Feb 6, 2010

A Defense of Particular Redemption [The Atonement of Christ and Andrew Fuller] by William Rushton

A Defense of Particular Redemption [The Atonement of Christ and Andrew Fuller] by William Rushton

[Below is a small portion from the book] You can download the PDF HERE.

If, as we have already seen, there be no particularity in the
atonement of Christ itself, but only in the sovereign purpose of God to render it effectual to some, rather than others; then it follows necessarily, that there is not any thing in the atonement itself which infallibly ascertains its application to any man. Mr. Fuller has not shown what there is in the atonement to secure its application to those for whom it was intended, and in this he acted wisely. For on the supposition of indefinite redemption, it is impossible to show any necessary connection between the atonement and the application of it; because its application whether to an individual only, or to the whole world, will arise not from any thing in the atonement itself, but solely from the purpose or decree of God. If, therefore, the indefinite scheme be correct, there cannot be anything in the atonement itself which infallibly ascertains its application to any of the human race.

2. But admitting that the extracts assert, namely, that there is something in the atonement which infallibly ascertains its application to all for whom it was intended; then it will follow that the salvation of one individual only, is a thing impossible, seeing that the atonement secures the salvation of many. In other words, it will follow that the salvation of an individual, or of a world, does notdepend only on the sovereign purpose of God, as Mr. Fuller affirms.

3. But further absurdities will be discovered if we inquire into the nature of that sufficiency which Mr. Fuller ascribes to the atonement. It is sufficient, he affirms, for all mankind—intended only for the elect. Now the fallacy of this will appear, if we attend to one simple truth; namely, that the Scriptures always ascribe the salvation of a sinner, not to any abstract sufficiency, but to the vicarious nature of the death of Christ. The atonement, therefore, is in no sense sufficient for a man, unless Jesus died for that man. Justice requires that the satisfaction be vicarious; so that the sufficiency of the atonement arises from this very thing, that Christ died in our stead. To this the Scripture always traces our salvation. "For God hath not appointed us to wrath but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ WHO DIED FOR US." I conclude, therefore, that it is much less absurd to affirm with the Arminians, that Christ died for all mankind than to maintain with Mr. Fuller, that the atonement is sufficient for the salvation of those for whom it was not intended, and for whom the Saviour did not die.

If the nature of that sufficiency for all men, which Mr. Fuller ascribes to the atonement, be further sifted, it will appear to be nothing more than a conditional sufficiency, such as the Arminians attribute to their universal redemption. "There is," says Mr. Fuller, "such a fulness in the satisfaction of Christ, as is sufficient for the salvation of the whole world, were the whole world to believe in him." The atonement then, is sufficient for the whole world, conditionally—that is, if the whole world were to believe. The condition, however, is not so easily performed. Many professors speak of faith in Christ as comparatively an easy matter, and as though it were within the sinner’s power; but the Scriptures teach a different thing. They represent man by nature as spiritually bound with chains, shut up in darkness, and in a prison house. To this view, Mr. Fuller’s conditional sufficiency of the atonement stands opposed, as may be illustrated in the following manner. A wealthy and philanthropic individual visits Algiers, and approaches a dungeon in which a wretched captive lies bound with chains and fetters, and strongly secured within walls and doors, and bars. He proclaims aloud to the captive that he has brought gold sufficient for a ransom, on condition that the captive will liberate himself from his chains, burst open his prison doors, and come forth. Alas! exclaims the wretched man, your kindness does not reach my case. Unless your gold can EFFECT my deliverance, it can be of no service to me. The offer of it on such terms can do me no good. Now, although there is a great difference between spiritual and physical inability, yet one serves to illustrate the other. Man by nature is spiritually as unable to believe in Christ, as the Algerine captive is physically unable to break his chains and the prison doors; so that all this boasted sufficiency of the atonement is only an empty offer of salvation on certain terms and condition; and such an atonement is much too weak to meet the desperate case of a lost sinner.

But how different is the salvation of God! "By the blood of thy covenant, I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water."—Zech. ix. 11. Jesus, by his death, hath paid the ransom, and made the captives his own. Therefore he has a legal right to their persons, and with his own right arm he brings them forth. It is his glory "to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house." –Isa. xlii. 6, 7.

It has just been asserted that the sufficiency which Mr. Fuller attributes to the atonement, is the same which the Arminians ascribe to their universal redemption. Whatever difference exists between him and them on other points, on redemption there is only a verbal variation. When Mr. Fuller asserts that the atonement of Christ is sufficient for all mankind, he does not mean that Christ so died for all mankind as to render their salvation certain: he only means that the atonement is sufficient for their salvation conditionally—that is, if they will believe. Dr. Whitby, the champion of Arminanism, explains his doctrine thus: "When we say that Christ died for all, we do not mean that he died for all, or any absolutely, or without any conditions to be performed on their part, to interest them in the blessings of his passion; but only that he died for all conditionally, or so that they should be made partakers of the blessings of his salutary passion, upon condition of their faith, repentance, &c." Here we find no essential difference between Mr. Fuller and Dr. Whitby on the atonement of Christ; the only difference between them relates to the purpose of God in reference to its application. Both agree in regarding the death of Christ as conditionally sufficient for all mankind; but the Doctor denies that the purpose of God ascertains the application of the atonement to any man; and in this respect he is more consistent with himself than Mr. Fuller. The coincidence of indefinite redemption with the Arminian scheme, may be further confirmed by comparing Mr. Fuller’s words with another quotation from the acute and learned Whitby.

Mr. Fuller defines reconciliation to be a "satisfaction of divine justice, by virtue of which nothing pertaining to the moral government of God, hinders any sinner from returning to him; and it is upon this ground that sinners are indefinitely invited to do so." He considers the atonement "as a divine extraordinary expedient for the exercise of mercy consistently with justice, and that is in itself equally adapted to save the world as an individual, provided a world believed in it." Now, let us hear the Doctor express the very same sentiments in other words: "He (that is, Christ) only by his death hath put all men in a capacity of being justified and pardoned, and so of being reconciled to, and having peace with God, upon their turning to God, and having faith in our Lord Jesus Christ: the death of Christ having rendered it consistent with the justice and wisdom of God, with the honor of his majesty, and with the ends of government, to pardon the penitent believer." Would to God that Mr. Fuller had been found in better company!

4. If it be necessary to pursue this "yea and nay" system still further, it is only to disclose more inconsistencies and more absurdities. If, as Mr. Fuller allows, Christ intended that only some should be benefited by his death, then he accomplished his intention according to particular redemption, by paving their ransom only. It is absurd to represent Christ as paying a ransom sufficient for all, when he intended only to redeem some! Or to affirm that Christ is a sufficient Saviour of those whom he never intended to save!

Whenever the Scriptures speak of the sufficiency of redemption, they always place it in the certain efficacy of redemption. The atonement of Christ is sufficient because it is absolutely efficacious, and because it carries salvation to all for whom it was made. It is sufficient, not because it affords men the possibility of salvation but because, with invincible power, it accomplishes their salvation. Hence the word of God never represents the sufficiency of the atonement as more extensive than the design of the atonement, which Mr. Fuller has done. The Scriptures know nothing of a sufficient redemption which leaves the captive to perish in slavery, nor of a sufficient atonement which never delivers the guilty; but they speak of a redemption every way sufficient and efficacious—a redemption which cannot be frustrated, but which triumphantly accomplishes the salvation of all its objects. "Let Israel hope in the Lord; for with the Lord there is mercy, and with him plenteous redemption. And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities." Ps. cxxx. 7, 8.

[You will find the next quote further in the book]

The doctrine of indefinite redemption is greatly injurious to the comforts and joys of believers.

1. The notion that the death of Christ is conditionally sufficient for all mankind, that is if all mankind were to believe in it, leads the sinner at once to the performance of some duty which he imagines will give efficacy to the death of Christ and render it available to him. By this means he is lead to draw comfort from his duties instead of the finished salvation of Christ. This error is the fruitful cause of the disquieting fears and legal bondage of many professors. They are constantly in fear lest they have not performed the requisite condition and, after much toiling, their uneasy spirits are as far from rest as ever, and again they utter the old complaint, "What lack I yet?" They have no notion that the alone work of Christ made manifest to the heart by the Holy Spirit, is sufficient to give joy unspeakable without the performance of some duty on their part, and therefore they are in constant perplexity lest this important duty should not have been performed. "I find," said Mr. Owen Stockton, "that though in my judgment and profession, I acknowledge Christ to be my righteousness and peace, yet I have secretly gone about to establish my own righteousness and have derived my comfort and peace from my own actings. For when I have been disquieted by the actings of sin, not God speaking peace through the blood of Christ, but the intermission of temptation and the cessation of those sins have restored me to my former peace. When I have been troubled at the evil frame of my heart, not the righteousness of Christ, but my feeling of a better temper hath been my consolation. I have prayed against, and resolved against sin, striven with sin, and avoided occasions of sin; all which a natural man may do. But how to fetch power from the death of Christ, how to believe in God for the subdueing of sin, and how to do it by the Spirit, have been mysteries to me."

In this state of bondage are many precious souls detained because they cannot see the absolute perfection of the work of Christ. They allow that Christ has done a great deal for sinners, but something they imagine must be done on our part to render his blood available; and that something not being able to satisfy divine justice and being too weak to purge their guilty conscience, they are disquieted. But when the soul is driven from every other refuge to trust in Christ alone then it finds rest. It no more asks, "What lack I yet?" knowing that the law is magnified, justice satisfied, and God the Father well pleased in his beloved Son: "for we who do believe have entered into rest." [Heb. iv. 3.] "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned." [Isaiah xl. 1, 2.]

2. The knowledge which believers have that Christ died in their stead, and gave himself particularly for them, is full of the sweetest consolation to their ransomed spirits. Who can describe the inward peace which fortified the mind of the Psalmist, when he uttered those memorable words, "My lips shall greatly rejoice when I sing unto thee; and my soul which thou hast redeemed?" Ps. lxxi. 23. Or can we express the comfort which is poured into the heart of an afflicted saint, when the Holy Spirit brings powerfully to his mind such a precious promise as this? "But now, thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel; Fear not, for I have redeemed thee—thou art mine. [Isaiah xliii. 1.] No small part of the consolation comprehended in such promises arises from distinguishing love and special redemption. But if Christ died for sin abstractedly, he died no more for one man than another, and the comfort derived from particular redemption is vain.

3. A spiritual conviction of union to Jesus, in his death, resurrection, and exaltation, is essential to a believer’s joy. The comfort of a saint is, that he is dead judicially with Christ. He rejoices in this, that Jesus is alive from the dead to die no more, having made an end of sin, and as the sins of his people are no more found upon him death hath no dominion over him, but he lives evermore unto God. Now, the Spirit assures a believer’s heart that Christ and he are one. A saint, through the Spirit, reckons himself to be "dead indeed, unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord." He is crucified with Christ, dead with Christ, risen with Christ, and exalted to sit in heavenly places in Christ, and all this is the spring of his joy. "Your spirits," says the holy Mr. Walter Cradock, "will never be heightened and raised to live the life of Paul by beholding any thing that is in you personally in your possession, but what you are by relation and marriage to Christ. Reckon yourselves dead with Christ; and so conceive, I am a just man; I was bound once to the law of God, a terrible law; and there are thousands in hell paying the debt, and cannot pay it; and yet I have payed every farthing, and the law cannot ask me more. I have offered a perfect righteousness to God; and I am now sitting at God’s right hand in heaven, by my union with Jesus Christ." (W. Cradock’s works, page 25.) Another of the precious sons of Zion thus expresses his faith in a living Redeemer, and exercises the confidence of his ransomed spirit. Referring to the cross of Christ, he says,

"My full receipt may there be view’d,
Graven with iron pens and blood,
In Jesus’ hands and side;
I’m safe, O death, O law, and sin,
Ye cannot bring me guilty in,
For Christ was crucified."—CENNICK

In this manner do believers joy in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom they have received the atonement. But all this proceeds on the supposition of union to Jesus, when he died and when he rose again; but no such union existed between Christ and any of Adam’s race if the indefinite scheme be true.

4. The covenant interest which God has in his people and they have in him, is a fruitful source of consolation to the saints. It constitutes the grand promise of the new covenant: "I will be their God, and they shall be my people;" and it is the bulwark of their security: "Fear not: for I am with thee, be not dismayed, for I am thy God." An afflicted saint possesses a peace which passeth all understanding when the Holy Ghost enables him to say, "The Lord is my God." This dries his tears, brightens his countenance and cheers his mournful heart. It comprehends all he can desire in time and to eternity. "They shall call on my name, and I will hear them; I have said, It is my people, and they shall say, Jehovah is my God." [Zech. xiii. 9.]

But the advocates of indefinite and universal redemption seem not to acknowledge this covenant union. They believe that God has a peculiar regard for pious people, but as for that conjugal covenant relationship, which flows from electing love and everlasting kindness, they know nothing of it. This federal connection arises out of discriminating love and is consistent only with special redemption, because all the blessings of the everlasting covenant are ratified by that blood which was shed for many.

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