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traordinary provision to sustain the honour of his law, and deeply to impress upon his rational subjects the important truth, that though in this case the penalty was remitted, their moral governor would not suffer his laws to be transgressed with impunity. Nor could the offspring of these parents have expected a better lot, under the covenant of works, after the fall. We are not only born with a disordered nature, and thus disqualified for communion with the perfect inhabitants of heaven; but we have all likewise become voluntary transgressors of the divine law, and are therefore justly liable to its penalty on account of our own personal guilt. By the deeds of the law, we are expressly told, no flesh can be justified. The whole human family would therefore necessarily have been involved in ruin, if the Father of mercies had not graciously provided a method of escape, Such a provision he did make, and its features constitute what is termed
The Covenant of Grace,
Or plan of salvation since the fall. Its substance, as explained by the Saviour himself is, that "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."2 All that the scriptures teach, or reason suggests, on this important topic, may for the sake of perspicuity, be reduced to the following four heads:
1. The basis of this covenant, which is the work of Christ, usually termed the atonement;
2. The persons placed under it ;
3. The manner in which the atonement changes their rela
tions to God and his law (the modus operandi of the atonement.,
4. The part which we are required to perform, or the con
1 Rom. 3: 20.
John 3: 16.
ditions, on which the benefits of this covenant are bestowed
1. The basis of this covenant, the ground on which salvation is bestowed on men, is nothing else than the merits of the incarnate Son of God, Jesus, the Christ. By the merits of the Saviour we mean not any particular part of them, such as his death; but the whole of what he did and suffered in accomplishing the work, which brought him from the throne of heaven, until he himself upon the cross proclaimed, "it is finished." His subsequent actions on earth, as well as his present agency in heaven, belong either to the publication of the finished work, or to its application to men. Nor do the merits of Christ merely become the mediate ground of our reconciliation with God, by leading us to repentance, and to such a moral reformation as renders us more pleasing to God, and induces him to pardon our transgressions. On the contrary, evangelical repentance is based on this display of the divine benevolence, it presupposes this pardon as already provided for us, and consists of sorrow for our ingratitude and rebellion against so good a "God, who commended his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for The whole tenour of the sacred volume expressly inculcates the doctrine, that it was neither our repentance, nor faith, nor any thing else which we can do, but Christ who " conciled us" to God, who "made a propitiation for our sins,"3 and "provided a ransom for all."4
2. The persons whom God placed under this covenant of grace, are those who in consequence of Adam's fall, are born with a depraved nature, and therefore cannot be saved by the deeds of the law, under the covenant of works.
a) This is evident from numerous, explicit passages of the sacred volume. The apostle Paul informs us, that the gracious
1 Rom. 5: 8.
3 1 John. 2: 2. 4: 10.
22 Cor. 5: 18. 19.
4 1 Tim. 2: 6.
gift of salvation, is coextensive with the consequences of the fall. "Therefore, says he, as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so, by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life." Speaking to Timothy, he declares that God, our Saviour, "will have all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth," that "the living God is the Saviour of all men."3 To the Corinthians he writes "that Christ died for all," and "that God through Christ, reconciled the world unto himself;"5 to Titus "that the grace of God, which bringeth salvation, hath appeared to (been evinced in behalf of) all men;" and to the Hebrews,7 that "Jesus tasted death for every man." The Apostle John informs us, that "he is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole world."8
Nor are the persons who lived prior to the incarnation of the Saviour, excluded from the number of those placed under the covenant of grace. This is clearly taught in the sacred volume. Peter informs us, that there is salvation in no other, " for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." And, again, " to him (to Christ) give all the prophets witness, that through his name, whosoever believeth in him, shall receive remission of sins."10 Hence, either all the ancient fathers, including the prophets themselves, were lost, or they were saved, as Peter expressly tells us, "through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ."11
1 Rom. 5: 18.
4 2 Cor. 5: 15:
7 Heb. 2: 9.
10 Acts 10: 43.
b) The universality of the atonement is evident from the fact, clearly taught in scripture, that Christ died also for those who are lost. The advocates of limited atonement maintain,
that he died exclusively for the elect; and admit that if he died for one of those who are lost, he died for all mankind. This we think the annexed passages indisputably teach.1
c) It is evident from the fact, that the Saviour commanded the glad tidings of the salvation purchased by him, to be preached to all. Now, it cannot well be supposed, that the Saviour would enjoin it on his disciples to offer salvation to those for whom none was provided. Could it be regarded in any other light than deception, and can any plausible evidence be assigned of the necessity or benefit of such duplicity in the church and kingdom of the Messiah?
d) That the provision for the salvation of men extends to the whole human family, is evident from the divine will on this subject, as taught in scripture. God is represented as, "not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."3
e) Finally; the same truth is clearly implied in all such
12 Peter 2: 1. But there were false prophets also among the people, who privily bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. Rom. 14: 15. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. 1 Cor. 8: 11. And through thy knowledge, shall the weaker brother perish, for whom Christ died? Heb. 10: 29. Heb. 6: 4. 5. 6.
2 Mark 16: 15. 16. And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel (the glad tidings of salvation) to every creature. Acts 17: 30. And the times of this ignorance God winked at, but now commandeth all men every where to repent. Isaiah 55: 1. Ho every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy and eat ; &c. 45: 22. Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth. 1 Tim. 2: 4. God will have all men to come to a knowledge of the truth.
32 Pet. 3: 9. 1 Tim. 2: 4. God will have all men to be saved, &c. Ezek. 18: 32. For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God; wherefore turn yourselves and live. 33: 11. Say unto them: As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live: Turn ye, turn, ye, from your evil ways, for why will ye die, O house of Israel? Matth. 23: 37. O Jerusalem, &c.
passages as describe the guilt of those who believe not in the Saviour, and represent their unbelief as the cause of their damnation. For how could men be guilty for not receiving Christ as their Redeemer, if he never did make an atonement for them? In not believing him their Saviour, they would believe the truth and had they obeyed the advice of the ambassadors of Christ, and believed him their Redeemer, they would have yielded their faith to a falsehood.
Nor is the position that this provision of mercy was made for all mankind at all inconsistent with the fact, that the scriptures sometimes speak distinctively of the people of God. Because, those who accept the offers of mercy and become the obedient subjects of our heavenly king, whilst the great mass of mankind reject them, and persevere in their rebellion, may with undoubted propriety be styled emphatically "the people of God," his choice or chosen, his select or elect people.
3. The manner in which, and the degree to which, the merits of Christ change our relations to God and his law, have been variously viewed by different persons (the modus operandi of the atonement.)
a) The first view is that which confines the work of Christ chiefly to his sufferings, and regards them as a governmental transaction, as an abstract display of the divine indignation at sin, in order to prevent the law from being dishonoured, although its penalties should not be inflicted on all transgressors.
This system regards man, as by nature (morally) incapable of attaining salvation, without the special influence of God, and maintains that this special influence is denied to all except a certain number, whom God determined infallibly to save. This is, in substance, the view usually denominated Hopkinsian although it constituted but a small part of the doctrinal
1 Go ye and preach the gospel (glad tidings of a Saviour) to every (rational) creature; he that believeth not shall be damned. Mark 16: 15. 16. John 3: 18. 36. 8: 48.