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act thus about the atonement. General atonement and particular redemption are no more inconsistent than a general and particular providence. No argument can be brought against a general atonement which will not fall with the same weight and edge upon a general Providence. There are no difficulties connected with particular redemption, which do not adhere as closely to particular providence. It would be regarded as the drivelling of silliness to argue that if there be a particular providence, there cannot be a general one. Of the same estimate is the reasoning, that if there be a particular redemption, the atonement can not be universal. As general providence becomes particular, only by personal application, so does general atonement become particular redemption. “Whosoever will, let him come, and take of the water of life freely;" “and him that cometh, I will in no wise cast out.” The supposed farmer never suspected that he was not personally intended in the general promise of Providence. If his crop has not answered his expectations, he sees and feels that the failure was owing to the nature of the soil and not to a deficiency in the promise; for it was never promised, that if he ploughed the rock, or sowed the sea shore, that he should have a harvest. And why should any sinner suspect that he is not personally interested in the atonement, and that the general atonement is not available to his particular and personal case? There is not in the scriptures, even the most remote allusion to any class of sinners, for whom Christ did not die. In the whole history of salvation and of man, there is not on record a single instance of a personal application of the general atonement failing of
success. No personal applicant at the door of the atonement has ever perished. Christ has never said to any suppliant, “I never meant you individually." If any sinner who knows the atonement perishes, even in his destruction he sees, that his perdition is not through a deficiency in the atonement, for the atonement had never promised or provided, if he sowed to the flesh that from the flesh he should reap everlasting life. If you heard some of the family of the supposed farmer quibbling about the divine decrees, and saying that they were never designed to be farmers, and that they did not think providence would ever bless them in such an undertaking, you would conclude that at heart they had no liking for the work. It is, I believe, universally true that no sinner quibbles about the secret designs of the atonement, but when he has no liking to the personal application of it, to condemn himself and to justify the divine government. When Paul's fellow passengers laid hold on the "boards and broken pieces of the ship," they had no timne to quibble about secret decrees, they made the provisions of general providence available to their particular cases, and they all succeeded. Let every sinner go, and do likewise.
The Providence of God treats men as moral and free agents. Providence will do for a man nothing that he can do for himself. Providence will give seed to the sower, but it will not sow it nor reap the crop for him. Providence will fill the sails of the vessel with gales, but it will not steer at the helm. Providence makes no arrangement to encourage the idleness or inactivity of man, but all its provisions require and demand the full exercise of his agency. God promised to feed the Israelites in the wilderness with manna, but they were to gather and prepare it for food. Providence gives us our daily bread,” but not in baked loaves falling from the sky. Providence supplies us with raiment, but not in ready-made clothes descending upon us without any agency
of our own. Providence has made bread to be the staff of life, but here it meets us as free agents, for if we do not exercise our own agency to partake of it, it will avail us nothing. The administration of the atonement meets man in the same manner, as a free agent. It does nothing for him that he can do for himself. It presents to his eyes, "Him whom he has pierced," but he himself must repent and weep. It shews, to him “a new and a living way to the Father,
but he himself must walk in it. It supplies him with a
. “sovereign and sufficient remedy," but he himself must "receive” it. If he refuse the balm of Gilead, it will not heal him. If he neglect this great salvation, it will not save him. If he will not have this man to rule over him, he will not be delivered from the kingdom of darkness. As providence deals with free agents so does the atonement. Take these statements about the atonement simply and candidly as they are presented to you, and you will admit, you must admit, that they are the real facts of the case. Will you venture to wrest them because they run not parallel with the lines of your theological system? These arrangements about the atonement are no more dishonorable to the character of God, than are the similar measures about the providence of God. Whatever may be the failures of providence during the economy of probation, we know that the upshot of the whole will be to the everlasting glory of God, and that all his perfections and purposes will appear guiltless of those failures. So will the administration of the atonement of Christ be unto God a sweet savor, even in them that perish. Though his death prove of none effect to those who were bent on being justified by the law, and to them who would not obey him, yet the illustrious Redeemer shall not fail of the travail of his soul. It should be remembered that the mere salvation of sinful men was not the only thing for which the soul of Christ travailed. He travailed for the glory of God, for the honor of the law, for the condemnation of sin, for the free overtures of the gospel, for the gracious acceptance of sinners, for the inexcusableness of wilful rejecters, and for the righteousness of their sorer punishment. Of all this travail he shall see. And while he is glorified in his saints and admired in them that believe, he will be justified and adored in the punishment of the refusers of his salvation, for the language of all intelligences will be "Amen, just and true are thy ways, thou king of saints."
These remarks shew that the moral Governor who directs the administration of the atonement, is not a Ruler different from him who regulates the dispensations of providence. In proceeding from one to another, we make no transition into the works and principles of a different God. We have already considered that the whole system of the universe was of a mediatorial character, and that, had it not been for the substituted sufferings of the Seed of the woman, there would have been no providence exercised towards the human race, for they would never bave come into being. The dispensations of providence, therefore, must take their character from the medium through which they are administered; and this medium is the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ. Providence began with the atonementit continued to be administered through the atonementand it will for ever close with the closing dispensation of the atonement. The close of one is the close of the other. A season will come when there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin, when the merits of the atonement will be no longer available to our world, when the time of probation for receiving the benefits of the atonement will close, and then will providence close for ever. Then, “Let him that is holy be holy still, and him that is filthy be filthy still."
From the whole of this train of observations, the inference is inevitable that God exercises no providence in this world with which the atonement has not a close and constant relation, and that they are both administered upon the same principles of moral government.
A limited Atonement inconsistent with the administra
tion of Providence.
An atonement designed for a limited number only, is inconsistent with the general claim which Jesus Christ makes to govern and regulate the duties, the affections, the homage, and the destinies of every man on the face of the earth.
The Lord Jesus Christ claims the heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession. This passage is sometimes interpreted as meaning, that the inheritance which Christ claims consists only of his elect people among the heathen. If so, the rest of the heathen, who remain unconverted, are not rebels against Christ. Against what can they be said to have rebelled? Is it against his claims to them? No; according to this limited hypothesis; for he does not claim them personally, but only the elect who lived among them. In such a case their non-submission to his rule and government is no sin to be laid to their charge, for the mediatorial king is supposed to lay no claim to them. Can it be a crime in any of the heathen not to submit to a claim which has never been made on thein? When the mediatorial Judge will say, “Slay those enemies that would not have me to rule over them,” might they not silently murmur or retort, "would not?” Was it ever offered to us to have thee to rule over us? Didst thou ever lay claims to our homage and obedience? Suppose that these foes themselves dared not mutter such a retort, would not thoughts and hints of this kind suggest themselves to holy intelligences, who actually knew the truth and verity of the case? | should like to hear an abettor of limited atonement remonstrate and reason with a class of rebels who said, “We will not have this man to rule over us.” His theological system would not require him to say, “You will not have him. Stop;are you sure you could have had him? Did he ever ask you to have him? Since you have rejected him it is a proof that he never sincerely intended you to take him, or else he would have made you to have him before now.” After such an address let him try to impress on their minds their accountableness to this mediatorial Ruler, the inexcusableness of their destruction, the guilt of their rejection of Christ,