`To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them,' 2 Cor v 19. This text, from its sound, has been taken to deny the personal divinity of Christ; but it was never intended to express the personal constitution of Christ, so much as it is the nature, order, economy and design of the incarnate life, deeds, and death of our Lord Jesus Christ. For when Jesus as mediator moved in obedience, worth and merit, the Triune God moved in design. And what was that design? Reconciliation! Of whom? The world; Gentiles of all nations, and Jews of all ranks. How? `Not imputing,' charging or reckoning `their trespasses unto them.' `Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin,' Rom iv 8. So that as far as God hath and doth reconcile, so far he imputeth not sin; and so far blessed is the man, the men, or the people to whom the Lord will not impute sin. And, consequently, if reconciliation were individually universal, nonimputation of sin must be so too, and then blessedness must be individually universal accordingly, without fail; but neither the word of God, nor the face of things by the operations of the hand of God, have ever borne any testimony to such universality of grace, either in purpose, thought, word or deed.
The word reconciliation, in scripture truth, has evidently three branches of application. First, legal, as by the meritorious blood-shed and perfect righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ, whereby justice is satisfied, the law is magnified, all righteousness is fulfilled, and the insulted honours of God's holiness are vindicated and established for ever in behalf of the ransomed. Second, personal, whereby the redeemed, by virtue of the work and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, for them in the first point, are, by the power of the Holy Ghost, brought personally into vital heart and soul reconciliation and agreement with God, on the endearing plan of grace in Christ Jesus, for their eternal life. Third, practical, whereby the man of God, and the church of God, confess and acknowledge the righteous government, works and ways of the Lord, and bow to his commands and ordinances, in obedience acquiescence and active agreement with all his revealed will, declared for the order and observance of is church, and his saints' personal and social obedience in faith and love; and to which the apostle exhorted and besought the confused and disordered church of Christ at Corinth, 2 Cor v 20. Now duty faith and universal invitation men, to make things to look to agree with their generalizing scheme, turn the first of these three points into something of an indefinite provision; and then chiefly deny the true nature of the second, and the effective power of God alone therein; and then put the third in the place of the second, and then make out the apostle, not to be, by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, exhorting and beseeching the church to order and consistency among themselves, as becometh saints, but to be exhorting and beseeching the whole world of ungodly men to be reconciled to God, on the authority of a something of universal provision supposed to be in the first point. It certainly is to me a most strange and unaccountable thing, that in Paul's writing to the church as he does at verse 20, for reasons so plain and self evident through both epistles, any man living and professing `the wisdom of the just,' should take him to be exhorting and beseeching the ungodly world to be reconciled to God, while in his real and direct addresses to the world, in different places and under various circumstances, not one word or breath of the kind is anywhere to be found expressed or implied; and surely if he had ever meant any such thing, when writing to the church behind the world's back, he would, at some time, and in some way, have declared it to the world, when speaking to their face.