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What is that expiation which Christ makes for our sins ?
It is a deliverance from the guilt of our sins, and from the penalties, both temporal and eternal, which follow them; and also from the sins themselves, that we no longer serve them.
How does Jesus make expiation for our sins in heaven?
First, He does this while he delivers us from the guilt and punishment of our sins by the efficacy of his death, which, by the will of God, he endured for our sins. For so costly an offering, and such obedience as that of Christ, have continual power in the presence of God to keep us who believe in Christ, and are partakers of his death, from the guilt and the punishment of our sins, that we may not live in wickedness. Secondly, he makes expiation for our sins, while .by the full and absolute authority which he has obtained of the Father he continually protects us, and by his intercession averts from us the wrath of God, that is wont to be poured out on the wicked, which the Scripture calls “making intercession for us.” Thirdly, he delivers us from the servitude of our sins, partly while he emancipates us for himself by the death he endured for us, and binds us to obedience to his doctrine; partly while he sets before us in his own person an example of the highest faith in God, and of the most ardent charity towards other men, of gentleness also, and exemplary patience; and at the same time shows what he will obtain who submits himself entirely to the will of God, and thus incites us to imi
tate him by the happiness of his glorious state;—and partly, while as the supreme overseer of holy things he directs the worship of God on earth, appoints various ministers for the performance of it, and by the assistance of his spirit renders efficacious their labours in propagating religion and extirpating sin. • What is the difference between the expiation of sins under the Old, and that under the New Covenant ?
The expiation of sins under the New Covenant is most widely different from that under the Old, and is far more excellent ;—and this principally for three reasons. First, because under the Old Covenant expiation was appointed by the legal sacrifices for those sins alone which were committed through ignorance or infirmity; whence also those sins are called infirmities and ignorances, Numbers xv. 24, 25, &c. But for heavier sins, which were committed by any one with an outstretched arm, and a contempt of the commandments of God, no sacrifices were appointed, but the penalty of death was denounced against them. And if God forgave any one such sins, he did it not in virtue of the Covenant, but through his especial mercy,which he displayed beyond the Covenant when and to whomsoever he saw fit. But under the New Covenant, not only are those sins expiated which are committed through ignorance and infirmity, but also the heaviest sins,-provided only that he who has .committed them do not persevere in them, but repent with sincere contrition, change his life for the better, and do not any more relapse into such sins. Secondly, because under the Old Cove
nant the expiation of sin was effected in such a manner that temporal penalties alone were taken away from those whose sins were expiated : for by carnal sacrifices, only carnal punishment was removed. But under the New Covenant, the expiation is such that it removes not only temporal but also eternal penalties; and instead of punishment, offers eternal life, promised in the Covenant, to those whose sins have been expiated. Thirdly, because those sacrifices did not reach the mind, and had not power to withdraw sinners from their sins; and it was necessary to repeat them often in consequence of men’s relapsing into the same offences : but the sacrifice and offering of Christ penetrates the mind, and has the power of sanctifying men for ever to God.-Concerning this matter the author of the epistle to the Hebrews speaks in more than one place, and particularly chap. x. 1-4, 11, and 14.
How do you prove the first two reasons ?
That the sins which could not be expiated under the Old Covenant inay all of them be expiated under the New, the apostle Paul testifies, Acts xjii. 38, 39, where he says, “ Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins, and by him all that believe are justified from all things from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.” The same thing may be seen, Rom, iii. 25. And that, sins are expiated under the New Covenant in such a manner as that eternal punishment is taken away, and eternal life bestowed, appears from Heb.; ix. 12, where the author says that Christ " by his,
own blood entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” And it is said (ver. 15), that “for this cause he is the Mediator of the New Testament, that by means of death for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first Testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.” .
Why is this sacrifice of Christ offered in heaven?
Because it required a tabernacle suitable both to the priest and the offering. Now as the priest himself was immortal, and as that also which he offered, namely, his body, was rendered incorruptible, it was necessary that he should enter into an eternal tabernacle. And since heaven, in which God himself dwells, is such a tabernacle, it was necessary that he should enter into heaven, in order there to execute his priestly office,-ås the author of the epistle to the Hebrews expressly testifies, (Heb. vii. 26,) when he says, “ Such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens.” And he adds below (chap. viii. 4), “ for if he were on earth he should not be a priest,” · What--was he not a priest before he ascended into heaven, and particularly while he hung on the cross?
Christ was indeed a priest, even while he lived on earth, and when he hung upon the cross. For, as I have lately said, he presented prayers and supplications to God for himself and for us, sanctified himself as an offering to God, and had the right of entering the holy place in heaven: and if he inakes us kings and
priests priests unto God, even while we are in this mortal life, how much more might he himself be said to have been a king and priest? As however the priestly office of Christ consisted chiefly in the offering of his body, and his appearance in the presence of God, it was necessary that both these should be done in heaven as a suitable sanctuary ;-and on this account his body was endued with immortality, that living for ever he might make intercession for us. Hence the writer to the Hebrews (chap. viii. ver. 4) does not hesitate to declare, that if he were on earth he should not be a priest, because there are on earth others who offer gifts according to the law. Besides, as the same author testifies (chap. ii. ver. 17), “ that in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people,”—it is evident that as long as he was not like unto his brethren in all things, that is, in afAlictions and death, it was necessary that he should be perfected by means of these. And, on this account, the sufferings and death of Christ were not themselves that full and perfect expiatory sacrifice of which I speak, but a certain way and preparation for the of. fering of it, or a certain commencement of it. For the sacrifice could not be completed until the priest had himself been made perfect. Wherefore the writer to the Hebrews says (chap. v. ver. 9, 10), that after “being made perfect,” “ he was called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.” “ For the law," he states (chap. vii. ver. 28),