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once discover, that erroneous notions have beet and still are entertained of it.
The general opinion, which we shall endeavour to disprove, supposes that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" from the demands of vindictive justice, which recognised the whole sinful family of man under the penalty of endless punishment, frequently called eternal death. This opinion of the penalty required by the divine law is expressed in the Catechism as follows ; “All mankind, by reason of the fall, lost communion with God, fell under his wrath and curse, was made liable to the miseries of this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell forever.” From the everlasting pains of hell, the same creed teaches us to believe, that Jesus Christ was appointed to save a part, and but a part of mankind. The way by which it is supposed that the Saviour undertook to save sinners from eternal punishment, was by suffering the penalty in room of the sinner ; so that justice being satisfied, pardon and everlasting salvation could be granted to the guilty without any infringement of strict justice. Dr. Watts expresses this scheme of salvation nearly as follows;
"I was a rebel doom'd to fire, Doom'd to endure eternal pains, He on the wings of swift desire, Assum'd my guilt and took my chains." Again; “He quench'd bis Father's flaming sword, In his own vital blood." But it is needless to take up time to be very particular in showing what this common sentiment is, for the most of us have been learning it from the beginning of childhood.
Some of the objections to this scheme of salvation are the following ; 1st. The total silence of the divine testimony respecting this supposed pen
alty of the divine law. In the divine threatening denounced in the garden there is nothing intimated concerning this penalty of “eternal death,” or the
pains of hell forever.” In the malediction on Cain for the murder of his brother, there is nothing on this hereafter eternal penalty. In all the law given by Moses, containing a minute description of most terrible curses, which in severity extend to the utmost capacity of man to suffor in this life, there is not a single suggestion relating to this penalty of eternal punishment in a future
state. • 2. The supposition of such a penalty seems dishonourable to the divine Being, because it could not have been enacted with any design to reclairn the sinner; and must, therefore, be entirely repugnant to the character of God as a Father of his creatures. A parent cannot, consistently with parental love, subject a child to any penalty for faults committed, which in room of being directed to reform, would inevitably prevent repentance and reformation forever. The word of God informs us, that he is love," and that he is “our Father in heaven.” Now if this be true, the opinion, that there ever was any vindictive wrath in God, which demanded the sinner's eternal banishment from our Father in heaven must be an egregious error, and one that very much obscures and dishonours the ever blessed Father of our spirits.
3. If mankind justly deserved this supposed pen• alty, on account of sins committed against the di
vine law, how could it possibly be just for one who was not a sinner to suffer it? To condemn the innocent and clear the guilty is strictly forbidden in the law.
4. The supposition, that this penalty did actually lie against the sinners which Jesus came to save, and that he, in the sinner's room and stead, did actually suffer this penalty, embraces the absurd supposition that Jesus suffered eternal misery in a few days.
3. Isaccording to the common opinion, the per. alty of the law subjected men“ to all the miseries of this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell forever,” if Jesus suffered the penalty for the elect why are the elect any more liable now in this state to the miseries of this life and to death itself, than to the pains of hell forever? Most surely, if Jesus bore the whole penalty of the law in room and stead of the sinner, then it certainly cannot be just for the sinner to bear one part of this penalty any more than another. But there are none who do not partake of the miseries of this life in some degree ; and there are none who are exempt from death.
Having shown that the common opinion respecting salvation is erroneous, having no scripture authority for its support and being contrary to all revealed justice, we may proceed to notice some direct evidence from scripture against it. But here we may be concise. In the law given by Moses, there is a continued thread of plain testimony, that as a nation the house of Israel would be punished accordingly as they should depart from the stat•utes and judgınents which the Lord commanded them : and accordingly we are informed in the sacred pages, that God punished them from time to time as their perverse and wicked conduct deserved. So likewise are we assured, that the divine Being punished other nations for their wickedness : such as Babylon, Nineveh, Tyre, Egypt &c. In relation to the crimes of individuals we well know that God instituted penalties according to the nature of offences, and gave special directions concerning their being duly inflicted. This is not only true in respect to the laws of Israel, but it is likewise true in respect to all nations. He that holds the sword is the minister of God. Now if all this, which is as plain as any thing in the scriptures, be granted, what room is there for the supposition that the penalty due to transgression is punishment in the future eternal world? Or what reason have we
to believe that Jesus suffered in room and stead of transgressors? This sume Jesus Christ of whom it is believed, that he suffered the penalty of our sins in our rooin, that we might not suffer it, plainly states, that he will “ reward every man according to his works.” It seems to be evident, from the foregoing considerations, that no such penalty of endless misery was ever connected with the divine law of heaven ; and equally evident, that Jesus did not come into the world to save sinners from any such penalty. No, nor did he come into the world to save the sinner from the punishment of his sins. - We have now come to the positive of our question, and we will proceed to show from the scriptures, what “ Jesus Christ came into the world to sa ve sinners” from.
First, and primarily, he came to save sinners from their sins. If the hearer be disposed to ask what the difference is between saving a sinnerfrom his sins, and saving him from the punishinent which his sins deserve, the following reply will show. To save a criminal from the punishment which the law holds against him would be a violation of the law, but to save him from his sin, would render hiin righteous. To save a disobedient child froin the chastisement due for his offence, would violate the wholesome law of the parent, and would have an unfavourable effect on the disobedient when reformation is the object of the chastisement. But to save the child from disobedience is the very thing the parental law requires and is all the salvation which it needs. Thus, as has been before noticed, the Angel said to Joseph; “Thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins.”
Secondly, we may notice some particulars, which, however, are all comprehended in saving the sinner from his sins. Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners from a state of ignorance which they were actually in, which ignorance was and ever is the cause of sin.
Of the forerunner of Jesus it was said; “ And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; to give knowledge of salvation unto bis people, by the remnission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the day-spring from on high hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Jesus said to the Jews ; “ If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples in deed ; and ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” In his prayer to the Father, Jesus says ; “ This is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou bast sent." It is most plainly seen by the light of these passages, that the Saviour's grace was designed to deliver sinners from mental darkness, and to give them the true knowledge of God's divine and grac ous character. This is a salvation which the ignorance of mankind rendered necessary. St. Paul, speaking on this subject to the Collossians says ;
66 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and bath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.” The power of darkness is the deception to which ignorance subjects us, from which the true knowledge of divine things deliverş the mind. God says by the prophet Jeremiah ; “And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, saying, know the Lord : for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, saith the Lord : for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember the sin, no more !" The words of St. Peter are pertinent to this subject : “ Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord.” And we may add, that the mission of the Apostles, to“ preach the gospel to every creature and to teach all nations,” implies the necessity of bringing all men to the knowledge of the truth.