We are aware that while the Arminians will, irrespective of what the truth of God really is, or what awful consequents such a saying must involve, as that of making out God to be but like one of themselves in the final issues of the mightiest work of his arm, unreservedly say that `There are thousands in hell for whom Christ died, who might have been in heaven.’ Many of the duty faith and universal invitation men will not out and out say so much, nor speak so plain on the absolute failure and coming to nothing of the redemption work of Christ; but with much more studied cunning, aim at a sort of middle way, by so construing Christ’s redemption as that all men individually might go to heaven by it, and so as to make it out the duty of all men to do so, and that all men should be exhorted and invited to do so accordingly; and so making out the redemption of Christ as a kind of might be universal, and yet so as to be complete, and in no way failing, though it be finally but particular only in its real saving effects.
And to establish this more cunning than wise, more subtle than true, more diabolical than righteous and divine scheme, no pains have been spared to denounce and discard every thing in the shape and character of a direct and honorable commercial transaction from the atonement and redemption work of Christ; because any thing in the nature, order, and character of a commercial transaction considered therein, would determine the work of Christ to be too exact, definite, particular and certain, on grounds of equity, and not leave it loose, vague, indiscriminate, unmeaning and uncertain enough, to allow place for universal invitations with any sort of countenance; and so it has been said, `The redemption work of Christ is no bargain.’ But the very word redemption of itself carries every thing in it that belongs to the nature, order and character of a commercial transaction; as in that of a real outlay or price paid, one that pays it, one that receives `the price of redemption,’ and an object freed and rescued by such price paid, or outlay made. Sins are compared to debts, sinners to debtors, and the offended to a creditor, Matt 6:12; Lk 11:4; 7:41,42. And the church is said to be `bought with a price,’ 1 Cor 6:20; and to be the Lord’s `purchased possession,’ Eph 1:14, `which he hath purchased with his own blood,’ Acts 20:28. If to purchase with a price ever was a commercial transaction, the redemption of Christ is hereby declared to be in the very nature and order of such a transaction, by a real purchase, with a real price, to a real possession.
And as to a bargain,’ there is so much of the specificate nature and order of a determinate bargain in the redemption work of Christ, that he is at once called a surety, with an `Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?’ Heb 7:22; Lk 24:26. And from whence comes this ought on Christ, but from a contract-like engagement entered into according to all the afore-written scriptures concerning him? Lk 24:44,46. And what is this glory that he ought and will enter into, but the entire possession of all the mediatorial rights and claims stipulated to him on his accomplishment of his sufferings? Lk 9:30,31. And what are those rights and claims of Christ, as Mediator, less than the full and immortal possession and life, in his own life, of all and every one for whom he made `amends for the harm done,’ Lev 5:16, whom he redeemed from the curse of the law, unto God by his blood, made peace for, and reconciled to God by the death of his cross, through his full discharge of his contracted ought of sufferings for them, saying, `It is finished?’ The glory of Christ lies not in his sufferings, but in the issues perfectly secured, according to the purposed ends and designs thereof; and so he suffers first, and then enters into his glory of a perfect possession of the fruits thereof, without defect or failure; even as the Holy Spirit in the prophets `testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.’
Now to say, for the purpose of making out some sort of a plea for universal invitations, that Christ’s redemption is really in any way or form universal, while salvation evidently is not so to a large extent, is, (1) To say there was none of that order and regularity in it, nor final issue determined, as recorded of it in the truth of the above scriptures. (2) That there is that in the redemption of Christ that might be for good, but will in reality be altogether fruitless and in vain to as large an extent as salvation is not universal. (3) That the sins of all those who are not saved, will, contrary to all laws, human and divine, be twice punished, and that in the full penalty of the guilt thereof by law each time; first, in Christ being made a curse to the full amount the righteous law of God could curse their sins on him as their surety, and next in their being fully damned for the same sins, as though Christ had not suffered for those sins at all; while the sins of those who go to heaven, are but once punished in the sufferings of Christ; and which sufferings were for them a complete atonement and eternal redemption obtained, without once consulting their goodwill or their ill will, whereby to make it to them effectually, eternal redemption. (4) That the will of men, and not the sufferings of Christ, is to determine his entry into his final salvation glory, and the final number of the redeemed inhabitants of heaven. (5) That in regard to the lost, God the Father knowingly punished Christ in vain, and that Christ suffered knowingly in vain, or God the Father must be denied the perfection of his foreknowledge of the ‘end from the beginning;’ and Christ’s Godhead and foreknowledge must be denied, and he be considered to suffer in ignorance, and as a short-sighted man only, as to the final effects thereof.
These appear to me to be awful conclusions, and yet they are only what universal notions of redemption, as an only plea for universal invitations, must bring us to. The first sin on earth was a sort of religious sin, in man’s aspiring to be as God; and now the awful religious sin on the earth is, a making God out to be as one of us, and to wait for the will of man; but without this there is no footing, countenance, or plausible plea whatever, that can be made out for universal invitations; as they must ever stand a direct contradiction to every doctrine of discriminating and sovereign grace; and especially so to the scripture truth of the atonement and redemption of Christ as particular, and as the infallibly determinate boundary of God’s salvation covenant, purpose, and promise in, and by Christ Jesus our Lord; and for these reasons I have drawn out my remarks to the length I have on redemption, and shall now pursue another course of ideas on duty faith.
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.