Dec 29, 2009



As it is impossible to give any thing of a tolerable countenance to universal invitations on particular redemption premises, so, as a sort of plea for universal invitations to salvation, the work of our Lord Jesus Christ is mauled about into all manner of shapes and forms of a something universal; but forced to be therewith of consequent uncertainty, and perishable fallibility. Because none pretend to affirm that salvation is or will finally be universal, but intimate that on the work of Christ being universal, salvation might be if men would But according to this, so far as salvation fails to be universal, just so far the whole work of our Lord Jesus Christ in life, sufferings, death, resurrection, and ever living intercession, must fail, prove in vain, perish, and come to nothing. Universal invitation principles must bring us to this awful, God-dishonoring, yea, God-denying conclusion; because, according to the word of God, our Lord Jesus Christ took on him the nature of the seed of Abraham, came into our world, and did, suffered, and accomplished all he `finished,' with no other object, aim, end, and intent, than that of salvation; so that if salvation fail in any one instance, the work of our Lord Jesus Christ is declared to fail, perish, be in vain, and come to nothing in every such case. Universal invitation men must admit and come to this conclusion, or accurse their own universal notions to the public gibbet of condemnation, there to hang till they be dead; and God in the glorious Trinity of his persons, and in all his perfection, and in all his God-like works and ways, be honoured, magnified, and declared God over all, blessed for ever, in having mercy on whom he will have mercy, and in saving with an everlasting salvation all whom he will save.

Did Christ die intentionally for the elect and provisionally for the rest?

It has been said, that `Christ died intentionally for the elect, and provisionally for all the rest of mankind, and that there is merit enough in the blood of Christ for the redemption of all men, if they would apply for it.' This is as easy said as any thing else, and is very pleasant to flesh and blood, but it is not easy to be proved and sustained for truth by any one text in all the word of God; because in relation to eternal salvation, God has borne no such testimony in any part of his word, either of man, or of himself, of his will and intention, or of his work, or the worth that is in it. The Lord's plans are all drawn in his own mind before he begins his work; the counsel of his own will, indeed, is his one great and entire plan, and to this plan he will work all things until he has fulfilled all he has purposed, promised, meant and intended; for as he is of infinite understanding, and sees the end from the beginning, all his provisions, operations, promises and intentions, are in conformity to, and all tend infallibly to secure that full end and design; for `I know that whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever; nothing can be put to it, nor anything taken from it,' Eccl iii 14; so that `All God's works shall praise him, and his saints shall bless him.'

Did Christ die for all sin, not persons in particular?

It has been said, `That Christ died for sin, for all sin, and not for persons in particular.' This is a very convenient loop-hole for the bringing in of universal invitations, and human conditions for the personal acquirement of eternal life; but is this the truth of God that endureth for ever? Death is the wages of sin, and if Christ died for all sin, then is there now no more death for sin to any one. Death is the full penalty of sin, and so much of sin as Christ hath died for, so much of death that came by sin hath Christ for ever destroyed. And if Christ died for all sin, then hath he for ever abolished, swallowed up in victory, and destroyed all death, that came by sin, or by dying he hath not destroyed death at all, and in that case what has he done by dying? But according to the truth of the word of God, so far as Christ hath died for sin, so far death that came by sin, and is the wages and penalty of sin, is destroyed, so as to have no more power or existence in relation to the sin for which Christ died; and as far as sin was condemned in the flesh of Christ, so far is condemnation for ever ended on the sin for which Christ died, Rom viii 1,3. For wherein Christ by dying for sin is death's destruction, there, and to that full extent, is he life's sure, full and happy fountain for ever, John xi 25,26; and to this truth the Holy Ghost leads the convinced heirs of salvation for the hope of eternal life, and to realize, by humble persuasion under his divine testimony, that on the ground of this truth, `the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made and doth make them free from the law of sin and death,' Rom viii 2; with the happy, `Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died,' verse 34. Sin is called a debt, and that Christ should pay off that debt by dying, without an immediate regard to the debtor, appears to me most senseless. Sin is an offence, and that Christ should suffer death, which is the utmost penalty for the offence, without an immediate regard to the offender, and his sure escape too, appears to me to be anything but divine truth, reason or common sense; because we might just as well say, that Christ died to pay debts and to suffer penalties without any regard whatever to either debtor or creditor, offender or offended; or without any real design.

Is redemption universal but men do not avail themselves of it?

It has been said, `That redemption is universal, and that the reason why salvation is not universal, is because men do not avail themselves of the advantages of redemption.' This gives plenty of scope for universal invitations, and just suits the pride of the human heart, because it gives to man a sort of self-dispensing power over the eternal favours of God, and denies God's sovereignty in the dispensations of his own blessings. This also makes the redemption work of Christ to come a certain distance toward the sinner, but not to reach all the way to him as a sinner, without strength, dead in sins, and at enmity against God, in order to fetch him out from that very state. But if the ladder which Jacob saw had not come all the way to the earth, it could have marked out no way of intercourse for him with heaven, or heaven with him: and so the work of Christ would do nothing if it did not reach all the way to the sinner's case as a sinner. But quite contrary, and very happily so, to the above nonsense of the sinner's availing himself, the apostle Paul declares the work of our Lord Jesus Christ to extend to the sinner as a sinner considered, and not to him merely considered as a coming saint: saying, `When we were yet without strength, Christ died for the ungodly,' Rom v 6; `While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,' verse 8; `When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son,' verse 10. And this the apostle calls God's commendation of his love to us, verse 8; and considering this being done in the great love of God, that there is now a much more abundant certainty, that all shall be finally saved from wrath, for whom this work of Christ has thus been done.

And this notion of man's `availing himself of the advantages of redemption,' leaves the Holy Spirit's work out altogether, as having nothing to do with the matter of personal godliness and salvation in such gentlemen's theology; although our Lord himself hath so plainly said, `When he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment,' John xvi 8-11; `He shall testify of me,' xv 26; `He shall glorify me, for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you,' xvi 14. And this notion of self availing' goes also to say, that man's not availing himself of certain things in his own strength and of his own will, does more for the saint's everlasting ruin in hell, than all the good will, the love, the promises, and all the gracious works of the Lord will finally avail to save it; and that Christ has redeemed in vain, or redeemed with a redemption that may turn out to be no redemption at all, unless the ruined will consent to its being effectual! And I think how happy and pleased such men as the above must feel in their dear good selves, as being so good as to avail themselves of the advantages of redemption, while there are so many who are so much more naughty and wicked as not so to avail themselves, Luke xviii 9. But when God by mercy shall take in his prodigals, and righteously turn out his never-offending, and shew up the full truth to effect, that nothing but God's workmanship, and none but new creatures in Christ Jesus, who are born of God and of incorruptible seed, shall inherit the kingdom of God, how will this self-availing scheme stand then in the judgment of God?

The work of Christ is particular and effectual, not universal and uncertain

It has been said, `That redemption is universal, but the application particular; and that a universal redemption is a necessary preliminary to a particular application.' What can men of learningand talent think the redemption by our Lord Jesus Christ really to be, to speak of it in this way? For the word redemption itself must be well known to have no such meaning, acceptation, or use among men by any analogy under the whole heavens. It is well known that the word signifies buying back, a rescue, a release, a reclaim, a freedom obtained by an adequate price paid for the same, with the consideration that there is no such freedom without such price, and that no such price is paid without such freedom being obtained and secured without any further consideration, and which is accordingly called `The price of redemption.' Lev xxv 51,52. And the word redeem will apply to land mortgaged, to any thing put in pledge for money, to a person who has forfeited his liberty by misdeeds, and to persons taken prisoners in the field of battle, and led away captive by the conqueror; and in all these and such like cases where redemption is required, and is to be effected, the price of redemption is the full price of complete freedom and deliverance always. Deliverance by power, without any other immediate outlay, is called redemption, Jer xxxi 11; but no sort of price paid is ever called redemption without deliverance effected and secured thereby. The apostle useth the word in regard to saving of time by Christian diligence, watchfulness, &c., saying, `Redeeming the time,' Col iv 5. Now it is the time saved, the deliverance wrought, the rescue and freedom actually effected and secured, that is called, and is properly the redemption; and not the diligence employed, the power outlaid, or the price paid, for they are but the means; so that whatever be the price paid, the power or outlay employed, the deliverance and salvation itself only is the redemption, as we so fully and plainly read in the word of God saying, `The angel which redeemed me from all evil,' Gen xlviii 16; `The Lord liveth, who hath redeemed my soul out of all adversity,' 2 Sam iv 9; `Out of all distress,' 1 King i 29; `Who redeemeth thy life from destruction,' Psalm ciii 4; `I will ransom them from the power of the grave, I will redeem them from death,' Hosea xiii 14; `That he might redeem us from all iniquity,' Tit ii 14; `Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law,' Gal iii 13; `From your vain conversation,' 1 Peter i 18; `Which were redeemed from the earth,' Rev xiv 3; `These were redeemed from among men,' verse 4; `Which thou redeemedst to thee from Egypt,' 2 Sam vii 23; `And hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation,' Rev v 9.

From the word of God, therefore, so full and so plain on the point, it is undeniably evident, that a real deliverance only effected and ensured is redemption; and that without a real, proper, and actual deliverance and freedom ensured from the thralldom considered, whatever is done, it is in no shape redemption at all, by any known meaning and proper use of the terms redeem, redemption, redeemeth, redeemed, redeemest. And on what ground, then, our Lord Jesus Christ's proper redemption of souls, by the full price of `Life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe,' Ex xxi 23-25, in suffering, bloodshed, and obedience even unto the death of the cross, should be so mauled about as above, and subjected to those drawbacks, imbecilities, failures and defects, contrary to all and every idea of a real and proper redemption in every other matter, case or instance known among men, for which the true and proper sense and meaning of the word redemption is known to stand, I cannot make out or understand; otherwise than that such men, professing to receive the truth of God, at the same time cannot bear the plain, free, discriminating, absolute grace, shape and order of that truth, and, consequently, not its real nature and design.

I hope I have as large a heart and soul for the salvation of sinners as any man living, and subject to the sovereign will and operative power of God, work as hard at least as any second-rate labourer in the Lord's name, to promote that end; but I must confess that I have never been able to make that out to be redemption at all, which does not really and properly redeem, but leaves its intended objects, from certain still existing causes, enthralled, undelivered, unrescued, and liable, after all, to all the misery and woe to which exposed without such a falsely called redemption. Nor that to be atonement that does not really and properly atone, by `making amends for the harm done,' Lev v 16, by `covering the sin,' Ps xxxii 1, so as to ensure forgiveness of all offences concerned, according to the word of the Lord, saying, `And the priest shall make an atonement for him as concerning his sin, and it shall be forgiven him,' Lev iv 26,30,31,35; v 10,13,16,18; vi 7. Nor that to be reconciliation that does not really and properly reconcile, but leaves the disagreement so far unsettled, as that the parties concerned are liable to be as far off as ever on the old grounds of offence. Nor that to be a propitiation that does not really and properly propitiate, but leaves all the offence, anger and frown, liable to remain and to break out in full effect after all; and even the more so by far, from what has been done to appease than otherwise, according to the duty faith gospel! Nor that to be justification that does not really and properly justify its intended objects from all condemnation and the causes thereof, but leaves them still subject to certain liabilities of charge and condemning consequents. The above five plain words (i.e. redemption, atonement, reconciliation, propitiation and justification) are employed in the sacred scriptures, to declare the good will and truth of God in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ; but there is not one of them that is or can be allowed, by the duty faith and universal invitation system, to have its proper meaning finally and effectually carried out and established by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ alone, without being suspended on the hazard of some creature conditions, which subjects the whole to a wide extent, according to that scheme, to an entire failure; but which failure, and the system that must admit it, duty faith men are much more prepared to receive, love and hold fast, than they are to embrace the divine doctrine of `I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy;' but in which form will the last great day shew up the dispensation of God's favours?

The work of Christ is salvation; and whatever he has done for the salvation of one soul, the very same he has done for the salvation of every soul for whom he has done any thing at all for salvation. So that if the work of Christ to save be universal in any part of it, it must be universal in every part of it; and in such case every part of the work of Christ must fail and be in vain in the case of every soul that is lost. But if the work of Christ be salvation to one or more, as it really is, and from which alone he is called the Saviour, how is it that every one is not saved by the work of Christ, if that work was done alike for all?

I think I may safely challenge all the duty faith schools, divines, and advocates in the world, to prove from the sacred text that the redemption of souls by our Lord Jesus Christ is more or less than one complete and uniform redemption, or that it is at all divisible into sections of different lengths, strength, character, design, or effectuality, in relation to any different portions of the redeemed, as arising from any difference of circumstances whatever on their own part. If such a thing can be proved, where is the sacred text in the evident mind of the Spirit to prove it? We claim the right to take our stand at this point, because if this cannot be proved by the word of God, then redemption in itself must be as particular as salvation is and has been in all ages discriminate; by redemption I hereby mean the entire saving work of Christ as a systematical whole; for redemption being but one, what it is to one soul, it must be to all the redeemed; and what it is not to all the redeemed, it cannot be to any one. If one redeemed soul be lost, why not all? And if the redemption of Christ be the salvation of one soul, so it is and must be of all the redeemed; and the reason why all men are not saved, is that they are not redeemed; for while the eternal salvation of the soul lies, by divine purpose, embodied and secured in redemption, the available essence of redemption lies in the worth and merit of it, solely as wrought out and obtained by Christ himself in his life and death; the gospel of it, operative power about it, application and personal evidence of it, being no additions whatever to it, but consequents growing out of it, as ensured by it. For as redemption can and doth make singers of its redeemed, while singers cannot make nor add anything to redemption, Rev xiv 3; so redemption grace will make and produce believers, but believing never did nor can make or add any thing of interest or security to redemption, but openly declare, as by grace given evidence, such souls to be redeemed ones; for `the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion, and everlasting joy shall be upon their head,' Isaiah li 11. They are not redeemed for returning, but return because they are redeemed; nor are they redeemed for singing, but their redemption shall make them all sing for joy; because it is the redeemed, without pointing to any part, or to any circumstance relating to one part of them more than another, for God names only their being the redeemed, as the who shall return, and as the why they shall return.

We are not opposed to a large redemption, but to the notion of any being lost whom Christ bath redeemed; and to that of his having done any part of his saving work for those who will be lost. In my opinion, it is as far off from the truth of God, and as awfully opposed to the truth of God, to say that Christ, who is the God-Man mediator of the better covenant, hath wrought out a universal redemption, but which will prove all in vain, perish, and come to nothing, from certain causes in man, as far as salvation fails to be universal, as it is to say, `that Christ hath wrought no redemption at all, and that he only lived a good and holy life, and died a martyr, to set us an example, that by following the same we may go to heaven by a good moral life.' Both these notions are alike opposed to the truth of God, only one holds that he hash done the greatest and most glorious of all his works, to a vast extent in vain; and the other holds that he hath done no such work at all. Both these are strongholds of Satan, but the first in the present day commands the popular piety.

(Duty Faith John Foreman)

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