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-not the purity of his nature, but the compassion of his heart—not his inclination to punish, but his determination to pardon.
On the same principle, and with equal reason, it might be said; The chief design of the gospel is -not to reveal an all-sufficient Saviour for enormous offenders-nor to announce the pardon of all sin, and perfect peace with God, through the death of Jesus, to those who are under the sentence of condemnation for breaking the law; but-to express the high displeasure, and the unchangeable hatred of God, against sin. Yet every one sees how absurd it would be, thus to represent the glad tidings of salvation by Jesus Christ. Not more absurd, however, than so to represent the atonement, For without that, there is no gospel for the guilty -no glad tidings for any whom the law condemns. According to this position, the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ, and the gracious gospel, unite with the broken law in denouncing vengeance-in working a sense of wrath in the conscience; and, therefore, in exciting apprehensions of eternal ruin. Nay, were it proved, that the capital design of our Lord's atonement was, the manifestation of God's hatred to sin; we might venture to assert the same, respecting the grant of complete pardon, and the enjoyment of perfect salvation in the ultimate happiness. Because it will always be true, and always acknowledged by saints as a fact; that God, in the whole work of salvation, expressed his abhorrence of sin.
But of what crime has that benevolent and merciful term, ATONEMENT, been convicted, that it * Rom. iii. 15. 2 Cor. iii. 6, 7.
must be compelled to speak what it never thought? Does it not naturally and immediately suggest the idea of expiation, or of reconciliation-of something that speaks peace to an offender's conscience, with reference to faults or crimes committed? If the principal intention of our Lord's penal sufferings and accursed exit had been, to exhibit the divine opposition to sin; why should his unexampled sufferings and infamous death be called THE ATONEMENT? a name, doubtless, extremely unappropriate, and, in such a connection, absolutely unparalleled. Nay, instead of being called the atonement for sin, why were they not denominated penal justice, divine vengeance, or fiery indignation, against apostasy and rebellion? Predilection for hypothesis must, surely, be very strong, in sensible and pious persons, before they can be induced to associate such heterogeneous conceptions as are connected in this position!
Did I ask, Of what crime that benevolent and merciful term, atonement, had been convicted, that it must be compelled to speak what it never thought? It seems, alas! to have been found guilty of implicitly, but strongly maintaining, That the substitutionary and penal death of the Incarnate Son actually reconciled to the divine Father a great number of our apostate species, even when they were enemies to him; and ascertains its own application to the consciences of all those for whom it was made. Now such being the genuine import of our Lord's atoning death, we are led to consider it, not merely as the medium by which mercy may be exercised consistently with justice; but as being
* Rom. v. 10.
in itself the most wonderful of all facts, and the greatest of all favours--as being the exercise and the evidence of that mercy, which comprehends and ascertains every necessary blessing.t-Whereas, if we view the atonement of Christ as chiefly intended to express the divine indignation against sin, and that expression of God's displeasure as the medium by which mercy may be exercised consistently with justice; without considering either all mankind, or any select part of our guilty species, as actually reconciled to God by it: we have little or nothing more than the name of atonement.
Besides, it is not merely a manifestation of divine displeasure against sin, however bright or terrible such manifestation may be, that renders the exereise of saving mercy consistent with the claims of justice. Because we have the highest authority for asserting, that the damned in hell experience the most emphatical expressions of divine anger against sin; without the least shadow of tendency, in those awful and practical expressions of God's displeasure, to render the exercise of mercy consistent with the demands of justice.-No: it is not personally sustaining the keenest sensations of God's displeasure against sin, though under the curse of divine law, and the stroke of penal justice; but the vicariously suffering of that curse by an accepted Substitute, which makes atonement for sin, and harmonizes the displays of pardoning mercy with the demands of punishing justice. Such were the sufferings of Jesus Christ: and hence an apostle has taught us to consider the divine Father, as not only exercising mercy and faithfulness, but
* Rom. viii. 32.
JUSTICE also, when he pardons those who are the subjects of real repentance-those for whom our adorable Sponsor sustained the curse.* For when the Eternal Father exhibited his incarnate Son as a propitiation, to declare his righteousness in the remission of sins; he not only gave us the highest evidence, that without satisfaction our sin could not be justly remitted; but also that, full satisfaction being made for sin by the Sponsor, it could not be justly imputed to the principals. Because, for the Supreme Governor to pardon sinners without satisfaction, and finally to punish those for whom plenary satisfaction has been made, seem equally inconsistent with divine rectitude.
Once more: The hypothesis on which I am animadverting, maintains, That redemption is an effect of our Lord's atonement, and that all the redeemed shall be finally happy. That all the redeemed shall be everlastingly blessed, I firmly believe: but that redemption is an effect of the atonement, I am far from being convinced. Briefly to, investigate this particular, it may be observed, That the sacred writers exhibit the vicarious death of our Lord in various points of light, according to that variety of situation and of want, by which they characterize mankind in a fallen state. Are we, for instance, described by those infallible writers, as the objects of God's righteous anger, and as excluded from all communion with him? they represent the death of Jesus, under the notion of a sacrifice, making reconciliation, and as the medium of beatifying intercourse with Heaven.t Are.we con
1 John i. 9. Gal. iii. 13.
+ Rom. v. 10. Heb. ix. 14. 14. x. 19-22,
sidered as in a state of subjection to the penal sanction of divine law, and to the awful demands of eternal justice? the death of Immanuel is represented under the notion of a ransom, or price of redemption, from that miserable situation.† Or, are we considered, more generally, as disobedient and revolted subjects of the Most High-subjects, that have despised his laws, trampled upon his authōrity, profaned his character, and committed innumerable outrages upon his honour? the death of our adorable Substitute, is represented as an awful punishment, making plenary satisfaction to the high demands of Infinite Majesty, for the complicated, enormous, boundless evil.
Such are the diversified wants of men, considered as justly condemned creatures; and such the varied, yet ever-merciful aspect of our Lord's death! But whether that most wonderful and most interesting of all deaths, be viewed under the notion of a sacrifice, the proper effect of which is atonement; of a price, the happy effect of which is redemption; or of a punishment, the genuine effect of which is plenary satisfaction; we have no more ground to consider the blessing of redemption as an effect of the atonement, than we have to pronounce the atonėment an effect of redemption, or to represent them both as effects of satisfaction. Because they are all represented, in the volume of revelation, as proceeding IMMEDIATELY FROM THE DEATH of our allsufficient Sponsor; or as flowing in the blood of
+ Matth. xx. 28. Eph. i. 7. Col. i. 14. Rev. v. 9, 10. ↑ Isa. liii. 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12. 1 Pet. ii. 24. iii. 18. Gal. iii. 13.