Having considered the biblical basis of the atonement, and having traced the development of its leading ideas in the history of the Church, we are now ready to consider more fully, its nature and extent. The word atonement occurs but once in the New Testament (Rom. 5:11), the Greek term katallaghn from which it comes being usually translated reconciliation. The word is of frequent occurrence, however, in the Old Testament, and is from kaphar which signifies primarily to cover or to hide. When used as a noun it signifies a covering. In theology it is used to express the idea of satisfaction or expiation. This is the sense in which it is used by the most critical lexicographers. In the English language, it is made to cover a wide range of thought. (1) It denotes that which brings together and reconciles estranged parties, making them at-one-ment, or of the same mind.
(2) It denotes also, the state of reconciliation, or the one-mindedness which characterizes reconciled parties. (3) It is sometimes used in the sense of an apology or amende honorable. This is a penitential confession, as for instance, the suffering in connection with the beloved dead, because we cannot make "atonement" to them for the wrongs committed against them while they were with us. (4) The word is most frequently used in the sense of a substitute for penalty - a victim offered as a propitiation to God and hence an expiation for sin. (5) The Old Testament idea as indicated, is that of a covering, and therefore applies to anything which veils man's sins from God. (6) It reaches its highest expression in the New Testament where it is used to signify the propitiatory offering of Christ.
We shall consider in this division, (1) Definitions of the Atonement; (2) The Ground or Occasion of the Atonement; (3) The Vital Principle of the Atonement; and (4) The Legal Aspects of the Atonement.
Definitions of the Atonement. Mr. Watson defines the atonement as follows: ""The satisfaction offered to divine justice by the death of Christ for the sins of mankind, by virtue of which all true penitents who believe in Christ are personally reconciled to God, are freed from the penalty of their sins, and entitled to eternal life" (Watson, Dictionary, p. 108). The definition of Dr. Summers is similar in its import but more specific. "The atonement is the satisfaction made to God for the sins of all mankind, original and actual, by the mediation of Christ, and especially by His passion and death, so that pardon might be granted to all, while the divine perfections are kept in harmony, the authority of the Sovereign is upheld, and the strongest motives are brought to bear upon sinners to lead them to repentance, to faith in Christ, the necessary conditions of pardon, and to a life of obedience, by the gracious aid of the Holy Spirit" (Summers, Syst. Th., I, pp. 258, 259).
Dr. Miley's definition is as follows: "The vicarious sufferings of Christ are an atonement for sin as a conditional substitute for penalty, fulfilling, on the forgiveness of sin, the obligation of justice and the office of penalty in moral government" (Miley, The Atonement in
[The idea of the atonement may accordingly be defined as the solution of a certain antithesis in the very life of God as revealed to man, or the apparent opposition between God's love and God's righteousness. Though these attributes are essentially one, yet sin has produced a tension or apparent variance between these two points in the divine mind. Though God eternally loves the world, His actual relation to it is not a relation of love, but of holiness and justice, a relation of opposition, because the unity of His attributes is hindered, restrained. There exists also, a contradiction between the actual and essential relations of God to mankind; a contradiction which can be removed only by the destruction of the interposing principle of sin. - Martensen, Chr. Dogm., p. 303.
Dr. E. H. Johnson thus summarizes the atonement: "The Lord Jesus, by what He was and is, by what He did and bore, has made every provision required by the holy nature of God and the fallen estate of man to deliver men from 'sin, its penalties and its power." - Johnson, Outline of Syst. Th., p. 223.]
Christ, p. 23). Dr. Pope does not give a condensed definition of the atonement, but summarizes his position in the following statement: "The teaching of the scripture on this subject may be summed up as follows: The finished work, as accomplished by the Mediator himself, in His relation to mankind, is His divine-human obedience regarded as an expiatory sacrifice: the atonement proper. Then it may be studied in its results to God, as to God and man, and as to man. First, it is the supreme manifestation of the glory and consistency of the divine attributes; and, as to this, is termed the righteousness of God. Second, as it respects God and man, it is the reconciliation, a word which involves two truths, or rather one truth under two aspects: the propitiation of the divine displeasure against the world is declared; and therefore the sin of the world is no longer a bar to acceptance. Third, in its influence on man, it may be viewed as redemption: universal as to the race, limited in its process and consummation to those who believe" (Pope, Compend. Chr. Th., II, p. 263). These definitions set forth the main factors in the atonement.
The Ground or Occasion of the Atonement. "We believe that Jesus Christ, by His sufferings, by the shedding
[We have in our possession, an article entitled "The Methodist Doctrine of the Atonement," by Dr. J. J. Tigert, published in the Methodist Quarterly Review, April, 1884. This gives one of the best comparative studies of the atonement which we have seen. Dr. Tigert compares Dr. Miley's theory with that held by Dr. Summers and Dr. Pope. In this article the following comparisons, or contrasts are made. In his definition of the atonement, Dr. Summers calls it a satisfaction made to God, which form of expression Dr. Miley not only excludes, but carefully avoids, and stringently opposes since he identifies the theory of satisfaction with the penal substitution theory. Again, Dr. Summers gives the atonement relation to original as well as actual sin, as is done in the second article of the creed. This Dr. Miley's definition ignores, and his whole essay does not touch the question except when he glances at the relation of the atonement to infant salvation. Furthermore, Dr. Summers makes the atonement to consist of the entire mediation of Christ, especially of His sufferings and death, while Dr. Miley speaks only of vicarious sufferings, though he is doubtless in accord with Dr. Summers as is evinced by his masterly treatment of the great passage in the second chapter of Philippians.
Dr. Raymond states his position as follows: "The death of Christ is declarative; is a declaration that God is a righteous Being and a righteous Sovereign. It satisfies the justice of God, both essential and rectoral, in that it satisfactorily proclaims them and vindicates them by fully securing their ends - the glory of God and the welfare of His creatures." - Raymond, Syst. Th., II, p. 259.]
of His own blood, and by His meritorious death on the cross, made a full atonement for all human sin, and that this atonement is the only ground of salvation, and that it is sufficient for every individual of Adam's race." (Creed: Article IV.) Article II of the Twenty-five Articles as revised by Mr. Wesley, states the purpose of the incarnation in these words: "The Son, who is the Word of the Father, the very and eternal God, of one substance with the Father, took man's nature in the womb of the virgin; so that two whole and perfect natures, that is to say, the Godhead and manhood, were joined together in one person, never to be divided, whereof is one Christ, very God and very man, who truly suffered, was crucified, dead and buried, to reconcile the Father to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for the actual sins of men." The ground or the occasion of the atonement then, is the existence in the world of both original and actual sin, together with the necessity for propitiation. As we have previously indicated, it may be said to be grounded in three necessities: (1) the nature and claims of the Divine Majesty; or the propitiatory idea; (2) the upholding of the authority and honor of the Divine Sovereign, or the governmental idea; and (3) the bringing to bear upon the sinner, the strongest possible motive to repentance, or the moral influence theory.
1. The atonement is grounded in the nature and claims of the Divine Majesty. The nature of God is holy love. In our discussion of the moral attributes (Vol. I, pp. 365ff), we pointed out that holiness as it relates to
[There are three views of the atonement in Scripture. It is sometimes regarded as the result of a mystery that had been transacted in the divine mind before its manifestation in time. Sometimes, again, it is exhibited as a demonstration of God's love to mankind, and self sacrifice in Christ for their sake: as it were to move the hearts of men with hatred of sin and desire to requite so much mercy. Strictly speaking, this is not given as an explanation of the atonement. The New Testament does not sanction the idea that our Lord's self-sacrifice is made an argument with sinners....Lastly, it is set forth as an expedient for upholding the dignity of the Ruler of the universe and Administrator of law. These three views, or to use modern language, theories of the atonement are combined in the Scriptures: neither is dwelt upon apart from the rest. The perfect doctrine includes them all. Every error springs from the exaggeration of one of these elements at the expense of the others. - Pope, Compend. Chr. Th., II, p. 280.]
the Father, expresses the perfection of moral excellence, which in Him exists unoriginated and underived; while love is that by which He communicates Himself, or wills a personal fellowship with those who are holy, or capable of becoming holy. By His very nature, He could have no fellowship with sinful beings; and yet His love yearned for the creatures which He had made. Sin rent the heart of God. We may now enter more fully into the profound truth, that sin made man an orphan and left God bereaved. His holiness prevented sinful man from approaching Him, while His love drew the sinner to Him. Propitiation became necessary in order to furnish a common ground of meeting, if holy fellowship was again to be established between God and man. The thought of drawing near is involved in the very nature of propitiation. God himself provided the propitiatory offering. Holy love devised the plan. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins (I John 4:10). The Son voluntarily offered himself to do the will of the Father. To His distressed disciples on the way to Emmaus He said, Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? (Luke 24:26). The atonement, therefore, had its origin in God, and propitiation satisfies the infinite depths of His nature as holy love. That propitiation is intended to satisfy the vindictiveness of a wrathful Being, is the false charge of those who would make the nature of God to consist in benevolence instead of holy love, and who, therefore, exalt His goodness to the disparagement of His holiness. Hold firmly to the nature
[The expression, the "wrath of God," simply embodies this truth, that the relations of God's love to the world are unsatisfied, unfulfilled. The expression is not merely anthropopathic, it is an appropriate description of the divine pathos necessarily involved in the conception of a revelation of love restrained, hindered, and stayed through unrighteousness. For this wrath is holy love itself, feeling itself so far hindered because they have turned away from its blessed influence whom it would have received into its fellowship. This restrained manifestation of love, which in one aspect of it may be designated wrath, in another aspect is called grief, or distress, in the Holy Spirit of love; and wrath is thus turned into compassion. It is only when the wrath of God is allowed that any mention can be made of His compassion. - Martensen, Chr. Dogm., p. 303.]
of God as holy love, and propitiation becomes the deepest fact of the atonement.
2. The atonement is also grounded in a governmental necessity. God as the infinite moral Being, is characterized by the absolute and essential principles of the true, the right, the perfect and the good. These cannot be abrogated, altered or set aside. He has created a race of beings endowed with the same principles of rational intuition. Moral law, therefore, becomes imperative, and moral government a necessity. As moral Governor, God cannot dispense with the sanctions of those eternal and immutable laws under which alone, His creatures can exist. To repeal the sanctions would be to break down the distinctions between right and wrong, give license to sin, and introduce chaos into a world of order and beauty. God cannot, therefore, set aside the execution of the penalty. He must either inflict retributive justice upon the sinner himself, or maintain public justice by providing a substitute. The governmental theory of the atonement, therefore, makes prominent the sacrifice of Christ as a substitute for penalty. It maintains that the death on the cross marked God's displeasure against sin, and therefore upholds the divine majesty and makes possible the forgiveness of sins. On
[Dr. Summers presents this phase of the atonement in a strong statement as follows: "Mankind constitute a species: all are 'made of one blood'; they are viewed as a solidarity; all were seminally contained in the primal pair. When our first parents fell, the species fell. If the penalty of the law had been enforced the species would have been cut off. To prevent this disastrous result the atonement was provided. This secured the perpetuation of the species. But it did not so take effect that Adam's posterity are not born in sin. They all partake of his fallen nature. The depravity of mankind is inherited, inherent, universal. But as it would be unjust and cruel to bring multiplied millions of responsible and immortal beings into existence, in this miserable condition, without furnishing them a remedy, the atonement was so devised as to meet all the demands of the case. There is no inherited and inherent depravity in man for which atonement has not been made by Christ. But with the nature they possess and the influences brought to bear upon them, actual, personal transgressions will certainly be committed by them, and this liability to sin will remain as long as they remain in their probationary state. Hence, it were better for them that they had never been born - that everyone had died seminally, as he sinned seminally, in Adam - than that they should be brought into the world with this liability to actual sin, if no provision were made to reach the case; therefore, the atonement is made 'not only for original guilt, but also for the actual sins of men'." - Summers, Syst. Th., I, pp. 261, 262.]
this theory, the sacrifice of Christ is regarded as the substitute for public rather than retributive justice.
3. The atonement is further grounded in the appeal of divine love. Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us (1 John 3:16). Love is the strongest force in the universe. We love him, because he first loved us (1 John 4:19). Love is not only God's appeal to the sinner; it is also a transforming power within him. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love (1 John 4:16-18). The cross of Christ represents at once, the greatest exhibition of God's love for man, and the culmination of man's rebellion against God. Those who view this cross from the standpoint of rebellion shall feel the weight of its eternal condemnation; those who view it from the standpoint of love, find Him to be the propitiation for their sins, and not only so, but also for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2).
The Vital Principle of the Atonement. We must consider the atonement also, as God's method of becoming immanent in a sinful race. We distinguish here between metaphysical and ethical immanence. God is everywhere present in nature; and in so far as his bodily and spiritual constitution are concerned, is immanent in man also. This is the deep meaning of the Apostle
[Dr. Sheldon points out that the governmental theory has great advantage over the judicial in that it holds that the work of Christ instead of satisfying distributive justice for any man or number of men, established simply a suitable basis for the proffer of salvation to all men upon equal conditions. But he indicates also that it is quite possible to push the theory too far. He insists that there is no occasion for any disjunction between the personal and governmental in God. In self-consistency He is in the identical plane as Moral Ruler and Divine Person. What is agreeable to His feeling in the one character is agreeable to that feeling in the other. If the ends of good government forbid an unconditional display of indulgence, so also does His personal holiness and justice. He concludes that the governmental theory ought to be so modified in so far as it gives place to the anthropomorphic conception that God is other in His governmental position than He is in His intrinsic nature, or that there is only a lax connection between the two. (Cf. Sheldon, Syst. Chr. Doct., pp. 399, 400).]
Paul when he says, in him we live, and move, and have our being (Acts 17:28). This immanence is not pantheistic. Man is not a mode of the divine existence. He has substantial being in himself, having been created through the Divine Word. But God is not immanent in man's sin or guilt consciousness. Sin has separated between them. And yet, if man is to become God's spiritual son, this divine immanence must be re-established. There must come into his innermost consciousness, the Spirit of His Son, crying, Abba, Father (Gal. 4:6). This vital element in the atonement can be brought back into the race only through Jesus Christ. We may further consider this principle under the following aspects:
1. The pre-existent Logos is the ground of unity between Christ and the race, and therefore a fundamental factor in the atonement. As Romans 3:24-26 most completely sets forth the atonement from its God-ward and ethical side, so Colossians 1:14-22 most perfectly expresses the cosmical or metaphysical relations between God and man. St. Paul introduces the subject by a reference to the redemptive power of Christ, and then describes His cosmical relations to the world and man as the pre-existent Logos. Christ is the image of the invisible God, the first born of every creature: for by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the first born from the dead; that in all things he might have the pre-eminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; and, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself: by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven (Col. 1:15-20). Here we have given us, the metaphysical ground of the atonement, in the relations of the Logos to the race. These relations are the closest that can possibly exist short of pantheistic identification. Mankind as a race depends upon Him, (1) for its origin (through the creative Word); (2) for its continued existence (consistere, to stand together, or subsist); (3) for its goal or purpose (all things were made for him); and (4) for its completion or perfection (that He might have the preeminence). These relations, it will be seen, are all-inclusive up to the point of His interposition for the redemption of mankind. Certainly they are deep enough, and wide enough to lay a foundation for anything the Logos may undertake in behalf of men. It is on the ground of this solidarity of the God-man and the race of mankind, or His consubstantiality with us, that it is possible for Him to become a true Representative of the race, and, therefore, bear the penalty due its sin; and (5) having become incarnate, He brings back into the race, the Spirit, of which it had been deprived - the Spirit of life and holiness. Becoming immanent in the race, Christ becomes the efficient ground of both our justification and our sanctification.
2. The Incarnate Logos, or the Word made flesh, represents this vital principle of the atonement in another aspect. What He now undertakes in this immanent relation to mankind, has particular reference to the redemption of the race whose nature He has
[Dr. Johnson states, that while we need not be embarrassed by the speculative realism of the scholastics, there is nevertheless, a scientific realism which sees in human nature the common basis of all human existence - a universalia in re, a realism which finds in Christ's assumption of our nature, the condition of bearing our evils, and even of drawing more closely that earlier and divine bond, by virtue of which, personally He might stand in our place before God....Natural science is essentially realistic. The descent of individuals from a common origin, testifies that species is more than succession of individuals; it is an entity perpetuated through individuals. The real existence of species is testified positively by the persistence of type, negatively by the uniform inability of animal hybrids to perpetuate a breach of type. This physical evidence for the entity of race is corroborated by the moral sentiment of solidarity. Nor does it rest solely on the physical fact of a common origin. It would acknowledge as a man a creature just like ourselves from any other world. It is a prudent sentiment because the highest and best of our faculties as earthly beings are the social faculties whose actions knit us together. We are next to nothing except as parts of a whole. In no hazy, speculative sense then, but in conscious and felt reality, human nature is a vast unit, capable of receiving the Divine Logos, and suitable for Him to put on. As He did so, pre-existent relations of His being to ours, made it impossible for Christ to be merely a specimen man, or less than the Son of man, the second Adam, the true Representative of all mankind. - Johnson, Out. Syst. Th., p. 230ff.]
assumed. For this reason it is known as the procuring cause of redemption, when applied to its culmination in the death on the cross. All-inclusive as His pre-existent relations were, there is not one which did not through the incarnation attain a new and higher significance. As the Logos, He was the Creator of all things; as the incarnate Christ, He creates men anew. As He gave existence to the race, so now He gives it life. The unjust objection to the atonement as a transfer of penalty from the guilty to the innocent, loses its force when it is seen that this new Representative is the Creator of all men. We are made in His image; we are constituted persons only in Him. We are, therefore, bound to Him in a unique manner, and this new relationship underlies His whole redemptive work. But the pre-existent Logos not only created the universe and man as a part of it, He has so constituted it also, that it must express the holiness of His nature. This He did by connecting happiness with righteousness, and suffering with sin. Therefore, as the Incarnate One, Christ not only brings life back into the race; but having assumed the likeness of sinful flesh, He must endure also, the penalty which comes from the reaction of God's holiness to its sin.
3. The restoration of the Spirit is a further aspect of this vital principle in the atonement, and is generally known as the efficient cause of salvation. As depravity is a consequence of the deprivation of the Spirit, so the bestowal of the Spirit restores man's inner spiritual relations with God. This is shown (1) in the re-establishment of the moral ideal. Man in his fallen condition perceives the right as an ideal, but finds no way to perform that which is good. Depravity did not root out the
[The second Adam also takes the place of humanity; and His sacrificial work must be looked upon as the actual work of humanity itself (satisfactio vicaria). But our inmost consciousness demands that the righteousness and obedience rendered, should not only be without us in another, but should also become personally our own. Now this demand is satisfied by the fact that Christ is our Redeemer as well as our Reconciler: our Savior who removes sin by giving a new life to the race, by establishing a living fellowship between Himself and mankind. All merely external and unspiritual confidence in the atonement arises from a desire to take Christ as Reconciler without taking Him as Redeemer and Sanctifier." - Martensen, Chr. Dogm., p. 307.]
ideal for which man hungers and thirsts, but it did bring him into the bondage of sin and death. Consequently the moral ideal transcends him. It is beyond his experience at every point. The incarnation, then, must be regarded as the supreme embodiment of the moral ideal in human form. The death on the cross was the overcoming of the principle of sin and death in the race, and the establishing of the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. (Rom. 8:2). Thus the divine immanence through the incarnation, becomes a new life force, operating in an ethical and spiritual manner for the redemption of mankind. (2) Furthermore, the gift of the Spirit made possible the inner reconciliation of the individual believer with God, through sanctification. For both he that sanctifleth and they who are sanctified are all of one (Heb. 2:11). Pentecost is the necessary sequel to Calvary. The atonement made objectively by Christ, is applied subjectively by the Spirit. The historic act issues in personal experience. The atonement became a reconciliation within as well as without. By His incarnation and death on the cross, Christ became one with sinners; in justification and sanctification, He becomes legally and vitally one with every individual believer. Thus through redeemed individuals, Christ builds up a new race after the pattern of His own resurrection.
The Legal Aspects of the Atonement. We have dealt with the vital principle in the atonement as God's immanence in the race, through the pre-existent Logos, the incarnation and the bestowal of the Spirit. There is a legal aspect also. By this we do not mean any artificial or merely external arrangement, but simply that the vital principle is the expression of moral and spiritual law. Upon this view, the atonement becomes the transformation and glorification of law. Two questions arise, (1) In what sense did Christ fulfill the law? and (2) In what sense does He absolve us from it?
1. Christ fulfilled the whole range of moral demand. It was the satisfaction of those laws which were involved in the atoning act itself, or which He encountered in the work of redemption. We may, however, regard the law as a unity, or a single moral demand, in which case we must consider it in at least four different aspects. (1) Christ fulfilled the moral law generally, including the Mosaic expression of it. The principles of truth, righteousness, perfection and goodness were embodied in Him as a perfect expression of the moral ideal. (2) By taking upon Himself the likeness of sinful flesh, He came under the operation of the law of sin and death. Regarded negatively, this is the law of holiness. Christ suffered death at the hands of sinners, and bore in Himself the consequences of their sin. (3) He obeyed the law of filial love and devotion. Though a Son, He was made perfect through sufferings, and in no instance did His perfect Sonship please the Father more than in His vicarious death for sinners. (4) Thus He fulfilled at once the claims of love and of justice.
2. Christ delivers us from the law. But in what sense? Certainly not in the antinomian sense of abrogating all law. Why abrogate that which He came to fulfill? St. Paul gives us the true sense. God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons (Gal. 4:4, 5). The atonement therefore does not do away with the law, but it does deliver men from its legal consciousness by becoming the ground of justification. Thus the idea of justification in the New Testament is lifted above mere external legalism in that it is "by faith." Justification by faith is God's plan of enabling sinful men to pass from the legal to the filial consciousness - a redemption from the law in order to the adoption of sons. This is St. Paul's way of deliverance from Jewish legalism. The faith principle changes the formal and legal side of justification into something vital and spiritual. The vital - life-union is thus combined with the formal declaration and the whole process is lifted from the lower plane of legal bondage, to the new and higher plane of spiritual sonship.
By vicarious suffering or punishment, we do not mean merely that which is endured for the benefit of others, but that which is endured by one person instead of another. The two ideas of substitution and satisfaction necessarily belong to the word in its common acceptation. We have seen, both from the Scriptures and from the history of Christian doctrine, that the idea of satisfaction rests in the twofold nature of Christ as a theanthropic Being. It was upon this basis of the surrender and obedience of Christ that the scholastics built up their theory of merit. Reacting against the exaggerated position given to the church in Roman Catholicism, the Protestant Reformers again fell back upon the teachings of the Scriptures and the early fathers, and Christ alone was made the central principle of redemption. Satisfaction, therefore, was rendered by One who was both God and man. His human nature involved the penal suffering of which the divine was incapable; and the Divine Person gave infinite worth to the sacrifice.
[Dr. E. H. Johnson takes the position that Christ bore our sins (I) Historically, in that coming to recover a revolted race, He declared the law of God fully, and consequently received the full force of sin's opposition. It was a bearing of all sin, not through a reckoning to Christ of our several acts of sin, but by virtue of the fact that the principle of sin as antagonism against God, went all the length against Him whom God had sent (Cf. John 6:29, 3:18). (II) Ethically, Christ bore the sin of the world. (1) As one of the limitations imposed by the human upon the divine in His person, Christ accepted whatever moral evils were compatible with His paternity. The only such evil of which we have evidence was that of temptation. Note how extreme were the temptations in the wilderness renewed at the close of his mission, each corresponding to each, in the suggestion that possibly the cup might pass from Him; in the knowledge that twelve legions of angels were ready to deliver Him; and in the particular satanic challenge of priests and scribes, "Let him now come down from the cross" (Matt. 27:42). That to be thus tempted was inconceivably painful, none can doubt. He "suffered being tempted" (Heb. 2:18). (2) But that union which imposed limitation upon the divine, so enlarged the powers of the human, that Christ bore the burden of human sin upon His sympathies to an extent impossible to man. He felt the extent of the calamity which He sought to repair. (3) A woe for which we cannot with certainty account, and at which He was Himself astonished, deepens the mystery of His death. He lost the sense of His Father's presence. The fact is not affected by the attempted explanations. It is certain that His soul was filled with the horror of "outer darkness." In any case it was occasioned by the sins of men. Human guilt could lay upon Him no further burdens. He had tasted of the second death, and the sacrifice was complete. - Johnson, Out. Syst. Th., p. 230ff.]
Guilt was regarded as of infinite magnitude, in that it was an offense against the absolute holiness of God. Christ as the God-man, was then, the only being capable of making an atonement for sinners.
This argument was sustained by a further reference to the incarnation. These two natures, the human and the divine, were in His person, perfect and complete. His Godhead was neither impaired nor reduced by His personal union with human nature; and His humanity was likewise full and complete, in that no quality was omitted in order to make place for the divine nature. Therefore, in Him, humanity had received God, and God had received humanity. Consequently He represents before God, all that sinful humanity is to God and owes to God; and He represents to man, all that God means to him in redeeming grace. This representation the Scriptures regard as both subjective and vital, and as outward and legal. Subjectively, Christ is perfectly identified with the human race and therefore qualified in every way to be its true Representative; objectively, by His death on the cross, He fully propitiates the divine nature, and thereby expiates human sin. Propitiation, therefore, becomes the dominant idea of the atonement; and this because it is the ground of restored fellowship, is seen to be the deepest fact in holy love. The Scriptures declare of Christ, that He is our propitiation, and through faith in His blood, there is granted the remission of sins that are past (Cf. Rom. 3:25).
The Propitiatory Aspect of the Atonement. In asserting that the propitiatory aspect of the atonement gives us the true idea of satisfaction and expiation, we do not deny that other aspects are involved. But we do hold that these grow out of, and are subsidiary to, the dominant idea of propitiation. We give as our reasons, the following:
1. Propitiation has reference to the divine nature. This nature is holy love. God cannot tolerate sin, nor can He hold fellowship with sinners. This is true, not on the mere caprice of will, but as an essential and eternal verity. For what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? (2 Cor. 6:14). God's nature being that of holy love, He cannot exhibit this love apart from righteousness, and therefore, must maintain the honor of His divine sovereignty. This He does, not from any external expediency, but from His essential and eternal nature. Furthermore, love cannot be exhibited apart from holiness. The moral influence theories, therefore, which overlook the fact that there can be no fellowship between God and man except on the plane of holiness, are to say the least inadequate if not false. There can be no possible objection then, to the governmental idea, if it is not given prominence above propitiation; nor can there be any criticism of the idea of the moral influence, if this be considered as holy love.
That the idea of propitiation is the dominant note in the Wesleyan type of Arminian theology is shown by the following statement, and the appended notes. "Our Savior's sacrifice on the cross finished a perfect obedience which He offered in His divine-human person. This was His own obedience, and therefore of infinite value or worthiness; but it was vicarious, and its benefit be-
[The necessity for propitiation arises out of the separation produced by sin between God and man. As this separation certainly concerns God as well as man, the necessity for propitiation is not only a human but a divine necessity....The living action of God's love in His world has been hindered and stayed by sin; and consequently it hovers round the divine holiness and rectitude as a demand which has not been fulfilled in the world of unrighteousness; a requirement which finds expression in this - that the divine love, which must be manifested actively, must yet remain in abeyance; that God must retain the revelation of His love in the depths of possibility instead of allowing it to flow forth freely....But though we also teach that the essence of God is unchangeable love, we at the same time maintain that the active life of God's love in the world must needs have been interrupted by sin, and that a love, whose holy and righteous claims could not thus be injured and wounded would not be true love. The notion of God's greatness, which considers Him too high to require an atonement, differs nothing from the notion that He is too high to be grieved by sin, that as the atonement does not affect Him, so neither does sin affect Him. We, on the contrary, believe that sin is against God, that it does concern Him, that it disturbs His divine relations toward us, and therefore we cannot rest satisfied with that seeming reconciliation which is effected on earth but not in heaven. He has only a superficial perception of sin who can rest satisfied with it. - Martensen, Chr. Dogm., pp. 302, 305.]
longs absolutely to our race, and on certain conditions, to every member of it. As availing for man, by the appointment of God, it is no less than satisfaction, provided by divine love, of the claims of divine justice upon transgression: which may be viewed, on the one hand, as an expiation of the punishment due to the guilt of human sin: and, on the other, as a propitiation of the divine displeasure, which is thus shown to be consistent with infinite goodwill to the sinners of mankind. But the expiation of guilt and the propitiation of wrath are one and the same effect of the atonement. Both suppose the existence of sin and the wrath of God against it. But, in the mystery of the atonement, the provision of eternal mercy, as it were, anticipates the transgression, and love always in every representation of it has the pre-eminence. The passion is the exhibition rather than the cause of the divine love to man" (Pope, Compend. Chr. Th., II, p. 264).
2. Not only is propitiation concerned with the nature of God as holy love, it involves a consideration of the divine attributes as well. The tendency to exalt one attribute above another, has been the source of much error in theology. If we bear in mind that the attributes are to be regarded as modes, either of the relation or the
[In speaking of the death of Christ as a governmental expedient, Dr. Raymond says, "This theory is objectional, not because it teaches that the death of Christ is a governmental measure, but because it teaches that it is solely that, and implies that it is only one of several expedients that might have been adopted. Beyond all question, the death of Christ secures governmental ends, the same ends as would be secured by the execution of the penalty, and secures them as fully and effectually as the actual infliction of penalty would do, if not more so. But a demonstration that the government of God is a righteous government, or that God is a righteous governor, is not itself necessarily a complete and adequate declaration of God's righteousness. He is just, not only in the administration of law, but is also essentially just in inherent character." - Raymond, Syst. Th., II, pp. 253, 254.
Viewed as His own, the expiatory work of Christ was a perfect spontaneous obedience and a perfect spontaneous sacrifice to the will of the Father imposed upon Him. The two terms may be regarded in their difference and in their unity as constituting the act and the virtue of the atonement. Its worthiness, or what is sometimes called its merit, connects it with the human race, and depends on two other truths: it was not due for Himself, but was the act of infinite charity for man; and that act was divine, both in its value and in its efficiency. The offering of the Redeemer had infinite efficacy for the human race. - Pope, Compend. Chr. Th., II, p. 265.]
operation of the divine essence, it will be seen that they must of necessity be in harmony with each other. There can be no strife between mercy and justice, no lack of harmony between truth and righteousness. Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other (Psalms 85:10). The nature of God as perfection is all-harmonious. Hence every attribute or perfection of His nature sanctions also His law. Wisdom is vindicated in the creation of moral beings, and power in His sovereign righteousness. Truth cannot be set aside. Goodness and mercy have their place. But true goodness cannot allow anything which in the slightest degree connives at sin or reflects upon the holiness of God. Benevolent love is as much concerned in law and order as are justice and truth. Thus the nature of God as expressed in the revelation of His perfections, not only demands, but devises a method of propitiation. "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins (I John 4:10).
An Exposition of the Scripture Terms Used to Express the Idea of Atonement. In our study of the Biblical Basis of the Atonement, we grouped together certain scriptures according to the Greek terms, or family of terms, from which the translations were made. These terms were propitiation (ilasnoV ), redemption (lutrw), and reconciliation (katallassw). We arranged them in this order to show (1) the sacrifice made to God as the ground of redemption, (2) the redemptive price paid for the salvation of men; and (3) the consequent reconciliation effected between God and mankind. It is evident, however, that the word reconciliation, having both a Godward and manward aspect, is in the former sense
[The attributes of God are glorified both singly and unitedly, and in a transcendent manner, by the mediation of the Incarnate. This indeed is included in the meaning of the prayer that the name of God might be glorified in His Son; for that name is not only the triune name, but the assemblage of the divine perfections. Throughout the Old Testament and the New the divine glories, especially those which we may in this connection call the glories of the moral attributes, are condensed over the mercy-seat: receiving from it their highest illustration. There is a gradational display of the eternal majesty. - Pope, Compend., II, p. 277.]
closely related to the idea of propitiation. It is for this reason that Dr. Pope says that "there are two Greek terms, or families of terms, on which hang all the details of the doctrine just laid down: ilasnoV and katallagh are their representatives. The relations of these are clear and distinct in the original scriptures; but they are to some extent confused in our present English translation....Both these verbs have God for the subject and not for the object. The Supreme Being reconciles the world to Himself; it is not said that He is reconciled: this simply gives expression to the great truth that the whole provision for the re-establishment of peace is from above. God is reconciled to man, but in Christ who is Himself God: He therefore is the Reconciler while He is the reconciled. So also the word expiate refers to an act of God: it is not said that He is propitiated, but that He propitiates Himself or brings Himself near by providing an expiation for the sin. Strictly speaking the atoning sacrifice declares a propitiation already in the divine heart" (Pope, Compend. Chr. Th., II, pp. 271, 272).
In Romans 3:25, the word for propitiation is hilastenon (ilasthpion), which is the neuter form of the adjective hilasterios (ilasthrioV ), and when used as a noun, is translated propitiatory or expiatory. It refers to the lid or covering of the ark of the covenant which stood in the holy of holies. This is the place where God manifested Himself, the Shekinah appearing between the cherubim and over the mercy-seat. Here it was that the blood was sprinkled, and consequently it came to be known as the propitiatory or place of atonement. Two things must be noted: (1) the atonement or propitiation was made in the presence of God; and (2) the sprinkling of the blood made possible the exhibition of mercy, and a drawing near to God. The word ilasthrion is by Robinson, and most lexicographers, translated sin-offering, or an expiatory sacrifice. Since the word is used in connection with redemption "through faith in his blood," it shows clearly that both propitiation (ilasthrion) and the redemptive price (apolutrwsiV ) refer to the sacrificial death of Jesus. The atonement, therefore, is the propitiation made, and the price paid down, for the salvation of men. Christ Jesus is the true propitiatorythe divine and human meeting in Him as the one theanthropic person. The sacrifice was His own blood. Beneath that sprinkled blood, mercy is extended to all mankind. All men may draw near in full assurance of faith. Above that sprinkled blood is the Shekinah, the living flame guarded by holiness and righteousness. Zacharias the priest seems to have blended together all the symbolism of the holy of holies in an interpretative passage of marvelous spiritual insight. Being filled with the Holy Spirit, he prophesied saying, The oath which he sware to our father Abraham, that he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life (Luke 1:73-75).
In Hebrews 9:28 we have another expression which clearly shows the expiatory character of Christ's ministry. Here the word is anaphero (anaferw), which according to Robinson means "to bear up our sins, to take upon oneself and bear our sins, i.e., to bear the penalty of sin, to make expiation for sin." The reference is to the active phase of Christ's priestly work. He is regarded as the Offerer rather than as the offering, as Priest rather than as sacrifice. Under the Old Testament economy, it was the function of the high priest to make atonement, or expiation for the sins of the people. By this means they were restored to favor with God, and became the recipients of the blessings of the covenant. So also Christ laid hold of our nature, that in all things he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation [ilaskesqai or propitiation] for the sins of the people (Heb. 2:17). Thus He secured for them the blessings of a better covenant of which He became the Mediator, that is, the promise of the Spirit, and the law written within their hearts. The active phase of Christ's work as propitiator in bringing God near to men, is further set forth by the writer of this epistle in these words, And having an high priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water (Heb. 10:21,22).
In Hebrews 10:10, we have the counter truth, or the passive phase of Christ's work as a propitiatory offering. He is here regarded not as a priest but as a sacrifice. It is the subjective rather than the objective aspect of the atonement. Hence a new set of terms is introduced. These deal not so much with justification or the work of Christ done for us, as with sanctification, or the work wrought in us by the Holy Spirit. Sin as we have seen, not only entails guilt but defilement. In actual sins, there is guilt in the double sense of culpability (reatus culpo) and liability to punishment (reatus poeno). In original sin there is guilt only in the sense of liability to punishment (reatus pono), the guilt of culpability (reatus culpo) having been removed by the free gift of grace. The defilement which attaches to actual sin is known as acquired depravity. This is removed by initial sanctification, which is concomitant with justification and regeneration. The defilement which attaches to original sin is known as inherited depravity, and is removed by entire sanctification. Hence the guilt of sin, whether as attaching to actual or original sin, is removed by the propitiatory or expiatory offering of Christ's blood; while the consequences or defilement of sin - either acquired or original, is removed by the renewing of the Holy Spirit in His sanctifying power. We have, therefore, another set of terms, katharizein (kaqarizein) and hagiazein (agiazein), one applying to the cleansing from guilt, the other to the cleansing from defilement. Thus The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth [kaqarizein] us from all sin (I John 1:7); that is as a sacrifice which removes the guilt of sin by expiation. Again, By the which will we are sanctified [hgiasmenoi] through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all (Heb. 10:10). This latter is the cleansing from the defilement of original sin or depravity, as is shown further by the statement that by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us (Heb. 10:14, 15). Here is a removal of defilement by the renewing of the Holy Spirit in his sanctifying offices.
The last set of terms we shall mention in this connection, are those from which we have our word reconciliation. Here the Greek word is katallassein (katallassein) which means to exchange, or to change the relation of one person to another, generally in the sense of an exchange of enmity for friendship. This is the word from which we have atonement, in its strict literal sense of an at-one-ment, or reconciliation. The word katallaghn is translated atonement in Romans 5:11 by whom we have now received the atonement. In reality, it carries with it the idea of reconciliation, and would have been better so translated. In Hebrews 2:17 to make reconciliation for the sins of the people, the word ilaskesqai may well have been translated atonement, or to be more exact, propitiation. In Ephesians 2:16, and Colossians 1:20, 21, the word used as apokatallattein (apokatallattein) which is an intensive form and signifies to reconcile fully. Dr. Pope indicates that the verb katallassein (katallassain) signifies the virtue of the mediation of Christ as composing a difference between man and God; while katallage (katallagh) applies to the result, or the new relation in which the world stands to God. This term must be given further consideration in a later paragraph.
We have seen that the words propitiation, reconciliation and redemption are used in the scriptures to set forth the atonement, (1) in relation to God; (2) in relation to God and man; and (3) in relation to man. Propitiation deals with the divine aspect of the atonement; reconciliation with the double aspect of its Godward and manward relations; and redemption with the manward aspect. In our discussion of the propitiatory aspect of the atonement, we endeavored to show that the high priestly work of Christ served as the one great oblation both for the remission of sins, and as the satisfaction of the claims of divine justice. We must now consider the atonement as an accomplished fact, that is, as reconciliation and redemption.
The Atonement as Reconciliation. Reconciliation is that aspect of the finished work which expresses the restored fellowship between God and man. It must be viewed, therefore, both in its Godward and manward relations. But since God provided the atonement or propitiatory offering, he must be regarded as both the Reconciler and the Reconciled. Man must also be regarded as reconciled, but this aspect of the atonement is best treated under the head of redemption.
1. God is the Reconciler and the Reconciled. It is sometimes objected that God could not both demand and provide an atonement, but this objection is only apparent. Man was created both as dependent upon God and as a free and responsible creature. The atonement satisfies both of these relations. The Scriptures are specific at this point. All things are of God, who hath reconciled (katallaxantoV ) us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation (katallghV ); to wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling (katallasswn) the world unto himself; not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation [katallaghV ] (2 Cor. 5:18, 19). Here it is said that God has not only provided the propitiatory offering Himself, but He has associated His people with Him in the proclamation, having committed to them the word of reconciliation. Two errors need to be guarded against at this point. (1) We must not regard God as having been angry with us in the sense of a hostility to be overcome by the sacrifice of an innocent victim, for God himself is the Reconciler. (2) We must not suppose that God was induced to feel compassion for man, only after Jesus had by His suffering fulfilled the demands of violated law. It was His love that gave the Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16). Love has never acted more freely than in providing through the incarnation and atonement, the breaking down of all the barriers between man and God. Here it is "love outloving love," a grace that superabounded where sin abounded.
2. The reconciliation refers also to the state of peace existing between God and man. In this sense it is sometimes used as one of the titles of our Lord's work. Thus we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement (or reconciliation) (Rom. 5:11). As Christ is called "the Lord of our righteousness," so also He is known as our "reconciliation" or our "peace" (Eph. 2:14-16). We may say then, that in the Old Testament an amnesty was established, through the forbearance of God (Rom. 3:25); but in the New Testament, this amnesty becomes an established peace. Furthermore, we are to understand that through the vicarious sufferings and death of Jesus Christ, God reconciled the world to Himself, removing from it, as a world, His displeasure. Thus a general peace was established as the basis for God's acceptance of the believer into the rights and privileges of the new order. The reconciliation of individual believers is the acceptance through faith of this general reconciliation, and is therefore always regarded as the revelation of God's mercy in the souls of believers. This St. Paul definitely teaches us. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God [kathllaghmen] by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled [katallagenteV ], we shall be saved by his life (Rom. 5:10). When, therefore, the reconciliation is received in faith, it becomes a personal state of righteousness and peace.
The Atonement as Redemption. The term redemption from lutrow, to buy back, and lutron, a purchase price, represents Christ as buying back, or laying down a purchase price for the deliverance of men from the bondage of sin. Like reconciliation, redemption also has its objective and subjective aspects. Objectively, the entire race is redeemed in that the purchase price has been paid for all mankind. Subjectively, as it applies to the individual, redemption is provisional and is made effective only through faith in the atoning blood. Dr. Pope arranges the terms which apply to redemption in four classes as follows: (1) those in which the lutron (lutron) or ransom price is included; (2) those which mean purchase generally, such as agorazein (agorazein); (3) those which imply only release, as from luein (luein); and (4) those which indicate the notion of forcible rescue, as ruesthai (ruesqai). It is evident that we are more concerned with the first class of terms, since we are discussing the atonement solely in relation to the finished work of Christ. We shall consider (1) the ransom price, and (2) the bondage from which men are delivered.
1. The ransom price is the blood of Christ, although our Lord speaks of giving His life a ransom for many (Matt. 20:28), and St. Paul says, He gave himself a ransom for all (1 Tim. 2:6). Doubtless the sense of these passages is that He laid down His life as being in the blood, and therefore as the God-man, who "being dead still lived" became the ever-blessed Substitute, suffering vicariously in the stead of all men, and making full satisfaction for the sins of the people. The sacrifice which He offered was not the blood of irrational animals, but His own precious blood (1 Peter 1:18, 19). By this one offering he hath perfected for ever [teteleiwken, made a perfect expiation for] them that are sanctified (Heb. 10:14). Therefore those who reject this method of salvation must eternally perish, for there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins. By this is meant, not that God refuses to save any who come to Him, but those who reject the only way of salvation provided, must by virtue of this rejection, forever remain in their sins.
2. The ransom price secured for mankind the deliverance from the bondage of sin. This deliverance is sometimes mentioned as a redemption, (1) from the curse of the law (Gal. 3:13); (2) from the law itself (Gal. 4:4, 5, cf. Rom. 6:14); (3) from the power of sin (John 8:34, cf. Rom. 6:12-23); and (4) from the power of Satan (Heb. 2:15). If we use the expression "bondage to sin" in the broader sense, we shall see the force of the earlier Wesleyan position that we are redeemed (1) from the guilt of sin; (2) from the reigning power of sin; and (3) from the inbeing of sin. The first results in justification; the second in regeneration, and the third in entire sanctification. Thus we make the transition from our study of the atonement proper, to a consideration of its benefits. In closing this section, we need only mention that Christ does not lay down the purchase price merely to redeem us from wrath and release us to our own ways. He ransoms us back into His own rights over us, which thus marks the connection between His priestly and His kingly offices.
Theological Modification of Terms. Our historical survey has given the broader outlines in the doctrinal development of the atonement, and we need now to give only a brief summary of some of the later and more specific changes. (1) Atonement. The word as used in the New Testament is from katallagh which in most places is translated reconciliation. It is, therefore, rather a legal term and in its exact signification is best expressed as at-one-ment, or reconciliation. In theological terminology, however, it has come to mean the whole economy of our Lord's sacrificial ministry, with special emphasis upon the virtue of the sacrifice by which the reconciliation is effected. Theology, therefore, uses the term in its Old Testament significance. (2) Satisfaction. During the Reformation period the idea of satisfaction was added to that of expiation, and was given a specific meaning. It is not used in theology now to express the general idea of merit, but to express the relation which the work of Christ sustains to the demands of law and justice. The character and degree of this satisfaction as held in theology, ranges from the full exaction of the penalty of the law inflicted upon a substitute, through the equivalent of that penalty, or a substitute for penalty, on down to the acceptilatio of the Socinians, who held that forgive-
[Propitiation, from prope, near, indicates in the Bible that the favor and good pleasure of God is attracted to the sinner by the mediation of Jesus. He is the propitiation because in Him God is brought nearer to man the sinner than even to man the unfallen. The fact that holy wrath is turned away through the atoning satisfaction is a secret behind the incarnation: in the very essence of the Triune God. - Pope, Compend. Th., II, p. 275.]
ness of sins was merely by word of mouth without the requirement of satisfaction. (3) Expiation. This term differs from that of satisfaction, in that instead of referring the sacrifice to the claims of the law and the honor of the Lawgiver; it refers it to sin and the sinner. By expiation is meant the doing away with guilt and the cancelling of the obligation to punishment. (3) Propitiation. This term bears almost the same relation to expiation as does satisfaction. The wrath or displeasure of God is propitiated, the sin is expiated. But propitiation differs from satisfaction in its primary significance in that it is not a satisfaction of the claims of justice - for justice cannot be propitiated, but is an appeasement of wrath or an allaying of displeasure. The word comes from prope, meaning near, and indicates that God and man are brought near to each other through the satisfaction of the atonement.
The atonement is universal. This does not mean that all mankind will be unconditionally saved, but that the sacrificial offering of Christ so far satisfied the claims of the divine law as to make salvation a possibility for all. Redemption is therefore universal or general in the provisional sense, but special or conditional in its application to the individual. It is for this reason that the universal aspect is sometimes known as the sufficiency of the atonement. While the claims of reason may anticipate the universality of the atonement, it is to the positive assertion of Scripture that we must turn for our final authority. Two scripture texts taken in their relation to each other, stand out with peculiar distinctness. The first is the statement of our Lord, that the Son of man came....to give his life [juchn] a ransom [lutron] for many [pollwn] (Matt. 20:28). The second is generally considered to be the last statement of St. Paul on this subject, and is evidently a quotation from the previous Scripture. Who gave himself [eauton] a ransom [antilutron] for all [pantwn] (1 Tim. 2:6). Note that each of the principal words is given in a stronger connotation - the life becomes the self, the purchase price, the personal Redeemer, and the many, the all.
The scripture passages bearing upon this subject have already been presented in a general way, and we need here merely to give additional references. We group them according to the following simple outline. (1) Those scriptures which speak of the atonement in universal terms: (John 3:16, 17; Rom. 5:8, 18; 2 Cor. 5:14, 15; I Tim. 2:4, 4:10; Heb. 2:9; Heb. 10:29; 2 Peter 2:1; I John 2:2, 4:14). (2) Those which refer to the universal proclamation of the gospel and its accompaniments: (Matt. 24:14; 28:19; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47. Cf. also Mark 1:15; Mark 16:16; John 3:36; Acts 17:30); (3) Those which distinctly declare that Christ died for those who may perish: (Rom. 14:15; 1 Cor. 8:11; Heb. 10:29).
Arminianism with its emphasis upon moral freedom and prevenient grace, has always held to the universality of the atonement; that is, as a provision for the salvation of all men, conditioned upon faith. Calvinism on the other hand, by its doctrine of the decrees, its unconditional election, and its penal satisfaction theory, has always been under the necessity of accepting the idea of a limited atonement. Thus Turretin says, "The mission and death of Christ are restricted to a limited number - to His people, His sheep, His friends, His Church, his body; and nowhere extended to all men severally and collectively" (Turretin, The Atonement, pp. 125, 126). It should be said, however, that the Calvinistic idea of a limited atonement does not grow out of a belief in its insufficiency; for Calvinists as well as Arminians believe in the sufficiency of the atonement. "All Calvinists agree," says Dr. A. A. Hodge, "in maintaining earnestly that Christ's obedience and sufferings were of infinite intrinsic value in the eyes of the law, and that there was no need for Him to obey or suffer an iota more nor a moment longer, in order to secure, if God so willed, the salvation of every man, woman and child that ever lived" (A. A. Hodge, The Atonement, p. 356). The difficulty, therefore, does not lie in the insufficiency of the atonement, but in their belief in predestination. "By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestined unto everlasting life, and others foreordained to everlasting death" (Westminster Confession). The primary question, then, concerns the doctrine of grace and not the sufficiency of the atonement. We shall, therefore, take up the subject of predestination in connection with our discussion of prevenient grace and effectual calling.
The Benefits of the Atonement. Closely related to the question as to the extent of the atonement, is that of the benefits of the atonement. Within the range or scope of the redemptive work, all things are included, both spiritual and physical. Every blessing known to man is the result of the purchase price of our Lord Jesus Christ, and comes down from the Father of lights. These benefits are generally considered under two main heads, (1) The Unconditional Benefits; and (2) The Conditional Benefits.
1. The Unconditional Benefits include, (1) The continued existence of the race. It is hardly conceivable that the race would have been allowed to multiply in its sin and depravity, had no provision been made for its salvation. Yet had it not been for the divine intervention, the immediate death of the first pair would doubtless have taken place, and with it the termination of their earthly career. (2) The restoration of all men to a state of salvability. The atonement provided for all men unconditionally, the free gift of grace. This included the restoration of the Holy Spirit to the race as the Spirit of enlightenment, striving and conviction. Thus man is not only given the capacity for a proper probation, but is granted the gracious aid of the Holy Spirit. Both of these subjects have been given extended treatment in our discussion of the problem of sin. (3) The salvation of those who die in infancy. We must regard the atonement as accomplishing the actual salvation of those who die in infancy. This we may admit is not stated explicitly in the Scriptures, and in the past, has been the subject of much debate. The general tenor of the Scriptures, however, when viewed in the light of divine love and the universal grace of the Spirit, will allow no other conclusion. When our Lord declared that Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 18:3); and again, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 19:14), there can be no reasonable doubt as to His meaning. Dr. Raymond sums up the generally accepted Arminian position as follows: "The doctrine of inherited depravity involves the idea of inherited disqualification for eternal life. The salvation of infants, then, has primary regard to a preparation for the blessedness of heaven - it may have regard to a title thereto; not all newly created beings, nor those sustaining similar relations, are by any natural right entitled to a place among holy angels and glorified saints. The salvation of infants cannot be regarded as a salvation from the peril of eternal death. They have not committed sin, the only thing that incurs such a peril. The idea that they are in danger of eternal death because of Adam's transgression, is, at most, nothing more than the idea of a theoretic peril. But if it be insisted that "by the offense of one, judgment came upon all men to (a literal and actual) condemnation,' we
[Dr. Fairchild, a Calvinistic theologian, takes this position on the question of infant salvation. "The case of infants dying before moral agency begins is not set forth in the Scriptures. Our ideas on the subject must be wholly speculative, inference from our ethical philosophy. In the first place we can affirm, without misgiving, that such an infant is not a sinner, and cannot need forgiveness; yet he may have a share in the atonement in a variety of ways....If the race had been propagated without an atonement, it would have been a doomed race. No one could be punished without sin; but all, upon attaining responsibility, would fall into sin, and die without hope. We may conceive that the benefit of the atonement reaches the infant in the other world. He passes into that world without an established character of righteousness; he finds himself in the society of the redeemed, of those who in this life have been recovered from sin, and forgiven through the atonement. The character and experience of these saints may be of advantage to him; he may be brought up in righteousness under their care, and thus become directly a partaker of the atonement....Without the atonement, heaven might have been to infants what Eden was to the human race: a place where there was no experience, and where the moral influences were feeble; but received into the family of the redeemed in heaven, these infants are surrounded by all the experiences and moral forces which have accumulated in the Church below and the Church above. Thus the infant, dying before moral agency begins, may have a part in the song of Moses and the Lamb." - Fairchild, Elements of Theology, pp. 165, 166.]
insist that from that condemnation, be it what it may, theoretic or literal, all men are saved; for by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life, so that the condition and relations of the race in infancy differ from those of newly created beings solely in that, by the natural law of propagation, a corrupted nature is inherited. As no unclean thing or unholy person can be admitted into the presence of God and to the society of holy angels and glorified saints, it follows that if infants are taken to heaven some power, purifying, sanctifying their souls, must be vouchsafed unto them; the saving influence of the Holy Spirit must be, for Christ's sake, unconditionally bestowed. Not only their preparation for, but also their title to, and the enjoyment of the blessedness of heaven comes, as came their existence, through the shed blood of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Raymond, Systematic Theology, II, pp. 311,312).
2. The Conditional Benefits of the Atonement are
(1) Justification, (2) Regeneration, (3) Adoption, (4) The Witness of the Spirit, and (5) Entire Sanctification. These must furnish the subjects for our discussion of the states of salvation. Before taking up these subjects, however, we must first give attention to the offices and work of the Holy Spirit as the Administrator of the great salvation purchased through the atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Intercession of Christ. There is another transitional point which needs to be mentioned, in addition to the conditional benefits of the atonement enumerated above. This is the intercession of Christ. The New Testament does not teach that the work of Christ ceased with the coming of the Holy Spirit. It teaches that His finished work of atonement was only the ground for the work of administration, which He himself was to continue through the Spirit. He died for the sins of the past, that He might establish a new covenant; He arose that He might become the executive of His own will. His continued activity consists in carrying into effect through the Spirit, the merits of His atoning death. He ever liveth to make intercession for them (Heb. 7:25); It is Christ that died.... who also maketh intercession for us (Rom. 8:34); and If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1). As a consequence of Christ's intercession for us, the Holy Spirit is given as an intercessory presence within the hearts of men. Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God (Rom. 8:26, 27). The intercession of Christ at the right hand of God, and the intercession of the Spirit within, are in perfect harmony, for the Spirit takes the things of Christ and shows them to us. It is to this rich field of the Holy Spirit's offices and work, that we now turn our attention.