Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Atonement and Faith

A selection from a letter by Robert L. Dabney, to his youngest sister, whom he sought to win to Christ by exhorting her to believe and be saved. The letter was written either in 1840 or 41:

If… you had committed but one sin, some atonement must be made for it, either by your own eternal sufferings or by the obedience and death of an all-sufficient, because an infinite and divine, Saviour. God is pleased to accept the atonement of Christ, and all you have to do is to receive it thankfully, not caviling at the mode or the conditions. This condition, which must be fulfilled before the benefits of the atonement can be enjoyed by you, is one which is evidently proper and suitable to the nature of the case. If you are sensible that you need it, you can formally accept it, in your inmost soul, and at the same time renounce all other hope, and this is the faith in Christ, which is the condition of salvation. By having this faith you do not become any more worthy. It is still sovereign grace in Christ Jesus. But by having this faith you fulfil the condition that God has been pleased to set for you, so that he can then bestow his gift of pardon in accordance with the plan he has been pleased to lay down. Simple as this faith on Jesus is, the carnal mind will not submit to it, and give up all its own hopes, unless by the grace of God constraining it.

The Life and Letters of Robert Lewis Dabney, by Thomas Cary Johnson, first published in 1903, reprinted by the Banner of Truth Trust, 1977, p. 71-72.

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