Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

quoted, is to illustrate, and magnify the love of Christ to wards his sheep for whom he lays down his life-for his church and people on whose account he delivered himself up to death. But how will this exalt the love of Christ towards his people, if they have no prerogative, no claims in the death of Christ above the reprobate? Why should the immense love of Christ who lays down his life, and sheds, his blood, be applied specially to the people of God? The example of Paul does not strengthen the objection; for the apostle does not speak of this as a blessing peculiar to himself, but as one common to himself and the other elect, or believers, to whom he proposes himself as an example, that they might be able to say the same thing of themselves because they were in the same state.

Another objection to the view we have given of these words of the evangelist Matthew, is quite as unsubstantial as those which we have examined. It is said that “ though Christ is called the Saviour of his people in a respect peculiar to themselves,-on account of salvation's being actually bestowed upon them, yet there is no reason why he should not be the Saviour of others also on account of having obtained salvation for them, though in consequence of their unbelief they will never be made partakers of it; and that, in reference to this, Paul says that God is the saviour of all men, especially of them that believe.* It is gratuitous to say, that Christ is the saviour of some, for whom he has purchased salvation, but to whom it will never be applied. It is to take for granted what ought to be proved. The very expression, to save, denotes the actual communication of salvation. Christ is Jesus, not only because he is willing and able to save, and because he removes all obstacles out of the way of salvation, but because he does in reality save his people, both by acquiring through his merits salvation for them, and applying it to them effectually. That such was the intention of God in sending Christ, and the end of his mission, is clearly intimated by the imposition of the

• 1 Tim. iv. 10.

name Jesus by the angel. The passage quoted from Paul's epistle to Timothy does not evince a contrary doctrine; for the word ontsp which is used in that passage, and translated Saviour, in its most extensive sense denotes Preserver; and when it is said that he is the Saviour of men, the meaning is that he is the preserver of all men,-he upholds all men in their being-preserves them in their present life. It is taken in a more strict and limited sepse when it is applied to believers, which is denoted by the word especially. In what other sense than as the upholder of all men, can he be said to be the Saviour of men who finally perish? To say that Christ, by his death intended to save them, will not solve the difficulty, for we do not call a man a saviour who intends to save another, but him who does it actually. Now Christ does actually uphold men in this life, for “ in him we live, in him we move, and in him we have our being."* In this the apostle alludes to a passage in the Psalms where God is said “ on er to save man and beast.+ Whence Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Primasius, and Ambrose say " that he is the saviour of all in the present life, but of the faithful only he is the saviour as to eternal life.” And Thomas, “ he is the preserver of the present and future life because he saves all men with a bodily salvation, and thus he is called the saviour of all men; he also saves the righteous with both a bodily and spiritual salvation, and is hence said to be the saviour especially of them that believe.”

As to the passage from John's gospel, let it not be objected “that those sheep, for whom Christ is said to have laid down his life, are not said to be the elect only.” The context proves incontrovertibly that it can apply to none but the elect. Christ is speaking concerning sheep which hear his voice and follow him, which he has known, and loves intensely, and which he must bring into one fold, under one shepherd, v. 15, 16. Those sheep, for whom Christ lays down his life, shall be put in possession of eternal life, and no man shall be able to pluck them out of the Father's

[blocks in formation]

hand; which things can be affirmed of none but the elect, who are called sheep, both on account of their destination to life, and their actual and effectual calling in time. Nor let it be objected, “ that he is said to have laid down his life for his sheep, because they alone shall enjoy the fruits ot his death, whilst others, on account of their unbelief, receive no benefit from his expiatory sacrifice. Thus, to die for some, either signifies that death is suffered simply with an intention to profit some, which is true in respect

of all; or, with an intention that they shall be profited in reality, which is true in relation to sheep only.” For, in answer to this objection, consider that to luy down life for some, can no more be referred to the enjoyment of the fruits of Christ's death, than when it is said, that he gave himself-a ransom for all. There is no solid reason why the former phrase should be referred both to the intention and to the effect, but the latter restricted to the purpose and intention of bestowing help. It cannot be conceived that there is any difference between these two. He who dies for any one that he may profit him, intends that he for whom he dies shall be profited in reality; and he will in reality profit him if he has the power to do so. Now, can any one assign a reason why Christ gains the object which he had in view, as to his sheep, but misses his aim as to the rest? Equally un. substantial is the following objection, " that Christ could not lay down his life for his sheep as such; because, then they would have been his sheep before he died for them, and purchased them for his own; hence, he died for them merely as sinners, which character belongs to them in common with others, and that hence he must have laid down his life in this way for others.” To this I reply, that though they were not actually his sheep, yet they were so by destination. They had been given to Christ to be purchased and redeemed by him as the good shepherd, who must shed his blood for their redemption. By the decree of God they were given to him, before they were actually in his hands. *

* John xvii. 24.

Nay, the mission of Christ is founded in that donation. “ And this is the Father's will who hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose none, but should raise it up again at the last day.”. Had there not been a fixed number contemplated by God when he appointed Christ to die, then the effects of Christ's death would have been un. certain, and the mystery of our redemption might have been rendered utterly vain and fruitless, by the perverseness of man, in refusing to accept it.

Though in Eph. v. 25. and Tit. ii. 14. it is not expressly said that Christ gave himself for none others but his church and people, yet, from the expressions used in these passages, and from the nature of the thing, it is clearly deducible that his offering of himself was so restricted. Because, the giving of himself, which the apostle describes, arises from the love of Christ towards his church as his spouse, and such a love necessarily excludes a similar love to others. In the preceding verse the apostle gives this commandment, “ husbands love your wives.Now, though the apostle does not add " let your love of women be confined to your wives,” yet all will acknowledge that such a restriction is necessarily implied in the apostle's command. Who would hear, without indigoation, the adulterer plead thus in vindication of his crime,-" It is indeed said, husbands love

your wives, but it is not said, love those alone!” The giving of himself which is here attributed to Christ, is one which has for its object the sanctification of his church, and its salvation: both the procurement and application of salvation, which belong to the elect, and to the elect only. Since he delivered himself

up for none except for this purpose, how can he be said to have delivered himself for those who will not attain to that end?

In vain is it objected to the passages quoted, from Matthew's gospel, and from the epistle to the Hebrews,t “ that many is not opposed to all, but to one or a few, as is done Rom. v. 19. and Daniel xii. 1. and that many is often put for

* John vi. 39.

† Matt. »x. 28. and xxvi. 28. Heb. ix. 28.

all.” The many of which the apostle and the evangelist treat, are described by such characters as cannot be applied to all men of all nations. For, of the many here spoken of, it is said, “ that he gave himself a ransom," or actually substituted himself in their room, -that he shed his blood for the remission of their sins, and “ that he offered himself to bear the sins of many,” i. e. that their sins might be through his atoning sacrifice really taken away. Though many is sometimes opposed to one or a few, yet it is not necessary on that account, to understand it so in these passages, for it is often used when all cannot be included. Hiero, in his comment on Matthew xx. says, “ The evangelist does not say that Christ gave himself for all, but for many, i. e. for all those who would believe, (who are none other than the elect in whom God works, both to will and to do, *) for many, not for all; but for those only who were predestinated to life.”

2. We farther agree in favour of restricting the atonement to a limited and definite number, from the destination of Christ to the mediatorial office. He was destined to die for those only who were given him by the Father. All men universally were not given to Christ, but a limited number only. When, in the council of the Father, which regulated Christ's death, and defined its object, not only Christ was set apart as Mediator, but also those for whose redemption and salvation he was to suffer; it is plain that he could die for those only who were, in this sense given him. Here we may remark a twofold donation. One of Christ to men, another of men to Christ. Christ was given to men for the purpose of saving them, and men to Christ, that through him they might be saved. The former is referred to in Isa. ix. 6., and xlix. 6. as well as in all those places, in which he is said to be given and sent to us; the latter is alluded to in the places where mention is made of those given to Christ; as in Joho xvii. 2. 6. 12. and vi. 37. Seeing this twofold

* These words in the parenthesis are interlined as a glossary on this passage of Hiero's book.

« AnteriorContinuar »