« PreviousContinue »
vation. 6 God will by no means clear the guilty," on the ground of their own works. Accordingly, sinners are said to be in a lost state. Christ came to seek and to save those who are lost. When man had fallen under the curse, there was but one alternative, either an infinite sacrifice, must be offered, or else eternal death must be the portion of all mankind. Thus we see, that redemption by Christ's blood was absolutely necessary to the salvation of sinners.
4. Great as the work of redemption is, and all-sufticient as the atonement is ; yet these afford no security for the salvation of a single sinner. What could the atonement avail a guilty world, were no man found willing to receive it? Superficial minds infer, from the sufficiency of the atonement, that all men will be saved. With as much propriety it might be said, that the atone, ment is sufficient to rid this world of evils; therefore this world will be rid of evils. Or that the atonement is, sufficient for the salvation of the devils, therefore the devils will be saved. But the fact is, “ The whole crea. tion groans and travails in pain together until now.” The dreadful consequences of the apostacy are not removed ; and mankind are not saved, by the mere sufferings of Christ. The atonement, in itself considered, saves no man from his sins; and no man can be saved in his sins. Of course, the salvation of no man is secured by the atonement,
By the blood of Christ, the law of God is vindicated, and is most powerfully enforced. Of course, the certainty of the damnation of all the impenitent is estabJished. The work of redemption, instead of leading us presumptuously to hope for salvation, at all events, should alarm us with a sense of sin and danger. For as great as the atonement is, so great is our guilt; and if we continue in sin, so great will be our final condemnation. How extremely hazardous is it, therefore, to per. severe in sin, hoping for salvation, on the ground of full rederaption, by the atoning blood of Jesus Christ! This is a groundless and fallacious hope.
5. From this discussion of the doctrine of redemption, and from the scriptures in general on this subject, we learn, that all mankind are equally the subjects of redemption, though not of salvation, by the blood of Christ. Not that any but the elect are the
subjects of redemption, in the most extensive sense, in which some use the word redemption. None but the elect are actually redeemed from the bondage of sin and death, and actually brought home to God, by faith in Jesus Christ. But this is not the sense in which the word redemption, ought to be used. For it is blending the doctrines of redemption and regeneration together.
The redemption, which has been under consideration, and which is effected by the atoning blood of Jesus Christ, is doubtless as extensive as the atonement itself; and is, in fact, a universal redemption. The ransom is fully paid for all men ; and all are equally invited to participate in its benefits. Christ is said to have given himself a ransom for all. 66 And he is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world.” 66 Christ died for all;" and hereby proved, not that all should be saved; but that all were dead. 66 And he died for all, that they who live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him that,died for them and rose again." All the instruction given us in the holy scriptures, on the subject of redemption, conveys the idea, that the ransom is paid for all. The prison doors are open to all ! and on this ground, all are invited to come forth out of their spiritual bondage, into the glorious liberty of the children of God. Thus an ample foundation is laid for the actual salvation of all mankind, would they but only humble themselves, and heartily comply with the precious offers and invitations of the gospel. These, without reserve, are addressed to all men. one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters ; and he that hath no money; come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk, withont money, and without price." The money and the price are already paid ; paid in advance, and paid gratuitously. . “ Incline your ear, therefore, and come ; hear, and your soul shall live.”
66 And the
6 Ho! every
spirit, and the bride say, come.” All mankind, both bad and good, if they ever come within the hearing of the gospel, are invited to the marriage feast. Surely these invitations and promises do not at all comport with the doctrine of a limited atonement, and limited redemption. The invitations and promises are evidently addressed both to the elect, and to the non-elect. They were addressed to the Jews, when it was evident that many
of them were of the non-elect; and to the Gentiles universally. Nor is there a word in the holy scriptures, expressing the idea of a limited atonement, limited redemption, or limited offers, invitations, or promises. By the great plan of redemption, the door of mercy is set open equally, to all mankind. Not that any man, saint or sinner, has the least claim of divine favor, as a matter of justice, or a reward of merit. He can claim no part of Christ's righteousness, to support a plea in his own favor. For the righteousness of Christ is not transferable to another. All his hope is in the infinite merit of the blood of Christ ; and in the riches of divine grace.
6. From the view which we have taken of the doctrine of redemption, it is evident that it is effected, not by the obedience, but by the sufferings of Christ. All the expressions of the atonement, which have been noticed in the discussion of the doctrine hefore us, are expressions of suffering, rather than of obedience; and it has clearly appeared, that sufferings correspond with the curse of the law; and are necessary to the proper execution of the curse, or penalty of the law. It was by suffering on the cross, and not by obedience to the moral law, that Christ bare our sins in his own body on the tree ; died for the ungodly, suffered for us, was made sin for us ; was wounded for our transgressions ; redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.
Besides ; It is to be noticed distinctly, that in the redemption of sinners, by the blood of Christ, there is an infinite sacrifice for sin. Christ is said to have made his soul an offering for sin; and to have put away sin, by the sacrifice of himself. « Christ our passover is sacri. kiced for us.” But is there any sacrifice in mere acts of
obedience ? Is not obedience to God the supreme delight of all rational creatures, who are, as Christ was, in a state of perfect holiness ? surely, there must be something more humiliating, and more arduous, than mere obedience to the moral law of God, to constitute an atonement for sin, and to deliver us from the curse of a broken law.
We may observe further, as an evidence, that the atonement is effected, not by the obedience, but by the sufferings of Christ ; that all the types of the atonement, under the old testament dispensation, consisted in bloody sacrifices, and offerings for sin : “And without shedding of blood, there is no remission.” The paschal lamb, a type
of the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world, was to be slain and roasted and eaten; and as a special type of the manner of Christ's death, not a bone was to be broken. And it is said, that the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burnt without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate."" The typical priesthood, and every thing typical of Christ, in the Mosaic system, lead us to consider the atonement, as consisting, wholly, in the sufferings and death of Christ.
The obedience of Christ, in his human nature, was indeed perfect. “ He was holy, harmless, undefiled.” Had he not been obedient, he could never have been disposed to lay down his life for us ; neither would his death have been at all meritorious. It is said he became obedi. ent unto death, even the death of the cross.
His death was doubtless voluntary, and to this he became obedient, because, in this consisted the atonement.
Such is the doctrine of redemption; a doctrine which angels, as well as men, may justly admire and celebrate. It is a glorious manifestation of the love and mercy of the sacred Trinity.
And now unto the Three that bear record in heaven, be honor and glory, thanksgiving and praise forever..... AMEN.
HAVING found, by attending to the glorious doctrine of redemption, that an infinite atonement is made for the sins of the whole world, by the sufferings and death of the Son of God ; and that the offers and invitations of the gospel are freely presented to all men; it might seem reasonable to expect, that perishing sinners would flock to the standard of the cross; and that, as far as the name and work of the Redeemer should be known, they would readily accede to his gracious proposals. But alas! “ All with one consent begin to make excuse.”
No sinner is found willing to comply with the most gracious terms of salvation.
Sinners are not only invited and intreated; but they are most solemnly commanded, on pain of an aggravated damnation, to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and it is declared, that “he that believeth not, is condemned already ;" and that the wrath of God abideth on him." But invitations, promises and threatenings are found to be altogether ineffectual. Said Christ to sinners, “ Ye will not come unto me, that ye might have life.”
Do any enquire how this can possibly be the case ? let them only recollect what has been said in some of the foregoing Essays, on the subjects of human depravity, and original sin. In the discussion of these subjects, we have found abundant evidence of the total sinfulness, and native depravity of the whole human race. This being the character of fallen man, it is rational to conclude, that no one, in a state of nature, can be disposed to embrace the offers of salvation by the divine Redeemer. Since all men have, from their nativity, a carnal mind, which is enmity against God, and which is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be ; how can they yield submission, or even feel reconciled to that plan of redemption, by which the law, that they hate and oppose, is magnified and made honorable! It