Chapter 3: RedemptionThe Sovereignty of God by Elisha Coles
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In this point we are equally concerned with that of Election, as the great comprehensive means of bringing about the greatest end, namely the glory of God in the salvation of his chosen. Redemption is not another foundation distinct from election; but the chief cornerstone that election has laid of the world to come.
That our Lord Jesus Christ has a body or church, to whom he is Head and Savior, is not supposed a question: but, who they are that make up his body; whether the whole of mankind universally, or some particular persons? Whether he had in his death the same respect to all as to some? And whether any of those he died for, may miss of the benefit accruing by his death? are questions of great import, and worthy a serious deliberation: and the rather, because they are points too lightly discoursed of by many. To resolve which is the scope of the present discourse; which I cast into three branches:
- That the body, or church of Christ, consists of elect persons.
- That for these it was that he laid down his life.
III. That the intent of his death cannot be frustrated.
- That this body, or church of Christ consists of elect persons. By this body, or church, I understand the designed subjects of his spiritual kingdom or members of his mystical body, to whom he was appointed by the Father to be Head and Savior, and they to stand related to him as their Prophet, Priest, and King: which threefold office he bears peculiarly towards the elect, the church of the first born, and heirs of that world to come. And of these doth his body consist, that is, it is made up of these, exclusive to others; their number is certain and entire, and cannot be broken, either by addition or diminution: of this the tabernacle was a figure, 1. In respect of its symmetry or proportion of parts, which induced a singular beauty on it; towards which nothing could be added, nor any thing abated. 2. In that all the parts and dimensions thereof were predetermined of God; and not left, in the least, to human arbitrement or contingency: and these are expressly said to be “patterns of things in the heavens,” Hebrews 9:23, that is, of the heavenly temple, or church of the firstborn, which are written there, chapter 12:23, and in the appointed time shall be gathered together to him, as the materials of Solomon’s temple were to mount Moriah, 2 Chronicles 3:1.
That the body or church of Christ consists of elect persons, is drawn from such premises as these.
- In that our Lord and Savior so manifestly shews himself concerned for the elect, as having some peculiar instance and propriety in them, and charge of them. With these his delights were from everlasting, Proverbs 8:31. (a manifest proof of Christ’s divinity!) and as soon as they were actually in being, began his actual converses with them; and therein did even confine himself to the elect seed. With what unbelievable patience and goodness did be superintend the church, or elect nation, forty years together in the wilderness, Acts 7:36, 38, bearing them as on eagle’s wings, and tendering them as the apple of his eye! And when he dwelt on earth, he went not beyond the bounds of the Holy Land; where also all his delight was among the saints, Psalm 16:3. These he made his consorts, and men of his council: and when you find him with others, it was for the elect’s sake that were among them. How frequently, and with what well-pleasedness doth he speak of these! professing his love to them, and that according to the highest pattern! even as the Father loved him, “so he loved them!” John 15:9, and how great things he would do for them! not to the halving of his kingdom, but the laying down of his life for them! chapter 10:14,16, and 6:40. gathering them in, raising them up, and giving them to sit with him in his throne! Revelation 3:21. But for the world he takes little notice of them, except with a kind of contempt and comminution; “Let them alone,” Matthew 15:14. “Shake off the dust of your feet,” chapter 10:14. “Give not that which is holy to dogs,” etc. chapter 7:6. “Yea, though they seek him, they shall not find him,” John 7:34. But for his elect, he is found of them, even while they think not of him, Isaiah 65:1. The instances of Matthew, the woman of Samaria, the possessed Gadarene, his people at Corinth, are records of it. And all this, because these are “his portion, and the lot of his inheritance,” Deuteronomy 32:9. “They are the men which the Father gave him out of the world,” John 17:6. for as Christ, our Head, is not of this world, chapter 18:36. so neither is his kingdom, nor the subjects of it.
It is true, the Father has given Christ to be Head over all: but his lordship over men in general, and his headship over the church, have a far different respect and consideration: he is God of the whole earth, but Jeshuron’s God in a way peculiar to his chosen, Deuteronomy 32:26. Isaiah 44:2. A headship of dominion he has over rebels, and service he has from them, though they think not so, nor intend any thing less. Nebuchadnezzar was his hired daysman against Tyre, Ezekiel 26:18, and Cyrus against Babylon, Isaiah 45, whose right hand he held, though he knew him not; so Moab was his wash pot, Psalm 60:8. But for the elect, they are his natural subjects (though not naturally so;) they are his by another title, and to another end: and so intimate is the relation between him and them, that they are said to be “of his flesh, and of his bones,” Ephesians 5:30. They both have one soul and spirit; he and they make one perfect man, Eph, 4:13.
That the whole world is put in subjection to Christ, is for the elect’s sake; the power he has over others, is in order to their salvation; “He is Head over all things to the church,” Ephesians 1:22. that is, to subject, dispose, and order all for the church’s good: “He has power over all flesh, that he might give eternal life (not to all he has power over, but) to as many as the Father has given him,” John 17:2. which giving imports election; as going before it: and therefore he says, “I have manifested thy name to the men which thou gavest me out of the world, thine they were, (that is, by election,) and thou gavest them me,” John 17:6. That in Hebrews 10:5, “A body hast thou prepared me;” though chiefly intended there of his human nature, holds true of his body mystical; “All the members of which were written in God’s book (of election) when as yet there were none of them” actually existing, Psalm 139:16. He therefore prays for these, as a party distinct from the world, and given to him for an higher end; as appears by comparing the 2d, 6th, 9th, 24th, and 26th verses of the 17th chapter of John.
- We find, by scripture usages, that church, and elect, are but two several titles of the same persons, in a several respect; elect, as chosen of God to salvation; and so they are called the church of God, and said to be sanctified by God the Father, Jude, verse 1, and the church of Christ, as given or committed to him by the Father, in order to that salvation, John 17:6. Of this church were those particular congregations, to whom the apostles inscribed their epistles; where we have them sometimes entitled, “beloved of God,” Romans 1:7, sometimes, “the church of God,” and “sanctified in Christ,” 1 Corinthians 1:2. at other times, “saints and faithful brethren in Christ,” Colossians 1:2. then “churches of the saints,” 1 Corinthians 14:33, and “church of the firstborn,” Hebrews 12:23, and sometimes expressly, “elect,” 1 Peter 1:2. By all which is signified, that the church of Christ consists of elect persons; that these various appellations are but so many terms indifferently asked about the same subject, and all as notes of distinction from the world.
When Christ shall appear in his glory, then shall all his members be gathered to him: “The Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee,” says Zacharias, Zechariah 14:5. And Paul, discoursing the same thing, says, “They that are Christ’s at his coming,” 1 Corinthians 19:23. which shows that they are Christ’s so as others are not. And that it is meant of elect persons, appears by our Saviour’s own words, when speaking of his coming, and of the same persons who are said to be his, and to come with him, he gives them expressly that denomination, “He shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather together his elect,” Matthew 24:31. “but as for the rest of the dead, they lived not again until a thousand years after,” Revelation 20:5. therefore these were no part of this body, it may also be noted, that those who did not rise with the saints, are specified here by the same word, or note of distinction, as those not elected are, in another place; “the election has obtained, and the rest were blinded,” Rom; 11:7, and that those who had part in the first resurrection, are the same persons that are “written in the Lamb’s book of life,” is evident, by comparing Revelation 20:4, with chapter 13:8.
- It is necessary, that the body or church of Christ should be composed of the elect seed; 1. Because none else were fit to be of this body, but such as should be like the Head. Carnal members would be as uncomely to a spiritual head, as one of the brutes to be Adam’s companion: The king’s daughter-elect, to make her a suitable match for his Son, must be “all glorious within:” not only of the same outward metal (for so were those other creatures with Adam) but made in the same mould, and endued with the same spirit and understanding: there must be a congruity in all the parts throughout: they must be copies of him; “each one resembling the children of a king,” Judges 8:18. If the head be heavenly, so must the members: they cannot walk together, if not thus agreed. 2. Because this likeness to Christ is proper to the elect: it is a royal privilege entailed on them, and cannot descend or revert to any out of that line. That this likeness to Christ is requisite to all his members, and also peculiar to elect persons, are both attested in Romans 8:29. “Whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among; many brethren:” which implies, that the foreknown, or elect, only are predestinated thereto; and that, were it not for predestination, the firstborn should have but a thin assembly to preside among; indeed, nothing but blanks for his great adventure, and long expectation. In Ephesians 1:3, 4, 5, He further appropriates those spiritual blessings, by which men are conformed to Christ, to the same persons? “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly things in Christ: according as he has chosen us in him: — having predestinated us to the adoption of children.” By these two scriptures it appears, that God’s children, and Christ’s brethren are the same persons: and that they were so made by election. But, are Christ’s brethren and his church the same persons? take your solution from Hebrews 2:12. “I will declare thy name to my brethren; in the midst of the church will I sing praise to thee.” 3. This likeness to Christ is not attainable by any, without first being in him as their head: for which cause the elect were chosen in him, Ephesians 1:4. It is out of Christ’s fullness that all grace is received: and in order to that reception, there must be union: the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, nor indeed be a branch, unless it grow out of the vine. For which cause and end, the designed members of his body were decretively separated from their wild olive root, and put into Christ by election: and in the fullness of time actually. And hereby they are made partakers of the fatness of that heavenly root; that is, of the Spirit of Christ, which is called the anointing, 1 John 2:27. In this respect, the first and second Adams are set forth as parallels, touching headship to their respective bodies. As from Adam, their natural head, all mankind have derived their natural being; so from Christ, their spiritual head, do all the elect seed receive their spiritual being and nature: on which account he is styled “the everlasting Father,” and they “his children,” Isaiah 9:6; Hebrews 2:13. They were all in Christ from eternity as truly (but spiritually) as mankind in Adam when he fell; or Levi in Abraham’s loins when Melchizedek met him. Eve’s production, as to the manner of it, was a pattern of this: she was made of Adam’s substance; but she came not out of his loins, but out of his side, Genesis 2:21. 23. so is the new creature extracted out of Christ’s: they are “bone of his bones, and flesh of his flesh,” spiritually understood. And none can thus proceed from him, but such as were in him decretively before the world: men are blessed with these spiritual blessings, as being in Christ, and not otherwise, Ephesians 1:4. Tit. 3:5, 6.
Infer. 1. Let no man pretend to this honorable relation of membership to Christ, without something to show, by which he may warrantably avouch it. The most current mark will be your conformity, not to men, or self, but to Christ Jesus your head: it is that must denominate you Christians indeed. At the latter day Christ will know none but such as have made “their robes white in the blood of the Lamb.” All hangby’s and ivyclaspers will then be shaken off”, and those only retained that have his substance in them. Many shall come, and plead their works, what they have been, and what they have done; and their old hypocrisy will be so immoveable and impudent, that they will even expostulate the matter with him; “Have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name cast out devils, and done many wonderful works!” Matthew 7:22. of whom our Lord will profess, that he knows them not; “no, nor he never knew them.” verse 23. His own he knows, by their likeness to him: he knows, and cannot but know, the members of his body: “my sheep I know, but who are ye?” will he then say to all that are but professing members of him; which will (indeed) be a doleful conclusion of their groundless (though specious) confidence: look to it therefore in time.
Infer. 2. We gather hence the safe and honorable estate of the church.
First. Their state is honorable. If the woman’s dignity rise in proportion with that of her lord; how highly dignified is the spouse of Christ, in having the Son of God for her head! that seed of Abraham, which the second person took on him was instantly ennobled with a glory becoming the Son of God, and the head of principalities and powers; and no more to be considered merely after the flesh: in like manner, having accepted those his church is composed of, he communicates to them of his own condition and nature; “the glory his Father had given him, he gives to them,” John 17:22, and notwithstanding their former and natural baseness, he reckons them now as one with himself; and according to what he will make them at last. A tincture thereof he gave them here in regeneration; which also he carries on from glory to glory, and at his appearing it shall be perfected: they “shall be like him” indeed, 1 John 3:2. To say of the Church’s Head, that he is the Son of GOD, is to give him all titles of state and honor: it is that which every knee must bow to. His glory is so incomprehensibly glorious, that we shall sooner be lost in searching into it, than compass encomiums worthy of such a subject: 1 therefore say no more of it; nor can more be said, in so many words, to illustrate the church’s glory, than that she is the spouse of CHRIST. Hence the glory of our religion, and of its real confessors. And, let it be noted, that it is not a bare titular or temporary dignity they are vested with; but that which is real, solid, and durable. Princes confer titles of honor, but cannot infuse dispositions worthy those titles, nor keep them from degenerating: CHRIST, as Head of the church, does both: he derives into his own, his own prince-like virtues; and that as really, and intelligibly too, to those that partake of them, 1 John 1:1, 2, 3. as the vine its sap into its natural branches. What a labyrinth is it, both of honor and consolation, that the blood royal of heaven runs in their veins, and will never run out! but true as it is, how few do believe it? and of those few, who is it that lives up to the faith of it? Two ends, therefore, I mention it for:
[1.] To bear up your spirits against the world’s frown and calumnies, which the serious thoughts of your relation to such a Head, may well counterbalance and relieve you against. Princes in exile, (or, if in their own country, unknown and meanly attended,) are but coarsely used: and we marvel not at the matter, which yet the thoughts of their high birth, and confidence of restoration, do mightily support them under. Much more should the sons of God, (whose descent is not reckoned from the kings of the earth,) have still in their eye their divine extract, with that circumferent reward that is coining, and bear up their heads in a prince-like manner! and for “the joy that is set before them, both endure the cross, and despise the shame;” until they come to be exalted, not only above those nicknames the world imposes on them, but above the most honorable names, and most serene tithes that are found under heaven! Then shall it be known “whose ye are;” your luster shall be no longer hid: those that despise you now, shall “lick the dust of your feet,” Isaiah 49:23. Psalm 72:9, and then shall be accomplished that great word of your Savior (and that as surely as if it were done already,) “The glory which thou gavest me, I have given them,” John 17:22. yea, you shall sit with your Lord in his throne, Revelation 3:21. Besides, (which also shall add to that day’s solemnity,) this thing shall not be done in a corner; but as ye have been openly reviled, so shall ye have a public vindication. “The great trumpet shall be blown in the land,” Isaiah 27:13. The archangel, with the trumpet of God, 1 Thessalonians 4:16, shall come, and that with so shrill a note, that heaven and earth shall ring again; and this shall be the tenor of his song, “Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen on thee,” Isaiah 60:1.20, and shall set no more, “thus shall it be done to Zion, whom no man (now) seeketh after.” Jeremiah 30:17.
[2.] To mind you that your honorable state obliges to an honorable deportment, both towards your Head, yourselves, and your fellow members.
(1.) As touching your Head. 1. Own his supremacy, giving him preeminence in all things; call no man on earth Master; that is, in point of faith: give to Caesar the things that belong to him; only respect Christ as supreme lawgiver. 2. Submit to his government; steer your course by his counsels, and follow his conduct; go after him wherever he shall lead you; let all your senses have their seat in your Head; let every thing be understood by you according to his sense and interpretation of it; and if there needs an argument to back the exhortation, that ordinance, “thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee,” Genesis 3:16 is as true and cogent concerning Christ and the church, Ephesians 5:24. 3. Expose yourself for him; stand between him and wrongs; preserve his honor and interest with the utmost hazard of yourself; let life and death be as things indifferent to you, so “Christ may be magnified in you,” Philippians 1:20. 4. Look to your Head for supply of all grace; from his fullness it is to be had, and no where else: hold to your Head, lest notions beguile you of your reward, Colossians 2:18, 19. Be also sure that you keep to your place and duty, lest you miss of the nourishment that belongs to you, John 14:4,5. a member out of its place, is, for the time, as a member cut off. 5. Lastly. Adorn your Head, by your daily aspiring to a nearer resemblance of him: show forth his virtues: be holy as he was: let all your fruits be such as are meet for such a root. God the Father is the Head of Christ, and he bore the express image of his person, Hebrews 1:3. in all that he did: He could do nothing but what he saw the Father do,” John 5:19. So do you by your Head Christ: make him your example; and, in order thereto, live on him as your immediate root, and give him the honor of his own productions; remembering withal, that every slip of yours casts soil on him.
(2.) There is a respect due to yourselves: (a superfluous item, one would think, though needful.) There is aptitude enough to honor ourselves, but, as belonging to such an Head, is too much unthought of. Things that well enough beseem the common rank, would be a disgrace to persons of honor: the king’s daughter should be known by her outward garb, glorious within, and clothing of wrought gold, decipher the same person, and may not be separated. Ye have an “high calling,” walk worthy of it, Philippians 3:24. Colossians 1:10, and show your thankfulness, by an humble retribution: honor that which honors you, of comporting with its end: make not yourself cheap; stoop not beneath your degree: make Christ alone the object of your love, delight, dependence; to do otherwise is to debase yourself, Isaiah 57:9. The church is the glory of Christ; its members, therefore, should think themselves too good and too great, to be spent on the world and the world too mean and empty, to afford them either satisfaction or adornment. A circumspect walking, soberness of mind, humility, self-denial, with a meek and quiet spirit, are jewels of price, and ornaments indeed: by these the invited guests should distinguish themselves from intruders; and real Christians from merely nominal. In Christianity, it is no badge of pride or ill husbandry, to wear your best every day; we should not be seen without it; much wearing will better it, and it cannot be damaged but by lying by. Your bodies too are worthy of consideration, and not a little: they are the figures of Christ’s humanity, and temples of the Holy Ghost; therefore keep them unspotted, and profane them not, either by fashioning them to the world, or subjecting them to servile uses. But I would not cause any to err: these, though ornaments, are not your righteousness: when ye stand before God, ye must put over all the righteousness of our Lord and Mediator; (the priest’s holy garments were to be sprinkled with blood, Exodus 20:21.) This was that the speechless guest wanted, and was therefore cast out; though not discriminable by them that stood by: Abraham was justified by works before men, but before God, it was the righteousness of Christ where by faith he shrouded himself: faith justifies the person, and works justify his faith, both to himself and other men. (3.) Then carry it towards brethren as members of the same body. 1. Usurp not on them, as if more than fellow member with them: judge not the strong; despise not the weak: who made thee a judge? There is none but has need of forbearance from others; though, for the most part, they that need it most, are most backward to yield it: but this take for a rule, that the less you see your need, the more need you have of it. 2. Intrude not in another’s place and office: each member has its own, to which it is fitted: this it best becomes, and here it is most useful; elsewhere it would be both useless, and a deformity: as a finger transposed, and out of its own joint. 3.
Show your comembership, by your love and tender regard towards others: have compassion on the ignorant, and those out of the way, Hebrews 5:2. as your head towards you. If one be weak or wounded, let him that is strong and whole support and bind it up: if one foot stumble, the other steps in for its help: “Consider thyself, lest thou also be tempted,” Galatians 6:1. Members of the same natural body need no arguments to persuade to this duty; they do it by instinct. Our want of compassionateness towards others, though it shall not dry up, yet, may much restrain, at least in our apprehensions, the springs of Christ’s pity towards ourselves. 4. Lastly. Let the good of the whole have preference before a particular part; and let that of a lower use deny itself for the safety and assistance of that which is more noble: this, in a degree is to lay down our life for “the brethren.” He that in “these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men and a good evidence it is of your membership to Christ.
Secondly. The church is safe. The Son of God being their Head and Savior, bespeaks aloud their security. They are indeed compassed about with difficulties, dangers, and deaths, and yet they live; yea, they overcome, and shall in the end prove more than conquerors: the reason of all is, their Head is in heaven, whence all relief comes; and that, a venue cannot be stopped. If ye speak of principalities and powers, which rule in the air; Christ has a power above them; “they are under his feet,” Hebrews 1:13, and 2:8. Their power of hurting lies much in their subtlety; but even in this they are still circumvented; he catches them in their own net: and hence it is, that the devil has from the beginning been a liar to himself. His first bait in tempting was, “ye shall be as gods,” Genesis 3:5. when his meaning was, to make us like himself; but the wisdom of God turns the temptation into a prophecy, and Christ will make it good, John 17:21. as he also did that pernicious counsel of Caiaphas, chapter 11:50. The serpent in bruising Christ’s heel, got a bruise in his own head; that all his devices have still proved abortive, or turned on himself: he stirred up Judas to betray Christ, the Gentiles and Jews to condemn and crucify him; and what got he by it, but the loss of his empire? If ye speak of his seed, the same infatuation has descended to them: this nothing makes plainer than their still making it their interest to exterminate the church: with as much reason they might think to unhinge the world, or unbottom the rock of ages. But their projects have ever been defeated, and shall; as men mistaking their measures, and made to subserve the interest they design to crush. The Egyptians’ dealings with Israel, and nominal Christians’ with those that are really such, are instances above contradiction. It is a consideration of no small importance to our faith, that all things were made for Christ, and are at his disposal: therefore, whatever the church’s enemies have, they have it from the Church’s Head; who knowing his own interest and intent, will give out no more than to serve that turn; nor can they act what they have, but under his government. He is Prince of the kings of the earth, he ruleth among the gods, sits at the helm invisibly, steers the most secret and violent counsels, and carries the casting voice. Among other observable things it is matter of wonder, 1. That the divine prescience has so interwoven the secular interest with that of his church, as induceth a kind of necessity to protect the church for the world’s support. 2. That our Lord frequently compasseth his work by letting his enemies do their own, Exodus 1:11, 12. And, 3. That in all their devices, he still countermines them; and either takes out their powder, or blows them up with their own train: “Then the king of Syria warred against Israel, and took counsel with his servants, saying, In such and such a place shall be my camp. And the man of God sent to the king of Israel, saying, Beware that thou pass not such a place; for thither the Syrians are come down,” 2 Kings 6:8, 9. “The heathen are sunk down in the pit that they made: in the net which they hid is their own foot taken. The Lord is known by the judgment which he executeth: the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands,” Psalm 9:15,16, 2 Chronicles 20:22, 23.
But suppose that hell be broke loose, and legions of locusts, belched out of the bottomless pit, come up against them, armed with strength, winged with fury, ambuscaded with policy, edged with enmity, and headed by the red dragon; and by these is besieged the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and the church as unable to resist as a woman that is ready to travail: and now say their enemies, what will become of their dreams? Take this for your comfort: 1. There still hangs a cloud between the two camps, and its bright side is towards the church, Exodus 14:20. 2. The enemy’s camp is again surrounded by the church’s succors, and kept in a pound, as by “chariots and horsemen of fire,” 2 Kings 6:17. And, 3. That “he who sits in the heavens, will have them in derision,” Psalm 2:4. Jerusalem will prove a burdensome stone to all that trouble themselves with it: and if other means fail, and to make a total end, “fire comes down from God out of heaven, and devours them,” Revelation 20:9.
But there is yet a more dreadful sort of enemies than these; the devil, in the head of original sin, is a beast not to be dealt with. The church itself, reflecting on self, and looking no higher, may cry out with amazement, “Who is able to make war with the beast?” Indeed the whole of your native militia, with all the troops of freewill auxiliaries, will not do it; they are but mercenaries; and if you trust them, they will turn against you in the battle; or, if they stand to it, according to their best skill, it shall not avail you; they are with this beast but as stubble to his bow; yet be not discouraged, but renounce them all, and depend on the triple league above, that omnipotent and inviolable confederation, of all whose forces the Lord is commander in chief. This lion of the tribe of Judah is able to deal with that beast, and to tear him in pieces; yea, he has done it already “On his cross he triumphed over them,” Colossians 2:15. yea, and which is more, he followed the rout to the gates of hell; there he shut them in, and carries the key on his shoulder: they cannot wag but by license from him, nor tarry a moment beyond his prescript. To be short, the only dreadful thing is sin; the devil, death, and hell, are but subordinate attendants, as effects on their causes, and therefore that taken away, the rest are unstung, they have lost their power of hurting: so that the church still remains invincible; and the reason of all is, “It is founded on a rock,” Matthew 16:18. “and that rock is Christ,” 1 Corinthians 10:4. All which being true, not only of the church in gross, but of members in particular. Therefore,
Infer. 3. Let every one that is of this body be well pleased with his lot; be glad, and rejoice for ever in this your portion: this is the exaltation the brother of low degree should value himself by, James 1:9. Be your rank and condition ever so mean in the world, care not for it; but rest contented with your place, and be thankful for it: desire not yourself to change it, but strive to fill it up, and be as useful in it as you can. Look also for troubles, and think them not strange, 1 Peter 4:12. the “Captain of your salvation was made perfect through suffering,” Hebrews 2:10, “and the servant may not look to fare better than his Lord,” Luke 23:41.
Infer. 4. If Jesus Christ be your head, be confident, then, of all love, counsel, care, and protection from him; union with him entitles to all that is his. It is natural to the head to love and cherish the body, and every member of it; to contrive and cast about for its welfare and safety: “As a man cherisheth his, own flesh, so doth Christ his church,” Ephesians 5:29. What though thou be, in thyself, an uncomely member? He will put the more comeliness on thee, 1 Corinthians 12:23. he will clothe thee, and feed thee, and physic thee. “He will give grace and glory, and no good thing will he withhold from thee,” Psalm 84:11. For he being the firstborn, prince, and head of the family, all the younger brethren are to be maintained on his inheritance.
Infer. V. Rest also assured of safe conduct to the promised land. Adversaries and difficulties you will certainly meet with; remaining corruptions, like the mixed multitude, will be tumultuating and tempting within; the Amalekites, and people of his wrath, will stand in your way without, and be falling on your rear, to cut off the weak and feeble; and the serpent will yet be nibbling and bruising your heel; but higher than that he toucheth not: your heart and your head are out of his reach, therefore safe: if it come to the worst, ye can but die, and death itself shall not hurt you: nay, you conquer in dying: it shall but mend your pace heavenwards, and hasten you up to the throne of God. Therefore quit you like men, and as men of nearest relation, by blood and spirits, to the man Christ Jesus: for, “God shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly,” Romans 16:20. Come (will your captain say to you, come,) “set your feet on the neck of this king of pride,” Josh. 10:24, and do by him as he has done by others, and would have done also by you; give him double according to his works, Revelation 18:6. This is the time when ye shall judge angels, 1 Corinthians 6:3, and all under the conduct of this your head and captain, who will now “present you faultless, even before the presence of his glory, with exceeding joy,” Jude, verse 24.
- That our Lord Jesus Christ gave his life a ransom for the elect.
That the elect are Christ’s peculiar portion is shown before; and what engagements were on him, on that account, for their redemption, will appear afterwards. By “giving himself a ransom,” I understand the whole of his humiliation, whatever he did or suffered as Mediator, from his incarnation to his resurrection; all which are summarily expressed by “the blood of his cross;” as all the precious fruits of his death are by “forgiveness of sins, and reconciliation with God.” That was the price wherewith he bought them that should be saved; and this the salvation he bought for them, and them for it. For although Satan (through their freewill failings in Adam) had got a temporary mortgage on the elect themselves, they are not his; the fee simple, or right of inheritance, remains in Christ; and therefore, at the year of jubilee, they return to him, as the right heir; though not without both conquest and full price; which two together make redemption complete.
My scope here is to shew that “the body, or church of Christ, are especially concerned and interested in redemption: “and, in order thereto, I would consider two other of the divine works, both which respect the world universally, as redemption doth, and yet have a specialty in them, as redemption also has, namely, creation and providence.
- Creation: one God was the maker of all; but all were not made for the same use and end: he had a peculiar scope in the making of some, which was not common to the whole; yea, the whole was made for the sake of that some. As in the great house are many vessels (all of one master’s providing, and all for his own service,) “some to honor, and some to dishonor;” so in the world, some God raised up to be monuments of his power and justice, Exodus 9:16, Jude 4, Romans 9:22, 1 Peter 2:8, called therefore “vessels of wrath,” Romans 9:22. Others are “vessels of mercy,” whom he formed for himself, Isaiah 43:7, 21, and are therefore said to be “afore prepared to glory,” Romans 9:33.
- Providence: this also extends to all, and to each individual: he has power over all, and doth govern them in their most ungoverned designs and actions: but as touching his church, the “people of his holiness,” Isaiah 63:18. he holds a peculiar kind of government over them, and steerage of their concerns: and this so far exceeds the other, that, in comparison, it is said, “He never bore rule over them,” verse 19, and, which is still to be remarked, the others’ concerns are made subservient to theirs; “He is head over all to the church,” Ephesians 1:22. in like manner redemption may be said to be general, and yet to have a specialty in it: it is general, 1. In respect of persons. 2. In respect of things. Both which are true apart, though not conjunctly: it purchaseth some good things for all; and all good things for some. As it respects persons, it obtains a general reprieve, extensive to all the sons of Adam: the sin of the world was so far expiated, that vengeance was not presently executed; which must have been, had not the Son of God interposed himself: his being slain from the foundation of the world, was the foundation of the world’s standing, and of all the good things which the world in general are partakers of. All that order and usefulness which yet survives among the creatures, with all the remains of our primitive state, was preserved, or rather restored, by redemption: Christ is “that light which lighteth every one that cometh into the world,” John 1:9, that is, the light and blessings which any man has, he has them from Christ, as a Redeemer; “by him all things consist,” Colossians 1:17. Thus far redemption was general as to persons; and in this sense Christ is the Savior of all men. But let us not omit, that all this had a special respect to the Church elect: for them it was that the world was made: they are the substance of it, Isaiah 6:13, and but for them it had been dissolved into a lake of fire. What the prophet speaks of Israel, was true of the universe, “Except the Lord of hosts had left us a remnant, we had been as Sodom,” chapter 1:9. as those days of tribulation were shortened for the elect’s sake, Matthew 24:22. (not yet in being) so for them it was, that when sin came in, destruction was warded off.
But temporary things, though ever so great and good, were of too low an alloy to be the purchase of divine blood; their line is too short to measure redemption by, and their bulk too narrow to fill up the height and depth of that great abyss: there must, by that glorious achievement, be some nobler obtainment than short-lived blessings; and an higher end than to bring men into a mere possibility of being saved. The life of the Son of God was infinitely too precious to be given for perishing things; nor would it be consistent with divine wisdom to venture it for an uncertainty, It had been a light thing for Christ, and not worthy his sufferings, to raise up the ruins made by Adam to such a degree of restoration as would only have set him in his former state, and that on terms more unlikely to succeed: this had been to give a greater value for things of lesser moment; for it needs must be a happier state, to be made upright, without bias to evil, than to be moved with all manner of motives, while fettered by unbelief, and a natural bent to revolt further; for notwithstanding all those motives and means, not the majority only, but the universality of mankind might have perished, and gone to hell; which would in no wise have answered God’s end in making the world, much less in redeeming it. It was therefore necessary redemption should have a further reach than to bring men into a mere salvable state, and that could not be less than a state of certain salvation. And, in order to this, redemption was general as to things, even all that pertaineth to life and godliness; eternal life, and whatever conduceth thereto, as will after be made evident. And this is that redemption we are treating of; and this is the sense of the present position, namely, that redemption, thus qualified, is peculiar to the church; and that election is the pattern by which redemption is to be measured: “the Son can do nothing but what he sees the Father do,” John 5:19.
To make redemption larger than electing love, is to overlay the foundation; which (all men know) is a very momentous error in building, especially of such a tower whose top must reach to heaven. It therefore behooves us to see that we separate not what God has conjoined, either by stretching or straining the bounds he has set. The Jews were of opinion that the promise of the Messiah belonged only to them, exclusive to the Gentiles: others since would extend it to all the sons of men universally, and alike; not considering the reason why the promise was made to the woman’s seed, and not to Adam’s: but the Messiah himself, who best knew the line of the promise, and end of his mission, exempted none; but extends it to “all nations” indifferently; yet so as that he restrains it to the elect among them, describing them still by such appellations as import a select party: they are called “his seed,” and the “travail of his soul;” with respect to whom he should “make his soul an offering for sin,” Isaiah 53:10, 11. these also he terms “his sheep,” and himself “the good shepherd” (as he well might) “whose own the sheep are, and for whom he laid down his life,” John 10:15, and that he might not be taken to intend those only of the Jewish nation, he presently adds, “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also must I bring,” verse 16. The evangelist, expounding the high priest’s prophecy, “that it was expedient one man should die for the people,” delivers it thus: that “he should. not die for that nation only, but also, that he should gather together in one the children of God that are scattered abroad,” chapter 11:52, in consequence whereof, they are said to be “made nigh by the blood of Christ,” Ephesians 2:13. though before afar off: and that “he reconciled both (that is, Jews and Gentiles, or the elect scattered amongst both,) in one body by the cross,” verse 16, and this in pursuance of that blessed compact made with him, for restoring the preserved of Israel, as you find it recorded in Isa. 49:6. It further appears by Jam. 53:6. that they were “sheep whose iniquities were laid on Christ:” and again, verse 8. “For the transgression of my people was he stricken.” And here let me note (for it is very remarkable,) that we read not of any party of men termed sheep, the people of God, and his children, in distinction from others, but with respect to some particular interest he, has in them above others; and what that interest may be, excepting election, doth not appear to us; for those other sheep were not yet called, and therefore not yet believers, and sheep on that account; but as they were of God’s elect. For, though all men were lost, Christ was “sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel;” that is, those persons of the lost and perishing world, whom God has chosen peculiarly, as he did the house of Israel from among the nations; and who, in that respect, were a special type of the spiritual election. And, on this account, the promises of the new covenant were made to the church under such names and titles as were proper to that people, as distinguished from other nations.
In Isaiah 62, we find holy and redeemed applied to the same persons; whether it be meant of elective holiness, or actual, it comes to one; for both of them, together with redemption, do refer to the same subject: for as actual sanctification is the next fruit and consequent of redemption, so election is the root of them both; as ye have it in 1 Peter 1:2. “Elect to obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:2. To be holy, is to be sacred, selected, and set apart for holy uses, by appointment of God; and they were actually sanctified by the “sprinkling of blood,” Hebrews 9:19. in both which respects, the people of Israel, the tabernacle, temple, priests, altars, etc. are all said to be holy.
In Luke 1:72. God’s sending of Christ is said to be, “in performance of his holy covenant,” which was first proclaimed in Paradise, as made with the woman’s seed, Genesis 3:15, and afterwards renewed with Abraham, Genesis 12:3, and is therefore termed, “The mercy promised to Abraham, and to his seed: “And who are Abraham’s seed? Not the world, but believers; that is, the elect: for these only obtain faith, Romans 11:7, and Galatians 3:29. saith plain, “If ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed.” We also read, that it was a peculiar people that Christ “gave himself for, and purchased,” Tit. 2:14. it denotes some special propriety he has in them above others; and so, a special cause for his giving himself for them. It also seems that peculiar and purchased are so nearly allied, that one word is used to signify both, 1 Peter 2:9. According with this, is that in 1 Peter 1:20. where Christ is said to be “verily foreordained, and manifested,” for those he writes that epistle to: that they were persons elected, is evident by the first and second verses; and elect to the “sprinkling of his blood”: and as they were elected to it, so in John 17, he professes to make it good; “for their sakes (says Christ) I sanctify myself;” and twice in John 10, “that he laid down his life for the sheep,” John 10:11. 15. which is as exclusive of others, as where he saith, “My righteousness extends to the saints; and he that believeth shall be saved;” that is, such, and none else.
It further appears from Acts 20:28. that it was “the church of God he purchased with his own blood.” Now, the church and the world are plainly distinct, as a garden enclosed is from the common fields. That the church consists of elect persons is proved before; and that it was the church he died for, is proved by this scripture; as also from Ephesians chapter 5, where husbands are required to love their wives, as “Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it,” Ephesians 5:25. which shows, that as the husband’s love to his wife is another kind of love, than that he bears to others of the same sex; so Christ’s love to his church; and therefore his death, which was the special effect of that love, is peculiar to the church only. The elders about the throne sing a new song to the Lamb, because “he redeemed them to God by his blood,” Revelation 5:9, among other reasons for that style of elders, this may be one, that they “were chosen from the days of old, and their names written in his book of life from the foundation of the world,” chapter 17:8. They are also said to be “redeemed out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;” which rationally implies, that the bulk of those people and nations were not redeemed with them. We also read, that a certain number are said to be redeemed “from the earth, and from among men,” chapter 14:3,4. If some are redeemed among others, it follows, of course, that those others were exempted. Here note, by the way, that these elders were now in heaven, above the clouds of misconception and prejudiced opinion; and therefore no reason to doubt their testimony. And further, these redeemed ones are there also styled, “The first fruits to God, and to the Lamb,” Revelation 14:4, which appellation insinuates, that they were separated from the rest, as the first fruits under the law were by God himself, who took them for his own portion, Numb. 3:18, and 8:16. They are likewise said to have the “Father’s name written in their foreheads,” Revelation 14:1. (election marked them out for Christ) and to be “written in the Lamb’s book of life;” and that as a lamb slain; who on that Account says to his Father, “Thine they were, and thou gavest them me,” John 17:6. Where also in his prayer to those whose sacrifice he was now to offer, he styles them, “the men whom the Father had given him out of the world;” and in verse 10. “all mine are thine, and thine are mine: “that is, all that were Christ’s in order to redemption, were first the Father’s by election. It is as if he had said, All that I undertake for, are thine elect; and all thine elect I undertake for. He therefore reciprocates the terms of relation, turns them to and again, to show the sameness of the persons concerned in both. From all which it seems undeniably evident, that as a certain number were, elected, so a certain number, and those the very same persons, were redeemed.
The ground and truth of this assertion, is further confirmed by such arguments as these:
Argument 1. The Levitical sacrifices were offered for the house of Israel, exemptive of other nations: and these being a type of the spiritual election, it follows, that this sacrifice if Christ (typified by theirs) was also peculiar to Jews in spirit, or spiritual Jews: “for he only is reckoned a Jew, that is such inwardly in the spirit,” Romans 2:29. So Aaron’s making atonement for his household, and bearing the names of the twelve tribes on his breastplate, were typical of our great High Priest’s bearing the names, and sustaining the persons of those for whom he offered himself on the cross: of all those legal shadows, Christ and the church of the first born are the body and substance.
Argument 2. The right of redemption among the Jews (which shadowed this) was founded on brotherhood: hence I infer, that that relation, spiritually taken, was both the ground and limit of Christ’s office as a Redeemer. The apostle’s discourse in Hebrews chapter 2, seems to point at this, where he says “they were brethren, children, and sons, whom Christ should deliver from bondage, make reconciliation for their sins, and bring to glory.” But how came they to be God’s children, and the brethren of Christ, above others? It was by predestination; and that it was it entitled them to redemption; as is evident by comparing the 5th and 7th verses of Ephesians 1. “Having predestinated us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ: in whom we have redemption through his blood.” And it is worthy of your notice, that by the law of redemption, a stranger (one that was not of the brotherhood) might not be redeemed; but one that was, though not redeemed, must yet go free in the year of jubilee, Lev. 25:46, 48. with 41:54, which shews the peculiar respect the Lord has for his peculiar people.
Argument 3. The saving benefits of redemption do not redound to any but elect persons, whatever in one place if ascribed to redemption, as the special fruit and consequent thereof, is elsewhere ascribed to election, and to this as the first and original root: and, that redemption itself is the fruit of electing love, is evident by 1 Pet 1:2. (quoted before) “Elect to obedience, and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.” They are also said to be “blessed with all spiritual blessings in Christ, according as he had chosen them in him,” Ephesians 1:3, 4, and if all spiritual blessings be dispensed by the law of election, then all the saving benefits of redemption (which are the same with those of election) must be dispensed by the same rule; and so, to the same persons only. We also find that Christ’s actual distribution of the gifts he received for men, is guided answerably: he manifests the Father’s name to the men he had given him out of the world,” John 17:6, to these he expounds that in private, which to others he spake in parables: and thus he did, because “to them it was given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God; but to the multitude it was not given,” Matthew 13:34. 36, and election was that which gave it them, as it follows there, “for so it seemed good in thy sight.” In like manner, the apostle, in Romans 8, puts election and redemption together, as pertaining to the same persons, and justification, which is the next effect of redemption, he makes also an unquestionable consequent of election; “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth: Who shall condemn? It is Christ that died,” Romans 8:33, 34. The question being put concerning God’s elect, and the answer referring to those for whom Christ died; is a plain implication, that redemption and justification are commensurate with election; that either of them concerneth only the same persons; and that neither of them extends to any, but whom the other also taketh in.
Argument 4. The price of redemption was of that precious and matchless value, that it could not be parted with, but with respect to the certainty of the end for which it was paid. Now, the end of redemption was the salvation of men: below which there could not be an end worthy the death of Christ; and this nothing could secure but election, The elect always have obtained, and shall: this is a rule affirmed in Romans 11:7. But for the rest, they are blinded; that is, they are left to their own voluntary misunderstanding; and being so left, not only they do not, but they cannot believe. And Christ knowing from the beginning who they were that believed not, but would certainly reject him, to what end should he make his soul an offering for them? Why for the world of the ungodly, whose spirits were in prison some thousands of years before? the Lord intends to save alive, he appoints an atonement to be made for them,” Numb. 16:46, 47, but for those he intends to destroy (which is always done justly,) he will not accept an offering, judges 13:23, and therefore not appoint it: as he did not under the law, for those crimes which men were to die for.
Argument 5. I confine redemption to elect persons, because intercession, which is of equal latitude with redemption, is limited to them, exclusive of others. The priests under the law were to pray for those whose sacrifice they offered; and what they did, was a pattern of our Savior’s priestly office; whom likewise we find to sacrifice and pray only for the same persons; he is an advocate for those for whose sin he is a propitiation, 1 John 2:1, whose transgressions he was smitten for, for them he makes intercession, Isaiah 63:8. 12. for their sakes he sanctified himself, and for them it was that he made that solemn prayer in the 17th of John. And he then prayed for them, as being just then on offering their sacrifice: he also shuts out the world expressly from having any interest in it: “I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me,” John 17:9. And he adds the reason, the foundation reason, why he would pray for these, “for they are thine;” that is, they were the Father’s by election: for in all other respects, “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof,” Psalm 24:1.
Argument 6. Another argument for peculiar redemption, is founded on the merit of Christ’s death, together with its efficacy. He was not cut off for himself, Daniel 9:26. but those he undertook for: and it was to procure them a right to those glorious privileges which election ordained them to. Hence I argue, 1. That which Christ laid down his life for, that he merited; and, 2. What he merited, is due to those for whom it was merited. Now, the principal thing intended and merited by his death, was the justification of sinners; and “that God might be just in justifying of them,” Romans 3:26, and, finally, that they might have “eternal life,” John 17:2. If, therefore, he merited this for all, then all must be justified and saved, Romans 5:8, 9, 1.0, and it cannot be justly denied to any: for it is their due, by virtue of a price: and that price well worthy of it; which also was paid to that very end, and this by the Creditor’s own appointment; who cannot condemn any for whom Christ died, Romans 8:34. His justice shall not be liable to such. Wherever it may rationally be concluded, that if all men are not justified, justification doth not belong to all and, consequently, that Christ did not give himself for all. And, as for efficacy, Adam’s transgression was efficacious on the will, and whole man, to deprave; why not then the righteousness of Christ to restore, since the preeminence, in that very thing, is given to him? “For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness, shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ,” Romans 5:17.
Argument 7. The doctrine of special and peculiar redemption is further confirmed by those perilous consequents which attend the doctrine of general redemption, as it is commonly held forth; for, 1. It seems to reflect on the wisdom of God; as imputing to him such a contrivance for men’s salvation, as might be possibly frustrated; which is far from convincing the world that Christ crucified is the wisdom of God. 2. It also seems to tax God with injustice, as not discharging those whose transgressions are answered for by their Surety; or else, that the sufferings of Christ were not sufficient to make a discharge due to them. Or, 3. It insinuates a deficiency of power, or want of good will, to prosecute his design to perfection. 4. It makes men boasters; suspending the virtue and success of all that Christ has done for them, on something to be done by themselves, which he is not the doer of; and consequently, that men are principals in procuring their own salvation; and so Christ shall have but his thousands, in truth his nothing, while freedom of will shall have its ten thousands to cry up the praises of men. This is not “that the Lord alone should be exalted.” 5. It would also follow, that those who are saved and gone to heaven, have nothing more of Christ’s to glory in, and praise him for, than those who are perished and gone to hell. For, according to the principles of general redemption, he did and doeth for all alike; and no more for one than for another. 6. It. makes men presumptuous, and carnally secure: how many have soothed up themselves in their impenitency and hardness of heart, and fenced themselves against the word, on this very supposition, That Christ died for all; and why then should not they look to be saved as well as any other? and so they lean, pretendedly, on the Lord, and transgress; not considering, that those for whom Christ died, he purchased for them a freedom from sin, and not a liberty of sinning; nor impunity, but on terms of faith and repentance. And that the tempter disturbs them not in their rest on such a foundation, may be one reason why men so stiffly adhere to it; and that those of the general principle are so seldom troubled with terrors of conscience.
Lastly. There was yet another reason of Christ’s dying peculiarly for the elect; they were his designed spouse; and that brought on him peculiar engagements to die for them. 1. As being his spouse, he was chargeable with their debts: they being made under a law, and he assuming them into a spousal relation, made himself one with them, and answerable for them: it was, in the law’s account, as well as his own intent, a making himself their Surety, Isaiah 53:8. 11. and, consequently, in case of forfeiture, his life must go for theirs. He is therefore said to be “made under the law,” Galatians 4:4, 5. as they were, and to be “made sin for them,” 1 Corinthians 5:21, and being so, “it behooved him to suffer,” Luke 24:46, and it could not be avoided, Acts 17:3. For the law being just and holy, its violation must be answered for, either by principals or surety: and here it was that mercy and truth, grace and justice met together; making that due temperament which answered the ends of both. Grace takes hold of him as a Surety, that the sinner might go free; and justice as of the most responsible party, for none else could answer the law’s demands, and being apprehended, he readily yields to make satisfaction, and says to the law, as once to the Jews, when he was on the point of suffering for his spouse, “If ye seek me let these go their way,” John 18:8. 2. Another engagement was the love he bore to them; if possibly he might have been quit of that suretyship engagement, this of his love would have held him to it; he could not bear to see his beloved fast chained, like slaves, to the devil’s galleys, and forced to serve against their natural Lord: and this. bondage they could not be freed from, but by conquering him whose bondslaves they were; nor could that be done’, but by his own death, Hebrews 2:14. John 12:31, 33. And this his love constrained him to, Ephesians 5:25. Revelation 1:5, Galatians 2:20, “for love (to be sure his love) is stronger than death,” Cant. 8:6, and accordingly we find that this is still made the ground and motive of his dying. 3. As the contract could not be dissolved, for he hates putting away; nor his love taken off, for he changeth not; so neither as the case stood, could he and they cohabit and dwell together. Creatures defiled with sin, were not meet consorts for the Lord of glory: nor could they be brought to a meetness, but by being washed in his blood; as he says to Peter, “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me,” John 13:8. The church must be “sanctified and cleansed, without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing,” Ephesians 5:26, before they are fit for the presence of Christ in glory; and this could not be effected, but by “his giving himself for them:” to this, therefore, the spirits of just men made perfect, do ascribe their being in heaven: “And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation,” Revelation 5:9.
Whether they might possibly have been saved some other way, is to me a needless inquiry: but it seems the import of our Savior’s own speech, that if he had not thus done, he must have been in heaven without suitable company; where, speaking of himself, he says, “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone,” John 12:24. But it was not good that the man should be alone; no, not “the man Christ Jesus.” It was therefore ordained, that he should have a seed to serve him; a church to preside over; in the midst of whom he should sing praise to his Father, Hebrews 2:12, who are also called his fellows, Hebrews 1:9, but his blood must be the seed of that church, Isaiah 53:10. the price of their redemption, Revelation 5:9, the laver of their regeneration, Ephesians 5:26. And so dear is the church to Christ, that he thinks himself not complete without them, Ephesians 1:23. It was one of the last requests before he died, that they might be with him, John 17:24. And if the body must be with its Head, the holiest of holies must be their mansion: but such is that place’s holiness, as not to admit them, without a perfect purity; nor could they, if not so purified, bear the holiness of the place. All which considered together, shew such a reason of Christ’s dying for the elect, as was not predicable of other men.
For the rest of the world, they were given as handmaids to his spouse: by virtue of which donation, they also are his; “He is head overall to the church,” Ephesians 1:22. They are his, but not as his spouse; as Sodom’s daughters and Samaria’s were to Jerusalem; “but not by her covenant,” Ezekiel 16:61. His relation to them was not such as to make him responsible for their defaults, or to oblige him for their recovery: yet, the price wherewith he ransomed his spouse, took in her handmaids also; as Abraham’s rescuing his brother Lot, brought back the Sodomites with him. All the benefits the world have by redemption, they may thank the church for, next to Christ himself; for they have it on her account, as the Sodomites theirs from Lot’s. And, to speak freely, the spouse of Christ could not well have been without her handmaids: we little think what service the world does for the church; although, because they intend not so, they are not rewardable for it, Isaiah 10:5-12. I shall only add our Savior’s own assertion in the 17th of John, where speaking of those his Father had given him, that he might give them eternal life, he saith expressly, that for “their sakes he sanctified himself,” John 17:19. Which was to say, in effect, that had it not been for them, he had not stirred out of heaven for the rest.
I should now come to the inferences: but finding this doctrine as much opposed as that of election; observing also a great proneness in men to embrace the notion of general and conditional redemption (which proceeds, partly, from nature’s inability to discern a reason, why one should be redeemed, and not another; partly, for that it is grateful to lapsed creatures, to fancy themselves active in their own recovery; partly also, from an aptness to catch at any thing that but seems to give quiet under convictions,) I hope it shall not be time lost to weigh their exceptions and our reply together: in doing which, I shall not answer every text that is made to serve in that cause; the sense they give of some, being refuted, may serve for many.
Objection: In Romans 5:18, the restoration by Christ is made as large and as extensive as Adam’s sin.
Answer: The comparison there stated is not put extensively, as respecting the objects of sin and grace; but intensively, as respecting the different efficacy of the several means by which those contrary effects were produced: the apostle, therefore, to obviate such objections, restrains it in verse 15. “But not as the offence, so also is the free gift.” The free gift of righteousness and life doth not extend to mankind universally and efficaciously, as sin and death did; and he adds a reason to it; “For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace has abounded to many,” Romans 5:15. which is as if he had said, if the free gift had taken in all, as the offence did, then all should have been saved; for that grace has abounded more than the offence: which superabounding of grace, must be meant of the prevalent efficacy of grace (for, as to the objects of it, it could not take in more than all;) and therefore, those towards whom it has so abounded, shall surely partake of the benefits of it. And further, that the word all might not be taken universally, he presently varies the term of comprehension, and renders that all by many: “As by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous,” Romans 5:19. “As all in Adam died, so all in Christ shall be made alive,” 1 Corinthians 15:22.
Objection: But redemption is often set forth in terms importing universality, namely, “That Christ gave himself a ransom for all; that he takes away the sin of the world; and is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world,” 1 Timothy 2:6. John 1:29. 1 John 2:2. which we cannot but take in a literal sense.
Answer: Both sacred writ and common discourse do frequently speak in general terms, when nothing is less intended by it than universality. John 4:20. “Come, see a man that told me all things that ever I did!” when it was but how many husbands she had had, and that her present man was not one. 1 Corinthians 10:23, Paul is said to please all men in all things; whereas, in fact, he pleased but few in any thing, and in all things next to none. Colossians 1:6, the gospel is said “to be come into all the world, and to bring forth fruit as it did in them;” when yet, it was but a corner of the world, and but few, very few, in whom it brought forth as in them: examples are endless. It is therefore to be noted, that where those general, or rather indefinite, terms are used about redemption, it is mostly to shew, that the church of God, which Christ, was to gather in, was not confined to the offspring of any particular head, nor consisted of any separate sort or rank of persons, exclusive of others; but some of every kindred and nation under heaven, classes and degrees among men: the church of God takes in of all, and so doth redemption; however different in other respects, they are “all one in Christ,” Galatians 3:28. And where this is not the scope, these the persons concerned are described by a narrower list; as that he gave his life a ransom for many, Matthew 20:28, and 26:28, and that he was once offered to bear the sins of many, Hebrews 9. 28. that he laid down his life for the sheep, John 10:15. that they are redeemed “from the earth, and from among men,” Revelation 14:3, 4. “and out of every kindred, tongue, people, and nation,” chapter 5:9. That in Timothy, “who gave himself a ransom for all?” gives the objection no support; for all in the 6th verse must intend the same as all in the 1st verse, which the text itself expounds to be “kings, and men in authority.” As for the world, it has many and various acceptations in scripture: it is not always meant of men; and of men, it seldom intends the universality; yea, it is often meant of very few, in comparison of the whole: it would, therefore, be unanswerable rashness to limit so indefinite a term to any particular construction, as, in part, is seen by the following instances: it sometimes intends the place of men’s habitation here on earth, Nehemiah 1:5, the time and state of things, after the dissolution of the present frame, Luke 20:35, the extent and compass of the Roman empire, chapter 2:1, the religion and manners of the world, Acts 17:6, the troubles which in this world do attend the disciples of Christ, John 16:33, the splendor, wealth, honor, or whatever else is taking with the hearts of men, Galatians 6:14, to set forth the greatness of something that cannot be well expressed, John 21:25, for the Gentiles, in distinction from the Jews, Romans 11:12. for the numerous increase of some particular party, John 12:19. More might be cited, but these may suffice to shew how much it behooves us to consider well the scope and context of scripture, and not to be led by the vocal sounds of words. There are yet two interpretations, which come nearer the matter in hand: one is that which takes in the whole party of wicked men alone, and by themselves; as where it is said, “That saints shall judge the world,” 1 Corinthians 6:2. it must be meant of the world of ungodly, for the saints shall not judge one another: so, “All the world wondered after the beast, and worshipped the dragon,” Revelation 13:3, 4. This also must intend the herd of idolaters, exemptive of those who followed the Lamb, Revelation 14:4. It is also said, “the whole world lieth in wickedness,” 1 John 5:19, here ye have the very words, and alike connected, as in the place objected; which therefore may as well be supposed of the same comprehension; and yet it may not be understood of mankind universally, but such of them as are under the power and conduct of Satan, which the saints are not, and therefore are no part of the world, or whole world there intended. The other interpretation of the word seems couched in the places objected, where Christ is said to “take away the sins of the world, and to be a propitiation for the sins of the whole world: “for why may not the world be taken in a restricted and limited sense here, as in the places quoted? If by world is sometimes meant the world of ungodly, as separated from the saints; by like reason, at other times, it may be meant of the world of saints, as separated from the wicked, especially when nothing in the scope or context contradicts it. And what then shall hinder, but that world, in the places objected, may be intended of the elect, exclusive to others; as the world that lies in wickedness, is of those others exclusive of the elect? To be sure there can be no peril in so understanding it; for we know that Christ is the propitiation for their sins: but to affirm it of the bulk of mankind, has many unruly and unworthy consequences attending it, some of which are shown before. But what world was it that Christ would not pray for? It could not be that for which he died, for the priest was bound to pray for those he offered for? It must then be another; and then it will follow that there are two: 1. A lesser, which consists of a select party, and was taken out of the world universal, as the Israelitish nation was out of the Egyptian, Deuteronomy 4:34. or as the Christian church, at first, was out of the Jewish, Acts 2:44—47. These our Savior styles “the men which his Father gave him out of the world,” John 17:6. For these it was that he sanctified himself, that is, set himself apart to suffer for them, and for these he prayed, and of these is made up that world whose sin he taketh away, and for whose sins, even of the whole of them, he is the propitiation. These are the men that shall be counted worthy of the world to come, Luke 20:35, and they are as properly termed a world, as that blessed state and place of glory they shall be taken into; or as the dwellers on earth are denominated a world, from the place of their habitation, Romans 13:3, 4. 8. 2. There is also a world of ungodly, from among whom that lesser world was taken and rated, John 15:19, 17:6, of whom it is said, “the devil is their god,” 2 Corinthians 4:4, and that “their names are not in the Lamb’s book of life,” Revelation 13:8, but, “the whole of it lieth in wickedness,” 1 John 5:19. And this is that world for whom Christ professedly says, “He did not pray;” surely, then, he “would not make his soul an offering for their sins.”
But because so great a stress is laid on the literal sense of the word, let us scan a little further this world whose sin is taken away. I think it cannot intend the universality of mankind, because, though the world in general be concerned in redemption, those general concerns are too light to balance the weight of the text; temporary things could in no wise answer the end and worth of eternal redemption; which being the most tremendous act that ever the sun had seen, or shall, the effects thereof must be answerably great and glorious; and, consequently, it must peculiarly respect the elect, for it suits adequately to none also. To make out this, let us inquire what the sin of the world is, and what the import of taking it away, Psalm 103:12. For the first: it is either some one grand transgression, or the whole body of sins together: if a particular sin, it must be unbelief; for that was the first, and parent to all the rest; and it is thus marked out, the or that sin of the world; 1. Because it was the sin of the whole, both Jews and Gentiles. 2. It gave entrance to all other sins; they sprang from it as their root. And, 3. It is the condemning sin; no man perisheth but for unbelief; where the gospel is not, they perish for not believing in God; and where it is, for not believing in Christ. Or if it be meant of all sins universally, then the text considers them as put together; and taken away at once, as if but one. But be it unbelief singly and specially, or the whole body of sins conjunct, it comes to one; for unbelief is a member of that body, and a capital one; and so that be taken away, it matters not, this world is safe: the reason is, that Christ, in saving from unbelief, saves from all: for as faith is a complex of grace, so is unbelief of sins; take away this, and the gulf is shut, all other sins disappear; there is an end of them, both as to guilt and prevalency; “he that believes shall be saved.” For the second, touching the import of taking away; 1. The putting of it in the present tense, implies a constant and continued act, still pursuing the same end; it also imports a perfect act, not a partial taking away, or frustrable endeavor, but complete and certain, as a man takes away any thing until it all be gone. 2. That Christ alone, and by himself, performs this work. 3. That he takes away sin, as a lamb slain; not for himself (for he was without spot,) but for those whose surety he was. And, 4. As the Lamb of God; a lamb of God’s own providing, to save the lives of his Isaacs. This taking away is no less than a total removing of sin, a setting it at the utmost distance, and placing it in the “land of forgetfulness,” Jeremiah 31:34. And further, to assure us of its utter abolition, this taking away is termed destruction, the crucifying of the old man; slaying the enmity, and destroying the body of sin, Ephesians 2:16. Romans 6:6, this was the work of the devil, which the Son of God came to destroy; and destroy it he has, by “nailing it to his cross,” Colossians 2:14. The blood of the Lamb has so overcome, that there needs no more sacrifice for sin; nor any thing exterior to itself, to make its redemption eternal. And to have sin thus taken away, cannot be said of the world universally: the reason is plain, because sin being gone, nothing remains to charge the world with. But nothing is more evident, than that the generality of men lie plunged in sin, and are bond slaves of corruption to the last: it must therefore be another world, or tribe, to whom this great blessing must be assigned, and of whom verified: and since there is but one more (who are called God’s elect,) I conclude that they are the men, and the world intended in the text: for we know that they “are of God; and that the whole world besides lies in wickedness,” 1 John 5:19.
Objection: But if some only are redeemed, and those but few in comparison, then all ground of believing is taken away from the most of men.
Answer: 1. That Christ did not die for all, hinders none from believing, any more than that many of those he died for are not saved: or that because only one can win the prize, hinders others from running. Nay, to teach (as they do) that Christ died for all, and that yet the generality of men shall die in their sins, and perish for ever, is a greater impediment to believing, than that he died only for some; and that every one of that some shall certainly be saved. 2. If we judge of trees by their fruit, we shall find, that the generality of men (such as reckon the matters of religion worth speaking of hold stiff for the general point; which shews, that that notion has no great influence towards the working of faith: if it had, the number of converts would not be so thin. It is also found, that the generality of carnal men, and such as hate to be reformed, are the greatest despisers of peculiar redemption, as well as of election. 3. To make faith an evidence of a man’s interest in redemption, puts by the claim of unbelievers, as much as if it were a condition. 4. He that will know his own particular redemption before he will believe, begins at the wrong end of his work, and is very unlikely to come that way to the knowledge of it. The first act of faith is not, that Christ died for all, or for you in particular: the one is not true; the other not certain to you, nor can, until after you have believed. He that would live, must submit to mercy, with “peradventure he will save me alive.” 5. Any man that owns himself a sinner, has as fair a ground for his faith, as any in the world that has not yet believed; yea, as any believer had before he believed: nor may any person, on any account, exclude himself from redemption; unless, by his obstinate and resolved continuance in unbelief, he has marked out himself.
There are reasons enough, and of greatest weight, to induce men to believe, without laying general redemption for the ground of their faith: as, (1.) That “faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners,” 2 Timothy 1:15, and such are you. (2.) That he gave his life a ransom for many, Matthew 20:28, and you may be of that number, as well as any other. (3.) That those he died for, shall be justified on their believing, Romans 5:9, and shall have faith also, on their seeking for it, as a part of his purchase, and given on his behalf, Philippians 1:29. (4.) That to believe on his Son, is the will and commandment of the everlasting God, Romans 16:26. 1 John 3:23, whom we ought to obey though so it were that salvation were not concerned in it. (5.) Those many faithful promises, assuring salvation to them that believe, John 3:16, 36, and chapter 6:47. Lastly. The remediless danger of unbelief, Mark 16:16; John 8:24. And if such considerations as these will not prevail with you to believe; the notions of general redemption, together with the general failure of success of it, will never do it.
Objection: The extending of redemption to the whole race of mankind, tends to magnify the grace of Christ; but confining it to a remnant, is a lessening of it.
Answer: It no more disparages the grace of Christ, to die peculiarly for that remnant, than his choosing a single nation, and fewest in number of the universe, and giving them laws that tended to life; while he suffered all besides to run wild in the broad way, which inevitably leads to destruction. And as for redemption made general, with conditions annexed; it is so far from magnifying the grace of Christ, that it plainly contradicts it; for if he knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, nor would ever believe; it would rather have argued a degree of grace and favor, not to die for them, than that their sin and condemnation should be thereby so greatly aggravated; as it had been better for some, they had never known the way of righteousness, than to depart from it, 2 Peter 2:21.
Objection: This leaves the most of men without remedy.
Answer: The fallen angels were higher than we, yet have no cause to complain, that no Mediator was appointed for them, and if they be left remediless, the fault is their own. For, if freedom of will, as now it is, empowers men to make a remedy, (viz. by acceptance and application,) much more, as it was, it might have kept them, if they would, from needing a remedy. You will say, perhaps, as some do, why were men left to this freedom of will, if foreseen thus to use it? Nay, rather, why do men, after so joyful an experiment, choose to be so left? They have their option, let them look to it.
And so I leave their objections; for I heartily wish, both for the truth’s sake, and for peace, to see these contests buried, rather than agitated, lest they eat out the life of religion. (They breathe in a breathless air, who make them their element.) And I verily think, that if the controverted texts were duly weighed,—that is, if spiritual things were compared with spiritual, and fleshly consultations laid aside,—the present differences would be quickly composed, being mostly fomented by a loose and luxuriant way of philosophizing in divinity; and by holding to words of an indefinite signification, more than to the scope and context.
Infer. 1. On what has been said of the work and ends of redemption, I would turn, a while, to those of the general point; I mean not such as are men professing godliness, (too many of whom are yet leavened with it,) but those very sordid and disingenuous spirits, who pretend to general ransom, (covering themselves with the shadow of it,) and yet study nothing less than to answer its end: who dream of redemption from hell; but for redemption from sin, it comes not into their mind; they contend, that Christ died for all; and yet carry it as if he died for none: at least, not for them: for they have no mark or tincture of such a redemption on them; but remain evidently bondslaves of corruption. Can you think that the Son of God died for you, while you despise living to him, hate them that love him, oppose whatever is dear to him, and persecute to the death (if your line would reach it) those that have any special mark of redemption on them? Did he make his soul an offering for sin, to procure men a liberty of sinning? or, was Christ crucified, that the body of sin might remain unmortified; yea, get ground, and be the more rampant on it? Is this your kindness to your friend, to be so in love with his enemies (the spear and the nails that pierced him,) that you will spend and be spent for the service of your lusts? He died, that those he died for might live: live to whom? Not to themselves, but to him that died for them: and did you really believe that he died for you, you could not but so judge; his love would constrain you. Redeemed ones are the Lord’s freemen; and you are free to nothing but the devil and sin. Is this the badge of your freedom? the cognizance by which the subjects of Christ are known from rebels? No; it is the rebel’s brand, and you will find it at last. This is what will aggravate your condemnation, and make it a condemnation to purpose, thus to deny the Lord that bought you: you are haters of God, and he will make you to feel it: wrath will come on you to the uttermost. If God spared not his own Son, who had no sin (but by imputation) how shall he spare you, that are nothing else but sin? “He that despised Moses law, died without mercy: of how much sorer punishment shall he be thought worthy, who has trodden under foot the Son of God; and counted that blood (which you pretend to believe was shed for your redemption) an unholy thing?” Hebrews 10:28, 29. The wrath of the Lamb is dreadful; he will tear you in pieces, and none shall deliver you. Bethink yourself, therefore, in time; consider how you shall bear that weight of wrath which the Son of God sunk under! There is yet hope concerning this thing: and if ye have any mind to escape, delay it not: “If ye will inquire, inquire to purpose; return, and come.” Isaiah 21:12.
Infer. 2. The doctrine of peculiar redemption may not be taken to discourage or weaken the hopes of any in their coming to Chris! for salvation; any more than that “many shall seek, and shall not be able to enter,” should keep men from striving: but, on the contrary, which also was Christ’s intent in telling us so, it should quicken our diligence and speed in going to him, lest the door should be shut; which is certainly open while he calls. Suppose the worst: suppose, I say, that your interest in redemption were only as it is, general, that is, for temporal mercies, even that deserves all you can do, and more. What criminal is it, that lying at his prince’s mercy, would not think himself obliged to spend the time of his reprievement in his prince’s service; especially considering, that even that service shall have its reward? But why will you shut out yourself? no man is namely exempted; and for any to exclude himself, is to sin against his own soul; and to be a second time guilty of destroying himself. Put it on the trial: you can lose nothing by venturing: but all without. Who can tell, but your name may be written on the High Priest’s breastplate; as well as Reuben’s or Judah’s? besides, you have no way to prove it, but by going to see; which never any, in good earnest did, but they found it so.
Infer. 3. From what has been said of redemption, as peculiar to the elect, with the plausible shows brought against it; I infer, the important necessity of “trying the spirits and the doctrines they bring, whether they be of God.” A plausible outside, and fair show in the flesh, are no arguments of truth in the bottom: agreeableness with nature, should render things suspicious to us, rather than approved. Our best rule of judgment in this ease, is that of our Savior, “The tree is known by its fruits.” And if by this we measure the general point, it will be found wanting in what it pretends to, and not a little reprovable: for, 1. Instead of magnifying the grace of Christ, and merit of his sufferings, it does, in effect, nullify both: it makes redemption general, as to persons, but not as to things; it redeems the whole of mankind from part of their bondage, but no part of them from the whole; or on such a condition as no man in nature is able to perform: which is too defective to be the device of sovereign wisdom and grace. That cannot be called a catholicon, or general remedy, that suffers itself to be generally worsted by the disease: nor that a perfect redemption, which leaves still under bondage. I doubt not at all, that the blood of the Son of God in our nature is of infinite merit; but withal, that it is of like infinite virtue and efficacy, and will forever operate accordingly. But, if the success and saving effects thereof should depend on something to be done by men, which redemption itself doth not invest them with; then will men come in for a share with Christ, in the glory of their salvation: yea, in this case, any addition of human ability annihilates the grace of Christ, Galatians 5:2, whereas, to depend on Christ for sanctification, as well as righteousness; to expect from him a power to repent and believe, as well as acceptance on your believing, gives him his true honor, as entitling him to the whole of your salvation; which is indeed his proper due, find due to him alone. And this may be a main reason, why men professing the name of Christ, are so generally strangers to faith and holiness: they do not seek it at the hands of Christ, John 5:10, as a part of his purchase; but rely on their own ability, 2. Instead of laying a foundation for faith, and a help to believing: the general doctrine muzzles the soul in its unbelief, on a presumption of power in himself to believe, when he will. We little think how much presumption and carnal security derive from this root; whereas peculiar redemption, in the vigor and latitude of it, namely, as procuring for us a right to faith and holiness, with the Spirit of Christ to work them effectually in us, is far greater encouragement to apply ourselves to Christ for them as apart of his purchase, Philippians 1:29, and that without which we cannot partake of the other benefits of his death. And I cannot but think, that any man in his right mind, Luke 8:35. on due inquiry, and a thorough consideration of the matter, would rather depend on such a redemption as redeems from all iniquity, though the persons concerned in that redemption be but few, than on that which is supposed to redeem all universally, on condition of faith and repentance, but does not redeem from impenitency and unbelief. In that redemption let my part be, that saves from sin, that slays the enmity, that reconciles to God effectually, that makes an end of sin, and brings in everlasting righteousness; that does not only bring into a salvable state conditionally, but works also and maintains those conditions and qualifications that have salvation at the end of them.
Infer. 4. If Christ gave himself a ransom for the elect, then is redemption also of grace, and free as election itself; which bespeaks both our thankful remembrance, and all self-denial. There is a great aptness to forget our original; to pay tribute where it is not due, and to withhold it where it is. It was needful counsel of old, and no less at this day, “Ye that follow after righteousness, look to the rock whence ye were hewn,” Isaiah 51:1. Your Redeemer first brought you out of nothing; and when you had sold yourselves for nought, he himself became your ransom, though he needed you not; see therefore that ye ascribe all to his love. It was not any excellence of yours that gave you preference in redemption, nor was it your ingenuous compliance that made redemption effectual to you, (these are slight pretences.) Had not your Redeemer bought you from yourself, released you from your imaginary freedom, and saved you from unbelief, you had never known what this redemption had meant, nor what it is to be free indeed. No, it was purely your Redeemer’s love: he valued you as being his Father’s gift; and as given to be one with himself; “He therefore loved you, and gave himself for you.” When you were in your blood, and no eye pitied you, no, not your own; then was the time of his love; even then he accepted the motion made by his Father and yours, and signed the contract. He knew both your weight and your worth; your natural unfitness for him, and aversion to the match: he also knew what it must cost him to make you both meet and willing; and that it was so stupendous a work, that all the hosts of heaven would have broken under. He further knew, that after all he should do and suffer for you, you could not advantage him in the least; only he should have the satisfaction to have made you happy against your unrenewed will; and yet he declined it not: he came “leaping on the mountains, and skipping over the hills” of death and difficulties, as longing for, and delighting to be in that work: he was straitened until it was accomplished; such was the intenseness of his love to you! And a great deal ado he had with your wills, before you were made willing. And for all this he only expects you will carry it worthy of so great a lover, and such manner of love: which is, in effect, but to accept of, and to continue in his love, and be willing he should save you freely; and own this love of his, as the immediate fountain whence your happiness is derived.
Infer. 5. Since your propriety in redemption is founded in electing love, “give all diligence to make your election sure”: spare not for pains; its fruit will be worth all the labor and cost you can lay out on it; if clear in this point, the whole body will be full of light. And among other evidences of election, review the marks specified before under that head. Make out also your interest in redemption, by walking worthy of redeeming love; which cannot be, but by doing and being something more than others; some singular thing must warrant your claim to that singular privilege: hold forth, therefore, in your life, the effects of your union with Christ in his death: let the scope of redemption be the scope of your conversation. You have no such way, if I may so speak, to gratify your Redeemer, as by letting him see the travail of his soul: a thorough newness of life, with a total devoting yourself to God, will illustrate redemption not a little, and proclaim convincingly both its merit and efficacy. It will also be a good office done to yourselves, as an evidence of your special concern in redemption; and much more vindicate your Christianity, than formal professions, or eager contests. And in order to this, 1. Determine to “know nothing but Jesus Christ, and him crucified;” count all things else not worth your knowing; for, in truth, all knowledge else will come to nothing. Let all, therefore, be “loss and dung, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord,” Philippians 3:8. And study the doctrine of his cross; that ye may not stand by and hear him defamed, and not have a word to say for him: so also observe him, that when the world and he part, you may know your own Master, and be known by him: 2. Let nothing be so dear to you, as not to part with it for your Redeemer when called for; and rise early to do it: take up your cross, and inure yourself to the bearing of it, before it be laid on: the Lord parted with his delight for you from eternity; there is nothing more reasonable, nothing more natural to a heart rightly postured, than to love and live to him who died for you: and whoever has known the grace of God, and the love of Christ in truth, cannot but so judge. 3. Deal with sin according to its kind; the dreadful nature whereof nothing discovers, nor can, but hell itself, and the sufferings of Christ, and mostly these: let it die no other death but that of the cross, and the more it cries out to be spared, do you cry out the more urgently that it may be crucified. 4. Let not Christ be divided: his offices are requisitely conjoined, and cannot be separated with our security; nay, not without our certain ruin. Know him, therefore, for your Prophet and Lord, as well as your Redeemer; and for your wisdom and sanctification, as well as your righteousness; one and all. Take orders from him as your Captain-general; receive your law from his mouth; whatever he bids you do, do it: follow him wherever he goes, and carry it as becomes his attendants: the armies in heaven follow him on white horses, and arrayed in white: be not your own director in any thing, nor overhasty; stir not up your beloved until he please, but await his counsel and conduct, as preferring his knowledge of times and seasons, with the manner and method of his working and prescribing, before your own. 5. Let nothing divide you from Christ: Let nothing but death, yea, let not death itself separate between you and him. Nothing, you see, could separate him from you, nay, had it not been for you, and such as you are, he had not died: “We are not our own, we are bought with a price,” 1 Corinthians 6:20. which is the highest engagement in every state and duty, whether living or dying, to be the Lord’s, Romans 14:8.
Infer. 6. Christ’s giving himself a ransom for you, warrants your largest expectation of good things from him: what sins too great to be pardoned? or iniquities so stubborn as not to be subdued? Hebrews 9:14. or graces so precious as not to be obtained? The Lord delights in nothing more than mercy; the only bar was sin; which being dissolved by the blood of Christ, grace and glory run freely. The making us kings and priests to God, yea, “one in the Father and himself,” John 17:21. being the thing he died for, no inferior good thing can be withholden from us. Faith and holiness are great things indeed, and highly to be valued: yet, let me say, that even these, and all other good things laid together, will be but a very little heap, to that grace which put us into Christ; the honor and privilege of union with him; and the price he has paid for our ransom: “Herein is love, “That God sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins!” 1 John 4:10. The purchase is paid, releases are sealed, and he in possession; all things are ready: it is now but his giving forth the revenue that lies by him, which also he delights to do.
Other notes of use this doctrine affords, which I can but touch, as Jonathan the honey: 1. It shews the high esteem that God has for his chosen; whom “he went himself to redeem, and purchased with his own blood,” 2 Samuel 7:23. Acts 20:28. 2. That by this standard those favorites of heaven should value themselves; not weighing the world’s contempt, nor clouding those marks of worth redemption has put on them. 3. It shews the contagious nature of sin; the deadly venom whereof nothing but the precious blood of the holy one could possibly subdue, nor withstand the torrent of that fiery lake; as also its dreadfulness, in that the Son of God died in the conflict. 4. It argues the greatness and preciousness of the soul; the redemption whereof had ceased for ever, if Christ, the Son of God had not made his own soul an offering for it. 5. That the world is not a little beholden to God’s people for all the good things they possess; for they have them on their account, and should therefore suffer for them. 6. That God will not lightly pass by the wrongs done to his people: redemption has made them kings, Revelation 5:10. against whom even hard speeches are criminal: how severely then will he make inquisition for blood! Psalm 9:12. 7. It argues the absoluteness of election, for that an infinite price was irrevocably decreed and paid to confirm its title. 8. It also evinceth the absolute freeness and independency of electing love, since creatures could not possibly deserve or be worthy of so great a ransom. 9. It infers the exceeding weightiness of that glory, which required so vast a price, and could not be had for less. Lastly, It further yields a chief cornerstone for the saints’ perseverance: for, 1. They are not now at their own disposal; redemption has transferred their title to another, who loves them better than to leave them exposed to a second lapse, from which there is no recovering. 2. Redemption being a valuable consideration, and so accepted, even the righteousness of God is engaged to save them; and must therefore prevent, remove, or overrule whatever would hinder that salvation. On all which accounts (and others) redemption should be much the subject of our discourse and contemplation: it was the firstborn promise after the fall; by the repetitions whereof, and further explanations, the Lord has perfumed the breath of all his holy prophets which have been since the world began. Our Lord and Savior himself was frequently speaking of it; which shews that his mind was much on it, and that the same mind should be in us. It is a theme that glorified saints take pleasure to dilate on; witness Moses and Elias on the holy mount, Luke 9:31, and John, wrapped into heaven on the Lord’s day, found them at this service before the throne of God, Revelation 1:10, chapter 5:9. 12,13, where I cannot but make, by the way, three observations, 1. That the saints in heaven were celebrating the work of creation, and that of redemption, both in one day; and it was the Lord’s day: a good argument for our Lord’s day sabbath! 2. That they ascribe the same glory and honor to the Lamb that was slain, as to him that sits on the throne; an evident proof of Christ’s divinity! And, 3. That the ground of their triumph and exultation was not the general point (no speech of that in heaven,) but peculiar redemption: a good confirmation of the present truth. And further, our Lord and Savior still bears about him the marks of his crucifixion; he appears “as a Lamb that had been slain,” Revelation 5:6, and he glories in it. “I am he that was dead,” Revelation 2:8, and 1:18, and with these marks he will appear when he cometh to judge the world, Zechariah 12:10. Till when, the Lord’s day, and its most solemn ordinance, are for an unchangeable remembrance of him, 1 Corinthians 12:26. Whatever therefore befalls us, should remind us of this glorious transaction: if it be evil, that redemption has saved from the evil of it; if good, redemption has purchased it for us; whether good or bad in itself, redemption will sanctify it to us. But when ye think of heaven, and the heaven of heavens, as your portion, with all that heavenly viaticum (angels food, and better) that attends you at every stage, “until ye appear before God in Zion,” Psalm 84:7, especially when ye are admiring, for what it is ye cannot think, I say, when ye are admiring that transcendent glory which shall arise from that ineffable oneness, to be then completed between the Father and Christ, and his saints, say with that heaven born psalmist, “What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits?” And answer yourself with him; “I will take (not this or that single benefit, but,) the cup of salvation (glorious redemption, which that cup signifieth,) and call on the name of the Lord.” All the divine attributes center in redemption, as light and heat in the sun, and are thence savingly reflected on men redeemed: and this the most compendious way of beholding the glory of God, and of celebrating our dear bought happiness. Something, perhaps, like this may that “fruit of the vine” be, though unspeakably beyond it, which Christ and his disciples “shall drink new in his Father’s kingdom,” Matthew 26:29. “when he that sowed, and we that reap, shall rejoice together,” John 4:36. Therefore, “to him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, be glory and dominion forever, Amen.” Revelation 1:5, 6. 11. That the purpose or intent of Christ’s death cannot be frustrated; that is, those for whom Christ died shall certainly obtain all the benefits accruing by his death.
All the counsels of God from eternity; all his promises and declarations holding forth those counsels; and all his dispensations in order to their accomplishment; have a special relation to Christ as dying for his people, and their actual salvation thereby, as the end thereof. Now the end of a thing, is that for which the thing itself is; and but for which, it had not been; it is that the chief agent principally purposeth, and aims at; and if he be wise, he will certainly use and appoint such means, and order them in such manner, that the thing designed shall not miscarry. Men indeed may miss of their end; they aim at this, and that is produced, as in building the tower of Babel: but this is still from some imperfection in themselves; either the thing itself is not feasible, or the way to it imprudently contrived, or the means unduly applied; their minds alter, or they are made to desist by a power above them, etc. But with the only wise and almighty God it is not so, none of those things which impede the designs of men can happen to his; there can be no other event of them but what he intended; the least of his purposes shall not suffer disappointment, much less that great design of men’s salvation by the death of his Son. That the thing itself is feasible, is attested by that innumerable company already in heaven on his account. It was so wisely contrived, that all interests concerned are secured and satisfied: God is just in justifying; the sinner saved, while vengeance is taken on his sin; and Christ well pleased with a seed to serve him. The way of obtainment is such as will certainly compass the end; the divine power is engaged in it; which rests not in the least on the concourse or compliance of any mutable agent, or frustrable instrument. His heart cannot be taken off from it; it is that his blessed thoughts have run on from eternity; and those thoughts of his stand fast to all generations. And lastly, no higher power can supersede his decree; he is sovereign Lord, and controlleth all.
To confirm the point, take the following arguments.
Arg, 1. Is from redemption itself; where, 1. The greatness of the price; 2. The kind or manner of payment; and, 3. The scriptural import of the word, are not a little considerable.
- For the price: it was the life of the Son of God; whose personal dignity was such as put a transcendency of merit on his death, which therefore could not be parted with for a doubtful or uncertain purchase; nor could any obtainment, inferior to salvation, compensate the price. In this lies the stress of the apostle’s argument; who, to set forth the happy state of God’s elect, and to prove them out of danger, brings in the price of their redemption; “Who shall condemn? It is Christ that died,” Romans 8:33. The eminency of the person, and the sufferings he submitted to, as they greatly illustrate his love to men; so they strongly affirm and ensure the event of his death: “For, if reconciled to God, by the death of his Son, much more shall we be saved by his life,” chapter 5:10.
- The kind or manner of payment; it was by suffering. Had the ransom been of the nature of depositable things (namely, to secure satisfaction, in case the treaty took effect, and to be resumed, in case it succeeded not,) it had much altered the matter; there had no great damage accrued to the depositor; he might have received his own again, though not with advantage: but sufferings once undergone cannot be recalled: they are as water spilt on the ground; they cannot be gathered up again, unless in their fruits, namely, in the accomplishment of the end they were designed for; which, duly weighed, will not allow redemption to be conditional, nor its intended effects to depend on things contingent. Besides, that which is infinite, will not admit of addition; nor can that which has all worth entirely within it, find any thing of worth without itself to depend on. But this, methinks, should not need arguing, since it is so apparent.
- From the scriptural usage and import of the word: which shews, that redemption has made eternal life our due; and that all supposable conditions, all manner of graces, means, and helps, which must come between our natural state and glory, with glory itself, were all intentionally in the design of it, purchased by it, and contained in it; as the stalk which the flower must grow on, is virtually in the same seed with the flower itself. Redemption doth not only allow men their book, and save them in case they can read (that is a heartless notion,) but enables them to read, and that in point of will, as well as knowledge. Faith is to salvation, as livery and seizin are to possession; they are no part of the price nor condition of your right, but a legal and notifying introduction to your actual enjoyment; yea, the purchase money entitles you to them, as well as to the inheritance. As we can ask nothing of God either warrantably or successfully, but as entitled thereto by redemption so, on redemption’s account, ye may ask any thing that has a tendency to its end; ye may claim faith in order to salvation, as well as salvation as the end of your faith.
And now, that redemption doth not barely make men releasable, or capable of being saved, but doth, by its own proper virtue, prosecute its end to perfection, that the actual complete salvation of redeemed ones is bound up in it, and whatever might hinder it taken out of the way, I shall clear by a short induction of particulars. 1. Redemption imports satisfaction. Without this the world had not been reconciled; nor could it be said, “The pleasure of the Lord has prospered in his hand;” but both these are affirmed, Isaiah 53:10. “It pleased the Lord to bruise him.” It does not intend only, that it was the pleasure or will of God that, the thing should be done, but that he was well pleased by the doing of it; that is, he was again pacified towards us, in whose stead he suffered; his justice being thereby atoned. And this very reason ye have annexed in Isaiah 42:21. “The Lord is well pleased for his righteousness” sake; he shall magnify the law, and make it honorable;” that is, by levying satisfaction on Christ: which also accords with and explicates that in Romans 3:31. “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid; yea, we establish the law.” It is further confirmed by 2 Corinthians 5:19. “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself:” this must be reciprocally understood, for else the breach had continued: but, surely, the Lord would not be at such cost to have his work but half done; for what is reconciliation, but the renewal of friendship on both sides! and that this is Christ’s own sense on the word, is evident by Matthew 5. 23, 24. “If thy brother has aught against thee, go and be reconciled to thy brother.” It must, therefore, take in God’s reconcilement to us, as well as ours to him; which could not be without satisfaction; his justice would not permit it; he will by no means clear the guilty. And, to put it beyond dispute, our grand creditor proclaims him. self satisfied, by his sending from heaven to release our surety, Matthew 28:2. It was to say, in effect, that he had no farther demands on us. 2. Redemption also imports justification, or freedom from guilt, Ephesians 1:7, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins,” Romans 3:24. “Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ,” Romans 5:9, Galatians 3:13. “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: he blotted out the handwriting that was against us, nailing it to his cross;” Colossians 2:14. 3. It imports the eviction, vanquishing, or binding of the strong man, who would not else have let go the prey, nor have left his possession; “By death he destroyed him who had the power of death; that is, the devil,” Hebrews 2:14. “By the blood of his cross, he spoiled principalities and powers, and triumphed over them,” Colossians 2:15. 4. It imports freedom from the power of sin, Romans 6:6. “Our old man was crucified with Christ, that the body of sin might be destroyed; that henceforth we should not serve sin: “on which it follows, “He that is dead, namely, with Christ, is freed from sin,” verse 7. And “sin shall not have dominion over you,” verse 14. 5. It imports inherent holiness, or sanctification, Colossians 1:21. “You, who were sometimes enemies in your minds, now has he reconciled, in the body of his flesh, through death, to present you holy,” verse 22. Hebrews 10:10, We are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ,” Romans 6:18. “Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.” And that it was by virtue of Christ’s death, appears by verse 8. “For if we be dead with Christ, we shall also live with him.” It is his blood which “purges the conscience from dead works, to serve the living God,” Hebrews 9:14. 6. It likewise imports resurrection, John 6:54, 55. “I will raise him up at the last day; for my flesh is meat indeed,” (that is, as crucified.) Christ dying, was the death of death, Hosea 13:14. “In Christ shall all be made alive,” 2 Corinthians 15:22. 7. It further extends to the actual possession of redeemed ones with blessedness and glory, Romans 8:30 “Whom he justified, them he glorified.” Liberty of entering into the holiest, is by the blood of Jesus, Hebrews 10:19. “Thou hast redeemed us to God by thy blood,” Rev: 5:9, 10. It is the voice of those in heaven. Now, that all these are in redemption, is evident; and as evident it is, that redemption, thus qualified, is not, cannot be, liable to frustration, for it brings us to heaven; and then we are sure beyond the reach of danger. And for this it was that Paul cared not (he need not care) “to know any thing, in comparison, but Jesus Christ, and him crucified,” 1 Corinthians 2:2. It is true, the resurrection of Christ, his ascension, sitting at God’s right hand, and intercession, have their respective influence into all these glorious privileges and parts of eternal glory; but they all spring from his crucifixion; if he had not died, he had not been a priest for ever, as he is.
Argument 2. The end of redemption cannot be frustrate, because the righteousness of Christ is, at least, as prevalent and effectual to his seed, as Adam’s transgression was to his. All his posterity, indeed, were involved in the curse; yet, so that there still remained, through the intervention of grace, a possibility of release; but the righteousness of Christ has so perfectly recovered and established his seed, that their justified state can never be lost: and the reason is, because grace has outdone sin, and gone beyond it; “grace has abounded much more,” Romans 5:20. Which superabounding of grace cannot refer to the subjects of grace, as if they were more in number than the subjects of sin; for sin came on all, and grace cannot come on more than all: but. it is meant of the prevalent efficacy of grace, and the permanency of its effects towards all that are the subjects of it: and thence it is, that grace is said to reign through righteousness, and that to eternal life, Romans 5:21.
Argument 3. If the end of Christ’s death might possibly be frustrate, as possibly might the main end of God’s making the world suffer disappointment. All things were made for himself; and by this scale they ascend to him; the world for the elect, and the elect for Christ; and Christ for God. All his works praise him; but above all that of redemption, as of highest note and eminency. Most conspicuously doth the glory of God shine forth in the face of Christ as dying, and as dying for such an end, namely, the salvation of his people. It is the chief of the ways of God, the very meridian and height of his glory, (not essential, but manifestive,) both in this world, and that to come. Redemption was designed to glorify all the divine attributes; it therefore behooved so to be laid, that of all his designs, this might be sure to succeed: for do but subtract the certainty of its effect, and leave his redeemed in a perishable condition, and it draws a blemish, instead of beauty, on all the divine attributes. For, 1. The end of God’s setting forth Christ as a propitiation, was to declare his righteousness in the “remission of sins,” Romans 3:25. which it does doubly, 1. That without satisfaction, sin would not be justly remitted. 2. That satisfaction being given, it could not justly be imputed, chapter 8:34. But if those for whom satisfaction has been given, should not be justified and saved, divine justice would be as liable to impeachment, as if they had been saved without: and so the thing designed for the honor of his righteousness, would turn to its disparagement. 2. It would not accord with the love and goodness of God towards his elect, that that which was meant for their recovery, and was also a price well worthy their ransom, should possibly turn to their deeper condemnation; for so it must if they be not effectually saved, John 3:19. This could not be that pleasure of the Lord, which should prosper in the hands of Christ. 3. It would not be according to the faithfulness and truth of God, that Christ should fail of that he was promised, and earnestly looked for, as the fruit of his suffering; which was a “seed to serve him,” Isaiah 53:10. The thoughts of which were matter of complacency to him from everlasting, Proverbs 8:11. But if those he died for, should not only abide in the same condemnation he came to deliver them from, but under a much sorer vengeance than if he had not undertaken for them: how grievous would it be to him, and contradictory to the faithfulness of God: 4. Another end of redemption was, that the manifold wisdom of God might shine forth in the sight of angels and men. “Christ crucified is the wisdom of God,” 1 Corinthians 1:24. But if it were so contrived, that the thing chiefly designed might possibly miscarry, it would be no illustration of wisdom. Will one of common prudence part with his jewels and choicest treasure, and leave his purchase knowingly under hazard? Men, indeed, may possibly waste their estates in trials and essays that come to nothing; but did they foresee the event they would not so expose their prudence to reproach, chapter 5. The greatness and power of God would suffer an eclipse if it were in the power of creatures to defeat his most wise and holy designs; and hinder the accomplishment of his greatest work. What would the Egyptians say, but that he destroyed them, because not able to go through with that he undertook? Lastly. If the end of Christ’s death might possibly be frustrated, then that blessed project for glorifying the grace of God might possibly be disannulled and come to nothing; for none but saved ones do, or can, glorify that grace.
Argument 4. Another argument for the sure effects of Christ’s death, is that he has the management of the whole work committed to himself; as well the application of redemption, as the procurement of it. He is the repository, root, and treasury, where all the benefits of redemption are laid up; and the great Almoner by whose hand they are dispensed. Adam was no more a public person after his fall: the new stock was not entrusted with him, but put into the hands of Christ, who will give a better account of it.
Argument 5. There is nothing wanting to our Lord and Redeemer, which might any way conduce to the final completion of his work. There are five things mainly requisite to make a great undertaking successful, namely, authority, strength, understanding, courage, and faithfulness: all which the Captain of our salvation is eminently invested with: The Father loveth the Son, and has given all things into his hands,” John 3:35.
- Authority: he was appointed to his office, for, as Mediator, the Father is greater than he: “He came not of himself, but the Father sent him,” John 9:42. He was “called of God,” Hebrews 5:4, 5. It was laid on him and undertaken by him, in the way of covenant, Isaiah 42:6, and confirmed by an oath, Hebrews 7:21, never to be reversed; which also may partly be the meaning of God the Father sealing him, John 6:27. “The government is laid on his shoulder,” Isaiah 9:6. He has the key of David committed to him, Revelation 3:7, which shows the absoluteness of his authority: without him, no man can lift up his hand, or his foot, in all the earth.
- Strength, or power: these cannot be wanting to him, if all in heaven and earth be sufficient for it: for this he has, Matthew 28:18, and he has it to this end, that he might give eternal life to as many as he undertook for, John 17:2, which if they should miss of, it would be said that all his power was not able to save them. He that made the world, is surely well able to govern it, and to overrule “whatever comes into it: he would never have suffered sin, the only enemy, to invade it, if he could not have quelled it at pleasure; their “Redeemer is strong: the Lord of hosts is his name; he shall thoroughly plead their cause,” Jeremiah 50:14. He must “reign until he shall have put all enemies both under his own feet and ours,” 1 Corinthians 15:25.
- Understanding, or knowledge: this cannot be wanting to him, who is the wisdom of the Father: the Lord has given him the “tongue of the learned, that he might speak words in season to him that is weary,” Isaiah 50:4. He knows his work; what it is; how to effect it; and who they be that are concerned in it. 1. He knows what his work is; it was, in short, “to seek and to save that which was lost: “not to bring them into a salvable condition, as some speak, but to save them, and that from their sins Matthew 1:21. He came to open the blind eyes; and to bore the deaf ears; to restore the withered limbs; to cleanse the lepers; to heal the sick; to raise the dead; to cast out devils; to preach the gospel; and to cause those it belongs to, to hear and receive it: he knows they are dead, and he knows as well that he is to quicken them; and thence we have it in John 5:25. the “dead shall hear and live;” and chapter 10:16. “Other sheep I have; them also must I bring, and they shall hear my voice.” He is also to keep them, and to look to them, so as not one be lost, John 17:12. 2.2. chapter 6:39, and, finally, to raise them up at the last day: and so take them to heaven with him: all which he is perfectly acquainted with; his work is before him, Isaiah 40:10. 2. As he knows his work, what it is, so the best season and method for its performance. He came in the fullness of time; when things were ripe for his coming: He came then when there was most need of him; the devil’s kingdom at the highest; his oracles in greatest credit; the world overwhelmed by the Roman power; and the true religion almost totally depraved among the Jews. It argues a dexterous undertaking, to take an enemy in his rough, at his highest pitch of strength and confidence, and throw him on his back; to succor a distressed friend or ally, when brought under foot, and set him on his high places. This the scripture calls, “a strengthening of the spoiled against the strong,” Amos 5:9, and thus doth our Lord Jesus Christ, who is partly, therefore, said to be of quick understanding, Isaiah 11:3. In all his undertakings he deals prudently, chapter 52:13. And to this it is that Hannah ascribed success: “The Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed,” 1 Samuel 2:3. He knows who they are for whom he is to do it. The fruits of his death are not to be given in common; they fall not indifferently on men, as rain on all sorts of ground: he knows whom he came to redeem; not their number only, but their persons; they were all written in his book: and so well is he versed in it, that “he calleth them all by their names,” John 10:3. he does not omit any, nor call one for another: he knows whom the Father has chosen and given to him, chapter 17:2. 6. he can neither forget them, nor mistake them; they are written in his breast, and on the palms of his hands, Isaiah 49:16.
- To a great undertaking is required courage or greatness of spirit, to confront opposition, and cut through difficulties: and if this be wanting, all other endowments will signify little as to success. And how was our Lord and Redeemer qualified as to this! When he was entering into his passion, against which he prayed, “If it were possible that this cup might pass from him;” he then needed courage in the abstract, and we find that he had it answerably. In the 50th of Isaiah, the prophet brings him in as putting on his armor of proof; “therefore have I set my face as a flint, and I know that I shall not be confounded,” Isaiah 50:7. In the greatness of this his strength did he travel through all those contradictions of sinners, temptations, reproaches, blasphemies, etc. And when his hour was come, he did not recoil, nor hide himself from them; no, nor stay till they came where he was, but goes to meet them, John 18:4. And though he might have had more than twelve legions of angels for asking, he waives their assistance, and his own single person undertakes both this world and the powers of darkness, yea, and the wrath of his Father too, which was much more grievous, and of far greater terror than all the rest: and in all this he was alone, there was none with him; and that an angel appeared to him from heaven strengthening him, Luke 22:43, it was rather a token and part of his deep humiliation (that the mighty God should seem to want, and so admit the proffered service of his creature), than a lessening of his sufferings. Now all this was for the procurement of redemption; and can he then be wanting to the effectual application of it? He cannot shrink at the sight of straggling parties, that has won the pitched battle, and remains absolute master of the field; for this also, we have a sure word of prophecy, “He shall not fail nor be discouraged, until he have set judgment in the earth,” Isaiah 42:4.
- Faithfulness; this also is a grand and necessary qualification for a high undertaking; and for this our Redeemer is also signally eminent. To do the Father’s will, was that he came about from heaven: and this was his will, “That of all he had given him he should lose nothing; but should raise it up at the last day,” John 6:38, 39. that is, that he should give them eternal life, chapter 17:2. And we find him professing, that he had done it accordingly, verse 12, and that he will do it, verse 8. 26. according to his promise so often repeated in the 39th, 40th, 44th, 45th verses of the 6th of John. And he keeps them in faithfulness to his trust, namely, “That the Scripture might be fulfilled,” John 17:12. Judas was let go, to fall by his own transgression; whom doubtless he could and would have kept as he did the rest, had he been, as they were, committed to his charge: for he gives to every one according as he received for them, as is seen by comparing Psalm 68 18, with Ephesians 4:8. In the one place it is said, he received gifts for men; and in the other (which is a quotation of the former) he gave gifts to men: those, therefore, for whom he received eternal life, cannot fail of it, unless he should fail of his trust; which, indeed, he cannot do; for, he is faithful in all his house, Hebrews 3:5,6, and that as a Son; and joint interest, you know, is a natural and prevalent obligation to faithfulness. If any should offer to dispossess him, he would answer as Naboth did Ahab; “God forbid that I should part with the inheritance of my fathers,” 1 Kings 21:3. And this faithfulness further appears, in that he makes it a main part of his business, now in heaven, to have this work perfected; “he ever liveth to make intercession for them,” Hebrews 7:25. There is great weight put on this, in Romans 8:34. “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died; yea, rather, that is risen again—who also maketh intercession for us;” and the sum of his prayer is, that those given to him might, be kept from evil; that they might be one in the Father and himself; and that they may be where he is, to behold his glory,” John 17:24. 21. 15. Now, then, if the salvation of those he died for was the end of his death: and the price that he paid well worthy the purchase: if it be the Father’s will that they should be saved: if also this salvation be the thing for which he prays, and whatsoever he asketh of God, he will give it, John 11:22. It needs must follow, “that the intent of his death cannot be frustrated.”
Yet does not this truth go unopposed; not for any fault of its own, but that it will not give place to another, which unduly affects the preeminence. Denied in terms it is not; none will say directly, that Christ’s intent in dying may be frustrated: but, that intent of his is so, narrowed by some, and clogged with conditions, as would bring it to nothing. The rise whereof, or its use, I understand not; but suppose that necessity drove to it, for want of a better, to shore up the general point. I thought, at first, of no objection here; but, having since found this in the way, I would put it in the sacred balance, and try its weight. The sum alleged is this,
Objection: That the intent of Christ’s death was only to bring men into a saleable state; with such means and helps as will bring them to salvation, if they will use them; and that any are not saved, is from their unbelief.
Answer 1. That unbelief is the condemning sin, needs no proof; but men’s not believing in Christ is not the only, or first procuring cause of their condemnation; but their apostasy and rebellion against God: although the condemnation of those who believe not, is greatly aggravated by rejecting the remedy; as one condemned for treason, refusing his pardon, that refusal is, indeed, the next and immediate cause of his execution, and perhaps shall heighten the rigor of it; but his treasonable practice was the first procuring cause of his death; which also he should have suffered for, if no such pardon had been offered. There will need no accusation from Christ to justify the condemnation of sinners. Moses, whose law they have broken, shall witness against the Jews; and the law of nature against the Gentiles. That faith is the one thing necessary on our part, in order to being saved, is a foundation truth, and most necessary to be known; and as true it is, that faith adds nothing of merit or virtue to the cross of Christ. Where men are said to be justified or saved by faith, it is meant of the object of faith, and not of the act, though not without it. For as bread must be eaten, and taken in, before it can nourish; so must the righteousness of Christ be apprehended by faith, before we can be justified by it. But as the action of eating or chewing is not the matter or substance of our nourishment, but the bread we eat; so neither is our act of believing, but the righteousness of Christ alone, apprehended by faith, the matter of our justification. But,
- Why should redemption depend on a sovereign power to bring about its end? Why should so great a thing be left in the hands of a human arbitrement, to succeed, or be defeated, at the pleasure of a perverse will? That Christ should die, ought rather to have been conditional, and not the salvation of those he should die for; and so, in prudence, should have been deferred until the end of the world, to see if any fruit would come of it; and if not, then not to die at all; for why should he die in vain? But that Christ should die, and that at the very time when he did, was foredetermined of God, and confirmed with an oath; whereby it was made necessary, and impossible to be reversed. It could not, then, stand with the wisdom or truth of God, that the end of his death should possibly miscarry, or be frustrable: which it must be obnoxious to, if dependant on the human will; a thing so fickle and uncertain, that it knows not this moment what it will do, or pitch on the next; besides a natural antipathy to the thing itself: but evident it is, that the end has the same insurance as the means, namely, decree, promises, and oath. And now, shall so great solemnity, and expectation on it evaporate into contingency? Christ was promised a seed to serve him, and such a sight of the travail of his soul, as should satisfy him: That he “should divide the spoil with the strong,” Isaiah 53:10,11. “That the heathen should be his inheritance, Psalm 2:8. “That kings should see and arise; princes also should worship,” Psalm 49:7, “and his enemies become his footstool,” Psalm 110:1. And this, as a reward of his sufferings; and he sits in heaven, expecting until it be done, Hebrews 10:13. And now, shall lapsed creatures usurp a negative vote to their sovereign’s will? Shall it be at their pleasure, whether he who is heir of all things, shall possess his patrimony? Shall sinful dust so arrogate to itself as to say, My Creator’s will shall be done, so mine may be the standard of it? Shall those statutes of heaven, in favor of the conditional doctrine, run thus? The strong man armed shall be spoiled and cast out, if he will: The heathen, whose god is the devil, shall renounce him, and turn tenants to Christ, if he will consent to it, and they also think it their interest: Kings and princes shall arise and worship him, if their own grandeur will bear it; and enemies become his footstool, in case they be free to submit to it, etc. Who would not tremble to hear such indignities put on Christ? 3. There was no reason why Christ, the Son of God, should die for so small a purchase, as to make men but conditionally salvable: that the greatest thing in the world should be hung on so weak a pin as would not bear the weight of an apple. I call it a small purchase, because they had more than this in Adam: they had then a pure freedom of will, without bias to evil. But now, say you, they are helped by motives and arguments from the danger they are in, and the benefits attainable by changing their course: but what are these as the case stands? What motives will move, while insensible of that danger, and ignorant of the benefits proposed? Such motives also they had before, and more amply than now; inasmuch as the present sense of a happy condition was more attractive and prevalent to keep it, than the mere proposal of a distant and unknown privilege can be to attain it (for of things unknown, men are not desirous;) especially when things that are more suitable to present sense are theirs in possession; and to leave these for those they understood not, is contrary to their reason: they see neither danger nor privilege, and therefore despise both. Or if they have skin-deep convictions at times, the present content they dream to have in their lusts, carries them headlong, as wind and tide.
- If rational motives and argumentations were of that weight and efficacy for the working of faith, as some have pretended; then those of the largest endowments of nature should be the most capable subjects, and most likely to be wrought on. But do any of the Pharisees believe on him? Do not the princes of worldly wisdom account the preaching of the cross foolishness? Do we see men of renown for human sapience, highly pretending to moral sanctity, and the highest flown in their freewill principles, nevertheless to despise the ways of holiness; yea, despoiling Christ himself of his deity, and the Christian religion of its chiefest glory? Nothing more plain to common observance! Surely, then, it could not be reasonable, that this glorious redemption shall lie at the mercy of a perverse will; since that is the thing which has hindered, and will hinder, until it be taken out of the way. Christ was but once delivered to the wills of men, and then they crucified him, Luke 23:24, and ever since they crucify his cross. “Had they known him they would not have crucified the Lord of glory,” 1 Corinthians 2:8. but so it is in the wisdom of God, that “the world by wisdom knew not God,” chapter 1:21. The wisdom of men never was the author of faith, either to themselves or others, chapter 2:5, the preaching of the cross is to the Jewish legalists a stumbling block, chapter 1:23, and foolishness to the rational philosopher, and those at Athens, Acts 17:11.
- Conditionality will not consort with the scope of Christ’s redemption, nor yet with the nature of the bondage it refers to: it is summarily termed, the bondage of corruption: in parcels, it bears the name of blindness, darkness, death, hardness, unbelief, enmity, etc. And that, deliverance from these was the very scope and end of redemption, might be made out particularly: I shall instance only two or three generals: “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil,” 1 John 3:8. “Our old man was crucified with Christ, that the body of sin might be destroyed,” Romans 6:6. “God sent his own Son, in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh,” chapter 8:3. Which text, lest they might seem defective for want of universality, that also is supplied in Tit. 2:14. “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity,” Ephesians 5:25, 26, 27. Christ gave himself for the church, that he might sanctify and cleanse it, “and present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing.” But was it not a thing in design only, and liable to frustration? No, it was determined and fixed; for, “he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities,” Psalm 130:8, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son “cleanseth us from all sin,” 1 John 1:7. it is spoken of in the present tense, as a thing still and always in doing. And this all here must be taken universally; because, if not saved from all, it would be, in the end, as if saved from none: one mite left on the score, binds over to wrath; especially unbelief, John 3:18. Why then should they of all the rest be exempted or disputed? is it, that we think faith so easy a matter, that we need not trouble our master about it? Few believers have found it so: or do we think ourselves better able to deal with our own hearts, or truer to our interest than he? Is it our hearts’ deceitfulness that makes us think so: or shall we impose on Christ something of ours to increase his merits, or to make them effectual? He abhors it; for “if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing,” Galatians 5:2. or do we aspire to sit on his right hand in the glory of redemption; I know not what it is; but am sure, that something not right lies in the bottom, though unseen. For since the honor of redemption lies in saving from sin, he that saves from unbelief, which is the capital, shares deepest in that honor: unbelief is the lock of our chain and bondage; and till that be unshot, there is no getting loose. Christ’s redemption is not like those laws of men, who hold the small, but let the great ones break through: no, redemption aims at the head, and it was so designed from the first, Genesis 3:15. But how are men saved from unbelief? is it their own act, or another’s? if their own, then it is of works: which will not consort with grace, Rom, 4:4, and chapter 11:6. if another’s that other does it either absolutely, or conditionally: if absolutely, the objection ceases: if conditionally, what was the condition of it? It could be nothing in us before we believed; for “whatsoever is not of faith, is sin,” Romans 14:23. It must then be for another cause, and without condition, and that can be only redemption itself, for nothing else can pretend to it; and the pretensions of that are good, for Christ is expressly said to be the author of our faith, Hebrews 12:2, and the evangelist John affirms all grace to be out of his fullness, John 1:16. Paul also shows, that Christ apprehends us, not because we do, but that we might apprehend him, Philippians 3:12. And further, the Holy Ghost, who is the immediate operator of all grace, is shed on us, through Jesus Christ our Savior, Tit. 3:6. That faith which is not from Christ entirely, as its author and root, will never lead the soul to Christ as its object and center. But methinks the doctrine of conditional redemption should be for ever silenced, by that one declaration of our Savior himself, “I am found of them that sought me not,” Isaiah 65:1. Now shall this truth be yielded, namely, that Christ’s redemption made an end of sin? or shall we say that our old man was crucified all but his vital parts? that all the works of the devil are destroyed, except his masterpiece? that Israel is redeemed from all his iniquities, save only the worst and most condemning? Does the scripture speak fallaciously? or does vain man deal deceitfully in his covenant? I would ask (with great seriousness, for the matter requires it,) what good shall redemption do us, if it saves only from some sins, and not from all? or if from all excepting unbelief? this would too much resemble a pardon for petty trespasses (petty in comparison) while the guilt of our treason lies still on us: to purchase salvation on terms of believing, without purchasing faith also, is too like an undertaking to cure a man of his frenzy, on condition he will be sober: what will they do, who content themselves with such a redemption as this?
Lastly. Consider redemption in its type: the people’s sins, under the law, had not been expiated by the sacrifice, without sprinkling the blood; and it was not themselves that sprinkled it, but the priest; and can we then think, that Christ shed his blood for those on whom he will not sprinkle it? that he will not give a little faith to those he died for, when without that, all that he doeth besides will not, profit them? has he wrought so great a deliverance for his servants, and now shall they die for thirst? Judges 10: 18. It is impossible that his love should be so cooled (since his going to heaven,) as to be indifferent touching the travail of his soul: shall he perish for whom Christ died, for want to a good word? especially when that word can be spoken effectually by nobody else: if any say, he would, but they will not; I answer, this will not is their unbelief, and the great thing they are to be saved from; he that is saved from that, is saved every whit; and this Christ is to do by making them willing: a will to believe, is believing; and in the day of his power they find it. And for any to say, that a will to believe is not purchased by Christ, and effectually applied by him, but depends on something to be done by men, is a great derogation from the merit of his sufferings; it is, in effect, to steal a jewel from our sovereign’s crown, and to wreath it on a fool’s cap.
Infer. 1. The impossibility of frustrating the end of Christ’s death, is a manifest proof and argument of peculiar redemption. For if the salvation of those he died for was the end of his dying, and the intent of his death cannot be frustrate, then he had not in his eye and design the salvation of those that are not saved.
Infer. 2. Take heed what you hear, and how. Be warn of those doctrines which tend to enervate the covenant of grace, reducing it to a covenant of works, or somewhat more difficult: a principal one is, that which makes redemption conditional, and dependant on something to be done by men, which Christ is not the doer of: of its evil consequences I shall mention two.
- It bereaves us of that solid ground of comfort (for the joy of the Lord is our strength) which the absoluteness of redemption intends and offers to us, exposing our naked skin to every blast of temptation. Who can promise the standing of that fabric which rests on a doubtful foundation? To build hay and stubble on the rock, has not half that danger in it as gold and silver on the sand. The one shall be saved, though with difficulty; the other loses both his work and himself: for let redemption be ever so firm and solid in itself, if yet its standing and efficacy depend on that which is fleeting and unfixed, the ground of our confidence is gone: it is like those pumps that have water within, but yield you none, unless you first put in some of your own, which yet ye have not: like Jacob’s well, but nothing to draw with. But for men to annex conditions, is to offer a bar to their own pardon; and, instead of amendment, to add a destructive proviso to the bill of free graces that paradox of the preacher seems pertinent here: “Be not righteous over much, neither make thyself over wise: why shouldst thou destroy thyself?” Ecclesiastes 7:16.
- To make redemption dependant on our faith, attributes to created grace and honor what is due only to Christ, which redeemed ones should be very tender of. Was he alone in the obtainment of redemption, and shall we think he needs a coadjutor in its application? Shall we impute to that glorious achievement a need of our help to make it successful? No! whatever graces ye have, you must thank redemption “for them, and not them for your being redeemed. The whole constellation shines by a borrowed light they have none of their own, but what the sun of righteousness communicates to them. Hast thou faith? Have it to thyself, and know it for thy good; take it as an effect and evidence, but not as the cause of your interest in redemption. Each grace is of use in its place, and beautiful; as each star has an orb of its own; and to move out of that, is to break the harmony of the spheres: even gospel graces legalized, lose their excellency. I must say to faith in this case, Friend, sit down lower; this place belongs to your author; you are redemption’s creature; from that you had your birth; and in that you live and move: ye are welcome as a guest, yea, as a chief ruler of the feast, though not as the bridegroom’s compeer. But true faith, and unclouded, is more ingenuous than to incur such a rebuke.
Infer. 2. If all merit and grace be virtually in redemption, and thence dispensed by the hand of our Redeemer himself, this yields both a friendly reproof and direction together: reproof to expectancy anywhere else; and direction to poor thirsting souls, where and how to be satisfied. Undone you are in yourselves, that ye find; and would gladly put this ruin under the hand of Christ, Isaiah 3:6, as one that is able to repair it. Thus far ye are right but something you seek in yourself that may strengthen your hope, and induce his favor to you. Away with such pretences, and flee to your Redeemer as you are; for “from him alone is that fruit to be found,” Hosea 14:8. Be as sensible of your deformity and unworthiness as you can, and walk humbly under the sense of it; but let it not slacken your pace, nor abate your hope. If any thing may render you worthy, that is, a suitable object of mercy, it is your coming boldly to the throne of grace with all your unworthiness about you. It is a disgustful modesty to be shy in accepting from those above us: it looks as if we would not be thought to need their kindness; or else, as if we thought they needed our requital; or, at least, as if we were unwilling to be obliged by them: much more unbecoming it is, to be backward in accepting the offers of grace from so great a person as our Lord and Redeemer. O, the unnaturalness of our natural hearts, even to our own good! We are pitiful objects of charity: all fullness is in Christ, and may be had for going for; and yet, as if he wanted clients, he is fain to make proclamation; “Hoi every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that has no money;” Isaiah 65:1, and, “if any man thirst, let him come to me, and drink,” John 7:37. Great things are proffered; and what is the price? Nothing: it is but come and take; and yet this nothing will be found to be something; yea, a thing both of the greatest moment and difficulty: it is one of the hardest under the sun to become nothing (nothing in ourselves,) and to fly directly to Christ, that we may be something: but go to him even for this. Had the prodigal deferred his return till he had better clothes on his back, and a visage more like the son of such a father, rags must still have been his clothing, and husks his entertainment. Do but consider how it is: Jesus Christ calls you, because you are blind, to come to him for eyesalve; and you will not go until you can see better: you are naked, and he calls you to come and receive change of raiment; and you will not go until better arrayed: he offers you gold, for he knows your poverty, and you will not take it until you have something of your own to give for it. Look over it again, and see if this be handsome dealing either with yourselves or him. It is free grace in redemption that is to be glorified; but something of your own would lessen your need of Christ, and lower your esteem of his grace; nay, it would be a means to keep you from him, as farms and oxen did the invited guests from the wedding supper. Consider further; no man was ever accepted of Christ for what he brought to him: they are best welcome that bring nothing, and yet expect all things. What did you give to Christ, or what did you for him, or even can, that might move him to die for you? Yea, to be made sin, and a curse for you? Did he go into hell to fetch you hence, and pawn his soul (his precious soul) for your ransom? And can you think that he will stick at petty matters? Deservedly may you and I be upbraided with, “O fools, and slow of heart to believe” He knows we have nothing, and would have us know it; and withal that he has all things for us; and, for our invincible encouragement, that all things are ours in a way of right; his purchase has made them so: we are his invited guests, and shall not need to, bring our seat and provision with us. I shall add but one consideration more; namely, whether your keeping off from Christ, until fit for his presence (as ye term it,) be the way to better your state: search, and see, if something like pride be not at the bottom: something you would have, ere you come, that might render you acceptable; and that you can only have from him; and you cannot have it, but by coming without it. Redemption has in it infinite treasures of what we want; our Redeemer is infinitely more pleased to give them forth, than we to receive them. Think, therefore, you are always hearing that joyful sound, “Come to me, all ye that labor, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” Matthew 11:28. “and he that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out,” John 6:37.
Infer. 3. This gives to believers the highest encouragement in their spiritual conflict. “For if our old man was crucified with Christ, that the body of sin might be destroyed,” and the intent of his death cannot be frustrate, then, “sin shall not have dominion over you,” Romans 6:6, 12, 22. than which there is nothing more fortifies our faith in fighting against sin; nothing more comforts the soul “concerning the work and toil of his hands,” Genesis 5:29. For, to take away sin being the end of redemption; to make the work sure, Christ himself was made sin, imputatively, not inherently: all the sins of those he died for met on him; he and they were so incorporated, as not to be separated by death; sin could not die, unless Christ died; Christ could not die without being made sin; nor could he die, but sin must die with him: whole Christ, both head and members universally, were all crucified together, and they all rose together; all, excepting sin, and that he left in his grave; and let us remember it is there. So that now we have nothing to do, in comparison, but to take the prey; for the enemy is beaten to our hands: Eleazer slew, and the people returned after him only to spoil, 2 Samuel 28:10, and so it is here: and herein is the saying verified, “One soweth, and another reapeth,” John 4:37. Our business now is to display our general’s trophies; to tell of his victories; and prepare ourselves for his triumph, that we may be suitable attendants on him at that, glorious and longed for day. There are straggling parties, indeed, who watch for our halting, and seldom, else, can they have advantage against us: but their heart is broke; and if followed in our Captain’s victorious name, they will still be recoiling; nothing daunts them more than to see you stand to it. Your adversary would make you a bridge of gold, or any thing, even to the half of his kingdom, so you would sound a retreat, or speak no more in that name, “Gird up, therefore, the loins of your mind;” let an holy magnanimity possess you; as knowing your conflict shall end in your being crowned. You run not for an uncertainty, therefore fight not as they that beat the air: for it is nevertheless true that your enemy is stubborn; and your constant pursuit will make him desperate; since he may not have quarter, he will do all he can not to die alone; he will stand on his stumps when his legs are off, or lie on his back and fight, for his malice is implacable: he will never give over until quite out of breath: which yet he will not be without, while we have any: we expire together. But here lies the odds, that we, in the conflict, shall rise again with marks of honor, and our laurel hold green to eternity; yea, we shall sit with our glorious Captain in, his triumphal chariot, Revelation 3:21. But our enemy lies in eternal silence, and his name forgot; or remembered only to heighten our exultation and glory: only, as before, be sure and stand to it; set your face as a flint, as your Lord and master did; and know, that as he was not confounded, so neither shall you: all .that he had, you have on your side, and the merit of his improvement added to it; what power the Father gave to him, he delegates to you; even a “power over all the power of the enemy: “as it were an antidote supersedes, to invalidate all that comes against you. Wherefore then should you doubt: though they come about you like bees, “in the name of the Lord you shall destroy them,” Psalm 118:12. Remember the advantages you have; besides the bruising of your enemy’s head, and that incurably, your own Head is in heaven; and he is there as on a mount, to behold both yours and your enemy’s posture, and to send in relief, which he never fails to do at a dead lift, Isaiah 41:17, chapter 26:4. And “he makes intercession for you,” Hebrews 7:25. While you are fighting, his hands are up, and never weary, and therefore you may be confident of success. It was by virtue of his prayer that Peter’s faith did not fail, when there was but a hair’s breadth between him and death; the devil winnowed, but Christ stood by, and “held the wind in his fists,” Proverbs 30:4. Jeremiah 31:11. But,
Lastly. Suppose you be foiled; things go not with you as they were wont, as you expected; and that casts you back in your faith; makes you cry out, “If it be so, why am I thus?” Genesis 25:22. Here the Lord says to you (as once to his servant Joshua,) “Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus discouraged on thy face,” Josh. 7:10. There is something to be done; find out the troubler of thy peace, and give it no quarter; and if it be too hard for thee, as certainly it will, call in the mercy promised in Psalm 12. “For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, saith the Lord, and set him in safety from him that puffeth at him,” verse 5. And then go on with your work: let nothing stop you of your boasting in this region, this upper region of grace that is in Christ Jesus; in that let your strength be renewed, the journey else will be too great for you, 1 Kings 19:7, 8, and in that strength soar aloft; take the wings of that eagle, and mount towards heaven; above all the smoke and dust both of self ability and self weakness. Make your “boast of God all the day long: in the Lord have I righteousness and strength: “Of myself I can do nothing; but through Christ (the strength I have from his redemption) nothing shall be too hard for me. “O death, where is thy sting? O hell, where is thy victory? The strength of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law: but thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen,” I Corinthians 15:55, 56, 57.