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consideration on which grace is extended, not the means of extending it. In the present instance, the one illus. trates the government of God, the other, that is the mean, affects the heart of the individual; the value of the one lies in its maintaining general laws, that of the other in its particular effects; the force of the one is that of a thing done and accomplished, that of the other is in the efficacy of its present action. Surely these are sufficiently distinct in their immediate provinces, though altogether agreeing in their ultimate ends, the universal interests of piety and virtue. Let me distinguish once again; repentance has its proper and immediate causes, but the force of the atonement is in its preparing for the observation of the penitents and of others, a display of the divine laws and providence. Now let me call to remembrance a few passages of the New Testament, and ask, whether in all of them the most natural and significant meaning, and in some the only intelligible meaning, is not that of propitiation? "This is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." Matt. xxvi. 28. "In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins." Eph. i. 7. Is there not here too close and pointed a connexion between the blood of Jesus and the forgiveness of sins, to be explained on any other principle? "When he had by himself made a cleansing of sins." Heb. i. 3. What cleansing but this had Jesus then made? "If we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have communion together, and the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanseth us from all sin." 1 John i. 7. What other significant meaning can be assigued? And stronger still are the following verses: "We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and he is the propitiation or atonement (aouos) for the sins of the whole world." 1 John ii. 1, 2. This, indeed, refers immediately to the intercession: but is obedience unto death less prevailing and acceptable? Or can we separate the intercession from the preceding sufferings and obedience which gave it efficacy?

I will add a few passages containing sacrificial allusions. These are often too hastily dismissed as figurative, without duly attending to the force of

the figures. Our Lord, indeed, was not truly and literally a sacrifice, be cause there was not at his death priest or altar, nor any of the essential conditions of that religious rite. The death of the Son of God was in the order of providential events. I do not then contend that it was a sacri. fice, but that it had the atoning virtue of a sacrifice. We may observe, that it is in this especial regard that the allusions and comparisons often con. sist; that they are made not as condescensions to the prejudices of the Jews, that is in the spirit of saying, "If any atonement was needed, Christianity has a better one than any of the Jewish," but as constituting a real excellence and important truth of the gospel; and finally, that the sacrifices are considered as expressly ordained by God to supply the absence, and prepare the way, for the great and virtual sacrifice that was to come. Now the sacrifices were not means of holiness, but considerations of forgive, ness. If then the apostles seriously represent the death of Christ as a sacrifice made for the sins of the whole world, in express reference to the atoning virtue of the sacrifices, how can we escape the conclusion that they did attribute to it atoning virtue ?

A few out of many passages thus representing it are the following: "Whom God foreordained as a pro, pitiation, through belief in bis blood, to manifest his righteousness, that he might be just, and the justifier of the believer in Jesus." Rom. iii. 25. Here is an allusion to the mercy-seat, signifying that in Jesus, God dispenses mercy, but adding, through his blood, alluding to the sacrifices with whose blood the mercy-seat was sprinkled; while the concluding words declare that the end of all this was just what I maintain, namely, that God might be just, and the justifier of the believer in Jesus. Nothing could be more directly to the purpose than this passage. Again, an allusion to the sacrifices, very evidently, is the saying of John the Baptist, "Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world." Here the Lord is compared to a lamb, sacrificed as a sin-offering. Peter speaks of Christians as those who are chosen unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus. In the Epistle to the Hebrews, a book, though somewhat

questionable as to its author, yet of the highest authority, this view is largely enforced, so largely that I think it needless to quote single passages, because, if the argument is evaded, it must be by some general principle of interpretation, which I have intended to combat in some preceding remarks. Having said thus much on the scriptural evidence of the general view, I will suggest a few particulars, in which the efficacy of the mediation of Jesus, as an atonement for sin, may partly consist; keeping close to scripture light, which will, I think, confirm and illustrate the following points, to those who will consider them in it. I shall mention five particulars: 1. In saving men, through exalting Jesus, God hath notably rewarded obedience and virtue. 2. That grace is conferred upon us through one of our brethren, so highly exalted over us by his obedience; and that we depend so much upon him, and that he stands between us and God, is calculated to humble us as sinners before God. 3. The death of Jesus exhibited, in the most striking manner, the abominable malignity of sin, and its awful and lamentable consequences. Thus, perhaps, it superseded the necessity of the law, and also, by filling the measure of Jewish guilt, prepared the way in which the wisdom of God would save the world, according to the argument of Paul in the eleventh chapter of Romans. 4. Such a mediation tended to make us feel the risk of utter ruin into which sin had brought us, inasmuch as so great an exertion of the Divine love and power must be displayed to redeem us. 5. The full performance of the law by our great deliverer tended to honour it in our eyes, and to shew how God honours it, and will have it honoured. To judge of the reality of these particulars, they must be brought to the test of Scripture: if they are not more or less unfolded there, they may probably be fanciful and unimportant. I will offer two further reflections, and then conclude. 1. The death of the Anointed was not arbitrarily required as an atonement, but came about in a providential way, and to answer direct purposes in the gospel dispensa tion, independent of atonement, on which I cannot here enlarge. 2. There

are other things of the nature of atonements, both in the constitution of the world, and God's religious dealings. Origen remarks, "since we are all redeemed by the blood of Christ, how know we but some may be redeemed by the blood of martyrs?" This is not unreasonable; but three considerations will sufficiently distinguish the atonement of Jesus from the works of any other man: the greatness of the person, his perfect innocence, and the universal relation of his person and work to all mankind. And this doctrine I maintain to be one of the most highly interesting and important lessons of the New Testament; while it is so natural an inference from the facts of the gospel history, that we might have drawn it of ourselves, though perhaps we should not. May not a Unitarian hold such an atonement? May he not hold it with more advantage, and less danger of abuse, than any other believer?

SIR,

HOPEFUL,

March 5, 1818, PERFECTLY agree with Mr. Frend [p.107] that the participation of the bread and wine communion should not be so interwoven with the general service as to cease to be optional. Scruples in persons who may have to reproach themselves with some recent immoral lapse, or from any other cause, should be respected. The reluctance to participate, generated by the gloomy superstitions to which this rite has given occasion, is a feeling which deters many; and I question how far the entrapping them, or compelling them into the practice, would answer the purpose of tranquillizing or reconciling the minds of such persons, who, perhaps, retain the impressions of a religion in which they might have been educated.

But as this ordinance is peculiarly calculated to refresh our memory of the exemplary self-devotion of him "who loved us, and gave himself for us," and thus influentially to stimulate moral inactivity, and keep alive salutary purposes in the heart, I am loath to see any writer, for the sake of a little display of Judaical learning, attempt to reason away this interesting and affecting bond of union among Christians, as a mistaken rite of no imperative obligation; a capricious

ordinance of no authority, and of no real or intelligible utility.

The arguments for this purpose appear to me among the weakest which it has ever been my fortune to encounter; and they involve what cannot be called by any other name than that of a blunder.

ceased to be such merely, when it was ordained as a significant rite; and why this rite, therefore, should be still connected with a meal at all, or why it should not take place equally well at sun-rise, or at noon, as at the supper hour, and still retain the character and spirit of its first institution," shewing forth the Lord's death till he come," profess myself totally at a loss to comprehend. It might as well be insisted that we should use the same wine, the same quality of bread, the same sized cup; or that the institution is no longer the same.

We are told, that by this bread and this cup, our Saviour referred to a par- I ticular time of blessing the cup; a custom familiar to the Jews, and which they still retain; that the very term of the Lord's Supper shews how widely Christians have departed from the institution of Jesus; for that the bread and wine are actually taken in the middle of the day, or near it; and the drift of the argument is, that since we have not this custom of blessing a particular cup at meals, and since we do not commemorate our Lord's body at supper time, we do not in fact possess his institution at all! It would be about as much in point to say, that the Jews wore beards, and that as they were bearded who first assisted at this commemoration, Christians who have smooth chins, are mere pretenders to the character of communicants in the original institution.

There is, it seems, no longer any common meal to give occasion for these blessings; and it is, therefore, become no longer a family rite, but a congregational service. Why, Sir, it had so become in the days of Paul, who, in his first epistle to the Corinthians, xi. 22, reprehending the excess which took place at the Lord's Supper, not in a family, but in a society, asks, "What! have ye not houses to eat and to drink in?" And he proceeds to explain that this is not a meal, but a solemn and significant conversion of a social custom into a religious rite: "As often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come." It was not the form, or manner, or the time of doing this, I presume, that gave its character or its value to the institution; but it was the object of this simple ordinance, and the allusion couched under the act. The family meal suggested this mode of commemoration by the natural emblems which it offered, of the lifesustaining doctrines of Christ, and of the blood of the resurrection, by which they were made influential on the believer; but the custom of the meal

But the writer has another notable reason, in addition to the monstrous innovation on the time of supper, to prove that the celebration of the rite appointed by Jesus to his disciples, and renewed to Paul by special revelation, (but from which the objector seems to think the liberty with which Christ has made him free completely absolves him,) is no longer practicable. The churches are, it appears, in a state of confusion respecting it: some partake of the memorial sitting, others kneeling or adoring. But as this state of confusion is not seen to arise in any single church, as some do not sit in one part of the building, while others are kneeling in another, I am at a loss to see what the state of confusion has to do with the introduction of the rite into the service; or why every congregation may not commemorate the Lord's body in its own manner, and yet each, with broad daylight to boot, have a fair right to be regarded as celebrating the Lord's Supper. Of course I except the mass. idolaters, and the political Sacramentarians. What the state of confusion, or the diversity of persons, offers in support of doing away with the rite altogether, or what is equivalent, regarding it as a matter of indifference, I do not perceive. The same inference might be drawn of the uselessness of Christianity itself, which, yet, independent of traditionary errors and corruptions, continues to exert its vital spirit and practical power. If the writer sees nothing but confusion in the várious modes of celebrating the rite of the communion, the confusion is, perhaps in his own perception. If some be wrong, it does not follow that all are wrong; and as to the appeal to the traditions of men, which he speaks

of so contemptuously, though the same appeal is resorted to in favour of the change of the sabbath, and infant baptism, and against the doctrines of three Gods in God, or a second God out of him, we may content ourselves with a reference to the historic testimony of the Epistles; whence it appears obvious, that the ancient practice was to partake of the bread and wine in the posture, whatever it was, which they used at meals: for as the apostle reproves the Corinthians for converting the Lord's Supper into a common meal, (which the writer would persuade us that it was,) they must have placed themselves as at meals; and if this were wrong, we should have had some injunction to that effect, and a clear direction for a more reverential posture. This is the mode adopted by Unitarians, as well as other Dissenters, and by the Presbyterian Kirk of Scotland; though the writer, who is so scrupulous about the hour, might, perhaps, equally scruple at the posture of sitting, and contend, that if we do not lie on couches, we cannot commemorate the death of Christ.

SIR,

B

EUCHARIS.

March 9, 1818. Y most Christians who dissent from the Established Church, the Lord's Supper, as it is called, has been considered as a family meal, and a most important institution in Christianity; the being admitted to be a partaker of the feast, or being rejected from the table, being generally considered as the test of Christian fellowship. Having formerly had the same views, and considering that I have sufficient grounds for altering my opinion on this subject, with your permission, I would take the liberty, in your liberal publication, to lay those reasons which have convinced me, before my fellow-christians, for their investigation.

My first suspicions of the authority for this ordinance arose from a considering of the nature of Christianity, in opposition to Judaism: the first is allowed to be the religion of the mind; the other is a schoolmaster to bring us into Christianity; a religion of ordinances, to lead us to the religion of the heart. But if Christianity has ordinances in it, whether they are ordinances retained from Judaism, or new

ones created and adapted to an improved state, Christianity is no longer that perfect religion we have been taught to consider it: it is only a higher state of Judaism; a religion that retains its external observations, and is not that pure intercourse of worshiping God in sincerity and truth, which Jesus taught it to be.

These considerations naturally led me to ask, when this said-to-be ordinance was to be observed, the time, the plan, the persons, the manner. Is it an institution to be taken in the morning, noon, or night? Is it to be taken in a room, or in the body of the assembly, in private or in public? Are all the members of the church to be alone partakers, or all that call themselves Christians, that choose to partake in this said-to-be eucharistical sacrifice? Are the children of those who are members to partake of it with their parents; or are none to be admitted to it, but such only who are in Christian fellowship? And how is it to be taken, a morsel of bread half cut, and half broken, delivered by the hand of an officiating priest, with a sip of wine, or wine and water; or is it with a draught of generous wine, to wash down a stale and husky bun; or are assembled Christians to shew their equality, by pulling to pieces with washed and unwashed hands, the same loaf? Is it to be taken kneeling, sitting, or standing? Are the communicants to come in turns around the table of the Lord, or are they, scattered over the place of assembly, to have the plate and cup brought to them? When the preciseness of all the known appointments of the law was considered by me, and how strictly Israel was enjoined an exactness in their observation, "thou shalt not add to, neither shalt thou diminish therefrom," I could but conclude, that if this was an ordinance, Christians knew not how to observe it, nor when it should be partaken of; seeing some, in addition to all the former queries, partook of it daily, others weekly, others monthly, and others yearly; and that whilst some consider it a panacea to remove all their past sins, others looked at it with fear and trembling, daring not to approach the sacrifice, least they should eat and drink to their own damnation.

Thus bewildered, I determined to look at the authority by which this ordinance is recommended for the Christian's observation. On turning to Matt. xxvi. I found it recorded, that on the first day of the feast of unleavened bread, they made ready the passover: ver. 20: "And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake, and gave to his disciples, and said, Take eat, this is my body." 27: "And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave to them, saying, Drink ye all of it." 28: "For this is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." 29: "But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of the fruit of the vine, until I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom."

The language of the xivth of Mark is not quite so full, but is to the same purport with that of Matthew, and from either of them it would be difficult, without doing violence to the historian's language, to find an institution of an ordinance. Matthew and Mark, as well as Luke, all of them record, that on the night the passover must be killed Jesus and his twelve apostles, when the passover was ready, partook of it; and the whole of the facts they record, are facts connected with the Jewish passover institution; nor does it appear to me possible, from any thing recorded by Matthew or Mark, for a moment to suppose that Jesus had any intention of instituting any ordinance for the perpetual observation of the church of God.

Luke's history confirms this fact, that Jesus was partaking with his disciples of the passover meal. For he says, xxii. 7, "Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the passover must be killed." 13: "And they made ready the passover." 14: "And when the hour was come, he sat down, and his twelve apostles with him." 15:"And he said unto them, with desire I have desired to eat this passover with you, before I suffer." ́ 16: "For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God." 17: "And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves." 18: "For 1 say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come." Evidently, so far at

least belongs to the observation of the Jewish passover, and to nothing else, and agrees in substance with Matthew and Mark. Luke goes on to say, xxii. 19: "And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. 20: "Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is shed for you."

The only difference between Luke and the two other historians, in the import of their words, is, this do in remembrance of me: but these words can have no farther force than on those to whom the direction is given, and that was to the apostles alone. Supposing then these words to convey a precept, it was a precept from Jesus to his apostles, that whensoever they eat the passover, or if we must extend the words to their utmost limits, whensoever ye, my apostles, assemble at a feast or meal, observe my manner, and act in remembrance of me at such meal, as I, the master of the feast, have now acted with you at this passover meal.

Taking the words in this sense, they agree with the whole of the preceding, as well as the following context. Freely translating the passage, it might be thus rendered: Thus is my body delivered up in your behalf: in like manner each of you act in remembrance, or commemoration, of me. This language agrees with the language John declares Jesus to have used at this time. John xiii. 34: "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another." xv. 12: "This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you." 13: "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." 14: "Ye are my friends if ye do whatsoever I command you." Luke, in the remainder of the conversation that he records as passing at this time, unites his testimony to that of John, that Jesus on this occasion, not only by precept, but by example, inculcated on his disciples the most earnest desire of each of them to vie with each other in doing the most humbling acts of kindness towards each other, from the recollection that Jesus had, from love to them, voluntarily submitted to shame, indignity and death.

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