« السابقةمتابعة »
A. M. 4037, sential to the happiness of every moral creature, and profaneness and vice necessarily &c. or 5442. productive of misery; and when these commands are disobeyed, the sinner is punished Vulg. Er. 33, to reclaim him if possible from the evil of his ways, or at any rate to check the pro
&c. or 31.
gress of vicious contagion. Both these purposes are better served by the atonement made by Christ than they could have been by the punishment of the offenders. For the purpose of reformation, actual punishment is unnecessary to the humble and sincere penitent; for in him has already commenced without it, all the reformation of which a sinner is capable. To the rest of the intelligent creation, the sufferings of the only begotten and well-beloved Son of God unquestionably afford a more awful warning than any thing which could be inflicted on the sons of men; so that the very first motions of rebellious desires, should any such be excited in superior spirits, must be instantly checked, when they reflect on the atonement that was made for the sins of the human race, into the purposes of which we are assured, (a) that "even the angels desire to look," and to look undoubtedly for their own improvement.
Such is the general doctrine of redemption as it appears to be taught in Holy Scripture. In human systems it is indeed sometimes exhibited under a very different form. It has been said, and by an author of very considerable learning, (b) that the texts which speak of Christ's being "made sin for us," of "his bearing our sins on his own body on the tree," and of the " Lord's laying on him the iniquity of us all," imply, that his Divine Father bath "laid on him, or made to meet on him, not a single iniquity, but a whole mass and lump of sins collected together, and laid as a common burden upon him-even the sins of all the elect of God."
This is the doctrine of sin by imputation †, of which, I hope, enough has been said elsewhere to prove the absurdity and impiety. Were it possible, in the nature of things, to transfer the guilt of one person to another, and to lay it upon him as a burden, it could not be done without violating those laws of equity, which are established in the Scriptures, and engraven in the human heart. But to make this transfer is not possible; and we might with as much propriety speak of lifting from a piece of cloth any particular colour, and exchanging it for the sound of a trumpet, as of lifting from the elect their sins and laying them on Christ in exchange for his righteousness transferred to them. Guilt, as I have had occasion repeatedly to observe, is seated in the mind, and no man can become a sinner but by an act of his own will. If Christ therefore really took upon him the sins of his people by substitution, imputation, or any other means supposed able to accomplish such a purpose, he must have deliberately formed a wish (I write it with horror!) to have actually committed all those sins; but such a wish, though it would make any one capable of forming it, inherently guilty, could not have cancelled deeds that were done before he was born, nor have made those innocent, who had really been sinners. A deed once done cannot be undone; a volition which has been formed and carried into effect cannot be annihilated.
(a) 1 Peter i. 12.
(b) Dr Gill in his Body of Divinity.
It is maintained, I think, by all the Calvinists of the present day, and more particularly by those clergymen of the church of England, who arrogate to themselves exclusively the denomination of the True Churchmen. It is taught likewise in the Larger Catechism of the Westminster Assembly of Divines; but at present I do not recollect any thing in the Institutions of Calvin himself, which must accessarily be understood in so extravagant a sense. He says indeed (lib. ii. cap. xvi. § 5.), " Hæc nostra absolutio est quod in caput filii Dei translatus est reatus, qui nos tenebat pœnæ obnoxios;" and these words taken
by themselves, certainly look very like Dr Gill's transference of the sins of the elect to Christ; but in connection with the context, they may be understood as meaning nothing more than that the sufferings, due to us as the punishment of our sins, were transferred to the Son of God incarnate, when he died on the cross. Accordingly, in the next section, he says, " Filius Dei, omni vitio purissimus, iniquitatum tamen nostrarum probrum ac ignominiam induit, ac sua vicissim puritate nos operuit" words which will certainly admit of a more rational meaning than the exchange of righteousness for guilt between Christ and the elect.
Luke xix. 45.
By sincere repentance, the habitual dispositions are indeed changed, and those, who have From Matth. been sinners, become, through the Divine grace, objects of mercy; but no power can recal end, Mark xi. the days that are past, or make those actions, which have once been actually performed, to 15. to the end, have been not performed. To remove guilt from the sinner, and lay it upon the innocent, to the end, and may therefore safely be pronounced impossible even to Omnipotence, for it implies that a John xii. 19. to thing may be and not be at one and the same instant of time; and the doctrine which the end. teaches that this removal was made from the elect to Christ is an imagination of yesterday, which as it receives no countenance from Scripture or the earliest writers of the Christian church, is contrary to the laws of human thought and the established constitution of things. It is even more palpably absurd than the views which are taken, in the same school, of original sin. Those who think-if any do think, that guilt may be propagated from father to son, have something like an argument to urge for the transmission of Adam's sin to his numberless posterity; for all the men and women, who, by ordinary generation, have been introduced into the world, have undoubtedly derived their nature with every one of its communicable qualities from the primeval pair But Christ did not derive his nature from the elect, so that their guilt could, with that nature, be communicated to him; nor, as he was miraculously conceived by the Holy Ghost, can we attribute to him any degree of that taint, which many suppose, and may suppose without absurdity, to have been conveyed from Adam to all the other generations of men.
Nothing more therefore can be meant by "Christ's being made sin for us," and "bearing our sins in his own body on the tree," or by God's "laying on him the iniquity of us all," than that by his suffering we are freed from the punishment of our sins, and being redeemed from the power of the grave, are restored to a state of grace similar to that in which our first parents were placed in the terrestrial paradise, and constituted candidates, as they were, for glory and honour, and immortality in heaven. To render them fit for the enjoyment of a state of happiness so supernatural to them, God was graciously pleased to take them under his own immediate tuition, and to conduct them, as we have seen, both by oral instruction and by the inward influence of his Holy spirit, through this world to the next, so as to have enabled them, had they not forfeited their title to immortality, to acquire such principles, dispositions, and habits, as were necessary to qualify them for the society of angels and archangels and all the company of heaven; and he has been pleased to do the very same things for us as members of the Christian church. In the church, which is the ground and pillar of truth, (a) we have access to the Scriptures, which are abundantly sufficient to (b) "make us wise unto salvation ;" and with the church we have our Divine Master's promise (c) “ that the Holy Ghost the Comforter, whom he sent to his apostles, is to abide for ever—not with the society at large only, but with individuals also, in whom he is to dwell, whose bodies are therefore called by St Paul (d) temples of the Holy Ghost, and by whose strength it is that good Christians are enabled to "work out their own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who worketh in them both to will and to do of his good pleasure." (e)
If this be a fair view of the Christian scheme, many of those controversies which have long divided the family of Christ, appear to be little better than contentions about words, which accurate definitions and a small portion of candour might soon do away. All those are called, to whom the Gospel is preached by authority; and the whole Christian church is a society elected out of the world at large Such is the very meaning of the word ixxantía, which signifies any assembly collected together out of a large and mixed multitude by authority real or pretended (ƒ); and as Abraham was called from
(d) 1 Cor. vi, 19
(a) 1 Tim. iii. 15, (e) Philip. ii. 12, 13.
(b) 2. Tim. iii. 15.
(c) St John xiv. xv. xvi. (f) See Schleusner and Parkhurst on the Word.
&c. or 31.
A. M. 4037. his kindred and country, and his descendants afterwards from Egyptian bondage, and form&c. or 5442, ed into a society for the promotion of religion, that society was the church (inuxnsía) of God, Vulg. Er. 33, consisting of the elect, or God's chosen people. After the purposes of the Jewish church were served, and the church of Christ raised on its foundation, all to whom Christ and his apostles preached the Gospel, were again called to a still purer religion; and such as listened to the call, and embraced the Gospel on the terms offered to them, were incorporated into a society (ixxxnría) for the promotion of that religion; which society is called the church of God and of Christ, and its members God's elect or chosen people. We have seen that whole societies, of which many of the members were wicked, are said in the New Testament to have been called, elected, or chosen, for the purpose of disseminating through the world religious truth; but those who were so called are expressly enjoined, (a) to "give diligence to make their calling and election sure, (for their own salvation) by adding to their faith, virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, charity"; for if they do these things, they are assured that they shall never fall. In the Scriptures of the New Testament, I perceive no other calling and election than this; and when viewed without the commentaries of men, who labour to confound it with the doctrine of philosophical necessity, it is surely not difficult to be either understood or believed. The apostles were under the necessity of preaching to some nations before others, because they could not be each in different places at one and the same time; those to whom they first preached, were of course first called; such of those who were called, as embraced the truth, were elected into the church of Christ: and therefore God, to whom all things have been known from the beginning, is said to have chosen or elected those first fruits of the apostles' preaching" according to his eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord." This election has no reference whatever to the final salvation of individuals, as is evident from St Paul's comparing it with the election of Jacob in preference to his elder brother Esau, which is now, I believe, admitted universally to have no relation to the personal merits or final salvation of the brothers, but only to the question-which of them was to have the honour of being the ancestor of the Messiah, which it was impossible that both could have.
The questions respecting the conditions of justification, which have so long agitated the church of Christ, may likewise, I think, be easily resolved on this view of redemption, if mankind would lay aside their predilection for favourite phrases, and take their notions of Christianity from the word of God. The word justification appears to be used by the writers of the New Testament in different senses; but it is not difficult to ascertain each of these senses, or to distinguish them from one another, if we pay attention to the immediate object of the writer in every passage in which the word occurs. In its original sense justification is a forensic term, and signifies the acquittal, by a competent court, of a person charged with the transgression of some law, and his restoration to all the privileges in society, of which that transgression, if proved, would have for ever deprived him. In this sense of the word, an innocent person, when falsely accused and acquitted by human tribunals, is justified but not pardoned; whilst a real criminal, though he may be pardoned, cannot be justified. But that "there is not (in the scriptural sense of the word) a just man upon earth, who doth good and sinneth not," is made known to us by the most complete evidence possible—the joint dictates of our own consciences and of Divine Revelation; and therefore whosoever is pronounced just by the Judge of all the earth, must be so, only because, though not absolutely blameless, he has performed the conditions of the covenant of grace, which was procured by the death of Christ, and by which he shall be tried at the last day. If this be so, whoever shall
(a) 2 Peter i. 5-11.
end, Mark xi.
to the end, and
be restored to all the privileges which he would have enjoyed in a state of innocence, From Matth. will in the Gospel sense of the word be justified; and this, I believe, is implied where- xx. 10. to the ever the word occurs in the New Testament; though it often signifies much more. 15. to the end Though not guilty, in the proper sense of the word guilt, of the sin of Adam and Eve, Luke xix. 45. all mankind were, in consequence of that sin, subjected to death in the most absolute John xii. 19. to sense, and therefore deprived of the greatest privilege of the state, in which they would the end. have been, had our first parents never fallen; but from death they have all been redeemed by Christ, "who was delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification," and by whom, the apostle assures us, (a) "the free gift came upon all men to justification of life—tic Sinaíwoir (wñs." That this justification means our restoration to the life, with all its privileges, which was forfeited by the fall of our first parents, is, as has been already shewn, rendered incontrovertible by the context; and in other places the same apostle uses the words Sinaíwors and Sixxiwua in the very same sense (b). But whereever they are used in this sense, the justification expressed by them must be the act of God proceeding through Christ from the Divine philanthropy, and performed without any co-operation of ours, either by our faith or by our obedience; for it is expressly said to have come upon all men-believers and unbelievers, righteous and wicked-on whom death came by the sin of Adam. Justification in this sense therefore is wholly of grace, and depends not, in the smallest degree, on the faith, or piety, or virtue of men; so that it is neither by faith nor by works that we are thus justified. But this is by no means the only sense in which the word justification is used in the New Testament.
We have seen that the whole nation of the Israelites, when they were redeemed from Egyptian slavery and idolatry, and all who from the heathen nations around them were incorporated with the commonwealth of Israel, were said to be saved by being admitted into the family or kingdom of God; and we have seen likewise that the same thing was said of all, whether Jews or Gentiles, who, embracing the faith of Christ on the preaching of the apostles, were regularly admitted into the church of Christ, because they were then placed in a state of salvation, made members of that body, of which Christ is the Head, "delivered from the power of darkness, and translated into the kingdom of the Son of God's love (c)." But as no man can be saved without being justified (I say not at present on what conditions), it follows, that whoever is in any sense saved, or in a state of salvation, must in the same sense be justified, or in a state of justification; and therefore all men are, in this sense of the word, justified, when they are regularly admitted by baptism into the church of Christ, or kingdom of heaven. Accordingly St Paul, in an epistle addressed to the whole church of God at Corinth, in which we know that there were many disorderly persons, and at least one notorious sinner, after reprimanding them for going to law before the heathen magistrates, whom he represents as fornicators, idolators, adulterers, and sinners of other denominations, who could not inherit the kingdom of God, adds, (d)" and such were some of you, but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by the Spirit of our God." But there is no reason to suppose that every individual in the church of Corinth was justified in any other sense than as being incorporated into the church of God; and this justification was so far of grace, that it depended on no previous merit of their own. It is, however, admitted, I think by all parties, that no man could be admitted into the church of God, nor, of course, justified in this sense of the word, but on certain conditions; and the question in dispute among divines is, What were those conditions ?
By one party it is said, that they were repentance and faith, and by another that faith was the sole condition. If these polemics would candidly explain each his own
(b) Rom. iv. v. vi. viii. Tit. iii. 7.
(c) Coloss. i. 14.
(a) Rom. v. 18. (d) 1 Cor. vi. 11.
A. M. 4037, meaning, I think they would soon find that there is really no difference of opinion
&c. or 5442. Ana. Dem.
them. among Vulg. Er. 33, in the New Testament to denote repentance, is a change of mind, a change of purpose
The import of the Greek word erdvora, which is generally employed
&c. or 31.
and belief; but it is impossible that any man coming over from the Jews or Gentiles, and applying to be admitted into the Christian church, could sincerely profess to believe the Gospel, or to have faith in Christ, without a total change of sentiment and purpose, with respect to the religion, which he had forsaken or was about to forsake. Such a man could not but know that to believe and obey the Gospel was forever to renounce idolatry with all its impurities, and to rest his hope of salvation upon the interposition of Christ alone, and not on the practice of mere moral virtue; on the ceremonies of the Jewish law; or on his formerly supposed election as a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel. The very profession of faith, therefore, implied, if sincere, all the repentance which appears to have been required of the first converts from Heathenism or Judaism to Christianity. When the Ethiopian eunuch, converted by the preaching of Philip the deacon, who uundobtedly had instructed him in the doctrine of redemption and the other essential articles of the Christian faith" said, (a) See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?" Philip replied, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest." Here no mention is made of repentance as a necessary condition of baptism. The man had probably lived a pious and a virtuous life, and had nothing on his conscience that could excite that part of repentance which is called remorse. He had indeed been in a state of ignorance and error, but that was occasioned by no wilful transgression of his own, with which his conscience could accuse him; and when he professed his faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, he solemnly renounced his former errors, and promised thenceforth to believe and obey the Gospel. In like manner, when Saul of Tarsus was miraculously converted from pharisaical zeal for Judaism, to faith in Christ, (b), no other condition whatever appears to have been required of him by Ananias at his baptism. Saul indeed had been a violent persecutor of the disciples; but he had been so upon honest though mistaken principles. The Mosaic law authorised, under the theocratic government, the punishment of all innovators in religion; Saul believed that law to be still obligatory on the whole nation of the Jews; as a conscientious Jew he was eager to enforce it; and as the preachers of the Gospel were certainly innovators, he supposed it his duty to persecute them ;-" I verily thought with myself, says he (c), that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth." He thought erroneously, but he was not wilfully guilty of sin against his God; and therefore though in modesty he afterwards (d) calls himself the chief of sinners, we nowhere read of his being agonized with that remorse which follows the wilful commission of sin. He now saw the erroneousness of his former principles and renounced them, embracing in sincerity the truth as it is in Jesus; and in this faith was obviously implied all the repentance which, in his case, was requisite to his admission into the church or kingdom of God, or in other words to his justification.
The Jews indeed who were converted (e) by the preaching of St Peter, "were pricked at the heart when convinced that by wicked hands they had crucified and slain a man approved among them by God;" and when they asked Peter and the rest of the apostles what they should do, they were directed to "repent and be baptized every one of them in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins;" but we are to remember that Jesus himself had made no innovation in their worship, and was a most reli
Which is very different from that of xún, which expresses the sorrow or contrition which naturally precedes, in those who have been wilful sinners, the repentance or change of lite expressed by μstavola. It is likewise different from the anxiety and remorse implied in the words μεταμέλομαι and μεταμέλεια, which
incited Judas to hang himself. See Parkhurst and Schleusner on all these words.
(a) Acts viii. 35-38.
(b) Ibid. ix. 1-21. xxii. 4-17.
(c) Ibid. xxvi. 9.
(e) Acts ii. 37, &c.
(4) 1 Tim. i. 15.