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BY STEPHEN WEST, D. D.
Ought not CHRIST to have suffered these things?
Without shedding of blood is no remission.
HEB. IX. 22.
child July 17,191
AMONG the several doctrines of divine revelation, that of the Atonement holds a place of principal importance; and, has so evident a connection with the distinguishing doctrines of Christianity, that they will be found, on careful inquiry, to stand or fall with it. This lies at the bottom of that system of sentiments which principally distinguishes Christianity from mere natural religion. With
this are connected the doctrines of the Divinity of Christ, justification by an imputed righteousness and the perpetuity of punishment in the future world. For, if the doctrine of Atonement be given up; that of the Divinity of Christ will no longer be maintained: As we can hardly believe that a God ever came into the world to perform a work which did not require the perfection and power of a God; or, that he came to reveal in words, and enforce by example, a system of doctrines, which might have been as perfectly revealed, and as completely exemplified, by a mere creature. If there be no atonement for sin, the repentance of sinners must be the sole
ground on which they are pardoned and saved: And, consequently, no other righteousness than their own is, in any sense, the ground of acceptance in the sight of God. If, moreover, the moral law, that perfect rule of divine government, will admit penitents to favour, without any atonement; it will hardly be believed that the disposition, in the governor of the world, which such a law, so constructed, and so understood, will naturally exhibit; can ever admit of his inflicting eternal torments on any of his creatures. For, if the offence of the sinner be no greater, in the view of God, than may be overlooked merely upon the consideration of his repentance, and, not only wholly overlooked, but the transgressor be treated with every mark of friendship and favor: Who will believe that there is displeasure enough existing in the divine mind, ever to inflict eternal torments? For God to make such a distinction between one who confessedly spends this short life chiefly in sin, and one who spends it wholly sa; and that, too, when the crimes of the former, as the case may be, and many times in fact is, greatly exceed those of the latter; naturally surpasseth all belief.
Therefore, he that renounceth the doctrine of Atonement, to be consistent with himself, must, also, renounce those of the Divinity of Christ, and the eternity of punishment. And, when these three grand points are given up, there is nothing left, in the system of revealed truth, materially to distin