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The husband saw all this, and would rather bis wife should suffer the utmost extremity of the law, than that good government should be disobeyed, or the law disregarded, which he loved, and wished to be maintained. He loved his wife so much, that he was willing to suffer the penalty of the law himself, if she might by this means escape it. He knew that he was able to go through this suffering, however dreadful, and survive it; and that his doing this in the sight of the whole kingdom, would do more honour to the law, and the government be better established and maintained, than if his wife should suffer as she deserved. He therefore, stepped forward, and offered, and desired to take the evil upon himself, and suffer the penalty of the law in the room of his wife, and for her crime. His offer was accepted, and he suffered the whole, without the least mitigation.
"All the inbabitants and good subjects in the king. dom, looked on and had not a thought of any injustice done to him, who offered to suffer for his wife; and did actually suffer the evil which she deserved. They saw and admired his benevolence and goodness to his wife, and his disposition and zeal to maintain the law and government. They beheld, and were highly pleased with the uprightness, rectitude and righteousness of their king, and his fixed determination to maintain his law, while he inflicted the penalty of it on a person whom he esteemed and loved above all others in his kingdom,' when he stood in the place of the transgressor: And a greater discovery was made of this, and his bigh displeasure at rebellion, than if the criminal herself
had been punished. They were struck with the propriety, righteousness, wisdom and goodness exercised and manifested in the whole affair, and ever after a more clear apprehension, and greater sense of the soundness, importance, and excellence of the law, and of the unreasonableness and magnitude of the crime of transgressing it; and loved and revered
their king, and his law and government, more than they ever had done before.
"The husband and wife were unspeakably more happy in each other, than they were before, or than they could have been, had not all this taken place. Their mutual love was stronger and more sweet and happy. She saw more of his worthiness, excellence and love, than she could otherwise have done, and was most happy and swallowed up in the sweetest gratitude, and the most endearing affection, which knew no bounds nor end."
Let us now proceed to the proposed remarks; the object of which is to call the attention of the l'eader, seriously and candidly to consider whether the above story doth properly illustrate the Bible doctrine of atonement. It appears to me that it doth not; and my reasons are the following:
1. Although the benevolent husband offered to suffer for his wife, yet he did not offer to die for her. She had committed a crime, the punishment of which, had it been inflicted upon her, would have terminated in death: "for, the punishment to be inflicted upon her, she could not suffer and survive it." But the husband “knew that he was able to go through this suffering, however dreadful, and survive it." Now, would the husband have offered to suffer in the room of his wife, had he known that he could not have survived? If not, he did not offer to die for his wife. "Skin for skin, all that a man hath will he give for his life.” Accordingly, there is no evidence that the husband would have died for his wife. But Christ died for sinners: he was obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, And is the husband would not have died for his wife, how then is the scheme illustrated? And on the other hand, if he had died for her, it would leave the author's scheme of atonement, as it appears to me, in great difficulty still: For the illustration supposes, that the husband was the best man in the kingdom: And shall one of the best men in the
kingdom die for one of the worst women, and the inhabitants be left to mourn the loss of one of the best men, and still be exposed to great calamity from the continued rebellion of a wicked woman?
According to the preceding illustration, the husband survived the punishment, which would have been death to the wife, had it been inflicted upon her; and after this they lived together in mutual happiness; and the wife was filled with the most endearing affection, and swallowed up in the sweetest gratitude. Is this a consistent illustration of the Bible doctrine of atonement? Do the sufferings of Christ turn the rebellious heart into cordial submission to law and government? do they turn the heart of stone into genuine terderness: do they turn the heart of hatred into the most endearing affection; and the most unthankful heart into the sweetest gratitude? I conclude that our author, and all those who advocate bis scheme of atoneinent, would answer these questions in the neg. ative. How then is his illustration in harmony with the scriptural doctrine of atonement?
2. It cannot be proved, that a good man ever did, or ever would offer, and even desire to suffer in the view of a whole kingdom, a punishment due to a rebel, one of the vilest among men. In the illustration, that which is taken for granted, needs proof. A good man, would, doubtless, suffer great evil for one whom he loved; as a man will be bound for a friend in whom he can put confidence. But between the husband and the wife in the case before us, there was no friendship; for the husband was attached to the government of the kingdom, but the wife was a rebet, and therefore, opposed to the peace, order, and happi. ness of the whole empire.
3. There is another thing taken for granted by the author of the illustration which needs proof, which is this; that a king, or those who administer the government of a state, would accept of an innocent person, a most worthy character, in the place of a wicked
rebel, and lay all that suffering, without any mitigation, upon him, which the rebel deserved to suffer. I presume that no government, except it was formed in the midst of darkness, worse than Egyptian, would do such a deed. I'here is not a Protestant court in Europe or America, that would punish the innocent in the place of the guilty; nay, there is not a court in the civilized world that would lay a capital punishment, if any punishment, upon an innocent man, in the room and stead of a vile criminal. We do not learn that any such thing was ever practised among the nation of the Jews: to them were committed the oracles of God; but in those oracles we find not a solitary
josta nce, in which that nation, or any other, ever pun. 'ished an innocent person in the room and stead of the guilty. I see not, therefore, how such an illustration should be thought of, upon any other principle, than taking for granted this scheme of atonement to be correct, and so founding the illustration upon the very thing to be proved. The word of God does not furnish us wită a single instance in which any person ever offered to suffer in the room and stead of a criminal, that he might extricate the guilty person from the hands of justice. I believe that if an innocent man should come forward before the seat of justice, and ask the judges if he might be allowed to suffer in the room of a criminal, and so let the criminal go free, that he would be looked upon as in a bigh state of insanity. And should the judges grant him his request, they would be viewed in the same unhappy situation with the deluded petitioner. And when the innocent man should be brought to the place of ignominious suffering, and the criminal seen walking at liberty, the whole multitude of spectator's, had they not lost the feelings of men, would view the horrid scene” with amazement and disgust.
It is represented that all the good subjects of the kingdom looked on, and had no thought of any injutstice done to him, who suffered all the evil which the wife deserved. This is begging the question, that is, taking for granted the very thing to be proved.
The probability is, that should such a thing take place as is supposed in the story, all the good subjects of the kingdom would look on, and view the affair, with the utmost consternation and abhorrence, as being in the highest degree unjust, cruel and absurd.
In the author's illustration, he says;—they admired the zeal of the good man to maintain the law and government. But it is highly probable, that should such an event take place, that conduct of the good man would be viewed with astonishment, beyond conception, that he should think, that his suffering extreme torture, while the guilty escaped all punishment, should be a way to maintain law and government! Yea, nothing could have a more direct and certain tendency to dissolve law, and to put an end to all good government.
Should the governments in our land of liberty be so infatuated, as to admit of its being a common thing, for the innocent, and good subjects, to offer to be punished in the room and stead of transgressors; and should the judges be so extremely depraved in their minds, as to allow the innocent thus to suffer, and so let criminals escape the laws; reason teaches, that, in
, a very short time there would be no law, liberty nor government in the land: all legitimate bodies would he dissolved, the seat of justice, and the whole land would be involved in the utmost confusion, uproar, and disorder. For the truth of this, I appeal to reason, sense, and Scripture.
I believe that no court which had the divine approbation, ever did, or ever can, lay susferings on an innocent man, for the sake of letting the guilty go free. This, instead of being a good method to maintain law, and secure peace and order in society, would tend to the dissolution of law; and all human peace, order and happiness would come to an end. The author represents the people highly pleased with the conduct of