May 15, 2007

Richard Baxter (1615–1691) on Universal Redemption

SECT. VI.

Of Universal Redemption


95. By what hath been said, it appeareth how far Christ may be said to have died for all. Certainly (de re) all that Christ giveth to all, which is the fruits of his Death, he procured for all by his death: whatever we say of conditional Intentions, he certainly intended to give all that he giveth. But all these following particulars are given by Christ, either to all, or to more than the Elect.

1. The Human Nature, common to all, is advanced and brought nigh to God, in Christ's Incarnation. 2. Christ's Sacrifice for Sin, and his perfect Holiness, are so far Satisfactory and meritorious for all men, as that they render Christ a meet Object for that Faith in him which is commanded men, and no man shall be damned for want of the Satisfactoriness of Christ's Sacrifice, or for want of a Savior to die for him, and fulfil all Righteousness, but only for the abusing or refusing of his Mercy. 3. Christ's conquest of the Devil and the World, hath made man's conquests of them the more easy or possible. And his Victory over Death and his Resurrection, hath procured a Resurrection to all the World. 4. All men are his Subjects by Obligation, as he is the Redeemer, and so are under his healing, saving kind of Government. 5. A clearer revelation of Life and Immortality, is made by him, even to those that perish. And they have far greater helps than else they would have had, to set their hearts on a better World. 6. Especially a Law of Grace is made by Christ for all the world; (In the last Edition to all that hear the Gospel, and in the first to all the rest.) By the Promise of which, as by an Act of Oblivion, or Instrument of Donation, God hath Enacted and Given a full Pardon of all Sin to all Mankind, with Reconcilation, Adoption, and Right to Christ and Heaven, on condition of their acceptance of it, as offered them. So that men are pardoned and justified by that Instrument or Gift, if they will believe, and will not unthankfully reject their Mercies. 7. Apostles and ordinary Ministers were appointed to preach this Gospel to all the World, and make the Offer of Christ and Life to all men without exception. 8. The execution of the violated Law of Innocency is forborn to all men, in the greatest part; Judgments kept off; and they kept out of Hell, while they have time and means to prepare for their Salvation. 9. Many and great Mercies which signify God's goodness, and lead towards Repentance, are given to all the world; even mercies forfeited by sins against the Law of Innocency, and given by the Grace of our Redeemer. 10. It is made all mens duty, to believe (the Revelation made to them) to repent, to accept more mercy, and to seek their own Salvation. And such duty is not the smallest mercy. 11. He hath recorded his Word and Grace in the holy Scriptures, which all are allowed to use for their good. He hath filled his Doctrine or Gospel with such powerful convincing Reasons and Persuasions, which have a tendency to convince men, and convert them. 12. He secondeth his Word by many such Providences (in his Works, his Mercies, his Afflictions,) as greatly tend to win mens Souls. 13. He hath left his excellent Example to the world, which greatly tendeth to mens Conviction and Salvation. 14. He hath appointed several Church-Ordinances, which are mercies to more than the Elect; as is the visible communion also which they have with the Upright, and their examples, prayers, &c. 15. To all these he addeth an obligation on all Christians, to do their best to convert and save all others. 16. And the Office of Magistrates under Christ, is appointed for these saving uses, to promote the Salvation of all the people. 17. Death itself is now turned into a medicinal means, by the prospect of it to convert and save men. 18. Usually Gods patience alloweth men time of Repentance, and taketh them not at the first denial, that they may consider and correct their former error. 19. Remedies are offered men fetched from Satan and Sin itself. The Tempter (by the malice of his temptations) oft detecteth his own fraud and mens danger. A natural enmity against Devils, and all that is known to be of them, is put into all Mankind: and Sin hath a sting to the Flesh itself, and is made such a misery to Sinners even in this life, as may much tend to alienate and deter them from it. And the world itself is made such a palpable vanity, and smart vexation, as tendeth to drive men to look out for a better, and not to love it above God. 20. Lastly, To all these means, there are certain internal motions, and strivings of the Spirit of Christ, which he commonly vouchsafeth men in some degree, and which irritate Conscience to do its office; and which if men will but so far yield to as they can, have a tendency to their recovery. All these twenty sorts of means and mercies Christ giveth to all, or to more than the Elect.

96. It being certain de re that Christ so far died for all, as to procure them all such Benefits as he giveth them, the question remaining is de nomine, whether it be a fit phrase to say that Christ died for all? And this is put out of question by the Scripture, which frequently useth it, as is proved by the fore-cited Texts. We may well speak as God ordinarily there speaketh.

97. There are certain fruits of Christ's death which are proper to the Elect, (or those that are in a state of Salvation). As 1. Grace eventually effectual working them to true Faith, Repentance and Conversion. 2. Union with Christ the Head, as his true living members. 3. The actual forgiveness of sin, as to the grand spiritual and the eternal punishment, Rom. 4. 1. 7. & 8. 1. 33, 34. 4. Our actual Reconciliation with God, so as to be beloved as his peculiar people. 5. Our Adoption and Right to the heavenly Inheritance, Psal. 4. 6. & 8. 16, 17, 18. 6. The Spirit of Christ to dwell in us, and sanctify us, by a habit of Divine Love, Rom. 8. 9, 13. Gal. 4. 6. Col. 3. 10. 1 Pet. 1. 16. & 2 Pet. 1. 4. 1 Joh. 4. 15. Joh. 3. 5, 6. 1 Cor. 6. 19. Gal. 5. 17, 18, 22. 2 Cor. 6. 1. 7. Employment in sincere holy acceptable Service, where they and their duties are pleasing to God, Heb. 11. 5, 6. 1 Pet. 2. 5, 9. 8. Access in prayer, with a promise of being heard in all that's good for us (in God's measure, time and way,) through Christ, Joh. 14. 13, 14. Heb 10. 19, 20, 22. 9. Well-grounded hopes of Salvation and peace of Conscience thereupon, Rom. 5. 1, 2, 3, 4, &c. 10. Spiritual communion with the Church-mystical in Heaven and Earth, Heb. 12. 22, 23, 24. Eph. 2. 19, 20, 21, 22. I Cor. 3. 22. 11. A special interest in Christ's intercession with the Father, Rom. 8. 32, 33, &c. 12. Resurrection unto Life, and Justification in Judgment; Glorification of the Soul at Death, and of the Body at the Resurrection, Phil. 3. 20, 21. 2 Cor. 5. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. Rom. 8. 17, 18, 30, 32, 35, 36, 37, &c.

All these Benefits Christ hath made a conditional Deed of Gift to all the world: But only the Elect accept them, and possess them. From whence we certainly infer, that Christ never absolutely intended or decreed that his death should eventually put all men in possession of these Benefits: And yet that he did intend and decree that by his death all men should have a conditional Gift of them. (As Dr. Twisse doth frequently assert.)

98. Chirst therefore died for all, but not for all equally, or with the same intent, design or purpose: So that the case of difference in the matter of Redemption, is resolved into that of Predestination; and is but Gods different Decrees about the effects of Redemption.

99. The particle [For] when we question whether Christ died [For] All is ambiguous: 1. It may mean [In the strict representation of the persons of all as several, so that they may be said to have died or satisfied in and by him, as civilly in their own persons, though not naturally]. And thus Christ died not for all, or for any man: which yet is in some mens conceits, who thence say that Christ died not for all, because he did not so personate all. 2. It may signify [to die by the procurement of all mens sins, as the assumed promeritorious cause.] And thus Pareus himself in his Irenicon saith, That the sins of all men lay on Christ; and so he died for all, that is, for all mens sins as the cause of his death: And you may tell any wicked man, Thy sins killed Christ (what-ever the deniers say to excuse them). 3. Or it meaneth, that Christ died finally for the good of all men. And that is true, as afore explained. He died for the good of all; but not equally; that is, not with the same absolute Will, Decree or Intention of attaining their Salvation.

100. But the conditional New Covenant, without any difference in the tenor of it, doth equally give Christ, Pardon and Life to all Mankind (antecedently to mens rejecting the offer) on condition of acceptance. And Christ equally satisfied Gods Justice for all the lapsed Race of Adam, so far as to procure them this Gift or Covenant, and the other foresaid common mercies: But not equally as to his Decree of the success: For there Election differenceth.

101. It is a thing so contrary to the nature of Christianity, and the Spirit of Christ in his Saints, to extenuate Christ's Merit's, Purchase, Interest or Honour, or rob him of his due, that doubtless so many sincere Christians would never be guilty of such injurious extenuations, and narrowing of Christ's successes, but that they cannot reconcile special Grace with universal, and mistakingly judge them inconsistent: Nor durst opprobriously reproach his universal Grace, as they do, by calling it vain, lame, imperfect, a mockery, &c. if the conceit of their defending some truth by it did not quiet and deceive their Consciences. Whereas indeed universal Grace and special, do as perfectly and harmoniously consist, as Nature and Grace do, and as the foundation and the building, and as any generical and specific Natures: And so doth a general Decree, that [All who will believe shall be saved, and that this Promise shall be made to the world] with a special Decree that [Paul shall believe and be saved.]

But on two accounts I pass by all the rest about the extent of Redemption, 1. Because I must give you a special Disputation or Tractate on that subject. 2. Because the most Judicious of English Divines (so far as I can know them by their works) Bishop Davenant hath said so much in his two Posthumous Dissertation de Redempt. & Prædestinat. (Published out of the hands of Bishop Usher) as might suffice to reconcile contenders on these two points, were not men slothful in studying them or partial or incapable in judging these matters.
Richard Baxter, Catholick Theologie (London: Printed by Robert White, for Nevill Simmons at the Princes Arms in St. Pauls Church-yard, 1675), I.ii.53–54.

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