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John Ball (1585-1640) on the Sufficiency and Efficiency of Christ’s Death

March 6, 2009

Ball:

1) The second of divines distinguish the sufficiency and efficiency of Christ’s death. In respect of the worth and greatness of the price he died for all men: because it was sufficient for the redemption of every man in the world, if they did repent and believe: and God might without impeachment of justice have offered salvation to every man in the world upon the condition if it had been his pleasure. In the efficiency, as every man, or any man has fruit by the death of Christ, so Christ died for him. But this is not of one kind: some fruit is common to every man: for as Christ Christ is Lord of all things in heaven and earth, even the earthly blessings which infidels enjoy, may be termed fruits of Christ’s death. Others proper to the members of the visible Church and common to them, as to be called by the word, enjoy the Ordinances of grace, live under the Covenant, partake of some graces that come from Christ, which through their fault be not saving: and in this sense Christ died for all under the Covenant. But other fruits of Christ’s death according to the will of God and intention of Christ as Mediator, be peculiar to the sheep of Christ, his brethren, them that be given unto them of the Father, as faith unfained, regeneration, pardon of sin, adoption, &c., and so they hold, Christ died efficiently for his people only in this sense, namely so as to bring them effectually to faith, grace and glory. John Ball, A Treatise of the Covenant of Grace, (London: Printed by G. Miller for Edward Brewster on Ludgate Hill neer Fleet-bridge at the Signe of the Bible, 1645), 205

2) Touching the thing itself, it is freely acknowledged that the sufficiency of Christ’s death and the greatness of the price was such, that God might salva justitia, not only invite all mankind to come unto Christ, but also bring them unto faith and salvation by him, if it had seemed good unto him in his infinite wisdom: and the efficiency of it so great, that God does seriously invite many that live in the visible Church to come unto Christ and bestwo many spiritual gifts and graces upon them, by their own fault unavailable, to whom he does not give grace to repent and believe unfainedly. But exhortations and threatenings argue not that general purchase in question. For the obstinate and rebellious, as they whose eyes are closed and hearts hardened, lest seeing they should see, or hearing they should hear, and be converted; even they are exhorted to repent, and threatened for their impenitency: but I have not found, that the purchase was made absolutely for all such as such. For some rebellious, I can believe that Christ has purchased not only salvability alone, but faith, regeneration, pardon and salvation, because it is written of Christ, “That he ascended on high, an has led captivity captive, and has received gifts for men, yea for the rebellious also, that the Lord might dwell among them”: or as Piscator renders it, ‘thou has led captive to the rebellious, that they might dwell with the Lord God.’ John Ball, A Treatise of the Covenant of Grace, (London: Printed by G. Miller for Edward Brewster on Ludgate Hill neer Fleet-bridge at the Signe of the Bible, 1645), 208-209

[Notes: From reading this and the context of Ball’s arguments against Arminians, I think it is fair to say that: 1) Ball expresses a transitional theology, whereby while using the formal theological constructions, he actually presses towards the theology inherent in the revised version of the Sufficiency-Efficiency formula; 2) What is also interesting is Ball’s division of effects within the efficiency side of the formula. In effect, Ball has Christ dying for men in 3, even 4 senses; and, 3) Lastly, in this context, the advocates of universal redemption, to which he objects, is the version as held by the Arminian party.]

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One Comment leave one →
  1. March 7, 2009 1:07 pm

    We publish a facsimile reprint of Ball’s book “A Treatise of the Covenant of Grace” – see
    http://www.peterreynoldsbooks.com/si/090004.html

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