Page images

the Scripture, under a pretence of subtilty in them that make it, will evidently appear in our ensuing discourse.

The apostle tells us, 1 Pet. ii. 24. that in his own self he bare our sins in his own body on the tree;' and chap. iii. 18. that he suffered for sin, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us unto God.' But this seems somewhat strange unto reason. Where is the justice, where is the equity, that the just should suffer for the unjust? Where is divine righteousness herein? For it was an act of God, the Lord hath laid on him the iniquities of us all;' Isa. liii. 6. The equity hereof, with the grounds of it, must be here a little inquired into.

[ocr errors]

First of all, it is certain, that all the elect, the whole church of God, fell in Adam, under the curse due to the transgression of the law. It is so also, that in this curse, death both temporal and eternal was contained. This curse none could undergo and be saved. Nor was it consistent with the righteousness, or holiness, or truth of God, that sin should go unpunished. Wherefore there was a necessity, upon a supposition of God's decree to save his church, of a translation of punishment; namely, from them who had deserved it, and could not bear it, unto one who had not deserved it, but could bear it.

A supposition of this translation of punishment by divine dispensation, is the foundation of Christian religion, yea, of all supernatural revelation contained in the Scripture. This was first intimated in the first promise; and afterward explained and confirmed in all the institutions of the Old Testament. For although in the sacrifices of the law, there was a revival of the greatest and most fundamental principle of the law of nature, namely, that God is to be worshipped with our best; yet the principal end and use of them, was to represent this translation of punishment from the offender unto another, who was to be a sacrifice in his stead.

The reasons of the equity hereof, and the unspeakable glory of Christ herein, is what we now inquire into. And I shall reduce what ought to be spoken hereunto, to the ensuing heads.

1. It is not contrary unto the nature of divine justice;

[blocks in formation]

it doth not interfere with the principles of natural light in man, that in sundry cases some persons should suffer punishment for the sins and offences of others.

I shall at present give this assertion no other confirmation, but only that God hath often done so, who will, who can do no iniquity.

So he affirms that he will do, Exod. xx. 5. Visiting the sins of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.' It is no exception of weight, that they also are sinners, continuing in their father's sins; for the worst of sinners must not be dealt unjustly withal: but they must be so if they are punished for their father's sins, and it be absolutely unlawful that any one should be punished for the sin of another.

So the church affirms; Our fathers have sinned, and are not; and we have borne their iniquities;' Lam. v. 11. And so it was; for in the Babylonish captivity God punished the sins of their forefathers, especially those committed in the days of Manasses; 2 Kings xxiii. 26, 27. As afterward in the final destruction of that church and nation, God punished in them the guilt of all bloody persecutions from the beginning of the world; Luke xi. 50, 51.

So Canaan was cursed for the sin of his father; Gen. ix. 25. Saul's seven sons were put to death for their father's bloody cruelty; 2 Sam. xxi. 8. 14. For the sin of David, seventy thousand of the people were destroyed by an angel, concerning whom he said, 'It is I that have sinned and done evil, these sheep what have they done?' 2 Sam. xxiv. 15. 17. See also 1 Kings xxi. 29. So was it with all the children or infants that perished in the flood, or in the conflagration of Sodom and Gomorrah. And other instances of the like nature may be assigned.

It is therefore evident, that there is no inconsistency with the nature of divine justice, nor the rules of reason among men, that in sundry cases the sins of some may be punished on others.

2. It is to be observed that this administration of justice is not promiscuous, that any whatever may be punished for the sins of any others. There is always a special cause and reason of it; and this is a peculiar conjunction between them

who sin, and those who are punished for their sins. And two things belong unto this conjunction. 1. Especial relation. 2. Especial mutual interest.

1. There is an especial relation required unto this translation of punishment. Such as that between parents and children, as in most of the instances before given; or between a king and subjects, as in the case of David. Hereby the persons sinning, and those suffering, are constituted one body, wherein if one member offend, another may justly suffer the back may answer for what the hand takes away.

2. It consists in mutual interest. Those whose sins are punished in others, have such an interest in them, as that their being so, is a punishment unto themselves. Therefore are such sinners threatened with the punishment and evils that shall befall their posterity or children for their sakes, which is highly penal unto themselves; Numb. xiv. 33. Your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms.' The punishment due to their sins is in part transferred unto their children, and therein did the sting of their own punishment also consist.

[ocr errors]

3. There is a greater, a more intimate conjunction, a nearer relation, a higher mutual interest between Christ and the church, than ever was or can be between any other persons or relations in the world, whereon it became just and equal in the sight of God, that he should suffer for us, and that what he did and suffered should be imputed unto us, which is farther to be cleared.

There neither is nor can be, any more than a threefold conjunction between divers distinct persons. The first is natural, the second is moral, whereunto I refer that which is spiritual or mystical; and the third federal, by virtue of mutual compact. In all these ways is Christ in conjunction with his church, and in every one of them, in a way singular and peculiar.

1. The first conjunction of distinct persons is natural. God hath made all mankind' of one blood;' Acts xvii. 26. Whereby there is a cognation and alliance between them all. Hence every man is every man's brother or neighbour, unto whom loving-kindness is to be shewed; Luke x. 36. - 2 G 2.


And this conjunction was between Christ and the church; as the apostle declares, Heb. ii. 14, 15. Forasmuch as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.' Hence both he that sanctifieth, and they who are sanctified are all of one;' ver. 11. His infinite condescension in coming into this communion and conjunction of nature with us, was before declared: but it is not common, like that between all other men, partakers of the same nature. There are two things wherein it

was peculiar and eminent.

1. This conjunction between him and the church, did not arise from a necessity of nature, but from a voluntary act of his will. The conjunction that is between all others is necessary. Every man is every man's brother, whether he will or no, by being a man. Natural generation communicating to every one his subsistence in the same nature, prevents all acts of their own will and choice. With the Lord Christ it was otherwise, as the text affirms; for such reasons as are there expressed, he did by an act of his own will partake of flesh and blood, or came into this conjunction with us. He did it of his own choice, because the children did partake of the same. He would be what the children were. Wherefore, the conjunction of Christ in human nature with the church, is ineffably distinct from that common conjunction which is amongst all others in the same nature. And therefore, although it should not be meet amongst mere men, that one should act and suffer in the stead of others, because they are all thus related to one another as it were whether they will or no; yet this could not reach the Lord Christ, who in a strange and wonderful manner came into this conjunction by a mere act of his own.

2. He came into it on this design, and for this only end, namely, that in our nature taken to be his own, he might do and suffer what was to be done and suffered for the church; so it is added in the text; That by death he might destroy him who had the power of death; and deliver them who through fear of death were subject to bondage.' This was the only

[ocr errors]

end of his conjunction in nature with the church; and this puts the case between him and it, at a vast distance from what is or may be between other men.

It is a foolish thing to argue, that because a mere participation of the same nature among men, is not sufficient to warrant the righteousness of punishing one for another; that, therefore, the conjunction in the same nature betwixt Christ and the church, is not a sufficient and just foundation of his suffering for us, and in our stead; for by an act of his own will and choice, he did partake of our nature, and that for this very end, that therein he might suffer for us, as the Holy Ghost expressly declares. Amongst others there neither is nor can be any thing of this nature, and so no objection from what is equal or unequal amongst them, can arise against what is equal between Christ and the church. And herein is he glorious and precious unto them that believe, as we shall see immediately.

[ocr errors]

2. There is a mystical conjunction between Christ and the church, which answers all the most strict, real, or moral unions or conjunctions between other persons or things. Such is the conjunction between the head of a body and its members, or the tree of the vine and its branches, which are real; or between a husband and wife, which is moral and real also. That there is such a conjunction between Christ and his church, the Scripture plentifully declares, as also that it is the foundation of the equity of his suffering in its stead. So speaks the apostle, Eph. v. 25-32. Husbands love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church,' that is, his wife, the bride, the lamb's wife, and gave himself for it,' &c. Being the head and husband of the church, which was to be sanctified and saved, and could be so no otherwise but by his blood and sufferings, he was both meet so to suffer, and it was righteous also that what he did and suffered should be imputed unto them for whom he both did it, and suffered. Let the adversaries of the glory of Christ assign any one instance of such a conjunction, union, and relation between any amongst mankind, as is between Christ and the church, and they may give some countenance unto their cavils against his obedience and sufferings in our stead, with the imputation of what he did and suffered unto us. But the glory of Christ is singular herein, and as such it appears unto them

« PreviousContinue »