Consideration V. This seems to be a fair and easy way to answer several of those texts of Scripture, which represent God ass the Saviour of all men, especially of them who believe; 1 Tim. iv. 10; and assert, that God calls and commands all men every where to repent; Acts xvii. 30; that Christ tasted death for every man; Heb. ii. 9; that he gave himself a ransom for all men, to be testified in due time; 1 Tim. ii. 6; that he died for all; 2 Cor. v. 15 ; that he gave himself to be the propitiation for the sins of the whole world; 1 John ii. 2; and the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world; chapter iv. 14; and that God so loved the world of mankind, that he sent his Son, not to condemn the world, but that through him the world might be saved; and that whosoever believes in his Son Jesus, should not perish, but should have eternal life; John iii. 16, 17.

I grant indeed, that many of these Scriptures may have a Pretty sufficient answer given to them by the art of criticism, even upon the supposition that salvation is provided only for the elect; but there are some few of those Scriptures, and of their parallel places, which can never be so well explained, but by supposing the death of Christ has such an all-sufficient and overflowing merit in it, as to provide a sufficient conditional pardon, and conditional salvation, for the non-elect, while it also provides absolute, effectual, and certain pardon and salvation for those whom God has elected.

It seems evident to me from several texts of the word of God, that Christ did not die with an equal design for all men; but that there is a special number whom the Father chose and gave to the Son, whose salvation is absolutely secured by the death and intercession of Christ; John xvii. 6, 9, 10. But why should this hinder our interpretation of some other texts in a more general and catholic sense, where the love of God and Christ to mankind, are expressed in more universal phrases and terms Why should we affect to limit that grace which is expressed in an unlimited form of speech? Why may me not suppose conditional pardon and conditional salvation, and the offers of the gospel, and the means of grace, which are necessary to it, to be the purchase of the death of Christ, since the death of so glorious a person has such an exuberant value in it, and such all-sufficient merit; and especially since it is allowed to superabound so far as to purchase the continuance of the world, and common blessings of life for mankind.

Here let it be observed, that when the remonstrants assert, that Christ died for all mankind, merely to purchase conditional salvation for them, and when those1 who profess to be the strictest calvinists assert Christ died only and merely to procure absolute and effectual pardon and salvation for the elect ; it is not because the whole Scripture every where expressly or plainly reveals, or asserts, the particular sentiments of either of these sects, with an exclusion of the other; but the reason of these different assertions of men is this, that the holy writers, in different texts, pursuing .different subjects, and speaking to different persons, sometimes seem to favour each of these two opinions,2 and men being at a loss to reconcile them by any medium, run into different extremes, and entirely follow one of these tracks of thought, and neglect the other.

But surely, if there can be a way found to reconcile these two doctrines of the absolute salvation of the elect, by the obedience, righteousness, and death of Christ, procuring it for them, with all things necessary to the possession of it, and also of the conditional salvation provided for all mankind, and offered to them in the gospel, through the all-sufficient and overflowing value of the obedience and sufferings of Christ; this will be the most fair, natural, and easy way of reconciling these different texts of Scripture, without any strain or torture put upon any of them.

Nor indeed can I conceive why the remonstrant should be uneasy to have pardon and salvation absolutely provided for the elect, since all the rest of mankind, especially such as hear the gospel, have the same conditional salvation which they contend for, sincerely proposed to their acceptance; nor can I see any reason, why the strictest calvinist should be angry, that the all sufficient merit of Christ should overflow so far in its influence, as to provide conditional salvation for all mankind, since the elect of God have that certain and absolute salvation, which they contend for, secured to them by the same merit; and especially since that great and admirable reformer, John Calvin, whose name they affect to wear, and to whose authority they pay so great a regard, has so plainly declared in his writings, that there is a sense in which Christ died for the sins of the whole world, or all mankind ; and he sometimes goes so far as to call this the redemption of all. See his comments on the following Scriptures.3

Matt. xxvi. 28, This is my blood of the New Testament, which was shed for many for the remission of sins. “Sub multorum nomine non partem mundi tantum designat, sed totum humanum genus.” Under the name of many, he signifies not a part of the world only, but all mankind.

Rom. v. 18, As by the offence of one, judgment came upon all to condemnation, so by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men to justification of life.” Communem omnium gratiam facit quia omnibus exposita est, non quod ad omnes extendatur re ipsl: Nam et si passus est Christus pro peccatis totius mundi, atque omnibus indifferenter Dei benignitate offertur, non tamen omnes apprehendunt.” He makes this grace common to all, because it is set before all, though not really and in fact, reached out to all. For though Christ suffered for the sins of the whole world, and he is offered indifferently to all by the bounty of God, yet all do not receive him.

1 Cor. viii. 11, 12, Through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? On which Calvin remarks thus: “If the soul of every weak person was the purchase of the blood of Christ, he that for the sake of a little meat, plunges his brother again into death, who was redeemed by Christ, shews at how mean a rate he esteems the blood of Christ.”

1 John ii. 2, He is the propitiation for our sins ; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. “Hic movetur quaestio, quomodo mundi totius peccata expientur?–aliqui dixerunt–Sufficienter pro toto mundo passum esse Christum, sed pro electis tantum eficaciter. Vulgo haec solutio in scholis obtenuit: Ego quanquam veruln esse illud dictumi fateor, nego tamen pivaesenti loco quadrare.” Here a question is raised, How can the sins of the whlole world be expiated? Some have said Christ suffered sufficiently for the w.hole world, but effectually for the elect alone. This is the common solution of the schools: And though I confess this is a truth, yet I do not think it agrees to this place.

2 Pet. ii. 1, There shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. “Tamtesi variis modis abnegatur Christus, eum tamen hic, meo judicio, attingit Petrus, qui exprimitur apud Judam : Nempe, dum gratia Dei in lasciviam convertitur. Redemit enim nos Christus, ut populnm haberet segregatum ab omnibus mundi inquinamentis, addictum sanctitati et innocentiae. Qui igitur excusso fraeno, in omnem licentiam se projiciunt, non immerito dicuntur Christum abnegare, A quo redemptii sunt.” That is, though Christ is denied many ways, yet, in my opinion, Peter means the same thing here, which Jude expresses, viz, that the grace of God is tuned into wantonness: For Christ hath redeemed us, that he might have a people free from all the defilements of the world, and devoted to holiness and innocence. Whosoever, therefore, shake off the yoke, and throw themselves into all licentiousness, are justly said to, deny Christ, .by whom they were redeemed.

Jude verse 4, Turning the grace of our God into wantonness, and denying the only Lord God, and Jesus Christ our Lord. “Christum vero abnegari intelligit, quum hi qui sanguine illius redempti fuerant, diabolo se rursus mancipantes, incomparabile illud pretium quantum in se irritum faciunt.” The apostle here means that Christ is denied, when those who were redeemed with his blood, again enslave themselves to the devil, and, as far as in them lies, make that incomparable price vain and ineffectual.

Thus it appears that Calvin himself thought that Christ and his salvation are offered to all, and that in some sense he died for all.

Isaac Watts, “The Ruin and Recovery of Mankind,” in The Works of the Reverend and Learned Isaac Watts, D.D., (NY: AMS Press, Inc., 1971), 6:151-154.

[Notes: 1) Watts is wrong when he says Calvin’s mature position is expressed in his commentaries, while his expressions in his Institutes reflect his less than mature thought. All that can be said is that in his commentaries, letters, sermons and tracts, Calvin is by far more expressive on this point than he is in his Institutes; 2) This post should not be taken an affirmation of Watts’ Christology and other doctrines wherein his expressions may have been less than orthodox.]

1I say, those who profess to be the strictest calvinists; not that they do really come nearest to Calvin’s sentiments and language; for Calvin himself has frequently intimated, in his Comments on Scripture, that Christ did in some sense die for all men. Set the end of this Fifth Consideration.
2This is a most evident truth, that Scripture, in different parts of it, seems by its expressions to favour each of these opinions ; otherwise it could sever be, that the writers of the different parties should each of them bring so many texts to support and vindicate their own sentiments, and which plainly give so much difficultly and perplexity to the writers of the opposite side to answer them.
3It may be proper to observe here, that some of the most rigid and narrow limitations of grace to men are found chiefly in his Institutions, which were written in his youth. But his Comments on Scripture were the labours of his riper years and maturer

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