Dr. John Owen (1616-1683)
The Death of Death, Book 1
THE DEATH OF DEATH IN THE DEATH OF CHRIST
by John Owen
A TREATISE OF THE REDEMPTION AND RECONCILIATION THAT IS IN THE BLOOD 0F CHRIST, WITH THE MERIT THEREOF, AND SATISFACTION WROUGHT THEREBY.
In general of the end of the death of Christ, as it is in the Scripture proposed. By the end of the death of Christ, we mean in general, both,–first, that which his Father and himself intended in it; and, secondly, that which was effectually fulfilled and accomplished by it. Concerning either we may take a brief view of the expressions used by the Holy Ghost:–
I. For the first. Will you know the end wherefore, and the intention wherewith, Christ came into the world? Let us ask himself (who knew his own mind, as also all the secrets of his Father’s bosom), and he will tell us that the “Son of man came to save that which was lost,” Matt. 18:11,–to recover and save poor lost sinners; that was his intent and design, as is again asserted, Luke 19:10. Ask also his apostles, who know his mind, and they will tell you the same. So Paul, I Tim. 1:15, “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” Now, if you will ask who these sinners are towards whom he hath this gracious intent and purpose, himself tells you, Matt. 20:28, that he came to “give his life a ransom for many;” in other places called us, believers, distinguished from the world: for be “gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father,” Gal. 1:4. That was the will and intention of God, that he should give himself for us, that we might be saved, being separated from the world. They are his church: Eph. 5:25-27, “He loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish:” which last words express also the very aim and end of Christ in giving himself for any, even that they may be made fit for God, and brought nigh unto him;–the like whereof is also asserted, Tit 2:14, “He gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” Thus clear, then, and apparent, is the intention and design of Christ and his Father in this great work, even what it was, and towards whom,– namely, to save us, to deliver us from the evil world, to purge and wash us, to make us holy, zealous, fruitful in good works, to render us acceptable, and to bring us unto God; for through him “we have access into the grace wherein we stand Rom. 5:2.
II. The effect, also, and actual product of the work itself, or what is accomplished and fulfilled by the death, blood-shedding, or oblation of Jesus Christ, is no less clearly manifested, but is as fully, and very often more distinctly, expressed;–as, first, Reconciliation with God, by removing and slaying the enmity that was between him and us; for “when we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son,” Rom. 5:10. “God was in him reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them,” 2 Cor. 5:19; yea, he hath “reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ,” verse 18. And if you would know how this reconstruction was effected, the apostle will tell you that “he abolished in his flesh the enmity, the law of commandments consisting in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; and that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby,” Eph. 2:l5, 16: so that “he is our peace,” verse l4. Secondly, Justification, by taking away the guilt of sins, procuring remission and pardon of them, redeeming us from their power, with the curse and wrath due unto us for them; for “by his own blood he entered into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” Heb. 9:12. “He redeemed us from the curse, being made a curse for us,” Gal. 3:13; “his own self bearing our sins in his own body on the tree,” 1 Pet. 2:24. We have “all sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” but are “justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins” Rom. 3:23-25: for “in him we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins,” Col. 1:14. Thirdly, Sanctification, by the purging away of the uncleanness and pollution of our sins, renewing in us the image of God, and supplying us with the graces of the Spirit of holiness: for “the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself to God, purgeth our consciences from dead works that we may serve the living God,” Heb. 9:14; yea, “the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin,” I John 1:7. “By himself he purged our sins,” Heb. 1:3. To “sanctify the people with his own blood, he suffered without the gate,” chap. 13:12. “He gave himself for the church to sanctify and cleanse it, that it should be holy and without blemish,” Eph.5:25-27. Peculiarly amongst the graces of the Spirit, “it is given to us,” in-behalf-of Christ “for Christ’s sake, to believe on him,” Phil 1:29; God “blessing us in him with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places,” Eph. 1:3. Fourthly, Adoption, with that evangelical liberty and all those glorious privileges which appertain to the sons of God; for “God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons,” Gal 4:4, 5. Fifthly, Neither do the effects of the death of Christ rest here; they leave us not until we are settled in heaven, in glory and immortality for ever. Our inheritance is a “purchased possession,” Eph 1:14: “And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance,” Heb. 9:15. The sum of all is,–The death and blood-shedding of Jesus Christ hath wrought, and doth effectually procure, for all those that are concerned in it, eternal redemption, consisting in grace here and glory hereafter.
III. Thus full, clear, and evident are the expressions in the Scripture concerning the ends and effects of the death of Christ, that a man would think every one might run and read. But we must stay: among all things in Christian religion, there is scarce any thing more questioned than this, which seems to be a most fundamental principle. A spreading persuasion there is of a general ransom to be paid by Christ for all; that he died to redeem all and every one,–not only for many, his church, the elect of God, but for every one also of the posterity of Adam. Now, the masters of this opinion do see full well and easily, that if that be the end of the death of Christ which we have from the Scripture asserted, if those before recounted be the immediate fruits and products thereof, then one of these two things will necessarily follow:–that either, first, God and Christ failed of their end proposed, and did not accomplish that which they intended, the death of Christ being not a fitly-proportioned means for the attaining of that end (for any cause of failing cannot be assigned); which to assert seems to us blasphemously injurious to the wisdom, power, and perfection of God, as likewise derogatory to the worth and value of the death of Christ;–or else, that all men, all the posterity of Adam, must be saved, purged, sanctified, and glorified; which surely they will not maintain, at least the Scripture and the woeful experience of millions will not allow. Wherefore, to cast a tolerable color upon their persuasion, they must and do deny that God or his Son had any such absolute aim or end in the death or blood-shedding of Jesus Christ, or that any such thing was immediately procured and purchased by it, as we before recounted; but that God intended nothing, neither was any thing effected by Christ,–that no benefit ariseth to any immediately by his death but what is common to all and every soul, though never so cursedly unbelieving here and eternally damned hereafter, until an act of some, not procured for them by Christ, (for if it were, why have they it not all alike?) to wit, faith, do distinguish them from others. Now, this seeming to me to enervate the virtue, value, fruits and effects of the satisfaction and death of Christ,–serving, besides,for a basis and foundation to a dangerous, uncomfortable, erroneous persuasion-I shall, by the Lord’s assistance, declare what the Scripture holds out in both these things, both that assertion which is intended to be proved, and that which is brought for the proof thereof; desiring the Lord by his Spirit to lead us into all truth, to give us understanding in all things, and if any one be otherwise minded, to reveal that also unto him.
Of the nature of an end in general, and some distinctions about it.
I. The end of any thing is that which the agent intendeth to accomplish in and by the operation which is proper unto its nature, and which it applieth itself unto,–that which any one aimeth at, and designeth in himself to attain, as a thing good and desirable unto him in the state and condition wherein he is. So the end which Noah proposed unto himself in the building of the ark was the preservation of himself and others. According to the will of God, he made an ark to preserve himself and his family from the flood: “According to all that God commanded him, so did he,” Gen. 6:22. That which the agent doth, or whereto he applieth himself, for the compassing his proposed end, is called the means; which two do complete the whole reason of working in free intellectual agents, for I speak only of such as work according to choice or election. So Absalom intending a revolt from his father, to procure the crown and kingdom for himself, “he prepared him horses and chariots, and fifty men to run before him,” 2 Sam. 15:1; and farther, by fair words, and glossing compliances, “he stole the hearts of the men of Israel” verse 6; then pretends a sacrifice at Hebron, where he makes a strong conspiracy, verse 12,–all which were the means he used for the attaining of his fore-proposed end.
II. Between both these, end and means, there is this relation, that (though in sundry kinds) they are mutually causes one of another. The end is the first, principal, moving cause of the whole. It is that for whose sake the whole work is. No agent applies itself to action but for an end; and were it not by that determined to some certain effect, thing, way, or manner of working, it would no more do one thing than another. The inhabitants of the old world desiring and intending unity and cohabitation, with perhaps some reserves to provide for their safety against a second storm, they cry, “Go to, let us build us a city, and a tower whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth,” Gen. 9:4. First, They lay down their aim and design, and then let out the means in their apprehension conducing thereunto. And manifest, then, it is, that the whole reason and method of affairs that a wise worker or agent, according to the counsel, proposeth to himself is taken from the end which he aims at; that is, in intention and contrivance, the beginning of all that order which is in working. Now, the means are all those things which are used for the attaining of the end proposed,–as meat for the preservation of life, sailing in a ship for him that would pass the sea, laws for the quiet continuance of human society; and they are the procuring cause of the end, in one kind or another. Their existence is for the ends sake, and the end hath its rise out of them, following them either morally as their desert, or naturally as their fruit and product. First, In a moral sense. When the action and the end are to be measured or considered in reference to a moral rule, or law prescribed to the agent, then the means are the deserving or meritorious cause of the end; as, if Adam had continued in his innocency, and done all things according to the law given unto him, the end procured thereby had been a blessed life to eternity; as now the end of any sinful act is death, the curse of the law. Secondly, When the means are considered only in their natural relation, then they are the instrumentally efficient cause of the end. So Joab intending the death of Abner, “he smote him with his spear under the fifth rib, that he died,” 2 Sam. 3:27. And when Benaiah, by the command of Solomon, fell upon Shimei the wounds he gave him were the efficient of his death, I Kings 2:46. In which regard there is no difference between the murdering of an innocent man and the executing of an offender; but as they are under a moral consideration, their ends follow their deservings, in respect of conformity to the rule, and so there is chasma megas between them.
III. The former consideration, by reason of the defect and perverseness of some agents (for otherwise these things are coincident), holds out a twofold end of things,–first, of the work, and, secondly, of the workman; of the act and the agent: for when the means assigned for the attaining of any end are not proportioned unto it, nor, fitted for it, according to that rule which the agent is to work by, then it cannot be but that he must aim at one thing and another follow, in respect of the morality of the work. So Adam is enticed into a desire to be like God; this now he makes his aim, which: to effect he eats the forbidden fruit, and that contracts a guilt which he aimed not at. But when the agent acts aright, and as it should do,–when it aims at an end that is proper to it, belonging to its proper perfection and condition, and worketh by such means as are fit and suitable to the end proposed,–the end of the work and the workman are one and the same; as when Abel intended the worship of the Lord, he offered a sacrifice through faith, acceptable unto him; or as a man, desiring salvation through Christ, applieth himself to get an interest in him. Now, the sole reason of this diversity is, that secondary agents, such as men are, have an end set and appointed to their actions by Him which giveth them an external rule or law to work by, which shall always attend them in their working, whether they will or no. God only, whose will and good pleasure is the sole rule of all those works which outwardly are of him, can never deviate in his actions, nor have any end attend or follow his acts not precisely by him intended.
IV. Again; the end of every free agent is either that which he effecteth, or that for whose sake he doth effect it. When a builds a house to let to hire, that which he effecteth is the building of a house; that which moveth him to do it is love of gain. The physician cures the patient, and is moved to it by his reward. The end which Judas aimed at in his going to the priests, bargaining with them, conducting the soldiers to the garden, kissing Christ, was the betraying of his Master; but the end for whose sake the whole undertaking was set on foot was the obtaining of the thirty pieces of silver: “What will ye give me, and I will do it?” The end which God effected by the death of Christ was the satisfaction of his justice: the end for whose sake he did it was either supreme, or his own glory; or subordinate, ours with him.
V. Moreover, the means are of two sorts:–First, Such as have a true goodness in themselves without reference to any farther kind; though not so considered as we use them for means. No means, as a means is considered as good in itself, but only as conducible to a farther end; it is repugnant to the nature of means, as such, to be considered as good in themselves. Study is in itself the most noble employment of the soul; but, aiming at wisdom or knowledge, we consider it as good only inasmuch as it conducteth to that end, otherwise as “a weariness of the flesh,” Eccl. 12: 12. Secondly, Such as have no good at all in any kind, as in themselves considered, but merely as conducing to that end which they are fit to attain. They receive all their goodness (which is but relative) from that whereunto they are appointed, in themselves no way desirable; as the cutting off a leg or an arm for the preservation of life, taking a bitter potion for health’s sake, throwing corn and lading into the sea to prevent shipwreck. Of which nature is the death of Christ, as we shall afterward declare.
VI. These things being thus proposed in general, our next task must be to accommodate them to the present business in hand; which we shall do in order, by laying down the agent working, the means wrought and the end effected, in the great work of our redemption; for these three must be orderly considered and distinctly, that we may have a right apprehension of the whole: into the first whereof, sun theo, we make an entrance in [chapter third.]
Of the agent or chief author of the work of our redemption, and of the first thing distinctly ascribed to the person of the Father.
I. The agent in, and chief author of, this great work of our redemption is the whole blessed Trinity; for all the works which outwardly are of the Deity are undivided and belong equally to each person, their distinct manner of subsistence and order being observed. It is true, there were sundry other instrumental causes in the oblation, or rather passion of Christ but the work cannot in any sense be ascribed unto them;–for in respect of God the Father, the issue of their endeavors was exceeding contrary to their own intentions, and in the close they did nothing but what the “hand and counsel of God had before determined should be done,” Acts 4:28; and in respect of Christ they were no way able to accomplish what they aimed at, for he himself laid down his life, and none was able to take it from him, John 10:17, 18: so that they are to be excluded from this consideration. In the several persons of the holy Trinity, the joint author of the whole work, the Scripture proposeth distinct and sundry acts or operations peculiarly assigned unto them; which, according to our weak manner of apprehension, we are to consider severally and apart; which also we shall do, beginning with them that are ascribed to the Father.
II. Two peculiar acts there are in this work of our redemption by the blood of Jesus, which may be and are properly assigned to the person of the FATHER:–First, The sending, of his Son into the world for this employment. Secondly, A laying the punishment due to our sin upon him.
1. The Father loves the world, and sends his Son to die: He “sent his Son into the world that the world through him might be saved,” John 3:l6,.17. He “sending his Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us,” Rom. 8:3,4. He “set him forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood,” chap. 3:25. For “when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons,” Gal. 4:4, 5. So more than twenty times in the Gospel of John there is mention of this sending; and our Saviour describes himself by this periphrasis, “Him whom the Father hath sent,” John 10:36; and the Father by this, “He who sent me,” chap. 5:37. So that this action of sending is appropriate to the Father, according to his promise that he would “send us a Saviour, a great one, to deliver us,” Isa. 19:20; and to the profession of our Saviour, “I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord God, and his Spirit, hath sent me,” Isa. 48:16. Hence the Father himself is sometimes called our Saviour: I Tim. 1:1, “According to the commandment of God our Saviour.” Some copies, indeed, read it, “of God and our Saviour;” but the interposition of that particle “kai” arose, doubtless, from a misprision that Christ alone is called Saviour. But directly this is the same with that parallel place of Tit. 1:3, “According to the commandment of God our Saviour,” where no interposition of that conjunctive particle can have place; the same title being also in other places ascribed to him, as Luke 1:47, “My spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.” As also I Tim. 4:10, “We trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of them that believe;” though in this last place it be not ascribed unto him with reference to his redeeming us by Christ, but his saving and preserving all by his providence. So also Tit. 2:10, 3:4; Deut. 32:15; 1 Sam 10:19; Ps. 24:5, 25:5; Isa. 12:2, 40:10, 45:15; Jer. 14:8; Micah 7:7; Hab. 3:18; most of which places have reference to his sending of Christ, which is also distinguished into three several acts, which in order we must lay down:–
(1.) An authoritative imposition of the office of Mediator, which Christ closed withal by his voluntary susception of it, willingly undergoing the office, wherein by dispensation the Father had and exercised a kind of superiority, which the Son, though “in the form of God,” humbled himself unto, Phil 2:6-8. And of this there may conceived two parts:–
[1.] The purposed imposition of his counsel, or his eternal counsel for the setting apart of his Son incarnate to this office, saying unto him, “Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the nations for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession,” Ps. 2:7, 8. He said unto him, “Sit thou at my right hand until I make thine enemies thy footstool;” for “the Lord swore, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek,” Ps. 110:1, 4. He appointed him to be “heir of all things,” Heb. 1:2, having “ordained him to be Judge of quick and dead,” Acts 10:42; for unto this he was “ordained before the foundation of the world,” 1 Pet. 1:20., and “determined, (horizo), to be the Son of God with power,” Rom. 1:4, “that he might be the first-born among many brethren,” chip. 8:29. I know that this is an act eternally established in the mind and will of God, and so not to be ranged in order with the others, which are all temporary, and had their beginning in the fullness of time, of all which this first is the spring and fountain, according to that of James, Acts 15:18, “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world;” but yet, it being no unusual form of speaking that the purpose should also be comprehended in that which holds out the accomplishment of it, aiming at truth and not exactness, we pass it thus.
[2.] The actual inauguration or solemn admission of Christ into his office; “committing all judgment unto the Son,” John 5:22; “making him to be both Lord and Christ,” Acts 2:36; “appointing him over his whole house,” Heb. 3:1-6;–which is that “anointing of the most Holy,” Dan. 9:24; God “anointing him with the oil of gladness above his fellows” Ps. 45:7: for the actual setting apart of Christ to his office is said to be by unction, because all those holy things which were types of him, as the ark, the altar, etc., were set apart and consecrated by anointing, Exod. 30:25-28, etc. To this also belongs that public testification by innumerable angels from heaven of his nativity, declared by one of them to the shepherds. “Behold,” saith he, “I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be unto all people; for unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord,” Luke 2:10, 11;–which message was attended by and closed with that triumphant exultation of the host of heaven, “Glory be to God on high, on earth peace, towards men good-will,” verse 14: with that redoubled voice which afterward came from the excellent glory, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased,” Matt.. 3:7, 17:5; 2 Pet. 1:7. If these things ought to be distinguished and placed in their own order, they may be considered in these three several acts:–First, The glorious proclamation which he made of his nativity, when he “prepared him a body,” Heb. 10:5, bringing his First-begotten into the world, and saying, “Let all the angels of God worship him” chap. 1:6, sending them to proclaim the message which we before recounted. Secondly, Sending the Spirit visibly, in the form of a dove, to light upon him at the time of his baptism, Matt. 3:16, when he was endued with a fullness thereof, for the accomplishment of the work and discharge of the office whereunto he was designed, attended with that voice whereby he owned him from heaven as his only-beloved. Thirdly, The “crowning of him with glory and honour,” in his resurrection, ascension, and sitting down “on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” Heb. 1:3; setting “him as his king upon his holy hill of Zion,” Ps. 2:6; when “all power was given unto him in heaven and in earth,” Matt, 28:18, “all things being put under his feet” Heb. 2:7, 8; himself highly exalted, and “a name given him above every name, that at,” etc., Phil. 2:9-11. Of which it pleased him to appoint witnesses of all sorts; –angels from heaven, Luke 24:4, Acts 1:10 ; the dead out of the graves, Matt. 27:52; the apostles among and unto the living, Acts 2:32; with those more than five hundred brethren, to whom he appeared at once, 1 Cor. 15:6. Thus gloriously was he inaugurated into his office, in the several sets and degrees thereof, God saying unto him, “It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth,” Isa. 49:6.
Between these two acts I confess there intercedes a twofold promise of God;–one, of giving a Saviour to his people, a Mediator, according to his former purpose, as Gen. 3:15, “The seed of the woman shall break the serpent’s head;” and, “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, till Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be,” chap. 49:10. Which he also foresignified by many sacrifices and other types, with prophetical predictions: “Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you; searching what or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into,” 1 Pet 1:10-12. The other is a promise of applying the benefits purchased by this Saviour so designed to them that should believe on him, to be given in fullness of time, according to the former promises; telling Abraham, that “in his seed all the families of the earth should be blessed,” and justifying himself by the same faith, Gen, 12:3, 15:6. But these things belong rather to the application wholly, which was equal both before and after his actual mission.
(2.) The second act of the Father’s sending the Son is the furnishing of him in his sending with a fullness of all gifts and graces that might any way be requisite for the office he was to undertake, the work he was to undergo, and the charge he had over the house of God. There was, indeed, in Christ a twofold fullness and perfection of all spiritual excellencies:– First, the natural all-sufficient perfection of his Deity, as one with his Father in respect of his divine nature: for his glory was “the glory of the only-begotten of the Father,” John 1:14. He was “in the form of God, and thought it not robbery to be equal with God,” Phil. 2:6; being the “fellow of the LORD of hosts,” Zech. 13:7. Whence that glorious appearance, Isa. 6: 3, 4, when the seraphims cried one to another, and said, “Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.” And the prophet cried, “Mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts,” verse 5. Even concerning this vision the apostle saith, “Isaiah saw him, and spoke of his glory,” John 12:41. Of which glory, he as it were emptied himself for a season, when he was “found in the form” or condition “of a servant, humbling himself unto death,” Phil. 2:7, 8; laying aside that glory which attended his Deity, outwardly appearing to have “neither form, nor beauty, nor comeliness, that he should be desired,” Isa. 53:2 But this fullness we do not treat of, it being not communicated to him, but essentially belonging to his person, which is eternally begotten of the person of his Father.
The second fullness that was in Christ was a communicated fullness, which was in him by dispensation from his Father, bestowed upon him to fit him for his work and office as he was and is the “Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,” I Tim. 2:5; not as he is the “LORD of hosts,” but as he is “Emmanuel, God with us,” Matt. 1:23; as he was a “son given to us, called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace, upon whose shoulder the government was to be,” Isa. 9:6. It is a fullness of grace; not that essential which is of the nature of the Deity, but that which is habitual and infused into the humanity as personally united to the other; which, though it be not absolutely infinite, as the other is, yet it extends itself to all perfections of grace, both in respect of parts and degrees. There is no grace that is not in Christ, and every grace is in him in the highest degree: so that whatsoever the perfection of grace, either for the several kinds or respective advancements thereof, requireth, is in him habitually, by the collation of his Father for this very purpose, and for the accomplishment of the work designed; which, though (as before) it cannot properly be said to be infinite, yet it is boundless and endless. It is in him as the light in the beams of the sun, and as water in a living fountain which can never fail. He is the “candlestick” from whence the “golden pipes do empty the golden oil out of themselves,” Zech. 4:12, into all that are his; for he is “the beginning, the first-born from the dead, in all things having the pre-eminence; for it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell;” Col. 1:18, 19. In him he caused to be “hid all the treasurer of wisdom and knowledge,” chap. 2:3; and “in him dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (somatikos),” substantially or personally, verse 9; that “of his fullness we might all receive grace for grace,” John 1:16, in a continual supply. So that, setting upon the work of redemption, he looks upon this in the first place. “The Spirit of the Lord God,” saith he, “is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn,” Isa. 61:1, 2. And this was the “anointing with the oil of gladness” which he had “above his fellows,” Ps. 45:7; “it was upon his head, and ran down to his beard, yea, down to the skirts of his garments,” Ps. 133:2, that every one covered with the garment of his righteousness might be made partaker of it “The Spirit of the LORD did rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD,” Isa. 11:2; and that not in parcels and beginnings as in us, proportioned to our measure and degrees of sanctification, but in a fullness, for “he received not the Spirit by measure,” John 3:34;–that is, it was not so with him when he come to the full measure of the stature of his age, as Eph. 4:13; for otherwise it was manifested in him and collated on him by degrees, for he “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man,” Luke 2:51 Hereunto was added “all power in heaven and earth, which was given unto him,” Matt. 28:18; “power over all flesh, to give eternal life to as many as he would,” John 17:2. Which we might branch into many particulars, but so much shall suffice to set forth the second act of God in sending his Son.
(3.) The third act of this sending is his entering into covenant and compact with his Son concerning the work to be undertaken, and the issue or event thereof; of which there be two parts:–
First, His promise to protect and assist him in the accomplishment and perfect fulfilling of the whole business and dispensation about which he was employed, or which he was to undertake. The Father engaged himself, that for his part, upon his Son’s undertaking this great work of redemption, he would not be wanting in any assistance in trials, strength against oppositions, encouragement against temptations, and strong consolation in the midst of terrors, which might be any way necessary or requisite to carry him on through all difficulties to the end of so great an employment;–upon which he undertakes this heavy burden, so full of misery and trouble: for the Father before this engagement requires no less of him than that he should “become a Saviour, and be afflicted in all the affliction of his people,” Isa. 63:8, 9: yea, that although he were “the fellow of the LORD of host,” yet he should endure the “sword” that was drawn against him as the “shepherd” of the sheep, Zech. 13:7; “treading the winepress alone, until he became red in his apparel,” Isa. 63:2, 3: yea, to be “stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted; wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities; to be bruised and put to grief; to make his soul an offering for sin, and to bear the iniquity of many,” Isa 53.; to be destitute of comfort so far as to cry, “my God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Ps. 22:1. No wonder, then, if upon this undertaking the Lord promised to make “his mouth like a sharp sword, to hide him in the shadow of his hand, to make him a polished shaft, and to hide him in his quiver, to make him his servant in whom he would be glorified,” Isa. 49:2, 3; that though “the kings of the earth should set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against him, yet he would laugh them to scorn, and set him as king upon his holy hill of Zion,” Ps. 2:2, 4, 6; though the “builders did reject him,” yet he should “become the head of the comer,” to the amazement and astonishment of all the world, Ps. 118:22, 23; Matt. 21:42, Mark 12:10, Luke 20:17, Acts 4:11, 12, 1 Pet 2:4; yea, he would “lay him for a foundation, a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner-stone, a sure foundation,” Isa. 28:16, that “whosoever should fall upon him should be broken, but upon whomsoever he should fall he should grind him to powder,’ Matt. 21:44. Hence arose that confidence of our Saviour in his greatest and utmost trials, being assured, by virtue of his Father’s engagement in this covenant, upon a treaty with him about the redemption of man, that he would never leave him nor forsake him. “I gave,” saith he, “my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting,” Isa. 50:6. But with what confidence, blessed Savior, didst thou undergo all this shame and sorrow! Why, “The Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know; that I shall not be ashamed. He is near that justifieth me; who will contend with me? let us stand together: who is mine adversary? let him come near to me. Behold, the Lord GOD will help me; who is he that condemn me? Lo! they shall all wax old as a garment; the moth shall eat them up,” verses 7-9. With this assurance he was brought as a “lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth,” Isa. 53:7: for “when he was reviled, he reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously,” 1 Pet. 2:23. So that the ground of our Saviour’s confidence and assurance in this great undertaking, and a strong motive to exercise his graces received in the utmost endurings, was this engagement of his Father upon this compact of assistance and protection.
Secondly, [His promise] of success, or a good issue out of all his sufferings, and a happy accomplishment and attainment of the end of his great undertaking. Now, of all the rest this chiefly is to be considered, as directly conducing to the business proposed, which yet would not have been so clear without the former considerations; for whatsoever it was that God promised his Son should be fulfilled and attained by him, that certainly was it at which the Son aimed in the whole undertaking, and designed it as the end of the work that was committed to him, and which alone he could and did claim upon the accomplishment of his Father’s will. What this was, and the promises whereby it is at large set forth, ye have Isa. 49: “Thou shalt be my servent,” saith the Lord, “to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation to the end of the earth. Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the LORD that is faithful.” And he will certainly accomplish this engagement: “I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages; that thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Show yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places. They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall be guide them. And I will make all my mountains a way, and my highways shall be exalted. Behold, these shall come from far: and, lo, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim,” verses 6-12=2E By all which expressions the Lord evidently and clearly engageth himself to his Son, that he should gather to himself a glorious church of believers from among Jews and Gentiles, through all the world, that should be brought unto him, and certainly fed in full pasture, and refreshed by the springs of water, all the spiritual springs of living water which flow from God in Christ for their everlasting salvation. This, then, our Saviour certainly aimed at, as being the promise upon which he undertook the work,–the gathering of the sons of God together, their bringing unto God, and passing to eternal salvation; which being well considered, it will utterly overthrow the general ransom or universal redemption, as afterward will appear. In the 53rd chapter of the same prophecy, the Lord is more express and punctual in these promises to his Son, assuring him that when he “made his soul an offering for sin, he should see his seed, and prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD should prosper in his hand; that he should see of the travail of his soul, and be satisfied; by his knowledge he should justify many; that, he should divide a portion with the great, and the spoil with the strong,” verses 10 12. He was, you see, to see his seed by covenant, and to raise up a spiritual seed unto God, a faithful people, to be prolonged a preserved throughout all generations; which, how well it consists with their persuasion who in terms have affirmed “that the death of Christ might have had its full and utmost effect and yet none be saved,” I cannot see, though some have boldly affirmed it and all the assertors of universal redemption do tacitly grant, when they come to the assigning of the proper ends and effects of the death of Christ. “The pleasure of the LORD,” also, was to “prosper in his hand;” which what it was he declares, Heb. 2:10, even “bringing of many sons unto glory;” for “God sent his only-begotten Son into the world that we live through him,” I John 4:9; as we shall afterward more abundantly declare. But the promises of God made unto him in their agreement, and so, consequently, his own aim and intention, may be seen in nothing more manifestly than in the request that our Saviour makes upon the accomplishment of the work about which he was sent; which certainly was neither for more nor less than God had engaged himself to him for. “I have,” saith he, “glorified thee on earth, I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do,” John 17:4. And now, what doth he require after the manifestation of his eternal glory, of which for a season he had emptied himself, verse 5? Clearly a full confluence of the love of God and fruits of that love upon all his elect, in faith, sanctification, and glory. God gave them unto him, and he sanctified himself to be a sacrifice for their sake, praying for their sanctification, verses 17-19; their preservation in peace, or communion one with another, and union with God, verses 20, 21, “I pray not for these alone” (that is, his apostles), “but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us;” and lastly, their glory, verse 24, “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me.” All which several postulata are no doubt grounded upon the fore-cited promises which by his Father were made unto him. And in this, not one word concerning all and every one, but expressly the contrary, verse 9. Let this, then, be diligently observed, that the promise of God unto his Son, and the request of the Son unto his Father, are directed to this peculiar end of bringing sons unto God. And this is the first act, consisting of these three particulars.
2. The second is of laying upon him the punishment of sins, everywhere ascribed unto the Father: “Awake; 0 sword, against my shepherd, against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered,” Zech. 13:7. What here is set down imperatively, by way of command, is in the gospel indicatively expounded. “I will smite the shepherd,: and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad,” Matt. 26:31. “He was stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted;” yea, “the LORD laid upon him the iniquity of us all;” yea, “it pleased the LORD to bruise him, and to put him to grief,” Isa. 53:4, 6, 10. “He made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him,” 2 Cor. 5:21. The adjunct in both: places is put for the subject, as the opposition between his being made sin and our being made righteousness declareth. “Him who knew no sin,”-that is, who deserved no punishment,–“him hath he made to be sin,” or laid the punishment due to sin upon him. Or perhaps, in the latter place, sin may be taken for an offering or sacrifice for the expiation of sin, (hamartia) answering in this place to the word: CHATTATH in the Old Testament, which signifieth both sin and the sacrifice for it. And this the Lord did; for as for Herod, Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, when they were gathered together, they did nothing but “what his hand and counsel bad determined before to be done,” Acts 4:27,28. Whence the great shakings of our saviour were in his close conflict with his Father’s wrath, and that burden which by himself he immediately imposed on him. When there was no hand or instrument outwardly appearing to put him to any suffering or cruciating torment, then he “began to be sorrowful, even unto death” Matt. 26:37, 38; to wit, when he was in the garden with his three choice apostles, before the traitor or any of his accomplices appeared, then was he “sore amazed, and very heavy,” Mark 14:33. That was the time, “in the days of his flesh, when he offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death,” Heb. 5:7; which how he performed the evangelist describeth, Luke 22:43, 44: “There appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. But being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” Surely it was a close and strong trial, and that immediately from his Father, he now underwent; for how meekly and cheerfully doth he I submit, without any regret or trouble of spirit, to all the cruelty of men and violence offered to his body, until this conflict being renewed again, he cries, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” And this, by the way, will be worth our observation that we may know with whom our Saviour chiefly had to do, and what was that which he underwent for sinners; which also will give some light to the grand query concerning the persons of them for whom he undertook all this. His sufferings were far from consisting in mere corporal perpessions and afflictions, with such impressions upon his soul and spirit as were the effects and issues only of them. It was no more nor less than the curse of the law of God which he underwent for us: for he freed us from the curse “by being made a curses,” Gal 3:13; which contained all the punishment that was due to sin, either in the severity of God’s justice, or according to the exigence of that law which required obedience. That the execration of the law should be only temporal death, as the law was considered to be the instrument of the Jewish polity, and serving that economy or dispensation, is true; but that it should be no more, as it is the universal rule of obedience, and the bond of the covenant between God and man, is a foolish dream. Nay, but in dying for us Christ did not only aim at our good, but also directly died in our stead. The punishment due to our sin and the chastisement of our peace was upon him; which that it was the pains of hell, in their nature and being, in their weight and pressure, though not in tendence and continuance (it being impossible that he should be detained by death), who can deny and not be injurious to the justice of God, which will inevitably inflict those pains to eternity upon sinners? It is true, indeed, there is a relaxation of the law in respect of the persons suffering, God admitting of commutation; as in the old law, when in their sacrifices the life of the beast was accepted (in respect to the carnal part of the ordinances) for the life of the man. This is fully revealed, and we believe it; but for any change of the punishment, in respect of the nature of it, where is the least intimation of any alteration? We conclude, then, this second act of God, in laying the punishment on him for us, with that of the prophet, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all,” Isa. 53:6: and add thereunto this observation, that it seems strange to me that Christ should undergo the pains of hell in their stead who lay in the pains of hell before he underwent those pains, and shall continue in them to eternity; for “their worm dieth not, neither is their fire quenched.” To which I may add this dilemma to our Universalists:–God imposed his wrath due unto, and Christ underwent the pains of hell for, either all the sins of all men, or all the sins of some men, or some sins of all men. If the last, some sins of all men, then have all men some sins to answer for, and so shall no man be saved; for if God enter into judgment with us, though it were with all mankind for one sin, no flesh should be justified in his sight: “If the LORD should mark iniquities, who should stand?” Ps.130:3. We might all go to cast all that we have “to the moles and to the bats, to go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty,” Isa. 2:20, 21. If the second, that is it which we affirm, that Christ in their stead and room suffered for all the sins of all the elect in the world. If the first, why, then, an not all freed from the punishment of all their sins? You will say, “Because of their unbelief, they will not believe.” But this unbelief, is it a sin or not? If not, why should they be punished for it? If it be, then Christ underwent the punishment due to it, or not. If so, then why must that hinder them more than their other sins for which he died from partaking of the fruit of his death? If he did not, then did he not die for all their sins. Let them choose which part they will.
Of those things which in the work of redemption are peculiarly ascribed to the person of the Son.
SECONDLY, The SON was an agent in this great work, concurring by a voluntary susception, or willing undertaking of the office imposed on him; for when the Lord said, “Sacrifice and offering he would not: in burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin he had no pleasure,” then said Christ, “Lo, I come, (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, 0 God,” Heb. 10:6, 7. All other ways being rejected as insufficient, Christ undertaketh the task, “in whom alone the Father was well pleased,” Matt. 3:17. Hence he professeth that “he came not to do his own will, but the will of him that sent him,” John 4:38; yea, that it was his meat and drink to do his Father’s will, and to finish his work, chap. 4:34. The first words that we find recorded of him in the Scripture are to the same purpose, “Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” Luke 2:49. And at the close of all he saith, “I have glorified thee on the earth; I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do,” John 17:4; calling it everywhere his Father’s work that he did, or his Father’s will which he came to accomplish, with reference to the imposition which we before treated of. Now, this undertaking of the Son may be referred to three heads. The first being a common foundation for both the others, being as it were the means in respect of them as the end, and yet in some sort partaking of the nature of a distinct action, with a goodness in itself in reference to the main end proposed to all three, we shall consider it apart; and that is,–
First, His incarnation, as usually it is called, or his taking of flesh, and pitching his tent amongst us, John 1:14. His “being made of a woman,” Gal 4:4, is usually called his incarnation; for this was “the mystery of godliness, that God should be manifested in the flesh,” 1 Tim. 3:16, thereby assuming not any singular person, but our human nature, into personal union with himself. For, “forasmuch as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil,” Heb. 2:14. It was the children that he considered, the “children whom the Lord gave him,” verse 13. Their participation in flesh and blood moved him to partake of the same,–not because all the world, all the posterity of Adam, but because the children were in that condition; for their sakes he sanctified himself. Now, this emptying of the Deity, this humbling of himself, this dwelling amongst us, was the sole act of the second person, or the divine nature in the second person, the Father and the Spirit having no concurrence in it but by liking, approbation, and eternal counsel.
Secondly, His oblation, or “offering himself up to God for us without spot, to purge our consciences from dead works,” Heb. 9:14; “for he loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,” Rev. 1:5. “He loved the church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it,” Eph. 5:25, 26; taking the cup of wrath at his Father’s hands due to us, and drinking it off, “but not for himself,” Dan. 9:26: for, “for our sakes he sanctified himself,” John 17:19, that is, to be an offering, an oblation for sin; for “when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly,” Rom. 5:6;–this being that which was typified out by all the institutions, ordinances, and sacrifices of old; which when they were to have an end, then said Christ, “Lo, I come to do thy will.” Now, though the perfecting or consummating of this oblation be set out in the Scripture chiefly in respect of what Christ suffered, and not so much in respect of what he did, because it is chiefly considered as the means used by these three blessed agents for the attaining of a farther end, yet in respect of his own voluntary giving up himself to be so an oblation and a sacrifice, without which it would not have been of any value (for if the will of Christ had not been in it, it could never have purged our sins), therefore, in that regard, I refer it to his actions. He was the “Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world,” John 1:29; the Lamb of God, which himself had provided for a sacrifice. And how did this Lamb behave himself in it? with unwillingness and struggling? No; he opened not his mouth: “He was brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth,” Isa. 53:7. Whence he saith, “I lay down my life. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again,” John 10:17, 18. He might have been cruciated on the part of God; but his death could not have been an oblation and offering had not his will concurred. “But he loved me,” saith the apostle, “and gave himself for me,” Gal. 2:20. Now, that alone deserves the name of a gift which is from a free and a willing mind, as Christ’s was when “he loved us, and gave himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour,” Eph. 5:2. He does it cheerfully: “Lo, I come to do thy will, 0 God,” Heb. 10:9; and so “his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree,” I Pet 2:24. Now, this oblation or offering of Christ I would not tie up to any one thing, action, or passion, performance, or suffering; but it compriseth the whole economy and dispensation of God manifested in the flesh and conversing among us, with all those things which he performed in the days of his flesh, when he offered up prayers and supplications, with strong cries and tears, until he had fully “by himself purged our sins, and sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high,” Heb. 1:3, “expecting till his enemies be made his footstool,” chap. 10:13,–all the whole dispensation of his coming and ministering, until he had given his soul a price of redemption for many, Matt. 26:28. But for his entering into the holy of holies, sprinkled with his own blood, and appearing so for us before the majesty of God, by some accounted as the continuation of his oblation, we may refer unto,–
Thirdly, His intercession for all and every one of those for whom he gave himself for an oblation. He did not suffer for them, and then refuse to intercede for them; he did not do the greater, and omit the less. The price of our redemption is more precious in the eyes of God and his Son than that it should, as it were, be cast away on perishing souls, without any care taken of what becomes of them afterward. Nay, this also is imposed on Christ, with a promise annexed: “Ask of me,” saith the Lord, “and I will give thee the nations for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession,” Ps. 2:8; who accordingly tells his disciples that he had more work to do for them in heaven. “I go,” saith he, “to prepare a place for you, that I may come again and receive you unto myself,” John 14:2, 3. For as “the high priest went into the second [tabernacle] alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and the errors of the people,” Heb. 9:7; so “Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by his own blood entered once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us,” verses 11, 12. Now, what was this holy place whereinto he entered thus sprinkled with the blood of the covenant? and to what end did he enter into it? Why, “he is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us,” verse 24. And what doth he there appear for? Why, to be our advocate, to plead our cause with God, for the application of the good things procured by his oblation unto all them for whom he was an offering; as the apostle tells us, “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous,” I John 2:1. Why, how comes that to pass? “He is the propitiation for our sins,” verse 2. His being a propitiatory sacrifice for our sins, is the foundation of his interceding, the ground of it; and, therefore, they both belong to the same persons. Now, by the way, we know that Christ refused to pray for the world, in opposition to his elect. “I pray for them,” saith he: “I pray not for the world, but for them thou hast given me,” John17:9. And therefore there was no foundation for such an interceding for them, because he was not a propitiation for them. Again; we know the Father always heareth the Son (“I knew,” saith he, “that thou hearest me always,” chap. 11:42), that is, so to grant his request, according to the fore-mentioned engagement, Ps. 2:8; and, therefore, if he should intercede for all, all should undoubtedly be saved, for “he is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them,” Heb. 7:25. Hence, is that confidence of the apostle, upon that intercession of Christ, “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us,” Rom. 8:33, 34. Where, also, we cannot but observe that those for whom be died may assuredly conclude he maketh intercession for them, and that none shall lay any thing to their charge,–which breaks the neck of the general ransom; for according to that, he died for millions that have no interest in his intercession, who shall have their sins laid to their charge, and perish under them: which might be farther cleared up from the very nature of this intercession, which is not a humble, dejected supplication, which beseems not that glorious state of advancement which he is possessed of that sits at the right hand of the Majesty on high, but an authoritative presenting himself before the throne of his Father, sprinkled with his own blood, for the making out to his people all spiritual things that are procured by his oblation, saying, “Father, I will that those whom thou hast given me be with me where I am” John 17:24. So that for whomsoever he suffered, he appears for them in heaven with his satisfaction and merit. Here, also, we must call to mind what the Father promised his Son upon his undertaking of this employment; for there is no doubt but that for that, and that alone, doth Christ, upon the accomplishment of the whole, intercede with him about: which was in sum that he might be the captain of salvation to all that believe on him, and effectually bring many sons to glory. And hence it is, having such an high priest over the house of God, we may draw near with the full assurance of faith, for by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified, Heb. 10:14. But of this more must be said afterward.
The peculiar actions of the Holy Spirit in this business.
THIRDLY, In few words we may consider the actions of that agent, who in order is the third in that blessed One, whose all is the whole, the HOLY SPIRIT, who is evidently concurring, in his own distinct operation, to all the several chief or grand parts of this work. We may refer them to three heads:–
First, The incarnation of the Son, with his plenary assistance in the course of his conversation whilst he dwelt amongst us; for his mother was found with child, “to have conceived in her womb of the Holy Ghost,” Matt. 1:18. If you ask, with Mary, how that could be? the angel resolves both her and us, as far as it is lawful for us to be acquainted with these mysterious things: Luke 1:35, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” It was an over shadowing power in the Spirit: so called by an allusion taken from fowls that cover their eggs, that so by their warmth young may be hatched; for by the sole power of the Spirit was this conception, who did “incubare foetui,” as in the beginning of the world. Now, in process, as this child was conceived by the power, so he was filled with the Spirit, and “waxed strong” in it, Luke 1:80; until, having received a fullness thereof, and not by any I limited measure, in the gifts and graces of it, he was thoroughly furnished and fitted for his great undertaking.
Secondly, In his oblation, or passion (for they are both the same, with several respects,–one to what he suffered, the other to what he did with, by, and under those sufferings), how “by the Eternal Spirit he offered himself without spot to God,” Heb. 9:14: whether it be meant of the offering himself a bloody sacrifice on the cross, or his presentation of himself continually before his Father,–it is by the Eternal Spirit. The willing offering himself through that Spirit was the eternal fire under this sacrifice, which made it acceptable unto God. That which some contend, that by the eternal Spirit is here meant our Saviour’s own Deity, I see no great ground for. Some Greek and Latin copies read, not, as we commonly, PNEUMA AIONIOS, but PNEUMA HAGIOS, and so the doubt is quite removed: and I see no reason why he may not as well be said to offer himself through the Holy Spirit, as to be “declared to be the Son of God, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead,” as Rom. 1:4; as also to be “quickened by the Spirit,” I Pet. 3:18. The working of the Spirit was required as well in his oblation as resurrection, in his dying, as quickening.
Thirdly, In his resurrection; of which the apostle, Rom. 8:11, “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in, you.”
And thus have we discovered the blessed agents and undertakers in this work their several actions and orderly concurrence unto the whole; which, though they may be thus distinguished, yet they are not so divided but that every one must be ascribed to the whole nature, whereof each person is “in solidum” partaker. And as they begin it, so they will jointly carry along the application of it unto its ultimate issue and accomplishment; for we must “give thanks to the Father, which hath made us meet” (that is, by his Spirit) “to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins,” Col. 1:12, 13.
The means used by the fore-recounted agents in this work.
OUR next employment, following the order of execution, not intention, will be the discovery or laying down of the means in this work; which are, indeed, no other but the several actions before recounted, but now to be considered under another respect,–as they are a means ordained for the obtaining of a proposed end; of which afterward. Now, because the several actions of Father and Spirit were all exercised towards Christ, and terminated in him, as God and man, he only and his performances are to be considered as the means in this work, the several concurrences of both the other persons before mentioned being presupposed as necessarily antecedent or concomitant.
The means, then, used or ordained by these agents for the end proposed is that whole economy or dispensation carried along to the end, from whence our Saviour Jesus Christ is called a Mediator; which may be, and are usually, as I mentioned before,, distinguished into two parts:-First, his oblation; secondly, his intercession.
By his oblation we do not design only the particular offering of himself upon the cross an offering to his Father, as the Lamb of God without spot or blemish, when he bare our sins or carried them up with him in his own body on the tree, which was the sum and complement of his oblation and that wherein it did chiefly consist; but also his whole humiliation, or state of emptying himself, whether by yielding voluntary obedience unto the law, as being made under it, that he might be the end thereof to them that believe, Rom. 10:4, or by his subjection to the curse of the law, in the antecedent misery and suffering of life, as well as by submitting to death, the death of the cross: for no action of his as mediator is to be excluded from a concurrence to make up the whole means in this work. Neither by his intercession do I understand only that heavenly appearance of his in the most holy place for the applying unto us all good things purchased and procured by his oblation; but also every act of his exaltation conducing thereunto, from his resurrection to his “sitting down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, angels, and principalities, and powers, being made subject unto him.” Of all which his resurrection, being the basis, as it were, and the foundation of the rest (“for if he is not risen, then is our faith in vain,” I Cor. 15:13, 14; and then are we “yet in our sins,” verse 17; “of all men most miserable,” verse 19), is especially to be considered, as that to which a great part of the effect is often ascribed; for “he was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification,” Rom. 4:25;–where, and in such other places, by his resurrection the whole following dispensation and the perpetual intercession of Christ for us in heaven is intended; for “God raised up his son Jesus to bless us, in turning every one of us from our iniquities,” Acts 3:26.
Now, this whole dispensation, with especial regard to the death and blood-shedding of Christ, is the means we speak of, agreeably to what was said before of such in general; for it is not a thing in itself desirable for its own sake. The death of Christ had nothing in it (we speak of his sufferings distinguished from his obedience) that was good, but only as it conduced to a farther end, even the end proposed for the manifestation of God’s glorious grace. What good was it, that Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and people of Israel, should, with such horrid villany and cruelty, gather themselves together against God’s holy child, whom he bad anointed? Acts 4:27: or what good was it, that the Son of God should be made sin and a curse, to be bruised, afflicted, and to undergo such wrath as the whole frame of nature, as it were, trembled to behold? What good, what beauty and form is in all this, that it should be desired in itself and for itself? Doubtless none at all. It must, then, be looked upon as a means conducing to such an end; the glory and lustre thereof must quite take away all the darkness and confusion that was about the thing itself. And even so it was intended by the blessed agents in it, by “whose determinate counsel and foreknowledge he was delivered and slain,” Acts 2:23; there being done unto him “whatsoever his hand and counsel had determined,” chap. 4:28: which what it was must be afterward declared. Now, concerning the whole some things are to be observed:–
That though the oblation and intercession of Jesus Christ are distinct acts in themselves and have distinct immediate products and issues assigned ofttimes unto them (which I should now have laid down, but that I must take up this in another place), yet they are not in any respect or regard to be divided or separated, as that the one should have any respect to any persons or any thing which the other also doth not in its kind equally respect. But there is this manifold union between them:–
First, In that they are both alike intended for the obtaining and accomplishing the same entire and complete end proposed,–to wit, the effectual bringing of many sons to glory, for the praise of God’s grace; of which afterward.
Secondly, That what persons soever the one respecteth, in the good things it obtaineth, the same, all, and none else, doth the other respect, in applying the good things so obtained; for “he was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justiflcation,” Rom,. 4:25. That is, in brief, the object of the one is of no larger extent than the object of the other; or, for whom Christ offered himself, for all those, and only those, doth he intercede, according to his own word, “For their sake I sanctify myself” (to be an oblation), “that they also might be sanctified through the truth,” John 17:19.
Thirdly, That the oblation of Christ is, as it were, the foundation of his intercession, inasmuch as by the oblation was procured every thing that, by virtue of his intercession, is bestowed; and that because the sole end why Christ procured any thing by his death was that it might be applied to them for whom it was so procured. The sum is, that the oblation and intercession of Jesus Christ are one entire means for the producing of the same effect, the very end of the oblation being that all those things which are bestowed by the intercession of Christ, and without whose application it should certainly fail of the end proposed in it, be effected accordingly; so that it cannot be affirmed that the death or offering of Christ concerned any one person or thing more, in respect of procuring any good, than his intercession doth for the collating of it: for, interceding there for all good purchased, and prevailing in all his intercessions (for the Father always hears his Son), it is evident that every one for whom Christ died must actually have applied unto him all the good things purchased by his death; which, because it is evidently destructive to the adverse cause, we must a little stay to confirm it, only telling you the main proof of it lies in our following proposal of assigning the proper end intended and effected by the death of Christ, so that the chief proof must be deferred until then. I shall now only propose those reasons which may be handled apart, not merely depending upon that.
Containing reasons to prove the oblation and intercession of Christ to be one entire means respecting the accomplishment of the same proposed end, and to have the same personal object.
1. Our first reason is taken from that perpetual union which the Scripture maketh of both these, almost always joining them together, and so manifesting those things to be most inseparable which are looked upon as the distinct fruits and effects of them: “By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many, for he shall bear their iniquities,” Isa. 53:11. The actual justification of sinners, the immediate fruit of his intercession, certainly follows his bearing of their iniquities. And in the next verse they are of God so put together that surely none ought to presume to put them asunder: “He bare the sin of many” (behold his oblation!), “and made intercession for the transgressors;” even for those many transgressors whose sin he bears. And there is one expression in that chapter, verse 5, which makes it evident that the utmost application of all good things for which he intercedes is the immediate effect of his passion: “With his stripes we are healed.” Our total hearing is the fruit and procurement of his stripes, or the oblation consummated thereby. So also, Rom. 4:25, “He was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” For whose offences he died, for their justification he rose;– and therefore, if he died for all, all must also be justified, or the Lord failed in his aim and design, both in the death and resurrection of his Son; which though some have boldly affirmed, yet for my part I cannot but abhor the owning of so blasphemous a fancy. Rather let us close with that of the apostle, grounding the assurance of our eternal glory and freedom from all accusations upon the death of Christ, and that because his intercession also for us does inseparably and necessarily follow it. “Who,” saith he, “shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect?” (It seems also, that it is only they for whom Christ died.) “It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died,” (shall none, then, be condemned for whom Christ died? what, then, becomes of the general ransom?) “yea rather, who is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us,” Rom. 8:33, 34. Here is an equal extent of the one and the other; those persons who are concerned in the one are all of them concerned in the other. That he died for all and intercedes only for some will scarcely be squared to this text, especially considering the foundation of all this, which is (verse 32) that love of God which moved him to give up Christ to death for us all; upon which the apostle infers a kind of impossibility in not giving us all good things in him; which how it can be reconciled with their opinion who affirm that he gave his Son for millions to whom lie will give neither grace nor glory, I cannot see. But we rest in that of the same apostle: “When we were yet without strength, in due time. Christ died for the ungodly;” so that, “being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him,” Rom. 5:6, 9;—the same between the oblation and intercession of Christ, with their fruits and effects, being intimated in very many other places.
II. To offer and to intercede, to sacrifice and to pray, are both acts of the same sacerdotal office, and both required in him who is a priest; so that if he omit either of these, he cannot be a faithful priest for them: if either he does not offer for them, or not intercede for the success of his oblation on their behalf, he is wanting in the discharge of his office by him undertaken. Both these we find conjoined (as before) in Jesus Christ: I John 2: 1, 2, “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is the propitiation for our sins.” He must be an advocate to intercede, as well as offer a propitiatory sacrifice, if he will be such a merciful high priest over the house of God as that the children should be encouraged to go to God by him. This the apostle exceedingly clears and evidently proves in the Epistle to the Hebrews, describing the priesthood of Christ, in the execution thereof, to consist in these two acts, of offering up himself in and by the shedding of his blood, and interceding for us to the utmost; upon the performance of both which he presseth an exhortation to draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, for he is “come an high priest of good things to come, not by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us,” Heb. 9:11, 12. His bloody oblation gave him entrance into the holy place not made with hands, there to accomplish the remaining part of his office, the apostle comparing his entrance into heaven for us with the entrance of the high priest into the holy place, with the blood of bulls and goats upon him, verses 12, 13 (which, doubtless, was to pray for them in whose behalf he had offered, verse 7); so presenting himself before his Father that his former oblation might have its efficacy. And hence he is said to have “an unchangeable priesthood”, because he continueth for ever, chap. 7:24; so being “able to save to the uttermost them that come unto God by him, verse 25: wherefore we have “boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,” chap. 10:19-22. So, then, it is evident that both these are acts of the same priestly office in Christ: and if he perform either of them for any, he must of necessity perform the other for them also; for be will not exercise any act or duty of his priestly function in their behalf for whom he is not a priest: and for whom he is a priest he must perform both, seeing he is faithful in the discharge of his function to the utmost in the behalf of the sinners for whom he undertakes. These two, then, oblation and intercession, must in respect of their objects be of equal extent, and can by, no means be separated. And here, by the way (the thing being by this argument, in my apprehension, made so clear), I cannot but demand of those who oppose us about the death of Christ, whether they will sustain that he intercedeth for all or no;—if not, then they make him but half a priest; if they will, they must be necessitated either to defend this error, that all shall be saved, or own this blasphemy, that Christ is not heard of his Father, nor can prevail in his intercession, which yet the saints on earth are sure to do when they make their supplications according to the will of God, Rom. 8:27; 1 John 5:14. Besides that, of our Saviour it is expressly said that the Father always heareth him, John 11:42; and if that were true when he was yet in the way, in the days of his flesh, and had not finished the great work be was sent about, how much more then now, when, having done the will and finished the work of God, he is set down on the right hand of the Majesty on high, desiring and requesting the accomplishing of the promises that were made unto him upon his undertaking this work! of which before.
III. The nature of the intercession of Christ will also prove no less than what we assert, requiring an inseparable conjunction between it and its oblation; for as it is now perfected in heaven, it is not a humble dejection of himself, with cries, tears, and supplications; nay, it cannot be conceived to be vocal, by the way of entreaty, but merely real, by the presentation of himself, sprinkled with the blood of the covenant, before the throne of grace in our behalf. “For Christ,” saith the apostle, “is not entered into the holy places made with hands, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us,” Heb. 9:24. His intercession there is an appearing for us in heaven in the presence of God, a demonstration of his sacred body, wherein for us he suffered: for (as we said before) the apostle, in the ninth to the Hebrews, compares his entrance into heaven for us unto the entrance of the high priest into the holy place, which was with the blood of bulls and goats upon him, verses 12, 13; our Saviour’s being with his own blood, so presenting himself that his former oblation might have its perpetual efficacy, until the many sons given unto him are brought to glory. And herein his intercession consisteth, being nothing, as it were, but his oblation continued. He was a “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world,” Rev. 13:8. Now, his intercession before his actual oblation in the fullness of time being nothing but a presenting of the engagement that was upon him for the work in due time to be accomplished, certainly that which follows it is nothing but a presenting of what according to that engagement is fulfilled; so that it is nothing but a continuation of his oblation in postulating, by remembrance and declaration of it, those things which by it were procured. How, then is it possible that the one of these should be of larger compass and extent than the other? Can he be said to offer for them for whom he doth not intercede, when his intercession is nothing but a presenting of his oblation in the behalf of them for whom he suffered, and for the bestowing of those good things which by that were purchased.
IV. Again: if the oblation and death of Christ procured and obtained that every good thing should be bestowed which is actually conferred by the intervening of his intercession, then they have both of them the same aim, and are both means tending to one and the same end. Now, for the proof of this supposal, we must remember that which we delivered before concerning the compact and agreement that was between the Father and the Son, upon his voluntary engaging of himself unto this great work of redemption; for upon that engagement, the Lord proposed unto him as the end of his sufferings, and promised unto him as the reward of his labours, the fruit of his deservings, every thing which be afterward intercedeth for. Many particulars I before instanced in, and therefore now, to avoid repetition, will wholly omit them, referring the reader to chapter III for satisfaction: only, I shall demand what is the ground and foundation of our Saviour’s intercession, understanding it to be by the way of entreaty, either virtual or formal, as it may be conceived to be either real or oral, for the obtaining of any thing. Must it not rest upon some promise made unto him? or is there any good bestowed that is not promised? Is it not apparent that the intercession of Christ doth rest on such a promise as Ps. 2:8, “Ask of me, and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance,” etc? Now, upon what consideration was this promise and engagement made unto our saviour? Was it not for his undergoing of that about which “the kings set themselves, and the rulers took counsel together against him,” verse 2? which the apostles interpret of Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the people of the Jews, persecuting him to death, and doing to him “whatsoever the hand and counsel of God had before determined to be done,” Acts 4:27, 28. The intercession of Christ, then, being founded on promises made unto him, and these promises being nothing but an engagement to bestow and actually collate upon them for whom he suffered all those good things which his death and oblation did merit and purchase, it cannot be but that he intercedeth for all for whom he died, that his death procured all and every thing which upon his intercession is bestowed; and until they are bestowed, it hath not its full fruits and effects. For that which some say, namely, that the death of Christ doth procure that which is never granted, we shall see afterward whether it do not contradict Scripture, yea, and common sense.
V. Further: what Christ hath put together let no man presume to put asunder; distinguish between them they may, but separate them they may not. Now, these things concerning which we treat (the oblation and intercession of Christ) are by himself conjoined, yea united, John 17; for there and then he did both offer and intercede. He did then as perfectly offer himself, in respect of his own will and intention, verse 4, as on the cross; and as perfectly intercede as now in heaven: who, then, can divide these things, or put them asunder? especially considering that the Scripture affirmeth that the one of them without the other would have been unprofitable, I Cor. 15:17; for complete remission and redemption could not be obtained for us without the entering of our high priest into the most holy place, Heb. 9:12.
VI. Lastly, A separating and dividing of the death and intercession of Christ, in respect to the objects of them, cuts off all that consolation which any soul might hope to attain by an assurance that Christ died for him. That the doctrine of the general ransom is an uncomfortable doctrine, cutting all the nerves and sinews of that strong consolation which God is so abundantly willing that we should receive, shall be afterward declared. For the present, I will only show how it trencheth upon our comfort in this particular. The main foundation of all the confidence and assurance whereof in this life we may be made partakers (which amounts to “joy unspeakable, and full of glory”) ariseth from this strict connection of the oblation and intercession of Jesus Christ;—that by the one he hath procured all good things for us, and by the other he will procure them to be actually bestowed, whereby be doth never leave our sins, but follows them into every court, until they be fully pardoned and clearly expiated, Heb. 9: 26. He will never leave us until he hath saved to the uttermost them that come unto God by him. His death without his resurrection would have profited us nothing; all our faith in him had been in vain, I Cor. 15:17. So that separated from it, with the intercession following, either in his own intention or in the several procurements of the one or the other, it will yield us but little consolation; but in this connection it is a sure bottom for a soul to build upon, Heb. 7:25. “What good will it do me to be persuaded that Christ died for my sins, if, notwithstanding that, my sins may appear against me for my condemnation, where and when Christ will not appear for my justification?” If you will ask, with the apostle, “Who is he that condemneth?” “It is Christ that died,” it may easily be answered, Rom. 8:34. “Why, God by his law may condemn me, notwithstanding Christ died for me!” Yea, but saith the apostle, “He is risen again, and sitteth at the right hand of God, making intercession for us” He rests not in his death, but he will certainly make intercession for them for whom he died: and this alone gives firm consolation. Our sins dare not appear, nor any of our accusers against us, where he appeareth for us. Cavilling objections against this text shall be afterward considered; and so I hope I have sufficiently confirmed and proved what in the beginning of this chapter I did propose about the identity of the object of the oblation and intercession of Jesus Christ.
Objections against the former proposal answered
By what was said in the last chapter, it clearly appears that the oblation and intercession of Christ are of equal compass and extent in respect of their objects, or the persons for whom he once offered himself and does continually intercede, and so are to be looked on as one joint means for the attaining of a certain proposed end; which what it is comes next to be considered. But because I find some objections laid by some against the former truth, I must remove them before I proceed; which I shall do “as a man removeth dung until it be all gone.”
The sum of one of our former arguments was,—That to sacrifice and intercede belong both to the same person, as high priest; which name none can answer, neither hath any performed that office, until both by him be accomplished. Wherefore, our Saviour being the most absolute, and, indeed, the only true high priest, in whom were really all those perfections which in others received a weak typical representation, doth perform both these in the behalf of them for whose sakes he was such.
I. An argument not unlike to this I find by some to be undertaken to be answered, being in these words proposed, “The ransom and mediation of Christ is no larger than his office of priest, prophet, and king; but these offices pertain to his church and chosen therefore his ransom pertains to them only.”
The intention and meaning of the argument is the same with what we proposed,—namely, that Christ offered nothing for them for whom he is no priest, and he is a priest only for them for whom he does also intercede. If afterward I shall have occasion to make use of this argument, I shall, by the Lord’s assistance, give more weight and strength to it than it seems to have in their proposal, whose interest it is to present it as slightly as possible, that they may seem fairly to have waived it. But the evasion, such as it is, let us look upon.
“This,” saith the answerer, “is a sober objection;” which friendly term I imagined at first he had given for this reason, because he found it kind and easy to be satisfied. But reading the answer and finding that, so wide from yielding any color or appearance of what was pretended, it only served him to vent some new, weak, false conceptions, I imagined that it must be some other kindness that caused him to give this “objection,” as he calls it, so much milder an entertainment than those others, which equally gall him, which hear nothing but, “This is horrid, that blasphemy, that detestable, abominable, and false,” as being, indeed, by those of his persuasion neither to be endured nor avoided. And at length I conceived that the reason of it was intimated in the first words of his pretended answer; which are, that “this objection doth not deny the death of Christ for all men, but only his ransom and mediation for all men.” Now, truly, if it be so, I am not of his judgment, but so far from thinking it a “sober objection,” that I cannot be persuaded that any man in his right wits would once propose it. That Christ should die for all, and yet not be a ransom for all, himself affirming that he came to “give his life a ransom for many,” Matt. 20:28, is to me a plain contradiction. The death of Christ, in the first most general notion and apprehension thereof, is a ransom. Nay, do not this answerer and those who are of the same persuasion with him make the ransom of as large extent as any thing in, or about, or following the death of Christ? Or have they yet some farther distinction to make, or rather division about the ends of the death of Christ? as we have had already: “For some he not only paid a ransom, but also intercedeth for them; which be doth not for all for whom he paid a ransom.” Will they now go a step backward, and say that for some he not only died, but also paid a ransom for them; which he did not for all for whom he died? Who, then, were those that he thus died for? They must be some beyond all and every man; for, as they contend, for them he paid a ransom. But let us see what he says farther; in so easy a cause as this it is a shame to take advantages.
“The answer to this objection,” saith be, “is easy and plain in the Scripture, for the mediation of Christ is both more general and more special;—more general, as he is the ‘one mediator between God and men,’ I Tim. 2:5; and more special, as he is ‘the mediator of the new testament, that they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance’ Heb. 9:15. According to that it is said, =91He is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe,’ I Tim 4:10. So in all the offices of Christ, the priest, the prophet, the king, there is that which is more general, and that which is more special and peculiar.”
And this is that which he calls a clear and plain answer from the Scripture, leaving the application of it unto the argument to other men’s conjecture; which, as far as I can conceive, must be thus:—It is true Christ paid a ransom for none but those for whom he is a mediator and priest; but Christ is to be considered two ways:
First, As a general mediator and priest for all; secondly, As a special mediator and priest for some. Now, he pays the ransom as a general mediator. This I conceive may be some part of his meaning; for in itself the whole is in expression so barbarous and remote from common sense,—in substance such a wild, unchristian madness, as contempt would far better suit it than a reply. The truth is, for sense and expression in men who, from their manual trades, leap into the office of preaching and employment of writing, I know no reason why we should expect. Only, it can never enough be lamented that wildness, in such tattered rags, should find entertainment, whilst sober truth is shut out of doors; for what, I pray you, is the meaning of this distinction, “Christ is either a general mediator between God and man, or a special mediator of the new testament?” Was it ever heard before that Christ was any way a mediator but as he is so of the new testament? A mediator is not of one; all mediation respects an agreement of several parties; and every mediator is the mediator of a covenant. Now, if Christ be a mediator more generally than as he is so of the new covenant, of what covenant, I beseech you, was that? Of the covenant of works? Would not such an assertion overthrow the whole gospel? Would it not be derogatory to the honour of Jesus Christ that he should be the mediator of a canceled covenant? Is it not contrary to Scripture, affirming ‘him a “surety” (not of the first, but) “of a better testament?” Heb. 7:22. Are not such bold assertors fitter to be catechized than to preach? But we must not let it pass thus. The man harps upon something that he hath heard from some Arminian doctor, though he hath dad the ill-hap so poorly to make out his conceptions. Wherefore, being in some measure acquainted with their occasions, which they color with those texts of Scripture which are here produced, I shall briefly remove the poor shift, that so our former argument may stand unshaken.
The poverty of the answer, as before expressed, hath been sufficiently already declared. The fruits of Christ’s mediation have been distinguished by some into those that are more general and those which are more peculiar, which, in some sense, may be tolerable; but that the offices of Christ should be said to be either general or peculiar, and himself in relation to them so considered, is a gross, unshaped fancy. I answer, then, to the thing intended, that we deny any such general mediation, or function of office in general, in Christ, as should extend itself beyond his church or chosen. It was his “church” which he “redeemed with his own blood,” Acts 20:28; his “church” that “he loved and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church,” Eph. 5:25-27. They were his “sheep” he “laid down his life for,” John 10:15; and “appeareth in heaven for us,” Heb. 9:24. Not one word of mediating for any other in the Scripture. Look upon his incarnation. It was “because the children were partakers of flesh and blood,” chap. 2:14; not because all the world were so. Look upon his oblation: “For their sakes,” saith he, (“those whom thou hast given me,”) “do l sanctify myself,” John 17:19; that is, to be an oblation, which was the work he had then in hand. Look upon his resurrection: “He was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification,” Rom. 4:25. Look upon his ascension: “I go,” saith he, “to my Father and your Father, and that to prepare a place for you,” John 14:2. Look upon his perpetuated intercession. Is it not to “save to the uttermost them that come unto God by him?” Heb. 7:25. Not one word of this general mediation for all. Nay, if you will hear himself, he denies in plain terms to mediate for all: “I pray not,” saith he, “for the world, but for them which then hast given me,” John 17:9.
But let us see what is brought to confirm this distinction. I Tim. 2: 5 is quoted for the maintenance thereof: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” What then, I pray? what will be concluded hence? Cannot Christ be a mediator between God and men, but he must be a mediator for all men? Are not the elect men? do not the children partake of flesh and blood? doth not his church consist of men? What reason is there to assert, out of an indefinite proposition, a universal conclusion? Because Christ was a mediator for men (which were true had he been so only for his apostles), shall we conclude therefore he was so for all men? “Apage nugas!” But let us see another proof, which haply may give more strength to the uncouth distinction we oppose, and that is I Tim. 4:10, “Who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.” Had it been, “Who is the Mediator of all men, specially of them that believe,” it had been more likely. But the consciences, or at least the foreheads of these men! Is there any word here spoken of Christ as mediator? Is it not the “living God” in whom we trust that is the Saviour here mentioned, as the words going before in the same verse are? And is Christ called so in respect of his mediation? That God the Father is often called Saviour I showed before, and that he is here intended, as is agreed upon by all sound interpreters, so also it is clear from the matter in hand, which is the protecting providence of God, general towards all, special and peculiar towards his church. Thus he is said to “save man and beast,” Ps. 36:6, rendering the Hebrew, Yasha, by the Greek, Soter, “Thou shalt save or preserve.” It is God, then, that is here called the “Saviour of all,” by deliverance and protection in danger, of which the apostle treats, and that by his providence, which is peculiar towards believers; and what this makes for a universal mediation I know not.
Now, the very context in this place will not admit of any other interpretation; for the words render a reason why, notwithstanding all the injury and reproaches wherewith the people of God are continually assaulted, yet they should cheerfully go forward to run with joy the race that is set before them; even because as God preserveth all (for “in him we live, and move, and have our being,” Acts 17:28; Ps. 145:14-16), so that he will not suffer any to be injured and unrevenged, Gen. 9:5, so is he especially the preserver of them that do believe; for they are as the apple of his eye, Zech. 2:8; Dent. 32:10. So that if he should suffer them to be pressed for a season, yet let them not let go their hope and confidence, nor be weary of well-doing, but still rest on and trust in him. This encouragement being that which the apostle was to lay down, what motive would it be hereunto to tell believers that God would have those saved who neither do nor ever will or shall believe?—that I say nothing how strange it seems that Christ should be the Saviour of them who are never saved, to whom he never gives grace to believe, for whom be denies to intercede, John 17:9; which yet is no small part of his mediation whereby he saves sinners. Neither the subject, then, nor the predicate proposition, “He is the Saviour of all men,” is rightly apprehended by them who would wrest it to the maintenance of universal redemption. For the subject, “He,” it is God the Father, and not Christ the mediator; and for the predicate, it is a providential preservation, and not a purchased salvation that is intimated;—that is, the providence of God protecting and governing all. but watching in an especial manner for the good of them that are his, that they be not always unjustly and cruelly traduced and reviled, with other pressures, that the apostle here rests upon; as also he shows that it was his course to do, 2 Cor. 1:9,10: “But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver us: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;” for “he is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.” If any shall conceive that these words (“Because we hope in the living God, who is,” etc.) do not render an account of the ground of Paul’s confidence in going through with his labours and afflictions, but rather are an expression of the head and sum of that doctrine for which he was so turmoiled and afflicted, I will not much oppose it; for then, also, it includes nothing but an assertion of the true God and dependence on him, in opposition to all the idols of the Gentiles, and other vain conceits whereby they exalted themselves into the throne of the Most High. But that Christ should be said to be a Saviour of,—I. Those who are never saved from their sins, as he saves his people, Matt. 1:21;— 2. Of those who never hear one word of saving or a Saviour; —3. That he should be a Savio wofold sense,–(1.) For all, (2.) For believers;—4. That to believe is the condition whereby Christ becomes a Saviour in an especial manner unto any, and that condition not procured nor purchased by him;- -that this, I say, is the sense of this place, “credat Judaeus Apella:” To me nothing is more certain than that to whom Christ is in any sense a Saviour in the work of redemption, he saves them to the uttermost from all their sins of infidelity and disobedience, with the saving of grace here and glory hereafter.
II. Farther attempts, also, there are to give strength to this evasion, and so to invalidate our former argument, which I must also remove.
“Christ,” say they, (More’s universality of Grace) “in some sort intercedeth and putteth in for transgressors, even the sons of men, yet in and of the world, that the Spirit may so still unite and bless those that believe on him, and so go forth in their confessions and conversations, and in the ministration of the gospel by his servants, that those among whom they dwell and converse might be convinced and brought to believe the report of the gospel, Isa. 53:12; as once, Luke 23:34; as himself left a pattern to us, John 27:21-23; that so the men of the world might be convinced, and the convinced allured to Christ and to God in him, Matt. 5:14-16; yea, so as that he doth in some measure enlighten every man that cometh into the world, John 1:9. But in a more special manner doth he intercede,” etc.
Here is a twofold intercession of Christ as mediator:–I. For all sinners, that they may believe (for that is it which is intended by the many cloudy expressions wherein it is involved). 2. For believers, that they may be saved. It is the first member of the distinction which we oppose; and therefore must insist a little upon it.
First, Our author saith, “It is an interceding in some sort.” I ask, in what sort? Is it directly, or indirectly? Is it by virtue of his blood shed for them, or otherwise? Is it with an intention and desire to obtain for them the good things interceded for, or with purpose that they shall go without them? Is it for all and every man, or only for those who live in the outward pale of the church? Is faith the thing required for them, or something else? Is that desired absolutely, or upon some condition? All which queries must be clearly answered before this general intercession can be made intelligible.
First, Whether it be directly or indirectly, and by consequence only, that this intercession after a sort is used, for that thing interceded for is represented not as the immediate issue or aim of the prayer of Christ, but as a reflex arising from a blessing obtained by others; for the prayer set down is that God would so bless believers, that those amongst whom they dwell may believe the report of the gospel. It is believers that are the direct object of this intercession, and others are only glanced at through them. The good also so desired for them is considered either as an accident that may come to pass, or follow the flourishing of believers, or as an end intended to be accomplished by it. If the first, then their good is no more intended than their evil. If the latter, why is it not effected? why is not the intention of our Saviour accomplished? Is it for want of wisdom to choose suitable and proportionable means to the end proposed? or is it for want of power to effect what he intendeth?
Secondly, Is it by virtue of his blood shed for them, or otherwise? – If it be, then Christ intercedeth for them that they may enjoy those things which for them by his oblation he did procure; for this it is to make his death and blood-shedding to be the foundation of his intercession; then it follows that Christ by his death procured faith for all, because he intercedeth that all may believe, grounding that intercession upon the merit of his death. But, first, this is more than the assertors of universal redemption will sustain; among all the ends of the death of Christ by them assigned, the effectual and infallible bestowing of faith on those for whom he died is none: secondly, if by his death he hath purchased it for all, and by intercession entreateth for it, why is it not actually bestowed on them? is not a concurrence of both these sufficient for the making out of that one spiritual blessing?–But, secondly, If it be not founded on his death and blood-shedding, then we desire that they would describe unto us this intercession of Christ, differing from his appearing for us in heaven sprinkled with his own blood.
Thirdly, Doth he intercede for them that they should believe, with an intention or desire that they should do so, or no? If not, it is but a mock intercession, and an entreaty for that which he would not have granted. If so, why is it not accomplished? why do not all believe? Yea, if he died for all, and prayed for all, that they might believe, why are not all saved? for Christ is always heard of his Father, John 11:42.
Fourthly, Is it for all and every one in the world that Christ makes this intercession, or only for those who live within the pale of the church? If only for these latter, then this doth not prove a general intercession for all, but only one more large than that for believers; for if he leaves out any one in the world, the present hypothesis falls to the ground. If for all, how can it consist in that petition, “that the Spirit would so lead, guide, and bless believers, and so go forth in the ministration of the gospel by his servants, that others (that is, all and every one in the world) may be convinced and brought to believe?” How, l say, can this be spoken with any reference to those millions of souls that never see a believer, that hear no report of the gospel?
Fifthly, If his intercession be for faith, then either Christ intercedeth for it absolutely, that they may certainly have it, or upon condition, and that either on the part of God or man.—If absolutely, then all do actually believe; or that is not true, the Father always bears him, John 11:42. If upon condition on the part of God, it can be nothing but this, if he will or please. Now, the adding of this condition may denote in our Saviour two things:—I. A nescience of what is, his Father’s will in the thing interceded for: which, first, cannot stand with the unity of his person as now in glory; and, secondly, cannot be, because he hath the assurance of a promise to be heard in whatever he asketh, Ps. 2:8. Or, 2. An advancement of his Father’s will, by submission to that as the prime cause of the good to be bestowed; which may well stand with absolute intercession, by virtue whereof all must believe.—Secondly, Is it a condition on the part of those for whom he doth intercede? Now, I beseech you, what condition is that? where in the Scripture assigned? where is it said that Christ doth intercede for men that they may have faith if they do such and such things? Nay, what condition can rationally be assigned of this desire? “Some often intimate that it is, if they suffer the Spirit to have his work upon their hearts, and obey the grace of God.” Now, what is it to obey the grace of God? Is it not to believe? Therefore, it seems that Christ intercedeth for them that they may believe, upon condition that they do believe. Others, more cautiously, assert the good using of the means of grace that they do enjoy to be the condition upon which the benefit of this intercession doth depend. But again,—I. What is the good using of the means of grace but submitting to them, that is, believing? and so we are as before. 2. All have not the means of grace, to use well or ill. 3. Christ prays that they may use the means of grace well, or he doth not. If not, then how can he pray that they may believe, seeing to use well the means of grace, by yielding obedience unto them, is indeed to believe? If he do, then he doth it absolutely, or upon condition, and so the argument is renewed again as in the entrance. Many more reasons might be easily produced to show the madness of this assertion, but those may suffice. Only we must look upon the proof and confirmations of it.
First, then, the words of the prophet Isaiah, chap. 53:12, “He made intercession for the transgressors,” are insisted on.—Ans. The transgressors here, for whom our Saviour is said to make intercession, are either all the transgressors for whom he suffered, as is most likely from the description we have of them, verse 6, or the transgressors only by whom he suffered, that acted in his sufferings, as some suppose. If the first, then this place proves that Christ intercedes for all those for whom be suffered; which differs not from that which we contend for. If the latter, then we may consider it as accomplished. How he then did it, so it is here foretold that he should, which is the next place urged, namely,—
Luke 23:34, “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do”—Ans. The conclusion which from these words is inferred being, “Therefore there is a general intercession for all, that they may believe,” I might well leave the whole argument to the silent judgment of men, without any farther opening and discovery of its invalidity and weakness; but because the ablest of that side have usually insisted much on this place for a general successless intercession, I will a little consider the inference its dependence on these words of the gospel, and search whether it have any appearance of strength in it. To which end we must observe,—
Secondly, That this prayer is not for all men, but only for that handful of the Jews by whom be was crucified. Now, from a prayer for them to infer a prayer for all and every man that ever were, are, or shall be, is a wild deduction.
It doth not appear that he prayed for all his crucifers neither, but only for those who did it out of ignorance, as appears by the reason annexed to his supplication: “For they know not what they do.” And though, Acts 3:17, it is said that the rulers also did it ignorantly, yet that all of them did so is not apparent; that some did is certain from that place; and so it is that some of them were converted, as afterward. Indefinite propositions must not in such things be made universal. Now, doth it follow that because Christ prayed for the pardon of their sins who crucified him out of ignorance, as some of them did, that therefore he intercedeth for all that they may believe; crucifers who never once heard of his crucifying?
Thirdly, Christ in those words doth not so much as pray for those men that they might believe, but only that that sin of them in crucifying of him might be forgiven, not laid to their charge. Hence to conclude, therefore he intercedeth for all men that they may believe, even because he prayed that the sin of crucifying himself might be forgiven them that did it, is a strange inference.
Fourthly, There is another evident limitation in the business; for among his crucifiers he prays only for them that were present at his death, amongst whom, doubtless, many came more out of curiosity, to see and observe, as is usual in such cases, than out of malice and despite. So that whereas some urge that notwithstanding this prayer, yet the chief of the priests continued in their unbelief, it is not to the purpose, for it cannot be proved that they were present at his crucifying.
Fifthly, It cannot be affirmed with any probability that our Saviour should pray for all and every one of them, supposing some of them to be finally impenitent: for he himself knew full well “what was in man,” John 2:25; yea, he “knew from the beginning who they were that believed not,” chap. 6:64. Now, it is contrary to the rule which we have, 1 John 5:16, “There is a sin unto death,” etc., to pray for them whom we know to be finally impenitent, and to sin unto death.
Sixthly, It seems to me that this supplication was effectual and successful, that the Son was heard in this request also, faith and forgiveness being granted to them for whom he prayed; so that this makes nothing for a general, ineffectual intercession, it being both special and effectual: for, Acts 3., of them whom Peter tells, that they “denied the Holy One, and desired a murderer,” verse 14, “and killed the Prince of Life,” verse 15,—of these, I say, five thousand believed: chap. :44, “Many of them which heard the word believed, and the number of them was about five thousand.” And if any others were among them whom our Saviour prayed for, they might be converted afterward. Neither were the rulers without the compass of the fruits of this prayer; for “a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith,” chap. 6:7. So that nothing can possibly be hence inferred for the purpose intended.
Seventhly, We may, nay we must, grant a twofold praying in our Saviour-one, by virtue of his office as he was mediator; the other, in answer of his duty, as he was subject to the law. It is true, he who was mediator was made subject to the law; but yet those things which be did in obedience to the law as a private person were not acts of mediation, nor works of him as mediator, though of him who was mediator. Now, as he, was subject to the law, our Saviour was bound to forgive offences and wrongs done unto him, and to pray for his enemies; as also he had taught us to do, whereof in this he gave us an example: Matt. 5:44, “I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” which doubtless he inferreth from that law, Lev. 19:18, “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself,”-quite contrary to the wicked gloss put upon it by the Pharisees. And in this sense our Saviour here, as a private person, to whom revenge was forbidden, pardon enjoined, prayer commanded, prays for his very enemies and crucifers; which doth not at all concern his interceding for us as mediator, wherein he was always heard, and so is nothing to the purpose in hand.
Again, John 17:21-23 is urged to confirm this general intercession, which we have exploded; our Saviour praying that, by the unity, concord, and flourishing of his servants, the world might believe and know that God had sent him. From which words, though some make a seeming flourish, yet the thing pretended is no way confirmed; for,—
First, If Christ really intended and desired that the whole world, or all men in the world, should believe, he would also, no doubt, have prayed for more effectual means of grace to be granted unto them than only a beholding of the blessed condition of his (which yet is granted only to a small part of the world); at least for the preaching of the word to them all that by it, as the only ordinary way, they might come to the knowledge of him. But this we do not find that ever he prayed for, or that God hath granted it; nay, he blessed his Father that so it was not, because so it seemed good in his sight, Matt. 11:25, 26.
Secondly, Such a gloss or interpretation must not be put upon the place as should run cross to the express words of our Saviour, verse 9, “I pray not for the world;” for if he here prayed that the world should have true, holy, saving faith, he prayed for as great a blessing and privilege for the world as any he procured or interceded for his own. Wherefore,—
Thirdly, Say some, the world is here taken for the world of the elect, the world to be saved,—God’s people throughout the world. Certain it is that the world is not here taken properly pro mundo continente, for the world containing, but figuratively pro mundo contento, for the world contained, or men in the world. Neither can it be made appear that it must be taken universally, for all the men in the world, as seldom it is in the Scripture, which afterward we shall make appear; but it may be understood indefinitely, for men in the world, few or more, as the elect are in their several generations. But this exposition, though it hath great authors I cannot absolutely adhere unto, because through this whole chapter the world is taken either for the world of reprobates, opposed to them that are given to Christ by his Father, or for the world of unbelievers (the same men under another notion), opposed to them who are committed to his Father by Christ Wherefore I answer,—
Fourthly, That by believing, verse 21, and knowing, verse 23, is not meant believing in a strict sense, or a saving comprehension and receiving of Jesus Christ, and so becoming the sons of God,—which neither ever was, nor ever will be, fulfilled in every man in the world, nor was ever prayed for,—but a conviction and acknowledgment that the Lord Christ is not, what before they had taken him to be, a seducer and a false prophet, but indeed what he said, one that came out from God, able to protect and do good for and to his own: which kind of conviction and acknowledgment that it is often termed believing in the Scripture is more evident than that it should need to be proved; and that this is here meant the evidence of the thing is such as that it is consented unto by expositors of all sorts. Now, this is not for any good of the world, but for the vindication of his people and the exaltation of his own glory; and so proves not at all the thing in question. But of this word “world” afterward.
The following place of Matthew, chap. 5:15, 16 (containing some instructions given by our Saviour to his apostles, so to improve the knowledge and light which of him they had, and were farther to receive, in the preaching of the word and holiness of life, that they might be a means to draw men to glorify God) is certainly brought in to make up a show of a number, as very many other places are, the author not once considering what is to be proved by them, nor to what end they are used; and therefore without farther inquiry may well be laid aside, as not it all belonging to the business in hand, nor to be dragged within many leagues of the conclusion, by all the strength and skill of Mr More.
Neither is that other place of John, chap. 1:9, any thing more advisedly or seasonably urged, though wretchedly glossed, and rendered, “In some measure enlightening every one that comes into the world.” The Scripture says that “Christ is the true Light, that lighteth every man that cometh into the world;” In some measure,” says Mr More. Now, I beseech you, in what measure is this? How far, unto what degree, in what measure, is illumination from Christ? by whom or by what means, separated from him, independent of him, is the rest made up? who supplies the defect of Christ? I know your aim is to hug in your illumination by the light of nature, and I know not what common helps that you dream of, towards them who are utterly deprived of all gospel means of grace, and that not only for the knowledge of God as Creator, but also of him as in Christ the Redeemer: but whether the calves of your own setting up should be thus sacrificed unto, with wresting and perverting the word of God, and undervaluing of the grace of Christ, you will one day, I hope, be convinced. It sufficeth us that Christ is said to enlighten every one, because he is the only true light, and every one that is enlightened receiveth his light from him, who is the sum, the fountain thereof. And so the general defence of this general, ineffectual intercession is vanished. But yet farther, it is particularly replied, concerning the priesthood of Christ, that,—
III. “As a priest in respect of one end, he offered sacrifice,—that is, propitiation for all men, Heb. 2:9, 9:26; John 1:29; 1 John 2:2; -in respect of all the ends, propitiation, and sealing the new testament, and testification to the truth;–and of the uttermost end in all, for his called and chosen ones, Heb. 9:14, 15; Matt. 26:28.” (What follows after, being repeated out of another place, hath been already answered.)
Ans. First, These words, as here placed, have no tolerable sense in them, neither is it an easy thing to gather the mind of the author out of them, so far are they from being a clear answer to the argument, as was pretended. Words of Scripture, indeed, are used, but wrested and corrupted, not only to the countenance of error, but to bear a part in unreasonable expressions. For what, I pray, is the meaning of these words: “He offered sacrifice in respect of one end, then of all ends, then of the uttermost end in all?” To inquire backwards:—I. What is this “uttermost end in all?” Is that “in all,” in or among all the ends proposed and accomplished? or in all those for whom he offered sacrifice? or is it the uttermost end and proposal of God and Christ in his oblation? If this latter, that is the glory of God; now there is no such thing once intimated in the places of Scripture quoted, Heb. 9:14, 15; Matt. 26:28. 2. Do those places hold out the uttermost end of the death of Christ (subordinate to God’s glory)? Why, in one of them it is the obtaining of redemption, and in the other the shedding of his blood for the remission of sins is expressed! Now, all this you affirm to be the first end of the death of Christ, in the first words used in this place calling it “propitiation,”—that is, an atonement for the remission of sins; which remission of sins and redemption are for the substance one and the same, both of them the immediate fruits and first end of the death of Christ, as is apparent, Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14. So here you have confounded the first and last end of the death of Christ, spoiling, indeed, and casting down (as you may lawfully do, for it is your own), the whole frame and building, whose foundation is this, that there be several and diverse ends of the death of Christ towards several persons, so that some of them belong unto all, and all of them only to some; which is the “protos pseudos” of the whole book. 3. Christ’s offering himself to put away sin, out of Heb. 9:26, [you make to be] the place for the first end of the death of Christ, and his sledding of his blood for the remission of sins, from Matt. 26:8, to be the last! Pray, when you write next, give us the difference between these two. 4. You say, “He offered sacrifice in respect of one end,- -that is, propitiation for all men.” Now, truly, if ye know the meaning of sacrifice and propitiation, this will scarce appear sense unto you upon a second view.
But, [secondly,] to leave your words and take your meaning, it seems to be this, in respect of one end that Christ proposed to himself in his sacrifice, he is a priest for all, be aimed to attain and accomplish it for them; but in respect of other ends, he is so only for his chosen and called. Now, truly, this is an easy kind of answering, which, if it will pass for good and warrantable, you may easily disappoint all your adversaries, even first by laying down their arguments, then saying your own opinion is otherwise; for the very thing that is here imposed on us for an answer is the the chief matter in debate. We absolutely deny that the several ends of the death of Christ, or the good things procured by his death, are thus distributed as is here pretended. To prove our assertion, and to give a reason of our denial of this dividing of these things in respect of their objects, we produce the argument above proposed concerning the priesthood of Christ; to which the answer given is a bare repetition of the thing in question.
But you will say divers places of Scripture are quoted for the confirmation of this answer. But these, as I told you before, are brought forth for pomp and show, nothing at all being to be found in them to the business in hand; such are Heb. 9:26; John 1:29. For what consequence is there from an affirmation indefinite, that Christ bare or took away sin, to this, that he is a priest for all and every one in respect of propitiation? Besides, in that of John 1:9 there is a manifest allusion to the paschal lamb, by which there was a typical, ceremonial purification and cleansing of sin; which was proper only to the people of Israel, the type of the elect of God, and not of all in the world, of all sorts, reprobates and unbelievers also. Those other two Places of Heb. 2:9, 1 John 2:2, shall be considered apart, because they seem to have some strength for the main of the cause; though apparently there is no word in them that can be wrested to give the least color to such an uncouth distinction as that which we oppose. And thus our argument from the equal objective extent of the oblation and intercession of Jesus Christ is confirmed and vindicated, and, withal, the means used by the blessed Trinity for the accomplishment of the proposed end unfolded; which end, what it was, is next to be considered.
End of Book I