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they shock the best feelings of our nature. Since Jesus no more " bare our sins " to save the sinful from punishment, than he " bare our sicknesses" to save the sick from pain; for such " substitution " is, not only not required, but impossible in the perfect government of a righteous and merciful God.
Jesus Christ is called our redemption — not redeemer, this word not being found in the New Testament. But what are we to understand by redemption. We, surely, must not take this word in the literal signification. It means, simply, deliverance from slavery, or captivity, or punishment. The deliverance of the children of Israel from Egyptain bondage is called redemption. God is said to have redeemed them. But how? Was any equivalent rendered by God to the King of Egypt? Did he give to their oppressors a payment? Certainly not. The word is used figuratively. It is applied to saving from any calamity, or even fear. In this figurative sense is the word used to point out the benefits secured to men by Christ. Christ is no where represented as having redeemed us from God, but to have" redeemed us to God." "He gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." This is true Christian redemption — not effected by the death of Christ alone, but in connexion with his teachings, revelations, life, leading us to repentance and obedience. "We are said to be saved, — is the remark of Taylor, — by faith, by works, by the word of God, by baptism, by grace, by the death of Christ, by his life, by the words of St. Peter, by the words of St. Paul, by the foolishness of preaching, by calling on the name of the Lord, by enduring unto the end, &c, by all these causes singly, we are said to be saved, in the New Testament; and yet it is most certain, that not one of them must be so understood as to exclude the rest."
Jesus Christ is said to be a propitiation for our sins. This word propitiation occurs but three times in the New Testament, and once is a mistranslation of a Greek word, which signifies a mercy-seat, and is in the original a different word from that which in the other places is translated propitiation. The passage in which it is found declares to us the absolute offer of free mercy in God, "whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation — or mercy-seat." Now as the mercy-seat of the former dispensation was a "place of God's particular presence, the seat of merciful manifestations, the medium of communications between God and his people, from which God gave instructions to Moses for the benefit of the Israelites"— so Christ is the Gospel mercy-seat, the medium of intercourse between God and the world, in the new dispensation. From him God proclaims his love to men, and makes his merciful declaration of forgiveness and favor to the penitent offender. The original word of which "propitiation" is the correct translation, is found but twice in the New Testament. It is found, however, several times in the Greek version of the Old Testament, and these, though they furnish no doctrinal proof, may help to ascertain the meaning. In Psalms, "with Thee there is forgiveness." In Daniel, " to the Lord our God belong mercies and forgiveness." And in a yet more striking passage in Ecclesiasticus, " to depart from wickedness is a thing pleasing to the Lord, and to forsake unrighteousness is a propitiation." And these point us to the true interpretation. This was the propitiation Christ came to effect; to declare the mercy and forgiveness of God, and by his life, and death, and all the circumstances of his divine mission, "to open their eyes and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God; that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified.
Jesus Christ is called, in three places, a ransom. And as, in its first sense, this word means a price paid.for the redemption of a slave, it has been contended that the sufferings and death of Christ were a substitute for the punishment of sinners. But, surely, the literal interpretation is burdened with precisely the same difficulties we have already considered. Still, if any will contend for a literal ransom, I ask to whom it was paid. If there was a literal buyer, there must have been a literal seller. Shall it be said that this was God? What, were we ransomed from God? Or must'we go back to the old notion, that men were the bond-slaves of the devil? Just so it is with the term purchased or bought — the question returns, from whom? And also of the two places where it is said " Ye are bought with a price." If we must talk of the death of Christ in the phrases of a bargain, we must say that there are three parties. The party bought, purchased, for whom the price is paid, that is, man, — the party who buys, purchases, or pays the price, that is Christ, — the party that sells or to whom the price is paid, and who is this? If any choose to believe that we are bought from God, I am very sorry for it. No! All these phrases are evidently figurative. Such as we, ourselves, use every day. We say our national liberty was bought with toil and blood. We have purchased wisdom by painful experience. Our virture has cost us struggles. Such a one has paid for knowledge with the price of his life. We say this, and much more like this, without the least thought of an actual contract or bargain. No one hesitates, for a moment, in the interpretation of such expressions.
It is said that Christ was made a curse for us. This is wholly opposed to the notion of a sacrifice ; for, under the Jewish constitution, those things subject to a curse were represented as offensive in the sight of God, and were never suffered to be brought as an offering to his altar.
We hear of the satisfaction of Christ. This word is not found in the New Testament, and I may, therefore, be excused from considering it. As to the meaning which it is used to express, that is sufficiently considered in my other remarks.
We now come to that word which gives the name to this doctrine, — Atonement. Many who regard the Atonement as a prominent, distinctive, doctrine of the Gospel, may be surprised to learn that this word, instead of frequently occurring, is found but once in the New Testament; and in this single instance, is the translation of that original term, which is every where else rendered reconciliation. So that had our translators been consistent with themselves, the word Atonement would not have stood at all on the pages of the Christian Scriptures. This word, however, as it was used when our translation of the New Testament was made, was understood to mean no more than reconciliation. It is found among the old English writers, in the sense of agreement, concord. The word atone is composed of these two — at one. — that is, to agree, to be reconciled. So that
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when King James's translators used the word atonement, they, very evidently, considered it as having the same signification as the other word reconciliation. But after all, as there can be no special virtue in the word Atonement, the question is, what are we to understand by reconciliation. A general definition is — the removal of enmity, the putting an end to opposition, the restoring to amity and peace those who had been at variance. Gospel reconciliation, the bringing of men nigh unto God, is not effected by Christ having appeased the wrath of God. For, it is nowhere said in the Scriptures that Christ died to reconcile God to man, but always man to God. Reconciliation evidently intends change of feeling and intention in the one reconciled, and as God is without change it can only be man who is reconciled. Christ came not to increase the love of God to men, but to make it manifest; not to render God merciful, but to show that he is so; not to propitiate, but to prove that he is propitious. In the very passage where the word atonement is used for the only time, we are said to receive the atonement, not God— " We also joy in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement." Men had corrupted themselves and thus became opposed to holiness. They were to be recovered from this opposition, this state of enmity. Christ came to effect this recovery, by his instructions, his example and also by his death. Because by his sufferings and the shedding of his blood, he confirmed the New Covenant, by which the Gentiles were brought nigh to God.
God is nowhere said to be reconciling the world to himself by Moses, or any of the ancient prophets, for their ministry related, solely, to one nation. But Jesus was