How Christ is our Surety, and what Mr. Baxter says,
as to this, is examined.
††††††††† Our Lord Jesus being called a Surety in the Scriptures, may give us much satisfaction and clear light, concerning the Doctrine of the Imputation of His Righteousness, if prejudice and love to our own particular hypothesis do not blind us. The Apostle tells us, Hebrews 7: 22, that Jesus was made a Surety of a better Testament (or Covenant, rather) and though the Greek word e1gguoj, rendered Surety, be only in this place found in the New Testament, yet that can give no colorable ground of exception against the true and native import of the word, and the truth, thereby held forth, seeing one sentence of divine revelation should captivate our faith and judgment, as well as twenty, otherwise all divine revelation, though never so oft reiterated, will hereby at length come to be questioned. And besides, the word properly signifies a surety, cautioner, praes, sponsor, fide jussor: e2ggu/n is sponsio, expromissio, fidejussio: hence e2ggua/w sub fide sponsionis trado, as it were, to deliver into hands, †e2ggua/omai spondeo, †e2ggo/hsij †fidejusso, Vadimonium, e2gguhth\j fidejussor, vas, sponsor: and whether the word come from e)ggu/j prope, or from e)ggizw appropinquo, or from e)n gu/oij in minibus, the same import and signification is held forth; and the conjunction and nearness between the Sponsor, or Surety, and the person for whom He is Sponsor, with the ends, for which he engages himself, who is a Sponsor, is manifestly held forth: for the word imports one, who of his own accord engages for another, taking upon him, the cause and condition of that other, and promising to do or pay what the other was obliged unto, or to see it done, and, thus engaging and promising, becomes the just and legal debtor for what he has engaged, and obliged unto the performance. And this sense is both obvious and generally received by all men; which should satisfy us, as to the acceptation of the word here, until it be demonstrated, that of necessity it must be taken in a peculiar and distinct sense, in this place; which yet the scope and circumstances of the place will not admit; but rather confirm the usual and generally received signification and import of the word.
††††††††† This is also confirmed by the Hebrew bra(f which hath many significations, all, or most, of which, as some think, may be reduced to two general heads: one is of mixing things together, or agreeing things or persons together, by compacts, merchandise, pledges, or caution. Hence it signifies to become surety Genesis 43: 9, and 44: 22. Proverbs 11: 15, 6: 1, , . Psalm 119: 122 as also to oppignorat, or give in pledge Nehemiah 5: 3,
II Kings , Isaiah 36: 8, Job 17: 3. Hence NwObrf(' arrabon, a pledge Genesis 38: , and hb@fru(J fidejussion, sponsio, pignus, Suretyship, and a pledge. I Samuel 17: 18, II Kings 14: 14. This word then denotes the conjunction and mixture, that is between a Surety, and him for whom he is Surety; for the word signifies to mix or mingle together, so that they become hereby one person in law; and an engaging Jeremiah 30: 21, to show, that the Surety stands engaged to perform what he has promised, and become Surety for, having now stricken hands, as it is rendered Proverbs 22: 26. Whence we see that there is a near and close union between Christ and believers; so as they (to speak so) become one person in law: for a Sponsor, as such, stands engaged with and for the debtor, as if they were both but one; for the Surety makes himself the debtor; and the Creditor may pursue either of them for payment, and when payment is made by the one, both are free of the obligation: so that if the Surety pay the debt, the creditor cannot reach the principal debtor. These things are clear and universally known and received. And hereby, we see how Christ, being a Surety, and believers become one person, in law sense; so that as He did voluntarily engage for them, and put Himself in their Law-place; so His payment and satisfaction is accounted theirs, and justice cannot reach them, for that, which He, as their Surety, hath paid.
††††††††† But Mr. Baxter, in his book against Doctor Tully page 108, in answer to the first objection, which he there moves tells us, that when Christ is called the fidejussor of a better Covenant, it seems plain, that it is Godís Covenant, as such; and so Godís sponsor, that is meant. And for this he cites Grotius and Doctor Hammond, in their Annotations. Answer: This is the very same answer, that Socinians give, with whom both Grotius and Hammond do well agree: and it is not much for Mr. Baxterís honor, nor for the credit of his cause, that he will forsake all the orthodox, and embrace rather the Socinians, and such, as join with them, than abandon what he thinks contributive to his hypothesis. Whether Christ was at all a Surety, upon Godís part, or not, needs not here be discussed; some Orthodox being of that judgment, that He was, as we see in Mr. Gillespieís late piece chapter 21, others thinking, that He was not, as may be seen in Dr. Owenís book of the Doctrine of Justification by Faith. It is sufficient against Mr. Baxter and the Socinians, to prove, that He was a Surety and Sponsor for man to God; and this is abundantly made good by what both these forementioned authors have said, in the books mentioned, that more needs not be added. But what doth Mr. Baxter mean by Godís Covenant? He can mean nothing here, but Godís part of the Covenant; and so make Christ only a Surety for that part. But what ground is there for this in the text, or context? The Apostle is proving, that Christís priesthood (which respects not God towards man, but man towards God; for every priest is ordained for men in things to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sin, Hebrews 5: 1,) is more excellent than the Levitical, He being made a priest by oath, and a Surety of a better Covenant, and therefore His Suretyship and His Priesthood must both respect men, and the things of men to God; or the one should not be a fit medium
to prove the other; nor should there be any coherence in the words; unless, with the Socinians, we should pervert the nature of Christís priestly office, and make it to be for God, in things pertaining to men, contrary to Hebrews 5: 1, and all the use of Priests from the beginning; as they do, when they make Christís priesthood to consist, in His making effectual to us the promises of God; or in His effectual communicating to us the good things, promised to us from God; from which Mr. Lawson doth not much differ, when he says (as Mr. Baxter cites his words) That a priest doth undertake to procure from God both the confirmation and performance of the promises to the people; and to that end mediates between both.
††††††††† He says next, that Calvin seemed to intimate that, which he thinks is the truth, viz. that Christ is called e1gguoj of Godís Covenant, from the sacerdotal appropinquation, mentioned in verse 19. But no such thing appears in Calvinís Commentary. And that appropinquation, mentioned in verse 19, is the people their privilege now under the New Testament. He tells us further, that Marlorat and others by Sponsor mean a Mediator. And it is true, that the Sponsor here is a Mediator: but that the word Sponsor here shall denote nothing else, than what the word Mediator signifies, I shall not readily believe, without clearer grounds, than any I see yet adduced: for I cannot think, that the Apostle would make use of a word, which no where else he uses, and which is no where to be found in the New Testament but here, in a sense, that it is never found to have, neither in Scripture, nor in the common use of men. And however; yet it must be granted, that He is such a Mediator, as is a Priest, and so must offer sacrifices to God for men, and therefore must as well be a Mediator and Sponsor on manís part, as on Godís. He says, that Pareus on the place, calls Christ a Sponsor of the Covenant, quia novum foedus sanguine & morte sua obsignavit. But for answer, he may read the same author on Chapter 8: 1, saying, est & Sponsor foederis spondens Deo populi nominee fidem & obedientiam, non verbis modo sed & victimis. And thus he distinguishes a Sponsor from a Mediator.
††††††††† Mr. Baxter grants (page 109) that a Mediator is not one, but doth somewhat on the behalf of both parties: but adds that as Mediator, He is, has, does, suffers, merits, satisfies, so as the representer or person of such a believer, as that every such person is supposed in Law, to have been, done, suffered, merited, thus in and by the Mediator, is neither signified by this, or any other text. †Answer: Though this cannot be said of a Mediator, strictly so taken, and no more; yet it may be said of him, who not only is a Mediator, but also a Sponsor and Surety, as we have several times explained it. He adds, 2. They that distinguish of a natural and political person, do but darken the case, by an ill expressed distinction, which indeed is not of two sorts of persons, but between reality and acceptation, taking person properly for a natural person: It is one thing to be such a person; and another thing to have the Act, Passion, Merit, &c. accepted for that other person: And this latter signifies either, 1. That it was done by the other person mediately, as being a chief cause acting by his instrument. 2. Or that it was done for that other person by another: the first is our denied sense, and the second our affirmed sense.
Answer: And I think, (such is the discordance of menís apprehensions,) that his explication darkens what is clear enough by the distinction given. His Reality & Acceptation, is, in our case, as darkening a distinction, as the others, if not more, and is against the common sense of the Law, and the plain common sense and understanding of men, when speaking of law-matters. Who does not understand how the Suretyís payment is really, in the sense of the Law, the payment of the debtor, and not merely accepted for him? If the payment were purely accepted, neither could it be said, that the Surety was anteriorly obliged, nor that the creditor might not refuse that payment, neither of which can be affirmed. As for the first sense of his acceptation, we own it not, more than he: and the second is true, but not full and plain, being only general; nor is it, as thus generally expressed, any sense of his acceptation: for when two persons are obliged for a sum conjunctly and severally, and the creditor may distress either for the whole; when one pays the whole, he may be said to pay for the other; and yet common sense will not suffer us to say, that his payment was only accepted for the other.
††††††††† He tells us afterward, that Sponsors and sureties with us, are of several sorts, and that they, who lay all upon the very name of a surety, as if the word had but one signification, and all sureties properly represented the person of the principal obliged person, do deal very deceitfully. Answer: But there is no remedy against some menís censures. Some will possibly think, that his dealing is not fair, to speak, in the answer, of sureties representing the principal debtors, when the objection, as he himself set it down, speaking only of their being one person in Law sense; and these two are not every way the same; everyone that represents another, is not his surety, or sponsor; nor doth the surety, in every case, represent the principal debtor; neither is he said to do. But, sure, it is plain dealing to make the word Surety, or Sponsor, in that sense wherein it is always taken by men that use it, until he demonstrate, that of necessity it must have a peculiar sense, in this matter, and in this place: and it is not fair, to object deceitful dealing to us, in this, until he hath first discovered the deceit. He reckons up, three or four various things, in which persons may become sureties, as debt, punishment, duty, and the like; but to what purpose, I know not. Doth he think that we make Christ such a surety, as agrees in all things with every surety among men? We know, there never was, nor never will be such a surety, as our Lord Jesus is: A Surety, notwithstanding, we acknowledge him to be; because He is so called: and in what respects He is a surety, we know from the Scriptures, where that is abundantly declared, and not from the simple name of a surety. The name tells us, that that must be said of Christ, which agrees to all sureties, or is commonly acknowledged to agree unto them; and that is, that they, in so far as they are obliged, or have obliged themselves, whether before or after the principal debtor stood obliged (for this makes no difference as to the obligation Instit. fidejus, & ff. eod. l. & 11.) are one person in law-sense with the principal debtor; so that their payment and satisfaction is acknowledged in Law,
as the payment and satisfaction of the principal debtorís. His novices, that look into Calv. Lex. Jurid. for Fidejussor & Sponsor, will find nothing contrary to this; Yea they will find, that fidejussor dicitur, qui pro alio fidem suam obligat, & fide sua, id est, periculo suo esse jubet, quod alius debet; and that, fidejussor proprie dicitur debitor; and that even fidejussor conditionalis nomine debitoris continetur; & fidejussorem proprie esse debitorem fere omnes tradunt, quia jura eum plerumque appellant debitorem. The same is to be seen in Spigelius. As for that, which Mr. Baxter adds, that fide jussor non est conveniendus, nisi prius principali debitore Convento, it neither alters the case, nor was it universally so, but only in some certain cases, as he might have read in the same place. So that it still holds true, that the sponsor and the debtor are one person in law; and that so, that if the debtor pay, the sponsor is free; and if the sponsor pay the debtor is free. See Instit. lib. 3. Tit. 30. quibus modis tollitur obligatio & l. 13. ßsi fide jus. sor; D de Acceptil. Where it is said, that the debtor† is liberated, if the sponsor give only that, which is called, solutio imaginatia.
††††††††† There must be (says he) some what more than the bare e1gguoj, once used of Christ, as Mediator of Godís Covenant; or the name of a Surety as now used among men, that must go to prove, that the Mediator and the several sinners are the same legal persons in Godís account. Answer: What he means by Godís covenant, he would do well to explain. That the name e1gguoj is used of Christ, as Mediator, if he takes this as reduplicatively, he should prove. When he says, the Mediator and the several sinners are the same legal persons, it is ambiguously uttered, and no clear declaration of our mind. But as to the thing, we would fain know a reason, why we may not take this word, in its common acceptation among men, seeing there is nothing in Scripture to the contrary? Yea, though this Greek word be but here only found; yet, as we saw, we have a Hebrew word of the same import, several times used in the Old Testament; and the whole matter, that we seek after, clearly held forth thereby, if the places be but looked into.
††††††††† To put a close to this, we would call to mind that five-fold law identity and sameness, that is between Christ the surety and sinners, for whom He satisfied, mentioned by worthy Mr. Rutherford, in his treatise of the covenant part 2, page 251, which are these.
††††††††† 1. Though physically the surety and the debtor be two different men; yet in Law they are one and the same person, and one and the same legal party, and the same object of justice, who so in Law pursues the Surety, does also pursue the debtor.
††††††††† 2. The debt and sum is one; not two debts, not two ransoms, nor two punishments; nor two lives to lose, but one.
††††††††† 3. It is one and the same solution, and satisfaction; there cannot in law-justice come another reckoning, dying, and payment asking, after the surety hath paid.
††††††††† 4. There is one and the same acceptation, upon the creditorís part; if he accept of satisfaction in the payment made by the surety, he cannot but
legally accept of the Debtor, and cannot pursue him in law, but must look upon him, as no debtor &c.
††††††††† 5. It is one and the same legal effect. Christ crucified in the Spirit and risen again, I Timothy 3: 16, and we in Him, as in the meritorious cause, are legally justified.
Gillespie in his late piece, chapter 21, hath several things, which will both
clear up and confirm what is said; we shall mention only a few, pages 373, 374.
He tells us, [that 3. Suretyship imports not only a voluntary obligation for
another person, but also union of parties, and assumption of the condition of
that person, in the lawís sense; so that the surety and debtor are but one
party in law: therefore say the Jurists, fidejussor
proprie dicitur debitor. Christ, by
His Suretyship did not only take our natures upon Him, but He took our
condition upon Him. He put His name in our bond, that
the law might reach Him for our debt. 4. It imports a communion between the
debtor and the cautioner, whereby as the debt of the principal debtor, becomes
the debt of the surety and affects him; so also the satisfaction and payment of
the surety and his discharge and relief, becomes the satisfaction, discharge
and relief of the principal debtor. Christís Suretyship imports not only a
union of parties and conjunction of interests and condition with his people;
but also a communion with debtful broken man, resulting from His bond of Suretyship;
whereby as upon the one part our debt becomes His entirely, as the jurists say
of all sureties, singuli, in solidum
tenenter: so upon the other part His
satisfaction and discharge become ours II Corinthians 5, last, Galatians 3: 13.††††††† 5. It imports a commutation, surrogation,
or substituting of one in the room of another; and so Christ was substituted in
our stead and room, as
Christ our Surety hath charged Bonds and obligations with us, and puts out our name, and puts in His own, in the bloody bond of the Law, that the debt, satisfaction and curse may be upon Him alone Galatians 3: 13, Isaiah 53: 5. 2. Among men, the creditor hath it in his choice, which of the two he will seize upon, the Surety, or the debtor, as he sees it best for his satisfaction: but it is not so here, for the Lord, the creditor hath declared,† that He will take Him to Christ for all; and hath determined, that all the satisfaction shall be made by Him: and Christ the Surety is content that it shall be so, and that the poor broken creature shall go free, and no execution of the bloody bond of the law shall pass against him, he being a bankrupt creature, which hath obtained a liberation, as where there is cessio bonorum Psalm 89: 19, Hebrews 10: 7, Romans 8: 1, Isaiah 53: 6. Among men, usually the principal debtor is first convened for the debt, before the Surety be pursued: But it is not so here, the curse of the Law, and the execution of the bond thereof doth not first strict upon us, and then afterward upon Christ, to seek from Him what it cannot find in us: But the Lord, the Creditor, having astricted Himself to the Cautioner, the Law stricts first upon Him; and can never come to strike against the believer, unless it should not find complete satisfaction in our Surety, which is impossible Isaiah 53: 8, Galatians 3: 13. 4. Among men the debtor is the principal bondsman, and his obligation and bond is the principal obligation; and the Sureties obligation is but as accession to it, for strengthening the security: but here the Surety is the principal debtor; and by His bond of Suretyship, He hath changed the nature of the believers bond and obligation, and put His own name in it, so as He is become the principal debtor. His Suretyship hath swallowed up the debtorís obligation to satisfy justice, the Surety being the Head and Husband of the poor broken debtor, Romans 7: 4, and having changed the bond of satisfaction, and put out our name, and put in His own, whereby He hath transferred the debt upon Himself, as principal debtor, Hebrews 10: 7, 8, 9. Among men, usually the broken debtorís name stands still in the bond, even after the responsal Surety hath intervened: But here Jesus, the Surety of the New Covenant, when He put in His own name, He puts out our names, that the Law might reach Him, and might not at all reach us. He wrote Himself the sinner legally, and wrote us righteous persons. II Corinthians 5: 21, Jeremiah 50: 20.]