SEVENTH LORD'S DAY.
Question 20. Are all men, then, as they perished in Adam, saved by Christ?
Answer. No; only those who are ingrafted into him, and receive all his benefits by a true faith.
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Having explained the mode of our deliverance through Christ, we must now inquire carefully who are made partakers of this deliverance, and in what manner it is effected; whether all, or only some are made partakers thereof. If none are made partakers of it, it has been accomplished in vain. This twentieth question is, therefore, preparatory to the doctrine of faith, without which neither the Mediator, nor the preaching of the gospel, would be of any advantage. At the same time it provides a remedy against carnal security, and furnishes an answer to that base calumny which makes Christ the minister of sin.
The answer to this question consists of two parts:-- Salvation through Christ is not bestowed upon all who perished in Adam; but only upon those who, by a true faith, are ingrafted into Christ, and receive all his benefits.
The first part of this answer is clearly proven by experience, and the word of God. "He that believeth not the Son, shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him." "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven." "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." (John 3:36; 3:3. Matt. 7:21.) The reason why all are not saved through Christ, is not because of any insufficiency of merit and grace in him-for the atonement of Christ is for the sins of the whole world, as it respects the dignity and sufficiency of the satisfaction which he made-but it arises from unbelief; because men reject the benefits of Christ offered in the gospel, and so perish by their own fault, and not because of any insufficiency in the merits of Christ.
The other part of the answer is also evident from the Scriptures. "As many as received him to them, gave he power to become the sons of God." "By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many." (John 1:12. Is. 53:11.) The reason why only those who believe are saved, is, because they alone lay hold of, and embrace the benefits of Christ; and because in them alone God secures the end for which he graciously delivered his Son to death; for only those that believe know the mercy and grace of God, and return suitable thanks to him.
The sum of this whole matter is therefore this: that although the satisfaction of Christ, the mediator for our sins, is perfect, yet all do not obtain deliverance through it, but only those who believe the gospel, and apply to themselves the merits of Christ by a true faith.
Obj. 1. Grace exceeds sin. Therefore if all have perished by the sin of Adam, much more ought all to be saved by the grace of Christ. We reply to the antecedent: Grace exceeds sin as regards the satisfaction, but not as regards the application. That all are, therefore, not saved through the grace of Christ, is to be ascribed to the unbelief of those who reject the grace that is freely offered.
Obj. 2. All those ought to be received into favor for whose offences a sufficient satisfaction has been made. Christ has made a sufficient satisfaction for the offenses of all men. Therefore all ought to be received into favor; and if this is not done, God is either unjust to men, or else there is something detracted from the merit of Christ. Ans. The major is true, unless some condition is added to the satisfaction; as, that only those are saved through it, who apply it unto themselves by faith. But this condition is expressly added, where it is said, " God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16.)
Obj. 3. Adam subjected all to condemnation; but Christ saves only a portion of the human race. Therefore there is greater power in the sin of Adam to condemn, than there is in the satisfaction of Christ to save. Ans. We deny the consequence which is here deduced, because the power, excellency, and efficacy of the satisfaction of Christ, is not to be estimated by the multitude, or number of those who are saved through it, but by the magnitude of the benefit itself: for it is a greater work to deliver even one, or some from eternal death, than that all should be made subject to it through sin. Again: That the power of that efficacy which belongs to the benefit of Christ does not pass over to all men, just as the power of Adam's sin reaches all his posterity, is a fault in men themselves, who do not so apply the merits of Christ to themselves through faith, as they do the sin of Adam by birth, and imitation. But the reason why all men do not believe, nor apply these benefits to themselves, is a higher, and deeper question-one which does not properly belong to this place. "God hath mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will, he hardeneth." (Rom 9:18.) And he will so reveal his mercy, that he will also exercise his justice.
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