« PreviousContinue »
dignity and excellence, it follows that sin, which required such a sacrifice, was of infinite guilt.
Admit the divinity of Christ and the consequent value of the atonement; and God's law appears perfectly honorable. If the sacrifice be commensurate with the guilt of sin, the divine law suffers no diminution of its requirements, or of its validity. It exhibits proof that it requires perfect satisfaction for every violation, or that, which will equally preserve its authority and efficacy. It exhibits proof that not one jot or tittle of its requirements is abated; and that while mercy is exercised, justice is satisfied. If the sacrifice for sin be made by the Son of God in conjunction with the Son of man, the divine law appears to be as fully honored and magnified, and God ex: presses as great abhorrence of sin, as if the threatened penalty were inflicted upon transgressors.
But if the Son of God be merely a created being, there appears to be less condescension on the part of divinity. There appears to be less value in the atonement. Sin
appears with less malignity; and the divine law appears with great abatement of its requirements. If Jesus Christ was merely human, it was no condescension in Deity that he came into the world, labored and suffered as he did; and it was no greater condescension and humiliation in himself than
many others have endured. Thousands have appeared in the form of servants; and have innocently suffered the tortures and ignominy of execution as malefactors. If the Son of God was the highest of all created intelligences, his coming into the world in the form of a servant, and suffering the disgrace and tortures of the cross would be no humiliation on the part of Deity; and his own humiliation appears infinitely less than if he were divine.
If the Son of God be only a created being, whether human, or human and superangelic, he does not appear to be capable of making a propitiation for the sips of the world. It is hard to conceive that
creature, however exalted, can perform more than his own duty; or that he should have a surplus of righteousness to appropriate for the benefit of others. If one should volunteer his services for the assistance of another, he would be either under obligation, or not under obligation to do it. If he were under obligation to tender the kind offices, he would do only what was his own duty. If he were not under obligation to offer bis kindness, he would not do bis own duty while he communicated assistance to others. Of course, there would be an interval, in which he was free from discharging his own personal obligations; and could perform duty in behalf of others. But not to insist on the inconsistency of such a method; the assistance, which one created being can bestow upon another, is limited in its very nature. Suppose one man dies for another. The sufferings of the former are only eqcivalent to the life of the latter. Suppose one should offer his life for the preservation of the lives of several of his equal fellow beings, the offering would be unequal to the object to be accomplished. If he should offer his life to save one soul from everfasting death, the sacrifice would be entirely inadequate for the purpose. Should he offer his life for the salvation of the whole human race from endless destruction, what numbers could give the disproportion between the sacrifice and the object to be obtained! A sacrifice made by any created being bears no comparison in its value with the sacrifice made by Divinity in conjunction with humanity.
If the atonement be of limited value and efficacy, sin appears to be of finite guilt. There is a just proportion, an exact correspondence between the virtue of the sacrifice and the malignity of sin, which is expiated by it. As much as any system reduces the excellence of the victim and the consequent value of his sacrifice, just so much it reduces the guilt and ill desert of sin. If á finite being can make atonement for sin, it follows that sin is but a finite evil.
The honor and force of the divine law is in
proportion to the guilt of transgression. A transgression of civil law, viewed only in relation to this law, is a finite evil. It is committed by a finite being against a limited authority; and the transgressor can make satisfaction or expiation for his crimes. He can satisfy the demands of the law which he has violated. The limitations of the guilt of his offences denote the limitations of the law he had transgressed, and of the authority, which he had offended.
If transgression of the divine law contain but finite guilt, the law violated, and the Lawgiver must, of course, have those limitations, which appear to be inconsistent with the perfect authority of Jehovah. As much as the evil of sin is diminished, so much the law of God is shorn of its divine excellence, and becomes like another law. If sin be but a finite evil, the divine law cannot justly inflict, or threaten an infinite punishment. A viction of limited capacity could make an atonement; and if atonement were not made, a transgressor might make expiation for his own sins; and then claim exemption from further punishment. Deny the divinity of Christ, and the covenant of redemption appears less important; the atonement appears to lose much, if not all, of its virtue; sin appears to be divested of inueh of its criminality; the divine law appears to be weakened; and the whole method of salvation appears to suffer a great diminution of its divine excellences.
The doctrine of Christ's divinity proves that the love of God for the human race was very great
. This is argued from the greatness of the Father's love for the Son. The Father testified of him in the most affectionate manner: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” “The Father loveth the Son; and hath given all things into his hand.” But notwithstanding the intimate union subsisting between the Father and the Son, so that the latter is said to be iq the bosom of the former; notwithstanding the great, ness of the Father's love for his only begotten and
dearly beloved Son, yet he sent him into the world that he might redeem it. He spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all. The greatness of God's love for the world is inferred from his sending his Son into the world to make a propitiation for sin. If his Son were divine; if he were in union with him in all his counsels, and in all his operations, then it was a great thing, a great expression of love for the human race, to send this partner of his throne into the world in the form of a servant; to expose him to the greatest indignity, and subject him to the deepest humiliation. Such sacrifice on the part of Deity expresses, in the strongest manner, his love for fallen humanity. The scriptures represent the love of God toward the human race to be very great. "God commendeth his love toward us," Rom. 5:8. “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed
upon us, that we should be called the sons of God," 1 John 3:1. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins,” 1 John 4:10. “Greater love hath no man than this, that
a man lay down his life for his friends," John 15:13. “For when we were yet without strength, in due time, Christ died for the ungodly," Rom. 5:6.
If the Son of God was merely human, divine love for the human race does not appear extraordinarily great in offering him in sacrifice for their salvation. Any sovereign, who had a sense of the interest of his kingdom, would, if occasion required, sacrifice one of his subjects, if his death would procure the preservation and highest interest of the rest. By this act he would manifest no more love for his kingdom than the value he set upon the subject he offered in their behalf. But if, instead of giving up one of his common subjects for the preservation of the rest, he should make an offering of his only son, the sole heir of all his substance and authority, his love for his kingdom would appear incomparably greater. In like manner, if the Son, whom God sent into the world
and offered in sacrifice upon the cross, were only human, his love for the world would not be manifested in a very high degree. It would appear only in exact proportion to the value he set upon the victim. If the Son, who was sent into the world were a superangelic being, God's love for mankind in sending him into the world to make a sacrifice for sin, would appear greater, than if he were merely human. But upon this hypothesis his manifested love for the world would not answer to that high description, which is given of it in the sacred scriptures. It would appear unspeakably less, than it would appear by admitting that the Son, who made a sacrifice for sin, was not only the "second man,” but “the Lord from heaven;" that he was not only in the "form of a servant,” but that he was “the Lord of glory.”. Admit the divinity of Christ, and the love of God manifested toward the human race appears worthy of him; it appears adapted to their necessities; and correspondent to the language of scripture, which exhibits it.
The doctrine of Christ's divinity appears to be the foundation of justification by faith in his name. If he be divine, he is mighty to save. “He is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him. Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” The absolute sufficiency of Jesus Christ to save, appears to be expressed by these passages of scripture. If he
possess this absolute sufficiency, he is able to make an expiation for sin. He is able to be the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. If he possess this ability, people may with safety have faith in his name. They may with consistency not only believe the doctrines, which he taught; but they may