“The doctrine of atonement, as held by the Calvinists, is often represented by Dr. Priestley as detracting from the goodness of God, and as inconsistent with his natural placability. He seems always to consider this doctrine as originating in the want of love, or, at least, of a sufficient degree of love: as though God could not find in his heart to show mercy without a price being paid for it. “Even the elect,” says he, “according to their system, cannot be saved, till the utmost effects of the Divine wrath have been suffered for them by an innocent person”
On this subject, a Calvinist might, without presumption, adopt the language of our Lord to the Jews: “I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me.” Nothing can well be a greater misrepresentation of our sentiments than this which is constantly given. These writers cannot be ignorant that Calvinists disavow considering the death of Christ as a cause of Divine love or goodness. On the contrary, they always maintain that Divine love is the cause, the first cause of our salvation, and of the death of Christ, to that end.
They would not scruple to allow that God had love enough in his heart to save sinners without the death of his Son, had it been consistent with righteousness; but that, as receiving them to favour without some public expression of displeasure against their sin would have been a dishonour to his government, and have afforded an encouragement for others to follow their example, the love of God wrought in a way of righteousness; first giving his only begotten Son to become a sacrifice, and then pouring forth all the fulness of his heart through that appointed medium.
The incapacity of God to show mercy without an atonement, is no other than that of a righteous governor, who, whatever good-will he may bear to an offender, cannot admit the thought of passing by the offence, without some public expression of his displeasure against it; that, while mercy triumphs, it may not be at the expense of law and equity, and of the general good.”
Excerpt From “The Calvinistic and Socinian Systems Examined and Compared”, 1802
Fuller, Andrew, The Works of Andrew Fuller. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 2007.