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circumstances of this case, and thus at once to satisfy God's moral law, and to throw open the gates of mercy to man. And such, our Book declares, is the person of Christ, and such the work of his atonement for our sins. Whatever, then, may be said of this scheme of redemption, one thing we are sure is certain, namely, that it is intelligible, applicable, and good. Why it has been chosen, it may be impossible for us to say ; but we can say that, as it appears from our Scriptures to have been chosen, it must have originated purely in the desire to shew mercy; at once to honour and give effect to the moral law of God, and to afford a ground of hope to every awakened sinner on earth.
But it may still be urged, that it is unreasonable one should be accepted for all,-justice requires that every man suffer for his own sins. This, I answer, is true on some views of our question, but not on all; particularly with reference to the Scriptures and matter of fact, about which we are speaking. For we are told, that “through the sins of one man, judgment came on all men to condemnation :" that is, our first father having transgressed God's law, his offspring, as it is the case in all human society, became losers in one way or other on this account; but for which, laws as such, could make no provision. It was purely an act of mercy, therefore, in the Judge, and that attempered with justice, to allow the remedy to be applied in a similar way; and, what is very remarkable, this remedy was proposed at the very time the transgression took place; in order, as it should seem, that the avenue of mercy
should never be closed. This part of our system, therefore, taking it as it is, is so far from being unreasonable, that it seems to be the only reasonable one, by which such a remedy could be provided as would meet all the circumstances of the case. In the first instance we were placed in a situation, and that by the transgression of another, from which no effort of our own could rescue us; in the last, we have means offered adequate to secure a recovery from the whole injury inflicted, and this proposed by one who, we are told, was himself not only without sin, but was also able and willing to redeem us from the consequence of ours. Here then we have an adaptation of the remedy to the disease, -of payment to the debt contracted; in short, of mercy attempered with justice, such as
not only to meet all reasonable expectation, but also such as, in cases in some respects similar, has ever been resorted to in the dealings of man with man. On what authority all this rests, and whether it is or is not sufficient, and even binding on all to accede thereto, will be seen hereafter. Our conclusion for the present is, that there is in this nothing unreasonable ; but, on the contrary, every thing calculated to honour the law, exalt in the highest possible degree the mercy and goodness of God, to raise the hopes, and to stimulate to action the best energies of man.
A few other objections may be, and are indeed often, made on this subject, which it may be right here to notice. It may be said, that the first sentence of the law is still complied with : death still passes upon all men, notwithstanding the atonement said to be made. True, I answer ; the mercy just spoken of “is not,” to use the words of our Scripture, “ against the law." The law still takes its course and this it does too to its full extent, wherever it is not disarmed by the more excellent system of mercy. Men still die, and they all die through the transgression of their first parent; but by the provision made by their second, or what in our Scripture it styled “the second Adam,” they have the promise of an “eternal life” to be enjoyed beyond the grave. This appears to have originated purely in mercy, and under the system of grace just alluded to. Before the first transgression took place, there was, as far as we can see, no knowledge much less an expectation of this in a higher state of being; and, if eternal life on the earth was then to be the boon to follow upon a strict observance of the precept, the change introduced is manifestly for the best, the only difficulties we have now to do with being, to suffer afflictions patiently for a season, to look, by an exertion of faith, to another and better state of things, and, last of all, to pass the ordeal of death, in order to realise this “ far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” This distant scene and season of reward has, however, this truly great inconvenience in it, it is removed into an unknown state of being; and what man, in his first estate, could not perform acceptably for a day perhaps, it is now expected he should do continually in the face of all the temptations, which a world dead in trespasses and sin can present to his view. We shall shew, hereafter, however, that sufficient provision is also made for this, and that such as it is most reasonable to expect would be. To submit to death, therefore, can never be considered grievous to him, who knows how justly he has deserved it, upon the very best supposition. To this just sentence no reasonable man can object; and, if he happen to be of the number of those, who have not failed to avail themselves of the provision made in our Scripture for this case, he will most likely be inclined to follow a very bright example therein mentioned, who said, It is far better to depart and to be with Christ. Such an one cannot but be convinced, that this is a state in which real happiness is not to be found ; and, therefore, whatever earthly ties it may possess, he will never regret to leave it.
Another question may be, Was, then, this atonement made for all in this point of view, namely, “as all die, even so shall all be made alive?" or, in other words, as all men are now subject to death without exception, shall all, as necessarily and without exception, be admitted to eternal glory through the efficacy of the atonement ? I answer, however analogical this may appear, it is nevertheless both unreasonable and unscriptural. Characters capable of no moral responsibility may, indeed, if there were such, fall properly enough under such a category; but men are no such creatures as these. We have some notions of right and wrong, even by the light of nature, and faculties capable of being raised, under a good system of instruction, to a surprising degree of knowledge and of virtue. In this case, then (and such is the case we have all along supposed), it would be of unreasonable things the most unreasonable to suppose, that the virtuous and the vicious should fare alike,-that those who “by patient continuance in well-doing seek for glory, and honour, and eternal life,” should, after all, be placed only on a par with others, who have been the pest of the world and the curse of society. This would be, to argue for the reasonableness of disregarding every moral law of right and wrong, and to recommend virtue only for the merit of its sufferings, and the hopelessness of its reward or redress in any state of being. Besides, the doctrine of the atonement, connected as it is with the expectation of a future life, demands a belief at least in every one who aspires to the privileges proposed in Scripture; and if a belief, then also an entire submission to every precept it shall unfold, as a condition to be complied with: and this will involve its morality; not with the view indeed of meriting the boon had in prospect, but of affording that obedience, which, it may be presumed, is quite consistent with the character of the rational beings with which our Scripture has to do. Taking man then such as he is, not what he might have been, we have as yet discovered nothing unreasonable in the doctrines of our Scripture; but, on the contrary, that which alone appears to be likely to make him, what his endowments declare he ought to be, a good member of society, a happy man, and a consistent cultivator of the requirements both of nature and of grace.
There may be, and often is, a further and indeed summary objection made to the whole of this argument, which is this : To suppose a system of this sort at all necessary to the councils and proceedings of Omnipotence, is to suppose something very far beneath the dignity of such a being. I answer : No doubt need for a moment be entertained as to the question, whether Omnipotence might not have had recourse to other methods, quite as well suited as that in question to secure man's eternal salvation. It never can be our duty to limit Omnipotence, particularly in cases about which we can have no knowledge, and over which we have no control. Other means, we grant, might have been devised suitable to the attainment of this end; but, if one has been devised which appears to be adequate to bring it about, and one which has confessedly originated in mercy, it is surely our duty to be thankful for it, rather than to set about devising another, and thus to resist both the wisdom and power of the Almighty. In the general ordinances of our Scripture, whether they be the best which could possibly have been devised or not (which we can never say), there is a suitableness to our state and wants which cannot but very strongly recommend them to our acceptance. In the present case, for example, we can have no doubt that guilty creatures ought to be punished; and we know from experience, that this consideration has a very powerful effect in regulating the affairs of society, and in promoting the good of all. But in cases of sincere repentance, it would
be extremely hard, were there no means of escaping, or of alleviating, the decisions of the Judge. Now, in another's willingly becoming our ransom,—spontaneously undergoing the punishment due to our transgressions, and thus placing us in a new situation in the estimation of our Maker, justified from all things, and adopted as his children in a peculiar sense; we see not only mercy in the Creator, but kindness and love in the Redeemer, the most powerful, the most persuasive, the most disinterested. This, then, as it is suitable, so is it delightful; as it is necessary, so is it seasonable ; and as it is free, so is it certain. Humility will give it an entrance, Faith a full assurance, Grace a permanency, universality, and acceptableness, which nothing can sully, shake, or injure. In life it will constitute a peace which passeth all understanding ; in death, a resignation and a hope unparalleled under any other circumstances; and when this last conflict shall be over, a crown and a kingdom which fadeth not away.
Whatever, then, might be said or thought of such other means of salvation as might possibly have been devised, that which our Scripture recommends to our regard is one which we can at least understand, admire, and love. It is one which is in unison with the other works of the Creator ;, with this only difference, that while they astonish, overwhelm, and perplex, this instructs, raises, and supports ; while other things indeed proclaim Him to be unsearchable in wisdom and mighty in operation, this declares in accents never to be misunderstood, that God is love.
ON THE REASONABLENESS OF THE DOCTRINE OF THE IMMORTALITY OF
Just as the doctrine of the atonement is connected with that of the salvation of the soul, so is that of the resurrection of the body with the resurrection of the body of Christ. We now proceed to consider the reasonableness of these in their order.
With reference to the immortality of the soul, nothing with