The
CAUSE OF GOD AND TRUTH.

Part 4
Chapter 2—Of Redemption

Section 5—Ecclesia Smyrnensis. A.D. 169.


The church at Smyrna wrote a letter to the churches in Pontus, and to the church at Philomelium, as it is thought, about the year 169, giving an account of the sufferings of some martyrs, and particularly of Polycarp, their former bishop; in which they take notice of the stupidity of some persons, who used their interest to prevent the Christians having the dead body of Polycarp given them; lest leaving their crucified Christ, they should begin to worship him; being ignorant, say they,[1] that we can never leave that Christ, ton uper tes tou pantos kosmou ton sozomenon soterias pathonta, "who suffered for the salvation of the whole world of them that are saved, nor worship any other." This passage Monsieur Daille[2] thinks makes nothing to the purpose, since it does not deny that Christ died for others besides those who are really saved. But surely if these pious Christians had believed that Christ died for all men, for them that are saved, and for them that are not saved, they would never have expressed themselves in this restrictive manner; but would have chose to have carried the extent of Christ's sufferings and death to the utmost, when they were declaring their great regard for him, and the great benefit of salvation men receive by him. Besides, these words manifestly show, in what sense this very ancient church understood those universal phrases, the world, the whole world, and all men, in Scripture, for whom Christ is said to give himself and die, and for whose sins he is said to be a propitiation; that these design a certain number of men that are and will be saved. As to the version of Ruffinus, urged by this author, rendering the passage thus, "who endured death for the salvation of the whole world;" it is not worthy of regard, since it is an imperfect one, omitting the words ton sozomenon. And here I choose to take notice of a citation made by Monsieur Daille,[3] and after him by Dr. Whitby,[4] out of an epistle of Polycarp, bishop of this church at Smyrna, said to be written A.D. 107, to the Philippians, in which he thus speaks concerning Christ, "who," says he, "will come to judge the quick and the dead; on to aima ekzetesei o Theos apo ton apeithounton auto,whose blood God will require of them that believed not in him;" from whence they conclude, that according to this ancient venerable bishop, Christ died for them that perish, as well as those that are saved. It is something strange, that Monsieur Daille should cite a passage out of an epistle, the genuineness of which he himself[5] has called in question; and, should it appear to be genuine, as it is thought to be by many learned men, it will be of no service to him, or to the Doctor, or to the cause they espoused, since God may be said to require, as he certainly will require, the blood of Christ of the unbelieving Jews who shed it; and indeed of them only, who said, His blood be on us and on our children; without supposing that his blood was shed for them; yea, on the contrary it appears, that his blood was not shed for them, both from their final unbelief, and from its being required of them. And of as little service are his citations[6] from Minutius Felix, Athenagoras, Tatian, and Theophilus of Antioch; since they only express the patience, goodness, power, and wisdom of God in creation and providence, and his great regard to repenting sinners; but not a syllable of Christ's dying for men, much less for every individual of mankind.


ENDNOTES:

[1] Epist. Ecclesiastes Smyrn. apud Euseb. Ecclesiastes Hist. 1. 4, c. 15, p. 134.

[2] Page 945.

[3] Page 754.

[4] Postscript to the Discourse, etc. p. 567; ed. 2. 544.

[5] Vide Fabrieii Bibl. Graec. 1. 5, c. 1, s. 14, p. 43.

[6] Page 756-758.