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which He represents Himself as deliberately and of set purpose laying down His life as a ransom for many. The remarkable emphasis placed by our Lord upon His death, in His conversation with Nicodemus, together with the great results which He ascribes to it; His description of Himself when uplifted as attracting the human race; His discourse in the synagogue of Capernaum, where He represented His death as necessary to the eternal life of mankind-upon all these passages the remarks of Mr. Dale are forceful and conclusive.
In this lecture there is also a powerful argument based upon the silence of our Lord in relation to the deeply-rooted conviction of the Jewish people that sacrifice and remission were directly related to each other. That this conviction was right is clear from the Epistle to the Hebrews. We give the substance of Mr. Dale’s remarks: If these ideas were false how was it that our Lord did not protest against them ? More than once He came into collision with the faith and customs of the nation, On questions connected with ceremonial purification and Sabbath observance our Saviour excited bitter hostility by refusing to conform to prevalent errors. Those who deny that remission of sins is granted on the ground of an objective sacrifice for sins maintain that such a theory rests on false ideas of the Divine justice, obscures the glory of the Divine mercy, and exerts a most pernicious influence upon religious thought and life. But this theory penetrated the whole substance of Jewish thought. The question may therefore well be asked, “Why was our Lord silent concerning an error so disastrous ?” The Lecturer observes that this is no ordinary silence, and must be accounted for. At the very commencement of His ministry Christ received without a protest the testimony of John the Baptist, “Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world.” His silence was a definite acceptance of the testimony; it was an acknowledgment that He had come to fulfil the idea of the sin-offering of the Jewish law, and to secure for men the remission of their sins.
“ The results of this investigation of our Lord's testimony concerning His death are these :
"I.—His death was neither the incidental nor the inevitable consequence of His collision with the passions and prejudices of the Jewish people.
"II.-The laying down of His life was a voluntary act.
“III.—To lay down His life was one of the ends for which He came into the world.
"IV.-His death is immediately related to the deliverance from condemnation of those who believe in Him, to the remission of sins, and to the establishment of His sovereignty over the human race.
“V.—He accepted the testimony of John the Baptist that He was 'the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world,' and He associated His death with the sacrifice of the Passover lamb on the night of the exodus.
“VI.—He described His death as a death for others; and more specifically, He said that He gave His life a ransom for others.”
Our limits forbid us to do more than refer our readers to the masterly reply given to Dr. Jowett, when the latter reproaches evangelical theologians with exalting the disciple above his master and the servant above his lord. It is triumphant.
Socinians and others are fond of asserting that this doctrine is Pauline, or at all events gathered altogether from the Epistles. “Not Paul, but Jesus” is their cry. Let them ponder the words of one of the foremost men of the day :
“Let the Gospels stand alone, let the testimony of the Epistles be completely suppressed, and the strong foundations of that conception of the death of Christ which has been the refuge of penitents and the joy of saints for eighteen hundred years will remain unshaken. The words of Christ, and the words of Christ alone, are a sufficient vindication of the ancient faith of the Church.”
Into Mr. Dale's workmanly examination of the Epistles we cannot enter. Apostolic authority weighs but little with the majority of those who reject the expiatory view of the Atonement. This truth is so clearly expressed in the writings of the Apostles that Apostolic authority must be impeached. The Lecturer clearly proves how impossible it is to reject the teaching of the Apostles without reflecting upon the ability, if not the authority, of the Great Master Himself. The Rev. James Martineau affirms that this doctrine is " an outrage upon the first principles of rectitude and betrays a reckless disregard of all moral considerations, from the thought of which it is a matter of just astonishment that all good men do not recoil.” Yet the men whose writings contain this gigantic and hideous error were commissioned by Christ Himself to proclaim the mercy of God in the forgiveness of sins! This entered therefore into the very substance of their commission. It is useless to distinguish between the teaching of Apostles and that of the Master upon a question so grave. We cannot conceive of men of the most ordinary capacity so totally misapprehending the views of Christ as to proclaim as a truth received from Him an idea that ascribes to God a gross and systematic violation of the principles of eternal righteousness. Neither can we believe that He Who “knew what was in man” would entrust the proclamation of His truth to men who could fall into error so fearful. Such is Mr. Dale's reply to the reckless charge of an opponent; and by this he solves all questions of Apostolic authority in relation to this theme. That the death of Christ is the immediate ground upon which God grants to the penitent remission of sins is triumphantly proved by an elaborate and conclusive examination of the Apostolic writings.
The idea of an objective Atonement is frequently referred to as the creation of dogmatic theology. The sixth lecture of Mr. Dale's work contains an answer to this assertion. Various theories have been held by the Church, some grotesque, some positively repulsive. One system of theology after another has been broken up by the inability of those who framed it to explain this doctrine; but the idea itself has interpenetrated every system and outlived all. Divided on so many questions, the great body of the Church has with almost unbroken unanimity received the truth that Christ's sufferings came upon Him because of our sin, and that we are delivered from the penalties of sin on the ground of His sufferings. There is positively nothing in the outward circumstances of the death of our Lord to suggest the idea that it was a propitiation for the sins of men; and that this has been proclaimed from age to age can only be explained by the supposition that the Church received it from the Apostles, and that they received it from Christ.
Mr. Dale's discussion of the “ theory of the Atonement” is delayed by what he terms a grave and startling difficulty : “Is the remission of sins possible ?"
Among those who deny that the death of Christ is a propitiation for sin, there is a tendency either to deny that the remission of sins is possible, or to depreciate its importance. The theory of Dr. Young, the author of “The Life and Light of Men," sweeps away all future penalty for wrongdoing. He alleges “ that whenever spiritual laws are violated they avenge themselves; and exact and continue without fail to exact, so long as the evil remains, the amount of penalty-visible and invisible-to the veriest jot and tittle, which the deed of violation deserves." On this principle the remission of sins is impossible. Mr. Dale shows the falsity of this theory of the moral Universe, by confronting Dr. Young with the actual facts of human life, and the teaching of our Lord and His Apostles on the solemnities of Judgment to come, and by pointing out the vital distinction between the laws of nature and those of ethics: the latter not being "selfacting.” The exigencies of some upholders of the mere moral theory of the Atonement have led them to impose upon the phrase "the remission of sins” a sense foreign to all the usages of language. Dr. Bushnell, for instance, confounds it with the restoration of fallen character: and not content with this refers to it a mere formality or verbal discharge from blame, that carries practically no discharge at all.” We thoroughly agree with Mr. Dale when he says that “it is no wonder that men should deny the awful reality of the propitiation, when the remission of sins is declared to be a mere formality . . . . for this, it would not have been worth while for Christ to die."
The protest which the Lecturer makes against this sentimental theory is of great power and eloquence. He contends for the existence of wrath in God, and maintains His hostility to the sinner so far as he is identified with his sin. The argument is based upon the facts of the human constitution, and the distinct and emphatic testimony of the Scriptures. Upon the question of suppressing testimony concerning the fearful penalties
which menace the sinner, Mr. Dale's words are worthy of being pondered by every preacher :
“We are under the most solemn obligation to receive ourselves, and to make known to others, whatever God has revealed concerning the condition and destiny of our
To refuse to consider the terrible penalties which menace those who have not received the remission of sins, will lessen the urgency of our solicitude for their eternal redemption ; and if we fail to warn them that while they persist in their impenitence and unbelief, they are exposed to‘indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish,' we cannot clear ourselves of responsibility for their eternal perdition."
“ Can we discover why it is that the remission of sins is granted to men on the ground of the death of Christ ?” Such is the question proposed by Mr. Dale. To this both he and the author of “ Wby the Cross of Christ ?” attempt a reply. The history of all systems of theology in which an endeavour has been made to elaborate a theory of the Atonement proves the difficulty of the task; one after another has suffered shipwreck here. No philosophy of the Atonement has been revealed. Mr. Dale does not strain after novelties, though he is thoroughly independent and to some extent original in his treatment of this part of his subject. Substantially his theory is what has been termed the “Governmental,” and is developed in two lectures, in one of which he considers "The Relation of our Lord Jesus Christ to the Eternal Law of Righteousness," and in the other, His “Relation to the Human Race." These are lectures of the greatest value. In considering our Saviour's relation to law, the “idea of punishment” is investigated, and various modern theories, which are sapping all faith in the existence of retribution, are exposed in all their weakness. Mr. Dale contends that:
“The only conception of punishment which satisfies our strongest and most definite moral convictions, and which corresponds to the place it occupies, both in the organization of society and in the moral order of the universe, is that which represents it as pain and loss inflicted for the violation of a law.”
In considering the relation of Christ to the Race, Mr. Dale enters almost untrodden ground. The space at our disposal does not permit us to follow him. Here it is shown that the original and ideal relation of our Lord to the human race, in itself constitutes a reason why He should become a sacrifice and propitiation for our sins. The race was created "in Him;" "for Him;" " by Him." He was, therefore, perfectly qualified to represent us in the economy of Redemption. His life was in us; our life was in Him. He was, so to speak, the other self of the
Perhaps we shall do Mr. Dale the greatest justice by stating in his own language his conception of the relation of the Death of Christ to “the remission of sins.” “The Death of Christ is the objective ground on which the sins of men are remitted :
“1.-Because it was an act of submission to the righteous authority
of the Law, by which the human race was condemned—a submission by One from whom, on various grounds, the act of submission derived transcendent moral significance; and because in consequence of the relation between Him and us, . . . . His submission is the expression of ours, and carries ours with it. ...
"II.-, . . Because it rendered possible the retention or the recovery of our original and ideal relation to God through Christ . . . the loss of which was the supreme penalty of transgression.
“III.-, . . Because it involved the actual destruction of sin in all those who through faith recover their union with Him.
“IV.—The death of Christ is the objective ground on which the sins of men are remitted, because in His submission to the awful penalty of sin, in order to preserve or to restore our relations to the Father through Him, there was a revelation of the righteousness of God, which must otherwise have been accomplished in the infliction of the penalties of sin on the human race. He endured the penalty instead of inflicting it.”
The complaint has been made by a critic that Mr. Dale assumes that the righteousness of God could not be asserted without the actual infliction of penalties; and the question is asked: “If the sinner repents, is not his repentance a truer and better recognition of God's righteous law than the endurance of any penalties could be, whether borne by Christ or the sinner himself ?” This objection we think unreasonable. What Mr. Dale has assumed is, that the principle underlying the penalty of transgression, namely, that sin deserves to be punished, must have expression given to it in some form ; and we fail to see how in the repentance of a sinner this great principle is asserted. In such a case, “ the creature has dishonoured the Law by sin, and the Creator would complete the dishonour by ignoring the ill-desert of sin.”
Mr. Mercer affirms that this is “the most flimsy of all objective theories." Well, what does he propose to substitute for it? His theory he tells us reconciles objective and subjective views of the Atonement, What is it? We will give it in his own language :
"The suffering which expiates man's sin, and reconciles God to him, is the suffering that wins him back to God : it is the suffering which falls upon God, upon Christ, upon the Spirit, in the great effort which God is, and all along through all ages since the Fall has been making, to win sinners back to holiness."
He believes that, “ The pain, the sacrifice has been an eternal fact, not a momentary affair on Calvary.” He does not believe that the expiatory work of Christ was finished when his death took place. He holds (p. 113) “That the living labour, with the pain attending it, of mere man," may be included amongst the great sum of sacrifice that has expiatory value.” Can we wonder that the writer should make this acknowledgment: “We own that there are a number of texts which appear to tell against our doctrine"? Yes, every text we can remember that has any bearing on