« ÎnapoiContinuați »
expresses the actual result of the atonement, and not the nature, aspect, and adaptation of it.
It is, then, evident that the advocates of a limited atonement, and the inspired apostles, do not publish their message in the same style. Do the advocates of a limited atonement ever cheerfully and fearlessly declare, that “Christ died for all?" and that his death is "a propitiation for the sins of the whole world?” Do they not hesitate to use such unmeasured phraseology? Do they not call sinners to repentance, rather on the ground that perhaps they are elected, than on the firm and broad basis of a bransom for all?".
The apostles, on the contrary, understood their commission to be general and indiscriminate for every creature:” so they received it from Him, who laid the foundation of such an extensive ministration, by "tasting death for every man.” Accordingly, they proceeded on their commission to preach the gospel to "all the world.” They did not square their message by any human systems of theology, nor measure their language to the lines of Procrustean creeds. They employed a dialect that would traverse the length and breadth of the world. They did not tremble for such an unreserved exhibition of the ark and the mercy seat. They could pot bring themselves to stint the remedy prepared and intended to restore a dying world; nor could they cramp the bow lighted up in the storm that threatened all mankind.
To avoid some of the absurdities of a commercial atonement, its advocates say, that it was sufficient
This then is conceding the point, that the particularity of the atonement consists, not in its nature and aspect, but in its application. The phrase "sufficient for all,” should be well weighed. If the atonement be sufficient for all,” sufficient for what is it? It was, no doubt, sufficient to shew that the throne and government of God were quite guiltless in the intrusion of sin, and that sin is a wrong, and an evil of tremendous malignity. But is the atonement suffi
cient to justify the government in the salvation of every man, provided such a salvation would take place? Is the atonement sufficient to demonstrate to all the offenders of the world the evil of their revolt, and the inexcusableness of persisting in it? Is the atonement sufficient to shew, that if any sinner perished, he perished not through any deficiency in the provision made for his salvation? In a word, is the atonement sufficient to justify a free, a full, and a sincere offer of cordial acceptance to every applicant at the throne of mercy? If the atonement be not sufficient for these purposes, in what senses can it at all be sufficient for men, and for all men? And if it be actually sufficient for these purposes, let it be preached as such; let it be fearlessly exhibited in its true character.
ON THE ATONEMENT IN ITS RELATION TO THE PER
SON OF THE SON OF GOD.
If a peasant offend or injure a peasant, a plebeian umpire might settle the difference between them. If he offend a magistrate in the exercise of his office, the plebeian umpire will not be competent to treat in his behalf: he must have a daysman of a higher grade. If he offend the king, by treason or rebellion, the one and the other of these umpires would be inadequate to interpose for him: some person high in rank, or official dignity, would alone be thought suitable and competent to such an undertaking.
Should it be proposed to a government that a prisoner, convicted of a high offence, should be set at liberty, at the instance and intercession of another, that is, for the sake of another person, it is natural to suppose, that among all the members and friends of the government there would be a general inquiry—who and what was that person? The following circumstances would require a very satisfactory explanation: What is his rank in the state? What is the nature of his connection with the offender? What is his character in the estimation of the government? What measure will be substitute instead of the offender's punishment? Why does he interfere? How does the king regard such an interference!
The high rank of such a person in the state is of consequence in such a transaction, because such alone would be competent to treat with the king. With such only could the king treat on such a subject without
lowering his dignity. The interference of such a personage would draw public attention to the magnitude of the offence. If the personage were nearly related to the king, and obliged to sustain some great inconvenience, humiliation, or hardship by his interference, it would shew that the king did not dispense his pardons, except on good, wise, and worthy grounds.
In such a transaction regard must also be had to the kind of connection or relationship in which the intercessor stands to the offender. There would be no propriety in dispensing pardon at the instance of a stranger, utterly unconnected, either by neighborhood, office, or kindred with the offender. There is, however, a congruity in shewing favor, cæteris paribus, at the instance of a person in some way related to the peculiar circumstances of the offender: say, the Home Secretary of State, the Lord Lieutenant of the county, the Magistrate for the district, the Minister of the parish, the Colonel of a regiment, &c. The interference of such a person shews that he is interested in the welfare of the district where the offence was committed. It draws the attention of that particular district to the heinousness of the crime. His respectability is a pledge that just authority and the public good will not be injured by granting pardon; and it secures honor, love, and esteem to the interposer, as the means of conveying the pardon; and through him, reverence and attachment to the government that granted it.
He who would interpose in such an affair must be a person possessing great private worth, and weight of character in the estimation of the government. It would lower and sully the dignity of any government to treat with one who had been a sharer in the crime, or who thought slightly of it. In treating with a person of worth and character, the government would 'shew that the throne was quite clear of contributing to the offence, or of conniving at it,--that it did not regard the offence as a trifle,-that it was not reluctant to administer mercy,
when practicable with honor and safety,--that its pardon was so dispensed as not to afford the slightest encouragement to the crime,--and that the liberation of the offender came entirely from the sovereign prerogative of the throne, though through the intercession or for the sake of another. In this way the offender could not boast of his case as deserving pardon; nor could his compeers in guilt boast of his release as a triumph over righteousness.
In such a dispensation of pardon, it is not enough that the character of the government appear bonorable, but the interests of it must also be safe. We suppose one of the friends of the government to rise and say,"It is well known that a law without a penalty is only an advise, a mere recommendation; and annexing a penalty without executing it when required, makes government a mere name.
If the punishment in this case be cancelled, what provision will the offender's friend substitute instead of it, that will secure the ends of good government. For though the letter of the law be not executed, yet the spirit of it ought to be preserved that mercy may not clash with public justice."
Another friend might rise and say,—"It should be remembered that the illustrious person who interferes in this affair, is a friend to the government, as well as a friend to the offenders, and withal, is no friend to the offence. He is high in rank and in official dignity, and his character is unblemished. He has suffered much pain and anguish for the offenders, and in this undertaking, has borne great fatigue and expense, as well as the bazard of his good name. He now pledges that his private worth in his own district, his rank in the state, his nearness to his sovereign, and bis high office, will guarantee that no injury shall accrue to the government by issuing forth a pardon. It has been observed that the spirit of the law might be preserved without adhering to the letter of it: I beg also to suggest that