Every sacrifice was assumed to be vitally connected with the spirit of the worshipper. Unless the heart accompanied the sacrifice God rejected the gift (Isaiah 1:11; Isaiah 1:13). Corban included all that was given to the Lord's service, whether firstfruits, tithes (Leviticus 2:12; Leviticus 27:30), and gifts, for maintaining the priests and endowing the sanctuary (Numbers 7:3; Numbers 31:50), or offerings for the altar. The latter were:
(1) burnt offerings,
(2) peace offerings,
(3) sin offerings.
(1) meat and drink offerings for the altar outside,
(2) incense and meat offerings for the holy place within.
Besides there were the peculiar offerings, the Passover lamb, the scape-goat, and the red heifer; also the chagigah peace offering during the Passover. (See PASSOVER.) The public sacrifice as the morning and evening lamb, was at the cost of the nation. The private sacrifice was offered by the individual, either by the ordinance of the law or by voluntary gift. Zebach is the general term for "a slaughtered animal", as distinguished from minchah, "gift," a vegetable offering, our "meat (i.e. food) offering." 'Owlah is the "burnt offering", that which ascends (from 'alah) or "is burnt"; also kaleel, "whole," it all being consumed on the altar; "whole burnt sacrifice." Shelem is the "peace offering". Todah the "thank offering". Chattath ("sin and punishment") the "sin offering". 'Asham, "trespass offering", accompanied by pecuniary fine or forfeit, because of injury done to some one (it might be to the Lord Himself) in respect to property. The burnt offering was wholly burnt upon the altar; the sin offering was in part burnt upon the altar, in part given to the priests, or burnt outside the camp. The peace offering was shared between the altar, the priests, and the sacrificer.
The five animals in Abraham's sacrifice of the covenant (Genesis 15:9) are the five alone named in the law for sacrifice: the ox, sheep, goat, dove, and pigeon. They fulfilled the three legal conditions: (1) they were clean; (2) used for food; (3) part of the home property of the sacrificers. They must be without spot or blemish; but a disproportioned victim was allowed in a free will peace offering (Leviticus 7:16-17; Leviticus 22:23). The age was from a week to three years old; Judges 6:25 is exceptional. The sacrificer (the offerer generally, but in public sacrifice the priests or Levites) slew the victim at the N. side of the altar. The priest or his assistant held a bowl under the cut throat to receive the blood. The sacrificial meal was peculiar to the peace offering. The priest sprinkled the blood of the burnt offering, the peace offering, and the trespass offering "round about upon the altar."
But in the sin offering, for one of the common people or a ruler, he took of the blood with his finger and put it upon the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and poured out what blood remained at the bottom of the altar; in the sin offering for the congregation and for the high priest he brought some of the blood into the sanctuary and sprinkled it seven times before the veil, and put some on the horns of the altar of incense (Leviticus 4:3; Leviticus 4:6; Leviticus 4:25; Leviticus 4:30). The "sprinkling" (hizah) of the blood of the sin offering with the finger or hyssop is distinct from the "casting abroad" (as the Hebrew zarak expresses) with the bowl in which the victim's blood was received as it flowed. The Mishna says the temple altar was furnished with two holes at the S.W. corner, through which the blood made its way down to Kedron. The Hebrew for burning (hiktir) on the altar means to send up or make to ascend in smoke, rather than to consume (Leviticus 1:9). The offering was one of sweet smelling savour sent up in flame to Jehovah, not merely consumed.
The fat burned on the altar was mainly "sweet fat" or suet, cheleb (Exodus 29:13; Exodus 29:22; Leviticus 3:4; Leviticus 3:10; Leviticus 3:15; Leviticus 4:9; Leviticus 7:4), distinct from mishman or shameen (Numbers 12:20). The cheleb, as the blood, was not to be eaten (Leviticus 3:17); the other fat might be eaten (Nehemiah 8:10). A different word, peder, denotes the fat of the burnt offering, not exclusively selected for the altar as the cheleb of the other sacrifices (Leviticus 1:8; Leviticus 1:12; Leviticus 8:20). The significance of its being offered to Jehovah was that it is the source of nutriment of which the animal economy avails itself on emergency, so that in emaciation or atrophy it is the first substance that disappears; its development in the animal is a mark of perfection. The shoulder belonging to the officiating priest was "heaved," the breast for the priests in general was "waved" before Jehovah.
The wave offering (tenuphah) was moved to and fro repeatedly; applied to the gold and bronze, also to the Levites, dedicated to Jehovah. The heave offering (terumah) was lifted upward once; applied to all the gifts for the construction of the tabernacle. Abel offered "a more excellent sacrifice than Cain" because in "faith" (Hebrews 11:4). Now faith must have some revelation from God on which to rest. The revelation was doubtless God's command to sacrifice animals ("the firstlings of the flock") in token of man's forfeiture of life by sin, and a type of the promised Bruiser of the serpent's head (Genesis 3:15), Himself to be bruised as the one sacrifice. This command is implied in God's having made coats of skins for Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:21); for these must have been taken from animals slain in sacrifice (for it was not for food they were slain, animal food not being permitted until after the flood; nor for clothing, as clothes might have been made of the fleeces, without the needless cruelty of killing the animal).
A coat of skin put on Adam from a sacrificed animal typified the covering or atonement (kaphar) resulting from Christ's sacrifice ("atone" means to cover). Wycliffe translated Hebrews 11:4 "a much more sacrifice," one which partook more largely of the true virtue of sacrifice (Magee). It was not intrinsic merit in "the firstling of the flock" above "the fruit of the ground." It was God's appointment that gave it all its excellency; if it had not been so it would have been presumptuous will worship (Colossians 2:23) and taking of a life which man had no right over before the flood (Genesis 9:2-4). Fire was God's mode of "accepting" ("turn to ashes" margin Psalm 20:3) a burnt offering. Cain in unbelieving self righteousness presented merely thank offering, not like Abel feeling his need of the propitiatory sacrifice appointed for sin. God "had respect (first) unto Abel, and (then) to his offering" (Genesis 4:4). Our works are not accepted by God, until our persons have been so, through faith in His work of grace.
The general prevalence of animal sacrifice among the pagan with the idea of expiation, the victim's blood and death removing guilt and appeasing divine wrath, is evidently a relic from primitive revelation preserved by tradition, though often encrusted over with superstitions. The earliest offering recorded as formally commanded by Jehovah, and of the five animals prescribed, is that of Abraham (Genesis 15:9-17). The intended sacrifice of Isaac and substitution of a ram vividly represented the one only true sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, in substitution for us (Genesis 22). (See ISAAC.) Jacob's sacrifices at Mizpeh when parting with Laban, and at Beersheba when leaving the land of promise, were peace offerings (Genesis 31:54; Genesis 46:1). That sacrifice was known to Israel in Egypt appears from Moses alleging as a reason for taking them out of Egypt that they might hold a feast and sacrifice to Jehovah (Exodus 3:18; Exodus 5:1; Exodus 5:3; Exodus 5:8; Exodus 5:17).
Jethro's offering burnt offerings and peace offerings when he met Israel shows that sacrifice was common to the two great branches of the Semitic stock (Exodus 18:12). Balaam's sacrifices were burnt offerings (Numbers 23:2-3; Numbers 23:6; Numbers 23:15); Job's were also (Job 1:5; Job 42:7-8). Thus the oldest sacrifices were burnt offerings. The fat is referred to, not the blood. The peace offering is later, answering to a more advanced development of social life. Moses' order of the kinds of sacrifices in Leviticus answers to this historical succession. Therefore, the radical idea of sacrifice is in the burnt offering; figuring THE ASCENT of the reconciled, and accepted creature to Jehovah: "'olah" (Leviticus 1:9): his self-sacrificing surrender wholly of body, soul, and spirit to Jehovah. In the sacrifice of Job (Job 1:5; Job 42:7-8; Leviticus 1:4) atonement is connected with the burnt offerings, mediation for the guilty resting on the sacrifice. The blood symbolized the life of the offerer represented by the victim's blood, the material vehicle of life. In contrast with flesh and bones it represents the immaterial principle which survives death (Leviticus 17:11).
The Passover lamb's sprinkled blood represented its life substituted for the people's life, which therefore escaped (Exodus 12:7; Exodus 12:22-23). The first mention of throwing the blood upon the altar (the established mode afterward in the burnt offerings, peace offerings, and trespass offering, but not the sin offering) was when Moses "threw (so Hebrew) half of the blood on the altar" (Exodus 24:4-8), and after reading the covenant, and after that the people assented, he took the blood in the basins and "threw it on them, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words" (Hebrews 9:19-20; Hebrews 13:20).
In the sin offering, on the contrary, part of the blood was offered to Jehovah by being put on the horns of the altar, and on certain occasions by being sprinkled within the tabernacle, while the rest was poured at the altar base (Leviticus 4:6-7; Leviticus 4:17-18; Leviticus 4:25, etc.; Leviticus 16:18, etc.). In Moses' consecration of the people the blood represented their collective life consecrated to Jehovah; so in the priests' consecration with the ram's blood, and in the blood thrown on their persons, the consecrated life was given back to them to be devoted to Jehovah's service. The Mosaic law accords remarkably with modern research: "the blood is the fountain of life, the first to live, the last to die, the primary seat of the animal soul; it lives, and is nourished of itself and by no other part of the human body" (Harvey); "all other parts of the frame are formed and nourished by it" (John Hunter).
The sin offering was first introduced by the law, the province of which is to awaken in man the consciousness of sin. Every sacrifice was Based on atonement, and at the same time included the idea of the burnt offering, a portion ascending up to Jehovah in the flame (Leviticus 1:4). The order of the law was: (1) the sin offering, (2) the burnt offering, (3) the peace offering (Leviticus 8:14-22; Leviticus 9:8-22; Leviticus 12:8; Leviticus 14:19-20). So the spiritual order; the sinner needs
(1) atonement expressed in the sin offering; then
(2) he could in the burnt offering offer himself accepted as a sweet savour (Psalm 51:19) ascending to God; in virtue of this acceptanc
(3) he enjoyed communion with Jehovah and with God's people in the peace offering.
The burnt offering came before the sin offering in the princes' offerings in dedicating the altar and in reconsecrating the Nazarite, where personal holiness was subordinate to the idea of national consecration (Numbers 6:14; Numbers 7:15, etc.; Ezekiel 45:17). The additions to sacrificial ritual made by the law were the one altar and the national priesthood and the details peculiar to the sin offering and the trespass offering. The law showed that sin must be removed before the sinner can be accepted. Bringing his victim to the tabernacle door he presented it before the Lord, and slew and cut it in pieces. Then his need of a mediator appeared in the priest's taking the victim from the worshipper, sprinkling of the blood within the tabernacle, and putting some upon the horns (the highest part toward heaven) of the altar, also placing in the altar fire some of the fat a "sweet savour" to Jehovah (Leviticus 4:31). Thus the priest "made atonement for him."
Except the parts assigned to the altar, the whole flesh of the sin offering (as being "most holy," i.e. by its blood consecrated for making atonement) was eaten by the priests only within the sacred precincts (Leviticus 6:25-30; Leviticus 17: 11). (Note that Hebrew chay, Greek zoee, means life opposed to death. Nephesh, psuchee (Greek), anima (Latin), is the soul distinguished from the body, the life in man or beast: Genesis 2:7. Ruach, pneuma (Greek), is the spirit opposed to the flesh: Romans 8:4-6; Galatians 5:17; 1 Peter 3:18; distinguished from "the life of the flesh," it is man's highest part, holding communion with God. See Matthew 6:25; Matthew 10:28; Matthew 10:39; Matthew 16:25-26; Mark 8:35; Luke 12:22-23; 1 Corinthians 15:44; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 4:12.)
The offerer's sin, and the victim's freedom from blemish, and the priest's atoning for him, all pointed to the spotless Saviour, at once the perfect Victim and Priest, so entering into God's presence for us as a sweet savour (Leviticus 4:20; Leviticus 4:26; Leviticus 5:6; Leviticus 6:7; Leviticus 12:8; Hebrews 10:19-21; Ephesians 5:2). The offering of innocent animals in substitution for man is no arbitrary invention; it is founded on man's close connection with animals. He could not offer his own forfeited life to divine justice, but in the life of the innocent fellow creature was found a suitable typical representative. Jesus Himself is called "the Lamb of God," "the Firstborn of every creature." The propitiatory, dedicatory, and eucharistic elements combine to give the perfect idea of sacrifice. Anyone divorced from the other two would convey a wrong idea. The propitiatory alone would give the idea of atonement without consequent repentance, faith, and thankful loving obedience.
Dedication alone would ignore God's holy justice, between which and our sin there must be an insuperable barrier without atonement. Thanksgiving alone would make gifts the essence of God's service, as the pagan bribe their gods by vows and offerings. The prophets take for granted sacrificial propitiation, and add that self-dedicating obedience which the Bunt offering taught is what the worshippers must spiritually aim at, else their sacrifice is vain (1 Samuel 15:22; Isaiah 1:10-20; Jeremiah 7:22-23; Ezekiel 20:39-44; Hosea 6:6; Amos 5:21-27; Micah 6:6-8; Psalm 40:8-11; Psalm 50:13-14; Psalm 51:16-17).
The sacrifice had no intrinsic efficacy, and could never "make him that did the service perfect as pertaining to the conscience" (Hebrews 9:9; Hebrews 10:1; Hebrews 10:11); but they vividly typified "Christ who through the eternal Spirit offering Himself without spot to God purges the conscience front dead works to serve the living God" (Hebrews 9:14); so that we can "draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience" (Hebrews 10:22). Their need of repetition implies their intrinsic incompleteness (Hebrews 10:1-3); also "bulls" and "goats" are so much inferior to man that "it is not possible their blood could take away sins" (Hebrews 10:4). Christ's atonement was made and accepted in God's foreordaining before the foundation of the world (1 Peter 1:20; Revelation 13:8), so that penitent and believing offerers of sacrifices in the Old Testament were accepted on the ground of it.
Their victims were arbitrary and inadequate representatives of the offerer; but He is one with man the offerer, and one with God the Accepter of the sacrifice, so our true and only mediating Priest, representative Offerer, and Victim (Hebrews 5:1-4), ordained by God with an oath a High Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek, "tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin," yet as Son of God above all creatures, ever living to intercede for us, opening once for all access into the holiest by a new and living way (not by dead sacrifce: Hebrews 10:19-22; Hebrews 4:14-16). His vicarious sacrifice is asserted (Isaiah 53:6), "the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all"; (Isaiah 53:12) "He bore the sin of many." Matthew 20:28, "a ransom (lutron, apolutroosis; Romans 3:25; 1 Corinthians 1:30) for (anti, substituted for) many."
He is the Atonement for sinners as such, still enemies to God (Romans 5:6-8); the Propitiation (hilasmos, hilasteerion; Romans 3:24; 1 John 2:2), changing God's relation to man from estrangement to union from wrath to love (Isaiah 12:1-2) only remember it was God's love that first provided this sacrifice to make scope for love being harmonized with His unchangeable hatred of sin. (Compare Hebrews 9:7-12 on the typical sin offering on the day of atonement; the inauguration of the Mosaic covenant, Hebrews 9:13-23; the Passover, 1 Corinthians 5:7; the burning of the public or priestly sin offerings without the camp, Hebrews 13:10-13; the altar of sacrifice typifying His passion, which "we have" as a present and us" though He "knew no sin," 2 Corinthians 5:21). His self-dedicating obedience, answering to the burnt offering, is our pattern next after having appropriated the Atonement (Hebrews 2:10; Hebrews 5:7-9; Hebrews 10:7-9).
As He removed our guilt by His death, so by His obedience He fulfills all which the first Adam left undone (Romans 5:19, though His "obedience" in this verse includes His atoning death; Philemon 2:8; John 10:18). Our obedience is as necessary a complement of our faith in His atonement as the burnt offering was of the sin offering and Christ's self dedicating obedience was of His atoning sacrifice (Romans 6:6; Romans 12:1; Galatians 2:20; 2 Corinthians 1:5; Colossians 1:24; 1 John 3:16; 2 Timothy 4:6; Philemon 2:17). Christ's sin offering was made once for all, rending the veil between man and heaven; our continual burnt offering is accepted now through the mediation of our ever living Intercessor within the veil; the incense of tits merits makes our prayers a sweet savour unto God (Revelation 8:4; Hebrews 9:24-28; Hebrews 4:14-16; Hebrews 6:19-20; Hebrews 7:25).
Our peace offerings are sacrifices of praise, almsgiving, and love (Philemon 4:18; Hebrews 13:15-16). Atonement by Christ's sacrifice as substitute for the penalty of God's broken law was necessary in the interests of God's moral government of the universe, to show His displeasure against sin. "It is the blood that maketh atonement by means of (Hebrew) the soul" (Leviticus 17:11). The ceremonies of sacrifice were:
(1) the victim's presentation at the altar;
(2) the laying on of hands, signifying consecration to death (Leviticus 24:14);
(3) slaughtering, being the completion of the penal death, whereby the blood became the medium of expiation;
(4) the sprinkling of the blood against the altar, completing the expiation;
(5) the burning of the flesh;
(6) the sacrificial meal at the sanctuary.
That sacrifices were offered for moral as well as for ceremonial transgressions appears in Leviticus 6:2-7; Leviticus 19:20; Leviticus 19:22. The vicarious nature of sacrifice appears in Leviticus 1:4; Leviticus 16:21-22; Isaiah 53:4-6; Isaiah 53:8;Isaiah 53:10-12. Hebrew nasa' (compare Leviticus 5:1; Leviticus 5:17; Leviticus 17:16; Leviticus 20:19-20; Leviticus 24:15; Leviticus 10:17) implies He not only entered into the fellowship of our sufferings, but took upon Himself the sufferings which we had to bear in order to take them away. Matthew 8:17; He bore their punishment and atoned for them. So more explicitly cabal (compare 1 Peter 2:25).
In Matthew 26:28 Christ declares His blood not merely ratifies the new testament or covenant, but was "shed for many for the remission of sins," referring back to the Old Testament (Exodus 24:5-8; Hebrews 9:18-21). John the Baptist calls Him "the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). The flocks passing the ford where John baptized, on their way to Jerusalem; suggested the image the Lamb led to the "slaughter," not merely the shearing (Isaiah 53:7). The Passover was near (John 2:13); Christ combined the Passover lamb, the atonement scape-goat (Leviticus 16:21), and the morning and evening sacrifice of a lamb. The time of John's pointing to the Lamb of God was about "the tenth hour," just after the evening sacrifice (John 1:39; Revelation 5:8-12), a coincidence connecting Him with the typical daily sacrifice. The Passover was sacrificial: for it is called
(1) qorban (Numbers 9:7), an offering to Jehovah, and
(2) zebach, the special designation of a bloody sacrifice. (See PASSOVER.)
(3) Philo and Josephus confirm Mark 14:12 margin and 1 Corinthians 5:7, that it is a sacrifice.
(4) It had the notes of a sacrifice; the blood was poured out and sprinkled on the altar (Exodus 23:18; Exodus 34:25; 2 Chronicles 30:15; 2 Chronicles 35:11.
(5) The Mishna and Karaite Jews, who reject all tradition not founded on Scripture, say the fat and entrails were burnt on the altar.
(6) Priests offered it at Hezekiah's Passover.
Other leading passages representing Christ's death as a sacrifice are 1 Corinthians 15:3; Hebrews 1:3 (Greek "made purgation of (our) sins"); Hebrews 9:12-13; Hebrews 9:14-28; Hebrews 10:10; Hebrews 10:12; Hebrews 10:18; 1 Peter 1:18-20, "not redeemed with silver but ... lamb," etc., i.e. not with the daily offered lamb purchased with the half-shekel soul-redemption money of every Israelite (Exodus 30:12-16), but, etc. As "Christ offered Himself to God" He was a real priest, having "somewhat to offer" (Hebrews 8:3); but if He had only a figurative sacrifice to offer He would have no superiority to the Aaronic priests (Revelation 1:5; Revelation 1:8-9; Revelation 1:12). The Aaronic sacrifices were allusions to Christ's one atonement, not His to them. The epistle to the Hebrew makes the legal sacrifices to have no inherent efficacy, but Christ's sacrifice on the contrary to be intrinsically efficacious. The analogy between the Aaronic sacrifices and Christ's does not mean that both are empty figures, or that they exactly resemble one another, but that they have similarity in their relations.
(1) Sacrifice restored an Israelite to his status in the theocracy, forfeited by sin; it was his public confession of guilt, satisfaction of the law, and means of removing legal disability, i.e. "sanctifying to the purifying of the flesh."
(2) Offering sacrifice in penitence and faith he received atonement or reconciliation with God, on the ground of the foreordained sacrifice of Christ.
This second effect must have pertained to John's sacrifice who had no status in the Hebrew theocracy to fall from or be restored to. Christ's death was not only a sacrifice for sin, but a substitution, propitiation, and ransom to God for us: Matthew 20:28 (anti); Mark 10:45; Ephesians 1:7; 1 Timothy 2:6; 1 Corinthians 7:23; Galatians 3:13; 2 Peter 2:1. There was a claim against man, Christ's death met that claim, therefore we are freed froth it. God Himself provided the ransom (John 3:16; 2 Corinthians 5:19), so that He is not only "just" but also "the justifier of him that believes in Jesus" (Romans 3:26). Christ's work has that excellency which God's unerring justice has seen to be an actual doing of that which was requisite to compensate for the injury perpetrated, and to restore the moral harmony which had been violated; so it is rightly called a "satisfaction" (Pye Smith), though the term is not in Scripture.
Christ did not need to undergo the very penalty we incurred, namely, eternal death, but such a penalty as, taking into account Who and what He was, He on our behalf must suffer. The fact of God's appointment of Him as our atonement guarantees that His death is an amply sufficient satisfaction. There was a real and intrinsic worthiness in Jesus' propitiation which was the reason of the divine appointment and justifies it. We cannot define the value of Christ's death, nor its exact mode of satisfying divine justice, but we know it was "precious blood" in God's sight, and therefore appointed as the propitiation adequate to atone for our sin (1 Peter 1:19; 1 Corinthians 6:20; Romans 8:32; Hebrews 9:14). God's just wrath against sin is as real as His love to us (Psalm 7:11; John 3:36). The sacrificial atonement or reconciliation covers sin out of God's sight, so that wrath is removed, and He "who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity" sees us in Christ at peace with Him (Isaiah 12:1-3; Psalm 32:1; Romans 3:24-25). (See ATONEMENT; RECONCILIATION; PROPITIATION.)
Christ's sacrifice did not make God placable, but was God's own appointed means through which to bestow mercy (Hebrews 2:17; 1 John 1:7; 1 John 2:2; 1 John 4:10), and to produce reconciliation between God and man (Romans 5:10-11; Colossians 1:20; Ephesians 2:16). At-one may be from two at variance becoming at one, or from German aussohnen, "to expiate." It is objected that it is opposed to God's justice that the innocent should suffer for the guilty; but in the daily experience of life and the course of nature the innocent often suffer, sometimes voluntarily, oftener involuntarily, for the guilty; philanthropists, patriots, and missionaries voluntarily. Christ's knowing and voluntary suffering in our stead is palpably no injustice (John 10:17-18; Psalm 40:6-8). The vast benefit to be gained for man vindicates it as lawful, as certainly it was in His power, to lay down His life for us. It is objected guilt cannot be transferred, it is purely personal. True: Jesus was personally innocent, but it is just Because He was so, and therefore free, which other men through sin are not, that He could atone for sin.
The animal sacrifice similarly was innocent and spotless, but appointed to die for the guilty. The transfer of guilt to the Saviour was only legal, not moral; imputation, not pollution; He took the penalty, not the moral consciousness of our guilt, not the stain but the liability to suffer, the obligation to die. A solvent man, generously paying for an insolvent, does not become insolvent himself, but takes the obligation that really belongs to the debtor. Christ became "sin" and a "curse" for us (i.e. took on Him sin's penal consequences), but not a sinner (2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13). Hence the serpent of brass lifted up by Moses was the type of Christ, for it had the form of the animal cursed above all beasts of the field, but not the venom; harmless in itself, but resembling the deadly serpent of the wilderness. So Christ was "made in the likeness of sinful flesh," but not in sinful flesh. He died "for sin," all our sin being laid on Him, though no sin was in Him (Numbers 21:9; John 3:14; Romans 8:3). It is also objected that the atonement is opposed to God's love and goodness.
But in the moral and physical world we see daily sure punishment following violation of its laws; this attests what Scripture asserts, namely, the reality of God's judicial anger. The flood that destroyed the antediluvians, and the fire that consumed Sodom, contradict the notion that punishment's sole end is the sinner's reformation. Since then God's benevolence is consistent with punishment following sin, it cannot be inconsistent with His appointing His Son's voluntary, sacrificial, substitutional, atoning death to be the means of harmonizing divine justice with mercy to the sinner, and besides of effectively renewing and reforming the sinner, just because His death was of that atoning, redeeming nature. It is objected also that the atonement is unfavourable to virtue, and leads men to trust in another's work, instead of amending their lives. But God's wrath against sin, so awfully shown in Christ's death, never leads men, really believing in it, to trifle with sin; and His love first to us, when felt, constrains us to love Him in turn and try to obey Him.
Others object we are taught to forgive because God has forgiven us, but if the atonement be true we ought to imitate God in exacting from our brother the uttermost farthing. We answer: the atonement is the act of God as a holy Judge, but the pardon comes to us perfectly gratuitous; in this its effect, viewed from our human standpoint, God's forgiving mercy to us is our model for forgiving others. The judge's and magistrate's duly is often not to forgive but punish; only in our private relations to fellow men is forgiveness our duty, as opposed to personal revenge. The Socinian view derogates from the love of God: for if Christ were mere man, His death was His own act, not God's; just as any virtuous deed or death of a good man for others. Suffering lighting on an innocent man can give no declaration of God's readiness to pardon the guilty on repentance. No view but that of His death being expiatory can make it a manifestation of God's love (1 John 4:9-10).
If love be estimated by the greatness of its gifts, God's gift of His divine Son to die in our stead is an infinitely greater manifestation of love than that of His allowing a good man to die in self sacrifice. Socinianism sacrifices God's justice, and so lowers His moral character of holiness of which His justice is one phase, and confounds the eternal distinctions of right and wrong. A human judge who lets criminals escape punishment is counted unjust, however merciful criminals might call him. Love of right is not a whit more virtuous than hatred of evil. A being without anger against wrong would be morally imperfect (Mark 3:5). If God, moreover, were a God of benevolence only, one cannot see why Christ should have been allowed by God to die at all. If it be unjust to punish the innocent for the guilt of others, must it not be much more unjust to punish him for no guilt whatever?
Again, if the object of His death was only to show an example of fortitude, patience, and self denial, since there is nothing of this kind in the sacrificial ritual of the Old Testament, there is no analogy between the sacrifices and Christ's death, and the sacrificial Old Testament language applied to Christ's death is meaningless. The Homily of Salvation truly says "reason is satisfied by God's great wisdom in this mystery of our redemption, who hath so tempered His justice and mercy together, that He would neither by His justice condemn us unto the everlasting captivity of the devil and his prison of hell, remediless forever without mercy, nor by His mercy deliver us clearly without justice or payment of a just ransom; but with His endless mercy He joined His most upright and equal justice." See Hollywood's admirable "Bishop Jeune's Prize Essay on the Atonement," from which the latter part of the above is mainly condensed.