Page images
PDF
EPUB

us but an expression of cruelty towards his beloved Son, in whom he declares himself well pleased. Suppose, as the universalist's view of the atonement does, that God was perfectly reconciled to us, and that nothing in his perfections or principles of administration, rendered it inconsistent for him to extend saving mercy to offending man, and, hence, that no offers of grace are now made to sinners which might not have been made without the death of Christ, and it not only strips his death of all that importance which is given to it in the scriptures, but renders it useless and cruel. But it is said that the death of Christ was not designed to procure the favour of God, but to benefit the sinner, acting directly upon his mind as an evidence of the divine love. To this we reply, that if it were viewed in this light it would not be calculated to produce such an effect. What is there in the sufferings of Christ calculated to convince us of the divine goodness, and to win our rebellious hearts to God, if we are assured at the same time that they were intended to produce no other happy effect, farther than to convince us that God is good and that he loves us ? Look at the picture as this view presents it. God informs rebellious man that he is good, that he loves them, and that he is able and willing to save them; but incredulous man will not believe that God is love. The Father of mercies adds, hear, ye unbelieving children, and I will convince you

that
my very nature is love, and that

my

bowels yearn over the miseries of a fallen world ; I have one only well beloved son, and to convince you that I am all goodness, I will send him into the world, and he shall suffer and die before your eyes. He is innocent, he is neither guilty of crime nor worthy of pangs; nor is his death necessary in order to render it consistent for me to save you, but is only necessary to convince

you

of
my

tender love. Look now on his cry

out under the most excruciating tortures, and see him sweat great drops of blood, and then ask your unrelenting hearts if I am not pure unmingled love, who can inflict such sufferings on the innocent merely to convince the guilty and hell deserving of my goodness towards them. What soul would not turn away with horror, frightened to despair, at such an exhibition of divine love, or rather divine wrath ?

IV. The scriptures attribute the salvation of sinners to the

pangs, hear him

sufferings, death and resurrection of Christ; or in other words to the atonement which he has made. John i. 29. “ Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.”

1. This text attributes the removal of the sin of the world to Jesus Christ, which can in no wise be true unless he was, in some way, an expiation for sin, removing its guilt, and delivering the offender from its punishment. If, as universalists contend, Christ does not save from guilt and punishment, only by saving from the future commission of sin, in no sense can it be said that the sin of the world is taken away by him. It might be said, on this principle, that he prevents the future sin of the world, which would be committed were it not for his interposition ; but it cannot be said that he takes away the sin of the world, for that which has not been committed has no existence and cannot be removed, and that which has been committed is not taken away, on the above theory, since it asserts that Christ does not save from its guilt and punishment. Now, as this text can be true only on the ground of the sacrificial death of Christ it is to be regarded as proof that such death was an expiatory offering, by which the guilt of sin is removed and its punishment averted.

2. The manifest allusion, which the text contains, to the sacrifices of the law shows that John referred to the sacrificial death of Christ, as the means by which he takes away the sin of the world. “ Behold the LAMB of GOD." He is termed the Lamb of God, no doubt, in reference to the Paschal Lamb, or to the sacrifice of two lambs for a daily offering. Ex. xxix. 38, 39. “ Now this is that which thou shalt offer upon the altar, two lambs of the first year, day by day continually. The one lamb thou shalt offer in the morning and the other lamb thou shalt offer at even. Now, as lambs were offered for daily sin offerings, which offerings were typical of the one offering of Jesus Christ, he is called the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world, of whom the prophet says, (Isa. liii. 7.) “He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter.”

Dr. Clark's note on the text under consideration deserves particular attention.

“«Behold the Lamb of God,' &c. This was said in allusion to what was spoken Isa. liii. 7. Jesus was the true Lamb

[ocr errors]

or sacrifice required and appointed by God, of which, those offered daily in the tabernacle and temple, Ex. xxix. 38, 39, and especially the Paschal lamb, were only the types and representatives. The continual morning and evening sacrifices of a lamb under the Jewish law, was intended to point out the continual efficacy of the blood of atonement: for ever at the throne of God, Jesus Christ is ever represented as a Lamb newly slain, Rev. v. 6. But John, pointing to Christ, calls him emphatically, the Lamb of God-all the lambs which had hitherto been offered had been furnished by men; this was provided by God, as the only sufficient and available sacrifice for the sin of the world. In three essential respects, this lamb differed from those by which it was represented. 1st. It was the Lamb of God; the most excellent, and most available. 2d. It made an atonement for sin : it carried sin away in reality; the others only representatively. 3d. It carried away the sin of the WORLD; whereas the other was offered only in behalf of the Jewish people.

Rom. v. 9. “Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” In this text, the blood of Jesus Christ is asserted as the ground of our justification ; and that justification implies the removal of our guilt, and remission of our punishment, is clear from its being followed by salvation or deliverance from wrath, “ being justified by his blood we shall be saved from wrath through him.” This most clearly marks the death and blood of Christ as an atonement and expiation of the sinner's guilt ; for on no other principle can we be justified by the blood of Christ, any more than by the blood of Paul or of Peter. John vi

. 51, 53, 54, 55. “And the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. Except ye eat the flesh of the son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life ; for my flesh is meat indeed and my blood is drink indeed." We

presume

it will not be necessary to attempt a refutation of the Romish doctrine of transubstantiation, as inferred from the above text, for the satisfaction of universalists, who pay less attention to the holy sacrament than any other class of professing christians, with the exception of the honest quakers. And without any ref

1

the cross

erence to this absurd notion, as to the manner of partaking of the body and blood of Jesus Christ, how clearly does the quotation attribute salvation to the broken body and spilt blood, or in other words, to the sufferings and death of Jesus Christ? When Christ speaks of giving his flesh and blood for the life of the world, it is evident that he has reference to the offering which he made

upon

And as he de. clared "

except ye eat the flesh of the son of man, and drink his blood”-i. e. except ye partake of the merits of his death, through faith in his

ye

have no life in you;" his broken body and spilt blood are here represented as the source of eternal life: “ Whosoever eateth

my
flesh and drinketh

my blood hath eternal life.' And in no other way can the death of Christ be the source of life to the world, only by being an atonement for sin, by which sinners are “ redeemed from the curse of the law,” which is death, " for the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ

name

66

our Lord.”

remov

1 John i. 7. “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” It can hardly be necessary to make a remark to show that this plain declaration attributes to the blood of Christ the

power

of ing sin. The entire washing of the soul from the pollution of sin, is here ascribed to the blood of the cross. And from what sin does the blood of Christ cleanse ? Most certainly from that which has been committed; for it would be trifling to talk of being cleansed in anticipation of pollution. It is from “all sin,” which includes sin of every kind and degree. The blood of the cross, therefore, is an expiation for sin, and has the power of removing its guilt, washing away its pollution, and averting its punishment.

Heb. ii. 14. “For as much then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself took part of the same ; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.” This text has often been produced by universalists, to show that sin and the punishment of the wicked will have an end, by proving that the devil will be destroyed. But before it can prove any thing to their purpose on this point, they must prove that destruction, in

1

the sense of the text, means annihilation, and this they cannot do; since, it is often said that the wicked shall be destroyed, who, they contend, will be made holy and happy forever. But while the text does not teach the destruction of the devil, in the sense of annihilation, it furnishes the most conclusive evidence that the success of the Redeemer's kingdom, in the overthrow of the devil, and in rescuing from the bondage of sin and death, all that believe in him, and cleave to his cross, is the result of his sufferings and death : “ that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death.” Whatever different views may be entertained concerning the devil's having the power of death, and in relation to his destruction, they cannot effect the argument; since, all must admit that the text teaches, that the death of Christ was necessary in order to the accomplishment of the object of which it speaks, and that this object is one inseparably connected with the salvation of sinners. The death of Christ, then, was intended to destroy him who had the power of death, and thereby to deliver those who through fear of death were subject to bondage; the death of Christ, therefore must have been a substitute for the death of those who were delivered from death by it.

Eph. i. 7. “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.” Col. i. 14. “ In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins." Here are two texts which, in the use of the same language, attribute our redemption and forgiveness of sins to the blood of Christ. Without the shedding of blood, therefore, there would have been no redemption nor forgiveness of sins, and without these there could have been no salvation. Our entire salvation, therefore, is attributed to the blood of the cross. 1 Pet. i. 18, 19. “Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”

Rev. j. 56. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, be glory and dominion forever and ever." Chap. v. 9. “And they sung a new song, saying, thou art worthy to take the book and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy

« PreviousContinue »