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§ 6. Proof of the Doctrine.
The Scriptural evidence in support of this great doctrine, as far as it can well be presented within reasonable limits, has already, in great measure, been exhibited, in the statement and vindication of the several elements which it includes.
It has been shown, (1.) That the work of Christ for our salvation, was a real satisfaction of infinite inherent dignity and worth. (2.) That it was a satisfaction not to commutative justice (as paying a sum of money would be), nor to the rectoral justice or benevolence of God, but to his distributive and vindicatory justice which renders necessary the punishment of sin; and (3.) That it was a satisfaction to the law of God, meeting its demands of a perfect righteousness for the justification of sinners. If these points be admitted, the Church doctrine concerning the satisfaction, or 496atonement of Christ, is admitted in all that is essential to its integrity. It remains, therefore, only to refer to certain classes of passages and modes of representation pervading the Scriptures, which assume or assert the truth of all the principles above stated.
Christ saves us as our Priest.
Christ is said to save men as a priest. It is not by the mere exercise of power, nor by instruction and mental illumination; nor by any objective, persuasive, moral influence; nor by any subjective operation, whether natural or supernatural, whether intelligible or mystical, but by acting for them the part of a representative, substitute, propitiator, and intercessor. It was in the Old Testament foretold that the Messiah was to be both priest and king, that he was to be a priest after the order of Melchisedec. In the New Testament, and especially in the Epistle to the Hebrews, which is devoted almost exclusively to the exhibition of the priestly character and work of Christ, it is taught, —
1. That a priest is a substitute or representative, appointed to do for sinners what they could not do for themselves. Their guilt and pollution forbid their access to God. Someone, therefore, must be authorized to appear before God in their behalf, and effect reconciliation of God to sinners.
2. That this reconciliation can only be effected by means of an expiation for sin. The guilt of sin can be removed in no other way. Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission. A priest, therefore, is one appointed for men (i.e., to act in their behalf), to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sin.
3. That this expiation was effected by the substitution of a victim in the place of the sinner, to die in his stead, i.e., in Scriptural language, “to bear his sins.” “Guilt,” says Ebrard, in a passage already quoted, “can be removed only by being actually punished, i.e. expiated. Either the sinner himself must bear the punishment, or a substitute must be found, which can assume the guilt, bear the penalty, and give the freedom from guilt or righteousness thus secured, to the offender.”424424Dogmatik, II. iii. 1, § 401. Königsberg, 1852, vol. ii. p. 159. This he gives as the fundamental idea of the epistle to the Hebrews.
4. Such being the nature of the priesthood and the way in which a priest saves those for whom he acts, the Apostle shows, first, with regard to the priests under the old economy, that such was the method, ordained by God, by which the remission of ceremonial sins and restoration to the privileges of the theocracy, were to be 497secured; and secondly, that the victims then offered, having no inherent dignity or worth, could not take away sin; they could not purge the conscience from the sense of guilt, or bring to the end contemplated (τελειῶσαι) those for whom they were offended, and hence had to be continually repeated. In Hebrews ix. 9, it is said δῶρά τε καὶ θυσίαι . . . . μὴ δυνάμεναι κατὰ συνείδησιν τελειῶσαι τὸν λατρεύοντα, i.e., says Robinson, “which could never make full expiation for the bringer, so as to satisfy his conscience.”
5. The Aaronic priesthood and sacrifices were, therefore, temporary, being the mere types and shadows of the true priest and the real sacrifice, promised from the beginning.
6. Christ, the Eternal Son of God, assumed our nature in order that He might be a merciful and faithful high priest, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. That is, to make expiation for sin. The word used is ἱλάσκομαι, propitium reddere; which in the Septuagint, is the substitute for כִּפֵּר (to cover guilt), to hide sin from the sight of God. In the New Testament, as in the Septuagint, ἱλάσκομαι is the special term for sacerdotal expiation, and is not to be confounded with ἀποκαταλλάττεσθαι, to reconcile. The latter is the effect of the former; reconciliation is secured by expiation.
7. Christ is proved, especially in Hebrews v., to be a real priest; first, because He has all the qualifications for the office, He was a man, was a substitute, had a sacrifice, and was able to sympathize with his people; secondly, because He was called of God to the priesthood, as was Aaron; thirdly, because He actually discharged all the functions of the office.
8. The sacrifice which this great high priest offered in our behalf, was not the blood of irrational animals, but his own most precious blood.
9. This one sacrifice has perfected forever (τετελείωκεν, made a perfect expiation for) them that are sanctified. (Hebrews x. 14.)
10. This sacrifice has superseded all others. No other is needed; and no other is possible.
11. Those who reject this method of salvation certainly perish. To them there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins. (Hebrews x. 26.)
It can hardly be questioned that this is a correct, although feeble statement of the leading ideas of the Epistle to the Hebrews. With this agree all other representations of the Scriptures both in the Old Testament and in the New, and therefore if we adhere to the doctrine of the Bible we must believe that Christ saves us, not by 498power, or by moral influence, but as a priest, by offering Himself as an expiatory sacrifice for our sins. To deny this; to explain away these express teachings of the Scriptures, as mere accommodations to the modes of thought prevalent in the age of the Apostles; or to substitute modern ideas of the nature of sacrifices, for those of the Bible and of the whole ancient world; or to attempt to get at the philosophical truth inclosed in these Scriptural forms, while we reject the forms themselves, are only different ways of substituting our thoughts for God’s thoughts, our way of salvation for God’s way. If the ordinary authoritative rules of interpretation are to be adhered to, it cannot be denied that the Scriptures teach that Christ saves us as a priest by making a full expiation for our sins, bearing the penalty of them in his own person in our behalf.
Christ saves us as a Sacrifice.
Intimately connected with the argument from the priestly office of Christ, and inseparable from it, is that which is derived from those numerous passages in which He is set forth as a sacrifice for sin. Much as the nature of the Old Testament sacrifices has of late years. been discussed, and numerous as are the theories which have been advanced upon this subject, there are some points with regard to which all who profess faith in the Scriptures, are agreed. In the first place, it is agreed that Christ was in some sense a sacrifice for the sins of men; secondly, that the sense in which He was a sacrifice is the same as that in which the sin offerings of the Old Testament were sacrifices; and, thirdly, that the true Scriptural idea of sacrifices for sin is a historical question and not a matter of speculation. According to Michaelis, they were mere fines;425425This also is the doctrine of Hofmann in his Schriftbeweis. It is one of the principal objects of Delitzsch in his Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews and in the long Excursus attached to that admirable work, to contest the doctrine of Hofmann on the nature of the work of Christ. according to Sykes, federal rites; according to others, expressions of gratitude, offerings to God in acknowledgment of his goodness; according to others, they were symbolical of the surrender and devotion of the life of the offerer to God;426426This is the theory by Dr. Bähr, in his Symbolik. according to others, they were confessions of sin and symbolical exhibitions of penitence; and according to others, their whole design and effect was in some way to produce a salutary moral impression.427427Keil in his Biblische Archäologie, and many others, give substantially this moral view. According to Keil, sacrifices were designed to teach the translation of the sinner from a state of alienation from God to a state of grace. Dr. Young, in his Light and Life of Men, represents them as Bähr does, as indicating the surrender of the soul to God, and as intended to give a divine sanction to the use of animal food. Notwithstanding these conflicting speculations of individual writers, it remains true that the great body of Biblical scholars of all ages and of all classes regard the sin offering of the Old Testament as real piacular sacrifices. This is done by the highest class of the modern German theologians, who for themselves reject the Church doctrine of the atonement. It is admitted that the 499offerings of the old economy were of different kinds, not only as bloody and unbloody, but that among those which involved the shedding of blood some were designed for one purpose and some for another. The whole question relates to the sin offerings properly so called, of which the sacrifices on the great day of atonement were the special illustrative examples. The common doctrine as to these sin offerings is, (1.) That the design of such offerings was to propitiate God; to satisfy his justice, and to render it consistent and proper that the offence for which they were offered should be forgiven, (2.) That this propitiation of God was secured by the expiation of guilt; by such an offering as covered sin, so that it did not appear before Him as demanding punishment; (3.) That this expiation was effected by vicarious punishment; the victim being substituted for the offender, bearing his guilt, and suffering the penalty which he had incurred; (4.) That the effect of such sin offerings was the pardon of the offender, and his restoration to favour and to the enjoyment of the privileges which he had forfeited. If this be the true Scriptural idea of a sacrifice for sin, then do the Scriptures in declaring that Christ was a sacrifice, intend to teach that He was the substitute for sinners; that He bore their guilt and suffered the penalty of the law in their stead; and thereby reconciled them unto God; i.e., rendered it consistent with his perfections that they should be pardoned and restored to the divine fellowship and favour.
Proof of the Common Doctrine concerning Sacrifices for Sin.
That this is the true doctrine concerning sacrifices for sin may be argued, —
1. From the general sentiment of the ancient world. These offerings arose from a sense of guilt and apprehension of the wrath of God. Under the pressure of the sense of sin, and when the displeasure of God was experienced or apprehended, men everywhere resorted to every means in their power to make expiation for their offences, and to propitiate the favour of God. Of these means the most natural, as it appears from its being universally adopted, was the offering of propitiatory sacrifices. The more numerous and costly these offerings the greater hope was cherished of their efficacy. Men did not spare even the fruit of their bodies for the sin of their 500souls. It was not that the Deity, to be propitiated, needed these oblations, or could Himself enjoy them; but it was that justice demanded satisfaction, and the hope was entertained that the death of the victims might be taken in lieu of that of the offender. Even those who repudiate the doctrine of expiation as belonging to the religion of the Bible, admit that it was the doctrine of the ancient world. But if it was the doctrine of the ancient world, two things naturally follow; first, that it has a foundation in the nature of man, and in the intuitive knowledge of the relation which he as a sinner bears to God; and, secondly, that when we find exactly the same rites and ceremonies, the same forms of expression and the same significant actions in the Scriptures, they cannot fairly be understood in a sense diametrically opposite to that in which all the rest of the world understood them.
2. The second argument is that it is beyond doubt that the Hebrews, to whom the Mosaic institutions were given, understood their sacrifices for sin to be expiatory offerings and not mere forms of worship or expressions of their devotion of themselves to God; or as simply didactic, designed to make a moral impression on the offender and on the spectators. They were explained as expiations, in which the victim bore the guilt of the sinner, and died in his stead and for his deliverance. That such was the doctrine of the Hebrews is proved by such authors as Outram, in his work “De Sacrificiis;” by Schoettgen, “Horæ Hebrææ et Talmudicæ;” Eisenmenger, “Endecktes Judenthum,” and other writers on the subject. Outram quotes from the Jewish authorities forms of confession connected with the imposition of hands on the victim. One is to the following effect:428428“Obsecro Domine, peccavi, rebellis fui, perverse egi, hoc et illud feci, nunc autem me peccasse pœnitet; hæc sit itaque expiato mea.” De Sacrificiis, I. xxii. 9, edit. London, 1677, p. 273. “I beseech thee, O Lord, I have sinned, I have done perversely, I have rebelled, I have done (specifying the offence); but now I repent, and let this victim be my expiation.” The design of the imposition of hands was to signify, say these authorities, the removal of sin from the offender to the animal.429429Lib. I. xv. 8, p. 166 ff.
3. It is no less certain that the whole Christian world has ever regarded the sacrifices for sin to be expiatory, designed to teach the necessity of expiation and to foreshadow the method by which it was to be accomplished. Such, as has been shown, is the faith of the Latin, of the Lutheran, and of the Reformed churches, all the great historical bodies which make up the sum of professing 501Christians. That this world-wide belief in the necessity of expiation even among the heathen; this uniform conviction of the Hebrews that the sacrifices, which they were commanded to offer for sin, were expiatory; this concurrent judgment of the Christian Church in all ages and places are, after all, mere error and delusion; that such is not the teaching either of the natural conscience, or of the Hebrew Scriptures, or of Christ and his Apostles, is absolutely incredible. The attempt to overthrow a conviction thus general and permanent, is chimerical.
4. But these arguments from general conviction and assent, although perfectly valid in such cases as the present, are not those on which the faith of Christians rests. They find the doctrine of expiatory sacrifices clearly taught in Scripture; they see that the sin offerings under the Old Testament were expiations.
The Old Testament Sacrifices Expiatory.
This is plain from the clear meaning of the language used in reference to them. They are called sin offerings; trespass offerings, i.e., offerings made by sinners on account of sin. They are said to bear the sins of the offender; to make expiation for sin, i.e., to cover it from the sight of God’s justice; they are declared to be intended to secure forgiveness, not through repentance or reformation, these are presupposed before the offering is brought, but by shedding of blood, by giving soul for soul, life for life. The reason assigned in Leviticus xvii. 11, why blood should not be used for food, was that it was set apart to make expiation for sin. The Hebrew is לְכַפֵּר צַל־נַפְשֹׂתֵיכֶם, which the Septuagint renders ἐξιλάσκεσθαι περὶ τῶν ψυχῶν ὑμῶν; and the Vulgate, “Ut super altare in eo expietis pro animabus vestris.” The elder Michaelis expresses clearly the meaning of the passage and the design of the prohibition, when he says (On Leviticus xvii. 10), “Ne sanguis res sanctissima, ad expiationem immundorum a Deo ordinata, communi usu profanaretur.” The last clause of the verse, which in our version is rendered, “For it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul,” is more literally and correctly rendered, “For blood by (its) soul or life makes atonement;” or, as Bähr and Fairbairn translate it, “The blood atones through the soul.” The latter writer correctly remarks,430430Typology, edit. Philadelphia, 1857, vol. ii. p. 288, note. “This is the only sense of the passage that can be grammatically justified; for the preposition ב after the verb to atone (כפר) invariably denotes that by which the atonement is made; while as invariably the person or object for which is denoted by ל or על.” — Aben Ezra, quoted by 502Bähr, had briefly indicated the right interpretation. “Sanguis anima, quæ sibi inest, expiat.” It seems impossible that this and similar express declarations of the Old Testament, that sacrifices for sins were expiations, can be reconciled with the modern speculation that they were symbolical expressions of devotion to God, or means of effecting a reformation of the offender, who because of that reformation was restored to God’s favour.
The argument, therefore, is that the Scriptures expressly declare that these sacrifices were made for the expiation of sin. This idea is expressed by the word כִּפֵּר, to cover, to hide from view, to blot out, to expiate. Hence the substantive כֹּפֶר means that which delivers from punishment or evi. It is the common word for an atonement, but it also is used for a ransom, because it is rendered to secure deliverance. Thus the half shekel required to be paid by every male Israelite as a ransom for his soul was called a כֹּפֶר (in Greek, λύτρον, or λύτρα). See Exodus xxx. 12-16: “When thou takest the sum of the children of Israel, . . . . then shall they give every man a ransom (כֹּפֶר) for his soul unto the Lord, . . . . half a shekel . . . . the rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less, than half a shekel, when they give an offering to the Lord, to make an atonement (לִכַפֵּר, Gr. ἐξιλάσασθαι) for your souls.” Here it is impossible to mistake the meaning. The half shekel was a ransom, something paid to secure deliverance from evil. It was not a symbol of devotion, or an expression of penitence, but a payment of a stipulated ransom. That the half shekel bore no proportion to the value of a man’s life, or the blood of a victim to the value of the soul, does not alter the case. The idea is the same. The truth taught is that satisfaction must be made if sinners are to be saved. The constantly recurring expressions, “to make atonement for sin;” “to make atonement on the horns of the altar;” “to make atonement for the sins of the people,” etc., which are correct renderings of the Hebrew phrases which mean “to make expiation,” as understood from the beginning, cannot be reconciled with any other theory of sacrifices than that of vicarious satisfaction. In Numbers xxxv. 31, it is said, “Ye shall take no satisfaction (כֹּפֶר, λύτρα, pretium), for the life of a murderer, which is guilty of death; but he shall be surely put to death . . . . the land cannot be cleansed (יְכֻפַּר; Septuagint, ἐξιλασθήσεται; Vulgate, nec aliter expiari potest) of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it.” Here again there can be no mistake. To cover sin, כּפֵּר, is to expiate it by a penal satisfaction; that expiation is expressed, as we have seen, by כֹּכֶּר, which literally 503magnifies that which covers, and, in such connections, that which covers sin so that it no longer demands punishment. When, therefore, a sacrifice is said to cover sin it must mean that it expiates it, hides it from the eyes of justice by a satisfaction. A כֹּפֶר is a satisfaction. This satisfaction must be made either by the offender or by some one in his stead. In the case of murder, if the perpetrator could not be discovered, a victim was to be slain in his stead, and thus satisfaction was to be made. The law in reference to this case makes the nature and design of sin offerings perfectly plain. The elders of the nearest city were commanded to take a heifer which had net borne the yoke, and wash their hands over it in attestation of their innocence of the blood of the murdered man; the priests being present. The heifer was to be slain, and thus expiation made for the offence. The words are, וְנִכַּפֵּר לָהֶמ הַדָּם; Greek, καὶ ἐξιλασθήσεται αὐτοῖς τὸ αἷμα; Latin, “Et auferetur ab eis reatus sanguinis.” The removal of guilt by a vicarious death is, therefore, the Scriptural idea of a sin offering. It would, however, require a volume to present a tithe of the evidence furnished, by the phraseology of the Old Testament, that the sin offerings, were regarded as expiations for sin; not designed proximately for the reformation of the offender, but to secure the remission of the penalty due to his transgression. The constantly recurring formula is, Let him offer the sacrifice for “sin, and it shall be forgiven him.”
The ceremonies attending the offering of sacrifices for sin show that they were understood to be expiatory. (1) The victims were selected from the class of clean animals appropriated for the support of the life of man. They were to be free from all blemish. This physical perfection was typical of the freedom from all sin of Him who was to be the substitute for sinners. (2.) The offender was required himself to bring the victim to the altar. The service involved an acknowledgment on the part of the offerer of his just exposure to punishment for his sin. (3.) The hands of the offender were to be laid on the head of the victim, to express the ideas of substitution and of transfer of guilt. The sin of the offerer was laid upon the head of the victim. (4.) The blood of the victim, slain by the priest, was received by him as the minister of God, sprinkled on the altar, or, on the great day of atonement, carried into the Most Holy place where the symbol of God’s presence was, and sprinkled on the top of the ark of the covenant; showing that the service terminated on God; that it was designed to appease his wrath (according to Scriptural phraseology), to satisfy his justice, and to open the way for the free forgiveness of sin. The significance 504assigned to these ceremonial acts is that which their nature demands; which the Scriptures themselves assign to them; and which they must have either to account for the effects which the sin offering produced, or to make out the correspondence between the type and the antitype which the New Testament declares was intended. These symbolical acts admit of no other explanation without doing violence to the text, and forcing on antiquity the ideas of modern times, which is to substitute our speculations for the authoritative teachings of the Scriptures.
The imposition of the hands of the offender upon the head of the victim was essential to this service. The general import of the imposition of hands was that of communication. Hence this ceremony was practiced on various occasions: (1.) In appointing to office, to signify the transfer of authority. (2.) In imparting any spiritual gift or blessing. (3.) In substituting one for another, and transferring the responsibility of one to another. This was the import of the imposition of hands upon the head of the victim. It was substituted in the place of the offerer, and the guilt of the one was symbolically transferred from the one to the other. Hence the victim was said to bear the sins of the people; their sins were said to be laid upon it. In the solemn services of the great day of atonement, the import of this rite is rendered especially clear It was commanded that two goats should be selected, one for a sin-offering and the other for a scape-goat. The two constituted one sacrifice, as it was impossible that one could signify all that was intended to be taught. Of the scape-goat it is said, “Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, . . . . and the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited.” This renders it plain that the design of the imposition of hands was to signify the transfer of the guilt of the offender to the victim. The nature of these offerings is still further evident from the fact that the victim was said “to bear the sin” of the offender. For example, in Isaiah liii. that the servant of the Lord made “his soul an offering for sin,” is explained by saying that “He bare the sin of many;” that “the chastisement of our peace was upon him;” and that “the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” These and similar expressions do not admit of being understood of the removal of sin by reformation or spiritual renovation. They have a fixed and definite meaning throughout the Scriptures. To bear sin is to bear the guilt and punishment of sin. It may be 505admitted that the Hebrew word נָשָּׂא may mean to remove, or bear away, as in 1 Samuel xvii. 34 and Judges xvi. 31, although even in these cases the ordinary sense is admissible. The question, however, is not what a word may mean, but what it does mean in a given formula and connection. The word signifies to raise, or lift up; to lift up the eyes, the hand, the voice, the head, the heart. Then it means to lift up in the sense of bearing, as a tree bears its fruit; or in the sense of enduring, as sorrow, suffering; or, of bearing as a burden, and especially the burden of guilt or punishment. And finally it may have the necessary meaning of bearing away, or of removing. If this should be insisted upon in those cases where sin is spoken of, then it remains to be asked what is the Scriptural sense of removing sin, or bearing sin away. That formula means two things; first, to remove the guilt of sin by expiation, and secondly, to remove its defilement and power by spiritual renovation. One or the other of these ideas is expressed by all the corresponding terms used in the Bible; καθαίρειν, to purify, or καθαρισμόν ποιεῖν; ἁγιάζειν, to cleanse; and others, as to wash, to blot out, etc. All these terms are used to express either sacrificial purification by blood, or spiritual purification by the renewing of the Holy Ghost. Which, in any particular case, is intended, is determined by the context. Therefore, even if the words נָשָּׂאצָיֹו; be rendered to remove iniquity or sin, the question would still be, Does it mean the removal of guilt by expiation; or the removal of pollution by moral renovation? In point of fact the words in question always refer to bearing the punishment and thus removing the guilt of sin, and never to the removal of moral pollution. This is plain, (1.) Because נָשָּׂא is interchanged with סָבַל which never means to remove, but only to sustain, or bear as a burden. (2.) Because usage determines the meaning of the phrase and is uniform. In Numbers xiv. 34, it is said, “Ye shall bear your iniquities forty years.” Leviticus v. 1, “If a soul . . . . hear the voice of swearing, and is a witness; . . . . if he do not utter it, he shall bear his iniquity.” Leviticus v. 17, “He is guilty, and shall bear his iniquity.” Leviticus vii. 18, “The soul that eateth of it shall bear his iniquity.” Leviticus xvii. 16, “If he wash not . . . . then he shall bear his iniquity.” Leviticus xix. 8; xx. 17; xxii. 9, “They shall keep my ordinance, lest they bear sin for it.” Numbers ix. 13, If a man forbear to keep the passover, he shall be cut off from the people, “he shall bear his sin.” See also Numbers xviii. 22, 32. Ezekiel iv. 4, 5, it is said to the prophet enduring penance, “So shalt thou bear the 506iniquity of the house of Israel.” “Thou shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days.” “Lie thou upon thy left side . . . . according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon it, thou shalt bear their iniquity.” Ezekiel xviii. 20, “The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father; neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son.” In all these, and in other like cases, it is simply impossible that “bearing sin” should mean the removal of sin by moral renovation. The expression occurs some forty times in the Bible, and always in the sense of bearing the guilt or punishment of sin. It is hardly an exception to this remark that there are a few cases in which נָשָּׂא חַטָּאת means to pardon; as in Exodus x. 17; xxxii. 32; xxxiv. 7; Psalms xxxii. 5 (and lxxxv. 3); for pardon is not the removal of sin morally, but the lifting up, or removal of its guilt. This being the fact, it determines the nature of the sin offerings under the law. The victim bore the sin of the offerer, and died in his stead. An expiation was thereby effected by the suffering of a vicarious punishment. This also determines the nature of the work of Christ. If He was an offering for sin, if He saves us from the penalty of the law of God, in the same way in which the sin offering saved the Israelite from the penalty of the law of Moses, then He bore the guilt of our sins and endured the penalty in our stead. We may not approve of this method of salvation. The idea of the innocent bearing the sins of the guilty and being punished in his stead, may not be agreeable to our feelings or to our modes of thinking, but it can hardly be denied that such is the representation and doctrine of the Scriptures. Our only alternative is to accept that doctrine, or reject the authority of Scripture directly or indirectly. That is, either to deny their divine origin, or to explain away their explicit statements. In either case their plain meaning remains untouched. The German rationalists in general take the former of these two courses. They admit that the Bible teaches the doctrine of vicarious punishment, but they deny the truth of the doctrine because they deny the Bible to be the Word of God.
The passages in which Christ is represented as a sacrifice for sin, are too numerous to be here specially considered. The New Testament, and particularly the Epistle to the Hebrews, as before remarked, declares and teaches, that the priesthood of the old economy was a type of the priesthood of Christ; that the sacrifices of that dispensation were types of his sacrifice; that as the blood of bulls and of goats purified the flesh, so the blood of Christ cleanses the soul from guilt; and that as they were expiations effected by vicarious punishment, in their sphere, so was the sacrifice of 507Christ in the infinitely higher sphere to which his work belongs. Such being the relation between the Old Economy and the New, the whole sacrificial service of the Mosaic institutions, becomes to the Christian an extended and irresistible proof and exhibition of the work of Christ as an expiation for the sins of the world, and a satisfaction to the justice of God.
It is not however only in the typical services of the old economy that this great doctrine was set forth in the Hebrew Scriptures. In the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah this doctrine is presented with a clearness and copiousness which have extorted assent from the most unwilling minds. The prophet in that chapter not only foretells that the Messiah was to be a man of sorrows; not only that He was to suffer the greatest indignities and be put to a violent death; not only that these sufferings were endured for the benefit of others; but that they were truly vicarious, i.e., that He suffered, in our stead, the penalty which we had incurred, in order to our deliverance. This is done not only in those forms of expression which most naturally admit of this interpretation, but in others which can, consistently with usage and the analogy of Scripture, be understood in no other way. To the former class belong such expressions as the following, “He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows.” Our griefs and our sorrows are the griefs and sorrows which we deserved. These Christ bore in the sense of enduring, for He carried them as a burden. “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities.” “With his stripes we are healed.” “For the transgression of my people was he stricken.” These phrases might be used of the sufferings of a patriot for his country, of a philanthropist for his fellow-men, or of a friend for those dear to him. That they however are most naturally understood of vicarious suffering, can hardly be denied, And that they were intended by the Spirit of God to be so understood, is plain by their being intermingled with expressions which admit of no other interpretation. To this class belong the following clauses: First, “the chastisement (or punishment) of our peace was upon him.” That is, the punishment by which our peace was secured. Of this clause Delitzsch, one of the very first of living Hebraists, says,431431Commentar zum Briefe an die Hebräer, Leipzig, 1857, p. 716. “Der Begriff der pœna vicaria kann hebräisch gar nicht schärfer ausgedrückt werden als in jenen Worten.” “The idea of vicarious punishment cannot be more 508precisely expressed in Hebrew than by those words.” Secondly, it is said, “The Lord hath laid on him (caused to fall, or, cast on him) the iniquity of us all.” We have already seen that this is the language used in the Old Testament to express the transfer of the guilt of the offender to the victim slain in his stead. They have a definite Scriptural meaning, which cannot be denied in this case without doing open violence to admitted rules of interpretation. “If,” says Dr. J. Addison Alexander,432432The Later Prophecies of Isaiah, New York, 1847, p. 264. “vicarious suffering can be described in words, it is so described in these two verses;” i.e., the verses in which this clause occurs. Thirdly, it is said of the Messiah that He made, or was to make “his soul an offering for sin.” The Hebrew word is אָשָּׁם, guilt, debt; and then an offering which bears guilt and expiates it. It is the common word in the Levitical law for “trespass offering.” Michaelis in his marginal annotations, remarks on this word (Isaiah liii. 10), “Delictum significat, ut notet etiam sacrificium, cui delictum imputatum est. Vide passim, inprimis Lev. iv. 3; v. 6, 7, 16; vii. 1, etc., etc. . . . . Recte etiam Raschi ad h. 1. ‘Ascham,’ inquit, ‘significat satisfactionem, seu lytron, quod quis alteri exsolvit, in quem deliquit, Gallice, Amande, i.e. mulcta.’” The literal meaning of the words, therefore, is, His soul was made a satisfaction for sin. Fourthly, it is said, “My righteous servant shall justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.” “He was numbered with the transgressors, and he bare the sin of many.” It has already been shown that to “bear sin” never means to sanctify, to effect a moral change by removing the power and pollution of sin, but uniformly, in the sacrificial language of the Bible, to bear the guilt or penalty for sin.
Passages of the Hew Testament in which the Work of Christ is set forth as Sacrifice.
In Romans iii. 25, it is said, He was set forth as “a propitiation through faith in his blood.” The word here used is ἱλαστήριον, the neuter form of the adjective ἱλαστήριος (“propitiatory, expiatory”) used substantively. It therefore means, as Robinson and other lexicographers define it, and as the great body of interpreters explain it, “an expiatory sacrifice.” The meaning of the word is determined by the context and confirmed by parallel passages. The design of setting forth Christ as a ἱλαστήριον was precisely that which an expiatory sacrifice was intended to accomplish, namely, to satisfy justice, that God might be just in the forgiveness 509of sin. And the δικαιοσυνη of God manifested in the sacrifice of Christ, was not his benevolence, but that form of justice which demands the punishment of sin. “It is a fundamental idea of Scripture,” says Delitzsch, “that sin is expiated (יְכֻפַּר) by punishment, as murder by the death of the murderer.”433433Commentar zum Briefe an die Hebräer, p. 720. Again, “Where there is shedding of blood and of life, there is violent death, and where a violent death is (judicially) inflicted, there there is manifestation of vindicatory justice, der strafenden Gerechtigkeit.”434434Ibid. p. 719. In like manner, in Romans viii. 3, the Apostle says, God sent his Son as a sin offering (περὶ ἁμαρτίας, which in Hellenistic Greek means an offering for sin, Hebrews x. 6), and thereby condemned sin in the flesh, that is, in the flesh or person of Christ. And thus it is that we are justified, or the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in us. The same Apostle, in Galatians i. 4, says that Christ “gave himself for our sins.” That is, He gave Himself unto death as a sacrifice for our sins that He might effect our redemption. Such is the plain meaning of this passage, if understood according to the established usage of the Scripture. “The idea of satisfaction,” says Meyer, on this passage, “lies not in the force of the preposition [ὑπέρ] but in the nature of the transaction, in dem ganzen Sachverhältniss.” In Ephesians v. 2, it is said Christ gave “himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour.” His offering was a sacrifice (θυσίαν). His blood was shed as an expiation. The question, says Meyer, whether Christ is here represented as a sin offering, “is decided not so much by ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν as by the constant New Testament, and specially the Pauline, conception of the death of Christ as a ἱλαστήριον.” Hebrews ix. 14, is especially important and decisive. The Apostle, in the context, contrasts the sacrifices of the law with that of Christ. If the former, consisting of the blood of irrational animals, nothing but the principle of animal life, could avail to effect external or ceremonial purification, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who was possessed of an eternal spirit, or divine nature, and offered Himself without spot unto God, avail to the purification of the conscience, i.e., effect the real expiation of sin. The purification spoken of in both members of this comparison, is purification from guilt, and not spiritual renovation. The Old Testament sacrifices were expiatory and not reformatory, and so was the sacrifice of Christ. The certain result and ultimate design in both cases was reconciliation to the favour and fellowship of God; but the necessary preliminary condition of such reconciliation was the expiation 510of guilt. Again, toward the end of the same chapter, the Apostle says that Christ was not called upon to “offer himself often, . . . for then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” The offering which He made was Himself. Its design and effect were to put away sin; i.e., to put away sin as was done by expiatory sacrifices. This is confirmed by what follows. Christ came the first time “to bear the sins of many;” He is to come the second time “without sin,” without that burden which, on his first advent, He had voluntarily assumed. He was then burdened with our sins in the sense in which the ancient sacrifices bore the sins of the people. He bore their guilt; that is, he assumed the responsibility of making satisfaction for them to the justice of God. When He comes the second time, it will not be as a sin offering, but to consummate the salvation of his people. The parallel passage to this is found in 2 Corinthians v. 21: “He hath made him to be sin for us who knew no sin,” The design of the Apostle is to explain how it is that God is reconciled unto the world, not imputing unto men their trespasses. He is free thus to pardon and treat as righteous those who in themselves are unrighteous, because for us and in our stead He who was without sin was treated as a sinner. The sense in which Christ was treated as a sinner is, says Meyer, in loco “in dem er nämlich die Todesstrafe erlitt, in that he suffered the punishment of death.” Here again the idea of the pœna vicaria is clearly expressed.
In Hebrews x. 10, we are said to be “sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” The word ἁγιάζειν, here rendered sanctify, means to cleanse. Sin is, in Scripture, always regarded as a defilement in both its aspects of guilt and moral turpitude. As guilt, it is cleansed by blood, by sacrificial expiation, as defilement, by the renewing of the Holy Ghost. Which kind of purification is intended is determined in each case by the context. If the purification is effected by sacrifice, by the blood or death of Christ, then the removal of guilt is intended. Hence, all the passages in which we are said to be saved, or reconciled unto God, or purified, or sanctified by the blood or death of Christ, must be regarded as so many assertions that He was an expiatory sacrifice for sin. In this passage the meaning of the Apostle cannot be mistaken. He is again contrasting the sacrifices of the Old Testament with that of Christ. They were ineffectual, the latter was of sovereign efficacy. “Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me. Lo, I come 511to do thy will.” By which will, i.e., by the execution of this purpose of sending his incarnate Son, we are cleansed by the one offering up of his body. The ancient sacrifices, he says (verse 11), had to be constantly repeated. “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins, forever sat down on the right hand of God.” “For by one offering he hath perfected forever (τετελείωκεν, brought to the end contemplated by a sacrifice) them that are sanctified,” i.e., cleansed from guilt. That sacrificial cleansing is here intended is plain, for the effect of it is pardon. “Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.” And in verse 26, we are taught that for those who reject the sacrifice of Christ there remains “no more sacrifice for sins; but a certain fearful looking for of judgment.” It was pardon, therefore, founded upon the expiation of sin, that was secured by the sacrifice of Christ. And this is declared to be the only possible means by which our guilt can be removed, or the justice of God satisfied. It is to be always borne in mind, however, that the end of expiation is reconciliation with God, and that reconciliation with God involves or secures conformity to his image and intimate fellowship with Him. The ultimate design of the work of Christ is, therefore, declared to be to “bring us to God;” to “purify unto himself a peculiar people zealous of good works.” The removal of guilt by expiation is, however, constantly set forth as the absolutely essential preliminary to this inward subjective reconciliation with God. This is a necessity, as the Scriptures teach, arising out of the nature of God as a holy and just Being.
What Paul teaches so abundantly of the sacrificial death of Christ is taught by the Apostle John (First Epistle, ii. 2). Jesus Christ “is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” The word here used is ἱλασμός, propitiation, expiation; from “ἱλάσκομαι, to reconcile one’s self to any one by expiation, to appease, to propitiate.” And in chapter iv. 10, it is said, “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” The inconsistency between love, and expiation or satisfaction for sin, which modern writers so much insist upon, was not perceived by men who spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. In chapter i. 7, this same Apostle says, “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” To cleanse, καθαρίζειν, καθαίρειν, καθαρισμόν ποιεῖν, ἁγιάζειν, λούειν (Revelation i. 5) are established sacrificial terms to express the removal of the guilt of sin by expiation.512
The above are only a part of the passages in which our blessed Lord is, in the New Testament, set forth as a sin offering, in the Scriptural sense of that term. What is thus taught is taught by other forms of expression which imply the expiatory character of his death, or his priestly function of making satisfaction for sin. Thus in Hebrews ix. 28, it is said, “Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many.” This is a quotation from Isaiah liii. 12, where the same word is used in the Septuagint that the Apostle here employs. The meaning of the Scriptural phrase “to bear sin” has already been sufficiently discussed. Robinson, who will not be suspected of theological bias, defines, in his “Greek Lexicon,” the word in question (ἀναφέρω) in the formula ἀνενεγκεῖν τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἡμῶν, “to bear up our sins, to take upon oneself and bear our sins, i.e., to bear the penalty of sin, to make expiation for sin.” This is the sense in which the sacrifices of old were said to bear the sins of the people, and in which it was said that one man, in God’s dealings with his theocratic people, should not bear the sins of another. Delitzsch, on Hebrews ix. 28, says,435435Page 442. “This assumption of the sufferings which the sins of men had caused, into fellowship with whom He had entered, this bearing as a substitute the punishment of sins not his own, this expiatory suffering for the sins of others, is precisely what ἀνενεγκεῖν ἀμαρτίας πολλῶν in this passage means, and is the sense intended in the Italic and Vulgate versions; ‘ad multorum exhaurienda peccata.’” He quotes with approbation the comment of Seb. Schmidt: “Quia mors in hominibus pœna est, Christus oblatus est moriendo, ut morte sua portaret omnium hominum peccata h. e. omnes peccatorum pœnas exæquaret satisfaciendo.”436436Commentary on Hebrews, Leipzig, 1722.
Nearly the same language is used by the Apostle Peter (First Epistle, ii. 24). “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree.” Whether ἀναφέρω here means sufferre, to bear or endure, or sursum ferre, to carry up, the sense is the same. Only the figure is altered. Christ bore the guilt of our sins. This is the burden which He sustained; or which He carried up with Him when He ascended the cross. In the parallel passage in Isaiah liii. 11, evidently in the Apostle’s mind, the words are in the Septuagint, τὰς ἁμαρτίας αὐτῶν αὐτὸς ἀνοίσει, where in Hebrew יִסְבֹּל is used, which appears decisive in favour of the rendering in our version, He “bare our sins,” as סָבַל always means to bear as a burden. As to the doctrinal meaning of this passage commentators of almost all classes agree. Wahl, in his “Lexicon,” on the word ἀναφέρω referring to this place, makes it mean “peccatorum pœnam et reatum 513ultro in se suscipit.” Bretschneider (Rationalist) thus defines the word, “attollo et mihi impono, i.e., impositum mihi porto, tropice de pœnis: pœnam susceptam luo; Heb. ix. 28. . . . . Vide etiam Num. xiv. 33, ἀνοίσουσι τήν πορνείαν ὑμῶν, pœna vestræ perfidiæ illis persolvenda est.” Wegscheider, the chief of the systematic theologians among the Rationalists,437437Institutiones Theologiæ, § 136, 5th edit. Halle, 1826, p. 424. referring to this passage, 1 Peter ii. 24, says that almost all the New Testament writers regard the death of Christ “tanquam [mortem] expiatoriam, eandemque vicariam, velut pœnam peccatorum hominum omnium ab ipso susceptam, etc.” Calvin does not go beyond these Rationalists; his comment is, “Sicuti sub lege peccator, ut reatu solveretur, victimam substituebat suo loco: ita Christus maledictionem peccatis nostris debitam in se suscepit, ut ea coram Deo expiaret. Hoc beneficium sophistæ in suis scholis, quantum possunt, obscurant.”
Another form of expression used by the sacred writers clearly teaches the expiatory character of Christ’s work. Under the old economy, the great function of the high priest was to make expiation for sin, and thereby restore the people to the favour of God, and secure for them the blessings of the covenant under which they lived. All this was typical of Christ and of his work. He came to save his people from their sins, to restore them to the favour of God, and to secure for them the enjoyment of the blessings of the new and better covenant of which He is the mediator. He, therefore, assumed our nature in order that He might die, and by death effect our reconciliation with God. For as He did not undertake the redemption of angels, but the redemption of man, it was the nature of man that He assumed. He was made in all things like unto his brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, εἰς τὸ ἱλάσκεσθαι τάς ἁμαρτίας τοῦ λαοῦ, to make expiation for the sins of the people. The word ἱλάσκομαι (or ἐξιλάσκομαι) is the technical word in Hellenistic Greek to express the idea of expiation. In common Greek, the word means propitium reddere, and in the passive form it is used in this sense in the Septuagint as in Psalm lxxix. 9. But in the middle and deponent form followed by the word sins in the accusative, it always expresses the act by which that in sin is removed which hinders God from being propitious. This is the precise idea of expiation. Hence the word is so constantly rendered in the Vulgate by expiare, and is in Greek the rendering of כַּפֵּר. Hence Christ as He who renders God propitious to us is called the ἱλασμὸς περὶ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν in 1 John ii. 2, and ἱλαστήριον in Romans iii. 25.514
Still another form in which the doctrine of expiation is taught is found in those passages which refer our reconciliation to God to the death of Christ. The Greek word used to express this idea in Romans v. 10; 2 Corinthians v. 18, 19, 20, is καταλλάσσειν, to exchange, or to change the relation of one person to another, from enmity to friendship. In Ephesians ii. 16; Colossians i. 20, 21, the word used is ἀποκαταλλάττειν, only an intensive form, to reconcile fully. When two parties are at enmity a reconciliation may be effected by a change in either or in both. When, therefore, it is said that we are reconciled to God, it only means that peace is restored between Him and us. Whether this is effected by our enmity towards Him being removed, or by his justice in regard to us being satisfied, or whether both ideas are in any case included, depends on the context where the word occurs, and on the analogy of Scripture. In the chief passage, Romans v. 10, the obvious meaning is that the reconciliation is effected by God’s justice being satisfied, so that He can be favourable to us in consistency with his own nature. This is plain, —
1. Because the means by which the reconciliation is effected is “the death of his Son.” The design of sacrificial death is expiation. It would be to do violence to all Scriptural usage to make the proximate design and effect of a sacrifice the removal of the sinner’s enmity to God.
2. “Being reconciled by the death of his Son,” in verse 10, is parallel to the clause “being justified by his blood” in verse 9. The one is exchanged for the other, as different forms of expressing the same idea. But justification is not sanctification. It does not express a subjective change in the sinner. And, therefore, the reconciliation here spoken of cannot express any such change.
3. Those reconciled are declared to be ἐχθροί, in the passive sense of the word, “those who are the objects of God’s just displeasure.” They are guilty. Justice demands their punishment. The death of Christ, as satisfying justice, reconciles God to us; effects peace, so that we can be received into favour.
4. What is here taught is explained by all those passages which teach the method by which the reconciliation of God and man is effected, namely, by the expiation of sin. Meyer, on this passage, says, “κατηλλάγημεν and καταλλαγέντες must of necessity be understood passively: ausgesöhnt mit Gott, atoned for in the sight of God, so that he no longer is hostile to us; he has said aside his anger, and we are made partakers of his grace and favour.” The same doctrine is taught in Ephesians ii. 16. “That he might reconcile 515both unto God in one body by the cross.” Here again the reconciliation of God with man is effected by the cross or death of Christ, which, removing the necessity for the punishment of sinners, renders it possible for God to manifest towards them his love. The change is not in man, but, humanly speaking, in God; a change from the purpose to punish to a purpose to pardon and save. There is, so to speak, a reconciliation of God’s justice and of his love effected by Christ’s bearing the penalty in our stead. In 2 Corinthians v. 18, it is said, God “hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.” This does not mean that God changed our heart, and made us love Him, and appointed the Apostle to announce that fact. It can only mean that through Christ, through what He did and suffered for us, peace is restored between God and man, who is able and willing to be gracious. This is the gospel which Paul was commissioned to announce, namely, as follows in the next verse, God is bringing about peace; He was in Christ effecting this peace, and now is ready to forgive sin, i.e., not to impute unto men their trespasses; and therefore the Apostle urges his readers to embrace this offer of mercy, to be reconciled unto God; i.e., to accept his overture of reconciliation. For it has a sure foundation. It rests on the substitution and vicarious death of Christ. He was made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. It is impossible, therefore, that the reconciliation of which the Apostles speak as effected by the cross or death of Christ, should, in its primary and main aspect, be a subjective change in us from enmity to the love of God. It is such a reconciliation as makes God our friend; a reconciliation which enables Him to pardon and save sinners, and which they are called upon most gratefully to embrace.
It is clearly, therefore, the doctrine of the New Testament, that Jesus Christ our Lord saves his people by acting for them the part of a priest. For this office He had all the requisite qualifications; He was thereto duly appointed, and He performed all its functions. He was an expiatory sacrifice for the sins of men. He is not only repeatedly declared to be a sin offering in the Old Testament sense of that term; but He is said to have borne our sins; to have made expiation for the sins of the people; and to have reconciled us, who were the just objects of the divine wrath, to God by his death, by his cross, by the sacrifice of Himself. These representations are so frequent; they are so formally stated, so illustrated, and so applied, as to render them characteristic. They constitute the essential element of the Scriptural doctrine concerning the method of salvation.516
Christ our Redeemer.
There is a third class of passages equally numerous and equally important. Christ is not only set forth as a Priest and as a sacrifice, but also as a Redeemer, and his work as a Redemption. Redemption is deliverance from evil by the payment of a ransom. This idea is expressed by the words ἀπολύτρωσις, from λύτρον, and the verbs λυτρός, ἀγοράζω (to purchase), and ἐξαγοράζω (to buy from, or deliver out of the possession or power of any one by purchase). The price or ransom paid for our redemption is always said to be Christ himself, his blood, his death. As the evils consequent on our apostasy from God are manifold, Christ’s work as a Redeemer is presented in manifold relations in the word of God.
Redemption from the Penalty of the Law.
1. The first and most obvious consequence of sin, is subjection to the penalty of the law. The wages of sin is death. Every sin of necessity subjects the sinner to the wrath and curse of God. The first step, therefore, in the salvation of sinners, is their redemption from that curse. Until this is done they are of necessity separated from God. But alienation from Him of necessity involves both misery and subjection to the power of sin. So long as men are under the curse, they are cut off from the only source of holiness and life. Such is the doctrine taught throughout the Bible, and elaborately in Romans, chapters vi. and vii. In effecting the salvation of his people, Christ “redeemed them from the curse of the law,” not by a mere act of sovereignty, or power; not by moral influence restoring them to virtue, but by being “made a curse for them.” No language can be plainer than this. The curse is the penalty of the law. We were subject to that penalty. Christ has redeemed us from that subjection by being made a curse for us. (Galatians iii. 13.) That the infinitely exalted and holy Son of God should be “accursed” (ἐπικατάρατος), is so awful an idea, that the Apostle justifies the use of such language by quoting the declaration of Scripture, “Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.” Suffering, and especially the suffering of death, judicially inflicted on account of sin, is penal. Those who thus suffer bear the curse or penalty of the law. The sufferings of Christ, and especially his death upon the cross, were neither calamities, nor chastisements designed for his own good, nor symbolical or didactic exhibitions, designed to illustrate and enforce truth, and exert a moral influence on others; these are all subordinate and collateral 517ends. Nor were they the mere natural consequences of his becoming a man and subjecting Himself to the common lot of humanity. They were divine inflictions. It pleased the Lord to bruise Him. He was smitten of God and afflicted. These sufferings were declared to be on account of sin, not his own, but ours. He bore our sins. The chastisement of our peace was on Him. And they were designed as an expiation, or for the satisfaction of justice. They had, therefore, all the elements of punishment, and consequently it was in a strict and proper sense that He was made a curse for us. All this is included in what the Apostle teaches in this passage (Gal. iii. 13), and its immediate context.
Redemption from the Law.
2. Nearly allied to this mode of representation are those passages in which Christ is said to have delivered us from the law. Redemption from bondage to the law includes not only deliverance from its penalty, but also from the obligation to satisfy its demands. This is the fundamental idea of Paul’s doctrine of justification. The law demands, and from the nature of God, must demand perfect obedience. It says, Do this and live; and, “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” No man since the fall is able to fulfil these demands, yet He must fulfil them or perish. The only possible method, according to the Scriptures, by which men can be saved, is that they should be delivered from this obligation of perfect obedience. This, the Apostle teaches, has been effected by Christ. He was “made under the law to redeem them that were under the law.” (Gal. iv. 4, 5.) Therefore, in Romans vi. 14, he says to believers, “Ye are not under the law, but under grace.” And this redemption from the law in Romans vii. 4, is said to be “by the body of Christ.” Hence we are justified not by our own obedience, but “by the obedience” of Christ. (Rom. v. 18, 19.) Redemption in this case is not mere deliverance, but a true redemption, i. e., a deliverance effected by satisfying all the just claims which are against us. The Apostle says, in Galatians iv. 5, that we are thus redeemed from the law, in order “that we might receive the adoption of sons”; that is, be introduced into the state and relation of sons to God. Subjection to the law, in our case, was a state of bondage. Those under the law are, therefore, called slaves, δουλοί. From this state of bondage they are redeemed, and introduced into the liberty of the sons of God. This redemption includes freedom from a slavish spirit, which is 518supplanted by a spirit of adoption, filling the heart with reverence, love, and confidence in God as our reconciled Father.
Redemption from the Power of Sin.
3. As deliverance from the curse of the law secures restoration to the favour of God, and as the love of God is the life of the soul, and restores us to his image, therefore in redeeming us from the curse of the law, Christ redeems us also from the power of sin. “Whosoever committeth sin,” saith our Lord, “is the servant (the slave) of sin.” This is a bondage from which no man can deliver himself. To effect this deliverance was the great object of the mission of Christ. He gave Himself that He might purify unto Himself a peculiar people zealous of good works. He died, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us unto God. He loved the Church and gave Himself for it, that He might present it unto Himself a glorious Church, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. This deliverance from sin is a true redemption. A deliverance effected by a ransom, or satisfaction to justice, was the necessary condition of restoration to the favour of God; and restoration to his favour was the necessary condition of holiness. Therefore, it is said, Galatians i. 8, Christ “gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us (ἐξέληται) from this present evil world.” Titus ii. 14, “Who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity.” 1 Peter i. 18, 19, “Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” Deliverance by sacrifice was deliverance by ransom. Therefore, here as elsewhere, the two modes of statement are combined. Thus our Lord in Matthew xx. 28, Mark x. 45, says, “The Son of Man came . . . . to give his life a ransom for many (ἀντὶ, not merely ὑπὲρ, πολλῶν).” The idea of substitution cannot be more definitely expressed. In these passages our deliverance is said to be effected by a ransom. In Matthew xxvi. 28, our Lord says that his blood was “shed for many for the remission of sins.” Here his death is presented in the light of a sacrifice. The two modes of deliverance are therefore identical. A ransom was a satisfaction to justice, and a sacrifice is a satisfaction to justice.
Redemption from the Power of Satan.
4. The Scriptures teach that Christ redeems us from the power of Satan. Satan is said to be the prince and god of this world. 519His kingdom is the kingdom of darkness, in which all men, since Adam, are born, and in which they remain, until translated into the kingdom of God’s dear Son. They are his subjects “taken captive by him at his will.” (2 Tim. ii. 26.) The first promise was that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent’s head. Christ came to destroy the works of the devil; to cast him down from his place of usurped power, to deliver those who are subject to his dominion. (2 Cor. iv. 4; Col. ii. 16.) The fact of this redemption of his people from the power of Satan, and the mode of its accomplishment, are clearly stated in Hebrews ii. 15. The eternal Son of God, who in the first chapter of that epistle, is proved to be God, the object of the worship of angels, the creator of heaven and earth, eternal and immutable, in verse 14 of the second chapter, is said to have become man, in order “that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” It is here taught, (1.) That men are in a state of bondage through fear of the wrath of God on account of sin. (2.) That in this state they are in subjection to Satan who has the power of death over them; i.e., the ability and opportunity of inflicting on them the sufferings due to them as sinners. (3.) That from this state of bondage and of subjection to the power of Satan, they are delivered by the death of Christ. His death, by satisfying the justice of God, frees them from the penalty of the law; and freedom from the curse of the law involves freedom from the power of Satan to inflict its penalty. “The strength of sin is the law.” (1 Cor. xv. 56.) What satisfies the law deprives sin of the power to subject us to the wrath of God. And thus redemption from the law, is redemption from the curse, and consequently redemption from the power of Satan. This Scriptural representation took such hold of the imagination of many of the early fathers, that they dwelt upon it, almost to the exclusion of other and more important aspects of the work of Christ. They dallied with it and wrought it out into many fanciful theories. These theories have passed away; the Scriptural truth which underlay them, remains. Christ is our Redeemer from the power of Satan, as well as from the curse of the law, and from the dominion of sin. And if a Redeemer, the deliverance which He effected was by means of a ransom. Hence He is often said to have purchased his people. They are his because He bought them. “Know ye not that . . . . ye are not your own?” says the Apostle, “For ye are bought with a price.” (1 Cor. vi. 20.) God, in Acts xx. 28, is said 520to have purchased the Church “with his own blood.” “Ye were redeemed (delivered by purchase) . . . . with the precious blood of Christ.” (1 Pet. i. 18, 19.) “Thou art worthy . . . . for thou has purchased us (ἡγόρασας) for God by thy blood.” (Rev. v. 9.)
Final Redemption from all Evil.
5. Christ redeems us not only from the curse of the law, from the law itself as a covenant of works, from the power of sin, and from the dominion of Satan, but also from all evil. This evil is the consequence of the curse of the law, and being redeemed from that we are delivered from all evil. Hence the word redemption is often used for the sum of all the benefits of Christ’s work, or for the consummation of the great scheme of salvation. Thus our Lord says, Luke xxi. 28, that when the Son of Man shall appear in his glory, then his disciples may be sure that their “redemption draweth nigh.” They are sealed unto the day of redemption. (Eph. i. 14.) Christ has “obtained eternal redemption.” (Heb. ix. 12.) Believers are represented as waiting for their redemption. (Rom. viii. 23.)
It is therefore the plain doctrine of Scripture that, as before said, Christ saves us neither by the mere exercise of power, nor by his doctrine, nor by his example, nor by the moral influence which He exerted, nor by any subjective influence on his people, whether natural or mystical, but as a satisfaction to divine justice, as an expiation for sin and as a ransom from the curse and authority of the law, thus reconciling us to God, by making it consistent with his perfections to exercise mercy toward sinners, and then renewing them after his own image, and finally exalting them to all the dignity, excellence, and blessedness of the sons of God.
Argument from Related Doctrines.
All the doctrines of grace are intimately connected. They stand in such relation to each other, that one of necessity supposes the truth of the others. The common Church doctrine of the satisfaction of Christ, therefore, is not an isolated doctrine. It is assumed in all that the Scriptures teach of the relation between Christ and his people; of the condition on which our interest in his redemption is suspended; and of the nature of the benefits of that redemption.
1. No doctrine of the Bible, relating to the plan of salvation, is more plainly taught or more wide reaching than that which concerns the union between Christ and his people. That union in one aspect, was from eternity, we were in Him before the 521foundation of the world; given to Him of the Father, to redeem from the estate of sin and misery, into which it was foreseen our race would by transgression fall. It was for the accomplishment of this purpose of mercy that He assumed our nature, was born of a woman, and did and suffered all that He was called upon to do and to endure in working out our salvation. He did not, therefore, come into the world for Himself. It was not to work out a righteousness of his own to entitle Him to the exaltation and power which in our nature He now enjoys. In virtue of the Godhead of his personality, He was of necessity infinitely exalted above all creatures. He came for us. He came as a representative. He came in the same relation to his people, which Adam, in the original covenant, bore to the whole race. He came to take their place; to be their substitute, to do for them, and in their name, what they could not do for themselves. All He did, therefore, was vicarious; his obedience and his sufferings. The parallel between Adam and Christ, the two great representatives of man, the two federal heads, the one of all his natural descendants, the other of all given Him by the Father, is carried out into its details in Romans v. 12-21. It is assumed or implied, however, everywhere else in the sacred volume. What Adam did, in his federal capacity, was in law and justice regarded as done by all whom he represented. And so all that Christ did and suffered as a federal head, was in law and justice done or suffered by his people. Therefore, as we were condemned for the disobedience of Adam, so we are justified for the obedience of Christ. As in Adam all died, so in Christ are all made alive. Hence Christ’s death is said to be our death, and we are said to rise with Him, to live with Him, and to be exalted, in our measure, in his exaltation. He is the head and we are the body. The acts of the head, are the acts of the whole mystical person. The ideas, therefore, of legal substitution, of vicarious obedience and punishment, of the satisfaction of justice by one for all, underlie and pervade the whole scheme of redemption. They can no more be separated from that scheme than the warp can be separated from the woof without destroying the whole texture.
2. In like manner these same truths are implied in what sinners are required to do in order to become the subjects of the redemption of Christ. It is not enough that we should receive his doctrines; or endeavour to regulate our lives by his moral precepts; or that we confide in his protection, or submit to his control as one into whose hands all power in heaven and earth has been committed. 522It is not enough that we should open our hearts to all the influences for good which flow from his person or his work. We must trust in Him. We must renounce our own righteousness, and confide in his for our acceptance with God. We must give up the idea that we can satisfy the demands of God’s justice and law, by anything we can do, suffer, or experience, and rely exclusively on what He, as our representative, substitute, and surety, has done and suffered in our stead. This is what the gospel demands. And this, the world over, is precisely what every true believer, no matter what his theological theories may be, actually does. But this act of self-renunciation and of faith in Christ as the ground of our forgiveness and acceptance with God, supposes Him to be our substitute, who has satisfied all the demands of law and justice in our stead.
3. If we turn to the Scriptural account of the benefits which we receive from Christ, we find that this view of the nature of his work, is therein necessarily implied. We are justified through Him. He is our righteousness. We are made the righteousness of God in Him. But justification is not a subjective work. It is not sanctification. It is not a change wrought in us either naturally or supernaturally. It is not the mere executive act of a sovereign, suspending the action of the law, or granting pardon to the guilty. It is the opposite of condemnation. It is a declaration that the claims of justice are satisfied. This is the uniform meaning of the Hebrew and Greek words employed in Scripture, and of the corresponding words in all other languages, as far as those languages are cultivated to express what passes in the consciousness of men. But if God, in justifying sinners, declares that with regard to them the claims of justice are satisfied, it confessedly is not on the ground that the sinner himself has made that satisfaction, but that Christ has made it in his behalf.
The doctrine of sanctification also, as presented in the Scriptures, is founded on the substitution of Christ. Sanctification is not a work of nature, but a work of grace. It is a transformation of character effected not by moral influences, but supernaturally by the Holy Spirit; although on that account only the more rationally. The first step in the process is deliverance from the curse of the law by the body, or death of Christ. Then God being reconciled, He admits us into fellowship with Himself. But as the sinner is only imperfectly sanctified, he is still in his state and acts far from being in himself an object of the divine complacency. It is only as united to Christ and represented by Him, that he enjoys the continuance 523of the divine favour, which is his life, and constantly receives from Him the gift of the Holy Spirit. So that the life that the believer lives, is Christ living in him. Thus in the whole process of salvation the ideas of substitution, of representation, of Christ’s being and doing for us, all that we are required to be and to do, are of necessity involved. And even to the last we are saved only in Him. It is in virtue of this union that believers are raised from the dead, admitted into heaven, and receive the crown of eternal life. It is not for what they have done, nor for what they have been made, but solely for what has been done in their stead that they are made partakers of his life, and, ultimately, of his glory.
Argument from the Religious Experience of Believers.
By the religious experience of Christians is meant those states and acts of the mind produced by “the things of the Spirit,” or by the truths of God’s Word as revealed and applied by the Holy Ghost. We are clearly taught in Scripture that the truth is not only objectively presented in the Word, but that it is the gracious office of the Spirit, as a teacher and guide, to lead the people of God properly to understand the truths thus outwardly revealed, and to cause them to produce their proper effect on the reason, the feelings, the conscience, and the life. What the Holy Spirit thus leads the people of God to believe must be true. No man however is authorized to appeal to his own inward experience as a test of truth for others. His experience may be, and in most cases is, determined more or less by his peculiar training, his own modes of thinking, and diverse other modifying influences. But this does not destroy the value of religious experience as a guide to the knowledge of the truth. It has an authority second only to that of the Word of God. One great source of error in theology has always been the neglect of this inward guide. Men have formed their opinions, or framed their doctrines on philosophical principles, or moral axioms, and thus have been led to adopt conclusions which contradict the inward teachings of the Spirit, and even their own religious consciousness. The only question is, How can we distinguish the human from the divine? How can we determine what in our experience is due to the teaching of the Spirit, and what to other influences? The answer to these questions is, (1.) That what is conformed to the infallible standard in the Scriptures, is genuine, and what is not thus conformed is spurious. The Bible contains not only the truths themselves, but a record of the effects produced on the mind when they are applied by the Holy Spirit. (2.) Another 524test is universality. What all true Christians experience must be referred to a cause common to all. It cannot be accounted for by what is peculiar to individuals or to denominations. (3.) A subordinate test, but one of great value to the individual, is to be found in the nature of the experience itself, and its effects upon the heart and life. A religious experience which makes a man self-complacent, self-righteous, proud, censorious, and persecuting, is certainly not to be referred to the Spirit of holiness and love. But if a man’s experience renders him humble, meek, contrite, forgiving, and long-suffering; if it leads him to believe all things and hope all things; if it renders him spiritually and heavenly minded; if it makes it Christ for him to live; in short, if it produces the same effect on him that the truth produced on the prophets and apostles, there can be little doubt that it is due to the teaching and influence of the Holy Ghost.
It is certainly an unanswerable argument in favour of the divinity of Christ, for example, as a doctrine of the Bible, that all true Christians look up to Christ as God; that they render Him the adoration, the love, the confidence, the submission, and the devotion which are due to God alone, and which the apprehension of divine perfection only can produce. It is certainly a proof that the Scriptures teach that man is a fallen being, that he is guilty and defiled by sin, that he is utterly unable to free himself from the burden and power of sin, that he is dependent on the grace of God and the power of the Spirit, if these truths are inwrought into the experience of all true believers. In like manner, if all Christians trust in Christ for their salvation; if they look to Him as their substitute, obeying and suffering in their stead, bearing their sins, sustaining the curse of the law in their place; if they regard Him as the expiatory sacrifice to take away their guilt and satisfy the justice of God in their behalf; if they thank and bless Him for having given Himself as a ransom for their redemption from the penalty and obligation of the law as prescribing the condition of salvation, and from the dominion of Satan, from the power of sin and from all its evil consequences; then, beyond doubt, these are the truths of God, revealed by the Spirit in the word, and taught by the Spirit to all who submit to his guidance. That such is the experience of true believers in relation to the work of Christ, is plain, (1.) Because this is the form and manner in which holy men of old whose experience is recorded in the Scriptures, expressed their relation to Christ and their obligations to Him. He was to them an expiatory sacrifice; a ransom; an ἱλασμός or propitiation. 525They regarded Him as made a curse for them; as bearing their punishment, or “the chastisement of their peace.” They received the “sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ,” as the only means of being cleansed from the guilt of their sins, and of restoration to the favour of God and holiness of heart and life. This was undoubtedly their experience as it is recorded in the Bible. (2.) In the second place, from the times of the Apostle to the present day, the people of God have had the same inward convictions and feelings. This is clear from their confessions of faith, from their liturgies and prayers, from their hymns, and from all the records of their inward religious life. Let any one look over the hymns of the Latin Church, of the Moravians, the Lutherans, the Reformed, of Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, Independents, and Congregationalists, and see what truths on this subject constituted and now constitute the, food and atmosphere of their religious life: —
“Jesus, my God, Thy blood alone hath power sufficient to atone.”
“To the dear fountain of Thy blood, incarnate God, I fly”
“My soul looks back to see the burdens Thou didst bear, When hanging on the cursed tree, and hopes her sins were there.”
“Ein Lämmlein geht und trägt die Schuld,
Der Welt unnd ihren Kinder.”
“Geh hin, nimm dich der Sünder an,
Die auch kein Engel retten kann
Von meines Zornes Ruthen!
Die Straf’ ist schwer, der Zorn ist gross;
Du kannst und sollst sie machen los
Durch Sterben und durch Bluten.”
Does any Christian object to such hymns? Do they not express his inmost religious convictions? If they do not agree with the speculations of his understanding, do they not express the feelings of his heart and the necessities of his fallen nature? The speculations of the understanding are what man teaches; the truths which call forth these feelings of the heart are what the Holy Ghost teaches.
This argument may be presented in another light. It may be shown that no other theory of the work of Christ does correspond with the inward experience of God’s people. The theory that the work of Christ was didactic; that it was exemplary; that its proximate design was to produce a subjective change in the sinner or a moral impression on the minds of all intelligent creatures; these and other theories, contrary to the common Church doctrine, fail especially in two points. First, they do not account for the intimate 526personal relation between Christ and the believer which is everywhere recognized in Scripture, and which is so precious in the view of all true Christians. Secondly, they make no provision for the expiation of sin, or for satisfying the demands of a guilty conscience, which mere pardon never can appease.
Throughout the New Testament, Christ is represented not only as the object of worship and of supreme love and devotion, but also as being to his people the immediate and constant source of life and of all good. Not Christ as God, but Christ as our Saviour. He is the head, we are his members. He is the vine, we are the branches. It is not we that live, but Christ that liveth in us. He is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. His blood cleanses us from all sins. He redeemed us from the curse of the law by being made a curse for us. He bore our sins in his own body on the tree. He is our great High Priest who ever lives to make intercession for us. It would be easy to show from the records of the religious life of the Church that believers have ever regarded Christ in the light in which He is here presented. The argument is that these representations are not consistent with any moral or governmental theory of the atonement.
There are two hymns which, perhaps, beyond all others, are dear to the hearts of all Christians who speak the English language. The one written by Charles Wesley, an Arminian; the other by Toplady, a Calvinist. It is hard to see what meaning can be attached to these hymns by those who hold that Christ died simply to teach us something, or to make a moral impression on us or others. How can they say, —
“Jesus, lover of my soul,
Let me to Thy bosom fly”?
Why should they fly to Him if He be only a teacher or moral reformer? What do they mean when they say, —
“Hide me, O my Saviour hide”?
Hide from what? Not from the vindicatory justice of God, for they admit no such attribute.
“Other refuge have I none;”
refuge from what?
“All my trust on Thee is laid.”
For what do we trust Him? According to their theory He is not the ground of our confidence. It is not for his righteousness, but For our own that we are to be accepted by God. It would seem that those only who hold the common Church doctrine can say, —
“Thou, O Christ, art all I need.”
All I need as a creature, as a sinner, as guilty, as polluted, as miserable and helpless; all I need for time or for eternity. So of Toplady’s precious hymn, —
“Rock of ages, cleft for me;”
for me personally and individually; as Paul said he lived “by faith of the Son of God who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
“Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side that flowed;
Be of sin the double cure;
Cleanse me from its guilt and power.”
How can such language be used by those who deny the necessity of expiation; who hold that guilt need not be washed away, that all that is necessary is that we should be made morally good? No one can say, —
“Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to Thy cross I cling,”
who does not believe that Christ “bore our sins in his own body on the tree.”
It is a historical fact that where false theories of the atonement prevail, Christ and his work are put in the background. We hear from the pulpits much about God as a moral governor; much about the law and obligation, and of the duty of submission; but little about Christ, of the duty of fleeing to Him, of receiving Him, of trusting in Him, of renouncing our own righteousness that we may put on the righteousness of God; and little of our union with Him, of his living in us, and of our duty to live by faith in Him Thus new theories introduce a new religion.
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