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2. The Lord Jesus Christ was perfectly benevolent. As a benevolent Being he would not be satisfied with any measure that was wrong, unjust, and injurious in any of its bearings. If the speciality of divine sovereignty were such a measure in reality, he would not have approved of it. He viewed the exercise of divine sovereignty as a source of happiness to the world. "It seemed good in thy sight.” God knows what is really "good," and Christ knew what was “good” in the "sight of God." The exercise of sovereignty is “good” in the sight of God; why is it an evil in your sight? You are not a better judge than He is of what is truly benevolent.
3. The Lord Jesus Christ was altogether holy. As a holy Being he could not be pleased with what was unholy in itself, or had an unholy tendency. He could not be pleased with any thing that would cause sin, or that would supply an apology for sin. There are systems of theology that suppose that this is precisely the case with this doctrine of sovereign speciality. Many argue that it produces heedlessness and licentiousness, and that is an excuse for living in sin. It should, however, be remembered that this is the “sovereignty” of theological systems—not the sovereignty of God as revealed in the scriptures. In that, Christ who knew his Father's sovereignty, saw no aspect or tendency of the kind and we must allow that what had, or what had not, a holy tendency was known to him.
4. The Lord Jesus Christ was deeply interested in the subject? It was by the exercise of this sovereignty that he was to see of the travail of his soul. thought that his harvest would have been larger and more splendid, if it had been left to the self-determining sovereignty of the human will. He regarded it as more sure in the hands of his Father. Divine sovereignty settles every jewel in the mediatorial diadem. This arrangement made Christ happy. Why does it not make you happy? One of the parties, Christ or you, must be wrong! Bethink ye-You often read of
his toils and labors, of his sorrows and tears, you never hear of his rejoicing but this once, and then it was in his views of divine sovereignty! This glorious subject made him "rejoice in spirit.”
It unfolded "the joy that was set before him." For the exercise of sovereignty, be "thanked” bis Father, the Lord of heaven and earth. He considered these special displays of sovereignty as exhibiting God worthy of all gratitude, praise and glory. That God should exercise his sovereignty to secure the designs of the atonement against utter failure, the Lord Jesus Christ considered as an honor conferred on his mediatorial undertaking. The clear and ample manifestations which the exercise of sovereignty gives of the entire character of God, the immense and magnificent accession of happiness wbich it brings to the universe,—the full consistency of its operations with the honors of infinite justice, surround the CROSS with a halo that is ineffable and “full of glory.”
ON THE ATONEMENT IN ITS RELATION TO THE
The designs of the Atonement to be infallibly secured
in certain instances.
The designs of the atonernent in reference to mankind have already been secured in numerous instances; and we are informed by the scriptures that there shall be such instances of its success, in every age of the world. The persons, in whom the success of the atonement is instanced, form what is called, the church of Christ. These instances are not matters of chance,they are the result of definite purpose, and of an adjusted plan settled in eternity. God will direct that the workings of the great principles of the atonement shall infallibly issue in the personal salvation of a multitude which no man can number, so that "the faith of God shall not become of none effect."
He is a theologian of no mean temerity who will meet this statement with a negative. It would be, in fact, to say that the designs of the atonement come to pass at random.
Hitherto the doctrine of this statement has been combated only by a liberal use of the ample and furnished arguments about the free agency of man; but in the heat of conflict, and the din of battle, it has been forgotten that God is a FREE agent, as well as man. Besides, in the smoke and dust of polemics, these arguments have been brandished as if man would always use his free agency well, if he were left to it; and God could never use his free agency
infringing on the rights of man. A theological system founded upon the hypothesis, that if God ever exercise his free agency, He is sure to exercise it wrong; or, if he does what he wills with his own, he is sure to injure some persons, should indeed make its defenders examine more minutely its foundations, and take heed to the towers thereof.
The 'certain instances' in which the designs of the atonement shall be secured, mean, special cases of definite persons. It is meant that personal predestination shall certainly issue in personal salvation. If the reader would rather have the statement that they who were personally foreknown shall be personally called and glorified, I can have no objection to it, for “whom God did foreknow, them he also predestinated, and whom he predestinated them he also called." To cut off the link of predestination, will not make the links of foreknowledge and calling fit better into each other, and thus make the chain look fairer or stronger. Suppose the chain ran, "whom he foreknew them he also called,” how is it improved? What did God foreknow about the called? He foreknew that they were enemies to him by wicked works, that this enmity would by no means change itself into love—that they would not make themselves to differ—that they would never listen to his call, unless he would give them his Spirit 10 take away the heart of stone-and he foreknew that he would give them that Spirit. “Yes” it is rejoined, "but he foreknew it conditionally.” This is one of the jargons of systematic theology. A definition of "con
. ditional fore-knowledge,” is a great desideratum in moral and theological science. Does it mean that God foreknows the meeting between the agent and the condition—but does not see any further,—does not foreknow what the result of the meeting will be? If God does not see the result, it cannot be called foreKNOWLEDGE. The principles of mental philosophy, as well as the revelations of theology know no more of conditional fore-knowledge, than they know of condi
tional past knowledge. A man who, in order to maintain a fond metaphysical conceit, would assert that a certain event in the Roman empire was but conditionally known to historians, must calculate largely on the tender mercies of mankind not to be treated as a dreamer. If there be any prophecies which have come to pass, and which God only foreknew conditionally, the question is decided.
God foreknew with perfect certainty the special instances in which the designs of the atonement should be secured in the personal salvation of particular individuals. I use the phrase, personal or particular salvation, rather than that of particular redemption, for this reason.
The phrase, particular redemption, as often used in theological discussion, covers a a fallacy which is seldom detected in the heat of argument. If by particular redemption is meant that the ransom price was given only for some particular persons;—if it means that only some particular persons were atoned for, then it is wrong, and directly opposed to the scriptures. If the phrase particular redemption means that only some particular persons shall in the event prove to be actually delivered from sin to heaven, then it is true, just in the same way as particular providence is
A particular providence is the operation of the provisions of a general providence, sovereignly directed to bear upon the interest of special particular persons, and particular salvation is the working of a general atonement, made to bear upon the interests of particular persons, with sovereign speciality. The advocates of general atonement never mean by such a phrase, a general actual deliverance of all men from sin and misery in the event; they simply mean by the word "redemption," the ransom price, the atonement that was offered up for all, that whosoever believeth, might be saved. The phrase "particular salvation,” then, seems to steer clear of the supposed fallacy.
I. The absolute or perfect certainty of the particular salvation of special persons is not at all inconsistent with