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John Owen (1616-1683) on Christ Suffering the Idem, Not the Tantundem of the Law’s Punishment

June 17, 2009

[Introductory notes: The following are selections from Owen on whether or not Christ suffered the idem or the tantundem of the law’s curse against sin and sinners. A few things to keep in mind. 1), as I read Owen, he concedes that it is not the case that Grotius believed that Christ’s suffering were of lesser value, contrary to our current popular myth regarding Grotius. 2), Note that, Owenwraps his response to Baxter’s counters to Owen, around the charge that if Christ suffered the tantundem of the law’s curse, his suffering was of lesser value, which God freely accepted. I am not convinced that Baxter means this. 3) Owen rightly believes that the law’s demands are relaxed in this sense: that another person is allowed to make a payment on behalf of third party transgressors. 4) Owen clearly believes that Christ suffered the same exact idem of the law’s demands that stands against (elect) sinners, whereas the Reformed position was that this was not so, but that Christ suffered the tantundem, an equivalent of equal or more value (not lesser), of the law’s demands. 5) Owen argues this because he saw that the punishment of death, itself, the essential satisfaction of the law. The duration of death is an accidental property of legal satisfaction. That is, how long one is kept in death is not essential. The consequences of this would be that eternal punishment is not an essential demand of the law against sin, but that merely physical death is. For the Reformed, however, eternal punishment is part of the essential requirement for the satisfaction of the law against sin, as eternal punishment has the equivalency of an “infinite” value corresponding with the infinite value of the demerit of sin. Christ, being an infinite person, thereby properly equals the value of infinite demerit. Owen, reacting to the Socinian claim that Christ suffered a lesser satisfaction than the law would demand from sinners, over-reacts by positing that Christ suffered the very idem of the law’s demands against sinners, namely mere death itself. In this Owen is moving away from Reformed theology and laying down the foundation for later Crispian ideas that Christ suffered so much for so much sin, and which began to see the satisfaction as having an exact mathematical (and/or pecuniary) correspondence. These ideas were later picked up by some Welsh hypercalvinist Baptists (See Owen Thomas, The Atonement Controversy: In Welsh Theological Literature and Debate, 1707-1841), later hypercalvinists  (W.J. Styles), and even by John L. Dagg. 6) In traditional Anselmian Christology, only an infinite and sinless person can satisfy divine justice, yet given Owen’s assumptions here, I am not sure how he would defend the possible counter that on his model, only a sinless person is needed to satisfy divine justice. 7) Lastly, the following is not for the faint hearted.]


1) Now from all this, thus much (to clear up the nature of the satisfaction made by Christ) appears,–namely, It was a full, valuable compensation, made to the justice of God, for all the sins of all those for whom he made satisfaction, by undergoing that same punishment which, by reason of the obligation that was upon them, they themselves were bound to undergo. When I say the same, I mean essentially the same in weight and pressure, though not in all accidents of duration and the like; for it was impossible that he should be detained by death. Now, whether this will stand in the justice of God, that any of these should perish eternally for whom Jesus Christ made so full, perfect, and complete satisfaction, we shall presently inquire; and this is the first thing that we are to consider in this business. John Owen, “Death of Death,” in Works 10:269-270.

2) MR BAXTER having composed his Aphorisms of Justification, with their explications, before the publishing of them in print, he communicated them (as should appear) to some of his near acquaintance. Unto some things in them contained one of his said friends gives in some exceptions. Amongst other things he opposed unto those aphorisms, he also points at my contrary judgment in one or two particulars, with my reasons produced for the confirmation thereof. This provokes their learned author (though unwilling) to turn aside to the consideration of those reasons. Now, the first of those particulars being about the payment made for sin in the blood of Christ, of what sort and kind it is, I shall willingly carry on the inquiry to this farther issue, whereunto I am drawn out.

1. He looks upon the stating of the question as I professedly laid it down at my entrance into that disputation, and declares that it is nothing at all to the question he hath in hand, nor looking that way. “He distinguisheth,” saith Mr Baxter,” betwixt paying the very thing that is in the obligation and paying so much in another kind; now, this is not our question, nor any thing to it,” Append. p. 137. If it be so, I know no reason why I was plucked into the following dispute, nor why Mr Baxter should cast away so many pages of his book upon that which is nothing at all to the business he had in hand. But though there be nothing to this purpose, p. 137 [265] of my book, the place he was sent to, yet, p. 140 [267], there is, as also something contrary to what is expressed in the former place, which he intimates in these words:–“In p. 140 [267] he states the question far otherwise, and yet supposes it the same, namely,–Whether Christ paid the idem or the tantundem? which he interprets thus, ‘That which is not the same, nor equivalent unto it, but only in the gracious acceptation of the creditor.’ Now, what he means by ‘not equivalent’ I cannot tell.

If he mean, not of equal value, then he fights with a shadow. He wrongs Grotius, for aught I can find in him, who teaches no such doctrine. However, I do not so use to English solutio tantidem. But if he mean, that it is not equivalent in procuring its end ipso facto, delivering the debtor, without the intervention of a new concession or contract of the creditor, as solutio ejusdem doth, then I confess Grotius is against him, and so am I.

“So, also, God’s gracious acceptance is either in accepting less in value than was due, and so remitting the rest without payment (this I plead not for); or else it is his accepting a refusable payment, which, though equal in value, yet he may choose to accept according to the tenor of the obligation. This is gracious acceptance, which Grotius maintains, and so do I; and so distinguish betwixt solutio and satisfactio, ‘payment’ and ‘satisfaction.’”

Thus far he.

Sundry things are here imagined and asserted:–

First, Several passages are pointed at in my treatise, and a contradiction between them intimated. Secondly, Various conjectures given at my plain, very plain meaning, and divers things objected answerable to those conjectures, etc.

Wherefore, to clear the whole, I shall,–

1. Give you in the passages opposed; and,

2. Vindicate them from mutual opposition, with what is besides charged on them.

The first place mentioned in my treatise is in p. 137 [265], where, after I had discoursed of the nature of satisfaction, in reference both unto things real and personal, I laid down a distinction in these words:–“There may be a twofold satisfaction,–First, By a solution or payment of the very thing that is in the obligation, either by the party himself who is bound, or by some other in his stead; as, if I owe a man twenty pounds, and my friend goeth and payeth it, my creditor is fully satisfied. Secondly, By a solution or paying of so much, although in another kind, not the same that is in the obligation, which by the creditor’s acceptation stands in lieu of it; upon which also freedom followeth from the obligation, by virtue of an act of favor.”

What now says Mr B. to this? Why, “it is nothing to the business he hath in hand.”

Let then this pass, and look to the next passage which is opposed, and supposed to stand in opposition to the other.

Having laid down the former distinction, passing on to some other things concerning the nature of satisfaction, and the establishment of that of Christ from the Scripture, in p. 140 [267], I apply that distinction laid down before in general to the kind of satisfaction made by Christ, in these words:–

“Whereas I said that there is a twofold satisfaction whereby the debtor is freed from the obligation that is upon him,–the one being solutio ejusdem, payment of the same thing that was in the obligation; the other solutio tantidem, of that which is not the same, nor equivalent unto it, but only in the gracious acceptation of the creditor,–it is worth our inquiry which of these it was that our Savior did perform.”

And accordingly I refer it to the first.

“This,” saith Mr B., “is a stating of the question far otherwise than before, yet supposing it the same.”

But this I was so far from once mistrusting before, as that, being informed of it, I cannot as yet apprehend it to be so.

In p. 137 [265] I lay down a distinction in general about the several kinds of satisfaction, which, p. 140 [267], I plainly apply to the satisfaction of Christ, without any new, much less changed stating of the question. My whole aim, in that inquiry, was to search out that kind of punishment which Christ underwent in making satisfaction for sin,–namely, “Whether it were the same that was threatened to the transgressors themselves, or whether something else which God accepted in lieu thereof, relaxing the law not only as to the person suffering, but also as to the penalty to be undergone?”

The first of these, and that with the concurrent suffrage of fax the greatest number of protestant divines, I assert with sundry arguments, pp. 141,142, etc., 154-156 [268, etc., 280-282]. Unto which assertion he neither opposes himself nor once attempts to answer any of the arguments whereby I proved it. This being my intendment, p. 137 [285], I intimate that Christ paid the same thing that was in the obligation; as if, in things real, a friend should pay twenty pounds for him that owed so much, and not any thing in another kind. And p. 140 [267], I affirm that he paid idem, that is, the same thing that was in the obligation, and not tantundem, something equivalent thereunto, in another kind.

“The first of these is nothing to our purpose,” saith Mr B., “but the latter crossing the former.”

But truly, such is my dulness, I cannot as vet be won to his mind herein. But I agree with myself; perhaps I do not with the truth. That description of solutio tantidem, namely, that it is a payment of that which is not the same, nor equivalent unto it, but only in the gracious acceptation of the creditor, is peculiarly opposed.

To make this expression obnoxious to an exception, Mr B. divides it, that so it may be entangled with a fallacy, para ton pleion epoterematon. And, first, he asks as before what I mean by not equivalent; and hereunto supposing two answers, to the first he opposeth a shadow, to the latter himself.

First, “If,” saith he, “by not equivalent, you mean not of equal value, you fight with a shadow, and wrong Grotius. However, I do not use so to English solutio tantidem.”

By not equivalent, I mean that which is not of equal value, or certainly I mistook the word; and if so, had need enough to have gone to Mr B., or some other learned man, to have learned to English solutio tantidem. But do I not; then, fight with a shadow? Truly, cut my words thus off in the middle of their sense, and they will be found fit to cope with no other adversary; but take them as they lie, and as intended, and there is scarce any shadow of opposition to them cast by Mr B. passing by. My words are, “It is not equivalent, but only in the gracious acceptation of the creditor.” Is not this the plain meaning, of these words, that tantundem in satisfaction is not equivalent to idem aplos, but only kata ti? What is denied of it absolutely is affirmed in some respect, lie that says it is not equivalent but only in gracious acceptation, in that sense affirms it to be equivalent, and that it is in respect of that sense that the thing so called is said to be tantundem, that is, equivalent. Now, what excepts Mr B. hereunto? Doth he assert tantundem to be in this matter equivalent unto idem aplos? It is the very thing he opposes all along, maintaining that solutio tantidem stands in need of gracious acceptance, ejusdem of none; and, therefore, they are not as to their end aplos, equivalent. Or will he deny it to be equivalent in God’s gracious acceptance? This he also contendeth for himself: “Though refusable, yet equivalent.” What, then, is my crime?

I wrong Grotius ! Wherein? In imposing on him that he should say, “It was not of equal value to the idem that Christ paid.” Not one such word in any of the places mentioned. I say, Grotius maintains that the satisfaction of Christ was solutio tantidem. Will you deny it? Is it not his main endeavor to prove it so? Again; tantundem, I say, is not in this case equivalent to idem aplos, but only kata ti. Doth not Mr B. labor to prove the same? Where, then, is the difference? Were it not for Ignoratio elenchi in the bottom, and Fallacia plurium interrogationum at the top, this discourse would have been very empty.

Secondly, But he casts my words into another frame, to give their sense another appearance, and saith,–

“If you mean that it is not equivalent in procuring its end ipso facto, delivering the debtor without the intervention of a new concession or contract of the creditor, as solutio ejusdem doth, then I confess Grotius is against you, and so am I.”

Of Grotius I shall speak afterward; for the present I apply myself to Mr B., and say,–

1. If he intend to oppose himself to any thing I handle and assert in the place he considereth, he doth, by this query, plainly metazainein eis to alla genes, and that from a second inadvertency of the argument in hand. It is of the nature of the penalty undergone, and not of the efficacy of the satisfaction made thereby, that I there dispute.

2. I conceive that in this interrogation and answer he wholly gives up the cause that he pretends to plead, and joins with me, as he conceives my sense to be, against Grotius and himself. “If,” saith he, “he mean that it is not equivalent in procuring its end ipso facto, without the intervention of a new concession or contract, as solutio ejusdem doth, then I am against him.” Well, then, Mr B. maintains that solutio tantidem is equivalent with solutio ejusdem in obtaining its end ipso facto; for, saith he, if I say it is not equivalent, he is against son onar soi dinoumai. But is this his mind indeed? Will his words bear any other sense?

3. Whether tantundem and idem, in the way of satisfaction, be equivalent to the obtaining the end ipso facto aimed at, which he here asserts, though elsewhere constantly denies,–couching in this distinction the proton pseudos of a great part of his discourse,–certainly it is nothing at all to the question I there agitated, maintaining that it was idem, and not tantundem, that Christ paid, and so the end of it obtained ipso facto answerable to the kind of the efficacy and procurement thereof. But perhaps I do not conceive his mind aright; peradventure his mind is, that if I do maintain the satisfaction of Christ to procure the end aimed at, ipso facto, as solutio ejusdem would have done, then to profess himself my adversary.

But perhaps I do not conceive his mind aright; peradventure his mind is, that if I do maintain the satisfaction of Christ to procure the end aimed at, ipso facto, as solutio ejusdem would have done, then to profess himself my adversary. But,–

1. This is not here expressed nor intimated.

2. It is nothing at all to me who place the matter of the satisfaction of Christ in solutione ejusdem.

3. About the end of satisfaction in the place opposed I speak not, but only of the nature of the penalty undergone, whereby it was made.

4. To the thing itself, I desire to inquire, —

(1.) What Mr B. intends by solutio ejusdem in the business in hand? Doth he not maintain it to be the offender’s own undergoing the penalty of the law? What end, I pray, doth this obtain ipso facto? Can it be any other but the glory of God’s justice in the everlasting destruction of the creature? How, then, can it possibly be supposed to attain the end spoken of ipso facto? If this be the only meaning of solutio ejusdem, in this sense, the end of it is distant from the end of satisfaction os euranon est apr gaias. By the laying the penalty on Christ, that God intended the freedom of those for whom he underwent that penalty, I suppose cannot be doubted; but in inflicting it on the offenders themselves, that he hath any such aim, wants an Origen to assert.

(2.) Whether the penalty due to one may not be undergone by another? and if so, whether it be not the same penalty, the idem, or no? In things real I gave an instance before. If a man pay twenty pounds for another who owed it, doth not he pay the idem in the obligation? And may not this hold in things personal also? Of the satisfaction of Christ procuring its end ipso facto, I mean in its own kind,–for the death of Christ must be considered as meritorious as well as satisfactory, if the deliverance be attended as the end of it,–I shall speak afterward in its proper place. The present controversy is no more but this:–

Whether Christ underwent the penalty threatened unto us, or some other thing accepted instead thereof, by a new constitution? or, which is all one, whether, in laying our iniquities upon Christ, the law of God was relaxed only as to the persons suffering, or also as to the penalty suffered? that is, whether Christ paid the idem in the obligation, or tantundem? To suppose that the idem of the obligation is not only the penalty itself, but also the offender’s own suffering that penalty, and then to inquire whether Christ underwent the idem, is to cause an easy enemy to triumph in his dejection.

That the law was relaxed as to the person suffering, I positively assert; but as to the penalty itself, that is not mentioned. Of these two things alone, then, must be our inquiry:–

1. Whether Christ, in making satisfaction, underwent that penalty that was threatened to the offenders themselves?

2. Whether the penalty, though undergone by another, be not the idem of the obligation? Of both these, after the clearing of the residue of Mr Baxter’s exceptions. Nextly, he requires what I intend by “gracious acceptance,” or rather giveth in his own sense of it in these words, pp. 138,139 [266, 267]:–

“So also God’s gracious acceptance is either his accepting less in value than was due, and so remitting the rest without payment. This I plead not for. Or else it is his accepting of a refusable payment, which, though equal in value, yet he may choose to accept according to the tenor of the obligation. This is gracious acceptance, which Grotius maintaineth, and so do I.” Thus far he.

Now, neither is this any more to the business I have in hand; for,–

1. The value of any satisfaction in this business ariseth not from the innate worth of the things whereby it is made, but purely from God’s free constitution of them to such an end. A distinction cannot be allowed of more or less value in the things appointed of God for the same end; all their value ariseth merely from that appointment; they have so much as he ascribes to them, and no more. Now, neither idem nor tantundem is here satisfactory, but by virtue of divine constitution. Only, in tantundem I require a peculiar acceptance, to make it equivalent to idem in this buslness,–that is, as to satisfaction; or, if you please, an acceptance of that which is not idem, to make it tantundem. So that this gracious acceptance is not an accepting of that which is less in value than what is in the obligation, but a free constitution appointing another thing to the end, which before was not appointed.

2. He supposes me (if in so many mistakes of his I mistake him not) to deny all gracious acceptance where the idem is paid; [which], in the present case, is to assert it necessary, because not paid per eundem; yea, and that other person not procured by the debtor, but graciously assigned by the creditor.

3. To make up his gracious acceptance in this latter sense, he distinguishes of payments refusable and not refusable: in the application of which distinction unto the payment made by Christ I cannot close with him; for a payment is refusable either absolutely and in itself, or upon supposal. The death of Christ, considered absolutely and in itself, may be said to be refusable as to be made a payment,–not a refusable payment; and that not because not refusable, but because not a payment. Nothing can possibly tend to the procurement and compassing of any end, by the way of payment, with the Lord, but what is built upon some free compact, promise, or obligation of his own. But now consider it as an issue flowing from divine constitution making it a payment, and so it was no way refusable as to the compassing of the end appointed. Thus, also, as to the obligation of the law for the fulfilling thereof, it was refusable in respect of the person paying, not in respect of the payment made. That former respect being also taken off by divine constitution, and relaxation of the law as to that, it becomes wholly unrefusable,–tthat is, as it was paid, it was so; for satisfaction was made thereby, upon the former supposals of constitution and relaxation.

4. Doth not Mr B. suppose that in the very tenor of the obligation there is required a solution, tending to the same end as satisfaction doth? Nay, is not that azlepsia the proton pseudos of this discourse? Deliverance is the aim of satisfaction, which receives its spring and being from the constitution thereof; but is there any such thing as deliverance once aimed at or intended in the tenor of the obligation? I suppose no.

5. :Neither is the distinction of solutio and satisfactio, which Mr B. closes withal, of any weight in this business, unless it would hold olos kai pantos. which it will not, and so is of no use here; for,–

(1.) There is solutio tantidem as well as ejusdem, and therein consists satisfaction, according to Mr B.

(2.) Whether satisfaction be inconsistent with solutio ejusdem, but not per eundem, is the to chrinomenon. After all this Mr B. adds,—

“Yet here Mr Owen enters the list with Grotius.”

Where, I pray? I might very justly make inquiry, from the beginning to the ending of this discourse, to find out what it is that this word “here” particularly answers unto. But to avoid as much as possible all strife of words, I desire the reader to view the controversy agitated between Grotius and myself, not as here represented by Mr Baxter, so changed by a new dress that I might justly refuse to take any acquaintance with it, but as by myself laid down in the places excepted against, and he will quickly find it to be,–

1. Not whether the law were at all relaxed, but whether it were relaxed as well in respect of the penalty to be suffered as of the person suffering; that is, whether God be only a rector, or a rector and creditor also, in this business. Which controversy, by the way, is so confusedly proposed, or rather strangely handled by Mr B., p. 145, where he adjudges me in a successless assault of Grotius, as makes it evident he never once perused it.

2. Nor, secondly, whether there be any need of God’s gracious acceptance in this business or no; for I assert it necessary, as before described, in reference to solutio ejusdem, sed non per eundem.

3. Neither, thirdly, whether the satisfaction of Christ, considered absolutely, and in statu diviso, and materially, be refusable, which I considered not; or be unrefusable, supposing the divine constitution which Grotius, as I take it, delivered not himself in. Nor,–

4. About the value of the payment of Christ in reference to acceptance; but merely, as I said before, whether the Lord, appointing an end of deliverance neither intimated nor couched in the obligation nor any of its attendancies, constituting a way for the attainment of that end by receiving satisfaction to the obligation, did appoint that the thing in the obligation should be paid, though by another, or else some new thing, that of itself and by itself never was in the obligation, either before or after its solution; as the payment made by Christ must be granted such, unless it were for substance the same which the law required. And here, with most divines, I maintain the first,–namely, That the law was relaxed in respect of the person suffering, but executed in respect of the penalty suffered. Relaxation and execution are not in this business opposed aplos, but only kata ti.

He that would see this farther affirmed may consult what I wrote of it in the place opposed; which is not once moved by any thing here spoken to the contrary.

By the way observe, I speak only of the penalty of the law, and the passive righteousness of Christ, strictly so called. For his active righteousness, or obedience to the law (though he did many things we were not obliged unto, for the manifestation of himself, and confirmation of the doctrine of the gospel), that it was the very idem of us required, I suppose none can doubt. What place that active righteousness of Christ hath, or what is its use in our justification, I do not now inquire, being unwilling to immix myself unnecessarily in any controversy; though I cannot but suppose that Mr B.’s discourse hereabouts gives advantage enough even minorum gentium theologis, “to ordinary divines,” as he calls them, to deal with him in it. John Owen, “Death of Christ,” in Works 10:437-442.

3) The arguments of Grotius, and their defence by Mr Baxter, about the penalty undergone by Christ in making satisfaction considered.

The state of the question in hand being as above laid down, let us now see what Mr Baxter’s judgment is of my success in that undertaking, concerning which he thus delivers himself: “Yet here Mr Owen enters the list with Grotius.” And,–First, “He overlooks his greatest arguments.” Secondly, “He slightly answers only two.” Thirdly, “And when he hath done, he saith as Grotius doth, and yields the whole cause. These three, things I will make appear in order,” Appendix, p. 139. A most unhappy issue as can possibly be imagined, made up of deceit, weakness, and self-contradiction! But how is all this proved? To make the first thing appear, he produces the argument overlooked. “The chief argument of Grotius and Vossius,” saith he, “is drawn from the tenor of the obligation and from the event. The obligation charges punishment on the offender himself. It saith, ‘In the day thou eats, thou shalt die;’ and, ‘Cursed is every one that continues not in all things,’ etc. Now, if the same in the obligation be paid, then the law is executed, and not relaxed, and then every sinner must die himself; for that is the idem and very thing threatened: so that here dum alius solvit, simul aliud solvitur. The law threatened not Christ, but us (besides that Christ suffered not the loss of God’s love, nor his image and graces, nor eternity of torment; of which I have spoken in the treatise.) What saith Mr Owen to any of this?” Let the reader observe what it is we have in hand. It is not the main of the controversy debated by Grotius wherein I do oppose him, neither yet all in that particular whereabout the opposition is. Now suppose, as he doth, that the punishing of the person offending is in the obligation, yet I cannot but conceive that there be two distinct things here,–first, The constitution of the penalty itself to be undergone; secondly, The terminating of this penalty upon the person offending. For this latter I assert a relaxation of the law; which might be done and yet the penalty itself in reference to its constitution be established. In those places, then, ‘In the day thou eats,’ etc., there is death and the curse appointed for the penalty, and the person offending appointed for the sufferer. That the law is relaxed in the latter I grant. That the former was executed on Christ I prove. Now, what says this argument to the contrary? “If the same in the obligation be paid, then the law is executed, not relaxed, and then every sinner must die himself; for that is the idem and very thing threatened: so that here dum alias solvit, aliud solvitur.”

1. The matter of the obligation having a double consideration, as before, it may be both executed and relaxed in sundry respects.

2. The idem and very thing threatened in the constitution of the law is death. The terminating of that penalty to the person offending was in the commination, and had it not been relaxed, must have been in the execution; but in the constitution of the obligation, which respects purely the kind of penalty, primarily it was not. “Death is the reward of sin,” is all that is there.

3. We inquire not about payment, but suffering. To make that suffering a payment supposes another constitution, by virtue whereof Christ suffering the same that was threatened, it became another thing in payment than it would have been if the person offending had suffered himself.

4. That the law threatened not Christ but us is most true; but the question is, whether Christ underwent not the threatening of the law, not we? A commutation of persons is allowed, Christ undergoing the penalty of the offense; though he were not the person offending, I cannot but still suppose that he paid the idem of the obligation.

5. For the parenthesis about Christ’s not suffering the loss of God’s love, etc., and the like objections, they have been answered near a thousand times already, and that by “no ordinary divines” neither; so that I shall not farther trouble any therewith.

Now, this is the argument, the great, chief argument, of Grotius and Vossius, which Mr Baxter affirms I overlooked.

That I did not express it I easily grant, neither will I so wrong the ingenuous reader as to make any long apology for my omission of it, considering the state of the matter in difference as before proposed. When Mr B. or any man else shall be able to draw out any conclusion from thence, “That, granting the relaxation of the law as to the persons suffering, the Lord Christ did not undergo the penalty constituted therein;” or that, “Undergoing the very penalty appointed, he did not pay the idem in the obligation” (supposing a new constitution for the converting of suffering into a satisfactory payment), I shall then give a reason why I considered it not. . John Owen, “Death of Christ,” in Works 10:442-444.

4) My second answer to that objection I gave in these words:–

2. “That remission, grace, and pardon, which is in God for sinners, is not opposed to Christ’s merits and satisfaction, but ours. He pardoneth all to us, but he spared not his only Son; he bated him not one farthing.”

To this Mr B., thus expressing it, “But it is of grace to us, though not to Christ,” answers, “Doth not that clearly intimate that Christ was not in the obligation, that the law doth threaten every man personally, or else it had been no favor to accept it of another?” (1.) It is marvelous to me, that a learned man should voluntarily choose an adversary to himself, and yet consider the very leaves which he undertakes to confute with so much contempt or oscitancy as to labor to prove against him what he positively asserts terminis terminantibus. That Christ was not in the obligation, that he was put in as a surety by his own consent, God by his sovereignty dispensing with the law as to that, yet as a creditor exacting of him the due debt of the law, is the main intendment of the place Mr Baxter here considers.

(2.) Grant all that here is said, how doth it prove that Christ underwent not the very penalty of the law? Is it because he was not primarily in the obligation? He was put in as a surety, to be the object of its execution. Is it because the law doth threaten every man personally? Christ underwent really what was threatened to others, as shall be proved. But it is not then of favor to accept it. But this is the to krinomenon. And thus to set it down is but a petition tou en arche.

(3.) How doth this elude the force of my answer? I see it not at all.

After this I gave a third answer to the former objection, manifesting how the freedom of pardon may consist with Christ’s satisfaction, in these words:–

3. “The freedom, then, of pardon hath not its foundation in any defect of the merit or satisfaction of Christ, but in three other things:–

(1.) “The will of God freely appointing the satisfaction of Christ, John 3:16; Romans 5:8; 1 John 4:9.

(2.) “In a gracious acceptation of that decreed satisfaction in our steads; so many, no more.

(3.) “In a free application of the death of Christ unto us. Remission, then, excludes not a full satisfaction by the solution of the very thing in the obligation, but only the solution or satisfaction of him to whom pardon and remission is granted.” It being the freedom of pardon that is denied, upon the supposals of such a satisfaction as I assert, I demonstrate from whence that freedom doth accrue unto it, notwithstanding a supposal of such a satisfaction: not that pardon consists in the three things there recounted, but that it hath its freedom from them; that is, supposing those three things, notwithstanding the intervention of payment made by Christ, it cannot be but remission of sin unto us be a free and gracious act. To all this Mr B. opposes divers things; for,–1. “Imputation of righteousness,” saith he, “is not any part of pardon, but a necessary antecedent.

2. “The same may be said of God’s acceptation.

3. “Its application is a large phrase, and may be meant of several acts, but of which here I know not.” In a word, this mistake is very great. I affirm the freedom of a pardon to depend on those things. He answereth that pardon doth not consist in these things. It is the freedom of pardon, whence it is,–not the nature of pardon, wherein it is, that we have under consideration.

“But,” saith he, “how can he call it a ‘gracious acceptation,’ a ‘gracious imputation,’ a ‘free application,’ if it were the same thing the law requires that was paid?

To pay all, according to the full exaction of the obligation, needs no favor to procure acceptance, imputation, or application. Can justice refuse to accept of such a payment? or can it require any more?”

1. Though I know not directly what it is he means by saying, “I call it,” yet I pass it over.

2. If all this were done by the persons themselves, or any one in their stead procured and appointed by themselves, then were there some difficulty in these questions; but this being otherwise, there is none at all, as hath been declared.

3. How the payment made by Christ was of grace, yet in respect of the obligation of the law needed no favor, nor was refusable by justice, supposing its free constitution, shall be afterward declared. To me the author seems not to have his wonted clearness in this whole section, which might administer occasion of farther inquiry and exceptions, but I forbear.

And thus much be spoken for the clearing and vindicating my answer to the arguments of Grotius against Christ’s paying the idem of the obligation. The next shall farther confirm the truth. John Owen, “Death of Christ,” in Works 10:445-446.

5) 4. The whole penalty of sin is death, Genesis 2:17. This Christ underwent for us: Hebrews 2:9, “He tasted death.” And to die for another is to undergo that death which that other should have undergone, 2 Samuel 18:33. It is true, this death may be considered either in respect of its essence (if I may be allowed so to speak), which is called the “pains of hell,” which Christ underwent, Psalm 116:3, 22:1, Luke 22:44; or of its attendancies, as duration and the like, which he could not undergo, Psalm 16:8-11, Acts 2:24-28. So that whereas eternal death may be considered two ways, either as such in potentia, and in its own nature, or as actually, so our Savior underwent it not in the latter, but first sense, Hebrews 2:9,14, which, by the dignity of his person, 1 Peter 3:18, Hebrews 9:26,28, Romans 5:10, which raises the estimation of punishment, is oequipotent to the other. There is a sameness in Christ’s sufferings with that in the obligation in respect of essence, and equivalency in respect of attendancies.

5. In the meeting of our iniquities upon Christ, Isaiah 53:6, and his being thereby made sin for us, 2 Corinthians 5:21, lay the very punishment of our sin, as to us threatened, upon him.

6. Consider the scriptural descriptions you have of his perpessions, and see if they do not plainly hold out the utmost that ever was threatened to sin. There is the chabburah, Isaiah 53:5; Peter’s molops, 1 Peter 2:24; the livor, vibex, “wound, stripe,” that in our stead was so on him,–that whereby we are healed. Those expressions of the condition of his soul in his sufferings, whereby he is said lupeisthai, Matthew 26:37; ekthaubeisthai, adnmonein, Mark 14:33; thromboi aimatos en te agoni,. Luke 22:44; sadness unto death, Matthew 26:38; that dreadful cry, “Why hast thou forsaken me?”–those cries out of the deep, and mighty supplications under his fear, Hebrews 5:7, that was upon him, do all make out that the bitterness of the death due to sin was fully upon his soul. Sum all his outward appearing pressures, mocks, scoffs, scorns, cross, wounds, death, etc., and what do some of their afflictions who have suffered for his name come short of it? And yet how far were they above those dreadful expressions of anguish which we find upon the “Fellow of the Lord of hosts,” the “Lion of the tribe of Judah,” who received not the Spirit by measure, but was anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows! Certainly his inconceivable sufferings were in another kind, and such as set no example to any of his to suffer in after him. It was no less than the weight of the wrath of God and the whole punishment due to sin that he wrestled under. Secondly, The second part of my position is to me confirmed by these and the like arguments. That there is a distinction to be allowed between the penalty and the person suffering is a common apprehension, especially when the nature of the penalty is only inquired after. If a man that had but one eye were censured to have an eye put out, and a dear friend, pitying his deplorable condition, knowing that by undergoing the punishing decreed he must be left to utter blindness, should, upon the allowance of commutation, as in Zaleucus’ case, submit to have one of his own eyes put out, and so satisfy the sentence given, though, by having two eyes, he avoid himself the misery that would have attended the other’s suffering, who had but one;–If, I say, in this case, any should ask whether he underwent the idem the other should have done, or tantundem, I suppose the answer would be easy. In things real, it is unquestionable; and in things personal I shall pursue it no farther, lest it should prove a strife of words. And thus far of the sufferings of Christ in a way of controversy. What follows will be more positive. John Owen, “Death of Christ,” in Works 10:448-9.


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