Part 4
Chapter 2—Of Redemption


Dr. Whitby says,[1] that the confirmation of the doctrine of universal redemption, from the suffrage of all antiquity, is sufficiently done by Vossius, in his Historia Pelagiana,where he lays down these two positions,

1. That "the sense of the ancient church was, that God wills the conversion and salvation of all."

2. That "it was the judgment of the ancient church, that Christ had provided an universal remedy for the universal fault of men, by paying a ransom of infinite value, lest any one should perish through the defect of it." He further observes, that this is more copiously done by Mr. Dally (he means Monsieur Daille) by producing the testimonies of the ancients from the first to the twelfth century; and concluding thus, "Certainly I do not find one in the first eight ages of Christianity that has said absolutely, and in terms, as is commonly said, that Christ died only for the elect." Here the Doctor rests, and would have his readers trust to and depend upon the conclusions and assertions of these two men. Vossius's Pelagian History must be allowed to be a very considerable performance, and is the fund and magazine of antiquity for the Arminians. Dr. Twisse intended an answer to it, and in one of his books says,[2] he had entered upon it; but death I suppose prevented his design, at least it never was published; such a work, by so learned a hand, might have been of great service. But why should we trust to Vossius's account of the judgment of the ancient church in this point, since Dr. Whitby himself would not trust him in another? namely, original sin; though he was so very positive as to say "The catholic church always so judged;"and the Doctor tells us,[3] that "upon an impartial search he found that all the passages he had collected were impertinent, or at least insufficient to prove the point." This gives no encouragement to depend on him. And inasmuch as the several passages cited by Vossius are also, with many others, produced by Monsieur Daille, I shall only attend to the latter, and to those only of the first four centuries; and though he observes, that in these and the four following ages, none ever said absolutely,and in express terms,that Christ died only for the elect;yet it does not follow, but that some might say it, in other terms and words equivalent, of the same signification, and which amounted to the same sense. It must be owned, that Monsieur Daille has collected a large number of testimonies indeed; but when it is considered, that multitudes of them are only expressed in Scripture language, and so capable of the same sense the Scriptures are; others regard men of all sorts, ranks, and degrees; others Jews and Gentiles; others the sufficiency of Christ's death for all; and others, some general benefit by it, as the resurrection of the dead; their number will be greatly reduced, and very few left to be of any service to the cause for which they are brought; besides, it will be made to appear in the following Sections,that the ancients often describe the persons for whom Christ died by such characters as cannot agree with all men.


[1] Discourse, etc. p. 193; ed 2. 195; Postscript, p. 566; ed. 2. 543.

[2] Riches of God's Grace, against Hord, part 1, p. 83.

[3] Preface to Discourse, etc. p. 4: ed. 2. p. 2.