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offered ; so He is called " The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world."
It is my design in these citations, to remove every shadow of doubt, and every degree of hesitation from your minds, concerning the meaning of the words “ The Lamb of God.” The honour of the divine law and government, and the satisfaction of the divine justice in saving sinners, required an atonement of infinite value. The wisdom of God therefore planned this method of redemption, and Christ is the Lamb of God's appointment. “When he cometh into the world he “ saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, “ but a body hast thou prepared me, in burnt" offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had “ no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come in the “ volume of the book,” in the opening of the roll of scripture, “it is written of me,) to do thy “ will, O God.” All other methods of expiating guilt and rendering the salvation of sinners honourable to God, were unavailing : but when the Lamb of God came, and offered himself as an atoning sacrifice, the required satisfaction was made, and no further oblations were necessary.
But this appointed atonement was likewise of God's providing. The plan of redemption by a sacrifice of infinite value would not have profited us sinners ; if everlasting love had not provided such an oblation. The whole universe could not
' Rev, xiii, 8. a Heb. . 4—10. .
have supplied a single individual, whose dignity and excellency qualified him for such an undertaking; or whose love was so immense, as to influence him to interpose in our behalf. But “God spared not his own Son,” He gave him to be the propitiation for our sins; he accepted the oblation which he had appointed and provided; and in all these respects, Christ is “ the Lamb of God.”— We proceed,
II. To consider the import of the words, “ Which taketh away the sin of the world.”
The unblemished harmless lambs, which were sacrificed from the beginning, had no guilt of their own ; yet they suffered as if they had been guilty. They were substituted in the place of the criminals; and the guilt or desert of punishment was typically transferred from the sinner to the sacrifice. It was imputed to the animal, who bare the punishment, while the offerer escaped : and it took away his sin by expiating the guilt of it. Thus the Lord Jesus was substituted in our place; our guilt was transferred to him by imputation He was sinless himself, and yet suffered as a sinner, in order “ that whosoever believeth in him “ should not perish but have everlasting life:” and in this manner he taketh away sin,
We are not, however, left to deduce this conelusion, from types and shadows, or our own reasonings concerning them: for the sacred writers have most explicitly and energetically declared the same great truth. The prophet Isaiah, in his most wonderful prediction of the sufferings and glory of the Redeemer, says, “ He was wounded “ for our transgressions, he was bruised for our ini“ quities.-All we like sheep have gone astray: 6 we have turned every one to his own way, and " the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us “ all.” “ It pleased the LORD to bruise him, " and to put him to grief : thou shalt make his “ soul an offering for sin-He shall bear their “ iniquities. He bare the sin of many.” You see, my brethren, that Christ not only bare our punishment, but our iniquities : and this can imply nothing less, than actual translation of guilt from the sinner to the sacrifice. It was exacted, and he became answerable.?' He willingly consented to become our Surety, to assume our flesh, and expiate our sins by his own suffering and death upon the cross. He was capable of doing this, and willing to do it. The human nature he assumed was preserved free from all contamination of sin: so that his life was not forfeited, or suffering deserved, by any personal transgression. He had power to lay down his life and power to take it again, and no mere creature ever was or can be placed in a similar situation. “He loved us and “ gave himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice
“ unto God for a sweet smelling savour.” The imputation of guilt no minore implied criminality or pollution : than the sacrificing of the harmless lamb rendered it sinful and defiled: or than a man becomes chargeable with the extravagance and profligacy of the poor insolvent whom he liberates from prison by paying his debt, out of the most generous compassion.
And let us not suppose, that this language concerning Christ bearing our sins, was merely that of prophecy or poetry : for the writers of the New Testament, in didactive prose, are equally decisive, or even more so. “ He was made sin for us, “ who knew no sin ; that we might be made the “ righteousness of God in him.2 ” This certainly implies a reciprocal imputation of our sin to Christ, and of his righteousness to us. “ Christ “ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, be“ ing made a curse for us.}” “Who his own self “ bare our sins in his own body on the tree.”— “ Ile suffered once for sins, the just for the un“ just, that he might bring us to God.4” “ Be“ ing justified freely by his grace, through the re“ demption, that is in Christ Jesus, whom God “ hath set forth to be a propitiation, through faith “ in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the “ remission of sins-that he might be just and the “ justifier of him that believeth in Jesus.5”
* Eph. v. 2. 2 2 Cor. v. 21. 3 Gal. iii. 13.
A Pet. ij. 24. iii. 18. Rom. iji. 24-26,
These and many similar expressions, as connected with the institutions of the ceremonial law, and the reasonings of the apostle in his Epistle to the Hebrews, are abundantly sufficient, to prove; not only that the doctrine of an atonement by the vicarious sufferings of Emmanuel is contained in scripture, but that it is the most prominent and central part of revelation. This is confirmed by the appointment of the Lord's supper, in perpetual remembrance of the death of Christ; and for a constant representation of the life of faith, under the figure of “ eating the flesh and drinking the “ blood of Christ.” We may therefore confidently affirm, that they who deny or explain away this doctrine, prefer their own reasonings to the sure testimony of God, and endeavour to remove the key-stone of an arch, the whole of which would at length fall down, if they could succeed. So that mere natural religion, which palliates and flatters human pride, will uniformly be preferred to the religion of the Bible, by all who lose sight of this fundamental doctrine : and facts do fully demonstrate that this has always in process of time been the consequence, when persons have argued themselves and others, out of the ancient and orthodox interpretation of redemption by the Saviour's atoning blood.
But the present occasion adınits not a fuller dis- · cussion of this important subject. The propitiatory oblation made by the Lamb of God, being of