« AnteriorContinuar »
On the Necessity of the Atonement. THE Priesthood of Christ, according to the apostle Paul, and the exhibition made of it, in the Jewish ritual may be divided into two parts, the atonement which he made to divine justice, and his intercession in heaven, 1. Joh. ii. 2. Heb. ix. 12. The necessity of such an atonement, which is the foundation of all practical piety, and all Christian hopes must be firmly established, and defended against the fiery darts of Satan, with which it is attacked by innumerable adversaries.
Respecting the necessity of the atonement, the opinions of divines may be classed under three heads. 1. That of the Socinians, who not only deny that an atonement was made, but affirm that it was not at all necessary, and maintain that God could pardon sin, without any satisfaction made to his justice. 2. That of those who distinguish between an abso. lute and a hypothetical necessity; and in opposition to the Socinians maintain the latter kind of necessity, while they deny the former. By a hypothetical necessity they mean that which flows from the divine decree. God has decreed
that an atonement is to be made, therefore it is necessary. To this they also add a necessity of fitness; as the commands of God have been transgressed it is fit that satisfaction should be made, that the transgressor may not pass with impunity. Yet they deny that it was absolutely necessary, as God they say, might have devised some other way of pardon than through the medium of an atonement. This is the ground taken by Augustine in his book on the trinity. Some of the reformers who have written against the Socinians adopt the opinions of that father. 3. That of those who maintain the doctrine of absolute necessity; affirming that God, neither has willed, nor could have willed to forgive sins, without a reparation of the breach of his law, by a satisfaction made to his justice. This is the common opinion of the orthodox. It is our opinion.
Various errors are maintained on this point, by those who deny the doctrine of the atonement. The removal of the grounds upon which they rest will throw. light upon the whole of this important subject. They err in their views of the nature of sin, for which a satisfaction is required; of the satisfaction itself; of the character of God to whom it is to be rendered; and of Christ by whom it is rendered.
. 1. Of sin, which renders us "guilty, and binds us over to punishment, as hated of God. It may be viewed as a debt which we are bound to pay to divine justice, in which sense the law is called “ a hand writing,” Col. ii. 14.-_As a principle of enmity, whereby we hate God, and he becomes our enemy-as a crime against the Government of the universe by which, before God, the supreme governor, and judge, we become deserving of everlasting death and malediction. Whence, sinners are expressly called “ debtors," (Matt. vi. 12.), “enemies to God,”? both actively and passively, (Col. i. 21.) “and guilty before God.” (Rom. iii. 19.) We, therefore, infer that three things were necessary in order to our redemption—the payment of the debt contracted by sin-the appeasing of the divine wrath, and the expiation of guilt.
2. From the preceding remarks, the nature of the satisfac