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ON THE ATONEMENT IN ITS RELATION TO THE
ETERNAL STATE OF THE UNIVERSE.
The entire universe of God is under the government of Jesus Christ. In the present administration of it there is a mixture of good and evil, but he intends to remove out of his moral government every offence and "every thing that defileth." This administration of it is to come to a close, and then the state of probation will end, accountable beings will be reckoned with, sentence will be passed on each class of agents, and their respective states fixed. By these measures a separation will be made between the good and the wicked. Rewards and punishments will be awarded to each respectively. Both will be awarded for eternity, and both will be awarded by a mediatorial authority founded on the atonement. The glorification of the saints, the rewarding of angels, the condemnation of the wicked, and the eternal condition of all beings are connected with the mediation and the atonement of Christ.
The influence of the Atonement on the Happiness of
All the blessedness and all the glory of all heavenly Beings are connected with the atonement of Jesus Christ. The spirits of just men made perfect owe every thing to it. The whole of their happiness is represented as consisting in-being with Christ where
be is—in having a clear and full sight of all his glory in being as to their souls and bodies perfectly like him-in having without interruption the most intimate intercourse with him,—and in having an ample and an eternal share in his glory, dominion, and blessedness, being glorified together as joint heirs.
The happiness of angels will take a character or a modification from their long inquiries and services in connection with the great atonement of their Lord. Their interests were embraced in the mediatorial system, by which measure their present happiness was increased, and their eternal happiness secured. Their eternal adorations are connected with the atonement. In heaven they will be always praising him, singing, “Worthy is the LAMB that was slain." They cheerfully join the ransomed of the Lord in celebrating his praises; and though one of the sweetest lines of our song is out of theirs, yet they will always desire to look into these glorious themes, and never will they forget the scenes of the
and the cross. The scriptures teach us to regard the eternal glory and blessedness of God as connected with the mediatorial atonement. The FATHER will rejoice in the redounding of all things to the praise of the glory of his GRACE, according to the eternal purpose which he had purposed in Christ Jesus. The Son will be pleased and satisfied in seeing of the TRAVAIL of his soul. The joy of the Holy SPIRIT will be connected with GLORIFYING Christ, by introducing to heaven millions of souls sanctified and formed after his likeness. For this all the works of God were made, and all the word of God spoken. Through this all the divine perfections were displayed and honored, and all the divine purposes accomplished and glorified. The mediatorial administration of the divine government shall come to a close, but the influence of the atonement, on the interests of the divine empire, shall never end.
There are two elements in the state of the blessed that are inconsistent with a restricted atonement on the
principles of commercial redemption, viz., its freeness, and its gradations. Commercial redemption supposes that Christ suffered so much punishment for so many sins of the elect, and consequently by so much suffering, purchased so much blessedness for them, and for them only. The blessedness of heaven is, first, freeall of pure, unmerited, and unpurchased grace. It was not due to the elect; nor did the atonement constrain the Father to confer it from justice to Christ. It is meant that public justice was honored in awarding blessedness to the saints for the sake of Christ-but justice was not the ground and cause of the awardit was sovereign, free grace exercised through the medium of the atonement. If, however, Christ paid so much suffering for so much blessedness, that blessedness is due in justice, either to Christ, or, according to his will, to the persons to whom he paid the amount, whose song must be to the praise of the glory of bis justice.
The blessedness of heaven, secondly, has gradations as one star differeth from another star in glory. Now on the principles of commercial redemption, how will you account for the gradations of saints in glory? This commercial hypothesis supposes that Christ sustained or paid greater sufferings for a great sinner, and less for a sinner of a lower grade. Here, then, we have two difficulties:–First, the more Christ suffered for any one, the more he deserved for him, and consequently he must have a greater share in the blessedness. Secondly, The reason why any one may be least in the kingdom of God is, that Christ suffered least for him; and Christ suffered least for bim, because he had the least sins to suffer for! How mercenary, pitiful, and absurd! On the contrary, the scriptures represent the atonement as the medium, and not as the measure of the rewards. Though the reward is not for our works, it is according to them. As the atonement contemplates God as free agent, so it contemplates man as a free agent. Consequently though all rewards come from free grace through the atonement, yet the measurement is, “he that soweih sparingly shall reap sparingly, and he that soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.” Such an arrangement accounts for the gradations in glory on principles honorable to the government, for it supposes every saint perfecily and fully happy in bis gradation according to his several ability. They will never have the apprehension that they have so much glory because Christ bas deserved and purchased no more for them.
The eternity of a happy universe will be perpetually and progressively unfolding the glories of the great ATONEMENT, for amid all the splendor, blessedness, and joy of the heavenly worlds, “the Lamb will be the light thereof."
The aspect of the Atonement on the Perdition of the
On the day that shall terminate the probation of all accountable beings, they will all be judged by the Mediator, and the eternal separation between the good and the bad shall be effected by mediatorial authority. It is not in his authority as God, the Maker of all things, that Christ will judge, but in his authority as Mediator, and he has no authority as Mediator, but what is founded on his atonement.
I. The eternal condemnation of fallen angels will be connected with this mediatorial authority founded on the atonement.
The scriptures clearly assert, and constantly suppose, that a race of fallen spirits and wicked intelligences do exist, that they exert an agency and influence in this world, and that their agency is exerted entirely for evil. These fallen and wicked spirits have attempted to ruin the whole human race. They have tried to convert this world unto a theatre of the most malignant evils. When the Son of God came as a second Adam to oppose the progress of evil, they grievously afflicted him, and made every effort to conquer him. They have been, since, employing all their agents and instruments for crushing and destroying the church of Christ. With inveterate and undiminished malignity they have constantly aimed at clouding the honors of the divine perfections, and at frustrating all the divine purposes, and especially, purposes of mercy and favor.
As the eternal happiness of angels will take a character and modification from their services in the cause of the atonement, so will the eternal punishment of fallen spirits take a character from their machinations and opposition against the atonement. Though they have not rejected the atonement, they have opposed it from enmity against the redeeming measures of the Seed of the woman, and the bruising and crushing of their agency and influence will be by mediatorial power and authority.
II. The condemnation of the heathen who have perished without hearing of the atonement will be an act of Christ as the Mediator.
It is through the provisions of the atonement that the heathen have had their being. Had it not been for the prompt interposition of Christ in Eden as Mediator to isave the world,” neither the heathen, nor any other nations would ever have come into existence. They have become members of moral government, therefore, and mental endowments and means of accountableness have been conferred upon them on account of the introduction of a compensative dispensation. Consequently, all the favors of providence, and fruitful seasons, filling their hearts with food and gladness come to them, though they do not know it, through the mediation of Christ. They will, therefore, be dealt with according to what they have through the atonement, and not according to what they have not. As they have not received the ministry of the atonement, they will