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Peter Martyr Vermigli (1499-1562), Unlimited Redemption and Expiation, Incarnation and Related Issues

September 2, 2007

Unlimited redemption:

1) This word predestination will signify nothing else than the eternal ordinance of God regarding his creatures (Dei de creaturis suis aeternam dispositionem), relating to a certain use. The Scriptures do not often use the word predestination in this sense except with reference to the elect alone. Although in Acts 4 we read “they assembled together to do whatever your hand and purpose predestined to happen” (Acts 4:28). If these words refer to the death of Christ and the redemption of mankind, they do not pass beyond the bounds of election to salvation; if they include those who gathered together against the Lord, they also include the reprobate. Let us make our judgments based on how the Scriptures most often use the term predestination. Peter Martyr Vermigli, Predestination and Justification, trans., by Frank A. James, (Kirksville, Missouri: Sixteenth Century Essays and Studies, 2003), vol., 8, p., 16.

2) “They [the anti-predestinarians] also grant that “Christ died for us all” and infer from this that his benefits are common to everyone. We gladly grant this, too, if we are considering only the worthiness of the death of Christ, for it might be sufficient for all the world’s sinners. Yet even if in itself it is enough, yet it did not have, nor has, nor will have effect in all men. The Scholastics also acknowledge the same thing when they affirm that Christ redeemed all men sufficiently but not effectually.” Peter Martyr Vermigli, Predestination and Justification, trans., by Frank A. James, (Kirksville, Missouri: Sixteenth Century Essays and Studies, 2003), vol., 8, p.,

3) FROM PSALM 74: If it were to happen, O almighty God, which we do not doubt often occurs, that we provoke your wrath against us because of the sins that we have just committed and we bring down the heavy whips which chastise us: remember, I entreat, your goodness and promises which you know we have laid hold of by faith. Do not hand our souls over to the power of those who oppose your glory and our salvation. They strive for nothing but destroying your works or making them useless and bringing to naught the salvation of the human race which you purchased by your mercy. All their efforts are finally aimed at making your name blasphemed and vilified. We ask you to remember how you previously conferred benefits on us. Do not put an end to the work of redemption you have already begun in us. Arise, O God, and assist those who call on you lest the plans of the wicked enjoy success either against your glory or against our salvation. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen. Peter Martyr Vermigli, Sacred Prayers, trans., by John Patrick Donnelly, (Kirksville, Missouri: Sixteenth Century Essays and Studies, 1994), vol 3, p., 69.

4) Even Christ himself, when he had been raised from the dead, carried back with him the scars from his wounds and said to doubting Thomas, “Put your fingers here… in my side and in the nail marks, and do not be faithless, but believing” ((John 20:27). The wounds had already performed their function, for by them the human race was redeemed, but he still had them after he was raised from the dead, that his body might be displayed as the same one which had suffered earlier. Peter Martyr Vermigli, “Resurrection: Commentary on 2 Kings 4″in Philosophical Works, trans., by Joseph P. McLelland, (Kirksville, Missouri: Sixteenth Century Essays and Studies, 1994), vol 4, p., 113.

5) We hope by the grace of God that it will happen that way now, that these letters of ours will not only uncover their lies, tricks, and deceits, but also that those who contend that we had retreated from the received and ancient faith in the Trinity and in the incarnation of the Son of God will be made to tremble in their hands. To show still more clearly that the charge is false, we swear that our churches embrace unanimously and with a firm consensus the three creeds, namely the Nicene, apostles’, and Athanasian creeds, and on this one basis-that without doubt they agree very beautifully with the divine letters. We likewise accept the Councils of Nicaea, Constantinople, first Ephesus, and Chalcedon, as well as the fifth and sixth councils in what they decreed about the blessed Trinity, the incarnation of God’s Son, and the redemption of the human race obtained through him, because we have found that nothing is defined or established there which is not taught by the divinely inspired Scriptures. Peter Martyr Vermigli, “Letter No. 267: To Polish Noblemen,” in Life, Letters and Sermons, trans., by John Patrick Donnelly, (Kirksville, Missouri: Sixteenth Century Essays and Studies, 1999), vol 5, pp., 201-202.

6) The truth lies in this, that justice is offered to us by the word of God; it is likewise manifested and signified by the sacraments, which are God’s visible words. Faith, which is God’s gift, comes into play, and through it we lay hold of the justice put before us. This is why Christ sent out the apostles with the words, “Preach the Gospel to the whole creation”; he added, “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved,” (Mark 16:15-16). In Isaiah, chapter 53, it says that he will justify many by his knowledge ( Isa. 53:11). ‘This is eternal life, that they may know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou has sent,”(John 17:3). The death of the cross, a new kind of sacrifice, is therefore a new altar. He fastened to the cross the handwriting of the decree which was against us and triumphed over his foes. This is the triumphal chariot of Christ. The cross was the balance on which the blood of Christ weighed. The price was paid for the whole world, and if it had not been more precious than the whole world, it would not have redeemed the world. Peter Martyr Vermigli, “On the Death of Christ from Saint Paul ‘s Letter to the Philippians,” in Life, Letters and Sermons, trans., by John Patrick Donnelly, (Kirksville, Missouri: Sixteenth Century Essays and Studies, 1999), vol 5, p., 243.

7) It oftentimes happens, that when we see one in misery, we are touched with mercy, and we help him: which without doubt proceeds of humanity. For so much as we are men, we think that nothing belonging to a man, but it appertains unto us. They are counted in the last and chief place, which benefit others, even with their own grief, hurt and loss. After this manner Christ dealt towards us, he redeemed mankind with the loss of his own life. Whom Jephtha (after a sort) resembled, who delivered the Israelites unto liberty, and that to his great danger (Judges 12:3). Peter Martyr, “Of Benefitting and Unthankfulness,” in The Common Places, trans., and compiled by Anthonie Martin, 1583, part 2, p., 523.

8) We ought also to consider with ourselves, when we hear that Christ died for our sins, how outrageous and cruel our sin is; seeing, it behooved the Son of God to be therefore delivered unto the death of the cross. Neither let any man tell me, that God might have redeemed the world by some other means; and that it was not altogether necessary for the salvation of man, that the son of God should be fastened to the cross. For if we once determine, that God is a most wise and just considerer of things; we will acknowledge, that he choosing this means of our salvation, did exceedingly detest the nature of sin, when he decreed to give his own son unto death, and that unto a shameful death; to the end he might rid his elect from sin. Neither will we judge it to be done without cause, if we remember that sin is the only thing, whereby we resist God. There is nothing in the world, or in the nature of things, except it be sin, that resists the will of God: which property spreads so far, as it does not only comprehend those sins, which the schoolmen call actual sins, but also original sin, and the first motions of the mind. Peter Martyr, “Of the Names and Titles of Christ,” in The Common Places, trans., and compiled by Anthonie Martin, 1583, part 2, p., 607.

9) So far is it off, that God rejoices in the blood of man, as he rejoices not in the blood of beasts: only he suffered for a time, that sacrifices of brute beasts should be offered, to the intent he might instruct men by little and little. But what sacrifices of the forefathers signified, which might serve for their instruction; he declares not in that place: howbeit, I will show the same in few words. First there was set forth in those sacrifices namely that The reward of sin is death: and that did he after a sort testify, which brought the sacrifice; namely, that he had deserved to be killed, but that by the goodness of God his death was transferred to the sacrifice. By this means were the elder fathers instructed to beware of sin. Moreover, those sacrifices directed the minds of men unto Christ; and they were certain visible preachings of him: and they taught, that Christ should be that sacrifice, that was to take away the sins of the world; and unto which our death and damnation should be transferred.

So then God of himself delighted not in blood, but by this schooling he taught his people: yea, and if he had been delighted in sacrifices he might have required to have them levied of men. For what should have letted1 him; or what injury should he have done unto us, if he would have had sacrifices of men offered unto him. For at one time or other, man must of necessity die: wherefore it had been no very grievous thing to have prevented him for a year or two; neither should he have done any injury unto us, especially we understanding that we should live with him forever. Undoubtedly in this thing no man might accuse God of cruelty. But now, seeing he has removed all these sacrifices, he manifestly teaches that he does not rejoice, neither in the blood of men, nor yet in the blood of beasts. Yea the first born of men, when they were bound unto him, he would not have them sacrificed, but redeemed with a price which he would not have done, if he had taken any pleasure in blood. In the 121 chapter of Deuteronomy, he says: ‘The nation which I will drive out before thee, do sacrifice their sons and daughters, but see that thou do not do so.’ But Augustine demanded further; Whether there be any slaughter of men, that is acceptable unto God? He answers that there is. But what slaughter? When men (says he) are killed for righteousness sake: not that the death of the martyrs of itself pleases God, but because that godliness and faith towards God is both declared and also preserved thereby. And the death of Christ pleased God, that it redeemed the whole world

Augustine added moreover, that although the fathers sometimes sinned; yet it nothing hinders, but that God may use their sins to signify those things, which might instruct the people. For God is so good, that even out of very sins he picks laudable commodities; and makes them allegorically to declare what seems profitable to him. In like manner as when Judas played the harlot with his daughter-in-law: the same signified, that God would couple unto him his church, which before was an harlot. And so it may be, that by this act of Jephta, he signified: that God loved mankind as he would give his only begotten son to die for it: for he did not in vain, and without any cause suffer such a thing to be done by the fathers. Albeit they grievously sinned, yet could God use their actions to the instruction of his people. They were amazed at the sacrifices of beasts; neither did they (as it had been meet they should) lift up their eyes of their mind unto Christ. Wherefore God would by this means stir up them that were sluggish, that by the human sacrifice of the daughter of Jeptha, they might be led to think of upon Christ: for he it was that should give life and become the sacrifice for mankind. Peter Martyr, “The Vow of Jephta,” in The Common Places, trans., and compiled by Anthonie Martin, 1583, part 3, pp., 184-5 and 186.

10) Which was the figure of that which was to come.] By hat which was to come, we may understand all that which afterward happened in all men, which proceeded from Adam: which were as well as he, obnoxious unto the curse and unto death. So the first father was a figure and form of all his posterity. Howbeit we may more simply and more aptly refer this unto Christ. For in that comparison Paul wonderfully much delighted. Chrysostom also leans his way, and says, “that the Apostle, with great cunning, and manifold and sundry ways handles these words, of one, and one: to make us to understand, hat those things are to be compared together, which have come unto us by one Adam, and by one Christ.” And this is very worthy, nothing in Chrysostom that he says, “Even in Adam was the cause of death unto all men, although they did not eat of the tree, so Christ was made unto his a conciliator of righteousness, although they themselves had wrought no righteousness.” In which place he most manifestly declares, that we are not justified by our works. He says, moreover, “That by this discourse of the Apostle we are thoroughly sensed against the Jews, if they chance to deride us, for that we believe, that by one Christ was redeemed the whole world. For we will object again unto them, that they also confess, that by one Adam was all things corrupted: which seems to be a great deal more absurd, if we look upon human reason, then to say, that by one Christ all men have been helped.” In this place the Apostle begins to entreat of that, which was the fourth part, of this division: namely,, by whom sin was excluded. And this he declares was brought to pass by Christ, whom he makes like unto Adam, so all also in their order depend of Christ: and as the one merited for all his, so also the other. Peter Martir Vermilius Florentine, Most learned and fruitful Commentaries of D. Peter Martir Vermilius Florentine, Professor of Divinity in he School of Tigure, upon the Epistle of S. Paul to the Romans: wherein are diligently & most profitably entreated all such matters and chief common places of religion touched in the same Epistle, (Imprinted at London by Iohn Daye, 1558), 115[b].

11) And so great was the goodness of God in this sacrifice, that whereas therein were committed of men many horrible acts (for they both condemned an innocent man, and also most spitefully crucified the Lord of glory) yet the divine clemency was nothing at all offended with this so great iniquity and ingratitude, but that it counted as most acceptable the obedience of Christ, and his infinite love, and unmeasurable patience, & accepted it for the redemption of mankind. Peter Martir Vermilius Florentine, Most learned and fruitful Commentaries of D. Peter Martir Vermilius Florentine, Professor of Divinity in he School of Tigure, upon the Epistle of S. Paul to the Romans: wherein are diligently & most profitably entreated all such matters and chief common places of religion touched in the same Epistle, (Imprinted at London by Iohn Daye, 1558), 108[a].

Sufficient redemption for all:

1) Not all those who are called are predestined. For Christ said: “Many are called, but few are chosen” (Matt 22:14). But they contend that the calling is universal and that God would wish everyone saved. If it is understood as universal calling because it is offered to all and no one is excluded by name, it is true. If it is also called universal because the death of Christ and his redemption is sufficient for the whole world; that also is most true. But if this universality is meant so that he it is in everyone’s hand to receive the promises, I deny it: because to some it is given, to others it is not given. As if we did not see also that for a long time the very preaching of the Gospel was not given to many places, ages, and nations. God would have all to be saved, provided they believe. He gives faith to whom it seems good to him. For he may justly do with his own what he will. Peter Martyr Vermigli, “Free Will and Predestination” in Philosophical Works, trans., by Joseph P. McLelland, (Kirksville, Missouri: Sixteenth Century Essays and Studies, 1994), vol 4, p., 332.

2) Futher, though all men are not brought to salvation, yet the merit and grace of Christ, was of itself sufficient for all men. Peter Martir Vermilius Florentine, Most learned and fruitful Commentaries of D. Peter Martir Vermilius Florentine, Professor of Divinity in he School of Tigure, upon the Epistle of S. Paul to the Romans: wherein are diligently & most profitably entreated all such matters and chief common places of religion touched in the same Epistle, (Imprinted at London by Iohn Daye, 1558), 116[b].

Sins of the world:

1) FROM PSALM 22 : You were able to bring it about, O almighty God, that your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, suffered on the cross for the sins of men so much that he seemed to have been deserted and deprived of all help. You, who are wont to bring aid to your saints when they call upon you, seemed to spurn the prayers of our Savior, as if he were a worm and no man, the dregs of the people and the shame of humankind. You bore this even until he was killed in a most shameful death by angry Jews who circled about him not unlike rabid dogs, ferocious bulls, and roaring lions. But later you summoned him back from death so glorious that his faithful members forever praise and glorify your name on that account. Therefore through that abundant mercy of pours, which led you to hand over your only Son to such great sufferings, we pray and beseech you not to allow the cause of your suffering Church to perish. We confess that our sins are horrible; because of them we have earned not just temporal but eternal death. O God, do not look upon us as we are in ourselves, but as members of your only begotten Son. Protect effectually and defend powerfully our evangelical cause, which is your own cause and which the enemies of religion think you have deserted. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen…

FROM THE SAME PSALM: O great and good God, Jesus Christ, your Son and our Lord, underwent bitter punishments and harsh tortures for the salvation of the human race. Since he had taken upon himself all of the world’s sins, it was necessary for him to be torn apart in such a frightful and cruel way that he could fully supply just punishment for all men. At last mounted upon the cross he poured out his sweet life for us and thereby merited for us the remission of sins, your friendship, and life everlasting, provided that we steadfastly believe in his teaching and Gospel. But, alas, because we are weak in faith we easily forget his great benefits; worse still, we live a life unworthy of the redemption that cost our innocent Lord so much. Hence we weep before you, heavenly Father, over this disaster and beg and beseech you not to allow us to be bereft of the fruit of the cross and death of our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you forever and ever. Amen. Peter Martyr Vermigli, Sacred Prayers, trans., by John Patrick Donnelly, (Kirksville, Missouri: Sixteenth Century Essays and Studies, 1994), vol 3, pp.22-23.

2) In the first to the Corinthians, when he had reckoned a bedroll of most heinous sins, he says; These things undoubtedly were you sometimes, but ye are washed, but you are sanctified. Wherefore, we have the Son of God given unto us, as a pledge of the love of God. He placed not in his stead an angel, or an archangel; although he might have done. He vouchsafed to come himself, and to suffer a most bitter death upon the cross. It behooved, that for our redemption there should be some such good thing offered into GOD, which might either equally, or else more please God, than all the sins of the world had displeased him. And this has Christ offered for us. Peter Martyr, The Common Places, trans., and compiled by Anthonie Martin, 1583, part 2, p 610.

3) The same author2 in his book On Providence, tome I, folio 368, says: “For they saw that this matter was not just signified by symbols, but was done in plain sight, by which the sins of the whole world were expiated, although nothing was done about it. Only those repented whom the Holy Spirit enlightened, that they might know him to be the savior; and the Father drew them that they might come to him and embrace him; further, to know that outward things can do nothing but signify and show,” etc. . Peter Martyr Vermigli, “Free Will and Predestination” in Philosophical Works, trans., by Joseph P. McLelland, (Kirksville, Missouri: Sixteenth Century Essays and Studies, 1994), vol 4, p., 302.3

Christ died for mankind:

1) But of the sin of Adam the question is the more difficult, because thee was no fall of his went before, which should be punished by God with a latter sin. Yet unto this we answer, that the action of his, that is, the subject of deformity and unrighteousness was of God; but the privation or defect of the free will of Adam, whom God created uncorrupt, free and perfect; but yet not so, that he might not revolt and do amiss. Neither was the grace of God whereby he should be kept back from falling, so great, as it did firmly establish him. And it cannot be doubted, but that God would that Adam should fall; otherwise he had not fallen: and he would have him fall; but that he might use the fall to make manifest his power, and the unmeasurable riches of his goodness: and that he might show himself able, not only to restore him also, bing fallen and perished. And for that cause he sent his son to die for mankind upon the cross. Wherefore Gregory cried out; “O happy fault, which deserved to have such a redeemer!” Peter Martyr, The Common Places, trans., and compiled by Anthonie Martin, 1583, part 1, p 204.

Christ died for all men:

1) Wherefore, seeing children have need of the sacrament of regeneration, it follows necessarily, that they be born under the power of sin. Paul unto the Ephesians the 2. Chapter says; that We are by nature the children of wrath. But our nature could not be hateful unto God, unless it were defiled with sin. And in the same place, with most weighty words describes the fierceness of his wrath; how that We walk according to the prince of this world, which is of the strength in our hearts, by reason of our disobedience, and therefore we do the will of the flesh, and of our mind. Augustine also cites a place out of the first epistle to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 15:22), that Christ died for all men: wherefore it follows that all men were dead, and had need of his death. But it is a wicked thing, to exclude children out of the number of them, for whom Christ died. But if you shall demand what kind of persons they were, for whom Christ suffered; this did the apostle sufficiently declare, in the epistle to the Romans, when he said, that they were weak, God’s enemies, ungodly, and sinners. Among whom we must reckon young children, if we grant that Christ died for them. Peter Martyr, The Common Places, trans., and compiled by Anthonie Martin, 1583, part 2, p., 214-215.4

2) And Christ said: ‘Unless a man is born anew of the water and of the Spirit, &c (John. 3:5). Whereby is manifest, that if it behooves us to be born again, we be born in sin. And unto the Corinthians the 2. Epistle and 5. Chapter (verse 14), is said of Christ: That the one died for all men. But and if be dead for all, it is manifest that the infants also had need of a redeemer. And it is said unto the Romans: Christ died for that were sinners, enemies, and week, and ungodly (Ro. 5:6,8, & 10): it follows that infants also are such, in their own nature when they be born, unless we will say, that Christ died not for them, which is against the judgement of Paul now alleged. Peter Martyr, “Of the Holiness of Infants,” in The Common Places, trans., and compiled by Anthonie Martin, 1583, part 4, p.,116.

Christ died for his persecutor:

1) And Augustine unto Marcellinus writes: Not to revenge: and there he plainly writes, that these be without doubt precepts, and always necessary as touching external execution, that must always be done, which we perceive to make most for the glory of God, and the salvation of them with whom we deal. For Christ when he was beaten by a servant of the high priest (John 18:23), did not turn his cheek to him, but rather reproved him, when as nevertheless he ready as touching the mind, both to die, and to be crucified for his salvation. Peter Martyr, “Whether a Christian May Go to Law,” in The Common Places, trans., and compiled by Anthonie Martin, 1583, part 4, p., 279.

Christ head of humanity:

1) This death of Christ, which we can never contemplate or celebrate enough, involved two awesome conditions: first, it was most shameful; then, it was extremely bitter. The reproaches that Christ bore in his dying, though many in number and very painful, flowed from two sources: first, from the ugliness of the sins that were loaded on him, and then from the purity, innocence, and righteousness of his life. A gross and ugly blot is never more unbecoming in a city’s streets than when it is smeared on the portrait of a dear and noble person by some wicked and envious man. Since man has the greatest dignity among all creatures, it is repugnant to see him defiled by infamy. But Christ, who is the head over humanity, the Prince of angels and only Son of God, was not simply righteous and innocent but the very essence of righteousness and innocence. Peter Martyr Vermigli,The Apostle’s Creed,” in Early Writings: Creed, Scripture, Church, trans., by Mariano Di Gangi and Joseph C. McLelland, (Kirksville, Missouri: Sixteenth Century Essays and Studies, 1994), vol 1, p., 39.

Christ Saviour of the world:

1) FROM PSALM 117: You founded the human race, O almighty God, so that all nations might come together in joint praise of your name. To accomplish this, in ages past you predestined patriarchs, prophets, and apostles for this task, and now when everything has been defaced with darkness, abuse, and defilement you have gathered us into the Church for that same work. So that we can carry it out as smoothly and skillfully as possible, we pray that our iniquities and sins do not block our path. Just as we confess that they are countless and serious, so we urge humbly that you forgive them and blot them out. As you see, we are already so encircled by dangers and so close to being crushed that we have taken you alone as our only refuge. We beg you to look after how our faith is propped up by your Spirit lest it collapse amidst these troubles. Place before our eyes, we pray, the goodness which you have always bestowed upon the godly so that fully and clearly recognizing it, we may not harbor doubts about whether now too you will be the trusty protector of your Church. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

FROM THE SAME PSALM: When the human race was suffering from total blindness, O great and good God, and was overwhelmed by infinite misfortunes, your indescribable kindness stood by it. Because of that kindness you deigned to hand over your only begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, for the salvation of the world. We therefore owe you undying thanks, for we see that we have been saved not in the least by our merits but by your pure and solid goodness. Since we have experienced you to be so steadfast and trustworthy in your promises, it is right that we do not doubt that the few things that still remain to be fulfilled will come to pass at a time which you have predestined, through your supreme mercy and inexhaustible goodness. Accordingly we ask you to so strengthen our hearts with the spirit of faith that we may believe without the slightest doubt and not only lay hold of the good things you offer us but also that together with all nations and peoples we may give you in the Church the thanks you deserve for all your generosity. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen. Peter Martyr Vermigli, Sacred Prayers, trans., by John Patrick Donnelly, (Kirksville, Missouri: Sixteenth Century Essays and Studies, 1994), vol 3, p., 117.

2) The prophet calls us to this holy building up of the temple of God and stirs us up; and since he reproves the Jews for ceasing from such godly work, it is necessary to see what causes hindered them. The first is that they claimed that the time had not yet come for building the house of God (Hag. 1:2). In this they showed their negligence and lack of skill in the Scriptures. The Lord had decreed by Jeremiah that after seventy years his temple should be rebuilt. These years having passed, they showed themselves to be unmindful of this prophecy (Jer 29:10-14). For the same reason the scribes and pharisees did not accept Christ, for if they had diligently counted up Daniel’s weeks Dan. 9:24-27), and had considered the prophecy of Jacob, who foretold that the scepter should not be taken away from the Jews until Messiah had come, (Geb 49:10), they might easily have known that the savior of the world was truly at the door. Therefore Christ rebuked them, that they did not know the time of their visitation (Luke 19:44). Peter Martyr Vermigli, “Sermon on Haggi,” in Life, Letters and Sermons, trans., by John Patrick Donnelly, (Kirksville, Missouri: Sixteenth Century Essays and Studies, 1999), vol 5, p., 255.

Christ the redeemer of the human race:

1) In I Corinthians, Paul says, “For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised” (1 Cor 15:16), which is total nonsense. For he would be held in death right up to this moment, which is appropriate neither for God nor the redeemer of the human race. If he has not arisen, neither did he truly die; otherwise he would be held by death Hence, those who deny the resurrection of the dead likewise assert that Christ did not truly die; they do not want him to have had true human flesh but a phantasm, and to have died only in phantasy, that is, only in appearance. Peter Martyr Vermigli, “Resurrection: Commentary on 2 Kings 4″in Philosophical Works, trans., by Joseph P. McLelland, (Kirksville, Missouri: Sixteenth Century Essays and Studies, 1994), vol 4, p., 48.

Christ sent to redeem the human race:

1) They miss the point who think that Christ’s soul descended to the lower hell, where the damned are punished as their deeds deserve, so that there his soul might also bear the pains and torments of the wicked to deliver us from these evils. These are foolish human deceptions which find no support in the divine writings. When Christ was giving up his soul on the cross he said, “It is finished” (John 19:30), by dying he had completed his vocation insofar as he was sent to redeem the human race, and had acquired for us salvation by that unique oblation or sacrifice, as is written in Hebrews.”Scattered through the divine writings are statements that we have been redeemed by the death, cross, and blood of Christ, but never by the torments and pains of hell which he underwent after death. Peter Martyr Vermigli, “Resurrection: Commentary on 2 Kings 4″ in Philosophical Works, trans., by Joseph P. McLelland, (Kirksville, Missouri: Sixteenth Century Essays and Studies, 1994), vol 4, pp., 80-81.

2) The same author in chapter 10 of book 12 of his Thesaurus, again writes on the same letter this way: “The one God and the one mediator of God and human beings is Jesus Christ, who gave himself for the redemption of all. Jesus Christ is the mediator of God and human beings not only because he had reconciled the human race with God, but also because he is by nature and by substance both God and man in one hypostasis. For this is the way that God reconciled our nature to himself. Otherwise how could Paul have called Christ the one mediator? Many of the saints have used the ministry of mediator. Paul himself cries out, ‘We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God,’ (2 Cor 5:20). Moses was also a mediator: he provided the children of Israel with the law given by God.” Blessed Jeremiah was also a mediator, especially when he was crying out to God, “Remember how I stood before thee to speak good for them,” (Jer. 18:20). What more? Each one of the prophets was a mediator, and also each one of the apostles. How then is Christ the unique mediator of God and the human race unless he had a new mediatorship unheard of in the others? But it is not strange to restrict also the degree [of mediatorship]. The thing that joins two things together as a medium has to be in touch with both. In this way diverse things are joined together through the medium. But Christ is the mediator of God and human beings because God and humans are joined in him alone. He himself is, however, not a third something beyond God and man, but he is truly God and truly man. For he himself is our peace. And since he is joined with us by nature, our nature is joined to the divine substance in him, and in this way we communicate in the divine nature. How then will the Son of God be a creature if our nature which is joined to him is truly joined to God? …Therefore passing over the mission by which the Father destined the Son to save our race through his flesh, they removed the office of mediator from the divinity. Peter Martyr Vermigli, “Letter No. 267: To Polish Noblemen,” in Life, Letters and Sermons, trans., by John Patrick Donnelly, (Kirksville, Missouri: Sixteenth Century Essays and Studies, 1999), vol 5, pp., 214-215, and 217.

3) He would never allow his Church to ever forget with indifference that in the last age of the world he handed over his only begotten Son to death and the cross to redeem the world. He therefore not only took care that the death of Christ be recorded in the sacred written memorials of both the Old and New Testaments, but also when he was about to leave the world for his Father, he left to his disciples the institution of the sacrament of the Eucharist to be performed among the faithful. Peter Martyr Vermigli, “On the Death of Christ from Saint Paul‘s Letter to the Philippians,” in Life, Letters and Sermons, trans., by John Patrick Donnelly, (Kirksville, Missouri: Sixteenth Century Essays and Studies, 1999), vol 5, p., 234.

4) For if one be wicked, and false of promise: yet ought not thou for that cause to think from thy promises; seeing God does offtentimes keep promises even with us that do evil. He promised, that he would continue the kingdom, or else some great honour in the family of David, even unto Messias. He promised that he would give a son which should redeem mankind. Men undoubtedly were evil, unthankful, and unworthy to have the promises kept with them: yet did he perform these things to them, according to his excellent faithfulness. Peter Martyr, “Of Keeping Faith with the Faithfuless,” in The Common Places, trans., and compiled by Anthonie Martin, 1583, part 2, p., 549.

5) Also, another kind of testimonies is had out o the acts of the old fathers; which were certain foreshadowings, that Christ should come to redeem mankind. Peter Martyr, “Christ the End of the Law,” in The Common Places, trans., and compiled by Anthonie Martin, 1583, part 2, p., 581.

6) But these things must not so be understood, as they our faith should not be directed, even unto the death of the Lord. Indeed it is true, that the heretics confess that Christ has been slain: but they believe not the same to be done for the sins of men, but either for some fault of his own, or else by injury. Wherefore we assuredly believe, that he was crucified for the salvation and redemption of mankind. So as our faith is exercised, as well in the death of Christ, as in his resurrection. And that, which he brings out of the tenth chapter to the Romans, does make nothing against us. For who understands not, that in the faith of the resurrection of Christ, is comprehended that faith also, which we have of his death and cross. Wherefore, there remains two other interpretations very likely to be true. Whereof the first is, that by the very death of Christ, the price of our redemption was performed. But that this might be applied unto us, there was need of the Holy Ghost, by whom we might be led to believe Christ; that is should be expedient for us, that he had risen from death, that he had sent abroad his apostles to preach in all parts, and that he is now with his Father as an intercession and high priest. Peter Martyr, ‘Of Christ’s Death and Resurrection,” The Common Places, trans., and compiled by Anthonie Martin, 1583, part 2, p., 609.

7) The sum of the preaching of the Gospel is peace, especially with God: for they which do preach (as the apostle teaches in the latter epistle to the Corinthians) bring with them the words of reconciliation. Neither exhort anything else, but that we should be reconciled unto God through Christ. God in times past, was angry with mankind, he punished and condemned them, he rejected their prayers and their works: and although they were notable, yet did he abhor them; because they were the works of his enemies. And on the other side, men were not only miserable, but also they hated even God himself; they wished that there might be no god, they detested his judgements, and fled from him as a from a tyrant and cruel executioner; for that their own conscience on every side accused them. But the Gospel preaches peace and reconciliation through Christ. This is it which the angels did sing at the birth of Christ; ‘Glory on high, peace on earth, and good will towards men.’ The angels approved this work of God, which had decreed by his Son to redeem mankind. And this their praise and commendation, is the glory of God. Moreover, forsomuch as we now through Christ be reconciled unto God, we obtain peace inwardly as touching our mind: for being renewed by grace, and the Spirit, we lead an upright life; neither do our wicked affections turmoil us any more, our conscience reproves us not, neither are our hearts, by spurious rages stirred up to perturbations. Peter Martyr,“Of Peace and Christian Liberty,” in The Common Places, trans., and compiled by Anthonie Martin, 1583, part 3, p., 161.

8) On the other side here what example of faithfulness the Ministers of our time have. Some one of them has three or four Parishes, and is not able to take the charge of all, yea rather he will not dwell at one with them, but be absent for the greater part of the year as long as he can from them all. In the mean time if a man reprove him, he says, that he ha appointed another there in his place. But this so faithful a Minister considers not that Christ, when he was by his coming and death to redeem mankind, did send none in his place, nor substitute another unto the Cross in his stead. He himself came, he himself labored, he himself died for us. Peter Martyr, “The office of Pastors,” in The Common Places, trans., and compiled by Anthonie Martin, 1583, part 4, p., 20.

Christ sent deliver the mankind:

1) And he that slays himself, does injury to mankind, and to the common society of men: for he takes away a citizen of from the Common-weal.

And withal, that neither the prophets, nor the apostles, nor the patriarchs, would at any time kill themselves. Job, when he was miserably afflicted; “my soul” says he, “has wished to perish and die”: yet did he never slay himself. Christ sent out his apostles, as sheep among the wolves; yet he had them flee out of one city into another but not to kill themselves. And Christ himself, although by his death he was to deliver mankind; yet did he never offer to kill himself, but tarried to be slain by others. Peter Martyr, “Of Murder” in The Common Places, trans., and compiled by Anthonie Martin, 1583, part 2, p., 391.

2) Undoubtedly, god is truly said to come to us many ways; but yet properly and specially, is the Son of God, which is the true God, came in the nature of man to save mankind. For although God be in every place; yet we say, that he came; because he put upon him the nature of man: and thus we say he came unto us, and presented himself unto us; both the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Peter Martyr, “Of Christ, and his Manifestation in the Flesh; and by What Means He Performed All the Parts of Our Salvation,” in The Common Places, trans., and compiled by Anthonie Martin, 1583, part 2, p., 599.

God reconciles to the world:

1) There are many matters of importance to be considered here, so many that I hardly know where to begin. Yet some must be emphasized, however briefly. First let me ask you: Does it seem strange to you that if God could reconcile the world to himself in some easier way, he chose to do it by exposing his own Son to these sufferings? Was he not free to achieve a state of peace in some other way? Why did he let him endure these agonies and woes? I could answer that it was because otherwise the justice of God would not have been fully satisfied. This reply contains a truth known by all. In this respect, however, there are three truths to be noted carefully. The first is that by this bitter means of our salvation, we should understand how great a debt our sins incurred, how heavy was the sum and weight of them, and how severe was the wrath of God against us, when so severe a retribution was required.Peter Martyr Vermigli,The Apostle’s Creed,” in Early Writings: Creed, Scripture, Church, trans., by Mariano Di Gangi and Joseph C. McLelland, (Kirksville, Missouri: Sixteenth Century Essays and Studies, 1994), vol 1, p., 41.

2) Next to life, which all wish to lead happily, men for the most part desire to have God well pleased with them. If we are unsure of this, our mind is anxious, our thoughts troublesome, our conscience tormenting, creatures terrify us as avengers and harsh servants of God, nothing is quiet inside us or out, we fear both heaven and hell alike, bearing to God the same hatred as to the devil, for the one we fear as an executioner and the other as a judge. In this condition the holy scriptures help us, teaching that the heavenly Father is at peace with mankind by no other means than by the sacrifice of his only begotten Son, Through this sacrifice God has made an everlasting covenant with his people, has forgiven our sins, has adopted those who believe as his children, has committed them to his first begotten Son for salvation, and has incorporated them and made them heirs of his heavenly kingdom. Peter Martyr “The Oxford Disputation and Treatise, 1549,” in The Life, Early Letters & Eucharistic Writings of Peter Martyr, ed., by J.C. McLelland and G.E. Duffield (Sutton Courtney Press, 1989), p., 163.

3) And having so great a benefit given of God, by the death and burial of Christ; we should do him no small wrong, if we would in very need think, that our own works avail anything for reconcilement of us unto him: when as we profess rather by this article of faith, that he was pacified with mankind, by the only death of Christ, and by his bitter passion. Peter Martyr, “An Exposition Upon the Creed,” in The Common Places, trans., and compiled by Anthonie Martin, 1583, part 2, p 621.

4) 39 But and if we should demand, whether God have at any time delighted in human sacrifice, that we will not deny: for through the death of Christ, god was well-pleased with mankind. And that which in many places of the law us written as touching sacrifices; to wit, that God smelled those things as sweet savor: that must be referred, not unto the cattle which was sacrificed, but unto the principle type that was shadowed by them, that is, unto Christ, whose death nevertheless did not verily and by itself please God, but so far forth as it proceeded from a true obedience, perfect mind, and singular charity. Peter Martyr,”Of Human Sacrifices,” in The Common Places, trans., and compiled by Anthonie Martin, 1583, part 2, p 360.

The cross displays God’s mercy to mankind:

1) Both God and the devil wished to have Jerusalem destroyed, but for different reasons: God, that he might punish the obstinate; the devil, that he might satisfy his cruel hatred against mankind. Christ was to be given up to the cross, and it was done; as this deed proceeds from the hatred and malice of the Jews it was evil; but since God would have mercy upon mankind through that most holy event, it was good. Therefore it is said in the Acts of the Apostles that “they did those things against the Son of God which his counsel and hand had decreed” (Acts 4:27-28). Peter Martyr Vermigli, “Whether God is the Author of Sin” in Philosophical Works, trans., by Joseph P. McLelland, (Kirksville, Missouri: Sixteenth Century Essays and Studies, 1994), vol 4, p., 228.

Christ shed his blood for apostates:

1) Further also, seeing by the mercy of God, through the death of Christ, we are so steadfastly placed; we must take heed, that through wicked and shameful acts, we throw not ourselves down headlong from thence. For they, which after they have been once reconciled, persist in defiling themselves with vices, do not only fall headlong from their most excellent state and condition; but also (as it is written unto the Hebrews) do tread under foot the Son of God (Heb. 10:29), and pollute his blood, which was shed for them. By this place also we are taught to love our enemies, not after that ordinary manner; as when men are wont to say, that it is enough to wish well unto their enemy, they will put no endeavor, either to amend him, or to bring him to salvation. And that, which is more grievous, they not only are not beneficial towards their enemies; but also through their slothfulness, they suffer the weak brethren to perish. They wink at their faults, neither do they use their admonitions and reprehensions to amend them. Peter Martyr, The Common Places, trans., and compiled by Anthonie Martin, 1583, part 2, p., 611.

Redeemed souls perishing (implied):

1) In Second Corinthians, where Paul writes about the army of his holy congregation, he also deals with his own authority and that of the other apostles. He states that the aim of apostolic authority is edification, not destruction. This is in contrast to what we see today. Power is usurped by those who want to be recognized as extraordinary heads of the Church and men of apostolic status, even while they oppose their strength to that of the Word of God and forbid the pure preaching of the way of our justification. With man-made regulations, they set infinite snares and traps for the souls of people entrusted to their care, whom Christ redeemed by his most precious blood. They contaminate and defile the holy sacraments ordained by him-especially the holy Supper of the Lord which they have turned into an intolerable idolatry. Peter Martyr Vermigli,”The Apostle’s Creed,” in Early Writings: Creed, Scripture, Church, trans., by Mariano Di Gangi and Joseph C. McLelland, (Kirksville, Missouri: Sixteenth Century Essays and Studies, 1994), vol 1, pp., 62-63.

2) If excommunication were exercised by the whole Church gathered together, where the Word of God is publicly preached, rather than secretly in a back room at the will and whim and tyranny of one individual, the result would be very different. When this severe and yet loving judgment against offenders is motivated by charity and the Spirit of Christ, you will reap fruit other than what is harvested these days. What is bound or loosed on earth by the Church duly assembled would be ratified in heaven, as Christ promised. We see this quite clearly in Paul’s words to the Corinthians,” (1 Cor. 5:1-5).H e not only writes about the form of the meeting to carry out this work, but clearly explains what sort of sin should be wounded by this knife. But such sins are disregarded nowadays. They inflict excommunication for things like legacies, testaments, debts, or violated jurisdictions, thanks to their preoccupation with worldly matters and their neglect of God’s honor as well as the salvation of souls redeemed by Christ’s blood. As though this were not enough, even those who live and may have sinned at the ends of Europe or even the ends of the earth, are perversely excommunicated at Rome. This comes about by the will of some individual who has good connections. No wonder excommunications have become so useless and fruitless! Peter Martyr Vermigli,”The Apostle’s Creed,” in Early Writings: Creed, Scripture, Church, trans., by Mariano Di Gangi and Joseph C. McLelland, (Kirksville, Missouri: Sixteenth Century Essays and Studies, 1994), vol 1, p., 68.

Redeemed sheep perishing:

1) Again let him take heed which he has taken in hand to deal in, namely the word of God and Sacraments of Christ, which to have corrupted or falsely to have taught is a grievous sin. And let him no less consider, who they which are committed unto him: for they be no vulgar men, but the sons of God, the sheep of Christ redeemed by his blood

The duty of the a Pastor is, so faithfully to behave himself, that through his default he may not suffer the least silly sheep (though it be abject) to perish in the church. He rather ought to follow Christ, who said, ‘that He came to seek that which was lost, and to save that which had perished.’5 Peter Martyr, “The Office of Pastors,” in The Common Places, trans., and compiled by Anthonie Martin, 1583, part 4, pp., 19 and 20.

Christ died for our neighbours:

Introductory comments: Who is our Neighbour, and how our Neighbour-Brother can perish:

These do happen unto every man by chance, and every man is bound to do good unto those, which be joined to him, and such be called his neighbors. Which word is not restrained only to the conjunction that we have with our kindred, country, or particular place… A neighbour; must be understood as touching them, which by the will of God through happy occasion do meet, or be joined unto us, or be commended unto us: be it by means of kindred, of friendship, or of meeting by the way. We are accounted to their neighbours, to whom God does associate, and join us by any manner of means. Which appears in that man, who in the parable of the Lord (Luke 10: 36) is described to have gone down from Jerusalem unto Jericho. This man being ill-treated by thieves, & being an inhabitant of Jerusalem, yet was a Samaritan declared to be his neighbour; notwithstanding that he was of a contrary religion unto him, and pertains to another kingdom. He was neighbour to him; because the will of God was, that he should meet him. In that case therefore he was his neighbour, which deferred not his help, when there was present necessity, that might not be deferred; and then there was not other help. Peter Martyr, “Of Well-Doing and Hospitality,” in The Common Places, trans., and compiled by Anthonie Martin, 1583, part 2, p., 519.

At this point the objection will come up: “What? John writes that every one should lay down his life for his brother (1 John 3:16). Therefore when we know and see that the members of Christ are shut up in prison, it is not right to desert them by fleeing while we look out for our own safety and are not touched by the suffering of our afflicted brethren.” Here we have to make a distinction: the death of our neighbor is either bodily or spiritual. If we are talking about the corporal or external death of our neighbors, in my judgment we do not always have to lay down our corporal life for them-something I could confirm with both many examples and also arguments. But if we are dealing with the spiritual death of a brother, one should indeed die if by his bodily death one can help him so that he does not perish for eternity. On this basis Christ died for us; it will be the disciples’ task to imitate the master himself. Therefore if someone has a sure hope that he will be able to help a brother by his presence, encouragement, and consolation so that he does not fall into eternal destruction, he ought to remain even if he does it at the risk of his life and, as the Scripture requires, he lays down his corporeal life for his brother’s eternal salvation. Peter Martyr Vermigli, “Letter No. 5 On Flight in Persecution,” in Life, Letters and Sermons, trans., by John Patrick Donnelly, (Kirksville, Missouri: Sixteenth Century Essays and Studies, 1999), vol 5, pp., 83-84.

1) You think you are strong because you want to use that strength to oppress others so that you may be carried about. Would it not be better that you should support and carry the weak? “But he hates me.” Then be reconciled with him. You look for a limb when something is cut off from the body; you immediately race to the doctor for him to rejoin it to the rest of the body. Why do you not do the same thing for your brother? He is sick; you want him to leave with his sickness. His love grows cold; then rekindle him with your love. “It is not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick.” You look down upon him, whom Christ loved so much that he would die for him, even though he was Christ’s enemy. Now he has Christ for his head, for his clothing, for his table, for his spouse, for his light, for his life. If you hate him, you are like Cain. How can you stand before God? You are harder than stone, darker than hell, if you do not take on yourself this servitude which Christ took up for you, so that you may be of the same mind toward your neigbour and hold him in the same regard. Peter Martyr Vermigli, “On the Death of Christ from Saint Paul ‘s Letter to the Philippians,” in Life, Letters and Sermons, trans., by John Patrick Donnelly, (Kirksville, Missouri: Sixteenth Century Essays and Studies, 1999), vol 5, pp., 240-241.

2) And what Christian mind is not persuaded to benefit his neighbour, by the godly remembrance of so great a good turn. Who is it that will not, when he revolved6 in himself with a godly mind, that the son of God gave himself unto death, even to the death of the cross for his sake, that he will not (I say) alone impart some of that early riches, which is bostowed upon him; but rather give himself for his brethren. Peter Martyr, “Of Honor to Superiors,” in The Common Places, trans., and compiled by Anthonie Martin, 1583, part 2, p., 376.

3) Lastly, because man is not made for solitude, but desires social and civil life; therefore when once convinced that he has the gracious divine will through Christ, and that through him his sins are forgiven, nothing else is required for his perfect and absolute life while he abides here, except to live with others (called in Scripture neighbors) not only in harmony but with the greatest justice and charity. Now this sacrament teaches us this most effectively and earnestly. For in the mysteries we become sharers in one table [homotrezoi]: What else should we have in mind than that we are one body, members one of another under Christ our head? And one bread, united among ourselves just as almost innumerable grains of wheat coalesce in that bread which we take? Those who are not persuaded by such reasons to maintain mutual concord and charity among brethren have without doubt hardened their hearts like stone and iron, and will be considered more savage and brutish than tigers and the cruelest beasts. For, knowing that the Son of God gave his life for his enemies, they themselves are not moved to do good, so far as they are able, to their brothers and neighbors for whom Christ died. Peter Martyr Vermigli, Oxford Treatise and Disputation on the Eucharist, trans., by Joseph C. McLelland, , (Kirksville, Missouri: Sixteenth Century Essays and Studies, 1999), vol 7, pp., 12-13.

4) And touching the love of our neighbor, Christ commanded that we should love one another, as he himself loved us, who died for us. Let a man see what he is able to do, as touching these things over & above that which he ought; when as Christ himself gave his life for them that be weak, and for his enemies. Who sees not, that we must first do those works that be necessary, before we do aspire to works of supererogation? It were a perverse endeavor for a man to give more than he is bound unto; and not to yield those things which are of duty greatly required. I let pass that which we read in Deuteronomy; ‘God would have not to be added unto his law.’ Seeing then these works, as they say, be not due, they were added over and above unto the law. We know that our actions, whatsoever they shall be, do partly pertain unto God, and partly pertain unto our neighbour: and in respect of each kind, we are so bound and indebted, as no man sees himself able to pay…

Touching the place of Paul, it is manifest, that he had not any respect to supererogation: for he said, tat it was better for him to die, than that any man should make this rejoicing of his in vain… Wherefore, if Paul should not have had singular reward for this thing, yet in taking of necessities for life as well as others, when he preached; he should not have lacked his reward. He added moreover; ‘That I abuse not my authority’: which he had committed, there is none that see, that it had been sin; seeing it is never lawful for a Christian to abuse his authority. Does he not afterward say; ‘That I may win some?’ And so by the commandment of loving his neighbour, every man is bound (to his power) to engraft as many unto God as he can. Peter Martyr, “Works of Supererogation,” in The Common Places, trans., and compiled by Anthonie Martin, 1583, part 3, p., 229 and 230.

Christ redeemed our neighbour:

1) Aristotle, in his Ethics, taught many things concern friendship: and in his Rhetorics he entreated at large concerning the same. And in effect his judgement is, that to love a man, consists in this; namely, that when we wish well unto him, then we do well unto him: and that for himself not for our own sake. Here does human wisdom stay, but Christian godliness is lifted higher. For such a one both wills well, & does well unto his neighbour; and not for his own proper commodity, but for God and Christ his sake; because he knows that his neighbour is created by God the father, and is redeemed by the blood of Christ. Let charity then be thus defined; that it is a power inspired into our minds by the heavenly Spirit, whereby we wish well unto our neighbours, and do good unto them, according to our power; and that for God and Christ his sake. Peter Martyr, “Of Love,” in The Common Places, trans., and compiled by Anthonie Martin, 1583, part 2, p., 558.

Lord’s Supper displays Christ’s death for us:

1) Exhortation to the Mystical Supper of the Lord

MY BELOVED BROTHERS, we now come to partake in the Lord’s Supper, to which in God’s name I invite all of you who are here present. I also beseech you through Jesus Christ our Lord, [by the blessed hope of his coming, and I by the eternal happiness which we are awaiting,] that as you have been so kindly and gently called and invited by God, you will not refuse to come forward. You know how burdensome and annoying it would be for someone who has already prepared a splendid feast, laid out a table with a magnificent display, and the only thing remaining is to sit down, to then have the guests announce for no good and legitimate reason that they are not going to come. Who of you would not then be upset? Who would not think that you had been done a serious injustice? So you too, dear friends in Christ, should take care lest in refusing this holy supper you provoke God’s indignation against you [and you incur his bitter wrath]. It is easy for people to say, “I will not receive Communion because I cannot.” But it is very difficult, indeed impossible, for this kind of excuse to be acceptable before God. [Suppose God were to ask why you cannot. I ask you, what are you going to reply?] “I am befouled by sin.” Why do you not repent? [It does not take a great deal of time to look back. You can quickly change a plan for a new hope of gain or comfort. You can reverse a decision. You can go against what you decided to do.] But when it is a case of retreating from sin, you say, “I cannot.” When it is a case of returning to God, you make the excuse, “I am not up to it.” Think again and again: these excuses will not work. Those who turned down the banquet of the master of the house because they had bought a farm, because they had to test yokes of oxen or marry wives-they were in no way excused but were judged unworthy of their heavenly calling and invitation (Matt. 22:2-8). I am present here, and in my role as God’s ambassador I invite you in the name of God, I call you for Christ’s sake, I encourage you to communicate for your own salvation. Just as the Son of God has deigned to lay down his life on the cross for your salvation, so you are bound to perform the memorial of his death here [together with the other brethren], even as he commanded. If you absolutely do not wish to do it [and you will not allow yourselves to be led away from a hard and fixed decision], think over carefully within yourselves how great an injury you are doing to God and how great a punishment for this awaits you. And since you are offending God more than enough by refusing this holy banquet, I warn and beg and beseech you not to add another sin to this one. That would be as if you were not going to communicate and stood around like spectators watching the communicants. What will this be except doing a greater injury to God? It is contemptuous to refuse the person who is inviting you, but it is much more than that when somebody stands around and meanwhile will not be seated with the others and will neither eat nor drink. This is indeed to make a mockery of Christ’s mysteries. It was said to all: “Take and eat. Take and drink of this, all of you. Do this in memory of me.” With what sort of face, with what sort of countenance, [with what sort of heart] will you hear these words? What will this be, except neglecting, contemning, and mocking Christ’s Testament? So it is better to leave, to make room for holy people. But as you depart, I ask you to pose for yourselves fully and seriously this question: “From what are you departing?” From this precisely: from God, from Christ, from your brothers, from the banquet of supreme love. Once you have thought these things over in faith, maybe you will have a change of heart and return to the path. While taking communion together we here will be praying that the divine mercy may grant you this. Peter Martyr Vermigli, “Exhortation to the Mystical Supper of the Lord,” in Life, Letters and Sermons, trans., by John Patrick Donnelly, (Kirksville, Missouri: Sixteenth Century Essays and Studies, 1999), vol 5, pp., 275-276.

Vermigli on Hebrews 2: 9 and 14:

1) Ambrose writes in his On Faith to Gratian, book 2, chapter 4: “We see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death so that he might without God taste death for all men,” and so forth (Heb 2:9). Ambrose seems to have read “without God” [chariti theou] for what is written in Greek as “by the grace of God” [choris tou theon]. In fact, Vigilius in his second book against Eutyches read the passage the same way as Ambrose, “that he might without God taste death:” so that we would not think that his suffering referred to his divinity and not his flesh . Therefore, death is not communicated to the Godhead. Peter Martyr Vermigli, Dialogue on the Two Natures in Christ, by John Patrick Donnelly, (Kirksville, Missouri: Sixteenth Century Essays and Studies, 1994), vol 2, p., 70.

2) But I return to Cyril. In his Exposition of the Nicene Creed, which was part of the Council of Ephesus, he says on page 546, “We will find the divine Baptist saying, ‘After me comes a man who was ranked above me, because he was before me’ (John 1:30). How then was he before him if he was after him? Because Christ came later than John according to the time of the flesh; is not that clear to every one? Has any one something to say to this problem? Our Savior gives us the answer when asked. He said, speaking to the Jews, ‘before Abraham was, I am,’ (John 8:58). For he did indeed exist even before Abraham, in a divine way,” and so forth. Here also bear in mind that that property in no way is communicated to the human nature. He adds, “How then did he become the first born of the dead?A nd the first fruits of them that sleep? (Col 1:18; 1 Cor 15:20). Because by God’s grace he made his own the flesh that was subject to death, for as Paul says most wisely, he tasted death for all men in the flesh (Heb. 2:9), in which he could suffer but without discarding that by which he himself was life. So even if it were said that he suffered in the flesh. the nature of the Godhead did not undergo suffering but, as I already said, it is his own flesh which undergoes and so forth. From this vou can understand how suffering was communicated to the Word, not because the Word suffered itself but because the flesh that the Word had made its own underwent suffering. Peter Martyr Vermigli, Dialogue on the Two Natures in Christ, by John Patrick Donnelly, (Kirksville, Missouri: Sixteenth Century Essays and Studies, 1994), vol 2, p., 73.

3) Now my remaining task is to answer your questions about our communion with Christ. I pass over the judgment on that subject by John a’ Lasco, a gentleman equally renowned in letters and endowed with godliness. I will only make clear in a few words what I believe about this mystery. I strive for brevity, especially since your learning and acumen are such that you understand from a few words what I am after. The conjunction of the same nature that we share with Christ from his incarnation is not nothing, seeing that it is mentioned in the second chapter of the epistle to the Hebrews, where it is written, “Since therefore the children share in the flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same nature,” (Heb 2:14). But this is not restricted to Christians, for Jews, Turks, and everyone included in a census of human beings are joined with Christ in this way. Peter Martyr Vermigli, “Letter No. 114: To Beza at Lausanne,” in Life, Letters and Sermons, trans., by John Patrick Donnelly, (Kirksville, Missouri: Sixteenth Century Essays and Studies, 1999), vol 5, p., 135.

4) For in the body which suffered was God, who could not suffer. We understand his death in a similar way. God the Word was naturally immortal and incorruptible; he was both life and the giver of life. But because his own proper body by the grace of God, in Paul’s phrase, tasted death for all men (Heb. 2:9), he therefore is said to have suffered death for us, not that he himself experienced death as regards his nature (it would be madness to think or say that) but that, as we said, his own true flesh tasted death…

The Lord of glory is said to have been crucified (1 Cor. 2:8) because the Word of God had united to it that nature that underwent suffering and death on the cross. God redeemed his church in his blood (Eph. 1:7), because he assumed that nature from which the blood was shed for all of us. Christ is called our brother (Mark 3:35), clearly because he has assumed the flesh of our race. Then there is that sentence which sounds most sweetly in the church, “Christ is the only begotten son of God born of the Father before all ages” (From the Nicene Creed), surely because in him was the divine person and hypostasis which came forth from the Father before all eternity. Peter Martyr Vermigli, Dialogue on the Two Natures in Christ, by John Patrick Donnelly, (Kirksville, Missouri: Sixteenth Century Essays and Studies, 1994), vol 2, p., 74.

5) But while I write to you like this about N. N., something else occurs to me about which there is reason enough urging me to write you, both by way of inquiry and also to state my own opinion. As I do this with all freedom, so will it be up to you whenever you have leisure to indicate your own opinion. I do not press for an answer, being well aware that you are overwhelmed by important matters.

Men do not all agree concerning the communion which we have with the body of Christ and the substance of his nature; for what reason, I suppose you will hear. It is so important that he that is Christ’s should understand the mode (ratio) of his union with him.

First, it seems to me that he was pleased (as is said in the Epistle to the Hebrews [2.14] to communicate with us, in flesh and blood, by the benefit of his incarnation. ‘Since the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same’.

But unless some other kind of communion were offered us, this would be very general and feeble; for the whole human race already has communion with Christ in this manner. They are in fact men, as he was man.

So besides that communion this is added, that in due season faith is breathed into the elect whereby they may believe in Christ. Thus are they not only forgiven their sins and reconciled to God (in which the true and solid method of justification consists) but further there is added a renewing power of the spirit, by which our bodies also–flesh, blood and nature–are made capable of immortality, and become daily more and more in Christ’s form (Christiformia) as I may say. Not that they cast aside the substance of their own nature and pass into the very body and flesh of Christ, but that they no less approach him in spiritual gifts and properties than at birth they naturally communicated with him in body, flesh and blood.

Here, then, we have two communions with Christ (duas communiones cum Christo), the one natural, which we draw from our parents at birth, while the other comes to us by the Spirit of Christ. At the very time of regeneration we are by him made new according to the image of his glory.

I believe that between these two communions there is an intermediate one which is fount and origin of all the heavenly and spiritual likeness which we have with Christ. It is that by which, as soon as we believe, we obtain Christ himself our true Head, and are made his members. Whence, from the Head himself as Paul says [Eph. 4.16] his Spirit flows and is derived through the joints and ligaments into ourselves as his true and legitimate members. Wherefore this communion with our Head is prior, in nature at least though perhaps not in time, to that later communion which is introduced through regeneration. And here, it seems to me, natural reason helps us. We are taught that in things engendered the heart itself is formed first in infants. From it by a certain vein a spirit flows from the heart and in some way pierces the prepared matter of the living creature and there shapes the head. Thus by that vein through which spirit proceeds from heart, the head is joined to the heart. Again, by another vein spirit flows from the head and afterwards forms the liver, an organ that communicates with head and heart, by the arteries or veins which knit together. From the liver, moreover, and the other principal members there are other arteries or veins reaching to the other parts of the whole, by which the same engendering spirit passing through, fashions the other members. Thus it happens that they all communicate together, and are joined especially to the heart, that is to the fountain of life-not indeed in place or immediate contact (as they call it) but because from thence they draw the quickening spirit and life, by the wondrous workmanship of the highest artificer. Peter Martyr, “Calvin, Strasbourg 8 March 1555,” in The Life, Early Letters & Eucharistic Writings of Peter Martyr, ed., by J.C. McLelland and G.E. Duffield (Sutton Courtney Press, 1989), pp., 345-347.

6) Third, whenever they say that we communicate with Christ ‘carnally’, so that the body also is nourished in the eucharist, we should take it in the same way as we understand that when he was conceived of a virgin and assumed human nature, the Son of God communicated with us carnally. Moreover we abide in him and he in us, when we believe his words and receive the sacraments with faith, because in so communicating the spirit is given us, and our flesh and body which were already of the same nature with Christ, are made of the same qualities (earundem conditionum) with him: they become capable of immortality and resurrection, and when they obey and serve the spirit, are truly nourished to eternal life. So in the eucharist our body is fed in two ways. First it is fed by symbols, second by this renewal to eternal life, and thus Christ is said to abide in us through this sacrament. Of the first communication that we have with him through nativity and incarnation, you have witness from the Epistle to the Hebrews, chapter 2: ‘Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same nature.’ Peter Martyr “The Oxford Disputation and Treatise, 1549,” in The Life, Early Letters & Eucharistic Writings of Peter Martyr, ed., by J.C. McLelland and G.E. Duffield (Sutton Courtney Press, 1989), p., 228.

7) The heretics added that we have no union with Christ except by consent and will, and from this inferred that between the Son of God and the Father no other union occurs than this. Hilary therefore had to demonstrate that we are united to Christ naturally in order to conclude that the Son also if naturally joined to the Father. His proof is as follows, If the Word of God truly assumed human nature, he communicates naturally with us in his flesh, and we are said to abide in him, because he himself has our nature in him. And in turn, in the Lord’s supper, if we truly receive his flesh, we participate in him naturally, and he truly abides in us. And so Hilary argues from the truth of sacraments, which we do not deny. Peter Martyr “The Oxford Disputation and Treatise, 1549,” in The Life, Early Letters & Eucharistic Writings of Peter Martyr, ed., by J.C. McLelland and G.E. Duffield (Sutton Courtney Press, 1989), pp., 240-241.

8) They have mentioned two unions with Christ: one by faith when we apprehend his body nailed to the cross and his blood shed for our salvation. The other is the fact that the Son of God himself took our true nature and so there is a natural communion between us and Christ, of which mention is made in Hebrews 2. But there is a third kind of union, on which we enter with Christ by eating him spiritually. Peter Martyr “The Oxford Disputation and Treatise, 1549,” in The Life, Early Letters & Eucharistic Writings of Peter Martyr, ed., by J.C. McLelland and G.E. Duffield (Sutton Courtney Press, 1989), pp., 274-275.

9) 12. Through the incarnation of the Son of God we communicate with him in flesh and blood, inasmuch as we believe that through it he assumed our nature. On the other hand, when we communicate and embrace through faith its body and blood given to death for us, we become partakers of them spiritually. Peter Martyr “Epitome of the Book Against Gardiner, 1,” in The Life, Early Letters & Eucharistic Writings of Peter Martyr, ed., by J.C. McLelland and G.E. Duffield (Sutton Courtney Press, 1989), p., 294.

10) Now must we see, what it is to be in Christ. First comes in place, that which is common unto all mortal men: for the Son of God, because he took upon him the nature of man, is joined with all men. For seeing they have fellowship with flesh and blood, as testified in the epistle to the Hebrews, he also was made partaker of flesh and blood. But this conjunction is general, and weak, and only (as I may term it) according to the matter: for the nature of man far differs from that nature which took upon him. For the human nature in Christ, is both immortal, and exempted from sin, and adorned with all pureness: but our nature is impure, corruptible, and miserably polluted with sin: but if the same be indued with the Spirit of Christ, it is so repaired, as it differs not much from the nature of Christ. Peter Martyr, “The Union with Christ,” in The Common Places, trans., and compiled by Anthonie Martin, 1583, part 3, pp., 77-78.

Of General Interest:

1) Now we must think further on the justice of God, which is severe, rigorous, and final. On account of their demerit, do not sins deserve shame, confusion, and condemnation? And was not all this suffered by Christ on our behalf to the fullest measure and deepest degree? Are not our sin and guilt expiated completely in Christ? Or do you suppose that his reproaches were mitigated on account of his innocence? That could be, if it had been clear to all. But on the day of his martyrdom, this innocence was so oppressed by slanders and false accusations that the people, seeing him miserably crucified, wagged their heads at him. This they did, not to express sympathy, but to confirm the condemnation of the anguished Sufferer and approve all the woes that had come upon him. By faith we can draw great benefit from this event. All the confusion, shame, and condemnation deserved by our sins has Christ our head endured. Those sins are now canceled, and we find ourselves in a state of honor and glory in God’s sight. By his merit, we who once had demerits now are made creditors. Peter Martyr Vermigli,The Apostle’s Creed,” in Early Writings: Creed, Scripture, Church, trans., by Mariano Di Gangi and Joseph C. McLelland, (Kirksville, Missouri: Sixteenth Century Essays and Studies, 1994), vol 1, p., 40.

2) For us sin has two aspects. First, we are led on by pleasure and transgress the law; we sin but enjoy ourselves and do not realize the disastrous outcome. There death is blind and the cross unfelt, but we really and truly are crucified and perish. Second, the law comes into play; then and there we realize the cross and evil; our conscience scourges us, God’s wrath threatens, we see ourselves amid death and damnation. For Christ sin did not have the first phase but only the second, since he felt God’s wrath, he sorrowed and suffered as if he had committed all sins. Peter Martyr Vermigli, “On the Death of Christ from Saint Paul ‘s Letter to the Philippians,” in Life, Letters and Sermons, trans., by John Patrick Donnelly, (Kirksville, Missouri: Sixteenth Century Essays and Studies, 1999), vol 5, p., 241.

3) He not only believed but professed; he opened his sin and looked after the salvation of his neighbor, (Luke 23:40-42). No king when he first enters his reign takes a thief for a companion. Christ did so and did not contaminate paradise but rather made it honored that it had such a lord, who could purify thieves and prostitutes so instantly that they were suitable for the kingdom of heaven.

The sixth affliction of Christ was that every part of his body was tormented. God indeed made all our iniquities and punishments fall upon him. In Hebrew this is called “laid upon” [hipghihat] (Thus Isa. 53:6, “The Lord has laid upon him the iniquity of us all.”). These are the waters which David bewailed as coming up to his soul, (Ps. 69:1). It is a deep slime pit without ground to stand. If we wish to contemplate these things fruitfully, each of us can say, “My pride pierced Christ’s head with thorns, his nails were my greed, my lust opens his heart like a lance, the total corruption [panolethria] of all my sins tortured his whole body.” When we have examined all these things, I beseech you, let us enter into the most sacred breast of the Lord by the eyes of faith, and we will see an incredible flame of charity and an immense fire of love which could set afire the whole world if they I were acknowledged. He could have redeemed us by a single word, just as he created the world. He refused, so that we could understand his love. Forgetting his own woes he prayed for those crucifying him, that is. for us who have crucified him by our sins. “Forgive them, for they know not what they are doing,” (Luke 23:34). Truly, this love is beyond description. Indeed, since this will of the Son was born of the will of the Father, in loving us so much he was obeying the Father. Now we can be certain that the Father loves us, for he so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son (John 3:16). This is what being drawn to the Father through the Son means. This is to see the sun not at its rising but at its setting when it strikes the walls in the dying Christ the love of the Father shines forth upon us.

Those who by contemplating these things enter into that bath of warmth and love will later greatly hate the cold and will not easily slip into sinning. They see that Christ has died for them and that the Father has handed him over. Not because the Father is savage or cruel; he finds no pleasure from evil for its own sake but has handed over one member for the sake of all the others. He has handed him over, moreover, not so that he should die forever but in order that he should later possess the best status, that from this pacification should follow and that we might be made certain of our salvation and also have an example of all virtues. Here a most intimate fellowship between us and Christ began. He gave us his justice and took up our sins; he truly “took our infirmities and bore our diseases, ” (Matt. 8:17, quoting Isa. 53:4). God laid on him the sins of us all; because of the sins of my people I have struck him (Cf. Isa. 54:4-6). He was put under the law that he might free us from the law (Cf. Gal. 4:4-5). We are bound to him more closely than to a doctor, for a doctor who cures a sick person does not take on himself the disease, but this is how Christ cured us, by taking upon himself our evils. Unless we value this benefit so much that we have the same mind as Christ, we shall be arraigned as culprits for his death and blood, as if we had trampled under foot the blood of God’s son. Christ paid a high premium for us; I ask how much interest and gain will he ask back for it from us? We came very dear to him; I beg that we stop underpricing ourselves and that we no longer be slaves to sin. Peter Martyr Vermigli, “On the Death of Christ from Saint Paul ‘s Letter to the Philippians,” in Life, Letters and Sermons, trans., by John Patrick Donnelly, (Kirksville, Missouri: Sixteenth Century Essays and Studies, 1999), vol 5, p., 245-246.


1Prevented

2Zwingli.

3See Zwingli, under Sins of the world,” quotation #11.

4Vermigli may be alluding to Augustine’s comments on this verse (see comment #3 under Augustine on 2 Cor 5:14-15) . However, even if this is not the case, then it is still undeniable that he is adopting Augustine’s (and Chrysostom’s) universalistic reading of the “all” in 2 Cor 5:14 (comment #1 above). Note also the striking similarity between Vermigli’s remarks and Augustine’s comment (comment #2) which is essentially as Christ died for infants, baptism cannot be denied.

5Vermigli’s language and thought here is almost identical to that of Farel’s

6I am assuming the sense of this word is resolved.

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