October 17, 2006

Stephen Charnock (1628–1680) on Christ's Sufficiency

8. It is so acceptable to God, that it is a sufficient sacrifice for all, if all would accept of it, and by a fixed faith plead it. It is sufficient for the salvation of all sinners, and the expiation of all sins. The wrath of God was so fully appeased by it, his justice so fully satisfied, that there is no bar to a readmission into his favour, and the enjoyment of the privileges purchased by it, but man's unbelief. The blood of Christ is a stream, whereof all men may drink; an ocean, wherein all men may bathe. It wants not value to remove our sins, if we want not faith to embrace and plead it. As no sickness was strong enough against the battery of his powerful word when he was in the world, so no guilt is strong enough against the power of his blood, if the terms upon which it is offered by God be accepted by us. It is absolutely sufficient in itself, so that if every son of Adam, from Adam himself to the last man that shall issue from him by natural decent, should by faith sue out the benefit of it, it would be conferred upon them. God hath no need to stretch his wisdom, to contrive another price, nor Christ any need to reassume the form of a servant, to act the part of a bloody sacrifice any more. If any perished by the biting of the fiery serpent, it was not for want of a remedy in God's institution, but from wilfulness in themselves. The antitype answers to the type, and wants no more a sufficiency to procure a spiritual good than that to effect the cure of the body. He is therefore called 'the Saviour of the world,' 1 John iv. 14. And when the apostle, upon the citation of that in the prophet, that 'whosoever believes on him shall not be ashamed,' concludes, that 'there is no difference between Jew and Gentile, but that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved,' Rom. x. 11, 13; by the same reason it may be concluded, that there is no difference between this and that man, if they believe; what is promised to one believer, as a believer, is promised to all the world upon the same condition. And when the apostle saith, ver. 9, 'If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe with thy heart, thou shalt be saved, ' he speaks to every man that shall hear that sentence. If any man believe, this sacrifice is sufficient for his salvation. As Adam's disobedience was sufficient to ruin all his posterity, descending from him by natural generation, so is this sacrifice sufficient to save all that are in Christ by a spiritual implantation. The apostle's comparison would not else be valid: Rom. v. 18, 'As by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation, so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.' And if all men in the world were united to him by faith, there could not be any more required of Christ for their salvation than what he hath already acted; for it is a sacrifice of infinite value, and infinite knows no limits. Since it was sufficient to satisfy an infinite justice, it is sufficient to save an inexpressible number; and the virtue of it is in saving one, argues a virtue in it to save all upon the same condition. Who will question the ability of an almighty power to raise all men from death to life, that hath raised one man from death to life by the speaking of a word? If men, therefore, perish, it is not for want of value, or virtue, or acceptableness in this sacrifice, but for want of answering the terms upon which the enjoyment of the benefits of it is proposed. If a man will shut his eyes against the light of the sun, it argues an obstinacy in the person, not any defect in the sun itself.
Stephen Charnock, "The Acceptableness of Christ's Death," in The Works of Stephen Charnock (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1985), 4:563–564.

1 comment:

YnottonY said...

George Payne also quotes this section of Charnock's writings to substantiate his view of Christ's sufficiency to save all men (see Lectures on Divine Sovereignty, Election, The Atonement, Justification and Regeneration [ London: James Dinnis, 1838], 221-222.)