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blood of atonement says, “Reprobation is not in me." An atonement exhibited to vindicate absolute reprobation, would convulse the universe.
The Extent of the Atonement explained by the
character of the Divine Purposes.
The advocates of a limited atonement have always appealed to the divine purposes as the impregnable defences of particular salvation. The real state of the question, I deem to be this–Did the Father will, and did the Son design, that the atonement should be a medium of salvation to all men, or to a select chosen number only?
The question is not to be decided by the event, but by the nature of a "design” in a moral government, Thus were we to inquire whether Jehovah designed that the moral law published on Sinai should preserve all the Jews, in his service and worship-no one would answer and decide the question by the event, without reflecting unfavorably on the sincerity of the divine character. We may justly say that a thing is designed to produce and secure any end, when it is fitted and adapted to it, though eventually it may fail of it. The arrangement with Adam in the garden of Eden was adapted, and consequently designed, to keep him from falling. The event indeed was otherwise, but the purpose was sincere and real. So the atonement of Christ is adapted, and therefore designed, to save man from sin, though the event in numerous instances may be otherwise. Some will not come unto him that they might have life, they will not have him to rule over them, they neglect their great salvation, and tread under foot the blood wherewith they were atoned, and deny and reject the Lord that bought them.
Commercial views of the atonement of Christ engender sentiments about the divine decrees unfavorable to the character of divine veracity. If the atonement consist in the literal suffering of the real penalty due to a certain number of offenders, it is evident that the identical penalty due to the others has not been suffered, and consequently that there is no provision whatever made and designed for their salvation. This commercial atonement gives the sinner no alternative. The penalty must be suffered before he can be saved; and if Christ has not suffered it for him, he must suffer it himself; and if he suffer it himself he will not survive it, he will be lost—and lost because the quantum of his punishment was not enumerated in the amount of penalties allotted for atonement. Yet he is condemned and punished for not availing himself of the sufferings of Christ as the means of his salvation, whereas, according to the true verity of the case, these sufferings were never provided or intended, or designed to be at all available for him: it was never decreed that Christ should profit him. If the divine purposees run thus, the universal aspect of the atonement is an imposing semblance; the urgent general call of the gospel is serious trifling; and the condenination for unbelief—for not believing what was really not true,—for rejecting what he verily was never welcome to,-such a condemnation is an enormity, for which all the languages of the globe have no epithet.
The friends of a particular and limited atonement argue that the Father's election, and the Son's redemption, are of the same extent, or relate to the same individual persons, to all such, and to none else: so that all the chosen people are redeemed, and all the redeemed are the chosen to salvation. They also plead that there is not in the scriptures the least intimation that Christ's redemption either exceeds or falls short of the Father's election, in one single instance or individual person.
The fallacy of this argument is in the word "redemption." This word has various meanings. Redemption means, either the ransom price, or the price of redemption-or it means, the act of paying down that price;
or else, by metonymy, it means the effect of such a payment, meaning the state produced by such a ransoming. This effect in the case of a sinner is, a state of forgiveness, acceptance with God, and admission to heaven. In the above argument the effect of paying the ransom price is confounded with the act of paying it. In the argument, "redemption” means the effect, the final result of paying the price. This final result of the atonement will not derange any of the plans of God, as to his determination to exercise sovereign speciality in the application of the atonement. Our question is, was the act of paying the ransom price by Christ designed to be available to all, so “that the world through him might be saved,” or only designed for a certain chosen number. We say fearlessly, that the final results of the atonement will only be realized by those who receive Christ, and to whom it has been given to believe in him; but the act of making that atonemennt, and the offer of the benefits of the atonement are designed and purposed to be a medium of salvation to all men, without excluding one individual. If the word "redemption” be taken in the sense of “actual salvation,” then Christ's redemption neither exceeds, nor falls short of, the Father's election. If "redemption” be taken in the sense of paying down the ransom price, or a valuable and honorable consideration, as a medium for delivering sinners, then Christ's redemption and the Father's election are not commensurate and of equal extent, taking "the Father's election" as meaning the will of God revealed in the final results of the atonement. It is supposed, even by our Savior himself, that the result will not be commensurate with the gracious design of God, and with the large aspect of the atonement. God lored the world, and gave his Son, that the world through him might be saved-but it is only whosoever believeth in him, it is he only that will answer the design, and share in the result of the atonement. The atonement is a measure of government, not of private love and friendship, but of a public commonwealth. In such a public measure, the public will of the Father, as moral
governor, and the public design and intent of Christ, as mediator, are commensurate. God willeth all men to be saved, therefore Christ gave himself a ransom for all.
From the divine purposes, the advocates of a limited atonement argue, that since Christ foreknew the results of the atonement, and since he foreknew who would believe in him, why should he die and lavish his blood for those who, he knew, would not believe in him.
This argument is founded on three things, which are wrong, and inconsistent with moral government. It is supposed, first, that foreknowledge is the rule of Christ's conduct and actions; secondly, that to save believers was the chief end of his sufferings; and, thirdly, that his death consisted in suffering the identical punishment due to sinners; for it supposes, that he would not knowingly suffer the punishment of those, who, he knew, should suffer the punishment themselves. If the question be repeated, Why did he suffer for those, whom he knew to be sure to prove unbelievers? The reply is, he suffered to vindicate the character of God in offering pardon to them—and he suffered, to shew how inexcusable they would be in their own destruction.
But why should this foreknowledge be confined to the atonement of Christ only? The Lord Jesus Christ knew that his own would receive him not, yet he came to them. He knew that the Jews would reject the overtures of his ministry, yet he said, and he said it with tears of regret, that he would oft have gathered them. He knew that many would neglect his great salvation, yet he gave himself a propitiation for the sins of the whole world. I might remark, in passing, that he would not have foreknown that any would disbelieve in him, without foreknowing that they would have the offer, the warrant, and the opportunity to believe in him, and that the ground of such an offer and warrant was his own death for them.
Another argument from the character of the divine decrees to maintain particular atonement is, that a general atonement throws an air of uncertainty around the plans
and the purposes of God and of disappointment around the travails of the soul of Christ.
It must be remembered that we are concerned in the divine decrees, only as they are admioistered within the circle of moral government: and that beyond that line they are secret things,” unrevealed, and belonging to God only. Within this boundary, it should not be evaded nor blinked, that the divine plans are susceptible of failures. When God by Isaiah remonstrates with the Jewish church, and asks, “What could I have done more?” it is implied that all the measures which had been used, had failed of their ends. It is implied in the sentiments of Jesus Christ himself, when he supposes his Father to say, “They will reverence my Son," though after all he was slain and murdered. It is therefore a morbid squeamishness that makes us afraid to avow what are daily matters of fact. This failure has taken place in creation—it was made “very good,” but now is groaning and travailing together in pain. It takes place in providence, for in it God has determined the bounds of men's habitation, that they might seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him; but they are all gone astray, every one in his own way. It takes place in the atonement; Christ died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live to themselves, but unto him who died for them—but many deny the Lord that bought them, and renounce his reign over them.
It is sometimes vauntingly asked, “Where does the scriptures speak of Christ's death, and the ends of it, in terms of uncertainty; or represent him as coming short of his aim and intention in dying for sinners?" In Heb. iv. 1, the apostle warns some who might seem to come short for the rest of the people of God. God has no rest to offer to any sinner but through the death of Christ. To fall short of it is a possible case, and no one can fall short of a thing that was never provided and intended for him. This rest could not have been provided but through the death of Christ. It is a supposable case that an uncharitable Christian may "destroy him for