« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
Christ Jesus our Lord; all the triumphs of the Redeemer's kingdom ; all the immense multitudes which no man could number, from every kindred, and nation, and tongue ; all on which the word of God delights to dwell, and for which human language affords the inspired writers no adequate expression ; all, all from the tongue, or from the pen of the Calvinist, is stunted and contracted, dwindles into insignificance, and terminates in the salvation of only a few self-styled evangelical professors of Christianity. The great bulk of mankind, according to them, are despised and overlooked of God. For them God never had a purpose of love or mercy. Of them Christ never thought, for them he never prayed, never suffered, nerer sought their salvation. “Ile died for the elect only.” God passed by others, ordained them to wrath, blinded and hardened them, withheld his grace, and, finally, delivered them over to the power of Satan,” for the accomplishment of his own eternal, infallible, and immutable decree, in their condemnation," to the praise of his glorious justice.”
Now, nothing can be more directly opposed to all the views which we are taught, both by the light of nature and of divine revelation, to entertain of the character of God our Father, than their representations of his feelings and conduct to the human race. As God, he must be a being of goodness, mercy, love, compassion, long-suffering; as a Father, he must be slow to anger, ready to forgive, overlooking the frailties and imperfections of his children. Such both our own hearts, and his holy and blessed Son declare he is. “ He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” What man is there of you, whom if his child ask bread, will give him a stone ? or if he ask a fish, will give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? Now, if these feelings really exist in the divine nature, they must be manifested towards bis erring and guilty creatures, in the happiness--salvation of the many, and the misery-condemnation of the few. But the Calvinist thinks differently. Ile unhesitatingly consigns by far the greater part of the human race to final endless misery. The Scriptures, too, in speaking of the number of the redeemed, lead us to the same conclusion, at which we arrive from contemplating the known and acknowledged perfections of God our Father. They describe the blessed in heaven as “a great multitude which no man could number, taken from every kindred, and nation, and tongue;" but, we have seen that with the evangelical professor of Christianity, this dwindles down to an insignificant fraction. The Scriptures, too, teach, that the salvation of man originated, not in God's wrath appeased, his justice satisfied, the debt paid, an infinite satisfaction made to the Father, for they use, and know no such language. All is represented as originating with the Father. All springs from the Father's mercy, goodness, love. “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” “ He, (God) that spared not his own son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things ?” Now the term God, here, can only mean the Father, for he alone had a son to give, to spare. The Trinity had no son, neither had the Son or Holy Ghost. With God, then, who loved the world, even the Father, and in his own boundless love, did man's redemption originate. This is farther confirmed when we reflect on what the Scriptures teach, respecting our future glory and blessedness. Eternal life is the gift of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. It is a gift neither earned nor purchased, but given of God, not of Jesus Christ, but through him as the one mediator between God and man. Again : “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God.” It is by the Father that we are raised to the high dignity and blessedness of being sons of God; and it is he, who without price or payment of debt, has bestowed this upon us. All then, of glory and of blessedness, and all the means necessary thereunto, to which man by faith looks forward, has originated in the boundless love of God our Father: for ever blessed be his holy name. Now, all this the Calvinist ascribes to the Lord Jesus Christ, in direct contradiction to the plainest and most distinct teachings of the word of God, thereby robbing the Father of that honour and glory which are justly due to him. The Scriptures also ascribe Christ's coming into the world, his sufferings, death, and all the blessings which as Christians we enjoy, to the Father; and they represent these blessings and privileges to be for the benefit of all. God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem those who were under the law. God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved. The Calvinist tells us that “Christ died for the elect only.” But the term world, never in Scripture signifies the elect saints, but very often signifies the reverse, the wicked. But if the Scriptures speak truly that Christ died for all, tasted death for every man, and if God loved the world and gave his Son that wliosoever believeth shall never perish, then the doctrine of the Calvinist is not, cannot be true.
The object of Christ's coming into the world, is, in another point of view, differently represented by the satisfactionist from what it is in holy writ. He declares Christ came to reconcile God to man, to pay the debt to God which the sinner had contracted, to make satisfaction unto the Father for his offended justice, his insulted honour; and thus the demands of law and justice were to be fully satisfied. Now, this, if true, is of all the objects of Christ's coming, every way the most important; and yet, strange to say, the word of God never once makes such a statement. It repeatedly declares, that “God is in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself.” All things are of God, “ who hath reconciled us unto himself by Jesus Christ ;” and men are entreated to be reconciled unto God, but not God to men ; nor do we ever read of an infinite satisfaction made to the justice of the Father, or an infinite ransom paid for the deliverance of the sinner. I do not find, that Christianity anywhere teaches the Christian to pray to God that he would be reconciled to man; but this should be done, if it be true that Christ came to reconcile God to the sinner, and to enable him to do that which he neither could, nor would do, until the last farthing of the debt was paid—liberate the debtor. This doctrine is clearly and distinctly stated in the Con. chap. viii. We there read : “The Lord Jesus by his perfect obedience and the sacrifice of himself, &c. hath fully satisfied the justice of his Father,” 8c. &c. Again, Con. chap. xi. : “ Christ, by his obedience and death, did fully discharge the debt of all those that are thus justified ; and did make a proper, real, and full satisfaction to his father's justice, in their behalf.” This language is not only unscriptural, but, judging from my own feelings, I confess such statements made respecting the Father of mercies—a God of pure, perfect, boundless love-a God who loved sinners to such an inconceivable extent, as to give his only-begotten Son for their salvation-coolly and deliberately made by the very sinners for whom, among others, he gave his Son, appears to me more injurious to the character of God our Father, more deeply blasphemous against his holy and ever-blessed perfections, than is the vilest, and most execrable blasphemies of the greatest blasphemer. The one is done impiously, but often thoughtlessly, often in the heat of passion ; the other deliberately, in the abused but sacred name of God and religion, and yet the justice of God is not, cannot be satisfied. He has received an infinite payment for what cannot be more than an infinite debt: he is paid in full, and yet three-fourths of the debtors are bound eternally in chains, in a dungeon. In former times, when an unfortunate wretch had contracted a debt which he was unable to pay, he might be cast into prison, and there held until death should set the prisoner free; but rather than thus punish, mercy often forgave, and patiently submitted to the loss. Such the Lord Jesus proclaims is the mercy of his and our heavenly Father. “ Thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me, so likewise shall my heavenly Father do unto you." But here is a God, who, according to the evangelical, has no mercy; who will and can forgive no debt. The hard, unfeeling, unrelenting creditor of old could cast his debtor into prison, and there retain him until he died. His conduct is not strange. He was only acting like his God; but with this difference, that with him no misery, no suffering, no death will ever set the prisoner free. He is the only being in all his wide universe, possessed of mercy and benevolence, who will never relent, never forgive; who is glorified, and finds his happiness unaffected and undisturbed by the groans and shrieks of the prisoners, whom he has delivered over to the tormentors," ascending up continually before him. In modern times there are men so punctilious of their honour, so revengeful, so blood-thirsty, that the life's blood of the offender can only appease their wrath. It is not strange. They are only acting like their God. His justice was offended, his honour was insulted; no acknowledgment would avail, no apology satisfy; no retractation, however humble; no sorrow or repentance, however sincere : blood, blood, nothing but the life's blood of the offender, or of one who, though innocent, is said to have generously offered himself as a victim, to save the lives of thousands. The flaming sword of divine justice was unsheathed, and could not again be returned, until the hand of a Father had quenched its vengeance in the blood of his own holy unoffending Son.
But who is this of whom it is said, that no acknowledgment will be of any avail; that “no repentance, however sincere, is to be rested in as any satisfaction for sin, or any cause of the pardon thereof?” Con. chap. xv. ; that nothing but a full and complete satisfaction to his insulted honour and offended justice, made either by the eternal misery of the offender, and all his unborn, and as yet guiltless and unoffending posterity, or the life's blood of a generous “surety," will be accepted. Why it is he, who by his own holy and blessed Son, has commanded his children, “ If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him, and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent, thou shalt forgive him.” And again, “ When ye pray, forgive : for if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Well may his children reply to such a Father, look into your own heart and take the instruction home to yourself; first set us the example, and then expect us to follow. I have heard there are ministers who warn their hearers, not to do as they do, but do as they are bidden. It is not strange. The preacher is like his God. That men, holding such opinions respecting the character of their God, should cherish and indulge in their hearts malignity, revenge, unforgiveness, and even
murder; that the duellist should glory in his premeditated crime; that professing Christians should delight in describing or contemplating the eternal misery of their fellow men ; that all the merciful, longsuffering, loving and forgiving feelings, inculcated by our Saviour, and even his own holy and blessed example, should be utterly valueless, is naturally to be expected as the fruits of such a faith. .'
That those who entertain such opinions respecting the Father of all should, in prayer, approach him with awe and terror-should feel none of that trustful, confiding love, which the helpless, dependent child reposes in a benignant parent-should turn with dread from such stern, unrelenting conduct, and cling, with unshaken affection and confidence, to his more amiable, benevolenty and loving Son, is naturally to be expected. “Through fear, they are all their lifetime subject to bondage." The God and Father of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ they can only contemplate with the trembling fear of the slave, for they behold in his hand the lash of the taskmaster ready to punish. I am free to admit, that in many respects the character of Christ and of the Holy Spirit, the second and third persons of the Trinity, contrasts most favourably with that of the Father, as thus exhibited; and yet, to be each God, the conduct of the different persons composing the Trinity is strangely, at variance. As the Trinitarian looks upon the Lord Jesus as the main object of all his trust, and the great bulwark in defence of the doctrine of the Trinity--for the Holy Ghost is passed by almost unnoticed--we shall see how differently he acts to the human race from his Father. ) All the mockery and insult heaped upon the head of the blessed Jesus he freely forgave. He practised what he taught; not so his Father. He commanded his followers, “When ye pray, forgive.” He too prayed he forgave his enemies---forgave without satisfaction--nay, when dy, ing by their injustice, prayed for their pardon : Father, forgive them, for my infinite sacrifice, my agony on the cross ? No, no; " Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." He thus exemplified, in his own character and life, the feelings he enjoined upon others; not so his Father. Christ our Lord was no hard, unrelenting creditor, refusing to release until the last farthing of the debt wás paid. He freely forgave them all; not so his Father. He dragged not the debtor in chains; he cast him not into prison, or left him, soul and body, in misery and torment, the companion of the devil and his angels. Jesus freely, without sacrifice or satisfaction, sought out the wanderer that had st yed in the wilderness, found the lost one, laid it on his shoulders, bore it back in safety to his flock and fole, and rejoiced more for its recovery than in the ninety and nine that had never strayed. To satisfy the justice of Jesus, no victim died, no