“The Scripture doctrine of atonement, being conveyed in language borrowed from pecuniary transactions, is not only improved by unbelievers into an argument against the truth of the gospel, but has been the occasion of many errors among the professors of Christianity. Socinus, on this ground, attempts to explain away the necessity of a satisfaction. “God,” says he, “is our Creditor. Our sins are debts which we have contracted with him; but every one may yield up his right, and more especially God, who is the supreme Lord of all, and extolled in the Scripture for his liberality and goodness. Hence, then, it is evident that God can pardon sins without any satisfaction received.” Others, who profess to embrace the doctrine of satisfaction, have, on the same ground, perverted and abused it; objecting to the propriety of humble and continued applications for mercy, and presuming to claim the forgiveness of their sins past, present, and to come as their legal right, and what it would be unjust in the Supreme Being, having received complete satisfaction, to withhold.
To the reasoning of Socinus, Dr. Owen judiciously replies, by distinguishing between right as it respects debts and as it respects government. The former, he allows, may be given up without a satisfaction, but not the latter. “Our sins,” he adds, “are called debts, not properly, but metaphorically.”! This answer equally applies to those who pervert the doctrine as to those who deny it; for though in matters of debt and credit a full satisfaction from a surety excludes the idea of free pardon on the part of the creditor, and admits of a claim on the part of the debtor, yet it is otherwise in relation to crimes.”
Excerpt From “The Gospel Its Own Witness”, 1799
Fuller, Andrew, The Works of Andrew Fuller. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 2007.