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and by, that this is true of the sacrifice of Christ, and that it cannot be true of any thing else; but, in the mean time, I shall expose
the error to which I adverted in a preceding page of this number. After having declared the mass to be a propitiatory sacrifice, it is asserted in “ The grounds of Catholic doctrine,” that a propitiatory sacrifice is that by which God is moved to mercy;" and in the mass, such a sacrifice is offered. Now this is ascribing more to the mass than can be justly ascribed to the sacrifice of Christ himself, and to all that he did and suffered, while on earth.
The minds of Papists are so estranged from the knowledge of the true God, that when they do speak of him, they speak of him as if he were an idol. They look upon God the Father as if he were a cruel and austere Being, not of himself inclined to be merciful; and they consider that the intercession of Christ, and of the Virgin Mary, and other saints, and the sacrifice of the mass, are all necessary to move him to mercy. With such a false idea of God in their minds, they cannot worship him otherwise, or from any other motive, than that from which the American Indians worship the devil—that he may not hurt them.
It is not true, even of the sacrifice of Christ, that it moved God to mercy, or that it was necessary for that purpose. Christ did not come into the world, and lay down his life, to purchase or procure the mercy of God for sinners. Such an idea is quite inconsistent with his own explicit testimony, in which he declares his work of saving sinners, to be the work which his Father had given him to do. So far from requiring to be moved to mercy, by the intervention of any agent, divine or human, God is in himself infinitely merciful; and it was in the mercy of God the Father, that the salvation of sinners originated. Christ does not tell his disciples, that he came into the world in order to move his Father to be merciful to them. He ascribes the sending of himself, and all the blessings which he brought with him, to the mercy of his Father. loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in hiin should not perish, but have everlasting life." John iii. 16. “When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, that he might redeem them that were under the law.” Gal. iv. 4, 5. • Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the
propitiation for our sins.” 1 John iv. 10. And those who are saved by faith in Christ, are taught to trace up their salvation to the mercy of God the Father. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his abundant mercy, hath begotten us again to a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." 1 Pet. i. 3. From such passages as these, and there are many such in the Bible, it is evident that God is not moved to mercy by the consideration of any thing done, or to be done, in heaven or in earth. The popish doctrine, therefore, is most erroneous. It
presents a false view of the divine character; and from such a view of it, nothing but fals or idolatrous worship can proceed.
Christ came into the world to do his Father's will. This was to make reconciliation for iniquity, and bring in everlasting righteousness ;—to accomplish the salvation of sinners, by giving his life a ransom for them. This was not to procure the mercy of God; but to
“ God so
satisfy his justice, without which, mercy could have no place; for mercy, at the expense of justice, would be inconsistent with all that the Bible makes known to us of the divine character. The justice of God is as essential, and as amiable an attribute as his mercy; and the law of God is as holy and as amiable as his gospel. Christ magnified the one which we had broken, and satisfied the other which we had offended. He “put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” By giving himself up to the death, he made a full and sufficient atonement for sin; so that our salvation is ascribed to Him alone, who hath redeemed us to God by his own blood. The pretended sacrifice of the mass is an impious attempt to rob him of the glory that is his due. It diverts the minds of men from the work of Christ, to the work of a fellow-creature of a priest, who pretends to offer up daily a propitiatory sacrifice, while he has no more power to do so, than he has to create a world.
THE SCRIPTURE DOCTRINE OF SACRIFICE AND ATONEMENT. THE MASS SACRIFICE IM
PLIES A REJECTION OF THE SACRIFICE OF CHRIST UPON THE CROSS.
SATURDAY, September 25th, 1819. My last number contains the doctrine of the church of Rome, on the subject of the mass, as laid down by the Douay and other catechisms, and by the supreme authority of the council of Trent. The mass is declared to be a real propitiatory sacrifice, for the living and the dead; and if any man shall say otherwise, " let him be accursed.” It is the object of the present number to show that this is a great and fundamental error; that it sets aside the sacrifice of Christ; and that it implies no less than a rejection of Christ himself, as the Saviour of the world; for as there is no other name, so there is no other sacrifice than that of Christ, in virtue of which a sinner can be saved. If a man trust in the mass sacrifice for propitiation, he is trusting in something else than the righteousness of Christ; and this is the same thing as to trust in another Saviour.
A propitiatory sacrifice is that on account of which God's anger is turned away from sinners,—that for the sake of which he pardons their sins, receives them into a state of friendly intercourse, and gives them everlasting life. As sinners, we can have no friendly intercourse with our Creator, any more than a band of rebels could have with their sovereign. If it were so that convicted traitors enjoyed the countenance and favour of the king, it would appear to every good subject, that he had compromised the honour of his crown and government; and that, in fact, he encouraged rebellion against his own authority.
Sin places mankind in the state here supposed, in relation to the Creator and Sovereign of heaven and earth. As transgressors of his law, we are rebels against his authority; and to suppose friendly intercourse to exist—to suppose rebels to enjoy his favour, and to have access to him as friends, would appear to all other intelligent creatures, as indeed it would appear to the rebels themselves, a departure from the strictness of his law, a relaxation of the rules of his government,
and an encouragement to continue in disobedience. There is no way, therefore, by which it is possible that sinners, such as we all are, by nature and by practice, can be brought to the enjoyment of the divine favour, or into a state of friendship with God, but in the way of a propitiatory sacrifice, offered by one adequate to the undertaking, and accepted by Him whom we had offended by our transgressions.
Such a sacrifice Christ offered upon the cross. He loved us," says an apostle, “and gave himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God of a sweet smelling savour." This sacrifice was fully adequate. As such it was accepted. It derived infinite value from the dignity of Him who offered it; and the fact of such a sacrifice being necessary, in order to the restoration of sinners to favour and friendship with God, shows, in the most striking manner, the evil of sin, the divine abhorrence of it, and that disorder and disobedience cannot be suffered with impunity, under the divine administration.
The sacrifice of Christ consisted in giving himself up to death, and that by the shedding of his blood upon the cross. This was not the mere surrender of natural life. His death contained all that was implied in the sentence of death denounced against the first transgression :-" In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” This death consisted in the loss of the image and favour of God, and the effects of his displeasure, which, to immortal creatures, must necessarily be eternal, unless reparation be made equal to the eternal punishment of creatures. This was done in the sufferings of Christ, when' he made his soul an offering for sin ;-when he bare the sins of his people in his own body on the tree;—when God laid upon him the iniquities of them all; when he poured out his soul unto death, bearing the sins of many, and making intercession for the transgressors. Then God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses to them: that is, when Christ offered himself in sacrifice to God upon the cross, God was in him, by that sacrifice, making reconciliation, or taking away the grounds of difference, which stood between him and sinners of the human race. In the work of obedience and suffering, of which his death was the consummation, Christ satisfied the justice of God, magnified his law; and showed both his law and justice in characters more glorious, than could have been exhibited by the obedience and the suffering of all creatures put together.
In the sacrifice of Christ, therefore, a ground is laid for the salvation of sinners, consistently with the character of justice, which is as essential in Deity as that of mercy. Nay, if we can use, with propriety, the language of comparison on such a subject, we may say it is more so; for we can conceive of Deity without mercy, at least without the exercise of mercy; for there was no occasion for this until sin and misery entered into the universe; but it is impossible to have rational conceptions of Deity, without the attribute of justice. A ground being thus laid for the salvation of sinners, by the sacrifice of Christ, it is effectual to the salvation of every one who believes the divine testimony concerning it; for he that believes this, acknowledges himself to be a sinner, and to deserve eternal punishment; he is brought to cordial repentance for his sins; he comes to Christ as a needy suppliant; he trusts in him alone for pardon and deliverance from sin, as well as from its punish
ment; and Christ has said, “ Him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out."
The offering which Christ made of himself to God as a propitiatory or atoning sacrifice, was so excellent, as to supersede all other sacrifice. From the time that mercy was revealed to our first parents, and a Saviour promised to come of the seed of the woman, until this Saviour did come, God was worshipped by sacrifices. Animals were slain by divine appointment; and the believing worshipper, confessing his sins over the head of the bleeding victim, was taught to look for pardon, not for the sake of the blood that was shed by his hands, but through the blood of the Saviour, who was typified and represented by the lamb, or other animal, offered in sacrifice. The sacrifice of Christ availed for the salvation of those who believed the promise of his coming, and professed this belief by the offering of beasts, as really as it avails for the salvation of those who believe that he has come according to the promise, and that he has put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. “ Him hath God set forth to be a propitiation, through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness, for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare at this time his righteousness; that he might be just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus." Rom. iii. 25, 26. Thus we find that sins which were past, or committed before the coming of Christ, were remitted on account of the propitiation, or sacrifices which Christ made of himself; and that God is just in granting the pardon of sin to them who believe in Christ.
Now, this sacrifice of propitiation being made, there is no need of any other; and we are explicitly taught, in the New Testament, that all others are superseded by it. The sacrifices which were offered according to the law of Moses, as well as those of the patriarchal state, were mere shadows or typical representations, of the sacrifice of Christ, and could be of no use after the substance, or thing signified, was come. They never were of any use in themselves, but merely as pointing or directing the mind of the worshipper to Christ and his sacrifice; and now they are of no use at all; nay, so far from being useful, the repeating of them would be nothing less than rebellion against God, and a rejecting of the sacrifice which he has provided.
I believe there is nothing laid down in the word of God more plainly than this. It was the principal design of the writer of the epistle to the Hebrews to prove to Christians, who were Jews by birth, that the ceremonial part of the law of Moses was abrogated; and he is particularly explicit upon the subject of sacrifice. It is scarcely possible to use words to express more strongly the fact of every divinely appointed sacrifice having terminated in that of Christ, than the apostle uses in the tenth chapter of this episile. He says “that the law could not, with those sacrifices which were offered year by year continually, make the comers thereunto perfect'' _" that it was not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats could take away sin.” “If such sacrifices could have affected this, they would not have ceased to be offered;" in which words it is implied that they have ceased to be offered. And we shall see, by and by, that this applies not only to the bloody sacrifices under the law, but to every thing that can be named, or thought of, that is of the nature of a propitiatory sacrifice. Such sacrifices
have ceased to be offered; and therefore there is no such thing as that which Papists call the sacrifice of the mass.
The apostle declares that the sacrifices which the priests offered daily, could never take away sins; “ but this man,” speaking of Christ, " after he had offered one sacrifice for sins, for ever sat down at the right hand of God; from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool; for by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified,” verses 12-14. Here every thing that a propitiatory sacrifice could accomplish, is declared to be accomplished by the one offering or sacrifice of Christ. They who are sanctified by the will of God, through the offering of the body of Christ once, are declared to be perfected for ever; that is, they have a perfect standing before God, as justified persons, on the footing of what Christ has done for them; for the apostle cites the words of God by Jeremiah," Their sins and iniquities I will remember no more," and then he draws this unavoidable inference, “Where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin,” verses 17, 18. Again the apostle declares, in the same chapter, “ If we sin wilfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins; but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.” That is, if persons will continue to live in sin, after they are told of an atoning sacrifice, and of the mercy of God ready to pardon, and to give a new heart to serve him, they must abide the consequence. They must suffer not only the punishment of their former sins, but also the fearful punishment of that greatest of all sins—despising and rejecting the blood of Christ, which made atonement for sin: For those who reject this sacrifice shall never have another. But the church of Rome professes to have a sacrifice to offer for sins every day ;-a sacrifice, which, they say, profits both the living and the dead, which helps them to mercy, and moves God to mercy, and relieves them, less or more, from the punishment which their sins deserve. There are no words in human language that can express the diabolical wickedness of such a doctrine. It is directly opposed to the plain declaration of God himself, in the words which I have just cited; and it goes to set aside all the faithful threatenings and warnings which are contained in the Bible. Men may live in sin, and die in sin, and yet have the benefit of a propitiatory sacrifice to relieve them from the punishment which they deserve! The church that teaches this is guilty of the murder of all the souls that perish in the delusion.
The great and fundamental error of the church of Rome, on the subject of the mass sacrifice, appears in this, that it necessarily implies a rejection of the one sacrifice of Christ upon the cross. The sacrifice of Christ was a sufficient atonement for sin, or it was not. Those who say that it was not, plainly reject the gospel testimony, and are not to be reasoned with as Christians; but ought at once to be classed with avowed infidels. Those who say that the sacrifice of Christ was a sufficient atonement for sin, and yet plead the necessity of another sacrifice—of a sacrifice daily repeated, in order to move God to mercy, contradict themselves, and without the honesty of the avowed infidel, they put themselves upon the same footing, and equally with him reject the sacrifice of Christ.