« הקודםהמשך »
only recite a few passages, out of a multitude. And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long suffer. ing, and abundant in goodness and truth; keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin. Exod. xxxiv. 6, 7. The Lord thy God is a merciful God; he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee. Deut. iv. 31. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord, though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. Isa. i. 18. Have I any pleasure at all, that the wicked should die, saith the Lord God, and not that he should return from his ways and live? Ezek. xviii. 23. To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him. Dan. ix. 9. Remem. ber not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions ; according to thy mercy, remember thou me, for thy goodness sake, O Lord! Psal. xxv. 7. To say that the sin of a finite creature is an infinite offence, because committed against an infinite being, is to transfer the dignity of the offended to the offender, for no other reason than because he is an offender. But to talk of an infinite atonement, to say that a divine being, eternal, omnipotent, and omniscient, could be crucified and slain, to appease the wrath of another divine being, is the greatest of all absurdi. ties; such a sacrifice is, in the very nature of things, an utter impossibility ; besides, if the second divine being in the trinity possessed all
the attributes of the first, the justice of God the Son required an equal atonement with the justice of God the Father; and what other divine being made satisfaction to his justice ?
Philo. I own, Criton, that your arguments seem very plausible; but pray, how do you un. derstand such scriptures as these ? Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows ; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted; but he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed. The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sins of many. Isa. liii. 4, 5, 6, 12. We are said to be bought with a price. 1 Cor. vii. 23. To be redeemed. Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity. Titus ii. 14. Do not these and such like passages speak in plain terms of Christ's suffering upon the account of sin, and his making atonement for the guilty ?
Criton. Upon fair examination, Philo, you will find they have not any such meaning, nor is it possible they should. The prophet represents the Jews saying, we did esteem him smitten of God; some read, we thought him judicially smitten. This was the case when Christ was crucified: they said he suffered as a sinful blasphemer, in that he said he was the Messiah, the son of God. But instead of the sufferings and death of Christ being the effects of divine
justice, they were procured by the most iniquitous proceedings of some of the worst of the Jews. Pilate strove more than once to release him, because he found no fault in him; and yet they persisted in having him crucified. Peter, in his sermon to the Jews, says, hear these words! Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you, by miracles, and wonders, and signs ; ye have taken, and, by wicked hands, have crucified and slain. Acts ii. 22. 23. And Stephen tells them, that they had been the betrayers and murderers of the just one. Acts vii. 52. How horrible is the language that represents the sufferings and tortures inflicted on the innocent Jesus by his enemies, as trifling, nay, as nothing, compared with that anguish with which his righteous soul was afflicted by God his hea. venly Father, when he poured out his wrath upon him, because he undertook to reconcile him to a sinful world. Such expressions, as the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all, and he bare the sins of many, are Jewish forms of speech, and must be understood in the same sense in one part of scripture as another. The priests were said to bear the iniquity of the congregation ; but no one ever understood that the crimes of the congregation were imputed to them, and the punishment due to those crimes inflicted upon them : the scape goat was to bear away the sins of the people, and the prophet Ezekiel was to bear the iniquity of the house of Israel, and the house of Judah. Ezek. iy. The
scripture never speaks of Christ reconciling God to the world; but of God reconciling the world unto himself, by Jesus Christ. We are said to be bought with a price; but such like words occur in the Old Testament, as well as in the new. Do ye
thus requite the Lord, is not be thy father, that hath bought thee? Deut. xxxii. 6. The anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and be sold them. Judg. iii. 8. and Psal. xliv. 12. Such language cannot, with the least propriety, be taken literally; for if I am the purchase of Christ's blood, and am asked who sold me? I can only answer, God Almighty; and for whom was I purchased ? I could only say, for God Almighty: and this involves in it such an absurdity, as no logic is capable of removing. Christ is said to have redeemed us with his blood, because his death was the confirmation of his testimony; and he sealed the truths, which he had taught, with his blood; and God confirmed those truths, by raising him from the dead.
The gospel offers salvation freely, without price. But if the sufferings of Jesus Christ purchased salvation for us, what room is there for forgiveness? We are not, in this case,
, saved by grace, but by merit. The whole mi. nistry of Jesus Christ sets forth the goodness and mercy of God, in forgiving and receiving the humble and penitent sinner. In the parable of the two debtors, he does not represent the creditor requiring a surety to pay debts, but,
because they have nothing to pay with, he freely forgives them both. Luke vii. 41, 42. And in that of the prodigal son, the father is not said to require an atonenent for his son's past transgressions, but to receive him gladly, upon his return and submission. What representation can be more expressive of the benign character of Jehovah, than that given by the Messiah, in the vii. of Matthew. If any of you being a father, have a son, who shall ask bread, will
you tantalize him by offering him a stone ? or if be should ask a fish, would you give him a serpent ? Oh, no! human nature recoils at such ideas. If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children; how much more shall
your Father which is in heaven, give good things to them that ask him?
Had the death of Christ been a vicarious sacrifice, and man's salvation depended upon his belief in such a doctrine, surely our Lord would have directed his disciples to preach such essential truths ; but neither before, nor after his resurrection, did he give them such instructions. When Jesus informed his disciples that he was to suffer, and be put to death, they were sorrowful, and much grieved. Is it not reasonable to suppose, that he would have told them that his death was necessary for man's salvation ; and that his sufferings were to be the price of their redemption, if they really were so, in order to put an end to their sorrow? And is not his total silence upon the subject, a strong