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Arguments against the universality of redemption — The two first; from the nature of the new covenant, and the dispensation thereof.
Argument I. The first argument may be taken from the nature of the covenant of grace, which was established, ratified, and confirmed in and by the death of Christ; that was the testament whereof he was the testator, which was ratified in his death, and whence his blood is called “The blood of the new testament,” Matt. xxvi. 28. Neither can any effects thereof be extended beyond the compass of this covenant. But now this covenant was not made universally with all, but particularly only with some, and therefore those alone were intended in the benefits of the death of Christ.
The assumption appears from the nature of the covenant itself, described clearly, Jer. xxxi. 31, 32, “I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, though I was an husband to them, saith the Lord;” — and Heb. viii. 9–11, “Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws in their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: and they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.” Wherein, first, the condition of the covenant is not said to be required, but it is absolutely promised: “I will put my fear in their hearts.” And this is the main difference between the old covenant of works and the new one of grace, that in that the Lord did only require the fulfilling of the condition prescribed, but in this be promiseth to effect it in them himself with whom the covenant is made. And without this 237spiritual efficacy, the truth is, the new covenant would be as weak and unprofitable, for the end of a covenant (the bringing, of us and binding of us to God), as the old. For in what consisted the weakness and unprofitableness of the old covenant, for which God in his mercy abolished it? Was it not in this, because, by reason of sin, we were no way able to fulfil the condition thereof, “Do this, and live?” Otherwise the connection is still true, that “he that doeth these things shall live.” And are we of ourselves any way more able to fulfil the condition of the new covenant? Is it not as easy for a man by his own strength to fulfil the whole law, as to repent and savingly believe the promise of the gospel? This, then, is one main difference of these two covenants, — that the Lord did in the old only require the condition; now, in the new, he will also effect it in all the federates, to whom this covenant is extended. And if the Lord should only exact the obedience required in the covenant of us, and not work and effect it also in us, the new covenant would be a show to increase our misery, and not a serious imparting and communicating of grace and mercy. If, then, this be the nature of the new testament, — as appears from the very words of it, and might abundantly be proved, — that the condition of the covenant should certainly, by free grace, be wrought and accomplished in all that are taken into covenant, then no more are in this covenant than in whom those conditions of it are effected.
But thus, as is apparent, it is not with all; for “all men have not faith,” — it is “of the elect of God:” therefore, it is not made with all, nor is the compass thereof to be extended beyond the remnant that are according to election. Yea, every blessing of the new covenant being certainly common, and to be communicated to all the covenantees, either faith is none of them, or all must have it, if the covenant itself be general. But some may say that it is true God promiseth to write his law in our hearts, and put his fear in our inward parts; but it is upon condition. Give me that condition, and I will yield the cause. Is it if they do believe? Nothing else can be imagined. That is, if they have the law written in their hearts (as every one that believes hath), then God promiseth to write his law in their hearts! Is this probable, friends? is it likely? I cannot, then, be persuaded that God hath made a covenant of grace with all, especially those who never heard a word of covenant, grace, or condition of it, much less received grace for the fulfilling of the condition; without which the whole would be altogether unprofitable and useless. The covenant is made with Adam, and he is acquainted with it, Gen. iii. 15, — renewed with Noah, and not hidden from him, — again established with Abraham, accompanied with a full and rich declaration of the chief promises of it, Gen. xii.; which is most certain not to be effected towards all, as afterwards will appear. 238Yea, that first distinction, between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent is enough to overthrow the pretended universality of the covenant of grace; for who dares affirm that God entered into a covenant of grace with the seed of the serpent?
Most apparent, then, it is that the new covenant of grace, and the promises thereof, are all of them of distinguishing mercy, restrained to the people whom God did foreknow; and so not extended universally to all. Now, the blood of Jesus Christ being the blood of this covenant, and his oblation intended only for the procurement of the good things intended and promised thereby, — for he was the surety thereof, Heb. vii. 22, and of that only, — it cannot be conceived to have respect unto all, or any but only those that are intended in this covenant.
Arg. II. If the Lord intended that he should, and [he] by his death did, procure pardon of sin and reconciliation with God for all and every one, to be actually enjoyed upon condition that they do believe, then ought this good-will and intention of God, with this purchase in their behalf by Jesus Christ, to be made known to them by the word, that they might believe; “for faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God,” Rom. x. 17: for if these things be not made known and revealed to all and every one that is concerned in them, namely, to whom the Lord intends, and for whom he hath procured so great a good, then one of these things will follow; — either, first, That they may be saved without faith in, and the knowledge of, Christ (which they cannot have unless he be revealed to them), which is false, and proved so; or else, secondly, That this good-will of God, and this purchase made by Jesus Christ, is plainly in vain, and frustrate in respect of them, yea, a plain mocking of them, that will neither do them any good to help them out of misery, nor serve the justice of God to leave them inexcusable, for what blame can redound to them for not embracing and well using a benefit which they never heard of in their lives? Doth it become the wisdom of God to send Christ to die for men that they might be saved, and never cause these men to hear of any such thing; and yet to purpose and declare that unless they do hear of it and believe it, they shall never be saved? What wise man would pay a ransom for the delivery of those captives which he is sure shall never come to the knowledge of any such payment made, and so never be the better for it? Is it answerable to the goodness of God, to deal thus with his poor creatures? to hold out towards them all in pretence the most intense love imaginable, beyond all compare and illustration, — as his love in sending his Son is set forth to be, — and yet never let them know of any such thing, but in the end to damn them for not believing it? Is it answerable to the love and kindness of Christ to us, to assign unto him at his death 239such a resolution as this:— “I will now, by the oblation of myself, obtain for all and every one peace and reconciliation with God, redemption and everlasting salvation, eternal glory in the high heavens, even for all those poor, miserable, wretched worms, condemned caitiffs, that every hour ought to expect the sentence of condemnation; and all these shall truly and really be communicated to them if they will believe. But yet, withal, I will so order things that innumerable souls shall never hear one word of all this that I have done for them, never be persuaded to believe, nor have the object of faith that is to be believed proposed to them, whereby they might indeed possibly partake of these things?” Was this the mind and will, this the design and purpose, of our merciful high priest? God forbid. It is all one as if a prince should say and proclaim, that whereas there be a number of captives held in sore bondage in such a place, and he hath a full treasure, he is resolved to redeem them every one, so that every one of them shall come out of prison that will thank him for his good-will, and in the meantime never take care to let these poor captives know his mind and pleasure; and yet be fully assured that unless he effect it himself it will never be done. Would not this be conceived a vain and ostentatious flourish, without any good intent indeed towards the poor captives? Or as if a physician should say that he hath a medicine that will cure all diseases, and he intends to cure the diseases of all, but lets but very few know his mind, or any thing of his medicine; and yet is assured that without his relation and particular information it will be known to very few. And shall he be supposed to desire, intend, or aim at the recovery of all?
Now, it is most clear, from the Scripture and experience of all ages, both under the old dispensation of the covenant and the new, that innumerable men, whole nations, for a long season, are passed by in the declaration of this mystery. The Lord doth not procure that it shall, by any means, in the least measure be made out to all; they hear not so much as a rumour or report of any such thing. Under the Old Testament, “In Judah was God known, and his name was great in Israel; in Salem was his tabernacle, and his dwelling-place in Zion,” Ps. lxxvi. 1, 2. “He showed his word unto Jacob, and his statutes and his judgments unto Israel. He hath not dealt so with any nation: and as for his judgments, they have not known them,” Ps. cxlvii. 19, 20. Whence those appellations of the heathen, and imprecations also: as Jer. x. 25, “Pour out thy fury upon the heathen that know thee not, and upon the families that call not upon thy name;” of whom you have a full description, Eph. ii. 12, “Without Christ, aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.” And under the New Testament, though the church have “lengthened her 240cords, and strengthened her stakes,” and “many nations are come up to the mountain of the Lord,” — so many as to be called “all people,” “all nations,” yea, the “world,” the “whole world,” in comparison of the small precinct of the church of the Jews, — yet now also Scripture and experience do make it clear that many are passed by, yea, millions of souls, that never hear a word of Christ, nor of reconciliation by him; of which we can give no other reason, but, “Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight,” Matt. xi. 26. For the Scripture, ye have the Holy Ghost expressly forbidding the apostles to go to sundry places with the word, but sending them another way, Acts xvi. 6, 7, 9, 10; answerable to the former dispensation in some particulars, wherein “he suffered all nations to walk in their own ways,” chap. xiv. 16. And for experience, not to multiply particulars, do but ask any of our brethren who have been but any time in the Indies, and they will easily resolve you in the truth thereof.
The exceptions against this argument are poor and frivolous, which we reserve for reply. In brief; how is it revealed to those thousands of the offspring of infidels, whom the Lord cuts off in their infancy, that they may not pester the world, persecute his church, nor disturb human society? how to their parents, of whom Paul affirms, that by the works of God they might be led to the knowledge of his eternal power and Godhead, but that they should know any thing of redemption or a Redeemer was utterly impossible?
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