Archive for the ‘The Death of Christ and Common Grace’ Category


Christ died for the reprobate in five ways:

1. By way of proclamation, remission of sins is proclaimed to thee if thou will believe, Luke 24:47, Acts 13:38 and 10:43.

2. By way of obligation, you are bound to believe that your sins may be forgiven thee in Christ, Mark 1:15, Rom 7:2.

3. By way of obsignation.

4. By way of general merit, John 3:16.

5. By way of special intention, for all that thou knowest, Acts 8:22, Mr Fenner’s Hidden Manner.

Some say, all men under the dispensation of the New Testament, are reconciled to God through Christ, and have received grace to be converted if they will, and they ground this on Acts 2:17, and such places. The universal term is there used to imply the distinction of nations with the Lord; the Jews only were his before.

Edward Leigh, A Systeme or Body of Divinity (London: Printed by A.M. for William Lee at the Signe of the Turks-head in Fleet-street over against Fetter-lane, 1662), 602. [Some spelling modernized; some reformatting; italics original.]

[Note: 1) Edward Leigh, himself, was not a classic-moderate Calvinist, otherwise known in modern secondary source literature as Hypothetical Universalism; c.f., Body of Divinity, “To The Reader, a4-5 or pages 3-4 (pages manually numbered). 2) Leigh is effectively paraphrasing Fenner’s five ways in which Christ died for all men. But, whereas, Fenner was a moderate-classic Calvinist, Leigh was not.]


Quest. Do reprobates receive any benefit by Christ’s death?

Answ. In some respects it had been better for them if there had not been a Christ, because when they wilfully refuse him, it aggravates their sin and condemnation, John 3:19, and 15:22, yet several mercies do redound even to the reprobate by Christ’s death. As,

1. There is no man that lives under the means of grace, but he may hereby be encouraged to repent, and to believe for his salvation; whereas the apostate angels are left without hope.

2. The ministers of the gospel may hereupon promiscuously preach the Gospel to all, as within the sphere of Christ’s death; so the apostle writing to churches, wherein many were corrupt both for doctrine and manners, yet calls them a church, saints, believers, not excluding any from the benefit of Christ. So, therefore, may ministers do in their preaching; yet they must not propound Christ as a saviour to them in the first place, but must do as Paul when he preached to Felix, Acts 24:25, laying open the wrath of God to him for his sins, so that he trembled. So must they humble them by the law before they preach the gospel.

3. Reprobates have this advantage by Christ, that they enjoy all the mercies they have. For all being forfeited by Adam’s sin, by Christ (who is the heir of all things) they come lawfully to enjoy the mercies they have. For it’s Christ that bears up the world. Indeed, they have not a sanctified use of what they enjoy; for to the impure all things are impure, Tit. 1:15, but otherwise they have a lawful right before God and man to what they enjoy, Psal. 115:8.

4. It’s by Christ’s death that many wicked are partakers of the common gifts of God’s Spirit. It is the Spirit of Christ that gives several gifts to men, 1 Cor. 14, Christ is the vine, and so not only grapes, but even leaves come from his sap and juice.

5. Christ by his death is made Lord of the whole world, and has conquered all the inhabitants that are therein, so that they are Christ’s as a Lord, who has bought by his death, 2 Pet. 2:1, “The denied the Lord that bought them.” Wicked men are brought by him to be his vassals and servants, and he may dispose of them as he pleases for his churches good.

Samuel Clarke, Medulla Theologiæ: Or the Marrow of Divinity, Contained in Sundry Questions and Cases of Conscience, both Speculative, and Practical; the Greatest Part of them Collected out of the Works of Our Most Judicious, Experienced, and Orthodox English Divines, The Rest Supplied by the Authour, (London: Printed by Thomas Ratcliff, for Thomas Underhill, of the Blue Anchor and Bible in Pauls Church-Yard, 1659), 284. [Some reformatting; some spelling modernized; and italics original.]

[Note: While I think what Clarke says is fairly sterile and bleak, what he does say here is of historical and theological interest and which further undercuts modern Hypercalvinist claims regarding what is and is not “true” Reformed orthodoxy.]


It is allowed, by those who deny the extent of Christ’s death to all men, as to what concerns their salvation, that it may truly be said, that there are some blessings redounding to the whole world, and more especially to those who sit under the sound of the gospel, as the consequence of Christ’s death; inasmuch as it is owing hereunto, that the day of God’s patience is lengthened out, and the preaching of the gospel continued to those who are favoured with it; and that this is attended, in many, with restraining grace, and some instances of external reformation, which (though it may not issue in their salvation) has a tendency to prevent a multitude of sins, and a greater degree condemnation, that would otherwise ensue. These may be called the remote, or secondary ends of Christ’s death, which was principally and immediately designed to redeem the elect, and to purchase all saving blessings for them which shall be applied in his own time and way: Nevertheless others, as a consequence hereof, are made partakers of some blessings of common providence, so far as they are subservient to the salvation of those, for whom he gave himself a ransom.

Thomas Ridgely, A Body of Divinity, (Philadelphia: William Woodward, 1815), 2:303-8.


James Durham (1622-1658) on The Death of Christ and Common Grace

   Posted by: CalvinandCalvinism


Doctrine Two. We may consider Christ’s sufferings and death in the fruits of it, either as they respect common favors, and mercies, common gifts, and means of grace, which are not peculiar and saving, but common to believers with others, being bestowed upon professors in the visible Church; or as they are peculiar and saving, such as faith, justification, adoption, etc. Now when we say that Christ’s sufferings and death are a price for the sins of his people, we exclude not the reprobate simply from temporal and common favors and mercies that come by his death; they may have, and actually have, common gifts and works of the Spirit, the means of grace, which are some way effects and fruits of the same covenant. But we say, that the reprobate partake not of saving mercy and that Christ’s death is a satisfaction only for the elect, and that none others get pardon of sin, faith, repentance, etc. by it, but they only; it was intended for none others. And this we clear and confirm from, and by, these following grounds and arguments, which we will shortly hint at.

James Durham, Christ Crucified: The Marrow of the Gospel in 72 Sermons on Isaiah 53 (Dallas, TX: Naphtali Press, 2001), 343-344.


(2.) His pleadings for his apostles.

We proceed now to consider the pleadings by which the Savior enforces these petitions. These pleadings may all be arranged under the following heads :–First, The persons he prays for are a peculiar class, “not the world.” Secondly, They stand in a peculiar. relation both to the Father and to him, Thirdly, They have a peculiar history. Fourthly, They have a peculiar character. Fifthly, They are placed in peculiar circumstances. Sixthly, They are appointed to a peculiar and most important and difficult work. And finally, Their consecration for this work is one great end for which he consecrates himself to the great work assigned him by the Father. Let us turn our attention to these topics in their order, endeavoring to apprehend the meaning of our Lord’s statements with respect to each of them, and their bearing and force as pleas, on the petitions which he presents for his apostles.

1. They were a peculiar Class.

The first plea which I would bring under your consideration is, ‘that the objects of his prayer were a peculiar class–not the world.’ “I pray not for the world”1 (ver. 9). And I call your attention to this plea first, because it lays the foundation for all the, rest. Indeed, all the rest may be considered as only the expansion or development of this.

The words, “I pray for them, I pray not for the world,” have by many able theologians been considered as an assertion that our Lord’s intercession does not in any sense extend to mankind at large, but is strictly limited to the elect. It is one of the passages which have been much used in support of the doctrine, that in no sense did Christ die for all men, and that therefore the atonement has exclusively a reference to ‘the elect;’ the two parts of our Lord’s mediatorial work being justly considered as indissoluble.

Like many other passages of Scripture, more eagerness has been discovered by polemical divines to wrest it as a weapon out of the hand of an antagonist, or to employ it as a weapon against him, than to discover what is the precise meaning of the words as used by our Lord, and how they serve the purpose for which he employed them. I think it will not be difficult to show that the assertion that our Lord prays for no blessings for any but the elect, is not warranted by Scripture; and that, even if it were, it would not be easy to show how such a statement should have’ a place in a plea for the bestowment of certain blessings on his apostles.2

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