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January, 2013

The Atonement

14 Jan 2013, by AHB Library

Atonement - Atkinson (2)

By: Israel Atkinson

The atonement of Jesus Christ is an unspeakably important branch of gospel truth; and every scriptural, intelligent, and godly exposition and defence of it ought to be welcomed by the living church of God. Mr. Atkinson has placed this subject before us in the following pages, in a thoughtful, interesting, and edifying manner. Some parts are treated with an originality, which is one of the writer’s…

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Introduction

14 Jan 2013, by AHB Library

Atonement - Atkinson (2)

Before directing attention to the subject of this treatise, a few preliminary remarks seem to be required. In the greater part of the works extant on sacred subjects, the doctrine of the Atonement is more or less dwelt on; and this is so of necessity, because the subject is interwoven with the whole fabric of the truth relating to the salvation of sinners; and, besides, there are also not a few treatises written specially on the subject. These facts may be considered as a sufficient reason why the writer, unless he can pretend to give some quite original information on the subject, should be content to be quiet, or to exercise himself in other directions. But what has been well said on another matter may be repeated here…

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If God is, dominion must belong to him. If he were not Lord, he would not be God. But God is, and “He is Lord of All.” An absolutely supreme dominion is his by right, and in fact. But the sovereignty he has and exerts over his intelligent creatures is not solely that of a proprietor, but also that of a moral governor. As such he subjected man to a law which is holy, just, and good. This law may be taken as a transcript, so far as any law can be, of his own nature; and it may be confidently concluded that, while he will suffer none who are subject to this law to break a single precept with impunity, he himself, in any of the acts of his sovereignty, will never violate its principles. In the outworking of his sovereignty, then, there will be nothing unholy, unjust, nor evil. If, therefore, nothing apart from God controls his sovereignty…

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Sin, the existent occasion for an atonement, we say, can find no solution of the difficulty it presents to the human mind apart from divine sovereignty. Philosophers have speculated very foolishly on this subject, fanatics have very madly raved about it, and the friends of God have very impertinently apologized for the conduct of the Lord of all about it; but after all, the fact remains just where the philosopher, the fanatic, and the friend found it, and just what that fact was, a judgment of divine sovereignty that is unsearchable, and a way that is past finding out.

Reasoning on the ways of God as the great moral Governor, it has been thought…

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But however little is known of God’s reason for the existence of sin, and guilt, and misery, we do know for certain that law is, and sin is, and guilt is, and misery is; and we know with equal certainty that the evil of sin has created a posture of affairs which can only be effectually met by the atonement of Christ. This atonement the Divine Sovereign has admitted, and the admission is a prime article in the plan of grace.

That the Supreme Ruler possessed the sovereign right to admit an atonement, provided always…

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But divine sovereignty has more than admitted an atonement; the Sovereign has provided the Substitute. Milton, having introduced the Father as admitting a substitute for offending man, represents the Supreme as asking the assembled choir of heaven where such a one might be found, having a “charity so dear,” as to become a substitute, and who, being willing, should be able to “pay the rigid satisfaction, death for death.”


“He asked, but all the heavenly choir stood mute,
And silence was in heaven.”

To have admitted a substitute, without providing one, would have…

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Lastly, Divine sovereignty is exemplified in the appointment of the beneficiaries of the atonement of Christ. It was for God alone of his sovereign will to admit of an atonement, and thereby, in effect, to say, “I will have mercy.” And it was for God only, of his sovereign will, to determine the extent of the admitted atonement, and to say, in effect, likewise, ”I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy.” But nowhere more than here may it be said, “With God is terrible majesty.” Nowhere more than here does the Lord of all gather…

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In entering on this subject it seems proper to remark that in all government there must be law, by which obedience and disobedience may be known. But there is a difference between arbitrary and moral government. In an arbitrary government, laws may be established which have not the sanction of the moral judgment; and if such be the case anywhere in fact, justice will have no place there. A breach of law which has no moral sanction…

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I. There is a vindication of the obedient. Jesus was personally obedient, and he was personally vindicated. But the question arises, What was the rule of Christ’s obedience, personally considered? Seeing that he had a created nature, it seems congruous that a natural obligation to obey some law devolved on him by a natural consequence. But seeing that his created nature never had an independent personal existence apart from his divine nature, who is there that seeks…

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II. There is a punishing of the disobedient. Justice and vengeance differ. Strictly speaking, there is no vengeance in God, nor does this passion form an element of justice. Vengeance, properly so called, can only be sated by the pain or injury desired to be inflicted upon the person himself against whom the fury of the avenger burns. It wholly declines the offices of a substitute if any such are offered. It steadily and sternly refuses to be pacified by the suffering or injury of another than its proper victim. If in the wildness of its rage it strikes at any relation of its object, this is simply on the ground of…

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