« PreviousContinue »
temple and the ark-but “ bodily,” that is, really or personally; as the body is either opposed to the shadow, or designates a person. To the Divinity, in consequence, it was owing, that the suffering of one so great, namely, a Divine and infinite Person, could not fail to be regarded as possessing infinite worth ; so that the sufferings of Christ, though of short duration, were equivalent to the eternal sufferings of the damned; and the sufferings of a single person sufficed for the redemption of the many myriads of the elect. Hence the Scripture so often recalls our attention to the Divine dignity of Him who suffered, that we may recognise the boundless value of the satisfaction of Christ. It affirms, that “ God hath purchased the church with “ his own blood”—that “the Lord of glory was cruci“ fied”-that “Christ through the eternal Spirit offerир
himself unto God”t*—that “ the blood of Jesus “ Christ, the Son of God, cleanseth us from all sin.”u
VII. To impart this infinite worth to his sufferings, it was not necessary that the Divine nature itself, or that Christ as God should suffer. It was sufficient that he who is God, should suffer. All the actions and sufferings are the actions and sufferings of the person, and receive their value and denomination from the dignity
of the person, as from the principium quod, although with respect to their condition, they are to be attributed to the nature from which they take their rise, as the principium quo.8
viii. In vain, too, doth Socinus argue, that the dignity of the person contributes nothing towards the in
* See Vol. I. NOTE XXXVIII. I Acts xx. 28.
s 1 Cor. ii. 8. Heb. ix. 14.
u 1 John i. 7. s See Note VIII.
finitude of the punishment, because there is no respect " of persons with God;"v and that if this holds even when there is room for the exercise of his mercy, much more, when the infliction of punishment according to justice, or rather according to the dictates of the strictest severity, is in question. In reply to this cavil, we observe, Ist, That “the respect of persons” which God disclaims, is quite a different matter from the consideration of the worth of the person, in estimating his sufferings. The Greek term #goowToy does not signify a man himself, whom we call a person; but the outward condition or quality of a person or thing, which is unconnected with the cause, and has no concern in its merits. But here the dignity of the person suffering is not an outward quality unconnected with the matter, but more than any thing else contributes essentially to the weight and merits of the cause; for the worth of the person who takes something on himself, is a consideration of great moment. In short, it is one thing to accept the face,*-—which is contrary to justice, and is with great propriety represented as impossible with God; and it is a widely different thing to respect the person † properly so called,—which is just, and is rightly attributed to God. 2dly, The condition of a Surety must be distinguished from that of a sinner. Personal dignity might perhaps be of no avail to the guilty individual himself, when suffering the punishment of his own sins ; because he possessed when sinning the same dignity which he possesses when suffering; and if it might be pleaded as a reason for dimi
Rom. ii. 11.
nution when viewed simply in relation to the punishment, it is, however, to be considered as an aggravation when viewed in relation to the offence. But personal dignity is available in a Surety, who makes satisfaction, not for his own transgressions, but for the transgressions of others.
ix. But what hath Christ suffered ? In one word, he has suffered the wrath of God, which was kindled against the sins of the whole human race; for “ the “ wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all un
godliness and unrighteousness of men”. That wrath signifies a most holy detestation of sin, together with the just punishment of it; and accordingly “ wrath and " the revelation of the righteous judgment of God,” are joined together by the Apostle. *
x. God, who is holy, cannot but hate sin, and the sinner. “ Thou art not a God that hath pleasure in “ wickedness—thou hatest all workers of iniquity.", Now the natural consequence of this hatred is punishment; for the hatred is most just, and is essential to him who has the right and the power to punish. Hence the Psalmist deduces the following conclusions : “ Evil u shall not dwell with thee; the foolish shall not stand
in thy sight; thou shalt destroy them that speak leas“ ing.” Z
xi. There is in sin a wanton indignity and disparagement to the Divine majesty and glory; for whoever sins, acts as if there were no God whom he is bound to revere, or as if he were a God to himself, and the supreme governor of his own actions. b And what is this but wantonly to insult the majesty and glory of God ? But the glory of God is justly dear to himself; and he can no more suffer an indignity done to it to pass wholly unpunished, than he can become altogether “ such a one as the sinner;" for so himself hath taught us to reason.c
* Rom. i. 18.
» Rom. ii. 5.
Ps. xii. 4.
xi. To this concern for his own glory, violated by the sinner, God has given a very significant appellation, namely, jealousy ;* which alludes to an honourable husband, who is greatly enraged at the least approaches to the violation of conjugal fidelity. “ Jealousy " is the rage of a man.”Now the necessary consequence of that jealousy, by which God secures the vindication of his own glory, than which nothing is dearer to him, is the punishment of sin. Hence the following expressions—“ a jealous God, visiting iniquity”; e “ He “is a holy God, he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions, nor your sins.”?
XIII. Nay, further, even when he “ forgives iniquity, transgression, and sin, he will by no means clear the
guilty.". But in that eminent act of his mercy, he demands also some demonstration of his justice. It is deserving of notice, that this sentiment is repeatedly inculcated in those passages, where the great clemency of God towards sinners is celebrated either by himself, or by his servants. Thus believers are apprized, that they must not expect, or even desire, the pardon of their sins, without some manifestation of the Divine severity against them. Now God gives a twofold display of his severity. Ist, By chastising sin in believers
e Ps. l. 21.
a Prov. vi. 34. • Exod. xx. 5.
Josh. xxiv. 19. & Exod. xxxiv. 7.
Num. xiv. :8. Jer. xxx. 11. xlvi. 28.
themselves, at the same time that he forgives them.i Of this we read in Jeremiah, j “ I will correct thee in “measure; yet will I not leave thee wholly unpu“ nished.” 2dly, He displays it chiefly by punishing in the Surety, the sin which he forgives to believers; for he neither forgives, nor can forgive, but in a manner consistent with righteousness.
XIV. “ It therefore BECAME him, for whom are “ all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing
many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their “ salvation perfect through sufferings.”* It was required by the to mgetov, that is, by what is proper
and becoming on the part of the Deity, that whilst he forgives sins, he should one day manifest his justice in demanding the blood of the Surety. The same truth is again clearly taught by the Apostle in the following passage: “ Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through “ faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness that " he might be just, and the justifier of him that be“ lieveth in Jesus.”? And truly never was God's holy indignation against the sins of mankind more brightly demonstrated, than when it pleased him, whilst he forgives them to us, to punish them so severely in his beloved Son. Thus it appears that Christ sustained the wrath of God kindled against the sins of men.
xv. When did Christ suffer ? He suffered from the beginning of his life, and principally towards the end of it. Sin rendered man obnoxious to misery through the whole course of his life, and made him worthy to experience, withoutintermission, the bitterness of his own transgression, and the galling scourge of the Supreme
i Ps. xcix. 8.
1 Ch. xlvi. 28.