Now because the Scriptures speaking of redemption, purchased by Christ’s death, do sometimes express it in most large terms, as 1 Tim. 2:6, “Christ Jesus gave himself a ransom for all;” and so Heb. 2:9, that, “He by the grace of God should taste death for every man”: Here is “all” and “every many”; and that place 1 John 2:2, “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole world.” Sometimes again, the Scripture speaks of redemption in a more limited manner, as that Christ laid down his life “for is friends,” John 15:13, for his his sheep, John 10:15, for his Church, Eph. 5:25, “Christ loved the Church, and gave himself for it,” &c.
Now that you have may have your senses exercised to discern good and evil, truth and error in this point, you must distinguish between the sufficiency and efficiency of Christ’s death; we do say, that Christ died sufficiently for all, but not effectually for all, for that would be an absurd manner of speech. But thus we say, that the death of Christ is that one only, and perfect sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for sins, in which God is well pleased with man, and by which God intended to save all that come unto him, and it is in itself of infinite value and price, abundantly sufficient to take away the sins of the whole world. And if any perish, It is not through the weakness and insufficiency of that sacrifice, but through their own unbelief, by man’s own default it proves ineffectual unto the salvation of man. This common sovereign medicine of souls made of Christ’s blood, must be embraced and applied, else it avails not. It is effectual only to them that believe.
According to the first branch of this distinction, we teach that redemption by Christ’s death, is universal in three respects.
First, for the price and merit of it: In Christ’s sacrifice there is merit enough for all the sins that ever were, or shall be committed, yea, if there were ten thousand worlds to be redeemed, they needed no other price, no other satisfaction to please God, God is fully contented with this one of his Son. For it being the death of the eternal Son of God, it is of infinite value above all the souls, and above all the sins of the sons of men, it is an universal remedy.
Secondly, it is general and universal for the promise and offer of it, upon the all-sufficient, and merit of Christ’s death is grounded a universal promise of salvation, according to which all that believe I him do actually receive remission of sins, and life everlasting [Rom. 3:25.]. The promise of life in Christ’s death is universal to all men. The gospel is to be preached to every creature, so that there is no man living that may not lay hold on that offer, no man is forbidden to come in, and take of the water of life freely, that has a mind to it. Rev. 22:17, “Whosoever will, let him come and drink of the water of life freely.” You cannot wish a larger promise, nor an easier condition, “whosoever will let him come.” There is none excluded, but such as will not come in, nor acknowledge him, nor deny themselves, and their own righteousness, their carnal reason and sweet contentments for his sake. Why then do men cavil at the doctrine of redemption, as if it were not large enough? It is too straight and narrow to take in Episcopius, or Corvinus, or any of the Arminian subscribers? No. Do they know any man in the world, to whom the offer of salvation may not be freely and truly made? No, not one (the finally impenitent, and wilful condemners of Christ only excepted). Whose cause then do they so hotly plead? Let every one that is athirst, come, let everyone that is grieved with sin, come. Let everyone that longs for salvation, come, and she shall find rest to his soul. He shall find Christ to be his God and his mighty redeemer. He shall feel the virtue and efficacy of Christ’s death.
Thirdly, redemption is general or universal, in respect of the means, sincerely calling all men unto fellowship with Christ, and of God’s grace in him (namely) the Word and sacraments [Acts 17:30, 1 Tim. 2:4.]. The manner of administration of this grace in the death of Christ is universal and complete, so that if there were a thousand worlds more to be saved, they needed no other gospel, no other sacraments, no other means to convert them, no new law to make them partakers of remission of sins by the death of Christ. And these are seen and known of all men, easy to be understood, preached, and published, not in a corner, but on the housetop, to all nations, “there sound is gone forth into all lands.” Our commission is, “Go into all the world, preach the gospel to every creature,” Mar. 16:16. “It is the power of God to salvation, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile,” Rom. 1:16. And it is also real and sincere, for in the gospel there is nothing false or dissembled: Whatsoever is offered or promised to men, the same shall be made good to them b God the author of the gospel. We offer salvation to all that will receive it, and it is sealed unto them that by the sacraments, and it shall be made good unto them that receive it in truth. We do not promise mercy and life to any that continue in their sins, that stand off from Christ, but to as many as receive him, they shall the sons of God. And our word is true, it shall be made good unto you. The Lord says not in vain to any man, “Come unto me and I will ease you,” yea, so full and sufficient is this calling and preaching of life by the gospel, that they which hear it, and obey it not, are Autokatakritos, self-condemned, they must condemn themselves for their own obstinacy and contempt. If they be not converted by he means, they will be forced to confess, “Thou Lord would have healed and gathered us, but we would not.”
William Lyford, The Plain Mans Senses Exercised (London: Printed for Richard Royton at the Angel in Ivie-lane, 1655), 259-262. [Some spelling modernized; some reformatting; marginal headers and references cited inline; and underlining mine.]
Credit to Tony for the find.
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