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If this explanation of the meaning of avti is correct, the use of it in this passage, which two evangelists have given as the words of Christ himself, leads irresistibly to this conclusion, that Christ, or his life was given as the price of redemption, the equivalent for the life of sinners. And so the İtalian version of Diodati expresses it. “E per dar l'anima sua per prezzo di riscatto per molti,” and to give his life for the price of redemption [ransom or rescue) for many."
But to fortify the ground here taken, it may be useful to prove, by authorities, that I have not mistaken the true import of the word avti. The first examples are from the Septuagint.
Gen. 9, 6. Ο εκχεων αιμα ανθρωπου, αντί του αιματος αυτου εκχυθηostal. He that sheddeth man's blood, for his blood shall it be shed.
Gen. 2, 21. Και ελαβε μίαν των πλευρων αυτου, και ανεπληρωσε σαρκα αντ' αυσης. And he took one of his ribs and closed up [filled up] the flesh instead thereof; [in the place of the rib.]
Gen. 4, 25. Εξανεστησε γαρ μοι ο Θεος σπερμα ετερον αντί Αβελ, ον απεκτείνα Kαίν. . God hath appointed me another seed, instead of Abel whom Cain slew.
Gen. 22, 18. In thy seed shall all nations of the earth be blessed-Ξανθ' ων υπηκουσας της εμης φωνης, because thou hast obeyed my voice—that is, for that reason, or as we should say in law, for that consideration, or as an equivalent return.
Gen. 30, 2. Mn avti ReoU £yw sipuíAm I in God's stead?
Gen. 36, 33. And Bela died-xai sbadinɛugev avt' autou Iwbas -and Joab reigned in his stead, and so in the following verses of the same chapter.
Gen. 44, 4. Ti ori avtanedwXATɛ rovnpa arti xadw. Why have ye rewarded evil for good?
Verse 33. Νυν ουν παραμενω σοι παίς αντί του παιδίου. Now let thy servant abide instead of the lad.
Gen. 47, 17. Και εδωκεν αυτοις Ιωσηφ αρσους αντί των ίππων. And Joseph gave them bread for horses, (as an equivalent-in exchange for horses.]
Deut. 10, 6. Και ιερατευσεν Ελεάζαρ υίος αυτου αντ' αυτου. And Eleazar his son ministered in the priest's office in his stead.
Math. 5, 38. Οφθαλμον αντί οφθαλμου, και οδοντα αντί οδοντος-an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.
Rom. 12, 17. Mndeví xoxov avri xaxou anodidovtes. Recompense [recompensing] to no man evil for evil.
In the books of Kings and Chronicles, the death of a king is followed by this phrase his son reigned in his stead. The Greek is, avti auTOU—and the instances numerous.
Thucyd. Hist. lib. 4, 20. Kæi autoi ta avtí Todemou eipmunu edwueda. And since we prefer peace to war-wor, we would take peace instead of war, or we prefer peace instead of war.
Ib. Lib. 4, 86. Και ημίν τοίς Λακεδαιμονίοις ουκ αν αντί πονων χαρίς καθίσταίσο, αντι δε σίμης και δοξης αίσια μαλλον. Το us, Lacedaemonians, no favor (or thanks] would be awarded for our toils, but instead of honor and glory, we should receive blame.
Xenoph., S. Αντί δε τουτου πολεμίςηρία κατασκευασεν αρματα spoxois. Te io xupois-Instead of this, he provided military chariots with strong wheels.
Examples of this use of avoi by the best classical Greek writers, may be adduced to an indefinite extent; and the application of the word by the scriptural writers, is in perfect accordance with the Greek classics. Indeed the word may be said to have no other signification than that which occurs in the above cited passages--it always denotes substitution or equivalent. When it refers to persons, it denotes that one person takes the place of another, or acts in the same capacity--as where the son takes the place of his deceased father and rules in his stead. When it refers to things, it denotes one thing given in exchange for another, of like val
“Joseph gave bread for horses"--or it denotes that one thing is done in return for another, as an equivalent, in reward or punishment_or that one thing is made to answer for another, as its substitute.
We are then to take it as a given point that the Evangelists, Matthew and Mark, have used the word in the same
sense as other scriptural writers, and as the classical Greek authors have used it. No just rule of criticism will warrant a different interpretation. If so, we have their express declaration, that Christ gave his life as the substitute or equivalent for many that is, in the place or stead of the life of sinners-the ransom, the price of deliverance from that death to which their disobedience had subjected them.
Now the evangelists have correctly reported the words of Christ, or they have not. If they have not, their writings are of no authority, and we know from them nothing on the subject. If they have reported the words correctly, Christ himself has determined the nature of his atonement. He has declared it to be an equivalent given, or satisfaction made to divine justice for the sins of men. To give his words any meaning different from that in which all Greek authors used them would be not only false criticism, but immorality--it would be to abuse our reason.
It is on this principle of substitution or exchange, that the word xatanlayn, Rom. 5, 11, is used in the sense of atonement or reconciliation. “By whom we have now received the atonement,” or as it might be rendered, reconciliation. The primary signification of the word is exchange, and by a metonymy of the effect for the cause, it denotes the reconciliation produced by the exchange; by the substitution of Christ's obedience and death, for those of sinners, or the substitution of his righteousness for that of men. On this point then the declaration of Paul is in perfect accordance with that of Christ himself.
With this evidence before my mind, my reason is convinced, that the orthodox notions respecting the character of Christ and his atonement are scriptural and correct. So clear and satisfactory is the evidence of the divinity of Christ and of the nature of the atonement, that I cannot reconcile a denial of the one or the other, with a belief of the divine authority of the Scriptures.
These two doctrines, the divinity and the atonement of Christ, are, in my view, the corner stones of Christianity; remove them and the whole fabric falls to the ground. It is indeed a wonderful scheme, devised by infinite wisdom and benevolence, to remedy the evils of the apostasy; and some parts of the scheme may be to us incomprehensible. But to the mysteries of this scheme of redemption, as to all the mysteries of the natural world, and of God's moral government, it is the duty of men to bow with submission; to bless our heavenly Father for what he has revealed, and not reject it, because he has not revealed more.
My Dear Friend,
As I purpose to subjoin, to these letters, a summary history of the discovery and settlement of this continent, particularly of the United States, I will present you with a preliminary account of the dispersion of the first families of men, and the descent of the principal nations of the earth. By this means, you may understand from what branch of Noah's family, the citizens of our republic are descended. I am the more inclined to do this, on account of the general neglect of American History. I have observed, with some surprise and more regret, a reluctance in the youth of this country, to study or even to read the history of their own fathers. They are delighted with the history of Greece and Rome, and perhaps with the history of the Persians, or of Alexander's and Cesar's conquests ; they are pleased with the history of England; but the history of the pilgrims offers few allurements to attract their attention.
But if I do not mistake, the discovery and settlement of this country, are among the most interesting events, that the world has witnessed. The time and manner of discovery and settlement, the character of the settlers, the freedom of our government, the extent of territory to be peopled, and many other circumstances, give an uncommon importance to the history of the United States. To me it is a very interesting subject. The revolution commenced when I was a student in College; the terror and alarm of that crisis roused my feelings; the contest awakened all my zeal and patriotism; and the lapse of forty-eight years has not extinguished the ardor of affection for my country which the dangers and sufferings of my fellow citizens then enkindled in my breast.