THE term, redemption of the human family, is with us objectionable,as the scriptures do not warrant us to believe that the human family is redeemed, nor have we the least suspicion that our venerable brother had any such idea; yet the words would bear such a construction. The redemption of the Lord only can embrace those who shall come to Zion with singing and interminable joy, and these constitute the whole family in heaven which are named in Christ Jesus our Lord. Redemption is a cardinal doctrine of the New Testament; it is much talked of, and but little understood, in what is called the religious world; but so momentous in the gospel, that in its absence the gospel would have no application to sinful beings. It contemplates and provides for the maintenance of the perfections of God by due homage to his law, and satisfaction to his justice and truth. It provides a channel for mercy to flow down from heaven to undeserving and helpless sinners on the earth. It delivers the lawful captive in a lawful way, and takes the prey away from the mighty. It unseals the sacred volume of shadows and types with which the Old Testament is filled, and rends asunder from top to bottom the vail of the temple which concealed in impenetrable darkness the holy things of the ark of the covenant, the mercy seat and cherubim of glory. It makes manifest the exceeding love of God, in giving his Son to die, the just for the unjust, in all its beauty and discrimination.
Much discussion and disputation has been lavished on the nature, design and effects of the atonement, on which the redemption of sinners is founded; some have contended that the atonement was general or universal – that it was alike for all mankind; but those who have occupied this ground have made the atonement of but little worth, as according to their theory it absolutely saves none from wrath or condemnation; it only opens up a way for men to save themselves, if they choose to use the means and comply with the conditions; making their will and work the pivot on which their salvation hinges. If the atonement was general, and some for whom it was made are lost, it proves that the atonement saves none; that there is more saving virtue in what the sinner does than in the blood of Christ.
Others contend that the design and effects of the atonement are restricted, but that in its nature it is general, or universal; so that those for whom it was not designed, and on whom it shall never take effect, may be saved by it if they choose, and that their damnation will be greatly augmented in consequence of it if they do not choose to avail themselves of the opportunity. But the bare thought that the atonement may effect more than God designed, is truly revolting. If it may do more, it may be the same rule do less, and so much less that it may fail to secure the salvation of one soul. Who that knows the Lord, can think him liable to disappointment? Among the New School Baptists of America, Mr. Fuller’s theory is thrown far back into the shade, as some of them profess to have discovered that Christ’s death and sufferings made no atonement at all; that he only procured the materials out of which to make an atonement, and that with the stock which he procured from earth, he is now prepared in heaven to make atonement for any sinner that will please to give him a call.
There are others also who, while they profess to hold the doctrine of special atonement for the elect of God, and for them only, in their preaching, exhortations and mission lectures, represent that the atonement has very little to do with the salvation of sinners.
In distinction from all these winds of doctrine on the subject, the scriptures speak out plainly and inform the heirs of salvation that he gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people zealous of good works; and as to the efficacy of this offering of himself, without spot, &c., “By one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.”
Having indulged in a few preliminary remarks on the subject of redemption, we will now attend to the particular inquiry of brother Gonterman. And if anything like originality should be discovered in our views, we trust our brother will not think us designedly singular, as we assure him that we have no recollection of ever hearing an opinion expressed on the points submitted. Premising that what we shall say, will be submitted with deference to the superior light of better informed brethren we assume, and will attempt to maintain that the redemption of every member of Christ, both soul and body, from sin, death, and hell, from the dominion as well as from the penal demands of the law, is secured.
It would be a difficult task to define the soul of man, yet that word which alone can quicken, divides asunder the soul and spirit, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. In all the animal creation there is a spirit, but man only was made a living soul. The soul of man then is a part of what he is as formed or created in Adam, and it is that which distinguishes him from the beasts of the field. Souls as well as bodies were provided for all the human family in Adam, their seminal head, hence unregenerate as well as regenerate men possess souls; yet all that a man can be in an unregenerate state, is what is born of the flesh, as our Lord said, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit.” This declaration of our Lord directs our minds to the two distinct headships, Adam and Christ; the one as a living soul, the other as a quickening spirit, the one is of the earth, the other is the Lord from heaven. Now that life which the saints had in Christ required no redemption; was it not lost; it was created in Christ Jesus, (Eph. ii. 10,) chosen in him before the foundation of the world. – Eph. i. 4. “Blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” according to that choice, &c. Eph. i. 3. “Sanctified by God the Father, preserved in Christ Jesus, and called.” – Jude 1. So being created, elected, blessed and preserved in Christ, there was nothing to redeem them from, as they thus existed in him; their life, that is, their spiritual life, being hid with Christ in God. But the human or natural souls and bodies of all men were created in Adam, existed in Adam, and were Adam, and as such actually transgressed the law under which the human family was created in Adam, consequently fell in him under the condemnation and wrath of that law. Here in one lump, we have presented the clay out of which God has fashioned vessels to honor and vessels to dishonor. Vessels foreknown and predestinated to glory and vessels of wrath fitted to destruction. Of the vessels of honor and wrath, we need say no more at this time; but the vessels of honor descending by ordinary generations from Adam, were those into which by regeneration, the life which was given them in Christ was to be communicated in due time. From these considerations it is clear that all that God’s chosen people were in Adam, became vile, fallen, and cursed by the law, while all that they were in Christ their Spiritual Head, was preserved spotless and pure.
Now the work of redemption was applicable to that which being under the law was under the curse. And as we have proved that both soul and body were condemned and cursed by the law, it follows that both soul and body must be redeemed from that condemnation and curse, and by redemption brought out of their captivity, in order to receive that heavenly treasure of life and immortality which God had treasured up in Christ for them, from of old, even from everlasting.
Having, as we trust, established our position that the souls and bodies of the people of God were the subjects of redemption they being in a captive state, we will remark that the redemption price required, and promptly paid, confirms the view which we have taken, “For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified, are all of one; for which cause he (Christ,) is not ashamed to call them brethren.” Now this language is not used in reference to the natural souls or bodies of the sanctifed, for as natural men they are of the flesh, and they are of Adam the earthly, and in this sense, flesh, and they are of Adam the earthly, and in this sense, not of one with him that sanctifieth; but in reference to what they are as children of God, Christ is their life, and they in him, and by him, are of God; he the spiritual Head, and they are the members of his spiritual body. “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same.” &c. – Hebrews ii. 11 and 14. Their flesh and blood did not constitute them children of God; they were children before, and as children they partook of flesh and blood in the same manner as Christ did, being in his mediatorial headship the Son of God, himself likewise, or in like or similar manner, took part of the same. For as in their being partakers of flesh and blood they were held in captivity by the law, so it was that by Christ’s taking part of the same he came under the law which held them captive. He was made of a woman, made under the law, &c., and this being likewise, or like unto the manner that the children were partakers of flesh and blood, and consequently under the law and in a state of captivity, shows that they were the sons of God in Christ, as independently of their partaking of Adam, as Christ was the Son of God independently of his advent to our wold and incarnation. Not then to redeem the spiritual life of the saints, which was never in captivity, but to redeem those vessels of hone, ordained by (Adam,) of which all vessels both of honor and for wrath had sprung. Christ came in the flesh to put away sin in the flesh. This is what we conceive made it indispensable for Christ to come in the flesh; and meeting the rigid demands of the law of God, he gave his soul a sacrifice for their souls, his body for their bodies. For God had predestinated them to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the First Born among many brethren. Here we have the image. The law required blood for blood, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, so the body of Jesus was seized and slain, and the soul of Christ writhed in sorrow, even unto death, and was poured out to death when he was delivered up for our offences, and raised again for our justification.
In coming into the world, “He took not on him the nature of angels,” or spiritual beings; the spiritual relationship to the saints was not assumed by him in his coming into the world, but a body was prepared for him; and as the children are the seed of Abraham, they were taken on him in a legal sense, when he came under the law; and having taken their law place, he was wounded for their transgressions, bruised for their iniquities, the chastisement of their peace was upon him, and by his stripes they are healed. – Isaiah liii. 5.
But his soul was not left in hell, in sorrow, in darkness, or under the curse of the divine law; so neither shall the saints by him redeemed be left under the condemnation and wrath of the law of God. His body did not see corruption, but was raised up from the dead on the third day; so also on the third day, as signified by the prophet Jonah, shall the redeemed bodies of all the saints of God be raised up from the slumbers of the grave, and the last enemy shall be destroyed.
The redemption of both soul and body is confirmed by the testimony of the word of God. The Psalmist says, “But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave.” – Psalm xlix. 15. “For the redemption of their soul is precious and it ceaseth forever.” – Psalm xlix. 9. The redemption of the body is still, if possible, more clearly asserted. “But if the Spirit of him that raiseth up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” “For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope; because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption, into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now; and not only they but ourselves also, which have received the first fruits of the Spirit,” (in the new birth,) “even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.” – Romans viii. 20-23.
New Vernon, N.Y.,
February 5, 1847
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 2
Pages 749 – 755