Taken and adapted from, “AN ANTIDOTE AGAINST ARMINIANISM or A TREATISE TO ENERVATE AND CONFUTE ALL FIVE POINTS OF IT” with extracts from Dr. John Gill, Dr. Isaac Watts, Augustus Toplady, John Newton, J. Hart, etc. Recommended by Dr. John Owen, and published for the public good.
Written and edited by Christopher Ness
Fourth Edition published in London, in the Year 1700
The Extent of the Atonement
God imposed his wrath, and Christ underwent the pains of hell either for,
1 All of the sins of all men,
2 All of the sins of some men, or
3 Some of the sins of all men.
In which case it may be said:
A That if the last is true, then all men have some sins to answer for, and so none are saved.
B That if the second is true, then Christ suffered in their stead for all of the sins of all of the elect in the whole world – and this is the truth.
C But if the first is the case, then why are not all men free from the punishment due for their sins? –John Owen
You will say, “Because of unbelief; they will not believe.”
But this unbelief, is it a sin or is it not? If it is not a sin, then why should they be punished for it? If it is a sin, then Christ underwent the punishment for that sin or he did not. If he did, then why must that sin hinder them from partaking of the fruit of his death more than their other sins for which he died? If he did not die for it, then he did not die for all their sins. (John Owen).
Universal redemption, or asserting that Christ died for all men, cannot be a Gospel truth because of the following arguments and reasons.
1 God the Father’s election, God the Son’s redemption, and God the Holy Ghost’s sanctification, must all have equal extent and latitude; but universal redemption, in the Arminian sense of it, makes these operations unequal.
This is clear; for as the Father, Word, and Spirit are One in essence, so are they One in willing, working, and witnessing the redemption of sinners. Just as there are Three who bear witness on earth (the Spirit, the water, and the blood), so there are Three who bear record in Heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; “and these Three agree in one” (1 John 5:6-8). Those whom the Father elects, the Son redeems, and the Holy Ghost sanctifies. If then there is a universal redemption there must be a universal election, and a universal sanctification as well. And so, by consequence, there must be a universal salvation.
It is evident from two scriptures that the Son redeems no more than the Father elects. The first is John 5:23, which declares that the Son must be honored as equal with the Father; but, to say that the Son redeemed all, and the Father elected only a few, is to give greater honor to the One than to the Other, and to create an inequality in Their operations. The second scripture is John 17:9-10: “All yours are Mine and all Mine are yours,” etc. They were the Father’s by electing love, and they became the Son’s by gift and redemption: “Yours they were, and You gave them Me” (John 17:6). Christ redeems only those whom the Father gave to Him. Hence God’s “book of life” in which the number of the elect is recorded, is also called the “Lamb’s book of life,” intimating that the number of those elected by the Father is commensurate with those redeemed by the Son.
It is evident from 1 John 5:6-7 that Christ redeems no greater number than the Spirit sanctifies; there must be water to sanctify where there is blood to redeem. Christ’s oblation is no larger in extent than the Spirit’s operation. Thus it is most apparent that all three Persons in the Trinity have one object and one design of love. They are equal in essence, equal in honor, and equal in operation.
2 The benefits of Christ’s death and resurrection are of equal extent as to their objects; but the benefit of Christ’s resurrection is not extended to all.
It is acknowledged even by the Arminians that the benefit of Christ’s resurrection is not extended to all and everyone alike, but is specifically extended to believers. It is evident from Romans 8:33-34 (they are both put together) that the death and resurrection of Christ are equally extended to their objects. “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect,” those for whom Christ died? Who can condemn those for whom Christ was raised? Those for whom Christ died and rose again cannot be condemned. “[Christ] was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (Romans 4:25). Those that have the fruit of Christ’s battle have the fruit of His victory also; but this cannot be said of all men, for the wrath of God abides on some (John 3:36).
3 The benefit of Christ’s death and intercession are of equal extent as to their objects; but Christ does not intercede for all.
This is expressly declared in Scripture: “I do not pray for the world, but for those whom You have given Me; for they are yours” (John 17:9). “They are not of the world” (John 17:14). Christ’s intercession is “not for the world” at large, but only for those whom His Father has given Him. And reason confirms this, for if Christ interceded for Judas, Pilate, etc., then He would have been repulsed, and was not always heard of the Father; contrary to John 11:42. Again, Christ is a High Priest. The two parts of His priestly office, oblation and presentation, cannot be separated: and what has a part in the former has part in the latter also. For the presentation necessarily implies the oblation, and it gives a perpetual force to it in the sight of God (Hebrews 9:12). Christ must intercede on behalf of those whom He has reconciled to God by His death; and His intercession is a personal presentation of Himself to His Father on behalf of those whom He personated [represented] on the Cross. We cannot say that there are some for whom Christ offered Himself upon earth but for whom he does not intercede in Heaven; this would make Christ only a half-priest to some, and therefore not a faithful High Priest, contrary to a number of scriptures, Isaiah 53:11-12; 1 John 2:1-2; Hebrews 9:11-12, and Hebrews 10:19-21.
4 Those for whom Christ died have Christ for their surety; but all do not have Christ for a surety.
All are sinners: and every sinner must die, either by himself or by his Surety, for “the wages of sin is death.” And the suretyship of Christ consists of this, that He died for us (Romans 6:23). He was “made a curse for us,” that is, in our stead (Galatians 3:13; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Judah was surety for Benjamin’s safety (Genesis 44:32), and Christ is the surety of the new covenant (Hebrews 7:22); He took upon Himself our sins in His death (Isaiah 53:4-8; 1 Peter 2:24). If Christ was a surety for all, then He offered up a satisfaction for all in becoming sin, and bearing the curse and wrath of God in their stead. But this is not done for all; for Christ does not know workers of iniquity; of them He says, “I never knew you” (Matthew 7:23); yet He knows His sheep, and He laid down His life for them (John 10:11-15).
5 If the covenant of grace does not extend to all, then Christ did not die for all.
Christ’s blood is called “the blood of the covenant” (Hebrews 9:20), and “the blood of the New Testament” (Matthew 26:28). It is evident that the covenant of grace is not extended to all, for it is made with the house of Israel only. “This shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days; says the Lord, I will put My law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (Jeremiah 31:33). The covenant is only with those in whose hearts the conditions are effectually worked, i.e., putting God’s fear in them, and writing His law in their minds, which only the election obtains. None dare say that God entered into a covenant of grace with the “seed” of the serpent, but only with those whose “heel” the serpent hurts (Genesis 3:15).
6 If Christ died for His sheep, His friends, and His church only, then He did not die for all.
This is plain from several scriptures. “The good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep … (I) know My sheep, and am known by My sheep … and I lay down My life for My sheep” (John 10:11-15). “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends” (John 5:13, 14). “Feed the church, which He has purchased with His own blood” (Act 20:28). “Christ loved the church, and gave Himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25). Christ died for such as were Paul and Titus, not for such as were Pharaoh and Judas, who were “goats” and not “sheep” (Matthew 25:33). He died to save “His people from their sins,” and therefore His name was called Jesus (Matthew 1:21); who are called the “redeemed of the Lord” (Psalms 107:2). Now since those for whom Christ died are those who “hear His voice and follow Him,” to whom He “gives eternal life” (John 10:27-28), those He sanctifies and cleanses, and presents to Himself “without spot or wrinkle” (Ephesians 5:27), and those He has “redeemed from all iniquity, to purify to Himself a special people” (Titus 2:14). Such are His people, His chosen, His children. It cannot be intended for all unless we say that Pharaoh, Judas, etc., were of the sheep, friends, and church of Christ. It is true, He died for enemies (Romans 5:10), but it was to reconcile them to God; such were the believing Romans, who being Gentiles, Christ called “other sheep,” not of the Jewish fold.
7 It must be applied to those for whom Christ’s death was intended; but it is not applied to all, therefore it was not intended for all.
The end and the design cannot be severed from the action needed to accomplish that end. Christ’s aim is to bestow what he obtains; He obtains nothing that is not applied. He Himself speaks of some from whom the gospel was hidden, and of others to whom it was revealed or made known. “You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent, and have revealed them to babes” (Matthew 11:25). The sum total of the intercession of Christ is that what He has obtained may be applied to those for whom he intercedes, (see John 17 throughout).
8 If Christ died for all, then must all be reconciled to God; but all are not reconciled.
Sin hinders reconciliation; and Christ’s death is a propitiation for sin (Romans 3:25). So all for whom Christ died must be reconciled to God; the death of Christ is the cause, and reconciliation is the effect following the cause. If all are reconciled, then all must be saved, and nothing can be laid to the charge of anyone. Take away the sin, and you acquit the sinner. But to grant such an acquaintance and reconciliation to all brings in many absurdities; for upon this hypothesis it follows, 1st that Cain, Pharaoh etc., were reconciled to God by Christ’s death when they were (at the time of Christ’s dying) in the torments of hell, and never to be delivered from there. 2nd, that God damns reconciled persons. 3rd, that God takes double-pay for one fault, in punishing both the Surety and the debtor. 4th, that Christ’s reconciling of some is ineffectual, etc. But these things are not so; for repentance is granted to those for whom Christ died, and remission of sins (Act 5:31); to them is given freedom from the slavery of sin, and regeneration to newness of life (Romans 6:6; Hebrews 2:14-15); on them is bestowed purifying grace, “purifying their hearts by faith” (Act 15:9); they have the blood of Christ to purge their conscience from dead works, so that they may serve the living God (Hebrews 9:14), and theirs is life eternal: “I give to them eternal life, and they shall never perish” (John 10:28). All these fruits are evidences of our reconciliation by Christ’s death.
9 What Scripture does not affirm anywhere cannot be a truth; and it nowhere asserts that Christ died for all men, much less for every man individually; therefore it is not a truth.
It is true Christ is said to “give His life a ransom for all:” but not for all men, or for every man individually; the Scripture is the best expounder of itself, and the “all” is rendered “many in Matthew 20:28, and Mark 10:45: “The Son of man came to give His life a ransom for many.” “My blood is shed for many, for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28). And it is so frequently restrained to His sheep, friends, church, believers, chosen, and those who are given to Christ, that it must mean some of all sorts; which, in equivalent terms, is clearly expressed in Revelation 5:9-10: “You have redeemed us out of every kindred and tongue, and people and nation.” Therefore the word “all” must be taken for all the elect, all His church, all His children that the Father has given Him, etc., not all men universally, and not every man individually.
10 Whatever opposes the attributes of God ought to be rejected; and universal redemption does so.
First, it opposes His justice. If Christ redeemed Pharaoh and Judas, then redeemed souls are unjustly damned; this hypothesis sets the death of Christ in direct opposition to God’s justice. And how could Christ die for Judas’ sin when Christ’s death was his very sin?
Second, it opposes His wisdom. As if God should love and hate the same person at the same time; Esau must be loved if Christ is given to die for him, yet hated, as being ordained to death from all eternity.
Third, it opposes His power. If Christ died intentionally for all, then God’s intentions are frustrated since all are not saved. God is not omnipotent if His designs are crossed by the work of His own hands. And to say that freedom was obtained by Christ’s death for those who are not set free is ridiculous; it makes a laughing-stock of religion.
Objections Against Particular Redemption Answered
Objection 1. What everyone is required to believe [about Christ] must be true, and it is the duty of all men to believe it; therefore Christ must have died for all men [or they would not be required to believe it].
Answer 1. Suppose we grant this position; would not the doctrine of discriminating love be destroyed by it? Would it not be poor comfort for a distressed soul to believe that Christ died for him no more than he died for Judas and all those who are damned in hell?
Answer 2. Those to whom the Gospel never came and who have never heard of the death of Christ are not bound to believe that Christ died for them. What God reveals is true; but God nowhere reveals that it is His intention that Judas should believe, or that all shall believe.
Answer 3. All do not have the Gospel preached to them; and many to whom it is preached only hear the sound of it with the outward ear: they come and go attending to it in the same way as a door swings on its hinges, in a way of mere formality. They are not impressed with a sight and sense of their state as sinners. They are not weary and heavy laden because of sin. The proclamation by the gospel trumpet of redemption for sin through Christ’s blood is not a joyful sound to them; they do not know their need of it. Evangelical repentance is the gift of free grace; faith is the gift of God. What is God’s, as a gift to bestow, cannot be man’s duty to perform, as a condition of salvation. Those who are invited to look to Christ, and to come to Him for salvation, are very minutely described: they are the weary and heavy laden with sin, the penitent, the hungry and thirsty soul, etc.; these are the characters invited to come to and believe in Christ, and not all men (Mathew 11:28; Isaiah 55:1; Mark 2:17).
Objection 2. The words “all” and “every,” often used in Scripture, must be taken universally.
Answer 1. “All” and “every” must not be taken for a universal affirmative collectively, nor for every man individually, in the commonly quoted scriptures; rather it is to be taken distributively, as in Mathew 9:35, where we are told that Christ went about healing every sickness and every disease among the people: that is, any and every kind of disease; for Christ did not heal every disease individually. This is also true in Colossians 1:28, where the word “every” is to be taken distributively, three times over, and must be restricted to those to whom Paul preached.
Answer 2. “All” in 1 Timothy 2:4, 26 cannot be taken for every man individually, since it is not the will of God that all men in this large sense should be saved: for it is His will that some men should be damned, and justly so, for their sins and transgressions. To some men it will be said, “Depart, you cursed, into everlasting fire.” If God wills all men to be saved, then all men will be saved, for “He (God) does according to His will in the army of Heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth” (Daniel 4:35). God does not fail; He cannot be disappointed in His own will; for He works all things after the counsel of that will. Again, in Hebrews 2:9, Jesus is said to “taste death for every [man];” in the very next verse it is restricted to “sons brought to glory,” and in Hebrews 2:11, it is restricted to “sanctified” ones. 1 Timothy 2:6 (“who gave Himself a ransom for all”) is rendered in the parallel text in Titus 2:14, “who gave Himself for us.” Now, who are the persons called “us” in this text? Are they not particularized as “redeemed from all iniquity, purified, and made a special people?” Christ gave Himself as a ransom for “all” those described, and for no one else.
The prophet David says, “All men are liars;” if we take the word “all” strictly, then the one who said it must also be a liar.
Objection 3. In John 3:16, and in 1 John 2:2, it is declared that God gave Christ for the “world,” and for the sins of the “whole world;” which must be taken literally.
Answer 1. The word “world” has various meanings. A decree went out that “all the world should be taxed” (Luke 2:1); that is, it went out to all the Roman Empire and those countries in subjection to it. The faith of the Church of Rome was “spoken of throughout the whole world” (Romans 1:8); that is, it was spoken of throughout all the churches, and among all the saints in the world. When the Pharisees said to Christ, “Behold, the world has gone after Him” (John 12:19), by reference we find that they meant “many people” went out of Jerusalem to meet Jesus, crying, “Hosanna” (John 12:12-13). The Pharisees themselves, who so said, had not gone after Christ; therefore the whole world had not gone after him. So John 3:16: “God so loved the world” cannot be understood to mean the whole world in a strict sense, for birds, beasts, fishes, and all inanimate things are comprehended in that world, and these cannot have everlasting life. Nor can it be the whole world of men, except in the sense that God is the Preserver of both man and beast (Psalms 31:6). There is God’s love to creatures, His love to men, and His love to good men. God’s love was the cause of His sending Christ, and the word “whosoever” (in the verse) restrains this love of God to some and not to others. It must therefore be properly God’s love to good men, the third love; it does not refer to those He found to be good, but to those He made so.
Answer 2. There is a world of believers (Revelation 5:9); just as manna was only for Israel, so Christ, the true manna, the Bread from Heaven, gives life only to the world of believers (John 6:33). Christ was believed in only in the world of believers (1 Timothy 3:16); the reconciled world (2 Corinthians 5:19): and “all men do not have faith” (2 Thessalonians 3:2). There is also the world of unbelievers. “All the world wondered after the beast. And “they worshipped the dragon” (Revelation 13:3-4). “The whole world lies in wickedness” (1 John 5:19). The believing world is a world in the world (“these are in the world,” John 17:11); and they are taken and chosen out of the world. They are in the world, and they sojourn among its inhabitants as strangers and pilgrims, because this is not their rest, their home; their desires are set towards a better country (Hebrews 11:13-16). It is clear from John 15:19 that they are taken and chosen out of the world and given to Christ: “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore, the world hates you.” Also from John 17:6-9: “I have manifested your Name to the men You gave Me out of the world … I pray for them; I pray do not for the world.”
“Zion’s garden wall’d around,
Chosen and made special ground;
A little spot, enclosed by grace,
Out of the world’s wide wilderness.”
Answer 3. It is granted that God has a respect for all mankind. “We trust,” says Paul, “in the living God, who is the Savior,” i.e., the Preserver, “of all men, especially of those who believe” (1 Timothy 4:10). “The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works” (Psalms 145:9). “He makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good; and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Mathew 5:45). This only implies temporal providence and preservation, not eternal preservation; for otherwise the wages of sin would have been paid at the birth of it all, and the world (through confusion by sin) would have fallen about Adam’s ears, if Christ had not been the glorious undertaker.
All that are redeemed are redeemed by Christ; but only the elect are given to Him; they alone have an interest in Him, and are redeemed by Him, and they shall be glorified with Him.
Answer 4. The word “world” is sometimes in Scripture to indicate Gentiles in opposition to Jews, and it is used this way in 1 John 2:2. John wrote to the Jews, and ministered to those of the circumcision (see Galatians 2:9). He says to them, “Christ is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world,” that is, not only for the Jews, but also for the Gentiles. The Jewish nation considered themselves to be the special people of God; and so they were, for to them “pertained the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises.” And Christ was a Jew, “who came according to the flesh” (Romans 9:4-5). The Jews were always taught to appropriate the Messiah exclusively to themselves, to the utter rejection of the Gentiles whom they called “strangers,” “uncircumcised,” “common,” “unclean,” “dogs,” etc. It was unlawful for a Jew to keep company or have any dealings with a Gentile (see Mathew 10:5; Mark 7:17; Act 10:28, and Act 11:3). The salvation of the Gentiles in various parts of Scripture is called a “mystery,” “hidden mystery;” the “mystery of Christ which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men … that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs” (Ephesians 3:4-6; Colossians 1:27). But when this mystery was revealed and made fully known by the divine mission given to Paul, who was sent by Christ to preach to the Gentiles (Act 26:17-18), and when it was declared in Peter’s vision of the unclean beasts and by the Lord’s consequent commission to Peter (Act 10:9-15, 20), then the contentions of the circumcision ceased (Act 11:2-3). They found “the middle wall of partition” between Jew and Gentile was “broken down;” the latter, who before were “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise,” were now being “brought near by the blood of Christ.” They glorified God saying, “Then God has also granted repentance unto life to the Gentiles.” Jesus Christ is not only the propitiation for the sins of us Jews, but for the Gentiles also (Ephesians 2:11-18).
Answer 5. The foregoing is proved from Romans 11:12, where the two words, “world” and “Gentiles,” are both used as signifying one and the same thing. “If the fall of them (Jews) are the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them are the riches of the Gentiles, then how much more their fullness?”
“It was a controversy agitated among the Jewish doctors whether, when the Messiah came, the Gentiles, (the ‘world’) should have any benefit by Him. The majority was exceedingly large on the negative side of the question; only some few, such as old Simeon and others, knew that He should be ‘a light to lighten the Gentiles,’ as well as ‘the glory of His people of Israel.’ The rest concluded that the most severe judgments and dreadful calamities would befall the Gentiles; in fact, that they would be cast into hell in place of the Israelites” (Dr. John Gill).
Objection 4. Surely Christ has as much efficacy to save as to damn (see Romans 5:17).
Answer 1. There is a difference between a necessary extension and a voluntary one. Adam’s sin was a necessary extension, but salvation by Christ is of free grace, wholly of God’s pleasure, and it is therefore called the “free gift” (Romans 5:15).
Answer 2. Nowhere is Christ compared to Adam in the extent of the object [of his atonement], but only in the efficacy of His obedience. All and everyone are not radically in Christ as they were in Adam; all are not given to Christ; only “as many (says Christ) as You have given Me” (John 17:2). Just as all the offspring of Adam fell by Adam’s sin, so all who belong to Christ are saved by Christ’s death; just as all who are in Adam die, so all who are in Christ are made alive (1 Corinthians 15:22).
Answer 3. So that the apostle might not be misunderstood, and so that the word “all” in Romans 5:18 will not be taken universally, the term which defines the object is varied in the following verse; and thus “all” is rendered “many”: “By the obedience of one, many shall be made righteous.”
Objection 5. In Romans 14:15, it is said, “do not destroy him for whom Christ died.” And in 2 Peter 2:1, persons are described as “denying the Lord who bought them.”
Answer 1. Everlasting destruction cannot be meant by the word “destroy” in Romans 14:15, and the context shows this; for the apostle, throughout the chapter, is exhorting the believing Romans not to condemn one another on account of things that are indifferent; nor to destroy the weak believer’s peace of mind by doing anything (which although it is indifferent and not evil in itself) may yet prove a stumbling-block to him. I “am persuaded,” says Paul, “that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him that esteems anything unclean, to him it is unclean. If your brother is grieved with your eating meat, then you are not walking charitably. Do not destroy” (by your conduct in eating meat considered by your brother to be unclean) the peace of mind of one of the weaklings of that flock “for whom Christ died.” Don not put a stumbling-block, or an occasion of falling or offence in your weak brother’s way (Romans 14:13-15). “Therefore, whether you eat, or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no one offense” (1 Corinthians 10:31-32). 1 Corinthians 8 is written for the same purpose throughout.
Answer 2. The persons spoken of in 2 Peter 2:1, as “denying the Lord who bought them,” are described by the apostle as “false teachers” – these are hypocritical professors, tares among the wheat (Mathew 13:25, 38), those in whom the root of the matter was not present; they were not bought and redeemed by Christ from eternal death, but had merely escaped or abstained from the pollutions of the world through a theoretical knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 2:20). To answer certain purposes, they made an outward profession of the gospel, which obliged them for a time to be outwardly moral; they associated with the people of God and insinuated themselves into churches. They secretly introduced damnable heresies into the churches. Many followed their pernicious ways, causing evil to be spoken of the way of truth; and they made merchandise of true believers. They continued thus for a while, and then either their sheep’s clothing was stripped off them, or they threw it off themselves, and returned again into the world. All this while they were “goats” and not “sheep;” ravening wolves and not gentle lambs. And Peter closes the chapter concerning them by saying, “It has happened to them according to the true proverb. The dog has returned to its own vomit, and the sow that was washed has returned to her wallowing in the mire” (2 Peter 2:1-3, 17-22).
Answer 3. The apostle (2 Peter 2:1) does not appear to be speaking there concerning the purchase by the Redeemer’s blood. The name or title “Lord” (Greek depotes) is nowhere else applied to Christ in the New Testament, except to the Father, as it is in Luke 2:29; Act 4:24; 2 Timothy 2:22; and this is especially true in Jude 4, where “the only Lord God” is distinguished from “our Lord Jesus Christ.” And even though it could be proved to apply to Christ in the above text, it may be explained upon the principle that it is not an unusual thing with the inspired writers to speak of things not as they actually are, but only according to the profession of the party involved. Thus, for instance, (Matthew 13:12): “Whoever has, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance; but whoever does not have, from him shall be taken away even what he has;” that is, “what he seems to have,” as explained in Luke 8:18.34 Thus apostates are said to be “twice dead,” which would seem to imply that they had been spiritually alive, though in fact that was never the case; it was merely what they professed to be.
Answer 4. So, even if we grant the premises, it only follows that those who think themselves redeemed, or are thought to be redeemed by others, may blaspheme and perish; yet this does not make all the world redeemed; this can by no means establish the doctrine of Universal Redemption.