Relationship with His People
Chapter 34: Mediator of the Covenant of Grace
Syllabus for Lec. 39, 40 & 41:
1. What is the meaning of the word Mediator? Why needed in the Covenant of Grace?
Lexicons. Turrettin, Loc. 13., Qu. 3. Dick, Lect. 51.
2. Is Jesus of Nazareth the Promised Mediator? Against Jews.
Turrettin, Qu. I, 2. Homeís Introduction, Vol. 1., (Am. Ed.) Append 9, 6.
3. What is the constitution of Christís person? State the doctrine of the Gnostics, Eutychians, Nestorians and Chalcedon hereon. What the results, in the mediational person and acts, of this hypostatic union?
Hillís Div., bk. 3, ch. 8. Turrettin, Qu. 6, 7, 8. Church Histories, especially Gieselerís, Vol. 1. 42Ė45, and 86Ė88. Neanderís, Vol. ii p. 434, etc. Torreyís Tr. Dick, Lect. 53. Conf. of Faith, ch. 8. Ridgeley, Qu. 37. Dr. Wm. Cunninghumís, Hist. Theology, ch. 10.
4. Was Christís human nature peccable?
Plumer, "Person and Sinless Character of Christ." Hodge, Theol., Vol. 1. p. 457. Schaff s Person of Christ. Dornerís Hist. Prot. Theology.
5. Does Christ perform His mediatorial offices in both Natures? Why was each necessary?
Turrettin, Qu. 3, and Loc. 14., Qu. 2., Calvinís Inst., bk. 1., ch. 12. Dick, Lect. 51, 53. Ridgeley, Qu. 38Ė40. Turrettin, Loc. 13., Qu. 9.
6. What is the Socinian new of the necessity of Christís Prophetic Work?
Turrettin, Loc. 1., Qu. 4. Stapfer, ch 12, Sect. 18Ė25, and 122, etc.
7. Is there any other mediator between God and man, than Jesus Christ (Against Papists)?
For Papal view, see Council of Trent. Session 25. Cat. Rom. pt. iii, ch. 2, Qu. 4Ė7, pt. 4, ch. 6. Bellarmineís Controversies. Densí Theol. Danielís Thesaurus Hymn, Vol. 1, p. 241, Vol. 2, p. 133. Missale Romanum passim Turrettin Loc. 14., Qu. 4. Ridgley Qu. 36. Essay (15th) on Romanism Presb. Bd. Dick Lect. 59.
8. How was Christ inducted into His office?
Dick, Lect. 54. Turrettin, Loc. 14., Qu. 6, and Loc. 13., Qu. 12 Ridgley.
9. How many of offices does Christ fulfill as Mediator, and why these?
Turrettin, Loc. 14., Qu 1. Dick, Lect. 54. Calv. Inst. bk. ii ch. 15. Ridgley, Qu. 43. Conf. of Faith, ch. 8.
10. Prove that Christ is Prophet. Under how many Periods and Modes did He fulfill this office?
Turrettin, Loc. 14. Qu. 7. Dick, Lect. 54, 55. Ridgley, Qu. 43.
11. Prove that Christ is truly a Priest. What the several Parts of a Priestís Functions? What the peculiarities of Christís priesthood?
Turrettin, Loc. 14., Qu. 8, 9. Dick, Lect. 56. Anselm, Cur Deus Homo , Pt. 1., ch. 12, and 13. Ridgley, Qu. 44, 1, 2. "The Atonement," by Rev. Hugh Martin, ch. 3. Hodgeís Theo., vol. 2, pt. iii, ch. 6.
12. Prove against Socinians, etc., the Necessity of Satisfaction, in order to Remission of Sin.
Turrettin, Loc. 14., Qu. 10, with Loc. iii, Qu. 19. Thornwell, Vol. 2, Art. 5. Dick, Lect. 56. Hill, bk. 4, ch. 3, 1. Hodgeís Theo., pt. iii (Vol. ii), ch. 7. Ridgley, Qu. 44, 3. "Magee on Atonement. " A. A. Hodge on Atonement, chs. 5, 6. Watsonís Theo. Inst. ch. 19, bk. 2, ch. 8.
1. What Is A Mediator?
word mediator is in the New Testament Mesith" middle man. The phrase does not occur in the Old Testament, except in the Septuagint translation of Job 9:33, (Engl. 5. "days man") and then with the sense of umpire, not of mediator. Its idea in the New Testament is evidently of one who intervenes to act between parties, who cannot, for some reason act with each other directly. Thus, Moses was (Gal. 3:19) the mediator of the Theocratic covenant. But in this, he was no more than internuncius . Christís mediation included far more, as will appear when we prove His three offices of prophet, priest and king; which are here assumed.
Why Needed In Covenant of Grace?
No mediator was necessary in the Covenant of Works between God and angels, or God and Adam, because, in unfallen creatures, there was nothing to bar direct intercourse between them and God. Hence the Scripture presents no evidence of Christís performing any mediatorial function for them. On the contrary the Bible implies always, that Christís offices were under taken, because men were sinners, Matt. 1:21; Is. 53; John 3:16. But, man being fallen, the necessity of Christís mediation appears from all the moral attributes of Godís nature; His truth, (pledged to punish sin,) His justice, (righteously and necessarily bound to requite it,) His goodness, (concerned in the wholesome order of His kingdom,) and His holiness, (intrinsically repellent of sinners). So also, manís enmity, evil conscience and guilty fear, awakened by sin, call, though not so necessarily, for a mediator.
It has been objected that this argument represents Godís will as under a constraint; for else what hindered His saving man by His mere will? And that it dishonors His wisdom by making Him go a roundabout way to His end, subjecting His Son to many humiliations and pangs. The answer is the necessity was a moral one, proceeding out of Godís own voluntary perfection. Note: To sustain our argument we must assert that Godís mere will is not the sole origin of moral distinctions. See Lect. 10.on that point.
2. Jesus the Mediator of the Old Testament.
Against the Jews we assert that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah and Mediator of this Covenant. Of an argument so comprehensive, and containing so many details, only the general structure can be indicated. In this argument the standard of authoritative reference assumed is the Old Testament, which the orthodox Jew admits to be inspired. (As for the Rationalistic, they must first be dealt with as other skeptics.) Second, in this argument no other authority is claimed for the New Testament in advance, than that it is an authentic narrative. As such, it is substantiated by the profane and Jewish history. We then make two heads.
(A) Because the Time Is Passed.
The promised Mediator of the Old Testament must have already come. For the time has passed. (See Gen. 49:10; Dan. 9:24Ė27). He was to come while the second temple was standing (Hag. 2:6, 9; Mal. 3:1Ė3). He was to come while the Jewish polity subsisted, (Gen. 49:10) and while Jerusalem was still the capital of that theocracy (Hag. 2:6; Is. 2:3; 62:1). This polity and city have now been overwhelmed for nearly 1,800 years so that the very ability to give genealogical evidence of the birth of Christ from Davidís stock is now utterly gone! The Messiahís coming was to be signalized by the cessation of types (Dan. 9:27). Last, the Messiahís coming was to be marked by the accession of multitudes of Gentiles to the religion of the Old Testament (See Is. 2:3; 13:1Ė6; 49:6; 60:3).
(b) Because He has the appointed Traits.
Jesus of Nazareth is the Person, because all the qualities and incidents foretold in the Old Testament, wonderfully tally with Him and His life (See Acts 3:18). The strength of the argument is in the completeness of this correspondence. In fairly estimating this proof, reference must be made to the doctrine of probabilities. The occurrence of one predicted trait in a person would prove nothing. The concurrence of two would not be a demonstration because that concurrence might be fortuitous. But, when three independent and predicted traits concurred, the proof would greatly strengthen, because the likelihood that chance could account for all three, is diminished, in a multiplying ratio. So, as the number of coincident, predicted traits increases, the evidence mounts up, by a multiplying ratio, towards absolute certainty. Jesus then, answers the prophetic description in the time of His birth (See above). In the place, Mic. 5:2; In His nativity of a virgin, Is. 7:14; In His forerunner, Mal. 3:1; In His lineage, Gen. 3:15, 18:18, 49:10; Is. 11:1, Ps. 132:11; Is. 9:7; In His preaching, Is. 61:1Ė3; In His miracles, Is. 35:5Ė6; In His tenderness and meekness, Is. 13:3; In the circumstances of His end, viz., His entry into Jerusalem, Zech. 9:9; Betrayal, Zech. 11:12, 13; Rejection and contempt, Is. 53:3; Death, 53:8; Mockings therein, Ps. 22:8; Vinegar, Ps. 69:21; Piercing, Zech. 12:10; Yet no bones broken, Ps. 34:20; Death with malefactors, Is. 53:9; Honorable burial, Is. 53:9; Resurrection, Ps. 16:9, 10; 68:18; Spiritual effusions, Joel 2:28. Again, the Messiah of the Old Testament was to have a wondrous union of natures, offices and destinies, which was mysterious to the Old Testament saints, and absurd to modern Jews, yet was wonderfully realized in Jesus. He was to be God, (Ps. 2:7; Is. 9:6), yet man (Is. 9:6). The history of Jesus, taken with His words, shows Him both human and divine. The Messiah was to be both priest and victim. (Ps. 110; Is. 53) He was to be an outcast, (Is. 53) and a king, (Ps. 2.). So was Jesus. He was to conquer all people (Ps. 45and 72:1-10), yet without violence. (Is. 13:3; Ps. 14:4). He was to combine the greatest contrasts of humiliation and glory. These contrasts are so hard to satisfy in one Person (to all unbelieving Israel it seems impossible) that when we find them meeting in Jesus, it causes a very strong evidence to arise, that He is the Mediator.
3. Hypostatic Union.
The doctrine of the constitution of Christís person is purely one of Revelation, and involves a mystery as great, perhaps, as that of the Trinity itself. (1 Tim. 3:16). But though inexplicable, it is not incredible. The nature of the scriptural argument by which this twofold nature in one person is established, is analogous to that establishing a Trinity in unity. The text nowhere defines the doctrine in one passage, as fully as we assert it. But our doctrine is a necessary deduction from three sets of Scriptural assertions. First, Jesus Christ was properly and literally a man (See, e. g., John 1:4; Gal. 4:4; John 1:51; Is. 9:6; Heb. 2:17; Matt. 4:2; Luke 2:40, 52; Matt. 8:24; Mark 13:32; John 11:35; Matt. 26:37). Second, Christ is also literally and properly divine (See, e. g., John 1:1; Rom. 9:5; 1 John 5:20; Is. 9:6; Phil. 2:6; Col. 2:9; Heb. 1:3; 1 Tim. 3:16). Yet this Man God is one and the same; in proof of which we need only allude to the fact, that in every text speaking of Him, oneness of person, and personal attributes, are either asserted or implied of Him. In many passages the same proposition asserts both natures in one person (e. g., John 3:13; 1 Tim. 3:16).
To Socinians, and other errorists, these passages seem contradictory, because being unwilling to admit the "incarnate mystery," they insist on explaining away one class of them. The true explanation is, that both are true, because of the hypostatic union. By these means such seeming paradoxes are to be explained, as those in Mark 13:32, compared with John 5:20; Matt. 11:27. The first of these verses asserts that even the Son does not know the day and hour when the earth and heavens shall pass away. The others ascribe omniscience to Him. The explanation (and the only one) is that Christ in His human nature has a limited knowledge, and in His divine nature, an infinite knowledge.
Gnostic Theory of Christís Person.
The opinions of Gnostics are sufficiently narrated by Hill, (loc cit ). As they have no currency in modern times, I will content myself with briefly reminding you of the distinction between the other Gnostics and those called Docetai. Both parties concurred in regarding matter as the source of all moral evil. Hence, they could not consistently admit the resurrection and glorification, either of the saints or of Jesusí body. The Docetai, therefore, taught that Christ never had a literal human body, but only a phantasm of one, on which the malice of His persecutors was spent in vain. The others taught that the Aion, who they supposed constituted Christís superior nature, only inhabited temporarily in the man Jesus, a holy Jew constituted precisely as other human beings are, and that, at the crucifixion, this Aion flew away to heaven, leaving the man Jesus to suffer alone.
The Nestorian View.
The historical events attending the Nestorian controversy, and the personal merits of Nestorius, I shall not discuss. The system afterwards known as Nestorianism was apprehended by the Catholic Christians, as by no means a trivial one, or a mere logomachy about the qeotoko" . The true teacher of the doctrinal system was rather Theodore of Mopuestia, (a teacher of Nestorius) than the latter prelate. In his hands, it appears to be a development of Pelagianism, which it succeeded in date, and an application to the constitution of Christís person of the erroneous doctrines of manís native innocence. Theodore set out from opposition to Apollinaris, who taught that the divine Reason in Christ substituted a rational human nature, leaving Christ only a material and animal nature on the human side. According to Theodore, Christ is a sort of impersonated symbol of mankind, first as striving successfully against trial, and second, as rewarded with glory for this struggle. He supposed Christ the Man to exercise a self determining power of will, which, he taught, is necessary to moral merit in any man. Christ, the man, then, began His human career, with the Word associated and strengthening His human nature. As Christ the man resisted trial and exhibited His devotion to duty in the exercise of His self He was rewarded by more full and intimate communications of divine indwelling, until His final act of devotion was rewarded with an ascension, and full communication of the Godhead. The process in each gracious soul offers an humble parallel. The indwelling of God the Word in Jesus, is not generically unlike that of the Holy Spirit in a saint, but only closer and stronger in degree. There are, indeed, three grades of this one kind of union, first, that of the Holy Spirit, in sanctification; second, that of the same person, in inspiration; third, that of the Word in Christ. And the Nestorians preferred rather to speak of the last, as a sunafeia than a enwsi" the preferred term of Cyril.
This view seemed to involve two Pelagian errors. First, that grace is bestowed as the reward of manís right exercise of moral powers, (in his own self determined will,) instead of being the gratuitous cause thereof; and second, that inasmuch as the human purity of the man Jesus went before, and procured the divine indwelling, it is naturally possible for any other man to be perfect, in advance of grace. Again, from the separation of the nexus between the two natures in Christ, there seemed to the Catholics to be a necessary obscuring of the communication of attributes, so that Christís sacrifice would no longer be divine and meritorious enough to cover infinite guilt. And thus would be lost the fundamental ground of His substitution for us. The whole scheme goes rather to make Christ incarnate rather a symbolical exemplar of the work of God in a believer, than the proper redeeming purchase and Agent thereof. Its tendencies, then, are Socinian.
The Alexandrine theologians generally leaned the other way. Cyril was fond of quoting from the great Athanasius that while "he allowed Christ was the Son of God, and God, according to the spirit, but son of man, according to the flesh; but not two natures and one son; the one to be worshipped and the other not; but one nature of God the Word incarnated, and to be worshipped by single worship along with His flesh." They loved to assert the enwsi"(unification) of the natures, rather than the sunafeia(or conjunction) of Theodore. They preferred to conceive of Christ as so clothing Himself with human nature, as to assimilate it, by a species of subsumption, with His divinity. Hence the error of Eutyches was prepared; that while the mediatorial person was constituted from two natures, it existed only in one, the divine. This error is as fatal to a proper conception of Christís mediatorial work, as the Nestorian. By really destroying the humanity in Christ, from the moment of His birth, it gives us a Redeemer who has no true community of nature with us, and so, does not render a human obedience, nor pay the human penalty in our room and stead. The creed of Chalcedon, intermediate between these two extremes, is undoubtedly the scriptural one, as it has been adopted by all orthodox churches, ancient and modern, and is the basis of the propositions of the Westminster Assembly on this point. You have these symbols within your reach and I shall not here repeat them.
For Orthodox creed of Chalcedon, see Mosheim, vol. 1., p. 366. For our own, see Confession of Faith, ch. 8, 2. This doctrine, however inexplicable, is not incredible because it is no more mysterious than the union of two substances, spirit and body, into one human person, in ourselves. Yet, who is not conscious of his own personality? That the infinite Creator should assume a particular relation to one special part of His creation, the man Jesus, is not impossible, seeing He bears intimate relations (e. g., as providential upholder) to all the rest. That an infinite spirit should enter into personal union with a man, is surely less mysterious than that a finite spirit should constitute a personal union with a body; because the infinite and almighty possesses, so to speak, more flexibility to enter into such union, and because the intimate union of spirit to spirit, is less mysterious than that of spirit with body (A perfect analogy is not asserted).
Hypostatic Union Ground of the Efficacy of Christís Work. Socinian Objection Quashed.
This Hypostatic union is the cornerstone of our redemption. The whole adaptation of the Media person to its work depends on it, as will be shown in the discussion of heads 5th, 6th. The general result of the Hypostatic union is stated well in the Confession of Faith, Ch. 8, 7, last part. This is that koinwnia idiwmatwn which we hold in common with the early Fathers, repudiating the Lutheran idea of the attributes of Divinity being literally conferred on the humanity, which is absurd and impossible. Apt instances of this koinwnia may be seen in John 3:13; Acts 13:15, 20:28, 17:31; Mark 2:10; Gal. 4:4; and Rom. 1:17, or 3:21; 1 Cor. 2:8. Hence, it is, that Mediatorial acts performed in virtue of either nature, have all the dignity or worth belonging to the Mediatorial person as made up of both natures. Socinians do, indeed, object that inasmuch as only the creature could, in the nature of things, be subjected to the law, and to penalty, the active and passive obedience of Christ have, after all, only a creature worth. It is a mere legal fiction, to consider them as possessed of the infinite worth of a divine nature, since the divine nature did not especially render them. The answer is, the person possessed of a divine nature, rendered them. If the Socinian would honestly admit the person as a thing which (though inscrutable) is real and literal, his objection would be relinquished. For then, many analogies of human persons (not perfect indeed, applicable fairly) would show that this koinwnia is not unnatural even. We shall see that the common sense and conscience of men always estimate the acts and sufferings of a united person (constituted of two natures) according to the dignity of the higher nature, to whichever of them those acts or sufferings may specially belong: e. g., There are many bodily affections, as appetite, pain, which we characterize as distinctively corporeal, and yet, had not our bodies souls in them, these affections could have no place. Why then is it incredible that the divine substance in the Medatorial person should be the ground of a peculiar value in the human sufferings of that person, though in strictness of speech, the divine could not be the seat of the suffering? Again, corporeal sufferings of martyrs have amoral value, which can only be attributed to the fact that those suffering men were not brutes, but spiritual and moral beings, while yet the soul may have been unconscious of the pangs through spiritual joy, or other cause. I argue, also, from the fact, that moral character is given to merely physical acts of men, because of the character of the volition prompting those acts. Now, I pray, did not the will of the Logo" prompt all the acts of active and passive obedience performed by the human nature? If when my bones and muscles in my arm go through identically the same functions, with the same stick, to beat a dangerous dog, and to beat my friend, one physical act has the spiritual character of lawfulness and the other physically identical act has the spiritual character of sinfulness. Because of the concern of my volition in them, why should it be thought a thing incredible, that the human sufferings of Christ should have a divine character, when prompted by the volition of the divine nature in His person? And is not the bodily pain of a man more important than that of a dog? It is enough, however, to show that the infinite dignity of Christís divine nature is, in Scripture, given as ground of the infinite value of that work. See Heb. 9:13, 14,7:16, 24; John 3:16; 1 Pet. 1.18, 19; Ps. 40:6; Heb. 10:5Ė14.
4. The old doctrine of the Reformed Churches asserted not only the actual sinlessness, which none but violent infidels impugn, but the impeccability of our Redeemer. In recent days, some of whom better things should have been expected, deny the latter. They concede to the God man the posse non peccare . but deny to Him, or at least to the humanity, the non posse peccare . Their argument is in import that a being must be privy to sin in order to experience real temptation, as well as to be meritorious for resisting it. To be an exemplar and encouragement to us who are tempted, they plea, one must be capable of sin; thus they deny the impeccablility of Christ. . Thus argue Ullman, Farrar, the author of "Ecce Deus," Dr. Schaff, and even Dr. Hodge; while Dr. Dorner, in his "History of Protestant Theol.," revives the Nestorian and Pelagian doctrine, of a meritorious growth or progress of Christís humanity from peccability to impeccability, by virtue of the holy use of His initial contingency and self determination of will.
Now, none will say that the second Person, as eternal Word, was, or is peccable. It would seem then, that the trait can only be asserted of the humanity. But, first, it is the unanimous testimony of the Apostles, as it is the creed of the Church, that the human nature never had its separate personality. It never existed, and never will exist for an instant, save in personal union with the Word. Hence, (a.) Since only a Person can sin, the question is irrelevant; and (b.) Since the humanity never was, in fact, alone, the question whether, if alone, it would not have been peccable, like Adam, is idle. Second, it is impossible that the person constituted in union with the eternal and immutable Word, can sin. For this union is an absolute shield to the lower nature, against error. In the God man "dwells the fullness of the God head bodily," Col. 2:9. Third, this lower nature, upon its union with the Word, was imbued with the full influences of the Holy Spirit. Ps. 14:7; 61:1, 3; Luke 4:21; and 4:1; John 1:32; 3:34. Fourth, Christ seems to assert his own impeccability, John 14:30. "Satan cometh and bath nothing in me." So Paul, 2 Cor. 5:21, Christ "knew no sin," and in Heb. 13:8, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, to day and forever." John 10:36, "The Father hath sanctified and sent Him in the world." Fifth, if this endowment of Christís person rose no higher than a posse non peccare , it seems obvious that there was a possibility of the failure of Godís whole counsel of redemption. For, as all agree, a sinning sacrifice and intercessor could redeem no one. There must have been then, at least a decretive necessity, that all his actions should be infallibly holy.
The pretext for imputing peccability to the Redeemer has been explained. It only remains to prove it groundless. He was certainly subjected to temptation, and was, in a sense, thus qualified to be a perfect example to and sympathizer with us, in our militant state. But this consists with his impeccability. These writers seem to think that if, in the hitherto sinless will of Jesus, there had been no contingency and self determination when He came to be tempted, He could have had no actual realization of spiritual assaults, and no victory. Does not this amount to teaching that a rudiment at least of "concupiscence" in Him was necessary to this victory and merit. Then it would follow that we shall hold, with Pelagius, that concupiscence is not sin per se, for that cannot be sin per se, which is essential to right action, under a given condition assigned the responsible agent by Godís own providence.
In fact, the supposed stress of our opponents plea is dissolved, when we make the obvious distinction between the act of intellection of the natural desirableness seen in an object, and a spontaneous appetency for it apprehended as unlawful. It is the latter which is the sin of concupiscence. The former is likely to take place in any intellect, simply as a function of intelligence, just in proportion to the extent of its cognitive power, and is most certain to take place, as a simple function of intelligence, as to all possible objects, in the infinite mind of the holy God! So far as intellectual conception goes, none conceive so accurately as God, just how "the pleasures of sin which are but for a season," appear to a fallible creatureís mind. To say that God feels the sin of "concupiscence" would be blasphemy. This distinction shows us how an impeccable being may be tempted. While the human will of Jesus was rendered absolutely incapable of concupiscence by the indwelling of the Godhead and its own native endowment, He could doubtless represent to Himself mentally precisely how a sinful object affects both mind and heart of His imperfect people. Does not this fit Him to feel for and to succor them? And is His victory over temptation the less meritorious, because it is complete? Let me explain. We will suppose that the idea of a forbidden object is suggested (possibly by an evil spirit) before the intellect of a Christian. One of two things may happen. By the force of indwelling sin the presence of that idea in conception may result in some conscious glow of appetency towards the object, but the sanctified conscience is watchful and strong enough to quench this heat before it flames up into a wrong volition. This perhaps is the usual case with Christians. And there, our opponents would exclaim, is the wholesome self discipline! There is the creditable and ennobling warfare against sin! Let us now suppose the other result, which, in the happier hours of eminent saints, doubtless follows sometimes, that when the tempting idea is presented in suggestion; the conscience is so prompt, and holy desires so preoccupy the mind, that the thought is ejected before it even strikes the first spark of concupiscence; that the entire and immediate answer of the heart to it is negative. Is not this still more creditable than the former case? Surely! If we approved the man in the former case because the state of his soulís moral atmosphere was such, that the evil spark went out before it set fire to the stream of action, we should still more approve, in the latter case, where the atmosphere of the soul was such that the spark of evil was not lighted at all. Will any one say, that here, there was no temptation. This is as though one should say, there was no battle, because the victory was complete and the victor unscathed.
Those who make this difficulty about Christís impeccability seem to discard another truth, which is a corner stone of our system. This is the consistency of a real free agency with an entire certainty of the will. They argue that unless Jesus were free in his rejection of temptation, He would have wrought no moral victory. This is true. But they wish us to infer from there, that because His will was free, it must have been mutable. This deduction would be consistent only in a Pelagian. Every Calvinist knows that a holy will may be perfectly free, and yet determined with absolute certainty, to the right. Such is Godís will. "He cannot lie." Yet He speaks truth freely. The sinner presents the counterpart case, when "his eyes are full of adultery, and he cannot cease from sin." Yet is this sinner free in continuing his course of sin and rejecting the monitions of duty. This case sufficiently explains, by contrast, the impeccability of Jesus. He has every natural faculty which, in Adamís case, was abused to the perpetration of his first sin. But they were infallibly regulated by what Adam had not, a certain, yet most free, determination of His dispositions to holiness alone. It is useless to argue, whether Jesus could have sinned if He had chosen. It was infallibly certain that He would not choose to sin. This was the impeccability we hold.
5. Does Christ Mediate In Both Natures?
The question, whether Christ performs the functions of Mediator in both natures is fundamental. Roman Catholics limit them to the human nature, in order to make more plausible room for human mediators. They plead such passages as Phil.2:7, 8; 1 Tim. 2:5, and the dialectical argument, that the divinity being the offended party, it is absurd to conceive of it as mediating between the offender and itself.
Now, it must be distinguished, that ever since the incarnation, the Logos may perform functions of incommunicable divinity, inalienable to Him as immutable, such as sitting on the throne of the universe and possessing incommunicable attributes, in which the humanity can no more have part than in that creative work, which Christ performed before His incarnation. So, likewise, the humanity performed functions, in which it is not necessary to suppose the Logo" had any other concern than a general providential one; such as eating, sleeping, drinking. But these were not a part of the Mediatorship. We assert that, in all the Mediatorial acts proper, both natures To proswpon qeanqrwpon act concurrently, according to their peculiar properties. This we prove, first, by the fact, that in Christís priestly work, the divine nature operated and still operates, as well as the human. See 1 Cor. 2:8; Heb. 9:14; John 10:18. Even in this work of suffering and dying, see how essential the concurrent actions of the divine nature were! Else, there would have been none of the autocracy as to His own life, necessary for His vicarious work; nor would there have been strength to bear an infinite, penalty in one day. Only the Omniscient can intercede for all. Hence, we argue that if His divinity concurred in His priestly work, the part usually supposed most irrelevant to deity, much more does it concur in His prophetic and kingly. See Matt. 11:27, 28:18. Secomd, if Christ does not perform His Mediatorial work in His divine nature as well as His human, He could not have been in any sense the Mediator of Old Testament saints, because their redemption was completed before He was incarnate. Did Roman Catholics attend to the fact, that it is the very design and result of the Covenant of Grace, that the persons of the Trinity should act "economically?" In their several offices of redemption, they would not have raised the inconsistent objection about the Godheadís propitiating the Godhead. The Son, having become manís Surety, now acts economically and officially for him, in his stead propitiating the Father, who officially represents the majesty of the offended Trinity. Besides, unless the Roman Catholics will assert not only two wills, but these two in opposition, in the Mediatorial person, the divine will of God the Son must, on their scheme, have concerned itself with propitiating God; the same difficulty!
One remark applies to all His mediatorial functions also; that the will of both natures concurred in them.
Why Must the Mediator Be Man?
The demands of Christís mediatorial work required that Christ should be proper and very man. Mankind had fallen, and was conscience struck, hostile, and fearful towards God. Hence it was desirable that the Daysman should appear in his nature as his brother in order to encourage confidence, to allure to a familiar approach, and quiet guilty fears. To such a being as sinful man, personal intercourse with God would have been intolerably dreadful, (Gen. 3:8; Ex. 20:19) and even an angel would have appeared too terrible to his fears.
Again, the Bible assures us that one object gained by the incarnation of Christ was fuller assurance of His sympathy, by His experimental acquaintance with all the woes of our fallen condition (Heb. 2:17, 18; 4:15 to 5:2). The experience of every Christian under trial of affliction testifies to the strength of this reasoning by the consolation which Christís true humanity gives Him. It is very true that the Son, as omniscient God, can and does figure to Himself conceptions of all possible human trials, just as accurate as experience itself, but His having experienced them in human nature enables our weak faith to grasp the consolation better.
Another purpose of God, in clothing our Redeemer with human nature, was to leave us a perfect human example. The importance and efficacy of teaching by example, need not be unfolded here (See 1 Pet. 2:21; Heb. 12:2).
In the fourth place, Christís incarnation was necessary, in order to establish a proper basis for that legal union between Him and His elect, which should make Him bearer of their imputed guilt, and them partakers of His imputed righteousness and of His exaltation (See 1 Cor. 15:21). It was necessary that manís sin should be punished in the nature of man, in order to render the substitution more natural and proper (Rom. 8:3). Had the deity been united with some angelic, or other creature, the imputation of manís sin to that Person, and its punishment in that foreign nature would have appeared less reasonable (See Heb. 2:14Ė16). So, likewise, the obedience rendered in another nature than manís, would not have been so reasonable a ground for raising manís race to a share in the Mediatorís blessedness.
And this leads us to add, last, that a created nature was absolutely essential to the Mediatorís two works: of obeying in manís stead, and suffering for his guilt. For the obedience, no other nature would have been so appropriate as manís. And none but a creature could come under law, assume a subject position, and work out an active righteousness. God is above law, being Himself the great law giver. For the other vicarious work, suffering a penalty, not only a created, but a corporeal nature is necessary. Angels cannot feel bodily death, and brutes could not experience spiritual, but both are parts of the penalty of sin. The divine nature is impassable, and unchangeable in its blessedness. Hence, Heb. 10:5; 9:22.
Why the Mediator Must Be God.
It is of the highest importance to prove that the mediatorial offices could not be performed without the divine nature (See Is. 14:22; Jer. 17:5Ė7, 22:6). Because this is one of the most overwhelming arguments against Arians and Socinians. We assert that a purpose to save elect men by a mediatorial plan, being supposed in God, the very necessities of the case required that this mediator should be very and proper God. But as this was substantially argued in Lect. 18:, when proving the divinity of the Holy Spirit and the Son, the student is referred to that place.
6. Is Christís Prophetic Work Essential, Or, As Socinians Say, Only Useful?
But the sixth question of our Syllabus raises a point in this direction which requires fuller explanation. The scope of the Socinian system is to find a common religion, including the fewest possible essential elements. Hence, they like to represent that virtuous Pagans may belong to this common religion, holding the doctrines of Natural Theology. The consequence is, that the Socinians, while speaking many handsome things of Jesus Christ as a messenger from God, still concur with other Deists and infidels in depreciating the necessity of Revelation. They say that the Scriptures are valuable, but not essential. We are thus led again to the old question of the necessity of revelation.
Partial Grounds of Argument Corrected.
Let us not assert this on the usual partial grounds. The case is too often put by our friends as though the fall alone necessitated a revelation, the effects of sin in blinding the mind and conscience are too exclusively mentioned. Thus, there is an implied admission that a revelation is, in manís case, an exceptional expedient, caused by the failure of Godís general plan. Thus, the objection is suggested, which Socinians and other enemies of inspiration have not failed to put in form, and which many of us are inclined perhaps to feel, as though the idea of a revelation were unnatural, and hence not probable. The cavil is that the analogy of all creation discloses this plan. Our wise and good God, in creating each order of sentient beings, surrounded them with all the appointed conditions for their well being, by the established course of nature. Having made fishes for the water, He made water for the fishes; the grass is for oxen, and the oxen for grass; the birds for the air, and the air for the birds. Every order, by living within the natural conditions provided for it, secures its appropriate end. But according to the orthodo10, man, the noblest, the rational creature, cannot fulfill the ends of his being, immortal blessedness, by his natural means. A supernatural expedient must be found, against the general analogy, or else manís existence is a frightful failure. This, they urge, is unnatural, discreditable to God, and improbable.
Revelation Necessary To Holy Creatures.
Now I meet it by asserting that, to make a rational creature dependent on a revelation of God for His spiritual welfare, is not unnatural, or extraordinary, but is for all spiritual creatures, the universal and strictly natural condition. It does not arise out of manís sin only, the truth holds as well of angels, and all other rational creatures, if there are others. We must remember that none originally had God in their debt, to assure their holiness end bliss, but were naturally under this relation, bound to obey Him perpetually; free from evil as long as they did so, but subject to His wrath whenever they sinned. Now holy creatures were not infallible, nor omniscient. Their wills were right and free, but not indefectible. Bound to an unending career of perfect obedience, they would have been to all eternity liable to mistake and sin and death. Now, when a finite wisdom and rectitude are matched against an infinite series of duties to be done, of choices to be made, each naturally implying some possibility of a wrong choice, that possibility finally mounts up from a probability to a moral certainty, that all would some day fail. How, then, could an angel, or holy Adam, inherit immutable blessedness forever? Only by drawing direct guidance from the infallible, infinite Mind. Thus we see that the enjoyment of its appropriate revelation by each order, is the necessary condition of its well being, a condition as natural, original, and universal as its own moral nature and obligations. If Gabriel had not his revelation he would not be an "elect angel." Do a written document? Do I speak of parchment and ink? No, but of that which is the essence of a Revelation, a direct communication from the infinite Mind, to instruct the finite.
Revelation Not Anomalous.
Thus we may, if we choose, admit the analogy which the Socinian claims, and find it wholly against him. Our Bible is not an exceptional providence, it is in strict accordance with Godís method towards all reasonable creatures. If our race had none, this would be the fatal anomaly against us.
7. Christ Only Mediator. Romeís Argument For Contrary.
THE Apostle Paul teaches us, (1 Tim. 2:5) that as there is but one God, there is only "one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus." Rome seeks to evade this and similar testimonies, by speaking of a primary and a secondary mediation, reserving the first exclusively to Christ. The activity of angels and dead saints as secondary mediators. Rome argues, first, from the benevolence and affection of these pure spirits. This kindness we daily experience at the hands of the saints while alive, and the Savior (Luke 15:7) seems to ascribe similar feelings to the angels. The Church believes that the dead saints retain a local interest in the places and people which they loved while living; and she thinks that Dan. 10:13, teaches the angels, as ministers of Godís providence, have their districts, and even their individuals (Matt. 18:10) whom they serve and watch. Second, Rome urges that numerous cases exist in which the mediatorial intervention of one saint for another occurs, in the Bible. Of this the most obvious instance is the requesting of the brethrenís prayers (e. g., 1 Thess. 5:25; 2 Thess. 3:1) and this case alone, Rome thinks, would be enough to rebut the Protestant objections that such intercession interferes with the mediatorial honors of Christ. But, say they, there are numerous instances of more definite intervention, where the merit of a saint availed for other men expressly; or where (better still) the pardon of men was suspended on the efforts of some eminently meritorious saint in their behalf (See Gen. 20:7; 26:5; 1 Kings. 11:12, et passim ; Job. 13:8; Luke 7:3Ė6). And they assert the actual intercession of angels in heaven is taught (Gen. 48:16; Rev. 5:8, or 8:3).
Rome argues also, reciprocally, that the worship of saints and angels implies their mediation, because the only thing for which we can petition them, consistently with theism, is their intercession. Hence all the rational and scriptural arguments in favor of saint worship, are by inference, arguments in favor of their mediation. See, then, such considerations and such texts as these. God commands an appropriate reverence of teachers, magistrates, parents, kings. Can we believe that He intends no proportional honor of these more beneficent and majestic beings? Can it be wrong to ask their aid with Christ, when he should esteem it pious to ask the aid of Christian friends on earth? Surely these glorified creatures have not become less benevolent toward us, or less acceptable to Christ by reaching heaven. Then see scriptural instances (Gen. 18:2Ė23; 19:; 32:26; Josh. 5:14).
The closing argument of Rome is from tradition, and the Apocrypha.
One valid reply, though the least one, is, that all such appeals to the mediation of the saints or angels in heaven, are superstitions. As to dead saints, the Scripture representation is that they are effectually severed from all earthly relations, and are done with all earthly interests, Rev. 14:13. They "rest from their labors," 1 Tim. 6:7. "For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out," Isa. 57:2. "He shall enter into peace; they shall rest in their beds," Eccl. 9:6. "Neither have they any more a portion forever in anything that is done under the sun," Job. 3:17. "There the weary be at rest," 14:21. "His sons come to honor, and he knoweth it not; and they are brought low, but he perceiveth it not of them." The simple idea of asking a share in the prayers of dead friends, if it were all of the Roman Catholic doctrine, would be thus shown to be only foolish end superstitious; for since we know we have no access to them, our words are thrown away. It may be urged, that though this be true as to the dead saints, it may not hold as to the angels, who do have intercourse with earth, as they are "sent forth to minister to them who shall be heirs of salvation." Our answer is that the Scriptures only teach an intercourse on one side; they may know some of our acts and needs; we know nothing of their nearness or absence. So that, as to the angels likewise, this attempted intercourse is wholly unwarranted by Scripture, and therefore superstitious. But, second, in our ignorance of their nearness or absence, we can never know that they hear our plea for their intercession, without imputing to them divine attributes. This fact was briefly stated in our 31st Lecture. Thus the doctrine of their intercession is idolatrous in its tendencies, and a robbery of God. Especially is this true of the more popular gods and goddesses of the Roman Catholic pantheon, the Virgin, Peter, Gabriel, to whom Roman Catholics the world over are generally praying. They must have omnipresence to be with their votaries in various lands at the same time; omniscience, to discriminate, understand and judge wisely of their varied requests; omnipotence, to bear the burden of care laid upon them; infinite benevolence, to make them willing to bear so much care and take so much trouble for others; and immutability, to be a secure reliance for the wants of a priceless soul. The poor subterfuge of the hypothesis of the saints beholding all earthly affairs in speculo Trinitatis has been exposed, it only pretends to meet one of the points we have here made.
Third, were the design of papists merely to seek a communion in the prayers of dead saints and angels, it would only be superstitious and idolatrous. But this does not at all satisfy them. The essential peculiarity of their doctrine is, that the mediatory access of these holy creatures is founded on their merits with Cod. This their divines expressly teach, and the hymns to which we cited the student, expressly assert this element of doctrine. But it is expressly injurious to Christ, utterly false, and indeed impious. No one who comprehended the rudiments of either the Covenant of Works, or of that of Grace, would ever dream of making the supererogatory merit of an unfallen, much less of a fallen creature, a basis for an imputed righteousness. In that sense the creature cannot merit. Take the case of Abraham, Gen. 20:7. The Roman Catholic argument is ruined by the fact that Abraham was himself "justified by faith." If he was himself a sinner, accepted in the righteousness of another, how could he have supererogatory merit to spare for a fellow sinner? Job is mentioned, 42:8, as sacrificing for his erring friends because he was righteous. But see the 6th verse, where Job avows his utter sinfulness. Surely, then he was not righteous in such a sense as to be a meritorious mediator. Job was directed to sacrifice for his friends. What? Himself? No, but bullocks and rams, typical of the "Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world." This tells the whole story. that his intervention was ministerial, and not mediatorial. As to King David, 1 Kings 11:12 compare Davidís own language, Ps. 32:1, 2. It is Godís regard for His own gracious covenant with David, and His own fidelity, which leads Him to favor Solomon. David himself, although comparatively a faithful ruler, was indebted to Godís mercy both in his personal and official capacities, for escaping condemnation. If Christ made full expiation for our sins, how can other intercessors be intruded without an insult to the sufficiency of His sacrifice and intercession? Is the plea this, that He intercedes with the Father while the lower mediators intercede with Him? I reply, why may we not directly obey His gracious command. "Come unto Me, all ye that labor?" Does the same argument which persuades us to go to the Virgin to ask her Son to ask His Father to save us, also require us to seek another intermediary between us and Mary? If the Papist says "yes," to this question, then by the same argument we shall need still a second intermediary between us and the one who is to commend us to Mary, and we have a ridiculous regresses, which may be endless. We have to go all around the world, in order to reach Christ. But if a negative answer be given, then the Papist must answer this question. Why does Mary need an intermediary between us and her, less than Jesus does? This implies that she is more benevolent and placable than Christ! "But greater love bath no man than this that he lay down his life for his friends."
The student should know, that this theory of creature mediation is not only condemned by the utter silence of the word and the express and implied assertion of truths incompatible with it, but that it has been articulately examined and rejected in the Scriptures. That inspired refutation, as it is seen in the Epistle to the Colossians, furnishes us the best possible argument. It is substantially our third argument. The Judaizing Gnostics were infesting the Colossian church with this very theory; that the saving work of Christ must be supplemented by the intercession of some super angelic beings, (See Col. 2:18) and by the practice of asceticism (2:21). The first of these innovations the Apostle meets, with admirable sagacity, by laying down a few indisputable, gospel statements. Christ, the eternal Son of God, hath already made for us a sacrifice in His blood, so complete as to secure to believers a full justification and an actual translation into Godís family, (1:13, 15, 22). This our Priest is the Image of God, eternal, the creator and actual ruler of all creatures, including these very thrones and dominions proposed as angelic intercessors, (verse 16, 17) so that instead of their guiding Him, He governs them, and they themselves derive their heavenly adoption (not indeed from His sacrifice,) but from His ministerial providence, (verse 20). This Divine Christ is also human, (2:3Ė10) so that He is as near akin to us as any advocate can be, just as truly our kinsman, as near by blood, as approachable, as tender, as it is possible for Peter or Paul, or Mary to be. Whatever love and beneficence these have, they received from Him. Thus He has in Himself all possible qualifications for the intercessory work; all the higher (verses 3 and 9) and all the softer and gentler. Hence, (verse 10) the believer is "complete in Him." Christ so completely satisfies the demands of an intercessory work, that no room is left for any other intercessor, even as His righteousness so satisfies the claims of law that there is no room for any ritual or ascetic righteousness to procure fuller adoption. This, in a word, is the Apostleís argument. That Christís priestly work is such, it is not possible that any other intercessory agency can be needed, or be added. The plea, that the Apostle discards the intercession of the Gnostic oeons because they are imaginary beings is of no avail, because his argument is evidently construed purposely, (see Ch. 1:16,) so as to hold, equally, whether the creatures invoked might be real, or not. In conclusion of this head, it should be noted, that the vital point in the Papal theory is, that these creature mediators have an imputable merit of their own, to plead for us. Hence the cases they cite, where Christians ask an interest in each others prayers, are wholly inapplicable, and their citation is indeed, uncandid.
No Created Angel Mediated.
The question of angelic mediation may be easily disposed of. The only instances in which an angel is worshiped are those of the worship of the Angel of the Covenant, the eternal Word. Let the student examine all the cases of angel worship claimed by the Roman Catholics, and he will find that each one is a worship of that Divine Person. We are referred to Rev. 5:8, and 8:3, for instances of angelic mediation. In the first, the odours presented by the four living creatures, and the four and twenty elders, are their own. They both, beyond doubt, symbolize the ransomed Church, (see verse g) and the prayers they present are simply their own. In Rev.8:3, we assert that the great Angel, who takes the golden censer, and offers the incense, is Christ, the Angel of the Covenant again. It is objected that the Redeemer has already appeared in the scene as "the Lamb in the midst of the throne." This is no valid objection to our exposition. The natures and functions of Christ are so glorious and full, that one symbol fails to exhaust them. Hence the multiplication of symbols for the same Divine Figure, even in the same scene, is not unusual in the prophets. The symbol of the Lamb represents Christís humanity, the victim of justice, while that of the Angel conveys to us Christ the prophet, and intercessor, and king; a priest upon his throne. There is, then no exegetical difficulty in receiving this angel as a symbol of Christ, and the coherency of this view with the whole passage, and the whole Scripture, every way recommends it.
In conclusion, the powerful demonstration which the Scripture gives us against creature worship is the strongest proof against creature mediation; for if they mediated, they must be worshipped.
The Scripture testimony must hold the fifth, and crowning place. We have heard the Apostle assert, (1 Tim. 2:5) that as there is one God, there is one Mediator, between God and men, and that this is the Being who gave himself a ransom for all. As the words, "one God," doubtless express the exclusive unity of God, so we are bound to construe the counterpart words, "one Mediator," in the same way. And it is implied that He who mediates must have given the adequate ransom, on which to found His plea. So, our Savior declares, (John 14:6) "No man cometh to the Father but by me," and Peter, (Acts 4:12) "There is none other name under heaven, given among men, whereby ye must be saved." So, the words of Christ, (John 6:37) "Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out," at least prove that any other intercessor is superfluous. It is said, that affirmations do not prove the counterpart negative. But when we find the Scriptures full of such passages as Rom. 8:34; 1 John 2:1, 2, which all assert with emphasis that the Lord Jesus Christ is our Mediator, and that there is an absolute silence throughout the Bible as to any other, even this proof is complete.
Feeble efforts are made to break the force of this testimony. To show that saints do make imputable merit for their brethren, Papists point us to Col. 1:24, where Paul claims that "he is filling up that which is behind of the sufferings of Christ, for his bodyís sake, which is the church." We reply that this construction makes the Apostle here teach precisely what he repudiates in 1 Cor. 1:13, "Was Paul crucified for you?" The scope of his argument requires us to construe this question. Was Paul a propitiation for you? Has Christ any rival to divide his credit or claim as the sole propitiation? No. Paul was afterwards beheaded and Peter crucified. Shall we give so preposterous a sense to the argument that the opponent could, after these events, meet the apostolic negative with a flippant "Yes" and say, "Yes, both Paul and Peter have died for the Church, and so, Christ is now divided, and the threefold faction is legitimate." It is only the ministerial and exemplary features of Christís sufferings, in which the Apostle claims a share in Colossians. In that sense, every true laborer and martyr is still furthering the work which Christ began. But His sufferings alone could be vicarious.
The attempt is made to escape the force of the places which assert the oneness of Christís intercession, by saying that He is the only Mediator of Redemption; saints and angels are Mediators of Intercession. On this subterfuge I remark. (a) 1 Tim. 2:5, asserts the singleness of Christís intercessory work first, and at least as pointedly as of His ransoming work. (b) Since intercession is grounded only in redemption by satisfaction, the two kinds of mediators must be one. (c) Roman Catholics themselves undermine their own distinction by impiously ascribing to their creature intercessors an imputable merit as the necessary ground of their influence with Christ.
The consequences of this doctrinal error give us the strongest practical argument against it. It has been the means of thrusting Christ aside, out of the thoughts and affections of Papists, untie Mary and the saints attract a larger share of worship than the Son of God. As the idea of creature Mediators is virtually pagan, it has thrown an almost pagan aspect over the Roman Catholic countries.
8. Christís Anointing. When.
The words Messiah, Christ, mean "Anointed," in allusion to the spiritual unction bestowed on Christ. This was appropriate to all His offices; witness the anointing of Aaron, Saul, David, Solomon, Elisha. The thing typified by the oil, was spiritual endowment, and this was bestowed without measure on Christ (See Ps. 14:2; Is. 11:2; 13:1; 61:1; Matt. 3:16; John 3:34; Acts 10:38). The seasons of this anointing were, not a journey into heaven during the forty daysí temptation a notion unknown to Scripture, and moreover refuted by Luke 2:46, 47Ėbut His birth and baptism especially. The immediate seat of these spiritual influences was His humanity. His divinity was already infinite, perfect and immutable. He is Himself a source of the Holy Spirit, as God. The consequence was, to make Him, not infinite as to His humanity, nor incapable of progress, but perfectly holy, and wise, pure, zealous, faithful, etc, above all others. All forms of grace appropriate to a perfect man acted in Him, in such manners as were suitable to His Person.
9. Christís Offices Three, and Why?
That Christ fulfills as Mediator, the three offices of Prophet, Priest and King, is proved by this argument. We find these three offices predicated of Him in Scripture in a specific and pointed manner, while all other terms of function or service applied to Him as "Servant," "Elect," "Messenger," are rather to be regarded as general appellatives. For the prophetic office, see Heb. 1:1; Is. 11:2 13:1, 2, 61:1; Deut. 18:15, with Acts 3:22Ė26; Is. 49:6, John 4:25. For the priestly, see Ps. 110:4; Heb. 8:1, etc., passim ; 1 John 2:1. Kingly, Ps. 2:6; Is. 9:6, 7; Ps. 110:1; Zech. 6:12Ė14, 1 Cor. 1:30, displays all three offices.
That the offices of Christ are these three, we prove again by showing in detail, that all His mediatorial works can be referred to one or more of these three classes. All is either instructing, or atoning, or interceding, or conquering and ruling or several of them together. The necessity for these offices (which we show) also proves it. Man lay under three evilsó ignorance, guilt, rebellion, and redemption consists of three partsóannouncing, purchasing and applying salvation.
The proof has already been presented, that Christ performs the office of a Prophet.
10. Christís Prophetic Work. Its Three Stages.
The Prophet is Godís Spokesman, aybin: either to enforce, reveal or predict. Christ, in the highest sense, did all. For definition of His prophetic work, see Cat., Que. 24. The work of our Savior had three different stages. First, from the fall to His baptism by John; Second, during His personal ministry until His ascension; Third, thence to the final consummation. During all these stages, He has carried on His prophetic work, by these agencies common to the three. His Revelation given to us by the hand of Prophets and Apostles. His Spirit applying that revelation, and giving understanding and love; His providence, directing our conduct and the events happening us, including a constant, universal and particular control of our mental laws and states as well as physical (This trenches on His kingly powers). But during the first stage, Christ acted as Prophet, in addition, by His theophanies, for which see Hengstenbergís Christol, vol. 1., pp. 164Ė170 and His Prophets, see 1 Pet. 1:10, 11.
During the second stage, Christ literally fulfilled the work of a Prophet in His own person, by inculcating truths known, revealing truths, and predicting future events. During the last stage, He gave His Holy Spirit to Apostles and Evangelists, thus enduing their teachings with His own authority. See John 16:12Ė15; Acts 1:8; 15:28; 2:4; 1 Thess. 1:5.
Wherein Superior To Human Prophets.
Dick contrasts Christís prophetic work with that of all other Prophets, in its fullness; its perspicuity, (arising from His fuller endowments and knowledge, as well as from a clearer dispensation); its giving realities instead of types; its authority, arising from His divinity; and its efficacy, arising from His divine power to send forth spiritual influences along with His word. But when we say Christ was fuller as a revealer, let us not fall into the Socinianís error, who, to make a nodus vindice dignus , while they deny Christís vicarious work, teach that Christ not only developed, but made substantial additions to, and alterations in, the Old Testament. A perfect and holy God could not reveal a faulty code. See also Matt. 5:17; Mark 12:31; Rom. 13:9. And if the pretended cases of alteration be examined, they will be found supported by the teachings of the Old Testament.
11. Christ the True Priest.
THE proof that Christ is a true and real Priest, would begin with texts such as Ps. 110:4; Heb. 5:5; 8:1, et pas . Were there no Socinian evasion, these would end the debate. But their plea is that Peter (Epistle I, Ch. 2:9), and John (Rev. 1:6) call Christians generally Priests. But since the name is thus applied to persons who only render to God the oblation of their thankful service and devotion, its application to Christ does not prove any more. Hence, they assert, it is vain for Calvinists to quote texts which call Christ a Priest, as proof that he was properly so, in the strict sense of the Hebrew ųheK or Greek Iereu" . And they attempt to further their evasion by saying that Christ is a Priest only in heaven, where He performs the intercessory function. If they can gain assent to this, since there is no suffering in heaven, they effectually exclude Christís proper sacrifice and expiatory work. To meet these cunning subterfuges then, we must proceed farther, and show that Christ is called Priest in wholly another sense from believers, and that He literally performs the two peculiar functions of that office: sacrifice and intercession.
This argument leads us to anticipate the evidences by which Christís sufferings are shown to be truly vicarious. The points will therefore be briefly stated here. In Heb. 5:1, we have an exact definition of a priest, as a person "ordained for men, from among whom he is taken, in things pertaining to God, that He may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins." Such, we may add, is precisely the meaning attached to the word by all men, including pagans. The priestly office is a mediatorial one. Its necessity arises out of manís sin and guilt, which exclude him from immediate access to a holy God. The priest is the intermediary who goes for him. Hence, he must have a sacrifice with which to expiate sin and propitiate God, and he must found his plea for his clients on this as the ransom price. No Jew, Pagan, or Christian (not perverted by Socinian views) ever conceived of a priest as anything else than this. But it is far more conclusive to say, that the Epistle, after this definition of a priest, immediately asserts that Christ was made our high priest. The subsequent chapters assert that He was formally and solemnly ordained to the office; that He acted for others, and not for Himself in that office; that He transacted for us with God; and that He offered a vicarious sacrifice. These traits are conclusive of His real priesthood. He was appointed priest (Heb. 7:20) with peculiar emphasis. He made His soul a sacrifice for sin by dying, while Christians, when described as metaphorical priests, only make their services a thank offering by living. See Rom. 12:1. That the Christianís oblation is only metaphorical, the apostle expresses by a beautiful paradox; He is a "living sacrifice." But a sacrifice proper is a thing that dies! It is a very strong evidence that, while the official name, priest, was so familiar to Jews, it is never once applied to gospel ministers in the New Testament. They are "teachers," "presbyters," "ministers," "angels of the Churches," "ambassadors," "servants," but never Ierei"! Finally, Christ is the antitype to a long line of typical priests. See Heb. 8:4, 5; 9:1. That these Levitical officers represented in type, the very idea of the priesthood proper, is demonstrated by every feature of their service. The animals they slew died vicariously. Every act was mediatorial, and their whole function began and was continued with expiation. Now, by the rule that the body must be more substantial than the shadow which it casts before, Christís work, as antitype, must at least be as priestly as that of the prefiguring emblems.
The peculiarities of Christís priesthood are: 1. The dignity of His person. 2. The solemnity of His appointment, by an oath. 3. His combining royalty and priesthood like Melch. 4. His having, like him, neither predecessor nor successor; because, 5. His oblation had such infinite value and complete efficacy, that, 6. It grounded at once an everlasting and all prevalent intercession; and that, 7. Not only for one man, or race, but for all the Elect.
12. Necessity of Satisfaction In Order To Pardon: (1) Question Stated.
The argument for the necessity of an atonement proceeds chiefly on the question, whether distributive justice is an essential moral attribute of God, or whether, as Socinians assert, there is nothing in His nature which renders it less natural and proper for Him to remit guilt without satisfaction, than to create, or leave uncreated, a given thing. The Socinians, as we have seen, in order to evade the doctrine of a vicarious atonement, deny both the necessity of it, and the essential justice of God.
Bear in mind, then, that in this whole argument we attribute to God all the perfectionís which make Him an immutable and infinite Being. We shall not pause to argue these against Socinians, but refer you to your previous course of theology.
The Necessity Not Physical.
But the necessity which we assert for Godís punishing guilt is only moral. It is not a physical necessity like that which ensures that fire will burn, supposing the presence of fuel, and that water will wet, supposing its application. Here, then, falls the cavil of Socinus, that if retributive justice be made an essential attribute of God its exercise must be conceived of as inevitable in every case, because of Godís immutability, (as we call it) so that mercy in every case would be impossible. Divine immutability does not imply that God must ever act in modes mechanically identical, but that His acting must always be consistent with the same set of essential attributes. As circumstances change, His very immutability requires a change of outward acting. Again, for God to effectuate a given part of His decrees of mercy when, in time, the conditions of that execution are first in existence, is no change of purpose in Him. When God passes from wrath to reconciliation, as to a given sinner, it is no change in Him. The change is in the sinner. The same attributes which demanded wrath before, now demand peace, because the sinnerís guilt is gone. The proper view of Godís immutable perfection, therefore, leads us to conclude, that without an atonement they would render pardon of sin absolutely and universally impossible, but that, an atonement being provided, they offer no obstacle to pardon.
Satisfaction Does Not Compel God.
Again, it is another perversion to carry the idea of pecuniary debt so far, in our conceptions of guilt, as to conceive of a vicarious atonement as legal tender. When a security comes forward, and offers to pay the whole debt of the poor insolvent in jail, with principal and interest, cost and charges, the creditor must accept this legal tender; if he does not, he cannot claim payment afterwards. And the insolvent demands his release as of right. Now, guilt is not a mere debt in this sense. It is a personal obligation to penalty, because the responsibility violated was strictly personal, and strict justice would entitle the ruler to hold the guilty party to endure that penalty in himself. Therefore, when the personal relation to law is waived by the ruler, and a substitute accepted, there is an act of grace, of mercy. This is the answer to the objection, that "if the necessity of the atonement be asserted, God the Father performs no act of grace, and deserves no thanks for letting the transgressor go free. He has exacted the last penny, and the release is a mere act of justice." To our Surety it is; but not to us. Besides, was there no grace in giving us the surety to pay for us?
Socinian Objections. Ans. By 4 Distinctions.
Socinians clamorously object, that we who teach the necessity an atonement, strip God of those qualities which in all others would be most noble, generous and admirable; a willingness to overlook His own resentment, and magnanimously forgive without payment of the injury, where penitence was expressed. That we represent God as an odious and cruel being, who would rather see His erring creatures damned, no matter how penitent, than sacrifice His own pique, and who is determined to pour out His revenge somewhere, if not on the sinner, on his substitute, before He will be satisfied. These cavils are already answered by the above view. For a private man to act thus would be unamiable; he is himself a sinner. God has told him, "Vengeance is Mine," and the supreme rule of the manís life is, that he shall do everything, forgiving injuries among the rest, for Godís pleasure and honor. But God is Himself the supreme End of all His doings, as well as Chief Magistrate of the Universe. Turrettin, Hill, etc., also appeal to other distinctions, to rebut these objections. Four things may be considered in a transgression, viewed as against a human ruler. The debt contracted thereby, the wrath or indignation excited, the moral defilement contracted by the transgressor in the eyes of the injured party, and the guilt, or obligation to legal penalty incurred. Now, the plausibility of the Socinian cavil arises wholly from regarding the first three elements of sir!, and studiously averting the eyes from the fourth. So far as the injury done me, as a magistrate, was a personal debt of wrong, humanity might prompt me to release it without satisfaction rendered, for that element of debt being personal, I have a personal right to surrender it if I choose. So far as I have had a personal sense of indignation and resentment excited by the wrong, that also it might be generous and right in me to smother, without satisfaction, in compassion to the wrong doer. I conceive that a certain element of moral defilement has come on him by his evil act, which constitutes a reason for punishing. If he amends that moral defilement by sincere penitence and reform, that obstacle to an unbought pardon is also removed. But it is far otherwise with the debt of guilt to law, of which I am the guardian. That is not a debt personal to me, and therefore I, as lawgiver, may not remit it without satisfaction. If I do, I violate my trust as guardian of the laws. Such is their arguing and it is just. But it applies to God, as against sinning creatures, far more than to human lawgivers. And the same reasoning which show that the human ruler ought to surmount the first, second, and third elements of offense in order to pardon, do not apply to God. The human lawgiver is but a man, and the transgressor is also a man, his brother, and nearly his equal in Godís eye. In the other case, the offended party is infinite, and the offender His puny, absolute property, whom God may and ought to dispose of for the sovereign gratification of His own admirable and excellent perfection.
Godís Glory His Own Properest End.
We shall not say, as Hill incautiously does in one place, that the fact that God is a Lawgiver is the first principle on which the doctrine of satisfaction rests, although we shall, in its proper place, assign it due importance. The importance of Godís justice being protected does not arise only or chiefly from the fact that the order of His universal empire is concerned therein. God Himself, and not His creatureís well being, is the proper ultimate end of His own actings, as well as of our deeds of piety; a doctrine repugnant indeed to all Socinian and rationalistic views, but founded in reason and Scripture. If the perfection and rights of God are such that it is proper all other beings should love and serve Him supremely, by what argument can it be proved that He should not do so likewise? Again, He being before all things, and having all the motives and purposes for making all things from eternity, while as yet nothing was, must have found those motives only in Himself; He being the only Thing existent, there was no where else to find them. Third, if creatures ought to render the supreme homage of their powers and being to God, ought not He to receive it? 1 Cor. 10:31. Last, to make any thing else the ultimate end of the universe, deposes God, and exalts that something to the true post of deity; to which God is made to play the part of an almighty convenience. Let human pride be pulled down. As for Scriptures, see Prov. 16:4; Is. 61:3; Rom. 11:36.
Satisfying His Own Justice Therefore His Chief Motive.
God ought, therefore, to regard transgression, which outrages His holy attributes and excites His wrath, in a very different way from that proper for us creatures, sinners ourselves, when our allow sinners offend us. It may be very true that it is good, magnanimous, for one of us to forgive injury without satisfaction, and to extirpate our indignation for the sake of rescuing our fellow creature from suffering the punishment, but the reasoning does not hold, when applied to the Supreme. The executing of His good pleasure, the illustration of His perfectionís are, for Him, more proper ends than the continued well being of any or all sinful worlds, bestowed at the expense of His attributes. It is a more proper and noble thing that God should please Himself in the acting out of His own infinitely holy and excellent attributes, than that He should please His whole creation by bestowing impunity on guilty creatures. And, therefore, not only do reasons which arise out of God s moral relations to His creatures as their Ruler, but yet more reasons arising directly out of His own supremacy and righteousness, require Him to punish guilt without fail.
Necessity for Satisfaction in order to pardon: (2) argued.
Holiness, Justice, and Truth.
(a) The Scriptures ascribe to God holiness, righteousness, and justice, in a sense which shows them to be essential attributes. See Is. 6:3; Ps. 89:14; 5:4; Gen. 18:25; Ex. 34:7; Hab. 1:13. Rom. 1:18Ė32; 2:6Ė11; 3:6. Some of these passages bring to view His justitia universalis , or the general rectitude of His nature, and some His administrative justice, as dealing with His moral creatures. Now, we argue from the former, that since God is immutable, and this perfection is essential, He will not, and by a moral necessity cannot, be affected by moral evil as He is by good. It is impossible that His feeling and will can confound the two, can fail to be opposed to sin, and favorable to rectitude. But God, while His will is governed by His own perfections, is absolutely free, so that no doubt His conduct will follow His will. Godís distributive justice we naturally conceive as prompting Him to give every one His due. As naturally as well being is the just equivalent of obedience, just so naturally is suffering the equivalent of sin; and justice as much requires the punishment of sin, as the reward of merit. To fail in apportioning its desert to either, is real injustice. Now, does not God assert that His ways are equal? Shall not the like rule guide Him which He imposes on us? See, then, Prov. 17:15; Rom. 2:6Ė11.
Again God has pledged His Truth to the execution of penal sanctions. He has threatened. See Numbers 23:19. The argument is enhanced by the repetitions, energy, and oaths, with which He has said and sworn, the wicked shall not enter into His rest. Hence His essential attribute of truth is engaged to require satisfaction for guilt.
His Actual Government.
(b) The argument from Godís moral perfections is confirmed by observing His administration towards man. In the first revelation made to man, that of paradise, justice was declared as clearly as grace. Was goodness displayed in the bounties to man, and was the adoption of life offered to Him on easy terms? Yet justice added the threat, "In the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die." As soon as innocent man fell, and a religion for sinners was to be revealed, the foremost point of this creed was the necessity that sin must be punished, for the satisfaction of divine justice, truth and holiness.
Perpetual Sacrifice Designed To Teach This.
The chief aim of God in every institution of the Old Testament religion was obviously, to make this prime truth stand out to the apprehension of sinners. What was the prominent addition made to the worship of paradise? Bloody sacrifice; and that, undoubtedly, ordained by God, as we have seen. And this remained the grand characteristic of the religion for sinners, until the "Lamb of God "came to meet the great demand of satisfaction. Wherever the Patriarchs approached the throne of grace, there the altar must be raised, from the day Abel worshipped before the gates of the lost Eden, until Christ rent the veil of the sanctuary. The orisons of faith and penitence must be accompanied with the streaming blood of the victim and the avenging fire of the altar. Prayer could only rise to heaven as the way was opened for it by the smoke of the sacrifice. God was thus teaching all ages, this foundation truth of the theology of redemption that, "with out the shedding of blood, there was no remission." Thus, impressively are we introduced to the Levitical argument.
Argument From Sacrifices.
The necessity of atonement is taught in all the Old Testament sacrifices (as the Gentile sacrifices are the testimony of manís conscience to the same truth). The Apostle Paul, as already intimated, makes a grand induction of the ritual facts of the Old Testament, in Heb. 9:22. "And without shedding of blood was no remission." It is literally true, that the ceremonial law remitted no trespass, sin, or uncleanness, without a substitutionary animal death; save in the exception for the very poor, of Lev. 5:11. Search and see, the theological principle thus set forth is just my thesis; the necessity of satisfaction in order to pardon. Now, there is no idea which is inculcated in the whole of Revelation, so constantly, so early, so carefully. It was the first truth, in the religion of redemption, taught to Adamís family. The awful, bloody symbol of it was ever present in all the worship of the Old Testament Church. With Godís mind, it is ever the first and strongest thought. With manís unbelieving mind, it is the last and least. Indeed, the contrast here is amazing; and the stupidity of the human mind in apprehending this first rudiment is one of the strongest proofs of its natural deadness in sin. Godís example, in perpetually obtruding on sinners the impressive sacrificial symbol of this truth, should be instructive to pastors. They must constantly urge the necessity of satisfaction.
Obstinate Errors of Sinners.
This obstinate obtuseness is manifested at once by the crude notions of the people and the refined speculations of the scholar. Even the convicted sinner is stubbornly oblivious of the claims of God upon his sins, and assigns anything rather than the true ground, his repentance, his reformation, his anxieties, for the title to his pardon. When these "refuges of lies" are swept away, and the soul is left desperate and cowering before its righteous doom, the pastor may hold up the gospel doctrine of satisfaction, and the convicted man will turn from it stolid and blind, until God shines into his heart. Carnal philosophy is equally prejudiced. It proposes any inconsequent scheme rather than the true one, to account for the punishment of sin, and the call for a sacrifice from Christ. One tells us that suffering has no penal significance, but is the regular and unavoidable effect of natural law upon creatures organized and finite as though that law were anything else than the expression of Godís moral will, and as though He had not told us, "death came by sin." Another tells us, that primitive justice is nothing but "benevolence guided by wisdom," that as love is Godís only moral attribute, the only ends of penalty must be philanthropic; that it is but a prudent expedient to protect men from the miseries involved in sin. So, when they come to explain the sacrifice of Calvary, they give any other than the true account of it. Says one, it was designed to attest the divine mercy offered us in the gospel promises. Another, it was to set us a splendid example of long suffering. Another, it was to break our hearts by the spectacle of dying love. And others, it was to make a wholesome exhibition of the evil of sin. The Scripture says it was all this, but it was more, because it was primarily designed to make satisfaction for our guilt.
False Theories of Penalty Refuted.
(c) Many minds, like the great jurist Grotiusí, have deluded themselves by likening Godís penal administration to that of the civil magistrate; which is, in a large degree, an expedient to repress the mischief of transgression. They suppose no higher aim is to be imputed to Godís justice. But the comparison is partial. God has reserved to Himself the supreme function of retribution, delegating to earthly rulers only the temporary and lower purposes of law. Yea, even if the magistrate loses sight of the true ground of his penalties in the evil desert of the crimes he punishes, they at once sink from the rank of a righteous expediency, to that of an odious and unprincipled artifice.
hat the benefit of the culprit is not the true end of penalty may be very quickly decided by the fact, that many of Godís most notable penalties summarily destroyed their objects; as the Flood, doom of Sodom, and the retributions of hell. Of course God has done in these cases what He meant to do. But they say, God, having seen that the amendment of these sinners was hopeless, and that they were infallibly drawing on themselves the worst mischief of sin, made examples of these for the good of others. So His only motive is still benevolence, seeking thus to overrule the unavoidable calamities of the few, to the "greatest good of the greatest number." Having thus placed a fragment of truth in the place of the whole, they sometimes turn on us, with an arrogant contrast between the boasted mildness of their scheme, and what they call the vengeful severity of ours. Our God, say they, is the God of love. Yours is the theology of ancient barbarians, who sanctified their vindictive malice under the name of vindicatory justice, and imagined a God like themselves, pleased with the fumes of His enemiesí blood. They say ours is "the theology of the shambles."
But let us see how this declamation will stand the test of reason and Scripture. Is God any better pleased with a holy creature than with a transgressor? Of course, yes. But for what is He hefter pleased with the holy? For his righteousness. Is it right then in God to love righteousness? Of course, yes. Did He not, He would be Himself unrighteousness. But righteousness and sin are the opposite poles of character. Just as the attraction of the one end of the magnet to the North pole is the repulsion of the other end towards the South, so to love holiness is to hate sin. The perfection, then, which prompts God to the amiable work of rewarding good desert, is the same perfection which consistently prompts to punish ill desert. Hear Anselm of Canterbury, reasoning with his imaginary opponent, Boso.
"To remit sin" (without satisfaction) "is nothing else than not to punish it. And since nothing else than punishment is the right adjustment of the sin that has not been satisfied for, if it is not punished, it is left unadjusted." Boso. "What you say is reasonable." Anselm. "But it is not becoming for God to leave anything in His kingdom unadjusted." Boso. "If I wish to assert otherwise, I fear to sin." Anselm. "So then it does not become God to leave sin thus unpunished." Boso. "So it follows." Anselm. "And there is another thing that follows; that if sin is thus left unpunished, it will be just the same with God whether one sins or does not sin; and that does not befit God." Boso. "I cannot deny it." Anselm. "Look at this too. Nobody is ignorant, that the righteousness of men is under the law, so that the measure of its recompense is dispensed by God according to its quantity." Boso. "So we believe." Anselm. "But if sin is neither paid for nor punished, it is subject to no law." Boso. "I cannot understand it otherwise, " Anselm. "Then, unrighteousness, if it be remitted by mere mercy, is freer than righteousness? And that seems extremely unsuitable. This absurdity also is attached to it. that it makes unrighteousness like God, in that, just as God is subject to no law, so unrighteous is not."
This pretended resolution of punitive justice into benevolent expediency is, in its result, impious towards God, and practically identical with the selfish system of morals. We have seen above, that "manís chief end is to glorify God, and enjoy him forever." This humanitarian scheme says that this would make God the supreme egotist. It proposes as a more suitable supreme end, not self, but mankind, the advantage of the greatest number. This they claim, is true disinterestedness. But is not that which is made our highest ultimate end thereby made our God? It is nothing to the purpose that names and titles are decently exchanged, and man still called the creature, and Jehovah the God. Virtually the aggregate of humanity is made our deity, by being made our moral End; and Jehovah is only retained, if retained at all, as a species of omnipotent conveniency and Servitor to this creature, God. Further, inasmuch as the benevolent man is himself a part of this aggregate humanity, which is his moral End, he himself is, at least in part, his own supreme end! Here the supreme selfishness of this scheme of pretended disinterestedness begins to crop out. In this aggregate humanity I am an integer, "by nature equal" to any other. What then so reasonable, as that I should deem the humanity embodied in myself, as my own nearest and most attainable moral End? Does not the natural instinct of self love point to this conclusion, as well as the facts that I cannot, with my limited nature benefit all, that I am more nearly responsible for my own welfare, and that I have more means to promote it with certainty than any other man? Hence, the properest mode to promote "the greatest good of the greatest number," will be for each one to make his own personal advantage his supreme end! Here the abominable process from these utilitarian premises is completed. Dr. Samuel Hopkins, the great American inventor of this scheme, has himself carried his system to this result, with a candor which is amusing for its simplicity. Says he. vol. 1. p. 475
"As every person is nearest to himself, and is most in his own view, has opportunities to be better acquainted with his own circumstances, and to know his own wants, his mercies and enjoyments, etc, and has a more particular care of his own interest, than of that of others. is under greater advantage to promote his own happiness than others; his disinterested universal benevolence will attend more to his own interest, and he will have more and stronger exercises of it respecting his own circumstances and happiness than those of others, all things being equal, not because it is his own interest, but for the reason just given." That is to say; his virtue will be to practice supreme selfishness, provided he is not selfish in doing so! Thus this boasted scheme resolves itself into one of selfish expediency.
The Effective Expedient Would Be Just.
This theory of penalty receives the following refutation. If it is only a benevolent expedient for reforming sinners and repressing sin, then the expedient which is most effectual is most just. If a case arises in which the criminal and those like him will be more deterred by punishing the innocent than the guilty, it will be more just to do so. The instance may easily arise in actual life. Here, for example, is an outlaw, hardened in crime, desperate, callous to shame, weary of his life, whom it is proposed to curb by punishments. But none of them reach him. Shame has for him no deeper gulfs. The prison is less a hardship than his vagrant and starving life. Corporal pains have little terror for one familiar with misery. Death is rather a welcome refuge than a dread. The expediency fails. But now there steps forth a policeman, who says that there is yet one green spot in this seared and arid heart; that this desperado has an only child, an innocent and tender daughter, whose purity has shielded her from all taint. Punish her with stripes. Let him stand and see her tender flesh torn with the scourge, and hear her screams, and his rugged heart will relent. He will promise anything to save his beloved child. Does not the success of this experiment justify its righteousness? Every right heart answers, with abhorrence, No. Such a punishment of the guiltless would be a monstrous crime. Then we must reject that theory of penalty.
Inconsistent With Omnipotence.
But further, expedients are the resort of the weak. Omnipotence has no need of them for it can march straight to its ends. Now, if love is Godís whole moral rectitude as an infinite being, He must be infinitely benevolent. Why, then, has He not adopted the other plan, to which His omnipotence is certainly competent of effectually excluding the mischief of sin by making and keeping all His creatures holy? Why does He not convert Satan instead of damning him? Thus a large aggregate of happiness would have resulted; all that, namely, arising out of Satanís innocence minus the penal pangs. Moreover, penalty has turned out but all imperfect and partial preventive, after all, for in spite of it earth and hell are full of sin, and God must have foreseen this failure of the repressive policy. Benevolence must, then, on these principles, have led Him to adopt a system of universal efficacious grace, instead of a policy of penal sanctions.
Eternal Punishments Inexplicable.
But especially is it impossible, on this theory of expediency, to account for everlasting punishments under an Almighty God. Here the remedial theory is out of the question; for the culprit is to sin and suffer forever. Nor will the other plea avail, that the penalties in this case are for the benefit of others. For this infliction is to continue everlasting ages after all the penitent shall have been perfected, and the perfect securely enclosed within the protecting walls of heaven. There, endowed as they are, with perfect love and holiness, they need no threatening example, to keep them from sin. He who holds this theory of punishment, must, if he is consistent, go on to modern Universalism, or else he must deny Godís omnipotence over free agents.
Affirmative Arguments From the Teaching of Conscience.
Resuming the affirmative argument, I make my first appeal to conscience. Every man who believes in a God, believes His justice the same in essence with that imprinted on his own conscience. For two reasons, we must believe this. That we are made in Godís rational image. And that Governor and governed must live by the same code of justice in order to under stand each other. Let any man, then, ask himself impartially, why he approves of a just punishment. The answer of his reason will be simply, because the sin deserves it. Our judgment of right and wrong is intuitively accompanied with the conviction of good and ill desert. But, desert of what? Reason answers: of reward or penalty, of well being or suffering. The title to the one is a counterpart to the title to the other. That this judgment is intuitive, is disclosed by the following instances. If any reverent or fair mind is asked how the presence of so much suffering in the world can consist with Godís benevolence, the reason turns instinctively to the solution. Because so much sin is here. The presence of the sin justifies the presence of the suffering. Second, every sane human being who is in his sin, dreads to meet God. Why? Witness the moral fear of death, and the certainty with which the most reckless men apprehend their doom and its justice, when the solemn hour has dissipated vain illusions and recalled the soul from the chase of vanities. The same conviction is familiarly but justly argued from the conscious guilt of pagans, and their desire for expiatory sacrifice. Said Ovid. Timor fecit Deos . To this shallow solution Edmund Burke answered. Quis fecit timorem. The belief in God and conviction of His punitive justice must be a priori to the fear of them. Third, when any right minded man witnesses the escape of a flagrant criminal from justice, he is indignant. He says. "The gallows is cheated," and this expression conveys a certain just complaint and sense of moral grievance. Should the escaped man chars e this as a malicious thirsting for his destruction, the spectator would indignantly deny this construction. He would say. "My sentiments are not cruelty, but justice." And he would declare that they were compatible with sincere pain at the anguish of a justly punished culprit.
Title To Penalty Correlative To Title To Reward.
We have seen that the title of the guilty to penalty is the correlative to the title of the righteous to reward. If a benevolent policy may properly suspend the former, why not also the latter? But we presume that if the consciously righteous man were robbed of his immunity, pro bono publico , against his own consent, no picture of the beneficent results would reconcile his soul to the intrinsic injustice. Let the student ponder, in this connection, Prov. 17:15; Rom. 2:9Ė11; 2 Thess. 1:6. This loose view of punishment thus appears peculiarly foolish and suicidal in those who hold it, in that they with their Socinian tendencies, rely more or less on their own merits for their acceptance. But if sin carries the same merit of penalty that righteousness does of reward, and if they wild have God sever the former tie at the dictate of expediency, they must be prepared to find the latter uncertain also.
The Law Immutable.
The moral law is the transcript of Godís own essential perfection. This teaches us to expect that permanency in it, which our Savior, in Matt. 5:18, claims for it. But is not the penal sanction a substantive part of the statute? The common sense of mankind would certainly answer, yes. What is the object of a penal sanction? To support the law. If then the law is to be immutable, the penal sanction which supports it must be so. There is a curious evidence of the judgment of human legislators on the question whether the penal sanction is a substantive part of the law; that in their prohibitory statutes, it is the only pert they usually publish at all. Now then if the law is irrevocable, the penalty is also inevitable.
Else Godís Requirement of Us Unfair.
The whole of the above argument may be put in a very practical light thus. Is not judicial impartiality with God "a matter of principle?" The upright human judge who was entreated by the convicted man, or by his counsel, to act as the Socinian expects God to act in pardoning would be insulted! Now, how does God require us to act, in matters of principle? He literally requires us to die rather than compromise our principles. He requires us to meet martyrdom, rather than yield them. Now does God first command us to seek our complete rectitude in the imitation of Himself, and then act opposite to His injunction to us? Surely not. In representing the necessity of satisfaction as so high, as to call for the infinite satisfaction of Christís death in order to make sin pardonable, we conform precisely to the system of morals which the Scriptures commend to us for ourselves. The tendency of Calvinism is wholesome herein.
Other Doctrine Is Corrupting.
On the other hand, the looser doctrine is as corrupting to man as it is dishonoring to God. Its advocates flout the obligation to penalty in every sin. They say Calvinism deifies revenge. They declare substitution and imputation immoral fictions. The student may be forewarned that, when he hears one of these "advanced thinkers" thus teaching, if he be not idly babbling, he had best be shunned as a man not to be trusted. It is a confession of indifference to moral obligation. He who is ready so flippantly to strip his God of His judicial rights, will probably not stickle to plunder his fellow of his rights. In this theory of guilt and penalty, he has adopted the creed of expediency. Will he not act on it, when tempted by his own interests? Worse than all, he has fashioned to himself a God of expediency. Says the Psalmist (115:8), "They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them." As man never comes up to his model, a corrupt idol always sinks the votary to a lower degradation than its own. Nor could God repair this consequence by any perceptive stringency. Shall He forbid us to sacrifice principle to expediency, even to save life itself? Shall He exact of us martyrdom itself, rather than we shall tamper with right and truth; and all this under the penalty of His eternal wrath? Shall He charge us, also, that our holiness is to consist in imitation of Him? And shall He then adopt a standard of expediency for Himself which He has so sternly inhibited to us? The only effect would be to make men hypocrites.
Argument From Godís Rectoral Justice.
(e) Moreover, does not God bear moral relations to His creatures, as well as they to Him? Gen. 18:25. Surely. As Ruler, and especially as Almighty Ruler, with nothing to hinder Him from doing His will, He is bound to His own perfectionís to rule them aright, as truly as they are bound to Him to serve aright. This being so, retributive justice will be seen to flow as a necessity from the holiness and righteousness of God. By these attributes God necessarily and intrinsically approves and delights in all right things. Wrong is the antithesis of right. A moral tertium quid is an impossibility, as the mere absence of light is darkness. There is no moral neutrality. Hence, it results, that God must hate the wrong by the very reason He approves the right; e. g., if a man feels moral complacency at a filial affection, will he not, ipso facto, be certain to feel repugnance at ingratitude? I see not how God would be holy at all, unless His justice were necessary.
Again, were it not so, God would be unjust to His innocent creatures. Sin is injurious to all but infallible, being contagious, and universally mischievous. God has been pleased to adopt a plan of moral sanctions, to protect the universe from sin. Those beings who kept their covenant with God have a right on Him, which He, in infinite condescension, gave them, to be protected efficiently. Hence, His righteousness must lead Him to inflict penal sanctions with exactness, for it is well known that uncertainty in this encourages transgressions, confounds moral distinctions, and relaxes government. Should God do thus, He would be sacrificing the well being and rights of those who deserved well at His hands, to a weak compassion for those who deserved nothing. Godís essential justice is the foundation of the rights and order of the universe. Unless its actings are certain and regular, we are all at the mercy of an unprincipled Omnipotence. Even the damned have no interest in making Godís justice uncertain, because it is the only guarantee that they shall not be punished more than they deserve. And the wider Godís dominions, the greater strength have all these arguments, forcible as they are even in the narrow domain of the family, school or state.
Pardons By Magistrates No Precedents.
The parallel drawn from acts of pardon without satisfaction, safely and beneficially indulged in by human rulers, is deceptive, because they have not the divine perfectionís of omnipotence, unchangeableness and omniscience. It might be no dishonor to a human magistrate to modify his purposes; he never professed to be either perfectly wise or immutable. Cases may arise of conviction, where the evidence of guilt is uncertain, or the criminal intention doubtful. In these cases, and these alone, the pardoning power may find a wholesome exercise. Such cases have no existence in the administration of an omniscient God. Once more, the power and authority of human rulers are limited. They must govern as they can, sometimes not as they would. God can do all things.
In a word, Godís moral government, in its ultimate conclusion, must be as absolute and perfect as His own nature. For, being supreme and almighty, He is irresponsible save to His own perfection. Therefore, if He is a Being of infinite perfection, His government must be one of absolutely righteous, final results. It will be an exact representation of Himself, for He makes it just what He pleases. If there is moral defect in the final adjustment, it can only be accounted for by defect in God. It must be an absolute result, because the free act of an infinite Being.
(f) The death of Christ argues the necessity of satisfaction. For Socinus admits that He was an innocent Man, Godís adopted Son. Surely God would not have made Him suffer under imputed guilt (He had none of His own), unless it had been morally necessary. In this view, we see that the atonement, instead of obscuring, greatly exalts Godís love and mercy; that though He knew the price of pardon must be the blood of His own Son, His pity did not fail.
Tacit Admission of Adversaries.
(g) Last, it is tacitly implied in the admissions of Socinians themselves, that God could not consistently pardon without the repentance and reform of the sinner. For this gives up the point that, in some sort, a satisfaction to the divine honor must be exacted. But, repentance and reform are not satisfactions. Second, we shall prove that repentance is the consequence and result of pardon, so that it cannot be its procuring cause. An injured man, we admitted, might regard repentance as obviating the third element of transgression, the subjective moral turpitude. But, in Godís case, it may not, because God must bestow the repentance as truly as the pardon, and as a consequence of the pardon. See Acts 5:31; Jer. 31:18, 19.
We will close with these general Bible testimonies to the necessity of satisfaction. Heb. 7:27; 8:3; 9:7, 12, 22, 23, 28; 10:9, 10, 26, 27Ė29; 2:10, 14, 17.