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Eternal life is given to all who come for it

III. This brings us to the third point: that ETERNAL LIFE IS GIVEN TO ALL WHO COME FOR IT. There never was a man who came to Christ for eternal life, for legal life, for spiritual life, who had not already received it, in some sense, and it was manifested to him that he had received it soon after he came. Let us take one or two texts:- “He is able to save to the uttermost them that come unto him.” Every man who comes to Christ will find that Christ is able to save him-not able to save him a little to deliver him from a little sin, to keep him from a little trial, to carry him a little way and then drop him but able to save him to the uttermost extent of his sin, unto the uttermost length of his trials, the uttermost depths of his sorrows unto the uttermost duration of his existence. Christ says to every one who comes to him, “Come, poor sinner, thou needst not ask whether I have power to save. I will not ask thee how far thou hast gone into sin. I am able to save thee to the uttermost.” And there is no one on earth can go beyond God’s “uttermost.”

Now another text: “Him that cometh to me, (mark the promises are nearly always to the coming ones) I will in no wise cast out.” Every man that comes shall find the door of Christ’s house opened-and the door of his heart too-Every man that comes; I say it in the broadest sense-shall find that Christ has mercy for him. The greatest absurdity in the world is to want to have a wider gospel than that recorded in Scripture. I preach that every man that believes shall be saved-that every man who comes shall find mercy. People ask me, “But suppose a man should come who was not chosen, would he be saved?” You go and suppose nonsense and I am not going to give you an answer. If a man is not chosen he will never come. When he does come it is a sure proof that he was chosen. Says one, “Suppose any one should go to Christ who had not been called of the Spirit.” Stop, my brother, that is a supposition thou hast no right to make, for such a thing cannot happen; you only say it to entangle me, and you will not do that just yet. I say every man who comes to Christ shall be saved. I can say that as a Calvinist, or as a hyper-Calvinist, as plainly as you can say it. I have no narrower gospel than you have; only my gospel is on a solid foundation, whereas yours is built upon nothing but sand and rottenness. “Every man that cometh shall be saved, for no man cometh to me except the Father draw him.” “But,” says one, “suppose all the world should come, would Christ receive them?” Certainly, if all came, but then they won’t come. I tell you all that come-aye, if they were as bad as devils Christ would receive them; if they had all sin and filthiness running into their hearts as into a common sewer for the whole world, Christ would receive them. Another says, “I want to know about the rest of the people. May I go out and tell them-Jesus Christ died for every one of you? May I say-there is righteousness for every one of you, there is life for every one of you? “No; you may not. You may say-there is life for every man that comes; but if you say there is life for one of those that do not believe, you utter a dangerous lie. If you tell them that Jesus Christ was punished for their sins, and yet they will be lost, you tell a wilful falsehood. To think that God could punish Christ and then punish them-I wonder at your daring to have the impudence to say so! A good man was once preaching that there were harps and crowns in heaven for all his congregation, and then he wound up in a most solemn manner: “My dear friends, there are many for whom these things are prepared who will not get there.” In fact, he made such a pitiful tale, as indeed he might do; but I tell you who he ought to have wept for-he ought to have wept for the angels of heaven and all the saints, because that would spoil heaven thoroughly. You know when you meet at Christmas, if you have lost your brother David and his seat is empty, you say: “Well, we always enjoyed Christmas but there is a drawback to it now-poor David is dead and buried! “Think of the angels saying: “Ah! this is a beautiful heaven, but we don’t like to see all those crowns up there with cobwebs on, we cannot endure that uninhabited street: we cannot behold yon empty thrones.” And then, poor souls, they might begin talking to one another, and say, “we are none of us safe here, for the promise was-’I give unto my sheep eternal life,’ and there is a lot of them in hell that God gave eternal life to; there is a number that Christ shed his blood for burning in the pit, and if they may be sent there, so may we. If we cannot trust one promise we cannot another.” So heaven would lose its foundation, and fall. Away with your nonsensical gospel! God gives us a safe and solid one, built on covenant doings and covenant relationships, on eternal purposes and sure fulfilments.

Charles H. Spurgeon- “Freewill- A Slave,” A Sermon Delivered On Sabbath Morning, December 2, 1855

It implies, that they were always exposed to sudden unexpected destruction

Their foot shall slide in due time (Deut. xxxii. 35).

2. It implies, that they were always exposed to sudden unexpected destruction. As he that walks in slippery places is every moment liable to fall, he cannot foresee one moment whether he shall stand or fall the next; and when he does fall, he falls at once without warning: Which is also expressed in Psalm lxxiii. 18, 19. “Surely thou didst set them in slippery places; thou castedst them down into destruction: How are they brought into desolation as in a moment!”

Jonathan Edwards- Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God

Charles Spurgeon’s Letters-Letter 127

TO REV. A. A. REES

WESTWOOD, Mar. 22, 1881.

DEAR FRIEND, —

When you speak of 40 years’ ministry you make me look up to you with reverent awe. Surely you must be getting old. Blessed be the Lord who has upheld you in honor and in strength. I joy and rejoice in His name as I think of His faithfulness to you.

I have had rough sailing of late. This place, above the fogs, is perhaps worse in extreme winter for my disease, by reason of increased cold; but in ordinary times it must be much better; besides I can breathe here and do not feel like being inside a saucepan with the lid on. I feel sure the position with God’s blessing will be a permanent boon to me.

Many thanks for £5 from your thanksgiving. The Lord is with us graciously in this work.

Peace be to you, and all the blessings of the covenant.

Yours ever most heartily,

C. H. SPURGEON.

Duty of Gratitude for Divine Grace: Sovereignty of Grace: Effectual Calling- Book Seventh- Chapter 4- Section 3

Book Seventh

CHAPTER IV.

SECTION III.–EFFECTUAL CALLING.

THE HOLY SPIRIT EFFECTUALLY CALLS ALL THE ELECT TO REPENT AND BELIEVE.[85]

The gospel calls all who hear it to repent and believe. This call proceeds from the Holy Spirit, who qualifies the ministers of the gospel for their work, and gives them the written word. But men resist and disobey this call of the Spirit, and remain under condemnation. “Ye do always resist the Holy Ghost; as your fathers did, so do ye.” “Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted?”[86] “He shall be revealed, taking vengeance on all them that obey not the gospel.”[87]

Besides the call which is external, and often ineffectual, there is another, which is internal and effectual. This always produces repentance and faith, and therefore secures salvation. The former external call is intended in such passages of Scripture as the following: “Because I have called, and ye refused.”[88] “Many be called, but few chosen.”[89] The internal and effectual call is designed in the following passages: “Who hath saved us, and called us with a holy calling.”[90] “Whom he predestinated, them he also called; whom he called, them he also justified.”[91] “Called to be saints.”[92] “Among whom are ye also called to Jesus Christ.”[93] “To them who love God who are the called according to his purpose.”[94] It is not true of all who receive the external call, that they are predestinated to life, justified and saved. Whenever these blessings are represented as belonging to the called, the internal and effectual call must be meant.

We have before distinguished between the direct and the indirect influence of the Holy Spirit. The external call being by means of the written or preached word, belongs to the indirect influence of the Spirit. To render this call effectual, the direct influence is superadded; and the gospel is then said to come, not in word only,[95] but in demonstration of the Spirit and with power.[96] The external call is disobeyed, because men will not come to Christ that they may have life: the internal call operates on the will itself, working in men to will and to do, and rendering God’s people willing in the day of his power. As distinguished from the external call the internal is always unresisted. In the process of conversion, the Holy Spirit is violently resisted; but his resistance is directed against the outward means. The internal grace softens and subdues the heart, and brings it into peaceful subjection to the gospel of Christ.

The internal grace, which renders the outward call effectual, is the grace of regeneration. Hence regeneration, considered as the work of the Holy Spirit, is the same as effectual calling; considered as the change of the sinner’s heart, it is the effect of this calling. The calling is effectual, because it produces regeneration in the subject on whom it operates.

In effectual calling, the Holy Spirit displays his omnipotence. “We believe according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead.”[97] The same power which created the world, and said, “Let there be light, and there was light,” is needed in the new creation of the sinner. “God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts.”[98] “We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works.”[99] “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue.”[100] His power in creating the world was unresisted; and equally unresisted is the power by which he new-creates the heart. The outward means which the Spirit sends may be resisted; but when the Spirit himself comes in the omnipotence of his grace, resistance vanishes.

In effectual calling, the Holy Spirit acts as a sovereign. In bestowing the various gifts which he conferred on the ancient Christians, he acted as a sovereign: “All these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.”[101] He is equally sovereign in giving regenerating grace. “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth.”[102] Grace is sovereign in election by the Father, redemption by the Son, and effectual calling by the Holy Spirit. The discrimination which grace makes among the children of men, first appears in effectual calling. This work of the Holy Spirit leads up, through the redemption of Jesus Christ, to God the Father, to whose electing love we are taught to ascribe all the blessings of eternal salvation. In this reverse order we look back, along the stream of mercy, to the fountain from which it flows. The reverse order is observed in the precept, “Make your calling and election sure.”[103] Our calling proceeds from our election; but we ascertain our election by first ascertaining our calling.

In effectual calling, the Holy Spirit operates on the elect. These are “sanctified by God the Father, preserved in Christ Jesus, and called.”[104] They whom the Spirit calls are “chosen in Christ from the foundation of the world.”[105] “As many as were ordained to eternal life believed.”[106] The Spirit’s effectual calling fulfils the word of Christ, “All that my Father giveth me, shall come to me.”[107] “Other sheep have I, which are not of this fold; them also I must bring.”[108]

It has been asked, for what purpose does God send his outward call to the non-elect, since it will be ineffectual, unless accompanied with his omnipotent grace. We might as well ask for what purpose does God give men his law, when they will not obey it; or why does he institute a moral government over them, when they will not submit to it. Instead of demanding God’s reasons for what he does, it becomes every man rather to inquire, what reason he can render to God, for violating his holy law, and rejecting the call of his gospel. We may be sure that God will do right, and will be able to vindicate his ways before the intelligent universe; and we should regard our propensity to call in question the wisdom and righteousness of his procedure, as an alarming evidence of our want of submission to his will.

Objection. If repentance and faith are gifts of grace bestowed by the Holy Spirit in effectual calling, men on whom this grace is not conferred, are not blameworthy for being impenitent and unbelieving.

The objection virtually assumes, that men are under no obligation to serve God further than they please; or that if their unwillingness to serve him can be overcome by nothing less than omnipotent grace, it excuses their disobedience. Let the man who makes to himself this apology for his impenitence and unbelief, consider well, with what face he can present his plea before the great Judge. “I did not serve God, because I was wholly unwilling to serve him; and so exceedingly unwilling that nothing less than omnipotent grace could reconcile me to the hated service.” Who will dare offer this plea on the great day?

The efficacious grace which renders the gospel successful, is the grand peculiarity of the gospel dispensation.

This grace was bestowed in a smaller measure, before the coming of Christ, and during his personal ministry; but the abundant outpouring of it was reserved for the Pentecost that followed the Saviour’s ascension, and the times succeeding. The apostles were commanded to remain in Jerusalem, until they were endued with power from on high, and the power of the Holy Spirit which fell on them rendered their preaching far more successful than the ministry of Christ himself had been. Had God bound himself, by rule, to give an equal measure of grace to every human being, and to leave the result to the unaided volitions of men, the extraordinary success which marked the first period of Christianity would not have existed. It must be ascribed to the efficacious grace of the Holy Spirit, whom the Saviour promised to send after he should go to the Father. To the power of the Spirit, the success of the word, in all ages, must be attributed: and the glorious millennial day so long expected by the church will not come, until the Spirit be poured out from on high.[109] Hence, all good men looking forward to this glorious day, have not relied for its coming on the superior morality and religious tendency of future generations, but have prayed for it and have hoped for success, only through the abundant influence of the Holy Spirit.

[85] John vi. 37; Rom. viii. 26, 30; 1 Cor. i. 24; 2 Tim. i. 9; 1 Pet. ii. 9; Jude 1, 2; 1 Cor. ii. 4; 1 Thess. i. 4–6.

[86] Acts vii. 51, 52.

[87] 2 Thess. i. 7, 8.

[88] Prov. i. 24.

[89] Matt. xx. 16.

[90] 2 Tim. i. 9.

[91] Rom. viii. 30.

[92] Rom. i. 7.

[93] Rom. i. 6.

[94] Rom. viii. 28.

[95] 1 Thess. i. 5.

[96] 1 Cor. ii. 4.

[97] Eph. i. 19, 20.

[98] 2 Cor. iv. 6.

[99] Eph. ii. 10.

[100] 2 Pet. i. 3

[101] 1 Cor. xii. 11.

[102] James i. 18.

[103] 2 Pet. i. 10

[104] Jude 1.

[105] Eph. i. 4–13.

[106] Acts xiii. 48.

[107] John vi. 37.

[108] John x. 16.

[109] Isaiah xxxii. 15.

John L. Dagg- Manual of Theology

In not a few instances the Scriptures possess both a literal and a mystical force: Example 7

1 CORINTHIANS 10:1-4, furnishes another illustration of what we are here treating; to wit, the spiritual content of many passages in God’s Word. “Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.” As a matter of fact, historically, Divinely recorded, they partook of material food and drank of water which flowed from a literal rock; yet three times over the apostle declared that the same were spiritual. In so doing Paul was not merely intimating that there was a close analogy between God’s dealings with the Hebrews of old and with His saints today: rather was he insisting that the wilderness experiences of Israel after the flesh adumbrated the soul experiences of Israel after the spirit. It is not only that the Divine institutions under Judaism possessed a symbolical and typical significance, but that Christians enter into the spiritual substance of which they were but the shadows. Christ is our altar (Hebrews 13:10), our passover (1 Corinthians 5:7), our high priest (Hebrews 4:14). In Him we are spiritually circumcised (Colossians 2:11).

“But ye are come unto mount Sion” (Hebrews 12:22)

is also to be understood spiritually, and not literally. That should be quite obvious, yet, because of the gross and carnal ideas of modern Dispensationalists, there is need for us to labor the point. That is one of the many passages where the blessings and privileges of the new covenant are expressed in language taken from the old, the antitype being presented under the phraseology of the type.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

There is eternal life in Christ Jesus

In the third place, there is eternal life in Christ Jesus; and, oh! if eternal death be terrible, eternal life is blessed, for he has said, “Where I am there shall my people be.” “Father, I will, that they also, whom thou hast given unto me, be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory.” “I give unto my sheep eternal life, and they shall never perish.” Now, any Arminian that would preach from that text must buy a pair of India rubber lips for I am sure he would need to stretch his mouth amazingly; he would never be able to speak the whole truth without winding about in a most mysterious manner. Eternal life-not a life which they are to lose, but eternal life. If I lost life in Adam I gained it in Christ; if I lost myself for ever I find myself for ever in Jesus Christ. Eternal life! Oh blessed thought! Our eyes will sparkle with joy and our souls burn with ecstasy in the thought that we have eternal life. Be quenched ye stars! let God put his finger on you-but my soul will live in bliss and joy. Put out thine eye O sun!-but mine eye shall “see the king in his beauty” when thine eye shall no more make the green earth laugh; and moon, be thou turned into blood!-but my blood shall ne’er be turned to nothingness; this spirit shall exist when thou hast ceased to be; and thou great world! thou mayest all subside, just as a moment’s foam subsides upon the wave that bears it-but I shall have eternal life. O time! thou mayest see giant mountains dead and hidden in their graves; thou mayest see the stars like figs too ripe, falling from the tree; but thou shalt never, never see my spirit dead.

Charles H. Spurgeon- “Freewill- A Slave,” A Sermon Delivered On Sabbath Morning, December 2, 1855

They were always exposed to destruction

Their foot shall slide in due time (Deut. xxxii. 35).

1. That they were always exposed to destruction; as one that stands or walks in slippery places is always exposed to fall. This is implied in the manner of their destruction coming upon them, being represented by their foot sliding. The same is expressed, Psalm lxxiii. 18. “Surely thou didst set them in slippery places; thou castedst them down into destruction.”

Jonathan Edwards- Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God

Charles Spurgeon’s Letters-Letter 126

TO REV. A. A. REES

WESTWOOD, May 17, 1880.

DEAR FRIEND,—

You shall have the Treasury as a present from me, and I shall count it only a very small token of my love to you. I think you will find good store in it of others’ thoughts, and mine may make the parsley on the dish.

May our Lord ever bless you.

Yours heartily,

C. H. SPURGEON.

Duty of Gratitude for Divine Grace: Sovereignty of Grace: Particular Redemption- Book Seventh- Chapter 4- Section 2

Book Seventh

CHAPTER IV.

SECTION II.–PARTICULAR REDEMPTION.

THE SON OF GOD GAVE HIS LIFE TO REDEEM THOSE WHO WERE GIVEN TO HIM BY THE FATHER IN THE COVENANT OF GRACE.[66]

The Scriptures teach that the Son of God, in coming into the world and laying down his life, had the salvation of a peculiar people in view: “Thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins.”[67] “The good Shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.”[68] “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church.”[69] The Scriptures also teach that the expectation of the Redeemer will be fully realized, and that not one of all whom the Father gave him will fail to be saved: “He shall see his seed. He shall see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied.”[70] “All that the Father giveth me, shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” “And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.”[71] “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am.”[72]

And finally, when all shall be congregated, he will say, “Behold, I, and the children which God has given me.”[73] In presenting to the Father all who had been given to him, in the covenant of grace, to be redeemed out of every kindred, tongue, nation, and people, the Saviour will have the full reward of his obedience unto death.

Redemption will not be universal in its consummation; for the redeemed will be out of every kindred, tongue, nation, and people;[74] and therefore cannot include all in any of these divisions of mankind. And redemption cannot have been universal in its purpose; otherwise the purpose will fail to be accomplished, and all, for which the work of redemption was undertaken will not be effected.

Besides God’s will of purpose, we have seen that he has a will of precept. According to the latter, he commands all men everywhere to repent; he requires all to believe in Jesus Christ; and it is his will that all men should honor the Son. To all who obey his will in these particulars, he gives the promise of eternal life. The precept and the promise are both included in the revealed will of God. It is the revealed will of God that the gospel should be preached to every creature, and that every creature who hears should believe, and that all who believe shall receive life everlasting. The revealed will is the rule of our faith, duty, and hope; and by it those who preach the gospel, and those who hear it, are authorised and bound to regulate every thought and action. In it, Christ is exhibited as the Saviour of the world;[75] the only name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved;[76] and sinners, without exception, are invited and commanded to believe in Christ. As the gospel is preached to all men without distinction, and all are called upon to come to Christ for life; and nothing but man’s rejection of the gospel prevents the extension of its blessing to all who hear it; it accords with the design of God’s revealed word, to speak of the offices and work of Christ, according to men’s obligations respecting them. It must be remembered, however, that the gospel promises its blessings to those only who obey it; and, as the promise, not the precept, is the proper measure of the benefits which it secures, its benefits are limited to particular persons, even when the limitation in its extent does not appear in the language employed. Christ is called the Saviour of the world,[77] the propitiation[78] for the sins of the whole world; and the free gift through him is said to come on all men unto justification of life.[79] These, and other like expressions of Scripture, represent the facts as they would be, on the supposition that all men did their duty. But notwithstanding these general expressions, the revealed will of God secures blessings only to the obedient, and is therefore narrower in its limit than the purpose or secret will of God, which not only provides all needed grace for the obedient, but also, for all the elect, the grace necessary to render them obedient.

The remarks which have been made may suffice to show that redemption is not universal, in any view which can properly be taken of it. It is particular in its consummation, and in its purpose; and it is equally so in the revelation of it, which is made in the gospel. The general terms “all men,” “the whole world,” &c. which the Scriptures employ in speaking of its extent, cannot be understood to secure its benefits to the impenitent and unbelieving. According to God’s secret will, or will of purpose, redemption is secured by the death of Christ to all the elect; according to his revealed will, it is secured to those only who believe.

The adaptedness of Christ’s death to serve as a ground for universal gospel invitations, constitutes it in the view of some persons a universal redemption. But no one can with propriety be said to be redeemed, who does not obtain deliverance, and who never will obtain it. Other persons who maintain the doctrine of particular redemption, distinguish between redemption and atonement, and because of the adaptedness referred to, consider the death of Christ an atonement for the sins of all men; or as an atonement for sin in the abstract. In Rom. v.11, the only place in the New Testament where the word atonement occurs, the Greek word for which it stands, is the same that is rendered reconciling–reconciliation, in other places.[80] The reconciliation is not between God and sin in the abstract, for such a reconciliation is impossible. It is a reconciliation of persons; and such a reconciliation as secures eternal salvation. “If, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God, by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.”[81] In Paul’s view, all those for whom Christ’s death made reconciliation or atonement, will certainly be saved; and therefore atonement cannot be universal, unless salvation be universal. It is possible to use the word atonement in such a sense, as to render the question respecting the extent of the atonement one of mere definition: but it is best to use the words of Scripture in the Scripture sense.

In reconciling the vicariousness of Christ’s death with the universal call of the gospel a difficulty arises, which may be stated thus:–

An unrestricted invitation to all who hear the gospel, to come to Christ for life, seems to imply that universal provision has been made in him; and in order to the making of universal provision, it appears necessary that he should have borne the sins of all men.

But the supposition that he bore the sins of the whole human race, is attended with much difficulty. Multitudes died in impenitence before he came into the world, and were suffering for their sins in the other world, while he was hanging on the cross. How could he be a substitute for these, and suffer the penalty for their sins, when they were suffering it in their own persons? And if he endured the penalty for the sins of all who have since died, or shall hereafter die in impenitence, how shall they be required to satisfy justice a second time by personal suffering?

For a solution of this difficulty, with which the minds of many have been much perplexed, it has been supposed that the amount of suffering necessary to make an atoning sacrifice, is not increased or lessened by the amount of the sin to be atoned for. This hypothesis is entitled to respect, not only because of the relief which it affords the mind, but also because it has recommended itself to the general acceptance of learned and pious men. Nevertheless, like every other hypothesis invented for the removal of difficulty, it should not be made an article of faith, until it has been proved.

In support of the hypothesis, it has been argued that since the wages of sin is death, Christ must have died for a single sin, and he needed only to die, in making atonement for the sins of the whole world.

This argument does not sustain the hypothesis, unless it be assumed that death is the same in every supposable case. But death may be an easy and joyful transition from this world to the world of bliss. Such was not the death of Christ. Death, as the wages of sin, includes more than the mere dissolution of the body: and Christ, in dying for sin, endured an amount of sorrow which was not necessary to mere natural death. In this suffering, the expiatory efficacy of his death chiefly consisted; and we dare not assume that the amount of it must be the same in every supposable case. The sufferings of Christ derive infinite value from his divine nature; but, being endured by his human nature, their amount could not be infinite; hence it is supposable that the amount might have been different in different circumstances. The inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah will, in the last day, be doomed to the second death, equally with the more guilty inhabitants of Chorazin and Bethsaida: but the anguish attendant will be more intolerable in one case than in the other. Analogy would seem to require, that Christ, suffering for the sins of the whole world, must endure more than if suffering for only one sin.

The advocates of the hypothesis urge, that the atonement is moral, and not commercial; and they object, that the notion of so much suffering for so much sin, degrades it into a mere commercial transaction. According to an illustration before given, if twenty men owe one hundred dollars, commercial justice is satisfied when each man has paid five dollars; but when twenty men have conspired to commit murder, moral justice, or rather distributive justice (for commercial justice is also moral), holds every man guilty of the deed, and as deserving of capital punishment as if he alone had committed the crime. On the same principle, it is maintained, moral justice does not divide the death of Christ into parts, accounting so much for each offence; but regards it as equally sufficient for many offences, as for one; and equally sufficient for the sins of the whole world, as for the sins of the elect.

The argument is not conclusive. It is not true, that the principle of distributive justice repels the notion of so much suffering for so much sin. Justice has its scales in government, as well as in commerce; and an essential part of its administration consists in the apportionment of penalties to crimes. It does not account the stealing of herbs from a neighbor’s garden, and the murder of a father, crimes of equal magnitude; and it does not weigh out to them equal penalties. The justice of God has a heavier penalty for Chorazin and Bethsaida, than for Sodom and Gomorrah. Everything of which we have knowledge in the divine administration, instead of exploding the notion of so much suffering for so much sin, tends rather to establish it. The objection that it is commercial, is not well founded. Though justice in government, and justice in commerce, may be distinguished from each other, it does not follow, that whatever may be affirmed of the one, must necessarily be denied of the other. Distributive justice is not that which determines the equality of value, in commodities which are exchanged for each other: but it does not therefore exclude all regard to magnitudes and proportions. In the language of Scripture, sins are debts[82], the blood of Christ is a price[83], and his people are bought.[84] This language is doubtless figurative: but the figures would not be appropriate, if commercial justice, to which the terms debt, price, bought, appertain, did not bear an analogy to the distributive justice which required the sacrifice of Christ.

In the case adduced for illustration, every accomplice in the murder is held guilty of the crime, because every one has the full intention of it. Justice, viewing the crime in the intention, accounts each one guilty, and requires the penalty to be inflicted on him. It does not admit that the punishment of one will be equivalent to the punishment of all: but, in this very case, employs its scales to give to every one his due, and apportions the amount of penalty inflicted, to the amount of crime.

This examination of the argument discovers, that it is not conclusive. If the atonement of Christ excludes all regard to the amount of sin to be expiated, the exclusion does not arise from the abstract principles of distributive justice, as distinguished from commercial, but from something peculiar in the great transaction. No transaction like it with which it may be compared, has ever occurred. The wisdom and justice of God have decided this single case, and have decided it right. Christ did endure just so much suffering, as would expiate he sins that were laid on him. What amount of suffering would have been necessary if he had expiated but one sin, is a question which, so far as we know, has never been decided in the court of heaven. When we confidently decide it, we are in danger of intruding into those things which do not belong to use. If the Holy Scriptures teach us nothing on the subject, we should not seek to be wise above what is written.

The Scriptures, so far as I know, contain no proof of the hypothesis. The best argument in its favor is drawn from Hebrews ix., in which it is taught that, if the sacrifices of the old dispensation had been efficacious, they would not have needed to be repeated. This seems to involve the principle, that an efficacious sacrifice for sin, when once made, will suffice for all sin, however it may be multiplies in all future time; and this principle, if established, establishes the hypothesis before us. But the clause “then would they not have ceased to be offered,” may be taken without an interrogative point following, and the argument of Paul will be, that the sacrifices of the Old Testament dispensation, if efficacious, would have continued to be offered from year to year, making atonement for the sins of each year as it passed, and would not have been superseded by another covenant, as the Lord had foretold by his prophet. So interpreted, the argument of Paul, instead of establishing the hypothesis, subverts it. But if the clause be read with the interrogative point, it may still be understood to refer to the remembrance from year to year continually of the same sins, that had once been atoned for. When the sins of one year had been atoned for, why should the very same sins be brought into remembrance the second, third, and fourth years, and the offering for them repeated, if the first offering had been efficacious? So understood, the apostle’s argument does not establish the principle involved in the hypothesis.

If, after a thorough examination of the hypothesis, we should, instead of making it an article of faith, be inclined to abandon it; and if the difficulty which it was invented to remove should perplex us; we may obtain relief, as we are compelled to do in other cases, by receiving the whole of God’s truth on his authority, even though the harmony of its parts is not apparent to our weak understandings. In this way, theological difficulties furnish an opportunity for the exercise of confidence in the divine veracity: and our state of mind is never better or safer than when, in simple faith, we take God at his word.

So far as we have the means of judging, the sufferings of Christ, when viewed apart from the purpose of God respecting them, were in themselves as well adapted to satisfy for the sins of Judas as on Peter. But we cannot affirm this of every act which Christ performed in his priestly office. His intercessions for Peter were particular and efficacious; and these, as a part of his priestly work, may be included with his sufferings, as constituting with them the perfect and acceptable offering which he, as the great High Priest, makes for his people. The atonement or reconciliation which results, must be as particular as the intercessions by which it is procured.

Some have maintained that, if the atonement of Christ is not general, no sinner can be under obligation to believe in Christ, until he is assured that he is one of the elect. This implies that no sinner is bound to believe what God says, unless he knows that God designs to save him. God declares that there is no salvation, except through Christ; and every sinner is bound to believe this truth. If it were revealed from heaven, that but one sinner, of all our fallen race, shall be saved by Christ, the obligation to believe that there is no salvation out of Christ, would remain the same. Every sinner, to whom the revelation would be made, would be bound to look to Christ as his only possible hope, and commit himself to that sovereign mercy by which some one of the justly condemned race would be saved. The abundant mercy of our God will not be confined to the salvation of a single sinner; but it will bring many sons to glory through the sufferings of Jesus, the Captain of our salvation. Yet every sinner, who trusts in Christ for salvation, is bound to commit himself, unreservedly, to the sovereign mercy of God. If he requires some previous assurance that he is in the number of the elect, he does not surrender himself to God, as a guilty sinner ought. The gospel brings every sinner prostrate at the feet of the Great Sovereign, hoping for mercy at his will, and in his way: and the gospel is perverted when any terms short of this are offered to the offender. With this universal call to absolute and unconditional surrender to God’s sovereignty, the doctrine of particular redemption exactly harmonizes.

[66] Eph. v. 25-27; Tit. ii. 14; John x. 11; Rev. i. 5, 6; Acts xx. 28; Heb. x. 14; Isaiah liii. 5, 11.

[67] Matt. i. 21.

[68] John x. 11.

[69] Eph. v. 25-27.

[70] Isaiah liii. 10, 11.

[71] John vi. 37, 39.

[72] John xvii. 24.

[73] Heb. ii. 13.

[74] Rev. v. 9.

[75] John iv. 42.

[76] Acts iv. 12.

[77] John iv. 42.

[78] 1 John ii. 2.

[79] Rom. v. 18.

[80] Rom. xi. 15; 2 Cor. v. 18, 19.

[81] Rom. v. 10.

[82] Matt. vi. 12.

[83] 1 Cor. vi. 20; 1 Pet i. 18.

[84] 1 Cor. vi. 20.

John L. Dagg- Manual of Theology

In not a few instances the Scriptures possess both a literal and a mystical force: Example 6

Psalm 89 supplies us with a further illustration of the principle we are here treating, and a very striking and important one it is. Historically it looks back to what is recorded in 2 Samuel 7:4-17, namely, the covenant which the Lord made with David; yet none with anointed eyes can read that Psalm without quickly perceiving that a greater than the son of Jesse is there in view, namely his Savior. In the light of Isaiah 42:1,

“I have made a covenant with My Chosen, I have sworn unto David My Servant” (Psalm 89:3),

it is quite clear that the spiritual reference is to that covenant of grace which God made with the Mediator before the foundation of the world; compare “Then thou spakest in vision to Thy Holy One” (v. 19). This is further confirmed in what immediately follow: “Thy seed will I establish forever, and build up thy throne to all generations” (v. 4), which is not true of the historical David. As Spurgeon remarked, “David must always have a seed, and truly this is fulfilled in Jesus beyond his hopes. What a seed David has in the multitude which have sprung from Him who was both his Son and his Lord! The Son of David is the great Progenitor, the last Adam, the everlasting Father; He sees His seed, and in them beholds of the travail of His soul. David’s dynasty never decays, but on the contrary, is evermore consolidated by the great Architect of heaven and earth. Jesus is a King as well as a Progenitor, and His throne is ever being built up.” As we read through this Psalm, verse after verse obliges us to look beyond the literal to the spiritual, until the climax is reached in verse 27, where God says of the antitypical David, “I will make Him My Firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth.”

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures