Page images
PDF
EPUB

LETTERS FROM A

TO HIS SON.

to all the profound and mysteri- God is the height of abomina. ous doctrines of the Bible. Were tion ; the extreme of impiety. the difficulties in his way ten “ Trust in the Lord and do times as many as they are, they good.” Do that which is right, could not prevent his unwavering and leave the issue to his disposfaith in those truths, which are al. In matters of prudence, to supported by the word of Jeho- judge what is expedient, you vah, and illumined with the light must look to the probable conseof heaven. '

quences.

But in matters of PASTOR. moral obligation, repair directly

to the word of God, prove what

is acceptable in his sight, follow CLERGYMAN

this invariably, and commit the consequences to him.

There are many cases, in which you LETTER I.

may be in doubt what to do. Dear Frank,

Here the tendency and issue of All the letters, which I re- things must be taken into conceive from you, I read with plea- sideration, before you form your sure ; especially as they give me resolution. But cases of this reason to think, that you still re- kind are not the most important, lain those religious sentiments, They are such only as concern which appeared to direct your the present life. They are pruconduct, while you dwelt under dential rather than moral. In my roof. The question propose cases, which essentially relate to ed in your last is important, and your duty and salvation, God has deserves an answer ; viz. “ How given you explicit instructions ; shall a young man pursue the and by these you must be govbusiness of his secular calling erned. When you know what with success, and without in- God requires, you are not to hesterference with religious du- itate and debate, but to apply ties?” The general answer is, yourself to it immediately ; for Let your secular business become whatever may be, or seem to be a part of religion. Or, in the its first consequences, you may words of the wise man, “ Com- trust the divine goodness and mit your works to the Lord, and faithfulness, that its result will your thoughts shall be establish- be happy. When Abraham was ed.” “In all your ways acknowl- called to go forth from his native edge God, and he will direct your land," he obeyed, not knowing paths."

If you commit your whither he went.” He knew works to God, they must be such the call was from God, and he as he approves and requires ; put himself under God's direcnot such as he has warned you tion, and confided in his care. to avoid. The man, who engages When Christ called men to fol. in an evil design, or adopts un- low bim, he made them no promlawful means to effect an inno- ises of worldly accommodations ; cent design, shows that there is but directed them to trust themno fear of God in his heart ; and selves without anxiety in the for him to commit his works to hands of Providence.

Perform all your works with a heliness. In the consorinity of sense of your dependence on the heart to the character of God God, and accountableness to consists that sincerity, which is him, and with humble prayer, an essential quality of gospel that he would assist and accept obedience. But this principle, you in them.

Set him always in the present imperfect state of before you, as a God who loves huinan nature, and ainidst the righteousness and hates wicked- temptations of this dangerous ness, and who will bring into world, is not strong enough to judgment every work and every triumph over all difficulties, and secret thing, whether it be good produce a uniform obedience. or evil. Form your resolutions, În aid to it God has therefore encounter your irials, engage in proposed various external mua your works, with a full reliance lives. The greatest of these on his support. And by daily are the rewards and punishments communion with him seek his of the future world. These may direction in your doubts, bis de- have an awakening effect on unfence in your dangers, and his holy minds. And where they smiles on your labours.

do not operate to real repentYour times are in God's hands. ance, they may restrain from He orders them with wisdom. many gross sins, and excite to The reward of righteousness is some useful works. They have sure; but God will take his own a powerful influence on good time to bestow it. Your humble men to make them watchful prayers will be answered; but against ali temptations to sin, perhaps not in the time and man- and diligent and active in the duner, which you expected. Your ties of the Christian life.

The persevering conflicts with cor- scripture applies them to holy, ruption and temptation will pre- as well as to guilty charactere vail ; but you cannot promise It was a commendation of the yourself immediate victory and virtue of Moses, that “ he had discharge. * Be faithful to the respect to the recompense of death, and you will receive a reward." The godly are adcrown of life.”

monished to “ fear him who is The scripture directs, that able to destroy both body and ** whatever you do,” whether in soul in hell.” All those motives the secular or religious life, to virtue, which are taken from * you do it heartily as upto the the future world, are of a virtuLord.” You comply with this ous tendency, and directly opedirection, when you act under the rate to aid and strengthen virtuhabitual influence of those mo- ous principles. The scripture tives, which God has proposed to often calls in temporal motives 10 you. These motives are of dif- the assistance of virtue.

But ferent importance ; and a mind these must always be subordinate rightly tempered and disposed, to the motives taken from the will feel their relative weight and other world. be influenced by them accordingly. place they are useful.

The highest and purest prin- become supreme, they are fatal. ciple of moral action is the love There are worldly advantages reof God, or the love of virtụe and sulting from a religious life; andit Vol. III. No. 3.

Р

in their proper

If they is just to allow them their weight. Answer. The confounding of But if we value our temporal the desert of sin with its guilt, more than our eternal interests, i.e. with the obligation to punishwe invert that order, which is ment connected with sin by the God's supreme law. The things law, seems to be the capital misof the world have their value, and take, which has embarrassed we may estimate them according numbers in their reasonings on to their value. All beyond this this subject. This was a main is unreasonable and immoral ; objection of the Polonian Bretha proceeds from corruption of ren, which has lately been adoptmind, and tends to corrupt it ed and urged by some who do still more. The works which not adopt their general system. we do under the governing in- They who maintain that Christ Auence of wordly affections, are

bare the guilt and punishment of devoted to the world; not com- sin are, as far from imagining mitted to God. And the friends. that our sin and desert of punship of the world is enmity to ishment were transfused into God.'

him, as the objectors. They You will soon hear more from constantly explain their meaning me on this subject. In the mean to be, that the guilt of sin is not time believe me to be your affec- its criminality or desert of pun. tionale parent,

ishment, but the penal debt, or EUSEBIUS. obligation connected with it.

And they think it a great injury that their doctrine should be charged with an absurdity so

gross and blasphemous, which In a Series of Letters to a Friend. they have always rejected with Continued from Vol. II. page 565.

abhorrence. The imputation of

sin and guilt to our Sponsor, acLETTER IV.

cording to our doctrine and to the Objections to the Scripture Doctrine of scriptures, is the transferring of the Atonement considered.

our obligation to suffer the deDEAR SIR,

served punishment of our sins to Though the doctrine of Christ, on his voluntarily conChrist's atonement seems to be senting to take it upon himself, so well supported by the scrip- and bear it in our stead. That tures ; yet there are numbers of this is impossible has never been professed Christians, who think shown. it liable to such objections, that On the contrary, the penal obthey do not receive it, as an ar- ligation of the guilty may be, ticle of their faith.

and has been transferred to an It is objected, that the guilt of innocent person, consenting to sin is its criminality or desert of take it on himself. Suppose » punishment, which is insepara- man's wife, or child, or friend, ble from the sin and the sinner; should for some crime be conand so cannot possibly be trans- demned to pay a fine. And supferred to a righteous person, so pose the relation or friend of the As to render him guilty, or de criminal should offer to pay the Serving of punishmento

fine for him, and the offer should

AX THE DOCTRINE OF THE A

TONEMENT.

[ocr errors]

be accepted by tlie proper au- proved and authorized the transthority ; this would be a trans- ferring of our penal obligation to ferring of the punishment from our Sponsor, and inflicted on the criminal to the innocent. him the punishment our sins deThat cases, not unlike this, have served. And sball we say that occurred, will not be disputed. this is unjust? If the guilt of sin could not be But it may be farther pleaded; taken off from a sinner, and he “ admitting that it may be just be freed from the imputation of for an inocent man to pay the it, we should be in a hopeless fine imposed on the guilty, and state. For God will in no wise so bear the punishment of their clear the guilty.

crimes; yet it would not be just But it is further urged, that it that he be held bound to suffer would be contrary to truth and the punishment of capital crimes, justice to impute sin, and inflict “to be hanged for a murder, punishment on Christ, in whom committed by his wife or child." is no sin, supposing that this Ans. Though it should be grantwere not naturally impossible. ed to be unlawful and unjust for

To this I answer : Since the men to inflict capital punishment scriptures 50 expressly and re- on those, who are personally inpeatedly assert, and with such nocent ; yet the supreme Judge variety of expression, that the of the wopkd, who has the most Lord hath laid our iniquities on absolute property in all things, Christ, that he hath borne them, has a right to do that, which it is was wounded, bruised, and died not fit that ignorant worms for them, was made a curse, or

should do. We are not at our bore the curse of the law in our own disposal, but are the creastead, to deliver us from the tures of God, and have no right curse ; is it not too bold to say to give away or dispose of our that this is contrary to justice own lives, or to take away the and truth?

lives of any but in such ways, as Besides, the case which has are prescribed by God. And he just been proposed, shows that neither requires, nor allows, that it is not only possible, but also the innocent suffer capital punconsistent with justice, in the ishment for crimes, to which common sense of mankind, for they have not been accessary. an innocent person to bear the It would also be injury to sopunishment of the guilty, if he ciety, if the life of a criminal who be willing to take the penal obli- ought to die, were ransomed by gation on himself, and if the the death of an innocent and use. ends, for which the punishment ful citizen. was necessary, are answered by But Christ had power over his it. Now we assert, that Christ own life to lay it down, and to take was willing to take upon him- it again. He was also authorisself the guilt, and to bear the ed by God, and sent into the punishment of our sins ; and by world, to give his life a ransom doing so the ends, for which the for those, who were lost, to bear punishment of our sins was nec- their sins, and to die for them, essary, were fully attained ; and the just for the unjust. To this Lod, the Supreme Judge, ap- he willingly consented, that he

[ocr errors][merged small]

might expiate the sins of the ings of Christ can be reconciled
world, knowing that God would with the justice of God.
hereby be exceedingly glorified, We have then a ready answer
the happiness of the universe to the question, which some urge
greatly advanced, and that he

upon us.

16 Were our sins so would rise from the curse of the transferred to Christ as to beJaw, to which he subjected him- come really his sins? Did he self, to the right hand of the suffer, as a guilty person ?The throne of God, there to reign imputation of our sins did not for ever King of saints ; and that, render him in any degree culpaby bearing our sins, and suffering ble or blameable. It is impossideath, he would abolish sin and ble, that he should be to blame death in his redeemed ; and that, for our faults, which he did not in sceing the fruits of the travail commit, and to which he was not of his soul he would be satisfied, accessary. But our penal debt and rejoice forever.

was really transferred to him, There is indeed an astonishing and he was really bound as our display of the grace, and conde. Sponsor, to make satisfaction to scension of Christ, in his bearing the law and justice of God. the guilt and punishment of our It is further objected, “if sins in our stead. But that this Christ has borne the guilt and amazing transaction would in- punishment of our sins, and satply any thing unjust never has isfied the requirement of the law been proved. Paul says that God in our stead, then the imputaset forth Christ to be a propitia- tion of his satisfaction to the retion, or, to declare his righteous, deemed, their acquittance from rhess in the forgiveness of sins, guilt, and justification, would be that he might be just in justifying but an act of justice, and not of the ungodly.

grace. For it is but just, that To reconcile the sufferings of the debtor be free from the obliChrist with the justice of God, gation, which his sponsor has satit is not enough to say that they isfied for him. were voluntary.

His sufferings The consideration of this obwere penal. He died for our sins, jection would carry us something He was willing that our sins, our beyond the subject of our prespenal debt, should be laid upon ent discussion. But, as the dochim as our Sponsor; and the su- trine of our justification through preme Judge approved and rati, the redemption of Christ is of fied the substitution. Christ was great importance, and has the willing to take the burden of our closest connexion with the docguilt on himself, and God laid "trine of the atonement, I will this burden upon him. As there state my thoughts upon it briefly, was no sin in hiin, it was the so far as seems needful for an. guilt, which he took on himself, swering this objection. which rendered him liable to the The scriptures teach that both curse. The crime was ours ; the grace and justice of God are the punishment Christ took on exercised and displayed in the himself. This, I think, is the justification of a sinner. Grace only way in which the suffer. reigns shrough righteousness,

« PreviousContinue »