Dr. John Owen (1616-1683)
The Death of Death, Book 2
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.
Some previous considerations to a more particular inquiry after the proper end and effect of the death of Christ.
The main thing upon which the whole controversy about the death of Christ turneth, and upon which the greatest weight of the business dependeth, comes next to our consideration, being that which we have prepared the way unto by all that hath been already said. It is about the proper end of the death of Christ; which whoso can rightly constitute and make manifest may well be admitted for a day’s-man and umpire in the whole contestation: for if it be the end of Christ’s death which most of our adversaries assign, we will not deny but that Christ died for all and every one; and if that be the end of it which we maintain so to be, they will not extend it beyond the elect, beyond believers. This, then, must be fully cleared and solidly confirmed by them who hope for any success in their undertakings. The end of the death of Christ we asserted, in the beginning of our discourse, to be our approximation or drawing nigh unto God; that being a general expression for the whole reduction and recovery of sinners from the state of alienation, misery, and wrath, into grace, peace, and eternal communion with him. Now, there being a twofold end in things, one of the worker, the other of the work wrought, we have manifested how that, unless it be either for want of wisdom and certitude of mind in the agent, in choosing and using unsuitable means for the attaining of the end proposed, or for want of skill and power to make use of and rightly to improve well proportioned means to the best advantage, these things are always coincident; the work effecteth what the workman intendeth. In the business in hand, the agent is the blessed Three in One, as was before declared; and the means whereby they collimed and aimed at the end proposed were the oblation and intercession of Jesus Christ, which are united, intending the same object, as was also cleared. Now, unless we will blasphemously ascribe want of wisdom, power, perfection, and sufficiency in working unto the agent, or affirm that the death and intercession of Christ were not suitable and proportioned for the attaining the end proposed by it to be effected, we must grant that the end of these is one and the same. Whatsoever the blessed Trinity intended by them, that was effected; and whatsoever we find in the issue ascribed unto thein, that by them the blessed Trinity intended. So that we shall have no cause to consider these apart, unless it be sometimes to argue from the one to the other; — as, where we find any thing ascribed to the death of Christ, as the fruit thereof, we may conclude that that God intended to effect by it; and so also on the contrary.
Now, the end of the death of Christ is either supreme and ultimate, or intermediate and subservient to that last end.
1. The first is the glory of God, or the manifestation of his glorious attributes, especially of his justice, and mercy tempered with justice, unto us. The Lord doth necessarily aim at himself in the first place, as the chiefest good, yea, indeed, that alone which is good; that is, absolutely and simply so, and not by virtue of communication from another: and therefore in all his works, especially in this which we have in hand, the chiefest of all, he first intends the manifestation of his own glory; which also he fully accomplisheth in the close, to every point and degree by him intended. He “maketh all things for himself,” Prov. xvi. 4; and every thing in the end must “redound to the glory of God,” 2 Cor. iv. 15; wherein Christ himself is said to be “God’s,” 1 Cor. iii. 23, serving to his glory in that whole administration that was committed to him. So, Eph. i. 6, the whole end of all this dispensation, both of choosing us from eternity, redeeming us by Christ, blessing us with all spiritual blessings in him, is affirmed to be “the praise of the glory of his grace;” and, verse 12, “That we should be to the praise of his glory.” This is the end of all the benefits we receive by the death of Christ; for “we are filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God,” Phil. i. 11; — which also is fully asserted, chap. ii. 11, “That every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” This the apostle fully clears in the ninth to the Romans, where he so asserts the supreme dominion and independency of God in all his actions, his absolute freedom from taking rise, cause, or occasion to his purposes, from any thing among us sons of men, doing all things for his own sake, and aiming only at his own glory. And this is that which in’ the close of all shall be accomplished, when every creature shall say, “Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever,” Rev. v. 13.
2. There is an end of the death of Christ which is intermediate and subservient to that other, which is the last and most supreme, even the sects which it hath in respect of us, and that is it of which we now treat; which, as we before affirmed, is the bringing of us unto God. Now, this, though in reference to the oblation and intercession of Christ it be one entire end, yet in itself, and in respect of the relation which the several acts therein have one to another, may be considered distinctly in two parts, whereof one is the end and the other the means for the attaining of that end; both the complete end of the mediation of Christ in respect of us. The ground and cause of this is the appointment of the Lord that there should be such a connection and coherence between the things purchased for us by Jesus Christ, that the one should be a means and way of attaining the other,– the one the condition, and the other the thing promised upon that condition, but hath equally and alike procured for us by Jesus Christ; for if either be omitted in his purchase, the other would be vain and fruitless, as we shall afterward declare. Now, both these consist in a communication of God and his goodness unto us (and our participation of him by virtue thereof); and that either to grace or glory, holiness or blessedness, faith or salvation. In this last way they are usually called, faith being the means of which we speak, and salvation the end; faith the condition, salvation the promised inheritance. Under the name of faith we comprise all saving grace that accompanies it; and under the name of salvation, the whole ” glory to be revealed,” the liberty of the glory of the children of God, Rom. viii., 18, 21,– all that blessedness which consisteth in an eternal fruition of the blessed God. With faith go all the effectual means thereof, both external and internal; — the word and almighty sanctifying Spirit; all advancement of state and condition attending it, as justification, reconciliation, and adoption into the family of God; all fruits flowing from it in sanctification and universal holiness; with all other privileges and enjoyments of believers here, which follow the redemption and reconciliation purchased for them by the oblation of Christ. A real, effectual, and infallible bestowing and applying of all these things,– as well those that are the means as those that are the end, the condition as the thing conditioned about, faith and grace as salvation and glory,– unto all and every one for whom he died, do we maintain to be the end proposed and effected by the blood-shedding of Jesus Christ, with those other acts of his mediatorship which we before declared to be therewith inseparably conjoined: so that every one for whom he died and offered up himself hath, by virtue of his death or oblation, a right purchased for him unto all these things, which in due time he shall certainly and infallibly enjoy; or (which is all one), the end of Christ’s obtaining grace and glory with his Father was, that they might be certainly bestowed upon all those for whom he died, some of them upon condition that they do believe, but faith itself absolutely upon no condition at all. All which we shall farther illustrate and confirm, after we have removed some false ends assigned.
Containing a removal of some mistakes and false assignations of the end of the death of Christ.
THAT the death, oblation, and blood-shedding of Jesus Christ is to be considered as the means for the compassing of an appointed end was before abundantly declared; and that such a means as is not in itself any way desirable but for the attaining of that end. Now, because that which is the end of any thing must also be good, for unless it be so it cannot be an end (for bonumet finis convertuntur), it must be either his Father’s good, or his own good, or our good, which was the end proposed.
I. That it was not merely his own is exceedingly apparent. For in his divine nature he was eternally and essentially partaker of all that glory which is proper to the Deity; which though in respect of us it be capable of more or less manifestation, yet in itself it is always alike eternally and absolutely perfect. And in this regard, at the close of all, he desires and requests no other glory but that which he had with his Father “before the world was,” John xvii. 5. And in respect of his human nature, as he was eternally predestinated, without any foresight of doing or suffering, to be personally united, from the instant of his conception, with the second person of the Trinity, so neither while he was in the way did he merit any thing for himself by his death and oblation. He needed not to suffer for himself, being perfectly and legally righteous; and the glory that he aimed at, by “enduring the cross, and despising the shame,” was not so much his own, in respect of possession, by the exaltation of his own nature, as the bringing of many children to glory, even as it was in the promise set before him, as we before at large declared. His own exaltation, indeed, and power over all flesh, and his appointment to be Judge of the quick and the dead, was a consequent of his deep humiliation and suffering; but that it was the effect and product of it, procured meritoriously by it, that it was the end aimed at by him in his making satisfaction for sin, that we deny. Christ hath a power and dominion over all, but the foundation of this dominion is not in his death for all; for he hath dominion over all things, being appointed ” heir of them, and upholding them all by the word of his power,” Heb. i. 2, 3. “He is set over the works of God’s hands, and all things are put in subjection under him,” chap. ii. 7, 8. And what are those “all things,” or what are amongst them, you may see in the place of the psalmist from whence the apostle citeth these words, Ps. viii. 5 — 8. And did he die for all these things? Nay, hath he not power over the angels? are not principalities and powers made subject to him? Shall he not at the last day judge the angels? for with him the saints shall do it, by giving attestation to his righteous judgments, l. Cor. vi. 2, 3; — and yet, is it not expressly said that the angels have no share in the whole dispensation of God manifested in the flesh, so as to die for them to redeem them from their sins? of which some had no need, and the others are eternally excluded: Heb. ii. 16, “He took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham,” God setting him “king upon his holy hill of Zion,” in despite of his enemies, to bruise them and to rule them “with a rod of iron,” Ps. ii. 6, 9, is not the immediate effect of his death for them, but rather all things are given into his hand out of the immediate love of the Father to his Son, John iii. 35; Matt. xi. 27. That is the foundation of all this sovereignty and dominion over all creatures, with this power of judging that is put into his hand.
Besides, be it granted (which cannot be proved) that Christ by his death did precure this power of judging, would any thing hence follow that might be beneficial to the proving of the general ransom for all? No, doubtless; this dominion and power of judging is a power of condemning as well as saving; it is “all judgment” that is committed to him, John v. 22. “He hath authority given unto him to execute judgment, because he is the Son of man;” that is, at that hour ” when all that are in their graves shall hear his voice and come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation,” verses 27 — 29; 2 Cor. v. 10. Now, can it be reasonably asserted that Christ died for men to redeem them, that he might have power to condemn? Nay, do not these two overthrow one another? If he redeemed thee by his death, then he did not aim at the obtaining of any power to condemn thee; if he did the latter, then that former was not in his intention.
II. Nor, secondly, was it his Father’s good. I speak now of the proximate and immediate end and product of the death of Christ, not of the ultimate and remote, knowing that the supreme end of Christ’s oblation, and all the benefits purchased and procured by it, was “the praise of his glorious grace;” but for this other, it doth not directly tend to the obtaining of any thing unto God, but of all good things from God to us. Arminius, with his followers, with the other Universalists of our days, affirm this to be the end proposed, that God might, his justice being satisfied, save sinners, the hinderance being removed by the satisfaction of Christ. He had by his death obtained a right and liberty of pardoning sin upon what condition he pleased: so that, after the satisfaction of Christ yielded and considered, “integrum Deo fuit” (as his words are), it was wholly in God’s free disposal whether he would eave any or no; and upon what condition he would, whether of faith or of works “God,” say they, “had a good mind and will to do good to human kind, but could not by reason of sin, his justice lying in the way; whereupon he sent Christ to remove that obstacle, that so he might, upon the prescribing of what condition he pleased, and its being by them fulfilled, have mercy on them,” Now, because in this they place the chief, if not the sole, end of the oblation of Christ, I must a little show the falseness and folly of it; which may be done plainly by these following reasons: —
First, The foundation of this whole assertion seems to me to be false and erroneous,– namely, that God could not have mercy on mankind unless satisfaction were made by his Son. It is true, indeed, supposing the decree, purpose, and constitution of God that so it should be, that so he would manifest his glory, by the way of vindicative justice, it was impossible that it should otherwise be; for with the Lord there is “no variableness, neither shadow of turning,” James i. 17; 1 Sam. xv. 29: but to assert positively, that absolutely and antecedently to his constitution he could not have done it, is to me an unwritten tradition, the Scripture affirming no such thing, neither can it be gathered from thence in any good consequence. If any one shall deny this, we will try what the Lord will enable us to say unto it, and in the meantime rest contented in that of Augustine: “Though other ways of saving us were not wanting to his infinite wisdom, yet certainly the way which he did proceed in was the most convenient, because we find he proceeded therein.”
Secondly, This would make the cause of sending his Son to die to be a common love, or rather wishing that, he might do good or show mercy to all, and not an entire act of his will or purpose, of knowing, redeeming, and saving his elect; which we shall afterward disprove.
Thirdly, If the end of the death of Christ were to acquire a right to his Father, that notwithstanding his justice he might save sinners, then did he rather die to redeem a liberty unto God than a liberty from evil unto us,– that his Father might be enlarged from that estate wherein it was impossible for him to do that which he desired, and which his nature inclined him to, and not that we might be freed frown that condition wherein, without this freedom purchased, it could not be but we must perish. If this be so, I see no reason why Christ should be said to come and redeem his people from their sins; but rather, plainly, to purchase this right and liberty for his Father. Now, where is there any such assertion, wherein is any thing of this nature in the Scripture? Doth the Lord say that he sent his Son out of love to himself, or unto us? Is God or are men made the immediate subject of good attained unto by this oblation? Rep. But it is said, that although immediately, and in the first place, this right did arise unto God by the death of Christ, yet that that also was to tend to our good, Christ obtaining that right, that the Lord might now bestow mercy on us, if we fulfilled the condition that he would propose. But I answer, that this utterly overthrows all the merit of the death of Christ towards us, and leaves not so much as the nature of merit unto it; for that which is truly meritorious indeed deserves that the thing merited, or procured and obtained by it, shall be done, or ought to be bestowed, and not only that it may be done. There is such a habitude and relation between merit and the thing obtained by it, whether it be absolute or arising on contract, that there ariseth a real right to the thing procured by it in them by whom or for whom it is procured. When the labourer hath wrought all day, do we say, “Now his wages may be paid,”or rather, “Now they ought to be paid”? Hath he not a right unto it? Was ever such a merit heard of before, whose nature should consist in this, that the thing procured by it might be bestowed, and not that it ought to be? And shall Christ be said now to purchase by his meritorious oblation this only at his Father’s hand, that he might bestow upon and apply the fulness of his death to some or all, and not that he should so do “To him that worketh,” saith the apostle, ” is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt,” Rom. iv. 4. Are not the fruits of the death of Christ by his death as truly procured for us as if they had been obtained by our own working? And if so, though in respect of the persons on whom they are bestowed they are of free grace, yet in respect of the purchase, the bestowing of them is of debt.
Fourthly, That cannot be assigned as the complete end of the death of Christ, which being accomplished, it had not only been possible that not one soul might be saved, but also impossible that by virtue of it any sinful soul should be saved; for sure the Scripture is exceedingly full in declaring that through Christ we have remission of sins, grace, and glory (as afterward). But now, notwithstanding this, that Christ is said to have procured and purchased by his death such a right and liberty to his Father, that he might bestow eternal life upon all upon what conditions he would, it might very well stand that not one of those should enjoy eternal life: for suppose the Father would not bestow it, as he is by no engagement, according to this persuasion, bound to do (he had a right to do it, it is true, but that which is any one’s right he may use or not use at his pleasure); again, suppose he had prescribed a condition of works which it had been impossible for them to fulfil; — the death of Christ might have had its full end, and yet not one been saved. Was this his coming to save sinners, to “save that which was lost?” or could he, upon such an accomplishment as this, pray as he did, “Father, I will that those whom thou hast given me be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory?” John xvii. 24. Divers other reasons might be used to evert this fancy, that would make the purchase of Christ, in respect of us, not to be the remission of sins, but a possibility of it; not salvation, but a salvability; not reconciliation and peace with God, but the opening of a door towards it; — but I shall use them in assigning the right end of the death of Christ.
Ask now of these, what it is that the Father can do, and will do, upon the death of Chris”, by which means his justice, that before hindered the execution of his good-will towards them, is satisfied? and they tell you it is the entering into a new covenant of grace with them, upon the performance of whose condition they shall have all the benefits of the death of Christ applied to them. But to us it seemeth that Christ himself, with his death and passion, is the chief promise of the new covenant itself, as Gen. iii. 15; and so the covenant cannot be said to be procured by his death. Besides, the nature of the covenant overthrows this proposal, that they that are covenanted withal shall have such and such good things if they fulfil the condition, as though that all depended on this obedience, when that obedience itself, and the whole condition of it, is a promise of the covenant, Jer. xxxi. 83, which is confirmed and sealed by the blood of Christ. We deny not but that the death of Christ hath a proper end in respect of God,– to wit, the manifestation of his glory; whence he calls him “his servant, in whom he will be glorified,” Isa. xlix.3. And the bringing of many sons to glory, wherewith he was betrusted, was to the manifestation and praise of his glorious grace; that so his love to his elect might gloriously appear, his salvation being borne out by Christ to the utmost parts of the earth. And this full declaration of his glory, by the way of mercy tempered with justice (for “he set forth Christ to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, that he might be just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus,” Rom. iii. 25, 26), is all that which accrued to the Lord by the death of his Son, and not any right and liberty of doing that which before he would have done, but could not for his justice. In respect of us, the end of the oblation and blood-shedding of Jesus Christ was, not that God might if he would, but that he shouldst, by virtue of that compact and covenant which was the foundation of the merit of Christ, bestow upon us all the good things which Christ aimed at and intended to purchase and procure by his offering of himself for us unto God; which is in the next place to be declared.
More particularly of the immediate end of the death of Christ, with the several ways whereby it is designed.
WHAT the Scripture affirms in this particular we laid down in the entrance of the whole discourse; which now, having enlarged in explication of our sense and meaning therein, must be more particularly asserted, by an application of the particular places (which are very many) to our thesis as before declared, whereof this is the sum: — “Jesus Christ., according to the counsel and will of his Father, did offer himself upon the cross, to the procurement of those things before recounted; and maketh continual intercession with this intent and purpose, that all the good things so procured by his death might be actually and infallibly bestowed on and applied to all and every one for whom he died, according to the will and counsel of God.” Let us now see what the Scripture saith hereunto, the sundry places whereof we shall range under these heads: — First, Those that hold out the intention and counsel of God, with our Saviour’s own mind; whose will was one with his Father’s in this business. Secondly, Those that lay down the actual accomplishment or effect of his oblation, what it did really procure, effect, and produce. Thirdly, Those that point out the persons for whom Christ died, as designed peculiarly to be the object of this work of redemption in the end and purpose of God.
I. For the first, or those which hold out the counsel, purpose, mind, intention, and will of God and our Saviour in this work: Matt. xviii. 11, “The Son of man is come to save that which was lost;” which words he repeateth again upon another occasion, Luke xix. 10. In the first place, they are in the front of the parable of seeking the lost sheep; in the other, they are in the close of the recovery of lost Zaccheus; and in both places set forth the end of Christs-coming, which was to do the will of his Father by the recovery of lost sinners: and that as Zaccheus was recovered by conversion, by bringing into the free covenant, making him a son of Abraham, or as the lost sheep which he lays upon his shoulder and bringeth home; so unless he findeth that which he seeketh for, unless he recover that which he cometh to save, he faileth of his purpose.
Secondly, Matt. i. 21, where the angel declareth the end of Christ’s coming in the flesh, and consequently of all his sufferings therein, is to the same purpose. He was to “save his people from their sins.” Whatsoever is required for a complete and perfect saving of his peculiar people from their sins was intended by his coming’ To say that he did but in part or in some regard effect the work of salvation, is of ill report to Christian ears.
Thirdly, The like expression is that also of Paul, 1 Tim. i. 15, evidently declaring the end of our Saviour’s coming, according to the will and counsel of his Father, namely, to “save sinners;” — not to open a door for them to come in if they will or can; not to make a way passable, that they may be saved; not to purchase reconciliation and pardon of his Father, which perhaps they shall never enjoy; but actually to save them from all the guilt and power of sin, and from the wrath of God for sin: which, if he doth not accomplish, he fails of the end of his coming; and if that ought not to be alarmed, surely he came for no more than towards whom that effect is procured. The compact of his Father with him, and his promise made unto him, of “seeing his seed, and carrying along the pleasure of the LORD prosperously,” Isa. liii 10 — 12, I before declared; from which it is apparent that the decree and purpose of giving actually unto Christ a believing generation, whom he calleth ” The children that God gave him,” Heb. ii 18, is inseparably annexed to the decree of Christ’s “making his soul an offering for sin,” and is the end and aim thereof.
Fourthly, As the apostle farther declareth, Heb. ii 14, 15, “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; and deliver them who through fear of death,” etc. Than which words nothing can more clearly set forth the entire end of that whole dispensation of the incarnation and offering of Jesus Christ,– even a deliverance of the children whom God gave him from the power of death, hell, and the devil, so bringing them nigh unto God. Nothing at all of the purchasing of a possible deliverance for all and every one; nay, all are not those children which God gave him, all are not delivered from death and him that had the power of it: and therefore it was not all for whom he then took flesh and blood.
Fifthly, The same purpose and intention we have, Eph. v. 25 — 27, “Christ 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:” as also, Tit. ii. 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.” I think nothing can be clearer than these two places; nor is it possible for the wit of man to invent expressions so fully and livelily to set out the thing we intend, as it is in both these places by the Holy Ghost. What did Christ do? “He gave himself,” say both these places alike: “For his church,” saith one; “For us,” saith the other; both words of equal extent and force, as all men know. To what end did he this? “To sanctify and cleanse it, to present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle,” saith he to the Ephesians; “To redeem us from all iniquity, and to purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works,” saith he to Titus. I ask now, Are all men of this church? Are all in that rank of men among whom Paul placeth himself and Titus? Are all purged, purified, sanctified, made glorious, brought nigh unto Christ? or doth Christ fail in his aim towards the greatest part of men? I dare not close with any of these.
Sixthly, Will you hear our Saviour Christ himself expressing this more evidently, restraining the object, declaring his whole design and purpose, and affirming the end of his death? John xvii. 19, “For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.” “For their sakes.” Whose, I pray? “The men whom thou hast given me out of the world,” verse 6. Not the whole world, whom he prayed not for, verse 9. “I sanctify myself.” Whereunto? “To the work I am now going about, even to be an oblation.” And to what end? –” That they also may be truly sanctified.” “That they,” signifies the intent and purpose of Christ,– it designs out the end he aimed at,– which our hope is (and that is the hope of the gospel), that he hath accomplished (“for the Deliverer that cometh out of Sion turneth away ungodliness from Jacob,” Rom. xi. 26); — and that herein there was a concurrence of the will of his Father, yea, that this his purpose was to fulfil the will of his Father, which he come to do.
Seventhly, And that this also was his counsel is apparent, Gal. i. 4; for our Lord Jesus “gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father;” which will and purpose of his the apostle farther declares, chap. iv. 4 — 6, “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;” and, because sons, our deliverance from the law, and thereby our freedom from the guilt of sin. Our adoption to sons, receiving the Spirit, and drawing nigh unto God, are all of them in the purpose of the Father giving his only Son for us.
Eighthly, I shall add but one place more, of the very many more that might be cited to this purpose, and that is 2 Cor. v. 21, “He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” The purpose of God in making his Son to be sin is, that those for whom he was made sin might become righteousness; that was the end of God’s sending Christ to be so, and Christ’s willingness to become so. Now, if the Lord did not purpose what is not fulfilled, yea, what he knew should never be fulfilled, and what he would not work at all that it might be fulfilled (either of which are most atheistical expressions), then he made Christ sin for no more than do in the effect become actually righteousness in him: so that the counsel and will of God, with the purpose and intention of Christ, by his oblation and blood-shedding, was to fulfil that will and counsel, is from these places made apparent.
From all which we draw this argument: — That which the Father and the Son intended to accomplish in and towards all those for whom Christ died, by his death that is most certainly effected (if any shall deny this proposition, I will at any time, by the Lord’s assistance, take up the assertion of it;) but the Father and his Son intended by the death of Christ to redeem, purge, sanctify, purify, deliver from death, Satan, the curse of the law, to quit of all sin, to make righteousness in Christ, to bring nigh unto God, all those for whom he died, as was above proved: therefore, Christ died for all and only those in and towards whom all these things recounted are effected; — which, whether they are all and. every one, I leave to all and every one to judge that hath any knowledge in these things.
II. The second rank contains those places which lay down the actual accomplishment and effect of this oblation, or what it doth really produce and effect in and towards them for whom it is an oblation. Such are Heb. ix. 12, 14, “By his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us…., The blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your consciences from dead works to serve the living God.” Two things are here ascribed to the blood of Christ; — one referring to God, ” It obtains eternal redemption;” the other respecting us, “It purgeth our consciences from dead works:” so that justification with God, by procuring for us an eternal redemption from the guilt of our sins and his wrath due unto them, with sanctification in ourselves (or, as it is called, Heb. i. 3, a “purging our sins”), is the immediate product of that blood by which he entered into the holy place, of that oblation which, through the eternal Spirit, he presented unto God. Yea, this meritorious purging of our sins is peculiarly ascribed to his offering, as performed before his ascension: Heb. i. 3, “When he had by himself purged our sins, he sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;” and again, most expressly, chap. ix. 26, “He hath appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself:” which expiation, or putting away of sin by the way of sacrifice, must needs be the actual sanctification of them for whom he was a sacrifice, even as “the blood of bulls and goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh,” verse 13. Certain it is, that whosoever was either polluted or guilty, for whom there was an expiation and sacrifice allowed in those carnal ordinances, “which had a shadow of good things to come,” had truly; — first, A legal cleansing and sanctifying, to the purifying of the flesh; and, secondly, Freedom from the punishment which was due to the breach of the law, as it was the rule of conversation to God’s people: so much his sacrifice carnally accomplished for him that was admitted thereunto. Now, these things being but “shadows of good things to come,” certainly the sacrifice of Christ did effect spiritually, for all them for whom it was a sacrifice, whatever the other could typify out; that is, spiritual cleansing by sanctification, and freedom from the guilt of sin: which the places produced do evidently prove. Now, whether this be accomplished in all and for them all, let all that are able judge.
Again; Christ, by his death, and in it, is said to “bear our sins:” so 1 Pet. ii. 24, “His own self bare our sins;” — where you have both what he did, ” Bare our sins” (he carried them up with him upon the cross); and what he intended, “That we being dead unto sins, should live unto righteousness.” And what was the effect? “By his stripes we are healed:” which latter, as it is taken from the same place of the prophet where our Saviour is affirmed to “bear our iniquities, and to have them laid upon him” (Isa. liii, 5, 6, 10 — 12), so it is expository of the former, and will tell us what Christ did by “bearing our sins;” which phrase is more than once used in the Scripture to this purpose. 1. Christ, then, so bare our iniquities by his death, that, by virtue of the stripes and afflictions which he underwent in his offering himself for us, this is certainly procured and effected, that we should go free, and not suffer any of those things which he underwent for us. To which, also, you may refer all those places which evidently hold out a commutation in this point of suffering between Christ and us: Gal. iii. 13, “He delivered us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us;” with divers others which we shall have occasion afterward to mention.
Peace, also, and reconciliation with God,– that is, actual peace by the removal of all enmity on both sides, with all the causes of it,– is fully ascribed to this oblation: Col. i 21, 22, “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblamable and unreprovable in his sight;” as also Eph. ii. 13 — 16, “Ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ: for he is our peace; having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments, that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby.” To which add all those places wherein plenary deliverances from anger, wrath, death, and him that had the power of it, is likewise asserted as the fruit thereof, as Rom. v. 8 — 10, and ye have a farther discovery made of the immediate effect of the death of Christ. Peace and reconciliation, deliverance from wrath, enmity, and whatever lay against us to keep us from enjoying the love and favour of God,– a redemption from all these he effected for his church “with his own blood,” Acts xx. 28. Whence all and every one for whom he died may truly say, “Who shall lay any thing to our charge? 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. viii. 33, 84. Which that they are procured for all and every one of the sons of Adam, that they all may use that rejoicing in full assurance, cannot be made appear. And yet evident it is that so it is with all for whom he died,– that these are the effects of his death in and towards them for whom he underwent it: for by his being slain “he redeemed them to God by his blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and made them unto our God kings and priests,” Rev. v. 9, 10; for “he made an end of their sins, he made reconciliation for their iniquity, and brought in everlasting righteousness,” Dan. ix. 24.
Add also those other places where our life is ascribed to the death of Christ, and then this enumeration will be perfect: John vi. 33, He “came down from heaven to give life to the world.” Sure enough he giveth life to that world for which he gave his life. It is the world of ” his sheep, for which he layeth down his life,” chap. x. 15, even that he might ” give unto them eternal life, that they might never perish,” verse 28. So he appeared “to abolish death, and to bring life and immortality to light,” 2 Tim. i. 10; as also Rom. v. 6 — 10.
Now, there is none of all these places but will afford a sufficient strength against the general ransom, or the universality of the merit of Christ. My leisure will not serve for so large a prosecution of the subject as that would require, and, therefore, I shall take from the whole this general argument: — If the death and oblation of Jesus Christ (as a sacrifice to his Father) doth sanctify all them for whom it was a sacrifice; doth purge away their sin; redeem them from wrath, curse, and guilt; work for them peace and reconciliation with God; procure for them life and immortality; bearing their iniquities and healing all their diseases; — then died he only for those that are in the event sanctified, purged, redeemed, justified, freed from wrath and death, quickened, saved, etc.; but that all are not thus sanctified, freed, etc., is most apparent: and, therefore, they cannot be said to be the proper object of the death of Christ. The supposal was confirmed before; the inference is plain from Scripture and experience, and the whole argument (if I mistake not) solid.
III. Many places there are that point out the persons for whom Christ died, as designed peculiarly to be the object of this work of redemption, according to the aim and purpose of God; some of which we will briefly recount. In some places they are called many: Matt. xxvi. 28, “The blood of the new testament is shed for many, for the remission of sins.” “By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many, for he shall bear their iniquities,” Isa. liii. 11. “The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and give his life a ransom for many,” Mark x. 45; Matt. xx. 28. He was to “bring many sons unto glory;” and so was to be the “captain of their salvation, through sufferings,” Heb. ii. 10. And though perhaps the word many itself be not sufficient to restrain the object of Christ’s death unto some, in opposition to all, because many is sometimes placed absolutely for all, as Rom. v. 19, yet these many being described in other places to be such as it is most certain all are not, so it is a full and evident restriction of it: for these many are the “sheep” of Christ, John x. 15; the “children of God that were scattered abroad,” chap. xi. 52; those whom our Saviour calleth “brethren,” Heb. ii. 11; “the children that God gave him,” which were “partakers of flesh and blood,” verses 13, 14; and frequently, “those who were given unto him of his Father,” John xvii. 2, 6, 9, 11, who should certainly be preserved; the “sheep” whereof he was the “Shepherd, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,” Heb. xiii. 20; his ” elect,” Rom. viii. 33; and his ” people,” Matt. i. 21; farther explained to be his “visited and redeemed people,”Luke i. 68; even the people which he “foreknew,” Rom. xi. 2; even such a people as he is said to have had at Corinth before their conversion; his people by election, Acts xviii. 10; the people that he ” suffered for without the gate, that he might sanctify them,” Heb. xiii. 12; his “church, which he redeemed by his own blood,”Acts xx. 28, which “he loved and gave himself for,” Eph. v. 25; the “many” whose sins he took away, Heb. ix. 28, with whom he made a covenant, Dan. ix. 27. Those many being thus described, and set forth with such qualifications as by no means are common to all, but proper only to the elect, do most evidently appear to be all and only those that are chosen of God to obtain eternal life through the offering and blood-shedding of Jesus Christ. Many things are here excepted with much confidence and clamour, that may easily be removed. And so you see the end of the death of Christ, as it is set out in the Scripture.
That we may have the clearer passage, we must remove the hindrances that are laid in the way by some pretended answers and evasions used to escape the force of the argument drawn from the Scripture, affirming Christ to have died for ” many,” his “sheep,” his “elect,” and the like. Now, to this it is replied, that this “reason,” as it is called, is “weak and of no force, equivocal, subtile, fraudulent, false, ungodly, deceitful, and erroneous;” for all these several epithets are accumulated to adorn it withal, (“Universality of Free Grace,” page xvi.) Now, this variety of terms (as I conceive) serves only to declare with what copia verborum the unlearned eloquence of the author is woven withal; for such terrible names imposed on that which we know not well how to gainsay is a strong argument of a weak cause. When the Pharisees were not able to resist the spirit whereby our Saviour spake, they call him “devil and Samaritan.” Waters that make a noise are usually but shallow. It is a proverb among the Scythians, that the “dogs which bark most bite least.” But let us see “quid dignum tanto feret hic responsor hiatu,” and hear him speak in his own language. He says then,–
“First, This reason is weak and of no force: for the word many is oft so used, that it both signifies all and every man, and also amplifieth or setteth forth the greatness of that number; as in Dan. xii. 2, Rom. v. 19, and in other places, where many cannot, nor is by any Christian understood for less than all men.”
Rep. 1. That if the proof and argument were taken merely from the word many, and not from the annexed description of those many, with the presupposed distinction of all men into several sorts by the purpose of God, this exception would bear some colour; but for this see our arguments following. Only by the way observe, that he that shall divide the inhabitants of any place, as at London, into poor and rich, those that want and those that abound, afterward affirming that he will bestow his bounty on many at London, on the poor, on those that want, will easily be understood to give it unto and bestow it upon them only. 2. Neither of the places quoted proves directly that many must necessarily in them be taken for all. In Dan. xii. 2, a distribution of the word to the several parts of the affirmation must be allowed, and not an application of it to the whole, as such; and so the sense is, the dead shall arise, many to life, and many to shame, as in another language it would have been expressed. Neither are such Hebraisms unusual. Resides, perhaps, it is not improbable that many are said to rise to life, because, as the apostle, says, ” All shall not die.” The like, also, may be said of Rom. v. 19. Though the many there seem to be all, yet certainly they are not called so with any intent to denote all, “with an amplification” (which that many should be to all is not likely): for there is no comparison there instituted at all between number and number, of those that died by Adam’s disobedience and those that were made alive by the righteousness of Christ, but only in the effects of the sin of Adam and the righteousness of Christ, together with the way and manner of communicating death and life from the one and the other; whereunto any consideration of the number of the participators of those effects is not inserted. 3. The other places whereby this should he confirmed, I am confident our author cannot produce, notwithstanding his free inclination of such a reserve, these being those which are in this case commonly urged by Arminians; but if he could, they would be no way material to infringe our argument, as appeareth by what was said before.
“Secondly, This reason,” he adds, “is equivocal, subtile, and fraudulent; seeing where all men and every man is affirmed of, the death of Christ, as the ransom and propitiation, and the fruits thereof, only is assumed for them; but where the word many is in any place used in this business, there are more ends of the death of Christ than this one affirmed of.”
Rep. l. It is denied that the death of Christ, in any place of Scripture, is said to be for “all men” or for “every man;” which, with so much confidence, is supposed, and imposed on us as a thing acknowledged. 2. That there is any other end of the death of Christ, besides the fruit of his ransom and propitiation, directly intended, and not by accident attending it, is utterly false. Yea, what other end the ransom paid by Christ and the atonement made by him can have but the fruits of them, is not imaginable. The end of any work is the same with the fruit, effect, or product of it. So that this wild distinction of the ransom and propitiation of Christ, with the fruits of them, to be for all, and the other ends of his death to be only for many, is an assertion neither equivocal, subtile, nor fraudulent! But I speak to what I conceive the meaning of the place; for the words themselves bear no tolerable sense. 3. The observation, that where the word many is used many ends are designed, but where all are spoken of there only the ransom is intimated, is,– (1.) Disadvantageous to the author’s persuasion, yielding the whole argument in hand, by acknowledging that where many are mentioned, there all cannot be understood, because more ends of the death of Christ than do belong to all are mentioned; and so confessedly all the other answers to prove that by many, all are to be understood, are against the author’s own light. (2.) It is frivolous; for it cannot be proved that there are more ends of the death of Christ besides the fruit of his ransom. (3.) It is false; for where the death of Christ is spoken of as for many, he is said to “give his life a ransom” for them, Matt. xx. 28, which are the very words where he is said to die for all, 1 Tim. ii. 6. What difference is there in these? what ground for this observation? Even such as these are divers others of that author’s observations, as his whole tenth chapter is spent to prove that wherever there is mention of the redemption purchased by the oblation of Christ, there they for whom it is purchased are always spoken of in the third person, as by ” all the world,” or the like; when yet, in chap. i. of his book, himself produceth many places to prove this general redemption where the persons for whom Christ is said to suffer are mentioned in the first or second person, 1 Pet. ii 24, iii. 18; Isa. liii. 6, 6; 1 Cor. xv. 3; Gal iii. 13, etc.
Thirdly, He proceeds, ” This reason is false and ungodly; for it is nowhere in Scripture said that Christ died or gave himself a ransom but for many, or only for many, or only for his sheep; and it is ungodliness to add to or diminish from the word of God in Scripture.”
Rep. To pass by the loving terms of the author, and allowing a grain to make the sense current, I say,– First, That Christ affirming that he gave his life for “many,” for his “sheep,” being said to die for his ” church,” and innumerable places of Scripture witnessing that all men are not of his sheep, of his church, we argue and conclude, by just and undeniable consequence, that he died not for those who are not so. If this be adding to the word of God (being only an exposition and unfolding of his mind therein), who ever spake from the word of God and was guiltless? Secondly, Let it be observed, that in the very place where our Saviour says that he “gave his life for his sheep,” he presently adds, that some are not of his sheep, John x. 26; which, if it be not equivalent to his sheep only, I know not what is Thirdly, It were easy to recriminate; but,–
Fourthly, “But,” says he, “the reason is deceitful and erroneous, for the Scripture doth nowhere say,– 2. “Those many he died for are his sheep (much less his elect, as the reason intends it). As for the place, John x. 15, usually instanced to this end, it is therein much abused: for our Saviour, John x., did not set forth the difference between such as he died for and such as he died not for, or such as he died for so and so, and not so and so; but the difference between those that believe on him and those who believe not on him, verses 4, 5, 14, 26, 27. One hear his voice and follow him, the other not. Nor did our Saviour here set forth the privileges of all he died for, or for whom he died so and so, but of those that believe on him through the ministration of the gospel, and so do know him, and approach to God, and enter the kingdom by him, verses 8, 4, 9, 27. Nor was our Saviour here setting forth the excellency of those for whom he died, or died for so only, wherein they are preferred before others; but the excellency of his own love, with the fruits thereof to those not only that he died for, but also that are brought in by his ministration to believe on him, verses 11, 27. Nor was our Saviour here treating so much of his ransom-giving and propitiation-making as of his ministration of the gospel, and so of his love and faithfulness therein; wherein he laid down his life for those ministered to, and therein gave us example, not to make propitiation for sin, but to testify love in suffering.”
Rep. I am persuaded that nothing but an acquaintedness with the condition of the times wherein we live can afford me sanctuary from the censure of the reader to be lavish of precious hours, in considering and transcribing such canting lines as these last repeated. But yet, seeing better cannot be afforded, we must be content to view such evasions as these, all whose strength is in incongruous expressions, in incoherent structure, cloudy, windy phrases, all tending to raise such a mighty fog as that the business in hand might not be perceived, being lost in this smoke and vapour, cast out to darken the eyes and amuse the senses of poor seduced souls. The argument undertaken to be answered being, that Christ is said to die for ” many,” and those many are described and designed to be his “sheep,” as John x., what answer, I pray, or any thing like thereunto, is there to be picked out of this confused heap of words which we have recited? So that I might safely pass the whole evasion by without farther observation on it, but only to desire the reader to observe how much this one argument presseth, and what a nothing is that heap of confusion which is opposed to it! But yet, lest any thing should adhere, I will give a few annotations to the place, answering the marks wherewith we have noted it, leaving the full vindication of the place until I come to the pressing of our arguments.
I say then, first, That the many Christ died for were his sheep, was before declared. Neither is the place of John x. at all abused, our Saviour evidently setting forth a difference between them for whom he died and those for whom he would not die, calling the first his ” sheep,” verse 15,– those to whom he would “give eternal life,” verse 28,– those “given him by his Father,” chap. xvii. 9; evidently distinguishing them from others who were not so. Neither is it material what was the primary intention of our Saviour in this place, from which we do not argue, but from the intention and aim of the words he uses, and the truth he reveals for the end aimed at; which was the consolation of believers.
Secondly, ‘For the difference between them he “died for so and so,” and those he “died for so and so,” we confess he puts none; for we suppose that this “so and so” doth neither express nor intimate any thing that may be suitable to any purpose of God, or intent of our Saviour in this business. To us for whom he died, he died in the same manner, and for the same end.
Thirdly, We deny that the primary difference that here is made by our Saviour is between believers and not believers, but between elect and not elect, sheep and not sheep; the thing wherein they are thus differenced being the believing of the one, called “hearing of his voice and knowing him,” and the not believing of the other; the foundation of these acts being their different conditions in respect of God’s purpose and Christ’s love, as is apparent from the antithesis and opposition which we have in verses 26 and 27, “Ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep,” and, “My sheep hear my voice.” First, there is a distinction put,– in the act of believing and hearing (that is, therewithal to obey); and then is the foundation of this distinction asserted, from their distinguished state and condition,– the one being not his sheep, the other being so, even them whom he loved and gave his life for.
Fourthly, ‘first, It is nothing to the business before us what privileges our Saviour here expresseth; our question is, for whom he says he would give his life’s and that only. Secondly, This frequent repetition of that useless so and so serves for nothing but to puzzle the poor ignorant reader. Thirdly, We deny that Christ died for any but those who shall certainly be brought unto him by the ministration of the gospel. So that there is not a “Not only those whom he died for, but also those that are brought in unto him;” for he died for his sheep, and his sheep hear his voice. They for whom he dried, and those that come in to him, may receive different qualifications, but they are not several persons.
Fifthly, First, The question is not at all, to what end our Saviour here makes mention of his death? but for whom he died? who are expressly said to be his “sheep;” which all are not. Secondly, His intention is, to declare the giving of his life for a ransom, and that according to the “commandment received of his Father,” verse 18.
Sixthly, First, “The love and faithfulness of Jesus Christ in the ministration of the gospel,” — that is, his performing the office of the mediator of the new covenant,– are seen in nothing more than in giving his life for a ransom, John xv. 13. Secondly, Here is not one word of giving us an “example;” though in laying down his life he did that also, yet here it is not improved to that purpose. From these brief annotations, I doubt not but that it is apparent that that long discourse before recited is nothing but a miserable mistaking of the text and question; which the author perhaps perceiving, he adds divers other evasions, which follow.
“Besides,” saith he, “the opposition appears here to be not so much between elect and not elect, as between Jews called and Gentiles uncalled.”
Rep. The opposition is between sheep and not sheep, and that with reference to their election, and not to their vocation. Now, whom would he have signified by the “not sheep”? those that were not called,– the Gentiles? That is against the text terming them sheep, that is in designation, though not as yet called, verse 16. And who are the called’! the Jews? True, they were then outwardly called; yet many of them were not sheep, verse 26. Now, truly, such evasions from the force of truth as this, by so foul corrupting of the word of God, is no small provocation of the eye of his glory. But he adds,–
“Besides, there is in Scripture great difference between sheep, and sheep of his flock and pasture, of which he here speaketh, verses 4, 6, 11, 15, 16.” Rep. 1. This unrighteous distinction well explained must needs, no doubt (if any know how), give a great deal of light to the business in hand. 2. If there be a distinction to be allowed, it can be nothing but this, that the “sheep” who are simply so called are those who are only so to Christ from the donation of his Father; and the “sheep of his pasture,” those who, by the effectual working of the Spirit, are actually brought home to Christ. And then of both sorts we have mention in this chapter, verses 16, 27, both making up the number of those sheep for whom he gave his life, and to whom he giveth life. But he proceeds: —
“Besides, sheep, verses 4, 5, ll, 15, are not mentioned as all those for whom he died, but as those who by his ministration are brought in to believe and enjoy the benefit of his death, and to whom he ministereth and communicateth spirit.”
Rep. 1. The substance of this and other exceptions is, that by sheep is meant believers; which is contrary to verse 16, calling them sheep who are not as yet gathered into his fold. 2. That his sheep are not mentioned as those for whom he died is in terms contradictory to verse 15, “I lay down my life for my sheep.” 3. Between those for whom he died and those whom he brings in by the ministration of his Spirit, there is no more difference than is between Peter, James, and John, and the three apostles that were in the mount with our Saviour at his transfiguration. This is childish sophistry, to beg the thing in question, and thrust in the opinion controverted into the room of an answer. 4. That bringing in which is here mentioned, to believe and enjoy the benefit of the death of Christ, is a most special fruit and benefit of that death, certainly to be conferred on all them for whom he died, or else most certainly his death will do them no good at all. Once more, and we have done: — ” Besides, here are more ends of his death mentioned than ransom or propitiation only, and yet it is not said, ‘ Only for his sheep,” and when the ransom or propitiation only is mentioned, it is said, ‘For all men.’ So that this reason appears weak, fraudulent, ungodly, and erroneous.”
Rep. 1. Here is no word mentioned nor intimated of the death of Christ, but only that which was accomplished by his being a propitiation, and making his death a ransom for us, with the fruits which certainly and infallibly spring there from. 2. If more ends than one of the death of Christ are here mentioned, and such as belong not unto all, why do you deny that he speaks here of his sheep only? Take heed, or you will see the truth. 3. Where it is said, “Of all men,” I know not; but this I am sure, that Christ is said to “give his life a ransom,” and that is only mentioned where it is not said for all; as Matt. xx. 28, Mark x. 45.
And so, from these brief annotations, I hope any indifferent reader will be able to judge whether the reason opposed, or the exceptions against it devised, be to be accounted “weak, fraudulent, ungodly, and erroneous.”
Although I fear that in this particular I have already intrenched upon the reader’s patience, yet I cannot let pass the discourse immediately following in the same author to those exceptions which we last removed, laid by him against the arguments we had in hand, without an obelisk; as also an observation of his great abilities to cast down a man of clouds, which himself had set up to manifest his skill in its direction. To the preceding discourse he adds another exception, which he imposeth on those that oppose universal redemption, as though it were laid by them against the understanding of the general expressions in the Scripture, in that way and sense wherein he conceives them; and it is, “That those words were fitted for the time of Christ and his apostles, having another meaning in them than they seem to import.” Now, having thus gaily trimmed and set up this man of straw,– to whose framing I dare boldly say not one of his adversaries did ever contribute a penful of ink,– to show his rare skill, he chargeth it with I know not how many errors, blasphemies, lies, set on-with exclamations and vehement outcries, until it tumble to the ground. Had he not sometimes answered an argument, he would have been thought a most unhappy disputant. Now, to make sure that for once he would do it, I believe he was very careful that the objection of his own framing should not be too strong for his own defacing. In the meantime, how blind are they who admire him for a combatant who is skilful only at fencing with his own shadow! and yet with such empty janglings as these, proving what none denies, answering what none objects, is the greatest part of Mr More’s book stuffed.
Of the distinction of impetration and application — The use and abuse thereof; with the opinion of the adversaries upon the whole matter in controversy unfolded; and the question on both sides stated.
THE farther reasons whereby the precedent discourse may be confirmed, I defer until I come to oppose some argument to the general ransom. For the present, I shall only take away that general answer which is usually given to the places of Scripture produced, to waive the sense of them; which is pharmanon pansophon to our adversaries, and serves them, as they suppose, to bear up all the weight wherewith in this case they are urged: —
I. They say, then, that in the oblation of Christ, and concerning the good things by him procured, two things are to be considered: — First, The impetrution, or obtaining of them; and, secondly, The application of them to particular persons. “The first,” say they, “is general, in respect to all. Christ obtained and procured all good things by his death of his Father,– reconciliation, redemption, forgiveness of sins,– for all and every man in the world, if they will believe and lay hold upon him: but in respect of application, they are actually bestowed and conferred but on a few; because but a few believe, which is the condition on which they are bestowed. And in this latter sense are the texts of Scripture which we have argued, all of them, to be understood. So that they do no whit impeach the universality of merit, which they assert; but only the universality of application, which they also deny.” Now, this answer is commonly set forth by them in various terms and divers dresses, according as it seems best to them that use it, and most subservient to their several opinions; for,–
First, Some of them say that Christ, by his death and passion, did absolutely, according to the intention of God, purchase for all and every man, dying for them, remission of sins and reconciliation with God, or a restitution into a state of grace and favour; all which shall be actually beneficial to them. provided that they do believe So the Arminians.
Secondly, Some, again, that Christ died for all indeed, but conditionally for some, if they do believe, or will so do (which he knows they cannot of themselves); and absolutely for his own, even them on whom lie purposeth to bestow faith and grace, so as actually to be made possessors of the good things by him purchased. So Camero, and the divines of France, which follow a new method by him devised.
Thirdly, Some distinguish of a twofold reconciliation and redemption; — one wrought by Christ with God for man, which, say they, is general for all and every man; secondly, a reconciliation wrought by Christ in man unto God, bringing them actually into peace with him.
And sundry other ways there are whereby men express their conceptions in this business. The sum of all comes to this, and the weight of all lies upon that distinction which we before recounted; — namely, that in respect of impetration, Christ obtained redemption and reconciliation for all; in respect of application, it is bestowed only on them who do believe and continue therein.
II. Their arguments whereby they prove the generality of the ransom and universality of the reconciliation must afterward be considered: for the present, we handle only the distinction itself, the meaning and misapplication whereof I shall briefly declare; which will appear if we consider,–
FIRST, The true nature and meaning of this distinction, and the true use thereof; for we do acknowledge that it may be used in a sound sense and right meaning, which way soever you express it, either by impetration and application, or by procuring reconciliation with God and a working of reconciliation in us For by impetration we mean the meritorious purchase of all good things made by Christ for us with and of his Father; and by application, the actual enjoyment of those good things upon our believing; — as, if a man pay a price for the redeeming of captives, the paying of the price supplieth the room of the impetration of which we speak; and the freeing of the captives is as the application of it. Yet, then, we must observe,–
First, That this distinction hath no place in the intention and purpose of Christ, but only in respect of the things procured by him; for in his purpose they are both united, his full end and aim being to deliver us from all evil, and procure all good actually to be bestowed upon us. But in respect of the things themselves, they may be considered either as procured by Christ, or as bestowed on us.
Secondly, That the will of God is not at all conditional in this business, as though he gave Christ to obtain peace, reconciliation, and forgiveness of sins, upon condition that we do believe. There is a condition in the things, but none in the will of God; that is absolute that such things should be procured and bestowed.
Thirdly, That all the things which Christ obtained for us are not bestowed upon condition, but some of them absolutely. And as for those that are bestowed upon condition, the condition on which they are bestowed is actually purchased and procured for us, upon no condition but only by virtue of the purchase. For instance: Christ hath purchased remission of sins and eternal life for us, to be enjoyed on our believing, upon the condition of faith. But faith itself, which is the condition of them, on whose performance they are bestowed, that he hath procured for us absolutely, on no condition at all; for what condition soever can be proposed, on which the Lord should bestow faith, I shall afterward show it vain, and to run into a circle.
Fourthly, That both these, impetration, and application, have for their objects the same individual persons; that, look, for whomsoever Christ obtained any good thing by his death, unto them it shall certainly be applied, upon them it shall actually be bestowed: so that it cannot be said that he obtained any thing for any one, which that one shall not or doth not in due time enjoy. For whomsoever he wrought reconciliation with, God, in them doth he work reconciliation unto God. The one is not extended to some to whom the other doth not reach. Now, because this being established, the opposite interpretation and misapplication of this distinction vanisheth, I shall briefly confirm it with reasons: —
First, If the application of the good things procured be the end why they are procured, for whose sake alone Christ doth obtain them, then they must be applied to all for whom they are obtained; for otherwise Christ faileth of his end and aim, which must not be granted. But that this application was the end of the obtaining of all good things for us appeareth,– first, Because if it were otherwise, and Christ did not aim at the applying of them, but only at their obtaining, then might the death of Christ have had its full effect and issue without the application of redemption and salvation to any one soul, that being not aimed at, and so, notwithstanding all that he did for us, every soul in the world might have perished eternally; which, whether it can stand with the dignity and sufficiency of his oblation, with the purpose of his Father, and his own intention, who “came into the world to save sinners,– that which was lost,” and to “bring many sons unto glory,” let all judge. Secondly, God, in that action of sending his Son, laying the weight of iniquity upon him, and giving him up to an accursed death, must be affirmed to be altogether uncertain what event all this should have in respect of us. For, did he intend that we should be saved by it? — then the application of it is that which he aimed at, as we assert: did he not? — certainty, he was uncertain what end it should have; which is blasphemy, and exceeding contrary to Scripture and right reason. Did he appoint a Saviour without thought of them that were to be saved? a Redeemer, not determining who should be redeemed? Did he resolve of a means, not determining the end? It is an assertion opposite to all the glorious properties of God.
Secondly, If that which is obtained by any do, by virtue of that action whereby it is obtained, become his in right for whom it is obtained, then for whomsoever any thing is by Christ obtained, it is to them applied; for that must be made theirs in fact which is theirs charge; all that he hath purchased for them must be applied to them, for by virtue thereof it is that they are so saved, verses 33, 34.
Thirdly, For whom Christ died, for them he maketh intercession. Now, his intercession is for the application of those things, as is confessed, and therein he is always heard. Those to whom the one belongs, theirs also is the other. So, John x. 10, the coming of Christ is, that “his might have life, and have it abundantly;” as also 1 John iv. 9. Heb. x. 10, ” By the which will we are sanctified,” — that is the application; “through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ,” — that is the means of impetration: ” for by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified,” verse 14. In brief, it is proved by all those places which we produced rightly to assign the end of the death of Christ. So that this may be rested on, as I conceive, as firm and immovable, that the impetration of good things by Christ, and the application of them, respect the same individual persons.
SECONDLY, We may consider the meaning of those who seek to maintain universal redemption by this distinction in it, and to what use they do apply it. “Christ,” say they, “died for all men, and by his death purchased reconciliation with God for them and forgiveness of sins: which to some is applied, and they become actually reconciled to God, and have their sins forgiven them; but to others not, who, therefore, perish in the state of irreconciliation and enmity, under the guilt of their sins. This application,” say they, “is not procured nor purchased by Christ,– for then, he dying for all, all must be actually reconciled and have their sins forgiven them and be saved,– but it attends the fulfilling of the condition which God is pleased to prescribe unto them, that is, believing:” which, say some, they can do by their own strength, though not in terms, yet by direct consequence; others not, but God must give it. So that when it is said in the Scripture, Christ hath reconciled us to God, redeemed us, saved us by his blood, underwent the punishment of our sins, and so made satisfaction for us, they assert that no more is meant but that Christ did that which upon the fulfilling of the condition that is of us required, these things will follow. To the death of Christ, indeed, they assign many glorious things; but what they give on the one hand they take away with the other, by suspending the enjoyment of them on a condition by us to be fulfilled, not by him procured; and in terms assert that the proper and full end of the death of Christ was the doing of that whereby God, his justice being satisfied, might save sinners if he would, and on what condition it pleased him,– that a door of grace might be opened to all that would come in, and not that actual justification and remission of sins, life, and immortality were procured by him, but only a possibility of those things, that so it might be. Now, that all the venom that lies under this exposition and abuse of this distinction may the better appear, I shall set down the whole mind of them that use it in a few assertions, that it may be clearly seen what we do oppose.
First, ” God,” say they, “considering all mankind as fallen from that grace and favour in Adam wherein they were created, and excluded utterly from the attainment of salvation by virtue of the covenant of works which was at the first made with him, yet by his infinite goodness was inclined to desire the happiness of them, all and every one, that they might be delivered from misery, and be brought unto himself;” which inclination of his they call his universal love and antecedent will, whereby he would desirously have them all to be saved; out of which love he sendeth Christ.
Obs. 1. That God hath any natural or necessary inclination, by his goodness, or any other property, to do good to us, or any of his creatures, we do deny. Every thing that concerns us is an act of his free will and good pleasure, and not a natural, necessary act of his Deity, as shall be declared.
Obs 2. The ascribing an antecedent conditional will unto God, whose fulfilling and accomplishment should depend on any free, contingent act or work of ours, is injurious to his wisdom, power, and sovereignty, and cannot well be excused from blasphemy; and is contrary to Rom. ix. 10, “Who hath resisted his will?” I say,–
Obs. 3. A common affection and inclination to do good to all doth not seem to set out the freedom, fulness, and dimensions of that most intense love of God which is asserted in the Scripture to be the cause of sending his Son; as John iii. 16, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son.” Eph. i. 9, “Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself.” Col.’i. 19, “It pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell.” Rom. v. 8, “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” These two I shall, by the Lord’s assistance, fully clear, if the Lord give life and strength, and his people encouragement, to go through with the second part of this controversy.
Obs. 4. We deny that all mankind are the object of that love of God which moved him to send his Son to die; God having “made some for the day of evil,” Prov. xvi 4; “hated them before they were born,” Rom. ix. 11, 13; “before of old ordained them to condemnation,” Jude 4; being “fitted to destruction,” Rom. ix. 22; “made to be taken and destroyed,” 2 Pet. ii. 12; “appointed to wrath,” 1 Thess. v. 9; to “go to their own place,” Acts i. 25.
Secondly, “The justice of God being injured by sin, unless something might be done for the satisfaction thereof, that love of God whereby he wouldeth good to all sinners could no way be brought forth into act, but must have its eternal residence in the bosom of God without any effect produced.”
Obs. 1. That neither Scripture nor right reason will enforce nor prove an utter and absolute want of power in God to save sinners by his own absolute will, without satisfaction to his justice, supposing his purpose that so it should be; indeed, it could not be otherwise. But, without the consideration of that, certainly he could have effected it. It doth not imply any violating of his holy nature.
Obs. 2. An actual and necessary velleity, for the doing of any thing which cannot possibly be accomplished without some work fulfilled outwardly of him, is opposite to his eternal blessedness and all-sufficiency.
Thirdly, “God, therefore, to fulfil that general love and good-will of his towards all, and that it might put forth itself in such a way as should seem good to him, to satisfy his justice, which stood in the way, and was the only hinderance, he sent his Son into the world to die.”
The failing of this assertion we shall lay forth, when we come to declare that love whereof the sending of Christ was the proper issue and effect.
Fourthly, ” Wherefore, the proper and immediate end and aim of the purpose of God in sending his Son to die for all men was, that he might, what way it pleased him, save sinners, his justice which hindered being satisfied,” — as Arminius; or, “That he might will to save sinners,” — as Corvinus. “And the intention of Christ was, to make such satisfaction to the justice of God as that be might obtain to himself a power of saving, upon what conditions it seemed good to his Father to prescribe.”
Obs. 1. Whether this was the intention of the Father in sending his Son or no, let it be judged. Something was said before, upon the examination of those places of Scripture which describe his purpose; let it be known from them whether God, in sending of his Son, intended to procure to himself a liberty to save us if he would, or to obtain certain salvation for his elect.
Obs. 2. That such a possibility of salvation, or, at the utmost, a velleity or willing of it, upon an uncertain condition, to be by us fulfilled, should be the full, proper, and only immediate end of the death of Christ, will yet scarcely down with tender spirits.
Obs. 3. The expression, of procuring to himself ability to save, upon a condition to be prescribed, seems not to answer that certain purpose of our Saviour in laying down his life, which the Scripture saith was to “save his sheep,” and to “bring many sons to glory,” as before; nor hath it any ground in Scripture.
Fifthly, “Christ, therefore, obtained for all and every one reconciliation with God, remission of sins, life and salvation; not that they should actually be partakers of these things, but that God (his justice now not hindering) might and would prescribe a condition to be by them fulfilled, whereupon he would actually apply it, and make them partake of all those good things purchased by Christ.” And here comes their distinction of impetration and application, which we before intimated; and thereabout, in the explication of this assertion, they are wondrously divided.
Some say that this proceeds so far, that all men are thereby received into a new covenant, in which redemption Adam was a common person as well as in his fall from the old, and all we again restored in him; so that none shall be damned that do not sin actually against the condition where they are born, and fall from the state where into all men are assumed through the death of Christ. So Bormus, Corvinus; and one of late, in plain terms, that all are reconciled, redeemed,’saved, and justified in Christ; though how he could not understand (More, p. 10). But others, more warily, deny this, and assert that by nature we are all children of wrath, and that until we come to Christ the wrath of God abideth on all, so that it is not actually removed from any: so the assertors of the efficacy of grace in France.
Again, some say that Christ by this satisfaction removed original sin in all, and, by consequent, that only; so that all infants, though of Turks and Pagans, out of the covenant, dying before they come to the use of reason, must undoubtedly be saved, that being removed in all, even the calamity, guilt, and alienation contracted by our first fall, whereby God may save all upon a new condition. But others of them, more warily, observing that the blood of Christ is said to “cleanse from all sin,” (1 John i. 7; 1 Pet. i. 18, 19; Isa. liii. 6), say he died for all sinners alike; absolutely for none, but conditionally for all. Farther, some of them affirm that after the satisfaction of Christ, or the consideration of it in God’s prescience, it was absolutely undetermined what condition should be prescribed, so that the Lord might have reduced all again to the law and covenant of works; so Corvinus: others, that a procuring of a new way of salvation by faith was a part of the fruit of the death of Christ; so More, p. 35.
Again, some of them, that the condition prescribed is by our own strength, with the help of such means as God at all times, and in all places, and unto all, is ready to afford, to be performed; others deny this, and affirm that effectual grace flowing peculiarly from election is necessary to believing: the first establishing the idol of free-will to maintain their own assertion; others overthrowing their own assertion for the establishment of grace. So Amyraldus, Camero, etc.
Moreover, some say that the love of God in the sending of Christ is equal to all: others go a strain higher, and maintain an inequality in the love of God, although he send his Son to die for all, and though greater love there cannot be than that whereby the Lord sent his Son to die for us, as Rom. viii. 32; and so they say that Christ purchased a greater good for some, and less for others. And here they put themselves upon innumerable uncouth distinctions, or rather (as one calleth them), extinctions, blotting out all sense, and reason, and true meaning of the Scripture. Witness Testardus, Amyraldus, and, as every one may see that can but read English, in T. M[ore.] Hence that multiplicity of the several ends of the death of Christ,– some that are the fruits of his ransom and satisfaction, and some that are I know not what; besides his dying for some so and so, for others so and so, this way and that way; — hiding themselves in innumerable unintelligible expressions, that it is a most difficult thing to know what they mean, and harder to find out their mind than to answer their reasons.
In one particular they agree well enough,– namely, in denying that faith is procured or merited for us by the death of Christ. So far they are all of them constant to their own principles, for once to grant it would overturn the whole fabric of universal redemption; but, in assigning the cause of faith they go asunder again.
Some say that God sent Christ to die for all men, but only conditionally, if they did and would believe; — as though, if they believed, Christ died for them; if not, he died not; and so make the act the cause of its own object: other some, that he died absolutely for all, to procure all good things for them, which yet they should not enjoy until they fulfil the condition that was to be prescribed unto them. Yet all conclude that in his death Christ had no more respect unto the elect than others, to sustain their persons, or to be in their room, but that he was a public person in the room of all mankind.
III. Concerning the close of all this, in respect of the event and immediate product of the death of Christ, divers have diversely expressed themselves; some placing it in the power, some in the will, of God; some in the opening of a door of grace; some in a right purchased to himself of saving whom he pleased; some that in respect of us he had no end at all, but that all mankind might have perished after he had done all. Others make divers and distinct ends, not almost to be reckoned, of this one act of Christ, according to the diversity of the persons for whom he died, whom they grant to be distinguished and differences by a foregoing decree; but to what purpose the Lord should send his Son to die for them whom he himself had determined not to save, but at least to pass by and leave to remediless ruin for their sins, I cannot see, nor the meaning of the twofold destination by some invented. Such is the powerful force and evidence of truth that it scatter’s all its opposers, and makes them fly to several hiding-corners; who, if they are not willing to yield and submit themselves, they shall surely lie down in darkness and error. None of these, or the like intricate and involved impedite distinctions, hath [truth] itself need of; into none of such poor shifts and devices doth it compel its abettors; it needeth not any windings and turnings to bring itself into a defensible posture; it is not liable to contradictions in its own fundamentals: for, without any farther circumstances, the whole of it in this business may be thus summed up: —
” God, out of his infinite love to his elect, sent his dear Son in the fulness of time, whom he had promised in the beginning of the world, and made effectual by that promise, to die, pay a ransom of infinite value and dignity, for the purchasing of eternal redemption, and bringing unto himself all and every one of those whom he had before ordained to eternal life, for the praise of his own glory.” So that freedom from all the evil from which we are delivered, and an enjoyment of all the good things that are bestowed on us, in our traduction from death to life, from hell and wrath to heaven and glory, are the proper issues and effects of the death of Christ, as the meritorious cause of them all; which may, in all the parts of it, be cleared by these few assertions: —
First, The fountain and cause of God’s sending Christ is his eternal love to his elect, and to them alone; which I shall not now farther confirm, reserving it for the second general head of this whole controversy.
Secondly, The value, worth, and dignity of the ransom which Christ gave himself to be, and of the price which he paid, was infinite and immeasurable; fit for the accomplishing of any end and the procuring of any good, for all and every one for whom it was intended, had they been millions of men more than ever were created. Of this also afterward. See Acts xx. 28, “God purchased his church with his own blood.” 1 Pet. i. 18, 19, “Redeemed not with silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ;” and that answering the mind and intention of Almighty God, John xiv. l3, ” As the Father gave me commandment, even so I do;” who would have such a price paid as might be the foundation of that economy and dispensation of his love and grace which he intended, and of the way whereby he would have it dispensed. Acts xiii. 38, 39, “Through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; and by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.” 2 Cor. v. 20, 21, “We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
Thirdly, The intention and aim of the Father in this great work was, a bringing of those many sons to glory,– namely, his elect, whom by his free grace he had chosen from amongst all men, of all sorts, nations, and conditions, to take them into a new covenant of grace with himself, the former being as to them, in respect of the event, null and abolished; of which covenant Jesus Christ is the first and chief promise, as he that was to procure for them all other good things promised therein, as shall be proved.
Fourthly, The things purchased or procured for those persons, — which are the proper effects of the death and ransom of Christ, in due time certainly to become theirs in possession and enjoyment,– are, remission of sin, freedom from wrath and the curse of the law, justification, sanctification, and reconciliation with God, and eternal life; for the will of his Father sending him for these, his own intention in laying down his life for them, and the truth of the purchase made by him, is the foundation of his intercession, begun on earth and continued in heaven; whereby he, whom his Father always hears, desires and demands that the good things procured by him may be actually bestowed on them, all and every one, for whom they were procured. So that the whole of what we assert in this great business is exceedingly clear and apparent, without any intricacy or the leas difficulty at all; not clouded with strange expressions and unnecessary divulsions and tearings of one thing from another, as is the opposite opinion: which in the next place shall be dealt withal by arguments confirming the one and everting the other. But because the whole strength thereof lieth in, and the weight of all lieth on, that one distinction we before spoke of, by our adversaries diversely expressed and held out, we will a little farther consider that, and then come to our arguments, and so to the answering of the opposed objections.
Of application and impetration.
The allowable use of this distinction, how it may be taken in a sound sense, the several ways whereby men have expressed the thing which in these words is intimated, and some arguments for the overthrowing of the false use of it, however expressed, we have before intimated and declared. Now, seeing that this is the proton pseudos of the opposite opinion, understood in the sense and according to the use they make of it, I shall give it one blow more, and leave it, I hope, a-dying.
I shall, then, briefly declare, that although these two things may admit of a distinction, yet they cannot of a separation, but that for whomsoever Christ obtained good, to them it might be applied; and for whomsoever he wrought reconciliation with God, they must actually unto God be reconciled. So that the blood of Christ, and his death in the virtue of it, cannot be looked on, as some do, as a medicine in a box, laid up for all that shall come to have any of it, and so applied now to one, then to another, without any respect or difference, as though it should be intended no more for one than for another; so that although he hath obtained all the good that he hath purchased for us, yet it is left indifferent and uncertain whether it shall ever be ours or no: for it is well known, that notwithstanding those glorious things that are assigned by the Arminians to the death of Christ, which they say he purchased for all, as remission of sins, reconciliation with God, and the like, yet they for whom this purchase and procurement is made may be damned, as the greatest part are, and certainly shall be. Now, that there should be such a distance between these two,–
First, It is contrary to common sense or our usual form of speaking, which must be wrested, and our understandings forced to apprehend it. When a man hath obtained an office, or any other obtained it for him, can it be said that it is uncertain whether he shall have it or no? If it be obtained for him, is it not his in right, thorough perhaps not in possession? That which is impetrated or obtained by petition is his by whom it is obtained. It is to offer violence to common sense to say a thing may be a man’s, or it may not be his, when it is obtained for him; for in so saying we say it is his. And so it is in the purchase made by Jesus Christ, and the good things obtained by him for all them for whom he died.
Secondly, It is contrary to all reason in the world, that the death of Christ, in God’s intention, should be applied to any one that shall have no share in the merits of that death. God’s will that Christ should die for any, is his intention that he shall have a share in the death of Christ, that it should belong to him,– that is, be applied to him; for that is, in this case, said to be applied to any that is his in any respect, according to the will of God. But now the death of Christ, according to the opinion we oppose, is so applied to all, and yet the fruits of this death are never so much as once made known to far the greatest part of those all.
Thirdly, [It is contrary to reason] that a ransom should be paid for captives, upon compact for their deliverance, and yet upon the payment those captives not be made free and set at liberty. The death of Christ is a ransom, Matt. xx. 28, paid by compact for the deliverance of captives for whom it was a ransom; and the promise wherein his Father stood engaged to him at his undertaking to be a Saviour, and undergoing the office imposed on him, was their deliverance, as was before declared, upon his performance of these things: on that [being done, that] the greatest number of these captives should never be released, seems strange and very improbable.
Fourthly, It is contrary to Scripture, as was before at large declared. See [also book iii.] chap. x.
But now, all this cur adversaries suppose they shall wipe away with one slight distinction, that will make, as they say, all we affirm in this kind to vanish; and that is this: “It is true,” say they, “all things that are absolutely procured and obtained for any do presently become theirs in right for whom they are obtained; but things that are obtained upon condition become not theirs until the condition be fulfilled. Now, Christ hath purchased, by his death for all, all good things, not absolutely, but upon condition; and until that condition come to be fulfilled, unless they perform what is required, they have neither part nor portion, right unto nor possession of them.” Also, what this condition is they give in, in sundry terms; some call it a not resisting of this redemption offered to them; some, a yielding to the invitation of the gospel; some, in plain terms, faith. Now, be it so that Christ purchaseth all things for us, to be bestowed on this condition, that we do believe it, then I affirm that,–
First, Certainly this condition ought to be revealed to all for whom this purchase is made, if it be intended for them in good earnest. All for whom he died must have means to know that his death will do them good if they believe; especially it being in his power alone to grant them these means who intends good to them by his death. If I should entreat a physician that could cure such a disease to cure all that came unto him, but should let many rest ignorant of the grant which I had procured of the physician, and none but myself could acquaint them with it, whereby they might go to him and be healed, could I be supposed to intend the healing of those people? Doubtless no. The application is easy.
Secondly, This condition of them to be required is in their power to perform, or it is not. If it be, then have all men power to believe; which is false: if it be not, then the Lord will grant them grace to perform it, or he will not. If he will, why then do not all believe? why are not all saved? if he will not, then this impetration, or obtaining salvation and redemption for all by the blood of Jesus Christ, comes at length to this: — God intendeth that he shall die for all, to procure for them remission of sins, reconciliation with him, eternal redemption and glory; but yet so that they shall never have the least good by these glorious things, unless they perform that which he knows they are no way able to do, and which none but himself can enable them to perform, and which concerning far the greatest part of them he is resolved not to do. Is this to intend that Christ should die for them for their good? or rather, that he should die for them to expose them to shame and misery? Is it not all one as if a man should promise a blind man a thousand pounds upon condition that he will see.
Thirdly, This condition of faith is procured for us by the death of Christ, or it is not. If they say it be not, then the chiefest grace, and without which redemption itself (express it how you please) is of no value, doth not depend on the grace of Christ as the meritorious procuring cause thereof; — which, first, is exceedingly injurious to our blessed Saviour, and serves only to diminish the honour and love due to him; secondly, is contrary to Scripture: Tit. iii. 5, 6; 2 Cor. v. 21, “He became sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” And how we can become the righteousness of God but by believing, I know not. Yea, expressly saith the apostle, “It is given to us for Christ’s sake, on the behalf of Christ, to believe in him,” Phil. i. 29; “God blessing us with all spiritual blessing in him,” Eph. i 3, whereof surely faith is not the least. If it be a fruit of the death of Christ, why is it not bestowed on all, since be died for all, especially since the whole impetration of redemption is altogether unprofitable without it? If they do invent a condition upon which this is bestowed, the vanity of that shall be afterward discovered. For the present, if this condition be. So they do not refuse or resist the means of grace, then I ask, if the fruit of the death of Christ shall be applied to all that fulfil this condition of not refusing or not resisting the means of grace? If not, then why is that produced 1 If so, then all must be saved that have not, or do not resist, the means of grace; that is, all pagans, infidels, and those infants to whom the gospel was never preached.
Fourthly, This whole assertion tends to make Christ but a half mediator, that should procure the end, but not the means conducing thereunto. So that, notwithstanding this exception and new distinction, our assertion stands firm,– That the fruits of the death of Christ, in respect of impetration of good and application to us, ought not to be divided; and our arguments to confirm it are unshaken.
For a close of all; that which in this cause we affirm may be summed up in this: Christ did not die for any upon condition, if they do believe; but he died for all God’s elect, that they should believe, and believing have eternal life. Faith itself is among the principal effects and fruits of the death of Christ; as shall be declared. It is nowhere said in Scripture, nor can it reasonably be affirmed, that if we believe, Christ died for us, as though our believing should make that to be which otherwise was not,– the act create the object; but Christ died for us that we might believe. Salvation, indeed, is bestowed conditionally; but faith, which is the condition, is absolutely procured. The question being thus stated, the difference laid open, and the thing in controversy made known, we proceed, in the next place, to draw forth some of those arguments, demonstrations, testimonies, and proofs, whereby the truth we maintain is established, in which it is contained, and upon which it is firmly founded: only desiring the reader to retain some notions in his mind of those fundamentals which in general we laid down before; they standing in such relation to the arguments which we shall use, that I am confident not one of them can be thoroughly answered before they be everted.
End of Book II