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whole moral government of God is involved in this transaction. There are but three grounds upon which pardon can be extended to the guilty: first, by some provision in the law itself; or, second, by the mere prerogative of the Lawgiver; or, third, by atonement or satisfaction.
1. Does the law itself contain any such provision? If so, what would be the effect of a law containing such a provision? It would be the same as a law containing no penalty whatever, and might be violated with impunity, "since in such case no penalty would take effect." Paul, in Galations 3:21, 22, settles this question. "If there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe." Upon this text Dr. Clarke remarks that, "if any law or rule of life could have been found out that would have given life, saved sinners from death and made them truly happy, then righteousness, justification, should have been by the law."
2. Could pardon be extended to the guilty by the mere prerogative of the Lawgiver? Would this be in harmony with the divine perfections? Could the law itself be honored by any such procedure? Justice is one of God's perfections he is eternally just. The law demands the death of the sinner; how, then, can he be just and pardon the guilty by mere prerogative? If he were just in sanctioning the law with the penalty of death, how could he be just in setting it aside by extending pardon by mere prerogative? God is not only just, but immutable; and to pardon by mere prerogative implies mutability. It makes him say in effect, "The soul that sinneth shall and shall not die." God made death the penalty of the law; to pardon by mere prerogative is to make him act differently at different times. "To pardon merely by prerogative," says an able theologian, "not only implies his mutability, but also involves the divine administration in principles which contradict and oppose each other."
There remains but one ground for the pardon of the sinner, and that is atonement, or satisfaction. Do the Scriptures warrant us in the belief that an atonement was made which rendered satisfaction to the law? In Romans 3:25, 26, Paul says, "Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus." Here is a wonderful display of justice and mercy-a display of his justice in requiring satisfaction, and of his mercy in providing a sacrifice such as his justice required. "This," says Dr. Clarke, "is the full discovery of God's righteousness, of his wonderful method of magnifying his law and making it honorable, of showing the infinite. purity of his justice, and of saving a lost world."
Atonement, vicarious. This is the doctrine set forth in this article. Jesus Christ died for (instead of) us. In II. Corinthians 5:21 Paul says, "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." In I. Peter 3:18 we read, "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust." He voluntarily took the place of the unjust, and in their stead met and satisfied the claims of the law. He was made "sin for us"; that is, a sin offering. He "suffered for sins," not for his own sins, but for our sins, for he "knew no sin." The obvious meaning of these and many similar passages of Scripture is, that the atonement made by Jesus Christ is vicarious.
The Scriptures teach that the sufferings and death of Jesus Christ were not only vicarious, but of universal efficacy; that is, he made an atonement for all. He tasted death for every man (Hebrews 2:9). "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly" (Romans 5:6). "Who gave himself a ransom for all" (I. Timothy, 2:6). In Isaiah 53:5-11 we read: "He was wounded for our transgressions"; "bruised for our iniquities"; "with his stripes we are healed"; "the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us
all"; "thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin"; "he shall bear their iniquities." In I. Peter 2:24 the apostle refers to this passage in Isaiah when he says, "Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree"; "by whose stripes ye were healed." In Romans 4:25, Paul says that Christ was "delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification." I. John 2:2: "He is the propitiation for our sins: and for the sins of the whole world." We can draw but one conclusion from these plain declarations in the Holy Scriptures, which is, that the atonement made by Christ is vicarious, expiatory, and universal, so that whosoever will, may be saved.
Atonement and redemption are not to be confounded, as if they meant the same thing. They differ in object, design, and nature. Atonement is rendered to God, while redemption is procured for man. They sustain to each other the relation of cause and effect. The end of atonement was that God "might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus." "Redemption is not expiation for sin, but the deliverance of men from sin by means of such expiation." The design of atonement is to render satisfaction to the law, while that of redemption is to make man happy and holy forever. "Atonement takes effect by changing the relations of God toward the guilty (Romans 3:21). Redemption takes effect by changing the relations of the guilty toward God (Revelation 14:4)." Who can comprehend the height, and depth, and length, and breadth of such an expiation? -justice satisfied, man redeemed, and God glorified. "Here is a solid foundation on which the greatest of sinners may hope for acceptance with God."
The suffering and death of Jesus Christ rendered satisfaction to the divine law. For God to have pardoned the guilty without such satisfaction, would have been an infringement upon the divine government. Jesus Christ was the only being in the universe that could render this satisfaction. He was a perfect man, and in this perfect man "dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." The divine nature that dwelt in him did not suffer, but the
human nature, sanctified by the divine, was the sacrifice. This sacrifice, Paul in Hebrews 9: 14 says, was offered "through the eternal Spirit." Thus the whole Trinity was immediately connected with the sacrificial offering of Jesus Christ. Every step we take in the investigation of this great subject increases our wonder and admiration. Who can set limits to the value of such an expiation? It means hope for the lost, pardon for the guilty, and life for the dead. The doctrine of atonement is, and must continue to be, the fundamental doctrine "in every religion adapted to sinful creatures."
THE RESURRECTION AND ASCENSION OF CHRIST.
This proposition will be more fully considered under Article XIII. "Jesus suffered and died on the cross for us, was buried, rose again on the third day, ascended into heaven." Paul, in I. Corinthians 15: 5-9, gives a summary of the witnesses who saw the Lord after his resurrection. These witnesses did not merely suppose that Christ arose, nor were they satisfied wth rumor, they saw him; some of them saw him a number of times, and eleven of them saw him when he ascended into heaven. It was of too much importance to them to be treated lightly. Everything depended upon it. That he died and was buried none seemed to question. But did he rise from the dead? More than five hundred witnesses affirm that they saw him after he was dead and buried — saw him alive.
The resurrection of Christ "is the grand hinge on which Christianity turns," and it is well for us at this day that the fact is so well attested. No creed would be even approximately perfect if it failed to declare this great truth. Paul, in I. Corinthians 14, makes it the foundation of hope. "If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain." Take this away, and all is lost. Even those "which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished." "But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept." In the resurrection of Christ, "we see evidences of divine power; prophecy accomplished; the character of
Jesus established; his work finished, and a future state proved. It is the ground of faith, a basis of hope, a source of consolation, and a stimulus to obedience." As compared with the cold and cheerless theory of the skeptic, it is as midday set over against midnight. Death is the common foe of the whole race. Jesus met him in his own dominion, and triumphed over him, and thus "brought life and immortality to light." By the resurrection and ascension of Christ the resurrection of the dead is established and the final incorruptibility of the human body settled. "We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is."
CHRIST OUR MEDIATOR.
Of the sacred doctrines set forth in the Holy Scriptures none is more precious than the mediation of Christ, A mediator is a person who intervenes between two parties at variance, in order to effect a reconciliation. Mediator and intercessor mean the same thing. Both are applied to Christ in the New Testament. "There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (I. Timothy 2:5). "Who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us (Romans 8:34). "He ever liveth to make intercession for them" (Hebrews 7:25). God created men holy in his own image. Man in this state of holiness was in friendship with God, but when he sinned he was separated from God. "It is a part of human consciousness that sin makes a separation between God and the soul." Because of this consciousness, Pagans, Jews, and Gentiles have the idea of a mediator. The Persians regarded their god Mithras as their mediator. Among the Jews, mediation was considered one of the functions of the Messiah, and all Gentiles attach that meaning to the priestly office. The idea of salvation by a mediator is not new, but in some way or another belongs to all religions.
The Scriptures not only teach the doctrine of a mediator, but that it is the only way of reconciliation between God and man. Jesus Christ is the appointed mediator to