The Death of Death in the Death of Christ
Of the distinction of impetration and application -- The use and abuse thereof; with the opinion of the adversaries upon the whole matter in controversy unfolded; and the question on both sides stated.
THE farther reasons whereby the precedent discourse may be confirmed, I defer until I come to oppose some argument to the general ransom. For the present, I shall only take away that general answer which is usually given to the places of Scripture produced, to waive the sense of them; which is pharmanon pansophon to our adversaries, and serves them, as they suppose, to bear up all the weight wherewith in this case they are urged: --
I. They say, then, that in the oblation of Christ, and concerning the good things by him procured, two things are to be considered: -- First, The impetrution, or obtaining of them; and, secondly, The application of them to particular persons. "The first," say they, "is general, in respect to all. Christ obtained and procured all good things by his death of his Father,-- reconciliation, redemption, forgiveness of sins,-- for all and every man in the world, if they will believe and lay hold upon him: but in respect of application, they are actually bestowed and conferred but on a few; because but a few believe, which is the condition on which they are bestowed. And in this latter sense are the texts of Scripture which we have argued, all of them, to be understood. So that they do no whit impeach the universality of merit, which they assert; but only the universality of application, which they also deny." Now, this answer is commonly set forth by them in various terms and divers dresses, according as it seems best to them that use it, and most subservient to their several opinions; for,--
First, Some of them say that Christ, by his death and passion, did absolutely, according to the intention of God, purchase for all and every man, dying for them, remission of sins and reconciliation with God, or a restitution into a state of grace and favour; all which shall be actually beneficial to them. provided that they do believe So the Arminians.
Secondly, Some, again, that Christ died for all indeed, but conditionally for some, if they do believe, or will so do (which he knows they cannot of themselves); and absolutely for his own, even them on whom lie purposeth to bestow faith and grace, so as actually to be made possessors of the good things by him purchased. So Camero, and the divines of France, which follow a new method by him devised.
Thirdly, Some distinguish of a twofold reconciliation and redemption; -- one wrought by Christ with God for man, which, say they, is general for all and every man; secondly, a reconciliation wrought by Christ in man unto God, bringing them actually into peace with him.
And sundry other ways there are whereby men express their conceptions in this business. The sum of all comes to this, and the weight of all lies upon that distinction which we before recounted; -- namely, that in respect of impetration, Christ obtained redemption and reconciliation for all; in respect of application, it is bestowed only on them who do believe and continue therein.
II. Their arguments whereby they prove the generality of the ransom and universality of the reconciliation must afterward be considered: for the present, we handle only the distinction itself, the meaning and misapplication whereof I shall briefly declare; which will appear if we consider,--
FIRST, The true nature and meaning of this distinction, and the true use thereof; for we do acknowledge that it may be used in a sound sense and right meaning, which way soever you express it, either by impetration and application, or by procuring reconciliation with God and a working of reconciliation in us For by impetration we mean the meritorious purchase of all good things made by Christ for us with and of his Father; and by application, the actual enjoyment of those good things upon our believing; -- as, if a man pay a price for the redeeming of captives, the paying of the price supplieth the room of the impetration of which we speak; and the freeing of the captives is as the application of it. Yet, then, we must observe,--
First, That this distinction hath no place in the intention and purpose of Christ, but only in respect of the things procured by him; for in his purpose they are both united, his full end and aim being to deliver us from all evil, and procure all good actually to be bestowed upon us. But in respect of the things themselves, they may be considered either as procured by Christ, or as bestowed on us.
Secondly, That the will of God is not at all conditional in this business, as though he gave Christ to obtain peace, reconciliation, and forgiveness of sins, upon condition that we do believe. There is a condition in the things, but none in the will of God; that is absolute that such things should be procured and bestowed.
Thirdly, That all the things which Christ obtained for us are not bestowed upon condition, but some of them absolutely. And as for those that are bestowed upon condition, the condition on which they are bestowed is actually purchased and procured for us, upon no condition but only by virtue of the purchase. For instance: Christ hath purchased remission of sins and eternal life for us, to be enjoyed on our believing, upon the condition of faith. But faith itself, which is the condition of them, on whose performance they are bestowed, that he hath procured for us absolutely, on no condition at all; for what condition soever can be proposed, on which the Lord should bestow faith, I shall afterward show it vain, and to run into a circle.
Fourthly, That both these, impetration, and application, have for their objects the same individual persons; that, look, for whomsoever Christ obtained any good thing by his death, unto them it shall certainly be applied, upon them it shall actually be bestowed: so that it cannot be said that he obtained any thing for any one, which that one shall not or doth not in due time enjoy. For whomsoever he wrought reconciliation with, God, in them doth he work reconciliation unto God. The one is not extended to some to whom the other doth not reach. Now, because this being established, the opposite interpretation and misapplication of this distinction vanisheth, I shall briefly confirm it with reasons: --
First, If the application of the good things procured be the end why they are procured, for whose sake alone Christ doth obtain them, then they must be applied to all for whom they are obtained; for otherwise Christ faileth of his end and aim, which must not be granted. But that this application was the end of the obtaining of all good things for us appeareth,-- first, Because if it were otherwise, and Christ did not aim at the applying of them, but only at their obtaining, then might the death of Christ have had its full effect and issue without the application of redemption and salvation to any one soul, that being not aimed at, and so, notwithstanding all that he did for us, every soul in the world might have perished eternally; which, whether it can stand with the dignity and sufficiency of his oblation, with the purpose of his Father, and his own intention, who "came into the world to save sinners,-- that which was lost," and to "bring many sons unto glory," let all judge. Secondly, God, in that action of sending his Son, laying the weight of iniquity upon him, and giving him up to an accursed death, must be affirmed to be altogether uncertain what event all this should have in respect of us. For, did he intend that we should be saved by it? -- then the application of it is that which he aimed at, as we assert: did he not? -- certainty, he was uncertain what end it should have; which is blasphemy, and exceeding contrary to Scripture and right reason. Did he appoint a Saviour without thought of them that were to be saved? a Redeemer, not determining who should be redeemed? Did he resolve of a means, not determining the end? It is an assertion opposite to all the glorious properties of God.
Secondly, If that which is obtained by any do, by virtue of that action whereby it is obtained, become his in right for whom it is obtained, then for whomsoever any thing is by Christ obtained, it is to them applied; for that must be made theirs in fact which is theirs charge; all that he hath purchased for them must be applied to them, for by virtue thereof it is that they are so saved, verses 33, 34.
Thirdly, For whom Christ died, for them he maketh intercession. Now, his intercession is for the application of those things, as is confessed, and therein he is always heard. Those to whom the one belongs, theirs also is the other. So, John x. 10, the coming of Christ is, that "his might have life, and have it abundantly;" as also 1 John iv. 9. Heb. x. 10, " By the which will we are sanctified," -- that is the application; "through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ," -- that is the means of impetration: " for by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified," verse 14. In brief, it is proved by all those places which we produced rightly to assign the end of the death of Christ. So that this may be rested on, as I conceive, as firm and immovable, that the impetration of good things by Christ, and the application of them, respect the same individual persons.
SECONDLY, We may consider the meaning of those who seek to maintain universal redemption by this distinction in it, and to what use they do apply it. "Christ," say they, "died for all men, and by his death purchased reconciliation with God for them and forgiveness of sins: which to some is applied, and they become actually reconciled to God, and have their sins forgiven them; but to others not, who, therefore, perish in the state of irreconciliation and enmity, under the guilt of their sins. This application," say they, "is not procured nor purchased by Christ,-- for then, he dying for all, all must be actually reconciled and have their sins forgiven them and be saved,-- but it attends the fulfilling of the condition which God is pleased to prescribe unto them, that is, believing:" which, say some, they can do by their own strength, though not in terms, yet by direct consequence; others not, but God must give it. So that when it is said in the Scripture, Christ hath reconciled us to God, redeemed us, saved us by his blood, underwent the punishment of our sins, and so made satisfaction for us, they assert that no more is meant but that Christ did that which upon the fulfilling of the condition that is of us required, these things will follow. To the death of Christ, indeed, they assign many glorious things; but what they give on the one hand they take away with the other, by suspending the enjoyment of them on a condition by us to be fulfilled, not by him procured; and in terms assert that the proper and full end of the death of Christ was the doing of that whereby God, his justice being satisfied, might save sinners if he would, and on what condition it pleased him,-- that a door of grace might be opened to all that would come in, and not that actual justification and remission of sins, life, and immortality were procured by him, but only a possibility of those things, that so it might be. Now, that all the venom that lies under this exposition and abuse of this distinction may the better appear, I shall set down the whole mind of them that use it in a few assertions, that it may be clearly seen what we do oppose.
First, " God," say they, "considering all mankind as fallen from that grace and favour in Adam wherein they were created, and excluded utterly from the attainment of salvation by virtue of the covenant of works which was at the first made with him, yet by his infinite goodness was inclined to desire the happiness of them, all and every one, that they might be delivered from misery, and be brought unto himself;" which inclination of his they call his universal love and antecedent will, whereby he would desirously have them all to be saved; out of which love he sendeth Christ.
Obs. 1. That God hath any natural or necessary inclination, by his goodness, or any other property, to do good to us, or any of his creatures, we do deny. Every thing that concerns us is an act of his free will and good pleasure, and not a natural, necessary act of his Deity, as shall be declared.
Obs 2. The ascribing an antecedent conditional will unto God, whose fulfilling and accomplishment should depend on any free, contingent act or work of ours, is injurious to his wisdom, power, and sovereignty, and cannot well be excused from blasphemy; and is contrary to Rom. ix. 10, "Who hath resisted his will?" I say,--
Obs. 3. A common affection and inclination to do good to all doth not seem to set out the freedom, fulness, and dimensions of that most intense love of God which is asserted in the Scripture to be the cause of sending his Son; as John iii. 16, "God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son." Eph. i. 9, "Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself." Col.'i. 19, "It pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell." Rom. v. 8, "God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." These two I shall, by the Lord's assistance, fully clear, if the Lord give life and strength, and his people encouragement, to go through with the second part of this controversy.
Obs. 4. We deny that all mankind are the object of that love of God which moved him to send his Son to die; God having "made some for the day of evil," Prov. xvi 4; "hated them before they were born," Rom. ix. 11, 13; "before of old ordained them to condemnation," Jude 4; being "fitted to destruction," Rom. ix. 22; "made to be taken and destroyed," 2 Pet. ii. 12; "appointed to wrath," 1 Thess. v. 9; to "go to their own place," Acts i. 25.
Secondly, "The justice of God being injured by sin, unless something might be done for the satisfaction thereof, that love of God whereby he wouldeth good to all sinners could no way be brought forth into act, but must have its eternal residence in the bosom of God without any effect produced."
Obs. 1. That neither Scripture nor right reason will enforce nor prove an utter and absolute want of power in God to save sinners by his own absolute will, without satisfaction to his justice, supposing his purpose that so it should be; indeed, it could not be otherwise. But, without the consideration of that, certainly he could have effected it. It doth not imply any violating of his holy nature.
Obs. 2. An actual and necessary velleity, for the doing of any thing which cannot possibly be accomplished without some work fulfilled outwardly of him, is opposite to his eternal blessedness and all-sufficiency.
Thirdly, "God, therefore, to fulfil that general love and good-will of his towards all, and that it might put forth itself in such a way as should seem good to him, to satisfy his justice, which stood in the way, and was the only hinderance, he sent his Son into the world to die."
The failing of this assertion we shall lay forth, when we come to declare that love whereof the sending of Christ was the proper issue and effect.
Fourthly, " Wherefore, the proper and immediate end and aim of the purpose of God in sending his Son to die for all men was, that he might, what way it pleased him, save sinners, his justice which hindered being satisfied," -- as Arminius; or, "That he might will to save sinners," -- as Corvinus. "And the intention of Christ was, to make such satisfaction to the justice of God as that be might obtain to himself a power of saving, upon what conditions it seemed good to his Father to prescribe."
Obs. 1. Whether this was the intention of the Father in sending his Son or no, let it be judged. Something was said before, upon the examination of those places of Scripture which describe his purpose; let it be known from them whether God, in sending of his Son, intended to procure to himself a liberty to save us if he would, or to obtain certain salvation for his elect.
Obs. 2. That such a possibility of salvation, or, at the utmost, a velleity or willing of it, upon an uncertain condition, to be by us fulfilled, should be the full, proper, and only immediate end of the death of Christ, will yet scarcely down with tender spirits.
Obs. 3. The expression, of procuring to himself ability to save, upon a condition to be prescribed, seems not to answer that certain purpose of our Saviour in laying down his life, which the Scripture saith was to "save his sheep," and to "bring many sons to glory," as before; nor hath it any ground in Scripture.
Fifthly, "Christ, therefore, obtained for all and every one reconciliation with God, remission of sins, life and salvation; not that they should actually be partakers of these things, but that God (his justice now not hindering) might and would prescribe a condition to be by them fulfilled, whereupon he would actually apply it, and make them partake of all those good things purchased by Christ." And here comes their distinction of impetration and application, which we before intimated; and thereabout, in the explication of this assertion, they are wondrously divided.
Some say that this proceeds so far, that all men are thereby received into a new covenant, in which redemption Adam was a common person as well as in his fall from the old, and all we again restored in him; so that none shall be damned that do not sin actually against the condition where they are born, and fall from the state where into all men are assumed through the death of Christ. So Bormus, Corvinus; and one of late, in plain terms, that all are reconciled, redeemed,'saved, and justified in Christ; though how he could not understand (More, p. 10). But others, more warily, deny this, and assert that by nature we are all children of wrath, and that until we come to Christ the wrath of God abideth on all, so that it is not actually removed from any: so the assertors of the efficacy of grace in France.
Again, some say that Christ by this satisfaction removed original sin in all, and, by consequent, that only; so that all infants, though of Turks and Pagans, out of the covenant, dying before they come to the use of reason, must undoubtedly be saved, that being removed in all, even the calamity, guilt, and alienation contracted by our first fall, whereby God may save all upon a new condition. But others of them, more warily, observing that the blood of Christ is said to "cleanse from all sin," (1 John i. 7; 1 Pet. i. 18, 19; Isa. liii. 6), say he died for all sinners alike; absolutely for none, but conditionally for all. Farther, some of them affirm that after the satisfaction of Christ, or the consideration of it in God's prescience, it was absolutely undetermined what condition should be prescribed, so that the Lord might have reduced all again to the law and covenant of works; so Corvinus: others, that a procuring of a new way of salvation by faith was a part of the fruit of the death of Christ; so More, p. 35.
Again, some of them, that the condition prescribed is by our own strength, with the help of such means as God at all times, and in all places, and unto all, is ready to afford, to be performed; others deny this, and affirm that effectual grace flowing peculiarly from election is necessary to believing: the first establishing the idol of free-will to maintain their own assertion; others overthrowing their own assertion for the establishment of grace. So Amyraldus, Camero, etc.
Moreover, some say that the love of God in the sending of Christ is equal to all: others go a strain higher, and maintain an inequality in the love of God, although he send his Son to die for all, and though greater love there cannot be than that whereby the Lord sent his Son to die for us, as Rom. viii. 32; and so they say that Christ purchased a greater good for some, and less for others. And here they put themselves upon innumerable uncouth distinctions, or rather (as one calleth them), extinctions, blotting out all sense, and reason, and true meaning of the Scripture. Witness Testardus, Amyraldus, and, as every one may see that can but read English, in T. M[ore.] Hence that multiplicity of the several ends of the death of Christ,-- some that are the fruits of his ransom and satisfaction, and some that are I know not what; besides his dying for some so and so, for others so and so, this way and that way; -- hiding themselves in innumerable unintelligible expressions, that it is a most difficult thing to know what they mean, and harder to find out their mind than to answer their reasons.
In one particular they agree well enough,-- namely, in denying that faith is procured or merited for us by the death of Christ. So far they are all of them constant to their own principles, for once to grant it would overturn the whole fabric of universal redemption; but, in assigning the cause of faith they go asunder again.
Some say that God sent Christ to die for all men, but only conditionally, if they did and would believe; -- as though, if they believed, Christ died for them; if not, he died not; and so make the act the cause of its own object: other some, that he died absolutely for all, to procure all good things for them, which yet they should not enjoy until they fulfil the condition that was to be prescribed unto them. Yet all conclude that in his death Christ had no more respect unto the elect than others, to sustain their persons, or to be in their room, but that he was a public person in the room of all mankind.
III. Concerning the close of all this, in respect of the event and immediate product of the death of Christ, divers have diversely expressed themselves; some placing it in the power, some in the will, of God; some in the opening of a door of grace; some in a right purchased to himself of saving whom he pleased; some that in respect of us he had no end at all, but that all mankind might have perished after he had done all. Others make divers and distinct ends, not almost to be reckoned, of this one act of Christ, according to the diversity of the persons for whom he died, whom they grant to be distinguished and differences by a foregoing decree; but to what purpose the Lord should send his Son to die for them whom he himself had determined not to save, but at least to pass by and leave to remediless ruin for their sins, I cannot see, nor the meaning of the twofold destination by some invented. Such is the powerful force and evidence of truth that it scatter's all its opposers, and makes them fly to several hiding-corners; who, if they are not willing to yield and submit themselves, they shall surely lie down in darkness and error. None of these, or the like intricate and involved impedite distinctions, hath [truth] itself need of; into none of such poor shifts and devices doth it compel its abettors; it needeth not any windings and turnings to bring itself into a defensible posture; it is not liable to contradictions in its own fundamentals: for, without any farther circumstances, the whole of it in this business may be thus summed up: --
" God, out of his infinite love to his elect, sent his dear Son in the fulness of time, whom he had promised in the beginning of the world, and made effectual by that promise, to die, pay a ransom of infinite value and dignity, for the purchasing of eternal redemption, and bringing unto himself all and every one of those whom he had before ordained to eternal life, for the praise of his own glory." So that freedom from all the evil from which we are delivered, and an enjoyment of all the good things that are bestowed on us, in our traduction from death to life, from hell and wrath to heaven and glory, are the proper issues and effects of the death of Christ, as the meritorious cause of them all; which may, in all the parts of it, be cleared by these few assertions: --
First, The fountain and cause of God's sending Christ is his eternal love to his elect, and to them alone; which I shall not now farther confirm, reserving it for the second general head of this whole controversy.
Secondly, The value, worth, and dignity of the ransom which Christ gave himself to be, and of the price which he paid, was infinite and immeasurable; fit for the accomplishing of any end and the procuring of any good, for all and every one for whom it was intended, had they been millions of men more than ever were created. Of this also afterward. See Acts xx. 28, "God purchased his church with his own blood." 1 Pet. i. 18, 19, "Redeemed not with silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ;" and that answering the mind and intention of Almighty God, John xiv. l3, " As the Father gave me commandment, even so I do;" who would have such a price paid as might be the foundation of that economy and dispensation of his love and grace which he intended, and of the way whereby he would have it dispensed. Acts xiii. 38, 39, "Through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; and by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses." 2 Cor. v. 20, 21, "We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."
Thirdly, The intention and aim of the Father in this great work was, a bringing of those many sons to glory,-- namely, his elect, whom by his free grace he had chosen from amongst all men, of all sorts, nations, and conditions, to take them into a new covenant of grace with himself, the former being as to them, in respect of the event, null and abolished; of which covenant Jesus Christ is the first and chief promise, as he that was to procure for them all other good things promised therein, as shall be proved.
Fourthly, The things purchased or procured for those persons, -- which are the proper effects of the death and ransom of Christ, in due time certainly to become theirs in possession and enjoyment,-- are, remission of sin, freedom from wrath and the curse of the law, justification, sanctification, and reconciliation with God, and eternal life; for the will of his Father sending him for these, his own intention in laying down his life for them, and the truth of the purchase made by him, is the foundation of his intercession, begun on earth and continued in heaven; whereby he, whom his Father always hears, desires and demands that the good things procured by him may be actually bestowed on them, all and every one, for whom they were procured. So that the whole of what we assert in this great business is exceedingly clear and apparent, without any intricacy or the leas difficulty at all; not clouded with strange expressions and unnecessary divulsions and tearings of one thing from another, as is the opposite opinion: which in the next place shall be dealt withal by arguments confirming the one and everting the other. But because the whole strength thereof lieth in, and the weight of all lieth on, that one distinction we before spoke of, by our adversaries diversely expressed and held out, we will a little farther consider that, and then come to our arguments, and so to the answering of the opposed objections.