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JESUS, then, by his death, is the true propitiation for our sins. God is fully appeased; not merely appeasable, or willing to pardon, if men repent and believe. If he is only appeasable, he is not reconciled; his anger is not turned away; Jesus has done nothing; for God was appeasable when he sent him, and sinners must either atone for their sins or perish. On such a supposition, the cross of Christ affords no encouragement to them to look to God for pardon; contrary to the declaration of the Apostle, "If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is the propitiation for our sins." 1 John ii. 1, 2. "He is a faithful high Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people." Heb. ii. 17. This reconciliation cannot mean the conversion or pardon of sinners; for these are no part of Christ's sacerdotal work, as is the reconciliation here. Every sacerdotal work is performed toward God only; and its primary effect respects him. If our high Priest was faithful, he made reconciliation; if he made reconciliation, God was reconciled, and, according to the gospel, is ready to pardon sinners without any condition whatever on their part. This was strikingly exhibited by the mercy-seat, or covering of the ark, which was an eminent type of Christ, as the propitiatory covering of sinners. The typical propitiatory and the true one are called by the same name, a name intimating their nature and design. Heb. ix. 5.-" The cherubims of glory shadowing the mercy-seat," or propitiatory. As the antitype of this, " God set forth Christ Jesus a propitiation (rather propitiatory) through faith in his blood." Rom. iii. 25. The typical propitiatory covered the law in the ark, interposing between it and Jehovah, who
sat between the cherubims, intimating that there was pardon for the transgressions of that law. The whole right of sacrificing was not completed, at the anniversary atonement, until the blood of the victim was sprinkled before, and on the propitiatory. As the blood was the life, or rather vehicle of the life, of the body, it was, by sprinkling, offered to God, the supreme Lord of life and death, as a substitute for the forfeited life of the sinner: when this was done the atonement was completed, and God appeased. Hence he became accessible to the people, as on a throne of grace. Jesus, as the true propitiatory, covered the law and the sins of his people with his blood or righte ousness; interposed between sinners and the dreadful stroke of divine justice; fully appeased the offended judge; and opened a new and living way to the throne of grace, which God occupies, and from which he freely dispenses all the blessings of salvation. "Let
us therefore draw near with true hearts, in the full assurance of faith.'
7. THE legal and substitutionary nature of Christ's sufferings may be ascertained from the nature of death with respect to us.
SUCH were the frame and constitution of the human nature that it was liable to it, otherwise it could never have died. It was impossible, however, according to the constitution of the first covenant, that it could fall a sacrifice to death without the intervention of sin. Had the condition, on which the promise of life was founded, been fulfilled, it would have infallibly secured human nature from death, in any sense. From the sanction of that covenant, death could take place only as a penal consequence of sin. "In the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die." In
allusion to this sanction, the Apostle asserts that "it is appointed unto men once to die." Heb. ix. 27. Hence, when,sin entered death succeeded. "By one
man sin entered into the world, and death by sin." Rom. v. 12. Death, then, can be viewed in no other light than penal, when considered as the immediate consequence of sin. It is connected with sin by the threatening, and entailed on the sinner in the execution of it. "The wages of sin is death." Rom. vi. 23. Here Paul personifies sin, representing it as a master giving his servant a due reward for his services. The sinner is the servant of sin, and all the reward he receives from it, is death. This, and nothing else, is allotted to him by the divine law. "The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law." 1 Cor. xv. 56. The guilt of sin arms death with all that is terrible. It disunites soul and body; it excludes both from the favour of God, and renders them obnoxious to his wrath; not for a short time only but for ever. That which gives sin this power is the law armed with its curse. The death of a guilty sinner then is a formal and legal execution of the curse upon him, as the punishment of his sin, according to the law; "The soul that sinneth shall die."
SINCE this is the true, the only light in which the death of a sinner can be viewed, it will lead us to an easy discovery of the nature of the death of Christ for us. He did not commit any sin. He could not. "He knew no sin-In him was no sin." 2 Cor. v. 21. 1 John iii. 5. His life, therefore, could not be forfeited. Though he had a natural relation to Adam, according to the flesh, yet, not being a human person, he was not included in his federal representation; consequently, had nothing to do with the entail of original
sin; and so could not die on account of it, as sinners die. But he died: and his death was for the purpose of delivering sinners from it. In order to this, his death must be of the same legal nature with that to which they were obnoxious. Whatever the law determined their death to be, as the punishment of their sin, he must die in the same sense; otherwise they cannot be exempted from it. "For as much, then, as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage." Heb. ii. 14, 15. The commutation of one kind of death or suffering for another is inadmissible. If this were admitted, no good reason could be assigned why Christ should die at all; or why he should, in all things, be made like unto his brethren. The design of his assuming human nature was, that he might die, and the end of his death. was, the delivery of sinners from it. Death and the curse are the same thing; and "Christ redeems from the curse of the law being made a curse for us." Gal. iii. 13.
THOUGH all that was of a penal nature was included in the threatening of death, yet eternal duration did not belong to the nature of it. This, however, would necessarily have followed the execution of the sentence upon the sinner. It was certainly implied in the threatening, as nothing short of that could be adequate to the demerit of sin. Had Adam died under the execution of the sentence, neither reason nor revelation allow us to conclude, that he would not have remained for ever under the same curse. The eternity of it was merely consequential, arising from the inability of the
sinner to bear the deserved punishment in a limited time. This Christ did in a short time, therefore was not eternally punished. The law does not expressly require eternity of punishment, nor that one person should suffer for another; but it demands punishment adequate to the crime, and admits a Surety, as not inconsistent with its demands.
THE death of believers militates nothing against the sameness of Christ's death with that to which sinners were liable; nor does it infer that there is any thing penal in their death. Many of the effects of sin remain with believers; as indwelling sin; bodily afflictions, &c. It is the sovereign will of God that it should be so. There is nothing, however, of a penal nature in them. Every thing penal is inflicted for evil, and to increase the misery of the sinner; whereas all the aflictions of believers work good to them, and death relieves them from all the evils of this present state, and translates their souls to glory. It is on this account that believers can say, either at death or the resurrection, "O death, where is thy sting-Thanks be unto God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
8. THE effects of Christ's sufferings with respect to sin will prove them to be strictly legal and satisfactory. These may be considered as more immediate or more
THE more immediate effect is the abolition of that power which sin has to subject the sinner to condemnation, and exclude him from the divine favour. By the first covenant Adam's title to life was founded on his fulfilment of the law. "The man that doth those things shall live in them," was the tenor of that covenant. This right could never be pled as Adam failed