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THE atonement considered in its retrospective aspects is--

I. Christ's dealing with men on the part of God.

It was in our Lord the natural outcoming of the life of love--of love to the Father and of love to us--to shew us the Father, to vindicate the Father's name, to witness for the excellence of that will of God against which we were rebelling, to witness for the trustworthiness of that Father's heart in which we were refusing to put confidence, to witness for the unchanging character of that love in which there was hope for us, though we had destroyed ourselves.

This witness-bearing for God, and which was according to that word of the Prophet--"I have given him for a witness to the people," was accomplished in the personal perfection that was in Christ--His manifested perfection in humanity--that is to say, the perfection of His own following of the Father as a dear child, and the perfection of His brotherly love in His walk with men. His love and His trust towards His Father, His love and His longsuffering towards His brethren--the latter being presented to our faith in its oneness with the former--were together what He contemplated when He said, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father."

This witness-bearing for the Father was a part of the self-sacrifice of Christ. The severity of the pressure of our sins upon the Spirit of Christ was necessarily greatly increased through that living contact with the 129 enmity of the carnal mind to God into which Christ was brought, in being to men a living epistle of the grace of God. His honouring of the Father caused men to dishonour Him,--His manifestation of brotherly love was repaid with hatred,--His perfect walk in the sight of men failed to commend either His Father or Himself,--His professed trust in the Father was cast up to Him, not being believed, and the bitter complaint was wrung from Him--"reproach hath broken my heart."

Not that His task in doing the Father's will, "not hiding His righteousness within His heart,'' but "declaring His faithfulness and His salvation," was altogether cheerless: on the contrary, the Man of sorrows could speak to the chosen companions of His path, those who knew Him most nearly, of a peace which they had witnessed in Him--nay, of a joy, a peace and a joy as to which He could expect that they would receive as the intimation of a precious legacy to be told that these He would leave with them,--could even expect that the prospect of having these abiding with them would reconcile them to that tribulation which was to come to them through their relation to Him. That which He had presented to their faith would not have been a true and successful witnessing for the Father, had this not been so;--it would have been less than that of the Psalmist, ''O taste and see that God is good." Whatever sorrow may have been seen as borne by the Son of God in confessing His Father's name in our sinful world--and this could not have been but in sorrow--yet must a joy deeper than the sorrow have been present, as belonging to that oneness with the Father which that living confession implied; and to have hidden that joy would have been to have marred that confession,--leaving imperfect that condemnation of sin which is 130 by the manifestation of the life that is in God's favour, and the shining forth of which in Christ is the light of life to man. Therefore the peace, the joy of which our Lord speaks as what the disciples had witnessed in Him, and what would be recalled to them when He used the expressions, "My peace," "My joy," were a most important element in His declaration of the Father's name.

But not less important as an element of that declaration, not less essential to its perfection, were the sorrows of the Man of sorrows, of which also they were the chosen witnesses. It has been said, "If God should appear as a man on this sinful earth, how could it be but as a man of sorrows?" The natural outward expression of Christ's inward sorrow from the constant pressure of our sin and misery on His spirit--a pressure under which, as God in our nature, with the mind of God in suffering flesh He could not but be--would of itself have been enough to justify the appeal to those who saw Him nearly, "Look, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow?" But to the vindication of the name of God, and to the condemnation of the sin of man, that actual meeting of the eternal love with the enmity of the carnal mind, which took place when Christ came to men in the Father's name--in the fellowship of the Father's love, was necessary; and, therefore, however much it added to Christ's suffering as bearing our sins, it was permitted; and the Father ordered the path in which He led the Son so as to give full and perfect development and manifestation to the self-sacrificing life of love that was in Christ, fulness and perfection to His declaration of the Father's name.

We have been prepared for recognising our Lord's honouring of the Father in the sight of men, as an 131 element in the atonement in its retrospective aspect, by the power to arrest the course of judgment, and stay the plague which expressed the divine wrath, found in that outcoming of zeal for God, and sympathy in His condemnation of sin, by which Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, made atonement for the children of Israel. If the principle of the divine procedure in that case be recognised, we shall have no difficulty in seeing the place which the perfect zeal for the Father's honour, the living manifestation of perfect sympathy in the Father's condemnation of sin, the perfect vindication of the unselfish and righteous character of that condemnation as the mind of Him who is love, which were presented to men in the life of Christ, being perfected in His death,--we shall, I say, have no difficulty in seeing the place which this dealing of Christ with men on the part of God has in the work of redemption.

If we at all realise the cost to Christ, we can have no difficulty in contemplating as included in the expression, "a sacrifice for sin," what Christ endured in this witnessing for God. But I am anxious that the way in which the sufferings of Christ now before us entered into the atonement, and not the fact only that they did enter into it, may be distinctly understood,--that it was as being necessary to the perfection of His witness-bearing for the Father. For, while these sufferings have also received a place in the atonement, in the systems which have been considered above as forms of Calvinism, it has been on the entirely different ground that they were a part of what our Lord endured in bearing the punishment of our sins; and I have already urged the impossibility of regarding as penal the sorrows of holy love endured in realising our sin and misery--the impossibility of believing that He who said, "Rivers of water run down mine eyes, because men 132 keep not thy law," could have felt the pain of the holy sorrow which caused His tears to flow, to have been penal suffering, seeing that that pain was endured in sympathy with God, and in the strength of the faith of the divine acceptance of that sympathy.

But apart from the objection to our regarding the sufferings of Christ now contemplated as penal, presented by the very nature of these sufferings, is there any reason to feel, that they would be a more fittmg element in the atonement had they been penal, than as being, what we know they were, the perfecting of the Son's witnessing for the Father? The distinction between penal sufferings endured in meeting a demand of divine justice, and sufferings which are themselves the expression of the divine mind regarding our sins, and a manifestation by the Son of what our sins are to the Father's heart, is indeed very broad: and I know that the habit of thought which prevails on the subject of the atonement is such as will cause minds, under the power of that habit, to think it more natural to connect remission of sins with sufferings having the former,
than with sufferings having the latter character. But, independent of the necessity which the nature of the sufferings which we are considering impose upon us to refuse to them the former character--while we know that they certainly had the latter--is not the habit of mind which creates any difficulty here, delusive? We are accustomed to hear it said, that the law which men had violated must be honoured, and the sincerity and consistency of the lawgiver must be vindicated. But what a vindicating of the divine name, and of the character of the lawgiver, are the sufferings now contemplated, considered as themselves the manifestation in humanity of what our sins are to God, compared to that to which they are reduced if conceived of as a punishment 133 inflicted by God! No doubt, even in this view, there would remain to us a ray of light in the love that is contented to endure the infliction; but, however precious the thought of love willing so to suffer, the full revelation of God is not that divine love has been contented thus to suffer, but that the suffering is the suffering of divine love suffering from our sins according to its own nature; a suffering, therefore, in relation to which the sufferer could say, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father."

II. But Christ's honouring the Father in the sight of men, which was His dealing with men on the part of God, is only one aspect of His mediatorial work. We have to consider also His dealing with God on behalf of men. And this, indeed, is the region in which penal suffering should meet us, if penal suffering had entered into the atonement. We cannot conceive of the Son of God as enduring a penal infliction in the very act of honouring His Father. But when we contemplate Him as approaching God on behalf of man,--when we contemplate Him as meeting the divine mind in its aspect towards sin and sinners, and as dealing with the righteous wrath of God against sin, interposing Himself between sinners and the consequences of that righteous wrath,--we feel, that here we have come to that which men have contemplated when they have conceived of Christ as satisfying divine justice in respect of its claim for vengeance upon our sins, and that here was the place for outcoming of wrath upon the Mediator, and penal infliction, if such there had been,--and, as such there has not been, that here is the place in which we should find that dealing of the Mediator with the divine wrath against sin which has had the result which men have referred to His assumed bearing of the punishment of sin; and which, being understood, will be felt to 134 meet all that was right, and according to truth, in the feelings which men have expressed by the words, ''appeasing divine wrath,"--"expiating the guilt of sin."

I say, "all that was according to truth in these expressions," for there was truth in them, though mingled with error--how much error, the separating of the truth will best shew. But the wrath of God against sin is a reality, however men have erred in their thoughts as to how that wrath was to be appeased. Nor is the idea that satisfaction was due to divine justice, a delusion, however far men have wandered from the true conception of what would meet its righteous demand. And if so, then Christ, in dealing with God on behalf of men, must be conceived of as dealing with the righteous wrath of God against sin, and according to it that which was due: and this would necessarily precede His intercession for us.

It is manifest, if we consider it, that Christ's own long-suffering love was the revelation to those who should see the Father in the Son, of that forgiving love in God to which Christ's intercession for men would be addressed; and so also, I believe, does Christ's own condemnation of our sins, and His holy sorrow because of them, indicate that dealing with the aspect of the divine mind towards sin which prepared the way for intercession.

That oneness of mind with the Father, which towards man took the form of condemnation of sin, would, in the Son's dealing with the Father in relation to our sins, take the form of a perfect confession of our sins. This confession, as to its own nature, must have been a perfect Amen in humanity to the judgment of God on the sin of man. Such an Amen was due in the truth of things. He who was the Truth could not be in humanity and not utter it,--and it was necessarily a first 135 step in dealing with the Father on our behalf. He who would intercede for us must begin with confessing our sins. This all will at once perceive. But let us weigh this confession of our sins by the Son of God in humanity. And I do not mean in reference to the suffering it implies viewed as suffering. Christ's love to the Father, to whom He thus confessed the sin of His brethren,--His love to His brethren whose sin He confessed,--along with that conscious oneness of will with the Father in humanity, in the light of which the exceeding evil of man's alienation from God was realised; these must have rendered His confession of our sins before the Father a peculiar development of the holy sorrow in which He bore the burden of our sins; and which, like His sufferings in confessing His Father before men, had a severity and intensity of its own. But, apart from the question of the suffering present in that confession of our sins, and the depth of meaning which it gives to the expression, "a sacrifice for sin," let us consider this Amen from the depths of the humanity of Christ to the divine condemnation of sin. What is it in relation to God's wrath against sin? What place has it in Christ's dealing with that wrath? I answer: He who so responds to the divine wrath against sin, saying, "Thou art righteous, O Lord, who judgest so," is necessarily receiving the full apprehension and realisation of that wrath, as well as of that sin against which it comes forth, into His soul and spirit, into the bosom of the divine humanity, and, so receiving it. He responds to it with a perfect response,--a response from the depths of that divine humanity,--and in that perfect response He absorbs it. For that response has all the elements of a perfect repentance in humanity for all the sin of man,--a perfect sorrow--a perfect contrition--all the elements of such a repentance, and that in absolute 136 perfection, all--excepting the personal consciousness of sin,--and by that perfect response in Amen to the mind of God in relation to sin is the wrath of God rightly met, and that is accorded to divine justice which is its due, and could alone satisfy it.

In contending "that sin must be punished with an infinite punishment," President Edwards says*, that "God could not be just to Himself without this vindication, unless there could be such a thing as a repentance, humiliation and sorrow for this (viz., sin), proportionable to the greatness of the majesty despised,"--for that there must needs be, "either an equivalent punishment or an equivalent sorrow and repentance"--"so," he proceeds, "sin must be punished with an infinite punishment," thus assuming that the alternative of "an equivalent sorrow and repentance" was out of the question. But, upon the assumption of that identification of Himself with those whom He came to save, on the part of the Saviour, which is the foundation of Edwards' whole system, it may at the least be said, that the Mediator had the two alternatives open to His choice,--either to endure for sinners an equivalent punishment, or to experience in reference to their sin, and present to God on their behalf, an adequate sorrow and repentance. Either of these courses should be regarded by Edwards as equally securing the vindication of the majesty and justice of God in pardoning sin. But the latter equivalent, which also is surely the higher and more excellent, being a moral and spiritual satisfaction, was, as we have now seen, of necessity present in Christ's dealing with the Father on our behalf. Therefore, to contend for the former also would be to contend for two equivalents. This of course Edwards had no intention of doing. For,

*Satisfaction for Sin, Ch. II. 1-3. 137 though the thought of that moral and spiritual atonement which would be presented to God in the adequate confession of sin, passed through his mind, he did not recognise the presence of this "equivalent repentance" in the work of Christ. He had set out with the assumption that Christ came to bear the punishment of our sins, and to work out a righteousness to be imputed to us; and, as we have seen that the latter part of this assumption hindered his so seeing the Father in the Son as to recognise that law of love to all men which was fulfilled in Christ, as in truth the law of God's own being, so here we see that, in consequence of the former part of that assumption, it has come to pass, that, notwithstanding all his deep and earnest study of the work of redemption, and notwithstanding his feeling constrained to recognise moral and spiritual elements as alone present in the sufferings of Christ, the thought of an atonement for sin by an equivalent repentance has suggested itself to him only in connexion with the manifest impossibility of such a repentance being presented by the sinner himself to God in expiation of his guilt. And in the connexion in which the idea of repentance as an expiation for sin presented itself to the mind of Edwards, his conclusion was just. A condemnation and confession of sin in humanity which should be a real Amen to the divine condemnation of sin, and commensurate with its evil and God's wrath against it, only became possible through the incarnation of the Son of God. But the incarnation of the Son of God not only made possible such a moral and spiritual expiation for sin as that of which the thought thus visited the mind of Edwards, though passing away without result, but indeed caused that it must be. Without the assumption of an imputation of our guilt, and in perfect harmony 138 with the unbroken consciousness of personal separation from our sins, the Son of God, bearing us and our sins on His heart before the Father, must needs respond to the Father's judgment on our sins, with that confession of their evil and of the righteousness of the wrath of
God against them, and holy sorrow because of them, which were due--due in the truth of things--due on our behalf though we could not render it--due from Him as in our nature and our true brother--what He must needs feel in Himself because of the holiness and love which were in Him--what He must needs utter to the Father in expiation of our sins when He would make intercession for us.

I have said that in approaching the dealing of Christ with God on behalf of men, we approach the region in which we should have met penal infliction as endured by Christ for our sins, had such infliction entered into the atonement; and, as it has not, where we should see that, whatever else it was, which has been Christ's dealing with God's righteous wrath against our sins. What I believe that dealing to have been, I have, I trust, expressed with sufficient clearness,--while I have laboured more to illustrate the nature of this expiation by confession of our sins, than the intensity of suffering to the soul of Christ thus made an offering for sin, which it involved.

Yet is it needful that we should, in realising the elements of these sufferings, endeavour to realise also their intensity,--that it was according to the perfection of the divine mind in the sufferer, and the capacity of suffering which is in suffering flesh. And this meditation, as I trust the reader will feel, is a very different thing from weighing the sufferings of Christ in scales against the sufferings of the damned. That belongs to the following out of the conception of the Son of God 139 suffering the punishment of our sins. But what I contemplate is the following out of the conception of the Son of God suffering in suffering flesh that which is the perfect response of the divine holiness and divine love in humanity to the aspect of the divine mind in the Father towards the sins of men. No thought unworthy of the faith that the sufferer is God in our nature, comes through exalting our conceptions of the measure of the suffering endured on account of sins, when such exalting is thus but the raising of our apprehensions of what our sin is to the heart of God.

And I may here refer to what has been urged by some as a reason for holding that the sufferings of Christ were penal, viz. that otherwise there is no explanation of the sufferings of one who was without sin, as endured under the righteous government of God. Do we never see suffering that we must explain on some other principle than this? Surely the tears of holy sorrow shed over the sins of others--the tears, for example, of a godly parent over a prodigal child, are not penal, nor, if shed before God in prayer, and acknowledged in the merciful answer of prayer in God's dealing with that prodigal, are they therefore to be conceived of as having been penal. But the fact is, that the truth that God grieves over our sins, is not so soon received into the heart as that God punishes sin,--and yet, the faith that He so grieves is infinitely more important, as having power to work holiness in us, than the faith that He so punishes, however important. But there is much less spiritual apprehension necessary to the faith that God punishes sin, than to the faith that our sins do truly grieve God. Therefore, men more easily believe that Christ's sufferings shew how God can punish sin, than that these sufferings are the divine feelings in relation to sin, made visible to us by 140 being present in suffering flesh. Yet, however the former may terrify, the latter alone can purify, because the latter alone perfectly reveals, and in revealing vindicates the name and character of God, condemning us in our own eyes, and laying us prostrate in the dust because we have sinned against such a God. The entrance of sin has been the entrance of sorrow,--not to the sinful only, and as the punishment of sin, but also to the holy and the loving, and as what holiness and love must feel in the presence of sin. That such suffering as the suffering of Christ should have existed in the universe of God in connexion with innocence and holiness, moral and spiritual perfection, must, indeed, be felt to suggest a solemn question, and one which must receive an answer, if we are to be in a condition to glorify God in contemplating that suffering. The answer that it was penal, is precluded by the nature of the suffering itself. Yet, that it was for sin, is also implied in that very nature, and for the sin of others than the sufferer, for He was without sin; therefore was it vicarious, expiatory, an atonement,--an atonement for sin as distinguished from the punishment of sin.

And with this distinction, how much light enters the mind! We are now able to realise that the suffering we contemplate is divine, while it is human; and that God is revealed in it and not merely in connexion with it; God's righteousness and condemnation of sin, being in the suffering, and not merely what demands it,--God's love also being in the suffering, and not merely what submits to it. Christ's suffering being thus to us a form which the divine life in Christ took in connexion with the circumstances in which He was placed, and not a penal infliction, coming on Him as from without, such words as, ''He made His soul an offering for sin"--"He put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself,"--"By Himself


He purged our sins," grow full of light; and the connexion between what He is who makes atonement, and the atonement which He makes, reveals itself in a far other way than as men have spoken of the divinity of the Saviour, regarding it either as a strength to endure infinite penal suffering, or a dignity to give adequacy of value to any measure of penal suffering however small. Not in these ways, but in a far other way, is the person of Christ brought before us now as fixing attention upon the divine mind in humanity as that which alone could suffer, and which did suffer sufferings of a nature and virtue to purge our sins. By the word of His power all else was accomplished, by himself He purged our sins,--by the virtue that is in what He is; and thus is the atonement not only what was rendered possible by the incarnation, but itself a development of the incarnation.

Luther says, that all sin of man, and the eternal righteousness of God, being met in Christ in mutual opposition, the one of these must prevail; and it must be the righteousness, for it is divine and eternal. His conception seems to have been:--sin being there present calling for judgment, and righteousness for life, the righteousness, being divine, must triumph. When, in explaining this presence of sin, he speaks of the consciousness that was in Christ in relation to man's sin, as if it were, with reference to all the sin of man, identical in nature with what in measure the perfectly awakened sinner feels as to his own sin, Luther certainly seems to lose the sense of the personal separation from sin of that Holy One of God, in whose inner being all the sin of humanity was thus realised. And yet I venture to think, that he only seems to do so, and that his meaning has not been beyond that sense of man's sin, and what is due to it, and of the righteousness of


God's judgment upon it, of which I have spoken above. At all events, the view now taken of the way in which the Saviour met and dealt with the Father's wrath against sin, may be expressed in language akin to that of Luther, and we may say that the divine eternal righteousness in Christ used confession of the sinfulness of sin, as the weapon of righteousness in its conflict with sin calling for judgment; and so, that righteousness prevailed. The divine righteousness in Christ appearing on the part of man, and in humanity, met the divine righteousness in God condemning man's sin, by the true and righteous confession of its sinfulness uttered in humanity, and righteousness as in God was satisfied, and demanded no more than righteousness as in Christ thus presented.

It might be too bold to assert that this was Luther's meaning. But at all events,--and this alone is important,--I believe this to be a conception according to the truth of things, and that the feelings of the divine mind as to sin, being present in humanity and uttering themselves to God as a living voice from humanity, were the true atonement for the sin of humanity,--the "equivalent sorrow and repentance" of which the idea was in the mind of Edwards, though the fact of its realisation in Christ he did not recognise. But, though Edwards saw not that the equivalent sorrow and repentance, of which the thought passed before his mind, was actually present in these sufferings of Christ which he was considering, yet am I thankful that the conception of such an equivalent as the alternative to infinite punishment has been recognised by him. For he is the great teacher of a demand for infinite punishment as implied in the essential and absolute justice of God; and, as I have said above, in his dealing with absolute justice and righteousness on the subject of the 143 atonement, I have much more sympathy, than with the teaching that makes rectoral justice or public justice the foundation of its reasoning. For of this I feel quite certain, that no really awakened sinner into whose spirit the terrors of the Lord have entered, ever thinks of rectoral justice, but of absolute justice, and of absolute justice only. "Against thee, thee only have I sinned," is language, in using which the soul is alone with God, and thinks not of any other bearing of its sin, but its bearing on the individual in relation to God.

That due repentance for sin, could such repentance indeed be, would expiate guilt, there is a strong testimony in the human heart, and so the first attempt at peace with God, is an attempt at repentance,--which attempt, indeed, becomes less and less hopeful, the longer, and the more earnestly and honestly it is persevered in,--but this, not because it comes to be felt that a true repentance would be rejected even if attained, but because its attainment is despaired of,--all attempts at it being found, when taken to the divine light, and honestly judged in the sight of God, to be mere selfish attempts at something that promises safety,--not evil, indeed, in so far as they are instinctive efforts at self-preservation, but having nothing in them of the nature of a true repentance, or a godly sorrow for sin, or pure condemnation of it because of its own evil; nothing, in short, that is a judging sin and a confessing it in true sympathy with the divine judgment upon it. So that the words of Whitefield come to be deeply sympathised in, "our repentance needeth to be repented of, and our very tears to be washed in the blood of Christ."

That we may fully realise what manner of an equivalent to the dishonour done to the law and name of God by sin, an adequate repentance and sorrow for sin 144 must be, and how far more truly than any penal infliction such repentance and confession must satisfy divine justice, let us suppose that all the sin of humanity has been committed by one human spirit, on whom is accumulated this immeasurable amount of guilt, and let us suppose this spirit, loaded with all this guilt, to pass out of sin into holiness, and to become filled with the light of God, becoming perfectly righteous with God's own righteousness,--such a change, were such a change possible, would imply in the spirit so changed, a perfect condemnation of the past of its own existence, and an absolute and perfect repentance, a confession of its sin commensurate with its evil. If the sense of personal identity remained, it must be so. Now, let us contemplate this repentance with reference to the guilt of such a spirit, and the question of pardon for its past sin, and admission now to the light of God's favour. Shall this repentance be accepted as an atonement, and the past sin being thus confessed, shall the divine favour flow out on that present perfect righteousness which thus condemns the past? or, shall that repentance be declared inadequate? shall the present perfect righteousness be rejected on account of the past sin, so absolutely and perfectly repented of? and shall divine justice still demand adequate punishment for the past sin, and refuse to the present righteousness adequate acknowledgment--the favour which, in respect of its own nature, belongs to it? It appears to me impossible to give any but one answer to these questions. We feel that such a repentance as we are supposing would, in such a case, be the true and proper satisfaction to offended justice, and that there would be more atoning worth in one tear of the true and perfect sorrow which the memory of the past would awaken in this now holy spirit, than in endless ages of penal woe. Now, with the difference 145 of personal identity, the case I have supposed is the actual case of Christ, the holy one of God, bearing the sins of all men on His spirit--in Luther's words, "the one sinner"--and meeting the cry of these sins for judgment, and the wrath due to them, absorbing and exhausting that divine wrath in that adequate confession and perfect response on the part of man, which was possible only to the infinite and eternal righteousness in humanity.

I have said that my hypothetical, and indeed impossible case, and that case which the history of our redemption actually presents, differ only in respect of the personal identity of the guilty and the righteous. And, to one looking at the subject with a hasty superficial glance, this difference may seem to involve all the difficulties connected with imputation of guilt and substituted punishment. Yet it can only so appear to a hasty and superficial glance. For, independent of the higher character of the moral atonement supposed, as compared with the enduring as a substitute a penal infliction, this adequate sorrow for the sin of man, and adequate confession of its evil implies no fiction--no imputation to the sufferer of the guilt of the sin for which He suffers; but only that He has taken the nature, and become the brother of those whose sin He confesses before the Father, and that He feels concerning their sins what, as the holy one of God, and perfectly loving God and man. He must feel.

In contemplating our Lord as yielding up His soul to be filled with the sense of the Father's righteous condemnation of our sin, and as responding with a perfect Amen to that condemnation, we are tracing what was a necessary step in His path as dealing with the Father on our behalf. His intercession presupposes this expiatory confession, and cannot be conceived of 146 apart from it. Not only so,--but it is also certain that we cannot rightly conceive of this confession, or be in the light in which it was made, without seeing that the intercession that accompanied it was necessary to its completeness, as a full response to the mind of the Father towards us and our sins.

I have endeavoured to present Christ's expiatory confession of our sins to the mind of the reader as much as possible by itself, and as a distinct object of thought, because it most directly corresponds, in the place it occupies, to the penal suffering which has been assumed; and I have desired to place these two ways of meeting the divine wrath against sin, as ascribed to the Mediator, in contrast. But the intercession by which that confession was followed up, must be taken into account as a part of the full response of the mind of the Son to the mind of the Father,--a part of that utterance in humanity which propitiated the divine mercy by the righteous way in which it laid hold of the hope for man which was in God. "He bare the sins of many, and made intercession for the transgressors." In the light of that true knowledge of the heart of the Father in which the Son responded to the Father's condemnation of our sins, the nature of that condemnation was so understood that His love was at liberty, and was encouraged to accompany confession by intercession:--not an intercession which contemplated effecting a change in the heart of the Father, but a confession which combined with acknowledgment of the righteousness of the divine wrath against sin, hope for
man from that love in God which is deeper than that wrath,--in truth originating it--determining also its nature, and justifying the confidence that, its righteousness being responded to, and the mind which it expresses shared in, that wrath must be appeased.


Therefore, when we would conceive to ourselves that Amen to the mind of the Father in its aspect toward us and our sins, which, pervading the humanity of the Son of God, made His soul a fit offering for sin, and when we would understand how this sacrifice was to God a sweet-smelling savour, we must consider not only the response which was in that Amen to the divine condemnation of sin, but also the response which was in it to the divine love in its yearnings over us sinners. In itself, the intercession of Christ was the perfected expression of that forgiveness which He cherished toward those who were returning hatred for His love. But it was also the form His love must take if He would obtain redemption for us. Made under the pressure of the perfect sense of the evil of our state, this intercession was full of the Saviour's peculiar sorrow and suffering--a part of the sacrifice of Christ: its power as an element of atonement we must see, if we consider that it was the voice of the divine love coming from humanity, offering for man a pure intercession according to the will of God, offering that prayer for man which was alike the utterance of love to God and love to man--that prayer which accorded with our need and the Father's glory as seen and felt in the light of the Eternal love by the Son of God and our Brother.

We do not understand the divine wrath against sin, unless such confession of its evil as we are now contemplating is felt to be the true and right meeting of that wrath on the part of humanity. We do not understand the forgiveness that is in God, unless such intercession as we are now contemplating is felt to be that which will lay hold of that forgiveness, and draw it forth. It was not in us so to confess our own sins; neither was there in us such knowledge of the heart of the Father. But, if another could in this act for us,-- 148 if there might be a mediator, an intercessor,--one at once sufficiently one with us, and yet sufficiently separated from our sin to feel in sinless humanity what our sinful humanity, could it in sinlessness look back on its sins, would feel of Godly condemnation of them and sorrow for them, so confessing them before God,--one coming sufficiently near to our need of mercy to be able to plead for mercy for us according to that need, and at the same time, so abiding in the bosom of the Father, and in the light of His love and secret of His heart, as, in interceding for us to take full and perfect advantage of all that is there that is on our side, and wills our salvation;--if the Son of God has, in the power of love, come into the capacity of such mediation in taking our nature and becoming our brother, and in that same power of love has been contented to suffer all that such mediation, accomplished in suffering flesh, implied,--is not the suitableness and the acceptableness of the sacrifice of Christ, when His soul was made an offering for sin, what we can understand? In truth, we cannot realise the life of Christ as He moved on this earth in the sight of men, and contemplate His witness-bearing against sin, and His forgiveness towards sinners, and hear the Father say of Him, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased," and yet doubt that that mind towards sin and sinners which He thus manifested, and the Father thus acknowledged, would be altogether acceptable, and a sacrifice to God of a sweet smelling savour, in its atoning confession of sin and intercession for sinners.

I know that the adequacy of the atonement to be a foundation for the remission of sins cannot be fully apprehended, or the righteousness of God in accepting it as a sacrifice for sin be fully justified, apart from its prospective reference to the divine purpose of making 149 us through Christ partakers in eternal life. Yet I will, even at this point, express the hope, that the purpose of God to extend mercy to sinners being realised, and the considerations connected with the name of God and the honour of His law, which had to be taken into account, being present to the mind, it will be felt, that the atonement, as now set forth, was the suitable preparation for that contemplated manifestation of mercy; and I venture to express this hope here, and thus early, because, I am not unwilling that the atonement as now represented, and while considered only in its retrospective reference, should be compared with the conception of the atonement as Christ's bearing, as our substitute, the punishment of our sins,--the rather, that that is a retrospective conception exclusively. But, I repeat it, I feel that it is placing the atonement, as now set forth, under a disadvantage as to its power to commend itself to the conscience, to look at its retrospective adequacy thus apart from its prospective reference: to the consideration of which I now proceed.

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