This assertion was never made by me, either in public or private, except when it was accompanied by such an explanation as the controversies which are excited on this subject have rendered necessary. For the phrase here used possesses much ambiguity. Thus it may mean either that "the price of the death of Christ was given for all and for every one," or that "the redemption, which was obtained by means of that price, is applied and communicated to all men and to every one." (1.) Of this latter sentiment I entirely disapprove, because God has by a peremptory decree resolved, that believers alone should be made partakers of this redemption. (2.) Let those who reject the former of these opinions consider how they can answer the following scriptures, which declare, that Christ died for all men; that He is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world; (1 John ii.2;) that He took away the sin of the world; (John i.29;) that He gave his flesh for the life of the world; (John vi.51;) that Christ died even for that man who might be destroyed with the meat of another person; (Rom. xiv.15;) and that false teachers make merchandise even of those who deny the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction; (2 Pet. ii.1, 3.) He therefore who speaks thus, speaks with the Scriptures; while he who rejects such phraseology, is a daring man, one who sits in judgment on the Scriptures and is not an interpreter of them. But he who explains those passages agreeably to the analogy of faith, performs the duty of a good interpreter and prophesier [or preacher] in the Church of God.
All the controversy, therefore, lies in the interpretation. The words themselves ought to be simply approved, because they are the words of Scripture. I will now produce a passage or two from Prosper of Aquitain, to prove that this distinction was even in his time employed: "He who says that the saviour was not crucified for the redemption of the whole world, has regard, not to the virtue of the sacrament, but to the case of unbelievers, since the blood of Jesus Christ is the price paid for the whole world. To that precious ransom they are strangers, who, either being delighted with their captivity, have no wish to be redeemed, or, after they have been redeemed, return to the same servitude." (Sent.4, super cap. Gallorum.) In another passage he says, "With respect both to the magnitude and potency of the price, and with respect to the one general cause of mankind, the blood of Christ is the redemption of the whole world. But those who pass through this life without the faith of Christ, and without the sacrament of regeneration, are utter strangers to redemption." Such is likewise the concurrent opinion of all antiquity. This is a consideration to which I wish to obtain a little more careful attention from many persons, that they may not so easily fasten the crime of novelty on him who says anything which they had never before heard, or which was previously unknown to them.