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Walker on the revision of the sufficient-efficient formula

September 13, 2007

Walker:

But further, and more particularly, in regard to the EXTENT of Redemption, or the extent of the merits of Redemption. It is implied in what has been already said, that Christ, in some altogether peculiar sense, was the Saviour of His people. But was there no other (improper) sense in which He might have been said to die also for others? Well, the subject is largely discussed. It is discussed by Rutherford, and Brown, and Durham, and Dickson, and Gillespie; and I think there can be no doubt that they hold, that in whatsoever sense Christ died for any of our race, in that same sense He died for all for whom He died. They held, indeed, the intrinsic sufficiency of Christ’s death to save the world or worlds; but that was altogether irrespective of Christ’s purpose, or Christ’s accomplishment. ,Tile phrase that Christ died sufficiently for all was not approved, because the “For” seemed to imply some reality of actual substitution. Yet the Scottish theological mind was evidently greatly exercised upon the subject in many aspects, and once and again we have discussions in connection with it, which are little known, and not without their interest… The Theology and Theologians of Scotland, 79-80.

Durham has an essay, in which he considers whether any mercy bestowed upon the reprobate, and enjoyed by them, may be said to be the proper fruit of, or purchase of, Christ’s death. And he answers decisively in the negative. The native fruits of Christ’s death, he says, are not divided, but they all go together. So that for whom He satisfied and for whom He purchased anything in any respect, He did so in respect of everything. There may be certain consequences of Christ’s death of an advantageous kind which reach wicked men. But that is a mere accident. Nay, to the wicked there may be given common gifts, by which the Church is edified and the glory of the Lord advanced; but these belong to the covenant redemption, as promised blessings to God’s people. It is argued further, that it is very doubtful whether, looked at in every point of view, it can well be said that it is a blessing to men who yet reject the Son of God, that they have the morally purifying influences of Christianity, and are more or less affected by them in their character, or by any such blessing as can be said to fall from the tree of life. So, too, thought Gillespie, and so thought Rutherford.

James Walker, The Theology and Theologians of Scotland: Chiefly of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1888), 83-84.

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