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ishment, the divine law is calculated to deceive mankind by threatening a punishment, which cannot, without injustice, be inflicted: for it would be unjust to punish sin, if such punishment is unmerited. Nor is this all. If what is here asserted, is true, either the law misrepresents the divine character, or that character itself is wanting in moral purity. Nearly the same consequences will result from the other suggestion, viz. that obedience in one instance makes amends for disobedience in others. This, no less than the other opinion, is contradictory to the law of God. Nor can any rule of rectitude be conceived, to which this suggestion may be reconciled.

II. It is objected, that the doctrine of atonement is not consistent with our best ideas of divine mercy: for if God has received compensation for the offences of men, his not exacting punishment from them is no indication of compassion or liberality.

If it were correct to represent the sacrifice of Christ, as perfectly analogous to the payment of a debt; and that this measure originated with Christ, and not with the Father, the objection, perhaps, could not easily be removed: for when a debt is paid, he, to whom it was owed, has no further demands; and gratitude seems exclusively due to him, by whom the payment was made.

But this representation is not sanctioned by the scriptures. They speak of the Father, as originating the constitution of grace: and they describe the atonement, as that, through the medium of which grace is so exercised, that the sinner's pardon may be accompanied with a declaration of the divine displeasure against sin : that “God may be just, and the justifier of him, that believeth.” Now, it can surely derogate nothing from the riches of divine liberality, that in the manner of exercising it, wisdom is employed, and precautions are taken to prevent abuse. It were strange indeed, if the generosity of a prince must be questioned, because it is not an unqualified, random generosity, but exhibited in company with discretion and foresight.

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But the fact is, that the atonement of Christ is not only consistent with liberality on the part of God; but serves emi. nently to display such liberality.

So far as the justice of divine requirements are questionable, it is equally questionable, whether any favor is shown to those, who are not punished for violating such requirements.

But should the transgressors of law be pardoned on the sole condition of repentance; especially if it were done frequently, suspicions would be entertained, that a perception of undue severity in the law was the real occasion of this lenity. Whatever, therefore, tends to show the justice of divine requirements ; whatever tends to magnify the law, and make it honorable, tends, in the same degree, to exhibit and illustrate the liberality of God, in pardoning those, by whom its requirements have been violated. The par don of every penitent is virtually attended with a declara

j tion, hoth on the part of God and man, that the divine commands are holy and just. The penitent himself, makes this declaration by believing on him, “ who died the just for the unjust.” The Deity makes this declaration by accepting his penitence exclusively on the ground of our Lord's interposition. Indeed, the language of the transaction and the language of the divine law, unite perfectly in this ; viz. to express the sentiments of Deity as to moral evil. According to the opinions of those, who reject the doctrine of atonement, there were no obstacles to the exercise of divine mercy. Whereas, according to the sentiment, which we endeavor to establish, these obstacles were such, as to require for their removal, the intervention of the Son of God.

To pardon sinners, where there was nothing to render the measure difficult, is obviously a less display of generosity

, than to pardon them, when the removal of great obstacles was previously required. The doctrine in question, therefore, far from depressing, tends directly to raise our ideas of divine liberality

Facts, it is believed, well correspond with this reasoning. The strongest expressions of personal demerit, and the most lively views of our Creator's benignity and grace, are not found among those, who, considering repentance alone as the ground of pardon, reject the opinions, for which we contend.

III. It is further said, in opposition to the doctrine of atonement, that were it true, it would have been revealed in the Jewish scriptures.

Without conceding, that the Jewish scriptures are silent as to this subject, I observe, that were they entirely so, it would prove, neither that the doctrine is false, nor unimportant. We are far from being judges, how many subjects will be elucidated by a divine revelation. The works of nature are as truly a communication from God, as are the Jewish scriptures. Yet in this communication, many subjects of acknowledged moment, are left in perfect uncertainty. Now, suppose further light should be imparted by immediate revelation, who could predict what portion of the darkness, remaining after the first, would by this be removed?

The objection is susceptible of another answer. In the writings of Moses, I mean the first five books of scripture, nothing is distinctly said, as to the doctrine of a future state. Let them be subjected to the most scrupulous examination, this doctrine will not there find direct and prominent evi. dence, to support it. But is the doctrine of a future state either untrue, or unimportant? Is it not generally considered as lying at the very foundation of all religion ? Now if God was pleased to make a revelation, of which this doctrine was no part, with what confidence can we infer, either the falsity or insignificance of any other doctrine, because it makes no part of this revelation ?

But even in the four gospels, it is objected, that much less is said of atonement, than we should be justified in expecting, if the doctrine held so important a place in the christian system, as is commonly supposed.

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But the fact is, that the atonement of Christ is not only consistent with liberality on the part of God; but serves eminently to display such liberality.

So far as the justice of divine requirements are questionable, it is equally questionable, whether any favor is shows to those, who are not punished for violating such requirements.

But should the transgressors of law be pardoned on the sole condition of repentance; especially if it were done frequently, suspicions would be entertained, that a perception of undue severity in the law was the real occasion of this lenity. Whatever, therefore, tends to show the justice of divine requirements; whatever tends to magnify the law, and make it honorable, tends, in the same degree, to exhibit and illustrate the liberality of God, in pardoning those, by whom its requirements have been violated. The pardon of every penitent is virtually attended with a declaration, both on the part of God and man, that the divine commands are holy and just. The penitent himself, makes this declaration by believing on him, " who died the just for the unjust.” The Deity makes this declaration by accepting his penitence exclusively on the ground of our Lord's interposition. Indeed, the language of the transaction and the language of the divine law, unite perfectly in this; viz. to express the sentiments of Deity as to moral evil. According to the opinions of those, who reject the doctrine of atonement, there were no obstacles to the exercise of divine mercy. Whereas, according to the sentiment, which we endeavor to establish, these obstacles were such, as to require for their removal, the intervention of the Son of God.

To pardon sinners, where there was nothing to render the measure difficult, is obviously a less display of generosity, than to pardon them, when the removal of great obstacles was previously required. The doctrine in question, therefore, far from depressing, tends directly to raise our ideas of divine liberality.

II. The doctrine, we have been discussing, is calculated to raise our ideas of the importance of man. The degrees of pleasure and pain, of which we are now susceptible, are not, indeed, inconsiderable. In what measure, our capacities for either may hereafter be enlarged, we are unable to determine. But unless the whole sum of misery, or enjoyment, reserved for each human soul, were exceedingly great, we can hardly imagine, that the Son of God would have been offered up, as a propitiatory sacrifice.

III. Having already had occasion to observe, how much the doctrine, which we have been considering, tends to exalt our views of the riches of divine grace, I shall only subjoin, that it tends no less to display the moral turpitude of sin. God, though almighty, and omniscient, having a perfect knowledge of the universe, and having all means at his command, could devise no method less expensive, in which to exercise mercy. How malignant the nature of sin, if pardon could be offered on no easier terms: and with how much vigila": should we guard against that, which thus tends to spr.

ishonor, injury, confusion, and pain, through the empire of God.

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