|« Prev||Chapter VIII. Objections against the former…||Next »|
Objections against the former proposal answered.
By what was said in the last chapter, it clearly appeareth that the oblation and intercession of Christ are of equal compass and extent in respect of their objects, or the persons for whom he once offered himself and doth continually intercede, and so are to be looked on as one joint means for the attaining of a certain proposed end; which what it is comes next to be considered. But because I find some objections laid by some against the former truth, I must remove them before I proceed; which I shall do “as a man removeth dung until it be all gone.”
The sum of one of our former arguments was, — That to sacrifice and intercede belong both to the same person, as high priest; which name none can answer, neither hath any performed that office, until both by him be accomplished. Wherefore, our Saviour being the most absolute, and, indeed, the only true high priest, in whom were really all those perfections which in others received a weak typical representation, doth perform both these in the behalf of them for whose sakes he was such.
I. An argument not unlike to this I find by some to be undertaken to be answered, being in these words proposed, “The ransom and mediation of Christ is no larger than his office of priest, prophet, and king; but these offices pertain to his church and chosen: therefore his ransom pertains to them only.”
The intention and meaning of the argument is the same with what we proposed, — namely, that Christ offered nothing for them for whom he is no priest, and he is a priest only for them for whom he doth also intercede. If afterward I shall have occasion to make use of this argument, I shall, by the Lord’s assistance, give more weight and strength to it than it seems to have in their proposal, whose interest it is to present it as slightly as possible, that they may seem fairly to have waived it. But the evasion, such as it is, let us look upon.
“This,” saith the answerer, “is a sober objection;” which friendly term I imagined at first he had given for this reason, because he found it kind and easy to be satisfied. But reading the answer and finding 188that, so wide from yielding any colour or appearance of what was pretended, it only served him to vent some new, weak, false conceptions, I imagined that it must be some other kindness that caused him to give this “objection,” as he calls it, so much milder an entertainment than those others, which equally gall him, which hear nothing but, “This is horrid, that blasphemy, that detestable, abominable, and false,” as being, indeed, by those of his persuasion neither to be endured nor avoided. And at length I conceived that the reason of it was intimated in the first words of his pretended answer; which are, that “this objection doth not deny the death of Christ for all men, but only his ransom and mediation for all men.” Now, truly, if it be so, I am not of his judgment, but so far from thinking it a “sober objection,” that I cannot be persuaded that any man in his right wits would once propose it. That Christ should die for all, and yet not be a ransom for all, himself affirming that he came to “give his life a ransom for many,” Matt. xx. 28, is to me a plain contradiction. The death of Christ, in the first most general notion and apprehension thereof, is a ransom. Nay, do not this answerer and those who are of the same persuasion with him make the ransom of as large extent as any thing in, or about, or following the death of Christ? Or have they yet some farther distinction to make, or rather division about the ends of the death of Christ? as we have had already: “For some he not only paid a ransom, but also intercedeth for them; which be doth not for all for whom he paid a ransom.” Will they now go a step backward, and say that for some he not only died, but also paid a ransom for them; which he did not for all for whom he died? Who, then, were those that he thus died for? They must be some beyond all and every man; for, as they contend, for them he paid a ransom. But let us see what he says farther; in so easy a cause as this it is a shame to take advantages.
“The answer to this objection,” saith be, “is easy and plain in the Scripture, for the mediation of Christ is both more general and more special; — more general, as he is the ‘one mediator between God and men,’ 1 Tim. ii. 5; and more special, as he is ‘the mediator of the new testament, that they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance,’ Heb. ix. 15. According to that it is said, ‘He is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe,’ 1 Tim. iv. 10. So in all the offices of Christ, the priest, the prophet, the king, there is that which is more general, and that which is more special and peculiar.”
And this is that which he calls a clear and plain answer from the Scripture, leaving the application of it unto the argument to other men’s conjecture; which, as far as I can conceive, must be thus:— It is true Christ paid a ransom for none but those for whom he is a mediator and priest; but Christ is to be considered two ways: 189First, As a general mediator and priest for all; secondly, As a special mediator and priest for some. Now, he pays the ransom as a general mediator. This I conceive may be some part of his meaning; for in itself the whole is in expression so barbarous and remote from common sense, — in substance such a wild, unchristian madness, as contempt would far better suit it than a reply. The truth is, for sense and expression in men who, from their manual trades, leap into the office of preaching and employment of writing, I know no reason why we should expect. Only, it can never enough be lamented that wildness, in such tattered rags, should find entertainment, whilst sober truth is shut out of doors; for what, I pray you, is the meaning of this distinction, “Christ is either a general mediator between God and man, or a special mediator of the new testament?” Was it ever heard before that Christ was any way a mediator but as he is so of the new testament? A mediator is not of one; all mediation respects an agreement of several parties; and every mediator is the mediator of a covenant. Now, if Christ be a mediator more generally than as he is so of the new covenant, of what covenant, I beseech you, was that? Of the covenant of works? Would not such an assertion overthrow the whole gospel? Would it not be derogatory to the honour of Jesus Christ that he should be the mediator of a cancelled covenant? Is it not contrary to Scripture, affirming him a “surety” (not of the first, but) “of a better testament?” Heb. vii. 22. Are not such bold assertors fitter to be catechised than to preach? But we must not let it pass thus. The man harps upon something that he hath heard from some Arminian doctor, though he hath had the ill-hap so poorly to make out his conceptions. Wherefore, being in some measure acquainted with their occasions, which they colour with those texts of Scripture which are here produced, I shall briefly remove the poor shift, that so our former argument may stand unshaken.
The poverty of the answer, as before expressed, hath been sufficiently already declared. The fruits of Christ’s mediation have been distinguished by some into those that are more general and those which are more peculiar, which, in some sense, may be tolerable; but that the offices of Christ should be said to be either general or peculiar, and himself in relation to them so considered, is a gross, unshaped fancy. I answer, then, to the thing intended, that we deny any such general mediation, or function of office in general, in Christ, as should extend itself beyond his church or chosen. It was his “church” which he “redeemed with his own blood,” Acts xx. 28; his “church” that “he loved and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church,” Eph. v. 25–27. They were his “sheep” he “laid down his life for,” John x. 15; and “appeareth in 190heaven for us,” Heb. ix. 24. Not one word of mediating for any other in the Scripture. Look upon his incarnation. It was “because the children were partakers of flesh and blood,” chap. ii. 14; not because all the world were so. Look upon his oblation: “For their sakes,” saith he, (“those whom thou hast given me,”) “do I sanctify myself,” John xvii. 19; that is, to be an oblation, which was the work he had then in hand. Look upon his resurrection: “He was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification,” Rom. iv. 25. Look upon his ascension: “I go,” saith he, “to my Father and your Father, and that to prepare a place for you,” John xiv. 2. Look upon his perpetuated intercession. Is it not to “save to the uttermost them that come unto God by him?” Heb. vii. 25. Not one word of this general mediation for all. Nay, if you will hear himself, he denies in plain terms to mediate for all: “I pray not,” saith he, “for the world, but for them which then hast given me,” John xvii. 9.
But let us see what is brought to confirm this distinction. 1 Tim. ii. 5 is quoted for the maintenance thereof: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” What then, I pray? what will be concluded hence? Cannot Christ be a mediator between God and men, but he must be a mediator for all men? Are not the elect men? do not the children partake of flesh and blood? doth not his church consist of men? What reason is there to assert, out of an indefinite proposition, a universal conclusion? Because Christ was a mediator for men (which were true had he been so only for his apostles), shall we conclude therefore he was so for all men? “Apage nugas!”
But let us see another proof, which haply may give more strength to the uncouth distinction we oppose, and that is 1 Tim. iv. 10, “Who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.” Had it been, “Who is the Mediator of all men, specially of them that believe,” it had been more likely. But the consciences, or at least the foreheads of these men! Is there any word here spoken of Christ as mediator? Is it not the “living God” in whom we trust that is the Saviour here mentioned, as the words going before in the same verse are? And is Christ called so in respect of his mediation? That God the Father is often called Saviour I showed before, and that he is here intended, as is agreed upon by all sound interpreters, so also it is clear from the matter in hand, which is the protecting providence of God, general towards all, special and peculiar towards his church. Thus he is said to “save man and beast,” Ps. xxxvi. 6, Ἀνθρώπους καὶ κτήνη σώσεις κύριε, rendering the Hebrew, תּוֹשִׁיעַ by σώσεις, “Thou shalt save or preserve.” It is God, then, that is here called the “Saviour of all,” by deliverance and protection in danger, of which the apostle treats, and that by his providence, which is peculiar towards believers; and what this makes for a universal mediation I know not.
191Now, the very context in this place will not admit of any other interpretation; for the words render a reason why, notwithstanding all the injury and reproaches wherewith the people of God are continually assaulted, yet they should cheerfully go forward to run with joy the race that is set before them; even because as God preserveth all (for “in him we live, and move, and have our being,” Acts xvii. 28; Ps. cxlv. 14–16), so that he will not suffer any to be injured and unrevenged, Gen. ix. 5, so is he especially the preserver of them that do believe; for they are as the apple of his eye, Zech. ii. 8; Deut. xxxii. 10. So that if he should suffer them to be pressed for a season, yet let them not let go their hope and confidence, nor be weary of well-doing, but still rest on and trust in him. This encouragement being that which the apostle was to lay down, what motive would it be hereunto to tell believers that God would have those saved who neither do nor ever will or shall believe? — that I say nothing how strange it seems that Christ should be the Saviour of them who are never saved, to whom he never gives grace to believe, for whom be denies to intercede, John xvii. 9; which yet is no small part of his mediation whereby he saves sinners. Neither the subject, then, nor the predicate proposition, “He is the Saviour of all men,” is rightly apprehended by them who would wrest it to the maintenance of universal redemption. For the subject, “He,” it is God the Father, and not Christ the mediator; and for the predicate, it is a providential preservation, and not a purchased salvation that is intimated; — that is, the providence of God protecting and governing all, but watching in an especial manner for the good of them that are his, that they be not always unjustly and cruelly traduced and reviled, with other pressures, that the apostle here rests upon; as also he shows that it was his course to do, 2 Cor. i. 9, 10: “But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver us: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;” for “he is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.” If any shall conceive that these words (“Because we hope in the living God, who is,” etc.) do not render an account of the ground of Paul’s confidence in going through with his labours and afflictions, but rather are an expression of the head and sum of that doctrine for which he was so turmoiled and afflicted, I will not much oppose it; for then, also, it includes nothing but an assertion of the true God and dependence on him, in opposition to all the idols of the Gentiles, and other vain conceits whereby they exalted themselves into the throne of the Most High. But that Christ should be said to be a Saviour of, — 1. Those who are never saved from their sins, as he saves his people, Matt. i. 21; 2. Of those who never hear one word of saving or a Saviour; 3. That he should be a Saviour in 192a twofold sense, — (1.) For all, (2.) For believers; 4. That to believe is the condition whereby Christ becomes a Saviour in an especial manner unto any, and that condition not procured nor purchased by him; — that this, I say, is the sense of this place, “credat Judæus Apella.” To me nothing is more certain than that to whom Christ is in any sense a Saviour in the work of redemption, he saves them to the uttermost from all their sins of infidelity and disobedience, with the saving of grace here and glory hereafter.
II. Farther attempts, also, there are to give strength to this evasion, and so to invalidate our former argument, which I must also remove.
“Christ,” say they,2323 More’s Universality of Grace. “in some sort intercedeth and putteth in for transgressors, even the sons of men, yet in and of the world, that the Spirit may so still unite and bless those that believe on him, and so go forth in their confessions and conversations, and in the ministration of the gospel by his servants, that those among whom they dwell and converse might be convinced and brought to believe the report of the gospel, Isa. liii. 12; as once, Luke xxiii. 34; as himself left a pattern to us, John xxi. 21–23; that so the men of the world might be convinced, and the convinced allured to Christ and to God in him, Matt. v. 14–16; yea, so as that he doth in some measure enlighten every man that cometh into the world, John i. 9. But in a more special manner doth he intercede,” etc.
Here is a twofold intercession of Christ as mediator:— 1. For all sinners, that they may believe (for that is it which is intended by the many cloudy expressions wherein it is involved). 2. For believers, that they may be saved. It is the first member of the distinction which we oppose; and therefore must insist a little upon it.
First, Our author saith, “It is an interceding in some sort.” I ask, in what sort? Is it directly, or indirectly? Is it by virtue of his blood shed for them, or otherwise? Is it with an intention and desire to obtain for them the good things interceded for, or with purpose that they shall go without them? Is it for all and every man, or only for those who live in the outward pale of the church? Is faith the thing required for them, or something else? Is that desired absolutely, or upon some condition? All which queries must be clearly answered before this general intercession can be made intelligible.
First, Whether it be directly or indirectly, and by consequence only, that this intercession after a sort is used, for that thing interceded for is represented not as the immediate issue or aim of the prayer of Christ, but as a reflex arising from a blessing obtained by others; for the prayer set down is that God would so bless believers, that those amongst whom they dwell may believe the report of the gospel. It is believers that are the direct object of this intercession, and others are only glanced at through them. The good also so desired 193for them is considered either as an accident that may come to pass, or follow the flourishing of believers, κατὰ συμβεβηκός, or as an end intended to be accomplished by it. If the first, then their good is no more intended than their evil. If the latter, why is it not effected? why is not the intention of our Saviour accomplished? Is it for want of wisdom to choose suitable and proportionable means to the end proposed? or is it for want of power to effect what he intendeth?
Secondly, Is it by virtue of his blood shed for them, or otherwise? — If it be, then Christ intercedeth for them that they may enjoy those things which for them by his oblation he did procure; for this it is to make his death and blood-shedding to be the foundation of his intercession; then it follows that Christ by his death procured faith for all, because he intercedeth that all may believe, grounding that intercession upon the merit of his death. But, first, this is more than the assertors of universal redemption will sustain; among all the ends of the death of Christ by them assigned, the effectual and infallible bestowing of faith on those for whom he died is none: secondly, if by his death he hath purchased it for all, and by intercession entreateth for it, why is it not actually bestowed on them? is not a concurrence of both these sufficient for the making out of that one spiritual blessing? — But, secondly, If it be not founded on his death and blood-shedding, then we desire that they would describe unto us this intercession of Christ, differing from his appearing for us in heaven sprinkled with his own blood.
Thirdly, Doth he intercede for them that they should believe, with an intention or desire that they should do so, or no? If not, it is but a mock intercession, and an entreaty for that which he would not have granted. If so, why is it not accomplished? why do not all believe? Yea, if he died for all, and prayed for all, that they might believe, why are not all saved? for Christ is always heard of his Father, John xi. 42.
Fourthly, Is it for all and every one in the world that Christ makes this intercession, or only for those who live within the pale of the church? If only for these latter, then this doth not prove a general intercession for all, but only one more large than that for believers; for if he leaves out any one in the world, the present hypothesis falls to the ground. If for all, how can it consist in that petition, “that the Spirit would so lead, guide, and bless believers, and so go forth in the ministration of the gospel by his servants, that others (that is, all and every one in the world) may be convinced and brought to believe?” How, I say, can this be spoken with any reference to those millions of souls that never see a believer, that hear no report of the gospel?
Fifthly, If his intercession be for faith, then either Christ intercedeth for it absolutely, that they may certainly have it, or upon 194condition, and that either on the part of God or man. — If absolutely, then all do actually believe; or that is not true, the Father always hears him, John xi. 42. If upon condition on the part of God, it can be nothing but this, if he will or please. Now, the adding of this condition may denote in our Saviour two things:— 1. A nescience of what is his Father’s will in the thing interceded for: which, first, cannot stand with the unity of his person as now in glory; and, secondly, cannot be, because he hath the assurance of a promise to be heard in whatever he asketh, Ps. ii. 8. Or, 2. An advancement of his Father’s will, by submission to that as the prime cause of the good to be bestowed; which may well stand with absolute intercession, by virtue whereof all must believe. — Secondly, Is it a condition on the part of those for whom he doth intercede? Now, I beseech you, what condition is that? where in the Scripture assigned? where is it said that Christ doth intercede for men that they may have faith if they do such and such things? Nay, what condition can rationally be assigned of this desire? “Some often intimate that it is, if they suffer the Spirit to have his work upon their hearts, and obey the grace of God.” Now, what is it to obey the grace of God? Is it not to believe? Therefore, it seems that Christ intercedeth for them that they may believe, upon condition that they do believe. Others, more cautiously, assert the good using of the means of grace that they do enjoy to be the condition upon which the benefit of this intercession doth depend. But again, — 1. What is the good using of the means of grace but submitting to them, that is, believing? and so we are as before. 2. All have not the means of grace, to use well or ill. 3. Christ prays that they may use the means of grace well, or he doth not. If not, then how can he pray that they may believe, seeing to use well the means of grace, by yielding obedience unto them, is indeed to believe? If he do, then he doth it absolutely, or upon condition, and so the argument is renewed again as in the entrance. Many more reasons might be easily produced to show the madness of this assertion, but those may suffice. Only we must look upon the proof and confirmations of it.
First, then, the words of the prophet Isaiah, chap. liii. 12, “He made intercession for the transgressors,” are insisted on. — Ans. The transgressors here, for whom our Saviour is said to make intercession, are either all the transgressors for whom he suffered, as is most likely from the description we have of them, verse 6, or the transgressors only by whom he suffered, that acted in his sufferings, as some suppose. If the first, then this place proves that Christ intercedes for all those for whom be suffered; which differs not from that which we contend for. If the latter, then we may consider it as accomplished. How he then did it, so it is here foretold that he should, which is the next place urged, namely, —
195Luke xxiii. 34, “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” — Ans. The conclusion which from these words is inferred being, “Therefore there is a general intercession for all, that they may believe,” I might well leave the whole argument to the silent judgment of men, without any farther opening and discovery of its invalidity and weakness; but because the ablest of that side have usually insisted much on this place for a general successless intercession, I will a little consider the inference its dependence on these words of the gospel, and search whether it have any appearance of strength in it. To which end we must observe, —
Secondly, That this prayer is not for all men, but only for that handful of the Jews by whom be was crucified. Now, from a prayer for them to infer a prayer for all and every man that ever were, are, or shall be, is a wild deduction.
It doth not appear that he prayed for all his crucifers neither, but only for those who did it out of ignorance, as appears by the reason annexed to his supplication: “For they know not what they do.” And though, Acts iii. 17, it is said that the rulers also did it ignorantly, yet that all of them did so is not apparent; that some did is certain from that place; and so it is that some of them were converted, as afterward. Indefinite propositions must not in such things be made universal. Now, doth it follow that because Christ prayed for the pardon of their sins who crucified him out of ignorance, as some of them did, that therefore he intercedeth for all that they may believe; crucifers who never once heard of his crucifying?
Thirdly, Christ in those words doth not so much as pray for those men that they might believe, but only that that sin of them in crucifying of him might be forgiven, not laid to their charge. Hence to conclude, therefore he intercedeth for all men that they may believe, even because he prayed that the sin of crucifying himself might be forgiven them that did it, is a strange inference.
Fourthly, There is another evident limitation in the business; for among his crucifiers he prays only for them that were present at his death, amongst whom, doubtless, many came more out of curiosity, to see and observe, as is usual in such cases, than out of malice and despite. So that whereas some urge that notwithstanding this prayer, yet the chief of the priests continued in their unbelief, it is not to the purpose, for it cannot be proved that they were present at his crucifying.
Fifthly, It cannot be affirmed with any probability that our Saviour should pray for all and every one of them, supposing some of them to be finally impenitent: for he himself knew full well “what was in man,” John ii. 25; yea, he “knew from the beginning who they were that believed not,” chap. vi. 64. Now, it is contrary to the rule which we have, 1 John v. 16, “There is a sin unto death,” etc., to 196pray for them whom we know to be finally impenitent, and to sin unto death.
Sixthly, It seems to me that this supplication was effectual and successful, that the Son was heard in this request also, faith and forgiveness being granted to them for whom he prayed; so that this makes nothing for a general, ineffectual intercession, it being both special and effectual: for, Acts iii., of them whom Peter tells, that they “denied the Holy One, and desired a murderer,” verse 14, “and killed the Prince of Life,” verse 15, — of these, I say, five thousand believed: chap. iv. 4, “Many of them which heard the word believed, and the number of them was about five thousand.” And if any others were among them whom our Saviour prayed for, they might be converted afterward. Neither were the rulers without the compass of the fruits of this prayer; for “a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith,” chap. vi. 7. So that nothing can possibly be hence inferred for the purpose intended.
Seventhly, We may, nay we must, grant a twofold praying in our Saviour; — one, by virtue of his office as he was mediator; the other, in answer of his duty, as he was subject to the law. It is true, he who was mediator was made subject to the law; but yet those things which be did in obedience to the law as a private person were not acts of mediation, nor works of him as mediator, though of him who was mediator. Now, as he, was subject to the law, our Saviour was bound to forgive offences and wrongs done unto him, and to pray for his enemies; as also he had taught us to do, whereof in this he gave us an example: Matt. v. 44, “I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” which doubtless he inferreth from that law, Lev. xix. 18, “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself,” — quite contrary to the wicked gloss put upon it by the Pharisees. And in this sense our Saviour here, as a private person, to whom revenge was forbidden, pardon enjoined, prayer commanded, prays for his very enemies and crucifers; which doth not at all concern his interceding for us as mediator, wherein he was always heard, and so is nothing to the purpose in hand.
Again, John xvii. 21–23 is urged to confirm this general intercession, which we have exploded; our Saviour praying that, by the unity, concord, and flourishing of his servants, the world might believe and know that God had sent him. From which words, though some make a seeming flourish, yet the thing pretended is no way confirmed; for, —
First, If Christ really intended and desired that the whole world, or all men in the world, should believe, he would also, no doubt, have 197prayed for more effectual means of grace to be granted unto them than only a beholding of the blessed condition of his (which yet is granted only to a small part of the world); at least for the preaching of the word to them all, that by it, as the only ordinary way, they might come to the knowledge of him. But this we do not find that ever he prayed for, or that God hath granted it; nay, he blessed his Father that so it was not, because so it seemed good in his sight, Matt. xi. 25, 26.
Secondly, Such a gloss or interpretation must not be put upon the place as should run cross to the express words of our Saviour, verse 9, “I pray not for the world;” for if he here prayed that the world should have true, holy, saving faith, he prayed for as great a blessing and privilege for the world as any he procured or interceded for his own. Wherefore, —
Thirdly, Say some, the world is here taken for the world of the elect, the world to be saved, — God’s people throughout the world. Certain it is that the world is not here taken properly pro mundo continente, for the world containing, but figuratively pro mundo contento, for the world contained, or men in the world. Neither can it be made appear that it must be taken universally, for all the men in the world, as seldom it is in the Scripture, which afterward we shall make appear; but it may be understood indefinitely, for men in the world, few or more, as the elect are in their several generations. But this exposition, though it hath great authors, I cannot absolutely adhere unto, because through this whole chapter the world is taken either for the world of reprobates, opposed to them that are given to Christ by his Father, or for the world of unbelievers (the same men under another notion), opposed to them who are committed to his Father by Christ. Wherefore I answer, —
Fourthly, That by believing, verse 21, and knowing, verse 23, is not meant believing in a strict sense, or a saving comprehension and receiving of Jesus Christ, and so becoming the sons of God, — which neither ever was, nor ever will be, fulfilled in every man in the world, nor was ever prayed for, — but a conviction and acknowledgment that the Lord Christ is not, what before they had taken him to be, a seducer and a false prophet, but indeed what he said, one that came out from God, able to protect and do good for and to his own: which kind of conviction and acknowledgment that it is often termed believing in the Scripture is more evident than that it should need to be proved; and that this is here meant the evidence of the thing is such as that it is consented unto by expositors of all sorts. Now, this is not for any good of the world, but for the vindication of his people and the exaltation of his own glory; and so proves not at all the thing in question. But of this word “world” afterward.
The following place of Matthew, chap. v. 15, 16 (containing some 198instructions given by our Saviour to his apostles, so to improve the knowledge and light which of him they had, and were farther to receive, in the preaching of the word and holiness of life, that they might be a means to draw men to glorify God) is certainly brought in to make up a show of a number, as very many other places are, the author not once considering what is to be proved by them, nor to what end they are used; and therefore without farther inquiry may well be laid aside, as not it all belonging to the business in hand, nor to be dragged within many leagues of the conclusion, by all the strength and skill of Mr More.
Neither is that other place of John, chap. i. 9, any thing more advisedly or seasonably urged, though wretchedly glossed, and rendered, “In some measure enlightening every one that comes into the world.” The Scripture says that “Christ is the true Light, that lighteth every man that cometh into the world;” “In some measure,” says Mr More. Now, I beseech you, in what measure is this? How far, unto what degree, in what measure, is illumination from Christ? by whom or by what means, separated from him, independent of him, is the rest made up? who supplies the defect of Christ? I know your aim is to hug in your illumination by the light of nature, and I know not what common helps that you dream of, towards them who are utterly deprived of all gospel means of grace, and that not only for the knowledge of God as Creator, but also of him as in Christ the Redeemer: but whether the calves of your own setting up should be thus sacrificed unto, with wresting and perverting the word of God, and undervaluing of the grace of Christ, you will one day, I hope, be convinced. It sufficeth us that Christ is said to enlighten every one, because he is the only true light, and every one that is enlightened receiveth his light from him, who is the sum, the fountain thereof. And so the general defence of this general, ineffectual intercession is vanished. But yet farther, it is particularly replied, concerning the priesthood of Christ, that, —
III. “As a priest in respect of one end, he offered sacrifice, — that is, propitiation for all men, Heb. ii. 9, ix. 26; John i. 29; 1 John ii. 2; — in respect of all the ends, propitiation, and sealing the new testament, and testification to the truth; — and of the uttermost end in all, for his called and chosen ones, Heb. ix. 14, 15; Matt. xxvi. 28.” (What follows after, being repeated out of another place, hath been already answered.)
Ans. First, These words, as here placed, have no tolerable sense in them, neither is it an easy thing to gather the mind of the author out of them, so far are they from being a clear answer to the argument, as was pretended. Words of Scripture, indeed, are used, but wrested and corrupted, not only to the countenance of error, but to bear a part in unreasonable expressions. For what, I pray, is the 199meaning of these words: “He offered sacrifice in respect of one end, then of all ends, then of the uttermost end in all?” To inquire backwards:— 1. What is this “uttermost end in all?” Is that “in all,” in or among all the ends proposed and accomplished? or in all those for whom he offered sacrifice? or is it the uttermost end and proposal of God and Christ in his oblation? If this latter, that is the glory of God; now there is no such thing once intimated in the places of Scripture quoted, Heb. ix. 14, 15; Matt. xxvi. 28. 2. Do those places hold out the uttermost end of the death of Christ (subordinate to God’s glory)? Why, in one of them it is the obtaining of redemption, and in the other the shedding of his blood for the remission of sins is expressed! Now, all this you affirm to be the first end of the death of Christ, in the first words used in this place calling it “propitiation,” — that is, an atonement for the remission of sins; which remission of sins and redemption are for the substance one and the same, both of them the immediate fruits and first end of the death of Christ, as is apparent, Eph. i. 7; Col. i. 14. So here you have confounded the first and last end of the death of Christ, spoiling, indeed, and casting down (as you may lawfully do, for it is your own), the whole frame and building, whose foundation is this, that there be several and diverse ends of the death of Christ towards several persons, so that some of them belong unto all, and all of them only to some; which is the πρῶτον ψεῦδος of the whole book. 3. Christ’s offering himself to put away sin, out of Heb. ix. 26, [you make to be] the place for the first end of the death of Christ, and his shedding of his blood for the remission of sins, from Matt. xxvi. 8, to be the last! Pray, when you write next, give us the difference between these two. 4. You say, “He offered sacrifice in respect of one end, — that is, propitiation for all men.” Now, truly, if ye know the meaning of sacrifice and propitiation, this will scarce appear sense unto you upon a second view.
But, [secondly,] to leave your words and take your meaning, it seems to be this, in respect of one end that Christ proposed to himself in his sacrifice, he is a priest for all, be aimed to attain and accomplish it for them; but in respect of other ends, he is so only for his chosen and called. Now, truly, this is an easy kind of answering, which, if it will pass for good and warrantable, you may easily disappoint all your adversaries, even first by laying down their arguments, then saying your own opinion is otherwise; for the very thing that is here imposed on us for an answer is the τὸ κρινόμενον, the chief matter in debate. We absolutely deny that the several ends of the death of Christ, or the good things procured by his death, are thus distributed as is here pretended. To prove our assertion, and to give a reason of our denial of this dividing of these things in respect of their objects, we produce the argument above proposed concerning 200the priesthood of Christ; to which the answer given is a bare repetition of the thing in question.
But you will say divers places of Scripture are quoted for the confirmation of this answer. But these, as I told you before, are brought forth for pomp and show, nothing at all being to be found in them to the business in hand; such are Heb. ix. 26; John i. 29. For what consequence is there from an affirmation indefinite, that Christ bare or took away sin, to this, that he is a priest for all and every one in respect of propitiation? Besides, in that of John i. 9 there is a manifest allusion to the paschal lamb, by which there was a typical, ceremonial purification and cleansing of sin; which was proper only to the people of Israel, the type of the elect of God, and not of all in the world, of all sorts, reprobates and unbelievers also. Those other two places of Heb. ii. 9, 1 John ii. 2, shall be considered apart, because they seem to have some strength for the main of the cause; though apparently there is no word in them that can be wrested to give the least colour to such an uncouth distinction as that which we oppose. And thus our argument from the equal objective extent of the oblation and intercession of Jesus Christ is confirmed and vindicated, and, withal, the means used by the blessed Trinity for the accomplishment of the proposed end unfolded; which end, what it was, is next to be considered.
|« Prev||Chapter VIII. Objections against the former…||Next »|