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of what faith is : and the rather, as his definition of faith will conduce, still farther, to demonstrate, that redemption is, in his judgment, not strictly universal, b:it limited.
“We must,” says this honest master in Israel, “ have the right faith, the lively faith, the faith that bringeth salvation : which consisteth in believing that Christ died for my sins sake.--I must not stand in generalities, as to believe that Christ suffered under Pontius Pilate: but I must believe that that was done for my sake, to redeem with his passion my sins and all theirs which believe and trust in him. If I believe so, then I shall not be deceived (n).I must believe, for myself, that his blood was shed for me (o).” Such an account of true faith, as this necessarily infers the actual limitation of redemption. For, where is the peculiar privilege of believing that “Christ shed his blood for me,” if it be true, that he actually shed his blood for every body? If he redeemed the entire race of mankind, without exempting so much as one (which the Arminian doctrine of universal redemption supposes); his blood must of course have been shed for me among the rest, whether I believe it or no. Where, then, is either the use, or the importance of this faith, on the hypothesis of an unlimited ransom (P)? I conclude, therefore, that the reformer, who has lain down sueh a definition of “the faith which bringeth salvation ;" could never, in the very nature of things, suppose the ransom to be unlimited. And, indeed, as we have already shown, he himself has expressly declared, that he did not suppose it.
But, though he believed redemption not to be absolutely universal, this belief of his did by no
(n) Ibid. p. 436.
(0) Ibid. p. 609. (p) Add to this, that the tenet of universal redemption would instead of inducing us to seek for an application of Christ's death to ourselves in particular, be the ready and effectual way to make
stand in generalities :" which, as we have just heard, good Latimer so expressly cautions us against standing in.
means arise (any more than ours) from a diminutive idea of the worth and value of Christ's atonement. He acknowledged its intrinsic sufficiency to redeem every individual of the human species, though he denied its actual universality. Thus he speaks.
Notwithstanding his death might be sufficient for (7) all the whole world, yet, for all that, no man shall enjoy that same benefit, but only they that believe in him (r).”—And who are they that shall believe and be saved ? Let Latimer answer the question. “ Therefore he is called Jesus, because he shall save his people from their sins; as the angel of God himself witnesseth (s).”
All that now remains, is,
(9.) To enquire into what he has delivered concerning the doctrine of final perseverance.
There was a time, when Latimer seems to have rather symbolized with some of the Lutherans, on this article. Luther himself did not believe the being of a God, more firmly, than he believed the total and final perseverance of the regenerate elect. But soon after Luther's death, some of those protestants, who called themselves by his name, began to deviate from the purity and strictness of that reformer's system. One of these deviations respected the degree of possible apostasy. A branch of nominal Lutherans began to teach, that, though a truly sanctified person could not fall finally from grace, he might nevertheless fall totally: he might make utter shipwreck of faith, for the time being : though he should certainly (by virtue of God's immoveable covenant and election) be regenerated over again, and saved at last. Though this was rather a bungling idea of perseverance, equally illogical and unscriptural, yet it did not clash with that part of the Christian system which asserts the certainty of eventual salvation to all true believers? and so came infinitely short of the absurdity of Arminianism, which supposes, not only a total, but a final defectibility of grace; than which nothing can be more monstrous and profane.
(9) Observe, how carefully Latimer varies his phraseology: he does not say, merely, for the whole world ; but for all the whole world. When he afirmed, in the passages quoted above (see p. 298.) that Christ died for the whole world; he explains bis meaning, by adding, all the faithful, all those that believe. But here, when be speaks of the dignity and sufficiency of Christ's propitiation ; be enlarges the term, and says, for all the whole world. Making it evident, that as, by the whole world, he meant only the world of believers, whom alone he supposed to be actually redeemed by Christ; so, by the still more extensive term of, for all the whole world, he designed, in this place, to signify all mankind at large: for whose redemption, the death of Christ was certainly, in itself, sufficient, and super-sufficient. (r) Ibid.
(8) Ibid. p. 609.
That Latimer once imagined divine grace in the hearts of the regenerate to be totally (though not finally) defectible, appears from that passage, in one of his sermons, where he speaks of a person's being sometimes in, and sometimes out of Christ and the book of life. The passage runs thus: “But you will say, how shall I know that I am in the book of life? how shall I try myself to be elected of God, to everlasting life? I answer; first, we may know, that we may one time be in the book, and another time come out again : as it appeared by David, who was written in the book of life; but, when he sinned, he was out of the book of the favour of God, until he had repented, and was sorry for his faults. So we may be in the book one time; and, afterward, when we forget God and his word, come out of the book : that is, out of Christ, which is the book. And in that book are written all believers (t).”—God forbid, that I should so much as wish to represent any thing differently from what it really is. I acknowledge, that, when Latimer delivered the above paragraph, he seemed, on this head, to have coincided in judgment with the
(t) Ibid. p. 846, 847.
new Lutherans. And I likewise add, that he was the only one of all our English reformers, who trod in this bye-path. Consequently, his private opinion, in which he was perfectly singular, and absolutely stood alone, affects not the public doctrine of the church of England.
But if Latimer was, at one time, somewhat excentric, in point of total defectibility; he was stedfast as a rock, and true as a needle to the magnet, in point of final perseverance. This I aver; and now proceed to prove.
“ All they," says Latimer, " that believed in Christ, since Adam was created, were saved by him (u).”
Speaking of the fear of death, from which many eminent saints are not entirely delivered, he thus goes on: “ Yea, the elect people of God, the faithful, having the beholding of his face, though God hath always preserved them (such a good God is he to them that believe in him, that he will not suffer them to be tempted above that they are able to bear); yet, for all that, there is nothing that they complain of more sore, than this horror of death (a).”
To that artful question, asked by the papists, do you think that all your catholic forefathers are damned ? Bishop Latimer judiciously answers, that, as many of them as went to heaven, were saved by virtue of God's electing grace, and were finally preserved by it to life eternal. “ To the question, of our forefathers: God knoweth his elect, and diligently watcheth and keepeth them, so that all things serve to their salvation. The nature of fire is, to burn all that is laid in it: yet God kept the three young men in Babylon, that they burnt not. And Moses saw a bush on fire; but it burnt not.
So false doctrine burneth as the fire: it corrupteth.
But God kept his elect, that they were not corrupted with it; but always put their trust in one everliving God, through the death of Jesus Christ our Lord. In Elias' time, idolatry and superstition reigned : so that Elias said, Lord, they have destroyed thy altars, and slain thy prophets and preachers, and I am left alone. But the Lord answered him, I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed their knees to Baal. So God, I trust, reserved our forefathers, in so perilous times, more graciously than we can think (y).”
According to this good man, satan is an enemy whom every true believer is certain of overcoming. “ The devil hath no farther power than God will allow him. The devil can go no farther, than God permitteth him to do. Which thing shall strengthen our faith: insomuch that we shall be sure to overcome bim (z).”—God " is able to help us in our distress, and grant our requests. And though these be great things, yet we need not to despair ; but consider that he is Lord over heaven and eartb, that he is able to do for us, and that he will do so, being our Father and our Lord, and King over all things (a).”
Latimer very rightly deduces the final perseverance of the saints, from the love which God bears in Christ to his believing people. “ In the prophets, every where, he setteth out his great love which be hath towards us, saying, can a woman forget her own child, which she bath born into the world ? yea, and though she do forget the same, yet I will not forget thee. It is a rare thing, when the devil so much prevaileth in parents, that a mother should neglect or forget her own child. Yet, saith God, though it were so, that she could forget her child, yet will not I forget thee when thou believest in my son Christ. For the devil cannot prevail against me, though he
(y) Ibid. p. 261. VOL. I.
(z) Ibid. p. 463.
(a) Ibid. p. 466.