only, but for the sins of the whole world."* Had the writers of the scriptures been as scrupulously careful, to prevent even the appearance of deviating from exact systematical consistency, as many moderns are, they would never have thus expressed themselves. For my part I dare not use any of the above-mentioned arts of criticism, to narrow the obvious sense of these and similar texts; and, as I hope this day, previously to receiving and administering the Lord's Supper, to use the following terms in solemn prayer-Christ by his one oblation of himself once offered, made a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and "satisfaction for the sins of the whole world;" I would no more contradict this solemn profession from the pulpit, than I would preach against the



* John i. 29; iii. 16-20. 1 Tim. i. 15; ii. 5, 6.

+ First, I learn to believe in God the Father, who hath 'made me and all the world:-Secondly, in God the Son who ' hath redeemed me, and all mankind :-Thirdly, in God the Holy Ghost, who sanctifieth me and all the elect people of God.' (Church Catechism.)

[ocr errors]

Here election is supposed to be connected immediately with sanctification, not with redemption: and this appears to me most evidently the scriptural way of stating the subject; though it differs in some measure from many Calvinistic creeds and systems.

Christ was crucified, dead and buried, to reconcile his Fa'ther to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for actual sins of men.' (2d Article.)

"The offering of Christ, once made, is that perfect redemption, 'propitiation, and satisfaction, for all the sins of the whole 'world, both original and actual.' (31st Article.)

Hence it appears, that this was the deliberate judgment of our venerable reformers: and that it is the standard doctrine of our established church.

seventeenth article respecting predestination. The compilers of our Liturgy evidently thought both true, and consistent with each other; and I am happy to coincide in sentiment with these venerable characters.* It will appear that none but the elect can eventually be benefited by the death of Christ; yet, there is a sense of vast importance, in which it may be properly said, and the Holy Spirit has expressly said, that "his blood is "the propitiation for the sins of the whole world."


The principal, though not the only, object of Christ's appearing in human nature, and living so many years a holy sufferer, and dying in unknown agonies on the cross, was to "bring in everlasting righteousness," and "to make reconciliation for "iniquity;" as preparatory to his mediatorial office in heaven, and his intercession for sinners. The perfection of his arduous obedience, and the intenseness of his complicated sufferings, were doubtless of indispensable necessity, and of vast efficacy, in this plan of redemption: yet it was the union

*It is very well worthy of observation, that the Liturgy of the Church of England, though compiled by known Calvinists, is most pointedly opposite to every degree and species of Antinomianism. The conclusion of the General Thanksgiving, a great part of the Litany, and innumerable other passages, might be adduced in illustration of this remark. But the Collect for the day, when this sermon was preached, is so directly apposite to the subject, that I shall insert a part of it: Stir up, O Lord, we beseech thee, the wills of thy faithful people, that they 'plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee 'be plenteously rewarded.'---It has been much wondered how Socinians, Arians, or Arminians, can subscribe our Articles, or use our Liturgy; and it must be at least equally surprising, if any Antinomians can do either the one or the other.

of the Deity with the Man Christ Jesus, in one mysterious person, which stamped its full value on this sacrifice for sin. But can any man, who believes the real Deity of Christ, hesitate to pronounce it an infinite ransom? Infinite honour

was given to the divine law by his obedience, and infinite satisfaction made to divine justice by his atoning sacrifice.* And, through this infinite sufficiency, that hinderance, which arose from the per

Even Calvin himself writes thus: 'He' (the apostle) 'maketh it the common grace of all men, because it is proposed 'to all, not because it is actually extended to all. For, although 'Christ suffered for the sins of the whole world; and is offered 'indiscriminately to all men by the goodness of God; yet all 'do not apprehend him.' (Rom. v. 18.) And again,' Christ suffered sufficiently for the whole world; but efficaciously only for 'the elect.' (1 John ii. 2.)-Indeed, if human authority avail any thing, it would be easy to adduce abundant evidence from the most respectable Calvinistic divines.

To this it is objected, that it does not consist with the justice of God that any should perish for whom Christ died. It is allowed that Christ in dying for sinners intended to save none but those who eventually shall be saved. In respect of this intention, he says, "his blood was shed for many for the remission of sins:" and he " gave his life a ransom for many.” Yet, in paying this ransom, there was not barely a sufficient atonement made for them, but as it were a redundancy of merit sufficient even for the sins of all men and, in respect of this sufficiency, he is said to give himself a ransom for all;" and to be a propitiation for "the sins of the whole world." Peter, therefore, scruples not to speak of those," who deny the Lord that bought them, and "bring upon themselves swift destruction;" and Paul of “de


[ocr errors]

stroying those for whom Christ died." It might be expected that systematical expositors would find out other interpretations of all these testimonies; but the question is, whether their interpretations are natural and obvious, and such as they would deem admissible in different circumstances.

The idea of Christ paying exactly so much for one, and so

[blocks in formation]

fect holiness and righteousness of God, and the inconceivable demerit of sin, is "once for all” entirely removed: so that it would be no impeachment of the purity of the divine character, no deduction from the honour of the law, and no abatement of the horror and hatred which we ought to conceive against sin; should God, through Christ, pardon all the sinners who now live, or who ever shall live, on earth.

In "love that passeth knowledge," the Redeemer, having executed this part of his commission, arose from the dead, and ascended into heaven, there in glory at the Father's right hand to

much for another, and so much for each; and then adding the sums together, and forming a large limited sum, just sufficient to ransom the elect, appears unscriptural, and gives a degrading view of the glorious subject. An all-sufficient atonement was made at once, and an immeasurable fulness of mercy and grace is treasured up in Christ to be communicated, according to the eternal purpose and counsel of God. Every believer receives from this fulness: others remain under condemnation, not through defect of merit in Christ, but through their own impenitency and unbelief.

It would not have consisted with divine justice to have saved sinners without an atonement; as appears from the apostle's reasoning, Rom. iii. 25, 26; otherwise perhaps we should have been rash in asserting it. But where is it written, that God cannot consistently with justice condemn any unbeliever? or that he is in justice bound to give faith to any man, because of the ransom Christ paid? Doubtless he will fulfil his whole counsel, and save all whom he intended to save. But, previously to faith in Christ, no sinner has any claim upon his offended Sovereign: afterwards the divine faithfulness and mercy are his sole and sufficient security; and it seems to be a deduction of human reasoning, not any doctrine of divine revelation, to assert, that even a believer can in strict justice claim eternal salvation on the account of Christ's atonement.

complete the grand design; and hath "all power” and authority in heaven and earth, and all the fulness of the Spirit, at his disposal for that purpose: and this design consists in pardoning, sanctifying, defending, and bringing to perfect holiness and felicity," all," without exception, "who come to God through him." But this leads us to shew,

II. That Christ's commission has a special reference to those "whom the Father hath given to "him."

Though no obstacle from divine justice to the salvation of any sinner, or of every sinner, now remains; yet a hindrance equally insuperable, except by omnipotent grace, is found in the depravity of our fallen nature. The sun is created, and placed in the open firmament, for the common benefit of mankind; there is in that luminary no defect of light, nor would there be any, were innumerable additional millions to share the benefit. Yet some men do not see; not from any defect in the sun, but from one in themselves. God, who is no debtor to his creatures, gives the blessing of sight to whom he will: but, if he withhold or withdraw it, the man is benighted at noon-day.

Christ was lifted up on the cross, (like the brazen serpent on the pole,) and is held forth in the gospel, for " all the ends of the earth to look "unto, and be saved." This may properly be called the common benefit of mankind: there is no defect of merit, of mercy, or of grace in him; nor would there be any, if millions, as numerous as the sand, should receive out of his fulness. But the want of a right disposition of heart, which fallen. man has not, which God alone can give, but which

« VorigeDoorgaan »