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 HAVING already considered the necessity, the reality, and the nature of the atonement, the way is now prepared to enter on an examination of its EXTENT. Two opinions have prevailed, and do still prevail, in the Christian Church, in relation to this important point; and it is the object of the present inquiry to ascertain, if possible, the real state of the case, in relation to these conflicting opinions, as presented in the oracles of the living God. Before we proceed to the merits of the question, it is proper to have a clear and distinct apprehension of its import. The point now to be settled is, whether Christ died to make an atonement for the sins of the elect alone, or those who will finally be saved, or whether his sacrifice is general and ample, opening the door of mercy to our sinful race.

It is readily perceived, that the principles defended in the last chapter, in relation to the nature of this satisfaction, must have an intimate connection with this point. If the atonement is to be considered as the literal payment of a debt, or, in other words, if it consisted in suffering the exact penalty of the law, in the room of those who will be saved, it is manifest, that it must be limited in its extent. In this case it would be a provision which must be regulated according to the principles of commutative justice. If one soul were to be saved by the atonement, Christ must sustain an amount of suffering equal to that involved in the eternal condemnation of that one soul; and if a thousand were to be saved, Christ must suffer a thousand times that amount, and in the same proportion for any greater number who are to be rescued from perdition and exalted to glory. To this scheme there are insurmountable objections. The most important of these have been already stated, and others very naturally suggest themselves in this place. Such a view of the sufferings of Christ apportioning them exactly and definitively to the number of those who will be saved, is no where sanctioned or so much as hinted at in the Bible. It would seem too that Christ could not, in this sense, have atoned for the sins of men; for not-withstanding his divinity, his human nature was alone susceptible of suffering. Now as a single sin deserved eternal misery, which certainly implies infinite suffering-we cannot see how every sin of all the redeemed could have been expiated, in a few short hours, by the agonies endured by the human nature of Christ, though this nature was united to the Godhead. Jesus Christ could not have made an adequate atonement if this atonement implied, that he must endure sufferings equal in quantum to the eternal damnation of all those who will finally be saved. This point can be made clear. The Godhead could not suffer; and while the passion of Jesus Christ on the cross was, no doubt, greatly increased in dignity by the union of his human nature with the divine, it was, nevertheless, humanity alone that suffered. This humanity, however elevated, was finite, and no finite being could, in a limited time, endure the infliction of an infinite penalty. There are but two ways in which an infinite penalty, or, which is the same thing, an infinite amount of natural evil, can be endured by any being. One is, the sufferer may be finite, and the duration infinite; the other, the sufferer may be infinite, and the duration finite. The lost sinner, in the unwasting ages of eternity, will suffer such a penalty, or endure such an amount of natural evil; and Jesus Christ might have suffered an equal penalty, or have endured an equal amount of evil, in a few hours of agony on the cross, if the divine nature had actually suffered with the human. But as the sufferings of Christ, as God, will not be maintained by any, the argument on this point is decisive: Jesus Christ did not sustain the full amount of wrath which would have been, to all eternity, inflicted on all those who will be saved by his death.

On the other hand, if the atonement consisted, as has been shown in the former chapter, in the infliction of such sufferings upon the Lord Jesus Christ as would amply vindicate the divine character, and sustain the government of God, in the salvation of sinners, then an atonement sufficient for one, would be an atonement sufficient for all. If, in one word, this atonement merely opened the door of mercy-if it prepared the way for the offer and the exercise of pardon, then it must go upon the broad ground, and limitation is out of the question.

But there is another kind of testimony in favor of a general atonement, which remains to be exhibited; testimony which the plainest christian can comprehend, which is either drawn from the express declarations of the scriptures, or founded on the obvious and acknowledged principles of the gospel. That the atonement made by Jesus Christ is general in its character, may be fully established by the following considerations.

The invitations or offers of the gospel, are made indiscriminately to all. This declaration, it is presumed, will not be denied or doubted by those who are well acquainted with their Bibles. Such passages as the following speak of the largeness and freedom of the gospel call. "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth." "Repent ye, and believe the gospel," "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." The declaration, made to those who were invited to the feast of salvation in the parable, was, "Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready; come unto the marriage." And those who were thus invited to come and partake of the entertainment already prepared for them, are the identical persons who "made light of it, and went their ways," and were eventually destroyed for their contempt and rejection of the call. This was a practical illustration of the principle which is stated at the close of the parable. "Many are called, but few are chosen." That is, many are invited to the gospel feast who never come-many enjoy the free and gracious offer of all those blessings which are connected with the atonement, but continuing to reject this offer, they give evidence that they belong not to the number of God's chosen and peculiar people, and they necessitate their own destruction.

In support of the declaration, that the invitations of the gospel are made to all, we might transcribe page after page of the Bible. Upon this fact depends the whole business of preaching the gospel. "We pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God" -- "The spirit and the bride say, come. And let him that heareth say, come. And let him that is athirst, come: And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely."

But it is granted by many, that the calls of the gospel are made indiscriminately to sinners, and yet it is contended that the atonement is limited to a definite number in its extent. A few plain questions, may place this business at rest. Upon what are the calls and invitations of the gospel founded? The answer is, upon the atonement; since if this atonement had never been made by Jesus Christ, there could have been no offer of mercy to apostate man. The atonement is the foundation and the offer is the superstructure; and we may with propriety ask, on what principle the latter can be greater than the former! We propose another question. Are sinners under obligations to hear and obey the gospel call? We mean are all men under obligations to hear and obey? If not, there is no sin committed in rejecting Christ and his salvation. But if all who hear the declarations of mercy as stated in the gospel, are under obligations to look to Christ for salvation; to repent and believe the gospel; to come to the marriage feast-then one of two things must be true. There must be a general provision made for them in the atonement, or some are under obligations to do that which would be of no avail to them even in case of their compliance. They are commanded, and are under obligations to look to Jesus Christ for salvation, and yet Jesus Christ never lived or died to open the door for their recovery--they are commanded, and are under obligations to repent, and believe the gospel, when, at the same time, this gospel has made no preparation for their return to God--they are commanded, and are under obligations to come, and partake of the marriage-feast, when in all the munificence of this entertainment there is not one particle of provision made for them. There need be no hesitation in saying that, in these cases, moral obligation cannot exist; and, upon these principles, moral obligation can never be enforced. This is rearing a structure without a foundation; an edifice without a corner-stone.

In addition to all this, men are expressly upbraided and condemned for not complying with the gospel offer, or for not becoming interested in the atonement made by Jesus Christ.

"This is the condemnation," says our Savior, "that light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." On another occasion, "began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not." Of the stubborn and unbelieving Jews he complained in these terms, "Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life." Should it be said, in relation to these passages, that they rather reprove men for resisting the miracles and instructions of Christ, than for rejecting the atonement, we reply, that the miracles and instructions of Christ, were the means of benefit and salvation to sinners only as they were connected with the sacrifice which he offered for their redemption; and the rejection of the one, implied the rejection of the other.

But that sinners are under obligations to embrace the gospel, and are guilty in the sight of God for rejecting its provisions-may be established beyond the possibility of evasion, from the parable of the marriage feast. Certain persons were invited to this entertainment upon the strength of the provision which was in readiness; and they made light of it and would not come. For this act they were not only blamed, but condemned and punished. "When the king heard thereof, he was wroth; and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers and burned up their city." In the parallel parable, in another Evangelist, it is said, "None of those men who were bidden shall taste of my supper." It is a given point, that these men who refused to come to the feast, represent those persons who finally perish. Now the question is, was there, or was there not, an atonement, or provision made for such in the gospel of Christ? Those who hold to a limited atonement say that there was not-but to us it appears abundantly evident, from the parable, that there was. It is so asserted in the invitation. "All things are ready; come unto the marriage." And again, "Come, for all things are now ready." If it be a fact, that the atonement is limited to that particular number who will come to the gospel feast and be saved, then this invitation was not founded in truth, There is no basis to support it. If it resembles the rainbow in its circular magnificence, it is like it more as insubstantial and stationed on nothing. For these persons, there was nothing ready; for them there was no provision made. The punishment too inflicted upon these persons tells us, that there was an entertainment made for them, or in other words, provision for their salvation. Why were they doomed never to taste of the supper, and why were they given up to the devastations of fire and sword? It was because they refused to come and partake of a certain feast which they were assured was provided for them. Now if there was no such provision in this feast, then they are condemned and punished for rejecting and despising that which never existed in relation to themselves. They are condemned and punished for not partaking of an entertainment which was made for others, and not for them. Such a representation as this-with reverence be it spoken--is a libel upon the character of Jehovah! The argument drawn from this parable in favor of a general atonement, is as clear as the light of meridian day. The conclusion, is incontrovertible as the positions of eternal truth. It is best seen like the sun, in its own light.

But this is not all. Rejecters of the gospel are every where represented, in the Bible, as more miserable in the future world, than those who have sinned, only against the law.

If this declaration be true, it speaks, in strong and decided language, in favor of a general atonement. The inquiry will first respect the fact, and then its application to the point in hand.

That the despisers of Jesus Christ and his salvation will perish, with an aggravated destruction--a destruction enhanced by the consideration that they have had a price put into their hands to get wisdom, but have had no heart to improve it-is manifest from the whole tenor of the gospel. This sentiment is implied in several of the scriptures which have been quoted under the former heads of the present discourse. It is strongly intimated in the parable of the supper; and is more directly and distinctly taught in other parts of the Bible. Of Capernaum our Savior declared, "I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom, in the day of judgment, than for thee." "But those mine enemies, who would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me." "Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish." "He that despised Moses law died without mercy, under two or three witnesses; of how much sorer punishment suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith HE was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the spirit of grace?"

Now it may be asked, why the doom of Capernaum will be more intolerable in the day of judgment, than that of Sodom--unless it is, because Capernaum was favored with gospel privileges which Sodom never enjoyed, privileges which ought to have made her better, privileges which she was bound to improve to her salvation? But what is the gospel without the atonement? If Capernaum was more guilty, and will be ultimately more miserable, for rejecting the gospel, than those are, or can be, who are not chargeable with this sin--then Capernaum was under obligations to embrace Christ, and be saved by his merits; and if under obligations to embrace Christ and be saved by his merits, then the atonement must have been offered to Capernaum on the same terms on which it is offered to others. To suppose that God would offer that to his creatures which has no existence and then punish them for not embracing it, is to charge him with insincerity and duplicity and empty show. Why will the enemies of Christ be brought forth in the day of judgement, and be slain before him? The crime alleged against them, and for which they are especially punished is an unwillingness to submit to his mediatorial reign; that is, an unwillingness to embrace the atonement and welcome his salvation. Does not this imply, that the atonement might have reached their case? Why will it be said to some, hereafter, "behold ye despisers, and wonder, and perish"--unless it is, that an atonement has actually been offered to them, and that this atonement which was offered as an adequate ground for their personal and identical salvation, was a reality and not a deception? Why does a "sorer punishment" await the despiser of the gospel, than the transgressor of the law? It is because he has "trodden under foot the Son of God." He was under obligations to receive him as the atoning victim--as the propitiation for sin--as the all sufficient Savior. For not doing this, he is now condemned; and if this sentence of condemnation is just, then Christ was offered to him before he could be trodden under foot; and he must have made an atonement for this very character before he could be sincerely offered. To deny these conclusions, is to set scripture, and logic, and common sense, at defiance for the sake of a theory!

Let it not be forgotten, by the honest inquirer after truth, that unbelief, and not the limitation of the atonement, is EVERY WHERE, represented in the Holy Scriptures, as the reason why sinners, under the administration of gospel truth, finally perish. Here it may be proper to call to mind the representations which we have before given of the mature of that propitiation made by Jesus Christ. The atonement does not of itself save a single soul. It barely opens the door for the accomplishment of this object by free and sovereign grace. "By grace are ye saved through faith." Hence the importance attached to faith in the plan of salvation revealed in the gospel. It is by this exercise, that we receive the atonement, and rest upon it for justification and eternal life. "He that believeth," not he that is atoned for, "shall be saved," and "he that believeth not," not he that has no atonement made for him, "shall be damned." Now this scheme lays the blame of the sinner's condemnation where it ought to lie, upon his unbelief, and not upon the plan of God. And so it is every where represented in the gospel. "He that believeth not is condemned already, because he bath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." Why are sinners condemned under the operation of the gospel of Christ? It is because they have "not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." It is not, in any sense to be ascribed to a deficiency in the atonement. But in order to agree with the limited scheme, the declaration ought to read, the non-elect or reprobates are "condemned already," and must finally perish, because they have no provision made for them in the atonement of "the only begotten Son of God." But we have not so learned the gospel of Christ. Take one declaration more of the same character. "If ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins." Some of those Jews whom Christ addressed, would finally perish-not because his blood could not avail in their behalf, but because they would continue to reject this only way of reconciliation appointed by the Father. "If ye believe not," is the declaration of the Son of God. The whole stress is laid on not BELIEVING.

And in the day of judgment, the rejection, and not the want of the atonement, will be the ground upon which the final and decisive sentence will be passed. At least this will be the case so far as men have enjoyed the light, and received the instructions of the gospel. Under the operation of that system of eternal love introduced by Jesus Christ, unbelief, and unbelief alone, closes the gates of heaven, and opens the door of the eternal pit, and rivets the chains of reprobation fast upon the soul of the sinner. The whole world may be safely challenged to show in the Bible any other representation of this matter. There is a settled uniformity in the language of inspiration, on this point. Sinners die, not because there has been no Savior provided for them--not because he has not atoned for their sins, not because this atonement has not been offered to them, and urged upon them, not because Jesus Christ is indifferent to their eternal welfare; but, because they deliberately and perseveringly reject the proffered grace, and thus make the bands of death strong upon themselves.

But the scriptures expressly teach, that the atonement is general and unrestricted in its nature. A few passages contained in the Bible, selected from many bearing on this point, will here be presented and examined. The apostle John, in his first Epistle tells us, that "He is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." This language is very clear and very emphatic. He has atoned for the sins of "THE WHOLE WORLD." This phrase, "the whole world" is by the opponents of the doctrine of an unrestricted and universal atonement, limited to the elect, or those who will ultimately share in its benefits. But this is a mere assumption which would appear to be made simply for the purpose of sustaining a favorite theory. It involves a manifest departure from the just and obvious principles of biblical exposition. "The world," or what is still more expressive, "the whole world," is here contrasted with the church, or the collective body of believers; and in this connection it can mean nothing else than the whole body of unbelievers--without any reference to election in any possible shape. We say the contrast here is between believers and unbelievers, and not between believers and the elect. The import of the declaration is this: Jesus Christ is the propitiation for the sins of believers and not only so, but for the sins of all unbelievers too.

When John the Baptist pointed his inquiring countrymen to Jesus Christ, he said, "Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world." It is easy to say, as in the former case, that the term "world" here means the elect; but this is a mere gratuity, and is unsupported by the Bible. It is a correct principle of exposition, that a term should be taken in its ordinary and most simple acceptation, unless the context, or some unequivocal declaration of the spirit of God elsewhere recorded, may render a different construction necessary. Had John the Baptist intended to teach the doctrine of a limited atonement, he would probably have pointed to the lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the church or of his chosen people.

The apostle Paul, in his second Epistle to the Corinthians, assumes the doctrine of a general atonement as a given point; and, from the universality of the propitiation, argues the universality of human depravity. "Because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead." A remark or two will give this passage an important bearing on the point in hand. Let it be asked, who are the subjects of spiritual death? The answer must be, all mankind. If we push the inquiry one step farther, and ask, for whom did Christ die? The answer must be, according to this passage, for all those who are the subjects of spiritual death; that is, for all mankind. "If one died for all, then were all dead," or (in the original) "then all died." And the proposition is equally true, though stated in a different order. If all mankind were dead in trespasses and sins, then Jesus Christ died for them all.

In his first Epistle to Timothy, this same apostle tells us, that Christ "gave himself a ransom for all." This declaration, if critically examined, will furnish a conclusive argument in favor of a general atonement. (See I. Tim. 2: 1-6,) The apostle exhorts, that supplications, &e. "be made for all men: for kings, and for all that are in authority." He urges this duty of praying for all men upon two different grounds, the benevolence of God who is willing that all men should be saved, and the atonement made by Christ who gave himself a ransom for all. Now we are here directed to pray "for all men," that is, for all mankind. This, we presume, will not be denied. And is it not equally true, that God is willing that all men who are the subjects of these supplications, should be saved? Or does he command all men to believe and be saved, and at the same time, is unwilling that some should obey his own express injunction? This can hardly be admitted.

And if christians are to pray for all men, and God is willing that all men should come to the knowledge of the truth and be saved, do not these supplications of the christian, and this benevolent feeling of God respecting the salvation of all men, grow out of the ransom which Christ has offered "for all"? If we limit the term "all," in this last case, to the elect, then the apostle's argument will stand thus. Christ gave himself a ransom for all the elect, and consequently God is willing that all the elect should be saved; and, therefore, christians ought to pray for all mankind. This reasoning does not hold together. The legs of the lame are not equal. The inference is too broad for the premises. The proper conclusion from these premises, thus gratuitously assumed, would be, that we ought to pray only for the elect; for the same reason which would lead us to restrict the term "all," in two instances, would lead us to restrict it in the third. If the apostle reasons correctly in this passage, he does insist upon the propriety of praying for all mankind from the universal benevolence of God, and the universality of the ransom offered by Jesus Christ.

We are conducted to the same conclusion by another verse of this paragraph, "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." The mediatorial work of Christ is here represented as carried on between "God and men." These are the parties. God stands upon one side of the great question which Christ has undertaken to bring to issue, and "men," that is mankind, or the human race, on the other. In prosecuting his work as mediator, he has given "himself a ransom" to one of these parties for the other; that if, a ransom to God for men-for all men-for the offending race without exception. There is "one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all." The connection between [________], men, in the fifth verse, and [______], all, in the sixth verse, justifies the construction which we have given above. The ransom was given for that whole offending party between whom and God, the work of mediation was conducted by Jesus Christ.

In his letter to the Hebrews, the apostle tells us that Jesus Christ "was made a little lower than the angels-that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man." The expression "was made a little lower than the angels" is only a circumlocution employed to assert the fact, that Christ became man; and the apostle was led to adopt this phraseology from what he had said of the original condition of the human race, in the context. He became man, that he might taste death for man-"for every man"-for mankind without distinction. He became himself partaker of human nature, "that he by the grace of God should taste death, "____ ______" for each and every part of human nature.

The apostle Peter speaks of certain false teachers who "bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction." Who these are, it is not necessary to the present argument to determine. It is sufficient for our purpose to know that they perish, and are, at the same time, persons who were bought with the blood of Christ. This passage furnishes perfect demonstration, that the atonement made by Christ and the actual redemption of sinners are not commensurate, or of equal extent. Some are "bought" by the Lord himself, who, for their adherence to sin, are overwhelmed with "swift destruction." They were atoned for, and yet are lost. An attempt has been made to set aside this conclusion by denying, that there is any reference here to the atonement which has been made for sinners. It is asserted that the word [________], which is here translated Lord, is never applied to Jesus Christ in the Bible. But this is not altogether certain. In Rev. vi. 10. the same word is applied either to the Father or the Son; and Macknight is inclined to favor the opinion, that it is applied to the latter. Be this, however, as it may, it can have but little influence upon the present question. The word may be employed to denote the Son with the same propriety with which it is employed to denote the Father; and were the passage quoted from Peter the only one in which it was used to designate the Lord Jesus Christ, this fact would by no means invalidate the argument. As it is a word applicable to the Godhead, the context must determine which Person it is intended, in any particular instance, to denote. Jesus Christ is the Lord or Master to whom these "false teachers" professed subjection; and he is that being who has "bought" sinners with his blood. And some who were thus bought, will, by, "denying the Lord," "bring upon themselves swift destruction." It appears then, that some persons are atoned for who will finally perish. See the views of Calvin on this passage, in the introductory chapter of this work. The manner in which the advocates of limited atonement dispose of this passage, is by no means satisfactory.

One passage more, and only one, will be adduced in favor of general atonement. It is the declaration of Christ himself. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life." The advocates of a limited atonement, have had great trouble with this text. As usual, "the world" here must be made to signify the elect. To say nothing of this arbitrary and unnatural construction, this reading will not very well agree with what immediately follows. "God so loved the" ELECT, (that is those who will finally believe, and who shall not perish, but have everlasting life,) "that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever," of all this number, "believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life." Now, this is putting absurdity into the lips of infinite wisdom. It is inditing poor rhetoric and bad logic for the Holy Spirit. But take the passage just as it stands, and its truth and simplicity are apparent "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son" to die for this world, "that whosoever "of all this world which God loved and for which the Savior died, "believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life"

There are other declarations of the Bible on which great stress is laid by those who maintain the doctrine of a limited atonement, and which are considered by many as settling the question in its favor. The following are of this class. "The good Shepherd giveth his life for the sheep"--"feed the church of God which he hath purchased with his own blood." "Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it." Upon these scriptures it is obvious to remark, that not one of them is contradicted by the doctrine of a general atonement, because they do not assert, that the good Shepherd gave "his life for the sheep," and for them alone; or that the church was exclusively loved and purchased. This construction would contradict other parts of the inspired volume. If Jesus Christ tasted death "for every man," he did of course lay down "his life for the sheep"--and if he gave himself a "ransom for all," he certainly did give himself, at the same time, a ransom for "the church." It is readily admitted by those who maintain the universality, or the general character of the atonement, that the individuals intended in the collective terms, "sheep" and" the church of God," are the only persons who are effectually benefited by the propitiation made by Jesus Christ. They alone rest upon it, and are grateful for it. Its full effect, or design, is accomplished in them; and hence there is a peculiar force and emphasis in the declarations cited above. But in all these declarations, there is no denial of a general provision,-no intimation, that Jesus Christ did not so die for all men, as to remove every legal obstruction to their salvation.

A few important truths may be appended, by way of inference, to the present discussion. One is, that a limited atonement would be an impeachment of the divine character.

Compare, for a moment, the different and various aspects of a limited atonement with the plain declarations of the Bible and the acknowledged principles of the gospel, which have been stated in this chapter. It has been clearly proved, that the call of the gospel, which includes an obligation to believe in Christ, and to rest on him for eternal life, is made to all without distinction, to a world of sinners. And what can support a general offer, unless it be a general provision? Does it correspond with that truth and sincerity which belong to God, in an infinite degree, to proffer to his creatures, nay to urge and press upon his creatures, that which never had an existence? And yet this God is represented as doing, if the call of the gospel is universal, and the atonement made by Christ, is, at the same time, partial or limited. This view of the atonement does represent God as offering more to sinners than was ever provided by his Son, and presented in the gospel. But the objection goes much farther than this. Sinners are expressly condemned for not becoming interested in that atonement or provision which is offered; and yet for them, on the limited scheme, no such atonement or provision was ever made. And this is not all. These rejecters of the gospel and despisers of the atonement, must feel the effects of their conduct to all eternity. It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah, in the day of judgment, than for them. But why? What have they done? According to the principles of those who limit the atonement, they have rejected a certain provision which was never offered to them; or, if offered, which was never made; which was restricted to others while they were expressly excluded; which could not, from the very nature of its stipulations, include them and supply their necessities, even if they had complied with the invitation and obeyed the command. In addition to all this, they are every where assured, in the sacred volume, that their ruin is altogether attributable to themselves. Unbelief is represented, under the administration of the gospel, as the great damning sin. And yet if the atonement is partial and limited, unbelief is inevitable. It must take place by a physical necessity, for there is no foundation for faith. Its exercise, for the want of which the sinner is condemned, would imply a natural impossibility. Indeed, for God to require the sinner, for whom no atonement has been made, to believe in the atonement, and to rely upon this atonement for his personal salvation, is to require him to believe what is not true. There is no hazard in saying, that the God of the Bible has never required any such thing. On the theory of the limitarian, no atonement was ever made for those who reject it, and finally perish. To believe there was, would be to believe a false statement or position; and yet for the want of this belief he must endure a more accumulated and dreadful weight of divine wrath than would have been inflicted under the law. Here is a course of reasoning never adopted in any parallel case. Here is a direct impeachment of the character of Jehovah. It is surely high time, that christians should thoroughly understand, and correctly apply the great principles of revelation to the investigation of this subject. It is the truth alone that can roll away the reproach which has often assailed the divine government on this point.

In the above nothing has been said of the express contradiction between the scheme of a limited atonement and the plain declarations of the Bible. The restrictive system says, that Christ is "the propitiation" for the sins of the elect, and for theirs alone; the apostle John teaches us, that he is likewise the propitiation "for the sins of the whole world." This system declares, that Christ "gave himself" for the church alone; the apostle Paul tells us, that he "gave himself a ransom for all." The scheme which is here controverted teaches, that Christ died for a part only of the human race; the Bible expressly declares, that he "died for all"--that he tasted "death for every man." This human theory would have us believe, that atonement and salvation are equally broad; but the inspired volume affirms, that some deny "the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction."

The preceding inquiry leads us to the contemplation of the great purposes to be answered by a general atonement. It is sometimes said that no great object can be obtained by a general atonement, if, after all, but a part of mankind participate the saving benefit. But this objection is founded on an imperfect and limited view of the subject. If the atonement is what it has been represented to be, in this treatise, a preliminary to the offer of pardon and peace; if it contains such a provision for sinners in general as to lay them under obligations to believe in Christ, and turn to God, and live; if it has furnished a new set of motives which ought to affect the hearts and conduct of men, as moral beings; if it proposes the terms of eternal life for the reception or rejection of which we must render an account, and the consequences of which we must feel while eternity endures, then it is obvious, that the most important results are connected with such a provision. As it respects God, it is an exhibition of his benevolence, and as it respects man, it opens the door for his return to the friendship and service of his Maker. At all events, it must and will reveal to the universe the moral temper of the sinner's heart, and show what he deserves, by exhibiting the circumstances in which he goes down to ruin!

By the moral law, the whole human race must stand condemned at the bar of God. Under this system there could be no escape. Despair and death would look every sinner in the face. Instead of executing this law upon us, God has "found a ransom." He has placed us once more, as it were, in reach of heaven. The door is thrown wide open before us. The terms, as founded upon the atonement, are, "He that believeth shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." This system will fully vindicate the divine character from every charge of cruelty in the death of the sinner. Not a shadow of reproach call rest on it. On the broad basis of a general provision, God may proclaim through heaven, and earth, and his illimitable universe, "As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked." Does the reader of this declaration believe, that such a rich and munificent provision has been made for the dying outcasts of our world? Oh! let him recollect, that the very fact of such an atonement, should make him solemn even to fearfulness and trembling. Every expectant of eternity should feel his own personal relations to this great gospel fact. It will prepare for every individual to whom its offers are made, a starry crown in heaven, or kindle for him a fiercer flame below! How full of interest, how fearful is the fact, that Christ has died for sinners! This fact creates a responsibility on the part of every hearer of the gospel, from which there is no escape. Life or death is the certain consequence.

One thought more, and this great theme shall be dismissed. The views of the atonement here presented, throw much light on certain passages of scripture which are sometimes quoted in favor of universal salvation. We must carefully and critically distinguish between atonement and actual redemption; between the provision made on the part of Christ, and its cordial reception on the part of the sinner. The atonement prepares the way for man's return to God; the application of this atonement, or its reception on the part of the sinner, actually brings him back, and secures to him, in the covenant of grace, a title to the heavenly inheritance. The doctrine of general atonement, if properly understood, has no connection with, universal salvation. There is no more connection between them, than there was between the ample and extensive entertainment mentioned in the parable, and the refreshment of those who utterly refused to come to the feast. Of what avail to them was the munificence of the marriage supper, when they preferred, and continued to prefer their own personal employments and pleasures? While "they made light" of the invitation, and went one to his farm and another to his merchandise, that feast could do them no good. It could afford them neither pleasure nor profit. Indeed it left them, in a very material point, worse than it found them. It brought them under the responsibilities created by a kind and gracious invitation, and eventually fixed upon them the guilt of its pertinacious and wanton rejection.

And so it is with the atonement made by Christ. It is sufficient for all; but it will no more save those who refuse to embrace it, than a sumptuous feast will satisfy the hunger of those who refuse to partake of the proffered bounty. General atonement furnishes a consistent ground for the publication of the glad tidings of the gospel. An atonement for all, will justify and sustain the offer of salvation to all. The result will be directed by the wise providence, and the sovereign grace of God. The final consequence will be a sentence of acquittal to the believer, and of condemnation upon the unbeliever.

Those who have contended, that the salvation of all men, would follow as a consequence from the doctrine of a general provision in the atonement, have uniformly entertained incorrect notions respecting the nature of this transaction. They have looked upon this whole affair as regulated by the principles of commutative justice. If it were the province of the atonement to repeal the curse, and liberate the sinner from all legal obligation, then, it would be readily acknowledged, that a general satisfaction must be followed by a general redemption of the human race. But the preceding examination of this subject has proved, that such an inference is unauthorized and untrue, and the whole system built on it, is unsound. By students of the Bible, by thinking men, by logical minds,--by those who endeavor carefully to trace out the beautiful and harmonious connections of philosophy and religion, it must and will be yielded as untenable. An atonement which cancels guilt, and annihilates responsibility, has never been made. Such an atonement, with reverence be it said, could not have been devised. Of such a provision, the Bible breathes not a whisper. There is an atonement which permits God, in perfect consistency with all the perfections of his nature and with all the important ends of law and government, to offer salvation to a guilty and expiring world. This same atonement lays the sinner who hears the gospel, under obligations to return to God; and, under the mediatorial system, his eternal destiny is suspended on his acceptance or rejection of the offered mercy. As to the believer, his sins are freely pardoned through the blood of Christ, and the Almighty arms surround, sustain and guard him. As to the unbeliever, continuing such, no atonement can reach his case. The blood of the new covenant he treads on in disdain. He lets go of the only anchor of safety, he extinguishes the last glimmering ray of hope. In one word, he rejects the Son of God, and, by this act, fixes the broad seal of reprobation upon his own soul. The law justly condemns him, but a rejected gospel will more, clearly reveal the enmity of his heart against God, and finally assign him a deeper and a darker place in the world of hopeless ruin.

These distinctions will enable us to comprehend and explain those passages of scripture, connected with the atonement, which are frequently perverted, and pressed into the cause of universal salvation. The following declarations are of this character: That Christ "died for all," that he tasted "death for every man," that he "taketh away the sin of the world," and that "by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life." These scriptures define the atonement, and not its effect. They declare the extent of the provision, and not the extent of salvation. The atonement made by Christ, and its acceptance on the part of the sinner are entirely distinct and separate acts. Some for whom the Son of God expired, and to whom his salvation was freely offered, will behold, and wonder, and perish. The blood of Christ, though shed for sinners, cannot, without its application to the heart, take away their guilt; and this blood, it should be remembered, has not extinguished the fires of hell. It remains an eternal truth, that the impenitent must perish, that the unbeliever must be damned. "He that believeth on the Son, hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son, shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him."


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