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the law would have answered and occasioned, provided it had been possible for sinners to survive this execution, both in respect to supporting the divine government, and removing the ill desert of sinners, it is evident, the scriptures teach no such doctrine. But, if nothing more be intended, by Christ's dying in our room and stead, than that he suffered that it might clearly appear, that God would support and honor his law, that the divine character might be clearly exhibited and vindicated, and the highest interest of the universe secured; in short, that God might be just to his law, to his character, and to his kingdom, and yet the justifier of him who believeth in Jesus; then it is, unquestionably, a doctrine plainly taught in scripture.
"If, however, this be all that is intended, by this form of speech, in our room, and in our stead, it may not be unsuitable to inquire whether other words, and forms of expression, might not be used which would communicate the idea, with much greater clearness. Notwithstanding the long practice even of the best writers has sanctioned the use of these terms; yet surely we should not on that account, indulge such a fondness for them, as to refuse to lay them aside, if continuing the use of them would endanger the salvation of one soul, who, through ignorance, or willingness to be deluded, might infer from them, that since Christ has died in our room
and stead, we certainly cannot be liable to death. If, indeed, the terms were scriptural, these observations might with more appearance of justice, be deemed sacrilegious; though, even in that case they would, like many other scripture phrases, need explanation. But, the truth is, that though they have been so long and so often used, that many probably, are scarcely aware of the fact, yet they really have no place in the Bible." pp. 171-173.
The passages, "Christ died for us; for the ungodly; for sinners,&c." are far from proving, that he died in our room and stead; they prove rather that he died for our benefit, or on our account. But they do not prove, that we must have been made a sin offering, in the same sense that he was, if he had not died for us. For although it is said, " he died for our sins," yet no one will affirm that he died instead of our sins.
Indeed, the sufferings of Christ were not strictly punitive; they were not the very punishment due to sinners, or the literal penalty of the law. They were a substitute for something. collect the obstacles, in the way of God's pardoning sinners, which they were designed to remove, and did remove, we may readily percieve the precise object of their substitution. In the author's language, “the sufferings of Christ were a substitute for the execution of the penalty, rather than for the penalty itself."
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For it is obvious, that the penalty of the law, and the execution of the penalty, are distinct things. The penalty consists in sufferings, endured by the guilty but the execution of the penalty, consists in the infliction of sufferings, by the offended Lawgiver. And since it is the execution of the penalty, on transgressors, which would display the holiness and justice of God, so the sufferings of Christ, in order to display this holiness and justice, must be a substitute for the execution of the penalty. As Mr. B. says,
"It is evident, the execution of the penalty of a law, and the suffering of an offender, which is a consequence of such an execution, are distinct things, and exhibit different characters. One exhibits the character of him, who enforces the law; and the other, the character of him who sufers the penalty. Since these are different things, it must be evident also, that the sufferings of Christ must have been designed as a substitute for the execution of the penalty, rather than for the punishment due to sinners. For it must be obvious, that the sufferings of Christ must have been designed to exhibit the character of God, honoring and supporting his law, showing his opposition to sin, and promoting the interest of his kingdom, rather than to make an exhibition of the character of sinners, in endless misery, enduring the punishment due to them
for sin, and thus removing their ill desert." pp. 180, 181. Hence, it is evident that Christ did not die in the room and stead of sinners; or that his sufferings were not the very penalty of the law, but were a substitute for the execution of its penalty. And it follows, that his sufferings did not actually remove the guilt of sinners.
But this view of the atonement leads us to "an inquiry concerning imputation," which occupies the seventh chapter of Mr. B's Essay. His statement of the case is,
"It has been the opinion of many, that for guilty men to be justified through Christ, it is necessary that his righteousness should be so imputed to him, as to be a ground on which they may be considered righteous in law. For, say they, there must be a perfect righteousness somewhere, to lay a foundation for justification; and as mankind have no such righteousness of their own, the righteousness of Christ must be imputed to them."
Now, the inquiry is, whether this is necessary, and whether the righteousness of Christ, is in fact, so imputed to believers, as to become their righteousness, in a law sense. Do the scriptures any where affirm, that Christ's righteousness is so imputed to them, as to become their righteousness? We venture to question, whether there be any such revelation as this. We have never seen those
passages, which convey such a sentiment: nor have we been led to suppose, that such an imputation of Christ's righteousness is necessary.
We well remember, that Abraham's faith was said to be imputed to him for righteousness: and that from this, it was argued that the faith of every believer is imputed to him for righteousness.But, we have yet to learn from scripture, that Christ's righteousness is so imputed to them, as to become their righteousness. Indeed, it seems impossible, that their faith can so receive the righteousness of Christ, as to make it their own.
Were it admitted, however, that Christ's righteousness is supposed to be thus imputed, it is still liable to this capital objection; that it rests the salvation of sinners wholly on the principles of law and justice, which is contrary to the whole tenor of the gospel. For, if Christ, as a legal substitute for any part of mankind, has suffered the full penalty of the law, then justice, in every sense, is satisfied; it can require no more sufferings. Nay, justice will then demand their exemption from punishment. On this ground, therefore, no forgiveness or grace could be exercised, in releasing them from punishment; it would only be treating them justly.
respect to the righteousness of Christ, considered as their's, then saints are really justified by works, in a law sense; not, indeed, by their own works, but by the works of their legal substitute. If saints are justified by the obedience of their substitute, it is the same thing as if they were justified by their own obedience, so far as it respects their being justified by works. It is evidently, all on the principles of law and justice; and there is no grace in the matter.If a man engage to perform a certain work, for a reward which is proposed, it makes no difference, whether he do the work himself, or procure another to do it for him. Let the work be done according to agreement, and he is entitled to his reward. So, if Christ has done for believers, the work which the law required them to do, God is now bound, on the principles of strict justice, to bestow the promised reward, eternal life. There is no grace, but stern, unbending justice here.". pp. 203, 203.
But, if it be said, saints are unworthy in themselves, and so do not deserve happiness; still, they are not unworthy, in the sense in which they are viewed as possessing Christ's perfect righteousness. So far from it, that in this sense, they merit eternal happiness, by their substituted perfect righteousness. However guilty
in themselves, still, when viewed as having a perfect righteousness
"So, if Christ, as a legal substitute for believers, has obeyed the law, so that God justifies them, and makes them happy, out of from Christ, they must be made
happy, according to strict justice. For, on this scheme, they have suffered, in him, all that they deserve to suffer. And, as all their ill desert is thus done away, and they now have a perfect righteousness, they can make a legal demand of happiness. Nor, does it alter the case, to affirm that it was grace in Christ, to take the place of transgressors. It removes no difficulty. If he suffered and obeyed as a legal substitute, there is no grace in exempting believers from punishment, and in making them happy! All yet, proceeds on the principles of law and justice; contrary to the plain testimony of the gospel, that the salvation of sinners is all of grace. For, in the gospel, their salvation is said to be, not of works, nor of law; but entirely by another dispensation. Besides, the scheme before us, is absurd in itself. In a law sense, one being cannot suffer, nor obey, for another. law does not admit the obedience of one being, in behalf of another. Its unbending language is "The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him: and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him."
Now, these objections to the doctrine of imputation, appear insuperable. We know not how they can be obviated. And from the view already given of the nature and design of the atonement, we do not feel it necessary, that they should be obviated. For, if the atonement of Christ has re
moved all the obstacles, which opposed their salvation, we are unable to see, why God may not pardon the guilt, or remit the just punishment of believers. And having done this, why he may not make them eternally happy in heaven, on account of Christ's atonement; even, though they remain utterly unworthy in themselves. Indeed, the tendency of this procedure is such, as will prepare them to unite in the very song of the redeemed, "Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins, in his own blood; to him be glory forever and ever."
It must, however, be remembered, that faith in the blood of Christ is necessary, that sinners may be saved. This was remembered by the author. And in the eighth chapter of his Essay, he has assigned some reasons why this faith is necessary. Indeed, this is as necessary, in order to obtain salvation, as the atonement itself was; and substantially for the same reasons. For, if God should pardon the sinner, who has no faith, and who, of course, is not reconciled to the Savior, he would pardon and save one who is yet a rebel: one, who is yet impenitent and opposed to the law.
He could not, therefore, show due respect for his law; nor, indeed, for his government. To pardon one who has no faith in Christ, would be to give up honor of the law, and the rectitude of his government. Indeed, if God should pardon and justify
sinners, who have no faith, he could not appear just to his own character.
"By the requirements and threatenings of his law, he manifested a regard for holiness, and an abhorance of sin. In giving his beloved son to die on the cross, to make an atonement for sin, he manifested the same feelings, and displayed the same glorious character. But, should he now justify those, who have no faith in the atonement, no acquiescence in it, and no approbation for it, he would counteract, and contradict what has thus been manifested in his law, and in the sufferings and death of Christ. In doing this, he would justify those who were opposed to Christ, which would be an implicit acknowledgment that their opposition was right; indeed, it would be taking part with them in their opposition. Hence his character would appear inconsistent and suspicious. Holy beings would be at a loss, what opinion they might form, respecting his real feelings. They might fear him; but they would lose their confidence, and would scarcely find it in their hearts to love him. Since, therefore, all who are destitute of faith in the blood of Christ are opposed to him, it is impossible that any such can ever be justified.-Faith in the blood of Christ is, therefore, indispensibly necessary to justification. Christ is not the end of the law for righteousness to unbelievers, or to them that
have not faith; but he is the end of the law for righteouness, to every one that believeth."" pp. 226,
Besides, pardon would do the unbeliever no good. Admit him to heaven and he could not be happy there, so long as he remains an unbeliever, and unreconciled to the Divine character and government. But, if this view of the subject is correct, it overthrows at once a leading argument in support of the doctrine of universal salvation. Though Christ's atonement is sufficient for the salvation of all men, it is yet of no avail for them that do not believe in his atonement. Hence, if the doctrine of universal salvation is argued from the sufficiency of Christ's atonement, the doctrine of universal sanctification and faith must also be maintained, or the argument is utterly inconclusive. But the fulness of the atonement furnishes no evidence of universal sanctification. Nor do we find this evidence, in any part of the bible. We, therefore, learn the utter fallacy of the hope of salvation, without faith in Christ, notwithstanding the complete fulness of his atouement.
We now come to the "Conclusion" of Mr. B's Essay, in which he takes notice of several opinions, respecting the atonement, which, if his views are correct, are obviously erroneous. But, passing over these, we shall attend briefly to some of those inferences, which result from what