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duced a corrupt theory of human merits from it,* we should learn to distinguish truth from falsehood, and not reject both together. It is absurd to suppose one sin. ner can merit for another: but not, that a holy and glo. rious person should submit to do and suffer many things for sinners, whose nature he had assumed, in order, that it might be honourable to God, for his sake and through his intercession, to shew mercy to them. Did no prince ever favour a subject, who was obnoxious to punishment, for the sake of some near relation, who had performed great services and interposed in his behalf?
The idea of pecuniary redemption is a scriptural il. lustration of the atonement. No mere creature is mas. ter of his own life; no man can be found who has not forfeited it by his own sins: Otherwise, he might as justly suffer pain and death, as reduce himself to pov. erty, by answering for another person; provided he were perfectly free in undertaking such an engagement, and the ends of justice could be answered by it. Moral justice is ambiguous; but distributive justice may and does take the innocent for the guilty, whenever the bondsman is arrested for the debt of the principal; and though it does not extend to death, it can only be thence inferred, that this is deemed inexpedient in human sq. ciety. If an innocent man should suffer the loss of a shilling, or a day's liberty, for the fault of another, without his own voluntary engagement, it would be injustice or indiscriminate revenge, as really, though not in the same degree, as if he were put to death: and it
* P. I, p. 23.
would be extremely difficult to a casuist in such cases to draw the line; and, supposing a previous engagement, to shew exactly where justice ended and indiscriminate revenge began.
We suppose Christ to have been a divine person, “ God manifest in the flesh;” and that he voluntarily engaged to magnify the law, and satisfy divine justice, in the stead and for the sake of his people, fully know. ing the whole case. Having in our nature been perfect. ly obedient to the law, and not having forfeited his lifeby one failure: he had in all respects that right to dis. pose of it as he pleased, which no other man ever had or can have. The ends of the divine government were completely answered by his death upon the cross; and he most freely laid down his life for us, having power to take it again; in order by his temporal sufferings to save an innumerable multitude from eternal misery, to the everlasting glory of God. In the fulfilment of this plan, what injustice was done? Indeed the charge is wholly grounded on the false supposition, that Christ was substituted in our place, without his oron free consent. *
After all, Mr. P.'s objections principally arise, (as every other person's do,) from this doctrine's 'repre. * senting man as an out-law, an outcast, a beggar, a (mumper, &c.;' he should have said at once an hell: deserving sinner. No man will ever cordially acqui. esce in the doctrine, with a proper view of it, till he come in that character for salvation. Then his life will neither be spent in grief, nor the affectation of it:
* P. i. p. 24, 25.
but he will rejoice in Christ Jesus, and both relish the comforts, and be supported under the trials, of life, far better than any other person. That doctrine, which to unbelievers appears so gloomy, will brighten every prospect, and fill his heart with joy and hope, and his tongue with thankful praises. That opaque cloud; which Mr. P. says the person of Christ places be*tween the understanding and the deity';'* appears to the believer a glorious display of the divine perfections, in a manner and through a medium suited to bis feeble conceptions, and relieving to his guilty conscience: so that “ beholding as in a glass the giory of “ the Lord,” (in the face or person of Christ,) “ he “ is changed into the same image from glory to glory, “ by the Spirit of the Lord.”+
Others of us, as well as Mr. P. have had very childish thoughts of redemption:1 but“ when we became “ men we put away childish things;" while he retains and retails them as highly reasonable!
• The christian mythology has five deities; there is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy “Ghost; the god providence, and the goddess nature!' Surely Mr. P. knew, that christians consider the Fa. ther, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, as one God; and providence, as the superintending care of God over all his creatures. As for Nature, she is the Deist's goddess: the Bible says nothing about her agency, nor do any of those who “speak according to the oracles " of God.”
Mr. P. is little acquainted with serious christians:
* P. i. p. 31.
+ 2 Cor. ii. 17, 18. iv. 1-6.
P.i.p.44. but, I believe, I may answer for most of them, that they bestow pains, as soon as their children become capable of instruction, in teaching them the doctrine of redemption by the death of Christ, as revealed in the holy Scriptures: and if men called christians teach their children only morals and not the principles of the gospel, they grievously misunderstand the Bible, and neglect their duty.
I have no objection to Mr. P.'s astronomy, or his opinion concerning a plurality of worlds, considered abstractedly. If these worlds be inhabited by rational creatures, which however probable is merely conjectural, either the inhabitants are sinners, or they are not. If they be not sinners, they do not want a Sa. viour: but provided the way of man's salvation be made known to them, it may vastly enlarge their views of the Creator's harmonious perfections, and increase their admiring love and pure felicity. And it signifies not how mean or small the stage was, on which this glorious scene was exhibited; provided the whole obedient creation of God derive advantage from it, and render him eternal praises and adoration. If the supposed inhabitants of any of these worlds be sin. ners: we are sure that the Lord will not do them injustice: we do not say, that it is impossible for him to devise some other way of reconciling infinite justice with the exercise of mercy; though we cannot conceive how it can be done: and we do not know, but they may be left without mercy to condign punishment. All reasoning on such grounds is “intruding s into things not seen,” by men who are “ vainly puff
« ed up with a fleshly mind."* But for a philoso. pher, in this Age of Reason, 'to suppose that the in. • finite God must have left the care of all worlds, • when he came to save one,' is so gross an idea, that one cannot but stand amazed at it! We pretend not to comprehend the Deity; we allow that “ without “s controversy, great is the mystery of godliness, God “ manifest in the flesh:” but the attributes of om. nipresence and omnipotence must be inseparable from the Godhead; these absolutely exclude such notions as Mr. P. hath started; and I am persuaded they scarcely ever enter the mind of the most unlettered, christian; or if they do, they are rejected as gross absurdity, or diabolical suggestions.t.