תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

the former was not. But if we inquire into the reason of this appointment, the practice of the patriarchs, &c., and the multiplied precepts in the Mosaic law, as to this particular ; we shall not easily arrive at any satisfactory solution, except we admit the doctrine of Christ's atonement, and suppose them to refer to him, as the substance of all these shadows. I shall, therefore, in this essay, endeavour to explain, illustrate, and prove this doctrine, and to show its importance in the Christian religion.

The rules and general usages respecting expiatory sacrifices, under the Old Testament, may assist us in understanding the nature of our Lord's atonement, of which they were types and prefigurations (Heb. x. 1.). The offender, whose crimes might be thus expiated, was required, according to the nature of the case, to bring “his offering of the flock, or of the herd, to the door of the tabernacle.” The very nature of the animals appointed for sacrifice was significant ; not the ferocious, the noxious, the subtle, or the unclean ; but such as were gentle, docile, and valuable; and none of these were to be offered, but such as were “ without blemish,” or perfect in their kind. The offender was directed to bring an offering, in which he had a property, to be presented unto God, and thus substituted in his stead, for this particular purpose. He was then “ to lay his hands upon the head" of the sacrifice, which denoted the typical translation of guilt from him, by the imputation to the substituted animal. This is generally thought to have been attended by a confession of his sins, and prayers for pardon, through the acceptance of his oblation : and doubtless it implied as much, and would be attended at least with secret devotions to that effect by every pious Israelite (Lev. i. 4; i. 2; iv. 4 ; xvi. 21.) The priests were next employed “ to shed the blood of the sacrifice!" which, being the life of every animal, was reserved to make atonement, and was therefore not allowed to be eaten, under the Old Testament dispensation (Gen. ix. 4; Lev. xvii

. 11.) Afterwards, the body, or a part of it, as the fat, &c., were burned upon the altar with the fire which came immediately from heaven, both at the opening of the tabernacle worship, and afterwards at the consecration of Solomon's temple (Lev. ix. 24; 2 Chron. vii. 1—3.) Now, who can help perceiving that this fire represented the avenging justice of God (who is a consuming fire;) and that, when it consumed the harmless, unblemished sacrifice, whilst the guilty offerer escaped, it aptly prefigured the way of a sinner's salvation, through the expiatory sufferings of the spotless Lamb of God? The animal's violent death, by the shedding of its blood, denoted the offender's desert of temporal death; and the subsequent burning of its fat, or flesh, showed him to be exposed to future vengeance : but then, they represented the guilt and punishment, in both respects, as translated from him to the sacrifice, which bore them in his stead; and the whole ceremony, which concluded with the sprinkling of the blood, and in many cases its application to all those things that pertained to the worship of God, evidently typified the believer's deliverance from guilt and punishment, from the sting and dread of death, and finally from death itself, from sin, and all its consequences; the acceptance of his person and services, and his participation of eternal life and felicity, through “ him who loved him, and washed him from his sins in his own blood,” &c.

These appointments were varied, in divers particulars, as they respected the several kinds of sacrifices: but most of them coincided in the grand outlines here mentioned. The paschal lamb, the flesh of which was roasted and eaten, &c.; and the bodies of the sin offerings for the congregation, &c., which were burned without the camp, form the principal exceptions; but these variations serve to illustrate the several parts of that great subject which was exhibited by them. Even the thank-offerings and peace-offerings, though evidently typical of the believer's spiritual worship and communion with God, and with the saints, were all attended with the shedding and sprinkling of the blood, and the burning of the fat of the sacrifice on which they feasted. Nay, the very purifications with water (the emblem of sanc

tification ;) the re-admission of a leper into the congregation ; the consecration of a priest; the performance of a Nazarite's vow, &c. were, in different ways, connected with the same observations. “Almost all things were purged with blood, and without shedding of blood there was no remission” (Heb. ix. 22.) So that this ran through the whole ritual law, and was interwoven with every part of the worship performed by the ancient church of God.

We need not be surprised, that they who overlook the typical import of the ritual law, or doubt of the atonement of Christ, should either consider these institutions as an overgrown mass of trivial ceremonies ;" or attempt to account for them from the policy of Moses; or trace them from the customs of the surrounding nations. But indeed the Israelites were expressly forbidden to imitate the Gentiles, and several institutions in the law were intended to keep them at a distance from their superstitions : and if any agreement be found in other respects, it is far more reasonable to suppose, that the Gentiles borrowed their usages from the Israelites, than that the Israelites were encouraged or required to copy the worship of idolaters; and the epistle to the Hebrews sufficiently proves to all who read it as the word of God, that these ceremonies were shadows or types of the redemption by Jesus Christ, in its several parts. Indeed some persons of great eminence in their line, would persuade us that the penmen of the New Testament accommodated their language on this subject to the usages of the Jews; and rather wrote agreeable to vulgar notions and prejudices, than according to the true nature of their subject. This must mean (if it mean any thing more, than at any rate to evade an argument which cannot be answered,) that the apostles were mistaken, or that they wilfully misled mankind: and we may safely infer from this method of reasoning on such a subject, that the divine inspiration of the New Testament in general, of the epistles in particular, and especially of that to the Hebrews, must be given up by all who persist in denying the real atonement of Christ, whenever this argument used against them with energy, by some able and zealous controversialist; or at least, they must be forced to betake themselves to evasion, and other ingenious ways of losing sight of the precise point which is contested with them.

As every one of the grand divisions of holy Scripture carries along with it the evidence of its own divine original, so it may not be unseasonable to observe, that this is particularly the case with the books of Moses, which some have lately affected to speak of, as a respectable ancient composition, &c.; yet with very plain intimations that they are not to be regarded as of divine inspiration. But are not the prophecies contained in these books, fulfilling even to this day, in the state of the Jewish nation, and of the posterity of Ham? Did not our Lord quote them as the unerring word of God, and not merely as the words of Moses ? (Matt. iv. 4, 7, 10, xxii. 31, 32; Luke xxiv. 27, 44). And can any man believe in Christ, who speaks of those books as a human composition which he quoted, and by quoting, authenticated as the oracles of God? But it is most to our present purpose to observe, that the astonishing coincidence between the types of the law, and the language used concerning Christ, by his apostles, &c., establishes the authority of the books of Moses along with that of the New Testament, so that they cannot be separated ; as well as teaches us the real meaning of them. If attempts to lessen our regard to this part of Scripture be not the covert attacks of infidelity, most certainly they are calculated to subserve its cause.

“ Known unto God are all his works from before the foundation of the world.” What man of common sense, therefore, if not warped by prejudice, can suppose that the Lord, having appointed a number of ceremonies, without any reference to a future dispensation, and not suited to give mankind any just views of it, but the contrary, should afterwards so arrange that dispensation, or at least leave his servants so to speak of it, as to lead men to form notions more conformed to those antiquated rites, than to its real nature? Who can believe, that this new revelation should be made in such lan

guage as must give believers erroneous views of it, unless they are extremely careful how they understand it; make large allowances for the prejudices of education, &c., in those who first propagated it; and employ much ingenious labour to discover the truth, by divesting it of the numerous metaphors under which it lies concealed or obscured ? Surely, if we allow the Scriptures to be the word of the unerring, unchangeable, and all-wise God, we can scarce speak of such a method of interpretation, without failing of that reverence which we owe to his Divine Majesty. Does an architect, when about to erect a magnificent edifice, purposely arrange his plan to suit some inconvenient scaffolding which happens to be upon the spot, having been raised on another occasion ? Or, if he build according to a scaffolding previously made by his directions, is he ever supposed to form the plan of his structure for the sake of the scaffolding ? Or does any one doubt, that the scaffolding was raised to suit the plan that he had drawn for his intended building? And is it not almost infinitely more rational to suppose, that the Mosaic law was arranged, with a reference to the future revelation of the gospel; than to suppose, that the gospel was obscured, and even mis-stated, that it might be made apparently to accord to the abrogated ceremonies of the law?

But, though “ without shedding of blood, there was no remission" of sins, under the old dispensation ; yet " it was not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sin,” (Heb. x. 4.) If the question should be proposed to a Socinian, why " this was not possible ?” he might perhaps find it not very easy to give a direct and satisfactory answer. But if we allow (aceording to the idea of “no remission without shedding of blood,”) that the necessity of an atonement, in order to forgiveness, originates from the infinite koliness and justice of God, and the intrinsic evil and desert of sin, and the consequent impossibility that he could pass by sin, without showing his abhorrence of it, and determination to punish it according to its demerit;

we shall readily perceive, that nothing could render it consistent with the Divine glory to pardon and save sinners, which did not exhibit his justice and holiness in as clear a light, in shewing them mercy, as these attributes would have appeared in, had he executed the threatened vengeance. And if this were the case, however it might suit the designs of Infinite Wisdom, to appoint the sacrifices of lambs, bulls, goats, &c., as types and shadows, means of grace, or conditions of temporal remission; yet they could not possibly take away the guilt of sin; because they were not adequate exhibitions of the infinite justice and holiness of God. For what proportion could the death of an animal bear to the remission of that guilt, which merited the eternal punishment of an immortal soul? Or how could rational creatures behold, in such an observance, God's holy hatred of sin, and love of sinners? The same reasoning is conclusive, in

pect of the vicarious sufferings of any mere man, or mere creature. Suppose it were right that one creature should bear the punishment merited by another ; and any one could be found free from guilt, and willing to be substituted in the place of his guilty fellow-creature: yet he could only answer, one for one, body for body, life for life, soul for soul; his temporal sufferings could only answer to the temporal release of the condemned criminal ; but could not be an adequate ransom for this immortal soul from future punishment; much less could it expiate the guilt of the unnumbered crimes of many millions. Should it be said, that this might be, if God had so appointed ; I * answer, that God appointed the sacrifice of bulls and goats; yet it was impossible that they should take away sin ; and for the reason before assigned, it was impossible that God should appoint them, as more than a type of the real atonement. But no mere man can be found, who has not himself deserved the wrath of God; no one's body and soul are his own; no mere creature could be willing to bear the vengeance of heaven for another, if he might; and none might if he would: it may be our duty to lay down our ļives for our brethren; but it cannot be allowable for us to choose to be eternally unholy and miserable. The eternal Son of the Father, therefore, seeing that no other sacrifice could suffice, said, “ Lo, I come, to do thy will, O God,” &c. (Heb. x. 4-10.) I do not say, that the Lord could not have devised some other way of redemption; but we can conceive no other, by which perfect justice and purity could harmonize with boundless mercy; and as Infinite Wisdom gave this the preference, we are sure that it was in itself most eligible. The dignity of the Divine Redeemer, as One with the Father in the unity of the Godhead; his eternal relation to the Father, as the adequate object of his infinite love ; his appointment to, and voluntary susception of his office; his incarnation and consequent relation to us in the human nature; the perfect purity of his manhood ; the complete obedience of his whole life, amidst all kinds of difficulties and temptations; the tortures and ignominy of his death; the entire resignation and meek. ness with which he suffered; the principle from which his obedience and submission sprang; and the end to which the whole was directed ; when they are duly considered and estimated, will combine to shew that he more honoured the law of God and its awful sanction by his righteousness and atonement, than if all men had either perfectly obeyed, or finally perished. When the Father was pleased thus to wound and bruise his well-beloved Son for the transgressions of his people, his judgment of the evil and desert of sin appeared most illustrious : when his love to sinners was shown to be inconceivably great, he would rather lay the load of their guilt and punishment on him in whom his soul delighted, than pardon them without testifying his abhorrence of their crimes. No encouragement could thus be given to others to venture on sin: no other sacrifice of this value and efficacy could be found : all must see, that punishment was not the arbitrary act of an inexorable Judge, but the unavoidable result of perfect holiness and justice, even in a Being of infinite mercy. Thus every mouth will at length be stopped, or filled with adoration ; every heart impressed with awe and astonishment; every hope taken away from the impenitent and presumptuous; and the glory of God more fully manifested in all his harmonious perfections, than by all his other works, judgments, and dispensations. The story of Zaleucus, prince of the Locrians, is well known: to show his abhorrence of adultery, and his determination to execute the law he had enacted, condemning the adulterer to the loss of both his eyes, and at the same time to evince his love to his son, who had committed that crime; he willingly submitted to lose one of his own eyes, and ordered one of his son's to be put out also. Now what adulterer could hope to escape, when power was vested in a man, whom neither self-love, nor natural affection in its greatest force could induce to dispense with the law, or relax the rigour of its sentence? Thus the language both of the Father and of the Son in this way of saving sinners manifestly is, “Let the law be magnified and made honourable,” in the sight of the whole universe.

I would not embarrass these brief Essays by any thing superfluous or dubious : yet it seems to fall in with the design of them to observe, that the reward of righteousness is not annexed to mere exemption from sin (for Adam on the day of his creation was free from sin); but to actual obedience during the appointed term of probation. So that the perfect righteousness of Christ was as necessary as the atonement of his death, to his mediatorial work on earth ; not only as freedom from personal guilt was requisite in order to his bearing and expiating the sins of his people ; but also as the meritorious purchase of their forfeited inheritance; that the second Adam's benefit might answer to the loss sustained through the first Adam. His was however a suffering obedience, and so expiatory ; his death was the highest perfection of obedience, and so meritorious. We need not therefore very exactly distinguish between them; yet it is proper to maintain, that the believer is pardoned because his sin was imputed to Christ, and expiated by his sacrifice; and that he is justified and made an heir of heaven, because Christ “ brought in an everlasting righteousness," " which is unto and upon

all them that believe, without any difference.”. Our Lord did not indeed bear all the misery to which the sinner is exposed : not being personally guilty, he could not endure the torments of an accusing conscience; knowing that he should triumph, and reign in glory, he could not feel the horrors of despair ; and his infinite dignity rendering him able at once to make an all-sufficient atonement, it was not requisite that his sufferings should be eternal, as ours must otherwise have been. But he endured the scorn, rage, and cruelty of men, and all which they could inflict; the utmost malice of the powers of darkness; and the wrath and righteous vengeance of the Father; he bore shame, pain, and death in all its bitterness; and what he suffered in his soul during his agonies in the garden, and when he exclaimed on the cross, “ My God ! my God! why hast thou forsaken me?” we cannot conceive; only we know that “it pleased the Lord to bruise him;"“ the sword of vengeance awoke against him," and the “ Father spared him not.” We may therefore conclude, that he endured as much of that very misery which the wicked will endure from the wrath of God, and the malice of the infernal powers as could consist with perfect innocence, supreme love, and hope of speedy and înal deliverance.

Many objections have been made to this doctrine of a real atonement, and a vicarious sacrifice for sin, as if it were irrational or unjust, or gave an unamiable view of the Divine character; or as if it were unfavourable to the cause of morality and virtue: and great pains have been taken to explain away the language of holy Scripture on this subject, as if it implied not any of those things which the unlearned reader is apt to infer from it. It cannot be expected, that I should give a particular answer to each of these objections which result rather from the state of men's hearts, than from any solid grounds of reasoning ; but it may suffice to observe in general, that « God hath made foolish things the wisdom of this world;" that “ the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him ;” and especially, that “the preaching of the cross is foolishness,” in the abstract,“ to them that perish :" adverting to such testimonies of the Holy Spirit, we shall know what to think concerning those exclamations of irrational and absurd, which many of those who are wise in this world, and in their own eyes, employ in opposing the doctrine of the atonement. Nor can there be any injustice in this statement of it; for if one who was both able and willing to do it, was pleased to ransom his brethren from deserved eternal ruin, by enduring temporal sufferings and death as their Surety, what injustice could there be in accepting such a vicarious satisfaction for sin ? And how can that doctrine give an unamiable view of the Deity, which shows him to be infinite in righteousness, holiness, love, mercy, faithfulness, and wisdom; and displays all these, and every other conceivable moral excellency, in full perfection and entire harmony? It can only appear so to sinners, because justice and holiness are not amiable in the eyes of the unjust and unholy. Or how can that doctrine be prejudicial to the cause of morality, which furnishes the most powerful motives and encouragements to holiness, and shows sin in all its horrid deformity, and with all its tremendous effects; and which has uniformly done more to “ teach men to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world,” than all other expedients besides have even appeared to do?

Let us then proceed to state a few select arguments, which demonstrate, that the doctrine, as it hath been explained and illustrated, is contained in the holy Scriptures.

I. The language used in them is decisive. It is not only said, that Jesus “ redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us,” (Gal. iji. 13); “ that he suffered once for sins, the just for” (or instead of) " the unjust,” (1 Pet. iii. 18); but that “ he bare our sins, in his own body on the tree ;” and “ was made sin for us,” (2 Cor. v. 20; 1 Pet. ii. 24). The prophet, speaking above seven hundred years before, “ of the sufferings of

« הקודםהמשך »