Page images

ran to him, fell upon his neck, and kissed him, Luke xv. 20. The same representation we see in the parable of the creditor, who freely forgave his servant, because he humbly desired him. Let us not then, my brethren, deprive the ever-blessed God of the most glorious and honourable of all his attributes, and leave him nothing but justice, or rather vengeance, which is expressly faid to be his strange work, Isaiah xxviii. 21.

It is impoffible to reconcile the doctrine of the satisfaction for fin by the death of Christ, with the doctrine of free grace, which, according to the uniform tenor of the scriptures, is so fully displayed in the pardon of sin, and the justification of finners. When, therefore, the apostle Paul says, Rom. iii. 24. That we are justified freely by the grace of God, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, the latter claufe must be interpreted in such a manner as to make it confiftent with the former; and it is far from requiring any force or straining of the text to do it. For it is only necessary to fuppose that our redemption (or, as the word properly signifies, and and is indeed frequently rendered by our translators, our deliverance) from the power of fin, i.e. our repentance and reformation, without which there is no promise of pardon, is effected by the gospel of Jesus Christ, who came to call finners to repentance; 'but ftill God is to be considered as the giver, and not the receiver, with respect to our redemption ; for we read


that he spared not his own son, but gave him up for us all. Rom. viii. 32.

To say that God the Father provided an atonement for his own offended justice is, in fact, to give up the doctrine. If a person owe me a sum of money, and , I chuse to have the debt discharged, is it not the same thing, whether I remit the debt at once, or fupply another person with money wherewith to pay me in the debtor's name? If satisfaction be made to any purpose, it must be in some manner, in which the offender may be a sufferer, and the offended person a gainer ; but it can never be reconciled to equity, or answer any good purpose whatever, to make the innoceni fuffer the punishment of the guilty. If, as Abraham fys, it be far from God to pay the righerous with the wicked, and that the righteous should be as the wicked, Gen. xviii. 25. much farther must it be from him to Play the righteous instead of the wicked.

I wish the zealous advocates for this doctrine would consider, that if it be necessary, in the nature of things, that the justice of God be fatisfied before any sin can be pardoned, and Christ be God as well as the Father, whether the justice of Christ ought not to have been satisfied in the first place. If so, what other infinite being has made satisfaction to him? But if the divine nature of the son required no satisfaction, why should the divine nature of the Father require


If it had been inconsistent with the divine juftice to pardon fin upon repentance only, without some farther satisfaction, we might have expected to have found it expressly said to be so in the scriptures ; but no such declaration can be produced either from the Old or the New Testament. All that can be pretended is, that it may be inferred from it. Though good works are recommended to us in the strongest manner, it is never with any salvo or caution, as if they were not of themselves acceptable to God. The declarations of the divine mercy to the penitent are all absolute, without the most distant hint of their having a reference to any confideration on which they are made. Thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive Psalm lxxxiv. 5. To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him, Dan, ix. 3. When David and other penitents confess their sins, and entreat for pardon, they refer themselves to the divine mercy only, without seeming to have the least idea of any thing farther. Remember not the fins of my youth, nor my transgressions ; according to thy mercy remember thou me, for thy goodness-fake, O Lord. Pfalm xxv. 6.

It is particularly remarkable, that when sacrifices under the law are expressly faid not to be sufficient for the pardon of sin, we are never referred to any more availing sacrifice; but to good works only. Thou deforest not sacrifice, elle would I give it; thou delightest not in burnt-offering. The facrifices of the Lord are a C3




troken fpirit. A broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. Psalm li, 16, 17. If any of the jews. had had the least notion of the necessity of any atonement for the fins of mankind, they could not but have expected a suffering Mejiah; and yet it is plain that the very best of them had no fuch idea. And though our faviour frequently explains the reason of his coming, and the necessity of his suffering, it is never on any such account. If he had done it any where, it might have been expected in those difcourses by which he endeavoured to reconcile his disciples to his death, in his solemn prayer before his sufferings, at the time of his agony in the garden, or when he was upon the crofs; yet nothing of this kind drops from him on any of these occasions.

When our Lord describes the proceedings of the day of judgment, he doth not represent the righteous as referring themselves to the fufferings or merit of their judge for their justification; and the judge himself expressly grounds it on their good works only. Though Peter, in his discourse to the jews on the day of Pentecost, speaks of their fin in murdering Christ as of a heinous nature, he says not a word of the necessity of any atonement, or that an ample fatisfaction had just been made, by means of their very wickedness. How would a modern divine have harangued upon the occasion, and what advantage might he have taken of the cry of the jews; his blood be upon us, and upon our children? But Peter

: only

only exhorts to repentance, and speaks of the death of Christ as an event that took place according to the fore-knowledge of God.

All the discourses of Paul upon various occasions in the book of Acts are entirely moral. In his celebrated speech at Athens, he only urges his hearers to repentance, from the confideration of a future judgment. He says not a word of what is now called the true gospel of Jesus Christ. In short, it is only from the literal interpretation of a few figurative expreffions in the scriptures that this doctrine of atonement, as well as that of tranfubftantiation, has been derived; and itis certainly a doctrine highly injurious to God: and if we, who are commanded to imitate God,

should act upon the maxims of it, it would be subver· five of the most amiable part of virtue in men. We

fhould be implacable and unmerciful, insisting upon the uttermoft farthing.

These, my brethren, are the principal heads on which I proposed to expostulate with you, in the plain and free manner in which I have done. Do you yourselves, search the scriptures and see whether these things be fo. Pray to the God of truth to lead you into all truth, and may be give you understanding in all things.


[ocr errors]


« PreviousContinue »