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Death of Death in the Death of Christ
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Chapter X.

Of the merit of Christ, with arguments from thence.

Arg. XIV. A fourth thing ascribed to the death of Christ is merit, or that worth and value of his death whereby he purchased and procured unto us, and for us, all those good things which we find in the Scripture for his death to be bestowed upon us. Of this, much I shall not speak, having considered the thing itself under the notion of impetration already; only, I shall add some few observations proper to that particular of the controversy which we have in hand. The word merit is not at all to be found in the New Testament, in no translation out of the original that I have seen. The vulgar Latin once reads promeretur, Heb. xiii. 16; and the Rheimists, to preserve the sound, have rendered it promerited. But these words in both languages are uncouth and barbarous, besides that they no way answer εὐαρεστεῖται, the word in the original, which gives no colour to merit, name or thing. Nay, I suppose it will prove a difficult thing to find out any one word, in either of the languages wherein the holy Scripture was written, that doth properly and immediately, in its first native importance, signify merit. So that about the name we shall not trouble ourselves, if the thing itself intended thereby be made apparent, which it is both in the Old and New Testament; as Isa. liii. 5, “The chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed.” The procurement of our peace and healing, was the merit of his chastisement and stripes. So Heb. ix. 12, Διὰ τοῦ ἰδίου αἵματος αἰωνίαν λύτρωσιν εὑράμενος, “Obtaining by his blood eternal redemption,” is as much as we intend to signify by the merit of Christ. The word which comes nearest it in signification we have, Acts xx. 28, Περιεποιήσατο, “Purchased with his own blood;” purchase and impetration, merit and acquisition, being in this business terms equivalent; which latter word is used in divers other places, as 1 Thess. v. 9; Eph. i. 14; 1 Pet. ii. 9. Now, that which by this name we understand is, the performance of such an action as whereby the thing aimed at by the agent is due unto him, according to the equity and equality required in justice; as, “To him that worketh, is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt,” Rom. iv. 4. That there is such a merit attending the death of Christ is apparent from what was said before; neither is the weight of any operose proving [of] it imposed on us, by our adversaries seeming to acknowledge it no less themselves; so that we may take it for granted (until our adversaries close with the Socinians in this also).

Christ then, by his death, did merit and purchase, for all those for whom he died, all those things which in the Scripture are assigned to be the fruits and effects of his death. These are the things purchased and merited by his blood-shedding, and death; which may be referred unto two heads:— First, Such as are privative; as, — 1. Deliverance from the hand of our enemies, Luke i. 74; from the wrath to come, 1 Thess. i. 10. 2. The destruction and abolition of death in his power, Heb. ii. 14; 3. Of the works of the devil, 1 John iii. 8. 4. Deliverance from the curse of the law, Gal. iii. 13; 5. From our vain conversation, 1 Pet. i. 18; 6. From the present evil world, Gal. i. 4; 7. From the earth, and from among men, Rev. xiv. 3, 4. 8. Purging of our sins, Heb. i. 3, Secondly, Positive; as, — 1. Reconciliation with God, Rom. v. 10; Eph. ii. 16; Col. i. 20. 2. Appeasing or atoning of God by propitiation, Rom. iii. 25; 1 John ii. 2. 3. Peacemaking, Eph. ii. 14. 4. Salvation, Matt. i. 21. All these hath our Saviour by his death merited and purchased for all them for whom he died; that is, so procured them of his Father that they ought, in respect of that merit, according to the equity of justice, to be bestowed on them for whom they were so purchased and procured. It was absolutely of free grace in God that he would send Jesus Christ to die for any; it was of free grace for whom he would send him to die; it is of free grace that the good things procured by his death be bestowed on any person, in respect of those persons on whom they are bestowed: but considering his own appointment and constitution, that Jesus Christ by his death should merit and procure grace and glory for those for whom he died, it is of debt in respect of Christ that they be communicated to them. Now, that which is thus merited, which is of debt to be bestowed, we do not say that it may be bestowed, but it ought so to be, and it is injustice if it be not.

Having said this little of the nature of merit, and of the merit of Christ, the procurement of his death for them in whose stead he died, it will quickly be apparent how irreconcilable the general ransom is therewith; for the demonstration whereof we need no more but the proposing of this one question, — namely, If Christ hath merited grace and glory for all those for whom he died, if he died for all, how comes it to pass that these things are not communicated to and bestowed upon all? Is the defect in the merit of Christ, or in the justice of God? How vain it is to except, that these things are not bestowed absolutely upon us, but upon condition, and therefore were so procured; seeing, that the very condition itself is also merited and procured, as Eph. i. 3, 4, Phil. i. 29, — hath been already declared.

Arg. XV. Fifthly, The very phrases of “dying for us,” “bearing our sins,” being our “surety,” and the like, whereby the death of Christ for us is expressed, will not stand with the payment of a ransom for all. To die for another is, in Scripture, to die in that other’s stead, that he might go free; as Judah besought his brother Joseph to accept of him for a bondman instead of Benjamin, that he might be set at liberty, Gen. xliv. 33, and that to make good the engagement wherein he stood bound to his father to be a surety for him. He that is surety for another (as Christ was for us, Heb. vii. 22), is to undergo the danger, that the other may be delivered. So David, wishing that he had died for his son Absalom, 2 Sam. xviii. 33, intended, doubtless, a commutation with him, and a substitution of his life for his, so that he might have lived. Paul also, Rom. v. 7, intimates the same, supposing that such a thing might be found among men that one should die for another; no doubt alluding to the Decii, Menœceus, Euryalus, and such others, whom we find mentioned in the stories of the heathen, who voluntarily cast themselves into death for the deliverance of their country or friends, continuing their liberty and freedom from death who were to undergo it, by taking it upon themselves, to whom it was not directly due. And this plainly is the meaning of that phrase, “Christ died for us;” that is, in the undergoing of death there was a subrogation of his person in the room and stead of ours. Some, indeed, except that where the word ὑπέρ is used in this phrase, as Heb. ii. 9, “That he by the grace of God should taste death for every man,” there only the good and profit of them for whom he died is intended, not enforcing the necessity of any commutation. But why this exception should prevail I see no reason, for the same preposition being used in the like kind in other cases doth confessedly intimate a commutation; as Rom. ix. 3, where Paul affirms that he “could wish himself accursed from Christ ὑπὲρ τῶν αδελφῶν,” — “for his brethren,” — that is, in their stead, that they might be united to him. So also, 2 Cor. v. 20, Ὑπὲρ Χριστοῦ πρεσβεύομεν, “We are ambassadors in Christ’s stead.” So the same apostle, 1 Cor. i. 13, asking, and strongly denying by way of interrogation, Μὴ Παῦλος ἐσταυρώθη ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν; “Was Paul crucified for you?” plainly showeth that the word ὑπέρ, used about the crucifying of Christ for his church, doth argue a commutation or change, and not only designs the good of them for whom he died; for, plainly, he might himself have been crucified for the good of the church; but in the stead thereof, he abhorreth the least thought of it. But concerning the word ἀντί, which also is used, there is no doubt, nor can any exception be made; it always signifieth a commutation and change, whether it be applied to things or persons: so Luke xi. 11, Ὄφις ἀντὶ ἰχθύος, “A serpent instead of a fish;” so Matt. v. 38, Ὀφθαλμὸς ἀντὶ ὀφθαλμοῦ “An eye for an eye;” so Heb. xii. 16; — and for persons, Archelaus is said to reign ἀντὶ Ἡρώδου τοῦ πατρός, “instead of his father,” Matt. ii. 22. Now, this word is used of the death of our Saviour, Matt. xx. 28, “The Son of man came δοῦναι τὴν ψυχὴν αὑτοῦ λύτρον ἀντὶ πολλῶν,” — which words are repeated again, Mark x. 45, — that is, to give his life a ransom in the stead of the lives of many. So that, plainly, Christ dying for us, as a surety, Heb. vii. 22, and thereby and therein “bearing our sins in his own body,” 1 Pet. ii. 24, being made a curse for us, was an undergoing of death, punishment, curse, wrath, not only for our good, but directly in our stead; a commutation and subrogation of his person in the room and place of ours being allowed, and of God accepted. This being cleared, I demand, — First, Whether Christ died thus for all? that is, whether he died in the room and stead of all, so that his person was substituted in the room of theirs? as, whether he died in the stead of Cain and Pharaoh, and the rest, who long before his death were under the power of the second death, never to be delivered? Secondly, Whether it be justice that those, or any of them, in whose stead Christ died, bearing their iniquities, should themselves also die and bear their own sins to eternity? Thirdly, What rule of equity is there, or example for it, that when the surety hath answered and made satisfaction to the utmost of what was required in the obligation wherein he was a surety, they for whom he was a surety should afterwards be proceeded against? Fourthly, Whether Christ hung upon the cross in the room or stead of reprobates? Fifthly, Whether he underwent all that which was due unto them for whom he died? If not, how could he be said to die in their stead? If so, why are they not all delivered? I shall add no more but this, that to affirm Christ to die for all men is the readiest way to prove that he died for no man, in the sense Christians have hitherto believed, and to hurry poor souls into the bottom of Socinian blasphemies.

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