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on the forgiveness of sins committed during the whole time that the mercy of God has been sparing us : as an example, I the righteousness to which He calls us at each successive present moment, according to which God is just, whilst He acknowledges the righteousness of the man who has the trust of Jesus—that is, who has the same trust that Jesus had.”
The first objection that I anticipate to this interpretation, in the mind of the reader, is that, according to it, Jesus is represented rather as an example of righteousness than as a Saviour. My answer to this objection is, that Jesus certainly is not only the fountain of new life and strength to the race, but also the example of the way in which that life and strength are to be taken hold of by each man—and that the first of these subjects is treated of in chap. V., and the second in the passage before us. Indeed, it is apparent that the design of the apostle in this passage is to show us a righteousness by faith, of which a man is capable, though his mouth be stopped from a sense of guiltiness before God. And Jesus, who is the Author and the Finisher of our faith, is set before us, as a pattern of the way in which we may possess ourselves of
that righteousness. I may refer the reader to Ps. xl., as giving a view of the righteousness of Christ as a pattern, precisely similar to the view which I have supposed this passage to contain. And I would farther entreat of him to remember, that I am not denying to Jesus the place in the work of redemption which could only have been filled by the God-man, whilst I am maintaining that this particular passage holds Him up before us, chiefly in the character of a leader in the walk of faith.
The whole bistory of Jesus Christ is not only a manifestation of the character of God, but also a pattern of that righteousness to which man is called. Both of these views are equally consonant to the general truth of Scripture ; and therefore, when a passage occurs, in which there is any doubt, as to which of these views is meant to be taken, we are left free to follow the common principles of fair translation, in the choice which we make between them. Now, it appears to me, that if the apostle had been discoursing, in this place, of God's dealings towards men, we should have been directed, by the tenor of his argument, to have interpreted that mention which he makes of the propi.
tiation in the 25th verse, into an explanation of the righteous ground on which God forgives past sins; but as he is manifestly, both in the context which precedes, and in that which follows the passage, discoursing of man's character, it appears to me equally evident, that we are following the rule of fair translation, when we interpret his meaning to be, that God had set forth that sacrifice, by which Christ the head had made propitiation for the whole race, as a pattern of the righteousness to which every individual of the race is called, and of which every one is made capable, although his mouth be shut by a sense of guiltiness before God, because it rests on the forgiveness of by-past sin.
In the first place, let me observe, that though some readers may be startled by this statement, as if it were derogating from the dignity of the Saviour to consider his sacrifice as the pattern of righteousness to fallen men, yet if they will recollect that Jesus truly partook of that same flesh and blood of which the children were partakers, and on which the righteous sentence of condemnation lay; and that, therefore, in his sacrifice, he was the real Head and not the mere substitute of the sinful race, and did what he did, as the
right thing, becoming and fitting himself to do, as a partaker of that nature, and what would have been right for all men to do, and what must still continue right for all men to
and if they will farther reflect that he did this thing, not that men might be relieved from doing themselves any thing that is right, but that they might be enabled to do it—they will see that the statement, however startling it appears, is in perfect accordance with the word of God.
Secondly, in the Psalms we find Jesus continually confessing sin as one of the sinful race on whom the Lord had laid the iniquities of all, although he had no personal sins; and casting himself on God as the faithful God who forgiveth sin, and forsaketh not those that trust in Him. Jesus confessed sin, and the Father was faithful and just to forgive him his sin. He accepted his punishment, and God remembered the covenant of life and raised him from the dead. And, indeed, His propitiation consisted much of these two things, confession of sin, and acceptance of punishment; but these are not the actions of one who is preferring a claim to God's favour, founded on by-past obedience. On the contrary, they indicate that his official
rightedusness was founded on the forgiveness of past sin, and a forgiveness exactly similar to that which is bestowed on us, namely, a forgiveness which does not remit the punishment of sin, but which carries us through it, into eternal life, on the other side of it.
This view, then, is surely agreeable to Scripture, and I may appeal to every reader, whether it does not commend itself to his conscience, as well as his reason, as most right, that the way by which Jesus made reconciliation for the race, as its head, should be also the pattern of the righteousness to which every individual of the race is called ; as it is certain that it is only by yielding ourselves to that same Spirit in which Jesus lived and offered his sacrifice, and which He brought as a fountain of righteous life into our fallen nature, that any of us can become righteous, so that our righteousness must be essentially the same as His, being, in fact, only a rill out of His fountain. As to the mere language of the passage,
I may observe, that the correctness of the translation of one of the clauses of the 25th verse, given in our English Bibles, is very doubtful; I refer to the expression, “to be a propitiation through faith in His blood.” The