Слике страница

for sin. Thus was the saviour rendered amenable to all the consequences of sin. For first he underwent natural death upon the cross, where the separation of his soul and body was accomplished in the sight of the world and secondly to his participation in that other consequence of sin, which consists in the separation of the soul from God, he himself bore testimony, when in the midst of his last agony he exclaimed- My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?' Nevertheless all this he underwent without any actual participation in those offences, which were imputed to him. He suffered, the just for the unjust: and therefore, when the threatened penalty had been sustained, the father declared himself satisfied. He raised him from the grave, thereby putting an end to the separation of his soul and body; and he exalted him to his own right hand, thereby putting a visible end, as he had long before put an actual end, to the forced and temporary separation of his soul from God: and hence, when the consequences of sin had all been exhausted by our substitute and representative, a door


was opened for the restoration of those, for whom he suffered.

Yet, though this is the obvious and direct meaning of the several texts, which have been mentioned, and of every other, in which the actual suffering of our lord for sin is mentioned in scripture, there is an obstacle to the reception of the doctrine, which naturally presents itself to our minds, because it is not obvious, how the justice of the lord can be said to be satisfied in thus punishing the innocent instead of the guilty and I will freely admit, that this is an obstacle, which needs to be removed, because the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our sins is adduced in scripture, as an illustration of the justice of God. For example, God is said in the twenty-fifth and twenty-sixth verses of the third chapter to the Romans to have set forth Christ Jesus, to be a propitiation through faith in his blood for the remission of sins, that so he might be just, while yet he is the justifier of some, who are sinners. There ought therefore to be nothing actually repugnant to our natural notions of justice,

when honestly consulted, in the arrangement, which is thus propounded, as the grand remedy for human ungodliness and disobedience.

Now it cannot be denied, that if it could be supposed, that, when one man of the whole human race alone had fulfilled the law of his creator, God had arbitrarily selected that individual to bear the punishment of human guilt, and had then remitted the punishment of the remainder, the justice of God would be so far from being satisfied by that substitution, that it would be outraged by it. Nor yet, though the individual in question had voluntarily offered himself to that treatment, and desired to suffer, the innocent for the guilty, does it seem consonant to our natural notions of equity to accept the offer. Accordingly, when Moses was so far moved by the danger of his people in consequence of their transgressions, that he actually interceded with the lord on their behalf, praying to him with impassioned earnestness, that, if he would not otherwise forgive their sin, he would blot him out of his book, which he had written, the only answer he received was this- Who

'soever hath sinned against me, him will I 'blot out of my book.' In fact every created being owes to his creator all the obedience and service, of which his nature is capable; and therefore to transfer the guilt of a sinful creature to one, who is sinless, is a deviation from exact and impartial dealing, which cannot fitly be ascribed to the holy governor of the universe. Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?

It is necessary therefore to bring forward another truth, in order to display the equity as well as mercy of this procedure. He, on whom the iniquity of all mankind was laid, was himself not a mere man. He was God and man, or, as saint Paul describes him with marvellous propriety, God, manifest in the flesh. Saint John accordingly begins his gospel with that solemn announcement, that in the beginning was the word, or son of God, and the word was with God, and the word was God; and the word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.

This consideration alters the whole character of the proceeding. The son of God, who was

in no respect subject to the law, which was enacted for our guidance, chose of his own free bounty to become subject to it, that he might redeem us from its curse: and the eternal father himself consented to give him up, that he might accomplish a redemption, to which none, but himself, was equal. The honour of the law required in the first place a perfect obedience to its enactments; and in the second place, having been broken, it required an entire submission to its penalty; and to both these demands the saviour consented. Thus did he, according to his prediction in the twenty-first verse of the forty-second chapter of Isaiah, magnify the law, and make it honorable. He chose to do all, that it became us to do, before we had fallen, and to suffer all, that it became us to suffer, after we had fallen, and thus in both respects, though in no way bound by it, to exhibit a perfect and living example of what the law of God requires from his creatures. Hence, though the lord did indeed lay upon the guiltless the iniquity of the guilty, he did not substitute one creature for another,

« ПретходнаНастави »