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Experience Mayhew (1673-1758) on the Sufficiency of Christ’s Death

May 19, 2009

Mayhew:

Now that which I here intend is this, That Mankind have, since their Fall into a State of Sin and Death, had so much done for them, in order to their Recovery out of that miserable Estate, as thereby to be put into a State of Salvability: For otherwise there would be no Room for an Offer of Salvation to be made to them. Now Mankind, since their Apostasy, may be conceived to be in a salvable Condition in two Respects, or on a two-fold Account, (1) In Respects of the Sufficiency of God to find out and provide a Way for their Salvation, whatever seeming Difficulties, in Respect of the Threatening denounced against Sinners, and of his own Truth and Justice, seemed to lay against it; yet this notwithstanding, I say, the Wisdom, Goodness, and Power of God was such, that it was, in that Respect, possible for him to find out and provide a Way, in which such Sinners as Mankind were, might be eternally saved. But this is not what I principally here intend. Wherefore, (2) Mankind may be said to be in a salvable State, in Respect of a Price already paid, or undertaken to be paid, for their Redemption. I say, either paid

or undertaken to be paid, because this was the fame Thing in Respect of the Efficacy of the Atonement I intend. It was as available, in Respect of all the saving Ends of it, before it was actually paid, as it was afterwards; and on this Account our Savior is called the Lamb slain from the Foundation of the World. It is in Respect of this Price of Redemption, that I here affirm Mankind to be in a salvable Estate. They are so now, in Respect: of a Price already paid for them, in order to their eternal Happiness. And this I suppose to be a Truth, with Respect to all Mankind without Exception: So that though there are many who never will be saved, yet the Reason of this is not, because there is not a sufficient Price paid for their Redemption, nor because this is not a Remedy applicable to them, according to the Tenor of the new Covenant, but for other Reasons hereafter to be mentioned.

This State of Salvability, which Mankind are by me supposed to be in, has its Rise and Foundation, as I have said, in the Price of Redemption paid for them, by their grant Savior; and that this was of sufficient Value to save the whole World I here take for granted. That it was a Price laid down for all, without Exception; and, according to the Tenor of the New Covenant, applicable to any one, and to every one of the sinful Children of Men, I suppose to be a Truth clearly revealed in the Word of God; and that the Reason why it is not so generally believed so to be, is not because it is not sufficiently asserted in Scripture, but because many have, without sufficient Grounds, supposed that a Belief of this cannot be reconciled to some other Articles of Faith, which they think clearly and fully revealed: But this I shall have Occasion hereafter to confider. 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), 40-42.  [Some spelling modernized; underlining mine.]

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. May 22, 2009 10:17 am

    I’m confused by your quoting Experience Mayhew. Didn’t he write a tract on grace defending free will against Calvinism? Is there a place on your website where your website is clearly defined?

  2. CalvinandCalvinism permalink*
    May 22, 2009 11:20 am

    Hey Jeff,

    I like your blog, btw.

    Before I started reading Mayhew I did a google search to find some biographical material on him. One of the secondary sources online made comment that he challenged the Calvinist doctrine by advocating some form of free will. That comment is misleading.

    I’ve now read all of the work except for about 20 pages.

    Firstly, Mayhew consistently affirms total depravity.

    Secondly, what Mayhew does seek to establish is the older distinction between moral and natural ability. This distinction was affirmed by men like Edwards, Fuller and others.

    Total depravity does not mean man has no natural ability to believe, but that he has no moral ability. Regeneration does not add or repair faculties, properly speaking. All men have the hard-ware to believe, but the problem is with the soft-ware: the moral nature.

    Mayhew seeks to correct some lop-sided presentations which may imply that man has no natural ability, as if he is a stone or tree.

    The other thing to keep in mind, from Thomas Aquinas down to Turretin and beyond, there is the standard distinction between liberty of indifference and liberty of spontaneity. Mayhew, without using those terms for sure, affirms the latter, but denies the former. For more on this distinction, scope out the standards essays by Turretin and others.

    Lastly, you might consider reading his key work for yourself.

    I hope that helps. Thanks for stopping by.

    Take care,
    David

  3. May 23, 2009 4:32 pm

    David,
    Thanks for taking the time to educate me. I certainly like what you say about the distinction between natural and moral ability. It is self-evident to me that I do will; but willing or wanting to be saved does not mean I have the power to do so.

    Thank you for your recommendations. I will follow up. I am sure I will be back here with more questions, because I want to make sure I thoroughly understand this issue.

  4. CalvinandCalvinism permalink*
    May 23, 2009 6:24 pm

    Hey Jeff,

    Thanks for stopping by. On the point about “willing or wanting to be saved does not mean I have the power to do so,” I am sure Mayhew would agree with you. I think he would say, though, that some may “desire” to be saved, for fear of wrath, driven by terror and so forth. I think this is biblical. Many “desire” salvation but its a salvation on their own terms, and without true faith in Christ with repentance. This is the basis of false religiosity, legalism, cults and so forth.

    What Mayhew is saying is that if we speak in terms of natural capacity, the faculty of the will is functioning, but the moral nature cripples it. I probably have not worded it as best as I could though.

    Please come by again and feel free to ask questions.

    Thanks,
    David

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