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sages Christ plainly intimates that the great design of his death was to open the way for the pardon, remission, or forgiveness of sin. Agreeably to these declarations of Christ, his apostles represented forgiveness as the great and only favor granted to sinners on his account. Thus Peter preached to the awakened multitudes on the day of Pentecost.“ Now when they heard

. this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent and be baptized, every one of

you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins." v In another discourse to persons in the same situation, he says, “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out;" that is, forgiven. And when he preached Christ to Cornelius and his family, he taught them," that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins." This is precisely the same language which Paul uses in the text. “ Be it known unto you therefore, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins.” And Paul not only preached that the atonement of Christ was designed to procure forgiveness only, but he also wrote in the same manner in his epistles, in which he professedly explains the design of Christ's death. Treating upon this subject in the third chapter of Romans, he says, “ Therefore by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in his sight.” “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare bis righteousness for the remission of sins.” He also says to the Galatians, “ Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.” The obvious meaning of these words is, that pardon, forgiveness, or freedom from the curse of the law, is the great and sole benefit we receive on Christ's account. Thus the types of Christ, his own declarations, and the declarations of his apostles, unite to prove that his atonement is the only ground of forgiveness, and forgiveness is the only favor which God ever grants to men on account of it. And it will farther confirm this truth, if we consider,

3. That believers are expressly said to be forgiven for Christ's sake. The apostle uses this phraseology in his exhortation to the Ephesians, when he says, “Be ye kind one to another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.” In another place, speaking of Jesus whom God raised from the dead, he


Who delivered us from the wrath to come;" that is, from future and eternal punishment. He

says again, “God commendeth his love towards us,

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in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us."

6 Much more then, being justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him." By the blood of Christ here, we are to understand his atonement, which the apostle says is the ground of justification, or freedom from eternal destruction, which is the proper expression of divine wrath. But there is one or two more expressions which the apostle uses respecting forgiveness through Christ, that deserve particular notice. After telling the Ephesians that they were chosen and accepted in Christ, he farther observes, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins." And he makes the same observation to the Colossians. 6 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins." The mode of expression in these two passages plainly implies that forgiveness is the one peculiar favor which God grants to believers, merely in respect to the redemption of Christ. And this was undoubtedly the apostle's meaning; otherwise he would not have selected forgiveness from all other divine favors, and represented it as the great and only blessing bestowed upon believers, on Christ's account, or merely for his sake.

But here it may be objected, that the great design of Christ's atonement was to lay a foundation for the sanctification, rather than the forgiveness of sinners. To this purpose may be adduced that passage in the first of Matthew, where we read, “ She shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins." Also that passage in Titus, in which it is said of Christ, “ Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”

To these and other passages of the same import, two things may be replied.

First, to be saved from sin generally means in scripture to be saved from the punishment of it, which is precisely the same thing as forgiveness. There does not appear any need of an atonement, in order to lay a foundation for the mere regeneration or sanctification of sinners. Though God could not have consistently forgiven Adam the first moment after he had sinned, without an atonement, yet he might have renewed or sanctified him, as an act of mere sovereignty, without any atonement, and without forgiveness. Hence we may conclude that it was not the primary or principal design of Christ, in coming and dying for his people, to redeem or save them from the power and dominion of sin; but to save or redeem them from the punishment of it. Though God meant to raise the elect from a state of sin to a state of holiness, yet all that Christ had to do, as a Redeemer, for this purpose, was to open a way for a pardon, by making a full atonement for sin. This being done, it belonged to the office of the Holy Spirit to sanctify and prepare them for the kingdom of glory: .

But secondly, as God means to sanctify none but those whom he intends to pardon through the atonement of Christ, so his atonement is a remote, but not an immediate, cause of their sanctification. It is only the occasion, or cause, without which none would be sanctified, or prepared for heaven. There appears to be no propriety in God's renewing and sanctifying any whom he means to shut out of heaven and consign to everlasting destruction ; though such a mode of treating sinners would not be inconsistent with justice, because they would deserve eternal misery after they were sanctified, as much as they did before. But there is no ground to think that God ever has sanctified, or ever will sanctify, any but those whom he means to pardon and save. Hence it appears that the atonement of Christ is designed to render it consistent with justice for God to pardon sinners, and consistent with wisdom to sanctify them. So that men are not sanctified on Christ's account, in the same sense in which they are pardoned or forgiven on his account. In a word, the atonement of Christ is the occasion of the sinner's regeneration, and the sole ground of his pardon or justification, which is perfectly agreeable to the leading sentiment in this discourse.

It may be farther objected, that we are required to ask for other favors besides forgiveness, in Christ's name, or for his sake; which seems to imply that God bestows not only forgiveness, but every other favor, on Christ's account. Among other texts, the following plainly convey this idea : “ Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may

be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it." “ Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. Hitherto ye have asked nothing in my name; ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” “ And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God, and the Father by him.”

To ask, or to do a thing, in Christ's name, very often means nothing more nor less than asking or doing a thing for the honor and glory of Christ. And this is the only proper meaning of the last of the above cited passages.

And to ask or to do any thing for the honor and glory of Christ, is entirely consistent with our asking for, and God's granting us, forgiveness for Christ's sake, in distinction from all other favors.

But we readily allow, there is a propriety in asking for every favor for Christ's sake, though God grants only forgiveness on his account. The propriety lies here. We always need forgiveness when we ask for any favor; and to ask for any favor for Christ's sake, is to ask for forgiveness first, and then for the favor we request. This, we presume, is the real intention of every sincere christian when he asks for any divine favor, for Christ's sake. He feels his guilt, which stands in the way of his receiving any token of God's gracious approbation. And in this view of himself, he asks for favor in Christ's name, or that God would both forgive and show mercy. It is only because he feels the need of forgiveness, that he mentions the name of Christ in his petitions before the throne of grace. But whether we have or have not given the true sense of those texts, which require us to ask for every favor, in Christ's name, or for his sake, yet it is firmly believed that their true meaning does not militate against the doctrine, that it is only forgiveness which God grants to men merely on Christ's account.


1. If forgiveness be the only thing which God bestows upon men through the atonement of Christ, then we may justly conclude that his atonement did not consist in his obedience, but in his sufferings. Those who maintain that his atonement wholly consisted in his obedience, suppose that it was designed only to open the way for God to renew and sanctify sinners. And if this were the only end to be answered by his atonement, it is difficult to see why his atonement might not consist in his preaching, or in his working miracles, or in his wearing a seamless coat, or in his washing his disciples' feet, or in any act of obedience to bis earthly or heavenly Father. Upon the supposition of his atonement being, designed to lay a foundation for God's bestowing any other favor upon sinners than pardoning mercy, we can see no reason why it should consist in sufferings rather than in obedience; or in obedience, rather than in sufferings; or in both, rather than in either. But if it were designed to lay a foundation for forgiveness only, then we can see a good reason why it should consist wholly in sufferings rather than in obedience. His obeying for sinners could be no reason for God's forgiving them on his account, but his suffering for them might be a good reason for God's pardoning them on his account. His dying the just for the unjust, his tasting death for every man, or his suffering for those who deserved to suffer, was doing that which properly constituted an atonement for sin, according to our common ideas of an atonement, or doing that for which sin may be forgiven. It is the common opinion of mankind, that suffering or the shedding of blood is the only thing that can make atonement, or lay a foundation for the remission of sin. And since it appears, from what has been said in this discourse, that pardon, forgiveness, or remission of sin, is the only thing which God does actually bestow upon mankind on account of Christ's atonement, we may safely conclude that his atonement consisted wholly in his sufferings, and neither wholly nor partly in his obedience. It is the end which the atonement of Christ was designed to answer and does answer, that enables us to determine wherein it consisted. And if this be true, all who believe that the only end which Christ's atonement was designed to answer and does answer, was to lay a foundation for forgiveness, will also believe that it consisted altogether in his suffering and dying in the room of sinners.

2. If forgiveness be all that God bestows upon men, through the atonement of Christ, then forgiveness is not only a part, but v the whole of justification. Calvinists have found a great deal of difficulty in explaining justification to their own satisfaction, or to the satisfaction of others. The reason is, that they have endeavored to make it appear that justification contains something more than pardon or forgiveness. The Assembly of divines say, that "justification is an act of God's free grace, wherein he pardoneth all our sins, and accepteth us as righteous in his sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone.” Agreeably to this definition, our Calvinistic divines generally maintain that justification consists of two parts, namely, pardon of sin, and a title to eternal life. Pardon, they suppose, is granted on account of Christ's death, or passive obedience; and a title to eternal life is granted on account of his righteousness or active obedience. But we find no warrant in scripture for thus dividing justification into two parts, and ascribing one part to the sufferings of Christ, and the other part to his obedience. The apostle in our text and context uses the terms forgiveness and justification in the same sense, or as signifying precisely ihe same thing. “Be it known unto you, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; and by him all that believe are justified from all things from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses." When we look into the Old Testament, we there find forgiveness used to denote the same thing that justification is used to denote in the New Testament. And it appears from the explanation which we have given of forgiveness, that it means the removal of all

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