Now, to pluck up all these desperate consequences by the root, there needs no more than a right understanding of the true and proper notion and manner of Christ’s redeeming us. It is not by way of solution, but of satisfaction. Clearly thus:–our case to God is not properly that of debtors, but that of criminal subjects. God’s aspect to us-ward [is] not properly that of a creditor, but that of a Rector and Judge. The person [which] Christ sustained, and the part [that] he acted, [was] not, in a strict sense, that of a Surety, paying the wry debt in kind, and so discharging a bond; but that of a Mediator, expiating our guilt and making reparations to Divine Justice [in] another way than by the execution of the law; And, indeed, the very nature of a law is such, as [that] it is quite impossible that the obligation either of its threatening or command should in a proper sense be fulfilled by any other than the very person threatened and commanded: alius here makes aliud. If another suffer the penalty, the threatening is not fulfilled; nor, if another performs the duty, [is] the command [fulfilled]: for, “the obligation as to punishment lies on the person threatened;” (noxa caput sequitur); and that to duty, on the person commanded. It cannot be fulfilled in kind by “another,” but it ceases to be the same thing, and becomes “another thing” from that in the obligation: yet it may be such another thing (and Christ’s righteousness, both active and passive, really is such) as the rector or judge may accept of with honour and be satisfied with, as if the very same thing had been suffered and done just in the same manner as the law threatened and commanded it.

That Christ has paid, not the idem, but tantundem,–that is, not fulfilled the law (as for us) in kind, but satisfied it for us,–is most evident. For,

(1.) The law obliged the sinner’s person to suffer: Christ was no sinner.

(2.) All men to suffer; forasmuch as “all had sinned”: Christ was but one man.

(3.) The punishment due by law was eternal: Christ suffered but for a season, and is “entered into his glory.” (Luke xxiv. 26.) Thus Christ paid not the same thing that was in the obligation, but something equivalent thereunto.

This being obtained,–that the Lord Christ has redeemed us, not by way of solution, or discharging a bond by payment in kind; but by way of satisfaction, or making amends to the injured justice of the law,–it follows, from the reason and nature of the thing,

(1.) That God pardon freely .–We are not only beholden to Christ for satisfying, but to God, too, infinitely for accepting of any satisfaction at all. He might have refused it: he had done sinners no wrong, if he had executed the rigour of the law, without hearkening to terms of reconciliation. Quite contrary: a creditor does not pardon the debtor, when the surety has discharged the bond by full payment in kind: the debtor is beholden, indeed, to his friend the surety, but not at all to the creditor, who cannot refuse to cancel the bond; nay, it were wrong and injustice in him if he did.

(2.) That none has or can have actual interest in, or benefit by, this redemption, but upon such terms as God and Christ have mutually compromised in and agreed to; namely, the condition of the gospel covenant above-mentioned.–See the answer to the third query.

(i.) The reason hereof is partly from God, the injured Lawgiver of the world; who, seeing it was at his liberty to accept of satisfaction or no, has of necessity the right to make his own terms,–when, and how far forth, and in what manner and method, he will condescend to admit the sinner to the actual benefit of Christ’s satisfaction.

(ii.) And partly, too, from Christ.–For, as he is the mesites or “Mediator,” between God and man, a friend to both parties, nay, a person consisting of both natures,–the offended and offending; he is engaged necessarily, by virtue both of office and person, to espouse with equal tenderness of regard the interests of both parties: for he is really concerned in them both; they are his concernments, as well as theirs. True, indeed, a surety that discharges a bond by full payment in kind,-he sustains and bears only the person of the debtor, minds only his indemnity, does what he does upon his account and for his sake. But our great Mediator must consult, not only our impunity, but his Father’s, yea, and his own honour. And therefore, echas o exas, este bebeloi,1 “get you hence,” all you that either yet never did, or that do not now, repent, believe, and conscientiously endeavour to obey. Here is not the least jot of benefit for you, in the case you are in, from this redemption; for, how infinite soever the merit of Christ’s satisfaction is, it confers nothing actually upon any person that has not actually a gospel claim and title to plead it before God.

The immediate effect actually resulting from Christ’s performance is, the procuring the gospel-covenant to be ratified by his Father, as a law, whereby sinners, upon the terms propounded, become reconcilable unto God. Actually it is of force to all that have, but to none that want, the conditions of it. Now the keeping this gospel covenant God expects from us in person; though by the assistance of his Spirit, whom he has promised to give to them that humbly and earnestly ask it of him. (Luke xi. 13.) To affirm that Christ has kept the gospel for us too, is to utter the most self-contradicting blasphemy and absurdity imaginable: as if he could repent, or believe in himself; free, except., or cancel our obligation to obey the moral law, by his own obeying it: as if Christ had 80 done’ all, that nothing remains to be done on our part. Such strange extremes do some men run into, that, to avoid justification by works, by an ametria tes antholxhes, [“excessive counterbalancing,”] are as extravagant on the other hand; thinking the grace of God cannot be free, except the sinner become either a senseless statue, merely passive; or (which is yet worse) have a writ of ease to be quite idle, or (which is worst of all) a licence to sin by prerogative.

John Gibbon, “The Nature of Justification Opened,” in Puritan Sermons 1659-1689: Being The Morning Exercises at Cripplegate, St. Giles in the Fields, and in Southwark by Seventy-Five Ministers of the Gospel (Wheaton, ILL.: Richard Owen Roberts Publishers, 1981), 5:321-323; see also, [John] Gibbons, The Nature of Justification Opened in a Sermon on Romans V.1 (London: Printed for Tho. Parkhurst, at the Bible and the Three Crowns in Cheapside, near Mercer’s-Chappel, 1695), 26-29.[Some spelling modernized; italics original; Greek transliterated; footnote value modernized and content original; and underlining mine.]

[Note: Gibbon was probably a moderate Calvinist, though at this point this cannot be known with absolute certainty.]

[Credit to Tony for the find.]


1“Hence, O far hence, flee, ye profane!”–Edit.

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