Page images

But such thoughts of God can never agree with what he hath revealed of himself in the Scriptures. Who (that is not blinded by system) can help seeing that such ideas of God suppose him to be a changeable being, and subject to something like human passions: for if sin could change hin, who is love, to vindictive fury, and if his venting that fury upon one who always did those things which pleased him, could appease and bring him back to the same loving disposition towards the real offenders as if they had never offended, it would not be true, which the Scriptures possitively assert, that he change not, that with him there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning; but a kind of omnipotence would be given to sin, by supposing that the commission of it could inetamorphose the ever blessed, or happy, God of love and peace, into a being infinitely wrathful, furious, and vindictive, and that his beloved son's submitting to let him vent all his fury upon hiin, would restore him to what he was before. This would be a metamorphose more extravagant than any of those invented by the heathen poets.

The doctrine of ile Father's wrathfulness, and of the son's pacifying his wrath, contradicts wisat the Scriptures assert, (i. c.) that the son is the express iinage or delineation of what the Father is; for it supposes a direct contrast in their characters: the one wrathful, furious, and vindi&tive; the other loving, gentle, and peaceful; the one determined to shew no favour but on the ground of his first venting all his fury; the other submitting to become the victim of his displeasure, and let him exhaust all his wrath upon him, for the sake of peace, and to t'econcile him to his offending creatures.

The idea of Christ's giving a satisfaction to the Father, on behalf of sinners, in order to his shewing them mercy, seems to imply that the love and mercy of God to sinners are the effects of Christ's having died for them; but this is the reverse of the Scripture statement: there it is positively asserted that the gift of Christ, and his death, are the effect; and highest demonstration, of the love of God to sinners; and that his rich mercy arose from his great love to us, even when we were dead in sins; not that it was the effect of some equivalent which he had received to dispose bim to be merciful.'

The gospel declares salvation to be of grace, or that God bestows it as a free favor; but if it be bestowed on the ground of an equivalent first received by him, which I think the notion of Christ's satisfying the Father supposes, I see not how grace can have any thing to do with the bestowment of salvation, at least so far as relates to the Father : for he is on that supposition honestly and fully paid for it, consequently there can be no favor' in his bestowing what he has received a full compensation for, and tacitly, at least, bargained to deliver. I intreat the advocates for the doctrine of satisfaction, to consider how they depreciate the grace of God, which is come by Jesus Christ, while they represent the Father of lights, who giveth to all libetally, as a mercenary being; who will have value received for all the blessings of salvation before he will dispense them; or as a relentless despot, who will show no mercy, unless he be bought off from the execution of his vengeance.

[ocr errors]

God, being absolutely infinite, in every divine perfection and all blessedness, can fill the whole universe with blessings, without the least diminution of his own fulness; but can derive advantage, or receive addition, from no source whatever. The doctrine of Christ's satisfying the Father seeins to carry with it the idea of the Father's receiving an equivalent for favors, to be afterwards bestowed: and, if such language be taken literally, it implies that after receiving such equivalent he must possess something which he did not before possess; which is absolutely impossible.

Thus it appears to me, that so far from the doctrine of satisfaction necessarily arising froin facts stated in the Scriptures the facts plainly stated there prove that doctrine to be erroneous.

Let us next examine whether the doctrine of Christ's making satisfaction for sins to the Father, be necessarily implied in any form of expression used by the sacred penmen.

Those forms of expression which may be thought to come nearest the point, are such as speak of Christ's buying sinners, of his purchasing the church, &c. If such expressions be concluded to relate to a transaction between the Father and Christ, and be construed in too rigid and literala sense, without being compared with other parts of Scripture, where the same, or similar, forms of expression occur, they may be supposed to imply the doctrine of satisfaction; but if it can be proved they are no were used, by the sacred writers, to express a transaction between the Father and Christ, and that they are frequently used in a figurative sense, then, it will follow that the doctrine of satisfaction derives no support from them.

We read of the Father's giving various things to Christ, even power over all flesh, delivering all things to him, &c. but never of the Father's selling him any thing: get this must have been the case had Christ bought any thing of him. The Father is represented as saying, Ask of me, and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession; but he is never spoken of as saying, Offer me an adequate.price, and I will sell thee the heathien, &c. We read of Christ's receiving various things of the Father, and of his performing various acts towards the Father ; but never of his buying, or even offering to buy, any thing of him. Had Christ purchased sinners of the Father, we should surely have read something about it in the only book from which any certain inforınation on the subject can be expected: yet we never read in the Scriptures of his purchasing us of God; his buying us of him, his ransomning us from God,' redeeming us from him, &c. but, on the contrary, we read, that he died to bring um 10 Gods of his redeeming us to God, &c. All this must be very strange, if Christ gave a price by way of satisfaction to the Father, to induce him to deliver us up.

In the passages of Scripture where Christ is said to buy sinners, &c, not the least hint is dropped that a sort of mercantile transaction between the Father and the Son-is had in view; nor is there any thing in the nature of the subject, the language of the text, the whole of the context,



or the Scriptures in general, that appears to me to authorize, or even to be capable of admitting, such an idea. Hence I conclude, that Christ did not purchase sinners of the Father, by giving him a satisfaction for them.

He must have been a very superficial reader of the Scriptures, who has not observed that words there, as well as in other writings, and in common life, are frequently used in a figurative sense, and that if always rigidly construed in the literal sense, great absurdities would be involved.

This I think to be the case with respect to the words bought, purchase, &c. as applied to what Christ has done for sinners. If we will take them in the most literal sense, we ought to find some one of whom he bought sinners, and something which he gave as an equivalent into the hands of him of whom he bought them. I have already proved that Christ did not buy them of the father. Of whom then did he buy them? There was a time when it was supposed he bought them of the devil; but I should suppose so absurd an idea cannot now find credit with any serious person. If he bought them of neither God, nor the devil, of whom could he buy them? If we be determined to explain such phrases in the most literal sense, the difficulty is insuperable; but if we take them in a figurative sense, the dificulty is no more. Mankind had subjected themselves to sin, guilt, misery, and destruction; the Father sent his son 10 be the Saviour of the world, gave him commandment to do every thing necessary to be done for their Salvation, even to lay down his life: Christ, in the pursuance of the great work which he had undertaken, passed through a state of humiliation and and suffering, and died the death of the cross. Christ therefore did the will of the Father at the expense of his own life. To manifest the love of God to sinners he sacrificed himself. He opened the way for the recovery of a guilty world, from sin and its effects, by dying the most painful and ignominious death. · Herce - it was at the price of his own life he redeemed us to God. Now, as it was by his death he opened the way for our recovery, he is said to have bought us, not because he gave an equivalent to some one for us; but because it cost him his life to effect our deliverance.

The same, or similar, forms of expression frequently occur in the Old Testament, and are admitted on all sides to be used figuratively. Deut. xxxii. 6. Israel is reminded that JEHOVAH bought them; but of whom did he buy them ? who does not see that the expression is figurative, and refers to his bringing them out of Egypt with a mighty arm? Ise. xliii.

3• it is said, “I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. But to whom did he give the nations to induce them to deliver up his people? Do not all admit that the language is figurative, and refers to God's judgments upon those nations being the means of Israel's deliverance? Pro. xxi. 18. We are told, “ The wicked shall be a ransom for the righteous ;" but who ever supposed the wicked were to be given to make satisfaction for the righteous? So we read of buying the truth; .of the people having sold themselves for nought, and that they should be redeemed without muney; of buying without money, and without price, &c. Who does not see that all such forms of expressiou are figurative? And why should we not construe them in the same manner when applied to what Christ has done for our deliverance from sin and its effects ?

Thus it appears to me that, if we do not run away with mere sounds, but coin pare spiritual things with spiritual, when we read of Christ's buying us, we shall not conclude that he gave an equivalent, or satisfaction to God for us.

If this letter be thought worthy of a place in your Miscellany, I intend to continue the subject in another on the doctrine of Atonement and Reconciliation.

I remain, dear Sir,

Yours, &c.








DEAR SIR, WHEN I sent the Letters from the World of Spirits for insertion in

the Universalist's Miscellany, I little thought that any one of my sentiments, however fanciful, would have been deemed of sufficient importance, or so repugnant to the letter of Scripture, as to become the subject of critical animadversion. Had I been aware of the probability that I might thereby have drawn upon myself the censures of any reader of this excellent publication, I should, perhaps, after having exposed my folly to a few friends, who had no more discernment than to bestow the tribute of applause upon iny fanciful performance, I should, perhaps, after this small shew of vanity, have contented myself with throwing the obnoxious letters into some corner of iny desk, there to have awaited the resurrection of futurity, when some severe examiner, like yourself, might pass judgment of condemnation, and execute the sentence of burning upon the heterodox papers. But alas ! I was not so fortunate as to consult the doctrine of consequences! I courted publicity, and brave thereby drawn myself into a controversy, for which I have little time, and less inclination.

However, Sir, as you have been pleased to give me a formal challenge, although I may enter the lists with some kind of reluctante, I shall not altogether decline the combat. But with what hopes of success can I expect, to engage an antagonist who claims the victory before his opponent has notice of the commencement of hostilities, and is consequently unprepared for defence?

You say in the concluding part of your letter, p. 375.

« Thus, Sir, I trust I have proved it is you that make the mistake, and that we (meaning disembodied spirits) may not take charge of, surround, axıl protect our friends in the body." You, undoubtedly, may believe, Sir, that you have proved the absurdity of some of my sentiments respecting the state of the dead, and the justness and propriety of your own observations thereon; but it is possible that some other folks may require more substantial evidence of the fact, before they believe that you have done so.

You declare that the sentiment you are about to controvert pervades -both my letters, and is as follows: “ That mankind, when they depart this life, are permitted to grovel in our aimosphere, to take cognizance of the conduct of the inhabitants of this earth.” It is most true, that my letters contain sentiments somewhat similar to that you describe ; they certainly profess the belief that disembodied spirits do sometimes visit our atmosphere, and are not altogether unmindful of their friends in the body; but the idea of their being permitted to groveltither in this, or in the atmosphere of any other planet, originates entirely with yourself, and should not be charged to the account of the writer of those letters which gave birth to your animadversions.

The grovelling state is more applicable to your hypothesis than to mine, since you believe heaven to be some circumscribed place, where departed souls reside, and pass away their time in unserviceable quiescence, like groups of unintelligent and sober-sided Mussulmen in a hot climate-But my belief, as you well know, is very

different. And indeed, when I contemplate the wonderful ability and activity of mind,—when I reflect on the nature of that immorial principle, that “divinity that stirs within me," how can I suppose, after disencumbered, of the clogs and fetters of mortality, but what it will attain higher perfection in its true nature, and act with increased energy and redoubled activity? Even now, counteracted and impeded as it is by its earthly companion, my mind travels through the immensity of space with the, rapidity of lightning. Sometimes it accompanies the curious and intrepid traveller-it examines the curiosities which crowd the shores of, the Nile-navigates the Arabian Gulph-crosses trackless desertsvisits Abyssinia with Bruce the kingdom of Dar-Fur with Brown--. and beholds, with Mungo Park, the wide stream of the majestic Niger pursue its eastern course to ineet the chariot of the rising sun-it, outstrips the embassies of Macartney, and Symes, and, unretarded by the tediousness of Chinese travelling, or by stemming the torrent of the, great Irrawaddy, visits the famed city of Pekin, and the more modern, though not less splendid structures of Uinmerapoora—it sometimes, with the hardy and indefatigable mariner, skims over the surface of the great waters,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »