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Pierre Viret on the Death of Christ

October 10, 2007

Sufficient satisfaction:

1)

Of the virtue of the death and passion of
Jesus Christ, and the true purgatory
of the Christians, Chap. 18.

By like reason, the Christian faith doe also hold, that the only blood of Jesus Christ, and the sacrifice that he hath done upon the cross for poor sinners, is so sufficient to satisfy the judgement of God, and to cleanse man of his sin, that there needs none other Purgatory for them: as indeed, there is none other to cleanse them, neither by fire, nor by water, nor by any other means, neither in this world, nor in the other. In like sort, there is no other ransom nor satisfaction toward God, but only his. Therefore he that seeks satisfaction anywhere else, be it in his own works, or those of other men, or in any kind of creature, & that in all, or in part, the same he or she refuses wholly the ransom and satisfaction made by Jesus Christ. Pierre Viret, A Christian Instruction, conteyning the law and the gospel. Also a summarie of the Principall poyntes of the Christian faith and Religion, and of the abuses and errors contrary to the same, translated by I.S. (London: Abraham Veale in Paules Churchyard at the signe of the Lambe, 1573), 17-18.

Satisfaction for man:

1)

Of the true fulfilling of the law of God. Chap. 27.

But even as no man can serve God aright, according to his will, except he be well instructed first in his law, and in his word, even so it is not sufficient to have been well instructed, if it be not put into use. And therefore, the knowledge of the same serves but to greater condemnation, if there be nothing else. And because that man of his nature is so corrupted through sin, that not only he can not of himself accomplish perfectly any one of the commandments of God, but on the contrary, can do nothing else but continually resist his holy will: Therefore he hath need of Jesus Christ, chiefly for two causes. The first to satisfy for man, in that wherein he is not able, to the end that Jesus Christ through his obedience, might recompense the fault that is in man, through his rebellion. The second is, to the end that man being justified through faith in Jesus Christ, as is already said and so forthwith regenerated by his Spirit, and reformed to the very image of GOD, might to the better disposed to obey his holy will, to dedicate and consecrate himself wholly to his service. Pierre Viret, A Christian Instruction, conteyning the law and the gospel. Also a summarie of the Principall poyntes of the Christian faith and Religion, and of the abuses and errors contrary to the same, translated by I.S. (London: Abraham Veale in Paules Churchyard at the signe of the Lambe, 1573), 26-27.

2)

Of the corruption of man, and how hard it is for him to do well.

D. Is man able by his own virtue and power to fulfill this law? An. He is so far from it, that there is nothing so contrary as is his will to the will of God, whilst he dwells in his nature corrupted with sin. De. What is the cause whereof? An. Sin, to whom he is become subject through his own fault, and the natural corruption of that he hath gotten of the same. D. What may he then deserve towards God, by all that ever he may think, say, or do of himself? A. Death and the eternal cause of God.

Of the redemption of man.

De. And is there no means to deliver him? An. There is none other but that same which is declared by the doctrine of the gospel, of the which we have even now spoken, to that which the law does send us. De. And what mean does the Gospel set forth to us, whereby to obtain so great a benefit? An. It is Jesus Christ the very son of God. De. How is he delivered up by Jesus Christ? An. By the satisfaction that he hath made for man, in the sacrifice of his death and passion, and by the perfect Justice that he has won to him.

Of the communication or partaking
of the benefit of Christ.

D. But is that sufficient that Jesus Christ died for the sin of man? A. For so much as he hath satisfied the judgement of God for them, it is requisite that the same satisfaction be applied and communicated, to all those that would obtain salvation by the same. D. By what mean may this same be applied and communicated unto them? A. By the only faith in Jesus Christ, which only may make a Christian man. Pierre Viret, A Christian Instruction, conteyning the law and the gospel. Also a summarie of the Principall poyntes of the Christian faith and Religion, and of the abuses and errors contrary to the same, translated by I.S. (London: Abraham Veale in Paules Churchyard at the signe of the Lambe, 1573), 60-61.

3)

Of the incarnation of Jesus Christ and of
the redemption had by him.

D. What comprehends the works of redemption? An. The incarnation of the son of God, and all that which he hath done for the salvation of man, in his human nature. D. What understands though by the Incarnation of the son of God? A. That Jesus Christ being very God eternal was also made man, and hath satisfied the judgements of God for us, in our flesh and nature, united with the divine nature. Pierre Viret, A Christian Instruction, conteyning the law and the gospel. Also a summarie of the Principall poyntes of the Christian faith and Religion, and of the abuses and errors contrary to the same, translated by I.S. (London: Abraham Veale in Paules Churchyard at the signe of the Lambe, 1573), 66.

4)

Of the setting forth of the just judgment, &
of the mercy of God, in the redemption of man.

M. How does thou understand the same? P. If God did not punish man according to the desert of his transgression, and according to the threatenings that he himself has given unto him, & the sentence that he hath given against him, where should the truth & justice of God be? M. I understand well this point, but what wilt thou say of his mercy? P. In the like sort, if he punished man according to his desert, where should then this mercy be, by the which he shows forth his infinite goodness more than by any other virtue, whatsoever that is in him?

Of the only & true mediator Jesus Christ.

M. If there be neither man or Angel sufficient to that office, what other mean rests then, by which that fault of man may be repaired by him. P. Because that man could not among all the creatures find any, God hath provided according to the piety and compassion that he had of him, being moved by his only mercy and inestimable charity. M. Which is this mean? P. It is that he hath given his only son Jesus Christ to do this office. M. And what mean hath he observed in ths work? P. It is that Jesus Christ being the Eternal & true God, & of the only essence with the father, took human flesh in the womb of the virgin Mary, by this very ordinance of God his father. M. What need was there that he should take human flesh upon him to execute that office? P. It was even necessary to the end that in the same, he might satisfy the just judgement of God for all men.

Pierre Viret, A Christian Instruction, conteyning the law and the gospel. Also a summarie of the Principall poyntes of the Christian faith and Religion, and of the abuses and errors contrary to the same, translated by I.S. (London: Abraham Veale in Paules Churchyard at the signe of the Lambe, 1573), 118-119.


Christ bears the sin of man:

1) …M. This union of these two natures then is very necessary to our salvation? P. Thou may well know that, as well by that which we have already said touching this matter, as by the office which was assigned unto Jesus Christ by his father. For there is no one Jesus Christ, which being but only God, could have saved man, nor could have for them: and an other being but only man, might die for them, but could not have power to save them, nor to bear the judgement of God for their sins. Pierre Viret, A Christian Instruction, conteyning the law and the gospel. Also a summarie of the Principall poyntes of the Christian faith and Religion, and of the abuses and errors contrary to the same, translated by I.S. (London: Abraham Veale in Paules Churchyard at the signe of the Lambe, 1573), 164-165.

 

Richard Muller on Viret:

Pierre Viret: “…studied in Paris but renounced his training and joined William Farel in the Swiss reform (1531). He taught at Bern (1537) and served as preacher in Geneva, Lausanne and Lyons. His systematic works include: Exposition familiere sur le Symbole des Apostres (1560); Exposition de la doctrine de la foy chrestienne 1564; and Instruction chrestienne en la doctrine de la loy et de l’Evangile (1525) Richard Muller, Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics, 1:41 (1st edition).

[to be continued]

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