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to his disciples to the end of the world, and dying that man might live for ever; rising from the dead by his own power, ascending to the throne of his Father, there to reign until he shall have subjected all things to his own dominion; he is the most wonderful being in the universe. First of all, he is truly and properly a man.1 He has a human body and a human soul. Born of woman, increasing in favor with God and with men, placed under law, his condition on earth comprising the essential elements of a state of probation, no stronger proof could be given, than is found in these facts, of his true and proper humanity. Then, he was really, and in the highest sense, divine. This is perfectly obvious from his testimony concerning himself. Being a man, he made himself God. Calling himself the 'Son of God,' declaring again and again his oneness with the Father, as it would be blasphemous for a mere man to do, appropriating the attributes, performing the works and receiving the homage of God, the evidence would seem to be complete, that he is really a divine being.3 Thirdly, the true divinity and proper humanity are united in the one person Christ Jesus. We may not suppose that his human nature was made divine, or that his divine nature was made human. It is impossible to conceive how this could be done; and if we were to suppose it accomplished, then Christ would be an essentially different being from what he is represented to be in the Scriptures. The union of the human with the divine is such that Jesus could with propriety affirm, 'I am man, I am God, and I am both God and man.' One and the self-same person suffered as man and acted as God.4 Should any allege that such a statement involves mystery; it is granted. But here, as elsewhere, a distinction must be taken between mystery and absurdity. To understand everything about Christ, were not possible for finite minds; but the point now under consideration is a fact plainly revealed. As such, it may be understood and believed; while the mystery attending it, incomprehensible by us, may be left with those 'secret things which belong to God.' To admit our own insufficiency and ignorance may be humiliating, yet it is not unbecoming; but to deny the great doctrine of the divine and human united in the person of Christ, is to exalt human reason at the expense of revelation.5 You could not have met the views of Dr. Emmons on this subject with the full admission of the divinity, unless you also acknowledged the proper humanity of the Lord Jesus. Again, if you had recognized the man Christ Jesus in your discourse, he would
1 Works, Vol. IV, p. 584. * Ib. p. 591.
2 Ib. pp. 596-600. 3 Ib. pp. 585-588.
Person and Atonement of Christ.
have anticipated the complement of his unique and glorious character, by hearing you ascribe to him the works and award to him the worship of the true God. His conceptions of the person, offices and works of the Saviour were so exalted and peculiar, that no system could realize, no representation embody them, which did not invest him with all the milder attributes of man and make him the centre of all divine perfections. Results of the highest moment are connected with the admission that he is a man; an essential part of his great work becomes an utter failure, unless he be seen as the true God and eternal life; then only is his whole nature shadowed forth and his sublime work complete, when the divine and human meet in one person Christ Jesus. With a single extract to show how important Dr. Emmons regarded a belief in Christ's divinity, we pass on to the atonement. Having affirmed that a denial of this truth is a virtual impeachment of the Saviour's veracity, while it at the same time sets reason in conflict with revelation,1 he remarks
"That the establishment of Christ's divinity establishes the beauty and consistency of his whole character and conduct. It is this which demonstrates the rectitude of his moral character; and so renders him worthy of respect and imitation of the Socinians themselves. It is this which gives value to his death, and so renders him a complete and allsufficient Saviour. It is this which reconciles all the great things ascribed to him by the prophets and the apostles. It is this which renders him worthy of the humble homage and praises of all the hosts of heaven. It is this which establishes the truth and importance of the Gospel. It is this which ratifies the truth of those great and precious promises that remain to be fulfilled, and assures us that religion shall have a long and universal reign. It is this which affords permanent light and consolation to all good men, while passing through the dark and dreary journey of life. In a word, it is the Divinity of Christ which spreads a lustre over the face of the world, and calls upon Zion to rejoice that her God reigneth." 2
The Atonement, necessary to illustrate the veracity and vindicate the justice of God,3 was made by the sufferings, and not by the obedience of Christ.4 His perfect obedience qualified him to perform his great work; but, strictly speaking, was no part of the work itself. The lamb must be without blemish,' indeed; but it was the death of the immaculate lamb which constituted the real efficacy, the life of the sacrifice. Something was to be done to display the unimpaired integrity of God's character, while he should proclaim pardon to the offender. This, mere obedience, how perfect soever, could not do. It was need
1 Vol. IV. p. 592, 593. 2 Ib. p. 594. 3 Vol. V. pp. 18–22.
4 Ib. pp. 27, 33
ful, as a qualification for him who was to make the sacrifice; but the sufferings were indispensable that the great Lawgiver and Sovereign might vindicate his righteousness and yet forgive the sinner. True, he was 'obedient unto death;' but the death was what the exigencies of the case demanded, and herein is to be sought the whole virtue of his atonement.
The death of Christ is not to be understood as a price paid for the redemption of a sinner. He paid neither our debt of punishment, nor our 'debt of obedience.' He neither sinned, nor was punished. It would be absurd to suppose, therefore, that he literally paid our debt of punishment. Equally unreasonable would it be to imagine that his obedience answered all the requisitions which God's law makes upon us. His obedience was on his own account, and not ours. It cannot literally be transferred to us. It merits nothing for us. What, then, is meant by sinners being redeemed with the precious blood of Christ,' and the church's being purchased with his own blood? Simply this: Christ has made, by his sufferings and death, an adequate atonement for sin, on account of which God can consistently offer salvation to all, and actually bestow it on every penitent, believing sinner.' The blood of Christ cannot literally pay a debt of guilt, but it can and did atone for that guilt, and procure the offer of pardon from a merciful God." In the resemblance of this forgiveness of sin to a discharge from a pecuniary obligation, lies the force of the representation that we are 'purchased by the blood of Christ.'
Such being the nature of the atonement and its efficacy in procuring the pardon of sin under a perfect moral government, it becomes a question of intense interest, How shall the sinner avail himself of this provision of mercy? Are all who have sinned forgiven of course, now that an atonement has been made; or are there certain conditions to be complied with, before a single offender can be absolved from his terrible liability? We are thus brought to the doctrine of
§ 11. Justification by Faith.
To be justified, according to Dr. Emmons, is to be pardoned, to be forgiven, or to have the punishment due to sin remitted.3 The term justification, though borrowed from the practice of civil courts, has this peculiarity of meaning: that they whom God justifies for Christ's sake, while treated as just, so far as the suffering of punishment is concerned, are not regarded as just in respect of the desert of punishment. The
1 Works, Vol. V. pp. 32, 33.
2 Ib. p. 35.
Ib. p. 44.
Justification by Faith.
Sovereign views them actually guilty of transgression and deserving to suffer that penalty by which his law is sanctioned; still, on account of the blood shed by their Substitute, he glorifies his own mercy in delivering them from condemnation. This is justification — complete forgiveness, nothing more, nothing less. This is granted to sinners solely for Christ's sake, on account of the atonement which he has made; and it is the great thing of which every sinner stands in perishing need. Without it, not a ray of hope can reach him from heaven or earth. With it, he is prepared to be rewarded for all good deeds, as though he had never sinned, and will at last be glorified in heaven. This is all that God bestows upon the offender on account of the atonement.? Whatever else he gives, is given on other grounds, for other reasons. Dr. Emmons did not deny that other blessings may be vouchsafed to us indirectly through Christ. He freely admitted this.3 But he saw no discrepancy between this and the position which he defined so clearly, and so earnestly defended, that forgiveness of sin is the only thing which comes to us directly on account of his death.' This especially and only, was what rendered that death necessary.
The condition on which any are justified for Christ's sake, is faith. 'Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God.' It is only to them that believe, that the promise of pardon is ever verified. This faith is speculative, historical, and practical. It involves correct apprehensions of Christ, a belief that he is the divinely-appointed Saviour, affectionate reliance upon him, and supreme devotion to his service. With the heart man believeth unto righteousness.' 'The very essence of that faith which secures salvation, is love to Christ.'4 Correct theory respecting his offices and work, is not enough. An historical belief that he entered our world at the time, and lived and died in the manner which the Scriptures declare he did, is not enough. The clear perception that his death was necessary, that he fully met all the exigencies of the case, and that if the sinner does not believe in him he must perish, is not the essential element of true faith. There must be the utter renunciation of self-righteousness, and the hearty reception of Jesus Christ as a personal and all-sufficient Saviour.5
This faith in Christ presupposes love to God and repentance for sin. 'That holy, disinterested love which fulfils the law, is the first fruit of the Spirit.'6 In the order of Christian graces, this takes precedence; and it is also an important element in each of the excellences that adorn the child of God. It is impossible that a sinner should mourn over his sins in a godly manner, until he truly loves the God whose law he has
1 Works, Vol. V. p. 4 Ib. Vol. I. p. 140.
2 Ib. pp. 55-68.
5 Ib. Vol. V. p. 44.
Ib. pp. 60, 61 et 71.
6 Ib. p.159.
broken. This love, in its very nature, is virtual hatred and practical abandonment of sin. Enthroning God on his affections, the offender abhors himself, and repents as in dust and ashes.' His heart fixed on God in supreme love and turned towards sin with mingled sorrow and hatred, he is prepared to welcome Christ in his character of Saviour. Seeing the glory of the divine perfections and the holiness of God's law and condemning himself on account of his transgressions, he looks for help and cries out for mercy. The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world,' is presented to his despairing heart, and he is assured that God can through him be just and yet forgive the offender. He looks, believes, and is saved. Thus faith in Christ presupposes, in the order of nature, repentance for sin; and repentance presupposes love to God. From the necessities of the case, this order cannot be reversed.2 We are thus led to inquire as to our author's opinions of
§ 12. Regeneration.
Dissatisfied with much that had been taught on this subject, he investigated it for himself, and endeavored to give it that character and place in his theological system, which the Scriptures and a reasonable faith alike approve. The results of his investigation may be briefly stated. Regeneration in a human soul is the commencement of supreme love to God. It is the beginning of a new moral life. Mere awakening, or alarm on account of danger, or conviction of sin, though antecedent to, is no essential part of the new birth. Nor is it the mere reformation of external deportment, though this usually follows it. It is not the production of any new natural powers, or the implantation of a new taste or dormant principle, lying back of the will and, not by action but simply by being there, giving character to its acts.3 Such a principle is a figment of fancy; and, even if you admit its existence, it can serve no valuable purpose. You cannot predicate of it either volition, or reason, or activity. Its supposititious existence is as needless as it is unphilosophical. Sinners already have the powers, and the whole powers of a free moral agent. What others do they require? The creation of new faculties is not what they need, but a disposition to use aright the faculties they have. The word of truth is not, 'Thy people shall be able,' but 'Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power.' 'To make a new heart and a new spirit,' is to turn from the supreme love of self to the supreme love of God. As soon as a sinner yields the homage of his heart to his Maker, he is born of God,' of the Spirit in 3 Ib. p. 123.
'created anew,' or regenerated.
The special work
1 Works, Vol. V.