Page images

tend to ensorce the belief of the purity of his nature.

3. To suppose that God should pardon without atonement, would bring his government into disrespect. So to manage affairs, is making no distinction between the holy and unholy. Whatever laws are made, or penalties annexed, yet if the executive part is neglected, such government does not tend to hold up terror to evil-doers ; but will occasion disrespect.--If a parent is often giving out commands and threatnings, but does not execute them, his children will disregard and soon despise his threats. It is so in the government of communities : If the executive part of

govern ment is not enforced, the government will sink into contempt.

4. To pardon without atonement, is to give up law, and consequently the divine character, as law is a transcript of it. The law, in its threatenings, expresses infinite disrespect and aversion. The law is not maintained, but as this aversion is expressed in sensible fruits ;, nor the character of the Deity, as expressed in the law. The law would be made void, if the atonement did not ex. hibit some sensible fruits of displeasure. The A. postle could not, otherwise, consistently say, we establish the law, through the doctrines of pardon and faith. The promises of God would be against the law, and what Christ did, instead of magnifying the law, would bring reproach upon it. Thus, from a variety of considerations, it appears, that an atonement was of absolute importance. And it

may be observed, that nothing would avail to this purpose, but one that should afford as strong sensible fruits of infinite aversion and hatred of sin, as the execution of the threatening of eternal vengeance : In other words, an infinite atone. ment was absolutely requisite. Should any thing of a finite nature have been proposed, had angelic nature, or indeed, the universe of created beings suffered, all this would have come infinitely short of expressing the divine hatred of sin. On the principle, that the threatening was everlasting punishment, and sin of infinite demerit, satisfactory atonement could be made only by Christ. I am sensible that it is objected by some, if the atonement was made by submitting to the penal as well as preceptive part of the law, then what is saved ? I answer, that the suffering as it respects the elect, bears no proportion. But the dignity of the person rendered infinite suffering unnecessary, to give even stronger expressions of displeasure. But, perhaps, it will be said, that if the expense was not in suffering, yet it was in dignity : If Christ was by his sufferings, divested, eventually, of any of his dignity. But the Bible leads us to a very different view of the matter. The glory and dignity of Christ were far from being, in any degree, exhausted or diminished.

I now pass,

II. To the immediate end of the atonement. This is a point of great importance, ia which many differ.

Some suppose that Christ died to make God abate something of the requirements of the law. Others suppose, that Christ came to illustrate this point, that the law is practicable and suited to our gature and circumstances. But Christ, as God, would not be a proper person in this view. Doubtless, the design of the atonement was, to illustrate the same thing that the punishment threatened to the sinner, would have done ; otherwise, he would not have magnified it; as what he should do would not have respect to that, in which the law required satisfaction. But the design of the atonement was, to express the divine feelings and aversion to

sin, and is itself a declaration of God's righteous. ness, more especially in the penal part of

the law. Of this nature the Apostle considers the matter in the epistle to the Romans." Tu declare at this time, I say, his righteousness.” This will appear, when we consider, that the reason why an atonement was necessary, was not because God delighted in the misery of his enemies.

God had goodness enough in his heart, to have dispensed with punishment, if he could in this way, have been just to his character. It was necessary that God should be made to appear perfectly righteous.All the shadows of the atonement were adapted to express the divine feelings and righteousness; as when God turned Adam out of Paradise, and clothed him with the skins of beasts ; his treatment of the Israelites at Sinai; Phineas' making atonement; and the institutions of the tabernacle and temple-worship. But all these were but shadows of the great atonement.

As the shadows were adapted to express God's displeasure against sin, so was the substance, viz. Christ's whole life and death. So that the Apostle might well say, that Christ was set forth to be a propitiation. This being the nature of the atonement, the very offer of mercy on the footing of such a declaration, tends to sink the character of the sinner, and exhibits strong expressions of the divine aversion. What was necessary to complete the atonement was, that God should, by it, as fully express his hatred of sin, as if the punishment had been endured by the sinner.

It is objected by some, that to suppose Christ submitted, in any sense to the penalty, and made full and complete satisfaction and atonement, destroys all the grace. But in my view, satisfaction or redemption, by which I mean the same, is so far from being inconsistent with grace, that it is

essential to it, in the pardon of the sinner. Din vine mercy is by no means opposed to righteousness, and without this, it cannot, as we have seen, be vindicated. It would, in this respect, be derogatory to the Divine character, for the Deity to make no distinction in the executive part of his government, between the clean and the unclean, the holy and the profane. It would be viewed no mercy in a state, for the executive part of government to pay no attention to the law and penalties.

If complete satisfaction and redemption destroys free grace, it will follow, that if there was any satisfaction made, grace would be lessened in the same proportion.

When we consider the atonement as meant only to illustrate God's righteousness by an expression of his feelings, all that Christ did was of the nature of a declaration. If the atonemo. Christ illustrated the evil and demerit of sin, satisfaction of this nature is in no measure, of the nature of the payment of a debt. But the more full, the more free does grace appear. More especially, there does not appear any inconsistency in the doctrine of full satisfaction with free pardon, when we cono, sider, that Christ's atonement and righteousness are not, in a personal sense, made over to the creature.

I pass to the

III. Head, which was, to consider what there was in the life and sufferings of Christ that had a special, immediate respect to the work of atonement. It seems to be a sentiment entertained of late, that the obedience of Christ, illustrated in suf, ferings, was all that was requisite. But it may be observed from the following considerations, that sufferings, as expessions of the divine feelings, were what had a special reference to the work of atonement. I do not mean but that it was neces.


sary that Christ's offering of his blood, or life, should be accompanied with perfect purity. Thus Christ is represented as holy, harmless, and undefiled.” And not only so, but the perfect obedience of Christ was requisite to the justification of the sinner. Two things were requisite to the sinner's justification. First, that there should be atonement for sin, or the threatened displeasure expressed in sensible fruit, and then, a perfect righteousness. Mere freedom from guist does not entitle to the reward of life.--I am clear in the opinion, that when we attend to the Bible, we shall find that the atonement, in a special manner, respected sufferings.

This was what the law required, or rather, threatened in case of disobedience.

An atonea ment would not be calculated to answer the ends of the law and to magnify it, if it had no respect to the threatening, and did not illustrate those ideas that would have been illustrated in the exe. cution of the threatening on the sinner.

It is inconsistent to suppose, that obedience was the only thing, or even principal thing; for there would be no direct tendency in Christ's submitting to the requisitions and precepts of the law, to honor the penalty, or illustrate the strength of displeasure. If it was necessary that there should be a penalty annexed to law, it is certain, in case of disobedience, that it should be honored in sensible fruits ; otherwise it would be of no use. If, as some suppose, the whole of law, or the deas asserted in it, were vindicated in Christ's obedi. ence, then what need was there of any thing more? Why any threatening ? But to suppose this to be given up, or the principle that it might, is subversive of the necessity of atonement. If the penal part could be dispensed with, which was certainly the grand thing in the way of divino favor to our

« PreviousContinue »