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THE ATONEMENT OF CHRIST NOT SUFFICIENT
OF ITSELF TO INDUCE MEN TO LOVE HIM.
ROMANS v, 1!. But we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.
2nd INFERENCE. ALTHOUGH Christ has finished the work of redemption, and atoned for sin; yet the moral state of man remains the same as if atonement had not been; made!
It is the opinion of some, that the phrase, to make atonement, is improper. There is however, great evidence of its propriety: for the Apostle Paul says
of Christ, that he was a “merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.”* And to make reconciliation is the same as to make atonement. The word in the original is the same for the one as for the other. The same phrase is used in Daniel: “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people, to finish the transgression, and to make reconciliation for iniquity." And to shadow forth the atonement of Christ, the phrase is used in Leviticus abundantly: “Aaron shall inake an atonernent for himself_and he shall make an atonement for the holy place and he shall make
* Heb. ii, 17.
san atonement for the holy sanctuary. And this shall be an everlasting statute unto you, to make an atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins once a year.” And concerning the leper it is said, “The priest shall make an atonement for him before the Lord.”
Thus we are justified in the use of the phrase, to make atonement, from the highest authority.
Atonement being made by Christ, by his obedience unto death, even the death of the cross, a door of mercy
open to guilty man, a wide door, which no man can shut. Jesus having died the just for the unjust, a high way is opened for man to God.
Atonement renders the situation of man very differ'ent from what it would otherwise have been. For if Christ had not been lifted up, no man could have been drawn unto him. Had it not been for the atonement of Christ, the apostasy of Adam would have left all mankind in a state of eternal death. We can never be raised from this abyss of woe, to the joys of heaven, only through the atonement.
The atonement, the word of reconciliation, exhibits a glorious light; but while men shut their eyes and turn away from this true light, they are condemned “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men have loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil." While men hate the light, and receive not the atonement, they will receive no saving benefit from it. God hath atoned sinners to himself by Jesus Christ, and given to the apostles the ministry of atonement, to wit, that God was in Christ atoning the world unto himself; and says Paul, God hath committed unto us the word of atonement. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us; we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye atoned to God.*
2 Cor. v, 18-20. for reconciliation.
The word in the original is the same for atonement **
Atonement is not salvation; it doth not of itself put us into possession of salvation: but it is an exhibition of the object of salvation: jt resembles the serpent which Moses lifted up in the wilderness, which, if we behold with an eye of faith, we shall have eternal life. Atonement of itself will not save men; but Christ was made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. For God sent not his Son into the world, actually, to save the whole world; but that as many of a fallen world, might be saved, through Christ, as Divine Sovereignty should see fit to save, Until we receive the atonement, we remain in the same state of depravity, condemnation and death, as if no atonement had been made.
1. Notwithstanding the atonement of Christ, the moral character of man remains the same.
In the beginning God made man upright in his own image, after his own likeness; “in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them;"* and God blessed them. Our first parents began their existence with a fair character, and in a state of bles, sedness; but through the subtlety of the serpent, they were tempted to transgress the divine command, not to eat of a certain tree. They did eat, and immediately they were found in a state of moral death. * And the Bible represents their whole posterity in the same situation. The parents being defiled with sin, their children are so of course. "For who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one."
Before the flood, God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And God looked upon the earth, and be. hold, it was corrupt: for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.”+
Moral death was subsequent to eating, for had they not eat, they would not have died.
† Gen. vi.
The wickedness of man in that age of the world, was so great, that the holy God would not endure them. “And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created, from the face of the earth."* It will be of no weight to object and say that the blood of Christ for the redemption of sinners was not then shed: for, though the blood of Christ, at that time, was not literally shed, yet, in the view of God, atonement was then made; for Christ is the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world. Aud all that are saved in any age of the world, are saved through Christ. And it was as true in that age of the world as in the present, that “Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ." And notwithstanding this foundation was laid in blood, no less expensive than the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot, the character of man is not altered; their enmity to God and the Son of God remains the same. If sinners conceive, that, by means of mere atonement they are made bet ter, it is owing to ignorance of their own hearts, and of the word of God.
All nations, in every age, are represented in divine revelation, as being depraved. The moral character or heart of every man is totally depraved. "For," says Paul, "we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; as it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God: They are all gone out of the way, they are 10gether become unprofitable; there is pone that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of
asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: their feet are swift to shed
blood: destruction and misery are in their ways: and the way of peace they have not known; there is no fear of God before their eyes."* Here the character and situation of man is drawn by the pen of inspiration. This is the picture of all men in a state of nature. This representation of the character and condition of mankind was given by the apostle, after the crucifixion of our blessed Saviour.
Perhaps some may think that if they had been personally acquainted with the suffering Redeemer, and had seen him in his agony in the Gethsemanean garden, when he sweat as it were great drops of blood, they shculd be so affected, as to melt inte tears of genuine repentance Or if they had seen him treated as he was by the Jewish court, or as he was treated by the Roman soldiers, who smote him and spit upon him, that they should then be constrained to love him! Or, especially, had they seen him as a condemned malefactor, led away to be crucified-nailed to the cross-bleeding, expiring, dying; that then they must have loved him with their whole heart.
But, not having beheld the scene of Christ's sufferings, not having heard his dying groans; is there therefore any excuse for remaining his enemies? Such may be as criminal in the sight of God as the Jews were, to whom Christ said, "Ye have both seen and hated both me and my Father.”
Although Christ died for his enemies, yet this doth not convert them into friends. “Peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." We are as certain of this as if we had seen him die. And if, knowing what Christ has done for us, will not move us, neither should we be persuaded, had we seen him die, and rise triumphantly from the grave on the third day:
* Rom. iii, 9--19.