William Nicholls.

A Conference with a Theist : containing an answer to all the most usual objections of the infidels against the Christian religion ... (Volume 1) online

. (page 29 of 47)
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prejfed, judge the Fatherlefs, plead for the Wido7Vy Ifa. i.
1 2, (^c. So that you fee this Sacrifice and expiatory Sa-
tJsfadion is all butcherly Stuff, which is neither accepta-
ble to God, nor agreeable to the Sentiments of wife

Cred, You mn away a little too fafl with your Argu- Expiation
ment, when you make fiich Exclamations about the Seve- confifioit
rity and Implacablenefs of the Deity, where it is afferted, ^!^%^l'of
that he requires Expiation and Satisfa(5lion for Men's Sins. Qod.
Wicked Men, that are refolved to live on in a Courfe of
Sin, may flatter themfelves, that God has nothing in him
but Mercy ; but I am afraid in Time they will find. That
God in his Laws has regard to his Juftice too. I will not
affert, That it is impoltible that God as God, all whofe
Attributes are infinite, lliould forgive the Sins of Men
without a Satisfadion to his Juftice : But yet I fay, that
confidering God as a Legiflator, who defigns to govern
JMen by his Laws, it is nor agreeable to his Wifdom to
fuffer his Laws to be trampled upon with Impunity by
bold and regardlefs Sinners. And indeed all God Al-
mighty's Attributes are direded by his infinite Reafon
and Wifdom, and his Mercy is not, as a great many take
it to be, a Sort of feminine Tendernefs that cannot hold
out againft the Cries of fuffering Offenders : But fuch a
good and v/ife Relaxation of the Puniiliment which his
Juflice in Rigor might demand, as mayfecure the honour
of his Laws, his eternal Juftice and Purity, and withall


gi8 A Conference

make all pofTible Allowances for the Infirmities of Man-
kind. And upon this Reafon I take the Nature of ex-
piatory Sacrifices in all Ages to have been grounded, to
fhew the great Averfion God has always had to Sin, and
to deter Men from Sin, by (hewing the great Satisfadion
which he required foi* it. And therefore I do not
approve the Reafon which a late Author ^ gives, that
the End of Sacrifices was to make Sin coflly to the Of-
fender -i and to appeaje the Confciences of penitent Sinner s^ by
fhewing that God accepted the Death of the Beaft in lieu
of theirs, t^or thefe are only general Ends, but the moft
^ principal and particular End which was aimed at in the
Sacrifices of Beafts was, that they might be Types and
Fore-runners of the great Sacrifice of our blelTed Lord,
from the E£Scacy of whofe infinite Satisfaction they re-
ceived all their expiatory Nature. For as th^ Apoftle ar- '
^ues, Heb» X. 6* It is not poffble that the Blood of Bulls and
Caats JJjould take oivay Sins ; and therefore thefe muft all
have Reference to the infinite Satisfadion of Chrift,which
alone can. So that thefe beftial Sacrifices both before and
under the Law^, were to the Sacrifice of Chrift as the Ta-
bernacle to the Temple. God Almighty was pleafed to
accept them as expiatory till fuch Time as that great Sacri-
fice was finillied. But as when the Temple was built, the
Tabernacle was deftroy'd : So after the Suffering of Chrift,
thefe ritual Sacrifices were at an End. Nay, wc have ra-
ther great Reafon to adore the infinite Mercy of God*
than to tax him with Severity, for accepting of fuch vi-
carious Sufferings; for he might in Juflice have demanded
the perfonal Suffering of the Offender himfelf, his Life
for every Tranfgreffion , which would foon have put aii
End to the Race of finful Mankind. To have forgiven
all without any Satisfadion, would have been, in Effedi :
to have given an uncontrollable Licenfe to Sin ; and to
have puniilied to the utmofl Rigor, would have left no
Room for Men to adore his Mercy : But by this admi-

* Diicourie concerning natural and revealed Religion^ f. too.


Part II. W/i? ^Theist. 31^

rable Mixture of Juftice and Compaffion, his own Ho-
nour is preferved, and Men*s Sins are pardoned.

Neither can I affent to your Opinion, that Sacrifices ^^^ oyigi?t
are the pure Invention of Men ; for it is highly probable ^f^'^^^'^fi^^^
that they were at firft inftituted by God Almighty, and ZTkIT^^
Diredions for the Performance of thefe facrificial Rites htions,
given to the Firft of Mankind, and fo have been handed
down to the feveral Branches of their Pofterity ever fince.
Indeed Grotim and fome others are of Opinion, that Sa-
crifices owe their Original to the Gratitude of Mankind,
who in Thanks to God were willing to return back to
God fome Part of the good Things they did enjoy; and
that before the Flood there was no Sacrifice offer'd of
Animal Creatures. But granting, that Gratitude gave
Origin to Euchariftical Sacrifices, we are as much at a
Lofs to find a Reafon for the Piacular, unlefs we allow
they came by the Inftitution of God. Neither is his
Reafon convincing, by which he would prove that no
Beaft was facrificed till after the Deluge ; vi^» becaufe
Sacrifices are never but of fuch Things whereof Men ufed
to eat : Now there being no Fleib eat before the Deluge,
that Indulgence being afterwards granted to Noah^ he con-
cludes, that no Flejfh was facrificed. But this Argument
is but weak. For it is very much to be doubted whether
the Antediluvians did not eat Fleili ; and Bochartm con-
tends ftrongly that the Grant to JSFoah^ Gen. ix. was not
larger than what was afforded to Adam^ Gen, i. And be-
ilides, in piacular Sacrifices in many Nations, they never
ftood upon the Edibility of the Sacrifice ; but oftentimes
facrificed Horfes or Men. Befides, it is probable that
thefe expiatory Sacrifices of Blood commenced from the
firft Fall of Mankind, to be the v^vW-^^ya^ or vicarious
Puniftimeiits for the Lives of Adam's Oif-fpring then
forfeited. And then there is fome Reafon for their In-
ftitution at that Time; but there is none that I know, for
their being fet up in the Time o^ Noah. And when the
Scripture fays exprefly that Abel offered of the FirfiUngi
of his Flockji and the Fat thereof; methinks it is a jejune
Interpretation, to fay he Offered only Lmam & lacpin^
. gtiiJJimHmj ,

510 A Conference

gmjjimum^ Wooll and very fat Milk (i.C) Cream^ I
am therefore perfuaded, and I think upon good Ground^
that a Model of facrificial Rites, or at leaft a Command
in general of piacular Sacrifices was given to our firfl: Pa-^
rents, and by them tranfmitted down to all their Pofterity.
For otherways it is impoffiblc to give a fatisfadlory Ac-
count why we fhould meet with the fame in all Ages, in
all Countries from the Eafl to the Wefl-Indiesy from Afnca
to Scythia^ and there find Men pradifing the fame piacular
Rites almofl in an uniform Manner. If their Sacrifices
were owing to the Gratitude or Reafoning of the diffe-
rent Inhabitants, they would be as widely diiferent as
their Cuftoms and Manners are ; but when we find (o
many diiferent People that have no Intercourfe with one
another, doing exaAly the fame Things as if it were by
Confederacy, killing the Sacrifice, burning the Flefh, and
that too upon an Altar, by the Miniftry of a Prieft, and
v/ith an Opinion that their Sins are difcharged by that vi-
carious Punifhment of the devoted Animal, with many
other like Circumftances ; this mufi: needs prove, that they
could not all jump upon thefe Things by Chance, but
had them delivered down to them by fome ancient Pre-
deceffor, who was Progenitor to them all.

And as I proved to you before by this Argument ^i
that the Americans did proceed from the Europeam ; fo I
think it is as plain that they did all proceed from Adami
from whom the general Syflem of facrificial Rites has
been propagated to them after the Succeilioii of fo many
Ages. And here we may fix our Foot, and fettle th6
Commencement of all moral and ritual Religion , and
whatfoever we find of them both, though ever {o vitia-
ted in the different Parts of the World, efteeming them
to be but corrupted Streams of the ancient Revelation af-
forded to our firft Father : And as for thofe Texts of
Scripture which you alledge, they do by no Means un-
dervalue or cafl any Refle&ion upon God's ritual Laws
and Sacrifices. But the Defign of them is to ihew, that

J Conf. Part L p. 1/4,


Part II. "wkh ^Theist. 511

.Men lliould not place their Obedience only in the ritual
Parts of Religion, whilft they neglecl the more fubftantial
Duties of Morality ,* and this is a Truth which every ho-
neft Chriftian, as well as youDeifts, thinks himfelf bound
to believe.

Phil. I confefs, what you fay does not altogether want
fome Probability. But ftill methinks thefe vicarious Pu-
nifhments feem but infignificant Trifles in Matters of Re-
ligion, becaufe they do not make Men the better or the
more innocents Indeed if thefe Expiations either in them-
felves, or as they had Relation to the Death of Chrift,
did perfedly take away Sins, then there is fomething in
what you faid : but they only leave the Man as they found
him, unlefs true Repentance did make him better : So that
the Mediatorlhip without Repentance fignifies nothing
at all ; and Repentance where they know nothing of this
Mediatorfhip, muft, by all charitable Men, be allowed to
be valid ; and therefore what Need of the Mediatorfhip
or Satisfadion at all ? Repentance after finning is all that
Man can do, or God can require. 'Tis true, the Debt
we owe to God Almighty by finning is infinite, and what
then ; * Iff owe a Million^ and can pay but a thoufand Pounds j
my Creditor can have but alL 'Tps trne^ my Body is thenfub^
je5i to Imprifenment) that is to the farther Extent of the Law\
but then that Laiv is void of Mercy, So that when I have
done my^All, that is, repented; what Need is there of Ex-
piation, when God's Mercy will acquit me, as having paid
what I was able \

Cred. It is true, that God's Mercy is that bleffed At- God's Ho-
tribute to which the Pardon of all our Sins is owing, and ^^'-^^ ^^ ^*
upon which the Mediatorfhip is founded. This is that /^"'^'^f J^jl
which gave Life to the Stipulation between Chrift and the Mator^ipi
Father, that He fhould die for the Sins of the whole
World, in which all-fufficient Sacrifice all other Expiati-
ons received their Force and Energy. And it's likewife
true, that after Sin committed. Repentance and Amend-
tnent is all we can do on our Parts. But then farther, we

* Oracles of Reafbn, />. 207.

Y Chriftiaiip

3^a A Conference

Chriftlans, fay that the Medic\torlhip muft do fomething
likewife on God's Part as well as ours. By Sin God's
Honour is violated, and our Lives are forfeited ; now both
thefe are to be remedied by the Efficacy of the Mediator.
Indeed Mercy for God to Pardon, and Repentance for us
to amend, is all that is neceffary for our Security. But
then on the other Side, why muft there be no Satisfaftion
given for the injured Honour of God ? God may be as
merciful to the World as he pleafes, but ftill he muft be
juft to his own Dignity ; for otherways he would deveft
himfelf of the Government of the World, and leave im-
pudent Sinners to fin without Controll. And therefore we
fay, that therein lies the admirable Wifdom of the Media-
torlhip, that both Parties are thereby fatisfied ; God has the
Security of his Honour, and Man of his Salvation.

Phil. But, Credenms^ this Satisfadion, as you call it,
in the Mediatoriliip, is a Bufinefs which lies fo crofs in
my Brains, and is pregnant with fuch a Number of Ab-
furdities, that I can never away with it. And therefore
you fee, that not only we, but your Brother Chriftians
the Socmians, are fo aware of the Grofsnefs of this
Dodrine, that they are unanimoufly agreed upon it, to
explode it ; as giving Men fuch a barbarous Notion of
the Deity, as is incorififtent with the Excellency of his
Nature. For Satisfadion does fuppofe an angry revenge-
ful Temper, which delires to be glutted with the Punilh-
ment of the offending Party ; which when that is brought
about, becomes tame, good-natur'd , and reconcileable.
But this is fuch a pitiful Imbecillity, even in human Na-
ture, as wife Men are afhamed of; and therefore to attri-
bute this to the infinite Purity and Wifdom of God, is
no lefs, I think, than the moft daring Blafphemy. But
fuppofing there was fuch an angry vindidive Nature in
the Deity; yet methinks even then he fhould rather choofe
to take Revenge upon every one for their own Demerits,
which would be agreeable to Juftice ; and not make one
innocent Perfon, 'vU, Jefus Chrift, who had no Sin, as
you fuppofe, to fuffer for the Sins of all other wicked
Men ; and to lay the deferved Sufferings of fo many out-

5 " rageous

Part il. "With ^Theist. 323

rageous Oifenders upon the Back of the mofl: pious and
fpotlefs Man, that, by your Account, ever came into the
World. But when we farther confider, that this inno-
cent Perfon is owned by you to be the Son of God, and
his only Son too, and muft neverthelefs be facrificcd to
appeafe this vindidive Nature of God, before he could be
reconciled to the World : This is fuch a horrid Repre-
fentation of the beft of Beings, as fhocks human Nature
to confider; and far out-does all the Stories oi Scjthian Sa-
crifices, and Bujtriss Altars. And yet greater Monfters
of Abfurdities do appear, when we confider. That this
fuffering Perfon was the fupreme God himfelf, who by
this Scheme is fuppofed to have took upon him all the In-
firmities of an human Body, was hungry and thirfty, and
at laft was crucified, and died. Now this does imply a
fort of a Paffibility in the Deity, which of all Hetero-
doxies is the mod grofs and abfurd.

Cred, I have not Time now to enter with you into the ^"^^^ "
nice Difputes of the Socman Controverfy upon this Sub- ^^^^i J^.
jed. But however, I do not fee any Thing in the gene-

Online LibraryWilliam NichollsA Conference with a Theist : containing an answer to all the most usual objections of the infidels against the Christian religion ... (Volume 1) → online text (page 29 of 47)