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Miles Coverdale (1488-1568) on the Death of Christ

October 16, 2007

Limited atonement (sample):

1) The presumption and headiness of man would have set the cart before the horse ; but the everlasting truth hath appointed this order. Peter thought he would have jeoparded his life for Christ, and have redeemed the Redeemer: but Christ came to give his life for his sheep, of whom Peter was one. Now after that Christ died for those that be his, there is strength given in the hearts of such shepherds and sheep as be faithful, to suffer death for Christ s sake.  “The Resurrection of Christ,” in The Writings and Translations of Miles Coverdale, 362.

Sins of the world:

1) HERE should we children of belief diligently ponder and consider, what Christ hath done for our sakes; namely, that he, when he had fulfilled his ministration committed to him of the Father, and now would offer up himself upon the cross for the sins of the world, and with his own death deliver mankind from the captivity of Satan, and from eternal death, declared, how he loved his own until the end, and with what desire he longed to eat the Easter lamb with his disciples, before he suffered. 1 Cor. v. Isai. liii. John i.: giving them thereby to understand, that he was the true paschal Lamb, which, being slain for us, should take away the sins of the world, that the figures of the old testament might be reduced into the truth; that like as the Jews, to whom with a prescribed ordinance it was commanded yearly to eat the Exod. xii. Easter lamb, did the same for a memorial of their deliverance out of Egypt; so we believers also might in the new testament have a remembrance and exercise of the gracious redemption, whereas we by his death are delivered from the power of darkness, of the devil, and of sin, and brought to eternal life.

And to the intent now that the remembrance of such excellent benefits, grace, and merits of the passion of Christ, might ever be fresh and new with his disciples and all believers, our Lord Jesus Christ, when he now would go unto death, and pay the ransom for the sins of all the world, he then did eat the Easter lamb with his disciples, to finish the shadow of the old testament; and that he might be remembered thereby, he instituted the bread and wine for a sacrament and memorial of his holy body and blood.  Miles Coverdale, “The Passion of Christ,” in The Writings and Translations of Miles Coverdale, 211 

2) For the death of Christ is our life. The earth quaked, the stones burst asunder. For the preaching of the death of the Son of God hath altered the whole world, and many hard stony hearts are moved to repentance, faith, and good works. But when the side of the dead body of Christ was opened with the spear, and the rock, as Zachary saith, was digged up, there ran out water and blood; declaring manifestly thereby, that unto us out of the death of blood Christ followeth life and purifying. For water cleanseth, in the blood is the life of man, and with the blood of Christ is all blood stanched; and now is Christ s blood only available, being sprinkled through faith in our hearts. This oblation and passion of Christ, the ransom for the sin of the whole world, was done in the eighteenth year of the empire of Tiberius, reckoning from the beginning of the world 4007 years, the 25th day of March.   Miles Coverdale, “The Old Faith,” in The Writings and Translations of Miles Coverdale, 75-76. 

3) To the intent now that no man should be offended at the death and cross of Christ, Peter sheweth first, that in the counsel of God it was concluded, foreseen, and determined, that the Son of God, the true Messias, should and must die; and how that the same sacrifice was ordained from the beginning of the world, to be slain and offered up upon the cross for our sins. And that no man should make any stop by reason of his death, Peter therefore declareth that he was no misdoer, which had deserved his death by any transgression; but that he was sent unto us by God the Father, to die for us, whereby we might perceive the love of our Father in heaven. And if they now would think, “Well, if it were so concluded in the counsel of God, then are not we guilty of his death;” he answereth unto the same, and saith: “Unrighteous men brought him thereto, and it is ye your selves that slew him and crucified him.” As if he would say: Yea, even so behoved it to be, that the righteousness of God for the sin of mankind might be satisfied. Christ must needs die, to recompense and wash away with his blood the sin of all the world. And yet ye Jews, which have betrayed Christ and brought him to the cross, are not un justly accused. Ye cannot through the fore-ordinance of God discharge yourselves, that ye be without sin, seeing ye have slain the Saviour of the world, he being guiltless. By this now we learn, that when we do wrong and evil, we may not excuse ourselves with the free ordinance of God ; for it is not God, but the devil and our own wickedness, that provoketh us to sin.   Miles Coverdale, “The Sending of the Holy Ghost,” in The Writings and Translations of Miles Coverdale, 403-404.

4) This article, that Christ’s death only is the satisfaction to the Father, for all the sins of the world, is plain, manifest, and approved throughout all the holy scripture, the whole sentences whereof are here too long to rehearse; but the text is open and evident, though sometimes it use one vocable and sometimes another. For to this article pertain all those scriptures that report Him to be the pacifier and reconciler of the Father’s wrath; the Cleanser, the Purifier, the Maker of atonement or agreement; the Obtainer of grace, the Sacrifice and Oblation for our sins, &c. The Father of heaven himself doth testify that it is his Son Jesus Christ, in whom or by whom he is pleased and content, Matt. iii. xvii. Who taketh away the sin of the world, but He? John i. In whom are we complete, and have all heavenly and necessary things pertaining to salvation, but in Him?  Miles Coverdale, “A Confutation of that Treatise which one John Standish made against the Protestatation of Dr. Barnes, in the year 1540–Of the Satisfaction of Christ,” in The writings of John Fox, Bale, and Coverdale, 19. [The pagination for the entire book is not consecutive.]

Lamb of God (sample citation):

1) THE Jews alway required tokens of Christ ; and of such there happened many now in the death of the Lord. For the very earth quaketh at their  wickedness and blaspheming of God; the hard stony rocks, with their cracking and cleaving asunder, express a lamentation on their Maker’s behalf; the vail in the temple rendeth, for a declaration, that the old covered things in the old testament are laid away, and the hid significations of Christ expressed and opened. For he is the holy true oblation, that taketh away the sins of the world: he is the un defiled Lamb of God ; he is the true High Priest, that entereth within the vail into the sanctuary ; for the way of holy things is opened through his blood: he is the High Priest, that once entered in, and with one only sacrifice doth perfectly cleanse and sanctify.  Miles Coverdale, “The Passion of Christ,” in The Writings and Translations of Miles Coverdale, 310.

Redemption of mankind:

1) But a marvellous stedfastness of patience is here de clared, to perform the redemption of mankind. This pain and smart is so great, that even the elements, which have no sense, declare tokens of their compassion. The sun lost his shine, and hid his cheerful light from the wicked rabble, having as it were a displeasure for the death of their Maker. Seeing now that the sun mourneth, and the earth quaketh, much more ought we reasonable men to have compassion, and to consider the death of our Maker.  Miles Coverdale, “The Passion of Christ,” in The Writings and Translations of Miles Coverdale, 305.

2) Now when Christ, who is the fulfiller of the law and all the prophets, had wholly and fully performed the will of his heavenly Father, he saith for a conclusion and end of his life: “It is finished;” as he would say, “Now is finished all that the old law hath written and spoken of me, all that the old testament figured with oblations and sacrifices, with glory and beauty in the God s service. Now are truly wished desires of the holy old fathers. Now is wrought and performed all that belonged and concerned the redemption of mankind. It is all, as it was promised of God, con cluded with an honourable blessed end. And look, what is behind shall undoubtedly be fulfilled in due time. I have ac complished the commandment of my Father, who sent me into John xvii. this world ; the work that he gave me to do, have I finished. What could I do more for thee, my people, that I have not done? Upon the sixth day he finished the work of the creation of the world; and now upon the sixth day and age of the world he performeth the blessed work of man s redemption. Upon the sixth day he created man, and made him of the mould of the earth; upon the sixth day he restored him again, and delivered him with his holy blood. Thus all things are finished: the great work of his mercy and most excellent love is accomplished; the way unto heaven is opened, and the devil s power is broken.   Miles Coverdale, “The Passion of Christ,” in The Writings and Translations of Miles Coverdale, 307.

3) A scornful thing is it, and the evidence of a great un belief, whereas some think by these words to prove, that forasmuch as all things are not written in the book, it is lawful for certain men to add the rest, and to devise and ordain what they will. For in these things that are written doth John comprehend the whole sum of faith; which consisteth in this, that Jesus is the Son of the living God, who for our salvation came down from heaven, died, rose again, and purchased for us eternal life. Jesus the Son of Mary is the anointed King and High Priest, the Saviour of the world promised of God, and spoken of afore by the prophets. And even he it is, who being of the heavenly Father anointed king everlasting, was to come after David, and to reign for ever. This king is the Redeemer and Saviour of mankind, and the very true Son of God. If we believe in Christ, we believe in the true God ; one only God we honour, one only God we worship.   Miles Coverdale, “The Rresurrection of Christ,” in The Writings and Translations of Miles Coverdale, 348.

Man Redeemed:

LIKE as the almighty eternal God, three in persons and one in substance, of his tender mercy and love, not only created man at the beginning after his own similitude and likeness, but also, when he was lost, most graciously redeemed him and brought him out of bondage; even so, when man, neither regarding his wonderful creation nor his most dear redemption.   Miles Coverdale, “To the Christian Reader,” in The Writings and Translations of Miles Coverdale, 11.

[to be continued]

 

 

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