Page images
PDF
EPUB

I have now examined all the modes of expression, and most of the leading texts in the N. T., which are generally thought to countenance the doctrines which I oppose, as unscriptural, injurious to the divine character, and baneful in their moral tendency. I am able to discover nothing in the slightest degree inconsistent with those delightful representations of the mercy of God, which I have quoted, or referred to, in the preceding pages; and I do not hesitate, therefore, in declaring, as my full and firm conviction, that the death of Christ made no change in the divine purposes, dispositions, or dealings towards mankind, further than as it tended, (by operating as a powerful motive on the welldisposed mind, and by assuring the most important promises and declarations,) to render men fit to receive the blessings which he was sent to offer.I now hasten to conclude, by stating a few observations, principally derived from Sykes, H. Taylor, and Ludlam,-writers who were not Unitarians.

(1) Though I consider the term atonement, at. one-ment, as really corresponding to reconciliation, I cannot refuse assent to the opinion of Sykes, that it ought not to be used respecting the purposes of our Saviour's death, since it is not the language of Scripture, and the substitution of one word for another is too apt to mislead the most wary. (Script. Doctr. p. 347.) The word atonement is used once only in the Public Version of the N. T. (Rom. v. U), and then as the translation of καταλλαγη, which is elsewhere rightly translated reconciliation, as it ought to have been here.

(2) Satisfaction is a word never once used in Scripture. It was without doubt well-pleasing to

[ocr errors]

Concluding Observations.

343 God, and in that sense a satisfaction to Him, that Christ loved us and gave himself for us as an offering and sacrifice of a sweet-smelling savour, Eph. v. 2 ; and God manifested His good pleasure, in rewarding him for it. But punishment is so far from being a satisfaction to Him, that He calls it His strange work, Is. xxviii. 21. And the punishment of an innocent person must be an abomination in his sight: nothing can be a satisfaction to God, but righteousness." Taylor's Ben Mordecai, Lett. VI.

(3) Grotius, Stillingfeet, and other learned men assert, that “there is a necessity of God's vindi“cating his honour to the world, upon the breach " of his laws; if not by the suffering of the offenders " themselves, yet by the suffering of the Son of God, as a sacrifice for the expiation of sin, by

undergoing the punishment of our iniquities : " which," says H. Taylor, " appears to me the same thing as to assert, that God is not able to forgive sins, tupeay, freely." Gale goes still further, and asserts, “ that God is uurder a necessity of punishing sin, without a satisfaction: and he

were inevitably unjust if he did not punish it." " From whence, then,” continues Taylor, “ does this new invented necessity arise, which limits and restrains the absolute right and free mercies of God? Is it a doctrine of Scripture?" By no means: the Old and New Tessament are ignorant of it. Hear what Isaiah (xliii. 25,) says, 'I, even I, am he, saith the Lord, that blotteth out thy transgressions FOR MINE OWN SAKE, and will not remember thy sins:' and again, (ch. 1.2,) 'Is my arın shortened at all, that it cannot redeem? or have I no power to

deliver?' And the N. T. declares, that God forgives us FREELY : and there is not one text in either of them, that speaks of the sufferings of Christ as a punishment; or one that says, that they were intended to vindicate the authority of God's laws; much less mentions the necessity of such a vindication, and that God could not forgive sins without it. This is all human invention. Dr. Sykes says very truly,. When I look over every passagek that mentions the effect of Christ's death, or what he did, or why he suffered, I do not find the autho. rity of God's laws mentioned among them!. And can that be supposed an end of the sufferings of Christ, which is not once mentioned to us; at the same time, that we are immediately and directly concerned in it, and perhaps we only?' (Script. Doct. p. 352.)” Taylor's Ben Mordecai, Lett. V."

R“ The principal texts wherein the ends of Christ's sufferings and deaih are mentioned," are enumerated by Sykes, p. 402; and I shall here refer to them for the benefit of the reader. Matt. XX. 28. Ma k x. 45. John xii. 32. iii. 14, 15. 2 Cor. v. 15. Gal. i. 4. iii. 13. Eph. i. 7. Col. i. 14. Eph. v. 25--27. Col. i. 21, 22. Eph. ii. 14-16. 1 Thess. Rev. V. gic

V. 10.

1 Pet. ii., 24. Hebr. ii. 14, 15. ix. 15. 1 Pet. ii. 21.

1. In another part, (p.70,) Sykes says, “ It may justly seem accountable, that the sacred writers should never mention so inaterial a point, as God's sending His Son into the world, and letting him suffer in order to consult the bonour of His laws, or to vindicate His oun bonour, if that were the reason of Christ's sufferings. Now what is not even mentioned in Scripture as the reason of Christ's sufferings should not be asserted as a Scripture doctrine."

m“ Men may glean up scraps of Scripture," says Ludlam, " to suit any purpose,-compare the tenor of what is said by these writers with the tenor of what the Apostles say. We find nothing in their writings about Christ's being justly or

(4) The doctrines of satisfaction and vicarious. punishment render it requisite to suppose, 'as the advocates for them say, that “ he endured them as under the charge of guilt;” and they go further, and say, that "he was oppressed with innumerable and abominable crimes," that he had a painful sensation of them," and that he plainly became “ an object of God's wrath."'-After quoting these expressions from Hervey's Theron and Aspasio, and Venn's Complete Duty of Man, W. Ludlam continues, “ Here are EVANGELICAL PARA DOXBS enough-to solve one we create many. Thus we find perfect innocence and real guilt united in Christ. No consciousness of sin, yet a painful sensation of it.” “He offered himself to God without spot and without blemish; yet at that very time God beheld in him a deluge of iniquities. Lastly, he in whom God was well-pleased, was made the butt of His infinite indignation." Ludlam afterwards quotes some further representations from these writers, respecting the necessity of supposing that our guilt was imputed to Christ, in order to vindicate the justice of God. "And now," he adds, “what does this defence of God's justice amount to ? God, by an act of His irre. sistible power, makes Christ guilty of all the sinis of all believers in all ages. Then beholding in him a deluge of iniquities, God's anger is kindled. He truly punished; about imputation of sin, or a charge of guilt ; about standing in our law-place as a substitute, or obligation to punishment; about commutation of persons and penal satisfac: tion; yet all this is dignified by some with the title of EVAN GELICAL PRINCIPLES.” Ess, vol. I. p. 129.

smites with the sword of His vengeance for those very sins of which He Himself had made Christ to be guilty! and this is called a just displeasure in the Deity !" (See Ludlam's Essays, vol. I. p. 112. 115.)- Into such absurdities do men run, when they leave the simple statements of the Scriptures. According to these writers, our Saviour during his agony in Gethsemane was the object of God's wrath: “ God was now become INEXORABLE." What different views do we find in the N. T.

He was heard in that he feared,' or rather for his godly fear, ATO TYS. Evia belas,' saith the Writer to the Hebrews (ch. v.7): 'He died the Just for the unjust' saith the Apostle Peter (1 Ep. iii. 18): and our Lord himself says, I know that Thou hearest me ALWAYS;' and, For This my Father LOVETH me, because I lay down my life that I may receive it again.' (John xi. 42. X. 17.)

(5) The doctrities of satisfaction and vicarious punishment, followed to their just conclusions, destroy the force of Christian sanctions. Some would deny those conclusions; but others admit them. Hervey, as quoted by Ludlam (vol. I. p. 83,) says, “ The debt of penal suffering, and debt of perfect “ ebedience, are fully discharged by our divine

surety, so that we are no longer under the ne« cessity of obeying to obtain an exemption from « punishment." There is reason to fear that such baneful language is not unfrequently uttered from the pulpits of those who style themselves Evangelical preachers ; and it is at once obvious, that in so far as its influence is not checked by the plain and often repeated declaration of the Scriptures,-that

« PreviousContinue »