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Christ, to appear wanting to your wishes, savouring, as they did, of piety and peace. My care is, that I may have somewhat to say in answer; it must be yours to pardon me, if I say it briefly.
Your Declaration of the Three Articles discussed in the Assembly of the Clergy of Bremen; a grave, moderate, substantial, and truly orthodox work; I have read, with all the attention I could, from beginning to end, and carefully weighed the several clauses it consists of, one by one.
And the more accurate the examination, to which I have submitted each particular, the more has my mind been led to wonder, what can possibly be the point which offends even the harshest of your judges; or where it is that that poison of Pelagianism or (what is still more abominable) of Socinianism lies concealed, of which you say that some of them complain so grievously. I am much deceived if a single expression, yea, a single syllable, occurs throughout, which has not been derived, either directly from the sacred fount of Scripture, or from the rivulets of holy Fathers, or finally from the buckets of other writers, the very highest in estimation, and especially the Divines of Dort.
I can hardly suppose that any one of them would dare fasten on another the charge of holding sentiments so monstrous. You have chosen, indeed, to express these mysteries of divine truth, somewhat more cautiously and tenderly, than some of the stricter Divines (sound as they may be in the faith) are wont: and on this, whether it be called your prudence or your moderation, I congratulate you heartily.
In fact, this is the direct way to Christian concord. This is what the voice of one crying in the wilderness proclaimed in old time; to prepare a way for the God of Peace, to make rough paths smooth. Let others walk, if they will, over thorns and crags; be it ours to smooth, as much as possible, these sacred roads; that, with unencumbered and uninterrupted feet, we may press on towards heaven. Give all the diligence we may to this business, we shall find the journey difficult enough; there is no reason why we should strew the way moreover with flints and brambles.
They little know, who bring these accusations against you; indeed they little know how great the service rendered to the Church of God, by those who cut and smooth the stones and timbers required in the construction of this fabric; particularly if it be done without too much of the noise of the hammer: and this I think your Reverence has here endeavoured with consummate skill.
With respect to the subject in dispute; is there any man, who aspires to the reputation of sound Theology, who would
figendos censeat? Nempe omnipotens est, infinitaéque virtutis ille Dei Filius: quibus ergo redimendis, et carnem induere et sanguinem suum effundere voluit; iis ut non sufficiat, quod sibi præstituit, universis, quàm nimis sonare videtur abeóλoyov.
Generi autem humano redimendo et évoáρxwolv et mortem suam intendisse Benignissimum Mundi Redemptorem, quoties quàmque expressè docet Scriptura! Cùm verò nemini sano displicere possit hæc Spiritûs Sancti, ubi in Sacris Literis occurrit, phraseologia, qui fit quòd nostro transcripta calamo parùm arrideat?
Illa certè distinctio, inter (ipso quidem actu) sufficientiam, efficientiámque mortis Christi; inter meritum ex unâ parte, et effectum eventúmque Theanthropicæ illius redemptionis ex alterâ; inter pretium Xurpov infiniti, et salutarem ejus applicationem; ita et vera et necessaria est, ut absque illà fieri non possit, quin perperam de Magno Mundi Salvatore, deque mysterioso redemptionis negotio, sentiamus.
Certè, ita pro omnibus mortuus est Christus, ut parùm interea prosit omnibus ad salutem.
Non illo ergo in sensu pro omnibus mortuus est Christus, quo doctissimus Paræus (cui concinunt et Theologi Palatini“) vocem interpretatur: ubi ait, mori pro aliquo propriè esse, morte suâ aliquem à morte liberare; seu ita mori alicujus loco, ut ipse vivat. Eo quidem modo, hæc loquendi formula, non meritum modò, sed et efficaciam universalem effectúmque commune mortis Christi complecteretur; quod nemo sanus, cum Hubero, illi, quantumlibet salvificæ, attribuendum judicârit: hoc verò quod non fiat, hominum certè culpa fit, non Servatoris. In cælesti hôc meritorum gazophylacio, sat repositum est thesauri, redimendis tot mundorum myriadibus, quot sunt hominum capita: quòd si qui ita sint vel socordi vel præfracto ingenio, ut, quantumvis voce Evangelii moniti ac incitati, nec movere pedem nec manum exporrigere velint, petendo reportandóque suo (quamlibet ingenti) pretio, digni sunt ilicet qui captivi moriantur. Quid hic, interim, decedit infinitæ Redemptoris munificentiæ ?
Placere mihi solet hîc Molinai mei, viri clarissimi, satis apta
D. Par. Judicio de v. Art.-Art. 20.
suppose that any limits of his own were to be affixed to the worthiness of the death of Christ? The Son of God is omnipotent, and of infinite virtue: to say, then, that the purpose he has set before himself is not sufficient for every creature, for whose redemption he has consented both to appear in the flesh, and to shed his blood, seems to sound very like a denial of the attributes of God.
Now, how often and how expressly does the Scripture teach us, that the most Gracious Redeemer of the World intended both his incarnation and his death for the redemption of the human race! Well, then; if this phraseology of the Holy Spirit, where it occurs in the Holy Scriptures, can displease no man who is in his right mind; why is it, that, when transcribed by the pen of man, it affords so little satisfaction?
Certainly the distinction that is drawn, between the sufficiency (in act and deed) and the efficacy of the death of Christ; between the merit, on the one side, and the effect and result of that Mediatorial redemption, on the other; between the price of the infinite ransom, and its saving application; is a distinction so true and necessary, that, without it, we can hardly fail to think amiss of the Great Saviour of the World, and of the mysterious business of redemption.
Certainly, Christ died for all men in such wise only, as not to advantage all men for salvation.
Christ therefore did not die for all men, in the sense in which most learned Pareus (with whom also agree the Palatine Divines) interpreted that word: where he says, that to die for any one is properly, to deliver any one from death by dying for him; or so to die in the place of any one, that he himself should live. In this manner, the form of expression would include, not only the merit, but also the universal efficacy and common effect of the death of Christ; which no one in his senses would join with Huber in assigning to it, however productive of salvation it may be though that this is not the case, is certainly the fault of men, and not of the Saviour. In this heavenly storehouse of merits, there is treasure enough laid up for the redemption of as many myriads of worlds, as there are human beings in existence: still, if there are any so sluggishly or so stubbornly inclined, that, warned or encouraged as they may be by the voice of the Gospel, they will neither move forward a foot, nor stretch forth a hand, to seek and bring home their reward, however ample; why, they deserve to die in bondage. What diminution does the infinite bounty of the Redeemer here sustain?
I am pleased, on this point, with a similitude conceived by
Sent. Palat. Theol. Art. 2. Prop. 4.
similitudo. Illustrandis illuminandísque omnibus, datus est sol huic mundo: sunt, tamen, cæci non pauci; sunt alii carcerum tenebris damnati; somno sepulti sunt alii: parùm fruuntur isti omnes solis beneficio: quid hoc ad magnum illud ac munificum luminare? Oculati quotquot sunt, subque dio vigilant, gaudent hâc luce, illiúsque radiis refocillantur. Pariter se habet cum morte Christi; cujus fructus & owτńpios patescit quidem omnibus meritoriè, non efficaciter. In se sufficit omnibus; non omnibus, interea, sive ad remissionem sive ad salutem applicatur. Reconciliabile est hâc ratione totum genus humanum; actu, autem, ut reconcilietur, quiddam aliud insuper requiritur; impletio, scilicet, conditionis gratuiti fœderis, quæ in fide recipientis consistit. Credunt, autem, efficacissimâ virtute hujus salvificæ mortis, quotquot ad salutem ordinati sunt.
Hanc, vero, exprimendi formulam quòd parum ferre videantur Theologi Palatini, hinc fit: quòd Remonstrantium nonnullis, longiùs multò quàm par erat procedentibus, contravenire istic studuerint; utpote qui, non meritum modò, sed et efficaciam mortis Christi, toti humano generi actu communicare videantur. Re tamen ipsâ fratres Palatini de merito pretioque mortis Christi infinito, applicabili quidem universis, si possent credere, mortalibus, solis electis salutariter applicato, idem nobiscum sentiunt.
Sed et eadem ipsa est promissionum insuper divinarum extensio. Per totum terrarum orbem nemo homo est, cui non istæ liberè promulgari et possint et debeant. Occurrat mihi quivis, vel Turca, vel Judæus, vel Judas: quidni ego fidenter et seriò illi dixerim, " Ita, O homo, pro te mortuus est Christus, ut, si in ipsum credideris, certò salvaberis?" Sed et omnium eadem planè ratio est, quæ unius.
Quicquid sit, ob defectum salutaris pretii, certum est, neminem unquam periîsse, neminem unquam periturum. Sic ergo, ut Theologi nostri Britanni plenè et perspicuè, Christus pro omnibus mortuus est, ut omnes et singuli, mediante fide, possint, virtute avriAUTρov hujus, remissionem peccatorum et vitam æternam consequi: sic pro electis mortuus est, ut ex merito mortis ejus, secundum eternum Dei beneplacitum specialiter illis destinato, et fidem infallibiliter obtineant et vitam æter
my most illustrious friend Du Moulin. The sun was bestowed upon this world, to cheer and enlighten all men: and yet, not a few are blind; others are condemned to the gloom of dungeons; others are buried in sleep: all these enjoy the benefit of the sun but little: but what is this to that great and bounteous luminary? As many as have the use of their eyes, and keep awake by daylight, rejoice in this light, and are invigorated by its rays. Just so it is with the death of Christ; of which the saving benefit lies open to all, meritoriously, but not efficaciously. Of itself, it suffices for all; but it is not applied to all, either for remission or for salvation. In this way, the whole race of men are capable of reconciliation; but that they may be actually reconciled, something further is required; namely, the fulfilment of the condition, to which the covenant of grace is subject, and which consists in the faith of the receiver. Accordingly, through the efficacious virtue of this saving death, as many as have been ordained unto salvation, believe.
That the Palatine Divines should seem to dislike this method of expression, arises hence: that they longed, on this point, to withstand some of the Remonstrants, who were proceeding much further than was right; appearing actually to extend, not only the merit, but the efficacy, of the death of Christ to the whole race of man. In reality, however, our brethren of the Palatinate think the same with ourselves concerning the infinite merit and value of the death of Christ, as applicable indeed to every child of man, if they have grace to believe, but savingly applied to the elect alone.
And similar, moreover, is the offer of the promises of God. From one end of the earth to the other, there is not a man, to whom they may not and should not be freely preached. Meet me who may, a Turk, a Jew, a Judas: why may I not tell him, confidently and seriously, "Christ, O man, has so died for thee, that, if thou believest in him, thou shalt be saved?" But there is manifestly the same ground of dealing with all, as with
One thing is certain, that no one ever has perished, and no one ever will perish, for a deficiency in the price paid for his salvation. Christ, therefore, as our Divines of Britain fully and clearly teach, so died for all, that all and each may, by virtue of this ransom, and through the means of faith, obtain forgiveness of their sins, and eternal life: while he so died for the elect, that, by the merit of his death, ordained especially for them, according to the eternal goodwill of God, they infal libly obtain both faith and eternal life.
'Sent. Palat. Theolog. de v. Art.-Art. 2. Propos. 2 et 3.