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and ready to be executed, is often procured by the aid of others who bear a share of these calamities, though they had no hand in the guilt that occafioned them. Inftances of these, and fuch like difpenfations of Providence, render the doctrines of the atonement and fatisfaction of Jefus, as they are revealed in fcripture, very credible to men of an attentive and humble difpofition of mind. We can never, my brethren, think with too much reverence, and judge with too much caution upon fubjects of this nature; and nothing can be more abfurd than that a creature like man, instead of attending to facts and obfervations, in order to form his opinions, fhould rely upon the combinations of his own imagination, and adopt these as the dictates of reafon and of truth. I have no intention of entering upon a full discussion of these subjects. To the obfervations now made, and the texts of scripture already produced, I fhall only add the following:
The apoftles declare in their epiftles, that while we were yet finners, Chrift died for us,
and that we are reconciled to God by the death of his Son; Chrift is the propitiation, not for our fins only, but for the fins of the whole world. Can it be expreffed more clearly that the great purpose of the death of Chrift was to expiate our offences, and to reconcile the Almighty to us his offending creatures? Whenever we attempt to explain things of this kind too particularly, we are in very great danger of running into error, by reckoning the objects, the manner, the ends, and the means of the divine government, too much alike to thofe of human governments, though there certainly is an infinite difference. By affifting the imagination to form diftinct conceptions of the counsels and designs of Omnipotence, we are apt to confound the conceptions that are fuitable to the Supreme Being, with those which man may be supposed to entertain in fimilar circumstances. Unguarded expreffions have been used, as if the Divinity could be capable of revenge, implacability, weakness; all which are certainly far removed from him, and which it never was the design of thofe very men, who used the expreffions
expreffions, to ascribe to him. But to all my ideas of goodness, of justice, of mercy, it appears nowife contradictory to fay, that in that great and extenfive fcheme of divine Providence which is carrying on in the world, and of which the wifeft of the fons of men fees but a very fmall part, it became fit and neceffary, perhaps unavoidable, that an extraordinary degree of fuffering should befall an innocent perfon, who, by his voluntary fubmiffion to it, fhould rectify a number of thofe diforders which were introduced into the world, and by conciliating the Supreme Being should thus prevent its final deftruction.
As, therefore, my brethren, the expiation of fin, and the reconciliation of men to an offended God, were the principal parts of that plan which our Saviour was to execute upon earth; and as the affurance of the completion of it could not fail to afford the highest comfort and joy to his followers; he, agreeably to the general benevolence of his nature, and the attention he ever paid to the great ends of his miffion, regardless of the pain and anguish he endured, and folely intent upon what was great and becoming,
just before he refigned his foul, proclaimed aloud, It is finifhed.
Having thus taken notice of the different explications of which thefe laft words of our Saviour are capable, let us confider the peculiar light in which this discovers his character to us.
What has been now faid, may serve to give us a view of the death of Christ somewhat different from that in which it is commonly confidered, but not lefs interefting. According to the general conftitution of the human frame, and the connexion between the foul and the body, it is impoffible, by any mere effort of our own, and without fome violence, to feparate the one from the other. There is also a certain degree of pain and fuffering which unavoidably produces this diffolution, and which no inclination nor defire of the individual can prevent. These are eftablifhed laws, to which, in general, all the fons of Adam must bow. But with respect to our Saviour, it does not appear that they took place. He had that power over the connexion which fubfifted between his foul and his body, that at any period he could have diffolved it, without the intervention
any ordinary means. On the other hand, he could have prevented any of the ordinary means which take away life from being used against him; or, when they were used, he could have been above their efficacy. The magnanimity then of our Saviour's life and death appears in this, that as long as the purposes of divine Providence required it, he endured the most excruciating and intolerable pains, though it was in his power to quit that veil of humanity which fubjected him to them; and that as foon as the moment was come, when the will of Heaven was fulfilled, he at once diffolved that connexion which, according to the counfels of that will, and on account of a most generous love for a perishing world, he had fo long preferved. Thus he speaks always of laying down his own life; and exprefsly fays, No man taketh my life from me, but I lay it down, and I have power to take it again.
The Jews fent out an armed force against him, and affaulted him as a common malefactor. He could have refcued himself by his own power, or called for legions of an