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Christ. He who admits the existence of an atonement, cannot, with these declarations in view, hesitate to admit also, that it was accomplished by his blood, that is, by his death and its connected sufferings. The views of Christ himself concerning this subject cannot easily be mistaken, if we remember that he said, he came to give his life a ransom for many;' that the good shepherd giveth bis life for the sheep.' 'I am the living bread, which came down from heaven; if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever. And the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.' John vi. 51.
3. The peculiar agonies, which preceded and attended the death of Christ, and in which the atonement made by him for sin peculiarly consisted, were chiefly distresses of mind, and not of body. This I think evident from many considerations.
(1.). There is no reason so far as I can see, to suppese that the bodily sufferings of Christ were more severe, or even so severe, as those which have been experienced by many others.
The death of the cross was undoubtedly a very distressing death. But it was probably less distressing than that experienced by many of the martyrs. Some of these were roasted by a slow fire. Some were dislocated on the rack, and suffered to expire under long continued tortures. Some had their flesh taken off piece by piece, in a very gradual manner, with red hot pincers. Others expired under various other kinds of exquisite sufferings, devised by the utmost ingenuity of man, and protracted with the utmost cruelty. Multitudes of these martyrs, however, have sustained all their distresses without a complaint, and expired without a groan."
Multitudes also, both of martyrs and others, have died on the cross itself; and, for aught that appears, with bodily anguish not inferior to that which Christ endured. Yet of these, it would seem, numbers have died in the same peaceful man
Even the thieves who were crucified together with our Saviour, seem to have died without any complaint.
Yet Christ uttered a very bitter complaint on the cross ; and complained also in a similar manner in the garden of Gethsemane. Whence arose these complaints ? Not from his want of resignation to the will of God; for no other person was ever so resigned: not from the want of fortitude ; for
no other person evor possessed it in an equal degree. The very complaints which he utters do not appear to have any respect to his bodily sufferings, but to have originated entirely from a different cause, and that cause purely mental ; as I shall have occasion farther onward to explain.
(2.) Christ is expressly said to have made his soul an offer:ing for sin.
Isaiah liïi. 19, · When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin.' In the margin, · When his soul shall make an offering for sin.' In Lowth,. If his soul shall make a propitiatory sacrifice.' But if his soul was indeed the sin-offering, then the sufferings which he underwent as an atonement for sin, were peculiarly the sufferings of his soul, or mental sufferings. Accordingly, they are called the travail of his soul.'*
(3.) The complaints of Christ, in Psalms xxii. xl. lxix and kxxvüi. appear to indicate that his sufferings were chiefly sufferings of mind.
Such, at least, is the impression made on my mind by reading these passages of Scripture ; an impression, resulting not so much from detached parts, as from the whole strain of the composition. To this mode of examining the subject I shall refer those who hear me, for their own satisfaction.
4. The agony which Christ underwent in the garden of Gethsemane exhibits the same truth.
Christ in this garden had his sufferings in full view. The prospect was so terrible, that it forced from him sweat, as it were great drops of blood falling to the ground. At the same time he prayed earnestly thrice, that if it were possible, this cup might pass from him. It cannot, I think, be imagined even with decency, and certainly, not in any consistency with the character of Christ as manifested elsewhere, that the mere prospect of death, even of a most cruel and bitter death, was 80 overwhelming to his mind, as to convulse his constitution in this manner, or to force from him such a prayer. Perhaps no person, under the mere apprehension of death, was ever agitated in an equal degree. Had it not pleased Jehovah to bruise him, there is no reason to believe that he would bave been anxiously solicitous concerning the utmost evils
*He shall see of the travail of his soul, and, be satisfied. Ibid.
which he could suffer from the hands of men. He bad directed even his disciples, notwithstanding their frailty, ‘not to fear them who could kill the body, and after that could do no more.' It cannot be supposed that his own conduct was not exactly conformed to this precept.
5. Christ himself appears to have decided this point in the manner already specified.
In his exclamation on the cross, he said, · My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?' As this was his only complaint, it must, I think, be believed to refer to his principal suffering. But the evil here complained of, is being forsaker hy God. In the language of the Psalmist, ‘God hid his face from him ;' that is, if I mistake not, withdrew from him wholly those manifestations of supreme complacency in his character and conduct, which he had always before made. As this was in itself a most distressing testimony of the divine anger against sin, so it is naturally imagined, and, I think, when we are informed that it pleased Jehovah to bruise him, directly declared in the Scriptures, that this manifestation was accompanied by other disclosures of the anger of God against sin, and against him as the substitute for sinners.
The views and feelings of one mind towards another can produce the highest sense of suffering, of which we are capable. The esteem and love of intelligent beings are, when united, the most exquisite of all enjoyment; and are naturally, and in all probability necessarily, coveted more than any other, except the approbation of our own minds. Their mere indifference towards us, when they have opportunity of being so far acquainted with us as to give room for being esteemed and loved by them, is ordinarily the source of severe mortification. In proportion as they are more intelligent and worthy, their love and esteem are more important to us, and more coveted by us; and the refusal of it creates in us more intense distress.
The complacency of God, whose mind is infinite, and whose disposition is perfect, is undoubtedly the first of all possible enjoyments. The loss of it, therefore, and the consequent suffering of his hatred and contempt, are undoubtedly the greatest evils which a created mind can suffer ; evils, which will in all probability constitute the primary anguish experienced in the world of woe. Omniscience and omnipotence are certainly able to communicate, during even a short time, to a finite mind such views of the hatred and contempt of God towards sin and sinners, and of course towards a substituto for sinners, as would not only fill its capacity of suffering, but probably pnt an end to its existence. In this manner, I apprehend, the chief distresses of Christ were produced. In this manner, principally, was that testimony of God against disobedience exhibited to the Redeemer, and ultimately to the universe, which so solemnly supported the sanctions of the divine law, and so illustriously honoured the divine government, as to prevent the pardon of sinners from being regarded by intelligent creatures as the mere indulgence of a weak and
a changeable disposition in the infinite ruler.
6. The active obedience of Christ was, in my apprehension, essentially concerned in his atonement.
This position I shall illustrate under the following particulars.
(1.) If Christ had not obeyed the law perfectly, he could not have atoned for the sins of mankind at all.
It was as ' a lamb without blemish, and without spot,' that he became a proper, acceptable offering; and in this character only. Had he been stained with iniquity, his sufferings would have been, and would have been regarded as the mere punishment of his own sins, and not as an expiation for the sins of others. Had he been of a neutral character, his sufferings would have been of no apparent value. On the contrary, they would have been considered as strange, inexplicable, and resembling those accidents which, being unconnected with any thing preceding or succeeding, are fitted only to excite a momentary attention and wonder. The excellency of Christ gave all the real value and efficacy to his sufferings. But, can it be said, that that which gave all the real value to his sufferings, constituted no part of the atonement which he made by them? The atonement of Christ certainly did not consist in mere suffering, but in such sufferings of such a person. But Christ could not have been such a person without his active obedience ; nor could his sufferings have been of such a nature, if he had not been such a person.
If he had not suffered, he could not have atoned for sin at all. If he had not obeyed, his sufferings would have been of no value.
(2.) It was indispensable to the existence of the atonement of Christ, that he should magnify the law and make it honourable.
This I consider as having been done by his obedience in the first instance, and in the second by his sufferings. The former was as truly indispensable as the latter; and was indispensable to the existence of the latter. In the predictions of the Old Testament, and the declarations of the New, similar stress is laid on both these great articles. As I have expressed my views of this subject in a late Discourse, I will not repeat them here; but will only add, that the obedience of Christ as truly honoured the preceptive part of the law, as his sufferings the penal. The doctrine which has been taught by some wise and good men, that if the law is not discerned in itself to be • holy, just, and good,' the obedience of Christ cannot make it appear so, but only show, that it was a law which he was so desirous to support as to be willing to obey it, is, I am bound to say, contrary to my own conviction. The character of Christ, as excellent, is certainly capable of being seen and realized, independently of the divine law. Christ, as all those with whom I am now contending will acknowledge, is a divine person. Surely we are not obliged to have recourse to the law of God, as the only means of proving the excellency of his character. Independently of this, we are able to prove, that the infinite mind is possessed of infinite excellence; and of course cannot but discern, that a law which this excellence is disposed to obey, as well as to promulgate, must be of the most glorious kind possible. The mere promulgation of the law consists in declarations only. But who does not know, that actions carry with them an evidence far more convincing, and especially far more impressive, than any declarations whatever? At the same time, the transcendent dignity of the Son of God lends the same lustre to his obedience as to his sufferings; and renders the former of the same influence in recommending the precepts of the law, which the latter possess in vindicating its penalty. Besides, the same objection may be made against the proof derived from the sufferings of Christ, that the penalty of the law is just. For it may with the same propriety be alleged, that if the penalty of the law does not appear just in itself, the sufferings of Christ can never make it appear so; since they prove no more, than that Christ was so desirous to support the law, as to be willing for this end to undergo such sufferings. Should it be said, that the sufferings of Christ involved self-denial ; and that thus they