Rob Sturdy: What does it mean to be a “Reformed” Christian? (Part I)

20 12 2011

A good friend in Charleston recently asked the question “What does it mean to be Reformed?”  Being “reformed” is currently in vogue.  That is, it’s cool to be a Calvinist.  This growing trend which has been documented by the New York Times, Time Magazine, and U.S.A. Today has produced new interest in Reformed Christianity but it has also produced much confusion about what it means to be Reformed.  So it’s currently a hot topic worth addressing.

Second, to speak of “Reformed” Christians is to speak of the heritage of the Anglican Church, which both me and my friend who asked the question are part of.  Unfortunately, just as people from Idaho will pretend they’re from somewhere else when they move to a big city so have many Anglicans forgotten where they’ve come from.  The Anglican Church was born in the fires (literal) of the Protestant Reformation, of which the Church of England adopted a fairly strict Reformed (yes Calvinist!) approach to theology in its first 100 years.  Just as visiting with your quirky friend’s parents is always an “aha” moment, so too knowing where this church has come from should prove a revealing experience.

Through several posts in the coming weeks I hope to address this question in a way that brings clarity to the term.  This might appear to be solely an academic exercise, but it most assuredly is not.  The clergy at Trinity Church consider those doctrines known as “Reformed” to be closest to the heart of the scriptures and they inform every sermon, Bible study, prayer, and counselling session done by us at this church.  Perhaps more importantly, these doctrines have sunk deep into the well of our lives and affected us profoundly.  I hope in the coming weeks as I attempt to engage this question, not only will your heads grow larger with new knowledge but more importantly so would your hearts.  The Reformed Christian, if anything, is a Christian deeply concerned with the heart and its “bigness” for the glory of God as revealed in Jesus Christ.

In this first post I aim no higher than a simple introduction.  So where to begin?  How about the beginning!  The first four words of the Bible are “In the beginning, God…” (Gen 1.1).  Before the larger conversation of creation, humanity, culture, sin, redemption, and restoration can begin we must first pause and acknowledge that the conversation must always begin with God.  Whatever it is that we speak of, the Reformed Christian must always begin with “In the beginning, God.”   Renowned theologian J.I. Packer in his introduction to John Owen’s Death of Death in the Death of Christ puts it this way:

Calvinism is a theocentric (God-centred) way of thinking about all life under the direction and control of God’s own Word. Calvinism, in other words, is the theology of the Bible viewed from the perspective of the Bible—the God-centred outlook which sees the Creator as the source, and means, and end, of everything that is, both in nature and in grace.

By “all life,” Packer means our work, our friendships, our creativity, our imaginations, our exercise, our marriages, our sex lives, our parentings, our youth and old age, and death itself must be acknowledged as flowing from God.  But it is not enough to recognize that these things merely flow from God.  Rather, it must be acknowledged that they are not only from him but also for him (Col 1.16).

For the Reformed Christian, worship is not something done on a Sunday but rather since all things are “from him and for him” all of life is an act of worship.  During the Reformation this came to be distilled in the Latin phrase Soli Deo Gloria, which means “glory to God alone.”  This means that all of life is invested with spiritual significance and is an act of worship.  Your job, no matter how worthless it might seem to you nevertheless has meaning because it is an act of worship aiming for the glory of God.  The intimacy between a man and a woman in marriage might seem like the farthest thing from church, but God alone will have the glory in the marriage bed.  Sex between a husband and wife is an act of worship aiming for the glory of God.  Dutch Calvinist Abraham Kuyper puts it well when he writes:

And because God has fully ordained…all life, therefore the Calvinist demands that all life be consecrated to His service…God is present in all life, with the influence of His omnipresent and almighty power, and no sphere of human life is conceivable in which religion does not maintain its demands that God shall be praised, that God’s ordinances shall be observed, and that every labor shall be permeated with fervent and ceaseless prayer. Wherever man may stand, whatever he may do, to whatever he may apply his hand, in agriculture, in commerce and in industry, or his mind, in the world of art, and science, he is, in whatsoever it may be, constantly standing before the face of his God, he is employed in the service of his God, he has strictly to obey his God, and above all, he has to aim at the glory of his God.(Kuyper, The Stone Lectures)

Thus the Reformed Christian is not satisfied with a spirituality that is confined to the church, the small group, or the fellowship hall.  The Reformed Christian brings God and his glory into every aspect of human life and makes every action an action of worship.  It is a spirituality that seeps into every aspect of the daily grind, unifying seemingly fragmented events and actions under the banner of God’s glory.

And there is one most satisfying aspect where the Reformed Christian must insist that God and God alone have glory.  This aspect is in the aspect of salvation.  I will say more (much more!) on this later, but for now one or two things will do.  Paul writes:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Eph 2:8-9)

No one may boast says the Apostle.  But why would we boast?  We would boast, because in some sense we wish to glorify the object of our boasting.  And when my faith is strong, I will often boast in it!  If not to the whole world, perhaps to just myself.  When I am disciplined in scripture reading, in prayers, and in service I boast!  If not to the whole world, at least to my own conscience.  But on occasion, my faith becomes feeble.  On occasion, I do not read, pray.  On occasion the only reason I serve Christ is because I’m expected to by others.  And then where is my boasting!?!?  But more importantly, where is my assurance?

If I trust in my faith, my works, my discipline I will inevitably be disappointed.  Thus it is not merely a doctrinal concern for the Reformed Christian to say “to God alone be the glory!,” but principally it is a pastoral concern.  For you and I to have assurance, to have joy and peace before God we need something or someone more dependable than ourselves.  Thus the Reformed Christian turns to Christ.  The Reformed Christians says of his repentance. “In the beginning, God!”  The Reformed Christians says of his faith, “In the beginning, God!”  The Reformed Christian says of his prayers, study, and service, “In the beginning, God!”  The Reformed Christian says of his perseverance, “In the beginning, God!”  And as the Reformed Christian dies, his faltering life turning the page on this life and opening up the new chapter of eternal life he will say, “In the beginning, God!”  For every good thing that happens in the life of the Reformed Christian he must say “In the beginning, God!

Thus the Reformed Christian sees the initiation of every good thing, whether it be faith, or fatherhood, hard work, creativity, salvation etc. all have their initiation in God and are ultimately for him.  The Reformed Christian leads a happy, grateful life, under the knowledge that God has thought of him graciously and affectionately.   Because God finishes what he starts, we not only thank him that he began something in us but we wholeheartedly trust in him to finish it.   So I will close with a brief paragraph from Charles Spurgeon:

“ it is not prayer, it is not faith, it is not our doings, it is not our feelings upon which we must rest, but upon Christ and on Christ alone.  We are apt to think that we are not in a right state, that we do not fell enough, instead of remembering that our business is only with Christ.  O soul, of thou couldst fix thy soul on Jesus, and neglect every thing else- if thou couldst but despise good works, and aught else, so far as they relate to salvation, and look wholly, simply on Christ, I feel that Satan would soon give up throwing thee down, he would find that it would not answer his purpose, for thou wouldst fall on Christ, and like the giant who fell upon his mother, the earth, thou wouldst rise up each time stronger than before.”

Spurgeon, “The Comer’s Conflict with Satan” Spurgeon’s Sermons Vol II pg 309





Does God Change His Mind?

20 12 2011

There are more than a few texts in the Bible that destabilize our theological frameworks.  One such text comes from Jonah 3.10 which reads “When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.”  The problem of God “relenting,” or “repenting” or changing his mind is that it seems as if God’s will is dependent upon human interaction.  If this is true, there as some human actions which could in a way, force God’s hand.  Because this is an idea that most Christians and philosophers have always resisted, the reader needs a way to interact with verses such as Jonah 3.10.  Most of the interactions with verses such as this, particularly from the Reformed world have been a disappointment.  However, the excerpt from Jacques Ellul’s splendid commentary from Jonah posted below is a wonderful engaging of God’s repentance.  It might seem like a slow start and you may have to read it several times to fully appreciate, but I can promise you it is well worth your time.  There is precious gold to be found in the passage below.

When Nineveh repents, God repents too:  ”God repented of the evil which he had said he would do to them; and he did not do it” (3:10).  This is a surprising term to be used of God, and yet it is a common one in Scripture.  God decides something, and then events change.  Thus God changes his mind.  He repents.  It is useless to avoid the difficulty this causes by saying it is only a manner of speaking.  Philosophers say that God cannot change.  True enough!  But the God revealed in Scripture is not the God of the philosophers.  Nor can one attribute this to primitive characteristics in the people of Israel.  Historians call this a gross anthropomorphism and one must not take it too seriously.  To be sure it is an anthropomorphism.  But God is not the God of historians.  To be noted first in relation to this repenting is that God repents of the evil he was going to do but never repents of the good.  This general rule is formulated by St. Paul (Romans 2) and it is confirmed by a survey of texts.  Only once to my knowledge do we read that God repented of the good that he had done, and this is explained more by literary than theological considerations.  In effect this repenting takes place only when there is risk of some evil, some human suffering.

Again it is no doubt important to emphasize that the same Hebrew words are not used for repentance of Nineveh and God’s repenting.  In a general way Scripture has different terms for man’s repentance and the Lord’s repenting.  As concerns man,shubh implies a change, a modification in attitude and direction (a conversion) in his very being, as we have seen.  As concerns God, the word macham is the usual term, and this does not imply a change of direction but inner suffering which must be consoled.  It is suffering not because of self but because of the relation between self and others.  This can happen in the relation between God and man, whether because man does not respond to God’s appeal or because of God’s justice necessarily demands man’s condemnation.  The just and perfectly holy God condemns, and can do no other, but where man repents, when man changes, God suffers for having condemned him.  One cannot say absolutely that he suppresses condemnation.  For in effect God does not change.  What is done is done.  What God has decided he has decided, the more so as it is decided for all eternity.  When it is said that God repents, it means that he suffers, not that he changes what his justice has deemed necessary.

Now God’s justice has deemed condemnation necessary because of past sin.  Repentance alone does not efface the past.  Once committed, a guilty act remains so even after repentance.  Condemnation cannot be automatically lifted.  There is no immanent mechanism.  Repentance, as an act of man, does not suppress the sins man has committed.  The two are not in balance.  What is between them is the fact that God repents, that he suffers and finds consolation.

But we must be more precise as to the meaning of this suffering.  It is not just sentiment.  It is not regret for having condemned.  It is not a kindly thought which causes God to lift the condemnation, which would imply a change of attitude.  Most of the passages speak of God repenting say that he repents of evil he had resolved to do.  He suffers the evil, and not just because of the evil, but the evil itself.  We might say with truth that God suffers the evil he has resolved to do.  He takes upon himself the evil which was the wages of man’s sin.  He suffers the very suffering which in his justice he should have laid on man.  God causes the judgment to fall on himself; this is the meaning of his repenting.  We shall see that it is in Jesus Christ that this is done plainly and for us.  Jesus Christ is precisely the one upon whom falls all the judgment and all the suffering decided for each of us, the judgment and the suffering of the world.  In reality  God’s repenting in the face of man’s repentance is Jesus Christ.  Each time there is any question of this repenting in Scripture we thus have a new prophecy of Jesus Christ who puts into effect both the justice of God and also the love of God without doing despite to either the one or the other.

It is only from this perspective of human judgment that there seems to be a change in God’s attitude.  When the Lord proclaims condemnation and then does not fulfill it, we tend to say, if we are believers, that he has changed his will, and if we are not believers, that there is no God.  But that is a purely temporal way of looking at it because we are not able to see Jesus in agony to the end of the world.  God’s purpose has not changed.  From the very beginning his aim was to save the world from his own wrath.

Ellul, Jacques, The Judgment of Jonah (Eerdmans: Grand Rapids 1971) pgs 98-100





John Owen: The work of the Trinity in Redemption

20 12 2011

The following is taken from John Owen’s classic The Death of Death in the Death of Christ. I have lifted this text from the CCEL library, however if this peaks your interest in the slightest I would recommend purchasing this versionbecause it has a remarkable introduction to Owen and the book written by J.I. Packer. Owen is difficult to read and his theological discourse is on a level that few are accustomed to operating at these days. Nevertheless, he is worth your time and worth the headache you may receive by trying to hack through his stilted latin grammar. I will put up three posts in the following days from Owen. One on the work of the Father in redemption, one on the work of the Son in redemption, and finally one on the work of the Spirit in redemption.  Below is only a portion of Owen’s chapter on the Father’s work in redemption.  This section is on the covenant the Father makes with the Son, which is a particularly enriching aspect of Owen’s theology. 

The third act of this sending is his entering into covenant and compact with his Son concerning the work to be undertaken, and the issue or event thereof; of which there be two parts:—

First, His promise to protect and assist him in the accomplishment and perfect fulfilling of the whole business and dispensation about which he was employed, or which he was to undertake. The Father engaged himself, that for his part, upon his Son’s undertaking this great work of redemption, he would not be wanting in any assistance in trials, strength against oppositions, encouragement against temptations, and strong consolation in the midst of terrors, which might be any way necessary or requisite to carry him on through all difficulties to the end of so great an employment; — upon which he undertakes this heavy burden, so full of misery and trouble: for the Father 169before this engagement requires no less of him than that he should “become a Saviour, and be afflicted in all the affliction of his people,” Isa. lxiii. 8, 9: yea, that although he were “the fellow of the Lord of hosts,” yet he should endure the “sword” that was drawn against him as the “shepherd” of the sheep, Zech. xiii. 7; “treading the winepress alone, until he became red in his apparel,” Isa. lxiii. 2, 3: yea, to be “stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted; wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities; to be bruised and put to grief; to make his soul an offering for sin, and to bear the iniquity of many,” Isa. liii.; to be destitute of comfort so far as to cry, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Ps. xxii. 1. No wonder, then, if upon this undertaking the Lord promised to make “his mouth like a sharp sword, to hide him in the shadow of his hand, to make him a polished shaft, and to hide him in his quiver, to make him his servant in whom he would be glorified,” Isa. xlix. 2, 3; that though “the kings of the earth should set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against him, yet he would laugh them to scorn, and set him as king upon his holy hill of Zion,” Ps. ii. 2, 4, 6; though the “builders did reject him,” yet he should “become the head of the corner,” to the amazement and astonishment of all the world, Ps. cxviii. 22, 23; Matt. xxi. 42, Mark xii. 10, Luke xx. 17, Acts iv. 11, 12, 1 Pet. ii. 4; yea, he would “lay him for a foundation, a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner-stone, a sure foundation,” Isa. xxviii. 16, that “whosoever should fall upon him should be broken, but upon whomsoever he should fall he should grind him to powder,” Matt. xxi. 44. Hence arose that confidence of our Saviour in his greatest and utmost trials, being assured, by virtue of his Father’s engagement in this covenant, upon a treaty with him about the redemption of man, that he would never leave him nor forsake him. “I gave,” saith he, “my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting,” Isa. l. 6. But with what confidence, blessed Saviour, didst thou undergo all this shame and sorrow! Why, “The Lord God will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know; that I shall not be ashamed. He is near that justifieth me; who will contend with me? let us stand together: who is mine adversary? let him come near to me. Behold, the Lord God will help me; who is he that condemn me? Lo! they shall all wax old as a garment; the moth shall eat them up,” verses 7–9. With this assurance he was brought as a “lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth,” Isa. liii. 7: for “when he was reviled, he reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously,” 1 Pet. ii. 23. So that the ground of our Saviour’s confidence and assurance in this 170great undertaking, and a strong motive to exercise his graces received in the utmost endurings, was this engagement of his Father upon this compact of assistance and protection.

Secondly, [His promise] of success, or a good issue out of all his sufferings, and a happy accomplishment and attainment of the end of his great undertaking. Now, of all the rest this chiefly is to be considered, as directly conducing to the business proposed, which yet would not have been so clear without the former considerations; for whatsoever it was that God promised his Son should be fulfilled and attained by him, that certainly was it at which the Son aimed in the whole undertaking, and designed it as the end of the work that was committed to him, and which alone he could and did claim upon the accomplishment of his Father’s will. What this was, and the promises whereby it is at large set forth, ye have Isa. xlix.: “Thou shalt be my servant,” saith the Lord, “to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation to the end of the earth. Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the Lord that is faithful.” And he will certainly accomplish this engagement: “I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages; that thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Show yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places. They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them. And I will make all my mountains a way, and my highways shall be exalted. Behold, these shall come from far: and, lo, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim,” verses 6–12. By all which expressions the Lord evidently and clearly engageth himself to his Son, that he should gather to himself a glorious church of believers from among Jews and Gentiles, through all the world, that should be brought unto him, and certainly fed in full pasture, and refreshed by the springs of water, all the spiritual springs of living water which flow from God in Christ for their everlasting salvation. This, then, our Saviour certainly aimed at, as being the promise upon which he undertook the work, — the gathering of the sons of God together, their bringing unto God, and passing to eternal salvation; which being well considered, it will utterly overthrow the general ransom or universal redemption, as afterward will appear. In the 53d chapter of the same prophecy, the Lord is more express and punctual in these promises to his Son, assuring him that when he “made his soul an offering for sin, he should see his seed, and prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord should prosper in his 171hand; that he should see of the travail of his soul, and be satisfied; by his knowledge he should justify many; that, he should divide a portion with the great, and the spoil with the strong,” verses 10–12. He was, you see, to see his seed by covenant, and to raise up a spiritual seed unto God, a faithful people, to be prolonged and preserved throughout all generations; which, how well it consists with their persuasion who in terms have affirmed “that the death of Christ might have had its full and utmost effect and yet none be saved,” I cannot see, though some have boldly affirmed it, and all the assertors of universal redemption do tacitly grant, when they come to the assigning of the proper ends and effects of the death of Christ. “The pleasure of the Lord,” also, was to “prosper in his hand;” which what it was he declares, Heb. ii. 10, even “bringing of many sons unto glory;” for “God sent his only-begotten Son into the world that we live through him,” 1 John iv. 9; as we shall afterward more abundantly declare. But the promises of God made unto him in their agreement, and so, consequently, his own aim and intention, may be seen in nothing more manifestly than in the request that our Saviour makes upon the accomplishment of the work about which he was sent; which certainly was neither for more nor less than God had engaged himself to him for. “I have,” saith he, “glorified thee on earth, I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do,” John xvii. 4. And now, what doth he require after the manifestation of his eternal glory, of which for a season he had emptied himself, verse 5? Clearly a full confluence of the love of God and fruits of that love upon all his elect, in faith, sanctification, and glory. God gave them unto him, and he sanctified himself to be a sacrifice for their sake, praying for their sanctification, verses 17–19; their preservation in peace, or communion one with another, and union with God, verses 20, 21, “I pray not for these alone” (that is, his apostles), “but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us;” and lastly, their glory, verse 24, “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me.” All which several postulata are no doubt grounded upon the fore-cited promises which by his Father were made unto him. And in this, not one word concerning all and every one, but expressly the contrary, verse 9. Let this, then, be diligently observed, that the promise of God unto his Son, and the request of the Son unto his Father, are directed to this peculiar end of bringing sons unto God. And this is the first act, consisting of these three particulars.

2. The second is of laying upon him the punishment of sins, everywhere ascribed unto the Father: “Awake; O sword, against my shepherd, against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of 172hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered,” Zech. xiii. 7. What here is set down imperatively, by way of command, is in the gospel indicatively expounded. “I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad,” Matt. xxvi. 31. “He was stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted;” yea, “the Lord laid upon him the iniquity of us all;” yea, “it pleased the Lord to bruise him, and to put him to grief,” Isa. liii. 4, 6, 10. “He made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him,” 2 Cor. v. 21. The adjunct in both places is put for the subject, as the opposition between his being made sin and our being made righteousness declareth. “Him who knew no sin,” — that is, who deserved no punishment, — “him hath he made to be sin,” or laid the punishment due to sin upon him. Or perhaps, in the latter place, sin may be taken for an offering or sacrifice for the expiation of sin, ἁμαρτία answering in this place to the word חַטָּאת in the Old Testament, which signifieth both sin and the sacrifice for it. And this the Lord did; for as for Herod, Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, when they were gathered together, they did nothing but “what his hand and counsel had determined before to be done,” Acts iv. 27, 28. Whence the great shakings of our Saviour were in his close conflict with his Father’s wrath, and that burden which by himself he immediately imposed on him. When there was no hand or instrument outwardly appearing to put him to any suffering or cruciating torment, then he “began to be sorrowful, even unto death” Matt. xxvi. 37, 38; to wit, when he was in the garden with his three choice apostles, before the traitor or any of his accomplices appeared, then was he “sore amazed, and very heavy,” Mark xiv. 33. That was the time, “in the days of his flesh, when he offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death,” Heb. v. 7; which how he performed the evangelist describeth, Luke xxii. 43, 44: “There appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. But being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” Surely it was a close and strong trial, and that immediately from his Father, he now underwent; for how meekly and cheerfully doth he submit, without any regret or trouble of spirit, to all the cruelty of men and violence offered to his body, until this conflict being renewed again, he cries, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” And this, by the way, will be worth our observation that we may know with whom our Saviour chiefly had to do, and what was that which he underwent for sinners; which also will give some light to the grand query concerning the persons of them for whom he undertook all this. His sufferings were far from consisting in mere corporal perpessions and afflictions, with such impressions upon his 173soul and spirit as were the effects and issues only of them. It was no more nor less than the curse of the law of God which he underwent for us: for he freed us from the curse “by being made a curse,” Gal. iii. 13; which contained all the punishment that was due to sin, either in the severity of God’s justice, or according to the exigence of that law which required obedience. That the execration of the law should be only temporal death, as the law was considered to be the instrument of the Jewish polity, and serving that economy or dispensation, is true; but that it should be no more, as it is the universal rule of obedience, and the bond of the covenant between God and man, is a foolish dream. Nay, but in dying for us Christ did not only aim at our good, but also directly died in our stead. The punishment due to our sin and the chastisement of our peace was upon him; which that it was the pains of hell, in their nature and being, in their weight and pressure, though not in tendence and continuance (it being impossible that he should be detained by death), who can deny and not be injurious to the justice of God, which will inevitably inflict those pains to eternity upon sinners? It is true, indeed, there is a relaxation of the law in respect of the persons suffering, God admitting of commutation; as in the old law, when in their sacrifices the life of the beast was accepted (in respect to the carnal part of the ordinances) for the life of the man. This is fully revealed, and we believe it; but for any change of the punishment, in respect of the nature of it, where is the least intimation of any alteration? We conclude, then, this second act of God, in laying the punishment on him for us, with that of the prophet, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all,” Isa. liii. 6: and add thereunto this observation, that it seems strange to me that Christ should undergo the pains of hell in their stead who lay in the pains of hell before he underwent those pains, and shall continue in them to eternity; for “their worm dieth not, neither is their fire quenched.” To which I may add this dilemma to our Universalists:— God imposed his wrath due unto, and Christ underwent the pains of hell for, either all the sins of all men, or all the sins of some men, or some sins of all men. If the last, some sins of all men, then have all men some sins to answer for, and so shall no man be saved; for if God enter into judgment with us, though it were with all mankind for one sin, no flesh should be justified in his sight: “If the Lord should mark iniquities, who should stand?” Ps. cxxx. 3. We might all go to cast all that we have “to the moles and to the bats, to go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty,” Isa. ii. 20, 21. If the second, that is it which we affirm, that Christ in their stead and room suffered for all the sins of all the elect in the world. If the first, 174why, then, are not all freed from the punishment of all their sins? You will say, “Because of their unbelief; they will not believe.” But this unbelief, is it a sin or not? If not, why should they be punished for it? If it be, then Christ underwent the punishment due to it, or not. If so, then why must that hinder them more than their other sins for which he died from partaking of the fruit of his death? If he did not, then did he not die for all their sins. Let them choose which part they will.

read the whole chapter here