Richard Baxter (1615-1691) on Hebrews 10:26-29

   Posted by: CalvinandCalvinism   in Hebrews 10:26 & 29


The 7th text, which I shall urge is, Heb. 10. 26, 27, 28, 29.

For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the Truth, there remains no more Sacrifice for sins, but certain fearful looking for of judgment, and fiery, indignation, which shall devour the Adversaries. He that despised Moses Law, died without mercy, under two or three Witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under Foot the Son of God, and hath counted the Blood of the Covenant wherewith he was Sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite to the Spirit of Grace?

Hence I raise two Arguments

1. Those who receive the mercies here mentioned are of the number of them for whom Christ died. But such are some Non-elect, Ergo, &c. The Blood of the Covenant is shed before it is sprinkled, or Sanctifies (shed physically or morally) and it cannot sanctify Men, before it is shed for them. For Sanctification, being some degree of application, presupposes It shed for them: I mean, If by Sanctification, be meant, either separation relative from the World to the Church, and to Christ secundum quid: Or else Sanctification real, by giving Men a temporary Faith and other Graces proportionable, and their escaping the pollutions of the World by that Faith. But some think that by Sanctification is meant that cleansing which immediately followed the Sacrifice (the word being used from the Jewish Sanctifyings;) and so by Sanctification, should be meant due conditional justification, or Cleansing which all Men have immediately from Christ crucified before any further personal application. And if this be so, then the Case is plain and past question.

The 2nd argument is from those words [there remains no more Sacrifice for sins, but, &c.] Here the Apostle proves the incurableness and desperateness of their case, in that there remains no more sacrifice: And this is proper to them when they are Apostates. Now if there were never any Sacrifice for their sins; then this reason will prove their case no more desperate since their Apostasy than before; nor will it prove the case of Apostates any more desperate than the case of all wicked Men for whom Christ died not. But that is contrary to the Text. It is either their own sin or the elects’ sin, or same other men’s for whom the Apostle says, there remains no more sacrifice. If other men’s, then that proves not their case any more desperate than it was: For a sacrifice for other men’s sins hinders nor their case from being desperate before: Besides, it is no loss to them to lose the hopes of life by such a sacrifice: For they could be no hopes. But it is mentioned here as their loss, and the sad consequence of their apostasy. If 100 soldiers be taken prisoners by the enemy, and their former prince shall redeem 50 of them by a ransom, and when he hath done shall send to all the 100 to come to him, and be true soldiers again; and hereupon they all come (though not all alike affected to him) and he tells them all [if ever you sleep on your watch and so be taken by the enemy again, or if you forsake my colors and persidiously turn to the enemy, there remains no more ransom for you,] would not any man wonder both how we 50 not ransomed should come out of prison at all? Or why the prince should tell them, There remained no more ransom for them when they were never ransomed at all? Doubtless the Holy Ghost doth not pronounce these apostates to be therefore miserable, because there remained no more sacrifice for other men’s sins: As if you should say to a man in a consumption, there is now no hope of your life, because the physician hath given one effectual receipt to your sick neighbor, and will give him no more.

But if it be acknowledged (as it must be) that the text means, there is no more sacrifice for the sins of these apostates; then it plainly intimates that there was once a sacrifice for their sin till they by rejection, deprived themselves of the benefit of it.

Obj. There was a Sacrifice for their sin before their apostasy.

Ans. 1. And was it not sufficient materially after? Sure according to the opinion of the opponents it was.

2. If it were only sufficient to have been a sacrifice for them, but was not a sacrifice for them at all, (which is their sense;) then their condition was as remediless before their apostasy as after; and then this could be no part of their misery procured by apostasy.

3. The Apostle says not [there remained no more sufficiency for them in the sacrifice] but [there remains no more Sacrifice.]

Obj. They did now fully discover that Christ died not for them, which was never discovered before; and therefore they are more miserable.]

Ans. Then all the inconvenience that apostasy brought on them was but a disclosing of the truth (that they had never any remedy or sacrifice for their sin, a little sooner than it should else have been disclosed. But that’s a far smaller matter than the Apostle intends. And then it should rather be said [there is no more ground left for false hopes and mistakes: All this while you falsely thought Christ died for you, but now because you have denied him, it is disclosed to you that he never died for you.] Indeed this doctrine suits well with the antinomian fancies, which make our love and obedience to Christ to have no more tendency to Salvation than as mere signs and duties.

2. The Text plainly intimates the contrary to what this objection affirms: For it says not [there is no more false conceits of a sacrifice for sin] but [there is no more Sacrifice for sins.]

Obj. It was before offered them by the Word and general conditional promise: But after their apostasy it is offered them no more; and therefore it is said, there is no more sacrifice.

Ans. 1. It cannot be offered to them, with a possibility of their acceptance or benefit, till it be first offered for them to the Father: That which is offered is [a Christ that hath redeemed us; with his benefits] A Christ that hath not redeemed or ransomed us, is a gift that would not save us, if he were offered by God and accepted by us.

1. Indeed Christ’s sacrifice for sin was offered only to the Father, and is not at all offered to us, Christ himself is offered to us, but not as a sacrifice, but as a ransomer, or one that was a sacrifice offered to God for us, and now would be a Head and Husband to us. His benefits also by this sacrifice merited are offered to us, but not the sacrifice it self.

Calvin on the Text saith thus

[Hostiam ergo iis reaiduam else negat qui a Christi morte discedunt; quod non fit particulari aliquo delicto, sed abjecta in totum fide, &c. Nam quum mors Christi unicum sit Remedium quo ab æterna morte liberamur, qui vim illius atque beneficium quantum in se est abolent, nonne digni sunt quibus preter disperationem nihil reliquum fiat? Qui in Christo menent, eas ad quotidianam reconciliationem Deus invitat: Quotidie irrigantur Christii sanguine: Quotidie expiantur eorum peccata perpetuo ejus Sacrificio, si extra cam non est quarenda salus, ne miremur omnes qui eum sponte relinquent, omni spe veniæ privari, &c. Eos igitur solos notat Apostolus qui Christum impiè deferendo mortis ejus beneficio se privant.]

Paræus makes it to he the Apostasy it self that had no sacrifice, [si ab agnita veritate Evangelii ad judaicas hostias malitiose relabantur, nulla eis reliqua sit hostia pro apostasias peccato expiando.] And comparing this Text with Heb. 6. 6. And showing that they speak of the same thing, he shews that this is the punishment of apostates, that [there is no more Sacrifice for sin.] But certainly if there were never any Sacrifice for their sin at all, that could not be as a punishment for their apostacy: Christ did not punish men’s apostasy on the cross by not dying for them, Paræus adds

[Hostiam pro peccato intelligit expiatoriam propter quam Deus placatus remittat eis peccata. Negando hanc reliquam esse Apostatis, negat spem remissionis, veniæ, gratiæ aut salutis ullam eis superesse. Negando enim causam negat affectum: Quæris cur nulla supersit? Quia non est nisi unica Hostia peccatorum expiatrix, nempe Pontificis Christi hactenus longum demonstrata: Hanc vero abjiciunt Apostata. Nulla igatur alia eis est reliqua.]

So that there was a sacrifice remaining to them for their sin, before their apostasy.

Bullinger in loc. says

[Jam vero cum non sit alianisi unæ prosatia[?]1 hostia, illis autem bane[?] unicam contemnant; certè aliam non invenient ullam] Marlorat adds [talibus ergo contemptoribus nulla spes veniæ reliquitur]

So that they had a sacrifice for sin till they apostatized. So Dickson also in loc. Piscator, and many more (for I will name none but who are known to be against universal redemption, lest their exposition be rejected.) To all this I find no more objections of our opponents; but to the first argument which we draw hence they return many words. Which was, both from all those benefits which here apostates are said to partake off which only Christ’s blood hath procured them, and specially in that they are expressly ascribed to Christ’s blood: for they are said to have been sanctified by the blood of the covenant:) Now to this they say (to give you the sense briefly: For if I should recite and answer the maze of words which some here use, I should provoke the reader to throw away all in weariness or loathing.

1. This speaks only of some that were professors of the faith of the Gospel, separated from the world, brought into the Church, &c. but these are not all men.

Ans. Grant that it is some non-elect, and it is as much as I desire from this text. And if that be granted, I think there is few would question but that it is for all the non-elect in the Church that Christ died. And for those that never heard of him (though I am past doubt that Christ satisfied for the sins of all mankind, yet) the use of the point is so small, that I will not contend much: about it with any.

2. They say [the Apostle does neither declare what hath been, nor assert what may be, but only adds a commination upon a supposition of a thing, &c.]

Arg. This I answered before. I’ll stand to the Judgment of almost any learned expositor on this text, though against universal redemption. See Calvin, Beza, Paræus, Piscator, Perkins, Dickson, Bullinger, &c.

3. They say [It is certain that these men made profession of all these things, &c. and therefore the open renouncing them was a sin so heinous as deserved all this commination, though the apostates themselves had never interest in Christ’s blood.

Answ. What’s this to the point? The Text saith, they were sanctified by the blood of the covenant, and not only they professed that they were.

4. They say [it was the manner of the Saints and Apostles themselves, to esteem of all baptized initiated persons, engrafted into the Church as sanctified persons: So that speaking of backsliders, he could not make mention of them any otherwise, than as they were commonly esteemed to be, and at that time in the judgment of charity were to be considered, &c.

Answ. 1. How much doth it differ from the language of men when, they are pleading for separation? Then they cannot endure to hear that all the baptized are called Saints by the Apostles and churches.

2. Indeed only those are so called that seem probably to be so.

3. And therefore what is this to them that by Apostasy into a remediless misery, show themselves not to be so. The Apostles will not encourage known falsehood in the speeches or opinions of others, much less be the authors of it, and lead them into it; doth the Apostle here pronounce their Case hopeless and remediless, and tell them there is no sacrifice for their sin but a fearful looking for of judgment, &c? and doth he at the same time persuade people to believe, that they were sanctified by the blood of the covenant, &c. if it were not true? Even then when it openly discovers it self false or is supposed so to do?

5. They say] if the text be interpreted positively and according to the truth of the thing it self in both parts thereof, viz.

1. That these of whom the Apostle speaks were truly sanctified.

2. That such may totally perish, then there two things will follow; 1. That faith and sanctification is not the fruit of election.

1. That faith and sanctification is not the fruit of election.

2. That believers may fall finally from Christ.

Answ. 1. These were truly sanctified, though not with that sanctification which is proper to the elect and saved.

2. No doubt such may and do fall away and perish. He that denies this must deny to believe Christ, who hath expressly affirmed it in Mat. 13. That they in whom the Word is not deeply rooted do believe for a while, and in the time of temptation or persecution fall away. What else is our distinction between temporary faith and saving?

3. When common faith and sanctification is antecedent to special faith and sanctification, and so found in the elect, it is then a fruit of election: But when it is found in others, it is no fruit of election. And why should they wonder at that, who deny it to be a fruit of satisfaction or ransom, which is a more universal cause then election is?

6.2 They further say [there is nothing in the text to persuade that the periods here spoken of, must needs be truly justified and regenerated Believers, much less that Christ died for them, &c.]

Answ. 1. That they were illuminated, and partakers of the Holy Ghost, and sanctified by Christ’s blood the text speaks without strained consequence: (with Heb. 6. 6. But that they had true special saving faith, regeneration or sanctification, I affirm not. Yet was it true.

2. Is it a strained consequence to conclude.

1. That he who by apostasy is fallen into that misery which he was never in before, and other sinners are not in, that now there is no more sacrifice for his sin, had before a sacrifice? And so have other sinners that be not fallen so far as he is?

2. Or that he who is sanctified by the blood of the covenant, was one whose sins caused that blood? and for whom it was shed? If you had proved that it sanctifies those for whom it was never shed, then you had done something; so much for this text. I had though to have answered all the objections of the contrary-minded which the books at hand afford; but I shall do far less than I thought to do in it, as finding that they are so disordered, wordy and weak, in many, that I shall but fill paper with needless Lines, and be tedious and ungrateful to the judicious readers.

Richard Baxter, Universal Redemption of Mankind by the Lord Jesus Christ: Stated and Cleared by the late Learned Mr. Richard Baxter. Whereunto is added a short Account of Special Redemption, by the same Author (London: Printed for John Salusbury at the Rising-Sun in Cornhill, 1694), 333-343. [Some spelling modernized; some reformatting; italics original; and underlining mine.]


1Latin text here is unclear.

2Irregular numeration original to the text.

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