05 August, 2019

Minutes of the Westminster Assembly, Session 873—“the Gospel … doth tender salvation by Christ to all”

... Q. Are all they saved by Christ who live within the visible church and hear the gospel? A. Although the visible church ... do enjoy many special favours and privileges whereby it is distinguished from other societies in the world, and the gospel where it cometh doth tender salvation by Christ to all, testifying that whosoever believes in him shall be saved, and excludeth none that come unto him; yet none do or can truly come unto Christ, or are saved by him, but only the members of the invisible church, which is the whole number of the elect that have been, are, or shall be, gathered into one under Christ their head. (Minutes, Session 873, 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. 393).

“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 873 speaks of the gospel ‘tender[ing] salvation by Christ to all.’”


Prof. Herman C. Hanko

The crucial word here is the word “tender.” It is obvious that here, too, the word does not mean a well-meant offer, but a setting forth, an exhibiting of Christ as the One in Whom is full and free salvation. This is evident from the remainder of the article.

But this point is proved from the Minutes themselves.

The minutes of Sessions 522 and 523 are especially interesting and we recommend that they be read in their totality. But in the course of the debate held during these sessions, Calamy, a member of the Davenant School, argued: “God did intend in giving of Christ, and Christ in giving of Himself, did intend to put all men in a state of salvation in case they do believe” [Minutes, p. 192].  In response to this, Gillespie said: “I cannot understand how there can be such a universal love of God to mankind as is maintained. Those that will say it must needs deny the absolute reprobation” [Minutes, p. 155].  And, in the same debate, Rutherford added: “All the argument comes to this: there can be no truth in this proposition except this be first granted, that Christ died in some sense [for all, HH] ... I deny this connection ... be[cause] it holds as well in election, justification, as in redemption; if he believe, he is as well elected and

justified as redeemed ... [God’s] love is a restricted special love ... It is actual saving love, therefore not a general love” [Minutes, pp. 154, 158].



More to come! (DV)

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