design subordinate to the infallible fulfilment of this universal compact. For those who trust to their own free-will, with some little helps of grace, repel or oppose faith. Lest, therefore, this universal compact should not bring the effect of salvation to any one, God, by a special and secret intention, hath taken care that the merit of the death of Christ should be applied to some for the infallible obtaining of faith and eternal life. Secondly, we say, That it is not unjust or incongruous, that this special intention of an effectual application of the merits of Christ should exbibit its efficacy in some, and not in all men; because, since the death of Christ is a free gift of God bestowed on the human race, the free distribution and application of merits arising from it, ought by all means to depend on the mere will of God. Thirdly, we add, That God, who in the Gospel has promised eternal life to all men individually, on account of the merits of Christ, if they believe, yet has not promised to any unbeliever, that he would give to him, on account of the merits of Christ, infallibly and perseveringly to believe. I ask, then, Where is this inconsistency to be found ? Not with respect to those who believe and are saved; for it is not culpable injustice to give, on account of the merits of Christ, to individual persons what was not promised to them individually, but it is laudable goodness to do this. Not with respect to those who believe not, and perish ; for it is not unjust in itself, nor can it be judged to be inconsistent with the supreme goodness of God, to deny that benefit to any one, which it appears is not in any way due to him.
Therefore, let this be the sum and conclusion of this whole controversy on the death of Christ; That Jesus Christ, the Mediator between God and man, in confirming the evangelical covenant, according to the tenor of which eternal life is due to every one that believeth, made no division or separation of men, so that we can say that any one is excluded from the benefit of his death, if he should believe. And in this sense we contend, in agreement with the Scriptures, the fathers, and solid arguments, that Christ suffered on the cross and died for all men, or for the whole human race. We add, moreover, that this Mediator, when he had determined to lay down his life for sin, had also this special intention, that, by virtue of his merits, he would effectually and infallibly quicken and bring to eternal life, some persons who were specially
given to him by the Father. And in this sense we contend that Christ laid down his life for the elect alone, or in order to purchase bis Church ; that is, that he died for them alone, with the special and certain purpose of effectually regenerating and saving them by the merit of his death. Therefore, although the merit of Christ equally regards all men as to its sufficiency, yet it does not as to its efficacy : which is to be understood, not only on account of the effect produced in one and not in another, but also on account of the will, with which Christ himself merited, and offered his merits, in a different way for different persons. Now, the first cause and source of this diversity, was the election and will of God, to which the human will of Christ conformed itself. And from hence Suares rightly deduces, That this merit of Christ is the very cause of spiritual regeneration, and gives it efficacy, and produces its effect, and at the same time is the cause why that inan is regi nerated, on account of whom he specially offered his merit (in 3, qu. 19, disp. 41, § 2, p. 635.) For our Divines, let that eminently learned man of pious memory, Robert, Bishop of Salisbury, speak. Thus he says, (in Thomson Diatr. p. 94) Although we do not deny that Christ died for all men, yet we believe that he died specially and pecriliarly for the Church, nor does the benefit of redemption pertain in an equal degree to all. And from the peculiarity of this benefit, and from the human will, in some degree depends the etficacy of all means, that they are for those only, and for their use, whom (hrist redeemed with some peculiar regard to their being elected in him. Nor do they oblain the effect, because of being willing, but because God, according to the purpose of his own grace, works in the elect and redeemed to will that to which he chooses them. Therefore, He, who by his death merited eternal life sufficiently for all nen, so as that it is to be given to all, according to the evangelical covenant, if they believe, also merited most effeclually for some, by the peculiar application of his merits, that they should believe, and that they should receive eternal life from the gratuitous gift of God, through and on account