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CHRIST THE TRUE AND PROPER SACRIFICE FOR SIN.
1 Cor. xv. 22.
As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
With the doctrine of the ever-blessed Trinity is connected that of Christ's incarnation, and sufferings for the sins of men; and so close and necessary is this connexion, that neither Scripture nor reason will suffer us to receive the one without the other. If Christ had no being before he was conceived in the womb of the Virgin, what sense is there in these and such like expressions ? A body hast thou prepared for me ;' Heb. x.5. He took not on him the nature of angels, but he took on him the seed of Abraham,' Heb. ii. 16. The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us,' John i. 14. And, if he had not a being from all eternity, that is, if he was no more than a creature, he could not make an atonement for the sins of other creatures; for it is, at least, as much as the best creature can do, to be solvent for himself; more, infinitely, than he can do, by his highest merits, to bring in God his debtor for eternal happiness. How, then, can he merit this for another? An angel cannot do it; ‘for God chargeth his angels with folly ; Job
Every creature, as such, is fallible, corruptible, and perishable; 'but we neither were,' nor could have been, * redeemed with corruptible things—but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without blemish, and without spot;' 1 Pet. i. 18, 19. "He,' who 'by his blood obtained eternal redemption for us,' Heb. ix, 12, *is the First and the Last,' Rev. i. 17, and, consequently, neither did nor could sin.
'The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord ; Rom. vi. 23. Sin, we see, is punished with death, that is, with a separation
of soul and body here, and from God both here and hereafter. If the Scripture had not assured us of it, we should, by a parity of reason, have concluded, that righteousness must be rewarded with life, temporal and eternal; because the opposition between sin and righteousness must, according to the rules of justice, be found between the reward of the one, and the punishment of the other.
Here, however, we must distinguish as the apostle hath done, who calls' death the wages of sin,' because it is deserved ; whereas he calls 'eternal life the gift,' and elsewhere the free gift of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord,' because our highest righteousness could never entitle us to it. Although, therefore, the wicked are said to be punished in the strict and proper sense of the word, the happiness, of the righteous is represented not as a proper reward, nor as an effect of justice, inasmuch as they are not properly righteous; but an effect of divine grace and goodness. Yet now, that eternal life or happiness is stipulated for by the covenant, we in some sense ascribe it to justice, and call it a reward.
It is farther to be observed, that if in Adam all die, in him also they must all have sinned, and forfeited their title to eternal life, as the apostle informs us, Rom. v. 12. 'By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed on all men,' as the wages of sin. On the other hand, 'if in Christ all shall be made alive,' all must first be made righteous in him; because eternal life is the gift of God to righteousness alone. If faith and reformation have qualified us to receive this gift, we shall all be made alive at the last day,' that is, shall not only live in a reunion of soul and body, but also in an eternal reunion with God the source of life, through Christ, who is the way, the Truth, and the Life.'
If this doctrine is sound and true, it teaches us to believe, that, beside the good or evil of our own actions, the sin of Adam, and the righteousness of Christ, are imputed to all who derive by natural descent under the former, and by grace and faith under the latter. But, for the farther establishment of this doctrine, I shall endeavour, with the assistance of God's word, first to clear the imputation, on which it is founded, of the difficulties wherewith some think it clogged; and then to prove the satisfaction made for sin, by the death of Christ, so fully, as to leave no doubts on that subject in the minds of my hearers.
In the first place, then, among the many arguments, or rather cavils, raised against this imputation, I shall only take notice of such as the Scriptures seem to give some weight to; for I speak not now to those who reject the Scriptures.
It is objected by some, that justice can never allow one man either to be punished for the sin, or rewarded for the righteousness, of another; and that, accordingly, God tells us by Ezekiel xviii. 20, · The soul that sinneth, it shall die; the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.'
These words, and a good deal more in that chapter to the same effect, are God's reply to the Israelites, who, al. luding to the second commandment, had said, 'Why? doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father? The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge.' They are likewise a close paraphrase on Deut. xxiv. 16. “The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children, be put to death for the fathers; every man shall be put to death for his own sin.' Now as the second commandment, was a part of the moral, so this is a part of the judicial, or civil law given by Moses; and therefore the one is, as to the Mosaic economy, appositely returned in answer to the other. Yet herein it is, by no means said, God will not, in his general and providential economy, 'visit the sins of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generation. These words of the second commandment must be true, as well as those of the prophet; as true, I mean, in respect to God's providential visitations, as those of the prophet are in respect to the aforementioned precept of the judicial law: which precept is here made the basis, for so much, of a new and spiritual dispensation, namely, of the Christian ; for it does not appear, that, from the days of the prophet to those of Christ, the Jews were on a different footing, as to this matter, from that on which they had been before the prophecy was uttered. This is still made more evident by Jer. xxxi. 29, where the same proverb is objected, and thus answered : “Ye shall not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel. But every man shall die for his own iniquity ; every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge. Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah ; not according to the covenant I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt;' ver. 30~32. From hence it is plain, that the entail of punishment is considered as founded on the moral part of the Mosaic dispensation, and the reversal of it promised as a part of the Christian. Experience makes it plain also, that this dispensation of reward or punishment to every man, according to his own deeds, is to be taken in a spiritual sense, and in reference to the equity of a future judgment; for, in this world, Christians, as well as others, suffer, both naturally and providentially, by the iniquity of their fathers. And here it may be observed, that, when Christians are so visited at this day, it is not in consequence of the Christian law; nor does it even seem any otherwise the effect of a particular providence, than as their sins, which have left them nothing but the mere name of Christians, have excluded them from the benefits of the Christian covenant. If such pretended Christians, and real transgressors, lie exposed to the natural course of things, and are made to bear the iniquities of their fathers, as well as their own, this can neither impeach the justice of Providence, nor be so construed as to contradict the sense of the prophets. Enough, I think, hath been said to clear the meaning of both the prophets on this subject.
And now, what, after all, hath this to do with the imputation of Adam's sin ? Is there a single word concerning him, his sin, or the imputation of it, in these passages ? No; but the same rule of equity, say the objectors, holds good in respect to all fathers, and their children. We must beg their pardon for demurring to this bold assertion; because, as we presently shall see, the case may be so differently circumstanced, as to make a different rule equitable. It will be sufficient for the present to observe, that the case of mere personal sins is very different from that of public and common sins; and that, although the crimes of a private person are not to be punished in another private person, which is the precise thing forbidden in the twentyfourth of Deuteronomy, it does not follow, that those of a representative shall in no sense, or degree, be visited on the community he represents.
The other part of this objection, which is purely deistical, appears to have more in it, because it seems to be founded on natural reason and equity. Justice, say the objectors, can never allow one man either to be punished for the sin, or rewarded for the righteousness, of another. But deistical as this argument is, I shall not pass it by unnoticed; because the Arians, and others, pretending to be Christians, having endeavoured to graft it on the Seriptures, press us with it on all occasions.
It is not needful, on either side of this question, to make any distinction between degrees of punishment, or of reward; what is true of one degree being true of all, namely, that it is just or unjust, either fit or unfit, to be the matter of divine appointment. But it ought here to be laid down, that the question is, not whether one man's good or evil actions can become the very actions of another, which none but a fool will affirm; nor whether the merit or demerit of actions can so pass out of one into another, as to become the proper inherent merit or demerit of that other ; but whether either may not be justly so imputed to, or entailed on another, as that the other may enjoy the effects o fthe first, or suffer those of the last, in the same manner as if they were properly
In this case, the person to whom the imputation is made, is said to be rewarded or punished; not, I own, in the strict sense of the words, but in a sense of equal significance as to the question in hand, which turns, not on the supposition of a transfer, acknowledged impossible, but on the justice or injustice of an imputation. In speaking to this subject, I shall draw my arguments from known facts, whether civil, natural, providential, or scriptural, as they
And, to begin with the imputation of actual merit, or, according to our state of the question, with that enjoyment of good which one man reaps by the merit of another; we know, that, in most countries, estates and honours are con