Below are some quotes about Limited Atonement from one of the greatest and most popular Baptist preachers of all time, Charles Haddon Spurgeon. The first quotes are taken from a sermon in 1858 at Royal Surrey Gardens on Isaiah 53:10 entitled “The Death of Christ.” Two lengthy paragraphs from his sermon make it crystal clear where the British Baptist legend stood on the particularly Calvinistic doctrine, the last paragraph of which is Spurgeon’s reliance upon John Owen to substantiate his views:
Many divines say that Christ did something when he died that enabled God to be just, and yet the Justifier of the ungodly. What that something is they do not tell us. They believe in an atonement made for everybody; but then, their atonement is just this. They believe that Judas was atoned for just as much as Peter; they believe that the damned in hell were as much an object of Jesus Christ’s satisfaction as the saved in heaven; and though they do not say it in proper words, yet they must mean it, for it is a fair inference, that in the case of multitudes, Christ died in vain, for he died for them all, they say; and yet so ineffectual was his dying for them, that though he died for them they are damned afterwards.
Now, such an atonement I despise — I reject it. I may be called Antinomian or Calvinist for preaching a limited atonement; but I had rather believe a limited atonement that is efficacious for all men for whom it was intended, than an universal atonement that is not efficacious for anybody, except the will of man be joined with it. Why, my brethren, if we were only so far atoned for by the death of Christ that any one of us might afterwards save himself, Christ’s atonement were not worth a farthing, for there is no man of us can save himself — no not under the gospel; for if I am to be saved by faith, if that faith is to be my own act, unassisted by the Holy Spirit, I am as unable to save myself by faith as to save myself by good works.
And after all, though men call this a limited atonement, it is as effectual as their own fallacious and rotten redemptions can pretend to be. But do you know the limit of it? Christ hath bought a “multitude that no man can number.” The limit of it is just this: He hath died for sinners; whoever in this congregation inwardly and sorrowfully knows himself to be a sinner, Christ died for him; whoever seeks Christ, shall know Christ died for him; for our sense of need of Christ, and our seeking after Christ, are infallible proofs that Christ died for us. And, mark, here is something substantial. …
I will here quote the testimony of that pre-eminently profound divine, Dr. John Owen: —
Redemption is the freeing of a man from misery by the intervention of a ransom. Now, when a ransom is paid for the liberty of a prisoner, does not justice demand that he should have and enjoy the liberty so purchased for him by a valuable consideration? If I should pay a thousand pounds for a man’s deliverance from bondage to him that detains him, who hath power to set him free, and is contented with the price I give, were it not injurious to me and the poor prisoner that his deliverance be not accomplished? Can it possibly be conceived that there should be a redemption of men, and those men not redeemed? that a price should be paid, and the purchase not consummated? Yet all this must be made true, and innumerable other absurdities, if universal redemption be asserted. A price is paid for all, yet few delivered; the redemption of all consummated, yet few of them redeemed; the judge satisfied, the jailer conquered, and yet the prisoners inthralled! Doubtless, ‘universal,’ and ‘redemption,’ where the greatest part of men perish, are as irreconcilable as ‘Roman‘ and ‘Catholic.’ If there be a universal redemption of all, then all men are redeemed. If they are redeemed, then are they delivered from all misery, virtually or actually, whereunto they were inthralled and that by the intervention of a ransom. Why, then, are not all saved? In a word, the redemption wrought by Christ being the full deliverance of the persons redeemed from all misery, wherein they were inwrapped, by the price of his blood, it cannot possibly be conceived to be universal unless all be saved: so that the opinion of the Universalists is unsuitable to redemption.
The second quote is from a sermon Spurgeon preached the same year entitled “Particular Redemption.” Spurgeon reportedly said:
Now, beloved, when you hear any one laughing or jeering at a limited atonement, you may tell him this. General atonement is like a great wide bridge with only half an arch; it does not go across the stream: it only professes to go half way, it does not secure the salvation of anybody. Now, I had rather put my foot upon a bridge as narrow as Hungerford, which went all the way across, than on a bridge that was as wide as the world, if it did not go all the way across the stream. I am told it is my duty to say that all men have been redeemed, and I am told that there is a Scriptural warrant for it — “Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” Now, that looks like a very, very great argument indeed on the other side of the question. For instance, look here. “The whole world is gone after him.” Did all the world go after Christ? “Then went all Judea and were baptized of him in Jordan.” Was all Judea, or all Jerusalem baptized in Jordan ? “Ye are of God, little children,” and “the whole world lieth in the wicked one.” Does “the whole world” there mean everybody? If so, how was it, then, that there were some who were “of God?” The words “world” and “all” are used in some seven or eight senses in Scripture; and it is very rarely that “all” means all persons, taken individually. The words are generally used to signify that Christ has redeemed some of all sorts — some Jews, some Gentiles, some rich, some poor, and has not restricted his redemption to either Jew or Gentile.
Did Spurgeon accept the L in Limited Atonement in its highest expression, or was he more of a “moderate” Calvinist as many Southern Baptist non-Calvinists seem to suggest? From all indication, Spurgeon appears to accept the Owenic doctrine of Limited Atonement without qualification.