SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS NOT PURCHASED BY CHRIST.

By Job Hupton

 

 

THAT Christ made a purchase I shall not attempt to deny : it is at truth; a truth in which the glory of God shines with lustre ineffable, and from which flows abundant felicity, with freeness to man. He purchased the church with his own blood. We read of the "purchased possession ; " but what is it? We are not authorized to say that it is either glory or grace, or any spiritual blessing. The purchased possession" is the people to whom it is said, " ye are not your own, but are bought with a price;" ''the general assembly whose names are written in heaven ; " the church of the first born; " " his inheritance ; " his possession.

 

These he has redeemed from all evil; sin, the Curse of the law, the wrath of God, the dominion of of Satan, death, the grave, and the gulp of hell; and he has redeemed them unto himself and his Father, out of all nations under heaven.

 

It is proper, it is scriptural, yea it is truly evangelical to say, that he has purchased his people, but it is, I presume, improper, anti-scriptural, and un-evangelical, to say that he purchased spiritual blessings. If these be the purchase of his blood, he must have purchased them either for himself or others. Was it for himself? without hesitation, no : he wanted them not. He ever had, he now has, and he always will have, all the fulness of the riches of eternal blessedness dwelling in himself. Which of all the spiritual blessings mentioned in the gospel did he want, in whom dwelleth all the fulness of the godhead bodily ; and in whom, as Mediator, it pleased the Father, that all the fulness of the blessings of grace, and the blessings of glory should dwell ? Even when he hang upon the accursed tree, he was God over all, blessed for ever ; and had in himself whatever comes under the notion of a spiritual blessing. He could never want the streams, who is himself the ever abounding and overflowing fountain. It would be absurd to say, or even to think that he purchased those things for himself in time, which, as Mediator, he had before time in full possession.

Did he purchase them for others ? If he did it must be either for angels or men. If for the angels, it must be either for those that stood or those that fell : not for the former; they stood in no need of purchased blessings, having had all the blessedness that their nature is capable of enjoyment in title, possession, and enjoyment, ever since they were created ; and which they are in no danger whatever of losing: all is confirmed to them by the gracious and immutable will of their great Creator. Not for the latter ; for they, by a sovereign decree of the Almighty, were justly excluded from all blessedness, and destined to suffer the vengeance of eternal fire, as the due reward of their rebellious pride, and the treasonable ambition of their minds.

Was it for men ? then it must be either for the elect or the non-elect. It could not be for the nonelect, for they are the people of the Lord's curse ; reprobate silver shall men call them, because God has " in righteousness " rejected them." They are " vessels of wrath, fitted for destruction," by their own iniquity; and by an eternal, immutable, and equitable decree of the divine will, appointed to that condemnation which their pride, apostasy, insolence, stubbornness, and rebellion have merited; from these every spiritual blessing is withheld, by him Who does what he pleaseth in the armies of heaven, and among the children of men; and who has an indisputable right to do what he will with his own. If the potter has power over the clay to dispose of every part of it as he pleaseth ; how much more has that amazing Being, whose existence is underivative and eternal; whose independence is absolute and unchangeable ; whose peerless sovereignty reigns in its own infinity glory, ever defying the daring attempts of puny mortals to curtail its rights; who has neither superior nor equal; and who has given being to universal nature: how much more has this transcendent Being, compared with whom the whole creation is less than nothing, authority to dispose of the works of his hands as he pleases; to appoint and direct. every creature to what end he will, and to dispense his favours as seemeth good in his sight. His will is his law ; what he wills is good, is just ; it is so because he wills it. " The Lord is in his holy temple, let all the earth keep silence before him." '' Be still," ye haughty worms, " and know that he is God." It is impious in the extreme, to say unto him, " what doest thou'" Tremble at the thought of summoning your judge to your tribunal, to receive judgment from your guilty and polluted lips. Whence your authority to give laws to your Maker, to bound his rights, and to criminate those of his decrees and actions, which do not please your self-righteous pride, which do not comport with your sufficency, and which clash with Your brutal lusts ? Impartial justice reigns with absolute sovereignty, and mingles the rays of its glory with those of discriminating mercy and grace. While the great Eternal grants of the rich blessings of his grace to some men, and withholds them from others, his justice stands unimpeachable; and unimpeachable it must stand, till it is proved that those from whom these favorers are withheld have a natural right to them; for an act of injustice done by one person to another is that person depriving the other of what is his due. And as it can never be proved by the scriptures, that any man on earth ever had, now has, or ever will have any such right to those blessings, it is thought rational to conclude, that in choosing some to salvation, and passing by the rest; in making a covenant of life and peace with none but his elect; in giving Christ to die for his sheep, and not for the goats ; in hiding the mysteries of his gospel from the non elect, though the wise and prudent of this world, and revealing them to the elect, though babes ; in giving faith to the latter, and not bestowing it upon the former; in granting; repentance unto life to these, and leaving those in their impenitence ; and in raising his many sons and daughters to glory, and leaving the world that lieth in wickedest to drop into utter darkness, the Almighty shines in all the Splendor of his eternal justice, as well as in the glory of his stupendous grace ; in all these wondrous acts, he deprives no man of his right.

Presuming that the importance of the subject upon, which I have been writing, will apologize for this digression from my main design ; I shall proceed to say, that as Christ did not purchase spiritual blessings for the non-elect, so neither did he do it for the elect. It is a truth in which my soul rejoices, and will rejoice, that all the elect are, and ever will be, interested in all the unnumbered blessings of the grace of God, but their right to them is not the effect of the Saviour's death. I think it would be found difficult, perhaps impossible, to prove that he purchased the promises of these blessings ; and if not the premises, surely not the blessings promised ; the promises are indeed said to he all in him, yea and amen, to the glory of Cod ; but they are no, where said to be the purchase of his blood : his blood is so far front being the price by which the promise is procured, that it is absolutely the subject of it: one of the jewels by which that casket is enriched.

The covenant of the Trinity is called the covenant of promise. Why ? because in it all the promises were freely granted, and made sure to all the seed. " (God who cannot lie, promised eternal life before the world began." In this single promise all the rest of the promises are included: in promising everlasting life, he promised all its appurtenances, grace, Christ, redemption, justification, pardon, the Hole Spirit and all his graces, regeneration, sanctification, and glorification, these, in all their intrinsic worth, and all their unfading glories, are comprehended in this short phrase,'' eternal life."

There is not, I think, one promise more written in the Bible, in time, than was inscribed in the covenant of grace, before the birth of time. Now if all the promises were made and granted in eternity, and Christ be himself the substance of them all; how are they the purchase of his death ? And if the promises are not purchased by him, the blessings promised are not; the promises and the blessings cannot he divided ; God has, Joined them, let no man put them asunder. Where the promise is given the blessing is granted ; and the gift of the former, and the grant of the latter ; are marked with the same date, Eternity.

If the eternal Father of mercies actually blessed his elect with all spiritual in Christ Jesus, before the world began, how did Christ purchase those blessing, when time had been upon the wing 4000 years ? I cannot conceive in what sense he can be said to purchase, either our title to them, or our enjoyment of them. If the right of a person to a blessing be established, is it necessary either that he should purchase that blessing for himself, or that another should purchase it for him ? Suppose a father bequeaths an inheritance to his son, to be by him freely enjoyed, at a period specified in his testament; does not that bequest supersede the necessity of a purchase ' Now, it is evident that Gol the, eternal Father of all the elect, did in his will and testament, freely bequeath to them, as his children the rich and glorious inheritance of all spiritual blessings, to be by them possessed and enjoyed, in the fulness of time, and to all eternity. The evidence of this fact appears in Eph. i. 3-6. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ, according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love, having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ, to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved." Here the inspired penman, in terms the most plain, positive, and unequivocal, assures us.

That God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ , has chosen a people for himself'.

That he chose them in Christ, and trade them one with him.

That he chose them before the foundation of the world was laid.

That he chose them that they should be holy and without blame before hint in love.

That he predestinated them to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, when he chose them in him.

That he then made them accepted in the beloved.

That he then bequeathed unto them, and absolutely settled, or entailed upon them, all spiritual blessings is him, in whom he chose and accepted them.

That all this was done according to the good pleasure of his will.

And that in all these eternal transactions of his sovereign will, he designed the praise, glory, and honour of the riches of his grace.

These glorious acts and resolutions of the eternal mind, infinitely remote from the shadow of fluctuation, could not he shaken by any external cause.

The fall of man was, far beyond all created imagination, dreadful. By that awful catastrophe, man was at once. deprived of all that rectitude of nature, with which he came out of the hallowed hands of his Maker, and that communion which he had with the Almighty, in his moral perfections, through the medium of the creatures, and the covenant of works, and plunged into a fathomless abyss of guilt, pollution, ignorance, condemnation, misery and death ; the divine law was robbed of its due ; and the glorious Creator most shamefully abused and dishonored, in those perfections of his nature, in which he was known, glorified, and enjoyed by man before his apostasy. But would it be speaking as the oracles of God ; would it be doing the work of an evangelist, to make ourselves of the number of those who corrupt the word of God ; would it be holding fast the form of sound words, or using sound speech that cannot be condemned, to say, that by the fall of man, the decrees, the counsels, and the covenant transactions of Jehovah were changed, that his schemes were disconcerted, that his eternal testament was nullified, or that his elect were deprived of their interest in his love, that they lost his favour, and that their right and title to the blessings of the covenant of grace were forfeited ? Surely not. Had their interest in the special love and peculiar favour of God, and their title to the blessings of his grace, been founded in the covenant of works, they would doubtless, by the transgression of that covenant, have lost all claim to them ; but as they had for their basis, the will of him who is unchangeable, and were guaranteed in a better covenant, one established upon better promises, infinitely too high to be shaken by the fall of man, their interest in them all still remained. Why then talk of the death of Christ as purchasing the love of God for his people, buying heaven for them, restoring them to his favour, and procuring for them a title to spiritual blessings, and a right to the everlasting enjoyment of those blessings. It is freely confessed that the glorious person and perfect work of the Mediator are the medium through which we enjoy every spiritual blessing; but because the God-Man in his mediatorial work, is the channel in which these blessings flow to us, does it follow that he purchased them for us? No more than an executor to a will would, by the performance of his office, purchase for the legatees the legacies therein bequeathed.

Divine grace and all its unnumbered blessings, are the grant of Jehovah the F'ather's eternal will to his chosen, to be by them inherited, through the obedience and death of Christ. To this will Christ is the executor, and as such he obeyed the covenant of works, and died for sin in order that the children of God might fully enjoy those thing, to which they had an eternal title, in that way and by those means which were appointed by the sovereign testator. But does this amount to a purchase ? Or does this work of Christ appear any thing like a price paid for the above blessings.

It is said, Christ himself is the Testator. Granted: but call we from this fairly infer that he purchased the legacies mentioned it, his testament ? As God co-equal with the Father, and with him essentially one, he is joint Testator with him; but was it ever known that it testator made a subsequent purchased of the very thing, which he had bequeathed in his will, for those to whom he had bequeathed them ? No ; they must be truly and properly his own, prior to, or at the time that he makes his will ; and being so, they, by his gift of them, should no change take place in his will, legally become the right of' those to whom they are bequeathed ; and through the death of the Testator, as a means, not a purchase, they enjoy them.

To this purpose speaks the apostle Paul, Heb. Ix. 15. " And for this cause he is the mediator of' the New Testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first Testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance." From what is here said, we learn, that Christ is the Mediator of the New Testament, or covenant; that as Such he died ; that by his death he atoned for the sins of his people who lived under the Old Testament dispensation, and redeemed them, as well as those who live under the New ; and that by means of his death, they who are called receive the promise of eternal inheritance. The death of the incarnate Testator was absolutely necessary, in order to the enjoyment of our inheritance, because God had determined that we should possess and enjoy it by that means, that he might display the glory of his justice, maintain the honour of' his holiness, by inflicting condign punishment upon our guilt, and by receiving ample satisfaction for our crimes, and that his holy law might be magnified and honoured: at the same time that he set forth his stupendous love, his boundless mercy, and his matchless grace, to raise us from the ruins of our fall, to the blissful inheritance of heaven : and in all this I cannot see any thing like a purchase of grace, mercy, heaven and spiritual blessings. The church was purchased for the inheritance, but not the inheritance for the church.

Should it be said by way of objection to the principle upon which I have reasoned ; that if' it were not necessary that the divine Redeemer should purchase spiritual blessings for his people, because they had an eternal and immutable right to them in the covenant of grace ; could it be necessary that he should purchase the church, seeing he had all indisputable right to it, by virtue of the Father's gift of it to him before all worlds ? To this I would reply : the elect being carried away captive, and enslaved by sin and Satan, bound under the curse of the law for transgression, and held by divine justice in that dreadful bondage, and under that tremendous curse, their emancipation, through a price paid to divine justice, as a compensation for their transgression of the law, was absolutely necessary ; because without it they could not enjoy their patrimony. Christ did not purchase them to make them his own ; they were his from eternity ; they fell in Adam ; but they did not cease to be his through the fall. They were "his people," "his children," "his members." before they fell ; and they were the same afterwards. As their union with him was not dissolved, so his interest in them did not cease, through their apostasy. But the holy law being deprived of its right; and divine justice, whose province it is to maintain the honour of the law, being offended by their rebellion ; either the divine purpose that they should enjoy everlasting blessedness, must be relinquished and they must be left eternally in their guilt, to receive the due reward of it in hell; or the divine law and justice mast be deprived of their right, degraded and laid aside ; or else the determination of the divine mind must stand, and the heirs of eternal bliss be liberated, and raised to the enjoyment of their portion, through means by which law and justice receive all their rights, and have their honour and dignity fur ever supported. As neither of the two first could take place without a change in Deity, or God ceasing to be God, the last must come to pass ; and, indeed, so it was fore-ordained of God, whose infinite wisdom " devised means that his banished should not for ever be expelled from him," nor his law and justice deprived of their due honour. And had the blessings in question been forfeited to law and justice by sin, they must have been redeemed or purchased, before we could have enjoyed them ; but this not being the case, the notion of their being purchased, can, it is thought, have no foundation in truth.

Nor does the sentiment which I have advanced, depreciate the glory of the Saviour, the value of his death, or the preciousness of his blood. Every thing is beautiful in its order, and excellent when it answers its divinely appointed end. The great Immanuel is as glorious and excellent in our salvation, as he would, or could have been had he purchased all spiritual blessings for us. For him to remove every legal and judicial impediment to our possession and enjoyment of those blessing, is as great as if he had purchased them for us. Whatever is pretended, it can never be to the honour of our matchless Redeemer, to say that his death effected that which it never was designed to effect, or that his blood redeemed that which never was forfeited, and purchased for his people a title to those things in which they were eternally interested, and which they never lost, nor could lose, without an imperfection in the divine will, which to suppose would be impious. His name is glorified when a just statement is given, and a true representation is made, of the real design of Jehovah the Father, in his appointment of him to his office, and his mission to our world; but as it could not be his design, that be should purchase those rights and privileges for his people, in time, which he freely and immutably granted them in eternity, he is not honoured, but dishonored by the doctrine of purchased blessings.

I conclude by observing that if it is inaccurate to say that Christ purchased that love of God for his children in time, which he fixed upon them before time, it cannot be accurate to say, that he purchased those blessings for them which ever were, and ever will be inseparable from that love ; and that as it is incongruous to say, that he purchased the covenant of grace, it cannot be congruous to say that he purchased the blessings which arc contained in it, and which, nothing in time, nothing in eternity, can separate from it ; and if it would be untrue to say, that he purchased for them an interest in himself', can it be true to affirm, that he purchased for them those blessings, with which they are, and ever were, blessed in HIM.