What is it that Saves the Soul? How Many are Redeemed?
Universalism means all; if Christ does not save all, can His work be called a perfect work? If redemption be universal, and only a portion saved, is it to be called a perfect work? If redemption springs from love, if redemption is universal, love will be universal; but if any be lost, if any be in hell, for whom Christ died, their redemption was in vain, and all Christ s love to them was in vain. He paid their debt, and still their debt is due. He put away their sins, and still their sins remain. He loved them, had power to save them, did all that He could to deliver them from hell, came down upon earth for the express purpose of bearing their sins in His own body on the tree, rose from the dead for them, and ascended up into heaven as their High Priest and Advocate; and after all He cannot save them, after all this mighty, this infinite, immeasurable expenditure of love, sufferings, tears, groans, agony and blood, they perish in their sins, and are cast into hell.
Is Christ really and truly God? Has He all the attributes of Deity? Is He all-wise and all-powerful? Does He see the end from the beginning, and know all things, past, present, and to come? Did He know, when upon the cross, who would be saved and who would be lost? Then what a waste of love, what a useless expenditure of suffering, what a needless amount of agony, if the effect of all He then suffered hung upon the free-will of the creature, and millions were never to benefit by all that He then endured for them. But did Christ die for the sins of all mankind? Then He bore the sins of the men of Sodom and Gomorrah; of the host of Pharaoh, that perished in the Red Sea; of Korah, Dathan and Abiram, whom the earth swallowed up; of the seven accursed nations of Canaan; and of all those who perished in the universal deluge. But all these had died in their sins. Was a chance given them in hell? Did Christ bear their sins on the cross, and afterwards go down into hell with offers of grace to the damned? Had free-will another opportunity, another day of grace, another season allowed it for the exercise of its mighty powers? Jude tells us that such as these "are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire" Jude 1:7. Paul says that "they were destroyed of the destroyer" 1Co 10:10. But if Christ died for all, He died for these, and if He died for these, there must have been some purpose, something to be done, some effect to arise from His bearing their sins. If He died not for them, then redemption is no longer universal.
We have found out millions for whom Christ did not die. A limit is at once set to the universality of the texts so often quoted in favour of universal redemption. If He did die for them, then they either receive some benefit from His death, or they do not. If they receive any benefit, then souls already in hell, who have died in their sins, and perished under the wrath of God, are saved. And if some, why not all?
The pains of hell will surely have taught them to use their free-will better than they did upon earth, and an hour s experience of the burning lake will have made them close in with the offers of grace. Christ would not knock so long in vain at the doors of their hearts as the Wesleyan ministers say He now does at the hearts of their hearers. If the damned, they tell us, had the same offers as we, how gladly would they embrace them. If Christ then died for them, hell has long ago been dispeopled of its ancient inhabitants. Cain, Pharaoh, Saul, Ahithophel, Doeg, Esau, and thousands of others, whom the Scripture represents as the enemies of God, are now in heaven, singing the praises of the Lamb. But if Christ did not die for all these, then redemption is not universal; a limit has been set to it, and it is what we contend for-particular.
Thus we consider and believe from the Scriptures of truth that Christ "laid down His life for the sheep"; "was once offered to bear the sins of many"; "sanctified the people with His own blood"; "loved the church, and gave Himself for it"; and bare the sins of His elect family in His own body on the tree. As the names of the children of Israel were borne on the breast of the high priest Ex 28:29, so do we believe that Jesus bore on His heart the names of His elect when He hung upon the cross, and atoned by His blood for all their sins and transgressions. He paid their debt to the uttermost farthing, satisfied the most rigorous demands of eternal Justice, suffered in body and soul the full weight, measure and tale of the sins of His people, and left not a single sin of theirs unexpiated or unatoned for. Godhead gave dignity and merit to the sufferings of Manhood; and thus Immanuel, God with us, became the all-sufficient Saviour of all that were given to Him, loved by Him, and redeemed by Him.