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brought it into union with Godhead, and hath fixed it there for ever by the resurrection. This is the view of atonement, or reconciliation, which in my book on the Incarnation I have deduced rather as a corollary from the doctrine of the Incarnation, than handled as a distinct subject. It is true, that this view of atonement looks at the thing accomplished, and not the means by which it was accomplished; for the word atonement expresses the state attained, not the transition to that state : and the same of the word reconciliation-But of the price, or sacrifice, we shall speak by and bye.
Again : if by atonement they understand redemption, which is the word commonly used in Scripture (for atonement, or reconciliation, is of very rare occurrence), then, as the word means purchase from bondage, three subjects are involved in it: first, who is the captive; secondly, what is the bondage; and, thirdly, how is the redemption effected. The answer to the first of these questions is, The will of man is the bondsman: to the second, The bondage is the oppression of the devil, the world, and the Aesh ; and the redemption consisteth in delivering the human will out of this bondage. And these things not being denied, the answer to the third question is very short and simple : The Person of the Word did take a human will under those very bondages into union with himself; and acting therein, did deliver it completely out of all those oppressions of the devil, the world, and the flesh. He came into the captivity, that he might lead the captivity captive. Now, as there is no question with respect to the bondsman and the bondage, I wonder there should be any with respect to the method of the redemption. The adversaries of the truth agree with us, that the will of man hath to be redeemed out of the bondage of the devil, world, and flesh; and they agree that to effect this the Son of God took a human will; but they deny that this will was a bond-will. And what need, then, had it of redemption ? And how is Christ's work in flesh a redemption of our will, if so be his will was not lying under our bondage ? Or how is it a redemption at all? Or how can Incarnation be put forth and used as the ground of our redemption? Whatever use God may make of Christ's work, it is manifest that this work is no work of redemption, if the will he took was not a will in bondage. There is no aptitude in it for redemption of others, or for redemption at all. It is by mere arbitrary connection, if it bring redemption to us; for redemption in itself hath it none. And if it is to be an arbitrary work of God's will, why does the Son make a fashion of becoming Redeemer ? why not do it out of sight altogether, and merely let us know that it has been done ? And truly this seems to me nine-tenths of the theology which is current, at least in my beloved Scotland : “God says he is reconciled, and that it is by his Son: therefore take it on his word, and inquire no further about it.” I say
that this is mere verbalism, it is no theology. Theology is not the knowledge of the word, but of God: or if it be of the Word, it is of the WORD MADE FLESH. They speak now-a-days as if truth was still merely in a book, and not realized in a Person. Such teachers should have lived under the Old Testament, when God's truth stood only in word ; not under the New Testament, when it standeth in the person of Christ, in that Word made flesh, I must be taught God, therefore, in flesh; otherwise I can know nothing of the freedom of the New-Testament Christianity, about which they talk so much, and think so little.
It only remains that we speak of the atonement with relation to the price, the ransom, or sacrifice, by which it was purchased. And this I say, with all orthodox divines, standeth in the death of the Son of God: by which I believe that sin was abolished and an everlasting righteousness brought in; as it is written : “By the which will we are sanctified, through the offering of the body of Christ once for all.” (Heb. x. This act of dying, and in death offering a spotless body, I believe to be the great and principal act of Christ's work in the flesh; as it is written : “ Therefore the Father loveth me because I give my life for the sheep. I believe that out of this death cometh the life of all who shall for ever live; and l obtrude these points of faith it
may seem out of place in our argument, on purpose to disabuse honest-hearted people, who may have been led astray by the wicked surmises of evil tongues, that I lean to Socinian views on the subject of the atonement. Malicious men! wicked railers ! when will ye learn charity and love ?--Seeing, then, we be agreed together that by the death of the clean and innocent Lamb of God atonement or redemption is to be effected, the inquiry ariseth, How is this death to be attained unto? We answer, By his coming in that nature which sinned, and which for sinning was accursed to death. Death being the proper penalty of sin, the sign of God's holiness and justice upon a sinning man, is not to be reached or come at, by any person, otherwise than through the way of sin. If a sinless person could die, then death would not be the sign of God's hatred of sin; for in that case it would without sin be inflicted. Now, that Christ is a sinless person we all admit, and how then could he reach death ? He could not reach it by coming in a sinless and unfallen nature, such as Adam's : for such a nature, not having sinned, could not die, without making death void as the great sign of God's holiness. To reach death, there is no other way but by coming in the nature of a sinful creature ; in that nature which, having sinned, did underlie the curse of death. If with his holy person he inform this nature, he may die; nay, he must die: for when human nature was sentenced in the
of Adam to death, it was all sentenced, every particle of it whatever; and the death of it is the grand demonstration of God's holy batred and final justice against sin. And therefore,
agreeing that the death of the clean and innocent Lamb of God is the means unto our redemption or atonement, I say it could not otherwise be reached but through his taking humanity, fallen, sinful, and under the sentence of death.
This is the argument of all divines, and of all confessions and creeds whatsoever, for the necessity of Christ's being, as to his total and complete manhood, of the substance of his mother; and it is the reason for which the church hath ever rejected with abhorrence the heretical_tenet that he was not mortal, and his flesh not corruptible. But because I do find, I must confess to my horror, that a Doctor in Divinity * in my own church, and one of whose orthodoxy and learning I thought better, hath countenanced, yea, and I may say avowed, that tenet of ancient heretics, I think it good to make a remark upon the only passage of Scripture which seems to give it support, and which from other quarters I hear quoted in its favour. It is John x. 17, 18: “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself: I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.” This was spoken to shew the reason of his Father's love to him: and the reason is, that to his Father's commandment he was obedient to the giving up of his life. And to shew that it was a pure act of doing his Father's will, he declareth that no one could take it away from him. Does this mean that he was not capable of dying? that his flesh could not be wounded to death ? that no weapon could slay it? Why then did he hide himself from the people of Nazareth? why say, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death?” why even speak of his being put to death? why the Apostles accuse the Jews of slaying him ? and a thousand other contradictory things. The meaning of the words “No one taketh it from me,” will be best explained by another passage (Matt. xxvi. 53, 54): “ Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to
my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels ? But how then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be ?” This lets us into a mystery of our Lord's life, that he was in poverty and want and desertion and oppression, not through defect of power, which even as a man he had over all things through the perfectness of his faith; but that he preferred to be so, because in the Scriptures the Father had written it as his will that he should be so. This,
* Doctor Hamilton, of Strathblane, who says, in his book upon Millenarianism, last page, that some one he admires “ hath proved the immortality and incorruptibility of Christ's body with the cogency of a mathematical demonstration." For an orthodox divine to write this is wonderful; for a Doctor of the Scottish Church, which declares “ that the flesh of Christ in its own nature was mortal and corruptible,” to declare it, is passing wonderful. Censure should take more heed.
which was true in all things – for surely he that could command the elements to serve others could have commanded them to serve himself-was true also of the giving up of his life: of which he saith, “ I have power (liberty) to lay it down, and power to take it up again.
." This, again, will receive its explanation from another passage of Scripture (John v. 26): “ For, as the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself." This shews us whence he derived that power of having life in himself, even from the Father. And that his life was supported from the same fountain, take this testimony (John vi. 57): “ As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. These two passages teach me that the power of holding his life in his own hands, which Christ speaketh of in the passage in question, is one given to him in virtue of his perfect faith; just as in virtue of our faith we derive from him the gift of everlasting life. Take this passage, in the same discourse, where it is as strongly affirmed of a believer (John viïi.
“ Verily, verily I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death. So also xi. 26 : i And whosoever liveth, and believeth in me, shall never die.” See also John v. 24, and various other passages. Now what do these passages signify? Not, surely, that the believer is immortal; nor yet that he hath power against natural death; but that his faith implanteth in him a new life, over which death hath no power, though it retain its power of dissolving soul and body: which dissolution, also, shall be undergone by believers to prove death's weakness, and to give them the victory over death, in that day of the first resurrection, when death shall be swallowed up in victory. For, in the parallel passages of the vith of John, it is three times said, in these words, or words equivalent, “He that believeth on me hath everlasting life, and I will raise him up at the last day" (verses 39, 40, 44). In life, therefore, the believer hath an everlasting life-that is, a life indestructible by death-and yet he dies : but, being dead, his body still reposeth in Christ, and shall in due time live also. The lying in the grave vindicates God's holiness : its rising again vindicates his grace, mercy, love, and power. These are illustrations of this manner of speaking. But the true meaning of our Lord, when he saith “ I have liberty to lay down my life, and liberty to take it up again, is, that he, having faith in the promises made to him by God, knew that he would be enabled to lay down his life at the time God required it of him--that is, “when all things were accomplished” (John xix. 28);-and that when he had done so, he would have liberty to take it up again by the resurrection. We have seen, from the passage quoted above, that he could have prevented his life from being taken if he had pleased ; just as he
could have made the stones of the wilderness bread if he had pleased; but how then would the Scriptures have been fulfilled ? how would he fulfil the revealed will of bis Father? He had a baptism to be baptized with: it was written for him : " it pleased the Father to bruise him and to put him to grief :” it pleased the Father to “make his soul an offering for sin :" he had received the commandment from his Father, and therefore he did it; not under compulsion, but under obedience. This is the plain, straight-forward meaning of the passage. Now, if I were to argue upon it I would say, That because he was in fallen humanity, and liable to death, he could thus speak; and otherwise he could not have spoken it. For otherwise than in obedience to the commandment of God, which imposed death on fallen manhood, could he not have died. The commandment of his Father to die, was spoken in Paradise upon Adam, and upon all Adam's seed; and to the obedience thereof Christ willingly submitted himself when he took flesh ; and so he found power to lay down his life. But where, I ask, is the commandment of God that a person in unfallen humanity should die? It existeth not in the written word of God; but the contrary of it existeth implicitly, in making disobedience the condition unto death. The notion I have myself expressed, that if a man could keep the Law perfectly he would not die; and that on this account Christ might have claimed exemption from death. I begin to doubt the premises, and am at a loss for the proof. We die not for any sin of our own, but for Adam's sin ; else why do children die? And thus doth this passage not only admit an easy explanation, but recoileth
the head of the adversaries of the truth. Thus have I shewn, that, looking at atonement how you please, it not only doth not fall, but standeth, in the fact that Christ took human nature in the fallen state. The particular views which we hold with respect to the part which God the Father hath in the atonement, and the extent of the atonement made, come not at present into question. I differ very widely indeed from views held by many otherwise orthodox men upon these subjects; and may, perhaps, in a future Number, set forth my own views upon it; but it is entirely a different question from this which we now handle--namely, the consistency, nay, the necessity, of Christ's being in fallen flesh, in order to give that atonement, which we all agree consisteth in his dying, and in death offering a body and a soul without a stain and without a spot.
4. Perceiving these things clearly and distinctly in my own mind, I have reflected much within myself to discover why with many there should be so much puzzle and perplexity, not to say positive error, upon this subject : and I will continue still more to reflect upon it, that, by God's blessing, I may do my part for the health and well-being of Christ's church. Now it seems to me, that the root of their error is in mistaking Christ's