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Richard Baxter on the Death of Christ and the Purchase of Faith

October 18, 2007

Richard Baxter, unlike John Owen and the Protestant Scholastics, maintained that faith is not directly purchased by the blood of Christ for the elect. He says, “faith is a fruit of the death of Christ, (and so is all the good that which we do enjoy): But not directly as it is satisfaction to justice.”1 For Baxter, faith, while it is a fruit of the redemption wrought by Christ, it is a “remote” gift, given by Christ as Lord, not as legislator simply considered.2 And by way of counter-examples, he cites other gifts, such as the gift of gospel preaching, of miracles, of tongues, of apostles, of evangelists, and so forth. None of these is considered a direct or necessary purchase of the work of Christ. They are only more remotely gifts given on account of Christ.3 Here Baxter is on firmer ground, for the key proof-text adduced to show that faith has been directly purchased for the elect by Christ is Phil 1:29. The relationship between the grant to believe and Christ is not exactly stated. And given the syntax, if it can be affirmed that our suffering for Christ is not a direct purchase of the atonement, then neither is the grant to believe. Thus, one cannot say that faith was directly purchased for all those whom Christ redeemed. Rather, says Baxter, faith is a gift which is an added donum, yet still inseparable and grounded in the work of Christ. For Baxter the necessary connecting link between faith in Christ and the work of Christ is the decree of God.

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1Richard Baxter, Universal Redemption of Mankind, Stated and Cleared by the Late Learned Mr Richard Baxter, (London: John Salsubury, 1694), 42, 425-6, and 430.

2Ibid., 426.

3Ibid.

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