THE following Essay was originally composed without any design or thought of its future publication. The writer was induced to undertake the investigation merely by a hope of obviating certain difficulties, which had hitherto existed in his own mind, whenever he contemplated the doctrine of atonement. These difficulties appeared, on examination, to have arisen, chiefly, from an incorrect, or at least an indefinite, apprehension of the meaning of certain metaphorical language, which is generally used in discussions on this subject. This circumstance is mentioned as some apology for in attempt to exclude the use of such language from the following work.
Perhaps it may be thought, as the writer undertook the work merely with the hope of, removing difficulties from his own mind, it would have been better, if he had remained satisfied with the attainment of that object. So the writer thought, and so would he have done, had it not been for the advice of those an whose judgment he has more confidence than in his own.
The work is now offered to the public, not within expectation of meeting the approbation of those whose prejudices are already enlisted for the support of a different theory; nor with much hope of instructing those who have viewed the subject through a confused medium so long that they have at length become satisfied with mere general notions and indefinite ideas; but, with a hope of affording aid to common Christians, who, though humble and candid, are still anxious to increase their knowledge on those subjects, which "the angels desire to look into."
If the reader should find any thing in the following pages concerning the correctness of which he entertains doubts, he is requested, as well for his own sake as that of the Author, to refer it to the Bible in preference to any other authority, as a correct standard of religious sentiments.
GLASTENBURY, April, 1822.
CHAPTER I: THE SUBJECT INTRODUCED.
CHAPTER II: SOME OBSTACLES POINTED OUT, WHICH STOOD IN THE WAY OF GOD'S PARDONING SINNERS WITHOUT AN ATONEMENT.
CHAPTER III: WHETHER THE SUFFERINGS OF CHRIST WERE SUFFICIENT TO REMOVE THE OBSTACLES WHICH STOOD IN THE WAY OF THE PARDON OF SINNERS.
CHAPTER IV: WHETHER THE OBEDIENCE OF CHRIST CONSTITUTES ANY PART OF THE ATONEMENT.
CHAPTER V: FULL ATONEMENT, AND SALVATION WHOLLY BY GRACE, CONSISTENT WITH EACH OTHER.
CHAPTER VI: ANSWER TO AN OBJECTION; IN WHICH IT IS SHOWN IN WHAT SENSE CHRIST DIED IN THE ROOM AND STEAD OF SINNERS; THAT HIS SUFFERINGS WERE NOT PUNITIVE, ETC.
CHAPTER VII: AN INQUIRY CONCERNING IMPUTATION.
CHAPTER VIII: REASONS WHY FAITH IN THE BLOOD OF CHRIST IS NECESSARY, IN ORDER THAT SINNERS MAY BE JUSTIFIED.
APPENDIX. REMARKS ON THE DOCTRINE OF UNIVERSAL SALVATION.
FRANKLIN, August 27, 1817.
AFTER hearing the Rev. Caleb Burge read his manuscript on the atonement of Christ, I am ready to say that I think he has treated the doctrine with great ingenuity and propriety; and that his Essay is calculated to meet and refute the gross and dangerous errors which have long and extensively prevailed upon this very important subject. I hope his piece will be published and widely circulated.
SALEM, August 29, 1817.
HAVING so far attended to the Rev. Caleb Burge's manuscript on the doctrine of atonement as to get a view of his plan, his leading sentiments, arguments, and illustrations, and his manner of discussion, I feel no common degree of freedom and satisfaction in expressing an opinion in favor of its publication. The subject, at all times of the highest importance, demands at the present day most particular attention. Mr. Burge's discussion of it appears to be able, luminous, and interesting; and I devoutly hope that the publication will conduce extensively to the honor of God our Saviour, and to the advancement of his gracious and holy cause.
NEWBURYPORT, August 30, 1817.
HAVING attended to the Essay of Mr. Burge on the atonement, I readily remark that I am peculiarly pleased with his luminous manner of treating the subject. As the salvation of man is the glorious expression of the divine perfections, the writer has permitted the inspired writers to explain themselves and each other upon the cardinal point. The atonement, therefore, as he presents it, is the harmony of the sacred writings; and is calculated to comfort Zion, and administer instruction to sinners.
THETFORD, Sept. 12, 1820.
HAVING heard the Rev. Caleb Burge read the substance of what he has written on the atonement, I am ready to say that in showing why an atonement for sin was necessary, and in what it consists, he has elucidated the subject more fully and clearly than any author whom I have read; and in every part of it he has reflected to view much light; and I can cheerfully recommend it to the attention of the public, and hope he will consent to publish it for the benefit of the churches.