Page images

make reconciliation for the sins of the people:" . what occasion was there for that, if man were the only party to be appeased? And again where it is said — By whom we have now received the atonement;'* if in. stead of “ atonement,” we say “reconciliation," which is a stricter translation; it is difficult to show how we receive reconciliation, if we and not God are the party to be reconciled.

The above are some of the many authorities which might be produced; and are interpreted on the other side as meaning no more, than that the death of Christ was in attestation of the truth of his mission and of his doctrine; but according to the estimation of the Church throughout the world and in all ages, teach a propitiatory sacrifice for sin, in the strict sense of the terms. And as to the alleged inconsistency of the doctrine with the essential goodness of the divine nature; the same argyment, if it were correct, would hold equally well against what we read concerning the mediation and the intercession of the Redeemer. And yet these find a place in the opposing theory; while the rationality of it is supposed to be too sublimated, to admit the doc, trine here pleaded for. Between this, however, and the mediation and the intercession of the Redeemer, there is such an alliance, that all the texts in favour of these might have been produced in favour of the other. But the less is said of scriptural evidence in this place, as it will be again necessary to refer to that point under the fourth section.

As on the kindred subject of the Divinity, it will be to the purpose to refer to the sense of some of the ear. liest writers of the Church, in evidence of the doctrine here maintained; because this, like the other, is brand. ed as a corruption of Christianity, engrafted on the system after a considerable lapse of time.

The same Clement who was quoted in the first sec. tion, considers Rahabt as professing faith—"that by the blood of our Lord, there should be redemption to all that believe and hope in God.” * Rom. v, 11,

Chap. 12,

The epistle ascribed to St. Barnabas, is admitted by the best criticks to have been his, and is cited by some of the fathers, who were judges of its traditionary repu. tation in their times. That companion of the twelve apostles, and bearing the name of an apostle himself in the New Testament, expresses himself at considerable length concerning the offering of Isaac and the appointment of the he-goat, which he considers as types of Jesus, who was to suffer for us.

St. Ignatius, in the superscription of his Epistle to the Ephesians, addresses that Church as “united and chosen through the true passion, according to the will of the Father, and Jesus Christ our God." And in the superscription of his Epistle to the Trallians, he acknowledges them as “having peace through the flesh and blood and passion of Jesus Christ our hope.”

Justin Martyr, in his Dialogue, * says of the sacri. fice of Christ--"This oblation was made for all who should be willing to be partakers of it by penitence:” And this is said, after the Father's speaking of the same oblation, as prefigured in that of the he-goat. In another place,t he holds out as the true expiation for sin, the blood of Christ; in contradistinction to the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of an heifer, which he considers as prefiguring the other. In the Apology of this martyr, there are passages to the same effect.

Tertulliant refers to the same subject of the two goats, affirming the latter of them to be a representation of the passion of the Lord.

There is no need to descend to later times; because the deniers of the doctrine suppose it to have been introduced before the end of the second century.

• Page 219, Thirlby. | Page 160. Adv. Marcion, lib.



The word “ gospel” signifies “ good tidings:” agreeably to which, it is also announced as “glad tidings of great joy to all people.”* Accordingly, when it is said to have been preached to every crea. ture under heaven;" it must have been preached to all as a subject, which ought to be perceived to offer a benefit to all. But accordir.g to the opposite theory, it was not such to the mass of them: or rather, it was a mean of aggravating their condemnation. These are circumstances, which ought to bear down all systems deduced from curious reasonings concerning the nature and the ways of God; and even make us suspicious of our constructions of passages of scripture, when representing them in contrariety to the principal design of it.

There are passages, which directly affirm the uni. yersality of the benefit of the death of Christ: as “The bread which I will give is my fesh, which I will give for the life of the world:""He" (Christ] “is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world:”) “Who gave him. self a ransom for all:"| And St. Peter introduces cer. tain heretical teachers, “ denying the Lord that bought them,” and yet " bringing on themselves swift destruction ”T The following passages also are particularly worthy of attention-John iii. 16... 1 Cor. viii. 11; xv. 22....] Tim. ii. 4; iv. 10.-.. Tit. ii. 11, taken according to the marginal reading,

With the above, there may be mentioned from the Old Testament... Deut. xi. 26.-Fzek. xviii. 32; xxxiii. 31; and both from the Old Testament and the New, all texts of general invitation, and those of expos

•Luke ij. 10. + Col. j. 23. John vi, 51, § 1 John ii, 2 lll 1 Tim. ii. 6. 12 ii, 1,

[ocr errors]

tulation, such as Matt. xi. 28.-Micah. vi. 3.-Is. i. 18.-John, v. 40.- Matt. xxiii. 37. But to enumerate all of this description, would be tedious. The passages which speak of the strivings of the Holy Spirit of God in the human heart, are to the same effect.

Such are the scriptural authorities, on which the Church, in her Catechism, grounds her doctrine; when she puts in the mouth of her catecumens concerning God the Son—“ Who redeemed me and all mankind:” and thus, while she holds redemp. tion to be of grace only; she ascribes its inefficiency, where this is found, to perverse rejection of the benefit.

It would be to little purpose, to cite authorities from the very early fathers, in proof of the univer. sality of Christ's redemption; because a partiality of redemption not being in their days affirmed by any, the subject is usually expressed in the same general terms with those in the Scriptures, which are interpreted on the other side by the principle all sorts of men, and the like. But there is some. thing worthy of remark, in the shape in which the contrary sentiment began to show itself, in the latter end of the fourth and the beginning of the fifth century. On St. Austin's publishing of some no. velties concerning election, his opinions gave offence to many eminently religious persons in the south of Gaul. They opposed him vigorously; and his principal defender in that country, was a learned and pious layman, known in the Roman calendar by the name of St. Prosper. It had been made one of the objections to the theory of Austin, that according to it, “ our Lord Jesus Christ did not die for the salvation and redemption of all mankind.” That he did so die, was assumed as a point, not de. nied by any: and the errour of the theory in ques. tion, was thought an unavoidable inference. On the other side, Prosper did not venture to deny the received doctrine of the universality of redemption,

but essayed the difficult task of reconciling it with the opinion of his favourite doctor. He showed the same treatment to other inferences drawn from it, and depending on the same principle.

On this point, the inquiry should be not only into the sense of scripture, but into that of the Episcopal Church. For although this seems sufficiently clear in the terms of the Catechism-" Who redeemed me and all mankind;" yet some have affirmed the Church to be in a system, directly opposite to the obvious sense of the position.

The Article of the Thirty-nine the most to the purpose, is the Thirty-first; which says—" The offering of Christ once made, is that perfect redemption, propitiation and satisfaction for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual.” The confessions and the systems alien from the senti. ment here sustained, use expressions denoting, that the said offering of Christ was for a part only of mankind.

The Seventeenth Article, entitled “ Of Predestination and Election,” has been set up as containing the contrary doctrine. Now it is a reasonable maxim, that in the interpreting of an instrument, where one part throws light on another, advantage should be taken of that circumstance. In relation to the Seventeenth Article, it is worthy of notice, that when theological systems and writers, going beyond the obvious use of the terms “ Predestination” and “ Election,” as occurring in the New Testament—which apply to the divine design of a covenant state common to Jewish and to Gentile converts treat of the same subject as existing eternally in the mind of God, relatively to the conditions of individuals in a future state; there is a material point of difference among those systems and those authors. Some of them define predestination to life, to be founded on the foresight of faith and works: while others of them deem it to be independent on that circumstance, and to be

« PreviousContinue »