Fuller

The Christian reader, it is presumed, may, from hence, obtain a clean view of the ends answered by the death of Christ, a subject which has occupied much attention among, divines. Some have asserted, that Christ by his satisfaction accomplished this only, “That God now, consistently with the honor of his justice, may pardon (returning) sinners if he wills so to do.” This is, doubtless, true, as far as it goes; but it makes no provision for the return of the sinner. This scheme, therefore, leaves the sinner to perish in impenitence and unbelief, and the Savior without any security of seeing of the travail of his soul. For how can a sinner return without the power of the Holy Spirit? And the Holy Spirit, equally with every other spiritual blessing, is given in consideration of the death of Christ. Others, to remedy this defect, have considered the death of Christ as purchasing repentance and faith, as well as all other spiritual blessings, on behalf of the elect. The writer of these pages acknowledges he never could perceive that any clear or determinate idea, was conveyed by the term, purchase, in this connexion; nor does it appear to him to be applicable to the subject, unless it be in an improper or figurative sense. He has no doubt of the atonement of Christ being a perfect satisfaction to divine justice; nor of his being worthy of all that was conferred upon him, and upon us for his sake; nor of that which to us is sovereign mercy being to him an exercise of remunerative justice: but he wishes it to be considered, Whether the moral Governor of the world was laid under such a kind of obligation to show mercy to sinners as a creditor is under to discharge a debtor, on having received full satisfaction at the hands of a surety? If he be, the writer is unable to perceive how there can be any room for free forgiveness on the part of God; or how it can be said that justice and grace harmonize in a sinner’s salvation. Nothing is farther from his intention than to depreciate the merit of his Lord and Savior: but he considers merit as of two kinds; either on account of a benefit conferred, which on the footing of justice requires an equal return, or of something done or suffered which is worthy of being rewarded, by a Being distinguished by his love of righteousness. In the first sense, it cannot, as he supposes, be exercised towards an infinite and perfect Being. The goodness of Christ himself, in this way, extends not to him. It is in the last sense that the scriptures appear to him to represent the merit of the Redeemer. That he “who was in the form of God, should take upon him the form of a servant, and be made in the likeness of men, and humble himself, and become obedient unto death, even the death of the cross,” was so glorious an undertaking, and so acceptable to the Father, that on this account he “set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power, and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church.” Nor was this all: so well pleased was he with all that he did and suffered, as to reward it not only with honors conferred upon himself, but with blessings on sinners for his sake. Whatever is asked in his name, it is given us.

It is thus, as the writer apprehends, that a way WAS OPENED BY TH MEDIATION OF CHRIST, FOR THE FREE AND CONSISTENT EXERCISE OF MERCY IN ALL THE METHODS WHICH SOVEREIGN WISDOM SAW FIT TO ADOPT.

There are three kinds of blessings in particular, which God, out of regard to the death of his Son, bestows upon men: First, He sends forth the gospel of salvation, accompanied with a free and indefinite invitation to embrace it, and an assurance that whosoever complies with the invitation, (for which there is no ability wanting in any man who possesses an honest heart), shall have everlasting life. This favor is bestowed on sinners as sinners. God gives the true bread from heaven in this way to many who never receive it. He invites those to the gospel supper who refuse and make light of it.— John vi, 32—36, Matt. xxii. 4, 5, Secondly, He bestows his Holy Spirit to renew and sanctify the soul: gives a new heart and a right spirit, and takes away the heart of stone. Christ is exalted to give repentance. Acts v. 31. Unto us it is given in behalf of Christ, to believe in him, Phil. i. 29. We have obtained like precious faith through the righteousness of God, and our Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Pet. i. 1. This favor is conferred on ELECT SINNERS. See Acts xiii. 48. Rom. viii. 28—30. Thirdly, Through the same medium is given the free pardon of all our sins, acceptance with God, power to become the sons of God, and the promise of everlasting life. Your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake, 1 John, ii. 12. God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you, Ephes. iv. 32. We are accepted in the beloved, Ephes. i. 6. By means of his death we receive the promise of eternal inheritance, Heb. ix. 13. This kind of blessings is conferred on BELIEVING SINNERS.

Andrew Fuller, “The Gospel its Own Witness,” in The Works of the Rev. Andrew Fuller, in Eight Volumes (New Haven: Printed and Published by S. Converse, 1821), 3:158-159. [Some reformatting; italics original; and underlining mine.]

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