What was said of natural Israel, may, with equal propriety, be said of Spiritual Israel, or the Church of Christ:“And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city,” Isaiah i. 8. A besieged city supposes besiegers, and the Church of Christ has ever been besieged with the most deadly enemies, whose aim has ever been to effect her ruin. But, as an instrumental protection, God has set watchmen upon her walls who are commanded not to hold their peace day nor night. She being thus compared to a besieged city, it is well for watchmen to remember that there are more than one gate or avenue thro’ which the enemy may seek to enter, and therefore, should not direct all their attention to one point; but should, like the beast in Rev. i. 12, be full of eyes before and behind. But to the point: is there not a danger, that, while we are called to guard against the popular errors of the day, that others may creep in equally at variance with the vitals of Truth. There is, among some who call themselves Old School Baptists, a sentiment that appears to me essentially erroneous, as it relates to the human nature of Christ. Now, to me, it appears as necessary to constitute him a complete Saviour, that he should be completely man, as that he should be verily God. And to constitute him man, is a requisite that he should possess both soul and body, for I cannot for my life conceive a perfect man without both; and that he possessed both is evident from the word of truth.“Handle me and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.” Luke xxiv. 39. Here it is evident that he had a body composed of flesh and bones; but a body without a soul would make a very incomplete man; the rational soul being that by which man is distinguished from irrational creatures. That Christ had a human soul, is as evident from the Scriptures as that he had a body. We find him subject to the various affections of the soul, such as Grief, Mark iii. 5; Sympathy, John xi. 35 – Jesus wept. But he was heard to declare that his soul was exceeding sorrowful, unto death, Mark xiv. 34. As, therefore, a soul and body are necessary to constitute a complete man, and as Christ evidently possessed both, he was verily man. And to me, as above stated, it is as necessary that he should be such, to constitute him a complete man, and as Christ evidently possessed both, he was verily man. And to me, as above stated, it is as necessary that he should be such, to constitute him a complete Saviour, as that he should be possessed of complete divinity; and if so, then to deny the one is as erroneous as to deny the other.
The doctrine of the Substitution of Christ, is fully proven in the word of God, both from the design of the offerings under the Law, as well as from declarations in the New Testament. Not only do we find this doctrine proven in the scriptures, but its infinite importance as a fundamental truth is apparent to every judicious christian. Divest the death of Christ of the idea of substitution, and I see no ground on which a poor Law-condemned sinner can rest his hope of eternal life – at least there is none for me; for if Christ was not a substitute, and his death vicarious, (which could not have been the case were he not) there could be no advantage resulting from it to a sinner. Sin, we are informed, is the transgression of the Law; but all have sinned, therefore, all are transgressors. And the Law, like its author, is inflexible in its nature, and peremptory in its demands, and nothing short of a perfect obedience to its requirements will answer those demands. But by whom are those demands answered? not by the sinner, this is impossible; for by the deeds of the Law shall no flesh living be justified. Not by the obedience of Christ, unless he acted as a substitute; for there is no other way in which the obedience due by one can be rendered by another, but upon the principle of substitution. Thus, according to a provision in our military code, the man who is drafted may be exempt from actual service by a substitute, so that the service rendered by the substitute is accepted, and the law is as completely answered for the principal as though he had rendered the service in his own proper person. And so the demands of the law against the sinning church are as completely fulfilled by her, in her substitute, as if she had obeyed it in her own person. But the figure, though it affords some illustration of the doctrine of substitution., yet falls far short of illustrating all the particulars connected with the substitution. Of Christ; and one is, that the individual drafted must find his own substitute, but not so in the case before us. Had we been left to find a substitute, it never would have been obtained; but God, in the exercise of his own sovereign goodness and mercy, provided one himself, and that without consulting us; yea, long before the transgression was committed; and in so doing has provided one who, in every particular, answered the all-important purpose.
Another very important principle of Substitution, is, that the obedience should be rendered in the same nature in which the transgression was committed. The Apostle brings this idea to view in Heb. ii. 16: For verily he took not on him the nature of Angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Here the Apostle evidently intends to convey the idea that he did not design the salvation of Angels, or he would have assumed their nature; but that his object was the redemption of the seed of Abraham, that is, the Elect; For if ye are Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. As, therefore, the object of Christ was to save the seed of Abraham, to accomplish this end he took upon him their nature.“Wherefore, it behoved him to be made in all things like unto his brethren.” Behoved, that is, it was necessary; and why? That he might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the people. Not only was it requisite that he should partake of their nature, that from a fellow feeling he might be a sympathizing High Priest, and that from a oneness of interest; (for I and my beloved are one.) He might be a faithful one; but that on the principle of substitution., he might be qualified to make reconciliation for the people; i.e., the seed of Abraham. And how was that reconciliation made? It was by his death; For when we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his son, Rev. v. 10. But how by his death? Because his death was vicarious; but how his death could be vicarious, how how his death could be received as an atonement for sinners of the human race, without he himself was of that nature, is a mystery which I cannot solve. Indeed it would involve the whole system of Redemption in an impenetrable cloud, and leave me in hopeless despair. I can here fully adopt the language of Dr. Watts, because it conveys an idea in perfect accordance with my views of the Scripture and my own experience:
“Till God in human flesh I see,
No comfort can I find,
The Holy, Just, and sacred Three,
Are terrors to my mind.”
It is positively said that he was made under the law to redeem them that were under the law. What law? The law given on Mount Sinai. Think not that I am come to destroy the law and the prophets; I am not come to destroy but to fulfill, Mat. v. 17. But to whom was the law given? To mankind and no other species of creation; and if he was not really and truly man, according to the most obvious conclusion, he could not be made under it. As, therefore, the law was given exclusively to man, and as Christ was made under it, it follows of course that he but was really man.
I must conclude by observing that the doctrine of the human nature of Christ is, to me, a doctrine full of comfort and encouragement. When for instance, I look unto myself, I see nothing but sin; and when, on the other hand, I am led to contemplate God in his infinitely holy and just perfections, the contrast is so immensely great that I am ready to despair of ever standing with acceptance in his awful presence; but when, by faith, I can view in the presence of that holy and dreadful God, an intercessor in my own nature and consequently touched with the feeling of my infirmities, and presenting a plea in my behalf founded on his vicarious sufferings, the barrier is removed and I can hope for an acceptance in the presence of that God, who, when viewed through any other medium, is to me a consuming fire.
Yours, as ever in a complete and perfect Jesus.
Signs of the Times
Volume 4, No. 18.
August 26, 1836