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In view of these things is it not a subject of glad hope that Christ will come again? Well may we sing
“Come, thou Desire of nations, quickly come !
Let us then live in habitual preparation for his advent. To each one of us he will come soon; to all he will come suddenly. Whether he come to remove us by death, which is a thing appointed for all men, or whether in the clouds of heaven to judge the world, the period is not far distant when we shall see him. Yes, our eyes shall behold the Son of God in his glory! That which christians have long desired—a sight of their Savior who died for them, shall soon, very soon be granted us. No christian begins a week or a day in which there is not a possibility that before its close he may have seen the Son of God in his glory. None lies down upon his bed at night who may not, when the morning dawns upon this world, be gazing on the glories of the great Redeemer in the heavens.
Seeing then that such is the posture of affairs, “what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat."
THE ATONEMENT OF CHRIST.!
Heb. ix. 24. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which
are the figures of the true ; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.
No one can rise from an attentive reading of the New Testament without the conviction that the atonement of Jesus Christ is the most prominent subject in it. It is the ultimate theme of all its writers, and is to be found in some form and in some of its relations on every page. So deeply was the Rev. Dr. Andrew Fuller persuaded of the prominence with which it is set forth in the Scriptures, and which it holds in the great system of redemption, that he sketched a plan for a new system of theology in which it was to be the central truth around which all the other doctrines of religion were to be interwoven. The Rev. Robert Hall also expressed it as his deep and growing conviction, that the atonement of Jesus Christ rested at the very foundation of the true system of vital religion. It is a truth so fundamentally important that without it christianity dwindles down into a flat, cold, and powerless morality, without mysteries or sublimities, having no terrors for the conscience nor comforts for the believer. In its absence the soul languishes like a shaded plant, or flourishes only in its own disgrace. The sinner must have it, else he will sink into the gloomy horrors of Atheism and superstition, or have his noblest and tenderest affections shrivelled and crisped with fears which nothing can allay. But prominent and important as the doctrine of Christ's atonement is, and familiar as we would suppose men to be with it on that account, it is nevertheless much encumbered with error, and but imperfectly understood even by some of our most estimable divines. A mere glance of an inquisitive mind into our wri
* Some may prefer to call the subject of the following discourse, the “ Intercession" of Christ. “Atonement” is used, because it is in this connection that the term is mostly employed in the Scriptures.
tings on theology will satisfy as to this point. An attempt therefore to illustrate this great doctrine—to relieve it from the obscurity in which it rests, humble as that attempt may be, it is to be hoped will be patiently and favorably received.
Let it then be clearly and distinctly understood that when the atonement is spoken of I do not mean anything else but the atonement: I do not mean redemption—nor ransom—nor reconciliation -nor propitiation. These are words which have each a specific meaning of their own. They all designate things relating to the atonement, but neither of them specifically refers to the atonement itself.
Redemption signifies buying again—buying out of the hands of another. It sets before the mind a work or transaction of which the atonement constitutes but a part.
Ransom signifies the price paid in the transaction of redemption. It refers to the thing presented as a satisfaction to Divine justice for the sins of those who are the subjects of the Gospel. The atonement however is the official act in which this ransom is presented.
Reconciliation is an effect which depends upon the atonement. It signifies the making of those friends who were at variance. comprehends the penitent return of the sinner to his offended Maker, and his kind reception on the part of Jehovah in view of the atonement.
Propitiation refers to the sacrifice offered to God to avert the punishment of sin and secure the bestowment of his favor. In the Gospel it corresponds very nearly with the word ransom. designates the sacrifice with which the atonement is made, but not the atonement itself.
Nor do I mean the death of Christ when I speak of the atonement. We are very prone to speak in such a way as to confound these two things. And though I hold the immolation of the Savior on mount Calvary to be a thing essential to the atonement, and a most significant and important event in the history of our redemption; yet, statements of the kind alluded to are doubtless grounded upon indistinct or erroneous views of the Messiah's priesthood. I am unable to call up a single inspired passage which can be legitimately made to sustain them. There may be circumstances in which they are allowable; but when we come to
view things narrowly, and in their true relations, we will find that they seriously conflict with the exact truth. As to the material for the atonement—the foundation and subject of it, this was unquestionably and most emphatically the death of Christ. But the material for the atonement is obviously to be distinguished from the atonement itself. I know of no processes of logic by which the stones, mortar and timbers which lie scattered on the ground can be proven to be the stately mansion which the architect will subsequently build out of them. The atonement as I understand it, is the official presentation of the blood of Jesus Christ at the throne of God by our great High Priest in heaven.
1. That this is a correct view of the matter will be seen from the nature of the Jewish service on the great day of atonement. This service is everywhere represented in the Gospel as exactly typical of the work of salvation by Jesus Christ. By finding out then in what the atonement consisted in these services, and what particular part of the work of salvation by Christ it prefigured, we will then know what to call the atonement of our High Priest.
The whole service for the great day of atonement will be found all minutely laid down in the 16th chapter of Leviticus.
From this we learn that the high priest was to take several selected animals and slay them, then take their blood with burning incense into the holy of holies, where, by the sprinkling of the blood before and on the mercy-seat, he was to make an atonement for himself, for the congregation, and for the holy place. This constituted the principal and most significant part of the service. We then find the whole to comprehend these two things, the killing of sacrifices—and the offering of the blood in the holy of holies. The killing of the victims however was a thing which ordinarily devolved
persons presenting them. (Lev. iv. 4.) And on the great day of expiation it devolved upon the high priest only because he was himself numbered among the transgressors, and not because it was a constituent part of the priestly office. The great business of the high priest then which arose purely out of his office, was the sprinkling of the blood in the holy of holies. Hence we see that the atonement in the Jewish service was the official presentation of the blood of the sacrifices for sin before the Lord in the holy of holies. The slaying of the victims and the violent sufferings which they endured in the surrender of their
lives were no part of it. These sacrificial ceremonies were performed in the outer court; the atonement was made “ within the veil.” The presentation and immolation of the victims were only preparatory, though indispensable arrangements for the atonement.
The question now comes up, what part of the work of Jesus Christ was represented by the atonement-service of the Jewish high priest in the holy of holies? This is a matter easily to be determined. The holy of holies is everywhere set forth as a type and representation of heaven. It is several times in this epistle called a “figure”_"type"_“ pattern” of heaven. The Scrip tures in a few instances call it heaven. All the Jewish writers have regarded it as a representation of heaven. And the whole arrangement and all the symbols of that sacred apartment go on to show that such was its design. And as it was an emblem of heaven, so all the ceremonies performed in it were also emblematic of the momentous transactions which are transpiring in heaven. And as Aaron and his successors who were types of Christ officiated in the holy of holies on earth, so the Savior officiates in the immediate dwelling-place of God. And as the atonement under the typical dispensation consisted properly of the official presentation of the blood from the sacrifices before the symbol of the Divine presence, so according to the statement already made, the atonement of the real economy—the christian dispensation is the official presentation of Christ's blood before God as he reveals himself in heaven, by our great High Priest.
2. And that Christ does carry on the great business of his priesthood in heaven, is also very plainly declared in various parts of the New Testament. Paul speaks of christian hope entering " within the veil, (into heaven) whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest forever after the order of Melchisedec.” (Heb. vi. 19, 20.) Here
(Heb. vi. 19, 20.) Here it is distinctly stated that he has gone to heaven as our high priest, and that the most important business of his priesthood only comienced after his ascension. Again, he encourages the believing Jews to hold fast their profession, “ seeing that we have a great High Priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God.” (Heb. iv. 14.) Again he says, “ we have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; a minister of holy things, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord