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as God is just; and this the rather, because when God gives blessings to the righteous, he does it of his own bounty, out of mere liberality bestowing on the creature what it cannot claim by merit; but when he punishes the sinner, he renders to him precisely what he has merited by his sins.
3. The sanction of the law, which threatens death to the sinner. (Deut. xxvii. 29. Gen. ii. 17. Ez. xviii. 20. Rom. i. 18, 32. and vii. 23). Since God is true and cannot lie, these threatenings must necessarily be executed either upon the sinner, or upon some one in his stead. In vain do our opponents reply, that the threatening is hypothetical, not absolute, and may be relaxed by repentance. This is a gratuitous supposition. That such a condition is either expressed or understood neither has been, nor can be proved. Nay, as the penal sanction of the law is a part of the law itself, which is natural and indispensable, this sanction must also be immutable. With the judicial threatenings of the law, we must not confound particular and economical comminations, or such as are paternal and evangelical, which are denounced against men to recal them to repentance. Such threatenings may be recalled in case of penitence. Of this kind were those denounced against Hezekiah (Isaiah xxxviii.) and against Nineveh, (Jon. iii.)
4. The preaching the gospel forms another topic of argumentation, from which we may prove the necessity of the death of Christ. It announces the violent and painful death of the Mediator and surety, on the cross, and confirms it with the greatest cogency, by the narration of the circumstances of that event. Wherefore, we cannot believe that God should multiply sufferings unnecessarily. His goodness and wisdom do not permit us to harbour an idea, that the Father could expose his most innocent, and supremely beloved Son, to a death most 'excruciating and ignominious without a necessity, which admits of no relaxation. The only necessity which can be possibly imagined here, is that of making an atonement to the divine justice, for our sins. Every one must perceive that it was absolutely necessary. I know that
our opponents affect to produce various other weighty and important reasons, for the accursed death of the cross, such as the confirmation of Christ's doctrine, and to set examples of all kinds of virtue, especially of charity and constancy! But since Christ had confirmed his doctrines by numerous stupendous miracles, and through his life had given the most illustrious examples of every human virtue, who could believe that God, for that one cause alone, would expose his only begotten Son to torments so multiplied and excruciating? Therefore without all doubt, there were other causes for that dispensation; a regard for the honor of his justice, and the interests of the divine government. To this the Holy Spirit bears witness by the apostle Paul, (Rom. iii. 5.) who affirms that “God hath set forth Christ to be a propi. tiation for our sins,-- brduiğer the disclosun ávr8, to declare his righteousness," which was inexorable, and did not suffer our sins to be pardoned on any other terms, than by the intervention of the death of Christ.
Again, if God was able and willing by his word alone, without any atonement to pardon our sins, why does the apostle Paul so often and emphatically refer our justification and salvation to the blood of Christ? “ We are,” saith he,“ justified by the redemption which is in his blood.” (Rom. iii. 24.) “ We have redemption through his blood; the remissions of sins.” (Eph. i. 7.) “ He hath reconciled all thing's to himself by the blood of Christ.” (Col. 1. 20.) Now there was no need that his blood should be shed if it depended solely upon the divine will. On this supposition, the apostle would rashly and falsely affirm, what he often affirms, that the blood of bulls and of goats, that is the sacri. fices under the law, could not take away sins; and that the oblation of Christ alone could. If there was no need of
any purgation and if penitence alone was sufficient to take away sin, that is the guilt of sin, without any sacrifice, the apostle's assertion is groundless. What could be taken away without any sacrifice at all, could surely be removed by legal sacrifices. If the divine will alone is necessary, why is it that Paul never refers to it, but always ascends to the na
ture of things, as when he asserts that is was impossible for the blood of bulls to take away sins? Surely it must be because sin is so hateful to God, that its filth can be washed away by nothing less than the blood of the Son of God.
5. If there was no necessity that Christ should die, the greatness of God's love in not sparing his own Son, but delivering him up for us all, which the apostle commends, will be not a little diminished. If there was no obstacle on the part of justice, in the way of our salvation, it would indeed have been great grace in God to have forgiven our sins. But it would have fallen far short of that stupendous love which, though justice inexorable stood in the way, removed, by means found in the treasures of infinite wisdom, all impediments to our redemption, displaying a most amiable harmony between justice and mercy. Nor Christ be said to have appeased the wrath of God, if he. without demanding any satisfaction, could by a volition, without any other means, have laid aside his own wrath.
Finally, our opinion relative to the necessity of an atonement does not, in the least, derogate from any of the divine perfections. Not from God's absolute power, because he can neither deny himself nor any of his attributes, nor can he act in such a way as to give the appearance of delighting in sin, by holding communion with the sinner.-Not from the freedom of his will, because he can will nothing contrary to his justice and holiness, which would be injured should sin go unpunished.-Not from his boundless mercy, for this is exercised towards the sinner, though punishment is inflicted on the Surety. On the contrary it makes a glorious display of the most illustrious of the divine perfections-of his holiness on account of which he can have no communion with the singer, until by an atonement, his guilt is removed, and his pollution purged of his justice, which inexorably demands punishment of sin--of his infallible wisdom and boundless goodness.
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 Socinians 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 sin-a 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 Socious* 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 re. deemed 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. “+Ye 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.” “SChrist gave himself for us, that he might redeem (purchase) us from all iniquity,” “In whom we have redemption through his blood.” “ The Son of man came that he might lay down his life a ransom for many"-dúr or arti modão, i.e. a price of payment
many, or in the room of many. The name Je
Chap 9. Book I. de Servatore, Chap. 5, 6. #1 Pet. i. 19,
S Tit. ii. 14.
+ 1 Cor. vi. 20.