1) Neither may we be charged as straiteners of the merit of Christ; for we advance the true value and worth thereof (as hereafter will appear) far beyond all the Arminians ascribe unto it. We confess that that “blood of God,” Acts 20:28, of the “Lamb without blemish and without spot,” 1 Peter 1:19, was so exceedingly precious, of that infinite worth and value, that it might have saved a thousand believing worlds, John 3:16; Romans 3:22. His death was of sufficient dignity to have been made a ransom for all the sins of every one in the world. “Display,”in Works, 10:89; cf., Display (Still Waters ed.), 89.

[Note here the use of the English hypothetical contrary-to-fact subjunctive. Owen is saying that the death of Christ was actually not a ransom for all, only that it could have been made a ransom for all. This observation is important, in that for Owen, as the death of Christ is actually not a ransom for all, likewise, the death of Christ is actually not sufficient for all: only that the death of Christ could have been made to be sufficient for all.]

2) The first thing that we shall lay down is concerning the dignity, worth, preciousness, and infinite value of the blood and death of Jesus Christ. The maintaining and declaring of this is doubtless especially to be considered; and every opinion that doth but seemingly clash against it is exceedingly prejudiced, at least deservedly suspected, yea, presently to be rejected by Christians, if upon search it be found to do so really and indeed, as that which is injurious and derogatory to the merit and honour of Jesus Christ. The Scripture, also, to this purpose is exceeding full and frequent in setting forth the excellency and dignity of his death and sacrifice, calling his blood, by reason of the unity of his person, “God’s own blood,” Acts xx. 28; exalting it infinitely above all other sacrifices, as having for its principle “the eternal Spirit,” and being itself “without spot,” Heb.ix. 14; transcendently more precious than silver, or gold, or corruptible things, 1 Pet. i. 18; able to give justification from all things, from which by the law men could not be justified, Acts xiii. 28. Now, such as was the sacrifice and offering of Christ in itself, such was it intended by his Father it should be. It was, then, the purpose and intention of God that his Son should offer a sacrifice of infinite worth, value, and dignity, sufficient in itself for the redeeming of all and every man, if it had pleased the Lord to employ it to that purpose; yea, and of other worlds also, if the Lord should freely make them, and would redeem them. Sufficient we say, then, was the sacrifice of Christ for the redemption of the whole world, and for the expiation of all the sins of all and every man in the world. This sufficiency of his sacrifice hath a twofold rise:— First, The dignity of the person that did offer and was offered. Secondly, The greatness of the pain he endured, by which he was able to bear, and did undergo, the whole curse of the law and wrath of God due to sin. And this sets out the innate, real, true worth and value of the blood-shedding of Jesus Christ. This is its own true internal perfection and sufficiency. That it should be applied unto any, made a price for them, and become beneficial to them, according to the worth that is in it, is external to it, doth not arise from it, but merely depends upon the intention and will of God. It was in itself of infinite value and sufficiency to have been made a price to have bought and purchased all and every man in the world. That it did formally become a price for any is solely to be ascribed to the purpose of God, intending their purchase and redemption by it. The intention of the offerer and accepter that it should be for such, some, or any, is that which gives the formality of a price unto it; this is external. But the value and fitness of it to be made a price ariseth from its own internal sufficiency. Hence may appear what is to be thought of that old distinction of the schoolmen, embraced and used by divers protestant divines, though by others again rejected,–namely, “That Christ died for all in respect of the sufficiency of the ransom he paid, but not in respect of the efficacy of its application;” or, “The blood of Christ was a sufficient price for the sins of all the world;” –which last expression is corrected by some, and thus asserted, “That the blood of Christ was sufficient to have been made a price for all;” which is most true, as was before declared: for its being a price for all or some doth not arise from its own sufficiency, worth, or dignity, but from the intention of God and Christ using it to that purpose, as was declared; and, therefore, it is denied that the blood of Christ was a sufficient price and ransom for all and every one, not because it was not sufficient, but because it was not a ransom. And so it easily appears what is to be owned in the distinction itself before expressed. If it intend no more but that the blood of our Saviour was of sufficient value for the redemption of all and every one, and that Christ intended to lay down a price which should be sufficient for their redemption, it is acknowledged as most true. But the truth is, that expression, “To die for them,” holds out the intention of our Saviour, in the laying down of the price, to have been their redemption; which we deny, and affirm that then it could not be but that they must be made actual partakers of the eternal redemption purchased for them, unless God failed in his design, through the defect of the ransom paid by Christ, his justice refusing to give a dismission upon the delivery of the ransom. Now, the infinite value and worth which we assert to be in the death of Christ we conceive to be exceedingly undervalued by the assertors of universal redemption; for that it should be extended to this or that object, fewer or more, we showed before to be extrinsical to it. But its true worth consists in the immediate effects, products, and issues of it, with what in its own nature it is fit and able to do; which they openly and apparently undervalue, yea, almost annihilate. Hence those expressions concerning it:–First, That by it a door of grace was opened for sinners: where, I suppose, they know not; but that any were [ever] effectually carried in at the door by it, that they deny. Secondly, That God might, if he would, and upon what condition he pleased, save those for whom Christ died. That a right of salvation was by him purchased for any, they deny. Hence they grant, that after the death of Christ,–first, God might have dealt with man upon a legal condition again; secondly, That all and every man might have been damned, and yet the death of Christ have had its full effect; as also, moreover, That faith and sanctification are not purchased by his death, yea, no more for any (as before) than what he may go to hell withal. And divers other ways do they express their low thoughts and slight imaginations concerning the innate value and sufficiency of the death and blood-shedding of Jesus Christ. To the honour, then, of Jesus Christ our Mediator, God and man, our all-sufficient Redeemer, we affirm, such and so great was the dignity and worth of his death and blood-shedding, of so precious a value, of such an infinite fulness and sufficiency was this oblation of himself, that it was every way able and perfectly sufficient to redeem, justify, and reconcile and save all the sinners in the world, and to satisfy the justice of God for all the sins of all mankind, and to bring them every one to everlasting glory. Now, this fulness and sufficiency of the merit of the death of Christ is a foundation unto two things:…. John Owen, “Death of Death,” in Works, 10:295-297.

3) Fifthly, If the words are to be understood to signify all and every one in the world, then is the whole assertion useless as to the chief end intended,–namely, to administer consolation to believers; for what consolation can arise from hence unto any believer, that Christ was a propitiation for them that perish? Yea, to say that he was a sufficient propitiation for them, though not effectual, will yield them no more comfort than it would have done Jacob and his sons to have heard from Joseph that he had corn enough, sufficient to sustain them, but that he would do so was altogether uncertain; for had he told them he would sustain them sufficiently, though not effectually, they might have starved notwithstanding his courtesy. “The whole world,” then, in this place, is the whole people of God (opposed to the Jewish nation), scattered abroad throughout the whole world, of what nation, kindred, tongue, or family soever, who are some of all sorts, not all of every sort. So that this place makes nothing for general redemption. John Owen, “Death of Death,” in Works, 10:337-8.

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