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The Marrow Theology on the Removal of Legal Obstacles by way of Andrew Robertson

March 23, 2009

The Marrow Position:

1)
“As to the next condemned position, God the Father hath made a Deed of Gift and Grant unto all mankind, that whosoever of them all shall believe in his Son shall not perish but have everlasting life, will indeed bear a sufficiency of worth and merit in the sacrifice of Christ for the salvation of all men, and the removal of all legal bars that stood in the sinner’s way; and that Christ crucified is the ordinance of God for the salvation of mankind, in the use-making of which only they can be saved; and consequently, a full warrant to gospel ministers to proclaim these glad tidings unto every man, and a warrant to all and every one to believe these glad tidings, with particular application to their own souls. But all this will not infer an universal atonement or redemption as to purchase. Neither will the following words infer any such charge,—’Go and preach the gospel to every creature under heaven; that is, Go and tell every man without exception, that here is good news for him, Christ is dead for him; and if he will take him, and accept of his righteousness, he shall have him.’ It is manifest from the book itself, that the author’s design in quoting the above passage from Dr Preston’s Treatise on Faith, is not to determine concerning the extent of Christ’s death, but to discover the warrant that sinners have to believe in Christ, namely, the unlimited offer and free Gift of Christ to every man in the world, which necessarily supposes, that Christ crucified is the ordinance of God for salvation to mankind, as distinguished from fallen angels; and therefore, the obvious meaning of the expression must be, Tell every man that Christ is dead for him, that is, for him to come to, or believe on for salvation; even as it might be said to the manslayer of old, that the city of refuge was prepared and open for him to fly to that he might be safe. And this is what the author of the Marrow, according to Scripture, declares, that every man ought to be persuaded of, namely, that Christ is the ordinance and Gift of God for salvation to him in particular; which is quite contrary to the doctrine of the Arminians, who deny a particular persuasion to be in faith, upon the free offer in the gospel as to the person’s own salvation. Andrew Robertson, History of the Atonement Controversy, in Connexion with The Secession Church, From its Origin to the Present Time (Edinburgh: William Oliphant and Sons, 1846), 49-50.

2) In considering this Act one cannot fail to observe, how solicitous the Fathers of the Secession were to avoid everything approaching to Arminianism. Their object was to oppose those views of divine truth to which the Assembly had lent its sanction, and which appeared to them ” effectually to shut that door of access unto the Lord Jesus which God has opened, by the grant that he has made of Christ in the gospel to sinners of mankind.” This was their great object, but in insisting on the unlimited and unhampered offer of Christ and his salvation, to every creature under heaven, they, at the same time, carefully guarded against giving the slightest countenance to the proposition, to which they pointedly refer, ” that God in sending of Christ had no respect to some, more than to others, but destined Christ for a Saviour to all men alike.” According to the Arminians, Christ died for all, and for all alike, having obtained, as the fruit of his sufferings, that common or universal grace, by the use of which, in the exercise of free-will men are put in a condition to save themselves. In opposition to this theory, the founders of the Secession maintained the doctrines of special grace, and of effectual calling, in virtue of which, those given to Christ from eternity by the Father, are in due time brought into a saving union with Christ and his work. To those thus chosen from everlasting, heaven becomes by the death of Christ, a purchased inheritance, into the possession of which they will ultimately be brought. Holding such sentiments, the Fathers of the Secession, were accustomed, along with other orthodox divines, to restrict the terms,—substitute,—representative,—and surety,—to Christ as undertaking for the elect; and hence, they scrupled not to affirm, that he represented and suffered for them only. But while thus refusing to admit, that Christ died for all, destinated for all alike, they notwithstanding strenuously contended for the doctrine, that Christ “was dead for all,” and dead for all alike,—that is, as they explained it, dead for all to come to, Christ with his grace and righteousness, and salvation being accessible to all, and not only so, but actually made over to the acceptance of all, by a Deed of Gift, which Deed of Gift afforded to all, a full, legal, and equal right to appropriate Christ and all his benefits. Andrew Robertson, History of the Atonement Controversy, in Connexion with The Secession Church, From its Origin to the Present Time (Edinburgh: William Oliphant and Sons, 1846), 57.

[Notes:  Jonathan Moore has argued well that for John Preston (the source the Marrow of Modern Divinity cites), the phrase “Christ is dead for you” denoted “Christ died for you,” and thus both Thomas Boston and David Lachman, and others, have misunderstood both John Preston and the author of the Marrow when they assumed that the phrase ‘Christ is dead for you,’ referred to the simple idea of the intrinsic sufficiency of Christ’s death, abstracted from any divine intentionality; see, J.D. Moore, “Calvin Versus The Calvinists? The Case of John Preston (1587-1628),” Reformation & Renaissance Review, 6 (2004): 327-348. However, that aside, the Marrow Men did affirm the doctrine of the removal of the legal obstacles between God and mankind. Robertson’s work is rich and excellent and should be read by those interested in this topic.]

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