Frederick III:

Therefore, we believe and confess with our mouth as well as with our heart that all the sacraments of both the Old and the New Testaments have been ordained and instituted by God Himself, having as their purpose that all of them would point us to (as by a finger) and signify the bloody sacrifice of Christ, once performed upon the cross. It is thus beyond doubt that all the patriarchs and believers of the Old Testament have only been comforted in believing when they slew their lambs and other cattle, considering the seed of the woman (the Lord Jesus Christ) as being slain who would make full payment for the sins of the entire world. We thus view the holy sacraments as Sacrae rei Symbola ("symbols of sacred things") and invisibilis gratiae visibilia signa ("visible signs of invisible grace"); that is, they are visible signs or seals of holy things, namely, the grace of God in Christ, by which we are assured and confirmed that all of this is promised to us in His Word by God Himself and His holy prophets and apostles. We therefore believe and hold for certain that God the Lord purposed to be mindful of the foolishness of the human race, knowing how difficult it would be for the children of men to believe the naked Word of God and the pre1aching of the holy gospel. It has therefore pleased Him to place things before our eyes with which we interact daily, so that in so doing we would be all the more acquainted with this, and our faith would thereby be stirred up and strengthened and we be all the more prepared to believe the preached Word. All of this can be easily explained and understood by making a comparison with worldly things. Upon receiving a letter or document from an emperor, king, or other great lord, even though this has been signed by such a dignitary himself, we will not be satisfied with it unless a seal is attached. However, when a seal is attached to such a letter, we will be satisfied and we then may say that such an emperor, king, etc., is addressing me in what he has written.

Frederick, “The Confession of Frederick III” in, Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries in English Translation, ed., James T. Dennison, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Reformation Heritage Books, 2010), 3:446-447.

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Of the
Love of God

What is the Love of God?

It is an essential property in God, whereby he loves himself above all, and others for himself, 1 John 4:16; Rom. 5:8; John 3:16; Titus 3:4; Mal. 1:2, 3.

What learn you from hence?

That we should love him dearly, and other things for him.

That we may the better know what the love of God is, declare first, what love is in our selves?

It is a passion of the mind, whereby we are so affected towards the party whom we love, that we are rather his than our own, forgetting ourselves to do him good whom we so love.

And is love such a thing in God?

No: the true love of God is not such as our love is.

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There are three sorts of love, any of which may be desired from God as a blessing; namely, a love of, 1. God to man. 2. Man to God. 3. Man to man, himself, or others. Since the apostle had desired that these Christians might receive mercy from God, and that every particular believer might have peace in himself, I conceive that he seems now in the last place to pray, that they might again both return love to God, and render it also to one another.

1. There is a love of God to man, though without passion, sympathy, or any imperfection or weakness; these being attributed to him only to relieve the weakness either of our faith or apprehensions. And this love is,

(I.) Considered as a love of desire; as love desires to be carried to the union of the thing beloved. This desire of union with man God shows many ways; as, I. By being near unto, nay, present with him, by his universal care and providence; he being "not far from every one of us: for in him we live," &c., Acts xvii. 27, 28. 2. By assuming the nature of man into a personal conjunction with himself in the Mediator, Christ. 3. By conversing with man by signs of his presence, extraordinary visions, dreams, oracles, inspiration; and ordinarily by his holy ordinances, wherewith his people, as it were, abide with him in his house. 4. By sending his Holy Spirit to dwell in man, and bestowing upon man the Divine nature. 5. By taking man into an eternal habitation in heaven, where he shall be ever in his glorious presence, Psal. xvi. 11.

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The counsels of God called ‘conditional’, that is, by which he has ordained to do something on the condition that his creatures execute such and such a commandment, are so determined that the outcome of them depends upon the execution or non-execution of the given condition. Such is the one by which he ordained to render the happiness of the first man perpetual, this is, if he continued to persevere in his integrity. So also was that decree by which he concluded to give the people of Israel a perfectly happy life in the land of Canaan, that is, if they observed completely the law that he had given. Moreover, in a similar fashion he has ordained to save all men by our Lord Jesus, that is, if they do not demonstrate themselves to be unworthy through unbelief. Therefore in these kind of counsels, the certainty of the execution of the condition determines necessarily the certainty of the fulfillment of the counsels themselves. And in the same way the knowledge which one might have of the certainty of the one depends upon his knowledge of the other. Because God, as we have said above, knew certainly the faculties of man and knew exactly to what extent they would resist temptation to evil, he also knew certainly that man would fall from his integrity and that consequently the condition of his perpetual blessing would not be fulfilled. The corruption of sin having then expanded over the whole human race and the law requiring a perfect sanctity, he saw also that it was impossible that. Israel could fulfill the law and impossible therefore that his counsel touching the happiness of Canaan succeed. And this corruption having already so spread in man that it has infected of all his faculties to the very bottom and has rendered him totally unable to believe in the Redeemer unless God himself forms faith in his heart, God foreknows certainly and undoubtedly who will be saved because he has resolved to provide for them to believe, and who will not believe because he has ordained not to undertake in the same way for them. Thus, with respect to God, the knowledge of the outcome is clear and infallible.

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B. H. Carroll (1843-1914) on the Death of Christ

   Posted by: CalvinandCalvinism   in For Whom did Christ Die?


Before taking up this part of the exposition I will answer a question arising from the discussion in the previous chapter, viz.: "Did Christ expiate the sins of all men, or the sins of the elect only, and does not universal expiation demand universal salvation?" This question belongs to the department of systematic theology. Without desire to intrude into that department, yet as biblical theology cannot be altogether separated from the teaching of the English Bible, I submit a reply for the benefit of those who may never study systematic theology. It is every way a difficult question, and calls out in its answer all the theories of the atonement advocated in the Christian ages. In general terms it is the old questionis the atonement general or limited? Perhaps no man has ever given a precise answer satisfactory to his own mind even, and it is certain no one has ever satisfied all others.

It must be sufficient for present purposes to deal with the question briefly, relegating to systematic theology the critical and extended reply derived from a comparison of all the prominent theories of the atonement in the light of the Scriptures. The following passages of Scripture doubtless suggest the question: Hebrews 2:9, "Jesus hath been made a little lower than the angels . . . that by the grace of God he should taste death for every man." There must be some real sense, some gracious sense, in which he tasted death for every man. 1 Timothy 4:9-10: "Faithful is the saying and worthy of all acceptation. For to this end we labor and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of them that believe." Here again it is evident that God in some real sense is the Saviour of all men, but not in the special sense in which he is the Saviour of believers. A more pertinent passage is 1 John 2:2, "And he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the whole world."

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