Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

can be added to it, and especially by feeble man. For though Christ's human nature, which was the instrument in the obedience and sufferings, was finite, yet this does not lessen the value of the satisfaction, because it derives its perfection from the divine person of Christ, to which all his actions must be attributed; as he is the person who obeyed, and suffered.

The perfection of the atonement is also established, from the oneness of Christ's offering. Why does the apostle Paul assert, that Christ has once offered himself for us, and that by one offering of himself he hath for ever perfected them that are sanctified? Why does he always set before us the obedience of Christ alone as the ground of our justification, unless this obedience is full and complete? As a repetition of the same offering argues its imperfection, so on the other hand, an offering's having been but once made, necessarily imports its plenitude, and the full accomplishment of its object.

Our view of the atonement is confirmed by the approbation which it obtained from God as judge. If God declares that he is perfectly satisfied, let no one dare to say that the satisfaction is imperfect. The question is whether the supreme judge, who demands the satisfaction, approves of and receives it as altogether sufficient. That the atonement has been approved and accepted by God, is established, not only from the appointment of Christ to the mediatory office, of whom in the mediatory character, the Father often declares that he is his beloved Son, in whom he is well pleased; but especially by his resurrection from the dead, which is irresistible evidence both of his divinity, and of the perfection of the atonement.t Unless Christ had satisfied to the utter. most farthing, can we believe that God the judge, whose inexorable justice demands full payment, would have freed him, and have exalted him to that supreme glory, which at the Father's right hand, he hath obtained as a reward of his sufferings. Would the creditor free the surety from prison

" Heb. vii. 9. and 10.

Rom. i. 4.

# Phil. ü. 9.

before he had paid the full debt? Could Christ, when he had undertaken to pay to divine justice the debts which man owed, be set free, until he had to the full redeemed the debt? Seeing then that Christ has gloriously arisen by his own power, and by the power of the Father, there is no room left for doubt respecting the perfection of the satisfaction, the full payment of the price of redemption; of the full discharge of which, the Father has given us such indubitable testimony. The effects which are produced by the atonement prove its entire sufficiency. Why are our reconciliation with God, the appeasing of his wrath, the expiation and pardon of sin; and all these not partial but full and complete also our redemption and glorification, all attributed to the death and obedience of Christ,* unless his atonement was full and complete? A perfect effect requires a perfect cause to produce it.

In vain do our opponents contend, "that by pleading for satisfactions to be made by the Saints, they do not derogate from the infinity of Christ, nor from his satisfaction; since they make all their virtue and efficacy to depend upon the atonement of Christ, who not only has satisfied for also gives us the power to satisfy for ourselves--and since they do not esteem our good works, as atonements to be as. sociated with that of Christ, and as of the same exalted nature, but inferior and subordinate.” They assume what they ought to prove. We do not grant that Christ gives us any power to atone for ourselves. Such a supposition receives no countenance from scripture, and is contrary to the very nature of Christ's atonement. It is one thing to make satisfaction, another to give the power to make satisfaction. They are indeed, utterly inconsistent with each other. If Chris has made a complete satisfaction, why is any other demanded? Where the primary cause is solitary, no co-operative, or subordinate causes are admissible. So far is this doctrine of our opponents from advancing the glory of Christ, that it

us, but

* See Col. i. 20. 2 Cor. v, 21. 1 Joh. i. 7. Rom. iii. 24. and v. 10. Heb. i. 3. and ix. 14. and a. 14.

in reality, by resorting to other grounds of salvation than those afforded by him, offers an indignity to him and his atonement. What he, as our Redeemer, has engaged to accomplish, they pretend to effect, at least in part, by other agents. And though in the application of this redemption, men are bound to contribute by their efforts, as fellow-work. ers with God, yet they are unable to co-operate with him in its acquisition.

Equally futile is their reasoning, when they resort to the distinction between sin and punishment when they contend, that though Christ has satisfied for our sin, he has not fully satisfied for our punishment, or if for eternal punishment, at least not for temporal, which must be suffered by the Saints themselves, either in the present, or in a future state. Because the remission of sin on account of the satisfaction made by Christ is perfectly complete; "there is no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus;" and in consequence of his atonement, their justification is perfect, and in due time they shall obtain full glorification.* This distinction between satisfying for sin, and its punishment, is absurd, for in the providence of God, there is a necessary connection between sin and suffering. Sin is the cause and suffering the effect; take away the cause, and the effect is necessarily destroyed. Remission of sin is nothing else but a deliverance from all punishinent, and obligation to punish. ment, which cannot be justly inflicted where there is no transgression. Would it be just to demand the payment of a debt already, either paid, or remitted?

They also assert, “that Christ in a limited sense, makes satisfaction for temporal punishment, in us, and by us." 1. This assertion is rash, having no countenance from scripture. 2. It is dangerous, associating men with Christ in making satisfaction, and thus taking a part of the work of redemption out of his hands; for redemption, and satisfaction are words of similar import, there being no other way to redeem, but by rendering satisfaction. 3. It is false and

Rom, viji. 9.

contrary to scripture, which asserts, that Christ by himself, hath satisfied once for sin, and that there is no farther satisfaction to be made by others.

The view which we have given of the perfection of the atonement, and the arguments, by which we have supported it, prostrate the Arminian doctrine of nominal atonement. When a full payment is made, there is no room for the exercise of grace in accepting what was no more than nominal. Io making payments grace is not considered, nor merely the dignity of him who pays, but also the value of the thing given, or its equality to the debt. This is confirmed from Rom. viii. 3. where Christ is said to have been sent, that all righteousness might be fulfilled.

Christ fulfilled all righteousness, or satisfied all the demands of the law, by doing what we ourselves were not able to do, on account of the weakness of the law. Now, if by the satisfaction of Christ, the demands of the law are fulfilled in us, this satisfaction must equal the claims of the law.

An imperfect atonement graciously accepted, we cannot admit, for Christ took all the punishment upon himself* . which was due to us, even that which was the most griev. ous, the curse of the law itself. Finally, if God might have, accepted of any imperfect satisfaction, it was unnecessary that Christ should stand as our surety, and be exposed to extreme tortures, and a most painful death; for satisfaction could have been received from any

other man. We shall now proceed to remove objections. An objection is drawn from those expressions of scripture, where the apostles are said to suffer for the church. But it is one thing to suffer for the church, in order to purchase her, by paying a price of redemption, and another to suffer persecution and death for the purpose of consoling, comforting, and confirming the people of God, by placing before them an example of patience and obedience. Paul says that he suffers for the church, or for the body of Christ, not in the first

| Gal. iii. 13.

* Isa. liji. 6, 7, 8.

Col. i. 24.

sense, for he elsewhere denies that any one except Christ alone, is crucified for us;* he suffered for the church in the second sense, as he himself teaches us, 2 Cor. v. 6.“ • for your

consolation.” In 2 Tim. ii. 10. he says that he endures all things for the elect's sake, pot to redeem them from temporal punishment, but that confirmed, and animated by his example, they might obtain salvation by Christ. The remark made by Thomast on this subject, is a correct one. The sufferings of the saints are profitable to the church, not as a price of redemption, but as affording it example, and exhortation not to depart from the truth."

Paul says,t" that he fills up that which is behind of the sufferings of Christ.” But the sufferings of the saints are not the sufferings endured by Christ in his own person; but the sufferings of Christ mystical, or of his body, the church; sufferings, which are to be endured by every Christian, after the manner of Christ, whose members they are. Paul, as well as all other saints, had to take up his cross and follow Christ, and endure that share of tribulation which God al. lotted him, while he was entering upon the kingdom of heaven. In filling up this measure of tribulation, the apostle bears his cross with alacrity. Christ is often thus by a figure put for his body, the church; “ Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me."The sufferings of the saints are often called the sufferings of Christ;|| “ For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us.They are called so in relation to their origin, because Christ, as supreme director of the theatre of life, appoints them to us, and calls upon us to suffer them;s in relation to their object, for they are laid upon us on account of Christ and his gospel;—also on account of our union and communion with Christ, for we are one with him. Hence our blessings and sufferings are in some sense common to us and Christ. “ In all their afflictions he was afflict. ed.We are called to participate in his sufferings, that we

* 1 Cor. i. 13.

Col. i. 24. N 2 Cor. i. 5.

3. Quest. 48. Art. 5. $ Acts ix. 4o and 1 Cor. xii. 12. 1 Acts ix. 16. 1 Pet. ii. 25. Phil. i. 29.

« AnteriorContinuar »