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Father's business, and obeyed his Father's will, and not his own. In obedience to the mediatorial law, when he was about thirty years of age, he submitted to the rite of baptism, by which he was inaugurated into his priestly office, and prepared for his public ministry. From that time, he went about all Judea, preaching the gospel and working miracles, until in obedience to his Father's particular command, he laid down his life on the cross.
Thus Christ was perfectly obedient, from the beginning to the end of his life, and persevered in obedience amidst the severest conflicts, trials and sufferings. He suffered extreme poverty, and had not where to lay his head. He was despised and rejected of men. He was tempted and buffeted by Satan. He was called a friend of publicans and sinners, and was said to act in concert with the devil. And from the time he had celebrated the last Passover, to the moment of his death, he suffered all the neglect, perfidy, reproach, injustice and cruelty, that the malice and power of man could inflict. He was betrayed by Judas, forsaken by his disciples, denied by Peter, abused by the chief priest, derided by the populace, mocked by Herod, and finally condemned by Pilate to be crucified between two malefactors, as an infamous blasphemer. We are now prepared to consider,
III. In what sense Christ purchased salvation for us, by what he did and suffered.
Divines have preached and written a great deal, concerning Christ's purchasing salvation for us, by what he did and suffered. Some have maintained that he purchased salvation for all mankind. Some have supposed that he purchased salvation for the church, or the elect only. Some have taught that he purchased salvation in a literal sense; but others have supposed that he did not purchase or buy salvation for any. President Edwards, in his History of Redemption, occupies fifty pages in illustrating what he calls the purchase of redemption. And among other things, he says, “ Christ purchased our redemption both by his satisfaction, and his merit. The price Christ lays down, pays our debt, and so satisfies; by its intrinsic value, and by the agreement between the Father and the Son, it pro. cures our title to happiness, and so merits. The satisfaction of Christ is to free us from misery, and the merit of Christ is to purchase happiness for us;" that is, as he expressly and repeatedly declares, for the elect only. This diversity of opinion
, . upon the same subject, makes it a matter of importance to inquire critically and impartially, in what sense Christ did not, and in what sense he did purchase salvation for us. The strict literal meaning of the word purchase, is as well understood as any English word in common use; but the main question before us is to ascertain in what sense the word purchase in the text is to be understood, whether literally or figuratively. Here I would observe,
1. That Christ did not purchase salvation for us in a literal sense. He did not pay our debt of punishment, nor our debt of obedience. Though he suffered in our stead, yet he did not suffer the punishment which we deserve, and which the law threatens to us. He never transgressed the law, and so the law could not threaten any punishment to him. His sufferings were no punishment, and much less our punishment. His sufferings were by no means equal, in degree or duration, to the eternal sufferings that we deserve, and which God has threatened to inflict upon us.
So that he did in no sense bear the penalty of the law, which we have broken and justly deserve. But supposing he had suffered the very same things, in degree and duration, that the law threatens to us, yet his sufferings could not pay the debt of punishment which we owe to divine justice. For his sufferings cannot take away our desert of sufferings; and if they cannot take away our desert of suffering, they cannot dissolve our obligation to suffer, nor pay our debt of suffering. We deserve to suffer as much as if Christ had not suffered at all. This we all know is agreeable to truth. Notwithstanding all the scripture says concerning Christ's suffering in our stead, and purchasing salvation for us, we still feel that we deserve to suffer the penalty of the law, which we have broken in our own persons, whether we shall suffer it or not. The debt of suffering is not like a pecuniary debt, which one man may pay for another, and dissolve his obligation to pay it. The price or ransom which Christ paid for our redemption has not diminished our ill desert, nor dissolved our obligation to suffer the due reward of our sins. We are not bound by commutative justice, which respects nothing but property, but we are bound by distributive justice, which consists in rewarding virtue, and punishing sin. Distributive justice towards a transgressor cannot be satisfied by a mulct or fine, but only by personal punishment. Nothing, therefore, that Christ did or suffered here on earth can satisfy God's distributive justice, or pay the debt of suffering which we owe to him. Christ did not literally purchase, or buy, or ransom, or redeem, mankind from the punishment which they deserved, and which God had in his law threatened to inflict upon them. None of these expressions are to be understood in any other than a figurative sense, in respect to Christ's atonement. His sufferings and death did not literally pay the debt of punishment which we owe to divine justice. Nor did his obedience pay the debt of obedience which we are bound to pay to the divine law. Though Christ was obedient to all the divine commands, through the whole course of his life, and even in his death, yet he obeyed only for himself, and not in the room of mankind, in order to free them from their obligation to obey God personally and perfectly. There was indeed no occasion for his obeying in our room, in order to merit salvation for us. Though God cannot forgive sin without an atonement, yet he can reward sincere obedience without an atonement. After God has pardoned penitent believers, through the atonement of Christ, he can accept and reward them for their cordial obe. dience, without any atonement. Besides, it was absolutely impossible that Christ should literally merit any thing from the hands of his Father. For in order to merit salvation or eternal life for sinners, he must bring his Father under obligation, in point of justice, to bestow eternal life upon them.
. But it is impossible for one divine person to bring another divine person under obligation, while both are absolutely independent. One created being can lay another created being under obligation, because one created being may be dependent upon another; but since God the Father is absolutely independent, it is utterly impossible that God the Son should bring him under obligation, in point of justice. It is, therefore, contrary to sound reason to suppose that Christ ever merited any thing at the hands of God, either by his sufferings, or obedience. Hence we are not to understand, by Christ's purchasing salvation for us, that he literally paid either the debt of suffering, or the debt of obedience, which we owed to God. For his death could not merit our deliverance from future punishment, nor his obedience merit eternal life for us. But, ,
2. By Christ's purchasing salvation for us, or buying, ransoming and redeeming us, we are to understand that he made a proper atonement for sin, which rendered it consistent for God to offer salvation to all mankind, and to bestow it upon all penitent, believing, returning sinners. This he did, not by his obedience or righteousness, but by his blood, or his sufferings and death on the cross. He was personally bound to obey the moral, ceremonial and mediatorial law, to make it appear to the world that he was the true Messiah, who was promised to our first parents immediately after their apostacy.
His obedience made no part of his atonement; it was only a prerequisite to qualify him to make it by his death. Many make a distinction between his active and passive obedience; but there is no foundation for this distinction in scripture. His passive obedience had no more tendency to make atonement, ihan his active obedience. All his obedience was precisely of VOL. v.
the same nature. It was an expression of love to God and man. But his expression of love to God and man had no atoning influence, nor any tendency to merit either forgiveness or eternal life for sinners. The scripture never ascribes any part of his atonement to his holy and obedient life, but to his laying down his life, giving his life a ransom, pouring out his soul unto death, and his once offering himself a sacrifice for sin. His dying the just for the unjust answered the same purpose that God would have answered by executing the penalty of the law upon transgressors themselves. It displayed the same feelings towards sinners that God would have displayed by punishing the whole human race according to their desert. By punishing them according to their desert, God would have manifested his infinite displeasure towards them, and his inflexible disposition to maintain his moral government over all moral beings. Such a display of God's hatred of sin, and disposition to punish it, was absolutely necessary, in order to render it consistent with the perfect rectitude of his nature, to pardon and save penitent sinners from deserved punishment. And nothing could more fully display his vindictive justice in the view of the whole intelligent creation, than his subjecting his Son, whom he loved with the most ardent affection, to the painful and reproachful death of the cross. Through the medium of his vicarious death, God made it manifest that he feels the same hatred of sin and disposition to punish it, when he forgives, as when he punishes sinners. Though God did not punish sinners by the stripes which he laid on Christ, yet he displayed the same feelings that he would have displayed, if he had punished them all personally. Though General Washington would not have punished the man who killed Captain Huddy, if he had put Captain Asgill to death in his room, yet he would have displayed his disposition to punish the man who killed Captain Huddy, as clearly as if he had put that murderer to death. God, by subjecting Christ to his agonies in the garden and to his sufferings on the cross, demonstrated to the world, that he would by no means clear the guilty, without an atonement for sin. And though the sufferings and death of Christ did not pay the debt of suffering which mankind owed to divine justice, nor dissolve their obligation and desert of punishment; yet Christ by his blood procured the pardon and salvation of the church, and laid a foundation for the pardon and salvation of all mankind, so far as an atonement for their sins could lay a foundation for God to make a full display of his pardoning mercy. It was not possible for Christ to merit eternal life for any; but he could procure salvation for all whom his Father should in his sovereign mercy, bring to repentance and faith, and prepare for the kingdom of heaven. It is, therefore, in this sense only, that Christ purchased, bought, ransomed or redeemed mankind, by his blood. This is what Peter believed and taught christians to believe, respecting the redemption of Christ. He says, “ Ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, - but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish, and without spot.” The debt which sinners owe to God is not a pecuniary debt, and therefore cannot be paid with silver or gold. It is a debt of guilt, which the blood of Christ cannot literally pay, and discharge the original debtors from all obligation to pay. But his blood can atone for their guilt, and procure pardon or forgiveness at the hands of a merciful God. Now, as the forgiveness of sin, or deliverance from deserved punishment, resembles a discharge from a pecuniary debt, so There is a propriety in the sacred writers' using the terms, purchased, bought, ransomed, and redeemed, in reference to what Christ did and suffered to deliver mankind from the wrath to come. And these figurative expressions are so proper, pertinent and intelligible, that there seems to be no ground to understand them in a literal sense, which would imply the gross absurdity that Christ's obedience was our obedience, and Christ's sufferings were our sufferings; so that now our obligation to obedience and our desert of punishment are entirely taken away.
But if we understand the terins purchased, bought, ransomed, and redeemed, in a figurative sense, then all that the inspired writers have told us respecting Christ's having obtained eternal redemption for us, is plain and intelligible.
1. It appears from the whole tenor of this discourse, that Christ did not, either by his obedience or death, merit salvation for us. Both ministers and people, who call themselves orthodox, are very fond of using the phrase, merits of Christ, when speaking of his atonement for sin, by which they mean that Christ merited salvation for all for whom he made atonement. But this is neither a scriptural nor proper phrase. It is often designedly or undesignedly used to convey the idea that Christ, by his obedience and sufferings on the cross, paid the debt of suffering and obedience in the room of sinners, so that God is obliged, in point of justice, to release them from eternal sufferings, and to bestow upon them eternal life. This is a false and unscriptural sentiment, and naturally tends to lead men into several other great and dangerous errors.
In particular, it leads some to believe that Christ died and