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Letter to a Friend on the Atonement. ral interprctation of these numerous that the favour of God depends on a. and complex propositions was not circumstance entirely independent on deemed a disgrace: and it was even the will of man. But the Arminians, thought to be countenanced by the opposed to Walker, contend notwith"articles themselves, which require standing, that man has a free-will, and that nothing should be insisted upon as that he is here in a state of trial; for an article of faith which cannot be which opinions they quote the whole proved by the holy scriptures. And body of scripture, and they are quite many in those days were not ashamed shocked at the opposite suppositions. 10 avow the principle, " that an unity Walker, in his various writings, shews of spirit in the bond of peace,” was that they maintain these opinions in of far greater value than " an unity of opposition to the principle of atone* faith in the bond of ignorance, or an ment. He asks them in substance, unity of profession in the bond of with much reason, -As you not merely hypocrisy." In our days the case is admit but strenuously maintain that altered : and we are now bound to be the sins of men are forgiven, and that lieve that every clergyman who sub- they are accounted just before God,
scribes the articles, assents to every only for the sake of the atonement made proposition contained in them: and by Christ, how can you in the next That to hint the contrary is both “ false breath attribute these effects to a differand injurious."
ent cause? If works be a necessary
condition of God's favour, where is Letler to a friend on the Atonement. the necessity for the atonement? Must (Communicated from Ireland.]
the infinite atonement made to God Dear Sir,
by a part of himself be abortive, unless March, 1816.
it be aided by the puny efforts of miINTEND to answer at some serable man?' Can such a costly atone
ment he necessary or suitable, to render 'obliging as to send me with Sande- our good works acceptable, or to ena'man's Letters and Walker's Address, for ble a man to atone for himself? Can 1 presume you wish that I should give it be in the power of any man to reverse you my opinion of these writers.
the councils and decrees of God vith You say you do not subscribe to all respect to himself, the most important the sentiments of Sandemnan. He cer- of which must relate to the atonement? tainly goes a strange length in describe Inanswer to these questions, Arminians ing the corruption of man, particularly appeal to scripture and reason for the where he maintains, that * as to the freedom of man's will, leaving the "matter of acceptance with God, there principle of atonement to shift for itis no difference between one man and self. another," for instance "between the But neither do Walker and his parenost revered judge, and the most ty abide by the fair consequences from odious criminal," &c. Yet in his this doctrine of atonement, as may be reply to Hervey, and others whom he seen in a few instances. For if God calls popular preachers, he argues with bas atoned for mankind to a part of randour, and he shows that they are himself by an infinite sacrifice, why 'not true lo their own principles. In should the benefit of this infinite sacrigeneral, I think he proves that a mode- fice be restricted to a few persons, who Fate Calvinist is an inconsistent charac- have no more free-will to plcasc him, ter. Mr. Walker also appears to me than those have from whoin the bene10 have an evident adrantage over these fit is irithheld? Calvinists dispose of Twith whom he reasons; for they con. this question arbitrarily, not regarding cede to him what is a suficient ground their own description of the atonement work for his entire theory, and he as infinite, nor the justice and goodness knows well how to profit by their con- of God, whose essence is love, and who ression. Put the remark which I is no respecter of persons. The case make upon him and his opponents is, of the potter, 10 which we are often that they both build upon a wrong referred, can relate only to the rarious principle, which has no foundation in conditions of men in this world. There the goʻpel.
are other questions, in answer to which This principle, common to both pare Walker will hesitate to do full justice ties, is the doctrine of the atonement, to the doctrine of the atonement. If which leads necessarily to the opinion, it be pride in man to suppose that any
Letter to a Friend on the Atonement.
of his works can have the slightest ef- seems wanting to prove them to be fect to propitiate the Deity, and if such extravagant fictions, most disparaging a notion shews farther his want of to the Divine Nature, but a simple and faith in the atonement, would it not be accurate detail of them. I shall at the safest plan to renounce all good tempt to give such a detail in the fewest works whatsoever, both in profession words possible. and practice? Do not these men In consequence of the foreknowledge prove that they have not much faith that the wiles of Satan would prevail in the atonement, who spend their lives over man in paradise, God, for the first in making converts to this doctrine, time, found himself under a necessity that is, in presuming to help in his of dividing himself, or of being divided work the omnipotent God? How can into three, distinct, co-equal, almighty Walker insist on the all-sufficiency of Persons, all of the same substance. the atonement, and consequently These three Persons, being still but one maintain that there is no condition re God, held a council on the subsequent quired for justification, while he insists state of man; upon which occasion, on faith as the one thing needful, by the first Person expressed infinite wrath which he means, an accepting of at the foresight of man's transgression, Christ as a proxy, or an apprehended the natural effect of which wrath, if exchange with him of our vices for uncontrolled in all cases, would be his merits? While he maintains lite- most grievous torments, in soul and rally that it is given to some men exclu- body, without intermission, in hell-fire, sively to believe in such an exchange, for ever, to Adam and Eve and all his preaching must appear a mockery. their posterity. The crime for which One of the great objects of the gospel, Adam's posterity was to suffer in this he says, is to humble the pride of man, manner, is called original sin, which by convincing him that the atonement means literally, the sin of men before is all-sufficient, and that the intrusion they existed. When Adam and Eve of his own works in any form is imper- ate the forbidden fruit, their offspring tinent; but what is so much calculated by this act was guilty of so henious à to defeat this object, and to puff men sin, that all men, women and children up with spiritual pride, as the notions who have ever existed, with a trifling that they are the favourites and Elect exception, and the greater part of men of God, and that all who oppose who are still to be born must be punishthem are Reprobates ?
ed for it with endless torments, by the Both Calvinists and Arminians have first Person, to the praise of his glorious always been involved in inconsistencies justice. No alteration for the better or by their faith in the atonement; still worse can be effected in their destiny they are alike fearful lest their faith by their works, good or bad,--to hell in it might be questioned, for notwith- they must go without a possibility of restanding their mutual jealousies, they demption. All men, without any exhave always agreed to brand those per- ception, would go the same road, if a sons with the name of infidels, who do few of these delinquents did not expenot believe in it implicitly. Here I rience unconditional favour and remay be permitted to say, that those ward, to the praise of God's glorious men are much better entitled to this grace. Reprobates, as they are called, name, who repose implicit faith in are here tempted to ask, as all the de mysteries. A sincere Christian who scendants of Adam are equally guilty values rightly his Christian liberty, will of his crime, why should such a disa think it is incumbent on him to prove tinction be made between them, as this doctrine, to analyze it, and view it that a few should be made eternally on all sides, without prejudice, influ- happy, independent of their works, enced only by a regard for truth. Such and all the rest eternally miserable? a severe examination will probably be For this distinction, the reason assigned censured as irreverent, even by men is the sovereign will and pleasure of who scruple not to decide, with great God, not of the first Person, nor of the confidence, that the substance of God majority, but of the second Person ais complicated, and his councils partial; lone; for though they are all One in but before they can convict us of pro- Deity and substance, still they differ faneness for questioning their decisions, widely in their dispositions, and in they must prove them to be sacred and their ideas of justice and mercy. The self-evident truths; whereas nothing second part of the substance of God did
Leller to a friend on the Atonement.
not give way to positive wrath against for he scorned to save them by halves. any part of mankind. While he was Agreeable to this
offer, he is aptly deresolved to leave most men as he found scribed by the Elect as a physician, them, he was inclined to reprieve a who cures his patients by prescribing few, not indeed from the foresight of regimen and physic, not to them, but their faith or amiable qualities, but ra- to himself,--and as a judge who prother the contrary. His Elect would be cures himself to be executed, in order greatly alarmed, if even any part of his to save the lives of felons condemned infinite atonement should be turned by his own sentence. His offer was aside from themselves; his inflexible accepted, and the bargain was accordjustice in refusing all aid to Reprobates, ingly concluded between these two inwho are just as good as themselves, is finite Persons of the one substance. It a principal source of their triumph; certainly appears a very dear bargain; and they are delighted with his good- particularly when we consider that it ness, principally on account of its par- did not prevent the success of Satan tiality. However, his favour did not over both Persons, with respect to extend to a greater number than to mankind, in the enormous proportion one person in two thousand, and with of at least two thousand to one; and only this trifling exception, he had no that it gare Satan the triumph of excommiseration for the lost state of acting an infinite sacrifice, distress and mankind. Or, perhaps, benevolence humiliation, in the reserved case of toward them would not have been the Elect, wherein he was foiled. In consistent with a prudent regard for vain do curious persons inquire from himself; for as the office which he the Elect the reasons, why the Devil did undertake to execute for this should be allowed to triumph in this small number proved to him a most manner,---why this bargain between grievous task; so, if he had enlarged two Co-equals, either such as the other, their number to one half of man- should be so partial in itself, and bear kind he would have drawn down so hard on the sccond Person,-why on himself a thousand times more one part of the substance of God wrath. At the commencement of his should have infinite wrath to be apyery limited undertaking, what must peased, and not another,--why the have been his distress of mind, when second Person should not require the no dignified or rational way occurred First to atone to himself by exquisite to him, or was communicated to him sufferings for the Elect, or for an equal to avert from the Elect the Father's portion of men among the Reprobates, infinite wrath, excited and impelled as ---why the partial sufferings of God it was by his infinite justice. He had should be an advantage to men alone, no choice but to adopt or decline the and to a very small proportion of them, expedient pointed out to him. It was why they should not, at the sanie promulgated in heaven, that the Fa- time, purchase vegetable life for inert ther's wrath and justice, with respect matter, sensation for vegetables, räto mankind, might be expended, not tionality for brutes, and higher powers on them, but on some innocent per- for all mankind, since they are as son, who would voluntarily undertake much calculated to produce these efto appease him by assuming their guilt fects, as to expunge unconditionally and punishment. From this circun- the sin of any inan? But if there be stance we cannot suppose that justice any congruity between these sufferings, in heaven can bear any analogy to and the unconditional removal of sin, justice on earth. An awful silence then--being of infinite value, why ensued. No angelic being offered to should they not remove unconditionbear the brunt of this wrath and jus- ally the sins of all men? To none of tice. On this ominous pause, the Son these questions do the Elect choose 10 himself, part of the very substance of reply either from scripture or reason. God, came forward, and otiured him One of the wonders of this bargain self to be reputed a sinner for the consisted in the contrivance by wliich Elect exclusively, and not only to the substance of God might be made atone by exquisite sufferings for all to suffer. It was stipulated, that, in their sins, both original and actual, process of time, the second part of this but also to impure all his own righte- substance shouid become an intunt ousness to them, without requiring and a man upon this eartii, should from them any condition in return; submit to all the infirmities of a man,
Leiter to a Friend on the Atonement.
203 and die upon a cross. Afterwards whether faith in the atonement be this partial substance of God should essential to salvation, they answer so remain to the end of time a man-God cautiously as to betray the doubt in or God-man. With all this stipulated their own minds. We can grapple degradation and suffering of part of with Calvinists, because they are more his own substance, the first Person decided and consistent; and I believe was so well pleased, that he not only these people will admit, that in stating consented to forego his infinite wrath their doctrine of the atonement, I have and justice toward the Elect, but to kept close to the sense of their lanshower down favours on them without guage, and to their ideas. Sandeman, measure. For these favours he was at least, will bear me out in the strongpaid more than an adequate price, by est parts of the statement; and he which mean he was saved the trouble will furnish me with sufficient arguof exercising the slightest degree of ments, ad hominem, against the mincmercy; and indeed, with respect to ing, moderate Calvinist. Some of him, there is no room for this attribute these may be inclined to modify one in the gospel scheme. When this or two passages; but every Calvinist bargain should take effect, that is, entertains such notions of the atonewhen Christianity should receive the ment, as constitute a most frightful gloss of Calvin, it would then appear, theology, calculated to expel all chathat the difference between the Electrity from the breasts of those who can and Reprobate lies in this, that to the receive it, and to appal the hearts of former alone it is given to believe in all others, without holding out to this account of the atonement, to re- them the smallest benefit. However, nounce all works, and humbly to ac. it can produce no effect on the mind cept the merits of the man-God, as of an enlightened Christian, but pity their own exclusive, undoubted right, for those who preach it; for to him as well as righteousness. Consequently it will appear to be more offensive to they challenge the justice of God and the Deity than the idolatry of Heaare entitled to their salvation. Repro- thens. The gospel of Christ inculbates, on the other hand, believe, with cated a very different lesson, and is as much simplicity, that God can forgive opposite to it in its principles as light them without the sacrifice of any is to darkness. In that we learn, that finite or infinite person. All their the Lord our God is the Father of hopes are placed in the mercy of God, all men, and not the capricious tyrant, and in endeavouring to imitate the fattered by suitable favourites. Every example of Jesus Christ: but as no single precept of Christ and his aposportion of God has any favour or mer- tles is sufficient to confute the childish cy for them, they must endure to eter- notion of atonement; though it has nity all the torments which can be been divulged with infinite perseveinflicted by intinite wrath.
rance and ingenuity by highly-gifted In this and every statement of the men, yet surely by men under strong atonenent, it may be noticed that two prejudices. No plain passage of scripparts out of three of God, of his very ture gives it the slightest countenance; substance, require no atonement, and, and it is supported only by figurative the third Person is an unconcerned language, which is perverted so as to spectator.
make scripture contradict itself, and Arminians, who, fortunately, are to promote in the world, not religion not consistent in many parts of their and huinanity, but a gloomy enthusias faith, will not agree to some minor asm, or'a most unhappy scepticism. parts of the above statement; and a All these figurative expressions can be distinct case would be requisite for explained without the slightest diffithem, whenever they can be prevailed culty. One instance here may suffice. on to define accurately and fully their St. John, in the Revelation, says of ideas of the atonement: or rather, Christ, that he hath washed us from such a definition from them would our sins in his own blood. Now, which render any other confutation unneces. is it more natural to suppose, that this sary. So far as justification is con- language is figurative, intended to shew cerned, I think they can hardly avoid that the death and resurrection of to describe as a nullity, either the in- Christ had furnished Christians with tinite sacrifice of Almighty God, or a powerful, and, in most cases, an efthe free-will of man.' To the question fectual motive to forsake their sins; or.
Vindication of Count Zinzendorf. to suppose that it relates literally to an them, and if he considered the phraseatonement--that is, to actual blood, in ology he employed as best calculated which the sins of the Elect are steeped to convey and illustrate them, who and rubbed, and then come out vir, has a right to deny him this liberty? tues? All the texts particularly relied Having received a considerable part on by Calvinists have been abundantly of my education amongst the United proved to be consistent with the re- Brethren, or Moravians, as they are mainder of scripture, and thus their often though improperly called, and fancied privileges, deducible from their having attentively studied their history, notions of the atonement, are shewn especially that of their late ordinary, to be illusory. This has been done and made myself pretty familiar with even by John Wesley, who gave up his religious ideas and the language in the groundless fancy of the imputed which they are couched, I conceive righteousness of Christ
. But an ob- myself rather better qualified than your jection lies to this doctrine of atone- correspondent, to form a just estimate ment, which supersedes all necessity of the moral worth of that respectable for arguing against it on the ground of individual. Had the writer in your its great absurdity. It supposes that Repository, instead of adopting the mathe grand and peculiar doctrine of the lignant and deceptive representations gospel is, that the One God is a com- of a Rimius, (who, forsooth, styles his pounded Being, made up of various work a Candid Narrative, -how far persons, with opposite dispositions, and it deserves such an appellation will heterogeneous natures ; whereas, the presently appear,) attentively perused uniform testimony of the whole Bible Crantz's History of the Brethren, or is, that the Lord our God is one Lord; the ample and ingenuous Life of Zinand this One God and Father of All, zendorf
' by the learned and venerable who is above all, is most particularly Mr. Spangenberg, or had he duly exstated in the New Testament to be amined several of the numerous writhe God and Father of our Lord Jesus tings of the Count himself, I have little Christ.
doubt but he would have formed a I hope now, Dear Sir, that you will very different opinion. Your corresdraw one very just conclusion from pondent appears to have dipped into this long letter, which is, that I would one or two of their works, but I trust not be at the trouble of writing it, if I that is all; I myself have had access to did not entertain for you much respect, all their performances, and have made to which you are entitled from your considerable use of them. I have, be character and professional labours. sides, been favoured with various comI remain, therefore, &c. &c. munications from esteemed individuals.
B-S. of undoubted veracity, who were about
the Count's person, and intimately acExeter, March 19th, 1816. quainted with his public and private N O
lany for last February, (p. 65,) judgment of the late ordinary merely a few days since, I was not a little sur- from the testimony of friends, or from prised and concerned, at perceiving an his own writings, but have attentively aspersion of no inconsiderable magni- examined the works of his opponents; tude, cast on the moral character of and though I have been at considerathe late Count Zinzendorf; being con- ble pains to investigate their charges, vinced that there is no foundation for yet have I never been able to substansuch a charge, I feel it a duty incum- tiate any one that affected his morals. bent on me to defend an injured cha- If it be true that the moral worth of raeter, that I much and deservedly a man results from his intentions and esteem. I beg to add, that in this un- the motives that actuate him, and that dertaking, I have purely followed the his intentions and motives are alone impulse of my own mind. I would discoverable from his dispositions and here be considered as merely advocat- conduet, I then feel no hesitation in ing the Count's moral character, and atfirming, that the late Count Zinzenby no means espousing all his religious dorf is, in no inconsiderable degree, opinions, any more than defending his entitled to our esteem and respect. theological language. If he consci- Every honest and unprejudiced person, entiously held such opinions, he was who will be at the pains of entering unquestionably right in maintaining into the detail of the Count's life, must,