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come, and owed its validity and efficacy entirely to the analogy which it bore to the true sacrifice, is placed beyond all reasonable controversy. All that is cóntended for is, that the reference which it bore was not understood during the subsistence of that economy; that it is not to be considered as an interpretation of the doctrine of the atonement, so much as a sort of temporary substitute for that discovery; and that it was a system of cyphers, or symbols, the true interpretation of which was reserved to a future period. It is no more essential to the existence of a type, that its import be understood before it is verified, than it is essential to prophecy that its just interpretation be comprehended before it is fulfilled. If we consider the benefit derived to the ancient church, from prophecy in its strictest sense, we shall find it consisted not in making men prophets, or enabling them to foretell future events, but rather in maintaining high and consolatory views of the providence and the attributes of God, accompanied with a firm but humble assurance of his gracious interposition in their concerns.
A general expectation of the Messiah's advent, as of some glorious and divine personage, who would bestow the highest spiritual and temporal felicity, without descending to details, or foreseeing the precise method by which his interposition was to become effectual, appears to have nearly bounded the views of such as "waited for the consolation of Israel." Thus vague and general, at least, were the expectations of the faithful at the time of his appearance; to suppose they were ever materially different, is a gratuitous supposition, totally devoid of proof.
In discussing this point, it is expedient to distinguish betwixt the fact and the doctrine of the atonement. The aspect of the atonement of Christ, considered as a transaction, is towards God; considered as a doctrine, towards man. Viewed in the former light, its operation is essential, unchangeable, eternal; "He was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." Considered in the latter, its operation is moral, and therefore subject to all the varieties incident to human nature. The cross, considered as the meritorious basis of acceptance, the only real satisfaction for sin, is the centre around which all the purposes of mercy to fallen man have continued to revolve; fixed and determined in the council of God, it operated as the grand consideration in the Divine Mind, on which salvation was awarded to penitent believers in the earliest ages, as it will continue to operate in the same manner to the latest boundaries of time. Hence it is manifest that this great transaction could admit of no substitute. But that discovery of it, which constitutes the doctrine of the atonement, though highly important, is not of equal necessity. Its moral impression, its beneficial effects on the mind, were capable of being
secured by the institution of sacrifice, though in an inferior dewhile the offender, by confessing his sins over the head of the victim, which he afterwards slew, distinctly recognized his guilt, his just exposure to destruction, and his exclusive reliance on divine mercy.
By such elements of penitential sorrow and humble submission, accompanied with a general expectation of a Messiah, devout worshippers were prepared for the reception of the sublimer mysteries of the gospel; and thus "the law became a schoolmaster to lead them to Christ."
When St. Paul asserts that the same law was a shadow of "good things to come, and not the very image of those things," he clearly intimates an essential difference between the two economies, and that the Mosaic did not afford that acquaintance with the method of pardon and reconcilement, which constitutes the distinguishing glory of the gospel. But if the Levitical sacrifices instructed the pious Jew in the doctrine of vicarious atonement as it is now exhibited, they were already possessed of the substance, and the law could with no propriety be styled a schoolmaster intended to lead them to Christ, who had already arrived thither.
The passage to which we have already adverted, which affirms that the way into the Holiest of all was not made manifest during the continuance of the first tabernacle, merits attentive consideration. From this and other similar passages, many of the Fathers were led to infer that the souls of departed saints were not immediately received at death into the beatific vision, but waited for their future crowns till the general resurrection, while some of them were permitted to accompany our Saviour at his ascension, as trophies of his victory over the last enemy. As this is a notion which, it is probable, few at present will be disposed to embrace, so it was the necessary result of interpreting the words in too absolute a sense, and of transferring to the objects themselves, what may with more propriety be referred to the conception entertained of those objects. Chrysostom paraphrases the text by remarking that the way into the Holiest, or into Heaven, was (aßaros) inaccessible; St. Paul merely affirms that it was not made manifest. Distinct from these two interpretations it seems impossible to find a third; the words must either intend that the way itself was not opened, or that the knowledge of it was not communicated, which is equivalent to asserting that the doctrine of the vicarious sacrifice of Christ was reserved to be developed in a future day.
If the justice of these observations be admitted, the situation of Jewish believers will appear indeed to have been far removed from that of Christians; and the gospel dispensation will derive a
prodigious accession of splendor from the comparison. It will be seen that they were "shut up," to use the language of inspiration, unto the faith to be revealed; that their state was comparatively gloomy, though not hopeless; and that they were upheld by general assurances of divine mercy, confirmed by the acceptance of their offerings; while they possessed no clear and distinct conception of the way in which it would be displayed, or by what expedient its exercise could be rendered consistent with the immutable holiness and justice of the divine nature.
Ibant obscuri sola sub nocte per umbras.
Led by a way that they knew not, the obscurity with which they were surrounded must often have dismayed them; while the perturbations of conscience, on every recurrence of guilt, would clothe the last enemy with new terrors, and deepen the shades which invest the sepulchre. Hence arose that language of despondency uttered by Hezekiah, David, and others in the prospect of dissolution, together with the gloomy pictures which they frequently draw of the regions beyond the grave, natural to such as were "all their life, through fear of death, subject to bondage." Exposed to danger from which they knew no definite mode of escape, and placed on the confines of an eternity, feebly and faintly illuminated, they had no other resource besides an implicit confidence in mysterious mercy.
But notwithstanding the extreme imperfection of their views, inasmuch as they cordially embraced the promises of God in the proportion in which they were then propounded, and cherished the expectation of a great Deliverer in the person of the Messiah, they possessed the spirit of faith. Genuine faith, considered as a principle, is characterized not so much by the particular truths which it embraces, as by its origin, its nature, and its effects. When St. Paul describes the faith by which the elders obtained a good report, he refers not to the mysteries of the gospel, but specifies the persuasion that the worlds were made, or created, by the word of God, in opposition to the opinion that they were formed out of pre-existent matter, which universally prevailed in pagan philosophy; he also enumerates among its legitimate objects the belief that God is, and that he is the rewarder of such as diligently seek him ;" and whoever examines with attention the various examples which he adduces of the operation of that principle, must be convinced that the idea of a vicarious propitiation is not absolutely essential to its nature, however necessary to salvation it has become, in consequence of the clear revelation of that doctrine.
Here then in all probability, consists the peculiar glory of the gospel, in contradistinction from the economy of Moses, that it de
ciphers the figures of the law, accomplishes and absorbs every purpose of its sacrifices, and dispels the obscurity which concealed eternal realities, by placing in a refulgent light that great mystery, hid from ages and generations, "by which God can be just, and yet the justifier of him who believeth in Jesus." Thus the rigor and reserve which under the ancient economy generated a spirit of bondage, is exchanged for the glorious liberty of the sons of God. But it is time to return from this digression, which, though not totally irrelevant to the subject, has diverted the author's attention longer than he intended from the writer of the Plea.
III. In my former treatise the omission of the name of Christ in the baptism of John was urged in proof of its being distinct from the Christian ordinance; on the contrary, in the total absence of scriptural evidence, my opponent contends that he not only baptized in the name of Jesus, but also in that of the Holy Trinity. Supposing such to have been the fact, upon what principle can we account for the silence of the sacred writer, on so important a particular? for that it was important, and would have contributed more to elucidate the nature and extent of his mission than all the circumstances combined, which they have thought fit to record, will scarcely be denied. What similar example occurs in the whole series of Scripture history, of a minute and detailed account of a religious ceremony, in which the mention of its most essential feature is suppressed? or who will believe that while the minutest particulars respecting John were deemed worthy of being recorded, one so remarkable and unprecedented as that of his baptizing in the name of the Trinity was too trivial to be mentioned? a circumstance of much greater moment, surely, than his subsisting on locusts, or his being clothed with a girdle. But beside the silence of Scripture, which might of itself be deemed sufficiently decisive, the inconsistency of such a proceeding, with the known reserve our Lord uniformly maintained respecting his Messiahship, and his repeated charges to his disciples not to publish that fact, demonstrate the extreme improbability of his suffering himself to become the avowed object of a religious rite. The employment of his name for such a purpose, it is obvious, was equivalent to a public declaration of his being the Messiah, and must have defeated his known intention. In the publication On Terms of Communion, this argument was repeatedly insisted on, and pursued to such an extent of illustration that we should have supposed it impossible it could either be misunderstood or misrepresented. What is the reply of the author of the Plea to this argument? One of the most extraordinary in the annals of controversy. It is neither more nor less than this, that "though our Lord
frequently enjoined secrecy as to the dignity of his divine character, and the immediate object of his mission, there is not a single instance in which he manifested any delicacy as to his name. He afterwards proceeds to tell us, with great gravity, that his name Jesus was as well known as that of Peter or John; and that he was addressed under that name equally by friends, enemies, and strangers. My reluctance to inflame this controversy with the language of exacerbation reduces me, on this occasion, to a perplexity how to express myself. Is it possible, let me ask, he could so far mistake the scope and bearing of the reasoning as to confound the use of the term Jesus, as the proper name, by which he was addressed in the ordinary intercourse of life, with the employment of it with that of the Father and the Holy Ghost, in a holy sacrament? Or will he contend that to call a person by the name of Jesus, or by any other appellation whatever, is precisely the same thing as to baptize in his name? He who is capable of confounding things so essentially distinct, is beyond the reach of reasoning; and if he did not confound them, but wished to put the charge upon his readers, from a despair of being able to answer the argument, he has evinced a want of candor and good faith that merits the severest animadversion. Had his publication been a tissue of nonsense and stupidity throughout, we should have been strongly inclined to the former supposition; but when we reflect on the shrewdness which it occasionally displays, joined to his care not to glance in the slightest manner to the true hinge of the controversy, it is difficult not to suspect the latter. It may be questioned whether another person could have been found, acquainted with the English language, but would have instantly perceived that it was not the author's intention to insinuate a reluctance in our Lord to divulge his name, but the fact of his being the Messiah; and that it was the inseparable connection of that fact, with the practice of baptizing in his name, which was the ground of my objection. As he has not made the slightest attempt to solve the difficulty, it would be trifling with the patience of the reader to attempt to reinforce it.
IV. The different effects which accompanied baptism, when performed by the Apostles, and by John, were urged as a decisive proof that the two baptisms were essentially distinct, and characteristic of separate economies. To such a distinction our attention is invited by the Forerunner, who affirmed himself to baptize in water only, but that he that came after him should baptize in the Holy Ghost, and in fire. To this the author of the Plea replies, by remarking, "that the argument proceeds on incorrect
* Plea for Primitive Communion, p. 27.