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great his capacity, or his benevolence might be, bis own obligations to his Creator, should be proportionate to his degrees of ability. It would be required of him, on his own account, according to what he had. Suppose he should volunteer his services in behalf of this sinful world; that he should suffer in their stead. If he were under obligation to his Creator to make this sacrifice, he would perform only his own duty; he would acquire no surplus of merit, which he could transfer to the necessitous. If he were not under obligation to make this sacrifice, there is no evidence that he would have a right to do it; and if he had, there is no evidence that the divine Sovereign would accept it in behalf of his rebellious subjects. There is no evidence that it would be equivalent, in the sight of the law, to the penalty, which it had threatened.
If God design to shew mercy by forbearing to inflict the threatened penalty on transgressors, it appears to be necessary that something should be done or suffered, which would as fully support the divine character, and render the divine law as efficacious, as if it had its natural course, and subjected every offender to its curse. Were any thing less than this substituted, God's abhorrence of sin would appear to bę diminished; transgression would be encouraged; and the law, of course, would cease to produce its full and designed effect. How then can rebellious subjects be forgiven, and divine authority be supported? We are wholly indebted to divine revelation for an answer to this question. We are taught by the sacred scriptures that there is in the divine Nature a plurality, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; that they are manifested in the work of redemption; that in respect to office the Father holds authority, and the Son and Holy Spirit are subordinate; that this method is adopted by consent, and without infringement upon the divine prerogatives of either. In the covenant of redemption it was stipulated that the Son should have the heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of
the earth for his possession; that he should see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied; and that he should be King in Zion. The Son, in view of what he had to do, and of what he was to receive, said, “Lo, I come, to do thy will, O God.”
Ever since the apostasy, the Son has been the medium of intercourse between the Father and the human race; and between the human race and the Father. He has ever been the medium, through which every blessing has been conferred upon this fallen world. When the fulness of the time (the time marked out by prophecy) was come, the Son of God laid aside, concealed, or einptied himself of that glory, which he had with the Father, was born of a woman; was made flesh, and took upon him the form a servant. He was rich, as Creator and Proprietor of the world; he was rich in respect to his divine glory in heaven; but for the sake of a sinful world he became poor; he assumed a condition of poverty, not having where to lay his head; he subjected himself to a state of humiliation. From this scriptural representation we see what the Son of God did on the part of Divinity for the support of the divine law, while pardon was offered to sinners on merciful conditions. In this state of abasement the divine Son was exposed to the greatest indignity; and he actually received the grossest insults, and the most contemptuous treatment during his public ministry on earth. In the exercise of divine benevolence he came into the world to seek and to save that which was lost. He came to his own, the people, who had been the objects of his special care, support, and direction. He addressed them in the most affectionate language. He offered them the greatest of blessings, salvation, on condition of faith in his name. He appealed to his works, his divine works, to prove his benevolent designs, that he was the Son of God; and that he was able to bestow what he had offered. But they returned him ingratitude and abuse. They not only refused the offers of his mercy; but they were inveterate
against him. In his works of love they accused him of confederacy with Beelzebub. When it was proposed to them whether they would give preference to him, or to a vile malefactor, they with one consent gave
their voice in favor of the latter. All this ignominy and abasement were endured by the divine Son.
In union with him was the Son of man, whose nativity was miraculous; whose life was holy, harmless, undefiled; who received the Spirit without measure, and was anointed with the Holy Ghost, and with power. So intimate was the union of the Son of God with the man, Christ Jesus, that the sufferings of the latter upon
the cross were a sacrifice of vastly more importance than the sufferings of any other man. The spotless purity of his nature, the perfection of his character, the extraordinary unction of the Holy Spirit, which he received, and his union with the Son of God, rendered him peculiarly dear to the Father. Here we have at one view the constituent parts of the atonement, viz. the humiliation of the Son of God, and the sufferings of the Son of man. These parts ought to be viewed so far distinctly, that their different values may appear; and they ought to be viewed so far unitedly, as they are the acts, or sufferings of one and the same Mediator. If the Son of God humbled himself by union with the Son of man, the Son of man was exalted by the same union; and there arose a reciprocal influence from this mysterious connexion. We must cautiously avoid any hypothesis, or language, which seems to blend or confound the two natures of Jesus Christ; which seems to attribute a suffering of painful sensations to his divinity, or a communication of divine properties to his humanity. When it is represented that the Word was made flesh, that the second Adam was the Lord from heaven, that he, who expired upon the cross was the Lord of glory
, that the Son of man would ascend up where he was before, we are not to understand that divinity was
converted into humanity, or that humanity was converted into divinity; or that either nature sustained the least degree of change. But this manner of expression conveys the idea of the intimate connexion of his two natures; and during his incarnate state, the menţion of one involves the other, and by implication, the same things may be predicated of each. The Scriptures use the same mode of expression, in relation to the material and immaterial part of man. They predicate of his soul what belongs to his body, and they predicate of his body what belongs to his soul. (See Ez. 18:20. Matt. 16:17.)
Whatever degree of dignity and capacity was added to the Son of man, by the peculiar union of the Son of God, he was still human and limited in all his powers. The sufferings, which he endured on the cross, were human sufferings; and, by their very nature, were limited in degree. But if we add to this, the abasement of the divine Son, which is unspeakably more important, there will appear to be no deficiency in the extent or efficacy of the atonement.
If these are the constituent parts, or the matter of the atonement, there is no ground for the objection, that it was made wholly by the man Christ Jesus, and that it is limited in its nature and in its value. Let it be kept in view that the object of the atonement is to support divine authority, and express divine abhorrence of sin as fully as if the law had its natural course, and mankind suffered its penal consequences. When it is brought into the estimate that the Son of God was divine; that he was infinitely dear to the Father; that in obedience to his will he volutarily sustained the deepest degree of humiliation; and that the Son of man, who was in the nearest and most endearing connexion with himself, suffered death of the most ignaminious and painful kind, it appears that the law was magnified and made honorable, while forgiveness of sin was offered to transgressors on merciful conditions. It appears that this substitution has expressed as great
regard for the law, and as great disapprobation of sin, as if the whole race of man had remained under its curse, without any provision for their deliverance.
Why might not the Deity pardon transgressors without a sacrifice, as well as pardon them on the ground of a sacrifice made principally by himself? It is not our province to assign reasons for all the dealings of the Most High; nor for the peculiar method, which he has adopted in the scheme of redemption. But it must be considered that, in the economy of grace, the Father holds authority; and the Son is subordinate
, and subjected to his control; and that this is the ground of the covenant, which makes provision for the salvation of man. Of course, the Son might do that in behalf of the human race, which might be acceptable to the Father, wbile he made them offers of mercy. If there were simple unity in the divine Nature, it appears that this method, the method of sacrifice, would be impracticable.
Should God grant pardon, in a single instance, without an atonement, he might, on the same principle
, forgive others to any extent; and mankind would take encouragement to violate the divine law with hope of impunity. But this consequence does not follow from the atonement, as it is brought to our view in the Gospel. Though there is a propitiation made sufficient for the sins of the whole world, yet no one will receive pardon except on the condition of repentance and reformation. The wicked can find no encouragement on this ground, to continue in sin; for while they retain their habits of iniquity, they are as fully under the penal threatenings of the law as if no sacrifice had been made; and they have no interest in pardoning mercy, nor can they have, while they persevere in transgression. There is as much necessity of holiness of heart and life, under the provisions of the Gospel, as if righteousness and justification were by the law. The design and work of Jesus were not only to save people from the penalty due to their sins, but to save