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been represented as trivial by the adversaries of the doctrine of atonement; and what constituted the most material part of them, is altogether denied the sufferings of his soul, under a sense of divine wrath.
In order to form just conceptions of the greatness of these sufferings, it is necessary to enquire into the cause from which they proceeded. This is the infinite evil of sin. When we speak of sin as infinitely evil, we do not mean to affirm that the act of the soul, in sinning, is infinitely intense; as this is impossible in a creature, whose powers are limited. The malignity of sin, from which its demerit arises, must be considered as it relates to God, the divine law-giver. He and the rational creature, though closely related, are infinitely distant in point of greatness and excellence.. Men are under an obligation to love God. This obligation must be great in proportion to the infinite excellence of the object. Worth and excellence are the proper reasons and grounds of loving any object; and as these, in God, are infinite, men must be infinitely obliged to love him. This is undeniable; as they cannot be under the same obligation to love one another, or the highest seraph, as to love God. Sin is a violation of this obligation, or acting contrary to it the evil, then, relatively considered, must be proportioned to the obligation.
THOUGH the infinite evil of sin is inferred from the infinite dignity of the object against whom it is committed, it will not warrant the conclusion, that a good action must be infinitely good, because performed to the same object. The contrary is true. Sin is heinous, in proportion to what it denies to the object, or attempts to take from it. Sin treats God as a contemptible being, neither to be regarded nor feared; and
therefore treats him with contempt. It depreciates his excellence, love, and goodness; impeaches his justice, denies his holiness, and sets his power and anger at defiance. It is an attempt to pluck God from his throne; to destroy his blessedness; his being. It will not serve any purpose to object, that sin cannot at all affect God, so cannot be infinitely evil; because for the same reason we may deny the existence of sin altogether. On the other hand, the goodness of an action must be in proportion to what it gives to the object. Besides God's respect to any man's obedience must be according to the degree of respect to which he is entitled; but the respect due to man, is infinitely less than what is due to God; because of the meanness of man, and his infinite distance from God.
or weight of
THIS view of sin does not render all sins equally heinous; does not destroy degrees of punishment; nor render it impossible to punish it equal to its demerit. Though all sins have an infinite evil, from the object; and are, in that respect, equal, they may be aggravated from other considerations. Enmity and contempt may be much more intense in some persons, than in others; or in the commission of some sins, than of others. Though the punishment of all sins will be equal in duration, yet the intensity of it, divine wrath, may be much diversified. sophistical objection to this, that if God render the punishment much more intense in any case, he must also sustain the person to bear it, which destroys the different degrees of misery. The support which God will give to those whom he punishes, will not be as in the correction of his children; which is something to alleviate and counterbalance their distress; but it will consist in preserving in them degrees of sensi
It is a mere
bility proportioned to the demerit of their sin, and the degree of pain he will have them to feel.
FROM this view of sin it will be evident, that the sufferings of Christ must have been very great. They must have been proportioned to the demerit of sin, unless there was a mitigation; but if this could have been done, there would have been no occasion for the Son of God to suffer; nay, the mitigation might have been extended so as to supersede all punishment. Scripture no where warrants us to conclude, that there was a mitigation.
BOTH his body and soul were the subject of suffering. By the savage cruelty of his enemies, his body was lacerated and disfigured. His head was pierced with the mock thorny crown, his back furrowed deep with the merciless scourge, his hands and feet transfixed with nails, and his body suspended on the accursed tree. Such methods of torture must have produced exquisite pain. This, however, was trivial in comparison of what he felt in his soul, under the deepest sense of divine displeasure. That he should have suffered this, has been represented as injurious to the character of God, and all that he suffered in his soul, as only " labouring under painful anxiety of mind," and "a severe conflict with human infirmity." In the garden, when no instruments of torture were applied to him, he was in an agony which forced the bloody sweat, in a copious manner, through all the pores of his body. "He was sore amazed, and exceeding sorrowful even unto death." Thrice he expressed this request to his Father, "If it be possible, let this cup pass from me." Being depriv ed of the sense of his love, he cried out on the cross, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
THERE is no way by which to account for these things
in his sufferings, but his bearing the punishment of sin under a sense of divine wrath. In what way he could be made to feel divine wrath is very difficult to say, being infinitely holy, and the object of God's infinite love. He must however have had a very clear and affecting view of the dreadful nature of sin, as hateful unto God, and in its fearful penal consequences to men. The cir cumstances in which he was then placed; and the powerful operations of the Spirit in his soul, would co-operate to produce this view of sin in a very affecting manner. At the same time, God hid his face from him, and withdrew the sense of pleasant and comfortable influences, as the fruit of sin; which added greatly to the anxiety of his mind. This may be considered as bearing our sins, as distinguished from punishment. In addition to this, he felt a sense of the Father's wrath, as due to sin, or rather the effects of it. He deserted him; and laid him under a total suspension of the sense of his love; and delivered him over into the hands of Satan, who left no means untried to enhance his distress. These things made him say; "I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the ficods overflow me." Psalm. lxix. 2.*
• To assert, that Christ suffered the wrath of God, has been represented as absolutely irreconcilable with that infinite love of which he is, necessarily and invariably, the object. That this difficulty is rather imaginary, than real, will appear from a comparsion of love and wrath. These are not passions in God, as in man, disturbing the tranquility of his mind, and rendering him less master of himself, through vehement emotion or agitation. Love, in God, is his approbation of any object, which is agreeable to his nature, with a disposition to make it happy, by communicating his goodness to it. means the actual communication of his goodness to the object making it happy.---Wrath in God is the necessary and holy opposition of his nature to sin, with an unchangeable will to punish for it. This is the same with his hatred of sin. But wrath is more properly the effects of his hatred falling upon the guilty, on account of his sin, and rendering him miserable. Love and haired,
His love also
4. THE sufferings of Jesus were all inflicted by his Father. This has, indeed, been denied by many, who have opposed the doctrine of his proper atonement. They comprise them all under the obloquy, mal-treatment, and cruel death which he suffered from men; and the pain
or, which is the same thing, goodness and holiness, IN God, are not two opposite things, but the infinite excellence of his nature disposing him to act, in a different manner, towards objects differently qualified. These are in God: they are essential to God: they are God himself. The effects of these are the expres sion, or display, of goodness and holiness upon their respective objects, according These effects are as they are agreeable, or disagreeable, to the nature of God
never to be found but in the object; while the cause from which they proceed, exists only in God. It will now be evident, that nothing can possibly be the object, both of God's love and hatred, whether viewed as in himself, or in their effects, at the same time. No object can be both agreeable and contrary, to the divine nature, at the same time; approved and disapproved; loved and hated: nor can it be both punished and exempted from punishment; happy and miserable, at the same time. Rational creatures, as creatures, are objects of love and approbation IN God, and only their sin is the object of disapprobation, and hatred. God hates sin because it is contrary to his nature; but he cannot properly punish it, because it is incapable of suffering. He does not hate the person of the sinner, not even of the devil, but he punishes them, because they have offended him, and are capable of suffering. It will now appear that a person may, at the same time, be the object of God's approbation love, and esteem, and also the object, or rather subject of the effects of his disapprobation and hatred. God could not discover any thing in the Mediator rendering him an object of disapprobation or hatred. He was, therefore, in his person God-man, the object of infinite approbation and love. The Father announced this at his baptism, in these words, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." But though there was no reason why God should hate him, there was a good reason why he should make him feel the effects of his hatred; namely the relation he held to guilty sinners. He engaged to bear the punishment due to their sin. This was nothing else than his feeling or experiencing the effects of the divine hatred of sin, and fixed volition to punish it. All the pain, distress, reproach, and suffering, which he felt in his body; and all the agonizing sorrows of his soul, occasioned by descrtion, and a sense of of the divine displeasure, were the effects of God's hatred of sin. In experi encing these was Jesus made a curse, made sin, and bore the chastisement of our peace. Under all these sufferings, however, he was still beloved of his Father, as himself testifies: "Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life." God's immediate design in punishing for sin is not the destruction of it; for punishment cannot destroy it; nor is it at all because he has pleasure in the pain and misery of the sufferer; but it is to display the opposi kion of his nature to it, and his hatred of it, by glorifying his holiness and justice.