A Treatise on Atonement, by Hosea Ballou
Hosea Ballou's 1805 work on Universalist theology, edited by Rev. Dan Harper.
Table of Contents.
Return to chapter 2.
Continue to chapter 4, Erroneous Theories of Atonement.
Chapter 3: Of Sin, Its Consequences
In order to have our work plain before us, I observe, sin is the fruits of the flesh, which are opposed to that true light, which lighteth every man who cometh into the world. And St. Paul, as before quoted, says they are manifest; see Galatians v. 19-21:
Now the works of the flesh are manifest which are these, adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulation, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envying, murders, drunkenness, revellings and such like.
These are the sins which our fleshly minds are daily producing, and their consequences are witnessed by a miserable world. By these sins, with their associates, mankind are rendered miserable indeed. Social and domestic happiness are frequently destroyed. Cold and cruel jealousy murders the soft and tender passions of love, as Cain slew his brother. A garden, enclosed by the walls of fidelity, decked with the flowers of innocence, watered with the living streams of love, teeming with fruits of richest repast, and adorned with the vine of future prospects, is laid waste in an hour. Jealousy, like a foe bent on plunder flung down the wall, dried up the stream, and, like a devouring worm, gnawed the vine, that it perished; the flowers droop, and the fruits wither away. Nothing remains but some faint vestiges of what is ruined, serving as evidence of the melancholy truth, that sin has found its way to this once happy place.
Idolatry is the sin of worshipping that which is not in reality the true God. The Old Serpent could never long hold the creature in captivity, if he did not allow him a god to worship, and religious duties to amuse him. Man is constituted in such relation to God that to worship is perfectly natural. Then, in order for the carnal mind to take the lead of the whole man, it must introduce a god to be worshipped, and religious duties whereby this god may be pleased, and make the creature believe that this god is the true god, and that those religious duties are of the genuine kind. But this god will surely possess all the vile passions of the old man, Adam, and those religious duties must consist in certain rites which bear no relation to heaven-born charity, or deeds of kindness. An Almighty, omnipresent, infinitely wise and good, may be talked of; but his wisdom, power and goodness must be denied; and he must be a great many millions of miles off, fixed to a certain place, yet every where present; infinitely wise, and powerful, yet suffers an everlasting violation of his will; possessed of infinite wisdom, yet is disappointed in his plans; loves some of his creatures, and hates others; is pleased and displeased with the conduct of his creatures; is perfectly unchangeable, yet loves at one time, and at another hates the same object. Such an idol will answer for thousands.
Now what are the consequences? Answer, one nation supposes itself the only favorite of God; other people are haters of him, and hated by him. If our God hates those who hate him, we ought to do as our God does, and hate them too. One denomination of Christians has different ideas of the attributes of their God from another; they are violently opposed to each other; they are at swords' points; they call each other heretics, and doom each other to the endless wrath of their God! All such religion is of the flesh; the wisdom of it is not from above, but is earthly, sensual and devilish, and those who possess it are tormented day and night with it.
Reader, turn over the pages of history, calculate the rivers of blood which have been shed on account of religious disputes, and ask yourself the question, Is this religion worthy of a Supreme Being? The devil will have religion, and will have it maintained as long as he can; but then he must tell the people that it is none of his, but that it came from the true and living God, or they will not believe it. It is an object with the Old Serpent to have a great many denominations, and to persuade them that they are individually right, and individually wrong, and to stir up their minds to maintain their respective tenets, and to wage war with each other, which he calls contending earnestly for the faith. Many who profess to be called by Him who loved sinners to preach his Gospel, and who pretend to follow the Saviour in the path of meekness, if they happen to think a little differently in matters of faith they are filled with the greatest vehemency towards each other, which they call holy wrath, or indignation; and you might as well reason with hungry lions, or tigers, as with them, for they worship the beast and they partake largely of his nature. Did they worship the true God, in the spirit of the heavenly man, difference, in particular sentiments, would not hinder their fellowship, and love of one another.
All the religion in our world, founded on the partial principles of man's inventions, pointing out particular modes of faith, and forms of worship, is from the carnal man. Discord and contention ensue; war and fightings are the consequences; hatred, wrath, strife, emulation, and rivalship, rage in the minds of those who possess this spurious religion. What I say is a truth of universal notoriety; and yet, what is very strange, is, people are not convinced of it. As if a monstrous wolf should ravage, in open day light, in the high and low parts of the shepherd's pasture, gorging his carnivorous appetite with the blood and fat of the flock; and the shepherd thinks it is all well, because somebody, on whose sleeve he pins his faith, has told him that that creature is a sheep, and that it will do no harm! How miserable has religion made mankind!
But, says the reader it was sin that you were to tell the consequences of, not religion. I tell you, kind reader, that the religion of which I speak is opposed to every decree of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus which has ever been revealed to mankind, and, therefore, is sin; and that which is attended with the most pernicious consequences. It is this kind of religion which takes away the "key of knowledge"; its votaries neither enter the kingdom of heaven themselves, nor suffer those to enter who would. All worship, which is dictated by modes and forms, as inventions of men, is opposed to the true worship. "The Father seeketh such to worship him ... who worship him in spirit and in truth." (John iv. 23, 24) Nothing suits the carnal mind better than religion; but it must be a child of her own, and must look just like herself. The carnal mind being the hot bed where all the roots of bitterness grow which trouble mankind, we ought to look there for the foundation of all that religion which bears the features of the serpent.
Pride is the most prominent characteristic of a fleshly mind; its religion dictates to look with contempt on those who are not of the same mode of faith, who do not subscribe to the same articles of belief, and are not called by the same denomination; and says, "Stand by thyself, come not nigh me, for I am holier than thou." It dictates to give thanks for not being like others; it boasts of performances wrought with great pains and expense; it boasts of having "borne the burden and heat of the day," and dictates to expect more than others receive.
"But the carnal mind," says the reader, "makes no use of the scriptures, does it?" Always, be sure, where it is fashionable to believe them, and men are despised if they do not. Any thing will do, of which the creature is proud, and is willing to persecute others for not adopting. But ought not men to be despised, and called all to naught, who do not believe the Bible to be the word of God? The Old Serpent will answer, yes, where it suits his turn best; but the spirit of Christ answers, no, in all cases. If the scriptures be not the word of God, men ought not to be despised for not believing them; and if they are they ought not to be despised, but pitied and enlightened. Remember, our acceptable High Priest was one who could "have compassion on the ignorant, and on them who were out of the way."
Emulation, or rivalship, is one of the works of the flesh, and it is enmity against the meek and humble spirit of Christ; and its consequences are pernicious beyond description. In matters called religion we see much of its iniquity as well as in natural things. One denomination wishes to rival another; one preacher wishes to rival another; and how often is it the case, that professed Christians will act more underhandedly to obtain an advantage over a professor of a different denomination than a common jockey is willing to do in order to obtain a bargain. And I will say more, I have often seen in the same churches persons at such variance about matters of their religion that truth seemed not to be regarded in the least on either side; each would strive to crush his brother, until two parties were formed and a whole town sat in an uproar. This is the religion which pleases the carnal mind, but it is death.
One nation looks with an envious eye on the increasing wealth and population of another. She forms a subterfuge, as a pretext for declaring war against her neighbor, by which the two nations are drawn into a contention; a long war ensues, bringing horrors, to describe which would swell a volume to an enormous size. Look on France and England, this moment, and for many years back. Who could calculate one half the miseries produced from the spirit of rivalship between these potent rivals? How many brave youth have fallen a sacrifice to ambition; how often has the ground drunk copious draughts of human blood; the bosom of the deep been reddened with the gore of the slain; and Sharks and Sea Dogs fed on the sons of mourning fathers and weeping mothers; while the leaders of this calamity make high professions of the religion of the meek and lowly Jesus, and are frequently sending out their proclamations for fasts, and for prayers to Almighty God, to assist them in human butchery! "From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not even from your lusts, which war against the soul?"
It is recorded in the scriptures that the love of money is the root of all evil. But men would have no love for money were it not for the earthly advantages obtained by it. Then the passion is covetousness, and the consequence is mischievous to mankind. One, for the sake of money, will steal, another will lie, another counterfeit the currency, and another will murder. Were it not for the sake of property, would men do these things? Answer, no. Then, in relation to what I have before argued, I ask, would men be industrious were it not for the sake of property? Answer, no; then the case is plain that they both act from the same main passion, which is want, and to the same main object, which is happiness. But their minor objects and their minor passions vary. What need would there be of government, were it not for sin? If all were willing to do as they would be done by, what an enormous expense would be saved; as it would render governmental laws useless. But by reason of men's passions, and mistaken objects influencing them, our lives are exposed to be taken by our neighbors, our property pillaged, our hard earnings wrung by violence away, and our midnight slumbers interrupted by banditti, and, in short, all that is dear to us to be taken from our enjoyment.
"He who loveth not his brother, is a murderer." Are not all men murderers? -- do they not sometimes experience the lack of brotherly love? This murderous passion is sin, it is opposed to the language of the heavenly man in the mind; but what are its consequences? Every one endeavors to supplant his brother; no one is safe, in his feelings, while he is in the hands of his brother. When this passion reigns, all the tender charities of humanity are suppressed; all "the bowels of compassion are frozen"; a deaf ear is turned to the cries and calls of the needy in distress; the poor are despised by the rich, the rich are envied by the poor; parents are dishonored by their children; children are abused, and provoked to anger by their parents. The vile affections of sin will burn to the destruction of the sweetest harmonies of nature; the whitest robes of innocence are stained with its indelible crimson; the soul is drowned in the black waters of iniquity, and the whole mind, with every faculty, is plunged into the hell of moral death.
Yet listen to the worst of torments in consequence of sin. "A wounded conscience, who can bear?" A fire that burns all the day long, a sword that continually pierceth the soul, a sting that cannot exhaust its poison, a fever that never turns till the patient dies. "A dart struck through his liver." What ails the sinner? -- why his hand on his breast? There gnaws the worm that never dies, there burns the fire that is never quenched. A consciousness of guilt destroys all the expected comforts and pleasures of sin. How strange it is that after a thousand disappointments in succession, men are not discouraged. O sin! how you paint your face; how you flatter us, poor mortals, on to death; you never appear to the sinner in your true character; you make us fair promises, but you never fulfilled one; your tongue is smoother than oil, but the poison of asps is under your lips; you have impregnated all our passions with the venom of your poison; you have spread gloomy darkness over the whole region of the soul; you have endeavored, with your stupefactive poison, to blunt the sword in the hands of the cherubims, which, for your sake, keeps us from the tree of life.
A mistaken idea has been entertained of sin, even by professors. I have often heard sincere ministers preach, in their reproofs to their hearers, that it was the greatest folly in the world for people to forego salvation in a future state for the comforts and pleasures of sin in this. Such exhortations really defeat their intentions. The wish of the honest preacher is that the wicked should repent of their sins, and do better; but at the same time, he indicates that sin at present is more productive of happiness than righteousness; but that the bad will come in another world that although doing well is a hard way, yet its advantages will be great, in another state. Just as much as any person thinks sin to be more happifying than righteousness, he is sinful; his heart esteems it though in some possible cases, for fear of the loss of salvation in the world to come, he may abstain from some outward enormities; yet, his heart is full of the desire of doing them. A thief passes a merchant's shop, wishes to steal some of his goods, but durst not, for fear of apprehension and punishment. Is this man less a thief at heart, for not actually taking the goods?
I have been told, by persons of high professions in Christianity, that if they were certain of salvation in the world to come they would commit every sin to which their unbridled passions might lead them; even from the lips of some who profess to preach the righteousness of Christ, have I heard such-like expressions! I do not mention these things to cast reflections on any person or denomination in the world; for I have a favorable hope, that there are some in all denominations, who are not so deceived; but I mention them in order to show how deceiving sin is to the mind. It is as much the nature of sin to torment the mind, as it is the nature of fire to burn our flesh. Sin deprives us of every rational enjoyment so far as it captivates the mind; it was never able to furnish one drop of cordial for the soul; her tender mercies are cruelty, and her breasts of consolation are gall and wormwood. Sin is a false mirror by which the sinner is deceived in every thing on which his mind contemplates. If he think of his Maker, who is his best friend, it strikes him with awe, fills his mind with fearful apprehensions, and he wishes there was no such being. If he think of any duty which he owes his Maker, he says in a moment, God is a hard master; why should he require of me what is so contrary to my happiness? Religion is only calculated to make men miserable; righteousness blunts my passions, and deprives me of pleasures for which I long. But it represents stolen waters to be sweet, and bread eaten in secret to be pleasant. In a word, sin is of a torment-giving nature to every faculty of the soul, and is the moral death of the mind.
Well, says the reader, can sin have all those evil effects, and not be infinite? Undoubtedly; as all those evil effects are experienced in this finite state. Thousands who, I hope, are gone to greater degrees of rest than the most upright enjoy here, were once tormented with sin, were once under the dominion of the carnal mind. The effects of sin, as sin, are not endless, but limited to the state in which it is committed. This perhaps will be contrary to the opinion of many who read this treatise, as they are wont to suppose that there are three cardinal consequences produced by sin, viz.: death temporal, death spiritual, and death eternal. As to the first of these consequences, I say: Men die natural deaths, because they are naturally mortal; but they are not mortal because of sin, for man was mortal before he sinned; if he were not, he never could have sinned. My opponent will say that the death of the body is the consequence of sin when one man murders another; to which I reply, one man could not murder another if men were not mortal. Sin cannot be said to be the cause of natural death, any more than of natural life. I will acknowledge that sin is often the means whereby natural life is ended, and my opposer must acknowledge that it is often the means of persons being introduced into natural life. Perhaps an hundred are introduced into existence by illicit connections, where one is taken out by malice prepense. But the meaning of the objector is that man became mortal by sin; to which I reply, if immortality be corruptible by sin, the Christian hope of immortality is a vain one. The death which Adam died in consequence of sin happened on the day of transgression, if we may believe the scripture account about it; but Adam did not die a natural death on that day, nor for some hundreds of years afterwards.
The way in which many have tried to reconcile the scriptures with their traditions, in this matter, appears strange to us; they quote 2 Peter iii. 8:
But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day with the Lord, is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day;
and as Adam died short of a thousand years, he died in the day of transgression. But, in order for the text to read to their meaning, it ought to read thus, "One day with the Lord is a thousand years, and a thousand years is one day"; as they understand the text, the conjunction as has no possible meaning. In respect to spiritual death, I believe it was all that was meant by the word, "in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." But if eternal death were also intended, there was no recovery for man. Why divines have carried this matter so erroneously beyond all scripture testimony, we cannot imagine. But, it is said, spiritual or moral death would be eternal were it not for the dispensation of the Gospel, by which death is swallowed up of life. So we might say of any thing else, even of a momentary nature, it would be eternal if it were never to end. The days of a man's life would be eternal, if they were never to end. The spring would be eternal, if it were not succeeded with the summer. A rose would be an eternal flower, if it never withered. And youth would be eternal, if it were not for old age and death. But what do all such arguments avail? The grand, sublime, and glorious system of God carries every thing away that has its birth from mortality and time.
I have already hinted that sin might have consequences which were not evil, but not as sin. By the infinite wisdom and goodness of the Almighty, sin may be of advantage even to the sinner himself; but I say again, not as sin. If the infinitely Wise and Good intended any one thing for good which we rightly call sin, that event in respect to the divine intention is not sin. I have introduced a circumstance in the fore part of this work in which what we are now endeavoring to illustrate may clearly be seen. It is evident that that which Joseph's brethren meant unto evil, God meant unto good. Now the immediate consequences of their sin, to them, was guilt of the first magnitude. Who could calculate the one half of what they endured in consequence of the wrong which they had done? But the consequences which God intended in the issue of the event were altogether beneficial; and those who committed the sin, by the mercy of God, were made the partakers of the benefits contained in the purpose of him who meant it for good.
Again, it is evident from the scriptures that Herod, Pontius Pilate, the Gentiles, and the people of Israel were gathered together against Jesus to do what the council and the hand of the Almighty had determined to be done; see Acts iv. 27-28. Had Herod, Pontius Pilate, the Gentiles, and the people of Israel any better meaning in crucifying Christ than Joseph's brethren had in selling Joseph to the Ishmaelites? All who read the question will answer, no. But the sacred text says they were gathered together to do whatsoever God's hand and council had determined to be done. Now I ask, was not the determination of the murderers of Christ the same with the determination of Divine Wisdom? Says the reader, I cannot say it was not, and yet, I dare not say it was. I will then answer, the Almighty intended all they did, should be done; but he intended it for a very different purpose from what they did, who did it. They intended the destruction and overthrow of the doctrine which Christ preached, and they hoped the things which he had spoken, concerning them, would fail of taking place. But the means which they used to oppose the cause of Christ were those with which God intended to promote it. They missed of their intentions, and the Lord carried the whole of his into effect. What Christian is there in the world who will say the consequences of the death of Christ are not good? -- or that those who were his murderers, for whom he prayed on the cross, will not receive an advantage from his death, which they meant for evil? Or who can limit the good contained in the designs of the Almighty?
But will this rule do, says the reader, to apply to all sin? I answer without hesitancy that we fully believe it. Food for the body would never please the appetite unless we first experienced hunger; the cooling spring would not be sought for if men were never thirsty; health could never be prized could we not contrast it with sickness; ease is appreciated by the remembrance of pain; and a physician would never be wanted if it were not for our infirmities; a Saviour would never have been praised by his redeemed had they never been in bondage; the song, "Thou hast redeemed us to God, out of every kingdom and nation," could never be sung had redemption not been needed; a fountain would never have been opened for Judah and Jerusalem to wash in, from sin and uncleanness, had it not been for sin and uncleanness.
Then, says our opponent, we may do evil that good may come. This objection has often been stated to me in conversation on this subject. My reply is short: There is a self-contradiction in the objection; to do any thing whatever for good, is not a moral transgression. Had Joseph's brethren been taught of God that it was necessary for them to sell Joseph to the Ishmaelites, that he might go down to Egypt and there prepare for the famine, and they had done it for the good which God intended, it would have been no more sin in them than there was in the design of God. Then it is plain, that to do evil that good may come is impossible.
Again, had Herod, Pontius Pilate, the Gentiles, and the people of Israel intended the good which God intended in the crucifixion of Christ, sin would have been out of the question. St. Paul asks the question to his opposers, after he had argued that where sin abounded grace did much more abound: "Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?" And answers it thus, God forbid. How shall we, who are dead to sin, live any longer therein? If we are truly enlightened into the nature of the all-abounding grace of the Gospel, it causes us to die to sin; and if we are dead to sin, we shall not live in it. God has forbidden it, in the nature of things, and rendered it impossible.
As I have limited sin in its nature, the reader will not expect to find unlimited consequences attached to it in this work. Were it so, that the fulness of the divine law was perfectly comprehended in the mind of the creature and he should go contrary thereto, his sin would then be as infinite as the law transgressed; but I argue that the law transgressed is a law formed in the mind of an imperfect being by the imperfect knowledge which he obtains of the divine law, which is no other than God himself. This knowledge being imperfect, forms a law like itself, imperfect and mutable; and an imperfect, mutable law does not afford data, from which to argue endless consequences. The sacred oracle declares, "the soul that sins shall die"; if it had added and said, "and shall never live again," it would have carried the consequences of sin infinitely farther than the Holy Ghost intended. Sin is death to the soul as long as it sins, be that time longer or shorter. In order to argue an endless consequence, we must first state an infinite cause; and as I have argued sin on a finite scale, and in a limited circle, we must rationally limit its consequences.
I will now state two particulars which the reader will find argued in the course of this work, state my opponent's objections against them, answer those objections, and introduce my second general inquiry, by stating a third objection.
First. Man is dependant in all his volitions, and moves by necessity.
Second. The Almighty has a good intention, in every volition of man.
Objection first. If man move by necessity, why do the scriptures abound with exhortations and admonitions to dissuade from sin, and so many inducements to persuade to holiness and virtue? And why are there requirements in the law, to which man is under the necessity of going contrary?
Objection second. If God has a good intention, in every action or volition of man, why is it said, in the scriptures, that he is grieved and provoked with us? etc.
The proposition against which the first objection stands answers the objection in all its parts. It was in the system of divine wisdom that man should experience a consciousness of sin and guilt, without which the subject of my inquiry could never have existed. If sin and guilt had never been introduced into our system, the plan of grace by atonement could never have been exhibited. Sin and guilt could never have existed, providing there had been no prohibition communicated to the intelligent mind; and, on the other hand, if the mind possessed as much liberty to go contrary to inducements, as it does inclination to follow them, inducements would have no possible effect; exhortations, admonitions, and warnings, would be of no possible service.
If God purposed that man should come to the knowledge of his own infirmities in the way that he does, he must have intended all the means whereby the purpose might be accomplished. And if he designed that any degree of moral holiness should be found on earth, such inducements must influence the minds of men which would necessarily produce it. That God does in a strict sense of speaking require more of any of his creatures than they are able to perform is inconsistent with the dictates of good, reason, and destitute of scripture authority; and has no better foundation for its support than an idea that darkness originates in the sun, or light in an opaque body. But does not God require perfect holiness of man? Does he not command strict obedience, to every jot and tittle of his law?
I have before argued that the spirit of God's law, in its infinite fulness, was above the capacity of man in a finite state in which he was made subject to vanity; and that it was a limited knowledge of the law only that was introduced to the creature's understanding, and that for the purpose that the offence might abound. Then, says my opponent, if you are correct in this statement, does it not prove that the requirement is more than the abilities of the creature can perform? And how can the difficulty be removed?
The proper answer to this question is derived from a due recurrence to the original constitution of man. If I believe that man as a moral being was constituted to occupy this mortal state only, and that his whole existence is limited to this state, then must I conclude that in this mortal state when I find health and sickness, pleasure and pain, virtue and vice, happiness and misery, the law of moral rectitude, all being obeyed so far as to correspond with the law of physical organization which is productive of the natural health of the body, it answers the full extent of its purposes and is as fully obeyed as the Creator designed it ever should be. It is evident that the designs of the Creator in the laws of corporeal or animal nature embrace not only all the health and pleasure which corporeal beings enjoy; but also all the sickness and pain they endure. So likewise in this constitution of man as a moral being, the law of moral rectitude was designed to administer not only those moral enjoyments which are far the sweetest felicities with which we are blessed, but also those pungent compunctions of conscience which are our bitterest sufferings. If therefore I extend my views no farther than man's earthly state, I view it perfectly philosophical to conclude that it was no more the design of the Creator that man should here enjoy perfect righteousness free from the alloys of guilt, than it was that he should here enjoy uninterrupted health and ease of body.
But in agreement with my view, before expressed, concerning man's original constitution as a moral being, in which he was made subject to vanity by reason of him who subjected him in hope, I embrace the doctrine of future, immortal life; in which state man will be as free from sin and condemnation, as that immortal state will be free from sickness, corruption, and death.
We, according to their views, look for present obedience to the divine law in that glorious constitution manifested in Christ, who hath abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel, and who is said, to be, the Lord our righteousness.
I come to take notice of the second objection. There are many passages of scripture which represent the Almighty as possessing irritable passions, like his creatures. We are told that it repented him that he had made man on the earth, and that it grieved him at the heart. These expressions are as strong in their indication of changeability, as any that might be chosen. An apostle exhorts not to grieve the Holy Spirit; and it is not unfrequent that God is provoked to anger and jealousy, according to scripture. My opponent will not argue that we ought to understand those scriptures as strictly and literally true; no man, in his senses, can believe them so, and yet believe the Almighty unchangeable.
Supposing my opponents should give their own opinion of this question; I have no doubt but they would remove the objection, to all intents. I understand those scriptures, as many others do, to be spoken according to the dark understanding of man who is ignorant of the real character of God; and according to the representations made by the law to the unreconciled mind. To admit, in a strict sense of speaking, that God was ever grieved to the heart for what he did himself, or for what his creatures do, is more than I can do, and believe in the perfections of his.
St. James says, With God there is no variableness nor shadow of turning. This expression is as strong an indication of the unchangeability of the Almighty as any that might be chosen. St. Paul informs us that God works all things after the council of his own will. Our being led by a carnal and fleshly mind, is undoubtedly what the apostle meant, by grieving the Holy Spirit; as the motions or volitions of the carnal man are opposed to those of the heavenly; but that the eternal Spirit of God ever felt grief is more than we can rationally admit, as that would reduce the Almighty to a state of suffering.
It is very evident, that the scriptures represent the Almighty in extremely different characters; and we confess we cannot reconcile them in any other way than by the two covenants, or what is the same, flesh and spirit. Our ideas of God, while under the legal dispensation, walking in fleshly minds, are consonant to that character which the scripture represents our Creator in, as wrathful, filled with indignation towards us for our sins, and every day angry. Those ideas which the mind entertains of the father of all mercies when enlightened by the spirit of the new man, and while walking in the spirit of life in Christ Jesus, which maketh free from the law of sin, are altogether consonant to that endearing character given in scripture, of our Father who is in heaven, who causeth his sun to shine on the evil and on the good; and sendeth rain upon the just, and upon the unjust; who loved us while we were yet enemies, and sent his Son to die, in attestation of his love to his creatures; who is good unto all, and whose tender mercies are over all his works; who is of one mind, and changeth not.
Says my opponent, if the Almighty govern all the affairs of mankind, according to his own appointment; if he were never disappointed; suffers no violation of will; but does, in all things, and by all things, maintain and support his own eternal system of divine goodness, what room do we find, for the necessity of atonement, whereby peace is made by the blood of the cross?
By this question, I come to my second general subject, viz., atonement for sin.