Page images
[ocr errors]

Again" For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing than for evil doing; for, Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for (or, instead of) the unjust,* that he might bring us to God:" iii, 17, 18.

The apostle John has written on this subject, in a manner equally explicit. After reciting the words of Caiaphas, "It is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not❞—the apostle adds, "And this spake he not of himself; but being high-priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; and not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad :" John xi, 50 -52. In his first Epistle he says, "If we walk in the light, as he (God) is in the light...... the blood of Jesus Christ his son cleanseth us from all sin :" 1 John i, 7. Again"These things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous and he is the propitiation (or atonement)† for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world:" ii, 1, 2. Again-" "In this was manifested the love of God towards us, because that God sent his only-be

[ocr errors]

* Sinasos üzèg àdinav" the just instead of the unjust." The preposition rig has sometimes the force of avrì, signifying vice, loco: see Philem. 13: comp. Eurip. Alcestes, 705. That this is the sense of mig, in this passage, is evinced by the evident antithesis between fixalos and asínov, and that particle, as applied to the vicarious sacrifice of Christ, may probably have the same meaning in Rom. v, 6, 8.

tinaouis, propitiation or atonement. The meaning of this word is far too clear to be mistaken. Ianval, is to be kind or propitious; see Odyss. Hom. iii, 380. 'Axλà ävaco' inndi sé μor." But, O queen, be propitious to me." "Inάoxav active, and ixáoxoa middle, is to propitiate, or make expiation for sin. So, in Heb. ii, 17, Jesus Christ is said ἱλάσκεσθαι τὰς ἁμαρτίας τοῦ λαοῦ “to make reconciliation (or more properly to make an atonement) for the sins of the people.” Inaròs, the substantive derived from these verbs, is properly the act of propitiating; but more usually, the sin-offering or expiatory sacrifice by which propitiation is effected. Thus, in the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, it answers to the Hebrew words, as a trespassoffering, non a sin-offering, an atonement: vide Trommii Conc. Schleusner's explanation of this substantive is quite in point: he says that it signifies, 1st. Propitiatio, expiațio, seu actio quâ læsus et offensus placatur; and 2ndly, Id quod vim expiandi habet, is, qui expiat, sacrificium pro peccatis, expiandis oblatum, victima expiatoria: vide lex. in voc. In Rom. iii, 25, the word denoting propitiation is inaongov, which is best understood as an adjective, agreeing with Dua or isgeiov (a sacrifice) understood; in which sense the word is used by Josephus, in Mac. 18; see Magee on Atonement, 3rd ed. i, 222.

[ocr errors]

gotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love; not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation (or atonement) for our sins:" iv, 9, 10. The strength and cogency of these simple, yet full, declarations of Christian doctrine will be allowed by every candid inquirer after scriptural truth. So also, in the Revelation, the blood of Christ is repeatedly mentioned as that which redeems from the penalties, and cleanses from the guilt, of sin. "And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof, for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation:" v, 9. "What are these which are arrayed in white robes ? and whence came they?. . . . . . These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God," &c.: Rev. vii, 13-15: comp. i, 5.

In presenting to the reader the testimony of the apostle Paul to a doctrine which he evidently considered as the very basis of Christian truth, I shall for the present make no citations from the Epistle to the Hebrews. The following passages, selected from his other Epistles (in addition to Rom. iii, 23— 26, already quoted) I consider to be of a very satisfactory and conclusive character. "When we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For, scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die but God commendeth his love towards us, in that, while we were sinners, Christ died for us. Much more, then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him : Rom. v, 6-9. "For I delivered unto you, first of all, that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures:" 1 Cor. xv, 3. "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them . . . . . For



*The Greek verbs which express "reconciliation," are diaλnáσov, καταλλάσσειν, ἀποκαταλλάσσειν, all of which signify generally, to change,-commutare, permutare; and thence, more particularly, to change enemies into friends; to reconcile and bring into a state of peace, parties previously hostile. When two parties, at variance with each other, are thus brought into a state of peace; if one is the offended, the other the offending, party, the expressions under consideration are applicable to either of them, and each may be properly said "to be reconciled" (dannaccio Dai, nararnooiodai) to the other. These verses are applied to the offended party in some passages of the Apocrypha; (vide 2 Mac. i, 5. vii, 33; 1 Esdras iy, 31 ;) in all which instances, "to be reconciled" signifies" to be appeased."


he hath made him to be sin (or a sin-offering)* for us, who knew no sin, that we- might be made the righteousness of God in him :" 2 Cor. v, 19-21. "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us : for it is written, cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree" Gal. iii, 13. "Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God, for a sweet-smelling savour: Eph. v, 2. "(God) hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son, in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:..... for it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell and (having made peace through the blood of his cross) by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things on earth, or things in heaven: and you that were some time alienated, and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled, in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable, and unreprovable, in his sight:" Col. i, 13, 14. 19-22. "For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself A RANSOM FOR ALL, to be testified in due time:" 1 Tim. ii, 5, 6, comp. Acts xx, 28: Rom, viii, 3: Eph. v, 25-27 : Tit. ii, 14, &c. &c.

When we contemplate the very numerous spiritual declarations.

In other instances, however, "reconciliation" is predicated of the offending party, and imports "a restoration to favor:" vide Sept. Vers. of 1 Sam. xxix, 4. Καὶ ἐν τίνι διαλλαγήσεται οὗτος τῷ Κυρίῳ αὐτοῦ;

"And how shall this man be reconciled to his master," or "restored to his master's favour?" Matt. v, 24, rgurov diarλáyndi tô ådenpp σou, x. T. λ. "If thy brother have ought against thee-first be reconciled unto thy brother," &c. On the same principle God is represented in 2 Cor. v, 19, as reconciling (xaranλdowv) sinners to himself, "not imputing their trespasses unto them;" and sinners are described as being reconciled to God, because they are brought into a condition of peace with him, and restored to his favor. So Schleusner in voc. xarannάoow. “ Deus autem dicitur καταλλάσσειν ἀνθρώπους ἑαυτῷ, dum veniam peccatorum dat, et homines modum ac rationem consequendi favorem suum docet. Homines autem dicuntur xararraccio das r & quatenus habent Deum propitium et immunes sunt apœnis peccatorum :" vide Magee on the Atonement, vol. i, p. 203.

* åμagría, sin-for sin-offering. This is a common change of meaning in Hebrew, as has already been noticed respecting the word non; and the Hebraism is very naturally transferred by the apostle to the Greek word aμagría, which corresponds with non. Auagria signifies a sin-offering in the Septuagint version of Lev. v, 9; vi, 25; and probably, iv, 8; xiv, 19: also in Heb. ix, 28. So xúdagua in classical Greek, signifies both the pollution and the expiatory offering.

which have now been adduced respecting the Christian doctrine of atonement, we cannot fail to be struck with the variety, as well as with the force and harmony, of the terms in which that doctrine is expressed. Jesus Christ is set forth as carrying our sorrows, as bearing on himself the burthen of our iniquities, as procuring for us the forgiveness of sins and reconciliation with the Father, through his death; as giving himself for us; as giving his life a ransom for us; as suffering and dying, not only for our sakes, but instead of us; as a sin-offering, as a passover sacrifice; as a propitiation, or atoning sacrifice; as purchasing us with a price; as undergoing for us an exacted penalty; as made a curse for us; as redeeming us from the curse of the law; as cleansing us, washing us, from our sins, in his blood.

It will be observed, that these terms are, in general, sacrificial, and, with a due allowance for their superior fulness, variety, and strength, they may be considered as closely corresponding with the phraseology which, in the Old Testament, is applied to the typical ordinances of sacrifice prescribed by the Jewish law. When, however, we recur to the books of Moses, for the assistance which they obviously afford us in the interpretation of some of these terms, we ought always to bear in mind, that the law is the shadow and figure-Christ the substance and reality; and, while there is an admirable analogy to be observed between the leading features of the Jewish sacrificial ordinances and the one great sacrifice of Christ, it follows, from the very nature of that analogy, that the terms now alluded to assume a far deeper and more extensive significance, when they are applied to the Mediator of the New Covenant, than can possibly be attributed to them when they are descriptive only of the types and ceremonies, the priests and victims, of the Mosaic institution. In order to the elucidation of this remark, we may briefly advert to a few plain particulars, in which there are to be observed at once a perfect analogy and an essential and sometimes infinite difference between the sacrifices of the law and the sacrifice of Christ, and between their respective circumstances and consequences.

The victims, offered under the law, were free from all external blemish or spot: Christ, the great sacrifice of the Gospel dispensation, was sinless, absolutely devoid of all moral pollution. The blood, or life, of the burnt-offerings, the peace-offerings, and the sin-offerings, atoned for the ceremonial and legal offences, of the ancient Israelites: the blood, or life, of Jesus Christ, who offered himself to God on the cross, atoned for the moral iniquities of the "whole world." In a merely figura


tive and ceremonial point of view, the animals slain in sacrifice at the temple, and the goat who escaped to the wilderness, bare the pollutions of those who offered them but it was in deed and in truth that Jesus "bare our sins in his own body on the tree." The animals sacrificed under the Jewish ritual were vicarious sufferers, because they underwent that physical death which the strictness of the Mosaic law would else have required to be inflicted on the erring Israelites themselves: Jesus Christ was a vicarious sufferer, because his death on the cross was graciously undergone by him, and as graciously accepted by the Father, in the place of that everlasting death, to which all men would otherwise have been exposed, as the certain punishment and legitimate consequence of sin. The sacrifices of the law were rites of reconciliation, inasmuch as they were the appointed means of restoring offenders to the privileges of that polity and worship, over which God himself condescended to preside: but it is through the sacrifice of Christ that men are truly reconciled to the Father, because through faith in its saving efficacy they are reinstated in his spiritual favor, and are enabled to hold a peaceful communion with him, in filial love. The former procured for the Jews some important external privileges, both of a civil and of a religious nature: the latter has obtained, for all men who believe and obey, unsullied, unutterable, and eternal, happiness.

On the whole, then, the sacrifices of the law, in a figurative and subordinate sense, were a ransom, an atonement, a propitiation, for the people. But these terms, and others of the same general import, are applicable far more precisely, and in a sense very much more substantial and comprehensive, to the sacrifice of Christ. While, therefore, it is not to be denied that information respecting Christian doctrine may sometimes be derived from the figures of the Jewish ritual, we ought, in our perusal of Scripture, always to remember that the Gospel is not to be explained by the law, but the law by the Gospel.

Having premised these observations on the comparative significance of sacrificial terms, as they are applied respectively to the offerings of the Mosaic institution, and to the offering of Jesus Christ, I may proceed to complete the series of evidence to be adduced on the present subject, by citing some parts of the Epistle to the Hebrews-a treatise in which the analogy between the shadows of the law and the great realities of the Gospel, together with the natural unprofitableness of the former, and the essential virtue of the latter, are insisted on with such clearness and precision as must forever preclude all

« PreviousContinue »