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observance, so it was also necessary to the abrogation-it could not be dissolved and abolished by the act of the Jews only, who were infinitely the inferior party.-- If therefore it be repealed, it must have been done by the consent and will of Him who first gave it.—It was abolished in the wisdom and will of God, and as Elias Hicks declares that the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, abolished it, it follows from his own positions, that the Jews did the will of God in putting Jesus to death.
He proceeds to tell us, 6 he does not consider that the crucifixion of the outward body of flesh and blood of Jesus on the cross, was an atonement for any sins, but the legal sins of the Jews; for as their law was outward, so their legal sins and their penalties were outward, and these could be atoned for by an outward sacrifice.”
We have always understood the word sin to mean moral evil—the violation of the law and commands of God ; and we are at a loss to know what “outward or legal sin” can
If God command his creature man to do any act, however unimportant in itself the thing may appear to him to be, disobedience to that command is positive sin—it is moral evil. The thing abstractly considered, may be neither good nor evil; the crime is in transgressing the law of God, and this must always be absolute sin. If Elias Hicks alludes to the neglect of the Jewish ritual, when he speaks of “ legal or outward sin," the case is not altered. The Jews were as positively conimanded to observe all those rituals, as they were to fulfil the precepts of the Decalogue; and the neglect to do so, was an act of rebellion and disobedience to a positive command of God, and therefore was actual sin or moral evil.
Now Elias Hicks distinctly admits in the sentence which we last quoted from his letter, that the crucifixion of the outward body of flesh and blood of Jesus on the cross, was an atonement for these legal sins of the Jews—that is, that the Jews were released from the curse or penalty which they had incur-, red by transgressing their law, through the atoning sacrifice, or sufferings and death of Jesus Christ, whom he calls " innocent and righteous one.”
In admitting, therefore, that the legal sins of the Jews could be, and were atoned for, by an outward sacrifice, and that this sacrifice was the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, Elias Hicks has fully recognized and granted the principle of the propitiatory sufferings and death of “an innocent and righteous one" on behalf, and in lieu of the guilty ; and yet in the same letter, speaking of the Christian's belief in this doc
trine, he declares it to be “ wicked and abşurd” —"an outrage against every righteous law of God and man,” and asks whether “any rational creature that has any right sense of justice and mercy, would be willing to accept forgiveness of his sins upon such terms ?”
Is this consistency ? To admit the doctrine of atonement on one page, and anathematize it, and the believers in it, on the next? The distinction of " legal or outward sin,” makes nothing in his favour, for the principle of atonement is the same, even if we admit the distinction to be correct, which it evidently is not. If the sins of the Jews could be atoned for by an outward sacrifice, and “ this too by the hands of wicked men, slaying an innocent and righteous one,” as Elias Hicks asserts ; upon the same principle the sins of Christians may be atoned for, by the same sacrifice. What are we to think then of his expressions in relation to those who believe in the apostle's doctrine of the atonement, when he says, that any person “ acknowledging a willingness to be saved through such a medium, would shew himself to be a poor selfish creature unworthy of notice ?"
He admits the doctrine in behalf of the Jews, why then con demn those who claim it for Christians ?
He proceeds in his letter_“And this last outward sacrifice was a full type of the inward sacrifice, that every sinner must make, in giving up that sinful life of his own will
, in and by which, he hath from time to time crucified the innocent life of God in his own soul”--- Now all this life, power, and will of man, must be slain and die on the cross spiritually, as Jesus died on the cross outwardly, and this is the true atonement, which that outward atonement was a clear and full type of.”
This mystical language of "giving up that sinful life, and its being slain and dying on the cross,”' &c. means simply that a wicked man should forsake his wickedness and learn to do well; and the sentiment is thus fairly inculcated, that a man may make atonement for his own sins : that he may go on for years sinning against God, then turn about and become religious, and claim the forgiveness of his past sins as due to his present righteousness. On the same principle, past righteousness could atone for present sin ; all which is entirely contrary to the plainest doctrines of the Gospel. The natural depravity of man, his utter helplessness, and his inability to extricate himself from the wretched situation into which sin has plunged him, the necessity of a propitiation and a mediator, are fully set forth in the sacred volume. Our blessed Lord told his disciples, that after they had done
we are un
all that was commanded them, they should say, profitable servants, we have done no more than it was our duty to do.” Now, we are commanded to keep the whole law of God all our lives long, and it is our duty to obey this command. If a man go on in rebellion against this law for a series of years, and is then through the goodness of God, awakened to a sense of his sinful state, and begins to amend his ways—or as Elias Hicks expresses it, “gives up that sinful life of his own will to die on the cross,” can this amendment of life be any atonement for his past wickedness, when, if he had faithfully kept the whole law of God all his days, he would have been but an unprofitable servant, and would have done no more than it was his duty to do? Certainly not- This doctrine of self-atonement, inculcated by Elias Hicks, is no where mentioned in the Scriptures, nor supported by them.
Speaking of the sin of our first parents, he says, “ They don't appear to have been guilty of but one failure, and thai it appears they made satisfaction for, at the time of their first arraignment by their benevolent Creator, manifesting sorrow and repentance."
That the transgression of Adam and Eve, merited a more forcible appellation than “a failure or a mis-step,” is very obvious from the punishment which followed it. Now, to examine the assertions of Elias Hicks : first, that " it
appears they made satisfaction for this failure at the time of their first arraignment.”
This is not only unsupported by the testimony of the Holy Scriptures, but inconsistent with it. If our first parents made satisfaction for the crime they committed, they must have done away the guilt and penalty ; and it would have been highly unjust in their benevolent Creator to punish them for “a failure,” which they had made satisfaction for. But the Bible tells us that he did punish them, consequently they could not have made satisfaction for the sin. Further, he says,
“ they manifested sorrow and repentThis is equally at variance with the Bible. It tells us that they began making excuses, and trying to shift the blame upon some one else. The woman says, “the serpent beguiled me, and I did eat;” and Adam, as though he would impute a part of the blame to his Maker, says,
66 the woman whom thou gavest me to be with me, she gave me of the tree and I did eat."
We are unable to find any token of sorrow or repentance in any part of the Scripture narrative. Adam and Eve seem to entertain no idea of having made satisfaction, or they would not
have attempted to hide themselves from the presence of their benevolent Creator. Adam says, 6 I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid.” Where would have been the occasion for this fear, if they had made satisfaction for the crime, and manifested sorrow and repentance ?
The next sentence is predicated upon no better authority, viz. “ Which (viz. their making satisfaction, &c.) seems to be fairly implied by the sequel of the interview between them, for it is said he clothed them with coats of skin to hide their nakedness, which is an emblem of durable clothing," &c.
Clothing them with coats of skin was certainly no evidence of their having made satisfaction; because, while in a state of innocence and purity, before they sinned, they were naked and needed no clothing. The necessity for clothing was a consequence of their sin ; and the wearing of it must have been a constant and painful memento of their fall from their primeval state of happiness. The Hebrew word signifies the skins of beasts,” and we should rather think these emblematic of the ascendancy which the animal passions had obtained over them by their fall
, than of the pure and holy covering of the Lord's Spirit, which Elias Hicks would make them to signify.
Again, says Elias Hicks, “ their nakedness was not an outward one, but a nakedness of soul.”
The Bible says, “they were both naked, the man and his wife, and they were not ashamed.' This proves beyond a doubt that their nakedness was an outward nakedness, else why say “they were not ashamed ?” We would ask Elias Hicks, if it was not an outward nakedness, how could he clothe them with coats of skin ? Could “a nakedness of soul,” be removed by covering them with garments made from the skins of beasts?
He proceeds : “And inasmuch as those idle promulgators of original sin, believe they are made sinners without their consent or knowledge, which, according to the nature and reason of things, every rational mind must see is impossible, so likewise they are idle and ignorant enough to believe they are made righteous without their consent or knowledge, by the righteousness of one who lived on the earth near two thousand years before they had an existence; and this by the cruel hands of wicked men slaying an innocent and righteous one.'
We would request our readers particularly to notice, that the subject treated of in this part of the letter, (from the sentence which we have just quoted, to the concluding paragraph,) is undeniably the Christian's belief in the doctrine of the propitiation of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. We
should recollect, too, that Elias Hicks has before granted the principle of atonement, by admitting that the crucifixion of the outward body of flesh and blood of Jesus on the cross, was an atonement for the legal sins of the Jews; and of consequence, he makes the Jews righteous, touching those points of the law wherein they had transgressed, (or their legal sins,) “ by the righteousness of one who lived on the earth," nearly fifteen hundred years after that law was given; "and this by the cruel hands of wicked men slaying an innocent and righteous one;" he is therefore as much chargeable with being “idle and ignorant” in doing so, as those are who hold up the propitiation of Jesus Christ, for the belief of Christians. We do not, however, consider his statement to be correct, as we are not acquainted with any Christians who believe they are made righteous without their consent or knowledge, through the atoning blood of the Son of God.
While we reverently and gratefully acknowledge the advantages purchased for mankind by his precious sufferings and death on the cross, we are far from believing that this alone, constitutes the whole work of the Christian's salvation. We believe most sincerely, that his death was the procuring cause of the more full and general diffusion of the Holy Spirit, which constitutes the glory of these gospel days; and that obedience to the influences of this Spirit, is necessary to complete the work of sanctification. Yet we can no more separate the outpouring of the Holy Ghost, and the mediation and intercession of our adorable Redeemer, from that most acceptable sacrifice which he made of himself for the sins of the whole world, than we can assert that this sacrifice alone, justifies the sinner while he continues in his sins. The outward offering and the inward work are necessarily and inseparably connected, as cause and effect, and are both essential to man's salvation.
We have already cited many texts of Scripture, which assert that our blessed Lord and his apostles taught the very
doctrine which Elias Hicks stiles us “idle and ignorant” for believing; and the only defence which we shall make on the occasion, is to ask the question, Who is most likely to be right, Jesus Christ and his apostles, or Elias Hicks?
The following language of Paul, “who was not a whit behind the very chiefest of the apostles,” comes directly to the point mentioned in the last quotation from the letter : “ And, therefore, it was imputed to him for righteousness. Now, it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him, but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on