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demned? and how else can we account for the positive declaration of God, ' the soul that sinneth it shall die'? The truth is, the Scriptures no where inform us that Christ died to save any portion of mankind from merited punishment, or from the demands of divine justice. Salvation, as proclaimed in the gospel, is a deliverance from sin, and not from the guilt, condemnation, and punishment, which are the consequences of sin; and in the accomplishment of this salvation, the demands of justice are not, the least, counteracted.
.But let us admit for a moment that Christ became a proper sacrifice for sin; and that, in his sufferings and death, he endured the punishment due to guilty mortals; would these sufferings and this death satisfy the demands of divine justice? What does the justice of God require? On the supposition that the principal requirement is suffering for sin, it must certainly require the suffering of the guilty, and not of the innocent. If, then, the punishment due to guilty sinners was inflicted on the innocent Jesus, this infliction was not justice, but cruelty and unfeeling malignity. Nor will it be of any avail in this case to say that the sufferings of our Saviour were voluntary; for until it can be shown that justice required the punishment of the innocent, or that it can be satisfied with what it does not require, this objection will remain unanswered. We object, however, to such views of divine justice. We believe it requires no more punishment than is requisite to produce obedience to the law of God; that its whole object is the reformation of offenders; that it will inflict just so much chastisement as shall be necessary to humble and reform the guilty; and, consequently, that it harmonizes with mercy in effecting the salvation of sinners. While, therefore the popular doctrine of atonement both 'justifieth the wicked,' by imputing to them the righteousness of Christ, and thus freeing them from deserved punishment, and ' condemneth the just,' by imputing to Jesus the guilt of transgression, and inflicting on him the punishment due to the guilty, we cannot but consider it as denying the perfect justice of God; and, viewing it in this light, we feel bound to reject it.
2. It denies the free unpurchased mercy of our heavenly Father. Mercy is that essential perfection of Deity whereby he pities and relieves the distresses of his creatures; or, it may be defined as that modification of divine, eternal love, which seeks the deliverance from all suffering, and the highest good of all its objects. It has been justly termed the ' darling attribute ' of heaven, for ' God is love.' It was a subject of constant joy and gratitude to patriarchs and prophets of old; it attuned the voices of angels, when they proclaimed salvation to the world on the birth-night of Jesus; it flowed in the language, and shone forth in the conduct of Him who was' the brightness of his' Father's 'glory, and the express image of his person'; and it is the glorious theme on which the enlightened Christian delights to dwell. The Scriptures invariably represent the mercy of God as perfectly free, and extending to all the works of his hands. The gift of a Saviour is the fruit of divine mercy, a commendation of God's deathless love to the world, and not the means of causing his mercy to flow to sinners, or of inducing him to love mankind. Forgiveness of sin is also attributed to the mercy of God; but we are not taught in the Scriptures that the mercy through which we receive forgiveness, on repentance and turning from the evil of our ways, is purchased by the sufferings and death of Christ. But how does the doctrine of atonement exhibit the character of our Father in heaven? and how does it represent the nature and operations of divine mercy? Instead of a kind and all-beneficent Parent, it presents to our view a relentless and inexorable tyrant. Instead of exhibiting the mercy of God as partaking of that purity we are accustomed to attribute to all his glorious perfections, and as flowing freely to all his needy offspring, it presents it to us crimsoned with the blood of the innocent Jesus, and extorted from the Almighty by the sufferings of a crucified Divinity! And is this the tender mercy of our God? Are these the flowings of parental love? Are such the yearnings of divine compassion toward the suffering children of humanity? As well might we speak of the mercy of a Moloch, who could be satis6ed and rendered propitious, only by the cries, the sufferings, and the cruel death of innocent babes, burnt alive in the valley of Hinnom. As well might the relentless creditor, who had incarcerated some poor debtor, boast of his kindness and mercy in suffering the prisoner to leave his cell, after some benevolent friend had paid the debt in full. In a word, the doctrine destroys all definite ideas of mercy in our heavenly Father, clothes the Majesty of heaven with relentless frowns, and unfeeling vengeance, casts a death-like gloom over the whole creation, and robs man of his highest solace in affliction, an unshaken confidence in the unbought mercy and loving kindness of his God.
3. It ascribes mutability to the unchangeable Jehovah. If it may be said there is one principle, connected with the science of theology, about which there can be no ground for dispute, it would seem to be that which attributes perfect immutability to the great First Cause of all things. On the supposition that he is infinite in all his perfections,—and this is admitted on all hands,—the idea of the least possible change can never attach to him. Following this principle to its legitimate consequences, it is evident that, if there was ever a period when God was satisfied with his creatures, this satisfaction must eternally continue; and, on the other hand, if he were ever dissatisfied, he never could become reconciled. We must also believe that he infallibly knew, before giving existence to man, all the consequences, whether in time or eternity, which would result from this act of creating power. And the act of giving existence, with this perfect knowledge, affords incontrovertible evidence that he designed all these consequences; or, at least, that he did not design consequences different from those he infallibly knew would follow such gift. This being admitted, it again follows, that God, never could become, strictly speaking, dissatisfied with his creations; and having pronounced all his works 'very good,' the conclusion is irresistible, that all must answer the end for which they were created. But the doctrine in question presents this subject in a far different light. It represents the Almighty as having become dissatisfied with the best and noblest part of his creation; and that too in consequence of what he infallibly knew would be the result of creating man such as he was. And we are told, by the advocates of this doctrine, that, until a mirac* ulous change is effected in the soul, by the irresistible agency of the spirit, and the merit of Christ's atonement is applied by faith, God cannot look on the sinner with the least complacency. Here, then, is one infinite change effected; a change from perfect love and complacency, to unmingled detestation and abhorrence. Nor is this all: another equally infinite change is to be effected before he can become reconciled to his offspring. And what is to produce this change? Is it to be effected by the penitence and reformation of those who have incurred his displeasure? No; but by the outpourings of his unmingled wrath on the self-devoted head of his innocent and well ' beloved Son,' whereby a way could be opened for the sanctifying influence of his spirit on the hearts of sin*
ners. It is true the advocates of this doctrine, at the present day, do not directly contend that such changes have been effected in God, by the transgressions of mankind, and the atonement of Christ. But such was the plain language of Luther, Calvin, Melancthon, and others of the reformers by whom the doctrine, as now received, was perfected from its heathen beginning; and it is impossible to read the articles on this subject, in standard orthodox publications, without being fully convinced that the sentiment, although not the exact form of expression, is fully contained in them. Seeing then, that this doctrine denies the perfect and impartial justice of God, robs him of the essential attribute of mercy, and represents him as changeable in his perfections; and also, that it is only a revival of the heathen notions of ' expiations, vicarious commutations, and substituted satisfactions,' it is impossible for us to assign to it any other foundation than entire ignorance, or gross misapprehension of the divine character.
III. It is inimical to genuine Piety.
By piety we do not mean all that has passed in the world as such; nor all which is now dignified by that name. We do not mean that undefineable something, which is produced in the mind, when in a highly excited state, by the belief of certain awful mysteries, and unintelligible dogmas; we do not mean that spiritual pride and self-righteousness which prompt men to look with contempt on those they consider less holy than themselves; we do not mean that sanctimonious appearance which can be assumed or laid aside at pleasure, nor a punctilious observance of outward forms of religion, such as long and frequent prayers, or a zealous attachment to public worship and ordinances; we do not mean loud professions of godliness, nor a regard for particular principles of doctrine, nor that excited and morbid state of mind which leads men to disregard the dictates of reason, or to forego the innocent enjoyments of life ; for a person may possess and exercise all these, and yet be a consummate hypocrite, without one spark of genuine piety. But we mean a deep and sincere love towards God; a feeling sense of his unbounded goodness; unshaken confidence in.him; conformity to his will; and a resemblance of his moral perfections; or, to sum up all in a few words, we mean love supreme to God, and a sincere and refined affection for all our fellow-creatures. There is not an emotion of the heart, nor a duty, which God requires of man, which does not spring from this pure, active, and heavenly principle of love; and hence our Saviour represents love to God and our neighbor as the fulfilling of the 'law and the prophets.' On the other hand, there is not a sin, either against God or man, which does not proceed from a want of love. Love, therefore, is the essence of piety; and in whatever heart the love of God is perfected, there genuine piety reigns in its highest degree. But how is the love of God to be implanted in the heart? We can neither love nor hate an object from the mere impulse of the will; neither is it possible for us to love a being merely from a sense of duty, or because it is required of us. Before we can love any object, we must discover in it something intrinsically excellent and lovely, some amiable quality, something adapted to the promotion of our happiness; and when this discovery is made, it is morally impossible to withhold our affection. Equally impossible for us is it to love any being in whom we behold traits of character which are revolting to our feelings, or calculated to interrupt the enjoyment of our happiness. How important, then, to the production of genuine and enlightened piety, is it that we cherish those views, and those only, of the character of God, which represent him as ' altogether lovely,' deserving the undivided affection of our hearts, and worthy of our entire confidence; for, without such views, there can be no love or piety in our hearts. But does the popular doctrine of atonement exhibit such views? Does it present to us, in the Almighty, a character of such unmingled excellence? We think not. On the contrary, it holds out such views of the divine character and perfections and of the economy of God's moral government, as are directly calculated to check all the pure and ardent affections of the heart, to destroy perfect confidence in the impartial and unchanging goodness of our heavenly parent, to fill the mind with darkness, tormenting fears, and gloomy doubts; and instead of awakening a lively hope, to sink the soul in despondency. Nor is this all: the unreasonableness of the doctrine, its opposition to all we can learn of God from nature and providence, and its perfect conformity to heathen superstition, have driven hundreds, perhaps thousands, to scepticism and infidelity. So great was the absurdity of the heathen doctrine of sacrifices, that their greatest philosophers, such as Pythagoras, Plato, Porphyry, and others, rejected it, and wondered