I cannot believe that any doctrine of Scripture—least of all the doctrine of Atonement, which is represented in Scripture as the revelation of the innermost heart of God to man, the central and supreme manifestation of his love to the world—was ever meant to lie like a dead weight on our understanding, incapable of being in any degree assimilated by our thought. Certain it is that any doctrine which is treated in this way will not long retain its hold on men’s convictions but will sooner or later be swept out of the way as a piece of useless theological lumber. The Atonement, as Dr. John M’Leod Campbell was fond of putting it, must be capable of being seen in its own light. I grant, indeed, that the fact of the Atonement is greater than all our apprehensions of it. We are here in the very Holy of holies of the Christian faith, and our treatment of the subject cannot be too reverential. The one thing a priori certain about the Atonement is that it has heights and depths, lengths and breadths, greater than any line of ours can fathom or span. It is this which should make us patient of what are called theories of the Atonement. I do not know any one of these theories of which it can justly be said that it is unmixed error, which has not rather in the heart of it a portion of the truth, which does not apprehend some side or aspect of the Atonement which other theories neglect or have thrust into the background. Instead, therefore, of being too keen to scent error in these theories, our wiser plan will be to be ever on the outlook for an enlargement of our knowledge of the truth through them.
If I might indicate in a word what I take to be the tendency of the modern treatment of the Atonement, I would say that it consists in the ...1
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