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OF CHRIST BRIEFLY EXPLAINED AND DEFENDED

flesh, ye shall die ; but if, through our of all his perfections, and the the Spirit, ye do mortify the deeds interest of his universal king. of the body, ye shall live,

dom, pardon, and justify all those LEIGHTON. who by a true faith are united

to Christ, and so receive the gift

of his righteousness. THE DOCTRINE OF THE ATONE

But to prevent mistake, it MENT

must be carefully observed, that

we are far from imagining that' IN A SERIES OF LETTERS TO

the sins of men were transferred A FRIEND.

into Christ,for in him was no sin. LETTER I.

It is impossible that the act of The Doctrine stated.

one person should, be made the DEAR SIR,

act of another. Nor can the AGREEABLY to your request, criminality, the blameworthi. some thoughts on the Doctrine ness, the desert of punishment, of the Atonement are here offer which is inseparable from sin, ed to your candid consideration. be shifted from the sinner to one A doctrine, which is much ob- who is personally innocent. Far jected to by those who style them- be it from us to imagine that selves rational Christians, and al- Christ became blamable, or that so by some others : but which he deserved punishment, or that seems to be plainly taught in the God was displeased with him, in Scriptures as an important arti- consequence of his becoming cle of the Christian religion. our sponsor, and assuming our

It has been, I think, the gener- guilt, or penal obligation. The al belief of Christians, particular. Pather was ever well pleased in ly, as professed in the Protestant his beloved Son, who was never churches, that the sins of men more the object of his complawere imputed to Christ, or ju- cence,than when he bore our sins dicially charged upon him, as in his own body on the tree. their sponsor : That their guilt, The guilt and punishment of or the obligation they were en- our sins was not deserved by der to suffer deserved punish- him, but he became subject ment, was transferred to him : to it by voluntarily taking this He having by the appointment burden on himself. of God the Father, and his own the punishment of our sins befree consent, undertaken to make came due to him, as being resatisfaction to the law and justice sponsible on our behalf, though of God, by bearing the punish- it was not deserved by him. ment due to their sins, in their We must not then confound stead; that so God's infinite the guilt of sin, with its criminali. hatred of sin and love of right-ty, or desert of punishment. It çousness being fully exercised is true the word is sometimes and expressed, and the ends for used to signify a state of being which the punishment of sin. blamable or faulty. But by the was necessary, as well answered

guilt of sin we understand the as they would have been in the obligation 10 punishment to which punishment of the sinners. He the sinner is subject by the might, consistently with the hon- threatening of the law. In this

And so

sense the word is always used by to Philemon, that if Onesimus had our divines in treating of the re- wronged him, or owed him any demption and satisfaction of thing, he should impute it to him, Christ. Though the demerit of (so it is in the Greek.) He did sin, or its desert of punishment, not mean that Philemon should is inseparable from its evil na- think that Paul had wronged or ture, and it must remain forever owed him, but that he should true that a sinner deserves pun- charge him with whatever Oneishment; and though according simus might owe, and he would to the law every transgression be responsible for it. And he must receive its deserved punish- elsewhere mentions the blessedment, yet the penitent and be- ness of the man, to whom right: lieving sinner may be pardoned, eousness without works is im; and so freed from his guilt or puted. This could not mean penal obligation, in consequence ihat he was judged to be person: of Christ's taking it upon him- ally righteous in the eye of the self by the approbation and ap- law. It could not be his own pointment of the Father. Tho' righteousness which was imputthe law and justice of God, and ed to him. For he is described the interest of his kingdom, re- as a pardoned sinner, whose sins quire that sin be punished, yet were covered, and not imputed the sovereign of the world might to him. Though in himself he consistently with justice, and the was not righteous, but a sinner, spirit of the law, so far relax its and God knew him to be such a rigor as to transfer the penal ob- one, yet he did not impute sin, ligation of sinners to their ap- but imputed righteousness to proved and authorized sponsor, bim : that is, he freed him from who by suffering the penalty of guilt, and exposedness to punthe law in their stead has freed ishment, as if he had not sinned, all penitent believers from their and accepted him as righteous, guilt or exposedness to deseryed and entitled to the reward of punishment, his satisfaction and righteousness, on account of the merit being accepted in their righteousness of his sponsor giv, behalf, as equivalent, and answer- en and imputed to him. ing all the ends for which the How this transferring of the punishment of sin is necessary. guilt of sin, and the rights of

To impute sin, or righteous. righteousness, is consistent with ness to any one, in the language the justice and truth of God, of the Scriptures, does not mean may perhaps be considered here, the same with judging that he after. In the mean time, if this had sinned, or that he is in him should appear to be the doctrine self a righteous person. Toim- of the Scriptures, we should be pute sin to a person, is to charge cautious of objecting to it, tho' it to him so far as to hold him our reason should be puzzled in subject to the penalty thereto accounting for it. Let us then annexed, as if he had sinned. To have recourse to the law and to the impute righteousness is to accept testimony, searching the Scripe one as entitled to the rewards of tures whether these things are so. righteousness, as if he were a If we should not be thought wore righteous person. So Paul wrote thy to rank with the rational

AGED MINISTER TO A YOUNG
STUDENT IN DIVINITY.

Christians, yet if we can attain to sublime ; with the simple mabe scriptural ones, we may think jesty, which runs through the ourselves happy. I would, how- whole volume. I mention this ever, not neglect to use, as well now, because many of these speas I can, the small share of rea- cimens will meet us, while we son which God has given me, are pursuing the first object ; in investigating and ascertaining and may therefore be minuted the true meaning of the divine as we go along. But they will oracles, by comparing more ob- deserve to be made a distinct scure or ambiguous passages branch of study. Where else with those whose meaning is can we find the truths of religion more plain and determinate. To conveyed with such majesty ; or explain the Scriptures by the in a manner, which awakes such Scriptures seems to be a rational, great and exalted sentiments ? as well as approved method of I doubt not it has often occurrprocedure. May God assist and ed to you, whether prayer, which succeed the attempt. With re- constitutes so important a part of spect and affection, your friend, ' the public exercises, should not

Christian of the ancient School. be more premeditated, than it of(To be continued.)

ten is ; and have more of mean

ing, and be more inspired, enORIGINAL LETTERS, FROM AN

riched, and diversified with the varieties of sublime and impres

sive devotional matter, which

No. 3.* the Scriptures furnish. Improve My Dear Sir,

then upon those, who have gone I SHALL join my poor peti- before you. In this there is a tions, that He who "giveth liv- large field open for it. It is easy erally,” may be with you in the to observe who has not attended important design you mention. enough to this branch of study.

And when that first object, that But accept it as a proof of sinceriof collecting together the doc- ty, that I dare not omit a hint of trines, and the sentiments of this nature, though it brings up Revelation, is accomplished, a in a strong view, my own deficiensecond will naturally come in cy. It is nevertheless true, that view ;—that of studying the tran- prayer, though I believe it should scendent eloquence of those divine be generally more compendious, writings, and enriching the mind than it is, might become as inby attentively noting the varie- teresting, as any part of public ties of energetic expression with exercise, and such it ought to be. which great truths are convey. Such it was, indeed, where Coled; the numerous striking fig- man, the two Coopers, President ures, and turns of thought ; and Davies, and a few more officiated. the inimitable specimens of the And it may be again, if with the beautiful, the pathetic, and the attentions now hinted, the Spirit

of grace and supplication shall * No. 2 of these Letters has been concur, which, that we may both unfortunately lost. We will thank experience, is the continual wish our Correspondent to forward anoth- of your friend, &c. er copy.

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My dear Sir,

No. 4. I AM much pleased that you find such friendship and valuable society with Mr. I hope you will derive much assistance and animation from him in those studies, in which I pray the MOST HIGH to grant you the best direction, and the happiest suc

cess.

With respect to your choice of books, though I bave not an idea of adding much to what will meet you from other quarters, I will however drop a hint or two. One is, to prefer those authors, who take up divine subjects, in the way which is most agreeable to their nature, and most adapt ed to interest the heart. Divinity has this special quality; that it is always wronged, when it is treated in a mere speculative manner. Yet it often has been, and by great writers, especially where they treat upon the great first principles of natural or revealed religion. Yet these, be cause they are first principles, are the more interesting, and should be treated as such; and when they are, the effect is perceived at once. I do not suppose that either of us considers Necker, as a finished divine. But there are some specimens in him of the kind I refer to, which are certainly very impressive; and worthy to be remembered by the divine and the preacher: Particularly in his 5th chapter on the importance of religious opinions, to which I refer you. Yours, &c. (To be continued.)

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essay, are such as are connected with the story, propagated by the Jews, that the disciples came by night and stole the body of Jesus, while the watch were asleep. Of course but a small portion of the arguments in favour of the resurrection must be expected. I lay no claim to novelty; if any one shall say, "I have heard, or thought of the same before," perhaps some others have not. The advancement of the truth, not the gratification of curiosity, is my sole object.

The body of Jesus, let it be remembered, was placed in a sepulchre, which had been cut out of a rock; all entrance into it therefore was excluded, except at the mouth. The mouth was closed by a very large stone, and guarded by a band of Roman soldiers, who, as it is well known, if found asleep at their posts, must have answered for it with their lives. How happened it, that the discipres, who undoubtedly were apprized of this military law, and of the other facts referred to, should venture to gain access to the sepulchre, at so great a haz ard? Knowing the watch to be awake, they must have despaired of success; and what reason had they to imagine that sixty or seventy men, for such was the usual number of a Roman guard, would suffer themselves to sleep, at the risque of their lives; and that all would so sleep at the same instant of time? Here would indeed have been a miracle, how much soever the enemies of Christianity may wish to avoid one in matters of revelation.

But, admitting that the soldiers were asleep, how could they testify that the disciples stole the body? They might, it is true,

testify that, before they slept, the body was there; and that, when they awoke, it was missing; but this is not telling how it was missing; whether through the stealth of the disciples, or miraculously, or any other mode of escape. But I will not waste time in examining the evidence of facts, which were witnessed by persons asleep.

Admitting again that the soldiers were asleep, how happened it, that the disciples knew that fact? We cannot suppose that they were watching such an event, an event the most improbable, and beyond the power of the imagination itself to fancy. Besides, what reason had they, or any body else, to suppose that the body could be conveyed away without giving alarm to the soldiers, when it is considered, especially, that many hands would be required to move the stone from the mouth of the sepulchre, and that this could not be performed without producing a very considerable noise! Would it, furthermore, be natural for the disciples, in their haste, to be so particular, as to¶ strip the body of its winding sheet, and the head of its napkin; and, wrapping them up in separate parcels, to lay them carefully in the tomb? Would it not have been more natural, to take the body with its clothes about it, and make all possible dispatch, to avoid detection? Why did they choose the latter part of the night, as it must seem they did, on the supposition made, for such an expedition? For it should be considered that, after they had stolen

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the body, it was incumbent upon them also to conceal it.

Had the chief priests believed that the body was stolen, why was not an immediate search ordered, to discover where it was deposited? Had search been made, there is every reason for believing that a discovery would have been the result. It is no very easy matter to conceal a dead body for any great length of time, so that no traces of it be observed; and at that time, in Jerusalem and its environs, full of people collected to keep the passover, the difficulty must have been increased. The thing was possible indeed; and that possibility, we allow objectors to employ to their utmost advantage. That the chief priests believed nothing about the stealing of the body, and that they fabricated the story themselves, or connived at the fabrication, is manifest from the fact, that they made no effort to detect the fraud of the disciples, as they would term it. They had the strongest motives to expose to the world the knavery of these men, if any such knavery existed; they had the fullest reason to believe, that by a diligent search the body might be discovered; if such discovery had been made, Christ would have been proved, at once, to be an impostor; his religion have been overthrown; and themselves not only exonerated from the guilt of putting him to death, but shown to be highly praiseworthy in vindicating the truth of God. These were motives, which could not have failed to influence the minds of such men, as composed the Sanhedrim of the Jews; men covetous of a character for zeal in their religion, and little

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