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There is, first FORGIVENESS. We have redemption through the blood of Christ, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace. The Apostle, in the passage in Romans above referred to, also shews that God is righteous in the remission of sins that are past. As if he had said, the sins committed before the coming of Christ, were, through the infinite compassion of God, forgiven on account of the propitiation that was to be effected by his death. All the sin of man, therefore, that ever was, or will be forgiven, was forgiven through his atoning sacrifice. God's exacting the punishment of sin in the death of Christ, explained the mystery of divine patience and truth, in not punishing our first parents, Adam and Eve, with instant death, and in bearing, for so many thousand years, with the wickedness of mankind, and it cleared the divine righteousness, and accounted for his forbearance with the rebellion and sin of his creatures. The same atonement is still amply sufficient to cover the whole of our transgressions against the divine law. The pardon of sin, of all sin, of the greatest and most aggravated sins, the free and entire removal of the load of guilt from the concience, this is the glory of the Gospel of Christ.
The benefit of the atonement of Christ is also exhibited in another light as the cause of the free JUSTIFICATION of the believer. His sins are not only pardoned, but he is freed from the penalty of sin. Bring justified freely by his grace, is the great blessing which the apostle grounds on Christ's propitiation. By this redemption of Christ, a way is provided for the guilty sinner being accounted and dealt with as altogether righteous. God whose judgment is according to truth, whose sentence is final and decisive, is the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus,
Nor can we also forbear noticing SANCTIFICATION, as another effect connected with the atonement. It is, as we have seen, peculiarly calculated to promote genuine love to God and man. Ye are bought with a price, therefore, glorify God in your body and in your spirit which are his-If God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. His unspeakable love furnishes the most powerful and attractive motive to obedience; and adds new force to every other consideration which calls on us to obey the will of God.
Let us farther observe, how we PARTAKE OF THE BLESSINGS OF THE ATONEMENT: for in vain, as to our salvation, has Christ shed his precious blood and glorified God and procured blessings for man, if we are not partakers of the benefit. On this important point, the Scriptures are very express. It is through faith in his blood that God is propitious to us, God justifies him that believeth in Jesus. Rom. iii, 25, 26. To him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Rom. iv, 5. Similar passages are very numerous.
The nature of faith will be considered more at large in the following chapter.
We would now press on the reader's attention the importance of the subject. It is not a 'matter of mere speculation and theory, but a principal, a practical, and a most cheering truth, revealed for our unspeakable benefit. The subject is of infinite magnitude. It is God's appointed plan of salvation: it is his only plan: there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved. Surely nothing can be con
ceived of more immense moment to the human race, than that which concerns the salvation of innumerable millions of immortal souls, their peace and holiness here, their deliverence from eternal woe, and their obtaining eternal life. O that every reader may so seek an interest in this salvation, as to enjoy its blessings, and to feel in his own happy experience, what an animating motive the atoning death of Christ is to a life of holiness and devotedness to that God who so loved us, that he spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all. . We cannot speak of this great subject merely in the language of cold statement. Christian reader! let our hearts magnify and praise the Lord. The Lord hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad. · Let our songs ascend up to his throne. Let us join the heavenly host in their never-ceasing hymn-Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.
The view which has thus been given of the death of Christ appeared needful to enable us to form right conceptions of the Lord's Supper. In this view of his death, well might a solemn ordinance be appointed, for its perpetual exhibition, and commemoration.*
* How dreadfully the Socinians would pervert this ordinance, may be seen in the following extract
from one of their writers. “If the Unitarian Society, on their English Anniversary Festi. val, were to consecrate the first goblet to the immortal inemory of the great founder of their faith, they would more faithfully copy the spirit of this Institution, than any rival creedsman, and would accomplish the association of religion with the rational and habitual pleasures of mankind.” Dr. Gregory on this makes the following observation. “ This attempt at transmuting the orgies of Bacchus into a Christian rite will not succeed with those who have beheld by faith the Lamb of God that taketh awuy the sins of the world."
Dr. Doddridge justly remarks, “I apprehend this ordinance of the Eucharist to have so plain a reference to the atonement or satisfaction of Christ, and to do 80 solemn an honour to the fundamental doctrines of the Gospel, that I cannot but believe that while this sacred institution continues in the Church, (as it will undoubtedly do to the end of the world) it will be impossible to root that doctrine out of the minds of plain humble Christians."
As you have seen, the very words appointing the ordinance bring before us the doctrine of the atonement, by telling us of Christ's body given and broken for us, and his blood shed for the remission of our sins,
We shall farther see, in the next chapter, how we participate in the atonement of Christ.
On Faith in Christ's Atonement. The Lord's Supper is manifestly an Institution designed only for Christians, for sincere believers in Jesus Christ. It is well known that the primitive churches were very particular in exercising a strict dicipline, to keep the unbelieving from that holy table. Indeed, our attendance there without faith in Him, would be a mere act of hypocrisy.
Hence it becomes important for us to understand the nature of faith. The idea is in itself so simple, as
rather to be obscured than elucidated by definition. Faith in God's word is the same as faith in man's word, a sure belief of what is said.* True faith is a practical belief of the word of God, and especially the record which he hath given of his Son. If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater-he that believeth not God, hath made him a liar, because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.
The Holy Scriptures illustrate the nature and effects of this faith in a variety of ways, describing it as a coming to Christ, looking unto him, receiving him, putting him on, trusting in him, living upon him, and the like. These figures very strikingly exhibit the inward workings of the believer's heart.
Repentance and faith are most intimately connected in the Holy Scriptures. Matt. xxi, 32; Mark i, 15; Acts xx, 21. There is no repentance without faith, and no lively faith without repentance. It has been observed, that repentance and faith are only two branches of the same vital root of the new creature in Christ Jesus,
The object in this chapter is not, however, to explain the nature of faith in general, or faith in Christ, Kwhich is a believing all that the Scriptures say of him as a Divine Saviour, and so receiving him in all his offices, as our Prophet, Priest, and King,) but to bring before the reader the nature and importance of faith in his blood. Rom. iii, 25. There is in the Lord's Supper, when duly received, a special act of faith in the atonement of Christ. This is a point of the
* The Scriptures accurately describe it to be the substance. (UROSTAOis, confidence,) of things hoped for; the evidence (eloyxos, conviction,) of things not seen. Heb. xi, 1.