« AnteriorContinuar »
that an atonement for sin was necessary, and must be insisted on in order to his acceptance of the sinner. This proves that a sacrifice of infinite value was necessary, and that God would accept of no other.
For an atonement that bears no proportion to the offence, is no atonement. An atonement carries in it a payment or satisfaction in the very notion of it. And if satisfaction was so little necessary, that the Divine Majesty easily admitted one that bears no proportion at all to the offence, i. e., was wholly equivalent to nothing, when compared with the offence, and so was no payment or satisfaction at all; then he might have forgiven sin without any atonement; and an atonement could not be so greatly to be insisted upon, as is represented by all the prodigious expense and labor, and multitude of services, and ceremonies, and so great an apparatus, and so great pomp, which, with so much exactness, were prescribed to be continued through so many ages, respecting their typical sacrifices and atonements, and from God's church were propagated through the world of mankind.
That no mere creature could offer to God that true sacrifice of real atonement, of which the Old Testament sacrifices were resemblances or shadows, is evident by the Old Testament. For by the Old Testament it is evident, that that is not sufficient to be looked upon by God as any real atonement or sacrifice for sin, which is God's before it is offered to him. In the fiftieth Psalm we have a prophecy of Christ's coming to set up his kingdom in the world. There, it is said in the 5th and following verses, “ Gather my saints together unto me: those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice" (where we may observe that the necessity of sacrifice is implied). “And the heavens shall declare his righteousness; for God is Judge himself. Selah. Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, and I will testify against thee: I am God, even thy God. I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices, or thy burnt-offerings, to have been continually before me. I will take no bullock out of thy house, nor he-goats out of thy folds. For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains; and the wild beasts of the field are mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof.” But no mere creature can have any thing to offer to God, which is not his already; for all that he has is God's gift to him..
$ 11. That Christ indeed suffered the full punishment of the sin that was imputed to him, or offered that to God that was fully and completely equivalent to what we owed to divine justice for our sins, is evident by Psalm lxix. 5,“ Oh God, thou knowest my foolishness, and my sins" (my guiltiness it is in the Hebrew)" are not hid from thee.” That the person that is the subject of this Psalm, and that is here speaking, is the Messiah, is evident from many places in the New Testament, in which it is applied to Christ; as John xv. 25, and John ij. 17, and Rom. xv. 3, 2 Cor. vi. 2, John xix. 28, 29, 30, with Matt. xxvii. 34, 48, and Mark xv. 23, and Rom. xi. 9, 10, Acts i. 20. And by the Psalm itself, especially when compared with other Psalms and prophecies of the Old Testainent, it is plain, that David in this Psalm did not speak in his own name, but in the name of the Messiah.--See of the Prophecies of the Messiah, a manuscript of the Author, to be published in a succeeding volume of these Miscellanies.
But if it be the Messiah that is here speaking, then by the sin and guiltiness that he here speaks of, must be intended, not sin that he himself committed, but that sin that was laid upon him, or that he took upon him, spoken of Isaiah liii. And when Christ says, “O God, thou knowest my foolishness, and my guiltiness
rifices, ainst thee.lear, o hall de
the set of those dthe contenu
is not hid from thee;" thereby must be meant, that God did not forgive that which was imputed to him, but punished it. When God forgives sin, and does not execute panishment for it, then he is said not to behold iniquity, nor see perverseness; and to cover and hide, and bury their sins, so that they cannot be seen or found; and to turn away his face from beholding them, and not to remember them any more. But when God does not remit sin, but punishes it, then, in the language of the Old Testament, he is said to find out their sins, to set thein before him in the light of his countenance, to remember them, to bring them to remembrance, and to know them. And therefore, when it is said here, “() God, thou shalt know my foolishness, and my guiltiness hast thou not hid ;" thereby is intended, that he forgives nothing to the Messiah, but beholds all his guiltiness by imputed sin, has set all in the light of his countenance, and does not cover or hide the least part of it.
§ 12. Satisfaction for sin must be complete. God declares, that those sinners that are not forgiven, shall pay the uttermost farthing, and the last mite; and that all the debt shall be exacted of them, &c. Now, it seems unreasonable to suppose, that God, in case of a surety, and of his insisting on an atonement made by him, will show mercy by releasing the surety without a full atonement, any more than that he will show mercy to the sinner that is punished, by not insisting on the complete punishment.
§ 13. Christ's knowing his own infinite dignity and glory, and having it in view in the time of his humiliation, is mentioned as a circumstance that is important and of great consequence in that humiliation : John xiii. 3, 4, “ Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God," &c.
§ 14. “ Those expressions of the apostle (concerning Christ's satisfaction and righteousness, and the operations of the Spirit], are to be understood in the common sense and meaning of the words, and not as far-fetched metaphors. For it is evident, that in all this he does not affect the arts of oratory, nor assume a magnificent air of writing, nor does he raise himself into sublimity of style, nor rant in an enthusiastic manner, when he treats of these subjects. But while he is explaining to us these great things of the gospel, he avoids the wisdom of words and oratory, and he talks in a plain, rational, argumentative method, to inform the minds of men, and give them the clearest knowledge of the truth.” Watts's Orthodoxy and Charity.
$ 15. Let us consider how a perfectly wise, holy, and disinterested Arbiter, whose office it should be to regulate all things within the whole compass of existence according to the most perfect propriety, would determine, in case the creature should injure the Most High, should cast contempt on the majesty, and trample on the anthority of the infinite Lord of the universe : whether he would not determine, that in such a case the injury should be repaired, his majesty vindicated, and the sacredness of the authority thoroughly supported; and that it was very requisite, in order to things being regulated and disposed most fitly and beautifully, that such injuries should not be forgiven in the neglect of this, or without due care taken of this matter. If it be fit that the honor of God's majesty should be maintained at all in any degree (which I suppose none will deny), then why is it not most fit that it should be maintained fully? If it would be quite improper and unsuitable, that the dignity of the Supreme Being, the sacredness of the authority of the infinitely great Governor of the world, should be entirely neglected, should be suffered at all times, and to the greatest degree, to be trampled on, without any care to defend or support it; and that the majesty of this great King, as to the manifestation of it, should
be obscured by his enemies to the greatest degree, and that continually and forever, without any vindication or reparation at all; then why is it not most suitable and most becoming, that the vindication of it should be thorough, and the reparation complete and perfect ?
What has been observed, may serve to show the reasonableness of the doctrine of the satisfaction of Christ; and that it is most rational to suppose, that if God did determine to forgive such as had cast contempt on his infinite majesty, and on his authority, as the infinitely high Lord over all, and to take such into favor, infinite wisdom would some way or other so contrive the matter, that the injury done to the appearance or exhibition of the dignity and sacred authority of the great King, should be fully repaired, and his majesty entirely vindicated, and set forth in all awfulness, inviolable sacredness and worthiness of regard and reverence. It cannot here be reasonably objected, that God is not capable of properly receiving any satisfaction for an injury, because he is not capable of receiving any benefit; that a price offered to men satisfies for an injury, because it may truly be a price to them, or a thing valuable and beneficial; but that God is not capable of receiving a benefit. For God is as capable of receiving satisfaction, as injury. It is true he cannot be properly profited ; so neither can he be properly hurt. But as rebelling against him, may properly be looked upon as of the nature of an injury or wrong done to God, and so God is capable, in some proper sense, of being the object of injuriousness; so he is as capable of being the object of that which is the opposite of injuriousness, or the repairing of an injury. If you say, what need is there that God have any care for repairing the honor of his majesty, when it can do him no good, and no addition can be made to his happiness by it? You might as well say, what need is there that God care when he is despised and dishonored, and his authority and glory trampled on; since it does him no hurt? It is a vain thing here to pretend, that God cares only, because it hurts creatures' own happiness for them to cast contempt on God. Is that agreeable to the natural light of all men's minds, to the natural sense of their hearts, and to the dictates of conscience, which unavoidably and necessarily arise, after some very direct, most profane, and daring opposition to, and reproach of the Most High, that God is now angry and much provoked, only because the audacious sinner has now greatly hurt himself, and hurt his neighbors, that happen to see him ? No, this is entirely diverse from the voice of natural sense in such a case, which inevitably suggests, that God is provoked, as one will regard himself for himself, as having a direct respect for his dignity and majesty. And this is agreeable to the strictest reason. It is impossible, if God infinitely loves and honors himself, as one infinitely worthy to be loved and esteemed, but that he should, from the same principle, proportionably abhor and oppose opposition to himself, and contempt of himself. And if it be in its own nature decent and proper for him thus to love himself, then it is in its own nature fit and becoming in him to hate opposition to himself. And for the same reason, and from the same principle, God, when he is contemned and injured, and his authority and glory are trampled in the dust, will be disposed to repair the injury done to his honor, and raise his injured majesty out of the dust again.
$ 17. The satisfaction of Christ, by suffering the punishment of sin, is properly to be distinguished, as being in its own nature different from the merit of Christ. For merit is only some excellency or worth. But when we consider Christ's sufferings merely as the satisfaction for the guilt of another, the excellency of Christ's act in suffering, does not at all come into consideration ; but only those two things, viz., their equality or equivalence to the punishment that VOL. I.
the sinner deserved; and, 2dly, the union between him and them, or the pro priety of his being accepted in suffering, as the representative of the sinner. Christ's bearing our punishment for us, is not properly meriting that we should not bear it any more than, if it had been possible for us ourselves to have borne it all, that would have been meriting that we should not be punished any more. Christ's sufferings do not satisfy by any excellency in them, but by a fulfilment. To satisfy by a fulfilment, and to satisfy by worthiness or excellency, are different things. If the law be fulfilled, there is no need of any excellency or merit to satisfy it; because it is satisfied by taking place and having its course. Indeed, how far the dignity or worthiness of Christ's person comes into consideration, in determining the propriety of his being accepted as a representative of sinners, so that his suffering, when equivalent, can be accepted as theirs, may be matter of question and debate ; but it is a matter entirely foreign to the present purpose.
$ 18. The blood of Christ washes away sin. So it is represented in the Scripture, that we are washed from our filthiness in Christ's blood. Whereas, although the blood of Christ washes from our guilt, yet it is the Spirit of Christ that washes from the pollution and stain of sin. However the blood of Christ washes also from the filth of sin, as it purchases sanctification; it makes way for it by satisfying, and purchases it by the merit of obedience implied in it. The sacrifices under the law, typified Christ's sacrifice, not only as a satisfaction, but as meritorious obedience. They are called a sweet savor upon both these accounts. And therefore we find obedience compared with sacrifice, Psal. xl. 6, &c.
The sacrifice of Christ is a sweet savor, because as such it was a great honor done to God's majesty, holiness and law, and a glorious expression and testimony of Christ's respect to that majesty, &c. That when he loved man, and so greatly desired his salvation, he had yet so great respect to that majesty and holiness of God, that he had rather die than that the salvation of man should be any injury or dishonor unto those attributes. And then, 2dly, it was a sweet savor, as it was a marvellous act of obedience, and some expression of a wonderful respect to God's authority. The value of Christ's sacrifice was infinite, both as a propitiation, and as an act of obedience; because he showed an infinite regard to the majesty, holiness, &c., of God, in being at infinite ex. pense froin regard to those divine attributes.
$ 19. The sacrifices under the law are said to be most holy; but the sacri. fice of Christ may properly be said to be infinitely holy, as it was an expression of an infinite regard to the holiness, majesty, &c., of God.
$ 20. Late philosophers seem ready enough to own the great importance of God's maintaining steady and inviolable the laws of the natural world. It may be worthy to be considered, whether it is not of as great, or greater importance, that the law of God, that great rule of righteousness between the supreme moral Governor and his subjects, should be maintained inviolate.
$ 21. If the threatening of death be not executed, the devil's horrid suggestion, and our first parents' wise suspicion, will be verified and fulfilled; viz., that God said otherwise than what he knew, when he threatened, Thou shalt surely die.
§ 22 “ Had God violated his word in the threatening of death for sin, he had justified the devil in his arguments for man's rebellion. The devils' argument is a plain contradiction to God's threatening. God affirms the certainty of death; the devil affirms the certainty of life. Gen. iii. 4, “ Ye shall not surely die.” Had no punishment been inflicted, the devil had not been a liar from the beginning. God would have honored the tempter, and justified the
be the credited God ild, th
charge he brought against him, and owned that envy the devil accused him of, and thereby have rendered the devil the fittest object for love and trust. As the devil charged God with a lie; so, had no punishment been inflicted, God would have condemned himself, and declared Satan, instead of a lying tempter, to be the truest counsellor. He had exposed himself to contempt, and advanced the credit of his enemy, and so set up the devil as God instead of himself. It concerned God therefore to manifest himself true, and the devil a liar, and acquaint the world, that not himself, but the evil spirit, was their deceiver ; and that he meant as he spoke.” Charnock, vol. 2. p. 934.
As to any objection that may be made against the force of the foregoing arguments, from the practice of all, and even the wisest of human legislators, their dispensing with their own laws, and forbearing to execute them, and pardoning offenders, without any one's being made to suffer in their stead ; the case is vastly different in the Supreme Lawgiver and subordinate lawgivers, and in the Supreme Judge and subordinate judges. The case is vastly different in them that give rules only to a certain small part of the commonwealth of moral agents, and with relation only to some few of their concerns, and for a little while—in lawgivers that are weak and fallible, and very imperfect in the exercises of a limited, subordinate, and infinitely inferior authority; from what it is in him, who is the great, infinitely wise, omniscient, holy, and absolutely perfect, Rector of all; to whom it belongs to establish a rule for the regulation of the whole university of beings, throughout all eternity, in all that concerns them in the exercise of an infinitely strong right of supreme, absolute dominion and sovereignty. The laws of men may be dispensed with, who cannot foresee all cases that may happen; and, if they could, have not both the laws and the state of the subject perfectly at their own disposal, so that it is possible for them universally and perfectly to suit one to the other. And moreover, there is a superior law, i. e., the divine law, that all are subject to, and a superior tribunal, to which all are obnoxious; to which inferior tribunals, when the exigence of affairs, or any thing extraordinary in the case requires it, may refer offenders, dispensing with inferior subordinate laws made by men. But there is no wise and good law, but that care should be taken that it ordinarily be put in execution : and the nearer any human law approaches to the supreme or divine law in perfection, and in extent of jurisdiction, the more care should be taken of its execution : the wisdom of nations teaches this. And besides, persons' repentance may be proportionable and answerable, at least in some measure, to offences against men. And as to the public truth which is to be upheld in execution of the threatenings of human laws, there ought to be great care to uphold it, according to the true intent and meaning of those threatenings. If all that is meant by them, and all that, by the very nature of the public constitution (that is the foundation on which all their laws stand), is to be understood by those threatenings, is, that the punishment shall be inflicted, excepting when the exigence of the public requires otherwise, or when the pleasure of the prince is otherwise ; then the public truth obliges to no more; and this being done, the public truth is maintained.