« AnteriorContinuar »
can do it consistently with his own perfections, and the general good.
3. The sufficiency of the atonement is our encouragenient, to set about the work of our salvation,
No one need despair, on account of any defect in Christ's satisfaction. The chief of sinners may come, and find ample provision. Christ hath given himself a ransom for all. He hath made such display of the excellence of the divine law, that this does not lie as an obstruction in the way to salvation. Whosoever will may come. The invitations of the gospel are free and large. A great and effectual door is opened. And it must be encouraging to guilty men, to know that the way is cleared, and they may be forgiven upon their repentance. The richness of the atonement is calculated to keep the trembling penitent from despondency. Who, in sincerity, ever sought, and was disappointed ?
We have reason to bless God for this consistent plan of showing mercy. In his unsearchable wisdom and goodness, he hath devised a method, in which he can be just, and yet the justifier of such as believe. None but God, who comprehends his own existence, and the iminense system of creation, could have seen how the atoning sufferings of Christ could have made such display of truth, as to render it consistent to exercise mercy towards the apostate creature. Glory to God, that on earth is peace and good will towards men. In the view of these things, let us give all diligence to make our calling and election sure.
Why the atoning sufferings of Christ were necessary in
the gospel. THE atoning sufferings of Christ, were necessary in the gospel scheme, for the same reason, as the eternal misery of the sinner was under the law; to make a display of God's moral character of his righteousness as king of the universe-of his sense of the turpitude of the sinners principles and practice—and also the nature of benevolence, in its high and infinite source, Godhead himself. If God had been governed by revenge or personal resentment against the sinner, there would have been no possibility of a gospel; and the transgressor must have borne the necessary misery himself. But as the divine motive, in this matter, was solely the public benefit; and as the sinner's misery was solely to answer a public and governmental end, God might accept as a substitute, whatever would answer the same purposes in government, and equally conduce to the blessedness of the universe. Whatever would make an equal display of the same truths, might be accepted in the stead of the sinner's eternal misery. The sufferings of Christ, who was both God and man, would in a limited time make this display in a higher degree than the eternal sufferings of the whole universe; and therefore his sufferings might be accepted by God in justice to his government, in the stead of so many sinners, as infinite wisdom saw it would be best to sanctify and forgive. By the suffering of Christ, all those truths which relate to the divine character, the support of his government, and the unchangeable obligation of the law, are seen in a brighter manner, than they could be by any suffering of the sinner under the law. It is thus that the gospel opens a greater view of God and the holy system, and prepares the way for higher happiness.
Imputation, Substitution, and Particular
BY ANDREW FULLER.
CONVERSATION THE FIRST.
PETER and James considered each other as good men, and had for several years been in the habit of corresponding on divine subjects. Their respect was mutual. Their sentiments, however, though alike in the main, were not exactly the same ; and some cir. cumstances had lately occurred, which tended rather to magnify the difference than to lessen it. Being both at the house of John, their common friend, they in his company fell into the following conversation.
I am not without painful apprehension said Peter to John, that the views of our friend James on some of the doctrines of the gospel, are unhappily diverted from the truth. I suspect he does not believe in the proper imputation of sin to Christ, or of Christ's righteousness to us; nor in his being our substitute, or representative.
John. Those are serious things; but what are the grounds, brother Peter, on which your suspicions rest?,
Peter. Partly what he has published, which I cannot reconcile with those doctrines; and partly what he has said in my hearing, which I consider as an avoval of what I have stated.
John. What say you to this, brother James ?
James. I cannot tell whether what I have written or spoken accords with brother Peter's ideas on these subjects: indeed I suspect it does not : but I never thought of calling either of the doctrines in question. Were I to relinguish the one or the other, I should be at a loss for ground on which to rest my salvation. What he says of my avowing my disbelief of them in his hearing must be a misunderstanding. I did say, I suspected that his views of imputation and substitution were unscriptural; but had no intention of disowning the doctrines themselves.
Peter. Brother James, I have no desire to assume any dominion over your faith ; but should be glad to know what are your ideas on these important subjects. Do you hold that sin was properly imputed to Christ, or that Christ's righteousness is properly imputed to
us, or not?
James. You are quite at liberty, brother Peter, to ask me any questions on these subjects; and if you will hear me patiently, I will answer you as explicitly as I
John. Do so, brother James; and we shall hear you not only patiently, but, I trust, with pleasure.
James. To impute,* signifies in general, to charge, reckon, or place to account, according to the different objects to which it is applied. This word, like many
others, has a proper, and an improper or figurative meaning
First: It is applied to the charging, reckoning, or placing to the account of persons and things, that which properly belongs to them. This I consider as its proper meaning. In this sense the word is used in the following passages. “ Eli thought she (Hannah) had been drunken-Hanan and Mattaniah, the treasurers, were counted faithful-Let a man so account of us as the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God-Let such an one think this, that such as we are in word by letters when we are absent, such will we be also in deed when we are present-I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us.? Reckoning or accounting, in the above instances, is no other than judging of persons and things according to what they are, or anpear to be. To impute sin in this sense is to charge guilt upon the guilty in a judicial way, or with a view to punishment. Thus Shimei besought David that his iniquity might not be imputed to him ; thus the man is pronounced blessed to whom the Lord.imputeth not iniquity : and thus Paul prayed that the sin of those who deserted him might not be laid to their charge.t
In this sense the term is ordinarily used in common life. To impute treason or any other crime to a man, is the same thing as charging him with having committed it, and with a view to his being punished.
Secondly : It is applied to the charging, reckoning, or placing to the account of persons and things, that
1 Sam. i. 13. Nek. xiii. 13. 1. Cor. iv. 1. 2 Cor. x. 11. Rom. viii. 18. # 2 Sam. xix. 19. Ps. xxxü. 2. 2 Tim. iv. 16.