« PoprzedniaDalej »
reasonable doubt respecting the truth, the efficacy, and the magnitude, of the Christian doctrine of atonement.
66 Such an high-priest became us,” says the apostle, “who is holy, barmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens ; who needeth not daily, as those high-priests, to offer up sacrifice first for his own sins, and then for the people's ; for this he did once when he offered up himself: for the law maketh men high-priests which have infirmity ; but the word of the oath which was since the law maketh the Son who is consecrated for evermore :” vii, 26–28. This explicit passage may be considered as a sort of text or thesis to the reasoning which soon afterwards follows, respecting the Jewish ceremonial atonements, and the true atonement by Jesus Christ. “ Now, when these things were thus ordained, the priests went also into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God: but into the second went the high-priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people. The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing : which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience, which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation. But Christ being come, an high-priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hando, that is to say, not of this building ; neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls, and of goats, and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” ix, 6
Having urged this powerful comparison, the apostle proceeds to speak of Jesus Christ as the testator of that New Testament which he confirmed by his death ; and, after showing that it was with blood that Moses ratified the first Testament, and that “almost all things” were “by the law purged with blood," he recurs to his main point as follows: " It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these ; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these ; for Christ is not en
tered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true ; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high-priest entereth into the holy place every year with the blood of others; for then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world ; but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after that the judgment : so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he
appear the second time without sin (that is, without a sinoffering) unto salvation : ver. 23—28 : comp. ii, 17. Again, “Every priest standeth daily ministering, and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins ; but this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins, for ever sat down on the right hand of God; from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. FOR BY ONE OFFERING HE HATH PERFECTED FOR EVER THEM THAT ARE SANCTIFIED :" x, 11-14.
On a fair examination of these luminous passages, it seems impossible not to confess, on the one hand, that the sacrifices of the law were, in their nature, weak and unprofitable ; and, on the other hand, that, in the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ, there was a real efficacy for the blotting out of all iniquity. While, however, we heartily acknowledge this blessed truth, and, under a sense of our own vileness, gratefully avail ourselves of the “ blood of the everlasting covenant, only atonement for our sins, we ought to exercise a holy caution, lest our sentiments on this subject should degenerate into unscriptural and merely' heathenish notions of expiatory sacrifice.
Christians have not unfrequently been accused of assuming, as the foundation of their doctrine of atonement, the natural implacability of God towards man; and of holding the notion, that God was rendered placable by the involuntary sufferings of a harmless, unoffending substitute. That such and similar statements of the opinions of Christians are, for the most part, gross misrepresentations, and that no such views have ever been entertained by any reflecting or consistent theologian, I am fully persuaded. Be that as it may, however, these unquestionably are not the views of the atonement presented to us in the Bible. There we plainly learn that the incarnation, humiliation, sufferings, and propitiatory sacrifice, of Christ, were ordained by the Father himself, as the means through which, in his own infinite knowledge and wisdom, he saw fit
to provide for the satisfaction of his justice, and at the same time for the pardon and restoration of a lost and sinful race of his creatures. And these eternal counsels were so far from being the effect of any essential implacability in the mind of God—that the divine attribute to which they are uniformly ascribed, in Scripture, is the very opposite of such a quality. It is placability ; it is mercy; it is love.
66 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.
66 God is love." “ In this was manifested the love of God towards us, because that God sent his only-begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him :" 1 John iv, 8, 9. Now, the Father and the Son (as we have already found abundant occasion to remark) are indissolubly one in purpose as well as in essence : and, in the gracious designs of the former for the salvation of man, the latter is represented in Scripture as a voluntary cooperator, actuated by the same divine impulse of unmerited love. It was the Son of God who undertook the cause of man: Heb. ii, 16. In his adorable condescension, he “ made HIMSELF of no reputation, took upon him the form of a servant, humbled HIMSELF, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross : Phil. ii, 7, 8. “ He offered AIMSELF without spot to God :" Heb. ix, 14. 6. Christ hath loved us, and hath given HIMSELF for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God :" Eph. v, 2. “ Unto him that LOVED us, and washed us from our sins in his blood
.be glory and dominion for ever and ever, Amen :" Rev. i, 5, 6: comp. Eph. v, 25: John x, 17.
Lastly, let it be observed, that the love of the Father and of the Son, in which originated this scheme of mercy, was absolutely destitute of all partiality. It was directed without exclusion to the whole of mankind. It was the world that the Father so loved as to give his only-begotten Son : John iii, 16. It was the world—the “ lost” world—that the Son came to save: xii, 47. He was the propitiation for the sins 6 of the whole world :" 1 John ii, 2. He gave himself a ransom for all :" 1 Tim. ii, 6. He “ tasted death for every man :" Heb. ii, 9. All men, therefore, whatsoever their circumstances, situation, or disposition, are through his death rendered capable of salvation. Nor can we, in reference to this sublime doctrine, rightly confine our views to those generations of men which have lived subsequently to the death of the Messiah. There is no tense with God. With him a thousand years are as one day, and one day as a thousand years; and as there is but one way into his kingdom, even th. Lamb slain from the
foundation of the world, so, on every principle of evangelical truth, it must surely be admitted, that in all ages, from the fall of our first parents to the present time, this way has been open to every penitent believer in God. 6. There is not,” remarks an eloquent writer, “ one song for the patriarchs, and another for the prophets, and a third for the apostles-one for the saints of the old and another for those of the new dispensation ; for patriarchs, prophets, and apostles, and saints of every dispensation have all been indebted to the same Redeemer. The righteous Abel, the earliest victim of mortality, shall join in the same song with the last of the children of God, that falls asleep in Jesus. All having washed their robes and made them white in the same blood, shall sing together without a feeling or a note of discord-Salvation to our God who sitteth upon
the throne and UNTO THE LAMB. On a review of the whole argument of the present part, the reader will observe,
That the light of reason, and the analogy of that part of God's moral government over men, which is already known to us, conspire to render it in the highest degree probable, that repentance is not, in itself, available to avert the future punishment of sin.
That, in the Holy Scriptures, this position is amply confirmed; for, while the sacred writers often make mention of repentance as acceptable to God, and as an indispensable condition of salvation, they also plainly declare that sinners are saved only through the mediation of Jesus Christ,-only because he offered himself on the cross as a sacrifice for the sins of mankind.
That, as this great atonement was foreordained before the foundation of the world, so, during all ages, from the fall of man to the Gospel dispensation, it was foreshewn by that divinely-appointed rite, the sacrifice of animals-a rite which was practised by Abel, by Noah, by Abraham, by Jacob, by Job, and by others of the Lord's servants, and which appears to have represented at once the death merited by offenders, and the ordained atoning sacrifice of a Redeemer to come.
That the Mosaic institution was distinguished by a variety of sacrificial ordinances; that the burnt-offerings, the peaceofferings, and the sin-offerings, of the law, were all of a eharacter more or less expiatory ; being the appointed means of averting those penal consequences which would otherwise have been inflicted on the Israelities for their ceremonial impurities,
* Wardlaw's Discourses, vii, Sec. 3.
and for their lesser moral offences ; and that, according to the doctrine of the New Testament, these sacrifices were nothing more than “shadows of good things to come,”—that is to say, types of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
That this typical character attaches with peculiar force and precision to the curious and striking ceremonial of the Passover, and of the day of annual atonement.
That the figures of the law were followed up and confirmed by the declarations of prophecy—Isaiah, especially, having left on record a luminous statement respecting the vicarious sufferings and atoning death of the Messiah.
That, in the New Testament, we find the Christian doctrine of atonement, alluded to by John the Baptist, repeatedly mentioned, in decisive language by our Saviour himself, and, under a great variety of expression, largely unfolded, and strongly insisted on, by his apostles.
That the sacrificial terms employed in the enunciation of that doctrine are not to be regarded as merely figurative expressions, borrowed from the Mosaic ritual, but as applicable to their subject in a much larger and more proper sense than any of which they are capable when descriptive only of the sacrifices ordained by the law; for, between those sacrifices and that of our Redeemer, there subsists, at the same time, a close analogy of circumstance and an immeasurable difference of proportion.
Finally, that the humiliation and sacrifice of the Lord Jesus, although required by the divine holiness and justice, is not to be regarded as that which rendered God placable, but as a means for saving mankind, ordained by the Father himself, and voluntarily submitted to by the Son, in consequence of their common attribute of mercy or love—a love embracing the whole human race in all ages of the world.
Now, although a crucified Redeemer is thus clearly revealed to us as the appointed channel of the mercies of God to man, such is the perverseness of our hearts, that we are naturally prone to reject him, and even to account the “ blood of the covenant” an unholy thing." As it was in the days of the apostle Paul, so it is now-Christ crucified offends the pride of the Jew, and mortifies the false wisdom of the Greek : 1 Cor. i, 23. How many persons are there, whose self-righteousness is far too little broken down to admit of their accepting that divine plan of redemption which involves their own total humiliation, inasmuch as it assumes that they are justly liable to the divine displeasure, absolutely devoid of merit, and destitute of all capacity to be saved, except through the righteousness of