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divinity of Christ as much as Socinianism, inasmuch as it makes a separation between the views and character of the Father and those of the Son.
There is another view of this doctrine, which, though less revolting to the feelings than that which I have just stated, is quite as inconsistent with reason, According to it, the atonement is a scheme by which God has mitigated the strict purity of his law; so that those who live under the gospel are merely required to yield an imperfect but sincere obedience, instead of that perfect obedience to which they were bound before they professed the faith of Christ. Now, let it be remembered, that the love of God with all the heart, constitutes the substance of the law which we are called on to obey; and let it also be remembered, that the sacrifice of Christ was made not only as a vindication of God's justice in proclaiming pardon to the guilty, but also for the purpose of presenting to the human heart, an object most worthy, and most admirably fitted to attract all its love; and then it will appear, that those who give this interpretation of the doctrine, do in fact maintain, that God dispenses with our giving him our full love, on condition that we are convinced that he deserves this full love at our hands. The whole end and scope of religion is lost sight of in this interpretation. Christ gave himself for us, to redeem us from all iniquity, and to purify to himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. A perfect conformity to the will of God, is not only perfect obedi
ence-it is also perfect happiness; and that gracious Father who calls on his creatures to be holy as he is holy, calls on them, by the very same exhortation, to be happy as he is happy. To dispense with our obedience, is not mercy to us; for it is in truth to dispense with our happiness. We are not received into the favour of God at all on the ground of our own deservings, but on the ground of his mercy manifested in the cross; and the belief of this mercy, by its natural operation, gradually subdues the heart to the love and the obedience of God. Perfect obedience, then, though it is required, and though it is indispensable to perfect happiness, is not the foundation of our hope for eternity: It is the object of our hope, not the foundation of it. We must be trained up to it by the faith of the gospel. It is never attained here in its blessed fulness; and therefore perfect happiness is never attained: But the seed of it may be attained, and may take root in the heart; and it has an eternity before it, to grow and flourish in. An imperfect but sincere obedience, will almost always mean, in the human judgment, that degree of obedience which it is convenient to pay ;—and this degree is paid by all men. The real glory of Christianity is thus extinguished, because the standard of moral duty is lowered. True humility can have no place in this system, because we limit our duty by our performance. And gratitude for undeserved mercy is excluded, except that base gratitude which thanks God for permitting us to be unholy. God's
mercy is a holy mercy: It pardons, but never sanctions imperfection.
This subject has been already illustrated by examples drawn from human life. I shall now therefore vary the view of it, by considering it in connexion with the rite of sacrifice.
The same truth with regard to the character of God and the condition of man, which is so fully developed in the New Testament, is exhibited also in the Old through an obscurer medium,—a medium of types and shadows and prophecy. When the Messiah was promised to our First Parents, the memory and the principle of the promise were embodied in the institution of sacrifice. Sensible objects were necessary, in order to recall to the thoughts, and to explain to the understanding of man, the spiritual declarations of God. Under the Jewish economy, this institution was enlarged and diversified; but still it pointed to the same fact and illustrated the same principle. The fact was, the death of Christ for the sins of the world; the principle was, that God is at once just and merciful, and that these attributes of his nature are in joint and harmonious operation. Multitudes, probably both of the Jews and of those who lived before the Mosaic system, recognized in their sacrifices that future salvation which was to be wrought out by the promised seed; but a far greater number must be supposed to have stopped short at the rite, through want of spiritual discernment. When the prefigured fact was thus forgotten, let us consider whether the moral principle exhibit
ed in the ceremony might not still in some measure be understood, and affect the character of the devout worshipper. The full vindication of God's holiness, and of the truth of his denunciations against sin, could indeed rest only on the sacrifice of the Divine Saviour; but although those who saw this great thing through the types which partially obscured whilst they represented it, could alone receive the full benefits of the institution, shall we think that those who did not enter into the spirit of prophecy, were entirely excluded from the operation of its principle, and saw nothing of the Divine character manifested in it? As the prosecution of this inquiry may tend to throw greater light on some views which have been already given, I shall here consider the subject of sacrifice apart altogether from its prophetic import. What is the meaning of a sacrifice? What is the purpose of killing a poor, animal, because a man has sinned? Can it be supposed that a wise and good God will in reality make a transference of the guilt of the man to the head of the beast ?-Impossible; and it is equally impossible to conceive that God should command his creatures to do a thing which they could not understand, and by which therefore their characters could not be benefited. The institution contained a great truth, exhibiting God's character, and affecting man's. The supplicant who came with his sacrifice before God, virtually said, "Thou hast appointed this rite as the form through which thy mercy is declared to sinners; and it is indeed
in thy mercy alone that I can hope, for I have deserved this death which I now inflict, as the just reward of my transgressions." Thus the mercy and the holiness of God were both kept in view by this rite; and gratitude and penitence would be impressed to a certain degree on the characters of those whose hearts accompanied their hands in the service. This is just an exhibition of the principle in natural religion that God is gracious, and worthy of our highest love; and that sin deserves punishment, and is connected with misery. Our gratitude, however, for forgiveness, would be just in proportion to our apprehensions of the demerit of sin and the danger connected with it, and also to our idea of the interest which God took in our welfare. The death of an animal was the only measure of the guilt and danger of sin, which these sacrifices exhibited ; and forgiveness, which seems an easy thing where there is nothing to fear from the power of the offender, was the only measure of the interest which God had taken in our welfare. Thus these sacrifices rather inculcated on the worshippers the danger and demerit of sin (and this in no very high degree,) than the goodness of God. The animal which was slain was the property of the supplicant; and he might feel the loss of it to be a species of atoning penalty, as well as a typical representation of the guilt of sin, which would very much diminish his idea both of God's free mercy and of the guilt of sin which could be so easily atoned. The sacrifice of a man would have