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founder of truth would not have declared himself to have finished that work prior to his death.
That Jesus should ride on a colt, should receive an offer of vinegar to drink, and should be wounded with a spear after he had delivered up the ghost, as well as his death on the cross, were events prophesied in the Old Testament, and consequently these were fulfilled by Jesus. Vide Luke, ch. xxiv. vers. 26 and 27: “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” But we are unhappily at a loss to discover any other design in each of these events, which happened to Jesus before his ascent to heaven. I am therefore sorry that I must plead my inability to make a satisfactory reply to the question of the Editor, “ Had ever Jesus transgressed his heavenly Father's will, that he underwent such afflictions?” I can only say, that we find in the Scriptures that several other Prophets in common with Jesus suffered great afflictions, and some even death, as predicted. But I know not whether those afflictions were the consequences of the sins committed by them or by their parents, or whether these distresses were experienced by them through some divine purpose unknown to us; as some scriptural authorities shew beyond doubt, that man may be made liable to sufferings for some secret divine purpose, without his or his parents having perpetrated any remarkable crime. (John, ch. ix. ver, 3 : “ Jesus answered, Neither bath this man
sinned nor his parents; but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.”) The latter alternative (namely, that the righteous Prophets suffered afflictions and even death for some divine purpose, known thoroughly to God alone) seems more consistent with the contents of the sacred writings, such as follow: Mark, ch. xii. vers. 19: “ And he began to speak unto them by parables. A certain man planted a vineyard, and set a hedge about it, and digged a place for the wine fat, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country. And at the season he sent to the husbandmen a servant, that he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruit of the vineyard. And they caught him, and beat him, and sent him away empty. And again he sent unto them another servant ; and at him they cast stones, and wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully handled. And again he sent another ; and him they killed, and many others; beating some, and killing some. Having yet therefore one son, his well-beloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying, They will reverence my son. But these husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir ; ; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall
And they took him, and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard. What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others.” John, ch. xv. vers. 21, 22:“ But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me. If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin : but now they have no cloak for their sin.” This parable and these passages give countenance to the idea, that God suffered his Prophets, and Jesus his beloved Son, to be cruelly treated and slain by the Jews, for the purpose of taking away every excuse that they might offer for their guilt.
In explaining the objects of Jesus's death on the cross, the Editor confidently assumes, that “ If we view Jesus Christ as atoning for the sins of men, we have every thing perfectly in character : he became incarnate to accomplish that which could have been effected by neither men nor angels." I should therefore wish to know whether Jesus, whom the Editor represents as God incarnate, suffered death and pain for the sins of men in his divine nature, or in his human capacity? The former must be highly inconsistent with the nature of God, which, we are persuaded to believe by reason and tradition, is above being rendered liable to death or pain ; since the difference we draw between God and the objects that are not God, is, that one cannot be subjected to death or termination, and the other is finite and liable to mortality. That the effects of Christ's appearance on earth, whether with respect to the salvation or condemnation of mankind, were finite, and therefore suitable to the nature of a finite being to accomplish, is evident from the fact, that to the present time millions of human beings are daily passing through the world, whom the doctrines he taught have never reached, and who of course must be considered as excluded from the benefit of his having died for the remission of their sins. The latter, namely, that Jesus suffered death and pain in his human capacity as an atonement for the offences of others seems totally inconsistent with the justice ascribed to God, and even at variance with those principles of equity required of men ; for it would be a piece of gross iniquity to afflict one innocent being, who had all the human feelings, and who had never transgressed the will of God, with the death of the cross, for the crimes committed by others, especially when he declares such great aversion to it, as is manifest from the following passages. Matthew, ch. xxvi. vers. 37, 39, 42 and 43: “ And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. And prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup (meaning death] pass from me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt. He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.” Mark, ch. xiv. ver. 36: “And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless, not what I will, but what thou wilt.” Luke, ch. xxii. vers. 42 and 44 : “Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done. And being in an agony, he prayed more earnestly ; and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood, falling down to the ground.” John, ch. xii. ver. 27: “ Now is my soul troubled ; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour,” Do not these passages evidently shew, that Jesus in his human capacity (according to the Trinitarian phrase) felt averse to death and pain, and that he earnestly prayed that he might not be subjected to it? Jesus, however, knowing that the will of the Father rendered such death unavoidable, yielded to it as predicted. John, ch. xi. vers. 17 and 18: “ Therefore doth my Father love me because I lay down my life that I might take it again: no man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself; I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again: this commandment have I received of my Father.” Matthew, ch. xxvi. vers. 53 and 54: “ Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels ? But how then shall the Scripture be fulfilled, that thus it must be?” The iniquity of one's being sentenced to death as an atonement for the fault committed by another is so palpable, that although in many countries the human race think themselves justified in detaining the persons of those men who, voluntarily making themselves responsible for the debt or the persons of others, fail to fulfil their engagements; nevertheless, every just man among them would shudder at the idea of one's being put to death for a crime committed by another, even if the innocent man should willingly offer his life in behalf of that other.