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exhibited the sincerity of his regard for the law, because selfdenial is the strongest proof of sincerity: I answer, that his consent to become a subject, and all the parts of his obedience, involved self-denial also: less, apparently at least, in degree; but the same in kind. Should it be said, that the sufferings of Christ were a testimony of God's displeasure against sin, and of the righteousness of the penalty denounced against it: I answer, so is his obedience equally a testimony of God's complacency in the precepts of the law, and the righteousness of requiring his intelligent creatures to obey them. Should it be said, that his sufferings were inflictions from the hand of God: I answer, that his obedience was required by God, and was therefore equally a testimony of his pleasure. Finally, should it be said, that Christ's obedience was voluntary; I answer, that his sufferings were equally voluntary ; otherwise, they would never have existed; or, if we suppose them to have existed, would have had no efficacy. Upon the whole, the attempts made to discriminate between these parts of Christ's mediation, and to assign to each its exact proportion of influence in the economy of redemption, seem to me to have been very partially successful. V. I shall now in a few words, consider the extent of Christ's atonement. On this subject I observe, 1. The atonement of Christ was complete. By this I mean, that it was such as to vindicate the law, government, and character of God. This we know, because Christ repeatedly declared, that his work was finished; because it was appointed and accepted of God, as we are assured by the many testimonies of his approbation given to Christ; and because the Spirit of grace descended in a glorious manner on the day of Pentecost, to carry the design of it into execution. 2. The degree of suffering which Christ underwent in making this atonement, was far inferior to that which will be experienced by an individual sufferer beyond the grave. It will not be supposed, as plainly it cannot, that Christ suffered in his divine nature. Nor will it be believed that any created nature could, in that short space of time, suffer what would be equivalent to even a slight distress extended through eternity.
3. The atonement of Christ was still of infinite value.
The atonement of Christ, great as his distresses were, did
not derive its value principally from the degree in which he experienced them, but from the infinite greatness and excellency of his character. Although the divine nature is necessarily unsuffering ; yet, in this case, it exactly coincided in its dictates with all the conduct of the created mind of Christ and lent to that conduct its own infinite weight and worth.
4. The atonement of Christ was sufficient in its ertent to open the door for the pardon of all human sinners.
This doctrine is so often and so plainly declared in the Scriptures, that I am supprised to find a doubt concerning it entertained by any man. “Who gave himself,’ says St. Paul, “a ransom for all, to be testified in due time:’ and again, ‘Who is the Saviour of all men, especially of them that believe.’ ‘He is the propitiation for our sins,’ says St. John, ‘ and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.' It is needless any farther to multiply passages to this effect.
When this Discourse was first written, disputes concerning the extent of the atonement had not openly appeared in this country; and I did not suppose it to be necessary to canvass the question with any particularity. The length of the present Discourse forbids me to dwell upon the subject now ; yet I will very briefly suggest two or three arguments for the consideration of my audience.
1. If the atonement of Christ consisted in making such amends for the disobedience of man as should place the law, government, and character of God in such a light, that he could forgive sinners of the human race, without any inconsistency; then these amends, or this atonement, were all absolutely necessary, in order to render such forgiveness proper, or consistent with the law and character of God in a single instance. The forgiveness of one sinner without these amends, would be just as much a contradiction to the declarations of the law, as the forgiveness of a million. If, then, the amends actually made were such that God could consistently forgive one sinner, he might with equal consistency and propriety forgive any number, unless prevented by some other reason. The atonement, in other words, which was necessary for a world, was equally necessary, and in just the same manner and degree, for an individual sinner. 2. The atonement was by the infinite dignity and excellence of the Redeemer rendered infinitely meritorious. But it cannot be denied, that an infinitely meritorious atonement is sufficient for all the apostate children of Adam. 3. If the atonement of Christ consisted in suffering what those for whose sins he atoned deserved to suffer, his mediation did not lessen the evils of the apostasy. All the difference which it made in the state of things was, that he suffered in the stead of those whom he came to redeem, and suffered the same miseries which they were condemned to suffer. In other words, an innocent being suffered the very misery which the guilty should have suffered. Of course there is in the divine kingdom just as much misery, with the mediation of Christ, as there would have been without it; and nothing is gained by this wonderful work, but the transfer of this misery from the guilty to the innocent. 4. If Christ has not made a sufficient atonement for others beside the elect, then his Salvation is not offered to them at all, and they are not guilty for not receiving it. But this is contrary to the whole tenour of the Gospel, which everywhere exhibits sinners as greatly guilty for rejecting Christ. Yet if Christ be not offered to them, they cannot be guilty of rejecting him. 5. The Gospel, or glad tidings published by Christ, is said to be good tidings unto all people. But, if there be no atonement made for the sins of all people, the Gospel, instead of being good news to them, is not addressed to them at all. 6. Ministers are required to preach faith, as well as repentance, to all sinners as their duty. But if no atonement has been made for their sins, they cannot believe ; for to them Christ is in no sense a Saviour, and therefore not even a possible object of their faith. Should it be asked, Why, then, are not all men pardoned 2 I answer, Because all mankind do not evangelically believe in this atonement, and its author. No man is pardoned merely because of the atonement made by Christ; but because of his own acceptance also of that atonement, by faith. The way is open, and equally open, to all; although all may not be equally inclined to walk in it. The proffers of pardon on the very same conditions are made, with equal sincerity and kindness, to every man. He who does not accept them, therefore ought to remember that nothing stands in his way, but his own impenitence and un
T H E PRI E S T H O O D OF C H R IST :
O B J E CTIONS ANSWER ED.
bel NG JUstified FREELY BY HIS GRAce TH Rough the REDEMP_
TION THAT IS IN CHRIST JESUS. WHOM GOD HATH SET FORTH
to be A Propiti Ation, through FAITH IN His blood, To De
clare his Righteous Ness for the ReMission of sINs that
ARE PAst, through the Forbear ANce of God. to Declare,
I say, AT THIS TIME, HIS RIGHTEOUSNEss; THAT H E MIGHT be Just, ANd the Justifier of HIM which believeth IN Jesus. ROMANS III. 24–26.
HAv ING finished the observations which I intended concerning the atonement of Christ, as proofs of its existence, and explanations of its nature; I shall now proceed to consider some objections to this doctrine; and to suggest several practical remarks to which it naturally gives birth. Among the objections alleged against this doctrine, I select the following, as particularly deserving attention. 1. It is objected, that a vicarious atonement for sin is not consistent with the dictates of reason. “The sin,” it is observed, “is ours; and cannot belong to another. Whatever atonement is to be made ought, therefore, to be made by us: particularly such an atonement, as is here