August 6, 2009

John Humfrey (1621–1719) on Redemption

These words appear at the beginning of this book:
A Testimony to Mr. Humfrey's former Writings, by two of his Brethren, Ministers, while living.

To Mr. J. H.

I Think by studying of the Scriptures, and things more than others have said before you, you escape the Temptations to Siding and Partiality: And I think you hit on many considerable Truths which many overlook, and improve many which some do lightly pass over.

Richard Baxter.

I am of the same Mind,

Thomas Manton, D.D
Humfrey wrote:

As for this Head of Redemption, I am for a middle Way, as Mr. Baxter was, and Dr. Davenant in his Book De morte Christi, which Arch-bp. Usher approv'd, and was byas'd toward the Universality of it. For seeing the Scripture is so express and full that Christ dy'd for all, that he tasted Death for every Man, that he was a Propitiation for the Sins of the whole World; and that so many more Texts might amply be quoted, there is some Sense wherein this Universality must be maintained, or the Scripture be forsaken.

The Death of Christ therefore may be considered as it hath purchased Remission and Salvation on Condition, and so it is for all, and acknowledged (as Mr. Baxter notes) by Dr. Twiss. But the strict Calvinist will have more, that it redounds to purchase the Condition also, and the Redeemed therefore are only the Elect. This Inference I dislike quite, and the Proposition, that Christ by his Death (whereby he hath made Satisfaction for our Sins) hath purchased the Condition also for any, I question.

For the Inference, If there was a double Redemption, once to purchase Pardon and Life on Condition, and another to purchase also the Condition, then would it be plain, that one was for all, and the other for the Elect only. But Redemption is but one, though that one may have a double Respect, and Dr. Davenant and Mr. Baxter no doubt thought not any otherwise: that is, a Respect to the whole World, or a Respect to the Elect. As it respects all the World, it does purchase Remission and Salvation on Condition; as it respects the Elect, it does farther (as they must hold) purchase for such the Condition also. Upon this account therefore with them it does not follow, that none are redeemed but the Elect, because that tho' in one respect, as Christ by his Redemption hath purchased also the Condition (supposing it so) it was for the Elect: yet in another respect, as it hath purchased Pardon and Life only on Condition, it is for the World; so that in these diverse Respects, all are redeemed, and also the Elect only. I will not wonder therefore at these two Eminent Men, Mr. Baxter and Bishop Davenant, that they affirm Redemption to be Universal and Special both, I thank them for their Pains, their great Pains, but in good earnest it is an Inconsistency I cannot fully, but half approve.

For as for the Proposition it self, that Christ hath by his Death purchased the Condition for the Elect (that is, the Grace which effects their Faith and Repentance, and sincere Obedience, which is the Condition that they may be effectually saved) I have an Objection against it, which you shall have by the by, that I think could not be answered, even by them. The strict Calvinists agree with these middle ones in the Proposition, and are peremptory, that if our Redemption be no more for the Elect than others, which is the purchasing Remission and Salvation on Condition, and not the Condition it self, then does our Salvation lie at Man's own Free Will; so that tho' Christ hath redeemed all, there may not be any one saved for all that. An Allegation really inconsiderate, because Redemption is so distinguished from Election, that it is no Link in its Chain, and is to be so distinguished as either of them to have their Bounds. Redemption hath procured Pardon and Life upon Condition, and there is its Bounds; and as for the Condition, there is no Obligation on Free Grace, but God may dispose it (he may give Faith) where he pleases, so as it lies upon Election, not on Man's Free Will therefore but on God's, for him to give it unto one and not another: and thus Election takes care that Redemption be not in vain.

To establish us the more, we are to consider, in this great Matter of Election and Salvation, that God is to be acknowledged as Rector and Lord both in it; and consequently these Divines that hold the Death of Christ to be for all, in purchasing Pardon and Salvation on Condition, but that the Condition flows not from the Power of Man's Free Will, nor directly from Christ's Purchase, but from Election, do manifestly give God his Glory, while they make him as Lord to give the Condition to his Elect; and as Rector, to judge of them as of all the World according to that Condition.

For my Objection now against the Proposition I am to offer, it is this, that instead of what they say against Universal Redemption, that it destroys Free Grace, I must tell them, that Redemption Special does indeed do it. For the Free Grace of Election we all know to lie in this, that out of the Mass of Mankind, who have no Merit one more than another, God does choose whom he will for no Cause but his own Free Pleasure. Now if Christ hath purchased the Condition for the Elect, then does God choose them from the rest upon Merit, the greatest Merit that can be, even Christ's Merit; and when the choosing the one that hath his Merit is the Reason of his Choice, and not the other because without it, this does destroy the Freeness of Election altogether. This Objection is the firmer, because the Calvinists do all contend about Election, that it has no respect to Christ's Merit and our Faith, but only as they are the Effect of it, that is, because God does elect, choose or determine some to be saved, therefore he sends his Son to procure by his Redemption their Salvation, and gives them Faith to that end: And why do they stand on this, that Christ's Merits must not be considered in Election, but because Election is free, and so free that there must be no Merit even from Christ to the Elect, as the Reason why he chooses one and not the other. I need not add as to them, that nothing without God, and done in time, as Christ's Death was, can be the Cause of his Eternal Will. His Will is himself, and God has no Cause.

The Lutheran here contends with the Calvinist, and stands upon that Text, He hath chosen us in Christ. The Preposition έν in Greek signifies through, and when it is join'd with Christ, through, is through his Merits. This appears (say they) in a former Verse of the same Chapter; He hath blessed us with all Blessings, έν Χριστω, in Christ; and in a following Verse, In him, έν ω, we have Redemption; now when these Words, He hath chosen us in him, is in the middle Verse between them, and they won't understand them as they must be understood, the Lutheran is offended as if the Calvinist would not acknowledge the Truth when convinced. He chooses us, says the Calvinist, that we may believe and be holy, not because we believe and are holy; and because he hath chosen us to Salvation, he hath sent his Son to redeem us (as before) as the means to procure Pardon and Life, and Faith for his Elect, that we may be saved: But the Lutheran says, God chooses the Believer, and that the Redemption of Christ is the Cause, the meritorious Cause of our Election, as well as of our Justification or Salvation. Here is extream Opposition: One says, Election is the Cause of Redemption; and the other says, Redemption is the Cause of Election; and who shall find out a middle-way, or any thing towards it, between them? I pray give me leave, and what if I shall say this, that tho' Christ by his Redemption hath purchased no more for any but Pardon and Life upon Condition, as it belongs to all; yet may we conceive that he hath thereby so pleased the Father, as to obtain that there shall be an Election, that he will give his Grace (the first Grace) to some, that his Sons Obedience and Sufferings shall have their Effect; but tho' he gives it, he will be free in the giving; he will give it to some, but to whom he pleases; he gives it, but without Obligation by that Redemption to give it to any one more than another. As we are all faln in Adam, we are all redeemed by Christ, and all alike in the same Estate; no particular Man can say, Christ hath merited for him more than for others, that for his Merit he should be chosen, and have Grace given him, rather than the other, but all lies on Free Grace, or God's Free Will perfectly, and so Universal Redemption and Free Grace do both stand together.

For my speaking now farther of Redemption: Redemption is a metaphorical Word, and to speak of it according to the Law of the Jews, or the Law of the Romans, and supposing a Captivity or Slavery, to ask, what it is, who are the Captives, how they came to be so, whose Captives, what is the Price that redeems us, when and how, and to whom paid, and twenty such Questions may be ask'd, which any other may answer that will, it is not my Work? but if this Question in general be ask'd, what Redemption is, and the Apostle says it is Remission of Sins (In whom we have Redemption, even Remission of Sins) I will tell freely my Thoughts of it, not that it is, but that it hath obtained Remission; a Universal Conditional Remission, which will be best conceived by a Pardon at Law, an Act of Grace or Pardon by an Act of Parliament: Suppose the Nation in Rebellion, and under the Guilt of Treason, and the Prince to grant a General Pardon, an Act passes, and the whole Nation is pardon'd: The Gospel-Covenant is such an Act of Pardon for all the World; and if you object, then all the World must be saved, I answer, The Act must be read, we must see how it is drawn, and we find Conditions in it: All are pardoned indeed on Condition, but the Conditions must be performed and pleaded for suing out the Act, and obtaining the Benefit of it.

There are none of us must question but the Gospel, together with Remission of Sin, brings a Law (the Covenant of Grace is a Pardon and Law) requiring Obedience in order to our Salvation. He hath chosen us in Christ, that we should be holy: He hath redeemed us from Iniquity, that we should be a peculiar People, zealous of Good Works: We are his Workmanship, and created unto Good-works in (or through) Christ Jesus. By these Texts it appears, that to make us holy, or that we should be holy is the End (or one End) of Christ redeeming us, and yet did God create Man to this End, to be holy; he made us to serve him, and he put his Law in Man's Heart to obey it; and seeing Holiness was the End of his Creation, how can it be said the End of our Redemption? I know none have ask'd the Question, and I must take leave my self to answer, The Law of Creation was a Law of Innocency, requiring us to be so holy as to be without Sin; and when that was broke, and there was Sin committed, there could be no Righteousness according to that Law any more; and therefore was it necessary for Christ by his Coming not only to atone God in regard to the Sin, but to procure also another Law, and such as through Grace may be performed, that so a Righteousness (call'd by Daniel an Everlasting Righteousness) might be brought in (when else there could, I say, be none in the World) which together with Remission of Sin is required to Life everlasting.

And forasmuch as to the end that Men may repent, believe and be holy, Christ hath procured Remission and Salvation for all upon that Condition, which does encourage them to it, and is the Use they should make of it, and God would have all to repent, tho' none do but such as he chooses to give his special Grace to them to do it: We are not to think that none are redeemed but they that do attain that End, no more than you may argue, that when the Scripture says that God will have all to come to Repentance, and the Acknowledgement of the Truth, that yet God indeed will have none to repent, but those that do it: For God does use the Means to all so far as is fit for him to bring them to it. And when the Fault lies on them, you must not lay it on him, as if he willed it not. In like manner hath Christ done all he was to do, that Men should repent, believe, and be holy, in procuring this Encouragement, so as for his part he may be said to have redeemed them from their Iniquity (and when all are so redeemed, those that become godly are more peculiarly so) but all do not take the Encouragement to do it, and so the Fault does lie on themselves, and not on him, nor on God neither, that he does not give them all more Grace, because he acts herein as Dominus absolutus in regard to particular Persons, in choosing freely whom he pleases, without any Merit in themselves, or procured by Christ, for any one more than another, to give them his special Grace for their effectual Salvation, when he gives but his common Grace to others that effects it not.

Against Universal Grace by Christ you may say, One Man has such a Blessing, and not another, and Christ hath procured it. I answer, Christ hath procured all Blessings (especially spiritual ones) both for him and for others, on the Condition which is required to the obtaining them; and the one has them and not the other, because he performs the Condition, and not the other. Life (Life eternal) is a Blessing, and procured or purchased by Christ for all on Condition, for whosoever believes and repents shall live. The Elect now perform this Condition and have Life, the Reprobate does not and perishes. Life here is the Blessing, and procured or purchased by Christ; but the Condition is not purchased or procured (as before) Or if procured, procured only to be given, and that by Free Grace to whom God will, but not procured to be given to this Man and not that, or more to one than another. I may yet be more easy, and distinguish between what Christ hath purchased for Mankind, by his dying for us, and what he gives in executing his Father's Will and Free Pleasure. It is reasonable that Christ taking on him our Flesh, the Flesh of all, and dying for all, to hold that what he hath purchased with the Price of his Blood is for all, and all alike; tho' what he does in Execution of his Father's Will, which is free, be bestowed on one rather than another. And consequently, that what he asks his Father, be such as he may ask for Peter, which he asks not for John, and for his own Disciples, what he prays not for others. I pray not for the World, says Christ, he prays not for all; yet, that he died for the World, and for all, is express in Scripture. I speak it mainly in regard to Salvation for Sinners, and Redemption to be for all, though Faith, Repentance, and the Grace for Application be given by Christ so some only, not as Purchaser, but Executor of his Father's Election.

An APPENDIX to this Second Head.

If Redemption be Universal, according to the Scripture, it is but reasonable to believe the Grace of God, which is given for the Application of it, to be Universal also: and I will not question therefore but as to those that have the Gospel (saying nothing to the contrary neither as to others) that God does vouchsafe so much Grace to the Adult, that they may believe, repent, and be saved, if they will; and when they may if they will, who can deny that Grace to be so much as may be said necessary, and sufficient? And yet if they will, I acknowledge it to be of farther Grace, which we call special, or the Grace of God's Elect. This doctrine appears by these Scriptures. God will have all to repent and be saved, 2 Pet. 3:9. He would, but Man will not, Matt. 23:37. Whosoever will may come, Rev. 22:17. And yet none do come unless the Father draws him, John 6:44. The Command, Work out your Salvation, includes that all have Power, and yet is it God that must work in us to will and to do, or the Work will never be done, Phil. 2:13. By these Scriptures and the like we may see how Truths of Scripture are mystical, deep, and to be founded by Faith; for if I followed only my Reason, I confess I should be apt to think otherwise, that seeing the Grace which is Universal reaches thus far, that Man may, if he will, it seems enough to leave there; for if he will not (when he hath so much Grace that he may if he will) God is just to condemn him; and if he will, he must attribute it to this Grace, which is Universal, as that without which he could not have willed, and with it he does both will and do, and is saved.

In the Council of Trent, Father Paul in his History of it, does tell us of an Opinion broached by Ambrosias Catharinus, to this Effect, (whose Book I have seen) that there are some singular Persons, as Paul, the Disciples, and the like, that God does take an extraordinary Care of, so as it is impossible for them to fail of Salvation, Matt. 24:24. and these only are the Elect (as John writes to the Elect Lady, unto whom this Grace which is special doth belong) but as for the Generality of Mankind, or Christians, they have the Gospel and the Grace of God, which is universal, and according to their Improvement thereof, some there be that are, and others that are not converted by it, and saved.

Unto this Opinion, without mentioning that Author, there is an excellent person, Dr. Henry More, who gives his Suffrage, in these Words; "I do profess I do verily think, that there is such a thing as discriminating Grace (as they call it) in the World; and that to such a Difference for Good, that some few of Mankind by virtue thereof will be irresistibly saved; but that the rest of the World are Probationers, that is, have Free Will, and are in a Capacity of being saved, some greater, some less, and that whosoever is damn'd, it is long of himself. For as Syracides saith, God hath no need of the wicked Man." Dr. More's Mystery of Godliness, p. 502.

We take it for granted, that the whole World is divided into the Elect and Reprobate, and that no Reprobate, and none but the Elect, can be saved: But may not it be a Question ask'd, where either of these are expressly said in Scripture? Examine your selves, prove your own selves, know you not Christ is in you, unless ye be Reprobates? May not a Man examine himself, and find not Christ in him, but be reprobate and unapproved, at present, and yet have Grace given hereafter, so as to repent, believe, and be saved; I say only, may not this be ask'd?

Of the Opinion therefore of Catharinus and Dr. More, my Genius, which leads me still into the middle-way of disputed Points, would make me a ready nad thankful Follower; but yet it is the Scripture alone that won't let me. Scripture is the Rule of my Faith, and the very Truth of the Scripture, as I believe it, is as I have said, and I must be unsay and unbelieve to say any more.
John Humfrey, Free Thoughts (London: Printed for T. Parkhurst at the 3 Crowns in Cheapside, and Jonathan Robinson at the Goldon-Lion in St. Paul's Church-yard; and sold by J. Morphew near Stationers-hall, 1710), 8–15.


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