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substitute. He was no doubt in earnest in this declaration, and as much inspired as he is on any other article. I sincerely pray that his preference may not be his perdition! What kind of a christian community is that with whom such a vaunted preacher of Christ is still suffered to exercise an uncensured ministry ? 61 But 2, I am scarcely convinced that one of them, with whom I have ever conversed, or whose writings 6? I have ever
62 read, either clearly understands or properly believes the atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ. Barclay, Fox, and others do indeed say, now and then, that Christ died for us and was our sacrifice; but this is. so infrequent, so general, so transient, so opaque a confession, that it serves little other purpose than to prove how deeply they disparaged, and how superficially they comprehended, that glorious transaction. A writer on astronomy, if he intelligently received the copernican system, would not merely glance at the cardinal fact of the central position of the sun and the tributary movements of surrounding orbs; he would signalize the illustrious truth, and make it as renowned in his treatise as it is in the economy of the firmament.
of the firmament. What that fact is to the solar system, such is the doctrine of atonement to “ the truth as it is in Jesus.” To deny it, to omit it, to obscure it, to disparage it, is to quench the glory of the gospel and the hopes of the world. “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.' In the sententious language of the beloved apostle, life and light are his accustomed tropes for salvation and knowledge. Thus, in Christ was salva
tion through his atonement on the cross; and this salvation properly understood, so illumines the mind that one knows, understands, sees, the things of duty and of God with correctness and unto salvation. “In him was life and the life was the light of men.' The sentence is dense, but not mystical ; it ever was and ever will be true. Observation perpetually confirms it ; they understand daty who have learned salvation. The cross is itself the key and the torch of all sound philosophy in universal ethics. It is “the light of men,” because it is “the life" likewise : for Christ becomes “our life," because he died for us, as an expiatory sacrifice to the glorious justice of God. Hence, when we hear of a religious teacher who transiently adverts to the death of Christ, but sees no attraction there to detain his thoughts, we know at least that he is so uninstructed in the central glories of the kingdom that he is incompetent to the work of the ministry, as one of those who “understand neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.” To this I can affix the seal of my own experience-and of my perfect conviction. I once sincerely compassionated the emptiness of the communion-service and the superstition of those who revered it: but then I knew not the Father or Christ, and was deplorably ignorant of the atonement. When my mind was revolutioned by the truth on that excellent doctrine, I repented of my compassion “in dust and ashes," and sincerely “ abhorred” my arrogance before God : having no hope except in “ Jesus Christ and him crucified” as “an offering for sin," and having posi
tively a sweet and glorious hope of “ redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of his grace.
As to the importance of the atonement, it can easily be proved from the scriptures that not a sin could be remitted without it; that all the remissions ever granted previous to the advent of Christ, from Abel downward, were “ for Christ's sake,” who was to appear and suffer in behalf of sinners; and that all that have been since granted were equally for his sake, who has appeared, and has "put away sin by the sacrifice of himself;" that he is the Savior and the only Savior of men ; that his principal design in coming into the world was “ to save sinners" by dying for them ; for though he “left us an example,” this was not the principal end of his manifestation. His example was not his atonement; and “ without shedding of blood is no remission.” All the appointed hundreds of millions of symbolical sacrifices that bled for 4000 years on the altars of God, were prefigurative of Christ and derived all their efficacy from their relation to him. They were all prospectively typical of “the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world ;" even as “the Lord's Supper” is commemorative and retrospectively typical of the same self-offered victim.
The philosophy of the atonement is--I must think-intelligible ; and, when understood, the most stupendous spectacle of moral grandeur of which in all our knowledge there is any example. The ineffable glory of God is no where apparent to our perceptions as it shines reflected from the cross. His unsuffering justice, his unspotted purity, his infinite benevolence, his wonderful philanthropy, his eternal faithfulness, his unfathomable mercy and grace to guilty men, his consummate wisdom, his absolute supremacy, his perfect unchangableness, his inconceivable power, his matchless condescension, his greatness and his glory; all his perfections, natural, moral, communicable, incommunicable, there harmonize, and blend, and blaze, with an effulgence which nothing else can illustrate. That God is a most perfect moral governor ; that his law. is not to be broken with impunity ; that his administration is at once infinitely authoritative and infinitely benign; that he punishes, not for the sake of punishing, but for the sake of preserving the moral order of the universe; that the whole human race is sinful and so exposed to punishment ; that sin deserves the awful curse which the law of God denounces against it; that his kindness to sinners shall never be exercised at variance with his kindness to the universe, nor mercy triumph at the expense of justice; that mercy is that to which a sinner has no claim, no right, no title, from the lawgiver; that God is under no obligation to provide a Savior for the guilty, and that it was therefore grace, not debt, that one is provided; that the law of God is “holy, just, and good,” and that its preceptive claims are never repealable ; that men must
: hence be brought to love the law in order to approve of the gospel ; that the gospel is not merciful and gracious, if the law is not just and excellent; that it is hypocrisy to profess love for the gospel
while we secretly dislike the perfection of the law that God pities whom he punishes, and “ delighteth not in the death of him that dieth ;" that when God can answer, by an expedient of his own adoption, all the ends of punishment, through atonement and properly without punishment, he is then ready to pardon with eternal and infinite and generous benignity ; that the atonement did not make him essentially placable, since this was his character from everlasting, but that it qualified his administration to show the mercy of his nature in the salvation of sinners; that he procured the atonement at an infinite expense, and will not suffer it to be made in vain; that his providence is higher, and deeper, and larger, and stronger, than all the skill of his adversaries, and that his pleasure shall be accomplished in their overthrow, except they repent and become his friends ; that he is an infinitely glorious and all-perfect being, a God of unfathomable wisdom and illimitable intelligence, “ over all and blessed forever :" these are some, and only a few, of the living truths which radiate from the cross as from their proper focus, and impress the image of their own loveliness on the spirits of christians. They give us a glimpse of that glory which will enlighten the perceptions of the church triumphant forever. Many other truths are taught most impressively in connection with the cross; many of a speculative, experimental, and practical character, which are all excellent, but which we cannot now enumerate.
Suffice it that a genuine estimate of the moral glory of the atone