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ing their perspicuity, and comprehensive brevity. May every minister of the gospel daily present these apostolical instructions to his heart, and in simplicity, honesty, and sincerity, carry them into daily practice.-1 Timothy iii. 1, 2, 3–6. iv. 12–16. v. 21. Titus i. 5-9.
Such, then, is that system of means and instruments, both extraordinary and ordinary, the ministry of which God employs in converting and saving sinners. The Lord works in what way he pleases. Sometimes he employs conscious and voluntary agents, in other instances, he actuates unconscious passive intruments, to effect his ends.
(To be continued.)
LETTERS ON THE ATONEMENT.-No. IV.
MY DEAR BROTHER
The object I had in view in my last, was to show how well our doctrine of the atonement corresponds with a full and glorious display of the free and sovereign grace of God in man's salvation.
In this, I propose to resume that subject, by replying to some of the objections urged in recent publications.
To illustrate the entire harmony between the grace of God in our salvation, and the righteousness of Christ as its procuring eause, the subject may be viewed in a different light from that in which it has already been presented.
Speaking of the great Redeemer, the writer of the epistle to the Hebrews says, "" Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; and being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all that obey him." Heb. v. 8, 9. Salvation, then, is the work of Christ; and consequently the whole of it from beginning to the end must be attributed to his grace. All its blessings are deposited in his hands; and HE distributes them as he pleases. Hence it is recorded, "Of His fulness have all we received, and grace for grace:" John i. 16; and he himself says, "As thou, Father, hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as inany as thou hast given him." John xvii. 2. He is the inexhaustible fountain from which all blessings flow to believing sin, "Our life is hid with Christ in God." Col. iii. 3. He is the vine that bears all the branches, and imparts to them life and fruitfulness. John xv. 5, 6. He is the Head, from which all vital influence is derived to every member of his mystical body. Col. ii. 19. "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live: yet
not I, but Christ liveth in me:" Gal. ii. 20. "I give unto" my sheep "eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand." John x. 28.
It is plain, then, that Christ both procured salvation for us, and distributes all its blessings according to his sovereign pleasure. But shall we imagine his grace to be less free and glorious, because he became obedient unto death, in order that he might become the author of eternal salvation unto all who obey him? Do we owe him less, because he fulfilled the law in our place, and satisfied all the demands of justice against us, by enduring the penalty due to sin? Would his grace have been more free, more conspicuous, more illustrious, if he had humbled himself less, and suffered less, in accomplishing our salvation? Let an inspired writer answer these questions: "Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye, through his poverty, might be rich." 2 Cor. viii. 9. "The life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me, and gave himself for me." Gal. ii. 20. It is in the depth of that humiliation to which the great Redeemer submitted, and in the greatness of those sufferings which he endured for our sins, that the riches of his grace, and the fervency of his love are to be seen to the best advantage; and it is from the purchase he made of salvation for us, while hanging on the accursed tree, that the strongest motive to obedience is drawn. "For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's." 1 Cor. vi. 20. "The love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: and that he died for all that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again." 2 Cor. v. 14, 15.
Now, if the sufferings of Christ for our salvation do not detract from his grace in saving us; and if the payment of his life as the price of our redemption is not at all inconsistent with his love in redeeming us, nor with his sovereign pleasure in bestowing redemption on sinners; then it will follow that his sufferings do not detract from his Father's grace, and that the payment of the inestimable price he made is not inconsistent with his Father's love in our salvation, and does not at all infringe upon his adorable sovereignty in its application; because the Father and the Son, being one in nature and perfections, are most perfectly harmonious in all their counsels, designs, and operations. But this idea will receive a fuller illustration, when the objection referred to is taken up,
Previously to that let us see how the difficulty is removed by the new doctrine, and how its advocates harmonize the justice and the grace of God displayed in the salvation of sinful men. While they admit that, by the death of Christ, public justice was satisfied, they maintain that distributive justice is not satisfied.— They further say that “public justice demands that the greatest good of the universe should be promoted, that the greatest possible sum of happiness among intelligent beings should be brought into existence;"* consequently public justice demands the salvation of all who believe in Christ. Now, here is the very difficulty to which they object in the doctrine of the old school: for if justice demands the salvation of believers, where, to use their language, is the grace displayed in the salvation of sinners? How can they be saved by grace, if they are saved by justice?— But, it has been shown, according to our views of the scheme of redemption, that grace and justice perfectly harmonize. Our brethren, however, by trying to get rid of what seemed to them an insuperable objection, have created a real difficulty. They represent the justice of God as at once demanding the salvation and the damnation of believers: for it will scarcely be denied, that both public and distributive justice are the justice of one and the same divine Being. Distributive justice, they say, "demands that every person should be treated according to his moral character," and "that the guilty should be punished." It follows, therefore, that as believers will for ever remain, as they teach, guilty even in heaven, that distributive justice will eternally demand their punishment. But the demands of public justice, it seems, will prevail over the demands of distributive justice; and consequently the public justice of God will for ever preserve all believers in the enjoyment of heavenly happiness, in opposition to the unceasing demands of his distributive justice.So much for this scheme of removing the difficulty.
In a recent publication, I have met with the following remarks: "And if Christ has suffered that very penalty involved in the eternal condemnation of the elect, as some contend, then they ought to be liberated on the principles of the law. Their debt is paid. There is but one being in the universe to whom these persons would be indebted for their release; and that is the friend who paid their debt, or suffered the penalty of the law in their stead." Bold assertions indeed! The writer is led to the conclusion he has here formed, merely by pushing a metaphor far beyond the limits intended by those who use it. It is well known + Dial. on Atonement, p. 29.
*Dial. on Atonement, p. 21, Beman, p. 41.
that the disciples of the old school illustrate the doctrine of the atonement by referring to transactions occurring between debtor and creditor. With this illustration they have been furnished by the Saviour himself; as will appear from the petition prescribed by him, "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors;" and from the parable he spake about the servant who owed his Lord ten thousand talents. Here the Redeemer compares sins to debts, and the forgiveness of them to the remission of a debt by a creditor.
It is a feature of the old school divinity, of which it is hoped its pupils will never be ashamed, and one in which they differ from most of the new school writers, that they are fond of the language of scripture, and have little regard to any theological reasonings which are not clearly sanctioned by the authority of the inspired penmen. In regard to the point before us, it should be remembered that not only do we find such expressions and illustrations in the New Testament as those already quoted, but such as the following: "Ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price." 1 Cor. vi. 19, 20. "Ye are bought with a price, be not ye the servants of men." 1 Cor. vii. 23. 'Denying the Lord that bought them." 2 Pet. ii. 1. Nay, the whole work of our salvation is frequently denominated from a pecuniary transaction-It is called REDEMPTION, and believers are said to be REDEEM ED. Now redemption, it is well known, in its literal signification, refers to the price which is paid for a prisoner or a slave---The same is also the import of the term RANSOM-" Justified through the redemption that is in Christ." Rom. iii. 24. "In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace." Ephes. i. 7. Having obtained eternal redemption for us." Heb. ix. 12. "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.” Gal. iii. 13. "Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things as silver and gold-but with the precious blood of Christ." 1 Pet. i. 18. "Thou hast redeemed us to God by thy blood." Rev. v. 9. "The Son of man came to give his life a ransom for many." Mat. xx. 28. "Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." 1 Tim. ii. 6. While we have such a warrant as is contained in these, and many similar passages, we shall never hesitate to illustrate the doctrine of atonement by the similitude of debtor and creditor; nor to speak confidently of the satisfaction of Christ. At the same time, we shall be careful not to push this similitude to an unlawful extreme, nor to represent the satisfaction of Christ as tallying in all respects, with that which is made in human transactions.
But all these illustrations, although borrowed directly from the volume of inspiration, appear to be thought improper by the writer on whom we remark; for from one of them, which virtually embraces the whole, he derives an argument which he deems subversive of our whole doctrine. Hear him: "Your neighbour becomes indebted to you in a large amount, which he is utterly unable to pay. You resort to legal coercion-institute a prosecution, and eventually lodge him in prison. A third person, actuated by benevolence, inquires into the affair-is touched with pity for the tenant of the jail—becomes his legal surety-pays the whole demand, and restores him to personal freedom. Now, we ask on what principle that man is permitted to cross the threshold of his prison? Must he come to your feet, and beg to be released; or may he boldly demand liberty on the principles of law? And when he again rejoices in the light of heaven, to whom shall he express his gratitude; to his benefactor who paid the debt, or to you who set him at liberty when the last jot and tittle of your demand was extinguished? It is manifest that you have no farther claim upon this man, because the debt is paid.-He has a legal right to a discharge; and on the score of gratitude he is indebted to that benefactor alone who cancelled the demand."*
This case the author adduces as parallel to that of the atonement, according to the views of his brethren whom he is opposing. We deny the fact. Let him find, in pecuniary transactions, if he can, a perfect parallel; and then he may push the comparison as far as he pleases, and we shall be ready to meet all the consequences. But this case is by no means parallel. Here it is supposed that the creditor has no agency in bringing forward the surety; and of course no gratitude is due him for the payment of the debt. But let us suppose the creditor to provide the surety, and to engage his own son to become responsible for the debt, and to consent to his being found in a state of humiliation, while procuring the means to enable him to make the payment; would not, we ask, the debtor be, in that case, under obligations of gratitude to his merciful creditor, and have reason to thank him for the recovery of his liberty? Surely Mr. B. has not yet to learn that the Father, who demands from sinners payment of the debt which they have contracted by violating his holy laws, is constantly exhibited by us as being so merciful that He provided the surety for our fallen race, and that he sent into the world his only begotten Son, in a state of the deepest humiliation, to pay the debt which we could never have extinguished!
*Beman, p. 39.