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be full.” John xvi. 23, 24. “At that day ye shall ask in my name.” ver. 26. Through Jesus Christ we have access by one Spirit unto the Father:* and it is as plain as words can make it, that it is our duty to pray to God in the name of Christ. Now, what is meant by praying in the name of Christ? Certainly, not barely mentioning his name in prayer. We are not to expect that his name will operate as a charm ; and that God will hear us merely because we repeat the name of Christ. It prescribes a duty, the performance of which requires intelligence and faith. To pray in Christ's name is, to acknowledge that we derive the privilege of approaching the throne of grace, through his mediation; it is to render affectionate thanksgiving to God, for the work which he undertook and accomplished; it is to rely upon his atonement and righteousness, for the acceptance of our person and services; it is to look for every blessing, as coming through him the appointed channel of saving mercy to sinful men; it is, in short, to regard him as our great High Priest; by the blood of whose sacrifice we have boldness to enter into the holiest, to the very mercy-seat of God, and by the fragrance of whose all-prevailing intercession, our polluted services of prayer and praise, may ascend as a sweet smelling savour to Jehovah. Heb. x. 19–22. In the second BRANch of the Query, the author assumes different ground. He has respect to the conduct of God in dispensing pardon. His question is founded on the supposition, that the acceptance of the payment of the penalty, by Christ, is inconsistent with the notion of a free forgiveness of sin. “If I forgive a man,” he observes, “who owes me a debt, I do it without having received an equivalent from another; otherwise I attach a wrong idea to the term forgive : and if the word as, in the text, means in like manner, does it not teach, that the pardon is granted to the sinner freely, by our Father in heaven?”. By the term freely is manifestly conveyed the idea, that God, in granting pardon, has no respect to the satisfaction of Christ; and that if he had respect to it, the favour granted would not be properly a forgiveness of sin. In the reply to the first branch of this query, it has been shown, that remission of sin was procured by the blood of Christ; that God certainly has respect to this precious blood when he bestows the favour; and that still it is styled forgiveness. John in his first epistle, (chap. i. 7.) expressly asserts, that “the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin;” and yet in the 9th verse he says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all
* Ephes. ii. 18. Vol. II.-Presb. Mag. Q
unrighteousness:” and in the 2d chap. ver, 1,2, he encourages us under a sense of guilt, and inspires us with the hope of obtaining the forgiveness of sin, in answer to prayer, by reminding us of the intercession and atonement of Christ: “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is the propitiation for our sins.” In the apprehension of the sacred writers, this mode of granting pardon and salvation to sinners, so far from derogating from the mercy of God, or lessening the obligations of those who receive the blessings, greatly increases the one, and unutterably magnifies the other. “In this,” says John, “was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John iv. 9, 10. In the same strain, Paul celebrates divine love to sinners, which he considers as surpassing every other exhibition of love: “But God commendeth his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, CHRIST DIED for us.” Rom. v. 8. In these encomiums on the love of God, the apostles only copied after the example of Christ, who had before said in his conversation with Nicodemus, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John iii. 16. Now, as the sacred writers teach the doctrine of the forgivemess of sins, and inform us that the blessing is granted in consideration of the satisfaction of Christ; and as they represent the love of God, in bestowing this and other benefits of salvation, as surpassing every other exhibition of love and mercy, and transcending all praise; if we only allow them, while writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to have understood the language they used, we must indubitably conclude, that the forgiveness of sin, through the medium appointed by infinite wisdom, is perfectly FREE and gratuitous. The sinner has done nothing to merit it; he has forfeited every claim to mercy; he deserves everlasting punishment. It was not his wisdom that found out the plan of redemption; he did not provide a Saviour; nor did he even sue for mercy. Christ died for him, while an obstinate rebel. The infinite wisdom of Jehovah devised the amazing scheme of salvation. God himself provided the Mediator between Heaven and earth; and appointed his own Son to that painful office. From his own Son he exacted the penalty of the law; and when all the demands of justice were thus answered, he, in mercy, offered forgiveness to sinners. . But who accept the all-gracious offer: Not one of our rebel-race, till God subdues his rebellious heart by his grace, and makes him willing to take what, till that moment, he had refused. Is there not grace, infinite grace in all this? Is not forgiveness, thus granted, perfectly free and gratuitous 2 But the Querist asks, “If I forgive a man who owes me a debt, I do it without having received an equivalent from another; otherwise I attach a wrong idea to the term forgive.” Certainly, in pecuniary transactions, the acceptance of an equivalent, and the forgiveness of a debt, are utterly inconsistent; and equally certain would it be, if, in the petition referred to, the term “as” meant “ in like manner,” without an equivalent, that “pardon is granted to the sinner freely,” that is, without an equivalent, “ by our Father in heaven; forgiveness for the sake of Christ's satisfaction would not, in this sense, be free. But we have seen this cannot be the meaning; because it would militate against the plainest instructions of scripture in relation to the mode in which Jehovah actually does bestow remission of sin. It simply means that we cannot expect forgiveness from God, unless we grant forgiveness to our fellow creatures. The import of the petition in the mouth of one who uses it acceptably, is, we conceive, this: “Father I forgive my debtors; therefore, be thou pleased in mercy to forgive my debts.” Between a pecuniary debt and a debt contracted by sin, there is a resemblance in this particular, that both impose an obligation of payment. The man who owes money is bound to satisfy the demand of his creditor; and so the sinner is bound to satisfy the demands of divine justice. But, in other respects, there is a great difference. The parties, in the two cases, are widely different. In the one they are two private individuals; in the other, a creature and his Creator: and consequently the relations are immensely different; in the one, the relation of two private persons; in the other, the relation subsisting between offending man and the Sovereign Lawgiver and Supreme Judge of the universe. A creditor is obliged by the laws of his country to receive payment, unless he intends to remit his claim, whether it be tendered by the debtor, or by his friend; and the law of God binds him, in certain circumstances, by that love which it requires us to entertain for our neighbour, to forgive the debt, when the debtor is unable to pay it. But Jehovah is bound by no law to accept of the payment of the penalty of sin, by any except the offender himself; and were it possible for a sinner to point out one who was able and willing to become his substitute, and make full satisfaction for his guilt, his Sovereign might refuse to accept of the substitute, and insist on payment from the transgressor himself. The payment of a pecuniary debt, whether made by the debtor, or by another for him, is followed by an immediate release from all the claims of his creditor: but the effects of the payment of a penal debt, by a surety, can be controlled by the pleasure of our great Sovereign, who has a right, on accepting of a surety, to prescribe what conditions in relation to the application of his vicarious work, as to the number to be redeemed, and the time and circumstances of their becoming participants in its benefits, he may deem most conducive to the glorious purposes of his moral government over the universe. From these remarks, it will be seen, that, if it had been possible for our fallen race to have devised a plan for their redemption, and to have found a surety, who was competent to effect their salvation, it would have been an act of signal grace in our offended Sovereign to have accepted of his mediation. But when we consider that this was utterly beyond their power, and that the whole contrivance originated in the unsearchable wisdom of God; that HE discovered one able and mighty to help a ruined world; and that the person, from whom he exacted the vast debt of justice, was none other than his own co-equal Son; how immensely great appears his grace, and from what a boundless ocean of love must it have flowed! In respect to the sinner, forgiveness is perfectly free; for, so far from offering an equivalent for his debt of 10,000 talents, he offers nothing. The analogies between human and divine transactions are always faint and defective. But let us suppose a number of subjects in a kingdom, where the monarch has full control over its treasury, to be indebted to the public, and after prosecution by law to be thrown into prison. The king hears of their situation; he pities their distress; he determines to release them. But he is unwilling the public interest should suffer by the exercise of his compassion; he therefore directs his son to take out of his private purse what may be necessary to extinguish their debts, and to pay it into the public treasury; and then to release those unfortunate men. We ask, is there not as much, and more favour shown to these subjects, by their monarch, in this exercise of generosity, than there would have been, if he had at once discharged them, at the expense of the public? The king of the Locrians enacted a law, that the adulterer should lose both his eyes. His own son was the first offender convicted of this abominable crime. What a struggle now ensued between the integrity of the magistrate and the feelings of the father! He wished to save his son from the dreadful punishment of blindness; but justice forbade him to spare the culprit without satisfying the demands of the law. In these painful circumstances, he adopted the resolution of maintaining the integrity of the judge, and yet of gratifying the heart of the parent. He directed one of the eyes of his son to be taken out, and then gave up one of his own. In this way the honour of his law was upheld, and the certainty of the execution of its penalty upon all transgressors established. Who is not convinced, that, in this transaction, there was a more illustrious display of parental love, than there would have been, if yielding to the weakness of a father, he had forgiven his son, at the expense of the just claims of his law Had it been consistent with the glory of Jehovah's moral government over the universe, to remit sin without a satisfaction to the demands of his law, and justice, there would have been grace in every bestowment of this blessing. But, as such a mode of forgiveness was inadmissible, and the whole race of man would have perished forever, unless the Monarch of creation had been willing to part with the Son of his bosom, and subject him to the deepest humiliation and the most dreadful sufferings for sinners, in order to open the way for an honourable exercise of mercy to them; can it be doubted for a moment that the bestowment of forgiveness to rebels, who have done nothing to merit this, or any other favour, is the highest demonstration of the love of God to his creatures, and the richest display of pardoning grace, that it is possible for created intelligence to conceive? The apostle, who gloried in nothing but the cross of Christ, always dwelt with rapture on this subject. “But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Tit. iii. 4–7. This will eternally be the theme of the redeemed, who will for ever sing: “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father: to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” Rev. #. 5, 6. J. J. J.
(To be continued.)
Affectation may be defined, an attempt to appear in a character, which we have no title to assume. It is nearly allied to vanity; and springs, generally, from a defective or bad education.
This weakness, it may be observed, very often appears in the conduct of those, whose mental improvement has not kept pace with the increase of their wealth. Such characters often become dogmatical in their opinions—and overbearing in their manners