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the Church's most deadly antagonist. Notwithstanding the
. more fascinating aspects in which the Broad-Churchism of these later decades has succeeded in presenting a negative theology of “example," even when “self-sacrifice," and “martyrdom,” and “ fidelity amidst suffering," are contended for, the notion of “example” is, after all, the essence of every view of the Cross which fails to present it as a substitutionary sacrifice to satisfy Divine justice, and reconcile us unto God. In whatever fresh and constantly changing forms anything less than that chooses to present itself, it will uniformly be found that radically and at bottom it is really nothing more than a Socinian evasion of the idea of atonement, propitiation, substitutionary and juridical sacrifice. The arguments that suffice to overthrow Socinianism overthrow Broad-Churchism too. There are, indeed, these two alternatives, and no morethe orthodox “sacrifice to satisfy Divine justice,” and the Socinian interpretation of “example.”
In all cases it is towards Socinianism that the natural man inevitably gravitates, because the other passes a severer condemnation upon himself than he can bear. He is content, from his want of conviction of sin, to take up with any view of the Cross that allows him to escape without assenting, and (especially) consenting, to those juridical views of sin in which the conviction essentially consists. Is“ sin any want of conformity unto or transgression of the law of God” ? Does every sin, as such, “ deserve God's wrath and curse, both in this life and in that which is to come”? Then, without entering into any moral philosophy of the nature, origin, and function of conscience, enough to say that conscience is that faculty which consents unto the truth of these things : and if so, there is, staring us in the face, in point of fact, a juridical case already, calling for juridical redemption such as we have in view when, in the language of every Calvinistic church on earth, we say: “Christ executes the office of a priest, in his once offering up of himself a sacrifice to satisfy Divine justice, and reconcile us unto God; and in making continual intercession for us.”! The whole Westminster, which is the catholic, doctrine of sin and sacrifice-for-sin-wrath as sin's desert, and reconciliation as the result of such sacrifice-is seen to hold beautifully
1 Shorter Catechism.
Sin not a calamity, but moral wrong.
together. The same thing is true of a correct representation of sin, and of Christ's sacrifice for sin. The desert of sin must correspond with his design of sacrifice for sin. If the real nature of sin be denied, as violation of necessary and truly moral law; and if (consequently, the righteousness of God's wrath and curse fail to be recognised ;—if, on the contrary, the notion be that sin is a calamity or a disease for which the adequate attitude of the Divine mind must be compassion, wrath or curse would then only be synonymous with hatred and grudge—cruel hatred and degrading grudge, or rage ;-in that case, the only existing or tenable pre-supposition of holy, justice-satisfying, or reconciliatory sacrifice is altogether absent; and defence of the Westminster doctrine of the Cross becomes impossible.
Our views of sacrifice-for-sin must be determined by our views of sin itself, and these again by our views of moral law. Where moral law is assimilated to laws of nature, and transgression of it to transgression of them, in the very nature of things sin becomes more a calamity to be deplored than a criminality to be condemned, and place cannot be found in men's minds for the idea of a propitiatory sacrifice. If a man cannot say, “ Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done evil in thy sight; that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest," then how can he be willing to add, “ Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow”?
There is a passage in the Epistle to the Hebrews (ix. 13, 14) which may at this stage be somewhat carefully examined, with advantage to our argument:—“If the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh; how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works, to serve the living God ?"
It is evident that it contains one central and absolute and supremely important proposition : “The blood of Christ
purges the conscience to serve the living God.” The proposition, however, is not put forward in this gaunt and naked form. It is set off and enriched by a twofold rhetorical method. There is, first, the use of a comparison drawn from the Old Testament
ordinances, according to the use and wont of this archaic and beautifully variegated epistle, and followed by an argumentative "how much more?”—enforcing the still more obvious certainty that Christ's sacrifice for sin is efficaciously such as is being pleaded for. Into the nature, design, and results of those ancient and divinely appointed ordinances, with their certain action and unquestioned efficacy, we need not now enter, further than to notice these two essential points ;-(1) that they were not matters of will-worship, but indeed appointed by Divine authority; and (2) that they carried with them undoubted efficaciousness for the ends for which they were instituted. Poor types or illustrations of the sacrifice of Christ they would have been had they not! But of the fact that "the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctified unto the purifying of the flesh,” thoroughly removing in God's own way all disability for, access to, and engagement in, the worship of God as instituted and maintained in Israel of old, there could be and was, no doubt whatever. And that the assertion of this undoubted fact was entitled to be followed by the “how much more ?" when asserting the efficacy of the sacrifice of Christ is equally plain; while the otherwise absolute and somewhat bald-like statement of what is really the leading and invaluable proposition (concerning the efficacy of Christ's sacrifice) is, as we have said, both rhetorically enriched and argumentatively sustained.
But apart from this equally striking and powerful comparison, there is (2) a whole galaxy of considerations, rendering to the great central proposition the same service, in the words, “The blood of Christ, who, through the eternal Spirit, offered himself without spot to God.” None of these considerations—and we find four of them, all equally conclusive-enter grammatically into what we called the great fundamental proposition which the inspiring Spirit is desirous of teaching us. That proposition is complete at once in point of grammar and logic and rhetoric without them. But that various really enhancing and enriching considerations are presented to our notice by these accessory statements, it may be important to tarry long enough to show.
First. Thus, as bearing vitally upon the efficacy of the • He (himself) offered himself.'
sacrifice, we are called to remember that he who offered it is the “ Christ;" no private individual, engaging in a private and non-official transaction, but “the Christ” of God, divinely appointed by supreme Divine authority, and anointed and qualified by the Divine Spirit (Luke iv. 1) for offering a powerful, public, priestly, and efficacious atonement.
Secondly, We have the great thought that he was personally and perfectly holy: which he required to be-both the spotless Lamb of God, if he would take away the sin of the world (John i. 29), as well as a not only duly appointed but adequately furnished high priest; for “such an high priest became us, who was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners (Heb. vii. 26). And in close alliance with that holiness, which“ became” at once the object of worship (Heb. ii. 14), the offerer and the client (Heb. vii. 26), and which is so often adverted to as essential to “the Christ” who would redeem us, both as an acceptable Lamb of sacrifice and the efficacious high priest of our profession, we are taught to regard his resurrection and ascension, when, without either a break or a pause in his statements, the writer to the Hebrews goes on to tell us that he is now “made higher than the heavens”
' (Heb. vi. 26-27).
Thirdly, It would be an unpardonable mistake to omit pointing how powerfully discriminated and distinguished from all merely typical sacrifices that of Christ is, by his being priest as well as sacrifice,-a consideration never forgotten or omitted by the Spirit of truth—“ He offered up himself.”
And, Fourthły, The efficaciousness, acceptableness (to the Father, of course), and unsearchable perfection and glory of this sacrifice of Christ, are all affirmed in the strongest possible manner when it is declared that He achieved and presented this Sacrifice on the Cross in the utmost that even the eternal Spirit could enable Him to do, by filling his person and action with all the moral excellency and glory that he could create and impart to his person—“He through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot unto God.”
Each of these four considerations enters vitally into the reality, efficacy, glory, and acoeptableness to God, even the Father, of the propitiatory sacrifice for us which Christ offered on the Cross. And we might descant almost to any extent on
each of them, if our intention was to give a full exposition of the passage of Holy Scripture in which the insignis locus and this illustrious congeries of statements occur.
But after all that we could say—and there is scarcely any end to what might relevantly, forcibly, and with advantage be said on these great themes of theology-it still remains an indubitable, and to any clear-thinking mind it is, in point of fact, an undoubted truth that the grand thought is independent of them, and sufficient by itself alone to engross attention : “The blood of Christ purges the conscience from dead works to serve the living God." And what possible meaning such language can have on any supposition anent the sacrifice of Christ which traverses the great truth that it is propitiatory, atoning, satisfying Divine justice, and righteously reconciling us to God, to a justly angry God, cleansing our persons
also even unto the utmost depths of conscience from all imputation of sin both in God's sight and our own, the moment we concur with him, and have conscience with him in our case as it really stands in his view, and as it ought to stand, and does stand in our own, if we have due conviction of sin, it is impossible to
Our argument will be strengthened by a careful examination of these great words.
“Dead works" are works done in a state of spiritual death. A man's works are as the man himself is : If alive unto God, his works will be living; if spiritually dead, so also will his works be. Dead in trespasses and sins, the unconverted and uncalled sinner cannot present a living sacrifice. The very
ploughing of the wicked is sin ” (Prov. xxi. 4). Cut off from God personally, so also are his works, and therefore “dead." It is the great principle that Christ himself pleads for: "Make the tree good if you would have the fruit good ;” “An evil tree cannot bring forth good fruit, neither can a good tree bring forth corrupt fruit." So also, "In that a man liveth, he liveth unto God.” For he is the “Living God," and, as such, the effectually called and truly believing serve him. They“ serve the living God.” Naturally we do not consider God for any practical purpose as the “living God." The man whose works are “dead,” or who has not been "purged from dead works," does not consider his God as “living." He is himself spiritually dead, and his works are as himself. The moment he