by John Gill
A Body of Doctrinal Divinity
Book 6—Chapter 1
Of Redemption by Christ
Having, in the preceding book, gone through the twofold state of Christ, his humiliation and exaltation; and considered each of the offices of Prophet, Priest, and King, sustained and exercised by him therein; I shall now proceed to consider the blessings of grace, which come by him, through the exercise of them; and especially his priestly office; for he is "come an High Priest of good things to come" (Heb_9:11), which were future, under the former dispensation, were promised, prophesied of, and prefigured in it; but not accomplished; for "the law" had only a shadow of these good things to come, (Heb_10:1), but now they are come, and are actually obtained, through Christ’s coming in the flesh; and through what he has done and suffered in it; as redemption, satisfaction, and reconciliation for sin, remission of sin, justification, adoption, &c. and as redemption stands in the first place; and is a principal and most important blessing and doctrine of grace, I shall begin with that. And,
1. First, I shall settle the meaning of the word; and show what it supposes, includes, and is designed by it. Our English word Redemption, is from the Latin tongue, and signifies, buying again; and several words in the Greek language, of the New Testament, are used in the affair of our Redemption, which signify the obtaining of something by paying a proper price for it; sometimes the simple verb agorazw, to "buy", is used: so the redeemed are said to be "bought unto God" by the blood of Christ; and to be "bought" from the earth; and to be "bought" from among men; and to be "bought" with a price; that is, with the price of Christ’s blood, (Rev_5:9; Rev_14:3-4; 1Co_6:20), hence the church of God is said to be purchased with it, (Act_20:28). Sometimes the compound word exagorazw, is used; which signifies, to buy again, or out of the hands of another; as the redeemed are bought out of the hands of justice; as in (Gal_3:13; Gal_4:5). In other places lutrow, is used, or others derived from it; which signifies, the deliverance of a slave, or captive, from his thraldom, by paying a ransom price for him: so the saints are said to be redeemed, not with silver or gold, the usual price paid for a ransom; but with a far greater one, the blood and life of Christ, which he came into this world to give, as a ransom price for many; and even himself, which is antilutron, an answerable, adequate, and full price for them (1Pe_1:18; Mat_20:28; 1Ti_2:6). There are various typical redemptions, and that are of a civil nature, which may serve to illustrate our spiritual and eternal redemption by Christ. As,
1a. The deliverances of the people of Israel out of their captivities, Egyptian and Babylonian; the latter I shall not much insist upon; since, though the Jews were exiles in Babylon, they did not appear to be in much slavery and thraldom; but built houses, planted gardens, and had many privileges; insomuch that some of them, when they might have had their liberty, chose rather to continue where they were; and though their deliverance is sometimes called a redemption, yet sparingly, and in an improper sense (Jer_15:21), for they were redeemed without money; and Cyrus, their deliverer, neither gave nor took a price for them; and is never called a redeemer; (see Isa_14:13; Isa_52:3). But the deliverance of the people of Israel out of Egypt, was a very special and remarkable type of redemption by Christ, out of a worse state of bondage than that of Egypt. The Israelites were made to serve with rigor, and their lives were made bitter with hard bondage, in brick and mortar, and service in the field; and they cried to God, by reason of their bondage, it was so intolerable; and it was aggravated by the taskmasters set over them; who, by the order of Pharaoh, obliged them to provide themselves with straw, and yet bring in the full tale of brick as before: which fitly expresses the state and condition that men are in; who, through sin, are weak and unable to fulfill the law; yet is it as regardless of want of strength, as the Egyptian taskmasters were of want of straw: it requires sinless and perfect obedience to it; and curses and condemns such as continue not in all things to do it. The deliverance of the people of Israel, is called a redemption; God promised to rid them out of their bondage, and to "redeem" them with a stretched out arm; and when they were delivered, he is said to have led forth the people he had "redeemed": and the bringing them out of the house of bondage, or redeeming them out of the house of bondmen, is used as an argument to engage them to regard the commandments of God (Exo_6:6; Exo_15:13; Exo_20:9; Deu_7:8). And which redemption by Christ, from sin, the law, and death, lay the redeemed under a still greater obligation to do; Moses, who was the instrument God raised up, and whom he called and sent to redeem Israel, is said to be a "deliverer", or as it should be rendered, a "redeemer" (Act_7:35), in which he was a type of Christ, whom God raised up, called, and sent to be a Redeemer of his spiritual Israel: and there was, in some sense, a price paid for the redemption of literal Israel; since they are expressly said to be a purchased people, bought by the Lord (Exo_15:16; Deu_32:6), and their deliverance was owing to blood, the blood of the passover lamb, sprinkled on their door posts; typical of the blood of Christ, the price of our redemption. Besides, as it has been observed by some, the redemption of the people of Israel, being the Lord’s people, was by virtue of their future redemption by Christ; whose sufferings and death were for the "redemption of transgressions", or of transgressors, who were "under the first testament"; and that the temporal deliverance of none but the Lord’s people, is called a redemption, not that of his and their enemies.
1b. The ransom of the people of Israel, when numbered, was typical of the ransom by Christ; which was made by paying half a shekel, called the atonement money for their souls, and which was paid alike for a rich man, as a poor man; whereby they were preserved from any plague among them (Exo_30:12-16). None but Israelites were ransomed; and none are ransomed by Christ, but the spiritual Israel of God, whom he has chosen, Christ has redeemed, and who shall be saved with an everlasting salvation; even the whole Israel of God, Jews and Gentiles: they were a numbered people for whom the ransom was paid; and so are they that are redeemed and ransomed by Christ; whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life; who have passed under the hands of him that telleth them, and have been told into the hands of Christ; and are particularly and distinctly known by him, even by name; the sheep for whom he has laid down his life; and are a special and peculiar people. The half shekel was paid alike for rich and poor, for one neither more nor less. Christ’s people, though some may be redeemed from more and greater sins than others; yet they are all redeemed from all their sins, and with the same price, the price of his blood; and which is, as the half shekel was, an atonement for their souls; by which peace and reconciliation, and full satisfaction are made for sin, so that no plague shall come nigh them; they are delivered from going down to the pit of destruction; and are saved from the second death; (see Job_33:24).
1c. The buying again of an Israelite, waxen poor, and sold to another, by any near akin to him; is a lively representation of the purchase and redemption of the Lord’s poor people (Lev_25:47-49) who, in a state of nature, are poor, and wretched, and miserable; even so as to be like beggars on the dunghill; when such was the grace of Christ, who, though rich, for their sakes became poor, that they, through his poverty might be made rich; and to such a degree, as to be raised from the dunghill and sit among princes, and inherit the throne of glory. Though some may not sell themselves to work wickedness, as Ahab did, yet all are sold under sin; for if this was the case of the apostle Paul, though regenerate, much more must it be the case of an unregenerate man; who, through sin, is brought into subjection to it, a servant of it, and a slave to it; as the poor Israelite, sold to a stranger, was a bondman to him: and such an one cannot redeem himself, being without strength, unable to fulfil the law, and to make atonement for sin; nor can any of his friends, though ever so rich, redeem him, or give to God a ransom for him; such may redeem a poor relation, or friend from a prison, by paying his pecuniary debts for him; but cannot redeem his soul from hell and destruction; may give a ransom price to man for one in slavery and bondage; but cannot give to God a ransom to deliver from wrath to come: only Christ, the near Kinsman of his people, can do this, and has done it; he that is their "Gaol", their near "Kinsman", partaker of the same flesh and blood with them, is their Redeemer, who has given himself a ransom for them.
1d. The delivery of a debtor from prison, by paying his debts for him, is an emblem of deliverance and redemption by Christ: a man that is in debt, is liable to be arrested, and cast into prison, as is often the case; where he must lie till the debt his discharged, by himself or another: sins are debts; and a sinner owes more than ten thousand talents, and has nothing to pay; he cannot answer to the justice of God for one debt of a thousand; nor can he, by paying a debt of obedience he owes to God, pay off one debt of sin, or obligation to punishment; and so is liable to a prison, and is in one; is concluded under sin, under the guilt of it, which exposes him to punishment; and he is held with the cords and fetters of it; which he cannot loose himself from; and he is shut up under the law, in which he is held, until delivered and released by Christ; who, as he has engaged to pay the debts of his people, has paid them, cleared the whole score, and blotted out the hand writing that was against them; in consequence of which is proclaimed, in the gospel, liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; and in the effectual calling Christ says "to the prisoners", "Go forth", opening the prison doors for them; and to them that sit in darkness, in the gloomy cells of the prison, "show yourselves"; all which is done in virtue of the redemption price paid by Christ for his people.
1e. The ransoming of persons out of slavery, by paying a ransom price for them, serves to give an idea of the redemption of the Lord’s people by Christ. They are in a state of slavery, out of which they cannot deliver themselves; Christ is the ransomer of them out of the hands of such that are stronger than they; his life and blood are the ransom price he has paid for them; and they are called, the ransomed of the Lord; their deliverance from present bondage, and future ruin and destruction, is in consequence of a ransom found and given; "Deliver him from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom" (Job_33:24; Zec_9:11). In which there is an allusion to a custom in the eastern countries, to put their slaves in an evening into a pit, where they are close shut up till the morning, and then taken out, to be put to their slavish employments; but not delivered, unless a sufficient ransom is given for them; and such is the blood of the covenant. Now all these views of redemption plainly point out to us the following things with respect to the redemption of the Lord’s people.
1e1. That they are previous to their redemption, and which that supposes, in a state of captivity and bondage; they are sinners in Adam, and by actual transgressions; and so come into the hands of vindictive justice, offended by sin; and which will not clear the guilty without satisfaction given to it; which is made by paying a price: redemption by Christ is nothing more nor less than buying his people out of the hands of justice, in which they are held for sin; and that is with the price of his blood; which is therefore paid into the hands of justice for them: hence they are said to be redeemed, or bought unto God by his blood (Rev_5:9). Being sinners, and offenders of the justice of God, that holds under sin; under the guilt of it, which binds over to punishment, unless delivered from it; it holds them under the sentence of the law, transgressed by them; which not only accuses of and charges with sin, but pronounces guilty, and condemns and curses: it holds them in subjection to death, even eternal death; which is the wages and just demerit of sin: the law threatened with it in case of sin; sin being committed, the sentence of death passed upon all men; all having sinned, judgment, or the judicial sentence, came upon all men to condemnation in a legal way; and sin reigned unto death in a tyrannical manner; or, in other words, man became not only deserving of wrath, but obnoxious to it; the wrath of God was revealed from heaven against all unrighteousness and ungodliness of men; and indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, come upon every soul of man, as upon the children of disobedience, unless delivered from it, through the redemption that is by Christ. In such an enthralled state are men to sin, to the justice of God, to death, and wrath to come.
1e2. That redemption by Christ is a deliverance from all this. It is a redemption from sin; from all iniquities whatever, original and actual (Psa_130:8; Tit_2:14), from avenging justice, on account of sin; from the guilt of sin; for there is no condemnation by it to them that are interested in redemption by Christ; "Who shall condemn? it is Christ that died!" and by dying, has redeemed his people from sin, and secured them from condemnation (Rom_8:1; Rom_8:33) and in virtue of this they are delivered from the dominion of sin; for though this is done in the effectual calling, by the power of divine grace, it is in virtue of redemption by Christ, by whom sin is crucified, and the body of it destroyed; so that it shall not reign in them, or have dominion over them: one branch of redemption lies in being delivered from a vain conversation; and, ere long, the redeemed shall be delivered from the very being of sin; when their redemption, as to the application of it, will be complete; as it will be in the resurrection; when the soul will not only be among the spirits of just men made perfect; but the body will be clear of sin, mortality, and death; which is called redemption that draws near, the redemption of the body waited for, and the day of redemption (Luk_21:28; Rom_8:23; Eph_1:14; Eph_4:30). Redemption is a deliverance from the law, from the bondage of it, and from the curse and condemnation by it; so that there shall be no more curse; and from eternal death and wrath to come: life is forfeited into the hands of justice by sin; which life is redeemed from destruction by Christ, giving his life a ransom for it; he, by redeeming his people, has delivered them from wrath to come; being justified through the redemption that is in Christ, by his blood, they are, and shall be saved, from everlasting wrath, ruin, and destruction.
1e3. That redemption by Christ is such a deliverance, as that it is setting persons quite free and at entire liberty; such who are dead to sin by Christ are freed from it, from the damning power of it, and from its dominion and tyranny; and though, not as yet, from the being of it; yet, ere long, they will be; when, with the rest of the members of the church, they will be presented glorious, without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing: and such are free from the law; though not from obedience to it, yet from the bondage of it; they are delivered from it, and are no longer held in it, as in a prison; but are directed and exhorted to stand fast in the liberty from it, with which Christ has made them free; and this will have its full completion on all accounts, when the saints shall be delivered from every degree of bondage into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
A Body of Doctrinal Divinity
Book 6—Chapter 2
Of the Causes of Redemption by Christ
Secondly, The next thing to be considered are the causes of redemption; what it springs from, by whom, and by what means it is obtained; and for what ends and purposes it is wrought out.
I. First, the moving cause of it, or from whence it springs and flows; and that is, the everlasting love of God; which, as it is the source and spring of every blessing of grace; as of election, regeneration, and effectual calling; so of redemption. The gift of Christ to be the Redeemer of his people flows from this love. Christ was given to be a Redeemer before he was sent; when he was given for a covenant to the people he was given in covenant to be the Redeemer of them; and this gift was the effect of love; to this Christ himself ascribes it; "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son"; that is, to he their Redeemer; hence, before he came, Job had knowledge of him as his living Redeemer; and all the Old Testament saints waited for him as such. The mission of Christ in the fulness of time, to be the propitiation for the sins of men, and to redeem them from them, is given as a manifest, clear, and undoubted instance of his love; "In this was manifested the love of God", &c. "Herein is love", &c. (1Jn_4:9-10) and God’s not sparing his Son, but delivering him into the hands of justice and death, to die in the room and stead of sinners, while they were such, is a full demonstration and high commendation of his great love unto them (Rom_5:8). The free grace of God, for grace, if it is not altogether free is not grace; and which is no other than unmerited love, clear of all conditions, merit and motives in the creature; it is at the bottom of our redemption by Christ; for as we are "justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ"; so that redemption that is in and by Christ is of free grace; the gift of Christ is a free grace gift; his being sent and delivered up to death are owing to the grace of God; it is "by the grace of God he tasted death for everyone"; for everyone of the sons of God: and this cannot be attributed to any merit or desert in those for whom Christ died; since they were without strength, ungodly wicked sinners, the chief of sinners, and enemies in their minds, by wicked works (Rom_5:6-8; Rom_5:10). Mercy, which is no other than the love and grace of God, exercised towards miserable creatures, gives rise to this blessing of redemption: God first resolved to have mercy on sinful men; and then determined to redeem and save them by his Son; and it is through the tender mercy of our God, that Christ, the dayspring from on high, visited and redeemed his people; and so performed the mercy promised to men (Luk_1:68-69; Luk_1:72; Luk_1:78), hence God is said to save men according to his mercy; and mercy is glorified in their salvation and redemption by Christ; and they are under obligation to sing of mercy, to praise the Lord, and give thanks unto him, on account of it (Tit_3:5; Psa_107:1-2; Psa_136:23-24), it is now, by the love, grace, and mercy of God to sinful men, that his will is determined, and his resolution fixed, to redeem them; for redemption is according to an eternal purpose he has purposed in Christ; who was foreordained before the foundation of the world, to redeem men from a vain conversation, with his precious blood: he was set forth, in the decrees and purposes of God, to be the propitiation for sin; God appointed him to be the Redeemer and Saviour; and appointed men, not unto wrath, which they deserved, but to obtain salvation by him; even the vessels of mercy afore prepared for glory; and being moved, from his love, grace, and mercy, within himself, to determine upon the redemption of them, his wisdom was set to work to find out the best way and method of doing it: upon this a council was held; God was, in Christ, forming a scheme of peace, reconciliation, and redemption; in which he has "abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence", in fixing upon the most proper person, and the most proper means, whereby to effect it: and hence the scheme of redemption, as formed in the eternal mind and council of God, is called "the manifold wisdom of God" (Eph_1:7-8; Eph_3:10). But of the wisdom of God, as it appears in redemption by Christ, I have more largely treated when on the attribute of Wisdom. All these workings in the heart and will of God, issued in a covenant between him and his Son; in which he proposed to his Son, that he should be the Raiser up, Restorer, and Redeemer of his people, both among Jews and Gentiles; and to which he agreed, and said, "Lo, I come to do thy will!" which was no other, than to work out the redemption of his people (Isa_49:5-6; Psa_40:7-8). Hence this covenant is by some called, the covenant of redemption, in which this great affair was settled and secured. Now upon all this, the love, grace, and mercy of God, the good will and purpose of his heart, his council and covenant, the plot of man’s redemption is formed; this is the source and spring of it.
II. Secondly, The procuring cause, or author of redemption, is Christ, the Son of God; he was appointed to it, and assented to it; was prophesied of as the Redeemer that should come to Zion; he was sent to redeem them that were under the law; and he has obtained eternal redemption; and in him believers have it, through his blood, and he is of God made redemption to them.
1. If it be asked, how Christ came to be the Redeemer? it may be answered, as the love, grace, and mercy of God the Father moved him to resolve upon redemption, and appoint his Son, and call him to this work; so like love, grace, and mercy, wrought in the heart of the Son of God to accept of this call, and engage in this work; the love of Christ, which was in his heart from everlasting, and was a love of complacency and delight; this showed itself in various acts, and especially in giving himself for his people to redeem them; in giving himself an offering and a sacrifice for their sins; in laying down his life for them; all which is frequently ascribed to his love (Tit_2:14; Eph_5:2; Eph_5:25; 1Jn_3:16), and this love is unmerited, as appears from the characters of the persons for whom he died, observed before; and so is called the grace of Christ, free grace, unmoved and unmerited by anything in the creature; and to this is attributed the whole affair of our redemption and salvation by Christ (2Co_8:5), pity and compassion in his heart towards his people in their miserable and enthralled state, moved him to undertake and perform the work of their redemption: "in his love and in his pity he redeemed them", as he did Israel of old (Isa_63:9). This love, grace, and mercy, influenced and engaged him to resolve upon the redemption of them; hence he said, "I will ransom them, I will redeem them"; as from the grave and death, so from every other enemy (Hos_13:14), and as he entered into covenant engagements with his Father from everlasting, he considered himself as under obligation to perform this work, and therefore spoke in language which imports the same; as that he must work the works of him that sent him, of which this is the principal; that he "ought" to suffer and die as he did; and that he "must" bring in those the Father gave him, and he undertook for, and bring them safe to glory.
2. The fitness of Christ to be a Redeemer of his people is worthy of notice. As he engaged in it he was every way fit for it; none so fit as he, none fit for it but himself; no creature, man or angel: no man, for all have sinned, and so everyone needs a redeemer from sin, and can neither redeem himself nor any other; nor could an angel redeem any of the sons of men; God has put no trust of this kind in those his servants the angels, knowing that they were unequal to it: the angel Jacob speaks of, that redeemed him from all evil, was not a created but the uncreated angel; the angel and messenger of the covenant, the Messiah. Now Christ’s fitness for the work of redemption lies in his being God and man in one person. It was the Son of God that was sent to redeem men, who is of the same nature, and possessed of the same perfections his divine Father is; the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person; who was in the form of God, and thought it no robbery to be equal to him: this Son of God is the true God, the great God, and so fit to be the Redeemer and Saviour of men; and a mighty redeemer he must be, since he is Jehovah, the Lord of hosts, and therefore equal to such a work as this (Gal_4:4; 1Jn_5:20; Tit_2:13; Jer_50:34), and he is both God and man; he is the child born, as man, and the son given, as a divine person; he is Immanuel, God with us, God in our nature, God manifest in the flesh, and so fit to be a mediator between God and man; and to be an umpire, a daysman to lay hands on both; and to do the work required of a redeemer of men, to make reconciliation for their sins, and to take care of things pertaining to the glory of God, his justice and holiness. As man he could be made, as he was made, under the law, and so capable of yielding obedience to it, and of bearing the penalty of it; which it was necessary he should, as the surety and redeemer of men; as man, he had blood to shed, with which most precious blood he could redeem them unto God; had a life to lay down, a sufficient ransom price for his people, and was capable of suffering and dying in their room and stead, and so of making full satisfaction for them. As God, he would be zealously concerned for the glory of the divine perfections, and secure the honour of them in the redemption wrought out by him; as such, he could put an infinite virtue into his blood, and make it a full and adequate price for the purchase of his church, and the redemption of it; as such, he could support the human nature under the load of sin and of sufferings for it, and of carrying it through the work, otherwise insupportable; and as both God and man he had a right to redeem; as Lord of all, he had a right as well as power to redeem them that were his; and being, as man, their near kinsman, the right of redemption belonged to him, and therefore bears the name of Gaol which signifies a redeemer, and a near kinsman; see the law in Lev_25:47-49 and who so fit to be the redeemer of the church as he who is her head and her husband?
3. The means by which redemption is wrought out by Christ; and that is by his blood, his life, to which it is often ascribed (Eph_1:7; 1Pe_1:18-19; Rev_5:9), this was shed, and shed freely, for the remission of sins, and for the redemption of men; had it been shed involuntarily, by accident, or by force, against his will, it would not have been a proper redemption price, or have answered such an end; but it was purposely and voluntarily shed, and with full consent; Christ, as he had the full disposal of his own life, freely gave his life a ransom price for many; "I lay down my life for the sheep", says he, as a ransom price for them; "I lay it down of myself" (Mat_20:28; Joh_10:15; Joh_10:18), and the blood that was thus freely shed was the same with that of those for whom it was shed, which was necessary; not the blood of bulls and goats, which could not be an adequate price of redemption, but human blood; Christ partook of the same flesh and blood with the children for whom he died; only with this difference, it was not tainted with sin as theirs is; which is another requisite of the ransom price; it must be the blood of an innocent person, as Christ was: much notice is taken in scripture of the innocence, holiness, and righteousness of the Redeemer; that he was holy in his nature, blameless in life, knew no sin, nor ever committed any; that he, the just and Holy One, suffered for the unjust; a great emphasis is put upon this, that the price with which men are redeemed is "the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot" (1Pe_1:18-19), for if he had had any sin in him, he could not have been a redeemer from sin, nor his blood the price of redemption: and yet more than all this, it is necessary to make this price a full and adequate one, it must not be the blood of a mere creature, but of one that is God as well as man, and such is Christ; hence God, who is Christ, is said to "purchase the church with his own blood"; being God and man in one person, this gave his blood a sufficient virtue to make such a purchase; and a peculiar emphasis is put upon his blood, being the "blood of" Jesus Christ "the Son of God", which cleanses from all sin (Act_20:28; 1Jn_1:7). Now this price is paid into the hands of God, whose justice is offended, whose law is broken, and who is the lawgiver, that is able to save and to destroy; and against whom all sin is committed: and who will not clear the guilty unless his justice is satisfied; for he is the judge of all the earth, who will do right; wherefore Christ is said "to redeem" men "unto God by his blood" (Rev_5:9). The price of redemption, which is the blood of Christ, was paid unto God, whereby redemption from vindictive justice was obtained; it was not paid into the hands of Satan, or any other enemy that had power over the redeemed; for the power of Satan was only an usurpation; he had no legal right to hold them captives; and therefore the delivery of them out of his hand is by power and not by price: but the justice of God had a legal right to shut them up, and detain them as prisoners, till satisfaction was given; and therefore redemption from avenging justice, which is properly the redemption that is by Christ, is by a price paid to justice for the ransom of them.
III. Thirdly, The final cause, or causes, or ends, for which redemption was wrought out and obtained by Christ in this way; and they are these.
1. That the justice of God might be satisfied in the salvation of a sinner; that God might appear to be just, while he is the justifier of him that believes in Jesus; and be just and faithful in forgiving sins, and cleansing from all unrighteousness; that the attributes of his justice, holiness, truth, and faithfulness, might be glorified in the redemption of men, as well as the other perfections of his (Rom_3:25-26; 1Jn_1:9; Psa_85:10).
2. That the people of God might be reconciled unto him, and have peace with him, and joy through believing in Christ; for the price of redemption being paid for them, and satisfaction given, they are reconciled to God by the death of his Son; even to his justice, as they always stood in his love and favour; and peace being made by the blood of Christ on such a footing, they may joy in God through Christ, by whom they have received the atonement (Rom_5:10-11).
3. Another end of redemption by Christ is, that the redeemed might enjoy the blessing of adoption; for so it is said, that God sent his Son "to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons", (Gal_4:4-5) for though the saints are predestinated to the adoption of children in the purpose of God from everlasting; and this blessing is provided and secured in the covenant of grace; yet sin having thrown an obstruction in the way of the enjoyment of it in their own persons, consistent with the holiness and justice of God, this is removed by the redemption which is through Christ; so that they come to receive and enjoy this blessing of grace in themselves in virtue of their redemption by Christ, and through believing in him.
4. The sanctification of God’s elect is another end of redemption by Christ; "who gave himself for them, that he might redeem them from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people zealous of good works" (Tit_2:14), and again, Christ is said to love the church, and give himself for it, a ransom price for it, "that he might sanctify and cleanse it" (Eph_5:25-26) and the redeemed are said to be redeemed by his blood "from a vain conversation" (1Pe_1:18), for in consequence of redemption by Christ, the Spirit of Christ comes as a Spirit of sanctification, and begins and carries on that work in the souls of God’s people; and by applying the grace and benefit of redemption, lays them under the highest obligation to holiness of life and conversation; see Gal_3:14.
5. In a word, the end of Christ’s redeeming his people is, that they might be freed from all evil, from every enemy, and all that is hurtful, sin, Satan, the world, law, hell, and death; and that they might be put into the possession of every good thing. "Christ has redeemed them from the curse of the law, being made a curse for them, that the blessing of Abraham", even all the blessings of the covenant of grace, in which Abraham was interested, "might come on them through Jesus Christ" (Gal_3:13-14).
6. And lastly, The subordinate end of redemption is the everlasting salvation of God’s elect, and their eternal life and happiness; and the ultimate end is the glory of God, of his grace and justice, and of all the perfections of his nature.
A Body of Doctrinal Divinity
Book 6—Chapter 3
Of the Objects of Redemption by Christ
Thirdly, the objects of redemption come next under consideration. These are a special and distinct people; they are said to be "redeemed from the earth"; that is, from among the inhabitants of the earth, as after explained, "redeemed from among men"; and one end of Christ’s redemption of them is, "to purify to himself a peculiar people" (Rev_14:3-4; Tit_2:14). The inspired writers seem to delight in using the pronoun "us", when speaking of the death of Christ, and redemption by it; thereby pointing at a particular people, as the context shows: "Christ died for us"; God "delivered him up for us all; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us; hath redeemed us unto God by thy blood" (Rom_5:8; Rom_8:32; Tit_2:14; Rev_5:9). They are many indeed for whom Christ has given "his life a ransom", a ransom price, the price of their redemption (Mat_20:28). But then these are so described as show they are a peculiar people; they are the "many" who are ordained unto eternal life; the "many" the Father has given to Christ; the many whose sins he bore on the cross; the "many" for whom his blood was shed for the remission of their sins; the "many" who are made righteous by his obedience; the "many" sons, he, the Captain of their salvation, brings to glory. That the objects of redemption are a special people, will appear by the following observations.
1. The objects of redemption are such who are the objects of God’s love; for redemption, as has been observed, flows from the love of God and Christ; and which love is not that general kindness shown in providence to all men, as the creatures of God; but is special and discriminating; the favour which he bears to his own people, as distinct from others; "Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated": and the love which Christ has expressed in redemption is towards his own that were in the world, whom he has a special right and property in, "his" people, "his" sheep, "his" church; as will be seen hereafter.
2. The objects of election and redemption are the same; "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?--It is Christ that died!" died for the elect: so the same, us all, for whom God delivered up his Son, are those whom he foreknew, and whom he predestinated; and whose calling, justification, and glorification are secured thereby (Rom_8:30-33), and the same us, who are said to be chosen in Christ, before the foundation of the world, have redemption in him through his blood (Eph_1:4; Eph_1:7). Election and redemption are of equal extent; no more are redeemed by Christ than are chosen in him; and these are a special people: what is said of the objects of the one is true of the objects of the other. Are the elect the beloved of the Lord? and does the act of election spring from love? Election presupposes love: so the redeemed are the beloved of God and Christ; and their redemption flows from love. Are the elect a people whom God has chosen for his peculiar treasure? the redeemed are purified by Christ, to be a peculiar people to himself. Do the vessels of mercy, afore prepared for glory, consist of Jews and Gentiles; even of them who are called of both? so Christ is the propitiation, not for the sins of the Jews only, or the Redeemer of them only; but for the sins of the Gentile world also, or the Redeemer of his people among them. Are the elect of God a great number, of all nations, kindreds, people, and tongues? Christ has redeemed those he has redeemed unto God, out of every kindred, tongue, people, and nation. Is it true of the elect, that they cannot be totally and finally deceived and perish? it is true of the ransomed of the Lord, that they shall come to Zion with everlasting joy; Christ will never lose any part of the purchase of his blood.
3. Those for whom Christ has died, and has redeemed by his blood, are no other than those for whom he became a Surety. Now Christ was the Surety of the better testament, or covenant of grace; and of course became a Surety for those, and for no other, than who were interested in that covenant, in which he engaged to be the Redeemer: Christ’s suretyship is the ground and foundation of redemption; the true reason of the sin of his people, and the punishment of it, being laid upon him, and of his bearing it; of the payment of the debts of his people, and of redeeming them out of the hands of justice; was because he engaged as a Surety, and laid himself under obligation to do all this. But for those for whom he did not become a Surety, he was not obliged to pay their debts, nor to suffer and die in their room and stead. Christ’s suretyship and redemption are of equal extent, and reach to the same objects; they are the Lord’s Benjamins, the sons of his right hand, his beloved sons, that Christ, the antitype of Judah, became a surety for, and laid himself under obligation to bring them safe to glory, and present them to his divine Father,
4. The objects of redemption are described by such characters as show them to be a special and distinct people; particularly they are called, the people of God and Christ; "for the transgressions of my people", saith the Lord, "was he stricken"; that is, Christ was, or would be, stricken by the rod of justice, to make satisfaction for their sins, and thereby redeem them from them (Isa_53:8), and when he was about to come and redeem them, Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, at his birth said, "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel! for he hath visited and redeemed his people"; by sending Christ, the dayspring from on high, as he afterwards calls him, to visit them, and redeem them by his blood (Luk_1:68; Luk_1:78). Hence, also, the angel that appeared to Joseph, and instructed him to call the Son that should be born of his wife by the name of Jesus, gives this reason, "for he shall save his people from their sins" (Mat_1:21). Now though all men are, in a sense, the people of God, as they are his creatures, and the care of his providence; yet they are not all redeemed by Christ; because those that are redeemed by Christ are redeemed "out of every people"; and therefore cannot be every or all people (Rev_5:9), the redeemed are God’s covenant people; of whom he says, "They shall be my people, and I will be their God": they are his portion and his inheritance; a people near unto him, both with respect to union and communion; a people given to Christ, to be redeemed and saved by him; of whom it is said, "Thy people shall be willing", &c.
5. The objects of redemption; or those for whom Christ laid down his life a ransom price, are described as "sheep"; as the sheep of Christ, in whom he has a special property, being given him of his Father; and who are represented as distinct from others, who are not his sheep (Joh_10:15; Joh_10:26; Joh_10:29), and such things are said of them as can only agree with some particular persons; as, that they are known by Christ; "I know my sheep", not merely by his omniscience, so he knows all men; but he knows them distinctly as his own; "the Lord knows them that are his", from others; he has knowledge of them, joined with special love and affection for them; as he has not brothers, to whom he will say, "Depart from me: I know you not". Likewise Christ is "known" by those sheep of his he has laid down his life for; they know him in his person, offices, and grace; whereas there are some that neither know the Father nor the Son; but those know the voice of Christ; that is, the gospel of Christ, the joyful sound; whereas the gospel is hid to them that are lost: and the sheep Christ has died for "follow" him, imitate him in the exercise of grace, of love, patience, humility, &c. and in the performance of duty; and this is said of the redeemed from among men; that they "follow the Lamb whithersoever he goes" (Rev_14:4). It is also affirmed of those sheep, that they shall "never perish"; whereas the goats, set on Christ’s left hand, shall he bid to go, as "cursed", into everlasting fire (Mat_25:33-34).
6. The objects of redemption are the sons of God; redemption and adoption belong to the same persons; according to the prophecy of Caiaphas, Christ was to die, not for the nation of the Jews only, but to "gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad" throughout the Gentile world (Joh_11:52), and those who are predestinated to adoption by Christ are said to have redemption in him, through his blood (Eph_1:5; Eph_1:7), and the blessing of adoption, in the full enjoyment of it, in the resurrection, is called "the redemption of the body"; when redemption, as to the application of it, will be complete also (Rom_8:23). Now these sons, or children of God, are a peculiar number of men, who are given of God to Christ, to redeem; the seed promised to him in covenant, that he should see and enjoy; and to whom he stands in the relation of the everlasting Father; these are they on whose account he became incarnate, "took part of the same flesh and blood"; and these are the many sons he brings to glory (Heb_2:10; Heb_2:13-14). Now these are not all men; "the children of the flesh", or such as are never born again, they are "not the children of God"; only such are openly and manifestly the children of God who believe in Christ; and this is owing to special grace, to distinguishing love; and is a favour that is only conferred on some (Rom_9:8; Gal_3:26; Joh_1:12; 1Jn_3:1).
7. The objects of redemption are the church and spouse of Christ; it is the church he has loved, and given himself as a sacrifice and ransom price for; it is the church he has purchased with his blood; even the general assembly, the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven; that is, the elect of God, whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life (Eph_5:25; Act_20:28), of that church of which Christ is the head and husband, he is the Redeemer; "thy Maker is thine husband; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel!" (Isa_54:5). This cannot be said of all communities and bodies of men: the whore of Babylon is not the spouse of Christ; nor sects under the influence of false teachers, though there may be "threescore queens, and fourscore concubines", of this sort; yet, says Christ, "my dove, my undefiled, is but one"; and who only is redeemed by Christ, and espoused to him (Son_6:9).
Now from all this it appears, that redemption is not universal, is not of all men; for though they are many for whom the ransom price is paid; yet though all are many, many are not all; and if the redeemed are such who are the objects of God’s special love and favour, then not all men; for there are some of whom it is said, "He that made them, will not have mercy on them; and he that formed them, will show them no favour" (Isa_27:11). If they are the elect of God who are redeemed by Christ, and them only, then not all men; for all are not chosen; "The election hath obtained it"; and "the rest are blinded" (Rom_11:7), if only those are redeemed for whom Christ became a surety, then not all men; since Christ did not engage to pay the debts of all men; and if they are the people of God and Christ, then not all; since there are some on whom God writes a "loammi", saying, "Ye are not my people; and I will not be your God" (Hos_1:9). And if they are the sheep of Christ, to whom he gives eternal life; then not the goats, who will go into everlasting punishment; and if they are the children of God, and the church and spouse of Christ; then not all men; for all do not bear these characters, nor stand in these relations. What may be further necessary, will be to produce some reasons, or arguments, against universal redemption; and to give answer to such scriptures as are brought in favour of it. It should be observed, that it is agreed on both sides, that all are not eventually saved: could universal salvation be established, there would be no objection to universal redemption; the former not being the case the latter cannot be true; Christ certainly saves all whom he redeems.
7a. First, I shall give some reasons, or produce some arguments against the universal scheme of redemption. And,
7a1. First. The first set of arguments shall be taken from hence, that universal redemption reflects highly on the perfections of God; and what is contrary to the divine perfections, cannot be true; for God cannot deny himself, nor say, nor do anything contrary to his nature and attributes.
7a1a. The universal scheme greatly reflects on the love of God to men: it may, at first sight, seem to magnify it, since it extends it to all; but it will not appear so; it lessens it, and reduces it to nothing. The scriptures highly commend the love of God, as displayed in the death of his Son, and in redemption by him; but what kind of love must that be, which does not secure the salvation of any by it? it is not that love which God bears to his own people, which is special and distinguishing; when, according to the universal scheme, God loved Peter no more than he did Judas; nor the saints now in heaven, any more than those that are damned in hell; since they were both loved alike, and equally redeemed by Christ; nor is it that love of God, which is immutable, invariable, and unalterable; since, according to this scheme, God loves men with so intense a love, at one time, as to give his Son to die for them, and wills that they all should be saved; and afterwards this love is turned into wrath and fury; and he is determined to punish them with everlasting destruction. What sort of hove must this be in God, not to spare his Son, but deliver him up to death for all the individuals of mankind, for their redemption; and yet, to multitudes of them, does not send them so much as the gospel, to acquaint them with the blessing of redemption by Christ; and much less his Spirit, to apply the benefit of redemption to them; nor give them faith to lay hold upon it for themselves? Such love as this is unworthy of God, and of no service to the creature.
7a1b. The universal scheme, highly reflects on the wisdom of God: it is certain, God is "wonderful in counsel", in contriving the scheme of redemption; and is "excellent in working", in the execution of it: he is the wise God, and our Saviour; and is wise as such. But where is his wisdom in forming a scheme, in which he fails of his end? there must be some deficiency in it; a want of wisdom, to concert a scheme, which is not, or cannot be carried into execution, at least as to some considerable part of it. Should it be said, that the failure is owing to some men not performing the conditions of their redemption required of them; it may be observed, either God did know, or did not know, that these men would not perform the conditions required: if he did not know, this ascribes want of knowledge to him; which surely ought not to be ascribed to him that knows all things: if he did know they would not perform them, where is his wisdom, to provide the blessing of redemption, which he knew beforehand, would be of no service to them? Let not such a charge of folly, be brought against infinite Wisdom.
7a1c. The universal scheme, highly reflects on the justice of God: God is righteous in all his ways and works; and so in this of redemption by Christ; and, indeed, one principal end of it is, "To declare the righteousness of God, that he might be just", or appear to be just, "and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus". But if Christ died for the sins of all men, and the punishment of their sins is inflicted on him, and bore by him, and yet multitudes of them are everlastingly punished for them, where is the justice of God? It is reckoned unjust with men, to punish twice for the same act of offence: if one man pays another man’s debts, would it be just with the creditor to exact, require, and receive payment again at the hands of the debtor? If Christ has paid the debts of all men, can it be just with God to arrest such persons, and cast them into the prison of hell, till they have paid the uttermost farthing? Far be it from the Judge of all the earth to do so, who will do right.
7a1d. The universal scheme, reflects on the power of God; as if he was not able to carry his designs into execution; whereas, "The Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save"; but, according to this scheme, it seems as if it was; for if Christ has redeemed all men, and all men are not saved, it must be either from want of will in God to save them, or from want of power: not from want of will; for, according to this scheme, it is the will of God that every individual man should be saved: it must be therefore for want of power; and so he is not omnipotent. Should it be said, that some men not being saved, is owing to evil dispositions in them, obstructing the kind influences and intentions of God towards them; to the perverseness of their wills, and the strength of their unbelief. But, what is man mightier than his Maker? Are the kind influences of God, and his gracious intentions, to be obstructed by the corrupt dispositions of men? Is not be able to work in them, both to will and to do, of his good pleasure? Cannot he remove the perverseness of their wills, and the hardness of their hearts? Cannot he, by his power, take away their unbelief, and work faith in them, to believe in a living Redeemer? Far be it to think otherwise of him, with whom nothing is too hard, nor anything impossible.
7a1e. The universal scheme reflects on the immutability of God, of his love, and of his counsel: God, in the scripture, says, "I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed" (Mal_3:6). But, according to this scheme, it should be, rather, I am the Lord, I change; and therefore the sons of men, or at least some of them, are consumed, are lost and perish, though redeemed by Christ; for the love of God, as has been observed, is changeable with respect unto them: one while he loves them, so that he wills their salvation; at another time his love is changed into hatred, and he is resolved to stir up his wrath to the uttermost against them. He is said to be "in one mind, and who can turn him?" and yet, according to this scheme, he is sometimes in one mind, and sometimes in another; sometimes his mind is to save them; and at another time his mind is to damn them. But let not this be said of him, "with whom there is no variableness, nor shadow of turning".
7a1f. The universal scheme disappoints God of his chief end, and robs him of his glory. The ultimate end of God, in the redemption of men; as has been observed; is his own glory, the glory of his rich grace and mercy; and of his righteousness, truth, and faithfulness: but if men, any of them who are redeemed, are not saved, so far God loses his end, and is deprived of his glory; for should this be the case, where would be the glory of God the Father, in forming a scheme which does not succeed, at least with respect to multitudes? and where would be the glory of the Son of God, the Redeemer, in working out the redemption of men, and yet they not saved by him? And where would be the glory of the Spirit of God, if the redemption wrought out, is not effectually applied by him? But, on the contrary, the "glory of God", Father, Son, and Spirit, "is great in the salvation" of all the redeemed ones (Psa_21:5).
7a2. Secondly, Another set of arguments against universal redemption, might be taken from its reflecting on the grace and work of Christ: whatever obscures, or lessens, the grace of Christ in redemption, or depreciates his work as a Redeemer, can never be true. Whereas,
7a2a. The universal scheme reflects on the love and grace of Christ. The scripture speaks highly of the love of Christ, as displayed in redemption; and Christ himself intimates, that he was about to give the greatest instance of his love to his people, by dying for them, that could be given; even though and while they were enemies to him, (Joh_15:13). But what sort of love is that, to love men to such a degree as to die for them, and yet withhold the means of grace from multitudes of them, bestow no grace upon them, and at last say to them, "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire!"
7a2b. The universal scheme reflects upon the work of Christ; particularly his work of satisfaction, which was to finish transgression, to make an end of sin, by satisfying divine justice for it; by putting away sin by the sacrifice of himself. Now, either he has made satisfaction for every man, or he has not: if he has, then they ought to be set free, and fully discharged, and not punishment inflicted on them, or their debts exacted of them: if he has not made satisfaction by redeeming them, this lessens the value of Christ’s work, and makes it of no use, and ineffectual; and indeed, generally, if not always, the advocates for general redemption deny the proper satisfaction, and real atonement by Christ; plainly discerning, that if he has made full satisfaction for the sins of all men, they must all be saved; and so the work of reconciliation, which is closely connected with, and involved in satisfaction, is not perfect according to the scriptures: Christ, by redeeming then with the price of his blood, has made satisfaction to justice for them, and thereby has procured their reconciliation; for they are said to be reconciled unto God by the death of his Son; and peace is said to be made by the blood of his cross, which is the redemption price for them; and he is pacified towards them for all that they have done; which is meant by Christ being a propitiation for sin, whereby justice is appeased. But, according to the universal scheme, God is only made reconcilable, not reconciled, nor men reconciled to him: notwithstanding what Christ has done, there may be no peace to them, not any being actually made for them; and, indeed, the work of redemption must be very incomplete; though Christ is a "Rock", as a Saviour and Redeemer, and his work is "perfect", his world of redemption; and hence called a "plenteous" one; and Christ is said to have obtained "eternal redemption" for us; and yet if all are not saved through it, it must be imperfect; it cannot be a full redemption, nor of eternal efficacy; the benefit of it, can at most, be only for a time to some, if any at all, and not be for ever; which is greatly to depreciate the efficacy of this work of Christ.
7a2c. According to the universal scheme, the death of Christ, with respect to multitudes, for whom he is said to die, must be in vain; for if Christ died to redeem all men, and all men are not saved by his death, so far his death must be in vain: if he paid a ransom for all, and all are not ransomed; or if he has paid the debts of all, and they are not discharged, the price is given, and the payment made, in vain. According to this scheme, the death of Christ is no security against condemnation; though the apostle says, "Who shall condemn? It is Christ that died!" so that there is no condemnation to them whose sins are condemned in Christ; and he has condemned them in the flesh (Rom_8:1; Rom_8:33), and yet there is a world of men that will be condemned (1Co_11:32), and therefore it may be concluded, that Christ did not die for them, or otherwise they would not come into condemnation; or else Christ’s death has no efficacy against condemnation.
7a2d. The universal scheme separates the works of Christ, the work of redemption, and the work of intercession; and makes them to belong to different persons; whereas they are of equal extent, and belong to the same; for whom Christ died, for them he rose again from the dead; and that was for their justification; which is not true of all men: for those he ascended to heaven, to God, as their God and Father, for the same he entered into heaven, as their forerunner, and appears in the presence of God for them and ever lives to make intercession for them; and for the same for whom he is an advocate, he is the propitiation; for his advocacy is founded upon his propitiatory sacrifice: now those for whom he prays and intercedes, are not all men, himself being witness; "I pray for them; I pray not for the world" (Joh_17:9). Yet, according to the universal scheme, he died for them for whom he would not pray; which is absurd and incredible.
7a2e. If Christ died for all men, and all men are not saved, Christ will not see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied; as was promised him (Isa_53:11), for what satisfaction can he have to see his labour, with respect to multitudes, all lost labour, or labour in vain? it was the joy that was set before him, of having those for whom he suffered and died, with him in heaven: but what joy can he have, and what a disappointment must it be to him, to see thousands and millions whom he so loved as to give himself for, howling in hell, under the everlasting displeasure and wrath of God?
7a3. Thirdly, Other arguments against universal redemption, may be taken from the uselessness of it to great numbers of men. As,
7a3a. To those whose sins are irremissible; whose sins will never be forgiven, neither in this world, nor in that which is to come: that there are such sinners, and such sins committed by them, is certain, from what Christ himself says (Mat_12:31-32), and the apostle speaks of a sin which is "unto death", unto eternal death; which he does not advise to pray for (1Jn_5:16), and surely Christ cannot be thought to die for such sins, for which there is no forgiveness with God, and no prayer to be made by men for the remission of them; to say that Christ died for those, is to say that he died in vain: besides, there were multitudes in hell at the time when Christ died; and it cannot be thought that he died for those, as he must, if he died for all the individuals of mankind; as the men of Sodom, who were then, as Jude says, "suffering the vengeance of eternal fire"; and the inhabitants of the whole world, the world of the ungodly, destroyed by the flood; those that were disobedient in the times of Noah; whose spirits, as the apostle Peter says, were, in his time, in the prison of hell (Jude 5:7; 1Pe_3:20), if he died for these, his death must be fruitless and useless; unless it can be thought, that a jail delivery was made at his death, and the dominions and regions of hell were cleared of their subjects.
7a3b. Redemption, if for all, must be useless to those who never were favored with the means of grace; as all the nations of the world, excepting Israel, for many hundred of years were; whose times of ignorance God winked at and overlooked, and sent no messengers, nor messages of grace unto them; (see Psa_147:19-20; Act_17:30), and since the coming of Christ, though the gospel has, in some ages, had a greater spread, yet not preached to all; nor is it now, to many nations, who have never heard of Christ, and of redemption by him (Rom_10:14).
7a3c. The universal scheme affords no encouragement to faith and hope in Christ: redemption, as it ascertains salvation to some, it encourages sensible sinners to hope in Christ for it; "Let Israel hope in the Lord, for with him is plenteous redemption" (Psa_130:7), a redemption full of salvation; and which secures that blessing to all that believe. But, according to the universal scheme, men may be redeemed by Christ, and yet not saved, but eternally perish: what hope of salvation can a man have upon such a scheme? it requires no great discernment, nor judgment of things, to determine, which is most eligible of the two schemes, that which makes the salvation of some certain; or that which leaves the salvation of all precarious and uncertain; which, though it asserts a redemption of all; yet it is possible none may be saved.
7a3d. Hence, even to those who are redeemed and saved, it lays no foundation for, nor does it furnish with any argument to engage to love Christ, to be thankful to him, and to praise him for the redemption of them; since the difference between them and others, is not owing to the efficacy of Christ’s death, but to their own wills and works; they are not beholden to Christ, who has done no more for them than for those that perish; they are not, from any such consideration, obliged to walk in love, as Christ has loved them, and given himself for them; since he has loved them no more, and given himself for them no otherwise, than for them that are lost; nor are they under obligation to be thankful to him, and bless his name, that he has redeemed their lives from destruction; since, notwithstanding his redemption of them, they might have been destroyed with an everlasting destruction; it is not owing to what Christ has done, but to what they have done themselves, performing the conditions of salvation required, that they are saved from destruction, if ever they are, according to this scheme: nor can they indeed sing the song of praise to the Lamb, for their redemption; saying, "Thou art worthy--for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by that blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation!" since, according to this scheme, Christ has redeemed every kindred, every tongue, every people, and every nation.
A Body of Doctrinal Divinity
Book 6—Chapter 4
Of those Texts of Scripture which seem to Favour Universal Redemption
There are several passages of scripture, which, at first sight, may seem to countenance the universal scheme; and which are usually brought in support of it; and which it will be necessary to take under consideration: and these may be divided into "three" classes,
Such in which the words "all", and "every" one, are used, when the death of Christ, and the benefits of it are spoken of.
Those in which the words "world", and the "whole world", occur, where the same subjects are treated of. And,
Those that seem to intimate, as if Christ died for some that may be destroyed and perish.
1. Such in which the words "all", and "every" one, are used; when the death of Christ, and the benefits of it, particularly redemption and salvation by him, are spoken of. As,
1a. The declaration of the angel, in Luk_2:10-11. "Behold, I bring good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people; for unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord". Let it be observed, that Christ is not here said to be the Saviour of all men; but to be born for the sake of some, that he might be the Saviour of them; "Unto You is born a Saviour"; to you the shepherds, who appear to be good men, waiting for the salvation of God, and the coming of their Saviour, and therefore praised and glorified God for what they heard and saw; the words fully agree with the prophetic language, in which the birth of Christ is signified, in Isa_9:6. "To us a Child is born": indeed, it is said, that the news of the birth of a Saviour, would be great joy "to all people", or "to all the people"; not to all the people of the world, many of whom never heard of it; nor to all the people of the Jews, who did hear of it; not to Herod the king, and to the Scribes and Pharisees, and to many, at least, of the inhabitants of Jerusalem; for when he and they heard the report the wise men from the East made, of the birth of the king of the Jews, "Herod was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him" (Mat_2:3), but to all the people of God and Christ; to the people Christ came to save, and does save; on whose account his name was called "Jesus, for he shall save HIS people from their sins"; the people given him in covenant, and for whose transgressions he was stricken, and for whose sins he made reconciliation (Mat_1:21; Isa_53:8; Heb_2:17), at most, the birth of Christ, as a Saviour, can only be matter of great joy to whom the tidings of it come; whereas, there are multitudes that come into the world, and go out of it, who never hear of the birth of Christ, and of salvation by him; and where the gospel, the good tidings of salvation by Christ, does come, it is only matter of great joy to them to whom it comes in power, and who are, by it, made sensible of their lost, perishing estate, of their want of a Saviour, and of the suitableness of salvation; such as the three thousand convinced and converted under Peter’s sermon; and the jailer and his household, who cried out, sirs, what must I do to be saved? To such, and to such only, the news of Christ as a Saviour, is matter of great joy.
1b. The account given of John’s ministry, and the end of it; "That all men, through him, might believe" (Joh_1:7), from whence it is concluded, that all men are bound to believe that Christ came to save them, and that he died for them; and if he did not die for them, then they are bound to believe a lie; and if condemned for not believing, they are condemned for not believing an untruth. But John’s ministry only reached to the Jews, among whom he came preaching; and the report he made of Christ they were bound to believe, was, not that he died for them; as yet he had not died; but that he was the Messiah: and their disbelief of this was their sin and condemnation: as it is the sin of the deists, and of all unbelievers, to whom the gospel revelation comes; and they give not credit to it; for such are bound to believe the report it makes, and give an assent to the truth of it; and which is no other than an historical faith, and which men may have and not be saved; and which the devils themselves have: so that men may be bound to believe, and yet not to the saving of their souls; or that Christ died for them. As is the revelation that is made to men, so they are under obligation to believe; if no revelation is made, no faith is required; "How shall they believe in him, of whom they have not heard?" The Indians who have never heard of Christ, are not bound to believe in him; nor will they be condemned for their unbelief; but for their sins against the light of nature, they have been guilty of; (see Rom_10:14; Rom_2:12). Where a revelation is made, and that is only external, and lies in the outward ministry of the word, declaring in general such and such things, concerning the person and office of Christ, men are obliged to give credit to them, upon the evidence they bring with them, and for their unbelief will be condemned; not because they did not believe that Christ died for them, to which they were not obliged; but because they did not believe him to be God, the Son of God, the Messiah, and the Saviour of men. Where the revelation is internal, "By the Spirit of wisdom, and revelation in the knowledge of Christ"; showing to men their lost estate, and need of a Saviour; acquainting them with Christ, as an able and willing Saviour; setting before them the fulness and suitableness of his salvation; such are, by the Spirit and grace of God, influenced and engaged to venture their souls on Christ, and to believe in him, to the saving of them; but then the first act of faith, even in such, is not to believe that Christ died for them; for it is the plerophory, the full assurance of faith to say, "He hath loved me, and given himself for me!" (Gal_2:20).
1c. The words of Christ in Joh_12:32. "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth will draw all men to me"; are expressive of the death of Christ, and of the manner of it, crucifixion; which would be the occasion of drawing a great number of persons together, as is usual at executions; and more especially would be and was at Christ’s, he being a remarkable and extraordinary person; some to deplore his case and bewail him, and others to mock at him and reproach him. Though rather this is to be understood of the great multitude of souls who should be gathered to Christ through the ministry of the word after his death, as the fruit and consequence of it; who should be "drawn" and influenced by the powerful and efficacious grace of God to come to Christ, and believe in him; in which sense the word "draw" is used by Christ in Joh_6:44 but this is not true of all and every individual person; for there were multitudes then, as now, who will have no will to come to Christ, and are never wrought upon by the grace of God, or drawn by it to come unto him and believe in him; and will be so far from being gathered to him, and into fellowship with him, that they will be bid to depart from him another day, with a "Go, ye cursed"; and in the words before the text, mention is made of the "judgment", or condemnation of the world, as being then come; as well as of the prince of it being cast out. But by all men, are meant some of all sorts, Jews and Gentiles, more especially the latter, that should be gathered to Christ after his death, through the gospel preached unto then; as was foretold, that when Shiloh, the Messiah, came, who now was come, "to him should the gathering of the people be"; that is, the Gentiles: and it may be observed, that at this time, when Christ spoke these words, there were certain Greeks that were come to the feast to worship, who were desirous of seeing Jesus; with which he was made acquainted by his disciples, and occasioned the discourse of which these words are a part; and in which our Lord suggests, that at present these Greeks could not be admitted to him, but the time was at hand when he should be "lifted up from the earth", or die; by which, like a grain of wheat falling into the ground and dying, he should bring forth much fruit; and should be lifted up also as an ensign in the ministry of the word, when the Gentiles in great numbers should flock and seek unto him.
1d. The passage of the apostle in Rom_5:18. "By the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life"; is undoubtedly meant of the righteousness of Christ, called the free gift, because it was freely wrought out by Christ, and is freely imputed without works; and faith, which receives it, is the gift of God; but then this does not come upon, or is imputed to, every individual son and daughter of Adam; for then they would be all justified by it, and entitled to eternal life through it; and would be glorified, for "whom he justified, them also he glorified": and being justified by the blood and righteousness of Christ, they would be secure from condemnation, and saved from wrath to come; but this is not true of everyone; there are some who are righteously "foreordained to condemnation"; yea, there is a "world" of ungodly men, a multitude of them, that will he "condemned" (Jud_1:4; 1Co_11:32). The design of the apostle in the text and context is to show, that as all men are sinners, and are originally so through the sin and offence of the first man Adam; so all that are righteous become righteous, or are justified, only through the righteousness of Christ imputed to them to their justification; and those who are justified by it, are described by the apostle in this epistle as the elect of God; "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? it is God that justifies"; as believers in Christ, on whom his righteousness comes, or is imputed to their justification; that is, "unto all, and upon all them that believe"; and such who receive that, receive also "abundance of grace" (Rom_8:33; Rom_3:22; Rom_5:17), all which cannot be said of every individual of mankind. But what will set this matter in a clear light is, that Adam and Christ, throughout the whole context, are to be considered as two covenant heads, having their respective seed and offspring under them; the one as conveying sin and death to all his natural seed, and the other as conveying grace, righteousness, and life to all his spiritual seed; now as through the offence of the first Adam judgment came upon all to condemnation, who descended from him by natural generation, and upon none else; as not upon the human nature of Christ, which did not so descend from him; nor upon the angels that sinned, who were condemned and punished for their own offences, and not his, being none of his offspring; so the free gift of Christ’s righteousness comes upon all to justification, and to none else, but those who are the spiritual seed of Christ; given to him as such in the covenant of grace in which he stands an head to them; and "in whom all the seed of Israel", the spiritual Israel of God, "are justified", and shall glory (Isa_45:24-25).
1e. The parallel place in 1Co_15:22. "As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive"; which is similar to the preceding in some respect, though not in everything; it is similar to it in that Adam and Christ are to be considered as representative heads of their respective offspring. Though these words have no respect at all to justification of life, nor to men being quickened together with Christ, nor to the quickening of them by the Spirit and grace of God; but of the resurrection of the dead, when men that have been dead will be made alive, or quickened; (see 1Co_15:36), and the design of them is to show, as in the preceding verse, that "as by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead"; as death came by the first Adam, the resurrection of the dead comes by the second Adam; as the first Adam was a federal head and representative of all that naturally descended from him, and they were considered in him, and sinned in him, and death passed upon all in him, and actually reigns over all his posterity in all generations; so Christ is a federal head and representative of all his spiritual seed, given to him in covenant, and who, though they die a corporal death, shall be made alive, or raised from the dead, by virtue of union to him; for of those only is the apostle speaking in the context, even of such of whom Christ is the first fruits, and who belong to him (1Co_15:23), for though all shah be made alive, or raised from the dead, by Christ, through his mighty power; yet only those that belong to him, as his seed and offspring, or the members of his body, shall be raised through union to him, and in the first place, and to everlasting life; others will be raised to shame and everlasting contempt, and to the resurrection of damnation.
1f. The text in 2Co_5:14-15 is sometimes brought as a proof of Christ’s dying for all men in an unlimited sense; "if one died for all, then were all dead": now let it be observed, that in the supposition "if one died for all", the word "men" is not used; it is not "all men", but all, and may be supplied from other scriptures, "all" his "people", whom Christ came to save; and "all the sheep", he laid down his life for; all the members of the "church" for whom he gave himself; "all the sons" whom he brings to glory: and the conclusion, "then were all dead", is not to be understood of their being dead "in" sin, which is no consequence of the death of Christ; but of their being dead to sin in virtue of it; and could it be understood in the first sense, it would only prove that all for whom Christ died are dead in sin, which is true of the elect of God as of others (Eph_2:1), but it would not prove that Christ died for all those that are dead in sin, which is the case of every man; but the latter sense is best, for to be dead to sin is the fruit and effect of Christ’s death; Christ bore the sins of his people on the cross, that they being "dead to sin, should live unto righteousness"; through the death of Christ they become dead to the damning power of sin; and to the law, as a cursing law; that they might serve the Lord in newness of spirit: this puts them into a capacity of living to him, and affords the strongest argument, drawn from his love in dying for them, to such purposes; to influence and engage them to live to his glory; (see Rom_6:2; Rom_6:6; Rom_7:4; Rom_7:6). And let it be further observed; that the same persons Christ died for, for them he rose again; now as Christ was delivered for the offences of men unto death, he was raised again for their justification; and if he rose for the justification of all men, then all would be justified; whereas they are not, as before observed.
1g. The words in 1Ti_2:4. "Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth". It is certain that all that are saved, it is the will of God they should be saved, and that by Christ, and by him only; "I will save them by the Lord their God"; salvation of whomsoever, is not of the will of men, but flows from the sovereign will and pleasure of God; and if it was the will of God that every individual of mankind should be saved, they would be saved; for "who hath resisted his will?" he works all things after the counsel of it; he does according to it in heaven and in earth; but as it is certain in fact that all are not saved, it is as certain that it is not the will of God that every man and woman should be saved; since there are some who are "foreordained to condemnation"; and if there are any he appoints to condemnation, it cannot be his will that the selfsame individuals should be saved; besides, there are some of whom it is clearly signified that it is his will they should be damned; as the man of sin and the son of perdition, Antichrist and his followers; to whom "God sends strong delusions, that they should believe a lie, that they might be damned" (2Th_2:11-12). Besides, those it is the will of God that they should be saved, it is his will that they should "come unto the knowledge of the truth"; both of Christ, who is the way, the truth, and the life, the true way to eternal life; through the faith of whom, as well as through sanctification of the Spirit, men are chosen unto salvation; and of the truth of the gospel; not a notional and superficial, but an experimental knowledge of it; now to all men it is not the will of God to give the means of knowledge, of Christ, and the truths of the gospel: for hundreds of years together God gave his word to Jacob, and his statutes unto Israel, a small people in one part of the world; and as for other nations, they knew them not; God winked at and overlooked the times of their ignorance, and sent not the gospel, the means of knowledge, unto them; and this is the case of many nations at this day; yea, where the gospel is sent and preached, it is the will of God to hide the truths of it from many, and even from those who have the most penetrating abilities; "even so, Father", says Christ, "for so it seemeth good in thy sight" (Mat_11:25-26), it was his will it should be so, and therefore it could not be his will they should be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth. It is best therefore to understand by "all", some of all sorts, as the word "all" must be understood in many places, particularly in Gen_7:14, and this sense agrees with the context, in which the apostle exhorts that prayers and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings, and for all in authority; not only for men of low degree, but for men of high degree also; for all sorts of men; this being agreeable to God, and acceptable in his sight; whose will it is that men of all sons should be saved, and know the truth. Though it is best of all to understand this of the Gentiles, some of whom God would have saved as well as of the Jews; and therefore had chosen some of both unto salvation; and had appointed his Son to be his salvation to the ends of the earth; and therefore had sent his gospel among them, declaring that whoever believed in Christ should be saved, whether Jew or Gentile; and had made it the power of God unto salvation to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile; and therefore it was proper that prayers and thanksgivings should be made for Gentiles in every class of life.
1h. Another passage in the same context, in which Christ is said to "give himself a ransom for all" (1Ti_2:6), or a ransom price, antilutron, in the room and stead of all; but this cannot be understood of all and every individual man; for then all would be ransomed, or else the ransom price must be paid in vain; but of many, as it is expressed by Christ (Mat_20:28), and particularly of the Gentiles, as before; the truth contained herein being what has been testified in the gospel, of which the apostle was ordained a preacher, a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity, when the Jews forbid him and other apostles to preach unto them; but as he opposed this prohibition of theirs, so another notion of theirs in the next verse, which confined public prayer to a certain place; all which show whom the apostle had in view throughout the whole context, and intended by the word "all".
1i. Another passage in the same epistle is sometimes brought in favour of the general scheme (1Ti_4:10), where God is said to be "the Saviour of all men"; but the passage is not to be understood of Christ, and of spiritual and eternal salvation by him; which it is certain all men do not share in; but of God the Father, and of temporal salvation by him; and of his preservation of all his creatures; who is the "preserver of men", supports and upholds them in being, and supplies them with the necessaries of life; and in a providential way is "good to all"; but his providence is extended in a special manner towards those that trust and believe in him; he takes a particular care of them, and makes particular provisions for them; these being his people, his portion, and the lot of his inheritance, like Israel of old, he surrounds them by his power, leads them about by his wisdom, and keeps them as tenderly as the apple of his eye.
1j. So the words of the apostle, in Tit_2:11-12. "For the grace of God, that bringeth salvation, hath appeared to all men": but it is not said, that this grace brings salvation to all men, but has appeared to all men; nor that it teaches all men to deny ungodliness, &c. but only us, to whom the gospel of the grace of God comes with power; for that is to be understood by it; not the grace and love of God, in his own heart, towards men; for this is not manifested to all men; but is a favour he bears to his own people: nor grace, as wrought in the heart by the Spirit of God for this is not vouchsafed unto all men; all men have not faith; and some are without hope and God in the world, and have no love to God and Christ, and to his people; but the gospel, which often goes by this name, because of the doctrines of grace contained in it; this had been like a candle lighted up in a small part of the world, in Judea; but now it was like the sun in its meridian glory, and appeared to Gentiles as well as Jews, being no longer confined to the latter; and where it came with power, as it did not to every individual, it produced the effects herein mentioned; from whence it appears, the apostle is speaking only of the external ministration of the gospel, and of the extent of that; and not of redemption and salvation by Christ; of which when he speaks, in a following verse, it is in a very different form; "Who gave himself for us", not for all, "that he might redeem us", not every man, "from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people", a special and distinct people, "zealous of good works".
1k. Likewise what the author of the epistle to the Hebrews says (Heb_2:9), "That he (Christ) by the grace of God, should taste death for every man"; but the word "man" is not in the text; it is only for "every one"; and is to be interpreted, and supplied, by the context, for everyone of the sons Christ brings to glory (Heb_2:10), for everyone of the brethren whom he sanctifies, and is not ashamed to own in that relation (Heb_2:11), and for every one of the members of the church, in the midst of which he sung praise, and for the whole of it (Heb_2:12), for everyone of the children given him by his Father, and for whose sake he became incarnate (Heb_2:13-14). Besides, the words may be rendered, "that he should taste of every death", of every kind of death, which it was proper he should, in bringing many sons to glory (Heb_2:10), and as he did; of the death of afflictions, of which he had waters of a full cup wrung out to him; of corporal death, being put to death in the flesh; and of spiritual and eternal death, or what had a semblance thereof, and was tantamount thereunto, when he was deprived of the divine presence, and had a sense of divine wrath; as both in the garden, when his soul was "exceeding sorrowful, even unto death"; and on the cross, when he said, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me!"
1l. One passage more, is in 2Pe_3:9. "God is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish; but that all should come to repentance". This cannot be understood of every individual of mankind; for certain it is, that God is willing that some should perish; "What if God willing", &c. (Rom_9:22). Nor is it true, that it is the will of God that all men should have repentance unto life; for then he would give it to them; for it is solely in his own gift; at least, he could give them the means of it, which he does not: the key to this text lies in the phrase, "toward us", to whom God is longsuffering; these design a society to which the apostle belonged, and not all mankind; and who are distinguished, in the context, from scoffers and mockers, that would be in the last days (1Pe_3:3-4), and are described by the character of beloved (1Pe_3:8), beloved of God and Christ, and of his people; for whose sake he waited, did not bring on the destruction of the world so soon as, according to his promise, it might be expected; but this was not owing to any dilatoriness in him; but to his longsuffering towards his beloved and chosen ones, being unwilling that any of them should perish; but that they should all come to, and partake of, repentance towards God, and faith in Christ; and when everyone of them are brought thereunto, he would delay the coming of Christ, and the destruction of the world, no longer; when the last man was called by grace, and converted, and become a true believer, and a real penitent; when the head, or last, stone was laid upon the top of the building, the church, and that edifice completed thereby, he would stay no longer, but come suddenly, as a thief in the night, and burn the world about the ears of the ungodly: this world is but like scaffolding to a building, which, when finished, the scaffolding is taken down and destroyed, and not before; the building is the church, for the sake of which this world was made; and when this edifice is finished, which will be when all the elect of God are called, and brought to repentance, then it will be destroyed; the earth, and all therein, will be burnt with fire; as in 1Pe_3:10.
2. A second class of scriptures, which may seem to favour, and are sometimes brought in support of the universal scheme, are such in which the words "world", and the "whole world", are used; when the death of Christ, and the benefits of it, are spoken of. As,
2a. The words of John the Baptist to his hearers, in Joh_1:29. "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!" which are to be understood, neither of original sin, which is common to the whole world; but is not taken away, with respect to all: nor of the actual transgressions of every person; which is not true in fact; and is only true of such whose sins are laid on Christ, and imputed to him; and which he bore, and the whole punishment of them; and so has taken them away, as to be seen no more; which cannot be said of the sins of all men (1Ti_5:24), they are the sins of "many", and not all, which have been made to meet on Christ, and he has bore them, and took them away (Isa_53:6; Isa_53:12).
2b. The words of Christ himself, in Joh_3:16. "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son", &c. But all the individuals in the world are not loved by God in such a manner; nor is Christ the special gift of God to them all; nor have all faith in him; nor can it be said of all, that they shall never perish, but have everlasting life; since many will go into everlasting punishment: but by the world, is meant the Gentiles; and Christ opposes a notion of the Jews, that they themselves only were the objects of God’s love, and that the Gentiles had no share in it, and would not enjoy any benefit by the Messiah when he came; but, says Christ, I tell you, God has so loved the world of the Gentiles, as to give his Son, that whosoever believes in him, be he of what nation soever, shall be saved with an everlasting salvation.
2c. The words of the Samaritans to the woman of Samaria, in Joh_4:42. "We know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world", of Gentiles as well as Jews; this they learnt from what Christ had made known of himself, and of his grace to them; for they were originally Gentiles, and were now reckoned by the Jews as heathens; (see also 1Jn_4:14.)
2d. The words of our Lord in his discourse about himself, as the bread which "giveth life unto the world"; and which "is his flesh he gave for the life of the world": now no more can be designed by the "world", than those who are quickened by this bread applied unto them, and received by them, and for the obtaining of eternal life; for whom the flesh, or human nature of Christ, was given, as a sacrifice for sin, whereby that is secured unto them: but this is not true of all men; since even the gospel, which exhibits the heavenly manna, and holds forth Christ, the bread of life, is to some "the savour of death unto death", while to others it is, "the savour of life unto life" (2Co_2:16).
2e. The words of the apostle, in 2Co_5:19. "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself": these are the same with the us, in the preceding verse, which were a special and distinct people; for it cannot be said of every man what follows, "not imputing their trespasses unto them"; which is a special blessing, that belongs to some; for though it comes upon both Jews and Gentiles, that believe, yet not upon all and every man (Rom_4:6-8), for some men’s sins will be charged upon them; and they will be punished for them, with an everlasting destruction; by various circumstances in the context it seems, that by the "world" the Gentiles are meant.
2f. The famous, and well known text, in this controversy, is 1Jn_2:2 where Christ is said to be, "the propitiation for the sins of the whole world". Now let it be observed, that these phrases, "all the world", and "the whole world", are often in scripture to be taken in a limited sense; as in Luk_2:1 "that all the world should be taxed"; it can mean no more than that part of the world the Roman empire, which was under the dominion of Caesar Augustus: and in Rom_1:8 it can only design the Christians throughout the world, not the heathens; and when the gospel is said to be "in all the world, and bring forth fruit" (Col_1:6), it can only intend true believers in Christ, in all places, in whom only it brings forth fruit; and when it is said, "all the world wondered after the beast" (Rev_13:3), at that same time, there were saints he made war with, because they would not worship him: and so in other places; and in this epistle of John, the phrase is used in a restrained sense (1Jn_5:19), where those that belong to God, are distinguished from the whole world, described by lying in wickedness, which they do not. And as John was a Jew, he spake in the language of the Jews, who frequently, in their writings, use the phrase ëåì× òìîà "the whole world", in a limited sense: sometimes it only signifies a large number of people; sometimes a majority of their doctors; sometimes a congregation; or a whole synagogue; and sometimes very few: and so here in the text under consideration, it cannot be understood of all men; only of those for whom Christ is an advocate (1Jn_5:1), whose advocacy is founded on his propitiatory sacrifice; now Christ is not an advocate, or does not make intercession for all men; for he himself says, "I pray not for the world": and Christ can be a propitiation for no more than he is an advocate; if he was a propitiation for all, he would surely be an advocate for all; and plead on their behalf his propitiatory sacrifice; but Christ was "set forth", or preordained, to be "a propitiation", not for all men; but for such only, who, "through faith in his blood", receive the benefit of it, and rejoice in it (Rom_3:25; Rom_5:11), moreover, in this epistle, the persons for whom Christ is a propitiation, are represented as a peculiar people, and the objects of God’s special love (1Jn_4:10), but what may be observed, and will lead more clearly into the sense of the passage before us, is, that the apostle John was a Jew, and wrote to Jews; and in the text speaks of them, and of the Gentiles, as to be distinguished; and therefore says of Christ, "he is" the propitiation "for our sins; and not for ours only", for the sins of us Jews only; "but for the sins of the whole world"; of the Gentiles also, of all the elect of God throughout the Gentile world: in which a notion of the Jews is opposed, that the Gentiles would receive no benefit by the Messiah, as has been observed, on Joh_3:16 and here the apostle takes up the sentiment of his Lord and Master, in whose bosom he lay, and expresses it. Nothing is more common in Jewish writings, than to call the Gentiles the world, the whole world, and the nations of the world; as they are by the apostle Paul, in distinction from the Jews (Rom_11:12; Rom_11:15).
3. Another class of scriptures, which may seem to favour the universal scheme, and are usually brought in support of it, are such which it is thought, intimate that Christ died for some that may be destroyed and perish.
3a. The first passage is in Rom_14:15. "Destroy not him with thy meat for whom Christ died": which can never design eternal destruction; for that cannot be thought to be neither in the will nor power of men; could it be supposed, that it was in the will of any, or that any were of such a malicious disposition, as to wish for, and seek the eternal damnation of another; which surely cannot be imagined among men professing religion; yet it could never be in their power; for none but God can destroy soul and body in hell (Mat_10:28), nor can one instance be produced, of any that were eventually destroyed for whom Christ died; nor can such destruction be brought about by eating meat, of indifferent use, that might, or might not be eaten, of which the apostle is speaking, neither through themselves nor others eating it: for that can never affect the eternal state of men, which makes a man neither better nor worse (1Co_8:8). But the passage is to be understood of the destruction of a weak brother’s peace and comfort, through the imprudent use of things indifferent, by a stronger brother; who thereby may be the occasion of offending and grieving his brother, and of his stumbling and falling, so as to wound and distress him, though not as to perish eternally; thus it is explained (Rom_14:13; Rom_14:21), and is to be taken in the same sense as the phrase in Rom_14:20 "for meat destroy not the work of God"; not saints, as the workmanship of God; for as that is not of man’s making, it is not of man’s marring; nor the work of grace, which being begun, will be perfected; nor the work of faith, which will be performed with power; but the work of peace in individual persons, and in the church of God.
3b. A similar passage, and to be understood in much the same manner, is in 1Co_8:12. "And through thy knowledge shall thy weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?" which intends, not the perishing of his immortal soul; or of his perishing eternally in hell; which can never be the case of any for whom Christ died; for then the death of Christ would be so far in vain; and not be a security from condemnation; contrary to Rom_8:33 nor be a full satisfaction to justice; or God must be unjust, to punish twice for the same offence: but it intends, the perishing of his peace and comfort for a time; and is explained by "defiling" and "wounding" his conscience, and making him to "offend", through the imprudent use of Christian liberty, in those who had stronger faith and greater knowledge (1Co_8:7; 1Co_8:12-13), of which they should be careful, from this consideration; that a weak brother is as near and dear to Christ, since he died for him, as a stronger brother is.
3c. Another passage urged for the same purpose, is in 2Pe_2:1 which speaks of false teachers that should be among the saints, who would bring in "damnable heresies, denying the Lord that bought them; and bring upon themselves swift destruction": from whence it is concluded, that such as are bought by Christ, may be destroyed; but Christ is not here spoken of, but God the Father; and of him the word despothV is always used, when applied to a divine Person, and not of Christ; nor is there anything in this text that obliges us to understand it of him; nor is there here anything said of Christ’s dying for any persons, in any sense whatever; nor of the redemption of any by his blood; and which is not intended by the word "bought": where Christ’s redemption is spoken of, the price is usually mentioned; or some circumstance or another, which plainly determines the sense; (see Act_20:28; 1Co_6:20; Eph_1:7; 1Pe_1:18-19; Rev_5:9; Rev_14:3-4). Besides, if such as Christ has bought with his blood, should be left so to deny him, as to bring upon themselves eternal destruction, Christ’s purchase would be in vain, and the ransom price be paid for nought; which can never be true. The "buying", spoken of in the text, respects temporal deliverance, particularly the redemption of Israel out of Egypt; who are therefore called, a "purchased" people (Exo_15:16), the phrase is borrowed from Deu_32:6 where, to aggravate the ingratitude of the people of Israel, it is said, "Is not he thy Father that hath bought thee?" And this is not the only place Peter refers to in this chapter; (see 1Pe_2:12-13 compared with Deu_32:5). Now the persons the apostle writes unto were Jews, scattered about in divers places; a people that in all ages valued themselves upon, and boasted of their being the Lord’s peculiar people, bought and purchased by him: wherefore the phrase is used here as by Moses, to aggravate the ingratitude and impiety of the false teachers among the Jews; that they should deny, in works at least, if not in words, that mighty Jehovah who had of old redeemed their fathers out of Egypt, and had distinguished them with peculiar favours.
Of these various passages of scripture, see more at large, in my "Cause of God and Truth", Part I and of the objections and answers to them, taken from reason, and the absurd consequences following the denial of universal redemption, as supposed; see the same Treatise, Part III.
From what has been observed concerning redemption, the nature and properties of it may be learnt. As,
1. That it is agreeable to all the perfections of God: it springs from his love, grace, and mercy, and glorifies them: it is planned and conducted by his infinite wisdom, which is illustriously displayed in it; and it is wrought out to declare his justice and honour; that all the perfections of God meet in it, mercy and truth, peace and righteousness: the glory of all his attributes is great, in the redemption and salvation of his people.
2. It is what a creature could never obtain; none but the Son of God: no man could have redeemed himself, or any other, nor given to God a ransom for either: a creature could never have redeemed himself, neither by power nor by price; not by power, he could not have loosed the fetters of sin, with which he was held; nor delivered himself out of the hands of Satan, the gaoler [jailer], stronger than he: nor by price; for the infinite justice of God being offended by sin, required an infinite satisfaction, an infinite price to be paid into its hands, for redemption and deliverance; and to which no price was adequate, but the precious blood of Christ.
3. The redemption obtained by Christ resides in him, as the subject of it, who is the author of it; "In him we have redemption, through his blood" (Eph_1:7), and the benefits of it are communicated from him by the Father, through his gracious imputation and application of it, and of them to his people (1Co_1:30).
4. It is special and particular; they are many, and not all that are ransomed and redeemed; they that are redeemed, are redeemed out of every kindred, tongue, people, and nation; they are the elect of God, and sheep of Christ; a peculiar people (Rev_5:9).
5. It is a plenteous one, full and complete (Psa_130:7), by it men are brought, not into a mere salvable state; but are actually, and to all intents and purposes, saved by it; God, through it, is not made merely reconcilable to them; but the redeemed are actually reconciled to God, through the death of his Son. Salvation is obtained for them, not conditionally, but absolutely; Christ came to seek and save what was lost; even the lost sheep of the house of Israel; and he has found them in redemption, and saved them. Redemption includes the several blessings of grace; as justification, pardon of sin, adoption, and eternal life; and secures all to the redeemed ones.
6. It is eternal (Heb_9:12), so called, in distinction from the typical and temporary expiation, by the blood of slain beasts, which could not take away sin; but there was an annual remembrance of them; but by the blood of Christ men are eternally redeemed from all iniquity: and in distinction from temporary redemption and salvation: as of the people of Israel out of Egypt and Babylon; which were types of this; and because it extends, as to ages past, and was a redemption of transgressions and of transgressors, that were under the first testament; so to ages to come; the benefits and blessings of which reach to the saints in all generations: the blessings of it are eternal; an everlasting righteousness for justification; pardon of sin is once and for ever; and once a child of God, always so, and the inheritance secured by it: redemption is eternal; and the redeemed ones shall be saved in the Lord, with an everlasting salvation; none of them shall ever perish, but have everlasting life.
Grace Bible Baptist Church
26080 Wax Road
Denham Springs, LA 70726