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Not less fully does the atonement of Christ meet the necessities of the human conscience. What is conscience? It is the divine faculty in man. It is the power which perceives what is right and what is wrong, and passes judgment on each according to its character. It is the side of our nature which is allied with God, which sympathizes with him, which reflects his feeling. Conscience feels, instinctively, though the feeling may never be analyzed, nor acknowledged perhaps in words, that God is displeased with sin, and that his law is righteous, and its penalty a just expression of his displeasure. Conscience feels that sin, as the Bible everywhere, teaches, is an evil of such malignity and magnitude that it must be punished. Every truly penitent and believing sinner endorses, involuntarily and with all the strength of his enlightened moral nature, the law which condemns and consigns him to everlasting punishment. No man asks for Christ, no man accepts Christ as his true and only Saviour, until he feels that sentence is passed upon him, and that the sentence is altogether just. And as we condemn ourselves, so, also, do we condemn others for wrong-doing. Even the heathen show this law written on their hearts. It is the human conscience which speaks, when the islanders, watching the viper that comes out from under the burning sticks and fastens upon the hand of Paul, say " among themselves, no doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the
sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live." Conscience is the echo of the divine law whieh demands the punishment of sin.
Still further, conscience, when enlightened by the IIoly Spirit, and feeling the guilt of sin, is the most sensitive and timorous thing in the world. Perceiving intuitively the truth of Scripture, and apprehending by a kind of delegated prescience the nature and certainty of the judgment day, conscience feels that the very foundations of the Gospel must be subjected to the most intense scrutiny and fiery trial. The divine government is not a piece of shifting, temporary expediency, but an immutable arrangement founded on the eternal principles of right and justice. And the enlightened conscience, somewhat blindly, indeed, but truly and instinctively, anticipates the searchings and findings of that day of days.
What, then, is the necessity of conscience; the necessity that must be met? Plainly, just this : it must see that the foundation on which the sinner is invited to trust himself, is a foundation which can stand the searchings of eternal justice, a foundation which will stand when the heavens fall, and which is every way undoubted, and adequate to the scrutiny and trial of the final judgment. Conscience can not trust anything else. The enlightened sinner can not believe till he sees and feels that the offered foundation is every way, and for all time, and for all worlds trustworthy.
Besides this, that the proffered salvation must be without flaw, like the lamb for sacrifice, without spot, or wrinkle, or blemish, or suspicion ; the provision must sustain, uphold and solemnly confirm in the mind of the sinner the idea that sin is a great and fearful evil : otherwise the instinct of conscience is contradicted and debauched by the very act of forgiveness. Can it be necessary to say, that neither sorrow, nor tears, nor repentance can do this? These are not the correlate of crime. They can not restore your broken bone if you leap from the roof of the house. You might feel that you would not jump again ; but you have jumped and the consequences are incurred. So under the divine moral government, the deed is done, the penalty is let loose, and repentance can not withstand its tooth and bite, can not undo the deed. The wickedness is committed, and conscience utters its voice. From this there can be no appeal.
This, then, is the necessity of conscience : it must see that the foundations on which it is invited to stand are immovable and firm, that the guilt of sin is crimson in its hues even while it is forgiven. This urgent necessity of the conscience the atonement meets. God is seen to be just while he justifies the guilty. " The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” And in the penalty borne by Christ conscience perceives that justice has not been robbed, but satisfied; and now pardon is offered to the believer in Jesus, is offered to him who trusts in his blood, on those eternal and unchanging principles of right and justice which no judicial exigencies in the history of the world can contravene, which no trial of the judgment day can disturb. On this everlasting foundation, justice satisfied, not cheated, not put off for a time, but fully and forever satisfied, conscience rests. This is evangelical repose, and it is fully adequate to all the necessities of our fallen humanity ; its hour of sickness and disappointment and darkest sorrow. It fails not in the hour of death ; in the day of judgment it is fulness of joy.
At the same time the guilt of sin is not abated, nor palliated. In the vicarious sufferings and death of Christ it is seen that God abhors sin while he provides for its forgiveness. The evil of sin, which fills the conscience with indescribable and appalling dread, is not lessened nor lowered. It is still an unspeakable evil which the sinner rejoices with profound gratitude and consecration to Christ to be delivered from. Thus by the atonement of Christ the necessities of conscience are met and satisfied. "There is, therefore, now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.” Where all human philosophy fails, and all human endeavor ends only in blank despair, the death of Jesus Christ brings the needed relief.
Not that men reason in this way, not that they stop to analyze their mental processes in believing, or to take note of their feelings, but, just as the new-born infant instinctively desires its appointed nutriment the guilt-stricken, thirsting conscience accepts and appropriates the blood of Christ.
" My flesh is meat, indeed, and my blood is drink, indeed.”
By the atonement of Christ the necessities of the divine nature are also met, the justice of God is satisfied. We do not lose sight of the great truth that God is the universal and compassionate Father ; that he looks with ineffable sympathy on all the human race. "God is love.” But God is a sovereign, a law-giver, a judge. And as such, sitting at the head of a government perfect in rectitude and design, adapted to make every subject infinitely and forever happy by obedience to its commands, he must, as we have seen, regard and execute the law. Were you a judge you would feel that the laws must be enforced. And if you were really a good man, you would not only have no sympathy with offenders, but would feel moral indignation at their offences. In proportion to your love of order and right and justice, all the nobler elements of your nature would be excited and aroused to withstand such conduct and demand its punishment. This feeling of anger and opposition toward all who wickedly oppose and wantonly aim to destroy a good government, is legitimate and righteous. Distant be the day when our rulers and our citizens generally shall have any other feeling. Just so the Scriptures speak of the divine indignation toward sin. If sin succeeds, the authority of God must go down. If sinners prevail, a righteous judge must leave the throne, and misrule and anarchy and wretchedness must spread their blight throughout his dominions. God can not allow this. The infinite goodness of his nature must resist the suspicion that such a state of things can gain a foothold in his empire. Hence, we read that God will by no means clear the guilty.
But more than this we read, and it is the natural expression of a necessary, constitutional feeling; " God is angry with the wicked every day.” Such an expression grates harshly on the ears of a certain class of people, but the trouble arises from misapprehension, from imputing to the Creator such selfish anger as sinful creatures feel. God is not enraged, his anger moves like the stars, irresistibly, but silently and lawfully; moves upon offenders like the sun from morning to meridian in the midsummer of a torrid zone, the life of the world, but growing steadily hotter and hotter till it burns like a consuming fire. God's anger is the indignation of a just and holy conscience against unmixed sin ; a feeling which all holy beings in the universe must approve.
Now this feeling must be somehow appeased, this sense of outraged justice must be propitiated. That is no mercy which overrides or robs this sense of justice. In the atonement by Jesus Christ this necessity in the nature of a holy God is met. Taking the sinner's place, the eternal Son suffers his penalty, and thus this sense of outraged justice is appeased ; and now mercy can come forth with pardon for the guilty. That unfathomable pity which yearned for expression in the divine nature, can now, consistently with the claims of justice, and the maintenance of government, flow out to sinful man. In the sufferings and death of Christ, righteousness and peace have embraced each other. God is just, as the Scripture teaches ; feels himself to be just; shows the sensitive, timorous conscience that he is just; declares to the universe that he is just, while he justifies the sinner who believeth in Jesus.
The fact that he made his Son an offering for sin, is proof undoubted that there was no other way by which we can be saved. If we reject him, therefore, we are lost. There is no escape from the logical conclusion, there will be no escape from the judicial condemnation.
FRAUD IN AUTHORSHIP.
Christian Memorials of the War; or Scenes and Incidents Illus
trative of Religious Faith and Principle, Patriotism and Bravery in our Army. With Historical Notes by HORATIO B. HACKETT, Professor of Biblical Literature and Interpretation in Newton Theol. Inst: author of " Illustrations of Scripture,” "Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles,” etc.
Boston : Gould & Lincoln. 1864. Nurse and Spy in the Union Army ; Comprising the Adventures
and Experiences of a Woman in Hospitals, Camps and Battle Fields: By S. EMMA E. EDMONDS. Published by subscription only, by W. S. Williams & Co., Hartford, Conn. 1865.
Some one has remarked that an impartial history of the late rebellion in this country can not be written by an American. However this may be, it is certainly the work of no other than Americans to collect and preserve the materials of this history. Of course, our public archives, national and state, are rich and safe depositories of these materials. Our government has also made provision for the collection and preservation of the archives of the so-called Confederate States; and Dr. Francis Lieber, than whom no better man could have been selected, has been placed in charge of the work. But there are many facts relative to the recent struggle which lie outside of these public materials of our history, which are also worthy of preservation. It is true they do not belong strictly to the department of history. They are fragmentary records. As the records, however,