1. The commission of Christ to his minsters is to preach the Gospel to every creature. The Gospel is glad tidings, THE GOSPEL OF SALVATION. It will be admitted, that the preaching of this Gospel brings salvation within the reach of everyone that hears it; so far at least within his reach that it is his own fault if he is not saved by it. It will be admitted that sin cannot be forgiven without a ransom. Without the shedding of blood there is no remission. Now let us take an individual case. Suppose: we go to an ignorant and sinful man, and after speaking to him of the work of Jesus Christ, and expounding to him the great doctrines of our faith, His incarnation, His death, His resurrection; we say to him:

This is good news for you. God has said, whosoever believes this shall be saved; if you believe, therefore, you shall be saved.

Do we not here tell him a fact? and suppose we were able to traverse the world and speak the same thing to every individual, we should to each one speak of a fact. In addressing each one we should have asserted a true thing when we said. “If you believe you shall be saved, if not you will be condemned for your unbelief.” But if there were say for whom. Christ did not die–for whom the ransom was not paid, what have we been asserting? We have been telling all that they might be saved. Shall they then be saved by a ransom, by a redemption price? On the supposition stated, for some there was no price laid down; no redemption was wrought. Might they then be saved without a ransom? That were to make void the whole Gospel. The deniers then of the doctrine of general redemption are driven to this dilemma: They make the preaching of the Gospel to assert that as a fact which is not so, which is to make God a liar; or they make void the Gospel by preaching to sinners the possibility of a salvation without a redemption.

It will not be any reply to this to say, that the redemption of Christ, though, not for all, is sufficient for all, and that therefore we are authorized to preach it to all. This would prove too much–for surely then the Gospel must be preached to the fallen spirits themselves. Who can doubt the sufficiency of the blood of God?1 Who can doubt that there was that satisfaction in the sacrifice of Christ which would have rendered it just in God, had he so pleased it, to extend mercy to every fallen creature? Besides, the intrinsic value of a ransom price is altogether distinct from the end for which that ransom price is given. If there are any for whom Christ was no ransom, then, however, great the intrinsic value of his death, or however great the intrinsic worth of his merits, to those individuals it is as though it had never been; and if we say that they may be saved, we do in fact say that there is salvation without redemption; and if we say that they may not be saved, we deny the promise of God, WHICH PROMISE MUST BE TRUE ANTECEDENTLY TO THE FA1TH OR UNBELIEF OF MEN–true because it is the promise of God, and antecedently true because otherwise it could not be the object of faith.

William Dodsworth, General Redemption and Limited Salvation (London: James Nisbet, 1831), 23-27. [Some minor reformatting; italics; footnote value modernized and footnote original; emphasis original; and underlining mine.]

[Note: While it is true that later Dodsworth became a Tractarian, this early work reflects his moderate and evangelical Calvinism. For more on this topic, however, see my extended essay here.]


1Acts xx. 28.

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