Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

which the sinner can derive no benefit from the punishment of another. For every person is at liberty to dispense his favour in a manner agreeable to himself. Nor can any one set up a just claim to advantage from the favour of another, without a compliance with the conditions annexed to that favour by him who offers it.

Thus we see how the law may be said to be satisfied, by every offender who suffers the punishment of his own sin, and also by a substitute who sustains the punishment of another's sin. The sinner himself does this by bearing the exact penalty of the law: the sinner's substitute by suffering, not the precise penalty of the law, which is no other than the punishment of the sinner himself, but a punishment which secures the same end as the punishinent of the sinner himself; and this end as we have just before stated, is the restoration and preservation of the authority of the violated law.

XV. In the last place, to conclude this argument, it is of no importance with what disposition, whether of readiness or reluctance, any person bears the punishments of his own sins, provided they are equal to the crimes; since in that case they are sufficient of themselves to liberate the sinner, and need no aid from any other quarter to accomplish this purpose with upright judges. But the great efficacy by which vicarious punishment obtains pardon from God, to say nothing here of human judges, may be derived from extrinsic considerations : as,--if the person to whom the part of a substitute is assigned, voluntarily submits to the vicarious punishment proposed to hirn;—if that punishment is heavy, and brings great honour to God ;-if it is not only an atonement, but

also a martyrdom, and bears testimony to tiie divine commands, promises, and threatnings ;- if the submission to it exhibits an obedience to God, which furnishes to others a signal example of piety and holiness :--if he who takes the vicarious punishment upon himself, is distinguished by immaculate innocence and pre-eminent dignity of person, and is likewise earnestly desirous of the salvation of those for whom he stands forward to be punished. All these things being united in Christ and in his death, gare his death the powerful efficacy by which it procured for us pardon of sins and favour with God. For whatever promoted and increased God's favourable acceptance of Christ himself, as those circumstances did which we have just mentioned, must likewise have contributed to that potent efficacy of his death, which inade it available with God for the object which Christ intended it to accomplish : and this was, to obtain the pardon of our sins, and all other things pertaining to eternal life. Whoever fully understands all these things will easily refute the subtleties in which this subject has been industriously involved by the followers of Socinus.

077

CHAPTER XXII. That Piacular Victims, by a Vicarious Punishment,

expiated those Sins on Account of which they were sacrificed, shown to have been the Opinion of the uncient Christians and Jews, as well as of the Heathens.

HAVING proved that the piacular victims by a vicarious punishinent expiated the sins on account of which they were offered, and shown that no suffi-, cient arguments can be alleged for a contrary opinion; we proceed to confirm what we have advanced by the concordant testiinonies of the Christian fathers, and most learned Jewish doctors; to which we shall also add the suffrages of the Heathens.

We begin with the Christian fathers. They cer-tainly thought, not only that the sins of the offerers were laid upon the victims, but also that the lives of the victims were given for those of the offerers.. The former appears to have been the opinion of: Origen, who from the imposition of hands practised , upon the victims infers that the sins of men were laid . upon Christ. His words are:* ' He laid his hands

upon the head of the calf, that is, he laid the sins of mankind upon his own head : for he is the head of the body the church. Cyril of Alexandriaf represents the same rite as indicating that Christ bore. our sins, that is the punishment of them. But on this point Theodoret is still more explicit :I ' On the

head of the victim the offerer laid his hands, as it ' were his actions ; for hands are significant of ac'tions; and for these he offered the sacrifice.

6

6

6

II. But the Christian fathers believed also that the

* Homil. ad Levit. i.

+ De Adorat. L. xi.

I Quæst. 1. ad Levit:

[ocr errors]

lives of the victims were sacrificed instead of the lives of the offerers. Thus the author last quoted :* • The priests laid their hands, not upon all victims, 'but upon those which were offered for themselves, ' and especially their sin offerings; but upon others the offerers themselves laid their hands. This was a symbol of the substitution of the victim in the

room of the offerer for whom it was slain.' Thus the same writer in another place: ' As thou, says he, 'hast an immortal soul, so an irrational animal has the blood for a soul: wherefore he commands the - animal's soul or life, that is, the blood, to be offered ' instead of thy immortal and rational soul.'

Similar passages are found in Eusebius of Cæsarea :f 'An attentive observer may learn this

very thing also from the law respecting sacrifices; ' which enjoins every one who offers a sacrifice, to

lay his hands on the head of the victim, and holding 'it by the head to bring it to the priest, as offering - the animal instead of his own head. Wherefore its ' language respecting every victim is, Let the offerer

present it before the Lord, and lay his hands upon 'the head of his offering: and this was observed ‘ in every sacrifice, no victim being offered in any 'other way: whence it is concluded that the lives of the victims were given instead of the lives of the offerers.'

And this was the opinion of Eusebius, not only respecting those victims which were prescribed by the law of Moses, but also respecting those which were offered by Abel, Noah, Abraham, and others of the faithful in earlier ages. The following passage, which we have already had occasion to quote, refers to the # Quæst, Ixi. ad Exod.

+ Demonstr. Evang. L. i. c. 10.

6

[ocr errors]

patriarchs who lived before Moseś was born :* For as pious persons, who were familiar with God, and had their minds enlightened by the Divine Spirit, saw that they needed a great remedy for the expia'tion of deadly sins, they concluded that a ransom ' for their salvation ought to be presented to God,

the disposer of life and death. And having nothing “to consecrate to him, more excellent or valuable 'than their own lives, they offered the brutes in their stead, sacrificing other lives in the room of their

own.' And a little after : 'As long as men had no better victim, none that was great, valuable, and worthy of God, it behoved them to offer hiin animal sacrifices in ransom for their own life, and as sub

stitutes for their own nature.' He thought that these victims were required to be sacrificed, till Christ should offer himself a sacrifice for all nations. He calls Christ' the great and precious ransom of both

Jews and Greeks, the expiation of the whole world, ' the victim who laid down his lifet for all men. Athanasius also designates Christ as 'a lamb

whose life was given as a ransom :'I and as the term lamb has an evident allusion to the Jewish victims, so the annexed description shews that this writer considered the lives of those victims as sacrificed instead of the lives of the offerers. The same opinion' appears to have been held by the author of the Answers to the Orthodox ,according to whom the blood of the victims was carried into the sanctuary instead of the life of the offerers.'

III. There is' reason to believe that respecting the piacular victims the Christian fathers were all agreed: * Demonstr. Evang. L. i. c. 10.

+ Αντιψυχόν Ngo@arov avtobuxos. De Incarnat. Verbi. Resp. ad Quæst. 99

« AnteriorContinuar »