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“After spending an anxious and almost sleepless night, I arose just after the dawning of the day, and resolved once more to pray. I said with Jonah, “I will look again towards his holy temple.' I knelt down, and in a few broken sentences, tried to send my cries to the mercy seat. I felt convinced that I had done nothing to merit the divine favour, nor could I do any thing though I were eternally to perish. This l thought I confessed to the Lord; and as my last refuge, endeavoured to cast myself upon the mercy of God. During this day I felt less anxiety than I had done for many days before. Sometimes I hoped I had given myself to God, and sometimes I feared that my convictions were wearing off, so that I should return again unto folly.
“Just in the twilight of the same day, I had occasion to walk to a neighbour's house about a quarter of a mile distant. As I walked, a new train of thought occupied my mind. How happy, thought I, are the angels! They are happy because they are holy, and have never sinned. How unhappy I am on account of sin! My #. now ran back to Adam in the garden. I thought I would have given the world had it been at my command, if he had never sinned; then I should not have been a sinner. But now I felt myself a dreadful sinner, and could see no way by which I could be made holy. At the same time I was convinced, that unless I were made holy I could never be made happy. It appeared that I had a great something to do; what it was or how to do it. I knew not. Immediately as I walked, this passage of scripture came powerfully into my mind, – * Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” A gleam of hope seemed to come
from these words. But I thought they were only words which I had read, and were now suggested by my imagination. They seemed to be repeated the second time.-‘Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.’ The effect was overwhelming. In an instant, the great plan of mercy through the atonement of Christ was astonishingly opened to my view. He appeared to be just such a Saviour as I needed. I saw that by his atonement he had (so far as an atonement could do it) “taken away the sin of the world.” What, said I to myself, is it only to believe in Jesus Christ in order to be saved 2 It appeared almost too free and too glorious. It seemed impossible that it should be true. But the more I reflected, the more clear it appeared that this was the Gospel method of salvation. I could not help taking hold of it, and thought I saw in it a glorious consistency with the attributes of God. “My mind now became calm, but not transported. It occurred to me that this was not such a conversion as I had been looking for. I had expected my distress to be ioni I should see myself hanging, as it were, over everlasting burnings, and that then I should have some discovery of the Saviour; but in what way I knew not. Those sweet words would still recur to my mind,-‘Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” The gracious invitations of the Gospel, such as Isaiah lv. 1. ‘Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money, come ; yea, come, buy wine and milk, without money and without price,’ appeared exceedingly precious. The more I reflected, the more was I lost in wonder and astonishment in contemplating the riches of grace. The
Saviour now began to appear precious to me. Yet I was exceedingly afraid that I should be deceived. “A short time afterwards, being asked at a conference meeting to relate my religious feelings, I complied; and though honestly, yet with much fear and trembling, I proceeded to state what I had experienced. Christians rejoiced, and anxious sinners wept. I was called upon in the course of the evening to pray. I attempted, and was blessed with some degree of freedom. Seeing some persons who had been for some time anxious, I could not refrain from addressing them. They were asking, ‘What shall we do to be saved?' I replied, * Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.' I then thought I could tell them so that they would believe. But after stating to them my views of that wonderful declaration.— ‘Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world,” I could not perceive that they were affected by it. It seemed to me that every one now could believe, and I wondered that I had never believed before. I seldom afterwards attended meeting without taking some part in the public exercises, until I was solemnly set apart to the work of the ministry. “It may be proper here to observe, that previous to my religious concern, I had, with the advice of several friends, determined to enter upon the study of the law. Two gentlemen, one of whom had been States' Attorney in Connecticut, the other a practitioner in law, kindly engaged me their assistance, and furnished me with books. I had already read a number, and was reading Blackstone's Commentaries when my attention was arrested. I was obliged to lay them aside, but with the expectation of resuming them after my impres
sions had subsided. I made several attempts to resume them, but now found it utterly in vain. My attention was wholly engrossed with another subject, although I do not recollect that I thought of preaching. I have since, however, had reason to believe that the impression was very general upon the minds of the people, that I should at some time or other become a minister of the Gospel. As there was no settled minister in the town at this time, I was constantly called upon to take some part in all the religious meetings. I however felt a great diffidence in speaking, unless when requested by some of the elder brethren.
(To be continued.)
Six LETTERs to DR.RYLAND, written By MR. Fuller, IN THE YEAR 1803, RESPECTING His CoNTRoversy with MR. Booth.
LETTER III. On Substitution.
Jan. 12, 1803.
MY DEAR BROTHER, WHETHER Christ laid down his life as a substitute for sinners, was never a question with me. All my hope rests upon it; and the sum of my delight in preaching the Gospel consists in it. If I know anything of myself, I can say of Christ crucified for us, as was said of Jerusalem: “If I forget thee, let my right hand forget; if I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth !”
I have always considered the denial of this truth as being of the essence of Socinianism. Mr. B. professes, “in his juvenile years, never to have hoped for salvation but through a vicarious sacrifice.” But if he allow himself to have believed this doctrine when he was an Arminian, it is rather singular that I, who am not an Arminian, as he himself acknowledges, should be charged with denying it. I could not have imagined, that any person whose hope of acceptance with God rests not on any goodness in himself, but entirely on the righteousness of Christ, would have been accounted to disown his substitution. But perhaps Mr. B. considers “a real and proper imputation of our sins to Christ,” by which he seems to mean their being literally transferred to him, as essential to this doctrine; and if so, I acknowledge I do not at present believe it. For Christ to die as a substitute, if I understand the term, is the same thing as his dying for us, or in our stead, or that we should not die. The only question on which I ought to have been interrogated, is, “The persons for whom Christ was a substitute; whether the elect only, or mankind in general?” On this question I will be as explicit as I am able. Were I asked concerning the Gospel when it is first introduced into a country, For whom was it sent 2 I should answer, if I had respect only to the revealed will of God, and so, perhaps, would Mr. B., It is sent for men, not as elect, or as non-elect, but as sinners. It is written and preached, “that they might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing, they might have life through his name.” But if I had respect to the secret will, or appointment of God as to its application, I should say, If the divine conduct in this instance accord with what it has been in other instances, he hath visited that country, “to take out of them a people for his name.” In like manner concerning the death of Christ. If I speak of it irrespective of the purpose of the Father and the Son, as to the objects who should be saved by it,
104 Letters from Mr. Fuller to Dr. Ryland.
merely referring to what it is in itself sufficient for, and declared in the Gospel to be adapted to, I should think that I answered the question in a scriptural way by saying, It was for sinners as sinners: but if I have respect to the purpose of the Father in giving his Son to die, and to the design of Christ in laying down his life, I should answer, It was for the elect only.” In the first of these views, I find the apostles and primitive ministers (leaving the consideration of God's secret purposes, as a matter belonging to Himself, not to them) addressing themselves to sinners without distinction, and holding forth the death of Christ, as a ground of faith to all men. On this principle, the servants sent forth to bid guests to the marriagesupper were directed to invite them, saying, “Come, FOR all things are ready.” On this principle the ambassadors of Christ besought sinners to be reconciled to God, “For” (said they) “he hath made Him to be sin for us,
* The distinction between what the atonement of Christ is in itself sufficient for, and what it is as applied, under the sovereign will of God, is made by Dr. Owen, as well as many others. Speaking of “the dignity, worth, or infinite value of the death of Christ,” he ascribes it partly to “the dignity of his person, and partly to the greatness of his sufferings. And this,” he adds, “sets out the innate, real, true worth and value of the blood-shedding of Jesus Christ: this is its own true internal perfection and sufficiency. That it should be applied unto any, made a price for them, and become beneficial to them, according to the worth that is in it, is external to it, doth not arise from it, but merely depends upon the intention and will of God.” And it is on this ground that Dr. O. accounts for the propitiation of Christ being set forth in general and indefinite expressions—and for “ the general proflers, promises, and exhortations made for the embracing of the fruits of the death of Christ, even to them who do never actually perform it.”—Death of Death, &c. Book iv. Ch. 1.
who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” In the last view, I find the apostles ascribing to the purpose and discriminating grace of God all their success; and teaching believers to ascribe every thing that they were, or hoped to be, to the same cause; addressing them as having been before the foundation of the world, the objects of his love and choice; the children or sons, whom it was the design of Christ, in becoming incarnate, to bring to glory; the church of God, which he purchased with his own blood, and for which he gave himself, that he might sanctify, and cleanse it, and present it to himself. If it be a proper definition of the substitution of Christ, that he died for, or in the place of others, that they should not die, this as comprehending the designed end to be answered by his death, is strictly applicable to none but the elect: for whatever ground there is for sinners, as sinners, to believe and be saved, it never was the design of Christ to impart faith to any others, than those who were given him of the Father. He therefore did not die with the intent that any others should not die. Whether I can perfectly reconcile these statements with each other, or not, I believe they are both taught in the Scriptures: but I acknowledge that I do not at present perceive their inconsistency. The latter Mr. B. will admit; and as to the former, I am quite at a loss what to make of his concessions, if they do not include it. According to the best of iny recollection, he acknowledged to me that he believed the atonement of Christ to be sufficient for the whole world, as well as I; and that if one sinner only were saved consistently with justice, it re
quired to be by the same all-perSo, I am certain, I understood him. Now, if it be acknowledged that the obedience and death of Christ was a substitution of such a kind as to be equally required for the salvation of one sinner, as for many—is not this the same thing as acknowledging that atonement required to be made for sin, as sin ; and being made, was applicable to sinners, as sinners? In other words, is it not acknowledging, that God redeemed his elect by an atonement in its own nature adapted to all, just as he calls his elect by a Gospel addressed to all? - If the speciality of redemption be placed in the atonement itself, and not in the sovereign will of God, or in the design of the Father and the Son, with respect to the persons to whom it shall be applied, it must, as far as I am able to perceive, have proceeded on the principle of pecuniary satisfactions. In them the payment is proportioned to the amount of the debt; and being so, it is not of sufficient value for more than those who are actually liberated by it: nor is it true in these cases, that the same satisfaction is required for one as for many. But if such was the satisfaction of Christ, that nothing less was necessary for the salvation of one, nothing more could be necessary for the salvation of the whole world, and the whole world might have been saved by it, if it had accorded with sovereign wisdom so to apply it. It will also follow, that if the satisfaction of Christ was in itself sufficient for the whole world, there is no further propriety in such questions as these —“Whose sins were imputed to Christ? For whom did he die as a substitute 7” Than as they go to inquire who were the persons designed to be saved by him ' That which is equally necessary for one as for many, must, in its own nature, be equally sufficient for many as for one; and could not proceed upon the principle, of the sins of some being laid upon Christ, rather than others, any otherwise than as it was the design of the Father and the Son, through one all-sufficient medium, ultimately to pardon the sins of the elect, rather than those of the non-elect. It seems to me as consonant with truth, to say, a certain number of Christ's acts of obedience are literally transferred to us, as that a certain number of our sins are literally transferred to him. In the former case, his own undivided obedience, stamped as it is with divinity, affords a ground of justification to any number of believers: in the latter, his own atonement, stamped also as it is with divinity, is sufficient to pardon any number of sins, or sinners. Yet as Christ did not lay down his life but by covenant; as the elect were given to him, to be as the travail of his soul, the purchase of his blood; he had respect in all that he did and suffered, to this recompence of reward. It was for the covering of their transgressions, that he became obedient unto death. To them his substitution was the same in effect, as if their sins had by number been literally transferred to him. I am not aware that any principle that I hold is inconsistent with Christ's laying down his life by covenant, or with his being the surety of that covenant, pledging himself for the certain accomplishment of whatever he undertook; as, that all that were given him should come to him, should not be lost, but raised up at the last day, and be presented without spot and blameless. All this I suppose to be included in the design of the Father and the Son; or, in the
sovereign application of the atonement. It has been objected, though not by Mr. B., “how does the sufficiency of Christ's death afford ample ground for general invitations, if the design was confined to the elect people? If the benefits of his death were never intended for the non-elect, is it not just as inconsistent to invite them to partake of them, as if there were a want of sufficiency? This explanation seems to be no other than shifting the difficulty.” To this I answer: — (1.) It is a fact, that the Scriptures rest the general invitation of the Gospel upon the atonement of Christ. 2 Cor. v. 19—21. Matt. xxii. 4. John iii. 16. (2.) If there were not a sufficiency in the atonement for the salvation of sinners, and yet they were invited to be reconciled to God, they must be invited to what is naturally impossible. The message of the Gospel would in this case be as if the servants who went forth to bid the guests, had said, “Come,” though in fact nothing was ready, if many of them had come. (3.) If there be an objective fulness in the atonement of Christ sufficient for any number of sinners, were they to believe in Him, there is no other impossibility in the way of any man's salvation, to whom the Gospel comes, than what arises from the state of his own mind. The intention of God not to remove the impossibility, and so not to save him, is only a resolution to withhold, not only that which he was not obliged to give, but that which is never represented as necessary to the consistency of eahortations and invitations to a compliance. I do not deny that there is a difficulty; but it belongs to the general subject of recon