Book 2 - Chapter 9: Of the Persons for Whom Christ Engaged and Satisfied - by Herman WitsiusThe Economy of the Covenants Between God and Man by Herman Witsius
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Herman Witsius (1636-1708)
Arguably known for the best work on Covenant Theology in print (at least in the top 5).
Herman Witsius (1636-1708) was Professor of Divinity in the Universities of Franeker, Utrecht, and Leyden. A brilliant and devout student, he was fluent in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew by the age of fifteen, when he entered the University of Utrecht. He was ordained at twenty-one and served in several pastorates, filling both the pulpit and the academic chair over the course of his life.
This, his magnum opus, is a reflection of some of the most fruitful and mature thinking on federal theology during the seventeenth century, and still holds a preeminent place in our own day.
Chapter IX: Of the Persons for Whom Christ Engaged and Satisfied
I WE should have no certainty of all those things which it is proper for us to know, for the glory of our Lord Christ, and our own consolation, concerning this suretiship and satisfaction, did it not also appear for whom he satisfied, according to his covenant-engagement. The solution of this question is indeed of very great moment, but it does not appear so very difficult, if we only carefully attend to the nature of Christ’s suretiship and satisfaction, which we have already explained, proved, and defended. For since Christ did, by his engagement, undertake to cancel all the debt of those persons for whom he engaged, as if it was his own, by suffering what was meet, and to fulfil all righteousness in their room; and since he has most fully performed this by his satisfaction, as much as if the sinners themselves had endured all the punishment due to their sins, and had accomplished all righteousness: the consequence is, that he has engaged and satisfied for those, and those only, who are actually saved from their sins; as is evident to reason. For Christ neither engaged nor satisfied but for those whose person he sustained. Which Arminius himself, Adversus Perkinsum, p. 72, frankly owns. Moreover, that any of those whose person Christ sustained, and for whom he satisfied as their surety, should be obliged to satisfy for the same debt by eternal death, is most inconsistent with and contrary to the faithfulness and justice of God. Nor can we, on any account, think it possible that any one should in earnest plead, that Christ died for all and every one in particular, till he has weakened the force of that expression, “to die for any one,” by which, as we lately made appear against the Socinians, is denoted a substitution in the place of another. But it is worth while distinctly to set forth the true doctrine in these following positions.
II. We therefore conclude: 1st, That the obedience and sufferings of Christ, considered in themselves, are, on account of the infinite dignity of the person, of that value, as to have been sufficient for redeeming, not only all and every man in particular, but many myriads besides, had it so pleased God and Christ, that he should have undertaken and satisfied for them.
III. 2dly, That Christ, as man, subject to the law of love, did in a holy manner love all men without distinction, as his neighbours, heartily wished them well, seriously lamented the ruin of those that perished, whom yet, as God, he knew were reprobates, and for whom, as Mediator, he had not engaged. Yet he submitted this human affection, commanded by the law, common to us and to Christ, to the divine appointment, and restricted it to the purpose of the decreeing will of God; in this manner proving the holiness of his will, in the glorifying of the divine counsel, and in due subjection thereunto. This appears from the tears which Christ, as man, shed over the calamities that were coming upon that abandoned city, which had partly slain and partly loaded with contempt and ignominy the Prophets;—nay, had been the only butchery in the whole world for them; and was at length, by a most horrid parricide, to devote itself, with its unhappy posterity, to the lasting curse of God, Luke 19:41.
IV. 3dly, The suretiship and satisfaction of Christ have also been an occasion of much good, even to the reprobate. For it is owing to the death of Christ, that the Gospel is preached to every creature; that gross idolatry is abolished in many parts of the world; that wicked impiety is much restrained by the discipline of the word of God; that they obtain at times, many and excellent, though not saving, gifts of the Holy Spirit; that “they have escaped the pollutions of the world, through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,” 2 Pet. 2:20. And who can in short enumerate all those things which they enjoy, not through accident only, and beside the intention of God and of Christ, but by the appointment of God? Not, indeed, with a design and purpose of saving them according to the testament; but from a view to make known his long-suffering towards the vessels of wrath, that is, those who are to perish, who dwell among those who are to be saved. For nothing falls out by accident, with respect to the intention of God; every thing being according to his determinate counsel.
V. 4thly, That the obedience and sufferings of Christ are of such worth, that all, without exception, who come to him, may find perfect salvation in him: and it was the will of God, that his truth should, without distinction, be proposed both to them that are to be saved, and to them that are to perish; with a charge not to neglect so great salvation, but to repair to Christ with true contrition of soul; and with a most sincere declaration, that all who come to him shall find salvation in him, John 6:40.
VI. 5thly, That, nevertheless, Christ, according to the will of God the Father, and his own purpose, did neither engage nor satisfy, and consequently in no manner die, but only for all those whom the Father gave him, and who are actually saved. This is that truth which is controverted, and which we are now to confirm, in a concise but solid manner, from the sacred writings.
VII. The scripture declares, that Christ satisfied for the whole body of the elect, when it declares, that he “died for all,” and “by him reconciled all things,” as, 2 Cor. 5:15, Heb. 2:9, Col. 1:20. And as this is not to be understood of all and every man in particular, it must be meant of all and every one of the elect. That it cannot be understood of all and every individual, I prove from the passages quoted in the following manner. That “all” for whom Christ is said to “have died,” 2 Cor. 5:15, are those “who are also dead,” namely, as to the old man, whom, in virtue of the crucifixion of Christ, they have crucified, Rom. 6:6, and who “live not to themselves, but to Christ,” and to Christ, indeed, “who rose again” for them. But these things can be applicable only to the elect. None but they are dead to themselves, to the world, and to sin; none else live to Christ. In a word, according to the very hypothesis of the remonstrants, the efficacy of Christ’s resurrection is restrained to believers alone. In like manner, the “all,” for whom Christ is said, by the grace of God, to have tasted death,” Heb. 2:9, are “sons brought,” or to be brought, “unto glory,” who have Christ for the “captain of their salvation;” who “are sanctified;” whom “he calls his brethren, which God gave him,” ver. 10, 11, 13. These things can be applied, not to the reprobate, but only to the elect. In like manner, the “all things,” who are said to be “reconciled to God, by the peace made through the blood of Christ,” Col. 1:20, can only mean the elect. The thing is self-evident. For reconciliation and peace with God are peculiar to elect believers, Rom. 5:1. On the contrary, the reprobate are perpetual enemies to God; “the wrath of God abideth on them,” John 3:36. By “those things which are on earth,” are understood believers, who are still in the world; as by “those things which are in heaven”, are meant, not angels, but men in the state of bliss, who enjoy, in the fullest manner, the fruits of Christ’s atonement and reconciliation.
VIII. Let us add that remarkable passage, 1 Tim. 2:4, 6: “God will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge (acknowledgment) of the truth: Christ gave himself a ransom for all.” Where by “all,” we are not to understand all and every one in particular, but the elect of whatever nation and condition; which I make evidently to appear in this manner. 1st, They, for whom Christ gave himself a ransom, are actually rescued from the dominion of Satan, are brought to perfect liberty, and can never be thrust into an eternal prison, in order to satisfy again for those debts which Christ paid to the utmost farthing. This we must certainly maintain, unless we would have Christ’s payment go for nothing; for all, and every one in particular, are not set free from the dominion of Satan. Many are, and do still remain, “children of disobedience, in whom that impure spirit worketh,” Eph. 2:2, and who are for ever “held captive at his will, in the snare of the devil,” and these shall be forced to satisfy for their own guilt. Christ, therefore, did not give himself a ransom for them. 2dly, Paul speaks of all those, who have Christ for their Mediator. But he is Mediator, both by the offering of his body and blood, and by his powerful intercession. This latter part of his mediation can, on no account, be excluded here, when the apostle is treating concerning our prayers, of which we have a most perfect pattern in the prayers of Christ. Besides, the remonstrants acknowledge that Christ’s intercession is not for all and every man in particular; therefore, he is not the perfect Mediator of all and every individual. 3dly, What is here spoken is concerning all those “whom God will have to be saved, and come to the knowledge (acknowledgment) of the truth.” But this is not his will concerning every man in particular, because he will have unbelievers condemned, John 3:36. And the acknowledgment of the truth, or faith, is not the privilege of all, 2 Thess. 3:2, but of the elect, Tit. 1:1. Nor is it the will of God it should be. “He hardeneth whom he will,” Rom. 9:18. Besides, it is unworthy of the divine majesty to imagine, that there is an incomplete, unresolved and ineffectual volition in God, Psa. 115:3. And it is mere trifling and mean, to understand a bare will of precept, enjoining all to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling, and, with all diligence to seek the knowledge of the truth; or, a will of his good pleasure, approving what is according to the precept: they with whom we now argue do not take it in that light. 4thly, The persons here meant are all those for whom we are to pray; but we are not to pray for all and every one in particular: not certainly for those, who are already damned; not for the salvation of all who are now alive, collectively taken; because we cannot do it in faith; and we are sure, that many of them will be damned: nor, in fine, for those “who have sinned the sin unto death,” 1 John 5:16. 5thly, and lastly, It is acknowledged, that these words are made use of by the apostle, as a motive for the prayers which he requires, and which shall not be in vain. But the words of the apostle would infer no such thing, if they only meant that Christ has, by his satisfaction, obtained no more than a possibility for God to be reconciled to all and every one in particular, though, by the nature of that impetration, it is possible none may be actually saved; because, if that death has only procured a possibility of salvation, and if our desires after that salvation might be ineffectual, we could neither be sure of their being heard, nor have that hope of audience which maketh not ashamed. We must then conclude, that Christ gave himself a ransom for all the elect, of whatever nation and condition, and that it is the will of God they all should be saved; consequently, that it is our duty to be subservient, by our prayers, to this counsel of God; and as we know not how to distinguish the elect from the reprobate, we should pray indiscriminately for all, referring it to God to distinguish those who are his; especially, because we are certain, we shall not pray in vain for those whom God wills to be saved, and for whom Christ gave himself.
IX. The Scripture inculcates the same truth when it says, that “Christ gave his flesh for the life of the world,” John 6:51, that he is “the propitiation for our sins, and hot for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world,” 1 John 2:2. “That God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself,” 2 Cor. 5:19. That “Christ is the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world,” John 1:29. And other passages to the like purpose. Where by the term world, cannot, nay ought not, to be understood the whole of mankind, but the elect. Which we prove by the following arguments.
X. It is clear that, in Scripture, things are sometimes said of the world, which agree only to the elect and to believers. Thus Christ prays, John 17:21, “that the world may believe, that thou hast sent me;” and verse 23, “that the world may know, that thou hast sent me.” But these things belong to that sacerdotal intercession of Christ, “concerning which we may, with the greatest certainty, conclude, that it will never be rejected,” says Arminius, in Oratione de sacerdotio Christi, and which, it is certain, is not made for the world of reprobates, Christ having expressly declared that, verse 9, and they, with whom we argue, do not refuse it. It is therefore necessary that by “the world,” we here understand the world of the elect, who believe on Christ, and know him by faith, by virtue of the intercession of Christ, and by means of the ministry, together with the holy and glorious example of believers.
XI. Moreover, many texts which speak of salvation, not only as impetrated, but as applied, ascribe it to the world. Thus Christ declares, John 3:17: “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world, through him, might be saved.” But the intention of God, in sending his Son, is not to save all, but “that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life,” as Christ explains himself in the foregoing verses. In like manner, John 6:33: “The bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.” But Christ gives life only to the elect; to the sheep, and not to the goats, John 10:27, 28. Thus Christ, in prosecuting his discourse above quoted, John 6, restrains the term, world, to those whom the Father gave him, who see the Son and believe on him, ver. 39, 40.
XII. These expressions likewise, the “father of those that believe,” and, “the heir of the world,” denote the same thing, in the promise made to Abraham, Rom. 4:11, 12, 13. Abraham is “the father of those that believe,” 1st, As a pattern of faith. 2dly, As a pattern of the blessing, or of justification by faith. 3dly, On account of Christ, who descended from him, and by whose spirit the elect are born again: hence Christ, along with his mystical body, is called “the seed of Abraham,” Gal. 3:16. He is “the heir of the world,” that is, of all the families of the earth, who are blessed in him as in the pattern of faith and of the blessing by it, and in his seed Christ, as the fountain of every blessing. For this is that world which Christ receives for an inheritance, as also Abraham, and consequently every believer, who is his seed, in Christ; or who becomes Christ’s own possession, and with whom Abraham and every believer have communion, exulting in the good things which are bestowed upon them, 1 Cor. 3:21, 22. For that strict union and sincere love which subsist between them are the reason, that every one rejoices in and glorifies God, on account of the benefits bestowed on his neighbour, as if bestowed on himself. And thus we have made it appear, that the term world, sometimes in Scripture, denotes the collective body of believers, or of the elect.
XIII. We add, that the Holy Ghost speaks in this manner, with great propriety, and for several substantial reasons. For, 1st, The term world, generally in the common way of speaking, denotes any large body or multitude of men whatever. Thus, “The Pharisees said among themselves, Perceive ye, how ye prevail nothing? Behold! the world is gone after him,” John 12:19. We have a like phraseology in Horajot. c. iii. In Gemara, “When Rabbi Simeon the son of Gamaliel entered (namely into the Synagogue), the whole world rose up before him;” that is, all who were present in the synagogue. Why, then, should not a very large and almost infinite multitude of the chosen people from among all nations, “that great multitude which no man can number,” Rev. 7:9, be elegantly designed by the appellation world? 2dly, Elect believers, considered in themselves, and before effectual calling, are a part of “the world lying in wickedness,” 1 John 5:19. “In time past they walked in trespasses and sins, according to the course of this world,” Eph. 2:1; 2; and so far they belong to that “world, which is become guilty before God,” Rom. 3:19. But this tends to illustrate the glory of the love of God and Christ, and to the humiliation to believers, that, while they were a part of the wicked world, Christ was given to be their Redeemer. 3dly, Elect believers, after effectual calling, considered as beautified with divine grace, are, though the less, yet the best part of the world. “The saints, and the excellent that are in the earth,” Psa. 16:3. “The holy seed,” which “is the substance (support) of the earth.” Is. 6:13. And as the Jews are wont to speak, “the just are עמודי עולם, the pillars of the world.” But what is more usual, what is more suitable, than that the whole should, by a synecdoche, signify the better, as sometimes the greater part? It is therefore not without its emphasis, and yields useful instructions, when we hear the collective body of the elect, designed by the name of the world.
XIV. Now, let us apply these things to the passages we have already quoted, §. 5. Christ indeed says, when speaking of impetration, John 6:51, that he will give his flesh for the life of the world: but, in the same Chapter, v. 33, when speaking of the application, he says that “he giveth life to the world:” and so he explains what, in the subject of redemption, he would have us to understand by “the world.” For it is a capital truth, that the application of redemption extends no further than to believers and the elect.
XV. When John writes, 1 John 2:2, that Christ is the propitiation, not only for our sins, but also for the sins of the whole world;” he shows us by these words who they are that can take comfort to themselves from the intercession of Christ, and the remission purchased by him. But elect believers alone can do this; he is their advocate with the Father, and not that of the reprobate. To them, and not to the reprobate, “God hath set him forth to be a propitiation, through faith in his blood,” Rom 3:25. Moreover, this consolation belongs not only to the elect from among the Jewish nation, such as John was, but also to the elect from among the Gentiles, whom Paul expressly points out by the name of “the world,” Rom. 11:12, 13: by a phraseology very usual among the Hebrew doctors, who call the Gentiles אומות עולם, the nations of the world. Nor does this saving truth yield comfort to those believers only who lived at that time, and to whom, as to his children, John was writing; but also to those who lived in the antediluvian world, and under the Mosaical dispensation, whose sins were no otherwise expiated than by the blood of Christ; and in fine, to those believers who, from John’s days, were “to be brought” to Christ out of all nations whatever, “to the end of the world:” which very great multitude is deservedly designed by the name of “the whole world.” For it is very certain, that by the whole world is not denoted the collective body of all mankind; for John expressly discriminates himself and those to whom he is writing from the whole world, and yet he could not seclude them from being a part of the collective body of mankind.
XVI. When Paul says, 2 Cor. 5:19, that “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself,” he immediately subjoins, that this was, “by not imputing their trespasses unto them:” to teach us, that reconciliation, and non-imputation, are of equal extent. But the latter is the privilege of the elect, and of believers alone, and of those in whose heart there is no guile. For David declares those blessed, to whom God imputeth not iniquity, Psa. 32:1, 2, Rom. 4:6, 8. Therefore, by the world, the world of the elect is signified.
XVII. John 1:29, Christ is called “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” But, like the scape-goat, on which the iniquity of the children of Israel was laid, he taketh them away by taking them upon himself, by satisfying for them as if they were his own, and by taking them away from his people, as to their guilt, by justification, and as to their dominion and stain, by sanctification: see 1 Pet. 2:24. But as these things point to the impetration of salvation, so as at the same time to include its application, they can extend no farther than to the world of the elect believers. “Blessed is אשרי נשוי פשע he, whose transgression is taken away,” (forgiven) Psa. 32:1.
XVIII. And thus we have shown, that though the Scripture, when speaking of the world of the redeemed, really designs some collective body, yet it is that of the elect only. Which Prosper elegantly expressed, de Vocat. Gent. lib. i. c. iii, or in another edition, c. ix.: “In the elect, even those foreknown and discriminated from every generality, or collective body, there is deemed to be a certain peculiar kind of universality; so as that a whole world seems to be delivered out of a whole world, and all men to be redeemed from among all men.”
XIX. Let us now more especially show, that Christ made satisfaction for the elect only. To this purpose are those passages of Scripture in which the death of Christ is restricted to “his sheep,” “his church,” “his people,” nay, and “his peculiar people,” John 10:15, Acts 20:28, Eph. 5:25, Tit. 2:14. From which we thus argue: what the Scriptures restrict to some certain kind of men, to the manifest exclusion of the rest, ought not to be extended absolutely to all men. But the Scriptures, in the passages quoted, limit the death of Christ to a certain kind of men, so as manifestly to exclude the rest. Therefore, &c. The truth of the major, or first proposition, is evident from the terms: that of the minor, from the passages quoted. In order to illustrate this, we are to show these two things: 1st, That the subject matter is the impetration of salvation, which is the act of Christ; and not the fruition alone, which is our act. 2dly, That the death of Christ is so restricted to those who are there described, as to exclude the rest of mankind. The remonstrants, not being able otherwise to resist the force of this argument, deny both these.
XX. As to the former, namely, that the impetration of salvation is here intended, I thus prove. 1st, The very terms which the Holy Spirit uses in the passages quoted, to lay down his life for some, to purchase some, to give himself for some, import satisfaction, impetration, and acquisition. Nor do the Scriptures usually speak in any other strain, when the subject is evidently concerning impetration. 2dly, In the passages quoted, we have a clear description of what Christ has done, both without us and without our concurrence; whereas the real fruition or enjoyment, concerning which the remonstrants will have those passages to be understood, is our act. These two differ much both in nature and time. In nature: for the one resembles a mean appointed for some end; the other, an external end, or rather the use or enjoyment of that for which that mean is appointed. In time: for these propositions were completely verified the moment in which Christ laid down his life; but the actual enjoyment or application is a thing accomplishing gradually for a long tract of time in all the elect. 3dly, The remonstrants themselves produce similar phrases from Scripture, of dying for some, purchasing some, &c. when they contend, that the impetration of the grace of God reaches to others besides the elect: with what colour or pretence, then, do they deny that impetration is here the subject-matter? 4thly, They show, that they lay no stress on these passages, when they afterwards affirm, they cannot refer to believers alone, and maintain that, by the church, we are not to understand the elect alone, or that Christ gave himself for them only. Therefore, I say, to purchase and give himself for a person, cannot here be understood of real enjoyment, which is peculiar to believers only. 5thly and lastly, By making this exception, the answer of the remonstrants amounts only to a begging the question; for we maintain, and are directly to prove it by the strongest arguments, that the application of saving grace is as extensive as its impetration: and we own, the question here is not concerning such an impetration as may have its plenary effect, though never applied; for such an impetration we judge absurd, untheological, and highly unworthy of Christ.
XXI. The second, namely, which respects the exclusion of the rest of mankind, when distinct mention is made of the sheep, the church, a peculiar people, I shall make evident; first, by showing, that by these appellations, “sheep,” “church,” “peculiar people,” cannot be understood all men in general; and then that which is here asserted of the “sheep,” “church,” “peculiar people,” flows from that extraordinary love of Christ, which he has not for the rest of mankind. The first has no great difficulty in it: for, Christ expressly says to some, John 10:26, “Ye are not of my sheep.” And therefore, he divides mankind into sheep and goats; of whom, the last are undoubtedly reprobate, the former, certainly the elect, and heirs of eternal life, Matt. 25:33.
XXII. Our opponents themselves will not affirm that all belong to the church. They indeed say, that the visible church is meant, in which there are others besides the elect. But, it sufficiently answers our purpose, 1st, That all and every one in particular cannot be understood. 2dly, That what is said of the visible church is sometimes of such a nature as can be understood only of the elect therein: as when the apostle, writing to the visible church of the Ephesians, Eph. 1:4, says, “he hath chosen you in him;” and in like manner; 1 Thess. 1:4: and we shall presently show, that what is said of the church in the places quoted, is of the same nature.
XXIII. In a word, the term all cannot be applied to the people of God, for God himself makes this clear, when he ordered some to be called, לא עמי Lo-ammi, “Ye are not my people,” Hos. 1:9. And they who dissent from us take a wrong course, when by people they understand the Jews; for there were reprobates even among them. Thus we learn from Paul, that, with respect to spiritual privileges, they are not all accounted Israel who are of Israel, and therefore not to be reckoned the people, Rom. 11:1, 2.*
XXIV. But it is not enough to have shown, that the names sheep, church, people, do not comprehend every individual of mankind; for it is possible that, on a particular occasion, something might be said of some persons which certainly agree to them, but not to them only. The question is not, whether Christ died for the elect, but whether for them only. Our adversaries say, this cannot be concluded from those passages, where the particle only is not added. We must therefore show, that these things are so appropriated to the elect, as to exclude the rest of mankind; I prove it thus: all the passages quoted tend to amplify the extraordinary love of Christ towards his sheep, for whom he laid down his life; towards the church, which he purchased with his own blood; towards his people, for whom he gave himself. But if in this, the sheep, the church, the people of Christ have nothing peculiarly distinguishing beyond all other men, what probable reason can be assigned, why that infinite love of Christ, in laying down his life, shedding his blood, and giving himself, should especially be appropriated to them?
XXV. To this reasoning our adversaries absurdly oppose Paul’s glorying, who, While writing Gal. 2:20, that Christ was given for him, does not exclude others from a share in the same love. For in that text Paul does not speak of any divine love, whereby God peculiarly distinguished him from others, who had the like precious faith with himself; nor does he consider himself as Paul, but as an elect person, and a believer, proposing himself there, as an example, in the name of all believers: and we are so far from being able to infer from this, that what Paul affirms of himself was peculiar to him, that quite the reverse ought to be concluded. This instance therefore does not suit the case.
XXVI. But let us consider each passage apart: when Christ publicly declares, that “he lays down his life for his sheep,” he thence infers, that he must bring them to hear his voice, that there may be one fold and one shepherd, John 10:15, 16, 17. But it is certain, that these last assertions agree to elect believers only, and therefore also the first, from which the others are deduced. For it would not be a just inference, to say, I lay down my life for my sheep, therefore I must bring them to hear my voice, &c., did he lay down his life for some, whom he never brings, &c.
XXVII. When Paul said, that Christ purchased his church with his own blood, Acts 20:28, he more distinctly explains, in his Epistle to the Ephesians. 5:25, what he means by the church, which Christ loved and gave himself for, namely, the spouse of Christ, whom alone he loves with a conjugal affection, and sanctifies and presents glorious to himself. But that love of Christ, which was the motive of his giving himself, and of the sanctification and glorification of the church, which is the fruit of that donation, belongs to elect believers only: therefore also the very giving itself, which is the consequence of that love, and the cause of the sanctification of the church. Moreover, that this conjugal love of Christ, whereby he purchased the church, as his spouse, by his own blood, has the general assembly of the elect alone for his object (to waive other considerations) may be hence also inferred, because Paul proposes it here as a pattern of the conjugal love of the husband for the wife. But this love ought doubtless to reach no farther than the wife.
XXVIII. Lastly, when Paul reminds his son Titus, that “Christ gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works,” Tit. 2:14, he evidently shows what was fruit of Christ’s giving himself; namely, redemption from iniquity, and the purification of a peculiar people, &c. And consequently they who are not redeemed from iniquity, nor purified, nor made his peculiar people, &c., cannot glory in this, that Christ gave himself for them.
XXIX. What the apostle writes in this Chapter ver. 11, that “the grace of God, that bringeth salvation, hath appeared to all men, teaching us that denying ungodliness,” &c. neither avails our adversaries, nor is any ways detrimental to the truth we maintain. For, 1st, The preaching of the gospel, by which the saving grace of God is offered, and which is here intended by that expression, had not reached all mankind without exception, nay, nor every nation, in the days of Paul. 2dly, The preaching of the gospel reaches the ears of a great many more than of those who are the objects of that love of Christ which bringeth salvation. For it is only an external mean, by which the elect, out of every nation, are brought to the communion of Christ. And therefore the gospel is to be preached to every nation, without distinction, that the elect therein may hear it. 3dly, We should observe the apostle’s scope, which is to encourage servants to the exercise of universal piety, that, by their holy conversation, they may adorn the doctrine of Christ in all things. The reason he gives for this is, because the saving grace of Christ has appeared, both to masters and servants, teaching us, &c. As if he had said, “That all men, of whatever rank, professing the gospel, ought to reckon it their duty to adorn its doctrine by the purity of their manners; for, as to the doctrine itself, it so plainly, so expressly, and so efficaciously instructs us all in goodness, as none but they who wilfully stop their ears can be ignorant of. And therefore all the professors of it, as well masters as servants, should take care, least they bring a scandal on this most perfect of all rules, by lives which have little or no conformity to it.” This is the full import of these words, so that any may see, that they make nothing for the universal efficacy of Christ’s death.
XXX. If we search the matter to the bottom, we shall most clearly discern, that it never was Christ’s intention to satisfy for all in general. Certainly he satisfied only for those he engaged for. But he engaged “to do the will of his Father,” Psa. 40:9. But this is the will of his Father, not that every man should be saved, but those that were given him, that is, the elect out of every nation, who are to receive the gift of faith. Those the Father gave him for an inheritance by an irrevocable testament. For thus Jehovah speaks, Is. 49:6: “It is a light thing that thou shouldst be my servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.” And Christ himself still more clearly, John 6:39: “This is the Father’s will, which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me, I should lose nothing.” But all are not given to Christ, only those that come to him, ver. 37: “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me.” He therefore only engaged for these, according to the will of the Father: took their sins upon him, carried them on his heart, when he offered himself to the Father; claims them as his peculiar property, in virtue of his merit, according to agreement, challenges them for his own, and will at length, in due time, present them holy and glorious to his Father, saying, “Behold I and the children which thou hast given me,” Heb. 2:13. All those things naturally flow from the very nature of the covenant which subsists between the Father and the Son, as formerly explained.
XXXI. And these particulars may be further illustrated and confirmed from Aaron’s typical priesthood. The High Priest, on the solemn day of expiation, slew one of the goats, on which the sins of all Israel were laid, and sent the other into the wilderness. All these things were typical. The High Priest, the sacrifice, the scape-goat, all set forth Christ. But who were typically designed by Israel? Not indeed all men. For what is more absurd than that Israel should be a type of the Edomites and Egyptians, and of all that world, out of which they were chosen, and from which, on so many accounts, they were distinguished? We therefore conclude that they were typical of the elect, who are the true Israelites, Jews inwardly, and in the Spirit, and whom the apostle loves to distinguish by the name of the election, Rom. 11:7. For the nature of the type consisted in this, that the people of Israel were chosen by an external pomp of ceremonies, were redeemed, and in their measure were a holy priesthood. They therefore prefigured those who were truly chosen, redeemed, and consecrated a royal priesthood to God; as Peter seems not obscurely to signify, 1 Pet. 2:5. As therefore the High Priest formerly offered an atoning sacrifice, not for the Egyptians or Canaanites, but for the typical Israel only; So our High Priest, according to the order of Melchizedek, offered himself once, not for abandoned reprobates, but for mystical Israel, that is the truly chosen.
XXXII. This truth will appear very plain, if we attend to some of the inseparable effects of Christ’s satisfaction. It would carry us to far too enumerate all: let us consider some of the principal. “If they who were enemies to God were reconciled by the death of his Son; much more, being reconciled, they shall be saved by his life,” Rom. 5:10. For whom God, not sparing his own Son, gave him up unto death, “with him freely he gives them all things,” Rom. 8:32. We, for whom Christ died, may boldly say, “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth?” &c. ver. 33, 34. They Whom Christ “redeemed from the curse of the law,” are not under the curse, but “the blessing of Abraham cometh upon them,” Gal. 3:13, 14. But this is not true of all and every one, but of elect believers only, that they are saved by the life of Christ; that with Christ God freely gives them all things; that none can lay any thing to their charge, or bring an accusation against them; that upon them is come the blessing of Abraham. Therefore, they alone are the persons of whom the foregoing things may be truly affirmed.
XXXIII. That fictious satisfaction for the reprobate, and those who perish, is altogether a vain and useless thing. For whom does it profit? Not certainly God, who by no act can be rendered happier than he is. Not Christ himself, who, as he never seeks them, so he never receives them, for his peculiar property; and neither is he enriched by possessing them, though supposed to have purchased them at a dear rate. Not believers, who, content with their portion in God and in Christ, and fully redeemed by Christ, enjoy a happiness in every respect complete. In fine, not those that perish, who are constrained to satisfy in their own persons for their sins to the utmost farthing. But to affirm the satisfaction of Christ to be a vain and useless thing, is absurd, and borders upon blasphemy. Remigius, formerly bishop of Lyons, said extremely well, when discoursing at large on this controverted point, “The blood of Christ is a great price; such a price can, in no respect, be vain and ineffectual, but rather is filled with the superabundant advantage arising from those blessings for which it was paid,” See Forbes. Instruct. Hist. lib. viii. c. xvi.
XXXIV. Nor are we to say, that therefore the reprobate have no benefit by the satisfaction of Christ, because the condition of faith and perseverance which the reprobate do not perform, is necessary to that purpose. For, first, it is not true, that faith and perseverance are prerequisite conditions, before a person can have any of the fruits of Christ’s satisfaction. For regeneration itself, and effectual calling, which go before actual faith; justification, adoption, and sanctification, which precede final perseverance in the faith, are the fruits of Christ’s most excellent satisfaction. And then, from the want of faith and perseverance in those that perish, we have a most effectual proof, that the blood of the new covenant was not shed for them; for by that Christ has merited for his people the continuance of the new life in faith and love; Seeing he is “the Mediator of that better covenant, which was established upon better promises,” Heb. 8:6. But these promises are, sanctification, ver. 10: “I will put my laws into their mind;” and the continuance thereof, “I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people.” For in the new covenant, to be a God to any is to be an everlasting Saviour, as we gather from Matt. 22:32, and which the opposition made between the new and the old covenant, in like manner, shows, Heb. 8:8, 9. These promises, being graciously and actually conferred on the elect, in virtue of Christ’s satisfaction, would have certainly been conferred on the rest of mankind, had Christ equally satisfied for them.
XXXV. Nay, the satisfaction of Christ for the reprobate had not only been useless, but highly unworthy both of God and of Christ. Unworthy of the wisdom, goodness, and justice of God, to exact and receive satisfaction from his most beloved Son for those whom he neither gave nor wanted to give his Son, and whom he decreed to consign to everlasting confinement, to suffer in their own persons according to the demerit of their crimes. Unworthy of Christ, to give his blood a price of redemption for those whom he had not in charge to redeem. And if we may speak freely, this also, in some respect, would be for Christ to account the blood of the new covenant, or the new covenant itself, in which he was sanctified, a common or unholy thing.
XXXVI. I should now refute the arguments of those on the other side of the question; but this has been done at large, and with so much judgment, by very learned men, that we can scarce make any addition. The very accurate dissertation of Gomarus on this head, which is inserted in his commentaries on the Epistle to the Galatians, may especially be consulted.