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OF CHRIST BRIEFLY EXPLAINED AND DEFENDED
flesh, ye shall die ; but if, through our of all his perfections, and the the Spirit, ye do mortify the deeds interest of his universal king. of the body, ye shall live.
dom, pardon, and justify all those LEIGHTON. who by a true faith are united
to Christ, and so receive the gift
of his righteousness. THE DOCTRINE OF THE ATONE
But to prevent mistake, it MENT
must be carefully observed, that
we are far from imagining that' IN A SERIES OF LETTERS TO
the sins of men were transferred A FRIEND.
into Christ,for in him was no sin. LETTER
It is impossible that the act of The Doctrine stated,
one person should, be made the DEAR SIR,
act of another. Nor can the AGREEABLY to your request, criminality, the blameworthi. some thoughts on the Doctrine ness, the desert of punishment, of the Atonement are here offer which is inseparable from sin, ed to your candid consideration. be shifted from the sinner to one A doctrine, which is much ob- who is personally innocent. Far jected to by those who style them- be it from us to imagine that selves rational Christians, and al- Christ became blamable, or that so by some others : but which he deserved punishment, or that seems to be plainly taught in the God was displeased with him, in Scriptures as an important arti- consequence of his becoming cle of the Christian religion. our sponsor, and assuming our
It has been, I think, the gener- guilt, or penal obligation. The al belief of Christians, particular- Father was ever well pleased in ly, as professed in the Protestant his beloved Son, who was never churches, that the sins of men inore the object of his complawere imputed to Christ, or ju- cence, than when he bore our sins dicially charged upon him, as in his own body on the tree. their sponsor: That their guilt, The guilt and punishment of or the obligation they were un our sins was not deserved by der to suffer deserved punish him, but he became subject ment, was transferred to him: to it by voluntarily taking this He having by the appointment burden on himself.
And so of God the Father, and his own the punishment of our sins befree consent, undertaken to make came due to him, as being resatisfaction to the law and justice sponsible on our behalf, though of God, by bearing the punish- it was not deserved by him. ment due to their sins, in their We must not then confound stead; that so God's infinite the guilt of sin, with its criminali. liatred of sin and love of right- ty, or desert of punishment. It eousness being fully exercised is true the word is sometimes and expressed, and the ends for used to signify a state of being which the punishment of sin. blamable or faulty. But by the was necessary, as well answered guilt of sin we understand the as they would have been in the obligation to punishment to which punishment of the sinners. He the sinner is subject by the might, consistently with the hon- threatening of the law. In this
sense the word is always used by to Philemon, that if Onesimus had our divines in treating of the re- wronged him, or owed him any demption and satisfaction of thing, he should impute it to him, Christ. Though the demerit of (so it is in the Greek.) He did sin, or its desert of punishment, not mean that Philemon should is inseparable from its evil na think that Paul had wronged of ture, and it must remain forever owed him, but that he should true that a sinner deserves pun- charge him with whatever Oneishment; and though according simus might owe, and he would to the law every transgression be responsible for it. And he must receive its deserved punish- elsewhere mentions the blessedment, yet the penitent and be- ness of the man, to whom right: lieving sinner may be pardoned, eousness without works is im; and so freed from his guilt or puted. This could not mean penal obligation, in consequence that he was judged to be person: of Christ's taking it upon him- ally righteous in the eye of the self by the approbation and ap- law. It could not be his own pointment of the Father. Tho' righteousness which was imputthe law and justice of God, and ed to him. For he is described the interest of his kingdom, re as a pardoned sinner, whose sins quire that sin be punished, yet were covered, and not imputed the sovereign of the world might to him. Though in himself he consistently with justice, and the was not righteous, but a sinner, spirit of the law, so far relax its and God knew him to be such a rigor as to transfer the penal ob- one, yet he did not impute sin, ligation of sinners to their ap- but imputed righteousness to proved and authorized sponsor, him : that is, he freed him from who by suffering the penalty of guilt, and exposedness to punthe law in their stead 'has freed ishment, as if he had not sinned, all penitent believers from their and accepted him as righteous, guilt or exposedness to deseryed and entitled to the reward of punishment, his satisfaction and righteousness, on account of the merit being accepted in their righteousness of his sponsor giv, behalf, as equivalent, and answer- en and imputed to him. ing all the ends for which the How this transferring of the punishment of sin is necessary. guilt of sin, and the rights of
To impute sin, or righteous- righteousness, is consistent with ness to any one, in the language the justice and truth of God, of the Scriptures, does not mean may perhaps be considered here, the same with judging that he after. In the mean time, if this had sinned, or that he is in him- should appear to be the doctrine self a righteous person. To im- of the Scriptures, we should be pute sin to a person, is to charge cautious of objecting to it, tho' it to him so far as to hold him our reason should be puzzled in subject 10 the penalty thereto accounting for it. Let us then annexed, as if he had sinned. To have recourse to the law and to the impute righteousness is to accept testimony, searching the Script one as ntitled to the rewards of tures whether these things are so. righteousness, as if he were a If we should not be thought wore righteous person. So Paul wrote thy to rank with the rational
AGED MINISTER TO A YOUNG
Christians, yet if we can attain to sublime ; with the simple mabe scriptural ones, we may think jesty, which runs through the ourselves happy. I would, how- whole volume. I mention this ever, not neglect to use, as well now, because many of these speas I can, the small share of rea cimens will meet us, while we son which God has given me, are pursuing the first object; in investigating and ascertaining and may therefore be minuted the true meaning of the divine as we go along. But they will oracles, by comparing more ob- deserve to be made a distinct scure or ambiguous passages branch of study. Where else with those whose meaning is can we find the truths of religion more plain and determinate. To conveyed with such majesty ; or explain the Scriptures by the in a manner, which awakes such Scriptures seems to be a rational, great and exalted sentiments ? as well as approved method of I doubt not it has often occurrprocedure. May God assist and ed to you, whether prayer, which succeed the attempt. With re- constitutes so important a part of spect and affection, your friend, the public exercises, should not
A Christian of the ancient School. be more premeditated, than it of(To be continued.)
ten is ; and have more of mean
ing, and be more inspired, enORIGINAL LETTERS, FROM AN
riched, and diversified with the varieties of sublime and impres
sive devotional matter, which
No. 2.* the Scriptures furnish. Improve My Dear Sir,
then upon those, who have gone I SHALL join my poor peti- before you. In this there is a tions, that He who "giveth li- large field open for it. It is easy erally,” may be with you in the to observe who has not attended important design you mention. enough to this branch of study.
And when that first object, that But accept it as a proof of sinceriof collecting together the doc- ty, that I dare not omit a hint of trines, and the sentiments of this nature, though it brings up Revelation, is accomplished, a in a strong view,my own deficiensecond will naturally come in cy. It is nevertheless true, that view ;—that of studying the tran- prayer, though I believe it should scendent eloquence of those divine be generally more compendious, writings, and enriching the mind than it is, might become as inby attentively noting the varie- teresting, as any part of public ties of energetic expression with exercise, and such it ought to be. which great truths are convey. Such it was, indeed, where Coled; the numerous striking fig- man, the two Coopers, President ures, and turns of thought; and Davies, and a few more officiated. the inimitable specimens of the And it may be again, if with the beautiful, the pathetic, and the attentions now hinted, the Spirit
of grace and supplication shall No. 2 of these Letters has been
concur, which, that we may both unfortunately lost. We will thank experience, is the continual wish our Correspondent to forward anoth. of your friend, &c. er copy.
STUDENT IN DIVINITY.
My dear Sir,
No. 4. essay, are such as are connected I am much pleased that you with the story, propagated by the find such friendship and valuable Jews, that the disciples came by society with Mr. - I hope night and stole the body of Jesus, you will derive much assistance while the watch were asleep. Of and animation from him in those course but a small portion of the studies, in which I pray the arguments in favour of the res: MOST High to grant you the best urrection must be expected. I direction, and the happiest suc- lay no claim to novelty; if any cess.
one shall say, “ I have heard, or With respect to your choice of thought of the same before," books, though I bave not an idea perhaps some others have not. of adding much to what will meet The advancement of the truth, you from other quarters, I will not the gratification of curiosity, however drop a hint or two. is my sole object. One is, to prefer those authors, The body of Jesus, let it be who take up divine subjects, in remembered, was placed in a septhe way which is most agreeable ulchre, which had been cut out of to their nature, and most adapt- a rock ; all entrance into it thereed to interest the heart. Divini- fore was excluded, except at the ty has this special quality ; that mouth. The mouth was closed it is always wronged, when it is by a very large stone, and guardtreated in a mere speculative ed by a band of Roman soldiers, manner. Yet it often has been, who, as it is well known, if found and by great writers, especially asleep at their posts, must have where they treat upon the great answered for it with their lives. first principles of natural or re How happened it, that the discivealed religion. Yet these, bea pies, who undoubtedly were apcause they are first principles, are prized of this military law, and the more interesting, and should of the other facts referred to, be treated as such ; and when should venture to gain access to they are, the effect is perceived the sepulchre, at so great a hazat once. I do not suppose that ard? Knowing the watch to be either of us considers Necker, as awake, they must have despaired a finished divine. But there are of success; and what reason had some specimens in him of the they to imagine that sixty or kind I refer to, which are certain- seventy men, for such was the ly very impressive ; and worthy usual number of a Roman guard, to be remembered by the divine would suffer themselves to sleep, and the preacher: Particularly in at the risque of their lives; and his 5th chapter on the impor- that all would so sleep at the same tance of religious opinions, to instant of time? Here would inwhich I refer yoti.
Yours, &c. deed have been a miracle, how (To be continued.) much soever the enemies of
Christianity may wish to avoid For the Panoplist. one in matters of revelation.
But, admitting that the sold
iers were asleep, how could they The arguments, which I have testify that the disciples stole the selected for the subject of this body? They might, it is true,
testify that, before they slept, the the body, it was incumbent upon body was there ; and that, when them also to conceal it. they awoke, it was missing ; but Had the chief priests believed this is not telling how it was that the body was stolen, why missing ; whether through the was not an immediate search or. stealth of the disciples, or mirac- dered, to discover where it was ulously, or any other mode of es- deposited ? Had search been cape.
But I will not waste time made, there is every reason for in examining the evidence of believing that a discovery would facts, which were witnessed by have been the result. It is no persons asleep.
very easy, matter to conceal a Admitting again that the sol- dead body for any great length of diers were asleep, how happened time, so that no traces of it be it, that the disciples knew that observed ; and at that time, in fact? We cannot suppose that Jerusalem and its environs, full they were watching such an e- of people collected to keep the vent, an event the most improb- passover, the difficulty must have able, and beyond the power of the been increased. The thing was imagination itself to fancy. Be- possible indeed ; and that possi sides, what reason had they, or bility, we allow objectors to emany body else, to suppose that ploy to their utmost advantage. the body could be conveyed away That the chief priests believed without giving alarm to the sole nothing about the stealing of the diers, when it is considered, espe- body, and that they fabricated the cially, that many hands would story themselves, or connived at be required to move the stone the fabrication, is, manifest from from the mouth of the sepul- the fact, that they made no effort chre,* and that this could not be to detect the fraud of the disciperformed without producing a ples, as they would term it. They very considerable noise ! Would had the strongest motives to exit, furthermore, be natural for the pose to the world the knavery of disciples, in their haste, to be so these men, if any such knavery particular, as to strip the body existed ; they had the fullest reaof its winding sheet, and the head son to believe, that by a diligent of its napkin ; and, wrapping search the body might be discovthem up in separate parcels, to ered ; if such discovery had been lay them carefully in the tomb? made, Christ would have been Would it not have been more proved, at once, to be an imposnatural, to take the body with tor; his religion have been overits clothes about it, and make all thrown; and themselves not onpossible dispatch, to avoid detec- ly exonerated from the guilt of tion ? Why did they choose the putting him to death, but shown latter part of the night, as it to be highly praiseworthy in must seem they did, on the sup- vindicating the truth of God. position made, for such an expe. These were motives, which could dition ? For it should be consid- not have failed to influence the ered that, after they had stolen minds of such men, as compos
ed the Sanhedrim of the Jews ; * See Mark xvi, 1-4; also xv. 46.
men covetous of a character for | See John xx. 6, 7.
zeal in their religion, and little Vol. II. No. 10,