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righteousness of God in Christ needs not to be proved; and we have only to draw the inference, that for all he has not been made sin.
Two other kindred passages may close this department of proof:-'Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it.' Two points, in favour of our position, are furnished
this text:-in the first place, it is the church, and not the world, for which Christ gave himself; and, in the second place, the love of Christ, by which he was actuated in so doing, is peculiar and exclusive towards the church, as that of husbands is required to be toward their wives. The latter consideration completely sets aside the discreditable shift by which some have endeavoured to get rid of this passage, namely, by alleging that Christ's giving himself for the church does not imply that he gave himself for no others. On this principle, we should be obliged to admit that Christ's loving the church does not imply that he loved none else; and, then, what becomes of the passage as setting forth an example or pattern for the imitation of husbands? Analogous to this text is that of the same apostle, in his epistle to Titus:-'Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.' This requires no comment. Those for whom Christ gave himself are a peculiar people, and not the whole race of mankind indiscriminately.
III. Opposed to these arguments are certain OBJECTIONS to the doctrine of a definite atonement, which, it is proper, we should weigh with candour, and against which it becomes us to vindicate the position we have taken up.
1. It is objected that the restriction for which we contend is derogatory to the honour and the merits of Christ.
To this we reply, that it belongs not to man to determine the share of honour due to the Saviour. This is the prerogative of God. And, supposing it admitted-which it is not-that less honour would redound to Christ from his atonement being definite, if the honour of making a definite atonement is all that God designed he should have, or all which he himself claims or expects, what right have men to interfere and say it is not sufficient? On the principle on which this objection rests, might it be contended that Christ made atonement for fallen angels as well as for men, because, forsooth, it may be supposed to be more honouring to Christ to hold such a sentiment than the other. The thing with which we have to do is, not which of two suppositions reflects the greatest degree of honour on the Redeemer, but which is the fact. Jesus claims the honour only of what he performs. He makes not atonement for angels, and claims not the honour of so doing: and if he makes atonement only for some of the human family, the honour of so doing is all he requires, and more he will not receive.
But all this proceeds on the assumption, that what
is alleged is the fact, namely, that the theory of our opponents is, abstractly speaking, more honouring to Christ than the doctrine for which we contend. This, however, is more than we are disposed to concede. The objection overlooks whence it is that the merit or honour of Christ's atonement proceeds; it proceeds not from its efficiency, but from its sufficiency. Its worth is to be estimated, not by what it effects, but by what it is capable of effecting. The latter arises from its intrinsic merit, and is, as we have seen, infinite: the former depends on the sovereign will of God, and may be held to be limited, as in fact it is, without detracting in the slightest degree from the honour and merit of the Saviour. The restriction of the atonement is attributable solely to the divine purpose, and leaves altogether unaffected the intrinsic merits of the Redeemer's work. Sufficiency and efficiency are not always co-extensive, even in the works of God. The evidences of revealed religion supply an apt confirmation of this remark. Every believer in the bible must admit that these evidences are sufficient to convince all, but we know that they are efficient to convince only some. But the restricted extent of their actual efficiency is no valid objection against their perfect sufficiency. Our readers can easily apply this illustration to the point in hand.
Nor is this all. The objection may be fairly retorted on those who make it. It is, in our humble opinion, the doctrine of an indefinite atonement which reflects dishonour on Christ. We think it might
safely be left to the candid decision of any unprejudiced judge to determine, whether it be more dishonouring to Christ to suppose, as our doctrine does, that all for whom he died shall be saved and finally secured in the possession of every gracious benefit; or to suppose, as the doctrine of our opponents does, that the greater number of those for whom he died shall be eternally lost, without deriving from his death a single saving blessing. No rational mind can hesitate to conclude, that it is more glorifying to the High Priest of our profession, to regard his atoning sacrifice as one which infallibly secures the eternal well-being of all for whom it was offered, than to regard it of such a nature as to admit of many for whom it was offered being doomed in justice to everlasting woe. Whether, we ask, is it more creditable to an intelligent agent to maintain that what he performs effects its design, or that it comes short, to a great extent, of accomplishing the object for which it is wrought?
2. It is alleged against our view of the extent of the atonement that it supposes an unnecessary redundancy in the merits of Christ's death.
If Christ's death be, intrinsically considered, of value sufficient for all and yet designed only for some, does not this suppose a superabundance of merit, which is available for no end whatever, and with regard to which the question may be asked, 'To what purpose is this waste?'
To this we reply, in the first place, that, even admitting the divine intention with respect to the
exceeds the extent of
atonement to be unlimited, the same difficulty meets us with regard to a restricted application. Whatever is the extent of destination, it is admitted that the actual efficiency is limited. Now, as in this case the degree of available merit actual good done, every one must perceive that there is as much room as in the other case for the question, 'To what purpose is this waste?' The difficulty presses with as great force on the opinion of our opponents as on ours.
Again, it may be remarked, that it accords with the general procedure of God in other departments of his works, to confer his favours with a profusion which to many may seem redundant and unnecessary. For example, he causes his rain to fall on barren deserts, sterile rocks, and the watery deep, as well as on fertile hills and valleys. There are many fertile tracts of land which have never been cultivated; much spontaneous fruit grows in regions where there is not an inhabitant. And how many flowers expand their blossoms and diffuse their fragrance, in wilds where there is not a human being to admire their beauty or inhale their sweets. Are we at liberty to say that, in such cases, there is a wasteful exuberance of divine goodness or of providential care? No more can it be said that, in the case before us, there is an unnecessary redundance of merit. We must not, in the one case any more than in the other, presume to limit the Almighty, or to sit in judgment on the works of his hand; but firmly believe it will be seen in the end that he has done nothing in vain.