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ON SOME OF THE PRINCIPAL DOCTRINES OF THE
CHRISTIAN RELIGION.

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*:::::::: [T HE preceding view of the Christian religion is on the whole just and beautiful.

v."...'. Many readers indeed will question whether the author had an accurate knowledge of &c. or 31, the object of the Jewish law, and of the purposes which it was intended to serve in the To economy of grace; but to the private Christian this is a matter of comparatively little importance. The distinguishing doctrine of our religion, and that in which we must repose all our hopes of future happiness, is the redemption of man by the death and sacrifice of Christ on the cross; and yet there is no doctrine, which has given occasion to more numerous or more acrimonious controversies among those, who call themselves Christians. It has been questioned, whether the death of Jesus of Nazareth can be considered as in any sense an atonement for the sins of men; whether, if it be an atonement, he died for all men, or only for those, who shall be placed on his right hand at the judgment of the last day, and invited to take possession of the kingdom prepared for them from the beginning of the world; and what are the conditions—if there be any conditions, on which those, for whom he died, are to be justified, or reap all the benefits, for the obtaining of which he condescended to die for them. Our author has hardly entered at all into these controversies, or even stated the doctrine of redemption in such terms, as to furnish his readers with a clue to guide them through the labyrinth, in which, if they be conversant with the systems of the different sects of Christians, they must feel themselves to be in some degree intangled. He has indeed said enough to direct in his duty, the plain man, who is an absolute stranger to these systems, and ready to receive the simple truth as it is in Jesus; but, in this age, there is no Christian who can read, or who is in the too general practice of “heaping to himself teachers, having itching ears,” who can be an absolute stranger to the different views of this great doctrine, which are everywhere obtruded on him by teachers presuming to be wise “ above that which is written.” I will endeavour to supply what our author has omitted; and as it appears to me that most of the controversies, which, on this great doctrine, divide the Church of Christ, have arisen from mens losing sight of the original purpose for which a Mediator was introduced between God and the human race, and then teaching, as separate and unconnected truths, propositions which are in reality dependant on each other, I will adopt a different method of procedure, and treat of redemption, regeneration, sanctification, and justification; as doctrines, which, though different in themselves, are so closely linked together, that they cannot be stated intelligibly but with reference to each other. The first thing to be done is to ascertain, Whether the death of Christ can be considered as, in any sense, a sacrifice or atonement for sin P But this, I think, could never have been made a question among those who admit the inspiration and authority of the New Testament, had not the doctrine of atonement and redemption been stated in terms to which the Sacred Scriptures give no countenance. We are expressly told by our Lord himself (a), that he came into the world “to give his life a ransom for many,” from Mauh. and by St Paul (b), that “he gave himself a ransom for all.” The same apostle says. o: elsewhere (c), that “when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for I. o.o. the ungodly;” that “ God commendeth his love towards us, in that while we were yet. o sinners Christ died for us;” that “when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by John xii. i. the death of his Son; and that we joy in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the end. we have now received the atonement,” or been taken into favour by an exchange of suf. To ferings (d). The same apostle assures us (e) that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ (312 ric droxvrfootwo ro, in Xfigro Inaco); whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation (lazaráfior) through faith in his blood;” and, in perfect harmony with him, St John says (f), that “ if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the propitiation (ix274%) for our sins; and not for ours, or for those of any particular class of men only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” The import of the words āroxvrfario, ixzoo, and iazaráfior is so perfectly ascertained, that there can be no doubt whatever, but that, according to the doctrine of St Paul and St John, the death of Christ was an expiatory sacrifice, and that he suffered for the sins of men—the just for the unjust, the righteous for the wicked. But is it not unjust to punish the innocent for the guilty? and can we believe that an act of injustice makes an essential part of any dispensation of God to man 2 We certainly cannot believe any such thing ; for God is not only just, but merciful, and no act of injustice was ever approved by him. To punish an innocent person for the guilty, were it possible to do so, would indeed be unjust; but this is not possible, for the very notion of punishment involves in it the sufferer's consciousness of guilt; and as our Saviour was conscious of no such thing, it can with no propriety be said that he was punished in our stead. He suffered indeed in our stead, and his sufferings made atonement for our sins, reconciled us to God, and opened again the kingdom of heaven, which had been shut against every individual of the human race. That there is no injustice in this, nor ...i. difficult to be believed, will be evident, I think, when we have duly considered the purpose for which Christ was first promised to fallen man, and in due time “made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, . and was made in the likeness of men, and being found in fashion as a man, humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Now, the apostle assures us, that the purpose for which he submitted to all this, was, “that through death he might destroy him, who had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them, who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage (g).” How the devil came to have the power of death, and what is meant by that death which he brought upon the first pair, and, through them, on all their posterity, I have endeavoured elsewhere to shew (h); and as the promise of redemption was first made on that occasion, just before the merciful God pronounced sentence on the guilty pair, there can be no doubt but that the promise implied future deliverance from that death, to which he was then about to doom them. To our first parents it could not be supposed to imply any thing more; for they were not aware of having incurred any other penalty. But surely there is nothing unjust or unreasonable in the Judge of all the earth accepting of the temporary death of one man, in order to prevent the eternal death or everlasting extinction of the whole human race. How many great commanders have exposed part of their armies to inevitable destruction, when no other means were left to them of preserving the remainder or of ensuring victory? And how often have the

(a) St Matt. xx. 28. Mark x. 45. (b) I Tim, ii. 6. ... (c) Romans v. 6–12. (d) See Schleusner on the words zarzazay? waraxxaaza. (e) Rom. iii. 23–26. (f) I John ii. 1, 2. (g) Heb. ii. 14, I5. (h) Vol. i. of this Work, Appendix to Dissertation iii.

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leaders of those detachments marched bravely to their posts, aware, all the while, that they were doomed to destruction for the preservation of their country? No man ever

vulg. Ær.33, thought that there was injustice in such conduct, or condemned the commander-in-chief

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for ordering, in such circumstances, a detachment on so forlorn a hope, or the comman-
der of the detachment for obeying his superior. No man ever condemned an indivi-
dual for devoting himself to certain death for the deliverance of his country. When
Eustace de St Pierre and his six heroic companions gave themselves up at the siege of
Calais, for the safety of their townsmen, (a) they were not considered as self-murderers;
nor was the governor of the place condemned as unjust for permiting such a sacrifice
for the deliverance of those who were entrusted to his care, and whom he could, by no
other means, preserve from indiscriminate destruction. That Samson was guilty of no-
thing wrong or unjust, when he overthrew the temple of Dagon on the enemies of his
country, though he was perfectly aware that he was to involve himself in the same ruin
with them, is placed beyond all controversy, by his being endowed with supernatural
strength to perform that exploit; and no man who has reflected seriously on the history
of that judge of Israel, ever ranked his last exploit among his many imprudencies. On
the contrary, such conduct, wherever it has been necessary, has been applauded by all
men ; and why should the perverseness of infidelity suppose that there was any thing
unjust or unreasonable in the Son of God's taking upon him human nature, that by dy-
ing in that nature for a time, he might redeem the whole race from death eternal, or
utter extinction ?
Our Saviour is nowhere said to have been punished for Adam's sin; nor indeed are
we punished for it, though in consequence of his fall we are doomed to a temporary, as
we should have been to eternal death, but for the interposition of the second Adam. It
was not of any thing due to us by nature, or which we could have merited of God as
wages for our services, that we were deprived by the apostacy (for such it was) of our
first parents, but of a free gift, which, when once forfeited, might have been restored on
any condition that should seem fittest to the All-wise and All-powerful Author of the
gift. It might, indeed, for any thing that we can conceive to the contrary, have been
restored without any condition at all, had man been the only free and moral agent a-
mong all the creatures of God. But man is not the only moral agent among the crea-
tures of God; and therefore some atonement may have been, and undoubtedly was, ne-
cessary, as a warning, to such of them as had not yet fallen, that though God's mercies
are infinite and over all his works, he will yet by some means or other enforce obedience
to all his laws—positive as well as moral. Hence it seems to be, that St Paul repre-
sents one object of the preaching “ of the unsearchable riches of Christ” to have been,
that “ unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be made known
(yropico) by the church, the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose,
which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord (b).”
That Christ died, therefore, to restore mankind to that life, which had been forfeited by
the fall of Adam, is as certain as that the Scriptures of the New Testament are the
word of God; and since we are assured (c) that “as by man came death, by man came
also the resurrection of the dead; and that as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall
all be made alive,” it is equally certain that he died for all men without exception. For,
as St Paul informs Timothy, (d) “there is one God, and one Mediator between God
and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom (3rriavtfor) for ALL, to be
testified in due time.”
That this last clause—to be testified in due time—refers to the resurrection of the dead,
I am decidedly of opinion; but as the generality of commentators think otherwise, I

(a) Hume's History of England, chap. xv. (b) Eph. iii. 10, 11. See Whitby on the place, and Dr Nares's ingenious work, entitled Ei, 9%; ; Eis Mizoros. (c) 1 Cor. xv. 21, 22. (d) 1 Tim. ii. 5, 6. l

have no occasion to insist upon it, because the same apostle elsewhere (a) teaches, in From Matth. the plainest terms, that the resurrection of the body will alone complete the redemp- ...'...'. tion of man. “For I reckon (says he) that the sufferings of this present time are not 15, to the end, worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest."...a expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the John ii is to creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath” “ subjected the same in hope; because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption, into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.” That the word xrials, here translated creature and creation, means only the rational part of the creation, and once, more especially the Gentiles and unbelieving Jews as distinguished from the Christians, is evident from the general sense of the whole passage, as well as from the use of the word elsewhere in the New Testament *. It was only the rational part of the creation, and indeed only the Christians, that could compare the sufferings of the present time with the glory which was to be revealed in them. They were the Christians alone that earnestly expected, and patiently waited for the * manifestation of the sons of God. It is the rational part of the creation alone that can be delivered from the bondage of corruption, into the glorious liberty of the children of God; and it can be only of the Gentiles and unbelieving Jews, together with the Christians, that the apostle is speaking, when he says, that “not only they, but ourselves also, even we ourselves, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, &c.” But the question is, What are the vanity and corruption, to which mankind are here said to have been made subject, and from which they are at some time to be delivered into the glorious liberty of the children of God? To this question two answers have been given, though, when considered in connection with the context, it seems to me to admit of but one. Several modern divines of very considerable eminence think, that the vanity to which the creature was made subject, and the pain and corruption under which the whole creation groaned, were the impious doctrines and immoral practices of the heathen world; and in support of this opinion they appeal to those texts in the Psalms and other books of Holy Scripture, in which the idolatrous worship of the Gentiles is called vanity and lying vanities. Now, it cannot be denied that the Psalmist (b) calls idolaters “such as love vanity, and lift up their souls unto vanity;” that he expresses his contempt and abhorrence of the divinations and oracles of the heathen, by calling them “ lying vanities;” or that God himself gives this designation to the idolatries of the Israelites, when he says, (c) “They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities.” It does not, however, follow from all this, that vanity has no other signification in Scripture than the idolatrous practices of the heathen, or the frequent apostacies of the Jews; and it cannot possibly have that signification here. The apostle says expressly, that the creature was made subject to the vanity of which he is speaking, not willingly (jux wooza—not of his own accord or by himself), “but by him who hath subjected the same under (d) hope,” (3.2 rer Jororažarra iw' in rid). Who

(a) Rom. viii. 18, &c. * See St Mark xv. 15. Coloss. i. 23.; Schleusner on the word triviz, and Lightfoot's Horae Hebraicae in Evangelium Marci. Oper. tom. ii. p. 468. ed. Roterod. 1686. (b) Psal. iv. 2. xxiv. 4. and xxxi. 6. (c) Deut. xxxii. 21. (d) See Schleusner on

the word iri,

A. M. 4031, subjected the creature to idolatry? Certainly not God, but the devil. But what

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were the hopes held out to that creature as a motive to desert the service of his Ma

vulg. Er. 33, ker, and worship impure spirits and dumb idols 2 It is evident, from the whole strain

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of the passage. that the hope held out to the creature, when first subjected to this va-
nity, was, that he should in due time be delivered from it. But did the devil or his a-
gents, when first tempting man to idolatry, enforce the temptation, by informing him
that he should be subjected to that vanity only for a time 2 Reasoning like this will
not be found in the number of “Satan's devices.” Besides, the same apostle, in this
very epistle, assures us that mankind were subjected to idolatry and all its impure prac-
tices by themselves and not by another; “for the invisible things of God (says he) (a)
from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that
are made, even his eternal power and Godhead, so that they (the Gentiles) are without
excuse; because, that when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither
were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was dark-
ened. Professing themselves wise, they became fools; and changed the glory of the
uncorruptible God into an image like to corruptible man, and to birds and four-footed
beasts and creeping things.-And as they did not like to retain God in their know-
ledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not con-
venient.”
It is impossible therefore that by the vanity to which the creature was made subject,
not willingly; that by the bondage of corruption from which that creature is to be deliver-
ed into the glorious liberty of the children of God; or that by the pain under which the
whole creation groaned, St Paul could mean the idol worship or impure practices of the
heathen ; because he had expressly said, in the beginning of the epistle, that to these
things the heathen had willingly subjected themselves. Besides, the apostle represents,
not the heathen world only and the unbelieving Jews, but also himself and the Chris-
tian converts at Rome—even the whole rational creation as “groaning within them-
selves in pain, and waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of their bodies.”
Were St Paul and the Christian converts, who had the first fruits of the Spirit, groan-
ing within themselves under the burden of idolatry, or wallowing in the impurities of
its worship 2 If this was the vanity and corruption to which the whole creation is here said
to have been made subject, why should the Christians of Rome he waiting with earnest
expectation (gröexogiro) for the redemption of the body as the means of being “deli-
vered from it into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” The seat of idolatry
and of every other moral corruption—whether-innate or acquired—is the mind ra-
ther than the body; and those who shall not be delivered from such corruptions before
the ressurection of the dead, will have no cause to look forward with earnest expecta-
tion to the approach of that awful event.
This interpretation of the passage therefore, fraught as it is with contradictions and
absurdities, must be rejected. It is likewise perfectly modern as well as contradictory;
for all the ancient commentators of any eminence, as Whitby has completely proved (b),
considered death, and the dread of death, as that vanity, corruption, and pain, under
which the whole creation groaned, or had cause to groan, before life and immortality
were brought to light by the Gospel of Christ.
That the preearious tenure of human life, and the certain prospect of death, are, in
the Scriptures of the Old Testament, often called vanity, must be known to every man,
who has read his Bible with however little attention. Thus, the Psalmist, meditatin
on the shortness of human life, and the certainty of death, says, “Behold, thou hast
made my days as an hand-breadth, and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily, every
man at his best state is altogether vanity;" and again, “Man is like to vanity, his days

(a) Rom. i. 20, &c. (b) See his valuable notes on the passage,

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