October 6, 2008

Edward Polhill (1622–1694) on God’s Will of Salvation and the Death of Christ

1. I argue from the will of God. God's will of salvation as the fontal cause thereof, and Christ’s death, as the meritorious cause thereof, and are of equal latitude. God's will of salvation doth not extend beyond Christ's death, for then he should intend to save some extra Christum. Neither doth Christ's death extend beyond God's will of salvation, for then he should die for some whom God would upon no terms save; but these two are exactly co-extensive. Hence it is observable, that when the apostle speaks of Christ's love to the church, he speaks also of the giving himself for it, (Eph. v. 25), and when he saith God will have all men to be saved, (1 Tim. ii. 4), he saith withal, Christ gave himself a ransom for all, (v. 6). Therefore, there cannot be a truer measure of the extent of Christ's death, than God's will of salvation, out of which the same did issue; so far forth as that will of salvation extends to all men, so far forth the death of Christ doth extend to all men. Now then, how far doth God will the salvation of all? Surely thus far, that if they believe they shall be saved. No divine can deny it, especially seeing Christ himself hath laid it down so positively, "This is the will of him that sent me, saith he, that every one which seeth the Son and believeth on him may have everlasting life," (John vi. 40). Wherefore, if God will the salvation of all men thus far, that if they believe they shall be saved; then Christ died for all men thus far, that if they believe they shall be saved. But you will say, that promise, Whosoever believes shall be saved, is but voluntas signi, and not voluntas beneplacitii, which is the adequate measure of Christ's death. Unto which I answer; If that promise be voluntas signi, what doth it signify? What but God's will? What will but that good pleasure of his, that whosoever believes shall be saved? How else is the sign of the true God a true sign? Whence is that universal connexion betwixt faith and salvation? is it not a plain efflux or product from the decree of God? Doth not that evidently import a decree, that whosoever believes shall be saved? Surely it cannot be a false sign; wherefore, so far God's will of salvation extends to all men, and consequently so far Christ's death extends to them.
Edward Polhill, “The Divine Will Considered in its Eternal Decrees,” in The Works of Edward Polhill (Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1998), 163–164.

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