תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

contradiction to the declarations of the law, as the forgiveness of a million. If, then, the Amends, actually made, were such, that God could consistently forgive one sinner; he might with equal consistency, and propriety, forgive any number, unless prevented by some other reason. The Atonement, in other words, which was necessary for a world was equally necessary, and in just the same manner, and degree, for an individual sinner.

2dly. The Atonement was by the infinite dignity and excellence of the Redeemer rendered infinitely meritorious. But it cannot be denied, that an infinitely meritorious atonement is sufficient for all the apostate children of Adam.

3dly. If the Atonement of Christ consisted in suffering what those, for whose sins he atoned, deserved to suffer ; his mediation did not lessen the evils of the Apostasy. All the difference, which it made in the state of things, was, that he suffered in the stead of those whom he came to redeem; and suffered the same miseries, which they were condemned to suffer. In other words an innocent being suffered the very misery, which the guilty should have suffered. Of course there is in the divine Kingdom just as much misery, with the mediation of Christ, as there would have been without it; and nothing is gained by this wonderful work, but the transfer of this misery from the guilty to the innocent.

4thly. If Christ has not made a sufficient Atonement for others beside the Elect; then his Salvation is not offered to them at all; and they are not guilty for not receiving it. But this is contrary to the whole tenour of the Gospel ; which every where exhibits sinners as greatly guilty for rejecting Christ. Yet if Christ be not offered to them ; they cannot be guilty of rejecting him.

5thly. The Gospel, or glad tidings published by Christ, is said to be good tidings unto all people. But, if there be no Alonement made for the sins of all people; the Gospel, instead of being good news to them, is not addressed to them at all.

6thly. Ministers are required to preach Faith, as well as Re. pentance, to all sinners as their duty. But if no Atonement has been made for their sins, they cannot believe: for to them Christ is in no sense a Saviour ; and therefore, not even a possible object of their faith.

Should it be asked, why then, are not all men pardoned ? I answer; because all mankind do not evangelically believe in this Atonement, and its Author. No man is pardoned merely because of the Atonement made by Christ; but because of his own acceptance, also, of that atonement, by faith. The way is

open, and equally open, to all; although all may not be equally inclined to walk in it.

The proffers of pardon on the very same conditions are made, with equal sincerity and kindness, to every man. He, who does not accept them, therefore, ought to remember, that nothing stands in his way, but his own impenitence and unbelief.

SERMON LVII.

THE PRIESTHOOD OF CHRIST.

HIS ATONEMENT,

OBJECTIONS ANSWERED.

APPLICATION.

ROMANS iii. 24-26.

Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is

in Christ Jesus. 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.

Having finished the observations, which I intended, concerning the atonement of Christ, as proofs of its existence, and explanations of its nature; I shall now proceed to consider some Objections to this doctrine ; and to suggest several practical Remarks, to which it naturally gives birth.

Among the Objections, alleged, against this doctrine, I select the following, as particularly deserving attention.

1st. It is objected, that a Vicarious Atonement for sin is not consistent with the dictates of reason.

“ The sin, it is observed, is ours; and cannot belong to another. Whatever atonement is to be made ought, therefore, to be made by us : particularly such an atonement, as is here insisted on;

viz. such an one, as is to be made by suffering. The sufferings, which are necessary to expiate our guilt, are due from the sinner only; and cannot be justly inflicted on any other person."

I cheerfully agree with the objector, that the sinner cannot claim such an interference on his behalf, as is made by the atonement of Christ. Strict justice demands the punishment of the sinner only; and can, in no wise, require the punishment of another in his stead. But I still deny the consequence, which the objector derives from these premises.

No person, who has observed the affairs of the present world with attention, can hesitate to admit, that vicarious interference, to a great extent, producing in great numbers both good and evil consequences, is a prominent feature of the providential system, by which the affairs of this world are regulated. Children thus become rich, well educated, intelligent, religious, and everlastingly happy, by the agency of their parents : while other children owe, in a great measure, to the same agency the contrary evils of poverty, ignorance, vice, and final ruin. Friends by their interference become the means of wealth, reputation, advancement, holiness, and everlasting life, to their friends; and rescue them from poverty, bondage, disgrace, profligacy, and perdition. Enemies accomplish all the contrary evils for their enemies; and by temptation, slander, fraud, and treachery, effectuate for those, whom they hate, every kind of destruction. A great part of the business of human life, both public and private, is in the strict sense vicarious : the benefits, or the injuries, rarely terminating in the personal good of the agent only, but almost of course extending to others. The agency of Washington has beneficially affected every inhabitant of the United States. That of Moses extended blessings to the Israelitish nation through fifteen hundred years. That of St. Paul and his companions has spread holiness through the Christian world for seventeen centuries; and added many millions to the general assembly of the firstborn. Nay, this very agency will hereafter become the means of converting the whole human race to Christianity ; people heaven with a great multitude, which no man can number, of all nations, kindreds, and tongues ; and diffuse glory, honour, and immortal life, throughout never ending ages. Vol. II.

52

From these observations it is evident, that vicarious agency is so far from being an unreasonable thing in itself, as in one form and another to constitute an important part of the present system of things, and to have a very extensive, and very efficacious, influence on the most interesting concerns of mankind. The whole analogy of human affairs in the present world furnishes us, therefore, with every reason to expect, that vicarious agency would be adopted, more or less, in every part of the providential system.

What the state of the world thus naturally teaches us to look for, Revelation countenances in the strongest manner. A single instance will be sufficient to place this truth in the clearest light. Every one, who is at all acquainted with the Scriptures, perfectly well knows, that they require of all men intercession for their fellow-men; and that to this intercession blessings are both promised, and declared to be given. Is any sick among you! says St. James, let him call for the Elders of the Church, and let them pray over himand the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and, if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. If restoration from disease, and the for giveness of sins; blessings of the greatest temporal and spiritual magnitude; are promised, and given, in consequence of the intercession of others; our minds can set no limits to the propriety, or the efficacy, of vicarious interference, exhibited in other forms.

In the present case, (the case objected to,) the propriety of admitting vicarious interference is complete. Mankind were all sinners; were all condemned by the unalterable law of God; and were all, therefore, destined to final ruin. In themselves there was no power to expiate their sins, or to prevent their destruction. When it is remembered, that their number was incalculable, and that each of them was immortal, the case must be admitted to have been great, and interesting, beyond any finite comprehension. Both the magnitude of the case, therefore, and its desperate nature, demanded of a benevolent being every effort capable of being demanded. Whatever could with propriety be done was plainly, and loudly, called for by circumstances so deplorable; a wretchedness so vast; a doom extend

« הקודםהמשך »