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I HAVE said above, that the atonement is to be regarded as that by which God has bridged over the gulf which separated between what sin had made us, and what it was the desire of the divine love that we should become. Therefore its character must have been determined as much by the latter consideration as by the former; and, on this ground, I have complained of the extent to which the former consideration, rather than the latter, has been taken into account in men's recognition of a need be for an atonement.

Yet an atonement such as they contemplate, and consisting in substituted punishment, might allowably be so regarded, being like the paying of a pecuniary debt, at least as to the definite relation of the payment to the debt, the latter determining the former without direct reference to the ulterior results involved in the debt's being paid. But such an atonement as that which the Son of God has actually made, cannot be contemplated but as in its very nature pointing forward to the divine end in view.

Accordingly, I have not been able now to enter freely upon the subject of that intercession for transgressors, which the prophet mentions as an element in the atonement, because that intercession cannot be conceived of as limited to the remission of past sins, but must necessarily have had reference to what Christ, in His love to us, loving us as He did Himself, desired for us. So also the confession of our sin, in response to the divine condemnation of it, must, when offered to God on our behalf, have contemplated prospectively 151 our own participation in that confession as an element in our actual redemption from sin. And even the witnessing of Christ for the Father in the sight of men, as connected with the righteousness of God in the extension of the divine mercy to us rebels, must have had its place in the atonement, not merely as a light condemning our darkness, but as the intended light of life for us.

All views of the work of Christ, of course, imply that its ultimate reference was prospective. Whether conceived of as securing, in virtue of a covenanted arrangement the salvation of an election from among men, or as furnishing, in reference to all men, a ground on which God may extend mercy to them, the work of Christ has equally been regarded as what would not have been but with a prospective reference. But on neither of these views is the justification of God's acceptance of the propitiation itself, bound up with the question of the results contemplated. On the one view, the penal infliction is complete in itself as a substituted punishment; the righteousness wrought out is complete in itself as conferring a title to eternal blessedness, irrespective of results to be accomplished in those in the covenant of grace. On the other view, a meritorious ground on which to rest justification by faith is furnished, which is complete in itself, irrespective of any effect which is anticipated from the faith of it. But, what I have now been representing as the true view of the atonement, is characterised by this, that it takes the results contemplated into account in considering God's acceptance of the atonement. Not that the moral and spiritual excellence of the work of Christ, could have been less than infinitely acceptable to God, viewed simply in itself;--but that its acceptableness in connexion with the remission of sins, is only to be truly 152 and fully seen in its relation to the result which it has contemplated, viz. our participation in eternal life;--or, in other words, that the justification of God in "redeeming," as He has done, "us who were under the law," is only clearly apprehended in the light of the divine purpose, "that we should receive the adoption of sons."

This direct reference to the end contemplated, which distinguishes the view of the atonement now taken, as compared with those other systems in which that reference is more remote, I lay much weight upon. It explains, as they cannot otherwise be explained, those expressions in Scripture in which the practical end of the atonement is connected so immediately with the making of the atonement,--as when it is said, that "Christ gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity,"--that ''we are redeemed from the vain conversation received by tradition from our Fathers, by the precious blood of Christ,"--that "Christ suffered for us, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God." Men have been reconciled by the seeming necessity of the case to the idea that such language is employed, because these are the ultimate and remote consequences of that shedding of Christ's blood, which, it is held, immediately contemplated delivering us from the punishment of sin by His enduring it for us. But I regard as a great scriptural argument in favour of the view now taken of the atonement, that it represents the connexion between these results and Christ's suffering for our sins as not remote, but immediate. While, as to the internal commendation of the doctrine itself, my conviction is, that the pardon of sin is seen in its true harmony with the glory of God, only when the work of Christ, through which we have "the remission of sins that are past," is contemplated in its direct relation to "the gift of eternal life."


The elements of atonement, which have now been considered in relation to the remission of sins, contemplated in their relation to the gift of eternal life, teach us how to conceive of that gift. The atonement having been accomplished by the natural working of the life of love in Christ, and having been the result of His doing the Father's will, and declaring the Father's name in humanity, we are prepared, as to the prospective aspect of the atonement, to find that the perfect righteousness of the Son of God in humanity is itself the gift of God to us in Christ--to be ours as Christ is ours,--to be partaken in as He is partaken in,--to be our life as He is our life, instead of its being, as has been held, ours by imputation;--precious to us and our salvation, not in respect of what is inherent in it, but in respect of that to which it confers a legal title; or, according to the modification of this conception,--the transference of righteousness by imputation being rejected,--our salvation in respect of effects of righteousness transferred for Christ's sake to those who believe in Him.

Abstractly considered, and viewed simply in itself, the divine righteousness that is in Christ must be recognised as a higher gift than any benefit it can be supposed to purchase. In the immediate contemplation of the life of Christ, seen as that on which the Father is fixing our attention when He says of Christ, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased," it cannot be questioned, that the choice being offered, on the one hand, to partake in this divine righteousness, or, on the other, either to have it imputed to us, and on account of such imputation, to have a title to any supposed rewards of righteousness, or, to have these rewards without such imputation transferred to us, there could be no hesitation what choice to make. Apart altogether from the difficulties involved in the 154 conception of the imputation of righteousness, or the transference of its effects, it would manifestly be a dishonour done to the divine righteousness, to prefer to it any good of any kind external to it, and not inherent in itself, but separable from it, which might be conceived of as its reward.

I may be reminded, that the reward of righteousness, thus placed in contrast with the divine righteousness itself, and assumed to be a lower thing, includes spiritual benefits, includes sanctification, and that this in effect is a participation in the mind and life of Christ, and might be spoken of as substantially righteousness imparted,--the purchase of righteousness imputed, or, according to the modification of the doctrine, a part of God's gracious dealing with us on the ground of Christ's righteousness; and, however this is a complication altogether foreign to the simplicity that is in Christ, I thankfully recognise the degree to which the elements of righteousness,--all that God delights in,--holiness, truth, love, may be the objects of spiritual desire, and be welcomed as a part of the unsearchable riches of Christ, even in connexion with this system, and when not seen simply as the elements of the eternal life given to us in Christ our life, and in respect of which He is "made of God unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption."

But, a righteousness imparted as that to which a right has been conferred by a righteousness imputed;--divine favour and acceptance first resting upon us, irrespective of our true spiritual state, and then a spiritual state in harmony with that favour, bestowed as an expression of that favour;--a right and title to heaven made sure, irrespective of a meetness for heaven, and then that meetness--the holiness necessary to the enjoyment of heaven--bestowed upon us as a part of 155 what we have thus become entitled to,--this is a complication which the testimony of God, that God has given to us eternal life, and that this life is in His Son, never could suggest. Its natural effect is to turn the mind away, in the first instance at all events, from the direct contemplation of eternal life as the salvation given in Christ. The elements of that life may come to be taken into account afterwards; but the evil effect of the first separation between the favour of God and the actual condition of the human spirit in its aspect towards God, never can be altogether remedied,--while this root error will always tend to develope itself in reducing the meaning of the words, "eternal life," to the conception of an unproved future endless blessedness that awaits us as those who trust in Christ's merits, not a spiritual state into which we enter in receiving the knowledge of God in Christ. Thus confusion and perplexity are introduced into the whole subject of righteousness and eternal life, when, this life being admitted to be given, righteousness is not recognised as simply an element in that gift, or rather an aspect of it.

In tracing, in their prospective relation to the gift of eternal life, the elements of atonement now considered in relation to the remission of sins, we shall find the simplicity that is in Christ delivering us from all this perplexity, and confusing complication; while the immediate and direct occupation of our spirits with eternal life itself as salvation, will favour our intelligent apprehension of that gift, and strengthen us in the faith that God has given it, and also in the faith of the remission of our sins as seen in connexion with it,--the glory of God in the gift of eternal life in His Son, shedding back its light on the Father's acceptance of the Son when He made His soul an offering for sin.


I would recall here the illustration which I have offered above, of the conception which I have sought to convey of the atoning virtue of Christ's expiatory confession of man's sin, viz. the supposition that all the sin of man had been committed by one human spirit, and that that spirit, preserving its personal identity, and retaining the memory of what it had been, should become perfectly righteous. Had such a case been possible, how would the righteous God deal with such a spirit? In the language of Luther, sin and righteousness being thus met in one person, which would prevail? Would the absolute repentance and sorrow for the past sin, which is necessarily implied in the present righteousness, be an atonement for that past sin, and leave the righteous God free to receive that present righteousness with the favour due to it, or would justice still call for vengeance? This would be a perplexing dilemma, on the assumption of the correctness of the theory of divine justice that represents that attribute of God as a necessity of the divine nature which necessitates the giving to every spirit that which is righteously due to it,--which, in this case, would imply the necessity both to punish the past sin and reward the present righteousness, and this forever--an impossible combination. The great advocate of that theory has, however, as we have been, recognised a principle which would extricate him from this dilemma, when he recognises as alternatives an infinite punishment, or an adequate repentance; and he therefore would have consented to the answer assumed above to be clearly the right answer in the case supposed.

I go back on this illustration, because, while stating it formerly, I felt embarrassed, so far as the supposition was one of present righteousness as well as of past sin. In order to the completeness of the parallel between 157 the hypothetical case and the constitution of things in Christ which the Gospel reveals, Christ's confession of our sin must be seen in connexion with our relation to the righteousness of Christ, and the sin confessed, and the righteousness in which it is confessed, be seen as if they were in the same person--being both in humanity; though the sin really exists only in humanity as in us, and used in rebellion by us rebels, and the righteousness only in humanity as in Christ, "who through the Eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God." But the glory of God in this constitution of things, is only seen when the gift of eternal life to man, in the Son of God, is understood;--and this gift we had not then before our minds.

I admitted, in representing Christ's confession of our sin as accounted of to us, that I might, on a superficial view, seem to be stating what was open to the same objections that I have recognised as valid against the doctrine of penal infliction endured by Christ as bearing our sin by imputation; and I offered, in reply, the broad distinction between a state of mind in Christ which implied no legal fiction, no relation to our sins but what was necessarily the result of His being in our nature in the life of love,--a mind which, call it an atoning confession of our sin, or riot, was most certainly a confession of our sins which must have been present in His intercession for us,--the broad distinction between this and the infliction on Christ, by the Father, of penal suffering, because, by imputation. He was accounted guilty of our sins. This distinction, if clearly before the mind, is too palpable not to satisfy. But, still, that identifying of Christ with us, and that giving to us, so to speak, the benefit of what He was in humanity, which is implied in representing His confession of our sins as an element in the atonement, is not, as I have 158 now said, folly justified to the mind, apart from that further identifying of Christ with us through which His righteousness is ours.

Yet, thus to speak of Christ's righteousness, will as readily recall the doctrine of imputation of righteousness, as the place given to Christ's confession of our sins might that of imputation of sin. How wide apart the two conceptions are, and what the true vindication of the divine counsel in this dealing of the Father with Christ, as with the one man who bears the weight of all men's sins upon His spirit, atoning for them by confessing them before the Father in a divine righteousness in humanity, which the Father receives on behalf of all men as the righteousness of humanity; this we shall understand in the light of the relation of the atonement to the gift of eternal life.

When we consider humanity in the light shed upon it by the life of Christ in humanity, we see together revealed to us the great evil of its condition as possessed by us sinners, and its great capacity of good as that capacity is brought out by the Son of God. Now, this is not the same thing with seeing the same person first sinful and then righteous; nor is the problem which it presents the same exactly, as in that hypothetical case:--but, still, what we are thus contemplating involves a closely analogous question for the determination of the righteous Lord who loveth righteousness. As the dishonour done to God in humanity cries out against it, so does the honour done to God plead in its favour,--not in the way, certainly, of an off-set in respect of which the honour may cover over, gild over, the dishonour,--and so humanity be regarded with acceptance as one whole; not thus,--although the honour be divine as well as human, while the dishonour is simply human,--but not thus, but as the revelation 159 of an inestimable preciousness that was hidden in humanity, hidden from the inheritors of humanity themselves, but not hid from God, and now brought forth into manifestation by the Son of God. For the revealer of the Father is also the revealer of man, who was made in God's image.

This high capacity of good pertaining to humanity, is not indeed to be contemplated as belonging to us apart from our relation to the Son of God. For though in one sense it is quite correct to speak of the righteousness of Christ as the revelation of the capacity of righteousness that was in humanity, a capacity that remained to man although hidden under sin;--in truth, humanity had this capacity only relatively, that is, as dwelt in by the Son of God,--and therefore, there was in the righteousness of Christ in humanity no promise for humanity apart from the Son of God's having power over all flesh to impart eternal life. We cannot, therefore, see hope for man in the righteousness of Christ, apart from the contemplation of this power as possessed by Christ. Therefore, there must be a relation between the Son of God and the sons of men, not according to the flesh only, but also according to the spirit,--the second Adam must be a quickening spirit, and the head of every man be Christ. But if we see this double relation as subsisting between Christ and men, if we see Him as the Lord of their spirits, as well as a partaker in their flesh,--that air of legal fiction, which, in contemplating the atonement, attaches to our identification with Christ and Christ's identification with us, so long as this is contemplated as matter of external arrangement, will pass away, and the depth and reality of the bonds which connect the Saviour and the saved will bear the weight of this identification, and fully justify to the enlightened 160 conscience that constitution of things in which Christ's confession of our sins expiates them, and Christ's righteousness in humanity clothes us with its own interest in the sight of God: for thus, that divine righteousness of the Son of God is seen as necessarily shedding on the mind of the Father its own glory and its own preciousness over all humanity,--but in a way as remote from the imputation of righteousness as is Christ's bearing our sins, as this has now been illustrated, and confessing them, is from imputation to Him of our sins.

And this, indeed, is infinitely far; and yet, some vague feeling, corresponding to this truth of things,--some vague feeling of the standing which the human spirit needs to find in another than itself--not having it in itself--and which God has given to men in Christ, has been present, working in men's minds, and commending to them the system of imputation with all its moral repulsiveness and intellectual contradiction;--insomuch that one truly knowing his own dependance on Christ, feels more sympathy and unity with those who in the spirit cherish that dependance,--though conceiving of it intellectually in the erroneous form which it has in the system of imputation,--than with those whose sense of the moral and intellectual objectionableness of that system, is connected with the taking of a standing of independent self-righteousness before God. For, as to all whose trust is truly in Christ, and in the Father's delight in Him, spiritually apprehended, I am assured that, however I may seem to them--as to many such I shall seem,--touching the apple of their eye,--I am not touching that which is their life.

I proceed to consider, in relation to the gift of eternal life, the two aspects in which we are contemplating the life of love in the Son of God, in His making His soul an offering for sin.


I. The atonement by which Phinehas stayed the plague, prepared us for recognising the vindication of the divine righteousness in the Son's honouring the Father in the sight of man as a necessary step in the manifestation of mercy, and we see a true element of propitiation for the sin of man in Christ's glorifying God in humanity. Yet, in studying the manner of Christ's witnessing for the Father, we have the conviction continually impressed upon us, that this revealing of the Father by the presentation to us of the life of sonship has as its object our participation in that life of sonship, and so our participation in that knowledge and enjoyment of the Father, and that inheriting of the Father as the Father, which fellowship in the life of sonship can alone bring.

Let us mark how immediate was the relation of this hope for man to what Christ was suffering in making His soul an offering for sin. He knew that that life of love which was then in Him a light condemning the darkness from which He was suffering, was yet to overcome that darkness and take its place. His own consciousness in humanity witnessed within Him that humanity was capable of being filled with the life of love. The more perfectly He realised that these were His brethren whose hatred was coming forth against Him, the more did He realise also that hatred was not of the essence of their being,--that there was hope in giving Himself for them to redeem them from iniquity,--that there was hope in suffering for them the just for the unjust--hope that He would bring them to God. How manifestly has the joy of this hope underlain all His sorrow! It was, indeed, the joy that was set before Him, for which He endured the cross, despising the shame. He bore the contradiction of sinners against Himself, not only in the meekness and patience 162 of love, and the unselfishness of love, which was more deeply grieved that they should offend, than that itself was offended against; but also, in the prophetic faith of love that looked forward to yet becoming itself the life of those who now rejected it. There is hope for the future, as well as deep sadness because of the present, in the words, "O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee, but I have known thee." If the world could continue to be the world after coming to know the Father, there would have been no hope for the world. But, in the consciousness of being in a light in which the world was not was there hope to His heart for the world,--therefore did He pray on the cross, and when the enmity had manifested itself to the utmost, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."

I know we more frequently refer to these words, as the precious record of the perfection of that forgiveness of his enemies, which was in Him, who, by His life and death, as by His precepts, has taught us to forgive our enemies, to love them, to pray for them,--and in this view the record is precious. But, there is important light in the footing on which He puts His prayer for forgiveness to them, viz., "for they know not what they do." Had the full power of light been expended on them, and without result, there would have been no room to pray for them, because there would have been no possibility of answering the prayer. But, let us thankfully hear Him who knew what is in man, thus praying; and let us mark how to the close He was sustained in making His soul an offering for sin, by the consciousness in His own humanity of a knowledge of the Father which, being partaken in, had power to redeem humanity. "I have declared thy name, and will declare it, that the love wherewith thou 163 hast loved me, may be in them, and I in them." I do not forget the words, "now they have no cloak for their sin,"--"now they have seen and hated both me and my Father." But, however great the measure of light thus recognised as received and abused, and bringing condemnation, the possibility of a light beyond it is clearly implied in the words which I have been quoting. These evil men were of the world, of which He says to the Father, that it hath not known Him. They were included in the prayer, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." And so the apostle John teaches, "He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.--He that hateth his brother, is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes." This our Lord knew, and He knew also, that He had come a light into the world, that he that should believe in Him should not abide in darkness, but should have the light of eternal life. The sad, sorrowful work of being a light condemning the darkness, was therefore cheered by the consciousness of not only being light in Himself, but, "the light of the world," that is, a light for men, a light which His own human consciousness ever testified to be a light for men.

Therefore was the consciousness of having glorified the Father on the earth, the foundation of the prayer, that the Father would glorify Him in the exercise of the power over all flesh to give eternal life to as many as the Father should give to Him,--to all who, having heard and been taught of the Father, should come to the Son; and we know that while walking in His sorrowful path, with the hope of being the channel of eternal life to those for whose sins He was making atonement, the comfort was granted to Him of being


able to say of some, that the light that was in Him had in some measure been received by them; that in a true sense, however small the measure, they "were not of the world, even as He was not of the world;" that His revealing of the Father by being in their sight the Son honouring the Father, had not been in vain; that, at least, it had quickened so much life in them as in Philip could say, "Shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us;" that in truth, though they so little understood what His living ministry of love had accomplished in their spirits as not to understand Him when He bare testimony to it, still, a great result had been accomplished, for that He could say, "Whither I go ye know, and the way ye know," though they themselves were so little aware of this as to rejoin, ''Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?"

Thus, a measure of present comfort of the nature of the joy set before Him, was granted to our Lord even in the time of His making His soul an offering for sin. Thus are we to conceive of Him as contented to be through suffering made perfect as the Captain of our salvation,--welcoming all which He was receiving fitness to be to us the channel of eternal life. " For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth." For, He welcomed that ordering of His path by the Father, which had reference to the development of the life of love that was in Him, according to all the need of man; not withholding His face from shame and spitting, when opening His ear as the learner, that in Him we might have all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge; though a Son, yet learning obedience by the things which He suffered, that being made perfect. He might become the author of eternal salvation unto all that obey Him; submitting to be tempted in all points as we are 165 tempted, that, sinlessly passing through such trial, He might be able, as our high priest, to succour us when we are tempted. In all ways of manifestation of the life of sonship, and at all cost to Himself, He declared the Father's name in life and in death, that the love wherewith the Father had loved Him might be in us and He in us.

It is certain that the atonement has its right interest to us, and quickens in us the hope which it has been intended to quicken, only when that interest and that hope are one as to nature and foundation with what were present in the mind of Christ in making the atonement. We must be in the light of His honouring of His Father's name in all that He presented in humanity to the faith and spiritual vision of men. And this honouring was not only universal as to the outward form of his life, but went to the depth of the inner man of the heart, to the full extent of making His life in humanity a "serving of the living God." "I do nothing of myself: as I hear, I judge,"--"My works are not mine, but His that sent me,"--"The Father who dwelleth in me. He doeth the works."--"My Father worketh hitherto, and I work,"--"The Son doeth nothing of Himself; but whatsoever the Father doeth, the same doeth the Son likewise,"--"Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is God." So deep was the honouring of the Father in humanity by the Son,, when "through the Eternal Spirit He offered Himself without spot to God."

Nor is it by what He presented in Himself as under His Father's guidance alone, that the Son of God reveals to us the Father. He vindicates the name of the Father, and condemns our sin as rebellious children, by all that we see the Father to be to Him through His following God as a dear child walking in love. I have, 166 in this view, noticed above the place which our Lord's "peace'' and "joy," of which He speaks to the disciples as known to them, had in His witnessing for the Father: for, indeed, the Son would have been an imperfect witness for the Father if He was not, by those who saw Him truly, seen to have peace and joy in the Father,--a peace and a joy to which often an unclouded expression would be permitted,--but which would abide in His spirit, however His sorrows from all else might abound; and in respect of which all such sorrows, though they might be what would justify the appeal, "Look, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow," would be but the trial of faith, and the more abundant manifestation of what the Father was to the Son. Now, as to all by which the Son thus honoured the Father, we are to see that it all entered into His hope for us in His making His soul an offering for sin, because it was in humanity that He was having all this experience.

I have said above that we are to understand that He who is the revealer of God to man is also the revealer of man to Himself. Apart from Christ we know not our God, and apart from Christ we know not ourselves: as, indeed, it is also true, that we are as slow to apprehend and to welcome the one revelation as the other,--as slow to see man in Christ, as to see God in Christ. We have seen how much loss even earnest, and deep thinking, and holy men have suffered through not looking upon the life of love in Christ as the revelation of the Father;--how it has thus come to pass that, looking upon Christ's love to men merely as the fulfilment for man of the law under which man was, they have dwelt on that fulfilment, and enlarged on the circumstances which prove how perfect it was, and yet have not read the heart of God--the love of God to all 167 men, in that record of the life of Christ which they were studying. And so also, these same men, through the assumption that in the life of Christ they were contemplating the working out of a legal righteousness for man, to be his by imputation, as they were turned away from seeing God in Christ, so have also been turned away from seeing man in Christ, seeing themselves in Christ, seeing the capacities of their own being in Christ. Not for His own sake but for our sakes did the Son of God reveal the hidden capacity of good that is in man by putting forth in humanity the power of the law of the Spirit of His own life--the life of sonship. "For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and as a sacrifice for sin, condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit." We, then, for whose sake this has been, must learn to see in this revelation of what humanity is when pervaded with the life of sonship, that redemption of which we were capable, and which we have in Christ, and set ourselves to the study of the twofold discovery of God and of man in Christ, with the conviction that in it are hid for us all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

I have said above that the Son alone could reveal the Father--for, indeed, manifested sonship can alone reveal fatherliness, being that in which the desire of that fatherliness is fulfilled,--which therefore reveals that desire by fulfilling it. Thus are we to understand the voice of the Father saying of the Son, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased"--which voice, when heard in our hearts, is that drawing of the Father through which we come to the Son. And in this light are we to receive the words, "hear ye Him," which 168 declare the purpose of that drawing. For we are called to hear the Son that we may know the Father through knowing the Son in whom He is well pleased, and so may know what is the Father's desire as to ourselves, and what He has given to us in the Son, that that desire of His heart for us may be fulfilled in us. Let the reader examine his own heart as to the measure in which this is the ground of the interest with which he regards the divine righteousness in humanity, and the Father's testimony to the Son. For, assuredly, it ought to be so; and we ought to be jealous of every thought and view that divides attention with the gift of eternal life--jealous of our going out of the circle of the life that is in Christ in search of the unsearchable riches which we have in Christ; above all, jealous of occupying our imagination with an unknown future blessedness, to be bestowed on us for Christ's sake, instead of keeping to what is included in Christ, in the mind revealed in Christ, and so is addressed to the will in man, as what we are to partake in in yielding our will to be guided by the law of the Spirit of the life that is in Christ--the life of sonship: which is in itself riches, unsearchable infinite riches, because it, and it alone, enjoys the Father as the Father, making us heirs of God,--theirs of God, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ.

One has spoken of difficulty in joining, in anticipation, "himself and glory in one thought." The greater difficulty is to join ourselves and eternal life in one thought now,--although God has already in Christ so connected us in the very truth of things. But, as I have said, we are alike slow of heart to receive Christ's revelation of ourselves, and to receive His revelation of God,--to believe that God has given to us eternal life in His Son, and to believe that God is love.

I know, indeed, that the difficulty felt in believing 169 that our humanity and its capacity of good in respect of the eternal life which we have in Christ, is what the life of Christ reveals it to be,--is what we are tempted to excuse on the ground of the felt sinfulness of our own nature. Yet, is not the deepest knowledge of that sinfulness expressed in the verses just before those in which the Apostle recognises the power of the law of the Spirit of the life that is in Christ to make us free from the law of sin and death? Has, in this matter, experimental knowledge ever gone further than what the words express,--"I find a law in my members warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin that is in my members. O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" This was the question, and this the state of mind in relation to which the knowledge of the power of the life of sonship in humanity moved the Apostle to thank God through Jesus Christ. We know not the truth of humanity,--we know only its perversion while we are living the life of self and enmity, and are as gods to ourselves. What it is to be a man, what we possess in humanity, we never know until we see humanity in Him who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God.

Let us understand it. The difficulty of believing the revelation of man that is in Christ, and the difficulty of believing the revelation of God that is in Christ, is one difficulty. To believe that God is love, as this is revealed by His manifestation of love to us, is to believe that love, as ascribed to God in relation to man, means, that desire for man which is fulfilled in the humanity of Christ, and can in that alone be satisfied. Therefore, those general conceptions of the divine mercy and benevolence which are formed when God is contemplated only as so feeling for our misery and 170 desiring our happiness as that He gave Christ to die for us that we might be saved from misery and partake in everlasting bliss, however they are true conceptions so far as they go, come altogether short of the love of God to us in Christ Jesus. For the element of fatherliness is wanting--what it craves for--what alone can satisfy it. But on fatherliness, as ascribed to God, is the attention kept continually fixed in the gospel. That God has a Father's heart, may not, indeed, be admitted as a proof that the capacity of sonship has remained to us. But, at least, the manifestation of that fatherliness by the Son as the light of life to us does prove it.

Let us not think of Christ, therefore, simply as revealing how kind and compassionate God is, and how forgiving to our sins, as those who have broken His righteous law. Let us think of Christ as the Son who reveals the Father, that we may know the Father's heart against which we have sinned, that we may see how sin, in making us godless, has made us as orphans, and understand that the grace of God, which is at once the remission of past sin, and the gift of eternal life, restores to our orphan spirits their Father, and to the Father of spirits His lost children.

I have dwelt above on the difference between a filial standing and a legal standing. I have spoken also of what Christ's being our example in the life of faith implies as to the footing on which we are to draw near to God, and the nature of the confidence which Christ desires to quicken in us. Yet I feel it necessary thus to insist upon the faith of the sonship in humanity, which is revealed in Christ, as the necessary supplement and complement of the faith of the fatherliness, revealed to be in God: and I must often recur to this because, in truth, my hope of helping any out of the perplexities and confusions which I feel to prevail on 171 the subjects of justification and sanctification, is simply the hope of helping them to see the contradiction between coming to God in the spirit of sonship, with the confidence which the faith of the Father's heart sustains, and coming to God with a legal confidence as righteous in His sight, because clothed with a legal righteousness, or at least accepted on the ground of such a righteousness.

In speaking of that which he had come to experience through knowledge of the eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested in the Son--that experience into the fellowship of which he desired to bring others, the Apostle says, ''And truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ." "Father" and "Son" here do more than indicate persons: they indicate that in these persons with which the fellowship is experienced. Eternal life is to the Apostle a light in which the mind of fatherliness in the Father, and the mind of sonship in the Son, are apprehended and rejoiced in. This teaching as to the nature of salvation is the same which we receive from the Lord Himself when He says, "This is eternal life, to know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent;" as also when He says, "If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him."

Let the reader think of this, and take his own experience to this light. To me it appears, that the temptation to stop short of the light that shines to us in the communion of the Son with the Father in humanity is strong, and greatly prevails. But this light is the very light of life to us; for this communion is the gift of the Father to us in the Son. In the experience of this communion in our nature and as our 172 brother, did our Lord look forward to our partaking in it as what would be our salvation. The seventeenth chapter of the Gospel of John most fully declares this. Indeed the evidence abounds that it was this which was ever in the contemplation of Christ in glorifying the Father on the earth; while of anything like the consciousness of being working out a righteousness to be imputed to men to give them a legal ground of confidence towards God there is no trace.

I have already referred to President Edwards' legal representation of the righteousness of Christ, assumed to be imputed in faith, as perfected in His obedience unto death, and that of which God manifested His acceptance when He raised Christ from the dead. But the testimony to the Saviour was deeper and higher. Christ was declared to be the Son of God by the resurrection from the dead. The righteousness then acknowledged was none other than what the Father had previously borne testimony to when He said, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased;"--on the sonship, the life of sonship that was in Christ, was attention thus fixed, and not on the legal perfection of the righteousness which it fulfilled. How then can we think of the Father's testimony to the Son as other than a commending of sonship to us, or think of the Father's delight in the Son otherwise than as what justifies His imparting the life of sonship to us?

Let us in this light regard Christ's being delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification. The offences for which He made expiation were ours,--that expiation being the due atonement for the sin of man--accepted on behalf of all men. His righteousness, declared in His resurrection from the dead, is ours--the proper righteousness for man, and in Him given to all men: and that righteousness is NOT the past fact


of legal obligation discharged, but the mind of sonship towards the Father; for in the beloved Son is the Father seen to be well pleased, and in our being through Him to the Father dear children will it come to pass that the Father will be well pleased in us.

II. All that we thus learn as to the prospective reference of the atonement in considering Christ's own manifested life in humanity as His witnessing for the Father to men, is confirmed, and further light shed upon it, when we consider with the same prospective reference the atonement as the Son's dealing with the Father on our behalf.

We cannot conceive of our Lord's dealing with the Father on our behalf without passing on to its prospective reference. We could not formerly speak freely of that intercession for sinners which the Prophet has conjoined with His bearing of their sins, because that intercession could not be conceived of as stopping short of the prayer for our participation in eternal life, to which the expiatory confession of our sins, and prayer for the pardon of our sins necessarily led forward, and in connexion with which alone they could have existed. We now approach the subject of this dealing of Christ with the Father in the light of Christ's own perfection in humanity, and connect His laying hold of the hope for man which was in God with the Father's testimony that He was well pleased in the Son. What we have thought of Christ as necessarily desiring for us, was the fellowship of what He Himself was in humanity. This, therefore, was that which He would ask for us; and we can now understand that He would do so with a confidence connected with His own consciousness that in humanity He abode in His Father's love and in the light of His countenance. Thus would His own righteousness be 174 presented along with the confession of our sins when He asked for us remission of sins and eternal life.

And this is the right conception of Christ pleading His own merits on our behalf. Our capacity of that which He asked for us was so implied in these merits, and the Father's delight in these merits so implied His delight in their reproduction in us, that the prayer which proceeds on these grounds is manifestly according to the will of the Father--to offer it is a part of the doing of the Father's will--to offer it in the faith and hope of an answer is a part of the trust in the Father by which He declared the Father's name, and is to be contemplated as completing that response to the mind of the Father towards us in our sin and misery, which was present but in part in the retrospective confession of our sin.

And these--the confession and the intercession--so harmonise, are so truly each the complement of the other, that we feel in passing from the one to the other our faith in the Father's acceptance of each confirmed by seeing it in connexion with the other; that is to say, we more easily believe in the Father's acceptance of Christ's expiatory confession of our sins when we see that confession as contemplating our yet living to God--our partaking in eternal life; and we more easily believe in the gift of eternal life to those who have sinned, when we see it in connexion with that due and perfect expiation for their past sin.

It is in the dealing of the Son with the Father on our behalf, thus in all its aspects before us, that the full light of the atonement shines to us. In the life of Christ, as the revelation of the Father by the Son, we see the love of God to man--the will of God for man--the eternal life which the Father has given to us in the Son--that salvation which the gospel reveals as the


Apostle knew it when he invited men to the fellowship of it as fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. Proceeding from this contemplation of the light of eternal life as shining in Christ's own life on earth, to consider the Son in His dealing with the Father on our behalf, and contemplating Him now as bearing us and our sins and miseries on His heart before the Father, and uttering all that in love to the Father and to us He feels regarding us--all His divine sorrow--all His desire--all His hope--all that He admits and confesses as against us--all that, notwithstanding. He asks for us, with that in His own human consciousness, in His following the Father as a dear child walking in love, which justifies His hope in making intercession--enabling Him to intercede in conscious righteousness as well as conscious compassion and love,--we have the elements of the atonement before us as presented by the Son and accepted by the Father, and see the grounds of the divine procedure in granting to us remission of our sins and the gift of eternal life. We are contemplating what the Son, who dwells in the bosom of the Father, and whom the Father heareth always, offers to the Father as what He knows to be according to the Father's will, which, receiving the Father's acknowledgment as accepted by Him, is sealed to us as the true and perfect response of the Son to the Father's heart and mind in relation to man, the perfect doing of His will--the perfect declaring of His name.

In the light of what God thus accepted when Christ through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, we see the ultimate ground--the ultimate foundation in God--for that peace with God which we have in Christ. I say the ultimate ground in God for that peace with God which we have in our Lord Jesus


Christ; for, while the immediate ground is the atonement thus present to our faith, that is to say, the purpose as fulfilled which our Lord expressed, when coming to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself, He said, "Lo, I come to do thy will, O God;" yet clearly it is that eternal will itself which He thus came to do, and which by doing it the Son has revealed, even that name of God which the Son has declared, which is itself the ultimate peace and rest of our spirits.

In this full light of the atonement our first conviction is, that in this divine transaction in humanity, through which we have the remission of our sins and the gift of eternal life, there has been nothing arbitrary. We see a righteous and necessary relation between the remission of our sins and Christ's expiatory confession as the due and adequate confession of them--a perfect expiation in that it was divine,--perfect in relation to us in that it was human. We see a righteous and necessary relation between the gift of eternal life and Christ's righteousness; God's delight in that righteousness in humanity justifying to us the Son's offering it, and the Father's accepting it on behalf of man to be the righteousness of man.

We see further that what is thus offered on our behalf is so offered by the Son and so accepted by the Father, entirely with the prospective purpose that it is to be reproduced in us. The expiatory confession of our sins which we have been contemplating is to be shared in by ourselves: to accept it on our behalf was to accept it as that mind in relation to sin in the fellowship of which we are to come to God. The righteous trust in the Father, that following Him as a dear child walking in love, which we have been contemplating as Christ's righteousness, is to be shared in by us: to accept it on our behalf as the righteousness of man, was to 177 accept it as what pleases God in man,--what alone can please God in man,--therefore as that in the fellowship of which we are to draw near and live that life which is in God's favour.

In the light of the atonement this is seen clearly; and the light, as our eyes become able to bear it, reconciles us to itself. We soon are thankful that what God has accepted for us in Christ, is also what God has given to us in Christ. As to our past sins, we not only see that the atonement presented to our faith is far more honouring to the righteous law of God against which we had sinned, than any penal infliction for our sins, whether endured by another for us, or endured by ourselves in abiding misery, could have been; but are further able to accept, as a most welcome part of the gift of God in Christ, the power to confess our sins with an Amen to Christ's confession of them, true and deep in the measure in which we partake in His Spirit. We are contented and thankful to begin our new life with partaking in the mind of Christ concerning our old life, and feel the confession of our sins to be the side on which the life of holiness is nearest to us, the form in which it naturally becomes ours, and in which it must first be tasted by us: for holiness, truth, righteousness, love, must first dawn in us as confessions of sin. So we welcome the fellowship of the mind in which Christ, by the grace of God, tasted death for every man, as the first breathing of that life which comes to us through His death. As to our interest in the righteousness of Christ, we not only soon see that the acceptance of that righteousness on behalf of man, with the purpose of imparting it to man, is more glorifying to the divine delight in righteousness than any other conception that has been entertained, but also feel the confidence toward the Father which we cherish 178 in receiving Christ as our life, what, by our own experience in cherishing it, we know to be the only confidence towards God which can meet alike the desires of His heart for us, and the need of our own spirits as God's offspring.

And thus we are in a light in which all drawing of us by the Father to the Son,--that is to say, all testifying to our spirits by the Father of our spirits that He has given to us eternal life in His Son,--comes to us as the personal application to ourselves of that eternal will of God which we have seen revealed in Christ's dealing with the Father on our behalf. This drawing is felt to accord with, and to be interpreted by, the offering of the Son, and the acceptance of that offering by the Father; and as our faith realises the work of atonement,--Christ's confession of our sins, Christ's presentation of His own righteousness in humanity in relation to us, and the Father's acceptance of both on our behalf,--we are more and more able to understand and to believe the testimony of God in the Spirit, that God has given to us eternal life, and that this life is in His Son.

In proportion as the light of the divine counsel thus strengthens to us, and in proportion to the growing awakenedness of our spirits to the proper consciousness of God's offspring and realisation of what the divine fatherliness must be,--what it must desire,--what alone can be satisfying to it,--we come to see the work of redemption in the light of our ultimate and root relation to God as the Father of spirits, with whom abides the fountain of life. We see that, however we had departed from God, our true well-being continued to be, and must ever continue to be, so bound up in what God is to us in Himself, and what the aspect of our mind is towards Him, as that nothing 179 external to this,--nothing in God's outward dealing with us,--nothing that He can give or we can receive,--nothing that is not included in the state of our own spirits towards God, and the response in our own hearts to that which is in His heart towards us,--can be our salvation.

I have noticed above how much we may deceive ourselves if we expect that light from the typical sacrifices under the law which can only be shed upon us by the antitype itself. But there is an error from which these services might have saved men, which yet has been fallen into. What these services present to us as the picture of God's spiritual kingdom, is, a temple and a worship, --the participation in that worship being the good set forth,--disqualification for that worship the evil,--and sacrifices, and participation in these sacrifices, the means of deliverance from that evil and participation in that good. Not to deliver from punishment, but to cleanse and purify for worship, was the blood of the victim shed. Not the receiving of any manner of reward for righteousness, but the being holy and accepted worshippers, was the benefit received through being sprinkled with the victim's blood. In the light of this centre idea of worship, therefore, are we to see the sprinkling of all things with blood, and the remission of sins to which this related.

Accordingly, when we pass from the type to the antitype, we find worship the great good set forth to us--that worship in spirit and in truth which the heart of the Father craves for,--that worship which is sonship,--the response of the heart of the Son to the heart of the Father. We find the disqualification for worship to be not a mere fact of guilt, but the carnal mind which is enmity against God,--the law in man's members warring against the law of his mind, and bringing him 180 into captivity to the law of sin that is in his members. We find that when the Son of God came to be the needed victim, and to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself, He indicated the nature and virtue of His contemplated sacrifice by the words, "Lo, I come to do thy will, O God;" so that by this will it is that we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Christ,--the blood shed for the remission of sins being the blood of Christ, who, through the eternal Spirit, offered himself without spot to God, which purges the conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

Thus we are taught the strictly moral and spiritual relation of the sacrifice to the worship,--we see the fitness of the blood shed to fit the spirits which shall be washed in it to partake in that worship,--we see the mind of Christ, which is in that blood, to be that mind in the light of which and in the fellowship of which the worshipper will cry, Abba, Father. Finally, we see why the High Priest and head of this worship is the Son of God; and why His relation to the worshippers is not "the law of a carnal commandment,"--not a mere institution or arrangement, but a spiritual relation, viz., "the power of an endless life,"--so that He is their High Priest in that He is their life.

All this, while it accords with the place of sacrifices under the law, is to us, when we see it in the light of our relation to God as the Father of our spirits, of the nature of necessary truth, that is to say, we see that that access to God which shall indeed be to us a way into the holiest, must accord with the spiritual constitution of our being, with the nature of holiness, and with the nature of the separation from God which sin causes; therefore, that no permission or authority to come to God can be of any avail to us, apart from the mind in which alone he who has sinned can 181 in truth draw near to God; and this mind we see is just that into which the sinner enters in the Amen of faith to the voice that is in the blood of Christ, viz., Christ's confession of our sins. In the faith of God's acceptance of that confession on our behalf, we receive strength to say Amen to it,--to join in it--and, joining in it, we find it a living way to God; and at the same time we feel certain that there is no other way,--that we get near to God just in the measure in which in the Spirit of Christ we thus livingly adopt His confession of our sins,--in this measure and no further.

Permission to draw near to God, seen thus in the light of the mind in which to draw near,--that is to say, the remission of our sins seen in connexion with Christ's confession of our sins,--this is the way of life open before us; yet is that way to our faith altogether a part of the gift of eternal life. Though the right feelings for us to cherish,--though the only suitable feelings in which to approach to God,--though, in truth, the only feelings in which the consciousness of having sinned can coexist with the experience of communion with God,--these feelings altogether belong to the Son of God,--to the Spirit of sonship,--and are possible to us only in the fellowship of the Son's confidence in the Father's fatherly forgiveness, being quickened in us by the faith of that fatherly forgiveness, as uttered in God's acceptance of Christ's confession and intercession on our behalf.

I have above insisted upon the importance of the difference between a legal standing and a filial standing, and on the necessity, in considering the nature of the atonement, of keeping continually in view, that in redeeming us who were under the law the divine purpose was that we should receive the adoption of sons. This necessity is becoming, I trust, more and more clear as 182 we proceed. The virtue required in the blood of Christ is seen to be necessarily spiritual--a power to influence the spirits washed in it by faith, when our need is seen as the need of those whose life lies in God's favour, whose well-being must consist in communion with God, whose salvation is joining in that worship of God which is in spirit and in truth. And the spiritual virtue needed is determined to be the law of the Spirit of the life that is in Christ,--the life of sonship, when it is understood that the worship in spirit and in truth is that which the Father seeketh as the Father,--the worship which is sonship, that of which the Son is High Priest and head. But it further appears to me, that this conception of the worship for which the blood of Christ is to qualify, sheds back a light on the atonement, in which we are justified in saying that Christ's confession of our sin was not only the expiation due to the righteous law of God, but also the expiation due to the fatherly heart of God.

To speak of an atonement as due to the fatherly heart of God is foreign to our habits of mind on the subject of atonement. Yet I believe, that in proportion as we see the expiation that is in Christ's confession of man's sin to be that which has truly met the demand of the divine righteousness, we must see that the filial spirit that was in that confession, and which necessarily took into account what our being rebellious children was to the Father's heart, constituted the perfection of the expiation. This is no uncalled for refinement of thought. The pardon which we need is the pardon of the Father of our spirits,--the way into the holiest which we need is the way into our Father's heart; and therefore, the blood of Christ which hath consecrated such a way for us, must have power to cleanse our spirits from that spiritual pollution which 183 defiles rebellious children, that is to say, must contain the new mind in which it pertains to rebellious children to return to the Father.

And this consideration manifestly confirms the view now taken of the atonement. In proportion as it is seen that that which expiates sin must be something that meets a demand of the divine righteousness, the superiority of a moral and spiritual atonement, consisting in the right response from humanity to the divine mind in relation to sin, becomes clear. But that superiority is surely rendered still more unequivocal when, from the conception of God as the righteous ruler, we ascend to that of God as the Father of spirits. It is then that we fully realise that there is no real fitness to atone for sin in penal sufferings, whether endured by ourselves or by another for us. Most clearly to the Father's feelings such sufferings would be no atonement; and yet are not these the feelings which call for an atonement,--is it not to them that expiation is most righteously due?

And I would ask some attention to this question, because I know that weakness has been supposed to be introduced into our conceptions of the divine requirements, by giving prominence to the idea that God is our Father. Those who have this impression, and who fear the weakening of our sense of the divine authority, through giving the root place in our system to our relation to God as the Father of our spirits, would say, "It is the righteous ruler and judge who calls for an atonement, not the Father; the Father would receive us without an atonement." Certainly, such an atonement as they have before their minds, in saying this, would be no response to any demand that we can ascribe to the Father's heart,--as neither, indeed, I believe would it be to any demand which, in the light 184 of the divine righteousness, we can ascribe to the Judge of all the earth.

But this associating of moral weakness, and, as it were, easiness, with the idea of the fatherliness that is in God, is altogether an error; neither should any place be given to it. "If ye call on the Father, who, without respect of persons, judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear." The Father's heart did demand an atoning sacrifice. Is not this clear, if the worship in relation to which the victim's blood was shed, is, indeed, sonship? The Father's heart did demand the shedding of blood in order to the remission of sins, because it demanded blood in which justice would be rendered to the fatherliness which had been sinned against, and which, therefore, would have virtue in it to purge our spirits from their unfilial state, and to purify us in respect of the pollution that attaches to us as rebellious children.

We might, indeed, say, that the Father's heart asked for an atonement for our sin, simply on the ground that it desired us back to itself, and therefore, desired a living way of return for us, and one related in its nature to the nature of our departure, in order that our return might be--a real return; and that such a way could only be that which was opened by the Son of God, when He confessed the sins of God's rebellious children as the Son, who abides ever in the bosom of the Father, alone could: for He, indeed, alone could know the exceeding sinfulness of our sins, and feel regarding them in that mind, the fellowship of which would be to us our purgation from them. But this moral and spiritual impossibility of our returning to the Father of our spirits, except on such a path as this which Christ has opened for us through the rent veil of His flesh, and in the power of that endless life in 185 which He is related to us as our High Priest over the house of God,--this impossibility in respect of the very constitution of our spiritual being, can only be the counterpart of a necessity in the divine nature, in respect of which, the right feelings of the Father of spirits must be conceived of as demanding that expiation which we are now contemplating, rendering it impossible that He should receive us with welcome and acknowledgement, if coming by any other path than the fellowship of that expiation. God's righteous glory in us, no less than our special and peculiar blessedness in God as redeemed sinners, implies that in our consciousness in drawing near to God, our future shall not be cut off from our past. Therefore, that is not to be in time or in eternity; nor is our life of sonship in its highest development to be without the element of the remembrance, that we did not from the first cry Abba, Father; "Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to Him be glory and dominion, for ever and ever. Amen." We may say, that without the shedding of the blood of Christ, the Father of spirits could not receive back to the bosom of His love His rebellious children, as well as that without the shedding of the blood of Christ, it was morally and spiritually impossible for them to return. For these, indeed, are but two aspects of one spiritual truth.

What I thus labour to impress on the mind of my reader is, that the necessity for the atonement which we are contemplating, was moral and spiritual, arising out of our relation to God as the Father of spirits; and not merely legal, arising out of our being under the law. In truth, its existence as a legal necessity, arose out of its existence as a moral and spiritual 186 necessity: therefore, the legal difficulty is to be contemplated as what could be, and has been, removed only in connexion with, and because of, the removal of the spiritual difficulty. In other words, we have remission of our sins in the blood of Christ, only because that blood has consecrated for us a way into the holiest, and in this relation, and in this alone, can remission of sins be understood.

Therefore, it is altogether an error to associate weakness and easiness with the fatherliness of God, and severity and stern demand with His character as a moral governor. What severity, what fixedness of righteous demand has to be calculated upon, is to be seen as first in the Father, and then in the moral governor, because in the Father. And, although there had been in the universe but one moral being related to God as each of us is, and though God should be contemplated in His dealing with that individual being as acting exclusively as the Father of that spirit, seeking to realise the yearning of His fatherly heart in relation to that spirit,--the necessity for the atonement would, as respected that individual, have been still what it has been; nor could the fulfilment of the Father's desire for that one man have been possible, otherwise than through the opening of that fountain for sin and for uncleanness which is presented to our faith in the shedding of Christ's blood. And I never expect to see the real righteous severity of God truly and healthfully realised, and the unchangeable and essential conditions of salvation apprehended, and hope cherished only in being conformed to them, until the blood of Christ is thus seen in its direct relation to our participation in eternal life.

So far is it from being the case, that giving the root place to our relation to God as the fountain of life 187 and the Father of spirits, and subordinating the relation in which we stand to Him as a Lawgiver and as a Sovereign,--so far is this from introducing weakness into our conceptions of the moral and spiritual laws of the kingdom of God, that it is the seeing the Father in the Son, and the desire of the Father for us realised in the Son, which ultimately and absolutely shuts us up to the faith, that there is for us but one path of life, because but one path to the Father. "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." These words of the Son, who dwelleth in the bosom of the Father, heard as shedding light on the kingdom of God, reveal a fixed and immutable constitution of things. No words can be more exclusive, more unbending, more remote from all opening of a door to the hope of being easily dealt with,--the hope of experiencing a soft, accommodating indulgence, that in weak tenderness would bend the divine requirement to what we are.

"No man cometh unto the Father but by me,"--these words raise us up to a region in which there is, there can be, nothing arbitrary. A sovereign Lord and moral governor, appointing laws and enforcing them by the administration of a system of rewards and punishments, may be contemplated as severe and uncompromising in the exercise of his righteous rule,--but he may also be thought of as merciful and considerate of individual cases; and the outward and arbitrary nature of the rewards and punishments which he is believed to dispense makes his awarding the former on easier terms, and withholding or mitigating the latter according to circumstances,--and, it may be, under the influence of mercy,--what can be supposed, and what, in thinking of God as such a governor and Lord, and of ourselves as the subjects of His rule, we can 188 turn to the thought of with a vague hope. And such a governor and Lord God is in the ordinary thoughts of men, and such a vague hope towards God is the ordinary hope of men. And on such a conception of their relation to God have men ignorantly engrafted the gospel,--conceiving of it as giving a special and definite form to the indefinite combination of judgment and mercy, which has sustained that vague hope of salvation which they had cherished. But the gospel, truly apprehended, raises us into another and a higher region,-a region, indeed, in which divine mercy or clemency, as previously conceived of, is felt to have been but as the dimmest twilight of kindness and goodwill towards men, in comparison of the noonday light of the love of the Father of spirits to His offspring,--but a region also in which no arbitrary dealing with us can find a place. In the light that shines in that region, it is clear to us, that the relation between the blessedness that is seen there, and the rightness that is recognised there, is fixed and immutable. So that the liberty which, in the lower region, we ascribed to mercy, is here found not to belong to love; nor the discretion which we ventured to attribute to the righteous governor, found to pertain to the loving Father; but, on the contrary, the law of the Father--the principle on which happiness is dispensed, by Him to His offspring as His offspring--is found to be fixed and altogether unbending, incapable of accommodation in a way of pity, or indulgence, or consideration of circumstances. "No man cometh unto the Father but by the Son." All modification of this law is impossible; for sonship and fatherliness are mutually related in an eternal relation. The Father, as the Father, can only receive His offspring to Himself as coming to Him in the spirit of sonship;--neither otherwise 189 than as coming in the spirit of sonship can they in spirit and in truth draw near to Him.

I have spoken of a way into the holiest as what must have its nature determined by the nature of holiness; so a way to the Father must have its nature determined by the nature of fatherliness. These are two aspects of one spiritual reality; a reality, reader, which we must steadfastly contemplate, to the certainty and fixedness of which we must be reconciled,--a reality in the light of which we must see the free pardon of sin and redeeming love, and all the divine mercy to us sinners which the gospel reveals. In that lower moral region to which I have referred, in which men are not dealing with the Father of spirits, but with the moral governor of the universe, (but whose moral government, while thus not illumined by the light of His fatherliness, is never understood,) we may be occupied with the punishment of sin and the rewards of righteousness, in a way that permits us to connect the atonement directly with the idea of punishment and reward, and invests it simply with the interest of that desire to escape punishment and to be assured of happiness, which may, even in the lowest spiritual state, be strong and lively in us. But if we will come to the atonement, not venturing in our darkness to predetermine anything as to its nature, but expecting light to shine upon our spirits from it, even the light of eternal life; if we will suffer it to inform us by its own light why we needed it, and what its true value to us is, the punishment of sin will fall into its proper place, as testifying to the existence of an evil greater than itself, even sin; from which greater evil it is the direct object of the atonement to deliver us,--deliverance from punishment being but a secondary result. And the reward of righteousness will be raised in our conceptions 190 from the character of something that can be ours by the adjudication of the judge on arbitrary grounds which mercy may recommend, to its true dignity as that blessedness which is essentially inherent in righteousness, and in that glorifying and enjoying of God of which righteousness alone is the capacity, and which no name, nor title, nor arbitrary arrangement, can confer.

The atonement, thus seen by its own light, is not what in our darkness we desired; but it soon reconciles us to itself, for it sets us right as to the true secret of well being. A spiritual constitution of things that would have been more accommodating to what we were through sin, we soon see as precluded alike by the nature of God, and the nature of man in its relation to the nature of God,--a relation, to violate which would not be the salvation, but the destruction of man. We, indeed, see ourselves encompassed by necessities, instead of flexible, compromising; weak tendernesses; but they are necessities to which we are altogether reconciled, for we are reconciled to God. One has said, "It is a profitable sweet necessity to be forced on the naked arm of Jehovah." That "no man cometh to the Father but by the Son" is the great and all-including necessity that is revealed to us by the atonement. But, as combined with the gift of the Son to us as the living way to the Father, we rejoice to find ourselves shut up to "so great salvation."

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