Obj. It is said, Christ died for all; “‘he is the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world,” John i. 29., how doth this consist with God’s truth, when some are vessels of wrath, Rom. ix. 22.”

Ans. 1. We must distinguish of world. The word is taken either in a limited sense, for the world of the elect; or in a larger sense, for both elect and reprobates. “Christ takes away the sins of the world,” that is, the world of the elect.

A. 2. We must distinguish of Christ’s dying for the world. Christ died sufficiently for all, not effectually. There is the value of Christ’s blood, and the virtue; Christ’s blood hath value enough to redeem the whole world, but the virtue of it is applied only to such as believe. Christ’s blood is meritorious for all, not efficacious. All are not saved, because some put away salvation from them, Acts xiii. 46., and vilify Christ’s blood, counting it an unholy thing, Heb. x. 29.

Thomas Watson, “A Body of Practical Divinity,” in The Select Works of Thomas Watson (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1855), 71-72. [Some reformatting.]

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Censure: Christ is the expiation for the sins of the whole world as far as it pertains to the worth and sufficient price (lutron). But by reason of the efficiency and the giving of faith by him, adjoining the gratuitous election of God, he is the savior only of the elect. Jn. 10.15. Other [places] in Scripture Christ is said to have died for all (1 Tim. 2.6; Heb 2.9); and for many, viz. the elect, for the sons of God and for believers. Matt. 20.28; John 17.9, 19; Rom 3.22; which containing an apparent contradiction to be removed, it ought to be represented that Christ is said to have died for all in three ways: First, he has effectually died for all his sheep. Jn. 10.15. And in these all and alone is there a certain special universality as it is in the writings of Ambrose book 1 De Vocatione Gentium chapter 3. The apostle expresses this universality of believers (Rom. 3.22). Second, in certain places of Scripture by means of the expression “all” a universal and indeterminate object of the death of Christ is understood: Which are all men without exception of a nation, condition, and sex. So that, therefore, by this phrase the extent of grace in the New Testament is indicated. Finally, Christ is said to die for all men if the sufficiency or magnitude of the price is considered. Of course, the death of the Son of God and spotless lamb is an unparalleled, perfect, and sufficient price, sufficient for all the sins of the whole world to be expiated and erased: by which all reprobates are sufficiently rendered inexcusable.

Johann Heinrich Alsted, Theologia Polemica: Exhibens Praecipuas Huius Aevi In Religionis Negotio Controversias Septem in Partes Tributa (Hanau: Conrad Eifrid, 1620), 619.

[Credit to Michael Lynch for the translation.]

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The Scriptures, therefore, in the most explicit terms teach that the external call of the gospel is addressed to all men. The command of Christ to his Church was to preach the gospel to every creature. Not to irrational creatures, and not to fallen angels these two classes are excluded by the nature and design of the gospel. Further than this there is no limitation, so far as the present state of existence is concerned. We are commanded to make the offer of salvation through Jesus to every human being on the face of the earth. We have no right to exclude any man; and no man has any right to exclude himself. God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Hun might not perish but have everlasting life. The prediction and promise in Joel ii. 32, “Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered,” is repeatedly renewed in the New Testament, as in Acts ii. 21; Romans x. 13. David says (Psalm lxxxvi. 5), “Thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.” The prophet Isaiah lv. 1, gives the same general invitation: “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money, and without price.” Our Lord’s call is equally unrestricted, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. xi. 28.) And the sacred canon closes with the same gracious words, “The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst, come: and whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” (Rev. xxii. 17.) The Apostles, therefore, when they went forth in the execution of the commission which they had received, preached the gospel to every class of men, and assured every man whom they addressed, that if he would repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ he should be saved. If, therefore, any one holds any view of the decrees of God, or of the satisfaction of Christ, or of any other Scriptural doctrine, which hampers him in making this general offer of the gospel, he may be sure that his views or his logical processes are wrong. The Apostles were not thus hampered, and we act under the commission given to them.

Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, 2:642-643.

[Credit to Eugene Norton for the find.]


2. About proving Christianity by Argument; of which I have heard from none since I published my papers against Infidelity. 3. About the universality of redemption: and 4. About the controversies of this book.

For the former of these last I find a reverend learned man endeavoring to load me with some note of singularity, I mean Dr Ludovicius Molinæus, in his Preface to his Parænesis ad ædificatores Imperii in Imperio (a book that has much learning, and more truth than is fairly used, the face of it being written to frown upon them that own it, and parties wronged even where truth is defended, though through the unhappiness of the distinctions oft clouded when it seems to explicated, and through–I know not what, the controversy seldom truly stated). This learned man has thought it meet, for the disgracing of Amyraldus, by the smallness of his success to mention me thus, as his only proselyte in England [Forsan eo consilio Amyraldus cudit suam Methodum, ut Lutherans subpalparet, & gratiam apud eos iniret, sperans per eam Lutheranos reconciliatum iri Calvinistis: sed revera dum falsam studet iniri gratiam, nulli parti eo nomine gratus est, nec ulla parte ha ret apud lutheranos, ut censet Calovius Clarissimus Wittenergæ Theologus; nec devincit sibi Anglos aut Belgas: In Belgio enim nulli nisi Arminiano; in Anglia uni Baxtero, apprime placet ejus Methodus] And three leaves later, [Sed in solatium Dallæo, ut Amyraldus Baxterum Anglum, sic Dallæus Woodbridgium itidem Anglum, peperit proselytam & admiratorem.] It is an ungrateful task to answer a writer, whose error is a multiplication of palpable untruths in matter of fact; for they are usually more unwillingly heard of than committed. But I shall lay these following considerations in the way of this learned man, where is conscience may find them.

1, If in England Amyraldus’ Method do please uni Baxtero, and yet Dallæus have proselyted Woodbridg also and Amryaldus and DallæusMethod be the same, Quær. Whether Baxter and Woodbridge are not the same man?

2. Qu. Whether this learned man know the judgment of all England?

3. I meet with so many of Amyraldus’ mind in the point of universal redemption, that if I might judge of all the rest by those of my acquaintance, I should conjecture that half of the divines in England are of that opinion.

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Touching sin, God has no positive will, but only in regard of former sins a privation of his grace. To be short: God does harden, as Saint Augustine says: Non malum obtrudendo, sed gratiam non conscendo, not by causing us to commit sin, but by not granting unto us his grace. I, but how comes it to pass, that we as well as others, are not partakers of God’s grace? why have we not also his good Spirit to direct and guide us? Saint Augustine makes it plain again, Non ideo non habet homo Deus non dat, sed quia homo non acipit: men become hardened, and want the spirit of grace, why? Not because God does not offer it unto them, but because they receive it not, when it is offered. For example: One of us being sick and like to die, the physician knowing our case, he takes with him some preservative to comfort us, and comes to the door and knocks; if we will not or be not able to let him in, we perish and dye, and the cause is not in the physician, but in ourselves that let him not in, amartema nosema. Sin is a disease, whereof we are all sick, for we have all sinned: Romans 6:12. verse. Christ is the Physician of our souls: Venit de cœlo magnus medicus, quia per totum ubique iacebit agrotus. Christ the great Physician came down from heaven, because all mankind was generally infected. He comes to the door of our hearts ad knocks, Reve. 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.” He brings with him arton tes zoes, the bread of life [John 6:35.], his eternal word to comfort us, if we let him in, if we open the door of our hearts, he will come in and sup with us, as he did with Mary [Luke 10.], and forgive us all our sins; but if we will not, or through long contagion of our sin be not able to let Christ in, we die in our sins and the case is evident, not because Christ does not offer grace, and comfort unto us, but because we receive it not, when it is offered, Merito perit agrotus qui non medicum vocat, sed ultre venientem respuit, worthily does that sick patient perish, who will neither send for the physician himself, nor accept of his help when it is offered.

More plainly thus, in the 14. Of Saint Matthew. Our Saviour walking on the sea, he bid Saint Peter come unto him, who walking on the water, seeing storm and tempest arise, his heart fainted, and he began to sink: upon his cry unto our Saviour, he presently stretched forth his hand, took him into the ship, and saved him. This world (we know by daily experience) it is a sea of trouble and misery: our Saviour (as he said to Saint Peter) so most lovingly he wills everyone of us to come unto him: as we walk, storms and tempests do arise, through frailty of our flesh, and the weakness of our faith, we begin to sink, our Saviour he stretches forth his hand, he gives us organon organōm his Word and Sacraments, the good motions of his Spirit, to save us from sinking, and to keep us in the ship of his Church: if we refuse these means, we perish, we sink in our sins, why? not because Christ does not most kindly put forth his hand unto us, but because in want and distress we lay not hold upon him, “This is condemnation, that light is come into the world, men refuse it, and love darkness more than light,” [John 3:19.]. Our blessed Saviour with great loving kindness he does invite all men to his great supper, if we make excuses, or willfully refuse to come, he may justly pronounce, “none of those that were bidden shall ever taste of my supper.”

Anthony Maxey, The Goulden Chaine of Mans Salvation (London: Printed by T.E. for Clement Knight, dwelling in Paules Church-yard, at the signe of the holy Lambe, 1607), 72-75 [Pages numbered manually.] [Some spelling modernized; italics original; Greek transliterated; marginal references cited inline; and underlinning mine.]