But what is the general purport of this commission? Let us hear the word of God: “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.” “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life. “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.”–”His blood is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole world.” John i. 29, iii. 16–20. 1 Tim. i. 15, ii. 5, 6. Had the penmen of the Scriptures been as scrupulously careful to prevent even the appearance of deviating from exact systematical consistency, as many moderns are, they would never have thus expressed themselves.–For my part I dare not use any of the above-mentioned arts of criticism, to narrow the obvious sense of these and similar texts: and as I nope this day, previously to receiving and administering the Lord’s Supper, to use the following terms in solemn prayer, Christ “by his own oblation of himself once offered, made a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world;”1 I would no more contradict this solemn profession from the pulpit, than I would preach against the seventeenth article respecting predestination.–The compilers of our Liturgy evidently thought both true, and consistent with each other; and I am happy to coincide in sentiment with these venerable characters.2 It will appear that none but the elect can eventually be benefitted by the death of Christ; yet there is a sense, of vast importance, in which it may be properly said, and the Holy Spirit hath expressly said, that “his blood is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world.”

The principal, though not the only object of Christ’s appearing in human nature, and living so many years a holy sufferer, and dying in unknown agonies on the cross, was to ” bring in everlasting righteousness, and to make propitiation for iniquity;” as preparatory to his mediatory office in heaven, and his intercession for sinners. The perfection of his arduous obedience, and the intenseness of his complicated sufferings, were doubtless of indispensable necessity, and of vast efficacy, in this plan of redemption: yet it was the union of the Deity with the Man Christ Jesus, in one mysterious person, which stamped its full value on this sacrifice for sin. But can any man, who believes the real Deity of Christ, hesitate to pronounce it an infinite random? Infinite honor was given to the divine law by his obedience, and infinite satisfaction made to divine justice by his atoning sacrifice.3 And through this infinite sufficiency, that hindrance, which arose from the perfect holiness and righteousness of God, and the inconceivable demerit of sin, is once for all entirely removed; so that it would be no impeachment of the purity of the divine character, no deduction from the honor of the law, and no abatement of the horror and hatred which we ought to conceive against sin; should God through Christ pardon all the sinners who now live, or who ever shall live, on earth.

Thomas Scott, ‘The Doctrines of Election and Final Perseverance,” in The Theological Works of the Rev. Thomas Scott, (Edinburgh: Peter Brown and Thomas Nelson, 1830), 143-144. [Some spelling modernized; footnote values modernized; italics original; and underlining mine.]


11. “I learn, to believe in God the Father, who hath made me and all the world.”

2. “In God the Son, who hath redeemed me and all mankind.”

3. “In God the Holy Ghosts who sanctifies me and all the elect people of God.” (Church Catechism.) Here Election is supposed to be connected immediately with sanctification, not with redemption; and this appears to me most evidently the scriptural way of stating the subject; though it differs in some measure from many Calvinist creeds and systems.

“Christ was crucified to reconcile his Father to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for the actual sins of men.” (2nd Article.)

“The offering of Christ, once made. Is that perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction, for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual.” (31st Article)

Hence it appears, that this was the deliberate judgment of our venerable reformers: and that it is the standard doctrine of our established church.

2It is very well worthy of observation, that the Liturgy of the Church of England, though compiled by known Calvinists, is most pointedly opposite to every degree and species of Antinomianism. The conclusion of the general Thanksgiving, a great part of the Litany, and innumerable other passages, might be adduced in illustration of this remark. But the Collect for the day, when this Sermon was preached, is directly apposite to the subject, that I shall insert a part of it –” Stir up? Lord, we beseech then, the wills of thy faithful people, that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of these be plenteously rewarded.”– It hath been much wondered how Socinians, Arians, or Arminians, can subscribe our articles, or use our Liturgy: and it must be at least equally surprising, if any Antinomians can do cither the one or the other.

3Even Calvin himself writes thus: ” He,” (the apostle) ‘makes it the common grace of all men, because it is promised to all, not because it is actually extended to all. For although Christ suffered for the sins of the whole world; and is offered indiscriminately to all men by the goodness of God; yet all do not Apprehend him.” (Rom. v. 18.) And again, “Christ suffered sufficiently for the whole world: but efficaciously only for the elect” (1 John ii. 2.)–Indeed, if human authority avails any thing, it would he easy to add once abundant evidence from the most respectable Calvinist divines.

To this it is objected, that it does not consist with the justice of God that any should perish for whom Christ died. It is allowed that Christ in dying for sinners intended to save none but those who eventually shall be saved. In respect of this intention, he says, “his blood was shed for many for the remission of fins:” and “he gave his life a ransom for many.” Yet in paying this ransom, there was not barely a sufficient atonement made for them, but as it were a redundancy of merit sufficient even for the sins of all men: and in respect of this sufficiency, he is said to “give himself a ransom for all;” and be “a propitiation for the sins of the whole world.” Peter, therefore, scruples not to speak of those “who deny the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction;” and Paul of “destroying those for whom Christ died.” It might be expected that systematical expositors would find out other interpretations of all these testimonies; but the question is, whether their interpretations are natural and obvious, and such as they would deem admissible in different circumstances.

The idea of Christ paying exactly so much for one, and so much for another, and so much for each; and then adding the sums together, and forming a large limited sum, just sufficient to ransom the elects appears unscriptural and gives a degrading view of the glorious subject. An all-sufficient atonement was made at once, and an immeasurable fullness of mercy and grace is treasured up in Christ to be communicated, according to the eternal purpose and counsel of God. Every believer receives from this fullness; others remain under condemnation, not through defect of merit in Christ, but through their own impenitency and unbelief.

Credit to Tony for the find

This entry was posted on Tuesday, December 15th, 2009 at 12:44 pm and is filed under Pre- and Post-20th Century Historiography on Calvin on the Extent of the Atonement. 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.