The
CAUSE OF GOD AND TRUTH.

Part 4
Chapter 2—Of Redemption

Section 9—Cyprian. A.D. 250.


Cyprian, in many places of his writings, very expressly limits Christ's sufferings and death to certain persons described by him; as when he says,[1] "Though we are many shepherds, yet we feed but one flock; and ought to gather together and cherish oves universas quas Christus sanguine suo et passione quaesivit ‘all the sheep which Christ hath sought up by his blood and sufferings;' nor should we suffer our supplicant and grieving brethren to be cruelly despised and trodden down by the proud presumption of some persons." And in another place he asks,[2] "What can be a greater sin, or what a fouler spot, than to stand against Christ, than to scatter his church? quam ille sanguine suo praeparabit et condidit, ‘which he has prepared and obtained by his own blood?'" And elsewhere he says,[3] ‘Christ is the bread off life; et panis hic omnium non est, sed noster est;and this bread does not belong to all, but is ours;' and as we say, our Father,because he is the Father of them that understand and believe, so we call Christ our bread, qui corpus contigimus,‘who have touched his body;'" in which words all but believers are excluded from having any share in Christ, the bread of life. And having in another place[4] mentioned Ezekiel 9:4, where a mark is ordered to be set upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and cry for the abominations of Jerusalem,he makes this observation; "This sign belongs to the passion and blood of Christ; et quisquis in hoc signo invenitur,‘and whosoever is found with this sign shall be preserved safe and whole?'" which is approved by the testimony of God, saying, And the blood shall be for a sign upon the houses where you are, etc.What preceded in type before the Lamb was slain, is fulfilled in Christ, the truth following after; as there Egypt being smitten, the Jewish people could not escape but by the blood and token of the Lamb; so when the world shall begin to be wasted and smitten, quisquis in sanguine et signo Christi inventus fuerit, solus evadet, "whosoever shall be found in the blood, and with the mark of Christ, shall only escape." From whence it is evident, that Cyprian did not think that every individual of mankind is interested in the blood and death of Christ. And a little after, in the same epistle,[5] speaking of immortality, he has these words; "This grace Christ imparts, this gift of his mercy he gives, by subduing death through the victory of the cross; redimendo credentem pretio sauguinis sui,‘by redeeming the believer with the price of his blood;' by reconciling man to God the Father, and by quickening the dead with the heavenly regeneration." And in one of his tracts,[6] animating the saints against the fears of death, he says, "Let him be afraid to die qui non Christi cruce et passione censetur,‘who is not reckoned to have any part in the cross and sufferings of Christ;' let him be afraid to die who will pass from this death to a second death." And a little after,[7] "We who live in hope, and believe in God, and trust, Christum passum esse pro nobis, ‘that Christ has suffered for us, and rose again;' abiding in him, and rising again by him and in him, why should we be unwilling to depart hence out of this world? or, why should we mourn over and grieve for our departed friends, as if they were lost. And in another place,[8] giving an account of our Lord's behavior before Pilate, makes this remark, "This is he, who when he held his peace in his passion, will not be silent afterwards in his vengeance: this is our God; id est, omnium, sed fidelium el credentium Deus,that is, not the God of all, but of the faithful and believers." To all which may be added another passage of his, which runs thus,[9] "Writing to the seven churches, and intimating to each of them their sins and transgressions, he said repent;to whom? but quos pretio magno sui samguinis redemerat,‘whom he had redeemed with the great price of his blood.'" This last passage is indeed taken out of an epistle which Erasmus thought was not Cyprianbut Cornelius's, bishop of Rome; however, he afterwards judged it to be a learned piece, and not unworthy of Cyprian; Gravius and Palemius affirm it to be his;[10] and if it was Cornelius's, the citation may be properly enough made here, since he was contemporary with Cyprian. The passages cited by Monsieur Daille[11] from this writer, as being on the side of universal redemption, only set forth either the great encouragement given by God to penitent sinners, or that Christ came to be the Savior of mankind, to be given unto men, and that he came for the sake of all; which Cyprian explains in the very same passage,[12] of all sorts of men, learned and unlearned, of every age and sex; as in another of them, by a simile taken from the general and equal diffusion of the sun's light, he shows,[13] that Christ, the sun and true day, equally gives the light of eternal life in sua ecclesia, "in his own church;" and that the Israelites had an equal measure of the manna, without any difference of age or sex; so the heavenly grace is equally divided to all without any difference of sex or years, and without respect of persons; and the gift of spiritual grace poured forth super omnem Dei populum, "upon all the people of God." Some testimonies are next produced by Monsieur Daille[14] out of Novatian, Medhodius, and Arnobius; the first of these writers, in one of the passages cited, signifies that, there is hope of salvation for men in Christ: which is not at all against us; for hope is not taken away, but established upon better grounds by the doctrine of particular, than by that of general redemption; since according to the latter, all men are indeed redeemed by Christ, but it was possible that none might be saved by him; whereas the former secures the certain salvation of all the redeemed ones: and in the other of them he suggests, that the anger, hatred, and threatenings of God, are for the good of men, and in order to move upon them, and bring them to that which is right and good; but not a word does he say concerning the death of Christ, and redemption by it. The second of these authors referred to, explains the text in Romans 9:21, one vessel to honor, and another to dishonor,thus, "not that God makes some good and others evil, but that is to be understood of the power God has of doing what he will." Nor do we say that God makes any man evil, but that man made himself so; though we think none are good but whom God makes good. This writer indeed suggests, that it is the will of God that all men should be good, virtuous, and faithful, which is true of his approving but not of his determining will; and also intimates that all the good things of God are common to all, which in some sense holds good of the common bounties of providence, but not of the riches of grace. The third proposes a pagan objection, formed thus; "If Christ came to be the Savior of mankind, why does he not, with equal bounty, deliver all alike?" This objection, supposes, that according to the Christian scheme, all men were not delivered or redeemed by Christ. Arnobius answers to it, not by asserting a deliverance or redemption of every individual of mankind, but by putting another question thus, "Does not he equally deliver, who equally calls all?"In which he argues indeed, from the extent of the call to the extent of the deliverance; but then the call he speaks of seems to be not of every individual person, but of some of all sorts; a grant from Christ of coming to him to some of all sorts, sublimibus, infimis, servis, faeminis, pueris,"high and low, servants, women, and children;" which are his own words;[15] and consequently the deliverance he argues from hence must be only of some of all sorts; which is what we contend for.


ENDNOTES:

[1] Ep. 67, p. 164.

[2] Ep. 72, p. 180.

[3] De Oratione Dominics, p. 268.

[4] Ad Demetrianum, p. 283.

[5] Page 284.

[6] De Mortalitate, p. 208.

[7] Page 299.

[8] De Bono Patienttiae, p. 319.

[9] In Epist. ad Novatianum. p. 436, 437.

[10] Vide Rivet. Crit. Sacr. 1. 2, c. 15, p. 212.

[11] Page 768-770.

[12] De Oratione Dominica, 270.

[13] Ep. 76, p. 212.

[14] Page770, 771.

[15] Arnobius adv. Gentes, 1. 2, p. 109.