Part 1

Section 49—Hebrews 2:9.

That he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

The doctrine of universal redemption is[1] said to be contained in express terms in these words, and it is observed[2] upon them, that "here is no restraint at all, nor any seeming limitation of the comprehensive phrase, he tasted death for every man, distributively taken;" and that there is something "which doth seem to strengthen the general intendment of the phrase, for this is said to magnify the grace of God in sending his Son to die for men; now sure the grace of God will be more magnified by this general extent of our Savior's death, than by contracting the intentment of it to a few; for, if the grace of God be great in sending his Son to die for a few chosen persons, it must be a greater in sending him to die for many, and greater still in giving him up to die for us all." To which I reply;

1. That the word man is not in the original text; which says not that Christ should taste death, uJper panto<v ajnqrw>pou, for every man, but uJper panto<v, which may be taken either collectively, and be rendered for the whole, that is, for the whole body, the church (Eph. 4:16), for which Christ died, and of which he is the Savior; or distributively, and be translated for every one, that is, for every one of the sons, Christ, the Captain of salvation, brings to glory, (v. 10); for every one of the brethren, whom he sanctifies, is not ashamed to own, and to whom he declares the name of God (vv. 11, 12); for every one of the members of the church, even the general assembly and church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven, in the midst of which he sang praise (v. 12), for every one of the children God has given to him, and for whose sake he took part of flesh and blood (vv. 13, 14); and for every one of the seed of Abraham, taken in a spiritual sense, which are Christ's, whose nature he assumed (v. 16). Moreover, supposing there is a change of number, and that uJper panto<v, is instead of uJper pantw~n, for all, that is, for all men, there is, in the context, a plain restraint and limitation of the phrase, to all the sons, the brethren, the members of the church, the children, the seed of Abraham, for all whom Christ tasted death, that is, he really died, and became the author of eternal salvation to them, which does not in the least help the cause of general redemption.

2. It deserves consideration, whether the words uJper panto<v geu>shtai qana>tou, may not be rightly rendered, that he should taste of every death, or of the whole of death. This hint I have received from an author[3] referred to in the margin. If this reading of the words can be established, as I think it may, agreeably to their grammatical construction, the context, and the analogy of faith, the argument, and any color of or pretense for one from hence, in favor of the universal scheme, are entirely removed: should it be objected, that if this were the sense of the words, they would have been placed thus, geu>shtai uJper panto<v qana>tou, and not the verb between the adjective and substantive; it may be observed, that there is in the very text itself a like position of words, as hjlattwme>non ble>pomen Ihsou~n; therefore, such an objection would have no weight in it; uJper is sometimes put for peri<, and signifies de, of, instances of which the lexicons themselves will furnish us with; and, though the verb geu>omai governs a genitive case without a preposition, yet it is well known that the Greek language abounds in pleonasms of this kind. The context also favors this sense of the words; for if they be considered in connection with the phrase, made a little lower than the angels, or that other, crowned with glory and honor, they contain a reason for either; for if it should be asked, Why was Christ so greatly depressed and humbled in the human nature? the answer is ready, that he might be capable of tasting of every death, or of the whole of death; and should it be inquired, wherefore he is exalted in such a glorious manner, it may be replied, Because he has tasted it; for, as in verse 10, the Captain of salvation is made perfect through sufferings. And it is certain, that Christ has tasted of every death, or of the whole of death, the law required he should, in the room and stead of his people: hence we read of his deaths in the plural number (Isa. 53:9). He made his grace with the wicked, and with the rich, wytmb in his deaths;[4] he tasted of the death of afflictions, being all his days a man of sorrows, and acquainted with griefs; of a corporal death, being put to death in the flesh, in the body or human nature; and of eternal death, or what was equivalent to it, when his Father hid his face from him, poured out his wrath upon him, as the surety of his people, whereby his soul became exceeding sorrowful, even unto death; he tasted of the whole of death, of the agonies, miseries, bitterness, and curse of it, and so has delivered his people from the sting of it, and from all the wrath which follows upon it.

3. Whereas it is observed, that the scheme of general redemption more magnifies the grace of God than that of particular redemption does; the contrary is most true; for surely that scheme of redemption which provides for the certain salvation of some, which some are a number that no man can number, more magnifies the grace of God, than that scheme which provides a precarious, uncertain salvation for all, giving only a mere possibility of it, with a probability that all of them may perish; leaving multitudes of them without so much as the means of salvation, and entirely without the Spirit of God to apply it to them; putting them only in a salvable state, so that they may be saved if they will; which, if it is effected, must depreciate the grace of God and sufferings of Christ, and exalt the power and freewill of man. The instance of a prince affording an act of grace and indemnity to some rebels, leaving others under condemnation, who would assuredly conceive his grace and favor would be greater were it extended to them also, and not think it, the more magnified for being so discriminating, is not to the purpose; for the prince's grace is not to be judged of by the conceptions of such rebels, who are justly left under condemnation; and whatever they think of it, it is certain, that those who are comprehended in the act of grace, look upon their prince's favor to be the greater for being so discriminating, seeing they were equally guilty with such who are left out. The grace of God is magnified, not so much by the number of persons on whom it is conferred, as by the sovereignty of it, the circumstances of the persons interested in it, and the manner in which it is bestowed.


[1] Remonstr. in Coll. Hag. art. 2. p. 134, 135; Curcellaeus, p. 360: Limborch, p. 319; Whitby, p. 143; ed. 2.111.

[2] Ibid, p. 123; ed. 2, 120.

[3] Obadiah How's Universalist Examined, c. 11, p. 149, 150.

[4] Vide R. Sol. Jarchi in 1oc.

Gill Index