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tators, the last passage quoted is interpreted in the same way.

But it will be said, although we do not find much in the Bible on the subject of Christ's obedience, very much is said respecting his righteousness, which amounts to the same thing. “This is the name wherewith he shall be called, The Lord our righteousness" (Jer. 23: 6). It is admitted that, in the matter of justification, much stress is laid, in the Scriptures, on the righteousness of Christ; but we do not admit that this is the same as his personal obedience, or holiness. The original words translated “obedience" and "righteousness,” are not the same, and not synonymous; neither is this true of the English words. Obedience to the law is the same as virtue or holiness in the general; while righteousness, in its original and proper signification, is justice, equity, honesty, rectitude, right. “He shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth” (Ps. 96: 13). “ With righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth.” “Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet, and the hail shall sweep away the refuges of lies” (Isa. 11:4. 28: 17). A principal source of error in regard to this subject has been the confounding of the terms obedience and righteousness, regarding them as of the same import, when they are not. Christ is not called, by the prophet, “Jehovah our obedience, but “ Jehovah our righteousness; that is, Jehovah through whom we are justified; without shutting us up to the notion of justification by the imputed obedience of the Saviour.

But it will be said, again, unless we consider the obedience of Christ as entering into the nature of the atonement, his atonement cannot be a full ground of justification. Justification involves, not merely a remission of the incurred penalty of the law, which is the same as forgiveness, but also a restoration to forfeited favor and happiness. And, although the mere sufferings of Christ may be a sufficient ground of the former, they are not so of the latter. We need the imputed obedience and merits of Christ to lay a foundation for our being restored; and hence his obedience must be regarded as constituting an essential part of the atonement.

This is not the place to go into a consideration of objections to the doctrine of justification by the imputed obedience and merits of Christ. We pass these over entirely; and would simply say, that the principal ground of difficulty on the subject seems to us to lie, in not rightly conceiving of the penalty of God's law. This penalty in its fullest extent, is both privative and positive. It involves the loss of God's favor, and the incurring of his displeasure ; the loss of the rest and happiness of heaven, and the endurance of eternal miseries in hell. Such is the full penalty of the law of God, for the removal of which the atonement of Christ furnishes the sufficient and only foundation. In procuring the salvation of those who embrace it, it removes the positive part of the penalty, so that they are no longer liable to suffer the pains of eternal death. It removes, also, the privative part, and thus restores them to the forfeited favor of God, and to the happiness of heaven. All this is implied in freeing the returning sinner from the full penalty of the law; or, which is the same, in forgiveness; using the term forgiveness in the widest sense. But forgiveness, in this sense, is the same, precisely, as justification; the one restoring the subject of it as much as the other. And so the case was regarded by the apostle Paul. He repeatedly speaks of forgiveness and justification as the same: “ Through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; and by him all that believe are justified from all things from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses” (Acts 13: 38). “Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation, through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins.” (Rom. 3: 24). “David also describeth the blessedness of the man unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works," or, which is the same, justifieth, " saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sin is covered (Rom. 4:6). The apostle here quotes from the thirty-second Psalm, in which David sets forth the blessedness of him who


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had humbly confessed his sins, and been forgiven, representing such an one as justified; which shows that, in Paul's theology, justification and forgiveness are the same.

Calvin and other eminent theologians have taught the same doctrine. “ The righteousness of faith,” says Calvin, “is a reconciliation with God, which consists solely in the remission of sins." “ The Lord cannot receive any one into favor or fellowship with himself, without making him, from a sinner, to be a righteous person. And this is accomplished by the remission of sins.” “It appears, then, that those whom God receives are made righteous no otherwise than as they are purified, by being cleansed from all their defilements, by the remission of their sins; so that such a righteousness may, in one word, be denominated a remission of sins.1

From these statements it appears, that justification and full forgiveness are the same; and hence the sufficiency of the sufferings and death of Christ to procure the one, as much as the other. And there is no need of bringing in the personal obedience of Christ, in order to make the atonement a sufficient ground of justification. His obedience or holiness is indispensably connected with the atonement, as before remarked; so indispensably, that without it no atonement could ever have been made. Still, the atonement itself consisted, not in the obedience of Christ, but in the shedding of his blood.

We are next to speak of the efficacy of Christ's death, or the manner in which it availed to make an atonement for sin.

Some have believed that, by suffering for us, Christ literally paid our debt to divine justice. So taught Anselm, in the twelfth century, and Aquinas in the thirteenth, and many others of later date, in both the Romish and Protestant churches. But to this theory, there are insuperable objections. In the first place, the demands of strict governmental justice against us are not of the nature of a debt, and cannot be cancelled as such. And then if they were, and if the atonement of Christ had cancelled them, we should owe

1 Institutes, Book iii. Chap. xi. Sect. 21.


nothing to the law. The law would no longer have any demands against us. We should need no forgiveness, nor would forgiveness be possible; as there would be nothing to be forgiven.

Some have said, that the death of Christ availed to make an atonement for sinners, not by paying a literal debt, but by his suffering for them the strict and proper penalty of the law. But to this statement there are insuperable objections. The first grows out of the very nature of the penalty in question. This is eternal death an eternal separation from God and all good, and the eternal destruction of body and soul in hell. It involves all the agonies of the bottomless pit; not the least part of which are the direct results of indulged sin, the indulgence of the most hateful, painful passions; the stings and reproaches of conscience; dissatisfaction with God and his government; and a perpetual, burning sense of his displeasure. Did our Saviour suffer all these, or any of them? Being perfectly holy, was it possible that he should ? How could such a being endure the pains of unsated malice, envy, and revenge? How could he suffer from the stings and reproaches of conscience? In other words, how could he suffer the pains and agonies of the bottomless pit, which go

to constitute the proper penalty of the law ?

But suppose that Christ did suffer all this. Suppose him to have suffered, not only as much as all his elect would suffer in hell forever, but the very same, "agony for agony, and

, groan for groan,” would he, even then, have suffered the proper

, penalty of the law ? Manifestly not; and for the very sufficient reason that he was not the transgressor of the law. The penalty of the law is denounced upon the transgressor, and upon no one else : “ In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.” “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” Such is the language which the law uses, in setting forth its penalty; and we see, from the very terms employed, that the penalty can fall upon none but the transgressor. Another may step in, and endure a full equivalent, and so make a full expiation; but he cannot endure the proper penalty, even though he should suffer in kind and amount the same.

There is yet another objection to the theory in question, the same as that before considered : If Christ has suffered the full penalty of the law for us, then the law has no further demands against us. We need no forgiveness, nor is forgiveness possible. There is nothing left to be forgiven. Forgiveness is a remission of the incurred penalty of the law. But the penalty, on the supposition, has all been endured. It no longer remains to be remitted. God will not exact it twice; nor can he remit it, when it is no longer due.

But it is argued, on the other side, that justice demands the full penalty of the law, which we, by transgression, have incurred; nor will it be satisfied with anything less. Hence, if justice is satisfied in the atonement of Christ, he must have suffered the full penalty of the law. But is justice of such a nature, that it can be satisfied with nothing but the infliction of the literal penalty? Does it admit of no substitute, no equivalent? Then it precludes, entirely and always, the exercise of mercy. The demands of justice must, on this ground, be violated, or mercy is impossible.

But we do not so understand the claims of justice; nor can they be so understood by any one who hopes in the mercy of the gospel. The demands of justice are answered, when its ends are answered; and these may be as fully answered by a substitute, as in the punishment of the transgressor. And when the ends of justice are thus met and answered; when the honor of the law is sustained, and the authority of the sovereign is fully vindicated; now there is room for the exercise of mercy; now the penalty of the law may be remitted, and no interest will suffer in consequence. The government is as strong in pardoning, as under other circumstances it would be in inflicting punishment. There is no injustice in treating sinners better than they deserve, when this can be done, in consistency with other objects and interests. Injustice rather consists in treating them worse than they deserve; a mode of treatment most abhorrent to all the ends and aims of the atonement, and which none will ever receive at the hands of God. It has been objected again to the views which have been VOL. XIII. No. 49.


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