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for, if one who was both able and willing to do it, was pleased to ransom his brethren from deserved eternal ruin, by enduring temporal sufferings and death as their surety, what injustice could there be in accepting such a vicarious satisfaction for sin ?And how can that doctrine give an unamiable view of the Deity, which shews him to be infinite in righteousness, holiness, love, mercy, faithfulness, and wisdom ; and displays these, and all other conceivable moral excellences, in full perfection and entire harmony? It can only appear so to sinners, because justice and holiness are not amiable in the eyes of the unjust and unholy.-Or how can that doctrine be prejudicial to the cause of morality which furnishes the most powerful motives and encouragements to holiness, and shews sin in all its horrid deformity, and with all its tremendous effects; and which has uniformly done more “to “ teach men to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, “ and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this “ present world,” than all other expedients beside have appeared to do?
Let us then proceed to state a few select arguments, which demonstrate that the doctrine, as it has been explained and illustrated, is contained in the holy scriptures.
I. They contain many plain and decisive declarations on the subject. It is not only said, that Jesus “ redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us ;"! that “he suffered once for sins, the just for (or instead of) the unjust :” but, that he “bare our sins in his own
· Gal. iii. 13.
? 1 Pet. iii. 18. Is. liii.
body on the tree ;” and “ was made sin for us. ”! The prophet, speaking above seven hundred years before, “ of the sufferings of Christ and the glory “ that should follow,”. having observed, that “he “ bore our griefs and carried our sorrows, “wounded for our transgressions and bruised for
our iniquities,” shews the reason of this by adding, that “ the Lord laid," or caused to meet, “ on him the iniquity of us all :” so that it was exacted, and he became answerable2_according to the genuine meaning of the next words, rendered in our version, "He was oppressed, and he was “ afflicted.” Thus he would “justify many, for “ he would bear their iniquities,” and not merely the punishment due to them. We may, in
many cases, say that the innocent suffers for the guilty, when one is exposed to loss or pain by means of another's fault, or for his benefit : but can it be said with propriety, that the Lord lays upon the innocent sufferer the iniquity of the offender, or that the latter bears the sins of the former, when no translation or imputation of guilt is intended, and no real atonement made? If so, what words can convey the ideas of imputation and atonement? What determinate meaning can there be in language? Or what doctrine can be deduced with certainty from the sacred oracles? The terms, ransom, redemption, purchased, bought with a price, propitiation, and several others, concur to prove this doctrine.
II. The testimony of John the Baptist, “Be
'2 Cor. v. 21. 1 Pet. ii. 24.
“ hold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the “sin of the world,”! contains a very conclusive argument on this subject. Whatever other reasons may be thought of for a lamb being the selected emblem of the Lord Jesus, he could not, as a Lamb, take away sin, except “ by the sacrifice of “ himself.” His teaching, rule, and example, tend in different ways to reform mankind : and the influences of his Spirit sanctify the believer's heart. In these respects he may be said in some sense“ to “ take away sin :" but, as a Lamb, he could take away the guilt of it only by giving himself to be “slain,” that he might "redeem us to God with “his blood;" being the antitype of the paschal lambs and daily sacrifices, even “the Lamb slain “ from the foundation of the world.”
III. When the apostles argued that, “if Christ “ were not risen,” the Corinthian Christians were “yet in their sins ; '2. what could he mean, but that, as nothing could prove the reality and efficacy of Christ's atonement, except his resurrection, so nothing could take away their guilt but that atonement? For their reformation and conversion to the worship and service of the true God were facts, which could not be denied, whatever men thought of the doctrines in question.
IV. The same apostle says, that “ Christ will appear
the second time without sin unto salva“ tion."3 "But did he not appear the first time ‘without sin? What then is the meaning of this
opposition, that at his first coming he bare our ' sins, but at his second he shall appear without
John, i. 29.
? 1 Cor. xv. 14--18.
3 Heb. ix. 28.
sin? The words can have no other imaginable sense, but that at his first coming he sustained ' the person of a sinner, and suffered instead of us ; "but at his second coming he shall appear, not as a sacrifice, but as a judge.'
V. The grounds upon which the apostles exhort men to holiness evince the same point. They uniformly draw their arguments, motives, and encouragements from the cross of Christ. “His own “ self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, “ that we being dead to sin might live unto righte
ousness.” “Ye are bought with a price; there“ fore glorify God with your bodies and spirits “ which are his !”? This is indeed the distinguishing peculiarity of their exhortations, in which they differ from those of all others who have attempted to excite men to virtue or morality.
VI. The appointment of the Lord's Supper, in remembrance of the body of Christ broken, and his blood poured out, and as a representation of the manner in which we become interested in the blessings of his salvation, even by “ eating his flesh “and drinking his blood,”3 is a most conclusive argument on this subject. The peculiar nature and intent of this ordinance will be considered in a future Essay; but the special event commemorated, and the words of our Lord when he appointed it, “ This is my blood of the New Testament, “ which is shed for you and for many for the re“ mission of sins ;” do manifestly prove that his
? 1 Cor. vi. 20. 1 Pet. ii. 24. 2 Cor. v. 14, 15. Eph. v. 1, 2, 25, 26. Tit. ii. 11--14. 1 Pet. i. 13–20.
John, vi. 48-58
death was a real, atonement ; that this atonement is the grand peculiarity of the gospel ; and that no man is a genuine Christian, unless by a true faith he become a partaker of that inestimable benefit.
VII. Lastly, the songs of the redeemed in heaven, even of those “ who had come out of great “ tribulation,” and had shed their blood as martyrs in the cause of Christ, may well close these brief but unanswerable arguments in proof of this important doctrine. Without one discordant voice, they ascribe their salvation to the “ Lamb that was “ slain, and had redeemed them to God with his “ blood ;” “ who had washed them from their sins “ in his own blood." But in what sense could the lamb that was slain wash them from their sins in his own blood, unless he were truly and literally an atoning sacrifice for them?—This likewise shews the vast importance of the doctrine in the Christian system. It is indeed essential to it: for he who denies, or overlooks it, cannot have the same judgment of the divine perfections, law, and government, or of the evil and desert of sin, as real Christians have. He cannot approach God in the same way, or with the same plea. He cannot exercise the same kind of repentance or faith ; or feel himself under the same obligations, and influenced by the same motives, as they are.
He cannot pray, or thank and bless God, for the same benefits ; or have the same reasons for gratitude, humility, patience, and meekness. In a word, he cannot be meet for the same heaven ; but would dislike the company, dissent from the worship, and disrelish the employments and pleasures, of those who ascribe all their salvation to the atoning