26. It is rather surprising to see certain limitarians1 sometimes arrogate to themselves, at least by implication, the honor of exclusive Calvinism, as well as exclusive orthodoxy. They are certainly in an error there, if what Calvin believed and taught may be viewed as the criterion of what Calvinism is. In his institutes of the Christian religion, written (when about 35 years of age) in his theological youth, although they were less express on the point than his subsequent writings, I recollect no sentence which determines any thing in favor of restrictive views of the nature of atonement. In his commentary, which was his maturer work and the rich mine whence many modern writers have taken their second-hand wisdom, and which has never (so far as I know) been rendered into English and published, his sentiments are full, frequent, conclusive, in favor of a full atonement. It may be well to transcribe a few of these. I could easily give more.

1 John, 2: 3, where Christ is said to be “the propitiation–for the sins of the whole world.” Calvin says indeed that “he would not stoop to answer the ravings of those who hence declare all the reprobate and even the devil himself to be the ultimate subjects of salvation. A portion so monstrous deserves no refutation. But others, who have no such purpose, affirm that Christ suffered sufficiently for all men; but efficiently for the elect alone. And this solution of the matter is commonly received in the schools. I question however its relevancy to the present passage, while I confess its absolute truth.” Hence (1) Calvin believed the fulness of the atonement, and made it a part of his Christian confession. (2) Just as obviously is it no modern speculation; since it had obtained in the schools of protestant orthodoxy, even commonly, three hundred years ago. I subjoin his own words. Sed hic movetur quaestio, quomodo mundi totius peccata expientur. Omitto phreneticorum deliria, qui hoc praetextu reprobes omnes, adeoque Satanam ipsum in salutem admittunt: tale portentum refutatione indignum est. qui hane absurditatem volebant effugere, dixerunt; Sufficienter pro toto mundo passum esse Christum: Bed pro eleetis tantum efficaeiter Vulgo haec solutio in scholis obtinuit. Ego quanquam verum esse illud dictum fateor; nego tamen praesenti loco quadrare.

2 Pet. 2:1. “Even denying the Lord that bought them.” He says “those therefore who, despising restraint, have abandoned themselves to all licentiousness, are deservedly said to deny Christ by whom they were redeemed. Moreover, that the doctrine of the gospel may remain safe and entire in our hands, let us fix it in our minds that we have been redeemed by Christ to this very end–that he may be at once the Lord of our life and our death: and so let us propose to ourselves this end, that to him we may live, and to him we may die.” His words are–Qui igitur excusso freno in omnem licentiam se projiciunt, non immerito dicuntur Christum abnegare a quo redempti sunt. Proinde ut salva et Integra evangelii doctrina apud nos maneat, hoc animis nostria infixum sit, tedemptos esse nos a Christo ut vitae simul et mortis nostrae sit Dominus: itaque nobis hunc finem esse propositum ut illi vivamus ac moriaraur.

Rom. 5: 18. “Therefore, as by one offence [sentence came] upon all men unto condemnation, so by the righteousness of one [sentence came] upon all men unto justification of life.” Stuart’s translation. Calvin says, ” The apostle here makes it the common grace of all, because to all it is exhibited, though to all it is not realized in eventual fact. For although Christ suffered for the sins of the whole world, and to all without discrimination is he offered by the benignity of God, yet all men do not apprehend him.” His words are–Communem omnium gratiam facit,’ quia omnibus exposita est, non quod ad omnes extendatur re ipsa: nam etsi passus est Christus pro peccatis totius mundi atque omnibus indifierenter Dei benignitate offertur, non tamen omnes apprehendunt.

Matt. 26 : 28. “For this is my blood of the new testament, [covenant], which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” He says, “Under the word many Jesus Christ designates not a part of the world only but the total human race. Therefore, when we approach ‘the table of the Lord, not only should this general thought occur to our mind, that the world has been redeemed by the blood of Christ, but each for himself ought to consider that his own sins have been expiated.” I give his words. Sub multorum nomine non partem mundi tantum designat sed totum humanum genus. Ergo dum ad suam mensam accedimus, non solum haec generalis cogitatio in mentem veniat, iredemptum Christi sanguine esse mundum; sed pro se quisque reputet peccata sua expiata esse.

Samuel H. Cox, Quakerism Not Christianity: Or, Reasons for Renouncing The Doctrine of Friends (New York: Printed by D. Fanshaw, 1833), 665-666. [Italics original; some reformatting; footnote value and content mine; and underlining mine.]


1“Limitarian” was a 19th century term used by some writers to denote proponents of limited atonement. See for example, Welsh’s use of the same here.

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