February 26, 2012

Key Dates in John Howe's Life

1630 - born in Loughborough
1634-42 in Ireland at his dad's ejection
1647 - to Cambridge
1648 - to Oxford
1650 - fellow at Magdalen
1652 - ordained
1654 - minister at Great Torrington, Devon
1655 - married (five children)
1656 - domestic chaplain to Cromwell
1658 - Savoy Conference
1658 - Oliver died; H served Richard briefly
1658-62 - back at Torrington
1660 – Man’s Creation in a Holy but Mutable State
1662 - ejected from the Church of England
1662-71 - itinerant ministry
1668 – Blessedness of the Righteous
1671-75 Ireland - personal chaplain to Viscount Massareene of Antrim
1674 – Delighting in God
1675 - London
1675-1705 - minister of Haberdasher's Hall/ Silver St
1675 - Living Temple, Part I
1677 - Merchants Lecturer - to replace Thomas Manton
1677 – The Reconcileableness of God’s Prescience of the Sins of Men with the Wisdom and Sincerity of His Counsels, Exhortations and Whatsoever Means He Uses to Prevent Them
1681-85 - persecution intensified - over to the Netherlands.
1681 – Of Charity in Reference to Other Men’s Sins
1684 – The Redeemer’s Tears
1685-87 - in Netherlands - lecturing; Got to know William of Orange
1687 - back to England
1689 - Humble Requests
1689-91 - working on 'Happy Union'
1690s - regular ministry
1693 – The Carnality of Religious Contention
1699-1702 - Occasional Conformity debate
1701 – Consideration … concerning Occasional Conformity
1702 – Living Temple, Part II
1705 - died

Taken from David P. Field's chapter "John Howe and Moderate Presbyterianism" in ‘Rigide Calvinisme in a Softer Dresse’: The Moderate Presbyterianism of John Howe

February 25, 2012

John More (d. 1592) on Christ's Sufficient Death for the World


"Here then you see the Son of God, taking upon him our nature hath borne and overcome for us whatsoever God of his justice and truth can lay against us. And here behold the depth of the mystery of God’s eternal wisdom, his mercy and his justice joined together: his mercy in forgiving our sins, his justice in punishing our sins: his justice that would not suffer one of our sins unpunished, but even with his heavy curse doth reward them: & yet his mercy toward his elect, that he doth not punish their sins in themselves, but layeth them all upon the shoulders of his own dear son for us. Here behold the wonderful wisdom of God, who in saving of his children, yet omitteth no part of his justice, but punisheth their sin even to the full with that self same punishment which he himself hath appointed: & this which he hath suffered is a full recompense for all our sins, according as the Holy Ghost allegeth, ‘If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father (1. Jn. 2. 1, 2), even Jesus Christ the righteous, and he is the propitiation or ransom for our sins, so much as is sufficient, & well pleasing the Lord our God, it is a sweet smelling sacrifice before our God (Eph. 5. 2). This then is sufficient for the sins of the whole world. But here yet ariseth a doubt, for seeing Jesus Christ hath sustained and borne the punishment of our sins, so much as the sins of the whole world deserveth, it should seem then that all the world should be saved: but we see the clean contrary (Matth. 7. 13) even by the testimony of Jesus Christ himself, who saith, that many run to damnation, and few in comparison to salvation. How can this be then that Christ hath satisfied the punishment of all our sins? True it is that Jesus Christ hath borne whatsoever is due for all our sins, & that which he hath borne is also sufficient punishment for all the sin of the earth, and yet as true it is also that a great number are damned notwithstanding, and that because they have not the hand of faith to take some part of this recompense for their sins. For the blessed word of God, which setteth forth unto us Jesus Christ a full ransom of our sins, doth also give us to understand, that none are benefited to salvation, saving only those, which do believe. ‘So God loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, to the end that all that believe in him should not perish, but have everlasting life’ (Jn. 3. 16): he saith not, all the world; but, all that believe: he saith on the contrariwise, whosoever doth not believe is damned (vs. 18. 36)."
John More, Three Godly and Fruitful Sermons (London: Printed by John Legatt, Printer of the University of Cambridge, 1594), 56-58. Some spelling has been updated.

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One can see that More, a classical-moderate Calvinist, takes an unlimited reading of the world in 1 John 2:2 and John 3:16, and then follows an Ursinus-like trajectory (as stated in the Heidelberg Catechism) in reply to the double payment argument, saying some perish because they do not believe, not that they were never died for (i.e. the later Owenic/Turretinian trajectory). He's also following the classic Lombardian Formula in his understanding of Christ's sufficiency.

Credit to Alan Clifford for the find.

February 24, 2012

Stephen Strehle on Calvin's View of the Extent of the Atonement

Although I am not impressed with Strehle's dissertation, as he gets some things wrong and some things right, I will include this quote on my blog for reference purposes:
Now that the theological system of Calvin has been outlined with respect to his soteriology, his specific statements on the extent of the atonement, as was the case with Luther, need not be checked, since his system demands an unlimited interpretation of Christ's redemptive work. Individualistic salvation is not frozen to the even of the cross, but relates to the victorious power of the present redeeming Priest-King, in being baptized into His efficacious being. The extent of atonement is discovered, not in the intention of an event, but in the extent of the Savior's power. The atonement is unlimited, because Christ is the Savior only by virtue of the fact that He has gained the lordship over all hostile forces within the divine economy. Therefore, Calvin rejects magna illa absurditas, that Christ died sufficiently for all, but only efficiently for the elect, concurring with the witness of John, that Christ is a propitiation for the sins of the whole world.1 Christ did not just die for part of the world, but for the whole human race,2 even for that part which perishes.3

Although many Calvinists consider the total pattern of Calvin's theology, especially considering his doctrine of predestination, to fit better within a limited conception of atonement,1 Calvin himself certainly does not recognize these implications. On the other hand, Amyraldianism espouses the exact opposite conclusion with respect to Calvin, pointing out that the division between the universal and special redemptive wills of God in Calvin's theology leads to the unlimited conception of atonement.2 The fact of the matter is that predestination and the volitional composition of God only become associated with the debate in a subsequent era and in actuality should be considered separate issues. Certainly, Luther and Calvin, who both strongly adhere to the biblical doctrine of predestination, find no contradiction between their universalistic design of redemption and the eternal election of mankind. It is true that Arminianism is a ground for advocating an unlimited conception of atonement, but it is not true that Calvinism, i.e. predestination, is a ground for advocating limited atonement. These conclusions will hopefully be verified in the next two chapters."

1. CO 8:336: "Argute se ratiocinari putat, quum dicit: Christus propitiato est pro peccatis totius mundi. Ergo extra mundum reprobos constituant oportet qui a Christi participatione arcere eos volunt. Ne valeat in praesens communis illa solutio: Christum sufficienter pro omnibus passum esse, efficaciter tantum pro electis. Magna illa absurdme nihil habet momenti. Per quascunque mundi plagas dispersi sint fideles, expiationem Christi morte partam ad eos Ioannes extendit. Id certe non obstat, quominus reprobi in mundo electis permixti sint. Controversia etiam caret, Christum expiandis totius mundi peccatis venisse. Sed confestim occurrit illa solutio: Ut quisquis credit in eum non pereat, sed habeat vitam aeternam. (Ioann. 3, 15). Nec vero qualis sit Christi virtus, vel quid per se valeat, nunc quaeritur: sed quibis se fruendum exhibeat. Quod si in fide consistit possessio, et fides ex spiritu adoptionis manat, restat, ut in numerum filiorum is duntaxat ascitus sit, qui futurus est Christi particeps. Nec vero aliud Christi officium commendat evangelista Ioannes, quam ut morte sua in unum congreget Dei filios (Ioann. 11, 52). Unde collingimus quamvis per ipsum offeratur omnibus reconciliatio, perculiare tamen esse electis beneficium, ut in vitae societatem colligantur. Quanquam dum omnibus offerri dico, non ita accipio, quasi ad omnes legatio illa perveniat, qua mundum sibi reconciliat Deus, teste Paulo (2 Cor. 5, 18): sed ad quos pervenit, ne eorum quidem cordibus indifferenter obsignatur, ut rata sit. Quod nullam esse acceptionem personarum garrit: discat primum quid significet Personae nomen: tum nihil faceset nobis molestiae ex ea sententia."

2. Calvin Mtt., Mk., Lk., 11, 213: Which is shed for many. By the word many he means not a part of the world only, but the whole human race."

3. CO 54:165: "Car ce n'est pas peu de chose, que les ames qui ont este rachetees par le sang de Iesus Christ perissent."

1, Roger Nicole, "Moyse Amyraut (1595-1664) and the Controversy on Universal Grace (1634-1657)" (Ph.D. dissertation, Harvard University, 1966), pp. 18-21.

2. Calvin Ezek. 18:25: "We hold, then, that God wills not the death of a sinner, since he calls all equally to repentance, and promises himself prepared to receive them if they only seriously repent. If any one should object--then there is no election of God, by which he has predestined a fixed number to salvation, the answer is at hand: the Prophet does not here speak of God's secret counsel, but only recalls miserable men from despair, that they may apprehend the hope of pardon, and repent and embrace the offered salvation. If any one again objects--this is making God act with duplicity, the answer is ready, that God always wishes the same thing, though by different ways, and in a manner inscrutable to us. Although, therefore, God's will is simple, yet great variety is involved in it, as far as our senses are concerned. Besides it is not surprising that our eyes should be blinded by intense light, so that we cannot certainly judge how God wishes all to be saved, and yet has devoted all the reprobate to eternal destruction, and wishes them to perish." OS IV, 554: "Porro non agitur hic de arcana eius voluntate qua omnia moderatur et in suum finem destinat. Quanvis enim tumultuose Satan et homines contra ipsum ferantur, novit tamen incomprehensibili suo consilio non solum flectere eorum impetus, sed in ordinem agere ut per eos faciat quod decrevit. Sed hie notatur alia Dei voluntas, nempe cui respondet voluntarium obsequium." cf. Calvin Gal. 5:12; 2 Pet. 3:9; Ezek. 18:32; Lk. 14:23.
Stephen Alan Strehle, The Extent of the Atonement Within the Theological Systems of the Sixteenth and Seventheenth Centuries (Th.D. Dissertation, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1980), 92-95.

February 10, 2012

Stephen Strehle on Martin Luther's View of the Extent of the Atonement

If one has correctly understood the conception of atonement in Luther, his opinions upon the extent of the atonement need not even be inspected, since his system can only lead to one alternative, an unlimited atonement. Nevertheless, Luther makes his position clear, stating that Christ has borne "all the sins of all men,"[1] "the sins of the whole world, from Adam to the very last person,"[2] "not some, but all the sins of the whole world, great or small, few or many."[3] His death would even have sufficed to remove the sins of "many, many worlds."[4] But these conclusions only naturally follow from the mission of Christ in Luther to abrogate the whole law,[5] to swallow up all the enemies of His reign in His deity.[6] If Christ had not borne the sins of the whole world, He would not have completely eliminated within the divine economy the hostile elements, and as a consequence could not be considered as Lord over all things.[7] He could not eschatologically defeat all the devil and his works, throwing them into the lake of fire. Such is the teaching and system of Luther, as well as Scripture itself.[1]

It should be apparent by now that the extent of the atonement question is not to be studied as an isolated doctrine, but is a question which involves methods and systems of theology. One's position upon the extent of the atonement is most often a product of decisions which have been made in other areas of doctrine. For Duns Scotus, a limited conception of Christ's work has already been determined in his theology proper, in his philosophical ordination of all events around their final end. For Luther, his impetus upon the Christus Victor, as just mentioned, leads logically to the exact opposite result, an unlimited atonement. In addition, even to complicate matters further, the import of "extent of atonement" cannot even be univocally applied to both, seeing that "extent" for Duns relates to amount of merit, while for Luther it relates to destruction of enemies. For one, the issue is salvation; for the other, lordship.
_______________
1. LW 26,280.
2. WA 46,678.
3. WA 10/1/2,207. cf. LW 26,280-81.
4. WA 20,638: "Totius.' Dicere enim possum: Ego sum et tu pars mundi. Erigit omnium corda. Non relinquit cogitare: Est propiciatio pro peccatis Petri, Pauli, si etiam pro meis esset! 'Pro totius.' In Christo satis est propiciantionis, si etiam mundus adhuc maior, quia sic effudit sanguinem, ut sit tam copiosa, ut sufficeret multis mundis."
5. LW 26,350.
6. Luther,
Works, 2:520-21.
7. WA 45,483;24,24.
1, Eph. 1:10,21: "With a view to an administration suitable to the fulness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in heaven and things upon the earth. In him . . . far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come." cf. Col. 1:20.
Stephen Alan Strehle, The Extent of the Atonement Within the Theological Systems of the Sixteenth and Seventheenth Centuries (Th.D. Dissertation, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1980), 71–72.

February 4, 2012

Samuel Annesley (1620?-1696) on the Love of God

"It is the Duty of every Child of God, to keep themselves in the Love of God.

This proposition is grounded upon a threefold Supposition.
1. That some men are in the Love of God really, and eternally.
2. That this Love wherewith God loveth his Chosen, is a special love, a peculiar and distinguishing Love.
3. That it is a Duty, as well as a Priviledge to keep our selves in this Love of God: our Activity, as well as Gods Act. Which will be hereafter more explained.

Before we come to the main Question, we will answer this Question: How Love can be said to be in God? for Love is a Passion in the Creature, and Passions are Imperfections, which are contrary to Gods Perfection.

A. 1. It is true: Nothing of Imperfection is in God; but Love is in God as a Perfection: because Love is in God in the abstract, that is essentially; for Abstracts speak Essences. God is Love. 1 John 4.8.

The Love of God is either natural or voluntary, thus Divines distinguish, and that well.

1. The Natural Love of God is that wherewith God loves himself.

That is, the reciprocal Love whereby the three Persons love each other.

This Essential Natural Love of God is therefore necessary. God cannot but love himself.

2. The Love of God is voluntary: thus he loves his Creatures with a general Love.

1. Because he made them, and made them good, therefore he preserves them: for though Sin be really evil, and none of Gods making, but contrary to God, and hated of God; yet God loves the Creatures as his Creatures, although sinful, with a general Love.

2. He loves some Creatures with a special Love, and by this he loves Jesus Christ as Mediator.

1. This Love of God to Christ as Mediator, is the Foundation of Gods Love to his Elect.

2. By a special Love God loves his Elect. John 13.1. Of this Love it's said that it is inseparable.

Now this is the peculiar Love which God bears to some above others. Not because they were more lovely than others, nor because God foresaw they would believe and love him; but because God loved them first antecedently to all those things: and because he loved them therefore Christ shall come and die, and therefore they shall believe in him and love him. The sum is this: Our Love to God is the Effect, and not the Cause of Gods Love to us: yea Christ himself as Mediator is the Effect of Gods Eternal Love. This is primitive Doctrine [Annesley goes on to reference Augustine in several places]."
Samuel Annesley, "Sermon VI" in A Continuation of Morning-Exercise Questions and Cases of Conscience, Practically Resolved by Sundry Ministers, in October 1682. (London: Printed by J. A. for John Dunton at the Sign of the Black Raven in the Poultry over against the Stocks-Market, 1683), 127-128.

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February 2, 2012

Jonathan Moore (via Alan Ford) Corrects Carl Trueman's Bad Historiography on James Ussher (1581–1656)

In footnote #31 of his book and doctoral dissertation, Moore writes:
31. Ussher, Works, XII: 567. Carl Trueman concludes from the book Body of Divinitie that Ussher was a rigorous particularist (James Ussher, A Body of Divinitie, or the Summe and Substance of Christian Religion, catechistically propounded, and explained, by way of Question and Answer [London: M. F. for Thomas Downes and George Badger, 1645], p. 173; Carl R. Trueman, The Claims of Truth: John Owen's Trinitarian Theology [Carlisle, UK: Paternoster Press, 1998], p. 200). However, even if the evidence in this book had been compelling, it is not relevant, for Ussher was not in fact its author and was displeased at its publication under his name, even expressing disagreement with some of its content (Ussher, The Judgement, II:23–25; Nicholas Bernard, The Life & Death of the most reverend and learned Father of our Church Dr. James Ussher [London: E. Tyler for John Crook, 1656], pp. 41–42; Samuel Clarke, A general Martyrologie, containing a Collection of all the greatest Persecutions which have befallen the Church of Christ, from the Creation, to our present Times [London: For William Birch, 1677], II:283; Parr, The Life of the most reverend Father in God, James Usher, I:62; Ussher, Works, I:248-50). Breward is another who, on the basis of this book, mistakenly attributes to Perkins a strong influence upon Ussher's thought (Ian Breward, ed., The Work of William Perkins [Abingdon, UK: Sutton Courtenay Press, 1970], p. 102). I am grateful to Alan Ford for clarification on this point.
Jonathan D. Moore, English Hypothetical Universalism: John Preston and the Softening of Reformed Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2007), 178–179.

Note: I am not endorsing Moore's book, as I find it highly disappointing and quite misleading in many areas. He himself engages in bad historiography and uses Protestant Reformed Church categories/methodologies (as he has been associated with them in the past), but his correction of others is of some use to observe. I may eventually post his material that corrects the bad historiography of Thomas Boston (and others, like Lachman) on John Preston's views.

Daniel Turner on Edward Polhill, John Howe and Isaac Watts

Oliver writes:
Daniel Turner may have shared a love of liberty with John Ryland, but there were significant differences between the two men. In a letter written in 1782, Turner revealed that he did not subscribe to the doctrine of Particular Redemption. He wrote,
I am one who with the good Mr Polhill, Mr How, Dr. Watts and many others hold the doctrine of Particular Election and general Redemption as it may be called.17
These were unusual sentiments for a Particular Baptist minister in the 1780's.
__________
17. 'Daniel Turner to Mr Mumm, Watford, 14 June 1782', Angus Library, Regent's Park College, Oxford.
Robert W. Oliver, History of the English Calvinistic Baptists 1771-1892 (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2006), 62.

There are several things to observe here:

1) Note that Robert Oliver calls Turner a "Particular Baptist minister" and yet Turner (at least at the time of the letter) held a Calvinistic form of "general Redemption" while maintaining "Particular Election." Paul Hobson (who signed the 1644 and 1646 Confessions) and Thomas Lamb (d.1686) fall within this category as well. However, Oliver does go on to claim that Turner "was moving away from the orthodoxy both of the 1689 Confession and of Gill's Declaration of Faith and Practice." Contrary to Oliver, I think the 1689 is compatible with a moderate position, as is the Westminster Confession.

2) Turner knew about the position of Polhill, How[e], and Watts on the subject and said he agreed with them.

3) Of particular interest here is Turner's early testimony about the Puritan John Howe's position on redemption. This is one of the earliest references to Howe (a prominent Puritan) being a moderate, and here is a Particular Baptist who knew about it and agreed with it. Since Howe did not explicitly expound on the extent of the atonement as did Edward Polhill, Turner shows that he carefully read Howe and understood the moderate categories.