Imatges de pàgina
PDF
EPUB

Because certain benefits, not of a saving nature, spring to all men from the death of Christ, we do not conceive it proper to say that Christ died for all men. It is plain that, in this sense, the phrase expresses a meaning different altogether from that which it bears when used with reference to the subjects of saving grace, or the objects of God's purpose of mercy. And, with nearly the same propriety, might it be affirmed that Christ died for angels, for it is not to be disputed, as we shall afterwards see, that they also derive important advantages from the death of Christ, more especially an enlargement of knowledge and an accession of companions, which, but for this, they could never have enjoyed.

Besides; it ought to be observed, that universal terms are not to be stretched beyond that with reference to which they are used. They denote all comprehended within a specified whole, but the whole itself may be limited. In this sense, the term all may express an endless variety of extension ; it may be all the members of a family, or all the citizens of a town, or all the population of a country, or all the inhabitants of the globe. Its meaning must be defined by that which is spoken of. That Christ died for all, is certainly affirmed ; but for all whom? This is the question. Whether for all the human family? or only for all that were given him by his Father,-for all his own, for all his church? Because, in speaking of privileges secured for the people of Great Britain, a writer should happen to say that these privileges were secured for all, it would surely be unfair to infer that he meant they were secured for all the inhabitants of the earth. Not less unwarrantable is it, because Christ is said to have died for all, when the whole context is treating of the privileges of the people of God, to draw the conclusion, that he died for all the human family without exception. And it is here not a little noticeable, that, in the whole compass of revelation, so far as we are aware, it is never once said, in so many terms, that Christ died for all men, or for every man. In the received version, it is true, the words men and man occur, but there are no corresponding terms in the original ; all and every one are the words employed, leaving the sense to be filled up by the connexion. It may here also be remarked, that the Greek language possesses terms more strictly expressive of absolute universality than those which are used in

treating of the extent of Christ's death ;* so that we may infer, it was not the design of the inspired writers to express the greatest degree of universality, else these more extensive terms would have been employed.

Having made these general observations, we are now prepared for entering on a more close review of the particular passages of scripture, on which the objection we are considering is founded. These passages may be arranged into two classes :-Such as connect the death of Christ with the world or the whole worldand such as speak of his having died for all men or for every man.

The passages which connect the death of Christ with the world or the whole world, are six in number. It

may

be premised, that the term world is used in scripture subjectively for the material world, or the world containing ; as in the expressions, the world was made by him,' and the field is the world.' (John i. 10. Matt. xiii. 38.) It is also used adjunctively for the world contained, that is, the men in the world; as when God is said to judge the world.' (Rom. iii. 6.) It is scarcely necessary to remark, that it is in the latter sense the term occurs in the present controversy. But even in this sense, its meaning is not always uniform ; it sometimes means all men collectively, and at other times all distributively, that is, some of all classes. Nothing is clearer than that the phrases the world, all the world, and the whole world, often occur in circumstances where absolute collective universality is perfectly inadmissible. Such is the case in the following passages :- There went out a decree from Cæsar Augustus that all the world should be taxed ;' (Luke ii. 1;) where all the world can mean only the inhabitants of the Roman empire :- The world knew him not ;' (John i. 10;) where all the inhabitants of the earth cannot be meant, as there certainly existed, even then, some who knew Christ :-Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing ; behold the world is gone after him ;' (John xii. 29 ;) where, as denoting those who waited on the ministry of Jesus, a very restricted sense only of the term can be applicable :— The whole world lieth in wickedness ;* (1 John v. 19;) where, though more extensive than in the last quotation, universality is totally inadmissible, as, at the time this language was used, there were, at

nås is the word most commonly employed. But it is allowed not to have the same intensity as απας, σύμπας, οι εκάστα, which we believe are not used in this connexion.

193

[ocr errors]

the Almighty, in which we are certain all do not share, for we read of some on whom the wrath of God abideth for ever.

Moreover, the propitiation for sin is connected with advocacy, by which, as before explained, the reference of the former term is necessarily limited. To the passages before adduced, in which the very same phrase occurs in a connexion which necessarily precludes absolute universality, we here beg leave to add other two:— I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation which shall come upon all the world.The great dragon, called the devil and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world.' (Rev. iii. 10; xii. 9.)

The second class of texts, on which the objection in question is founded, consists of those in which Christ is said to die for all men or for every man.

We must here remind the reader of the established canon of criticism before laid down, namely, that the extent of import attaching to universal terms depends on the subject in reference to which they are used. Now, the term all is often employed in scripture in a restricted, or distributive sense. For example, when Paul says, “For all seek their own, not the things that are Jesus Christ's,' (Phil. ii. 21;) the term must be restricted to those selfish persons of whom he complains in the context; yet the term itself is as naked and general as in any case in which it is used in connexion with the death of Christ. Again, when the same writer says, marriage is honourable in all,' (Heb. xii. 4;) the term must likewise be restricted, as there are not only many who enter into marriage dishonourably, but many who never marry at all. Further, when he says, “I exhort, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men,' (1 Tim. ii. 1, 2;) that the term is to be understood not collectively but distributively, is plain from what follows, for kings and for all that are in authority.' Keeping these things in mind, the passages in which similar language is used in connexion with the death of Christ, can give us no difficulty. But it may be proper to look a little more closely into these passages themselves.

• And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.' (John xii. 32.) The word men' is a supplement; the original is all,' (vrártuso) leaving the sense to be filled up agreeably to the nature of that which is spoken of. What is spoken of is, the attractive power of the

6

Saviour's cross, in drawing men to him. This power is exemplified in justification, regeneration, communion, and perfect salvation; and is rather moral than legal in its nature. It is the actual efficacy of the crucifixion of Christ that is tue subject of this assertion, and this, by the acknowledgment of all, is limited with respect to the number of its subjects. Besides, the words were spoken in consequence of certain Greeks, who had come up to worship at the feast, having expressed a desire, through Andrew and Philip, to be introduced to Jesus; from which it is fair to infer that the all' here means all without distinction, not all without exception.

The free gift came upon all men unto justification.' (Rom. v. 18.) Here, also, the actual result, justification, is spoken of. Are all men, without exception, actually justified, that is, delivered from condemnation and accepted of God?

• For as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Cor. xv. 22.) It would be out of place here, to enter into the controversy, whether the death in this passage means any thing more than temporal death, and the life any thing more than the bodily resurrection which is common to the righteous and the wicked. There seems to us to be very satisfactory grounds for rejecting this view.* But we submit the following remarks, as, in our humble opinion, sufficient to neutralize the objection founded on this and similar texts in the writings of Paul.—There is good reason to believe that the comparison or parallelism instituted between Adam and Christ refers to the public representative capacities of both ; which brings the matter to the question, whether Christ stood in a federal relation to the whole human race. If he did not, because the all represented by Adam are all without exception, to conclude that the all represented by Christ must be so too, is an unfounded inference. The comparison is, also, obviously meant to be understood with reference to the actual efficacy of what is performed by each: and as the offence of Adam has not merely procured condemnation for all, which may or may not come into operation, according to circumstances, but has actually brought all in him under the curse of death, so we are bound to admit that the all who are made alive in Christ, are not merely-according to the

* Wardlaw's Essays, pp. 247—270.

supposition of our opponents—those for whom Christ has procured life, but those on whom this blessing is actually bestowed. *

• For the love of Christ constraineth us, because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead, and that he died for all that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him who died for them, and rose again. (2 Cor. v. 14, 15.) What does this passage affirm? Not that Christ died for all who were dead, but that all for whom he died were previously dead. There is a vast difference betwixt these two things ; the latter, however, is all that is either affirmed or supposed, and leaves room for the supposition, that there might be many more who were dead than those for whom Christ died. Moreover, the passage establishes the inseparable connexion between the death and resurrection of Christ-him who died for them and rose again'—which, as before shown, necessarily requires a limitation in the number of those for whom he died. • Who gave himself a

a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.' (1 Tim. ii. 6.) The context leaves no room to doubt that the universal term is employed, in this instance, distributively, as meaning all without distinction. The reference, in what goes before, is to kings and persons in authority, (v. 2 ;) and, in what follows, to the .gentiles.' (v. 7.) And this explains the apparent difficulty, (v. 4,) • who will have all men to be saved, as if there were a contrariety between the secret and revealed will of God, or between the

purpose of Deity and the real state of things. We are exhorted to pray for men of all ranks and descriptions ; for it is God's will that men of all ranks and descriptions should be saved; and of this we have sufficient evidence in Christ's having given himself a ransom for all ranks and descriptions of men. Such is plainly the connexion of the various clauses in this chapter, and how far is it, in this view, from giving any support to the doctrine of indefinite atonement !

• We trust in the ving God, who is the Saviour of all men, especially of those that believe.' (1 Tim. iv. 10.) A Saviour is one, not merely who designs to save, but who actually effects salvation; and as all men without exception are not actually saved from sin, the term “Saviour,' in this

• Such as wish to pursue this subject will find an able and satisfactory disquisition on the passages in which a parallelism is instituted betwixt Christ and Adam, in Dr Wardlaw's Essays, pp. 297–310.

« AnteriorContinua »