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William Bucanus on Unlimited and Limited Redemption

October 5, 2007

WILLIAM BUCANUS (d. 1603)

Served as professor of theology at Lausanne from 1591 to 1603. He was called to teach at the new academy at Samur in 1603 but died before he could accept the post. His major dogmatic work is the Institutiones theologicae su locorum communium christianae religionis (1602):- Source, Richard Muller, Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatcs (first edition).

[Some marginal references from the copy I have cannot be read. I have included the references I can read.]

Love to mankind:

1) “What is Christ?”

He is the only begotten Son of God (Joh. 1:14), who of his mere love towards mankind ((Tit. 3:4-5), did create unto himself of the seed (Heb. 2:16) of the Virgin Mary (Luk. 1:31), being sanctified by the Holy Ghost (Luk. 1:35), and by creating did assume (Heb. 2;16), and did personally and inseparably for ever unite a true human body (Heb. 2:14), endued with a reasonable (Matt. 26:38), soul. And so being true God, became true man like to us in all things (heb. 1:17&c), sin only accepted. William Bucanus, Institutions of Christian Religion, Framed Our of God’s Word, and the Writings of the Best Divines, Methodically Handled by Questions and Answers, Fit For All Such as Desirous to Know, or Practice the Will of God, trans., by Robert Hill (Printed in London by George Snowden, 1606), 14.

2) 2. The infinite mercy of God who would rather have his son to die a most shameful death, then destroy mankind created by himself.

3.. The exceeding humility of the eternal son of God, the Lord of all things who was debased and cast down lower than all creatures, by which humiliation he testified his love toward mankind, in suffering so great things for the redemption thereof. William Bucanus, Institutions of Christian Religion, Framed Our of God’s Word, and the Writings of the Best Divines, Methodically Handled by Questions and Answers, Fit For All Such as Desirous to Know, or Practice the Will of God, trans., by Robert Hill (Printed in London by George Snowden, 1606), 237.

Unlimited Redemption:

1) Whether was neither the Father nor the Holy Ghost incarnate, but the Son?

1.Because it was meet that the world should be redeemed, and all things restored by him, by whom all things were created, or that man should be redeemed from death by him, by whom he was first created, and should have been brought unto life eternal if he had not sinned.

2. It would have been inconvenient, that there should be two sons, one in the divine nature, another in the human nature.

3. It was the eternal decree of the Father, whereby he purposed to save mankind by the Son (Heb. 2:10).

William Bucanus, Institutions of Christian Religion, Framed Our of God’s Word, and the Writings of the Best Divines, Methodically Handled by Questions and Answers, Fit For All Such as Desirous to Know, or Practice the Will of God, trans., by Robert Hill (Printed in London by George Snowden, 1606), 18.

2) What is his Prophetical Office?

It is that office, whereby he has revealed to mankind the Gospel that is, the secret counsel of the Father concerning the redemption of mankind, by the Word, by the Holy Ghost, by the Sacraments, both by himself, as also by the Ministers of the word. (Joh. 1:18, Ephes. 4:10-11). William Bucanus, Institutions of Christian Religion, Framed Our of God’s Word, and the Writings of the Best Divines, Methodically Handled by Questions and Answers, Fit For All Such as Desirous to Know, or Practice the Will of God, trans., by Robert Hill (Printed in London by George Snowden, 1606), 24.

3) How many parts be there to his office?

Two: his satisfaction, whereby he fulfilled the law, and paid the ransom for the sins of the world (Matt. 20:28). In respect of which part of his office, he is called a Redeemer (Matt. 10:28, Gal. 3:13), and a Saviour (Isa. 25:8-9 & 53:4-6, John 3:17), and a Lamb or a sacrifice. And his intercession, whereby Christ does instantly desire that his sacrifice may continually prevail with God his Father, for the reconciliation of his elect. William Bucanus, Institutions of Christian Religion, Framed Our of God’s Word, and the Writings of the Best Divines, Methodically Handled by Questions and Answers, Fit For All Such as Desirous to Know, or Practice the Will of God, trans., by Robert Hill (Printed in London by George Snowden, 1606), 24.

4) What is the Gospel?

It is a heavenly doctrine brought out of the secret bosom of God the Father by the Son, preached by the Apostles, and comprehended in the books of the New Testament, bringing a good and joyful message to all the world, namely, that mankind is redeemed by the death of Christ, the only begotten Son of God: for this remission of sins, salvation, and eternal life is prepared for all men, if so be they repent and believe in Jesus Christ. William Bucanus, Institutions of Christian Religion, Framed Our of God’s Word, and the Writings of the Best Divines, Methodically Handled by Questions and Answers, Fit For All Such as Desirous to Know, or Practice the Will of God, trans., by Robert Hill (Printed in London by George Snowden, 1606), 203.

Sufficient Price:

1) Why is it necessary that Christ should be both God and man in the one and the same person?

4. That the work of redemption performed in the flesh of the Son might become a sufficient price for sin, whereby God, that infinite good, was offended. For although certain actions do properly proceed from the divine nature, and some are done by the human, yet all of them do equally receive their price and worthiness from the divine nature. So the flesh of Christ has power to quicken, because it is the flesh of that person who is God: the obedience of the man Christ does justify, because it is the obedience of that person who is God: the blood of Christ redeems the church, because it is the blood of God, Act. 20:28. William Bucanus, Institutions of Christian Religion, Framed Our of God’s Word, and the Writings of the Best Divines, Methodically Handled by Questions and Answers, Fit For All Such as Desirous to Know, or Practice the Will of God, trans., by Robert Hill (Printed in London by George Snowden, 1606), 20.

2) Whence are we to value and esteem the grievousness of sin?

3. By the value of that price wherewith we were redeemed from sin, namely by the death of the Son of God, whom it behooved to become sacrifice to make atonement & satisfy the justice of God. William Bucanus, Institutions of Christian Religion, Framed Our of God’s Word, and the Writings of the Best Divines, Methodically Handled by Questions and Answers, Fit For All Such as Desirous to Know, or Practice the Will of God, trans., by Robert Hill (Printed in London by George Snowden, 1606), 159.

3) What was the end of Christ’s death and passion?

The chief end is the glorification of God for his justice and mercy. But the next end is the redemption and eternal salvation of mankind, Joh. 3:14, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lift upon the cross, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” And Rom. 4:25. “He died for our sins,” namely to make satisfaction for them.

Unto whom is the death and passion of Christ profitable?

Although he might have been a sufficient price for the sins for all men, yet actually and effectually he died for his elect only, who receive him and believe him, Matt. 1:21. “He will deliver his people from their sins.” Joh. 10:15. “I lay down my life for my sheep.” and Chap. 17:19 “I sanctify myself,” for otherwise it would follow that Christ died profit, and to no purpose in regard of many, and that the efficacy of Christ’s death could be made void by men. William Bucanus, Institutions of Christian Religion, Framed Our of God’s Word, and the Writings of the Best Divines, Methodically Handled by Questions and Answers, Fit For All Such as Desirous to Know, or Practice the Will of God, trans., by Robert Hill (Printed in London by George Snowden, 1606), 235.

Man Redeemed:

1) How is this doctrine opposed?

Of the adherents of Flavius Illiricus, who teach that it is not an accident, but the very nature, and the substance thereof corrupted, contrary to the saying of Paul, Rom. 7:21. “Sin is present with me” [unreadable word], and contrary to those testimonies which teach that God is the author of man’s nature even since his fall: and also against those places whereby we learn that Christ took our human nature and substance, and redeemed man, but not sin. William Bucanus, Institutions of Christian Religion, Framed Our of God’s Word, and the Writings of the Best Divines, Methodically Handled by Questions and Answers, Fit For All Such as Desirous to Know, or Practice the Will of God, trans., by Robert Hill (Printed in London by George Snowden, 1606), 169.

Sin of the First Parents (i.e., original sin):

1) 7. He hangs naked, that he might make satisfaction for the sin of our first parents, who were disrobed and spoiled of the garments of innocency, glory & immortality, that he might enrich us by his poverty , to conclude, that such as the first man was dwelling in Paradise, such might be the second man at this entrance into Paradise. William Bucanus, Institutions of Christian Religion, Framed Our of God’s Word, and the Writings of the Best Divines, Methodically Handled by Questions and Answers, Fit For All Such as Desirous to Know, or Practice the Will of God, trans., by Robert Hill (Printed in London by George Snowden, 1606), 232.

Sins of the World:

1) By what instrumental cause, or by what means was the Gospel made known to the world?

2. By “John” who preached the sum of the Gospel, showing Christ, and calling him the “Lamb of God,” that is a “Sacrifice”, appointed by God to make satisfaction for the sins of the world. William Bucanus, Institutions of Christian Religion, Framed Our of God’s Word, and the Writings of the Best Divines, Methodically Handled by Questions and Answers, Fit For All Such as Desirous to Know, or Practice the Will of God, trans., by Robert Hill (Printed in London by George Snowden, 1606), 204.

2) At what time was he crucified?

At the feast of the Passover, that he might show himself truly to be that Pascal Lamb which was slain for the sins of the world. William Bucanus, Institutions of Christian Religion, Framed Our of God’s Word, and the Writings of the Best Divines, Methodically Handled by Questions and Answers, Fit For All Such as Desirous to Know, or Practice the Will of God, trans., by Robert Hill (Printed in London by George Snowden, 1606), 233.

3) [Regarding Christ’s decent into hell] What is the third opinion?

The third is of them who think that Christ did indeed descend into the place of hell. But this opinion is divided three ways. For some there are who say, that the soul of Christ did go down thither while his body lay in the grave, that there it might suffer for the souls of men. Which opinion is by three reasons confuted.

1. Because the blood of Christ is a most perfect expiation for all the world

William Bucanus, Institutions of Christian Religion, Framed Our of God’s Word, and the Writings of the Best Divines, Methodically Handled by Questions and Answers, Fit For All Such as Desirous to Know, or Practice the Will of God, trans., by Robert Hill (Printed in London by George Snowden, 1606), 248.

4) First of all, because of the figure going before, that is to say of the eating of the Pascal Lamb, or the legal, solemn and Sacramental supper, in the place whereof Christ substituted the Supper Evangelical, Lu. 22:14,19. where that being performed, a new institution of this, in express words is put in the stead thereof: & so the Apostle teaches. 1 Cor. 5:7. “Christ our passover is sacrificed for us.” From whence it follows, that the Supper of the Lord is our Passover. For the same thing in both is signified, namely Christ, the true immaculate sacrifice for the sins fo the world there is promised, here exhibited. The remembrance of the like benefit, there, of the deliverance out of bondage of Egypt, and of the induction into the promised land here, of freedom from the cruel slavery of Satan and of introduction into eternal life. William Bucanus, Institutions of Christian Religion, Framed Our of God’s Word, and the Writings of the Best Divines, Methodically Handled by Questions and Answers, Fit For All Such as Desirous to Know, or Practice the Will of God, trans., by Robert Hill (Printed in London by George Snowden, 1606), 745.

Saviour of the world:

1) That our faith may thereby be confirmed: for the certainty of our faith (as Augustine says) consists in this, that all things which have been foretold of Christ, have fallen on upon Jesus the son of Mary. Therefore he is the true Messiah and Saviour of the world. William Bucanus, Institutions of Christian Religion, Framed Our of God’s Word, and the Writings of the Best Divines, Methodically Handled by Questions and Answers, Fit For All Such as Desirous to Know, or Practice the Will of God, trans., by Robert Hill (Printed in London by George Snowden, 1606), 255.

Limited Redemption:

1) Is not Christ the Redeemer of all men?

No: for he is a Redeemer neither to Pharaoh, nor Judas, neither unto Ciaphas, nor Herod, neither unto Julian, not in brief to all those that are damned or without hope, for whom they neither he died.

Did Christ die for all men?

His death was sufficient for all, say the Schoolmen, but effectual only for the Elect and them that are faithful. If we respect the virtue and force of Christ’s blood, it is sufficient for the redemption of all: but if we look upon the purpose and eternal counsel of God, and the goodwill of the Mediator, he died for the elect only. Joh. 10:15, I lay down my life for my sheep, says Christ, and 17:9, I pray not for the world, but I pray for them whom thou have given me. Therefore he neither offered sacrifice for it, neither did he redeem it. And vers. 19 For their sakes who believe, and whom the Father has given me, I sanctify myself. And Matth. 26:28, My blood which is shed for many for the remission of sins. William Bucanus, Institutions of Christian Religion, Framed Our of God’s Word, and the Writings of the Best Divines, Methodically Handled by Questions and Answers, Fit For All Such as Desirous to Know, or Practice the Will of God, trans., by Robert Hill (Printed in London by George Snowden, 1606), 433-434.

2) Yet the Lord does seem upon set purpose in the institution of the this mystery, although speaking of a thing to come, yet to have used in both places the words of the Present Tense, that the Disciples might be admonished, that this is the use of these signs, that with the eyes of faith the things forthwith to be, should be seen as it were already present in them: like as, we must behold them in this action by faith, as it were being before our eyes, although already performed long ago, that is to say, the whole history of the passion, as is with these our eyes we did see the body of Christ hanging and pierced through, and not the blood dripping out of his wounds. “Therefore it is shed,” says he, that is to say, upon the Cross, not into the cup, or into a mouth: whereby again is signified, in what manner, the blood of Christ is living drink to us, not simply, as it is now clarified, but as shed for us, and truly “for you” and “for many,” Mark. 14-24. Although not for all, but for the elect only, that is, for their cause, for the remission of sins: which is a most exceeding wholesome end of the blood of Christ shed, not of the drink of wine: for of this it is said, “In remembrance of me”: but of the shedding of blood, “For the remission of sins.” William Bucanus, Institutions of Christian Religion, Framed Our of God’s Word, and the Writings of the Best Divines, Methodically Handled by Questions and Answers, Fit For All Such as Desirous to Know, or Practice the Will of God, trans., by Robert Hill (Printed in London by George Snowden, 1606), 785.

Salvation procured by Christ:

1) But what signification does the Scripture use this word Evangelium or “Gospel”?

1…. For which word the Prophets used to signify, “to report good news”: so the Apostles… have termed “Evangelium” or “Gospel,” that notable and joyful report of salvation procured by Christ to them that believe, or a solemn preaching of the grace of God manifested and exhibited in Christ. William Bucanus, Institutions of Christian Religion, Framed Our of God’s Word, and the Writings of the Best Divines, Methodically Handled by Questions and Answers, Fit For All Such as Desirous to Know, or Practice the Will of God, trans., by Robert Hill (Printed in London by George Snowden, 1606), 203.

Sacrifice applied by the Holy Spirit:

1) 4. The virtue of the Sacrifice itself is applied unto us inwardly by the effectual working of the Holy Ghost; and outwardly by the Preaching of the word, and by the Sacraments ordained of Christ. For so often as the Gospel is preached, the Sacraments be administered according to Christ his institution, so often is Christ offered, not to God, but to us that we might embrace him, being received by a true faith with all our souls. William Bucanus, Institutions of Christian Religion, Framed Our of God’s Word, and the Writings of the Best Divines, Methodically Handled by Questions and Answers, Fit For All Such as Desirous to Know, or Practice the Will of God, trans., by Robert Hill (Printed in London by George Snowden, 1606), 674.

1 Tim 2:4 and 2 Pet 3:9:

1) 1. Tim. 4:10. “We trust in the living God, which is the Saviour of all men, specially of them that believe.” In like sort therefore in saying, “Who would have all men to be saved,” let us understand believers, as well Jews, as Grecians, private men, as magistrates, both men and women, both bondmen and free, as well those that are guilty of many sins, as those guilty of few, but yet not all men altogether. So he would not have any to perish, but “would have all men to come to repentance,” the elect: to whom Peter enjoins himself, when he declares, that “God is patient toward us,” deferring his coming only until the number of the Elect were fulfilled, and that all might have opportunity to convert themselves unto God. William Bucanus, Institutions of Christian Religion, Framed Our of God’s Word, and the Writings of the Best Divines, Methodically Handled by Questions and Answers, Fit For All Such as Desirous to Know, or Practice the Will of God, trans., by Robert Hill (Printed in London by George Snowden, 1606), 435-436.

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