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The reader will have anticipated our reply to these authors, on this head, from our remarks on “ Gethse. mane,” in the first number. We shall have occasion more thoroughly to discuss this subject in future; and therefore shall content ourselves at present with offer. ing a few considerations. It is not true that the gospel ever has been proclaimed to every child of Adam. Thousands and millions have been permitted by divine providence to die, without ever hearing of Christ's righteousness; and if they have died in sin, without salvation being offered to them, there was surely no necessity that Christ's righteousness should have been imputable to them, since even the offer of imputing it was not predestinated to be made. A righteousness, therefore, capable of being imputed to all to whom the gospel is preached or shall be revealed, is all that our authors can reasonably desire upon the scheme of each. If it were capable of being applied to all, it would be of no service, they must grant, to those who “ shall perish without law."
Must the righteousness of the Son of God, then, be capable of being reckoned to every one to whom the gos. pel is sent, in order to a vindication of the ways of Heaven? If Jehovah offers absolutely to impute it to every one, we admit that it must; but in searching the Bible we find that in consideration of the atonement he
promises absolutely, so far as men are concerned, to regenerate, adopt, justify and sanctify only such as shall be saved, such as have been elected. Concerning all these he promises to give them salvation; to make them his
objects of grace in the day of his power; and declares, “ they shall call upon me, and I will answer.” The absolute promises are such as these; “ all that the Father giveth me shall come to me:"_" my people shall be willing:”—and “a new heart will I give them.” We preach the gospel in part, when we proclaim these great and precious promises; even while we are compelled to say to our unconverted hearers, that the Lord alone knoweth them that are his; and that we have no commission to particularize an individual and say,
promises to give thee a new heart.” It is not requisite, therefore, in preaching the gospel to name an individual and say: “ John, the Lord has purposed and promised to give thee eternal life.” We cannot in truth say, that an absolute promise of justification and of all the blessings that accompany it, is made to, or concerning, any individual whom we do not know to be one of the elec
tion of grace.
What promises, then, it may be asked, are addressed to those who are out of Christ? We answer in general, such promises as are conditional, being coupled with a command. Thus it is said, to all to whom the gospel is sent, “ hear, and your soul shall live:'--" look unto me, and be ye saved:"_" let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy on him:"-" him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out:"-and“ he that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved." In publishing these conditional promises, we preach the gospel in part too; and that God who causes men to be regenerated by the incorruptible seed, the word of God, may use these promises, to communicate the blessings of the new covenant to his elect, and so fulfil his absolute promises, which have no other condition than the atonement of Christ. But some to whom salvation is offered on certain terms, never will comply with them; nor would any, unless they were divinely disposed and enabled to yield their compliance. Some to whom the gospel is preached Jehovah intended to leave to the ways and state of their own choice; some he predestinated to live as they please, and become monuments of his justice. They shall experience the righteous retribution of the holy God, for their sins, in ex. act proportion to their sinfulness. He did not intend to make them the monuments of his mercy, unto salvation; nor will they ever be the subjects of it. It is not an unrighteous thing with God, to make them as miserable as they have made, and shall make, themselves sinful; that is, to treat them justly, equitably. Now the question between Dr. Gray and Mr. M'Chord on the one
side, and ourselves on the other, is this; “must God have provided a righteousness capable of being imputed to these, or dishonour himself, by saying, hear, believe, repent, look unto me, come unto me, turn unto me, and ye shall live?!” We think not; any more than he dishonours himself by saying, “if a man be just, and do that which is lawful and right-and hath walked in my statutes, and hath kept my judgments, to deal truly; he is just, he shall surely live, saith the Lord God;" when he surely knows, that such a man will never be found, and never did exist, since the apostacy. Every thing which the gospel proposes to any one to be be. lieved is true; and all the commands which precede, and are coupled with, the promises of God addressed to the impenitent are reasonable. No one is required to be. lieve that Jesus wrought a righteousness for him in par. ticular, and is dead for him individually, until he has evidence of the fact, from his own consciousness of coming to Christ, or of being willing to be saved from sin and wrath through him; but every one is required to believe, so soon as he hears the gospel, that God commands him to turn, to repent, that there is mercy with God for all his people; that God will give him eternal life if he will accept of it; and that all the elect will by the Holy Ghost, be disposed to embrace an of. fered Saviour. Jehovah offers salvation indeed, to the unconverted, and to some who never will be converted, but it is on certain terms; it is in such a manner as to please himself; it is as a king. Let Dr. Gray or Mr. M'Chord, or any one else, show us his commission from God, to say to a non-elected person, “ God promises to give you an interest in the righteousness of Christ, even if you are not willing to accept of it,” and we will then espouse a new system. We glory in preaching the gos. pel, and we do it, when we say “come unto Jesus, all that labour and are heavy laden, and he will give you rest: the Spirit and the bride say come: and let him that heareth say, come: and let him that is athirst come: and whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” We preach the gospel, when we show how God is just
in justifing the ungodly who are constrained to choose, and come to, the fountain of life; when we show how Christ was made perfect through suffering, that he might become the author of eternal salvation to all them who obey him, by an imperfect, but evangelical obedi. ence: and when we prove, that effectual measures will be taken by divine grace to bring a great company to Jesus for salvation; a company so great that no man can number it;—a latitude of expression never used in scripture concerning them that perish, even while it is said that in some ages and nations many are called, but few chosen: whence we infer, that by far the greatest portion of the human race are predestinated to be called, justified, and glorified. In short, if men are not deluded by the notion that saving faith consists in one's believing that Jesus Christ died for him in particular, there is no diffi. culty in reconciling the preaching of the gospel to those for whom Jesus made no satisfaction, with the divine attributes. It is an error of apprehension concerning the nature of preaching the gospel which makes many clamorous, against what they deem our excluding men from the gospel, and our implication of the sincerity and veracity of God. The “ Marrow of Modern Divi. nity,” is an excellent book; but erroneous in stating the precise object of saving faith: it has evidently occasioned a part of Mr. M'Chord's misconceptions.
What we have already advanced will enable our readers to detect the fallacious reasoning of Dr. Gray concerning several Roads of error, into which he thinks different persons are led by the doctrine that the imputation of Christ's righteousness is dependent on his representative character.
I. ROAD. “1. Eternal salvation, or in other words, the righteousness of Jesus Christ, the procuring cause of that salvation, is offered to all mankind by God himself in the gospel.
“2. Therefore the righteousness of Jesus Christ is meritorious of the salvation of all mankind, and is capable of being imputed to every one of them.
“ 3. But the righteousness of Jesus is meritorious and imputable to men, because he is their representative.
“ 4. Therefore Jesus Christ represented all mankind, and every man of them, in the covenant of
grace. “Consequently all mankinci and every man, will eventually be saved. Though worlds should perish, though ages of torment should hold on their incalculable round, though system should succeed to system, till the human imagination becomes incapable of grasping the vast idea-still the Son of God will conduct to glory all that he represented.
“Here then we have the system of the redemptional universalists. The deistical universalists are a different breed, and closely allied to the family of atheists.
“ The reader is requested to put the above train of argu. ment to the severest test. Let it be tortured, to confess if it has a single secret error about it; with the exception of the third step, which I have put in italic, merely to mark it as suspicious, for even the guilty shall not be condemned till the jury are satisfied with evidence, and agreed to a man in their verdict. But admitting this step to be legitimate, I pronounce the whole sytem invulnerable.”
We have evinced, that the first position cannot be defended even by the skill of Dr. Gray, who is a general of distinction in the army of metaphysicians, for the righteousness of Christ is NOT offered to some men at all, who die pagans; and to others it is offered only on the terms of coming and believing on the Lord Jesus Christ.
Another important subject demands our attention. Mr. M'Chord says, “it is very certain that human nature was represented by our first father in Eden, and that we feel to this day the consequence of his procedure as our covenant head. But it is not true that all the individuals who have successively sprung from him were individually and formally recognized in law as included under the representation of their father.” Body, p. 174. Adam he says represented a system, which was capable of indefinite enlargement, by natural generation; which he asserts is the only bond of union between Adam and his posterity. In the covenant of works, he says we are connected with the natural representative of our race, by being born his posterity, under the operation of a system which was in its own nature capable of augmentation. At first, Adam he thinks represented only himself, and his own nature;