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For God to think of saving us any way, was excessive goodness and mercy; but to think of doing it in this way, by substituting his dearly beloved Son to suffer in our stead, is a condescension so very amazing, that if God had not been pleased of his own goodness to stoop. to it, it had almost been blasphemy in man to have thought of it, or desired it.
2. How can our sins be said to have been forgiven freely, if the pardon of them was purchased at fo dear a rate, and so mighty a price was paid for it?
In answer to this, I desire these two things may be considered. ift, That it is a wonderful grace and favour of God to admit of this translation of the punishment which was due to us, and to accept of the suffer-, ings of another in our stead, and for our benefit, when he might justly have exacted it of us in our own persons : so that, even in this respect, we are, as St. Paul says, justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ : and freely too, in respect of any necessity that lay upon God to forgive us in this or any other way. It was a free act of his goodness to save us, .even by the satisfaction and sufferings of his own Son. 2dly, It was in effect freely too, notwithstanding the mighty price which was paid for our redemption : because this price was not of our own procuring, but of God's pro, viding; he found out this ransom for us. And will any man say, that a prince who prevails with his son to interceed for the pardon of a rebel, yea and to suffer some punishment, or to pay a fine for the obtaining of it, does not in effect, and in all equitable and grateful construction, forgive him freely?
3. It is yet further objected, That this seems to be more unreasonable than the facrificing of beasts among the Jews, nay than the sacrificing of men among the Heathen, and even of their own fons and daughters ; because this is the offering up of the Son of God, the most innocent and the most excellent person that ever was.
To which I answer, That if we consider the manner and the design of it, the thing will appear to be quite otherwise. As to the manner of it, God did not comm and his
Son to be sacrificed; but his providence permitted the wickedness and violence of men 'to put him to death': and then his goodness and wisdom did over-rule this worst of actions to the best of ends. And if we consider the matter aright, how is this any more a reflexion upon the holy providence of God, than any enormities and cruelties which by his permission are daily committed in the world?
And then, if we consider the end and design of this permission of Christ's death, and the application of it to the purpose of a general expiation; we cannot but acknowledge, and even adore the gracious and merciful design of it. For by this means God did at once put an end to that unreasonable and bloody way of worship, which had been so long practised in the world; and, after this one facrifice, which was so infinitely dear to God, the benefit of expiation was not to be expected in any other way; all other facrifices being worthless and vain in comparison of this : -and it hath ever since obtained this effect, of making all other sacrifices to cease, in all parts of the world where Christianity hath prevailed.
4. The last objection is, the injustice and cruelty of an innocent person's suffering instead of the offender.
To this I answer, That they who make so great a noise with this objection, do seem to me to give a full and clear answer to it themselves, by acknowledging, as they constantly and expressly do, that our Saviour suffered all this for our benefit and advantage, though not in our place and stead. For this, to my apprehension, is plainly to give up the cause, unless they can fhew a good reason why there is not as much injustice and cruelty in an innocent person's fuffering for the benefit and advantage of a malefactor, as in his fuffering in his stead. So little do men, in the heat of difpute and opposition, who are resolved to hold fast an opinion in despite of reason and good fense, consider, that they do many times in effect, and by necessary confequence, grant the very thing which in express terms they do fo ftify and pertinaciously deny
The truth of the matter is this: There is nothing of injustice or cruelty in either case, neither in an inno
cent person's suffering for the benefit of an offender, nor in his stead, fuppofing the suffering to be voluntary; but they have equally the fame appearance of injustice and cruelty. Nor can I possibly discern
reason why injustice and cruelty should be objected in the one cafe more than in the other; there being every whit as little reason why an innocent person should suffer for the benefit of a criminal, as why he should suffer in his stead. So that I hope this objection, which above all the rest hath been so loudly and fo invidiously urged, hath received a just answer.
And I believe, if the matter were searched to the bottom, all this perverse contention about our Saviour's fuffering for our benefit, but not in our stead, will sigrify, just nothing. For if Christ died for our benefit, lo as some way or other, by virtue of his death and sufferings, to save us from the wrath of God, and to procure our escape from eternal death; this, for ought I know, is all that
any body means by his dying in our stead: for he that dies with an intention to do that benefit to another as to save him from death, doth certainly, to all intents and purposes, die in his place and stead.
And if they will grant this to be their meaning, the controversy is at an end; and both sides are agreed in the thing, and do only differ in the phrase and manner of expression; which is to seek a quarrel and an occafon of difference where there is no real ground for it : a thing which ought to be very far from reasonable and peaceable minds.
For the Socinians say, that our Saviour's voluntary obedience and sufferings did procure his exaltation at the right hand of God, and power and authority to forgive lins, and to give eternal life to as many as he pleased. So that they grant that his obedience and sufferings, in the meritorious consequence of them, do redound to our benefit and advantage as much as we pretend and say they do; only they are loth in express terms to acknowledge that Christ died in our stead : and this for no other reason, that I can imagine, but because they have denied it so often and so long.
But I appeal to the ingenuity of our adversaries, whether this do not in the last issue come all to one; and be. not, on their part, a mere controversy about words ? For suppose a malefactor condemned to some grievous punishment; and the King's son, to save him from it, is contented to submit to great disgrace and sufferings : in reward of which sufferings, the King takes his son into his throne, and sets him at his own right hand, and gives him power to pardon this malefactor, and, upon a fitting submission and repentance, to advance him to honour. Will not any man in this case allow, that the King's son fuffered instead of this malefactor; and smile at any man that shall be so nice, as to grant that indeed he suffered for him, but yet to deny that he was punished for him ; to allow that he bore the inconvenience of his faults, but yet obstinately to stand it out that the faults of this malefactor were not laid upon him, or in any ways so imputed to him, that he can be said to have suffered in his stead? This is just the case ; and the difference in reality, and in the last result of things, is nothing but words.
Thus far have I tried your patience in a contentious argument, in which I take no pleasure'; but yet shall be glad, if I may be so happy as, by any thing that hath been laid, to contribute towards the putting an end to so unhappy a controversy, which hath troubled the world fo long, and raised such a dust, that
few have been able to see clearly through it.
However, I cannot dismiss this argument without making some useful, but very short reflexion upon this great doctrine of our religion, namely, That the Son of God being made a sacrifice for us, and exposed to such bitter fufferings, and so cruel a death, for the expiation of our sins, should create in us the greatest dread and detestation of sin, and for ever deter us from all wilful transgression and disobedience.' For if the guilt of our fins was done away upon such hard terms, and cost the dearly beloved Son of God so much sweat and blood, then surely we ought to take great heed, how by our renewed provocations we renew his passion, and do what in us lies to crucify to ourselves the Son of God afresh, and to put him to an open shame.
If God did terribly afflict the dearly beloved of his foul for our fakes; if the Son of God was fo grievoufly,
wounded for our transgressions, and so sorely bruised for our iniquities ; if so fearful a storm of vengeance fell upon the most innocent person that ever was for our sins, then we have reason to take that kind and merciful ada monition of the Son of God to sinners, to fin no more, left a worse thing, if it be possibie, come. upon ourfelves.
In this difpenfation of God's grace and mercy to man- , kind, by the death of his Son, God seems to have gone to the very extremity of things, and almost further than goodness and justice will well admit, to afflict innocency itself, to save the guilty. And if herein God hath expressed his hatred of sin in such a wonderful way of love and kindness to the sons of men, as looks almost like hatred of innocency, and his own Son; this ought, in ali ingenuity and gratitude to our gracious Redeemer, who was made a curse for us, and loved us to that degree, as to wash us from our sins in his own blood; I say, this ought to beget in us a greater displeasure against lin, and a more perfect detestation of it, than if we had suffered the punishment due to it in our own persons : for in this cafe we could only have been displeased at ourselves, and our sins, as the just cause of our sufferings; but in the other we ought to hate sin as the unhappy occasion of the saddest misfortune and forest calamities to the best, man that ever was, and to our best friend, for our fins, and for our fakes.
Since then the Son of God hath so graciously condescended to be made in all things like unto us, fin only exo cepted ; let us aspire as much as is pollible to become like to him. Above all, let us hate and avoid sin, as the only thing in which the Son of God would have no part with us, though he was contented to suffer such bitter things to save us from the defilement and dominion of it, from the punishment and all the dismal conscquences of it.'
He had 120 fin: but God was pleased to lay upon him the iniguities of us all, and to make his soul an offering for fin, and to permit all that to be done to him which was due
He was contented to be sacrificed once for all mankind, that men might for ever cease from that inhumane and ineffectual way of facrificing one another ; whereby, instead of expiating their guilt, they did in