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times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.” Must man be kinder and more merciful than God! Is human nature, in its weakness and errors, to be higher and better than the divine nature? Or must we receive a doctrine that gives to God a character which the Gospel for. bids us to imitate?
Our Father in Heaven - here is my answer to this doctrine. Our Father in Heaven. I ask each parent, for a moment, to imagine his child before him. That child has offended, but he, now, kneels to him for for. giveness. With streaming eyes and lifted hands, he says, Father, forgive me. He weeps over his past disobedience, he promises amendment - nay, he says, take me on trial, and if I do not reform, then cast me out to die. What human parent would spurn from him a child like this? What human parent would say, I cannot forgive you; but if one of my long-tried, dutiful, innocent children, will come and give his limbs to the fetters, his back to the scourge, and suffer the punishment which you deserve, then I will forgive you and grant you my blessing. And now I ask, what child on earth would accept a parent's blessing on terms like these? What man, with the true feelings of a man, would see his brother groan, and bleed, and faint, because, in his affection, he was willing to endure it all to save him from his father's curse. Shall we dare to imagine such a situation for our Heavenly Father ? Is this the interpretation that Jesus would have us give of his own beautiful parable of the Prodigal Son? Must we say, as this doctrine teaches, there is no forgiveness with the Havenly Father for his repentant child ? What foundation is there in the New Testament on VI L. XV. — No. 168.
which to build up this doctrine? It is set forth as a Gospel truth — what is its Gospel proof? There are several terms, expressions, passages, in the Christian Scriptures, which have been supposed to declare this doctrine and to prove it. These I shall now consider. I would observe, previous to such consideration, that there is a wide difference between decided proof and what may be regarded as mere allusion. When a doctrine is firmly established as a doctrine of the Gospel, many passages may, without violence, be considered as alluding to it, and so serve to strengthen a belief in it; which passages, of themselves, are insufficient, in the first place, to establish such doctrine. Thus we see many persons finding their favorite doctrine in every page of the Bible; though, were they not, beforehand, made acquainted with such doctrine, those very same passages would never discover it to them. So with regard to these terms, expressions, passages, which are thought to contain proof of this doctrine of Atonement. Their general character is this, they are highly figurative, and the great error lies in giving to them a literal interpretation. Now, " figures furnish no statement of truth, but take it up after it has been stated." This distinction has been too often overlooked in the gathering up of what are called Scripture proofs of this doctrine of Atonement, as will be evident from a further consideration.
The attention is first directed to those terms applied to Jesus Christ himself, to his person or office. Christ is called Mediator. This term, though never applied by Jesus to himself, and used only by Paul, occurs, in such application four times. Mediator of a better Covenant. Mediator of the New Testament. Mediator of the new
Covenant. The one Mediator between God and men. It is very evident, that in these places there is no reference to the doctrine of Atonement. The same term Mediator — is applied to Moses, as being the medium of divine communication as to the old covenant; so to Jesus Christ with regard to the new. Jesus is once called Advocate. If this title proves any thing as to Christ's rendering God merciful, it proves that his death had no such efficacy. For why should Christ be an Advocate for us with God, if by his death he had already secured his mercy? Jesus Christ is, also, once called by the term surety. “ Jesus made a surety of a better testament.” His suretyship has no relation to his “ becoming responsible for the sins of men.” He is the surety only of a better testament or covenant, because the new covenant, that is, the Gospel, was entrusted to his ministry, and established by his death. There is, therefore, no authority for the application of this term that is sometimes made, when Christ is called the ** surety of sinners ” — or “ surety to God for men.” The single use of this term, therefore, has no reference to this doctrine of Atonement.
We find several other expressions of a highly figurative character applied to Jesus, the most striking of which is that in which he is compared to a sacrifice. This word in the Scriptures means an offering to the Lord - sometimes, in acknowledgment of dependence - sometimes, as an expression of gratitude - sometimes, as propitiatory. It is this last which Jesus Christ is supposed to be; and, in support of this opinion, reference is confidently made to the Jewish sacrifices said to be " types of the sacrifice of Christ.” Now it is a great error to suppose that victims were appointed by God to be offered up in
the place of the sinner ; they were intended for an admonitory symbol, and never in the sense of moral substi. tution. The propitiatory sacrifices of the Jews were appointed in cases of “ritual neglects," or " sins of ignorance." Intentional immoralities had no sacrifices appointed for them. There are only two instances men. tioned in which the propitiatory sacrifice was connected with an intentional immorality -- in the first, the offender made restitution and then offered his sacrifice ; in the second, the offender was scourged and then offered his sacrifice - afterwards both were restored to legal or external privileges. These propitiatory sacrifices were also appointed for places and things, where, certainly, there could be no sin. Now the sacrifice of Christ was either figurative or literal. If it was literal, it must have been accompanied by all those circumstances which were re. quired in literal sacrifices. I believe that not even the warmest defender of this doctrine of Atonement will think of contending that such was the case in the death of Christ. There was surely no priest to officiate at the solemn scene, no offender intentionally offered him up, nor was there any confession of sins made over him, nor was his pure blood sprinkled upon the holy altar. And who believes that the material blood of Christ cleanses from sin ! No one. When brought to this point, all will acknowledge the sacrifice to be figurative. With this I am content, for I believe it myself. It was a high, and pure, and noble sacrifice, and I venerate with my whole soul, him who made it. .'
Under this idea of sacrifice, Jesus is sometimes called the “Paschal Lamb." There is a true and beautiful sense in which this title may be well applied to him - for "the Paschal Lamb was killed, and the blood sprinkled on the door posts, that the destroying angel might not enter in.” So Jesus, in a forcible and touching figure, may be regarded as preserving his disciples from spiritual death. But taken literally, and in connection with this doctrine of Atonement, the application of the title to Jesus is very incorrect, for “ the Paschal Lamb in Egypt was not to atone or expiate sins, nor was it a piacular sacrifice.” And when the Passover was afterwards observed by the Israelites, it was in commemoration of their deliverance; on the same principle that Christians may now observe the rite of the Lord's supper.
As the Jewish sacrifices have been regarded as “ typi. cal of the sacrifice of Christ,” a resemblance has been supposed to exist between Christ's bearing the sins of men and the offering made on the great day of Atonement among the Jews. This day was something similar to our annual Fast, that is, as a day of humiliation and prayer. A sacrifice was offered. Two goats were selected - one was killed, and on the other was laid the sins of the people, and he was suffered to escape into the wilderness. Which of these two did Christ resemble? It was the one that was presented alive before the Lord, that was to make the Atonement, and “to bear upon him all the iniquities of the people.” But Jesus Christ was put to death. That holy death, like the holy life of which it was the finishing, was, indeed, designed to bear away our sins. Would that our hearts might be more deeply touched by the sacred meaning. Would that the death of the cross might be allowed to teach its sublime lesson, to make its affecting appeal, without being burdened by interpretations, which no more offend our reason than