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Of redemption by the death of Christ as it was a price or ransom.
Having given before the general notions of the death of Christ, as it is in Scripture proposed, all tending to manifest the way and manner of the expiation of our sins, and our delivery from the guilt and punishment due to them, it remains that an accommodation of those several notions of it be made particularly and respectively to the business in hand.
I. The first consideration proposed of the death of Christ was of it as a price; and the issue and effect thereof is redemption. Hence Christ is spoken of in the Old Testament as a Redeemer: Job xix. 25 “I know that my Redeemer liveth.” The word there used is גּוֹאֵל, whose rise and use is commonly known.
גָּאַל is “vindicare, redimere;” ἐπιλαμβάνεσθαι, in Greek; which is commonly used for “suum vindicare:” Ὅτι ἄν τις ἐκτημένος ᾗ, … καὶ μηδεὶς ἐπιλάβηται ἐὰν οὕτω τις ἐνιαυτὸν ὁτιοῦν ἐκτημένος … μὴ ἐξέστω τοιούτου κτήματος ἐπιλαβέσθαι μηδὲν ἀπελθόντος ἐνιαυτοῦ. Plato de Legib. 12. And that may be the sense of the word ἐπιλαμβάνεται, if not in the effect, yet in the cause, Heb. ii. 16.
509The rise and use of this word in this business of our deliverance by Christ we have Lev. xxv. 25, “If any of his kin come to redeem it.” גֹאֲלוֹ הַקָּרֹב, — “redimens illud propinquus.” The next who is גֹּאֵל [is to] redeem it, or vindicate the possession out of mortgage. On this account Boaz tells Ruth that, in respect of the possession of Elimelech, he was goël, Ruth iii. 13, a redeemer; which we have translated “a kinsman,” because he was to do that office by right of propinquity of blood or nearness of kin, as is evident from the law before mentioned. Christ, coming to vindicate us into liberty by his own blood, is called by Job his goël, chap. xix. 25; so also is he termed, Isa. xli. 14, גֹאֲלֵךְ, “thy redeemer,” or “thy next kinsman;” and chap. xliv. 6, in that excellent description of Christ, also verse 24, xlvii. 4, xlviii. 17, xlix. 26, liv. 5, lix. 20, lx. 16, lxiii. 16, and in sundry other places. Neither is the church of God at all beholding to some late expositors, who, to show their skill in the Hebrew doctors, would impose upon us their interpretations, and make those expressions to signify deliverance in general, and to be referred to God the Father, seeing that the rise of the use of the word plainly restrains the redemption intended to the paying of a price for it; which was done only by Jesus Christ. So Jer. xxxii. 7, 8. Hence they that looked for the Messiah, according to the promise, are said to look for, or to wait for, λύτρωσιν, “redemption in Israel,” Luke ii. 38: and, in the accomplishment of the promise, the apostle tells us that Christ by his blood obtained for us “eternal redemption,” Heb. ix. 12. And he having so obtained it, we are “justified freely by the grace of God, διὰ τῆς ἀπολυτρώσεως τῆς ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, — by the redemption that is in Christ Jesus;” ἐν φορ διά, “in him,” for “by him,” or wrought by him, Rom. iii. 24. And this being brought home to us, “we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins,” Eph. i. 7, Col. i. 14; whence he is said to be “made unto us ἀπολύτρωσις,” or “redemption,” 1 Cor. i. 30.
How this is done will be made evident by applying of what is now spoken to what was spoken of the death of Christ as a price. Christ giving himself or his life λύτρον and ἀντίλυτρον, a price of redemption, as hath been showed, a ransom, those for whom he did it come to have λύτρωσιν, and ἀπολύτρωσιν, redemption thereby, or deliverance from the captivity wherein they were. And our Saviour expresses particularly how this was done as to both parts, Matt. xx. 28. He came δοῦναι τῆν ψυχὴν λύτρον ἀντὶ πολλῶν, — that is, he came to be an ἀντίψυχος, one to stand in the room of others, and to give his life for them.
To make this the more evident and clear, I shall give a description of redemption properly so called, and make application of it in the several parts thereof unto that under consideration:— “Redemption is the deliverance of any one from bondage or captivity, 510and the misery attending that condition, by the intervention or interposition of a price or ransom, paid by the redeemer to him by whose authority he is detained, that, being delivered, he may be in a state of liberty, at the disposal of the redeemer.”
And this will comprise the laws of this redemption, which are usually given. They are, first, On the part of the redeemer:— 1. “Propinquus esto;” — “Let him be near of kin.” 2. “Consanguinitatis jure redimito;” — “Let him redeem by right of consanguinity.” 3. “Injusto possessori prædam eripito;” — “Let him deliver the prey from the unjust possessor.” 4. “Huic pretium nullum solvito;” — “To him let no price be paid.” 5. “Sanguinem pro redemptionis pretio vero Domino offerto;” — “Let him offer or give his blood to the true Lord for a ransom, or price of redemption.” Secondly, On the part of the redeemed:— 1. “Libertatis jure felix gaudeto;” — “Let him enjoy his liberty.” 2. “Servitutis jugum ne iterum sponte suscipito;” — “Let him not again willingly take on him the yoke of bondage.” 3. “Deinceps servum se exhibeto redemptori;” — “Let him in liberty be a servant to his redeemer.”
The general parts of this description of redemption Socinus himself consents unto: for whereas Covet had a little inconveniently defined “to redeem,” saying, “Redimere aliquem est debitum solvere creditoris ejus nomine, qui solvendo non erat, sicque satisfacere creditori,” which is a proper description of the payment of another man’s debts, and not of his redemption, Socinus, correcting this mistake, affirms that “redimere aliquem nihil aliud proprie significat quam captivum e manibus illius qui eum detinet pretio illi dato liberare,” — “to redeem any one properly signifies nothing else but to deliver him out of his hands that detained him captive, by a price given to him who detained him;”496496 Socin. de Jes. Chris. Serv. lib. i. part. ii. cap. i. which, as to the general nature of redemption, contains as much as what was before given in for the description of it. With the accommodation, therefore, of that description to the redemption which we have by the blood of Christ, I shall proceed, desiring the reader to remember that if I evince the redemption we have by Christ to be proper, and properly so called, the whole business of satisfaction is confessedly evinced.
First. The general nature of it consists in deliverance. Thence Christ is called Ὁ ῥυόμενος, “The deliverer:” Rom. xi. 26, “As it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer.” The word in the prophet, Isa. lix. 20, is נּוֹאֵל, that we may know what kind of deliverer Christ is, — a deliverer by redemption. “He gave himself for our sins ὄπως ἐξέληται ἡμᾶς, that he might deliver us,” Gal. i. 4. He delivered us; but it was by giving himself for our sins. 1 Thess. i. 10, “To wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, 511Ἰησοῦν τὸν ῥυόμενον ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ τῆς ὀργῆς τῆς ἐρχομένης, — Jesus, who delivered us from the wrath to come.” So Luke i. 74; Rom. vii. 6; Heb. ii. 15; Col. i. 13.
Now, as redemption, because its general nature consists in deliverance, is often expressed thereby, so deliverance, because it hath the effect of redemption, is or may be called redemption, though it be not properly so, but agrees in the end and effect only. Hence Moses is said to be λυτρωτής: Acts vii. 35, Τοῦτον ὁ Θεὸς ἄρχοντὰ καὶ λυτρωτὴν ἀπέστειλεν, “Him did God send a prince and a redeemer;” that is, a deliverer, one whom God used for the deliverance of his people. And because what he did, even the delivery of his people out of bondage, agreed with redemption in its end, the work itself is called redemption, and he is termed therein a redeemer, though it was not a direct redemption that he wrought, no ransom being paid for delivery.
It is pleaded, First, “That God being said to redeem his people in sundry places in the Old Testament, which he could not possibly do by a ransom, therefore the redemption mentioned in the Scripture is metaphorical, a mere deliverance; and such is also that we have by Christ, without the intervention of any price.”
Secondly, “Moses, who was a type of Christ and a redeemer, who is so often said to redeem the people, yet, as it is known, did it without any ransom, by a mere deliverance; therefore did Christ so also.”
Not to trouble the reader with repetition of words, this is the sum of what is pleaded by the Racovian Catechism to prove our redemption by Christ not to be proper, but metaphorical; and so, consequently, that no satisfaction can be thence evinced:—
“E verbo redimendi non posse effici satisfactionem hanc hinc est planum, quod de ipso Deo in novo et in prisco fœdere scribitur, eum redimisse populum suum ex Ægypto, eum fecisse redemptionem populo suo; quod Moses fuerit redemptor, Acts vii. 35. Vox ideo redemptionis, simpliciter liberationem denotat.” — Rac. Cat. cap. viii. de Christo.
And, indeed, what there they speak is the sum of the plea of Socinus as to this part of our description of redemption, “De Jesu Christo Servatore,” lib. i. part. ii. cap. i.–iii.
To remove these difficulties (if they may be so called), I shall only tender the ensuing considerations:—
1. That because redemption is sometimes to be taken metaphorically, for mere deliverance, when it is spoken of God without any 512mention of a price or ransom, in such cases as wherein it was impossible that a ransom should be paid (as in the deliverance of the children of Israel from Egypt and Pharaoh, when it is expressly said to be done by power and an outstretched arm, Deut. iv. 34), therefore it must be so understood when it is spoken of Christ, the mediator, with express mention of a price or ransom, and when it was impossible but that a ransom must be paid, is a loose consequence, not deserving any notice.
2. That all the places of Scripture where mention is made of God being a redeemer and redeeming his people may be referred unto these heads:—
(1.) Such as call God the redeemer of his church in general, as the places before mentioned; and these are all to be referred immediately to the Son of God (the manner of his redemption being described in the New Testament); and so proper redemption is intended in them, compare Isa. liv. 5, with Eph. v. 25, 26.
(2.) Such as mention some temporal deliverance that was typical of the spiritual redemption which we have by Jesus Christ; and it is called redemption, not so much from the general nature of deliverance, as from its pointing out to us that real and proper redemption that was typified by it. Such was God’s redeeming his people out of Egypt.
So there is no mention of redemption in the Scripture, but either it is proper, or receives that appellation from its relation to that which is so.
3. This is indeed a very wretched and cursed way of interpreting Scripture, especially those passages of it which set out the grace of God and the love of Christ to us, — namely, to do it by way of diminution and lessening. God takes and uses this word that is of use amongst men, namely, “redemption;” saith he, “Christ hath redeemed you with his own blood, — he hath laid down a price for you.” For men to come and interpret this, and say “He did it not properly, it was not a complete redemption, but metaphorical, a bare deliverance,” is to blaspheme God and the work of his love and grace. It is a safe rule of interpreting Scripture, that in places mentioning the love and grace of God to us, the words are to be taken in their utmost significancy. It is a thing most unworthy a good and wise man to set out his kindness and benefits with great swelling words of mighty weight and importance, which, when the things signified by them come to be considered, must be interpreted by way of minoration; nor will any worthy man do so. Much less can it be once imagined that God has expressed his love and kindness and the fruits of it to us in great and weighty words, that, in their ordinary use and significancy, contain a great deal more than really he hath done. For any one so to interpret what he hath spoken, is an abomination into which I desire my soul may never enter.
What the redemption of a captive is, and how it is brought about, we know. God tells us that Christ hath redeemed us, and that with his own blood. Is it not better to believe the Lord, and venture our souls upon it, than to go to God and say, “This thou hast said, indeed, but it is an improper and metaphorical redemption, a deliverance, 513that we have?” The truth is, it is so far from truth that God hath delivered the work of his grace, and our benefit thereby, in the death of Christ, in words too big in their proper signification for the things themselves, that no words whatever are sufficient to express it and convey it to our understandings.
That Moses, who was a type of Christ in the work of redemption, and is called a redeemer, did redeem the people without the proper payment of a valuable ransom, therefore Christ did so also; — to conclude thus, I say, is to say that the type and thing typified must in all things be alike; yea, that a similitude between them in that wherein their relation consists is not enough to maintain their relation, but there must be such an identity as in truth overthrows it. Christ tells us that the brazen serpent was a type of him: John iii. 14, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up.” Now, if a man should thence argue, that because the brazen serpent was only lifted up, not crucified nor did shed his blood, therefore Christ was not crucified nor did shed his blood, would he be attended unto? The like may be said of Jonah, who was alive in the belly of the whale, when he was a type of Christ being dead in the earth. In the general nature of deliverance from captivity, there was an agreement in the corporeal deliverance of Moses and the spiritual of Christ, and here was the one a type of the other; in the manner of their accomplishment, the one did not represent the other, the one being said expressly to be done by power, the other by a ransom.
Secondly. It is the delivery of one in captivity. All men, considered in the state of sin and alienation from God, are in captivity. Hence they are said to be “captives,” and to be “bound in prison,” Isa. lxi. 1. And the work of Christ is to “bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness” (that is, in the dungeon) “out of the prison-house,” Isa. xlii. 7. He says “to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Show yourselves,” chap. xlix. 9: as it is eminently expressed, Zech. ix. 11, “As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water.” Here are prisoners, prisoners belonging to the daughter of Zion; for unto her, the church, he speaks, verse 9, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion.” Those other sheep of the fold of Christ, not yet gathered when this promise was given, are spoken of; and they are “in the pit wherein is no water;” — a pit for security to detain them, that they may not escape; and without water, that they may in it find no refreshment. How are these prisoners delivered? By the blood of his covenant of whom he speaks: see verse 9, “Behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.” It is a description of Christ when he rode to Jerusalem, to 514seal and confirm the covenant for the deliverance of the prisoners with his own blood; which is therefore called “The blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified,” Heb. x. 29. Hence in the next verse, “Prisoners of hope” is a description of the elect, Zech. ix. 12.
So also are they called captives expressly: Isa. xlix. 25, “Thus saith the Lord, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered.” Those who were in their captivity a prey to Satan, that mighty and cruel one, shall be delivered. And who shall do this? “The Lord thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob,” verse 26. He proclaims “liberty to the captives,” Isa. lxi. 1, Luke iv. 18. And this is given in as the great fruit of the death of Christ, that upon his conquest of it he “led captivity captive,” Ps. lxviii. 18, Eph. iv. 8, — that is, either captivity actively, Satan who held and detained his in captivity, or passively, those who were in captivity to him.
Thus being both prisoners and captives, they are said to be in bondage. Christ gives us liberty from that yoke of bondage, Gal. v. 1; and men are in bondage by reason of death all their days, Heb. ii. 15. There is, indeed, nothing that the Scripture more abounds in than this, that men in the state of sin are in prison, captivity, and bondage, — are prisoners, captives, and slaves.
Concerning this two things are considerable:— 1. The cause of men’s bondage and captivity, deserving or procuring it. 2. The efficient, principal cause of it, to whom they are in captivity.
1. As for the first, as it is known, it is sin. To all this bondage and captivity men are sold by sin. In this business sin is considered two ways:—
(1.) As a debt, whereof God is the creditor. Our Saviour hath taught us to pray for the forgiveness of our sins under that notion, Matt. vi. 12, Ἄφες ἡμῖν τὰ ὀφειλήματα ἡμῶν, — “Remit to us our debts.” And in the parable of the lord and his servants, Matt. xviii. 23–35, he calls it τὸ δάνειον, verse 27, and τὸ ὀφειλόμενον, verse 30, “due debt;” all which he expounds by παραπτώματα, verse 35, — “offences” or “transgressions.” Debt makes men liable to prison for non-payment; and so doth sin (without satisfaction made) to the prison of hell. So our Saviour expresses it, Matt. v. 25, 26, “Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.” On this account are men prisoners for sin: They are bound in the prison-house because they have wasted the goods of their Master, and contracted a debt that they are no way able to pay; and if it be not paid for them, there they must lie to eternity. All mankind were cast into prison for that great debt 515they contracted in Adam, in their trustee. Being there, instead of making any earnings to pay the debt already upon them by the law, they contract more, and increase thousands of talents. But this use of the words “debt” and “prison,” applied to sin and punishment, is metaphorical.
(2.) As a crime, rebellion, transgression against God, the great governor and judge of all the world. The criminalness, rebellion, transgression, the disobedience that is in sin, is more or less expressed by all the words in the original whereby any sins are signified and called. Now, for sin considered as rebellion are men cast into prison, captivity, and bondage, by way of judicial process and punishment.
2. As for the principal cause of this captivity and imprisonment, it is God; for, —
(1.) He is the creditor to whom these debts are due: Matt. vi. 9, 12, “Our Father which art in heaven, … forgive us our debts.” It is to him that we stand indebted the ten thousand talents “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned,” says David, Ps. li. 4. God hath intrusted us with all we have to sin by or withal; he hath lent it us, to lay out for his glory. Our spending of what we have received upon our lusts, is running into debt unto God. Though he doth not reap where he did not sow, yet he requires his principal with advantage.
(2.) And properly he is the great king, judge, and governor of the world, who hath given his law for the rule of our obedience; and every transgression thereof is a rebellion against him. Hence, to sin is to rebel, and to transgress, and to be perverse, to turn aside from the way, to cast off the yoke of the Lord, as it is everywhere expressed. God is “the one lawgiver,” James iv. 12, who is able to kill and to destroy for the transgression of it. It is his law which is broken, and upon the breach whereof he says, “Cursed be every one that hath so done,” Deut. xxvii. 26. He is “the judge of all the earth,” Gen. xviii. 25, yea, “God is judge himself,” Ps. i. 6; and we shall be judged by his law, James ii. 10–12; and his judgment is, “That they which commit sin are worthy of death,” Rom. i. 32. And he is the “king for ever and ever,” Ps. x. 16. He reigneth and executeth judgment. Now, who should commit the rebel that offends, who should be the author of the captivity and imprisonment of the delinquent, but he who is the king, judge, and lawmaker?
(3.) He doth actually do it: Rom. xi. 32, Συνέκλεισε ὁ Θεὸς τοὺς πάντας εἰς ἀπείθειαν — “God hath shut up all under disobedience.” He hath laid them up close prisoners for their disobedience; and they shall not go out until satisfaction be made. In the parable, Matt. xviii., of the lord or master and his servants, this is evident; and chap. v. 25, it is the judge that delivers the man to the officer to be cast into prison. Look who it is that shall inflict the final punishment 516upon the captives, if a ransom be not paid for them, he it is by whose power and authority they are committed, and to whom principally they are prisoners and captives. Now, this is God only. He can cast both body and soul into hell fire, Matt. x. 28; and wicked men shall be destroyed “from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power,” 2 Thess. i. 9. In brief, God is the judge; the law is the law of God; the sentence denounced is condemnation from God; the curse inflicted is the curse of God; the wrath wherewith men are punished is the wrath of God; he that finds a ransom is God: and therefore it is properly and strictly he to whom sinners are prisoners and captives, 2 Pet. ii. 4. And therefore, when in the Scripture at any time men are said to be in bondage to Satan, it is but as to the officer of a judge, or the jailer; to their sin, it is but as to their fetters, as shall be afterward more fully discovered.
And this removes the first question and answer of the Racovians to this purpose. Socinus, “De Servatore,” expresses himself to the whole business of redemption in three chapters, lib. i. part. ii. cap. i.–iii.; the sum of which the catechists have laboured to comprise in as many questions and answers. The first is, —
Q. What dost thou answer to those testimonies which witness that we are redeemed of Christ?
A. It is hence evident that satisfaction cannot be confirmed from the word “redeeming,” — 1. Because it is written of God himself, both in the Old and New Testament, that he redeemed his people out of Egypt, that he redeemed his people; 2. Because it is written that God redeemed Abraham and David, and that Moses was a redeemer, and that we are redeemed from our iniquities and our vain conversation, and from the curse of the law; for it is certain that God made satisfaction to none, nor can it be said that satisfaction is made either to our iniquities, or to our vain conversation, or to the law.497497 “Quid ad ea testimonia quæ nos a Christo testantur redemptos respondes? — Resp. E verbo redimendi non posse efiici satisfactionem hanc, hinc est planum, quod de ipso Deo et in novo et in prisco fœdere scribitur, eum redemisse populum suum ex Ægypto, eum fecisse redemptionem populo suo. Deinde cum scriptum sit quod Deus redemit Abrahamum et Davidem, et quod Moses fuerit redemptor, et quod simus redempti e nostris iniquitatibus, aut e vana conversatione nostra, et e maledictione legis; certum autem est Deum nemini satisfecisse, nec vero aut iniquitatibus, aut conversationi vanæ, aut legi satisfactum esse dici posse.”
I say this whole plea is utterly removed by what hath been spoken; for, — 1. In what sense redemption is ascribed to God and Moses, without the least prejudice of that proper redemption that was made by the blood of Christ, hath been declared, and shall be farther manifested when we come to demonstrate the price that was paid in this redemption.
2. It is true, there is no satisfaction made to our sin and vain conversation when we are redeemed; but satisfaction being made to Him to whom it is due, we are delivered from them. But of this afterwards.
3. Satisfaction is properly made to the law when the penalty 517which it threatens and prescribes is undergone, as in the case insisted on it was. In the meantime, our catechists are sufficiently vain, in supposing our argument to lie in the word “redimere.” Though something hath been spoken of the word in the original, yet our plea is from the thing itself.
This Socinus thus expresses:—
There is also required he who held the captive, otherwise he is not a captive. To him, in our deliverance, if we will consider the thing itself exactly, many things do answer, for many things do detain us captives; now they are sin, the devil, and the world, and that which followeth sin, the guilt of eternal death, or the punishment of death appointed to us.498498 “Requiritur et is qui captivum detineat, alioqui captivus non esset. Huic in liberatione nostra, si exactius rem ipsam considerare velimus, respondent multa. Multa siquidem nos tanquam captivos detinebant; ea autem sunt peccatum, diabolus, mundus, et quæ peccatum consequuntur, mortis æternæ reatus, seu mortis æternæ nobis decretum supplicium.” — De Servat. lib. i. cap. ii.
Ans. A lawful captive is detained two ways, — First, Directly; and that two ways also:—
1. Legally, juridically, and authoritatively: so is sinful man detained captive of God. “The wrath of God abideth on him,” John iii. 36, as hath been declared.
2. Instrumentally, in subservience to the authority of the other: so is man in bondage to Satan, and the law, and fear of death to come, Heb. ii. 14, 15.
Secondly, Consequentially, and by accident: so a man is detained by his shackles, as in the filth of the prison; so is a man captive to sin and the world.
Nor are all these properly the detainers of us in captivity, from which we are redeemed, any more than the gallows keeps a malefactor in prison, from which by a pardon and ransom he is delivered.
To proceed with the description of redemption given, it is the delivery of him who was captive from prison or captivity, and all the miseries attending that condition.
1. What I mean by the prison is easily gathered from what hath been delivered concerning the prisoner or captive, and Him that holds him captive. If the captive be a sinner as a sinner, and he who holds him captive be God, by his justice making him liable to punishment, his captivity must needs be his obnoxiousness unto the wrath of God on the account of his justice for sin. This are we delivered from by this redemption that is in the blood of Jesus, Rom. iii. 23–25: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.” Verse 23 is the description of the state of our captivity. Having “sinned,” we are 518“come short of the glory of God.” Υσπεροῦνται, they fall short in their race, and are by no means able to come up to a participation of God. Our delivery and the means of it are expressed, verse 24. Our delivery: we are “justified freely by his grace,” or delivered from that condition and state of sin wherein it was impossible for us to reach and attain the glory of God. The procuring cause of which liberty is expressed in the next words, διὰ τῆς ἀπολυτρώσεως, by the redemption or ransom-paying that is in the blood of Jesus; that is the cause of our deliverance from that condition wherein we were. Whence and how it is so is expressed, verse 25: God set him forth for that end, that we might have deliverance “through faith in his blood,” or by faith be made partakers of the redemption that is in his blood, or purchased by it. And this to “declare his righteousness.” We have it this way, that the righteousness of God may be declared, whereto satisfaction is made by the death of Christ; for that also is included in the word “propitiation,” as shall be afterward proved.
Thus, whilst men are in this captivity, “the wrath of God abideth on them,” John iii. 36; and the full accomplishment of the execution of that wrath is called “The wrath to come,” 1 Thess. i. 10, which we are delivered from.
In this sense are we said to “have redemption in his blood,” Col. i. 14, or to have deliverance from our captivity by the price he paid, and by his death to be delivered from the fear of death, Heb. ii. 15, or our obnoxiousness thereto; it being the justice or judgment of God “that they which commit sin are worthy of death,” Rom. i. 32. Christ by undergoing it delivered us from it.
Whence is that of the apostle, Rom. viii. 33, 34, “Who shall lay any thing to their charge? who shall condemn them?” Who should but God? It is God, against whom they have sinned, whose the law is, and who alone can pronounce sentence of condemnation on the offenders, and inflict penalty accordingly. Yea, but “it is God that justifieth;” that is, that frees men from their obnoxiousness to punishment for sin in the first sense of it, which is their captivity, as hath been declared. But how comes this about? Why, “it is Christ that died.” It is by the death of Christ that we have this redemption.
2. From all the miseries that attend that state and condition. These are usually referred to three heads:— (1.) The power of Satan; (2.) Of sin; (3.) Of the world; from all which we are said to be redeemed. And these are well compared to the jailer, filth, and fetters of the prison wherein the captives are righteously detained.
(1.) For the first, Col. i. 13, 14, “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son; in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” The “power of darkness” is the power of the 519prince of darkness, of Satan. This God delivers us from, by the redemption that is in the blood of Christ, verse 14. And how? Even as he who delivers a captive from the judge by a price delivers him also from the jailer who kept him in prison. By his death (which, as hath been showed, was a price and a ransom), he deprived Satan of all his power over us; which is called his destroying of him, Heb. ii. 14, — that is, not the devil as to his essence and being, but as to his power and authority over those who are made partakers of his death.
The words of Socinus to this purpose may be taken notice of, Lib. de Servat. lib. i. part. ii. cap. ii.:—
Nothing is wanting in this deliverance, that it might wholly answer a true redemption, but only that he who detained the captive should receive the price. Although it seems to some that it may be said that the devil received the price which intervened in our redemption, as the ancient divines, among whom was Ambrosius and Augustine, made bold to speak, yet that ought to seem most absurd, and it is true that this price was received by none: for on that account chiefly is our deliverance not a true but a metaphorical redemption, because in it there is none that should receive the price; for if that which is in the place of a price be received (by him who delivers the captive), then not a metaphorical but a true price had intervened, and thereupon our redemption had been proper.499499 “Nihil in hac liberatione desideratur, ut omnino veræ redemptioni respondeat, nisi ut is qui captivum detinebat pretium accipiat. Quamvis autem quibusdam videatur dici posse diabolum, pretium quod in nostra liberatione intervenit, accepisse, quemadmodum antiquiores theologi, inter quos Ambrosius et Augustinus, ausi sunt dicere, tamen id perabsurdum videri debet, et recte est neminem id pretium accepisse affirmare. Ea siquidem ratione potissimum, non vera sed metaphorica redemptio, liberatio nostra est, quocirca in ea nemo est qui pretium accipiat; si enim id quod in ipso pretii loco est acceptum (ab eo scilicet qui captivum hominem detinebat) fuisset, jam non metaphoricum sed verum pretium intervenisset, et propterea vera redemptio esset.”
It is confessed that nothing is wanting to constitute that we speak of to be a true, proper, and real redemption, but only that the price paid be received of him that delivered the captives. That this is God we proved; that the price is paid to him we shall nextly prove.
The only reason given why the price is not paid to any, is because it is not paid to the devil. But was it the law of Satan we had transgressed? was he the judge that cast us into prison? was it him to whom we were indebted? was it ever heard that the price of redemption was paid to the jailer? Whether any of the ancients said so or no I shall not now trouble myself to inquire, or in what sense they said it; the thing in itself is ridiculous and blasphemous.
(2.) Sin. “He redeemed us from all iniquity,” Tit. ii. 14; and we were “redeemed by the precious blood of Christ from our vain conversation received by tradition from our fathers,” 1 Pet. i. 18, 19. This redeeming us from our sins respects two things:— [1.] The guilt of them, that they should not condemn us; and, [2.] The power of them, that they should not rule in us, In the places mentioned it is 520the latter that is principally intended; which is evident from what is opposed to the captivity under sin that is spoken of. In the one place it is “purifying unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works,” Tit. ii. 14; in the other, the “purifying of our souls in obedience to the truth through the Spirit,” 1 Pet. i. 22. Now, we are redeemed from the power of our sins by the blood of Christ, not immediately, but consequentially, as a captive is delivered from his fetters and filth upon the payment of his ransom. Christ’s satisfying the justice of God, reconciling him to us by his death, hath also procured the gift of his Spirit for us, to deliver us from the power of our sins. The foundation of this being laid in the blood of Christ, and the price which thereby he paid, our delivery from our sins belongs to his redemption, and we are therefore said to be redeemed by him from our vain conversation.
And the great plea of our adversaries, that this redemption is not proper because we are redeemed from our iniquities and vain conversation, to which no ransom can be paid, will then be freed from ridiculous folly, when they shall give an instance of a ransom being paid to the prisoner’s fetters before his delivery, whereunto our sins do rather answer, than to the judge.
For the first, the “curse of the law” is the curse due to sin, Deut. xxvii. 26; that is, to the transgression of the law. This may be considered two ways:— In respect of its rise and fountain, or its “terminus a quo;” in respect of its end and effect, or its “terminus ad quem.”
For the first, or the rise of it, it is the justice of God, or the just and holy will of God, requiring punishment for sin, as the vengeance that is inflicted actually for sin is called the “wrath of God,” Rom. i. 18; that is, his justice and indignation against sin. In this sense, to “redeem us from the curse of the law,” is to make satisfaction to the justice of God, from whence that curse doth arise, that it should not be inflicted on us; and thus it falls in with what was delivered before concerning our captivity by the justice of God.
Secondly, As it is the penalty itself, so we are delivered from it by this ransom-paying of Christ, as the punishment which we should have undergone, had not he undertaken for us and redeemed us. Secondly, For the ἀπολύτρωσις παραβάσεων, Heb. ix. 15, it can be nothing but making reparation for the injury done by transgression. It is a singular phrase, but may receive some light from that of Heb. ii. 17, where Christ is said to be a high priest, εἰς τὸ ἰλάσκεσθαι, “to reconcile the sins of the people,” — that is, to make reconciliation for them; of the sense whereof afterward.
521(3.) He redeems from the world, Gal. iv. 5.
The third thing is, that this deliverance from captivity be by the intervention of a price properly so called. That Christ did pay such a price I proved before, — which is the foundation of this discourse.
The word λύτρον, and those arising from thence, were specially insisted on. The known use of the word is “redemptionis pretium;” so among the best authors of the Greek tongue: Ζῶντα λαβόντες ἀφῆκαν ἄνευ λύτρων, Xenoph. Hellen. 7; — “They took him away without paying his ransom,” or the price of his redemption. And, Ἔπεμψε τὰ λύτρα τῷ Ἀννίβᾳ καὶ τοὺς αἰχμαλώτους ἀπέλαβε, says Plutarch in Fabius; — “He sent their ransom to Hannibal and received the prisoners.” And from thence λυτρόω is of the same import and signification. So in the argument of the first book of the Iliad, speaking of Chrysis, that he came to the camp βουλόμενος λυτρώσασθαι τὴν θυγατέρα, — “to pay a price for the redemption of his daughter.” And Aristotle, Ethic. lib. ix. cap. ii., disputing whether a benefit or good turn be not to be repaid rather than a favour done to any other, gives an instance of a prisoner redeemed, τῷ λυτρωθέντι παρὰ ληστῶν πότερον τὸν λυσάμενον ἀντιλυτρωτέον, etc., — whether he who is redeemed by the payment of a ransom from a robber be to redeem him who redeemed him, if captive, etc. But this is so far confessed, that if it may be evinced that this price is paid to any, it will not be denied but that it is a proper price of redemption, as before was discovered.
That the death of Christ is such a price I proved abundantly at the entrance of this discourse. It is so frequently and evidently expressed in the Scripture to be such that it is not to be questioned. I shall not farther insist upon it.
All that our adversaries have to object is, as was said, that seeing this price is not paid to any, it cannot be a price properly so called; for as for the nature of it, they confess it may be a price. So Socinus acknowledgeth it. Saith he:—
I understand the proper use of the word to “redeem” to be when a true price is given. True price I call not only money, but whatever is given to him that delivers the captive to satisfy him, although many things in the redemption be metaphorical.500500 “Propriam enim verbi redimendi significationem intelligo, cum verum pretium intervenit. Verum autem pretium voco non pecuniam tantum, sed quicquid ut ei satisfiat qui captivum detinet datur, licet alioqui multa metaphorica in ejusmodi redemptione reperiantur.” — Socin. de Servat. lib. i. part. i. cap. i.
That God detains the captive hath been proved; that the price is paid to him, though it be not silver and gold, and that that he might be satisfied, shall be farther evinced: so that we have redemption properly so called.
Fourthly. It remains, then, that we farther manifest that the price was paid to God.
522Although enough hath been said already to evince the truth of this, yet I shall farther put it out of question by the ensuing observations and inferences:—
1. To the payment of a price or ransom properly so called, — which, as is acknowledged, is not necessary that it should be money or the like, 1 Pet. i. 18, but any thing that may satisfy him that detains the captive, — it is not required that it should be paid into the hand of him that is said to receive it, but only that it be some such thing as he requires as the condition of releasing the captive. It may consist in personal service, which is impossible to be properly paid into the hand of any. For instance, if a father be held captive, and he that holds him so requires that, for the delivery of his father, the son undertake a difficult and hazardous warfare wherein he is concerned, and he do it accordingly, this son doth properly ransom his father, though no real price be paid into the hand of him that detained him. It is sufficient to prove that this ransom was paid by Christ unto God, if it be proved that, upon the prescription of God, he did that and underwent that which he esteemed, and was to him a valuable compensation for the delivery of sinners.
2. The propriety of paying a ransom to any, where it lies in undergoing the penalty that was due to the ransomed, consists in the voluntary consent of him to whom the ransom is paid and him that pays it unto this commutation; which in this business we have firmly evinced. And the price paid by Christ could be no other; for God was not our detainer in captivity as a sovereign conqueror, that came upon us by force and kept us prisoners, but as a just judge and lawgiver, who had seized on us for our transgressions: so that not his power and will were to be treated withal, but his law and justice; and so the ransom was properly paid to him in the undergoing that penalty which his justice required.
3. There must some differences be allowed between spiritual, eternal, and civil, corporeal, temporal deliverances; which yet doth not make spiritual redemption to be improper, nay, rather the other is said to be improper wherein it agrees not thereunto. The one is spiritual, the other temporal; so that in every circumstance it is not to be expected that they should agree.
4. There are two things distinctly in God to be considered in this business:— (1.) His love, his will, or purpose; (2.) His justice, law, and truth. In respect of his love, his will, his purpose, or good pleasure, God himself found out, appointed, and provided this ransom. The giving of Christ is ascribed to his love, will, and good pleasure, John iii. 16, Rom. v. 8, viii. 32, 1 John iv. 9, 10, as he had promised by his prophets of old, Luke i. 67–70. But his justice, and law, and truth, in their several considerations, required the ransom; and in respect of them he accepted it, as hath been showed at large. 523So that nothing in the world is more vain than that of our adversaries, that God procured and appointed this price, therefore he did not accept it. That is, either God’s love or his justice must be denied; either he hath no justice against sin or no love for sinners; — in the reconciliation of which two, the greatest and most intense hatred against sin, and the most inexpressible love to some sinners in the blood of his only Son, lies the great mystery of the gospel; which these men are unacquainted withal.
5. That God may be said to receive this price, it was not necessary that any accession should be made to his riches by the ransom, but that he underwent no loss by our deliverance. This is the difference between a conqueror or a tyrant and a just ruler, in respect of their captives and prisoners. Says the tyrant or conqueror, “Pay me so much, whereby I may be enriched, or I will not part with my prisoner;” says the just ruler and judge, “Take care that my justice be not injured, that my law be satisfied, and I will deliver the prisoner.” It is enough, to make good God’s acceptance of the price, that his justice suffer not by the delivery of the prisoner, as it did not, Rom. iii. 25; yea, it was exalted and made glorious above all that it could have been in the everlasting destruction of the sinner.
These things being thus premised, it will not be difficult to establish the truth asserted, namely, that this price or ransom was paid to God; for, —
1. A price of redemption, a ransom, must be paid to some one or other; the nature of the thing requires it. That the death of Christ was a price or ransom, properly so called, hath been showed before. The ridiculous objection, that then it must be paid to Satan or our sin, hath also been sufficiently removed: so that God alone remains to whom it is to be paid; for unless to some it is paid, it is not a price or ransom.
2. The price of redemption is to be paid to him who detains the captive by way of jurisdiction, right, and law-power. That God is he who thus detained the captive was also proved before. He is the great householder that calls his servants, that do or should serve him, to an account, συνᾶραι λόγον, Matt. xviii. 23, 24; and wicked men are κατάρας τέκνα, 2 Pet. ii. 14, the children of his curse, obnoxious to it. It is his judgment “that they which commit sin are worthy of death,” Rom. i. 32; and Christ is a propitiation to “declare his righteousness,” chap. iii. 25; and it is his wrath from which we are delivered by this ransom, chap. ii. 5, 1 Thess. i. 10; the law was his to which Christ was made obnoxious, Gal. iv. 4; the curse his which he was made, chap. iii. 13; it was his will he came to do and suffer, Heb. x. 7, — it was his will that he should drink off the cup of his passion, Matt. xxvi. 42; it pleased him to bruise him, Isa. liii. 10; he made all our iniquities to meet upon him, verse 6: so that, doubtless, this 524ransom was paid to him. We intend no more by it than what in these places is expressed.
3. This ransom was also a sacrifice, as hath been declared. Look, then, to whom the sacrifice was offered, to him the ransom was paid. These are but several notions of the same thing. Now, the sacrifice he offered to God, Eph. v. 2; to him, then, also and only was this ransom paid.
4. Christ paid this ransom as he was a mediator and surety. Now he was the mediator between God and man, and therefore he must pay this price to one of them, either to God or man, and it is not difficult to determine whether. 1 Tim. ii. 5, 6, gives us this fully. He is the mediator, and as such he gave himself ἀντίλυτρον, a price of redemption to God.
From this description of redemption properly so called, and the application of it to the redemption made by Jesus Christ, we thus argue:—
He who by his own blood and death paid the price of our redemption to God, in that he underwent what was due to us, and procured our liberty and deliverance thereby, he made satisfaction properly for our sins; but when we were captives for sin to the justice of God, and committed thereon to the power of sin and Satan, Christ by his death and blood paid the price of our redemption to God, and procured our deliverance thereby: therefore he made satisfaction to God for our sins.
For the farther confirmation of what hath been delivered, some few of the most eminent testimonies given to this truth are to be explained and vindicated, wherewith I shall close this discourse of our redemption by Christ. Out of the very many that may be insisted on, I shall choose only those that follow:—
1. Rom. iii. 24, 25, “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.”
Redemption in itself, in its effect in respect of us, with all its causes, is here expressed. Its effect in respect of us is, that we are “justified freely,” δικαιούμενοι δωρεάν: not brought easily, and with little labour, to be righteous or honest, as some vainly imagine (Grot. in loc.), but accepted freely with God, without the performance of the works of the law, whereby the Jews sought after righteousness. The end on the part of God is the declaration of his righteousness. The means procuring this end is the blood of Christ, redemption by Christ and in his blood. The means of communicating this effect, on the part of God, is the setting forth Christ a propitiation; on our part, as to application, it is faith in his blood.
(1.) As to the effect of our justification, it shall afterward be considered. The manner, or rise of it rather (for both may be denoted), on the part of God, is δωρεάν, that is, “freely;” or, as it is expounded 525in the next words, τῇ αὐτοῦ χάριτι, “by his grace.” Our redemption and the effects of it are free on the part of God, in respect of his purpose and decree, which is called εκλογὴ χάριτος, Rom. xi. 5, his great design and contrivance of the work of our salvation and deliverance. This he did “according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace,” Eph. i. 5, 6; “according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself,” verse 9; “according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will,” verse 11. And it is free in regard of the love from whence Christ was sent, John iii. 16; which also is ascribed τῇ χάριτι Θεοῦ, Heb. ii. 9. And it is free in respect of us; we do not obtain it by the works of the law, Rom. iv. 6, neither can it be so attained, nor is that required of us: and free on our part, in that nothing of us is required in way of satisfaction, recompense, or ransom. “He spared not his own Son,” but “with him freely gives us all things,” Rom. viii. 32. Δικαιούμενοι δωρεάν, “We are justified freely;” that is, we are delivered from our bondage without any satisfaction made by us, or works performed by us to attain it, God having freely designed this way of salvation, and sent Jesus Christ to do this work for us.
They are [says Grotius] brought to righteousness without that labour that is required for lesser, even philosophical virtues. Faith makes an abridgment of the work.501501 “Ad justitiam veto perducuntur etiam sine labore qui ad minores virtutes, id est, philosophicas requiri solet: Fides enim ejus laboris compendium facit.” חִנָּם [gratis] proprie opponitur impense, sed et labor impendi dicitur, et emi aliquid labore. Epicharmus ― Τῶν πόνων Πω λοῦσιν ἡμῖν πάντα τ’ ἀγαθ’ εἰ θεοί. — Grot. in loc.
The πρῶτον ψεῦδος of the great man, in the whole interpretation of that epistle, as of others of sundry sorts besides himself, is, that to be justified is to be brought to righteousness by the practice of virtue and honesty (which answers to that the Scripture calls sanctification), with as gross a shutting out of light as can befall any man in the world. This, with that notion which he hath of faith, is the bottom of this interpretation. But, —
Let him tell us freely what instance he can give of this use of the word δωρεάν, which here he imposeth on us, that it should signify the facility of doing a thing; and withal, whether these words, δικαιούμενοι δωρεάν, denote an act of God or of them that are justified; — whether “being justified freely by his grace” be his free justifying of us, as to what is actively denoted, or our easy performance of the works of righteousness? That δωρεάν in this place should relate to our duties, and signify “easily,” and not to the act of God accepting us, and import” freely,” is such a violence offered to the Scripture as nothing could have compelled the learned man to venture on but pure necessity of maintaining the Socinian justification.
As for the “philosophical virtues,” which the gods sold for labour, they were “splendida peccata,” and no more.
526As to this part of the words, Socinus himself was not so far out of the way as the annotator. Saith he, “Justificati gratis, sensus est, partam nobis esse peccatorum nostrorum absolutionem (id enim ut scis quod ad nos attinet reipsa justificari est) non quidem per legis opera, quibus illam commeriti sumus, sed gratis per gratiam Dei,” De Servat. lib. i. part. ii. cap. ii.
(2.) The end on the part of God is ἔνδειξις δικαιοσύνης, “the declaration of his righteousness.” Δικαιοσύνη is properly God’s justice as he is a judge. It is true, חֶסֶד, is often rendered by the LXX. δικαιοσύνη, and by us from thence, “righteousness,” which signifies, indeed, benignity, kindness, and goodness, — and so צְדָקָה, which is “righteousness,” is rendered by them sometimes ἔλεος, “mercy,” and the circumstances of the place may sometimes require that signification of the word, — but firstly and properly, it is that property of God whereby as a judge he renders to every one according to their ways before him, rewarding those that obey him, and punishing transgressors. This I have elsewhere declared at large.502502 Diatrib. de Justit. Div. vol. x. Hence he isשׁוֹפֵט צֶדֶק, Ps. ix. 5; which, as Paul speaks, 2 Tim. iv. 8, is ὁ δίκαιος κριτής, the “righteous judge.” So Rom. i. 32; 2 Thess. i. 6; Rev. xv. 5: so Isa. lix. 16, “And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him.” His righteousness sustained him in executing vengeance on the enemies of his church. This is the righteousness that God aimed to manifest and to declare in our redemption by Christ, “that he might be just,” as the words follow, namely, that he might be known to be just and righteous in taking such sore vengeance of sin in the flesh of Jesus Christ his Son, Rom. viii. 3. Hence did God appear to be exceeding righteous, — of purer eyes than to behold iniquity. He declared to all the world what was due to sin, and what must be expected by men if they are not partakers of the redemption which is in the blood of Jesus Christ, Rom. viii. 3.
Grotius would have δικαιοσύνη here to signify “goodness” and “bounty;” which as we deny not but that in some places in the Old Testament where it is used by the LXX. it doth or may do, so we say here that sense can have no place which nowhere is direct and proper; for the thing intended by it in that sense is expressed before in these words, Δωρεὰν τῇ χάριτι αὐτοῦ, and is not consistent with that that follows, Εἰς τὸ εἶναι αὐτὸν δίκαιον, which represents God as he is δίκαιος κριτής, as was spoken before.
Socinus goes another way. Says he, “In Christo, Deus ut ostenderet se veracem et fidelem esse, quod significant verba ilia, justitiæ suæ,” etc., referring it to God’s righteousness of verity and fidelity in fulfilling his promise of forgiveness of sins. But says Grotius, 527righteousness cannot be here interpreted, “de fide in promissis prœstandis, quia quæ sequuntur non ad Judæos solos pertinent, sed etiam ad Gentes quibus promissio nulls erat facta,” — “because Gentiles are spoken of, and not the Jews only, but to them there was no promise given.” A reason worthy the Annotations; as though the promise was not made to Abraham that he should be heir of the world, and to all his seed, not according to the flesh only; and as though the learned man himself did not think the first promise to have been made, and always to have belonged, to all and every man in the world. But yet neither will the sense of Socinus stand, for the reasons before given.
But how are these ends brought about, that we should be δικαιούμενοι δωρεάν, and yet there should be ἔνδειξις δικαιοσύνης?
(3.) Ans. The means procuring all this is the blood of Christ; it is διὰ τῆς ἀπολυτρώσεως τῆς ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, — “by the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” And how that redemption is wrought he expresseth when he shows how we are made partakers of it, διὰ τῆς πίστεως ἐν τῷ αὐτοὐ αἵματι, — “through faith in his blood.” The redemption wrought and procured by the blood of Christ is the procuring cause of all this. The causa προηγουμένη is the grace of God, of which before; the causa προκαταρκτική is this blood of Christ. This redemption, as here, is called ἀπολύτρωσις, Luke xxi. 28, Eph. i. 7, Col. i. 14; λύτρωσις, Luke i. 68, ii. 38, Heb. ix. 12; λύτρον, Matt. xx. 28, Mark x. 45; ἀντίλυτρον, 1 Tim. ii. 6; and in respect of the effect, ῥύσις, Rom. vii. 24, xi. 26, Col. i. 13, 1 Thess. i. 10. This is the procuring cause, as I said, of the whole effect of God’s free grace here mentioned. We are justified freely, because we have redemption by the blood of Christ; he obtained it for us by the price of his blood.
I rather abide in the former sense of λύτρον (from whence is ἀπολύτρωσις), to be “a price of redemption,” than to interpret it by “lustrum,” and so to refer it to the sacrifices of purification, which belong to another consideration of the death of Christ. And yet the consideration of the blood of Christ as a sacrifice hath place here also, as shall be discovered. This is that which is here asserted, We have forgiveness of sins by the intervention of the blood of Christ, obtaining redemption for us; which is that we aim to prove from this place.
Grotius gives this exposition of the words:—
Christ by his obedience (especially in his death), and the prayers accompanying it, obtained this of his Father, that he should not forsake and harden mankind, drenched in grievous sins, but should give them a way of coming to righteousness by Jesus Christ, and should deliver them from a necessity of dying in their sin, by revealing a way whereby they might escape it.503503 “Christus per obedientiam suam (maxime in morte) et preces ei accedentes, hoc a Patre obtinuit, ne is humanum genus gravibus peccatis immersum desereret atque obduraret, sed viam illis daret ad justitiam perveniendi per Christum, Esa. liii. 4, ita et ἀπολυτροῦν αυτ ποιεῖν λύτρωσιν, Luc. i. 68 גָּאַל aut פָּדָה id est, liberare, nempe a necessitate moriendi in peccatis, vista patefaciendo per quam exire ista liceret.”
528[1.] It is well it is granted that the death of Christ respected God in the first place, and the obtaining somewhat of him; which the annotator’s friends deny.
[2.] That the purchase of Christ was not for all mankind, that they might be delivered, but for the elect, that they should be delivered, has elsewhere been declared.
[3.] Christ by his death did not obtain of his Father that he should reveal or appoint that way of obtaining deliverance and salvation which by him we have. This, as the giving of Christ himself, was of the free grace and love of God. Nor is the appointment of the way of salvation, according to the covenant of grace, anywhere assigned to the death of Christ, but to the love of God sending his Son and appointing him to be a mediator, though the good things of the covenant be purchased by him.
[4.] This is all the effect here assigned to the blood-shedding of Jesus Christ, this is the redemption we have thereby: “He obtained of his Father that a better way of coming to righteousness than that of the law or that of philosophy might be declared to us”! The mystery of the whole is: “Christ, by his obedience to God, obtained this, that himself should be exalted to give a new law and teach a new doctrine, in obedience whereunto we might come to be righteous;” which must needs be an excellent explication of these words, “We have redemption by his blood,” which plainly express the price he paid for us, and the effect that ensued thereon.
Socinus goes another way. Says he:—
The intervention of the blood of Christ, though it moved not God to grant us deliverance from the punishment of sin, yet it moved us to accept of it being offered, and to believe in Christ.504504 “Interventus sanguinis Christi, licet Deum ad liberationem hanc a peccatorum nostrorum pœna nobis concedendum movere non potuerit, movit tamen nos ad eam nobis oblatam accipiendam, et Christo fidem habendam.” — Socin. ubi sup.
That is, the blood of Christ, being paid as a price of our redemption, hath no effect in respect of him to whom it is paid, but only in respect of them for whom it is paid; than which imagination nothing can be more ridiculous.
(4.) The means of application of the redemption mentioned, or participation in respect of us, is faith. It is διὰ πίστεως ἐν αἵματι αὐτοῦ. Of this we have no occasion to speak.
(5.) The means of communication on the part of God is in these words, Ὃν προέΘετο ὁ Θεὸς ἱλαστήριον — “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation.” God set him forth for this end and purpose. The word προέθετο may design various acts of God; as, —
[1.] His purpose and determination or decree of giving Christ; 529whence our translators have in the margin rendered it “fore-ordained,” as the word is used Eph. i. 9, Ἣν προέθετο ἐν αὑτῷ, — “Which he fore-purposed in himself.” Or, —
[2.] God’s proposal of him beforehand in types and sacrifices to the Jews, the preposition πρό being often in composition used in that sense in this epistle, chap. iii. 9, xi. 35, xv. 4. Or:—
[3.] For the actual exhibition of him in the flesh when God sent him into the world. Or:—
[4.] It may refer to the open exposition and publication of him in the world by the gospel; for, as we shall afterward show, the ensuing words hold out an allusion to the ark, which now in Christ, the veil being rent, is exposed to the open view of believers. Hence John tells us, Rev. xi. 19, when the temple was opened, “there was seen in it the ark of the testament;” which, as it was not at all in the second temple, the true Ark being to be brought in, no more was it to be seen upon the opening of the first, where it was, being closed in the holiest of holies. But now in the ordinances of the gospel, the Ark is perspicuous, because Θεὸς προέθετο, — God hath set it forth to believers.
Now, he was set forth ἱλαστήριον, “a propitiation.” There is none but has observed that this is the name of the covering of the ark or the mercy-seat that is applied to Christ, Heb. ix. 5; but the true reason and sense of it hath scarce been observed. Ours generally would prove from hence that Christ did propitiate God by the sacrifice of himself. That may have something from the general notice of the word referred to, the “sacrificia,” ἱλαστικά (whereof afterward), but not from the particular intimated. The mercy-seat did not atone God for the sins that were committed against the law that was in the ark, but declared him to be atoned and appeased. That this is the meaning of it, that as the mercy-seat declared God to be atoned so also is Christ set forth to declare that God was atoned, not to atone him, Socinus contends at large, but to the utter confusion of his cause; for, —
[1.] If this declares God to be “pacatus” and “placatus,” then God was provoked, and some way was used for his atonement. And, —
[2.] This is indeed the true import of that type and the application of it here by our apostle. The mercy-seat declared God to be appeased; but how? By the blood of the sacrifice that was offered without, and brought into the holy place. The high priest never went into that place about the worship of God but it was with the blood of that sacrifice, which was expressly appointed to make atonement, Lev. xvi.. God would not have the mercy-seat once seen, nor any pledge of his being atoned, but by the blood of the propitiatory sacrifice. So it is here. God sets out Jesus Christ as a propitiation, 530and declares himself to be appeased and reconciled; but how? By the blood of Christ, by the sacrifice of himself, by the price of redemption which he paid. This is the intendment of the apostle: Christ by his blood, and the price he paid thereby, with the sacrifice he made, having atoned God, or made atonement with him for us, God now sets him forth, the veil of the temple being rent, to the eye of all believers, as the Mercy-seat wherein we may see God fully reconciled to us.
And this may serve for the vindication of the testimony to the truth insisted on; and this is the same with 2 Cor. v. 18.
It would be too long for me to insist in particular on the full vindication of the other testimonies that are used for the confirmation of this truth; I shall give them, therefore, together in such a way as that their efficacy to the purpose in hand may be easily discerned.
We are bought by Christ, saith the apostle: Ἠγοράσθητε, “Ye are bought,” 1 Cor. vi. 20. But this buying may be taken metaphorically for a mere deliverance, as certainly it is, 2 Pet. ii. 1, “Denying the Lord that bought them,” — that is, delivered them, — for it is spoken of God the Father. It may be so, the word may be so used, and therefore, to show the propriety of it here, the apostle adds τιμῆς, “with a price:” “Ye are bought with a price.” To be bought with a price doth nowhere signify to be barely delivered, but to be delivered with a valuable compensation for our deliverance. But what is this price wherewith we are bought? 1 Pet. i. 18, 19, “Not with silver and gold, but τιμίῳ αἵματι Χριστοῦ,” — with the precious (honourable) blood of Christ.” Why τίμιον αἷμα, “the precious blood?” That we may know that in this business it was valued at a sufficient rate for our redemption, and it did that which in temporal, civil redemption is done by silver and gold, which are given as a valuable consideration for the captive. But what kind of price is this blood of Christ It is λύτρον, Matt. xx. 28, that is, a “price of redemption;” whence it is said that “he gave himself for us, ἴνα λυτρώσηται ἡμᾶς,” Tit. ii. 14, “that he might fetch us off with a ransom.” But it may be that it is called λύτρον, not that he put himself in our stead, and underwent what was due to us, but that his death was as it were a price, because thereon we were delivered. Nay, but his life was λύτρον properly; and therefore he calls it also ἀντίλυτρον, 1 Tim. ii. 6. Ἀντί in composition signifies either opposition, as 1 Pet. iii. 9, or substitution and commutation, as Matt. ii. 22. In the first sense, here it cannot be taken; therefore it must be in the latter. He was ἀντίλυτρον, — that is, did so pay a ransom that he himself became that which we should have been; as it is expressed, Gal. iii. 13, “He redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.” To whom he paid this price was before declared, and the apostle expresseth it, Eph. v. 2. What now is the issue of all this? We have redemption thereby: Chap. i. 7, 531“In whom we have ἀπολύτρωσιν διὰ τοῦ αἵματος αὐτοῦ, — redemption by his blood;” as it is again asserted in the same words, Col. i. 14. But how came we by this redemption? He obtained it of God for us: “He entered into heaven, αἰωνίαν λύτρωσιν εὑράμενος, having found (or obtained) eternal redemption for us.” By the price of his blood he procured this deliverance at the hand of God. And that we may know that this effect of the death of Christ is properly towards God, what is the immediate issue of this redemption is expressed. It is “forgiveness of sins,” Eph. i. 7; Col. i. 14; Rom. iii. 24, 25.
And this is as much as is needful to the first notion of the death of Christ, as a price and ransom, with the issues of it, and the confirmation of our first argument from thence for the satisfaction of Christ.
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