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in the natural course of Providence; as is also the appointment of a remedy by Jesus Christ, analogous to God's general dealings with man, by means of remedial provisions. And the whole plan of redeeming mercy, is plainly consistent with God's perfect good
VI. The particular manner of Christ's interposition for the redemption of the world, is represented in Scripture, in various forms; by typical prefiguration, prophetical declaration, and in directly express terms. He was to be our Prophet, King and Priest.
1st. In His prophetical office, He declared the Divine Will; republished the original law of Nature, that had become corrupted and lost; taught authoritatively the necessity of a moral and religious life, under the sanction of a future judgment; revealed the nature of true piety, the efficacy of repentance, and the rewards and punishments of a future life; and was also a perfect example of His own precepts.
2ndly. In His kingly office, He founded a Church to be a standing memorial of religion; of which all His obedient followers are true members; and over them He exercises an invisible government by His Spirit, until in the fulness of time He shall receive them to Himself and they shall reign with Him for ever.
3rdly. In His priestly office, he offered Himself as a propitiatory sacrifice, for the sins of the world. This
is mentioned last, because it is most objected against. Now, sacrifices of expiation were commanded to the Jews 1; and were both continually repeated,—as in the daily sacrifices; and also at specially stated times,—as on the great day of atonement; constituting a great portion of their religion. And when Christ is spoken of as the "Lamb of God," and the "Sacrifice for Sin," it is not spoken allusively, be it remembered, or by way of accommodation to these sacrifices of the Mosaic law;-but expressly, as the very substance, whereof these were the prefigurative types and shadows, and in virtue of which, they derived their efficacy. And this is asserted by the inspired writers, in a great variety of forms of expression, establishing clearly and convincingly, that this sacrifice of Christ was of the most efficacious aud extensive influence, for obtaining pardon of sin. "It was impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sin," in the abstract nature of things; "But once in the end of the world Christ appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself."
The office of the Redeemer is represented to be, not merely that of an Instructor, Exemplar, and Governor (as some allege); but that He gave repentance
1 The prevalence of Sacrifice amongst heathens, can only be accounted for satisfactorily, by the supposition of an original revelation, from which it took its rise.
all its efficacy, and placed us in a capacity of salvation, by His atonement. The Scripture states the fact to be so; and if it has left the particular way, in which it has this efficacy, unexplained, it is our place thankfully to accept it, and not to complain of that being mysterious, which, with our present faculties perhaps we could not comprehend.
VII. We are not competent judges (prior to revelation) whether a Mediator was necessary for salvation; nor yet upon the supposition of a Mediator being necessary, are we fit judges either of the whole nature of His office, or of the several particular parts thereof. Hence to object, merely because we cannot comprehend, is absurd; and yet nothing is more common than this absurdity.
One objection seems to require notice: viz., "That Christ's suffering for us represents God as indifferent whether He punished the innocent or guilty." But we might as well object to the whole constitution of Nature, in which we see the same thing constantly occurring, and innocent people suffering, in various ways, for the faults of the guilty. And in fact, if the objection had any force at all, it would be stronger against natural Providence, than against Christianity; because in the former, we are obliged, in spite of our will, to suffer often for others' faults; whereas in the latter, Christ's sufferings were voluntary. It is true
that finally, and upon the whole, every one shall receive the exact measure of his deserts, at the completion of God's moral government; but during its progress, we know not but that vicarious punishment may not only be fit, but even necessary. Moreover, this method of redemption, by the vicarious satisfaction of Christ, has this unanswerable justification, that it manifestly tends to vindicate the authority of God's law, and to deter His creatures from sin.
In the pious exercise of our understanding then, let reason have her due office, of reverentially inquiring into God's dispensations;-yet if the ends and methods thereof be beyond our comprehension, let us not absurdly argue from our ignorance, and miscall it reasoning. If any part of Scripture can be proved contrary to reason, let it be given up; but let not poor, imperfect creatures such as we, object against an infinite scheme, because we do not comprehend some of its parts, especially when the very things objected against, quite correspond to the Analogy of Nature, and to our own daily experience. And this more especially,―since
Lastly, not only reason, but also the whole Analogy of Nature, shows that we must not expect equal information in matters of the divine conduct, and in those of our own duty. Now the above objections are against matters, in which we are not actively concerned,
viz., against the method appointed by the Divine Being for our redemption. Whereas what our duty is, in consequence of this gracious dispensation, is express, plain and obvious. Here again, the natural constitution of the world, and the Christian dispensation, are analogous ;under the former, which is, on the whole, as mysterious to us, as the latter, God has given us all things pertaining to natural life; and in the latter, "all things pertaining to (spiritual life or) godliness." The things essential for our well-being, in each case, being afforded, though the methods and reasons and causes in general be hidden from us.