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more lasting interest than is felt in that which is merely descriptive. The one is like a meteor which dazzles us for a moment, the other is like the steady light which guides and directs our steps. We are told by the greatest bard who ever wooed the muses, that poetic genius " is of power to inbreed and cherish in a great nation the seeds of virtue and public civility; to allay the perturbations of the mind, and set the affections in a right tune; to celebrate in glorious and lofty hymns the throne and equipage of God's Almightiness."* It is a pity that such genius should ever be found departing from this its true province. It is especially a pity that it should ever be seen nursing the seeds of irreligion and lust. In such cases, besides having to regret the misapplication of a powerful engine, we have also to mourn the debasement of one of the noblest faculties of our intellectual being.
Jesus the Mercy Seat, or a Scriptural Vien of Atonement. By
J. C. Means, Pastor of the General Baptist Church, Coles
Street, London. London: Green, 12mo. pp. 224. It has been remarked by Soame Jenyns, that so constantly and strongly is the doctrine of the atonement urged through every part of the New Testament, that he who can read those writings and deny its truth, might with as much reason read the works of Thucidides and Livy; and deny that any facts are there recorded relative to the histories of Greece or Rome. The observation came from the pen of a scholar, a philosopher and a layman, and we do not think it an extravagant one. The doctrine is not an inference which the fallible reason of men has deduced from certain statements in the sacred oracles; it has not been elicited by those niceties of criticism upon the received text which require an acquaintance with Greek syntax and idioms to be able to appreciate ; but so unequivocally is it affirmed and repeatedly advanced on the page of revelation, that the very significancy of language is compromised by its rejection. The deniers of the atonement as a scriptural truth, reduce the Bible to a worse than Sybilline story, for the heathen pretenders to inspiration so contrived to word their announcements as to be fairly susceptible of different interpretations, whereas all the literalities of the sacred record are invaded and destroyed, if the death of Christ was not, as the document asserts in almost every variety of expression and phrase, an expiatory sacrifice for the sin of the world. Any assumption contrary to this stamps “ Falsity" upon the words which holy men have written, renders i Deceiver” the befitting title of the self-devoted victim whose history they relate, while "Foolishness” becomes the proper superscription of the cross. Too much importance cannot be assigned to the view of “ Jesus the Mercy Seat” as an object of faith. Besides the integrity of scripture as a truth-telling book, and its character as an intelligible writing being connected with it, the sentiment is maintained throughout its pages, that spiritual blessings can alone accrue to man through the channel of his media
* Milton's Prose Works, vol. i. p. 121. Lond. 1806.
tion; and it is on this ground that we feel it imperative upon us to give the greeting of christian charity and fellowship to all who embrace the doctrine of his sacrificial death with a confidence enlightened and a trust sincere, however on other points we may differ from them; while, on the other hand, we deem it a daty which essential truth and the best interests of mankind demand of us, to “ refrain from those men” who “ deny the Lord that bought them," in all those acts of communion that would identify us with them. And though we may be charged with bigotry for saying this, we hold it to be a line of conduct necessary to preserve unimpaired to the apprehension of our fellows the eternal distinctions between truth and error; and gladly will we encounter the scorn of this world with Paul for declaring, “ though we, or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you, than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed,” if so be, that from the greater judgment of God we may receive the testimony, “ thou hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.”
Apart from the scriptures, the evidence that may be adduced in favour of the scheme of atonement is partial and limited, but Bishop Butler has justly remarked, that the “ reason of the thing, and the whole analogy of nature should teach us, not to expect to have the like information concerning the divine conduct, as concerning our duty. Still many considerations will present themselves to those who with a subdued and chastened spirit examine the subject, to show that the death of Christ as an expiation of the sins of men, is a gracious provision suitable to their case, and is in beautiful harmony with the principles and ends of moral government. It would be no difficult matter also to prove, that the theories which have been proposed in lieu of the christian doctrine, are unsupported by any abstract conclusions of reason, contradicted by every analogy of God's natural providence, and repudiated by the general sense and practice of mankind. The magistrate who administers the civil law, sees no abstract propriety in the remission of past infringements, ou the ground of present repentance or prospective obedience: the every-day experience of human life tells us, that contrition has no power to stay the course of those natural evils that have been induced by folly and wickedness, nor reformation to remove the distresses that have been entailed by improvidence, and the sicknesses that are the fruit of vice; while the phenomenon of the prevalence of animal sacrifice, receives no satisfactory solution, save that which bases it upon a law which the finger of heaven has engraven on the heart of man, that “ without shedding of blood is no remission." It may likewise be observed that the principle of mediation enters largely into the social polity among men, and is co-existent with the bounds of human society. The pleasures and the pains, the successes and the reverses which we experience, are so intimately interwoven with our mutual relations and dependance upon each other, that practically every man becomes in some degree a mediator to his fellow men, both for the communication of good, and the prevention or alleviation of evil. Nothing can be more strictly analagous to the constitution of things in real life, than the provision which the scriptures
make known, that mankind are to be saved not directly but through the intervention of another; and when we consider the moral ends which the voluntary abasement and unexampled sufferings of the "one Mediator” are adapted to answer, and how calculated the sacrifice of himself to expiate the guilt of rebellion, is to conserve or to restore the principle of allegiance to the divine government, we may justly and fearlessly claiin for the doctrine in question the suffrages of every philosophical and enlightened intellect.
The volume before us is devoted to an examination of this momentous subject. It is small and unpretending, written in a devout spirit, and displays a becoming deference to the authority of scripture. The following is the table of contents :-Chap. I. The Doctrine of Atonement stated. II. The Authority of Scripture. III. Consistency of Atonement with the Divine Perfections. IV. Consistency of Atonement with the Scripture Doctrine of Forgiveness. V. VI. VII. VIII. Scriptural Evidence of Atonement. IX. Review of the Scriptural Evidence and general Considerations upon it. X. The personal Dignity of the Redeemer. XI. Practical Influence of the Doctrine of Atonement. At the close of the volume there is a series of notes and illustrations which are very creditable to the writer's theological knowledge, and critical acumen. From the annexed extract, taken at random, it will be seen that his style is as chaste as his sentiments are evangelical:
The Origin of Death. “On this subject Scripture is clear. That death was the penalty of sin, is affirmed, not only in the history of the fall, but in the apostolic writings, especially in Rom. v. and in that admirable chapter, 1 Cor. xv. It follows that Adam, previous to his sin, was immortal; whether by the constitution of his nature, or by perpetual access to the means of sustaining vital energy unimpaired, it is in vain to inquire. The latter may be conjectured from Gen. ii. 9; iii. 22 ; but it can be no more than conjectured. In what way man would have been removed from the earth, we cannot tell; we know from the cases of Enoch and Elijah that death is not essential to such removal. But that removal would, in course of time, have become necessary from the increase of population, is clear, however we may be in the dark as to the manner in wbich it would have been effected.
“The rejection of the scriptural account of the origin of death, by those who profess to receive the Scriptures, is hard to be accounted for; especially as the opposite opinion rests on mere assumption. That our present frame is mortal, there is no doubt; but that it was so at its first creation is entirely destitute of proof. The fact that death under our present circumstances comes as a relief, only shows that God has adapted our circumstances to our constitution; and the infirmities which make us look for death as a relief, are themselves part of the penalty to which we have become subject.
“ Our present constitution, far from impugning the scriptural statement, appears, when regarded as a whole, to corroborate it. The change which took place at the fall, seems to have been simply a change in our physical constitation, a change, that is, from immortality to mortality : it operated upon our intellectual and moral constitution, only so far as these depend upon our physical constitution, or are affected by it. The fall brought the faculties and affections and desires of a soul created for immortality into connexion with a frail and perishing body. And this is the state in which we behold man now, Contemplated as an intellectual and moral being, every thing indicates his M.S. VOL. IV.
original destiny to an endless life. The existence in every breast of the religious principle, however misdirected by ignorance or perverseness, or however Overborne by worldliness or vice; the unquenchable and universal expectation of an hereafter; the absence of any recognised limits to the capacity for knowledge, and the capability of improvement;-all manifest the design with which man was originally formed. Yet this wondrous nature is lodged in a perishable frame, which, if it avoids disastrous accidents and escapes disease, wears out by natural decay before it has passed through the revolution of a century.
“ In this anomalous connection of the immortal with the mortal, we discern a perpetual memorial of the penal sentence, Dust thou art, and unto dust shelt thou return.
“ This sentence, as passed upon Adam, and in him upon his posterity, was that of death without limit, and, unless by a future divine interposition, without remedy. It closed man's existence: and, but for the redemption by Christ Jesus, would have closed it finally and eternally. The divine dispensations before the gospel regard him as an inhabitant of earth alone. Their sanctions, whether of reward or punishment, relate to the present state ; and they lead us not to futurity, except it be by reference to the great deliverer who was to come. Holy men, like David, arguing from what they knew of the divine character, and speaking from the prompting of the immortal spirit within them, expressed their hope and confident expectation of a future life; but there is not a promise of immortality in the writings of the Old Testament, except so far as it is involved in the promise of a Redeemer. Our Lord himself, when reasoning with the Sadducees, brought no other argument than this, that God had given himself a name, which would have been inappropriate, had not all lived unto him, to whose sight the future as well as the past is ever present.
" It is from this entire and conclusive extinction of being that our Lord has redeemed us. By man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the deud. For as in Adam all die, eren so in Christ shall all be made alive. We die, indeed, but death has lost its sting. Our rest in the grave is but the temporary repose, which prepares for the duties and joys of an endless day. Perhaps this temporary death may have been left as a memorial of the fall, a warning of the awful consequences of transgression. It reminds us that our immortality is not the earning of our own deeds, but the gift of divine grace. It introduces to the judgment-seat, that the validity of our claim to the grace which is by Jesus Christ may be examined. The innocent may go unquestioned and untried ; but the pardoned transgressor must appear at the bar, if it is only to plead the king's forgiveness and release.
“ How those who deny death to be the consequence of Adam's sin can explain such passages as that quoted above, it is hard to conceive. Some argue, that what we have by Adam is the knowledge of death; and what we have by Christ the knowledge of immortality. But not only is this hypothesis iconsistent with the apostle's statement, for he mentions the things themselves, and not the mere knowledge of them, which is altogether a different thing ; but it is contrary to fact; for the first experimental acquaintance of man with death was neither in the person of Adam, nor immediately by any act of his. Abel was the first whose death is recorded, and he fell by the hand of Cain, long before Adam's decease.
“ So clear and decided is the apostle's declaration, that it can only be set aside by impugning his accuracy : which is accordingly done by Mr. Belsham in his translation and paraphrase of the Epistles of Paul. This no doubt removes the difficulty; whether in a way consistent with the reverence due to the inspired teachers of Christianity, or compatible with the general authority of the Scriptures, is altogether another question.
“The redemption which we have by Christ does more than remove the penalty of Adam's guilt. That removal would have only placed us under the same covenant as that under which Adam fell, and, like him, we should soon have fallen. In the gospel dispensation the forgiveness of our own offences is secured
to us upon faith and repentance. The judgment was by one (offence) to condenination, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.
“ Those who disregard the invitations of the divine mercy, and refuse to comply with the conditions on which pardon is offered, namely faith and repentance, revert to that state of condemnation from wbich it was designed to deliver them; and become subject to the second death. By what means this death will be brought about we know not. The declarations of Scripture are most awful, and accord with the nature and reason of the case, in assuring as that this selfincurred ruin will be without remedy and without hope."-pp. 175—179.
There are several circumstances connected with this volume of an interesting nature.
1. Mr. Means styles himself, on the title-page, “ Pastor of the General Baptist Church, Coles Street, London.” Our readers in the midland counties, and in other parts of the kingdom, who are only acquainted with the New Connexion of General Baptists, will feel no surprise at one under the above designation arguing in favour of the atonement. But the present writer belonged to the Old Connexion-a denomination which departed from the "apostle's doctrine" along with the old Presbyterians, and which has been drag. ging on an enfeebled existence under the injurious influence of Socinian dogmas. The views entertained by this body, or, as it may more correctly be styled, the lifeless fragment of a body, are, therefore, diametrically opposed to those embraced and advocated by Mr. Means with reference to the death of Christ. The event which he regards as a true propitiation, is nothing more in their apprehensions tban a proof of sincerity and love on the part of a human teacher, illustrating his undoubted confidence in the truth of the doctrines he had delivered by the surrender of his life. Such, too, was the early imbibed opinion of Mr. Means; he tells us that he did not attach any efficacy to the “ decease at Jerusalem” in atoning for sin, though he could not satisfy himself as to the meaning of many passages of Scripture which refer to it; he viewed it simply as an evi. dence of the truthfulness of the sufferer, and an important preliminary to his resurrection, on which the belief of the gospel mainly rests. But his opinions have undergone that material change which his present publication indicates ; a change for which he cannot be charged with capriciousness or haste, as his work displays a diligent course of theological inquiry; and it is a proof of the honesty of his convictions and the integrity of his character, that he has since resigned his office as pastor of the General Baptist Church, Coles Street. Entertaining the views we do of the importance of the doctrine of the atonement, we cannot be indifferent to the adhesion of any mind to it, after wandering in regions remote from a perception of its truth; and it gives us pleasure to find that, in this case, the homage of the intellect to an orthodox sentiment has been connected with the trust of the heart in it as the only source of ennobling and sanctifying influence.
2. The change of opinion adverted to has been produced by a candid examination of the Scriptures, and a becoming deference to their authority. This, we maintain, is the legitimate effect of treating the Bible as an inspired document, and fairly interpreting its meaning. Hence those who have rejected the atonement have been