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JEHOVAH AS SOVEREIGN DID NOT
individual of the human family? In harmony with the preceding reasoning, we find it stated in Scripture, that “Christ laid down his life for the sheep,"_" that he gave his life a ransom for many,”-and “bare the sins of many,"—that the sacramental wine is an emblem of that blood which was shed for the remission of sins unto many.” It would be doing violence to language, to contend that the words “ sheep," and “many,” are of equivalent import with all mankind.” Nor does it
appear to me necessary to suppose this, in order to support those views of the unlimited sufficiency of the atonement which have been given in preceding Lectures. The expressions, “ Christ gave himself for the many,” “the sheep," &c., denote that speciality of intention of which we are now speaking. He died with the intention of rendering his atonement efficacious to the salvation of many, (by visiting them with that special influence which would lead them to seek salvation, by repentance and faith,)—the many, that is, whom the Father had given to him, and to whom he had the power of giving eternal life.
In opposition to this statement, it will be said that Christ is represented as having "tasted death for every man," "for the whole world," &c. I answer,
That, if the objector understands no more by these expressions than that Christ so tasted death for every man, as that every man may be saved on his faith and repentance; or, that Jehovah, in his rectoral character, designed to provide an atonement sufficient in itself for the salvation of the whole world; I most cordially assent to the truth of this statement. But, if he contend that the truth taught by them is, that Christ, when he offered up himself, designed to render his atonement the means of saving the whole world, I answer,
First, that it is not necessary thus to understand the expressions. The terms" all,” “every one," &c., are frequently used in the Scriptures, where they must be understood in a limited sense.
Thus it is said, Mark i. 37, that when Simon, and they who were with him, had found him, they said unto him, “All men seek for thee." Again, Col. i. 23; “If ye continue in the faith, grounded and settled, and be not moved
DESIGN TO EFFECT THE SALVATION OF ALL.
away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached unto every creature which was under heaven.” (Vide, also, Mark v. 20; Acts xxii. 15; Rev. xix. 17; Phil. iii. 8; Luke xvi. 16; Acts xxi. 28.) Now, as the signification of these terms is sometimes clearly limited, this may be the case where they are used in reference to the death of Christ.
Secondly, I answer, that it is not probable that such is their meaning. They seem to have been employed in opposition to Jewish notions and prejudices. That nation wished to confine the goodness of Jehovah to themselves; and expected that the mission of the Messiah was intended for their exclusive benefit. It is not so, says John, in effect: “He is the propitiation for our sins," i. e., the sins of the Jews; "and not for ours only,” he adds, “but for the sins of the whole world,” i. e., of Gentiles, as well as Jews. There is nothing, then, in these statements, properly understood, to support the notion that Christ designed to effect the salvation of all men when “he poured out his soul unto death.”
In addition to the preceding reasoning, it may be stated, that there must have been a speciality of intention on the part of Christ, in reference to the individuals who should receive, through Divine influence, eternal benefit from his sufferings, in order to preserve a coincidence and harmony in the counsels and ways of God. It was not the design of God, as we have seen, to save the whole of the human race; but, permitting the sentence of a violated law to overtake some, to rescue others upon whom his sovereign choice rested, for reasons of which we can form no adequate conception, from that abyss of wretchedness to which sin had reduced them. Can it be conceived, then, for a moment, that the intention of Christ, in reference to those who should receive eternal benefit from his sufferings, extended beyond these individuals? Must not the special purpose of Christ, in his death, coincide with the decree of election? However unlimited might be the efficacy of the medicine in itself, yet, since it was the determination of the Father to dispose the hearts of some only to receive and
ARMINIANISM AND ULTRA-CALVINISM.
take it, must we not suppose that they constitute the "sheep" of which the Saviour speaks—the "many sons,” referred to by the apostle,—and that our Lord had the special intention of bringing them to the enjoyment of salvation, when “he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost?” I do not see, for my part, how it can be denied.
The views which I have endeavoured to lay before the reader, in reference to the unlimited sufficiency of the atonement on the one hand, and a speciality of intention in relation to its application on the other, seem to me to exhibit the true reconciling principle between apparently opposing Scripture statements; and to constitute the middle and safe course between the opposite and dangerous extremes of Arminianism on the one hand, and Ultra-Calvinism on the other. The former rejects any speciality of intention in reference to the application of the atonement, both on the part of the Father and the Son ; and, rejecting this notion, the system supplies us with no grounds of confidence that the Saviour may not have shed his blood in vain. It is right in stating that it rendered the salvation of all men possible. It is wrong in disregarding those previous engagements of the Father and the Son, and that gracious design on the part of the Son, arising out of them, to lead certain individuals, by special grace, to implore that mercy which is offered freely to all,-without which no man can obtain it, which renders the salvation of some men certain.
The latter system, Ultra-Calvinism, seems to me to consider this speciality of intention, in reference to the application of the atonement, as entering into the very
nature of atonement, so that there can be no value, no sufficiency, in the atonement, beyond its efficiency. To taste death for every man, or for all men, so necessarily means, in the apprehension of the advocates of this system, to die instead of all men, or with the design of saving all men, that they feel themselves absolutely compelled to limit the application of the general terms, to escape the unscriptural conclusion that all men must be saved. They forget the important distinction which exists between the design of God as a Sovereign, and a moral
Governor ;—that though, in the latter character, he must have designed to provide a sacrifice so infinite in its value as to render it just to himself, and safe to his government, to pardon the sins of all men for the sake of it, and so to constitute a basis on which a universal proclamation of mercy might be made to men ;-yet that he may not have intended, as a Sovereign, to bestow a disposition upon all to implore the mercy which as a Ruler he exhibits to all. They forget that, in the sense of opening a way for the salvation of all, Christ did die for all men, (whether that be the scriptural meaning of the expressions to which I now refer is another question,) or, rather, their system forbids the supposition that the door of mercy was set open to all men by the death of Christ. And, therefore, if they preach the gospel generally, it is merely on the principles stated formerly—that the elect are mingled with the mass of mankind, and so cannot be addressed any other way. On their part there is no bona fide proffer of mercy to any, but to those to whose salvation they conceive God designs to render it effectual; nor is there any such, as they conceive, on the part of God himself. The non-elect are, in no sense, in a state of probation. Their final condition is not suspended upon their conduct in relation to the testimony of God concerning his Son. They were brought under condemnation by the breach of the law given to Adam ;-no way of escape is set open to them ; and yet, at the great day, they will be condemned for not resting on that atonement which was not in itself sufficient to secure their salvation !
Let us, for a moment, view the system we have been advocating, in the light of contrast with the notions of UltraCalvinism. Contemplating the whole human family as condemned, Jehovah did not determine to inflict punishment on some, and to pardon others, but to provide a sacrifice of infinite worth, by which every obstacle to the bestowment of mercy might be removed ; and then, as a moral Governor, or Judge, to offer pardon to all who chose to accept it, in the only manner in which it could be bestowed. Acting in harmony with this intention, he deals with men as the subjects of his moral government. By the threatenings and promises of the gospel
he brings those motives to bear upon men, which are the instruments of moral government. All men may be saved by Christ who desire to be saved; but all do not desire to be saved; and, according to our previous statements, a disposition to embrace that mercy which is offered to all, is not necessary to moral government; or to render an individual an accountable agent. Jehovah, however, while, as a moral Governor, he exhibits mercy to all, as a Sovereign, imparts, in the case of many, a disposition to embrace it, and thus secures their salvation. “ The others he leaves to their own free agency." There is mercy for them if they choose to go and ask for it. He does not determine that they shall not ask it; but he permits them to receive or reject it, according to the determinations of their own minds. With reference to those whose wills he influences by sovereign goodness to receive it, he previously determined so to do. They are the elect,—“the many sons" whom the Father gave the Son, and whose salvation the latter intended to secure when he hung upon the
I do not say there are no difficulties in these statements, but they resolve themselves into the point contested between the Arminians and Calvinists, whether, when God offers blessings to men, under certain conditions if you will, he is obliged to impart a disposition to seek and enjoy them,a difficulty which the Arminian scheme leaves completely unsolved, since common grace does not really impart a disposition to repent and believe.