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government as a king, and to his character as a father, and was likewise full of grace to the offender. The principle of substitution is recognized, owned, and acted upon, by every man in the world. It is only the application of substitution to "he offence of the cross,” that makes men stumble at it. Every victiin that has ever
a sacrificial altar, every trouble and expense which it has cost a father to relieve and forgive an offending son, every instance of kindness shewn to one for the sake of another, every instance of giving and taking hostages among nations, every honorable exercise of a government's clemency towards offenders at the intercession of worthy characters, recognizes the principle of substitution.
The persons who deny the substitution of the atonement of Christ, nevertheless, recognize the principle of it, by asserting that the repentance of the sinner is a sufficient reason for suspending his punishment; or, in other words, they assert that the repentance of the sinner is a satisfaction to the divine government, supplying to it an honorable ground for his acquittal; and as such, to be substituted instead of his punishment. The theology of this assertion is unscriptural and bad; but its testimony to the necessity, and to the propriety of some substitutionary satisfaction, is distinct and irrefragable.
What measure, then, does the scripture reveal as the great expedient substituted in moral government, instead of the punishment due to offending mankind? This is its testiinony; "All have sinned, and become short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God hath set forth to be the propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God: to declare I say at this time his righteousness, that he might be just and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.' “The Son of man came to give his life a ransom for many.” “Christ hath redeemed us
from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us. “Him that knew no sin, he hath made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." Rom. iii, 23–26. John xx, 28. Gal. iii, 13. 2 Cor.
The substitution of Christ was twofold, a substitution of his person instead of the offenders; and a substitution of his sufferings instead of their punishment. By this substitution is meant, a voluntary engagement to undergo for the ends of divine government, degradation, trouble, reproach, and sufferings, that the penalty threatened by the law may not be executed on the offenders. Such a substitution implies no transfer of moral character, no commutation of delinquency and responsibility; the nature of things makes such a transfer and commutation impossible. This substitution, also, excludes the idea of a literal infliction upon the substitute of the identical penalty due to the offender.
It is not sufficiently borne in mind that the substitution of Christ is a measure introduced by God as the public organ of moral government, on public grounds, and for public ends, and consequently did not need to admit of the infliction of the literal punishment. Had Pythias actually died for Damon, Pythias would have endured the identical penalty due to Damon. But except in the principle of substitution, this case is not analagous to the substitution of Christ for sinners. The case of Damon and Pythias was one of mere private friendship, and not at at all of public principle; consequently it is not a case in point to illustrate the atonement of Christ! Pythias did not substitute himself for Damon from any love to the government of Dionysius, nor from a wish to express his abhorrence of the offence of Damon. Had Pythias died, Damon would have loved and honored his friend, but he never would have honored the government; for he would claim his release as a matter of justice, and never beg it as a matter of grace.
After all he would hold the character of the king in utter contempt. The king did not admit of the substitution of Pythias from love to Damon, but from desire of revenge and thirst for blood; that if the offender himself did not suffer, he would have the sufferings of his nearest and dearest friend.
Such assuredly, is not the substitution of Christ instead of sinners. For though the scriptures represent the death of Christ to be fully and literally "in the room and instead" of others, as that of Pythias would have been, yet they never connect it with private feelings of attachment, but always with the public principle of government. The substitution of Christ is more like the substitution of the person and sufferings of Zaleucus instead of the total blindness of his son, which at once manifested his high regard for bis law and government, his abborrence of the offence, his love and mercy to-, wards the offender; while it also shewed how vain it was in any subject to expect to offend with impunity. In this substitution there was no interchange of character, no transfer of blameworthiness; the innocent was innocent still, the offender was offender still. Zaleucus was treated as if he had been the offender-but the character of his adulterous son was never his character. No one ever thought of calling him the adulterer; much less the greatest adulterer in the world. No: he knew no offence, though he was treated as if he had been an offender.
In this case the literal penalty was not executed upon the substitute. The letter of Zaleucus's law threatened total blindness, and this blindness is threatened only to the soul that sioned; yet in the substitution and sufferings of the father were found a sufficient satisfaction and atonement to the law without a literal infliction of the penalty. The substituted sufferings of the father preserved the spirit of the threatening, and were as much like it as was deemed suitable without being identical with it. It supplied safe grounds to the government for dispensing pardon. The substitute made a sufficient atonement to the law without suffering total blindness. So likewise, I think, the atonement of Christ did not consist in bearing the identical punishment threatened to the sinner. The letter of the law never could have reached the person of Christ with its penalty; for he had personally and in his representative character kept the whole law, and consequently was honorably entitled to the life which the law promised. Nor could the letter of the law have met him as the substitute in the offender's room; for such a substitute was beside and above the letter of the law.
Except in the mere article of dying-of separation between soul and body, there was scarcely any thing in the sufferings of Christ the same with the original penalty threatened in the law. In the sufferings of Christ there was no pang of remorse, no consciousness of demerit, no moral and eternal death, no execration of the authority that inflicted the pains. On the contrary, there was in bim a consciousness that he was JUST, and that the law did not curse him, and an assurance that God approved of him in his sufferings, as obeying his will, and doing his pleasure.
The hypothesis of a literal infliction of the penalty on the person of Christ destroys the benevolence and weakens the authority of the divine government. It supposes that the divine government would not admit of any diminution of misery, or any accession of happiness in the universe. It must have every iota and tittle of the misery incurred, whether by the person of the offender himself, or by his substitute. It supposes that the penalty cannot with justice be executed again on the offender himself, after it has been inflicted and exhausted on his substitute. Such views make the offender secure, presumptuous, and licentious. The substitutionary atonement of Christ does not abrogate a single claim of the law upon any sinner, until that sinner believes in Christ, and "walk not according to the flesh, but according to the spirit,"
The personal voluntariness of Christ.
To render a substitution valid, honorable, and efficacious, there must be free and perfect voluntariness in the substitute.
The atonement of Christ was to be an index to the whole operations and bearings of the mediatorial system; to point it out as a system adapted to reasonable, free, and voluntary intelligences. It was, in fact, to be a specimen of the voluntariness of the whole economy. “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might have it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command have I received of my Father.” John X, 17, 18.
Man was free and voluntary in the offence. God was free and voluntary in providing an atonement. The Father was free and voluntary in accepting the satisfaction, and the Spirit is free in applying salvation to sinners, dividing to every one according as he will. The sinner is free in rejecting or receiving the atonement; and the divine government is free and voluntary in forgiving ihe sinver; the Christian is free and voluntary in his course of obedience and holiness; his admission to heaven is entirely of free grace and unconstrained good-will
; and all the employments and exercises of heaven are free and voluntary. Free, uninfluenced voluptariness is stamped on the whole transaction, and is exercised by all the parties concerned.
This voluntary principle was conspicuous in the whole life and character of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Christ. Though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter. His whole undertaking was an act of free choice, of perfect voluntariness; without constraint, without reluctance. When he dis