« ForrigeFortsæt »
was our Redemption ; [Ess, XI. any conclusions of our own forming. It is one on which the declarations of Holy Writ are at once very abundant and very clear.
Inendeavouring to unfold these scriptural evidences, I may, in the first place, briefly advert to those parts of the Bible, in which the doctrine of redemption, or salvation, by Jesus Christ, is promulgated in general terms.
Such a description applies, in full force, to the first passage
of the Bible in which the Messiah is alluded to. The great purpose of his mission was proclaimed at a very early stage of the history of man, when, after the fall of Adam and Eve, Jehovah thus addressed the serpent: “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel :" Gen. iii, 15. We have already found occasion to notice the evidence afforded by the analogy of scripture in general, and by some indirect references to this passage in the New Testament, that the serpent who tempted Eve was the devil, the author of moral evil, and the great enemy of the souls of men; and that the seed of the woman, here mentioned, is no other than the Lord Jesus Christ, the descendant of Eve, and the Son of the Virgin Mary, is generally understood and allowed by the professors of the Christian name.
From the curse here pronounced, therefore, and from the promise connected with it, we learn that the incarnate Son of God was utterly to subdue our great adversary, and to deliver mankind from the thraldron of his power. Such an interpretation of Gen. iii, 15, is in full accordance with the doctrine of the apostle, who taught the Hebrews that the Son took part of flesh and blood, in order "that, through death, he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is the devil; and deliver them who, through fear of death, were all their lifetime subject
Ess. XI.]' as is declared by the Sacred Writers, 375 to bondage:" Heb. ii, 14, 15. And the apostle John has written on the same subject, in terms equally explicit: “He that committeth sin, is of the devil: for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil:" 1 John iii, 8.
The divine purpose in the mission of the Messiah, which was thus obscurely indicated in the original promise of a Redeemer, was further unfolded in other prophecies of the Old Testament, which make mention of Christ as the Redeemer, or Saviour, of men. Such was the office, for example, which Job attributed to the Holy One of Israel, who was to stand in the latter days upon the earth, xix, 25; and by others of the prophets, the design of God, in sending his Son into the world, is expressly declared to be salvation—the salvation of his people—the salvation of mankind—“ It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be My SALVATION unto the end of the earth :" Isa. xlix, 6; comp. Isa. xxxv, 4; Jer. xxiii, 5, 6; Zech. ix, 9.
We know that the proper name of Christ was significant of the same doctrine, “ Thou shalt bring forth a Son," said the angel Gabriel to Mary, “and thou shalt call his name Jesus; for he shall save his people from their sins," Matt. i, 21; and to the shepherds, who were “ keeping watch over their flock by night,” the birth of Jesus was announced as the birth of a Saviour _“Unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a SAVIOUR, which is Christ the Lord :” Luke ii, 11. That the New Testament abounds with passages in which the same general account is given of the office of Jesus Christ, and of the purpose of his mission, it is almost needless to remark. It is the plain and frequent
[Ess. XI. testimony of the evangelists and apostles, (as must be familiarly known to every well-instructed Christian) that Christ Jesus came into the world," that the world, through him, might be saved"—that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world”-that he is made'unto us, of God, “wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption"—that he hath now "obtained eternal redemption for us”-that the Gospel is the “power of God to salvation :" see John iii, 17; Rom. i, 16; 1 Cor. i, 30; 1 Tim. i, 15; Heb. ix, 12; 1 John iv, 14, &c.
I am fully aware how familiarly these terms are applied to Jesus Christ, and to the dispensation of the Gospel, by persons whose views of Christian doctrine are, nevertheless, extremely deficient and limited; but the least reflection must, I think, suffice to convince the candid inquirer after divine truth, that these are no loose, metaphorical, unmeaning, expressions; but are pregnant with a deep and most important signification. Such expressions afford a plain and decisive evidence that Jesus Christ came into the world, not merely as a prophet, a lawgiver, and an example, but as the moral and spiritual deliverer of mankind. Nothing, indeed, can be more expressly and powerfully to the point than the declaration of Jesus Christ himself-“ the Son of man is come to seek and to SAVE that which was lost:” Luke xix, 10. All mankind, in their fallen and unregenerate condition, are lost. They are deprived of the image of their Creator, and their sins have separated them from their Lord; iniquity marks their course, and never-ending misery is their sentence of condemnation. Now, as is their loss by nature, so is their gain by Christ. Their salvation is to be measured by the depth of their degradation, and by the extent of their ruin-it is to be estimated by the nature of the evils under which they labour,
Ess. x1.] Scripture Doctrine of Atonement. 377 and of the destruction from which they are extricated. When, therefore, we hail the Lord Jesus Christ as the Saviour of the world and the Redeemer of mankind, we hail him, not only as one from whom we derive the most valuable information and instruction, but as one who actually delivers us from the burthen of guilt, from the power of sin, from the tyranny of Satan, and from the bitter pains of eternal death,"
Such is the general view which the sacred writers present to us, in general terms, of the purpose of the mission of the Son of God-to SAVE LOST MANKIND.
And now, in order to a fuller understanding of our subject, we may consider the two leading branches of it in succession, and may proceed to examine, in their due order, those scriptural evidences which prove that Jesus Christ came into the world, that he might bestow upon us indemnity, on the one hand, and cure, on the other--that he came, in the first place, to make an atonement for our sins, and, in the second place, to procure for us that celestial influence, by which alone we can be regenerated, sanctified, and prepared for heaven,
ON THE SCRIPTURE DOCTRINE OF ATONEMENT.
God, who is rich in mercy, looks down with the compassion of a Father on sinful, wandering, and lost mankind ;-and this is the language in which he graciously addresses them: Repent, return, and live“ Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him, and unto our God, for he will abundantly pardon:" Isa. lv, 7.
Inefficacy of Repentance alone [Ess. XI. While, however, the pardon of God is thus graciously bestowed on the transgressor who turns away from his iniquities, and does that which is lawful and right, and while such a change of disposition and conduct is plainly to be regarded as an indispensable condition, without which sinful man can entertain no just hope of salvation; we are not to imagine that repentance and amendment are, in themselves, available to procure us forgiveness, to prevent the fatal consequences of our sins, and to purchase our eternal peace. Such a notion is opposed to the dictates even of natural religion; it is inconsistent with the known course of the providence of God, and it is completely overturned by the declarations of Scripture, and by the revealed principles of the Gospel of Christ.
Natural religion, amidst all her obscurities, may be said to assume the doctrine, that God, who is a Being of absolute purity and justice, is the moral Governor of the world ; and that, as such, he will, sooner or later, render unto every man according to his deeds. Now, when we regard the Supreme Being in this point of view, it is impossible for us not to perceive the unreasonableness of the supposition, that a person who has long been accustomed to a life of sin, and who afterwards repents and amends, can, without any satisfaction for past transgressions, be regarded by him in the same light as if he were a perfectly virtuous person who had never offended him. Present obedience does no more than fulfil present obligation ; and, in the sight of a perfectly righteous God, there must always be an essential inequality between the partial and the complete fulfilment of the divine law. The difference which subsists between the two supposed cases may be safely brought to the test of the conscience, which when rightly illuminated, and not perverted, is a sure, internal, representative of the mind