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cess is impossible in the nature of things. One person may suffer for another, but he can never be a sinner for another. It is sometimes replied, however, in view of such a subject, that "with God all things are possible." This is true of all things that do not imply a contradiction in their own nature. The idea of transferring sin is not more repugnant to reason than it is to scripture. Christ is said to die, the "just for the unjust." But if there had been a mutual transfer of moral character, he could be no longer just, nor they unjust; Christ is said also to be "exalted to give repentance and forgiveness of sins." If there is a transfer of our sins to Christ, we can be subjects neither of repentance nor forgiveness. We could lay claim to an exemption from punishment from the purity of our characters.
It is important to expose the fallacy of this principle, as some have inferred from it the erroneous doctrine of universal salvation. And if the premises are true, viz. (that the sins of mankind are transferred to Christ, and his righteousness transferred to them) I see not why the consequence will not follow for it is said, he tasted death for every man."
If the sins of mankind are transferred to the Mediator, they are no longer their own. They are exempted from desert of punishment in the most literal and unqualified sense, and justice has no farther claim upon them. But this is not the scriptural idea of the atonement by Christ. It is true, it is said, "He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we Vol. III. No. 11. Рер
might be made the righteousness of God in him." But here the
word sin is used for a sin-offering; as it is said in another place, "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us;" where his being made a curse is explained to mean his ignominious death. "Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree."†
In the Levitical law, the priest is commanded to "bring a young bullock, without blemish, unto the Lord, for a sin-offering,"‡ (Heb. for a sin.) Now, as this bullock without blemish was a type of Christ, the great sacrifice, it was very natural for Paul, while treating of the antitype, to make use of a similar term, by which we ought to understand, as in the former case, a sin-offering. With this explanation, it perfectly accords with what the same apostle says to the Hebrews, "Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many."§ And to the Romans, "Who was delivered for our offences."¶
If, then, the atonement is something more than the mere sinless example of Christ, or his perfect obedience to the divine law, and something less than a mutual transfer of character between Christ and a sinful world, we shall not be likely to mistake its nature. Christ, in opening the way to pardon and justification, was substituted in the room of sinners. He voluntarily took their place. He assumed their condition, but not their character. He partook of the cup of afflic
tion, but not of iniquity. He experienced the displays of wrath due to sin, but at the same time was "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners.'
This idea of the atonement makes the scriptures plain. "Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed. He made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him, he hath put him to grief; when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand."+
Consider Christ as a vicarious sacrifice, or substituted in the room of sinners, and all the evils that came upon him are a manifestation of the wrath of God against sin. And this wrath is manifested in a more striking manner, than it could be by Scourging all mankind out of existence. The divine wrath against sin appeared in the universal deluge, in the conflagration upon the plains of Sodom, and in the frequent plagues in the camp of the murmuring Israelites; but it never shone in a light so awful and convincing, as in the death of Christ, when the prophecy was fulfilled, "Awake, O sword, against my
*Heb. vii. 26. † Isai. liii. 4, 5, 9, 10.
shepherd, and against the man that is MY FELLOW, saith the Lord of Hosts."
God in this way having testified his utter abhorrence against sin, and Christ having voluntariIy, in his own person, on our account, experienced the wages of it, which is death, the way is open, without any reflection upon the divine justice, or any ground of suspicion of the divine character, as conniving at sin, or looking upon it with less detestation than his tremendous threatenings had indicated, for pardon and justification to be proclaimed to all who would thenceforward forsake sin and accept of the Saviour; who would believe in his divine mission and 'character, imbibe his heavenly temper, copy his example, and "adorn his doctrine in all things." said, "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." God can "be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus." The Son of man is "lifted up, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life." "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth." OMICRON
Hence, it is
leave him under an ecclesiastical censure?
Every ordaining council must judge for themselves, whether it be their duty to ordain such pastor elect, or to forbear. If they find him essentially erroneous, they ought to forbear. But in this case they leave him in the same state, in which they found him, except so far as their result naturally excites suspicions in the minds of others. If they are called merely to ordain, they cannot censure him. For no man is to be tried and condemned as a heretic, unless there be a complaint exhibited, expressly stating the heresies which he avows; and unless he be previously served with a copy of said complaint, that he may have reasonable time to prepare for his defence; and unless the council to try him be explicitly called for the purpose; and he have a voice in their nomination.
If he is not laid under censure by the refusal of ordination, then the church may continue their call, and may convene another council; and this second council will have the same right, as the former had, to judge for themselves, whether it be their duty to ordain or forbear. If they ordain him, he is to be considered and treated, in all respects, as a minister in good standing, until a judiciary council, vested with authority to try him on the complaint, shall convict and condemn him. As the first council, by refusing to or dain the candidate, have left him under suspicion, but not under censure, in which equivocal state it is improper that he should remain, therefore a second
council ought to be called, before whom his opponents may bring their complaint, if they please; and in such expectation he is entitled to a voice in the nomination of this council. The members, at least some of the members of this council, ought to be called from the vicinity in which he has been previously conversant, as a theological student or preaching candidate, because to them his manners, abilities and sentiments may be best known. If in civil society a man accused of any crime has a right to be tried by good and lawful men of the vicinage, because, as civilians tell us, to them his past manner of life is better known than to strangers; for the same reason a candidate for the ministry, when called to a trial, has a right to the like privilege: And his vicinage may not be in the place, where he is invited to settle, but in the place where he has formerly lived and been educated. This may be at a distance from the place of his proposed settlement. Hence ordaining and judiciary councils are usually called, in part, from a distance.
May not a minor part of the council, if they are satisfied with the candidate, proceed to ordain him, although the major part refuse to act in the solemnity?
As the whole council is called by the church to transact this business, and to approve and sanction the proposed relation between them and their pastor elect, the minor part cannot act in opposition to the major part, without a new call from the church. When the council have declared their result, their
existence, as a council, ceases. The church may then request certain members of the late council, or others, to ordain their pastor. These, thus authorized, may form themselves into a new council, and proceed to ordain, or not, as wisdom and duty shall direct.
If a number of the brethren of the church, thinking the pastor heretical, are dissatisfied with his ordination, ought they to withdraw from his ministry and from the communion of the church, and attend on ordinances elsewhere?
They are not to withdraw immediately, but to remain in their connexion a reasonable time, until measures can be taken to investigate and rectify what they suppose to be amiss. They are to seek not merely their own profit, but the profit of many. If the man ordained is unfit to be their minister, he is no less unfit to be a minister elsewhere. If they think his ministry will be dangerous to them, they must think it will be more dangerous to their less discerning brethren; and therefore they are bound to take regular and orderly measures for his correction or deposition.
All the seven churches in Asia, except Philadelphia, were, in John's time, reprehensible for many corruptions both in manners and doctrines. Several of them had embraced the doctrines of Balaam, of the Nicolaitans, and of Jezebel. And these doctrines were countenanced, or not opposed by the pastors. To them therefore Christ's reproofs are primarily and immediately
directed. But the purer members of these churches are not commanded to leave their ministers, cr their brethren, and join the church in Philadelphia; or to form themselves into separate churches in the places where they were; but on the contrary, to preserve their own purity in their present connexion, and by their example and influence to reform those, who were corrupt. Christ had but a few names in Sardis, which had not defiled their garments. These were not to retire, but to continue in their place, and strengthen the things, which remained.
What steps ought the dissat isfied brethren to take in the case now supposed! ?
When the church has deter mined to convene a second council for ordination, the opponents may state to the church in the form of a complaint all their ob jections and allegations against the pastor elect, and serve him with a copy of it, and may endeavour to sustain it in the presence of the council when convened. This is ordinarily the most proper and regular course. If, however, they think they have not been allowed a just share in choosing the council, and consequently cannot place sufficient confidence in them, they will probably decline to refer an ultimate decision of the matters in question to the judg ment of such council. But still there is an after remedy.
If the pastor be ordained, the opponents, as has been shewn, are not hastily to withdraw, but to attend on his ministry, and
commune with their brethren; judgment in the case now to be
for to withdraw, is to renounce and censure the minister and church without a previous trial; it is to adopt the disorganizing principles of separatists, and other enemies of ecclesiastical order. But if they are still dissatisfied with the doctrines preached, or with the omission of doctrines, which ought to be preached by their minister, they are bound in common prudence, and by the plain direction of Christ, to confer with him in private. If they obtain no satisfaction, they are to request him and the church to join with them in calling a council to try him on a complaint, which, or a copy of which, is now to be before him and the church; and this complaint must contain all matters of grievance and dissatisfaction that the controversy may be terminated.
The proposal for a mutual council should be made with a candid and pacific spirit, and with out any such restrictions and limitations, as would tend to clog and defeat it. The apostle's direction in matters of discipline, particularly in the trial of an elder is, that nothing be done with prejudice or partiality. Each party ought to have a voice in the nomination, and neither should insist on a nomination, which can be justly exceptionable to the other; for peace and truth should be the governing object with both. The apostle's caution, to do nothing by prejudice or partiality, plainly shows, that no man ought to be made a member of this council, who is under any known bias, or who, in a former council, or in any manner whatever, has given his
In our civil courts no man can be juror in a criminal prosecution, who is known to have declared his opinion against the person accused. In capital trials, the person to be tried may challenge peremptorily almost two whole juries, and remove as many more jurors as, in the judgment of the court, are objectionable characters; and after all there can be no conviction without unanimity in the jury. Surely then in a Christian court no man should sit as a judge, who has given an opinion in a council, or elsewhere, against the person to be tried. This would be a palpable contradiction to the apostolic rule, that nothing be done by prejudice (previous judgment) or by par tiality, (inclination to a person, or to either party.)*
When the mutual council is opened, the accuser will exhibit his complaint; the accused will make his plea; and the council will judge. The accused, under the direction of truth and conscience, has his option of three pleas. 1. He may plead that he has never avowed the heresies alleged. Then the accuser will produce his evidence, and the council will judge of its competence. Or, 2. He may concede the facts or avow the doctrines stated, and endeavour to justify them. It will then be incumbent on the complainant to prove that they are criminal heresies, and condemned as such in scripture; and the council will judge, whether they are such or not.
Or, he may confess, that