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Wendelin's "Christian Theology": Doctrine of the Species of the Office of Christ, Part 3

IV.  Concerning the same part of the priestly office, it is inquired among us, the Papists, and the LutheransWhether Christ died, satisfied divine justice, and procured eternal life for all men and each, for reprobates as well as for the elect?

Our position is:  Christ did not die and satisfy divine justice for all men and each, but for the elect alone, who have believed, are believing, and are going to believe by His grace.

The following are the arguments for our position:

(1.)  That Scripture restricts the death of Christ to many.  Matthew 26:28, the blood of the New Testament is shed for many for the remission of sins.  And Matthew 20:28, He came so that He might give His life a ransom for many.  Hebrews 9:28, Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many.  These many Scripture elsewhere calls the sheep of Christ; John 10:15, I lay down my life for the sheep:  the Church of Christ; Ephesians 5:25, Christ loved the Church, and gave Himself for it; Acts 20:28, to feed the Church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood.

But reprobates and those finally impenitent are not the sheep of Christ, nor the Church of Christ.

They take exception:  in Scripture sometimes many is taken for all.

Response:  They are not able to prove this with an evident example.  They allege the passage in Daniel 12:2 as the principal:  Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake:  these to everlasting life, those to contempt, etc.

Response:  Many in this passage is not all, but certain ones, who shall awake to eternal life, and certain ones, who shall awake to contempt.

(2.)  Christ was unwilling to pray for the world, that is, for reprobates, the finally impenitent, John 17:9.

Therefore, neither was He willing to die for them.

The rationale of the consequence:  because it is far less and much easier to pray for someone than to die for that person.

Graver takes exception in his supplement to article 3 of the Confessionis AugustanæChrist was unwilling to pray for the world, that is, for the impious, that they might be preserved in their impiety:  but He was willing to pray otherwise.

Response:  What need was there of this protestation?  Who had been able to believe that Christ was unwilling to pray for the impious, that they might be preserved in their wickedness?  Therefore, to the point.  Christ was unwilling to pray for the reprobate world, as He prayed for His elect, namely, that they might be kept from evil, verse 15; that they might be one in the Father and the Son, verse 21.  But, because He was unwilling thus to pray, He was also unwilling to die, that they might be kept from evil, and be one in the Father and the Son.

(3.)  Christ never knew reprobates, namely, with acquaintance, which is conjoined with special love and favor, Matthew 7:23.

Therefore, He was unwilling to die for them.

The rationale of the consequence:  because He intimately and consummately love all those for whom He died:  seeing that greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends, with Christ Himself as witness, John 15:13.  Thus to be truly loved by God, and yet to be reprobate, are clearly contradictories.

Therefore, let this argument be observed:

For whom Christ died, those He so loved, that He was not able to love them more, John 15:13.

But reprobates He did not so love, that He was not able to love them more.

Therefore, for reprobates He did not die.

(4.)  For whom Christ died, those He reconciled to the Father, and saves the reconciled, Romans 5:10.  But reprobates, who all are damned, Christ did not reconcile to the Father, and does not save.

Therefore, He did not die for reprobates.

(5.)  For whom reconciliation was obtained through the death of Christ, to those sins are not imputed, 2 Corinthians 5:19, God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them.

But to all that are damned sins are imputed.

Therefore, to none that are damned has reconciliation been obtained through the death of Christ.

(6.)  Christ does not proclaim His death for all.  Therefore, He was unwilling to meet it for all.

The antecedent, in addition to Scripture, even experience testifies.  In this sense the Gentiles are said to have formerly been without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world, Ephesians 2:12.

The rationale of the consequence:  because there is no fruit of the death of Christ among adults, unless it be proclaimed; and it is far less and easier to proclaim one’s death to someone, than to die for him.

(7.)  If Christ died for all men and each, with no exception, He will also have died for those that before His death had been condemned in hell.

But the consequent is false:  Therefore also the antecedent.

The minor is proven:  because He had died in vain for the damned.  For, those that have once been relegated to hell are never freed from there.

Exception is taken:  If it is not absurd to pay a ransom for those that that were freed long before the payment of the ransom, which sort are the believing dead under the Old Testament; certainly neither shall it be absurd to pay a ransom for those that were damned before the payment of the ransom:  which sort are the unbelieving dead under the Old Testament.

Response:  It does not follow, because of the disparity.  A captive is able, and even sometimes is wont, to be released because of the payment of a ransom long afterwards, because afterwards it is not paid in vain:  because the end and effect preceded, as it is wont to be done in civil and moral matters.  But for one that already previously perished in captivity, and is no longer able to be freed by redemption and release, no one of sound mind pays a ransom.  Much less was the blood of Christ of so little value, that the Son of God, knowingly and willingly, would wish to pour it out in vain.  In the times of Lothair the Emperor,[1] the remnants of Pelagianism professed the same absurdity:  which was condemned by that age’s most illustrious pastor of the Church, at the Council of Valence,[2] chapter 4, where these words are found:  Likewise, concerning redemption by the blood of Christ, because of the monstrous error that has been cultivated concerning this matter, in such a way that some, as their writings indicate, determine that it was shed even for those impious men that from the beginning of the world, all the way unto the passion of the Lord, died in their impiety, and were punished with eternal damnation, contrary to that prophecy in Hosea 13, I will be thy death, O death; I will be thy sting, O hell.  It is agreed that that is simply and faithfully to be embraced and taught by us, according to Evangelical and Apostolic truth, that we hold that this price was given for those concerning whom our Lord Himself says:  just as Moses lifted up the serpent, etc.  See Exercitation 60.

V.  The Lutherans and Papists insist on the contrary, that Christ died for all men and each, as much for reprobates as for the elect, with no exception, and purchased reconciliation and eternal life for all; which they attempt to prove:

(1.)  Christ is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world, 1 John 2:2.  And, God so love the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, John 3:16.

Therefore, Christ died for all men and each, with no exception.

The rationale of the consequencebecause the world includes all men.

Response:  I deny the consequence.  The reason is:  because in the antecedent and the testimonies of Scripture alleged, by the world are not understood all men and each, of whatever sort they be:  but the elect only, dispersed throughout the whole world; who all at last are given to Christ by faith, and are saved by the applied ransom:  for whom alone Christ died, as it is evident from our arguments.  Now, that the world is sometimes taken for the totality of the elect, is proven from 2 Corinthians 5:19, God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them.  But the elect alone are reconciled to God:  to the elect alone are sins not imputed:  the rest are condemned because of their sins.  With the same signification world is taken in Romans 4:13, where it is said, that Abraham was heir of the world through the righteousness of faith:  who previously was called the Father of all them that believe.

(2.)  Christ tasted death for all, Hebrews 2:9.

Therefore, He died for reprobates, who are damned.

Response:  I deny the consequence:  for in the antecedent, by all the Apostle understands all believers and elect, as much the Gentiles as the Jews.  Men out of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation, Revelation 5:9.

(3.)  All are made alive in Christ, just as all died in Adam, 1 Corinthians 15:22.

Therefore, Christ by His death purchased life for all, with no exception.

The rationale of the consequence:  because all died in Adam.

Response:  I deny the consequence.  The rationale is inconsequent.  For, when Paul says, that all in Christ are made alive, just as all died in Adam; the sense is this, with Augustine serving also as interpreter, that as all that die die in Adam, so all that are made alive are made alive in Christ:  for outside of Christ there is no salvation, no life.  Acts 4:12, There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby it is necessary to be saved.

Now, that not all those that died in Adam are made alive through Christ, but many remain in death, is altogether evident in the Sacred Books.  Narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it, Matthew 7:14.  The comparison between Christ and Adam made by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:22 was also pressed of old by Pelagius against Augustine.

(4.)  Christ also died for those, and by dying redeemed them from death, who are able to be destroyed or condemned.  Romans 14:15, By thy meet destroy not him, for whom Christ diedWho deny Christ and bring upon themselves swift destruction.  2 Peter 2:1, denying the Lord that bought them, and bringing upon themselves swift destruction.

Therefore, He died, not for the elect only, but also for reprobates.

Response:  I deny the antecedent:  which is not proven from the passages of Scripture alleged.  The former passage in Romans 14 does not say, that he, for whom Christ died, is able to be condemned:  but it prohibits him from destroying, that is, tripping up by scandal, and offending his conscience:  in which manner, as much as in us lies, an occasion of destruction could be furnished to the weak brother.  But he does not perish necessarily, to whom is furnished an occasion of perishing, whose conscience is offended:  for the right hand of the Most High upholds those that He has redeemed by the death of His Son.

The latter passage does not treat of true redemption from eternal death, but deliverance from the ignorance and error of the world, through the light of the Gospel, which happened even to the false prophets:  or the Lord is said to have bought the false prophets, not ἀληθῶς, in the truth of the matter, but κατὰ δόξαν, reportedly, because there appeared to be of their number those dwelling in the bosom of the Church, who were redeemed by Christ, and were boasting themselves as such.

(5.)  God is the σωτὴρ/Savior of all men, but especially of those that believe, 1 Timothy 4:10.

Therefore, all have been redeemed by Christ without distinction.

Response:  I deny the consequence.  For in the antecedent σωτὴρ does not signify Savior, or deliverer by means of redemption:  but preserver.  For, the Apostle speaks of preservation in this life, and of the providence of God, which is extended to the preservation of all men, but especially of those that believe.

(6.)  If Adam had brought to ruin more than Christ renewed; it would follow, that Adam was more powerful than Christ.

But the consequent is false.  Therefore also the antecedent.

Response:  I deny the hypothetical.  The rationale of the negation is:  because to vivify and to save one of the dead requires greater power than to ruin and to deliver to death myriads of living men.

(7.)  All without distinction, to whom the death of Christ is announced, are bound to believe, that Christ died for them.

Therefore, Christ died for all, to whom His death is announced:  among whom are many reprobates.

The rationale of the consequencebecause, what one is bound to believe, that is true.

Response:  The antecedent is not true in any simple way.  Not all are bound simply and absolutely to believe that Christ died for them, but with a condition, if they earnestly repent:  which, if all should do, Christ would have died for all, not that repentance is the cause of His death for anyone:  but that it is an altogether certain and infallible indication of it.  But most never do it; who are not bound to believe themselves to be redeemed by Christ, but rather to be liable to the divine wrath and curse.

But if to believe that Christ died for oneself is the same thing as to believe that the death of Christ is sufficient of itself to expiate one’s sins, we do not deny that reprobates are also bound to believe this:  which is perfectly true, whether they believe it, or not.  For, the value of Christ’s death is such, that it is of itself sufficient for the altogether complete expiation of the sins of all men, even if they should be ten thousand times more:  even if God did not determine it for the expiation of the sins of all.

So indeed in this controversy it is customary among many to make a distinction, that they say, that Christ died sufficiently for all, even reprobates; but efficiently only for the elect:  which words, suitably explained, and applied to amplify the value of the merit of Christ, we readily admit:  even if we have not made use of this distinction from the beginning:  because the impropriety in the words appears to be overly harsh.  For to died for someone, if we speak properly, is to die for the favor of someone, or in the place of someone, so that he might be delivered from death:  and if a voluntary death is met for another, it presupposes the greatest possible love, as Christ testifies, John 15:13.  Now, if you should add, sufficiently only, not efficiently, this not very suitable sense will emerge:  Christ, impelled by the greatest possible charity, died in the place of reprobates, so that they might be delivered from death, sufficiently indeed, but not efficiently, that is, they are never actually delivered.

Those that say, that Christ dies also for reprobates, not indeed so that they might actually be delivered, but so that they might be able to be delivered, tacitly suppose (or they really do not say anything relevant), that it is in the power and ability of reprobates to apprehend Christ’s offered merit by faith:  since without faith they are not even able to be delivered.  Likewise (which I wish properly to be observed), that God decreed from eternity to save all men and each through Christ, under this condition, that they believe upon Christ, the Redeemer of all men and each.  Which no Orthodox theologian would admit, as Pelagian or Semi-pelagian dogma.  I leave unmentioned, that God foreknew from eternity, that a great many were not going to believe, and that He decreed that He was not going to give faith to them, which is not able to be had, except with Him freely giving.  Why then would He have decree salvation, and have determined means of salvation, that is, the death of His Son, under a condition, which He foreknew that He was not going to fulfill, and the ability of the fulfilling of which He denied in His eternal decree.  Not even man plans so imprudently.  But let us dismiss these things.  Nevertheless, we think that it is more rightly and plainly said, that the death of Christ is sufficient in itself for the expiation of all the sins of men, than, Christ died sufficiently for all, even reprobates.

Before we leave this matter behind, let us refute one and another objection of the Papists besides:  so be it.

(8.)  Christ by His death conquered the devil, sin, and death.

Therefore, He redeemed all:  or He has delivered all from the devil, sin, and death.

Response:  I deny the consequence:  for, even if He conquered them, yet He did not conquer, or did not will to conquer, for all, or the good of all.  Whence we see, that the devil, death, and sin have dominion over a great many.

(9.)  If Christ died for the elect only, no one in the world will know whether Christ died for him.

But the consequent is false:  Therefore also the antecedent.

The hypothetical is proven:  Because no one know himself to be elect.

Response:  I deny the hypothetical:  the proof is false.  The arguments, wherewith the Papists assail the certainty of election, we have examined in their place.

(10.)  If Christ only died for some, no consolation from the death of Christ is able to revert to anyone.

But the consequent is false.

Therefore also the antecedent.

The rationale of the hypotheticalBecause from a particular there is no necessary subsumption:  in this manner:  Christ died for some:  Therefore, He also died for me, or for thee.

Response:  I deny the hypothetical:  the proof is inconsequent.  For, even if Christ did not die indiscriminately for all:  yet of those, for whom He died, there is a certain universality:  since Christ died for all the elect and believing.  And what, in the end, is the solid consolation:  if you do indeed believe, that Christ died sufficiently for all:  and yet that a great many of those are damned?  See Exercitation 64.

VI.  Hitherto the second part of the priestly office, namely, satisfaction.  The third follows, namely, the intercession, which Christ performs:

(1.)  By ceaselessly presenting His merit and righteousness before God for us, so that because of that sins might be remitted, and eternal life granted.  This appearing is not the sacrifice itself, as Socinus maintains, but the presentation of the sacrifice already accomplished, so that it might be agreeable and acceptable to God.  Thus in the yearly sacrifice the blood was brought into the Holy of Holies:  with His sacrifice accomplished on earth, He entered into the Holy of Holies, that is, Heaven, Hebrews 9:24-26.

(2.)  By application of His satisfaction and the effects of His sacrifice for us through eternal means, the preaching of the World and the administration of the Sacraments:  and internal means, which is faith.

(3.)  By exciting in us groaning which cannot be uttered through the Holy Spirit, Romans 8:26.

(4.)  By offering our prayers and thanksgivings to God, so that they might be made pleasing and acceptable, Revelation 8:3, 4, where the Angel of the covenant, that is, Christ, is treated.  Our prayers are said to be offered to God through Christ, when, with Christ Himself interceding and mediating, they are made acceptable, and are heard.

[1] Lothair I (795-855), grandson of Charlemagne, was a Carolingian Emperor.

[2] The Council of Valence (a town in Dauphiny, France, on the Rhone River) was held in 855 at the command of Lothair.  Fourteen bishops from Lyons, Vienne, and Aries attended.  The object of the Council was largely disciplinary, but they also took up matters pertaining to grace, free-will, and predestination.

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