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Chapter 2 Section 28.

- Ambrosius Mediolanesiss

Part 4
Chapter 2—Of Redemption

Section 28—Ambrosius Mediolanensis. A.D. 380.
Ambrose of Milain is very fruitful of expressions which seem to militate against the doctrine of special and
particular redemption. Monsieur Daille[1] has collected a large number of them, which Dr. Whitby[2] has given
himself the trouble to number, and says, they are no less than twenty-eight; and I could help them to as many more of
the same kind, and yet all of them will be but of little service to their cause, when it is observed, that Ambrose, by all
for whom Christ died, and whom he redeemed, means all sorts of men, and not every individual: "If," says he,[3] "it is
related of Ulysses, that the binding him fast to the tree, delivered him from danger, how much more must it be said,
what is really fact, that is, that today the tree of the cross hath delivered omne genus hominum, ‘ all kind of men,’ from
the danger of death." And a little after,[4] "The Lord Christ hung upon the cross that he might deliver onme, genus
hominum, ‘ all kind of men,’ from the shipwreck of the world. And when he says that Christ died for, and redeemed
the world, such phrases are easily accounted for, since it is abundantly evident that by the world he frequently means
the church. Having mentioned[5] those words in Psalm 24:1, The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the
world, and they that dwell therein: he adds, "which the Greeks call oikumenhn, because it is inhabited by Christ, as he
says, Wherefore I will dwell in them; therefore, what is oikoumenh, the world? nisi sancta ecclesia, but the holy
church, the temple of God, and habitation of Christ." And in another place he says[6] "The church is called both
heaven and the world, because it hath saints comparable to angels and archangels; also it hath the greatest part earthly;
it is called likewise orbis terrarum, the world, which is founded upon the seas, and prepared upon the rivers.
Moreover, as the world (the church) says, Look not upon me, because I am black." And a little after[7] "Is not the earth
the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof? Et vere orbis terrarum in ecclesia,’ and verily the world in the church;’ in which
not only Jew, nor Greek, nor Barbarian, nor Scythian, nor bond, nor free, but we are all one in Christ." Moreover,
Ambrose very frequently observes, that it is the church for whom Christ suffered and died, and which is redeemed by
his blood. "The domestic Jews, bought with a price," he says,[8] "are the Gentiles who have believed, quia pretio
sanguinis Christi redempta est ecclesia, for by the price of Christ’s blood is the church redeemed." And in another
place he says,[9] ‘Seeing Christ suffered for the church, and the church is the body of Christ, faith does not seem to be
exercised on Christ by them (meaning schismatics,) by whom his passion is made void, and his body pulled asunder."
And elsewhere,[10] speaking of the same sort of persons, he says, "They alone are they who would dissolve the grace
of Christ, who tear in pieces the members of the church propter quam passus est Dominus Jesus, for which the Lord
Jesus suffered." Again he observes,[11] that "by the woman the heavenly mystery is fulfilled, being prefigured in her
the grace of the church, propter quam Christus descendit, ‘for which Christ descended,’ and has finished that eternal
work of man’s redemption." Add to all this, that remarkable expression of his, "If Christ," says he,[12] "died for all,
yet he suffered for us in an especial manner; quia pro ecelesia passus est, because he suffered for the church."
Besides, this father makes use of such epithets and descriptive characters, when he is speaking of the persons for
whom Christ became incarnate, and whom he redeemed, as can by no means be applied to all the individuals of human
nature, such as believers, repenting sinners, Christ’s servants, and his own Christian people; thus he explains[13] those
words in Isaiah 9:6, "To us a child is born; nobis qui credimus, ‘to us who believe;’ not to the Jews, who have not
believed; to us, not to heretics; to us, not to the Manichees." On these words, My people shall return hither, he has this
note,[14] "What is hither, that is, to me, to my equity and righteousness, and to my worship; and he shall fulfill the day
of his life; both which you may so understand, that the people truly shall be redeemed, qui crediderit in eo, which
shall believe in him." And in another place he says,[15] "The cross of the Lord is a precipice to unbelievers, sed vita
credentibus, but life to them that believe." Again,[16] "The cross is a reproach to the perfidious, but to the believer
grace, to the believer redemption, to the believer the resurrection; because Christ has suffered for us." Once more,[17]
"Christ is salvation to them that believe, but punishment to unbelievers;" yea, he says,[18] "If thou dost not believe,
non descendit tibi, non tibi passus est, he did not come down for thee, he did not suffer for thee." Elsewhere he
observes,[19] that "the passion of the Lord is profitable to all, and gives redemption to sinners, quos flagitii poenituit
admissi, who repent of sin committed." Again he says,[20] "Be not the servant of the serpent, the enemy and the
adversary, but serve the Lord alone, who in this own my, hath redeemed thee, quia ipse ipse suorum redemptio
servulorum, for he himself is the redemption of his servants." And was in another place, speaking of the man that[11/2/2010 10:47:06 AM]
Chapter 2 Section 28. - Ambrosius Mediolanesiss

healed at the pool of Bethesda, he says,[21] "Then one was cured, not all are healed, or without doubt, unus solus
populis Christianus, one Christian people only." Once more,[22] "The Lord Jesus was alone when he redeemed the
world, for not a legate, nor a messenger, but the Lord himself alone, saved his own people." He represents the
intercession of the Spirit, and the sufferings of Christ, to be for the same persons:[23] the Spirit intercedes for the
saints, because the Spirit maketh intercession for us, pro quibus enim Christus passus est, ‘for whom Christ suffered,’
and whom he hath cleansed by his own blood, for them the Spirit intercedes;" which cannot be said of all men.
Moreover, he intimates, as though he thought it impossible that any one should be damned for whom Christ die, and
whom he has redeemed by his blood; his words are these;[24] "Can he damn thee, quem redemit a morte, whom he has
redeemed from death,’ for whom he offered himself, whose life he knows is the reward of his own death?" Moreover,
many of his general expressions may be understood of the sufficiency of Christ’s blood to redeem all men; for thus, in
one place,[25] he expresses himself concerning Christ; "He is free from all, nor does he give the price of redemption
for his own soul, the price of whose blood poterat abundare ad universa mundi totius redimenda peccata, could
abound to redeem all the sins of the whole world." Besides, it may be further observed, that the general benefit which
mankind has by the death of Christ Ambrose sometimes explains of the resurrection,[26] though that which is to
eternal life he limits[27] to all Christians, who are the body and members of Christ.


[1] Apolog. p. 799, etc.

[2] Postscript to Discourse, etc. p. 571; ed. 2. 547.

[3] Serm. 50, in Feria 6, Hebdom. Sanct. p. 70.

[4] Serm. 53, in Feria 6, Hebdom. Sanct. p. 71.

[5] Enarrat. in Psalm 48, p. 823.

[6] Ibid. in Psalm 118. Lamed, p. 980.

[7] Ibid. p. 981.

[8] De Abraham 1.2, c. 11, p. 267.

[9] De Obitu Satyr. p. 316.

[10] De Poenitent. 1. 2, c. 4, p. 405.

[11] De Institut. Virg. e. 4, p. 419.

[12] In Luc. 1.6, p. 102.

[13] Enarrat. in Psalm 1. p. 663; et de Fide, 1. 3, c. 4, p. 152.

[14] Ibid. in Psalm 72. p. 855.

[15] Ibid. in Psalm 118. Samech. p. 1007.

[16] Ibid. Schin, p. 1079.

[17] De Filii Divintate, c. 8, p. 284.

[18] De Fide 1. 4, c. 1, p. 163.

[19] De Poenitent. 1:1, c. 15, p. 399.

[20] Enarrat. in Psalm 43, p. 792; et in Psalm 48, p. 826.[11/2/2010 10:47:06 AM]
Chapter 2 Section 28. - Ambrosius Mediolanesiss

[21] De Initiand. c. 4, p. 346.

[22] Epist. 1.4, ep. 31, p. 262; et 1. 6, ep. 51, p. 312.

[23] Ibid. 1. 5, ep. 40, p. 290.

[24] De Jacob. I. 1, e. 6, p. 317.

[25] Euarrat. in Psalm 48, p. 826.

[26] In Exodus p. 441.

[27] In Dominic. Resurrect. serm. 55, p. 75.[11/2/2010 10:47:06 AM]