Archive for the ‘The Work of the Trinity in the Redemption of Man’ Category


This scripture not only teaches us the knowledge of salvation, but also comforts us against all the assaults, subtleties, and crafts of the devil–that God would of his inestimable love rather suffer his only Son to die for the world, than all the world should perish. Remaining always, as he was, very God immortal, he received the thing he was not, the mortal nature and true flesh of man, in which he died, as Peter saith, I Pet. iv. Irenaeus hath these godly words: “Christ was crucified and died, the Word submitting to be crucified and die.” The divine nature of Christ was not rent, or torn, or killed, but it obeyed the will of the Father. It gave place unto the displeasure and wrath of God, that the body of Christ might die. Being always equal with his Father, he could, if he had executed his divine power, have delivered his body from the tyranny of the Jews.

These words of Irenaeus wonderfully declare unto us what Christ is, and agree with Paul, (Phil, ii.) “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon himself the form of a servant.” Seeing he was sent into the world to suffer this most cruel death and passion, he would do nothing that should be contrary to his vocation, but, with patience praying for his enemies, submitted himself unto the ignominy and contempt of the cross; suffering pains innumerable, without grudge or murmur against the holy will of his Father: his Godhead hiding itself, until the third day, when it restored the soul again unto the body, and caused it to rise with great triumph and glory, (Rom. i. Mat. xxviii. John xx. Luke xxiv. Mark xvi.) repeating the doctrine, which before his death he preached unto the world, that he was both king and lord, high bishop and priest, both of heaven and of earth. “All power is given unto me both in heaven and in earth: go, therefore, teach all nations” (Matt, xxviii.).

John Hooper, “A Declaration of Christ and his Office,” in Writings of Dr. John Hooper (London: The Religious Tract Society, [1800s]), 19. [Some spelling modernized and underlining mine.]


And now, the world standing in this damnable state, comes in the occasion of the incarnation of Christ. The Father in heaven, perceiving the frail nature of man, that he, by himself and of himself, could do nothing for himself, by his prudent wisdom sent down the second person in Trinity, his Son Jesus Christ, to declare unto man his pleasure and commandment: and so, at the Father’s will, Christ took on him human nature, being willing to deliver man out of this miserable way, and was content to suffer cruel passion in shedding his blood for all mankind; and so left behind for our safeguard laws and ordinances, to keep us always in the right path unto everlasting life, as the evangelists, the sacraments, the commandments, and so forth : which if we do keep and observe according to our profession, we shall answer better unto this question, “Who art thou?” than we did before. For before thou didst enter into the sacrament of baptism, thou wert but a natural man, a natural woman; as I might say, a man, a woman: but after thou takes on thee Christ’s religion, thou hast a longer name; for then thou art a Christian man, a Christian woman. Now then, seeing thou art a Christian man, what shall be thy answer of this question, “Who art thou?”

Hugh Latimer, “Sermons on the Card,” in Sermons by Hugh Latimer, Sometime Bishop of Worcester (Cambridge: CUP, 1844), 1:7. [Some spelling modernized and underlining mine.]


I.:–Comparison of Divine Sovereignty and The Incarnation as central principles. Calvinistic theology has had-unconsciously for the most part–two germinant principles: Sovereignty and The Covenants; the former the older, the latter more narrow, but with some advantages. In the Confessions we often see an unconscious union of the two. Sovereignty tends to run into supralapsarianism and the assertion of the exclusive divine efficiency: Will is made to be all; the ethical is obscured. The objections to it are: (a.) It is too abstract; (b.) It is liable to perversion, to the construction that God is all Will ; (c.) If it is taken concretely, i. e., if the Sovereignty is understood to stand f01′ Plan, it comes to much the same with our principle: Incarnation in order to Redemption is God’s Plan.

II.–Comparison of The Incarnation and The Covenants, as the central principles.

1. The original usage of The Covenant, in theology, as setting forth an arrangement, an ordering, on the part of God, is allowable and true.

2. As applied in the Covenant of Works: “This do and thou shalt live,” we may say, It is as if there. was such a covenant.

3. As applied in the Covenant of Redemption, that between the Father and the Son, it sets forth clearly, for popular representation, that in the divine plan, Christ performs conditions and his people are given to Him in consequence. (Only in this Covenant there should be included all that Christ’s work accomplished: Propitiation for the sins of the whole world and the General Offer of Salvation as well as the Provision for the Elect.)

Henry B. Smith, System of Christian Theology, 2nd ed., (New York: A.C. Armstrong and Son, 1884), 377-378.  [Underlining mine.]

[Notes: 1) The implication here from Smith is that within the Trinity, there is no conflict of interests or purposes. Christ’s effecting an expiation for all sinners, and the offer of the Gospel in no way entails intra-Trinitarian conflict as some often allege must exist in the classic and moderate Calvinist soteriological schema. 2) Curst Daniel sums and rebuts this objection here. 3) Interestingly, Smith’s expression also echoes that of Bunyan, Edwards and Welsh, all making the same exact point.]


When the Arminian then argues here, Christ hath died for All and Every man and that is not to be put off with the genera singulorum, or, the Gentiles as well as the Jews: therefore the grace of God is universal for all and every one to repent and believe that they may be saved. I answer, this is manifestly inconsequent, because it is true that what Christ hath done by way of Redemption is universal, and belongs to all the World, and every man alike, which is terminated in procuring these terms to be offered to the World for salvation. But as for mans belief, repentance, sincere obedience, which are the terms, they come directly and immediately otherwise, not from the grace of Redemption, nor from the fountain of mans free will with them, but from the grace of Election. God gives us his Son, and he gives us his Spirit. His sending his Son is one thing, and his sending his Spirit another. The work of drawing persons to Christ, I do observe, is attributed to the Father and the Spirit, because this is Peculiar: when the work which is attributed to Christ in distinction to them, is General to all mankind. He sent his Son to purchase salvation, if we Believe: he sends his Spirit to work that faith and repentance in us that we may be saved. In the one does lie the mystery of our Redemption, in the other, I say, the mystery of Election. Let it be true on one hand that Christ by his Redemption hath indeed procured no more for Paul and Peter, than for Judas and the reprobate, and so the honor of his Redemption be kept up with the Arminian to the height they contend for it: Yet may it be true, I hope likewise, on the other hand, that the grace of God towards Peter and Paul was more in giving them saving faith and repentance, than to Judas or the reprobate, and so the doctrine of Special Grace and Election need not neither be discarded.

John Humfrey, The Middle-Way in One Paper of Election & Redemption (London: Printed for T. Parkhust, at the Three Bibles in Cheap-side, 1673), 29-30. [Some spelling modernized and underlining mine.]

Charles Hodge:

1) This teaches, 1. That the certainty of salvation is secured by the death of Christ. He did not die merely to render salvation possible, but to make it certain. This it does because it is a complete satisfaction of justice. It answers all the ends which our perdition could possibly answer, and therefore it renders that perdition unnecessary. Christ cannot fail to see of the travail of his soul. Those cannot perish for whom he died. That Christ died to render salvation not only possible, but certain, is true, secondly, because the salvation of his people was promised him in that covenant, in the execution of which he laid down his life. Charles Hodge, ‘Christ, His Person and Offices,” in Conference Papers, (New York, Charles, Scribner’s Sons, 1879), 38.

2) As God in the course of nature and in the dispensation of his providence, moves on in undisturbed majesty, little concerned at the apparent complication or even inconsistency of one effect or one dispensation with another; so the Spirit of God in the Bible unfolds the purposes, truths, and dealings of God, just as they are, assured that even finite minds will ultimately be able to see the consistency of all his revelations. The doctrines of foreordination, sovereignty, and effectual providential control, go hand in hand with those of the liberty and responsibility of rational creatures. Those of freedom from the law, of salvation by faith without works, and of the absolute necessity of holy living stand side by side. On the same page we find the assurance of God’s love to sinners, and declarations that He would that all men should come unto Him and live, with explicit assertions that He has determined to leave multitudes to perish in their sins. In like manner, the express declarations that it was the incomprehensible and peculiar love of God for his own people, which induced Him to send his Son for their redemption; that Christ came into the world for that specific object; that He died for his sheep; that He gave Himself for his Church; and that the salvation of all for whom He thus offered Himself is rendered certain by the gift of the Spirit to bring them to faith and repentance, are intermingled with declarations of good-will to all mankind, with offers of salvation to every one who will believe in the Son of God, and denunciations of wrath against those who reject these overtures of mercy. All we have to do is not to ignore or deny either of these modes of representation, but to open our minds wide enough to receive them both, and reconcile them as best we can. Both are true, in all the cases above referred to, whether we can see their consistency or not…

The opposite, or anti-Augustinian doctrine, is founded on a partial view of the facts of the case. It leaves out of view the clearly revealed special love of God to his peculiar people; the union between Christ and his chosen; the representative character which He assumed as their substitute; the certain efficacy of his sacrifice in virtue of the covenant of redemption; and the necessary connection between the gift of Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit. It moreover leads to confused and inconsistent views of the plan of salvation, and to unscriptural and dangerous theories of the nature of the atonement. It therefore is the limited and meager scheme; whereas the orthodox doctrine is catholic and comprehensive; full of consolation and spiritual power, as well as of justice to all mankind. Charles. Hodge, Systematic Theology, 2:561 and 562.