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benevolent purpose. Besides, a vast amount of suffering is endured by animals, which are not supposed to be either sinners or substitutes for sinners. Yet who ventures to arraign the justice of God on this account?
3. Christ and his Apostles have mentioned various important purposes which were to be answered by his death, all of them having relation to the redemption of sinners, but no one of them importing that he suffered displays of God's anger, as a substitute for sinners.
4. The more benevolent any person is, the more ready he will be to expose himself to perils and sufferings, when this shall appear to him necessary to the salvation of others. After Paul became a Christian, to what perils and sufferings did he voluntarily expose himself for the salvation of sinners! He had indeed been himself a sinner; but he had obtained forgiveness—and who will suppose that his sufferings as an Apostle, were of the nature of punishment, for the offences which God had graciously forgiven? or that he suffered as a substitute for those who were saved by his ministry? Besides, do not many pious missionaries of the present day, not only hazard their lives, but really suffer much in their benevolent endeavors to do good to others? And do they not, in the scriptural sense of the words,“ suffer for well-doing ?” If they do, why is not this as inconsistent with the justice of God, as it would have been for Christ to suffer in the same way
? Jesus had delight in doing good, in making others happy, and for such "joy set before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame;" and I have no doubt, that many of the missionaries of the present day, imitate the Captain of their salvation, by acting on the same benevolent principle. But I see no occasion for supposing their missionary sufferings to be of the nature of punishment for their own sins, nor a substitute for the punishment due to others, to “reconcile them with the justice of God.” “Blessed are they who suffer for righteousness' sake ; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matt. v. 10.
There is one passage in the writings of Paul, which I think may be pertinently introduced in this place, as affording a further illustration of my views of the agony in the garden, and also a further answer to the question relating to “the justice of God.” In speaking of himself, Paul makes the following most solemn declaration :
“I say the truth in Christ, I lie not; my conscience also bearing me witness, in the Holy Ghost, that I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in
for I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ, for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh." Rom. ix. 1, 2, 3.
As a literal translation of the second verse, Dr. Macknight gives the following “That I have great grief, and unceasing anguish of heart.” Perhaps no other passage can be found in the Bible, more analogous to the accounts given of the agony in the garden. Yet this “anguish of heart” in Paul was occasioned by his deep concern for his “ brethren and kinsmen according to the flesh." He perceived their blindness in rejecting the gospel, and probably had an awful view of the miseries which were coming on that nation, according to the prediction of Christ. It was the benevolence of his heart, in view of their condition, that occasioned his anguish. Why should not the Messiah be affected in a similar manner ? But who will say that the sufferings of Paul, which he thus feelingly describes, were either a punishment for
his own sins, or a substitute for the punishment due to others? It is presumed that no enlightened Christian will assert either the one or the other. Yet who feels any difficulty as to reconciling these sufferings of this Apostle, “with the justice of God ?" *
* The third verse has been translated and explained in different ways; and it has occasioned considerable controversy. In saying, “I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ,” &c. some have supposed, that Paul meant solemnly to declare, that he should be willing to be damned, if that might be the means of saving his brethren. Others suppose, that he meant no more than that he should be willing to be excommunicated from the visible church. Another mode of explaining the passage has recently occurred to my mind, which I shall venture to propose, for the consideration of others, without pretending to any assurance of its correctness.
The same Apostle, in his Epistle to the Galatians, says: “ 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.” Here, being accursed, or “made a curse," means, being subjected to the infa. mous death of the cross. Is it not, then, probable that Paul had in view, the ignominious death of Christ, when he said, “I could wish that myself were accursed; ” and that his meaning was, that he should be willing to suffer the death of the cross, if, by that means, his brethren might become partakers of the blessings of the gospel ? If the Greek preposition àrò, [apo,] which, in our version, is translated from, may properly be rendered like, or after, meaning, after the example, I should have little doubt that what I have suggested, is the meaning of the Apostle. Then the verse might read thus: “For I could wish that myself were accursed like Christ, or, after the manner of Christ, for my brethren and kinsmen according to the flesh."
Suffering for Well-doing not Punishment.
To regard all the sufferings of the present life as of the nature of punishment is, in my opinion, an error of injurious tendency. The sufferings of men are from various causes, and doubtless for various purposes; and while some suffer "for evil-doing,” others “suffer for welldoing.” Job's friends mistook his character, by regarding his sufferings as of the nature of punishment. Similar mistakes may have been made by others. To regard the sufferings of the Apostles and early Christians as punishments, seems to me altogether improper, and inconsistent with what is said in the Scriptures respecting them. Equally improper it is, so to regard the sufferings which benevolent men bring on themselves by attempts to reclaim and save the vicious from dangers or calamities, into which their vices have brought them.
I was led to these reflections, by observing what appeared to me a great inaccuracy in the reasoning of Bishop Butler on the mediation of Jesus Christ. He very justly compares the mediation and sufferings of the Messiah, with events which often occur in the course of natural providence. The following are some of his judicious remarks :
“When, in the daily course of natural providence, it is appointed that innocent people should suffer for the faults of the guilty ; this is liable to the very same objection as the instance we are now considering. The infinitely greater importance of that appointment of Christianity,
which is objected against, does not hinder, but it may be, as it plainly is, an appointment of the very same kind with what the world affords us daily examples of.”
“Men, by their follies, run themselves into extreme distress,—into difficulties which would be absolutely fatal to them, were it not for the interposition and assistance of others. God commands, by the law of nature, that we afford them this assistance, in many cases, where we cannot do it without very great pains, and labor, and sufferings to ourselves. And we see in what variety of ways one person's sufferings contribute to the relief of another, and how, or by what particular means, this comes to pass, or follows from the constitution and laws of nature, which come under our notice; and being familiarized to it, men are not shocked with it.” pp. 416, 417. Wilson's 20 edition.
These remarks perfectly aocord with what I believe to be true, as to the sense in which Christ suffered for us. The cases are numerous in which good men expose themselves to suffering, in their attempts to benefit, or save the guilty, or vicious. In this sense, one often suffers for another; and the virtuous frequently thus suffer for the guilty. Sometimes, too, the sufferings result from the prejudice, the malignity, and the violence, of the very persons whose happiness the sufferers are seeking. These appear to me as examples of what Peter meant, by suffering “as a Christian," and suffering “ for well-doing ; and also what the Messiah meant, by suffering "for righteousness' sake,”—for “his sake,” and “ for the gospels sake.”
What I regard, as the inaccuracy of Bishop Butler, does not appear in the passages I have quoted, but in what he