The earlier reformers adopted general language on the subject. They held that “the redemption procured by the death at Christ was, proposed and offered to all, but apprehended by, and applied to, only those who believe.” Melancthon says in his Loci Communes “On the promises of the gospel,” “Reconciliation is offered and promised to all mankind,” and quotes John iii. 16. Calvin, when commenting on this passage says, “He has put an universal mark both that he might invite all, men promiscuously to the participation of life, and that he might leave the unbelieving without excuse.” “He shows himself to be propitious to the whole world, since he calls all without exception to believe in Christ.” On Romans v. 18, he says, “He makes grace common to all, because it is set before all, not because it is actually extended to all, for although Christ suffered for the sins of the whole world, and through the goodness of God is offered to all indifferently, yet all do not apprehend him.” Bullinger, in his 28th sermon, on Revelations v. says, “The Lord died for all; ‘but all are not partakers of redemption, through their own fault.” Zanchius, one of the highest of Predestinarians, says, “It is not false that Christ died for all men as it regards his conditional will, that is, if they are willing to become partaken of his death through faith; for the death of Christ is set before all in the gospel, and no one is excluded from it but it who excludes himself.” In the opinion of Davenant, who was deeply. conversant in that ‘kind of Literature,–the early reformers,–“so explained the ‘doctrine of election and reprobation, that they might not infringe the universality of the redemption accomplished by the death of Christ.’

John Brown (of Broughton), “Notes, Chiefly Historical, on the Question Respecting the Extent of the Reference of the Death of Christ,” United Secession Magazine, June (1841): 286. [Some reformatting; some spelling modernized; and underlining mine.]

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