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savouring of heresy, maintains that On page 536 of the Spectator, no man is physically capable of obe- near the bottom, from the Sermons: dience to the claims of God, and “ The apostle Paul, when speaking that the atonement of Christ is re- of the atoning sacrifice of Christ, stricted to a chosen few.
observes, “Whom God hath set From the contrast exhibited of forth, to be a propitiation through the two systems, and the phraseol- faith in his blood, to declare his ogy employed by the reviewer, I righteousness for the remission of presume we may justly infer, that, sins that are past. To declare, I in his opinion, the ultra evangelical say at this time his righteousness, doctrines are, to say the least, un- that he might be just and the jusscriptural, and actually impute to tifier of him which believeth in Je. the moral administration of God sus.” On the same page, from the something unequal and unjust. As Sermons: “ We learn, not only, some of the propositions or state from the passage to the Romans ments in the selections from the noticed above, but also froin various Sermons, and in the remarks upon other portions of the Bible, that the them, seem to me alike objectiona- benefits of the atonement are sure ble, not to say, heretical, I will only to him “ that believeth in Jethank the reviewer to appear once sus.” But if the benefits of the more in the Spectator, and explain atonement can then only be enjoyed or harmonize the following senti- by creatures, as they believe, it is ments.
very evident that it enters into no Before I present the passages al- part of its nature, to secure the luded to, permit me to observe that salvation of a single individual, and I have not seen the Sermons in exmuch less then, can it have had for tenso, but only so much of them as its exclusive end, a select and parappears in connexion with the re- ticular number. Its efficacy, in view.
rendering the salvation of any one On page 534 of the Christian of the human family secure, lies in Spectator, we have from the Ser the sovereign and glorious purpose, mons, as follows: “ The ability of and will of God.” Same paragraph, sinners, as well as their obligation, a little further on. “It is then to repent, appears from the fact, the electing sovereignty of God, by that God has commanded them to which the benefits of the atonement repent. The command presupposes are rendered effectual to salvation an ability, that constitutes the basis in any case: But for this all powof obligation ; for it is a dictate of erful and gracious interposition, the common sense, that no one can be death of Christ notwithstanding, not to blame for not doing, what he is one of the human family would ever in no sense able to do.” To pro- have been saved." ceed a little in the same paragraph. Page 537, at the top, from the -" We must conclude, therefore, Sermons : “ Christ has died. He since God has commanded men to is offered to all men. All refuse repent, and has threatened them to embrace him. God interposes, with his sore displeasure, if they do by his gracious electing sovereignty, not repent, either that they are able and delivers all whom it is his good to repent, and thence, are both pleasure to save.” Same page, near formally, and actually, guilty for not the top : “ This view of atonement, repenting; or, we must adopt the not only, vindicates the sincerity of only alternative, and implicate the God, in inviting all men to come to rectitude of the Divine Being, in re- Christ, that they may be saved, but quiring of his creatures, under the also, leaves the sinner who rejects most tremendous sanctions, the do- the offered salvation without ex ing of impossibilities."
Vol. I.-No. VI.
I could add one or two extracts cy, when he is never to feel on his more, on the subject of “man's heart the influence, the smallest inphysical power to obey God,” his fluence, of that matchless grace. want of inclination to do so, and without which all besides is unavailthe “means by which God makes ing? Does not this system as effechis people willing, and thus distin- tually and necessarily consign him guishes them froin those sinners, to perdition as if God had from who persist in rejecting Christ ;" eternity fixed his doom by an unbut I judge the citations already conditional and unalterable decree? made are sufficient to present a fair In our opinion, to speak of another and rather continuous view of the school, although it may not accord doctrines taught in so much of Mr. exactly with the theology of what is Lansing's Sermons as the reviewer commonly called the New England has selected for the subject of his school, the system would be much remarks.— The system now before more evangelical, did it maintain, us is the following : that man by the that, with the provision of atonefall has not lost the physical power, ment for sin, the Holy Spirit knocks but only the inclination, to obey at every human heart, operates in God ; that, by reason of his physi- convincing the world of sin, of rightcal power, he is justly commanded cousness, and a judgment to come, in the gospel to repent ; that an and that the guilt of final impeni. aionement for sin has been made tence, is, not the neglect of an imaby Christ in behalf of all men ; that, gined ability, which never did, and by virtue of the atonement, free never can, do any thing towards the pardon is tendered to everyone salvation of man, but a criminal and that “ believeth in Jesus ;" that, ungrateful despite to the Spirit of hence,' God is just, and all men, Grace. while impenitent and unbelieving, The reviewer intimates harsh are guilty and inexcusable; and yet, things of the ultra evangelical sys" that the offiary of the atonement, tem, as that, when carried out into in renciering the salvation of any its extreme results, it is the most one of the human family secure, lies dangerous and deadly of all herein the sovereign and glorious pur- sies, &c. Now, so far as the equipose, and irill of God. But for this ty of God's moral government, and all powerful and gracious interposi- his goodness also, is concerned, I tion, the death of Christ notwith- cannot, for my part, distinguish bestanding, not one of the human fam- tween the bearings of the two sysily would ever have been sured."- tems. What is the difference in This system is pronounced evangel- point of justice, between restricting ical. In the main, or in many fea- the benefits of the atonement of tures of it, I readily admit it to be Christ, originally and prospectively, so, but in one or more members vi- to a chosen few, and--after it has tally important, it is distressingly been proclaimed with a voice from encumbered, and thereby rendered heaven, that the atonement was in itself exceedingly inharmonious made for all-still restricting its and conflicting.
benefits, physical power and the Mr. Lansing and the reviewer death of Christ notwithstanding, to talk of physical ability, unlimited a chosen few, whom only it is the offers of mercy, matchless grace in gracious purpose of God, by his electing love. I ask, was ever a electing sovereignty, to save ? sinner brought to Christ, to repen. Will the reviewer—if he cannot, tance and salvation, by the exercise will Mr. Lansing, be so good as to of his physical ability ? What mean split this hair ? I confess I cannot. then to himn unlimited offers of mer
REPLY TO LIgerbürsgo5. be rejected, by a complete moral
agent, cannot affect the propriety of II PETCúregos asks, “ Was ever a making it, so far as this propriety sinner brought to Christ, to repent depends on the powers of the agent. ance and salvation, by the exercise Whether it be consistent with God's of his physical ability ?” We an- moral perfection, to make offers of swer--for ourselves, not for Dr. mercy to such agents which he Lansing--certainly ; never was a knows beforehand they will reject, sinner brought to Christ in any oth- is entirely another question from er way than in the exercise of his that which respects their ability to physical ability. His coming to accept of these offers; and that Christ, his repenting, is as truly question 18:06ÚTepos may answer for an operation of the moral powers himself on his own principles. which he has possessed all his days, Ile asks again, “Does not this as any other act of his life. Dr. system as effectually and necessaLansing* expressly guar is against rily consign him to perdition as if any 1 is 'onstruction on this point, God bad from eternity fixed his by dec arnt that wla over may be doom by an unconditional and unthe operation of the holy Spirit on alterable decree?” We answer, the mind of the peniteni, it is not The sinner's perverseness of heart such as in any wise to increase or will indeed, (not by physical necesimpair his moral freedon.
sity,) without the interposition of He asks next, “ What mean then grace, result in perdition. Still, if to him unlimited offers of mercy, he is lost, he consigned himself to when he is never to feel on his perdition, in the exercise of his volheart the influence, the smallest in- untary agency, choosing to do evil, fluence of that matchless grace, and refusing to do well. without which all besides is una. He goes on to say, “ In our opinvailing ?” We answer, These un- ion, to speak of another school, allimited offers of mercy mean all though it may not accord exactly that the language can mean--quite with the theology of what is comas much, surely, as the language monly called the New England means in the system which our cor. sehool, the system would be much respondent, if we understand him, more evangelical, did it maintain, has embraced. They mean that the that, with the provision of atonesalvation of the sinner depends on ment for sin, the Holy Spirit knocks the question whether he will be re- at every human heart, operates in conciled to God--a question which convincing the world of sin, of he must and will decide for him- righteousness, and a judgment to self in the exercise of his physical come, and that the guilt of final imability. God sincerely wills the penitence, is, not the neglect of an acceptance of these offers on the imagined ability, which never did, part of the sinner. The sinner is a and never can, do any thing towards complete moral agent, and as such, the salvation of man, but a criminal in every respect qualified to accept and ungrateful despite to the Spirit of these offers, and, therefore, of Grace." We reply, The sys. whether there be or be not, any tem which we hold, and we are not superadded influence of grace, the prepared to ascribe any other sysquestion of his salvation is fairly tem to Dr. Lansing, does "mainpresented to his decision. The tain that with the provision of atonemere certainty that a fair osser will ment for sin, the Holy Spirit knocks
at every human heart, operates in *Sce Lansing's Sermons, p. 60. Ch. convincing the world of sin, of rightSpectator, 1826. p. 538.
eousness, and a judgment to come, and that the guilt of final impeni- prospectively to a chosen few, and tence is, not the neglect of an -after it has been proclaimed with “ imagined ability,” but the neg- a voice from heaven, that the atonelect of a real ability to repent and ment was made for all-still reobey, in the exercise of which the stricting its benefits," the knocking sinner might have wrought out his of the Holy Spirit, “and the death own salvation, and “ a criminal and of Christ notwithstanding, to ao ungrateful despite to the Spirit of " few” who alone are made at last Grace.” II PETEÚTegos speaks of an the subjects of salvation ? This " imagined ability." We know not question surely it is not difficult to what he means. If he means to answer. The difference, if there deny that man has the physical abil- be any, is not very recondite. In ity to obey God, we cannot but inink the foriner case, those who are lost that he must find his own system are lost not because in the exercise “ distressingly encumbered, and of a perfect freedom of action, they thereby rendered in itself exceed- rejected a complete atonement, for ingly unharmonious and conflict, there was no atonement for them to ing.” If he means to deny that reject. In the latter case they are this physical ability is actual ability, lost because when a free salvation we are still more at a loss to ima- was provided, and when the Holy gine what other ability can be asked Spirit knocked at their hearts, they for than that which is expressly de- still rejected the complete and full scribed as including every thing ne- atonement. Let our friend apply cessary to obedience except simply just this answer to the question that disposition or willingness to which he has stated, and judge it obey which is obedience itself. If the answer does not square equally man has not the powers of a com- well with that question and with plete moral agent without the pro- this. visions of gospel grace, how does But there is another, and a more the gospel find man a sinner? And strictly accurate answer to this if not a sinner without grace, grace question. “In point of JUSTICE,” is no more grace.
there is no difference between an Our correspondent asks once atonement limited in its nature more, “What is the difference, in and an atonement limited in the ul. point of justice, between restricting timate application of its benefits ; the benefits of the atonement of neither of them can be properly Christ, originally and prospectively, charged with injustice. Our obto a chosen few, and-after it has jection to the doctrine of a limited been proclaimed with a voice from atonement is not that it involves the heaven, that the atonement was character of God in any imputation made for all--still restricting its of injustice, but that a limited benefits, physical power and the atonement and unlimited offers of death of Christ notwithstanding, to salvation are inconsistent with each a chosen few, whom only it is the other, the former proving the ingracious purpose of God, by his sincerity of the latter. If the huelecting sovereignty, to save ?” If man race are justly exposed to the we may be allowed to answer this penalty of the law, then those who inquiry after “the New England” suffer that penalty sufler justly ; method, we would ask, Are all men God may save as many or as few actually saved by the atonement of as he sees fit, and who shall charge Christ? And if not, “ What is the him with injustice towards those difference, in point of justice, be- whom he does not see fit to save ? tween restricting the benefits of the God may provide an atonement for atonement of Christ, originally and the elect, while he makes no such
provision for the non-elect, -as sults," declares that all men are justly as he may provide an atone- born physically incapable of obement for the whole human race, dience to God; that for the want while he leaves the whole race of of an obedience which it is in sinning angels to their doom. And the nature of things impossible for so, supposing an atonement to have them to render, they are all con. been provided in its design unlim- demned ; that for a portion of the ited, and in its nature sufficient for human race God has provided an the whole family of man, who shall atonement; that the benefits of charge God with injustice though this atonement, in its nature rethe moral character of one man is stricted to a few, are offered to all; permitted to be formed by the pol- finally, that those for whom the luting and debasing influences of atonernent was provided are made heathenism till he is “ given up to the subjects of a change in their vile affections," abandoned “to a physical capacities, and thus diiler reprobate mind,” and “ filled with from the rest of mankind who perish all unrighteousness, fornication, under a doom from which in the wickedness, covetousness, mali- whole course of their existence-it ciousness,” while another man is was never for a single moment in placed in the congregation of any sense possible for them to esII QEDEUTEPOS, and subjected to the cape. The other system declares powerful and searching ministra that all men are fully capable of tions of the gospel, till Christ is obedience to God; that they are formed within him the hope of all free and voluntary sinners glory. Shall God be condemned against God, and thus involved in a because he makes the American to righteous condemnation ; that God differ from the Hindoo—the follow- has provided an atonement adequate er of Jesus from the “ earthly, sen- to the salvation of all, and offers to sual, devilish" worshipper of Brum- all the benefits of this full atone. hu? One man is saved and anoth- ment on the simple and-in the na.. er man is lost under the govern- ture of things indispensable con ment and providence of God; and dition of repentance and faith; and however the difference may be ef- finally, that under the wise and fected, whether simply by a differ- sovereign providence of God which ence in circumstances and the orders all events, some men, in the agency of means, or by a difference free exercise of their moral facul-. in the bestowal of special spiritual ties, and constrained by the mo influences, he who is lost perishes tives of the gospel, do repent and in his iniquity, and he who is saved return to God, giving glory to him is saved because by the grace of who hath redemed them by his God he has been made meet to be blood and renewed them by his a partaker of the inheritance of the Spirit, while other men, in the free saints in light.
exercise of their moral faculties, But the doctrine of a limited and constrained by “ the world and atonement is part of a “system ;" the things that are in the world.” and the doctrine of a general atone. do refuse to repent, and in thus ment, as we hold it, is part of an- persevering in their transgressions other system. And between the do go to inherit a retribution as two courses of procedure which righteous as it is terrific. these systems ascribe to God, there S urely it needs no “ hair-split is, we think, a difference in “ point ting” acuteness to discriminate beof justice.” One system, “when tween systems so widely different carried out into its extreme re. as these.