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Much less can the death of Christ, according to your scheme, point out to us, that sin deserves death. If indeed we consider him as making atonement for our sins by dying in our stead; then it is plain that his death leads us to look upon ourselves as dead, or obnoxious to death for those sins; and it is likewise easy to gather from it, in what manner God is determined finally to punish incorrigible sinners : but if we suppose with you, that our Lord procured the remission of our sins, not by dying in our stead, but by that goodness, which he manifested, particularly at the
was, in some degree, a loss to them, might justly be considered as a mulct or punishment for their offences, and therefore had in that view a manifest tendency to shew them, that God was displeased with them : whereas the regard shewed to the obedience of Abraham, &c. not being accompanied with any suffering on the side of the offenders, had, so far as I can perceive, little or no such tendency. And, I believe, it will appear to be a confirmation of this sentiment, that our Lord’s dying as a sacrifice for us (especially if we consider the dignity of his person, and his dearness to the Father) gives us the more striking idea of God’s abhorrence of sin, as it was attended with such painful and ignominious circumstances : for this surely would scarcely have been the case, had his death derived its efficacy, not at all from his submitting to pain and suffering, but altogether from his obedience or goodness displayed in dying for us.
time of his death ; then we can only infer from it, that God is gracious and merciful to sinners, and has a high regard to true goodness; but by no means, that we are obnoxious to death for our sins: for this plain reason ; because God might, if he had so pleased, have appointed his Son to die for us, in your sense of the words, even supposing our sins had not exposed us (as they now do, by the appointment of God) to so dreadful and permanent a punishment as that of death or everlasting destruction. So that if we fiac our thoughts ever so attentively upon the death of Christ, we cannot there see, how dreadfully pernicious sin will be in its consequences ; unless we suppose at the same time, that he died in our stead. Its being judged proper by the divine wisdom, that he should die for our benefit only, does not prove that we had deserved death, or that sin will expose us to death, for the reason just mentioned; but his dying in our stead plainly suggests both the one and the other. In short, I cannot but say, that the death of Christ appears to me upon your scheme, even as a mean of sanctification, to be a less powerful one, and consequently to be less favourable to the interests of true religion, purity, and goodness, than it is upon that, which you have set yourself against : so that upon the whole, though I contend that the death of Christ is, by the will of God, the direct and immediate cause or ground of our forgiveness, or that in consideration of which it has pleased God to forgive us; yet I am so far from being obliged upon that account to exclude the consideration of that moral and important tendency, which on both sides it is allowed to have, that it seems to me, when viewed in this light, to have that tendency in a more extensive manner, than when viewed in the light in which you have placed it ; this, I say, seems to me, to be the case. Indeed, at present, I have not the least doubt but that it really is the case : but how far it will appear to be so to others; or whether indeed it will appear so always to myself, I cannot certainly say : for as I have no right, and therefore shall not take upon me, to judge for others ; so neither am I so vain as to think, that I cannot be mistaken myself: and therefore, as I am free, that others should judge for themselves ; so, if any, who may judge differently from me,
can shew, that I am actually mistaken, either as to the point which has been last discussed, or as to any other; I hope, they always find me willing to acknowledge my mistakes, and disposed to embrace the truth. And I am the less afraid of having it shewed, that I am mistaken in any point: as it is my firm persuasion, that it can really be for the interest of no one to embrace or continue in an error, but must be upon the whole for the interest of all, that the truth, on which side soever it may lie, should be universally received and acknowledged. From this, sir, I presume, you will perceive, that I am drawing towards a close : and indeed it is time I should; having said a great deal more already, than I at first thought I should have had occasion to say: though, perhaps, it may be expected, that I should now proceed to take a more particular notice of your three last chapters, than I have yet done : but though there are some things in those chapters, besides what has been particularly considered or obviated in the foregoing pages, which seem to me, I must own, not to be so
just, (as o the other hand there are other B
things, which I think worthy the serious and attentive perusal of every Christian ;) yet, as I cannot see, that they materially concern the subjects of difference between us, I do not think it necessary to consider them ;* especially, as my principal view
* However, there is one paragraph in your eleventh chapter, which I shall here transcribe and examine before I conclude ; and the rather, as the general sentiment it contains, runs so much through the whole of your discourse. . It is your 189th'; where you are pleased to say, * As our prayers are a reason of God’s conferring bless‘ings upon us ; because our prayers are means of pro‘ducing pious dispositions in our minds : so the blood * of Christ, or his perfect obedience to righteous‘ness, makes atonement for sin, or is a reason of God’s “forgiving our sins; because the blood of Christ is a ‘mean of cleansing us from sin.” That our prayers are frequently means of producing pious dispositions in our minds, and that they are a reason of God’s conferring blessings upon us, I do not at all doubt : but to say, that they are a reason of his conferring blessings upon us, because they are means of producing pious dispositions, &c. as if their having this tendency were the immediate cause or ground of his bestowing those blessings, is, in my apprehension, not so just. Their having such a tendency, indeed, may be, and undoubtedly is, -one great reason of God’s requiring us to pray to him, and of his promising blessings to praying persons : but if we would speak accurately upon the subject, the ground or reason of his bestowing blessings upon such, is, I should think, their complying with what he requires, and having those pious dispositions of mind, which are in themselves pleasing to him, and of which their prayers are so many signs