MERCY FOR ALL; or, the. Great Propitiation for Man. An Argument and an Appeal.
London: Ward and Co., Paternoster-row.
AN American production, small in compass, but grand and comprehensive in its grasp. It is written in no gold. leaf letters, but in characters of living fire.
The aim of the author ill to set forth the atonement of Christ in all its unconfined fulness of grace and virtue; but while he luxuriates in the fact that the provision of Divine mercy on behalf of man ill, from the very nature of the case, unlimited and illimitable, he yet restricts its results to the positive enjoyment of that redemption which ill the mighty boon of those only who believe. In his own words:—
There is a distinction to be always carefully maintained between the work of atonement and the work of redemption. The one does not necessarily imply the other; redemption includes atonement, but it includes more; it includes its actual results; it is the application of the atonement issuing in final and complete salvation. The one, therefore, in its nature may be more extensive than the other. An unredeemed sinner has even now a deep interest in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and, whether eventually lost or saved. will feel that interest through the ages of his deathless being. With this understanding, redemption certainly is not general; and to affirm that it is limited is but stating the plainly revealed fact, that all men will not be saved.
In the new which we take of the subject, moreover, we separate the nature of the atonement from any secret unrevealed purpose of the Infinite mind respecting its application. We do not deny the existence of such a purpose; so far from it that we cannot conceive of an intelligent, all-wise Being acting in anything without design, and we cannot, without detracting from the honor and glory of Him who is no less wise than holy in all His works, suppose otherwise than that in this great plan, and I may add effort, of forgiving mercy, He had in view some certain specific results. We do not believe that the issue of the atonement is in the Infinite Mind an open question. The results of a Redeemer’s work are not contingent results. They are absolutely certain. It ill fixed, unalterably fixed, that the Savior is to be rewarded for his life of toil and ignominy, and his death of shame and agony. He is to ‘see of the travail of his soul ad to be satisfied;’ and a multitude greater than any man can number, of those ‘who have washed their robes, and made them while in the blood of the Lamb,’ sha1l give grace and glory to His triumph. But the ultimate design of the atonement, as it exists in the mind of God is a very different thing from the nature of the atonement itself as it is spread out before our view upon the pages of revealed truth. The question before us is not what God intends to accomplish by virtue of the sacrifice of Christ; not how far the efficacy of that sacrifice will, in point of fact, reach; for upon these questions God has thrown a veil of impenetrable darkness; but what is the great moral, revea1ed purpose of the atonement? what ill its intrinsic value and sufficiency? how far is it available in its own nature to the salvation of man? Did God mean to spread it over only a put, or the whole of the race? Are men, all men, as lost sinners, so interested in the atoning death of Jesus Christ that they may, if they will, be saved by it! This is the question, and we unhesitatingly take the affirmative. Our position is, that through the sacrifice of Christ God can be just, and yet forgive. Such is the character of the atonement, that ‘it would comport with the glory of the Divine character, the sustentation of God’s government, the obligation and honor of His law, and the good of the rational and moral system, to save all men, provided they are accepted of Christ.’ ‘Every legal bar and obstruction in the way of the salvation of all men is removed.’ Such is the nature and efficacy of the atonement of the Son of God, that the relations not merely of some men, but of the entire race, are totally different from what they would have been, had the Savior never suffered and died; different, I mean, in this sense, that since this great atoning sacrifice has been offered, God can upon the ground of it consistency pardon the sins of all, and nothing now shuts a man out from forgiveness and hope but his own unwillingness to accept of the offers of mercy made to him in the gospel. Such is the view of the fullness of the atonement which we desire to advocate, and which we would fain commend to the intelligent faith of our hearers.
Christianity addresses itself to the intelligence as well as to the faith of man. Being a revelation of the Infinite Mind, it must be in harmony with universal reason. But if reason has become blinded and perverted, as is the case with man, then it speaks to his heart as well as to his intellect. It meets him on the ground of his moral consciousness, and tells him how a Savior has been provided for him in his far-off distance from God; how expiation has been made for his sins; how the path has been laid open for his return; and how from the lowest depth of his misery he may rise into perfect life and endless joy. Of these facts the little tractate now before us is a successful exposition, which we cordially recommend to all our readers.
Review of Mercy For All; or the Great Propitiation sufficient for man. An Argument and an Appeal (London: Ward and Co., Paternoster-Row), The Evangelical Magazine and Missionary Chronicle 32 (1854) : 648-649 (New Series). [Some spelling modernized; some reformatting; and underlining mine.] [Note: According to Worldcat, only two cataloged copies of this work are available, and they are both in the UK.]