Articles Of The Faith And Order Of A Primitive Or Strict And Particular Baptist Church Of The Lord Jesus Christ, Based On The Declaration Of Faith And Practice Of John Gill, D. D., 1720

VI. Particular Redemption.

We hold that since the redeeming and atoning work of the Lord Jesus was defined and determined by His Covenant engagements; He suffered to ransom the persons and expiate the sins of the elect of God only; who, (and no others,) participate in the special and peculiar blessings that flow from His sufferings and death.

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Is 53:6; Matt 1:21; Jn 10:15,16,26; 17:6,9; Acts 20:28; Rom 11:7; Eph 5:25; 1 Pet 1:2; 2:24

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Annotations:

Note 1.—The word “particular” is here used in the sense of “special,” as opposed to “general” or “universal,” to describe the doctrine that Christ died for the elect only, and not for the entire human race.

Note 2.—The saving work of the Lord Jesus is here referred to as “redeeming” and “atoning.” The words are not synonymous and interchangeable, but present the great transaction of Calvary in two distinct aspects. Young theologians should spare no pains to obtain accurate thoughts on the subjects of Redemption and the Atonement.

Redemption.

Note 3.—Redemption—the act of buying back—is a civil term; that is to say, it is derived from that department of human law which is not concerned in the investigation and punishment of crime. It refers:—(1) To the taking of a thing, which has been pledged, out of pawn, or to the restoration to its original owner of an estate on which money had been raised, by the repayment of the bor­ rowed sum. (Eph. 1:14.)

(2) To the emancipation, by the payment of money, of the person of one held captive by a creditor or enemy.

(3) It is also applied in a secondary sense to the obtaining possession of captives by the conquest of their enemies.[1] (Psa. 107:2; Isa. 43:1,3.) Theologians—when employing the term Redemption—ordinarily do so in the second sense, and apply it to that aspect of Christ’s work by which the claims of the Law upon the persons of the elect were met—and the emancipation of their souls in this life, and “their glorious liberty” in heaven here­ after are secured.

Amongst the Jews, a man’s person was a chattel which could be seized and sold by his creditors, if he was unable to pay his debts, (2 Kings 4:1; Matt. 18:25.) But the sale was not absolute or final. If the money came into his possession, he might repay it, and demand his liberty; or another person had the right to do this for him. This was the eldest male member of the family, who was called the Goel, on whom many peculiar duties devolved. It was incumbent upon him to avenge the blood of any relative who had been slain; to pay off mortgages incurred by members of the family; and to redeem his rela­ tives, if captives, by paying the ransom, and setting them free. See the Book of Ruth, by S. Cox, D.D.

The office of the Hebrew Goel, or Kinsman-redeemer, (Job 19:25,) finely exemplifies this aspect of the Lord’s saving work. Guilt is here considered as insolvency. Sinners have incurred a debt which they are wholly unable to pay. The Law—personified as the creditor—claims their persons. But the blood of Jesus is the ransom of His chosen people. “He hath redeemed them from the curse of the Law.” Thus He delivers them, The Son “makes them free,” and they become “free indeed.”

The Atonement.

Note 4.—The term Atonement, or Propitiation, presents the Lord’s work in another aspect. It is a term associated with criminal jurisprudence, and refers to the satisfaction of the sentence of the law by enduring the penalty. In human government this can only be effected by the personal suffering of the offender, who is said to have purged himself of his crime when he has undergone the deprivation and pain to which he was condemned.

In the moral government of God, however, Sovereignty has admitted the principle of satisfaction to the penal claims of the Law by the sufferings of a Substitute, even the Lord Jesus, by whose death the sentence of the Law upon the sins of the elect has been exhausted, so that equity can inflict no further depri­ vation or pain upon them. (Rom. 8:3.)[2]

Sin is thus regarded as a crime incurring legal punishment. This punishment Christ, as a competent surety, has endured in His own person for His people; thus propitiating Divine justice, removing condemnation, and rendering all the sins of all the elect unpunishable for ever.

Particular Redemption, Commensurate Atonement.

Note 5.—If human terms have any intelligibility, when applied to God’s saving acts, Redemption, from its very nature, must be particular. We are redeemed by price, and though a price may be very large, it is a limited and defined sum, and must concern a defined object.

The Atonement, also, must have been restricted to the sins of those whom Christ represented in the Covenant of grace. These are so numerous as to baffle human calculation; but “He bore our sins in His own body on the tree. He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities.” That is, the precise quantum of suffering adjudicated by the Law as the equitable penalty of the sins of God’s people was endured by Him. “He died for our sins according to the Scriptures.”[3] The idea involved in propitiation is the enduring by the Saviour of the punishment which His people deserved. From its very nature, the Atonement could not have been of infinite extent, or have been made for sin in the abstract. What sound Divines have called the commercial[4] view of the Atonement, is, therefore, the truth of God.

Note 4.—While fully admitting the Scriptural distinction between Christ’s death as a redemptive transaction and an atoning or appeasing act, certain erroneous applications of this distinction should be guarded against.

Some have insisted on (what they style) important differences between the Redemption and Atonement of Christ. While it is conceded that Redemption is “special and particular,” and extends to the persons of the elect only, it is denied that the Atonement of Christ was offered for the sins of elect men as individuals at all “It is not something commensurate with the crime, neither more nor less, exactly measured by the malignity and number of the sins to be pardoned,” etc., etc, (See Buck’s Theological Dictionary by Henderson, Articles Atonement and Redemption.)

These are rightly styled by William Palmer “mischievous distinctions” wnich “involve misleading fallacies.” “In their root and essence” Redemption and Atonement “are the same.” Both spring from one purpose—sovereign election. Both concern the same persons—those whom Christ represented in the Covenant of grace. Both have to do with these under one aspect—as sinners, transgressors of the Law. Both are ascribed to one cause, the death of Christ. Both have the same ends— salvation and eternal glory. They, therefore, have equal dimensions, and extend to those only whom Christ undertook to represent. Covenant relationship is not only the foundation of Redemption, but the ground of a just Atonement. See William Palmer’s eleven tracts on “The Atonement,” and his “Erroneous Views of the Atonement Calmly Considered.”

Logical Inferences.

Note 5.—While the Article under consideration relies for confirmation solely on the texts cited, the following are important considerations:—

If Christ died to ransom the persons and expiate the sins of all men, it follows:

That if all are not saved, He shed His blood in vain for those that are lost.

That if He died equally for those that have gone to heaven and those that are in hell, His great love has done no more for the blessed than for the damned. Judas was, therefore, as much an object of His affection, when He suffered, as Peter.

That if He died equally for every individual of the human race, He ransomed thousands who were never set free; atoned for sins that were never pardoned: and suffered for sinners who will be punished for ever. Such a ransom, such an atonement, and such sufferings for sins must be worthless to effect salva­ tion at all.

If Christ died for all men, His blood was shed for many millions of the race of Adam, who at the very moment He was offering Himself a sacrifice for sin were in hell, and beyond all hope of the pardoning mercy of God.

If He loved all men equally, and gave Himself for all alike, He died for those to whom He forbade the Apostles to preach His Gospel, and whom He forbade them to call to faith and repentance, (Matt. 10:5; Acts 4:12;) and who were thus kept Without hope of redemption.

Thus those who pretend to exalt His grace by contending that Christ’s sufferings were designed and endured for all men, reduce His Redemption to a farce: His sacrifice to a failure: His love to a feeble and inoperative sentiment: and His purpose to a fallacy and an absurdity. According to these teachers He undertook what He could not effect, and attempted what the corrupt opposition of men has in many instances prevented.

Hence, allowing these premises, sin must be more potent than grace, and sinners mightier than God.

Thus the error of general Redemption and a universal Atone­ ment, necessitate conclusions which are blasphemous and absurd in the highest degree.

Note 6.—“The elect only participate in the special and peculiar blessings that flow from Christ’s death.” The emphasised words are introduced to indicated the important distinction between the special and the general benefits of the sufferings of Christ. It is fully conceded that the mediation of Christ has a universal aspect, and that His sufferings and death were the source of unspeakable benefit to all men. See “A Manual of Faith and Practice,” page 81. It is, however, denied that the special blessings which His sufferings secured—pardon, peace, reconciliation to God, hope in death, and the enjoyment of heaven—were ever designed for any but those who were “chosen in Him from before the foundation of the world,” nor will they be bestowed on any others.[5]

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[1] See Psa. 102:2; Isa. 35:10; and “A Manual of Faith and Practice,” page 55. On such passages is based what some theologians have styled the Doctrine of Redemption by Power.
[2] “For what the Law could not do, in that it was weak,” &c. This is popularly supposed to mean that all that could be effected by the Law in the case of sinners was their condemnation. It could not save them, because of their inability to meet its re­ quirements. It was “weak through the flesh.” Hence, “In vain we ask God’s righteous Law to justify us now, Since to convince and to condemn is all the Law can do.” It is, however, submitted that the meaning is that the whole penal terrors of the Law could never be visited on sinners, because their natures would be too frail to sustain them. No creature is strong enough to stand the full expression of the anger of God. Hence the Law cannot exhibit its majesty to the full. It is weak through the flesh. But what would be im­ possible if the Law were dealing with creatures, became an actual fact when its penalty was visited on the Lord Jesus. “God sent His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh.” The sins that were laid on Him were punished to the full extent of their enormity. God “condemned sin” in His flesh. In the person of the suffering Saviour, His moral government found its full exemplification and manifestation. Whatever the dread word “damnation” may express and involve, was endured by the broken-hearted Son of God when made sin for us, and on Him, therefore, the Law could exhibit its penal terrors to the uttermost. The writer owes this thought to The Revealed Doctrine of Rewards and Punishments, by B. Winter Hamilton, D.D.
[3] Consistent and Scriptural expositions of passages which appear to contradict the above and to teach the universality of the Atonement, will be found in the Author’s Manual, pages 46-55.
[4] The writer has elsewhere conceded that the term is an unhappy one, since the Atonement does not present the death of Christ in a commercial aspect—in the light of a payment—but as a punishment borne by Him for us. On the cross the Saviour offered a perfect penal equivalent to the sufferings to which the Law would have condemned His people for their sins. A commensurate or equivalent atonement would be a more correct term. See “A Manual of Faith and Practice,” page 49.
[5] The above discusses the Article of Faith which is the main point of divergence between evangelical Arminians and ourselves. Youngreaders who desire fuller information are referred to Coles on Divine Sovereignty; Rushton’s Defence of Particular Redemption, (with the exception of the notoriously erroneous note on page 133;) Nebs, On Arminianism ; Gethsemane, or Thoughts on the sufferings of Christ, by the Author of the Refuge, (namely, as is believed, William Giles, of Chatham, Charles Dickens’ Schoolmaster ); Dr. Gill’s Cause of God and Truth; and the Author’s Manual of Faith and Practioe, pages 45-55. William Palmer’s Free Inquiry, and Tracts on the Atonement, are, in many respects, the best publications on the subject, but they are so rare as to be unobtainable.



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