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and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan; thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.'
From all this it appears, that the work of Christ, in giving himself up to suffer and die for us, was strictly voluntary. In no step of that glorious undertaking, was he constrained by any thing but his own free will and matchless love. It was a high act of sovereign grace; not a boon forcibly wrung from a reluctant benefactor. To deny this, is to destroy altogether its efficacy. 'It is of the utmost importance for us to know,' as has been beautifully observed, 'that through every step of the painful process through which he passed, the benefits derived to us by his sufferings, were not by constraint wrung from him, but willingly purchased for us, that he was not bound to endurance by the iron chain of his own fallen and sinful personal constitution, but by the golden chain of that love to God whose glorious perfections he was manifesting to the universe, and of that love to men through whose salvation he was making the manifestation, which no waters could quench, and no floods could drown.' 20
VI. There is one ingredient still necessary. of such essential importance as to have been supposed by many to be all that is requisite. In a compensatory arrangement, such as the atonement is, both parties must be voluntary. Not only must the one party be willing to make the compensation; the
other must be willing to accept of it when made. The appointment of the Father is no less important than the voluntary engagement of the Son; and this, we have now to state, is a prerequisite to validity which the work of Christ distinctly possessed.
The necessity of divine appointment will appear, if it is considered, that God, being the party offended by man's sin, had a right to determine whether sin should be pardoned at all, and, if to be pardoned, on what ground. It was not enough, that a person heroic and benevolent enough should be found, to offer to substitute himself in the place of the guilty. To the offended sovereign does it belong to determine whether the proposed substitution shall serve all the ends of justice. Of this He is the only judge. And, supposing him satisfied on this point, it is still a part of his sovereign prerogative to determine whether he shall be pleased to accept of this, or shall insist that the penalty be inflicted on the person offending. To say otherwise, is to hold the monstrous opinion, that the Almighty could be compelled to adopt a line of procedure pointed out by another. In short, the acceptance of commutative satisfaction is such a deviation from the ordinary course of legislative wisdom, that none but the sovereign legislator himself is qualified to say when it may be wise and proper to put forth so high an exertion of the dispensing power. The power of dispensing, in any particular, with the laws, can reside only in him who has the power of making the laws. Now, in the case before us, there is a dispensing with the letter of
the law as far as it requires the personal punishment of the offender. It is thus clear as noon-day that, had not God voluntarily consented to accept of the sufferings of Christ, these sufferings, however otherwise precious, could have been of no avail. They might have been rejected, as an unauthorized interference with the regular flow of legislative procedure. No security could have existed for their ever being accepted. Intrinsically valuable though they were, they might have been relatively worthless; and, as regards the grand design of appeasing the wrath of God, the precious blood of Christ might have been as water spilt upon the ground.
The evidence that the sacrifice of Christ was appointed by God is happily as satisfactory as the necessity for the appointment is indispensable. In giving himself for our sins that he might redeem us from the present evil world, he acted according to the will of God, even our Father.'" It was, in consequence of no fortuitous concurrence of circumstances, or private overture of benevolence, that Jesus died, but from 'being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God.' The character in which he suffered was stamped with the authority of a divine delegation,-'I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.' At the very time that he claims for himself the character of entire selfdevotement, he fails not to point distinctly to his commission from above,—'I have power to lay it down,
21 Gal. i. 4.
22 Acts ii. 23.
23 Prov. viii. 23.
and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.'" Just before entering on the final scene of woe to which so much importance is attached, did he say, 'As the Father gave me commandment so I do; arise, let us go hence.' 25 Not less decisive is the testimony of the apostles. 'Whom,' says Paul, 'God hath set forth (foreordained, Tgolero) to be a propitiation through faith in his blood.' 26 For of a truth,' says Peter, 'against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, for to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.' And again, 'Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things as silver and gold-but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot, who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world.'" In beautiful harmony with these testimonies is the descriptive language of the beloved disciple, "The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.'" Thus does it fully appear that, in making atonement for our sins, Jesus acted, not only with the full consent, but under the high commission of God. He it was who awaked, by his vindictive call, the fiery sword of vengeance against the Shepherd, the man that was his fellow, which continued to smite with relentless severity till justice was satisfied, and could not
25 John xiv. 31.
24 John x. 18.
26 Rom. iii 25.
28 Rev. xiii. 8.
be quiet because the Lord had given it a charge. So true is it that 'the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.'
These are the circumstances, then, which constitute the validity of Christ's atonement. They are all of them necessary; not one can be dispensed with. Exclude any one of them, and it will be instantly seen to nullify all the rest. They resolve themselves into supreme divinity, perfect humanity, and divine appointment. These, not singly but together, are what conferred on the sufferings and death of our Mediator that high character of intrinsic and relative worth which rendered them a complete atonement to the law and justice of God for the sins of men. Without these, they had had no efficacy. In this case, the dying conqueror had never given utterance to the expiring shout of exultation, 'It is finished:' Never had he arisen from the grave, and ascended to glory, and sat down at the right hand of God, amid the welcoming shouts of enraptured seraphim: The mediatorial glory which eclipses the splendours of the shekinah had never thrown around him its celestial radiance: Nor had the sceptre of universal empire ever been put into his hand. From the perfection of his atonement, arising out of the circumstances specified above, does it proceed, that he makes intercession for us within the vail of the upper sanctuary; that he dispenses with a munificent hand the gifts of his purchase, and causes the prey of a great spoil to be divided. And peace, and pardon, and redemption, and