« PreviousContinue »
holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us," having “now once in the end of the world appeared to put away sin by the offering of himself.” Much more might be said under this head, but we trust sufficient has been advanced to show that the sacrifices of the Mosaic ritual point out Jesus Christ, as a real atonement and expiatory sacrifice for sin. Deny the vicarious and expiatory character of the sufferings and death of Jesus Christ, and the ceremonial worship of the Jews loses its charm, their sanctuary is divested of its significant grandeur, their smoking altars lose their sanctity, the confession upon the head of the scape goat becomes foolish mummery, and their sacrifices of slaughtered hecatombs are rendered useless, barbarous and cruel.
III. The scriptures teach, directly, that the sufferings and death of Jesus Christ, were in the place of the punishment which was due to sinners ; he suffering in their stead, bearing the punishment which they otherwise must have borne and from which they, consequently, may now be delivered on gospel terms. By this, however, we do not mean that Christ suffered the same in kind and degree that sinners would have suffered, but simply that what he suffered was a substitute for what they must have suffered without the atonement. Isa. liii. 5, 6, 8, 11, 12. “ He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquițies, the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed.
The Lord hath laid upon him the iniquity of us all ; for the transgression of my people was he stricken. He shall bear their iniquities, and he bore the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressors.
That this whole chapter relates to Jesus Christ there is no doubt, and if it does not teach that he suffered for sinners, bearing a punishment for their sins, it is because the sentiment cannot be couched in the English language. Why was he wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities, if it was not to save us from being thus wounded and bruised ? It is worthy of remark, that in this interesting chapter, Christ is represented as suffering for us by divine appointment, and under the divine sanction : “ the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all”—“ when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin.” Now, if it was not the divine
purpose to save us from the punishment our sins deserve by laying our iniquities on Jesus Christ, and making his soul an offering for sin ; if after all this, we must inevitably suffer all that our sins deserve, then what Christ suffered for us must have been over and above what justice requires, and, consequently, unjust and cruel.
But we recollect of having seen an attempt made by universalists to evade the force of the above quotations from the Prophet. It has been said that this prophecy was fulfilled in the miracles which Christ wrought for the relief of the afflicted; in proof of which they quote Matt. viii. 16, 17. “He healed all that were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esais the prophet saying, himself took our infirmities and bare our sicknesses." That this is a quotation from the same chapter, we admit, but it is not a quotation from any portion which we have quoted, or on which we rely as proof of the point in question, but is borrowed from the 4th verse which reads thus:
Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. These are the words which the Evangelist applies to Christ's healing the sick, which can furnish no ground for making the same application of the whole chapter, some of which most clearly refers to his death and not to the works of benevolence which he performed during his ministry. There is a vast difference between his bearing our grief and carrying our sorrows, or as the Evangelist renders it “taking our infirmities and bearing our sicknesses, and being wounded for our transgressions” and “ bruised for our iniquities; or being “numbered with the transgressors”. and bearing
“the sin of many." But this question is settled by the fact that two other Evangelists quote from the same subject and apply it to his crucifixion, Mark. xv. 27, 28. “ And with him they crucify two thieves; the one on his right band and the other on his left, and the scripture was fulfilled which saith, and he was numbered with the transgressors.” This is a quotation from the 12th verse which reads thus : “He hath poured out his soul unto death, and he was numbered with the transgressors, and he bare the sin of many.” Luke xxxii. 37. And he was reckoned
among the transgressors. It is clear then that the prophet describes the death, as well as the life, of our blessed Lord, and forcibly points it out as a sacrifice for sin.
In the above position we are, if possible, more amply sustained by the apostles in the New Testament, who express the same sentiment in nearly the same language, evidently borrowing their descriptions from the above paintings of the prophetic pencil.
i Cor. xv. 3. “ For I delivered unto you first of all, that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures.” Several points in this text, deserve notice.
1. The substance of the apostle's declaration is “ Christ died for our sins."
2. This doctrine of the vicarious death of Christ, he declares, he received: “I delivered unto you that which I also received.” It was not a thought of his own, nor the invention of man, but he received it from God who called him to preach Christ crucified. 3. This doctrine of Christ's death for our sins, he says,
he “ delivered unto them first of all,” showing that he considered the doctrine of Christ's vicarious death one of the first principles of the Gospel, of the first importance, on which the sinner's hope rests, and upon which the whole Gospel fabrick is reared.
4. This doctrine of Christ's death for our sins, he declares, is “according to the scriptures."
Let it be understood that, by the scriptures here, the Old Testament only can be intended, and what we have said on this subject, reasoning from the law and the prophets, is confirmed. As the apostle declares that Christ's death for our sins was according to the scriptures of the Old Testament, it follows that the sin offerings made under the law were representations of his death, and pointed him out as suffering for sinners; and that the prophet, in foretelling his passion, referred to the same object of his death saying, “When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin he shall see his seed,” &c.
1 Peter ii. 24, 25. “ Who his ownself bare our sins, in his own body, on the tree, by whose stripes ye are healed; for ye were as sheep going astray." This is almost a literal quotation from the prophet, whose words we have already considered, and goes farther to show that we are sustained by the New Testament writers, in our application of the proph
et's language to the death of Christ as a sacrifice for sin. The apostle here is so plain and precise that it seems hardly possible to misunderstand or misapply his language.
1. He states that Christ bore our sins.
2. To show beyond all dispute that he bore them literally, and not in some symbolical or allegorical manner, he notes the manner in which he bore them, in three particulars. First, he bore them “his own self.” Secondly, he bore them “ in his own body.” Thirdly, he bore them “on the tree,” j. e. on the cross.
3. Lest some sceptick should still question the meritorious character of Christ's sufferings the apostle adds“ by his stripes ye are healed.”
Rom. iv. 25. “ Who was delivered for our offences and raised again for our justification.” Here, the Apostle clearly asserts Christ's death for sinners, and their deliverance or salvation from the guilt of sin by his resurrection ; i. e. he died to atone for our sins, and rose again to intercede for us, by pleading the merits of his death; we, therefore, may be justified, i. e. saved from the guilt and, consequently, the punishment of sin, through his resurrection.
2 Cor. v. 21. 6 For he hath made him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” On this text, it may
be remarked, 1. By Christ's being made sin for us, we are to understand that he was made a sin offering for us, or an offering for our sin.
2. The design of this was that we might be made the righteousness of God in him, by which we understand, being made the partakers of God's justifying and renewing grace, whereby we are rendered righteous. This is termed the righteousness of God, because the pardon of sin on the ground of the sin offering of Christ, whereby we are justified from sins that are past, is the prerogative and act of God, and because the internal work of renewing the heart and sanctifying the soul, whereby we are rendered righteous in heart and life, is the work of God's Holy Spirit.
1 Peter iii. 18. “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but quickened by the spirit.”
1. This text declares that Christ suffered for sins.
2. It was not his own sins for which he suffered, for he was without sin, but he suffered “the just for the unjust," his sufferings were therefore vicarious.
3. The object of his sufferings was that he might bring us to God; his sufferings, therefore, must have been necessary in order to our salvation.
4. To show that the salvation of sinners depends upon the merits of Christ's death, and not upon the influence of his example and truth, revealed in his gospel aside from his death, the apostle refers the whole to his passion: “He suffered for sin, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh.”
Heb. ix. 28. “ So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many." Chapter ii. 9. “But we see Jesus” &c. “ that he grace
of God should taste death for every man." This class of texts might be multiplied to almost any extent, but it is unnecessary to add, enough has been produced to show, beyond dispute that Christ did suffer for sinners, and that he suffered and died by divine appointment on the part of the Father, and as a free-will offering on his own part. The death of Christ then must have been an atonement for sinners, essential to their salvation, or it would never have been voluntarily endured by himself or sanctioned by the Father. If Christ did not die to save men from the guilt and punishment of sin, what was the object of his death, and wherein are we benefitted by his passion any farther than we might have been by his mission, bad he appeared on earth, lived, preached, established a system of religious truth, appointed others to preach it after him, and retired to his native clime without heaving a sigh, uttering a groan, or shedding a drop of blood ? If his death was not an atonement for sin, essential to our salvation, we can conceive of no benefit arising from his death, which we might not have enjoyed without it. When it has been asked for what purpose Christ suffered and died, if it was not to make an atonement for sin, our opponents have answered that he suffered to furnish an expression of the Father's love to a lost world. To this we reply that if the death of Christ was not an atonement for sin, essential in order to our salvation, it was no expression of God's love to