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which the Holy One can consistently impart His grace to sinners of mankind; and he finds it in the fact that our oneness with Christ secures the deposition of sin from supreme rule in the soul and its prospective final expulsion. But surely these questions are as inevitable as they are in point: Is this oneness with Christ effected by the sinner's own agency ? Not if the scriptural representation of his state, as dead in trespasses and sins, is to be accepted. But if it is effected by the gracious agency of God, and if it be, as it manifestly is, the commencement and securing pledge of all grace, does not the inquiry return : On what ground has God, consistently with righteousness, dealt thus graciously with one who, up to this point, has been not an incipient saint, but wholly and helplessly a sinner? Let our author, or any man but half as well informed as he, prosecute with candour and spiritual earnestness this line of investigation, and he will find himself shut up to a truly substitutionary sacrifice, proceeding on a real imputation of sin, and securing a real counter-imputation of righteousness, as the only ground on which enlightened reason, and, above all, enlightened conscience, can rest, as affording an intelligible explanation of the real difficulty in the way of the Holy One entering into loving fellowship with sinful men and making them recipients of sanctifying powers and principles. That Ullmann does not see this, is plain when he goes on to say : “ Hence, when it is said that in Christ God is gracious to the sinner, the phrase is not to be understood to mean that there is in this any arbitrary or capricious dealing on the part of God. The reason why God is gracious to the sinner in Christ rests upon an inner and necessary connexion between His grace and the sinner's being in Christ. For whenever a sinner becomes united to Christ, He sees in him (however imperfect he may still be) the beginnings of a holy character, and of a perfect deliverance. It is the beginnings of a holy character which the Holy One is thus represented as having respect to when He is gracious. For God to be gracious, irrespective of this, is evidently what Ullmann designates as arbitrary and capricious ; for it is the only possible alternative to the procedure which he thinks is not capricious, but well-grounded. A sovereign recognition, therefore, on God's part, of the sinner as no more guilty, but righteous, through the righteousness of the Mediator imputed to Him, finds no place in Ullmann's dogmatic. He recognizes, in fact, no distinction between an objective work of grace rectifying the sinner's relation to the law and the Lawgiver, on the one hand, and a subjective work of grace rectifying the sinner's principles of action and feeling towards God, on the
Rejection of Substitution Capricious.
other; a distinction without which, under some form or expression, the theology of Paul is unintelligible; and without which the author's attempt to discover a ground for Divine communications of grace at all must for ever prove nugatory. The inquiry is just a search after a reason for the bestowment on God's part of subjective, inward, purifying grace. To assign the existence of some grace in the soul as the reason for the communication of more, is either to overthrow the initial terms of the inquiry itself, or to accept the Pelagian doctrine of a grace common by nature to every man, under the form, perhaps, of the arbitrary and groundless idea that the incarnation is identical with the implantation of a Divine principle in humanity. The rejection of Pelagianism and of this Pan-Christic notion, and the correct restating of the question, leave it open to the all-satisfying solution of the Pauline theology, that God in sovereignty regards the sinner-in himself helplessly guilty and righteously condemned -as having had his sin expiated, and a righteousness brought in for him by a Divine substitute in human nature, whom, in infinite free love, and without consulting sinners, He appointed in His eternal counsels to take their place and bear their sin away in the vicarious obedience unto death which Calvary witnessed. The recognition of this righteous objective mediatorial transaction, and of the objective gracious relation between the Mediator and His people individually, which it presupposes and implies, is the only just and holy ground on which God bestows on them the subjective grace of actual communion with Christ and all the sanctifying grace which follows. And it is a truly philosophical theology which tells us that “ Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit by faith.” The theology on which we are commenting, defeating its own investigations, is itself truly arbitrary and capricious.
Once more, in the fifth place, it is in perfect keeping with this onesided hyper-subjective system of theologizing, that, an objective sentence of condemnation not being acknowledged, the mediation itself turns out to be not necessarily an objective transaction, or personal mediatorial ministry; for there remains no real outstanding difficulty in the Divine government requiring the appointment of a Divine person in human nature, and the institution of a specific office of priesthood, for its effectual removal. There is, indeed, a show of proof given for the necessity of some action being taken in the circumstances, and that action may be called mediation; but it is not real mediation in the strict and proper sense of the term. “ The Divine love,” we are told, is which is itself ab.
solutely holy, cannot impart itself to the sinner as such, but only as containing in it a pledge of sanctification. And yet, on the other hand, it is necessary that the sinner should possess an assurance of the Divine love, if he is to have that delight in goodness, and that power to perform it, which lies at the very root of holiness. Hence, then, there is a mediation requisite. But what is this so-called mediation called in to accomplish ? And what are the circumstances that render it requisite? And what is there in the circumstances beforeband, or in the result afterwards, that should designate the intervention as necessarily mediatorial ? The end to be gained, it would appear, is to secure that the Divine love shall not impart itself without carrying in it a pledge of sanctification, and that the sinner shall be so assured of that Divine love as to take delight in goodness, and have the power to perform it. But this is not the direct and immediate end of mediation. It is the re-establishment of
where a disruption of friendly relation has taken place; it is the removal of penalty and satisfaction of justice by expiation of sin. And, on the assumption that no work of expiatory sacrifice and meritorious intercession is to be recognized as necessary, whatever may still be requisite can be achieved, for aught that appears, without the intervention of a third party between God and man. The achieving of it may be called mediation, but it is not necessarily personal. It is rather a medium; a tertium quid ; a reconciling consideration, or, at most, instrumentality; to overcome the antinomy between the two facts affirmed-namely, on the one hand, that the holiness of Divine love requires that it should not impart itself to the sinner, save as containing in it a pledge of His sanctification ; and, on the other hand, that the sinner cannot take delight in holiness till he is assured of the Divine love. And really, on the assumption, this, though ingeniously put, does not appear a very formidable difficulty; particularly when one of the parties interested in overcoming it is the All-wise and Almighty God. What terrible Gordian knot is there here? What call for the incarnation and obedience unto death of the Eternal Word? What real difficulty, on the assumption, can Divine love find in imparting itself to a sinner, and rendering itself the pledge of sanctification ? A deeper subjective theology would rather affirm that the impartation of Divine love is necessarily sanctifying, than that its action is barred till it can be combined with a pledge of sanctification. And what real difficulty can Divine love find in the way of convincing a sinner of its own reality and sincerity? If an objective instrumentality of instruction cannot secure this conviction, may not He who has the hearts of all men in His
Intercession—Ithuriel's Spear in Argument. 119
keeping create the conviction, without the intervention of any objective testimony, if He please? And what, still on the assumption, is there to prevent Him either pleasing to do it or doing it? If a third party should be supposed to take any share in it, his interposition could be appropriate only as constituting an instrumentality of enlightenment, or a channel or source of gracious influence. He might accomplish something like what we attribute to the prophetic and kingly offices of Christ; but of Priesthood His intervention would not bear a single trace. For the fact is that priesthood, in all its action, is exclusively objective. It is so equally, though
, not with equal obviousness, in both its functions of Sacrifice and Intercession. As to the former, there is some possibility of obscuring the subject by confounding between imputation and oneness, between substitution and communion; and an elimination of the subjective element then becomes necessary. No such elimination can be needed when the function of Intercession is concerned. It stands out in its own unmingled, manifest, objective reality and glory, as transacted in no sense in the believer's soul, but in heaven, within the veil. And hence Ullmann's theology makes no allusion to it.
On this point we must be permitted a closing observation. For we are deeply persuaded that the doctrine and fact of the Intercession—the culminating glory of a true Christology-may be used as an Ithuriel's spear to detect and expose all those false views of the sacrifice of the cross now 80 rife; and we are not sure that theologians have been careful to make that effective use of it which it is so fitted easily to serve. For to the whole tribe of theologists who represent the sacrifice of Christ as self-denial, self-sacrifice, surrender of self-will, and so forth; and even to a writer like Ullmann, as much more worthy to be called a theologian than they as a real astronomer is more worthy of that title than our children, when they think the moon about as large as a silver salver and the sun perhaps a little larger than their trundling hoops ; to all, in fact, who fail to see in Christ's death a true and proper propitiation, an endurance of penal wrath and expiation of sin, we may well put the question, What ministry, what function do you assign to Christ, as, in scriptural language, He maketh intercession for us? Not founding His requests on the plea that He hath satisfied Divine justice, redeemed His people, and purchased for them all saving blessings, securing for the gifts of Divine love, without impairing its freeness, all the inevitable certainty of Divine law itself-what sort of office do you think Christ, as Intercessor, is fulfilling? What, on your views, can it be but a ministry of apology and indulgence, aiming at securing
concessions on either side or both; seeking to effect a compromise ; smoothing down hostile feeling; pleading for kindlier constructions and suppression of differences; paving the way for an interview without the risk of an explosion ? If intercession, on your assumption, means anything, it must be something such as this. The description may be offensive from its plainness; but unquestiorably it is in the direction of what has been described that we must seek for the only kind of intercession which can remain to the blessed Saviour, unless He is an Advocate with the Father as having first been the propitiation for our sins. And in how dishonourable a light would such a kind of intercession present the character of God! Retaining an anger for which there is, on your view, no moral necessity; unnecessarily retaining anger, which can, in that case, be nothing but personal hostility and dislike to the sinner, and needing to be mollified and pleaded with to entertain kindly feeling-how could such a God, in His anger, command the veneration of His creatures ; and how could His laying it aside indicate a love that should render Him worthy of profound gratitude, confidence, and praise ? There is a whole heaven of difference between this and the truth. God's anger is not inconsistent with love, as unnecessary anger
inevitably is. The penalty of moral law is as necessary as is its obligation. God can as little cease to require perfect obedience on pain of death, as he can cease to require obedience itself. God's anger is His recognition of the righteous necessity of this penalty, and there is nothing in it of personal hostility, or "pleasure in the death of a sinner.” If there were, the rising love that could have prompted Him to appoint an Intercessor would have implied that the necessity for intercession was disappearing. But, co-existing with this righteous necessary anger-yet incapable of causing it to disappear or give way, because it is a necessary anger—there was a purpose of infinite love; and that love of God appointed the Son of His love to endure the penalty and bring in the righteousness of a perfect obedience; that, the righteous anger being appeased, the love might shine forth in an unclouded heaven of righteousness, glorifying the whole character of God and regenerating the character of man. The function of intercession, therefore, proceeds on the supposition of that infinite love in which its own appointment originated; and its special action is to make continual presentation before God of that righteous ground on which the gifts of love are now righteously conferred: “I have glorified Thee on the earth ; I have finished the work which Thou gavest me to do.”