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ON THE DOCTRINE OF THE A-
TONEMENT.

In a Series of Letters to a Friend.

(Continued from page 515.)

LETTER III.

The Doctrine illustrated, proved, and defended from Scripture.

DEAR SIR,

IT is asserted that, when Christ is said to have borne our griefs and sins, the word in the original sometimes signifies merely to take away. We need not then imagine that our sins, guilt, and punishment were laid on him, or borne by him, but only that he freed us from them, or took them away from

us.

I answer, though the word here used may sometimes bear the sense here mentioned; yet Socinus himself owns that the phrase, bearing of sins and sor rows, commonly means bearing them, as a burden is borne, or suffering under them. This is evidently the meaning of the threatening, which so often occurs in Scripture against transgressors," He shall bear his iniquity." Grotius, one of the most learned critics, says, that in the language of the Scriptures, bearing of sins always signifies bearing the guilt or suffering the punishment of them. I cannot find that it ever has a different meaning. That the phrase is to be so understood in this place, is plainly intimated and implied, when it is said, " The Lord laid our iniquities upon him." This heavy burden, which would have crushed and sunk the world, was laid upon him, that he might bear it, and so free us from it.

The prophet has also declared,
that this was his meaning. Hav-
ing said of Christ, "He hath
borne our griefs,” he adds, “ and
carried our sorrows ;" and after-
wards, "He shall justify many,
for he shall bear their iniquities."
Here a different word is used in
the Hebrew [sabal] which always
signifies to carry a load. Christ
carried our sorrows and iniqui-
ties, when he was wounded,
bruised, and chastized or pun-
ished for our sins. St. Peter al-
so says, that " He bare our sins.”
(the guilt and punishment of
them)" in his own body on the
tree." He freed us from the
burden of our guilt by taking it
upon himself, and making sat-
isfaction for it on the cross.

But the words of Matthew are objected, who speaks of Christ's healing the sick, as a fulfilment of the words of Esaias, "Himself took our infirmities, and bear our sicknesses." Christ did not transfer the diseases of the sick to himself, but healed them; and so took them away. This shows how the words of the prophet were understood, and applied by the evangelist. I answer; the words of the prophets are in the New Testament sometimes applied by way of allusion, or accommodation, to events, which the prophets did not primarily and chiefly mean. Dr. Clark accordingly observes, that, though the original meaning of Esaias is the same with that of the apostle, when he said, "Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many;" yet the words of the prophet might also be accommodated to Christ's healing the sick, and in that sense be said to be fulfilled or verified. Besides, it

should be considered, that Christ's sufferings have obtained for us our temporal, as well as spiritual mercies ; our bodies, as well as our souls, are healed by his stripes. His wearisome labours in going about to do good and heal the sick, and his tender compassion for them, might also, in some sense, be termed his taking and bearing their infirmities. All the sufferings in his life, as well as at his death, were for our sins, and were a part of the price, by which all our mercies were purchased for us.

vious sense of the apostle's words. What could have been said more fully in point?

This last passage, which we have been considering, suggests to us another important topic of argument, often mentioned by the apostles; and that is, that Christ suffered and died, as an atoning sacrifice for sin. "He gave himself for us an offering and sacrifice to God. Christ our passover was sacrificed for us. Through the eternal Spirit he offered himself without spot unto God. Once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself."

The words of the apostle, which have just been mentioned, are a strong proof, that the burden of our sin and guilt was laid or charged upon Christ, and borne by him. "Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; but to them that look for him, he shall appear without sin unto salvation." When he was offered as a sacrifice, our guilt was assumed by him, the punishment, due to us for sin, was inflicted upon him, and borne by him. But at his second coming he will appear without sin; that, is, without bearing our sins, as when he was offered or sacrificed for them. Christ was always without sin in himself. But, when he was offered for us, the burden of our guilt and punishment lay upon him. But by satisfying the penal obligation, he was under, he freed himself from this burden; he bears it no longer. So that at his second coming he will appear, not only without sin in himself, but also without bearing the guilt and punishment, ment of our sins, as he did, when he was offered, as a sacrifice for them. This seems to be the obVol. II. No. 12. Zzz

A sacrifice has been defined by some, "a thing devoted to God." But the most important, essential, and discriminating properties of an atoning sacrifice are wholly left out of this definition. Both the Hebrew and Greek word for a sacrifice signifies a slain victim. In sacrifices for sin the shedding of the blood was necessary. Without it there was no remission. A sin-offering was a victim slain, and offered to God, to make atonement for the sins of the person, for whom it was offered, that so his sin might be forgiven, or not imputed to him.

In these sacrifices under the law the victim was represented, as substituted in the place or stead of the persons, for whom it was sacrificed, and their sins and guilt were represented, as transferred to the victim, which must bleed and die instead of the sinners, in order to make atoneand obtain forgiveness for them. The sin, the crimin. ality, the fault, was never imag. ined to be infused or communi.

cated to the victim; but the guilt and the punishment, belonging to the transgressor, were represented in a type, as transferred to his substitute, who is therefore said to bear the sins, that were typically laid upon him. See Levit. xvi. Here was a striking representation of vicarious guilt and punishment.

Now, what was represented in the typical sacrifice, was done in truth and reality in the sacrifice of Christ. Though our sins were not infused into him; though the blame-worthiness, implied in sin and inseparable from it, was not communicated to him, nor was God displeased with him; though his beloved Son was never more the object of the Father's complacency, than when he was offered to bear the sins of many; yet the guilt and punishment of sin, the obligation to satisfy justice, by bearing the curse of the law, was transferred; assigned to him, and taken upon himself, as our sponsor, and thus, as Paul says, He put it away, or abolished the penal bond, which we were under, by the sacrifice of himself.

that the legal sacrifices were allusions to the great and final atonement to be made by the blood of Christ, and not that this was an allusion to those." The priesthood sacrifices and atonements of the law were but figures of the priesthood sacrifice and atonement of Christ, who was the substance or original, of which the others were only patterns, or typical representations.

To evade this argument, it has been said, "that Christ is termed a sacrifice for sin only in a figurative sense, and in allusion to the levitical sacrifices." But what reason have we to give any credit to unsupported assertions? We may say with more reason, that the expiatory sacrifices under the law were such only in a figurative sense. For they were but figures, shadowy or typical representations of the sacrifice of Christ, the only true, real, and substantial propitiation. "The doctrine of the apostle," says Bishop Butler, "is plainly this,

There were indeed eucharistic sacrifices, or thank offerings. These might be unbloody. In allusion to these, Christians are exhorted to "present themselves to God living sacrifices; to offer to God the sacrifice of praise, which is the fruit of their lips, giving thanks to his name; and not to forget to do good, and communicate, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased." But the nature and design of these are entirely different from atoning sacrifices. The sacrifice, by which Christ made atonement, necessarily required the shedding of his blood, and bearing our sins, and the curse of the law, on the cross. Without this our guilt must still have remained upon us.

We have the testimony of the apostle Paul again to the point in hand," God hath made Christ to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” The expressions are figurative, but the general purport of the passage seems obvious enough. To this purpose "God made Christ to be sin for us," the guilt and punishment of sin were laid upon him, and borne by him in our stead, though he knew no sin in himself, "that we might be

made," or become "the righteous ness of God;" that the rightcousness of Christ, which is the righteousness of God, might become ours; given and imputed to us by God, that so we might be accepted, as righteous in him, by virtue of our union to him, or by the merit of a righteousness inherent in him, but placed

to our account.

If this be the meaning of the text, it is a direct and decisive testimony, that our guilt was transferred to Christ, as the ground of his sufferings; and that we are justified by his righteousness imputed to us.

But many take the apostle's meaning to be, that God made Christ to become a sin offering for us, that we might be justified by his righteousness. Now it has already been observed, that the sin offering is represented, as bearing the guilt and punishment of the person, for whom it was offered. Therefore Christ's being a sin offering for us sup poses, and proves the imputation or transferring of our guilt to him.

Farther; the Scriptures teach us that we are reconciled to God by the death of his Son; that we haye redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sin; that the Lord imputeth not sin, but imputeth to believers righteousness without works of their own. Now it seems inconceivable, that the merit and death of Christ should be any reason or motive with God to be reconciled to sinners, who had offended him, unless it be considered, as a satisfaction for their offences. The death of Christ turns away God's anger from sinners, or prevents their punishment, though justly de

served, because God's holiness and justice, his love of righteousness and hatred of wickedness, and his regard for his own rights and honour, and for the interests of his kingdom, are as much exercised and expressed in the vicarious sufferings of their sponsor, as they would have been in the punishment of sinners. If those moral truths (as some speak) which are manifested in the punishment of the guilty, are manifested in as strong a light in the sufferings and death of Christ in their stead; then the punishment of the guilty no longer appears to be necessary. Nothing stands in the way of their being pardoned, and of their recovering peace with God. But, unless Christ be considered as the sponsor of sinners, making satisfaction for their sins in their stead (which evidently supposes that their guilt or penal obligation has been transferred to him) how can it be reconciled with our clearest and surest notions of the justice of God, for him to inflict on Christ the punishment of sin, the curse of the law, for sin, for our sin, when it was not supposed to be due to him for any sin in him, or imputed to him. This seems so far from declaring the righteousness of God, that to me it appears inconsistent with righteousness, and destructive of the foundation of all moral truths. I must frankly own that I cannot conceive, how the death of Christ can be a reason or ground of God's being reconciled to us, unless it were considered, as a satisfaction of divine justice for our penal debt; nor can I conceive, how our debt could be satisfied for by the suffering of our sponsor, unless our obligation to make

penal satisfaction, (in order that the ends, for which the punishment of sin is necessary, may be answered) were transferred to Christ; that is, in fewer words, unless our guilt were imputed to him. If those, who deny such imputation, can rationally or intelligibly make it appear, that God's love of righteousness and hatred of sin are expressed by his treating his own Son, as if he had been a sinner, by inflicting on him the curse of the law, which is due only to sin, when it is supposed, that there was no sin or guilt charged upon him; and that this is a good reason for God's being reconciled to sinners, showing him to be just we will in justifying them; readily attend to them. But, I must confess, this is beyond my weak understanding.

But we are told that the Scriptures do not say that God is reconciled to us, but that we are reconciled to God by the death of his Son. God shewed himself reconciled to us by sending his Son, to reconcile us to himself.

I answer. Though God was not reconciled to sinners previously to his appointing the Mediator, to make atonement for sin; yet he had a kindness, a pity for them; was willing to be reconciled to them in a way consistent with his own honour and the interest of his kingdom. And he sent his Song to do what was necessary to prepare and open a way for their being pardoned, and received into his favour. This he did by bearing the guilt and punishment of their sin, as their sponsor.

reconciled to us by Christ. For in the common language of the Scriptures, our being reconciled to God means the same thing. When Paul says, we are reconciled to God by the death of his Son, he evidently means, what he had expressed in the next foregoing verse, that we are justified by his blood. And he has again explained our reconciliation to God, as importing his not imputing our sins to us. "God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not imputing to them their trespasses." In the same manner the phrase is to be understood, when the lords of the Philistines, speaking of David, said, "Wherewith should he reconcile himself to his Mas ter," i. e. reconcile Saul to him, regain his favour, "should it not be with the heads of these men ?" The word bears the same sense in Mat. v. 24, "When thou bringest thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, go thy way, first be reconciled to thy brother," i. e. reconcile thy offended brother to thee. The word bears the same meaning also 1 Cor. vii. 11.

It has been observed before, that we were redeemed, or ransomed from death by Christ, by his blood, by his dying for our sins, receiving the wages, the just punishment of sin, for our sins, bearing the curse of the law in our stead; which necessarily implies that our guilt was transferred to him, and borne by him.

It may also be added, that since the wages of sin, or the curse of the law, was not due to Christ on his own account, it

Nor is there any weight in the observation, that the Scriptures do not say expressly that God is

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