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himself "a just God, and a Saviour.” Is. xlv. 21. Hence justice and mercy harmonize in man's salvation.
From the preceding statement of the nature of grace and justice, it appears,
First, That atonement, and consequently the pardon of sin, have no respect to commutative justice.
Secondly, That the sufferings of Christ did not satisfy distributive justice, since that respects personal character only; and therefore, with respect to distributive justice, salvation is an act of perfect grace.
Thirdly, That Christ's sufferings satisfied public justice; and therefore, with respect to public justice, salvation is an act of perfect justice.
Thus the seeming inconsistency between full atonement for sin, and pure grace in salvation, vanishes and disappears. The system of redemption rises into view. like a magnificent edifice, displaying the greatest order, proportion and beauty.
Having advanced what I proposed, respecting the matter, the necessity and the nature of atonement, I shall conclude with a few inferences.
1. From the preceding discourse may be inferred, the indissoluble connection between the doctrine of atonement and the divinity of Christ. For it has been demonstrated, that the penalty of the law is endless misery, and that that penalty was, in its full extent and meaning, endured by Christ, in order to a consistent exercise of mercy. No finite created being could, in a limited time, endure the full penalty of the law in any respect. Yet we are assured, that Christ endured it when "he was made a curse." As he comprised in his divine nature an infinite quantity of existence, he could in a limited time endure a punishment which to a creature would be endless. This does not imply
that the divine nature suffered. This was impossible. In this nature consisted the personality of Christ. As he took into union with it the human nature, he possessed a perfect consciousness of the oneness of that nature with himself. Hence the sufferings of the human nature derive all their worth and value from the divine nature. The divinity of Christ, therefore, was essential to atonement, and was the only consideration that made his sufferings answer all the ends of moral government, so as to render the salvation of sinners consistent or possible. It is unreasonable to suppose, that the Son of God would have been sent to effect the work of redemption, if it could have been effected by a mere creature; yet we are assured, that the "word that was God" "was made flesh." Hence, those who entertain such an opinion of the law of God, and the moral state of man, as to see no need of atonement, reject the divinity of Christ. But so long as atonement shall appear necessary, so long the doctrine of Christ's divinity must be admitted, and so long it will appear essential to christianity.
2. From the preceding statement of the doctrine of atonement, we infer the erroneousness of that scheme of salvation which represents Christ suffering on the ground of distributive justice. If justice could demand his sufferings, he was treated according to his own personal character, and of consequence his sufferings had no more merit than the sufferings of a transgressor. If these were just, in the same sense that those of the sinner would be just, he endured no more than he ought to endure. His death, therefore, on this plan, made no atonement for sin. Besides, to represent Christ's sufferings to be the same as those of his people, is to destroy all grace in salvation. For if in him they have endured all to which they were
exposed, from what are they delivered? In what respect are they forgiven?
3. If the preceding account of the law of God and the doctrine of atonement be true, we infer the erroneousness and absurdity of that scheme, which repre-sents the punishments of a future state to be disciplinary, and designed wholly for the good of the sufferers. According to the scriptures, there is an exact distribution of punishments in the next world. Those who suffer are represented "receiving according to that they have done," "being rewarded according to their deeds." If so, they are treated according to law. For as this is the true measure of holiness and sin, this alone ascertains the merit and demerit of all actions, and dispenses proportionable rewards and punishments. If those therefore in a future state who suffer, suffer according to their deeds, they suffer according to law. If they suffer according to law, they suffer according to justice, and consequently all they deserve, and all to which they were ever exposed.How then are they saved? It is contended that they are saved by grace. How can this be? If they suffer according to their deeds, they suffer all that justice can inflict upon them, and consequently are not pardoned. If they suffer all they deserve, there is no grace in their exemption from farther suffering, for justice forbids this. Therefore this scheme of disciplinary punishments, while it pretends to vindicate grace, destroys it. If men are saved after they have suffered according to their deeds, as they are not forgiven, they are not saved by Christ, any more than if he had never died. Of consequence, the scheme of disciplinary punishments virtually sets aside the necessity and importance of Christ's sufferings. But revelation assures us, that "other foundation can no man lay than
that is laid, which is Jesus Christ,” 1 Cor. iii. 11.— "Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved," Acts iv. 12.
4. From the nature of atonement, nothing can with certainty be inferred as to the numbers who shall finally be saved. Had God given us no further light on this subject than what we derive from the sufferings of Christ, whether we consider them for a part or for all of mankind, we should have been wholly in the dark as to the final issue of those sufferings. As the nature and design of these were to render the pardon of sin consistent, it appears that the atonement is as sufficient for the salvation of millions of worlds, as of an individual. For whatever would render one act of pardon consistent, simply as to the exercise of mercy, would render another consistent, and so on in infinitum. The number of instances in which atonement will be applied, and pardon granted, will depend wholly on the sovereign will and determination of God.One thing is doubtless certain, salvation will be extended as far as is consistent with infinite perfect benevolence, or as far as the glory of God and the highest good of the universe require.
I now conclude this subject, by recommending it to your most serious and careful attention. You will find it to be the only ground on which you can hope for future felicity. Atonement for sin is a peculiar and distinguishing doctrine of the christian system. Viewed as the scriptures represent it, it appears as high above all human thought and invention, as heaven is above earth. Upon a thorough examination it will be found consistent with the soundest reason, suited to advance the happiness of man, and to display the glory of GOD.
(From the Connecticut Evangelical Magazine.)
How are the invitations and calls to sinners, with
which the scriptures abound, and the solemn declarations, that God hath no pleasure in the death of sinners, but that they would turn and live, reconcilable with their being left of God to go on in sin and perish? Or, in other words, if God be as desirous of the return and salvation of sinners, as those strong expressions, particularly in Ezekiel, xxxiii. 11. intimate; what reasons are there assignable, why he, in whose hand all hearts are, and for whom nothing is too hard, with whom nothing is impossible, doth not convert them to himself, provided the atonement be infinitely full?
THE enquiries here proposed, are in themselves interesting and important-are such as often arise in reflecting minds, and are nearly connected with some of the important and essential doctrines of the gospeldoctrines, which concern the glory of God, and eternal happiness of mankind. The subject therefore is worthy of a very serious and careful attention.