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Judge; in conformity to the sentence pronounced upon man immediately after the commission of his crime: “ Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt " thou eat of it all the days of thy life.”m Christ, therefore, by becoming our Surety, voluntarily subjected himself to a whole life of abasement and sorrow, always bearing “ the form of a servant," and appearing " in " the likeness of sinful flesh.” And since all those sufferings proceeded from the curse of God against sin, and were undergone by our Lord in virtue of his surety-undertaking for sin, it follows that they all jointly concurred, and were collected, so to speak, into one sum, to make up a perfect satisfaction.
xvi. Christ may be considered as undergoing his sufferings, at four periods. Ist, At the commencement of his life ; where we find his emptying of himself by assuming the form of a servant, the meanness of his birth, and his circumcision on the eighth day ;-in which we are to consider not only the pain with which that rite was attended, but also the obligation arising from it to fulfil the whole law, and the prelude it exhibited of Christ's being at last cut off out of the land of the living for the salvation of his mystical body,—as in circumcision a small part of the skin was cut off for the preservation of the whole man. To these add, the persecution of Herod, the flight into Egypt, the murder of the infants of Bethlehem, and the consequent lamentation of so many sorrowful mothers. 2dly, In his private life; which he spent with his relations in obscurity, being regarded as a carpenter, and the son of a carpenter. 3dly, In his public life, from the thirtieth year of his age, during which he had to maintain a per
m Gen. ii. 17.
. Philip. ii. 7.
• Rom. vüi. 3.
petual conflict with poverty, envy, malevolence, reproaches, calumnies, snares, persecutions, particularly those of the scribes and Pharisees, and rulers of the people. 4thly, At the end of his life, and on the last day of it, when tremendous sufferings of all sorts assailed him with incredible vehemence.
Here again we may distinctly consider, 1. What he suffered in the garden of Gethsemane, after eating the last passover, and also the supper, with his disciples, in which an affecting picture of his approaching sufferings was seen,—in the garden, I say, where he was afflicted with an extreme anguish and sorrow of spirit, sold and betrayed by Judas, apprehended by his enemies, and forsaken by his disciples. 2. What he suffered before the tribunal of the Jews, where he was falsely accused, unjustly condemned, cruelly derided, and, mean time, thrice denied by Peter, that highly favoured disciple. 3. What he suffered in the houses of Pilate and Herod, where, after new accusations were brought against him, Barabbas the robber was preferred before him by all the people—where he was torn with cruel scourges at the command of Pilate, obstinately demanded for the cross by his countrymen, and at last condemned by the judge, in defiance of the remonstrances of conscience. 4. In fine, what he suffered after his condemnation by Pilate till his death.
XVII. For WHAT END did our Lord endure these sufferings ? That he might reconcile elect sinners unto God, and restore them to the divine favour, in which life and happiness consist. Two things indeed may be considered in his sufferings ;—the sorrow to which he submitted, when bearing the penalties due to our sins, in order to expiate their guilt ;—and the noble ardour of love to his Father in heaven and to his brethren on earth, from which he exhibited a pattern of
« God was
the most submissive obedience,p in order to obtain for us the favour of the Father.
XVIII. This reconciliation, effected by the sufferings of Christ, is expressly and frequently mentioned in Scripture; as in the following passages.
" When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death " of his Son.”! “ All things are of God, who hath re"conciled us to himself by Jesus Christ.”: " in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not "imputing their trespasses unto them.”s
“ It pleased " the Father,—having made peace through the blood " of his cross, by him to reconcile all things to him" self.”+ The Scriptures contain many other testimonies to the same effect.
XIX. It must be remarked, however, that this reconciliation is attributed, but attributed in different respects, to God the Father, to Christ the Mediator, and sometimes to believers themselves. God the Father is said to reconcile us, as from eternity he deereed to restore to a state of favour some of mankind fallen by sin ; and being himself reconcileable from his own philanthropy, and determining to be reconciled in a manner becoming his character, made all that preparation which was necessary for repairing the breach betwixt himself and sinners.u Christ the Mediator reconciles us to the Father by his satisfaction and merit, which he exhibits to God, and upon beholding which all his anger is turned away; for he satisfied all the demands of the law, that God might be just in justifying the sinner. By his own blood, too, he purges
P John xiv. 31. xv. 13. Philip. ii. 8.
r 2 Cor. v. 18. · Verse 19.
+ Col. i. 19, 20. * 2 Cor. v. 19. Col. i. 20.
sciences of the elect from dead works, that they may not thenceforth fall into those offences, which would break the bond of reconciliation, but “ serve the true " and living God.” Believers, in fine, are said to reconcile themselves to God, as they embrace by an unfeigned faith the benefit appointed for them by God the Father, obtained for them by Christ the Mediator, and exhibited to them in the Gospel,—laying aside likewise all enmity on their part, and returning love to a God of love.
xx. To obviate every doubt, that the sufferings of Christ are the meritorious cause of this reconciliation, the Scripture calls Christ.“ the propitiation," and “ the propitiation, the propitiatory, in his blood."> These expressions carry an allusion partly to the expiatory sacrifices of the Old Testament, where the ram which was offered in sacrifice is called “the ram of the “ atonement,”y and the day on which an atonement used to be made for the sins of the people is denominated “ the day of atonement:"1—and partly to the lid or covering of the ark, which the Hebrews call 0990) and Paul 'incorngiov, “ the mercy-seat." The covering of the ark of the covenant was called the pro pitiatory, “ the mercy-seat,” for several reasons. Ist, Because it covered the law, which was shut up in the ark, that it might not subject believers to condemnation for the crimes committed against itself and the covenant. 2dly, Because there, God was pleased to be pacified, and to become propitious to his people, through
Heb. ix. 14. 1 Pet. ii. 24. "'Inaruos, 1 John ii. 2.
Kquos 'inæruš, Numb. v. 8.
, See Nott IX.
the sprinkling of the blood of victims, which was done towards this covering. 3dly, Because, in consequence, he there exhibited himself to his people, propitious and reconciled, and sitting on the throne of grace, which was between the cherubim.
Now the Apostle, with great propriety, applies the name of the figure and shadow to the substance, and calls Christ “ the mercy-seat;" for, 1st, It is he that covers our sins with his own perfect righteousness, that they may never come into God's sight. He interposes himself as the medium between God and us; as the covering of the ark was a medium between the law laid up in it, and the majesty of God dwelling between the cherubim. 2dly, It is he that, by the sprinkling of his own blood, which Paul calls “ the blood of sprinkling,"c made full expiation to God for us.d 3dly, It is he, finally, in whom God hath erected a throne of grace, to which we are commanded to come, and in whom we receive gracious answers to our prayers.
XXI. Further, FOR WHOM hath Christ made satisfaction by his sufferings? We do not deny that the sufferings of Christ, considered in themselves, and viewed in connexion with the character of the person that suffered, who, as we have frequently noticed already, is one of infinite dignity, are of so great value that they could suffice for the redemption even of the whole human race, and of many more myriads of mankind, on supposition their numbers were increased to that extent, if it had pleased God, and Christ, that he should become Surety for them all. Nor are we un
• Lev. xvi. 14.
d Heb. i. 3. ix. 12. VOL. II.
• Heb. xii. 24.