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THE PRIEST HOOD OF CHRIST.
THE MANNER IN WHICH IT IS PERFORMED:
BEING JUSTIFIED FREELY BY HIS GRACE THROUGH THE REDEMP.
TION THAT IS IN CHRIST JESUS. WHOM GOD HATH SET FORTH TO BE A PROPITIATION, THROUGH FAITH IN HIS BLOOD, TO DECLARE HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS FOR THE REMISSION OF SINS THAT ARE PAST, THROUGH THE FORBEARANCE OF GOD. TO DECLARE, I SAY, AT THIS TIME, HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS; THAT HE MIGHT BE JUST, AND THE JUSTIFIER OF HIM WHICH BELIEVETH IN JESUS.
ROMANS III. 24-26.
In the last Sermon I proposed to discourse on the atonement of Christ, under the following heads :
1. The nature,
The three last I propose to examine at the present
time; and shall proceed, without any preliminary remarks, to
III. The existence of an atonement for sin.
It is hardly necessary to observe here, that, as all our know ledge of this subject is revealed, all proofs of the fact in question must be derived from Revelation. The proofs which I shall allege, I shall arrange under the follow heads :
1. Those passages of Scripture which speak of Christ as a propitiation for sin.
These are the text; 1 John ïi. 2; and 1 John iv. 10. Of these, the text first claims our consideration. In the text it is declared, that God hath set forth Christ' to be a propitiation.'
The word, here rendered propitiation, is idasempios." This word is used only twice in the Greek Testament; viz. in the text, and Hebrews ix. 5. Its proper meaning is the propitiatory, or mercy-seat ; as it is rendered in the latter passage. The mercy-seat in the tabernacle and temple, was the place where God manifested himself peculiarly by the Shechinah, or visible symbol of his presence; heard the prayers and accepted the offerings of his people ; and dispensed to them his mercy, in answer to their supplications. The mercy-seat, we are taught in the text, was a type, of which Christ, the true idasmpios, was the antitype. In him God hears our prayers, and dispenses his own mercy to us. The mercy-seat, the place where God exhibited himself as thus propitious to mankind, was itself a mere shadow or symbol, denoting Christ; the means by which he is rendered propitious. Although the word differs, therefore, from that used in the other passages mentioned, the meaning is the same. It is accordingly rendered in the same manner by the translators.
A propitiation for sin is the means by which God is rendered merciful to sinners.' Christ is here declared to be the propitiation. But the only possible sense in which Christ can have become the means of rendering God merciful to sinners, is by making an atonement for them. This atonement I have explained to consist in making sufficient amends for the faults which they have committed, and placing the law and government of God in such a situation, that when sinners are pardoned, both shall be equally honourable and efficacious, as before. The motives to obedience, also, must in no degree
be lessened. Farther : the character of God, when pardoping sinners, must appear perfectly consistent with itself, and exactly expressed by the law. Finally : God must be seen to be no less opposed to sin, and no less delighted with holiness, than when the law was formed.
The doctrine is completely established by the text. God is here said to have set forth Christ' to declare his righteousness, or, as it is better rendered by Macknight, 'for a proof of his own righteousness in passing by the sins which were before committed, through the forbearance of God; for a proof, also, of his righteousness at the present time, in order that be may be just, when justifying him who believeth in Jesus. In this passage, the end for which Christ was set forth to be a propitiation, is asserted to be, that Christ might declare, or be a proof of the righteousness of God, in passing by, or remitting, sins which were past ; and of his righteousness, also, at the present time, when justifying believers. In these assertions we are taught in the most unambiguous manner, that unless Christ had been set forth as a propitiation, the righteousness of God, in remitting past and present sins, would not have been manifested. It is also declared in the same decisive manner, that if Christ had not been set forth as a propitiation, God would not have been just, when justifying believers. Christ, therefore, in the character of a propitiation, and only in this character, has made the pardoning, or justification, of sinners consistent with the justice of God. To pardon sinners, therefore, without a propitiation, would have been inconsistent with divine justice, and of courso impossible.
The same doctrine is farther confirmed by St. John, who, in his first epistle ï. 2, and iv. 10, declares, that Christ is a propitiation for our sins.' The word, used in both these passages, is shaonos; the proper English of which is a propitiation,
‘ ' a propitiatory sacrifice, or sin-offering. This word is often used by the Seventy; and appropriately signifies, in their use of it, a sacrifice of atonement. Thus Kpros iraquo * is a 'ram for a sin-offering ;' and mpoo pepes inæquor + is ' to offer a sin-offering.' The same signification it has, and can only have, as used by St. John.
. Lev, vi. 6,7;-Numb. v. 8.
2. Those passages of Scripture, which speak of Christ as a ransom for mankind. These are Matthew xx. 28; the corresponding passage in Mark x. 45; and 1st of Timothy ii. 6. The passage in Matthew is, ' Even as the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.' That in Mark is a repetition of this. That in Timothy is, · Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. The word translated ransom in the two first of these passages, is duspor ; which signifies the price paid for the deliverance of a captive from the slavery or death, to which among the ancients a captive was or might be regularly condemned. The word in Timothy is arridurpos ; which, according to Estius, denoted the ransom paid for the life of a captive, by giving up the life of another person. The Aurpov might be a sum of money. But the signification in all these passages is unquestionably the same in substance; because exactly the same thing is referred to in them all. This, in the passage from Timothy, is declared to be giving up his own life for the life of sinners ;' or, in other words, dying, that sinners might live.' I know not how the fact, that Christ made an atonement, could have been declared in more explicit, or more forcible language.
Of the same nature are all those passages, which declare, that we are redeemed by Christ. The Greek word, which signifies to redeem, is autpow; as that which signifies redemption is arodvrpwors: both derivatives from autpor, ransom. Every one, who has read his Bible, knows, that Christ is there appropriately styled our Redeemer ; and that we are often said to be redeemed,' and to have redemption,' by him. For example, Ephesians i. 7, . In whom we have redemption
• through his blood. Rev, v. 9, Thou hast redeemed us to God by thy blood.' Gal. iii. 13, Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.' In all these, and various other passages of the New Testament, it is declared, that · Christ redeemed us :' that is, he brought us out from the bondage and condemnation of sin by his blood,' and by being made a curse for us,' in that he died
the accursed tree. It will be unnecessary to multiply words, to show that exactly the same thing is here taught, as in those passages, where Christ is declared to have given himself as a ransom.'
3. Those passages, in which Christ is spoken of as a substitute for mankind.
These are very numerous, and of many forms. A few of them only can be recited at the present time. · Surely,' sats Isaiah, he has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows.' * But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.' · The Lord has laid upon him the iniquity of us all.' For the transgression of my people was he stricken. By his knowledge shall my
' · righteous servant justify many.' When thou shalt make his
• soul an offering for sin.' For he shall bear their iniquities.' ! And he bare the sin of many.* These passages can need no explanation. Language cannot more clearly or more strongly assert, that Christ was a substitute for sinners; that he bore their sins, and suffered for their iniquities ; or, in other words, that he became an atonement for them.
Daniel, in his ix. chapter, recites, from the mouth of Gabriel, the following words: 'Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people ;—to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness,—and to anoint the Most Holy. In the following verse he farther informs us, that at the end of the seventy weeks,' the · Messiah should be cut off, but not for himself.' Accordingly, at the end of seventy weeks, or four hundred and ninety years, “from the going forth of the commandment to rebuild Jerusalem,' published by Artaxerxes Longimanus, the Messiah was cut off, but not for himself;' that is, within four years after he had been anointed by the Holy Ghost, according to the same prediction. The effect of his being cut off, was to make an end of sin, and to make reconciliation for iniquity.
1 Cor. xv. 3, Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures.' Here it is not only asserted, that Christ died for our sins;' but this fact is said to have taken place according to the general tenour of the Scriptures. The same doctrine is taughi by Christ himself, first to Cleophas and his companion, and next to the eleven; Luke xxiv. 25, 26, 45, 46. Then he said unto them, . O fools, and slow of heart to
* Isaiah liii.