By Aaron Hills
THE SATISFACTION OR PENAL THEORY
This theory is based upon a different conception of the difficulties in the way of the sinner's salvation. As the moral theory holds that the difficulty is in the nature of man, the satisfaction theory holds that the difficulty is in the Nature of God. "These difficulties are held to arise from the just indignation or wrath of God, aroused by the sinner's ill-desert, which requires His punishment. If the sinner is not to be punished, then some other satisfaction, or propitiation, must be provided for God's just indignation. The indignation is not conceived as a selfish passion, or a vindictive spirit; but a righteous condemnation, and an impulse to inflict deserved punishment. Thus the atonement is regarded as a satisfaction to the ethical nature of God.
Another statement of this view by older Calvinists (this is the Calvinistic Theory) puts justice in the place of the wrath of God; justice as the abstract principle of righteousness and justice as an attribute of the divine nature. They do not ordinarily discriminate between these relations of injustice. When sin has been committed, it is just that the sinner should be punished-inherently just in the nature of things, and God's justice, too, requires it; He cannot, by reason of His justice, permit sin to go unpunished. He never does; He often spares the sinner, but He punishes sin. The justice of God requires that the ill-desert of the sinner should, in some way, be met or cancelled, if not by the punishment of the sinner, then by some substitution which will serve the same purpose; that is, cancel the ill-desert and satisfy the justice of God. The Atonement provides for the emergency. Christ comes forward and takes the sinner's place and receives the sinner's punishment in His own person. The guilt of the sinner is imputed to Him; guilt, as some would say, not in the sense of unworthiness, blameworthiness, and criminality; but in the sense of liability to punishment. The Savior takes the sinner's place in law, in the sense of becoming obnoxious to its penalty. God is pledged to punish sin by virtue of His justice; He is merciful as well as just and thus accepts the punishment in His own person, or rather in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ, who voluntarily takes the sinner's place. Christ thus really suffers the penalty. He is punished, and law and justice have no further claim upon the sinner" (Fairchild's Theology, pp. 214, 215).
We will let Dr. Hodge state this theory, for it is His own. He calls it the "Orthodox doctrine," and "the Catholic doctrine." It has had wide acceptance throughout the bounds of Calvinism but there has been a wide dissent from it for centuries so that it is not Catholic. There has been even a dissent among Calvinists; and the number is rapidly growing. The wonder is that any thoughtful, reflective mind can accept it, but we will let Dr. Hodge state his views: "According to this doctrine the work of Christ is a real satisfaction, of infinite merit, to the vindicatory justice of God; so that He saves His people by doing for them, and in their stead, what they were unable to do for themselves, satisfying the demands of the law in their behalf, and bearing its penalty in their stead; whereby they are reconciled to God, receive the Holy Ghost, and are made partakers of the life of Christ to their present sanctification and eternal salvation" (Vol. II, p. 563).
He uses the words "vindicatory justice"; but his whole discussion shows that he means punitive justice-the justice that demands the execution of penalty for all sin, either upon the sinner or upon somebody else-viz., Christ. The phrase-"satisfying the demands of the law in their behalf" implies as their discussions show both the demand of the law for penalty and the demand of the law for obedience. The law is no more absolute in its demands for punishment, than in the requirement of obedience. And in this system Christ must take the place of the elect under the law in both facts. He must answer for their sin in a vicarious punishment and for their duty of personal righteousness in a vicarious obedience.
Thus this doctrine is a legitimate and necessary feature of "Federal Theology," which holds that Christ is our Federal head as Adam once was. "Christ's atonement was thus the fulfillment of the federal conditions. The Father, who was the lawgiver and fountain of the Covenant, insisted on the full performance of the law, and yet provided the surety" (Smeaton). "Thus in the completed doctrine there are two elements or factors: 1. substituted punishment and 2. Substituted obedience. Nothing less, it is claimed could satisfy the absolute requirement of justice and law. Sin must be punished; but its punishment neither supersedes nor satisfies the requirement of perfect obedience.
The elect have failed in this obedience, and never can fulfill its obligation by their own personal conduct. Hence they need a substitute in obedience, as much as in penalty. Christ answers for them in both" (Miley, Vol. II, p. 134).
Let us state now very specifically some more elements that are essential to the theory, beside the two above named.
1. The satisfaction of justice in its punitive demand is a cardinal fact of the theory. Its advocates make it so essential that such satisfaction enters into the very nature of the atonement. There must be satisfaction of divine justice satisfaction in the punishment of sin according to its demerit, and solely for that
2. In this doctrine, the satisfaction is by substitutional punishment. Christ was literally punished, in the sinner's stead. This idea has taken in the course of centuries three forms.
(1) That Christ suffered the identical penalty of all sinners whom He redeemed. Then the holy Christ must have felt guilty like a sinner is compelled to feel and eternally, and this multiplied by the number of the saved. This was absolutely impossible.
(2) Christ endured penal sufferings equal in amount to the merited penal sufferings of all the sinners redeemed. This theory is now generally discarded. It is strange that it ever had an advocate and needs no refutation.
(3) It is now held that Jesus suffered an equivalent penalty --of equal value for the satisfaction of justice. "Justice," they say, 'must have penal satisfaction, either in the full punishment of the actual offender, or in an equivalent punishment of its substitute."
5. Its principles are:
(1) Sin has intrinsic demerit. It deserves the retribution of Divine justice, irrespective of all salutary results of the punishment.
(2) There is a punitive justice in God that must be satisfied.
(3) Sin ought to be punished. But this means that there is an obligation lying on God to punish it. Such is the inevitable logic of their propositions. God must discharge this obligation on the simple ground of the demerit of sin, and apart from all the interests of moral government! The sinner or his substitute must be punished according to the demerit of sin. Dr. Hodge tells us in Vol. II, p. 488, "Justice belongs to the nature of God. It demands the punishment of sin. If sin be pardoned, it can be pardoned in consistency with the divine justice only on the ground of a forensic penal satisfaction." On page 492, he says: "The plan of salvation which the Bible reveals supposes that the justice which renders the punishment of sin necessary has been satisfied. Men can be pardoned and restored to the favor of God, because Christ "was set forth as an expiation for their sins . . . and because the penalty due to us was laid on Him." Thus they say in endless repetition, that Justice is a form of God's moral excellent, e. It must he satisfied before sin ran be pardoned. Satisfaction requires absolute penalty. Owen declares: "Justice is an essential attribute of the divine nature and He must exercise it, because it supposes him in a constant and immutable will to punish sin, so that while He acts consistently He cannot do otherwise than to punish and avenge it."
A. A. Hodge says: "God is determined, by the immutable holiness of His nature, to punish all sin, because of its intrinsic guilt or demerit; the effect produced on the universe being incidental as an end" ("The Atonement," p. 53). Dr. Shedd says: "Law has no option. Justice has but one function. . . . The law itself is under law; that is, it is under the necessity of its own nature; and, therefore, the only possible way whereby a transgressor can escape the penalty of law is for a substitute to endure it for him" (Theological Essays, p. 287).
We have quoted enough to show the absolute undeniable principles and elements of this Calvinistic theory of Satisfaction. "It has mechanical simplicity to commend it. It is as luminous as a mathematical problem; so much ill-desert to be cancelled; so much penalty to be suffered; so much obedience to be rendered, and the problem of salvation is solved. This apparent simplicity gives a popular acceptance to the theory. It is easy to apprehend and state. When we say Christ paid the debt for every man, if we do not go beyond the figure of speech, it all seems plain. If we pause to consider, we must go beyond the figure; we need something more to satisfy us" (Fairchild).
Fatal Objections to this theory.
1. If Christ thus suffered the punishment due to all, then all punishment has been inflicted, all penalty has been met, all law is satisfied, and the universal salvation of the race naturally follows. Dr. Hodge admits: "If the claims of justice are satisfied, they cannot again be enforced" (Vol. II, p. 472). Dr. Dick says: "Will God punish sin twice, first in the person of his surety, and then in the persons themselves, in whose place he stood? God forbid; the Judge of all the earth will do right. This would be a manifest injustice" (Theology, Vol. II, p. 556).
Dr. Symington says: "The death of Christ being a legal satisfaction for sin, all for whom He died, must enjoy the remission of their offenses. It is as much at variance with strict justice or equity that any for whom Christ has given satisfaction should continue under condemnation, as that they should have been delivered from guilt, without any satisfaction being given for them at all" (Atonement and Intercession, p. 190).
Turretin says: "For if, in consequence of his suretyship, the debt has been transferred to Christ and by him discharged, every one must see that it has been taken away from the primary debtors, so that payment cannot be demanded of them. They must forever afterward remain free, absolved from all obligation to punishment" (The Atonement of Christ, p. 146).
These Calvinistic writers could not, in reason, say otherwise. Such an atonement, by its very nature, cancels all punitive claim against all for whom Christ died, and by immediate result, forever frees them from all liability to the penalty of sin. This very view of the atonement became the fountain-head of Universalism. The Scriptures declare that Jesus "tasted death for every man" and "gave himself a ransom for all" (Heb. 2: 9 and 1 Tim. 2: 6). So, if this satisfaction theory is true, it follows undeniably that all will be saved. But the doctrine of universal salvation is not in accord with the Scriptures, which represent that some souls will, in the end, be lost. Therefore this doctrine, of satisfaction -which begets Universalism, is contrary to Scriptures.
2. To escape this dilemma the Calvinists (who are logical) hold that "Christ endures the punishment only of the elect." And so here is another error-"limited atonement" to help out the satisfaction theory. They are twin errors, perfectly consistent, that must go together. In God's sovereign grace, a certain portion of the race are chosen to salvation; the punishment of these Christ bears in his own person, and they cannot rightfully suffer the penalty of the law. They are regenerated and saved, by the irresistible grace of God; and the atonement is limited to these. Christ died only for the elect. Such a limitation is an essential element of the system, a logical necessity.
3. Some Calvinists who hold to the satisfaction theory of Atonement, and "limited atonement" to get out of their multiplying difficulties, maintain that, in its inherent value, it is sufficient for all men; but it is restricted by God's sovereign and righteous will to the elect, and is effective only in their case. There is no salvation within the reach of others or available for them. But here, again, these unfortunate Calvinists come up flatly against the infallible Word, which declares that "God our Savior would have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth," and is "not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (1 Tim. 2: 4 and 2 Pet. 3: 9).
4. They have to explain away the great passages like, "He is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world" (1 John 2: 2), and "God so loved the world that He gave his Only His Only begotten Son" (John ,3:16) They suppose these texts simply mean, that the inherent value of the Atonement is sufficient for the salvation of the world; but that, as a matter of fact, the application of the Atonement, is restricted by the will of God to only a portion of mankind-the elect. We are sorry for them that they have to suppose so much that is contrary to the truth, to uphold their satisfaction theory. Jesus said: "Even so it is not the will of your Father, who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish." Probably Jesus knew.
5. Another trouble of their doctrine is this: the punishment of Christ only provides for the remission of the penalty; it does away with punishment, but in order to the enjoyment of the favor of God and the blessedness of heaven, sinners must have some merit; they must somehow be made worthy. Thus it is represented that the obedience of Christ is imputed to them, and they are accounted worthy of eternal life through the merits of Christ. A double imputation; the guilt of sinners is imputed to Christ, and the worthiness of Christ is imputed to sinners, and thus redemption is complete.
But this involves all those unscriptural absurdities covered by that theological fiction called "Imputation" which we have discussed in a previous chapter. We there showed the mass of foolish errors that are involved in the doctrine, and make it incredible. We showed that there was not one certain passage in the Bible which taught that any one's character, good or bad, was ever imputed to another. Character is a personal, private thing and cannot by any possibility be transferred. Moreover, no being in the universe has any superfluous goodness to give away or transfer to anybody else. There is no such thing as supererogatory goodness or holiness. No one can be more holy or good than he ought to be. Doubtless Jesus had infinite holiness; but he was an infinite Being and needed it all to be a perfect Redeemer. He had none to spare. And even if He had, character is one of the things that can neither be given away nor received. But this whole doctrine of Satisfaction depends on this impossible scheme of imputation, and can not work without it.
6. It is a misrepresentation of God's nature and character to say that his wrath stands in the way of the sinner's salvation or requires his punishment. It is precisely this that gives rise to the old Unitarian fling at orthodox theology. They say we teach that God was furiously angry at sin; He let fly a thunderbolt of wrath at it. The bolt hit His Son; but God felt better for it."
It is a coarse and awful way of putting it; but if we accept the satisfaction theory of atonement, we can have precious little to say to reply. It would, however, be only a cheap caricature of the true doctrine of Atonement which we will hereafter give.
Now we gladly admit the fact of God's righteous indignation against sin and sinners. "He is a moral being, and must look upon sin as it is; as unreasonable, inexcusable, ill-deserving and worthy of punishment; thus the Scriptures represent God. But this sentiment in view of sin is not a reason for its punishment. The sinner is not punished to relieve or propitiate God's feeling or sense of his ill desert. (Indignation at sin is not God's only feeling.) He has, also, the feeling of compassion and pity, the desire to save the sinner from the ruin he deserves. Why shall he not indulge the sentiment of mercy, and save the sinner? We are told that He delights in mercy and judgment is His strange work. If it is a question of divine impulse or feeling, mercy will triumph, and the sinner will escape punishment. But here, it is said, the principle of justice comes in. It is just that the sinner should be punished, because he deserves it, and God must be just. "We can say, God MAY be merciful or not, as He pleases: we cannot say, God may be just or not, as He pleases." This means that because the sinner deserves punishment he must be punished. Then the sinner never can be otherwise than ill-deserving" (Fairchild's Theology, p. 217). The argument, therefore, which satisfactionists make for the necessity of punishment, would make all mercy and forgiveness forever impossible. Their theory is that "divine justice must have absolute penal satisfaction. It is a necessity of judicial rectitude in God." This irremissibility of the penalty is the determining principle of the theory. They hold that merited penalty is absolutely irremissible on all grounds whatsoever. We deny this principle, and cite God's own conduct as proof against it, every time he forgives a sinner. Such satisfaction of retributive justice by a substitute is impossible. Absolute justice would demand the punishment of the criminal himself, and not the punishment of some holy person.
7. But this, as we have seen, is not the true idea of the necessity of the sinner's punishment. "His ill-desert is not the reason of his punishment. It is a condition of his punishment-that without which he cannot be punished; but unless there be other reasons for the punishment, he will not be punished. God is under no obligation to punish sin because of its ill-desert. (He punishes sin either for the good of the sinner or for the good of other beings-the moral government, or moral universe.) We will consider later what the true reason for the punishment of sin is, and what the necessity for its punishment.
God's justice consists in fidelity to all interests, regard for all well-being. In punishment, as in all other things, He is governed by this respect for all interests. Abstract justice is not an interest; it has no force (value) apart from sentient being; it grows out of the interests and welfare of moral beings. Justice has no demand upon God, or men, but that which the good, the welfare of all, requires. This is the only justice which can be a principle of action. If there is an abstract righteousness, or justice, which constitutes an end in itself, apart from the well-being of the universe, a justice which must be respected, and conformed to, on its own account, then sin must be punished, because it deserves it; and desert of punishment is obligation to punishment, an obligation resting on the being who holds the rightful authority.
But this is not properly the force and meaning of ill-desert. The desert of punishment does not make the punishment obligatory; it makes it permissible, provided there is a necessity in the welfare of the universe for the punishment" (Fairchild's Theology, pp. 217, 218).
8. But, there is another fallacy in the theory, already hinted at. Granting all that the Satisfaction theory requires in respect to ill-desert as a demand for punishment, and final reason for it-that which makes it necessary and just, still, the theory breaks down when we come to the provision made in the Atonement to meet this necessity. "Neither the wrath of God, nor the justice of God, in the sense they define it, nor abstract justice, nor the sinner's ill-desert, can be satisfied in the death of Christ. There is no provision in it for such satisfaction. God's wrath burns against the sinner, because of his sin and ill-desert, and Christ dies for him. But God's moral indignation is against the SINNER HIMSELF, not toward His well-beloved Son; and how can it be satisfied with the suffering of One perfect in goodness?"
"We must remember, too, that these same sinners crucified that dear Son; and is this to relieve or propitiate God's indignation? . . . It is inconceivable that the Atonement should thus bring a satisfaction to God's moral indignation, or that the sinner's ill-desert should thus be cancelled. The sinner is still ill-deserving, and God pardons him at last in his ill-desert," and in spite of it (Ibid., pp. 218, 219).
9. "If we put God's justice in the sense satisfactionists imply it, in the place of his wrath, the difficulty is just as great. They say, God's justice requires the punishment of the sinner. According to the theory it is his ill-desert that makes the punishment necessary; then HIS punishment, and not the punishment of another, is required-least of all the punishment of an innocent being absolutely perfect in goodness. The very thing that makes the punishment just is the sinner's ill-desert, the suffering of Christ is no punishment of the sinner; it is not a punishment of sin. The object of punishment according to the satisfaction view is to meet the ill-desert of sin; a work which the Atonement can by no possibility accomplish. We may impute the guilt of the sinner to Christ, but the imputation does not make Him a sinner, or afford God or man any satisfaction in His suffering as the punishment of sin" (Ibid., p. 219).
10. Dr. Hodge and other Calvinistic writers are conscious of this difficulty and they try to escape it as follows. They divide the ill-desert of sin into two parts: first its legal liability to punishment which they call "guilt," and second, its blameworthiness, its wickedness. The legal liability, it is said, is transferred by imputation to Christ, while the wickedness and unworthiness of the sin are left with the sinner. This is what they say they mean by the imputation of sin to Christ: Christ so identifies himself with the ELECT that He assumes their liability to punishment, while the real wickedness is personal; it belongs to moral character and cannot thus be imputed or transferred. Now this is nothing but a theological scheme to get rid of insurmountable difficulties that abound in this imputation theory. For, (1) Nothing could be punished in Christ which was not in a real sense His. If He was punished He must have been a guilty Christ. But guilty of what? Not of sin because, according lo the supposition, that could not be transferred. Then He was guilty of guilt-an imaginary, fictitious theological kind of guilt. But (2): Guilt apart from sin is only an abstract notion, floating around in the imagination of Calvinists. There is no such thing in reality. But is not guilt a reality? Certainly it is, and a terrible reality, but only as a concrete fact, of personal sin. But with the imputation of only an abstract guilt to Christ, while sin, the real thing, with all its turpitude and demerit, with all that is punishable, and all that deserves to be punished, left behind, how could the redemptive suffering of Christ be any punishment of sin? There is no guilt apart from sin; any more than there is redness apart from an object that is red, or extension without substance, or dimension without space. (3) Nothing but sin can render any one guilty. Then Christ could not be guilty unless he became a sinner. (4) Sin itself is a punishable reality only as a personal fact. In the last analysis, ONLY A SINFUL PERSON is PUNISHABLE. It is not any impersonal sin, or sin in generalized conception, but only a SINFUL PERSON that is answerable to justice in penalty. Sin has no real existence apart from the agent who sins. The guilt of sin lies upon him, and can no more be put upon a substitute as a punitive desert than his sinful act can cease to be his, and be made the sinful act of such substitute" (Miley, Vol. II, p. 147). It is therefore, a misuse of language to say that Christ was punished. (5) The theory is self-destructive. It runs thus: a. The absolute punishment of sin is necessary, b. Sin is not transferable, c. It must be punished by the transference of guilt which is not sin at all, and punished in Christ where there was no sin. It is impossible to punish the guilt, in the person of another, and leave the sinner unpunished. He is a sinner still with all the demerit of his sin upon him.
11. The difficulty still remains if we substitute Abstract justice for the retributive justice of God. Even this can not be satisfied by Christ's suffering. The language of justice, as of the law is: "The soul that sinneth it shall die." Abstract justice, requires the punishment, of the sinner, not somebody else, because of his ill-desert, that is, because of his sin; there can be no transfer, no substitution. The Atonement cannot satisfy the sinner's ill-desert, or cancel it in any degree; it stands to the sinner's charge after all that has been done in the atonement; and the sinner must be saved at last, and taken to heaven, with all his ill-desert upon him. If this ill-desert stands in the way of salvation, the sinner never can be saved; no power can alter, or change, or cancel it.
A popular lecturer on the Atonement represents that one of the difficulties in the sinner's salvation is that he "cannot face his record." A man has committed a crime, like murder; he repents and puts away sin; but he cannot live with himself; he cannot look his crime in the face; it must somehow be overcome or cancelled, or set aside." This is an impossible requirement. He can be pardoned and saved in heaven; but that fact of sin can never be obliterated; the guilt can never be cancelled. The Atonement can do everything else for him, but this one thing it cannot do; his unworthiness remains, and must remain while the soul lives. A pardoned sinner, with the favor of God restored to him, can be blest, but he can never deserve his blessedness, or be anything else than ill-deserving. Salvation of the sinner does not involve the canceling of ill-desert."
12. "There is the same difficulty in transferring to sinners the merit of Christ, or His obedience, as in imputing to Christ the guilt of sinners. Obedience and merit are personal facts, and can never be separated from the person to whom they belong. Christ's obedience can never render the sinner worthy of heaven. The pardon of penitent sinners might be accorded to Christ as a reward of His zeal for righteousness, and His obedience unto death; but would not imply the transfer of obedience. The sinner dues not need to deserve heaven in order to share in its blessedness" (Fairchild's Theology, pp. 220, 221).
13. If this satisfaction theory is true, then the elect for whom the atonement was made in their whole life, and however wicked they may have been, are entirely free from liability to punishment. Backslide as they may and sin as they please, God can only smile, for all His wrath has been appeased, His justice has been satisfied, and all claims have been met. The elect are, and always were, as immune from the wrath and judicial condemnation of God as vaccinated people are immune from small-pox.
14. Nay, it is even worse; for, in-as-much as the Atonement was made, and the elect were elected before they were born, even from eternity, it follows that they were born into the world with the awful privilege granted them by a holy God, of sinning with perfect impunity. These pets of the Almighty, who were unconditionally elected, "without any foresight of faith or good works or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions, or causes moving Him thereunto," (Confession of Faith) may act as mean and devilish as they please, from the cradle to the grave, without condemnation or danger of divine wrath. "Just as they are, with all their sin, they are accepted in Christ, their peace is certain, their heaven is sure" (From a Sermon of a famous Calvinistic preacher). This is good Calvinism and an irresistible logical conclusion from the Satisfaction Theory. No theological wriggling can escape it.
15. This theory contradicts the testimony of the Holy Spirit in the heart. Read the Holy Word from end to end, and see if God has no controversy with His own people when they sin; see if His justice is satisfied when individual believers backslide and fall away from God; see if His justice in their case is so satisfied by the Atonement that it announces no threats, no punishment., no displeasure, no warning.
The universal experience of men contradicts the theory in the matter of the conviction that precedes repentance. Many a soul on the verge of surrender to God feels the pangs of hell. Who made them feel so? The Holy Spirit, who brings conviction, to the sinner. He made them feel their guilt and exposure to the wrath of God. Now did the Holy Spirit deceive them? Were Augustine, .and Martin Luther and John Newton, and Whitefield and Finney mil Mahan deceived by the Holy Ghost? He brought them to the verge of despair, over their sins and their guilt and the impending wrath of an incensed God. And they certainly were among the number of the elect saints of God, for whom the Atonement was made. But if the Satisfaction Theory is true the Holy Spirit should have acted in harmony with the truth and allayed all their apprehensions, and assured them that their Atoning Savior had first obeyed for them and then had been punished for them, and that they were the special objects of God's love and were not, and never had been, in the slightest danger of His wrath. Now, we ask, did the Holy Spirit work such a deception in the profoundest religious consciousness of these saints, and of all of us? If he did not, then the satisfaction theory is not true.
16. The satisfaction theory leads direct to that fatal antinomian heresy of a "finished work" and "a finished salvation." The lengths to which it has gone in thought, and literature, and preaching, yea, and in living is amazing. We could make pages of quotations. A little will set forth what is meant by a "finished work" and "a finished salvation." "Christ belongs to sinners as sinners; and if there be no worse than sinfulness, rebellion and enmity in thee, He belongs to thee, as well as to the world. Christ does justify a person before he believes; we do not believe that we may be justified but because we are justified. The elect are justified from eternity; at Christ's death: and the latest is before they were born. ... Every elect vessel, from the first instant of his being, is as pure in the eyes of God from the charge of sin, as he shall be in Glory. Though such persons do act rebellion, yet the loathsomeness and hatefulness of this rebellion is laid on the back of Christ; he bears the sin as well as the blame and shame; and God can dwell with persons that act the thing, because all the filthiness of it is translated from them upon the back of Christ. A believer may be assured of pardon as soon as he commits any sin, even adultery and murder. God does no longer stand displeased though a believer does sin often. There is no sin that believers ever commit that can possibly do them any hurt. Therefore as their sins can not hurt them, so there is no cause of fear in their sins committed." John Fletcher comments thus: "If the salvation of the elect was finished on the cross, then was their justification finished; for, justification, sanctification, and glorification finished, are but the various parts of our finished salvation. If our justification be finished, there is no need of mortifying one sin, praying for one grace, taking up one cross, parting with either right eye or right hand in order to perfect holiness" (Fletcher's, pp. 192-195).
"Oh," someone says, "that was long ago. People do not believe that way now." On our first visit to Scotland, a minister's wife told us of an address delivered lately there before a large Sabbath-school. A member of the church had been in the past a useful Christian man, but had backslidden, become a drunkard, and the week before, when drunk had fallen from his horse and broke his neck. The next Sabbath, a Presbyterian evangelist, addressing the school, asked the school where the man's soul had gone. "Now," he said, "before you answer, I will whisper to the superintendent, what your answer will be." The school answered that he had gone to hell. "Now," said he to the superintendent "isn't that what I whispered to you?" "Yes." "But you are all wrong; his soul went straight to heaven!" Of course! After a preacher has accepted the satisfaction theory, how could he suppose that a little matter like backsliding, and getting drunk, and falling off a horse and breaking his neck, could keep a man out of heaven, for whom Christ had obeyed and been punished and to whom he had given a "finished salvation"? This satisfaction theory produced its logical fruit in Fletcher's day, and does yet, and will as long as it is believed.
17. Lastly, this theory stands in the way of the highest Christian attainments. When preaching to audiences in the North of England and Scotland the Plymouth Brethren, who are the staunchest Calvinists, rejected our message with one common consent. One of the leaders explained to us thus: "We do not need to seek sanctification. We distinguish between our spiritual standing in Christ, and our spiritual state. We have now a SANCTIFIED STANDING "in Christ" our Surety and Head. He is our sanctification, and we are "in Him." We have not a sanctified state of heart but God sees our "sanctified standing" "in Christ," and accepts it instead. In vain w" quoted to them God's own Word: "Be ye, yourselves, also holy, for I am holy." They pressed this Calvinistic theory to their carnal hearts and went on in carnal living, perfectly satisfied with their fictitious, imaginary, theological "STANDING." Few educated Calvinists seek or enter into the experience of sanctification. Their theology is against it. Now can a theory that naturally produces such fruit be true? We cannot believe it.