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for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness,"—these are ideas and views which, though they pervade every part of the Bible, the modern school persistently reject.
Yet the greatness, the vastness, and the extreme difficulty of the undertaking, are all parts of one consistent whole. We cannot reject any one statement of the 53rd of Isaiah, without involving ourselves in a labyrinth of difficulties. The commonest question, with these theologians, is, “Why could not God forgive sinners merely of His own free grace and mercy ?” They thus try to re-judge His judgments, and be the God of God! But this is to conclude that God made an useless and unnecessary sacrifice! “He spared not His own son, but delivered him up for us all.” He“ bruised him, and put him to grief.” Why should He have done this, if it was easy for Him to issue a free pardon to mankind whenever He chose to do so ? Next, we are told, that the sacrifice of Christ upon the cross was intended merely to read man a lesson ; to exhibit a noble example of self-sacrifice; and to give a lively expression and manifestation of Divine goodness. But how much easier, and how much less costly, would it have been, to send some greater preacher and martyr than even St. Paul or St. John, if a “lesson,” an “example,” a “manifestation,” were all that was meant. Why should so vast, so “unspeakable a gift” have been made, to effect only what was within the scope of an apostle's or a martyr's powers ? No; the views of this great question which we find in Isaiah and St. Paul are consistent and intelligible; but the moment we depart from them, we find ourselves involved in a long series of difficulties.
The work done upon the Cross had been set forth, in its great distinguishing feature of a Substitution, a Propitiation, an Atoning Sacrifice, for four thousand years. It had been shown to Adam, in the death of the creatures-doubtless exhibiting “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. xüi. 8)-in whose skins he was clothed (Gen. iii. 21). His son Abel “ brought of the firstlings of the flock;" and this offering God approved. And now, as each servant of God appears in the sacred history, we always hear of an altar, and of burnt-offerings. The meaning, too, is explained to us. Death—the loss of life had been the penalty threatened for Adam's transgression : and it is soon observed that “the blood is the life” (Gen. ix. 4), and that “it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.” (Lev. xvii. 11.)
Blood, then, pays the penalty incurred; for “the blood is the life," and life was forfeited by Adam. This being the first principle laid down, from the earliest history of the father of the human race; we are now in a position to understand the language of all the apostles. Peter tells those to whom he wrote, that they were “not redeemed with corruptible things, such as silver and gold,—but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” (1 Pet. i. 19.) John, in his Epistles, writes, that “the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin.” (ch. i. 7.) And Paul exclaims, “Much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God!” (Heb. ix. 14.) So, too, had the Baptist recognized Him, by Divine teaching, as “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." (John i. 29.) And so, too, did the beloved Apostle, in his visions of heaven, see "a Lamb as it had been slain," and hear the song of the redeemed, “ Thou hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood.” (Rev. v. 9.) Thus, through the whole Bible runs the same strain; which our own Church has admirably drawn into one full, swelling chord, in that grand sentence :
“Almighty God our heavenly Father, who of thy tender mercy didst give thine only Son Jesus Christ to suffer death upon the Cross for our redemption; who made there (by his one oblation of himself once offered) a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world.”
But what light have we thrown upon the wonderful, the unseen, the tremendous sufferings of Gethsemane and Calvary? What new idea have we presented, what strange discovery have we made, of the nature of the internal pangs, the "horror of great darkness," the crushing weight, which forced from the soul of Jesus the “strong crying and tears ” (Heb. v. 7), of which the apostle speaks ?
None whatever. We never have had the presumption to imagine, for one single instant, that it remained to us to make clear, what multitudes of learned and pious expositors had left in darkness. All that it pleased God to reveal, had been told to the whole Church, long ago, in the Messianic Psalms, in Isaiah, and in the narratives of the Evangelists. To attempt to add one word to these, never was, for one moment, our purpose.
What, then, has been our aim ? It has been, simply and solely, to meet new and fresh assaults on Gospel truth, by new combinations of old facts and arguments. A multitude of preachers and writers are now coming forth, representing God as either asleep, or indifferent to the works of men. As of old, they cry, “How doth God know ? and is there knowledge in the Most High P” “Who seeth us? and who knoweth us?” “ The Lord seeth us not : the Lord hath forsaken the earth.” To all such we say, “ Seek ye out of the book of the Lord, and
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read.” Not one of God's prophets and apostles has failed to give repeated warnings, that "He will bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or whether
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Here, then, is an awful difficulty; here is a tremendous problem. Every man whose eyes have been opened, is soon forced to cry out with the Psalmist, “ Mine iniquities are gone over my head ; as an heavy burden, they are too heavy for me;" or with Job, “If I wash myself with snow-water, and make my hands never so clean ; yet shalt thou plunge me in the ditch, and mine own clothes shall abhor me."
How, then, shall man be just with God? And not one man only, or one thousand,-it is “a great multitude, which no man can number, of all nations, and kindreds, and peoples, and tongues" :-how shall all these be “washed and made white"? What mighty Seraph could have devised a way; or, how could the united strength of all the Thrones and Dominions, and Principalities and Powers of heaven have accomplished so mighty a work?
Yet, when He “looked and there was none to help, and when He wondered that there was none to uphold,” Jesus, the son of a poor maiden of Nazareth, took upon Him this task, which none of the archangels of heaven had dared to attempt ; He took upon Him to redeem and save a lost and ruined world. Who can rightly weigh and estimate the tremendous nature of the work, without seeing, that had the virgin's son been any. thing less than “the mighty God,” His undertaking would have been the wildest, the most insane thought that ever entered a human mind!
And this it is the greatness, the vastness of the work to be done—which supplies a key to the real character of those awful sufferings which rent, and crushed, and at last slew the holy, the sinless, and the long-enduring substitute for man.
But why should those sufferings have been so terrible, as we have already seen they were ? The answer is, because of the greatness of the undertaking, of which we have just now been speaking.
“Is, then, anything too hard for the Lord ?" No; but we must remember that Christ was human as well as Divine, and that it was His humanity which had to bear the weight of human sins; He was “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief," chiefly because “the Lord had laid upon Him the iniquity of us all.” The mind naturally recalls to recollection the expressive type given in Lev. xvi. : “Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, . . . . putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away .... into the wilderness; and the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited.”
But no type ever comes up to the full meaning of the “great mystery of godliness." Christ was not merely to bear and carry away the transgressions of His people :-He was “to make an end of sins, . ... and to bring in everlasting righteousness.” (Dan. ix. 24.) He “obtained eternal redemption for us." He “ransomed us,” “redeemed us," and “purged away our sins.” “By one offering He perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” These full and glowing expressions go far beyond the type of a “bearing away their iniquities into a land not inhabited.”
The two facts, then, must be taken together; that the guilt, the sins, of millions, were all made to meet upon the second Adam's head ;—the Lord “laying upon Him the iniquity of us all," and regarding him as the owner of all this enormous load of guilt : and that, so burdened, he did, in the space of a few short hours, endure the punishment due to all these transgressions, and “made a full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world.” Do not these two great truths, taken conjointly, fully account for, and supply the “Reason” for, the unspeakable sufferings borne by man's representative; of which we spoke in the second of these papers? And do we not entirely fail, if we look for, or hope to find, an explanation anywhere else?
The undertaking—the work to be done, in those few hours which we call “the Passion,” was great, prodigious, appalling; it filled the soul even of Jesus Himself with terror, and extorted the cry, “Oh! my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me!” With what unspeakable awe must angels have seen this conflict between nature's dread, and the holy resolution of the Son of God. The cup was not removed, but He was “strengthened.” He entered upon, and went through, the tremendous sufferings which could not be severed from the work; and was able, as His human nature sank, crushed, under the load, to utter at last those blessed words, “It is FINISHED !”
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LECKY'S HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. History of European Morals from Augustus to Charlemagne.
By W. E. H. Lecky, M.A. London : Longmans. 1869. We cannot help thinking that the title of this book is a misnomer. It might, with equal or more propriety, be termed a History of European Immorality. It is replete with details of the most loathsome character. We do not, however, find fault with Mr. Lecky for this. The subject which he has undertaken necessitates such discussion, and he has certainly not shrunk from it, but has waded sturdily through the miry way along which his course leads him. His volumes are free from that prurient sympathy with vice, which, in the pages of Gibbon, like the hollow strakes spreading through the house, indicates the leprosy fretting underneath. The fault we cannot help finding with him is, that in the most revolting portions of his book he maintains a serene impartiality between virtue and vice; nay, can find use and benefit in institutions which the word of God condemns with the severest reprobation. He quotes St. Augustine, but we cannot think that, in this matter, the mind which was in the Father was the mind which was in Christ Jesus; at any rate, in the use which Mr. Lecky has made of his words. In these volumes there is a large collection of anecdotes, illustrating the depravity of man in various ages and under various conditions of enlightenment and civilization. We think Mr. Lecky has forcibly demonstrated, although almost unconsciously, how utterly inadequate the philosophy of Greece permeating Rome was to produce any adequate impression upon the seething mass of moral degradation in which it flourished. Such philosophy may have furnished amusement, and afforded topics of discussion, to select coteries of intellectual men; and in individual—we had almost said, exceptional-cases may have influenced the formation of moral character; but we think it almost idle to imagine that, except in rare cases, they affected communities. Among the Greeks themselves, their theology, such as it was, and in particular the worship of Apollo, had, in our opinion, far more power upon their morality than the systems of their philosophers. We hear a good deal in Mr. Lecky of the “lex naturæ;" but even the instances quoted by him (Vol. i. pp. 320, 321,) go to prove how feeble its influence was ; indeed, if we are to credit him, “the condition of slaves greatly deteriorated” after it was broached; not, however, in consequence of the introduction of this conception of Greek philosophy into Roman law-for in theory it was amelioVol. 68.–No. 379.