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ted. It is satisfaction, because it is what the law demands. "Christ," therefore," gave himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God, for a sweet-smelling savour." Eph. v. 2. Sinners are in the hand of God as a judge, detained in captivity, and in prison, for the punishment of their crimes; sin, the curse of the law, and a vain conversation, are the chains by which they are bound; while Satan only acts the part of jailor and executioner under God. To be under the power of guilt, of the curse, and of Satan, is expressive of the legal condition of sinners, in the hand of God as a judge. Christ placed himself in the same condition, was made sin, endured the curse, and was tempted by Satan; that he might redeem them from that condition. "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of law, being made a curse for us." Gal. iii. 13. The redemption of sinners, then, is from the hand of God as a judge, who has the right and power of punishing them, that they may escape that punishment. Nor is this inconsistent with their being "redeemed to God." Rev. v. 9. In their guilty state they are excluded from his favour, unfit for his service, and cannot enjoy him. Their redemption restores them to his favour, as his obedient subjects, and beloved friends.
FROM what has been said, it is evident, that the death of Christ was a proper price of redemption, and not a • mere antecedent condition intervening, as Socinians assert. In that point of view, redemption should be ascribed to his incarnation, life, do&rine, miracles, resurrection, and ascension; as these are as much antecedent conditions as his death; but the Scriptures always ascribe it to his death, never to any of these; which shows that there is a material difference between them. Of it only can it be said, "We have redemption through his blood, * L
the forgiveness of sins." Eph. i. 7. If Christ's death is no more than an antecedent condition of our spiritual redemption from sin, the same thing will hold as to the preaching of the gospel, faith, repentance, &c. but these are never said to be the price of our redemption. Whatever then was in the death of Christ, it could not be redemption, if our liberation did not flow from it, as a moral effect from its cause. In this proper view of his death, as the price of redemption, a most glorious display of divine love is given, which is entirely lost otherwise. "God commendeth his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
6. THE legal and expiatory nature of Christ's sufferings may be farther established from their primary and immediate effect. This immediately respects God as a Judge, and is expressed in Scripture, by the words reconcile, propitiation, atonement, making peace. The import of all these expressions is included in the word satisfaction.
THE first view we take of God, in his procedure toward us, as moral creatures, is that of Law-giver. Next we must consider him as supreme judge, to whom alone the power of life and death belongs. When the law is violated, the Law-giver is disobeyed, dishonoured, and offended; and his displeasure incurred by the transgressor. He now assumes the character of Judge, and, as such, manifests his displeasure; supports his authority, and vindicates his honour, in the punishment of the sinner. This punishment is that which gives satisfaction: but if it be inflicted on the sinner he never can obtain pardon. God, in his gracious character, has provided a Surety, to bear the punishment, and secure pardon. In the punishment of the Surety, the holiness and justice of God are so displayed in opposition to sin; the
authority of the Law-giver, and honour of the law, are so fully vindicated; that God highly approves of it, his displeasure against the sinner is turned away, and he restores him to his favour. This is what we are to understand by God's being reconciled, satisfied, appeased, &c.
In the instructions given about the offering of the legal sacrifices, we often find this assertion, "The priest shall make an atonement for him, or for them." The word rendered atone radically signifies to cover or smear over with pitch, paint, &c. Thus Noah was commanded to pitch the ark. It expresses God's pardoning act. "But he being full of compassion forgave their iniquity." Psalm lxxviii. 38. He covered them with the blood of Christ. When the object of this act is man, it signifies to pardon; and when the object is God, it signifies to atone; and is always followed by the word FOR, referring to the person for whom atonement is made. The victim offered was a covering for the sinner, to screen him from punishment, by appeasing the displeasure of God.
When Jacob sent the present to his brother Esau, of whom he was afraid, he said, using this word, "I will appease him with the present;" literally, "I will cover his face with the present." When Christ offered himself a sacrifice to God, he interposed as a covering to sinners, to prevent divine wrath from falling upon them. But this could be a covering only in a moral sense; God viewing it so valuable as to repair his honour, satisfy his justice and reconcile him to sinners. The word is applied to Christ in this sense, Dan, ix. 24. "To make reconciliation for iniquity."
THOUGH reconciliation is more frequently applied to sinners, they being the offending party, than to God; yet unless God is first reconciled to them, their reconciliation to him is impossible; because it is a fruit of the
other. "I will heal their backslidings, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him." Hos. xiv. 4. The variance between God and sinners is mutual; he is an enemy to them, and they are enemies to him; the reconciliation, therefore, must be mutual. God is the offended party; and sin has procured his displeasure, as is evident from his threatenings. If, on account of sin, God denies sinners his favour, and punishes them, it shows that he is displeased with them. "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men." Rom. i. "They are by nature children of wrath." Eph.
ii. 3. These words assure us that God has indignation and wrath against sinners. To reconcile him is to appease, and turn away his wrath; that he shall not impute sin to them nor punish them. When we are told "That God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself; that when we were enemies we were reconciled by the death of his Son; and that Jesus is the propitiation for our sins;" these expressions do not relate to the actual reconciliation of sinners to God; but of his reconciliation to them, by the satisfaction of Christ; because it is a thing already past and complete. This reconciliation on the part of God, as prior to that of the sinner, is asserted by himself. "I am pacified towards thee for all that thou hast done." Ezek. xvi. 63. The same word, often rendered atone, and in Dan. ix. 24. reconcile, is here used.
THIS reconciliation of God to sinners is perfectly consistent with his love to them. His eternal love is his gracious design to save them from their sins, in such a way, and by such means, as are consistent with his honour and glory. He could not love their persons as sinful, by delighting in them, and manefest
ing his favour to them; but he designed in mercy to destroy their sins, and save their persons from the curse, that they might enjoy him. His anger or wrath is not a furious blind passion, as in men: it is the holy opposition of his nature to sin, with a will to punish it; because of the dishonour he has received by it. That which satisfies him, in the punishment of sin, is a glorious display of the infinite opposition of his holiness and justice to sin; because this repairs his lost honour. Surely it can never be inconsistent in God to glorify himself and save the sinner. In his gracious character, he designs the salvation of sinners; and as the righteous judge of his own law he receives satisfaction, and displays his glory.
IT has been considered as inconsistent that Christ should make satisfaction, while the truth of his supreme Deity is maintained; because he must give satisfaction to himself. He is, indeed, God; the law which was violated was his; and he was as much dishonoured as the Father, and so, had the same, claim to satisfaction. This, as was just now said, lies in a glorious display of divine holiness, and righteousness, in punishing sin: and these being the common perfections of the three-one God, these persons are equally glorified and satisfied. But, according to the economy, Christ does not satisfy himself. The Father sustains the character and rights of Deity; and by him these perfections are displayed, in the punishment of sin, in the person of Christ, who acts as Mediator, and gives satisfaction. He is well pleased with what is done, and honoured by it, though he does not give satisfaction formally to himself. He can no more be said to satisfy himself, formally and personally, than to send, or punish, or justify himself,