Page images
PDF
EPUB

be satisfied without it. Agreeably to this reasoning it follows, that the death of Christ being a legal satisfaction for sin, all for whom he died must enjoy the remission of their offences. It is as much at variance with strict justice or equity that any for whom Christ has given satisfaction should continue under condemnation, as that they should have been delivered from guilt without a satisfaction being given for them at all. But it is admitted that all are not delivered from the punishment of sin, that there are many who perish in final condemnation. We are therefore compelled to infer that for such no satisfaction has been given to the claims of infinite justiceno atonement has been made. If this is denied, the monstrous impossibility must be maintained, that the infallible judge refuses to remit the punishment of some for whose offences he has received a full compensation; that he finally condemns some the price of whose deliverance from condemnation has been paid to him; that, with regard to the sins of some of mankind, he seeks satisfaction in their personal punishment after having obtained satisfaction for them in the sufferings of Christ; that is to say, that an infinitely righteous God takes double payment for the same debt, double satisfaction for the same offence, first from the surety, and then from those for whom the surety stood bound. It is needless to add that these conclusions are revolting to every right feeling of equity, and must be totally inapplicable to the procedure of Him who 'loveth righteousness and hateth wickedness.'

3. Let the connexion of the atonement with the covenant of grace be considered, and farther confirmation will be given to our argument.

The scriptures represent the divine persons as entering into a federal agreement for the salvation of men. In this covenant of peace, the Father is the representative of the godhead, and the Son representative of those who are to be redeemed. He is on this account called the Mediator and the Surety of the covenant. Whatever he did as Mediator or Surety, must, therefore, have been done in connexion with the covenant. His death was the condition of the covenant. It was stipulated, as the condition of his having a seed to serve him, that he should make his soul an offering for sin; that he should bear their iniquities; that he should pour out his soul unto death. In reference to this, the blood of the ancient sacrifices was called the blood of the covenant, while, of his own, the Saviour testifies, this cup is the new testament in my blood. The blood of Christ was not shed by accident, it was not poured out at random or on a venture. No: he laid down his life by coveThe terms of the covenant must, therefore, define the designed extent of the objects of his death. If all mankind are included in the covenant,-if the Surety of the covenant represented, in this eternal transaction, the whole human race, then the atonement of Christ must have been indefinite. But, if the children of the covenant, as is admitted, are only a given specified number of the human family, then must the atonement of the Mediator be restricted to

nant.

Το

them. There seems no evading this inference. give the designed objects of the Saviour's atonement a greater extension than the covenant of grace is to nullify its character as the stipulated condition of the covenant, and to render nugatory and unavailing the consolatory address by which the heart of many an awakened sinner has been soothed, 'Behold the blood of the covenant.'

4. We may refer, also, to the very nature of atone

ment.

What is the atonement of Christ? It has been already defined and explained as that perfect satisfaction to the law and justice of God, on account of which sinners are delivered from condemnation. Or, in other words, it is that which removes the offence subsisting between God and men, and procures a reconciliation. It supposes a compensation to be made to the lawgiver, in consideration of which certain specific blessings flow out to men. From its very nature, then, all for whom the atonement is made must reap its fruits. It is no atonement without this. That any of those for whom Christ died should fail to enjoy the benefits of his death, is, in this way, utterly inconceivable. It is not more at variance with the purpose of God, or the equity of the divine character, or the tenor of the covenant of grace, than with the very nature of the Saviour's work. His work is an atonement, that is, a reconciliation; and to talk of his making atonement for such as are never reconciled, is a contradiction in terms: it is to say he makes atone

ment and yet no atonement, in the case of the same individuals. The same conclusion follows from other descriptions of the work of Christ. He is said to give satisfaction for sin; but how can he have given satisfaction for the sins of those on whom the law is to take satisfaction eternally? He is said to appease divine justice; but can the justice of God. be appeased, in the case of those against whom its flaming sword shall awake for ever and ever? He is said to expiate our offences; but how can those sins for which the guilty perpetrators are to suffer everlastingly have been expiated ? He is said to redeem from the curse of the law; but how can those who are to be kept in eternal thraldom have redemption through his blood? He is spoken of as propitiating the wrath of God; but how can those be interested in his propitiation who are to be the objects of Jehovah's unceasing displeasure? He is described, in fine, as procuring by his death grace and glory; but how can this apply to the case of those who continue under the power of corruption here, and sink hereafter into never-ending perdition? We appeal, then, to the very nature of atonement; we revert to the terms of our definition, in proof of the definite object of Christ's death. Any other view is directly at variance with these terms, and this we should conceive as sufficient in itself to determine the controversy. All views of an indefinite extent are at once put to flight by this question, What is the atonement?

What renders the present argument more em

phatic is, that, previous to the atonement being actually made, multitudes had been placed beyond the reach of ever being benefited by it. Before Christ died many of the human race had gone to the place of woe, where God has forgotten to be gracious, and where his mercy is clean gone. But, according to the opinion we are combating, the eternal salvation of these was included in the designed extent of the atonement. And what have we here? Why, the supposition, not merely that Christ made atonement on Calvary for many who should afterwards, through unbelief, come short of an actual participation in the benefits of his death, but that he made atonement for thousands who, long before he did so, had gone down to irretrievable perdition, and were on this account, at the very time, placed beyond the possibility of ever receiving from his death a single benefit. Such are the palpable inconsistencies, nay, the monstrous absurdities, which the error in question compels men to adopt.

5. The connexion of the death of Christ with his resurrection and his intercession, and with the gift of the Spirit, is here deserving of attention.

The death and resurrection of the Saviour bear a close relation to each other. In whatever character he died, in the same character he rose from the dead. If he laid down his life as Head of the church, and Surety of his people, and Mediator of the covenant, in the same capacities did he take it up again. The persons interested in the one event and in the other, are the same. 'Christ died for our sins, and

« PreviousContinue »