Imatges de pàgina

though broken and bleeding with agonies to us unknown, ever felt a perfect resignation to the hand that smote him, and a full acquiescence in all the bitterness of the cup which was appointed him to drink : the resignation and acquiescence of love and conviction. He suffered in such a manner as a being perfectly holy could suffer. Though, animated by the joy that was set before him, he endured the cross and despised the shame; yet there appear to have been seasons in the hour of his deepest extremity, in which he underwent the entire absence of divine joy and every kind of comfort or sensible support. What but a total eclipse of the sun of consolation, could have wrung from him that exceedingly bitter and piercing cry, My God! My God! why hast thou forsaken me?—The fire of Heaven consumed the sacrifice. The tremendous manifestations of God's displeasure against sin he endured, though in him was no sin: and he endured them in a manner of which even those unhappy spirits who shall drink the fierceness of the wrath of Almighty God, will never be able to form an adequate idea! They know not the holy and EXQUISITE SENSIBILITY which belonged to this immaculate sacrifice. That clear sight which he possessed of the transgressions of his people in all their heinousness and atrocity, and that acute sense of the infinite vileness of sin, its baseness, ingratitude, and evil in every respect, must have produced, in him, a feeling of extreme distress, of a kind and to degree which no creature, whose moral sense is impaired by personal sin, can justly conceive. As such a feeling would accrue from the purity and ardour of his love to God and holiness, acting in his perfectly peculiar circumstances; so it would be increased by the pity and tenderness which he ever felt towards the objects of his redeeming love. A wise and good father is more deeply distressed by a crime which his beloved child has perpetrated, than by the same offence if. committed by an indifferent person.' (Disc. on Sac. pp. 45–47.)



The value of Christ's atonement we conceive to arise, not from the nature, or intensity, or continuance of his sufferings. The work of Jesus was not a mere commercial affair of debt and payment. We have no conception that, had the number of those for whom he suffered been greater than it was, or had their sins been more numerous or more aggravated than they were, his sufferings must have been proportionally increased. Neither can we subscribe to the notion that one pang or pain of all that he endured was itself sufficient to effect atonement. We conceive, on the contrary, that he suffered nothing but what was necessary, that if less could have sufficed, less would have been required; while, on the other hand, the intrinsic worth of what he actually endured was such as to render it sufficient for the salvation of many more than shall be ultimately saved, had God only seen meet to extend to them his mercy in Christ Jesus. The sufferings of Christ we regard as a moral satisfaction to the law and government of God, which would have been necessary had there been only one to be saved, and which would have been found sufficient had the whole human race without exception been to rank among the redeemed. Just as the arrangement which exists for the outward illumination of our globe, would have been required had there been but one inhabitant to reap the benefit presently enjoyed, and would have been sufficient had there been many more millions in existence than actually inhabit the earth. The worth or value of Christ's atoning sacrifice we conceive to have arisen, not from one circumstance alone, but from several circumstances combined, none of which can be dispensed with in forming a proper estimate on the subject. These circumstances we shall now attempt to unfold.

I. The first is the dignity of the Saviour's person.

He who, in making atonement, is at once the priest and the sacrifice, is divine. He is the Son of God, the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person. He is

God himself, coequal with the Father, Jehovah's fellow. Titles which involve essential dignity are unhesitatingly ascribed to him. He is spoken of as possessing all the necessary attributes of Deity. Works which belong only to God, are said to be performed by him. And the highest forms of divine worship are used by all moral creatures, in doing him homage. The truth of these assertions, we must be permitted to take for granted, as to exhibit even an outline of their evidence would lead us into an improper digression. The doctrine of Christ's dignity is prominently set forth in the volume of revealed truth. It is the glory of Christianity. It sparkles, like a radiant gem, in every part of the sacred field. It invests the whole Christian system with heavenly beauty. It imparts a peculiar grandeur and sublimity to the doctrines of the cross.

From the dignity of the party offended by man's sin, it was requisite that he, who should successfully transact for pardon, should possess a corresponding elevation of character. He who is offended is the infinite Jehovah, the great God of heaven and of earth. It is the infinite Majesty whose honour has been violated; it is the throne of the Eternal whose stability and authority have been invaded. To effect reconciliation, in such a case, is a work to which no man, no angel, no superangelic creature is adequate. No priest of less personal consequence than the Lord of glory, is competent to the office of appeasing the wrath of the high and lofty one who inhabiteth eternity. But we have such an High Priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the majesty in the heavens.

The sacrifice by which atonement is made for offences of infinite moral turpitude, must be possessed of infinite moral worth. The relative value arising from divine appointment is not enough; else it could never have been said, “It is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats could take away sin. The blood of inferior animals was as capable as any other of all the worth which mere appointment can impart. But an intrinsic worth was required, which could be possessed by nothing short of blood divine. Hence the sacrifice of Christ is so often spoken of in Scripture as being himself. Christ hath loved us and given HIMSELF for us an offering and a sacrifice to God.—Who gave HIMSELF a ransom for all.—When he had by HIMSELF purged our sins.“ He offered up HIMSELF.—He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of HIMSELF.' (Eph. v, 2; 1 Tim. ii, 6; Heb. i, 3.vii, 27.mix, 26.

As the substance of Christ's atoning sacrifice consisted in his sufferings or death, it has been alleged that its intrinsic worth could be nothing more than human, as his human nature alone could suffer and die. But the close and inseparable union subsisting between the divine and human natures in the person of the Son of God is here to be remembered. Although the human nature alone could either suffer or die, it was the Son of God, as possessed of this nature, who endured the sufferings and died the death of the cross. The possession of a human nature qualified him for suffering; the divinity of his person gave to his suffering a worth equivalent to its own dignity. Although the human nature was alone capable of suffering, it was nevertheless the person to whom this nature belonged who suffered. It may be thought that at this rate, as the person was divine, such an assertion involves the blasphemy that Deity suffered. By no means. When a person suflers it does not follow that he suffers in all that pertains to him. He may suffer in his property and not suffer in his honour; he may suffer in his happiness and not in his character; he may suffer in his body, and not in his soul: still it is the person who suffers. So, in the case before us, while the Son of God suffers in his human nature it is still the person which suffers. If, before we are entitled to say that a person suffers, all that pertains to him must suffer, it follows that we can never say a person dies, as the soul, an essential constituent part of the person, never dies. But, granting that it is the person who suffers, it may

still be said that the value of these sufferings is to be estimated only by the nature of that in which he suffers. When a martyr suffers death, as it is the body only that dies, there cannot belong to his death a worth proportioned to his soul. In like manner, when Christ suffers, as Deity cannot suffer, his sufferings, it may be said, can possess only the worth of humanity. But this is to leave out of consideration altogether a circumstance which is allowed by all to have the effect of increasing the value of certain acts and sufferings. The circumstance to which I refer is dignity of character. There are some things which are of the same value, by whomsoever performed. Money, for example, paid by a prince, is of no more mercantile value than money paid by any other man. But there are other things in which the case is widely different, their value depending, in some measure, on the dignity of him by whom they are performed. The relative value of certain actious depends on the rank in the scale of intel

lectual, or moral, or social being of the person who performs them. To the action of an inferior animal we attach less value than to that of a human creature; to that of a man less, again, than to that of an angel. On the same principle, the action of a peasant and that of a king may differ materially, with regard to relative worth. In one point of view, the life of a slave and the life of a monarch are of equal value; they are both human creatures. But, in another point of view, the life of a king is of far greater value than the life of a slave: and the act of laying down his life involves a higher degree of worth in the one than in the other. This distinction is recognized in the address of the people to king David, when he would go forth with them to battle :- Thou shalt not go forth: for if we flee away, they will not care for us ; neither if half of us die, will they care for us : but now THOU ART WORTH TEN THOUSAND OF us.' (2 Sam. xviii. 3.) For a king to submit to excruciating tortures and an ignominious death, with a view to save some one of his subjects, will be reckoned by all a more meritorious piece of conduct than if such had been submitted to by one who held the place merely of a fellow subject. Yet here it might be said, it is humanity and not royalty which suffers, and why attach to it a value arising from the latter, rather than confine it to that which springs from the former circumstance? The case is parallel to that of which we are now speaking. The humanity of Christ alone could either suffer or die, but that humanity belonged to a person who is divine, and this gave to his sufferings and death the value of divinity.*

* “To suppose, because humanity only is capable of suffering, that therefore humanity only is necessary to atonement, is to render dig. nity of character of no account. When Zaleucus, one of the Grecian kings, had made a law against adultery, that whosoever was guilty of this crime should lose both his eyes, his own son is said to have been the first transgressor. To preserve the honour of the law, and at the same time to save his own son from total blindness, the father had recourse to an expedient of losing one of his own eyes, and his son one of his. This expedient, though it did not conform to the letter of the law, yet was well adapted to preserve the spirit of it, as it served 10 evince to the nation the determination of the king to punish adultery, as much, perhaps more than if the sentence had literally been put into execution against the offender. But if instead of this he had appointed that one eye of an animal should be put out, in order to save that of his son, or if a common subject had offered to lose an eye, would either have answered the purpose ? The animal and the subject, were each possessed of an eye, as well as the sovereign. It might be added, tvo, that it was more bodily pain; and seeing it was in the body only that this penalty could be endured, any being that possessed a body

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