Nathaniel Holmes (1599-1678) on John 17:9

   Posted by: CalvinandCalvinism   in John 17:9


And therefore when men urge that argument out of John 17:9. Christ “PRAYED not for the world,” therefore he PAID not for the world; there are many considerable things may be replied unto.

For the consequence may be excepted against upon many good reasons. For though Christ did not pray for the world, yet he might pay for the world. Because this paying is a more general or common act, of satisfaction; his praying a more special and choice act of intercession: so that though both acts agree in this, that they be acts of Christ’s Priesthood, yet in other respects are widely distinguishable. 1. Paying, that is, giving satisfaction, does properly give content to God’s Justice (as hath been shown) Praying, that is, intercession, doth solicit God’s mercy. 2. This paying satisfaction contains a preparation of the plaster of potion necessary for man’s salvation; But praying by way of intercession, is the means of application of that remedy to the malady. 3. The paying satisfaction belongs to the common nature of mankind which Christ assumes: when as praying intercession is a special privilege vouchsafed to such particular persons only as the Father hath given to his Son Christ.

And therefore I think we may safely conclude from all these premises, That the Lamb of God offering up himself (clothed with human nature) a sacrifice for the sins of the world, intended by giving satisfaction sufficiently to God’s Justice, to make the nature of man (which he assumed) saveable, a fit subject for mercy, and to prepare a sovereign medicine for the sins of the whole world, which should be denied to none that mind to take the benefit thereof; howsoever he intended not, by applying this all-sufficient sacrifice, or satisfaction to every one in particular, to make it effectual unto the salvation of all, or to procure thereby, at the hands of the Father, actual pardon for the sins of the whole world. He applies this only effectually to them who making claim to the satisfaction, by promise, suing for the spirit and faith upon other promises, in prayer waiting for a gracious return until they have it. So that in one respect Christ may be said to die for all; and in another respect, not to die for all. Yet so as in respect of his merit, he may be accounted a kind of universal cause of the restoring of our nature, as Adam was the depraving of it.

Nathanael Homes, “Christ’s offering himself to all Sinners, and Answering all their Objection,” in The Works of Dr. Nathanael Homes (London: Printed for the Author, 1651), 15. [Some spelling modernized; italics original; and underlining mine.]


1Holmes’ name was sometimes spelled Homes, as on the title page of this work. For our purposes here, I will refer to the normal spelling of his name, but for citation purposes adhere to the variant spelling on the title page.

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