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he bore their griefs and carried their sorrows; he was compassed about with the pains of hell, While the scriptures authorize us to infer, that, the punishment was translated from the sinner to Christ ; they give us not the smallest intimation of any change in the nature of the punishment. But it is plain that when we say so, we mean to include only the essential parts of punishment, and not those circumstances with which it has but an accidental connection. Jesus could never feel that despair which is the constant attendant of the damned, which is a great aggravation of their misery, but which is the necessary consequence of their situation, and which arises from this cire cumstance, that their sufferings shall have no end. In like manner, it was not necessary that the sufferings of Christ should be eternal, because the eternal duration of the pains of hell does not arise from the punishment itself, but from the inability of the sufferer to discharge his debt, which prevents him from being released until he has paid the utmost farthing.
Secondly, Christ's atonement was infinite in value. This is evident, if we consider the infinite guilt of sin for which the atonement was
made, and the infinite dignity of the person who atoned. Among men, the degree of guilt increases in proportion to the dignity of the
person against whom the crime is committed. A crime committed against a private individual does not infer an equal degree of guilt with the same crime when committed against a public magistrate. By the same rule of judging, the guilt of sin which is committed against God, must be carried up to the height of his perfections. From this we conclude that it is infinite, that it's punishment is also infinite, and that nothing less than an infinite satisfaction could be accepted in its
Farther, as every action of an infinite being must be infinite, so likewise must the atonement of Christ be in whom the divine was united to the human nature. It was the blood of God which was shed upon the cross ; for the Apostle Paul says, Acts xx. 28, “ God hath purchased the church with his
own blood.” The reason of this manner of expression seems to be, that, as the union of the two natures was such as to constitute only one individual person, whatever is true or can be asserted concerning the human nature, is also true, and may be asserted concerning the
divine. In the striking language of some divines, the divine nature was the altar which gave an infinite worth and dignity to the sacrifice of the human nature which was offered
Thirdly, Christ's atonement was perfect and sufficient for the salvation of all those for whom it was designed. He suffered and obeyed till justice could demand no more.
This may be inferred from the infinite value of his atonement, and from it's being the same in substance with the punishment due to the sinner: for what satisfaction could be demanded
greater than what was infinite, or what right could there be to demand, after all that was owing had been paid ? This perfect sufficiency is also apparent from innumerable passages in scripture. In Heb. x. 14, we are told “that
by one offering of himself, Christ hath for ever perfected those who are sanctified :" And the same Apostle declares, Rom. viii. 1, " that there is now no condemnation to those “ who are in Christ Jesus. Why? because “ God, sending his own Son in the likeness of " sinful flesh, condemned sin in the flesh.” The perfection of Christ's atonement appears most evidently from his resurrection. By raising him from the dead, God declared himself satisfied with what he had done ; he accepted of it for an atonement : and, by so doing, he virtually justified all his followers.
Thus have we, in a few words, explained the nature and value of that atonement which Christ made for sin. As a scheme of salvation, very different from this, has of late
years become fashionable, it might not be thought unnecessary to prove that the doctrine which has been stated is the true doctrine of scripture, and to confute the objections brought against it by its adversaries. At present, however, I shall not enter upon this subject, which is highly intricate, and certainly somewhat foreign to this place, where men ought to be taught how to be virtuous and happy, and not how to dispute and distinguish ; but proceed to what is of more general utility, viz. to show the excellence of the doctrine of atonement by illustrating the important purposes which it is calculated to serve. This is the second head of discourse ; and we shall discuss it at another opportunity. At present, we conclude with observing, that though there were many difficulties and many things incomprehensible, (as there certainly are) in the doc
trine of atonement, we would still act a most irrational part in denying it's truth. We would consider that man as deluded by folly who should receive a pardon when he was about to suffer death, and yet should reject it, because he could not understand how it could be obtained, or could possibly be intended for him. But we are fools in a far greater degree, if on account of some learned subtilties, and metaphysical intricacies, we deny the truth of a doctrine which is pregnant with the most solid comfort and joy, though we have the plainest moral evidence for it's certainty ; a sort of evidence which, in every other case, is a sure light to our feet, and a lamp to our path.