G. B. F. (Gerard Benjamin Fleet) Hallock.

The English pulpit : collection of sermons online

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receive of it. It has long thirsted, long waited for it ; oh ! let it come."
And this joy, brethren, these comforts, let me add, are frequently
imparted to the believer at such seasons as these ; when he least expects
them. The text seems to intimate this also. The psalmist say^, that
it was in the very thick of his disquieting thoughts, " in the multitude
of them," when his heart was full of them, when they were at the very
worst, and he was suffering most from them — it was then that the
Lord's comforts came and delighted him. And look at the eighteenth
verse : there is the same idea. " When I said, My foot slippeth,"
when I thought myself in the very act of falling, " thy mercy, Lord,
held me up." The Lord's mercies and the Lord's comforts are often
the nearest to us when we think them the farthest away. In this
sense, as well as in many others, our extremity becomes his opportuni-
ty. So some of you, brethren, I doubt not, have found. There have
been times when you have thought, and thought again, on this point
and that, and all to no purpose ; you have taken counsel, and much
counsel with your soul, but the only fruit of it has been, you have had
sorrow in your heart daily ; your hope has failed you, your spiritual
strength has failed you, darkness has seemed to be spreading itself all
around and within you. Have you never found, brethren, that this
has been the time God has chosen for sending relief — for pouring into
your souls from himself such beams of light and consolation as have
made your whole souls wonder and rejoice together ? There was no
delight, no sensible comfort within you, while the crowd was collecting
— while only a few disquieting thoughts or things troubled you ; but
when the crowd vjas collected — when trouble without, or trouble with-
in, or perhaps both together came on you in their full measure and
force, then God's comforts came and " delighted your souls." In the
" evening time," when you thought that darkness was about to set in,
the thick darkness of a long night, in the " evening time," he made it
" light."

So it has been with us, brethren, and so probably it will be with us
many times again. We must learn to strengthen our faith from our



208 THE ENGLISH PULPIT.

past happy experience ; learn to look for " the goodness of the Lord"
in the days that are to come, just as we have experienced it in the days
that are past. While we make this our prayer — " Thou hast been my
help ; leave me not, neither forsake me, God of my salvation ; " let
us make this our resolution — " Thou hast been my help, Lord : —
therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice."

Is there a man here who is suffering from " thoughts within him,"
about which I have scarcely said one word ? a man whom God by his
Spirit has made to think of his ways, and who at this moment is dis-
quieted with thoughts concerning the sinfulness of those ways, and the
end to which they may lead him ? Is there any man here whose chief
sorrows are sorrows about a guilty soul, and what he thinks a near
opening hell ? Oh ! if there is such a man here, (and would that these
walls contained hundreds of such !) I would say to him from this text
— not one atom of comfort, real safe comfort, can you ever get, till
you look out of yourself, and entirely out of yourself for it. You
want pardon, you want help, you want hope, you want salvation; dear
brethren, you may think about these things till you drop into the grave,
but you will never get one of them till you have found out that mere
thinking will never do — will never turn a guilty soul into a pardoned
one, will never take oif from a man's guilty head the burden of his
great multitude of sins, will never close an open hell, nor open a shut-
up heaven. These things are all made over — the blessings you want
are all made over to the Lord Jesus Christ ; they are dwelling in him
for you : and there is no way of getting them but by looking to him
for them, making him your pardon, him your help, him your hope, him
your salvation. It is a mercy that you have been led to think ; it is
thinking, that through God's mercy has brought you acquainted with
your real condition. It has discovered to you the evil ; it has done its
work. But it can do no more than that, brethren. It is looking
upwards — it is believing — that must bring you the remedy ; a going
out of yourselves to the Lord Jesus Christ ; a turning of thoughtful-
ness into prayerfulness ; a turning of painful musings within you, into
earnest supplications to that Savior who is above you. It is making
him, to your souls, the spring of all you want, and all you desire.



SERMON XVIII.

THE DOCTRINE OF THE ATONEMENT,



BY REV. W. M. BUNTING,

OP HALIFAX.



" The precious blood of Christ." — 1 Petxh i. 19.



The atonement is exhibited in Scripture, not only as the procuring
cause of sanctification, but as the most powerful of motives to personal
holiness. The notion that it operates and avails wholly, or chiefly, in
the way of persuasion, to the exclusion of its propitiatory value, is one
which is unsound and Socinian ; its primary eifect is in the mind of
God, engaging him to forgive sin, and by his Holy Spirit to restore
the forgiven sinner ; but yet, by turning him to a consideration and
regard of the righteousness which does so, it undoubtedly exerts a
secondary influence upon the mind of the sinner, animating his faith,
attracting his love, and stimulating him to duty and obedience. There-
fore to trust in Christ as an all-sufficient sacrifice is not only the author-
itative condition of God's maintaining his fixed design in the salvation
of the sinner ; but that adherence to Christ, and afiection for him,
which such a faith necessarily includes in it, has a natural tendency to
assist in maintaining, by its continued agency, habits and dispositions
to holiness in the mind of the Christian believer ; who, by contempla-
ting the atonement thus set before him, is led, in some degree, to
appreciate the value of its offers ; and to draw such inferences with
regard to the immensity of the blessings it secures, as well as to the
demerits of that moral evil which it expiates, as greatly to heighten
his desires after the former, and deepen his abhorrence of the latter.

And this is the view which the apostle takes of the words in con-
nection with the text, " Be ye holy, for I am holy. And if ye call
on the Father," — if your hopes are spiritual, consistent, acceptable,
— " who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's
work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: " such is the
practical exhortation of the apostle. And this is the grand motive
which he exhibits : " Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed
with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation
received by tradition from your fathers ; but with the precious blood
of Christ." And 1 hope, in dependence upon your prayers, that it
may tend in some measure to promote your growth in holiness, and
14



210 THE ENGLISH PULPIT.

other valuable objects in the Christian life, if we expatiate for a few
moments upon the ineffable and inestimable preciousness of that blood,
as it presents itself under several separate, essential, and enhancing
considerations.

Suffer me, however, to remind you that our approach to this sub-
ject should be reverential, tranquil, and deliberate ; it is a subject
for much thought and much fear. Let us pray that the Hol^'- Spirit
may fill our minds with this truth ; that he will prepare our hearts to
receive the moral and practical directions it suggests, and that he may
enable us to form a proper estimate of the preciousness and value of
the atoning blood, as the foundation of all our present holiness and
happiness, and of all our future hopes.

I. Let us endeavor to estimate it in its adaptation to

ALL THE WANTS OF MAN, AND ITS ANSWERABLENESS TO ALL THE
PROPERTIES OF GOD.

We must admit it to be important, to be necessary, and to have pre-
cisely the relation which it should bear to our interests and hopes.
The alternative to the atonement would not have been God's dishonor,
but it would have been man's ruin. The redemption of the soul is
precious ; and therefore the redemption of Christ must be so. Man
of himself has wronged, and would wrong God by his rebellion ; he is
a rebel against him ; and if ever that rebel was to be forgiven, if
ever Jehovah, — if I may so say, and I think I speak upon the author-
ity and with the warrant of the Scripture, — if ever Jehovah was to
be justified in forgiving him, it could but be by means of an atone-
ment, adequate, appropriate, and acceptable.

Let us propose to ourselves the necessity of this sacrifice ; and of
course the foundation of the value of the sacrificial blood must be
more particularly considered and ascertained. We will endeavor, then,
in the manner of the great apostle of the Gentiles, to reason out of
the Scriptures upon this point, not independently of their principles
and tenor, but to reason out of them, by openly alleging, demonstra-
ting, and explaining that Christ must needs suffer.

He who made man has an indisputable right to govern him. Of
course he does so in conformity with his own nature, which is infinitely
holy, just, and good. He has an essential, unalterable right in him, to
uphold his government over him, and to compel his creatures to submit
to him. Of course the principles of his government will be embodied
in a well-understood law, which will be in its turn the basis of his
practical administration. We learn from Scripture that this law was,
in its origin, essentially a spiritual law ; and as the natural effect of a



DOCTRINE OF THE ATONEMENT. 211

cause, what his law was, that his government would be also. To this
law was attached the condition of eternal life ; that is to saj, by the
most scrupulous obedience to it man was to be confirmed for ever in
the life which he then had, with the addition of all that was capable of
increasing and enhancing his enjoyments in it ; while the penalty of
breaking it was the forfeiture of all his hopes of immortality and
never-ending joy, which must of necessity take in the idea of personal
suffering, in order to vindicate the perfect proportion existing between
the promised recompense of obedience, and the threatened penalty of
transgression ; for the loss of immortality alone would be no propor-
tionate or correspondent penalty to his disobedience.

Mark the three immutable and indisputable principles in this law !
It was the express condition of the divine engagement. It was the
basis and support of the divine government. It was intended as a
manifestation and expression of the divine perfection.

Plainly, then, by the veracity of God, to take the lowest view of the
subject, by his credit as the Creator and Governor of the world, sway-
ing the affections of an intelligent and upright creature ; and by the
glory of his unchanging nature, he was concerned in the enforcement
of that law, by all these he was pledged to the conferment of eternal
life, — for it is important to consider that man was then rather in an
elementary than in a confirmed state of things, — by all these consid-
erations or principles he was pledged to the conferment of eternal
life on such as continued obedient to the end of their trial : and to
the abjudication of its opposite, eternal death, with whatever it implies,
whether of personal and bodily suffering, or of the simple loss of immor-
taUty and joy, to those who transgressed it. Equally unrighteousness
is impossible with God, either to punish the innocent, or to pretermit
the punishment of the offender. No ! the sad fact is, that with every
thing in favor of his obedience, his capacities, his circumstances, his
motives, the powerful bias of his divine destination, his noble and
attractive hopes, with every thing, in fact, in favor of his obedience,
man transgressed.

Is God then unrighteous that taketh vengeance ? God forbid. There
is every thing in God, there is every thing in what belongs to, and is
associated with the idea of him, that forbids, precludes, repels, such a
thought. The truth of his word, the rectitude of his administration,
the holiness of his nature — which implies universal righteousness, —
all this not only justified, to speak in the manner of man himself, to
whom the assumption has reference, but rendered it absolutely needful
that he should withhold the remission of the life that was forfeited ; or,
what comes to the same thing, of the death which was due.



313 THE ENGLISH PULPIT.

But now it "was for his own wisdom and sovereignty to determine in
what manner the full amount of satisfaction, owing to justice, should be
rendered. And here it was that his own mercy interposed with the
wonderful work of the propitiation, so contrived that sin should not go
unpunished, but that the sinner should be spared : that a substitute
should, if possible, be found capable of glancing at his own design,
and, by his peculiar merit, paying the penalty incurred by the offender.
The whole race of man is comprehended and contemplated in the per-
son of Adam. And only granting, for this must be conceded, that
the eternal death of innumerable finite persons may be commuted into
the temporal death of one infinite person — ■ " Enough," cries Justice,
" if condemned millions are to be restored to their forfeited capacity
and probation " — for this is all that is included in the idea of an
atonement (there is nothing in it beyond this,) " if condemned mil-
lions are to be restored to their state of probation for eternal life, and
to have their hopes and opportunities given them back again, with
grace to influence them to a right choice for the future — give me the
blood, the hfe, the death ! " for these terms are all compatible ; " which
render the sacrificial offering of one worthy and adequate substitute
a satisfaction for the sins of the whole race." And such a satisfaction
was the righteousness of Christ : " For it became him for whom are all
things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory,
to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through suffering."

He, who was the Author and end of their being, the Maker and
Judge of mankind ; " for whose pleasure they were and are created ; "
and who might have justified himself in their condemnation after their
fall, he justly requires that in that new and living way, under which,
in his own mercy, he proposes to redeem their lives from destruction,
his honor should be equally consulted and procured by the vicarious
death of the Redeemer. And here we think the argument of the
great Dr. Owen on this point is referable. " If it were just of God
to demand such a satisfaction, if it were just of him to punish, of
course the punishment was incapable of being dispensed with." And
we have the incidental testimony of the Scripture, not only as to the
fact, but also as to the necessity of the atonement, laid before us in
such a manner as may render the great propitiatory sacrifice more
strikingly valuable than the most ample and copious direct testimony
upon the subject ; and mark how ! Did our blessed Savior pray to
his Father in the garden, that the cup might not pass from him ? No,
his prayer was, " my Father, if it be possible let this cup pass from
me." And was that cup still imposed upon him ? Yea, the cup was
drank to its very dregs. The inference is, that it was impossible for



DOCTRINE OP THE ATONEMENT. 213

the cup to pass from him, and yet the cup of the wrath of God was
to pass into the hands of him who desired to drink it. And the apos-
tle declares and asserts, that " God set forth Christ to be a propitia-
tion through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the
remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God ; "
proving that the sacred Majesty of heaven was willing to justify the
believer in Jesus ; without whose atoning sacrij&ce (the inference is
irresistible,) there would have been no declaration of his righteous-
ness ; his righteousness would have been obscured, dishonored and
withdrawn from the view of men, and there would have been no moral
impression made upon the intelligent universe.

Can God pardon sin upon any other terms ? Observe two remarka-
ble passages in the epistle to the Hebrews, which we think establish
this fact : for we are rather eager for the truth than for our own assump-
tion, and desire not to overstate our argument. In the ninth chapter
the apostle says, " For Christ is not entered into the holy places made
with hands, which are the figures of the true, but into heaven itself,
now to appear in the presence of God for us ; nor yet that he should
oflFer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every
year, with the blood of others : for then must he often have suffered
since the foundation of the world." Now, how does this appear ? The
apostle draws no inference, he uses no argument, he makes no appeal
to the judgment, there is nothing in the passage which shows it to be a
conclusion from former premises ; but he lays down at once the hypoth-
esis of the necessity of the atonement ; he assumes that there must be
an offering for sin world without end, unless the Savior's atonement be
perfect and complete ; that unless by " this one oblation he for ever
perfected them that are sanctified," it must be a matter of course, that
in order to bear away the sins of the world from past and future gene-
rations, he must have suffered often from the foundation of the world to
the end of it. It is impossible to understand, appreciate, and admit
the argument of the apostle in this passage, except by the assumption
we are now maintaining.

And then, in the next chapter, he says, " For if we sin wilfully, after
that we have received the knowledge of the truth " — and what is the
truth here referred to, but the scriptural truth of the atoning sacrifice,
of the atoning sacrifice of Christ — " If we sin wilfully," with regard
to this known truth, in the deliberate and ultimate rejection of it ; if we
ultimately, wilfully, and deliberately reject it ; not merely willingly, for
no man sins unwillingly ; but if we wilfully and deliberately sin, in the
rejection of that truth — in the great truth of the atonement, the all-
sufficient atonement — " after that we have received the knowledge of



21^ THE ENGLISH PULPIT.

the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins " for those who
ihus wilfully reject it. But there is no argument, for we observe he
immediately passes over to the consequences, the thing is assumed as
true, " there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins ; " hut, as a matter
of course, there is " a certain fearful looking-for of judgment and fiery
indignation." Here the apostle obviously assumes the sin of rejecting
the atonement of Christ ; he first of all states, " that there i^emaineth
no more sacrifice for sins," no other atonement ; then he does not pro-
ceed to demonstrate, but assumes, that if a man sins in the rejection
of that sacrifice, the consequence is, an absence of that interposition
between him and God which such a sacrifice involves in it, and the cer-
tain damnation of him who so situates himself: " if there remaineth no
more sacrifice for sin, there remaineth nothing but a certain fearful
looking-for of judgment and fiery indignation."

Well then, brethren, God might have justified himself in our con-
demnation ; but he was willing, according to the emphasis of the gospel,
to glorify himself in our redemption ; and this he could only do by the
vicarious death of the Redeemer.

We cannot but be struck with the coincidence between pardon and
justification^ as exhibited in the New Testament. Pardon we conceive
to be quite peculiar to God. It is there said to be justification ;' the
meaning of this may be either — that pardon through the sacrifice of
Christ places the pardoned man in the condition of the just, or that
God pardons him justly. That the pardoned man is so forgiven, so
entirely divested from that time forward of blame, on the condition of
his faithfulness, of his continued faithfulness in Christ — so entirely,
that God puts no more to his account his past sins, but treats him with
favor and complacency, and looks upon him as righteous, accounts him
as righteous ; this is one sense in which pardon is justification. In the
other sense in which we conceive the expression may have a similar
meaning, we suppose it to infer that God pardons him justly ; that is,
he pardons him in his own way, on his own terms, on the terms of the
propitiation to the honor of his justice, " for he is faithful and just to
forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

But, then, pardon is not justification, either such as to place the sin-
ner in the condition of the just, or to reflect honor upon the glory,
righteousness, and excellencies of the Deity, except upon the terms of
the propitiation ; for God declares his righteousness through the propi-
tiation of the blood of Christ. Oh, precious then, incalculably precious
is that blood, without the shedding of which there is no remission ; and
after the shedding of which there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin ;
he who rejects which has no other hope, no other alternative, and can



DOCTRINE OF THE ATONEMENT. 215

look only for judgment and fiery indignation, and his doom, though
dreadful, is deserved : which blood wanting you would have perished,
and which, trifled with and wasted, you will, your punishment being
dreadfully aggravated in the latter case by the sensibility of your
neglect, aggravated into an unspeakable retribution. Well may we,
then, viewing the necessity of the case, exclaim with the apostle, pre-
cious blood !

II. I EXHORT YOU TO ESTIMATE THE PRECIOUSNESS OF THE BLOOD
BY ITS INTRINSIC MERIT.

Such a sacrifice as this was adequate, and adapted to the case. —
There is a passage in the epistle to the Hebrews, with which you are
most of you familiar, so well illustrating this point, that we may be
excused for confining ourselves to the consideration of it : " For if
the blood of bulls, and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling
the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh, how much more
shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit oflered him-
self without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works, to
serve the living God ?" Here you perceive the intrinsic merit of the
sacrifice is ascribed to the blood of Christ.

There are two or three representations of this subject, which may
tend to increase your ideas of its meritoriousness and value.

1. The first circumstance prominent in this description of our
Savior's sacrifice, is that it is a direct oblation to Cfod. Christ oflered
himself to God as a sacrificial ofiering for sin. This fact is not only
stated frequently, but always when reference is made to Christ as a
sacrifice in the New Testament. It is recognized too in all our stand-
ards of theology, as indicative of a proper sacrifice ; it is repeated with
great frequency in the liturgy of the Church of England — in all
which it is shown to be a proper sacrifice and oblation to God, and not
a gratuitous gift. It may have been spontaneous., it may have been
voluntary ; but still, if the Savior would become a substitute, if he
would become an oSering for the guilt of the condemned, he must
needs suffer.

2. And this oblation and offering himself to God, contained an ample
recognition of the autJiority of God''s laiv, and of his nght to punish
transgressors. There is an emphasis, both in this epistle, and in that
of the Eomans, laid by the apostle on the word obedience in each case,
implying Christ's obedience to the law, not his active obedience in his
life, but the reference is plainly to his sacrificial offering or oblation ;
and this act of obedience to God's law contains a recognition of his
authority and right, and hence, in the language of the prophet Isaiah,



216 THE ENGLISH PULPIT.

" God is well pleased with him," because of his obedience ; and because
in that act he magnified his law ; and made it incomparably honorable
in the sight of the universe.

3. Another circumstance prominent in the description of the Savior's
sacrifice, is the intelligence and voluntariness of the victim. Christ
offered himself to God through the eternal Spirit. This refers possi-
bly, and may be commonly understood to apply to his sacerdotal func-
tions, to the fact that the priest and the victim are one and the same



Online LibraryG. B. F. (Gerard Benjamin Fleet) HallockThe English pulpit : collection of sermons → online text (page 24 of 45)