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who used them did consider them as expiatory, or propitiatory, to render the offended Deity placable, and obtain his mercy. This was at once a confession of guilt, and a declaration, that they apprehended the necessity and propriety of an atonement. Neither is it possible to account for the universal prevalence of sacrifices in any tolerable manner, but by supposing, that they were the remains of what had been taught in the ages immediately after the fall, by divine appointment.
I apprehend it is also undeniably evident, that this is the light in which the sacrifice of Christ is represented in the holy scriptures. How many passages might be adduced to this purpose ? In ancient prophecy, this part of his work is set forth in the following manner, If. liii. 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. “ Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our « forrows : yet we did esteem him stricken, fmitten of “God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our trans“ greffions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastise"ment of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes
we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray : " we have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord “ hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppresl"ed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; “ he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep “ before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his “ mouth. He was taken from prison and from judg. “ment: and who shall declare his generation ? For he " was cut off out of the land of the living : for the trans"gression of my people was he stricken.” Daniel ix. 24.
Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people, and
upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to " make an end of fins, and to make reconciliation for
iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and " to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the “ most Holy."
In the New Testament, he tells us, he was to lay down his life for his people : John X. 11. “I am the good shepe “herd : the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep." The same thing he plainly says in the institution of the facrament of the Lord's fupper, Matth. xxvi. 26, 27, 28,
“ And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed “ it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, “ Take eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and “ gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye * all of it: for this is my blood of the New Testament, " which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” That his body broken and blood shed for his people, was to be understood of his being made a sin-offering, is plainly teftified in the apostolic writings, 2 Cor. V. 21. “ For he " hath made him to be fin for us, who knew no fin; that “ we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” Gal. iii. 13. “ Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of “ the law, being made a curse for us ; for it is written, “ Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.” Heb. ix. 26, 27, 28. “But now once in the end of the world, hath “ he appeared to put away fin by the sacrifice of himself. “ And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after “ this the juclgment: fo Christ was once offered to bear “ the fins of many ; and unto them that look for him, “ shall he appear the second time, without fin, unto fal. “ vation.” See also the assertion of the apostle Peter, I Peter iii. 18. “Christ also hath once suffered for fins, the
just for the unjust, (that he might bring us to God) be
ing put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spi"rit.” It is evidently also on this account, that he is called the Lamb of God, and we are called to attend to him in that capacity, John i. 29. “Behold the Lamb of “ God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”
It is lamentable to think, that there should be any who call themselves Christians, and yet refuse to acknowledge this truth, which is woven, if I may !o speak, through the whole contexture, both of the law and gospel. It brings to my mind the fiory of an ancient artist; who, being employed to build a magnificent and elegant temple, had the ingenuity to inscribe upon it his own name, and so to incorporate it both with the ornaments and body of the structure, that it was impoflible afterwards to efface the name, without at the fame time destroying the fabrick. In the same manner, Christ dying for fin is engraven in fuch characters through the whole revealed will of God, that it is impossible to take it away without overturning the whole system. For this end Christ came into the world; for this end he bore the name of Jesus, or the Saviour ; and for this end he became the high priest of our profession, that he might, by one offering, for ever perfect them that are sanctified.
This then is the scripture-view of Christ as our propi. tiation, that our guilt is taken away, and we are reconciled to God through the facrifice which he hath offered without spot or blemish. And notwithstanding all that has been thrown out against it by the pride of self-righteousness, there is nothing that can be justly opposed to it on the part of unprejudiced reason. God is merciful, but he is also just. And as there is nothing more inseparable from the idea of fin, and an accusing conscience, than me. rited punishment; so there is nothing more ellential to the idea of justice in God, than a disposition to inflict it. This the scripture every where declares; and the conscience of the guilty, who dreads his Maker's presence, ratifies the truth.
Now, if God thews mercy to the sinner, is it so abhor. rent from reason, that this should be by a Mediator, if one can be found fit to step in between the parties, and “ lay “his hand upon them both ?” Is not this necessary to inanifest the righteousness and severity of the law, as well as the tenderness and compassion of the judge? Is not this precisely the reason assigned for it in fcripture ? Rom. iii. 25. “ To declare his righteousness for the remission of “ fins that are past, through the forbearance of God.” It is trifling to say, that there is nothing of the passion of anger in God, that should need to be appeased. Such expressions are only figurative, but they convey their meaning very clearly. It is not anger or revenge, as they appear in our disordered frame, that accepts of an atonement. These furious passions fly directly at the offending person, and reject all intercession. But justice, in calm and regu. lar government, requires satisfaction, that the malignity and demerit of the offence may be preserved, while mercy is extended to the criminal. We ought to consider, that one great and general end of the dispensations of Provi. dence is, to illustrate the glory of the true God in all his real perfections. This is best done by a purchased pardon, by a wise and awful mixture of impartial justice with un. merited mercy. How can you hear the word mercy fo often without perceiving this? It is not mercy at all, unless it is bestowed on those who have deferved to suffer; and therefore why may not a voluntary surety be admitted to suffer in their place ? The truth is, such are the impressions that are usually made on the awakened conscience, of the infinite holiness and purity, and the tremendous majesty of God, that nothing less will satisfy it than a sufficient atonement, or a clear view how he may be “ just, and yet “ the justifier of him that believeth on Jesus.”
But, my brethren, it is one thing to know, to profess, or even to support the truth ; and another, but of unspeakably more moment, to feel, and to apply it. It is one thing, to have a rational conviction, from critical enquiry, that this is taught in the holy fcriptures; and another, to cleave to it with esteem and affection, as the gospel of our salvation, as the great foundation of our hope and peace. Therefore in what remains of this branch of the subject, I would consider myself as speaking, not to the wrangling difputer, but to the convinced finner; not to the selfrighteous boalter, but to the broken in spirit. The chief circumstances in the propitiation which Christ hath made, to be taken notice of in this view, are these two: 1. Its absolute neceflity. 2. Its perfect fufficiency.
1. Consider the absolute necessity of this atonement. There is no other way by which the finner can be restored to the favor of God. Nothing can be clearer from the holy fcriptures. It is indeed the tacit inference that may be drawn from the whole. Why is this love and mercy of God celebrated in such exalted strains by the inspired writers, and felt with so much gratitude by the redeemed, but that they were under condemnation, and must have perished, but for the help of this Saviour ? Rom. viii. 1. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which
are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but af. “ter the Spirit.” And the same chapter, ver. 33. “ Who “ fhall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is Jesus
" God that justifieth.” John iii. 16. “ God so loved the “world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that wholo“ ever believeth in him, should not perith, but have ever. “ lasting life.” As “ without shedding of blood there is “ no remission,” so we have the same infallible teftimony, Heb. x. 4. that " it is not possible that the blood of bulls " and of goats should take away fins.” Nay, that the thing might be put beyond all possibility of doubt, see the declaration of Peter and John, Acts iv. 12. “ Neither is “ there falvation in any other : for there is none other " name under heaven given among men whereby we “ must be saved. And what other sense can be put upon these words of our Saviour himself ? John xiv. 6.“ “ faith unto him, I am the way, and the truth, and the “ life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me.” In vain then do we found our hopes upon any tiring else ; The holiness of the divine nature, the purity of the divine law, and the greatness of divine power, conspire in blasting every hope of the finner but what is centred in Chrift.
2. Consider the perfect sufficiency of this atonement. It is sufficient to anlwer all the demands of law and justice. It is sufficient to vindicate the honor of the divine government, and to illustrate the holiness and justice of God in the forgiveness of sin. It is sufficient to purchase a full and complete remission to the greatest finner. Whoever reflects upon the infinite wisdom of God, must be sensible that it is not without reason that so much is said on this subject in scripture ; that so much pains is taken to set forth the glory and greatness of the Saviour of lin
The greatness of his person, and dignity of his character, are set before us in the most striking light. He is “ the eternal and only begotten Son of God; the bright“ ness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his
person.” And Phil. ii. 6. “ Who being in the form of “ God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” Isa. ix. 6. “ For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, " and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and “ his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counsellor, The
mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of peace.”