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the infinite Divinity by the Virgin Mary, was the Son of God; as declared to the Virgin by the angel—" That Holy thing which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God."* Moreover, it is declared in the above passages, that Jehovah the Creator and Father of men, is Himself also their Savior and Redeemer, and that there is no Savior but Him; thus showing that it was in truth Himself, and not any supposed second person, the Son, who came down to be man's Redeemer and Savior.
Then, in the second place, consider how monstrous is the idea that God, who is love and goodness itself, whose“ tender mercies,” it is affirmed, “ are over all His works,” should condemn not only Adam himself but all his posterity also, to endless punishment for the violation of a single command. Is there any reasonableness or justice in this ? And, moreover, it is directly contrary to the teachings of Scripture, which declare that no one shall perish for the sin of his parent, but that every one shall suffer for his own sin only. Thus in Ezekiel :+ “ The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son; the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.” Thus it is a false doctrine, that we are all guilty, and obnoxious to eternal punishment, on account of the sin of Adam. By the fall, indeed, we all inherit tendencies to evil, our hereditary nature has become contaminated, and we are thus born with an inclination to sin. This is the true meaning of the apostle's words—"As in Adam all died,” that is, the human race, by the fall, inherited tendencies to sin, which is spiritual death. But yet no one is condemned for possessing these hereditary tendencies, because that is not his fault; and consequently, all those who die in infancy and childhood, whatever their hereditary qualities may be, are saved and taken into heaven. It is only such as, in mature years, bring their evil tendencies into act, instead of resisting them as they ought to do, and might do, and who thus make their inherited evils their own by actual life—that are guilty in the Divine sight.
It will then be seen, that the fact of Adam's having sinned, is not the true ground of man's need of redemption, and consequently, that the "scheme of redemption,” as it is termed, so far as it hangs upon that idea, falls to the ground.
In the third place, the idea that the first man's sin had to be atoned for—that Divine justice could not be satisfied, nor the majesty * Luke i. 35.
+ xviii. 20.
of the violated law vindicated, except by some one's suffering the penalty—and moreover, that it was an infinite sin, requiring consequently an infinite atonement, one which could be rendered only by a Divine Being, the Son of God—and furthermore, that it mattered not who suffered the penalty, provided it was endured by some one, and thus, that a God of justice could accept the punishment of an innocent being as a satisfaction for the sin of a guilty one ;-all this is a mere figment of man's imagination, and as contrary to Scripture as to reason.*
It is declared in the Scriptures that all that is necessary for the sinner is to repent; and that if he does repent, and turn from his evil ways, his sins shall be forgiven and forgotten. Thus, in Ezekiel“If the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all My statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live,-he shall not die. All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him ; in his righteousness that he hath done, he shall live. Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die, saith the Lord God, and not that he should return from his ways and live ?”+ Is anything said here about an atonement being
* John Foster has written an able and popular Essay on “ The Aversion of Men of Taste to Evangelical Religion.” But there is one principal reason for that averson which he has not presented, namely, the revengeful character of the false scheme of Redemption taught under that system. Foster complains of revenge as being the “divinity of Homer's Iliad;” what, may I ask, is the character of the Deity as presented in this "scheme ?”—what, but the same quality-revenge, under the name of Divine justice ? Man, it is said, had sinned ; and in revenge (or as it is softly called, atonement for it) blood must be shed, if not the guilty person's, then some innocent being's, even that of the blessed Savior Himself. Revenge, in fact, under the mild pretence of justice, is the sum and substance of that "scheme of Redemption.” This is heathenish! The cry for “Blood! blood !” which is continually heard from some, so-called, Evangelical pulpits is sufficient to excite the disgust of every refined and affectionate mind. In what light does it make our Heavenly Father appear? Like one of the heathen gods; like Moloch, calling for the blood of innocents. It is truly horrible! The nature of the Redemption has been entirely misunderstood. When the Apostle says—“Without shedding of blood is no remission,” (Heb. ix. 22.) he is expressly speaking of what was done under the law of Moses. The tabernacle and vessels of the ministry were sprinkled with blood, because blood was representative of divine truth, by which all things are sanctified. That such is the signification of blood is plain from the Lord's words, “ Unless ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you.” (John vi. 53.) Can we drink material blood ? No! The meaning is that it is only by receiving into our hearts and minds divine good and divine truth from the Lord that we have spiritual life. So "without blood there is no remission,” means it is only by divine truth, believed and lived, that our evils can be cast out.
+ Ezekiel xviii, 21-23,
needed, in order to vindicate the majesty of the violated law, and to satisfy the Divine justice? Is it not declared that the sinner has simply to leave off sinning, to repent, and turn from the evil of his ways,to “go and sin no more ;” and that, in such case, the evil he has done shall be pardoned and forgotten,—that “all his transgressions shall not be mentioned unto him," but he shall be received again, like the prodigal son, into his Heavenly Father's house and arms of love ; concluding with the touching words of Divine affection, that the Lord has no pleasure at all in the death of the wicked, but rather that he should return from his ways and live? Is there here any sign of the doctrine of Atonement ? The truth is, the notion of an Atonement is purely a Jewish one. The Jewish Dispensation being merely representative and external,—when, under that dispensation, the people had been guilty of departing from some Divine ordinance, their error could be atoned for by the performance of certain external rites. Thus, it is said “ Moses made atonement for the sins of the people.” But the effect of such atonement was not to save any one's soul, but only to free them from temporal punishment; the effect, like the instrument, was outward, and confined to the body and the world. But representatives being abolished at the establishment of the Christian dispensation, all such instrumentalities ceased. The principle of an external atonement had no place in an interior and spiritual church like the Christian ; and, consequently, not a word is said about such a thing in the Gospels. The term atonement does not once occur in any of them, nor indeed in any part of the New Testament writings, with a single exception, viz., in Romans v. 11,—where it is used, not in the Jewish sense of expiation or satisfaction, but simply in the sense of reconciliation to or conjunction with God.*
* That the atonement scheme is not in truth evangelical, as it is so eonstantly called, may be seen from the fact that the word evangelical means Gospel, whereas, as above remarked, such a scheme is not mentioned in the Gospels. There may be passages, indeed, which one who has learned the doctrine of Atonement may fancy have reference to that doctrine ; but from what is said in the Gospels themselves, no one could ever have thought of deducing such a doctrine. And that the Apostles had no such "scheme” in their minds, is evident from the fact that they do not speak of the Atonement, except in the single instance before alluded to. Could any evangelical preachers of the present day write a long Epistle to a church, giving instruction in a system of doctrine, and not mention the Atonement? No! because their minds are full of it. But this "scheme,” or plan of redemption, as will be presently shown, had not been invented in the Apostles' time. They, doubtless, knew that the idea of atonement belonged to the Old Covenant, not to the New, to the Jewish, not to the Christian Dispensation.
How absurd, too, is the notion that Adam had committed an infinite sin, needing, consequently, an infinite atonement! Where is anything said in Scripture about an infinite sin ? Is it not plain that a finite being can do no infinite act, either good or bad ? Then it follows that the idea that he needed an Infinite Being, namely, the Son of God, to atone for him, is a mere phantasy. Besides, what view can be thought of the Divine justice that would be willing to accept the punishment of an innocent Being in satisfaction for the sin of a guilty one ? Such a view of justice may have sometimes prevailed amongst barbarous nations, but not amongst the civilised, still less could it be entertained for a moment by the wise and good ;-how much less by the Divine !
In fact, from whatever point it be viewed, the old scheme of redemption will be found to be a mere tissue of falsities and contradictions, worthy only of the dark age in which it sprung up. For it was in the eleventh century of the Christian era, amidst the darkness of the darkest period of the church, that this scheme or system was first devised, out of the weak reasonings and shadowy imaginations of men's own minds. The apostles knew nothing of such a scheme. Nor did the early ages of Christianity know anything of such a scheme of redemption. During the first three centuries of the Christian era, no such idea existed in the church as that of three distinct persons in the Godhead. This doctrine was first promulgated by the Council of Nice, held in the year 325. Now, it is upon this doctrine that the present scheme of redemption rests ; but it was not till long after even that period that this scheme. came into men's minds. It grew up gradually in after times, and was put together, little by little, by the theologians of the middle ages, and was at length first announced with distinctness by an English archbishop, Anselm, in the eleventh century. This may be seen from Mosheim's History of the Church. Mosheim's statement is remarkable, and deserves to be well remembered. It is as follows:
"Following these principles,” says he, “the Latin theologians began to reduce all the truths of revealed religion into a connected system, and to subject them to the laws of the human sciences a thing which no one before had attempted. For all the Latin writers, previous to this age, had only occasionally, and never in a formal manner, elucidated and explained the points of theology; nor had they thus explained them all, but only such as occasion demanded. The first attempt at a system of theology was made by Anselm (Archbishop of Canterbury), and the first who completed an entire system or body of divinity, was Hildebert, Bishop of Le Mans, and afterwards Archbishop of Tours, just at the close of this century (the eleventh).”
To this passage Dr. Murdoch, the learned translator of Mosheim, appends the following note :
“ The principal treatise by Anselm, here referred to, is that entitled Cur Deus Homo? Why did God become incarnate? He describes the fallen state of man, and his need of an Almghty Saviour to atone for his sins, and raise him to a state of bliss after death; and he shows that an incarnate God, and He only, could perform the office of a mediator. The views and speculations of Anselm on this whole subject, have prevailed very generally quite down to the present times. Nor have Grotius and Edwards, and the most elaborate modern writers, added much on the subject."*
Here, then, is the source of that system of theology, that scheme of redemption, at this day so prevalent, which most Christians suppose to have been derived from the Scriptures. It had its origin in the “ speculations” of a subtle theologian of the dark ages. It is surely time that this mediæval system of religion, drawn from man's own reasonings and phantasies, should be exploded, and a new and true doctrine, revealed from heaven and from the Lord Himself, should take its place. This doctrine, the true doctrine of redemption, we proceed to lay before the reader. London.
0. P. H. (To be continued.)
MR. BURGON'S REPLY TO “M. C. W.,”
(From The Guardian of December 21st), BUT ARE THERE CONTRADICTIONS IN SCRIPTURE ? SIR, I will not refuse the discussion to which “M. C. W.” invites me. At the same time it is only fair to remark that I do not consider myself bound to accept every challenge which every anonymous writer may please to send me, in consequence of my recent correspondence with an able man who had the manliness to sign his letters with his name. Not only am I far too busy to undertake such an addition to my existing occupations, but the details into which Gospel difficulties frequently lead, are of such a nature that they cannot be briefly discussed. “Brevis esse laboro ; obscurus fio.” The shorter I make the present letter, the greater likelihood there is that I shall be forced to write another. In order to meet every possible cavil which “M. C. W.” could raise-(I do not in the least mean to imply that I expect he will)-I ought to discuss the entire subject in a lengthy
* See Mosheim's Institutes of Ecclesiastical History (Murdoch’s Translation), Century XI. Part ii., chap. iii.