Page images

"But why should not all unbelievers be saved?"

So long as unbelief continues, it is in its own nature an effectual bar to that holy happiness, in which salvation chiefly consists, Should any one be justified, while an unbeliever, he could not be happy even in heaven. He must repent and be sanctified. This unbelief is the source of all sin, and a combination of every damning ingredient.

"But since there is ample provision for the salvation of all, why does not God bring them to repentance ?"

He does every thing which his character and our freedom require to be done; and then, in justice, causes us to reap according to what we have sowed. "What more could I havę done?"

"Ye will not come unto me that ye, might have life?"



Such discourses are better calculated to mislead the inconsiderate, than to convince the "noble Bereans." The text should

have been critically examined. Θεῶ ζῶντι, The living God, is the antecedent to the relative pronoun who; which is an expression, rarely, if ever applied to the second person of the Trinity. It denotes God, the Father. The text therefore, declares, that God extends his preserving, and saving goodness, in a greater or less degree to all men; but especially to his children. Should this construction be rejected, and should it be admitted that the passage refers to our Lord Jesus Christ, it will not follow, from his being called the Saviour of all men, that he actually made satisfaction for the sins of all men. If Jesus has procured a space for repentance, and the temporary forbearance of God, for the non-elect, it does not of course follow, that he made an atonement, to satisfy divine justice, and merit accept

ance, for every rebel. Should it be said, however, that Christ made atonement for all; the discourse has proved, that all may be restricted to a less number, than the whole of the human race. It might be said, Christ is the Saviour, of all men, who are elected, by divine appointment, or office; and especially the Saviour of those of the elect who do now actually believe, and enjoy the purchased blessings of the atonement.

The same kind of ignorance or negligence has perverted many other passages. In Hebrews ii. 9, and 10. the apostle is speaking of the sons of God; and declares, that in bringing them to glory, it became the Captain of their salvation to be made perfect, in the character of a Saviour, by taking upon him a body capable of suffering; so that he could taste of death, or die, ύπερ παντοσ. The original contains nothing answerable to man; and the eliptical expression should undoubtedly be supplied by úlov, son. Christ was made, for a little while, lower than the angels, that he might die for every son, about to be brought into glory.

The holy scriptures contain nothing more favourable to the doctrine of a general atonement, than the declaration of John, that Christ "is a propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." 1 John ii. 2. In these words, the apostle addressed himself to those believers, for whom his epistle was immediately designed, and to whom it was directed, saying, "my little children, sin not: but if any man should be tempted and sin, let him remember, to prevent him from sinking in despair, that we have an Advocate with the Father, who is the propitiation for the sins of every one, who now believes; yea, even for the sins of the whole world, which shall at any future time believe on his name." World is often restricted in this manner; and Christ has a spiritual world, in opposition to that which lieth in wickedness.

If, however, as some suppose, John addressed Jewish Christians; by the whole world, he might have intended believers of all nations; or of the Gentiles; for the inhabitants of the Roman Empire, and the uncircumcised, generally were denominated the whole world." Luke ii. 1. Upon these principles

may be explained the 1 John iv. 14. and all similar passages, which speak of God's loving the world, and of Christ's being the Saviour of the world. If these explanations are unsatisfactory, the advocates of a definite atonement have no objection to granting, again and again, that Christ is so far the Saviour of all men, that all the privileges which the elect and the reprobate enjoy in this life are derived to them, through the Saviour: while they firmly deny that the pardon of sin is purchased for any one, who will not be finally pardoned. In the 2 Cor. v. 14, 15. Paul is speaking of those, who are constrained by the love of Christ; and declares, that he died for all such persons, who were dead. But if he is speaking of all mankind, Christ may have died for all, while his death was constituted an atonement for the elect alone. One good man may die for another, so that the survivor may derive advantage from the death, while it makes no reconciliation between God and the sinner.

It was taken for granted, that atonement was made for all mankind, because God commands all men to be saved, and is unwilling that any should perish. 1 Tim ii. 4. and 2 Pet. iii. 9 The application of these passages will avail as much against the doctrine of a particular election, which is not denied, as against a particular atonement. If God may consistently command men, not elected, to repent, he may men, for whose sins no price of redemption has been paid; and if he is "not willing" that the reprobate should perish, he has the same disposition, and is "not willing," in the same sense, that the unredeemed should perish.

If the persons said to be in danger of perishing, "for whom Christ died," (Rom. xiv. 15. and 1 Cor. viii. 11.) were elected, the same reasoning will hold good. If they were not elected, Christ did not by substitution die for them, so as to make atonement for their sins; and all such persons not only are in danger of being lost, but actually will go to perdition.

The only remaining passage of scripture, which was quoted in the discourse, and which deserves particular notice in this discussion, is the 2 Pet. ii. 1. "Even denying the Lord who bought them."

The word ayogatava, rendered bought, is never used as synonymous with Καταλλαγη, atonement, or ἱλατηριον, propriation; but is derived from a word which signifies simply to procure to one's self. The persons said to be bought were ayogurava, procured as any thing is obtained, either by exchange or purchase, at a market place. Should you procure to yourself an ox at the market, you might pay a price for him; but it would not be a price of redemption. Should you procure a fatling for your guests, you would not say, that you had made atonement, or reconciliation, or a propitiation for it, to the man of the stall. Neither may you say, that atonement was made for these persons, who were bought, and denied their Master.

▲σTOTNY, "the Lord, who bought them," and who was denied by them, is in Luke ii. 29 Acts iv. 24. and 2 Tim. ii. 21. used to denote the Father, in distinction from Jesus, the God-manmediator, and there is no reason to suppose, that in this passage it means Christ.

The false teachers, who brought in damnable heresies, are said to have denied the Lord, who procured them to himself, or set them apart, as his teachers. In this sense, many, who are bought of the Lord, being put into the ministry of reconciliation, deny the Lord Jesus, whom they should preach, and the true doctrine of the atonement, which is the foundation of the gospel system.

For a more full elucidation of these important passages of scripture, the reader is referred to the writings of Dr. OwEN; and to an essay (in six numbers, on the doctrine of the atonement,) written by one of the most learned divines, and acute metaphysicians of our country; which is contained in the 3d volume of the Christian's Magazine.

When a writer pretends to find no difficulty in escaping from the dilemma exhibited in the Christian's Magazine, he is to be suspected of prevarication or ignorance. Christ, says the sermon, suffered the pains of hell, for no sinner.

If he did not actually endure the wrath of God, in his holy soul, it is difficult to account for his agony in the garden, and for

his exclamation on the cross. Some pretend that all this agony arose from his peculiar discoveries of the evil nature of sin, and from his unusual apprehension of God's hatred of it; but not from any actual torments which he himself experienced.

All the Calvinists believe, that Christ was so "made a curse for us," as to suffer, at some time before his ascension, the pains of hell. Some of them think these torments commenced in the garden and continued until he "gave up the ghost." Others of them believe, with Calvin, that the expiatory sufferings, in the soul, were not completed until the resurrection. If either of these opinions can be proved to be scriptural, the sermonizer must discover some new way of extricating himself from the dilemma.

When the expiring Jesus said, "it is finished," it is by not means certain that all his sufferings were ended. In his prayer, before his apprehension, he said, "I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do," (John xvii. 4.) when it remained for him, afterwards, to heal the wound caused by Peter, to answer for himself before the tribunal of Pilate and the sanhedrim, to bear his own cross, to endure reproach, to suffer on Calvary, and arise from the dead, for our justification. The expression, "it is finished," no more proves that the sufferings of Christ were terminated, than his prayer proves that all his mediatorial works were accomplished.

The Saviour was intent upon perfect obedience to the whole will of God. To his disciples he said, "This that is written must yet be accomplished in me." It is said in the 28th verse of the 19th of John, that "Jesus knowing that all things "non rerioral, had hitherto been accomplished, that the scripture might be com pletely fulfilled, said, I thirst." In consequence of this, a soldier put a sponge of vinegar to his mouth, and Jesus tasted it; so that the prophecy in the 69th Psalm, verse 21. "In my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink," was accomplished. Nothing besides this, remained to be done before his death, that all the things written concerning him might have their fulfilment. So soon as he had tasted, he said, concerning this prediction, Terrar it is accomplished," or brought to its end. Then,

« PreviousContinue »