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in value, and the solemnities prescribed, according to the degrees of moral culpability in the offender. The beneficial effects of all these sacrifices were transient. " In those sacrifices there is a remembrance again of sins 'every year. For it was not possible that the blood of bulls andof goats should finally, or effectually, take away sin," or avert, for a continuance, its merited punishment. Their temporary effect is described by their “ sanctifying to the purifying of the flesh;" without their deeply and permanently influencing the heart, producing a lasting reformation. But the free oblation which Christ has made of himself, for the good of the world, has removed the grand, the universal, punishment, the condemnation of death; and thus are we "sanctified,” or treated as if we were holy, “through the offering of the body of Christ, once for all." “Every priest standeth daily ministering and offering, oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins ; but this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins, forever sat down on the right hand of God.” The important work is finished ; " there remaineth no farther sacrifice for sin." " Christ is not entered into the holy place of the temple, made with hands, which are figures of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.' “ Not that he should often offer himself, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year, with strange blood,” or the blood of animals, “ for then he must have suffered since the foundation of the world;" but now, and finally, “at the termination of the periods, νυν δε απαξ επι συνθελεια των αιωνών, hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself, &c. &c. *
The particular phraseology, by which the mission of Jesus has been distinguished, and the great importance which is uniformly ascribed to his death, have introduced a doctrine into the Christian system, which is denominated the doctrine of the Atonement. The opinions advanced under this term, have been considered by their partisans as of the utmost importance, constituting the vitals of Christianity; and those who have refused to adopt them have been placed out of the pale of the Church. But all the principles advanced, and the manner in which they have been both attacked and defended, have equally been founded upon the supposition, that the punishment denounced against sin, has invariably a reference to the future state of the wicked. When the advocates for the doctrine contend, that the infinite merits of the
* See Heb. ix.
Saviour, his sufferings and death, have appeased the divine wrath, or satisfied the demands of infinite justice, our attention is always directed to the redemption from eternal misery. This is the doctrine to which their opponents so strenuously object. They cannot reconcile it to the justice of the sternest lawgiver, much less to the benignity of an affectionate parent, to inflict so tremendous a punishment, upon the sins which were committed in the days of the deepest ignorance; nor can they conceive it to be possible, that the death of Christ, although it was a voluntary submission to the laws of humanity, should possess
such an infinitude of merit as to satisfy infinite justice, according to the ideas which are annexed to the terms satisfaction, infinite justice, and infinite demerit of sin.
But the whole of the controversy being founded upon an assumption, that the punishment denounced in the Old Testament against sin, had a reference to a future life of misery, those of our readers who shall admit the statement we have made from a series of scriptural facts, and the inferences we have drawn, will also admit, that if the controversy be not entirely dissolved, it must take a different turn, and that its importance will be very considerably diminished. If the natural punishment of sin
be eternal death, and the human race be absolved from this punishment, through the highly meritorious intervention and voluntary death of the Saviour, the grand object is secured, to the joy and consolation of every sincere Christian, notwithstanding the minuter differences which may still subsist, concerning the precise mode in which the blessing may have been obtained. Whoever believeth in him hath life and immortality. He died, that they might live; because he lives, they will live also, although they may miscalculate concerning the precise ratio of merit in the benevolent agent, and of demerit in the subject. If by his stripes we are healed, we may surely avoid censorious quarrels, about the particular manner in which the effect is produced. *
We shall, therefore, close the subject simply by observing, that if our statements be received, the favourite expression that Christ suffered in our stead, is not applicable, to the extent of its meaning. He suffered, to redeem us from the condemnation of eternal death; but he hath not suffered eternal death for us. He hath redeemed us from prison, without being constituted a prisoner in our stead, for death could have no dominion over him. Nor is the human race totally exempt from the whole curse of the law, for it is still appointed unto all men once to die. Death has passed upon all men, for all have sinned ; and our apprehensions and alarms concerning death still constitute a large portion of human misery. But he has mitigated the great severity of the sentence; he hath rendered the punishment of a temporary nature. To the faithful, death is converted into a sleep, and they expect to awake to a state of permanent bliss.
* See Note H.
Enquiry into the purposes for which a redemption
from the penalty of death has been obtained.
"Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive."* “ For we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in the body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”+ Thus, although the whole human race shall be restored to vitality, they will not all
* 1 Cor. xv. 21, 22.
+ 2 Cor. v. 10.