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we can never prove the impossibility of atonement for sin, by alleging that no victim can be adequate to the occasion. For the apostle plainly declares that the sacrifice of Christ was More adequate to the purpose for which it was made, than the death of the victim under the ancient dispensation, was to the occasion which demanded it.
Nor can the justice of God be alleged as constituting a ground of impossibilty, that an expiatory offering should be admitted for sinners. All men, who hold that there is forgiveness at all with God, must of course concede that his justice is no more impugned by the forgivness of sin through an atonement, than it would be tcithotit any atonement. Consequently no objection of this nature can be urged by such, against the possibility of atonement
Nor are the advocates of propitiatory sacrifice obliged to content themselves with merely shewing that it is possible; they may advance farther, and venture to say, that the improbability of such an arrangement under the divine government can in no valid manner be shown. Will its opponents appeal to the feelings of men in general, and declare that such a sacrifice is naturally revolting to the human mind? How then comes it to pass, that every tribe and nation, from the philosophic Greeks down to the roaming Tartars and the fiend-like race of New Zealand—every part of our degraded race however ignorant or barbarous, that have at all acknowledged the existence of any divinty—have agreed in offering to him propitiatory sacrifices? Does this universal custom of the mere children of nature. look as if the doctrine were revolting to the first principles of the human breast? Or does it look as if the hand of Omnipotence hadenstamped on the very elements of our moral constitution, a suscep-* tibility of receiving it, a predisposition to admit it? Who will or can explain the origin and prevalence of vicarious sacrifices, on any other ground than this?
I proceed one step further. To me it seems plain, that although reason, unenlightened by revelation, never could have discovered a way of pardon for sin by the expiatory death of the Son of God, yet when all the attributes of the Deity are brought into full view by the Scriptures, and the character of man is also developed in full; then reason may well give, and to preserve her character must give, her assent to the doctrine of pardon by expiatory sacrifice, if she finds it there revealed.
God is just; therefore he will punish sin: and if we read only the book of nature, must we not say too, with SeneCa, "therefore he cannot forgive it?" But revelation discloses his attribute of mercy; and mercy consists essentially in remitting the strict claims of justice, either in whole or in part. How then shall God possess these two attributes, and exercise them in respect to our guilty rebellious race? A question which "ages and generations" could not answer; a mystery hidden from them. A question which philosophy may seek in vain satisfactorily to solve. But in the cross of Christ—in his expiatory sufferings and death—we may find an answer. Here, "mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have embraced each other." In the agonies of Christ, a personage of such transcendant dignity and glory, we see the terrors of divine justice displayed in the most affecting manner, and are impressively taught what evil is due to sin. In the pardon purchased by his death, we contemplate the riches of divine mercy. God might have displayed his justice, indeed, in the world of perdition, and called us to contemplate it as written in characters that would make us shudder. His mercy also he might have displayed, by the absolute and unconditional pardon of sinners, provided no atonement had been made. But who could look on the radiance of his simple justice, as exhibited only in such a manner, without extinguishing his vision forever? Or Avho could contemplate undiscriminating and unconditional mercy only, without being influenced to forget the awful displeasure of God against sin, or being emboldened to continue in it? But in the cross of Jesus, his justice and his mercy are united. Here is the bright spot where the effulgence of the Deity converges and centers. On this we may gaze with admiration, with safety, with delight; for here the rays of eternal glory meet and blend, so as to be sweetly attempered to our vision. The bow in the cloud, where the glories of the sun, the brightest image of its Maker in the natural world, meet and mingle, and present to our view the delightful token that the waters of a flood will drown the earth no more, is but a faint emblem of the at> tempered glory which beams from the cross of Jesus, the token of deliverance from a flood more awful than that of Noah,
Isaiah Uu, 5, 6.
He Was Wounded For Our Transgressions; He Was Bruised For Our Iniuuities; The Chastisement Of Ocr Peace Was Upon Him; And By His Strifes Are We Healed. All We Like Sheep Hate Gone Astray; We Have Turned Evert One To His Own Way J And The Lord Hath Laid On Him The Iniftuity Of Cs All.
I have endeavoured, in the preceding discourse, to make such explanations as are necessary to a right understanding of our subject; and to prepare the way for the introduction of direct proof from the Scriptures respecting the expiatory sacrifice of Christ I have endeavoured to show that we cannot refer the question, whether an expiatory offering has been made by the Son of God for the sins of men, to the tribunal of philosophy. The impossibility of such an offering, philosophy cannot prove. The fact that substitution in the case of penalties incurred, did for many centuries constitute a distinguishing characteristic in the administration of divine government among the Jews, must be admitted; and the possibility that it may constitute a prominent feature of God's general government, cannot therefore be disproved. I advanced a step farther, and undertook to shew that the improbability of an atonement for sin can by no means be made out; inasmuch as the human race at large are deeply impressed with the need of propitiatory sacrifice. Moreover, the attributes of God and the character of man, as revealed in the scriptures, render the doctrine of pardon for sin through the expiatory offering of Christ, by no means improbable.
If I have succeeded in my endeavours to remove obstacles, which seemed to lie in the way of making an impartial estimate of Scripture testimony in respect to the subject before us; and have also shewn that the whole question must be referred for decision solely to the word of God; then we are prepared without embarrassment to pursue the inquiry, What is the testimony of revelation on this subject?
Let me here premise a few considerations respecting the kind of appeal which I am about to make to the Scriptures; and then my proof shall be very brief. For nothing can be plainer, than that if "all Scripture is given by inspiration of God," then "the mouth of two or three witnesses" is enough to establish the point at which I aim. Of the very numerous texts, therefore, to which I might appeal, I shall select but a few; and for every attentive reader of the Bible, these may serve as a clue to all the rest
My first remark is, that every speaker and writer, intending to be understood, employs, and necessarily employs, language in the same sense, in which those whom he addresses use and understand it None will deny so plain a proposition. Nor »"»n it be deemed less certain, that the sacred