The true nature of imputation ought to be well understood.
The doctrine that sinners are justified, by the imputed righteousness of Christ, is as old as the visible church. The fathers of the reformation, and all orthodox divines, maintain that “we are justified by the righteousness of Christ, imputed to us and received by faith alone.”
Not that ever God imputed the righteousness of Christ to an unbeliever. He that believeth not is condemned. The mere fact of imputation, is not that which makes the righteousness of Christ become the believer’s own. Union to Christ by the bond of the Holy Spirit and by the bond of faith, puts the believer in possession of his righteousness. God then accounts it to be the believer’s, or imputes it to him. And the judgement of God is according to truth. He reckons that to the believer which is really his.
Faith alone, appropriates Christ’s righteousness. We are justified by faith, not by hope, patience, or any other grace of the Holy Spirit. All the other graces accompany faith. It is never alone. But faith is the hand of the soul, by which it lays hold on Christ, and appropriates his righteousness, or makes his righteousness its own in possession. It is no contradiction to say that faith alone justifies, yet never being alone, but accompanied by all the other graces of the Spirit. A man whose external senses are perfect, may be said to see with his eye alone, yet in relation to the other senses, the eye is not alone, but is accompanied by all the other senses—the organ of smell, taste, touch &c.
As soon as faith lays hold on Christ’s righteousness, God, as a judge, imputes that righteousness to the person acting this faith, and justifies him, on account of that righteousness thus received by faith. Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him, for righteousness i.e., the righteousness of Christ was imputed to him. Rom. 4:3. The same thing also, holds true in all Abraham’s believing seed. Ver. 25-24. Now, it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; but for as also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe.
A late writer maintains, that the righteousness of Christ is imputable to sinners, because it is the righteousness of the law, or covenant of works, and they are under this law, or covenant of works, therefore, it is imputable to them.*[See Dr. (James) Gray’s, Fiend of the Reformation Detected, sect. VI.]
This opinion is rather novel. It is a play upon the word imputed, which is generally used, when speaking of this subject.—Or rather, it is a misunderstanding of the term. It ascribes to the word impute or its derivatives, a meaning altogether new and unusual. Impute is used both by sacred and profane writers, in relation to both praise and blame. And literally, and constantly signifies, to ascribe to, charge upon, reckon, or account to a person, something either good or bad, as that person’s own. It invariably carries in it the idea of possession. There is no instance of its being otherwise used in the Bible, or, as far as it is recollected, out of the Bible, except by Dr. Gray.
The sin of Adam is imputed to his posterity, because it is their own, Rom. 5:12. For that all have sinned. The sin of, Adam is their own sin, from the identity of representation. And being their own, it may be fairly and justly imputed to, or charged upon them. Indeed, as the judgement of God is according to truth, it does not appear, how it could have been, imputed to them, if it had not been their own.
Again, the sins of all the elect are imputed to Christ. Why? Because he assumed them, and thereby made them his own.—Otherwise they would not have been justly imputable to him.—Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? Let us now try the doctrine, “that Christ’s righteousness is imputable to all men, because they are under the law, and because it is the righteousness of the law.”
If it be imputable, then it was theirs, in order to make it thus imputable, for nothing is justly imputable, but what not only may be imputed, but ought to be imputed. How then can God send to everlasting punishment, any of those, who really possess the righteousness of Christ? It is impossible. God is just. Upon the ground of the doctrine of Dr. Gray, all must be saved who are under the covenant of works—that very covenant too, by which all under it are condemned. The scriptures give us a very different ground for the righteousness of Christ being imputable, namely, being one with him by faith. Even the righteousness of God, which is by faith, of Jesus Christ, unto all, and upon all them that believe—all that believe that righteousness might be imputed to them also.†[Rom. 3:22-4:11.]
It was not designed to take any further notice of the “Fiend of the reformation detected,” which, we believe, is entitled to only part of its name; but on looking over Dr. [Ezra Styles] Ely’s Review of M’Chord’s Essays and Dr. Gray’s Fiend, it appeared necessary to make a few remarks on that performance also, in connexion with the Fiend &c.
It is freely granted, that in the Review, many sound criticisms are made, and the ground which Dr. Gray assumed about the “righteousness of the law—its imputability &c.” Dr Ely has shown to be utterly untenable. There are, however some things in the Review itself, which do not appear altogether perspicuous and with some opinions in it we cannot entirely coincide.
There is a strange disagreement among all these writers, and it would seem that there is something incorrect in every one of them. Mr. [James] M’Chord refuses that Christ is the representative of any until they are regenerated and united to him by the bond of the Holy Ghost. Dr. Gray admits that Christ stood in a covenant relation to his elect from all eternity. He however, avoids using the word representative, which he calls a “spectre” page 43. and threatens to “put it down.” Yet a few lines afterwards he has no objection to it. And in page 46, he makes representation essential to the very being of the eternal covenant, and again and again asserts, that without it there could be no eternal covenant.
In Dr. Ely’s Review No. II. page. 178, he seems to approve, of what Dr. Gray has written “Fiend” Sect. III. without exception. And in page 190, he approves of Dr. Gray’s remarks on Mr. M’Chord’s theory of representation, also without exception. We shall extract some observations from these, which we think rather incorrect. In Sect. III. page 45, Dr. Gray asserts, “that it is an absolute truth as Mr. M’Chord states, that the Holy Spirit is the bond of union between Jesus Christ and believers.” (He speaks of the mystical union.) Now Mr. M’Chord states, “Body of Christ” page 44. “The Holy Ghost is the actual bond of union, and in the strict sense of the words, exclusively the bond of Union &c.” In pages 72, 73 of the “Fiend,” Dr. Gray in attempting to explain our oneness with Christ, lays down the following order, Election producing a oneness with him in covenant relation. Imputation of his righteousness, and then he says, they are one with him, being equally justified by the law of works. Faith and love, by which they are one with him in moral righteousness. Does Dr. Ely approve of all this? Is the Holy Ghost exclusively, the bond of the mystical union? Is the imputation of Christ’s righteousness before faith? And does that imputation make believers one with Christ?
What appears to be the scriptural view, and undoubtedly the view which our standards give of the unity established, between Adam and those whom he represented; and between Christ and those whom he represented, is this; Adam was constituted a covenant head, and representative of all human persons. He stood bound for all his posterity descending from him by ordinary generation. The legal principle of connexion, or bond of union, by which he and they are identified in the covenant of works, is representation. The actual bond by which they are identified with Adam, is natural generation. By it, Adam’s sin is conveyed to them. The moment they come to exist, or actually to be, they are personally embraced by the principle of representation, and become actually chargeable with the guilt of Adam’s first sin. Accordingly it is imputed to them as their own. In relation to the second Adam, the new covenant head, and all whom he represented, the case appears to be this. All the elect were chosen in Christ. He stood as their representative in the covenant of redemption. His federal representation, or covenant headship, identified him and them in legal acceptation. He and they are viewed as one in law reckoning, in the court of heaven. The Head then actually existing, and all the members ascertained in the divine counsel, and contemplated as hereafter actually to be, and now viewed as virtually existing in their head and representative.
The stipulations of this covenant embrace certain arrangements respecting these contemplated members thus ascertained. Natural generation is not, as in the case of Adam and his posterity, to unite them, actually and personally with their new covenant head. They are to come into being, related to the old covenant—under its curse and children of wrath, even as others—that, however in due time, that connexion should be broken, and they should be personally instated in the covenant of grace, in which they had virtually and representatively been from all eternity.
And as in natural generation, the seed of Adam, become actually, or in their own persons, united to him; so, in regeneration, the seed of Christ become actually, or in their own persons, united to him. This is a spiritual, real, and mystical union.
These writers appear to agree representing this union, as if it were the act of only one party. The bond of it, they say, is the Holy Spirit exclusively. But what can be more absurd than to suppose a union between intelligent beings without the consent, and engagement of both parties? The union is a mutual act. A marriage would be unintelligible if represented as the act of the bridegroom only. The union of a soul to Christ is a union of persons. It is not a personal union, like the hypostatical union of the divine and human natures in the person of Christ. It is a spiritual marriage. Jesus is himself the bridegroom, and the regenerated sinner the bride.—He gives himself to her, and by the bond of his Spirit unites himself to her, engaging to be her husband for ever. She cordially accepts his offer and engagement, gives herself to him, and binds herself as his spouse for ever. This bond by which she closes and completes the Union, is faith. The engagement is mutual and reciprocal, and forms a union never to be dissolved.
I, with pleasure, quote here the words of two distinguished divines on this subject.
Speaking of those who are with the Lamb on mount Zion; “Their highest privilege” says Dr. [Alexander] M’Leod, “and their distinguishing blessing, is to be with him as their living Head, who, as the Lamb without spot, made atonement for them. Faith forms this union with the Saviour. Two intelligent beings cannot unite without a mutual giving and receiving of the one to the other.
The Son of God is given that we may receive him. Faith receives and rests upon him alone for salvation, as he is offered to us in the gospel. It appropriates the Saviour to the person, and for the salvation of the convinced sinner.”—Lect. upon the Revel. p. 455-456, New York.
To the same purpose speaks President [Jonathan] Edwards:—
“In order to an union’s being established between two intelligent active beings or persons, so as they should be looked upon as one, there should be the mutual act of both, that each should receive the other, as actively joining themselves one to another.”—Sermon on justification by faith alone. Works, vol. VII, p. 23. Worcest. 1809.
On this mystical union, the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, and believers’ consequent justification, have formally predicated, and not on their virtual and representative union in eternity. Nevertheless, that union in eternity, and Christ’s representing them in the covenant, lie at the very foundation of the whole system; and had it not been for the representative character of the Lord Jesus Christ in the covenant, his righteous could never have been imputed to them. So far is it from true, therefore, what Dr. Gray asserts “that the imputability of Christ’s righteousness does not depend in any manner nor in any degree, on his representative character,” that nothing can be more remote from the matter of fact.
Dr. Ely highly applauds Dr. Gray’s discussion of the covenant of works, and particularly notices the clearness of his probation concerning Eve, in that covenant, p. 199-201. But this part of the discussion appears; indeed, greatly defective. Dr. Gray represents Eve, in precisely the same relation to Adam, as their posterity were, in the covenant of works. But surely there is something peculiar in her situation.
She was in some sense one party with Adam in that covenant. He was properly the covenant head and representative, to all their natural posterity. But he was not so, without the woman, but with her. Adam in conjunction with his wife, was the root of the whole human family. When the covenant was entered into with Adam, the woman was not yet formed, but God spake to her in Adam. She is viewed as one with him, as being a part of himself. And God called their name Adam.
There is no doubt but Eve is thus represented in, and by Adam. And had Adam only fallen, she, as well as his natural offspring, must have been a sharer in the transgression, upon the principle of representative identification, but it appears, that God spake to her, personally, after she was made, and informed her of the covenant. And it is contended, that she had a conjunct concern with Adam in that covenant, distinct from what any of his posterity had, or could have. She was to be the mother of the human race, and without her, Adam could have had no offspring. Adam, then, can never be considered as the head and root of mankind, but in conjunction with his wife. They twain were one flesh.
In relation to his posterity, the keeping or breaking the covenant, depended solely on Adam, and not on Eve. Did it so depend in relation to Eve herself? It is astonishing that Dr. G. adverts not to the circumstance, that Eve was first in the transgression. Was it for the fact of Adam’s eating the forbidden fruit, or her own personal eating, that she is judged and condemned? It may be fairly admitted, that if Adam only had eaten, she would have fallen in him, as the great representative; but nothing can more clearly prove the peculiarity of her situation, in that covenant, and that she is to be viewed as one party with Adam, than the fact, that she, by her own personal act, did break the covenant, and is distinctly judged and condemned for her own act of eating the forbidden fruit; while Adam’s after act is not mentioned in the process of her judgment.
In relation to the posterity of Adam the test of obedience was restricted to him alone, but not so in the case of Eve. The Confession and the generality of Divines have said little on the subject of Eve’s relation in the covenant of works, but surely silence is much preferable to the account furnished by Dr. Gray and applauded by Dr. Ely.
In the Review, p. 189, it is refused by Dr. E. that sin is “an absolutely infinite evil.” This might be soundly explained. But in p. 268-269, he denies that sin is an infinite evil at all, and asserts that “every sin is a finite, though an exceedingly great and horrible evil.”
That a finite being could perform an act subjectively infinite, is indeed impossible. But it does not follow, that a finite being cannot do an act objectively infinite.
That every human person is under the obligation of God’s moral law will not be disputed. This law possesses an infinite obligation. And consequently all the subjects of that law are under infinite obligation to perform what it requires. Though they cannot be required by it, to perform infinite acts of obedience, yet they are laid under infinite obligation to perform finite acts. Sin is the violation of this infinite obligation. But the violation of an infinite obligation is infinitely criminal. Sin is, therefore, an infinite evil.
“If God be infinitely worthy,” says President Edwards, “of love, honour, and obedience, then our obligation to love, honour, and obey him, and so to avoid all sin, is infinitely great. Sin is the violation of this infinite obligation, it is, therefore, an infinite evil.”*[Sermon on the Eternity of Hell Torments.]
“In order to form just conceptions of the greatness of Christ’s sufferings,” says a late accurate writer, “it is necessity to enquire into the cause from which they proceeded. This is the infinite evil of sin. When we speak of sin as infinitely evil, we do not mean to affirm that the act of the soul, in sinning, is infinitely intense; as this is impossible in a creature, all whose powers are limited. The malignity of sin, from which its demerit arises, must be considered as it relates to God, the divine lawgiver. He and the rational creature, though closely related, are infinitely distant in point of greatness and excellence. Men are under an obligation to love God. This obligation must be great in proportion to the infinite excellence of the object. Worth and excellence are the proper reasons and grounds of loving any object; and as these, in God, are infinite, men must be infinitely obliged to love him. This is undeniable; as they cannot be under the same obligation to love one another, or the highest Seraph, as to love God. Sin is a violation of this obligation, or an acting contrary to it: the evil, then, relatively considered, must be proportioned to the obligation.
Though the infinite evil of sin is inferred from the infinite dignity of the object against whom it is committed, it will not warrant the conclusion, that a good action must be infinitely good, because performed to the same object. The contrary is true. Sin is heinous, in proportion to what it denies to the object, or attempts to take from it. Sin treats God as a contemptible being, neither to be regarded nor feared; and therefore treats him with contempt. It depreciates his excellence, love, and goodness, impeaches his justice, denies his holiness, and sets his power and anger at defiance. It is an attempt to pluck God from his throne, &c. On the other hand, the goodness of an action must be in proportion to what it gives to the object. Besides God’s respect to any man’s obedience must be according to the degree of respect to which he is entitled; but the respect due to man is infinitely less than what is due to God, because of the meanness of man, and his infinite distance from God.”*[(John) Thomson’s Theo. Disc. Vol. 1., p. 56, 57.]
But after all, is it not substantially granted by Dr. E. Rev. p 269, that sin is an infinite evil, since he admits that “every sin deserves God’s wrath and curse, both in this life and that which is to come?” Is not the wrath of God infinite wrath? And is not the life to come infinite in duration? And must it not be an infinite evil that will subject to such punishment? His own objections, if indeed they had any weight, would strike against his own concession, with equal force as against the doctrine he combats. Let us however, attend to them. They are briefly these, “that sin being committed by a finite being, must be a finite evil, and requires a finite satisfaction—in is an effect, every effect requires an adequate cause;—If therefore, sin be an infinite effect, man the cause of it, must be an infinite being.—Infinities will not admit of degrees of comparison—if sin is an infinite evil, all sins must be alike—no man is a greater sinner than another—and if every sin is infinitely evil, every sin deserves infinite punishment—a man cannot endure more than one infinite punishment; consequently, no man can be punished for more than one sin.” This is the sum of the objections to sin being an infinite evil.
These objections, however, are mere sophistry. The objections, that sin is committed by a finite being—that it is not an infinite effect, because its cause is finite, are predicated upon the mistake that it is to be viewed subjectively, and not objectively, and have been already considered.
The remaining objections suppose, that there can be no degrees in any thing, which is in its nature infinite. We would enquire if divine wrath be in its nature infinite? It is presumed that it is, and that it will scarcely be denied even by Dr. Ely. And cannot God inflict more or less of this infinite wrath, according to the demerit of the guilty offender? If any should dispute it, we refer him to the seventy-eighth psalm. In verse 38th, God is represented, as not stirring up all his wrath. What? Is not the wrath of God infinite? And “there are no degrees in things that are infinite.” If, therefore, he stirred up his wrath, according to the objection, he must have stirred up all his wrath. This, however, is contrary to the text. We, therefore, leave the Dr.’s logic and the text to settle it.
Again, is not the power of God infinite power? According to the objection, he cannot withhold, or extend this power, more or less, at pleasure, because there are no degrees in things that are infinite. Yet in allusion to the awful display of his infinite power on mount Sinai, Hab. 3:4. God is represented as having horns coming out of his hand, and there, says the inspired penman, was the hiding of his power. What then must have been the discovery of his power, if all this was only the hiding of it? Or, because it is infinite, must God have discovered it all?
But would not a similitude of the Dr.’s own, completely set aside his own objection, about the “equality of all sins,” and “all infinities being equal,” and (upon the supposition of sin being an infinite evil) “the impossibility of any man’s being punished for more than one sin?” Let us hear the Dr. In Rev. p. 189, he says, “As we may conceive of a cable, and of a twine, which shall be alike interminable, or infinite in continuation, and yet finite and different in diameter, &c.”
According to the supposed example, the cable and the twine are alike in continuation—they are infinitely extended. This may point out the evil of sin, as being, in its nature, infinitely criminal, for the nature of the cable, and the twine is the same. But they differ in thickness. They are both infinitely long, and in this they agree. But the one has more folds than the other. In this they disagree. So of sins. They are all infinitely criminal in their nature. This bears upon the length. Some are more heinous, or more horribly aggravated than others. This bears upon the thickness. The punishment will be proportioned to this. For though the punishment of all sin will be eternal, and in point of duration equal, like the length of the cable and the twine, yet the intensity of it, or weight of divine wrath, will be varied in proportion to the degrees of guilt in the offender.
We shall here quote the words of two eminent divines, whose praise is in the churches, in corroboration of our views on this subject.
The first is the eminent President Edwards, who well understood the subject.
“Another objection (that perhaps may be thought hardly worth mentioning) is, that to suppose sin to he infinitely heinous, is to make all sins equally heinous; for how can any sin be more than infinitely heinous? But all that can be argued hence is, that no sin can be greater with respect to that aggravation, the worthiness of the object against whom it is committed. One sin cannot be more aggravated than another in that respect, because in this respect the aggravation of every sin is infinite; but that does not hinder but that some sins may he more heinous than others in other respects: As if we should suppose a cylinder infinitely long, it cannot be greater in that respect, viz. with respect to the length of it; but yet it may be doubled and trebled, and made a thousand fold more, by the increase of other dimensions. Of sins that are all infinitely heinous, some may be more heinous than others; as well as of divers punishments that are all infinitely dreadful calamities, or all of them infinitely exceeding all finite calamities, so that there is no finite calamity, however great, but what is infinitely less dreadful, or more eligible than any of them, yet some of them may be a thousand times more dreadful than others. A punishment may be infinitely dreadful by reason of the long duration of it; and therefore cannot be greater with respect to that aggravation of it, viz. its length of continuance, but yet may be vastly more terrible on other accounts.” Serm. on Justif. by Faith alone.
The second is the celebrated Turretine, professor of theology, in Geneva.
“Though a death of infinite value,” says this great and good man, “was due for every individual sinner, yet such a death as Christ’s is quite sufficient for the redemption of the whole elect world. A penal satisfaction is not of the same nature with a pecuniary payment, which is only valued by the amount paid, without regard to the person who pays: and hence can be of avail to none but the individual for whom the payment is made. But penal satisfaction is appreciated by the dignity of the person who makes it, and is increased in worth in proportion to his dignity, and hence avails for many as well as for one. Money paid by a king is indeed of no more avail in the discharge of a debt, than money paid by a slave: but the life of a king is of more value than the life of a vile slave, as the life of king David was of more worth than that of half the Israelitish army.—2 Sam. 18:3. In this way Christ alone is more excellent than all men together. The dignity of an infinite person swallows up all the infinities of punishment due to us—they sink into it and are lost. Besides it is no new thing that what is necessary for one should be amply sufficient for many. One sun is necessary to the illumination of an individual, and yet the same sun illuminates the whole human family. One victim was sufficient for the priest and all the people, and yet it would have been requisite for one. The great annual expiatory sacrifice, made atonement for all the people, while yet there were as many atonements necessary, as there were Israelites, because by divine appointment it was offered for the whole congregation, as well as for individuals.”*[(Francis) Turretin, De Satisfact. Christ. Verit. translated by (J.R.) Willson., p. 251, 252, Philadelphia.]
Upon the whole, if sin be not an infinite evil, it was not necessary, that the Saviour of sinners should have been an infinite person. Finite evils however numerous, and aggravated, require, only a finite satisfaction. And if a finite satisfaction only was required, Adam might have been set to rights again, without the intervention of the Son of God. A finite person could have suffered a finite penalty.
Nor will the allegation have any opposing force “that a finite creature is under obligations to render all the obedience in its power, for itself.” Be it so. Let it only be innocent, and the law of God does not require it to suffer for itself. It is indeed under obligations to obey, but under none to suffer. Suffering alone, is the penalty. Let the finite creature obey for itself, and suffer the finite penalty for Adam, and all will be well. Upon this ground also, “had another man been formed like Adam, and had he perfectly obeyed the law,” for himself and suffered the finite penalty, which he well might have done, in due time, then “a divine Saviour” would have been “a needless gift of the counsels of Jehovah.” If Dr. Ely “is right in his doctrine on this subject, the Saviour of the Socinians, provided he be a perfectly obedient man,” and suffer this finite penalty, “will answer all the wants of sinners.”
But if sin is not an infinite evil, why is the punishment of it in hell, of infinite duration?
Dr. E. answers, “God may extend the amount of penalty incurred to any assignable duration; and for ever may continue to punish one, who for ever continues to multiply transgressions.”—p. 269-270.
This will require a little examination. It assumes, in the first place, that God may extend the amount of penalty incurred to any assignable duration. Does punishment flow from God’s sovereignty? Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? God may not extend the amount of penalty one moment longer, than justice demands. If only finite punishment be due, there is no attribute of Divinity, that will concur with this infinite extension.
In the second place Dr. E. ascribes the eternity of the punishment of the damned, to their continued sinning. He says, “God for ever may continue to punish one who for ever continues to multiply transgressions.”
This opinion takes for granted, that the sins which the damned shall commit through eternity, are taken into the account, at the day of judgment, as well as "the deeds done in the body." It is certain that the judgment at the last day is final. The sentence is then past for eternity—Depart ye cursed into everlasting fire.—Why this sentence? Why are the wretched criminals doomed to everlasting fire? According to Dr. Ely’s plan, it is upon a two-fold ground—Because they have sinned, and have not believed in Christ—and because they will continue to sin, and will not believe in Christ to all eternity! So much, and so long they are to suffer for what they have done; and then to eternity for what they shall hereafter do to eternity!
Notice is taken by our Saviour, in the account which he himself gives of the last judgment, both of what the wicked have done, in opposition to the divine law, and what they have neglected contrary to its requisitions; but he is entirely silent respecting their future sins, as forming any part of the formal reason, or cause of the sentence of everlasting punishment. They, indeed still remain subjects of the law, and every sin deserves punishment, and shall be punished, though committed in hell, yet the infinite duration of the torments of the damned, is not, in the sentence of condemnation, predicated upon what they shall hereafter do, but upon what they have already done. Punishment is not in its nature prospective, but retrospective.
Should it be foreseen by a judge, that a murderer on whom he pronounces sentence of death, would, on his way to the place of execution, take away the life of one or more of the guard that conducted him to the gallows, still it was not for this, as yet uncommitted crime, that he pronounced the sentence of death, but for the murder already perpetrated. According to Dr. Ely’s scheme, the Judge of the quick and the dead could not pronounce sentence of everlasting punishment, on the reprobate, at the last day, for all the guilt with which they are justly chargeable, previous to that time.
But as the sinning period of the elect is bounded, their sins must, according to Dr. E. require only a finite satisfaction; and the Redeemer must bear so many finite pains, according to the number of the elect, and the every way finite magnitude of their transgressions. So that if more in number had been redeemed; or if their sins had been greater, or more numerous, he must have suffered more, in proportion—so much for the sins of Peter—so much for the sins of Paul, &c. &c. For says the Dr. “all the sins of the elect are of a definite amount—the punishment merited by all the sins of the elect are of a definite amount—Christ bare a definite amount of punishment, even such a degree of punishment considering the divinity and dignity of his person,” (did that consideration diminish the number of the finite stripes, or any of the items of the finite debt?) “as was an equitable commutation in God’s esteem, for the punishment due unto all the sins of the elect.” P. 188.
This, the Dr. thinks, is not cutting up the righteousness of Christ into shreds and patches; but he must surely admit, that it is dividing and subdividing it into millions of fractions, and assigning to each individual elect sinner, as much as the demerit of his sin may require. The scale, however, is not yet graduated.
This is the age of discovery, of invention, and of system making. Mr. M’Chord’s system contemplates a body of indefinite extension, or interminable enlargement. “This scheme,” says Dr. Ely, “he seems to have invented, that he might, according to his own notions, preach the gospel. Dr. Gray invented his scheme of imputation without representation, for the same reason.”—And no doubt, for the same reason, Dr. E. invents a scheme of sin being a finite evil, and of course that there neither is the fact, of any infinite value in the atonement of Christ, nor any need of it!—What scheme shall be invented next? Would it not be better, after all, to be contented with the scheme invented by God himself, and preach the gospel according to the commandment of the Lord Jesus Christ? There seems to be little good in this system making. When shall the blessed period arrive when the gospel will be preached in its own native simplicity, without the inventions of men!