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made subject to vanity, not willingly," "but in hope.” Now, we ask, is not this deliverance of man from moral evil, from sin and its consequences, an achievement devoutly to be wished? What philanthropist, what benevolent heart, that earnestly desires the present and eternal happiness of his fellow beings, but must as ardently wish to see each individual of the human race delivered from sin? I care not what his peculiar views, or creed, or principles, may be, he must wish to see sin the great scourge of humanity, destroyed. And so must every human being feel, with regard to himself. No good comes on the whole, of doing wrong. That is our great trouble when reviewing the past, so we feel it to be our great danger in the future. The greatest blessing we can possibly experience is to be delivered from it, because it is the greatest bar to our happiness here and hereafter. This we believe to be the precise object of the mission of Christ, of all that he did and taught and suffered.
“Thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins."
But our desires do not stop here. We desire not only deliverance from sin, but positive enjoyment. While we expect immortality we wish to possess happiness. This again is of two kinds, that which flows from outward causes, such as are under the immediate superintendence of Providence, and that which springs from doing and thinking and feeling right. For those sources of happiness which are
outward, we are dependent immediately on God, and must be so forever. But he has hitherto not been wanting to us, and therefore if we are faithful to him and to ourselves, we have no reason to suppose that he ever will be. What a world he has given us for our abode! How richly is it stored with every thing that can minister to our wants! In the progressive stages of our lives, what provision for our improvement and our enjoyment! In the relations of society, what scope for the expansion and gratification of the affections! He who has already done so much, can in future do any thing for us our happiness may require. He who has thus prepared this magnificent world for our abode, may, when we have passed through its probation, provide an abode still more rich and resplendent, such as eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor the imagination of man conceived.
There is as we before said, another fountain of happiness in ourselves, doing right. This depends upon our own choice. And it is equally rich in happiness with the outward world. You have all tasted it. You have felt the blessedness of doing your duty. You have felt the satisfaction of doing what is just, in opposition to what would promote your own selfish interests. You have felt the holy calm and peace of a conscience clear and at rest. You have felt the glow of pleasure with which every act of kindness and charity and generosity is forever after remembered. You have felt the delight of sympathy with all that is good and pure
throughout the universe. In short, in your better hours you have felt a sympathy with the holy benevolence of the blessed Jesus, who came to seek and to save that which was lost, and went about doing good. It is the design of his mission, of all that he did and all that he taught, to confer on you this happiness, all that satisfaction which springs from doing right, all that felicity which he enjoyed on earth and now enjoys in heaven, where he is reaping that reward which was set before him. He would accomplish this by making you like himself, by rendering you good and holy.
Now we ask if there be not something rational and intelligible in this view of salvation? Does it not enlist your best sympathies and feelings? Does it not seem an object worthy of the labours and sufferings of the great Messiah? Is it not freed from the common mystifications in which this plain and simple subject is involved by the technical phrases of metaphysical and theological language?
There is I know another view of salvation and the agency of Christ in bringing it about. We are aware that there are other views which make salvation an outward, coarse, material affair. Salvation by Christ, according to the Creeds and systems of divinity we have been examining, consists not in the moral and persuasive power he exercises over the mind, to reform, purify and strengthen it, to make it forever to enjoy the pleasure and happiness of righteousness, but to procure the pardon of sin for
a certain number. In the language of the Westminster Confession, “Christ, by his obedience and death, did fully discharge the debt of all those that are thus justified, and did make a proper, real and full satisfaction to his Father's justice in their behalf.” God justifies men, says this Confession, “not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and” “accepting their persons as righteous; not for any thing wrought in them or done by them, but for Christ's sake alone; not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing or any other evangelical obedience to them as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on him and his righteousness by faith; which faith they have not of themselves; it is the gift of God.” Does not such a system of salvation as this, outrage and disgust every reasonable principle of the human mind? Is it not the preaching of such doctrines as this, which has driven hosts of the very best minds and I fear I may add hearts too, into the ranks of infidelity, or made them listen coldly or superciliously to the Gospel as a tissue of paradoxes, riddles and contradictions, fit only to amuse and beguile the weakest understandings, but entirely removed alike from the regions of common life and of common sense?
Such a doctrine of salvation as this, we do not hesitate to aver, to be utterly inconsistent with the laws of mind, with the attributes of God, and the nature of man,
In the first place, it is said that Christ saves men by discharging their debt. Let us examine this matter a little, and see if it be possible in the nature of things. What analogy is there between sin and a debt? A debt is a sum of money, which another may pay and discharge. But is sin such a thing as to be separable from the sinner, and thus be transferable, and be discharged by another? It is a transaction between God and the soul of man, in which no third person can intermeddle. It is written not only in the book of God's retribution, but it is written in the soul of the sinner, and nothing but the tears of true penitence can wash it out, and when the conscience is cleansed, just so soon does God blot it out of the book of his remembrance, for so it is written, not once nor twice, but many times in the Bible. He that confesseth and forsaketh” his sins shall find mercy. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our siņs, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." The idea of our sins being discharged then like a debt by another, without our repentance, is an impossibility in the nature of things, and if we do repent they are instantly forgiven by God without the intervention of a third person. That third person therefore, in order to bring about the forgiveness of our sins, must bring us to repentance. And that is the very thing by which we maintain Christ is the Saviour of men, so far as he brings them to repentance for what they have already done amiss, and saves them from committing sin in future by forming them to virtue and holiness.