« AnteriorContinuar »
whole affair, notwithstanding all this great display, in which God is represented as suffering to appease his own wrath.
But, after all, where is the wisdom in all this contrivance, which Deity must know would fail, if it does fail? Where is the safeguard against the abuse of the power to sin, which has once been abused? Where is the wisdom of that economy which puts into the hands of man a weapon which has been used, and may again be used for his own destruction? Has God no will about this affair? or does he care so little about his offspring, that any possible event is equal to his feelings, equally subservient to his declarative glory? Would a wise earthly parent act thus carelessly in regard to the children of his body? Certainly not.
No principle is more certain, than that the love of the creature is drawn to the Creator by the manifestation of his paternal regard to us. But in what part of this system is he represented to us as either wise or benevolent? Is wisdom implied, in bestowing on man a continuation of power which has already been abused? Did he, or did he not, foresee the consequences of this act? If the plan exhibits neither wisdom nor goodness, where is our reason for reverence or regard? No possible evidence is given, on this system, that he is worthy our veneration, or our gratitude, and hence its immoral tendency is seen in bold relief.
But granting for a moment, that God hoped, or expected, a very different result, then he is disappointed, and who knows he will not be always disappointed? If he improves by experience, then is he imperfect, and not allwise. If his understanding is but finite, where shall we trust better than in our own wisdom?
The Scriptures, however, represent him as infinite in power, knowledge, and goodness; as loving his creatures, and devising their happiness; as wILLING the salvation of all, with the ability to accomplish it
as having a determinate counsel which shall stand; as having made known the good pleasure of his will, which shall be fulfilled. This represents him as the Father, guardian, and benefactor of the human race, and our never ceasing friend. Whether these characteristics deserve our obedience, our veneration, our gratitude-judge ye.
Having now, as we believe, fairly exhibited and refuted the more common notions entertained of the atonement, we purpose to present the reader a Scriptural and rational view of the subject, extracted from a Treatise on Atonement, by Rev. Hosea Ballou, now of Boston.
The personage of the Mediator who makes the Atonement, and his ability for performing the work.
We have already stated some of the absurdities contained in the opinions of most christians, respecting the Mediator: We shall now be a little more particular on the subject.
We shall contend, that the Mediator is a created, dependant being. That he is a created being, is proved from Rev. 3: 14, where he is said to be "the beginning of the creation of God." His dependency is proved, by his frequent prayers to the Father. That he acknowledged a superior, when on earth, is evident, from many passages which might be quoted.See St. John 5:19. Christ here "The Son can says, do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do." He acknowledged a superior in knowledge, see Matthew 24: 36. "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only." This passage implies, that he did not
know of that day himself. St. Mark is still more explicit, see 13: 32. "But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father." And further, that he acknowledged a superior, even in his risen glory, may be proved from his own words to his servant John, on the Isle of Patmos, see Rev. 3: 12. "Him that overcometh, will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out; and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is New Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God, and I will write upon him my new name. Four times, in the above passage, he acknowledges a being whom he worships. Again, see Psalm 45: 7. "Thou lovest righteousness and hatest wickedness, because God, thy God hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows." The reader will observe, we have ventured to put the word because, in room of the word therefore, in this quotation; but we have not done it, without the authority of a former translation. The difference is so essential, we cannot dispense with it. Observe, the writer of the Psalm addresses one God, and speaks, in his address, of another, see 6: "Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever." This God is dependent on another, expressed in the 7th: Because, God, thy God hath anointed thee, &c. That the names, God, Lord, and everlasting Father, are applied to Christ, we shall not dispute; neither shall we dispute the propriety of it; but we do not admit, that they mean the self-existent Jehovah, when applied to the Mediator. In the quotation from the Psalm, Christ is said to be anointed above his fellows. Fellows are equals. Who are Christ's equals? Perhaps the reader may say, they are the Father and the Holy Spirit; but we can hardly believe, that Christ was anointed with the oil of gladness above his Father,
neither do we believe any one will contend for it.We are sensible, that God speaks, by the prophet, of smiting the man who is his fellow; but this fellowship must be different from the one just spoken of, and stands only in an official sense. The reader will then ask, if we would consider the Mediator no more than equal with men? We answer, yes, were it not, that our Father and his Father, our God and his God, hath anointed him above his fellows. See Philippians 2: 9. "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name. For this exaltation and name, he was dependent on his Father, and received them from him. This name, which is above every name, is the name of God, named on Jesus. It will be said, Christ taught the people, that he and his Father were one. I grant he did, and if that prove him to be essentially God, the argument must run farther than the objector would wish to have it. See St. John 17:11. Christ prays that his disciples may be one, even as he and the Father are one. The oneness of the Father and Son, is their union and agreement in the great work which he has undertaken; and he prayed that his disciples might be as well agreed in the gospel of salvation, as he and his Father were, see 18. "As thou hast sent me into the world, so have I also sent them into the world." The Father of all mercies sent his Son Jesus into the world, for a certain purpose; and there was a perfect agreement between them, in all things. He says, he came not to do his own will, but the will of him who sent him. And again, My meat and drink, is to do the will of him who sent me, and to finish his work.
The President of the United States sends a minister to negotiate a peace at a foreign court; this minister must conduct according to the authority which he derives from him, by whom he is sent; and as far
as he does, he is, in his official character, the power that sent him. It is evident, Christ received the power which he exercises in the work which he hath undertaken, and that his kingdom was given to him, which goes to prove, he did not eternally possess them; see Dan. 7: 14, "And there was given him dominion and glory, and a kingdom." According to the prophecy here quoted, the dominion, glory and kingdom of Christ, were given him. The people whom he is to rule are given him, see Psalm 2: 8. "Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession." St. Matthew 28: 18. Jesus saith, "All power is given unto me in heaven and earth." 11: 27. "All things are delivered unto me of my Father." These and many more passages are found in sacred writ, in support of the dependence of the Mediator on the Supreme Eternal, and that he derives his power and glory from him. But if Christ be essentially God, all those scriptures seem without just signification.
Christ is said to be the "image of the invisible God, the first born of every creature." His being the first born of every creature, agrees with his being the beginning of the creation of God. It is plain to us, from scripture, that the Mediator is the first human soul which was created, as Adam was the first man that was formed; and that he is, in spirit, the Father of every human creature, as much as Adam is in the flesh. Therefore, Christ saith, as it is written, "Behold I and the children that thou hast given me."
It is written, that man was created in the image of God; and, by the light of the gospel, St. Paul ventured to assert, that Christ was this image. The reader will do well to observe, that the image of a person, and the person, are not essentially one, but