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These inspired statements place it beyond all doubt that Christianity originated with the Supreme Governor of the universe, that its gracious provisions are the accomplishment of his counsel, and that its principles, however much they surpass the discoveries of reason, are in perfect harmony with the genuine dictates of natural religion. The substitution of the Redeemer in the room of sinners was the contrivance of the same wisdom.
[A second chasm in Mr. Hall's manuscript, supplied in substance from notes of others.]
Secondly. Another indispensable circumstance in such a proceeding is, that it should be perfectly voluntary on the part of the sufferer. Otherwise, it would be an act of the highest injustice; it would be the addition of one offence to another, and give a greater shock to all rightly-disposed minds, than the acquittal of the guilty without any atonement. Whenever such an offering has been spoken of as taking place, it is represented as originating with the innocent person himself. Here there appears, at first sight, an insuperable difficulty in the way of human salvation. How could that be rendered which was at once due to sin and mankind at large? Where could one be found that would endure the penalty freely, which was incurred by a sinful world? This our Saviour did. He came, not only by authority, but such was his infinite love, that he came voluntarily. He expressed the deepest interest in his undertaking. He announced the particulars of his suffering, how he must be delivered, spit upon, and put to death; and in his hour of suffering, nothing is plainer than that he gave himself up to it voluntarily, according to the settled purpose of his own mind.
No sacrifice should go unwillingly to the altar. It was, indeed, reckoned a bad omen when any one did so. None ever went so willingly as he. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and evinced a readiness to be offered up. He endured the cross, despising the shame, all for the joy that was set before him; that glorious reward, the eternal happiness of an innumerable multitude of intelligent creatures who must have perished if he had not been stricken to death for them.
Thirdly. It is farther necessary that the substitute not only undertake voluntarily, but that he be perfectly free from the offence which renders punishment necessary. If he were tainted with that for which the punishment was assigned; nay, if he were only in part implicated in any other crime, he had already incurred some penalty; and there must be a proportionate deduction for what was due on his part.
Accordingly, in the case of man, divine justice cannot be willing to acquiesce in a substitute who is a sharer in guilt; for the law has a previous hold upon him; there is a debt due on his own account.
But Jesus Christ, though a man, was, by reason of his miraculous
conception, free from the taint of original sin. That holy thing which was born of the virgin grew up in a course of perfect purity and rectitude. He could say to his enemies, Which of you convinceth me of sin? He was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners. He, and he alone, of all who are of our nature, appeared in this character. By this means he became an immaculate sacrifice. He was shadowed forth by a pure lamb. He was as a lamb without spot. It was not this that rendered the sacrifice sufficient, but in this respect it accomplished all that could be expected of a human sacrifice. His Father rested in him, not only because he was his beloved Son, a partaker of his divine nature, but because he was holy and such an one as became us; not that we had a claim to such a priest, but no other could answer for us. The Levitical high-priests could never with those sacrifices which they offered continually, year by year, make the comers thereunto perfect; for each ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins; and therefore he could only be an imperfect figure of the true high-priest, who offered not for himself, but offered himself for us.
Fourthly. There would be a great propriety in this also, that the innocent person substituted for the guilty should stand in some relation to him.
Now our Lord Jesus Christ was related to mankind; one like them whom he came to redeem. It was indispensable that he should stand in close connexion with them to whom his righteousness was to be transferred. This was shadowed forth in the law of a redeemer of a lost estate. The person who was to redeem must be related: hence a redeemer and a relation were expressed by one term, and the nearest relation was to redeem. This was not merely a law suited to that state of society, but was intended to foreshow the congruity of the substitution of Christ. Forasmuch as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself took part of the same. Thus he became like unto his brethren. He took not on him the nature of angels, but took on him the seed of Abraham, the seed he came to redeem. As he came to sinful men, he took on him the likeness of sinful flesh. He was made like unto us in all points, yet without sin. The brazen serpent lifted up for the cure of the Israelites was of the same form as the serpents by which they were wounded. By one man came sin and death, by one man came redemption. For if by one man's offence death reigned by one, much more they which receive abundance of grace shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. Much more is adduced to the same effect by St. Paul, in his Epistle to the Romans, all tending to establish the truth, that as the first Adam was the cause of corruption, shame, and misery, so the second Adam is the source of holiness, life, and bliss.
Hence, then, the incarnation of our Lord was necessary. obliged to pass from one world to another, to take upon him a nature originally foreign from him. I came forth from the Father, saith he, and am come into the world; and justly will the love that prompted him to do so be the everlasting theme of all holy and happy beings.
It is probable that if nothing else had rendered unsuitable the substitution of angels for men, this would have been sufficient, that, on account of the essential difference between their nature and that of man, there would have been an incongruity in substituting their acts for ours. But Jesus Christ, by his incarnation, being of one flesh and of one spirit with us, was fitted to sustain the character of Redeemer. He thus became indeed our kinsman, one in the same circumstances, under the same law, liable to the same temptations, subject to the same passions, encompassed about with our infirmities, but sinless; and thus suited every way to become a substitute for our guilty race.
[We again return to the original copy.]
Thus much is certain, that as the wisdom of God saw it requisite that the redemption of guilty man should be effected by a sacrifice proportioned to the exigence of the case, the assumption of human nature followed as a natural consequence. The ancient sacrifices appointed by Moses possessed not (it was impossible they should) any intrinsic validity; they exhibited not the expiation, but the remembrance of sin every year. This is the express declaration of the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible for the blood of bulls and of goats to take away sins. Wherefore when he cometh into the world he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldst not, but a body hast thou prepared me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me) to do thy will, O God. By his assumption of human nature, he stood (notwithstanding that original superiority which removed him at an infinite distance) to the race of man in the relation of a brother; for the flesh which he condescended to take of the blessed virgin, of whom he was miraculously conceived, connected him with our common progenitor. For both he that sanctifieth, and they who are sanctified, are all of one, derived from one parent; for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren; saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren; in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.
Fifthly. If the substitution of the innocent in the room of the guilty is at all permitted, it seems requisite that no advantage should be taken of a momentary enthusiasm, a sudden impulse of heroic feeling, which might prompt a generous mind to make a sacrifice, of which, on cool deliberation, he repented.
A proper space should be allowed for reviewing the resolution, for surveying it in all its consequences, and forming a settled and immovable purpose. The self-devotion implied in such a transaction will acquire additional dignity in proportion as it appears the result, not of hurried and impetuous feeling, but of fixed determination and extended foresight; a resolution on which time has had no other effect than to fortify and confirm it.
How often is the pang of intense commiseration found to suggest
the idea of sacrifices, which the calmer and more permanent dictates of self-interest consign to oblivion and scatter to the wind! Perhaps there are few who have not been the subject of momentary feeling, the steady predominance of which would have made them heroes and martyrs, who yet shortly subside into their native selfishness, and before the season for action arrives, the genial current which warmed them for a moment is chilled and frozen.
In the case we are now contemplating, the admission of an innocent person to suffer instead of the guilty, nothing could reconcile the mind to such a procedure but such a settled purpose on the part of the substitute as precludes the possibility of a vacillation or change. But this condition is found in the highest perfection on the part of the blessed Redeemer. His oblation of himself was not the execution of a sudden purpose, the fruit of a momentary movement of pity; it was the result of deliberate counsel, the accomplishment of an ancient purpose, formed in the remotest recesses of a past eternity. He was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth while as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. When he prepared the heavens, when he set a compass upon the face of the deep; when he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment; when he fixed the foundations of the earth: rejoicing in the habitable parts of his earth; his delights were with the sons of men.
It is appointed indeed for all men once to die. With us it is an event inseparably attached to an abode on earth. But with the Redeemer it was not so properly an incident of his earthly existence, as its principal end and design. He assumed life for the purpose of laying it down; and ail the purposes, great as they were, which were accomplished by his life, were in entire subordination to those which he contemplated as the certain consequences of his death. In the course of his sojourn here, he never permitted himself to lose sight of it for a moment. The final scene, with all its terrors, was familiar to his imagination, and endeared to his heart; from no indifference to suffering, real or affected, but from the prospect of the joy that was set before him. I have a baptism to be baptised with, he exclaimed, and how am I straitened till it be accomplished! Instead of wishing to efface the remembrance of it by turning his attention to other objects, there was nothing which he appeared more solicitous to inculcate on the minds of his disciples than the certainty of his future sufferings. Then took he unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. Then shall he be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be spitefully entreated and spit upon, and they shall scourge him and put him to death. When Peter, shocked at these annunciations, presumed to expostulate with his Divine Master, he met with the severest rebuke. Get thee behind me, Satan, said he, for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of Until he had finished the work which was given him, he con
sulted his safety, often concealed himself, and avoided such an open display of his character and pretensions as might precipitate the designs of his enemies. But the moment the appointed time had arrived, we find him laying aside all reserve, courting the publicity which before he had shunned, and fearlessly, in the face of the sanhedrim, and even before the tribunal of Pilate, avowing himself the Son of God, though he well knew the effect would be to hasten his exit. While danger was at a distance he was cautious and reserved, but the moment it arrived he abandoned himself to it with a calm and fearless intrepidity.
Sixthly. In the case of the substitution of the innocent for the guilty, it seems highly requisite that he who offers himself as the substitute should justify the law by which he suffers. To say the least, the decorum of the transaction will be much heightened on the supposition, that he who sustains vicarious punishment, not only yields his entire consent, but proclaims, at the same time, his conviction of the equity and goodness of the legal enactment to which he falls a sacrifice. It were to be desired, though it can scarcely be hoped, that penal laws were so constructed as to impress a persuasion of their justice universally on those who have incurred their penalties. But in the case we are now considering, which is that of an innocent person substituting himself in the place of the guilty, there is a peculiar reason for demanding his express approval of the equity of the original sentence. The enthusiastic admiration which such conduct would naturally excite, the reverence which such a display of unparalleled magnanimity would necessarily attach to its possessor, could not fail to add dignity to his character and weight to his sentiments; and if, while he submitted to the penalty, he reprobated the severity of the law, the feelings of the spectators might be divided between esteem for the illustrious sufferer, and an aversion to the supposed rigour of the law. Thus the character of the sufferer would operate in a contrary direction to the punishment, and tend to defeat its salutary effects.
In the substitution of the Redeemer of mankind were conjoined the most prompt and voluntary endurance of the penalty, with the most avowed and cordial approbation of the justice of its sanctions. It was a great part of the business of his life to assert and vindicate by his doctrine that law which he magnified and made illustrious by his passion.
Previous to his offering himself a sacrifice for the sins of the world, he was incessantly employed in rescuing the precepts of God from the false glosses by which they had been corrupted, in asserting their spirituality, exhibiting their extent, and sustaining their just authority, as the unalterable rule of action and standard of duty.
Never had the law such an expounder as in the person of Him who came into the world to exhaust its penalties and endure its curse. He condemned, with the greatest severity, every tenet or practice that went to weaken its obligations or relax its strictness. To place it on the throne, to magnify and make it honourable, was not less the object of his ministry and of his life, than of his death. Thus, the VOL. I.-S