Page images

thoroughly investigating them : I can very fully agree with you in many particulars, and think your system, as far as it goes, is agreeable to truth. . .

. Evander. You observe my system, as far as it goes is agreeable to truth, implying that it is limited. I will thank you to explain yourself. I conceive it so far from limitation, that its fundamental principle is the greatest possible blessedness of the intelligent universe, in distinction from private and individual happiness. .

Lorenzo. I presume that we shall not fully agree at present;' as your mind is so biased by education, that it is not prepared to receive the complete effulgence of gospel light. Since our last interview, I have conversed much with Mr. M. and Dr. H. Their ideas I think harmonize with the scriptures, and with the beauty, and glory of the divine government.

Evander. As I have not altered in any particular, since our first conversation, I trust you are well acquainted with my ideas: but as you have varied, I will thank you to inform me on what ground you now profess to stand, and the particular doctrines you would defend, that I may know where to meet you.

Lorenzo. This I will do with pleasure. I believe that Adam was the federal head of all mankind, in such a manner, that all mankind sinned in him, and fell with him, in his first transgression, and agreeable to strict justice, eternal condemnation, was not only due to Adam, but all his posterity; for in union with him, all have sinned against an infinitely glorious Being, and violated a perfectly holy law, which was an evil worthy of an infinite punishment. I further believe, that the Lord Jesus Christ became the federal head of all mankind for their salvation, the same as Adam was for their condemnation ; “ for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive;" by his union to all mankind they became one in him; and all their sins were imputed to him, and in him received the full demand of strict justice; they are, therefore, by his righteousness freely justified, being born again in him, and are entitled to eternal life, and will, at death, immediately enter into the joy of their Lord.

Evander. I perceive that you have by no means quitted the field, but only taken a different stand on the same ground. It appears evident to me, that not only you, but most who embrace the doctrine of universal salvation, receive the first impression of those sentiments by conversing with others, and not directly from studying the holy Scriptures, which you once, justly observed, gave us all the information we possess of the future state.

Lorenzo. To this I shall not assent, as it is. the Scriptures alone on which I depend. It is they which testify that Christ “is the propitia

tion for our sins, and not for ours only, but also

for the sins of the whole world.” · Evander. It is not the extent of the atone

ment, in which we so much disagree, for I view it infinitely meritorious, and sufficient for the salvation of all mankind, but it is in its nature ; it is in this, I conceive, Universalists generally err; and by taking false premises, it is easy to draw wrong conclusions. - Lorenzo. You have frequently intimated that I have wrong ideas of the nature of the atonement; I will thank you to point out those inconsistencies.

Evander. You doubtless understand, that I consider the atonement in a governmental, and not in a personal point of view. If Christ was united to all human nature, so that all mankind were but one in him, then all the sins of human nature, by this union, became his own, and, of course, in suffering their full demerit, he suffered only his just desert; and the plan of salvation, by free, - rich, and sovereign grace, must be totally excluded.

Lorenzo. Was it not free grace for Christ voluntarily to become united to all mankind, and suffer their full deserts ?

Evander. All beings must be treated according to their character. If all the race of Adam are united in Christ so as to form but one man, then this united man, is guilty of all the sins of the human race; and if this united man

suffer his full desert, whether in his head or in the members of his body, he cannot be saved by grace, for. grace is favour shewn to the ill deserving. · Lorenzo. Was not man ill deserving?

Evander. This I grant in its fullest extent; but, on your principle of union, Christ is a part of this man, and, of course, he suffered for himself, and not for another. What an absurdity it would be for a criminal, after receiving the due reward of his deeds, to say he was gracious to himself, because he had suffered the just reward of his crimes.

Lorenzo. I do not mean a union of Christ to human nature in such a sense as to become but one man; but I would rather consider our sins transferred to him, and in him punished to the full extent of their demerit.

Evander. If you give up the idea of union for that of transference, I consider it no less absurd; for notwithstanding the Scriptures inform us, that the sins of one are often the consequence of evil to another, yet they do not inform us of the sins of one being transferred to another, any more than they do that the visage of one is transferred to another. I do not see, on your last position, how mankind can be saved by grace, if they have paid in their surety the full demand of the law. If my neighbour owes a debt, and I sign the obligation jointly with him, without requiring any compensation, I am by no means treated unjustly if I am compelled, by law, to pay the demand; but when the debt is paid, the law can have no farther demand on my neighbour, neither can his creditor forgive him the debt, after he has received the full amount, and the obligation cancelled. If all the sins of mankind have been transferred to Christ, and have received, in him, their full demerit, and justice is perfectly satisfied, then they remain no longer subject to the demands of a violated law, neither can they receive forgiveness, (as I have more than once observed,) where there is nothing to be forgiven; but the inspired Psalmist, in his address to God, says, “ there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayst be feared.”

Lorenzo. I consider justice satisfied, only in such a manner that is consistent with forgiveness.

Evander. If this is your belief, you give up the point for which I am contending, and instead of our sins receiving their full desert in Christ, they remain in full force against us, and without repentance and faith, they will not be forgiven, and the wrath of God must abide upon us.

Lorenzo. I will thank you to inform me, how Christ could suffer for our sins, and we still remain liable to suffering ?

Evander. Christ came not to destroy, but to fulfil the law; not to take away its penalty, but

« PreviousContinue »