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How will they account for this? Will they say that divine influences stopped at the boundary which limited the atonement that they stopped because the merits of the death of Christ stopped? that the current of divine influence could proceed no longer, as hitherto the channel of the atonement went, and no farther? Will they say that the influences of the Spirit were withdrawn from the churches of Asia Minor, because there were no more people there for whom Christ died? No. The scriptures never teach that divine communications are confined or withdrawn because the atonement is limited or bounded. And it is triumphantly proved by the history of the Christian church, that the most powerful defenders of the doctrine of divine influences have been found among those divines who were the most pertinacious advocates of universal atonement.
The limitation of the intercession of Christ is not owing to a limitation in his atonement. The scriptures no where say so.
It is never hinted that the persons for whom Christ does not intercede, are persons for whom he did not die; or that the persons for whom he intercedes are alone the persons for whom he died. The aspect of his intercession is as wide as the aspect of his atonement. He makes intercession for all believers, that through them the WORLD might know that God sent him; and for the world to know Jesus Christ whom God hath sent, is life everlasting. The ability of Christ to intercede for all is limited, in the same manner as God's ability to answer the prayers of all. The atonement limits neither of them. They are limited other principles. God has never undertaken to answer prayers and requests which are never addressed to him, and Christ has never undertaken to plead causes which have never been committed to him. Nothing can be more unlimited than this declaration: “If any man sin, we have an advocate—who is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world."
Neither is this opinion necessary to prove the certainty that Christ shall not lose his reward. A limited atone
ment can never prove it. The proofs of this must be sought from other sources, such as the grace,
the counsel, and the faithfulness of God. There are many circumstances in this hypothesis which render it too weak to support the glorious doctrine raised on it. 1. It supposes ihat the reward of Christ consists principally, if not entirely, in a numerical salvation of souls; whereas there are other elements in his reward, e. g., the glory of the divine perfections, the vindication of the eternal law, his infinite joy in all this, &c. &c. 2. It takes for granted that the atonement has no ends answered in the destruction of those who reject it, whereas it is a sweet savor unto God even in them that perish. 3. It supposes that Christ is sure of his reward only on commercial principles, that as he has paid so much suffering for so many souls, God must in commutative justice recompense him in return "quid pro quo,” which entirely destroys the morality of the atonement.
Christ is never said to be sure of some, because he had purchased some. The saints in heaven sing the song of truth, when they say, "Thou hast redeemed us to God by thy blood;" but this does not imply, nor is there any other text that implies that those who are not in heaven, are not there, because Christ had not redeemed them with his blood.
This train of reasoning convinces my mind that the hypothesis of particular atonement, is a body foreign to the system of divine doctrines, as revealed in the scriptures.
IV. It remains for me to shew, that a limited atonement is inconsistent with the system of practical truth as revealed in the scriptures. The scriptures sum up all practical truth in loving God with all the heart, and loving our neighbor as ourselves. No theological system has ever yet said, in express words, that it is not the duty of all men to love God with all the heart. But let any one take his position within the magic circle of this limited hypothesis, and let him try to inculcate the duty of love to God on all the excluded reprobates. What argument will he use? What motives can he ex
hibit? He may amuse them with the metaphysical prolusion that men should love God on account of what He is; but he will never teach them the New Testament language, "we love Him because He first loved us." Or from his position let him try to preach, that men ought to love their neighbors as themselves, and to do unto others as they would that others should do unto them. In the whole history of theologians, no one has ever yet been found who would have admired particular redemption, had he believed himself to be one of the excluded reprobates.
There are, however, many duties required of all men towards Christ, which could only arise from the fact, that Jesus Christ had died for them. I will present a few as samples. "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved." This is addressed to every man who hears the gospel. One man will not be saved by believing that Christ died for another, but for himself. Peter did not call on the sinners of Jerusalem to believe, on the ground, that for ought they knew, Christ had died for them; but he assures them, that if they believe, there is in Christ a salvation provided for them. “God now commandeth all men, every where, to repent.” Does the scripture any where shew that God requires a repentance that has no connection with the atonement of his Son? There is no motive for any sinner to repent, unless there be an atonement for him. Yet God commands every man, every where, to repent. The repentance of any man will not be available except through an atonement for that man; therefore, call from God to every man, must be founded on an atonement for every man, in propria persona.
Peter teaches Simon Magus, "Pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.” Prayer goes to the throne of grace,—but God has no throne of grace except the atoneinent of his Son. What had Simon Magus to do with the throne of grace and prayer, if Christ did not die for him? Would he not have been a thief and a robber to go and draw on pro
visions which had never been intended for him? Yet the doctrine of the apostle teaches him to pray for
pardon—though God can grant no pardon, and hear no prayer, but through the death of his Son.
Paul inculcates the duty of love to Christ at the peril of being Anathema Maranatha, in case of neglecting it. My duty to love God arises, not from the fact that he made my neighbor, but from the fact that He made me. And my duty to love Christ arises, not from the fact that he died for my neighbor, but from the fact that he died for me. Now, the apostle uses the terms of a general message-"if any man loves not the Lord Jesus Christ.” If any man, and every man, is to love Christ at all, he is to love Him as his Mediator, Redeemer, and Savior; for the gospel would never pronounce any sinner accursed for not loving Christ as his Redeemer, if the fact were, that Christ never had redeemed that sinner.
The same apostle, in 1 Tim. ii, 1–6, teaches that supplications, prayers, and intercessions, should be made for all men.
Why? Because God wills that all men should be saved; and because Christ gave himself a ransom for all. We cannot pray for devils, because we have no testimony that Christ died for them. But you can pray for all
have a clear testimony that Christ tasted death for every man.
This latter class of practical truths are duties,—they are duties incumbent upon every man who hears of them; yet they never would have been duties upon any, but for the mediation of Christ. The theory of a limited atonement clashes with all these duties; indeed, it destroys the obligation to observe them, except merely on those who are within the enclosures of particular redemption. If all the hearers of the gospel are not under obligations to discharge these New Testament duties, then, they do not sin against Christ by neglecting them, for they, according to this hypothesis, actually owe no such duties to Him. It is hardly necessary to add another line to say, that such an opinion is subversive of all practical truth.
ON THE ATONEMENT IN ITS RELATION TO SIN.
The Atonement a demonstration of the Evil of Sin.
It was a cardinal article in the creed of the apostles that Jesus Christ "died for sin.” They exhibit the Lord Jesus Christ as being a sin offering—as bearing our sins in his body on the tree-as condemning sin, and taking away the sin of the world. Indeed, according to their doctrine, Christ bears no office, wears no title, and sustains no relation but what
sin. The atonement of the Son of God is the greatest proof that can be given of the existence of moral evil in our world. As the institution of a hospital in a neighborhood is a proof of the prevalence of disease and sickness there, so the provision of salvation denotes the existence of a moral disorder. And as the demanding, or the receiving of a satisfaction by any man supposes a wrong committed or sustained, so the astounding fact that Jesus Christ offered himself up to God, as a “propitiation,” is a public and clear proof of the existence of moral evil and wrong.
One of the designs of the institution of typical sacrifices was to bear universal and an uninterrupted testimony to the actual existence of moral wrong in the world. They brought sin into remembrance every year, and their vicarious provisions supplied the first clue, to that scheme of substitution by which the evils of sin should be taken away by the Lamb of God. The