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the conditions of the gospel, on which the full and ultimate benfits of the atonement are proffered. We have remarked upon the unconditional benefits of the atonement merely for the purpose of illustration ; the main point on which this reply rests, is the fact that its full and final benefits are conditionally offered in the gospel. If this point can be sustained the objection vanishes. The question is, then, whether it be a part of the divine plan of human redemption, that the atonement should be so applied as to deliver sinners from all obligation, or whether it was intended to render the forgiveness and salvation of sinners consistent with the best interest of the moral system, on certain conditions to be complied with on the part of the sinner himself? If our opponents will prove that it was the intention of Jesus Christ, in dying for man, to deliver him from all obligation, satisfying the claims of the law fully and unconditionally, and that God has accepted the atonement in this full sense, without the reserve of a single condition to be complied with on the part of man, we shall then be obliged to yield to the force of the objection under consideration, and take ground with the high toned antinomian limitarians and deny that the atonement was made for all men ; or else, admitting the universality of the atonement, strike hands with the universalists and say that all will and must be saved. On the other hand, if we can prove that it was not the design of the Father in the gift of his Son to die for us, and that it was not the design of Jesus Christ in giving himself for us, to deliver us from all moral obligation, nor yet; that the benefits of the atonement should be unconditionally applied to us, in their full extent; that the atonement was never intended to deliver us from our ob.igation to obey God, but only from the penalty of the law after it has been transgressed, and from this only on certain conditions to be complied with on the part of the sinner himself: then, it must follow that the objection is unfounded, that the sinner is held responsible to the divine law though Christ has died as his substitute, and that he is liable to the divine penalty until he complies with the conditions of the gospel on which salvation is offered. To suppose to the contrary, after the above positions shall have been established, must be the same as to assert that the atonement must, of necessity, pro
duce an effect which was never intended by God in the gift of his Son, or by Jesus Christ in the offering of himself, which is vanity in the extreme. Must an atonement, if made, do more than its author intended it should ? If an atonement has been made, which God intended should save men from the penalty of a violated law, only on certain conditions, is it logical or theological to infer, that because such an atonement has been made, it must therefore save men from all obligation to obey the law, and from all liability to punishment, without reference to any conditions ? If God has given his Son to make an atonement, whereby we may be saved on certain conditions, is it just, true, or modest, for us to start up and assert that he must, therefore, save us irrespective of all conditions ? We see then, as we have already stated, that the question at issue must turn on the original intention of the atonement. If it was intended to deliver man from all moral obligation, and to save him, irrespective of his moral agency, then, the ground taken by our opponents on this point is tenable ; but if, as we maintain, the atonement was not intended by God to deliver men from their obligation to obey the law, nor yet to save them from the penalty of the law, only on certain conditions prescribed in the gospel, then, the objection falls, and our theory of conditional salvation steers clear of antinomian limitarianism on one hand, and licentious universalism on the other hand.
Having now, as we believe, fairly stated the question at issue, we will attempt to decide it by an appeal “ to the law and to the testimony."
John iii. 16. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him shoald not perish, but have everlasting life.” If the Saviour understood his own mission, this text must be conclusive in proof of a conditional application of the atonement. Indeed, we think it clearly asserts the doctrine of the atonement, while it guards it from abuse on either hand.
1. The text asserts that God was moved by love to the world, in the gift of his Son. Now as by the world, in this text, nothing can be meant less than the whole human family, the atonement is shown to be universal, in opposition to limitarianism.
2. As the object of this divine gift was the salvation of such only as believe; or in other words, as the design of God in giving his Son was to save men only through faith, salvation is proved to be conditional ; from which it appears that universal salvation does not necessarily follow from a universal atonement, as universalists assert. The expression, “ that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” clearly supposes that to perish is the opposite of everlasting life, so that they cannot both take effect in the same subject. It also supposes that the sinner
believe or that he may not; or that some sinners may believe and have everlasting life, and that others may not believe and perish. It is clear, then, that God did not intend that the atonement should deliver men from all moral obligation, or save them from the penalty of the law, so far as adult sinners are concerned, only on condition of faith in Jesus Christ, by whom the atonement was made; therefore, to urge such consequences as necessarily following from the doctrine of atonement is no less than an attempt to wrest the atonement from the simple object for which God intended it, and apply it to other purposes never contemplated by its divine author, and foreign to the divine plan of human redemption; and we think that an objection founded in such arrogance and profanity, as this is proved to be, may be dismised without further consideration.
III. It has been objected to the doctrine of atonement, that it excludes the benevolence of God from the plan of salvation; for, say objectors, if God required a full atonement, and if such atonement was made by Jesus Christ, then, justice must be satisfied and there can be no room for the exercise of benevolence on the part of the Father. To this we reply,
1. That God did not require an atonement through any want of love to his fallen creatures, but because it was inconsistent with his perfections, and the principles of his moral government, to save offenders without an atonement.
2. It being inconsistent with the perfections of God to save sinners without an atonement, as we have shown in our remarks on the necessity of an atonement, God's benevolence or love to his fallen creatures led him to devise the plan of
salvation through the gift of his Son, our atoning sacrifice; “ for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” We see then that the doctrine of atonement is so far from excluding the divine benevolence from the plan of human salvation, that the atonement itself is the brightest display of divine love that ever dazzled the the vision of angels or men.
We will now bring our remarks on the subject of atonement to a close. The vast importance of the subject, the deep personal interest growing out of the advantages already experienced, through faith in the atonement, by every experimental christian, in connection with our hopes for the future world, based alone on the merits of Christ's death, have led us on until we have extended our remarks beyond what we anticipated; and we hope the reader will find his patience supported from the same source, while he gives this chapter a thorough and candid perusal.
As christians we can never give up the atonement. What! renounce the atonement, which has already washed away
the guilt of sin and given us peace with God through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ—renounce the efficacy of the blood of the cross, the cleansing power of which we have already felt in our souls by blessed experience-renounce the atonement, trusting in which holy Martyrs shouted in the flames-renounce the atonement, which has dispelled the horrors of death and shed the light of eternity on the night of the grave renounce the atonement, while redeemed spirits which have already gained the blest shore, ascribe their salvation to the blood of the Lamb as they surround the throne with songs of deliverance, saying, "Unto him that loved us and hath washed us from our sins in his own blood, be glory and dominion forever and ever: thou art worthy for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood”—No, heaven forbid it! Holy Ghost inspire us, and the atonement shall be our rallying point forever.
Salvation from Punishment. After having established, as we believe, the doctrine of atonement, and shown that Christ's sufferings and death were a sacrifice for the sins of men, by which alone they can be saved; we propose in this chapter to enquire more particularly into the nature of salvation itself, by showing that gospel salvation implies a deliverance from the punishment we de
On reverting to the remarks with which we prefaced the preceding chapter, it can hardly be necessary to observe that universalists generally deny that the gospel proposes salvation from the punishment of sin after it is committed. Indeed, such a position appears to be essential to their theory, for as it is so easily proved that some men will be punished according to the demerit of their crimes, they have no way to evade the force of the argument drawn from thence, in favour of endless punishment, only to admit the premises and maintain that punishment, to the extent of the divine penalty, is consistent with the final holiness and happiness of all men. This has a very important bearing on the subject; for if, as universalists assert, every sinner is punished to the extent of his desert, it must follow that sin does not deserve endless punishment, or else that all must be endlessly punished, “ for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Now, as no one will contend that all men must be lost without the possibility of being saved, it must follow that the Gospel provides for the remission of just punishment, or else, that sin does not deserve endless punishment. · If we can show that gospel salvation implies deliverance from the punishment due to sin, it will follow that such as are punished to the extent of the divine penalty, cannot enjoy gospel salvation and consequently must be forever lost. On the other band, if our opponents can prove that the gospel offers no release from the punishment due to sin, which is actually committed, but on the contrary, that every sinner must suffer all he deserves, we shall be constrained to admit that the