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glorious a work than the production of ever so many masses of lifeless matter!
When we consider the nature of this work, and the things involved in it, we cannot hesitate to admit the peculiar importance attached to it in the Scriptures. In this work are involved, the creation of a new heart in man ;—the communication of divine knowledge ;—the adoption of man into the divine family ;-a perpetual presence with the souls of all who are created anew; -a continual communication of strength, patience, fortitude, peace, consolation, and hope; the preservation of the soul from the fatal influence of temptations, lust, and all other spiritual enemies; the final justification of the soul at the judgment, and its establishment in the possession of immortal life; together with, what will be the subject of the next head of discourse, the accomplishment of such a propitiation, as may be the proper source of all these wonderful consequences. He who admits these things to be included in the work of saving man, must admit also that there can be no Saviour beside Jehovah.
Should it be said, that all these things, except the last, are the work of the Holy Spirit, and that therefore they are here erroneously attributed to Christ; I answer, that they are indeed the work of the Holy Spirit ; but, notwithstanding this they are truly attributed to Christ, not only as he laid the foundation for them all, but as the Spirit acts not of himself, and only executes the pleasure of Christ under his commission.
This work, then, of saving man is in the Scriptures attributed to Christ in a manner so peculiar, that from it he derives his own appropriate name, Jesus Christ, the Anointed Saviour; and is considered by Jehovah as being so much greater and more glorious than the work of creating the Heavens and the Earth, that in comparison with it, that work. shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.
3. As the propitiation for sin, the Deity of Christ is the only ground of consistency in the scriptural exhibitions.
As I expect hereafter to discuss Christ's atonement for sin, as one of the great parts of the Christian system, I shall here omit every thing concerning this subject which is not necessary to the doctrine just now declared.
That Christ is in some sense a propitiation for the sins of the world,' cannot be denied, unless by a direct denial of the express words as well as the unquestionable doctrines of the Gospel. 1 John ii. 2. And he is the propitiation for our sins : and not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole world.' 1 John iv. 10. · He loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. See also Romans iii. 25.; Isaiah liji. 10, &c. The text also is a direct declaration of this doctrine. God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and of a sin-offering, or an offering for sin,' &c.
By Christ being a propitiation for sin, it is here necessary to mean only that something, which being done for the sinner, the sinner may be forgiven and restored; but which not being done, he must be punished according to the sentence of the law by which he is condemned. That so much as is here specified is included in Christ's being the propitiation for the sins of mankind, is unquestionably evident.
(1.) From the name by which it is called in the Scriptures in many instances, viz. amolutpeois, translated redemption. When a person was taken captive in war, and condemned to perpetual slavery or to death, a sum of money was not unfrequently paid and accepted for his ransom from these evils ; this sum was called Avapor; and the redemption of the captive from death or slavery, was called amourpwois. The redemption of mankind from the slavery of sin, and the everlasting death to which the sinner was exposed by it, is called by the same name. The autpor, or price of redemption, was paid, not by the captive, but by another person. The price of man's redemption, in like manner, was not paid by himself, but by Christ; that is, Christ accomplished something, without which man would not have been redeemed from the bondage of death and sin.
(2.) This truth is evident from Isaiah liï. 10. Yet it pleased Jehovah to crush him with affliction. If his soul shall make a propitiatory sacrifice, he shall see a seed which shall prolong their days; and the gracious purpose of Jehovah shall prosper
in his hands. Of the travail of his soul he shall see (the fruit) and be satisfied: by the knowledge of him shall my righteous servant justify many; for the punishment of their iniquities he shall bear. Therefore I will distribute to him
I the many for his portion; and the mighty people shall he share for his spoil: because he poured out his soul unto death ;
was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many; and made intercession for the transgressors.'
In this passage it is clear, that in the covenant of redemption, here recited, Jehovah promised to Christ, the seed which should prolong their days,' or be eternally blessed, a promise here repeated in many forms, on the condition that he made his soul a propitiatory sacrifice for sin.' It is therefore certain that if he had not made this sacrifice, he would not have received this reward; or, in other words, mankind would not have been saved.
(3.) The same truth is evident from Romans jii. 25, 26. • Christ Jesus ; whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation for sin, to declare his righteousness in the remission of sins that are past; that he might be just, and yet the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus.'
From this passage it is evident, that if God had not set forth Christ as a propitiation, his righteousness in the remission of sins that are past would not have been declared ; and that he would not have been just in the act of justifying believers. In other words, if Christ had not become a propitiation, the sins of mankind could not have been remitted, nor themselves justified.
In a former Discourse it has, I trust, been proved that, in the literal sense, by works of law no flesh can be justified before God;' and that the future obedience and the repentance of the sinner are alike and wholly unavailing to this end. Independently of Christ's redemption, therefore, or independently of his being the propitiation for the sins' of men, every sinner is condemned, lost, and without hope. The Scriptures in multiplied instances teach us that Christ became a propitiation for sin especially by his death. Isaiah liji. 5. · He was wounded for our transgressions ; he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him.' Romans v. 6. In due time Christ died for the ungodly.' 1 Cor. xv. 3. • Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures.' 2 Cor. v. 14. • One died for all.' 1 Thess. v. 10. • Who died for us, that we should live with him.' Col. i. 20. Having made
. peace through the blood of his cross.' 1 John i. 7. The blood of Christ cleanseth from all sin. 1 Peter i. 18, 19.
• Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, but with the precious blood of Christ. Rev. v. 9. • Thou hast redeemed us to God by thy blood.' More proofs of this point cannot be necessary. Let me now ask, if Christ be not in the strictest sense God, how is it possible that he should become in this or any other manner, a propitiation for the sins of mankind ? If Christ be merely a man, or in any other sense a mere creature, how is it possible that he should be able to perform any act which would not be absolutely necessary for his own justification before God? The law, by which every creature is governed, requires him to love God with all the heart, soul, strength, and understanding ;' or in other words, to consecrate all his powers supremely and absolutely, so long as he exists, to the service of God. More than this he cannot do ; and if all this be not done he is a sinner, and cannot be justified. How then can it be possible for him to perform any thing which can be accepted on the behalf of another? It is impossible that any service should be accepted for another which is entirely due for one's self. It is impossible that the debt due from another should be cancelled by my payment of money due for a debt of my own. When I have paid my own debts, if I can offer more money,
may then satisfy the creditor for the debt of another. The obedience which the law requires of me as my obedience, will satisfy the demands of the law on me, and prove the means of my justification ; but cannot be transferred from me to another subject of the same law, so as to answer the demands of the law on him. The law demands all his obedience of him, and all mine of me; but mine only being rendered, the demands of the law are not and cannot be satisfied.
Supererogatory service, or service not required by law, is absolutely necessary to the very existence of all vicarious interference. But no creature can possibly perform supererogatory service; because all that he can do is required of him by the law. Thus exceeding broad, in the scriptural language, 'is the commandment;' and thus it is impossible that any creature should become, in any sense, a propitiatiou for the sins of mankind.
To avoid this immovable difficulty, Dr. Priestley, and other Socinians, have denied wholly the doctrine of Christ's atonement; and in this denial have, at least in my view, acted in
the only manner consistent with the main part of their scheme, viz. that Christ is a mere man. But in this denial they have at the same time contradicted the main doctrine in the Christian system, after that of the existence of God. According to the scheme of these men, Christ came into the world, or was born, merely to be a prophet and example of righteousness, or a teacher of the will of God to mankind, and died only to bear witness to the truth of his precepts. In the same manner, Moses and all the succeeding prophets came into the world to be teachers and examples of truth and righteousness; and, in the same manner, Peter and Paul, both the Jameses, and almost all the other apostles, together with Stephen, and a host of martyrs who followed him, bore witness to the truth of the precepts which they taught, by voluntarily yielding themselves to death. All these persons taught the truth of God, and practised righteousness; and a multitude of them sealed their testimony with their blood. The only difference, according to the Socinian scheme, between Christ and them is, that he was wiser and better than they. Paul however taught more of the Gospel than Christ himself, and both Paul and Peter sealed the truth of their testimony on the cross. Of what
consequence then was the death of Christ to mankind, any more than that of Zechariah, Jeremiah, James, Peter, or Paul ? Each of these men died as a witness to the truth. Christ, according to Dr. Priestley, appeared in no other character in his death. All these men also taught the truth ; according to Dr. Priestley, Christ did no more. Each of these men was an eminent example of righteousness; according to Dr. Priestley, Christ was only a brighter example. With what meaning, then, can it be said, that God hath set forth Christ as a propitiation for the remission of sins ;' that Christ is said to be the propitiation for the sins of the world;' that his soul' is said to make a propitiatory sacrifice for sin ;' that he bare the sin of many ;' that we are justified and redeemed by his blood; that by himself he purged our sins;' that he made peace through the blood of the cross ;' that · he reconciled both Jews and Gentiles unto God in one body by the cross ;' that by his stripes we are healed ;' that • the chastisement of our peace was laid upon him ;' and that 'we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins ;' together with many other things of the same import,