May 31, 2008

Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758) on the Sincerity of God's Calls and Invitations

§ 13. It is objected against the absolute decrees respecting the future actions of men, and especially the unbelief of sinners, and their rejection of the gospel, that this does not consist with the sincerity of God’s calls and invitations to such sinners; as he has willed, in his eternal secret decree, that they should never accept of those invitations. To which I answer, that there is that in God, respecting the acceptance and compliance of sinners, which God knows will never be, and which he has decreed never to cause to be, in which, though it be not just the same with our desiring and wishing for that which will never come to pass, yet there is nothing wanting but what would imply imperfection in the case. There is all in God that is good, and perfect, and excellent in our desires and wishes for the conversion and salvation of wicked men. As, for instance, there is a love to holiness, absolutely considered, or an agreeableness of holiness to his nature and will; or, in other words, to his natural inclination. The holiness and happiness of the creature, absolutely considered, are things that he loves. These things are infinitely more agreeable to his nature than to ours. There is all in God that belongs to our desire of the holiness and happiness of unconverted men and reprobates, excepting what implies imperfection. All that is consistent with infinite knowledge, wisdom, power, self-sufficiency, infinite happiness and immutability. Therefore, there is no reason that his absolute prescience, or his wise determination and ordering what is future, should hinder his expressing this disposition of his nature, in like manner as we are wont to express such a disposition in ourselves, viz. by calls and invitations, and the like.

The disagreeableness of the wickedness and misery of the creature, absolutely considered, to the nature of God, is all that is good in pious and holy men’s lamenting the past misery and wickedness of men. Their lamenting these, is good no farther than it proceeds from the disagreeableness of those things to their holy and good nature. This is also all that is good in wishing for the future holiness and happiness of men. And there is nothing wanting in God, in order to his having such desires and such lamentings, but imperfection; and nothing is in the way of his having them, but infinite perfection; and therefore it properly, naturally, and necessarily came to pass, that when God, in the manner of existence, came down from his infinite perfection, and accommodated himself to our nature and manner, by being made man, as he was, in the person of Jesus Christ, he really desired the conversion and salvation of reprobates, and lamented their obstinacy and misery; as when he beheld the city Jerusalem, and wept over it, saying, "O Jerusalem," &c. In the like manner, when he comes down from his infinite perfection, though not in the manner of being, but in the manner of manifestation, and accommodates himself to our nature and manner, in the manner of expression, it is equally natural and proper that he should express himself as though he desired the conversion and salvation of reprobates, and lamented their obstinacy and misery.
Jonathan Edwards, "Concerning the Divine Decrees in General and Election in Particular," in The Works of Jonathan Edwards (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1974), 2:528–529.


Andrew Fuller (1754–1815) on Pecuniary and Moral Justice

It is not true that redemption has for its basis the idea of pecuniary justice, and not that of moral justice. That sin is called a debt, and the death of Christ a price, a ransom, &c., is true; but it is no unusual thing for moral obligations and deliverances, to be expressed in language borrowed from pecuniary transactions. The obligations of a son to a father, are commonly expressed by such terms as owing and paying: he owes a debt of obedience, and in yielding it he pays a debt of gratitude. The same may be said of an obligation to punishment. A murderer owes his life to the justice of his country ; and when he suffers, he is said to pay the awful debt. So also if a great character by suffering death, could deliver his country, such deliverance would be spoken of as obtained by the price of blood. No one mistakes these things by understanding them of pecuniary transactions. In such connections, every one perceives that the terms are used not literally, but metaphorically; and it is thus that they are to be understood with reference to the death of Christ. As sin is not a pecuniary, but a moral debt; so the atonement for it is not a pecuniary, but a moral ransom.

There is doubtless a sufficient analogy between pecuniary and moral proceedings, to justify the use of such language, both in scripture and in common life; and it is easy to perceive the advantages which arise from it; as besides conveying much important truth, it renders it peculiarly impressive to the mind. But it is not always safe to reason from the former to the latter; much less is it just to affirm, that the latter has for its basis every principle which pertains to the former. The deliverance effected by the prince, in the case before stated, might, with propriety, be called a redemption; and the recollection of it, under this idea, would be very impressive to the minds of those who were delivered. They would scarcely be able to see or think of their Commander in Chief, even though it might be years after the event, without being reminded of the price at which their pardon was obtained, and dropping a tear of ingenuous grief over their unworthy conduct on this account. Yet it would not be just to say, that this redemption had for its basis an idea of pecuniary justice, and not that of moral justice.

It was moral justice which in this case was satisfied: not, however, in its ordinary form, but as exercised on an extraordinary occasion; not the letter, but the spirit of it.
Andrew Fuller, "The Gospel its Own Witness," in The Complete Works of the Rev. Andrew Fuller, rev. Joseph Belcher (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1988), 2:80–81.

May 28, 2008

Louis Berkhof (1873–1957) on the Bona Fide Character of the External Call

b. It is a bona fide calling. The external calling is a calling in good faith, a calling that is seriously meant. It is not an invitation coupled with the hope that it will not be accepted. When God calls the sinner to accept Christ by faith, He earnestly desires this; and when He promises those who repent and believe eternal life, His promise is dependable. This follows from the very nature, from the veracity, of God. It is blasphemous to think that God would be guilty of equivocation and deception, that He would say one thing and mean another, that He would earnestly plead with the sinner to repent and believe unto salvation, and at the same time not desire it in any sense of the word. The bona fide character of the external call is proved by the following passages of Scripture: Num. 23:19; Ps. 81:13-16; Prov. 1:24; Isa. 1:18-20; Ezek. 18:23,32; 33:11; Matt. 21:37; II Tim. 2:13. The Canons of Dort also assert it explicitly in III and IV, 8.
Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1969), 462.

May 21, 2008

Jacobus Kimedoncius (c.1550–1596) Addressing "An Impudent Reproach"

Kimedoncius wrote one of the first Reformed defenses of "limited atonement," and yet said the following in his dedication to Fredrick the Fourth at Heidelberg on the 12th of March, 1592:
At this day we are slandered of malicious men with a new crime that is feigned against us, as though we should deny that Christ died for all men, an impudent reproach. For according to the Scriptures we also confess the same, but we deny, that thereupon it followeth that all mankind without exception of any one, are by the death of Christ indeed justified, saved, and restored into the bosom of grace, having received the pardon of their sins, whether they believe or no.
Jacobus Kimedoncius, Of the Redemption of Mankind. Three Books: Wherein the Controversie of the Universalitie of the Redemption and Grace by Christ, and of his Death for All Men, is largely handled. Hereunto is annexed a Treatise of Gods Predestination in one Booke, trans. Hugh Ince  (London: Imprinted by Felix Kingston for Humfrey Lownes, 1598), A6v–r; or pp. x–xi. [no pagination; pages numbered manually from the title page]

"We also confess the same" means he does confess that Christ died for all men. It's just the case that he wants to deny that all are saved or shall be saved as a result. How ironic that Kimedoncius, a Heidelberg Reformer writing on redemption and Christ's death for all men, is concerned to not be "slandered" by a view that has come to be thought of as orthodox among the Reformed today. One can see that for Kimedoncius, redemption is limited or particular in the sense of its application, but not in its accomplishment (i.e., in the imputation of sin to Christ).

For more by Kimedoncius, go here.

May 19, 2008

E. F. Karl Müller on Amyraut and "Hypothetical Universalism"

Amyraut's doctrine has been called "hypothetical universalism"; but the term is misleading[1], since it might be applied also to the Arminianism which he steadfastly opposed. His main proposition is this: God wills all men to be saved, on condition that they believe—a condition which they could well fulfill in the abstract[2], but which in fact, owing to inherited corruption, they stubbornly reject[3], so that this universal will for salvation actually saves no one. God also wills in particular to save a certain number of persons, and to pass over the others with this grace. The elect will be saved as inevitably the others will be damned.
E. F. Karl Müller, "Amyraut, Moïse," in The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge (New York: Funk and Wagnalls Company, 1908), 1:160–161.

My footnotes:
(1) Even though the term "hypothetical universalist" is misleading, the opponents of Amyraut will continue to use it since the point is to smear the outsiders and to scare the insiders (it's yet another shibboleth), rather than accurately describe things in all fairness. There are even some in the blogosphere who desperately want to appear scholarly, so they prefer to use Latin, and therefore speak of a foedus hypotheticum in Amyraut's theology. It's the same misleading nonsense.
(2) By "abstract," he's probably referencing the natural/moral ability distinction that Amyraut learned from John Cameron.
(3) This stubborn rejection points to their moral inability or willful bondage to sin.

May 18, 2008

Davenant and the Cause of Predestination

"A prime and eternal cause cannot depend upon the self-same temporal causes which are thereby caused. If therefore predestination be the prime and eternal cause from whence Peter's faith, repentance and perseverance were derived, his foreseen faith, repentance and perseverance cannot, in any good sense, be imagined antecendent causes, merits, conditions or motives unto the Divine predestination."

John Davenant, Animadversions...Upon a Treatise Entitled: God's Love to Mankind (Cambridge: Roger Daniel, 1641), p. 9.

Rudolf Gwalther (1519–1586) on Christ's Death for All

I underlined the questionable words in the above picture.
Again, when he commends the preaching of the Gospel to his Apostles, he will first have repentance to be taught, next after which, he will have remissions of sins to be joined. Therefore Peter [Tony: in Acts 2] does not without a cause proceed in this order, that speaking of the death of Christ, he first proves his hearers to be guilty, and to be the authors [auctors?] thereof. And so it is necessary to have Christ's death preached in these days, that all men might understand the Son of God died for their sins, and that they were the authors [auctors?] thereof. For thus it shall come to pass, that men shall learn to be sorry [sorye?] in their heart for their sins, and shall embrace the salvation offered them in Christ with the more fervency of faith.
Rudolf Gwalther, A Hundred Threescore and Fifteen Homilies or Sermons Upon the Acts of the Apostles, trans. John Bridges (London: Henrie Denham, 1572), 108. I have taken the liberty to modernize the English.

Biographical Information:
Gwalther, Rudolf (also Walther, Walthard, Gualther; 1519-1586), third Antistes (or Bishop) of the Reformed Church of Zurich, following Bullinger and Zwingli in that office. Gwalther was Bullinger's student at Kappel in 1528, and later, upon taking up residence in Bullinger's house in Zurich in 1532, came to be treated almost as a son. In 1537 Gwalther traveled to England, and from 1538 to 1541, with a scholarship from Zurich, he studied at Basel, Strasbourg, Lausanne, and Marburg. He attended the Colloquy of Regensburg with the theologians from Hesse in 1541, where Calvin was also present. Upon returning to Zurich in 1541, Gwalther married Regula Zwingli, the daughter of the reformer, who also was a resident in the Bullinger household. After her death in 1565, he married Anna Blarer. In 1541 Gwalther became pastor at Schwamendingen. The following year he succeeded Leo Jud as pastor of Saint Peter's church in Zurich. For more than thirty years he worked closely with Bullinger until the latter's death in 1575. In his Testament, Bullinger named Gwalther his successor.

As the leader of the Zurich church, Gwalther defended the Zurich version of the Protestant faith, especially against the Lutheran authors of the Formula of Concord. He was instrumental in developing good relations between the Zurich church and other Reformed churches in Europe. He had many contacts in England, where he was very influential, particularly as an advocate of the Zurich model of the state church. Gwalther's son, Rudolf, received a master of arts degree from the University of Oxford in 1574, and Gwalther regularly corresponded with English bishops and others.

Gwalther's works include Latin homilies on all the gospels, as well as on Acts of the Apostles, Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, and the twelve minor prophets. He also edited three volumes of the works of Zwingli and translated many of Zwingli's German works into Latin. Gwalther's famous work on the Antichrist (Der Endtchrist, 1546) was translated into several languages. He wrote poems and two works on metrics. He even tried his hand at drama (Nabal comoedia sacra, 1562). After his death his sermon notes on Esther, Isaiah, Psalms 1 to 94, and on all the books of the New Testament except Revelation were published.
J. Wayne Baker, "Gwalther, Rudolf," in The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation, ed. Hans J. Hillerbrand (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), 2:203.
Gualter, Rodolphus, son-in-law of Zwingli, and one of the first Swiss Reformers, was born at Zurich Nov. 9, 1519, succeeded Bullinger as pastor, became superintendent at Zurich in 1575, and died Nov. 25, 1586. His commentaries are highly esteemed and rare, viz. Homiliæ cccxi in Matthæum (Zurich, 1590–96, 2 vols. fol.):―Homil. clxxv in Acta (Zurich, 1577, fol.). He wrote also a strong anti-papal treatise, Antichristus (Zurich, 1546, 8vo). A complete edition of his works appeared at Zurich in 1585 (15 vols. 8vo).―Hoefer, Nouv. Biog. Généale, xxi, 810; Winer, Theol. Literatur, ii, 555; Darling, Cyclop. Bibliographica, i, 1350.
Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, eds. John McClintock and James Strong (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1981), 3:1024.

Also in Wiki.

John Arrowsmith (1602–1659) on God’s Will and Permission

6. III. By way of permission. Hard-heartedness is one of those evils, which God permiteth, but approveth not, and is accordingly included in that speech, God in time past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways [Acts 14:16]. Therefore the school-men upon those texts, Deus non volens iniquitatem, tu es, and Quod non volui elegerunt, have founded a notable distinction between Velle, Nolle, and Non velle, which is not inconsiderable here. God is said to will a thing when he so approves of it, as to effect it. To Nill a thing, when he so dislikes it, as to prohibit it; non velle, not to will it, when he so dislikes as not to prohibit, yea, and not to effect it, yet permits it to be for good ends. Of the Lord, it is truly said, That he wills a heart of flesh, and that he nills a heart of stone; as for hard-heartedness, although he frequently permit it, yet we must say he is not altogether willing to have it, however willing to Suffer it. Our temper must be that of Austin, In a wonderful and unspeakable manner even that which is done against his will, is not done without his will; for it would not be done, if it were not permitted; neither doth he permit it without, but with his will. And again, He is so good as that he would never suffer evil, if he were not so Omnipotent, as to bring good out of evil.
John Arrowsmith, Armilla Catechetica: A Chain of Principles; or, An Orderly Concatenation of Theological Principles and Excercitations, Wherein the Chief Heads of Christian Religion are Asserted and Improved (Edinburgh: Thomas Turnbull, 1822), 335–336.


Arrowsmith on 2 Peter 3:9 and Romans 2:4

5. A third branch of divine goodness is long-suffering; whereby God hath been pleased to put a notable difference between angels that fell, and the fallen sons of Adam. Of them Peter saith, "God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgement." This was quick and speedy work. But the Lord (saith the same apostle,) "is long-suffering to us-ward." He exerciseth much patience, very much, even towards all, though vessels of wrath. For so Paul, "What if God willing to shew his wrath and to make his power known, endured with much long-suffering, the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction?" How profane was the old world? How wicked a place was Jericho? yet was he one hundred and twenty years in warning those of that age, before he brought the deluge upon them: and he that made the world in six, was seven days in destroying that one city. The great doctor of the Gentiles was not much more than thirty years old, when God converted him; yet we find him looking at this as infinite patience, as all long-suffering, that he was borne with so long. "I obtained mercy (saith he) that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all long-suffering." How sensible then ought they to be of this attribute, with whom God hath born forty, fifty, sixty years, and still continueth to cry unto, as it is in Habakkuk, "Woe unto him that increaseth that which is not his: How long?" as in Jeremiah, "O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved: How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee?" And again, "Woe unto thee, O Jerusalem, wilt thou not be made clean? When shall it once be." All which places declare sufficiently that the long-suffering God doth in a manner long to see our conversion to him.

6. And that indeed is the most proper use we can make hereof according to Paul's expostulation, "Despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance, and long-suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance." Verily, we cannot meet on this side of hell, with a worse temper of spirit than that which inclines a sinner to despise the forbearance of God, and to kick against the bowels of his goodness..."

John Arrowsmith (1602–1659) on God's Common Favor

1. A second branch of God's goodness is grace, which relates to unworthiness, as the former did to misery. God is merciful to the ill-deserving, gracious to the undeserving. So far are we from being able to merit so much as the crumbs which fall from his table, that even temporal favours are all from grace. Noah was preserved in the deluge. Why? because "he found grace in the eyes of the Lord." Jacob was enriched and had enough. How came it to pass? "because God, said he to Esau, hath dealt graciously with me." But beside that common favour in which all share more or less, there is a more special grace, which the Psalmist prayeth for, "remember me, O Lord, with the favour that thou bearest unto thy people: O visit me with thy salvation.
John Arrowsmith, Armilla Catechetica: A Chain of Principles; or, An Orderly Concatenation of Theological Principles and Excercitations, Wherein the Chief Heads of Christian Religion are Asserted and Improved (Edinburgh: Thomas Turnbull, 1822), 126.

1) He associates grace with God's goodness, favor and mercy.
2) He says that all share in this favor (or common grace as distinct from "special grace") more or less.

 A brief account of his life can also be read HERE.

May 17, 2008

W. G. T. Shedd (1820–1894) on the Atonement

Here is a portion of W. G. T. Shedd's material on the atonement from his Dogmatic Theology:
Atonement as Suffering and Forgiveness as Its Result

The priestly office of Christ cannot be understood without a clear and accurate conception of the nature of the atonement. [Note: page 696 ends here]

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The idea and meaning of atonement is conveyed in the following statements in Lev. 6:2–7 and 4:13–20: "If a soul sin and commit a trespass against the Lord, he shall bring his trespass offering unto the Lord, a ram without blemish, and the priest shall make an atonement for him before the Lord, and it shall be forgiven him." This is individual atonement for individual transgression. "If the whole congregation of Israel sin and are guilty, then the congregation shall offer a young bullock for the sin, and the elders of the congregation shall lay their hands upon the head of the bullock, and the bullock shall be killed, and the priest shall make an atonement for them, and it shall be forgiven them." This is national atonement for national transgression. Two particulars are to be noticed in this account. (a) The essence of the atonement is in the suffering. The atoning bullock or ram must bleed, agonize, and die. And he who offers it must not get any enjoyment out of it. It must be a loss to him, and so far forth a suffering for him. He must not eat any of the trespass offering. The sin offering must be wholly burned: "skin, flesh, and dung" (Lev. 16:27). In harmony with this, our Lord lays stress upon his own suffering as the essential element in his atonement: "The Son of Man must suffer many things" (Luke 9:22; Matt. 16:21); "that Christ would suffer" (Acts 3:18; Luke 24:26). Christ refused the anodyne of "wine mingled with gall" that would have deadened his pain (Matt. 27:34). (b) The forgiveness is the non infliction of suffering upon the transgressor. If the substituted victim suffers, then the criminal shall be released from suffering. In these and similar passages, Hebrew kāppar, which in the Piel is translated "to make an atonement," literally signifies "to cover over" so as not to be seen. And Hebrew sālah, translated "to forgive," has for its primary idea that of "lightness, lifting up," perhaps "to be at rest or peace" ([Heinrich Friedrich Wilhelm] Gesenius in voce).

The connection of ideas in the Hebrew text appears, then, to be this: The suffering of the substituted bullock or ram has the effect to cover over the guilt of the real criminal and make it invisible to the eye at God the holy. This same thought is conveyed in the following: "Blot out my transgressions. Hide your face from my sins" (Ps. 51:19); "you have cast all my sins behind your back" (Isa. 38:17); "you will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea" (Mic. 7:19). When this covering over is done, the conscience of the transgressor is at rest.

These Hebrew words, however, are translated in the Septuagint by Greek words which introduce different ideas from "covering" and "resting." The word kāppar is rendered by exilaskomai (to propitiate or appease), and the word sālah is translated by aphiemi (to release or

-----Pg. 698-----

let go). The connection of ideas in the Greek translation appears, therefore, to be this: By the suffering of the sinner's atoning substitute, divine wrath at sin is propitiated, and as a consequence of this propitiation the punishment due to sin is released or not inflicted upon the transgressor. This release or noninfliction of penalty is "forgiveness" in the biblical representation. This is conceded by the opponents of the evangelical system. Says [Julius August Ludwig] Wegscheider (Institutes § 140): "Forgiveness or pardon of sins, in the common and biblical usage, is the abolition of the penalty contracted for sins and the restoration of divine benevolence toward the sinner." In the Lord's prayer, the petition for forgiveness is aphes hemin ta opheilemata hemon (Matt. 6:12). Christ assures the paralytic that his sins are forgiven, in the words apheontai soi hai hamartiai sou (9:2). The preaching of the gospel is the preaching of the "release of sins" (aphesis hamartion; Acts 13:38).

It is highly important to notice that in the biblical representation "forgiveness" is inseparably connected with "atonement' and "remission" with "propitiation." The former stands to the latter in the relation of effect to cause. The Scriptures know nothing of forgiveness or remission of penalty in isolation. It always has a foregoing cause or reason. It is because the priest has offered the ram that the individual transgression is "forgiven," that is, not punished in the person of the individual. It is because the priest has offered the bullock upon whose head the elders have laid their hands that the national sin is "forgiven," that is, not visited upon the nation. Without this vicarious shedding of blood, there would be no remission or release of penalty (Heb. 9:22). Not until the transgression has been "covered over" by a sacrifice can there be "peace" in the conscience of the transgressor. Not until the Holy One has been "propitiated" by an atonement can the penalty be "released." Neither of these effects can exist without the antecedent cause. The Bible knows nothing of the remission of punishment arbitrarily, that is, without a ground or reason. Penal suffering in Scripture is released or not inflicted upon the guilty because it has been endured by a substitute. If penalty were remitted by sovereignty merely without any judicial ground or reason whatever, if it were inflicted neither upon the sinner nor his substitute, this would be the abolition of penalty, not the remission of it.

According to the biblical view, divine mercy is seen more in the cause than in the effect, more in the "atonement" for sin than in the "remission" of sin, more in "expiation" than in "forgiveness," more in the vicarious infliction than in the personal non-infliction. After the foundation has been laid for the release of penalty, it is easy to release it. When a sufficient reason has been established why sin should be pardoned, it is easy to pardon. It is the first step that costs. This is taught by St. Paul in Rom. 5:10: "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." The greater includes the less. If God's mercy is great enough to move him to make a vicarious atonement for man's sin, it is certainly great enough to move him to secure the consequences of such an act. If God's compassion is great enough to induce him to lay man's punishment

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upon his own Son, it is surely great enough to induce him not to lay it upon the believer. If God so loves the world as to atone vicariously for its sin, he certainly so loves it as to remit its sin.

In looking, therefore, for the inmost seat and center of divine compassion, we should seek it rather in the work of atonement than in the act of forgiveness, rather in the cause than in the effect. That covenant transaction in the depths of the Trinity, in which God the Father commissioned and gave up the only begotten as a peculiar oblation for man's sin and in which the only begotten voluntarily accepted the commission, is a greater proof and manifestation of divine pity than that other and subsequent transaction in the depths of a believer's soul in which God says, "Son, be of good cheer, your sin is forgiven you." The latter transaction is easy enough, after the former has occurred. But the former transaction cost the infinite and adorable Trinity an effort and a sacrifice that is inconceivable and unutterable. This is the mystery which the angels desire to look into. That a just God should release from penalty after an ample atonement has been made is easy to understand and believe. But that he should himself make the atonement is the wonder and the mystery: "Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us" (1 John 3:16).

Atonement as Objective

It follows from this discussion that atonement is objective in its essential nature. An atonement makes its primary impression upon the party to whom it is made, not upon the party by whom it is made. When a man does a wrong to a fellow man and renders satisfaction for the wrong, this satisfaction is intended to influence the object not the subject, to produce an effect upon the man who has suffered the wrong not the man who did the wrong. Subjective atonement is a contradiction. Atoning to oneself is like lifting oneself. The objective nature of atonement is wrought into the very phraseology of Scripture, as the analysis of the biblical terms just made clearly shows. To "cover" sin is to cover it from the sight of God, not of the sinner. To "propitiate" is to propitiate God, not man.

The Septuagint idea of "propitiation," rather than the Hebrew idea of "covering over," is prominent in the New Testament and consequently passed into the soteriology of the primitive church and from this into both the Romish and the Protestant soteriology. The difference between the two is not essential, since both terms are objective; but there is a difference. Hebrew kappar denotes that the sacrificial victim produces an effect upon sin. It covers it up. But the corresponding Septuagint term hilaskomai denotes that the sacrificial victim produces an effect upon God. It propitiates his holy displeasure. When St. John (1 John 2:2; 4:10) asserts that "Jesus Christ the righteous is the propitiation (hilasmos) for our sins" and that God "sent his Son to be the propitiation for our

-----Pg. 700-----

sins," the implication is that the divine nature is capable of being conciliated by some propitiating act. This propitiating act under the old dispensation was, typically and provisionally, the offering of a lamb or goat as emblematic of the future offering of the Lamb of God; and under the new dispensation it is the actual offering of the body of Jesus Christ, who takes the sinner's place and performs for him the propitiating and reconciling act.

The objective nature of atonement appears, again, in the New Testament term katallage and the verb katallassein. These two words occur nine times in the New Testament with reference to Christ's atoning work (Rom. 5:10–11, 15; 2 Cor. 5:18–20). In the Authorized Version, katallage is translated "atonement" in Rom. 5:11; but in the other instances "reconciliation" and "reconcile" are the terms employed. The verb katallassein primarily signifies "to pay the exchange or difference" and secondarily "to conciliate or appease." The following from Athenaeus (10.33) brings to view both meanings of the word: "Why do we say that a tetradrachma katallattetai, when we never speak of its getting into a passion?" A coin is "exchanged" in the primary signification; and a man is "reconciled" in the secondary. Two parties in a bargain settle their difference or are "reconciled" by one paying the exchange or balance to the other. In like manner two parties at enmity settle their difference or are "reconciled" by one making a satisfaction to the other. In each instance the transaction is called in Greek katallage. The same usage is found in the Anglo-Saxon language. Saxon bot, from which comes the modern boot, denotes, first, a compensation paid to the offended party by the offender; then, second, the reconciling effect produced by such compensation; and, last, it signifies the state of mind which prompted the boot or compensation, namely, repentance itself ([Joseph] Bosworth, Anglo Saxon Dictionary).

The term reconciliation is objective in its signification. Reconciliation terminates upon the object, not upon the subject. The offender reconciles not himself but the person whom he has offended, by undergoing some loss and thereby making amends. This is clearly taught in Matt. 5:24: "First, be reconciled to your brother (diallagethi to adelpho)." Here, the brother who has done the injury is the one who is to make up the difference. He is to propitiate or reconcile his brother to himself by a compensation of some kind. Reconciliation, here, does not denote a process in the mind of the offender, but of the offended. The meaning is not: "First conciliate your own displeasure toward your brother," but, "First conciliate your brother's displeasure toward you." In the Episcopalian order for the holy communion, it is said: "If you shall perceive your offenses to be such as are not only against God, but also against your neighbors; then you shall reconcile yourselves unto them: being ready to make restitution and satisfaction, according to the uttermost of your powers, for all injuries and wrongs done by you to any other." The biblical phrase be reconciled to your brother agrees with that of common life in describing reconciliation from the side of the offending party,

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rather than of the offended. We say of the settlement of a rebellion that "the subjects are reconciled to their sovereign," rather than that "the sovereign is reconciled to the subjects"; though the latter is the more strictly accurate, because it is the sovereign who is reconciled by a satisfaction made to him by the subjects who have rebelled. In Rom. 5:10 believers are said to be "reconciled to God by the death of his Son." Here the reconciliation is described from the side of the offending party; man is said to be reconciled. Yet this does not mean the subjective reconciliation of the sinner toward God, but the objective reconciliation of God toward the sinner. For the preceding verse speaks of God as a being from whose "wrath" the believer is saved by the death of Christ. This shows that the reconciliation effected by Christ's atoning death is that of divine anger against sin. Upon this text, [Heinrich August Wilhelm] Meyer remarks that "the death of Christ does not remove the wrath of man toward God, but it removes God's displeasure toward man." Similarly, [Wilhelm Martin Leberecht] De Wette remarks that "the reconciliation must mean the removal of the wrath of God; it is that reconciliation of God to man which not only here, but in Rom. 3:25; 2 Cor. 5:18–19; Col. 1:21; Eph. 2:16 is referred to the atoning death of Christ."

The priestly work of Christ is also represented in Scripture under the figure of a price or ransom. This, also, is an objective term. The price is paid by the subject to the object: "The Son of Man is come to give his life a ransom (lytron) for (anti) many" (Matt. 20:28); "the church of God which he has purchased (peripoiesato) with his own blood" (Acts 20:28); "the redemption (apolytrosis) that is in Jesus Christ" (Rom. 3:24); "you are bought (egorasthete) with a price" (1 Cor. 6:20); "Christ has redeemed (exegorasen) us from the curse" (Gal. 3:13); "redemption through his blood" (Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14); "who gave himself a ransom (antilytron) for all" (1 Tim. 2:6). The allusion in the figure is sometimes to the payment of a debt and sometimes to the liberation of a captive. In either case, it is not Satan but God who holds the claim. Man has not transgressed against Satan, but against God. The debt that requires canceling is due to a divine attribute, not to the rebel archangel. The ransom that must be paid is for the purpose of delivering the sinner from the demands of justice, not of the devil. Satan cannot acquire or establish legal claims upon any being whatever.

Some of the early fathers misinterpreted this doctrine of a "ransom" and introduced a vitiating element into the patristic soteriology, which however was soon eliminated and has never reappeared. They explained certain texts which refer to sanctification as referring to justification. In 2 Tim. 2:26 sinful men are said to be "taken captive by the devil at his will." In 1 Tim. 1:20 Hymenaeus and Alexander are "delivered unto Satan." In 1 Cor. 5:5 St. Paul commands the church to "deliver over" the incestuous member "to Satan for the destruction of the flesh." In these passages, reference is had to the power which Satan has over the creature who has voluntarily subjected himself to him. The sinner is Satan's captive upon the principle mentioned by Christ in John 8:34: "Whosoever

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commits sin is the servant (doulos) of sin"; and by St. Paul in Rom. 6:16: "Know not that to whom you yield yourselves servants (doulous) to obey, his servants you are to whom you obey; whether of sin unto death or of obedience unto righteousness?" There is in these passages no reference to any legal or rightful claim which the devil has over the transgressor, but only to the strong and tyrannical grasp which he has upon him. This captivity to Satan is related to the work of the Holy Spirit, more than to the atoning efficacy of Christ's blood; and deliverance from it makes a part of the work of sanctification, rather than of justification. This deliverance is preceded by another. In the order of nature, it is not until man has been first redeemed by the atoning blood from the claims of justice, that he is redeemed by the indwelling Spirit from the captivity and bondage of sin and Satan.

When, therefore, the efficacy of Christ's death is represented as the payment of a ransom price, the same objective reference of Christ's work is intended as in the previous instances of "propitiation" and "reconciliation." By Christ's death, man is ransomed from the righteous claims of another being than himself. That being is not Satan, but God the holy and just. And these claims are vicariously met. God satisfies God's claims in man's place. God's mercy ransoms man from God's justice.

We have thus seen from this examination of the scriptural representations that Christ's priestly work has an objective reference, namely, that it affects and influences the divine being. Christ's atonement "covers sin" from God's sight. It "propitiates" God's wrath against sin. It "reconciles" God's justice toward the sinner. It "pays a ransom" to God for the sinner. None of these acts terminate upon man the subject, but all terminate upon God the object. Christ does not "cover sin" from the sinner's sight. He does not "propitiate" the sinner's wrath. He does not "reconcile" the sinner to the sinner. He does not "pay a ransom" to the sinner. These acts are each and all of them outward and transitive in their aim and reference. They are directed toward the infinite, not the finite; toward the Creator, not the creature. Whatever be the effect wrought by the vicarious death of the Son of God, it is wrought upon the divine nature. If it appeases, it appeases that nature; if it propitiates, it propitiates that nature; if it satisfies, it satisfies that nature; if it reconciles, it reconciles that nature. It is impossible to put any other interpretation upon the scriptural ideas and representations. A merely subjective reference, which would find all the meaning of them within the soul of man, requires a forced and violent exegesis of Scripture and a self-contradictory use of the word atonement.

At the same time, revelation plainly teaches that the author of this atoning influence and effect upon the divine being is the divine being himself. God propitiates, appeases, satisfies, and reconciles God. None of these are the acts of the creature. In all this work of propitiation, reconciliation, and redemption, God himself is the originating and active agent. He is therefore both active and passive, both agent and patient. God is the being who is angry at sin, and God is the being who propitiates this anger. God is the offended party, and he is the one who reconciles the offended party. It is divine justice that demands satisfaction, and it is divine compassion that makes the satisfaction. God is the one who holds man in a righteous captivity, and he is the one who pays the

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ransom that frees him from it. God is the holy judge of man who requires satisfaction for sin, and God is the merciful Father of man who provides it for him. This fact relieves the doctrine of vicarious atonement of all appearance of severity and evinces it to be the height of mercy and compassion. If it were man and not God who provided the atonement, the case would be otherwise. This peculiarity of the case is taught in Scripture. In 2 Cor. 5:18–19 it is said that "God has reconciled us to himself (heauto) by Jesus Christ" and that "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself (heauto). The statement is repeated in Col. 1:20: "It pleased the Father through the blood of Christ's cross to reconcile all things unto himself." According to this, in the work of vicarious atonement God is both subject and object, active and passive. He exerts a propitiating influence when he makes this atonement, and he receives a propitiating influence when he accepts it. He performs an atoning work, and his own attribute of justice feels the effect of it. Says Augustine (On the Trinity 4.14.19): "The same one and true mediator reconciles us to God by the atoning sacrifice, remains one with God to whom he offers it, makes those one in himself for whom he offers it, and is himself both the offerer and the offering." Similarly, [Franz Hermann Reinhold] Frank (Christian Certainty, 352) remarks that "freedom from guilt is possible for man, because it has been provided for by God, and this provision rests upon a transaction of God with himself, whereby as other [i.e., as Son] he has made satisfaction to the claims of his own justice upon the sinner."

This doctrine of Scripture has passed into the creeds and litanies of the church. In the English litany there is the petition: "From your wrath and from everlasting damnation, Good Lord, deliver us." Here, the very same being who is displeased is asked to save from the displeasure. The very same holy God who is angry at sin is implored by the sinner to deliver him from the effects of this anger. And this is justified by the example of David, who cries, "O Lord, rebuke me not in your wrath, neither chasten me in your hot displeasure" (Ps. 38:1); and by the words of God himself addressed to his people through the prophet, "In my wrath I smote you, but in my favor have I had mercy upon you" (Isa. 60:10). The prophet Hosea (6:1) says to the unfaithful church: "Come and let us return unto the Lord: for he has torn, and he will heal us; he has smitten, and he will bind us up." In Zech. 1:2–4 Jehovah is described as "sore displeased" and yet at the same time as exhibiting clemency toward those with whom he is displeased: "The Lord has been sore displeased with your fathers. Therefore say unto them, Thus says the Lord of hosts, Turn unto me, says the Lord of hosts, and I will turn unto you, says the Lord of hosts." "The Lord said to Eliphaz, My wrath is kindled against you, and against your two friends. Therefore take unto you seven bullocks and seven rams and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering, lest I deal with you after your folly" (Job 42:7–8). Here, the very same God who was displeased with Job's friends devises for them a method whereby they may avert the displeasure. Upon a larger scale, God is displeased with every sinful man, yet he himself provides a method whereby sinful man may avert this displeasure. This is eminently the case with the believer. "When," says Calvin (3.2.21), "the saints seem to themselves to feel most the anger of God, they still confide their complaints to him; and when there is no appearance of his hearing them, they still continue to call upon him."

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Says Anselm (Meditation 2), "Take heart, O sinner, take heart! Do not despair; hope in him whom you fear. Flee to him from whom you have fled. Boldly call on him whom you have haughtily provoked."

The doctrine of vicarious atonement, consequently, implies that in God there exist simultaneously both wrath and compassion. In this fact is seen the infinite difference between divine and human anger. When God is displeased with the sinner, he compassionately desires that the sinner may escape the displeasure and invents a way of escaping it. But when man is displeased with his fellowman, he does not desire that his fellowman may escape the displeasure and devises no way of escape. Divine wrath issues from the constitutional and necessary antagonism between divine holiness and moral evil. Divine compassion springs from the benevolent interest which God feels in the work of his hands. The compassion is founded in God's paternal relation to man; the wrath is founded in his judicial relation to him. God as a Creator and Father pities the sinner; as a judge he is displeased with him. Wrath against sin must be both felt and manifested by God; compassion toward the sinner must be felt, but may or may not be manifested by him. Justice is necessary in its exercise, but mercy is optional. The righteous feeling of wrath toward sin is immutable and eternal in God, but it may be propitiated by the gracious feeling of compassion toward the sinner, which is also immutable and eternal in God. God the father of men may reconcile God the judge of men. Whether this shall be done depends upon the sovereign pleasure of God. He is not obliged and necessitated to propitiate his own wrath for the sinner, as he is to punish sin; but he has mercifully determined to do this and has done it by the atonement of Jesus Christ. By the method of vicarious substitution of penalty, God satisfies his own justice and reconciles his own displeasure toward the transgressor. That moral emotion in the divine essence which from the nature and necessity of the case is incensed against sin, God himself placates by a self-sacrifice that inures to the benefit of the guilty creature. Here, the compassion and benevolent love of God propitiate the wrath and holy justice of God. The two feelings exist together in one and the same being. The propitiation is no oblation ab extra: no device of a third party or even of sinful man himself to render God placable toward man. It is wholly ab intra: a self-oblation upon the part of the deity himself, in the exercise of his benevolence toward the guilty, by which to satisfy those constitutional imperatives of the divine nature which without it must find their satisfaction in the personal punishment of the transgressor or else be outraged by arbitrary omnipotence.

Upon this point, Augustine (Tractates on the Gospel of John, ex. 6), remarks:
It is written, "God commends his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us." He loved us, therefore, even when in the exercise of enmity toward him we were working iniquity. And yet it is said with perfect truth, "You hate, O Lord, all workers of iniquity." Wherefore, in a wonderful and divine manner, he both hated and loved us at the same time. He hated us, as being different from what he had made us; but as our iniquity had not entirely destroyed his work in us, he could at the same

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time, in everyone of us, hate what we had done and love what he had created. In every instance it is truly said of God [in Wisdom of Solomon 11:4] "You hate nothing which you have made; for never would you have made anything, if you had hated it."
Calvin, after quoting the above from Augustine, remarks (2.16.3) that
God who is the perfection of righteousness cannot love iniquity, which he beholds in us all. We all, therefore, have in us that which deserves God's hatred. Wherefore, in respect to our corrupt nature and the consequent depravity of our lives, we are all really offensive to God, guilty in his sight, and born to the damnation of hell. But because God is unwilling to lose that in us which is his own, he still finds something in us which his benevolence (benignitas) can love. For notwithstanding that we are sinners by our own fault, we are yet his creatures; though we have brought death upon ourselves yet he had created us for life.
Turretin (Concerning the Truth of Christ's Satisfaction 1.1) distinguishes between "compassion" and "reconciliation." Because God is compassionate in his own excellent and perfect nature, he can become reconciled toward a transgressor of his law. If he were inherently destitute of compassion, he would be incapable of reconciliation. Compassion is a feeling, reconciliation is an act resulting from it. The former is inherent and necessary; the latter is optional and sovereign. If God were not compassionate and placable, he could not be propitiated by the sacrifice of Christ. An implacable and merciless being could not be conciliated and would do nothing to effect a reconciliation. God is moved by a feeling of compassion and a benevolent affection toward sinners, prior to and irrespective of the death of Christ: "When we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8). The death of Christ did not make God compassionate and merciful. He is always and eternally so. But God's holy justice is not reconciled to sinners unless Christ die for their sin. The compassion is prior in the order of nature to the death of Christ; the reconciliation of justice is subsequent to it: "Before the death of Christ, God was already compassionate (misericors) and placable. This moved him to provide salvation and redemption for man. But he was actually reconciled and propitiated, only upon the condition and supposition of that death of Christ which was required by eternal justice."

In this manner, compassion and wrath coexist in God. Says Turretin (as above):
To us indeed it seems difficult to conceive that the same person who is offended with us should also love us; because, when any feeling takes possession of us we are apt to be wholly engrossed with it. Thus if our anger is inflamed against anyone, there is usually no room in us for favor toward him; and on the other hand, if we regard him with favor, there is often connected with it the most unrighteous indulgence. But if we could cast off the disorders of passion and clothe ourselves in the garments of righteousness, we might easily harmonize these things with one another. A father offended with the viciousness of his son loves him as a son, yet is angry with him as being vicious. A judge, in like manner, may be angry and moved to punish, yet not the less on this account inclined by compassion to pardon the offender, if only someone would stand forth and satisfy the claims of justice for him. Why then, should not God, who is most righteous and benevolent, at once by reason of his justice demand penalty and by reason of his compassion provide satisfaction for us?
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Turretin quotes in proof of this view the following from Aquinas (3.49.4): "We are not said to have been reconciled as if God began to love us anew (de novo), for he loved us with an eternal love. Rather, we are said to have been reconciled because through this reconciliation every cause of hatred was removed, on the one hand through the cleansing of sin, and on the other hand through the compensation of a more acceptable good (acceptabilioris boni)." He also remarks: "The Scholastics [such as Venerable Bede on the 5th of Romans] say that God loved the human race insofar as he himself made that nature, but he hates it insofar as men have brought guilt on themselves."

In all that is said, consequently, respecting the wrath of God, in Christian theology, it is of the utmost importance to keep in view the fact that this wrath is compatible with benevolence and compassion. This is the infinite difference in kind between divine and human anger. At the very moment when God is displeased, he is capable of devising kind things for the object of his displeasure: "While we were yet sinners Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8). And at the very instant when guilty man is conscious that divine wrath is resting upon him, he may address his supplication for a blessing to the very being who is angry with his sin and may pray: "From your wrath, good Lord, deliver me." And the great and ample warrant and encouragement for men to do this is found in the sacrifice of the Son of God. For in and by this atoning oblation, divine compassion conciliates divine wrath against sin. In the death of the God-man, "righteousness and peace, justice and mercy, kiss each other" (Ps. 85:10). The mercy vicariously satisfies the justice; divine compassion in the sinner's stead receives upon itself the stroke of divine wrath; God the Father smites God the Son, in the transgressor's place: "Awake, O sword, against the man that is my fellow, says the Lord of hosts" (Zech. 13:7).

This subject is elucidated still further by noticing the difference between the holy wrath of God and the wicked wrath of man: "The wrath of man works not the righteousness of God" (James 1:20). When man is angry at man, this feeling is absolutely incompatible with the feeling of compassion and benevolent love. Selfish human anger and benevolence cannot be simultaneous. They cannot possibly coexist. When a man, under the impulse of sinful displeasure, says to his brother "Raca" or "you fool" (Matt. 5:22), when he feels passionate and selfish wrath, he cannot devise good things for his brother man. On the contrary, he devises only evil things. He plots his neighbor's destruction. The wrath of the human heart is not only incompatible with benevolence, but is often intensely malignant. It is even increased by the moral excellence

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that is in the object of it. Holiness in a fellow creature sometimes makes wicked human anger hotter and more deadly. The Jews gnashed their teeth in rage at the meekness and innocence of Christ. "The hatred of the wicked," says Rousseau (Confessions 9), "is only roused the more from the impossibility of finding any just grounds on which it can rest; and the very consciousness of their own injustice is only a grievance the more against him who is the object of it." "They hated the one whom they injured," says Tacitus. This kind of wrath requires complete eradication before compassion can exist. "Better it were," says Luther (Table Talk: Of God's Works [LXXXV]), "that God should be angry with us than that we be angry with God, for he can soon be at a union with us again, because he is merciful; but when we are angry with him, then the case is not to be helped."

Still further elucidation of this subject is found in the resemblance between the holy wrath of God and the righteous anger of the human conscience. The sinful feeling of passionate anger to which we have just alluded is an emotion of the heart; but the righteous feeling of dispassionate anger to which we now allude is in the conscience. This is a different faculty from the heart. Its temper toward sin is unselfish and impartial, like the wrath of God. And this feeling can exist simultaneously with that of benevolence. When a man's own conscience is displacent and remorseful over his own sin, there is no malice toward the man himself, "for no man ever yet hated his own flesh" (Eph. 5:29). At the very moment when a just and righteous man's conscience is offended and incensed at the wickedness of a fellowman, he can and often does devise good things toward him. The most self-sacrificing philanthropists are those whose conscience is the most sensitive toward the moral evil which they endeavor to remove and whose moral displeasure against sin is the most vivid and emphatic. It is not the sentimental Rousseau, but the righteous Calvin who would willingly lay down his life, if thereby he could save men from eternal retribution. The conscience of Rousseau was dull and torpid, compared with the keen and energetic conscience of Calvin; but the desire of the latter for the spiritual and eternal welfare of sinful men was a thousand times greater than that of the former, supposing that there was in Rousseau any desire at all for the spiritual and eternal welfare of man. When St. Paul says respecting Alexander the coppersmith, "The Lord reward him according to his works" (2 Tim. 7:14), he gives expression to the righteous displeasure of a pure conscience toward one who was opposing the gospel of Christ and the progress of God's kingdom in the earth. It was not any personal injury to the apostle that awakened the desire for divine retribution in the case, but a zeal for the glory of God and the welfare of man. Could St. Paul by any self-sacrifice on his own part have produced repentance and reformation in Alexander, he would gladly have made it. As in the instance of his unbelieving Jewish kindred, he would have been willing to be "accursed from Christ" for this purpose (Rom. 9:3). But when a profane man angrily says to his fellowman: "God damn you," this is the malignant utterance of the selfish passion of the human heart and is incompatible with any benevolent feeling.

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We find, then, that in the exercise of Christ's priestly office the agency is wholly within the divine nature itself. The justice and the mercy, the wrath and the compassion, are qualities of one and the same eternal being. It follows, consequently, that the explanation of the great subject of divine reconciliation lies in the doctrine of the Trinity. The doctrine of vicarious atonement stands or falls with that of the triune God. If God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three distinct persons, each one of them really objective to the others, then one of them can do a personal work not done by the others that shall have an effect upon the Godhead. And if God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are also one undivided being in nature and essence, then this effect, whatever it be, is not limited and confined to anyone of the persons exclusive of the others, but is experienced by the one whole undivided nature and essence itself. The Godhead, and not merely God the Father or God the Son or God the Spirit, is reconciled to guilty man by the judicial suffering of one of the persons of the Godhead incarnate. The Son of God is a person distinct from and objective to the Father and the Spirit. Hence, he can do a work which neither of them does. He becomes incarnate, not they. He suffers and dies for man, not they. And yet the efficacy of this work, which is his work as a trinitarian person, can terminate upon that entire divine nature which is all in God the Father and all in God the Spirit, as it is all in God the Son. "Christ," says Frank (Christian Certainty, 366), "experienced as a [vicarious] sinner both subjection to God and rejection by God; but yet as one who can call the God who has rejected him, his God, and who while the wrath of God goes forth upon him and delivers him up to the punitive infliction, nevertheless can pray: 'Not my will, but yours be done.'"

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A distinction is made by some theologians between "satisfaction" and "atonement." Christ's satisfaction is his fulfilling the law both as precept and penalty. Christ's atonement, as antithetic to satisfaction, includes only what Christ does to fulfill the law as penalty. According to this distinction, Christ's atonement would be a part of his satisfaction. The objections to this mode of distinguishing are that (a) satisfaction is better fitted to denote Christ's particular work than his whole work of redemption; in theological literature, it is more commonly the synonym of atonement; (b) by this distinction, atonement may be made to rest upon the passive obedience alone to the exclusion of the active. This will depend upon whether "obedience" is employed in the comprehensive sense of including all that Christ underwent in his estate of humiliation, both in obeying and suffering.

Another distinction is made by some between "satisfaction" and "merit." In this case, "satisfaction" is employed in a restricted signification. It denotes the satisfaction of retributive justice and has respect to the law as penalty. Thus employed, the term is equivalent to "atonement." "Merit" as antithetic to "satisfaction" has respect to the law as precept and is founded upon Christ's active obedience. Christ vicariously obeys the law and so vicariously merits for the believer the reward of eternal life. Respecting this distinction, Turretin ([Institutes] 14.13.12) remarks that
the two things are not to be separated from each other. We are not to say as some do that the "satisfaction" is by the passive work of Christ alone and that the "merit" is by the active work alone. The satisfaction and the merit are not to be thus viewed in isolation, each by itself, because the benefit in each depends upon the total work of Christ. For sin cannot be expiated until the law as precept has been perfectly fulfilled; nor can a title to eternal life be merited before the guilt of sin has been atoned for. Meruit ergo satisfaciendo, et merendo satisfecit.
There is some ambiguity in this distinction, also. The term merit is often applied to Christ's passive obedience as well as to his active. The "merit of Christ's blood" is a familiar phrase. The mediator was meritorious in reference to the law's penalty as well as to the law's precept.

Atonement and Its Necessity in Relation to Divine Justice

Having thus considered the nature of atonement and the sufferings of the mediator as constituting it, we proceed to notice some further characteristics of it.

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In the first place, atonement is correlated to justice, not to benevolence. Some have maintained that retributive justice is a phase of benevolence. They would ultimately reduce all the moral attributes to one, namely, divine love. This theory is built upon the text "God is love." But there are texts affirming that "God is light" (1 John 1:5) and that "God is a consuming fire" (Heb. 12:29). The affirmation "holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts" (Isa. 6:3) is equivalent to "God is holiness." Upon the strength of these texts, it might be contended that all divine attributes may be reduced to that of wisdom or of justice or of holiness. The true view is that each of the attributes stands side by side with all the others and cannot be merged and lost in any other. Justice is no more a phase of benevolence than benevolence is a phase of justice. Each attribute has a certain distinctive characteristic which does not belong to the others and by which it is a different attribute. The fact that one divine attribute affects and influences another does not convert one into another. Omnipotence acts wisely, but this does not prove that omnipotence is a mode of wisdom. God's justice acts benevolently, not malevolently, but this does not prove that justice is a mode of benevolence. God's benevolence acts justly, not unjustly, but this does not prove that benevolence is a mode of justice. Divine attributes do not find a center of unity in anyone of their own number, but in the divine essence. It is the divine nature itself, not the divine attribute of love or any other attribute, in which they all inhere.

Accordingly, the atoning sufferings and death of Christ are related to the attribute of justice rather than to any other one of the divine attributes. They manifest and exhibit other attributes, such as wisdom, omnipotence, benevolence, and compassion, nay, all the other attributes, but they are an atonement only for retributive justice. Christ's death does not propitiate or satisfy God's benevolence nor his wisdom nor his omnipotence; but it satisfies his justice, Atonement cannot be correlated to benevolence, any more than creation can be correlated to omniscience. It is true that the creation of the world supposes omniscience, but creation is an act of power rather than of knowledge and is therefore referred to omnipotence, rather than to omniscience. In like manner, Christ's atonement supposes benevolence in God, but benevolence is not the particular attribute that requires the atonement. It is retributive justice that demands the punishment of sin. If there were in God mere and isolated benevolence, there would be neither personal nor vicarious punishment; just as there would be no creation if there were in God mere and isolated omniscience. Benevolence alone and wholly disconnected from justice would not cause pain but pleasure. It would relieve from suffering instead of inflicting it. St. Paul in Rom. 5:7 teaches the diversity between the attribute of justice and that of benevolence, in saying that "scarcely for a just man will one die; yet peradventure for a benevolent man some would even dare to die."

Second, an atonement for sin of one kind or the other, if not personal then vicarious, is necessary, not optional. The transgressor must either die himself, or someone must die for him. This arises from the nature

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of that divine attribute to which atonement is a correlate. Retributive justice, we have seen (pp. 297–302), is necessary in its operation. The claim of law upon the transgressor for punishment is absolute and indefeasible. The eternal judge may or may not exercise mercy, but he must exercise justice. He can neither waive the claims of law in part nor abolish them altogether. The only possible mode, consequently, of delivering a creature who is obnoxious to the demands of retributive justice is to satisfy them for him. The claims themselves must be met and extinguished, either personally or by substitution: "Let justice fall from heaven." And this necessity of an atonement is absolute, not relative. It is not made necessary by divine decision in the sense that the divine decision might have been otherwise. It is not correct to say that God might have saved man without a vicarious atonement had he been pleased so to do. For this is equivalent to saying that God might have abolished the claims of law and justice had he been pleased to do so.

In the third place, atonement, either personal or vicarious, naturally and necessarily cancels legal claims. This means that there is such a natural and necessary correlation between vicarious atonement and justice that the former supplies all that is required by the latter. It does not mean that Christ's vicarious atonement naturally and necessarily saves every man; because the relation of Christ's atonement to divine justice is one thing, but the relation of a particular person to Christ's atonement is a very different thing. Christ's death as related to the claims of the law upon all mankind cancels those claims wholly. It is an infinite "propitiation for the sins of the whole world" (1 John 2:2). But the relation of an impenitent person to this atonement is that of unbelief and rejection of it. Consequently, what the atonement has effected objectively in reference to the attribute of divine justice is not effected subjectively in the conscience of the individual. There is an infinite satisfaction that naturally and necessarily cancels legal claims, but unbelief derives no benefit from the fact.

In like manner, a personal atonement naturally and necessarily cancels legal claims. When the prescribed human penalty has been personally endured by the criminal, human justice is satisfied, and there are no more outstanding claims upon him. And this, by reason of the essential nature of justice. Justice insists upon nothing but what is due, and when it obtains this, it shows its righteousness in not requiring anything further, as it does in not accepting anything less. Consequently, personal atonement operates inevitably and, we might almost say, mechanically. If a criminal suffers the penalty affixed to his crime, he owes nothing more in the way of penalty to the law. He cannot be punished a second time. Law and justice cannot now touch him, so far as this particular crime and this particular penalty are concerned. It would be unjust to cause him the least jot or tittle of further retributive suffering for that crime which by the supposition he has personally atoned for. The law now owes him immunity from suffering anything more. It is not grace in the law not to punish him any further, but it is debt. The law itself is under obligation not to punish a criminal who has once been punished. St. Paul says respecting grace and debt in the case of active obedience that "to him that works is the reward not reckoned of grace but of debt; otherwise work is no more work" (Rom. 4:4; 11:6). In like manner, it may be said that "to him who atones for sin, the legal consequence

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of atonement is not reckoned of grace but of debt; otherwise atonement is no more atonement."

This reasoning applies to vicarious atonement equally with personal. Justice does not require a second sacrifice from Christ in addition to the first: "Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many" (Heb. 10:28). This one offering expiated "the sins of the whole world," and justice is completely satisfied in reference to them. The death of the God-man naturally and necessarily canceled all legal claims. When a particular person trusts in this infinite atonement and it is imputed to him by God, it then becomes his atonement for judicial purposes as really as if he had made it himself, and then it naturally and necessarily cancels his personal guilt, and he has the testimony that it does in his peace of conscience. Divine justice does not, in this case, require an additional atonement from the believer. It does not demand penal suffering from a person for whom a divine substitute has rendered a full satisfaction, which justice itself has accepted in reference to this very person. By accepting a vicarious atonement for a particular individual, divine justice precludes itself from requiring a personal atonement from him. Accordingly, Scripture represents the non-infliction of penalty upon the believer in Christ's atonement as an act of justice to Christ and also to the believer viewed as one with Christ: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins" (1 John 1:9); "who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? Who is he that condemns? It is Christ that died" (Rom. 8:33–34). The atoning mediator can demand upon principles of strict justice the release from penalty of any sinful man in respect to whom he makes the demand. And if in such a case we should suppose the demand to be refused by eternal justice, we should suppose a case in which eternal justice is unjust. For, by the supposition, justice has inflicted upon the mediator the full penalty due to this sinner and then refuses to the mediator that release of this sinner from penalty which the mediator has earned by his own suffering and which is now absolutely due to him as the reward of his suffering. Says Edwards (Wisdom in Salvation in Works 4.150):
It is so ordered now that the glory of the attribute of divine justice requires the salvation of those that believe. The justice of God that [irrespective of Christ's atonement] required man's damnation and seemed inconsistent with his salvation now [having respect to Christ's atonement] as much requires the salvation of those that believe in Christ, as ever before it required their damnation. Salvation is an absolute debt to the believer from God, so that he may in justice demand it on the ground of what his surety has done. (see also Edwards, God's Sovereignty in Works 4.552)
Similarly Anselm (Why the God-Man? 2.20) asks, "Can anything be more just than for God to remit all debt, when in the sufferings of the Godman he receives a satisfaction greater than all the debt?" Says Ezekiel Hopkins (Exposition of the Lord's Prayer):
The pardon of sin is not merely an act of mercy, but also an act of justice. What abundant cause of comfort may this be to all believers that God's justice as well as his mercy shall acquit them; that that attribute of God at the apprehension of which they are wont to tremble should interpose in their behalf and plead for them! And yet, through the all-sufficient expiation and atonement that Christ has made for our sins, this mystery is affected and justice itself brought over from being a formidable

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adversary to be of our party and to plead for us. (Shedd, Theological Essays, 310–16)
It may be asked: If atonement naturally and necessarily cancels guilt, why does not the vicarious atonement of Christ save all men indiscriminately, as the universalist contends? The substituted suffering of Christ being infinite is equal in value to the personal suffering of all mankind; why then are not all men upon the same footing and in the class of the saved, by virtue of it? The answer is because it is a natural impossibility. Vicarious atonement without faith in it is powerless to save. It is not the making of this atonement, but the trusting in it, that saves the sinner: "By faith are you saved" (Eph. 2:8); "he that believes shall be saved" (Mark 16:16). The making of this atonement merely satisfies the legal claims, and this is all that it does. If it were made but never imputed and appropriated, it would result in no salvation. A substituted satisfaction of justice without an act of trust in it would be useless to sinners. It is as naturally impossible that Christ's death should save from punishment one who does not confide in it as that a loaf of bread should save from starvation a man who does not eat it. The assertion that because the atonement of Christ is sufficient for all men therefore no men are lost is as absurd as the assertion that because the grain produced in the year 1880 was sufficient to support the life of all men on the globe therefore no men died of starvation during that year. The mere fact that Jesus Christ made satisfaction for human sin, alone and of itself, will save no soul. Christ, conceivably, might have died precisely as he did and his death have been just as valuable for expiatory purposes as it is, but if his death had not been followed with the work of the Holy Spirit and the act of faith on the part of individual men, he would have died in vain. Unless his objective work is subjectively appropriated, it is useless so far as personal salvation is concerned. Christ's suffering is sufficient to cancel the guilt of all men and in its own nature completely satisfies the broken law. But all men do not make it their own atonement by faith in it by pleading the merit of it in prayer and mentioning it as the reason and ground of their pardon. They do not regard and use it as their own possession and blessing. It is nothing for them but a historical fact. In this state of things, the atonement of Christ is powerless to save. It remains in the possession of Christ who made it and has not been transferred to the individual. In the scriptural phrase, it has not been "imputed." There may be a sum of money in the hands of a rich man that is sufficient in amount to pay the debts of a million debtors; but unless they individually take money from his hands into their own, they cannot pay their debts with it. There must be a personal act of each debtor in order that this sum of money on deposit may actually extinguish individual indebtedness. Should one of the debtors, when payment is demanded of him, merely say that there is an abundance of money on deposit, but take no steps himself to get it and pay it to his creditor, he would be told that an undrawn deposit is not a payment of a debt. "The act of God," says Owen (Justification, chap. 10), "in laying our sins on Christ, conveyed no title to us to what Christ did and suffered. This doing and suffering is not immediately by virtue thereof ours or esteemed ours; because God has appointed something else [namely, faith] not only antecedent thereto, but as the means of it." (See supplement 6.2.7. [below])

The supposition that the objective satisfaction of justice by Christ saves of and by itself, without any application of it by the Holy Spirit

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and without any trust in it by the individual man, overlooks the fact that while sin has a resemblance to a pecuniary debt, as is taught in the petition "forgive us our debts," it differs from it in two important particulars. In the instance of pecuniary indebtedness, there is no need of a consent and arrangement on the part of the creditor when there is a vicarious payment. Any person may step up and discharge a money obligation for a debtor, and the obligation ceases ipso facto. But in the instance of moral indebtedness to justice or guilt, there must be a consent of the creditor, namely, the judge, before there can be a substitution of payment. Should the Supreme Judge refuse to permit another person to suffer for the sinner and compel him to suffer for his own sin, this would be just. Consequently, substitution in the case of moral penalty requires a consent and covenant on the part of God, with conditions and limitations, while substitution in the case of a pecuniary debt requires no consent, covenant, or limitations. Second, after the vicarious atonement has been permitted and provided, there is still another condition in the case, namely, that the sinner shall confess and repent of the sin for which the atonement was made and trust in the atonement itself.

Another error underlying the varieties of universalism is the assumption that because an atonement sufficient for all men has been made, all men are entitled to the benefits of it. This would be true if all men had made this atonement. But inasmuch as they had nothing to do with the making of it, they have not the slightest right or title to it. No sinner has a claim upon the expiatory oblation of Jesus Christ. It belongs entirely to the maker, and he may do what he will with his own. He may impute it to any man whom he pleases or not impute it to any man whom he pleases (Rom. 9:18). Even the act of faith does not by its intrinsic merit entitle the believer to the benefits of Christ's satisfaction. This would make salvation a debt which the Redeemer owes because of an act of the believer. It is only because Christ has promised and thereby bound himself to bestow the benefits of redemption upon everyone that believes that salvation is certain to faith.

It is objected that it is unjust to exact personal penalty from any individuals of the human race if a vicarious penalty equal in value to that due from the whole race has been paid to justice. The injustice alleged in this objection may mean injustice toward the individual unbeliever who is personally punished; or it may mean injustice in regard to what the divine law is entitled to on account of man's sin. An examination will show that there is no injustice done in either respect. When an individual unbeliever is personally punished for his own sins, he receives what he deserves; and there is no injustice in this. The fact that a vicarious atonement has been made that is sufficient to expiate his sins does not stop justice from punishing him personally for them, unless it can be shown that he is the author of the vicarious atonement. If this were so, then indeed he might complain of the personal satisfaction that is required of him. In this case, one and the same party would make two satisfactions for one and the same sin: one vicarious and one personal. When therefore an individual unbeliever suffers for his own sin, he "receives the due reward of his deeds" (Luke 23:24). And since he did not make the vicarious atonement "for the sins of the whole world" and therefore has no more right or title to it or any of its benefits than an inhabitant of Saturn, he cannot claim exemption from personal penalty on the ground of it. Says Owen (Satisfaction of Christ):

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The satisfaction of Christ made for sin, being not made by the sinner, there must of necessity be a rule, order, and law constitution how the sinner may come to be interested in it and made partaker of it. For the consequent of the freedom of one by the sacrifice of another is not natural or necessary, but must proceed and arise from a law constitution, compact, and agreement. Now the way constituted and appointed is that of faith, as explained in the Scriptures. If men believe not, they are no less liable to the punishment due to their sins, than if no satisfaction at all were made for sinners.
The other injustice alleged in the objection relates to the divine law and government. It is urged that when the unbeliever is personally punished, after an infinite vicarious satisfaction for human sin has been made, justice, in this case, gets more than its dues, which is as unjust as to get less. This is a mathematical objection and must receive a mathematical answer. The alleged excess in the case is like the addition of a finite number to infinity, which is no increase. The everlasting suffering of all mankind, and still more of only a part, is a finite suffering. Neither the sufferer nor the duration is mathematically infinite, for the duration begins, though it does not end. But the suffering of the God-man is mathematically infinite because his person is absolutely infinite. When, therefore, any amount of finite human suffering is added to the infinite suffering of the Godman, it is no increase of value. Justice, mathematically, gets no more penalty when the suffering of lost men is added to that of Jesus Christ than it would without this addition. The law is more magnified and honored by the suffering of incarnate God than it would be by the suffering of all men individually, because its demand for a strictly infinite satisfaction for a strictly infinite evil is more completely met. In this sense, "Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound" (Rom. 5:20).

It is for this reason, that finite numbers, small or great, are of no consequence when the value of Christ's oblation is under consideration. One sinner needs the whole infinite Christ and his whole sacrifice because of the infinite guilt of his sin. And a million sinners need the same sacrifice and no more. The guilt of one man in relation to God is infinite; and the infinite sacrifice of Christ cancels it. The guilt of a million men is infinite—not, however, because a million is a larger number than one, but because of the relation of sin to God—and the one infinite sacrifice of Christ cancels it. If only one man were to be saved, Christ must suffer and die precisely as he has; and if the human race were tenfold more numerous than it is, his death would be ample for their salvation. An infinite satisfaction meets and cancels infinite guilt, whether there be one man or millions.
Supplement 6.2.7 (see p. 726 [above]) The expiation of sin is distinguishable from the pardon of it. The former, conceivably, might take place and the latter not. When Christ died on Calvary, the whole mass, so to speak, of human sin was expiated merely by that death; but the whole mass was not pardoned merely by that death. The claims of law and justice for the sins of the whole world were satisfied by the "offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" (Heb. 10:10); but the sins of every individual man were not forgiven and "blotted out" by this transaction. Still another transaction was requisite in order to this, namely the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the sinner working faith in this expiatory offering and the declarative act of God saying, "your sin is forgiven you." The Son of God, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, "sat down on the right hand of God" (10:12); but if the redeeming work of the Trinity had stopped at this point, not a soul of mankind would have been pardoned and justified, yet the expiatory value of the "one sacrifice" would have been just the same.
Extract from W. G. T. Shedd's Dogmatic Theology (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian & Reformed, 2003), 696–708; 722–728. See also W. G. T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1980), 2:389–409; 2:433–445; 3:418. Or, according to one online edition: W. G. T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, 3rd Edition (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1888), 2:389–409; 2:433–445; 3:418.


Monergism also has Shedd on vicarious atonement on their website.

(HT: Mike M.)

May 9, 2008

An Excellent Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758) Quote on Redemption

This is old news for some, but I still think this quote is fascinating. Edwards says:
From these things it will inevitably follow, that however Christ in some sense may be said to die for all, and to redeem all visible Christians, yea, the whole world, by his death; yet there must be something particular in the design of his death, with respect to such as he intended should actually be saved thereby. As appears by what has been now shown, God has the actual salvation or redemption of a certain number in his proper absolute design, and of a certain number only; and therefore such a design only can be prosecuted in any thing God does, in order to the salvation of men. God pursues a proper design of the salvation of the elect in giving Christ to die, and prosecutes such a design with respect to no other, most strictly speaking; for it is impossible, that God should prosecute any other design than only such as he has: he certainly does not, in the highest propriety and strictness of speech, pursue a design that he has not. And, indeed, such a particularity and limitation of redemption will as infallibly follow, from the doctrine of God's foreknowledge, as from that of the decree. For it is as impossible, in strictness of speech, that God should prosecute a design, or aim at a thing, which he at the same time most perfectly knows will not be accomplished, as that he should use endeavours for that which is beside his decree.
Jonathan Edwards, "On the Freedom of the Will," in The Works of Jonathan Edwards (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1992), 1:88.

Since I recently sent this quote to a friend via email, I will include the comments I made in this post as well:

One can see that Edwards is advocating a form of dualism. Christ may be said to die for all, in that he redeemed all, but there is still something particular in his work in the case of the elect, such that he purposes that they alone should obtain the benefit through faith. Notice how he can use the same term to connote different things. "Redemption" can either mean the payment of the ransom price (redemption accomplished), or it can refer to the actualized liberation of the believing elect in Christ (redemption applied). It is in the latter sense that he speaks of a "limitation of redemption," even though there is no limitation in the price that was paid for all (contrarary to those Owenists who advocate a limited expiation or limited imputation of sin to Christ). Redemption applied is limited, but not redemption accomplished in Edwards. Owenists say both are limited, since Christ only substituted for the elect on the cross, as they see it. They have lost the classical Christological view that Christ substitutes for all he shares a nature with, i.e., all of humanity. Thus, it seems that Owenism would entail that the non-elect humans are no better off (concerning salvation) than the non-elect angels, since Christ didn't suffer for their sins either. It matters not that Christ shares humanity with the non-elect humans, since he does not bear the punishment they deserve. They are left without a remedy (they are "remediless" as Richard Baxter puts it); and thus there are still legal/physical barriers that stand in the way of their pardon or salvation, and not merely the barrier of their own moral depravity.