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Persons of the Holy Trinity, which has sometimes been so strangely imported into the doctrine of the Atonement; as though the mind of the Father towards us were actually changed by the Sacrifice of Christ. I will give it in full, translating from the Greek; “God, the Master and Maker of all things, who created all things and disposed them in order, was not only a Lover of man, but also long-suffering; and He, indeed, was always such, and will be, gracious and good, and without anger (dépyrros), and true; and He alone is good, and conceived the great and ineffable design which He communicated only to His Son.” And again; “When our iniquity was full, and it was perfectly manifest that punishment and death were the expected recompense . . . He did not hate or repulse us, or think evil of us, but was long-suffering and bore with us, and took our sins upon Him (dveščato); He Himself gave up His Son as a ransom for us, the Holy for the unholy, the Sinless for the sinful, the Righteous for the unrighteous, the Incorruptible for the corruptible, the Immortal for the mortal. For what else but His righteousness could cover our sins? by whom could we, the lawless and impious, be justified, but only by the Son of God? O sweet change! O unsearchable work! O unexpected benefits! that the wickedness of many should be covered by one Righteous One, the righteousness of One justify many sinners!” I will merely observe, to preclude a possible misconception, that it would be to ignore the whole tenor of patristic theology, if we supposed the
imputation theory was intended in the concluding words. It is clearly a real change in ourselves that is spoken of, from sin to holiness, through the imparted grace of Christ.1
St. Justin Martyr, the great Christian apologist of the second century, is naturally led in his dispute with the Jew Trypho to enlarge on the death of Christ. He does not, however, construct any systematic theory on the subject; but his statements are important as incidentally contradicting some later theories. He speaks generally of Christ being incarnated, that He might be partaker of our sufferings, and heal them; but, in commenting on the great prophecy of the Passion he does not, like Luther afterwards, explain Isaiah's words, “ The discipline of our peace was upon Him,"2 of Christ being punished by God for our sins; and, so far from understanding St. Paul to mean that the curse of God rested upon Christ," he says expressly that it was by the Jews He was accursed: “ Ye maintain that He was rightly crucified, and an enemy of God and accursed, which is a work of your unreasonable judgment.” And again, more definitely: “The curse of the law lies upon crucified men, but the curse of God does not lie upon Christ, through whom He saves those worthy of curse;" and the Jews are reproached with calling Him ac
· As this statement has been called in question, I may refer my readers to Bähr in loc. (see Preface) for the proof of it.
? In the Septuagint, which Justin uses, maiôela ciphuns que@v, "disciplina pacis nostræ,” Vulg. The references are to the Dialogue against Trypho, and the Apologia.
3 Gal. iii. 13.
cursed whom God willed to take our curses upon Him, meaning to raise Him from the dead. There are other passages to the same effect; and the example of the scape-goat is explained, as by Barnabas before and Tertullian afterwards, of the curses of the people being laid upon Christ. Justin frequently alludes, as do nearly all writers after Ignatius, to the conquest over Satan as a consequence of the Passion, and in one passage, where he speaks of Christ having acquired pos. session of men (ktmadpuevos) by blood and the mystery of His Cross, he may even seem to hint at the view of a price paid to Satan, which we shall have to notice later in the writings of Irenaeus and Origen. He speaks of the restoration of our fallen nature through Christ, who suffered “to deliver us from the wickedness in which we were born,” and of His Blood “delivering those who believe on Him,” quoting the usual types of the Paschal sprinkling and Rahab's scarlet thread; and calls Him “a chosen Priest and eternal King,” fulfilling the type of Melchisedec. Clement of Alexandria may be regarded as the forerunner of that great theological school, taking its name from his native city, of which Origen was properly the founder. He does not, however, speak on this question with any special fulness or precision, and adds little to what had already been said by others. The sufferings of Christ are attributed to his exceeding love for man; He is “a Sacrifice acceptable to God;” and is else
' Clem. Alex. Strom. 7, Paedag. 5.
where called “the Passover sacrificed (valdcepevdeis) by the Jews.” The conquest over the serpent, whose form is taken to symbolize sensual pleasure, is spoken of in language which deserves to be quoted: “How did pleasure prevail ? Man, who had been set free by simplicity, was found bound to sins; the Lord wished to release him again from his chains; and being bound to flesh (a Divine mystery) in this He overcame the serpent, and took captive the tyrant and death, and, what is strangest, with hands stretched out [on the cross] showed man set free who had been led astray by pleasure and chained to corruption. O mystical wonder! The Lord lay down and man rose; and he who was cast out of Paradise receives heaven, a greater prize than his obedience could have won." The last words, which sound like an echo of the O felix culpa chanted in the Paschal anthem, are the earliest distinct intimation, so far as I am aware, of our having gained more by the Incarnation than we had lost by the Fall. It will be observed, that the obedience of Christ is the point here chiefly dwelt upon, and to which the victory over the Evil One and our redemption is ascribed. Elsewhere the writer says that He “changed the sunset to the sunrise, and by His Cross turned death into life;" ? and again, that “the Blood of the Lord is twofold; the fleshly, by which we were redeemed from corruption,
1 Ib. Protr. 69.
2 ούτος την δύσιν εις ανατολήν μετήγαγεν, και τον θάνανον εις ζωήν ανεσταύρωσεν. .
and the spiritual, by which we were anointed;” and, lastly, Jesus is said to pray for men as the Great High Priest of God. Some fragments only remain of Claudius Apollinaris, Bishop of Hierapolis in Phrygia in the second century. He calls our Lord, “the Great Sacrifice, the Son of God instead of the Paschal Lamb, who was bound and bound the strong one (Satan), who was judged being Judge of quick and dead, who was delivered into the hands of sinners to be crucified, who poured from His Side the two things which cleanse, water and blood, mind and spirit” (Adyov kai Tveijua). This accords, as far as it goes, with contemporary writers, but obviously the passage is rather rhetorical than dogmatic. There is nothing specially bearing on our subject in the writings of the apologists Tatian, Athenagoras, and Theophilus. And so we pass from the second to the third century, and from the Eastern to the Western Church. I have purposely omitted Irenaeus, whose treatment of the question shall be examined with Origen's, to which it bears a close resemblance, at the end of this chapter. Tertullian was the great Latin writer of the early part of the third century. And it may be worth observing, that, from his having before his conversion been famous as a jurist, he, if any one, would be likely to put forward the juridical theory of satisfaction which at a later period commended itself so