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, revealed purpose of the atonement; what is its intrinsic value and sufficiency; how far is it available in its own nature to the salvation of men? Did God mean to spread it over only a part, 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 accepted of Christ.” “Every legal bar and obstruction in the way of the salvation of all men is removed.”1 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 consistently 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.

Erskine Mason, “Extent of the Atonement,” in A Pastor’s Legacy Being Sermons on Practical Subjects (New York: Charles Scribner, 1853), 275-276. [Some reformatting; some spelling modernized; and underlining mine.]


1Associate Reformed Synod’s Report, p. 53.

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