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2. That these he suffered as the substitute for sinners : 3. That it was the purpose of these sufferings to exempt those from punishment for whom they were endured. With these ideas in view, I think no impartial inquirer will ever be able to satisfy himself that the words in question were ever used in such a sense by any inspired writer.
There are, however, other passages of Scripture which may afford light on this subject; some of which I shall now exhibit.
1. It is said of Christ, “He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.”—“ Himself took our infirmities and bare our sicknesses.” It could be only in a metaphorical sense, that he bore our griefs, our sicknesses, or our sins. Matthew, after recording the many miracles which Jesus performed on a certain occasion, tells us, that these things were done, " That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet,—Himself took our infirmities and bare our sicknesses.” If, then, Christ might bear our sicknesses by exercising a benevolent sympathy and his power of healing; why not bear our sins by benevolent labors and sufferings to redeem us from all iniquity? I see no more evidence that, in bearing our sins, he bore our punishment, than that in bearing our sicknessaes, he suffered all the pains and distresses, of which he relieved others.
2. Not only did Christ bear our infirmities, but Christians are required to bear the infirmities and burdens of each other :
“We then, who are strong, ought to bear the infirmities of the weak.” Rom. xv. 1. “ Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ." Gal. vi. 2.
It surely is not by having the infirmities and burdens of others transferred to me, that I am to comply with these exhortations. I am not to become their substitute, but I am to exercise toward them a Christlike sympathy, and do what I can for their relief and comfort.
3. - For consider him that endured”. bore" contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” Heb. xii. 3.
How did Christ bear “ endure the contradiction of sinners against himself?" In other words, how did he bear the opposition, mockings, revilings, and insults of his persecutors, before and at the time of his crucifixion ? Was it by suffering the punishment due to his persecutors ? Or did he bear all this by the display of a meek and forgiving temper towards his enemies, and by prayers, labors, and sufferings for their benefit? If the latter was the way in which he bore the contradiction, insults, and cruelties of his persecutors, why not thus “bear the sins of many ?
4. “Let us go forth, therefore, unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.” Heb. xiii. 13.
How are Christians to bear the reproach of their Lord ? Is it by having his reproach transferred to them, that he may be relieved from it? Can we bear his reproach in
no other way, than by suffering, as he did, the death of a malefactor? If we may truly bear his reproach by being so affected with it as to be willing to do and to suffer whatever may be necessary to advance the cause for which he suffered ; then he might bear our sins by being so affected with our condition as sinners, as freely to lay down his life for our sakes.
Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus.” 2 Cor. iv, 10.
This Paul spoke of himself and his fellow-sufferers in the cause of Christ. By “the dying of the Lord Jesus," is unquestionably meant the sufferings of Christ as Captain of our salvation.” How then did Paul and his companions, " always bear about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus?” Was it by having the sufferings of Christ transferred to them, so that they were continually enduring the death of the cross ? This will hardly be said. By this form of speech some suppose Paul expressed his constant suffering, or exposedness to suffering, and his willingness to suffer in the cause for which the Savior died. This may not be all that the words were meant to imply. They might mean, that the Apostles constantly kept in mind the event of their Lord's death, the objects for which he died, and the temper he displayed under suffering; and that by a consideration of these things they were animated in their work, and excited to patience, fortitude, and perseverance, notwithstanding all the trials and persecutions which they were called to endure.
Of Jesus, it is said, “who bare our sins in his own body on the tree."
Of Paul it is said, “ Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus.”
Here let it be remarked, that Christ bore our sins, and Paul bore Christ's sufferings or dying. If then it be the correct mode of interpretation to say, that in bearing our sins, Christ bore the punishment due to us, why must we not say, that in “ Always bearing about the dying of the Lord Jesus,” the sufferings of the cross were transferred from Christ to Paul ?
Christ suffered for our sake, and Paul suffered for Christ's sake. But in neither case do I perceive any thing like substituted penal suffering. If, however, in bearing our sins, Christ bore our punishment, why is it not just to infer, that in bearing the dying of our Lord, Paul bore over again the “punishment due to us all ? "
As there are many cases in which one is represented as bearing or having borne the sins of others, is it not remarkable, that a meaning has been given to the words when applied to Christ, which is essentially different from their meaning in every other case in which they are used in the Bible !
The Agony in the Garden not the Effect of God's Anger.
“FATHER, if thou be willing, remove this сир nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done. And there appeared an Angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him; and being in an agony, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was, as it were, great drops of blood, falling down to the ground.” Luke xxii. 42–44.
“Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications, with strong cryings and tears, unto him that was able to save him from death; and was heard, in that he feared.” Heb. v. 7.
The agony of our Lord in the garden has occasioned much inquiry and diversity of opinion. The two passages which have been quoted, are supposed to relate to the
same event. Many have believed, that the agony was caused by displays of God's anger against the sufferer, as the substitute for sinners. Those who advocate this hypothesis, suppose, that on any other supposition, our Lord must appear to great disadvantage, compared with other martyrs, some of whom, and even some females, have displayed remarkable fortitude under cruel sufferings, on the rack, or at the stake ; yet our Lord could say, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.” Against the hypothesis that the agony was occasioned by the anger of God, several queries and remarks will be submitted.
1. By whom was the Angel sent to strengthen the suffering Savior ? Surely he was sent by God, and probably in answer to the prayer of the Son. But would this have been done, had the Son been suffering by his Father's
2. The cause of the agony is not stated; but as the Son was one in whom the Father was ever well pleased, the hypothesis that he suffered God's anger, seems to me incongruous and unnatural.
3. While in the body, there is a great diversity in the natural constitutions of persons, as to liability to be distressed in the prospect of great suffering ; so great is this diversity, that it is unsafe to judge of the moral character of a person from his apparent firmness or want of firmness on such occasions. Some of the best of men, and some of the worst, have displayed astonishing fortitude or indifference in respect to sufferings; and some of both classes have been greatly distressed and overwhelmed with grief. Besides, the same person may at different times evince very different feelings in respect to similar evils