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THAT natural relation of the atonement to Christianity, on which so much weight has now been laid, is the full meeting of a demand which must be more or less felt in any deep realisation of the divine righteousness; the demand which is so far met when those who represent our acceptance with God as turning upon our trust in the merits of Christ's work, are I still careful to illustrate the moral tendency of such trust, founding systems of "Christian Ethics" on the atonement; the demand which is recognised when those who regard the actual imputation of Christ's righteousness as what justifies us in the sight of God, are careful to deny the character of justifying faith to any faith that does not sanctify: for Luther alone have we found setting forth the excellent righteousness which is in the faith which justifies viewed in itself. In truth, all care to exclude antinomianism, in whatever way that care is expressed, is an indication of the depth and authority of the feeling which forbids our ascribing to the righteous God any constitution of spiritual and moral government, which does not contemplate results in harmony with the divine righteousness, and which has not its justification in these results. So that, though, in form of thought, a near approach is made to saying, that the great husbandman values the fruitful branch, not because of His delight in the fruit it bears, but because of His delight in the imputed excellence of the vine; still the real feeling of the heart is in harmony 335 with the words of our Lord, "Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit." But, as these words, "Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit," indicate, we find that it is only in the light of the relation in which the scheme of redemption stands to the fatherliness of God that the necessity for a natural relation of the atonement to Christianity can be adequately conceived of.

The great and root-distinction of the view of the atonement presented in these pages, is the relation in which our redemption is regarded as standing to the fatherliness of God. In that fatherliness has the atonement been now represented as originating. By that fatherliness has its end been represented to have been determined. To that fatherliness has the demand for the elements of expiation found in it been traced. But the distinction is broad and unmistakeable between simple mercy proposing to save from evils and bestow blessings, and finding it necessary to deal with justice as presenting obstacles to the realisation of its gracious designs,--which conception is that on which the other view of the atonement proceeds; and this of the love of the Father of our spirits going forth after us. His alienated children, lost to Him, dead to Him through sin, and desiring to be able to say of each one of us, "My son was dead and is alive again. He was lost and is found."

Not, indeed, that supposing the only elements of the divine character concerned in determining the nature of the atonement to have been mercy and righteousness, the conception to which I object, would meet the requirements of these attributes more adequately than that which I offer instead. On the contrary, the moral and spiritual expiation for sin which Christ has made, has dealt with the justice of God, whether contemplated 336 as absolute or as rectoral, in a way infinitely more glorifying to the law of God, and more fitted to open a free channel for mercy to flow in, than an atonement consisting in the endurance of penal sufferings by the Son of God as our substitute, would have done. But while this lower ground is tenable, we should not be justified in coming down from the point of view to which the gospel raises us, to what, while true, is not the ultimate truth revealed. So to do, would be to forget that the gospel, and not the law, affords us full light here; the law being subordinate to the gospel, as our relation to God as our righteous Lord, is subordinate to our relation to Him as the Father of our spirits,--the original and root-relation, in the light of which alone all God's dealings with us can be understood. How far, indeed, this subordinating of our relation to God as we are the subjects of His righteous rule, to our relation to Him as we are His offspring, is from depreciating that which is subordinated, has, I trust, been made abundantly manifest, seeing that it is the law of the spirit of the life that is in Christ Jesus, that is to say, sonship, in which alone the power is found to accomplish the fulfilment of the righteousness of the law in us, and that our being reconciled to God, whose law we have violated,--the writing of His law on our hearts, so that it becomes to us a law of liberty, is the result of revealing to us our Father in our Lawgiver, and shewing us the law of the Lawgiver in its fountain in the Father's heart.

But while to reveal the Father in the Lawgiver is that which reconciles us to the Lawgiver, the only adequate statement of the high result accomplished, is, that it is reconciliation to the Father,--the quickening in us of the life of sonship. However high a conception it is that the "disobedient should be turned to the wisdom 337 of the just," that alone is commensurate with the excellence of the salvation granted to us which is conveyed by the words, "Following God as dear children walking in love."

As to the place now recognised as belonging to the fatherliness of God in the history of our redemption, viz., that it is the ultimate ground for faith, I would add to what I have urged above these two considerations: 1st, It is a special glory to God that the fatherliness, which originates our salvation, and determines its nature--that it shall be the life of sonship--is itself that in which the saving power resides. For, as we have seen, the Son of God saves us by a work whose essence and sum is the declaring of the Father's Name. A result so high, accomplished by the power over our spirits found to be in the Name of God,--that is to say in what God is, is manifestly the highest glory to God. No result referable to simple Almightiness could be the same glory. That God should by a miracle change a rebellious child into a loving child, would be no such glory to God, as that the knowledge of the fatherliness rebelled against, should, by virtue of the excellence inherent in that fatherliness, accomplish this result. "We love Him because He first loved us." The power to quicken love in us is here ascribed to the love with which God regards us, considered simply as love. For it clearly is not the meaning, that, because God loved us. He wrought a miracle of Almighty power to make us love Him. And do we not feel a special glory to accrue to the divine love from this, as the history of our love to God? a special glory which vanishes, whatever other manner of glory may be supposed to remain, the moment the fact of our loving God is resolved into a miracle of Almighty power. 2nd, But not only is this history of our being reconciled to God what is full of 338 glory to God. If we consider well we must see that our being reconciled to God must have this history. We have seen that the words "Lo, I come to do thy will, O God," indicate the difference between that blood of Christ which cleanseth from all sin, and the blood of bulls, and of goats, which could not take away sin. And so the Apostle, when illustrating this, goes on to say, "By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once." Our sanctification therefore is accomplished by the will of God as acting on our will by the moral and spiritual power of what that divine will is in itself. For the will of God, in order to be welcomed with that welcome which is holiness, i. e., the free consecration of our will, must be welcomed just because of WHAT IT IS.

This is a point which it is most important that we should see clearly. Nothing extraneous to the nature of the divine will itself to which we are to be reconciled, can have a part in reconciling us to that will. Fear of punishment, hope of reward, have here no place. However they may have been included in the history of our awakening to the importance of the relation in which our will stands to the divine will, they must go for nothing--they have ever been found to go for nothing--when the soul is alone with God, feeling itself under His searching eye, all its self-consciousness quickened by the realisation of the divine knowledge of its thoughts "when yet afar off." Simple earnestness, intense desire to be safe and assured of happiness, is then valued only at its true value; neither is itself deceivingly supposed to generate anything better than itself. In the light of God, all that springs from the desire of safety and happiness, is seen to continue but the desire of safety and happiness still; and this, though not wrong,--nay, though in a lower sense right, as the 339 working of an instinct in our being which God acknowledges, and which God addresses,--yet assuredly is not holiness, nor any approach to a delight in God's holy will. Nor, if we should, on any ground, have come to conclude that we are assured of the safety and happiness which we have desired, and, in consequence, should feel grateful to God for this great boon, is such gratitude, though a higher feeling than mere fear, or hope, to be recognised as holiness, or as what implies our being reconciled to God spiritually and truly.

At how great a distance from all oneness of will with the Holy God a human spirit may still be, even when esteeming itself saved, and thanking God for salvation, is most instructively illustrated by President Edwards, in his analysis of delusive appearances of conversion which had come under his own observation, occurring under the awakening power of much urging of the importance of salvation. But, indeed, clearly understood, the statement is felt to be self-evident, that the will of God must reconcile us to itself by the power of what it is, or not at all. Therefore that the Son reconciles us to the Father by revealing the Father, is not only a way of salvation full of glory to God, but is, in truth, the only possible way. So that our salvation would have been impossible had there not been in the heart of the Father what, being revealed to us, and brought to bear on our spirits, would reconcile us to Him, making His condemnation of our sin to become our own condemnation of it. His choice for us our own free choice for ourselves, His love the light of life to us, His fatherliness the quickening of sonship in us. There being that in God which was adequate to this result, our salvation was not only possible, but the way and manner, as well as the nature of our salvation, were thereby fixed and determined.


The Apostle John says, "And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world." I John iv. 14. I have had occasion above to notice the way in which the Divinity of the Saviour has been contemplated in relation to the atonement in the two forms of Calvinism; in the one as implying a capacity of infinite suffering, adequate because infinite; in the other, as giving infinite value to any suffering in respect of the dignity of the sufferer; instead of recognising the divinity of the sufferer as what has determined the nature of His sufferings, and has given them their moral and spiritual fitness to expiate sin and purge it away. There has not been the same result of positive error, but there has beyond doubt been great loss of light of truth, through an unwise resting of attention on the simple fact of the divinity of Christ, which has veiled the teaching of the words "the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world," chosen by the Apostle to express that light of eternal life in which He consciously was. Labour has been bestowed on proving the divinity of the persons thus spoken of in connexion with our salvation,--that the Father is God, that the Son is God--and the excellent dignity and importance of salvation have doubtless been in this way magnified. But the special teaching intended by the Apostle is clearly that which is received in contemplating the Father as the Father, and the Son as the Son. Thus considered, the statement that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world, sheds light on the whole scheme of redemption, its origin, its end, and that by which that end is accomplished.

Exclusive occupation with the personal dignity claimed for the Saviour by the name "the Son of God," has, indeed, had the general result of causing 341 men to lose the teaching contained in that name, so that it has suggested the greatness only of the love of God to man revealed in Christ, and not its manner and nature; and yet neither is its greatness known, while its nature is not understood. "In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him:" let the name "Son" here suggest to us what it has been intended to suggest, and the nature of the life which it has been intended that we should "live through Him" will be taught by it. "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins:" let the name "Son" here teach us what it should teach, and it will shed light upon that propitiation for sin which Christ is, and illustrate to us the relation of the life of sonship to the atonement,--the relation of the revelation of the Father by the Son to our being reconciled to God.

Fatherliness in God originating our salvation; the Son of God accomplishing that salvation by the revelation of the Father; the life of sonship quickened in us, the salvation contemplated: these are conceptions continually suggested by the language of scripture if we yield our minds to its natural force; and they are conceptions which naturally shed light on each other, and which, in their combined light, and contemplated together, so illustrate the nature of the atonement, as to impart a conviction like that produced by the internal light of axiomatic truth. Our Lord complains that He had come in His Father's name, and they had not received Him: yet as coming in the Father's name must He be ultimately received; any other reception is not the reception of the Son of God by which we become sons of God. "He came unto His own, and His own received


Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to be the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name." This those understand whose deepest conviction of having found salvation in Christ is as the experience of orphans who have found their long lost Father. For, corresponding to the yearning of the Father's heart over us, while yet in our sins, is the working of the misery of our orphan state as the ultimate contradiction to the original law of our being; some measure of conscious realisation of which misery is the truest preparation for receiving the gospel, being the first yielding to the teaching of the Father drawing us to the Son, who alone reveals the Father,--that in articulate groaning of our spirits to which Philip gave expression in saying, "Shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us."

It is justly held that the faith that there is a God, has a root in us deeper than all inferential argument, a root in relation to which all inferential argument is but, so to speak, complemental; owing its authority rather to that root than that root at all to it, though being what that root demands and prepares us to expect. And surely those who deal with men who are attempting to be atheists, act most wisely when they throw them back on this root of faith in God in their own inner being, instead of permitting a course of argument which allows their thoughts to run away to find without them what unless found within them will never be found at all. That this God, in whose existence we necessarily believe, is the Father of our spirits, is to be regarded as a further truth, the faith of which has a corresponding depth of root in us; and this I understand the Apostle to recognise in the use he makes, in preaching to the Athenians, of the expression as used by one of their own poets, "For we are also His offspring."


That one of their own poets had said so would have been no reason for assuming that they ought to have believed that it was so, and to have determined their manner of worshipping God accordingly, unless these words of the poet had been the utterance of a truth that was deep in all their hearts. In assuming, as I have been doing, a relation of men to God as the Father of spirits, antecedent to, and to be regarded as underlying their relation to Him as their moral governor, I have, in like manner, been calculating on a response from the depths of humanity. And it is in the hope of awakening that response into a distinct consciousness that I have proceeded in treating our relationship to God as the Father of our spirits, as the ultimate truth, in the light of which we are to see the scheme of our redemption, the Father's sending the Son to be the Saviour of the world. If we are in very truth God's offspring, if it is as the Father of our spirits that He regards us while yet in our sins, it accords with this that the Father should send the Son to save us, that the Son should propose to save us by the revelation of the Father, and that our salvation shall be participation in the life of sonship.

There is a corresponding witness of truth in the results which the faith of the atonement accomplishes. These in being the truth of sonship towards God and the truth of brotherhood toward men, deepen the conviction that it is the very truth of God that our faith is receiving.

1. Sonship quickened in us by the revelation of the fatherliness that is in God, is sonship in the true and natural sense of the expression. If our redemption has its origin in the feelings with which God regards us as the Father of our spirits, if the Son of God accomplishes our salvation by revealing the Father to us, 344 then is our salvation necessarily the truth of sonship. In living harmony with the light of life, drawn by the Father to the Son, knowing the Son as He is present in our inmost being--our true life, and ever seeking to be our actual life--yielding our hearts to Him to reign in them, "receiving with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save our souls," we call God "Father;" and the utterance is from us a true and natural and simple approach to the Father of our spirits, such as He desires, a speaking to Him according to the truth of what He is to us, the cherishing of an immediate direct confidence in His fatherly heart. For indeed our right confidence in the Father is direct, and is confidence in His fatherly heart towards us, as also is our confidence in the Son direct, viz., a direct confidence in Him as our proper life; which several manners of confidence we are to discriminate and to realise. For in the Son it is, and not apart from the Son, that we have the life of sonship; and as to exercise confidence in the Father is to confide in Him as our Father, so to exercise confidence in the Son is to welcome the life of sonship which we have in Him. And this is the manner of our being alive to God through Jesus Christ, and it is self-evidenced to my mind as the truth of sonship, as what and what alone we can believe to meet and satisfy that fatherliness in God which it presupposes, and by the revelation of which to our spirits by the Son it is quickened.

I cannot recognise this truth of sonship, in what, in connexion with the other conception of the atonement, is held as "adoption;" of which I desire to speak plainly, yet warily, knowing how much more difficult it is to do justice in the choice of one's words to the faith of others, than to one's own faith; and having, also, the awe on my spirit of the true savour of the life of 345 sonship, which it has been my privilege to meet in connexion with the form of thought on this subject which yet I feel constrained to reject.

The adoption of us as sons, as superadded to justification by faith, no element of sonship being present in the faith that justifies us, nor exercise of fatherliness contemplated as an element in the divine acceptance of us, the adoption itself a boon bestowed upon us in connexion with the imputation of Christ's merits to us,--this is a manner of sonship as to which it is obvious that the confidence with which we may so think of ourselves as sons of God, and draw near to Him expecting to be acknowledged as such, is no direct trust in a Father's heart at all, no trust in any feeling in God of which, we are personally the objects as His OFFSPRING, but is in reality a trust in the judicial grounds on which the title and place of sons is granted to us.

I know that it is held that, when in connexion with the faith that justifies, God bestows on us the adoption of sons, He gives us also the spirit of sonship, that we may have the spiritual reality as well as the name and standing. But the spirit of sonship is the spirit of truth, the Son himself is the truth--"I am the way, the truth, and the life." That the Son should say, "I am the way"--"no man cometh unto the Father but by me," teaches us that sonship alone deals with fatherliness as fatherliness; that we must come to God as sons, or not come at all. On this co-relativeness of sonship and fatherliness, I have dwelt above. So also that He should say, "I am the life," fixes our faith on Him as our proper life, according to "the testimony of God, that God has given to us eternal life, and that this life is in His Son,"--but that He should say, and say in humanity, "I am the truth," teaches us, that not only is it the case that to come 346 near to the Father we must come near in the Son, and that the life of sonship is the life to which we are called, but, besides, that to come to God in the Son, and so to come to Him as sons, is, and alone is, in harmony with THE TRUTH of our relation to God.

I have in some measure anticipated this contrast between sonship towards God, as quickened in us by the revelation to us of the Father by the Son, and sonship conceived of as added to our legal standing of justified persons, through the imputation to us of Christ's merits, when noticing above the practical difficulty of harmonising, in conscious experience, two manners of confidence, so opposite in their nature, as a legal confidence, on the ground of the imputation to us of a perfect righteousness, and a filial confidence such as the faith of a Father's heart is fitted to quicken. In truth, the assumed filial confidence, being cherished in this dependence on the legal confidence, and the fatherliness conceived of being, not a desire of the heart of God going forth towards us as His offspring, to which sonship is the true and right response, but the divine acknowledgment of a standing granted to us according to the arrangement assumed, though our conception of the mercy and grace of which we assume ourselves to be the objects may still be high, the true and simple feeling of dealing with a Father's heart is altogether precluded.

But thus to think of the intercourse with God which eternal life implies, as resting for its peace and security on another ground than its own essential nature;--to think of sonship as cherished freely otherwise than as the natural response to the Father's heart, to think of the Father as rejoicing in this sonship as present in us otherwise than as the Father;--to feel that the prodigal son feels secure in the 347 welcome of his forgiving father on any other ground than the fatherly forgiveness itself which has embraced him, falling on his neck and kissing him;--to feel that the father is justified in his own eyes, or would justify himself in the eyes of the rest of his family, in the gracious welcome which he accords to the returning prodigal, on any other ground than that which he expresses when he says, "My son was dead, and is alive again;"--to suppose that the filial standing must rest on a legal standing, and that all this intercourse between the Father of spirits and His redeemed offspring must be justified by the imputation to them of Christ's righteousness, and that this reality of communion with the Father and the Son must be reconciled, in this way of at least seeming fiction, with the moral government of God, instead of recognising that communion itself as what is the highest fulfilment of moral government, and the ultimate and perfect justification of all the means which God has employed in bringing it to pass: these are thoughts which can have no place in the light in which the Apostle says--"It became Him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings."

The natural character now claimed for the consciousness of sonship as belonging to our communion with God in Christ,--that is to say, that it shall be felt the due response to the Father's heart, and not the mere using of a privilege and right graciously conferred upon us, corresponds with, or, I should rather say, is one with, the self-evidencing character claimed above for justifying faith.

The liberty to call God Father, which we feel in the light of the revelation of the Father to us by the Son, we in that light cannot but feel: for in that light 348 we not only apprehend the divine fatherliness, through the perfect response of sonship yielded to it by the Son of God in humanity, and, at the same time, the sonship itself, which is that response, but we have this apprehension necessarily with a personal reference to ourselves.

How important this statement is--assuming its truth--those will feel who are acquainted with the questionings on the subject of adoption by which the most earnest and deeply exercised spirits have been most tried, while their right to call God Father has been conceived of by them as turning upon the previous question of their justification through imputation of Christ's righteousness, and that again upon the soundness of the faith from which justification has been expected. What is here taught is that to call God Father, and draw near to Him in the confidence of sonship, is simply to conform to, and walk in, the light of life which shines to us in Christ.

Assuredly that word from heaven--"This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear ye Him"--each man that hears is called to hear as a word addressed to himself,--a revelation of a will in God in relation to him. This is not to be questioned. Why is this divine sonship manifested in humanity? Why, brother man, is our attention called to it? Why are we told of the Father's being pleased in the Son, and in this connexion bade to "hear the Son?" Surely the fatherliness thus presented to our faith is fatherliness in which we are interested, for surely it is interested in us--has desires with reference to us; and surely the sonship on which our attention is thus fixed concerns us, yea, can be nothing else than the very condition of humanity which these desires of the Father contemplate and seek for us. Therefore when we 349 are turned to the kingdom of God within us,--when that spiritual constitution of things, which the words that have raised our eyes to the Father, and our hopes to sonship, have pre-supposed, is revealed to our spiritual apprehension;--when we know "that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world," as these words state a condition of things with the advantages of which we are encompassed, and the truth and reality of which is to be known by us in our own inner being;--when that testimony of the Father to the Son, and of the Son to the Father, which pervades the Scriptures, is known by us as also in ourselves: then what is contemplated by the call addressed to us--"Hear ye Him," is understood by us;--we understand how, in the love of the Father of our spirits, the Son, in whom the Father is well pleased, has in Him the life of sonship for us, and how, through Him, and in Him, we also may be sons in whom the Father shall be well pleased.

Thus are the outward preaching of the kingdom of God, and the revelation of that kingdom within us, known in their unity, in the experience of salvation; and the light shining in the Scriptures and the light shining in man are known as one light,--at once universal and individual, as is the nature of light. When I hear, in the most general reference to men, the words "God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son,"--"This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear ye Him,"--I hear what connects me in my own thoughts, as by a revelation of truth, with the fatherliness that is in God the Father, and the sonship that is in the Son of God; and so, still, as the light of life dawns on me, and brightens, and I become a child of light and of the day, when I know, in my own inner being, the Father drawing me to the Son, and the Son moving and quickening 350 in me the cry, Abba, Father, and have the illustration of a personal experience shed upon the words of Christ--"No man knoweth the Son but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him;" still the fatherliness that is thus calling me to sonship, the sonship that is enabling to respond to that fatherliness,--I know as one receiving knowledge of the truth of things; my experience is that of conforming to what is a revelation to me at once of God and of man,--that is to say, as I am a man, of myself. In obeying I am obedient to the truth. I do not--I should say, I dare not--doubt the voice of that fatherliness by which I am drawn to the Son, or doubt that the Son is revealed to me by the teaching of the Father for this very end, that I may know the desire and choice of the Father of my spirit for me. I do not--I dare not--doubt the light of that sonship, or that the Son is truly teaching me, as well as lovingly teaching me, how it is right for me to feel towards the Father of my spirit,--the response to His heart which accords with the truth of what that heart is in relation to me. I do not ask, "Have I exercised a faith in Christ which has justified me, and am I certain that that faith is so sound as to warrant me to believe that now I am a child of God, and entitled to call Him Father?" I am exercising a faith to which it is a contradiction to doubt the fatherliness of my Father, or the welcome that awaits me in coming to Him as a child. I am exercising a faith in which it is impossible for me to be disobedient to the Son, quickening the cry, Abba, Father, in my spirit.

I have been at pains, in relation to justification by faith, to shew how faith excludes boasting; not by any artificial arrangement, nor at all by denying to the faith itself the attribute of righteousness, but, on the contrary, 351 because it is itself the true righteousness, and that boasting is impossible in that light of the truth into which faith introduces; for in faith we are beholding the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, and no flesh shall glory in His sight. I would add here, that the life of sonship, as now represented as quickened in us, excludes boasting.

That faith is trust in God, as He is revealed in Christ, excludes, as we have seen, boasting, and makes the righteousness of faith to be the opposite of self-righteousness;--that this faith apprehends the fatherliness of God, and that its responsive trust is sonship, this yet more and more excludes boasting. The trust of a child in a Father's heart is just the perfect opposite of a self-righteous trust; for it is a going back to the fountain of our being,--a dealing with that interest in us which was before we did good or evil; and, as cherished by us sinners towards God, against whom we have sinned, such trust deals with fatherliness as what has survived our sins; so that our trust, so far from being self-righteous, implies, commences with the confession of sin. Doubtless this trust is in itself holy--the mind of the Son; but it is not on that account less lowly,--less remote from boasting. Are we not, in cherishing it, "learning of Him who is meek and lowly in heart"?

There is, indeed, a further exclusion of boasting, in the consciousness that it is in the Son that we are approaching the Father,--that He, who made atonement for our sins, and brought into humanity the everlasting righteousness of sonship, is not the mere pattern of our life, but is Himself that life in us in which we are able to confess our sins, and to call God Father;--that He is the vine, that we are the branches. But I feel it important that we should realise that in 352 its own nature, and apart from its derived character as existing in us, the confidence of sonship is essentially and necessarily the opposite of self-righteousness.

I the more insist upon this, while also desirous to fix attention on that deepest sense of dependence on Christ, which, in knowing Him as our life, our spirits prove, because I believe, that the whole attraction to conscience which has been found in the conception of an imputation of Christ's merits to us, has been its seeming fitness to secure the result of a peace with God free from self-righteousness, and which shall be really a trust in God and not in ourselves; the doing away with what Luther calls, "The monstrous idea of human merit, which must by all means be beat down;" and in reference to which he values the law as "a hammer with which to break it in pieces." This right result, essential to the glory of God in us, and to our being in harmony with the truth of things in the attitude of our spirits towards God, the truth of the life of sonship in us secures, and alone can secure.

Nay more, the life of sonship is not only the purest and simplest trust in the heart of the Father, but its nature is, because of the experience which it implies, to be a continually growing trust in God. I must see a Father's heart in God towards me before I can call Him Father; but, in calling Him Father, the consciousness which comes with so doing, is itself a fresh proof to me that He is my Father, and that in so believing I am not welcoming a cunningly devised fable; and thus progress in the life of sonship is not the coming to have a new ground of confidence towards God, but an experience which enables us to "hold fast the beginning of our confidence" more and more firmly. Experience, in calling God Father in spirit and in truth, becomes a source of increased freedom in doing so; not because 353 it has created any further or fresh title to do so, for it has not, but because the rightness that is in this mind towards God, its harmony with the truth of our relation to Him, and the glory which it gives to Him, become clearer to us in that increased light as to what it is to follow God as dear children, which is implied in the experience of doing so.

And, as this holds true as to our trust in the Father, so also, as to our trust in Christ as our life, all experience of life in abiding in Him as a branch in the vine, only developes into deeper consciousness the sense of dependence upon Him, shutting us up to so abiding for all expectation of well being; for the more I know what it is to be able to say, ''I live, yet not I, but Christ in me," the more simple, and absolute, and continuous will be my living by Him. The mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, being thus experimentally known as our fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ, abounds, the fulfilment of God's purpose in us enlightens us more and more in that purpose, and thereby deepens our faith in it as His purpose.

I do not feel that the ground for faith, which is thus found in the experience of faith, has been sufficiently valued, especially when the object has been to save us from looking for a ground of peace in ourselves. We cannot be too jealous of looking to self, if we rightly discriminate. But beyond all question, eternal life experienced must have its own proper consciousness; and the apprehension of it as given in Christ, and the consciousness of receiving it, and being alive in it as a conscious life, must be trusted to to exclude self-righteousness, as light excludes darkness, and not otherwise.

It seems to me that Luther, notwithstanding his 354 high estimate of the righteousness that is in faith, and notwithstanding the power to prevail with God which he recognises as being in the feeblest utterance of the cry "Father," has not given its true place to the subjective experience of the life of sonship. I have felt justified in saying above, that the great Reformer was the preacher of justification by faith, according to a truer and stricter meaning of the expression than it has had, or could have had, in the teaching of those who have not understood as he did, either that condition of things which the gospel reveals to our faith, and which by its very nature excludes boasting, or that excellent glory which God has in the faith which apprehends and trusts God, according to the revelation of Himself which He has granted to us in Christ, and in the exercise of which our souls "make their boast in God." The difference is indeed broad and unmistakeable between the faith that would correspond with the revelation of a work of Christ performed on behalf of an elected number, by which he purchased and secured for them certain benefits to be in due time imparted to them,--according to the teaching of Dr. Owen and President Edwards; or the faith that would correspond with the modified Calvinism, which preaches a work of Christ for all men, by which a foundation has been laid on which God may righteously proceed in dispensing benefits to those who will receive them on that footing; and that faith to which Luther called men, when he proclaimed a work of Christ by which He had redeemed us, even all men, "from the law and death and all evils," and procured for us the adoption of sons, so that we are not under the law, but under grace, and are called to believe, directly and personally, and with appropriation to ourselves, because it is so in truth, that Christ is the Father's gift to us, that He is made 355 of God unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. For, however far Luther is from shedding light on the nature of the atonement, however little of the spiritual light which he had himself, he has imparted to us in an intellectual form which we can understand, and however startling, and incapable of acceptance according to their sound, are the expressions of which he makes choice in speaking of the relation to our sin, into which Christ came in working out our redemption; these things in him are very clear, viz., that he saw the Father in the Son, and therefore had confidence towards God, because of what he thus saw God to be; and that he saw Christ, and in Him all things pertaining to life and to godliness, as the gift of God to men, to all men, to every man:--so that he neither spoke of God as having come under an obligation to do certain things for an unknown some; nor as having put it in His own power righteously to extend mercy to all who would receive it on the ground on which it was offered; but as having already done the greatest thing for all men, and as calling upon all men to believe and enter upon the enjoyment of what He had done.

Yet while Luther's teaching has all the superiority which is implied in a truer conception of what is presented to our faith, as well as the advantage of a juster appreciation of the excellent nature of faith viewed in itself, it seems to me, as compared with the teaching of the Apostles, wanting in its setting forth of that to which the gospel calls man; a defect which, in reference to the twofold revelation in Christ, the revelation of fatherliness, and of sonship, may be expressed by saying, that his preaching is more a setting forth of the fatherliness in which we are to trust, than of the sonship to which we are called. Luther keeps before the mind


God as He is revealed to be trusted in,--trusted in at this moment, by those who have never trusted in Him before; rather than the contemplated life of Christ in us, in the conscious experience of which we are to grow day by day in the assurance of faith and free life of sonship. I do not at all mean that Luther would deny the soundness of all such increase of freedom, assuming it to be indeed that which has now been spoken of, viz., increased trust in God, and in His Christ, through the experience of trusting; but that this he does not set forth or dwell on. Therefore, while the history of his own first peace in God is, most profitably for us, present in all his commending of the gospel and putting away of the law, there is still in his renewed urging of the difficulty of trusting in Christ in seasons of deep realisation of our sins, a contrast, and, to my mind, an instructive contrast, to the calm consciousness of being living the new eternal life which breathes in such words as these, "We know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true, and we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life."

There is a state of mind in relation to the view now taken of the sonship quickened in us in faith, which it is right here to notice. The character of salvation as now represented, as what is accomplished in us by our being "brought out of darkness into God's marvellous light,'' it is felt difficult to harmonise with the greatness of the change which has come to pass in those who are saved, both as respects the condition of their own being, and their relation to God. It is asked, "If God is the Father of our spirits antecedent to our faith in Christ, and that the gospel reveals Him as our Father, how does the Apostle say--'In this are the 357 children of God manifest, and the children of the devil'? And how, when the Jews said, 'God is our Father,' did the Lord seem to deny that it was so?--'If God were your Father ye would love me . . . ye are of your father the devil.' " The harmony between the abiding truth of our relation to God as we are all His offspring, and the oppositeness of the conditions of our being, which are by choice of our own will, according as we receive the light of Christ or believe the devil's lie, not being understood, it is felt that the expressions used in relation to those who are alive to God through faith in Christ, cannot have their truth simply in the spiritual conformity of these individual men, with a relation of all men to God, and a constitution of things in Christ which embraces all men; and therefore the gospel is received only as a revelation of a willingness in God to become our Father, and so a manifestation of the highest benevolence, but not the revelation of the interest of the Father of our spirits in us as His offspring.

In consistency with this conception of the gospel, it is held that in such discourses of our Lord as that recorded in the 5th, 6th, and 7th chapters of the Gospel of Matthew, the use of the name "Father," on which I have dwelt above as a part of our Lord's coming to men in His Father's name, is not to be understood as a claim made for God, and the setting forth of the conception of God with which men ought to approach Him, but as assuming faith and justification and adoption; so that to say, "When ye pray, say. Our Father," was not to teach men what they were to believe God already to be, but what He would become if they believed: so also that to say, "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy


Spirit to them that ask Him?" was not intended by our Lord to be understood as the proclaiming of a will in God to impart His Spirit to all, because He was the Father of the spirits of all flesh, but only of such a will as to those who had become His children by faith.

If it were only meant that our acting on such teaching implies faith, and that we only truly pray the Lord's prayer in the measure in which we receive the Son to reign in our hearts, there would be in this no more than a most needed warning,--seeing the great self-deception connected with the use of that prayer in a way of mere fleshly repetition of it, void of all life of sonship. But this is not what is meant; and so the parable of the prodigal son, on which so much weight has now been laid, is denied to be a preaching of the gospel, or a revelation of the interest with which God regards men--all men--while yet in their sins; its comfort being reduced to what, in consistency, can only be offered to men on the assumption that they have been adopted through faith, and are such as only need to be encouraged to return to their first love.

But while I notice this state of mind, and do so in much sympathy with the deep sense which it implies of the great issues involved in passing from death to life, I do not do so with the purpose of attempting to offer any help in relation to it, that has not been presented already in these pages. To my mind the expression of which I have made so much use--"My son was dead, and is alive again, both accords with the great change that faith implies, vindicating the strongest language in which its important results are ever expressed, and also fully recognises our original and abiding relation to God as the Father of our spirits.

But while some feel as if it were taking from the sense of salvation with which they themselves call God


Father as believing in Christ, thus to regard Him as the Father of the spirits of all flesh, others can testify, that the perfect freedom of sonship has only been attained by them in seeing the heart of the heavenly Father towards all men, to be revealed in Christ, and the life of sonship manifested in Christ to be the fulfilment of the divine purpose in themselves, because it is the fulfilment of the divine purpose in man.

I have just noticed the increased freedom in living the life of sonship, and increased assurance of being in the light of God, which comes through the actual experience of a true and living Christianity. Now, while this is, in one view, personal, it is in another view only a deeper certainty of knowledge as to the will of God in relation to all men, and the "common salvation." It is the record that God has given to us, that is, to men, eternal life, and that this life is in His Son, which he that believeth hath in himself. Therefore is the Christian a living Epistle of the grace of God.

The progress of mind often experienced in relation to the gospel is very instructive. Some who have at one time contemplated the atonement as having reference to an elected number, and have then felt that their own personal hold of salvation would be weakened if Christ had died for all men, have afterwards come to see, that they could never have felt intelligently certain that Christ had died for them, excepting as that fact was included in the fact that He had died for all men; and the unsatisfactory shifts had recourse to, in the attempt to combine a free preaching of Christ with a limited atonement, have become very palpable to them, and they have wondered how, saying, that, "though Christ had died only for some, He was freely offered to all," could ever have been received by them as an adequate foundation for an appropriating and personal 360 faith. And so, as to the results of the work of redemption,--what we are called to apprehend as true antecedent to our faith,--what the statement "that God has given to us eternal life, and that this life is in His Son" amounts to,--many are for a time satisfied with the apprehension of a mercy in God embracing them, such as Christ's death for their sins implies,--a will in God to bestow benefits on them through Christ, who afterwards come to see, that a relation to them more internal to their own being, is alike implied in the language of Scripture, and required by their need,--if indeed they are to be alive to God through faith in Jesus Christ. They, therefore, welcome that fuller light of truth which at once reveals to them a gulf as left between them and Christ by the simple fact of an atonement external to their own being, and that gulf as done away with in the actual nearness of Christ to their spirits,--His presence in them as their true life. For they now understand the teaching of the Father, and His drawing of us to the Son, as what is in the Spirit, and not in the Scriptures only, and as what directs us to Christ, as He is present in our inner being, there where the sap of the vine passes into the branch--a present life to be welcomed or rejected--the ingrafted, in-breathed word, which is able to save our souls. To this presence of Christ in us is the testimony of God, "that He has given to us eternal life, and that this life is in His Son," now known to refer. And as now the literal spiritual truth of the testimony that God has given this gift, and brought it into the needed nearness--and if He had not, how should we?--is apprehended, so now also the manner of the teaching of the Son, the manner of His shewing us the Father, is understood. For it is found that, according as we receive the testimony of the Father to the Son, and, in obedience of 361 faith, receive the Son as our true life, and in Him call God Father, the divine fatherliness becomes known by us as it can be known to sonship alone. For as, in respect of the natural relation which typifies the spiritual, where a father and his children are present together, with others also not his offspring, the children alone--yea, the children who know that they look upon their father, see--with the eyes of the heart--see a father; so also in the higher region in which we now are, the Son enables us, God's offspring, to see our heavenly Father, when, receiving Christ as our life, we in Him raise to the Father the eyes and the heart of true sonship.

In thus receiving and obeying the testimony of the Father to the Son, and, in consequence, knowing the Father as the Son knows Him, and gives us to know Him, is the deepest manner of experience of that word--"The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him, and He will shew them His covenant."

But let us be clear as to the elements of our consciousness when this is our conscious history. We have not, by any movement of our own being, caused this drawing of the Father; we have only yielded to it;--neither have we by any movement of our being brought the Son thus near to us. He was thus near to us even when we knew it not. Only under the teaching of God we have Christ revealed in us the hope of glory. The mystery hid from ages and generations is made known to us. Therefore, understanding the nature of the grace of which we find ourselves the objects, we recognise it as that gracious kingdom of God within us which the gospel proclaims. We find our feet in a large place,--we are consciously in circumstances to receive and obey the word of Christ, "Abide in me;" the personality of these circumstances in relation to us, 362 not being less, nor the importance of the issues that depend on the faith of them less either, because the grace in which we stand is the "common salvation." And, like the man, who at one time felt that to believe that Christ had died for all would weaken His own conscious hold of salvation, but who has subsequently understood that unless Christ died for all there was no certainty that He had died for him; so, if we ever felt a distinctive and elective character in the divine drawing which draws to Christ, and a distinctive and elective character in Christ teaching us to call God Father, an element in our religious peace, we now find the stability and depth of that peace to consist in the unindividual, the universal character of that testimony of the Father to the Son, and of that testimony of the Son to the Father, in which we are rejoicing with an individual and personal hearing and obedience of faith. Surely that others refuse God's teaching no more affects my certainty that I am receiving the light of truth in welcoming that teaching, than that others are refusing Christ, for whom He died as truly as for me, affects my peace in trusting in His death for me. Nay, that the voice of the Eternal Wisdom to which I listen, is "unto the sons of men," and to me individually, just as I am one of the sons of men, is one element in my certainty that it is the voice of God.

It is a remarkable and instructive fact, that the experience that the faith of a work of Christ without us, which left us without the knowledge of a presence and power of Christ within us, was inadequate to sustain the intelligent purpose of living the life of sonship,--and that the recognition of a nearer relation to Christ was needed,--has been to some the attraction of the doctrine of baptismal regeneration; the spiritual change in our inner being, so conceived of, seeming to 363 supply that living link with Christ which has been felt to be necessary to our living by Him, and which the fact of the relation of Christ's work to all men did not provide. Yet the difference between a spiritual relation to Christ as our life, revealed in the preached gospel, and made known to us as a spiritual reality in our own inner being by the divine teaching, (the drawing of us to the Son by the Father,) and such a relation as coming into existence in connexion with the ordinance of baptism, and subsequently assumed in a way of faith in that ordinance, is one of the greatest possible amount and greatest possible importance.

Christian baptism is into "the name of God, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit." It relates to a gospel proclaiming that name. It is administered to those capable of intelligent apprehension of the gospel, as believing in that name as the true name of God, and that in the light of which they see their relations to Him. Its administration to infants is only understandable on the assumption that they are already interested in that name of God, and that parents and ministers of Christ know them to be so, and are justified in bringing them up in the faith of that name as the true name of God. But that we should find in our baptism more than is in the name into which we have been baptised, and that "more," that spiritual relation to Christ in the light of which we can alone hear and respond to the call to follow God as dear children; this is, in effect, to believe about baptism that which would make it a contradiction of that name of God into which we are baptised. For to say that baptism brings us into the needed spiritual relation to Christ as our life, is to say, that we were not in it antecedently to baptism, that the grace which the gospel reveals to our faith has not amounted to this; that is to say, that we 364 might know the name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and yet not feel in possession of the light of life.

I would not have risked any distraction of thought by the notice of this subject here, were it not for the preciousness in my apprehension of that sense of the need of a personal relation to Christ, with which to begin to live to God, which the doctrine of baptismal regeneration at once recognises and misdirects. As to the more usual objection to the doctrine of baptismal regeneration, viz., that it hinders the sense of the necessity of being personally alive to God as alone a condition of justifiable peace; I do not see how it is possible for any thoughtful mind to feel at rest in the contemplation of a fact of this kind, whatever it may be believed to have implied, while that fact has been common to the history of all the baptised, and has not hindered any subsequent manner or measure of evil. No man can believe that baptism has secured his salvation: at the utmost it can only be conceived of as placing the human spirit in a higher spiritual condition; which, if it implies the capacity of higher good, implies also that of greater evil--a deeper fall. And so all who believe in baptismal regeneration, whether Romanists or Protestants, would speak of it.

2. What affects the conception we form of the sonship towards God to which the gospel calls us, must in a corresponding way affect our conception of that consciousness of brotherhood with man to which we are also called. The light of truth in which I see God as my Father, is the light in which I see men as my brethren. If, on the other hand, the gospel does not reveal God to me as my Father, neither does it reveal men to me as my brethren.

I have considered above that fulfilment of the 365 righteousness of the law, which takes place in us when we walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit, and which the Apostle represents as the result which God contemplated when He sent His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and as a sacrifice for sin, and so condemned sin in the flesh; and I then illustrated its relation to sonship as the law of the spirit of the life that was in Christ, in which the power was found to make free from the law of sin and death. The righteousness of the law is to love men as well as to love God; and its fulfilment therefore implies love to men as well as love to God. But the life of love which we have in Christ, which is sonship towards God, is, in being so, brotherhood towards men; and as it is in being sonship that it fulfils the first commandment, so it is in being brotherhood that it fulfils the second commandment. Therefore, as it is true that until we know God as our Father, we cannot love Him with all our heart, and mind, and soul, and strength; so is it also true that until we know men as our brethren, we cannot love our neighbours as ourselves.

We know when the question was put to our Lord, by one willing to justify himself by the law, "who is my neighbour?" how our Lord answered. Let us not under the gospel be found asking, "who is my brother?" or coming to conclusions as to the answer of that question which will leave us in the position of finding, that some are our neighbours who are not our brethren: for to find a neighbour who is not a brother, is to find a neighbour whom I cannot love as I love myself; for unless I can feel towards him as towards a brother, unless in the life of brotherhood given to me in Christ, I can see him with the eyes of a brother, and love him with the heart of a brother, I cannot love him in spirit and in truth as I love myself.


It thus more and more appears that the question as to the nature of the atonement is in truth nothing else than the question, 'what is Christianity?' It is so, as we have seen, as to the God-ward aspect of the eternal life given to us in Christ. It is so, we now see, as to the man-ward aspect of that life also. In contemplating the eternal life in Christ as taking the form of the atonement, the outcoming of love has been seen to be one and the same thing as sonship towards God and brotherhood towards man; and all that has been presented to our faith as entering into the work of Christ, has appeared to have been equally called for by love to God and by love to man,--a self-sacrifice which was at once devotedness to God and devotedness to man. The eternal life being unchanging in its nature, it follows, as urged above, that what it was in Christ as an atonement, it will be in us as salvation. Therefore Christ, as the Lord of our spirits, and our life, devotes us to God and devotes us to men in the fellowship of His self-sacrifice.

This He does in giving us to know God as our Father and men as our brethren. Seen in the light of God, our state of sin, and life of self, is solitary in all aspects of it. In it we are ''orphans of the heart," brotherless as well as fatherless: for in it the life of true brotherhood is as unknown in relation to man as that of true sonship is in relation to God. ''God setteth the solitary in families." This is accomplished for us spiritually in our passing from death unto life, "for by this we know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death." Christ gives us to possess, not God only, but men also as our riches, the unsearchable riches which we have in Him. But, I say, in doing so He is, at the same time, devoting us to


God and to men, in the fellowship of His self-sacrifice. He thus calls us to poverty, in calling us to the true riches; calls us to have nothing, in calling us to possess all things; and thus the pearl of great price, which is given us without money and without price, while it is above all price, is yet that of which it is said, that a man must sell all that he has, that he may buy that pearl. If I am to be rich in the consciousness of having God as my Father, this must be in that entire devotion of my being to Him which is in loving the Lord my God, with all my heart, and mind, and soul, and strength. If I am to be rich in the consciousness of having men as my brethren, it must be in loving my neighbour as myself.

Here it may occur, that though to say, that Christ gives me God as my Father, has indeed a gospel sound, this is not felt equally as to the statement that He gives me men as my brethren. Yet are the gifts related, inseparably connected; their bond being the relation of the second commandment to the first. No doubt the difference, and more especially the immediate difference, between these gifts is very great in all views, but especially in this, that, by the latter, Christ lays a weight upon me, the burden of others; while, by the former. He lays my burden on God, enabling me to cast all my cares upon Him, knowing that He careth for me. Yet it is an obvious comfort here that the burden of others, which He lays upon me, being truly borne by me, becomes a part of that burden which He enables me to cast upon God.

But that we may see the whole transaction in both its parts, that which refers to our relation to men, as well as that which refers to our relation to God--as one grace, we must see it in the light of that word, "He that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he 368 love God whom he hath not seen." In the life of love which we have in Christ, not only will God have His proper preciousness to us, but men also will have theirs--as was Christ's own case. Love will go out to men as well as to God, though its goings out may be, in the one case, with sorrow and anguish of spirit, while in the other, it is with peace and joy. Neither can we know the fellowship of our Lord's peace and joy, as what belong to the life which we have in Him in the one aspect of it, while we refuse to share with Him the sorrow and anguish which pertain to His life in the other aspect of it. If we refuse to be in Christ the brothers of men, we cannot be in Christ the sons of God. This is in another form of words our Lord's teaching, when He says, "If ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses." We must die to self in the fellowship of the death of Christ, if we would live to God; and, so dying as to live to God, we shall live to each other also.

Self is essential and necessary solitude, with what ever society and shew of social life it may encompass itself. In the inmost circle of our being we abide alone, until, in the death of self, the life of God is quickened. Then God becomes the centre which self was while yet we were as gods to ourselves, and then the harmony of the first and second commandment is known by us. We find that Christ, in reconciling us to God, has reconciled us to men; and though comfort, and peace, and joy alone come out of the former of these results of His love, and sorrow, and vexation of spirit, yea, fellowship in Christ's own sorrow, may come abundantly out of its latter result, yet, even as to this latter, the sorrow is not unmixed. If the afflictions of Christ abound in us, our consolation, even as respects men, shall also abound through Christ; and if men are 369 a weight upon our spirits, and a deep and constant sorrow as they never were before, yet shall we know now, as we could not before, the fellowship of the joy that is in heaven over sinners that repent; and, in the communion of saints, shall know what man can be to man when met together in the pure light and life of the divine love. While as to the hope set before us we know, that united to men by the bond of that love in which Christ died for them, our fellowship in His death will prove the seed and earnest of fellowship in His joy in that ultimate result in which He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied.

Self is most unwilling to die, and can gather around it so many sweetenings of life in the form of social relations, which give a certain superficial sense of communion of heart and mind without touching its (self's) life at the core, that we need not marvel that the call to deny self, and take up the cross of Christ, is resisted so long as only the sacrifice required is realised, and not also the exceeding gain that is to come through that sacrifice; and of this gain nothing is, I think, less anticipated than what is found in the new aspect which our brother men will present to us, and the sense of eternal life that accompanies that new interest of love which they will have to us in the fellowship of Christ's love to them, and which will take the place of that self-reference with which they were formerly regarded;--though broken, it might be, by occasional outbursts of kindly and generous feeling--grapes, as it were, from the land of promise tasted in the wilderness, but yet their promise not believed. Would that these outcomings of a better nature were traced up to their ultimate source in the depths of our being, and, instead of the passing comfort and satisfaction which in their present form is all they usually yield, were employed as 370 threads to lead us back, through the labyrinth of our outward life, to meet and know Him within us--the Lord of our spirits--who came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and give His life a ransom for many, and who would teach us the life of self-sacrifice, with all its peculiar and proper sorrows, doubtless, but also with all its peculiar and proper joys. Nay, have not the bitterest sorrows proper to that life a root of sweetness in them which renders them better, more to be chosen than other joys?

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