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 learning and 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 25:51,52. 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 31:11; 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 4:5. 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 48:16; `The Lord liveth, who hath redeemed my soul out of all adversity,’ 2 Sam 4:9; `Out of all distress,’ 1 King 1:29; `Who redeemeth thy life from destruction,’ Psalm 103:4; `I will ransom them from the power of the grave, I will redeem them from death,’ Hosea 13:14; `That he might redeem us from all iniquity,’ Tit 2:14; `Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law,’ Gal 2:13; `From your vain conversation,’ 1 Peter 1:18; `Which were redeemed from the earth,’ Rev 14:3; `These were redeemed from among men,’ verse 4; `Which thou redeemedst to thee from Egypt,’ 2 Sam 7:23; `And hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation,’ Rev 5:9.
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 21:23-25, 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 laborer 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, un-rescued, 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 5:16, 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 4:26,30,31,35; 5:10,13,16,18; 6:7. 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 favors?
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 14:3; 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 51:11. 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.
John Foreman (1792-1872) was a Strict and Particular Baptist preacher. He was appointed the Pastor of Hill Street Chapel, Marylebone, serving this position for close to forty years.