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Thomas Cranmer (1489-1556) on Death of Christ: Unlimited Expiation, Redemption and Universal Reconciliation

August 18, 2008

 

Thomas Cranmer

Expiation and Propitiation

Sacrifice for Sin:

1) But what sleights and shifts this writer doth use to wind the reader into his error, it is wonder to see, by devising to make two sacrifices of one will; the one by declaration, the other by execution; advice such as was never imagined before of no man, and meet to come out of a fantastical head. But I say precisely, that Christ offered himself never but once, because the scripture so precisely and so many times saith so; and having the same for my warrant, it maketh me the bolder to stand against you, that deny that thing which is so often times repeated in scripture. And where you say, that”there is no scripture whereupon we might conclude that Christ did in this mortal life, but in one particular moment of time, offer himself to the Father:” to what purpose you bring forth this moment of time I cannot tell, for I made no mention thereof, but of the day of his death; and the scripture saith plainly, that as it is ordained for every man to die but once, so Christ was offered but once; and saith further, that sin is not forgiven but by effusion of blood, and therefore if Christ had been offered many times, he should have died many times. And of any other offering of Christ’s body for sin, the scripture speaketh not. For although St Paul to the Philippians speaketh of the humiliation of Christ by his incarnation, and so to worldly miseries and afflictions, even unto death upon the cross; yet he calleth not every humiliation of Christ a sacrifice and oblation for remission of sin, but only his oblation upon Good Friday, which as it was our perfect redemption, so was it our perfect reconciliation, propitiation, and satisfaction for sin. And to what purpose you make here a long process of our sacrifices of obedience unto God’s commandments, I cannot devise. For I declare in my last book, that all our whole obedience unto God’s will and commandments is a sacrifice acceptable to God, but not a sacrifice propitiatory: for that sacrifice Christ only made, and by that his sacrifice all our sacrifices be acceptable to God, and without that none is acceptable to him. Thomas Cranmer, ‘Of the Presenceof Christ,” in Works, 1:86.

2) And here they run headlongs into the foulest and most heinous error that ever was imagined. For if they make every day the same oblation and sacrifice for sin that Christ himself made, and the oblation that he made was his death, and the effusion of his most precious blood upon the cross, for our redemption and price of our sins; then followeth it of necessity, that they every day slay Christ, and shed his blood, and so be they worse than the wicked Jews and Pharisees, which slew him and shed his blood but once. Thomas Cranmer, “Of the Oblation and Sacrifice of Christ,” in Works 1:348.

Sins of the People (sample):

1) Now forasmuch as I trust that I have plainly enough set forth the propitiatory sacrifice of our Saviour Jesus Christ, to the capacity and comfort of all men that have any understanding of Christ; and have declared also the heinous abomination and idolatry of the popish mass, wherein the priests have taken upon them the office of Christ, to make a propitiatory sacrifice for the sins of the people; and I have also told what manner of sacrifice Christian people ought to make; it is now necessary to make answer to the subtle persuasions and sophistical cavillations of the papists, whereby  they have deceived many a simple man, both learned and unlearned. Thomas Cranmer, “Of the Oblation and Sacrifice of Christ,” in Works 1:350-351.

Sins of the World:

1) The great mystery, that God became man, was not wrought for little or few offences. Thou didst not give thy Son, heavenly Father, unto death for small sins only, but for all the greatest sins of the world, so that the sinner return to thee with his whole heart, as I do here at this present. Wherefore, have mercy on me, God, whose property is always to have mercy; have mercy upon me, O Lord, for thy great mercy. I crave nothing, Lord, for mine own merits, but for thy name’s sake, that it may be hallowed thereby, and for thy dear Son Jesus Christ’s sake: and now therefore, Our Father of heaven, hallowed be thy name, &c. Thomas Cranmer, “The Prayer of Doctor Cranmer,” in Works, 1:xxvi

2) OUR Saviour Christ Jesus, according to the will of his eternal Father, when the time thereto was fully accomplished, taking our nature upon him, came into this world from the high throne of his Father, to declare unto miserable sinners good news, to heal them that were sick, to make the blind to see, the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak, to set prisoners at liberty, to shew that the time of grace and mercy was come, to give light to them that were in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to preach and give pardon and full remission of sin to all his elected. And to perform the same he made a sacrifice and oblation of his own body upon the cross, which was a full redemption, satisfaction, and propitiation for the sins of the whole world. And to commend this his sacrifice unto all his faithful people, and to confirm their faith and hope of eternal salvation in the same, he hath ordained a perpetual memory of his said sacrifice, daily to be used in the church to his perpetual laud and praise, and to our singular comfort and consolation; that is to say, the celebration of his holy supper, wherein he doth not cease to give himself, with all his benefits, to all those that duly receive the same simper according to his blessed ordinance. Cranmer, ‘A Preface to the Reader,” in Works,1:5.

3) They say, that the mass is a sacrifice satisfactory for sin, by the devotion of the priest that offereth, and not by the thing that is offered. But we say, that their saying is a most heinous,
yea, and detestable error against the glory of Christ: for the satisfaction for our sins is not the devotion nor offering of the priest, but the only host and satisfaction for all the sins of the world is the death of Christ, and the oblation of his body upon the cross, that is to say, the oblation that Christ himself offered once upon the cross, and never but once, nor never any but he. And
there fore that oblation which the priests make daily in their papistical masses, cannot be a satisfaction for other men’s sins by the priest’s devotion: but it is a mere illusion, and subtle craft of the devil, whereby antichrist hath many years blinded and deceived the world. Cranmer, “Of the Presence of Christ,” in Works 1:81.

4) And because one single error pleaseth you not, shortly after you link a number of errors almost together in one sentence, as it were to make an whole chain of errors, saying not only that Christ’s body is verily present in the celebration of the holy supper, meaning of corporal presence, but that it is also our very sacrifice, and sacrifice propitiatory for all the sins of the world, and that it is the only sacrifice of the church, and that it is the pure and clean sacrifice, whereof Malachi spake, and that Christ doth now in the celebration of this supper as he did when he gave the same to his apostles, and that he offereth himself now as he did then, and that the same offering is not now renewed again. This is your chain of errors, wherein is not one link of pure gold, but all be copper, feigned, and counterfeit: for neither is Christ’s body verily and corporally present in the celebration of his holy supper, but spiritually; nor his body is not the very sacrifice, but the thing whereof the sacrifice was made; and the very sacrifice was the crucifying of his body, and the effusion of his blood unto death. Wherefore of his body was not made a sacrifice propitiatory for all the sins of the world at his supper, but the next day after upon the cross.  Therefore saith the prophet, that we were made whole by his wounds: Livoreejtis sanati sumus.saith the prophet, that we were made whole by his wounds: Livore ejtis sanati sumus. Cranmer, Of the Presence of Christ, in Works 1:87-88.

5) Another is, that you call the most “precious body and blood of Christ the sacrifice propitiatory for all the sins of the world,” which of itself was not the sacrifice, but the not Christ’s thing whereof the sacrifice was made, and the death of him upon the cross was the but his true sacrifice propitiatory, that purchased the remission of sin; which sacrifice continued body, not long, nor was made never but once; whereas his flesh and blood continued ever in substance from his incarnation, as well before the said sacrifice as ever sithens. And that sacrifice propitiatory made by him only upon the cross is of that effect to reconcile us to God’s favour, that by it be accepted all our sacrifices of lauds and thanksgiving. Thomas Cranmer, “Of the Oblation and Sacrifice of Christ,” in Works 1:344-345.

6) For Christ offered not the blood of calves, sheep, and goats, as the priests of the old law have used to do, but he offered his own blood upon the cross. And he went not into an holy place made by man’s hand, as Aaron did; but he ascend ed up into heaven, where his eternal Father dwelleth, and before him he maketh continual supplication for the sins of the whole world, presenting his own body, which was torn for us, and his precious blood, which of his most gracious and liberal charity he shed for us upon the cross. Thomas Cranmer, “Of the Oblation and Sacrifice of Christ,” in Works 1:346.

7) And although in the old testament there were certain sacrifices, called sacrifices for sin, yet they were no such sacrifices that could take away our sins in the sight of God, but they were ceremonies ordained to this intent, that they should be, as it were, shadows and figures, to signify beforehand the excellent sacrifice of Christ that was to come, which should be the very true and perfect sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. Thomas Cranmer, “Of the Oblation and Sacrifice of Christ,” in Works 1:347.

8) The place of St Paul unto the Hebrews, which they do cite for their purpose, maketh quite and clean against them. For where St Paul saith, that, “every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins,” he spake not that of the priests of the new testament, but of the old, which, as he saith, offered calves and goats. And yet they were not such priests that by their offerings and sacrifices they could take away the people’s sins; but they were shadows and figures of Christ our everlasting priest, which only by one oblation of himself taketh away the sins of the world. Wherefore the popish priests, that apply this text unto themselves, do directly contrary to the meaning of St Paul, to the great injury and prejudice of Christ, by whom only St Paul saith that the sacrifice and oblation for the sin of the whole world was accomplished and fulfilled. Thomas Cranmer, “Of the Oblation and Sacrifice of Christ,” in Works 1:351.

9) And although Nicene council call Christ “the Lamb that taketh away the sins of the world,” yet doth it not mean that by the sacrifice of the priest in the mass, but by the sacrifice of himself upon the cross. But here, according to your accustomed manner, you alter some words of the council, and add also some of your own. For the council said not that the Lamb of God is “sacrificed of the priests, not after the manner of other sacrifices;” but that he is sacrificed not after the manner of a sacrifice. And in saying, that Christ is sacrificed of the priest, not like a sacrifice, or after the manner of a sacrifice, the council in these words signified a difference between the sacrifice of the priest, and the sacrifice of Christ, which upon the cross offered himself to be sacrificed after the manner of a very sacrifice, that is to say, unto death, for the sins of the world. Christ made the bloody sacrifice, which took away sin: the priest with the church make a commemoration thereof with lauds and thanksgiving, offering also themselves obedient to God unto death. And yet this our sacrifice taketh not away our sins, nor is not accepted but by his sacrifice. The bleeding of him took away our sins, not the eating of him.   Thomas Cranmer, “Of the Oblation and Sacrifice of Christ,” in Works 1:356.

10) The third conclusion, as it is intricate and wrapped in all doubtful and ambiguous words, and differing also much from the true speech of the scripture, so, as the words thereof seem to import in open sense, it is most contumelious against our only Lord and Saviour Christ Jesus, and a violating of his precious blood, which upon the altar of the cross is the only sacrifice and oblation for the sins of all mankind. Thomas Cranmer, “Disputations at Oxford,” in Works 1:395.

11) And so the old doctors do call this speaking of Christ tropical, figurative, anagogical, allegorical; which they do interpret after this sort, that although the substance of bread and wine do remain, and be received of the faithful, yet notwithstanding, Christ changed the appellation thereof, and called the bread by the name of his flesh, and the wine by the name of his blood, non rei veritate, sed significante mysterio; i. e. “not that it is so in very deed, but signified in a mystery:” so that we should consider, not what they be in their own nature, but what they import to us and signify; and should understand the sacrament, not carnally, but spiritually; and should attend, not to the visible nature of the sacraments, neither have respect only to the outward bread and cup, thinking to see there with our eyes no other things but only bread and wine; but that, lifting up our minds, we should look up to the blood of Christ with our faith, should touch him with our mind, and receive him with our inward man; and that, being like eagles in this life, we should fly up into heaven in our hearts, where that Lamb is resident at the right hand of his Father, which taketh away the sins of the world; by whose stripes we are made whole; by whose passion we are filled at his table; and whose blood we receiving out of his holy side, do live for ever; being made the guests of Christ, having him dwelling in us through the grace of his true nature, and through the virtue and efficacy of his whole passion; being no less assured and certified that we are fed spiritually unto eternal life by Christ’s flesh crucified, and by his blood shed, the true food of our minds, than that our bodies be fed with meat and drink in this life: and hereof this said mystical bread on the table of Christ, and the mystical wine, being administered and received after the institution of Christ, be to us a memorial, a pledge, a token, a sacrament, and a seal. And thereof is it that Christ saith not thus, “This is my body; eat ye:” but after he had bidden them eat, then he said; “This is my body, which shall be given for you.” Thomas Cranmer,  “Disputations at Oxford,” in Works 1:399-398.

12) O Father of heaven, O Son of God, Redeemer of the world, O Holy Ghost, proceeding from them both, three Persons and one God, have mercy upon me, a most wretched caitiff and miserable sinner. I have offended both heaven and earth, more than my tongue can express. Whither then may I go, or whither shall I flee for succour? To heaven I may be ashamed to lift up mine eyes, and in earth I find no refuge or succour. What shall I then do? Shall I despair? God forbid. O God, thou art merciful, and refusest none that cometh unto thee for succour. To
thee, therefore, do I run; to thee do I humble myself, saying, O Lord God, my sins be great, but have mercy upon me for thy great mercy. God was not made man for our small offences. Thou didst not give thy Son unto death for small sins only, but for all and the greatest sins of the world, so that the sinner return to thee in his heart, as I do here at this present. Wherefore have mercy on me, O Lord; for although my sins be great, yet thy mercy is greater. I crave nothing, Lord, for mine own merits, but for thy name’s sake, that it may be hallowed thereby, and for thy dear Son, Jesus Christ’s sake. And now therefore, O Father, that art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, &c. Thomas Cranmer, “The Prayer and Saying of Thomas Cranmer, a little before Ms death, all written with his own hand, as followeth,” in Works, 2:565.

Redemption

Christ came to Redeem the World:

1) The effect therefore of St Augustine s words plainly to be expressed, was this, that the prophets in the old testament promised a Saviour to come and redeem the world, which the sacraments of that time testified until his coming: but now he is already come, and hath by his death performed that was promised, which our sacraments testify unto us, as St Augustine declareth more plainly in his book, De fide ad Petrum, the 19th chapter. So that St Augustine speaketh of the giving of Christ to death, (which the sacraments of the old testament testified to come, and ours testify to be done,) and not of the giving of him in the sacraments. Thomas
Cranmer, ‘Of the Presence of Christ,” in Works, 1:77.

Christ Redeemer of the World:

1) The prayer GOOD Christian people, my dearly beloved brethren and sisters in Christ, I beseech bishop. you most heartily to pray for me to Almighty God, that he will forgive me all my sins and offences, which be many without number, and great above measure. But yet one thing grieveth ray conscience more than all the rest, whereof, God willing, I intend to speak more hereafter. But how great and how many soever my sins be, I beseech you to pray God of his mercy to pardon and forgive them all.” And here, kneeling down, he said: “O Father of Heaven: O Son of God, Redeemer of the world: Holy Ghost, three persons and one God, have mercy upon me, most wretched caitiff and miserable sinner. “The Prayer of Doctor Cranmer,” in Works, 1:xxvi.

2) For the more large declaration of the pure Christian faith, it is to be considered, that there is a general faith, which all that be Christian, as well good as evil, have: as, to believe that God is, that he is the Maker and Creator of all things, and that Christ is the Saviour and Redeemer of the world, and for his sake all penitent sinners have remission of their sins; and that there shall be a general resurrection at the end of this mortal world, at the which Christ shall judge all the good to joy without end, and the evil to pain without end; with such other like things. And all these things even the devils also believe, and tremble for fear and grievousness of God’s indignation and torments, which they endure and ever shall do. But they have not the right Christian faith, that their own sins by Christ s redemption be pardoned and forgiven, that themselves by Christ be delivered from God’s wrath, and be made his beloved children and heirs of his kingdom to come. Thomas Cranmer, “Corrections to the Institutions by Henry VII,” in Works, 2:84.

3) These be very notable and fearful sentences unto all such as be not repentant, but live after their own wills and not after God’s will, neither have the right faith nor love unto God, nor shall be inheritors of his kingdom. And though Christ hath paid a sufficient ransom for all the sins in the world, and is a sufficient Redeemer and Saviour of all the world, yet shall they have no part thereof; for they belong not unto Christ; and Christ utterly refuseth them for his, which have faith and love only in their mouth, and have not the same engraven in their hearts, and expressed in their acts and deeds. Thomas Cranmer, “Corrections to the Institutions by Henry VII,” in Works, 2:85.

Sacrifice for the Redemption of the World:

1) And although it be one Christ that died for us, and whose death we remember, yet it is not one sacrifice that he made of himself upon the cross, and that we make of him upon the altar or table. For his sacrifice was the redemption of the world, ours is not so: his was death, ours is but a remembrance thereof: his was the taking away the sins of the world; ours is a praising and thanking for the same: and therefore his was satisfactory, ours is gratulatory. It is but one Christ that was offered then, and that is offered now; yet the offerings be divers: his was the thing, and ours is the figure; his was the original, and ours is as it were a pattern. Therefore concludeth Lombardus, that Christ was “otherwise offered then and otherwise now.” And seeing then that the offerings and sacrifices be divers, if the first was propitiatory and satisfactory, ours cannot be so, except we shall make many sacrifices propitiatory. And then, as St. Paul reasoneth, either the first must be insufficient, or the other in vain. And as Christ only made this propitiatory sacrifice, so he made but one, and but once. For the making of any other, or of the same again, should have been (as St Paul reasoneth) a reproving of the first as imperfect and insufficient. And therefore, at his last supper, although Christ made unto his Father sacrifices of lauds and thanksgiving, as these words eucharistesas and hunesantes do declare, yet he made there no sacrifice propitiatory; for then either the sacrifice upon the cross had been void, or the sacrifice at the supper unperfect and unsufficient. And although he had at his supper made sacrifices propitiatory, yet the priests do not so, who do not the same that Christ did at his supper. For he ministered not the sacrament in remembrance of his death, which was not then brought to pass, but he ordained it to be ministered of us in remembrance thereof. And therefore our offering, after Lombardus judgment, is but a remembrance of that true offering wherein Christ offered himself upon the cross. And so did Christ institute it to be. Thomas Cranmer, “Of the Oblation and Sacrifice of Christ,” in Works 1:359.

2) Whereas, on the other side, the very true doctrine  of Christ and his pure church from the beginning is plain, certain, without wrinkles, without any inconvenience or absurdity, so cheerful and comfortable to all Christian people, that it must needs come from the Spirit of God, the Spirit of truth and all consolation. For what ought to be more certain and known to all Christian people, than that Christ died once, and but once, for the redemption of the world? And what can be more true, than that his only death is our life? And what can be more comfortable to a penitent sinner, that is sorry for his sin, and returneth to God in his heart and whole mind, than to know that Christ dischargeth him of the heavy load of his sin, and taketh the burden upon his own back? And if we shall join the priest herein to Christ in any part, and give a portion hereof to his sacrifice, as you in your doctrine give to the priest the one half at the least, what a discourage is this to the penitent sinner, that he may not hang wholly upon Christ! what perplexities and doubts rise hereof in the sinner s conscience! . Thomas Cranmer, “Of the Oblation and Sacrifice of Christ,” in Works 1:366. 

Ransom for the sins of the world:

1) And as he there corporally eateth the very bread, and drinketh the very wine; so spiritually he may feed of the very flesh and blood of Jesus Christ his Saviour and Redeemer, remembering his death, thanking him for his benefits, and looking for none other sacrifice at no priest’s hands for remission of his sins; but only trusting to his sacrifice, which being both the high priest, and also the Lamb of God, prepared from the beginning to take away the sins of the world, offered up himself once for ever in a sacrifice of sweet smell unto his Father, and by the same paid the ransom for the sins of the whole world: who is before us entered into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of his Father, as a patron, mediator, and intercessor for us; and there hath prepared places for all them that be lively members of his body, to reign with him for ever, in the glory of his Father; to whom with him, and the Holy Ghost, be glory, honour, and praise for ever and ever. Amen. Thomas Cranmer, “Of the Oblation and Sacrifice of Christ,” in Works 1:354.

Christ gave himself for the redemption of all:

1) And as for Cyril, is clearly against you, who declareth that when Christ said, ” I Cyril, will give my flesh for the life of the world;” he fulfilled not that promise in his John vi. supper, but in the cross. For if Christ had given to us life in his supper, what should he have needed after to die for the same purpose? The words of Cyril be these upon the words of Christ: Panis quern, ego dabo, caro mea est quam ego dabo pro mundi vita. Morior, inquit, pro omnibus, ut per meipsum omnes vimficem, et caro mea omnium redemptio fiat; morietur enim mors morte mea. Which words mean thus much in English: “I will die for all, that by my death I may give life to all, and that my flesh may be the redemption of all; for death shall die by my death.” Thus expoundeth Cyril the words of Christ, that when he said, “I will give,” he did not fulfil that promise in his supper, but in the cross, giving us life by his death, not by eating and drinking of him in his supper, as you most ignorantly say. And yet all men may judge how much I bear with you, when I call it but ignorance. Now followeth mine answer to the authors wrested by the papists. Thomas Cranmer, “Against Transubstantiation,” in Works, 1:307-308.

World Redeemed:

1) xiv. “Willing to return to him.” It is good to speak of our redemption after the fashion of the scripture, which useth ever to say, that Christ hath spoiled the devils, and redeemed the world, without this or any like addition: Ipse, saith the scripture, spoliavit principatus et potestates; et, Passtts est pro peccatis nostris, non solum autem nostris, sedet totius mundi. And thus the scripture speaketh, to set forth only the glory of our redemption by Christ. And he that hath the pure faith is not only willing, but also indeed returneth to Christ; ut supra ad iv. Thomas Cranmer, “Corrections to the Institutions by Henry VII,” in Works, 2:88.

Sufficient Redemption:

1) And here, good reader, thou art to be warned, that this writer in this place goeth about craftily to draw thee from the very work of our full redemption, wrought by our Saviour Christ upon the cross, unto a sacrifice (as they say) made by him the night before at his last supper. And forasmuch as every priest (as the papists say) maketh the same sacrifice in his mass, therefore, consequently, it followeth by this writer, that we must seek our redemption at the priest’s sacrifice. And so Christ’s blessed passion (which he most obediently and willingly suffered for our salvation upon the cross,) was not the only and sufficient sacrifice for remission of our sins. Thomas Cranmer, ‘Of the Presence of Christ,” in Works, 1:85.

2) And if these were sacrifices propitiatory or satisfactory for remission of sin, what needed he then after to die, if he had made the propitiatory sacrifice for sin already? For either the other was not vailable thereto, or else his death was in vain, as St Paul reasoneth of the priests of the old law, and of Christ. And it is not read in any scripture, that Christ’s will, declared at his supper, was effectuous and sufficient for our redemption, but that his most willing death and passion was the oblation sufficient to endure for ever and ever, world without end. Thomas Cranmer, ‘Of the Presence of Christ,” in Works, 1:86.

3) The only oblation of Christ (wherewith he offered himself to God the Father once to death upon the altar of the cross for our redemption) was of such efficacy, that there is no more need of any sacrifice for the redemption of the whole world; but all the sacrifice of the old law he took away, performing that in very deed, which an. they did signify and promise. Whosoever therefore shall fix the hope of his salvation in any other sacrifice, he falleth from the grace of Christ, and is contumelious against the blood of Christ. For “he was wounded for our transgressions, and was broken for our iniquities. All we like sheep have wandered astray; every man hath turned after his own way; and the Lord hath laid all our iniquities upon him” [Isai. liii.]. For he hath entered once for all into the holy place, by the blood, not of goats or calves, but by his own blood, finding eternal redemption;” and “hath entered into heaven, to appear now in the sight of God for us; not to offer himself oftentimes, (for so should he have suffered many times,” [Heb. ix.]: but now hath he appeared once to put away sin through his own oblation. And as it is appointed to all men once to die, so also Christ once was offered:” [Heb. ix.] “who offering up one oblation for sins, sitteth now for ever on the right hand of God. For by one oblation hath he made perfect for ever those that be sanctified”[Heb. x.]. For “where is remission of sins, there is now no more oblation for sin,” but this only sacrifice of Christ. Whosoever shall seek any other sacrifice propitiatory for sin, maketh the sacrifice of Christ of no validity, force, or efficacy. For if it be sufficient to remit sins, what need is there of any other? for the necessity of another argueth and declareth this to be insufficient. Almighty God grant that we may truly lean to one sacrifice of Christ, and that we to him again may repay our sacrifices of thanksgiving, of praise, of confessing his name, of true amendment, of repentance, of mercifulness towards our neighbours, and of all other good works of charity!  For by such sacrifices we shall declare ourselves neither ungrateful to God, nor altogether unworthy of this holy sacrifice of Christ. Thomas Cranmer, “Disputations at Oxford,” in Works, 1:399.

4) The gracious and benign promises of God by the mediation of Christ sheweth us, (and that to our great relief and comfort), whensoever we be repentant, and return fully to God in our hearts, that we have forgiveness of our sins, be reconciled to God, and accepted, and reputed just and righteous in his sight, only by his grace and mercy, which he doth grant and give unto us for his dearly-beloved Son’s sake, Jesus Christ; who paid a sufficient ransom for our sins; whose blood doth wash away the same; whose bitter and grievous passion is the only pacifying oblation, that putteth away from us the wrath of God his Father; whose sanctified body offered on the cross is the only sacrifice of sweet and pleasant savour, as St Paul saith; that is to say, of such sweetness and pleasantness to the Father, that for the same he accepteth and reputeth of like sweetness all them that the same offering doth serve for. Thomas Cranmer, “Corrections to the Institutions by Henry VII,” in Works, 2:113-114.

Reconciliation

Universal Reconciliation:

1) This is the honour and glory of this our high priest, wherein he admitteth neither partner nor successor. For by his own oblation he satisfied his Father for all men’s sins, and reconciled mankind unto his grace and favour. And who soever deprive him of his honour, and go about to take it to themselves, they be very antichrists, and most arrogant blasphemers against God and against his Son Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent. Thomas Cranmer, “Of the Oblation and Sacrifice of Christ,” in Works 1:346.

2) Even now you said, that the act of the priests must needs be a sacrifice propitiatory; and now, to have an understanding for the same, you be driven to so shameful a shift, that you say either clean contrary, that it is not the action of the priest, but the presence of Christ; or else that the action of the priest is none otherwise satisfactory than all other Christian men’s works be. For otherwise, say you, the daily sacrifice, in respect of the action of the priest, can not be called satisfactory. Wherefore at length, knowledging your popish doctrine to sound evil-favouredly, you confess again the true catholic teaching, that “this speech is to be frequented and used, that the only immolation of Christ in himself, upon the altar of the cross, is the very satisfactory sacrifice for reconciliation of mankind to the favour of God.” Thomas Cranmer, “Of the Oblation and Sacrifice of Christ,” in Works 1:362.

General Interest:

1) For all the good works that we can do be unperfect, and therefore not able to deserve our justification: but our justification cloth come freely by the mere mercy of God, and of so great and free mercy, that whereas all the world was not able of theirselves to pay any part towards their ransom, it pleased our heavenly Father, of his infinite mercy, without any our desert or deserving, to prepare for us the most precious jewels of Christ’s body and blood, whereby our ransom might be fully paid, the law fulfilled, and his justice fully satisfied. So that Christ is now the righteousness of all them that truly do believe in him. He for them paid their ransom by his death: he for them fulfilled the law in his life: so that now in him, and by him, every true Christian man may be called a fulfiller of the law; forasmuch as that which their infirmity lacketh, Christ’s justice hath supplied. Thomas Cranmer, “Homily of Salvation,” in Works, 2:129-130.

2) Wherefore in this sacrament, (if it be rightly received with a true faith,) we be assured that our sins be forgiven, and the league of peace and the testament of God is confirmed between him and us, so that whosoever by a  true faith doth eat Christ s flesh, and drink his blood, hath everlasting life by him. Which thing when we feel in our hearts at the receiving of the Lord s supper, what thing can be more joyful, more pleasant, or more comfortable unto us?  Thomas Cranmer, ‘Of the Sacrament,” in Works 1:44.

 

[Note: In history of the English Reformation studies, no one pretends to claim that Thomas Cranmer held to limited expiation and redemption. Rather he is often portrayed as a sort of odd-man out, that he stood apart from the alleged mainstrean of Continential Augustinian soteriology of limited atonement. However, the above demonstrates that Cranmer was indeed exactly in line with the original continental Reformers (Luther, Zwingli, Bullinger, Calvin, Vermigli, Musculus, et al).

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