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).

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 fullness 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….

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….

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.

Ransom B. Welch, “Rev. Dr. James Richards and his Theology.–II,” The Presbyterian Review 5 (1884) : 415-417, 421-422, and 433-434.  [Some reformatting; some spelling modernized; and underlining mine.]

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