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The judgment, which the apostle Peter tells us, must begin at the house of God,* is not the legal judgment of avenging justice, which proceeds from God as a wrathful judge, but a fatherly and evangelical chastisement; not to punish and destroy, but to hold out a useful example, and to correct us, that thus we may not be condemped with the world. It is similar to that which Paul speaks of, 1 Cor. xia 32. The punishment mentioned 2 Cor. vii. 11. is not properly a punishment inflicted by God in the character of judge, but either an ecclesiastical censure, such as excommunication, which is adjudged by the church for the re. moval of scandal; or it rather denotes repentance and contrition, in which a sinner is offended with himself, and for some crime which he has committed, afflicts his soul.
Though those under the Old Testament dispensation whose sins were pardoned, had still to offer sacrifices for sin, yet a warrant for attempting to make human atonements is not thence to be inferred. The sacrifices then offered were not, properly speaking, propitiatory offerings. They were types of a future atonement to be made by Christ, through the efficacy of which they received pardon.
When Solomon says,t that“ by mercy and truth iniquity is purged,” no countenance is given to the human satisfaction for which the church of Rome contends, for he does not deny, but rather supposes the atonement made by Christ. There are two opinions maintained respecting this passage; one is, that by “mercy and truth” are meant, the
and truth of God: then the wise man would directly allude to, and assert the atonement of Christ. The other opinion is, that the mercy and truth of man are intended; then the doctrine which the text teaches would be, that mercy and truth are a condition always required when sin is pardoned, but not the cause for which the sentence of pardon is pronounced, because, against the unmerciful, judgment without mercy will be exercised. On the other hand, the merciful shall obtain mercy.”
1 Pet. iv. 17.
Prov. xvi. 6.
* Matt. v. 6.
The Hebrew word by which is here translated "purged,” does not properly signify expiatory purging, but either cover. ing and remission only, which God bestows on the believing -on the merciful; or it signifies the removal of a sense of sin. In this sense it is used by the prophet Isaiah.* Then the passage would intimate that the exercise of mercy and sincere piety removes the contrary vices. The following clause of the verse confirms this interpretation of the word; “ by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil.”
Though nothing defiled can enter into the New Jerusalem, yet there is no need of any satisfaction in this life, beside that of Christ, nor of a purgatory in another, to purge away the pollutions of sin; for in the moment of death, when the soul is separated from the body, all the remains of sin are entirely removed by the spirit of Christ.
* I.4. IXviii. 18.
On the Substance of the Atonement.
CONCERNING the matter and parts of the satisfaction, va. rious opinions have been embraced by divines. Some limit it to the sufferings and punishments which he endured for us. This opinion appears to have been first maintained by Cargius, a Lutheran minister, and after him to have been adopted by Piscator, a reformed professor at Herborne. Some of the divines, who have embraced this opinion, confine that righteousness by which we are justified to the death which he suffered; while others of them comprehend in it also all the sufferings of his life. This they call his passive righteousness. The obedience which he yielded to the precepts of the law, they term his active righteousness, which they suppose to have been necessary in the person of the Mediator to the performance of his mediatory functions. They maintain, however, that it forms no part of his atonement, or his merits, which are imputed to us.
The opinion, commonly received in our churches, is that the atonement made by Christ, which is imputed to us for righteousness before God, is not confined to the sufferings, which he endured either in his life or at his death, but that it extends to the obedience of his whole life, to all those just and holy actions, by which he perfectly obeyed the law in our stead. From these two parts—his sufferings and his obedience, they maintain that the full and perfect price of our redemption proceeds.
In order to ascertain precisely the state of the question,
we remark that the subject of controversy is not, whether Christ perfectly fulfilled both the general law, binding to worship God, and the special law commanding him to submit to death. Again, it is not whether the obedience of Christ's whole life was for promotion of our interests, and necessary to the procurement of our salvation. Both are granted by our opponents. They acknowledge that he fulfilled both laws, that the obedience of his life was necessary for him, in the performance of his mediatory duties, and in many respects profitable for us. We enquire whether this obedience forms a part of the satisfaction, which he made to God for us—whether it was yielded in our stead.
Again, the enquiry is not, whether the mere sufferings belong to the satisfaction. For those, whose opinion we controvert, acknowledge that no suffering can be of an atoning nature, unless it be of an active character, voluntarily endured. They also admit that, in order to its being acceptable to God, it must have included active obedience, and voluntary oblation, which should embrace the perfection of charity, together with the most perfect righteousness and immaculate holiness. They even say that the observance of the whole law was condensed into one action, that of Christ's death. We enquire whether the obedience which Christ through his life yielded to the law, is to be joined to the obedience which he yielded in his death and sufferings, in order ito constitute our justifying righteousness before God. We must distinguish between what Christ did directky and immediately to make an atonement, and what only pertained, as previous conditions, to the making of the atonement. In this last we place the personal holiness of Christ.
Hence the question is reduced to this point; is the atonement which Christ made for us restricted to his death alone, or at least to all those sufferings, which were either antecedent to his death, or accompanied it? Or does it comprehend all which Christ did and suffered for us, from the beginning to the end of his life? The former is the opinion of
Cargius, Piscator, and their followers; the latter is our opinion and that of our churches generally.
In order to understand more clearly the doctrine for which we contend, we shall make the following remarks. I. That the atoning sufferings of Christ extend to all those which were inflicted upon him, not only in the garden of Gethsemane, but also to those which he bore during his whole life. We cannot approve of the hypothesis, which restricts the expiatory sufferings of our Redeemer to the pains he suffered during the three hours in which the sun was darkened, and he hung on the cross before his death; while it excludes all the other sufferings of his life, as, at most, only neces. sary to vindicate the truth of God, and to accomplish the typical representations of Christ under the law. We admit indeed, that the greatest agonies of Christ were those to which he was exposed during those hours of darkness. But it is abundantly evident, that all his other sufferings were expiatory:1. Because the scripture no where restricts his expiation to the three hours, in which the sun was darkened, but refers it, in general to his sufferings, without any limitation.* They even extend it to his whole humiliation.t 2. Because the agonies which he endured in the garden, and which are expressed by the words grief, sorrow, agony, heaviness, amazement, and being exceeding sorrowful even unto death, on account of the tremendous weight of divine wrath and malediction, were the chief sufferings which Christ had to endure in his soul for us. 3. This opinion, which we oppose, wrests from many pious Christians one great means of consolation. In the sufferings of Christ's whole life, as expiatory, they find rest to their souls. This idle imagination of Cargius and Piscator, would snatch from Christians all this solace, and deprive them of innumerable evidences of the divine love.
The objection which is brought against this reasoning from Jer. iii. 9. “ I will remove the iniquity of that land in
* Isa. liii. 4, 5. 1 Pet. ii. 21. & üi. 18. Matt. xvi. 21. Heb. v.7. & X. 8, 9. + Phil. č. 6, 7.