Sivut kuvina

But to those who allow the truth of the Mosaic hisa tory, and will therein trace the origin of sacrifices, it must appear evident, that sacrifice was from the beginning (as in the case of Abel) acceptable to God; and that faith made it so:--that offerings of creatures were sacrifices of atonement for sin ; while offerings of fruits were thank-offerings ;—that sacrifices for sin enforced plainly, though typically, these two impor. tant truths : 1st, that every sin caused a forfeiture of the offender's life ; and, 2dly, that God vouchsafed notwithstanding to have mercy on the sinner, and to accept of some other life as a ransom, in lieu of that forfeiture. Sacrifices, in short, were, from the first, seals of the covenant of mercy, into which God entered with man immediately after the fall; and there is nothing in point of their injustice that does not apply with greater force against the patriarchal and Mosaic sacrifices, than against that of Jesus Christ: for this latter, it must not be forgotten, was perfectly voluntary. His own language, even according to the Socinian translation of it, was, “ For this my Father “ loveth me, because I lay down my life, that I may “ take it again. None taketh it from me; but I lay " it down OF MYSELF. I have authority to lay it “ down, and I have authority to receive it again.” (() This completely annihilates the force of the objection, since it shows that the sufferings and death of Christ, being voluntary, must necessarily be consistent with the equity and justice of God, although the innocent

(1) John, x. 17, 18.

suffered that the guilty might be redeemed: that being, indeed, the only way in which the innocent can suffer without infringing upon justice.

It is of some importance to remark, that many of those who are loudest and most eager in urging this objection admit that Jesus suffered for our benefit; which is much the same as refuting their own argument: for surely there is just as little reason why an innocent person should suffer for the benefit of a criminal, as that he should suffer in his stead. Indeed, as Archbishop Tillotson remarks, “ If the mat" ter were searched to the bottom, all this perverse “ contention about our Saviour's suffering for our “ benefit, but not in our stead, will signify just no“ thing. For if Christ died for our benefit, so as some “ way or other by virtue of his death and sufferings, " to save us from the wrath of God, and to procure “ our escape from eternal death; this, for aught I “ know, is all that any body means by his dying in « our stead. For he that dies with an intention to do “ that benefit to another, as to save him from death, “ doth certainly to all intents and purposes die in his “ place and stead. And if they will grant this to be “ their meaning, the controversy is at an end; and “ both sides are agreed in the thing, and do only dif“ fer in the phrase and manner of expression; which is, " to seek a quarrel and an occasion of difference where “ there is no real ground for it; a thing which ought “ to be very far from reasonable and peaceable minds. “ For many of the Socinians say, that our Saviour's

“ voluntary obedience and sufferings procured his “ exaltation at the right hand of God, and power and “ authority to forgive sins, and to give eternal life to as many as he pleased; so that they grant that his “ obedience and sufferings, in the meritorious conse“ quence of them, redound to our benefit and advan“ tage as much as we pretend and say they do; only “ they are loth in express terms to acknowledge that “ Christ died in our stead: and this, for no other reason that I can imagine, but because they have denied it so often and so long."

The last objection I shall here notice has been stated in the following terms: “ According to the “ usual theory of atonement, none less than a Divine “ person can bear away the sins of the whole world; yet a Divine person cannot atone for sin, because “ Deity cannot die.” This, it must be acknowledged, presents a difficulty of formidable aspect; yet it is one which arises rather from our ignorance of the nature of death, than from any inadequate views of the nature of atonement. The following observations will, I trust, greatly diminish the difficulty, if they do not remove it. The death of a being constituted of a material and an immaterial part, does not consist in a perfect extinction of its existence, but in a separation of its constituent parts. What we call the death of an animal is a separation of the spiritual principle of animation and sensation from the organized matter which it animated. The death of a man is, in a similar manner, the separation of the spiritual source of sensation, volition, and action, from the material organization which

forms the human body. “ The body without the spirit " is dead ; " (m) it is no longer an active, thinking, sensitive, determining being, but an insensible, inactive lump of clay. After death the man no longer exists in his compound nature; his constituent parts are separated; his body to be still farther decomposed and divided, but his soul to remain entire, a single, indivisible, indestructible soul as before. It does not follow, therefore, that the soul is dead: indeed, strictly speaking, a soul cannot die. None but a compound being can undergo that separation which constitutes death. But a soul is simple and indivisible; for if it were divisible into two or more parts, those parts, each partaking of the same spiritual essence, would each possess distinct consciousness, and would each, therefore, become a distinct soul; which is repugnant to reason. Hence it appears that a soul, though it may be annihilated by the power of Him who created it, cannot die. What is dead exists, however its mode of subsistence be changed; but what is annihilated has no existence. Admitting this, the objection 'must be relinquished; for, allowing Christ to have a soul (which all the Humanitarians do allow), it might as pertinently be objected, that since his soul cannot die, he cannot atone for sin: and therefore, since nothing Divine, nor any thing human, can atone for sin, and nothing else can (see Hebrew x. 4), it would result that sin cannot be atoned for at all, which is contrary to the uniform tenour of Scripture.

(m) James, ii. 26.

From this view of the subject it follows that, when the Divine and human spirit of the Redeemer ceased to animate his body, the person of Jesus Christ as properly died as did that of Moses, David, or any other, when such individual yielded up his spirit. It follows also, that the death of Jesus Christ neither caused any mutation in his Divine nature, nor in the powers and properties of his soul. As to the value or efficacy of his death, that manifestly depends upon the value of his person in the scale of being. Among animated beings relative importance is estimated by the proportionate extent to which the spirits which animate them carry their actions or their influence.

Thus we place a sparrow, a pigeon, and an eagle, successively higher in the scale : in like manner, a sheep, an ox, an elephant, would have assigned to them successively increased values. A rational and accountable being is naturally placed above all these: of rational beings, a man is reckoned superior to a child; a philosopher, to a peasant; a monarch, to one of his subjects: and the effects resulting from their deaths are proportionally felt. Hence, since Jesus Christ is, according to the system I am now explaining, infinitely -wiser than the profoundest philosopher, infinitely more powerful than the greatest monarch, his death must be sufficiently efficacious to cancel all the guilt which rendered that awful event necessary. “ Possessing (as “ Dr. Abbadie remarks) the glory of the Deity in the “ midst of infirmities and miseries incident to a nature “ like our own, he need undergo but one death of an “ infinite value; and God who gave him to suffer

« EdellinenJatka »