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rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt-offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you, for him will I accept.” Job xlii. 7, 8. He loved them when he directed the way that they might be restored to his favour; yet he was not reconciled, for then there had been no need of sacrifices to atone his anger,
It is further objected, that supposing the satisfaction of Christ to justice, both the freeness and greatness of God's love in pardoning sinners will be much lessened. But it will appear that the divine mercy is not prejudiced in either of those respects.
The freeness of God's love is not diminished; for that is the original mover in our salvation, and hath no cause above it to excite or draw it forth, but arises merely from his own will. This love is so absolute, that it hath no respect to the sufferings of Christ as Mediator; for “God so loved the world, that he gave his Son” to die for us: and that which is the effect and testimony of his love, cannot be the impulsive cause of it. This first love of God to man is commended to us in Christ, who is the medium to bring it honourably about. Grace, in scripture, is never opposed to Christ's merits, but to ours. If we had made satisfaction, justice itself had absolved us; for the law having two parts, the command of our duty which consists in a moral good, and the sanction of the punishment that is a physical evil, to do or to suffer is necessary, not both: or if we had provided a surety, such as the judge could not reject, we had been infinitely obliged to him, but not to the favour of the Judge.But it is otherwise here. God sent the Reconciler when we were enemies, and the pardon that is dispensed to us upon the account of his sufferings, is the effect of mere mercy.We are "justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ,” Rom. iii. 24. It is pure love that appointed and accepted, that imputés and applies, his righteousness to us.
And as the freeness, so the riches of his mercy, is not lessened by the satisfaction Christ made for us. It is true we have a pattern of God's justice, never to be paralleled, in the death of Christ: but to the severity of justice towards his only beloved Son, his clemency towards us guilty rebels is fully commensurate; for he pardons us without the expense of one drop of our blood, though the soul of Christ was poured forth as an offering for sin. Nay, hereby the divine clemency is more commended, than by an absolute fórgiveness of sin without respect to satisfaction; for the honour of God being concerned in the punishment of sin, that man might not continue under a sad obligation to it, he was pleased, by the astonishing wonder of his Son's death, to vindicate his glory, that repenting believers may be justified before him. Thus in an admirable manner he satisfies justice and exalts mercy; and this could have been no other way effected; for if he had by mere sovereignty dissolved our guilt, and by his Spirit renewed his image in us, his love had eminently appeared, but his justice had not been glorified. But in our redemption they are both infinitely magnified: his love could give no more than the life of his Son, and justice required no less; for death being the “ wages of sin,” there could be no satisfaction without the death of our Redeemer.
THE JUSTICE OF GOD IN REDEMPTION.
III. The next thing to be considered, is the completeness of the satisfaction that Christ hath made, by which it will appear that God's justice as well as mercy is fully glorified in his sufferings. For the proof of this I will consider the causes from whence the completeness of his satisfaction arises, and the effects that proceed from it, which are convincing evidences that God is fully appeased.
1. The causes of his complete satisfaction are two.
(1.) The quality of his person derives an infinite value to his obedient sufferings. Our Surety was equally God, and as truly infinite in his perfections, as the Father who was provoked by our sins; therefore he was able to make satisfaction for them. He is the Son of God, not merely in virtue of his office or the special favour of God, for on such account that title is communicated to others; but his only Son by nature. The sole prè-eminence in gifts and dignity would give him the title of “the first born,” but not deprive them of the quality of brethren.
Now the wisdom and justice of all nations agree, that punishments receive their estimate from the quality of the persons that suffer. The poet observes, “Pluris enim decii,
quàm qui servantur ab illis," Juvenal; that the death of a virtuous person is more precious than of legions. Of what inestimable value then is the death of Christ, and how worthy a ransom for lost mankind ! For although the Deity is impassible, yet he that was a divine person suffered. A king suffers more than a private person, although the strokes directly inflicted on his body cannot immediately reach his honour. And it is specially to be observed, that the efficacy of Christ's blood is ascribed to his divine nature: this the apostle declares; “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins, who is the image of the invisible God;" not an artificial image which imperfectly represents the original, as a picture that sets forth the colour and figure of a man, but not his life and nature; but the essential and exact image of his Father, that expresses all his glorious perfections in their immensity and eternity, Col. i. 14. This is testified expressly in Heb. i. 3; the Son of God, “the brightness of his glory and the express image of his person, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the majesty on high.” From hence arises the infinite difference between the sacrifices of the law and Christ's in the value and virtue. This with admirable emphasis is set down in Heb. ix. 13, 14; “For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh; how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your consciences from dead works to serve the living God ?" Wherein the apostle makes a double hypothesis,—that the legal sacrifices were ineffectual to purify from real guilt—that by their typical cleansing, they signified the washing away of moral guilt by the blood of Christ.
Their insufficiency to expiate sin, appears, if we consider the subject. Sin is to be expiated in the same nature wherein it was committed. Now the beasts are of an inferior rank, and have no communion with man in his nature. Or if we consider the object, God was provoked by sin, and he is a spirit, and not to be appeased by gross material things. His wisdom requires that a rational sacrifice should expiate the guilt of a rational creature: and justice is not satisfied without a proportion between the guilt and the punishment. This weakness and insufficiency of the legal sacrifices to expiate sin, is evident from their variety and repetition: for if full
remission had been obtained, "the worshippers once purged, should have had no more conscience of sin," Heb. x. 2. It was the sense of guilt, and the fear of condemnation, that required the renewing of the sacrifice. Now under the law, the ministry of the priests never came to a period or perfection. The millions of sacrifices in all ages from the erecting of the tabernacle to the coming of Christ, had not virtue to expiate one sin. They were only shadows which could give no refreshment to the inflamed conscience, but as they depended on Christ, the body and substance of them. But the Son of God, who “offered himself up by the eternal Spirit to the Father,” is a sacrifice not only intelligent and reasonable, but incomparably more precious than the most noble creatures in earth or in heaven itself. He was priest and sacrifice in respect of both his natures; his entire person was the offerer and offering: therefore the apostle from the excellency of his sacrifice, infers the unity of its oblation, and from thence concludes its efficacy. Christ, not "by the blood of bulls and goats, but by his own blood, entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us," Heb. ix. 12; and, “By one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified,” Heb. x. 14. Upon this account God promised in the new covenant, that “their sins and iniquities” he would “remember no more," having received complete satisfaction by the sufferings of his Son, it is now said, that “once in the end of the world hath he appeared, to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto all men once to die, but after this judgment; so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many, and unto them that look for him, shall he appear the second time without sin,” Heb. ix. 26—28. As there is no other natural death to suffer between death and judgment, so there is no other propitiatory sacrifice between his all-sufficient death on the cross and the last coming of our Redeemer.
There is one consideration I shall add, to show the great difference between legal sacrifices and the death of Christ, as to its saving virtue. The law absolutely forbids the eating of blood, and the people's tasting of the sin-offerings, to signify the imperfection of those sacrifices: for since they were consumed in their consecration to God's justice, and nothing was left for the nourishment of the offerers, it was a sign they could not appease God. The offerers had communion with them when they brought them to the altar, and in a manner derived their guilt to them, but they had no virtue by them in coming from it. The sinner conveyed death to the sacrifice, but did not receive life from it. But Christ, the Lamb of God, was not swallowed up in his offering to divine justice. It is his peculiar glory that he hath completely made satisfaction. We may feed upon the flesh of this precious victim, and drink his blood. As he entered into communion of death with us, so we are partakers of life by him.
(2.) The completeness of his satisfaction is grounded on the degrees of his sufferings. There was no defect in the payment he made. We owed a debt of blood to the law, and his life was offered up as a sacrifice; otherwise the law had remained in its full vigour, and justice had been unsatisfied. That a divine person hath suffered our punishment, is properly the reason of our redemption; as it is not the quality of the surety that releases the debtor from prison, but the payment which he makes in his name. The blood of Christ shed, poured forth from his veins, and offered up to God, in that precise consideration, ratifies the new testament, Matt. xxvi. 28.
The sum is—our Saviour by his death suffered the malediction of the law, and his divine nature gave a full value to his sufferings, so that the satisfaction proceeding from them was not merely ex pacto,” as brass money is current by composition, but " ex merito,” as pure gold hath an intrinsic worth ; and God who was infinitely provoked, is infinitely pleased.
2. The effects and evidences of his complete satisfaction are,
(1.) His resurrection from the grave; for if we consider the Lord Christ in the quality of our Surety, he satisfied the law in his death ; and having made complete payment of our debt, he received acquittance in his resurrection. His death appeased God, his resurrection assures men. As he rose himself, so in one concurrent action God is said to raise him, Rom. vi. 4. He was released from the grave, as from prison, by public sentence; which is an indubitable argument of the validity and acceptance of the payment made by him in our name: for being under such bonds as the justice and power of God, he could never have loosed the pains of death, if his sufferings had not been fully satisfactory, and received by him for our discharge. And it is observable,