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sinners? The same reasoning is conclusive in respect of the vicarious sufferings of any mere man or creature.
Suppose it were right that one creature should bear the punishment merited by another; and that one could be found free from guilt, and willing to be substituted in the place of his guilty fellow-creature; yet he could only answer one for one; body for body, life for life, soul for soul : his temporal sufferings could only answer to the temporal release of the condemned criminal, but could not be an adequate ransom for his immortal soul from future punishment: much less could it expiate the guilt of the unnumbered crimes of many millions. Should it be said, that this might be if God had so appointed : I answer, that God appointed the sacrifices of bulls and goats, yet it was “ impossible that “ they should take away sin :" and for the reason before assigned, it was impossible that God should appoint them as more than a type of the real atonement.—But no mere man can be found, who has not himself deserved the wrath of God; no man's body and soul are his own; no mere creature could be willing to bear the vengeance of heaven for another if he might; and none might if he would. It may be our duty to lay down our lives for our brethren; but it cannot be allowable for us to choose to be eternally unholy and miserable. The eternal Son of the Father, therefore, seeing that no other sacrifice could suffice, said, “ Lo, I come to do thy will, O God ”I
I do not say, that the Almighty could not have devised some other way of redemption : but we can conceive no other, by which perfect justice and purity could harmonize with boundless mercy; and, as infinite wisdom gave this the preference, we are sure that it was in itself most eligible. The dignity of the divine Redeemer, as one with the Father in the unity of the Godhead; his eternal relation to the Father, as the adequate object of his infinite love; his appointment to his office, and voluntary susception of it; his incarnation, and consequent relation to us in the human nature; the perfect purity of his manhood; the complete obedience of his whole life, amidst all kinds of difficulties and temptations; the tortures and ignominy of his death ; the entire resignation and meekness with which he suffered; the principle from which his obedience and submission sprang; and the end to which the whole was directed; these things, when duly considered and estimated, will combine to shew, that he more honoured the law of God and its awful sanction, by his righteousness and atonement, than if all men had either perfectly obeyed or finally perished. When the Father was “ pleased” thus to wound and bruise his wellbeloved Son for the transgressions of his people, his judgment concerning the evil and desert of sin appeared most illustrious. His love to sinners was shewn to be inconceivably great; yet he would rather lay the load of their guilt and punishment on him“ in whom his soul delighted,” than pardon them without testifying his abhorrence of their crimes ! No encouragement could thus be given to others to venture on sin: no other sacrifice of this value and efficacy could be found : all must see that punishment was not the arbitrary act of an inexorable Judge, but the unavoidable result of perfect holiness and justice, even in a being of infinite mercy.
1 Heb. x. 4--10.
every mouth will at length be stopped, or filled with adoration ; every heart impressed with awe and astonishment; every hope taken
away from the impenitent and presumptuous; and the glory of God more fully manifested in all his harmonious perfections, than by all his other works, judgments, and dispensations.—The story of Zaleucus, prince of the Locrians, is well known. To shew his abhorrence of adultery, and his determination to execute the law he had enacted, condemning the adulterer to the loss of both his eyes; and at the same time to evince his love to his son who had committed that crime; he willingly submitted to lose one of his own eyes, and ordered at the same time one of his son's to be put out! Now what adulterer could hope to escape,
when power was vested in a man, whom neither self-love, nor natural affection in its greatest force, could induce to dispense with the law, or relax the rigour of its sentence? So, in God's way of saving sinners, the language both of the Father and the Son is, manifestly and most emphatically, “Let the law be magnified and made honourable, in the sight of the whole universe.'
I would not embarrass these brief Essays by any thing superfluous or dubious; yet it seems to fall in with the design of them to observe, that the reward of righteousness is not annexed to a mere exemption from sin, (for Adam on the day of his creation was free from sin ;) but to actual obedience during the appointed term of probation. So that
the perfect righteousness of Christ was as necessary, as the atonement of his death, to his mediatorial work on earth : not only as freedom from personal guilt was requisite, in order to his bearing and expiating the sins of his people, but also as the meritorious purchase of their forfeited inheritance ; that the second Adam's benefit might answer to the loss sustained through the first Adam. His was, however, a suffering obedience, and so expiatory; his death was the highest perfection of obedience, and so meritorious. We need not therefore very exactly distinguish between them : yet it is proper to maintain, that the believer is pardoned because his sin was imputed to Christ, and expiated by his sacrifice ; and that he is justified, and made an heir of heaven, because Christ “ brought in an ever
lasting righteousness," " which is unto, and upon, “ all them that believe.” Our Lord did not indeed bear all the misery to which the sinner is exposed. Not being personally guilty, he could not endure the torments of an accusing conscience: knowing that he should triumph and reign in glory, he could not feel the horrors of despair : and, his infinite dignity rendering him able at once to make an all-sufficient atonement, it was not requisite that his sufferings should be eternal, as ours must otherwise have been. But he endured the scorn, the rage, and the cruelty of men, and all which they could inflict; the utmost malice of the powers of darkness; and the wrath and righteous vengeance of the Father: he bore shame, pain, and death in all its bitterness; and what he suffered in his soul, during his agony in the garden, and when he exclaimed on the cross, “My God, my God, why
“ hast thou forsaken me?" we cannot conceive. We only know, that “it pleased the Lord to bruise “ him :" the sword of vengeance“ awoke" against him, and the “Father spared him not.” We may, therefore, conclude, that he endured as much of that very misery, which the wicked will suffer from the wrath of God, and the malice of the infernal powers as could consist with perfect innocence and love, and the sure hope of speedy and final deliverance.
Many objections have been made to the doctrine of a real atonement, and a vicarious sacrifice for sin ; as if it were irrational, or unjust, or gave an unamiable view of the divine character; or as if it were unfavourable to the cause of morality and virtue: and great pains have been taken to explain away the language of holy scripture on this subject, as if it did not imply any of those things which the unlearned reader is apt to infer from it. It cannot be expected that I should give a particular answer to each of these objections, which result rather from the state of the heart than from any solid grounds of reasoning. It may suffice to observe in general, that “God hath made foolish " the wisdom of this world;" that “ the natural
man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of “ God, for they are foolishness to him:” and especially, that “thc preaching of the cross is fool“ishness to them that perish." Adverting to such testimonies of the Holy Spirit, we shall know what to think concerning those exclamations of irrational and absurd, which many of those who are wise in this world, and in their own eyes, employ in opposing the doctrine of the atonement.-Neither can there be any injustice in this statement of it: