« PredošláPokračovať »
surd consequences attending it, not consistent with the divine perfections ; as,
1. It would give occasion for Christ to be called the Saviour of those who shall not be eventually saved by him, the Redeemer of many, who are held in chains by the justice of God, and receive no saving benefit by his redemption, or for him to be said to express the highest instance of love, in dying for those who shall for ever be the objects of his hatred, which implies a contradiction; and what is this but to say, that he delivers those from the wrath to come, 1 Thess. i. 10. who are, and shall be for ever, children of wrath ? therefore we must either assert universal salvation, or deny universal redemption.
2. It will also follow from hence, that he satisfied the justice of God for all the sins of all men ; for to lay down a price of redemption, is to discharge the whole debt, otherwise it would be to no purpose. Now, if he satisfied for all the sins of every man, he did this that no sin should be their ruin, and consequently he died to take away the guilt of final impenitency in those who shall perish; and therefore they have, by virtue hereof, a right to salvation, which they shall not obtain : it follows then, that since he did not die for all the sins of all men, he did not, by his death, redeem all inen.
3. If Christ died for all men, he intended hereby their salvation, or that they should live: but it is certain he did not intend the salvation of all men; for then his design must be frustrated with respect to a part of them, for whom he died, which contains a reflection on his wisdom, as not adapting the means to the end. Moreover, this supposes that Christ's attaining the end he designed by his death, depends on the will of man, and consequently it subjects him to disappointment, and renders God's eternal purpose dependent on man's conduct.
4. Since God designed, by the death of Christ, to bring to himself a reyenue of glory, in proportion to the infinite value thereof, and Christ, our great Mediator, was, as the prophet saith, to have a portion with the great, and to divide the spoil with the strong, as the consequence of his pouring out his soul unto death, Isa. liii. 12. it follows from thence, that if all are not saved, for whom Christ died, then the Father and the Son would lose that glory which they designed to attain hereby, as the work would be left incomplete ; and a great part of mankind cannot take occasion from Christ's redeeming them, to adore and magnify that grace, which is displayed therein, since it is not eventually conducive to their salvation.
Having endeavoured to prove the doctrine of particular redemption; we shall now consider the arguments generally brought by those who defend the contrary scheme, who suppose, that God designed, as the consequence of Christ's death,
to save all mankind, upon condition of their repenting and be. lieving, according to the tenor of the gospel-covenant, which is substituted in the room of that which was violated by man's apostacy from God, whereby sincere obedience comes in the room of that perfect obedience, which was the condition of the first covenant. This they call man’s being brought into a salvable state by Christ's death; so that Christ rendered salvation possible; whereas faith, repentance, and sincere obedience, render it certain. And, so far as this concerns the design of God, in sending Christ to redeem the world, they suppose that God determined hereby to put man into such a state, that all may be saved, if they will.
And, as to what concerns the event, to wit, man's complying with the condition, they that defend universal redemption are divided in their sentiments about it; some supposing that Christ purchased faith and repentance for a certain number of mankind, namely, those who shall repent and believe, and pursuant thereunto, will work those graces in them ; whereas others, who had not these graces purchased for them, shall perish, though Christ has redeemed them. These suppose, that redemption is both universal and particular, in different respects; universal, in that all who sit under the sound of the gospel, have a conditional grant of grace contained therein, whereby they are put into a salvable state, or possibility of attaining salvation; and particular, with respect to those who shall repent and believe, and so attain salvation; in which sense they apply that scripture, in which God is said to be the Saviour of all men, especially of those that believe, 1 Tim. iv. 10. This some call a middle way, between the Pelagian and Calvinistic methods of reasoning about this subject; but it appears to be inconsistent with itself, inasmuch as they, who give into this hypothesis, are forced soinetimes to decline what they have been contending for on one side, when pressed with some arguments brought in defence of the other; therefore we shall pass this over, and consider the self-consistent scheme, in which universal redemption is maintained.
The sum of all their arguments, who defend it in the Pelagian way, announts to this, viz. that Christ died not to purchase salvation absolutely for any, but to make way for God's entering into a new or gospel covenant with men, in which salvation is promised, on condition of faith, repentance, and sincere obedience, which they suppose to be in the power of those who have the gospel. And, that the heathen may not be excluded, . though it cannot be styled a gospel-covenant to them, there are abatements made, as to what concerns faith, founded on divine revelation, and the only condition that entitles them to salvation
is their yielding sincere obedience to the law of nature, in proportion to their light.
They farther add, that this gospel-covenant must be conditional, otherwise it could not be called a covenant, as wanting an essential ingredient contained in every covenant; and these conditions must be in our own power, otherwise the overture of salvation, depending on the performance thereof, would be illusory; and it could not be called a covenant of grace,
inasmuch as there can be no grace, or favour, in promising a blessing upon impossible conditions ; neither could this gospel-covenant be styled a better covenant than that which God entered into with our first parents, in which the conditions were in their own power; nor could it be an expedient to repair the ruins of the fall, or bring man, in any sense, into a salvable state. So that, according to this representation of the doctrine of particular redemption, there are not only many absurd consequences attending it, which detract from the glory of the gospel, but it is contrary to the holiness, wisdom, justice, and goodness of God, and so derogates as much from the divine perfections, as any thing that is argued in defence of universal redemption can be pretended to do. And, to sum up the whole argument, there is an appeal to scripture, as that which gives countenance to it in a multitude of instances. This is the substance of all that is said in defence of this doctrine; and, in opposition to it, we shall take leave to observe,
(1.) That it is taken for granted, but not sufficiently proved, that Christ died to purchase the covenant of grace; whereas, if the difference between the covenant of redemption, and the covenant of grace, be only circumstantial, as has been before observed, * then the death of Christ is included among the conditions of this covenant; and if so, the covenant itself could not be the purchase thereof : but, if by Christ's purchasing the covenant of grace, they only meant his purchasing the graces given in the covenant, we are far from denying it, though they generally do. That therefore which we are principally to oppose, is their sense of the conditionality of the covenant of grace, and its being essential to a covenant to be conditional, namely, to depend on uncertain conditions, in our power to perform, it being as they suppose, left to the freedom of our own will to comply with or reject them, and thereby to establish or disannul this covenant: but having elsewhere proved that the word covenant is often used in scripture, without the idea of a condition annexed to it, and also considered in what respects those ideas, contained in a conditional covenant between man and man, are to be excluded, when we speak of a
* See Page 178, 179, ante.
† See Page 169, 170, ante.
covenant between God and man ; * and having also, in maintaining the doctrine of election, endeavoured to defend the absoluteness of God's will, and shewed in what sense we are to understand those scriptures that are laid down in a conditional form, † which may, with a little variation, be applied to our present argument; we shall, to avoid the repetition of things before insisted on, add nothing farther in answer to this part of the argument, we are now considering, but only that it implies God to be, in many respects, like ourselves, and supposes that it is in our power to frustrate, and render the death of Christ, which was the highest display of divine grace, ineffectual, and so prevent his having that glory, which he designed to bring to his own name thereby.
(2.) As to what is farther argued, concerning the covenant of grace being a better covenant than that which God made with man in innocency, and therefore that the conditions thereof must be in our own power, otherwise God, by insisting on the performance of what is impossible, subverts the design of the gospel, and the covenant hereupon ceases to be a covenant of grace; it may be replied that though we freely own that the covenant of grace is, in many respects, better than that which God entered into with man in innocency, and that it would not be so were it impossible for those, who are concerned therein, to attain the blessings promised to the heirs of salvation ; yet we cannot allow that it must necessarily be conditional, in the sense in which some understand the word, much less that the conditions thereof are in our own power, or else the design of the gospel must be concluded to be subverted.
Therefore we may take leave to observe, that when God is said to require faith, and all other graces in this covenant-dispensation, and has connected them with salvation, this does not overthrow the grace of the covenant, but rather establish it; for grace and salvation are not only purchased for, but promised and secured to all who are redeemed, by the faithfulness of God, and the intercession of Christ and shall certainly be applied to them; and whereas, the graces of the Spirit are not in our own power, this is so far from overthrowing the design of the gospel, that it tends to advance the glory thereof, as God hereby takes occasion to set forth the exceeding riches of his grace, in making his people meet for, and bringing them, at last, to glory. And, though it be not possible for all to attain salvation, this should be no discouragement to any one to attend on those means of grace, under which we are to hope for the saving effects of Christ's death, whereby we may conclude that eternal life is purchased for us, and we shall at last be brought to it.
• See Page 190, antes # Sce Vol. I. Page 477, 480.
(3.) As to what is farther alleged, concerning the covenant of grace, as designed to repair the ruins of the fall, or God's intending hereby to bring man into a salvable state; we are never told, in scripture, that what was lost by our first apostasy from God, is to be compensated by the extent of grace and salvation to all mankind; and it is not the design of the gospel to discover this to the world, but that the exceeding riches of divine grace should be made known to the vessels of mercy, before prepared unto glory, Rom. ix. 23. This is, as some express it, the plank that remains after the ship-wreck,* or the great foundation of our hope, and possibility of escaping everlasting destruction; and it is a much better ground of security, than to lay the whole stress of our salvation on the best improvements
corrupt nature, or those endeavours which we are to use, to improve the liberty of our will, in order to our escaping ruin, without dependance on the divine assistance; which is the method that they take to attain salvation, who thus defend the doctrine of universal redemption.
(4.) As for our being brought into a salvable state by the death of Christ; the gospel no where gives all mankind ground to expect salvation, but only those who have the marks and characters of Christ's redeemed ones; and these are not brought by his death unto a mere possibility of attaining it, but the scripture represents them as having the earnest, or first-fruits thereof, and speaks of Christ in them, as the hope of glory, Eph. i. 14. Rom. viii. 23. They are also said to be reconciled to God by the death of his Son, chap. v. 10. which is more than their having a bare possibility of salvation, as the result and consequence thereof.
(5.) That which is next to be considered, is, what concerns the doctrine of particular redemption, as being derogatory to the divine perfections, together with many absurd consequences, which are supposed to attend it. It is very common, in all methods of reasoning, and particularly in defending or opposing the doctrine of universal redemption, for persons to endeavour to make it appear, that the contrary scheme of doctrine is chargeable with absurdities; and, as we have taken the same method in opposing universal redemption, it may reasonably be expected, that the doctrine of particular redemption should have many absurd consequences charged upon it; to which we shall endeavour to reply, that thereby it may be discerned whether the charge be just or no. And,
1. The doctrine of particular redemption is supposed to be inconsistent with the goodness of God, as it renders salvation impossible to the greatest part of mankind, and their state irre.
* Tabula post naufragium.