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from which we have deviated. Dr Wardlaw,' says he, "again appears on the arena of controversy, a place to which he is far from being unaccustomed. Already has he fought with wild beasts at Ephesus; and if he is not the ablest at wielding the heavier weapons, we know of none more dexterous at throwing the rete or brandishing the scutum. What is deficient in muscular power is made up in agility. His eye is quick, and he is at all times so much on his guard against any thrust that may be made at him, that he may be said to resemble certain gladiators who belonged to the emperor Claudius, and who, as Pliny informs us, possessed the faculty of not winking, and were, on that account, deemed invincible.'
Indep. I am not at all certain whether Dr Wardlaw maintains that the necessity of the atonement was caused by a regard to the welfare of the universe.
Orig. Sec. In his recent work on the atonement he denies that Christ satisfied vindictive justice, and asserts that “it is the spirit of selfishness, and of selfishness of the worst description-malignant selfishness. It cannot, at all events, have any place in the government of God; and pity it is that in any mind there should ever, from the mere want of reflection, be the most distant approximation to such an idea of justice, as subsisting in the character and exercised in the administration of the universal Ruler.' This shows, beyond all doubt, that he does not believe that the atonement was rendered necessary by the essential holiness of the divine nature, for this is what all protestant divines have understood by vindictive justice.
Indep. Do you then believe in such an odious thing as vindictive justice
Orig. Sec. As explained by protestant divines, not as distorted by Dr Wardlaw. I believe in it as a vital article of all religion, natural and revealed. Even the light of nature taught the barbarians of Melita to say, 'No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, vengeance suffereth not to live.'
Indep. You are surely badly off when you appeal to the feelings of barbarians and benighted heathens.
Orig. Sec. But it is also written, “The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth vengeance.'
Indep. May not this be some residue of imperfection adhering to the righteous in this world, of which they shall be delivered in the world to come?
Orig. Sec. The same feeling exists in heaven as well as on the earth: And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: for true and righteous are his judgments; for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand. And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever.'
Indep. I have no relish for views of that kind. I love to think of God as a God of mercy and love.
Orig. Sec. Beware of adopting those ideas that are so prevalent
among that class of raving philanthropists who dwell upon the borderland between christianity and infidelity, and who have been entertaining the world, for some time back, with their dreams and visions, as if the dream was still prophetical, and as if God still continued to reveal his mind, in trances, to our modern Balaams, after he has withdrawn all supernatural communications from his church. These persons do not know the scriptural character of God, or they never would venture to speak as they have done. They talk about love and mercy; but mercy is not the only attribute of God. The character of God is one in which 'mercy and truth meet together, righteousness and peace mutually embrace each other. If you open your Bible, you will there learn that Jehovah is as terrible as he is tender; that while he keepeth covenant and mercy, he is THE GREAT AND DREADFUL GOD. In particular, you will learn, both from the Old and the New Testament, that vengeance is the special prerogative of God, in which no creature is permitted to share. *Vengeance is mine; I will recompense, saith the Lord.' 'O Lord God, to whom vengeance belongeth ; O God, to whom vengeance belongeth, show yself.' “God is jealous, and the Lord vengeth; the Lord revengeth, and is furious; the Lord will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies. To these, and numerous other passages of scripture, Dr Wardlaw might object much more strongly than he does to the doctrine of vindictive justice, as taught by all protestant divines.
Indep. But these words are used in a good sense.
Orig. Sec. And it is not to Dr Wardlaw's credit, either as a scholar or as a divine, if he do not know that vindictive justice, both as to derivation and as to current use, excludes the idea of personal revenge. It is, as all scholars know, a contraction for vindicative; and most of our divines have been careful, for the sake of the weak and prejudiced, to give due notice that it ought to be written in that manner, There was a time when Dr Wardlaw could use the words with as much freedom as any of us. • In inflicting the sentence against transgression on the voluntary surety,' said he at an early period of his authorship, Jehovah, while he clears the sinner, does not clear his sins; although clothed with the THUNDERS OF VINDICTIVE JUSTICE against transgressions, he wears to the transgressor the smile of reconciliation and peace; he dispenses the blessings of mercy from the throne of his holiness; and while exercising grace to the guilty, he appears in the character equally lovely and venerable-of
the sinner's friend,
And sin's eternal foe!' (Dr Wardlaw's Discourses on the Principal Points of the Socinian Controversy, p. 150.) Thus, the time was when Dr Wardlaw believed in such a thing as vindictive justice, and at that time he explained it in the same manner as it has been done by all Calvinistic divines, and was careful in showing that it did not involve any idea of passion or turbulence.. In the same volume from which the above extract is taken, p. 149, we find it thus written, 'He hates sin: not as possessing any power to affect his own infinite, independent, and unchangeable happiness and glory; but he hates sin as contrary to his holy nature-hiding his glory from the eyes of his intelligent creatures; and, in proportion to the extent of its prevalence, tending to the destruction of the order and happiness of the universe. When we speak of hatred as existing in the Infinite, we ought to beware of associating with it any idea of passion or turbulent emotion. But to make it a question whether God be displeased with sin and with sinners, is to confound good and evil together-to divest the human mind of all its salutary fears of judgment to come, and to dispute the propriety of God's own language on this momentous subject.' Here is a definition of vindictive justice, in the sense in which it has been held by all protestant divines; and when Dr Wardlaw now rejects vindictive justice altogether, he must, according to the common usage of words, be held as rejecting the doctrine that God punishes sin from necessity of nature, which is the meaning that has always been attached to that phrase. Here, then, is the point at which the two systems first deviate from one another. The one maintains that the necessity of the atonement arose from the essential justice of the divine nature, the other that it arose from a regard to the welfare of the universe.
Indep. It does not appear to me that the distinction is at all important.
Orig. Sec. It is so important that it involves the whole points in controversy. If satisfaction was rendered necessary by the essential justice of the divine nature, then it is clear as day to every human being with the slightest sense of morality in his bosom, that the atonement, as to its nature, must have consisted in rendering true and proper, complete and perfect satisfaction to the claims of this justice; and that, as to its extent, it must be limited to those who are actually reconciled to God. But if the atonement was rendered necessary merely by a regard to the welfare of the universe, then it is a mere state expedient, designed for governmental purposes, which originated in wisdom, and not in justice, and which lays God under no obligation to pardon the sins of any for whom such a satisfaction has been rendered. If it be a satisfaction rendered to justice, then justice cannot bend nor deviate, but must refuse to inflict punishment on those for whom it has been satisfied; but if the atonement was a mere governmental expedient, then God is under no obligation whatever from justice to pardon one for whom it was offered. Thus, the whole question turns on this point, whether the atonement was rendered necessary by the essential justice of the divine character, or merely by wisdom, as regulating the divine government, with a view to the welfare of the universe.
Indep. Allowing that the matter is as important as you represent it to be, it does not appear by any means to be clear that Dr Wardlaw holds views about the necessity of the atonement different from those maintained by you.
Orig. Sec. It is not by any means easy to ascertain his meaning if we confine ourselves to isolated expressions; for he uses the language descriptive of the old view still more frequently than he uses the appropriate language of the new view. But when we consider the scope of his reasoning, and the design of his book, it is perfectly obvious that, while he frequently uses the words of the old theology, he
has renounced its ideas on the subject. We need no other proof of this than the fact that he maintains that Christ satisfied public justice.
Indep. Even this is by no means very clear. I never fairly understood what is meant by public justice. Dr Wardlaw should have explained himself a little more fully.
Orig. Sec. This is the point at which all the champions of the new theology have failed. Public justice is their stronghold, and yet they cannot tell us what it is. They do not even attempt to prove to us that such a thing exists. They give an ambiguous definition, and then hurry away instinctively, that their readers may not see the quagmire on which their whole edifice is built. «Public justice,' says Dr Wardlaw, 'includes those great essential principles of equity, according to which, in indissoluble union with benevolence, the Sovereign Ruler governs the intelligent universe; those principles which bear relation to the great general end of all government, the public good; and of which the firm and consistent maintenance, in their full measure of recognition and respect, and in their full weight of influence, is indispensable to the well-being of every country.'
Indep. And what can you possibly object to that?
Orig. Sec. I have three things to object to it, which are very often found united together in Dr Wardlaw's work on the atonement. As a definition it is most ambiguous, and it is a specimen of unsound theology, based on bad metaphysics. The definition is so ambiguous that it would be difficult to say any thing very decided about it, except that it is not clear. The metaphysics are bad; for he makes the public good to be
l the end of a certain species of justice, whereas every one knows that good, whether public or private, is the province of wisdom, whereas right is the province of justice, which it must follow at all seasons, whatever may betide communities or individuals. It is unsound theology; for it makes the atonement to originate in wisdom, and not in justice, and thus converts it into an expedient that opened the door of mercy to all, but did not secure salvation to any; an opinion that cannot be maintained on any solid ground, which involves principles subversive of all evangelical doctrine, and which pours Egyptian darkness on the principles of natural and revealed religion, in regard to the blessed character of God.
Indep. This, I suspect, is another of your exaggerated statements. Let us hear how you consider this doctrine to affect the character of God.
Orig. Sec. It robs God of his essential holiness and justice, inasmuch as by denying that Christ satisfied justice, in the proper sense of that term, it must imply that there is nothing in God's nature to prevent him from pardoning sin—the sole obstacle to this being the good of the universe. This doctrine robs God of his independent sovereignty. It subordinates him to the universe. His own nature is such that he would not punish sin, but he is shut up to this as an expedient to retain his subjects under his dominion. This doctrine makes God unjust. From this charge the maintainers of Dr Wardlaw's theory cannot escape. If they evade it on the right hand, they fall into it on the left hand. Let them take either alternative they
choose. As Christ had no sin of his own, if he had no sin imputed to him, if he did not stand in the exact room and stead of sinners, then it would be blasphemy to suppose that Jehovah, in order to answer the best ends, could possibly have punished him. Neither in time nor eternity, neither in the creature nor in the Creator, will the greatest good justify the slightest wrong as the means of its attainment. It would have been unjust in God to have punished Christ indefinitely, that is, without a view to the sins of particular persons, as the cause of his sufferings. But if, on the other hand, the sins of men were imputed to Christ-if he actually stood in their place, and bore what was due to their sins-if he did this for all men, then there is the grossest injustice done by God, if all men are not saved. Either the sufferings of Christ were unjust-were contrary to all law-or it is unjust that one for whom Christ died be punished over again.
Indep. But surely you admit that it gives a far more benign view of the divine goodness, to suppose that he has opened up a door of mercy to all his creatures.
Orig. Sec. It gives rather the most horrible and appalling view of God that ever was given. It asperses and blasphemes his goodness. According to the new theology, there is nothing in God's own nature, nothing in his holiness, nothing in his justice, nothing in his law, nothing in the state of the universe, to prevent him from extending mercy to all; and yet, though he might save all, he leaves myriads to perish for ever. This is the most dreadful view of the divine nature that ever has been given. The new theology extinguishes the goodness of God: it tells us that there is nothing to prevent lim from extending mercy to all, and yet he does not.
Moris. This arises, not from want of goodness in God, but from want of faith on the part of man. God has opened up the door of mercy to all, and all who perish do so simply because they will not enter by that.
Orig. Sec. This, you must excuse me for saying, is mere babbling. The heathen, who have never heard of Christ, constitute threefourths of the human race: they have done so from immemorial time. Is it not an awful aspersion on the wisdom and goodness of the Almighty Governor, to say that salvation is provided for all, and yet he has sent the news of it only to a comparatively small portion of the human race? There is something here worse than election, worse than limited atonement, even as these are caricatured by you.
Moris. The whole world might have heard of the Saviour, if christians had only done their duty.
Orig. Sec. The tidings of salvation came from God to earth, and he could have sent them to all places as well as to one, if he had so seen meet. The fact that the proclamation of the atonement has been so limited, proves that the atonement is not universal; or, if the atonement be universal, where is the goodness of God in the limited proclamation.
Indep. I am anxious to get away as soon as possible. anything farther to say ?
Orig. Sec. I am only entering on the subject; but I shall, in a few