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the sprinkling of the blood of victims, which was done towards this covering.b 3dly, Because, in consequence, he there exhibited himself to his people, propitious and reconciled, and sitting on the throne of grace, which was between the cherubim.
Now the Apostle, with great propriety, applies the name of the figure and shadow to the substance, and calls Christ “ the mercy-seat;" for, 1st, It is he that covers our sins with his own perfect righteousness, that they may never come into God's sight. He interposes himself as the medium between God and us; as the covering of the ark was a medium between the law laid up in it, and the majesty of God dwelling between the cherubim. 2dly, It is he that, by the sprinkling of his own blood, which Paul calls “the blood of sprinkling,"c made full expiation to God for us.d 3dly, It is he, finally, in whom God hath erected a throne of grace, to which we are commanded to come, and in whom we receive gracious answers to our prayers.e
XXI. Further, FOR WHOM hath Christ made satisfaction by his sufferings? We do not deny that the sufferings of Christ, considered in themselves, and viewed in connexion with the character of the person that suffered, who, as we have frequently noticed already, is one of infinite dignity, are of so great value that they could suffice for the redemption even of the whole human race, and of many more myriads of mankind, on supposition their numbers were increased to that extent, if it had pleased God, and Christ, that he should become Surety for them all. Nor are we unwilling to admit, that Christ, as man, being subject to the law of charity, had a holy love to all mankind as his neighbours, heartily wished them well, and seriously lamented the ruin of those that perish; whilst yet, as God, he knew them to be reprobate, and, as Mediator, he had not undertaken for them :—the human affection, however, being in subjection to the divine appointment. We do not deny, besides, that, owing to the sufferings and satisfaction of Christ, many good things fall to the share of the reprobate. To the sufferings of Christ they stand indebted for the reformation of the world from its gross idolatry, and monstrous ferocity, by the preaching of the Gospel; also for many valuable though not saving gifts of the Holy Spirit; for their “ esca“ping the pollutions of the world, through the knowledge “ of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ;" and for other similar advantages. They obtain those blessings, too not accidentally, without the intention of God and Christ, but according to the determinate counsel of the Deity and the Saviour. At the same time we maintain, in conformity to holy writ, that, according to the will of God the Father and his own purpose, Christ did not become Surety or make satisfaction, and consequently did not suffer, for any but those whom the Father gave him, and who are actually saved. “I came down “ from heaven,” says Christ, “not to do mine own will, “ but the will of him that sent me.” And this is the Father's will who hath sent me, that of all whom he hath given me I should lose nothing: f
o Lev. xvi. 14.
a Heb. i. 3. ix. 12. VOL. II.
c Heb. xii. 24.
XXII. This doctrine derives support from those passages of Scripture in which the sufferings of Christ are restricted to his “ sheer,” to his “ church,” to his “ people,” and even “ a peculiar people to himself.”g All those passages tend to illustrate the distinguishing love of Christ towards his sheep for whom he laid down his life, towards the church which he purchased for himself with his own blood, and towards his people for whom he gave himself. But if the “ sheep," “ the “church,” “ the people” of Christ have no peculiar interest and privilege in this matter, by which they are distinguished from all other men, is it possible to specify any probable reason why that unbounded love of Christ in laying down his life, shedding his blood, and giving himself, should be ascribed peculiarly to them? This subject, however, we have treated more largely elsewhere.*
f John vi. 38, 39.
XXIII. The compilers of the Creed have thought proper also to make mention of PONTIUS PILATE, as under his government our Lord completed his passion. They have done this, however, not to intimate that those sufferings only were meritorious which befell him after sentence was passed upon him by Pilate; for nothing can be more absurd, nothing more opposite to the whole tenour of the Christian doctrine than that notion. The name of the Roman Governor is mentioned, partly to facilitate the comparing of the epoch of Christ's suffering with the Roman histories, as Luke mentions the enrolling for taxation which took place according to the command of Augustus at the epoch of Christ's birth; partly for other weighty reasons, which are to be explained immediately.
XXIV. It is proper to take notice of three things respecting Pilate. ist, The temper and disposition of
* The Author here refers, without doubt, to his discussion on this point in his Treatise on the Covenants, Book ii. chap. 9. T.
& John x, 15. Ephes. v. 25. Acts xx. 28. Tit. ii. 14.
the man; of which Philo has given a lively description.* He says, that “ he was a man of an inflexible 56 and severe disposition;" and a little after he charges him with “ accepting bribes, with acts of injustice, ra5 pacity, and violence, with oppressions, with frequent “ murders of persons uncondemned, and in fine, with * the most insatiable and savage cruelty.” And truly it required a man of such a temper to resolve, in spite of the remonstrances of his own mind and conscience, to allow himself to act so barbarous a part towards the most innocent person, and the most perfect pattern of every virtue. But he also suffered the punishment due to his crimes; for he was first reprimanded, then deposed by Vitellius the Governor of Syria, and at last sent by him to Rome to plead his cause before Cæsar, and refute the charges preferred against him; and proving unable to do this, “ he was condemned to “ perpetual exile at Vienne" in Gaul, “ and there, by
appointment of Caius, he was subjected to so se6 vere restraints and distresses, that he laid violent
hands on himself, thus seeking in death a speedy re« lease from a train of protracted calamities.” These are the words of Ado, Bishop of the same city, in his Chronicle 10
xxv, 2dly, We must advert to the supreme power which he then possessed in Judea in the name of the Roman Emperor and people, and which Christ himself did not disdain to acknowledge as “ given him from above.”h It was proper that Christ should suffer under such a judge as had authority and power to take cognizance of the cause, and, after judicially examining its
. * In Legalione ad Caium.
1 John xix. 11. 10 Scc Note X.
merits, to pronounce sentence. Ist, That the prophecy might be fulfilled : “ He was taken from prison and “ from judgment.”i 2dly, That we might be fully certified of the innocence of Christ, which, although attacked by the basest arts, was, after a strict investigation of the cause and a regular discussion of the question, firmly recognised, and five times declared by the judge. Now the whole concern of our salvation turns upon this hinge; for what hopes could we entertain from Christ, unless it were manifest that he was condemned, not for his own, but for our crimes ? 3dly, That being himself unjustly condemned by the chief judge in that land, he might deliver us from the righteous judgment of God, to which we were obnoxious. Pilate indeed acted unjustly in condemning, in compliance with the clamours of the people, a person whom himself had acquitted.j But God, to whom the judgment belongeth,k by the mouth of Pilate, rightly and lawfully condemned Christ, as loaded with our crimes, and bound to suffer in our stead, and thus by condemning our Surety, absolved us. “ The chastise“ment of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes “ We are healed."
XXVI. 3dly, It must not be omitted that the power to which the Jews were then subject, was foreign and heathen. In his own name and that of the Roman people, Tiberius the Emperor of the Romans had intrusted Pilate with the government of Judea, and in the same name Vitellius the Governor of Syria dismissed him from his office; from which it appears that Judea was now a Roman province, and annexed to
i Is. liii. 8.
i Luke xxiii. 24.