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The Decree

“The Son’s sponsio was not an expromissio (surety) [disagreeing with Berkhof], such that the guilt of sin was transferred without further ado from the elect to the Son and they had already become guiltfree through the pact itself. Rather it was a real fideiussio (bail), a guarantee which was already effective from the start, even before the Son, in view of this merit of his in the future, had fulfilled his vow by completing the work of redemption.”

-Heinrich Heppe, Reformed Dogmatics, p. 380


ie. in Heppe’s view Christ said, “I agree to bail them out once they sin, with foresight of my work.” But in Berkhof’s view, Christ said, “I agree to undertake their debt now.”

Heppe’s view seems inaccurate given the definitions below!

Sponsio, “An engagement to pay a certain sum of money to the successful party in a cause.” -Black’s Law Dictionary

Surety, “A person who binds himself for the payment of a sum of money or for the performance of something else, for another, who is already bound for the same. A surety differs from a guarantor, and the latter [guarantor] cannot be sued until after a suit against the principal. 2. The surety differs from bail in this, that the latter [bail] actually has, or is by law presumed to have, the custody of his principal, while the former [surety] has no control over him. The bail may surrender his principal in discharge of his obligation; the surety cannot be discharged by surrender.”

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