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.

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