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Richard Baxter on 2 Peter 2:1

January 8, 2009

Baxter:

The fifth text which I shall insist on is 2 Pet. 2.1,

“But there were false Prophets also among the People, even as there shall be false Teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.”

And verse 20, &c:

“For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the World through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning: for it had been better for them not to have known the way of Righteousness, then after they have known it, ti turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them: But it happened to them according to the true Proverb, ‘The Dog is turned to his own Vomit again, and the Sow is turned to her own wallowing in the mire.’”

Whereunto for fuller explication add but Jude’s words of the same men, ver. 4. “Ungodly men, turning the Grace of our God into Lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ,” put all these together because they all speak of the same men.

Now 1. The Text expressly says, they denied the Lord that bought them.

2. That is it is the Lord Jesus that is the Lord appears.

1. In that it is expressly said in the 20. ver. that it was by the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, that they escaped the pollutions of the World.

2. Jude expressly says, “They denied the Lord Jesus Christ.”

3. There have been few that have denied God among all the Apostates in comparison of those that have denied Christ: Nay, it is a great doubt whether it can  be proved of any, directly that were in those times.

4. Their Apostasy is described by “turning from the holy Commandment delivered to them,” which is called “the way of Righteousness,” and to their former Vomit (which must needs be the state they were in before they turned Christians) and to the mire, after they were washed; And this state of Apostasy is opposed to “escaping the pollutions of the World, by the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,” so that it is left past doubt that it is the Lord Jesus Christ that bought them whom they are said to deny. And Jude says of them, that “they are twice dead, plucked up by the roots,” by which it appears that after their first death, they had received some kind of new Life by Christ.

Lastly, Note, that here are many benefits which they received, which could not have befallen them, but through the Death of Christ; They could no other way have been washed and have escaped the world’s pollutions, and have known the way of Righteousness, &c., yea Jude says,”They turn the Grace of God into Lasciviousness,” therefore it was a sin against Grace: and all Grace is by the blood of Christ: yea it iseems they had themselves some Grace, that is, (Mercy contrary to merit and tending to a recovery), which they so turned into Lasciviousness. And Peter in the next chapter shows that their Apostasy lay in a not-believing Christ’s second coming, because of his seeming delay, and therefore they gave themselves up to their Lusts, and said mockingly, “Where is the promise of his coming?” so that it is both evident that they were purchased by Christ, and that it is Christ that bought them whom they are said to deny.

Yet as plain as the Holy Ghost has here spoken, what industry is used to raise a Dust, and compel these words to receive an alien sense.

1. It is said that “all things for universal Redemption are here Uncertain: but against it, this is certain.

1. “That there is no spiritual distinguishing fruits of Redemption ascibed to those false Teachers, but only common gifts of light and knowledge which Christ has purchased for many for whom he did not make his soul a Ransom.”

2. “That else the Redemption of any by the blood of Christ, cannot be a peculiar aggravation of the sins of any, because they say, he died for all: and yet this buying of the false Teachers is held out as an aggravation of their sin in particular.”

Ans. 1 It is here merely begged and never was yet proved, that Christ has purchased common gifts of light and knowledge for men without making his Soul a Ransom, i.e., his Life a satisfaction for them, and that all that he satisfied for have distinguishing fruits of redemption. It is easier to take these as certainties than to prove them so.

2. Redemption is no aggravation of that man’s Apostasy, that never was an Apostate. It cannot be said, that they deny the Lord that bought them, who never denied him: And therefore it is a common aggravation of the sin of all that do sin against him, and of all their denial that do deny him: but all do not deny him. May not that be an aggravation of these men’s sins in particular, which would also aggravate the sins of any other, according to the several quality of the sin? May it not be said of an Atheist, (He that denies the God that made him), as an aggravation of his particular sin? and will you by force of wit thence prove that God made not all men? Now to the uncertainties.

“And 1. They say it is uncertain whether it is uncertain whether Christ as Mediator be here intended as the Lord or no; there is not anything in the text to enforce us so to conceive.”

Answ. It may enforce the unprejudiced I think; review what I have produced out of the Text to prove it. But they give these reasons against it.

1. God only, as God with his dealing toward such, is mentioned, of Christ not a word.

Answ. 1. Is not Christ God? And from this Text Divines have proved it (joined with Jude 4) against the Arians; and must we give up that argument for nothing? 2. I have before showed special mention of Christ.

2. They say (the name despotes properly Herus, attended by Dominion and Sovereignty, is not usually if at all given to our Saviour in the New Testament, &c. Nay is the name proper for our Saviour in the work of Redemption? Despotes is such a Lord and Master as refers to servants and subjection.

Answ. 1. I hope we must not also deny Christ’s Dominion and Sovereignty, and deny ourselves to be his Servants and Subjects, (as he is Mediatory) only that we may the better deny his Universal Sacrifice and Satisfaction: If we do, it will be a dear bought conclusion, “All power in Heaven and Earth is given to him, and the Father has committed all judgement to him, and for that end he died, Rose, and Revived, that he might be Lord of the Dead and living,” Math. 28.19, John 5.22; Rom. 14.9.

2. It is sufficient if here it be evident that despotes is applied to Christ; seeing that there is no disuading reason can be brought from the word. It is undoubtedly true of the reign of the Mediator, in the largest sense; (now all power is given to him), and he basileia auto panton desthezei, as it is said of God, Psal. 103.19, by the Sept. Erasmus says siquid interest despotes privatis jurus  nomen est, kurios honris & authoritatis: And then we may see that both belong to Christ, and yet no wonder if he be more often called kurios.

3. If it were God the Father that is here called Lord, yet all is one to the main point, for he [is] Deus Redemptor, and he bought them by the blood of his Son, but that’s the next Question.

2. They say it is uncertain that by (buying) is meant purchasing with the ransom of his blood.

Answ. 1. What other price than Christ’s blood does God buy men with?

2. I have proved it before, that it was purchasing with Christ’s blood; both in that Jude mentions the Lord Jesus (and some think that the former Title (the only Lord God) is given of Christ too, and the place invincible to prove Christ’s Godhead) and in that the benefits received by them could come no other way. But let us see their Reasons.

1. They say the Apostle insists on a Comparison with the times of the Old Testament, and the False Prophets that were then among the People.

Answ. What of that?

1. Is not the comparison clear, as those false Prophets were part of the Typical Redeemed People, so are these of the truly Redeemed.

2. That the Typical Redemption out of Egypt was not only a Type, but also a Fruit of Christ’s Redemption, in its moral being considered.

1. They say the word agorazo, signifies primarily the buying of things, translatitiously the Redemption of Persons.

Answ. 1. It signifies any buying in the Market for a price, whether thing or person. And what other buying with a price can you here devise?

2. It’s well known the Holy Ghost uses it to signify Christ’s purchasing of us by his blood, what means it, Rev. 5.9 egorasas to en to aimati sou? and Rev. 14.3, oi egorasmenoi apo tes ges. And 1 Cor. 6.20, egorasthete times, Rev. 14.4, with many the like.

2. They say “Here is no mention of blood, death, price, or offering of Jesus Christ, as in other places where proper Redemption is teated on.”

Answ. 1. As if agorazo did not alone signify to buy with a price.

2. Has every place that treats of proper Redemption such an addition? View those before cited, and be convinced of the contrary, what’s added, Rev. 14.3.

The third Reason is, that “the Apostle affirms their deliverance to consist in the escaping of the pollution of the World, as Idolatry, false Worship, and the like, by the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, plainly declaring that their buying was only in respect of the enjoyment of the knowledge of the truth, but of the washing in the blood of the Lamb, he is wholly silent.”

Answ. The question is of the satisfaction by sacrifice, whether Christ bought them thereby: this Reason is from the effects and application, if they had not so much as escaped this pollution of the World, it would not follow that Christ did not buy them by his satisfaction, but only that they received not this benefit of it.

2. It is easier begged than proved, that Christ satisfied for none but these that are washed by his blood.

3. If it had been said that they were washed in the blood of the Lamb, had it not been easy for the same wit to have found another interpretation? and to have said it was spoken but kata[?] dokan, because they have professed it to be so?

4. He that will well prove that God can and does so far relax his Law, as to give all these mercies without Christ’s satisfying for them to whom they are given, viz., washing, escaping the World’s pollutions by the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour; yea, clean escaping from them who live in error, ver. 18. &c. will do the Socinians a greater pleasure, and say more against the necessity of Christ’s satisfaction, than ever I saw yet done by any.

And here I would haev no strange passage observed in very many Divines, that it may appear how prejudice & studium partium, prevails in Men’s studies, and how much Will can command the Understanding. When we plead that God does in pardoning Sin for Christ’s Sacrifice relax the Law, or dispence with it, and not properly execute it according to its sense, they stifly deny it, and say that it is but an interpretation it kat’ epithkeian, according to its sense reserved exception, and that Christ’s suffering was the proper fulfilling of the Law, and the Reason they give is, because they think it of that necessity that the Law be executed according to its sense, or else it should not be true; or at least God should not be just; (even Essenius himself forsakes Grotius in this point), and yet these same Men will maintain either that God does without any satisfaction at all so relax the same Law to wicked men, as to give them all the mercies which they enjoy (viz., illumination, a taste of the good word of God, and the powers of the World to come, to be made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and believe for a time, and be sanctified by the blood of the Covenant and loved of Christ, and clean escape from them that lieve in error, and to escape the World’s pollutions, and be washed, &c.,) or  else that God does this without relaxing his Law, and so, that by the rigorous Law of Works Sinners are not deprived of these Mercies. To the Non-Elect God relaxes that Law without satisfaction, which to the Elect he does not, yea cannot relax upon satisfaction. These things are harder to me than to be well digested.

[To be continued]

Richard Baxter, Universal Redemption of Mankind by the Lord Jesus Christ: Stated and Cleared by the late Learned Mr. Richard Baxter. Whereunto is added a short Account of Special Redemption, by the same Author (London: Printed for John Salusbury at the Rising-Sun in Cornhill, 1694), 314-322.    [Some spelling modernized, some reformatting, and underlining mine. Some of the Greek is nearly impossible to read and so a reasonable guess was called for.]

[Note: To be clear, in the above, Baxter points to Rev 14:3 as proof that the simple absence of a price mentioned, in itself does not indicate a non-soteriological redemption (as Owen claimed). Baxter repeatedly points out that such arguments from silence beg the question.]

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