By Richard Watson
EXTENT OF THE ATONEMENT.
We have already spoken of some of the leading blessings derived to man from the death of Christ, and the conditions on which they are made attainable. Before the remainder are adduced, it may be here a proper place to inquire into the extent of that atonement for sin made by the death of our Saviour, and whether the blessings of justification, regeneration, and adoption, are rendered attainable by all to whom the Gospel is proclaimed.
This inquiry leads us into what is called the Calvinistic controversy; a controversy which has always been conducted with great ardour, and sometimes with intemperance. I shall endeavour to consider such parts of it as are comprehended in the question before us, with perfect calmness and fairness; recollecting, on the one hand, how many excellent and learned men have been arranged on each side; and, on the other, that while all honour is due to great names, the plain and unsophisticated sense of the word of inspired truth must alone decide on a subject with respect to which it is not silent.
In the system usually called by the name of Calvinism, and which shall subsequently be exhibited in its different modifications, there are, I think, many great errors; but they have seldom been held except in connection with a class of vital truths. By many writers who have attacked this system, the truth which it contains, as well as the error, has often been invaded; and the assault itself has been not unfrequently conducted on principles exceedingly anti-scriptural, and fatally delusive. These considerations are sufficient to inspire caution. The controversy is a very voluminous one; and yet no great dexterity is required to exhibit it with clearness in a comparatively small compass. Its essence lies in very limited bounds; and, according to the plan of this work, the whole question will be tested, first and chiefly, by Scriptural authority. High Calvinism, indeed, affects the mode of reasoning a priori, and delights in metaphysics. To some also it gives most delight to see it opposed on the same ground; and to such disputants it will be much less imposing to resort primarily, and with all simplicity, to the testimony of the sacred writings. “It is sometimes complained,” says one, “that the mind is unduly biassed in its judgment, by a continual reference to the authority of the Scriptures. The complaint is just, if the Scriptures are not the word of God: but if they are, there is an opposite and corresponding danger to be guarded against, that of suffering the mind to be unduly biassed in the study and interpretation of the revealed will of God, by the deductions of unaided reason.” (Dr. Whiteley’s Essays.)
With respect to the controversy, we may also observe, that it forms a clear case of appeal to the Scriptures: for to whom the benefits of Christ’s death are extended, whether to the whole of our race, or to a part, can be matter of revelation only; and the sole province of reason is that of interpreting, with fairness, and consistently with the acknowledged principles of that revelation, those parts of it in which the subject is directly or incidentally introduced.
The question before us, put into its most simple form, is, whether our Lord Jesus Christ did so die for all men, as to make salvation attainable by all men; and the affirmative of this question is, we think, the doc trine of Scripture.
We assume that this is plainly expressed,
1. In all those passages which declare that Christ died “for all men,” and speak of his death as an atonement for the sins “ of the whole world.”
We have already seen, in treating of our Lord’s atonement, in what sense the phrase, to die “for us,” must be understood; that it signifies to die in the place and stead of man, as a sacrificial oblation, by which satisfaction is made for the sins of the individual, so that they become remissible upon the terms of the evangelical covenant. When, therefore, it is said, that Christ “by the grace of GOD tasted death for every man;” and that “he is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world;” it can only, we think be fairly concluded from such declarations, and from many other familiar texts, in which the same phraseology is employed, that, by the death of Christ, the sins of every man are rendered remissible, and that salvation is consequently attainable by every man. Again, our Lord calk himself “the Saviour of the world;” and is, by St. Paul, called “the Saviour of all men.” John the Baptist points him out as “the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world;” and our Lord himself declares, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life: for GOD sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that time world through him might be saved.” So, also the Apostle Paul, “GOD was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them.”
2. In those passages which attribute an equal extent to the effect! of the death of Christ as to the effects of the fall of our first parents “For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.” “Therefore, 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.”
As the unlimited extent of Christ’s atonement to all mankind, is plainly expressed in the above-cited passages, so is it, we also assume, necessarily implied,
1. In those which declare that Christ died not only for those that are saved, but for those who do, or may perish; so that it cannot be argued, from the actual condemnation of men, that they were excepted from many actual, and from all the offered, benefits of his death. “And through thy knowledge shall thy weak brother perish, for whom Christ died.” “Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.” “False teachers, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.” So also in the case of the apostates mentioned in the Epistle to the Hebrews, “Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith h€ was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” It any dispute should here arise as to the phrase, “wherewith lie was sanctified,” reference may be made to chap. vi, of the same epistle, where the same class of persons, whose doom is pronounced to be inevitable, are said to have been “once enlightened;” to have “tasted of the heavenly gift;” to have been “made partakers of the Holy Ghost;” to have “tasted the good word of GOD,” and “the powers of the world to come :“ all which expressions show that they were placed on the same ground with other Christians as to their interest in the new covenant,—a point to which we shall again recur.
2. In all those passages which make it the duty of men to believe the Gospel; and place them under guilt, and the penalty of death, for rejecting it. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” “He that believeth not is condemned already, because he bath not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God.” “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not, shall be damned.” “How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?” “The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The plain argument from all such passages is, that the Gospel is commanded to be preached to all men; that it is preached to them that they may believe in Christ, its Author; that this faith is required of them, in order to their salvation,—” that believing ye may have life through his name ;“ that they have power thus to believe to their salvation; (from whatever source, or by whatever means this power is derived to them, need not now be examined: it is plainly sup. posed; for not to believe, is reckoned to them as a capital crime, for which they are condemned already, and reserved to final condemnation;) and that having power to believe, they have the power to obtain salvation, which, as it can be bestowed only through the merits of Christ’s sacrifice, proves that it extends to them. The same conclusion, also, follows from time nature of that faith, which is required by the Gospel, in order to salvation. This, we have already seen, is not mere assent to the doctrine of Christ’s sacrificial death, but personal trust in it as our atonement; which those, surely, could not be required by a God of truth to exercise, if that atonement did not embrace them. Nor could they be guilty for refusing to trust in that which was never intended to be the object of their trust; for if God so designed to exclude them from Christ, he could not command them to trust in Christ; and if they are not commanded thus to trust in Christ, they do not violate any command by not believing; and, in this respect, are innocent.
3. In all those passages in which men’s failure to obtain salvation is placed to the account of their own opposing wills, and made wholly their own fault. “How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” “And ye will not come to me that ye may have life.” “Bringing upon themselves swift destruction.” “Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.” It is useless here to multiply quotations, since the New Testament so constantly exhorts men to come to Christ, reproves them for neglect, and threatens them with the penal consequences of their own folly: thus uniformly placing the bar to their salvation, just where Christ places it, in his parable of the supper, in the perverseness of those, who having been bidden to the feast, would not come. From these premises, then, it follows, that since the Scriptures always attribute the ruin of men’s souls to their own will, and not to the will of God; we ought to seek for no other cause of their condemnation. We can know nothing on this subject but what God has revealed. He has declared that it is not his will that men should perish: on the contrary, “He willeth all men to be saved;” and therefore commands us to pray for “all men;” he has declared, that the reason they are not saved, is not that Christ did not die for them, but that they will not come to him for the “life” which he died to procure for “the world;” and it must therefore be concluded, that the sole bar to the salvation of all who are lost is in themselves, and not in any such limitation of Christ’s redemption, as supposes that they were not comprehended in its efficacy and intention.
It will now be necessary for us to consider what those who have adopted a different opinion have to urge against these plain and literal declarations of Scripture. It is their burthen, that they are compelled to explain these passages in a more limited and qualified sense, than the letter of them and its obvious meaning teaches: and that they must do this by inference merely; for it is not even pretended that there is any text whatever to be adduced, which declares as literally, that Christ did not die for the salvation of all, as those which declare that he did so die. We have no passages, therefore, to examine, which, in their clear literal meaning, stand opposed to those which we have quoted, so as to present apparent contradictions which require to be reconciled by con cession on one side or the other. This is at least, prima facie, strongly in favour of those who hold that, in the same sense, and with the same design, “Jesus Christ tasted death for every man.”
To our first class of texts it is objected, that the terms “all men,” and “the world,” are sometimes used in Scripture in a limited sense.
This may be granted, without injury to the argument drawn from the texts in question. But though in Scripture, as in common language, all and every, and such universals, are occasionally used with limitation when the connection prevents any misunderstanding; yet they are, nevertheless, strictly universal terms, and are most frequently used as such. The true question is, whether, in the places above cited, they can be understood except in the largest sense; whether “all men,” and “the world,” can be interpreted of the elect only, that is of some men of all countries.
We may very confidently deny this,—
1. Because the universal sense of the terms, “all,” and “all men,” and “every man,” is confirmed, either by the context of the passages in which they occur, or by other scriptures. When Isaiah says, “All we like sheep have gone astray; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all;” he affirms that the iniquity of all those who have gone astray, was laid on Christ. When St. Paul says, “We thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead;” he argues the universality of spiritual death, from the universality of the means adopted for raising, men to spiritual life: a plain proof that it was received as an undisputed principle in the primitive Church, that Christ’s dying for all men was to be taken in its utmost latitude, or it could not have been made the basis of the argument. When the same apostle calls Christ the “ Saviour of all men, and especially of those that believe,” he manifestly includes both believers and unbelievers, that is, all mankind, in the term “all men and declares, that Christ is their Saviour, though the full benefits of his salvation are received through faith only by them that believe. When again he declares that, “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, (ei~,) in order to justification of life;” the force of the comparison is lost if the term " all men,” is not taken in its full extent; for the apostle is thus made to say, AS by the offence of one, judgment came upon ALL MEN; EVEN so by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon A FEW MEN. Nor can it be objected that the apostle uses the terms, “many,” and “all men,” indiscriminately in this chapter for there is in this no contradiction, and the objection is in our favour. All men are many, though many are not in every case all. But the term, “many,” is taken by him in the sense of all, as appears from the following parallels: “death passed upon all men;” “many be dead;” “the gift by grace hath abounded unto many;” “the free gift came upon all men.” “By one man’s disobedience many were made (constituted) sinners,” made liable to death; “so by the obedience of one shall many be made (constituted) righteous.” On the last passage we may observe that “many,” or “the many,” must mean all men in the first clause; nor is it to be restricted in the second, as though by being “made righteous,” actual, personal justification were to be understood; for the apostle is not speaking of believers individually, but of mankind collectively, and the opposite conditions in which the race itself is placed by the offence of Adam and the obedience of Christ in all its generations.
It is equally impracticable to restrict the phrases, “the world,” “the whole world,” and to paraphrase them the “world of the elect:” and yet there is no other alternative; for either “the whole world” means those elected out of it; or else Christ died in an equal sense for every man. “God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son,” &c. Here, if the world mean not the elect only, but every man, then every man was “so loved” by God, that he gave his own Son for his redemption. To say that the world, in a few places, means the Roman empire, and in others Judea, is nothing to the purpose, unless it were meant to affirm, that the elect were the people of Judea, or those of the Roman empire only. It proves, it is true, a hyperbolical use of the term in both instances; but this cannot be urged in the case before us: for,—
1. The elect are never called “the world” in Scripture; but are distinguished from it. “I have chosen you out of the world; therefore the world hateth you.”
2. The common division of mankind, in the New Testament, is only into two parts; the disciples of Christ, and “the world.” “If ye were of the world, the world would love its own.” “Ye are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.”
3. When the redemption of Christ is spoken of, it often includes both those who had been chosen out of the world, and those who remained still of the world. “And you hath he reconciled,” say the apostles to those that had already believed; and as to the rest, “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed to us the word of reconciliation,” plainly that they might beseech this “world” to be reconciled to God: so that both believers and unbelievers were interested in the reconciling ministry, and the work of Christ. “And he is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only; but also for the sins of the whole world:” words cannot make the case plainer than these, since this same writer, in the same epistle, makes it evident bow he uses the term “world,” when he affirms that “the world lieth in wickedness,” in contradistinction to those who knew that they were “of GOD.”
4. In the general commission before quoted, the expression “world” is connected with universal terms which carry it forth into its utmost latitude of meaning. “Go ye into ALL the world, and preach the Gospel (the good news) to every creature;” and this too in order to his believing it, that he may be saved; “he that believeth shall be saved; and he that believeth not (this good news preached to him that he might be saved) shall be damned.”
5. All this is confirmed from the gross absurdity of this restricted interpretation when applied to several of the foregoing passages. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoso. ever believeth in him should not perish.” Now, if the world here means the elect world, or the elect not yet called out of it, then it is affirmed, that “whosoever,” of this elect body, believeth shall not perish; which plainly implies, that some of the elect might not believe, and therefore perish, contrary to their doctrine. This absurd consequence is still clearer from the verses which immediately follow. John iii, 17, 18, “For God sent not his Son into the world, to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already.” Now here we must take the term “world,” either extensively for all mankind or limitedly for the elect. If the former, then all men “through him may be saved,” but only through faith: he therefore, of this world that believeth may be saved; but he of this world that believeth not is condemned already.” The sense is here plain and consistent; but if, on the other hand, we take “the world” to mean the elect only, then he of this elect world that believeth may be saved, and he of the elect world that “believeth not is condemned;” so that the restricted interpretation necessarily supposes, that elect persons may remain in unbelief, and be lost. The same absurdity will follow from a like interpretation of the general commission. Either “all the world” and “every creature,” mean every man, or the elect only. If the former, it follows, that he of this “world,” any individual among those included in the phrase,” every creature,” who believes, “shall be saved,” or, not believing, “shall be damned:” if the latter, then he of the elect, any individual of the elect, who believes, “shall be saved,” and any individual of the elect who believes not, “shall be damned.” Similar absurdities might be brought out from other passages; but if these are candidly weighed, it will abundantly appear, that texts so plain and explicit cannot be turned into such Consequences by any true method of interpretation, and that they must, therefore, be taken in their obvious sense, which unequivocally expresses the universality of the atonement.
It has been urged, indeed, that our Lord himself says, John xvii, 9, “I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me.” But will they here interpret “the world” to be the world of the elect? if so, they cut even them off from the prayers of Christ. But if by “the world” they would have us understand the world of the non-elect, then they will find that all the prayers which our Lord puts up for those whom “the Father hath given him,” had this end, “that they” the non-elect “‘world,’ may believe that thou hast sent me,” verse 21: let them choose either side of the alternative The meaning of this passage is, however, made obvious by the context. Christ, in the former part of his intercession, as recorded in this chapter, prays exclusively, not for his Church in all ages, but for his disciples then present with him; as appears plain from verse 12, “While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name:” but he was only with his first disciples, and for them he exclusively prays in the first instance; then, in verse 20, he prays for all who, in future, should believe on him through their words.; and he does this in order that “the world might believe.” Thus “the world,” in its largest sense, is not cut off, but expressly included in the benefits of this prayer.
John x, 15, “I lay down my life for the sheep,” is also adduced, to prove that Christ died for none but his sheep. But the consequence will not hold; for there is no inconsistency between his having died for them that believe, and also for them that believe not. Christ is said to be “the Saviour of all men, and especially of them that believe;” two propositions which the apostle held to be perfectly consistent. The very context shows that Christ laid down his life for others beside those whom in that passage, he calls “the sheep.” The sheep here intended, as the discourse will show, were those of the Jewish “fold;” for he immediately adds, “other sheep I have, which are not of this fold,” clearly meaning the Gentiles: “them must I bring.” He, therefore, laid down his life for them also; for the sheep in the fold, who “knew his voice, and followed him,” and for them out of the fold, who still needed “bringing in ;“ even for “the lost, whom he came to seek and save,” which is the character of all mankind: “all we like sheep have gone astray ;“ and “the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
A restrictive interpretation of the first two classes of texts we have quoted above, may then be affirmed directly and expressly to contradict the plainest declarations of God’s own word. For, it is not true, upon this interpretation that God loved” the world,” if the majority he loved not; nor is it true that Christ was not “sent to condemn the world,” if he was sent even to enhance its condemnation; nor that the Gospel, as the Gospel, can be preached “to every creature,” if to the majority it can not be preached as “good tidings of great joy to all people;” for it is sad and doleful tidings, if the greater part of the human race are shut out from the mercies of their Creator. If, then, in this interpretation there is so palpable a contradiction of the words of inspiration itself, the system which is built upon it cannot be sustained.
As to the texts which we have urged, as necessarily implying the unrestricted extent of the death of Christ, the usual answers to those which speak of Christ having died for them that perish, may be briefly examined. “Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died,” Rom. xiv, 15. Him, says Poole, (Annotations,) for whom, “in the judgment of charity,” we are to presume Christ died. To say nothing of the danger of such unlicensed paraphrases, in the interpretation of Scripture, it is obvious that this exposition entirely annuls the motive by which the apostle enforces his exhortation. Why are we not to be an occasion of sin to our brother? The answer is, lest we “destroy him;” and, in the parallel place, 1 Cor. viii, 11, lest “he perish.” But what is the aggravation of the offence? Truly that “Christ died for him;” and so we have no tenderness for a soul on whom Christ had so much compassion as to die for his salvation Let the text then be tried, as paraphrased by Poole and other Calvinists: “Destroy not him, for whom, in the judgment of charity, it may be concluded, Christ died ;“ and it turns the motive the other way. For if I admit that none can be destroyed for whom Christ died, then, in proportion to the charity of my judgment, that any individual is of this number, I may be the less cautious of ensnaring his conscience in indifferent matters, since at least, this is certain, that he cannot perish, and I cannot be guilty of the aggravated offence of destroying him who was an object of the compassion of Christ. Who can suppose that the apostle would thus counteract his own design? or that be should seriously admonish his readers not to do that which was impossible, if, in fact, he taught them that Christ died only for the elect; and that they for whom he died, could never perish? Another commentator, of the same school, explains this as a caution against doing that which had a “tendency to the ruin of one for whom Christ died; not that it implies, that the weak brother would actually perish” (Rev. T. Scott’s Notes.) But in this case, also, as it is assumed, that it was a doctrine taught by St. Paul, and received by the Churches to whom he wrote, that the elect could not perish, the motive is taken away upon which the admonition is grounded. For if the persons to whom the apostle wrote, knew that the weak brother, for whom Christ died, could not perish, then nothing which they could do had any “tendency” to destroy him. It might injure him, disturb his mind, lead him into sin, destroy his comforts; all, or any of which, would have been appropriate motives on which to have urged the caution: but nothing can have even a tendency to destroy him whose salvation is fixed by an unalterable decree. Mr. Scott is, however, evidently not satisfied with his own interpretation; and gives a painful example of the influence of a preconceived system in commenting upon Scripture, by charging the apostle himself with careless writing. “We may, however, observe, that the apostles did not write in that exact, systematical style which some affect, otherwise they would scrupulously have avoided such expressions.” This is rather in the manner of Priestley and Belsham, than that of an orthodox commentator; but it does homage to the force of truth by turning away from it, and by tacitly acknowledging that the Scriptures cannot be Calvinistically interpreted. The same commentators, following, as they do, in the train of the Calvinistic divines in general, may furnish, also, the answer to the argument, from 2 Peter ii, 1, “Denying the Lord that bought them, and bringing upon themselves swift destruction.” Poole gives us three interpretations: the first is, “the Lord that bought Israel out of Egypt;” as though St. Peter could be speaking of the Mosaic, and not of the Christian redemption; and as though the Judaizing teachers, supposing the apostle to speak of them, denied the God of the Jews, when it was their object to set up his religion against that of Christ. The second is, that “they were bought,” or redeemed, by Christ, from temporal death, their Jives having been spared: but we have no such doctrine in Scripture, as that the long suffering of wicked men, procured by Christ’s redemption, is unconnected in its intent with their eternal salvation. The barren fig tree was spared at the intercession of Christ, that means might be taken with it, to make it fruitful; and in this same Epistle of St. Peter, he teaches us to “account the long suffering of the Lord salvation;” meaning, doubtless, in its tendency and intention. To this we may add, that there is nothing in the context to warrant this notion of mere temporal redemption. The third interpretation is, “that they denied the Lord, whom they professed to have bought them.” This also is gratuitous, and gives a very different sense from that which the words of the apostle convey. But it is argued, that the offence would be the same in denying Christ, whether he really died for them, or that they had professed to believe he died for them. Certainly not. Their crime, as it is put by the apostle, is not the denying of their former profession, or denying Christ, whom they formerly professed to have bought them; but denying Christ, who had actually bought them, and whom, for that reason, they ought never to have denied, but confessed at the hazard of their lives. Farther, if they merely denied that which they formerly professed, namely that Christ had bought them, and, in point of fact, he never did buy them, they were in error when they professed to believe that he bought them, and spoke the truth only when they denied it; and if it be said, that they knew not but he had bought them, when they denied him, this might be a reason for their not being rewarded for renouncing an error, as being done unwittingly; but can be no reason for their being punished, though unwittingly they went back to the truth of the case.— There can be no great guilt in our denying Christ, if Christ never died for us.
Mr. Scott partly adopts, and partly rejects Poole’s solution of this Scriptural difficulty. But as he charged St. Paul with want of exactness in writing to the Romans, so also St. Peter, in the passage before us, comes in for his share of the same censure. “It was not the manner of the sacred writers, to express themselves with that systematic exactness, which many now affect.” The question is not, however, one of systematic exactness; but of common intelligible writing. Mr. Scott’s observation on this passage, is, “that Christ’s ransom was of infinite sufficiency; and the proposal of it, in Scripture, general; so that men are addressed according to their profession: but that Christ only intended to redeem those, whom he foresaw would eventually be saved.” (Notes on 2 Peter.) On this we may remark, 1. That the sufficiency of Christ’s redemption is not in question; but the redemption itself of these deniers of Christ: he is called “the Lord that bought them.” In that sufficiency, too, Mr. Scott affirms, in fact, that they bad no interest; for Christ did not “intend to redeem them;” on this showing, therefore, the Lord did not “buy them,” which contradicts the apostle. 2. That the “proposal of the benefits of Christ’s redemption is general;” and that men are addressed, accordingly, as those who are interested in it, we grant, and feel how well this accords with the doctrine of general redemption; but the difficulty lies with those who hold the limitation of Christ’s redemption to the elect only, to explain, not merely how it is that men are addressed generally; but how the sins of those who perish, can be aggravated by the circumstance of Christ’s having bought them, if he did not buy them; and how they can be punished for rejecting him, if they could never receive him, so as to be saved by him. This aggravation of their offence, by the circumstance of Christ having bought them, is the doctrine of the text, of the force of which the above interpretations are manifest evasions.
We come now to the case of the apostates, mentioned in the Epistle to the Hebrews, vi, 4—8, and x, 26—31. With respect to these passages, it is agreed that they speak of the ultimate and eternal condemnation and rejection of the persons mentioned in them. The question then is, whether Christ died for them, as he died for such as persevere? which is to be determined by another question, whether they were ever true believers, and had received saving grace? If this be allowed, the proposition is established, that Christ died for them that perish; but in order to arrest this conclusion, all Calvinistic divines agree in denying that the persons referred to by the apostle, and against whom his terrible denunciations are directed, were ever true believers, or capable of becoming such; and here again we have another pregnant instance of the violence done to the obvious meaning of the word of God, through the influence of a preconceived system. For,
1. It will not be denied that the Hebrews, to whom the epistle was addressed, were, in the main, at least, true believers; and that the passages in question were written to preserve them from apostasy; of which the rejection, and hopeless punishment, described by the apostle, is represented as the consequence. But if St. Paul had taught them, as he must have done, if Calvinism be the doctrine of the New Testament, that they never could so fall away, and so perish, this was no warning at all to them. To suppose he held out that as a terror, which he knew to be impossible, and had taught them also to be impossible, is the first absurdity which the Calvinistic interpretation involves.
2. It will not be denied, that he speaks of these wretched apostates, as deterring examples to the true believers among the Hebrews; but as such apostates never were believers, and were not even rendered capable, by the grace of God, of becoming such, they could not be admonitory examples. To assume that the apostle, for the sake of argument and admonition, supposes believers to be in the same circumstances and case as those who never were, and never could be believers, and when he had instructed them that their cases could never be similar, is the second absurdity.
3. The apostates in question are represented, by the apostle, “as falling away” from “repentance,” and from Christ’s “sacrifice for sins.” The advocates of the system of partial redemption, affirm, that they fell away only from their profession of repentance and doctrinal belief of Christ’s sacrifice for sins, in which they never had, and never could have, any interest. Yet the apostle places the hopelessness of their state on the impossibility of “renewing them again to repentance;” which proves that he considered their first repentance genuine and evangelical; because the absence of such a repentance as they had at first, is given as the reason of the hopelessness of their condition. He moreover heightens the case, by alleging, that there remained “no more sacrifice for sins;” which as plainly proves that, before their apostasy, there was a sacrifice for their sins, and that they had only cut themselves off from its benefits by “wilfully” renouncing it; in other words, that Christ died for them, and that they had placed themselves out of the reach of the benefit of his death, by this one act of aggravated apostasy. The contrast lies between a hopeful and a hopeless case. Theirs was once a hopeful case, because they had “repented,” and because there was then a “sacrifice for sins;” afterward it became hopeless, because it was “impossible to renew them again unto repentance,” and the sacrifice for sin no more remained for them: they had not only renounced their profession of it; but had renounced the sacrifice itself, by renouncing Christianity. Now, so to interpret the apostle, as to make him describe the awful condition of apostates, as a “falling away” into a state of hopelessness, when, if Calvinism be the doctrine of the New Testament, their case was never really hopeful, but was as hopeless, as to their eternal salvation, before as after their apostasy, is the third absurdity.
4. But it is plain that theirs had been a state of actual salvation which could only result from their having had an interest in the death of Christ. The proof of this lies in what the apostle affirms of the previous state of those who had finally apostatized, or might so apostatize. They were “enlightened;” this, the whole train of Calvinistic commentators tell us, means a mere speculative reception of the doctrine of the Gospel; they had “tasted of the heavenly gift,” and of “the good word of God;” that is, say Poole and others, “they tasted, not digested; they bad superficial relishes of joy and peace,” and are to be compared “to the stony-ground hearers, who received the word with joy.” “And were made partakers of the Holy Ghost;” that is, say some commentators of this class, in his operations, “trying how far a natural man may be raised, and not have his nature changed:” (Poole in loc.:) others, “by the communication of miraculous powers.” They had “tasted of the powers of the world to come;” that is, they had felt the powerful doctrines of the Gospel, but as all reprobates may feel them, sometimes powerfully convincing their judgment, at others troubling their consciences. “All these things,” says Scott, (Notes,) “often take place in the hearts and consciences of men, who yet continue unregenerate.” These interpretations are undoubtedly forced upon these authors by the system they have adopted; but it unfortunately happens for them, that the apostle uses no term less strong in describing the religious experience of these apostates than he does in speaking of that of true believers. They were “enlightened,” is said of these apostates, “the eyes of your understanding being enlightened,” is said of the Ephesians; and “being turned from darkness to light” is the characteristic of all believers. The apostates “tasted the heavenly gift;” this, too, is affirmed of true believers, “much more they which receive abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness, shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ,” Rom. v, 17. To be made “partakers of the Holy Ghost,” is also the common distinctive character of all true Christians. “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his;” “but ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you.” “To taste the heavenly gift” and “the good word of God,” is also made the mark of true Christianity: “if so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” Finally, “the powers of the world to come;” that is, of the Gospel dispensation, or the power of the Gospel, stand in precisely the same case.
This Gospel is the “power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” Since, then, the apostle expresses the prior experience of these apostates, by the same terms and phrases as those by which he designates the work of God in the hearts of those whose Christianity is, by all, acknowledged to be genuine, where is the authority on which these commentators make him describe, not a saving work in the hearts of these apostates, during the time they held fast their profession, but a simulated one? They have clearly no authority for this at all; and their comments arise not out of the argument of St. Paul, nor out of his terms or phrases, or the connection of these passages with the rest of the discourse; but out of their own theological system alone; in other words, out of a mere human opinion which supplies a meaning to the apostle, of which he gives not the most distant intimation. To make the apostle describe the falling away from a mere profession unaccompanied with a state of grace, by terms which he is constantly using to describe and characterize a state of grace, is the fourth absurdity.
We mark, also, two other absurdities. The interpretations above given are below the force of the terms employed; and they are above the character of reprobates.
They are below the force of the terms employed. To “taste the heavenly gift,” is not a mere intellectual or sentimental approval of it; for this heavenly gift is distinguished both from the Holy Spirit, and from the word of God, mentioned afterward; which leaves us no choice but to interpret it of Christ: and then to taste of Christ, is to receive his grace and mercy; “if so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” Thus the Greek fathers, and many later divines, understand it of the remission of sins; which interpretation is greatly confirmed by Rom. v, where “the gift,” “the free gift” and “the gift by grace,” are used both for the means of our justification, and for justification itself. To “taste the heavenly gift,” then, is, in this sense, so to taste that the Lord is gracious as to receive the remission of sins. To be made “partakers of the Holy Ghost,” follows this in the usual order of describing the work of God in the heart. It is the fruit of faith, the Spirit of adoption and sanctification—the Spirit in his comforting and renewing influences following our justification. To restrain this participation of’ the Holy Ghost to the endowment of miraculous powers, requires it to be previously established, either, 1. That all professing Christians, in that age, were thus endowed with miraculous powers, of which there is no proof; or, 2. That only those who were thus endowed with miraculous gifts were capable of this aggravated apostasy; and then the apostle’s warning would not be a general one, even to the Christians of the apostolic age, nor even to all the believing Hebrews, which it manifestly is. On the other hand, since all true believers, in the sense of the apostle, received the Holy Ghost in his comforting and renovating influences, the meaning of the phrase becomes obvious, and it lays down the proper ground for a general admonition. Again; “to taste the good word of God,” is still an advance in the process of a genuine experience. It is tasting the good word, that is, the goodness of the word in a course of experience and practice; having personal proof of its goodness and adaptation to man’s state in the world: for to argue from the term taste,” as though something superficial and transitory only were meant, is as absurd as to argue from the threat of Christ that those who refused the invitation of his servants should not “taste” of his supper, that he only excluded them from a superficial and transient gustation of his salvation here and hereafter; or that, when the psalmist calls upon us to “taste and see that the Lord is good,” he excludes a full, and rich, and permanent experience of the Divine goodness. Finally, if by the “powers of the world to come,” it could be proved that the apostle meant the miraculous evidences of the truth of the Gospel, it would not follow that he supposes the persons spoken of to be endowed with miraculous powers; but that to taste these powers, was rather to experience the abundant blessings of a religion thus confirmed and demonstrated by signs and wonders and divers miracles, according to what he urges in chap. ii, 4, of the same epistle. The phrase, however, is probably a still farther advance upon the former, and signifies a personal experience of the mighty energy and saving power of the Gospel. Thus the interpretation of the Calvinists has the absurdity of making the apostle speak little things in great words, and of using unmeaning tautologies. To “partake of the Holy Ghost” is, according to them, to have the gift of miracles, and to taste “the powers of the world to come” is to have the gift of miracles. To taste the “heavenly gift,” is to have a superficial relish of Gospel doctrine, and “to taste the good word of God,” is also to have a superficial relish of Gospel doctrine: but how, then, are we to take the term “taste,” when the apostle speaks of tasting “the powers of the world to come?” According to these comments, this can only mean that they had a superficial taste of the power of working miracles!
But as these interpretations are below the force of the terms, so they are above the capacity of the reprobate. “They had, moreover,” says Scott, “tasted of the good word of God, and their connections, impressions, and transient affections, made them sensible that it was a good word, and that it was for their good to attend to it; and their purposes of doing so had produced such hopes and joys as have been described in the case of the stony ground hearers, Matt. xiii, 21, 22.” That Mr. Scott had no right apprehension of the class of persons intended by those who received the good seed upon stony ground, might easily be proved; but this is beside our present purpose. We find in the words quoted above, (and we refer to Mr. Scott rather than to the older divines of the same school, because it is often said that Calvinism is now modified and improved,) “convictions,” “impressions of the goodness of the word,” and purposes of attending to it, ascribed to the non-elect; persons to whose salvation this bar is placed, that, according to this commentator, and all others who adopt the same system, Christ never “intentionally” died for them. We ask, then, are these “convictions, impressions,” and “purposes,” from the grace of God working in man, or from the natural man wholly unassisted by the grace of GOD? If the latter, then what becomes of the doctrine of the entire corruption of human nature, which they profess to hold, and that so strenuously? “In me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing.” By the flesh, the apostle means, doubtless, his natural and unassisted state. Yet how many “good things” are ascribed, by Mr. Scott, to the very reprobate? “Conviction of the truth of the Gospel” was doubtless “good,” and showed, in that day especially, when the prejudices of education had not yet come in to the aid of truth, an honest spirit of inquiry, and a docile mind. “Impressions” are still better, as they argue affection to truth which the natural man, as such, hates; and these are improved into an acknowledgment “of the goodness of the word,” though it is a reproving word, and a doctrine of holiness, and consequently of restraint, To this the merely “carnal mind,” which St. Paul declares to be “enmity against God,” is here allowed not only to assent, but also to perceive with some taste and approving relish. “Purposes of attending to this good word,” are also admitted, which is a still farther advance, and must by all be acknowledged to be “good,” as they are the very basis of real religious attainment. Yet if all these, which, in the judgment of every spiritual man would be considered as placing such persons in a very hopeful state, and would give joy to angels, unless they were admitted to the secret of reprobation, are to be ascribed to nature; then the carnal mind is not absolutely and in all cases “enmity against God;” in our “flesh some good thing may dwell;” and we are not by nature “dead in trespasses and sins.”
Let us then suppose, since this position cannot be maintained in defiance of the Scriptures, that these are the effects of the grace of God, and the influences of the Holy Spirit in man; to what end is that grace exerted? Is it that it may lead to salvation? This is denied, and consistently so; for can such convictions, and desires, and purposes, lead to true repentance, when Christ gives true repentance to none but to the elect? Nor can they lead to pardon, because Christ has not intentionally “died for the persons in question.” Is the end, then, as Poole, or rather his continuator states it, that the Holy Spirit may “try how far a natural man may be raised” without ceasing to be so? If that is affirmed, for whose sake is the experiment tried? Not surely for the sake of the Holy Spirit, whose omniscience needs no instruction by experiment: not for ours; for this, instead of being edifying, only puzzles and confounds us, for who can tell how far this experiment may go, and how far it is making upon himself? This, too, is so very unworthy an aspersion upon the Holy Spirit, that it ought to make sober men very much suspect the system which requires it. Is it then, finally, as some have affirmed, to make the persons more guilty, and to heighten their condemnation? How few Calvinists, in the present day, are bold enough to affirm this, although the advocates of that system have formerly done it; and yet this is the only practical end which their system will allow to be assigned to such an act as that which, by a strange abuse of terms, is called the operation of “ common grace” in the hearts of the reprobate. In no other practical end can it issue, but to aggravate their guilt and damnation, as the old divines of this school perceived and acknowledged. Either, then, their interpretation of these passages affirms a change in the principles and feelings of the persons spoken of by the apostle in this epistle, much above the capacity and power of reprobates, greatly as it falls below the real import of the terms used; or else those who advocate the doctrine of reprobation are bound to the revolting conclusion, that the Holy Spirit thus works in them only to promote and deepen their destruction.
To that class of texts, which make it the duty of men to believe the Gospel, and threaten them with punishment for not believing, and which we adduced to prove, by necessary implication, that Christ died for all men, it has been replied, that it is the duty of all men to believe the Gospel, whether they are interested in the death of Christ or not; and that they are guilty and deserving of punishment for not believing it. By this argument it is conceived, that all such passages are made consistent with the doctrine of the limited extent of the death of Christ.
On both sides, then, it is granted, that it is the bounden duty of all men who hear the Gospel to believe it, and that the violation of this duty induces condemnation; but if Christ died not for all such persons, we think it is plain, that it cannot be their duty to believe the Gospel; and if this can be established, then does the Scriptural principle of the obligation of all men to believe, which is acknowledged on both sides refute all limitation of the extent of Christ’s atonement.
To settle this point it is necessary to determine what is meant by believing the Gospel. Some writers in this controversy seem to take it only in the sense of giving credit to the Gospel as a Divine revelation; and not for accepting and trusting in it in order to salvation. But we have, in the New Testament, no such division of the obligation of believing into two distinct duties, one laid upon one class of persons, and the other upon another class. So far from this, the faith which the Gospel requires of all, is trust in the Gospel ;—“ repentance toward God, and faith (trust) in our Lord Jesus Christ.” Will any say, that when all men are commanded “every where to repent,” two kinds of repentance are intended, one ineffectual, the other effectual; one to death, the other to life? And if not, will he contend that God commands one kind of faith to some, a faith which cannot lead to salvation, another kind of faith, which does lead to salvation to others? that he commands a dead faith to the reprobate, a living faith to the elect? For, according to the intention of the command, such must be the duty; and if it is the duty of the reprobate to believe with the mere faith of assent, which, as to them, is dead, then no more was ever required of them, in the intention of GOD, than this dead faith. But if men will affirm this, they must show us such a restricted and modified command from God; and they must point out, in the commands which we have to believe in Christ, such a distinction of the obligation of believing into a higher and lower duty. There is no such modified command, and there is no such distinction; but, on the contrary, the faith which is required of all is that, and not less than that, whereof cometh salvation; for with remission of sins and salvation it is constantly connected. “He that believeth shall be saved.” “Whosoever believeth on him shall not perish.” “That believing ye might have life through his name.” “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” The faith, then, required of all, is true faith; true faith following true repentance, the trust of a true penitent in the sacrifice of Christ as offered for his sins, that he may be forgiven, and received into the family of GOD.
If this, then, be the faith which is required of all who hear the Gospel, it is not, and cannot be the duty, of those to believe the Gospel in the Scriptural sense of believing, for whom Christ died not. 1. Because it is impossible, and God cannot command a thing impossible, and then punish men for not doing it; for this contradicts all notions of justice and benevolence. Nor does it alter the case whether the impossibility arises from a positive necessitating decree, or from withholding the aid necessary to enable them to comply with the command; such persons as those for whom Christ died not, never had, and never can have, the power to exercise the saving faith which is enjoined upon them; and being impossible to them, it never could be the subject of express command and obligation as to them; which nevertheless it is. 2. Because, according to the Calvinistic opinion, it is not in the intention of God that they should believe and be saved: what, therefore, he never intended, he could not command; and yet he has plainly commanded it. 3. Because what all are bound to believe or trust in, is true: but it is false, according to this system, that Christ died for the reprobate, and therefore they are not bound to believe or trust in him, though they are both commanded to believe, and threatened with condemnation if they believe not.
Here, then, is the dilemma into which all must fall, who deny that the necessary inference from the universal obligation to believe in Christ, is, as we have stated it, that he died for all. If they deny the universality of the obligation to believe, they deny plain and express Scripture, which commands all men to believe; if they affirm the obligation to believe to be universal, they hold that men are bound to do that which is impossible; that the Lawgiver commands them to do what he never intended they should do; and that they are bound to believe and trust in what is not true, namely, that Christ died for them, and thus to lean upon a broken reed, and to trust their salvation to a delusion.
This is a difficulty which the theologians of this school have felt. The synod of Dort says, (Act. Syn Dord, part 1, cap. 2, art. 5,) “It is the promise of the Gospel, that whosoever believes in Christ crucified should not perish, but have everlasting life; which promise, together with the injunction of repentance and faith, ought promiscuously and without distinction, to be declared and published to all men and people to whom God in his good pleasure sends the Gospel.” But as some of the later Calvinists found themselves perplexed with this statement, they began to differ from the synod; and, allowing that Christ died for all whom he commands to believe in him, denied that God had commanded all men so to believe. (Vide Womack’s Arcana Dogmatum, page 67.) These divines chose to fall on the opposite horn of the dilemma, and thus expressly to deny the word of God. Others have endeavoured to escape the difficulty by making faith in Christ a command of the moral law, under which even reprobates, as they take it, unquestionably are, and argue, that as by the principle of moral law, all are bound to believe every thing which God hath revealed, so by that law all are bound to believe in Christ, and, failing of that, are by the moral law justly condemned. It were easy, in answer to this, to show, that no man in the state of a reprobate, as they represent it, is under law of any kind, except a law of necessity to do evil; but waiving this, it were as easy to prove, that, because the moral law obliges us, “in principle,” to do all which God commands, the command to the Jews to circumcise their children was a command of the moral law, as that to believe in Christ is a command of the moral law, because, in principle, it obliges us to believe what God has revealed. But should it be admitted that all are bound, by the moral law, to believe all that God reveals, yet, according to them, it is not revealed that Christ died for all; this we contend for, but they contend against: all are not, upon that very principle, therefore, bound to believe that Christ died for them. Farther, those who hold this notion, contend that the moral law commands us to do a thing impossible, and contrary to truth; and thus they fall upon the other horn of the dilemma.
The last class of texts we have adduced in favour of general redemption consists of those which impute the blame and fault of their non-salvation to men themselves. If Christ died for all men, so as to make their salvation practicable, then the fault, according to the doctrine of Scripture, lies in themselves; if he died not so for them that they may be saved, then the bar to their salvation lies out of themselves, and in the absence of any saving provision for them in the Gospel, which is contrary to the doctrine of Scripture.
We enter not now upon the questions of the invincibility of grace, and free and bound will, These will come under consideration in their place; and we now confine ourselves to the argument, as it is grounded upon texts of this class as given above. The common reply to our argument, grounded upon these texts, at least among the more moderate kind of Calvinists, is, that the fault is indeed in the will of man, and that if men willed to come to Christ, that they might have life, they would have life; and thus, they would have it understood, that the argument is answered. This, however, we deny: they have neither refuted it, nor escaped its force; and nothing which is thus apparently conceded weakens the force of the conclusion, that if the bar to men’s salvation be wholly in themselves, it lies not in the want of a provision made for their salvation in the Gospel; and therefore they are so interested in the death of Christ, that they may be saved by it.
For let us put the case as to the non elect, who are indeed the per. sons in question. Either it is possible for them to will to come to Christ, and to believe in him; or it is not. If the former, then they may come to Christ, and believe in him, without obtaining life and salvation; for he can dispense these blessings only to those for whom he purchased them, which, it is contended, he did for the elect only. If the latter, then the bar to their salvation is not in themselves; but in that which makes it impossible for them to will to come to Christ, and to believe in him. If it be said, that though this is impossible to them, yet that still the bar is in themselves, because it is in the obstinacy and perverseness of their own wills, we ask, whether the natural will of the elect is so much better than that of the reprobate, that by virtue of that better natural will, they come to Christ and believe in him? This they will deny, and ascribe their willing, and coming to Christ, and believing in him, to the influence only of Divine grace. It will follow then, from this, that the bar to this same kind of willing, and believing, on the part of the reprobate, lies not in themselves, where the Scriptures constantly place it, and so charge it upon men as their fault, and the reason of their condemnation; but in something without them, even in the determination and decree of God not to bestow upon them that influence of his grace, by which this good will, and this power to believe in Christ, are wrought in the elect: which is precisely what the synod of Port has affirmed. “This was the most free counsel, gracious will, and intention of God the Father; that the lively and saving efficacy of the most precious death of his Son should manifest itself in all the elect, for the bestowing upon them ONLY justifying faith; and bringing THEM infallibly by it unto eternal life.” (Cap. 2, art. 8.) This doctrine cannot, therefore, be true; for the Scriptures plainly place the bar to the salvation of them that are lost, in themselves, and charge the fault only on the wilful disobedience and unbelief of men; while this opinion places it in the refusal, on the part of God, to bestow that grace upon the non elect, by which alone the evil of their natural will can be removed.
Nor is this in the least remedied by arguing, that as Christ is rejected freely and voluntarily by the natural will of man, the guilt is still chargeable upon himself. For, not here to anticipate what may be said on the freedom of the will, it is confessed by Calvinists that the will of the reprobate is not free to choose to come to Christ, and believe in him, since without grace, not even the elect can do this. But if it were free to choose Christ, and believe in him, the not doing it would not be chargeable upon them as a fault. For they do not reject Christ as a Saviour, since he is not offered to them as such; and they sin not, by not believing, that is, by not trusting in Christ for salvation. For as it is not the will of God that they should so believe, they violate no command given to them to believe, unless it be held that God commands them to do that which he wills they should not do; which is only absurdly to say that he wills, and he does not will the same thing. And seeing that his commands are the declarations of his will, if the command reaches to them, it is a declaration that he wills that concerning them, which, on this system, he does not will; mend this contradiction all are bound to maintain, who charge the want of faith, as a fault upon those to whom the power of believing is not imparted.
But the argument from this class of texts is not exhausted. They not only place that bar and fault which prevents the salvation of men in themselves; but they as expressly exclude God from all participation in it, contrary to the doctrine before us, “He willeth all men to be saved;” he has “no pleasure in the death of him that dieth.” “He sent his Son not to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved;” and he invites all, beseeches all, obtests all, and makes even his threatenings merciful, since he interposes them to prevent men from going on still in their trespasses, and involving themselves in final ruin.
Perhaps not many Calvinists in the present day are disposed to resort to the ancient subterfuge, of a secret and a revealed will of God; and yet it is difficult to conceive how they can avoid admitting this notion, without totally denying that which is so clearly written, that God “willeth all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth;’ and that he commands, by his apostle, that prayers should be made “for all men.” The universality of such declarations has already been established; amid no way is left for escaping the difficulty in this direction. The incompatibility of such declarations, with the limited extent of Christ’s death, is therefore obvious, unless the term “will” can be modified. But if God declares his will in absolute terms, while he has yet secret reserves of a contrary kind, (to say nothing of the injury done by such a notion, to the character of the God of truth, whose words are without dross of falsehood, “as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times;”) this is to will that all men may be saved in word, and yet not to will it in fact, which is in truth not to will it at all. No subtlety of distinction can reconcile this. Nor, according to this scheme of doctrine, can God in any way, will the salvation of the non-elect. It is only under one condition, that he wills the salvation of any man: namely, through the death of Christ. His justice required this atonement for sin; and he could not will man to be saved to the dishonour of his jus. tice. If then that atonement does not extend to all men, he cannot will the salvation of all men; for such of them as are not interested in this atonement, could not be saved consistently with his righteous administration, and he could not, therefore, will it. If, then, he wills the non-elect to be saved, in any sense, he must will this independently of Christ’s sacrifice for sins; and if he cannot will this for the reason just given, he cannot “will all men to be saved,” which is contrary to the texts quoted: he cannot, therefore, invite all to be saved; he cannot beseech all by his ministers to be reconciled to him; for these acts could only proceed from his willing them to be saved: and for the same reason, “all men” ought not to be prayed for by those who hold this doctrine, since they assume, that it is not the will of God that all men should be saved. Thus they repeal the apostle’s precept, as well as the principle upon which it is built, by mere human authority; or else they so interpret the principle, as to impeach the truth of God, and so practise the precept, as to indulge reserves in their own mind, similar to those they feign to be in the mind of God. While, therefore, it remains on record, that “God willeth all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth;” and that he “willeth not that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance,” it must be concluded, that Christ died for all; and that the reason of the destruction of any part of our race lies not in the want of a provision for their salvation; not in any limitation of the purchase of Christ, and the administration of his grace, but in their obstinate rejection of both.
 To these might be added all those passages which ascribe the abolition of bodily death to Christ, who, in this respect, repairs the effect of the transgression of Adam, which he could only do in consequence of having redeeming that body from the power of the grave. This argument may be thus stated. It is taught in Scripture, that all shall rise from the dead. It is equally clear from the same authority, that all shall rise in consequence of the inter position of Christ, the second ‘Adam, the representative and Redeemer of man .—“ as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” It follows, therefore, that if the wicked are raised from the dead, it is in consequence of the power which Christ, as Redeemer, acquired over them, and of his right in them. That this resurrection is to them a curse, was not in the purpose of God, but arises from their wilful rejection of the Gospel. To be restored to life is in itself a good; that it is turned to an evil is their own fault; and if they are not raised from the dead in consequence of Christ’s right in them, acquired by purchase. it behooves those of a different opinion to show under what other constitution than that of the Gospel a resurrection of time body is provided for. The original law contains no intimation of this, nor of a general judgment, which latter supposes a suspension of the sentence inconsistent with the strictly legal penalty,”in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”
 The scholastic terms are voluntas signi, and voluntas bene placiti, a signified or revealed will, and a will of pleasure or purpose.