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ment to the soul, and the benefits received thereby. It exhibits Christ the sinner's substitute: once dead and now alive for us; and we in him once dead, and now alive for ever. Once indeed we were dead without him, "for in Adam all died," dead souls and dying bodies, both foredoomed to an eternal existence, for its essential misery called death. To reverse this half-executed sentence, was the end of the atonement. We may think it was very easy; God could have forgiven the past, and remitted the remainder of the penalty. I do not presume to say whether he could or not: but I see that pardon comes too late, when the sentence is already executed: man was dead: "In the day that thou eatest, thou shalt die." Severed from the source and sustetenance of life, cut off from that communication of the deity, whence only good can be derived, man lay like the trunk of an uprooted tree, which keeps for a season the form and coloring of life, and puts forth some feeble shoots, as if it were alive. Mere pardon would avail little to the soul already separate from God, and dead in trespasses and sins, unless that which was done, could be undone, and the past retrieved. But could not God do this too? I cannot tell: but mutability is an attribute of weakness: to do and to undo, to say and unsay, is the creature's shame. In a mere mortal, we require some fresh light, or influence, or evidence to excuse a change of mind. What light, what influence,
what subsequent discovery could act upon the eternal mind, that he should unwill to-day, what he willed yesterday, and bring to life his slain? So much I see, though it is little enough, of where the difficulty of man's recovery lay. As a moral difficulty, we have an imperfect illustration of it in our case as parents; very imperfect, indeed, because our want of foresight has part in our embarrassment. To deter our children from an act of disobedience, we threaten a certain punishment, which, when the fault has been committed, we are very unwilling to inflict: but our word must be inviolate, and our authority maintained: against the pleasure of all parties, the penalty must be enforced: a sort of moral necessity from which the parent sometimes secretly relieves himself, by bringing in a third person, to beg as a favor to himself, or for some invented reason, that the culprit may escape the infliction: no parallel to the plan of substitution, wherein the full penalty is inflicted: but a faint illustration of the moral difficultyif we may at all apply that word to deity-how God should be just, and yet the justifier of him that had sinned.
We conceive further of the penalties of the divine law, that unlike the sanctions of human legislation they are not arbitrary appointments, but necessary consequences, which it needs an interference of power to prevent, but none to inflict; misery follows sin: sin itself is misery;
and the soul that sinneth dies of course, without any measures taken to put that soul to death; though divine interference would be indispensable to prevent the consequences following the cause. Without all controversy, however, the fact was so; the living were dying and the dead were dead; animal life was wasting fast away, and spiritual life was already in its grave, buried in time and sense. In the great work of redemption, the one grave had to be opened and the other closed; earth, the soul's present grave, must be made to give up her dead; and hell, its eternal grave, must close her gates for ever. It was necessary that the substitute should be one who could not only receive upon himself our death, the death of the whole world, but could in return communicate to us his life. We know that to communicate life is the exclusive attribute of Deity.
I will not, because I cannot, search into the counsels of Jehovah, to judge of the eternal covenant in which this exigence was foreseen and provided for, and the work of redemption undertaken in the vicarious sufferings of the Son of God, accepted by the Father, and applied by the Holy Spirit. How it was, or why; or whether it had been better otherwise, or could have been otherwise effected, is not an inquiry for us. The very doubt is a trespass upon the rights of Deity: the all-wise, the omnipotent, the incomprehensible. We receive it on His
fit dwelling place for us; and, carrying the idea of substitution out, it would avail us little that Christ were holy and happy, and ascended up to heaven in our stead. Human language is but poor machinery for the conveyance of divine ideas: but union, rather than substitution, is the idea to be conveyed, and is the more scriptural term; from adhering to the former notion, I think it may in some minds have resulted, that they consider personal sanctification, as well as meritorious righteousness, to be imputed, not imparted, to the sinner: that Christ, who is indeed unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption, is so in the sense of substitution rather than impartation, instead of us, rather than in us. But if this were so, he must likewise be happy in our stead, and alive to God in our stead, and well-pleasing to the Father in our stead: which is at variance with the Scripture declaration, that we are all this in him; not putatively, but really-"Accepted in the beloved." "Alive in Christ." "Transformed by the renewing of your mind.""
This union of the believer with Christ, with all its blessed consequences, pervading as it does the whole language of the Gospel, is comprehensively set forth by St. Paul in Rom. vi. "As many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death. Therefore are we buried with him." "Knowing this that our old man is crucified with him."
"Likewise reckon yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God." And he argues the necessity of this, inasmuch as without being partakers of Christ in his death, we could not be freed from the dominion of sin. "Our old man was crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed: for he that is dead is freed from sin." The believer, then, who neither has died, nor ever is to die in his own person for the expiation of his sins; who neither has lived, nor ever will live so as to merit any thing at the hands of God; who has not, and to all eternity will not have wisdom or righteousness, or sanctification, or life, or knowledge, or strength, or understanding, in and by himself; has, by virtue of a mysterious union with the Son of God, both died to sin and risen again to righteousness; and deriving all by communication from him, "the life which he now lives in the flesh, he lives by the faith of the Son of God." "I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” And this union is the unfolded mystery, the mysterious blessedness, exhibited to us in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. Not the manner of it; that has not been, and perhaps could not be subjected to mortal apprehension: there probably are neither words nor ideas through which an impression of it could be conveyed; neither a capacity of understanding into which it could be received. I perceive but one