Thomas Watson: "Christ’s blood is a sufficient price for all, but it is effectual only to them that believe."

Thomas Watson writes:

"It is said, Christ died for all. 'He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.' How does this consist with God's truth, when some are vessels of wrath? (Romans 9:22).

 (1.) We must qualify the term world. The world is taken either in a limited sense, for the world of the elect; or in a larger sense, for both elect and reprobates. 'Christ takes away the sins of the world,' that is, the world of the elect. 

(2.) We must qualify also Christ's dying for the world. Christ died sufficiently for all, not effectually. There is the value of Christ's blood, and the virtue of Christ's blood. Christ's blood has value enough to redeem the whole world, but the virtue of it is applied only to such as believe. Christ's blood is meritorious for all, not efficacious. All are not saved, because some put away salvation from them, as in Acts 13:46, and vilify Christ's blood, counting it an unholy thing (Hebrews 10:29)" (Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity, p. 101).


“Beloved, Christ came not to redeem all, for that would overthrow the decrees of God. Redemption is not as large as creation. I grant that there is a sufficiency of merit in Christ’s blood to save all; but there is a difference between sufficiency and efficiency. Christ’s blood is a sufficient price for all, but it is effectual only to them that believe. A plaster may have a sovereign virtue in it to heal any wound, but it does not heal unless applied to the wound. And if it be so, that all have not the benefit of Christ’s redemption, but some only, then it is a necessary question to ask our own souls, Are we in the number of those that are redeemed by Christ or not? 

How shall we know that?
(I.) Such as are redeemed are reconciled to God. The enmity is taken away. Their judgments approve, their wills incline ad bonum.[Colossians 1:21] Are they redeemed that are unreconciled to God, who hate God and his people (as the vine and laurel have an antipathy), who do all they can to disparage holiness? Are they redeemed who are unreconciled? Christ has purchased a reprieve for these; but a sinner may have a reprieve, and yet go to hell. John V 6″(Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity, pp. 212-213).

A “sufficient price for all,” says Watson. He further states that part of this “sufficiency” is the purchase of a reprieve. Watson’s doctrinal statement is that Christ purchased a reprieve for those who go to hell. Watson articulates the Calvinist or Reformed version of universal atonement which profanes the blood of Christ as a common thing.