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writers designed to be understood by those whom they addressed.
My second remark is, that all the writers of the Old and New Testament were Jews; and that all the Scriptures, with very little exception, were originally addressed to Jews, or to churches which in part consisted of Jews. If we design then to come at the meaning of the sacred writers, we must necessarily construe their language in the same way as the Jews would naturally construe it, who lived in the age of the prophets and apostles. Nothing can be more plain and irrefragable, than this maxim of interpretation. It is no part of the inquiry, what ideas we may affix to the language of Scripture, coming to read it in another tongue, in another region, nurtured in the bosom of speculative philosophy, and desirous of adjusting every thing to our own standard. What Ideas Did The
PROPHETS, APOSTLES, AND EVANGELISTS MEAN TO CONVEY,
is the only proper question, for one who goes simply to the law and to the testimony for the grounds of his belief.
Let us then call to mind that every Jew was habitually conversant with expiatory sacrifices, with substitution; that the system of substitution was inwrought into the very nature of his religious worship; and that all the Scripture language which has respect to the sacrifice of Christ, is directly borrowed from that which was every day used by the Jew, in speaking of the sacrifices that he was required to offer.
With these facts in view, we are ready to present the subject, as it lies before us in the Scriptures.
Our text is fresh in your minds, and I need not here repeat it It asserts that the "chastisement or punishment by which our peaces is procured, was laid upon the Saviour; that by his wounds we are healed; that all we have gone astray, i. e. sinned; and that Jehovah hath laid on him the punishment due to us." Other parts of the chapter, from which our text is taken, repeat the same idea. "For the transgression of my people was he smitten," v. 8; "his soul [i. e. he] was made an offering for sin," v. 10; "he shall justify [i. e. procure pardon for] many, for he shall bear their iniquities," v. 11; "he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors," v. 12.
I only ask here, whether any man can rationally and candidly indulge doubts, in what manner the Jews whom the prophet addressed, must necessarily have understood this language?
In regard to the New Testament, it is so full of the doctrine in question, that the only difficulty lies in making a proper selection of testimony.
Peter has quoted some of the passages, which I have just cited. Observe how he comments on this sentiment "Who his own self, bare our sins
in his own body on the tree by whose stripes
ye were healed;" 1 Pet n. 24. Again, " We were
not redeemed with corruptible things but by
the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot;" 1 Pet i. 18, 19. John the Baptist also exclaims, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world;" i. e. the victim, who by divine appointment is, through his expiatory death, to procure pardon for men; John i. 29. So the apostle John: "The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin," 1 John i. 7. "Who; is the propitiation [or propitiatory sacrifice] for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world;" 1 John Ii. 2. Paul abounds, every where, with the most glowing sentiments in respect to this great point "For he hath made him to be sin [i. e. a sin offering] for us, who knew no sin;" 2 Cor. v. 21. "Christ our passover is sacrificed for us;" 1 Cor. v. 7. "In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins ;" Eph. i. 7. "Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation [or propitiatory sacrifice] through
faith in his blood to declare his righteousness
[i. e. for the manifestation of his pardoning mercy] by the remission of sins;" Rom. m. 25. "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us." Gal. in. 13.
It were easy to proceed, and fill out my whole discourse with passages of the same import. But the limits which I have prescribed to myself forbid; and I shall close with two texts more, where the resemblance between the sacrifices under the law and the offering of Christ, is so brought into view, that it is impossible to mistake the writer's meaning. "For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp; wherefore, Jesus also, that he might make expiation (aytaatf) for the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate;" Heb. Xhi. 11, 12. In other words, what was done in the type, was fulfilled in the antitype. Again; '1 For if the blood of bulls and goats, and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying.of the flesh; how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered up himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works, to serve the living God." Heb. ix. 13,14.
I ask now of any candid man, who has any proper conception of the manner in which the Jews employed language of this nature, nothing more, than that laying his hand on his heart, and making the appeal to him who searches that heart, he would inquire, whether a Jew, addressing Jews with such language as this, could expect or wish to be understood in any other way, than as inculcating the doctrine of substitution, or the expiatory sufferings of Jesus.
I have done with citing testimony; for if what I have adduced does not establish the fact, that the sacred writers did mean to inculcate the doctrine in question; then plainly, the many scores of additional texts which might be quoted, will not prove it; nor any language, I must add, which it would be in the power of a human being to employ.
As a proof of this, I only advert to the manner in which all plain unlettered Christians have always understood these texts, from the time of the apostles down to the present moment. They never had a doubt on the subject of'their meaning, unless some speculating theologian excited it; and of themselves, I do believe, they never would have one, to the end of time.
But I may make an appeal of another kind, in regard to the manner in which this language is and must be understood, by men deeply versed in the idiom of the Scriptures, but wholly indifferent in regard to the fact, whether one or another doctrine is there taught, because they do not recognize their authority to decide upon such matters. The most distinguished oriental and biblical scholar now living, who disclaims all belief in any thing supernatural in the Scriptures, and through the influence of his philosophy maintains that a miracle is impossible, and who therefore cannot be said to have any prejudices in favour of the doctrine of atonement, says, at the close of a masterly explanation of the language of the chapter from which my text is taken, that " most Hebrew readers, who had once been acquainted with offerings and substitution, must Necessarily understand the words of our chapter as asserting it; and there is No Doubt," he adds, "that the apostolic representation, in respect to the propitiatory death of Christ, certainly rests in a manner altogether preeminent, on this ground." (Gesenius, Comm. uber Jesaiam, Lhi. 10.)
So much for the testimony of Scripture, and for the manner in which the unlearned and the learned have understood and do understand it
We come then, if my proof is valid, to the simple alternative, either to admit the doctrine in question, or reject the authority of the sacred writers.