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Batholomaeus Keckermann on the Death of Christ

May 26, 2008

Batholomaeus Keckermann (1571-1609); studied at Wittenberg, Leipzig and Heidelberg. His years at Heidelberg (1592-1601) were divided between study and teaching. Keckermann taught Hebrew and theology. From 1601 until his death in 1609, Keckermann was rector of the gymnasium and professor of philosophy in his native Danzig. His major theological work is the Systema sacrosanctae theologiae, tribus libris adornatum (1602). Richard Muller, Reformed Dogmatics 1st edition, 1:43.

Batholomaeus Keckermann1:

I have heard as touching the Person of Christ, now it remains, that I be instructed in the Office of Christ, and first of all that you tell me how the Office of Christ is called generally?

It is in general termed the Office of Mediator.

What is a Mediator?

Generally a Mediator imports such an one as does reconcile the party offending to the party offended, which reconciliation consists in these three things. 1. The Mediator must make intercession for him that has grieved the party offended. 2. He must satisfy the party offended for the injury and wrong done. 3. He must promise that the offender shall not offend any more. And therefore when we say Christ is a Mediator, it is as if we say that Christ is that Person that has appeased God, whom mankind by their sins had most grievously offended, and who has given satisfaction to the Justice of God by his Passion and Death, who prays for sinners, and applies his merit unto them by faith, who regenerate them by his Holy Spirit, that they may begin in this life to hate sin, and to be wary that they offend God no more.

Of how many sorts is the Office of Christ our Mediator?

Of three sorts: Prophetical, Sacerdotal, & Regal,2 in regard whereof our Saviour is called Christ, i.e., anointed and appointed unto this triple Office, because in the Old Testament by God’s own command, there were anointed Prophets, Priests, and Kings.

Which is the Prophetical Office of Christ, and in what does it consist?

It consists in two things. 1. In the Office of teaching: and 2. In the Efficacy of his teaching for Christ is called a Prophet. 1. Because he has revealed God and God’s will unto Angels and unto men. For God could no otherwise be known, then by the Son, according unto that: John 1.18. “The Son who is in the bosom of the Father, he has revealed him unto us.” 2. Because he has appointed and preserved in his Church the Ministry of the Gospel, and bestowed on his Church able Teachers and Ministers, fitting and furnishing them with gifts necessary for teaching, Ephes. 4.vers 11. “Christ has given some to be Prophets, others to be Apostles, and Teachers.” 3. Because he is powerfully by the Ministry of the Word, and inclines the heart of such men as are elect, to believe and obey the Gospel, Luk. 24. vers. 45. “Then he opened their understanding, that they might understand Scripture.” Acts 16. vers. 14. “The Lord opened the heart of Lydia to attend unto those things which were spoken by Paul.”

Which is the Priestly Office of Christ, and wherein does it consist?

It consists in three things. First, in the purging of our sins. Secondly, in the virtue and applying of that Purgation. Thirdly, in his Intercession for us: for as the Priest in the Old Testament had two offices, the one to make atonement for sin, and the other to pray for the people. So likewise the Priestly Office of Christ herein consists. First, that he should offer himself as a Sacrifice to his eternal Father for our sins. Secondly, that he should make intercession for us unto his eternal Father.

What are there to be considered in the first part of Christ’s Priestly office, to wit, in the satisfaction for our sins?

There be two: namely, the causes or means whereby Christ wrought this expiation, and so satisfied for our sins; secondly, the Proprieties of that Expiation.

What be the causes by which Christ wrought this expiation?

These be two sorts, either Prime, or arising from the prime causes.

What is the prime cause?

The obedience of Christ in that he humbled himself, and was subject to the Law, to the end that he might satisfy for us, who had broken the Law. According to that, Rom. 5. verse 19. “As by the disobedience of one man,” to wit, of “Adam, many were made sinners; so by the obedience of one,” to wit, of Christ, “many shall be made righteous.”

What is the other cause arising and springing from this prime cause?

It is two-fold. The Passion and the Death of Christ.

Of what sort is the Passion of Christ?

It is of two sorts. External and Internal.

What is the External Passion?

It is both that anguish and which Christ endured in his most Sanctified body; and also the ignominy and shame which he sustained for our sakes.

What was the Internal passion?

That wonderful sadness and heaviness, which Christ felt in his soul for our sin; Of which it is said, Mat. 26. v. 38. ‘My soul is heavy even unto death,” where by death he understood not only corporeal death, but eternal, as if he had said, my soul is as heavy and sorrowful, as their souls are which must for ever be damned.

How many were the torments of Christ’s soul?

Two.

Which is the former?

The former was in the Garden, before he was apprehended and led to public judgement: for there began he to be afraid of himself, lest God should leave and forsake him, whom he then beheld as one who grievously offended for the sins of mankind, and consequently who was extremely angry with him that had taken and translated upon himself the sins of the whole world.

Whereby do you know the greatness of these torments and sufferings in the soul of Christ?

By two tokens. First, in that Christ there needed Angels to comfort him, and to hold him up, lest being too much afraid b that horrible sight of the angry and wrathful God, he should have fainted. See Luk. 22. v. 43. and hence it was that he uttered that speech, “My soul is heavy unto death,” even to eternal death.

What is the other token of those most grievous torments in the soul of Christ?

His bloody sweat; for this was a manifest sign that all the natural forces in Christ were much weakened, and as it were bound from doing their Office, by reason of that great torment and terror; so that nature could not keep the blood any more in the veins, but was fain being congealed and clotted, to cast it out as it were, and drive it to the exterior parts, of which great violence and terror, the like example can nowhere be read in any History.

Which is the other suffering of Christ in soul?

The latter was that which a little before his death he felt upon the Cross, when he strove against that temptation of his perpetual separation and objection from the face of God, whereupon he sent forth that doleful cry, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” whereby a Metonymy he calls that fearful temptation (wherewith those are wont to be troubled whom God has cast from his sight, and quite forsaken) desertion or forsaking. For requisite it was that Christ should endure such a temptation, that he might deliver us from eternal damnation.

I have seen the passion of Christ, now tell me his death?

The death of Christ, is the separation of his Soul from his Body, whereby he satisfied for, and purged our sins and delivered us from eternal death. And so much the very shedding of blood and water out of Christ’s side did manifest, of which John speaks, John 19. vers. 34. “One of the soldiers” (says he), “pierced his side, and present issued out blood and water;” by the blood, Christ signified that our sins were ransomed and satisfied for: by the water, that we are washed from the filfth of our sins.

It follows now in order that you instruct me as touching the proprieties and benefits of Christ’s Passion, tell me therefore what is the first propriety of Christ’s passion?

That it is, that it was altogether necessary, in regard that mankind could no way else be freed from eternal death, but by the death of the Son of God: And that for this reason, because the most high God is most just, and therefore never remits sins without satisfaction; since hence,3 that by nature he hates sins, and can in no wise endure them: for he that is justice, most eminently, cannot away with injustice, even as the fire cannot abide water. As it is said, Psal. 5. vers. 4. “Thou art not a God that wills wickedness.” Again plain places of the Scripture do testify the same. Rom. 8. vers. 3. “That which was impossible to the law, that has God done by sending his Son,” i.e. that which by no other means could have performed, was done by the death of the Son of God, Heb. 2. v. 14. “Therefore, because the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also in like manner was made partaker of them, that he might abolish by death him that had the power of death, that is, the Devil;” and in the ver. following, “and might set at liberty those which through the fear of death were subject unto bondage all their life long:” that is, that he might redeem those which otherwise should perished eternally, unless Christ had wrought their Redemption. And truly if there had been any other way to have satisfied for sin, then that might have been performed either, by ourselves, or by some other creature. But we could not have done this for ourselves. First, because we do already owe it to God, and that which we owe unto God is not the price of Redemption or satisfaction: but it is due debt. Secondly, because we add from what to the score of our debts every day, and therefore we can never be able to satisfy and pay them: And that we daily add sin unto sin, See I John 1. v. 8. Psal. 130. v. 3. Thirdly, because sin is a wrong and injury to God, and so an infinite evil, and therefore also deserves either eternal punishment, or one equal thereunto, out of which (if it had been laid upon us) we could never have been able to have freed ourselves. No other creature could satisfy for us; for example, Not the Angels; first, because man, and no other creature may be punished for that sin man had committed, the justice of God requiring that it should be also, as it said, Ezech. 18. verse 4. “That soul that has sinned, even that shall die.” Secondly, because no creature, no not the Angels are able to escape and free themselves out of eternal punishment. Whereupon it follows, that it was requisite, that he who should satisfy the justice of God for our sins, should be truly God, and truly man. Man he was to be, because man had sinned, and thefore God’s Justice so requiring, he that should pay and smart he must be man, as it is said, Heb. 9. 22 “Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins:” wherefore Christ might shed blood, it was meet that he should be man. And he was to be God too: First, that by the power of divinity, he might undergo the infinite anger of God against the sin of mankind, with which anger Christ should certainly have been but a bare man; Because “God is a consuming fire,” Deut. 4. vers. 24. and therefore as man he desires the cup of his Passion might be taken away from him, as being that which he could not bear, as he was a man: And as man he cried out upon the Cross, “Oh God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Secondly, it was needful that he should be truly God, who would satisfy for our sins, that his suffering and punishment might be of infinite worth, and so equivalent to eternal damnation: For, because we by our sins had deserved not only Temporal but Eternal punishment, it was necessary that he who would take in hand our deliverance, should undergo not the temporal punishment alone, but also the eternal too; the Eternal, not by reason of the extent and continuance of it, but in value and equivalence, that is, his punishment was to be equivalent to eternal punishment, or to have an equal proportion with eternal punishment.4 But no man’s punishment can equalize eternal punishment, but only of him who is himself eternal, who is truly God, whereupon the Fathers said very rightly and devoutly. For God to suffer, it is more than all men to be damned eternally. Thirdly, because the satisfaction must needs have been of infinite worth and value, to the end it might sufficiently serve for the purging and ransoming of all men’s sins. But none there is that can work such a satisfaction of infinite value, unless he himself be infinite, that is, God.

What is the second propriety of God’s Passion?

That it was truly expiatory, and satisfactory, that is, our sins by virtue of Christ’s expiating were forgiven us. Which must be noted, 1, against the Samosatenians, who blasphemously say, that the passion of Christ was only exemplary, that is, that Christ by his Passion would give us only an example to obey God in all things, and to bear the Cross which God shall lay upon us patiently, as Christ before us patiently did bear his Cross. This dangerous doctrine, that thows our consciences headlong into the pit of despair, arose from no other spring, then the denial of the God-head of the Son of God. For, because there was none could satisfy for our sins, except he were God, as we have also a little before proved, and the Samosatenians deny Christ to be truly God, therefore no far lie it was, if they thought that the Passion of Christ was not satisfactory but only exemplary. But to their blasphemy we oppose; First the divinity of the Son of God, proved and evicted already by evident testimonies, to wit, when we concluded this necessarily, that Christ who suffered for us was the Son of God, and hence it will follow that his suffering was of infinite valor, and consequently, that it was satisfactory. Secondly, most apparent testimonies of Holy Writ, Esa. 53.vers. 4. “He himself carried and bear our infirmities truly,” and vers. 5. ‘He was tormented for our sins, and he was broken for our iniquities, Rom. 5. vers. 9. “Now then being justified by his blood, we shall be saved.” 2 Cor. 5. vers. 18. “All these things are of God, who has reconciled us unto himself by Jesus Christ,” and vers. 21. “He has made him who knew no sin to be sin for us.” 1 Tim. 2. v. 5,6. “There is one God, one Mediator of God and men, even the man Christ Jesus who gave himself., a price of our Redemption:” an example is one thing, and a price or ransom is another thing. Galat. 2. vers 20. “The Son of God has given himself for me, for if righteousness be by the Law, then Christ died without a cause;” as if he had said Christ died to that end, that by his death he might bestow on us righteousness, in satisfying God’s Justice thereby for our offences. But there is a very plain place, Gal. 3. ver. 13. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, when he was made a curse for us: for it is written, cursed is he that hangeth on the tree.” I John I. Verse 7. “The blood of Jesus Christ,” the Son of God, “purges us from all our sins.” I John 2. verse 2. “He is the propitiation for our sins.” These are most pregnant places of Scripture for this point, whereunto we may add this argument. If the Passion of Christ was but exemplary, surely he would never have cried out with a loud voice, “My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?” for those words are not set down as an example for us to follow, nay rather we ought to do quite contrary to them, even to have always sure confidence in God, and never to think or cry out, that we are so forsaken of him, as it is said, Rom. 8. vers. 15. we must cry Abba Father, I the do I settle my soul. Again, if the Passion of Christ was but exemplary, how were then the Fathers saved which were before Christ, and so had not his example? and how was the thief saved, that could not imitate Christ in his example, whereas he was now hanged on the Cross as well as Christ, and that before his conversion. Secondly, this same propriety of Christ’s Passion must be noted against all such, as attribute the purging of their sins, and the merit of the forgiveness of them to alms deeds or other works of their own: for if so be that there is no remission of sins, but by the shedding of Blood, as we have shown before, and alms deeds, or other works, even the best of them shed no blood, certainly then by no works of ours whatsoever can there be wrought expiation or remission of sin.

What is the third propriety of Christ’s Passion?

That it was most sufficient, neither need we any more expiation: which is proved by that, Heb. 9. v. 26. “Now was he in the end of the world made manifest by that offering up of himself once to take away sin.” And verse 28. “Christ was once offered up, that he might take away the sins of many.” And yet more evidently, Heb. 10.12. “This man after the offering of his sacrifice, sits for ever at the right hand of the Father.” And vers. 14 “By this one oblation;” that is, by his oblatoin, which only is most perfect and sufficient. Now that it is said, Col. 1.24. “I fulfil the remainders of Christ’s suffering or passion in the flesh;” It must not be so understood, as if the Passion of Christ were not of itself sufficient, but needed some addition to ful it up: but there, by a Synecdoche, the Passion of Christ he calls all such, as the members of Christ were to suffer: if he said; ‘I must also endure those afflictions, which Christ shall feel in his members,’ as he expressed annexed; “I fulfil the remnant of Christ’s Passion in the flesh, for the body of Christ which is the church:” that he might plainly show, that he spoke not of that passion which Christ suffered for our sins, but of the crosses and affliction which the Church must sustain I this world, which Church my Metaphorical kind of speaking is the body of Christ. And this which we about the sufficiency of the passion of Christ, we must note again against the Papists, who teach and say, that the expiation and purging of sin, is partly by good works, which shall be confuted in the doctrine of Justification, partly by the Mass, which shall likewise be confuted in the point, of and concerning the Lord’s Supper, and partly by Purgatory, which (say they) is a fire, in which the souls of men after this life are tormented with temporal pains, and are purged from sins, and from which the souls of such are alive by favour and by prayers, may be delivered as the Council of Trent says in the fifth Session. Against which observer these reasons: First, in the sacred Volume there is no one testimony of Purgatory, nor not so much as one example of any one that was in that Purgatory fire: Ergo, it is a mere invention of their own brain; They urge a place, I Cor. 3. verse 13. where it is said that “by the fire shall be manifest, and proved, every man’s work of what sort it is.” But they apply this to Purgatory very foolishly: for the Apostle speaks as touching the edification of the Church, and says that the time shall come, when it shall be tried and examined, how much every one has profited in edifying the Church, by the word of God, and the Holy Spirit, which two he calls fire, by a Metaphor. He adds further, Verse, 15. “He shall be saved but even as it were by the fire:” where abiding still in the Metaphor and similitude, he says, that not all those who have not edified aright, shall straight way be damned for ever, but that they shall suffer trial in their own conscience, because they have not so faithfully discharged their Office as they should. Secondly, observe two manifest sayings of the Holy Writ, wherein you shall find but two places only that must be in the next world pointed out unto you, the one for the blessed, the other for those, who are eternally damned. Mark, the last. 16. John 5.24. “Verily I say unto you, who so hears my word, and believes in him that sent me, shall not come into judgement;” and by consequence not into Purgatory, which is a part of Judgement; “but shall pass from death to life.” Revel;. 14. vers. 13. “Blessed are they henceforth which dye in the Lord. Henceforth; that is, from the very moment wherein they die. There is also a plain place. Like 23. 43. where Christ says to the thief: “Today shalt though be with me in Paradise:” whereas he (if any) needed this Purgatory fire.

I have heard sufficiently, as concerning the first part of Christ’s Priestly office, namely, the purging away of our sins; tell me what is the second part of the Priestly Office of Christ?

It is that effectual application, whereby Christ does all-sufficiently and powerfully apply that his purging performed by him unto the faithful, so that by it they may obtain remission of sins, reconciliation and peace.

What is the third part of the Office of Christ?

It is his intercession for us.

What do you mean by intercession?

I do not mean any Prayer, or suite, whereby Christ would get unto us again the favour of God, as one man is said to intercede for another, that he may procure himself somewhat; but I understand, first that perpetual value and virtue of the Sacrifice of Christ, namely, in that Christ presented his passion, which he suffered for us, unto the eternal Father. Secondly, the Father’s consent resting in this Passion of Christ, contented and agreeing, that this Passion of Christ shall be of force for us for ever.

Bartholomaus Keckermann, Heavenly Knowledg, Second Edition (London: Printed for Thomas Jones, 1625), 63-91.


 

1I have not reproduced the marginal references (which are mostly comments in Latin and references to his Systematic Theology). I have modernized some of the spelling, but I have left as much as possible of the original formatting intact. Scripture quotations have been placed in inverted quotation marks. All italics are Keckermann’s; underlining mine.
2For our purposes here, Keckemann’s comments on Christ’s Regal office will not be reproduced.
3Original: Sithhence.
4Here it is clear that Keckermann stands apart from John Owen who claimed that Christ suffered the exact amount of punishment due to a sinner, namely just physical death.

 

 

 

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