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Were we to judge of this matter by what happens in the present life, we should be led to believe, that repentance will not, by itself, prevent the penal consequences of fin in the life to come. For when men ruin their fortunes by extravagance, or their health by excess in sensual indulgencies, it is well known, that repentance alone doth not remove these evil consequences of their follies and excesses. In like manner, when individuals incur the penalties of human laws, no wife governor finds it either reasonable in itself, or expedient for the good of the community, to free the criminal from the punishment which the wholesome laws of the state have annexed to such crimes, merely because he hath repented of them. The punishment of criminals is necessary to deter others from committing the like offences. Wherefore, if in the present life, repentance is never found of itself to remove the temporal evil consequences which God hath connected with vice; also if, men themselves being judges, repentance ought not to prevent the punishment of crimes injurious to society, what reason hath any person, from the present constitution of things, to expect that repentance of itself will prevent those penal consequences which God may have thought fit to annex to vice in the life to come ? Much more, what reason hath any one, from the present constitution of things, to expect that repentance and reformation will put the finner into the condition he would have been in, if he had always preserved his innocence ? The prevalence of propitiatory sacrifices in every age and country of the world, certainly fheweth it to be the general sense of mankind, that repentance is not of itself sufficient to procure the pardon of fin; but that something besides is necessary to induce the Deity to be propi. tious, even to the penitent linner.
I acknowledge, indeed, that the prevention of the bad con. sequences of vice, and the removal of these consequences when they happen, which in the present constitution of things, sometimes takes place through the timely assistance of others, affords a presumption, that the connection between fin and pu. nishment is not so rigid, but that in certain cases it may be broken. This presumption, however, goeth no farther than to afford a flight hope, that punishment, even in the life to come,
may possibly be avoided through some foreign assistance. But whether any such assistance be actually provided, and what that affistance is, and by whom it is to be afforded, cannot be known from the present constitution of things. It is God alone who can discover these things to us. Wherefore, if revelation teacheth that God hath been pleased through the vicarious fufferings of his son, to prevent those penal consequences from coming on finners in the future life, which in the original conftitution of things he hath connected with fin, these things should not be objected against because they are not discoverable by human reason. The only thing proper for us to do, is to enquire whether it be really a do&trine of revelation, that through the sufferings of Christ the penal consequences of sin are, in the life to come, to be prevented from coming on the finner, who having repented of his fins and reformed his conduct, is capable of being pardoned. And if, on enquiry, this is found to be a doctrine of revelation, “Our wisdom is," as Butler obferves, " thankfully to accept the benefit, by performing the conditions upon
which it is offered, without disputing how it was pro, 56 cured on the part
Sect. II. Shewing it to be a Doctrine of Revelation, that Christ
hath made atonement for the Sin of the World, by his Death.
That Christ hath made atonement for the sins of men by his sufferings and death, is revealed in all those passages of scripture, where his death is represented as a propitiatory sacrifice. For, since according to the ideas, which in every age and nation, mankind have entertained of propitiatory sacrifices, they were believed to have a real efficacy in procuring the pardon of fin, the scriptures, by calling Christ's death a sacrifice for fin, have declared it to have that efficacy; and have taught us to expect pardon, through the efficacy of that sacrifice.
To recite all the passages of the Jewish and Christian revela. tions, in which the sufferings and death of Christ are spoken of as a propitiatory sacrifice, and the pardon of fin is represented as owing to the efficacy of that sacrifice, would lengthen this essay beyond bounds. The following appear to be some of the
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principal passages, and therefore they merit the reader's attention, Isa. liii. 6. The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. -10. When thou shalt make his soul an offering for fin, he fall see his feed.---John i. 29. Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the son of the world.-Rom. iii. 25. Whom God hath set forth as a propitiation through faith in his blood, for a proof of his own righteousness in paling by the fins which were before committed through the forbearance of God: 26. For a proof also of his righteousness in the present time, in order that he may be juft, when justifying him who is of the faith of Jesus.-Rom. iv. 25. Who was delivered to death for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.—Gal. iii. 13. Christ hath bought us off from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us.--Ephes. i. 7. By whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of fins. Heb. ii. 14. Since then the children participate of flesh, and blood, even he in like manner partook of these, that through death he might render ineffectual him who had the power of death, that is, the devil. – Heb. ix. 25. Not however, that he should offer himself often, as the high-priet entereth into the holy places every year with other blood. 26. For then he must often have suffered since the for. mation of the world : but now once at the conclufion of the ages, he hath been manifested to abolish fin offering, by the facrifice of himself. 27. And for as much as it is appointed to men once to die, and after that the judgment; 28. So also Christ, being once offered in order to carry away the fins of many, will, to them who wait for him, appear a second time without fin-offering, in order to falvation.Heb. x. 10. By which will we are fanElified, through the offering of the body of Christ once.—1 Pet. iii. 18. For Christ also hath once suffered for fin, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us
These passages, with many others which might be mentioned, taken according to their plain meaning, in conjunction with what Christ said to his disciples, when he instituted his fupper, to prevent his death and the ends for which he died, from being forgotten in the world; namely, This is my blood of the new covenant which is shed for many for the remision of sins, Matth. xxvi. 28. I say, these passages teach us, That Christ's sufferings and death, have, as B. Butler expresses it, an efficacy additional to, and beyond mere infruction, example, and government.
To elude, however, the force of the argument, taken from the account given in the scriptures, of the end for which Christ suffered and died, some have affirmed,
First, That Christ's death is called a sacrifice for fin, not because it was really such a sacrifice, but merely in accommodation to the prejudices of mankind, who, from the beginning of the world, expected the pardon of their fins through the efficacy of sacrifice. To this the answer is, 1. We know, that Christ's death is not called a sacrifice for sin, in accommodation to the prejudices of the Jews, and in conformity to the Mofaic phraseology; but that the Mosaic phraseology was founded on the Levitical sacrifices being types or prefigurations of the facrifice of Christ. So we are assured, Fieb. viii. 5. These serve with a representation and shadow of heavenly things, since Mofes, when, about to construct the tabernacle, was admonished of God; see, now, faith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern which was thereed thee in the Mount. For from this it appears, That as the tabernacle which Moses finished was a copy of the tabernacle shewed to him on the mount, so the Levitical priesthood, which he appointed, was a type of the priesthood of Christ : and the service of the Levitical priests, which he appointed to be performed in the earthly tabernacle, agreeably to the pattern shewed to him in the mount, was a type of the service of Christ, as an high priest, in the heavenly holy places. The same thing appears from many other passages in the Epistle to the Hebrews. Wherefore, the death of Christ was not called by the inspired writers, a sacrifice for fin, in allusion to the Levitical Gin-offer. ings; but these were called facrifices for fin, because they were types or prefigurations of the real facrifice of Christ.
2. If, in the account which the inspired writers have given of Christ's death as a sacrifice for sin, they have not alluded to the Levitical sacrifices, it will readily be allowed, that they have far less alluded to the heathen facrifices. For these not being of divine institution, as the Levitical facrifices were, if the sacred writers have called Clirist's death a sacrifice for fin, in allusion to the heathen sacrifices, they have given to those superstitions an importance to which they were by no means intitled. Christ, in speaking of his blood as shed for the remission of fin, and his apostles, in ascribing to his death all the efficacy which Bb3
the sacrifices for sin were supposed, both by the Jews and Gentiles, to possess, have not exprefled what is true in fact, but only have accommodated their language to the ill-founded prejudices and hopes of mankind, they have deceived us in a matter of the greatest importance. And the Epistle to the Hebrews, which was written professedly to prove that Christ really offered himself a facrifice for fin, is a pernicious writing; because, by establishing a false fact, it hath led mankind to trust for the pardon of their fins to a lie.
Secondly, To destroy the argument by which Christ's death is proved to be a real facrifice for fin, taken from the account given of it in scripture, there are some who contend that it is called a sacrifice for fin, in a metaphorical sense only; because he died for the confirmation of his doctrine concerning the pardon of fin to be obtained through repentance, and as an example of patience and fortitude in suffering - for, righteousness fake, whereby his disciples are strongly excited to virtue. The
persons of whom I speak, fupposing, it seems, that to the pardon of a finner nothing is requisite but his repentance and reformation, affirm, that Chrik's death, by which the reformation and virtue of the world are so effectually promoted, may be called a sacrifice for the fin of the world in a metaphorical sense, with as much propriety as prayer, and praise, and almsgiving, are called sacrifices with which God is well-pleased. But not to insist on what is well known, that prayer, and praise, and almsgiving, äre nowhere called sacrifices for fin, I reply, 1. That if Christ's death hath no other efficacy in procuring pardon for finners, but by promoting their reformation and exciting them to virtue; the sufferings and death of any other prophet or martýr may with as much truth and propriety, as the sufferings and death of Christ, be called a facrifice for fin; and the salvation of penitents may as truly be ascribed to their sufferings and death, as to Christ's ; at least, in as far as their sufferings added weight to their doctrine; and in proportion to the influence which their doctrine, in conjunction with their example, hath had in exciting others to virtue. Yet, nowhere in scripture are the sufferings of any prophet or martyr, termed a sacrifice for the fin of the world; nor is the salvation of finners afcribed to any of them; nor are any of them called savicurs. In particular, the