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bility of Christ's righteousness depends on his representative character-that is, his righteousness is meritorious of human salvation, and capable of being imputed to men, because he represented them in the covenant of grace. Adopting this idea, let us try whither, in conjunction with undoubted truths, it will carry us and let us mark every step of our progress.
1. Eternal salvation, or in other words, the righteousness of Jesus Christ, the procuring cause of that salvation, is offered to all mankind by God himself in the gospel.
2. Therefore the righteousness of Jesus Christ is meritorious of the salvation of all mankind, and is capable of being imputed to every one of them.
3. But the righteousness of Jesus is meritorious and imputable to men, because he is their representative.
4. Therefore Jesus Christ represented all mankind, and every man of them, in the covenant of grace.
5. Consequently all mankind and every man, will eventually be saved. Though worlds should perish, though ages of torment should hold on their incalculable round, though system should succeed to system, till the human imagination becomes incapable of grasping the vast idea-still the son of God will conduct to glory all that he represented.
Here then we have the system of the redemptional universalists. The deistical universalists are a different breed, and closely allied to the family of atheists.
The reader is requested to put the above train of argument to the severest test. Let it be tortured, to confess if it has a single secret error about it; with the
exception of the third step, which I have put in italic, merely to mark it as suspicious, for even the guilty shall not be condemned till the jury are satisfied with evidence, and agreed to a man in their verdict. But admitting this step to be legitimate, I pronounce the whole system invulnerable.
1. Eternal life is offered to all men by God, and they are commanded by God to accept it.
2. It is therefore equally capable of becoming the property of all.
3. But the reason Jesus can impart life to all, is because he gave his life for all, or represented all men, in the covenant of grace.
4. Therefore Jesus Christ made a universal atonement for all mankind.
5. But as it is impossible to imagine that he should atone for the sins of all men, and withhold from some of them the grace requisite to make the atonement profitable; universal grace is given to all men to be saved by the atonement.
6. And as some men are saved and others not, it follows, that those who are saved, are not saved by the atonement of Jesus Christ, nor by the grace originally given them; for these were equally the possession of those who are not saved; consequently they who are saved must be saved by their own personal faith and righteousness, which are the only circumstances in which they differ from the others.
7. Therefore Jesus Christ did not save men; but placed them in a saveable state; and by his universal
redemption and universal grace, put them in a condition to save themselves.
8. Since the atonement and grace are universal, and some believe and others do not believe, it follows that the grace is not necessarily efficacious; and since no other cause can be assigned of its efficacy in any, we must ascribe it to the free-will of man.
9. And since the grace of the Lord Jesus is not necessarily efficacious, on this free-will, it follows that a saint's standing in grace is not infallibly secured, he may therefore fall away and be lost.
This is the Arminian system; and let the reader be conjured to put it to the torture, and try its metal. With the exception of the third step, now become doubly suspicious, I do believe that it will stand the most rigorous investigation that can be given. I can only speak for myself, and must say this system appears to me, with the single exception mentioned, to be one of the most gigantic efforts of human genius. Neither St. Paul's at London, nor St. Peter's at Rome, nor any other basilic, ancient or modern, exhibits such grandeur of design, such proportion of parts, such powerful combinations, such totality, as this system. I do not believe the system to be true; and therefore I wonder at it the more; what painful researches ; what troublesome objections; what searching of the Scriptures; what textual difficulties; what verbal niceties; and yet after all the structure is finished off, and covered in with so bold and awful a dome, that we gaze with wonder and with terror, and ask if the architect was a man! But wonder at what we may, it is no wonder at all that the heads which put this system together should hitherto have double distanced all competitors on the field of moral science. I speak of it
merely as a system; it is possible to better it all around with texts of Scripture; but if its elemental principles be granted, it will be impossible to find a flaw in the the arguments.
Let us advert to one curious circumstance, which shows the struggle of sound faith with false philosophy. The Arminian has often been puzzled with the question, why, seeing you maintain universal atonement and universal grace, do you not also admit universal salvation? And he certainly would have, according to fair reasoning, to have admitted universal salvation, had not his faith hedged him in. He saw in the Scriptures that all men will not be saved; and admitting this among his elemental truths; he had to part with the redemptional universalist. His task became more difficult; but his system became grander, and more complex.
1. The offer of everlasting life is made to all men in the gospel.
2. Jesus Christ specifically atoned for the elect; or represented the elect alone in the covenant of grace.
3. But this atonement, or its imputability, depended on his representative character.
4. Now since he specifically died for the elect, and is proclaimed a Saviour to the non-elect, it follows that he must in some sense have died for all men.
What that some sense is we are not told; but it would seem that he did not die for the non-elect in the same sense in which he died for the elect.
This doctrine I have read in a book written by a
New England divine, who had the honour of representing his country in the congress of the United States. The same doctrine may be found in the writings and speeches of others; but I cannot name any party or denomination who have made it their badge and shibboleth.
1. The gospel offers righteousness and life to all men, by Jesus Christ.
2. Therefore men indefinitely have a right to accept this atonement.
3. But the imputability of that atonement depends on his representation.
4. Consequently Jesus Christ died not for all mennor for any man in particular, but for men indefinitely. With respect to this system of indefinite atonement, I mean to say only this much, that it has this singular merit, honour, and glory, beyond all the other systems that ever were in this world, that it is built up without the expense of one single idea, good or bad.
Is it any wonder that the human understanding, after finding itself tantalized with a vocabulary of sounds, about an atonement made for those who were not intended to be saved by it—and made in some sense for all men-about an indefinite atonement, made for every man, and for no man-Should turn away with disgust from sounds which neither profit the head nor the heart, nor fit a man for either this life or the next; and give up the atonement altogether. There is no mystery respecting the cause of the increase of Socinianism, it is only ceasing to use a word, that has long lost its meaning.