The Atonement


When selfish, narrow minded man the mighty works of God would scan
He’s sure to estimate the whole in keeping with his narrow soul,
Till he, by truth divine, advance into the infinite expanse
That lies beyond his shallow thought, and face to face with God be brought
To measure, by Jehovah’s strength, the height, the depth, the breadth and length
Of all His works, which, every one, are worthy of their Author done.

God’s works are perfect; therefore man, who is imperfect, never can
Their fullness infinite explore. But, gazing on them, must adore,
Ascribing wisdom, honour, might, to Him who reigns in heaven’s light.
Then let us, with the consciousness of all our own unworthiness,
And with a deeper, holier sense of what God is, with reverence
Approach His mightiest work, that we may meditate thereon, and He
May condescend to shed some ray of light divine to chase away
The misty notions all abroad about this wondrous work of God,
Which yet is as the purest light shed freely on the darkest night,
Wherein God’s glories shine so clear that sinless seraphs cannot bear
The sight; while we, as in a glass behold them dimly, till we pass
To where no veil shall intervene, nor cloud nor darkness come between;
But face to face, before the throne, we’ll know as we ourselves are known.

Part One
When God the earth’s foundations laid, and at their bounds the proud waves stayed,
With angels’ shout the heavens rang, the morning stars together sang.
And why such joy? Did He not know it yet would be a scene of woe,
Of misery, and grief, and pain, where sin e’en unto death would reign?
Yes! From the first He knew the last; with Him the future, present, past
Is all one vast eternal ‘now’! Who dares to say, “He knew not how
Sin would His fair creation mar, and from his presence man debar?”
Then how could He the secret keep which would have made those angels weep
Instead of sing? Would He thus show His power alone, and make them know
The vengeance of His dreadful ire, to punish with eternal fire
Rebellious creatures? No! They knew that He with whom they had to do
Was the Almighty, and that He sin in His presence could not see.
When Satan and his host rebelled, His awful wrath they had beheld,
As o’er the battlements of heaven they from their ancient seat were driven,
To prove the vengeance they had dared, where Justice had their place prepared.
But in His heart there reigned a love, that reached beyond the realms above,
And thus He did this world destine to be the scene where it should shine
In all its rich and full display, for which the curse but paved the way.

Though all th’infernal host combined and sin and death were with them joined
To do their worst, in hellish hate God’s will and purpose to frustrate,
Their efforts, though they wist it not, that very will and purpose wrought
A world which nought but sin did yield alone could be a fitting field
On whose dark scene to demonstrate the love so rich, so free, so great
That filled His heart – a love that would reach far beyond the just and good,
And with its circle circumscribe each nation, kindred, tongue, and tribe
And for His boundless mercy’s sake for all their sins atonement make
Provide salvation for the lost free, yet at an infinite cost;
Yea, overcome the sinner’s heart, and love, where hatred reigned, impart
And people heaven with a throng of pardoned rebels, to prolong
To all eternity the lays of their Redeemer’s glorious praise.

That love’s meridian height – the Cross with all its wondrous gain and loss,
Where Christ endured the grief and shame gives answer to each righteous claim.
There, on the bleeding Sacrifice, the sinner looks with tear dimmed eyes.
That God should love a rebel so that Christ for him endured such woe –
Is more than what his heart can bear; ’tis melted, and made captive there,
The work is done – his sins forgiven – he’s born of God – an heir of heaven.
Thus, o’er His sin-made suffering Son, God and the sinner are “at one”.
O matchless love! O wondrous plan! Through which to rescue ruined man.

The power of God creation shows, His wisdom Nature doth disclose,
But by th’atonement He has shown His love, which else had been unknown.
His power into existence brought the worlds. Incomprehensive thought!
When chaos reigned in ceaseless night His voice was heard: “Let there be light!”
And light, without sun, moon, or star, burst forth and chased the darkness far.
His hand with beauty decked the scene which void and shapeless erst had been.
He breathed on Adam’s cold, clay frame and he a living soul became.
Was power exhausted as He stood and viewing all, pronounced it good?
Or was His wisdom at an end when nature’s laws He made to blend,
And caused the worlds through pathless space harmoniously to run their race?
No! Though in these in vast degree His wisdom and His power we see,
They are but glimmers, faint and dim, of what of these reside in Him.
But more His love could not have done than yielded up His only Son.
And why so much? For nothing less could meet His claims in righteousness.
Angels could not for sin atone, or Jesus ne’er had left the throne;
For though they each a life had given till empty were the realms of heaven,
E’en all could not have purged one sin, and brought the pardoned sinner in,
Arrayed in garments pure and white, to dwell in heaven’s unsullied light.

Had man but one wrong action done, none but the great Eternal’s Son
Could for that single sin atone; and then He must be left alone;
To sink beneath Heaven’s angry wave, with none to pity, none to save,
Till, overpowered by death and hell, He conquered, but, to conquer, fell;
And in their own deep, dark domain must over them the victory gain,
And to His girdle bind their keys, e’re He their prisoner could release.
Or were there worlds for every star that glimmers in the distance far,
And myriad souls contained in each whose number thought could never reach
All burdened with a heavy load of guilt, and ‘neath the wrath of God,
God’s Lamb, upon the altar laid, for all atonement could have made.
Yea, if for demons He had died, He would for them have satisfied
God’s utmost claim, and made them meet around His throne to take their seat,
Not as before, with wing-veiled face, but, through the riches of His grace,
To rank among that blood bought throng who sing for aye redemption’s song.

Let none the ransom under-rate or vainly try to estimate
What Jesus on the cross endured ere man’s salvation was procured
‘Twas infinite! We might as well attempt to reach the gates of hell,
And see the lost in pain and woe, who must for evermore be so;
Then try to count th’eternal years, and sum the sighs, the groans, and tears
Which shall befall but one lost soul while these eternal ages roll;
Then, if the sum our mind could gain a multiplier we’d obtain
If we could count the myriad host who through the fall of man were lost
But vain the task to try to sum the sufferings which would have come
On all mankind lost through the fall! Yet satisfaction for it all
God has received; and hence He can extend to every fallen man
Salvation – pardon full and free – which is his own the moment he,
Lost, ruined, helpless, and undone, believes on Jesus, God’s dear Son.

The atonement was no business act in which the Saviour did contract
To undergo so many pains that He might cleanse so many’s stains
He gave His all – His life’s blood flowed to reconcile the world to God.
Twixt God and man, to close the rent, the spotless Lamb of God was sent.
If all the sins of Adam’s race, with perfect justice to each case,
In Heaven’s balances were laid, they would be utterly outweighed
By Jesus’ death. The value lies all in the infinite sacrifice;
When Christ for man was crucified, the Creator for the creature died.

The vail within God’s house of old that hid the mercy seat of gold
With cherubim was strangely wrought which sadly to the memory brought
The gate of Eden, where these stood with flaming sword lest man intrude
And showed that Justice veiled God’s face and stayed the current of His grace.
But, when the veil was rent in twain, these creatures were beheld again
No more a terror to the heart but of the mercy seat a part,
Beneath their wings the sprinkled blood, inviting sinners near to God.
The Atonement is the mercy seat where God the guilty one can meet
And show him how his sins are gone through what the Lord of life hath done.
There Truth and Mercy meet together, justice and peace have kissed each other,
God’s attributes are harmonized and in His boundless love baptized;
There Justice, which we once did fear, with outstretched hands invites us near,
The Cross is now God’s trysting place where He can meet with man in grace;
Where, on the ground of Jesus’ blood, the world may drink of Mercy’s flood,
And every soul by sin defiled to God in Christ be reconciled.

What means a universal call if there be not enough for all?
As if the Saviour passed some by while He for others’ sins did die,
And that, though all are told to come, there’s but provision made for some;
Or that in some mysterious way God means not what the Scriptures say.
Let hampered minds their thoughts expand, nor on such narrow footing stand;
The mighty work of Jesus scan – He “tasted death for every man”.
He “died for all”, that they who live back to Himself that life should give.
He has for “all” atonement made; for all mankind the ransom paid.
God loved the world; and when He gave His Son, it was the world to save.
And though He knew some would not take of the provision He would make,
The foreseen choice of self willed man changed not heaven’s universal plan,
As, in the love that moved His heart all in the atonement had a part.
Some will be lost, and rescued some, yet “Whosoever will may come.”
If not, He only mocks their fate who presses all, “ere ’tis too late”,
To trust a work not for them done, to take a pardon while there’s none,
To fly from hell without a way, or perish if they disobey.
They never can the sinner reach who, crippled thus, the Gospel preach.
‘Tis he who knows of food for all that only can afford to call
A hungry world to come and feed – all others would but mock their need.
O tell the tidings all around, that every soul may hear the sound –
The atoning work embraces all who were enveloped in the Fall.
To earth’s remotest regions go, and preach to every child of woe,
Impartial who or what they be – the rich, the poor, the bond, the free,
That Christ on their behalf has died, that God with Him is satisfied,
And now is ready to forgive – the simple terms, “believe and live”.
And he who disregards the news, and doth his day of grace abuse,
Shall find the worm that never dies, as in the burning lake his sighs
To all eternity, shall be – “There was provision made for me:
I might have been in heaven above, but I despised God’s mighty love.”

Part Two
The glorious Gospel will effect the gathering in of that elect
Which, long before time had begun God did foresee would trust His Son;
And whom he therefore did destine to be conformed by power divine
Into His image, and to be His “glorious Church”, from blemish free.
But this, though known and valued much, doth not the great atonement touch.
True, ’twas the special treasure sought, but, for it, all the field was bought.
“Christ loved the Church” and in His love did for her die, that she above
Might be the partner of His throne. But she is not the fruit alone
That from the Corn of Wheat doth grow, which He on Calvary did sow.
Think of the souls before the flood who trusted in the Living God –
Of Ab’ram and the saints of old who died in faith, as we are told –
Of Israel’s thousands who foresaw the end of all their shadowing law –
Of nations, tribes, and kindreds who have lived and died and never knew
Of revelation’s glorious light, with whom the Judge shall do the right.
Then, death takes half our race away in infancy and childhood’s day;
These, through the atoning work, are His Who said, “Of such the kingdom is.”
Then let our minds reach on before, till times of tribulation sore
Shall overtake the sons of men, and see the grace of God e’en then
In sealing thousands as His own; then, turn with John to yonder throne –
See gathered there from every land that countless, white-robed, praising band,
Who, in the Tribulation great, for God and truth their lives did hate.
Then think of the Millennial bliss, when Christ shall reign in righteousness;
A thousand years of peace sublime shall be enjoyed in every clime.
When, on the merits of His blood He shall the whole creation flood
With waves of blessing, rich and free, for He shall reign from sea to sea;
And then, as now, for every breath all shall be debtors to His death.
And when that scene has passed away, and all is one eternal day –
When gathered is that myriad throng, who through the Cross to Him belong,
From Adam to the latest one who’ll trust the work on Calvary done,
“The travail of His soul” He’ll see, and satisfied His heart shall be.
And as to all eternity He leads that shining company
From fount to fount of pure delight, ‘mid still increasing glory bright,
Where He shall to their gaze unfold those glories which have ne’er been told;
For ever at each fresh display of love, and grace, and glory, they
Shall fall adoring at His feet, forget all heaven in worship meet,
And gladly to His glory own that, through the atoning work alone,
They have a title to be there to see Him, and His glory share.

The cherubim of dreadful ire, the seraphim with mercy’s fire,
All angels, the archangel too, shall reap eternal blessing through
The death of Christ. For while therein they see God’s estimate of sin
And fear, they also there can see His love revealed beyond degree;
Which firmer confidence inspires, and tunes all heaven’s unceasing lyres,
In loftier strains than e’er before to swell his praise for evermore.

The Father who receives the lost the Son who paid in blood the cost,
The Holy Spirit of all grace, Who leads them to their resting place –
The great eternal, triune God, the source from Whom life’s river flowed,
The goal to which its course doth tend – beginner of all things and end,
Finds in the atonement such a rest as seraph tongues have ne’er expressed.
God’s perfect bliss shall ever be around His shining throne to see
His ransomed through the Cross enjoy pleasures for aye without alloy.
To all creation – land and sea – each blade of grass, each flower and tree,
To fish and reptile, fowl and beast, and to mankind (deserving least)
Each dawning day fresh blessing brings on mercy’s long enduring wings;
And every drop of dew and rain, and ray of light and sheaf of grain,
And universal blessing given to guilty man by gracious Heaven,
And all the pleasant things of earth, proclaim the great atonement’s worth.
But for the atonement who can tell why earth is favoured more than hell?
Why fallen man such good receives, why fallen angels nought relieves,
But all these blessings are no more than earnest of what lies before.
Creation now sin’s bondage owns, but, hopeful for redemption, groans,
And waits the time of joy and peace, when sin and sorrow all shall cease.
To earth O what a joyful day! The long-felt curse shall flee away,
And all creation free, shall raise one universal shout of praise.
The mountains and the hills shall sing, the woods with joyful voices ring;
For Nature all afresh shall bloom, and earth primeval bliss resume.
The raging sea, hushed to a calm, shall murmur a millennial psalm,
And all its inmates peaceful be, alike from fear and hatred free:
While man to man, from shore to shore, “Know ye the Lord,” shall say no more.
And when the righteous King of Peace proclaims creation’s sweet release
From all the curses of the Fall, ’twill to His death ascribe it all,
And, joyful for a thousand years, shall reap what He has sown in tears.

Now let us turn our thoughts below upon the filling pit of woe,
And ask the question-who shall dwell with the devouring flames of hell?
The gate is wide, the way is broad, that leads the soul away from God,
Yet never man in hell shall mourn who has not had a chance to turn,
Whether he be a pagan wild, or born a Christian’s favoured child,
God will not suffer him to go unwarned to everlasting woe.
Where revelation is unknown, and men in heathen darkness groan,
His Spirit will the wand’rer seek, conscience and providence will speak,
Creation will the Godhead show, and God shall judge them as they know ;
And though they cannot Christ refuse, the good or evil they can choose,
And shall be left without excuse; for nothing but rejected light
Shall doom a soul to endless night. But those who live in gospel lands,
Where many a faithful witness stands to warn them from the downward road,
And point them to “the Way” to God, who will not from destruction turn,
Shall deepest sink and saddest mourn, O favour-ladened Christendom!
From thee how many thousands come the number of the damned to swell,
And louder make the wail of Hell. When death and hell to judgment yield,
And earth shall be a teeming field of rising bodies – on that day,
When earth and heaven shall flee away, dissolving back again to space,
Before the Judge’s awful face, they, in their sins, before the throne
Shall stand, while He who sits thereon, with retribution in His looks,
Shall judge them from the opened books. Without one faint excuse to give,
Or reason why they ought to live. “The Book of Life”, whose precious leaves
No unbeliever’s name receives, heaven’s solemn verdict shall reveal,
Eternally their doom to seal, which God Himself can not repeal.
With what confusion, grief and fear, shall they the solemn sentence hear!
Without the earth beneath their feet, or heaven above – with no retreat
Except the burning, surging sea of fire and brimstone, which shall be,
With all its woe, relief from rays of light so searching, and the gaze
Of Him whose love they once refused, and whose long-suffering they abused,
And as to all eternity, in still increasing agony,
With madd’ning grief, in dark despair, through all their sins they suffer there,
The value of the Saviour’s blood they still shall prove is known to God,
And God alone; and shall confess the cause of all their wretchedness,
From which they hope for no relief, to be the sin of unbelief.

If at the judgment, it were seen that all are saved who could have been –
That, to the lost, God’s offered Lamb was but a mockery and sham,
Which they were blinded to refuse, His scant provision to excuse,
‘Twould lighten up hell’s gloomy plains and turn to pleasure all its pains;
And those who into it were driven would not desire a place in heaven,
While even there the favoured few their biased choice would almost rue,
But like the cloud to Israel light, and to th’Egyptians worse than night,
The Cross shall ever stand between the upper and the nether scene;
The light of where the ransomed dwell the deepest, darkest shade of hell.

The arch-fiend, too, the effect shall feel, of having bruised the Saviour’s heel.
He, with his whole infernal crew, in bitter, dire remorse shall rue
That e’er he left the nether sphere to make his blind adventures here.
Hades and Death shall vanquished be, and all their prisoners set free.
The second death, the burning lake, shall all opposing powers o’ertake;
For He who once to death did yield, shall so completely gain the field,
That all His enemies shall be beneath His feet eternally.

Thus all below and all above to all eternity shall prove,
In blissful gain, or rueful loss, the value of the wondrous cross.

William Blane