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EXTENT OF THE ATONEMENT.
that sacrifice must, on the other hand, have been in itself adequate to the salvation of all men, so as to become a suitable foundation for the general and unlimited calls of the gospel. There is a broad line of distinction between the sufficiency of the atonement of Christ, and its efficiency; or rather, as I would say, the sovereign purpose of the sacred Three in reference to its efficiency; i. e., in reference to the exertion of that holy influence upon the minds of men which secures to them the enjoyment of the blessings which flow through the channel of the atonement. It
may be true (whether it is so, or not, we shall inquire presently,-my present object is merely to illustrate the difference between the two things) that Jehovah did not intend to put forth that influence which would render the atonement the means of securing the salvation of all men; though, as it was to become the basis of moral government, it was essential that it should be one of infinite worth, and so in itself adequate to the salvation of all men. This I have long regarded as the true state of the case. I cannot think that the intention of God in reference to the application of the atonement (as we call it, perhaps not very correctly, though the language is well enough understood) was general, nor that the sufficiency of the atonement-its inherent power, worth, adequacy, &c., was limited, or particular.
Before we can return an enlightened, or even a rational, answer to the question, “Did Christ die for all men, or for some men only?" we must carefully inquire into its meaning, -a business attended with more difficulty than some individuals imagine. If it be meant to inquire whether Christ died instead of some men, or instead of all men, it will be still necessary (though the question is now less ambiguous) more fully to define the phraseology; for, on the one hand, he did not so die instead of any, as that they shall be saved without repentance and faith; and, on the other hand, he so died instead of all men, as that all men may be saved on their faith and repentance.
If, again, it be meant to inquire whether Christ died with a design to save some men, or all men, it is possible that even this question might be regarded by some persons as an ambi
GOD AS MORAL GOVERNOR
To save, it might be said, may mean to lay for men a foundation of salvation, i. e., to supply them with the means of salvation ;-or again, to render those means effectual to their salvation : and, accordingly, the answer to the question must vary, as one or other of these senses is attached to the words. If the question be, “ Did Christ die with the design of laying a foundation of salvation for all men, or for some men ?" I answer, that, in this sense, he died for all men. If the question be, “Did he die with the design of rendering these means effectual to the salvation of all men, or of some men?” I answer, that, in this sense, he died for some men only.
I believe in the unlimited, universal, infinite sufficiency of the atonement of Christ-I believe it was the intention of God, as the moral Governor, in giving his Son as a sacrifice for sin, (and we must not forget that, while men remain rational beings, it is impossible for God to divest himself of the character of moral Governor, even under a dispensation of grace,) to provide a remedy commensurate with the disease. I believe, on the other hand, in the limited application of the atonement. I believe it was the intention of God, as a Sovereign, to render that remedy effectual, by special and sovereign influence, in the case of certain individuals only who are affected with the general disease, so that the intention of God, as a Sovereign, and as a Ruler, in reference to the atonement, is different, the one being general, the other particular.
The truth of the preceding remarks, which have been so far merely expository, it will be necessary to establish. The two points to be supported are the following :-that God, in giving his Son to be a sacrifice for sin, designed, as a moral Governor, to provide, and that he actually did provide a remedy co-extensive with the disease of men ;-but that, as a Sovereign, having a right to dispense his favours as it seems good in his sight, he did not determine to exert that influence which would render the remedy effectual, save only in the case of the elect.
I. The first thing to be proved is, that the atonement is sufficient in itself for all that it is a general remedy co-extensive with the evil which it was intended to remove,
HAS PROVIDED A GENERAL REMEDY.
setting open the door of salvation to the whole family of
1. I derive my confidence of this from the very nature of the atonement itself. In defining atonement, it was stated to mean that satisfaction for sin which was dered to God as the moral Governor of the world, by which every obstacle, on his part, to the pardon of sin was entirely removed. In explaining the nature of satisfaction, it was observed, that to make satisfaction for sin is to do that which restores, and will preserve, to the moral government of God, that power over its subjects, which the entrance of sin had shaken, and which its unconditional forgiveness would have entirely destroyed. Now, if this be the nature of atonement, the sacrifice of our Lord must have been in itself sufficient for the salvation of the whole world. To conceive of any limitation in reference to its own intrinsic worth or adequacy, is utterly impossible. To suppose that the death of Christ has removed the obstacles which must otherwise have prevented the salvation of some men, and not those which would have obstructed the salvation of others, is to suppose not only what is unscriptural, but what is absurd. That satisfaction which renders it consistent with the perfections of Jehovah, and with the claims and safety of his government, to bestow pardon upon one man, must of necessity render it equally consistent with his character, and his office, to bestow pardon upon all. It does not follow from this statement that pardon will actually be bestowed upon all. Previously to the creation, there was no obstacle resulting from want of right, or power, on the part of God, to the bestowment of reason upon all the animate productions of his hands, yet reason was not imparted to many. There is now, in like manner, no obstacle arising out of the Divine character and government, to the eternal salvation of all men, yet the felicity of heaven will not be imparted to all. There are, doubtless, reasons for this restricted application of the atonement; but these reasons do not rest upon a limited sufficiency in the atonement itself. That there should be such a limitation in an atonement made by a Divine Saviour is impossible,-considering the nature
GOD AS MORAL GOVERNOR
of his atonement, inconceivable. That work, on the part of the Saviour, which preserves the efficiency of the law in the bestowment of pardon upon one man, must, in the very nature of the case, preserve it also in the bestowment of pardon upon all men. It is impossible, consistently, to reject these statements, and, at the same time, to retain the views in reference to the nature of the atonement which have been developed in the preceding Lectures. I express a firm conviction, growing out of six and twenty years of close and anxious thought and observation, that the notions which some have formed of the limited sufficiency of the sacrifice of Christ, are usually connected with the opinion (and cannot well be otherwise than connected with it,) that he delivers us from punishment by suffering the precise number of stripes which we must have endured.* In that case, indeed, there could be no sufficiency in the atonement itself in reference to any but the elect. But if his death partook of the nature of a moral, and not a pecuniary satisfaction, then that satisfaction which was sufficient for one, must have been sufficient for all.
* It is possible that the practice of attaching too literal a signification to such words as head, surety, legal representative, &c., in their application to Christ, has also contributed to sustain this restricted view of the sufficiency of the atonement. If the Saviour were not the surety, or legal representative, of the nonelect, how can there be, some are ready to say, sufficient efficacy in his blood to save them, allowing its value to be as great as you please? Now, I admit that, if the relation sustained by Christ to his people were absolutely identical with that which a human legal representative sustains to those whom he represents, the objection would be an insuperable one. But I deny this. I maintain that it is analogous merely, not identical. The consequences of the work of Christ are, to believers, as if Christ were their legal representative ; and, therefore, he may be called so; the analogy is rather in the consequences, than in the relation itself. (Vide Lectures on Justification.) But the point which I particularly wish those who urge this objection, to observe now, is, that, if they give up “the measure and weight system," as Dr. Wardlaw expressively calls it, they must with it, also, surrender their notions, that the relation of Christ to his people, identifies itself with that of a legal representative among men. Christ could not, it is manifest, be a literal surety, or legal representative, without enduring the same punishment—the same in kind and degree-which the elect must have borne. Christ was, in a certain sense, the representative of the world ; i.e., in so far as though, without his death, all must have perished, now all may be saved. He is more fully the representative of believers, because the consequences of his work will certainly be enjoyed by them.
HAS PROVIDED A GENERAL REMEDY.
In the language of Dwight, “If the atonement of Christ consisted in making such amends for the disobedience of man as should place the law, government, and character of God, in such a light that he could forgive sinners of the human race without any inconsistency, then these amends, or this atonement, were all absolutely necessary, in order to render such forgiveness proper, or consistent with the law and character of God, in a single instance. The forgiveness of one sinner without these amends, would be just as much a contradiction of the declarations of law, as the forgiveness of a million. If, then, the amends actually made were such that God could consistently forgive one sinner, he might, with equal consistency and propriety, forgive any number, unless prevented by any other reason.
The atonement, in other words, which was necessary for a world, was equally necessary, and in just the same manner and degree, for an individual sinner.” (Sermon 36.) The amount of Dwight's statement is, that Christ could not, according to the phraseology of some, make a sufficient atonement for one man, without making a sufficient atonement for all men. I do not approve of the phraseology, because it seems to imply an intention, on the part of the Saviour, to apply the atonement to, or to render it effectual in, the case of all men; yet the meaning intended to be conveyed is scriptural, and most important, viz., that the Saviour set open the door of mercy to all, so that all, without a second atonement, may, on their faith and repentance, be forgiven. The conceived implication of the words, “ Christ made an atonement for all men,” to which I have just referred, causes many to startle at the phraseology, and is the chief ground on which I would avoid it; for, believing, as they profess to do, that, if it had been the intention of God to save all men, the atonement which his Son presented would have been sufficient in itself to secure that object, they must believe, to be self-consistent, that this atonement was, in some sense, made for all; or it would follow that some may be saved without an atonement. Strictly speaking, the atonement was not made for one man, or for all men; it was made to God for sin, i. e., on account of sin. It was designed to remove those