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it is most natural to consider our Lord here as speaking of a person, who lays down his life for his friends, in such a manner, as by his so doing to save them from death, i.e. who lays down his life in
do not know, but that his meaning is, that they had shewn themselves ready to lay down their lives in his stead, or in other words, to part with their own, if they might but be accepted as a ransom for his. However, I do not deny, but that a person may be said to lay down his life for others, when he exposes his life to great danger (and especially, if in consequence of it, he actually suffers death) in order to preserve them from some evil which threateneth them (whatever that evil may be) or to procure for them some good: neither, of consequence, do I deny, but that St. John might partly intend by the words just mentioned, that Christians, when called to do it, ought to be ready, in such a sense, to lay down their lives for their brethren. But then, allowing this ; we cannot, methinks, consistently consider our Lord, John xv. 13, as leading our thoughts to a person, who only exposes his life, or even suffers death, not to preserve his friends from death, which they would otherwise undergo, but to preserve them from some lesser evil : because this would be to consider him, as directing our thoughts to a person, who dies for his friends, in a different manner from that, in which our Lord has died for his (for he died for them, not that he might preserve them from any lesser evil, to which they were exposed ; but that he might thereby save them from death, which they would otherwise have undergone ;) which is evidently contrary to what the words plainly suggest, viz. that we are to consider our Lord and the person referred to, as dying for their respective friends, in the same manner, and to the same end.
their stead ; then it is equally so to suppose, that he intended, by the words under consideration, to intimate to his disciples, that he should give them such a proof of his affection to them, as to lay down his life in their stead. In like manner, it may be shewed from Rom. v. 7, 8, that when it is said, that Christ died for us (vre; Wuww); the apostle's meaning is, that he died in our stead. For in the comparison there drawn, between the case of some one's being possibly willing to die for a good man, and that of our Lord’s dying for us, while we were get sinners ; “though the apostle doth not ‘(as you observe, note on ver, 7.) lead our ‘thoughts to the payment of an equivalent, * or to the notion of a vicarious punishment,’ strictly speaking ; yet he evidently leads us to consider our Lord, as dying for sinners, ‘in a sense like that in which one ‘man might die for another of great virtue ‘and value :” and therefore, as “it is clear * in the latter case, that if one man dies for ‘another, he does not die’ (at least he cannot be supposed, in the present case, to die) ‘merely for an eacample to the right‘eous or good man,’ or for his benefit only, “but to save him by sacrificing him“self;’ it follows, ‘that Christ died for us, “according to St. Paul, in like manner, to “save mankind while sinners, by his own ‘death, as that without which they would * not be saved from the power of death;” that is, in other words, that he died in our stead. But you are pleased to intimate (ibid.) that, in the comparison just referred to, the apostle leads our thoughts, not ‘to the no‘tion of a vicarious punishment ; but to ‘that benevolent disposition of mind, ‘which inclines us to do good, and to be “useful to others, even at our own ex“pense and hazard. As when a person ‘ ventures his life to save another, who is “fallen into the water ; or when a man la‘bours hard, and endangers his health and ‘life, to instruct the ignorant, to reform ‘the wicked, to recover the sick and weak, “or to make others in any respect happy.” You add, “This is the sentiment we should ‘have of Christ's dying for us.” But this, with submission, seems not to come up to the case. The design of the apostle, in the place under consideration, is to magnify the love of God, and of Christ to us sinners. To this purpose he intimates, that possibly some one may be found willing to die for another of eminent virtue and usefulness; though even such instances of good will are rarely to be met with: but the love of God, and of Christ to us have been such, as that, while we were yet sinmers, Christ died for us. It is then natural to think, that the apostle intended here to lead us to consider the person, who might possibly be willing to die for a good man, as ready to do it in such a manner, as would shew the highest degree of kindness and benevolence. Now, though it must be owned, that he, who ‘ ventures his life ‘to save another, who is fallen into the wa* ter; Or endangers his health and ‘life, to instruct the ignorant,’ &c. shews therein a considerable degree of benevolence; yet, it is plain, he does not shew such a degree of it, as that person does, who actually lays down his life for another, to save him from a death, which he knows he would otherwise undergo : because, in the former case, he, who ventures or en
dangers his life for the sake of another, as be is not certain, that he shall by so doing preserve his friend’s life; so neither does he know, but that he may save his own. Whereas the person spoken of in the latter case, is supposed to be willing, and indeed determined, actually to suffer death himself, as well as certain, that he shall thereby save the other from it. We may therefore conclude, I should think, that the latter is the case, which the apostle would lead our thoughts to. Nor can we, indeed, with any consistency, think of any other: for since it is plain, that the person here spoken of is supposed willing to die for a good man, in such a manner as our Lord . died for us; and it is equally plain, that our Lord died for us, in such a manner, as that by his death we are saved from death; it follows, that we are to consider the apostle in the place before us, as “leading our “ thoughts to’ something more than ‘ that “benevolent disposition of mind, which in‘clines us to be useful to others at our own hazard’ only ; and that therefore the sentiment he would lead us to entertain