Imatges de pÓgina
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pitched and not man. And then proceeds to argue the point : “ for every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices; wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer. For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law. (Heb. viii. 1-4.)

The force of this reasoning may be more clearly seen by throwing it into a syllogistic form. “ The great constitutional element of the priesthood is the offering of gifts and sacrifices. For this it was ordained. Our Lord Jesus Christ is a priest : therefore our Lord Jesus Christ must offer gifts and sacrifices. Again, It is of necessity that Christ have some offering to make. Otherwise he would not be a priest. But there are already authorized priests officiating on earth ; and as there cannot with propriety be two Divine priesthoods at the same time, in the same place : therefore Christ officiates in some other place—in the place whither he has gone-in heaven.” All the premises assumed in this argument have either been made out in other portions of the epistle, or were admitted on all hands; the steps in it are logically complete ; and the conclusion is clear.

The same fact we have also declared in the text: “ For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are figures of the true ; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us."

What language could be more distinct, and to the point ?

In Romans we have the same thing. (viii. 34.) “Who is he that condemneth ?” asks the apostle. " It is Christ that died, yea rather that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” And what is the Scriptural idea of intercession, but the appearance before God with the blood of atonement? Again he speaks of Christ (iv. 25.) “Who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification.” Not that the event of Christ's resurrection had any power to justify us before God. But he was raised from the death under the power of which he was placed by becoming a sacrifice, in order that he might go and offer that sacrifice before the throne of God in heaven, and thus obtain our justification.

In the first epistle of John we also have this matter presented in the same light. (ii. 1.). “And if any man sin, we have an ad

vocate”—a paraclete-an intercessorone who appears for the atonement of sin“ with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”

It does appear to me then, that the view of the atonement which I have presented is the correct—the Scriptural one. It is a thing going on in heaven. It is the great business which Christ went there to attend to. It consists in the official presentation of his blood, (not exactly literally, but actually—in a way corresponding with the spiriuality of the place in which it is done) before the Divinity in heaven in behalf of his people.

And if this be the correct view, then it also follows that the atonement, unlike the making of sacrifice, does not consist in one sole act performed once for all, and containing merit sufficient to reach down to the end of time without exhaustion. It is constantly going on. This is a feature of the atonement which I hold as also set forth in the Scriptures.

By turning to the seventh chapter of our epistle, it will be found that Christ's priesthood is of the order of the priesthood of Melchisedec. It will be found too that one of the most striking respects in which it is like that of the patriarch is, that it is intransmissible. Christ is “ a priest forever,” or a priest all the time. As Melchisedec was a priest "continually,” and officiated from the commencement to the close of his own peculiar dispensation ; so Christ “ continueth ever” from the beginning to the end of the christian economy. Now if his atonement ended with the first instance of the presentation of his blood in heaven, then his priesthood ceased. The whole thing was then done, and the priestly office of course passed away. But such the Scriptures declare was not the fact. He entered heaven as our High Priest, he is a priest now, and he will be a priest until the end of the world. Paul says (25) “he ever liveth to make intercession”—to atone " for us.” And all the passages which I have already quoted on another point also hold out the idea that it is a thing continually going on. As under the Jewish system, whenever a sinner came with his offering the atonement was repeated, just so Christ's office continues in heaven; and in each new instance that a sinner repents and pleads the sacrifice of Calvary, our great and heavenly Priest holds up his blood afresh as though it had just been shed, and shed only for that individual offender. And just so the atone

ment will go on until the number of the elect is made up, and the economy of the Gospel has reached its end.

Receiving this doctrine then, and I cannot do otherwise than receive it as the Scriptural doctrine of the atonement, there are several important uses to which I will now proceed to apply it.

If Christ's priesthood is continued in heaven, and the atonement is something continually going on there, it forever settles the question whether the Savior died for all men, or merely for the select few.

It has been the plan of some in adjusting their theological systems, to raise--discuss--and settle upon questions respecting this matter, and afterwards to mould the atonement so as to fit their preconceived theories. In the prosecution of this plan, as has been abundantly proven, a borrowed meaning has been imparted to Scriptural terms—the minds of unbiased inquirers have been confused-and wrangling, and bitter, and protracted controversy have disturbed the church throughout her whole extent. Hence also we hear of the atonement being “general in its design" and « limited in its application,” as if God failed to apply what he had designed. Hence also the death of Christ, and the atonement of Christ are spoken of as the same thing. And from the same source have proceeded various other anomalies, which have encumbered the truth as it is in Jesus. But by going back to the simplicity of Bible statements, and receiving the doctrine of atonement as the text presents it, we shall find no further difficulty with the inspired declaration that “ Jesus by the grace of God tasted death for every man.My faith is, that Christ died for every individual member of the human family as far back as Adam, and as far forward as the last generation of his race. And I rest it on considerations like these :

1st. All men equally need a Savior. As not one has escaped the consequences of the fall, so none can be recovered from the ruin but by the help of the Divine hand. With all the various efforts that have been put forth-individual-social--civil-eccle. siastical, none have ever been able, and none ever will be able to regain the favor of insulted heaven but through the means of a Divine Mediator. All are equally helpless; and if there be provision made for the salvation of any, there can be no satisfactory reason why provision should not be made for all.

2nd. Christ can just as easily die for all men as for the few. What is to hinder him! His sacrifice can as easily be made available for millions as for tens. What occasion is there to circumscribe what is possessed of infinite merit? To say that he is not able to die for all inen, is to dishonor his absolute power of selfdisposition. To say that he will not, is to dishonor his infinite goodness. Looking then at his entire ability, and those lovely perfections which the Scriptures ascribe to him, we are compelled to believe that if he died for any of earth's guilty inhabitants it is most probable that he died for all of them.

3d. The calls and offers of the Gospel made in view of the sacrifice of the Savior have no limits, other than those assigned to the habitation of man on the one hand, and the present existence of his race on the other. The last command of the ascending Savior was—“Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.” But wherefore preach and offer salvation to all men, if Christ did not die for all men ?

Can we suppose the meek and compassionate Jesus capable of such tantalism? Can you think that he would fan and aggravate the sufferings of some whilst he administers eternal redemption to others who are equally guilty ? Would not a procedure like this throw the entire universe into confusion? The sudden and total repeal of the law of gravitation itself would not more effectually unhinge creation.

4th. The Scriptures explicitly declare that Christ died for all. John says that he “is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole world.” Paul says in one place that he “gave himself a ransom for all.” In another “We thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead." But what becomes of his argument if Christ died only for the few? Again he says “he died for all that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.” Nor do the terms world and all refer merely to the world of believers and all christians, but to all men ; yea, even for those also who are lost, did Christ lay down his life on Calvary. Paul in 1 Cor. speaks of some perishing for whom Christ died. (viii. 11.) In Rom. (xiv. 15,) of the destruction of others for whom Christ died. And in numerous passages we find it taught by implication and by explicit declaration, that “Jesus by the

grace of God tasted death for every man,” including saints and sinners.

But here the inquiry is presented, “ if Christ died for all men, and yet all are not saved, did he not then to some extent die in vain ? and would it not be derogatory to the Divine character to suppose that he would allow his Son to die in vain?” This is a thought very frequently presented to embarrass the view of Christ's death which I am advocating. It may be well therefore to present what may be said by way of offset.

Suppose then that in a certain sense the Savior did die in vain ; i. e. that millions are never made to realize its saving virtue. Would that impeach the character of Jehovah in suffering such a thing? Do we not everywhere see Divine arrangements which to our eyes seem totally in vain? “How much rain falls on eversterile sands or on barren rocks, to our eyes in vain! What floods of light are poured each day on barren wastes, or untraversed oceans, to our

eyes in vain! How many flowers shed forth their fragrance in the wilderness, and waste their sweetness on the desert air,' to us apparently for naught! How many pearls lie useless in the ocean; how much gold and silver in the earth; how many diamonds amidst rocks to us unknown, and apparently in vain! And how much medicinal virtue is created by God each year in the vegetable world that is unknown to man, and that decays and is lost without removing any disease, and that seems to be created in vain!” But does any body think the worse of God for this ? Why then should it be thought derogatory to his character should he see fit to provide supplies of grace in Jesus which nobody chooses to secure for the perishing soul?

But, my brethren, though not one single soul of the vast population of our world which has been is now-or ever shall be should so demean itself as to find redemption through the Savior's blood, I still contend that his death would not have been in vain, or have failed to accomplish that which God designed should be effected by it. What was the design? Was it that men should be saved, or that they might be saved? Was it to render their salvation certain, or merely to render it possible ? “To the law and to the testimony;" for by their decisions alone can we safely abide in this matter. In John we read from the lips of the Savior

"Barnos' Notes on 2 Cor. v. 14.

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