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ment, the reader will perceive that in publishing the results of laborious inquiry, on one of the most interesting subjects, I must do it at the risk of what is dearer to a good man than life itself, his Christian character. But my situation is neither singular nor unprecedented. From the time of the Messiah's ministry to the present hour, Christian truth has had to make its advances against the tide of popular prejudice, and the wind of persecuting clamor. If the Savior and his apostles were not deterred from publishing their unpopular doctrines by the reproaches and menaces of self-sufficient men, why should I hesitate through fear that “the cry of wanderer" will be raised against me? or by the “ danger of being thought heretical?” Under a clear conviction of the perils which await the man who by patient inquiry finds reason to " depart from the beaten paih," the following chapters have been written. They have also been written in a firm belief of the atoning sacrifice by Jesus Christ, and of its saving efficacy to all who are so influenced by it, as to learn of him who was meek and lowly of heart.
About two years ago my inind was called to this subject by reading a Family Sermon in the Christian Ob
The following was the passage which arrested " When the gates of Paradise closed upon our first parents, in consequence of ihe introduction of sin into the world, inen no longer beheld in their Maker a friend ; but felt, and justly, that his displeasure was excited against them; nor was there longer any way of access to the throne of a justly offended Majesty. But the word of God has pointed out to us a source of pardon and way
of intercourse through a Mediator, by virtue of whose merits and obedience, we may return to him and find favor at his hands, notwithstanding all our transgressions.”
Christ. Obs. for Nov. 1826. I had often read similar representations, but never before with a similar effect on my mind. The sentiment, that after sin entered the world - men no longer beheld in their Maker a friend,” occasioned a feeling of horror
which I cannot describe. The declaration is so clearly contradicted by the history of God's providence towards our first parents, and by the character he has given of himself in the Old Testament, as well as in the New, that I could not but wonder that the passage had found a place in the Christian Observer. I then resolved that, should my life and health be spared, I would endeavor to obtain more clear and satisfactory views of the atonement than I at that time possessed. The more I examined, the more I became convinced, that the atoning sacrifice was intimately connected with the Christian principles of peace, which had then for a long time occupied my attention; and that it was in the strictest sense of the words a PACIFIC MEASURE, a RECONCILING SACRIFICE-made from love to enemies, and on the gospel principle of overcoming evil with good. It has been with me a principal object in writing, to evince that in this sacrifice there was a display of love not of wrath. If on this point I have failed, I have labored in vain. But if in this particular I have been successful, I cannot but indulge a hope that what I have written will be an occasion of relief and comfort to many reflecting Christians. For many, I am persuaded, like myself, have been perplexed with the awful idea, that the sufferings of the Son of God were occasioned by displays of God's anger or avenging justice against him as our substitute ; and that this was the only way in which divine benevolence could be exercised in the pardon of penitent sinners.
In this work I wish to be regarded not as the advocate nor as the opponent of any denomination of Christians, but as the friend of truth and the friend of peace. Indeed I know not that my present views on this subject accord with those of any sect, or any individual Christian. Still I have a hope tliat many things in the work will be found accordant with the feelings of many good ınen in every denomination.
Viewing the atoning sacrifice as a strong expression of God's forgiving love, and of his desire to reconcile sinners to himself and to one another, I have deemed it a solema duty in writing on the subject, to forbear the indulgence of any feelings or passions towards any, class of my fellow men, which are inconsistent with that divine principle on which I believe the Messiah laid down his life. Whether I have conformed to the obligations which result from the benevolent nature of my subject, my readers will judge for themselves. Wishing to avoid as much as possible the appearance of controversy, as well as its usual spirit; when I began to write with a view to publication, thought I should avoid naming any sect or any writer, except the inspired writers; but I was induced to relinquish this plan through a fear that I might be accused of misrepresenting the opinions from which I dissented, unless I should quote from respectable authors and give their
But I think I may say with truth, that I have named no writer with a view to injure his reputation. I may here add, that I have too much evidence of my liability to err, to make my present opinions a test by which to judge the hearts of my fellow Christians. In respect to the interpretations that I have given of the numerous texts which have demanded my attention, I can hardly hope that I have made no mistake. It is sufficient for me to say, that I have sought their true meaning, and have given that which appeared to me to be the meaning of the inspired writers. I may in some instances have misapprehended the meaning of a text, and yet the theory I have attempted to establish may be correct. The candid will not censure by wholesale. I have only to request of my Christian brethren, that they would consider the importance, the solemnity, and the affecting nature of the subject, and the liability of all men to err; and then exercise toward me that candor and impartiality, which each of them would reasonably desire in an exchange of circumstances.
A DISPLAY OF LOVE-NOT OF WRATH.
An Appeal to the Benevolent Heart.
In the gospel, God is revealed to us as our Father. The relation of father and son is well known to men of every land ; and it was doubtless for the purpose citing in our minds reverence and filial affection that the gospel was sent to us as å message of love from a kind Father to disobedient children. For a similar purpose the Messiah taught his disciples thus to address their prayers to God— Our Father who art in heaven.' the truth to sink deep into the minds of his hearers, respecting the fatherly concern of God for his children, and his readiness to hear and answer their requests, our Saviour thus reasoned.--" If a son shall ask bread of
you that is a father, will he give him a stone ? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion ? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your chi’dren, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give good things to them that ask him!” *
* Luke xi. 11, 12: Matt. vii. 11.
To represent the tender feelings of God towards the disobedient, his readiness to pardon the penitent, and his joy on seeing any one of them return from his evil ways, our Lord uttered the parable of the prodigal son. Here I may ask, what benevolent parent ever attentively -read or heard this parable, without being touched and melted, by the compassion and tender solicitude of the father of this prodigal-his readiness to go out to meet the returning son while he was yet a great way off—the affection with which he received and embraced the penitent child -his disposition to overlook all his past disobedience and profligacy—and the various forms in which the father expressed his joy and his forgiving love on beholding evidence of contrition in his long-lost son? What a privilege do we all possess in having such a Father for our God!
We see then that our Divine Instructer made use of the known feelings of an earthly parent towards his children, to represent to us the greater love of our heavenly Father towards us all. May I not then be justified in appealing to the hearts of benevolent parents to convince them that some of the most prevalent views of the atoning sacrifice are possibly and probably incorrect, dishonorable to God, and injurious to those who possess them? To every Christian who knows by experience the feelings of a tender father, the following appeal is made.
Would you not deem it a reproach, should it be currently reported, that you are of such a disposition, that if a child has once disobeyed your commands, he can no longer "behold in his father a friend ? ” And that you never forgive even a penitent child without first making a terrible display of your anger on an innocent son, as a substitute for the guilly?