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The death of Christ hath made a full satisfaction to God for all the sins of believers.
"He was oppressed, and he was afflicted," saith the prophet, Isa. 53:7; or the words might be fitly rendered, it was exacted, and answered. So Col. 1: 14, "In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sin." Here we have the benefit, namely redemption, interpreted by the phrase, "even the forgiveness of sins ;" and we have also the matchless price that was laid down to purchase it, the blood of Christ. So again, "By his own blood he entered once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us." Heb. 9:12. Here is eternal redemption, the mercy purchased his own blood the price that procured it.
Now as this doctrine of Christ's satisfaction is so necessary, weighty, and comfortable in itself, and yet so much opposed and obscured by enemies of the truth, I shall show the nature of Christ's satisfaction, or what it is; then establish the truth of it, and prove that he made full satisfaction to God for our sins; and then apply it.
I. What is the satisfaction of Christ, and what doth it imply? I answer, satisfaction is the act of Christ, Godman, presenting himself as our surety, in obedience to God and love to us, to do and to suffer all that the law required of us: thereby freeing us from the wrath and curse due to us for sins.
1. It is the act of God-man; no other was capable of giving satisfaction for an infinite wrong done to God. But by reason of the union of the two natures in his wonderful person, he could do it, and hath done it for us. The human nature supplied what was necessary in its kind; it gave the matter of the sacrifice: the Divine nature stamped the dignity and value upon it, which made it an adequate compensation: so that it was the act of God-man; yet so that each nature retained its
own properties, notwithstanding their joint influence in producing the effect. If the angels in heaven had laid down their lives, or if the blood of all the men in the world had been shed by justice, this could never have satisfied: the worth and value of this sacrifice would still have been wanting. It was God that redeemed the church "with his own blood." Acts, 20:28. If God redeem with his own blood, he redeems as God-man, without any dispute.
2. If he satisfy God for us, he must present himself before God, as our surety, in our stead, as well as for our good; else his obedience had availed nothing for us; to this end he was "made under the law," Gal. 4:4, came under the same obligation with us, and that as a surety, for so he is called. Heb. 7:22. Indeed his obedience and sufferings could be exacted from him upon no other account. It was not for any thing he had done that he became a curse. It was prophesied of him, "The Messiah shall be cut off, but not for himself," Daniel, 9:26; and being dead, the Scriptures plainly assert it was for our sins, and upon our account: so "Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures." 1 Cor. 15: 3.
And it is well observed by divines, who vindicate the vicariousness and substitution of Christ in his sufferings, that all those Greek particles which we translate for, when applied to the sufferings of Christ, imply the meritorious, deserving, procuring cause of those sufferings. So you find, "He offered one sacrifice, uzg aμaprav, for sins." Heb. 10: 12. Christ once suffered, wegt, for sins." 1 Peter, 3: 18. "He was delivered, fa, for our offences." Rom. 4:25. "He gave his life a ransom, air, for many." Matt. 20: 28. And some confidently affirm that this last particle is never used in any other sense in the whole book of God; as an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth," that is, one
in lieu of
another. And indeed, this very consideration is that which supports the doctrine of the imputation of our sins to Christ, and of Christ's righteousness to us. Rom. 5:19. For how could our sins be laid on him, but as he stood in our stead? or his righteousness be imputed to us, but as he was our surety, performing it in our place? So that to deny Christ's sufferings in our stead, is to lose the corner-stone of our justification, and overthrow the very pillar which supports our faith, comfort, and salvation. Indeed if this had not been, he would have been the righteous Lord, but not "the Lord our righteousness," as he is styled, Jer. 33: 16. So that it were
but a vain distinction, to say it was for our good, but not in our stead; for had he not been in our stead, we could not have had the benefit.
3. The internal moving cause of Christ's satisfaction for us, was his obedience to God, and love to us. That it was an act of obedience is plain from Phil. 2: 8, "He became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." Now obedience respects a command, and such a command Christ received to die for us, as himself tells us, "I lay down my life of myself; I have power to lay it down, and power to take it again: this commandment have I received of my Father." John, 10:18. So that it was an act of obedience with respect to God, and yet a most free and spontaneous act with respect to himself. And that he was moved to it out of pity and love to us, we are assured: "Christ loved us, and gave himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God." Eph. 5:2. Upon this Paul sweetly reflected, "Who loved me and gave himself for me." Gal. 2:20. As the external moving cause was our misery, so the internal was his own love and pity for us.
4. The matter of Christ's satisfaction was his active and passive obedience to all the law of God required. I know there are some that doubt whether Christ's active
obedience has any place here, and so whether it be imputed as any part of our righteousness. It is confess ed that Scripture most frequently mentions his passive obedience (or sufferings) as that which made the atonement, and procures our redemption, Matthew, 20:28, and 26: 28, Romans, 3: 24, 25, and elsewhere; but his passive obedience is never mentioned exclusively, as the sole cause, or matter of satisfaction. But in those places where it is mentioned by itself, it is put for his whole obedience, both active and passive, by a usual figure of speech; and in other scriptures it is ascribed to both, as Gal. 4:4, 5, he is said to be made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law." Now his being "made under the law" to this end, implies not only his subjection to the curse of the law, but also to its commands. So Rom. 5: 19, "As by one man's disobedience, many were made sinners; so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." It were a manifest injury to this text also, to limit it to the passive obedience of Christ. To be short, this twofold obedience of Christ stands opposed to a twofold obligation that fallen man is under; the one to do what God requires, the other to suffer what he has threatened for disobedience. Suitably to this double obligation, Christ comes under the commandment of the law, to fulfil it actively, Matt. 3: 15; and under the maledic tion of the law, to satisfy it passively. And whereas it is objected by some, If he fulfilled the whole law for us by his active, what need then of his passive obedience? We reply, great need; because both these make up that one, entire, and complete obedience by which God is satisfied, and we justified. The whole obedience of Christ, both active and passive, make up one entire perfect obedience; and therefore there is no reason why one particle, either of the one or of the other should be excluded.
5. The effect and fruit of this his satisfaction, is our freedom, ransom, or deliverance from the wrath and curse due to us for our sins. Such was the dignity, value, and completeness of Christ's satisfaction, that in strict justice it merited our redemption and full deliverance; not only a possibility that we might be redeemed and pardoned, but a right whereby to be so. If he be made a curse for us, we must then be redeemed from the curse; so the apostle argues, "Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that God might be just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus." Rom. 3:25, 26. Mark the design and end of God in exacting satisfaction from Christ; it was to declare his righteousness in the remission of sin to believers; and lest we should lose the emphatical word, he repeats it, "to declare, I say, his righteousness." Every one can see how his mercy is declared in remission: but he would have us take notice, that his righteousness and justice are vindicated in the justification of believers. Oh how comfortable a text is this! Doth Satan or conscience set forth thy sin in all its discouraging circumstances and aggravations? God hath set forth Christ to be a propitiation. Must justice be manifested, satisfied, and glorified? So it is in the death of Christ, ten thousand times more than ever it could be in thy damnation. Thus you have a brief account of the satisfaction made by Jesus Christ.
II. We might repeat all that has been said, to establish the truth or fact of Christ's satisfaction; proving its reality; that it is not an improper, fictitious satisfaction, as some have called it; but real, proper, and full, and as such accepted of God. For his blood is the blood of a Surety, Heb. 7: 22, who came under the