« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
of the influence of the Holy Spirit enlightens, and, if obeyed, would save, us all. Upon these successive positions I will venture to offer a few remarks, and will adduce a selection of scriptural declarations, by which they appear to me to be severally established.
1. That God, to whom alone can be attributed the existence of the universe, and of every thing which it contains," from whom, and through whom, and unto whom, are all things,"—is the Creator of all men, is a point which none but atheists deny, and which I shall therefore take for granted. Now, it is expressly asserted in Scripture, of this omnipotent Author of our being, that he is “Love," I John iv, 8; and again, the character in which he proclaimed himself to his servant Moses was that of “the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth;" Exod. xxxiv, 6. Hence we can scarcely fail to conclude, that, as the Father of the whole family of man, he extends over them all the wing of his paternal care, and graciously offers to them all his help, his protection, and his mercy. It was on this principle, or on a principle still more comprehensive, that the royal psalmist, after describing Jehovah as “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy," calls upon "all his works in all places of his dominion to bless his holy name;" Ps. ciii, 22. And again, on another occasion, he expressly declares that "the Lord is good to all, and that his tender mercies are over all his works ;" Ps. cxlv, 9. The attributes of God, as the Creator and Father of all mankind, were admirably unfolded by the apostle Paul, in his address to the philosophical Athenians: “God," said he, “that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing,
seeing he giveth to all life and breath and all things; and hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him and find him, though he be not far from every one of us; for in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, for we are also his offspring ;" Acts xvii
, 24-28. Let it not be imagined that God is the merciful Father of all mankind, only inasmuch as he makes his rain to fall, and his sun to shine for them all, and
them all a variety of outward and temporal benefits. The Scriptures plainly declare that he wills for them a happiness of a far more exalted and enduring nature. Fallen and corrupt as they are, and separated by their iniquities from the Holy One of Israel," he willeth not that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance;" II Pet. iii, 9. And to all mankind he proclaims the same invitation: “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon;" Isa. lv, 7. The apostle Paul expressly assures us, that “the grace of God which bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Tit. ii, 11, that God our Saviour would “have all men to be saved and come unto the knowledge of the truth;" I Tim. ii, 4. And again, he exclaims, “We trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men;" I Tim. iv, 10. “ Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth;" said Jehovah himself, " for I am God, and there is none else;" Isa. xlv, 22. Nor are these expressions to be understood as being of a merely general and undefined character. He who of
fers deliverance to all men, has appointed for all men a way of escape: he who would have all men to be saved, has provided for all men the means of salvation. “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them;" II Cor.
“ God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved;" John iii, 17.
2. This concluding observation naturally leads to my second proposition, that Christ died for all proposition in order to the proof of which I need do nothing more than simply cite the explicit declarations, on this subject, of inspired writers. “My little children," says the apostle John in his general epistle, " these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And he is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only (that is, not only for the sins of Christians, to the whole company of whom this epistle was probably addressed"), but also for the sins of the whole world;" I John ii, 1, 2. The same doctrine is affirmed by Paul: “There is one God,” says he, in his first epistle to Timothy, “and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time;" chap. ii, 5, 6. We may presume it is the same apostle who writes as follows in the epistle to the Hebrews, “We see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man;" chap. ii, 9. Lastly, in his epistle to the Romans, after declaring that we are reconciled unto God by the death of his Son," and in drawing the comparison between Adam, in whom man fell, and Christ, by whom he is reco
1 See Michaelis, Introd. N. T. by Marsh, vol. iii, ch. 30.
vered, Paul argues as follows: “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; for as by one man's disobedience many (or, as in the Greek, “the many") were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall the many be made righteous. Moreover, the law entered, that the offence might abound; but where sin abounded, grace did much more abound; that, as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord;" chap. v, 18 -21. The complete parallelism observed in this passage, between the effects of Adam's transgression on the one part, and those of the righteousness of Christ on the other, appears to afford a plain and satisfactory evidence for the truth of the doctrine of universal redemption. The two things are described as being in their operation upon mankind absolutely coextensive; and as it is true, without limit or exception, that all men are exposed to death through the sin of Adam, so it is true, without limit or exception, that all men may obtain eternal life through the righteousness of Christ. Multitudes there are, undoubtedly, by whom this free gift "unto justification of life" is despised, disregarded, and rejected. Nevertheless, among the children of men there are none “upon” whom it has not “come”-none to whom it is not freely offered.
3. Since Christ died for all men, and has thus placed within their reach the free gift of justification unto life; since such is the natural proneness of mankind to, sin that none can avail themselves of the benefits of the death of Christ, or receive the free gift of God, except through the influence of the Holy Spirit; and since it cannot, without great irreverence, be
imagined that the mercy of God in Christ, thus gratuitously offered, should in any instances be merely nominal and nugatory in point of fact; I cannot but draw the conclusion, that a measure of this influence of the Spirit is bestowed upon all men, by which they are enlightened, and by which they may be saved.
Christians can have no difficulty in acceding to the doctrine of Elihu, that "there is a spirit in man," and that “the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding,” Job xxxii, 8; nor will they fail to form a just estimate of the words of the Wisdom of God, as recorded in the book of Proverbs, “I will pour out my Spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you;" chap. i, 23. That the Spirit which in these passages is probably alluded to, and which dwelt in the servants of God during the early ages of the world, was that very Spirit, the more abundant effusion of which was the most distinguishing feature of the Christian dispensation—that this Spirit was the true enlightener and sanctifier of men, before as well as after the coming of Christ in the body—and that multitudes of those who lived previously to the Christian era, and whose view of the character and mediation of the Messiah was comparatively faint, were really saved by its influence from the power of sin, and fitted for eternal life,—will not be disputed by any persons who esteem as sacred the records of the Old Testament. Since, therefore, so many persons in those ancient times were saved by the operation of the Spirit of Christ, who for the most part possessed nothing more than an indistinct apprehension of the person and offices of the Messiah, it seems a very reasonable inference, that the outward knowledge of Christ is not absolutely indispensable to salvation, and that other persons, who are altogether destitute of that knowledge, may also be saved from sin, and from the penalties