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Father. Our Saviour too could not finally perish. It was not possible he should be held under the power of death, Acts ii. 24. Otherwise it had been against the laws of reason, that the precious should for ever suffer for the vile. Better ten thousand worlds had been lost, than that the Holy One of God should perish. He saved us through his sufferings, though as by fire; and had a glorious reward in the issue. There is also an infinite good redounds from his suffering : for sinners are exempted from death, and the preservation of the guilty is for the glory of "God's government; for those who are redeemed by his death, are renewed by his Spirit. He covers their sins, that he may cure them. He is made righteousness and sanctification to his people, 1 Cor. i. 30. The serious belief that Christ by dying hath rescued us from hell, produces a superlative love to him; an ingenuous and grateful fear lest we should offend him; an ambition to please him in all things; briefly, universal obedience to his will, as its most natural and necessary effect. So that in laying the punishment on Ch under which mankind must have sunk for ever, there is nothing against justice.
2. The death of Christ is the price which redeems us from our woful captivity. Mankind was fallen, under the dominion of Satan and death, and could not obtain freedom by escape, or mere power; for by the order of divine justice we were detained prisoners: so that till God, the supreme Judge, is satisfied, there can be no discharge. Now the Lord Christ hath procured our deliverance by his death, according to the testimony of the apostle; “We have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins, Col. i. 14. His blood is congruously called a "price," because in consideration of it: our freedom is purchased. He is our Redeemer by ransom ; "he gave himself a ransom for all;" and that signifies the price paid for the freeing of a captive, 1 Tim. ii. 6. The word used by the apostle, dvri'durpov, hath a special emphasis; it signifies an exchange of conditions with us, the redeeming of us from death by dying for us; as the dutilukot, who devoted themselves to death, for the rescuing of others. Our Saviour told his disciples, that the Son of man came to give his life a ransom for many;" lúspov dvrì holdūv, Matt. xx. 28. 'Avrà signifies a commutation or ex'change, with respect of things or persons.
Thus we are commanded to render to none “evil for evil :" and, “If a son ask of his father a fish, will he for a fish give him a ser
pent ?" duri ixoúəs öpıv, Luke xi. 11. When it is used in respect of persons, it imputes a substitution in another's place. Archelaus reigned “in the room of his father Herod;" avri 'Howgov, Matt. ii. 22. Peter paid tribute " for Christ,” that is, representing him. The effect therefore of our Saviour's words, that“ he gave his life a ransom for many” is evidently this, that he died in their stead, and his life as a price intervened to obtain their redemption. It is for this reason the glorified saints sung a hymn of praise to the divine Lamb, saying, Thou art worthy, for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood,” Rev. v. 9.
The singular and blessed effect of Christ's death, distinguishes it from the death of the most excellent martyrs. If he had died only for the confirmation of the gospel, or to exhibit to us a pattern of suffering graces, what were there peculiar and extraordinary in his death ? How can it be said that he alone was crucified for us? For the martyrs sealed the truth with their blood, and left admirable examples of love to God, of zeal for his glory, of patience under torments, and of compassion to their persecutors : yet it were intolerable blasphemy to say that they redeemed us by their death. And it is observable, when the death of Christ is propounded in scripture as a pattern of patience, it is with a special circumstance that distinguishes it from all others.
" Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example that we should follow his steps: who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree; by whose stripes ye were healed.” 1 Peter ii. 21, 24. The truth is, if the sole end of Christ's death were to induce men to believe his promises and to imitate his graces, there had been no such necessity of it; for the miracles he did, had been sufficient to confirm the gospel, yet remission of sins is never attributed to them; and the miseries he suffered during the course of his life, had been sufficient to instruct us how to behave ourselves under indignities and persecutions: and at the last he might have given as full a testimony to the truth of his doctrine by his descent from the cross, as by dying for us. But no lower price than his blood could make compensation to the law, and satisfaction to God; and to deny this, is to rob him of the glory of his death, and to destroy all our comfort.
It is objected by those who nullify the mystery of the cross of the Lord Jesus ; how could God receive this price, since he gave up his Son to that death which redeems us ?
And how can our Redeemer, supposing him God, make satisfaction to himself ? To this I answer,
(1.) The infinite goodness of God in giving our Redeemer, doth not divest him of the office of supreme Judge, nor prejudice his examining of the cause according to his sovereign jurisdiction, and his receiving a ransom to preserve the rights of justice inviolable. There is an eminent instance of this in Zaleucus, the prince of the Locrians, who passed a law that adulterers should lose both their eyes; and when his son was convicted of that crime, the people who respected him for his excellent virtues, out of pity to him, interceded for the offender. Zaleucus, (vid. Ælian Var. Histor. 1. 13. c. 24.) in a conflict between zeal for justice and affection to his son, took but one eye from him, and parted with one of his own to satisfy the law: and thus he paid and received the punishment; he paid it as a father, and received it as the conservator of public justice. Thus when guilty mankind in its poverty could not pay the forfeiture to the law, God, the Father of mercies, was pleased to give it from the treasures of his love ; that is, the blood of his Son for our
And this he receives from the hand of Christ offered upon the cross, as the supreme Judge, and declares it fully valuable, and the rights of justice to be truly performed.
(2.) It is not inconsistent with reason, that the Son of God, clothed with our nature, should by his death make satisfaction to the Deity, and therefore to himself. In the according of two parties, a person that belongs to one of them, may interpose for reconciliation, provided that he divests his own interest, and leaves it with the party from whom he
Thus when the senate of Rome and the people were in dissention, one of the senators, Menenius Agrippa, trusted his own concernment with the council of which he was a member, and mediated between the parties to reconcile them, Liv. lib. 2. Thus when the Father and the Son, both possessed of the imperial power, have been offended by rebellious subjects, it is not inconvenient that the Son interpose as a Mediator, to restore them to the favour of the Prince. And by this he reconciles them to himself, and procures them pardon of an offence by which his own majesty was violated. This he doth as Mediator, not as a party concerned. · Now this is a fit illustration of the great work of our redemption, so far as human things can represent divine ; for all the persons of the glorious Trinity were equally provoked by our sin; and to obtain our pardon, the Son with the consent of the Father, deposits his interest into his hands, and as a Mediator intervenes between us and him, who in this transaction is the depositary of the rights of heaven; and having performed what justice required, he reconciled the world to God, that is, to the Father, himself, and the eternal Spirit. In this cause his person is the same, but his quality is different: he made satisfaction as mediator, and received it as God. It is in this sense that the apostle saith, 1 John ii. 2. “We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;" not to exclude the other persons, but in regard the Father as the first person is the protector of justice, our Mediator in appeasing him appeases the other also.
3. The death of Christ is represented under the notion of a sacrifice offered up to God.
For the more understanding of this, we must consider that sacrifices were of two kinds.
Some were eucharistical ; they are called peace-offerings, by which the sacrificer acknowledged the bounty of God and his own unworthiness, and rendered praise for a favour received, and desired the divine blessing.
Others were expiatory; the sin offerings for the averting of God's wrath. The institution of these was upon a double reason—that man is a sinner, and therefore obnoxious to the just indignation and extreme displeasure of the holy and righteous God—that God was to be propitiated, that he might pardon them. These truths are engraven in the natural consciences of men, as appears by the pretended expiations of sin among the heathens ; but are more clearly revealed in the scripture. Under the law, without the “shedding of blood, there was no remission ;" to signify, that God would not forgive sin without the atonement of justice, which required the death of the offender, but it being tempered with mercy, accepted a sacrifice in his stead. And that there was a substition of the beast in the place of the guilty offender, appears .by the law concerning sacrifices.—None were instituted for capital offences, as murder, idolatry, adultery, because the sinner himself was to be cut off; but for other sins, which although in strictness they deserved death, yet God, who was the King of Israel, was pleased to remit the forfeiture, and to accept the life of the sacrifice for the life of the sinner.The guilty person was to offer a clean beast of his own; to signify the surrogation of it in his stead · for in the relation
of a possessor he had a dominion over it, to apply it to that
The priest, or the person that offered, was to lay his hands on the head of the sacrifice, thereby consecrating it to God, and devoting it in his stead to bear the punishment. For this reason it was called a sin, and a curse.- -The confession of sin by the people or the priest, as in the day of atonement, signified that the guilt of all met on the sacrifice for expiation. -The blood was to be shed, wherein the vital spirits are, express representation of what the sinner deserved, and that it was accepted for his life.—Lastly; the deprecating of God's anger was joined with the sacrifice; as when a man was slain and the murderer was not found, the elders of the city next to the dead body, were to kill an heifer in a valley, and pray that innocent blood might not be laid to their charge; otherwise the land could not be cleansed from the guilt of blood, but by the blood of the murderer.
The effects of these sacrifices declare their nature ; and they are answerable to their threefold respect, to God, to sin, to man—to God, that his anger might be appeased ; to sin, that the fault might be expiated; to man, that the guilty person might obtain pardon, and freedom from punishment. Thus when a sacrifice was duly offered, it is said to be “of a sweet savour unto the Lord,” and to atone him, Lev. i. 17; and the remission of sins, with the release of the sinner, followed. “ The priest shall expiate it,” that is, declaratively, “and it shall be forgiven him.”
Now there was a double guilt contracted by those that were under the Mosaical dispensation.
(1.) Typical, from the breach of ceremonial constitution, which had no relation to morality. Such were natural pollutions, accidental diseases, the touching of a dead body, which were esteemed vicious according to the law, and the defiled were excluded from sacred and civil society. Now these impurities, considered in themselves, deserved no punishment; for involuntary and inevitable infirmities, and corporeal things which do not affect the inward man, are the marks of our abject and weak state, but are not themselves sinful. Therefore ceremonial guilt was expiated by a ceremonial offering ; for it is according to the nature of things, that obligations should be dissolved by the same means by which they are contracted. As therefore those pollutions were penal merely by the positive will of God, so (the exercise of his supreme right being tempered with wisdom and