OF THE NATURE OF RECONCILIATION, AND THE ARGUMENT TAKEN FROM THENCE.
Arg. 12. Another thing ascribed to the death of Christ, and, by the consent of all, extending itself unto all for whom he died, is RECONCILIATION. This in the Scripture is clearly proposed under a double notion; first, of God to us; secondly, of us to God; both usually ascribed to the death and blood-shedding of Jesus Christ: for those who were enemies he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, Colossians 1:21, 22. And, doubtless these things do exactly answer one another. All those to whom he hath reconciled God, he doth also reconcile unto God: for unless both be effected, it cannot be said to be a perfect reconciliation; for how can it be, if peace be made only on the one side? Yea, it is utterly impossible that a division of these two can be rationally apprehended: for if God be reconciled, not man, why doth not he reconcile him, seeing it is confessedly in his power; and if man should be reconciled, not God, how can he be ready to receive all that come unto him? Now, that God and all and every one in the world are actually reconciled, and made at peace in Jesus Christ, I hope will not be affirmed. But to clear this, we must a little consider the nature of reconciliation as it is proposed to us in the gospel; unto which, also, some light may be given from the nature of the thing itself, and the use of the word in civil things.
Reconciliation is the renewing of friendship between parties before at variance, both parties being properly said to be reconciled, even both he that offendeth and he that was offended. God and man were set at distance, at enmity and variance, by sin. Man was the party offending, God offended, and the alienation was mutual, on either side; but yet with this difference, that man was alienated in respect of affections, the ground and cause of anger and enmity; God in respect of the effects and issue of anger and enmity. The word in the New Testament is katallagh>, and the verb katalla>ssw, reconciliation, to reconcile; both from ajlla>ttw, to change, or to turn from one thing, one mind, to another: whence the first native signification of those words is permutatio and katalla>ttontai, ) because most commonly those that are reconciled are changed in respect of their affections, always in respect of the distance and variance, and in respect of the effects; thence it signifieth reconciliation, and to reconcile. And the word may not be affirmed of any business, or of any men, until both parties are actually reconciled, and all differences removed in respect of any former grudge and ill-will. If one be well pleased With the other, and that other continue ajkata>llaktov, unappeased and implacable, there is no reconciliation. When our Savior gives that command, that he that brought his gift to the altar, and there remembered that his brother had aught against him, was offended with him for any cause, he should go and be reconciled to him, [he] fully intendeth a mutual returning of minds one to another, especially respecting, the appeasing and atoning of him that was offended. Neither are these words used among men in any other sense, but always denote, even in common speech, a full redintegration of friendship between dissenting parties, with reference most times to some compensation made to the offended party. The reconciling of the one party and the other may be distinguished, but both are required to make up an entire reconciliation.
As, then, the folly of Socinus and his sectaries is remarkable, who would have the reconciliation mentioned in the Scripture to be nothing but our conversion to God, without the appeasing of his anger and turning away his wrath from us, which is a reconciliation hopping on one leg, so that distinction of some between the reconciliation of God to man, making that to be universal towards all, and the reconciliation of man to God, making that to be only of a small number of those to whom God is reconciled, is a no less monstrous figment. Mutual alienation must have mutual reconciliation, seeing they are correlata. The state between God and man, before the reconciliation made by Christ, was a state of enmity. Man was at enmity with God; we were his enemies, Colossians 1:21; Romans 5:10; hating him and opposing ourselves to him, in the highest rebellion, to the utmost of our power. God also was thus far an enemy to us, that his wrath was on us, Ephesians 2:3; which remaineth on us until we do believe, John 3:36. To make perfect reconciliation (which Christ is aid in many places to do), it is required, first, That the wrath of God be turned away, his anger removed, and all the effects of enmity on his part towards us; secondly, That we be turned away from our opposition to him, and brought into voluntary obedience. Until both these be effected, reconciliation is not perfected. Now, both these are in the Scripture assigned to our Savior, as the effects of his death and sacrifice.
1. He turned away the wrath of God from us, and so appeased him towards us; that was the reconciling of God by his death: for when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, Romans 5:10. That here is meant the reconciling of God, as that part of reconciliation which consisteth in turning away his wrath from us, is most apparent, it being that whereby God chiefly commendeth his love to us, which certainly is in the forgiveness of sin, by the aversion of his anger due to it; as also being opposed to our being saved from the wrath to come, in the latter end of the verse, which compriseth our conversion and whole reconciliation to God. Besides, Romans 5:11, we are said to what means, we have translated atonement); which cannot be meant of our reconciliation to God, or conversion, which we cannot properly be said to accept or receive, but of him to us, which we receive when it is apprehended by faith.
2. He turneth us away from our enmity towards God, redeeming and reconciling us to God by the blood of his cross, Colossians 1:20; to wit, then meritoriously, satisfactorily, by the way of acquisition and purchase; accomplishing it in due time actually and efficiently by his Spirit. Both these ye have jointly mentioned, 2 Corinthians 5:18-20; where we may see, first, God being reconciled to us in Christ., which consisteth in a non-imputation of iniquities, and is the subject-matter of the ministry, 2 Corinthians 5:18, 19; secondly, the reconciling of us to God, by accepting the pardon of our sins, which is the end of the ministry, 2 Corinthians 5:20; as the same is also at large declared, Ephesians 2:13-15. The actual, then, and effectual accomplishment of both these, simul et semel, in respect of procurement, by continuance, and in process of time, in the ordinances of the gospel, in respect of final accomplishment on the part of men, do make up that reconciliation which is the effect of the death of Christ; for so it is in many places assigned to be: We are reconciled to God by the death of his Son, Romans 5:10; And you, that were sometime alienated, hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, Colossians 1:21, 22: which is in sundry places so evident in the Scripture, that none can possibly deny reconciliation to be the immediate effect and product of the death of Christ.
Now, how this reconciliation can possibly be reconciled with universal redemption, I am no way able to discern; for if reconciliation be the proper effect of the death of Christ, as is confessed by all, then if he died for all, I ask how cometh it to pass, First, That God is not reconciled to all? as he is not, for his wrath abideth on some, John 3:36, and reconciliation is the aversion of wrath. Secondly, That all are not reconciled to God? as they are not, for by nature all are the children of wrath, Ephesians 2:3; and some all their lives do nothing but treasure up wrath against the day of wrath, Romans 2:5. Thirdly, How, then, can it be that reconciliation should be wrought between God and all men, and yet neither God reconciled to all nor all reconciled to God? Fourthly, If God be reconciled to all, when doth be begin to be unreconciled towards them that perish? by what alteration is it? in his will or nature? Fifthly, If all be reconciled by the death of Christ, when do they begin to be unreconciled who perish, being born children of wrath? Sixthly, Seeing that reconciliation on the part of God consists in the turning, away of his wrath and not imputing of iniquity, 2 Corinthians 5:18, 19, which is justification, rendering us blessed, Romans 4:6-8, why, if God be reconciled to all, are not all justified and made blessed through a non-imputation of their sin? They who have found out a redemption where none are redeemed, and a reconciliation where none are reconciled, can easily answer these and such other questions; which to do I leave them to their leisure, and in the meantime conclude this part of our argument. That reconciliation which is the renewing of lost friendship, the slaying of enmity, the making up of peace, the appeasing of God, and turning away of his wrath, attended with a non-imputation of iniquities; and, on our part, conversion to God by faith and repentance; this, I say, being that reconciliation which is the effect of the death and blood of Christ, it cannot be asserted in reference to any, nor Christ said to die for any other, but only those concerning whom all the properties of it, and acts wherein it doth consist, may be truly affirmed; which, whether they may be of all men or not, let all men judge.