« AnteriorContinuar »
On the Truth of the Atonement.
Having in the last chapter asserted the necessity of the atonement; I shall now endeavour to prove its truth, which the Socipians not only call in question, but which they also expressly deny. Though in order to conceal their real views, they appear willing to retain the word satisfaction, and though they often use it, yet it is in a sense widely different from that of the orthodox divines. In order clearly to ascertain the point at issue, I shall make a few preliminary remarks.
The subject in controversy is not, whether Christ, by a general satisfaction, has fulfilled all the conditions which the divine will imposed upon him, in order to procure our salvation, for our adversaries admit such a satisfaction; at least Crellius professes to do so, in his book against Grotius. But we enquire whether the satisfaction made by Christ was strictly penal, and not only fulfilled the will of God, but also satisfied divine justice; Christ having taken upon himself our sins. Our opponents deny; we affirm.
The controversy does not respect a metaphorical satisfaction, which is effected by a nominal remission of sina satisfaction, which by supplication obtains through the mere indulgence of God, some favour. This is admitted, and often spoken of by our adversaries to deceive the simple. But they pertinaciously deny that Christ has made a true and proper satisfaction, by paying a full price, and by obtaining through his merits, the acquittal of the sinner, and
this on the ground of justice. We maintain that this is the true scriptural atonement.
It is not whether the death of Christ is advantageous to us, and in various respects promotes our interests; for this also, they willingly admit. It is whether, by substituting himself in our place, he suffered the punishment due to us. We maintain that he did.
It is not whether Christ is our Saviour, on account of his revealing truth, and announcing to us the way of salvation; on account of the example of his life, in which he displayed his power, and wrought miracles to confirm the truth; or on account of his efficacious power, by which he will assuredly bestow on us this salvation; for all this Socinus* grants to Christ. The great subject of debate is, whether Christ, by his satisfaction and merits, is our Saviour in the strictest sense of the word. Our opponents have openly made the utmost exertions to overturn this doctrine, which has been constantly held by the orthodox, and proved by various solid and irresistible arguments.
Our first argument is drawn from those scriptural texts in which Christ is said to have redeemed us to have redeemed us by his blood, by: a price properly so called, one perfectly sufficient; and which assert that a satisfaction in its true and proper sense has been made. Price refers to distributive justice-justice which gives every one his due. Numerous are the passages of scripture which speak of Christ's sufferings, as a price. “ tre were redeemed by a price." “ Pre were redeemed from your vain conversation, not by corruptible things such as silver and gold, but by the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without spot.” “ŞChrist gave himself for us, that he might redeem (purchase) us from all iniquity.” “In whom we have redemption through his blood.” i The Son of man came that he might lay down his life a ransom for many"-húrger arti modãy, i. e. a price of payment many,
or in the
The name Je
* Chap 9. Book I. de Servatore, Chap. 5, 6. # 1 Pet. i. 19.
Ś Tit. ii. 14.
+ 1 Cor. vi. 20.
sus denotes the same thing, “ *He is called Jesus because he saves his people from their sins.”
Though the word redemption is sometimes used in scripture to denote a mere deliverance, which is procured without the payment of any price, as Moses is called Autgerus, a deliverer;t and as God is said to have " redeemed Israel out of the house of bondage;" yet it does not follow that in this argument, it is to be taken in that sense. Many things prove that in the business of man's salvation, the word is to be understood as signifying redemption by the payment of a price. 1. This is the primary import of the words Aurgos, kte Aureor, and we may in no case give them any other, unless for a very solid reason. This is not denied by Socinus him, selft. “To redeem any one, properly signifies nothing else but to free a captive, by paying a price to him who de, tains him.” 2. Because the conditions of freeing man require this; as man is a prisoner to death, Satan and sin; to the law and to justice; and that both in relation to guilt and pollution. He is condemned of God and a child of wrath; from which evils he cannot be freed, but by making a satis. factory payment. 3. Such is the redemption procured by the price mentioned, 1 Cor. vi. 20. Why should the apostle use dvigor and copen, price of redemption and punishment, if no price was paid. The reply usually made to this, is that the term is used in a figurative sense, and denotes that we are freed from the power of sin. This is an assumption, which, as we do not grant it, our opponent is bound to prove. Nay, the contrary is evident. The price is compared to very precious earthly things, such as gold, silver and jewels, which have always a relation to price, strictly so called, 1 Pet. i. 18. 4. We have not only the word duggor, a price of redemption, but also the word "vtidurgo, applied to the suffering and death of Christ. The word aur goy might admit of quibbling, but nothing can be more express than the word artiausgor. It denotes not merely a price, but such a price as is perfectly
| Acts, vii, 35. Deut. vii. 8.
• Matt. i. 21.
equal to the debt, which it pays; this is the force of the preposition arri, which expresses substitution. Aristotle, who surely understood the Greek language, uses the word arriTeon, in the 9th book of his Ethics, and 2d chapter, to denote the redemption or purchasing of a life, by substituting another life in its room.
Hence it appears that this redemption is not a mere manumission, such as that in which a master, without any price, sets free his slaves; nor is it simply an act of power, by which prisoners are rescued from the hand of an enemy; nor a bare exchange such as that of prisoners of war. No, this redemption is much more. It is made by a perfect satisfaction, a full payment, such as a surety makes for the debtor. Our deliverance, indeed, is procured without any price paid on our part, and purely through the free grace and mercy of God.*. The divine power too is displayed gloriously, as exercised in emancipating us from the tyrannical dominion of Satan, over whom Christ obtains a victory and triumph. There is also an exchange in respect of Christ, who was substituted in our place, and suffered the punishment due to us; yet in relation to the justice of God a perfect satisfaction must be made.
The truth of the atonement is also proved from those passages of scripture, in which Christ is said to have died, not only for the promotion of our interests, but also in our stead, as a substitute. “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly--in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”. “For Christ also hath suffered for our sins, the just for the unjust.” Our reasons for understanding these phrases in this sense and none other, are:-1. This is the common import of the preposition utep (for) which is used in these texts, and which when applied to persons, denotes among the Greeks substitution: as in Romans, v. 7. “Scarcely for a just man will one die,” i. e. in his place, and in Romans, xi. 3. “ uvedere a urip adua
* Rom. iii: 24. Eph. ii. 8.
+ Col. ii. 15.
," " for or in the room of his brethren.” 2. It is else. where expressed by arri, in the room of, as in Matt. xx. 28, and by artinurgor, a price of redemption, as in 1 Tim. ii. 6. “Who gave him a ransom (artidurqor) for all.” Both of these import substitution-life for life, lex talionis. “ Eye for (avto) eye".* 3. Christ is said to have died for us in a manner peculiar to himself, a manner in which neither Paul nor Peter can be said to die, or be crucified for us.f Both Paul and Peter might die for our edification and confirmation in the faith. Hence the sufferings and death of Christ were vicarious; and in their design entirely different from that of the apostles or martyrs. Though the apostles may be said to have suffered for the church, yet it does not fo:low from this, that the object of their death was the same with that of Christ's. They suffered as martyrs for truth, to edify, confirm, and comfort the church, by bearing an honest, and severely tried testimony to the truth of the Christian system; as it is expressed by the apostle. f “Whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation,” &c. but Christ alone laid down his life to redeem the church. And if we are commanded to lay down our lives for our brethren, as Christ laid down his life for us, we are thereby taught not to refuse to undergo the danger of death, nay to suffer with firmness even death itself, whenever the glory of God, the good of our neighbour, or the edification of the church requires it, as the martyrs have done. Hence, indeed, we may
also infer that we should in this imitate the example of Christ, in bearing witness to the Christian system; but it does not hence follow, that our death for our brethren, is for the same purposes as Christ's death for us. We are unable to pay a ransom for our brother, that we may free him from death, as the inspired psalmist expresses it in Psalm xlix. 8. nor by our death can we procure
their reconciliation with God, nor can we by it purge them from sin all which Christ does for his people, by his death. Thus our
* Matt. v. 38.
† 1 Cor. i. 13.