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Again, in this case it is supposed; that the debt is paid absoutely, so that the creditor is compelled by law and justice to reMease the debtor immediately. But let us change the circumstances. Suppose a benevolent individual visits a prison filled with debtors-He finds one who had contracted his debt through folly and vice. But he is touched at the recital of his case, and determines to pay his debt. Wishing, however, to reclaim the unfortunate man, and to humble his lofty spirit, he tells him, I will pay your debt; but remember, the payment will be made on this condition, that you shall not enjoy the intended benefit and obtain your freedom, till you acknowledge your fault to your creditor, and ask his forgiveness of your improper conduct towards him. Now, from this arrangement it is plain, that this debtor could not, on principles of law or justice, claim a relcase, until he had submitted to the prescribed condition; and his creditor could justly detain him in prison, with a view of humbling his proud heart, and bringing him to the required acknowledgement. Jehovah had a perfect right to arrange the economy of salvation as he pleased; and his Son had a perfect right to pay the price of our redemption under what stipulations he chose. For aught we know, the plan, in respect to the application of the atonement, might have been different from what it really is, in a variety of respects. The whole economy of salvation was arranged in the counsels of infinite wisdom. It is what the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost chose it should be; and to carry into effect this wonderful scheme, the eternal Son of God laid down his life as a ransom for us, or as the price of our redemption.
But pecuniary transactions, we not only admit but insist, can furnish no perfect parallel to the mysterious transaction of saving sinners. A creditor cannot refuse the payment of his debt by a third person: but Jehovah might have exacted the debt from cvery sinner, and refused the mediation of a surety. A debtor may provide his surety; but a sinner cannot, and must be indebted for the blessing to the bounty of his offended sovereign. The creditor's pecuniary demands are satisfied the moment his debt is paid: but the demands of God upon the sinner are not satisfied till he believe in Christ, although the price of our redemption was paid long before he came into existence. The debtor, after the payment of his debt by another, is not commonly under obligation to his creditor for releasing him from prison: but the sinner must, according to the provisions of the covenant of redemption, be under eternal obligations to the Father, for delivering him from the curse of the law and the prison of hell, through the atoning sacrifice of his own Son. In human transactions the VOL. III.
surety is a different individual from the creditor: but in the divine transaction of saving sinners, the Son, our surety, though a different person from the Father, yet is with him one and the same infinite Being.
It is absurd then to infer that because the inspired writers illustrate the doctrine of atonement by referring to pecuniary transactions, that it must resemble them in every particular; and it is equally absurd from the fact that the atonement does not agree with pecuniary transactions in every particular, to infer that it cannot agree with them in some general principle, and is not a price in any sense whatever.
Let us view the remarks of the writer last quoted, a little closer, and we shall find in them several important errors.
"Their debt is paid. The law has no further demand; grace and pardon are out of the question," so says this author, but so say not the inspired writers. The entire consistency between the grace of God in our pardon and the satisfaction of Christ for sin, has already been shown; and any further proof on the subject is deemed unnecessary. But in regard to the law, it is perfectly plain from the testimony of scripture, that on unbelievers it has all its demands, and that they must remain under the curse, till they < believe in Christ; for the stipulations between the Father and the Son are such, that they secure an actual release from its penal demands ONLY to believers.
"There is but ONE BEING in the universe to whom they would be indebted for their release; and that is the friend who paid their debt, or suffered the penalty of the law in their stead." Is this the language of a professed trinitarian? Does he not know that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are ONE BEING? Does he not know that they are so perfectly ONE, that if in prayer we address the Son, we address the Father and the Spirit; and that if we address the Father we addrers the Godhead? He has surely read what our Lord declared to the Jews: "For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son; that all men should honour the Son even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him." John vi. 22, 23. Does he not know that there is a perfect concurrence of all the persons in the Godhead in all their works; and that although one part of the work of man's redemption is peculiarly appropriated to one person, and another to another person in the divine Trinity, yet they all concur in every part? Has he not read the Saviour's declaration? "Verily, verily, I say unto you, the Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth,
these also doth the Son likewise." John v. 19. And after all this, in opposition to the perfect unity of the Father, Son and Spirit, and to their entire concurrence in all their works, does he venture to make so round and unqualified an assertion-"There is but ONE BEING in the universe to whom they would be indebted for their release; and that is the friend who paid their debt or suffered the penalty of the law in their stead?" Now, from this difficulty the writer cannot extricate himself by saying he admits the unity of the divine being, and that we are indebted both to the Son and the Father; because this would be abandoning his argument, which was to show, that, if Christ paid our debt, or suffered the penalty of the law in our stead, then we are indebted for our release not to the Father, but to the Son alone.
This objection to the truth betrays its origin-Infidelity forged
But the author may say, as in fact he has said, "Be it so, that mercy to redeemed man is the same; but by whom is this mercy exercised. Surely not by God the Father. It is a vital principle of that scheme (against which we contend, to represent the Father as rigidly insisting upon the infliction of the whole penalty of the law, before he consents to the offer of salvation to a rebellious world. Every particle of the curse must be inflicted. Every jot and tittle of the law must be executed.”
Now, if when the penalty of the law was about to fall on sinners, the Son of God came forward and endured the exact amount of suffering due, on legal principles, to these sinners, be the number great or small, then the whole mercy involved in their redemption is expressed by Christ alone. The Father, as one of the persons of the Trinity, is inflexibly just, without any inclination to the exercise of mercy; while the Son is so merciful, that he has suffered the most rigid demands of the law, in order to obtain the consent of the Father to the salvation of his people. This representation appears to us derogatory to the character of God, It annihilates the attribute of mercy, and represents the Son as a kind of milder Deity, who has interposed and answered the stern demands of the Father, in behalf of his people, and in this way literally purchased them from perdition."*
"The Father is without any inclinatton to the exercise of mercy!! The whole mercy involved in their redemption is expressed by Christ alone!!!" And is this a fair representation of the views of those who cordially believe what is stated in the ConChrist, by his obedience and death, did fully lischarge the debt of all those that are thus justified, and did
fession of Faith?
Beman, p. 37.
make a proper, real, and full satisfaction to his Father's justice in their behalf. Yet, inasmuch as he was given by the Father for them, and his obedience and satisfaction accepted in their stead, and both freely, not for any thing in them, their justification is only of free grace; that both the exact justice, and rich grace of GOD, might be glorified in the justification of sinners." chap. ii. sec. 3. Had the author who has subscribed the Confession of Faith, attended to this and other articles of that admirable summary of Christian doctrine, it might have kept him from making such unjust misrepresentations of his brethren's views and state
But does he not know that all intelligent advocates of the scheme he opposes, have uniformly represented the plan of redemption as originating in the unmerited mercy and boundless love of GOD THE FATHER? Does he not know that they believe the attributes of Jehovah to be immutable; and that they teach that the death of Christ was not the cause, but the fruit, of mercy, as an attribute of the Father? Does he not know that, while they believe the satisfaction of Christ to have been necessary to a consistent and honourable exercise of mercy, they regard the gift of Christ as the highest demonstration of the FaTHER'S UNBOUNDED MERCY Does he not know that they can, with as much emphasis as he, repeat the delightful encomium passed on the Father's love by the Redeemer? "God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life." Does he not know that they constantly teach that "the love of God was the cause, and not the effect, of the atonement?" These facts he ought to have known, before he assailed an important doctrine in the Confession of Faith and of the BIBLE; but if he did know them, he must account for misrepresenting so greatly the views of his brethren, as well as he can.
But I have not done with the quotations from this writer. If his remarks have any force they apply to his own scheme. He maintains the necessity of an atonement, to open the way for the exercise of divine mercy, and he has spent a whole sermon on that point, and in showing the love which God bears to his holy law. He contends that unless satisfaction had been made to public justice, salvation would have been impossible. Now, he believes that the Son, and not the Father, became incarnate; that the Son, and not the Father, humbled himself; that the Son, and not the Father, suffered; that the Son, and not the Father, bled and died on a cross; that the Son, and not the Father, made an atonement; that the Son, and not the Father, intercedes for sin
He expressly says, "In the case of all believers, and such and such only will be saved, the misery which Christ endured, is the real and only ground of their release; because without these sufferings, or the atonement, there could have been NO PARDON OR GRACE FOR SINNERS. What follows from all this? Why? if his remarks be just, then it will follow, that according to his own scheme, we are indebted to Christ alone for salvation. How happens it that some writers, while objecting to the principles of others, do not perceive that they are fighting against themselves. The reasoning of this author, if fairly and fully carried out, would sweep away two of the fundamental doctrines of the gospel, the ATONEMENT and the TRINITY.
In my next, I propose to compare the two theories in regard to the nature of the atonement, in order to discover which accords best with scriptural truth. In the mean time,
I remain affectionately yours.
PROPOSED UNION BETWEEN THE ASSOCIATE SYNOD AND THE CONSTITUTIONAL ASSOCIATE PRESBYTERY
As mentioned in our Summary for last month, a union between these two bodies has been for some time contemplated. In May last, a Basis was agreed upon with a view to this union. Aware that many of our readers take a deep interest in the movements of the Secession in Scotland, we have resolved to furnish them with this document entire. For the sake of those who are not familiar with the late history of the Secession it may be proper here to notice that the General Associate Synod, for reasons stated in the introduction to the Narrative prefixed to their Testimony, considered themselves as bound to adapt their Testimony more to the circumstances of the present time. The object proposed was, to embody in one plain and comprehen sive Summary the several Acts and publications which, besides the Judicial Testimony were viewed as parts of their profession, exhibiting the distinguishing principles of the body, and to separate what was properly Narrative from their doctrinal Testimony. For the accomplishment of this object a Testimony was agreed upon and enacted on the 16th of October, 1801, and a Narrative, on the 2nd of September 1803. A few ministers however, I think five, among whom were Archibald Bruce of Whitburn, and Dr. M'Crie of Edinburgh, were not satisfied with the new exhibition of principles, alleging that in some things, and especially on the power of the civil magistrate, circa sacra, it differed from the former statements.After repeated and earnest attempts to satisfy these brethren had proved unavailing, they withdrew from the Synod and formed themselves into a body under the title and designation of the CONSTITUTIONAL (ASSOCIATE) PRESBYTERY. They continued to adhere to the Judicial Testimony and other acts in which the principles of the Secession had been declared; and further exhibitions were given by them on the subjects on which they were supposed to differ from their former brethren.
The other party to the proposed union is the Associate Synod, consisting of those who protested against the late union between the two branches
* Beman, p. 50.