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SOME years ago, in a conversation with that very venerable prelate John Lord Bishop of Rochester, respecting the Sacrifice of Christ, I recited my opinion on that subject from a sermon which I had preached a great while before. When I had finished reading it, the Right Reverend Father, whose authority and judgment both had considerable weight with me, immediately advised me to a more extended discussion in Latin, of those points which I had touched on in a brief and cursory manner in my English discourse. As soon as I had undertaken it, I considered that my first task must be an attentive examination of the principal Socinian writers, with whom I perceived my controversy would chiefly lie. Whoever peruses their works will find them to have formed such notions of the death of Jesus Christ, and of his sacrifice which they always separate from his death, that they have expressly denied every idea of vicarious suffering to the former, and supposed that no favour with God is obtained for us by the latter; concluding that though the influence of his death may in some respect extend to God, yet the efficacy of his sacrifice terminates upon men.
And these sentiments are still maintained by all the followers of Socinus.
Nor is their confidence in these opinions at all shaken by the declarations of the scripture, that “ Christ bare our sins," that he “ died for us,” that he“ died for our sins," that he “
gave himself for “our sins,” that he "gave his life a ransom for many,' that he “ gave himself a ransom for all,” that he “suffered that he might sanctify the people with his
own blood,” that his “ blood” was “shed for the “ remission of sins," that he “maketh intercession “ for us,” that he is our “ advocate with the Fa“ ther.”* They pretend that all these expressions, and any others of a similar kind that may be adduced, will easily admit of a different sense from that which has been attributed to them by the Christian Church for many ages; and that a different one must of necessity be attributed to them, if we would follow the dictates of reason. To bear sins, in the scriptures, they admit, does sometimes denote bearing the punishment of sins ; but they plead that it also signifies to bear away sins, that is, to abolish or remit them: whence God is said by Moses “ to bear
sins,"1 that is, to forgive them. To die for us they consider as not at all implying vicarious punishment, since we ourselves are commanded “to lay down
our lives for the brethren," I if the circumstances of the times require it; though no one has ever pretended it to be our duty to atone for their sins. Nor have the other expressions any greater weight with them. They understand the assertion, that “ Christ
* I Pet. ii. 24. Rom. v. 8. 1 Cor. xv. 3. Gal. i. 4. Matt. xx. 28. I Tim. ii. 6. Heb. xiii. 12. Matt. xxvi. 28. Rom. viii, 34. I John ii, 1. + Xw3 Exod. xxxiv, 7. Num, xiv. 18.
II John iii. 16.
“ died for our sins," as importing that our sins furnished the occasion of his death, and that he died to abolish them, not that he suffered the punishment due to them. They suppose that he is said to “sanc
tify the people with his own blood, shed for the “ remission of sins," inasmuch as,' to use the language of Crellius, * ' by means of his bloody death ‘ he has penetrated into the highest heavens, and by * his care delivers us from the guilt and punishment ‘ of sins.' By his having “ given himself a ransom, ” and “ his life a ransom“ for many,” they understand, not that he suffered any vicarious punishment, but that from the sacrifice of his life, we derive an example of piety, a thing necessary to salvation; and he acquires the right and power to deliver us from the servitude of sins and the punishments due to them. And finally, the followers of Socinus are far from acknowledging that Jesus Christ our advocate really executes the office of an advocate, being of opinion that he is called “an advocate," and said to “make
intercession,” not as commending us and our services to God, but because by power received from God he preserves us, if we go to him, secure from sin and from punishment. Thus the disciples of Socinus, whenever they are pressed with passages of scripture, betake themselves to verbal ambiguities or metaphorical senses, as to impregnable fortresses. In the course of my studies on these subjects, indeed, I have sometimes observed such subterfuges altogether precluded to them by the very tenour and scope of the places which treat of the sacrifice of Christ. Yet it has appeared to me worthy of consideration, whether it would not be possible from the nature of the facts themselves, the death and sacrifice of Jesus, to elicit and establish a little more certain sense of all those phrases by which the efficacy and design of those facts is expressed in the scriptures ; concluding, that, if this could be accomplished, the facts themselves would invariably throw more light on the expressions, than the expressions on the facts.
* In Heb, xiii, 12.
While I was reflecting on these things, it occurred to me that the scriptures speak of Christ as our high priest, and of his death not only as the death of a martyr and witness, but also as that of an expiatory victim, slain for the sins of mankind; that the high priest of the Jews shadowed forth Jesus Christ our high priest, and their expiatory victims, to say nothing here of the others, represented Christ as our victim; and lastly, that it is beyond all doubt, that what was shadowed forth by the types was really accomplished by the antitype. Being fully persuaded of this sentiment, I thought it necessary to examine the sacrifices of the Jews, and carefully to inquire, what is the proper design of a sacrifice;—what kinds of sacrifices were appointed by the laws of Moses ;which of those kinds principally shadowed forth the sacrifice of Christ;—what a very particular selection of every kind was appointed by God;--to what persons each kind was either enjoined or permitted ;-on what accounts, with what ceremonies, and in what place, it was to be offered and killed;—what was the design of the sacred tabernacle, of the temple at Jerusalem, of the consecrated altar, and of the sacred