November 2, 2013

Nicholas Bernard (d.1661) Describing James Ussher's (1581–1656) View on Universal Redemption

The only point which he [Thomas Pierce] names here, is, That the Primate [James Ussher] embraced the doctrine of universal redemption, and saith, in that he doth as good as say all, He [Pierce] doth not assert it from his own knowledge, but saith he hath it from many most unquestionable persons which had it poured into their ears, by the Primate's own mouth. If it were in a Sermon of his [Ussher's] at the Church in London, the last he preached in that City, and many months before his death, (which I am informed by others is the sense of it) I was present at it, and with me there was no new thing observed to have been uttered by him differing from what his judgment was many years agone, since I had the happiness to be known unto him. It may be some of these persons produced for witnesses being strangers to him and taking him to be of the other extremity might apprehend it as a retractation, but they were much mistaken in it; If they heard him affirming, That by the death of Christ all men receive this benefit that they are Salvabiles, or put into a capacity and possibility of salvation, That terms of peace are procured for all mankind, That all men's sins are become pardonable, mercy attainable, (in which state those of the Angelical nature which fell, are not), That there is some distinction to be made between his satisfaction (rightly understood) and his intercession, according to that of our Saviour, I pray for these, I pray not for the world, &c. It is possible, for ought I know, some such expressions might be his then. But that by his Universal Redemption should be understood such an Universal grace, that the same measure of it without any distinction should equally and alike be conferred and applied to Judas, which was to Peter; and that the only difference was the free-will of Peter in accepting, without any further cause of thanks to God for his grace in inclining him accordingly, &c. This I suppose will not be attested to have been professed by him, either in this or any other Sermon, or private conference with him. And in this present enlargement, I would not be understood to interpose myself in the controversy, or to affix thus much upon Mr. Pierce's judgment, but only to aver that the Primate at his last in this particular differed not from what he had declared formerly.
Taken from Nicholas Bernard's second letter to William Barlee in Barlee's A Necessary Vindication of the Doctrine of Predestination, Formerly asserted. (London: Printed for George Sawbridge, at the Bible on Ludgate-Hill, 1658), A4r–B1r. [or pp. xviii–xix; manually numbered from the first page]


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