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vestigations respecting the atonement have been conducted with the purpose of limiting its nature and of degrading it to the littleness of a mere commercial transaction. The doctrine which confines the sacrifice of Christ in all its relations to the literal payment of the debt of the elect is, we humbly conceive, highly anti-scriptural and insulting to the Son of God. The influence of this dogma is to embarrass the ministry in the proclamation of mercy-to rob the scheme of redemption of that "glory that excelleth," and to cripple that expansive benevolence which aims at the salvation of the world because it believes that through the blood of Christ's propitiation “the world might be saved.” Strange that such a doctrine should be identified, in the minds of some, with the essence of all orthodoxy. But this illusion will not continue long. God, in training the intellect of his church to those views of truth befitting her era of coming glory, will teach it to break over the inclosures which man's wisdom has reared round the atonement, and to contemplate that doctrine in the light of revelation alone, unclouded by human theory. The Church must and will be brought back to primitive conceptions on this great subject. No one who has carefully studied the doctrinal parts of the New Testament, can fail to be convinced that the unparalleled success of the gospel in the first age of Christianity, was greatly owing to the enlarged and exalted views which the apostles entertained of the sacrifice of Christ, as "a propitiation for the sins of the whole world.” They felt that they had a remedy to propose for human acceptance amply adequate to the ruins of the apostacy. They saw in the blood of the cross a balm for the healing of all the nations. This in their minds constituted the great master-thought respecting the atonement. This created that mighty impulse which bore the great apostle of the Gentiles along in the travels and toils and perils of his extraordinary career. The gratitude and responsive love awakened in the hearts of apostles and primitive Christians, by contemplating the stupendous love and mercy of God, in the full provisions of the atonement for a dying world, became the great master-passion of their souls. This kindled the quenchless fires of their zeal and "burnt in upon” their hearts the invincible purpose of living for the conversion of the world. For the atainment of this great object yet held out to the hopes and efforts of the church, we must return to apostolic views and emotions in reference to the atonement. Sanctified genius must yet learn to "glory in nothing save in the cross of Christ Jesus the Lord.” The whole intellect of the church must gather round Cal. vary and tax its gigantic energies in grasping the magni. tude and tracing the relations of that one offering for sin which the Son of God made of himself there.
It is no presumption to suppose that that transaction may have influences and bearings on the character and destinies of the race, which have hitherto been but partially understood and as partially applied in the great work of saving the world. Is it an unreasonable conjecture that there are yet some "hidings of the power" of eternal love in the atonement, which shall be sought and found and brought out in their sway upon the hearts of apostate men for their salvation--that there are yet the reserved glories of infinite mercy there, which some mind favored of God shall discover and disclose to the world when its vision is sufficiently pure and piercing to behold them? Is it too much to hope for, that under the power of that Spirit which "searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God” the intellect of the church will yet be trained to see the atonement of Christ in a new and celestial light, and in new and mightier relations to earth and to the universe! It must be admitted that the system of revealed truth is complete, and that no new disclosures of inspiration are to be expected. But this does not prove that the human mind has yet contemplated all the truths of that system in all their great and more extended relations. The system of the material creation was as perfect when God spake it into being and pronounced it very good as it is now. And like the system of revealed truth, its obvious facts and their immediate relations were known as soon as there was an intelligent mind on earth to contemplate them. But this does not prove that Adam, Noah, or Abraham was as great an astronomer as Isaac Newton, or that either of them ever saw or understood many of the laws and relations of matter which were perfectly familiar to this prince of science.
The primary and fundamental truths of revealed religion, and their proximate relations have been known to men in all ages and being necessary to salvation, must be such in their very nature that the great mass of mind can comprehend them without learned effort. But this does not prove that there are not more remote and farreaching relations of divine truth, which are legitimately the subject of investigation and discovery through every age till the end of time.
There is an obvious difference between a revealed fact and the relations of that fact to other facts or things in the universe. The fact itself may be manifest to the understanding of a child. The relations of that fact may be sufficiently great and extended to employ the powers of an angel
Now whether we consider the atonement in its origin in the counsels of the trinity, and in the depths of infinite and everlasting love, or as a measure of that moral government which Jehovah will extend over man and other in.
telligences through eternity, it seems reasonable to suppose that it must have numerous, widely extended, and remote relations.
The characteristic peculiarity of this work is the extended view which the author takes of the relations of the atonement. The volume presents nothing striking or original in any other respect; nay, it contains many remarks on the subject of divine justice, law, penalty, moral government, &c. which to most American readers will appear quite common, compared with the comprehensive and masterly discussions of the same topics by our own Edwards, Bellamy, Dwight, Beecher, and others. Still, as a treatise on the grand relations of the atonement, it is a book which may be emphatically said to contain the seeds of things"—the elements of mightier and nobler combinations of thought respecting the sacrifice of Christ than any modern production. A mere glance at the titles of some of the chapters will amply attest the truth of this remark. Nor are they empty titles. They are sustained from the commencement to the close of the various chapters which they characterize, by highly original and dense trains of thought, which make the reader feel that he is holding communion with a mind that can "mingle with the universe."
The author, in tracing these vast and sublime relations, takes occasion to refute triumphantly the dogma of a limited atonement, and to establish with an irresistible force of conviction the opposite doctrine. We consider this volume as setting the long and fiercely agitated question of the extent of the atonement, completely at rest. Posterity will thank the author till the latest ages for his arguments and illustrations, founded on the following propositions respecting the atonement. “The extent of the atonement illustrated by its relation to the divine attri
butes." "If the atonement consists in the substitute's suffering the identical penalty due to a limited number of offenders, and in suffering it for that number only, to the exclusion of all the lost. Such an atonement mars the character of every attribute of God.” It “dishonors the infinite veracity of God,"-it "exhibits infinite mercy as inadequate, restrained, and exclusive,"'-—"infinite justice has its glory obscured by a commercial and limited atonement.” “The hypothesis of a commercial and limited atonement destroys the glories of free and sovereign grace in dispensing pardon.” “The honors of infinite benevolence are disparaged by this commercial redemption.” “The wisdom of God shows us all the dishonor which a commercial and limited atonement, casts upon the other perfections of God." These in the hands of our author are not bare assertions or meagerly substantiated propositions. They are confirmed by a train of clear, cogent argument as we think absolutely irrefutable.
His next topic is, “The extent of the atonement explained by the character of the divine purposes.” We would recommend all those who have adduced the decree of election and other divine purposes as their great argu. ment for a limited atonement to read this Sec. of Chap. IV. and show us the fallacy of the author's reasoning. When he has done this he may then take hold of the following proposition and dispose of it—"The extent of the atonement illustrated by its relation to the universe." After a careful perusal, let any gainsay it who can.
He goes on to state and prove these remaining propositions“A limited atonement inconsistent with a moral government”—“A limited atonement inconsistent with the providence of God”-“Particular atonement inconsistent with the substituted sufferings of Christ"_"The universality of the atonement consistent with the limited promulgation