« PreviousContinue »
to my humanity, there is in my flesh and blood, a fear of the wrath of God; and, therefore, “ O, my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.” But what was there in the cup, that made Christ pray thus earnestly that it might pass from him ? I answer—First, The great pain that he must endure; buffettings, and whippings, and bleedings, and crucifying. All the terments from first to last, throughout all his body; all these now came into his mind; and all these were put into the cup of which he had to drink. Secondly, The great shame that he must undergo now came into his thoughts ; his apprehending, binding, judging, scorning, reviling, and condemning: and ch! what a bloody blush comes into the face of Christ, while in the cup he sees these ingredients. Thirdly, The neglect of man, notwithstanding all his pain and shame. I look upon this as a greater cut to the heart of Christ, than both the former. When he considered that after all his sufferings and reproaches, few would regard. This was abitter ingredient: and hence were Christ's complaints. “Have you no regard, Oh, Socinians! and ye high-minded Gentiles that pass by the way ? Consider, and behold, if ever there were sorrow like unto my sorron." Christ complains not of the sharp pains he endured, but of this. Have ye no regard, that his sufferings, and his blood were shed to redeem miserable, and thoughtless Socinians, and a proud Gentile world, who pass by, and tranıple his most
precious blood under their feet; and “ account the blood of the covenant an unholy thing :” while it is said, “ He hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” He hath made him to be sin for us who knew no sin. He was made sin by imputation. He was our surety, and so our sins were laid on him,
NOTE ON THE FOURTH CHAPTER
The word translated atonement, in the original Greek, signifies a reconciliation, or bringing together of parties once separated : and understood in this sense, the doctrine is a fundamental tenet of Christianity. The atonement is the reconciliation, not of God to man, but of man to God-not of the Creator to his creatures, but of depraved creatures to their Creator. There is not, there cannot be, in the Divine mind, any feeling analagous to anger or wrath, as these exist in the breast of man. “GOD IS LOVE," so say the Scriptures. He is not merely loving, but love itself, in its very essence. With love there is neither wrath nor fury; nor in the God of love can these passions have any existence.
But how then do the Scriptures speak of the wrath of God ?' In the same sense in which they speak of his grieving and repenting : as appearances arising from states of the human mind, and not as real passions existing in the Deity. We may illustrate this. The sun of our system always shines with equal light and splendour, yet we speak of his rising and going down, while yet the change is in the position of the earth, and not at all in the sun. So, when the mind turns from God, he appears to withdraw, and when it turns towards him, He appears to arise upon it. When again iniquity interposes between the soul and its maker, God appears as a consuming fire, as the sun assumes a fiery appearance to one who views it through a mist. The change is not in God, but in the mind itself.*
*God cannot be angry if the first article of the Church of England be true : anger is a passion, and one of the basest of passions ; but this declares that God bas neither “body, parts, nor passions.”
Hence God never was angry with the world. On the contrary, to use a plain expression, it was the world that was angry with God, and the great object was, not to propitiate God, or make him merciful, but to persuade the world to be reconciled, and to open a way by which this reconciliation could be effected. In order to place man in a state of salvation, it was necessary that he should be joined in spirit to his maker--that there should be a real conjunction of heaven with earth. But man had departed himself from God, and brought himself under the dominion of the powers of hell. He was their slave, and their captive, “ led by them at their will." Neither had he the power to release himself, for having yielded himself a servant of sin, he lay bound in every power, and fettered in every work—“bound hand and foot” by the chains of evil and falsehood. In this state he could not come to God ;he had no inclination to approach him; and even had he pos. sessed the desire, there is that eternal opposition between good and evil, that would effectually have debarred his approach. Where good reigns, evil cannot dwell; but man was evil, therefore where God was, he could not come. If ever, therefore, the salvation of man be effected, it must be by God himself approaching to man. Yet in his unveiled glory-in the brightness of his Godhead, the Deity could not do this: infinite good would have consumed the workers of evil ; there was only one way to effect it, and that was by an assumption of the human form, and as man, redeeming man.
In the work of atonement two things were necessary. First, The entire subjugation of the enemies of man; and Secondly, The establishment of a medium of communication betwixt God and his creatures. The first was performed, when the LORD as man, admitted and repelled the utmost temptations of the infernal hosts, and especially when, in the last contest on the cross," he spoiled principalities and powers,” leading “captivity captive, and receiving gifts for men;" and by the glorification of his humanity, and its union with his essential God-, head, "a new and living way" was opened; the humanity of the Saviour becoming “the mediator,” or medium of access to the infinite God.
In this great work two beings only were engaged-God and man. The first wrought out, and accomplished the work of atonement; the other receives that atonement, when approach
ing the hidden, by the manifested God—the Divinity, by the glorified humanity, he receives into himself that love and that wisdom, which by making him an image of God, joins him to his maker. With this agree the Scriptures—“ God is ONE;" that God is the Saviour—that Saviour came to “reconcile the world unto God,” and man "receives the atonement,” when coming to that Saviour, he “ceases to do evil, and learns to do well;" loves God with all his heart, and his neighbour as himself. Thus he drinks the blood of Christ (receives into his understanding the eternal truth), and eats his flesh (receives into his will and affections the love of God)—thus by the same eternal truth is he “ washed,” and by the same love sustained, till his journey on earth terminate in the rest of heaven.
J. G. B. P.
In treating a subject of such importance as the doctrine of atonement, it is of consequence to add weight to our own opinions by every preponderating influence which we can pro
The following of Dr. Wardlaw's appears to be of much importance; and to coincide so completely with our own, that we shall make no apology for presenting it; being assured that the soundness of the arguments, and the orthodoxy of the principles, will cause it to be perused with pleasure and profit.
ROM. III. 25, 26. “ Whom God hath set forth to be a 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 at this time his righteousness, that he might be just, and the justifier of him who believeth in Jesus,"
“ The value of the Gospel,” says an eminent Unitarian writer,* “ depends not at all upon any idea we may have concerning the person of Christ : all that we ought to regard is the object of his mission, and the authority with which his doctrine was promulgated. The doctrine of immortality, which is the great object of the whole revealed will of God, is just as acceptable from the mouth of the son of Joseph and Mary, as from the mouth of any man created for the purpose, from the
• Dr. Priestley.