William Bucanus on the Sincere Free Offer of the Gospel


Bucanus was a Swiss-French Calvinist theologian, who served as a professor of theology at the Lausanne Academy, Switzerland from 1591.  His Theological Institutes, 1602, was one of the first systematic works of theology of the Reformed Church.



Theological Institutes or the Common Places of the Christian Religion out of the Word of God, of the Loftiest Theology of the Orthodox Consensus, by Analysis of Exposition, or, Gulielmus Bucanus, Institutiones Theologicae seu Locorum Communium Christianae Religionis ex Dei Verbo et praestantissimorum theologorum orthoxo consensus expositorum Analysis, Geneva, 1609, originally published in 1602

as quoted in Heinrich Heppe, Reformed Dogmatics, 1861, revised and edited by Ernst Bizer, English translation by G.T. Thompson, 1950, reprinted in 2007 by Wipf and Stock, p. 531


Faith is knowledge of, assent to and seeking for the grace promised in the Word, and so a firm trust and grasp of the salvation to be obtained for Christ’s sake.  Or, faith is the firm and sure recognition of the divine benevolence towards us, which, founded on the free promise of Christ, is revealed through the Holy Spirit, sealed in our minds and hearts.  Or, faith is the longing and apprehension of the will or heart, in consequence of the knowledge and approbation and special judgment of the mind, by which [in Greek] singuli kat’ idian [each according to oneself] we apply to ourselves Christ crucified, offered along with his benefits in the Word and sacraments.  Or, faith is that tool, instrument and means by which [in Latin] homo peccator [man, a sinner] embraces the whole of Christ with all his benefits, applies them to himself and is united to Christ and lives.



p. 235, of the London, 1606 edition.  This quote was compiled by David Ponter

Unto whom is the death and passion of Christ profitable?

Although He might have been a sufficient price for the sins for all men, yet actually and effectually he died for his elect only, who receive Him and believe Him, Matt 1:21. “He will deliver his people from their sins.” John 10:15. “I lay down my life for my sheep.” and Chap. 17:19 “I sanctify myself,” for otherwise it would follow that Christ died [without] profit, and to no purpose in regard of many, and that the efficacy of Christ’s death could be made void by men.


p. 433-4, of the London, 1606 edition.  This quote was compiled by David Ponter

Is not Christ the Redeemer of all men?

No: for He is a Redeemer neither to Pharaoh, nor Judas, neither unto Ciaphas, nor Herod, neither unto Julian, not in brief to all those that are damned or without hope, for whom they neither He died.

Did Christ die for all men?

His death was sufficient for all, say the Schoolmen, but effectual only for the Elect and them that are faithful.  If we respect the virtue and force of Christ’s blood, it is sufficient for the redemption of all: but if we look upon the purpose and eternal counsel of God, and the goodwill of the Mediator, he died for the elect only. John 10:15, I lay down my life for my sheep, says Christ, and 17:9, I pray not for the world, but I pray for them whom thou have given me.  Therefore He neither offered sacrifice for it, neither did He redeem it.  And verse 19, For their sakes who believe, and whom the Father has given Me, I sanctify Myself.  And Matt 26:28, My blood which is shed for many for the remission of sins.



 p. 14 of the London, 1606 edition.  This quote was compiled by David Ponter

“What is Christ?”

He is the only begotten Son of God (Joh. 1:14), who of his mere love towards mankind (Tit. 3:4-5), did create unto Himself of the seed (Heb. 2:16) of the Virgin Mary (Luk. 1:31), being sanctified by the Holy Ghost (Luk. 1:35), and by creating did assume (Heb. 2;16), and did personally and inseparably for ever unite a true human body (Heb. 2:14), endued with a reasonable (Matt. 26:38), soul. And so being true God, became true man like to us in all things (Heb. 1:17, etc), sin only accepted.



p. 785 of the London, 1606 edition.  This quote was compiled by David Ponter

Yet the Lord does seem upon set purpose in the institution of the this mystery [the Lord’s Supper], although speaking of a thing to come, yet to have used in both places the words of the present tense, that the disciples might be admonished, that this is the use of these signs, that with the eyes of faith the things forthwith to be, should be seen as it were already present in them: like as, we must behold them in this action by faith, as it were being before our eyes, although already performed long ago, that is to say, the whole history of the passion, as is with these our eyes we did see the body of Christ hanging and pierced through, and not the blood dripping out of his wounds. “Therefore it is shed,” says He, that is to say, upon the cross, not into the cup, or into a mouth: whereby again is signified, in what manner, the blood of Christ is living drink to us, not simply, as it is now clarified, but as shed for us, and truly “for you” and “for many,” Mark. 14-24.  Although not for all, but for the elect only, that is, for their cause, for the remission of sins: which is a most exceeding wholesome end of the blood of Christ shed, not of the drink of wine: for of this it is said, “In remembrance of me”: but of the shedding of blood, “For the remission of sins.”




Related Pages

The Sincere Free Offer of the Gospel

Historic Reformed Quotes on the Sincere Free Offer of the Gospel

1600’s Quotes on the Sincere Free Offer of the Gospel