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the direction of affairs till order and happiness should be perfectly restored.
A proclamation addressed to the conspirators was now issued, stating what had been their conduct, what the conduct of the king, and what of the prince. Messengers also were appointed to carry it, with orders to read it publicly, and to expostulate with them individually, beseeching them to be reconciled to their offended sovereign, and to assure them that if they rejected this, there remained no more hope of mercy.
A spectator would suppose, that in mercy so freely offered, and so honourably communicated, every one would have acquiesced; and if reason had governed the offenders, it had been so: but many among them continued under the influence of disaffection, and disaffection gives a false colouring to every thing.
The time of the respite having proved longer than it was at first expected, some had begun to amuse themselves with idle speculations, flattering themselves that their fault was a mere trifle, and that it certainly would be passed over. Indeed the greater part of them had turned their attention to other things, concluding that the king was not in good earnest.
When the proclamation was read, many paid no manner of attention to it; some insinuated that the messengers were interested men, and that there might be no truth in what they said; and some even abused them as impostors. So, having delivered their message, they withdrew and the rebels finding themselves alone, such of them as paid any attention to the subject, expressed their minds as follows:
'My heart,' says one,' rises against every part of this proceeding. Why all this ado about a few words spoken one to another? Can such a message as this have proceeded from the king? What have we done so much against him, that so much should be made of it? No petition of ours, it seems, would avail any thing; and nothing that we could say or do could be regarded, unless present. ed in the name of a third person. Surely if we present a petition in our own names, in which we beg pardon, and promise not to repeat the offence, this might suffice. Even this is more than 1
can find in my heart to comply with; but every thing beyond it is unreasonable; and who can believe that the king can desire it?
• If a third person,' says another, must be concerned in the affair, what occasion is there for one so high in rank and dignity? To stand in need of such a mediator must stamp our characters with everlasting infamy. It is very unreasonable: who can believe it? If the king be just and good, as they say he is, how can be wish thus publicly to expose us?'
'I observe,' says a third, ' that the mediator is wholly on the king's side; and one, whom though he affects to pity us, we have, from the outset, considered as no less our enemy than the king himself. If, indeed, he could compromise matters, and would allow that we had our provocations, and would promise us redress, and an easier yoke in future, I should feel inclined to hearken : but if he have no concessions to offer, I can never be reconciled.'
'I believe,' says a fourth, that the king knows very well that we have not had justice done us, and therefore this meditation business is introduced to make us amends for the injury. It is an affair settled somehow betwixt him and his son. They call it grace; and I am not much concerned what they call it, so that my life is spared but this I say, If he had not made this or some kind of provision, I should have thought him a tyrant.'
You are all wrong,' says a fifth: I comprehend the design, and am well pleased with it. I hate the government as much as any of you but I love the mediator; for I understand it is his intention to deliver me from its tyranny. He has paid the debt, the king is satisfied, and I am free. I will sue out for my right, and demand my liberty!'
In addition to this, one of the company observed, he did not see what the greater part of them had to do with the proclamation, unless it were to give it a hearing, which they had done already.
For, said he, pardon is promised only to them who are willing to submit, and it is well known that many of us are unwilling; nor can we alter our minds on this subject.
After a while, however, some of them were brought to relent. They thought upon the subject matter of the proclamation, were
convinced of the justness of its statements, reflected upon their evil conduct, and were sincerely sorry on account of it. And now the meditation of the prince appeared in a very different light. They cordially said Amen to every part of the proceeding, The very things which gave such offence while their hearts were disaffected, now appeared to them fit, and right, and glorious. It is fit,' say they, that the king should be honoured, and that we should be humbled; for we have transgressed without cause. It is right that no regard should be paid to any petition of ours, for its own sake; for we have done deeds worthy of death. It is glorious that we should be saved at the intercession of so honourable a personage. The dignity of his character, together with his surprising condescension and goodness, impresses us more than any thing else, and fills our hearts with penitence, confidence, and love. That which in the proclamation is called grace, is grace; for we are utterly unworthy of it; and if we had all suffered according to our sentence, the king and his throne bad been guiltless. We embrace the meditation of the prince, not as a reparation for an injury, but as a single instance of mercy. And far be it from us, that we should consider it as designed to deliver us from our original and just allegiance to his majesty's government! No, rather, it is intended to restore us to it. We love our intercessor, and will implore forgiveness in his name ; but we also love our sovereign, and long to prostrate ourselves at his feet. We rejoice in the satisfaction which the prince has made, and all our hopes of mercy are founded upon it but we have no notion of being freed by it previously to our acquiescence in it. Nor do we desire any other kind of freedom than that which while it remits the just sentence of the law, restores us to his majesty's government. O that we were once clear of this hateful and horrid conspiracy, and might be permitted to serve him with affection and fidelity all the days of our life! We cannot suspect the sincerity of the invitation, or acquit our companions on the score of unwillingness. Why should we? We do not on this account acquit ourselves. On the contrary, it is the remembrance of our unwillingness that now cuts us to the heart. We well remember
to what it was owing that we could not be satisfied with the just government of the king, and afterwards could not comply with the invitations of mercy: it was because we were under the dominion of a disaffected spirit; a spirit which, wicked as it is in itself, it would be more wicked to justify. Our counsel is, therefore, the same as that of his majesty's messengers, with whom we now take our stand. Let us lay aside this cavilling humour, repent, and sue for mercy in the way prescribed, ere mercy be hid from our eyes!"
The reader, in applying this supposed case to the mediation of Christ, will do me the justice to remember, that I do not pretend to have perfectly represented it. Probably there is no similitude fully adequate to the purpose. The distinction between the Father and the Son, is not the same as that which subsists between a father and a son among men the latter are two separate beings; but to assert this of the former, would be inconsistent with the divine unity. Nor can any thing be found analogous to the doctrine of divine influence, by which the redemption of Christ is caried into effect. And with respect to the innocent voluntarily suffering for the guilty, in a few extraordinary instances this principle may be adopted; but the management and application of it generally require more wisdom and more power than mortals possess. We may by the help of a machine, collect a few sparks of the electrical fluid, and produce an effect somewhat resembling that of lightning: but we cannot cause it to blaze like the Almighty, nor thunder with a voice like Him.
Imperfect, however, as the foregoing similitude may appear in some respects, it is sufficient to show the fallacy of Mr. Paine's reasoning. "The doctrine of Redemption," says this writer, "has for its basis an idea of pecuniary justice, and not that of moral justice. If I owe a person money, and cannot pay him, and he threatens to put me in prison, another person can take the debt upon himself, and pay it for me: but if I have committed a crime, every circumstance of the case is changed. Moral justice cannot take the innocent for the guilty, even if the innocent would offer itself. To suppose justice to do this, is to destroy the principle of its existence, which is the thing itself. It is then no longer jus
tice; but is indiscriminate revenge."* This objection, which is the same for substance as has been frequently urged by Socinians as well as Deists, is founded in misrepresentation. It is not true that redemption has for its basis the idea of pecuniary justice, and and not that of moral justice. That sin is called a debt, and the death of Christ a price, a ransom, &c. is true; but it is no unusual thing for moral obligations and deliverances, to be expressed in language borrowed from pecuniary transactions. The obligations of a son to a father, are commonly expressed by such terms as owing and paying he owes a debt of obedience, and in yielding it he pays a debt of gratitude. The same may be said of an obligation to punishment. A murderer owes his life to the justice of his country; and when he suffers, he is said to pay the awful debt. So also if a great character by suffering death, could deliver his country, such deliverance would be spoken of as obtained by the price of blood. No one mistakes these things by understanding them of pecuniary transactions. In such connexions, every one perceives that the terms are used not literally, but metaphorically; and it is thus that they are to be understood with reference to the death of Christ. As sin is not a pecuniary, but a moral debt; so the atonement for it is not a pecuniary, but a moral ransom.
There is doubtless a sufficient analogy between pecuniary and moral proceedings, to justify the use of such language, both in scripture and in common life; and it is easy to perceive the advantages which which arise from it; as besides conveying much important truth, it renders it peculiarly impressive to the mind. But it is not always safe to reason from the former to the latter; much less is it just to affirm, that the latter has for its basis every principle which pertains to the former. The deliverance effected by the prince, in the case before stated, might, with propriety, be called a redemption; and the recollection of it, under this idea, would be very impressive to the minds of those who were delivered. They would scarcely be able to see or think of their Commander in Chief, even though it might be years after the event, without being reminded of the price at which their pardon was obtained, and drop
* Age of Reason, Part I. p. 20.