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Indeed, no angel, no created being, however pure and exalted, could make any atonement for sin. For, as creatures, they must owe obedience on their own account ; and, though a new nature and new powers were conferred, yet the duties and obligations resulting from them would also be binding, and consequently they could never perform an obedience, the merit of which could be imputed to another. But the eternal Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, when there was no eye which could pity, nor hand which could help, offered himself to undertake this arduous task. “ Lo, I come," said he to his Father; "in the “ volume of thy book, it is written of me, I
delight to do thy will.”. For him a body was prepared ; when the fulness of time was come, he assumed this body, he veiled that glory which he had enjoyed from eternity with the Father, he descended into our abodes of sorrow, he was made of a woman, and made under the law, he became the substitute of sinners, and though he did no sin, and though no guile was found in him, yet was he numbered among the transgressors. But he has satisfied the demands of divine justice, and made a complete atonement for the sins of men,
This atonement consists of two parts, his sufferings and his obedience.
The first was necessary to deliver the sinner from eternal-destruction the second, to purchase for him an eternal inheritance.
Jesus Christ having taken upon himself the guilt of sinners, likewise submitted to their punishment. From the day of his birth to the day of his death, he lived in poverty, distress and suffering. He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. But towards the close of his life, his sufferings increased with redoubled violence. In the garden of Gethsemane, he sweated great drops of blood, and gave signs of the inexpressible anguish and agony of soul which he endured, by praying to his Father in these words, Father, if it be possible, let “ this cup pass from me.”
His soul was exceedingly sorrowful even unto death : his body was racked and torn upon the cross. But these were the least part of his sufferings.He groaned under that immense load of wrath which was due to millions of sinners : the powers of hell combined against him in this hour of darkness : his heavenly Father withdrew from him the light of his countenances
for, amidst his exquisite sufferings, he exclaimed, “ My God, my God, why hast thou for* saken me?" At last, he said it is finished, and gave up the ghost.
The second part of Christ's atonement consists in that perfect obedience which he
gave to the law in the room and for the sake of sin
His sufferings and death are called his passive obedience, and his obedience to the law his active obedience. This was a necessary part of his atonement : because a perfect and sinless obedience being required by the law, and being a requisite condition for obtaining eternal life, the law could never have been satisfied, nor eternal life obtained, unless this obedience, which we were perfectly incapable of performing ourselves, had been given by another, and made ours by imputation. Thus the Apostle Paul expressly says, Rom. v. 19. “ As by one man's disobedience, many were “ made sinners, so by the obedience of one,
many shall be made righteous.” The meaning of which appears to be, that, as the disobedience of Adam, who was the federal head and representative of his posterity, by being imputed to them, made them all guilty, in like manner, the obedience of Christ, being a part of his atonement, and being imputed to his followers, makes them righteous in the sight of God, and gives them a title to eternal life no less sure than if they had performed that obedience in their own person. But, it must be remembered, that, Christ obeyed the law in place of his people, only as it was to be considered as the condition of eternal happiness, and not as a rule for the direction of their conduct, In the former light, christians are exempted from all obedience ; in the latter, they are laid under stronger obligations to it. Christ's sufferings and obedience, then, make that complete robe of righteousness which covers every defect in the person who is clothed with it, which redeems him from the curse of the law and the dominion of sin, which reconciles him to God, and which gives him a title to the heavenly inheritance,
Having thus stated the constituent parts of the atonement, let us shortly consider its value. The sufferings of Jesus Christ were equal in amount to that punishment which otherwise would have been endured by those who derive the benefit of them. He was made sin and a curse for them ; he was wounded for their transgressions, and bruised for their iniquities ;
he bore their griefs and carried their sorrows; he was compassed about with the pains of hell. While the scriptures authorize us to infer, that, the punishment was translated from the sinner to Christ ; they give us not the smallest intimation of any change in the nature of the punishment. But it is plain that when we say so, we mean to include only the essential parts of punishment, and not those circumstances with which it has but an accidental connection. Jesus could never feel that despair which is the constant attendant of the damned, which is a great aggravation of their misery, but which is the necessary consequence of their situation, and which arises from this circumstance, that their sufferings shall have no end.
In like manner, it was not necessary that the sufferings of Christ should be eternal, because the eternal duration of the pains of hell does not arise from the punishment itself, but from the inability of the sufferer to discharge his debt, which prevents him from being released until he has paid the utmost farthing.
Secondly, Christ's atonement was infinite in value. This is evident, if we consider the infinite guilt of sin for which the atonement was