04 August, 2019

Minutes of the Westminster Assembly, Session 844—“… from Christ some common favours redound to all mankind”

The Assembly proceeded in debate of the Catechism, and upon debate it was
Resolved upon the Q., These two questions and answers,
Q. Do all men equally partake of the benefits of Christ? A. Although from Christ some common favours redound to all mankind, and some special privileges to the visible church, yet none partake of the principal benefits of his mediation but only such as are members of the church invisible.
Q. What common favours redound from Christ to all mankind? A. Besides much forbearance and many supplies for this life, which all mankind receive from Christ as Lord of all, they by him are made capable of having salvation tendered to them by the gospel, and are under such dispensations of providence and operations of the Spirit as lead to repentance,’—
shall stand for debate in order to the Catechism. (Minutes, Session 844, in Minutes of the Sessions of the Westminster Assembly of Divines, edited by Alex F. Mitchell and John Struthers [Edinburgh: William Blackwood and Sons, 1874], p. 369)

“The ‘minutes’ of the Westminster Assembly teach a divine favour for all and clearly show that
when the Westminster Standards use the term ‘offer,’ they use it in the sense a gracious favour of God according to which God seeks the salvation of all men and invites them to come to Christ.
Session 844 speaks of ‘common favours’ which ‘redound to all mankind.’”


Prof. Herman C. Hanko

In considering this evidence, it is important, first of all, to remember the fact that the propositions stated in those minutes were not indicative of the view of the Assembly itself, but were propositions put forward for debate. It is, therefore, worthwhile to compare the pertinent articles in the minutes with the actual articles in the Westminster Standards.

… It is interesting that when these two questions [in Session 844] were submitted to the Assembly proper for debate, the Assembly recommitted the matter to the committee. Apparently, these formulations were not satisfactory. In fact, the Assembly not only recommitted the matter, but instructed the committee not to deal with these matters until the commissioners from the Church of Scotland could also be present. In addition to that, the committee was reorganized and several men were added to it [see footnote 1 of the “Minutes,” on p. 369].

The final formulation of the recommitted matters is found in Minutes, Session 873.[p. 392] This formulation was agreed upon by the Assembly and is found in the Larger Catechism, Q&A 57-58:

Q. 57. What benefits hath Christ procured by his mediation?
A. Christ, by his mediation, hath procured redemption, with all other benefits of the covenant of grace.

Q. 58. How do we come to be made partakers of the benefits which Christ hath procured?
A. We are made partakers of the benefits which Christ hath procured, by the application of them unto us, which is the work especially of God the Holy Ghost.

Notice that the whole idea of ‘common benefits for all’ was specifically rejected.



More to come! (DV)


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