IN a previous article (PRES. REV., April, 1884) we presented some salient points in the life and character of Dr. James Richards. We, also, traced his Theology in part, as we proposed, along three lines of thought: (I) In reference to God. (2) In reference to Man. (3) In reference to the God-man.

Of these, we considered only the first and second. Under the former came, first in order, Dr. R.’s presentation of primal truth–the truth concerning God,–God as the absolute Being, the personal Jehovah, holy, just, and good, Author of all things-who was before all things and by whom all things consist. This, in the view of Dr. Richards, is the supreme reality, the fundamental truth on which all other truth reposes.

Next in order, came the consideration of the fundamental doctrine, the Plan or Purpose or Decree of God.

In the view of Dr. R., this is a doctrine fundamental not only to all theological doctrines, but preliminary to all finite existence (S. C., 7). It is but a truism to assert, that it depended upon the good pleasure of him who was before all things, that anything should exist or begin to be. Yet, from the theistic stand-point this simple truism involves the demonstrative proof of this fundamental doctrine,–The Divine Plan or Purpose or Decree; it involves also the proof that this doctrine is so comprehensive as to include all things. In the explicit language of Dr. Richards,–” The Divine Decrees are necessarily universal, reaching alike to all beings and events, and through all time. In the order of nature, they precede whatsoever comes to pass through the agency of God, whether that agency be exerted either immediately or remotely.” Dr. R. carefully discriminates the Divine agency in moral government as more immediate or remote–efficacious or permissive–direct or indirect; that promotes and rewards holiness-but permits and punishes sin. (See Conf., Chapts. VI., I, and III., I). This statement does not assert or allow that there are conditions outside the plan or purpose or decree of God; yet it does allow of conditions within the Divine plan or purpose. {Conf. IV., 2). In the Divine plan, the infinite Reason pursuing the rational order makes one thing antecedent or conditional to another. Indeed. it could not otherwise be a plan or purpose, for this implies the choice of a final cause or end, and the choice of means adapted to secure that end.

The transition is easy to the doctrine concerning the Works of God. The Works of God,” says Dr. R., “are, of course, the execution or development of the Divine Decrees” (Conf., IV. and V.). This statement suggests the order of the divine decrees as included in the plan and purpose of God; the manner in which this order is developed or disclosed (that is, in the Works of God); and the way in which we may study this order. This order, when actualized in the Works of God, is, of course, the historic order.

The way to study and know this order is, faithfully to follow the ongoings of history in the divine creating, preserving, and governing all creatures material and moral; in the incoming and woe of sin; the coming and redemption effected by the Savior until the consummation.

The doctrine concerning Man, though distinct, is interlinked with the doctrine concerning God.

Created holy and free, Man is a self-determining, responsible agent. He cannot alienate his natural powers, although he may sinfully pervert their use. He cannot unmake his constitution, or escape moral responsibility. Divinely endowed, his own conscience repeats to him evermore the voice of God,–”If thou do not well, sin lies at the door” (Gen. iv. 7).

While merit and demerit are always predicable of the moral agent, Dr. R. would sharply “discriminate between the immanent acts of the Will and the deliberate (or executive) acts of the Will.” The intention or immanent preference has or constitutes moral character; the deliberate or executive act merely indicates moral character. Moral transgression is sinful self-determination. Sin is in the world. Man, not God, is the author of sin (Rom. v. 12; Conf., III., I).

Human apostasy, its possibility and actuality; human depravity as intensive, extensive, transmitted,–all these great questions are clearly and ‘ably discussed by Dr. Richards. With these discussions at once condensed and convincing, our previous article concludes.

It remains for us in the present article to trace, so far as we may, the third line of thought, viz.: In reference to the God-man. We are to remember that every science requires due discrimination, if we would understand its meaning and method; and this is especially true of Theology, the crowning science.

It is proper to remark that in his theology Dr. Richards sought carefully to discriminate between things which are distinct though not necessarily dissevered.

He could thus the better hold, without confusion and with systematic adjustment, the cumulative and comprehensive facts of Revelation, e.g., the Divine Unity and the Divine Trinity, i. e., the Unity of Essence or Substance or Being and the Trinity of Distinctions or Subsistencies or Persons in the one divine Being; The Logos (the second divine Person in the Trinity, and not the first or the third Person) becoming incarnate–taking upon him our nature; the two Natures–human and divine-in the one Theanthropic Person,–the God-man, the Scriptures accordingly speaking now of the human nature–the man Christ Jesus; and now of the divine nature–the Eternal Logos; and now of the one complex, theanthropic Person,-Christ Jesus the Lord; The Holy Ghost, the third Person of the divine Trinity–sent of the Father and the Son to be the reprover, regenerator, comforter, guide, and sanctifier. The grace purchased and the grace bestowed the provision, and the application–the Atonement, and the Redemption, the one “finished” by the sacrifice of Christ Jesus “once for all,” the other carried on, now, toward completion by the effectual working of the Holy Ghost, ” whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” “Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession unto the praise of his glory” (Eph. iv. 30; i. 13, 14).

These and similar discriminations are fundamental, and are indispensable to a clear understanding of Theology, and especially of the plan and process of Redemption. These discriminations it were desirable to have made by every novice in theology, and particularly by all those who would discuss Christian Theology with clearness and fairness.

Dr. Richards not only held these orthodox doctrines as essential, but insisted upon these distinctions as indispensable in a system of I theology.

Pursuing our threefold plan, it remains to consider: (3) The doctrine concerning the God-man.

This is central to the system of Christian Theology. Not only is Christ personally and really the mediator between God and Man; he is, also, the Unifier of divine Revelation-the Old Testament and the New;-the organizing center of the whole Christian System. Thus is Christianity a living system, organized around the living Christ, making known to us the living God, and bringing life and immortality to light through the Gospel.

Dr. R. was wont to consider Redemption not only as a Doctrine, but, also, as a History-the doctrine being indeed contained ill the facts.

Redemption contemplates recovery from sin-from the penalty and the power of sin. Aside from this, Redemption could have no relevancy, no significance, no existence. Only that sin is real as foreseen, and because of it as a reality, is there occasion or demand for Redemption. This reveals (perhaps regulates) its order as history, and its place as a doctrine. As history it relates to the sin of fallen man, not of fallen angels; and to the recovery of fallen man, not to the recovery of fallen angels.

In the history of Redemption, the incarnate Word, the God-man conspicuously appears; and toward him so many and so great facts converge, that in him centers the doctrine of Soteriology or Redemption–the doctrine of the Savior or the doctrine of the Redeemer.

In fact, the Son assumed the entire humiliation and suffering in which alone is expiation. Thus he appears conspicuously, but not exclusively. For, as history, Redemption runs back to a covenant before the world was, and forward to a consummation when there shall be ” new heavens and a new earth in which dwells righteousness”–a covenant which the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost did personally confirm; a consummation to which the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost do personally contribute.

The history of Redemption, though involving transcendent mystery involves also transcendent revelation. In it is revealed, as nowhere else, the divine Being and character, the motive and the mode of creation, the process and the purpose of Providence, the statement and the solution of human sin and woe and rescue, the vindication of the ways of God toward man not only as just, but also as gracious as it is written,–“God commends his love toward us, in that while .we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. v. 8).

If before (see Art. I., PRES. REV., April, 1884, “Dr. Richards’ Theology“) he had found the primal truth that God is–the eternal and absolute Being, “I am that I am” (Jehovah); here, he saw the constitution of the divine Being as threefold,-Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

If before he had found the fundamental doctrine,–the absolute plan, purpose, and decree of Jehovah to create, and preserve, and govern; here, he saw this fundamental doctrine pervaded by divine wisdom as well as divine power, and with divine love as well as wisdom. So that divine love prompts, and divine wisdom guides, the exercise of divine power in creating, preserving, and governing all things. Herein is manifest God’s glory. Hence if “for his pleasure they are and were created,” in the light of Redemption it clearly appears, that God’s pleasure is not arbitrary, but sovereign–not arbitrary, but according to the most wise and holy counsel of his will“; that like himself so his law is not arbitrary, but “holy, just, and good”; that to uphold it God is bound in view of his own justice and truth and holiness and blessedness and love, and in view of the holiness and well-being of his moral creatures throughout his moral universe. So that, on this behalf, there is nothing too great for God to do, even to the utmost limit of his love and justice, his wisdom and holiness. Hence we read in the history of Redemption,” Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil” (Matt. xxiv. 35 ; v. 17).

In the history of Redemption we have the revelation of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost co-operating in the origin, the provision, and the application, and so, uniting to consummate the gracious and wonderful scheme of Redemption–co-operating, essentially in this order, each in his peculiar office and personal work, and manifesting the wonders of divine grace.

In the history of Redemption we see revealed a divine discrimination, as Redemption passes by apostate angels, but comes to fallen man, as if God in Redemption would frown upon the tempter while he would favor the tempted-intensifying the ‘wonder by the incarnation, as we read,–”For verily, he took not on him the nature of angels: but he took on him the seed of Abraham” (Heb. ii. 16). The ministry and the sufferings of Christ till his work on earth was finished, followed by” the ministration of the Spirit,”–all are recorded in historic order (John xv.-xvii.).

In the previous article (PRES. REV., April, I884), according to the Anthropology of Richards (and in harmony with the Scriptures and the Confessional Standards), we found that man created holy and free was able to obey and forbidden to sin; and, that God who permitted sin, but did not produce it, produces and promotes holiness evermore, loving righteous and hating iniquity.

But in the history of Redemption we see how God graciously provides Redemption, and sovereignly applies it; yet evermore divinely regards the nature of free, responsible, moral agents, in their sins, indeed, “effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ; yet so as they come most freely, being made willing by his grace” (Conf., X., 2). In this way the Election in grace is being actualized as historic reality. H is people shall be willing in the day of his power. And all that the Father hath given unto the Son shall come unto him; and he shall raise it up again at the last day (John vi. 39; Ps. cx. 3), and the Redemption shall be consummated.

Thus the points already made (Art. I., PRES. REV., April, 1884) in the theology of Dr. Richards receive confirmation, interpretation, illustration in the history of Redemption.

But this brings us only to the border of the final field which we are now to outline,–The doctrines concerning the God-man, viz., Christology and Soteriology.

Upon the former of these we need not linger. We have already indicated Dr. Richards’ view of Christology by the very title employed,–The God-man.

In him is united complete divinity and complete humanity in one complex person.

He becomes such, that he may make atonement for sin. But sin is a violation of law–the law of God.

At this very point Dr. Richards begins the consideration of the cardinal doctrine of the Atonement. He starts with the question,–In what sense is the word Law employed in the Scriptures?” After tracing its use in two or three subordinate senses, he answers the question, in the highest sense, as a moral expression–a supreme moral expression. “It is the great rule of righteousness, expressing the will of God. holy, just, and good. (It may be written or unwritten.) In its relation to man, it binds all mankind to the Creator and to one another.” He goes on to show that this divine law is obligatory not merely because it is statutory or proclaimed, but especially because it is righteous–supremely righteous and supremely proclaimed. Hence it is not abstract or advisory, but is moral and authoritative–clothed, indeed, with supreme personal authority. involving supreme personal sanctions (rewards and penalties),–God’s approbation or disapprobation, righteous and infinite approbation and disapprobation. It cannot be less toward the obedient or disobedient, for God is infinite. In the words of Dr. Richards,–” It is essential to law that it be supported by the will and authority of the lawgiver. It is not merely a rule of duty, but an authoritative rule, made so by the purpose and will of him who established it. . . . . The subject is not left to his own discretion whether he will conform to this rule or not; but his hopes and fears are addressed in the language of authority; and he who has the infinite right to prescribe, reveals his righteous determination to enforce the holy law.” Now, if there had been only obedience, it would be our delight to experience and record only the infinite approbation of our God–“His

favor which is life and his loving-kindness which is better than life.” But disobedience compels the reverse record and the opposite experience.

Hence, as Dr. R. proceeds to show, from the very nature of law and the Lawgiver penalty is inevitable. This, the ethical nature of God and the correlated ethical nature of man, both, demand. Until this ethical demand be satisfied, there cannot be peace between the sinner and the Sovereign-there cannot be peace even with the sinner himself.

“Herein,” says Dr. R., “is the use and design of punishment in case of transgression. It expresses the abhorrence, the moral repugnance, of the Lawgiverer toward sin, and his determination to maintain the authority of his righteous law. It is a real, practical testimony of a holy God to the value which he sets upon his holy law and upon the loyal obedience of his moral creatures. So far forth at least is seen the divine design in annexing a penalty to the law. The infliction of penalty is the carrying out of that design.”

In this profound view, Dr. Richards is, we think, in accord with the profoundest philosophic and evangelical thinkers on this cardinal doctrine of Ethics and Religion. Here, we think, we have the clue to the labyrinth of hum4n sacrifice for sin. “Reconciliation is a universal need.” But this can be secured only by propitiating the offended Divine Majesty; while such propitiation can be secured only by expiation of sin; and expiation involves suffering; and suffering means sacrifice. All religions prescribe sacrifice for sin, as Nicolas and Luthardt and so many writers have abundantly proved. This historic demonstration intelligent sceptics will admit. Voltaire even affirms,–”Among so many different religions there is none whose main object has not been propitiation. Man has ever felt that he needed pardon” (Essai sur les Moeurs, ch. 70).

In logical order, we come now to the question which Dr. R. raises, –“Could (can) God forgive sin merely on the ground of the sinner’s repentance?” To this question Socinus (and Socinians) had replied,–” God is our Creditor. Our sins are debts which we have contracted with him; but every one may yield up his right, and more especially God, who is the supreme Lord of all, and extolled in the Scriptures for his liberality and goodness. Hence, then, it is evident that God can pardon sins without any satisfaction received” (Treatise of Jesus Christ the Savior, Pt. III, Ch. I.).

To this question so often raised and so often answered affirmatively in sympathy with the sinner rather than with the Sovereign, in sympathy with the disobedient rather than with the obedient–to this question, Dr. R. replies,–”We have no evidence that God could thus forgive sin without prostrating the authority of his law. To forgive sin is to remit the merited penalty; but to do this without any suffering or satisfaction for the offence save what is involved in the repentance of the sinner, would be practically to make light both of sin and penalty. It is not seen how this can be done without sacrificing the honor and majesty of the law end virtually destroying its authority.” At first sight, this reply seems to make the reason to be prudential rather than ethical, governmental rather than personal, and thus to omit the chief reason why God cannot forgive sin on the ground of repentance merely. But when we recall Dr. R.’s conception of the moral law–that it is “the great rule of righteousness”a supreme ethical expression–expressing the will of God, holy, just, and good; and especially when in accord with this conception we recall his view of penalty as “expressing the abhorrence, the moral repugnance of the divine Lawgiver,” so that the divine disapprobation is the chief element in the penalty for sin, then we see that the chief reason is not omitted–that even the prudential would cease to be prudent if it were not ethical,-that the good would cease to be obligatory and authoritative if it were not right and personal. If this be the view of Dr. Richards, as we believe it is, then he would evidently condition the moral government of the world on the ethical nature of the supreme moral Governor. This view at least we believe is confirmed and illustrated by inspired Scripture and by human history: “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” and the inspired answer is,–”The Lord is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.” “The righteous Lord loves righteousness.” “A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness and hated iniquity,”–and other Scriptures abundantly.

The history of sin. and its evil consequences in body, soul and spirit, in remorse and shame and fear and pain and death, in the Nemesis which,. by common consent, pursues sin throughout the world and through all time to inflict deserved doom,–all these unite to confirm this profound ethical view. What, then, is the Scriptural idea of an Atonement?

As already indicated, in Dr. Richards’ view it has a twofold relation. It relates to the Divine displeasure, and to human guilt. It would propitiate the one, and expiate the other. Dr. R. hardly essays a formal definition where definitions have been so multiplied, defective, and discordant. He says,–“It is something done to meet these two relations, divine and human.”

For definition he wisely turns to the Scriptures, where we will shortly follow him. The Atonement has, according to Dr. Richards, a twofold object,–immediate and ultimate. “Its immediate object, end, or design was,–to condemn sin; to magnify the law; to declare God’s righteousness-thus at once demonstrating the forbearance and the justice of God: ‘that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus’ (Rom. iii. 25, 26). It was designed to effect the same thing, though in a different way, which would have been effected by inflicting the penalty of the law on transgressors. In other words, the death of Christ, in which the Atonement primarily consisted, proclaimed to the moral universe God’s detestation of sin; his attachment to his law; and his determination to maintain its authority among his moral creatures.”

The ultimate object or end or design of the Atonement, says Dr. R., “was to reconcile God to man and man to God; or, in better phrase,–it was to save men with an everlasting salvation, and therein to make an illustrious display of all the divine perfections ‘in bringing many sons unto glory’–’presenting the Church unto himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing ‘; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” (For a later, but similar reference to a twofold design of Christ’s death-but styled” a subordinate design of Christ’s death, and its chief design,”-see Dr. A. A. Hodge’s “Outlines of Theology” (A.D. 1872), pp. 313, 316; making, also, reference to Dr. Hodge’s” Com. on I Cor. viii. II.”)

To the question,–Did this ultimate object or end or design of the Atonement refer to (or include) the whole human family? Dr. R. replies,–“It referred to (or included) those only who are given to Christ in the Covenant of Redemption. It; in other words, those who exercise “repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ”–those who truly believe in him and are faithful unto death. This salvation includes not only regeneration, but all the doctrines of grace actualized in the experience of the Christian living and dying; issuing in Redemption–Redemption of the body and the soul completed Redemption in Christ Jesus, when we shall be with him where he is, and be like him, and share his glory.

Accordingly, on earth we sing,–

“Grace first contrived the way
To save rebellious man;
And all the steps that grace display
Which drew the wondrous plan.”

Accordingly, the Apostle declares,–”Whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” Accordingly, the new song, in heaven, is,–” Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.”

Did Christ, then, die for all mankind or for a part only?

This great practical question Dr. Richards does not evade, but discusses fairly and fully. Into this discussion we shall follow him presently.

Meantime, we pause with him, briefly, upon a question which it is indispensable though not difficult to answer: Do the Scriptures teach that a true and proper Atonement has been made? A twofold answer is given: (I)”If God could not forgive sin without an Atonement (as has been abundantly shown), then the fact that sin is forgiven, is demonstrative that an Atonement has been made. But Christ had power on earth to forgive sins. This he graciously exercised toward the penitent and believing, e. g., the poor paralytic (Matt. ix.; Mark ii.; Luke v.), the woman which was a sinner (Luke vii.), the saints in Ephesus (Eph. iv. 32), the faithful brethren at Colosse (Col. ii. 13), etc.

(2) “The Scriptures directly teach this in repeated and various ways,–by the typical atonement under the law which the Apostle declares to be only a shadow of good things to come; by assuring us, that Christ died for our offences, that he was made a sin-offering and a sacrifice for us, that his blood cleanses from sin while its cleansing power is ascribed to his having been made sin or a sin-offering, and that without shedding of blood (meaning the blood of a sin-offering) there is no remission. Finally, we are expressly told, that Christ as the great high-priest has made an atonement or propitiation (Revised Version) for the sins of the people.” (See, also, the whole of Hebrews and Galatians.)

His sufferings, we are tersely told, were voluntary or they could not have been virtuous. They were, at the same time, endured in obedience to the Father’s will or they would have been unauthorized and unavailing. It was necessary that they should be such sufferings, of such a person, in order to expiate, or atone for, the sin of the world. And further, the Scriptures state it as a fact that Christ atoned as a Priest and not merely as a Victim,–being obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” So it is by the obedience of one that many are made righteous, no less than by the blood of one that many are redeemed. Clearly, then, in the view of Dr. Richards, the Atonement was Sacrificial, i.e., expiatory toward sin, propitiatory toward God, and substitutive or vicarious for the sinner. Did Christ, then, literally suffer the penalty of the law?

To this question Dr. R. replies: “Christ was made a curse for us; yet he does not appear to have endured that very curse to which the transgressor stood exposed. The remonstrance and remorse of a guilty conscience were no part of his suffering. We would say that he suffered an equivalent to the penalty of the law, rather than that he suffered the very penalty“–or as it might be expressed: a substituted but not the identical penalty–a substituted penalty, but not a substitute for a penalty. “While we would maintain that the sufferings were of vicarious import, because he suffered in the room (or stead) of sinners, and bore the indications of divine wrath for their sakes, we cannot subscribe to the opinion that they were strictly vicarious, if by this is meant that the sins of those for whom he suffered, their personal desert and the merited punishment, were literally transferred to him. We maintain the doctrine of substitution, but not such a substitution as implies a transfer of character, and consequently of desert and punishment. This we think to be impossible; and unnecessary, if not impossible. It was enough that there should be a transfer of sufferings, and these not exactly (or identical) in kind, degree, or duration, but in all their circumstances amounting to a full equivalent in their moral effect upon the government of God. Thus, though innocent himself, he was made sin for us; that the Lord laid upon him the iniquity of us all; and that he bore our sins in his own body on the tree, by suffering what was a full equivalent to the punishment due to our offences. This, we think, is all the substitution which the Scriptures teach, all that the nature of things will admit, and all that was necessary to effect the same moral ends in the government of God, which would have been effected by inflicting on transgressors the penal sanctions of the divine law.”

This view of the vicarious import of Christ’s sacrificial suffering as our substitute, Dr. R. largely illustrates and confirms by the typical sacrifices recorded in the Old Testament. We quote a single sentence: “The victims under the law were vicarious offerings; they suffered in the room and stead of the offerer, and thus far there was a transfer, not of sin or guilt, strictly speaking, but of its penal effects; suffering and death, only, were transferred, and this is what is meant by putting the iniquities of the sinner upon the head of the victim, and the victim’s bearing the iniquities of the sinner.” Dr. Richards’ view is not commercial, but ethical. He regards the Atonement in the scheme of Redemption not as a pecuniary transaction, but as moral and spiritual. It is not a commercial payment; but it is a moral ransom–as sin is not a pecuniary debt, but is a transgression of the moral law. Not monetary claim, but moral obligation is violated, and must (should) be so satisfied that grace may be exercised–so satisfied not as to preclude all conditions in the scheme of Redemption, but in the words of Dr. R., so as “to render it consistent for a holy God to treat with rebellious man.” Thus God’s character is preserved in the very exercise of forgiving grace, and his mercy is manifest toward the undeserving not on account of value received by pecuniary estimate, for no human demerit can counterpoise the infinite merit of our divine Mediator. God’s mercy is manifest toward the undeserving not on account of identical value received, but according to “the riches of his grace in Jesus Christ” (Eph. i.), so that “where sin abounded grace did much more abound” (Rom. v. 20), that God “might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. ii. 7). As the character of our moral obligation to God transcends in kind and degree any pecuniary due, so Christ’s sacrifice for us transcends any identical penalty, or even equivalent penalty. In either way we fail to reach the height and depth of “the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. viii.). It is not by identical or equivalent Measurement that we can or should attempt to Estimate the value of’ this gracious sacrifice as we “behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world” (John i. 29). Yet he is our Substitute. “He suffered for us.” “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree” (I Peter ii. 21, 24).

It will, however, be difficult to avoid misunderstanding among friends, and even disagreement respecting substitution (or vicariousness) so long as the terms punishment (or penalty) and guilt are loosely employed. It should be remembered that each of these terms has a twofold signification according to theological usage, viz., Punishment (or Penalty)–(I) The personal desert of transgression. (2) Evil inflicted to sustain law. Guilt (corresponding to this)–(I) Personal demerit. (2) Liability to punishment-exposure to penalty.

Mindful of this twofold signification according to theological usage, we could readily understand, and identify the signification of such statements as these,–The sufferings of Christ were penal. He took the place of the guilty, etc. So, Augustine properly said,–“Christ suffered the penalty for sin without its personal guilt.” This accords with the inspired statement, I Peter ii. 21,22: “Christ suffered for us; who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth.” Every writer should know in which sense he employs these terms, and strive to make it dear to the reader. Precision, here, will prevent confusion in thought; and, promote harmony of views. In the light of this twofold signification according to theological usage, we see more clearly what Dr. Richards means by “vicarious import” on the one hand, and, on the other, by” strictly vicarious”; and why he so carefully discriminates between the two in defining the doctrine of substitution which he maintains.

We shall more readily see the propriety of Dr. Richards’ reluctance to undertake formal definitions here, and of his resort to the Scriptures, when we recall some of the diverse and discordant (not to say defective) definitions attempted:

According to Pres. Edwards,–“The sufferings and death of Christ constitute the Atonement” (see Shedd’s “Theological Essays,” p. 314).

Samuel Hopkins says,–CC It was Christ’s suffering in his own person the penalty or curse of the law” (Works, I., 324).

According to William Symington,–” The Atonement is that satisfaction given to the law and justice of God; by the sufferings and death of Christ, on behalf of elect sinners of mankind, on account of which they are delivered from condemnation” (Tract, No. XIV.).

Dr. A. A. Hodge says,–”It properly signifies the expiation of sin, and nothing more” (“Atonement,” p. 34).

“Atonement is not so broad a term as satisfaction” (Ibid., 32).

“It is at-one-ment,” say Socinians (Ibid., 32).

“It is the expense of great suffering and even of death itself (to Christ) to bring us out of our sins themselves and so out of their penalty” (Bushnell, “Vicarious Sacrifice,” P.41). (Hence, not to expiate guilt, but to remove its pollution.)

Schaff-Herzog (Art. ” Atonement “),–“Atonement is, at present, universally used in the sense of ‘expiation’–’satisfaction’–‘for an offence’–’propitiation’–‘price of redemption.'”

Dr. N. W. Taylor,–”Atonement is some expedient or provision, by which God shows as high disapprobation of transgression as he would by the punishment of transgressors” (“Lectures on the Moral Government of God,” p. 247).

According to Dr. Shedd (” History of Christian Doctrine,” II., p. 204),-” It is the satisfaction of Divine justice for the sin of man, by the substituted penal sufferings of the Son of God.” McClintock and Strong (Cyclopaedia),–”Atonement is expiation and propitiation combined. It is something offered to God.” Under this statement, the question might still arise,–Are Christ’s good works piacular, or only his sufferings and death? Does his passive or his active obedience constitute the Atonement?

This variety might be multiplied indefinitely. Evidently, it is better with Dr. Richards to inquire of inspired Scripture the meaning of these great terms–Atonement, Reconciliation, Redemption, etc., and thus ascertain their just definitions, distinctions, and places in Systematic Theology.

The word Atonement is often used in the Scriptures. Fourscore times or more does it appear as a noun or verb, in different forms, but from the same common root. This original word is, in the Hebrew, kophar–to cover; to cover over, by making expiation for sin or the sinner; in the Greek, hilaskesthai. This Greek word in its different forms is employed in the Septuagint to translate the Hebrew word for Atonement. Hilasterion (Rom. iii. 25), the specific word for expiation, and hilasterion (I John ii. 2), the specific word for propitiation, are from the same root and have substantially the same meaning, being but two phases of the same essential fact. The Scriptural meaning of the term atone, or Atonement, is to cover, or covering sin, with sacrificial blood–by suffering even unto the death. Illustrations abound in the Old Testament, as in Leviticus, which are referred to in the New Testament, as in Romans and Hebrews. This is the actual history in the case of the sacrificial types, and of the self-sacrificing great Antitype–the suffering Saviour. The doctrine inlaid in this sacred history is,-the expiation of sin with sacrificial blood.

A different Greek word, kattallage is employed, in the New Testament, for Reconciliation. In the single instance in the New Testament (Rom v. 1 I) where this Greek word had been translated Atonement, the revisers have adopted Reconciliation as the proper translation. Whereas, in Heb. ii. 17, they have replaced the phrase, “to make reconciliation,” by the more exact translation, “to make propitiation,”–to make atonement. So carefully is the word Atonement discriminated from the word Reconciliation, throughout the New Testament. As if the inspired writers would definitely distinguish the means or cause froin the result or effect,–that is, the atoning sacrifice, from the reconciliation which is thereby effected.

Thus, though not separated, they are definitely distinguished in doctrine, as they are really distinguished in fact. The atoning sacrifice in blood or suffering even unto death expiates sin or covers it. Thus, it maintains the divine law, holy, just, and good; and, thus does it propitiate the holy Lawgiver, so that reconciled thus (by this recognition of the holiness of the law and the Lawgiver) he can in any possible way treat with sinners, e. g., in the exercise of forbearance, and suspension of penalty, and amnesty toward the guilty, and probation in grace, and the offer of salvation thus made possible.

Amnesty with all that is thus involved and offered is secured by the Atonement or Expiation of sin. In the history of the case this distinction is precisely made, as well as in the doctrine; and in the former, it is in precise accord with the latter. The historical verifies the doctrinal distinction as so carefully set forth in the Scriptures.

The history of the onworking, as Amnesty toward the sinner and the perpetuated proclamation of the Gospel, now, is in strict accord with the historic order of the atoning sacrifice when it was wrought out and” finished” by the suffering Savior, viz., the gracious means, and then the gracious immediate result–in other words, the atoning sacrifice for sin by the Mediator, and then the gracious amnesty proclaimed to the sinner by the reconciled divine Majesty. “Now we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech men by us”; “to whom he hath given the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor. v. 20, 18).

If it should stop here, and no sinner improve the amnesty offered, or accept the grace provided, yet divine law would have been honored and divine justice vindicated and great grace and love revealed in Christ before the view of the whole universe.

But this does not exhaust the divine love and wisdom in the scheme of Redemption. If it should stop here, there would be no salvation realized. Though there had been mediatorial suffering and divine amnesty proclaimed, either all would be redeemed by the pardoning act of God still unregenerate and still unsaved, or none would be redeemed because of the sinful and rebellious choice of man. But Redemption is not thus to be actualized or completed in every case by the pardoning act of God; nor is it thus to fail in every case because of the sinful and rebellious choice of man. There shall be the actualized redemption of a great company which no man can number. The Atonement–the expiatory sacrifice even unto death–has been effected; Redemption shall be. The real history of Redemption (not yet completed), and the doctrine imbedded in it, lie before us surveyed by the inspired Word unto completeness, even unto “the day of the Lord.”

What is this larger thought, this climactic doctrine which Biblical usage with inspired precision distinguishes from that of the Atonement? For there is, as Dr. A. A. Hodge (“The Atonement,” p. 42) well says,–”There is unquestionably a distinction to be carefully observed between these words Atonement and Redemption in their Biblical usage–the latter being more comprehensive and less definite–commenced now, it will be consummated at a future day.” “Atonement signalizes only the expiation of our guilt by Christ’s vicarious sufferings” (p. 249).

Studying the inspired record, we shall know of the history of Redemption and the doctrine it enfolds, the Scriptural distinctions and definitions.

The terms redeem and redemption are employed about one hundred and forty times in the Scriptures; but they appear in very different words–Hebrew and Greek-from those expressing atone and atonement, viz., gaal and padah (in varied forms) in Hebrew; and agoradzo and lutroo (in varied forms) in Greek. The larger and completed thought conveyed in Redemption is, deliverance–real, actual deliverance, from the penalty and the power of sin–from its guilt and dominion; a deliverance not fully effected in Regeneration, but approximating in the progressive work of sanctification, and culminating in complete salvation from all evil of body, soul, and spirit. The growth of this thought toward its fullness may be traced in such Scriptures as Col. i. 14; I Peter i. 18; Rom. viii. 23 i Eph. iv. 30; 1 Cor. i. 30; Titus ii. 14. The Redemption thus being wrought out for us, is-must be–in its very nature personal and particular, thus illustrating and actualizing the” election in grace.” Though often confounded for want of precision in language or in conception, these words are distinct and distinguished in Scripture, thus indicating the different and larger thought in the latter.

In the history of Redemption we find the doctrine of the Atonement, its definition and place. The Scriptural representation is that the expiatory offering–the Atonement–meets the penalty of sin and covers the guilty from the search of avenging justice, thus procuring pardon or deliverance from condemnation. It is of God’s love through Christ, and opens the way for conditional blessings immeasurable, even the fulness of Redemption. Though it secures pardon, it does not remove the pollution of sin. It is preliminary to Sanctification and indispensable, yet it does not produce sanctification. It is a preliminary requisite to Regeneration, yet it does not produce regeneration. There is a new and additional agency necessary to effect this, even the agency of the Holy Spirit. To him belongs this divine office-work. This we understand to be substantially Dr. Richards’ view of these important Scriptural distinctions and definitions, as may be readily verified by consulting his Lectures.1 If sometimes Dr. Richards seems to confound these terms, using them interchangeably as if they were synonymous, it is not in itself a legitimate use, nor is it in logical accord with the peculiarity of his theological system.

In his view, “The Covenant of Redemption” involved this primal, meritorious condition,–the atoning sacrifice of the incarnate Word, the only begotten Son of God-that there might be, even, amnesty and grace possible and proffered to sinful man.

The Gospel of Christ, now proclaimed by his authority, includes conditions not meritorious, but indispensable in any possible, moral scheme of Redemption–certainly indispensable in the scheme of Redemption revealed in the Scriptures.

This gracious Gospel of Christ is not, however, proclaimed on. “lowered conditions” as Socinians and (according to Dr. Hodge, “Commentary on the Confession,” p. 173) Arminians teach. It is rather placed (as we would say) on higher ground,–even the law fulfilled by Christ and thus crowned with twofold honor. Henceforth, “the love of Christ constrains” the sincere Christian. Henceforth, the appeal is to his loyal and best endeavor to be like Christ, as, at length, he will be, drawn by the constraint of love. There, too, he shall be with Christ where he is, beholding and sharing his glory.

No formal law, arrayed in robes of justice and speaking in tones of command and attended with penal terrors, could reach the height of Christ’s constraining love. Yet holy law must ever speak, and ever remind us how sacredly Christ our Savior regarded and regards it, and ever be ” a schoolmaster unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” Although,” After that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster” (Gal. iii. 24, 25).

According to the history of Redemption the Covenant between the Father and the Son put the case as related to sinners into the hands of Christ the Mediator. Henceforth, the sinner is to treat with the Savior. He–in any covenant toward man–affixes such terms or conditions as he may deem proper. If these conditions are met, Christ will approve and bless; if these conditions are rejected, Christ will judge and condemn.

In the administration of Grace, Christ is properly the supreme Judge. Hence, he decides that sin against the Holy Ghost, the reprover, persuader, regenerator, sanctifier, cannot be forgiven. Resistance to him may be fatal.

It is evident, then, that the mere fact of the Atonement as made and “finished” does not give to every man or to any man a claim on God to the completed benefits of Redemption. If it did, then every man might thus be saved, as he is, unrenewed, unregenerate. This, no Evangelical Christian will (we think) admit. The Scriptures teach,–” Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Heb. xi. 6). And, Christ dec1ares,–”Ye must be born again” (John iii. 7).

There are, then, conditions which apply to any and all. Conditions which the atoning Mediator hath established, viz., “Repentance toward God, and Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.” These conditions are indispensable to salvation, in the very nature of the case (else it would be, salvation in sin–not salvation from sin); and they are made indispensable by the authoritative yet gracious declaration of the Savior himself. The Scriptures are explicit,–”Repent,” cried John, the forerunner of the Christ–”Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” “Repent ye,” proclaimed Christ, the Messiah, “for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. iii. 2; iv. 17).

Peter preached at Pentecost,–” Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins”; and in the temple,–”Repent, and be converted that your sins may be blotted out.” Paul at Athens preached,–“God now commands all men everywhere to repent” (Acts ii. 38; iii. 19; xvii. 30).

The authoritative declaration of the Christ has fixed this condition as universal and indispensable,–“Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke xiii. 3, repeated in 5th verse).

Another condition alike indispensable, but not meritorious, has been fixed by the same divine authority,–”He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John iii. 36). “Repent ye and believe the Gospel” (Mark i. I5). The great commission is,–”Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark xvi. I5, 16).

The grace provided upon the indispensable and meritorious condition of Christ’s infinite sacrifice for sin is thus proffered and promised upon the indispensable, but not meritorious conditions of Repentance and Faith. Christ has paid the infinite price–”fully satisfying the justice of the Father” (Conf., VIII. 5), for one, or every sin; for one, or every sinner. Christ has thus obtained salvation for us; but it is not ours (it could not become ours, we might more strongly say), except on the conditions which he himself hath established. Wherever these conditions are met, the promise will be fulfilled.

Will the conditions be met? The question is one of great practical and doctrinal importance in the scheme of Redemption. In some way, and in every case issuing in salvation, the sinner’s agency must be enlisted, for it is he and not God who must repent, believe, and be saved. Will the indispensable conditions be met, by the sinner’s ready and grateful acceptance? They should be thus met. But, alas! they will not be. Sacred Scripture and human history abundantly prove this negative.

It remains, then, as a moral necessity that another agency, gracious and divine–the Holy Spirit–initiate the blessed work, enlist the human agency in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. This at least must be effected by the Holy Spirit or all be lost. This gracious divine agency is sovereign, but not arbitrary. Doubtless there are supremely good and righteous reasons why all may not thus be reached and saved. But this is a question not only profound, but fathomless, we think, to finite sounding. Certainly, it is not because Christ has failed to make ample provision; or has barred the way; or has forbidden any to partake; or will reject any who repent and, believe.

Nor is it because God has created men in order to damn them or because he delights in the death of any soul that dies. He would rather, as he declares, infinitely rather, every soul would turn and live. The divine plan and provision and promise in grace–it is safe and orthodox to say–are in full accord with this solemn declaration of God and the urgent obligation impressed upon every soul “to repent and believe the Gospel.”

Yet, it is no less certain that if these indispensable conditions be met, and redemption be effected in any case, it must be by the applying agency of the Holy Ghost. He must initiate the good work and continue it unto perfection–not arbitrarily, but sovereignly–not in violation of man’s moral nature, but in accord with it–not by creating new faculties or moral powers (as if the change were physical), but by renewing these “in knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness,” and thus, at length, conforming them to the will of God and confirming them in the likeness of Christ. Such “from the beginning God hath chosen to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” (2 Thess. ii.,13). “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ; who are kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation” (I Peter i. 2, 5).

The Scriptures reveal the secret of this spiritual need in such words as these: ” The natural man receives not the things. . . . of God, for they are foolishness unto him. They that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh. The carnal mind is enmity against God” (2 Cor. ii. 14; Rom. viii. 5, 7). The sinful human heart would fail to meet the conditions indispensable to salvation without some gracious influence from above. Hence the universal need that the Holy Spirit undertake the work of grace,” whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the Gospe1–”(S. C., 31). “In this statement,” says Dr. R., “the whole work of conviction and conversion is comprised, and its accomplishment ascribed to the Holy Spirit, as its true and proper cause; not, however, overlooking the instrumentality of the Word, nor denying that an outward call is freely given to all where the Gospel comes. There is no truth more certain than that the Gospel is to be preached to all men, without distinction, and that all are invited and commanded by it to come and partake of the blessings which it reveals. At the same time, it is manifest that some refuse, with “aggravated guilt; while some submit to the Divine Spirit who doth accompany the Word . . . . and dispose the “Sinner humbly and thankfully to embrace the proffered mercy. This work of the Spirit our standards denominate a Call, and an effectual Call, because it does not fail to reach its end. Any call which leaves the subject of it short of this, cannot be effectual. Though it come from the Word, or Providence, or Spirit of God, or from all three combined, if it does not issue in ‘Repentance unto life,’ and in ‘ Faith unfeigned,’ it is not effectual.”

I refer to one other statement of Dr. Richards which briefly and clearly presents his view of the Spirit’s gracious work on our behalf: “He works all spiritual good in us, but in a way which does no violence to our faculties. He enlightens our understandings, and we see; he inclines our hearts to the right, and we choose it; he draws us, and we run after him; and though this is done by an agency which is effectual, yet it in no degree militates against our freedom. His action in this case is indeed the cause of our acting; while it is true that we act, and act freely in the full possession of all our powers. It is God who sheds abroad his love in our hearts, but we who love. It is God who gives repentance, but we who repent; God who gives faith, but we who believe; and so of all other graces” (Lecture on Effectual Calling). This is tersely and admirably summed up in the L. Catechism, I55: “The Spirit of God makes the reading, and especially the preaching of the Word, an effectual means of enlightening, convincing, and humbling sinners, of driving them out of themselves, and drawing them unto Christ; of conforming them unto his image, and subduing them unto his will; of strengthening them against temptations and corruptions; of building them up in grace and establishing their hearts in holiness and comfort through faith unto salvation.” “Yet,” in the words of the Confession, Chap. X. I, “so as they come most freely, being made willing by his grace.” “Yet,” again (Conf., XVI. 3),” are they not hereupon to grow negligent, as if they were not bound to perform any duty unless upon a special motion of the Holy Spirit; but they ought to be diligent in stirring up the grace of God that is in them’; This accords with the inspired injunction (Phil. ii. 12-13): “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God which ‘works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

“Wherefore grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.”

To secure such a fulfilment of such conditions, and to effect such a salvation of lost sinners, the gracious agency of the Holy Spirit is indispensable; and it alone is equal to the great and gracious task. Wherefore, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. Unto whom he sware in his wrath that they should not enter into his rest (Heb. iii.; Psalm xcv.)

But it is time that we follow Dr. Richards to the consideration of this important practical question:

Did Christ, then, die for all mankind, or for a part only? Already we have found that. Dr. Richards teaches a twofold object, aim, or end subserved by the death of Christ, viz.: An immediate or proximate end; an ultimate or final end. The immediate end was secured when, by his death, Christ’s atoning work was “finished,” e.g. (Rom. iii. 25; 26): “To declare God’s righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God, that he might be just and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus”; “to magnify the law and make it honorable” (Isa. xlii. 21);” to condemn sin in the flesh” (Rom. viii. 3). Then and thus was proclaimed to the moral universe God’s detestation of sin; his attachment to his law; and his determination to maintain its authority.

The ultimate end would be secured when by the applying agency of the Holy Ghost sinners should be brought to exercise “Repentance toward God and Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ”; should be” justified and sanctified and glorified” (Rom. viii. 30).

In accordance with the immediate end thus secured, says Dr. R., “Christ’s death opened the way for God to show mercy. It removed the impediment which existed antecedent to the fact of an atonement, and which but for this fact would have forever barred the door of salvation to mankind. The death of Christ rendered the salvation of all possible, so far as the atonement was concerned. As an expiatory offering it was all-sufficient (infinite) in satisfying Divine justice; for effecting the immediate end (e. g., to declare God’s righteousness, to maintain God’s law, and to condemn sin) it was complete. In this view it was precisely the same thing, as it stood related to the elect and the non-elect. The sacrificial service was one and the same, appointed by the same authority and for the same immediate purpose, and performed by the same glorious Personage at the very same time. It wanted nothing to constitute it a true and perfect sacrifice for sin, as it stood related to the whole world. It was but this true and perfect sacrifice, as it stood related to the elect. Any other view would have overturned its sufficiency for all mankind; for it was not the sufficiency of Christ to be a sacrifice, but his sufficiency as a sacrifice for the whole world, that was maintained.

According to Milner, the Church from the earliest ages rested in the opinion that Christ died for all. In complete accordance with this they held that this most perfect sacrifice for sin became efficient for salvation by the applying agency of the Holy Ghost. Intrinsically it was the same for all the world and for all time. As a sacrifice for sin, in and of itself, it did nothing for one which it did not do for all. When this (immediate) end or object of Christ’s death is considered, it seems proper to say that he died for all; and we understand the Bible as asserting this when it says: ‘He gave himself a ransom for all;’ ‘he is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world: “To make provision for the whole human family by pouring out his blood, it behooved him neither to be nor to do anything more than he actually did. As a Person of infinite dignity, he accomplished that very service in that very nature, and in all those circumstances of touching interest, which alone would have been requisite had he intended to make atonement for the whole world. But this nature, be it remembered, is the common nature of man, and if rendering an expiatory service in this nature would make atonement for one, why not for another, and another, and for–all?” (Thus men everywhere and for all time might behold him, as his harbinger proclaimed him to be, “The Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.”)

But further, “‘All the world guilty before God’ (Rom iii. 19). had by their sin so far forth declared that the law was not good, nor God worthy to be obeyed. Christ reverses this statement, and by supreme loyalty, even incarnation, suffering, and death, proclaims before the universe the holiness and goodness of God and the excellence and importance of his law. What is there, then, in the nature and circumstances of Christ’s sacrifice, which should limit its availableness to a part of the human race? Did it not bear sufficiently upon the conduct of the whole” Did it not condemn sin–all sin–the sin of one man as much as the sin of another? Did it not vindicate the divine holiness and the purity and excellence of that law which man had broken? Did it not evince God’s determination to sustain the authority of his law, while it exhibited his boundless compassion toward a guilty world? What more would we have in it, or what other or greater moral influence would we have it exert, had it been designed as a sacrifice of expiation for the whole human family?” . . . . . If it be objected that the doctrine of substitution would forbid that Christ died for all men, Dr. Richards’ reply is: “Christ did and suffered what he must have done had he been the substitute for all, and, so far as we can discern, nothing more or less. What he did and suffered bore the same relation to sin and holiness, to the law and government of God, as it would have done had he offered himself for all. Nay, we consider it impossible that he should, by his obedience and death, have condemned sin and magnified the law, and this in man’s nature, without doing it with reference to every man’s sin, and the dishonor which every man had cast upon the law. His sacrificial service was open and public, performed in the face of the universe, and gave out a testimony which was heard through all worlds, and a testimony which bore as strongly upon one man’s sin as another’s, and upon the righteousness of God in his condemnation. Indeed, whatever was the language of this solemn transaction concerning God or man, it equally respected all men, and God in relation to all men. Were we, therefore, to look only at the nature of his sacrifice, and the purposes it was immediately designed to answer in the moral administration of God, we could not doubt that so far as Christ was the substitute of any man, he was the substitute of all men.”

Dr. Richards also illustrates and confirms this view by the rite of sacrifice under the dispensation of Moses. . . . . “Admit, then, that every man in the Jewish nation, good or bad, elect or non-elect, when he brought his sin or trespass offering to the Lord, was taught, by the very nature of the institution, that his offering or victim was his substitute, could he avoid the conclusion that a greater and infinitely more precious victim was his substitute also? Could he understand the nature of the Mosaic sacrificial service without perceiving that the type pointed to the Antitype?” (In accord with this thought, the herald voice of John the Baptist would not have sounded strange to Jewish ears: “Behold the Lamb, which taketh away the sin of the world.”)

But more than this, the rite of sacrifice was observed during the patriarchal ages, and at the earliest times, when the first sons of Adam brought their offerings at the appointed time, and by Divine appointment to present them at the altar. Were these sacrifices, thus offered, the substitutes for the offerers? Did they typify the Savior and his sacrifice of expiation? Most certainly they did, or they were an unmeaning and unprofitable service. Here, then, was instruction which God himself imparted, and which exhibits two important facts, to wit: that the victims employed in animal sacrifice were the appointed substitutes of their respective offerer; and that being types of Christ, they show him to be the substitute of the offerers also. Now, as the rite of sacrifice was universal–instituted for the whole sinful family of man–how can we escape the conclusion that a foundation was laid for this universality by appointing the Mediator to appear in human nature and to offer a sacrifice in behalf of the whole human family? Allow a substitution thus universal and all appears plain. Say with the Scriptures that Christ is “the Mediator between God and men” (I Tim. ii. 5), and that “He, by the grace of God, tasted death for every man” (Heb. ii. 9); give these expressions their full and unrestricted import, and there is no difficulty in allowing that the ancient victim” were the substitutes of those who offered them, and at the same time types of the Lord Jesus, who in his sacrificial character sustained an important (immediate) relation to the entire family of man. But deny a substitution thus universal and you are plunged into impenetrable darkness.

Dr. Richards reiterates and multiplies arguments on this point because it was, in his honest judgment, Scriptural and important. But not to follow him further in this argumentation, we give his conclusion: “If Christ (as Mediator) were a substitute for all men, or died in the room of all, then it cannot be denied that his sacrifice bore such a relation to the sins of men that a way was thereby opened for the restoration of the whole human race to the favor of God. And, on the other hand, if no substitution of this universal character existed, I do not see but that we must restrict the availableness of Christ’s death to the elect only.”

Dr. Richards now turns to answer expressly two counter-questions, which he has already answered, essentially, by the distinct statement of this doctrine. These questions are–(I) “If Christ died in the room of all, why are not all saved? (2) If he died for all, or in reference to all, why the speciality sometimes indicated in the language of Scripture, that he lay down his life for his sheep, for his friends, for the Church?

His answer to the first question is: “Though Christ did die for all, so as to make his death available, to their salvation, it does not follow as a consequence that all will actually be saved.” (Of this principle there are multiplied illustrations and confirmations in Scripture. We need only quote some of these from his many references.)

He replies to the second question: “The special statements that Christ died for his sheep, his friends, his Church, does not contradict or exclude the general statements that ‘he died for all; that he tasted death for every man; etc., but is explained (as already shown) by reference to the ultimate end or object of his death.”

This ultimate end is to be secured by the applying agency of the Holy Ghost, even the ultimate salvation of those, and only those, who are led to exercise “Repentance toward God and Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.”

“But this ultimate end which is to be secured by the sovereign and gracious agency of the Holy Ghost (sovereign, but not arbitrary; gracious, but not exclusive), hinders not the availableness of Christ’s sacrifice in relation to all, nor throws the slightest suspicion upon the doctrine which we have advocated. Because this was the ultimate end or object contemplated in the death of Christ, is it just to say that there could have been no other end or object contemplated? Doubtless, whatever follows as the proper result of his atoning sacrifice, he sought, more immediately or remotely, as an end or object of his undertaking in this infinitely solemn and amazing tragedy.”

This position, based upon the comprehensive history of Redemption, Dr. Richards proceeds to illustrate and confirm by the varied representations of Scripture–e.g., the parable of the marriage supper, where it is expressly said, All things are ready, and ready, too, for those who, it seems, in the event never came; the indefinite tender of salvation made to all men were the Gospel comes. (To us, he says, no maxim appears more certain than that a salvation offered implies a salvation provided; for God will not tantalize his creatures by tendering them that which is not in his hand to bestow); the declared purpose of God in sending his Son into the world, and which he has expressed in such a manner as to leave no reasonable doubt that provision is made for all. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” The word world employed here by the Savior himself must mean either the world of mankind, the human race, or the elect world. The latter interpretation would make the passage run thus: “God so loved the elect world, that whosoever of the elect world shall believe in him,”etc.

Besides this reductio ad absurdum of the limitarian interpretation, Dr. Richards refers to the context as fixing the sense and condemning the limitarian interpretation: “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.” And again, “This is the condemnation, that light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light I, (John iii. 16, 17, 19).

Dr. R. also refers to the usus loquendi which forbids the limitarian interpretation of the word world as God’s chosen people, or the elect. “Nowhere is it used,” he remarks, “that we have discovered, for the elect, the Church, or God’s redeemed ones, in distinction from others.” He elsewhere refers to Calvin’s Commentary on this passage (John iii. 16), “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” as follows: “By the world, according to Calvin, we are to understand’ genus humanum,’ the human race collectively, and not the elect as a distinct portion of the world. God hath affixed, says Calvin, a mark of universality to his words on this occasion, both that he might invite all promiscuously to the participation of life, and that he might cut off excuse to the unbelieving. This universality, he tells us, is indicated not only by the term whosoever, but by the term world. ‘For though God finds nothing in the world worthy of his favor, nevertheless he shows himself propitious to the whole world, since he calls all men, without exception, to faith in Christ, which is nothing else than an entrance into life.’

“This passage of Scripture, according to its obvious meaning,” says Dr. Richards, ” declares God’s love to the human race collectively in the gift of his Son, which gift involved in it the means of their salvation. He sent his Son that they might be saved, not that they should infallibly be saved. His love was expressed in providing the means, and their destiny he has made to tum upon the use which should be made of this inestimable provision of Divine mercy. Hence Christ himself says in the words immediately following: ‘He that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God’ (John iii. 18). Here he assigns the true and only cause of condemnation to sinners under the light of the Gospel, namely, unbelief. But how could unbelief be the cause, at least the principal cause, if no sacrifice has been offered for them, and no means of salvation provided? There would then be another reason for their condemnation, a reason far deeper and more controlling, to wit, no atonement, nor the means of one.”

This question, which is of such interest to the world, Dr. Richards. has discussed at length in his volume of Lectures, edited by S. H. Gridley, D.D., and in a pamphlet published by the Presbyterian Board and designated No.294, “The Extent of the Atonement.”

Dr. R. proceeds at large to show that in teaching the doctrine of a general atonement, or that Christ died for all, he is not peculiar, since Paul affirmed (I Tim. ii. 4. 5. 6): “God will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth; for there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men–the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all.”

And John affirmed (I John ii. 2): “Christ is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” And the Epistle to the Hebrews affirmed (ii. 9): “Christ by the grace of God tasted death for every man.” And the Harbinger of Christ declared (John i. 29): “Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.”

And the divine Christ taught (John iii. 16): “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not .perish, but have everlasting life.”

And he gave” The Great Commission” (Mark xvi. I5, 16), “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”

And he .authorized “The Great Invitation” to be repeated everywhere and for all time (Rev. xxii. 17): “The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that hears say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”

It will appear from the writings of Justin that the early Christians, even the Jewish, had cast aside all limitations of the atonement to a particular people, while Justin himself speaks of “man,” “the human race,” “mankind” as those for whom Christ died. Athanasius, styled” The Father of Orthodoxy,” says (Defensio Fidei Nicaenae, sec. 14): “Christ offered himself . . . . . a sacrifice for all, that he might deliver us all” (contra, Arianos, i. 60); “Laden with guilt, the world was condemned of law, but the Logos assumed the condemnation, and suffering in the flesh gave salvation-or made it possible–to all” (Pres. Qual”. Rev. 1853, p. 260); “Because we were all exposed to death, he gave himself up to death for us all; . . . . he offered himself a sacrifice for all, that he might set all free from original sin” (Ibid.). Ambrose declares,–” The mystical Sun of righteousness rose for all, came to all, suffered and rose again for all; but if one believes not in Christ he defrauds himself of the general benefit.”

The Alexandrian school, the Antiochian school, the Greek fathers,–all taught that Christ died for the race,–for all. Chrysostom and Gregory the Great are cited as teaching this doctrine; while Augustine is referred to upon the authority of Prosper, his admirer and follower, as maintaining that Christ gave himself a ransom for all. The declaration of Pelagius, that this had been the uncontradicted doctrine of the Church ever since the time of the Apostles, is said to have passed without challenge; while Lucidus, a zealous Augustinian, pressing beyond his master, avowing that Christ died only for the elect, was accused at the Council of Arles and compelled to recant.

Gotteschalk, in the ninth century, vigorously maintained the theory of Lucidus; but after the death of Gotteschalk, in 867, this theory well-nigh disappeared from view for centuries. Among the Reformers, in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, Dr. R. refers to Luther, Melancthon, Osiander, Brentius, Oecolampadius, Zwinglius, and Bucer as holding the doctrine of a general atonement.

He quotes from” The Psalgrave Confession professed in the dominions of Frederick V., Prince Elector Palatine,”–”The death of Christ is a full, all-sufficient payment (or atonement) not only for our sins, but for the sins of the whole world“; from the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England, “The offering of Christ once made is that perfect . . . . satisfaction for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual“; from the Heidelberg Catechism, “Christ bore … the weight of the wrath of God for the sins of all mankind.” Yet the Synod of Dort (notwithstanding the explicit declarations of Musculus and Zanchius indicating the position of the original Reformed Church on this question), it is well understood, represented a variety of views, and the form of words in The Articles, etc., adopted” still wears the appearance of a compromise.”

To Calvin’s Commentaries,” which were the labors of his riper years,” Dr. Richards refers at large as” unequivocally teaching the doctrine of a general atonement.” He quotes his vigorous comment on the words of Christ John iii. 16), which we have already cited; also (Mat. xxvi. 28): “This is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” “Under the name of “many,” says Calvin, “he designates not a part of the world only, but the whole human race.”

See also his Commentary on Romans v. 18: “Therefore, as by the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” Calvin says: “He makes this favor common to all, because it is propounded to all, and not because it is in reality extended to all; for though Christ suffered for the sins of the whole world, and is offered through God’s benignity indiscriminately to all, yet all do not receive him“–(“Nam etsi passus est Christus pro peccatis totius mundi, atque omnibus indifferenter Dei benignitate offertur; non tamen omnes apprehendum.”)

But, not to pursue these references to Calvin, we quote from his last will and testament, written two months before his death: “I further testify and declare that as a suppliant I humbly implore of him to grant me to be so washed and purified by the blood of that sovereign Redeemer, shed for the sins of the human race, that I may be permitted to stand before his tribunal in the image of the Redeemer himself.”

Bullinger, successor of Zwinglius at Zurich, author of “The Second Helvetic Confession,” says in one of his sermons: “The Lord died for all, but all are not partakers of this redemption, through their own fault.” This “Second Helvetic Confession,” prepared by Bullinger in 1564, is characterized by Dr. Shedd (“Hist. of Christian Doctrine,” ii., 46g) as one of the principal symbols of the Reformed Church. It was adopted by all the Reformed Churches in Switzerland (except at Basle), by the Reformed Churches in Poland, Hungary, Scotland, and France. It represents the Protestant theology of Switzerland as completed by Calvin and his coadjutors. Besides having great currency among the Reformed Churches within and without Switzerland, as just noted, it appeared as local confessions for the use of provincial churches, as the Confessio Palatina, and the Repititio Anhaltina.

This notable Calvinistic Confession declares: “Christ took the sins of the world upon himself, endured their punishment and satisfied Divine justice.”

It were well for some demonstrative Calvinists to consider whether, in their zeal for orthodoxy, they do not, wittingly or unwittingly, contradict Calvin. The system of doctrine constructed by the Westminster Assembly (July I, 1643, to February 22, 1648), nearly a hundred years after the Second Helvetic Confession, sought successfully to be Calvinistic. In the circumstances of its formation, however, as well as in its theological character, it bears a close resemblance to the Canons of the Synod of Dort (Shedd, ” Hist. of Christian Doctrine,” ii.,480). “There is ample evidence that the Standards of the Westminster Assembly, like the Canons of the Synod of Dort, were a compromise.” Observing the Scriptural discrimination between such terms as Atonement, Reconciliation, Redemption, etc., as well as between the atoning work of Christ and the applying agency of the Holy Ghost, Dr. Richards found the most satisfactory accord between the Standards and the Scriptures. He could be at once loyal to the Presbyterian Standards and supremely loyal to the Standard of standards. He could consistently accept the conservative and conciliatory position of Presidency of the Auburn Convention (1837), which issued” The Auburn Declaration,” a. Declaration of which Dr. A. A. Hodge has just said (PRES. REVIEW, April, 1884, p. 272): “From the representative character of the body that issued jt, and from the fact that the Old-school Assembly of 1870 endorsed it as ’embracing all the fundamentals of the Calvinistic creed,’ it remains a highly authoritative statement of the degree of variation in interpreting their common Confession of Faith, which the two great parties to our reunion treaty mutually demanded and allowed.”–“A Convention which believed that both themselves and the body they were representing were thoroughly loyal to the Westminster symbols,” and therefore made their Declaration of TRUE DOCTRINES over against tabulated ERRORS, U affirming their cordial acceptance of the Confession of Faith as the best formula of Christian doctrine in existence.”

–A Convention whose venerable president, now in his 70th year, “wrote an open letter designed to quiet misapprehensions and to certify to the essential loyalty of the represented body to the accepted standards. His testimony must be regarded as intelligent, honest, conclusive. In respect to the ministers, he declared that they have all solemnly professed to believe the Confession of Faith as containing that system of doctrine taught in the Scriptures; . . . . accepting . . . . such truths as are ‘vital to the system, and which distinguish it from Arminianism and semi-pelagianism’” “They believe,” says Dr. Richards, “in the doctrine of total depravity by nature; in regeneration by the sovereign and efficacious influence of the Holy Spirit; in justification by the righteousness of Christ as the only true and meritorious cause; in the perseverance of the saints and the interminable punishment of the wicked. As to the churches, he testifies, after an examination of twenty-six formulas of admission to membership, which he had gathered by application to as many presbyteries: If I have any judgment as to what belongs to orthodoxy, they are as sound as a roach. . . . . They favor the idea of a general atonement, as John Calvin and the early Reformers did.”

–A Convention which “adopted a resolution recommending all the presbyteries in their connection to take steps toward the more general circulation of the Confession and catechisms among the churches under their care.”

–A Convention whose Christian, candid, and orthodox Declaration opened the way for Presbyterian Reunion in 1870, and was thus generously and deservedly recognized by the O. S. General Assembly of 1868: “We regard the Auburn Declaration as an authoritative statement of the New-school type of Calvinism, and as indicating how far they desire to go, and how much liberty they wish in regard to what the terms of union call, the various modes of explaining, illustrating, and stating the Calvinistic faith.” The Assembly further declared its judgment that the Declaration embraced” all the fundamentals of the Calvinistic creed,” and expressed its belief that the New-school party claimed and desired only that degree of variation from the Standards “which would be represented by the theology of Richards and the Auburn Declaration.” This voluntary and deserved recognition was appropriately acknowledged the following year, on the floor of Assembly (O. S.) by a representative of the theology of Richards and the Auburn Declaration: “We recall the generous act of your last Assembly in amply vindicating our orthodoxy by that deliverance which, of your own accord, was entered upon your minutes, and for which we render you, in the name of all truth and fairness, our sincere thanks.”

As has been well said, ” So long as these modes of viewing, stating, explaining, and illustrating the common system are admissible, we see no reason why every genuine Calvinistic mind should not be substantially satisfied” (Pres. Quar. and Princeton Rev., January, 1876. containing an interesting article by Dr. E. D. Morris. of Lane Seminary.)

Loyal at once to the Presbyterian Standards and to the inspired Standard of standards, Dr. Richards could be honest and earnest and sincerely irenic in closing, with those memorable words, the famous “Pastoral Letter It of 1838, which he was commissioned to write to the Presbyterian churches represented by the Auburn Convention: “We love and honor the Confession of Faith of the Presbyterian Church. as containing more well-defined fundamental truth. with less defects, than appertains to any other human formula of doctrine, and as calculated to hold in intelligent concord a greater number of sanctified minds than any which could now be framed; and we disclaim all design–-past, present, and future–to change it.”


Promises and prophecies of the Messiah pervade the Old Testament Scriptures. The promise of the Christ interlocked with the very sentence pronounced upon Adam. Still the sinning Adam must be excluded from Eden. Even under grace, sin must withdraw into correspondent surroundings i and the sinner, though allowed one more probation, must be confronted by external badges of his moral degradation and shame and slavery. Reminded of his former failure and of his present sin and woe, he is, also, reminded of life instead of death; reminded that gracious help has already some way come, and is within his reach, and that he is challenged to turn to the gracious helper and be rescued from ruin.

Yet he is taught by his sad experience and environment, and, especially, is he taught by the very terms of the gracious promise, that help in his case is not easy; that to rescue him from the penalty of his sin will require struggle and suffering of his gracious helper, and that self-help will not avail. The seed of the woman should bruise the head of the serpent, but it should bruise his heel (Gen. iii. 15). If, before, the guilty Adam had been impressed with the majesty of Divine law and the terrors of offended justice, he must now, in the midst of his remorse and exclusion and need of help and hope, see how holy is the law and how sacred and awful is the Divine Majesty; see how sin brings suffering which else had not been; how it needs expiation, which he cannot give, and restoration (redemption) through a new order of things, which else had not been required; that, if rescued, it must be by a sinless, suffering Savior. However faintly these lessons may have been recognized then, or may be now, they are fully implied in the history. These facts clearly indicate the divine order, which is obviously that of the actual history. Thus we are brought to the historico-doctrinal method pursued by Dr. Richards.

The history of Redemption gives the actual setting and true definition of Redemption as a doctrine. It also gives the several elements included in this doctrine, which enter as parts distinct, though not separate, into the real history of Redemption. This history is one, and only one. In sacred Scripture only is this history recorded and traceable in its completeness. It is arranged for us by a divine hand. This divine arrangement defines the doctrine, and adjusts the parts of the history and the elements of the doctrine, and definitely reveals the office and the work assigned to each Divine agent, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

Hence, the historico-doctrinal method as divine has a decided advantage over the dogmatico-doctrinal method. The former is one and exact; the latter is manifold, speculative, and contradictory. In the former, the doctrine and definition are given in the inspired history. In the latter, each writer formulates a definition according to his preconceived philosophic and theological opinions. Wisely, therefore, does Dr. Richards point us to the Scriptures to get their definition in the very terms which record the history. Following this true method, we find that Atonement has its specific terms with their specific significance in the Old Testament and the New, both in the type and the antitype.

We also find that Redemption has its specific terms with their specific significance different from those of Atonement. Another set of terms with another significance is assigned to Reconciliation. These differences are correlated to the different Divine offices and agencies. Following this divine method, we ascertain which is the largest term, Atonement, or Redemption, or Reconciliation, or Satisfaction, and what is the differentia.

We are authorized to read into each term only what it contains, and to read out of it nothing which it contains i for the Scriptures are one, and cannot be broken.

Over against this historical method of inspired Scripture stands the dogmatico-doctrinal method of human speculation. To illustrate the character and utility of the latter we need only recall some of the diverse definitions already noted.

The Atonement, then, according to Scripture, is a work that has been wrought. It is, and for eighteen hundred years has been, a part of actualized history.

Christ hath suffered, “once for all”–”the just for the unjust.” ” He dies no more.” “There remains no more sacrifice for sin.” “He hath overcome, and is set down with the Father in his throne.” (Rev. iii. 21.)

On the other hand, Redemption is now being carried on by the applying agency of the Holy Ghost toward complete salvation, in the experience of each renewed soul and of the whole Church of God, until it shall be presented to him a glorious Church, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing.

The Atonement is all-sufficient, and, in its very nature, unlimited, since the God-man, the suffering Savior, is an infinite sacrifice. Redemption implies regeneration and the other doctrines of grace, actualized in the soul’s experience through the effectual working of the Holy Ghost, and issuing in the soul’s salvation. It must, therefore, in the very nature of the case, be personal anti particular.

The Atonement, according to sacred Scripture, is expiatory–an expiation for sin. But sin is a violation of law (by commission or omission)–the law of God, holy, just, and good. By the very terms, expiation for sin, the Scriptures show that Atonement regards offended justice (God’s justice), inasmuch as it expiates sin against God. Hence, as the terms show, it looks God-ward as well as man-ward. it seeks to propitiate God while it expiates sin.

Especially does it look God-ward, for in vain would it expiate (or cover) human sin if it did not propitiate the divine Sovereign. By this Scriptural, historic method we find these two elements (or phases) in the Atonement,–expiation for the sinner; propitiation of the Sovereign.

This, it should be repeated, is a fundamental requirement of moral law–of righteous moral law expressed by the authority of God and echoed by the voice of Conscience. For Conscience, so far forth as it speaks in imposing moral obligation, echoes the righteous requirement of God. It is a requirement not only of moral law, but of the moral nature, divine and human. Indeed, moral law has authority–has obligation and requirement–because it is the expression of moral nature. Supreme moral law has supreme authority, because it is the expression of a supreme moral Being, the personal and holy God.

Christ’s atoning sacrifice has primary and principal reference to Divine justice; secondary reference to human guilt:

First,–Because God, the Supreme Lawgiver, cannot deny himself nor his law, which is the expression of his own holiness, justice, goodness.

Secondly,–Because only by propitiating Sovereign justice can pardon or remission of sin be secured.

Thirdly,–Because thus only can peace come as an experimental fact (or reality) to the sinner’s guilty conscience.

But this Scriptural (historic) method reveals a third element (or phase) in the Atonement. This, like the others, is not speculative, but actual, as realized in history.

Christ, who offers the Atonement which expiates sin and propitiates offended justice–Christ is not a sinner; but, according to the Scriptures, is “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners.””He was without sin.” While, then, he expiates sin by the sacrifice of himself, he suffers as a substitute for sinners. Indeed, this is not only implied by the Scriptures (as already shown), but is asserted and repeated by the Scriptures: “Christ died for the ungodly.”

“While we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” “Christ died for our sins.” “He died for us that we should live with him.” ” The just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.” Proof passages like these could be multiplied indefinitely.

The Atonement, then. according to the Scriptures, is substitutive as well as expiatory and propitiatory. Actually, Christ became our substitute. This is a fact already inwrought in the history of Redemption.

The Atonement as a reality, involving these three essential elements, is complete. The atoning work is ” finished.” The humiliation and the suffering of Incarnation (in which alone is expiation) have become a part of history, never to be expunged, modified, or repeated. The past is forever secure.

Every point in his careful and comprehensive definition of Christian Theology Dr. Richards closely related to this central, vital fact, -the Atonement as expiatory, propitiatory, substitutive. As do the Scriptures, so it is well for us to reiterate this transcendent fact involving these three essential elements.

It is especially well for us to do this, in these times, when the reality is denied, and the need of expiation and propitiation and substitution is repudiated, as by Socinus (De Servatore, III., i.): “If we could but get rid of this justice, even if we had no other proof, that fiction of Christ’s satisfaction would be thoroughly exposed, and would vanish.”

Or, when the reality is admitted in form, but denied in fact, as when the form appears in phraseology, but disappears in fact from” The Vicarious Sacrifice,” which is not vicarious. So Dr. Bushnell asserts (p. 41): “The substitution of Christ for us offends every strongest sentiment of our nature”; (p. 46): “It would satisfy nothing but the very worst injustice “; (p. 395): “He suffers the curse sinners are justly under . . . . not to satisfy God’s justice, but in a way of comitlg at their consciences and hearts to; (p. 41): ” Simply to bring us out of our sins themselves, and so out of their penalties.”

He says of Expiation (P.496): “I am able, after a most thorough and complete examination of the Scriptures, to affirm with confidence that they exhibit no trace of expiation“; (p. 259): “Justice itself is the reason of polity by which God rules”; (p. 270): “There is no such thing in God, or any other being, as a kind of justice that goes by the law of desert.” Though he formally contradicts this (p. 380): “Justice being, in the administration, a due infliction of such evil (evil in redress of wrong) according to the ill desert of the wrong” (also on pp. 282, 367, and elsewhere); (p. 22): . . . While the–death of Christ makes no essential part of his work, only an incident (p. 131) which would give eloquence and power to his mission, just because, not coming here to die, he would have it put upon him as the cost of his fidelity.”

It were worth the while, although there is no room for it in this article–it were worth while to expose the many disguises in the title and treatment of Dr. Bushnell’s book.

These may, however, be summarily indicated in the chief and comprehensive disguises, viz.: A Vicarious Sacrifice, which is not vicarious; an Atonement, which does not atone; a Redemption, which does not redeem; a Vicarious Sacrifice, which is a mere figure, the invention of a sacrifice faculty in man,–” observing how it was the way of smoke to rise up heavenward” (p. 453), he took the hint, and proceeded to sacrifice; finally, a Supernatural religion or cult us. which, in the last analysis, is merely natural.

“The Cross in the Light of To-day” will only lead to bewilder and dazzle to blind, if the light be merely human, and not divine; if the Cross appear not as it was in the inspired Revelation to Paul and Isaiah–to apostles and prophets.

Whatever may be” the light of to-day,” we should be careful not to follow a false light, lest we pervert the Gospel of Christ; but rather remember evermore the inspired warning: “If any man preach any other Gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be anathema” (Gal. i. 9).

The historic method, which reveals the actual, suffering Savior as a real substitute for sinners, fixes at once the reach of the substitution. The Christ could not expiate our sin unless he were sinless. If he were a sinner, he could not be our substitute. On the other hand, no amount of suffering for us as our substitute (though that suffering have constant relation to violated law) can make him a sinner. The greater suffering would the more clearly demonstrate the sanctity of our substitute.

Our substitute, however he stand in our law-place, is not a sinner. Whatever penalty he suffer, though it be infinite (and therefore more than we, more than all the finite race of finite transgressors can bear). yet it is substituted penalty, not identical. Whatever penalty he suffered, though it were infinite, was only evil endured to sustain the holy law, and not the evil of personal ill-desert. Christ had no personal ill-desert. There was no transfer of sinful character to Christ. We need not stop even to discuss the question whether there could be such a transfer, for from first to last Christ was a sinless sufferer. With no personal ill-desert, no remorse could possibly attach to him.

The suffering, however penal as related to law–however expiatory of human sin–however propitiatory of divine justice, was not the identical penalty, but substituted; not identical, but equivalent, or rather it was more than equivalent in value–abundantly more.

“The sufferings of Christ were of vicarious import,” says Dr. Richards, .. because he suffered in the room of sinners, and bore the indications of Divine wrath for their sakes; but, we cannot subscribe to the opinion that they were strictly vicarious, if by this is meant that the sins of those for whom he suffered, their personal desert and their punishment were literally transferred to him. We maintain the doctrine of substitution, but not such a substitution as implies a transfer of character and consequently of desert and punishment. This we think to be impossible; and unecessary, if not impossible. It was enough that there should be a transfer of sufferings, and these not exactly in kind, degree, or duration, but in all their circumstances amounting to a full equivalent in their moral effect upon the government of God. We hold that Jesus died in the room of the guilty; that though innocent himself, he was made sin for us or treated as a sinner on our account and in our stead; that the Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all; and that he bore our sins in his own body on the tree, by suffering what was a full equivalent to the punishment due to our offences. This, we think, is all the substitution which the Scriptures teach; all that the nature of things will admit; and all that was necessary to effect the same moral ends in the government of God which would have been effected by inflicting on the transgressor the penal sanctions of his law.”

This careful statement we insert the more readily in this recapitulation because it is the statement made by a constant, candid, conservative champion of the Presbyterian Standards; made in accordance with the historico-doctrinal (or Scriptural) view of Redemption; made in vindication of the Scriptures and the Standards against objections felt and expressed toward the pecuniary or commercial theory of substitution. (In our laudable desire to be orthodox, we should guard against injustice toward the Standards by pressing them into apparent conflict with Scripture and common-sense. It is Dr. Shedd, we think, who has said tersely and truthfully,–“To speak of substituting a penalty identically the same would be a solecism.” Be it remembered, then, that throughout the history of Redemption, as the Bible records it, in all the suffering Christ has endured as our substitute he appears sinless, while he “taketh away the sin of the world.”)

While Dr. Richards by this historico-doctrinal statement of Redemption would guard the doctrine against the solecism of identical substitution, or pecuniary (commercial) substitution, he would especially guard it against the laxity of Scotist acceptilation (as if the sacrifice of the God-man were insufficient), and of Grotian relaxation of justice (as if the holy Lawgiver could be unfaithful toward himself and his holy Law), and more especially vindicate it against the invalid but specious objection urged by Socinians under cover of the commercial theory of substitution,–that if the identical penalty has been suffered by the substitute, no pardon is possible-the debt is literally paid: there is nothing to pardon.

This objection, repeated by Channing, and so recently repeated, elaborated, expanded, is rendered nugatory by the just statement of the doctrine as it appears in the history of Redemption.

By this historic method, we do not ask what may be, but what is; not whether there may be substitution, but what is the fact in the history of Redemption? The fact is that” Christ has once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God” (I Peter iii. 18 and other passages indefinitely).

So in regard to expiation; and if expiation, then, also, in regard to propitiation, as we have abundantly shown from the Scriptures. By this historico-doctrinal method (the doctrine incorporated in the history) Rationalistic criticism and objection are at once ruled out as illegitimate and irrelevant.

Nowhere, whether in the natural or the supernatural–in the material or the moral world, do facts ask of speculation leave to be. Facts are, without permission of finite friend or foe. Stubborn as realities, they cannot be set aside by criticism, nor overmastered by theorizing; while they subjugate theories and theorists.

If it be objected, Christ knew that none but his people would be saved, hence he would not have died for others; for he would not thus shed his blood in vain: Dr. Richards’ substantial reply is: But does anyone know that Christ did shed his blood in vain if he died for all? Certainly not. Did he die in vain if he died for all? Was not the Divine justice to be vindicated? And the Divine law to be maintained? And the Divine love to be revealed in providing salvation, free to all? And Divine truthfulness to be verified in offering salvation to all? And mediatorial purposes in grace to be promoted?–so that the Holy Spirit could be sent to reprove the world of sin and righteousness and judgment; and probation be extended to all; and Divine forbearance be exercised toward all,–so that God, the Father (the Divine husbandman) could say: What more could I have done unto my vineyard, that I have not done unto it? and Christ the Judge say: “I have called and ye refused.” “This is the condemnation”; and the Holy Ghost say for all eternity, to the incorrigible, as he has said in time, “Ye do always resist the Holy Ghost”; and, again, Jesus the Judge with supreme authority declare: “All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men; but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven.” To the objection that there is discrepancy in saying that he died “for us”–for “his people”–”he lay down his life for the sheep”; and in also saying that”he died for all,” “he tasted death for every man,” “he is the propitiation for our sins, and not for our sins only, but for the sins of the whole world “–to this objection the reply substantially is: These very things the Scriptures do say. There is, however, not even an apparent discrepancy. He who imagines a discrepancy here would be tormented by the inspired statement: one was healed; at the same time two were healed (and by similar passages). The sincere and attentive Christian, learned or unlearned, is ready with the correct reply: If two were healed, certainly one was; if Christ died for all, certainly he died for his people. This reply should prove corrective, as well as correct. It cannot be hurtful or heterodox to be Scriptural. On the other hand, it will not do to construct our systems in such a manner as to compel us to cast aside clear, cumulative Scripture statements.

We may avoid both discrepancy and confusion by observing the Scriptural distinction between Atonement and Redemption, by remembering that Redemption in its fulness involves more–many more things to be done besides the atoning sacrifice of Christ, which was completed once for all on Calvary; by remembering that the atoning sacrifice even unto death will not avail for any if unapplied. Hence, though ” Christ died for all,” “tasting death for every man,” yet there is needed the applying agency of the Holy Ghost.

The ultimate design of Christ’s death culminates in the salvation of some to etemal life. Hence it includes the application of Redemption by the Holy Ghost. This is a Confessional phrase, and its aptness and propriety are vindicated by Scriptural authority and theological usage. This application was designed in the gracious scheme. This (as already remarked) must in the very nature of the case be personal and particular, and besides, it must be personal and particular, else all, though unregenerate and unrenewed, would be saved by arbitrary fiat of God, or none would be saved, because of the sinful and rebellious choice of man.

This application of Redemption by the Holy Ghost was the crowning condition in the gracious plan of God. it was designed, and designed to make the all-sufficient grace of God effective in the salvation of some to eternal life. This design in Divine perspective would–must, as the foresight of an actuality-run along individual and personal lines.

Thus it would be really definite in the Divine perspective as it is really definite in human retrospect-retraced as an actuality along individual and personal lines, e. g., those who are brought to exercise “repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Such is the history of Redemption as it is realizing itself among sinners in probation. The history is but the actual unfolding of the Divine plan in the Divine order of grace,–antecedents and subsequents, means and ends, conditions and consummations–all, both small and great, being indispensable-some as meritorious and indispensable, others as not meritorious, yet indispensable.

Thus, the Divine plan is unconditional in the sense of the Confession, i. e., unconditioned by anything outside of the Divine plan, but conditioned, also in the true sense of the Confession, as including in the Divine plan all the conditions indispensable to the consummation. As a Divine plan, holy, wise, and good, it includes (as indispensable) conditions, holy, wise, and good.

Among these, as we have just seen, is the applying agency of the Holy Spirit as the crowning condition in the gracious plan of Redemption. The doctrine, as taught in the Scriptures and formulated in our Standards, lies imbedded in the history of Redemption, not as a philosophic abstraction, or even an inspired ideal, but as a fact vital and veritable.

In accordance with Scripture, it is evident that those who believe and repent are saved, i. e., those. only, who (consistent with the most wise and holy counsel of God’s will) are brought to exercise these saving graces, secure the benefits of Redemption. Redemption is a reality, completed only when body, soul, and spirit are rescued from the condemnation and the power of sin, and in lasting reunion are saved in heaven.

The actuality is purchased for those (or conferred upon those) who are graciously brought to meet the conditions. To those it is applied, not without means, but by the gracious means ordained–the only moral means which are appropriate or can be successful in the case of sinners, viz., Repentance and Faith. And these are means which the soul itself must finally use (for the sinner himself must believe and repent. They are his acts and not another’s. They cannot be done by proxy–not even by the Holy Ghost in the sinner’s stead). Hence the delicacy and difficulty of the task to reconcile and save the sinful soul. He must be brought to this, freely and by his own consent; by persuasion, not by violence (see Conf., X., I). The spiritual influence is in accord with man’s moral nature, not in violation of it (see Conf., III., I). As thus graciously, divinely wrought, it is effectual. We need not say it is irresistible. (The word is misleading.) We need not say this in order to be orthodox. We need not say this in order to be Scriptural. The Scriptures even say of some: “Ye do always resist the Holy Ghost; as your fathers did, so do ye.” ” Wherefore I was grieved with that generation.” “So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.” “Of how much sorer punishment . . . . shall he be thought worthy who hath trodden underfoot the Son of God . . . . and hath done despite unto the Spirit of Grace” (Heb. x. 29; iii. 10, 19; Acts vii .. 51).

The conclusion of Dr. Richards is: “There is nothing in the way of the sinner’s salvation but the stubborn and rebellious heart. There is an inability which consists not in the want of natural powers, but in the want of right dispositions” (or use of those natural powers)–”An inability which is moral; which does not in the least excuse the subject of it, but which forms the very essence of his sin.” Its language is as in Luke xix. 14: .. We will not have this man to reign over us.” The Divine declaration is: “Ye will not come to me that ye might have light.”–”This is the condemnation” a John v. 40; iii. 19; see Lecture No. XXII.).


Since forwarding my manuscript to the printer, there has come into my hands a volume just is.issued by the publishing house of Messrs. Armstrong & Son, New York.

This book, on .. The System of Christian Theology,” is from the pen of the late Dr. Henry B. Smith, Professor of Theology in Union Theological Seminary, New York. Dr. Smith did his great work in the generation immediately succeeding that of Dr. Richards. By common consent of all evangelical Christians, Dr. Henry B. Smith stood in the foremost rank as a scholarly, profound, independent thinker, and as an orthodox, Christian, theological Professor.

In this noteworthy volume which has just reached me in time to supplement my manuscript with but too brief a reference, I find these words: “REDEMPTION implies the complete deliverance from the penalty, power, and all the consequences of Sin; ATONEMENT is used in the sense of the sacrificial work, whereby the redemption from the condemning power of the law was insured.”

RECONCILIATION sets forth what is to be. done ; “ATONEMENT, in its current theological sense, involves the idea of the way, the mode in which the reconciliation is effected-that is, by a Sacrifice for Sin” (p. 437 “System of Christian Theology.”) And again, ” The distinction is to be made between Atonement and. Redemption. Atonement is the provision” (Ibid., p. 478). In his fragmentary but significant way, Dr. Smith goes on to say in regard to a general Atonement:

“The Atonement made by Christ is made for all mankind, is such in nature and design, that God can save all men, consistently with the demands of holiness, on condition of faith and repentance. The design of the Atonement was to save the elect, but not merely to save them” (that is, not this merely); “it was also designed to impart some blessings to the whole world, and to make the duty of accepting Christ urgent upon all who hear.” “Not that it was actually designed to be tip/lied to all, but to some.” . . . .”The Atonement as such does not save any” (Ibid., p. 479.)


Source: Ransom B. Welch, “Rev. Dr. James Richards and his Theology.–II,” The Presbyterian Review 5 (1884) : 401-442.    [Some reformatting; some spelling modernized; footnote values modernized; and underlining mine.]

1See Lectures by James Richards, D.D., with a Memoir. 1846 Edited by S. H. Gridley, D.D.

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