« PreviousContinue »
written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me." Thus it was necessary that Christ should pay perfect obedience to all that God enjoined upon him as man, and as mediator, in order to secure the Divine approbation, and to manifest to the world that he was the true Messiah.
2. Christ's obedience was no more adapted than designed to make atonement. Who can suppose, that his obeying his parents, or his mechanical labor, or his preaching, or his working miracles, had the least tendency to atone for the sins of the world? Though his obedience to the moral, ceremonial, and mediatorial law, was absolutely perfect, yet no part of his obedience, nor the whole taken together, was in the least degree adapted to make atonement. We might as well suppose, that his wearing a seamless coat, or his washing his disciples' feet, could make atonement, as that any other part, or the whole of his perfect obedience, could make atonement. It has been the common opinion of all nations, that an atonement for sin must be made by some other method, than that of obedience. Christ's perfect obedience had, therefore, no tendency to make the atonement; but only to prepare and qualify him to make it; just as the perfect, unblemished form and figure of the paschal lamb, qualified that to make a ceremonial atonement. Accordingly, the apostle represents the spotless character of Christ as necessary to qualify him to perform the priest's office, which was to make atonement, by offering sacrifices. such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners; who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice first for his own sins, and then for the people's; for this he did once, when he offered up himself.” Here the apostle plainly intimates that Christ did not make atonement by his obedience, or his holy life; but by making his soul an offering for sin, or by the single act of his death. This leads me to show,
III. That Christ did make complete atonement for sin, by his blood. The atonement of Christ is sometimes called a price, a ransom, a redemption; or Christ is said to purchase, to ransom, or to redeem mankind. But by whatever name the atonement is called, it is expressly said to be made by blood, or by death, or by sufferings, in distinction from obedience. The apostle calls it "redemption," and ascribes it to the blood of Christ, in the text. He says to Christians, Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.'
And in the second verse of the context, he represents the atonement as made by the sprinkling of the blood
of Jesus Christ. Paul represents the atonement as made by the blood, the death, and the sufferings of Christ on the cross. He says to believers, “ Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation, through faith in his blood." Again, he says, “ But God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him." If we now turn to the epistle to the Hebrews, we shall find that the apostle has most clearly determined, that it was the blood or death of Christ, that made the atonement. He there says, “ Without shedding of blood is no remission.” That is, nothing but shedding of blood can make atonement, or lay a foundation for pardon or remission of sin. He refers to Leviticus xvii. 11, where we read, “The life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls ; for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul." In this connection, the apostle repeatedly asserts, that it was by offering up himself once, that he made atonement for sin. ( But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands-neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood, he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us." Again, he says, “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with handsbut into heaven itself-Nor yet that he should offer himself often. For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world ;.but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” In all these passages, the apostle represents Christ as making atonement agreeably to the types under tho Old Testament, which was by shedding of blood. And he plainly and repeatedly asserts, that Christ made atonement by one act, by one sacrifice, by one instance of suffering, by one death, by once shedding his blood. This confines his atonement to his blood, in distinction from his life of perfect obedience. And it is further to be observed, that the apostle in this epistle to the Hebrews, professes to explain both the types and predictions of Christ's atonement in the Old Testament. Daniel predicted, “ That Messiah should be cut off, but not for himself.” Isaiah predicted, that Christ should pour out his soul unto death, and make his soul an offering for sin. Caiphas predicted, that it was “expedient that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.” It was his idea of atonement, that it could be made only by death.
Now, that we have given the true sense of the passages cited, will appear, if we consider the necessity of an atonement, in order to God's consistently pardoning and saving sinners. The necessity of atonement was founded in the vindictive justice of God.' It became God to manifest his perfect hatred of sin, and his disposition to punish it. He could not display mercy at the expense of justice. He must appear to be just, as well as merciful, in forgiving those who deserved to be punished. But how could this be done? God only knew how. He knew, that by the incarnation of the Second Person in the Godhead, he could be put in a situation to die for sinners, and by his death declare the righteousness of God, that he might be just, and the justifier of believing, penitent, returning sin
Christ accordingly came into the world to give his “ life a ransom for many"--to die "the just for the unjust, that he might bring them to God.” Accordingly, as the apostle says in the text, he redeemed them by his precious blood. His blood made a complete atonement for sin, or rendered it consistent for a holy and just God to forgive and save perishing and illdeserving sinners.
HEADS OF IMPROVEMENT.
1. We hence see why Christ instituted the sacrament as a memorial of his death alone. He did do this. “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and broke it, and it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.". Now, if it was the death of Christ alone, that made atonement, then this ought to be remembered and celebrated in a peculiar manner. ferings. The truth is, his obedience only prepared him to make atonement-his blood made it and atonement did neither satisfy nor merit—it only rendered it consistent for God to show mercy.
2. If it was not the obedience, but the blood of Christ, that made atonement for sin, then nothing Christ did, or said, or suffered from his birth to the day of his death, or his last sufferings, was of a propitiatory, satisfactory, or atoning nature. Many divines have considered the whole life of Christ, from his birth to his death, as constituting the two parts of his atonement-or his active and passive obedience-his satisfaction to divine justice, and his meriting salvation for believers. But there appears no ground in scripture for the distinction between the satisfaction of Christ and the merits of Christ. It was impossible that he should merit anything from God, either as man or as mediator either by his obedience, or by his suf
3. If Christ did not make atonement by his obedience, but by his blood, then we may justly conclude, that what the scripture calls the righteousness of Christ, means the same as his suffering death-and nothing else.
4. If Christ made atonement by his blood, and not by his obedience, then that for which he was rewarded, was not that for which sinners are pardoned. They are pardoned for his death—but he was rewarded for his life, or his obedience, even unto death. This was acceptable to God—but was not the atonement.
5. If Christ made atonement by his blood, and not by his obedience, then his atonement has not dissolved or weakened the obligation of Christians to pay perfect obedience to the divine law. His obedience had no merits to procure their salvation.
6. If Christ has redeemed saints by his precious blood, then they are under great obligations to love him—to obey him—and to promote his cause.
7. If Christ has made complete atonement for the sins of the world, by his precious blood, then there is nothing to
prevent sinners being saved, only their refusing to trust in Christ's blood for pardon and acceptance. This refusal must prevent their salvation—God cannot pardon and save them upon any other ground.
Let all inquire whether they have built their hopes upon the only suure foundation—the blood of Christ.
REFLECTIONS UPON THE DEATH OF CHRIST.
"And all the people that came together to that sight, beholding the things
which were done, smote their breasts and returned."-Luke, xxiii. 48.
ACTIONS speak louder than words, especially when they flow from feelings too great for words to express. The spectators of the crucifixion of Christ, from whatever motives they attended, returned in slow and solemn step, smiting their breasts, in token of sensations too keen and pungent to be uttered. This was wholly owing to the affecting nature of the scene which they had been beholding. They probably went to gratify their eyes; but their eyes affected their hearts, and they returned with views and feelings which no other scene ever excited, and which no language could describe. Their minds were employed in deep and solemn reflections upon what they had seen. The meek and amiable appearance of Christ, his prayer for his enemies, his mournful address to his father, and his expiring groans, absorbed their whole attention, and fixed all the powers of their minds in deep and solemn meditation upon an event, which was the most interesting and astonishing that had ever taken place in any part of the universe.
They could not speak; they could only smite their heaving, laboring, and wounded breasts. From this we must conclude,
That the affecting scene of Christ's death must lead the mind into a train of very serious and important reflections.
The death of Christ was the most astonishing death that ever was seen in this dying world, where so many millions of the human race have breathed out their last.
There was a variety of circumstances attending the death of the Lord of glory, which rendered it extremely affecting. There was a vast concourse of people collected together on the solemn occasion. The great city of Jerusalem was crowded with foreigners out