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Things previously to be considered, to the solution of objections.
There being sundry places in holy Scripture wherein the ransom and propitiation made by the blood of Christ is set forth in general and indefinite expressions; as also a fruitlessness or want of success in 295respect of some, through their own default, for whom he died, seemingly intimated; with general proffers, promises, and exhortations, made for the embracing of the fruits of the death of Christ, even to them who do never actually perform it, — whence some have taken occasion to maintain a universality of redemption, equally respecting all and every one, and that with great confidence, affirming that the contrary opinion cannot possibly be reconciled with those places of Scripture wherein the former things are proposed; — these three heads being the only fountains from whence are drawn (but with violence) all the arguments that are opposed to the peculiar effectual redemption of the elect only, I shall, before I come to the answering of objections arising from a wrested interpretation of particular places, lay down some such fundamental principles as are agreeable to the word, and largely held forth in it, and no way disagreeable to our judgment in this particular, which do and have given occasion to those general and indefinite affirmations as they are laid down in the word, and upon which they are founded, having their truth in them, and not in a universal ransom for all and every one; with some distinctions conducing to the farther clearing of the thing in question, and waiving of many false imputations of things and consequences, erroneously or maliciously imposed on us.
1. The first thing that we shall lay down is concerning the dignity, worth, preciousness, and infinite value of the blood and death of Jesus Christ. The maintaining and declaring of this is doubtless especially to be considered; and every opinion that doth but seemingly clash against it is exceedingly prejudiced, at least deservedly suspected, yea, presently to be rejected by Christians, if upon search it be found to do so really and indeed, as that which is injurious and derogatory to the merit and honour of Jesus Christ. The Scripture, also, to this purpose is exceeding full and frequent in setting forth the excellency and dignity of his death and sacrifice, calling his blood, by reason of the unity of his person, “God’s own blood,” Acts xx. 28; exalting it infinitely above all other sacrifices, as having for its principle “the eternal Spirit,” and being itself “without spot,” Heb. ix. 14; transcendently more precious than silver, or gold, or corruptible things, 1 Pet. i. 18; able to give justification from all things, from which by the law men could not be justified, Acts xiii. 28. Now, such as was the sacrifice and offering of Christ in itself, such was it intended by his Father it should be. It was, then, the purpose and intention of God that his Son should offer a sacrifice of infinite worth, value, and dignity, sufficient in itself for the redeeming of all and every man, if it had pleased the Lord to employ it to that purpose; yea, and of other worlds also, if the Lord should freely make them, and would redeem them. Sufficient we say, then, was the sacrifice of Christ for the redemption of the whole world, and for the expiation of all 296the sins of all and every man in the world. This sufficiency of his sacrifice hath a twofold rise:— First, The dignity of the person that did offer and was offered. Secondly, The greatness of the pain he endured, by which he was able to bear, and did undergo, the whole curse of the law and wrath of God due to sin. And this sets out the innate, real, true worth and value of the blood-shedding of Jesus Christ. This is its own true internal perfection and sufficiency. That it should be applied unto any, made a price for them, and become beneficial to them, according to the worth that is in it, is external to it, doth not arise from it, but merely depends upon the intention and will of God. It was in itself of infinite value and sufficiency to have been made a price to have bought and purchased all and every man in the world. That it did formally become a price for any is solely to be ascribed to the purpose of God, intending their purchase and redemption by it. The intention of the offerer and accepter that it should be for such, some, or any, is that which gives the formality of a price unto it; this is external. But the value and fitness of it to be made a price ariseth from its own internal sufficiency. Hence may appear what is to be thought of that old distinction of the schoolmen, embraced and used by divers protestant divines, though by others again rejected, — namely, “That Christ died for all in respect of the sufficiency of the ransom he paid, but not in respect of the efficacy of its application;” or, “The blood of Christ was a sufficient price for the sins of all the world;” — which last expression is corrected by some, and thus asserted, “That the blood of Christ was sufficient to have been made a price for all;” which is most true, as was before declared: for its being a price for all or some doth not arise from its own sufficiency, worth, or dignity, but from the intention of God and Christ using it to that purpose, as was declared; and, therefore, it is denied that the blood of Christ was a sufficient price and ransom for all and every one, not because it was not sufficient, but because it was not a ransom. And so it easily appears what is to be owned in the distinction itself before expressed. If it intend no more but that the blood of our Saviour was of sufficient value for the redemption of all and every one, and that Christ intended to lay down a price which should be sufficient for their redemption, it is acknowledged as most true. But the truth is, that expression, “To die for them,” holds out the intention of our Saviour, in the laying down of the price, to have been their redemption; which we deny, and affirm that then it could not be but that they must be made actual partakers of the eternal redemption purchased for them, unless God failed in his design, through the defect of the ransom paid by Christ, his justice refusing to give a dismission upon the delivery of the ransom.
Now, the infinite value and worth which we assert to be in the 297death of Christ we conceive to be exceedingly undervalued by the assertors of universal redemption; for that it should be extended to this or that object, fewer or more, we showed before to be extrinsical to it. But its true worth consists in the immediate effects, products, and issues of it, with what in its own nature it is fit and able to do; which they openly and apparently undervalue, yea, almost annihilate. Hence those expressions concerning it:— First, That by it a door of grace was opened for sinners: where, I suppose, they know not; but that any were [ever] effectually carried in at the door by it, that they deny. Secondly, That God might, if he would, and upon what condition he pleased, save those for whom Christ died. That a right of salvation was by him purchased for any, they deny. Hence they grant, that after the death of Christ, — first, God might have dealt with man upon a legal condition again; secondly, That all and every man might have been damned, and yet the death of Christ have had its full effect; as also, moreover, That faith and sanctification are not purchased by his death, yea, no more for any (as before) than what he may go to hell withal. And divers other ways do they express their low thoughts and slight imaginations concerning the innate value and sufficiency of the death and blood-shedding of Jesus Christ. To the honour, then, of Jesus Christ our Mediator, God and man, our all-sufficient Redeemer, we affirm, such and so great was the dignity and worth of his death and blood-shedding, of so precious a value, of such an infinite fulness and sufficiency was this oblation of himself, that it was every way able and perfectly sufficient to redeem, justify, and reconcile and save all the sinners in the world, and to satisfy the justice of God for all the sins of all mankind, and to bring them every one to everlasting glory. Now, this fulness and sufficiency of the merit of the death of Christ is a foundation unto two things:—
First, The general publishing of the gospel unto “all nations,” with the right that it hath to be preached to “every creature,” Matt. xxviii. 19; Mark xvi. 15; because the way of salvation which it declares is wide enough for all to walk in. There is enough in the remedy it brings to light to heal all their diseases, to deliver them from all their evils. If there were a thousand worlds, the gospel of Christ might, upon this ground, be preached to them all, there being enough in Christ for the salvation of them all, if so be they will derive virtue from him by touching him in faith; the only way to draw refreshment from this fountain of salvation. It is, then, altogether in vain which some object, that the preaching of the gospel to all is altogether needless and useless, if Christ died not for all; yea, that it is to make God call upon men to believe that which is not true, — namely, that Christ died for them: for, first, besides that amongst those 298nations whither the gospel is sent there are some to be saved (“I have much people,”) which they cannot be, in the way that God hath appointed to do it, unless the gospel be preached to others as well as themselves; and besides, secondly, that in the economy and dispensation of the new covenant, by which all external differences and privileges of people, tongues, and nations being abolished and taken away, the word of grace was to be preached without distinction, and all men called everywhere to repent; and, thirdly, that when God calleth upon men to believe, he doth not, in the first place, call upon them to believe that Christ died for them, but that there is no name under heaven given unto men whereby they might be saved, but only of Jesus Christ, through whom salvation is preached; — I say, besides these certain truths, fully taking off that objection, this one thing of which we speak is a sufficient basis and ground for all those general precepts of preaching the gospel unto all men, even that sufficiency which we have described.
Secondly, That the preachers of the gospel, in their particular congregations, being utterly unacquainted with the purpose and secret counsel of God, being also forbidden to pry or search into it, Deut. xxix. 29, may from hence justifiably call upon every man to believe, with assurance of salvation to every one in particular upon his so doing, knowing, and being fully persuaded of this, that there is enough in the death of Christ to save every one that shall so do; leaving the purpose and counsel of God, on whom he will bestow faith, and for whom in particular Christ died (even as they are commanded), to himself.
And this is one principal thing, which, being well observed, will crush many of the vain flourishes of our adversaries; as will in particular hereafter appear.
2. A second thing to be considered is, the economy or administration of the new covenant in the times of the gospel, with the amplitude and enlargement of the kingdom and dominion of Christ after his appearance in the flesh; whereby, all external differences being taken away, the name of Gentiles removed, the partition-wall broken down, the promise to Abraham that he should be heir of the world, as he was father of the faithful, was now fully to be accomplished. Now, this administration is so opposite to that dispensation which was restrained to one people and family, who were God’s peculiar, and all the rest of the world excluded, that it gives occasion to many general expressions in the Scripture; which are far enough from comprehending a universality of all individuals, but denote only a removal of all such restraining exceptions as were before in force. So that a consideration of the end whereunto these general expressions are used, and of what is aimed at by them, will clearly 299manifest their nature, and how they are to be understood, with whom they are that are intended by them and comprehended in them. For it being only this enlargement of the visible kingdom of Christ to all nations in respect of right, and to many in respect of fact (God having elect in all those nations to be brought forth, in the several generations wherein the means of grace are in those places employed), that is intended, it is evident that they import only a distribution of men through all differences whatsoever, and not a universal collection of all and every one; the thing intended by them requiring the one and not the other. Hence, those objections which are made against the particularity of the ransom of Christ, and the restraining of it only to the elect, from the terms of all, all men, all nations, the world, the whole world, and the like, are all of them exceeding weak and invalid, as wresting the general expressions of the Scripture beyond their aim and intent, they being used by the Holy Ghost only to evidence the removal of all personal and national distinctions, — the breaking up of all the narrow bounds of the Old Testament, the enlarging the kingdom of Christ beyond the bounds of Jewry and Salem, abolishing all old restrictions, and opening a way for the elect amongst all people (called “The fulness of the Gentiles,”) to come in; there being now “neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free, but Christ is all, and in all,” Col. iii. 11. Hence the Lord promiseth to “pour out his Spirit upon all flesh,” Joel ii. 28; which Peter interpreteth to be accomplished by the filling of the apostles with the gifts of the Spirit, that they might be enabled to preach to several nations, Acts ii. 17, “having received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations” Rom. i. 5; — not the Jews only, but some among all nations, “the gospel being the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek,” verse 16; intending only, as to salvation, the peculiar bought by Christ, which he “redeemed out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation,” Rev. v. 9, where ye have an evident distribution of that which in other places is generally set down; the gospel being commanded to be preached to all these nations, Matt. xxviii. 19, that those bought and redeemed ones amongst them all might be brought home to God, John xi. 52. And this is that which the apostle so largely sets forth, Eph. ii. 14–17. Now, in this sense, which we have explained, and no other, are those many places to be taken which are usually urged for universal grace and redemption, as shall afterward be declared in particular.
3. We must exactly distinguish between man’s duty and God’s purpose, there being no connection between them. The purpose and decree of God is not the rule of our duty; neither is the performance 300of our duty in doing what we are commanded any declaration of what is God’s purpose to do, or his decree that it should be done. Especially is this to be seen and considered in the duty of the ministers of the gospel, in the dispensing of the word, in exhortations, invitations, precepts, and threatenings, committed unto them; all which are perpetual declaratives of our duty, and do manifest the approbation of the thing exhorted and invited to, with the truth of the connection between one thing and another, but not of the counsel and purpose of God, in respect of individual persons, in the ministry of the word. A minister is not to make inquiry after, nor to trouble himself about, those secrets of the eternal mind of God, namely, — whom he purposeth to save, and whom he hath sent Christ to die for in particular. It is enough for them to search his revealed will, and thence take their directions, from whence they have their commissions. Wherefore, there is no sequel between the universal precepts from the word concerning the things, unto God’s purpose in himself concerning persons. They command and invite all to repent and believe; but they know not in particular on whom God will bestow repentance unto salvation, nor in whom he will effect the work of faith with power. And when they make proffers and tenders in the name of God to all, they do not say to all, “It is the purpose and intention of God that ye should believe,” (who gave them any such power?) but, that it is his command, which makes it their duty to do what is required of them; and they do not declare his mind, what himself in particular will do. The external offer is such as from which every man may conclude his own duty; none, God’s purpose, which yet may be known upon performance of his duty. Their objection, then, is vain, who affirm that God hath given Christ for all to whom he offers Christ in the preaching of the gospel; for his offer in the preaching of the gospel is not declarative to any in particular, neither of what God hath done nor of what he will do in reference to him, but of what he ought to do, if he would be approved of God and obtain the good things promised. Whence it will follow, —
First, That God always intends to save some among them to whom he sends the gospel in its power. And the ministers of it being, first, unacquainted with his particular purpose; secondly, bound to seek the good of all and every one, as much as in them lies; thirdly, to hope and judge well of all, even as it is meet for them, — they may make a proffer of Jesus Christ, with life and salvation in him, notwithstanding that the Lord hath given his Son only to his elect.
Secondly, That this offer is neither vain nor fruitless, being declarative of their duty, and of what is acceptable to God if it be performed 301as it ought to be, even as it is required. And if any ask, What it is of the mind and will of God that is declared and made known when men are commanded to believe for whom Christ did not die? I answer, first, What they ought to do, if they will do that which is acceptable to God; secondly, The sufficiency of salvation that is in Jesus Christ to all that believe on him; thirdly, The certain, infallible, inviolable connection that is between faith and salvation, so that whosoever performs the one shall surely enjoy the other, for whoever comes to Christ he will in no wise cast out. Of which more afterward.
4. The ingrafted erroneous persuasion of the Jews, which for a while had a strong influence upon the apostles themselves, restraining salvation and deliverance by the Messiah, or promised seed, to themselves alone, who were the offspring of Abraham according to the flesh, must be considered as the ground of many general expressions and enlargements of the objects of redemption; which yet, being so occasioned, give no colour of any unlimited universality. That the Jews were generally infected with this proud opinion, that all the promises belonged only to them and theirs, towards whom they had a universality, exclusive of all others, whom they called “dogs, uncircumcised,” and poured out curses on them, is most apparent. Hence, when they saw the multitudes of the Gentiles coming to the preaching of Paul, they were “filled with envy, contradicting, blaspheming, and raising up persecution against them,” Acts xiii. 45–50; which the apostle again relates of them, 1 Thess. ii. 15, 16. “They please not God,” saith he, “and are contrary to all men; forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved;” being not with any thing more enraged in the preaching of our Saviour than his prediction of letting out his vineyard to others.
That the apostles themselves, also, had deeply drunk in this opinion, learned by tradition from their fathers, appeareth, not only in their questioning about the restoration of the kingdom unto Israel, Acts i. 6, but also most evidently in this, that after they had received commission to teach and baptize all nations, Matt. xxviii. 19, or every creature, Mark xvi. 15, and were endued with power from above so to do, according to promise, Acts i. 8; yet they seem to have understood their commission to have extended only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, for they went about and preached only to the Jews, chap. xi. 19: and when the contrary was evidenced and demonstrated to them, they glorified God, saying, “Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life,” verse 18; admiring at it, as a thing which before they were not acquainted with. And no wonder that men were not easily nor soon persuaded to this, it being the great mystery that was not made known in former ages, as it 302was then revealed to God’s holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit — namely, “That the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel,” Eph. iii. 5, 6.
But now, this being so made known unto them by the Spirit, and that the time was come wherein the little sister was to be considered, the prodigal brought home, and Japheth persuaded to dwell in the tents of Shem, they laboured by all means to root it out of the minds of their brethren according to the flesh, of whom they had a special care; — as also, to leave no scruple in the mind of the eunuch, that he was a dry tree; or of the Gentile, that he was cut off from the people of God. To which end they use divers general expressions, carrying a direct opposition to that former error, which was absolutely destructive to the kingdom of Jesus Christ. Hence are those terms of the world, all men, all nations, every creature, and the like, used in the business of redemption and preaching of the gospel; these things being not restrained, according as they supposed, to one certain nation and family, but extended to the universality of God’s people scattered abroad in every region under heaven. Especially are these expressions used by John, who, living to see the first coming of the Lord, in that fearful judgment and vengeance which he executed upon the Jewish nation some forty years after his death, is very frequent in the asserting of the benefit of the world by Christ, in opposition, as I said before, to the Jewish nation, — giving us a rule how to understand such phrases and locutions: John xi. 51, 52, “He signified that Jesus should die for that nation; and not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad;” conformably whereunto he tells the believing Jews that Christ is not a propitiation for them only, “but for the sins of the whole world,” 1 John ii. 2, or the people of God scattered throughout the whole world, not tied to any one nation, as they sometime vainly imagined. And this may and doth give much light into the sense and meaning of those places where the words world and all are used in the business of redemption. They do not hold out a collective universality, but a general distribution into men of all sorts, in opposition to the before-recounted erroneous persuasion.
5. The extent, nature, and signification of those general terms which we have frequently used indefinitely in the Scripture, to set out the object of the redemption by Christ, must seriously be weighed. Upon these expressions hangs the whole weight of the opposite cause, the chief if not the only argument for the universality of redemption being taken from words which seem to be of a latitude in their signification equal to such an assertion, as the world, the 303whole world, all, and the like; which terms, when they have once fastened upon, they run with, “Io triumphe,” as though the victory were surely theirs. The world, the whole world, all, all men! — who can oppose it? Call them to the context in the several places where the words are; appeal to rules of interpretation; mind them of the circumstances and scope of the place, the sense of the same words in other places; with other fore-named helps and assistances which the Lord hath acquainted us with for the discovery of his mind and will in his word, — they presently cry out, the bare word, the letter is theirs: “Away with the gloss and interpretation; give us leave to believe what the word expressly saith;” — little (as I hope) imagining, being deluded with the love of their own darling, that if this assertion be general, and they will not allow us the gift of interpretation agreeable to the proportion of faith, that, at one clap, they confirm the cursed madness of the Anthropomorphites, — assigning a human body, form and shape, unto God, who hath none; and the alike cursed figment of transubstantiation, overthrowing the body of Christ, who hath one; with divers other most pernicious errors. Let them, then, as long as they please, continue such empty clamours, fit to terrify and shake weak and unstable men; for the truth’s sake we will not be silent: and I hope we shall very easily make it appear that the general terms that are used in this business will indeed give no colour to any argument for universal redemption, whether absolute or conditionate.
Two words there are that are mightily stuck upon or stumbled at; — first, The world; secondly, All. The particular places wherein they are, and from which the arguments of our adversaries are urged, we shall afterward consider, and for the present only show that the words themselves, according to the Scripture use, do not necessarily hold out any collective universality of those concerning whom they are affirmed, but, being words of various significations, must be interpreted according to the scope of the place where they are used and the subject-matter of which, the Scripture treateth in those places.
First, then, for the word world, which in the New Testament is called κόσμος (for there is another word sometimes translated world, namely, αἰών, that belongs not to this matter, noting rather the duration of time than the thing in that space continuing): he that doth not acknowledge it to be πολύσημον, need say no more to manifest his unacquaintedness in the book of God. I shall briefly give you so many various significations of it as shall make it apparent that from the bare usage of a word so exceedingly equivocal, no argument can be taken, until it be distinguished, and the meaning thereof in that particular place evinced from whence the argument is taken.
2. Μερικῶς, idque vel pro
1. Cœlo aspectabili.
2. Terra habitabili.
2. Adjunctivè, ratione
1. Incolarum, idque
1. Collectivè, seu κατὰ πάντας.
2. Distributivè, pro
3. Signanter, pro
1. Bonis, seu electis.
2. Malis, seu reprobis.
4. Ἀορίστως, seu communiter.
5. Restrictivè, seu συνεκδοχικῶς, pro
1. Corruptionis, unde sumitur pro
1. Ipsa corruptione.
2. Sede corruptionis.
3. Terrena conditione.
2. Maledictionis.3434 The following is a translation of the above scheme:—
The World is taken,
2. Partially; for
(1.) The visible heaven.
(2.) The habitable earth.
II. Adjunctively, in respect of,
1. The inhabitants, and that, —
(1.) Collectively for the whole.
(2.) Distributively; for, —
(3.) Signally, —
[1.] The good, or elect.
[2.] The wicked, or reprobate.
(4.) Indifferently, or in common.
(5.) Restrictively or synecdochially; for, —
[1.] The chief.
[2.] The Romans.
2. The accidents;
(1.) Of corruption.
[1.] Corruption itself.
[2.] The seat of corruption.
[3.] The earthly condition.
(2.) Of the curse. — Ed.
All these distinctions of the use of the word are made out in the following observations:—
The word world in the Scripture is in general taken five ways:—
First, Pro mundo continente; and that, — First, generally, ὅλως, for the whole fabric of heaven and earth, with all things in them contained, which in the beginning were created of God: so Job xxxiv. 13; Acts xvii. 24; Eph. i. 4, and in very many other places. Secondly, Distinctively, first, for the heavens, and all things belonging to them, distinguished from the earth, Ps. xc. 2; secondly, The habitable earth, and this very frequently, as Ps. xxiv. 1, xcviii. 7; Matt. xiii. 38; John i. 9, iii. 17, 19, vi. 14, xvii. 11; 1 Tim. i. 15, vi. 7.
Secondly, For the world contained, especially men in the world; and that either, — First, universally for all and every one, Rom. iii. 6, 19, v. 12. Secondly, Indefinitely for men, without restriction 305or enlargement, John vii. 4; Isa. xiii. 11. Thirdly, Exegetically, for many, which is the most usual acceptation of the word, Matt. xviii. 7; John iv. 42, xii. 19, xvi. 8, xvii. 21; 1 Cor. iv. 9; Rev. xiii. 3. Fourthly, Comparatively, for a great part of the world, Rom. i. 8; Matt. xxiv. 14, xxvi. 13; Rom. x. 18. Fifthly, Restrictively, for the inhabitants of the Roman empire, Luke ii. 1. Sixthly, For men distinguished in their several qualifications, as, — 1st, For the good, God’s people, either in designation or possession, Ps. xxii. 27; John iii. 16, vi. 33, 51; Rom. iv. 13, xi. 12, 15; 2 Cor. v. 19; Col. i. 6; 1 John ii. 2. 2dly, For the evil, wicked, rejected men of the world, Isa. xiii. 11; John vii. 7, xiv. 17, 22, xv. 19, xvii. 25; 1 Cor. vi. 2, xi. 32; Heb. xi. 38; 2 Pet. ii. 5; 1 John v. 19; Rev. xiii. 3.
Thirdly, For the world corrupted, or that universal corruption which is in all things in it, as Gal. i. 4, vi. 14; Eph. ii. 2; James i. 27, iv. 4; 1 John ii. 15–17; 1 Cor. vii. 31, 33; Col. ii. 8; 2 Tim. iv. 10; Rom. xii. 2; 1 Cor. i. 20, 21, iii. 18, 19.
Fifthly, For the world accursed, as under the power of Satan, John vii. 7, xiv. 30, xvi. 11, 33; 1 Cor. ii. 12; 2 Cor. iv. 4; Eph. vi. 12. And divers other significations hath this word in holy writ, which are needless to recount.
These I have rehearsed to show the vanity of that clamour wherewith some men fill their mouths, and frighten unstable souls with the Scripture mentioning world so often in the business of redemption, as though some strength might be taken thence for the upholding of the general ransom. “Parvas habet spes Troja, si tales habet.” If their greatest strength be but sophistical craft, taken from the ambiguity of an equivocal word, their whole endeavour is like to prove fruitless. Now, as I have declared that it hath divers other acceptations in the Scripture, so when I come to a consideration of their objections that use the word for this purpose, I hope, by God’s assistance, to show that in no one place wherein it is used in this business of redemption, it is or can be taken for all and every man in the world, as, indeed, it is in very few places besides. So that, forasmuch as concerning this word our way will be clear, if to what hath been said ye add these observations, —
First, That as in other words, so in these, this is in the Scripture usually an ἀντανάκλασις, whereby the same word is ingeminated in a different sense and acceptation. So Matt. viii. 22, “Let the dead bury their dead;” — dead in the first place denoting them that are spiritually dead in sin; in the next, those that are naturally dead by a dissolution of soul and body. So John i. 11, He came εἰς τὰ ἴδια, 306“to his own,” even all things that he had made; καὶ οἱ ἴδιοι, “his own,” that is, the greatest part of the people, “received him not.” So, again, John iii. 6, “That which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” Spirit in the first place is the almighty Spirit of God; in the latter, a spiritual life of grace received from him. Now, in such places as these, to argue that as such is the signification of the word in one place, therefore in the other, were violently to pervert the mind of the Holy Ghost. Thus also is the word world usually changed in the meaning thereof. So John i. 10, “He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.” He that should force the same signification upon the world in that triple mention of it would be an egregious glosser: for in the first, it plainly signifieth some part of the habitable earth, and is taken subjectivè μερικῶς· in the second, the whole frame of heaven and earth, and is taken subjectivè ὁλικῶς· and, in the third, for some men living in the earth, — namely, unbelievers, who may be said to be the world adjunctivè. So, again, John iii. 17, “God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved;” where, by the world in the first, is necessarily to be understood that part of the habitable world wherein our Saviour conversed; in the second, all men in the world, as some suppose (so also there is a truth in it, for our Saviour came not to condemn all men in the world: for, first, condemnation of any was not the prime aim of his coming; secondly, he came to save his own people, and so not to condemn all); in the third, God’s elect, or believers living in the world, in their several generations, who were they whom he intended to save, and none else, or he faileth of his purpose, and the endeavour of Christ is insufficient for the accomplishment of that whereunto it is designed.
Secondly, That no argument can be taken from a phrase of speech in the Scripture, in any particular place, if in other places thereof where it is used the signification pressed from that place is evidently denied, unless the scope of the place or subject-matter do enforce it. For instance: God is said to love the world, and send his Son; to be in Christ reconciling the world to himself; and Christ to be a propitiation for the sins of the whole world. If the scope of the places where these assertions are, or the subject-matter of which they treat, will enforce a universality of all persons to be meant by the word world, so let it be, without control. But if not, if there be no enforcement of any such interpretation from the places themselves, why should the world there signify all and every one, more than in John i. 10, “The world knew him not,” which, if it be meant of all without exception, then no one did believe in Christ, which is contrary to verse 12; or in Luke ii. 1, “That all the world should be taxed,” where none but the chief inhabitants of the Roman empire can be understood; or in John viii. 26, “I speak to the world 307those things which I have heard of him,” understanding the Jews to whom he spake, who then lived in the world, and not every one, to whom he was not sent; or in John xii. 19, “Behold, the world is gone after him!” which world was nothing but a great multitude of one small nation; or in 1 John v. 19, “The whole world lieth in wickedness,” from which, notwithstanding, all believers are to be understood as exempted; or in Rev. xiii. 3, “All the world wondered after the beast,” which, whether it be affirmed of the whole universality of individuals in the world, let all judge? That all nations, an expression of equal extent with that of the world, is in like manner to be understood, is apparent, Rom. i. 5; Rev. xviii. 3, 23; Ps. cxviii. 10; 1 Chron. xiv. 17; Jer. xxvii. 7. It being evident that the words world, all the world, the whole world, do, where taken adjunctively for men in the world, usually and almost always denote only some or many men in the world, distinguished into good or bad, believers or unbelievers, elect or reprobate, by what is immediately in the several places affirmed of them, I see no reason in the world why they should be wrested to any other meaning or sense in the places that are in controversy between us and our opponents. The particular places we shall afterward consider.
Now, as we have said of the word world, so we may of the word all, wherein much strength is placed, and many causeless boastings are raised from it. That it is nowhere affirmed in the Scripture that Christ died for all men, or gave himself a ransom for all men, much less for all and every man, we have before declared. That he “gave himself a ransom for all” is expressly affirmed, 1 Tim. ii. 6. But now, who this all should be, whether all believers, or all the elect, or some of all sorts, or all of every sort, is in debate. Our adversaries affirm the last; and the main reason they bring to assert their interpretation is from the importance of the word itself: for, that the circumstances of the place, the analogy of faith, and other helps for exposition, do not at all favour their gloss, we shall show when we come to the particular places urged. For the present, let us look upon the word in its usual acceptation in the Scripture, and search whether it always necessarily requires such an interpretation.
That the word all, being spoken of among all sorts of men, speaking, writing, any way expressing themselves, but especially in holy writ, is to be taken either collectively for all in general, without exception, or distributively for some of all sorts, excluding none, is more apparent than that it can require any illustration. That it is sometimes taken in the first sense, for all collectively, is granted, and I need not prove it, they whom we oppose affirming that this is the only sense of the word, — though I dare boldly say it is not once in ten times so to be understood in the usage of it through the whole book of God; but that it is commonly, and indeed properly, used in the 308latter sense, for some of all sorts, concerning whatsoever it is affirmed, a few instances, for many that might be urged, will make it clear. Thus, then, ye have it, John xii. 32, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all unto me.” That we translate it “all men,” as in other places (for though I know the sense may be the same, yet the word men being not in the original, but only πάντας), I cannot approve. But who, I pray, are these all? Are they all and every one? Then are all and every one drawn to Christ, made believers, and truly converted, and shall be certainly saved; for those that come unto him by his and his Father’s drawing, “he will in no wise cast out,” John vi. 37. All, then, can here be no other than many, some of all sorts, no sort excluded, according as the word is interpreted in Rev. v. 9, “Thou hast redeemed us out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.” These are the all he draws to him: which exposition of this phrase is with me of more value and esteem than a thousand glosses of the sons of men. So also, Luke xi. 42, where our translators have made the word to signify immediately and properly (for translators are to keep close to the propriety and native signification of every word) what we assert to be the right interpretation of it; for they render πᾶν λάχανον (which ῥητῶς is “every herb”), “all manner of herbs,” taking the word (as it must be) distributively, for herbs of all sorts, and not for any individual herb, which the Pharisees did not, could not tithe. And in the very same sense is the word used again, Luke xviii. 12, “I give tithes of all that I possess;” where it cannot signify every individual thing, as is apparent. Most evident, also, is this restrained signification of the word, Acts ii. 17, “I will pour out of my Spirit, ἐπὶ πᾶσαν σάρκα·” which, whether it compriseth every man or no, let every man judge, and not rather men of several and sundry sorts. The same course of interpretation as formerly is followed by our translators, Acts x. 12, rendering πάντα τὰ τετράποδα, (literally, “all beasts or four-footed creatures,”) “all manner of beasts,” or beasts of sundry several sorts. In the same sense also must it be understood, Rom. xiv. 2, “One believeth that he may eat all things;” that is, what he pleaseth of things to be eaten of. See, moreover, 1 Cor. i. 5. Yea, in that very chapter where men so eagerly contend that the word all is to be taken for all and every one (though fruitlessly and falsely, as shall be demonstrated), — namely, 1 Tim. ii. 4, where it is said that “God will have all men to be saved,” — in that very chapter confessedly the word is to be expounded according to the sense we give, namely, verse 8, “I will, therefore, that men pray ἐν παντὶ τόπῳ·” which, that it cannot signify every individual place in heaven, earth, and hell, is of all confessed, and needeth no proof; no more than when our Saviour is said to cure πᾶσαν νόσον, as Matt. ix. 35, there is need to prove that he did not cure every disease of every man, but only all sorts of diseases.
309Sundry other instances might be given to manifest that this is the most usual and frequent signification of the word all in the holy Scripture; and, therefore, from the bare word nothing can be inferred to enforce an absolute unlimited universality of all individuals to be intimated thereby. The particular places insisted on we shall afterward consider. I shall conclude all concerning these general expressions that are used in the Scripture about this business in these observations:—
First, The word all is certainly and unquestionably sometimes restrained, and to be restrained, to all of some sorts, although the qualification be not expressed which is the bond of the limitation: so for all believers, 1 Cor. xv. 22; Eph. iv. 6; Rom. v. 18, “The free gift came upon all men to justification of life:” which “all men,” that are so actually justified, are no more nor less than those that are Christ’s, — that is, believers; for certainly justification is not without faith.
Secondly, The word all is sometimes used for some of all sorts, Jer. xxxi. 34. The word כוּלָּם is by Paul rendered πάντες, Heb. viii. 11; so John xii. 32; 1 Tim. ii. 1–3; which is made apparent by the mention of “kings,” as one sort of people there intended. And I make no doubt but it will appear to all that the word must be taken in one of these senses in every place where it is used in the business of redemption; as shall be proved.
Thirdly, Let a diligent comparison be made between the general expressions of the New with the predictions of the Old Testament, and they will be found to be answerable to, and expository of, one another; the Lord affirming in the New that that was done which in the Old he foretold should be done. Now, in the predictions and prophecies of the Old Testament, that all nations, all flesh, all people, all the ends, families, or kindreds of the earth, the world, the whole earth, the isles, shall be converted, look up to Christ, come to the mountain of the Lord, and the like, none doubts but that the elect of God in all nations are only signified, knowing that in them alone those predictions have the truth of their accomplishment. And why should the same expressions used in the Gospel, and many of them aiming directly to declare the fulfilling of the other, be wire-drawn to a large extent, so contrary to the mind of the Holy Ghost? In fine, as when the Lord is said to wipe tears from all faces, it hinders not but that the reprobates shall be cast out to eternity where there is weeping and wailing, etc.; so when Christ is said to die for all, it hinders not but that those reprobates may perish to eternity for their sins, without any effectual remedy intended for them, though occasionally proposed to some of them.
6. Observe that the Scripture often speaketh of things and persons according to the appearance they have, and the account that is of 310them amongst men, or that esteem that they have of them to whom it speaketh, — frequently speaking of men and unto men as in the condition wherein they are according to outward appearance, upon which human judgment must proceed, and not what they are indeed. Thus, many are called and said to be wise, just, and righteous, according as they are so esteemed, though the Lord knows them to be foolish sinners. So Jerusalem is called “The holy city,” Matt. xxvii. 53, because it was so in esteem and appearance, when indeed it was a very “den of thieves.” And 2 Chron. xxviii. 23, it is said of Ahaz, that wicked king of Judah, that “he sacrificed to the gods of Damascus that smote him.” It was the Lord alone that smote him, and those idols to which he sacrificed were but stocks and stones, the work of men’s hands, which could no way help themselves, much less smite their enemies; yet the Holy Ghost useth an expression answering his idolatrous persuasion, and saith, “They smote him.” Nay, is it not said of Christ, John v. 18, that he had broken the Sabbath, which yet he only did in the corrupt opinion of the blinded Pharisees?
Add, moreover, to what hath been said, that which is of no less an undeniable truth, — namely, that many things which are proper and peculiar to the children of God are oft and frequently assigned to them who live in the same outward communion with them, and are partakers of the same external privileges, though indeed aliens in respect of the participation of the grace of the promise. Put, I say, these two things, which are most evident, together, and it will easily appear that those places which seem to express a possibility of perishing and eternal destruction to them who are said to be redeemed by the blood of Christ, are no ways advantageous to the adversaries of the effectual redemption of God’s elect by the blood of Christ; because such may be said to be redeemed κατὰ τὴν δόξαν, not κατὰ τὴν ἀλήθειαν, — κατὰ τὸ φαίνεσθαι, not κατὰ τὸ εἷναι, — in respect of appearance, not reality, as is the use of the Scripture in divers other things.
7. That which is spoken according to the judgment of charity on our parts must not always be exactly squared and made answerable to verity in respect of them of whom any thing is affirmed. For the rectitude of our judgment, it sufficeth that we proceed according to the rules of judging that are given us; for what is out of our cognizance, whether that answer to our judgments or no, belongs not to us. Thus, oftentimes the apostles in the Scriptures write unto men, and term them “holy,” “saints,” yea, “elected;” but from thence positively to conclude that they were all so indeed, we have no warrant. So Peter, 1 Pet. i. 1, 2, calls all the strangers to whom he wrote, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father,” etc.; and yet that I have any warrant to conclude, de fide, that all were such, none 311dare affirm. So Paul tells the Thessalonians, the whole church to whom he wrote, that he “knew their election of God,” 1 Thess. i. 4; 2 Thess. ii. 13, he blesseth God “who had chosen them to salvation.” Now, did not Paul make this judgment of them by the rule of charity? according as he affirms in another place, “It is meet for me to think so of you all,” Phil. i. 7; and can it, ought it, hence to be infallibly concluded that they were all elected? If some of these should be found to fall away from the gospel and to have perished, would an argument from thence be valid that the elect might perish? would we not presently answer, that they were said to be elected according to the judgment of charity, not that they were so indeed? And why is not this answer as sufficient and satisfying when it is given to the objection taken from the perishing of some who were said to be redeemed merely in the judgment of charity, as when they were said to be elected?
8. The infallible connection, according to God’s purpose and will, of faith and salvation, which is frequently the thing intended in gospel proposals, must be considered. The Lord hath in his counsel established it, and revealed in his word, that there is an indissoluble bond between these two things, so that “he that believeth shall be saved,” Mark xvi. 16; which, indeed, is the substance of the gospel, in the outward promulgation thereof. This is the testimony of God, that eternal life is in his Son; which whoso believeth, he sets to his seal that God is true; he who believes not doing what in him lieth to make God a liar, 1 John v. 9–11. Now, this connection of the means and the end, faith and life, is the only thing which is signified and held out to innumerable to whom the gospel is preached, all the commands, proffers, and promises that are made unto them intimating no more than this will of God, that believers shall certainly be saved; which is an unquestionable divine verity and a sufficient object for supernatural faith to rest upon, and which being not closed with is a sufficient cause of damnation: John viii. 24, “If ye believe not that I am he” (that is, “the way, the truth, and the life”), “ye shall die in your sins.”
It is a vain imagination of some, that when the command and promise of believing are made out to any man, though he be of the number of them that shall certainly perish, yet the Lord hath a conditional will of his salvation, and intends that he shall be saved, on condition that he will believe; when the condition lieth not at all in the will of God, which is always absolute, but is only between the things to them proposed, as was before declared. And those poor deluded things, who will be standing upon their own legs before they are well able to crawl, and might justly be persuaded to hold by men of more strength, do exceedingly betray their own conceited ignorance, when, with great pomp, they hold out the broken pieces of 312an old Arminian sophism with acclamations of grace to this new discovery (for so they think of all that is new to them), — namely, “As is God’s proffer, so is his intention; but he calls to all to believe and be saved: therefore he intends it to all.” For, —
First, God doth not proffer life to all upon the condition of faith, passing by a great part of mankind without any such proffer made to them at all.
Secondly, If by God’s proffer they understand his command and promise, who told them that these things were declarative of his will and purpose or intention? He commands Pharaoh to let his people go; but did he intend he should so do according to his command? had he not foretold that he would so order things that he should not let them go? I thought always that God’s commands and promises had revealed our duty, and not his purpose; what God would have us to do, and not what he will do. His promises, indeed, as particularly applied, hold out his mind to the persons to whom they are applied; but as indefinitely proposed, they reveal no other intention of God but what we before discovered, which concerns things, not persons, even his determinate purpose infallibly to connect faith and salvation.
Thirdly, If the proffer be (as they say) universal, and the intention of God be answerable thereunto, — that is, he intends the salvation of them to whom the tender of it upon faith is made, or may be so; then, — First, What becomes of election and reprobation? Neither of them, certainly, can consist with this universal purpose of saving us all. Secondly, If he intend it, why is it, then, not accomplished? doth he fail of his purpose? “Dum vitant stulti vitia, in contraria currunt.” Is not this certain Scylla worse than the other feared Charybdis? But they say, “He intendeth it only upon condition; and the condition being not fulfilled, he fails not in his purpose, though the thing be not conferred.” But did the Lord foreknow whether the condition would be fulfilled by them to whom the proposal was made, or not? If not, where is his prescience, his omniscience? If he did, how can he be said to intend salvation to them of whom he certainly knew that they would never fulfil the condition on which it was to be attained; and, moreover, knew it with this circumstance, that the condition was not to be attained without his bestowing, and that he had determined not to bestow it? Would they ascribe such a will and purpose to a wise man as they do ignorantly and presumptuously to the only wise God, — namely, that he should intend to have a thing done upon the performance of such a condition as he knew full well without him could never be performed, and he had fully resolved not to effect it: for instance, to give his daughter in marriage to such a one, upon condition he would give unto him such a jewel as he hath not, nor can have, unless he bestow 313it upon him, which he is resolved never to do? Oh, whither will blindness and ignorance, esteemed light and knowledge, carry poor deluded souls? This, then, is the main thing demonstrated and held out in the promulgation of the gospel, especially for what concerns unbelievers, even the strict connection between the duty of faith assigned and the benefit of life promised; which hath a truth of universal extent, grounded upon the plenary sufficiency of the death of Christ, towards all that shall believe. And I see no reason why this should be termed part of the mystery of the Universalists; though the lowest part (as it is by M― S―, page 202), that the gospel could not be preached to all unless Christ died for all; which, with what is mentioned before concerning another and higher part of it, is an old, rotten, carnal, and long-since-confuted sophism, arising out of the ignorance of the word and right reason, which are no way contrary.
9. The mixed distribution of the elect and reprobates, believers and unbelievers, according to the purpose and mind of God, throughout the whole world, and in the several places thereof, in all or most of the single congregations, is another ground of holding out a tender of the blood of Jesus Christ to them for whom it was never shed, as is apparent in the event by the ineffectualness of its proposals. The ministers of the gospel, who are stewards of the mysteries of Christ, and to whom the word of reconciliation is committed, being acquainted only with revealed things (the Lord lodging his purposes and intentions towards particular persons in the secret ark of his own bosom, not to be pryed into), are bound to admonish all, and warn all men, to whom they are sent; giving the same commands, proposing the same promises, making tenders of Jesus Christ in the same manner, to all, that the elect, whom they know not but by the event, may obtain, whilst the rest are hardened. Now, these things being thus ordered by Him who hath the supreme disposal of all, — namely, First, That there should be such a mixture of elect and reprobate, of tares and wheat, to the end of the world; and, secondly, That Christ, and reconciliation through him, should be preached by men ignorant of his eternal discriminating purposes; there is an absolute necessity of two other things: First, That the promises must have a kind of unrestrained generality, to be suitable to this dispensation before recounted. Secondly, That they must be proposed to them towards whom the Lord never intended the good things of the promises, they having a share in this proposal by their mixture in this world with the elect of God. So that, from the general proposition of Christ in the promises, nothing can be concluded concerning his death for all to whom it is proposed, as having another rise and occasion. The sum is:— The word of reconciliation being committed to men unacquainted with God’s distinguishing counsels, to be 314preached to men of a various, mixed condition in respect of his purpose, and the way whereby he hath determined to bring his own home to himself being by exhortations, entreaties, promises, and the like means, accommodated to the reasonable nature whereof all are partakers to whom the word is sent, which are suited also to the accomplishment of other ends towards the rest, as conviction, restraint, hardening, inexcusableness, it cannot be but the proposal and offer must necessarily be made to some upon condition, who intentionally, and in respect of the purpose of God, have no right unto it in the just aim and intendment thereof. Only, for a close, observe these two things:— First, That the proffer itself neither is nor ever was absolutely universal to all, but only indefinite, without respect to outward differences. Secondly, That Christ being not to be received without faith, and God giving faith to whom he pleaseth, it is manifest that he never intendeth Christ to them on whom he will not bestow faith.
10. The faith which is enjoined and commanded in the gospel hath divers several acts and different degrees, in the exercise whereof it proceedeth orderly, according to the natural method of the proposal of the objects to be believed: the consideration whereof is of much use in the business in hand, our adversaries pretending that if Christ died not for all, then in vain are they exhorted to believe, there being, indeed, no proper object for the faith of innumerable, because Christ did not die for them; as though the gospel did hold out this doctrine in the very entrance of all, that Christ died for every one, elect and reprobate; or as though the first thing which any one living under the means of grace is exhorted to believe were, that Christ died for him in particular; — both which are notoriously false, as I hope, in the close of our undertaking, will be made manifest to all. For the present I shall only intimate something of what I said before, concerning the order of exercising the several acts of faith; whereby it will appear that no one in the world is commanded or invited to believe, but that he hath a sufficient object to fix the act of faith on, of truth enough for its foundation, and latitude enough for its utmost exercise, which is enjoined him.
First, then, The first thing which the gospel enjoineth sinners, and which it persuades and commands them to believe, is, that salvation is not to be had in themselves, inasmuch as all have sinned and come short of the glory of God; nor by the works of the law, by which no flesh living can be justified. Here is a saving gospel truth for sinners to believe, which the apostle dwells upon wholly, Rom. i., ii., iii., to prepare a way for justification by Christ. Now, what numberless numbers are they to whom the gospel is preached who never come so far as to believe so much as this! amongst whom you may reckon almost the whole nation of the Jews, as is apparent, Rom. ix., x. 3, 4. 315Now, not to go one step farther with any proposal, a contempt of this object of faith is the sin of infidelity.
Secondly, The gospel requires faith to this, that there is salvation to be had in the promised seed, — in Him who was before ordained to be a captain of salvation to them that do believe. And here also at this trial some millions of the great army of men, outwardly called, drop off, and do never believe, with true divine faith, that God hath provided a way for the saving of sinners.
Thirdly, That Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified by the Jews, was this Saviour, promised before; and that there is no name under heaven given whereby they may be saved besides his. And this was the main point upon which the Jews broke off, refusing to accept of Christ as the Saviour of men, but rather prosecuted him as an enemy of God; and are thereupon so oft charged with infidelity and damnable unbelief. The question was not, between Christ and them, whether he died for them all or no? but, whether he was that Messiah promised? which they denied, and perished in their unbelief.
Now, before these three acts of faith be performed, in vain is the soul exhorted farther to climb the uppermost steps, and miss all the bottom foundation ones.
Fourthly, The gospel requires a resting upon this Christ, so discovered and believed on to be the promised Redeemer, as an all-sufficient Saviour, with whom is plenteous redemption, and who is able to save to the utmost them that come to God by him, and to bear the burden of all weary labouring souls that come by faith to him; in which proposal there is a certain infallible truth, grounded upon the superabundant sufficiency of the oblation of Christ in itself, for whomsoever (fewer or more) it be intended. Now, much self-knowledge, much conviction, much sense of sin, God’s justice, and free grace, is required to the exercise of this act of faith. Good Lord! how many thousand poor souls within the pale of the church can never be brought unto it! The truth is, without the help of God’s Spirit none of those three before, much less this last, can be performed; which worketh freely, when, how, and in whom he pleaseth.
Fifthly, These things being firmly seated in the soul (and not before), we are every one called in particular to believe the efficacy of the redemption that is in the blood of Jesus towards our own souls in particular: which every one may assuredly do in whom the free grace of God hath wrought the former acts of faith, and doth work this also, without either doubt or fear of want of a right object to believe if they should so do; for certainly Christ died for every one in whose heart the Lord, by his almighty power, works effectually faith to lay hold on him and assent unto him, according to that orderly proposal that is held forth in the gospel. Now, according to this order (as by some it is observed) are the articles of our faith 316disposed in the apostles’ creed (that ancient summary of Christian religion commonly so called), the remission of our sins and life eternal being in the last place proposed to be believed; for before we attain so far the rest must be firmly rooted. So that it is a senseless vanity to cry out of the nullity of the object to be believed, if Christ died not for all, there being an absolute truth in every thing which any is called to assent unto, according to the order of the gospel.
And so I have proposed the general foundations of those answers which we shall give to the ensuing objections; whereunto to make particular application of them will be an easy task, as I hope will be made apparent unto all.
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