1) If it be asked, secondly, Has the death of Christ any relation at all to mankind at large, whether elect or not?–we reply, that the condition of those at least to whom the knowledge of it comes, as regards their present obligation and ultimate responsibility, is most materially affected by the event or fact in question, or rather, by the publication of it. Assuredly the guilt and condemnation of those who have had the gospel among them, and have rejected it, cannot be put upon a level with the criminality of such as have never heard the joyful sound; and, in so far as God, in his providence, gives any information to the heathen, respecting his long-suffering patience and love, as connected with a mediatorial provision of grace, they are left the more without excuse.

The third inquiry, having reference to the precise bearing of Christ’s death upon the world at large, including the unbelieving portion of it, is the very question which we declined, and must still decline, to answer, or, at least, to answer categorically, or so as to exhaust the inquiry; it being our opinion that Holy 8cripture has not given materials for any very explicit deliverance upon that point. At the same time, there are some particulars, under this head, which may be ascertained.

I. In point of fact, the death of Christ, or hie work of obedience and atonement, has procured’ for the world at large, and for every individualthe impenitent and unbelieving as well as the chosen, and called, and faithful–certain definite, tangible, and  ascertainable benefits (if we may use such words to designate their reality and their specific character), among which, in particular, may be noted these two: first, A season of forbearance-a respite of judgmenta period of grace (Rom. iii. 25);” and that, too, in subserviency, and with direct reference, to the plan of saving mercy (ibid., and Rom. ii. 4; and 2 Pet. iii. 15); and, secondly, A system of means and influences fitted to lead men to God, and sufficient to leave them without excuse. (Acts xiv. 15-17, and xvii. 2241; Rom. I. 18, and ii. 15.) This, since the promulgation of the gospel, includes all the ordinances of God’s Word and worship, with the accompanying common operation of the Spirit in them [See Appendix C.].

Nor does it affect this statement, as to the actual obligation under which mankind at large, including the finally lost, lie to Christ and his work, for benefits, in point of fact, real and valuable, that this season of long-suffering, and this system of means, are extended to them all indiscriminately, mainly and chiefly for the sake of the elect who are among them. For, in the first place, It does not appear that this can be established, from Scripture, to be the only reason which God has for such a mode of dealing with the world. It is true, indeed, that the elect are the salt of the earth, whore presence would procure a respite even for a Sodom; and when they are all gathered in, and not a soul remains to be converted, the end will come. But this does not prove that God may not have other ends to serve, besides the salvation of his elect people–and ends more closely connected with the individuals themselves who are thus spared and subjected to salutary influences, though in vain–when he extends to them his goodness for a time. And, secondly, Whether directly or indirectly–mediately or immediately–for their own sakes or the elect’s–the fact, after all, is the same–and it is important and significant–that the forbearance granted to every sinner, and the favour shown in such a way as should lead him to repentance, must be ascribed to the interposition of Christ, and his sacrifice on the cross. May not this consideration, of itself, go far to explain not only the strong and touching appeals made generally to sinners, as forsaking their own mercies (Jonah ii. 8), but even such awful denunciations as that uttered by the Apostle Peter respecting apostates bringing in damnable heresies, that they deny the Lard that bought them? (Second Epistle, ii. 1)–not to speak of a still more terrible sense in which even the reprobate may be truly said to be bought by Christ, inasmuch as, for his obedience unto death, he ‘has received the right, and power, and commission to dispose of them, and deal with them, as it may seem meet, for the honour of his Father’s name, and the salvation of his people. (Ps. ii.; John xvii. 2.)

It may be observed, in passing, that there is a double sense in which we may speak of Christ’s purchase; first, Strictly and properly, when we regard him as purchasing men; and, secondly, More improperly, when we consider him as purchasing benefits for men. This last view, as we have hinted, is rather figurative and metaphorical than real and literal; for the idea of his purchasing benefits from the Father for mankind, must ever be understood in consistency with the Father’s sovereignty, and his pro-existing love to the children of men. The Father is not induced or persuaded to bestow benefits on men by a price paid to him; but being antecedently full of compassion to all, and having a purpose to save some, he appoints and ordains–he decrees and brings in–this death of his Son as a satisfaction to divine justice, and a propitiation for human guilt, that he may be justified in showing forbearance and kindness to the world, as well as in ultimately and gloriously saving his own elect. In this view, as it would seem, it may be said, with equal fitness, and equal truth, that Christ purchased the benefits implied in the long-suffering of God for all, and that he purchased the blessings of actual salvation, for his elect; inasmuch as, so far as appear from Scripture, his death is no less indispensable a condition of any being spared for a season, than it is of some being everlastingly saved.  Robert Candlish, An Inquiry into the Completeness of the Atonement with Especial Reference to the Universal Offer of the Gospel, and the Universal Obligation to be believe, (Edinburgh: John Johnstone, 1845), 3-7.

2) 1. The present dispensation of long-suffering patience towards the world at large, seems to stand connected with the work of Christ. That dispensation of forbearance is subservient to the dispensation of grace, and preparatory to the dispensation of judgment; and it is the fruit of Christ’s mediation.

2. To all alike, the work of Christ is a manifestation of the divine character, as well as of the divine manner of dealing with sinners of mankind.

3. To all alike, it is a proof and pledge of the desire, if we may so speak, subsisting in the divine heart–a desire involved in the very nature of God, as originating such a plan of salvation at all, whatever, on grounds and reasons unknown to us, his decree, as to its actual issue or result, may be–to see every sinner return to himself, and to welcome every one so returning. Robert Candlish, An Inquiry into the Completeness of the Atonement with Especial Reference to the Universal Offer of the Gospel, and the Universal Obligation to be believe, (Edinburgh: John Johnstone, 1845), 21.

[Of General Interest:]


NOTE B.–P. 4.

The long-suffering of God-Interpretation of Rom. iii 25,26.

In the passage quoted (Rom. iii. 25, 26), we seem to find the dispensation of long-suffering patience, and the dispensation of saving mercy equally ascribed to the interposition of Christ and his finnished work. It is intimated that “God hath set forth Christ to be a propitiation, through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness which is explained in the following verse to mean his justice: “That he might be just,” or might be declared, or seen, to be just–that the righteousness of his administration might be vindicated and magnified. Two things are represented as calling for that vindication–two aspects of hi providence in dealing with men–which otherwise must appear anomalies and inconsistencies. The first is, his ” passing over sins that are past, through forbearance.” (Verse 25, marginal reading.) The second is, his justifying him that helieveth in Jesus!’ (Verse 26.) His past exercise of forbearance, and his present ministry of justification, are the two acts which might seem to impeach the rectitude of his moral government, and to touch the sanctions of his law, but for his “setting forth” or foreordaining (verse 25, marginal reading) “Christ to be a propitiation, through faith in his blood!” The distinction here made, is, in the first instance, between the general character of God’s treatment of men before Christ came into the world, and the peculiar grace of the gospel dispensation. The former is elsewhere described by this same apostle as a sort of connivance, on the part of God, in comparison with the urgency and universality of hi subsequent appeal: “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; hut now commandment all men everywhere to repent.” In these “times past, he suffered all nations to walk in their own ways” (Acts xiv. 16); whereas now, he would have all men to turn from lying vanities unto the living God!’ (Ibid., verse 15). But it is plain that even thus viewed, the distinction in question turns, not on the dates of these dispensations of forbearance and of justification respectively, nor on the era of transition from a period when the former prevailed to a period characterized by the prominency of the latter, but on their difference from one another in respect of God’s twofold manner of dealing with the children of men,–showing forbearance to all, and justifying them that believe. We are to remember, also, that before Christ’s coming, though the leading feature of God’s providence was his letting men alone, he never left himself without a witness, and he always had a ministry of justification going on; while, since that time, though his appointment is more clear and unequivocal, that an aggressive system is to be plied towards the whole world-whose inhabitants, instead of being let alone, and having their ‘times of ignorance winked at,” and being ‘suffered to walk in their own ways,” are all to be pressed to accept of a fuller grace–still, the miracle of mercy is God’s forbearance–the suspension of his judgment-his passing by sins so many and so heinous-sins, too, aggravated by the rejection of the offered Saviour. So that, on the whole, Re may understand this passage as discriminating the natures, rather than the dates, of these two dispensations; and connecting both of them equally with the “setting forth of Christ,” an that which justifies God in both of these modes of dealing with men, and without which, he could neither exercise long-suffering, nor impart justification, except by a compromise of his righteousness, and a sacrifice of this essential attribute of his character and administration. I t may be right to add, that while we interpret the phrase, “the righteousness of God,” in these two verses, as meaning the attribute of righteousness in God, as the moral governor, lawgiver, ant1 judge of the universe, chiefly because it is so explained in the following clause-” that he might be just;” we take it, in all other places in this Epistle, to denote the righteousness (not subjective, as regards God, but objective) which he has provided, and of which he has accepted, in the person and work of his own (Sou-that righteousness which is “unto all and upon all them that believe” (Rom. iii. 22); which, as a righteousness by faith, is revealed in order to faith (Rom. i. 17); and which is not afar off, but “nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that i4 the word of faith which we preach; that if thou shalt confess with thy month the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God has raised him from the dead, thou shalt be eaved.” Robert Candlish, An Inquiry into the Completeness of the Atonement with Especial Reference to the Universal Offer of the Gospel, and the Universal Obligation to be believe, (Edinburgh: John Johnstone, 1845), 139-140.

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