July 20, 2010

George Walker (1581–1651) on the Death of Christ

This Westminster divine said the following:
Quest. How can the sufferings of one man satisfy for all men, and the righteousness of one be able to justify all that are to be justified?

Answ. The man Christ as he fulfilled the Law, and suffered in our nature, so his righteousness and satisfaction is human, and is proper only to mankind, for as man sinned, so man satisfied. But as this man Christ, is also God in the same person: So his righteousness and satisfaction is Divine of infinite value and worth, even the righteousness and suffering of God; and that is more than if all men had suffered eternal death, and fulfilled in their own persons every jot and tittle of the Law, and all the righteousness thereof.
George Walker, The Key of Saving Knowledge (London: Printed by Tho. Badger, 1641), 47. Some spelling has been updated. Notice that Walker seems to grant the premise in the question that the sufferings of the one man [Christ] satisfies for all men,” and then goes on to argue how that can be the case.

He also connects NT ransom language to all mankind, using 1 Tim. 4:10. Walker said:
Quest. Doth not Christ as well make Intercession for all, as he died for all mankind?

Answ. Though Christ died and fulfilled the Law for a common benefit to all man-kind and his ransom is sufficient to save all; yet he never purposed to redeem all men by his death. For he knew that many were already damned, and past all hope of redemption before he died, and that Judas was a son of perdition, and therefore he did not purpose to give himself a ransom for them. Besides he himself testifieth that he did not pray for the world, but only for his Elect given to him by his father out of the world, Joh. 17.9. Therefore he did much less die with an intent, purpose and desire to redeem and save them.
Ibid., 49–50. Some spelling has been updated.
Quest. You have well shewed that Christ both in respect of his Person and Offices, is an all sufficient Redeemer and Saviour, and is able by the infinite worth of his Mediation to save all men: Now then tell me why all men are not saved?

Answ. Though Christ [in] his ransom and satisfaction is able to save and redeem all that are partakers thereof, even all mankind, if they had grace to receive and apply him and all his merits by Faith, Yet because none have spiritual communion with him, but only they whom God hath chosen to eternal life in him, and predestined to be effectually called, according to his purpose, to the state of grace, and to be made conformable to his image: Therefore many who are not elect, follow their own evil ways, and have no will nor care to repent of their sins, and believe in Christ, but run willfully into destruction and perish.
Ibid., 52–53. Some spelling has been updated.
Quest. Doth the benefit of Christ the Mediator, and Redeemer reach only to the Elect?

Answ. Though the saving virtue of Christ belongeth only to the elect; yet there is a common benefit of Christ, whereof reprobates are partakers, which reacheth also to all the world. For he is said to preserve man and beasts, that is, to keep them in life and being, Psal. 36.6 and to be the Saviour of all, especially of them that believe, 1 Tim. 4.10 and to give himself a ransom for all, 1 Tim. 2.6. and by him all things are said to consist, Coloss. 1.17.
Ibid., 55. Some spelling has been updated.
But yet all this while Redemption both promised & undertaken and also actually performed is the same common ground of the holy weekly Sabbath: And Christ is the same Redeemer to all mankind, and the only mediator and Saviour. Yesterday, and to day, and the same for ever. Heb. 13.8. And the duty of keeping an holy weekly Sabbath is grounded on him throughout all ages, who is the common Saviour, and Redeemer of all mankind. Therefore all men of all ages are bound to this duty, & none exempted from it, in any nation age or generation.
George Walker, The Doctrine of the Sabbath (Printed at Amsterdam: [By Richt Right press], 1638), 103–104. Some spelling has  been updated.
Thirdly, all mankind even the most barbarous and savage nations, as they have their being, and all gifts of nature, from God’s creating hand and power. So they have all these things continued unto them by the mediation of Christ, and by a common and universal virtue of him the Redeemer, they are upheld in life and health and strength in this world: And Christ as Mediator procures all these things to them, after a secondary manner for his elect’s sake, which are either to spring after many ages out of their loins, or to receive benefit of their labors in subduing the earth, making it habitable and fit for his people to dwell in, and so preparing a place for his Church, or the like. In this respect God is called the Saviour of all men, but especially of them that do believe. Of all, in as much as he preserves them in natural life, but of the faithful, fully and perfectly in that he saves them from eternal death, and hell, and brings them to life eternal. And hereupon it is, that all things are said to be and to consist in, and by, and for Christ. Coloss. 1.17. and he is said to be a ransom for all men, that is reaching to all in some measure, manner, and degree, even to infidels to obtain common gifts for them, and to the elect perfectly to redeem them. Now they who partake the benefit of the Christ the blessed seed promised to Adam, they are bound to the duty which God requires in thankfulness for it, and for a continual commemoration thereof. Therefore all mankind even the most barbarous are bound to the duty of keeping an holy sabbath weekly, though they do not know that which binds them to it, and leads them to the performance thereof.
Ibid., 108–109.

Walker does, however, limit the “world” to the elect in John 3:16, 2 Cor. 5:19 and 1 John 2:2:
Sometimes [the ‘world’ is used of] the elect, who are the chief ones of the world, and of mankind, as John 3.16. and 2 Cor. 5.19. and 1 John 2.2. 
George Walker, The History of the Creation as it is Written by Moses in the First and Second Chapters of Genesis (London: Printed for John Barlet, 1641), 22.


July 19, 2010

Thomas Ford (1598–1674) on the Death of Christ and the Sinner's Self-Condemnation

This Westminster divine wrote the following:
But the chief design of this Discourse being to shew, How inexcusable they are, who have the light of Gospel-truth, but do not walk in it; [I] shall proceed to enquire into the case of these, that turn the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ into wantonness, some way or other receiving it in vain. For these (I say again) do not perish for want of a Remedy, but only for not applying it.

For proof hereof, I appeal to John 3.16, God so loved the World, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him, should not perish. Here's enough said, to shew, That God is not wanting to me, but that they are wanting to themselves. There's provision made such, and so much, as none can perish, but they who refuse to make use of it. Whosoever believeth on him, shall have everlasting life. What can be said or done more on Gods part? What constructions are made of this Scripture are many, I shall not mention, but shall give the sense of Calvin upon it. "The Love of God here testified (saith he) respects Humanum genus, mankind; and a note of universality is added, to invite all promiscously to the partaking of this life, and to cut off all excuse, observe that, from such as believe not. For this purpose (saith he) the word [WORLD] is used, to shew, that though there be nothing in the World worthy of Gods love and favour, yet to shew himself gracious to the whole World, he calls all without exception to the Faith of Christ." Indeed he saith too, "That life eternal is offer'd unto all, so as notwithstanding Faith is not of all." And in this he confesseth, the special grace of God to some particular persons.

Let it also be considered, That the word [WORLD] cannot rationally be taken in any other sense. For in the next Verse, it is meant of the World, whereof some are saved, and some perish, (as Reverend Davenant observes) and that they who perish, perish only because they believe not on the Son of God. I shall not debate, what advantage the coming of Christ into the World brought to such, as make no use, reap no benefit by it. Certainly it states the question beyond all dispute, That as Faith only saves, so Unbelief only condemns, which is all I have to prove. For there's not the least hint of any defect on Gods part, but all the fault is said on man alone, in not believing on the Son of God sent into the World, not to condemn, but to save it. And here let Calvin speak what he thought in this case: Certium quidem e, non omnes ex Christi morte fructum percipere: Sed hoc ideo fit, quia eos impedit sua incredulitas. In Ep. ad Heb. cap. 9. v. 27 [28]. 'Tis only by Infidelity, that all are not partakers of the benefits of Christs death.

Let me now argue a little further, Why do we persuade all men, without exception, to believe on Christ, with a promise of Salvation by him, if they believe? Is it reasonable to do so, if we are not persuaded, there is sufficient provision made, so as nothing is wanting, if there be Faith to receive it? As I take it, we should not perswade men to believe on Christ, by telling them, If they believe, then Christ died for them: Rather, as I suppose, we may safely tell them, That Christ died for them, and thereupon perswade them, to believe on him. We are bound to believe, that the thing is true, before we can believe our share in it. The Object is in order of Nature, before the Action. My believing makes not a thing true; but it is true in it self and therefore I believe it. And this is the method of Scripture, as farr as I know. The Feast was first prepared, and the Guests were invited: All things are ready, come unto the Marriage, Matt. 22.4. The Jews, who are the guests there invited, refus'd to come: But were they not cast utterly off, and put into that condition, wherein they abide unto this day, upon this account, That the Son of God came to his own, and his own received him not? How could they refuse, if there were no provision made for them? Or justly perish only for refusing? I am very willing to believe, That Christ was offer'd for me, before he was offer'd to me; and that if I dye in my sins, it is only for my not receiving Christ offered to me. Sure I am, that Scripture never layeth the death of Sinners, upon the want of a λύτρον, or Price of Redemption; but always upon unbelief, disobedience, neglect of, and setting light by Christ, and the things of Christ. And this is enough to serve my turn, That Scripture never hints any impediment to mens Salvation, more than en evil heart of unbelief. For the intention of God, and Christ, what is that to me, or any man else, seeing it is secret? The revealed things belong to us; and we shall (for certain) be question'd one day only, Why we did not accept Christ, when he was tendered to us? It will not then excuse us, to say, We could not tell, whether we were of those, whom Christ intended to save. Once we have the command of God, to believe on the Son of God; and we have a sure promise, if we believe, to be saved. And this, and nothing else, will be the condemnation of the World, viz. That they disobeyed Gods command, and believed not his promise.

Thus all Gods Messengers have a Warrant to invite all men to believe. But not to invite the Devil, though they had an opportunity to speak with him, as any man may speak to another: Yea, I am bold to think, it would be any mans sin, to promise Salvation to the Devil, upon his believing in Christ. It were indeed a belying the Lord, and saying, He saith, what he hath not said. And it were a deceiving the Devil, in telling him, that which is not so. For the consequence of this Hypothetical [if you believest on the Son of God, thou shalt be saved] is true, as to any man, without exception: But as to the Devil, it is (for ought I know) false in the connexion, as well as in the parts of it; because he is none of those, to whom God hath promis'd Salvation, upon condition of believing on Christ, John 3.16. For the Command of God to believe, and his Promise of Life upon believing, is all the ground-work upon which our Faith is built; and this foundation the Devil hath not, for his warrant and encouragement to believe on the Son of God. For the Son of God took not on him, or took not hold on, or helped not the Angels, Heb. 2.16. but the Seed of Abraham. Where [Abrahams Seed] notes not the Jews only (as all will grant) but the Gentiles also; and that expression is used, to shew, that Christ was the same, that was promis'd to the Fathers; and sets out the benefit of Redemption, as belonging to mankind, but not (if I may so speak) to Devil-kind.

Beside, It is not the Devils Sin, not to believe on Christ, or not to receive him: He hath sins enough besides, both for number and nature; and questionless is a greater sinner, than any man can be; having sinn'd himself out of the greatest happiness (and that in actual possession) that a Creature is capable of, and sinn'd against that Light, which no man on earth can attain unto. But Unbelief is not his sin, because there is no command obliging, nor any promise inviting him to believe on Christ. But Unbelief is the sin of men, yea it is in a manner all sin, as it seals upon a man his other sins, and causeth the wrath of God to abide upon him, John 3.36. Yea, it is the great aggravation of all sins in this respect, that they might have been all pardon'd, on such easie terms, as Believing in the Lord Jesus Christ.

We may now bespeak sinners, as Naamans servants bespake him: If the Prophet had commanded thee some great matter, wouldst thou not have done it, &c. So, if God had not requir'd some great matter of us, for our Salvation, should we not willingly have done it? But 'tis a very easie thing, that he requireth us to do. The Word is nigh us, as the Apostle shews, Rom. 10.8. We have nothing to do, or suffer, for the appeasing of Gods Wrath, or for the satisfying of his Justice, or for purchasing the heavenly inheritance. The Son of God, in our flesh, hath done and suffered all; and we have nothing to do, but to receive him, as he is freely tendred and offer'd to us. The Feast is prepared, without any cost or care of ours; and we are call'd to partake of it, with a sure promise of welcome.

All this while I forget not, what a controversie there is among the Learned, about the extent of Christs death, but I dare not touch with it; and the rather, because it no way concerns me, in the main design of this discourse. I have no controversie, but with the frowardness and willingness of sinners, who are willing to make God the Author, both of their sin, and condemnation; and pretend, That if all men would believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, as they are requir'd, they should not however be saved. These are the men I now deal with, and these I desire to try, (whatever is controverted amongst the more Learned) whether this be not a truth, viz. That Christ hath satisfied so farr, as they shall be saved, if they believe: And to these I say, if they dye in their sins, it is not upon the account of Christs not dying for them, but only for their not-believing on him. And for this I appeal to the whole tenor of Scripture, and in particular to John 3.16. where the gift of Christ is common, but the efficacy of it limited to believing. And good cause why, since Christ dyed for none, to save them whether they believe or not.

'Tis neither my design, nor desire, to dispute with any, but with unreasonable and wicked men. And therefore I shall take no notice, to what is commonly said, viz. That Christ dyed in the stead, and sustain'd the persons of all; unto whom the benefit of his Death was intended. Only I say, If a sum be paid, sufficient to redeem so many more poor Captives, provided they shall all their days serve him that is their Redeemer; are they not all redeem'd, thou some should refuse the condition, and choose to be Slaves still? However, this I affirm, The extent of Christs Death is such, and so great as I never read, or heard of any one, that perished in his sin, because Christ had paid [not?] price for his Redemption. For the tenor of the Gospel, I gave it before, and I have never learnt any other, than, That he that believeth shall be saved; and he that believeth not, shall be damned. Let others dispute, for whom Christ dyed, (I cannot hinder them) I am sure Christ never suffered or satisfied for any, so as they shall have the saving benefits of his death, without laying hold on him by a lively Faith. And I shall be as sure, on the other side, That whosoever shall believe on the Lord Jesus, with all his heart, he shall be saved by him. And this I take to be sound Doctrine, that may be safely preached to all, and every one, without exception, viz. Thou, O man, whoever thou art, Christ dyed for thee; and if thou believe on him, with all thine heart, as God hath commanded thee, thou shalt be saved. In this we preach the tenor of the Gospel, as you have it before; and he that thus preacheth Christ, will give little encouragement to sinners, except to repent, and turn to God; and so all sinners should by all means be encouraged. But here is no encouragement to impenitency, or unbelief, because there's no promise of any benefit by Christs death, but only to true believers, and penitents. This then I resolve, That if I, or any other, dye in our sins, it is only, because we believe not on the Son of God. For of a truth, I know not how to clear and justifie God, (as I desire to do) if any thing done, or not done on his part, be it, that shuts us out from having eternal Life. I am (I confess) altogether for this, That a wicked, proud, filthy, evil heart of unbelief, and nothing else, stands in the way of mens Salvation; and if that be once taken away, there will be no other hinderance. I have such thoughts of God, as I cannot think, be he hath done his part, so as nothing will be wanting, if we are but heartily willing to do ours.

I could indeed say (what is sufficient in this case) That no man knows, or can know, (supposing Christs death to be so confin'd, as some will have it) Whether he be one of those, for whom Christ dyed not. And therefore if it were an adventure, a man had better run the hazard, than do worse, by willful shipwrecking himself, through final impenitency and unbelief. As a man (one would think) should not refuse to cast the Dice for his Life, though he knew for certain, that some or other must dye; and he cannot be sure, that he shall not be one of them Only (I say still) there's no hazard in believing on Christ.

But in this I desire to be resolv'd, Whether he that believes not on Christ offered in the Gospel, doth not refuse a fair offer of somewhat that he might have had, if he had believed? This is no Position, but only a Quære. If it be answered, That Unbelievers are damn'd for not obeying Gods Command, and for not believing his Promise, I grant, it is so, and their condemnation, upon that account, is most just. Only give me leave to think still, That such refuse, what they might have receiv'd, and so are guilty, as they were, who made light of the invitation, Mat. 22.5. and went their ways. They might have shar'd in the wedding Feast, as well as others, if they would have come. And therefore I wish all, whom it may concern, to be very wary, that poor ignorant Souls, who are too much bent, and set upon undoing themselves, may have no occasion given them of so doing. For what danger can there be, in saying indifferently, what Scripture saith often in terminus, and so pressing all to believe on him? Herein they will remove a stumbling-block which otherwise many will set up, to cast themselves down. But there is no occasion of stumbling, unless they preach and teach, what they never learn'd from Scripture, viz. That Christ gave himself a ransome for all, live as they list, and do as they please, their Redemption is purchas'd and they are sure to be saved however. This indeed would be a false Doctrine, with a witness, yea, and a vengeance too upon many. But no poor Souls will ever complain of their Ministers, for telling them the good news of Christs dying for them, so long as they tell them withall, How the Death of Christ will be effectual to them, and not otherwise, viz. by a sound, and a working Faith.

For the Question about absolute and conditional Redemption, I am not wholly ignorant of it: But I still resolve to wave all controversies of that nature, and only reason the case with poor Souls, that they may not cast themselves away in their perverse disputings, about they know not what; and in their wilfull neglecting of that Salvation, which they are sure to obtain, in a way of believing, and obeying God, and not otherwise. To these I say again, that which is the Word of God, who cannot lye: Let them repent of their unlawful deeds, deny all ungodliness, and worldly lusts, lead sober, and righteous, and godly lives; and therein give a sure evidence and proof of their reall closing with, and accepting of Christ by Faith, that they shall be as certainly saved, as any that are not in Heaven. For this is indeed Gospel, and this is the Word of Grace, as they may easily read, if they will but open their Bibles. But they may turn over their Bibles long enough, or ever they find any Text to this purpose, That Christ dyed to save them, though they never believe. Paul and Silas told the Jaylor, Act. 16.31. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved. They never scrupled, Whether he were one of them, for whom Christ dyed; but preached to him the Gospel, as they had received it of the Lord: And he doing, as he was commanded, had forthwith as much as he desired, or needed.

Before I close up this, I shall add one thing more. Is there any man alive, of whom any other can, or dare say, This is one of them, for whom Christ dyed not? If there be not, then make no difference, where thou knowest none; but be wise according to that which is written. This we may all safely resolve upon, We shall never suffer at Gods hand, for our ignorance, or neglect of any thing, that God hath not revealed in his Word. The things that are revealed, belong unto us, &c. These we are to believe, and obey, and so live. And if there be any man excepted in the Act of Pardon, except Unbelievers, and that only for their unbelief, it is more than I ever read of, or could learn by reading the Bible.
Thomas Ford, Autokatakritos, or, The Sinner Condemned of Himself (London: Printed for Edward Brewster, and are to be sold by Giles Widowes, at the Maiden-head, over against the Half-Moon, in Aldersgate-street, near Jewen-street, 1668), 46–56.


July 8, 2010

Robert Jenison (c.1584–1652) on the Death of Christ and God's Will

4. Christ is made Redemption, but is that of all? no.―Thou wast slaine and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and Nation. Revel. 5.9. Not all nations, but some out of all, according to that of Paul, explaining whom hee meanes by Vessels of mercy, which God had afore prepared unto Glory, even us (saith he) whom hee hath called, not of the Jewes onely, but of the Gentiles: he saith not all us Jews, or all us Gentiles, but us of the Jewes and Gentiles.

Objection. This is against the doctrine of our Church, which tells us that the offering of Christ made upon the crosse, is a full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice, oblation and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world. I answer, no: The Church indeed useth the phrase of Scripture, but not against the sense of Scripture, whose meaning therefore is the same with that of the Scripture; for our Church doth tell us, that (as it is not lawfull for the Church to ordaine any thing that is contrary to Gods Word, so, neither) may it so expound one place of Scripture that it be repugnant to another. Therefore our Church useth not the Scripture phrase so as to bee repugnant to those other places named, or yet to itselfe which (besides much more that might bee said) in the 17. article, tells us, That God hath decreed by his Councell secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation, those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of mankind. So that, seeing to deliver from curse and damnation is the effect of Christs death according to the everlasting purpose of God. Therefore Christ hath not redeemed all mankind, so as to deliver them from curse and damnation, seeing his everlasting purpose and constant decree was to deliver from curse & damnation, not all Mankind, but those whom hee hath chosen in Christ out of mankind. Redemption, in Gods purpose and intention, reacheth not beyond the decree.

Our Church then doth not deny universal redemption: for we truly say with it and with Scripture, Christ died for all. Yet it denies that equall and universall Application of this redemption, whose event is suspended, & hangs either on the libertie of mans will, or on any condition in man (which God will not work.) We deny not, but say that Christ paid a price for all, but such as is to bee applied to each by the meanes of faith, which is not of all, and not by the very act or fact of his oblation, so that, faith being presupposed, & comming betweene, all and each are capable of salvation, and they are such as, beleeving, shall be saved.

Objection. But doth not the Scripture invite all, and make promises to all, and that truly, not fainedly? Math. 11.28. 1 Tim. 2.4. Rom. 11.32:

I answer, there is none but may truly and seriously be invited to partake of the pardon of sinne and of life by Christs death, upon the condition of Faith. Bee it knowne unto you, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sinnes, And by him all that beleeve are justified &c. And elsewhere, To him give all the prophets witnesse, that through his name, whosoever beleeveth in him, shall receive remission of sinnes. Now this is grounded on the merit of Christs death: wee being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousnesse for the remission of sins &c.

In this regard and upon this ground, if I were among the Barbarous heathen, among Jewes, Turks and Infidells, I (if I could speake to be understood of them) would first endeavour to let them know Christ and his benefits, and then I would seriously invite them all to beleeve on him, yea and would assuredly in Christs name, promise unto all true penitents and beleevers among them, pardon of sinne and life eternall, having (though I be no Apostle) warrant for the same from our Saviour himselfe, saying, Go yee into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature, hee that beleeveth and is baptized, shall be saved: but he that beleeveth not shall bee damned. And I would ground such exhortations and promises upon the merits of Christs death, the fruit whereof doth actually belong to such onely as beleeve, as is said: So Gods word doth teach us, whose will (as wee see in his word) doth immutably tye and conjoyne together repentance and pardon, faith and salvation, and contrariwise. It excludes from pardon the impenitent, and from salvation the unbeleever, upon which ground I say, if Pharaoh obey and beleeve, he shall be saved: If the Ninevites beleeve they shall not perish. There's no falshood nor mockery here, seeing the promise is conditionall.

And though it be said by some, that God inviting all, such is his heart inwardly as he hath manifested himselfe outwardly, and that he beares the same mind to us, which hee shewed to us in his sonne Christ, who is the image as of his essence, so of his will, and that wee must not thinke he shewes himself kind outwardly, and yet inwardly hates us.

I answer, Men must not be too bold to inferre that God should equivocate and deale hypocritically with men, whilest hee invites and calls them to that whereunto hee effectually works not. Though Jesuiticall equivocations and Reservations doe falsify and destroy the Proposition uttered, yet Gods secret decrees never destroy or falsify his will revealed; seeing as is said, Gods will in his word doth connexe and tye together the end and the meanes, repentance and pardon, faith and salvation, life (eternall) and Godlinesse, glory and vertue (Both wuch and all things pertaining to both, his divine power doth give unto us.) Neither is the truth of this connexe by any decree of God, or sinne of man broken.

And as for Gods will, whereof Christ is both the Image and the interpreter, we may see it declared by himselfe, in these words. First, saith hee, All that the Father giveth mee, shall come to mee: and him that commeth to mee, I will in no wise cast out; then hee ads immediately, for I came down from heaven, not to doe mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Fathers will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up againe at the Last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Sonne and beleeveth on him may have everlasting life. Lo, Gods will in Christ is not to save any but such as beleeve (I speake not know of infants) & all such he will save; God then wills mens salvation in willing their faith and Repentance: and so he wills not (yea and sweares hee wills not, or hath no pleasure in) the death of the wicked, in that hee wills not their sinne and impenitency: Therefore its said, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turne from his way and live: (thats it especially which God hath pleasure in.) Therefore it is added, Turne ye, turne yee from your evill wayes, for why will yee die O house of Israel? as if he had said, if ye will not turn, yee must assuredly dye: I have inseparably conjoyned these two together, impenitency (persisted in) and death. The truth is, in that place of Ezekiel, The people conceiving that evills did befall them not for their owne, but for their parents sinnes, saying The Fathers have eaten soure grapes, and the childrens teeth are set on edg, the Lord there Ezek. 18. Where this same doctrine and point is handied, sweares that―the soule which sinneth shall dye (whether the soule of the Father or of the sonne) and then the sonne shall not beare the iniquitie of the Father―but if the wicked will turne from all his sinnes―hee shall surely live, and not die. And then it followes, have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should dye? and not that hee should return from his wayes and live? cast away from you all your transgressions--for why will ye die, O house of Israell.

God therefore answering their objection, who thought themselves punished for their parents sins, denies the same, and tells them it is for their owne sinnes; and whereas they thus spake, if our transgressions and our sinnes bee upon us, and we pine away in them, how should wee then live? The answer in effect is, by repentance; unto which God accordingly exhorts them, saying and swearing, as I live, I have no pleasure &c. as formerly; so he sweares, he had rather they should repent and live (seeing these two are inseparable, and without repentance, no life) then persist in impenitency (whilest they shuffled off their sinnes to their Fathers) and so perish: (which two also are inseparable:) so that if they persist in impenitency, his will then is they shall perish. God doth truly will the death of impenitent sinners, who will deny it? and when he wills not their death, it is as much as if hee had said hee will not their sinne and impenitency: but if they would goe on in sinne, hee must and did will their death. Therefore he saith, turne ye, turne yee, why will ye dye? i. Why will ye run upon your owne death? and yet hee assures them by oath they dyed not but for their sinne, though they thought otherwise.

So, on the other hand, God wills mens salvatiō, in willing their faith and repentance, & so he wills that all men should be saved; and so wills the salvation even of such as perish; but how? first by approving it if it were done, but not by decreeing the extent, not yet so as to worke it by speciall and effectuall grace. The obedience and faith, suppose of Pharaoh, had beene a thing pleasing to God: but it was not a thing to bee given by God from Gods decree. But for those that are saved hee so wills their salvation that hee decrees the same, and according to his decree, infallibly produceth that same, according to that of Christ, All that the father giveth me, shall come unto me, and of God, I have loved thee with an everlasting love, Therefore with loving kindnesse have I drawne thee. The one is according to his will revealed, his signifying will, the other according to his secret will, or the will of his good pleasure; which ancient distinction of the shooles must not bee so sleighted, or so easily cryed downe; and our Church doth hold it, whilest in the 17. Article it useth first these words, hee hath constantly decreed by his Counsell secret to us: and these againe in the end of that article, In our doings that will of God is to be followed which we have expressly declared unto us in the word of God. So that it would not impertinently be thought on what God wills by the will of his precept, and what hee wills by the will of his decree: what Gods will is to mee concerning that hee would have me doe, and what he wills with himselfe in his owne secret Counsell; what hee wills at my hand as my duty, what hee will bestow upon me freely as a blessing. God seriously wills me to doe my duty, and shewes me what would bee acceptable to him, as namely to pray for all men; and to make no exception of any, but to further, every mans salvation: but, saith Austen [Augustine], if the Church were certaine who (in particular) were predestined to goe into everlasting fire with the devill, It would as little pray for them (though yet living on earth) as it doth for him.

2. God so farre wills the salvation of all, that hee seriously exhorts sinners to repent, and accordingly in his Gospell gives them so much grace, knowledge and good motions and so far enables them thereunto, that there is a true fault in them that repent not; that is, there is either contempt or neglect of the Gospell, and so indeed, besides their other sinnes, a new fault against the Gospell, whence their condemnation becomes the greater, and the condition of such as never heard of Christ more tolerable at the day of judgement then theirs. Therefore (besides that God gave men power sufficient in Adam to doe what he requires and that men have disabled themselves to doe that which hee otherwise hath right to require) I say God, upon the forenamed ground, may seriously invite all, exhort all, & require of them that, which hee gives them so much grace to performe, that it is out of their owne deficiency if they performe it not: & withall may punish them justly for not doing it their perishing is of themselves: Man is never punished but for his owne sinne. Onely God gives not that powerfull grace to them (as hee is not bound) by which (as depending on his election) infallibly they might convert.

Here is then the mystery: Though God invite all, and promise life to all upon the condition of faith, and that promise be grounded, as is granted, upon the merits of Christs death, yet the fruit of Christs death doth actually belong only to such as beleeve. The price paid for all, and which shall certainely bee to the salvation of beleevers, yet profits not all, because faith is not given to all (as not the meanes of faith) but to the Elect onely.

We therefore preach and teach that Christ dyed for all, so as that all and each, may by the vertue of Christs death, through faith (the Gospell once comming to them) may I say obtaine remission of sin and life; and so Christs death hath purchased a possibility of salvation for all men, if all men can beleeve.

But wee say againe that Christ so dyed for the Elect that, by vertue of the merit of his death (which was specially intended for them according to Gods eternall decree) they not onely might, but should infallibly attaine faith here, and obtaine life eternall hereafter, and that without any co[m]pulsion of their wills.

Hence it comes to passe (though the particularitie of Gods promises be objected as an odious doctrine and comfortlesse) that the promises of the Gospell are of two sorts. 1 Conditionall, and of the end which is salvation, requiring faith and repentance; and so Gods promises are generall, and hee seriously invites all, and mocks none who performe the condition. 2. Absolute, and of the Meanes: whereby, as he absolutely, (and without condition required of us) promised Christ himselfe, Gen. 3.15. so also both the outward, and also inward effectual Meanes, as the working of faith, writing his Lawes in our hearts, putting his feare in our hearts that wee depart not from him, &c.

Which, as they depend not on any condition in man, but only on Gods free, absolute and immutable decree, so doe they particularly and specially belong to the Elect, and not to all. Let any shew me a promise in Scripture whereby God hath promised to give faith universally to all without exception. But who these in particular are, the effects of Gods eternall love, manifested in time on and in them, doe and will shew and declare.
Robert Jenison, Two treatises: the first concerning Gods Certaine performance of his conditional Promises, as touching the Elect, or, A Treatise of Gods most free and powerfull grace. Lately published without the Authours privitie, and printed corruptly, by the name and title of Solid Comfort for Sound Christians. The second, Concerning the extent of Christ's death and love, now added to the former. With an Additionall thereunto. (London: Printed by E. G. for L. Blaikelocke at his shop at the Sugar-Loafe next Temple-Bar in Fleete-streete, 1642), 213–235.

Men of Mark
In his 1625 preface to Jenison's book [The Christian's Apparelling by Christ (London: 1625), xii], [Richard] Sibbes referred to Jenison as a "godly Minister, whom for his soundnesse in Judgement, faithfulnesse in friendship, painfulnesse in his calling, & integrity of his life, I have much esteemed ever since our first acquaintance in the Universitie.
Quoted in Mark E. Dever, Richard Sibbes: Puritanism and Calvinism in Late Elizabethan and Early Stuart England (Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press, 2000), 54.

July 7, 2010

William Lorimer (1640–1722) on the Theology and History of the Middle-Way Controversy

(4thly.) Yet by some Passages in his Letter [a yet unknown critic], we guess that he Points at the controversie about the extent of Christs Death, which hath been amongst Protestant Divines since the Reformation, or since the time that Beza and Piscator began to write on that Head after the Reformation.

And if that be the thing he Points at without naming it, we will, First, Give the true State of the Controversie. Secondly, Declare briefly what our Opinion is, as to that matter. And for the State of the Controversie:

First, There are some Divines in the World, who are said to hold that Christ died equally for all men, Elect and Non-elect; and that God on the account of Christs Death, gives a common sufficient Grace to them all, whereby they may all (if they will) apply to themselves the Vertue of Christs Death, and thereby obtain Justification and Salvation. But that Christ did not dye for the Elect, out of any special Love to them above others; and that God through Christ doth not give any Special Effectual, Determining Grace to the Elect more than to the Non-elect. This is the Arminian extream.

Secondly, There are other Divines, who hold that Christ died for the Elect only and exclusively of all others, and that he died not for any of the Non-elect in any proper tolerable true sense; that he no more died for any of those Men, who are not elected to Eternal Life, than he died for the Devil; and that such Men have no more to do with the Satisfaction and Merits of Christ, than the Devil hath. This is the other extream. And we suppose that this is that which our Author accounts the Orthodox side, and that he is of this side himself.

But Thirdly, Between these two extream Opinions, there is a Golden mean, there is a Middle-way, which hath been many hundred years ago, and still is expressed in this form of Words, That Christ died only for the Elect Sinners of Mankind both Sufficiently and Efficaciously, but that he died for the Non-elect only Sufficiently but not Efficaciously. This is the State of the Controversie.

2. If, Secondly, It be now demanded Whether we be for this Middle-way or not? In Answer to that demand we say, That there are a great many of us, who are Calumniated by our Author as corrupters of the Gospel, by holding a Conditional Covenant, and tho' we do not doubt, but we all agree in the foresaid General form of Words, and in admitting the Distinction of Christs dying for the Elect Efficaciously, and for the Reprobate only Sufficiently; yet it may be, that when we come to explain what we particularly mean by Christs dying Sufficiently only for the Non-elect, there will be some little Difference amongst us in some of our Notions and Expressions, and possibly some of us may not in effect differ from our Author, further than in the manner of our Expression, and in the Method of our Conceptions and Notions.

But (1.) We are all of one Mind and of one Faith with respect to Christs dying Efficaciously for the Elect only, and we hope also that our Author himself agrees with us herein: Which is the main thing wherein our Agreement is necessary. And then,

(2.) As to the Non-Elect, especially those of them to whom the Gospel is preached; we hope all of us do and will agree to this, That Christ died for them sufficiently in such a sense as he did not dye for the fallen Angels, so that if they should believe in Christ and repent of their sins, as they are bound to do, according to the tenour and terms of the Gospel, they should be saved through Christ; and not perish as they do by persevering in Unbelief and Impenitence: And being thus far agreed, we hope we shall keep in the unity of the Spirit in the bond of Peace; and as to any little difference of Judgment that may remain, we shall bear with one another in Love, after the example of the famous Synod of Dort, whereof the Members differed in the Synod upon this very point, and yet they bore with one another, and wisely agreed against the Arminian extreme, as most manifestly appears from the Acts of that Synod. And we would hope also that our Author and those of his way, will not be against this mutual forbearance, when they consider that the said middle-way was not only tolerated but even approved by the Synod of Dort, in that the suffrages which expressly asserted it, were approved; and that long before, it was held by our first Reformers both at home and abroad. For instance, the Universality of Christs death in the sense before explained, was believed and professed by the Blessed Martyrs Latimer and Hooper, in England, and also by the Church of England her self; and by Luther in Germany, and Calvin at Geneva, as shall be proved by their own words, to be seen in their writings extant at this day, if any have the confidence to deny it. At present we shall only give our Brethren to understand, First, that Luther on John 3.16. God so loved the World, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever, &c. says [Latin omitted] Now truly, thou and all men must confess, that the whole race of Mankind is called the World, comprehending in one, all men in general and every man in particular; do'st thou believe therefore that thou art a man? or if thou canst neither believe nor know that, put thy hand in thy bosome, or feel thy Nose, make an experiment whether thou hast not all thy Members full of flesh and blood, as other men? Wherefore then wouldst thou exclude thy self out of this word (World), since Christ expressly declares that God did not send his Son to the Virgin Mary only, nor gave him to Peter or Paul, but to the World, that all might lay claim to him, even as many as are called the Sons of Man, &c.

Secondly, That Calvin on 1 John 2.2. says, [Latin omitted] 'I confess that saying to be true, That Christ suffered sufficiently for the whole World, but efficaciously for the Elect only.'

And on Rom. 5.18. [Latin omitted] 'The Apostle (saith Calvin) Makes Grace common to all Men, because it is exposed to all Men, not that it is really and effectually extended unto all. For tho Christ suffered for the sins of the whole World, and through the goodness of God, he is indifferently offered unto all; yet all do not apprehend or receive him.' Here is that which is called the middle-way owned by Luther first, afterwards by Calvin as plainly as can be expressed in so few words. Whereupon we demand, Did out First Reformers, Luther and Calvin, by this, Corrupt the Old, and Preach a New Gospel, or not? If they did corrupt the old true Gospel, and preach a new false Gospel, Then (1.) We owe no great thanks to them, or respect to their Memory, for their Service in Reforming the Church.

(2.) If we grant this to be true of Luther and Calvin, we betray the Reformation, and yield to the Papists that which their hearts do most earnestly desire, that Luther and Calvin may be accounted Two imposters and Deceivers, who deluded the People, corrupted the Christian Religion, and Preached a new Gospel to the World. For our parts, we dare not thus far betray the Protestant Cause to the Papists; rather than do so, we maintain that Luther and Calvin by holding universal Redemption in the sense explained, did not corrupt the Christian Religion, nor preach a new Gospel. And if they did not, then those amongst us who hold universal Redemption as they held it, do no more corrupt Religion, nor preach a new Gospel than they did; and consequently it is a vile Calumny and Reproach cast upon us (and through us upon our First Reformers,) that by the middle-way aforesaid we corrupt Religion, and preach a new Gospel.
William Lorimer, An Apology for the Ministers Who Subscribed Only Unto the Stating of the Truths and Errours in Mr. William's Book (London: Printed for John Lawrence, at the Angel in the Poultry, 1694), 191–192.

Freedom After Ejection

William Bates (1625-1699) on Despising Redeeming Mercy

"4. What an high provocation is it to despise Redeeming Mercy, and to defeat that infinite Goodness which hath been at such Expense for our Recovery? The Son of God hath emptied all the Treasures of his Love, to purchase Deliverance for guilty and wretched Captives; He hath past through so many Pains and Thorns to come and offer it to them; He sollicites them to receive Pardon and Liberty, upon the conditions of Acceptance and Amendment, which are absolutely necessary to qualifie them for Felicity: Now if they slight the Benefit, and renounce their Redemption; if they fell themselves again under the Servitude of Sin, and gratifie the Devil with a new Conquest over them; what a bloody Cruelty is this to their own Souls, and a vile Indignity to the Lord of Glory? And are there any Servile Spirits so charm'd with their Misery, and so in love with their Chains, who will stoop under their cruel Captivity, to be reserved for eternal Punishment? Who can believe it? But alas, Examples are numerous and ordinary: The most by a Folly is prodigious as their Ingratitude, prefer their Sins before their Saviour, and love that which as the only just Object of Hatred, and hate Him who is the most worthy Object of Love. 'Tis a most astonishing Consideration, that Love should perswade Christ to die for Men, and that they should Trample upon his Blood, and choose rather to die by themselves, than to live by Him. That God should be so easie to forgive, and Man so hard to be forgiven. This is a Sin of that transcendent height, that all the Abominations of Sodom and Gomorrah, are not equal to it. This exasperates Mercy, that dear and tender Attribute; the only Advocate in God's Bosom for us. This make the Judge irreconcileable. The rejecting of Life upon the gracious terms of the Gospel, makes the Condemnation of Men most just, certain, and heavy.

1. Most Just: For when Christ hath performed what was necessary for the Expiation of Sin, and hath opened the Throne of Grace, which was before shut against us, and by this God hath declared how willing he is to save Sinners; if they are wilful to be damned, and frustrate the blessed Methods of Grace, 'tis most equal they should inherit their own choice: They judge themselves unworthy of eternal Life. Conscience will justify the severest Doom against them.

2. It makes their Condemnation certain and final. The Sentence of the Law is reversible by an Appeal to an higher Court; but that of the Gospel against the refusers of Mercy will remain in its full force for ever. He that believes not, is condemn'd already, John 3. 18. 'Tis some Consolation to a Malefactor, that the Sentence is not pronouced against him: but an Unbeliever hath no respite. The Gospel assures the sincere Believer, that he shall [not] enter into Condemnation, to prevent his fears of an after Sentence; but it denounces a present doom against those who reject it. The Wrath of God abides on them. Obstinate Infidelity sets beyond all possibility of Pardon: there is no Sacrifice for that Sin. Salvation it self cannot save the impenitent Infidel: For he excludes the only means whereby Mercy is conveyed. How desperate then is the case of such a Sinner? To what Sanctuary will he fly? All the other Attributes condemn him, Holiness excites Justice, and Justice awakens Power for his Destruction; and if Mercy interpose not between him and Ruin, he must perish irrecoverably. Whoever loves not the Lord Christ, is Anathema Maranatha; He is under an irrevocable Curse, which the Redeemer will confirm at his coming.

3. Wilful neglect of Redeeming Mercy aggravates the Sentence, and brings an extraordinary Damnation upon Sinners. Besides the doom of the Law which continues in its vigour against Transgressors, the Gospels adds a more heavy one against the impenitent, because he believes not in the Name of the only begotten Son of God, John 3. 18. Infidelity is an outrage not to a Man or an Angel, but to the Eternal Son. For the Redemption of Souls is reckoned as part of his Reward, He shall see of the travel of his Soul and be satisfied, Isa. 53. Those therefore who spurn at Salvation, deny him the Honour of his Sufferings; and are guilty of the defiance of his Love, of the contempt of his Clemency, of the provocation of the most sensible and severe Attribute when 'tis incensed. This is to strike him at the Heart, and to kick against his Bowels. This increases the Anguish of his Sufferings, and imbitters the Cup of his Passion. This renews his Sorrows, and makes his Wounds bleed afresh. Dreadful Impiety! that exceeds the guilt of the Jews; they once kill'd Him being in his humble inglorious State, but this is a daily crucifying him now glorified. Ungrateful Wretches! that refuse to bring glory to their Redeemer, and Blessedness to themselves: (g) that rather chuse that the Accuser should triumph in their Misery, than their Saviour rejoyce in their Felicity. This is the great Condemnation, that Christ came into the World to save Men from Death, and they refuse the Pardon, John 3. 19. 'Tis an aggravation of Sin above what the Devils are capable of; for Pardon was never offered to those rebellious Spirits. In short, so deadly a malignity there is in it, that it poysons the Gospel it self, and turns the sweetest Mercy into the sorest Judgment. The Sun of Righteousness who is a reviving Life to the penitent Believer, is a consuming Fire to the obdurate. How much more tolerable had been the condition of such Sinners, if saving Grace had never appeared unto Men, or they had never heard of it? For the degrees of Wrath shall be in proportion to the Riches of neglected goodness. The refusing Life from Christ, makes us guilty of his Death. And when he shall come in his Glory, and be visible to all that pierced Him, what Vengeance will be the Portion of those who despised the Majesty of his Person, the Mystery of his Compassions and Sufferings? Those that lived and died in the darkness of Heathenism, shall have a cooler Climate in Hell, than those who neglected the great Salvation."
William Bates, "The Harmony of the Divine Attributes in Contriving Man's Redemption," in The Works of the Late Reverend and Learned William Bates (London: Printed for B. Aylmer, at the Three Pigeons, against the Royal Exchange in Cornhill: And J. Robinson, at the Golden Lion in St. Paul's Church-Yard, 1700), 170-171.


July 6, 2010

William Bates (1625–1699) on Richard Baxter's (1615–1691) Middle Way

In some points of modern Controversie he judiciously chose the middle way, and advised young Divines to follow it. His reverence of the Divine Purity, made him very shy and jealous of any Doctrine that seem'd to reflect a blemish and stain upon it. He was a clear asserter of the soveraign Freeness, and infallible Efficacy of Divine Grace in the Conversion of Souls. In a Sermon reciting the Words of the Covenant of Grace, I will put my fear into their hearts, and they shall not depart from me; he observed the Tenor of it was, I will, and you shall. Divine Grace makes the rebellious Will obedient, but does not make the Will to be no Will. By the Illumination of the Mind, the Will is inclin'd to Obedience, according to the Words of our Saviour, All that have heard and learn'd of the Father come to me. He preach'd that the Death of Christ was certainly effectual for all the Elect to make them partakers of Grace and Glory, and that it was so far beneficial to all Men, that they are not left in the same desperate State with the fallen Angels, but are made capable of Salvation by the Grace of the Gospel: not capable as Efficients to convert themselves, but as Subjects to receive saving Grace. He did so far honour the sincerity of God, as entirely to believe his Will declared in his Word: he would not interpret the Promises of the Gospel in a less gracious sense than God intended them: Therefore if Men finally perish, 'tis not for want of Mercy in God, nor Merits in Christ, but for their willful refusing Salvation.
William Bates, "A Sermon Preached at the Funeral of the Reverend and Excellent Divine Mr. Ruchard Baxter," in The Works of the Late Reverend and Learned William Bates (London: Printed for B. Aylmer, at the Three Pigeons, against the Royal Exchange in Cornhill: And J. Robinson, at the Golden Lion in St. Paul's Church-Yard, 1700), 818.