Obrázky na stránke

which is objected against, does not hinder, but it may be, as it plainly is, an appointment of the very same kind with what the world affords us daily examples of."

“ Men, by their follies, run themselves into extreme distress,-into difficulties which would be absolutely fatal to them, were it not for the interposition and assistance of others. God commands, by the law of nature, that we afford them this assistance, in many cases, where we cannot do it without very great pains, and labor, and sufferings to ourselves. And we see in what variety of ways one person's sufferings contribute to the relief of another, and how, or by what particular means, this comes to pass, or follows from the constitution and laws of nature, which come under our notice; and being familiarized to it, men are not shocked with it.” pp. 416, 417. Wilson's 2d edition.

These remarks perfectly aocord with what I believe to be true, as to the sense in which Christ suffered for us. The cases are numerous in which good men expose themselves to suffering, in their attempts to benefit, or save the guilty, or vicious. In this sense, one often suffers for another; and the virtuous frequently thus suffer for the guilty. Sometimes, too, the sufferings result from the prejudice, the malignity, and the violence, of the very persons whose happiness the sufferers are seeking. These appear to me as examples of what Peter meant, by suffering “as a Christian," and suffering " for well-doing ;” and also what the Messiah meant, by suffering " for righteousness' sake,"—for “his sake,and “ for the gospels sake."

What I regard, as the inaccuracy of Bishop Butler, does not appear in the passages I have quoted, but in what he says in connexion with them, in which he represents the sufferings that men endure, in their exertions to befriend the guilty, as “vicarious punishments." The next sentence to the one last quoted, is the following :-“ So that the reason of their insisting upon objections of the foregoing kind against the satisfaction of Christ, is either, that they do not consider God's settled and uniform appointments, as his appointments at all, or else they forget that vicarious punishment is a providential appointment of every day's experience.”

In reference to the same kind of suffering, the Bishop had before said, “vicarious punishments may be fit and absolutely necessary."

There is a sense in which such sufferings may be properly called “ vicarious sufferings," as one suffers them for or on account of another, and with a hope to save the other from suffering. But I am not acquainted with any sense, in which such sufferings can with any propriety be called " vicarious punishments." It is remarkable, that so profound and accurate a thinker, should have applied the word punishment, to sufferings “for well-doing.” But he had, probably, been long in the habit of speaking of the sufferings of Christ, as of the nature of punishment for our sins. It was his object in writing, to illustrate an analogy between the phenomena of natural providence, and the phenomena of the Christian dispensation. He clearly perceived an analogy between the sufferings which good men have often brought on themselves by their exertions to save the guilty, and the sufferings of the Savior of the world; and to perfect his analogy, he applied to both, the terms “vicarious punishment.” He was I think, correct in supposing, that if the terms are applicable in either case,

they must be in both. Had he excluded the idea of punishment from the sufferings of Christ, he would have had no temptation to apply it to other sufferings for well-doing. Had he omitted it in both cases, his analogy on this point would have been perfect and striking. But after representing the sufferings of Christ as a punishment endured by the innocent, as a substitute for the guilty, he might in vain have sought for any analogy to this in the course of natural providence, had he not resorted to the unwarranted expedient of applying the term punishment to sufferings for well-doing.

It is true, that the barbarous usages of war might have furnished many examples, in which military vengeance has been inflicted on those who had no concern in originating the quarrel between the parties, and on such ground, the party inflicting the evil has professed to have done enough to vindicate his honor, and consented to pardon the guilty, or make peace

with him. But such facts would have been too shocking to the mind of Bishop Butler, and to other Christians, to be exhibited as analogous to the conduct of God in the sufferings of his Son. Yet, shocking as the idea must be to every reflecting Christian, it may be seriously doubted, whether there be any thing else, in the course of natural providence, more analogous to the hypothesis, that God inflicted on his innocent Son, “ the punishment due to us all,” that he might, consistently with his honor, pardon the penitent.

It would not be difficult to show, that later writers than Bishop Butler have also failed of making a proper distinction between punishment and sufferings for well-doing. But instead of this, I shall briefly exhibit further evidence of the importance of making this distinction.

In the Sermon on the Mount, our Lord said to his disciples,—"Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake ; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you, falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven; for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” Matt. v. 10–12.

Would Christ have thus encouraged men to expose themselves to displays of God's avenging justice ? Would he have pronounced men “ blessed," who suffer the effects of God's displeasure? or would he have called on them to “rejoice” in suffering punishment from the hand of their Maker? No reflecting Christian can, I think, answer these questions in the affirmative ; or, having duly considered the subject, deem it proper to denominate such sufferings "vicarious punishments.”

It then becomes a serious question :-Did not the Lord Jesus “ suffer for well-doing ?” Was he not“ persecuted for righteousness' sake?” In his last interview with his disciples, before the crucifixion, he said to them,

“ If they have persecuted me, they will persecute you." “ In the world ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Then, in the Revelation, he is represented as saying, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne." Rev. iii. 21.

After Jesus had given his disciples such powerful encouragements, in his Sermon on the Mount, to suffer for “ righteousness' sake,” he gave them an example of such sufferings, in that " for the joy that was set before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame.” On this ground, Peter encouraged Christians patiently to suffer for welldoing, and said,—"For hereunto are ye called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.” 2 Pet. ii. 21. If, then, it is improper to regard the sufferings of the Apostles and other Christians for righteousness sake as vicarious punishments, why not equally improper so to denominate the sufferings of Christ ?

With little variation, I may here repeat the words of Bishop Butler : “ The infinitely greater importance of that appointment,” by which the Captain of our salvation suffered, “ does not hinder, but it may be, as it plainly is, an appointment of the very same kind as that,” by which others have suffered for well-doing,” or “for righteousness' sake.”

The Bishop appears to have been fully aware, that these different “ appointments,” are of "the same nature.” In this, I cordially acquiesce; but I cannot agree with him, that such sufferings are " vicarious punishments,” or punishments of any kind, in any proper sense of the word.

The hypothesis that Christ did not suffer punishment for us, but suffered for righteousness' sake, is, in my opinion, so far from diminishing the value of these sufferings, or their efficacy on human salvation, that it enhances their value, sets them in the strongest light, and puts it in our power to understand how they may have their saving influence. This point is, I hope, fairly illustrated in another chapter.

« PredošláPokračovať »