« PreviousContinue »
was the sentence appropriate to the plan of Salvation, under which Adam was originally created. Had Adam acted in conformity to it, he would have saved himself; and in such case, by eating of the Tree of Life, he would have lived for ever. But having, through the temptation of Satan, failed upon the trial, and in consequence subjected himself to the sentence denounced; it became necessary, if grace was to be extended to him, that a new plan of Salvation, adapted to the circumstances of his condition, should be revealed; according to which, something was to be done for man, to put him into a capacity for Salvation, which man, in his fallen state, could not possibly do for himself. Adam's life was forfeited: and the justice of an offended God against sin, remained to be satisfied. No plan of Salvation therefore which admitted Adam to a future trial of obedience on any terms, could suit the exigency of his case, but such an one as effectually provided for this difficulty.
But this was that difficulty, (that dignus cindice nodus, if we may so call it,) which
required the interposition of divine wisdom; a difficulty which, having been foreseen, produced in the divine mind that gracious plan, which, by 'reconciling the divine attributes of justice and mercy to each other, placed Adam on a more secure footing with respect to his future happiness, than that on which he stood before he fell. “ I looked (said Christ by the mouth of his Prophet) and there was none to help; therefore mine own arm brought salvation." Isaiah lxiii. 5.
Had it been consistent with infinite justice (according to the idea of some reasoners,) to have remitted the sentence denounced against sin, and to have received fallen Adam on his giving proof of future obedience, supposing him to have been in a condition to perform it: in such case the doctrine of vicarious atonement had certainly not been found in Scripture. But Adam's natural inability to resist the evil Power, which had rebelled against God, and was now in arms against his creature, having been foreseen; the adoption of that sublime scheme of Salvation now called Christianity, became necessary for the
purpose of disappointing the evil design of Satan, and of bringing Glory to God by a compleat triumph over him, in the final recovery of that chosen creature, who had fallen a sacrifice to his malice in such a manner, as left no room for objection against the equity of the divine proceeding. Oh! the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and goodness of God! How unsearchable are his judgements, and his ways past finding out ?
Such then being the benign «plan which the Persons in the Godhead condescended to form for the recovery of lost man; and this world having been created, that it might serve as a stage on which this great drama of redemption should be represented; it is to be concluded, that the same divine wisdom and love which contrived the stupendous scheme, should be engaged in providing for its perfect accomplishment. For this purpose, nothing was more necessary, than to impress on the mind of man that full sense of his fallen condition, which might induce him to conform with gratitude to the gracious plan that had been provided; and thereby prevent him
from seeking Salvation in a way, in which it was no longer to be found. To this end, the sentence of death was to be kept constantly in view ; that the forfeiture which had taken place, remaining fresh on the mind of the sinner, he might never lose sight of the gracious condition in which he was now placed.
Such, it is presumed, was the object of sacrifice; which as we have above observed, had its commencement with the Dispensation of grace; and immediately succeeded to the transgression, which demanded its atoning efficacy. The obvious design of it was to furnish a typical representation of the means by which, according to divine appointment, the sentence denounced against sin was to be done away. On this account, it was to accompany the new Dispensation through its different stages of advancement, for the purpose of supporting the hope, and preparing the mind of the fallen sinner for that fulness of time, when the promised Reality was to take place of the appointed Shadow.
The decided position in the text that “ death is the wages of sin," was a posi
tion written in characters of blood in every sacrifice that was offered up. To this sentence, every sacrificer considered himself obnoxious; the very essence of sacrifice being this, that the death of the animal was substituted for that of the sacrificing party. This essential idea which possessed the minds of the faithful under the Patriarchal dispensation, the ritual of the Mosaic Law (as it has been already observed) was instituted to preserve and confirm. With this view, the direction given to the offerer was, that he “ should put his hand on the head of his burnt offering, and that in such case it should be accepted for him, to make atonement for him." Levit. i. 4.
But besides the daily service of the Jewish ritual, which had always the same object in view, that of doing away the continued effect of sin; it was ordained by the Law; doubtless, for the purpose of more strongly fixing in the mind of the worshipper the same important idea, on which the Salvation of man now turned ; that on one solemn day in the year, the whole congregation, both priests and people should bear