Page images
PDF
EPUB

and share your love with him. If you discover any, let him have the honour of destroying it. Put your heart into his hand, with all its idols, lusts, and dead. ness, to form it aright for himself. Remind him of his promise, “ And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart-to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart." This will fit you for a blessed and happy interview with him.

DISCOURSE II.

THE SUFFERINGS OF CHRIST A PROPER ATONEMENT

FOR SIN.

Heb. ii. 10. -To make the Captain of their salvation perfect through

sufferings.

No truth has a better claim to the attention of mankind, none more necessary to be well understood, and none in which the faith of Christians ought to be more firmly established, than the doctrine of atonement. It lies so much at the foundation of the work of salvation, that a departure from it, lays the whole superstructure in ruins. The Scriptures are full of it; lay the greatest weight upon it; and represent it as extensively connected with other things. It was the first truth revealed, though obscurely, to Adam, after the fall; and in it, as an universal centre, do all other truths meet. Every succeeding promise, made to the church, sprung from it; to it every legal sacrifice, and every purifying rite, pointed. To this grand truth, Moses and the prophets unite their testimony. Christ himself and his apostles dwell upon it with peculiar emphasis, as an article of such magnitude in the Christian system that, according as it is received or rejected, the whole scheme must stand or fall. Notwithstanding this, attempts have been made to persuade men, that this truth is little more than a historical fact; and of so little importance, that Jesus might have saved sinners, though he had not died. . The death

of prophets, apostles, and eminent saints, is never represented as important, nor as affecting the Christian faith. It, therefore, merits our attention, whether there was any thing in the nature of the sufferings and death of Christ, rendering them so important as the Scriptures seem to indicate, or if they were merely accidental and unnecessary. In discussing this part of the subject I

shall

I. Make some general remarks upon these sufferings.

II. I shall prove that they were strictly legal, substitutionary, and expiatory of sin.

I. I SHALL make some general remarks upon these sufferings.

1. THEY were unalterably fixed in the counsels of heaven. That any event, in Providence, should be merely contingent, is incompatible with all just conceptions of the infinite perfection of Deity. It destroys the liberty of his will, impeaches his wisdom, limits his power, denies his omniscience, makes him dependant on the creature, and impairs his happiness. If there could be any event contingent to God, it could proceed only from the will of the creature; and though it were con. trary to the mind of God, he could not hinder it, as this would destroy its contingency. But it would be a high reflection on divine wisdom to insinuate, that a perfect and complete scheme for managing all the affairs of creatures, has not been formed; as contingent events might embarrass, and even render abortive, the designs of heaven. Would not this be to assert, that God has neither will nor ability to do what pleases him; and that the will of the creature is paramount to his? Contingent events cannot be known till they take place, even by God himself. If he know any thing about

such events, it must be this: He knows that they may not take place, and he knows that they may take place; that is, he knows it is uncertain whether they shall take place or not. If we suppose him to know that they will take place, yet being contingent, they may not: and if we suppose him to know that they will not take place, yet by the supposition, they may take place; all that God can then know, in such cases, is, that he may be deceived. When an event, thus contingent, happens, it may counteract some fixed design of God, and. so be opposite to his will; but this would impair his happiness, because he would rather it had been other. wise; that is, it would have been more agreeable to him.

THAT Christ should have suffered and died, has been represented as having no place in the divine coun. sels. That Jesus himself “ seems not to have considered his excruciating death, in the manner it happened, as previously fixed by an absolute divine decree:" And that his sufferings were “ only-incidental calamities," arising from the prejudices and wickedness of the Jews, among whom he lived. The native inference from these assertions is, That in different circumstances Jesus would not have died; and that either his death was not necessary to the salvation of sinners, or that God was perfectly indifferent whether they were saved or not. Such a supposition is at variance with the whole of divine revelation. This grand event lies at the foundation of all the divinę counsels, and opens the way to their execution. As the love of God is the source of all divine blessings, so the channel through which they are conveyed to sinners is the death of Christ. “ When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son." " We are justified by his blood." " We have redemption through his blood,

* G

· the forgiveness of sins.” If his death was a mere un

certain and undetermined thing, it could not be designed by God: consequently, could be no proof and no fruit of his love to sinners; contrary to the testimony of Scripture. 6. But God commendech his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Rom. v. 8. • Herein is love; not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his son to be the propitiation for our sins." i John iv. 10. So far from being undesigned, to die is here affirmed to be the very end for which he was sent. Instead of viewing his death as undetermined, or unnecessary, Jesus told the two hesitating disciples, in the way to Emmaus, " That he QUGHT to have suffered.”

Various circumstances concurred to bring about his death. Judas betrayed him; the Jews accused

him; and the Roman governor at last condemned him. · He wished, indeed, to release him; and his wife pro.

claimed his innocence, and beseeched him to have nothing to do with himn: But they must “ do whatsoever God's hand and counsel determined before to be done.” They, therefore, “ took and crucified him, delivered to them by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God.”

But had this been merely a fortuitous event, Jesus might have avoided it. The people saw him miraculously feed thousands. They thought him a fit person to wear a crown; as he could at once produce every supply for any army; at once heal his wounded soldi. ers; and even make his enemies fall to the ground. “ If the great end of his mission, was to preach the gospel of the kingdom and reveal the will of God; to confirm his doctrine by proper evidences, and establish his divine mission;" could he have given a more con

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »