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Of The Satisfaction of Christ.
Though the doctrine of satisfaction is not only closely connected with, but even included in, the doctrine of redemption, made by paying a satisfactory price into the hands of justice, and is a part of it; yet it is of such importance, that it requires it should be distinctly and separately treated of: it is the glory of the Christian religion, which distinguishes it from others; what gives it the preference to all others, and without which it would be of no value itself: and though the word “satisfaction” is not syllabically expressed in scripture, as used in the doctrine under consideration, the thing is abundantly declared in it; which yet Socinus denies; though he himself owns, that a thing is not to be rejected, because not expressly found in scripture; for he says, it is enough with all lovers of truth, that the thing in question is confirmed by reason and testimony; though the words which are used in explaining the question are not found expressly written. What Christ has done and suffered, in the room and stead of sinners, with content, well pleasedness, and acceptance in the sight of God, is what may, with propriety, be called “satisfaction;” and this is plentifully spoken of in the word of God; as when God is said to be “well pleased for Christ’s righteousness sake,” and with it, it being answerable to the demands of law and justice; and is an honoring and magnifying of it; and when the sacrifice of Christ, and such his sufferings are, is said to be of a “sweet smelling savor to God;” because it has expiated sin, atoned for it; that is, made satisfaction for it, and taken it away; which the sacrifices under the law could not do; hence here was a remembrance of it every year (Isa. 42:21; Eph 5:2), and there are terms and phrases which are used of Christ, and of his work; as “propitiation, reconciliation, atonement,” &c. which are equivalent and synonymous to satisfaction for sin, and expressive of it; concerning which may be observed the following things:
1. The necessity of satisfaction to be made for sin, in order to the salvation of sinners; for without satisfaction for sin, there can be no salvation from it; “for it became him for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings;” that is, it became the all wise and all powerful Former and Maker of all things for himself; it was agreeable to his nature and perfections; it was fitting, and so necessary, that it should be done; that whereas it was his pleasure to bring many of the sons of men, even as many as are made the sons of God, to eternal glory and happiness by Christ; that the author of their salvation should perfectly and completely suffer, in their room and stead, all that the law and justice of God could require; without which not a sinner could be saved, nor a son brought to glory. If two things are granted, which surely must be easily granted, satisfaction for sin will appear necessary:
1a. That men are sinners; and this must be owned, unless any can work themselves up into such a fancy, that they are an innocent sort of beings, whose natures are not depraved, nor their actions wrong; neither offensive to God, nor injurious to their fellow creatures; and if so, indeed then a satisfaction for sin would be unnecessary: and one would think the opposers of Christ’s satisfaction must have entertained such a conceit of themselves; but if they have, scripture, all experience, the consciences of men, and facts, are against them; all which declare men are sinners, are transgressors of the law, and pronounced guilty by it before God; and are subject to its curse, condemnation, and death, the sanction of it; and “every transgression” of it, and “disobedience” to it, has “received,” does receive, or will receive, “a just recompence of reward;” that is, righteous judgment and punishment, either in the sinner himself, or in a surety for him (Heb 2:2). God never relaxes the sanction of the law; that is, the punishment for sin it threatens; though he favorably admits one to suffer it for the delinquent. By sin men are alienated from God, set at a distance from him, with respect to communion; and without reconciliation or satisfaction for sin, they never can be admitted to it; a sinner, not reconciled to God, can never enjoy nearness to him, and fellowship with him; and this, when ever had, is the fruit of Christ’s sufferings and death; he suffered, in the room and stead of the unjust, to bring them to God; and it is by his blood making peace for them, that they that were afar off, with respect to communion, are made nigh, and favored with it (1 Pet. 3:18; Eph 2:13, 14), the satisfaction of Christ does not procure the love of God, being the effect of it; yet it opens the way to the embraces of his arms, stopped by sin. Moreover, men by sin, are declared rebels against God, and enemies to him; hence reconciliation, atonement, or satisfaction, became necessary; as they are enemies in their minds, by wicked works; yea, their carnal mind is enmity itself against God. And, on the other hand, on the part of God, there is a law enmity, which must be slain, and was slain, through the sufferings of Christ on the cross; “Having slain the enmity thereby” (Eph. 2:16), and so made peace and reconciliation; for this designs not any internal disposition in the mind of God’s people, before conversion, which is overcome in it, by the love of God implanted in them; but the declared enmity of the moral law against them, broken by them; of which the ceremonial law was a symbol, in the slain sacrifices of it, and stood as an handwriting against them; all which were necessary to be removed.
1b. The other thing to be taken for granted is, that it is the will of God to save sinners, at least some of them; for if it was not his will to save any from sin, there would be no need of a satisfaction for, it. Now it is certain, that it is the will and resolution of God to save some; whom he appointed not to the wrath they deserve, but to salvation by Christ; whom he has ordained to eternal life, and are vessels of mercy, afore prepared for glory; and for whose salvation a provision is made in the council and covenant of grace, in which it was consulted, contrived, and settled, and Christ appointed to be the author of it; and who, in the fulness of time, was sent and came about it, and has obtained it; and which is ascribed to his blood, his sufferings, and death, which were necessary for the accomplishment of it.
Some have affirmed that God could forgive sin, and save sinners, without a satisfaction; and this is said, not only by Socinians, but by some, as Twisse, Dr. Goodwin, Rutherford, &c. who own that a satisfaction is made, and the fitness and expedience of it: but then this is giving up the point; for if it is fitting and expedient to be done, it is necessary; for whatever is fitting to be done in the affair of salvation, God cannot but do it, or will it to be done. Besides, such a way of talking, as it tends to undermine and weaken the doctrine of satisfaction; so to encourage and strengthen the hands of the Socinians, the opposers of it; much the same arguments being used by the one as by the other. It is not indeed proper to limit the Holy One of Israel, or lay a restraint on his power, which is unlimited, boundless, and infinite; with whom nothing is impossible, and who is able to do more than we can conceive of; yet it is no ways derogatory to the glory of his power, nor is it any impeachment of it, nor argues any imperfection or weakness in him, to say there are some things he cannot do; for not to be able to do them is his glory; as that he cannot commit iniquity, which is contrary to the purity and holiness of his nature; he cannot do an act of injustice to any of his creatures, that is contrary to his justice and righteousness; he cannot lie, that is contrary to his veracity and truth; he cannot deny himself, for that is against his nature and perfections; and for the same reason he cannot forgive sin without a satisfaction, because so to do, does not agree with the perfections of his nature. It is a vain thing to dispute about the power of God; what he can do, or what he cannot do, in any case where it is plain, what it is his will to do, as it is in the case before us; at the same time he declared himself a God gracious and merciful, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; he has, in the strongest terms, affirmed, that he “will by no means clear the guilty;” (see Ex 34:6, 7; Jer 30:11; Nahum 1:3; Num. 14:18), or let him go unpunished; that is, without a satisfaction. Besides, if any other method could have been taken, consistent with the will of God, the prayer of Christ would have brought it out; “Father, if it be possible, let this cup of suffering death pass from me:” and then adds, “not my will, but thine be done!” what that will was, is obvious; (see Heb. 10:5-10). It may be said, this is to make God weaker than man, and to represent him as not able to do what man can do; one man can forgive another the debts that are owing to him; and in some cases he should, and is to be commended for it; and one may forgive another an offence committed against himself, and ought to do it; especially when the offender expresses repentance. But it should be observed, that sins are not pecuniary debts, and to be remitted as they are: they are not properly debts, only so called allusively: if they were proper debts, they might be paid in their kind, one sin by committing another, which is absurd; but they are called debts, because as debts oblige to payment, these oblige to punishment; which debt of punishment must be paid, either by the debtor, the sinner, or by a surety for him; sins are criminal debts, and can be remitted no other way. God, therefore, in this affair, is to be considered not merely as a creditor, but as the Judge of all the earth, who will do right; and as the Rector and Governor of the world; that great Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy; who will secure his own authority as such, do justice to himself, and honour to his law, and show a proper concern for the good of the community, or universe, of which he is the moral Governor. So though one man may forgive another a private offence, committed against himself, as it is an injury to him, yet he cannot forgive one, as it is an injury to the commonwealth, of which he is a part; a private person, as he cannot execute vengeance and wrath, or inflict punishment on an offender; so neither can he, of right, let go unpunished one that has offended against the peace and good of the commonwealth; these are things that belong to the civil magistrate, to one in power and authority: and a judge that acts under another, and according to a law which he is obliged to regard, can neither inflict punishment, nor remit it, especially the latter, without the order of his superior. God indeed is not trader another; he is of himself, and can do what he pleases; he is the Maker and Judge of the law, but then he is a law to himself; his nature is his law, and he cannot act contrary to that; wherefore, as Joshua says, “he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions, nor your sins;” that is, without a satisfaction; and which comports with his own honour and glory; of which he is a jealous God. Sin is “crimen laesae Majestatis;” a crime committed against the majesty of God; it disturbs the universe, of which he is Governor, and tends to shake and overthrow his moral government of the world; to introduce atheism into it, and bring it into disorder and confusion, and to withdraw creatures from their dependence on God, and obedience to him, as the moral Governor of it; and therefore requires satisfaction, and an infinite one, as the object of it is; and cannot be made, but by an infinite Person, as Christ is; such a satisfaction the honour of the divine Being, and of his righteous law, transgressed by sin, requires. Which leads to observe,
That to forgive sin, without a satisfaction, does not accord with the perfections of God.
1b1. Not with his justice and holiness; God is naturally and essentially just and holy; all his ways and works proclaim him to be so; and his creatures own it, angels and men, good and bad; as he is righteous, he naturally loves righteousness; and naturally hates evil, and cannot but show his barred of it; and which is shown by punishing it. God is a consuming fire; and as fire naturally burns combustible matter, so it is natural to God to punish sin. Wherefore, punitive justice, though denied by Socinians, in order to subvert the satisfaction of Christ, is natural and essential to him; he cannot but punish sin: it is a righteous thing with him to do it; the justice of God requires it; and there is no salvation without bearing it; and he is praised and applauded for it, by saints and holy angels; and to do otherwise, or not to punish sin, would be acting against himself and his own glory.
1b2. To forgive sin, without satisfaction for it, does not agree with his veracity, truth, and faithfulness, with respect to his holy and righteous law: it became him, as the Governor of the universe, to give a law to his creatures; for where there is no law, there is no transgression; men may sin with impunity, no charge can be brought against them; sin is not imputed, where there is no law; but God has given a law, which is holy, just, and good; and which shows what is his good and perfect will; and this law has a sanction annexed to it, as every law should have, or it will be of no force to oblige to an observance of it, and deter from disobedience to it; and the sanction of the law of God is nothing less than death, than death eternal; which is the just wages, and proper demerit of sin, and which God has declared he will inflict upon the transgressor; “In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die:” now the veracity, truth, and faithfulness of God, are engaged to see this sanction established, and threatening executed; either upon the transgressor himself, or upon a surety for him; for the judgment of God is, that such a person is worthy of death; and his judgment is according to truth; and will and does most certainly take place.
1b3. The wisdom of God makes it necessary that sin should not be forgiven, without a satisfaction; for it is not the wisdom of any legislature, to suffer the law not to take place in a delinquent; it is always through weakness that it is admitted, either through fear, or through favour and affection; and this may be called tenderness, lenity, and clemency; but it is not justice: and it tends to weaken the authority of the legislator, to bring government under contempt, and to embolden transgressors of the law, in hope of impunity. The all wise Lawgiver can never be thought to act such a part: besides, the scheme of men’s peace and reconciliation by Christ, is represented as the highest act of wisdom, known to be wrought by God; for “herein he has abounded towards us in all wisdom and prudence:” but where is the consummate wisdom of it, if it could have been in an easier way, at less expense, without the sufferings and death of his Son? had there been another and a better way, infinite wisdom would have found it out, and divine grace and mercy would have pursued it.
1b4. Nor does it seem so well to agree with the great love and affection of God, to his Son Jesus Christ, said to be his beloved Son, the dear Son of his love; to send him into this world in the likeness of sinful flesh—to be vilified and abused by the worst of men—to be buffeted, lashed, and tortured, by a set of miscreants and to put him to the most cruel and shameful death, to make reconciliation for sin, if sin could have been forgiven, and the sinner saved, without all this, by a hint, a nod, a word speaking; “Thy sins are forgiven thee,” and thou shall be saved! Nor does it so fully express the love of God to his saved ones; but tends to lessen and lower that love. God giving his Son to suffer and die, in the room and stead of sinners, and to be the propitiation for their sins, is always ascribed to the love of God, and represented as the strongest expression of it! But where is the greatness of this love, if salvation could have been done at an easier rate? and, indeed, if it could have been done in another way: the greatness of it appears, in that either the sinner must die, or Christ die for him; such was the love of God, that he chose the latter! To all this may be added, as evincing the necessity of a satisfaction for sin, that there is something of it appears by the very light of nature, in the heathens, who have nothing else to direct them; they are sensible by it, when sin is committed, deity is offended; else what mean those accusations of conscience upon sinning, and dreadful horrors and terrors of mind? witness also, the various, though foolish and fruitless methods they have taken, to appease the anger of God; as even to give their firstborn for their transgression, and the fruit of their body for the sin of their souls; which shows their sense of a necessity of making some sort of satisfaction for offences committed; and of appeasing justice, or vengeance, as they call their deity (Acts 28:4). The various sacrifices of the Jews, they were directed to under the former dispensation, plainly show the necessity of a satisfaction for sin; and plainly point out forgiveness of sin, as proceeding upon it; though they themselves could not really, only typically, expiate sin, make atonement and satisfaction for it. But if God could forgive sin without any satisfaction at all, why not forgive it upon the foot of those sacrifices? The reason is plain, Because he could not, consistent with himself, do it without the sacrifice of his Son, typified by them. Therefore it may be strongly concluded, that a plenary satisfaction for sin, by what Christ has done and suffered, was absolutely necessary to the forgiveness of sin; “Without shedding of blood is no remission,” neither typical nor real; without it there never was, never will be, nor never could be, any forgiveness of sin (Heb. 9:22).
2. The ground and foundation of satisfaction for sin by Christ, and the cause and spring of it.
2a. First, The ground and foundation on which it is laid, and upon which it proceeds, are the council and covenant of grace, and the suretyship engagements of Christ therein.
2a1. The scheme of making peace with God, or of appeasing divine justice, and of making reconciliation for sin, that is, satisfaction for it, was planned in the everlasting council; which, from thence is called, “the council of peace,” (Zech. 6:13). “God was” then “in Christ,” or with Christ, “reconciling the world,” the whole number of the elect, “to himself;” that is, they were consulting together to form the plan of their reconciliation and salvation; and the method they pitched upon was, “not imputing their trespasses to them;” not to reckon and place to their account, their sins and iniquities, and insist upon a satisfaction for them from themselves; for God knew, that if he made a demand of satisfaction for them on them, they could not answer him, one man of a thousand, no, not one at all; nor for one sin of a thousand, no, not for a single one; and that if he brought a charge of sin against them, they must be condemned; for they would not be able to give one reason, or say anything on their own behalf, why judgment should not proceed against them; wherefore, “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?” since God will not, whoever does, it will be of no avail against them; for “it is God that justifies” them: and happy are the persons interested in this glorious scheme, to whom the Lord “imputeth not iniquity:” and it was also further devised in this council, to impute the transgressions of the said persons to Christ, the Son of God; which, though not expressed in the text referred to (2 Cor. 5:19), yet it is implied and understood, and in clear and full terms signified, in the verse following but one, in which the account of the scheme of reconciliation is continued; “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin;” that is, the sinless Jesus, who was made sin, not inherently, by a transfusion of sin into him, which his holy nature would not admit of; but imputatively, by a transfer of the guilt of sin unto him, by placing it to his account, and making him answerable for it; which was done, not merely at the time of his sufferings and death, though then God openly and manifestly “laid upon him,” or made to meet on him, “the iniquity of us all,” of all the Lord’s people, when “the chastisement of their peace was on him;” or the punishment of their sin was inflicted on him, to make peace for them; but as early as the council of peace was held, and the above method was concerted and agreed to, or Christ became a Surety for his people, so early were their sins imputed to him, and he became responsible for them; and this laid the foundation of his making satisfaction for sin. For,
2a2. The scheme drawn in council, was settled in covenant; which, on that account, is called “the covenant of peace,” (Isa. 54:10; Mal. 2:5) in which covenant Christ was called to be a Priest; for Christ glorified not himself to be called one; but his father bestowed this honour on him, and consecrated, constituted, and ordained him a Priest with an oath (Ps. 110:4). Now the principal business of a priest, was to make reconciliation and atonement for sin; for the sake of this Christ was called to this office; and it was signified to him in covenant, that he should not offer such sacrifices and offerings as were offered up under the law, which could not take away sin, or atone for it; and though God would have these offered, as typical of Christ’s atoning sacrifice, from the beginning, throughout the former dispensation, to the coming of Christ; yet it was not his will that any of this sort should be offered by him; “Sacrifice and offering thou wouldst not:” and therefore, though Christ was a Priest, he never offered any legal sacrifice; but when anything of this kind was necessary to be done for persons he was concerned with, he always sent them to carry their offerings to a priest; as in the case of cleansing lepers (Matthew 8:4; Luke 17:14), a sacrifice of another kind, and to answer a greater purpose, was to be offered by him, and which in covenant was provided; “A body hast thou prepared me,” which is put for the whole human nature; for not the body of Christ only, but his soul also, were made an offering for sin (Heb. 10:5, 10; Isa. 53:10), and this offering for sin was made by Christ’s suffering and dying in the room and stead of sinners, when he was wounded for their transgressions, and bruised for their sins, and stricken for their iniquities; that is, to make satisfaction for them; this was what was enjoined in covenant; this commandment he received from his Father, and he was obedient to it, even to die the death of the cross; and this work was proposed and appointed to him in covenant, and declared in prophecy, in order to finish transgression, make an end of sin, and make reconciliation for iniquity; and this he did by the sacrifice of himself. Now as this whole scheme was drawn in council, and settled in covenant, it was proposed to Christ, and he readily agreed to it, and became the surety of the covenant, the better testament; and engaged to assume human nature, to do and suffer in it, all that the law and justice of God could require, and should demand of him, in the room and stead of sinners, in order to make full satisfaction for their sins, of which the above things are the ground and foundation. Now,
2a3. There is nothing in this whole transaction that is injurious to any person or thing, or that is chargeable with any unrighteousness; but all is agreeable to the rules of justice and judgment.
2a3a. No injury is done to Christ by his voluntary substitution in the room and stead of sinners, to make satisfaction for their sins; for as he was able, so he was willing to make it; he assuming human nature, was qualified to obey and suffer, he had somewhat to offer as a sacrifice; as man, he had blood to shed for the remission of sin, and a life to lay down for the ransom of sinners; and as God, he could support the human nature in union with him under the weight of sin laid on it; and bear the whole of the punishment due unto it with cheerfulness, courage, and strength: and as he was able, so he was willing; he said in covenant, when it was proposed to him, “Lo, I come to do thy will;” and at the fulness of time he readily came to do it, went about it as soon as possible, counted it his meat and drink to perform it, and was constant at it; and what was most distressing and disagreeable to flesh and blood, he most earnestly wished for, even his bloody baptism, sufferings, and death; and “volenti non fit injuria”. Besides, he had a right to dispose of his own life; and therefore in laying it down did no injustice to any: the civil law will not admit that one man should die for another; the reason is, because no man has a right to dispose of his own life; but Christ had, “I have power,” says he, “to lay it down;” that is, his life (John 10:18), hence he is called, “The prince of life,” both with respect to his own life, and the life of others (Acts 3:15), and accordingly it was in his power to give it as a redemption price for his people; wherefore he says, he came “to give his life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28), and which he did give; and he also had a power to take it up again: was a good man admitted by the civil law to die for a bad man, it would be a loss to the commonwealth, and is another reason why it is not allowed of; but Christ, as he laid down his life for sinners, so he could and did take it up again, and that quickly; he was delivered to death for the offences of men, to satisfy justice for them; and then he rose again for the justification of them; he died once, and continued a little while under the power of death, but it was not possible for him to be held long by it; when through it he had made satisfaction for sin, he rose from the dead, and will die no more, but will live for ever for the good of his people. Nor is the human nature of Christ a loser but a gainer by his sufferings and death; for having finished his work, he is glorified with the glory promised him in covenant before the world was; is crowned with glory and honour, highly exalted above every creature, has a place at the right hand of God, where angels have not; angels, authorities, and powers, being subject to him; nor has the human nature any reason to complain, nor did it ever complain of any loss sustained by suffering in the room and stead of sinners, and by working out their salvation.
2a3b. Nor is there any unjust thing done by God throughout this whole transaction; there is no unrighteousness in him, in his nature, nor in any of his ways and works; nor in this affair, which was done “to declare his righteousness, that he might be just,” appear to be just, “and be the justifier of him that believes in Jesus;” upon the foot of a perfect righteousness, and full satisfaction made for sin. The person sent to do this work, and who was given up into the hands of justice, and not spared, was one God had a property in, he was his own Son, his only begotten Son; and it was with his own consent he delivered him up for all his people; and who being their surety, and having engaged to pay their debts, and to answer for any hurt, damage, or wrong done by them; and having voluntarily taken their sins upon him, and these being found on him by the justice of God; it could be no unrighteous thing to make a demand of satisfaction for them; and accordingly “it was exacted, and he answered,” as the former part of Isaiah 53:7 may be rendered; that is, satisfaction was required of him, and he answered to the demand made upon him; and where is the unrighteousness of this? Christ’s name was in the obligation, and that only; and therefore he was the only person that justice could lay hold upon, and get satisfaction from: besides, there was a conjunction, an union, a relation between Christ and his people, previous to his making satisfaction for them; which lay at the bottom of it, and showed a reason for it; as in all such cases where the sins of one have been punished on another; as when God has visited the iniquities of fathers upon the children, there is the relation of fathers and children; and the fathers are punished in the children, as being parts of them; thus Ham, the son of Noah, was the transgressor, but the curse was denounced and fell on Canaan his son, and Ham was punished in him; when David numbered the people, and so many thousands suffered for it, here was a relation of king and subjects, who were one in a civil sense, and the one were punished for the other. Thus Christ and his people are one, both in a natural sense, being of the same nature, and partakers of the same flesh and blood; and so satisfaction for sin was made in the same nature that sinned, as it was fit it should; and in a law sense, as a surety and debtor are one, so that if one pay the debt it is the same as if the other did it; and in a mystical sense, as head and members are one, as Christ and his people be head and members of the same body, so that if one suffer, the rest suffer with it; nor is it any unjust thing, if one part of the body sins another suffers for it; as, if the head commits the offence, and the back is punished: Christ and his people are one, as husband and wife are, who are one flesh; and therefore there can be no impropriety, much less injustice, in Christ’s giving himself a ransom price for his church, to redeem her from slavery; or an offering and sacrifice for her, to make atonement for her transgressions: and as there appears to be no unrighteousness in God through this whole affair, so far as he was concerned in it, so there is no injury done him through a satisfaction being made by another; for hereby all the divine perfections are glorified (Ps. 85:10).
2a3c. Nor is there any injury done to the law of God; it has the whole of its demands, no part remaining unsatisfied; for it is neither abrogated nor relaxed; there is a change of the person making satisfaction to it, which is favorably allowed by the lawgiver; but there is no change of the sanction of the law, of the punishment it requires; that is not abated. The law is so far from being a loser by the change of persons in giving it satisfaction, that it is a great gainer; the law is magnified and made honorable; more honorable by Christ’s obedience to it, than by the obedience of the saints and angels in heaven; and is made more honorable by the sufferings of Christ, in bearing the penal sanction of it, than by all the sufferings of the damned in hell to all eternity (Isa. 42:21).
2b. Secondly, The causes, spring, and source of satisfaction.
2b1. So far as God the Father was concerned in it, he may be said to be an efficient cause of it, and his love the moving cause; he was at the first of it, he began it, made the first motion, set it in motion; “All things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 5:18), he called a council upon it, he contrived the scheme of it, he set forth Christ in his eternal purposes and decrees to be the propitiation for sin, to make satisfaction for it; and he sent him in the fulness of time for that purpose; he laid on him the iniquities of his people, and made him sin for them by imputation; he bruised him, and put him to grief, and made his soul an offering for sin; he spared him not, but delivered him into the hands of justice and death; and what moved him to this, was his great love to his people (John 3:16; 1 John 4:10).
2b2. In like manner Christ may be considered as an efficient cause, and his love as a moving cause in this affair; he came into the world to die for sinners, and redeem them to God by his blood; he laid down his life for them; he gave himself for them an offering and a sacrifice unto God, a propitiatory, expiatory one; and what moved him to it, was his great love to them, and kindness for them; “Hereby perceive we the love of God,” that is, of God the Son, “because he laid down his life for us” (1 John 3:16), and the love of Christ is frequently premised to his giving himself to die in the room of his people (Gal. 2:20; Eph 5:2, 25).
3. The matter of satisfaction, or what that is which gives satisfaction to the justice of God; so that a sinner upon it, or in consideration of it, is acquitted and discharged; and this is no other than Christ’s fulfilling the whole law, in the room and stead of sinners; this was what he undertook in covenant; hence he said, “Thy law is within my heart;” he was willing and ready to fulfil it; and when he came into the world, by his incarnation he was made under it voluntarily, and became subject to it, for he came not to destroy it, but to fulfil it; and he is become “the end of the law,” the fulfilling end of it, to everyone that believes: he has fulfilled it,
3a. By obeying the precepts of it, and answering all that it requires. Does it require an holy nature? it has it in him, who is “holy, harmless, and undefiled;” does it require perfect and sinless obedience? it is found in him, who did no sin, never transgressed the law in one instance, but always did the things which pleased his Father; and who has declared himself “well pleased for his righteousness sake,” and with it; and that as wrought out for his people by his active obedience to the law, which is so approved of by God, that he imputes it without works for the justification of them (Rom. 4:6; 5:19). Nor is it any objection to this doctrine that Christ, as man, was obliged to yield obedience to the law for himself, which is true; but then it should be observed, that as he assumed human nature, or became man, for the sake of his people, “to us,” or for us, “a child is born;” so it was for their sake he yielded obedience to the law. Besides, though he was obliged to it as man, yet he was not obliged to yield it in such a state and condition as he did; in a state of humiliation, in a course of sorrow and affliction, in a suffering state throughout the whole of his life, even unto death; for the human nature of Christ, from the moment of its union to the Son of God, was entitled to glory and happiness; so that its obedience to the law in such a low estate was quite voluntary, and what he was not obliged unto: nor is it to be argued from Christ’s yielding obedience for his people, that then they are exempted from it; they are not; they are under the law to Christ, and under greater obligation to obey it; they are not obliged to obey it in like manner, or for such purposes that Christ obeyed it, even to justify them before God, and entitle them to eternal life.
3b. Christ has fulfilled the law and satisfied it, by bearing the penalty of it in the room and stead of his people, which is death of every kind (Gen. 3:19; Rom. 6:23), corporal death, which includes all afflictions, griefs, sorrows, poverty, and disgrace, which Christ endured throughout his state of humiliation; for he took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses; and was a man of sorrows, and acquainted with griefs all his days; and all that he suffered in his body, when he gave his back to the smiters, and his cheeks to them that plucked off the hair; when he was buffeted and smitten with the palms of the hand in the palace of the high priest; and was whipped and scourged by the order of Pilate; his head crowned with thorns, and his hands and feet pierced with nails on the cross, where he hung for the space of three hours in great agonies and distress; and some have confined his satisfactory sufferings to what tie underwent during that time, which though very great indeed, and none can tell what he endured in soul and body, in that space of time; yet these, exclusive of what he endured before and after, must not be considered as the only punishment he endured by way of satisfaction for the sins of men; the finishing and closing part of which was death, and what the law required; and hence making peace and reconciliation are ascribed to the bloodshed and death of Christ on the cross (Col. 1:20; Rom. 5:10), which death was a bloody, cruel, and painful one, as the thing itself speaks, and the description of it shows (Ps. 22:15, 16), and was also a very shameful and ignominious one, the death of slaves, and of the worst of malefactors; and was likewise an accursed one, and showed, that as Christ was made sin for his people, and had their sins charged upon him, so he was made a curse for them, and bore the whole curse of the law that was due unto them (Gal. 3:13). Moreover, Christ not only endured a corporal death, and all that was contained in it, and connected with it, or suffered in his body; but in his soul also, through the violent temptations of Satan, “he suffered, being tempted;” and through the reproaches that were cast upon him, which entered into his soul, and broke his heart; and through his agonies in the garden, when his soul was exceeding sorrowful, even unto death; and especially through his sufferings on the cross, when his soul, as well as his body, was made au offering for sin; and when he sustained what was tantamount to an eternal death, which lies in a separation from God, and a sense of divine wrath; both which Christ then endured, when God deserted him, and hid his face from him; which made him say, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me!” and he a dreadful sense of divine wrath, on the account of the sins of his people laid upon him, the punishment of which he bore; when he said, “Thou hast cast off and abhorred, thou hast been wrath with thine anointed,” thy Messiah (Ps. 89:38), and thus by doing and suffering all that the law and justice of God could require, he made full and complete satisfaction thereunto for his people; it was not barely some thing, some little matter, which Christ gave, and with which God was content, and what is called “acceptilation;” but a proper, full, and adequate satisfaction, which he gave, so that nothing more in point of justice could be required of him.
4. The form or manner in which satisfaction was made by Christ; which was by bearing the sins of his people, under an imputation of them to him, and by dying for their sins, and for sinners; that is, in their room and stead, as their substitute; these are the phrases by which it is expressed in scripture.
4a. First, By bearing the sins of his people, which we first read of in Isaiah 53:11, 12 where two words are made use of, both alike translated: “And he bare the sin of many,” נשא he took, he lifted them up, he took them off of his people, and took them upon himself; and again, “He shall bear their iniquities,” ׳סבל, as a man bears and carries a burden upon his shoulders; and from hence is the use of the phrase in the New Testament: the author of the epistle to Hebrews in 9:28 observes, that “Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many;” pointing at the time when he bore the sins of many; it was when he was offered up a sacrifice to make atonement for them; and the apostle Peter observes where he bore them; “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree!” (1 Pet. 2:24). “He bore them in his own body,” in the body of his flesh; when that was offered once for all; and “on the tree,” upon the cross, when he was crucified on it. Now his bearing sin, supposes it was upon him: there was no sin “in” him, inherently, in his nature and life; had there been any, he would not have been a fit person to take away sin, to expiate it, and make satisfaction for it; he was manifested to take away our sins; that is, by the sacrifice of himself; and in him is no sin (1 John 3:5), and so a fit sacrifice for it: but sin was upon him, it was “put” upon him, as the sins of Israel were “put upon” the scapegoat, by Aaron. Sin was put upon Christ by his divine Father; no creature could have done it, neither angel nor men; but “the Lord hath laid on him,” or “made to meet on him,” “the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:6), not a single iniquity, but a whole mass and lump of sins collected together, and laid, as a common burden, upon him; even of us all, of all the elect of God, both Jews and Gentiles; for Christ became the propitiation, or made satisfaction, for the sins of both (1 John 2:2). This phrase, of laying sin on Christ, is expressive of the imputation of it to him; for as it was the will of God, not to impute the trespasses of his elect to themselves; it was his pleasure they should be imputed to Christ, which was done by an act of his own; “For he hath made him to be sin for us;” that is, by imputation, in which way we are “made the righteousness of God in him;” that being imputed to us by him, as our sins were to Christ: the sense is, a charge of sin was brought against him, as the surety of his people; “he was numbered with the transgressors;” bearing the sins of many, he was reckoned as if he had been one, sin being imputed to him; and was dealt with, by the justice of God, as such; sin being found on him, through imputation, a demand of satisfaction for sin was made; and he answered it to the full. All this was with his own consent; he agreed to have sin laid on him, and imputed to him, and a charge of it brought against him, to which he engaged to be responsible; yea, he himself took the sins of his people on him; so the evangelist Matthew has it: “Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses” (Matthew 8:17), as he took their nature, so he took their sins, which made his flesh to have “the likeness of sinful flesh,” though it really was not sinful.
What Christ bore, being laid on him, and imputed to him, were sins, all sorts of sin, original and actual; sins of every kind, open and secret, of heart, lip, and life; all acts of sin committed by his people; for he has redeemed them from all their iniquities; and God, for Christ’s sake, forgives all trespasses; his blood cleanses from all sin, and his righteousness justifies from all; all being imputed to him, as that is to them: all that is in sin, and belongs to sin, were bore by him; the turpitude and filth of sin, without being defiled by it, which cannot be separated from it; and the guilt of sin, which was transferred to him, and obliged to punishment; and particularly the punishment itself, sin is often put for the punishment of sin (Gen. 4:13; Lam. 5:7), and is greatly meant, and always included, when Christ is said to bear it; even all the punishment due to the sins of his people: and which is called, “the chastisement of our peace,” said to be “upon him” (Isa. 53:5), that is, the punishment inflicted on him, in order to make peace, reconciliation, and atonement for sin. Bearing sin, supposes it to be a burden; and, indeed, it is a burden too heavy to bear by a sensible sinner: when sin is charged home upon the conscience, and a saint groans, being burdened with it, what must that burden be, and how heavy the load Christ bore, consisting of all the sins of all the elect; from the beginning of the world to the end of it? and yet he sunk not, but stood up under it, failed not, nor was he discouraged, being the mighty God, and the Man of God’s right hand, made strong for himself: and he himself bore it; not any with him, to take any part with him, to help and assist him; his shoulders alone bore it, on which it was laid; and his own arm alone brought salvation to him. And he bore it, and bore it away; he removed the iniquity of his people in one day; and that as far as the East is from the West: and in this he was typified by the scapegoat, on whom were put all the iniquities, transgressions, and sins, of all the children of Israel, on the day of atonement, and which were all borne by the scapegoat to a land not inhabited (Lev. 16:21, 22). Aaron was also a type of Christ, in bearing the sins of the holy things of the people of Israel, when he went into the holy place (Ex. 28:38). And the sin offering was typical of the sacrifice of Christ, which is said to bear the iniquities of the congregation, and to make atonement for them (Lev. 10:17).
4b. Secondly, The form and manner in which Christ made satisfaction for sin, is expressed by “dying for sin,” that is, to make atonement for it; and “for sinners;” that is, in their room and stead, as their substitute.
4b1. By dying for the sins of his people; this the apostle represents as the first and principal article of the Christian faith, “that Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3), according to the scriptures of the Old Testament, which speak of Christ being “cut off,” in a judicial way, by death, but not for himself, for any sin of his own; and of his being wounded, bruised, and stricken, but not for his own transgressions and iniquities; but as “wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, and stricken for the transgressions of his people” (Dan. 9:26; Isa. 53:5, 8), that is, wounded and bruised unto death, and stricken with death; which death was inflicted on him as a punishment for the sins of his people, to expiate them, and make atonement for them, being laid on him, and bore by him: the meaning of the phrases is, that the sins of his people were the procuring and meritorious causes of his death; just as when the apostle says, “for which things sake;” that is, for sins before mentioned; “the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience” (Col. 3:6), the sense is, that sins are the procuring, meritorious causes of the wrath of God, being stirred up, and poured down upon disobedient sinners: so, in like manner, when Christ is said to be delivered into the hands of justice and death, “for our offences;” the sense is, that our offences were the meritorious cause why he was put to death, he bearing them, and standing in our room and stead; as his resurrection from the dead, having made satisfaction for sins, was the meritorious and procuring cause of our justification from them; as follows, “and was raised again for our justification” (Rom. 4:25). The Socinians urge, and insist upon it, that the particle “for,” used in the above phrases, signifies not the procuring, meritorious cause, but the final cause of Christ’s death; which they say was this, to confirm the doctrines and practices he taught, that men, by obedience to them, might have the forgiveness of their sins: which is a doctrine very false; for though Christ did, both by the example of his life, and by his sufferings and death, confirm the truths he taught, which is but what a martyr does; and that though through the grace of God, his people do obey from the heart the doctrines and ordinances delivered to them; yet it is not by their obedience of faith and duty, that they obtain the forgiveness of their sins; but through the blood of Christ, shed for many, for the remission of sins.
4b2. By dying for sinners, as their substitute, in their room; so the several Greek particles, αντι, υπερ, περι, used in this phrase, and others equivalent to it, signify a surrogation, a substitute of one for another; as in various passages in the New Testament; (see Matthew 2:21; 5:38) and in various writers, as has been observed by many, with full proof and evidence, and most dearly in the scriptures, where Christ’s sufferings and death are spoken of as for others; thus Christ gave his life “a ransom for many,” in the room and stead of many (Matthew 20:28), so he himself is said to be αντιλυτρον, “a ransom for all,” in the room and stead of “all” his people, Jews and Gentiles. The prophecy of Caiaphas was, “That one Man should die for the people,” in the room and stead of them (John 11:50). “Christ died for the ungodly,” in the room and stead of the ungodly; “While we were yet sinners Christ died for us,” in our room and stead (Rom. 5:6-8). Again, “Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust,” in the room and stead of the unjust (1Pet. 3:18). The Socinians say, that these phrases only mean, Christ died for the good of men: that Christ became a Surety for good to his people, and has obtained good for them, by performing his suretyship engagements, is certain; yet this good he has obtained by obeying, suffering, and dying, in their room and stead: thus that the blessing of Abraham, even all the spiritual blessings of the everlasting covenant, might come upon the Gentiles, through Christ, he was “made a curse for them,” in their room; he bore the whole curse of the law for them, as their substitute, and so opened a way for their enjoyment of the blessings, or good things, in the covenant of grace; and that sinners might be made the righteousness of God in him, or have his righteousness imputed to them for their justification; he was “made sin for them,” had their sins laid on him, and imputed to him, as their substitute; and was made a sacrifice for sin in their room and stead, to make atonement for it (see Gal. 3:13, 14; 2 Cor. 5:21). This is the greatest instance of love among men, “that a man lay down his life” υπερ, “for,” in the room and stead of, “his friend” (John 15:13), and such was the love of Christ to his church, “that he gave,” delivered “himself” to death υπερ αυτης, for her, in her room and stead (Eph 5:25).
5. The effects of satisfaction made by Christ, or the ends that were to be, and have been answered by it.
5a. The finishing and making an entire end of sin; this was Christ’s work assigned him in covenant, and asserted in prophecy; and which was done when he made reconciliation or atonement for sin (Dan. 9:24), not that the being of sin was removed thereby; for that remains in all the justified and sanctified ones, in this life, but the damning power of it; such for Christ has made satisfaction, shall never come into condemnation, nor be hurt by the second death, that shall have no power over them; sin is so done, and put away, and abolished, by the sacrifice of Christ for it, that no charge can ever be brought against his people for it; the curse of the law cannot reach them, nor light upon them; nor any sentence of condemnation and death can be executed on them; nor any punishment inflicted on them; they are secure from wrath to come. Sin is so finished and made an end of, by Christ’s satisfaction for it, that it will be seen no more by the eye of avenging Justice; it is so put away, and out of sight, that when it is sought for, it shall not be found; God, for Christ’s sake, has cast it behind his back, and into the depths of the sea.
5b. In virtue of Christ’s satisfaction for sin, his people are brought into an open state of reconciliation with God; atonement being made for their sins, their persons are reconciled to God, and they are admitted into open favour with him; and he declares himself “pacified towards them, for all that they have done” (Ezek. 16:63).
5c. Sin being atoned for, and made an end of, an everlasting righteousness is brought in, with which God is well pleased; because by it his law is magnified and made honorable; all its demands being fully answered, by Christ’s obeying its precepts, and bearing its penalty; which righteousness God so approves of, that he imputes it to his people, without works; and so it is unto all, and upon all, them that believe, as their justifying righteousness; which acquits them from sin, and entitles them to eternal life.
5d. Immunity from all evil; that is, from all penal evil, both in this life, and in that to come, is an effect of Christ’s satisfaction for sin; since sin being removed by it, no evil can come nigh them; no curse attends their blessings; no wrath is in their afflictions; all things work together for their good; it is always well with them in life, in all the circumstances of it; at death, they die in the Lord, in union to him, in faith, and hope of being for ever with him; and at judgment, the Judge will be their Friend and Saviour, and it will be well with them to all eternity; they will be eternally delivered from wrath to come.
5e. With respect to God, the effect of Christ’s satisfaction is the glorifying of his justice; for, for that end was Christ “set forth to be the propitiation,” or to make atonement for sin; to declare the righteousness of God, to show it in all its strictness, “that he might be just, and the justifier of him that believes in Jesus;” appear to be just in so doing; yea, all the divine perfections are glorified hereby; (see Rom. 3:25, 26; Ps 21:5).
There are many objections made by the Socinians, to this important doctrine, and article of faith; some of the principal of which are as follow:
5e1. It is suggested, as if the doctrine of satisfaction for sin to the justice of God, is inconsistent with the mercy of God, and leaves no room for that. But the attributes of mercy and justice, are not contrary to each other. They subsist and accord together, in the same divine nature; “Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful” (Ps. 116:5), merciful, though righteous; and righteous, though gracious and merciful; (see Ex. 34:6, 7) and as they agree as perfections in the divine Being; so in the exercise of them, they do not clash with one another, no, not in this affair of satisfaction; justice being satisfied, a way is opened for mercy to display her stores (Ps. 85:10).
5e2. It is objected, that pardon of sin, upon the foot of a full satisfaction for it, cannot be said to be free; but eclipses the glory of God’s free grace in it: it is certain, that remission of sin is through the tender mercy of God, and is owing to the multitude of it; it is according to the riches of free grace, and yet through the blood of Christ: and both are expressed in one verse, as entirely agreeing together; “In whom (Christ) we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Eph 1:7), the free grace of God is so far from being eclipsed, in the forgiveness of sin, through the satisfaction of Christ, that it shines the brighter for it; for consider, that it was the free grace of God which provided Christ to be a sacrifice for sin, to atone for it; as Abraham said to Isaac, when he asked, “Where is the lamb for a burnt offering? My son,” says he, “God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering” (Gen. 22:7, 8), so God, of his rich grace and mercy, has provided Christ to bean offering for sin; and his grace appears more, in that it is his own Son, his only begotten Son, he provided to be the atoning sacrifice; it was grace that set forth Christ in purpose, proposed him in council and covenant, and sent him forth in time to be the propitiation for sin: it was grace to us that he spared him not, but delivered him up for us all: and it was grace in God to accept of the satisfaction made by Christ; for though it was so full and complete, as nothing could be more so; yet it would have been a refusable one, had he not allowed Christ’s name to be put in the obligation: had it not been for the compact and covenant agreed to between them, God might have marked, in strict justice, our iniquities, and insisted on a satisfaction at our own hands; he might have declared, and stood by it, that the soul that sinned, that should die: it was therefore owing to the free grace and favour of God, to admit of a Surety in our room, to make satisfaction for us, and to accept of that satisfaction, as if made by ourselves. Moreover, though it cost Christ much, his blood, his life, and the sufferings of death, to make the satisfaction for sin, and to procure forgiveness by it; it cost us nothing; it is all of free grace to us. Besides, grace in scripture is only opposed to the works of men, and satisfaction by them, and not to the works of Christ, and to his satisfaction.
5e3. It is pretended, that this scheme of pardon, upon the foot of satisfaction, makes the love of Christ to men, to be greater than the love of the Father; it represents the one as tenderly affectionate, compassionate, and kind to sinners; and the other as inexorable, not to be appeased, nor his wrath turned away without satisfaction to his justice; and so men are more beholden to the one than to the other: but the love of both is most strongly expressed in this business of Christ’s satisfaction; and he must be a daring man that will take upon him to say, who of them showed the greatest love, the Father in giving his Son, or the Son in giving himself, to be the propitiatory sacrifice for sin; for as it is said of Christ, that he loved the people, and gave himself for them, an offering and a sacrifice of a sweet smelling savor to God (Eph. 5:2, 25; Gal. 2:20), so it is said of the Father, that he “so loved the world,” that he gave his only begotten Son to suffer and die for men; and that herein his love was manifested; and that he commended it towards us, in sending Christ to be the propitiation for sin (John 3:16; 1 John 4:9, 10; Rom. 5:8). Can there be greater love than this expressed by both? and which is greatest is not for us to say.
5e4. It is said, that if Christ is a divine Person, he must be a party offended by sin; and if he has made satisfaction for it, he must have made satisfaction to himself; which is represented as an absurdity. All this will be allowed, that Christ is God, and, as such, equally offended as his Father; and that he made satisfaction to the offended, and that, in some sense, to himself too; and yet no absurdity in it. Indeed, in case of private satisfaction, for a private loss, it would be quite absurd for one to make satisfaction to himself; but in case of public satisfaction, for a public offence to a community, of which he is a part, he may be said, by making satisfaction to the whole body, to make satisfaction to himself, without any absurdity. A member of parliament, having violated the rules and laws of the house, when he makes satisfaction for the same to it, may be said to make satisfaction to himself, being a member of it. It is possible for a lawgiver to make satisfaction to his own law broken, and so to himself, as the lawgiver: thus Zaleucus, a famous legislator, made a law which punished adultery with the loss of both eyes; his own son first broke this law, and in order that the law might have full satisfaction, and yet mercy shown to his son, he ordered one of his son’s eyes, and one of his own, to be put out; and so he might be said to satisfy his own law, and to make satisfaction to himself, the lawgiver. But in the case before us, the satisfaction made by Christ, is made to the justice of God, subsisting in the divine nature, common to all the three Persons; this perfection subsisting in the divine nature, as possessed by the first Person, is offended with sin, resents it, requires satisfaction for it; and it is given it by the second Person, in human nature, as God man: the same divine perfection subsisting in the divine nature, as possessed by the second Person, shows itself in like manner, loving righteousness, and hating iniquity; affronted by sin, and demanding satisfaction for it, it is given to it by him, as the God man and Mediator; who, though a Person offended, can mediate for the offender, and make satisfaction for him. And the same may be observed concerning the justice of God, as a perfection of the divine nature, possessed by the third Person, the Spirit of God; the satisfaction is made to the justice of God, as subsisting in the divine nature, common to the three Persons; and is not made to one Person only, singly and separately, and personally; but to God, essentially considered, in all his Persons; and to his justice, as equally possessed by them; and that as the Lord, Judge, and Governor of the whole world; who ought to maintain, and must and does maintain, the honour of his Majesty, and of his law.
5e5. Once more, it is said that this doctrine of Christ’s satisfaction for sin, weakens men’s obligation to duty, and opens a door to licentiousness. But this is so far from being true, that, on the contrary, it strengthens the obligation, and excites a greater regard to duty, in those who have reason to believe that Christ has made satisfaction for their sins; for the love of Christ in dying for them—in being made sin and a curse for them, to satisfy for their sins, constrains them, in the most pressing manner, to live to him, according to his will, and to his glory; being bought with the price of Christ’s blood, and redeemed from a vain conversation by it; they are moved the more strongly to glorify God with their bodies and spirits, which are his, and to pass the time of their sojourning here in fear; the grace of God, which has appeared in God’s gift of his Son, and in Christ’s gift of himself to be their Redeemer and Saviour, to be their atoning sacrifice; teaches them most effectually to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this evil world (2 Cor. 5:14; 1 Cor. 6:20; 1 Pet. 1:17, 18; Tit. 2:11, 12).
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