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part or nature; therefore the human nature was left alone to endure. Now, human nature is man's nature, human sufferings, then, are man's sufferings. But man is a finite being. What then becomes of the “ Infinite atonement ?" On the other hand, if it be maintained that the divine nature, which had, all along, been united to the human nature, still remained — then as the Son is God as much as the Father is God, Christ was not forsaken of God. I ask, if such divine nature did remain, did it suffer, and thus make an “ Infinite atonement ?" Or, did it remain to support the human part in its agony? If so, I ask, further, what were the sufferings of the cross ? What could Christ suffer if the arm of the Almighty sustained him? What pain or torture can touch that being whom the all-powerful Deity is strengthening and upholding ? I can see no solution of these difficulties, and most certainly I am not called on to explain and reconcile them, I must confess I do not comprehend how atonement has been made, on the Trinitarian scheme. For, surely, no advocate of that system would contend that the Supreme and Infinite God really suffered and died on the cross :that for the three days that Jesus was in the grave, the universe was without a God! No; they would believe no such thing. It is said Christ suffered only in his human nature — “where, then I repeat it, is the Infinite atonement ?' Human nature might, indeed, be exalted by its union with the Divine ; still, it would be human, and if human, then finite, and if finite, how could it make an • Infinite atonement ?' Some have fixed upon another scene for the penal sufferings of Christ,' and contend that he descended into hell, there to suffer the proper torments of the damned.” This, indeed, is the declared
opinion of Calvin. He says, “nothing would have been done by the mere death of Christ, if he had not also afterwards descended into hell, where he sustained that death which is inflicted by an angry God on the wicked." This opinion needs no comment of mine.
Now, let us look upon this doctrine, fairly and steadily. Not, indeed, by the light of reason this will not answer - for, says one of its zealous advocates, “the satisfaction of Christ is an unaccountable, irrational doctrine, which destroys every natural idea we have of divine justice, and, laying aside the evidence of the Scriptures, is so far from being true, that it is ridiculous.” Reason would have many difficult questions to propose. It rnight ask if holiness be not a personal matter and therefore impossible to be transferred ; and how the guilt of the offender could, possibly, be done away by the death of an innocent person. It might ask, too, what kind of justice it is, that could be satisfied by such death - and what kind of mercy it is, that requires full satisfaction — and what kind of forgiveness it is, that demands perfect reparation and what kind of atonement it is, that is conditional and requires repentance to make it available — and whether, after all, it is not repentance that obtains the pardon; and if so, whether it was not always so — or if the death of Christ has such irresistible efficacy that it saves sinners without their repentance or consent.
Let us turn away, however, from the close questioning of reason, to the sacred Scriptures themselves, as being the sole standard of religious truth, as containing “ the Religion of Protestants.” To the law and to the testimony. And, here, I hesitate not to say that I must pronounce this doctrine of atonement contrary to the spirit
VOL. XV.—No. 168.
and character of the scriptures. I shall not examine into the testimony of the Old Testament, or Jewish Scriptures. I could quote passage after passage, from their history and their prophecies, to prove how wholly opposed they are to this doctrine, but it would take far too much time, And besides, I think that a doctrine, which is represented as a peculiar, distinctive doctrine of the Gospel, should be proved from the New Testament, or Christian Scriptures. I wish, indeed, thạt this could be kept more in view than it is. It is unsatisfactory, perhaps something worse, when I ask for proof of what is called a Gospel doctrine, to turn me over from Jesus Christ to Moses ; to refer me to an ancient prophet instead of a Christian Apostle.
The doctrine of vicarious atonement, or infinite satisfaction for the sins of men by the death of Jesus Christ, is utterly opposed to the spirit and character of the Gospel, which is a message of love from a God of love.
I have already said that the doctrine is founded on wrong views of the character of God. We believe God to be immutable, unchangeable, the same forever and ever, without variableness or shadow of turning - therefore, it is not possible that a change can be effected in Him, as to any of his own perfections, or “his dispositions towards any of his creatures.” But this doctrine of atonement is plainly founded on the very supposition of such change:— that as before the death of Christ, God was filled with “ wrath and vindictive fury," Christ, by his death, appeased that wrath, or turned it into grace. The very necessity of the doctrine arises, not from the nature of man, but the supposed nature of God, since it is represented as designed to take effect on that nature
it being necessary, in such interpretation, that Christ should suffer and die, not to make man'worthy to be forgiven, but God able or willing to forgive. .
We believe God to be a being of spotless holiness; infinite in holiness, the Holy One. Consequently he cannot look on sin with approbation. But how can we reconcile with such belief this doctrine, which represents a being without sin suffering the punishment of the really guilty ? Is this consistent with holiness? Were I to become a murderer or a thief, what would you think of the judge or the law that should set me free, and send an in. nocent man, in my stead, to the prison or the scaffold ! Would my character be altered thereby? Should I not still be chargeable with the guilt of murder or theft, though I thus escaped the penalty due to the murderer or thief? Could I be received into favor as innocent, made so by the death of my substitute ? Would it not be more correct to say, according to this interpretation, that the death of Christ, instead of taking away the sins of the world, takes away the anger of God for those sins, at the expense of his holiness.
We believe God is a being of unlimited, unchanging, never ceasing mercy. But how is this doctrine consistent with mercy? We are told by one defender of it, “ God stood upon full satisfaction, and would not remit one sin without it.” Is this mercy? We are told by another advocate that“ unless Christ mediate for us, we may pray our hearts out, all will signify nothing, God will neither grant what we desire, nor accept of any thing we do.” Is this mercy? It is the mercy of the creditor, that opens the prison door when some one has interfered and paid the full demand. We are told, again, “ In a strict and proper sense, the Infinite God doth not forgive sin, for sure I am, that debt can never be forgiven, which is paid." Is this mercy? But, without considering each of the divine perfections, it is sufficient to say, we cannot place the character of God in any point of view, without finding it impossible to reconcile it with this doctrine of Atonement.
What is the character of the Gospel ? I have called it a message of love. It is so, in the widest meaning of that comprehensive word. Its first command is love to that God from whom it came. But, I ask, how is it possible to love such a God as this doctrine represents him to be. An inexorable, vindictive being, unwilling to pardon, seeking the destruction of his creatures, and only prevented from condemning them to endless misery, by the superior benevolence of one who interposes to shield and save, by taking on himself the whole weight of divine wrath. Oh no! we can not love such a being; it is not in our nature to do so. We may fear and tremble even to agony, but we can not love. What, then, must we think of a doctrine which thus forbids us to love our God.
The second command of the Gospel is, to love one another. Are we to love one another as this doctrine represents God loving us ? What does the Gospel tell us of forgiving one another? Are we to forgive in the same way, that this doctrine represents God as forgiving us ? Are we to forgive men their trespasses in the same way that this doctrine represents God as forgiving our trespasses? We are commanded to overcome evil with good; to return blessing for cursing; if thy brother repent, thou shalt forgive him, and “if he trespass against thee seven