Of the objects of redemption by christ


John Gill


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Thirdly, the objects of redemption come next under consideration. These are a special and distinct people; they are said to be "redeemed from the earth"; that is, from among the inhabitants of the earth, as after explained, "redeemed from among men"; and one end of Christ's redemption of them is, "to purify to himself a peculiar people", #Re 14:3,4 Tit 2:14. The inspired writers seem to delight in using the pronoun "us", when speaking of the death of Christ, and redemption by it; thereby pointing at a particular people, as the context shows: "Christ died for us"; God "delivered him up for us all; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us; hath redeemed us unto God by thy blood", #Ro 5:8 8:32 Tit 2:14 Re 5:9. They are many indeed for whom Christ has given "his life a ransom", a ransom price, the price of their redemption, #Mt 20:28. But then these are so described as show they are a peculiar people; they are the "many" who are ordained unto eternal life; the "many" the Father has given to Christ; the many whose sins he bore on the cross; the "many" for whom his blood was shed for the remission of their sins; the "many" who are made righteous by his obedience; the "many" sons, he, the Captain of their salvation, brings to glory. That the objects of redemption are a special people, will appear by the following observations.


1. The objects of redemption are such who are the objects of God's love; for redemption, as has been observed, flows from the love of God and Christ; and which love is not that general kindness shown in providence to all men, as the creatures of God; but is special and discriminating; the favour which he bears to his own people, as distinct from others; "Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated": and the love which Christ has expressed in redemption is towards his own that were in the world, whom he has a special right and property in, "his" people, "his" sheep, "his" church; as will be seen hereafter.


2. The objects of election and redemption are the same; "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect?--It is Christ that died!" died for the elect: so the same, us all, for whom God delivered up his Son, are those whom he foreknew, and whom he predestinated; and whose calling, justification, and glorification are secured thereby, #Ro 8:30-33 and the same us, who are said to be chosen in Christ, before the foundation of the world, have redemption in him through his blood, #Eph 1:4,7. Election and redemption are of equal extent; no more are redeemed by Christ than are chosen in him; and these are a special people: what is said of the objects of the one is true of the objects of the other. Are the elect the beloved of the Lord? and does the act of election spring from love? Election presupposes love: so the redeemed are the beloved of God and Christ; and their redemption flows from love. Are the elect a people whom God has chosen for his peculiar treasure? the redeemed are purified by Christ, to be a peculiar people to himself.  Do the vessels of mercy, afore prepared for glory, consist of Jews and Gentiles; even of them who are called of both? so Christ is the propitiation, not for the sins of the Jews only, or the Redeemer of them only; but for the sins of the Gentile world also, or the Redeemer of his people among them. Are the elect of God a great number, of all nations, kindreds, people, and tongues? Christ has redeemed those he has redeemed unto God, out of every kindred, tongue, people, and nation. Is it true of the elect, that they cannot be totally and finally deceived and perish? it is true of the ransomed of the Lord, that they shall come to Zion with everlasting joy; Christ will never lose any part of the purchase of his blood.


3. Those for whom Christ has died, and has redeemed by his blood, are no other than those for whom he became a Surety. Now Christ was the Surety of the better testament, or covenant of grace; and of course became a Surety for those, and for no other, than who were interested in that covenant, in which he engaged to be the Redeemer: Christ's suretyship is the ground and foundation of redemption; the true reason of the sin of his people, and the punishment of it, being laid upon him, and of his bearing it; of the payment of the debts of his people, and of redeeming them out of the hands of justice; was because he engaged as a Surety, and laid himself under obligation to do all this. But for those for whom he did not become a Surety, he was not obliged to pay their debts, nor to suffer and die in their room and stead. Christ's suretyship and redemption are of equal extent, and reach to the same objects; they are the Lord's Benjamins, the sons of his right hand, his beloved sons, that Christ, the antitype of Judah, became a surety for, and laid himself under obligation to bring them safe to glory, and present them to his divine Father,


4. The objects of redemption are described by such characters as show them to be a special and distinct people; particularly they are called, the people of God and Christ; "for the transgressions of my people", saith the Lord, "was he stricken"; that is, Christ was, or would be, stricken by the rod of justice, to make satisfaction for their sins, and thereby redeem them from them, #Isa 53:8 and when he was about to come and redeem them, Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, at his birth said, "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel! for he hath visited and redeemed his people"; by sending Christ, the dayspring from on high, as he afterwards calls him, to visit them, and redeem them by his blood, #Lu 1:68,78. Hence, also, the angel that appeared to Joseph, and instructed him to call the Son that should be born of his wife by the name of Jesus, gives this reason, "for he shall save his people from their sins", #Mt 1:21. Now though all men are, in a sense, the people of God, as they are his creatures, and the care of his providence; yet they are not all redeemed by Christ; because those that are redeemed by Christ are redeemed "out of every people"; and therefore cannot be every or all people, #Re 5:9 the redeemed are God's covenant people; of whom he says, "They shall be my people, and I will be their God": they are his portion and his inheritance; a people near unto him, both with respect to union and communion; a people given to Christ, to be redeemed and saved by him; of whom it is said, "Thy people shall be willing", &c.


5. The objects of redemption; or those for whom Christ laid down his life a ransom price, are described as "sheep"; as the sheep of Christ, in whom he has a special property, being given him of his Father; and who are represented as distinct from others, who are not his sheep, #Joh 10:15,26,29 and such things are said of them as can only agree with some particular persons; as, that they are known by Christ; "I know my sheep", not merely by his omniscience, so he knows all men; but he knows them distinctly as his own; "the Lord knows them that are his", from others; he has knowledge of them, joined with special love and affection for them; as he has not brothers, to whom he will say, "Depart from me: I know you not". Likewise Christ is "known" by those sheep of his he has laid down his life for; they know him in his person, offices, and grace; whereas there are some that neither know the Father nor the Son; but those know the voice of Christ; that is, the gospel of Christ, the joyful sound; whereas the gospel is hid to them that are lost: and the sheep Christ has died for "follow" him, imitate him in the exercise of grace, of love, patience, humility, &c. and in the performance of duty; and this is said of the redeemed from among men; that they "follow the Lamb whithersoever he goes", #Re 14:4. It is also affirmed of those sheep, that they shall "never perish"; whereas the goats, set on Christ's left hand, shall he bid to go, as "cursed", into everlasting fire, #Mt 25:33,34.


6. The objects of redemption are the sons of God; redemption and adoption belong to the same persons; according to the prophecy of Caiaphas, Christ was to die, not for the nation of the Jews only, but to "gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad" throughout the Gentile world, #Joh 11:52 and those who are predestinated to adoption by Christ are said to have redemption in him, through his blood, #Eph 1:5,7 and the blessing of adoption, in the full enjoyment of it, in the resurrection, is called "the redemption of the body"; when redemption, as to the application of it, will be complete also, #Ro 8:23. Now these sons, or children of God, are a peculiar number of men, who are given of God to Christ, to redeem; the seed promised to him in covenant, that he should see and enjoy; and to whom he stands in the relation of the everlasting Father; these are they on whose account he became incarnate, "took part of the same flesh and blood"; and these are the many sons he brings to glory, #Heb 2:10,13,14. Now these are not all men; "the children of the flesh", or such as are never born again, they are "not the children of God"; only such are openly and manifestly the children of God who believe in Christ; and this is owing to special grace, to distinguishing love; and is a favour that is only conferred on some, #Ro 9:8 Ga 3:26 Joh 1:12 1Jo 3:1.


7. The objects of redemption are the church and spouse of Christ; it is the church he has loved, and given himself as a sacrifice and ransom price for; it is the church he has purchased with his blood; even the general assembly, the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven; that is, the elect of God, whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life, #Eph 5:25 Ac 20:28 of that church of which Christ is the head and husband, he is the Redeemer; "thy Maker is thine husband; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel!" #Isa 54:5. This cannot be said of all communities and bodies of men: the whore of Babylon is not the spouse of Christ; nor sects under the influence of false teachers, though there may be "threescore queens, and fourscore concubines", of this sort; yet, says Christ, "my dove, my undefiled, is but one"; and who only is redeemed by Christ, and espoused to him, #So 6:9.


Now from all this it appears, that redemption is not universal, is not of all men; for though they are many for whom the ransom price is paid; yet though all are many, many are not all; and if the redeemed are such who are the objects of God's special love and favour, then not all men; for there are some of whom it is said, "He that made them, will not have mercy on them; and he that formed them, will show them no favour", #Isa 27:11. If they are the elect of God who are redeemed by Christ, and them only, then not all men; for all are not chosen; "The election hath obtained it"; and "the rest are blinded", #Ro 11:7 if only those are redeemed for whom Christ became a surety, then not all men; since Christ did not engage to pay the debts of all men; and if they are the people of God and Christ, then not all; since there are some on whom God writes a "loammi", saying, "Ye are not my people; and I will not be your God", #Ho 1:9. And if they are the sheep of Christ, to whom he gives eternal life; then not the goats, who will go into everlasting punishment; and if they are the children of God, and the church and spouse of Christ; then not all men; for all do not bear these characters, nor stand in these relations. What may be further necessary, will be to produce some reasons, or arguments, against universal redemption; and to give answer to such scriptures as are brought in favour of it. It should be observed, that it is agreed on both sides, that all are not eventually saved: could universal salvation be established, there would be no objection to universal redemption; the former not being the case the latter cannot be true; Christ certainly saves all whom he redeems.


7a. First, I shall give some reasons, or produce some arguments against the universal scheme of redemption. And,


7a1. First. The first set of arguments shall be taken from hence,

that universal redemption reflects highly on the perfections

of God; and what is contrary to the divine perfections,

cannot be true; for God cannot deny himself, nor say, nor do

anything contrary to his nature and attributes.


7a1a. The universal scheme greatly reflects on the love of God to

men: it may, at first sight, seem to magnify it, since it

extends it to all; but it will not appear so; it lessens it,

and reduces it to nothing. The scriptures highly commend the

love of God, as displayed in the death of his Son, and in

redemption by him; but what kind of love must that be, which

does not secure the salvation of any by it? it is not that

love which God bears to his own people, which is special and

distinguishing; when, according to the universal scheme, God

loved Peter no more than he did Judas; nor the saints now in

heaven, any more than those that are damned in hell; since

they were both loved alike, and equally redeemed by Christ;

nor is it that love of God, which is immutable, invariable,

and unalterable; since, according to this scheme, God loves

men with so intense a love, at one time, as to give his Son

to die for them, and wills that they all should be saved;

and afterwards this love is turned into wrath and fury; and

he is determined to punish them with everlasting

destruction. What sort of hove must this be in God, not to

spare his Son, but deliver him up to death for all the

individuals of mankind, for their redemption; and yet, to

multitudes of them, does not send them so much as the

gospel, to acquaint them with the blessing of redemption by

Christ; and much less his Spirit, to apply the benefit of

redemption to them; nor give them faith to lay hold upon it

for themselves? Such love as this is unworthy of God, and of

no service to the creature.


7a1b. The universal scheme, highly reflects on the wisdom of God:

it is certain, God is "wonderful in counsel", in contriving

the scheme of redemption; and is "excellent in working", in

the execution of it: he is the wise God, and our Saviour;

and is wise as such. But where is his wisdom in forming a

scheme, in which he fails of his end? there must be some

deficiency in it; a want of wisdom, to concert a scheme,

which is not, or cannot be carried into execution, at least

as to some considerable part of it. Should it be said, that

the failure is owing to some mens not performing the

conditions of their redemption required of them; it may be

observed, either God did know, or did not know, that these

men would not perform the conditions required: if he did not

know, this ascribes want of knowledge to him; which surely

ought not to be ascribed to him that knows all things: if he

did know they would not perform them, where is his wisdom,

to provide the blessing of redemption, which he knew

beforehand, would be of no service to them? Let not such a

charge of folly, be brought against infinite Wisdom.


7a1c. The universal scheme, highly reflects on the justice of

God: God is righteous in all his ways and works; and so in

this of redemption by Christ; and, indeed, one principal end

of it is, "To declare the righteousness of God, that he

might be just", or appear to be just, "and the justifier of

him which believeth in Jesus". But if Christ died for the

sins of all men, and the punishment of their sins is

inflicted on him, and bore by him, and yet multitudes of

them are everlastingly punished for them, where is the

justice of God? It is reckoned unjust with men, to punish

twice for the same act of offence: if one man pays another

man's debts, would it be just with the creditor to exact,

require, and receive payment again at the hands of the

debtor? If Christ has paid the debts of all men, can it be

just with God to arrest such persons, and cast them into the

prison of hell, till they have paid the uttermost farthing?

Far be it from the Judge of all the earth to do so, who will

do right.


7a1d. The universal scheme, reflects on the power of God; as if

he was not able to carry his designs into execution;

whereas, "The Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot

save"; but, according to this scheme, it seems as if it was;

for if Christ has redeemed all men, and all men are not

saved, it must be either from want of will in God to save

them, or from want of power: not from want of will; for,

according to this scheme, it is the will of God that every

individual man should be saved: it must be therefore for

want of power; and so he is not omnipotent. Should it be

said, that some men not being saved, is owing to evil

dispositions in them, obstructing the kind influences and

intentions of God towards them; to the perverseness of their

wills, and the strength of their unbelief. But, what is man

mightier than his Maker? Are the kind influences of God, and

his gracious intentions, to be obstructed by the corrupt

dispositions of men? Is not be able to work in them, both to

will and to do, of his good pleasure? Cannot he remove the

perverseness of their wills, and the hardness of their

hearts? Cannot he, by his power, take away their unbelief,

and work faith in them, to believe in a living Redeemer? Far

be it to think otherwise of him, with whom nothing is too

hard, nor anything impossible.


7a1e. The universal scheme reflects on the immutability of God,

of his love, and of his counsel: God, in the scripture,

says, "I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of

Jacob are not consumed", #Mal 3:6. But, according to this

scheme, it should be, rather, I am the Lord, I change; and

therefore the sons of men, or at least some of them, are

consumed, are lost and perish, though redeemed by Christ;

for the love of God, as has been observed, is changeable

with respect unto them: one while he loves them, so that he

wills their salvation; at another time his love is changed

into hatred, and he is resolved to stir up his wrath to the

uttermost against them. He is said to be "in one mind, and

who can turn him?" and yet, according to this scheme, he is

sometimes in one mind, and sometimes in another; sometimes

his mind is to save them; and at another time his mind is to

damn them. But let not this be said of him, "with whom there

is no variableness, nor shadow of turning".


7a1f. The universal scheme disappoints God of his chief end, and

robs him of his glory. The ultimate end of God, in the

redemption of men; as has been observed; is his own glory,

the glory of his rich grace and mercy; and of his

righteousness, truth, and faithfulness: but if men, any of

them who are redeemed, are not saved, so far God loses his

end, and is deprived of his glory; for should this be the

case, where would be the glory of God the Father, in forming

a scheme which does not succeed, at least with respect to

multitudes? and where would be the glory of the Son of God,

the Redeemer, in working out the redemption of men, and yet

they not saved by him? And where would be the glory of the

Spirit of God, if the redemption wrought out, is not

effectually applied by him? But, on the contrary, the "glory

of God", Father, Son, and Spirit, "is great in the

salvation" of all the redeemed ones, #Ps 21:5.


7a2. Secondly, Another set of arguments against universal

redemption, might be taken from its reflecting on the grace

and work of Christ: whatever obscures, or lessens, the grace

of Christ in redemption, or depreciates his work as a

Redeemer, can never be true. Whereas,


7a2a. The universal scheme reflects on the love and grace of

Christ. The scripture speaks highly of the love of Christ,

as displayed in redemption; and Christ himself intimates,

that he was about to give the greatest instance of his love

to his people, by dying for them, that could be given; even

though and while they were enemies to him, #Joh 15:13. But

what sort of love is that, to love men to such a degree as

to die for them, and yet withhold the means of grace from

multitudes of them, bestow no grace upon them, and at last

say to them, "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting



7a2b. The universal scheme reflects upon the work of Christ;

particularly his work of satisfaction, which was to finish

transgression, to make an end of sin, by satisfying divine

justice for it; by putting away sin by the sacrifice of

himself. Now, either he has made satisfaction for every man,

or he has not: if he has, then they ought to be set free,

and fully discharged, and not punishment inflicted on them,

or their debts exacted of them: if he has not made

satisfaction by redeeming them, this lessens the value of

Christ's work, and makes it of no use, and ineffectual; and

indeed, generally, if not always, the advocates for general

redemption deny the proper satisfaction, and real atonement

by Christ; plainly discerning, that if he has made full

satisfaction for the sins of all men, they must all be

saved; and so the work of reconciliation, which is closely

connected with, and involved in satisfaction, is not perfect

according to the scriptures: Christ, by redeeming then with

the price of his blood, has made satisfaction to justice for

them, and thereby has procured their reconciliation; for

they are said to be reconciled unto God by the death of his

Son; and peace is said to be made by the blood of his cross,

which is the redemption price for them; and he is pacified

towards them for all that they have done; which is meant by

Christ being a propitiation for sin, whereby justice is

appeased. But, according to the universal scheme, God is

only made reconcilable, not reconciled, nor men reconciled

to him: notwithstanding what Christ has done, there may be

no peace to them, not any being actually made for them; and,

indeed, the work of redemption must be very incomplete;

though Christ is a "Rock", as a Saviour and Redeemer, and

his work is "perfect", his world of redemption; and hence

called a "plenteous" one; and Christ is said to have

obtained "eternal redemption" for us; and yet if all are not

saved through it, it must be imperfect; it cannot be a full

redemption, nor of eternal efficacy; the benefit of it, can

at most, be only for a time to some, if any at all, and not

be for ever; which is greatly to depreciate the efficacy of

this work of Christ.


7a2c. According to the universal scheme, the death of Christ,

with respect to multitudes, for whom he is said to die, must

be in vain; for if Christ died to redeem all men, and all

men are not saved by his death, so far his death must be in

vain: if he paid a ransom for all, and all are not ransomed;

or if he has paid the debts of all, and they are not

discharged, the price is given, and the payment made, in

vain. According to this scheme, the death of Christ is no

security against condemnation; though the apostle says, "Who

shall condemn? It is Christ that died!" so that there is no

condemnation to them whose sins are condemned in Christ; and

he has condemned them in the flesh, #Ro 8:1,33 and yet

there is a world of men that will be condemned, #1Co 11:32

and therefore it may be concluded, that Christ did not die for

them, or otherwise they would not come into condemnation; or

else Christ's death has no efficacy against condemnation.


7a2d. The universal scheme separates the works of Christ, the

work of redemption, and the work of intercession; and makes

them to belong to different persons; whereas they are of

equal extent, and belong to the same; for whom Christ died,

for them he rose again from the dead; and that was for their

justification; which is not true of all men: for those he

ascended to heaven, to God, as their God and Father, for the

same he entered into heaven, as their forerunner, and

appears in the presence of God for them and ever lives to

make intercession for them; and for the same for whom he is

an advocate, he is the propitiation; for his advocacy is

founded upon his propitiatory sacrifice: now those for whom

he prays and intercedes, are not all men, himself being

witness; "I pray for them; I pray not for the world",

#Joh 17:9. Yet, according to the universal scheme, he died

for them for whom he would not pray; which is absurd and



7a2e. If Christ died for all men, and all men are not saved,

Christ will not see of the travail of his soul and be

satisfied; as was promised him, #Isa 53:11 for what

satisfaction can he have to see his labour, with respect to

multitudes, all lost labour, or labour in vain? it was the

joy that was set before him, of having those for whom he

suffered and died, with him in heaven: but what joy can he

have, and what a disappointment must it be to him, to see

thousands and millions whom he so loved as to give himself

for, howling in hell, under the everlasting displeasure and

wrath of God?


7a3. Thirdly, Other arguments against universal redemption, may

be taken from the uselessness of it to great numbers of men.



7a3a. To those whose sins are irremissible; whose sins will never

be forgiven, neither in this world, nor in that which is to

come: that there are such sinners, and such sins committed

by them, is certain, from what Christ himself says,

#Mt 12:31,32 and the apostle speaks of a sin which is "unto

death", unto eternal death; which he does not advise to pray

for, #1Jo 5:16 and surely Christ cannot be thought to die

for such sins, for which there is no forgiveness with God,

and no prayer to be made by men for the remission of them;

to say that Christ died for those, is to say that he died in

vain: besides, there were multitudes in hell at the time

when Christ died; and it cannot be thought that he died for

those, as he must, if he died for all the individuals of

mankind; as the men of Sodom, who were then, as Jude says,

"suffering the vengeance of eternal fire"; and the

inhabitants of the whole world, the world of the ungodly,

destroyed by the flood; those that were disobedient in the

times of Noah; whose spirits, as the apostle Peter says,

were, in his time, in the prison of hell, #Jude 5:7 1Pe 3:20

if he died for these, his death must be fruitless and

useless; unless it can be thought, that a jail delivery was

made at his death, and the dominions and regions of hell

were cleared of their subjects.


7a3b. Redemption, if for all, must be useless to those who never

were favoured with the means of grace; as all the nations of

the world, excepting Israel, for many hundred of years were;

whose times of ignorance God winked at and overlooked, and

sent no messengers, nor messages of grace unto them; see

#Ps 147:19,20 Ac 17:30 and since the coming of Christ,

though the gospel has, in some ages, had a greater spread, yet

not preached to all; nor is it now, to many nations, who have

never heard of Christ, and of redemption by him, #Ro 10:14.


7a3c. The universal scheme affords no encouragement to faith and

hope in Christ: redemption, as it ascertains salvation to

some, it encourages sensible sinners to hope in Christ for

it; "Let Israel hope in the Lord, for with him is plenteous

redemption", #Ps 130:7 a redemption full of salvation; and

which secures that blessing to all that believe. But,

according to the universal scheme, men may be redeemed by

Christ, and yet not saved, but eternally perish: what hope

of salvation can a man have upon such a scheme? it requires

no great discernment, nor judgment of things, to determine,

which is most eligible of the two schemes, that which makes

the salvation of some certain; or that which leaves the

salvation of all precarious and uncertain; which, though it

asserts a redemption of all; yet it is possible none may be



7a3d. Hence, even to those who are redeemed and saved, it lays no

foundation for, nor does it furnish with any argument to

engage to love Christ, to be thankful to him, and to praise

him for the redemption of them; since the difference between

them and others, is not owing to the efficacy of Christ's

death, but to their own wills and works; they are not

beholden to Christ, who has done no more for them than for

those that perish; they are not, from any such

consideration, obliged to walk in love, as Christ has loved

them, and given himself for them; since he has loved them no

more, and given himself for them no otherwise, than for them

that are lost; nor are they under obligation to be thankful

to him, and bless his name, that he has redeemed their lives

from destruction; since, notwithstanding his redemption of

them, they might have been destroyed with an everlasting

destruction; it is not owing to what Christ has done, but to

what they have done themselves, performing the conditions of

salvation required, that they are saved from destruction, if

ever they are, according to this scheme: nor can they indeed

sing the song of praise to the Lamb, for their redemption;

saying, "Thou art worthy--for thou wast slain, and hast

redeemed us to God by that blood, out of every kindred, and

tongue, and people, and nation!" since, according to this

scheme, Christ has redeemed every kindred, every tongue, every

people, and every nation.


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