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Experience Mayhew (1673-1758) on Twisse on “Each Man is Bound to Believe that Christ Died for Him”

April 24, 2009

Mayhew:

At present I will show, what is in Scripture affirmed, with Respect to the Extent of Christ’s Death, with Relation to the End and Object of it. And here, not to insist on what is said about his mediatorial Righteousness, in Rom. Chap. 5. betwixt the 12th and the 19th Verses, where his Righteousness is opposed to the Sin of the First Adam, as a sufficient Remedy against the Mischiefs and Miseries brought on Mankind by it; I shall only recite some of those Passages of Scripture, wherein the Universality of Christ’s Death, as it respects the Persons for whom he died, seems to be plainly and fully asserted. Thus we are told, that God so loved the World, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting Life, John 3. 16. That he is the Propitiation for our Sins: And not for ours only, but for the Sins of the whole World, 1 John 2. 2. That he tasted Death for every Man, Heb. 2. 9. That he gave himself a Ransom for all, 1 Tim. 2. 6. That he died for all, 2 Cor. 5. 14, 15. And that he is the Savior of all Men, especially of those that believe, 1 Tim. 4. 10.

That the most obvious Sense of these Texts of Scripture, is, That Jesus Christ died for all Men without Exception, I think very evident. Nor is it at our Liberty to recede from this, without some urgent Necessity compelling us to it, which I suppose can never be shown; but instead thereof, I will show a Necessity of taking of them in the full Latitude in which they are expressed. I do not therefore wonder, that there have been a great many eminent Divines, in the English Nation, who have been far from being Arminians, that have plainly and fully asserted Christ’s dying for all, as I could easily manifest, did I rely on human Authorities, as I do not.

Yet I shall mention one Instance of this, not so much on the Account of the Authority of the Man (though I know of no Man whose Authority would go farther in this Case) as because I think he fairly states wherein the Difference lies betwixt himself and some others, and particularly betwixt what he held and I now hold, and consequently wherein the Crisis of this Controversy does, in my Apprehension, lie.

The Person I intend is the learned Dr. Twisse: And the Book from which I shall take some Passages, is entitled, The Riches of God’s Love to the Vessels of Mercy, &c. Part 1. Page 5. “We are often demanded,” says he, “whether every one that hears the Gospel be not bound to believe that Christ died for him? Now I say this Phrase, Christ died for me, includes many Things, as the Benefits which arise unto me by the Death of Christ, may be conceived to be many. But let these Benefits be distinguished, and we shall readily answer to the Question made, and that perhaps differently, as namely, affirmatively to some, negatively to others; as thus, Do you speak of Christ’s dying for me, that is, for the Pardon of my Sins, and for the Salvation of my Soul, I answer affirmatively and say, I am bound to believe that Christ died for the procuring of these Benefits unto me, in such Manner as God hath ordained; to wit, not absolutely but conditionally, to wit, in Case I do believe and repent. For God hath not otherwise ordained, that I should reap the Benefits of Pardon and Salvation, by virtue of Christ’s Death and Passion, unless I believe in him and repent.”

In another Place, this learned Author asserting the Death of Christ in the same Latitude and Extent, says, (Page 154) “To die for us, or for all, is to die for our Benefit, or for the Benefit of all: Now these Benefits are of a different Nature, whereof some are bestowed upon Man only conditionally (though for Christ’s Sake) and they are the Pardon of Sin and the Salvation of the Soul, and these God does confer only upon the Condition of Faith and Repentance. Now I am ready to profess and that, I suppose, as out of the Mouth of all our Divines, That every one who hears the Gospel, (without Distinction between Elect and Reprobate) is bound to believe that Christ died for him, so far as to procure both the Pardon of his Sins and the Salvation of his Soul, in Case he believes and repents.” In another Place he says, That as “Peter could not have been saved, unless he had believed and repented; so Judas might have been saved, if he had done so.” And the Doctor referring to that Text, John 3. 16. says on it, That “it gives a fair Light of Exposition to those Places where Christ is said to have died for the Sins of the World, yea, of the whole World, to wit, in this Manner, That whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting Life.”

Thus far I have Dr. Twisse fully with me in what I assert, viz. That Christ died for all Men, so far forth as to purchase Life and Salvation for them, in Case they believe in him, and repent of their Sins. He did this for the whole World, and not for the Elect only: So there is no Man but what may be saved on the Terms of the new Covenant, even Judas was not excepted or excluded.

But here I must add a Word, lest this should be misunderstood. The Meaning of this Assertion is not, that it is a Truth, that Jesus Christ died for all Men, if it shall eventually come to pass that all Men believe in him, but that otherwise this Assertion is false. It is even now a Truth, that Christ died for all Men, or otherwise that he did not die for all Men. This cannot be made either true or false, by Men’s future Carriages. The Meaning therefore of the Assertion maintained, is, that Jesus Christ has really so died for all Men, as to purchase this Advantage for them, that they shall be saved, if they will believe and repent.

It is not supposed in what is here maintained, that Jesus died equally, or in the same Sense, for all Mankind, Elect and Non-Elect. The Difference here is wide, and may, I think, be best conceived of, by a due Consideration of the Relation of Christ’s Death to the two Covenants, to which it has a Reference: I mean that of Redemption betwixt the glorious Persons of the holy Trinity, and that of Grace (as it is commonly called) which God has been pleased to propose to Mankind since the Fall.

If we consider the Death of Christ, with Relation to the Covenant of Redemption, or Terms agreed on betwixt the Son of God on the one Part, (as I conceive) and the Father and the holy Spirit, on the other, though the Father be more expressly mentioned in Scripture, as concerned in this Covenant, than the holy Spirit: If, I say, we consider the Death of Christ, with Relation to this Covenant, the Son of God did, by his Death and mediatorial Righteousness, obtain for the Elect of God, or all those whom in Scripture the Father is said to have given him, a perfect and complete Salvation in all the Parts and Branches of it, the principal of which are enumerated in Rom. 8. 29. viz. Effectual Calling, Justification and Glorification: For in the Covenant here intended, Sinners themselves are not a Party; and therefore the Conditions to be performed lie not on them, but on the Mediator, who undertook for them, and fulfilled the Terms required of him, in order to the Salvation of those who were ordained to Life. None of these, therefore, ever miscarry, as might be plainly shown from Scripture, were it my present Business. Such as please may read and compare Isa. 53. 10, 11, 12. John 6. 38, 39, 40. Rom. 9. 29. Acts 23. 48. John 7. 37. and Chap. 10. 27, 28, 29. Hence the Acts of Christ’s Mediation are spoken of, as having a peculiar Reference to these, in many Places of Scripture, as in John 17. ver. 6, 8, and 19, 20. and Chap. 10. 15. But such Places are not to be understood as if Christ died for the Elect only; for besides his absolutely mentioning the Salvation of all these, he was, according to the Covenant of Redemption which he entered into, to bring the Rest into a State of Salvability, that so God might be just in justifying any of them on the Terms of another Covenant, (that of Grace I intend) which was to be proposed to Sinners themselves, as plainly appears, in Rom. 3. 25, 26. with which that well agrees, Heb. 9. 22. And upon Christ’s doing this are grounded all the Offers of special Mercy made to Sinners in the Covenant of Grace, such as are implied in John 3. 16. Acts 10. 43. Mark 16. 15, 16. and Acts 16. 30, 31. And though Christ has by his Obedience and Death, purchased the Whole of the Salvation of all the Elect, so that the same is justly due to him; yet they cannot come to the Enjoyment of this Salvation, till they come up to the Terms of the Gospel, wherein it is conditionally offered to them. How God deals with those unto whom Gospel Terms are not offered, I am not here considering: But this I will venture to say, that I conceive them to be in a salvable State, so that if they are not saved, it is not because Justice will not allow of it. And I doubt not but that Jesus Christ was to bring the whole World into such a State as this, and not the Elect only.

And now let us consider the Death of Christ, as it has a Relation to the Covenant of Grace, proposed to Sinners themselves. Now as Christ’s Death relates to this Covenant, no Man can plead a Right to the Benefits procured by it, till he believes in him that died for him; nor can he be put in Possession of the special Benefits offered in this Covenant, except he performs the Conditions of it. In this Respect Peter and Judas, Elect and Non-Elect, are on a Level. He that believeth shall be saved; he that believeth not shall be damned. As the mediatorial Righteousness of Christ is sufficient for the Salvation of the whole World, so it is, according to the Tenor of the new Covenant, a Remedy applicable to any Person, on the Terms therein proposed; so that it is not contrary to the Justice of God, effectually to call, justify, and glorify any Person whatsoever. If this is not done for all, it is not because there is not a sufficient Remedy provided, but for such other Reasons as are given in God’s Word.

But now let us consider the Doctor’s [Twisse] Antithesis, in the Place above quoted, Page 5. “If,” says he, “the Question be made, Whether I am bound to believe that Christ died for me, to procure Faith and Repentance for me, I do not say, that I am bound, or that every Man is bound to believe this.” And a little below he says, “I see a Reason manifesting that Christ merited not this for all, no not for all, and every one that hears the Gospel. For if he had, then he had merited it for them, absolutely, or conditionally, not absolutely, for then all, and every one should believe de facto, which is untrue; for the Apostle says, (2 Thess. 3.) Fides non est omnium; nor conditionally, for what Condition, I pray, can be devised, upon the Performance whereof, God, for Christ’s Sake, should give us Faith and Repentance.” To this Demand I shall hereafter answer.

Thus, according to Dr. Twisse, though the Pardon of Men’s Sins and the Salvation of their Souls were conditionally purchased for them by Jesus Christ, viz. on the Condition of Faith and Repentance, and this for all, without Exception; yet these Conditions were, by Jesus Christ, purchased only for the Elect, and are not offered unto Sinners, on any Condition whatsoever.

The latter Part of what he held I shall hereafter consider. That Christ died to obtain Salvation for all Men, on the Terms of the new Covenant, I now take for granted, at least suppose it to be a Truth: And all those for whom Christ thus died, I hold to be in a salvable Estate; otherwise, how are they beholden to Christ for thus dying them them?

And I would fain be plainly showed how the Gospel can be preached to any Sinner for whom Christ thus died not? Or on what Foundation any Sinner can have Salvation offered to him, for whom it hath never been so much as conditionally obtained by Jesus Christ, in the sense allowed by Dr. Twisse, as above? May a Sinner be saved without having any Price of Redemption paid for him, in Case he believes? Or does this still remain to be done for him, if he should believe in Christ? Or may Salvation be fitly offered to him for whom Christ died not, on Condition of his believing, though it could not be given to him should he believe? Seeing God knows that it is not in his Power to believe, having no Object set before him, on which his Faith may be fixed, or any Eye to look to him, if there were, as is required in Isa. 45. 22. I may very seriously say, I know of no Kindness that can be shown in such an Offer, i.e. an Offer of Salvation made to Sinners that are not in a salvable State.

But Christ having died for all Men, to purchase Salvation for them, on the Terms expressed in a most gracious Covenant, well ordered in all Things and sure, there is then a Foundation laid for a Treaty of Peace and Reconciliation with sinful Men, on the Account of a Price of Redemption paid by Jesus Christ, as in Rom. 3. 24, 25, 26. where the Apostle having affirmed, that all have sinned and come short of the Glory of God, he adds, that we are justified freely by his Grace, through the Redemption that is in Jesus Christ: Whom God hath set forth to be a Propitiation through Faith in his Blood, to declare his Righteousness for the Remission of Sins that are past, through the Forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this Time, his Righteousness, that God might be just and the Justifier of him that believeth in Jesus. In which Words we are assured, That it would not have stood with the Justice of God to have justified a Sinner, though a Believer, had not Christ been set forth, as in the Words expressed. And it will no more consist with the Justice of God to offer Salvation to a Sinner for whom Christ died not, than actually to save him without Christ’s dying for him. And Salvation might have been as well offered to the whole World, if Christ had not died at all, as to any one Sinner for whom he died not.

How there has been a Foundation laid for the Salvation of sinful Men, or Way made for it, so that it may be done without any Injury to the Justice of God, or any other of his Attributes, yea, with great Honor to them all, has been now sufficiently declared. And the Reason why the Gospel is not preached, and Salvation offered to all Mankind, is not because all are not in a salvable State, or because there is not a Foundation laid in the Mediation of Christ for the Salvation of any Person or People in the World: So that there is no Sinner that has not committed the unpardonable Sin, who may not be invited to believe in the Son of God, and promised, that so doing, he shall be saved.”

Experience Mayhew, Grace Defended in a Most Plea For an Important Truth; Namely, That the offer of Salvation made to Sinners in the Gospel comprises in it an Offer of the Grace given in Regeneration (Boston: Printed by B. Green, and Company, for D. Henchman, in Cornhil, 1744) 41-47.

[Note: Regarding Mayhew’s citation of Twisse on John 3:16, it is probable that Mayhew was being a little generous there. From the context, it is more likely that Twisse intended to limit the extent of the world to the “whosoever believes.” The original comment is located on 1:281 of Twisse’s Riches of Gods Love.]  [Some spelling modernized; underlining mine.]

Credit to Tony for the find

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