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Edward Polhill on the Sufficieny of Christ’s Death with Regard to the Offer of the Gospel

October 30, 2008

Polhill:

If Christ did no way die for all men, which way shall the truth of these general promises be made out? “Whosoever will, may take the water of life.” What, though Christ never bought it for him? “Whosoever believes, shall be saved.” What, though there were no lutron, no price paid for him? Surely the gospel knows no water of life but what Christ purchased, nor no way of salvation but by a lutron, or price paid. But you will say, that albeit Christ died not for all men, yet are those general promises very true, and that because their truth is founded upon the sufficiency of Christ’s death, which hath worth enough in it to redeem millions of worlds. I answer, there is a double sufficiency; sufficientia nuda, consisting in the intrinsical value of the thing, and sufficientia ordinata, consisting in the intentional paying and receiving that thing as a price of redemption; the first is that radical sufficiency, whereby the thing may possibly become a price. Let a thing be of never so vast a value in itself, it is no price at all, unless it be paid for that end, and being paid, it is a price for no more than those only for whom it was paid; because the intrinsical worth how great soever, doth not constitute it a price. Hence it is clear, that if Christ’s death, though of immense value, had been paid for none, it had been no price at all; and if it were paid but for some, it was no price for the rest for whom it was not paid. These things premised, if Christ no way died for all men, how can can those promises stand true? All men, if they believe, shall be saved; saved, but how? Shall they be saved by a lutron or price of redemption? there was none at all paid for them; the immense value of Christ’s death doth not make it a price as to them for whom he died not; or shall they be saved without a lutron or price? God’s unsatisfied justice cannot suffer it, his minatory law cannot bear it, neither doth the gospel know any such way of salvation; take it either way, the truth of those promises cannot be vindicated, unless we say, that Christ died for all men. But you will yet reply, that albeit Christ died not for all, yet is the promise true; because Christ’s death is not only sufficient for all in itself, but it was willed by God to be so. I answer, God willed it to be so, but how? Did he will that it should be paid for all men, and so be a sufficient price for them? then Christ died for all men; or did he will that it should not be paid for all men, but only be sufficient for them in its intrinsical value? Then still it is no price at all as to them, and consequently either they may be saved without a price, which is contrary to the current of the gospel, or else they cannot be saved at all, which is contrary to the truth of the promise. If it be yet further demanded, To what purpose is it to argue which way reprobates shall be saved, seeing none of them ever did or will believe? Let the apostle answer, “What if some did not believe? Shall their unbelief make the faith of God of none effect? God forbid; yea, let God be true, but every man a liar.” (Rom. iii. 3, 4). And again, “If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful, and cannot deny himself.” (2 Tim. ii. 13.) No reprobate ever did or will believe, yet the promise must be true, and true antecedently to the faith or unbelief of men; true, because it is the promise of God, and antecendently true, because else it could not be the object of faith. Wherefore, I conclude, that Christ died for all men so far, as to found the truth of the general promises, which extend to all men.”

Edward Polhill, “The Divine Will Considered in its Eternal Decrees,” in The Works of Edward Polhill (Morgan, PA.: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1998), 164. [Note: Polhill’s point is that it is incongruent to suppose that God wills and offers salvation to all men without willing the means whereby all men may be saved.]

Credit to Tony for the find.

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