« السابقةمتابعة »
to supersede the execution of the threatening, Satan, instead of being a liar from the beginning, would be justified in the sense he put upon the threatening to Eve, "Ye shall not surely die." The lie would have been chargeable on God himself, and the counsel given by Satan wise and wholesome; and he would have appeared more an object of regard and trust than God. Since, then, Christ was evidently under the law, and that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them that are under it; it must have made the same demands on him, as it did on the sinner; and he must have answered these demands; otherwise no sinner can have any good ground to expect deliverance from the law.
2. THE sufferings of Christ were evidently a proper sacrifice for sin.
SACRIFICES have been in universal use among all nations, Jews and Gentiles, and have constituted a very solemn part of their religious worship. Whether these were invented by men, or originated in a divine institution, has been a subject of much discussion; but our present design does not require any investigation of this. Suffice it to say, that they have no foundation in the moral law, are not discoverable by it, and do not possess one moral quality. Even the sacrifice of Christ, of which these were types, though morally valuable, did not originate in the moral law, but in a positive institution. It was admissible, however, by that law. One thing is undeniable that, among both Jews and Gentiles, they had always a relation to sin, and were offered to God, with a view to atone for it. Had not Abel known the divine will, on this head, his sacrifice, instead of evidencing his faith, would have been an act of presumptuous unmeaning will-worship.
THE Jews had an explicit law directing and regulat
ing every thing belonging to sacrifice. There were various things about these sacrifices which demand our notice, as they relate to the subject we are considering. They had a peculiar respect to sin. Guilt was transferred or imputed to the victim. In Lev. iv. the offering for the priest, for the congregation, for the ruler, or for any one of the people, was in consequence of sin committed by them. The victim was a sin offering, or atonement for the sin committed. Before it was slain, guilt was transferred to it by imposition of hands. This was done by, or for, the party who had sinned. That this was the meaning of that rite is plain from the case of the scape-goat, "And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, PUTTING THEM UPON THE HEAD OF THE GOAT-and the goat shall BEAR UPON HIM all their iniquities," &c. Lev. xvi. 21, 22. That the goat became guilty, is evident from the pollution contracted by the priest, and the person who conduct. ed it to the wilderness, which rendered it necessary that they should wash themselves. This sacrificial rite was to atone for sin, and purify the people. "For on that day shall the priest make atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the Lord." ver. 30.-These victims were offered to God by the officiating priest. Prophets and apostles ministered The victim was slain, and its blood presented and sprinkled before God. The blood was the life of the beast, not to be eaten, but to make an atonement for the soul on the altar. Lev. xvii. 10. Whatever acknowlegement there was in this, of God's universal Lordship and bounty, it is evident that it had a special relation to him, as a righteous judge, to whom belong
ed the power of life and death. The guilty offerer stood before God as his supreme judge. His offering, and devoting, the life of the beast, was a confession that his own life was under forfeiture, by sin; and that the sacrifice was to take off the forfeiture, and to obtain pardon. Hence, the frequent repetition of these words, "The priest shall make an atonement, and it shall be forgiven."
THESE Sacrifices were all typical, and could atone only ceremonially; moral guilt still remaining. The ceremonial law, with all that belonged to it, had only a shadow of good things to come; and could not with its annual sacrifices, make the comers thereto perfect. "For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins." Heb. x. 1, 4. While these had an atoning effect, in their kind, yet could not expiate moral guilt; and were so long continued in the church, and connected with all her public worship; it afforded a strong proof that God would have a proper satisfaction to his justice, and atonement made for sin by a more valuable sacrifice, ere he would extend pardon to the sinner. These sacrifices bore no proportion to the offence by sin; and they must have been the most unmeaning observances, if they did not prove, that God would insist upon an atonement proportioned to the offence; and that such would actually be made. The Apostle, in his argumentative epistle to the Hebrews, explains the nature and design of these sacrifices, and points out the relation they had to Christ, the great sacrifice. Alluding to the offerings of the legal priests, and to answer the design of them he says, "It was of necessity that this man should have somewhat also to offer." Heb. viii. 8. The sacrifice he offered was himself, and by it that atonement
was effected, which the legal sacrifices could only ty pify. "He needed not daily, as these high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's, for this he did once, when he offered up himself." Heb. vii. 27. By imputation, the legal victim became stained or polluted with guilt, and was slain to purify it: so Christ was deeply stained by the imputation of our guilt, in order that he, by offering himself a sacrifice, might purge it away, or atone for "When he had by himself purged our sins, he sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high." Heb. i. 3. As the guilty legal victim was offered unto God, as a substitute for the trangressor, so Christ offered up himself to God as our surety. Heb. ix. 14.
As the scape-goat was to bear all the iniquities of the children of Israel, into a land of separation, though he could not atone for them; yet prefigured Christ, "Who was once offered to bear the sins of many, and put them away by the sacrifice of himself." What could not be effected by the continued repetition of the legal sacrifices, Jesus accomplished by one offering; the virtue of which reached the sins of his people committed from the beginning. Had not this been the effect of it," he must often have suffered since the foundation of the world."
THE attempt of some, to reduce the sacrifice of Christ to a mere figure or metaphor, as being no real sacrifice is vain. The language used to express Christ's sacrifice is so explicit that, if it can only be taken metaphorically, it will be impossible to determine when words are literally used. It may with equal propriety be affirmed that all his offices are metaphorical; that the covenant of which he is the surety is only figurative; and that all the effects which the Scriptures, in the
plainest language, ascribe to to his sacrifice, as reconciliation, pardon, the destruction of sin, the eternal inheritance, &c. are no more than figures of speech, implying nothing real. Nay, how shall we know that the whole word of God is not a group of metaphors?
3. THE sufferings of Christ are represented as for us, in such terms as unavoidably imply legal substitu
THAT he died for sinners is not denied, nor can it, being so frequently asserted; but in what sense the little word FOR is to be taken, has been a matter of much discussion. Some contend that it never denotes more than that the sufferings and death of Christ were for the good of sinners. This sense is defended by all who deny the doctrine of atonement. Others consider the word as implying proper substitution; and that Jesus suffered the punishment which was due to sinners, and in terms of the same law which bound them. One would think that this could not fail to appear convincing to all who read the Scriptures with attention, and without prejudice. I shall take notice of a few of those places which, I apprehend, will sufficiently substantiate this.
On this subject Paul expresses himself thus. "The love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead." 2 Cor. Natural death cannot be meant, because the death of Christ for them, in any sense, could avail them nothing, after their death: besides it would also infer that the life ver. 15. is only natural, whereas it is evidently spiritual. The Apostle's argument is this; "If sinners had not been dead, Christ would not have died for them." But if they had been dead in a natural sense, he could not have died for them, as they