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Besides, if they allow the sacrifices under the law to have been proper sacrifices, whilst that of Christ was only figurative: then, since the Apostle has declared the former to have been but types and shadows of the latter, it follows, that the proper and real sacrifices were but types and shadows of the improper and figurative.
On the pretence of figurative allusion, in the sacrificial terms of the New Testament, which has been, already, so much enlarged upon in several parts of this work, Dr. Laurence, ir che discourse which he has lately published on The Metaphorical Character of the Apostolical Style, has thrown out some valuable ideas, which well deserve to be considered.
NO. XLIV.-ON THE NATURE OF THE SACRIFICE
Page 36.().--I have not scrupled to adopt this definition, as it stands in the 2d. vol. of Theol. Rep. Numb. 1: to the judicious author of which paper I am indebted, for some valuable reflexions on this subject. On the true nature of the sacrifice for sin, see also Hallet's Discourses, 2d vol. p. 293. Although both these writers, in adopting the premial scheme of atonement, endeavour to establish a principle entirely different from that contended for in these discourses, yet are the observations of both upon the subject of atonement particularly worthy of attention.
NO. XLV.-ON THE EFFECT OF THE DOCTRINE OF
PRODUCING SENTIMENTS FA
VOURABLE TO VIRTUE AND RELIGION.
Page 39. (*)-Doctor Priestley (Theol. Rep. vol. i. p. 419.) offers upon this head some very extraordinary remarks. He admits, that “ the apprehensions of the divine justice, and of the evil and demerit of sin,” excited by the scheme of redemption here maintained, are “ sentiments of powerful effect in promoting repentance and reformation.” But he adds, “that in proportion as any opinion raises our idea of the justice of God, it must sink our idea of the divine* mercy: and since a sense of the mercy of God, is at least as powerful an inducement to repentance, and as effi
* Bishop Watson, in speaking of that arrogant and dogmatical theology, that deerees the rejection of the doctrine of atonement, as inconsistent with the divine attribute of mercy, uses the following just observations." We know assuredly that God delighteth not in blood ; that he hath no cruelty, no vengeance, no malignity, no infirmity of any pas. sion in his nature; but we do not know, whether the requisition of an atonement for transgression, may not be an emanation of his infinite mercy, rather than a demand of his infinite justice. We do not know, whether it may not be the very best means of preserving the innocence and happi. ness not only of us, but of all other free and intelligent beings. We do not know, whether the suffering of an innocent person, may not be productive of a degree of good, infinitely surpassing the evil of such sufferance; nor whether such a quantum of good could, by any other means, bave been produced.”Two Apologies, &c. pp. 466, 467,
cacious à motive to a holy life, especially with ingenuous minds, as the apprehension of his justice; what the doctrine of atonement gains on the one hand, it loses on the other.
Now does Dr. Priestley seriously think, that the abstract love of excellence, or the hope of distant reward, can produce upon the minds of men, impressions as powerful as the habitual fear of offending? That the desire of happiness acts upon us but through the medium of present inquietude; that we seek after it, only in the degree, in which we feel uneasy from the want of it: and that fear is in itself, however remote its object, an instant and perpetually acting stimulus, Dr. Priestley is too well acquainted with the nature of the human mind not to admit. And, I apprehend, he would consider that civil government but badly secured, which rested upon no other support than that of gratitude and the hope of reward, rejecting altogether the succour of judicial infliction. But besides, in comparing the effects, upon the human mind, of gratitude for the divine mercies, and fear of the divine justice, it is to be remembered, that one great advantage, which we ascribe to the latter, is this; that those humble feelings, which the apprehension of the great demerit of sin and of the punishment due to our offences must naturally excite, dispose us the more readily to place our whole reliance on God, and not presuming on our own exertions, to seek in all cases his sustaining aid. Farther, admitting that the bulk of mankind, (who, after all, and not merely ingenuous , minds, are, as Doctor Priestley confesses,
o the persons to be wrought upon,") were as strongly influenced by love of the goodness of God, as by fear of his justice, it by no means follows, that 6 the doctrine of atonement must lose in one way what it gains in another:" because it is not true, that “ the fear of the divine justice must sink our ideas of the divine mercy.” On the contrary, the greater the misery from which men have been released, the greater must be their gratitude to their deliverer. And thus, whilst the divine rectitude rendered it unavoidable, that the offender should be treated in a different manner from the obedient; the mercy which devised a method, whereby that rectitude should remain uninfringed and yet the offender forgiven, cannot but awaken the strongest feelings of gratitude and love.
Dr. Priestley however contends, that even the advantage ascribed to the doctrine of atonement, namely, that of exciting apprehensions of the divine justice and of the evil and demerit of sin, does not strictly belong to it; “ for, that severity should work upon men, the offenders themselves should * feel it.” Now, this I cannot understand. It seems much the same as to say, that in order to feel the horror of falling down a precipice, on
* The ne non timere quidem sine aliquo timore possi. mus” of Tully, seems an idea quite inconceivable to Dr.
the edge of which he hangs, a man must be actually dashed down the steep. Will not the danger produce sensations of terror? And will not the person who snatches me from that danger, be viewed with gratitude as having rescued me from destruction? Or is it necessary, that I should not be saved, in order to know from what I have been saved? Can any thing impress us with a stronger sense of God's hatred to sin, of the severe punishment due to it, and of the danger to which we are consequently exposed if we comply not with his terms of forgiveness, than his appointing the sacrifice of his only begotten son, as the condition, on which alone he has thought it right to grant us forgiveness? Do we not in this see every thing to excite our fear? do we not see every thing to awaken our gratitude:
Priestley.-On this subject I beg to direct the reader's attention to the words of the late Bishop Porteus, and par. ticularly to the striking and beautiful expression in the con. cluding clause, taken from Scott's Christian Life." By accepting the death of Christ instead of ours, by laying on him the iniquity of us all, God certainly gave us the most ase tonishing proof of his mercy: and yet, by 'accepting no less a sacrifice than that of his own son, he has, by this most expressive and tremendous act, signified to the whole world such extreme indignation at sin, as may well alarm, even while he saves us, and make us tremble at his severity, even while we are within the arms of his mercy.” Porteus's Sere mons, ii, p. 56.
END OF THE FIRST VOLUME.
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