7
Oct

Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758) on the Death of Christ

   Posted by: CalvinandCalvinism   in For Whom did Christ Die?

Edwards:

Particular Redemption:

Miscellanies:

1) 21. Limited Atonement. God did not intend to save those, by the death of Christ, that he knew, from all eternity, he should not save by his death. If he intended to save any, it was those he knew would be saved.

2) 424. Atonement Is Sufficient. Christ did die for all in this sense: that all by his death have an opportunity of being saved. He had that design in dying that they should have that opportunity by it, for it is a thing that God designed that all men should have such an opportunity, or they would not have it, and they have it by the death of Christ. This however is no designing of the atonement but only for the preservation of their being. Paul uses the term in a similar way in 1 Tim. 4:10, “For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.

3) These earnest prayers and strong cries of Christ to the Father in his agony, show the greatness of his love to sinners. For, as has been shown, these strong cries of Jesus Christ were what he offered up to God as a public person, in the capacity of high priest, and in the behalf of those who priest he was. When he offered up his sacrifice for sinners whom he had loved from eternity, he withal offered up earnest prayers. His strong cries, his tears, and his blood were all offered up together to God, and they were all offered up for the same end, for the glory of God in the salvation of the elect. They were all offered up for the same persons, viz. for his people. For them he shed his blood in that bloody sweat, when it fell down in clotted lumps to the ground. And for them he so earnestly cried to God at the same time. It was that the will of God might be done in the success of his sufferings, in the success of that blood, in the salvation of those for whom that blood was shed, and therefore this strong crying shows his strong love. It shows how greatly he desired the salvation of sinners. He cried to God that he might not sink and fail in that great undertaking, because if he did so, sinners could not be saved, but all must perish. [Banner of Truth, Christ’s Agony, in Works vol, 2, p., 875.]

Redemption of Mankind:

1) Section I. Wonderful things done, by which salvation is procured

We will consider the choice of the person to be our redeemer. When God designed the redemption of mankind, his great wisdom appears in that he pitched upon his own, his only-begotten, Son, to be the person to perform the work. He was a redeemer of God’s own choosing, and therefore he is called in Scripture, God’s elect (Isa. 42:1). The wisdom of choosing this person to be the redeemer, appears in his being every way a fit person for this undertaking. It was necessary that the person that is the redeemer should be a divine person.—None but a divine person was sufficient for this great work. The work is infinitely unequal to any creature. It was requisite that the redeemer of sinners should be himself infinitely holy. None could take away the infinite evil of sin, but one that infinitely far from and contrary to sin himself. Christ is a fit person upon this account. [Jonathan Edwards, “The Wisdom of God, Displayed on the Way of Salvation,” in Works, Banner of Truth, vol, 2, p., 142.]

Christ came to redeem the whole world:

1) From these things it will inevitably follow, that however Christ in some sense may be said to die for all, and to redeem all visible Christians, yea, the whole world, by his death; yet there must be something particular in the design of his death, with respect to such as he intended should actually be saved thereby. As appears by what has been now shown, God has the actual salvation or redemption of a certain number in his proper absolute design, and of a certain number only; and therefore such a design only can be prosecuted in anything God does, in order to the salvation of men. God pursues a proper design of the salvation of the elect in giving Christ to die, and prosecutes such a design with respect to no other, most strictly speaking; for it is impossible, that God should prosecute any other design than only such as he has. He certainly does not, in the highest propriety and strictness of speech, pursue a design that he has not. And, indeed, such a particularity and limitation of redemption will as infallibly follow, from the doctrine of God’s foreknowledge, as from that of the decree. For it is as impossible, in strictness of speech, that God should prosecute a design, or aim at a thing, which he at the same time most perfectly knows will not be accomplished, as that he should use endeavors for that which is beside his decree. Freedom of the Will, Part 4, Section 14, Conclusion, pp., 328-329 [Soli Deo Gloria Publications].

Sufficient atonement for the sins of the world:

1) On the Sabbath-day she was so ill, that her friends thought it best that she should not go to public worship, of which she seemed very desirous: but when she went to bed on the Sabbath night, she took up a resolution, that she would the next morning go to the minister, hoping to find some relief there. As she awakened on Monday morning, a little before day, she wondered within herself at the easiness and calmness she felt in her mind, which was of that kind she never felt before. As she thought of this, such words as these were in her mind: The words of the Lord are pure words, health to the soul, and marrow to the bones: and then these words, The blood of Christ cleanses from all sin; which were accompanied with a lively sense of the excellency of Christ, and his sufficiency to satisfy for the sins of the whole world. She then thought of that expression, It is a pleasant thing for the eyes to behold the sun; which words then seemed to her to be very applicable to Jesus Christ. By these things her mind was led into such contemplations and views of Christ, as filled her exceeding full of joy. She told her brother, in the morning, that she had seen (i.e. in realizing views by faith) Christ the last night, and that she had really thought that she had not knowledge enough to be converted; but, says she, God can make it quite easy! On Monday she felt all day a constant sweetness in her soul. She had a repetition of the same discoveries of Christ three mornings together, and much in the same manner, at each time, waking a little before day; but brighter and brighter every day. [Jonathan Edwards, Narrative of Surprising Conversions” Works, Banner of Truth, vol, 1, sect., 3, p., 360].

2) First, God can, without prejudice to the glory of any of his attributes, bestow salvation on any of the children of men, except on those who have committed the sin against the Holy Ghost. The case was thus when man fell, and before God revealed his eternal purpose and plan for redeeming men by Jesus Christ. It was probably looked upon by the angels as a thing utterly inconsistent with God’s attributes to save any of the children of men. It was utterly inconsistent with the honor of the divine attributes to save any one of the fallen children of men, as they were in themselves. It could not have been done had not God contrived a way consistent with the honor of his holiness, majesty, justice, and truth. But since God in the gospel has revealed that nothing is too hard for him to do, nothing beyond the reach of his power, and wisdom, and sufficiency; and since Christ has wrought out the work of redemption, and fulfilled the law by obeying, there is none of mankind whom he may not save without any prejudice to any of his attributes, excepting those who have committed the sin against the Holy Ghost. And those he might have saved without going contrary to any of his attributes, had he not been pleased to declare that he would not. It was not because he could not have saved them consistently with his justice, and consistently with his law, or because his attribute of mercy was not great enough, or the blood of Christ not sufficient to cleanse from that sin. [Jonathan Edwards, “God’s Sovereignty in Men’s Salvation,” in Works, Banner of Truth, vol, 2, p., 850.]

3) In this also Christ appeared gloriously above the guilt of men. For he offered a sacrifice that was sufficient to do away all the guilt of the whole world. Though the guilt of man was like the great mountains, whose heads are lifted up to the heavens; yet his dying love, and his merits, appeared as a mighty deluge that overflowed the highest mountains, or like a boundless ocean that swallows them up, or like an immense fountain of light that with the fullness and redundancy of its brightness, swallows up men’s greatest sins, as little motes are swallowed up and hidden in the disk of the sun. In this Christ appeared above all the corruption of man, in that hereby he purchased holiness for the chief of sinners. And Christ in undergoing such extreme affliction, got the victory over all misery; and laid a foundation for its being utterly abolished, with respect to his elect. In dying he became the plague and destruction of death. When death slew him, it slew itself. For Christ, through death, destroyed him that had the power of death, even the devil (Heb. 2:14). By this he laid the foundation of the glorious resurrection of all his people to an immortal life. [Jonathan Edwards, “Christ Exalted,” in Works, Banner of Truth, vol, 2, p., 215.]

Atonement for the sins of the world:

1) Miscellanies, 781. CHRIST’S MEDIATION. The WISDOM of God in the WORK OF REDEMPTION. How God gathers together in one all things in Christ. Christ God-man is not only Mediator between God and sinful men, but he acts as a middle person between all other persons, and all intelligent beings, that all things may be gathered together in one in him, agreeable to Ephesians 1:10. He is the middle person between the other two divine persons, and acts as such in the affair of our redemption, as has been shown, No. 772. Though he isn’t properly a mediator between God and angels, yet he acts in many respects as a middle person between them; so that all that eternal life, glory, and blessedness that they are possessed of, is by his mediety. And he is a kind of mediator between one man and another, to make peace between them; as he reconciles God and man together, by his blood, and by his Word, and by his Spirit, so by the same he reconciles one man to another. He reconciles one man to another by his blood, by taking away all just cause one can have to hate another-for what is indeed hateful in them, and for which they deserve to be hated of both God and man-by suffering for it fully as much as it deserves; so that what the hatred of both God and man desires, is here fully accomplished in a punishment fully proportionable to the hatefulness of the crime. Were it not that the sins of men are already fully punished in the sufferings of Christ, all, both angels and men, might justly hate all sinners for their sins. For appearing as they are in themselves, they are indeed infinitely hateful, and could appear no otherwise to any than as they are in themselves, had not another been substituted for them; and therefore, they must necessarily appear hateful to all that saw things as they be. It is impossible for any to hate a crime as a crime or fault, without desiring that it should be punished. For he that hates sin is thereby an enemy to it, and therefore necessarily is inimical or inclined to act against it, that it may suffer or to see it suffer; and if we impute men’s sins to them, i.e. if we look on the hatefulness of their sins as their hatefulness, we necessarily hate them, and are inclined that the sufferings that we desire for their sins, should be their sufferings.

But now Christ has suffered for the sins of the world, we ought to hate no man, because there is room to hope that Christ has suffered and satisfied for his sins; and therefore, we should endeavor to bring him to Christ. A right consideration of Christ’s sufferings for the sins of others is enough to satisfy all just indignation against them for their sins. When once the saints and angels come to know certainly that Christ has not satisfied for any man’s sin, they will hate them, and will rejoice in their infernal and eternal sufferings, which they will see to be no more than in proportion to the hatefulness of their sins. So that Christ by his sufferings has in a sense made propitiation for men’s sins not only with God, but with their fellow creatures; and so by his obedience, he recommends them not only to the favor of God, but of one another. For Christ’s righteousness is exceeding amiable to all men and angels that see it aright, and Christ himself is amiable to them on that account; and it renders all that they look upon to be in him amiable in their eyes, to consider ‘em as members of so amiable an head, as we naturally love the children of those that we have a very dear love to. Christ by his death also has laid a foundation for peace and love among enemies, in that therein he has done two things; first, in setting the most marvelous, affecting example of love to enemies, an example in an instance wherein we are most nearly concerned, for we ourselves are those enemies that he has manifested such love to. And second, he has done the greatest thing to engage us to love him, and so to follow his example, for the examples of such as we have a strong love to have a most powerful influence upon us. And again, as Christ unites mankind with the Father, by being the bond of union between them, as the third person in whom both are united (for the Father and he from eternity are one); and therefore, by making sinful men one with himself, as he does by three things, viz. by substituting himself in their stead from eternity, and by taking on their nature, and bringing them home to an union of hearts, and vital union: I say, by thus bringing them to himself he unites them to the Father. So also he unites mankind one to another by being a middle being in which all are united: for he brings and unites ‘em all to himself as in their head; and thereby, without more ado, they become nearly related and closely united one to another, for they become members of the same body. And again as Christ reconciles man to the Father by his Word, preaching the word of reconciliation, and powerfully drawing and uniting their hearts to God by his Spirit, so he also unites them one to another. He by his Word and Spirit, as it were, does the part of an intercessor between them. Christ was a mediator between the Jews and Gentiles to reconcile them together, breaking down the middle wall of partition; and he also unites men and angels. He unites angels to men by the following things: by taking away their guilt by his blood, and suffering for that which otherwise would necessarily have rendered them hateful to the angels; and by taking away sin itself by sanctification; and by rendering those that are so much inferior to them in their natures, honorable in their eyes, and worthy that they should be ministering spirits going forth to minister to them; by his taking their nature upon him, and by dying for them, and uniting them to be members of himself; and by setting them such a wonderful example, manifesting God’s and his own eternal transcendent love to them by the great things he did and suffered for them; and by being an intermediate person as a bond and head of union, being a common head to each, in which both are united; and by confirming their hearts by his Spirit against all pride, which was the thing that caused such an alienation between the angels that fell and man, so that they could not endure to be ministering spirits to him, which was the occasion of their fall.”

2) Miscellanies, 1226 The Justice of God. “If pardon and salvation are designed for the world, it is altogether meet that they should be proclaimed and promised. If they are not proclaimed and promised, there will be no sufficient assurance of them. Patience is not pardon, forbearance is not forgiveness, and if the divine patience administer some hope, yet the judgments of God upon the world will suggest as much anxiety and dread. And so, through fear of death and destruction, the self-conscious mind must be all its time subject to terror and bondage. If it be so hard for a sensible mind, now upon a public proclamation and promise to believe the forgiveness of sins, it would be much more difficult to believe it without any such security.

If pardon and salvation must be publicly proclaimed and promised to the guilty world, there will be an impediment or bar laid against it by the divine purity and justice. What sort of a Deity must that be that has an equal respect to good and evil? Universal rectitude requires that equity and equitable laws should be maintained and executed in the territories that are to be governed. That there is vindictive justice in God seems evident from the following:

1. From the excellency and perfection of his nature by which he must hate all moral turpitude and all the workers of iniquity.

2. From his jealousy and concern for his own glory by which he will be displeased with all that is contrary thereto.

3. By the judgments which are continually executed in and upon the world for transgression and sometimes by such special judgments that have been an evident retaliation or have marked out the sin in the punishment.

4. By the dictate of natural conscience that often trembles upon the commission of great enormities and expects that great transgressions should meet with some signal token of divine vengeance. When the barbarians saw the venomous animal hanging on Paul’s hand, they concluded him some great criminal, whom though he had escaped from the rage of the sea, yet vengeance would not suffer to live.

5. By the offense which men usually take at divine providence, when it permits men to proceed and prosper in their notorious villanies.

6. By the early and universal practice of propitiatory sacrifices in the world. If they were at first instituted by God, then God would have an acknowledgment of our sin and his righteous displeasure in the atonement that was made him. If they were voluntarily taken up and practiced by men, there is an indication of mind and conscience that some deference must be paid to divine justice and that to such a degree that they were sometimes ready in their ungoverned imaginations to sacrifice the fruit of their body for the sin of their soul.

The righteousness of God being this evident in itself and acknowledged by the world that if man was to be pardoned by public edict and covenant, it was altogether congruous thereto that there should be some great valuable sacrifice slain and offered to God for the sin of the world. It was meet that there should be a public demonstration of the holiness and purity of God and of his hatred of sin, that the world may not be tempted to abuse his goodness and presume upon his mercy. It is meet that his dominion and authority should be supported that had been so rejected by the world, that his law, the rule of his government, should be asserted and maintained, that his honor and glory, after so much contempt and disgrace as the impious world had cast upon him, should be raised up and illustrated, that the pardoning edict, being founded in sacred blood, should be established and ratified, and that by a joint demonstration of justice and love, the world may be driven from sin and drawn to repentance and God. And here divine wisdom shines in reconciling righteousness and grace together and accomplishing our salvation in the way and method of an eternal redemption.

This sacrifice should be valuable above all created excellence and power. There is a world of most aggravated heinous offenses to be atoned for. It is an infinite majesty that has been offended. It is an infinite justice that is to be propitiated. It is an infinite impunity, an exemption from an endless punishment, an advancement to an endless felicity, that is to be procured. All that intelligent creation can do for the Creator is due to him on its own account. Let all the intelligent creatures take heed to themselves that they do not, by their own fault, fall under the displeasure of God. His majesty and justice may despise their interposition on the behalf of an apostatized, sinful world.” Religion of Jesus Delineated, p 135, etc.

3) Fifth, what was the success of this prayer of Christ? To this I answer, He obtained all his requests. The apostle says, “He was heard in that he feared;” in all that he feared. He obtained strength and help from God, all that he needed, and was carried through. He was enabled to do and to suffer the whole will of God; and he obtained the whole of the end of his sufferings — a full atonement for the sins of the whole world, and the full salvation of every one of those who were given him in the covenant of redemption, and all that glory to the name of God, which his mediation was designed to accomplish, not one jot or tittle has failed. Herein Christ in his agony was above all others Jacob’s antitype, in his wrestling with God for a blessing; which Jacob did, not as a private person, but as the head of his posterity, the nation of Israel, and by which he obtained that commendation of God, “As a prince thou hast power with God;” and therein was a type of him who was the Prince of princes. [Jonathan Edwards, Christ’s “Agony,” in Works, Banner of Truth, vol, 2, p., 874.]

4) Second, that the satisfaction of Christ is as sufficient for the removal of the greatest guilt, as the least. 1 John 1:7, “The blood of Christ cleanseth from all sin.” Acts 13:39, “By him all that believe are justified from all things from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.” All the sins of those who truly come to God for mercy, let them be what they will, are satisfied for, if God be true who tells us so; and if they be satisfied for, surely it is not incredible, that God should be ready to pardon them. So that Christ having fully satisfied for all sin, or having wrought out a satisfaction that is sufficient for all, it is now no way inconsistent with the glory of the divine attributes to pardon the greatest sins of those who in a right manner come unto him for it. — God may now pardon the greatest sinners without any prejudice to the honor of his holiness. The holiness of God will not suffer him to give the least countenance to sin, but inclines him to give proper testimonies of his hatred of it. But Christ having satisfied for sin, God can now love the sinner, and give no countenance at all to sin, however great a sinner he may have been. It was a sufficient testimony of God’s abhorrence of sin, that he poured out his wrath on his own dear Son, when he took the guilt of it upon himself. Nothing can more show God’s abhorrence of sin than this. If all mankind had been eternally damned, it would not have been so great a testimony of it.

God may, through Christ, pardon the greatest sinner without any prejudice to the honor of his majesty. The honor of the divine majesty indeed requires satisfaction. But the sufferings of Christ fully repair the injury. Let the contempt be ever so great, yet if so honorable a person as Christ undertakes to be a Mediator for the offender, and suffers so much for him, it fully repairs the injury done to the Majesty of heaven and earth. The sufferings of Christ fully satisfy justice. The justice of God, as the supreme Governor and Judge of the world, requires the punishment of sin. The supreme Judge must judge the world according to a rule of justice. God doth not show mercy as a judge, but as a sovereign. Therefore his exercise of mercy as a sovereign, and his justice as a judge, must be made consistent one with another; and this is done by the sufferings of Christ, in which sin is punished fully, and justice answered. Rom. 3:25, 26, “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time, his righteousness; that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus:” — The law is no impediment in the way of the pardon of greatest sin, if men do but truly come to God for mercy. For Christ hath fulfilled the law, he hath borne the curse of it, in his sufferings. Gal. 3:13, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us; for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.” [Jonathan Edwards, “Great Guilt No obstacle to the Pardon of the Returning Sinner,” in Works, Banner of Truth, vol, 2, pp., 111-112.] Not dated. Probably written before 1733

5) The Life of David Brainerd:

PART VIII AFTER HIS RETURN FROM HIS LAST JOURNEY TO SUSQUEHANNAH, UNTIL HIS DEATH
1746, 1747

Lord’s Day, October 5 Was still very weak. In the morning, considerably afraid I should not be able to go through the work of the day and I had much to do, both in private and public. Discoursed before the administration of the sacrament from John 1:29, “Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world.” Where I considered:

I. In what respects Christ is called the Lamb of God, and observed that He is so called (1) from the purity and innocency of His nature; (2) from His meekness and patience under sufferings; (3) from His being that atonement which was pointed out in the sacrifice of lambs, and in particular by the paschal lamb.

II. How and in what sense He “takes away the sin of the world:” not because all the world shall actually be redeemed from sin by Him, but because (1) He has done and suffered sufficient to answer for the sins of the world, and so to redeem all mankind; (2) He actually does take away the sins of the elect world. [Jonathan Edwards, ‘The Life of David Brainerd” in Works, Banner of Truth, vol, 2, pp., 374.]

This entry was posted on Sunday, October 7th, 2007 at 6:46 am and is filed under For Whom did Christ Die?. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

Comments are closed at this time.