« AnteriorContinuar »
3. If according to the common opinion, the peralty of the law subjected men "to all the miseries of this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell forever," if Jesus suffered the penalty for the elect why are the elect any more liable now in this state to the miseries of this life and to death itself, than to the pains of hell forever? Most surely, if Jesus bore the whole penalty of the law in room and stead of the sinner, then it certainly cannot be just for the sinner to bear one part of this penalty any more than another. But there are none who do not par take of the miseries of this life in some degree; and there are none who are exempt from death.
Having shown that the common opinion respecting salvation is erroneous, having no scripture authority for its support and being contrary to all revealed justice, we may proceed to notice some direct evidence from scripture against it. But here we may be concise. In the law given by Moses, there is a continued thread of plain testimony, that as a nation the house of Israel would be punished accordingly as they should depart from the statutes and judgments which the Lord commanded them and accordingly we are informed in the sacred pages, that God punished them from time to time as their perverse and wicked conduct deserved. So likewise are we assured, that the divine Being punished other nations for their wickedness: such as Babylon, Nineveh, Tyre, Egypt &c. In relation to the crimes of individuals we well know that God instituted penalties according to the nature of offences, and gave special directions concerning their being duly inflicted. This is not only true in respect to the laws of Israel, but it is likewise true in respect to all nations. He that holds the sword is the minister of God. Now if all this, which is as plain as any thing in the scriptures, be granted, what room is there for the supposition that the penalty due to transgression is punishment in the future eternal world? Or what reason have we
to believe that Jesus suffered in room and stead of transgressors? This same Jesus Christ of whom it is believed, that he suffered the penalty of our sins in our rooin, that we might not suffer it, plainly states, that he will "reward every man according to his works." It seems to be evident, from the foregoing considerations, that no such penalty of endless misery was ever connected with the divine law of heaven; and equally evident, that Jesus did not come into the world to save sinners from any such penalty. No, nor did he come into the world to save the sinner from the punishment of his sins.
We have now come to the positive of our question, and we will proceed to show from the scriptures, what "Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners" from.
First, and primarily, he came to save sinners from their sins. If the hearer be disposed to ask what the difference is between saving a sinnerfrom his sins, and saving him from the punishment which his sins deserve, the following reply will show. To save a criminal from the punishment which the law holds against him would be a violation of the law, but to save him from his sin, would render him righteous. To save a disobedient child from the chastisement due for his offence, would violate the wholesome law of the parent, and would have an unfavourable effect on the disobedient when reformation is the object of the chastisement. But to save the child from disobedience is the very thing the parental law requires and is all the salvation which it needs. Thus, as has been before noticed, the Angel said to Joseph; "Thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins."
Secondly, we may notice some particulars, which, however, are all comprehended in saving the sinner from his sins. Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners from a state of ignorance which they were actually in, which ignorance was and ever is the cause of sin.
Of the forerunner of Jesus it was said; "And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; to give knowledge of salvation unto his people, by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the day-spring from on high hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace." Jesus said to the Jews; "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples in deed; and ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." In his prayer to the Father, Jesus says; "This is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." It is most plainly seen by the light of these passages, that the Saviour's grace was designed to deliver sinners from mental darkness, and to give them the true knowledge of God's divine and grac ous character. This is a salvation which the ignorance of mankind rendered necessary. St. Paul, speaking on this subject to the Collossians says; "Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son." The power of darkness is the deception to which ignorance subjects us, from which the true knowledge of divine things delivers the mind. God says by the prophet Jeremiah; "And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, saying, know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember the sin, no more!” The words of St. Peter are pertinent to this subject: "Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord." And we may add, that the mission of the Apostles, to "preach the gospel to every creature and to teach all nations," implies the necessity of bringing all men to the knowledge of the truth.
The same salvation which has already been signified by a salvation from sin and from darkness or ignorance, may be denominated a deliverance from unreconciliation to God. It is easily seen, that sin and unreconciliation to God are the same. This is the state which the sinner is in, and from this condition the gospel is designed to deliver or save him. Accordingly St. Paul says; "And all things are of God who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; to wit; that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us; we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God! We see by this passage as well as by the general testimony of scripture, that God did not impute the trespasses of sinners to them, in any way to prevent the manifestation of his grace in their reconciliation to himself.
conciliation of the world to God is the salvation of the world, and agrees with the testimony of the beloved disciple who said, "We have seen and do testify, that the Father sent the son to be the Saviour of the world." And to the same did " a bright and a shining light" bear record, saying ; "Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world."
This condition of sinners, from which Christ Jesus came into the world to save them, is represented to be death. Jesus says; "The dead shall hear the voice of the son of God, and they that hear shall live." St. Paul says to the Ephesians; " And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins." Again; "But God, who is rich in mer cy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ." Was there ever a representafion more erroneous, than that which has for ages
led men to believe that there was a divine wrath in God, from which Jesus came to save sinners? In the passage just recited it is declared, that on account of the great love which God had to sinners, who were dead in sin, he quickened them together with Christ.
Our Redeemer represents the salvation of sinners by seeking and saving something lost, " The Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost." Time would fail us to mention all the ways by which sacred truth has represented the nature of sinner's salvation by Jesus Christ.
The hearer is now called on to observe, that in all the representations quoted from scripture, there is no intimation of saving sinners from any punishment to which they were exposed, nor from any condition that they were not already in.
Being in possession of what the foregoing arguments seem plainly to prove, the mind of the hearer will devote its attention now to the consideration of the question, why "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners?" If the object of the Saviour's mission was to suffer the penalty of eternal punishment, which all our Doctors agree cannot be suffered in this world, why did he come here? Why should he come into a world where this supposed penalty never was designed to be executed? If Jesus undertook and did actually suffer the penalty of eternal damnation in a future world, in room and stead of sinners, surely there was no need of his coming into this mortal state to do it. But he "came into the world to save sinners." And the reason why he came into this world to save sinners, was because the sinners which he came to save were in this world. To make use of the parable of the Saviour, we may remark, that the physician goes to the place where the sick are, that he may administer what may relieve the patient from sickness, The goodly Samaritan went to the place where the bruised Jew lay naked and half dead, and there he