« AnteriorContinuar »
- The doctrine of the atonement has been supposed to be countenanced by the agony of Christ in the garden. He felt greater depression of mind at the prospect of crucifixion than many of his followers have shown in like circumstances, which, it is said, must be attributed to the evils which God then in. flicted upon him, in a supernatural manner, for our sins. But the whole of what our Lord felt upon this occasion may be accounted for upon the principles of human nature, without supposing any miracle, if we reflect how much men usually suffer from the prospect of violent pain, and how greatly the sufferings of Christ must have been aggravated by the long previous knowledge which he had of all the dreadful circumstances of his death. The prospect of common evils, such as bodily pain, is very distressing, and frequently much harder to be borne than the actual pain itself; but those which Christ had in view possessed every thing that was dreadful; he knew that he was to be publicly insulted, nailed alive to a cross, exposed naked upon it for several hours to public view, in company with malefactors who deserved so painful and ignominious a death. Not to have been distressed at such a prospect would have argued either gross stupidity, or something superior to human nature. To have been distressed at it in so high a degree, is to be attributed to his having had a distinct know. ledge of his death communicated to him, accom.
panied with all it's dreadful circumstances, twelve months before.
Where violent bodily pain is to be endured, the longer men know of it before, the more do they suffer from the apprehension ; for every time they think of it, their feelings must rise to a higher degree of acuteness, as to receive a blow upon a part already sore increases the pain. In this manner, by foresceing his death, and frequently thinking upon what he was to suffer, for so long a period beforehand, were the feelings of Christ increased to that agony of distress which we see him suffering in the garden. This account is rendered probable, by observing that he frequently foretold his own crucifixion, and that the prospect of it appeared to make a strong impression upon his mind at an early period.. Long before the event, he says, “ I have a baptism to be baptised with, and how am I straitened (or pained) until it be accomplished !” Luke xii, 50.And, on another occasion, within a few days of his death." Now is my soul troubled, and what shall I say ? Father, save me from this hour? but for this cause came I unto this hour;" John xii, 27. These passages show, that Christ looked forward to his death for some time with painful apprehension. These apprehensions must be continually increasing as the event was approaching; and when he was in the garden, and knew that he was about to be apprehended, they were at the height, and produced those
violent emotions which are described in the evangelists.
As to the sins of others, it is natural to suppose that his mind would be less at leisure to attend to them than at any other time, being necessarily occupied with the sense of his own sufferings; and ac. cordingly we find, that all he says upon that occasion respects himself only : “ Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt." That the presence of God forsook him, whatever be meant by it, is not at all supported by fact; and when he was oppressed with sorrow, an angel was sent to comfort and strengthen him.
He went through the scene of his crucifixion with wonderful composure, and without the least appearance of any thing like agony of mind. His saying,
my God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" was probably nothing more than his repeating the first verse of the twenty-second Psalm, to which he might wish to direct the attention of those who were present, as it contained many things peculiarly applicable to his case. There is nothing in this scene, any more than his agony in the garden, but what is easily explicable upon the supposition of Christ being a man: indeed every thing concurs to favour this supposition; and to assert, that he was then un
any agony of mind, impressed upon him in any inexplicable manner by the immediate hand of God, in order to aggravate what he would naturally suffer,
and thereby make his sufferings an adequate expiation for the sins of the world, is a mere arbitrary assumption, not countenanced by any one circumstance in the narration.
I have now finished what I proposed by showing · you the great design for which Christ died, and by explaining those figurative and other representations of his death, which have been supposed to prove, that he died to satisfy divine justice, and to incline the merciful parent of mankind to forgive the offences of his offspring. Nothing now remains but to make a few inferences from the subject, which I must reserve for another opportunity.
INFÉRENCES FROM THE FALSEHOOD OF THE DOCTRINE
OF CHRIST'S ATONEMENT.
JOHN xvi, 26, 27..
. At that Day ye shall ask in my Name: and I say not
unto you, that I will pray the Father for youe ; 1 for the Father himself. loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God.
Having now finished what I proposed to de liver upon the doctrine of the, atonement, I shall briefly recapitulate what I have said, upon the sub; ject, in order to prove, that it is as inconsistent with Scripture as it is with reason, and then make some inferences from the subject. In the first discourse I endeavoured to show, upon what terms God is ree presented in Scripture as receiving those into his favour, who had offended him. There it appeared, that all which God requires of men in the Old Tes: tament is, that they should repent of their sins and reform their conduct, or, in the words of Scrip: ture, that they should cease to do evil and learn to do well; that the wicked should forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts, for that then God would