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UNTIL of late years the writer of these Letters scarcely ever, in the course of his public ministry, touched on the extent of the atonement. He was in the habit of explaining its true nature, as a satisfaction for sin; and, on the ground of the infinite merit of the death of Christ, making a free offer of salvation to his hearers; assuring them that whosoever believed would certainly be saved. But lately the extent of the atonement has been made a subject of controversy in the Presbyterian church; and some advocates of the indefinite scheme have represented this as a point of such importance as to allege, that those who do not adopt their views cannot preach the gospel ; and indeed their zeal to carry a favourite dogma, has, in the author's opinion, led them to abandon the true nature of the atonement.
In these circumstances, it appeared advisable to draw a contrust between the new and the old doctrine on this most important subject. The writer thought proper to do it in a course of letters to a ministerial brother. At the commencement, he had not determined to give them publicity; but having mentioned to a friend what he was doing, he was requested to publish them in the Christian Advocate. He complied; and now being informed that they have been well received by many, he is induced, by the request and advice of two brethren of high standing in the Presbyterian church, on whose judgment he places much reliance, to collect them in this little book, in which they may be read with greater facility and advantage, than in the Christian Advocate, in which they are mixed up with various other articles in two large volumes.
Extent of the Atonement. DEAR BROTHER,
The doctrine of the atonement made by our blessed and Divine Lord, is, you well know, of unspeakable importance. It lies at the foundation of a sinner's hope of salvation. Had no atonement been provided, darkness must forever have shrouded our guilty world; no ray of light from heaven would have cheered our hearts; the whole race of fallen man must have sunk beyond recovery, under the tremendous curse of a violated law. But infinite mercy beheld our ruined and helpless condition; it pitied