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Christ's Views of his own Sufferings.
Had the Messiah understood that bis sufferings were to be a substitute for the punishment due to sinners, it is reasonable to suppose that he would have given some intimation of the fact, either in announcing the objects of his mission,-in predicting his own sufferings,-in his private interview with his Apostles before the crucifixion,-or in what he said of the day of judgment. What, then, are the facts in these cases ?
1. In all that Christ said of the objects of his mission, I have been unable to find a word which has any appearance of intimating that he came to suffer as our substitute. It is true, that in one instance, he said,—“The Son of Man is come not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many."
But the meaning of this has been explained, and, I hope, satisfactorily, in another chapter.
2. In various forms, the Messiah predicted his own sufferings and death ; but in all of them he was silent as 10 his suffering as a substitute. On one occasion, he predicted his own death, by saying, "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life." John iii. 14, 15. Let it, then, be considered, that the brazen serpent was not listed up as an expression of God's anger, Lut of his saving mercy, and that even so the Messiah was to be lifted up," as an appointed means for the healing of our moral maladies.
In the parable of the vineyard, the Savior foretold, in a very intelligible manner, that his death would be effected by persecutors. The prophets that had been sent to the Jews, he denominated “ servants," while he took to himself the rank and title of an only Son. Though the Jews had persecuted the prophets, “ beating some and killing some;”—yet having one Son, God sent him, saying,
they will reverence my Son.” But “they took him, and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard.” Mark xii. 1-9. How could Christ have more clearly represented that his sufferings would be of a nature similar to the sufferings of the prophets that had been persecuted even unto death. Besides, Jesus was so far from representing that his sufferings would be a substitute for the sufferings of his enemies, that he forewarned them that God would destroy the murderers of his Son.
There is still further evidence that Christ foretold his sufferings, not as effects of God's avenging justice, but as the effects of persecuting malignity. A little before the account of the transfiguration, Matthew says,—“From that time forth Jesus began to show unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.” Matt. xvi. 21.
From this passage, it would seem that Matthew here meant to give the substance of what Jesus “ from that time forth” communicated to his Apostles respecting the sufferings that he was to endure, and what would be the nature and causes of his death. Mark and Luke both mention this instance of Christ's foretelling his death. Besides this, Luke mentions what the angels said on this subject to the women at the sepulchre of Jesus, after his resurrec
tion. Perceiving that the object of the women was to see the body of Jesus, the angels said to them,—“He is not here, but is risen. Remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, saying,—The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” Luke xxiv. 6, 7.
Such were the predictions of the Messiah respecting his own sufferings, without any intimation that to the “ many things" which he should suffer from " the elders and chief priests,” would be superadded infinitely greater sufferings from the avenging justice of God.
3. With respect to the private interview of Christ with his disciples a little before his death, it may be observed, that it appears to have been his desire not only to instruct them, but to comfort them, and to suggest considerations adapted to fortify their minds, and to prepare them for the awful event which was then at hand. If then he had understood that his sufferings were to be a substitute for the punishment due to the Apostles and all other sinners,—that this was the only ground on which any sinner could be forgiven, and that this doctrine was to be the theme of Apostolic preaching; how natural it must have been for him in that interview to disclose the all-important facts! Surely nothing could have been more natural or more interesting ; yet we look in vain to find one idea of this kind, in any part of the interview. I can account for this silence on no other ground, than that Jesus had no such ideas to communicate,in other words, that he did not understand that his sufferings were to be a substitute for the punishment due to sinners."
4. If the sufferings of Christ were known to him as a substitute for the punishment due to sinners, and the only ground on which God pardons the penitent, it would be natural to expect to find these essential ideas clearly communicated in what he said of the day of judgment and future retribution. But in all he said on these subjects, I have not found the least allusion to such a doctrine, or such a mode of divine forgiveness. On the contrary, the Messiah, in unequivocal language, represented that men will be rewarded or punished according to their own characters or works. The faithsul servant is to be rewarded according to his improvement of the talents committed to his trust. The slothful servant is to be punished for hiding his talent in the earth, or neglecting to improve it. To one class of people, the King or Judge will say, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you.” But why this mark of approbation and acceptance ? Does the Judge say,— For I suffered an equivalent for all the miseries which justice could have inflicted on you, and ye are justified by the imputation of my righteousness?' Not a word of all this is to be found as uttered by the Judge. But in assigning the reasons for his approbation, he says "For I was hungry, and ye gave me food; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye lodged me; I was naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye assisted me; I was in prison, and ye visited me. . Then the righteous will answer him,-Lord, when did we see thee hungry, and fed thee; or thirsty, and gave thee drink ? When did we see thee a stranger, and lodged thee; or naked, and clothed thee? When did we see thee sick or in prison, and visited thee? The King will reply to them, -Verily I say unto you, that inasmuch as ye have done this to any the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Matth. xxv. 35–40. Campbell's translation.
Is it then to be believed, that the Savior himself would have given such an account of the ground or reasons of our acceptance with God, had he supposed that the penitent can be justified or pardoned only on the ground of substituted sufferings, or the imputation of his righteousness? The followers of Christ are by him encouraged to expect that all their benevolent works will be remembered at the great day, and rewarded by grace. Instead of teaching them that they are to be rewarded only on the ground of what He has done and suffered for them, he taught that they are to be rewarded according to what they shall have done and suffered for Him. What they do for his disciples, he accounts as done to himself, and not even the giving a cup of water to a disciple in the name of a disciple, is to fail of a gracious reward. He also pronounces them blessed, who suffer for righteousness' sake, and assures them that great shall be their reward in heaven. Is not this a perfect contrast to much of the preaching of the present day?
Apostolic Views of Christ's Sufferings.
If the Apostles had understood the sufferings of Christ as a substitute for the future punishment of those who obey the gospel, it is reasonable to suppose, that this doctrine would have been clearly stated and urged on the day of
pentecost, after they had been so wonderfully filled with