Remark 5. Some of the peculiar principles of the Antinomians seem to take their rise from wrong notions of the nature of satisfaction for sin. They seem to have no right notions of the moral perfections of God, and of the natural obligations we are under to him, nor any right apprehensions of the nature and ends of moral government, nor any ideas of the grounds, nature, and ends of satisfaction for sin; a right sense of which things, tends powerfully to promote a holy fear, and reverential awe of the dread Majesty of heaven and earth; a sense of the infinite evil of sin: brokenness of heart, tenderness of conscience; a humble, holy, watchful, prayerful temper and life, as well as to prepare the way for faith in the blood of Christ. But they seem to have no right apprehensions of these things. They seem to consider God merely under the notion of a creditor, and us merely under the notion of debtors; and to suppose, when Christ upon the cross said, ”It is finished,” he then paid the whole debt of the elect, and saw the book crossed, whereby all their sins were actually blotted out and forgiven; and now, all that remains is for the Holy Spirit immediately to reveal it to one and another that he is elected; that for him Christ died, and that his sins are all pardoned; which revelation he is firmly to believe, and never again to doubt of; and this they call faith. From which it seems they understand nothing rightly about God or Christ, the law or gospel. For nothing is more evident than that God is, in Scripture, considered as righteous Governor of the world, and we as criminals, guilty before him; and the evident design of Christ’s death was, to be a propitiation for sin, to declare and manifest God’s righteousness, that he might be just, and the justifier of him that believes in Jesus. (Rom. iii. 9–26.) And the gospel knows nothing about a sinner’s being justified in any other way than by faith, and by consequence, in order of nature, not till after faith. The gospel knows nothing about satisfaction for sin, in their sense; but every where teaches that the elect, as well as others, are equally under condemnation and the wrath of God; yea, are children of wrath while unbelievers, (John iii. IS. 36. Eph. ii. 3. Acts iii. 19.)
Again; while they consider God merely under the character of a creditor, and us merely as debtors, and Christ as paying the whole debt of the elect; now, because Christ obeyed the law, as well as suffered its penalty, therefore they seem to think that Christ has done all their duty,so that now they have nothing to do but firmly to believe that Christ has done all: they have nothing to do with the law,–no, not so much as to be their rule to live by,–but are set at full liberty from all obligations to any duty whatsoever; not understanding that “Christ gave himself to redeem his people from all iniquity, and purify them to himself, a peculiar people, zealous of good works,” and not understanding that our natural obligations to perfect obedience are not capable of being dissolved, ( Matt. v. 17,) and not understanding that our obligations to all holy living are mightily increased by the grace of the gospel. (Rom. xii. 1.) Indeed, they seem to understand nothing rightly, but to view every thing in a wrong light; and instead of considering Christ as a friend to holiness, as one ” that loves righteousness and hates iniquity,” they make him “a minister of sin,” and turn the grace of God into wantonness. All their notions tend to render their consciences insensible of the evil of sin: to cherish spiritual pride and carnal security, and to open a door to all ungodliness.
Joseph Bellamy, “True Religion Delineated,” The Works of Joseph Bellamy (Boston: Doctrinal Tract and Book Society, 1853), 1:290-291. [Some spelling modernized and underlining mine.]
[Note: The Antinomian conception of satisfaction and salvation arose out of the prior pecuniary categories present in such works as John Owen’s Death of Death. The Antinomians simply extended those same pecuniary assumptions and thereby thinned out the responsibility of the individual. The intent was that God should be magnified, and man minimized. Interestingly, many modern advocates of limited expiation and limited imputation assume the same sort of efficacy, making almost identical claims with regard to what Christ accomplished on the cross. Indeed, in some circles it sounds more pious and more Reformed to speak this way. The problem is, the language and sentiment has for their sources two critical theological departures. The one being Antinomianism, the other being the recasting of the properly penal satisfaction of Christ, such that it is viewed as having the identical efficacy entailed in proper pecuniary satisfactions: the latter laid the foundation for the former. However, the end result is that God is not magnified but distorted, and the responsibility and role of the individual is not minimized but disappears.]