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sent into the world for the same purpose for which Adam was created, and that his death was a parallel with that of the prophets, and wise and good men that were before him," yet in the next sentence he says “ But the shedding of his blood by the wicked scribes and pharisees and people of Israel, had a particular effect on the Jewish nation, as by this, the topstone and worst of all their crimes, was filled up the mea. sure of their iniquities, and which put an end to that dispensation, together with its law and covenant."
Now we would ask, why did it happen that the death of Jesus Christ produced this particular effect on the Jewish nation, rather than the death of either of those “prophets, and wise and good men that were before him;" who, according to the testimony of Elias Hicks, were created for the same purpose, and died for the same causes, as did the Son of God ?-As Elias Hicks says that God did not send him into the world purposely to suffer death, it must have been a mere chance that his death put an end to the law,-and as Isaiah, John the Baptist, James, Peter, and Paul, were all “ wise and good men,” and died " by the hands of wicked men for righteousness sake,” we should like to know why Elias Hicks will make the death of Jesus Christ to produce this important effect, in preference to one of these?
He proceeds—" that as John's baptism summed up in one all the previous water baptisms of that dispensation and put an end to them, which he sealed with his blood, so the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ summed up in one all the outward atoning sacrifices of the shadowy dispensation, and put an end to them all, thereby abolishing the law,” &c. “50 that all the Israelites that believed on him, after he exclaimed on the cross, “ It is finished," might abstain from all the rituals of their law, such as circumcision, water baptisms, outward sacrifices, seventh day sabbaths, and all their other holy days, and be blameless," &c.
These surely are astonishing events to result from the death of one who came only to do what every man is required to do, and who merely died a martyr!
It appears, however, that Elias Hicks does believe that this “ topstone and worst of all the crimes, committed by the scribes and-Pharisees and people of Israel, by which the measure of their iniquity was filled up;” that this diabolical and wicked act, was the means of abolishing the Jewish law and dispensation.—Now if it was the will of God that this law should be abolished, and “the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ” was the appointed means of its abolishment, as Elias
Hicks asserts; then from his own reasoning, the Jews did the will of God, in crucifying Christ, quite as fully as on the supposition that he came to suffer death for the sins of mankind.
Let us state the argument in his own language-For if it was the purpose and will of God, that the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ should sum up in one all the outward atoning sacrifices of the shadowy dispensation, and put an end to them all, thereby abolishing the law; which put an end to that dispensation, together with its law and covenant; then the Jews by crucifying Jesus Christ would have done God's will, and of course would all have stood justified in his sight.
But Elias Hicks says all this was done by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ. Therefore, according to his reasoning, the Jews did the will of God in committing this topstone and worst of all their crimes. We have here another specimen of his inconsistencies, indeed the letter presents us with a tissue of them, on almost every page.
If, to extricate himself from this difficulty, he says that it was not the purpose and will of God thus to abolish the law, he must consider the Jewish law as still in force, and to be consistent, he should observe all its rituals and ceremonies. And he has virtually asserted this ; for as he declares that Christ did not come “purposely to suffer death,” and that his death was the topstone and worst of all the crimes committed by the Jewish nation, and consequently very contrary to the purpose and will of God in sending him into the world, it follows from his mode of reasoning, that if this murderous deed abolished the law, it must have been done away contrary to the purpose and will of God-Ergo, the Law of Moses ought still to be in force.
Let any serious person read the account of the delivery of the law to the children of Israel, and the solemn injunctions which were laid upon them to observe all its rituals; and then say whether he thinks it probable that an event which was to annul that law and do it completely away, never came within the design and purposes and will of the Divine Lawgiver ?
Is it probable that a law, ratified and sealed by so many awful and impressive sanctions, could be abrogated by the mere accidental death of a martyr? We say accidental, because Elias Hicks asserts that his death was no part of the divine purpose and will in sending Jesus Christ into the world.
Our readers will perceive from the Scripture narrative that this law partook of the nature of a covenant made between two parties, the Almighty and the children of Israel--as the consent of both parties was necessary to its ratification and
observance, so it was also necessary to the abrogation—it could not be dissolved and abolished by the act of the Jews only, who were infinitely the inferior party.-If therefore it be repealed, it must have been done by the consent and will of Him who first gave it. It was abolished in the wisdom and will of God, and as Elias Hicks declares that the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, abolished it, it follows from his own positions, that the Jews did the will of God in putting Jesus to death.
He proceeds to tell us, “ he does not consider that the crucifixion of the outward body of flesh and blood of Jesus on the cross, was an atonement for any sins, but the legal sins of the Jews; for as their law was outward, so their legal sins and their penalties were outward, and these could be atoned for by an outward sacrifice.”
We have always understood the word sin to mean moral evil—the violation of the law and commands of God ; and we are at a loss to know what 6 outward or legal sin" can mean. If God command his creature man to do any act, however unimportant in itself the thing may appear to him to be, disobedience to that command is positive sin—it is moral evil. The thing abstractly considered, may be neither good nor evil; the crime is in transgressing the law of God, and this must always be absolute sin. If Elias Hicks alludes to the neglect of the Jewish ritual, when he speaks of “legal or outward sin,” the case is not altered. The Jews were as positively commanded to observe all those rituals, as they were to fulfil the precepts of the Decalogue; and the neglect to do so, was an act of rebellion and disobedience to a positive command of God, and therefore was actual sin or moral evil.
Now Elias Hicks distinctly admits in the sentence which we last quoted from his letter, that the crucifixion of the outward body of flesh and blood of Jesus on the cross, was an atonement for these legal sins of the Jews—that is, that the Jews were released from the curse or penalty which they had incurred by transgressing their law, through the atoning sacrifice, or sufferings and death of Jesus Christ, whom he calls “ an innocent and righteous one.”
In admitting, therefore, that the legal sins of the Jews could be, and were atoned for, by an outward sacrifice, and that this sacrifice was the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, Elias Hicks has fully recognized and granted the principle of the propitiatory sufferings and death of “an innocent and righteous one” on behalf, and in lieu of the guilty ; and yet in the same letter, speaking of the Christian's belief in this doc
trine, he declares it to be " wicked and absurd”_"an outrage against every righteous law of God and man, asks whether 6 any rational creature that has any right sense of justice and mercy, would be willing to accept forgiveness of his sins upon such terms ?”
Is this consistency? To admit the doctrine of atonement on one page, and anathematize it, and the believers in it, on the next? The distinction of " legal or outward sin,” makes nothing in his favour, for the principle of atonement is the same, even if we admit the distinction to be correct, which it evidently is not. If the sins of the Jews could be atoned for by an outward sacrifice, and “this too by the hands of wicked men, slaying an innocent and righteous one," as Elias Hicks asserts ; upon the same principle the sins of Christians may be atoned for, by the same sacrifice. What are we to think then of his expressions in relation to those who believe in the apostle's doctrine of the atonement, when he says, that any person "acknowledging a willingness to be saved through such a medium, would shew himself to be a poor selfish creature unworthy of notice ???
He admits the doctrine in behalf of the Jews, why then con demn those who claim it for Christians?
He proceeds in his letter—"And this last outward sacrifice was a full type of the inward sacrifice, that every sinner must make, in giving up that sinful life of his own will, in and by which, he hath from time to time crucified the innocent life of God in his own soul” – Now all this life, power, and will of man, must be slain and die on the cross spiritually, as Jesus died on the cross outwardly, and this is the true atonement, which that outward atonement was a clear and full type of.”
This mystical language of " giving up that sinful life, and its being slain and dying on the cross,” &c. means simply that a wicked man should forsake his wickedness and learn to do well; and the sentiment is thus fairly inculcated, that a man may make atonement for his own sins : that he may go on for years sinning against God, then turn about and become religious, and claim the forgiveness of his past sins as due to his present righteousness. On the same principle, past righteousness could atone for present sin ; all which is entirely contrary to the plainest doctrines of the Gospel. The natural depravity of man, his utter helplessness, and his inability to extricate himself from the wretched situation into which sin has plunged him, the necessity of a propitiation and a mediator, are fully set forth in the sacred volume, Our blessed Lord told his disciples, that after they had done
all that was commanded them, they should say, we are un profitable servants, we have done no more than it was our duty to do.” Now, we are commanded to keep the whole law of God all our lives long, and it is our duty to obey this command. If a man go on in rebellion against this law for a series of years, and is then through the goodness of God, awakened to a sense of his sinful state, and begins to amend his ways-or as Elias Hicks expresses it, “gives up that sinful life of his own will to die on the cross,” can this amendment of life be any atonement for his past wickedness, when, if he had faithfully kept the whole law of God all his days, he would have been but an unprofitable servant, and would have done no more than it was his duty to do? Certainly not- This doctrine of self-atonement, inculcated by Elias Hicks, is no where mentioned in the Scriptures, nor supported by them.
Speaking of the sin of our first parents, he says, “ They don't appear to have been guilty of but one failure, and that it appears they made satisfaction for, at the time of their first arraignment by their benevolent Creator, manifesting sorrow and repentance."
That the transgression of Adam and Eve, merited a more forcible appellation than “a failure or a mis-step,” is very obvious from the punishment which followed it. Now, to ex. amine the assertions of Elias Hicks : first, that " it appears they made satisfaction for this failure at the time of their first arraignment.
This is not only unsupported by the testimony of the Holy Scriptures, but inconsistent with it. If our first parents made satisfaction for the crime they committed, they must have done away the guilt and penalty ; and it would have been highly unjust in their benevolent Creator to punish them for “a failure,” which they had made satisfaction for. But the Bible tells us that he did punish them, consequently they could not have made satisfaction for the sin.
Further, he says, “they manifested sorrow and repentance.” This is equally at variance with the Bible. It tells us that they began making excuses, and trying to shift the blame upon some one else. The woman says, “the serpent beguiled me, and I did eat ;” and Adam, as though he would impute a part of the blame to his Maker, says, “ the woman wbom thou gavest me to be with me, she gave me of the tree and I did eat.”
We are unable to find any token of sorrow or repentance in any part of the Scripture narrative. Adam and Eve seem to entertain no idea of having made satisfaction, or they would not