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lehem, which some of his servants immediately procured for him with the extreme hazard of their lives, the monarch refused to taste it, exclaiming, It is the price of blood! but poured it out before the Lord. The felicity which flows from the irreparable misery of another, and more especially of one whose disinterested benevolence alone exposed him to it, will be faintly relished by him who is not immersed in selfishness. If there be any portions of history, whose perusal affords more pure and exquisite delight than others, they are those which present the spectacle of a conflicting and self-devoted virtue, after innumerable toils and dangers undergone in the cause, enjoying a dignified repose in the bosom of the country which its example has ennobled, and its valour saved. Such a spectacle gratifies the best propensities, satisfies the highest demands of our moral and social nature. It affords a delightful glimpse of the future and perfect economy of retributive justice. In the plan of human redemption this requisition is fully satisfied. While we accompany the Saviour through the successive stages of his mortal sojourning, marked by a corresponding succession of trials, each of which was more severe than the former, till the scene darkened, and the clouds of wrath from heaven and from earth, pregnant with materials which nothing but a divine hand could have collected, discharged themselves on him in a deluge of agony and of blood, under which he expired, we perceive at once the sufficiency, I had almost said, the redundancy, of his atonement. But surely deliverance even from the wrath to come would afford an imperfect enjoyment, if it were imbittered with the recollection that we were indebted for it to the irreparable destruction of our compassionate Redeemer. The consolation arising from reconciliation with God is subject to no such deduction. While we rejoice in the cross of Christ as the source of pardon, our satisfaction is heightened by beholding it succeeded by the crown; by seeing him that was for a little while made lower than the angels, for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour, seated at the right hand of God, thence expecting till his enemies are made his footstool.”
7. There is one circumstance more which deserves to be taken into the account in replying to this objection. The substitution of Christ is a case which is absolutely peculiar.
Such a case could never be justified as a matter of ordinary or frequent occurrence. It could only be when something extraordinary called for its introduction, when such a combination of requirements met as could but seldom come together, that it would be warrantable to admit of the innocent being substituted in room of the guilty. Its frequent occurrence could not fail to have a most injurious influence in weakening the sense of moral obligation. That the bad should be pardoned at the expense of the good, the virtuous sacrificed that the wicked might be spared, and those who are a blessing to society cut off that such as are a curse might be perpetuated, are what no wise government could tolerate. The punishment of crime would, in this case, be so dissevered from the perpetration of crime,
17 Hall's Works, v. i., pp. 514-517.
, as to impair the motives to obedience and take away all fear of offending against the law. The purposes of good government thus require that the principle of substitution shall be but rarely introduced. It cannot take place in the common course of justice; it must be an extraordinary interposition; not contrary to law, but above law; departing from the letter, but maintaining the spirit; and introduced by one who possesses the right of exerting a dispensing power, that is to say, by the lawgiver himself. Now the substitution of Christ is exactly of the nature required. It is an event quite unique in the administration of God's moral government. It is strictly and literally an extraordinary proceeding. We have no reason to conclude that the like ever existed before, or shall ever exist again. It stands forth an insulated and prominent fact in the economy of divine providence—' a single and solitary monument amidst the lapse of ages and the waste of worlds. Inspired history contains not a hint of any such transaction having ever before occurred on the theatre of the universe; nor does prophecy give us ground to expect that any thing similar is ever again to occur in the annals of eternity. It is the masterpiece of infinite wisdom -an unparalleled display of infinite goodness, calculated to engage the enraptured and eternal con
templation of every order of created intelligences. Christ hath ONCE suffered for sins.
Christ was ONCE offered to bear the sins of many. ONCE in the end of the world did he appear to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
V. We shall notice, only farther, the objection that the atonement of Christ was unnecessary.
It is supposed, that God could as honourably acquit sinners without as with a satisfaction. It will not be necessary to dwell long in replying to this position, as we intend to devote the next section wholly to the investigation of the necessity of Christ's atonement. A few brief remarks may here suffice.
1. The objection is presumptuous.
It is not for us, on the ground of mere abstract reasoning, to say absolutely what is necessary or not necessary in a case like the present.
When we venture to say what God ought to do or ought not to do, what course it would be honourable and what not honourable for him to pursue, we step quite beyond our limits; we set up our weak, erring, finite understandings as judges over the infinite mind of Jehovah. The only safe ground on which we can determine whether a certain line of procedure be necessary or honourable in God, is judging from what he has already revealed or done. To pronounce it antecedently unnecessary is thus to beg the question,-it is just to affirm that an atonement has not been made, nor any data given from which it can be
18 See Hall, v. i., p. 516.
inferred. This, however, is the very point in dispute, and must be determined by quite a different process from that of arrogantly pronouncing an atonement unnecessary.
2. But supposing, for the sake of argument, that the necessity of an atonement could not be shown from any thing that appears, it would not follow, even then, that we are at liberty to pronounce it absolutely unnecessary.
There may be reasons for its existence which we have never discovered, or which we are not qualified to comprehend. There may be purposes to be served by it which have never been made known to us, and which our unaided faculties are incapable of penetrating. Unless we can say that we are acquainted with every possible reason that can exist for such a course—unless we can affirm that we know every purpose which it is capable of serving, it must be obvious we have no right to pronounce it unnecessary; for, amongst those things which are not known to us, there may be reasons numerous and sufficient why an atonement should be made. As well may a child object to the necessity of some intricate scheme of national policy, because it cannot perceive such necessity, when the only reason of its not perceiving it is its want of capacity to understand the subject. Let it not be supposed, from these remarks, to be our opinion that the reasons for a vicarious satisfaction to the law and justice of God, are either not revealed or incapable of being understood. Far different is our conviction, as will appear in the sequel. But