Having finished transcribing part one, chapter three of Hosea Ballou’s Treatise on Atonement, I move (at Dan Harper’s invitation) to part three, chapter two. The sections are individually longer, so I will type out and post three at a time, rather than five as before.
155. The objection from the force of unlimited words. One of the objections on which the enemies of universal holiness and happiness put much dependence, and which they frequently urge against the doctrine, is stated from the force of unlimited words, as they find a few of them in scripture applied to the misery of the wicked. The forces of this objection I remove by proving that unlimited words are applied to things and events which are not strictly eternal or endless; and surely the candid reader will acknowledge this way of reasoning is just, and by no means evasive. I shall not labor this point largely, for it has been done faithfully by an able author whose works are among us.
156. The everlasting covenant not unlimited. I will only introduce a few scriptures, and make some observations on them for the benefit of those of my readers who have not seen the masterly work referred to. (See Genesis., xvii. 7, 8.) â€œAnd I will establish my covenant between me and thee, and thy see after thee in their generations, for an everlasting covenant; to be a God unto thee and thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy see after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.â€ (Verse 13.) â€œHe that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised; and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.â€ In the above passage the land of Canaan is called an everlasting possession. Will my opponent contend the word everlasting here means an endless duration? Will he contend that Abraham now possesses the land wherein he was then a stranger, or that his seed do, or will, possess that land as long as God exists? If not, then the objection is given up.
Again, the covenant of circumcision of the flesh is called an everlasting covenant. Will the objector contend that the covenant of circumcision in the flesh is now in force, and that it will remain in force as long as God exists? It is evident, from scripture, that these ordinances and this covenant are removed, and succeeded by a covenant which is called a better one. (See Heb. viii. 6, 7, 8.) â€œBut now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the Mediator of a better covenant which was established upon better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he saith, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.â€ (Chap. ic. 10.)
157. Other instances cited. The apostle argues that the ordinances of the first covenant were imposed on the people until the time of reformation. (Gen. xlviii. 3, 4.) â€œAnd Jacob said unto Joseph, God Almighty appeared unto me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and blessed me; and said unto me, behold, I will make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, and I will make of thee a multitude of people; and will give this land to thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession.â€ And he further said, in the blessing of Joseph, â€œThe blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bounds of the everlasting hills.â€ (Exod. xl. 15.) â€œAnd thou shalt anoint them (Aaron’s sons) as thou didst anoint their father, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office; for their anointing shall surely be an everlasting priesthood throughout their generations.â€ (Lev. xvi. 34.) â€œAnd this shall be an everlasting statute unto you, to make an atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins once a year. And he did as the Lord commanded Moses. â€œ The reader may learn the abolishment of the priesthood, from Heb. vii. 11, 12. â€œIf, therefore, perfection were by the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.â€ (Jonah ii. 6.) â€œI went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me forever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O Lord my God.â€ Many more passages might be quoted to clear this point of argument, if more were necessary; but depending some, as I ought to, on the candor of my reader, I forbear to be tedious.