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time of thine anger: the Lord shall swallow them up in his wrath, and the fire shall devour them.”—Psalm xxi. 8, 9. “O Lord God, to whom vengeance belongeth; 0 God, to whom vengeance belongeth, show thyself.”—Psalm xciv. 1. “ For we know him that hath said, vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord.” " It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."--Heb. x. 30, 31. Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.-Jude, 7. “ The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from Heaven, with his mighty Angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ."-2 Thes. i. 8.
Now if these are the declarations of the Sovereign of the Universe, against such as have broken his laws, and resisted his authority; if he has proclaimed the whole human race to be corrupted and fallen; if he has declared that every mouth must be stopped, and that all the world is become guilty before him, consequences the most alarming and tremendous must follow, were no atonement provided for sinners of the human race. It is the peculiar glory of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that it presents to the souls of guilty men, astonished when they are awakened by the terrors of the Lord, to see the greatness of their crimes, and overwhelmed by the thunders of his violated law-a Mediator between God and man, who has made peace by the blood of his cross.-Col. i. 20. “ Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare at this time his righteousness, that he might be just, and the justifier of him who believeth in Jesus."-Rom. iii. 25, 26. 66 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.”—Gal. iii. 13.
" He hath made him to be sin (or a sin-offering) for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”—2 Cor. v. 21. “ Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon bim; and with his stripes are we healed. All we, like sheep, have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” — Isaiah, liii. 4, 5, 6. 6 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree.”—1 Pet. ii. 24. 6. If the blood of bulls, and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh; how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God ?”
We are redeemed with the precious blood of Christ as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.-1 Peter, i, 18, 19. 6 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.”—Eph. i. 7. “ He is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world."-1 John, ii. 2. “We also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the Atonement.”—Rom. v. 11.-It were easy to collect ten times the number of texts we have here set down, all of them tending to prove, with ihe most decisive evidence, that Christ gave himself a ran. som for all. If men who profess to be Christians reject the doctrine, it is not for want of evidence; but because they conceive it to be 'a doctrine which no evidence can establish. Where men are determined to reject any doctrine, the strength of the evidence will only confirm the violence of their prejudice against it. It is however a doctrine, the cordial reception of which cannot possibly do any man harm, either in this world, or in the next; and the rejection of it may be attended with con. sequences 'tremendously awful to all eternity. Whoever rejects the doctrine of the Atonement, renounces all the benefit that may be derived from the incarnation, from the holy life, from the expiatory death, and from the in. tercession of the Son of God, and resolves to stand en tirely upon the foot of his own goodness. If, therefore, the doctrine of the Atonement shall at last be found to have been a fundamental article of Christianity, no tefuge is left for the man who rejects it, but in the sinless perfection of his obedience, from the time he became a rational agert, to the last moment of his existence in this world. For it must be the greatest possible presumption in any man, to hope that he will derive, in ano. ther world, the benefit of that doctrine which he renounces in this. If the Socinian cappot ascertain, beyond all possibility of mistake, that this doctrine 'has no foundation in the word of God, he stands on the brink of a precipice, from which, to contemplate the depths below, must be sufficient to harrow up his soul; he places himself as a mark for arrows, the poison of which must drink up his spirits.
Should that blaze of evidence in the Scriptures, which the pious Christian thinks he sees establish the doctrine of the Atonement, be at last (found to have been an ignis-fatuus, and to have dazzled his eyes, merely through the consciousness of his own imperfection, so
long as he is careful, habitually to practise righteousness, and to avoid evil, (and this is the only character that we ever suppose can derive any benefit from the Atonement) he is still in no worse condition than the man who has renounced all hope from it. But if the Atonement of Christ be the grand expedient of infinite wisdom, for the salvation of a lost world, he who rejects it, tramples under his foot the blood of the covenant, does despite unto the Spirit of Grace, and sets his seal to his own everlasting condemnation.
It has been argued, that he who rejects the doctrine of the Atonement, is likely to be more vigorous in the cultivation of virtue, than he who receives it, because the former has nothing to trust to but his own goodness, whereas the latter has a supplementary aid, and therefore to him the acquisition of virtuous habits is not so absolutely necessary. To this we reply, that the doctrine of salvation, wholly by the cross of Christ, of all the doctrines in the world, represents most forcibly the evil of sin, the glorious and happy effects of obedience, and, consequently, while its tendency is to deter from the one, it most powerfully draws the soul to the other. The great end of the Christian REDEMPTION being to restore us to the love of God, and of his moral government, and to the practice of good works, it is impossible that it can have any other effect, upon the man who cordially embraces it, than to promote conformity with the ultimate intention of the Almighty, in the formation of this wonderous plan. Who are the men that, in their reasonings upon the awful subject of God's moral government, treat the RIGHTS of the Creator and Governor of the world with the highest reverence, and are most ready to unpreach their own rebellion, and that of their fellow sinners ? Those who believe in the REDEMPTION of the Gospel, and humble themselves in the dust before God. Who are they that set their mouth against the heavens, and prescribe, to the Sovereign of the Universe, in what manner he should act towards those who rebel against his Government? Some of the most determined opposers of the Atonement.–One of these has, in a sermon, represented, that if God mark and punish every instance of transgression, he must be a merciless tyrant, and we must be tempted to wish that the reins of universal government were in better hands.*
A very respectable writer, who is far from being uniformly orthodox, speaking of Christianity, observes, that “ No other religion has ventured to declare the unpardonable nature of sin, without the influence of a mediatorial interposition, and a vicarious atonement from the sufferings of a superior Being.”t Whether these wonderful doctrines are worthy of our belief, must depend on the opinion, which we entertain of the authority of those, who published them to the world: but certain it is, that they are all so far removed from every tract of the human imagination, that it seems equally impossible, that they should ever have been derived from the knowledge, or from the artifice of man.
Some indeed there are, who, by perverting the established signification of words (which they call ex
Mr. Belsham's Sermon on the Importance of Truth, p. 34. † “ That Christ suffered and died as an Atonement for the sins of mankind, is a doctrine so constantly and so strongly enforced through every part of the New Testament, that whoever will seriously peruse those writings, and deny that it is there, may, with as much reason and truth, after reading the works of Thu. cydides and Livy, assert, that in them no mention is made of any facts relative to the histories of Greece and Rome."