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Why, then, is it strange, when God thus ushers us into existence through the pain and toil of another, that he should convey the blessings of a higher existence by the groans and pangs of a higher mediator? God gives us knowledge. But does he come forth to teach us by inspiration, or guide us by his own hand to the fountains of wisdom? It is by years of patient toil in others, that we possess the elements of science, the principles of morals, the endowments of religion. He gives us food and raiment. Is the Great Parent of benevolence seen clothing us by his own hand, or ministering directly to our wants? Who makes provision for the sons and daughters of feebleness or gayety or idleness? Who but the care-worn and anxious father and mother, who toil that their offspring may receive these benefits from their hands? Why, then, may not the garments of salvation, and the manna of life, come through a higher mediator, and be the fruit of severer toil and sufferings? Heaven's highest, richest benefits are thus conveyed to the race through thousands of hands acting as mediums between man and God. It is thus, through the instrumentality of others, that the Great Giver of life breathes health into our bodies and vigour into our frames. And why should he not reach also the sick and weary mind—the soul languishing under a long and wretched disease, by the hand of a mediator? Why should he not kindle the glow of spiritual health on the wan cheek, and infuse celestial life into our veins, by Him who is the great physician of souls? The very earth, air, waters, are all channels for conveying blessings to us from God. Why, then, should the infidel stand back, and all sinners frown, when we claim the same thing in redemption, and affirm, that, in this great concern, "there is one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all ?"
But still it may be said, that this is not an atonement. We admit it. We maintain only that it vindicates the main
principle of the atonement, and shows that it is according to a general law, that God imparts spiritual blessings to us through a mediator. What, we ask, is the precise objectionable point in the atonement, if it be not, that God aids us in our sins and woes, by the self-denial and sufferings of another? And we ask, whether there is any thing so peculiar in such a system, as to make it intrinsically absurd and incredible? Now we think there is nothing more universal and indisputable than a system of nature like this. God has made the whole animal world tributary to man. And it is by the toil and pain of creation that our wants are supplied, our appetites gratified, our bodies sustained, our sickness alleviated; that is, the impending evils of poverty, famine, or disease are put away by these substituted toils and privations. By the blood of patriots he gives us the blessings of liberty; that is, by their sufferings in our defence we are delivered from the miseries of rapine, murder, or slavery, which might have encompassed our dwellings. The toil of a father is the price by which a son is saved from ignorance, depravity, want, or death. The tears of a mother, and her long watchfulness, save from the perils of infancy, and an early death. Friend aids friend by toil; a parent foregoes rest for a child; and the patriot pours out his blood on the altars of freedom, that others may enjoy the blessings of liberty; that is, that others may not be doomed to slavery, want, and death.
Yet still it may be said, that we have not come, in the analogy, to the precise point of the atonement, in producing reconciliation with God by the sufferings of another.. We ask, then, what is the Scripture account of the effect of the atonement in producing reconciliation? Man is justly exposed to suffering. He is guilty, and it is the righteous purpose of God that the guilty should suffer. God is so opposed to him, that he will inflict suffering on him unless by an atonement it is prevented. By the intervention of the atonement, there
fore, the Scriptures affirm that such sufferings shall be averted. The man shall be saved from the impending calamity. Sufficient for all the purposes of justice, and of just government, has fallen on the substitute, and the sinner may be pardoned and reconciled to God. Now, we affirm, that in every instance of the substituted sufferings, or self-denial, of the parent, the patriot, or the benefactor, there occurs a state of things so analogous to this, as to show that it is in strict accordance with the just government of God, and to remove all the objections to the peculiarity of the atonement. Over a helpless babe-ushered into the world naked, feeble, speechless, there impends hunger, cold, sickness, sudden deatha mother's watchfulness averts these evils. Over a nation impend, revolutions, sword, famine, and the pestilence. The blood of the patriot averts these, and the nation smiles in peace. Look at a particular instance. Xerxes poured his millions on the shores of Greece. The vast host darkened all the plains, and stretched towards the capitol. In the train there followed weeping, blood, conflagration, and the loss of liberty. Leonidas almost alone stood in his path. He fought. Who can calculate the effects of the valour and blood of that single man and his compatriots in averting calamities. from Greece, and from other nations struggling in the cause of freedom? Who can tell how much of rapine, of cruelty, and of groans and tears it turned away from that nation?
Now we by no means affirm that this is all that is meant by an atonement as revealed by Christianity. We affirm only, that there is a sufficient similarity in the two cases, to remove the points of objection to an atonement made by the infidel, to show that reconciliation by the offerings of another, or a putting away evils by the intervention of a mediator, is not a violation of the analogies of the natural and moral world. Indeed, we should have thought it an argument VOL. I.
for the rejection of a system, if it had not contemplated the removal of evils by the toils and pains of substitution. We maintain that the system of the Unitarians, which denies all such substitution, is a violation of all the modes in which God has yet dispensed his blessings to men. In the nature of the case, there is all the antecedent presumption there could be, that, if God intended to confer saving blessings on mankind, it would be by the interposition of the toils, groans, and blood of a common mediating friend. The well-known case of the King of the Locrians, is only an instance of the way in which reconciliation is to be brought about among men. He made a law that the adulterer should be punished with the loss of his eyes. His son was the first offender. The feelings of the father and the justice of the king conflicted. Reconciliation was produced by suffering the loss of one eye himself, and inflicting the remainder of the penalty on his son.
But still, there are two points in the atonement so well substantiated, and yet apparently contradictory, that it becomes an interesting inquiry, whether both positions can find an analogy in the course of events. The first is, that the atonement was originally applicable to all men-that it was not limited by its nature to any class of men, or any particular individuals--that it was an offering made for the race,* and is, when made, in the widest and fullest sense, the property of man; and the second is, that it is actually applied to only a portion of the race, and that it was the purpose of God that it should be so applied.†
Now in regard to the first aspect of the atonement suggested, we can no more doubt that it had this original, uni
*2 Cor. v. 14, 15; 1 John ii. 2; Heb. ii. 9; John iii. 16, 17; vi. 51; 2 Peter ii. 1.
† Isa. liii. 10; John xvii. 2; Eph. i. 3-11; Rom. viii. 29, 30; ix. 15–24; John vi. 37, 39; 2 Tim. i. 9.
versal applicability, than we can any of the plainest propositions of the Bible. If this is not clear, nothing can be clear in the use of the Greek and English tongues-and we discern in this, we think, a strict accordance with the ordinary provisions which God has made for man. We look at any of his gifts--from the smallest that makes life comfortable, to the richest in redemption, and we shall not find one that in its nature, is limited in its applicability to any class of individuals. The sun on which we look sheds his rays on all--on all alike; the air we breathe has an original adaptation to all who may inhale it, and is ample for the want of any number of millions. From the light of the feeblest star, to full-orbed day; from the smallest dew-drop, to the mountain-torrent; from the blushing violet, to the far-scented magnolia; there is an original applicability of the gifts of Providence to all the race. They are fitted to man as man, and the grandeur of God's beneficence appears in spreading the earth with fruits and flowers, making it one wide garden, in place of the straitened Paradise that was lost. We might defy the most acute defender of the doctrine of limited atonement to produce an instance in the provisions of God, where there was a designed limitation in the nature of the thing. We shall be slow to believe that God has not a uniform plan in his mode of governing men.
But still it will be asked, what is the use of a universal atonement, if it is not actually applied to all? Does God work in vain? Or would he make a provision, in the dying groans of his Son, that was to be useless to the universe? We might say here, that in our view, there is no waste of this provision, that the sufferings which were requisite for the race were only those which were demanded in behalf of a single individual; and that we are ignorant of the way of applying gauges and decimal admeasurements and pecuniary computations to a grand moral transaction.
But we reply, that it is according