2. But when the schools speak of Christ’s dying for all sufficiently, and accordingly some expositors [Cathus. Serra in loc.], interpret this expiation ’sufficient for the sins of the whole world;’ it is as the learned Davenant hath excellently observed, and solidly proved, another kind of value, to wit, such as ariseth from divine ordination; and thus, though we must exclude angels, and consider men only as riatores, whilst they are in the way, since (as St Bernard truly) the blood of Christ which was shed on earth goeth not down to hell [Sanguis effusus super terram nou descendit ad inferos.—Bern, in Cant. Serm. 75.] yet we are by the whole world to understand omnes et singulos, all and every man that hath been, is, or shall be, in the world; so that we may truly assert, it was the intention of God giving Christ, and Christ offering himself, to lay down such a price as might be sufficient, and so upon gospel terms applicable to all mankind, and every individual man in the whole world.

To unfold this truth aright, I shall briefly present two things to your consideration:

1. A price may be said to be sufficient, either absolutely or conditionally. A price is then absolutely sufficient, when there is nothing more required to the participation of the benefit but only the payment of the money; and thus we are not to conceive of God’s ordination, that Christ’s death should become an actual propitiation without any other intervenient act on our part. He died not in this sense for any, much less for all. When, therefore, we say God would that Christ should lay down a price sufficient, and so applicable to every man, it is to be understood in a conditional way, upon the terms of faith and repentance. And hence it is, that though Christ dying suffered that punishment which was designed to be satisfactory for the sins of every man, yet God doth justly inflict the punishment upon the persons of all them who are not by faith partakers of Christ’s death, because it was intended to satisfy for them only upon condition of believing.

2. Know further, that though God intends Christ’s propitiation conditionally applicable, aeque’, as well to every as any man, yet he did not ex aequo, equally intend it for every man. It is one thing to say. He is a propitiation, not for our sins only, but for the sins of the whole world, and another thing to say, He is a propitiation as fully for the sins of the whole world as he is for ours. It is observable in Scripture that some places speak of Christ laying down his life for his sheep, John x. 15, and giving himself for his Church, Ephes. v. 25, and others of Christ’s dying for all, and tasting death for every one. In one place he is called the Saviour of the body, ver. 23, and in another, the Saviour of the world, John iv. 14. Nor will it be hard to reconcile these, if we distinguish of a general and a special intention in God, that the fruit of his philanthropia, love to mankind, this of his eudokia, good will to some particular persons. By the former, he intends Christ’s propitiation applicable to all; by the latter, he decreeth it to be actually applied to some. According to this it is that St Ambrose saith, [Christiis passus est pro omnibus; pro nobis tamen specialiter passus est—Amhros.in Luc.] “Christ suffered generally for all, and yet specially for some,” and Peter Lombard,[Christus se in ara crucis obtulit pro omnibus, quantum ad pretii sufficientiam; sed pro electis tantum quoad efficaciam, quia pradestinatis tantum salutem efficit.—P. Lumb. dist. seciinda.], Christ offered himself on the altar of the cross for all, as to the sufficiency of the price; for the elect only, as to efficacy, because he effects salvation only for them that are predestinated.

Suitably hereunto it is that divines conceive a double covenant to be intimated in Scripture—the one universal and conditional, the other special and absolute; the one made with all, and every man, upon these terms, ‘Whosoever believeth in Christ shall not perish,’ John iii. 16; the other made with Christ concerning a seed which he should see upon making his soul an offering for sin, Isa. liii. 10, to whom he promiseth not only salvation by Christ upon condition of believing, but the writing his law in their hearts, Heb. x. 16, whereby they are enabled to perform the condition, and so infallibly partake of that salvation. By all which, it appeareth that notwithstanding God’s special affection, and decree of election whereby he hath purposed this propitiation shall be actually conferred upon some, we may truly assert, God hath a general love whereby he hath ordained the death of Christ an universal remedy applicable to every man as a propitiation for his sins, if he believe and repent. And hence it is that this propitiation, as it is applicable, so it is annunciable to every man. Indeed, as God hath not intended it should be actually applied, so neither that it should be so much as actually revealed to many men; but yet it is, as applicable, so annunciable, both by virtue of the general covenant God hath made with all, and that general mandate he hath given to his ministers of preaching the gospel to all, so that if any minister could go through all the parts of the world, and in those parts singly, from man to man, he might not only with a conjectural hope, but with a certain faith, say to him, God hath so loved thee that he gave his only son, that if thou believe in him, thou shalt not perish; and that this is not barely founded upon the innate sufficiency of Christ’s death, but the ordination of God, appeareth in that we cannot, may not, say so to any of the fallen angels, for whom yet, as you have already heard, Christ’s death is instrinsically sufficient. Nathanael Hardy, The First General Epistle of St John the Apostle, Unfolded and Applied (Edinburgh: James Nichol, 1865), 140-141. [Some spelling modernized, some reformatting, footnotes cited inline, italics original, and underlining mine.]

This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 28th, 2011 at 11:31 am and is filed under Sufficient for All, Efficient for the Elect. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 comments so far

Bob Schilling

I found Nathaniel Hardy’s comments here to be remarkably clear. It amazes me that the wide stream of Reformed thought flowing from John Davenant is not more widely known and documented (other than at this website and relatively few others). I see Tentmaker Publications republished this in 2002 and 2004 and someone else has reprinted it in pb recently; looks like a terrific volume. You could only wish that he was able to write on more than the first two chapters. Great quotes!

October 11th, 2011 at 2:03 am

Hey Bob.

Part of our problem is that publishing houses like Banner have been very selective in what they have reprinted. Our “window” into the Reformed past via the available extant literature causes us to have a lop-sided perspective. The good thing is that with EEBO and Google books and Archive.org, perhaps some of the unbalance can be addressed.

The Davanantian stream was a dominant movement in England in the 17thC, it provided a broad and robust theological platform which attracted a lot of Anglicans, Puritans and Presbyterians, (even early Baptists) of the time. It was clearly a main source for Calamay, Howe, Charnock (leaders of English Presbyteranisn in the 17thC) and others, who then, in their turn, provided a lot of the background for J. Edwards, etc. in the 18th century.

There is so much that we have lost, so many ideas and theological lines of thought we now have no awareness of. For example, the idea of a two-fold covenant. Tracking down the source of that idea would be a great Ph.D. topic.

Thanks for commenting,

October 11th, 2011 at 2:05 pm

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