September 14, 2006

Edwards on Christ's Suffering

"But now Christ has suffered for the sins of the world, we ought to hate no man, because Christ has suffered and satisfied for his sins, and therefore we should endeavor to bring him to Christ."

Jonathan Edwards, Miscellanies, 781.

4 comments:

sixtus said...

Are you asserting here that Jonathan Edwards believed in an unlimited atonement with a particular application?

YnottonY said...

Actually, I'm not asserting anything. I've just posted a quote by Jonathan Edwards and it's up to the reader to interpret it appropriately. As far as I can tell, it seems that Edwards is saying Christ died for the whole world and not merely the elect. Then he grounds our evangelistic interests (to bring them to Christ) in that truth.

Here's the quote in context:

"Miscellanies, 781. Christ the Mediator. Christ, God-man, is not only Mediator between God and sinful men, but he acts as a Middle Person between all other persons, and all intelligent beings, that all things may be gathered together in one in him, agreeably to Eph. 1:10. He is the Middle Person between the other two divine persons, and acts as such in the affair of our redemption. Though he is not properly a Mediator between God and angels, yet he acts in many respects as a Middle Person between them, so that all that eternal life, glory and blessedness that they are possessed of is by his mediety. And he is a kind of Mediator between one man and another to make peace between them. He reconciles one man to another by his blood by taking away all just cause one can have to hate another for what is indeed hateful in them, and for which they deserve to be hated of both God and man, by suffering for it fully as much as it deserves, so that what the hatred of both God and man desires is here fully accomplished in a punishment fully proportional to the hatefulness of the crime. Were it not that the sins of men are already fully punished in the sufferings of Christ, all, both angels and men, might justly hate all sinners for their sins. For appearing as they are in themselves, they are indeed infinitely hateful, and could appear no otherwise to any than as they are in themselves, had not another been substituted for them. And therefore they must necessarily appear hateful to all that saw things as they are. It is impossible for any to hate a crime as a crime or fault, without desiring that it should be punished, for he that hates sin is thereby an enemy to it, and therefore necessarily is inimical, or inclined to act against it, that it may suffer, or to see it suffer. And if we impute men’s sins to them, i.e. if we look on the hatefulness of their sins as their hatefulness, we necessarily hate them, and are inclined that the sufferings that we desire for their sins should be their sufferings. But now Christ has suffered for the sins of the world, we ought to hate no man, because Christ has suffered and satisfied for his sins, and therefore we should endeavor to bring him to Christ. A right consideration of Christ’s sufferings for the sins of others is enough to satisfy all just indignation against them for their sins. So that Christ, by his sufferings, has in a sense made propitiation for men’s sins, not only with God but with their fellow creatures. And so, by his obedience, he recommends them not only to the favor of God, but of one another, for Christ’s righteousness is exceeding amiable to all men and angels that see it aright, and Christ himself is amiable to them on that account. And it renders all, that they look upon to be in him, amiable in their eyes, to consider them as members of so amiable a head, as we naturally love the children of those that we have a very dear love to."

Here's another quote from Edwards where he expounds on both a universal aspect of Christ's death and a particular aspect that concerns the elect alone:

"From these things it will inevitably follow, that however Christ in some sense may be said to die for all, and to redeem all visible Christians, yea, the whole world, by his death; yet there must be something particular in the design of his death, with respect to such as he intended should actually be saved thereby. As appears by what has been now shown, God has the actual salvation or redemption of a certain number in his proper absolute design, and of a certain number only; and therefore such a design only can be prosecuted in anything God does, in order to the salvation of men. God pursues a proper design of the salvation of the elect in giving Christ to die, and prosecutes such a design with respect to no other, most strictly speaking; for it is impossible, that God should prosecute any other design than only such as he has. He certainly does not, in the highest propriety and strictness of speech, pursue a design that he has not. And, indeed, such a particularity and limitation of redemption will as infallibly follow, from the doctrine of God’s foreknowledge, as from that of the decree. For it is as impossible, in strictness of speech, that God should prosecute a design, or aim at a thing, which he at the same time most perfectly knows will not be accomplished, as that he should use endeavors for that which is beside his decree."

Freedom of the Will, Part 4, Section 14

YnottonY said...

sixtus said...

"Are you asserting here that Jonathan Edwards believed in an unlimited atonement with a particular application?"

One needs to be careful in one's usage of the term "atonement." Dabney clarifies that issue here: Dabney on the Atonement Term

However, to answer your question, it seems to me that Edwards maintains that Christ expiatory work, in terms of it's intrinsic legal satisfaction, is unlimited and entirely sufficient to save all mankind, and that by the ordination of God. But, when one looks at God's special decree or purpose, one cannot help but conclude that Jesus had a special design in satisfying for the sins of the world, and that special purpose issues in the effectual application of his satisfaction to the elect alone by the Spirit through the grant of faith. Thus, the limitation is in the special purpose/decree and the special application resulting therefrom, and not in his expiatory satisfaction for the sin of the whole world (as if the expiation is limited).

Some higher Calvinists not only maintain a limited intent to the exclusion of any general intent (decretalism), but they also argue for a limited expiation. My position, like other moderate Calvinists present at Dort, is that there is indeed a limited or special intent (as all Calvinists agree with), but also that there's also a general intent. This general intent results in an unlimited legal satisfaction (unlimited expiation) that grounds the free offer of the gospel. We are not indescriminately inviting men to a limited feast, but to an unlimited feast. However, those who actually come and eat Christ's flesh and drink his blood through faith are the elect alone, for they alone are granted moral ability to do so by the Holy Spirit.

I hope that helps,
Tony

YnottonY said...

Yale has a slightly different version of the Edwards quote above than is on the CD copy. Yale has #781 this way:

"781. CHRIST'S MEDIATION. The WISDOM of God in the WORK OF REDEMPTION. How God gathers together in one all things in Christ. Christ God-man is not only Mediator between God and sinful men, but he acts as a middle person between all other persons, and all intelligent beings, that all things may be gathered together in one in him, agreeable to Ephesians 1:10. He is the middle person between the other two divine persons, and acts as such in the affair of our redemption, as has been shown, No. 772. Though he ben't properly a mediator between God and angels, yet he acts in many respects as a middle person between them; so that all that eternal life, glory, and blessedness that they are possessed of, is by his mediety. And he is a kind of mediator between one man and another, to make peace between them; as he reconciles God and man together, by his blood, and by his Word, and by his Spirit, so by the same he reconciles one man to another. He reconciles one man to another by his blood, by taking away all just cause one can have to hate another-for what is indeed hateful in them, and for which they deserve to be hated of both God and man-by suffering for it fully as much as it deserves; so that what the hatred of both God and man desires, is here fully accomplished in a punishment fully proportionable to the hatefulness of the crime. Were it not that the sins of men are already fully punished in the sufferings of Christ, all, both angels and men, might justly hate all sinners for their sins. For appearing as they are in themselves, they are indeed infinitely hateful, and could appear no otherwise to any than as they are in themselves, had not another been substituted for them; and therefore, they must necessarily appear hateful to all that saw things as they be. It is impossible for any to hate a crime as a crime or fault, without desiring that it should be punished. For he that hates sin is thereby an enemy to it, and therefore necessarily is inimical or inclined to act against it, that it may suffer or to see it suffer; and if we impute men's sins to them, i.e. if we look on the hatefulness of their sins as their hatefulness, we necessarily hate them, and are inclined that the sufferings that we desire for their sins, should be their sufferings.

But now Christ has suffered for the sins of the world, we ought to hate no man, because there is room to hope that Christ has suffered and satisfied for his sins; and therefore, we should endeavor to bring him to Christ. A right consideration of Christ's sufferings for the sins of others is enough to satisfy all just indignation against them for their sins. When once the saints and angels come to know certainly that Christ has not satisfied for any man's sin, they will hate them, and will rejoice in their infernal and eternal sufferings, which they will see to be no more than in proportion to the hatefulness of their sins. So that Christ by his sufferings has in a sense made propitiations for men's sins not only with God, but with their fellow creatures; and so by his obedience, he recommends them not only to the favor of God, but of one another. For Christ's righteousness is exceeding amiable to all men and angels that see it aright, and Christ himself is amiable to them on that account; and it renders all that they look upon to be in him amiable in their eyes, to consider 'em as members of so amiable an head, as we naturally love the children of those that we have a very dear love to.

Christ by his death also has laid a foundation for peace and love among enemies, in that therein he has done two things; first, in setting the most marvelous, affecting example of love to enemies, an example in an instance wherein we are most nearly concerned, for we ourselves are those enemies that he has manifested such love to. And second, he has done the greatest thing to engage us to love him, and so to follow his example, for the examples of such as we have a strong love to have a most powerful influence upon us. And again, as Christ unites mankind with the Father, by being the bond of union between them, as the third person in whom both are united (for the Father and he from eternity are one); and therefore, by making sinful men one with himself, as he does by three things, viz. by substituting himself in their stead from eternity, and by taking on their nature, and bringing them home to an union of hearts, and vital union: I say, by thus bringing them to himself he unites them to the Father. So also he unites mankind one to another by being a middle being in which all are united: for he brings and unites 'em all to himself as in their head; and thereby, without more ado, they become nearly related and closely united one to another, for they become members of the same body. And again as Christ reconciles man to the Father by his Word, preaching the word of reconciliation, and powerfully drawing and uniting their hearts to God by his Spirit, so he also unites them one to another. He by his Word and Spirit, as it were, does the part of an intercessor between them.

Christ was a mediator between the Jews and Gentiles to reconcile them together, breaking down the middle wall of partition; and he also unites men and angels. He unites angels to men by the following things: by taking away their guilt by his blood, and suffering for that which otherwise would necessarily have rendered them hateful to the angels; and by taking away sin itself by sanctification; and by rendering those that are so much inferior to them in their natures, honorable in their eyes, and worthy that they should be ministering spirits going forth to minister to them; by his taking their nature upon him, and by dying for them, and uniting them to be members of himself; and by setting them such a wonderful example, manifesting God's and his own eternal transcendent love to them by the great things he did and suffered for them; and by being an intermediate person as a bond and head of union, being a common head to each, in which both are united; and by confirming their hearts by his Spirit against all pride, which was the thing that caused such an alienation between the angels that fell and man, so that they could not endure to be ministering spirits to him, which was the occasion of their fall."

However, as one looks at the previous context, one can see that the sense is the same.