October 9, 2008

John Davenant (1572–1641) on Romans 8:32

Objection 11. The death of Christ is not applicable to those for whom he did not die, or was not offered up. But there are numberless persons for whom he did not die, or was not offered up, namely, all those who were not written in the book of life of the elect, before the foundation of the world. From thence they endeavor to confirm the minor, that the Apostle broadly asserts that God would freely give all things to those for whom the Son died, Romans viii. 32, He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? But he does not freely give all things to all men: Therefore Christ did not die for all: Therefore his death is not applicable to all.

Reply 11. I willingly grant that the death of Christ can in no true sense be said to be applicable to those for whom God did in no wise will that he should die. For the death of Christ is not a remedy applicable to expiate the sins of any one, except according to the ordination and acceptation of God. And for this reason, although the ransom paid by Christ to God the Father is in itself of sufficient and superabundant value to take away the sins, not only of men, but of fallen angels, yet, on account of the want of its ordination and acceptation as to angels, we deny that Christ ought to be said to have died for them in any way. The same thing might also be declared respecting men, if there were any alienated and excluded from all possibility of the aforesaid redemption on account of the same want of Divine ordination and acceptation. But as it was said, the major being granted, let us proceed to the minor. I answer therefore, That there is no one who is a partaker of the same human nature which the Redeemer deigned to assume, for whom Christ did not deliver up himself as a price as a price of redemption, applicable according to the ordination and acceptation of God, for remission of sins, to be obtained by faith in his blood. Nor does the Apostle contradict us, whose whole discourse in Romans viii. is not designed to console any description of persons in any condition, but the elect; nor the elect merely as such, but the elect now called, justified, sanctified, that is , as he says Coloss. i. 13, now delivered from the power of darkness, and translated into the kingdom of his dear Son, Nor does he simply and universally affirm that God freely gives all things to all men for whom Christ died, but to all of us to whom the present discourse relates, that is, to all the predestinated who are believing in Christ, for whom not only Christ died, but to whom moreover Christ is now given in an especial manner, that is, is united and communicated with the infinite treasure of his merits. Therefore this consolatory argument of the Apostle derived from the death of Christ is efficacious; but only if it is accommodated by him, namely, in this manner, Thou, who from thy effectual calling, justification, and sanctification, canst now know and perceive that thou are predestinated, and that for thy special and effectual redemption, God willed not only that his Son should be offered up to himself, but also communicated to thee; why canst thou not trust him with the rest, that he will freely give thee all other things necessary to accomplish thy salvation? But if any one desires to apply the aforesaid reasoning to any persons whatsoever setting aside the consideration of predestination, calling, and justification, in this manner, Christ died for you, or Christ gave himself a ransom or sacrifice to God to expiate your sins, and therefore God will freely give you all things, I say, that he extends the argument beyond its limits, contrary to the mind of the Apostle, who confined it to certain persons, namely, the predestinated, and to them as placed in a certain condition, namely, of justification and adoption.
John Davenant, A Dissertation on the Death of Christ (London, 1832), 386–387.

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