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I now proceed to consider the nature of that death, which had the efficacy of redemption. First, it must be voluntary. As Christ was perfectly holy, no part of his sufferings could have been inflicted or undergone for his own sake ; he was always beloved of his Father, and whatever he thought, spoke, or did, was well pleasing in his sight; when therefore we are told, that it pleased Jehovah to bruise him, it was not as a punishment, for he never merited punishment, nor a wanton, causeless infliction, for God cannot be the author of such an infliction. only as a substitute for mankind, that he was afflicted in any case, or in any degree. I understand all such general expressions as these “Ought not Christ to have suffered ? -It behoved Christ to suffer,-Christ must needs have suffered Christ suffered for us,Who being rich became poor, that ye through him might become rich,-I lay down my life for the sheep, no man taketh it from me, I lay it down of myself,” as directly indicating that all his sufferings were gratuitous, demanded by no law, and in no sense necessarý, to the justification of himself.
The second requisite of a death, efficacious of redemption, is, that it must be offered
up in consequence of preordained acceptance.-“Ye were redeemed,” says St. Peter, “ with the precious blood of Christ, who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,” 1 Peter, i. 20. St. Peter, in these words, distinguishes between the advent of our Redeemer, and the efficacy of his death, teaching us that though his manifestation was late, yet the virtue of his foreordained redemption, in order to make the ransome as extensive as the forfeiture,) preoperated from the most early times, a preoperation which St. John fully expresses, by the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. It would infinitely detract from the dignity of Christianity, to imagine that the plan of redemption was a temporary expedient contrived on a sudden, or produced upon an emergency, to remedy an unforeseen disaster, as if the Deity, upon a disappointment of his views, and an unfortunate disconcertment of his measures, had recourse to the best device that the exigence of affairs suggested.
He, whose understanding is infinite, cannot know that now, which he did not always know. In him there is nothing past, nothing to come, but all is present. Eternity itself can add no improvement to the knowledge of that all wise, all comprehending mind, to whom all futurity is open, and from whom no secrets are hid. Satan neither stole, nor forced his way into paradise. He neither escaped the notice, nor conquered the power of him, whose presence filled heaven and earth, -Omniscience cannot be deceived, Omnipresence cannot be eluded, Omnipotence cannot be overcome. Man, in his original state, had a freedom of will, and a liberty of action, to obey or disobey, for where there is no choice there can be no virtue ; the foreknowledge of the Deity therefore did not produce natural and moral evil, for can we believe that God forbade the fall, which by an antecedent decree he had rendered inevitable ? that he gave a commandment to Adam, which by his original formation, he was absolutely unable to obey, that he made the possession of Paradise, and the continuance of innocence and happiness, to depend upon a condition, which it was physically impossible for him to fulfil ? God knew that Judas would betray Christ, but Judas was not necessitated to be a traitor, by God's knowledge. Punishment proves the existence of sin, sin proves the existence of a law, and a law given by a righteous and merciful God, proves the possibility of obedience. The prescience of God is to be considered as perfectly distinct from his will, he willeth not the death of a sinner, but he foresees that the impenitent will perish, and he foresees all the actions of men, both those which are conformable, and those which are contrary to his will ; he foresaw original transgression, but his prescience did not affect the free agency of Adam, though pity to the human race, induced him to provide the consequent remedy.
On the doctrine of atonement, christianity, properly so called, is erected. By christianity, I mean the religion of fallen beings, the truths to be believed, and the duties to be performed, by such beings. In this view, the salvation of mankind, through the death and passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, ever has been, and ever must be, a most interesting subject, to all serious minds. And there is one thing, concerning which, we have no division or difference of opiņion at all, which is, that the death of Christ is spoken of, in reference to human redemption, in terms and in a manner, in which the death of no person whatever, is spoken of besides. Many have died martyrs, many have suffered in a righteous cause, but that is said of him, and of his death and sufferings, which is not said of any one else ; an efficacy and a concern are ascribed to him, in the accomplishment of mans' salvation, which are not ascribed to any other. In this instance the scriptures are full and conclusive,—“Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and smite the man that is my fellow, (Jehovah's fellow) saith the Lord of hosts.” Zechariah xiii. 7. They shall smite the judge of Israel with a rod upon
the cheek. Micah v. 1. In perfect consonance with this idea, is the language of the apostles,--they speak of Christ as a ransome for many, a propitiation for the sins of the whole world, as dying for us, as bearing our sins in his own body on the tree, as tasting death for every man.
These are only a few of the assertions of the inspired writers