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theories of satisfaction pass over the surface of theo. logy, and again retire, but not without leaving indelible traces behind them. First came the Origenist notion of a ransom paid to the Evil Spirit, which found its latest utterance in Peter Lombard, but was then already merging into the broader and more spiritual conception of a victory over sin, and therefore over him who is its author. After this followed the Anselmic conception of the necessity of an infinite satisfaction for an infinite debt, discussed in all its bearings throughout the scholastic period, and almost universally rejected, but finding new advocates at the Reformation, and becoming in their hands the basis of a system which has served first to distort, and then to alienate, the moral and religious convictions of a large section of Christendom. The scholastic controversy brought out with peculiar clearness that, while we have no right to assume that an adequate satisfaction was necessary, a satisfaction not only sufficient but superabundant has certainly been made, owing to the infinite worth, by virtue of the hypostatic union, of those human acts and sufferings which the Redeemer offered for the sins of His brethren as the Head and Representative of our race.
We cannot, again, say, except by a figure of speech, that our sins were imputed to Him, or that He who was sinless endured the wrath of God; still less, in the blasphemous language of several Lutheran divines, that He suffered the torments of the damned. Yet it is certain that His mental sufferings, which greatly ex
ceeded the bodily pains of the Passion, had an expiatory virtue, and that they were chiefly, though not exclusively, supernatural. As was said in a previous chapter, He was offering to the Eternal Father the one perfect act of contrition for the sins of His brethren, whose nature He had assumed ; He was making a general confession of the iniquities of all mankind, which He had taken upon Him, as though they were indeed His own. Nor is this true only of those incidents of the Passion which are crowded into the last twenty hours of His earthly ministry. Every act of that spotless life had a sacrificial power. It was at once a confession of the sins that had separated man from his Maker, and an intercession for the transgressors. And thus even those sufferings which might seem at first sight purely natural, as the awful solitude of which the Prophet spoke, or the contradiction’ foretold by Simeon and noticed in the Epistle to the Hebrews, have their supernatural side also. The Agony in the Garden and dereliction on the Cross represent, in the language of prophecy, an ocean of sorrow,' on whose shore we may stand, and gaze
down upon the waveless surface; but the depths below no created intelligence can fathom. Thus much, however, we may certainly discern; and it is needful to repeat it, because it has not unfrequently been denied —that the bitterness of His spiritual trial lay not merely in the treachery or coldness of His intimates, the foresight of His Passion, and the sorrow for His murderers' sin. The chalice that could not pass from
Him, the agony. Gabriel was powerless to console, meant more—far more—than that. The accumulated wickedness of all generations of mankind, in its fulness and its detail, not weighed in the scales of human judgment, but seen in the light of His Countenance before whom the heavens are unclean—the just wrath of the Allholy, not, indeed, against Him who was sinless, but against the sin which for us men, and as our Representative, He had in that supreme agony of meritorious contrition vouchsafed to make His own the sense of unutterable loneliness, as though (if one may venture to say so) the hypostatic union was being dissolved and He was to become one in will, as in nature, with the apostate creature who had forsaken God—these were the rebukes that broke His Heart, and wrung from His parched lips the loud and exceeding bitter cry that startled the gazers on Calvary. It was the hour of the power of darkness. The light of the Beatific Vision was shrouded, for so He willed; and in a sense most real, though passing human comprehension, Jesus received into His sinless consciousness the burden of our guilt, and learnt by experience, as He alone could learn, whose gaze alone could
measure the infinite descent," what it is to be shut out from the Eternal Love. When He brought in vision before one of His saints a venial sin in all its naked deformity, she swooned beneath the intolerable anguish. What must the contemplation of all sins,
' υπέρ ημών αμαρτίαν εποίησεν. 2 Cor. v. 20.
venial and mortal, of all generations of mankind have been to Him, who is not a Saint but the Living Source of Sanctity? The extremity of His suffering is attested, but not explained, by the cry of dereliction and the Sweat of Blood. We can but adore in silence the inscrutable secret of those unknown agonies,' the interior martyrdom sealed at last in death.
The controversies of the Reformation threw a fresh light on the subjective and moral aspects of the doctrine, and exhibited with peculiar distinctness the error of supposing that the Atonement wrought by Christ was to be understood as superseding our own satisfactions or obedience, instead of sanctifying and transforming them. This was in fact the question that lay at the root of the long disputes originated by Luther's teaching on justification, and the nature of justifying faith, while the other great school of Reformers brought into prominent notice the universality of redemption, as opposed to their own cherished theory of a deliverance wrought only for the elected few. The criticism of Socinus helped to expose the hollow. ness of all merely forensic schemes of satisfaction, and to remind Christian believers of the indissoluble connection between the Sacrifice and the Divinity of their Lord.
Another idea elicited in the course of discussion was, that in all probability the Son of God, 'the Firstborn of every creature,' would have assumed our nature, and sanctified it by personal indwelling, though we had needed no redemption. We could not have argued
à priori that He would come at all, or that, when we had fallen, He would come to die. We could not have told that the Incarnation of Jesus was to be the means of our union with the Godhead, or that our atonement, if atonement was needed, would be wrought out through His death. Nor can we tell with any certainty or completeness why it has been so now. The reasons lie deep in the counsels of Eternal Wisdom. We can but gaze, as it were, at the outer fringe of the curtains of His tabernacle, and from what we know of His dealings with us surmise something of that vaster mystery of the Divine Government which as yet is unrevealed. But looking back on what has actually occurred, with the light which revelation throws upon it, we may discern something, if not of the original causes of the Atonement, at least of its adaptation to our needs and the lessons it is designed to teach us. There is a fitness in the belief, that He, who is "the Brightness of the everlasting Light, the unspotted Mirror of God's majesty, and Image of His goodness,” would have come to make His delights with the children of men, even if they had persevered in their primal innocence. Still more does it seem natural to us that, when we had sinned, He should come, not only as our Brother, but our Redeemer, to make reparation for our sins, and consecrate afresh our fallen humanity in the baptism of sorrow and blood. Let us gather up some of the reflections which this view of the fitness of His atoning Passion suggests to us.
1. Pain, as has been already said, is the deepest and