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Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. He delivered him up for us all.—He gave his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. He made him to be sin for us.”
But though God really appointed both the sacrifices in the temple, and the sacrifice on Calvary, the objects of the two divine appointments were very different. The design of the divinely appointed Levitical sacrifices, was to “sanctify to the purifying of the flesh.” The design of the divinely appointed sacrifice of Christ, was to “purge the conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” The object of the former was, to procure the remission of ceremonial guilt, purification from ceremonial defilement, and deliverance from temporal punishment. The object of the latter was, to procure the remission of moral guilt, purification from moral pollution, and deliverance from everlasting misery. The sacrifice appointed by an infinitely wise and just God, to serve the last of the purposes, must be more valuable than those appointed by him to serve the first of them.
The value of the Aaronical sacrifices arose entirely from divine appointment. Of themselves they were altogether insufficient even for the purposes for which they were intended. Their value, as sacrifices, was entirely extrinsic, originating in their being a divine ordinance. Their connection with their object was like that which existed between our Lord speaking a word and curing a disease ; not that which exists between the application of medicine, and the removal of the disorder.
It is otherwise with the sacrifice of our Lord. That sacrifice was in itself valuable; and between it and its object there existed the connection both of means and end, cause and effect. It was in itself calculated to gain the purpose for which it was intended. It was not so properly valuable because it was appointed, as appointed because it was valuable *.
The intrinsic value of the victims offered in sacrifice, by the Aaronical priests, was comparatively trifling. They were all of them irrational animals. The blood shed was that of bulls and goats. But Christ's sacrifice was the “sacrifice of himself,”-himself both body and soul. The life of a man is more valuable than the lives of innumerable beasts. The soul of a man is more valuable than a universe of mere matter. The sacrificial victim was, in the case of our Saviour's offering, an intelligent being, possessed of the highest intellectual endowments and moral excellencies ; so that, even in this point of light, the sacrifice of Christ was incomparably more valuable than that of the Aaronical priesthood.
The most important fact, however, in reference to the value of our Lord's sacrifice, remains to be stated. The sacrificial victim was a human nature most intimately united to the divine, in the person of the Son of God. The divine nature necessarily impresses its own dignity and value on the constituted person of the Messiah, and upon his whole mediatory work. Accordingly we find, the value and efficacy of the sacrifice of the Son of God, is, in Scripture, referred to his
* Were I not afraid of degrading a subject so important, by my attempts to illustrate it, I would say, the Levitical sacrifices resemble paper currency, which owes both its value and its use to the appointment of the government; whereas the sacrifice of our Saviour bears an analogy to the gold coin. It has value in itself ; the stamp of the mint only gives it currency; and it is because it is valuable that it is made current. May I be forgiven for tracing the analogy a little farther? It is from its reference to real property, that paper currency has even the value it possesses. It is from a reference to the great sacrifice, that the Levitical expiations derived their princi. pal value.
essential Deity. “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, who is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of every creature; for by him were all things created *.” The Son of God, whom he has “appointed heir of all things, by whom he made the worlds, who is the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, upholding all things by the word of his power, by himself purged our sins t."
“Through the eternal Spirit, he offered himself to God a sacrifice without spot I." thing be more evident, than that in these
the value, and consequent efficacy of the Redeemer's sacri. fice, is represented as flowing from his being a possessor of the divine nature?
It is indeed most true, that the divine nature is not susceptible of pain or death; and the cause of scriptural truth has been materially injured by the use of a phraseology by some of its honest and able defenders, which seems to imply the absurdity and impiety of the divine passibility. Yet still, though only the human nature was, or could be offered in sacrifice, it was the human nature of the incarnate Deity; and “God manifest in flesh," stamped his own glory on the propitiation for our sins.
How the infinite dignity of our Lord's divine nature conveyed an infinite value to the sufferings of his humanity, it is difficult, or perhaps impossible for usfully explain. The fact is certain, and is of the last importance, as the foundation of the sinner's hope of acceptance with God 11.
* Col. i. 14, 15. + Heb. i. 2, 3. # Heb. ix. 14. || To attempt fully to explain such a subject, as the manner in which the divinity of the Saviour affects the value of his sacrifice, is certain. ly to endeavour “ to be wise above what is written ;” but we may surely - shew the reasonableness of such a doctrine, and rebut the charges which rashness or profanèness may throw out against it, with.
There is a somewhat different aspect in which this most interesting subject may be viewed; and from the contemplation of which, the superior value of the sacrifice of our Saviour, above the Levitical sacrifices, will become yet farther apparent. The value of a sacrifice consists in its tendency to propitiate the Divinity, or, in other words, in its tendency to give such a display of God's hatred against sin, and his determination to punish it, as renders it consistent with his moral character and government to pardon and save the sinner. Now, that in this point of view the sacrifice of Christ infinitely transcends in value the Levitical sacrifices, may easily be made evident.
out overstepping the boundary prescribed to our feeble and fallen fa. culties.” This has been done in so masterly a manner by an English divine, in whom seem to meet, in rare combination, extensive learn. ing, critical acumen, consistent orthodoxy, and fervent piety, that I conceive I am doing an important favour to the reader, by presenting him with the following statement.
“I. The assumption of human nature by the Eternal Word, who is God, was the act of an infinite mind, knowing, intending, and contemplating all the results of that act of assumption, through the pe. riod of the designed humiliation, and for ever. To the divine mind, nearness and remoteness of time or space are equal ; consequently, as the actual assumption of human nature was the first result of the omnipotent will, so the same act or volition must equally have carried forwards, and communicated its original divine value, to all the subsequent moral and mediatorial acts of the incarnate Saviour.
66 II. The union of the divine and human natures in his person, was constant and invariable. The Scriptures afford us no reason to think, that the Messiah's human nature, though retaining always its essential properties, had ever a separate subsistence. To the mother of Jesus it was announced, “The holy being which is born of thee, shall be called the Son of God ;' and, according to the prophetic de. claration, as soon as the world could say, “Unto us a child is born,' so soon was it fact that his name was called, the Wonderful, the Counsellor, the Mighty God,' It was the Mediator in his whole person, who acted for the salvation of man, though it was impossible that the divine nature could be subject to suffering.
“ From these two positions, I infer a third, which I venture to propose as an unexceptionable mode of stating this important, though profound and difficult subject.
"III. All the acts of our Lord Jesus Christ, that were physical or merely intellectual, were acts of his human nature alone, being necessary to the subsistence of a human nature; but all his moral acts, and all the moral qualities of complex acts, or, in other terms, all that he did, in and for the execution of his mediatorial office and work, were impressed with the essential dignity and moral value of his divine perfection.
66 These reasons appear to me sufficient to authorise our attributing to this holy sacrifice, a value properly infinite, on account of the divine nature of him who offered it. A most important conclusion !
There are two circumstances with respect to a sacrifice, which may be viewed as illustrative of the displeasure of God against sin—the degree of suffering endured by the victim, and the dignity and excellence of the victim who undergoes the suffering. It is selfevident, that the pain suffered by all the victims which bled in sacrifice under the law, was as nothing when compared with the pain endured by our blessed Redeemer. And if there be no proportion as to the first mode of illustrating the divine hatred of sin, the obvious disproportion is still more striking as to the last. What an infinite difference is there between the display given of the divine displeasure at sin, by devoting some thousands of irrational animals to a violent and somewhat untimely death, and that given by in
rich in hope to the contrite sinner; full of joy to the obedient believer,
“ I cannot decline also to observe here, how close and important is the connection between the two leading doctrines of the Christian system, the Deity, and the atonement of Christ. They yield mutual illustration and support, and neither can be consistently held without the other.”
These paragraphs are extracted from Dr Pye Smith's Sermon On the Sacrifice of Christ, pp. 53–55; a well-reasoned and elaborate discourse, which, besides giving a very satisfactory view of the subject in general, is calculated to be particularly useful as a necessary supplement to Dr Magee's work on Atonement. Dr Smith's discussions in reference to the 66 value and efficacy of the sacrifice of Christ," fill up a most majerial defect in the able and learned treatise of his predecessor, which, so far as it goes, is an unanswered and unanswerable defence of the scriptural doctrine of sacrifice and atonement.