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holiness, and eternal glory, are among the rich fruits of the royal and triumphant conquest he achieved, when, by his infinitely meritorious death, he spoiled principalities and powers, and made a show of them openly. With the most entire confidence, then, may the needy sinner, smitten with the deepest sense of conscious unworthiness, rely for salvation on this allsufficient atonement.
EXTENT OF CHRIST'S ATONEMENT.
THE point of which we are now to treat has been extensively agitated, as well in ancient as in modern times. At a very remote period, Faustus, the leader of the pelagians, and Sirmandus, an acknowledged semipelagian, advocated the sentiment that Christ died for all men; and were opposed by Augustine, Prosper, Fulgentius, Remigius, and other fearless defenders of the truth. In the Romish church, this controversy was carried on with no small degree of warmth, the Jesuits espousing the one side and the Jansenists the other. From the papists it passed to the protestants, Lutherans and Arminians advocating the cause of universality, while the Calvinists contended for a definite or restricted extent. The opinion of the remonstrants on this topic was pointedly condemned by the synod of Dort.' It still constitutes a prominent feature in the controversy between Arminians and Calvinists; and even some, who are otherwise free from the Arminian taint, have adopted
1 Turretini Institutio, v. ii. pp. 495, 496.
notions on this point that are at variance with the Calvinistic creed. The Hopkinsian controversy, which has of late distracted the American churches, involves, amongst its peculiarities, the point in question. And in our own country, as cannot but be known to many of our readers, the question respecting the extent of Christ's atonement has been agitated of late with considerable keenness; nor has the side of what we conceive to be truth, been always espoused by those who are otherwise evangelical in their doctrinal opinions.
I. Before going into any thing like argument, it will be proper to attend to some preliminary EXPLA
On the extent of Christ's atonement, the two opinions that have long divided the church are expressed by the terms definite and indefinite. The former means that Christ died, satisfied divine justice, and made atonement, only for such as are saved. The latter means that Christ died, satisfied divine justice, or made atonement, for all mankind without exception, as well those who are not saved as those who are. The one regards the death of Christ as a legal satisfaction to the law and justice of God on behalf of elect sinners: the other regards it as a general moral vindication of the divine government, without respect to those to whom it may be rendered effectual, and of course equally applicable to all. The former opinion, or what is called definite atonement is that which we adopt, and which we shall endeavour to explain, prove, and defend, in our subsequent obser
vations. It may be thus stated:-THAT THE LORD JESUS CHRIST MADE ATONEMENT TO GOD BY HIS DEATH, ONLY FOR THE SINS OF THOSE, TO WHOM, IN THE SOVEREIGN GOOD PLEASURE OF THE Almighty,
THE BENEFITS OF HIS DEATH SHALL BE FINALLY
APPLIED. By this definition, the extent of Christ's atonement is limited to those who ultimately enjoy its fruits; it is restricted to the elect of God, for whom alone we conceive him to have laid down his life. However, to prevent mistakes, and to give us a clear understanding of the point in dispute, it may be necessary to offer a few explanatory remarks.
1. The point in dispute, let it be carefully observed, does not respect the intrinsic worth of Christ's death. This is admitted, on both hands, to be infinite. There is no room for controversy here. As has been shown in the preceding section, the inherent worth of Christ's atonement arises not from the nature, intensity, or continuance of his sufferings, but from his personal dignity and other concurrent circumstances, which stamp a character of infinite value on all that he endured. On this ground we hold that the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ possessed an intrinsic value sufficient for the salvation of the whole world. In this sense it was adequate to the redemption of every human being-able to procure the expiation of every man's sins that ever existed, or ever shall exist to the end of time. Here we feel no hesitation; nor can we qualify these assertions in the slightest degree. We shall yield to none in our estimate of the intrinsic worth of Christ's
atonement. That worth we hold to be, in the strictest sense of the term, INFINITE
FICIENT. If sufficiency were the point on which the controversy turned, it might soon be ended; and we are strongly inclined to believe, that nothing more than this is meant by many of those who contend for Christ's having died for all men; it is with such persons a mistake of words more than of opinion. In the fullest sense of the terms, then, we regard the atonement of Christ as SUFFICIENT FOR ALL. all-sufficiency is what lays foundation for the unrestricted universality of the gospel call. And from every such view of the atonement as would imply that it was not sufficient for all, or that there was not an ample warrant in the invitations of the gospel for all to look to it for salvation, we utterly dissent. Against every such limitation or restriction we enter our solemn and deliberate protest, as alike dishonouring to Christ, and unwarranted by the testimony of scripture. Nor would we hesitate for a moment to adopt the following strong protestation of an eminent writer, as expressive of our own settled conviction on the subject:-'Such is my impression of its sufficiency, that were all the guilt of all the millions of mankind that have ever lived concentrated in my own person, I should see no reason, relying on that blood which cleanseth from all sin, to indulge despair.'2
2. Neither does the present controversy turn on
2 Dr Wardlaw.