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In the fame manner, Christ dying for sin is engraven in such characters through the whole revealed will of God, that it is impossible to take it away without overturning the whole system. For this end Christ came into the world; for this end he bore the name of Jesus, or the Saviour; and for this end he became the high priest of our profession, that he might, by one offering, for ever perfect them that are sanctified.
This then is the scripture-view of Christ as our propi. tiation, that our guilt is taken away, and we are reconciled to God through the sacrifice which he hath offered without spot or blemish. And notwithstanding all that has been thrown out against it by the pride of self righteoufness, there is nothing that can be justly opposed to it on the part of unprejudiced reason. God is merciful, but he is also just. And as there is nothing more imseparable from the idea of fin, and an accusing conscience, than merited punishment; so there is nothing more effential to the idea of justice in God, than a disposition to inflict it. This the scripture every where declares; and the conscience of the guilty, who dreads his Maker's presence, ratifies the truth.
Now, if God shews mercy to the finner, is it so abhorrent from reason, that this should be by a Mediator, if one can be found fit to step in between the parties, and “ lay “his hand upon them both ?” Is not this necessary to manifest the righteousness and severity of the law, as well as the tenderness and compassion of the judge? Is not this precisely the reason alligned for it in scripture ? Rom. iii. 25. “To declare his righteousness for the remission of “ fins that are past, through the forbearance of God.” It is trilling to say, that there is nothing of the passion of an. ger in God, that should need to be appeased. Such expressions are only figurative, but they convey their meaning very clearly. It is not anger or revenge, as they appear in our disordered frame, that accepts of an atonement. These furious passions fly directly at the offending person, and reject all intercession. But justice, in calm and regular government, requires satisfaction, that the malignity and demerit of the offence may be preserved, while mercy is extended to the criminal. We ought to consider, that one great and general end of the despensations of Providence is, to illustrate the glory of the true God in all his real perfections. This is best done by a purchased pardon, by a wise and awful mixture of impartial justice with unmerited mercy. How can you hear the word mercy so often without perceiving this? It is not mercy at all, unless it is bestowed on those who have deserved to fuffer; and therefore why may not a voluntary furety be admitted to suffer in their place? The truth is, such are the impreffions that are usually made on the awakened conscience, of the infinite holiness and purity, and the tremendous majelty of God, that nothing less will satisfy it than a sufficient atonement, or a clear view how he may be “ just, " and yet the justifier of him that believeth on Jefus."
But, my brethren, it is one thing, to know, to profess, or even to support the truth; and another, but of unspeakably more moment, to feel, and to apply it. It is one thing, to have a rational conviction, from critical inquiry, that this is taught in the holy scriptures; and another, to cleave to it with esteem and affection, as the gospel of our salvation, as the great foundation of our hope and peace. Therefore, in what remains of this branch of the subject, I would consider myself as speaking, not to the wrangling disputer, but to the convinced finner; not to the felfrighteous boaster, but to the broken in fpirit. The chief circumstances in the propitiation which Christ hath made, to be taken notice of in this view, are these two: 1. Its absolute necessity. 2. Its perfect fufficiency.
1. Consider the absolute necessity of this atonement. There is no other way by which the finner can be restored to the favor of God. Nothing can be clearer from the holy scriptures. It is indeed the tacit inference that may be drawn from the whole. Why is this love and mercy of God celebrated in such exalted strains by the in. fpired writers, and felt with so much gratitude by the re. deemed, but that they were under condemnation, and must have perished, but for the help of this Saviour? Rom. “ viii. 1. There is therefore now no condemnation to
them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the - " flesh, but after the Spirit.” And the same chapter, ver.
33. " Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's “ elect? It is God that justifieth.” John iii. 16. “ God “ so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, w that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but “ have everlasting life.” As “ without shedding of blood
there is no remislion,” sowe have the same infallible testi" mony, Heb. x. 4. that“ it is not possible that the blood
of bulls and of goats should take away sins.” Nay, that the thing might be put beyond all possibility of doubt, see the declaration of Peter and John, Acts iv. 12. “ Nei
ther is there salvation in any other : for there is none
other name under heaven given among men whereby " we must be saved.” And what other sense can be put upon these words of our Saviour himself? John xiv. 6. “ Jesus faith unto him, I am the way, and the truth, and " the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me." In vain then do we found our hopes upon any thing else: The holiness of the divine nature, the purity of the divine law, and the greatness of divine power, confpire in blasting every hope of the finner but what is centred in Christ.
2. Consider the perfect sufficiency of this atonement. It is sufficient to answer all the demands of law and jus. tice. It is sufficient to vindicate the honor of the divine government, and to illustrate the holiness and justice of God in the forgiveness of fin. It is sufficient to purchase a full and complete remission to the greatest sinner. Whoever reffects upon the infinite wisdom of God, must be sensible that it is not without reason that so much is said on this subject in scripture ; that so much pains is taken to set forth the glory and greatness of the Saviour of finners. The greatness of his person, and dignity of his character, are set before us in the most striking light. He is “ the eternal and only begotten Son of God; the bright“ness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his “ person.” And Phil. ij. 6. « Who being in the form “ God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” If. “ ix. 6. : For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is “ given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder: "! and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counsellor,
“ The mighty God, The everlasting Father, the Prince of 6 peace.”
It is not easy indeed to enumerate the magnificent titles with which he is adorned in fcripture: The Alpha and Omega,- The first and the last, The Prince of the kings of the earth, -The King of kings, and Lord of lords, The King of glory,and The King of saints. What mighty works are subscribed to him in creation and providence! We are told, “ He shall reign till all enemies are " are brought under his feet.” The propriety of his facrifice as the Son of man, and the purity of his facrifice as the Holy one of God, are taken notice of in scripture; Heb. ii. 17. “ Wherefore in all things it behoved him “ to be made like unto his brethren ; that he might be a “ merciful and faithful high-priest, in things pertaining to # God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.” Heb. ix. 13, 14. “For if the blood of bulls, and of goats, " and the afhes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanc* tifieth to the purifying of the flesh; how much more « fhall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit, * offered himself without spot to God, purge your con“ fcience from dead works to serve the living God?" To this you may add the continued fulness that dwells in him; John i. 16. “ And of his fulness have all we received, " and grace for grace." Col. i. 19. " For it pleased " the Father, that in him should all fulness dwell.” What is this, my brethren, but to encourage and embolden sin, ners to put their trust in him, and to carry home with power this truth, which I fhall give you in the words of the Holy Ghost? Heb. vii. 25. “ Wherefore he is able “ also to save them to the uttermost, that come unto God " by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for " them."
II. I proceed now to the second thing proposed, which was, to consider the extent of this propitiation, founded on the last clause of the text: “And not for ours only, “ but also for the sins of the whole world.” In general, when we remember that this epistle was written chiefly to the converts of the circumcision, it may convince us, that in all probability this expression was intended against the
great and national prejudice of the Jews, of which we fee very frequent notice taken in the New Testament. As they had the oracles of God committed to them, as for the wife purposes of his providence he had separated them from other nations, and the Messiah was to descend from them according to the flesh, they apprehended that all the blessings of his reign were to be confined to themselves : therefore they are often given to understand, that the purpose of mercy was far more extensive, and that Christ came with a view to fulfil that promise made to the father of the faithful, Gen. xxii. 18. “In thy feed thall all the na" tions of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed “ my voice.” The expression in the text then undoubtedly implies, that redemption through the blood of Christ was to be preached to sinners of the Gentiles; that as he had been the Saviour of all ages by the efficacy of that facrifice which he was to offer in the fulness of time, so that the virtue of it was not to be confined to the house of Israel, but to belong to finners of every nation under heaven.
I am sensible, my brethren, that very great controver. fies have been raised in another view, as to the extent of Christ's death, and the import of this and other such ge. neral expressions in the holy scriptures. In this, as in most other debates, matters have been carried a far greater length than the interest of truth and piety requires; and, as is also usual, they have arisen from an improper and unskilful mixture of what belongs to the secret counsels of the Most High with his revealed will, which is the inva. riable rule of our duty. Without entering, therefore, into these debates, which are unsuitable to our present employ.. ment, or rather giving my judgment, that they are for the most part unnecessary, unprofitable, or hurtful, I shall Jay down three propositions on this subject, which I think can hardly be called in question, and which are a sufficient foundation for our faith and practice.
1. The obedience and death of Christ is of value fufficient to expiate the guilt of all the sins of every individual that ever lived or ever fall live on earth. This cannot be denied, since the subjects to be redeemed are finite, the