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Of what consequence are the doctrines of man's apostasy, depravity, and lost state ?
A. They lie at the very foundation of the religion of the Bible. They ought, therefore, to be properly understood, and firmly believed.
Q.1. What is meant by the atonement ?
A. The provision made for the salvation of sinners of the human race by the sufferings and death of Jesus Christ.
Q. 2. In what does this provision consist ?
A. 1. It does not consist in Christ's literally discharging the debt of sin, considering it as in the light of a pecuniary debt, due from man to God; for sin is not to be reckoned as a debt in reality, but as a crime. When spoken of as a debt, it is merely in a figurative sense. Besides, if sin be reckoned as a pecuniary debt, and this debt be discharged, then the sinner has an undoubted right to freedom from the evil of sin, both in the present and future life, and can demand it as a' matter of justice, whether his heart be right with God or not. But this none will pretend. 2. Neither does this provision for man's salvation consist in a literal transfer of man's sins to Christ, nor of His righteousness to man. For if the sins of men are thus transferred to Christ, then He is sinful, and men are free from sin; or if the righteousness of Christ is thus transferred to men, then they are holy, and He is destitute of holiness. But the sinner is as guilty and ill-deserving as though Christ had the curse ; for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.—2 Thess. i. 9. Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and the glory of his power.-Matt. xxv. 4. Then shall he say also unto them on the left händ, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.
not died. Indeed, sin and holiness are personal, and, therefore, not literally transferable. Debts may be transferred, but sins and crimes, in the very nature of things, cannot in reality be transferred. But, 3. This provision for man's salvation does consist in Christ's dying in our stead, and thereby satisfying Divine justice, and making known the righteousness of God, so that He can be just while He grants pardon and salvation to all who believe. (a)
Q. 3. Did Christ endure the same kind and quantity of sufferings, that would have been endured by sinners had He not died for their redemption ?
Certainly not. He was not troubled with inimical feelings to God,
,—was not burdened with a guilty conscience,—was not afflicted with utter and absolute despair. On account of Christ's greatness, dignity, and worth, which take their character from His whole Person, uniting as it does the Divine and human natures, it was not necessary, that He should suffer so great a quantity of evil, as all mankind must
(a) Rom. iii. 25, 26. Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness, that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.-Heb. ii. 10. For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons nnto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. -Isaiah liji. 5. 10, 11. But he was wounded for our transgres. sions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief; when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul and shall be satisfied : by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.-Rom. v. 10. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son; much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.-Philip. ii. 8. And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.--Heb. ii. 14. Forasmuch, then, as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same ; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.
have justly suffered had they perished in their sins. The death of Christ was a substitute for the just punishment of sinners, inasmuch as it answered the same great ends in God's moral government. His sufferings sufficiently manifested the demerit of sin, and God's holy abhorrence of it; and in this way Christ did not destroy the law, but fulfilled it. The dignity and authority of the Lawgiver are vindicated, justice is satisfied, and a way is opened for the free and consistent exercise of mercy to man, guilty and ill-deserving
Q. 4. Were Christ's sufferings bodily or mental, or both ?
A. They were both, though chiefly mental ; and in these the atonement principally consisted. (b).
Q. 5. Did Christ suffer in His human or Divine nature, or both?
A. He suffered in His human nature, body and soul only. The Divine nature, however, enabled Him to endure the evils that were laid upon Him, and, by its connection with the human nature, added unspeakable worth to His sufferings; for these take their character and value from the whole complex Person of Christ.
Q. 6. Were the sufferings of Christ great and distressing?
A. His sufferings of body were severe, but the agony of His spirit exceeded all human comprehension.
(b) 1 Pet. iii. 18. For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.Is. lii. 10. When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.-Luke xxii. 44. And being in an agony, he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.-Matt. xxxvi. 38. Then said he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death. -Matt. xxvii. 46. And about the ninth hour, Jesus cried with a Joud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani ? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
Q. 7. Are the sufferings of Christ to be viewed as punishment inflicted upon Him?
A. By no means. An innocent being may suffer, but cannot, strictly speaking, be punished. Punishment supposes criminality, and is the infliction of natural evil or misery for the commission of moral evil or sin. Christ may, however, be considered as bearing, in a sense, the punishment of our sins.
Q. 8. Why was the atonement of Christ necessary.
A. 1. It was not necessary to render God benevolent; for He ever has been, and ever will be benevolent to all His creatures, susceptible of pleasure and pain, whatever their character may be in reference to holiness. 2. But it was necessary, that God might show His hatred to sin, and love to holiness, and that He might be honorable and just, and still be merciful. If God were to pardon without an atonement, where would be an exhibition of His hatred to sin and love to holiness? for His conduct would in nowise show it;-where would be His regard to His character, law, and government? for there would appear to be a total disregard of them. (c) 3. That the atonement was necessary may be argued from the fact that Christ died to effect it. It is not to be supposed, that the Father or the Son would have consented to this, had it not been absolutely necessary. (d) 4. That the atonement was necessary is evident from express testimony of the Bible. (e)
(c) Rom. iii. 25, 26. Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness, that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
(d) John i. 16. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.—Matt. xxvi. 39. And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.--Heb. i. 10. For it became him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sulerings.
(e) Lev. xvii. 11. For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and Q.9. Will not repentance and future obedience sufficiently atone for transgression, or be an adequate ground of pardon ?
A. Certainly not; for they can make no atonement. Repentance cannot change the nature of sin, nor annihilate it, nor repair the injury it has done. Present and future obedience cannot obliterate past crimes and mischief. Past obedience can as well atone for present and future sins, as present and future obedience can atone for past sins.
Q. 10. How extensive is the atonement ? A. It is general, and extends in its sufficiency to all the human family.
Q. 11. How does this appear to be the case ?
J. 1. From the character of Christ. The Saviour is a being of infinite dignity and worth. Hence His sufferings and death are of infinite value and efficacy; and hence the atonement is sufficient for all mankind. To conclude otherwise, would be derogatory to the glorious character of the Redeemer. 2. The atonement from its nature appears to be as sufficient for all, as for a part of the human race. It is that, on account of which God can consistently dispense grace to the guilty-can be just, and still the justifier of all who believe, however large the number. 3. This doctrine may be proved from the commands, invitations, and exhortations of Scripture. God is sincere in all his dealings with men. Consequently, he would not command, invite, and exhort all to accept of salvation, if it were not provided for I have given it to you upon the altar, to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.—Heb. ix. 22. And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.-Rev. vii. 14. And he said to me, 'These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their
robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.-Eph. i. 7. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace. -Rev. v. 9. And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof; for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.