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believe they are made sinners, without their consent or knowledge, which, according to the nature and reason of things, every rational mind must see is impossible; so likewise they are idle and ignorant enough to believe they are made righteous without their consent or knowledge, by the righteousness of one who lived on the earth near two thousand years before they had an existence, and this by the cruel hands of wicked men slaying an innocent and righteous one; and these are bold and daring enough to lay this cruel and unholy act in the charge of Divine justice, as having purposely ordained it to be so: But what an outrage it is against every righteous law of God and man, as the Scriptures abundantly testify. See Exodus, c. 23, v. 7. “ Keep thee far from a false matter, and the innocent and righteous slay thou not, for I will not justify the wicked.” Deuteronomy, c. 27, v. 26. 6 Cursed be he that taketh reward to slay an innocent person;" 'and much might be produced to show the wickedness and absurdity of the doctrine, that would accuse the perfectly just, all-wise and merciful Jehovah, of so barbarous and cruel an act, as that of slaying his innocent and righteous Son, to atone for the sins and iniquities of the ungodly.
Surely, is it possible, that any rational being that has any right sense of justice or mercy, that would be willing to accept forgiveness of his sins on such terms!!! Would he not rather go forward and offer himself wholly up to suffer all the penalties due to his crimes, rather than the innocent should suffer? Nay—was he so hardy as to acknowledge a willingness to be saved through such a medium, would it not prove that he stood in direct opposition to every principle of justice and honesty, of mercy and love, and show himself to be a poor selfish creature, and unworthy of notice!!!
Having given thee a sketch of my views on the subject of thy queries, how far thou may consider them correct, I must leave to thy judgment and consideration; and may now recommend thee to shake off all traditional views that thou hast imbibed from external evidences, and turn thy mind to the light within, as thy only true teacher; wait patiently for its instruction, and it will teach thee more than men or books can do ; and lead thee to a clearer sight and sense of what thou desirest to know, than I have words clearly to convey it to thee in. That this may be thy experience, is my sincere desire; and with love to thyself and family, I conclude, Thy affectionate friend,
ELIAS HICKS. DR. N. SITVAKER.
We suppose it will readily be admitted by all our readers, that the preceding letter exhibits the real sentiments of its author upon the several subjects of which it treats. His ob. ject in writing it, as stated in the exordium, appears to have been, to give in a very simple way,” his “ views of the sufferings of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and what was the object of the shedding of his blood on the cross, and what benefits resulted to mankind by the shedding of this blood.” We would request our readers to notice this particularly, as the letter contains so much irrelevant matter, that there is danger of losing sight of the principal subjects.
As Elias Hicks appeals to the Holy Scriptures as the authority for his opinions, and professes to predicate his arguments upon them, we shall assume it as granted that their authority is finally conclusive. We view them as the only legitimate test of our respective sentiments, and to be consistent with his own practice, he must concur with us in such judgment. In the following pages, therefore, Scripture language must be the umpire between us.
That Jesus Christ “suffered by the hands of wicked men ;”. " that his works were righteous and theirs wicked," are positions which we freely admit; but that his death was merely a consequence of this latter fact, or which is the same thing, that he was no more than a martyr to his principles, is to us not quite so clear. It is an assertion not supported by Scripture testimony, and as it is calculated to destroy our faith in the vicarious nature of his sufferings, we think it unsafe to adopt it.
Our blessed Redeemer tells us himself, and there can be no higher authority, that he " came to give his life a ransom for many;"? " that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.”
Elias Hicks asks, “ Did God send him into the world purposely to suffer death by the hands of wicked men ?”
His object in putting the query in this form, and in declar
ing that the Jews put Jesus to death, merely because his works were righteous and theirs were wicked, must, we think, be obvious to all. It is to destroy, in the very outset, a belief in the atonement—to alarm us with the apparent absurdity of making wicked men agents in the plan of redemption-and to reduce the sufferings of the Son of God in the flesh, to a parallel with those of the martyrs. But Christ himself tells us that he did come purposely to suffer death, and that his death was to be a ransom for many. Now, whether he suffered by wicked or by righteous men, it cannot alter the nature or object of his sufferings--they are still redeeming.
If we vary the query so as to read, Did God send him into the world purposely to lay down his life a ransom for sinners ? (and we shall still preserve the plain meaning of E. H.'s query) we are compelled to reply in the affirmative, or to deny the concurrent testimony of the Lord Jesus himself, and of the prophets, evangelists, and apostles.
That it was a prominent part of the mission of the Saviour, “ to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself,” and “ to lay down his life for the sins of the whole world,” is evident froin the following passages of Scripture:
“ Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows, yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who shall declare his generation, for he was cut off out of the land of the living ; for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked and with the rich in his death, because he hath done no violence; neither was any deceit in his mouth : yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him, he hath put him to grief. When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul and shall be satisfied. By his knowledge (or, by the knowledge of him,) shall my righteous servant jus. tify many, for he shall bear their iniquities'; therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he hath poured out his soul unto
death, and he was numbered among the transgressors; and he bare the sins of many, and made intercession for the transgressors." Isaiah, c. liii.
We have quoted the whole of this remarkable prophecy, because it is so directly in point, that, was there not another text in the Bible to prove that the predetermined object of the Saviour's coming was to offer an atonement for sin, this of itself is amply sufficient to establish the fact, and is a most triumphant refutation of all the cavils that have ever been arrayed against the doctrine of the propitiation of Jesus Christ.
It asserts, in the most positive manner, that the sufferings of Christ were not on his own account, for he hath done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth : that they were for the sins of others; he was wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities, for the transgression of my people was he stricken : that on his part they were perfectly voluntary; he poured out his soul unto death; he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors : that they were well pleasing to the Father, and consistent with his will, for the Lord hath laid upon him the iniquity of us all. It pleased the Lord to bruise him and to put him to grief; therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he hath poured out his soul unto death.
With these assertions, the testimony of Christ and his apostles fully accords, as will be seen by the following texts : “ Even as the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Matt. C. XX. v. 28. “ Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled that thus it must be.” c. 26. “But all this was done, that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Matt. c. xxvi. 56.
As expressions similar to these frequently occur in the narratives of the evangelists, we may remark, that they positively assert certain things to be done, in order that the purposes of the Almighty, as predicted by his inspired prophets, might be duly accomplished; and the things asserted thus to be done, relate not only to the birth and life, but to the minute particulars of the sufferings and death of the Lord Jesus.
To return to our quotations fools and slow of heart to - believe all that the prophets have spoken-ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory.” Luke c. xxiv. v. 25, 26. “ These are the words which I spake unto you while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled
which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning me." v. 44. " And he said unto them, thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suf. fer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repent. ance and remission of sins should be preached in his name, among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” v. 46. " And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” John, c. iii. V. 14. “ I lay down my life for the sheep ; therefore doth my Father love me because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself-I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again, this command. ment have I received of my Father.” c. x. v. 15, 17, 18. Jesus saith to Pilate, “thou couldst have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above.” c. xix. v. 11. “Ye men of Israel hear these words, Jesus of Nazareth, a man ap. proved of God among you, by miracles, and wonders, and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know-HIM being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.” Acts, c. ii. v. 22, 23. “ But those things which God before had shewed, by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, HE hath so ful. filled.” c. iii. v. 18. “For of a truth against thy Holy Child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pi. late, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, for to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.” c. iv. v. 27.
We have quoted but a small part of the abundant testimony which might be adduced from the sacred volume, relative to this interesting subject; and we would ask our readers, whether they can reconcile this language of Scripture with the assertions of Elias Hicks, where he argues, that God did by no means send his Son into the world purposely to suffer death, but only to live a righteous and godly life, and thereby to be a perfect example. If we believe the truth of the Bible, we must be directly at issue with his sentiments on these points.
The coming, and sufferings, and death of the Son of God in the flesh, were events, over which mere human power could have no control--He took upon himself flesh, and in due time, laid down his own life, expressly declaring, “ No man taketh it from me, I lay it down of myself.” The Scriptures say, he was delivered up to the Jews by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, and that whatsoever they did against