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These considerations warrant the conclusion, that all things are made "for” Christ as Mediator, and "given" to his administration to subserve the ends of his government, and secure the
of his atonement.
The administration of the Atonement analagous to the
administration of Providence.
PALEY observes, in his Natural Theology, that in all our widest and farthest researches into the productions of Creation, "we never get amongst such original, or totally different, modes of existence, as to indicate, that we are come into the province of a different Creator, or under the direction of a different will." Well had it been for the Christian church had such a thought suggested itself to our theological inquirers and polemical writers. It would have saved much controversy, heresy, persecution, and bloodshed. The analogy between providence and moral government Butler has established in a position unassailed and unassailable.
Many of the controversies which have agitated and unsettled the Christian church, have been conducted on the supposition, that in the works of redemption we come, so to speak, to the productions of a different God, other than the Lord of Providence and the Maker of the world. Human systems of theology seem to take this datum for their basis—but holy writ, sound reason, and daily experience shew that mankind are members of one immense system, pervaded by the same mind, regulated by the same will, and administered on the same general principles.
My present design is only to illustrate the analogy between the administration of the atonement and the dispensation of providence.
The providence of God has a universal aspect. His tender mercies are over all his works. He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust. Such is the God of providence, and such also is the God of redemption. He has loved the world. He
his Son to be a propitiation for the sins of the whole world. He willeth not that any should perish, but come to the knowledge of the truth, and he commands all men every where to repent. Here are words of equal dimensions. If you will apply some cramping and abridging process to the phrases about redemption, try the same experiment on providence, and the result will show that you serve a system, and not receive the truth. On the universal aspect of providence you have no system to serve, but on redemption you have to cut and square these unmeasured expressions to ready-made creeds. Think not in your hearts that the God who openeth his hand and satisfieth the desire of every living thing, is different from the God who spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all. Say not that the God who has provided so bountifully for our bodily and temporal wants, has been niggard and scanty in his supply for the soul that is to live for ever.
The measures of providence are liable to failure. A medicine may fail, notwithstanding the virtue which providence has given it. The crop of the husbandman may fail, notwithstanding the provision that seed time and harvest time shall continue. The morbid fear of acknowledging such a liableness to failure in the measure of providence, is unaccountable, when God declares his own government of the Jews, under the theocrasy, to have failed of its ends. "In vain have I smitten them, they have refused to receive correction," Jer. ii, 30. The word of God distinctly and expressly recognizes the same liableness to failure in the great measure of atonement. Are you sure that it is not attachment to system, rather than attachment to the truth, that makes you hesitate to avow this? The scriptures openly state that the atonement may become of none effect in some cases, as in Gal. v, 2, 5. The apostle Paul was afraid of the Galatians, lest he had bestowed
upon them labor in vain, i. e., lest the ministry of the atonement should fail of its ends. The same apostle pleads with the Corinthians in earnest entreaty, that they would not receive the grace of God in vain, which he must have supposed to be a possible case. The prophet Isaiah introduces the Messiah, the Lord Mediator himself, saying, "I have labored in vain, and spent my strength for nought." In perfect harmony with this prediction are the very words of the Redeemer himself. "How oft would I have gathered thy children, as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye
would not?” As I have here only to notice the analogy between the atonement and providence, no candid reader will suppose that this language implies an utter failure—it merely implies susceptibility of failure. The failure in either case does not dishonor God, the blame of it is entirely with the sioner-and the possibility of the case is quite consistent with the laws of trial in a free and moral government.
The character of any measures of divine providence is to be tried by the fitness and adaptation, and design of such reasures, and not at all by their final results. It is in this manner we always judge of an evil measure in the world. We judge of a dagger, a sword, a cannon, by its fitness and design. We judge of deceit, cunning, extortion and oppression, by their tendency and aim. Thus should we judge of providence. No wise man judges of a medicine by the death of a patient, of wealth by a miser, of learning by pedantry, or of liberty by anarchy. The deluge was a fit measure to clear the earth of evil doers, but you will not judge so by the final result. The final result does not prove that the selection of the family of Abraham would preserve a people from idolatry and sin—nevertheless the measure itself was adapted, and intended to do this. The miracles of Egypt and the wilderness were fitted and designed to bring the Israelites to obey God, and to trust him--but the result was otherwise. You do not judge of the ministry of Christ among the Jews by its final result, but by its tendency and design. Why then will you judge of the atonement by its final results? Why not judge of it by its adaptation and fitness? If the final result of any measure turn out to be the same with the ultimate end for which it was instituted and adapted, then the final result is a good criterion to test the design and tendency of a measure. Our present state of trial and probation is adapted, calculated, and designed to work out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory—but the final results in countless instances will prove otherwise. Will you say then, that this state was fitted and intended to prove thus disastrous? You are not to judge of probation by what it may be, or shall be in given instances, but by what it is now, by what it is fitted and intended to effect. Nor are you to judge of the atonement by what it may
and shali be in some instances, “the savor of death unto death,” but by what it is now—and what it is calculated and designed to be “the savor of life unto life” to all who will accept it.
General providence becomes available to particular cases, and thus becomes particular providence, by personal application only. So when a farmer takes into cultivation a piece land from the common, on which no corn has ever grown before, he applies to his own individual case the broad offer and promise of general providence, that wherever there shall be a seed time, there shall be a harvest time. This general providence becomes as suitable and as effectual to him, as if it were made and intended for him personally, and for him only. He never thinks of consulting the secret decrees of heaven, to know whether such a plot of ground was eternally predestined to bear a crop. The general promise is quite enough for him. Thus he acts in the thousand affairs of life,-say in taking medicine, he never waits to unravel the private manuscripts of heaven for information; he merely ascertains the general fitness, adaptation and tendency of the remedy, and applies it to his individual case. Why will not men
act thus about the atonernent. General atonement and particular redemption are no more inconsistent than a general and particular providence. No argument can be brought against a general atonement which will not fall with the same weight and edge upon a general Providence. There are no difficulties connected with particular redemption, which do not adhere as closely to particular providence. It would be regarded as the drivelling of silliness to argue that if there be a particular providence, there cannot be a general one. Of the same estimate is the reasoning, that if there be a particular redemption, the atonement can not be universal. As general providence becomes particular, only by personal application, so does general atonement become particular redemption. “Whosoever will, let him come, and take of the water of life freely;" "and him that cometh, I will in no wise cast out.” The supposed farmer never suspected that he was not personally intended in the general promise of Providence. If his crop has not answered his expectations, he sees and feels that the failure was owing to the nature of the soil and not to a deficiency in the promise; for it was never promised, that if he ploughed the rock, or sowed the sea shore, that he should have a harvest. should any sinner suspect that he is not personally interested in the atonement, and that the general atonement is not available to his particular and personal case! There is not in the scriptures, even the most remote allusion to any class of sinners, for whom Christ did not die. In the whole history of salvation and of man, there is not on record a single instance of a personal application of the general atonement failing of success. No personal applicant at the door of the atonement has ever perished. Christ has never said to any suppliant, “I never meant you individually.” If any sinner who knows the atonement perishes, even in his destruction he sees, that his perdition is not through a deficiency in the atonement, for the atonement had never promised or provided, if he sowed to the flesh that from the flesh