« AnteriorContinua »
the Messiah actually suffered for sinners, and for the purpose of saving them from sin and suffering. But I do not admit that the sufferings of Christ were the effects of divine anger or avenging justice against him as our substitute. Nor do I admit that his sufferings were designed to appease the anger of God towards sinners, nor to effect any change of feeling in the divine mind. I view them ás means for effecting a change in -us—not in God. I shall use the following phrases as synonymous—“substituted suffering”—“ substituted punishment”_" vicarious suffering."-" vicarious punishment”—meaning by each the sufferings or punishment which Christians have supposed that Christ endured as the substitute for sinners.
Wishing, if possible, to avoid even the appearance of misrepresenting the opinions of my Christian brethren, I deem it proper in this place to give a special explanation on one point. I have given to the work this title. “The Atoning Sacrifice, a Display of Love—not of Wrath,” and in various parts of the work I have used language corresponding with the title, to intimate a contrast between my own views and the most popular theory on the subject. It may therefore be suspected that I was ignorant of the fact, or unwilling to admit it, that those from whom I dissent avowedly believe that the atonement had its origin in the love of God to sinners. I am aware that they do avow this belief; nor have I a wish to intimate the contrary. Still I think there is ample ground for the distinction suggested by the title of the work. This I shall attempt to illustrate.
Let it then be fully admitted that the advocates for substituted sufferings both believe and teach, that the atoning sacrifice originated in the love of God. Still they also
teach, that the atonement itself consisted in such displays of divine anger or justice, inflicted on the Son of God, as were a proper substitute and equivalent for the everlasting miseries due to the innumerable millions of mankind.
On the other hand, the theory of the atonement, which I think is taught in the Bible, implies no expression of God's anger, or of punitive justice, in the sufferings of his Son. Should a king, from real benevolence to revolted subjects, knowingly expose an only son to sufferings and to death, by sending him among them, on what he deems a necessary errand of mercy, to reclaim the rebels and save them from ruin ; we should not hesitate to say, that the king has displayed extraordinary love to his subjects, in “not sparing his own son, but delivering him up” to suffering and death for the benefit of men who had become his enemies. In speaking on the subject, we should be ready to say emphatically, “ Herein is love !” or “Behold, what manner of love !” It is in a sense analogous to this that I think God has “commended his love to us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us." Therefore, as on the one hypothesis the atonement was made by an awful display of avenging justice, and on the other by an extraordinary display of saving love, I think there can be no ground to object to the distinction intimated in the title of the work.
As men have long been in the habit of regarding punishment as the effect of divine anger—as the language of the Bible favors the idea, and as the advocates for substituted sufferings have abundantly used such phrases, as "the wrath of God” and “ the anger of God” in reference to the atonement; I have used similar phrases in
reference to their views. But I have not done this from a belief that there is any thing in God corresponding to the vindictive passion of anger in men. Yet so far, and in the same sense, as divine wrath is manifested in punishment, it must be manifested in a substitute for punishment, which is made by displays of punitive justice. With real pleasure, however, I have observed, that many modern writers in favor of substituted sufferings, have avoided the use of such harsh language and revolting representations, as were common at a former period in describing the manner in which God treated his Son while on the cross. I hope this change is an indication of something more important than a mere advance in literary taste. I am inclined to impute it to the progress of light, and a growing conviction, that there is something in the doctrine of substituted penal sufferings too shocking to be expressed in bold, emphatic language.
Various Purposes of the Messiah's Death.
It is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners; and for the same object he laid down his life as an atoning sacrifice. But as the ultimate purpose implied subordinate purposes, I shall exhibit the various objects of his death, as stated by himself and his Apostles. I shall first mention such purposes as were stated by the Savior himself.
1. “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whosoever
believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” John iii. 14, 15. “The Son of man came—to give his life a ransom for many.” Matt. xx. 28.
These passages clearly represent that human salvation was the object of the Messiah's death. But subordinate objects were to be effected by the same sacrifice. Hence,
2. Jesus died, that he might rise again. “I lay down my life, that I might take it again.—This commandment I have received of my father.” John x. 17, 18.
3. Jesus died, that the new covenant might be ratified with his blood. When Moses confirmed the Old covenant, “ he took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words.” It was probably in allusion to these facts, that when our Lord instituted the memorial of his death, on giving the cup to his disciples he said, “ This is my blood of the New Covenant that is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Matt. xxvi. 28. That such was the meaning of Christ may appear further probable from what is said by the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews. While representing the New Covenant as confirmed by the death of Christ, he says "Whereupon neither the first covenant was dedicated without blood.” He then thus quotes the words of Moses : “ This is the blood of the covenant which God hath enjoined unto you.” Heb. ix. 18, 20,
4. Jesus died “ that all things might be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses and in the prophets and in the Psalms concerning him.” Luke xxiv. 44.
5. “ It behoved Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day; and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” Luke xxiv. 46, 47.
6. Jesus died to prepare the way for the miraculous effusions of the Spirit, by which his Apostles were enabled to confirm his doctrine, and the fact of his resurrection as the Messiah, and to propagate his gospel. A little before his arrest, he thus said to his disciples—" Itis expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not coine unto you. But if I depart, I will send him unto you.—He will guide you into all truth; and he will show you things to come.” John xvi. 7. 13.
7. Jesus died, not only that he might rise again, but that he might ascend to a glorified state.-—~ Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory ?” Luke xxiv. 26. The same idea was communicated by Peter to the Jewish Sanhedrim. Acts v. 30, 31; and by Paul to the Christians at Rome. Rom. xiv. 9.
Several other purposes of our Lord's death were mentioned by his Apostles.
1. Jesus died that he might be perfected through suffering. “For it became Him”—that is, it became God “ in bringing many sons unto glory to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through suffering."* “ Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things that he suffered.” And,“ being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation to all them that obey him.”+
2. Jesus died as the Antitype of the bloody sacrifices instituted by the ministry of Moses. “In those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.-, But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins, for ever sat down on the right hand of God.” Heb. x. 3, 12.
* Heb. ii. 10. Heb, v. 8, 9,