THE EXTENT OF THE ATONEMENT
RELATION TO GOD AND THE UNIVERSE.
REV. THOMAS W. JENKYN, D. D.
Sections 1 Thru 4
ON THE ATONEMENT IN ITS RELATION TO ALL THE WORKS OF GOD
By "all the works of God," I understand, all the productions of God, called the "works of his hands," and which the Psalmist calls "all the places of his dominions," and which the New Testament calls "heavenly places," that is, the whole universe, with all its intelligences and orders, ranks and dignities.
The New Testament reveals very clearly that the great atonement of the Son of God is related to other worlds in the divine empire, as well as to our world. It is, therefore, necessary to a full and enlarged consideration of the extent of the atonement, to examine and survey it in this aspect and relation.
I feel happy to be able to introduce my sentiments upon the aspect of the atonement on the universe, in the following passage, of great beauty and sublimity, from LORD BACON. "I believe that God is so holy, pure, and jealous, that it is impossible for him to be pleased in any creature, though the work of his own hands: so that neither angels, man, nor WORLD would stand, or can stand, one moment in his eye, without [his] beholding the same IN THE FACE OF A MEDIATOR. And therefore [I believe] that before him, with whom all things are present, the Lamb of God was slain before all worlds; but that out of his eternal and, infinite goodness and love, purposing to become a Creator, and to communicate to his creatures, he ordained in his eternal counsel, that one person of the Godhead should be united to one nature, and to one particular of his creatures, so that in the person of the Mediator, the true ladder may be fixed whereby God might descend to his creatures, and his creatures might ascend to God; so that God by the reconcilement of the Mediator, turning his countenance towards his creatures (though not in equal light and degree) made way unto the dispensation of his most holy and sacred will; whereby some of his creatures might stand and keep their state; others might possibly fall and be restored, and others might fall and not be restored to their estate, but yet remain in being, though under wrath and corruption: ALL WITH RESPECT TO THE MEDIATOR, which is the great mystery and PERFECT CENTRE OF ALL GOD'S WAYS with his creatures, and to which ALL HIS OTHER WORKS AND WONDERS do but serve and refer."
THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNIVERSE MEDIATORIAL.
The whole universe is represented in the word of God. as a beautiful and glorious system, adjusted around the mediation of Jesus Christ, in which he should be felt as the central orb, to attract all its portions into union and harmony, and to maintain all its dependencies in beauty and order.
God by his gospel has made known to us "the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure, which he hath purposed to himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of times, he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth, even in him," Eph. i. 9, 10. To apply this language to the reconciliation of the Jews and Gentiles only, is to render the passage turgid and inane. As if designedly to guard against such an interpretation of his meaning, the apostle in this letter to the Colossians, written at the same time as that to the Ephesians, distinctly enumerates the intelligences of the universe as intended by "the all things gathered together in Christ." "By him (the Mediator) were all things created that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions, or principalities or powers; all things were created by him and for him; and he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church, the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in all things he might have preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell, and having made peace (or atonement) through the blood of his cross, by Him to reconcile (or to harmonize) all things unto himself, whether they be things in earth or things in heaven." Col. i 16-20.
It is impossible, I think, to read these passages without a vivid impression of the wide and expanded views, which the apostle had of the atonement as sustaining a high and intimate relation to all, the length and the breadth, the height and the depth, of the universe of God.
It is this relation of the atonement to the universe that gives life and glory to the prophet Malachi's enraptured view of "the Sun of Righteousness." The more I consider this vision of the last seer of Israel, the more I am entranced with his splendid emblem of the high dignity, and of the diffusive influence, of the Lord from heaven. This symbol, though the most noble and brilliant which the creation could supply, can but very dimly image forth the grandeur and beauty of "the Sun of Righteousness." By the light of astronomy the sun is viewed, not merely as a luminary suspended in the heavens, but as the centre of a system of worlds, and the source of light and heat, of motion and harmony to them all. By the light of revealed theology, also, we are taught to view the great atoning Mediator, not only as a "light to lighten the Gentiles," but as the centre of an immense moral system, composed of all existences, constitutions, and dispensations, shedding his beams to bless dependent worlds, and bathing the whole in the effulgence of his loveliness and glory.
This imagery of Malachi teaches us that God contemplated a beautiful and immense system of good and benevolent dispensations, called here a system of Righteousness: that in the midst of this system of Righteousness as the central orb, he placed the Lord Jesus Christ; and that the revelations of this system have a most benign and "healing" aspect on the interests of our world.
A further enlargement on this topic will not be deemed necessary, especially since, in the first section of the chapter on the purposes of God, I have explained in what manner I regard the constitution of the universe as partaking of a mediatorial arrangement. Consecutiveness of plan seemed to me to require a distinct, though a brief, notice of this subject here.
Only one more illustration will be introduced to explain the connection that exists between the atonement and the universe. The apostle Paul speaks of the universe as a commonwealth, or family receiving its designation, constitution, and happiness from the Lord Jesus Christ, who is felt and owned everywhere as the head of power and of influence. "Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named." This public commonwealth or family consists of "an innumerable company of angels, the general assembly and church of the first-born, which are written in heaven; God the Judge of all; the spirits of just men made perfect; Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant"--all in intimate connection with "the blood that speaketh better things than the blood of Abel." Eph. iii. 15. Heb. xii. 22-24.
THE ATONEMENT A SUBJECT OF INTEREST AND BENEFIT TO THE INTELLIGENCES OF THE UNIVERSE.
The Scriptures represent the intelligences of the universe as having been informed of the atonement, and as having been witnesses and spectators of the whole amazing transaction. They also take a high interest in its administration, and are greatly benefited by its provisions.
The blessed God regards the expedient of the atonement as so fit a medium for giving a full display of the divine glories, that he reveals it to be the ground for creating the universe. He "created all things by Jesus Christ, to the intent, that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known, by [means of] the church, the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed IN Christ Jesus our Lord." Eph. iii. 9-11.
The whole immense progress of the Mediator's career, from the throne to the manger, and from the manger to the cross, was "seen of angels." They were spectators of his public entrance into heaven after finishing his atoning work: and they were witnesses of his splendid triumph over spiritual wickedness in high places, when "having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them" in his cross and atonement.
These intelligences are now daily made acquainted with all the instances of conversion from sin to holiness, among the sinners of our world. And they are informed of the progressive improvement which believers make in Christian character, and of the maturity of the Christian graces which has ripened them for "Abraham's bosom." The apostle Peter says, that angels generally (not the angels), meaning all heavenly intelligences, take a high interest, complacency and delight in these subjects. He enumerates the salvation of man, the inquiries of the prophets, the sovereign grace of God, the work of the Spirit, the sufferings and glory of Christ, and the preaching of the gospel, as the "things which angels desire to look into." The original phrase is expressive of the intense energy, and keen relish, with which they inquire into the doctrine of the atonement, and its relations. "Likewise there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth."
As intelligent, holy, and benevolent beings, the atonement in all its designs and influences must be a source of pleasure to them. As intelligent beings they take an interest in the atonement, from the circumstance that it is a measure in which the Father of wisdom and mind is "well pleased," and over which he "joys with singing." It is a subject, in grandeur and immensity, suited to the keen penetration, and to the large comprehension, of their glorious minds. The atonement, as the ground and medium of an immense accession of good to the universe, cannot fail to interest and delight their minds, as amiable and benevolent beings. Neither of these aspects of the atonement, however, would be desirable to their minds, were it void of a holy character. Because they are holy themselves, they rejoice in the atonement on account of the demonstration which it gives of the evil of sin; on account of its public expression of the beauty of divine holiness; on account of its vicarious virtue to expiate and sanctify guilty and sinful men; and on account of its practical tendency to deter accountable beings from sin, and to melt the hard heart to repentance. This diffuses "joy in their presence," because that, by repentance through the atonement, the sinner is coming back into order and harmony with the universe; that his repentance is a rational act, and due to the divine government; that by this process he is introduced into the circle of happiness and fellowship with God; and that, eventually, he is to join them forever as an associate in glory, and sharer in their joy.
If there be such "joy" among these intelligences now in their inquiries into this stupendous measure; if they are so delighted and entranced with its present unfoldings, developments, and evolutions, how will they be ravished with the glory of its splendid consummation! The apostle John therefore represents them, as in that auspicious period, thrilling the vast universe with their rapturous song. "And I beheld, and heard the voice of many angels round about the throne, and the beasts and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever. And the four beasts said, Amen." Rev. v. 11-14.
The information which is communicated to the intelligences of other worlds, concerning the mediatorial transactions, in the church, and for the church, is intended to affect themselves, and to have a practical influence upon them as subjects of the divine government. Their great minds are capable of enlargement by exercise, of advancement in knowledge, and of growth in their love and admiration of the character of God. Their study of the atonement is calculated to strengthen their confidence in the righteousness and benevolence of the divine government, and to give them a clear insight into the heinous enormity of revolt and transgression. When they see the tremendous evil of sin, set forth in the sufferings of the Mediator, they perceive the justice of the eternal destruction, for sin, of their former compeers in glory, and feel high gratitude to sovereign grace for their own preservation in bliss. In their contemplation of what the mediatorial President has done for the universe, they feel themselves united more nearly and dearly to the system of which He is the centre and the glory; and they feel prompt, and unshrinking, to undertake any service, in his work, after his illustrious example. Probably by the information which they receive from the atonement, they become more aware and sensible of the value and worth of their own dignity and glory. Gabriel never knew the worth of his harp and crown, till he saw at what immense cost, the lost harp and crown of a sinner were ransomed among the scenes of Gethsemane and Calvary.
The intelligences of other worlds are positively benefited by sharing in the blessings of the atonement. "He that descended, is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things." In this passage the blessed Redeemer may be considered either as taking his place, as the central Sun, in the midst of a vast system of heavenly places, to every part of which he diffused light and heat; or as, in his ascending progression, passing, on his way to his throne, worlds upon worlds, and systems upon systems, strewn amid "all heavens," he is scattering his blessings all around, and sanctifying and baptizing every world with "the blood of sprinkling." With what can he "fill all things in all heavens" but with the blessings of his mediatorial grace? It is to this the apostle refers when he speaks of "spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ." This proves that the inhabitants of "heavenly places," the intelligences who occupy all the celestial orbs of the universe, actually have "spiritual blessings," and that these "spiritual blessings" are enjoyed "in" and through Christ.
It is not to be supposed that these intelligences are benefited in the atonement, as it is a ransom for redemption from sin, for they never needed a deliverance: but they are benefited by it as it is the medium of all divine communications to them. God has no medium, no way of blessing any being, in any world, but the mediation of Christ; and the whole circle of his mediation is around his atonement as the centre.
The benefits which they have derived through the provision of the atonement are such as are fitted to their natural, rank, and character. They have had a greater nearness to their Maker who has made an approach to them in a created nature. They have a more enlarged acquaintance with the character of God in the various evolutions, in the full and free exercise, and in the beautiful and glorious harmony, of all the divine perfections. The application of their energies, and the employment of their ministry have been chiefly directed to the execution of the messages of mercy and grace. As social and benevolent beings, they must regard it as a benefit to be having accessions to their number of ransomed and holy companions who will partake with them in the honors of the "heavenly places," and who will unite with them in the services and praises of God and of the Lamb forever and ever.
CHRIST THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNIVERSE ON THE GROUND OF HIS ATONEMENT.
The Scriptures speak of Jesus Christ as being the president of all the ranks and grades of being in the universe. "God has set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but in that which is to come; and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is the fullness of him that filleth all in all."
We have such an High Priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the majesty in the heavens, "a MINISTER of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle which the Lord pitched, and not man." Heb. viii. 2. Dr. John Owen has labored much to show that "the sanctuary and the true tabernacle" here, mean the human nature of the Son of God: but the whole context, and the train of argument, make it evident that the apostle is speaking of the place into which Jesus has entered, that is, "into the heavenly places," or "heaven itself." In the "heavenly places," Christ sits, the PUBLIC MINISTER, the "antistes sacrorum," --the official organ, "qui publicis officiis praeest," --the president over all the employments, offices, and services of all the heavenly intelligences.
It is not, I conceive, the philosophy of NEWTON only, that teaches us the doctrine of plurality of worlds; the illustrious President of the universe himself has said, "In my Father's house are many mansions." The "Father's house" is the vast temple of the universe, and the "many mansions," are the innumerable stars, and suns, and systems which compose its apartments. These stars are not mansions of untenanted glory, nor provinces of luxuriant wastes in the divine empire. They are "heavenly places," in which are thrones, and principalities, and powers, and dominions, to which the manifested wisdom of God is made known by the church. This Scriptural enumeration of ranks and dignities, is not a series of high-sounding and pompous titles without meaning and without verity. It is a list of real offices, of actual employments, and of public services.
In our speck of world we see every speck of matter teeming with life, activity and employment. The microscope has its Hades of living existences, as well as the telescope. It is therefore unnatural, unreasonable, and unscriptural to regard "all heavens" as solitudes of majesty, or mere deserts of beauty. On the supposition that all these gradations and orders of intelligences are in active employments, and in useful service, it enlarges our conceptions of the official dignity and glory of Jesus Christ, to see him "wear the crown as Lord of all," the "head of all principality and power," in all things having the pre-eminence, as President over all.
The state of the Lord Jesus Christ in heaven is, indeed, one of transcendent glory and power, but it is also a state of office of mediatorial care and authority, and of plenipotentiary administration over the entire universe.
He directs and regulates all their services and employments by his mediatorial authority. It is he who gives to every one his work, and allots to every one his sphere of employment. "In his name" every knee bows, of things in heaven and things in earth. He has a name "above" every name in heavenly authority and influence. It is by him that all things consist, whether they be principalities, or powers, or thrones, or dominions. What keeps all these provinces, with their innumerable intelligences, in order, at their proper work, without clashing, and without anarchy? It is mediatorial power; it is the influence of the atonement. It is "by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven!"
All these services are rendered acceptable to God by the merits of the Mediator. Christ is as a Lamb slain in the midst of the throne; and all the services that come to the throne have a reference to the Lamb of atonement that is in the midst of it. The Mediator by his intercession presents the services of all the subjects of the empire publicly to his heavenly Father. In his official character, Christ is the Receiver General of all the revenues of God's immense empire, and, as the mediatorial President, he presents them to God. He entered heaven, not only to receive glory, but to do temple-work. It is his work, as the public officer of the moral commonwealth, to present to God all the revenue of service and glory received from all the provinces, and gathered together under his mediatorial inspection. In this office and work, he is the representative of the universe, but more especially of the church, transacting publicly all its affairs with God.
Finally, as the official President, it is his temple-work to recompense all these services by his sovereign grace. He has ascended far above all heavens, that he might fill all things, and bring all worlds into the light and the "joy of the Lord." In the day when the mediatorial administration of things shall come to its splendid close, all intelligences, angels and men, shall be marshalled from their heavenly places, and gathered before him, as the great President; they shall receive their crowns from the hand that was nailed to the cross; and in love and homage, they will cast their diadems at his feet, and ascribe "all their magnificent rewards to his sovereign bounty and love, and crown him LORD OF ALL.
This mediatorial presidency of Christ proves and explains the connection of his atonement with all the works of God. His atonement is the ground of his government over the universe. The mediatorial glory of Christ is an official glory that followed his sufferings. His crown is linked to his cross. He became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross; wherefore God highly exalted him to this Universal Presidency. Christ is not head over an things irrespectively of his atonement, any more than he can be Head of the church irrespectively of it. The Son of God has no mediatorial power in heaven or earth, but that which arises from his atonement, and is connected with it.
The atonement, accomplished in this world, extends its relations and influences to other worlds, as is evident by the conveyance of the blessings of other worlds to ours. Our world, by sin, had attempted to snap the connection between it and the centre and source of all blessing, but mediatorial influences have preserved it. Now God blesses our world with the spiritual blessings of the heavenly places, and he blesses us and them, only "in Christ." The atonement has thus become the ground and medium of the ministry of angels in our world. As revolters we had everything to dread from the employment of their agency, as ministers of high and unbending loyalty to the offended king. In the mediation of Christ they and we are become the subjects of the same presidency; they are the friends of man, and ministering spirits to the saints. They defend us from our spiritual adversaries, and execute the "charge" given to them concerning us through life. They rejoice in our accession to the church of Christ, and assembly of the first-born; and they will, in due time, convey our ransomed and sanctified spirits safe home to glory. The actual admission of men into the "heavenly places," shows that the atonement is connected with "all heavens." It shows that the keys, which open the door to them, are in benevolent hands. Many myriads of sinners have already passed thither from the land of great tribulation but they all arrived safely, only "through the blood of the Lamb." Heaven would not have been open and accessible to sinners, had not Christ himself publicly entered it in his official character, and solemnly set it apart to be the home of believers, by the influences of his own atonement. "By his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us;" and all the heavenly things themselves were purified, consecrated, and set apart, by his better sacrifice, so as to be accessible and approachable, and heritable by sinners of our world.
THE EXTENT OF THE ATONEMENT ILLUSTRATED BY ITS RELATION TO THE UNIVERSE.
If the atonement of Christ be limited in its design, and aspect, particular in its blessings and influences, and commercial in its principles, paying quid pro quo, it seems to me impossible to account for the revelation, which the Scriptures declare to exist, between the atonement and all the works of God. A particular atonement supposes that Jesus Christ suffered the punishment due to the elect, and to them only; and that the blessings of the atonement shall be shared by them, and by them only. On this hypothesis, the good which angels have received is left entirely unaccounted for, except, perhaps, it be thought a mere sovereign largess: and the good which the wicked enjoy in this world is accounted for, partly as "uncovenanted mercies" scattered among them, and partly as a bonus granted to them for the sake of the church. If God can give some mercies in any uncovenanted way, why not give every mercy? "Uncovenanted," means, irrespective of the promises connected with the atonement. Had the first-born of Adam any of these uncovenanted mercies? Must not Cain have known that all the good which he enjoyed was connected with the promise of the Seed of the woman? If God could honorably give any mercy without the covenanted atonement, he might give every mercy. The conclusion is unassailable; and if God could give any, and every mercy, irrespective of atonement, the death of Christ was unnecessary. When it is said, that the wicked receive blessings for the sake of the church, the phraseology does not mean that the church is the meritorious cause of those blessings, but it is meant that these blessings are conferred upon others, for the purpose of benefiting the church. The question, "how the ungodly come by these blessings?" is left untouched by such a phrase: nor can they be accounted for except on the principle of the atonement.
It is impossible that the blessings of the atonement can reach where its relations do not extend; and in whatever place, and in whatever world, therefore, we find the blessings of the atonement, our conclusion is sound, that the designs and the influences of the death of Christ extended thither. We discover the blessings of the atonement more or less liberally scattered everywhere in our world--yea, we find these blessings among principalities and provinces in "heavenly places." The supposition that these blessings reached the heavenly places by accident, or at random without any design or intent, is unreasonable, and unscriptural. Wherever, in the physical universe, we detect the influences of gravitation, we never suspect that those influences came there by some arbitrariness unaccountable, or by some endowment unintended. We never suspect this, simply because we have no preconceived physical system to render the suspicion necessary. In discussing the atonement, then, we are not afraid of embracing a favorite maxim of the advocates of limited redemption, that the design-death of Christ and its benefits are of the same extent. We find these benefits of the death of the Son of God in "all places of his dominions," and we cannot be wrong in believing that they were intended to be so.
I. A limited atonement for a certain chosen number of men, leaves the benevolent ministry of angels, in our rebellious world, unaccounted for.
It may account for the angels being ministering spirits sent forth to minister to them who shall be heirs of salvation; but the whole history of God's works shows, that the ministry of angels has had a benevolent influence upon many who have not proved heirs of salvation. The argument of our Saviour about little children supposes that all of them have a share in the good services of angels. No one will say, either that the holy angels would give their services to such children, or that such children could become interested in such high advantages, irrespectively of the meditation and atonement of Christ.
This ministry of angels has not been confined to mankind in their childhood, it has followed them when grown up, and even when living in sin. As instances of this benevolent ministry towards mankind as sinners, I might mention the case of Hagar and her son, the case of Balaam, the case of the angel who led the contumacious Israelites through the wilderness; and, not to make a larger enumeration, the case of the angel who descended to the pool of Bethesda, to trouble the waters for the healing of the bodily disorders of men.
The ministry of angels for the benefit of man is in every case an effect of the mediation and atonement of Christ, because angels and principalities are made subject to his authority. They go at his bidding in every employment. If Christ had purchased their ministry for a certain number only, how have these intelligences of distant worlds taken such interests in all the children of our world? Is this an uncovenanted employment? and do even angels perform works of supererogation? Will these holy beings squander upon others a ministry which was so dearly purchased only for some?
II. An atonement limited in its aspect and design is opposed to the report which the intelligences of other worlds have given to us of their views of its bearings and influence. This is the report from other worlds: "And the angel said unto them, Fear not; for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people: for unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." "And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, goodwill towards men."
When Peter remarked that angels desire to look into the administrations of the atonement, it should be remembered that these intelligences had been inquiring into this subject for above four thousand years. Now let it be considered that these high and noble existences are possessed of powers remarkable for comprehension and accuracy; that they applied those powers to a given subject for so many ages; that they studied this subject in all the information and light of knowledge in heaven: that, their application to this subject did not consist in intellectual speculation merely, but also in actual services employed from time to time, for furthering the great arrangements of this subject; and that on their visit to the shepherds, they were commissioned to give a correct announcement of this provision of mercy.
These intelligences seem to consider this scheme of mercy as embracing the "earth," "men," and "all people." The tidings of the angel are not real "good" to all people, unless Christ the Lord be a Saviour unto all people. The good tidings that Christ the Lord was a Saviour unto all people, could not be "a great joy" unto them, unless he were so, truly and sincerely, the expression of God's "goodwill towards men."
If these well-informed spirits after four thousand years' application of their great minds to this subject, and actual employment in some of its plans, had understood the atonement to be a measure limited to a certain number, they would not have announced it in such universal terms, and with such an unlimited aspect. When the angel said, that the advent of the Saviour was a great joy which should be to all people, he understood it to "be" so in the purpose of God, and the design of the atonement.
This view of the angel's sentiments on the extent of the provision of mercy, is, not at all destroyed by the testimony given to Mary, that she should call her son "Jesus, because he should save his people from their sins." It is utterly incapable of proof that the angel meant by "his people," the objects of sovereign specialty and election. "His people" in this passage means the People of the Jews, who were, particularly even at this time, the people of his fold: to them he came-but his own [people] received him not. This sense of the phrase is fully justified by Luke i. 68, 77; vii. 16. Supposing, however, that the angel intended by "his people" the objects of gracious specialty, this passage would not decide against the universal aspect of the atonement; as in that case it would refer to the actual results only of the atonement, and not at all to its general design and tendency.
III. Limited views of the atonement are not compatible with the nature of the joy which angels have in the conversion of sinners.
As the conversion of sinners is a pleasure and a joy to them, the inference is fair that the unconverted state of sinners is a matter that is displeasing and grievous to them, as much as anything can be displeasing and grievous to glorious and happy minds. The argument which the apostle Paul employs with the Corinthians in behalf of purity and propriety in worship, is the supposition that an improper spirit and behavior is displeasing to the angels who commune with their assemblies. The sinner who grieves the Holy Spirit, may be well supposed to grieve holy angels. If however these great and holy intelligences see, or know, that the atonement of Christ was only designed for a certain number, which, as they become converted, actually supply to Christ the identical travail of his soul, on what principle can the unconverted state of the others be a grief to them? Their grief cannot arise from the exclusion of these unconverted from the proposals and offers of the atonement, much less from any impious apprehensions that these offers to sinners were not sincere. It must be left to the advocates of limited atonement to account for this supposed grief of angels, upon any other principle than that of their regarding the sinner as acting a perverse, undutiful, and wicked part, in rejecting the clear and open overtures of the atonement. These angels cannot regard the rejection of the atonement, and of the gospel offers, wrong and wicked in the sinner, if the atonement was never designed for him, and if the offers made to him were not really meant and intended for his adoption.
IV. An atonement limited to a certain number is inconsistent with the argument, which is founded on the "desire of angels to look into these things," and is therefore used in order to press upon sinners the indispensable duty of their becoming interested in the salvation of Christ, and the heinous guilt of neglecting it.
Hear Dr. Dwight's statement. "Were the gospel as untrue as infidels assert, they would be no gainers. If it should be true, what will become of them. What must be the feelings of an infidel on a dying bed, if he is then in possession of sober thought, and solemnly remembers his contempt for the Saviour, and his rejection of the offers of life ? With what emotions must he enter eternity?" This argument is sound and sober: and it agrees well with Dr. Dwight's view of the death of Christ.
On the principles of a limited and partial atonement, however, this argument cannot be pressed, on any sinner who may be supposed to be out of the pale of salvation. It would be utterly unworthy of the gospel to recommend to such an excluded sinner, the examination of the atonement, as a mere man of taste; and to tell him that the study of this cardinal measure of the divine government would be a good intellectual exercise for him, and would materially improve the benevolence of his character. Yet the advocates of exclusive salvation cannot consistently recommend such a sinner to inquire into the claims of the atonement of Christ in any other way.
V. A limited atonement is inconsistent with the exhortations and encouragements, which the Scriptures give to sinners universally, to direct their attention and pursuit to the happiness and glory of the heavenly places.
Sinners of all sorts are directed and recommended to lay up for themselves treasures in heaven, to seek, and to set their affections upon, the things that are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of the Father. Now all the blessings and the good things in heaven are purified, consecrated, and set apart by the "better sacrifice of Christ." If they are, therefore, purified and selected for a certain number, how can the minister of the gospel, honestly and manfully, invite all men to seek that which was never intended for them? There is not a blessing, nor immunity to be had in heavenly places, that is not hallowed and purified by the blood of atonement. It is, therefore, impossible to direct sinners to seek any heavenly favor, which is not under the influence of the atonement. The argument to induce sinners to seek the things above, is that Jesus Christ is there: but this argument would be of no force, if the sinner could not avail himself of Christ's intercession.Return to the JENKYN ON ATONEMENT Index Page