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, having a we are out
loose upon that bended head. It is the moment of retributive justice; the expiation of all human guilt: that open brow hides beneath it the despair of millions of men ; and to the intensity of agony there, no human wail could give expression. Meanwhile, the future brightens on the Elect; the tempests that hung over their horizon are spent. The vengeance of the lawgiver having had its way, the sunshine of a Father's grace breaks forth, and lights up, with hope and beauty, the earth, which had been a desert of despair and sin. According to this theory, Christ, in his death, was a proper expiatory sacrifice ; he turned aside, by enduring it for them, the infinite punishment of sin from all pastor future believers in this efficacy of the cross; and transferred to them the natural rewards of his own righteousness. An acceptance of this doctrine is declared to be the prime condition of the divine forgiveness; for no one who does not see the pardon, can have it. And this pardon again, this clear score for the past, is a necessary preliminary to all sanctification; to all practical opening of a disinterested heart towards our Creator and man. Pardon, and the perception of it, are the needful preludes to that conforming love to God and men, which is the true Christian salvation.
The evidence in support of this theory is derived partly from natural appearances, partly from scriptural announcements. Involving, as it does, statements respecting the
actual condition of human nature, and the world in which we · live, some appeal to experience, and tɔ the rational interpre
tation of life and Providence, is inevitable; and hence certain propositions, affecting to be of a philosophical character, are laid down as fundamental by the advocates of this system. Yet it is admitted, that direct revelation only could have acquainted us, either with our lost condition, or our vicarious recovery; and that all we can expect to accomplish with nature, is to harmonize what we observe there, with what we read in the written records of God's will; so that the main stress of the argument rests on the interpretation of Scripture. The principles deduced from the nature of things, and laid down as a basis for this doctrine, may be thus represented :
That man needs a Redeemer ; having obviously fallen, by some disaster, into a state of misery and guilt, from which the worst penal consequences must be apprehended ; and were it not for the probability of such lapse from the condition in which it was fashioned, it would be impossible to reconcile the phenomena of the world with the justice and benevolence of its Creator.
That Deity only can redeem ; since, to preserve veracity, the penalty of sin must be inflicted; and the diversion only, not the annihilation, of it, is possible. To let it fall on angels, would fail of the desired end; because human sin, having been directed against an infinite Being, has incurred an infinitude of punishment; which, on no created beings, could be exhausted in any period short of eternity. Only a nature strictly infinite can compress within itself, in the compass of an hour, the woes distributed over the immortality of mankind. Hence, were God personally One, like man, no redemption could be effected; for there would be no Deity to suffer, except the very One who must punish. But the triplicity of the Godhead relieves all difficulty ; for, while one Infinite inflicts, another Infinite endures; and resources are furnished for the atonement.
Amid a great variety of forms in which the theory of atonement exists, I have selected the foregoing; which, if I understand aright, is that which is vindicated in the present controversy. I am not aware that I have added anything to the language in which it is stated by its powerful advocate, unless it be a few phrases, leaving its essential meaning the same, but needful to render it compact and clear.
The scriptural evidence is found principally in certain of the apostolical epistles; and this circumstance will render it neces
sary to conduct a separate search into the historical writings of
I. It is inconsistent with itself.
Our faith in the infinite benevolence of God is, represented as destitute of adequate support from the testimony of nature.* It requires, we are assured, the suppression of a mass of appearances, that would scare it away in an instant, were it to venture into their presence; and is a dream of sickly and effeminate minds, whose belief is the inward growth of amiable sentimentality, rather than a genuine production from God's own facts. The appeal to the order and magnificence of creation, to the structures and relations of the inorganic, the vegetable, the animal, the spiritual forms, that fill the ascending ranks of this visible and conscious universe; -to the arrangements which make it a blessing to be born, far more than a suffering to die, which enable us to extract the relish of life from its toils, the affections of our nature from its sufferings, the triumphs of goodness from its temptations ;-to the seeming plan of general progress, which elicits truth by the self-destruction of error, and by the extinction of generations gives perpetual rejuveniscence to the world; this appeal, which is another name for the scheme of natural religion, is dismissed with scorn ; and sin and sorrow and death are flung in defiance across our path ;-barriers which we must remove, ere we can reach the presence of a benignant God. Come with us, it is said, and listen to the wail of the sick infant; look into the dingy haunts where
* See Note A.
poverty moans its life away ; bend down your ear to the accursed hum that strays from the busy hives of guilt ; spy into the hold of the slave-ship; from the factory follow the wasted child to the gin-shop first, and then to the cellar called its home; or look even at your own tempted and sinbound souls, and your own perishing race, snatched off into the dark by handfuls through the activity of a destroying God; and tell us, did our benevolent Creator make a creature and a world like this? A Calvinist who puts this question is playing with fire. But I answer the question explicitly: all these things we have met steadily, and face to face; in full view of them, we have taken up our faith in the goodness of God; and in full view of them we will hold fast that faith. Nor is it just or true to affirm, that our system hides these evils, or that our practice refuses to grapple with them. And if you confess, that these ills of life would be too much for your natural piety; if you declare, that these rugged foundations and tempestuous elements of Providence would starve and crush your confidence in God, while ours strikes its roots in the rock, and throws out its branches to brave the storm, are you entitled to taunt us with a faith of puny growth? Meanwhile, we willingly assent to the principle which this appeal to evil is designed to establish; thal, with much apparent order, there is some apparent d in the phenomena of the world : that from the latter, by itself, we should be unable to infer any goodness and be volence in God; and that were not the former clearly the predominant result of natural laws, the character of the Carca Cause of all things would be involved in agonizing gloom. The mass of physical and moral evil we do not proces fully to explain; we think that in no system whatever 1 there any approach to an explanation ; and we are accustome to touch on that dread subject with the humility of filial trusts not with the confidence of dogmatic elucidation.
Surely the fall of our first parents, I shall be reminded,
as to their
gives the requisite solution. The disaster which then befel the
Now, as a statement of fact, all this may or may not be true. Of this I say nothing. But who does not see that, as an explanation, it is inconsistent with itself, partial in its application, and leaves matters incomparably worse than it found them? It is inconsistent with itself; for Adam, perfectly pure and holy as he is reputed to have been, gave the only proof that could exist of his being neither, by succumbing to the first temptation that came in his way; and though finding no enjoyment but in the contemplation of God, gave himself up to the first advances of the devil. Never surely was a reputation for sanctity so cheaply won. The canonizations of the Romish Calendar have been curiously bestowed, on beings sufficiently remote from just ideas of excellence; but, usually, there is something to be affirmed of them, legendary or otherwise, which, if true, might justify a momentary admiration. But our first parent was not laid even under this necessity, to obtain a glory greater than canonization; he had simply to do nothing, except to fall, in order to be esteemed the most perfectly holy of created minds. Most partial, too, is this theory in its application; for disease and hardship, and death unmerited as the infants, afflict the lower animal creation. Is this, too, the result of the fall? If so, it is an unredeemed effect; if not, it presses on the benevolence of the Maker ; and by the physical analogies which connect man with the inferior creatures, force on us the impression, that his corporeal sufferings have an original source not dissimilar from theirs.