What do you think about this quote?:
. . . The controversy in which I was constantly engaged in almost all my intercourse with my brethren urged me to examine narrowly the foundation furnished by communications made in the Gospel for assurance of faith. This led directly to the closer consideration of the extent of the atonement, and the circumstances in which mankind had been placed by the shedding of the blood of Christ; and it soon appeared to me manifest that unless Christ died for all, and unless the Gospel announced him as the gift of God to every human being, so that there remained nothing to be done to give the individual a title to rejoice in Christ as his own Savior, there was no foundation in the record of God for the assurance which I demanded, and what I saw to be essential to true holiness. The next step therefore was my teaching, as the subject matter of the Gospel, Universal Atonement and Pardon through the blood of Christ. (Reminiscences and Reflections, 24)
I think you’ll be surprised to find out who made this quote.
What this quote gets at is a very controversial issue, both when it was made, and even now. But I really don’t think it should be, what this quote takes seriously is what the Patristics took seriously; and that is the universal extent that the incarnation is presupposed by. In other words, when Christ assumed humanity in the incarnation he didn’t just assume “particular” elected humanities’ flesh; he assumed all of humanity—thus, the extent of the atonement is truly universal, in this sense.
It is this objective assumption that the communicant of this quote is pointing to as the basis for assurance of salvation. He is taking seriously, very seriously, the idea of Union with Christ; to the extent that the incarnation itself becomes the foundation for mitigating any fear of not being one of the elect—since the humanity of Christ vouchsafes that all of humanity has been elected in Christ.
I am leaving many things dangling here, but hey it’s a blog post . . . it is intentionally provocative 😉 .