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hands of wicked men for righteousness sake, as ensamples to those that came after, that they should account nothing too dear to give up for the truth's sake, not even their own lives.
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 measure of their iniquities, and which put an end to that dispensation, together with its law and covenant. 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 this 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, having previously fulfilled all its righteousness, and, as saith the apostle, “He blotted out the hand-writing of ordinances, nailing them to his cross ;' having put an end to the law that commanded them, with all its legal sins, and abolished all its legal penalties, so 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, &c. and be blameless : and the legal sins that any were guilty of, was now remitted and done away by the abolishment of the law that commanded them, for “where there is no law there is no transgression.” But those that did not believe on him, many of them were destroyed by the sword, and the rest were scattered abroad in the earth. But, I do 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; 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; and which Paul calls “the old man with his deeds,” or “ the man of sin and son of perdition,” who hath taken God's seat in the heart, and there exalteth itself above all that is called God, or is worshipped, sitting as Judge and Supreme. 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 the apostle Paul sets forth in a plain manner, Ro
mans, vi. 3 & 4. “Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death ? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death, that, like as Christ was raised up from the dead (outwardly), by the glory of the Father, even so we,” having by the spiritual baptism witnessed a death to sin, shall know a being raised up spiritually and walk in newness of life.
But the primitive Christian Church having soon after the apostles' days, turned away from the true and only sufficient guide, the Spirit of Truth, that Jesus commanded his disciples to wait for, and not attempt to do any thing until they had received it, but assured them that when they had received it, it would be a complete and sufficient rule, without the addition of any other thing, as it would lead them and guide them in all truth. And to its sufficiency, John, the beloved apostle, bore this noble and exalted testimony, in full accordance with his Divine Master, in this emphatic language to his fellow believers : “ Ye have an unction from the Holy One, and need not that any man teach you, but as the same anointing teacheth you, which is truth, and is no lie.” But the believers, by too much looking to their old traditions, soon lost sight of or neglected fully to attend, as they ought to have done, to their inward guide, turned their attention outward to the letter, which always killeth those who lean upon it as a rule. Hence, the successors of those meek and self-denying followers of the esample and commands of Jesus, apostatised from the simplicity of the Gospel, by which the unity was broken, and they soon became divided into sects and parties, and persecuted each other; and invented and promulgated inconsistent and unsound doctrines, such as original sin, certifying that all Adam's offspring was condemned to eternal punishment for one mis-step of our first parents; for 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 : which seems to be fairly implied by the sequel of the interview between them ; for it is said he clothed them with coats of skin, to hide their nakedness, which is an emblem of durable clothing, and as their nakedness was not an outward one, but a nakedness of soul, not being able to conceal their sin from the all-penetrating Eye of Divine Justice, so when he had brought them, througb conviction, to see their error and repent of it, he was reconciled to them, and clothed them again with his Holy Spirit. And inasmuch as those idle promulgators of original sin, 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 theę 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. SHOEMAKER.
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 object 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 Scrip. ture 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 from 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 justify 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