The cross respects men as sinners; it addresses them as sinners. In its boundless all-sufficiency, it has no concern with them in a numerical view; but regards them as those whose relations to the law of God are so changed by this effective propitiation, that all external obstacles to their salvation are graciously removed. No matter who he is, or where he dwells; no matter what his ignorance, or how many or how aggravated his sins; if he belongs to the lost family of man, the Cross is the remedy fitted to reach him in all his woes. There is no locality, or condition, and no variety of the human species, to which the narrative of the Cross, and its great and glorious truths, and its ineffable love and mercy, are not alike applicable. They furnish the great remedy which consults the guild and misery of all classes of society, all periods of time, all climes, all nations, all languages, all men. They are equally fitted to the lost condition of one man, as another. They are sufficient for the race, and, so far as their unembarrassed sufficiency goes, were designed for the race. There is no man whose forgiveness the Cross of Christ does not render just and righteous, on his repenting and believing the Gospel. In this view, the Cross is a deliberate, designed and honest provision for all men; a privilege of which many may be ignorant, and many fail to improve, but one which, wherever the Gospel is known, is as truly in the hands of those who misimprove it and perish, as of those who improve it and are saved.

The proof of these remarks from the Scriptures is abundant, and familiar to every reader of the Bible. “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.” “Whosoever will let him take the waters of life freely.” “Ho! every one that thirsts, come ye to the waters.” These, and a multitude of passages of similar import, are expressly addressed to all men, and from design. If it be said, that in commissioned messages like these, God requires the ministers of the Gospel to make this indiscriminate offer of salvation, because they do not know who will accept them, and because it is not their province to distinguish between those who are and those who are not his chosen people; it must be born in mind that the offer is God’s own offer, and that his ministers make it only in his name. He endorses it, and speaks through them. He knows who his chosen people are; and the gracious overture is made by his authority and on his behalf. “Warn them from me.” “Speak to them my words.” “As though God did beseech you by us, we pray you, in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” We wish to vindicate the unfeigned sincerity of the Gospel offer, and we do not perceive how it can be vindicated, unless he is willing his offer should be accepted; and unless the offer be made on reasonable terms. He offers to all men salvation, through faith in the blood of his Son. This he is able and has a right to do, because there is infinite sufficiency in the death of Christ. This he is willing to do, or he would not offer it, nor so solemnly have sworn, “As I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that he turn and live.” And the terms on which the offer is made are as reasonable and as low as they can be; for nothing excludes any man from the richest blessings of the Gospel, but his own cherished rejection of them to the last. I cannot see that it is necessary to the sincerity of the offer, that God should make men themselves willing to accept it. There may be, there are, good reasons for his not doing this, in relation to all those who are finally lost, which do not at all conflict with the sincerity of the offer. The offer he makes is in every view expressive of his own mind and heart, of the infinite merit of his Son, and of the munificence of his condescending grace. Upon this same ground, the obligation rests on all who come within the range of these published invitations to accept them. The obligation is of the highest authority, and right in itself. It is the “commandment of the Everlasting God,” to all men, everywhere. It is an obligation, the neglect of which is not only rebuked and punished, but the sin of sins, and one which, while it cuts off the incorrigible from hope, seals him up to that “sorer punishment” of which those are thought worthy who tread under their feet the blood of the Son of God. The foundation which is laid in Zion is, therefore, strong and broad enough to sustain the confidence which is required with so much authority, and enforced with such solemn and affecting sanctions.

There are not a few passages of Scripture which seem to me to give strong proof of this conclusion. “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son;”–He is the “propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole world;”—”Who gave himself a ransom for all to be testified in due time;”—”The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world;”–”Christ the Savior of the world;”–“The bread of God is he that gives life unto the world;”–”My flesh which I gave for the life of the world;”–”If one died for all, then were all dead;”–”That he, by the grace of God, should taste death for every man.” Passages like these must teach either that it was the design of God, by the death of his Son, to save all men, which none but the rashest Universalist believes; or that his Son was set forth to be such a propitiation as is amply sufficient for the salvation of all mankind, if all should repent and believe the Gospel.

If the question be asked, what good ends the death of Christ secures by this redundancy of merit, since it is not designed to secure the salvation of the race; the inquiry is substantially answered by the general scope and design of the preceding remarks. Is it nothing that it unfolds the love of God to a lost world; that it throws upon men themselves the responsibility of plunging into the pit from this world of mercy, and in defiance of all the Cross has done; that it leaves the despisers of his grace without excuse and speechless; and that for the honor of the just God and Savior, it plants in their bosoms the soul-withering conviction, that because they would not come unto Christ that they might have life, they are the authors of their own destruction? Who shall tell the influence which the scenes of Calvary have exerted, and will yet exert, even where they fail to be the “wisdom of God and the power of God to salvation?” Is there not a vastly less amount of wickedness in this lower world, even among those who will finally perish, from the very fact that it is a world of hope and mercy, and under the government of the great Mediatorial Prince? Is there no development of character, that is of importance to the interests of his kingdom, which would otherwise never have been made? I do not know where to limit the effects of this mighty movement in the divine empire. The appeal is one to human ignorance; but it is not a solitary one, in the government of God. Why does the light shine upon the eyes of the blind, or melodious sounds play around the ears of the deaf? There is no more reason to believe that the privilege of a preached Gospel, of an instructive and inviting sanctuary, of a Christian education, of private or social prayer, of advancement in any department of human science, or any other privilege, spiritual or temporal, were in vain given to those who never improve them, than that Christ died in vain in respect to those who reject his salvation. All these things answer important ends even where they are most perverted and abused. For the same reasons that “a price is put into the hands of a fool to get wisdom when he hath no heart to it,” so the provisions of the Cross possess a sufficiency, an amplitude as large as the sins and woes of men, through not accepted by all.

Gardiner Spring, The Attraction of the Cross; Designed to Illustrate the Leading Truths, Obligations and Hopes of Christianity, 9th ed. (New York: Published by M. W. Dodd, 1854), 93–98.

Credit to Tony for the find.

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