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Christ, and the glory that should follow,” (Isaiah liii); having observed, that “he bore our griefs and carried our sorrows,” was wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities,” shows the reason of this, by adding, that “the Lord laid, or caused to meet, upon him the iniquity of us all:” so that “ it was exacted and he became answerable,” according to the genuine meaning of the next words, (ver. ?). Thus he would " justify many, for he would bear their iniquities, and not merely the punishment due to them. We may in many cases say, that the innocent suffers for the guilty, when one is exposed to loss or pain by means of another's fault, or for his benefit; but can it be said with propriety, that the Lord lays upon the innocent sufferer the iniquity of the offender, or that the latter bears the sins of the former, when no translation or imputation of guilt is intended, and no real atonement made ? If so, what words can convey the idea of imputation and atonement? What determinate meaning can there be in language? Or what doctrine can be deduced with certainty from the sacred oracles? The expressions ransom, redemption, purchased, bought with a price, propitiation, and several others, support this doctrine.
Il. The testimony of John Baptist, “ Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world,” (John i. 29), contains a very conclusive argument on this subject. Whatever other reasons may be thought of for a lamb being the selected emblem of the Lord Jesus, he could not as a lamb “ take away sin,” except “ by the sacrifice of himself:” his teaching, rule, and example, have some effect, in different ways, in reforming mankind; and the influences of the Spirit sanctify the believer's heart: in these respects he may be said in some sense to take away sin ; but as a lamb, he could only take away the guilt of it by giving himself to be slain, that he might " deem us to God with his blood," being the antitype of the paschal lambs and daily sacrifices, even “ the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world."
III. When the apostle argues (1 Cor. xv. 17), that "if Christ were not risen, the Corinthians were yet in their sins," what could he mean, but that, as nothing could prove the reality and efficacy of Christ's atonement, except his resurrection ; so nothing could take away their guilt but that atonement ? For their reformation and conversion to the worship and service of the true God was a fact which could not be denied, whatever men thought of the doctrines in question.
IV. The same apostle says, that “ Christ will appear the second time without sin," &c. (Heb. ix. 28). “ But did he not appear the first time without sin? What then is the meaning of this opposition, that at his first coming he bare our sins, but at his second he shall appear without sin? The words can have no other imaginable sense, but that at his first coming he sustained the person of a sinner, and suffered instead of us ; but at his second coming he shall appear, not as a sacrifice, but as a Judge.” (Tillotson).
V. The apostolical method of exhorting men to holiness evinces the same point. They uniformly draw their arguments, motives, and encouragements from the cross of Christ; “ His own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree; that we being dead to sin, might live unto God :” “ye are bought with a price, therefore glorify God with your bodies and spirits, which are his,” (see also 2 Cor. v. 14, 15; Eph. v. 1, 2, 25, 26; Tit. ii. 11-14; 1 Pet. i. 13—20). This is the distinguishing peculiarity of their exhortations, in which they differ from all others who have attempted to excite men to virtue or morality.
VI. The appointment of the Lord's Supper, in remembrance of the body of Christ broken, and his blood poured out, and as a representation of the manner in which we become interested in the blessings of his salvation, even
by eating his flesh, and drinking his blood,” (John vi. 48–58), is a conclusive argument on this subject; but it must be referred to a future Essay, when it will be fully discussed. At present I shall only call the reader's serious attention to the words of our Lord, when he instituted this ordinance :
“ This is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many, for the remission of sins.”
Lastly, The songs of the redeemed in heaven, even of those who had come out of great tribulation, and shed their blood for Christ's sake, may well close these few brief but unanswerable arguments of this doctrine. Without one discordant voice, they ascribe their salvation to “ the Lamb that was slain, who hath redeemed them to God with his blood;" “ who hath washed them from their sins in his own blood," &c. But in what sense could the Lamb that was slain wash them from sin with his blood, unless he were truly and literally an atoning sacrifice for them? And this shows us, of what vast importance this doctrine is in the system of Christianity; and that it is indeed essential to it: for he who denies or overlooks it, cannot have the same judgment of the Divine character and law, or of sin, that others have; he cannot approach God in the same way, or with the same plea; he cannot exercise a repentance or faith of the same kind; he cannot feel himself under the same obligations, act from the same motives, pray, thank, and bless God for the same things, or have the same reasons for meekness, patience, gratitude, humility, &c. &c.; and finally, he cannot be fit for the same heaven, but would dislike the company, dissent from the worship, and disrelish the pleasures and employments of those, who ascribe all their salvation to God, and to the Lamb that was slain. And is not this sufficient to prove, that he cannot possess the faith, hope, love, and joy, which are peculiar to the religion of the crucified Emmanuel ?
But it is also to be feared, that numbers assent to this most important doctrine, who neither understand its nature and tendency, nor are suitably infuenced by it. The cross of Christ, when contemplated by an enlightened mind, most emphatically teaches the perfect glory and beauty of the Divine character; the obligations, reasonableness, and excellency of the moral law; the value of immortal souls, the vanity of earthly distinctions, the misery of the most prosperous transgressors, the malignity of sin, the lost estate of mankind, the presumption of every self-righteous hope ; the inestimable value of that foundation which God hath laid ; the encouragements given to sinners to return to, and trust in him, and their obligations to serve and obey him, as their reconciled Father and Friend. He therefore who truly believes this doctrine, and who glories in the cross of Christ alone, will habitually give the concerns of eternity a decided preference to every worldly object; he will have an earnest desire to promote the salvation of souls, especially the souls of those who are most dear to him; he will be crucified to the world and the world to him; he will repent of, hate, and forsake all his sins, and seek the crucifixion of every sinful passion; he will admit of no other hope of salvation, than that which rests on the mercy of the Father, through the atonement of the Son; he will deem it his privilege, honour, and pleasure to live to him, who died for him and rose again: the example and love of Christ will reconcile him to reproach, self-denial, and suffering for righteousness' sake, and dispose him to forgiveness, love of enemies, patience, &c., and whatever can adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour.
Whilst we would therefore “ contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints," we would also caution men not to “imprison the truth in unrighteousness.” Not only are they enemies to the “ cross of Christ," who vilify the doctrine of his atonement; but they also, who hold it in a carnal heart, and disgrace it by a worldly, sensual life, (Phil. iii. 18—21): and it is to be feared, that many who are zealous against the fatal Socinian heresy, are tainted with the abominable infection of Antinomianism; and that some others, who contend for the doctrine of the atonement, rest their hope upon their own works, and not on Christ. But as he that spared not his own Son, but delivered him " for us all,” will give the true believer all things with him ; so he will not spare any of those who neglect, oppose, or abuse $0 great salvation.
On our Lord's Exaltation, and his Appearance “in the presence of God for us. When our Saviour upon the cross was about to commend his spirit into the Father's hands, he said, “ It is finished.” Whatever the types had prefigured, or the prophets foretold, of his obedience, conflicts, and sufferings; whatever the glory of God, the honour of his law, or the rights and satisfaction of his justice required; and whatever was necessary in order to his final victory, triumph, and exaltation at the right hand' of the Father in our behalf, was then fully accomplished ; that is, as far as it could be, previous to his death, which immediately followed. He then became conqueror over the world, sin, and Satan, (triumphing over them even on the cross): and having consecrated the grave by his burial, to be a sacred repository for the bodies of his disciples, he arose on the third day, a mighty victor over the king of terrors himself, and at that crisis commenced the glory which was to follow his sufferings.
The evidences of his resurrection have been already considered, (Essay I. p. 165–167); the ends which were answered by that great event, may here be briefly mentioned. He thus confirmed, beyond all reasonable doubt, every part of the doctrine he had taught; proving especially, that he was the Son of God in that peculiar and appropriate sense, in which he had claimed that high relation to the Father, and for which he had been condemned as a blasphemer; be fully evinced, that his atonement had been accepted, and had effectually answered those great and gracious purposes for which it had been made: he was thus capable of possessing in our nature the mediatorial throne, which had been covenanted to him as the reward of his obedience and sufferings; and to appear as our Advocate and Intercessor in the presence of the Father ; being our Brother, and glorifying in that condescending relation to us; and, finally, he was the first fruits of the general resurrection, the earnest and pledge of that grand and interesting event.
We need not here enlarge on the circumstances of our Lord's resurrection, or enter further won the instructions that may be deduced from it: but as his mediation is jaturally divided into two distinct parts, it regularly falls within our plan o consider at present, that part which he now performs in his heavenly glory; as we before did that which he fulfilled during his humiliation on earth. From the depth of his voluntary abasement, " he ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.” He then “ led captivity captive, and received gifts for men, yea, for the rebellious also; that the Lord God might dwell among them,” (Psalm lxviii. 18; Eph. iv. 7–16.) “ For the heavens must receive him, until the restitution of all things. “ He is now gone to prepare a place for us; and he will come again, and receive us to himself, that where he is, there we,” (who are his true disciples) “ may be also,” (John xiv. 2, 3; Acts iii. 21.) We will, therefore, in this Essay, point out the purposes for which Jesus, our forerunner, “ hath for us entered into heaven," and the means by which he prepares the
for our admission to the same place of holy felicity.
The royal prophet (Psalm cx. 4.) introduces Jehovah declaring with an irreversible oath, that the Messiah' was constituted a priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedec, (Gen. xiv. 18; Heb. vii ;) and the apostle thence argues, that the Aaronic priesthood was never intended to be perpetual. Now Melchizedec's priesthood especially differed from that of Aaron, in that it united the regal power with the sacerdotal office; which showed, that the Messiah was to “ be a priest upon a throne,” (Zech. vi. 9—15.) But before we enter more particularly on the discussion of this important subject, I would observe, that it affords us a most conclusive proof of our Lord's Deity. No mention is made by Moses of Melchizedec's “ father, mother, pedigree, beginning of life, or end of days;" but he is introduced to our notice with mysterious abruptness, “ being,” says the apostle, “made like unto the Son of God,” (Heb. vii. 3.) But in what sense could this render him “ like to the Son of God," or a proper type of him, except as it was a shadow of his external pre-existence? As man, he had beginning of life, like “his brethren;" and if he, who tabernacled in our nature, had been a pre-existent creature of the highest order, he must nevertheless have had 6 beginning of life;" and the emphatic silence of Moses respecting the birth of Melchizedec could not have represented him, in any sense, as “ like to the Son of God.”
The High Priesthood of Christ, in the sanctuary above, first requires our consideration. On the great day of atonement (Lev. xvi.) the high priest (not arrayed in his robes of glory and beauty, but clad in linen garments like his brethren,) having offered the sin-offerings for himself and for the people, entered the holy of holies, with the sprinkling of blood, and the burning of incense by fire taken from the altar of burnt-offering ;. and thus as Israel's typical intercessor, he appeared before the mercy-seat, as in the presence of God for them. Thus from the holy nation a holy tribe was selected, from that tribe a holy family, and from that family a holy person (that is, typically, and by consecration:) yet even this individual, selected with such care and so many precautions from the whole human race, was not allowed, 'on pain of death, to enter within the veil, or to approach Jehovah, even on a mercy-seat, except on one day in a year; nor on that day without the previous offering of sacrifices, the blood of which he must sprinkle before the ark, whilst the smoke of the incense perfumed the holy place. The whole of this appointment was calculated to show in the most significant manner, to how great a distance from their offended Creator sin had removed fallen men; and how difficult it was to render their return and readmission to his favour consistent with the honour of his justice and holiness.
Thus our great High Priest, laying aside the robes of light and majesty, appeared in the mean attire of our nature; and was made in all things like unto his brethren, except as he was free from the least defilement of sin: and having on earth offered his one all-sufficient sacrifice, he ascended into heaven, to appear before the mercy-seat, in the true sanctuary, in the immediate presence of God, “ for us ;" bearing our nature, and pleading in our behalf the merits of his perfect obedience, and inestimable atonement ; that we might be delivered from going down into the pit, through the ransom he hath paid for us, (Job. xxxiii. 24). The apostle writing to the Hebrews, discusses this subject very fully, and shows in how many and important particulars the antitype exceeded and consequently differed from the type. With lively and joyful gratitude he expiates on the compassion, faithfulness, and power of our great High Priest; on his divine dignity, and his condescension in assuming our nature, and owning us as his brethren; on his sympathy with us in our sorrows and temptations; on the prevalency of his intercession, and the unchangeable nature of that office, which he ever liveth to perform. He shows us, that, by the offering of his flesh, the way into the holiest is laid open, and that we may now draw near with boldness, through the rent veil, to the mercy-seat of our reconciled God: that, by the blood of the new covenant, the heavenly things themselves are purified, (that is, they are not polluted by the admission of sinners to them in this appointed way); and that “ such an high priest became us,” or suited our case, “ who was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners.” In like manner, in another epistle, he principally grounds his defiance of all enemies on this doctrine, that Christ “died, yea, rather, is risen again, and is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us,” (Rom. viii. 33–39); and elsewhere he declares, that “ by him both Jews and Gentiles have access by one Spirit unto the Father,” (Eph. ii. 18). Even as John instructs us, that “ if any man sin we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, &c. (1 John ii. 1, 2.) Many other testimonies to the same effect might be adduced, but these may suffice to our present purpose : except as we advert to our Lord's own words, when he declares, that “ he is the door, and that whosoever enters in by him shall be saved;" that he is the way, the truth, and the life, and that no man cometh to the Father but by him, (John x. 9 ; xiv. 6): and to his prayer in behalf of his disciples, just before his crucifixion, which may be considered as the specimen and substance of his intercession, (John xvii). From these Scriptures we learn, that sinners are not admitted in their own name, even to a mercy-seat to supplicate pardon, but in the name, and through the intercession of Christ; that their pleas must not be drawn from their own character, situation or services; nor even from the general goodness and compassion of God; but wholly from the person, work, and merits of Emmanuel ; and that his pleas in their behalf are wholly deduced from what he hath done and suffered, in their nature and for their benefit.
It is not necessary for us to imagine any outward transaction, which accords to a high-priest burning incense, or to an advocate pleading a cause, &c. Heavenly things are represented to our minds under such emblems, to give us true ideas of their nature, not to convey to us adequate apprehensions of the manner of them. That Christ is represented as appearing in heaven as a lamb that had been slain, to instruct us in the reality and efficacy of his atonement: and his officiating as a priest, or pleading as an advocate, conveys similar instruction. Thence we may learn, that his interposition in our behalf, through the merits of his obedience 'unto death, renders our sinful persons and services accepted with the Father, and secures to us deliverance from every enemy and evil, the supply of every want, and the eternal enjoyment of all felicity. Farther than this we need not determine: he and the Father are one in essence, counsel, and will ; and his mediation cannot but be effectual, in behalf of all who come to God through him. For it hath been repeatedly observed, (though opposers of these doctrines either wilfully or carelessly remain ignorant of it), that the atonement and intercession of Christ were not intended to induce God to show mercy, but to render the exercise of his love to sinners consistent with the honour of his law, and the glory of his name : for this single proposition, well understood, suffices to prove whole volumes that have been published on the subject, to be an empty contest with an imaginary opponent, and a triumph for an ideal victory. Whilst our Lord therefore directed his disciples to ask in his name, and promised that he would pray the Father for them, he also subjoins in another place, “I say not, that I will pray the Father for you," &c. (John xiv. 13–17; xvi. 26, 27): for his general plea in behalf of all “ who come to God through him,” sùffices; nor is it necessary for the well-beloved Son of the Father to be particular, or to use importunity with him, to induce him to grant all covenanted blessings to his beloved children.
The intercession of Christ is totally distinct from the supplications which we make for one another. When we pray, according to our duty, for our brethren and fellow-sinners; our requests are only admissible and acceptable through his mediation. We do not come in our own name, or ground our intercession on our own services, or make any claim to the mercy we ask, or approach with an absolute certainty of succeeding. If our prayers for others be properly presented, they will be accepted; and if they be not granted, in the sense we meant them, they will return into our own bosom. But the intercession of Christ for his disciples is made in his own name, on the ground of his own merits and dignity, according to the covenant ratified with and by him, and with the absolute certainty of success. This shows the sin and idolatry of worshipping, or coming to God through other mediators : for either these were sinners that were brought to heaven through the merits and intercession of Christ, though they are thus addressed as his competitors: or they are created angels, not at all related to us, and utterly