Page images

The extent of

the application of Christ's atonement. application is also allowed, on both hands, to be limited. Our opponents must admit that the atonement is made effectual only to some. Only such as believe, ultimately come to share in the benefits of the Redeemer's purchase; and it is admitted that all men have not faith. There have been persons-as Puccius and Huberas among the ancients-who have maintained that all men actually reap the saving benefits of Christ's blood; and there are those even in our own day, who contend for the ultimate eternal welfare of the whole race of mankind: but as these sentiments are held in connexion with the most vague and erroneous views of the nature of the Redeemer's work, in connexion in short with a denial of the doctrine of atonement, with those who maintain them we cannot consider ourselves as having at present any dispute. Those with whom we contend restrict the application of atonement to believers, while they allow that many shall perish finally and eternally in a state of unbelief.

3. The present question, then, hinges solely on the divine intention regarding the subjects of atonement, or what is called the destination of Christ's death. This, some maintain, extends to all mankind without exception, and not to those merely who are saved by it in the end. This is the turning point of the controversy. The question is not, whether Christ's atonement is sufficient for all, or whether all finally enjoy the benefit of his atonement: but whether it was the secret design, intention, or deter

mination of God that his Son should make atonement for all, or only for the select specified number who are finally saved. Now, confining ourselves to the divine intention or design regarding the objects of the atonement, there are only these supposable cases, one of which must constitute the truth on this important and much litigated point:-The design or intention of God must have been, that his Son should make atonement by his death;-either for SOME of the sins of ALL men—or for ALL the sins of ALL menor for ALL the sins of SOME men-or for the sins of No man in particular, but for SIN IN GENERAL. The first of these suppositions we do not know to be held by any nor is this wonderful, when it is considered, that to die for only some of the sins of men would avail nothing for salvation, as what remained unatoned for would be sufficient to ensure condemnation. The second and the fourth are involved in one another, as the advocates of universal or indefinite atonement seem to mean, by Christ's dying for the sins of all men, that his death was a moral satisfaction to the divine law for sin in general, which, without a designed reference to any one in particular, was capable of being applied to all. Now this is the sentiment which we mean to oppose, by proving and vindicating the third supposition, namely, that it was the design or intention of God that his Son should make atonement for ALL the sins of SOME men only.

II. These explanations prepare the way for the PROOF that the atonement is definite or limited as

to its extent, that is to say, that Christ made atonement for the sins of only some men.

1. And here we appeal, first of all, to the speciality and immutability of the divine purpose respecting the subjects of salvation.

We enter not on the wide field of controversy connected with the doctrine of divine decrees. A sovereign act of election from all everlasting is admitted, we believe, by those with whom we at present contend. Indeed, it is difficult to see how this can be denied by any who believe in the wisdom and foreknowledge of God, or who pay respect to the direct testimony of scripture. It is admitted that there is such a thing as salvation, and that this salvation is the privilege, not of all, but only of some of the human race. It must also be admitted, that, in effecting salvation, the Divine Being acts agreeably to a preconceived plan or designed arrangement. To deny this is to impute to the infinitely wise God conduct such as we ascribe only to the most foolish and thoughtless among men; conduct such as is exemplified in no other department of the Almighty's works, for in all of them we meet with such order and regularity as evince the existence of an original purpose or design. Well, then, if God, in the matter of salvation, acts according to design, and it so happens that salvation is limited in its application to some, does it not follow that it was the design of God that it should be so limited? And, if it was the eternal purpose of God that only some should be saved by the death of Christ, with what propriety

can it be held that it was his design that Christ should die for all? Does not this amount to the supposition, that God designed his Son should die for some to whom it was not his design that his death should be effectual? That is to say, that it was God's design that the death of Christ should be ineffectual with regard to some of those for whom it was designed that God designed the existence of a cause which should not be attended with its designed effect. This appears to us to be unworthy a Being of infinite wisdom, and at variance with the direct scripture testimony, that whom he did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, them he also called, and whom he called them he also justified, and whom he justified them he also glorified.

Besides, the purposes of God must be allowed to be immutable. Scripture asserts, and reason approves the assertion, that his counsel stands and he will do all his pleasure. All the designs of a Being of infinite wisdom and almighty power must be fulfilled. It is impossible to see how they can ever be frustrated. To assert that they can, savours of blasphemy. If, therefore, it was the design of God that Christ should make atonement for all, this design must be accomplished in the salvation of all. But, if the fact is that only some are saved, it must have been the design of God that atonement should be made only for some, else the designs of God may be frustrated-the intentions of the divine will may be disappointed. If it was the purpose of God that atonement should be made for all, and yet the fact

turns out to be that only some are benefited by the atonement, how comes it about that it fails with regard to the others? It cannot be from any deficiency of knowledge, for God is omniscient. It cannot be from any deficiency of wisdom, for his understanding is infinite. It cannot be from any alteration of affection, for he rests in his love. It cannot be from any defect of power, for his arm is omnipotent, and who hath resisted his will? We are reduced to the conclusion that the design of God, whatever it is, is infallibly accomplished, and of course, are compelled to adopt the opinion, that, as the atonement actually extends but to some, it was the original purpose of the divine will that it should not extend further. The fact is the best interpreter of the divine intention.

2. The rectitude of the divine character conducts to the same inference.

Shall not the judge of all the earth do right? A God of truth, and without iniquity, just and right is he. Reason, conscience, revelation, and providence all concur in attesting this perfection of his nature. The supreme Being gives to every one his due. This principle cannot be violated in a single instance. He cannot, according to this, either remit sin without satisfaction, or punish sin where satisfaction for it has been received. The one is as inconsistent with perfect equity as the other. If the punishment for sin has been borne, the remission of the offence follows of course. The principles of rectitude suppose this, nay peremptorily demand it; justice could not

« PreviousContinue »