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ARTICLE II.-THE ATONEMENT AS THE BASIS OF REDEMPTION.
"STRANGE," said Abelard, "that God should be reconciled to men by the death of his Son, which ought to have incensed him the more against them." To remove this "strangeness," to show how God is propitiated by the Atonement; or (dropping every expression that implies change in the Eternal mind), to show what the Atonement has to do with God's willingness to pardon; in what relation the atoning purpose stands in God's own nature, to Love, on the one hand, and Justice on the other this is the great problem of the Atonement. In a previous Article* we attempted a solution. If we failed, we do not stand alone, for surely many have failed before us.
Perhaps the chief value of a right solution lies in its bearing on the question which we now propose to take up. How is man reconciled to God by the Atonement? What is the connection between the Atonement and Redemption?
Retaining as the fundamental idea of the Atonement, the Revelation of God's character in that work of Christ which manifests his Love, and both manifests and satisfies his Justice, we add the following as the definition of Redemption : Restoration from the fall, and exaltation to heavenly bliss. It is not simple restoration. It is not enough to say that "God made the world right side up; the Devil turned it upside down; and God in redemption sets it right side up again.". The redeemed man is not an Adam in Eden, but a saint in heaven. The word redemption is often used to denote both process in man and the divine plan and means by which the process is carried on, but redemption as a matter of history, as a fact in time, is the completed process of salvation, as is indicated in Eph. iv. 30: "Whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.”
Atonement and Redemption are then easily distinguishable. Atonement terminates in God; redemption in man. Atonement
*The Atonement as a Revelation. New Englander, April, 1864, Vol. xxiii., p. 265.
propitiates; redemption saves. Atonement harmonizes God's attributes; redemption harmonizes man with God. Atonement opens heaven; redemption fills it. Atonement is wholly objective, presupposing no change of character in man,-Light shining, though the darkness comprehend it not (John i. 5); redemption wholly subjective, Light within, (Eph. v. 8). Atonement is a cause; redemption the effect. That fountain which, had its streams been utterly lost in the arid desert of human sin, would have sparkled forever near the throne of God with the beauty and glory of Divine forgiveness-that fountain is the Atonement. But its streams are not lost; they are filling the world with beauty and fruitfulness. This is the beginning of Redemption. In discussing the connection between the Atonement and Redemption, we set aside at the outset, as inadequate, the two following views: 1. That the influence of the Atonement upon the actual course of redemption is confined to the view which it affords of the inexorableness of Divine justice without expiation, and of the greatness of Divine Love in undertaking the necessary expiation.
This view is inadequate on the side of justice, because it omits from the Atonement the example of Christ's holy life, and emphasizes only the necessity of some atonement. At the cross we see how much was required to remove the obstacles which in God's own heart justice puts in the way of love, and that is all. But what we seek is, not simply the influence of God's justice on the hearts of men as seen in the need of propitiation, but the influence and scope of that particular mode of propitiation found in the Atonement. How is the process of Atonement connected with the process of Redemption?
This view is also inadequate on the side of Love, because it rests in the simple fact of Divine love, without showing how that love reaches human hearts through the Atonement. It fails to show the wisdom of the Atonement considered as a means of securing a response from man to the love of God.
In general the view fails to connect intimately the work of the Holy Spirit with the atoning work of Christ. There is a mere succession of offices. Atonement being finished, the Holy Spirit is at liberty to enter on his work. He renews and
saves man, using the atonement only as a means of impressing upon the heart God's inexorable justice and boundless mercy. Whatever other use he makes of the earthly life of Jesus, is outside of the Atonement.
2. The other view, which we set aside, nearly identifies Redemption with Atonement. According to this view the atoning work of Christ did not end on Calvary, but extends to the end of human history. He atones by reconciling us to God, making us at one with him. The view of such a blessed result is all the propitiation that God requires, and the work itself under the inspiring life of Jesus needs no other governmental expedient to steady it. We set this view aside because if Redemption is Atonement, then we cannot reasonably speak of the connection between the two. Moreover the concurrent testimony of scripture makes the atonement "finished" at the death of Christ; and even if it be granted that redemption is propitiatory as truly as the atonement, yet it would be only a finite addition to an infinite propitiation. If the Atonement was finished at Jesus' death, then Redemption is not Atonement. We have not ascribed the foregoing views to particular authors, hoping thereby to escape misrepresentation. If no one will own them, let them stand as imaginary errors—a mere foil for the truth. Nor do we mean to imply that they exhaust what has been written on this subject. Much that is current will be found, we hope, in what follows. We deprecate an originality which finds nothing right and good in that which is common.
We wish now to exhibit the main points of connection between Atonement and Redemption, and we hope to find not only a succession of events, not only an outside connection, a connection as a whole, but a close internal connection; and that the Atonement not only opens the way to salvation, but is the way; that the atoning work of Christ in both its supernatural and moral features is linked with the work of recovering and saving man; that the ladder on which God descends to earth, is the very same on which man ascends to heaven. Our first proposition is:
I. Redemption has its starting-point and germ in the In
carnation, in rescuing the human nature of the Son of Mary. Humanity was employed by Deity in making Atonement. That it might be so employed, a vital and indissoluble union was effected. Now what was the moral condition of this humanity so employed, and to be retained forever in union with Deity? It was sinless. God would not make a polluted nature the organ of his atoning work, and would not retain such pollution in eternal alliance with himself. The human nature of Jesus was sinless from the first. The address to Mary was "that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." Luke i. 35. The very union of God with human nature, at its first touch brings perfect holiness. But if the human nature of Christ was perfectly holy from the first, what shall we call the process by which this holiness was secured? Was it not restoration from the fall? Without this union of natures, Mary's son would have been a sinner as she herself was. Here then was a case of Redemption. If not, then there never was one, and never will be. All suppositions about a human soul, specially created for the incarnation, are purely gratuitous and inconsistent with the simple narrative, but if any believe in the immediate creation of all human souls, they may still see redemption here, in that the human soul of Jesus was, after its creation, rescued or prevented from a course of sin. In the incarnation we find this one great FACT, that for the first time since the fall of Adam, there is a human soul in our world perfectly free from sin. Here is no theory, but a glorious fact; no mere possibility of redemption, but redemp. tion itself.
It may be felt as an objection that all this took place before the Atonement was completed, and that the process was entirely different from Redemption in other cases. But as to the mat
ter of time, it is enough to say that the Redemption of Christ's human nature was not completed till the redemption of his body in the resurrection, i. e. till after the Atonement. As to the difference in mode or process, of what account is this difference so long as the result is the same? Could not God redeem one by incorporating it into a special union with himself, and redeem others through that one in a different way? It is
natural that the beginning of Redemption should be different from its continuance; that the seed germ should differ from the mere branch. As the first Adam commenced his being differently from all his descendants and yet shared their nature, so the second Adam commenced differently from all his spiritual seed, yet are they one. As the first Adam commenced the race without guilt, so the second commenced Redemption without pardon.
This fact then stands as the first great fact of redemption, that the human nature of Christ is redeemed by that act of incarnation which is the starting point of the Atonement. The process of Atonement wraps up in itself, as a seed its germ, the first outgrowth of Redemption.
II. Redemption extends from the human nature of Christ over the race, supernaturally by the Holy Spirit, and morally by the example of Christ.
Our starting point, where we may stand firmly, is the actual redemption of a portion of humanity by the Incarnation. But how shall the rest of humanity be reached? Not by a repetition of the incarnation in the case of each individual saved. This would deprive Christ of his rank as Second Adam. It would make him only the Saviour of himself. Shall redemption spread by natural descent? This would be flagrantly contrary to fact. "Who shall declare his generation for he was cut off out of the land of the living." Is. liii. 8. The character of the First Adam gocs by descent, but that of the Second by the Spirit. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." John iii. 6.
Some of the passages which speak of the supernatural connection between Christ and men are the following: "In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit." Eph. ii. 22. "But ye are not in the flesh but in the spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now, if any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of his." Rom. 8. 9. "Now ye are the body of Christ." 1 Cor. xii. 27. "The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit." 1 Cor. xv. 45.