Part 4
Chapter 2—Of Redemption

Section 28—Ambrosius Mediolanensis. A.D. 380.

Ambrose of Milain is very fruitful of expressions which seem to militate against the doctrine of special and particular redemption. Monsieur Daille[1] has collected a large number of them, which Dr. Whitby[2] has given himself the trouble to number, and says, they are no less than twenty-eight; and I could help them to as many more of the same kind, and yet all of them will be but of little service to their cause, when it is observed, that Ambrose, by all for whom Christ died, and whom he redeemed, means all sorts of men, and not every individual: "If," says he,[3] "it is related of Ulysses, that the binding him fast to the tree, delivered him from danger, how much more must it be said, what is really fact, that is, that today the tree of the cross hath delivered omne genus hominum,‘ all kind of men,' from the danger of death." And a little after,[4] "The Lord Christ hung upon the cross that he might deliver onme, genus hominum,‘all kind of men,' from the shipwreck of the world. And when he says that Christ died for, and redeemed the world,such phrases are easily accounted for, since it is abundantly evident that by the world he frequently means the church. Having mentioned[5] those words in Psalm 24:1, The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein:he adds, "which the Greeks call oikumenhn, because it is inhabited by Christ, as he says, Wherefore I will dwell in them;therefore, what is oikoumenh, the world? nisi sancta ecclesia,but the holy church, the temple of God, and habitation of Christ." And in another place he says[6] "The church is called both heaven and the world,because it hath saints comparable to angels and archangels; also it hath the greatest part earthly; it is called likewise orbis terrarum,the world, which is founded upon the seas, and prepared upon the rivers. Moreover, as the world (the church) says, Look not upon me, because I am black." And a little after[7] "Is not the earth the Lord's, and the fullness thereof? Et vere orbis terrarum in ecclesia,' and verily the world in the church;' in which not only Jew, nor Greek, nor Barbarian, nor Scythian, nor bond, nor free, but we are all one in Christ." Moreover, Ambrose very frequently observes, that it is the church for whom Christ suffered and died, and which is redeemed by his blood. "The domestic Jews, bought with a price," he says,[8] "are the Gentiles who have believed, quia pretio sanguinis Christi redempta est ecclesia,for by the price of Christ's blood is the church redeemed." And in another place he says,[9] ‘Seeing Christ suffered for the church,and the church is the body of Christ, faith does not seem to be exercised on Christ by them (meaning schismatics,) by whom his passion is made void, and his body pulled asunder." And elsewhere,[10] speaking of the same sort of persons, he says, "They alone are they who would dissolve the grace of Christ, who tear in pieces the members of the church propter quam passus est Dominus Jesus,for which the Lord Jesus suffered." Again he observes,[11] that "by the woman the heavenly mystery is fulfilled, being prefigured in her the grace of the church, propter quam Christus descendit,‘for which Christ descended,' and has finished that eternal work of man's redemption." Add to all this, that remarkable expression of his, "If Christ," says he,[12] "died for all, yet he suffered for us in an especial manner; quia pro ecelesia passus est,because he suffered for the church." Besides, this father makes use of such epithets and descriptive characters, when he is speaking of the persons for whom Christ became incarnate, and whom he redeemed, as can by no means be applied to all the individuals of human nature, such as believers, repenting sinners, Christ's servants, and his own Christian people; thus he explains[13] those words in Isaiah 9:6, "To us a child is born; nobis qui credimus,‘to us who believe;' not to the Jews, who have not believed; to us, not to heretics; to us, not to the Manichees." On these words, My people shall return hither,he has this note,[14] "What is hither,that is, to me, to my equity and righteousness, and to my worship; and he shall fulfill the day of his life;both which you may so understand, that the people truly shall be redeemed, qui crediderit in eo, which shall believe in him." And in another place he says,[15] "The cross of the Lord is a precipice to unbelievers, sed vita credentibus,but life to them that believe." Again,[16] "The cross is a reproach to the perfidious, but to the believer grace, to the believer redemption, to the believer the resurrection; because Christ has suffered for us." Once more,[17] "Christ is salvation to them that believe, but punishment to unbelievers;" yea, he says,[18] "If thou dost not believe, non descendit tibi, non tibi passus est,he did not come down for thee, he did not suffer for thee." Elsewhere he observes,[19] that "the passion of the Lord is profitable to all, and gives redemption to sinners, quos flagitii poenituit admissi,who repent of sin committed." Again he says,[20] "Be not the servant of the serpent, the enemy and the adversary, but serve the Lord alone, who in this own my, hath redeemed thee, quia ipse ipse suorum redemptio servulorum,for he himself is the redemption of his servants." And was in another place, speaking of the man that healed at the pool of Bethesda, he says,[21] "Then one was cured, not all are healed, or without doubt, unus solus populis Christianus,one Christian people only." Once more,[22] "The Lord Jesus was alone when he redeemed the world, for not a legate, nor a messenger, but the Lord himself alone, saved his own people." He represents the intercession of the Spirit, and the sufferings of Christ, to be for the same persons:[23] the Spirit intercedes for the saints, because the Spirit maketh intercession for us, pro quibus enim Christus passus est,‘for whom Christ suffered,' and whom he hath cleansed by his own blood, for them the Spirit intercedes;" which cannot be said of all men. Moreover, he intimates, as though he thought it impossible that any one should be damned for whom Christ die, and whom he has redeemed by his blood; his words are these;[24] "Can he damn thee, quem redemit a morte,whom he has redeemed from death,' for whom he offered himself, whose life he knows is the reward of his own death?" Moreover, many of his general expressions may be understood of the sufficiency of Christ's blood to redeem all men; for thus, in one place,[25] he expresses himself concerning Christ; "He is free from all, nor does he give the price of redemption for his own soul, the price of whose blood poterat abundare ad universa mundi totius redimenda peccata,could abound to redeem all the sins of the whole world." Besides, it may be further observed, that the general benefit which mankind has by the death of Christ Ambrose sometimes explains of the resurrection,[26] though that which is to eternal life he limits[27] to all Christians, who are the body and members of Christ.


[1] Apolog. p. 799, etc.

[2] Postscript to Discourse, etc. p. 571; ed. 2. 547.

[3] Serm. 50, in Feria 6, Hebdom. Sanct. p. 70.

[4] Serm. 53, in Feria 6, Hebdom. Sanct. p. 71.

[5] Enarrat. in Psalm 48, p. 823.

[6] Ibid. in Psalm 118. Lamed, p. 980.

[7] Ibid. p. 981.

[8] De Abraham 1.2, c. 11, p. 267.

[9] De Obitu Satyr. p. 316.

[10] De Poenitent. 1. 2, c. 4, p. 405.

[11] De Institut. Virg. e. 4, p. 419.

[12] In Luc. 1.6, p. 102.

[13] Enarrat. in Psalm 1. p. 663; et de Fide, 1. 3, c. 4, p. 152.

[14] Ibid. in Psalm 72. p. 855.

[15] Ibid. in Psalm 118. Samech. p. 1007.

[16] Ibid. Schin, p. 1079.

[17] De Filii Divintate, c. 8, p. 284.

[18] De Fide 1. 4, c. 1, p. 163.

[19] De Poenitent. 1:1, c. 15, p. 399.

[20] Enarrat. in Psalm 43, p. 792; et in Psalm 48, p. 826.

[21] De Initiand. c. 4, p. 346.

[22] Epist. 1.4, ep. 31, p. 262; et 1. 6, ep. 51, p. 312.

[23] Ibid. 1. 5, ep. 40, p. 290.

[24] De Jacob. I. 1, e. 6, p. 317.

[25] Euarrat. in Psalm 48, p. 826.

[26] In Exodus p. 441.

[27] In Dominic. Resurrect. serm. 55, p. 75.