November 5, 2009

Andrew Broaddus (1770–1848) on the Extent of the Atonement

"2. Another item, of which I wish here to take a very brief notice, as, in my view, erroneous, respects the nature of the "atonement." The error, as I consider it, lies in conceiving of this matter and in representing it, too much in accordace with the idea of a pecuniary transaction—of a penalty paid, or a debt discharged with the sum of money. It is true, indeed, that the figurative manner in which the atonement is sometimes represented in the scriptures, has reference to such a transaction, and that there is, of course, some striking analogy which justifies the reference--"ye are bought with a price"—"ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, &c., but with the precious blood of Christ." At the same time, however, the impropriety of detailing all possible analogies ought not to be lost sight of; and no greater injury, perhaps, has been done to the subject of the atonement than has arisen from treating it in this manner. The true idea, as to the object or result of the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ, is expressed by the apostle, Rom. iii. 26, "That God might be just, and the justifier of him who believeth in Jesus." A broad basis is thus laid for the operation of redeeming mercy, as God may see proper to exercise it. He is not laid under any obligation to all, or any number of individuals, to exonerate them from the penalty which attaches to guilt; and hence the application of the atonement, or the actual redemption of any sinner, is still an act of free favor on the part of God. And accordingly, so we find the apostle teaches. Rom. iii. 24. "Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus."

These remarks on the nature of the atonement, lead to the question as to its extent. And here I take occassion to say, that a consistent and scriptural view of this subject appears to lead to the conclusion, that the atonement is general in its nature and extent. As opening a way for the salvation of sinners, considered as sinners, it is general in its nature; and as being of sufficient value for the salvation of the world, it is general in its extent. At the same time, it may be proper to remark, that redemption, considered as the result and application of the atonement, is limited, of course, to those who actually become the subjects of grace; in other words, to those who become believers in Jesus."
Andrew Broaddus, "The Atonement" in The Sermons and Other Writings of the Rev. Andrew Broaddus, ed. A. Broaddus (New York: Published by Lewis Colby, 1852), 108–109.

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