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 classic-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.

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