Systematic Theology - Vol. 2

By Charles Hodge | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VIII.

FOR WHOM DID CHRIST DIE?

§ 1. State of the Question.

THIS is a question between Augustinians and Anti-Augustinians. The former believing that God from all eternity having elected some to everlasting life, had a special reference to their salvation in the mission and work of his Son. The latter, denying that there has been any such election of a part of the human family to salvation, maintain that the mission and work of Christ had an equal reference to all mankind.

The question, therefore, does not, in the first place, concern the nature of Christ's work. It is true, if it be denied that his work was a satisfaction for sin, and affirmed that it was merely didactic ; that his life, sufferings, and death were designed to reveal and confirm truth ; then it would follow of course that it had no reference to one class of men more than to another, or to men more than to angels. Truth is designed for the illumination of all the minds to which it is presented. But admitting the work of Christ to have been a true satisfaction for sin, its design may still be an open question. Accordingly, Lutherans and Reformed, although they agree entirely as to the nature of the atonement, differ as to its design. The former maintain that it had an equal reference to all mankind, the latter that it had special reference to the elect.

In the second place, the question does not concern the value of Christ's satisfaction. That Augustinians admit to be infinite. Its value depends on the dignity of the sacrifice ; and as no limit can be placed to the dignity of the Eternal Son of God who offered Himself for our sins, so no limit can be assigned to the meritorious value of his work. It is a gross misrepresentation of the Augustinian doctrine to say that it teaches that Christ suffered so much for so many; that He would have suffered more had more been included in the purpose of salvation. This is not the doctrine of any Church on earth, and never has been. What was sufficient for one was sufficient for all. Nothing less than the light and heat of the sun is sufficient for any one plant or animal. But what is absolutely

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