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(wɛgì) sins.—He is the propitiation FOR (Tg) our sins; and not FOR (Tg) ours only, but also FOR (Tg) the sins of the whole world. He loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation FOR (Tεgi) our sins. Now, it is admitted that in these and similar passages the preposition FOR cannot have exactly the same meaning as when used with respect to persons. We can say with propriety that Christ died in our stead, but not that he died in stead of our offences. In the latter case, for must be viewed as synonymous with on account of he gave himself on account of our sins; he was delivered on account of our offences. But this does not prove But this does not prove that the sense of the preposition, in the other case, is not correctly expressed by the phrase in question. It only shows that the same preposition has different meanings, or admits of being taken in different senses, according to the subject to which it happens to be applied. It is not necessary, neither is it possible even on the theory of our opponents, to give one uniform meaning to the word in every case where it occurs. Of course its being used in one set of passages in one specific sense agreeable to the nature of the subject spoken of, is no proof that it is not employed in another set of passages in another specific sense agreeable to the nature of the subject treated of in those passages. And this conclusion will appear the more tenable, when it is observed, that, although dif
24 Rom. iv. 25; 1 Cor. xv. 3; Gal. i. 4; 1 Pet. iii. 18; 1 John ii. 2; John iv. 10.
ferent shades of meaning attach to the same word in the respective phrases, the phrases themselves, taken as a whole, express but one doctrinal truth. In the propositions Christ died for us, and Christ died for our sins, the word for bears different significations, but the propositions themselves are equivalent; both statements contain the same idea; the meaning of each is consistent with that of the other. Christ's dying on account of our sins, and dying in the stead of us sinners, amount to the same thing. To reason from the sense of the preposition in the one phrase, against that in which it is used in the other, when the phrases themselves are notwithstanding identical, is utterly futile and nugatory.
But the enemies of atonement will insist that the proper meaning of the term in question, in all the cases in which it occurs, is on account of, or, for our advantage that it denotes the final cause, and not substitution. It is perfectly true that Christ died for our benefit, that he suffered on our account, and this is doubtless implied in the phraseology in question; but that it is all that is implied, that it does not imply also that the way in which our advantage was promoted was by the substitution of another in our stead, we are not prepared to admit.-First of all, it is worthy of remark that the above explanation does not preserve a uniformity of meaning in the passages in question. That the phrase Christ died for us should mean that he died for our benefit is intelligible enough; but does the phrase Christ died for our sins mean that he died for the benefit of our sins?-Besides, if
those passages which teach that Christ died for our sins, offences, &c., mean nothing more than that we reap important advantages from his death with respect to the pardon of sin, in as much as that death was a means of confirming or making known to us the doctrine of forgiveness which he taught, it seems impossible to account for such a beneficial result being connected exclusively with his death, and not with his ministry, his miracles, his example, or his resurrection. It is manifest that one and all of these contributed to our advantage in respect of our being made acquainted with the doctrine of pardon, at least as much as not to say, more than-his death. In his ministry he taught the doctrine; by his miracles he confirmed it; in his life he exemplified it; while his resurrection added strength to the evidence by which all that he taught was supported. Yet is it never said that Christ preached for our sins; that he healed the sick, or raised the dead, or gave sight to the blind for our sins; or that he lived for our sins; or that he rose the third day for our offences. On the supposition we are combating, however, such phraseology, should have occurred as frequently as that of which we are endeavouring to ascertain the meaning. And from its non-occurrence, from its manifest uncouthness and unintelligibility, we conclude that, when the inspired writers speak of Christ dying for our offences, there must be some other connexion between the death of Christ and man's deliverance from sin, than that which is supposed in the former being a confirmation of the doctrine of pardon; in
short, that the death of Christ not merely confirmed the doctrine, but procured the benefit, of remission.
But the untenableness of this method of explaining the phraseology in question may be placed in a still stronger light. If the sufferings and death of Christ are for us in no higher sense than that of being for our benefit, then might the same language have been used with respect to the apostles and disciples of our Lord. It cannot be doubted, that numerous and important advantages result to believers, from the sufferings of the apostles and primitive Christians. Their constancy in suffering, and their heroism in submitting to martyrdom, not only taught the most valuable moral lessons, but tended to strengthen the evidence by which the divine origin of the religion they professed is supported. Of this circumstance they were distinctly aware, and they recognized the fact with disinterested satisfaction. 'Yea and if I be offered,' says Paul, upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy and rejoice with you all."" 'Who now rejoice,' says he on another occasion, 'in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church,and whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation.'" But are we at liberty to infer, from this language, that the sufferings of Christ bear no other relation to the advantages of his people than do those of the apostles? Was Christ delivered for our offences in no higher sense
25 Phil. ii. 17.
26 Col. i. 24.
27 2 Cor. i. 6.
than Paul the apostle may be said to have been? On the theory of interpretation we are combating, we must regard them as exactly parallel. But this is a conclusion from which, at least, Paul himself would have shrunk back with abhorrence. What else can we make of his appeal to the Corinthians: 'Was Paul crucified for you?'" Surely he could never have employed such language, had he believed that the crucifixion of Christ had no other relation to the salvation of Christians than that merely of being for their benefit.
Such is the proof of the atonement of Christ, derived from the writings of the new testament. The doctrine of the remission of sins through the atoning blood of Jesus, indeed, pervades these writings, and like the sun, invests their pages with a sacred light. "That the sufferings of the Redeemer,' says the eloquent Robert Hall, 'were vicarious and piacular, that he appeared in the character of a substitute for sinners, in distinction from a mere example, teacher, or martyr, is so unquestionably the doctrine of the inspired writers, that to deny it, is not so properly to mistake, as to contradict their testimony; it must be ascribed, not to any obscurity in revelation itself, but to a want of submission to its authority. The doctrine in question is so often asserted in the clearest terms, and tacitly assumed as a fundamental principle in so many more; it is intermingled so closely with all the statements of truth, and inculcations of duty