« PreviousContinue »
So the sacrifices under the law, were all adapted. to express hatred and disapprobation of sin. It
may be asked, whether the atonement consists in Christ's obedience, or sufferings, or both ? Some insist that the whole stress is to be laid on the obedience of Christ. But if the nature and design of the atonement were such as have been mentioned, then it could not consist in obedience merely. Suffering was calculated to express pleasure, and maintain the honor of the law.-It is said that obedience expresses approbation of the whole law. But the Bible lays, as it were, the whole stress on suffering. Christ is said " to have borne our sins in his own body, and to have been wounded for our transgressions :" His people are said to be “ redeemed by his blood.”. In the types and shadows of the Old Testament, the atonement is represented by suffering.
If, by atonement, we understand the whole of that work which is the foundation of justification, then it includes both obedience and suffering. But if we intend merely, satisfaction to the law, as a foundation for exemption from punishment, or pardon, it consists wholly in suffering: This alone was calculated to express displeasure.
II. Our next inquiry is respecting what is intended by remission, or pardon. It is that act of grace, by which a sinner is, in the actings of faith, held in divine embraces, the burthen of guilt removed, and the soul enjoys a divine peace.
It has been made a question, whether we expeperience pardon and justification ?-or whether it is a mere act and establishment of Deity? I al. low, that in pardon, the soul receives an earnest of God's everlasting favor; so that this serves as a pledge and infallible token of the complete deliv. erance of God's people from the bondage of guilt:
Who, though they may feel at times, the weight of guilt, yet are secure of final recovery. .
1. I conceive this distinction between remission, or pardon, and justification. Justification is to be understood in a larger sense ; pardon merely, as an acquitance from the debt.
2. The righteousness and atonement of Christ are the only meritorious ground.
3. It contains in it a final discharge and acquittance, or rather secures it.
4. Yet it is a progressive work. The soul is often by declension, shut away, and God hides his face. God's people often stand in need of renewals.
Indeed, remission, I understand to be, the soul's feeling the removal of guilt, and experiencing a sense of God's favor and reconciliation. III: I am to attend to the grounds of the neces
of an infinite atonement. There are many at the present day, as indeed there always have been, who are stumbled at the doctrine of atonement; because they do not see the evil of sin, and the just demerit of it. On this account, the cross was a stumbling block to the Jews.
then amine, whether the light of nature and the Scripture leads to the conclusion, that there can be no forgiveness, without an atonementa
1. An atonement is the only possible medium, thro' which God can appear propitious. People in a state of ignorance of God and stupidity, as to their sin, may see no need of an atonement : But when the sinner is convinced of the dreadful nature of sin, and pressed with guilt, he can see no relief from the law. The Apostle therefore declares, that by the deeds of the law, no flesh can be justified in God's sight; for by the law is the knowledge of sin. When the sinner attends to the char. acter of God, as held forth in the law, or indeed, as displayed in creation and providence, God apa
pears, in these, clothed in dreadful anger. Indeed, the display of God's pure and holy character is adapted , in its nature, to produce a sense of guilt and fear of wrath. There is no possibility that a sinner should enjoy peace, under a realizing sense of his situation.
2. For God to pardon without atonement, would look as though God was as much pleased with sạn as holiness. Should we see one associate, as in. timately with persons of a vicious character, as with those of a contrary character, and admit them to as great favor, we might naturally suppose that it was, at least, not disagreeable. If God is a holy being, it must appear wholly derogatory to his character, to admit impenitent sinners to his fa.
he very end
3. Therefore God cannot pardon without an atonement, as this would subvert the great end of his works, which are designed to display and il. lustrate God's glory.-Indeed, it would subvert the ends of God, as to the happiness of creatures. The glory of God is often represented, as the great end of his works. By his glory is here meant his declarative glory. This was his end in what he did, with regard to Pharaoh, and in the deliverance of the Israelites. This was of Christ's coming into the world. It is impossi. ble that creatures should enjoy God, except as the glory of his character is displayed.
4. Should God receive the sinner into favor, without an atonement, it would subvert all the ends of his government, which are to discountenance vice, and express the feelings of the great Law-giver towards it. If vice goes unpunished, it takes off restraints. We no longer feel that vice exposes us to evil, or are led to have an idea of its ugly nature. If crimes are punished, it tends to keep alive the idea of their ugly, hateful nature
but if the penalty of the law is dispensed with, and crimes go unpunished, in the same proportion, these restraints will be removed.
5. It would be at the expence of law to pardon and receive the sinners to favor without atonement. The law threatens death to the transgressor. “ The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” To dispense with the penalty, is treating the law as not good. The repentance of the sinner does not help the matter. This, however complete, does nothing to satisfy for what is past, any more than a man's paying future contracts would discharge immense
An objector may perhaps say, that men in authority sometimes dispense with the strict severity of law. In many cases, it is true, they do. But it is a practical acknowledgment, that the law is, in relation to every case, perfectly just. Otherwise, such conduct would be wrong. But the law of God is altogether perfect, and must be respected.
6. For God to be propitious without an atonement, would be inconsistent with his truth; for he has said that “ by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified: He that believeth not shall be damned: Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them."
Improvement. 1. We see then, that there is no possible hope for any creature, but in and through the atonement. The natural state of every creature is a state of wrath, and he inust perish, after all that he may do, only as he gives all up. He is, without Christ, under wrath and condemnation, and an heir of hell.
2. From the view which we have had of the subject, we see that however complete the atone. ment, it does not derogate from free grace in par don. They are perfectly consistent. This is an objection with some against the christian doctrine of atonement.
3. We are furnished with an answer to the question, What must I do to be saved? We must not go about to establish our own righteousness, but embrace the atonement, and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no other name. Salvation is to be found in no other.
4. Let us examine ourselves, whether we have taken refuge in this great ark of safety. Here then let me urge you to come : Here is complete redemption. Christ is a lovely, glorious Saviour : He is able to save to the uttermost: He is a won.' derful Saviour : His salvation is freely offered: He is free and ready to do all ; and without him, we must eternally perish.
1 COR.' XII. 13.
For by one spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we
be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free, and have been all made to drink into one spirit.
IT was the leading design of the Apostle in this epistle, to humble and reprove the pride of the Corinthians, who appeared to be listed up with the gifts of the spirit, and especially, the gift of tongues. He considers that these gifts argued a state of imperfection: That the gift of tongues was one, of the least importance, to the edification