Page images

again appear together, there is a mercy that shall separate those who had blended each other in a common crime; yet never may the sincerest penitent expect it to be entirely wiped away.”

I am, Sir, &c.


Stone's SERMON.-LETTER IV. To the Editor of the Monthly Repository. SIR, The divinity of Jesus Christ and the atonement are doctrines which, by the writer of the Remarks on Mr. Stone's Visitation Sermon, and by a numerous class of Christians are considered as the very fundamentals of christianity, and a disbelief of either of them, as a sure sign of reprobation and inevitable damnation.

We have examined what this writer has alleged from the scriptures to support the former of these doctrines, and seen that it is utterly insufficient to establish it. We now proceed to examine the evidence he has offered in support of the latter, that is the atonement.

This writer says, that Mr. Stone rejects all those parts of the scriptures which declare this doctrine, as spurious interpolations. He cannot surely mean to affirm that the atonement is a doctrine taught in the Christian scriptures, and an article of the Christian faith. In them the term occurs but once*, and, as a man of literature, he need not be informed, that there, it is not a just rendering of the original; and if it were, it cannot mcan what this writer means by the term, that is, a satisfaction made to the justice of God for the sins of mankind; for the expression is, “ By whom,” (that is, by Jesus Christ,).“ we have received the atonement :" that doctrine therefore is not to be found in those scriptures either in name or in substance, and consequently Mr. Stone could not be under the necessity of rejecting any part of them to get rid of it.

Atonement, is a mere teclinical theological term, the shibboleth of a party, used without any determinate meaning, which he that pronounces, whether or no he can affix any idea to it, is at once dubbed a sound, orthodox Christian.

This writer adds, “ For the doctrine of atonement, it is declared in Jewish prophecy, see Isaiah liji. 4-8. 11. 12. Dan. ix. 24–26." That ihe doctrine of atonement is declared in Jewish prophecy, is affirmed without the least degrec of evidence; for it is certain that that doctrine in any

* Roni. v. II.

sense, much less in this writer's sense, is not taught in any of the prophecies of the Old Testament. The term atonement dees, indeed, frequently occur in the Jewish scriptures, but the word so rendered never in any instance means what is generally understood by the English term : it never means, a compensation or satisfaction made to the justice of God by a vicarious sacrifice : those scriptures never represent that, which in our translation is said to make an atonement, as enduring the wrath of God, or as bearing the pun shment of sin; nor is anything like this said of Jesus Christ in the New Testament. As then the truth of the doctrine depends entirely upon the meaning of the word rendered atonement let us inquire into the import of it as used by the writers of the Old Testament. The original word so rendered is , the radical meaning of which, as a verb, is, to cover; as a noun, a covering: in the first passage in which it occurs, (Gen. vi. 14.) it is used both as a noun and a verb, “ Rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch.In Isaiah xxviii. 18. it is rendered disannul, and applied to making void a covenant by smearing it over. It is used several times for the hoar frost which covers the surface of the ground; for the lid or covering of the ark of the covenant. In 1 Sam. xii. 3. and other places it is rendered a bribe, which covers the eyes. In Exod. xxx. 12. 16. it is the half a shekel, which was to be paid for the ransorn of every man where the children of Israel were numbered, which is there called the atonement money. It means consecration as applied to Aaron and his sons, to the altar and to the sanctuary, which was performed by sprinkling them with the blood of a sacrifice. It occurs in an address to God, Psa. Ixxix. 9. 793

atone, cover our transgressions for thy name's sake,” where it can mean nothing more than forgive our transgressions, which is often expressed by covering them, see Psa. xxxii. 1. Roin. iv. 7. Thus Moses addressing the people of Israel, (Exod. xxxii. 30.) says, “ Ye have sinned a great sin: and now I will go up unto the Lord; peradventure I shall make an atonemeni for your sin.” Where, to make an atonement evidently means to obtain forgiveness, through his intercession for them. So the word 792, in the ix. chap. of Dan. 24. referred to by this writer, is to be understood, « To make reconcilialion," (that is,)“ to obtain forgiveness for ini. quity.”

And thus the word is always to be understood as applied to the Levitical sacrifices, not as being vicarious, or as having the punishment of the sinner inficted upon

them ; but 'as the appointed means of obtaining pardon. Thus then we see that the word atonement as used in the Old Testament does not contain in it any idea that gives the least degree of countenance to the wild and extravagant notion of atonement entertained by this writer, and the Calvinists in general ; nor is there any expression to support it in the New Testament, which never represents the sacrifice of Jesus Christ as vicarious, or his sufferings as a punishment for the sins of men, or as a satisfaction made to the justice of God: the Calvinistic doctrine of atonement, therefore, is not a doctrine of the scriptures.

Let us however attend a little to the passages referred to by this writer in support of the doctrine, they are Isaiah lii. 4.-8.11. 12. Dan. ix. 24—26. The particular phrase referred to in the latter of these passages we have already noticed, and have only to consider whether any thing like the doctrine of atonement is contained in the former.

In the 4th verse of that chapter it is said, “ Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows,” where to bear doth not mean to take them upon himself, but to remove, or bear them away; so the evangelist Matthew understood the word; for referririg to this passage he says, (chap. viii. 16, 17.) “ They brought unto him, (that is unto Jesus, many that were possessed of demons; and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, “ Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.'

In the 5th verse it is said, “ But he was wonnded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities.” Where, we may observe that, the word for, cannot mean that he was our substitute, and suffered in our stead, because it is not said that he was wounded for us, and bruised for us, but for our iniquities, which inust mean not in their stead, but on their account, and so the words UTJES


in the New Testament always mean when used to express the reason of the sufferings and death of Jesus Christ, thus, 1 Pet. vi. 19.“ He suffered seg for, (on account) of sins," not as their substitute, “ the just, voeg, for, (on account of) the just," To what end? Not to make an atonement, " but to bring us to God.”

In the 6th verse it is said, “ All we like sheep hare gone astray: we have turned every one to luis own way, and the Lord hath luid on him the iniquity of us all.” The Hebrew words 9.397 rendered “ he liath laid on him," literally are, he hath caused to meet or turn hy him, and so Peter understood the words, as appears from his allusion to this passage, 1 Epist. ii. 25.

" For ye were as sheep going astray, but are

now returned unto the shepherd and bishop of your souls," where, the word returned is manifestly bis interpretation of the word which we reader huih laid. He is there setting forth Jesus Christ as an example to us of patient suffering, and introduces this passage to encourage us to an imitation of himn : “ Christ,” says he,“ hath suffered for us, leaving us an example that we should follow his steps.” But if his sufferings were vicarious, or a bearing of the punishment of our sins, they would have no analogy with ours, and consequently he could noi, in his sufferings, be an example to us, nor would this passage have been at all to the apostle's purpose. He hath caused to meet, or turn, through him the iniquity of us all, is perfectly similar to those expressions of the New Testament, “He shall turn away ungodliness from 'Jacob :” and again, 6 God hath sent him to bless you, in tuning away every one of you from his iniquities."

In the 7th verse it is said, “ He was oppressed, and he was afficted, 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 opened not his mouth.” There is no evidence that, in this passage, Jesus Christ is compared to a lamb, in allusion to those which were offered in sacrifice under the law. Leading to the slaughter, and shearing lambs is not descriptive of à sacrifice. From the whole of the passage it manifestly appears that the design of it is to represent the meekness, innocence, patience, submission and resignation which he manifested in his sufferings. When he is styled in the New Testament the “ Lamb of God," and. “ the Lamb that was slain,” the metaphor is probably de-': signed to convey the same idea, and not that of his being a sacrifice. A lamb slain is a natural emblem of oppressed innocence. The phrase

The phrase “ The Lamb of God that taketh away, or beareth sin,” is no evidence of an allusion to the Jewish sacrifices which are none of thein said to bear the sins of the people; besides, the figure of a lamb represented to John in vision as an emblem of Jesus Christ, is of such an extraordinary kind as could not be offered in sacrifice under the law,' it being said to have seven horns and seven eyes, see Lev. xxii. 23. There is not any thing in this connexion, then, that in the least favours the popular notion of atonement.

of many.

Why this writer included the 8th and 11th verses of this chapter in his reference, is difficult to conceive, there being nothing in them that relates to the subject. It only remains therefore to take notice of his reference to the 12th verse, in which the only important phrase to be explained is, “ He bare the sin of many." So it is said in the New Testament that “ Christ was once offered to bear the sins

Bearing of sin does not necessarily include in it suffering, or death, bearing the punishment of sin, or making an atonement or satisfaction to God for sin : The Hebrew word, ?, rendered bear signifies to take away, carry off, remove, &c. Any means therefore appointed for the remission of sins, is said to bear or take it away. Thus Aaron is said, Exod. xxviii. 38. to bear the iniquity of the holy things, which the children of Israel shall hallow in all their holy gifts; not by suffering or punishment, but by having on his forehead a mitre of gold with holiness to Jehovah engraved upon it, when he went to the holy place. Thus the scape-goat, which was not sacrificed, is said to bear all the iniquities of the children of Israel. Lev. xvi. Repentance and confession of sin are essentially necessary to the obtaining forgiveness; this was strikingly represented by Aaron's laying both his hands upon the head of the goat and confessing over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat; as was also emblematically set forth the divine forgiveness, by its bearing them away into the wilderness, so that, to use the expressive language of scripture, “ If they were sought for they should not be found,” « God casting them behind his back, and remeinbering them no more.” Ezekiel is commanded (chap. iv. 4–6.) to lie, first on his left side, and then on his right side, for a certain number of days, and to lay the iniquity of the house of Israel on his side, that he might bear their iniquity. The divine Being is often represented as 'bearing the sins of his people, where, it is impossible to connect the idea of suffering or making atonement with it; to mention but one passage out of many, it is said, Micah vii. 18. " Who is a God like unto thee, xz bearing, pardoning iniquity.” Of the angel that was sent before Israel, it is said, Éxod. xxiii. 21. * Provoke him not: for he will not H23 bear, pardon your iniquity.” To bear sin then, is either to pardon it, or to obtain the forgiveness of it. So when Christ is said to be once offered to bear the sins of many, it is intended to convey the idea that his death, con

« PreviousContinue »