Feb 19, 2011

William Rushton on "An Atonement sufficient for the salvation of the whole world"

"...we must either acknowledge an objective fullness in Christ’s atonement sufficient for the salvation of the whole world, were the whole world to believe in him..." -Andrew Fuller

Rushton's responds:

"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!

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."

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