« PreviousContinue »
NO. XVI.ON DR. JOHN TAYLOR'S SCHEME OF
PAGE 20. (1)– The scheme of Atonement, as it is here laid down, is that which has been maintained in the letters of Ben Mordecai, by the learned and ingenious, but prejudiced and erroneous, H. Taylor. It is substantially the same, that has been adopted by other theologians, who admitting a mediatorial scheme in the proper sense of the word, have thought right to found it upon the notion of a pure benevolence, in opposition to that of a retributive justice, in the Deity. But I have selected the statement of it, given by this writer, as being the best digested and most artfully fortified. It seems to avoid that part of the scheme of Dr. Taylor of Norwich, which favours the Socinian principles : but as will appear on examination, it cannot be entirely extricated from them, being originally built on an unsound foundation.
With respect to the system of Dr. 'Taylor of Norwich, as laid down in his Key to the Apostolic writings, and his Scripture doctrine of Atonement, it is obvious to remark, that it is nothing more, than an artificial accommodation of Scripture phrases, to notions utterly repugnant to Scripture doctrine. A short view of his scheme will satisfy us on this head. By a Sa
crifice, he says (Script. doctr. ch. 2. No. 24, 25.) is meant “ a symbolical address to God, intended to express before him the devotions, affeetions, &c. by significant, emblematical actions:" and consequently, he adds, “ whatever is expressive of a pious and virtuous disposition, may be rightly included in the notion of a Sacrifice; as prayers, thanksgivings, labours,” &c. &c.
Having thus widened up the notion of Sacrifice, it becomes 'necessary that sacrificial atonement should be made of equally extensive sige nification: and accordingly, because the word o, which we commonly translate as making atonement, is, as he says, found to be applied in the Old Testament, in its general sense, to all means used for procuring any benefit, spiritual or temporal, at God's hands, whether for ourselves or others, such as obedience, a just life, sacrifices, prayers, intercessions, self-denials, &c. &c. he therefore thinks himself justified in extending to all these, that particular species of atonement, which is effected by sacrifice: and thereby is enabled to pronounce the Sacrifice of Christ to be a ground of atonement, without taking in a single idea, that truly and properly belongs to sacrifice, or sacrificial atonement. And so, he triumphantly concludes, (Script. doctr. &c. No. 152.) that he has made out the Sacrifice of Christ to be “ truly and properly, in the highest manner and far beyond any other, piacular and expiatory, to make an atonement fur sins, or take them away; not only to give us an example, not only to assure us of remission, or to procure our Lord a commission to publish the forgiveness of sin: but moreover, to obtain that forgiveness, by doing what God in his wisdom and goodness judged fit and expedient to be done, in order to the forgiveness of sin.”
But in what, according to this explication, consists the efficacy of Christ's Sacrifice, and how has it made atonement for Sin?-He informs us himself (Key, &c. No. 148.): “ Obedience, or doing the will of God, was the sacrifice of sweet smelling savour, which made atonement for the sins of the world; in this sense, that God, on account of his (Christ's) goodness and perfect obedience, thought fit to grant unto mankind, the forgiveness of those sins that were past; and farther, erected a glorious and perfect dispensa . țion of grace, exceeding any which had gone
be fore, in means, promises and prospects, at the head of which he set his Son our Lord Jesus Christ," &c. &c.—Thus then, the obedience of Christ was the sacrifice : and the benefits procured to us by that obedience, constitute the atonement effected by it. And the nature of these benefits, and the way in which they are wrought out for us by Christ's obedience, as we find them explained by this writer, will help us to a just view of the
true nature of that, which he calls our atonement.
“ Truth required, says he, (Key, &c. No. 149.) that grace be dispensed, in a manner the most proper and probable to produce reformation and holiness. Now this is what our Lord has done. He has bought us by his blood, and procured the remission of sins, ás what he did and suffered was a proper reason for granting it, and a fit way of conveying and rendering effectual the grace of God,” &c.—“ Now, he says, this could be done no otherwise, than by means of a moral kind, such as are apt to influence our minds, and engage us to forsake what is evil, and to work that which is good,” &c.—" and what means of this sort could be more effectual, than the heavenly and most illustrious example of the Son of God, shewing us the most perfect obedience to God, and the most generous goodness and love to men, recommended to our imitation, by all possible endearments and engaging considerations ?"—And again he says, (Script. Doct.
By the blood of Christ, God discharges us from the guilt, because the blood of Christ is the most powerful mean of freeing us from the pollution and power of Sin,"—and he adds, “it is the ground of redemption, as it is a mean of sanctification.”—What then means the blood of Christ ? _“ not a mere corporeal substance; in which case, as he says, it would be of
no more value in the sight of God, than any other thing of the same kind: nor is it to be considered, merely in relation to our Lord's death and sufferings, as if mere death or suffering could be of itself pleasing and acceptable to God:” no, the writer informs us, (Key, &c. No. 146.) that the “ blood of Christ is his perfect obedience and goodness; and that it implies a character," which we are to transcribe into our lives and conduct. And accordingly he maintains, (Script. Doctr. No. 185.) that “ our Lord's sacrifice and death is so plainly represented, as a powerful mean of improving our virtue, that we have no sufficient ground, to consider its virtue and efficacy
other light." To what then, according to this writer, does the entire scheme of the Atonement amount? God being desirous to rescue man from the consequences and dominion of his Sins, and yet desirous to effect this in such a way, as might best conduce to the advancement of virtue, thought fit to make forgiveness of all sins that were past, a reward of the meritorious obedience of Christ: and by exhibiting that obedience, as a model for universal imitation, to engage man kind to follow his example, that being thereby improved in their virtue, they might be rescued from the dominion of sin: and thus making the example of Christ a mean of sanctification," Redemption from Sin might thereby be effected,