PROBABILITIES THAT AN ATONEMENT WILL BE PROVIDED IN THE DIVINE GOVERNMENT, OR GROUNDS OF PRESUMPTION THAT SOME ARRANGEMENT WILL BE MADE TO MEET AND REMOVE THE DIFFICULTIES IN THE WAY OF PARDON.
In reference to an atonement for sin, it is quite a material inquiry whether there is any antecedent presumption or probability that it will be made. That is, Is there any thing in the undoubted natural arrangements which God has made, or in his actual dealings with men, from which it could be inferred, with any degree of probability, that he would at any time interpose, by an extraordinary arrangement, to check evil in our world and to save the race from the consequences of transgression? Or is the idea of checking and removing the consequences of violating law so alien to the whole system of things as to furnish an antecedent improbability that this would ever occur? Is it or is it not a fact that evil is arrested in our world by a divine arrangement that has this for its object? Is there what could properly be regarded as a system of remedies for the admitted maladies which have como upon the earth? Does the idea of arresting the consequences of violating law fall in with any of the analogies of nature? Or is the atonement altogether a new device in the actual government of the world?
It may be proper, therefore, to refer to some things in the actual administration of the world which will show that the idea of arresting evil by arrangements which contemplate that end, or which can have had no other design, is an idea which is actually entertained, and which will show, at the same time, that the anticipation of an extraordinary provision for that end on a larger scale is not foreign to the actual course of affairs, and is one which might not improperly be cherished by mankind.
I. In the first place, then, we may refer to a very prevalent idea in the world that such an arrangement is possible, and that it might be expected to occur.
The views of the Jewish people are well known, and will be referred to in another part of this chapter.
There is reason also to believe that an expectation prevailed to a very considerable extent in the pagan world, that something like an atonement for sin would be provided under the divine administration. The belief in the necessity of an atonement, and in the fact that an atonement could be made for human transgression, was implied in the very notion of bloody sacrifices. There were two classes of offerings to the gods among the heathens. One class was bloodless, consisting of the fruits of the earth, and was designed as a thank-offering, and had, of course, no relation to sin. It was such an offering as might be made by holy angels, or by man if he had been always perfectly upright. The other was a bloody offering, the offering of the life of the animal. This could never have been designed as a thank-offering or as a mere expression of gratitude, but must have had reference to the fact that man is ft sinner, and it must have been supposed that in some way it could constitute an expiation for guilt.
In what way it was supposed that the offering of the life of the animal, or the life of a prisoner taken in war, or the life of a slave, or the life of a child, would make expiation for sin,—for all these were offered in sacrifice,—is a distinct inquiry, which is not necessary here to consider; but of the fact that such a supposition was entertained no one can entertain a doubt. Whether it was believed that such an offering made by human hands would so appease the wrath of the gods by its being regarded as such an acknowledgment of the evil of sin that sin Would be forgiven on account of it, or that the suffering of the victim offered in sacrifice would be, in some way, considered as an equivalent for the punishment of the offender himself, may be doubtful; but the fact that those who offered these sacrifices did regard the offering as an atonement, and that they, therefore, believed that an atonement was necessary and possible, is as certain as any fact in history.
And yet, while this view is fully confirmed by the fact of bloody offerings, there are also two other aspects in which these sacrifices may be contemplated, bearing more directly on the point before us:—
(a.) One is, that there is reason to suppose that the custom of offering sacrifice, or of making an expiation by the life of an animal, was originally derived from revelation. In itself there appears to be no reason for supposing that the life of an animal would be an acceptable offering to the gods, or that it could constitute an expiation for sin. It would not seem probable that inflicting pain, or that taking away the life of an innocent animal, would be regarded as any reason why the gods should pardon a sinner and save him from deserved wrath. No such offering is made, or ever has heen made, to a civil magistrate as a reason why the penalty of a law should be remitted. No such offering is made by a child to a parent when his law has been violated. No such offering is made by a man to his friend whom he has offended, or to an enemy whose wrath he attempts to turn away. Confession, acknowledgment, tears, might be supposed to have power to influence him who had been offended or wronged; a bribe, it might be supposed, would have power to influence a magistrate; but the idea would never occur that the offering of blood—the slaying of an animal—would have any effect in reference to offences of this class. It has, therefore, been wholly impossible, on any known principles of human conduct, to account for the resort to bloody sacrifices, as intended to appease the wrath of the gods; and the most probable solution is, that they are to be traced to an early divine appointment, and that they have been kept up under the influence of tradition, as meeting some of the demands of human nature when it has been impossible to trace the successive historical steps up to the original appointment.
(6.) The other remark is, that the sacrifices offered by the heathen left just the impression on the minds of those who offered them which we must suppose they would do if they were originally appointed to be an indication to mankind that an atonement would be made at some future period of the world. They were never in themselves satisfactory. There was never, for example, any such feeling as the Christian is supposed to have, and does have, when he contemplates the atonement made by the Redeemer, that a 'full, free, and perfect oblation had been made for the sins of the world;' that the sacrifice made was so complete that there was no necessity for its being repeated; that it was of such a character that it could not be repeated; that it was so perfect that it did not suppose or contemplate any thing future. The ordinary. Jewish sacrifices were repeated every day. The high-priest went into the most holy place every year, on the great day of the atonement, repeating what had been done the year before, as if there was the same need of an atonement still which there had been the year previous. All heathen sacrifices are repeated often, as if there had been as yet no true expiation. The consciences of Jews and heathens never felt satisfied that the atonement had yet been offered; and, after all that had been done or that could be done, there was still the feeling which we should suppose there would be on the supposition that the original intention was not that these sacrifices should be a proper atonement for sin, but that they were appointed with reference to one that was yet to be made.
They thus served to keep up the impression from age to age that an atonement would be made; and thus they practically directed the mind onward, and prepared the world to give credit to the statements about the true atonement when it should be offered.
The expectation that an atonement would be made, thus indicated extensively in the actual belief of the world, must have had some ground or basis. Universal opinions and expectations do not spring up in the mind of man without some foundation either in the nature of things, or in divine predictions, or in the real wants of the race; and, in this case, such an expectation could have been founded only on one of the following things, to wit: Either,
(1.) That the custom of sacrifice was founded on a tradition derived from an original divine appointment which had a reference to an atonement to be made in some future period of the world. Or,
(2.) That there was some deep conviction in the human mind—some profound sense of sin and of the justice of God—some sense of the difficulty of pardon without an atonement, and some belief that God would interfere to save the race from the ruin which they had brought on themselves, which led men to express their belief by the repetition of the acts of sacrifice from age to age. Or,
(3.) That there were some observed arrangements for the removal of evil in the world, on a limited scale, which induced man to hope that there would be a wider and more universal arrangement for the removal of the great source of all evil,—sin. Thus, it is conceivable that there might have been such an observation of the methods of repairing physical evils in the world, as to lead to the belief that the Great Ruler of the earth would not suffer far greater evils to triumph without some corresponding arrangement to check and remove them: some analogies, in the course of events, which would he the basis of a general expectation of an atonejnent.
This leads us, then,—
II. Secondly, to inquire what arrangements there are in the world for the removal of natural or physical evils which might suggest the idea of a higher arrangement for the removal of moral evil, or which might, if the idea were once suggested, serve to keep up the expectation of it in the world.
We may refer here (1) to arrangements existing in the very constitution of things for preventing the consequences of our actions; and (2) to arrangements designed to be remedial, or introduced as independent contrivances on the supposition that law would be violated, and that have been engrafted on the original system of things with a view to furnish a remedy for such a violation.
(1.) In regard to the first of these, I cannot better present the subject than in the words of Bishop Butler. "We may observe," says he,* "somewhat much to the present purpose in the constitution of nature or appointment of Providence; the provision which is made that all the bad natural consequences of men's actions should not always actually follow; or that such bad consequences as, according to the settled course of things, would inevitably have followed if
* Analogy, Part II., ch. 5, iii,
not prevented, should in certain degrees be prevented. We are apt presumptuously to imagine that the world might have been so constituted as that there would not have been any such thing as misery or evil. On the contrary, we find the Author of nature permits it, but that he has provided reliefs, and in many cases perfect remedies, for it, after some pains and difficulties; reliefs and remedies even for that which is the fruit of our own misconduct, and which, in the course of nature, would have continued and ended in our destruction but for such remedies. And this is an instance both of severity and indulgence in the constitution of nature. Thus, all the bad consequences of a man's trifling upon a precipice might be prevented. And though all were not, yet some of them might, by proper interposition, if not rejected; by another's coming to the rash man's relief, with his own laying hold on that relief in such sort as the case required. Persons may do a great deal themselves towards preventing the bad consequences of their follies; and more may be done by themselves together with the assistance of others their fellow-creatures; which assistance nature requires and prompts us to. This is the general constitution of the world. Now, suppose it had been so constituted that, after such actions were done as were foreseen naturally to draw after them misery to the doer, it should have been no more in human power to have prevented that naturally consequent misery, in any instance, than it is in all: no one can say whether such a severe constitution of things might not yet have been really good. But that, on the contrary, provision is made by nature that we may and do to so great a degree prevent the bad natural effects of our follies,—this may be called mercy or compassion in the original constitution of the world; compassion as distinguished from goodness in general. And, the whole human constitution and course of things affording us instances of such compassion, it would be according to the analogy of nature to hope that, however ruinous the natural consequences of vice might be, from the general laws of God's government over the universe, yet provision might be made, possibly might have been originally made, for preventing those ruinous consequences from inevitably following; at least, from following universally and in all cases."
This extract contains the general principle in the remarks which I am now making.
(2.) I refer, then,—in illustration of it, and in confirmation of the view here, presented, and as showing that men, on close observation and reflection, might have found such arrangements in nature for checking and removing evil as to lead to the expectation that there might be some higher arrangement to meet the calamities of the world on a wider scale,—to the remedial systems which are actually found in the world. The systems or arrangements to which I refer are such as presuppose that law will be violated, and that there will be need of such an interposition; or which are introduced on that supposition and for that end alone. In other words, they are such as have no other purpose to answer, and such as could have had no place in the system, as far as can now be seen, except on the supposition that there would be, in the course of things on the earth, evils to be remedied. They have no other end now; and if all evil should be done away they would cease altogether or become useless.
In illustrating this point, I shall not attempt to inquire whether these remedial arrangements existed in the original constitution of things,—that is, whether they were introduced there on the supposition that they would be needed, and were so adjusted that they would come up of themselves when they were required,—or whether they were, so to speak, an after-thought, and were introduced to meet an actually existing evil. The point of the remarks which are to be made would not be affected whichever of these views should be taken; though in a world under the go.vernment of a Being without change of plan or newness of purpose, it is, in fact, to be supposed that whatever has come up in the way of a remedy, or is yet to come up, is not actually an after-thought, but had a place in the original plan and arrangement. There may be an order of nature, however, in the arrangements which such a Being may make, though there may be no difference of time in the formation of the different parts of the plan.
I shall refer to two classes of arrangements of the kind now referred to, both of a physical character, but making it probable that there will be found a system of moral remedies analogous to them. They are the following:—(a) Arrangements outside of the evil to be remedied and independent of that in which the evil is found,—or what is properly found in the materia mediea of the world, or in medicine; and (b) the healing and restoring processes of
nature, or arrangements connected with the evil to be
remedied, and which, Bo far as this point is concerned, are self-adjusting or self-acting,—found eminently in surgery. •
(a.) Medicine, or the arrangements in the materia medica of the world.
1. All the arrangements in medicine presuppose that there will be violations of the laws of health, or that there will be evils springing from the loss of health to be remedied. We can conceive of a world where no such arrangements would exist; and, indeed, we must suppose that there are no such arrangements in unfallen worlds, and will be none in heaven. We cannot suppose that in an unfallen world there can be any thing which corresponds in this respect with the materia medica of our globe, or with, the things that seem to have been created only on the supposition that there will be fevers and pleurisies and consumptions. ' But on earth the preparations of that kind abound everywhere. There are numberless things in the mineral and vegetable worlds that have the properties of healing as an essential part of their nature,—numberless things which have, in fact, no other use than that which is derived from healing, and which seem to have been made for that with as distinct and original a reference as the eye has been for light, or food for the nourishment of the body. If it had not been supposed in the original creation that there would be diseases to be remedied, it is impossible to believe that these things would have been made with such properties as they now have—for it remains to be demonstrated that any thing was made without a distinct design; and, as a general law, in finding out what purpose any
thing is fitted to accomplish, we at the same time find out the purpose for which it was originally designed.
2. The things which constitute the materia mediea of the world, or which come properly under the name of medicine, are arranged for the purpose of healing. Many of these seem to have no other end, and no other use can be made of them. Whatever they have in their nature to distinguish them from other substances is adapted only to the purpose of healing; and, though it may be true that some of them may have a compound adaptedness, and may be fitted also to subserve other ends than healing, yet it is also true that, so far as the medical property in any of these is concerned, and, in many cases, so far as any distinguishing property is concerned, that property pertains only to the healing of diseases, and can be applied to no other use. Mercury or quicksilver, for example, has, indeed, a compound adaptedness,—for it may be used in the arts as well as in medicine; but this is not true of numberless other things used in the healing art. Senna, rhubarb, Peruvian bark, and numerous other similar things have no other use than healing and can be converted to no other purpose. They cannot be placed on the same level or made to subserve the same ends as rice, maize, wheat, lentils; for they have properties distinct from them, and they cannot be made to subserve the ends which those things are designed to secure. A druggist would starve to death in his shop, though there might be medicines enough there to heal all the diseases in the world. A company of men on a barren island would soon die if there should be nothing else sent to them than a cargo of medicines; they would die if their island produced nothing but quicksilver, rhubarb, and Peruvian bark. The fair conclusion from this fact is, that these things were designed for the purpose of healing; that is, that it was contemplated that there would be diseases demanding a remedy.
3. These remedies lie outside of the evil to be remedied. They differ from the arrangement which will be noticed next in order (b) in the fact that they are no part of the original organization of that which it was contemplated would need a remedy. It is an independent arrangement,—a separate system,— which could not be itself originated by the disease to be cured; for, whatever may be said about the adaptedness of a broken bone to heal itself, it cannot be said that intermittent or bilious fevers have any tendency to produce the tree on which the bark that is adapted to heal those diseases is found. They constitute an independent arrangement by themselves, and would have an existence—though, as far as appears, a useless existence—even if there were no fevers to be cured.
4. In a great measure these remedies are effectual. It is true that all diseases are not healed, and that there are diseases which ultimately baffle the skill of medicine. It is true, also, that there are diseases for which as yet no specific remedy has been found. But it is also true that it may ultimately be ascertained that there is no form of disease to which the human frame is subject for which a remedy has not been provided,—a remedy which might either weaken the force of the disease or wholly remove it. The remedies for disease are sometimes undiscovered for ages, and, though existing, they are useless,—as the tree producing the Peruvian bark continued to grow from age to age wholly useless to the world until a happy discovery disclosed its value to mankind. In like manner, it may be possible that arrangements exist for healing all the diseases to which the human frame is subject, and that happy discoveries may yet so greatly enlarge the knowledge of these remedies as greatly to alleviate all the maladies to which the race is subject, and perhaps to remove many of them altogether.
5. This arrangement in regard to physical maladies might suggest the possibility, and perhaps the probability, that some correspondent arrangement would be made to meet the moral evils of the world and to check the progress of those evils. It is certainly a very curious fact in itself that an arrangement of the kind just referred to should be found in the world; that it should be contemplated, apparently, in the original structure of things, that there would be disease, and that there should be found a separate and wholly independent arrangement for checking, relieving, and removing it. It is an arrangement which could not have been anticipated; for if we should conceive it to be possible that we could have been consulted beforehand on that point, we should have said that it would be wholly impossible that such an arrangement could be found. We should have said at once that the presumption would be that evil would be prevented altogether; that disease would not be suffered to come into the system; that it seems to be so clumsy a device that we cannot suppose that a perfectly wise being would have adopted it; that no wise man would originate such a system; that it is difficult to reconcile the idea of permitting pleurisies and consumptions to come upon men with any proper notions of benevolence, whatever may be said of the benevolence of the remedy; that the whole scheme is similar to what would occur in the construction of a machine if the inventor should purposely make it so that it would get out of order with a view to show his skill by an independent arrangement in repairing the irregularity and in restoring its regular motions. It must be conceded that we.cannot explain the reason why this apparently strange procedure has been suffered to occur, and we may admit that as yet we are not able to see that it is the most benevolent arrangement that could have been adopted. But still, the fact remains as a part of a great system found everywhere in nature, and, whatever may have been the reason of it, it is there. Whether the explanation is to be found in the fact that the human frame could not have been so made as not to be liable to decay and disease; or whether, on the whole, higher benevolence is evinced by allowing disease to come in, and showing the high skill evinced as an independent arrangement in the provision for healing disease; or whether the whole arrangement is one that lies beyond our power of comprehension, having some ends to accomplish which we cannot as yet understand, yet the arrangement exists. It pervades the world. It is a part of the system. We see nothing on earth that is exempt from it; and this might lead men to suppose that it would be found to be a universal arrangement, and would be as applicable to moral as to physical maladies; that is, that there would be found somewhere, to be disclosed in its own time, some independent arrangement for checking or removing the moral maladies—the sins—of the world. An atonement, if it answered this end, would obviously fall in with this anticipation, and would be in accordance with the general system which has allowed disease to come into the world, and which, by a separate and independent arrangement, has sought to check and remove it.
(6.) Healing Processes.—I refer not here, as in the former specification, to arrangements outside of that which is to be remedied, or to arrangements that seem to constitute a separate and independent system capable of being applied to that which is to be healed, but to arrangements in the thing itself,—in its very structure and constitution. These are, indeed, in one respect independent arrangements; for we may easily suppose that bones might have been so made that they would be liable to be broken though no arrangement existed for their knitting together again, or that a tree might be liable to have its bark injured though there were no arrangement for repairing and restoring it. There seems to be nothing in the nature of a bone that would dispose its parts necessarily to come together again if it should be broken; and in this respect the arrangement for healing seems to be quite independent of the purpose of making a bone. In like manner, we can easily imagine that all trees might have been so made that when the bark was injured there would be no arrangement for the formation of new bark, or that all arteries and veins might have been so made that when tied there would be no tendency in the blood to form for itself a new channel. The arrangement for restoring the part is, in some respects, quite as much a separate system as that of creating Peruvian bark for a specific disease, and the fact that the arrangement could be incorporated into the thing itself as a part of the original plan rather increases our admiration of the wisdom and skill evinced,—as if the spring of a watch were so made that there should be a tendency in it to unite again if it should be broken, or as if the wheels of a locomotive were so made that if they were fractured there should be an inwrought tendency to repair themselves. It is evidently, however, a part of the same general system, showing that it was contemplated that there would be fractures to be repaired. The two cases agree in the principle that there would be occasion for some arrangement to meet and repair an anticipated evil; they differ in the fact that in the one case the arrangement is outside and independent; in the other it is incorporated with the thing itself. A self-repairing spring to a watch would illustrate the aspect of the subject now to be considered; the act of a watchmaker repairing a watch—an outside arrangement—would illustrate the point before considered.
It may be proper now to refer to a few cases where the arrangement under consideration is found, or where an arrangement for healing is incorporated in the thing itself.
(1.) The case of a tree will furnish one illustration. It is the arrangement for replacing the bark when injured, or for sending out new shoots when its branches are cut oft*. A tree might have been so made that neither of these things would ever occur; so made that an injury once inflicted would be final. But this is not the plan which has been adopted. The bark, when injured,—unless the injury has gone so far as to cut off the ascent of the sap altogether,— will restore itself. New bark will begin at once to form, the wound will be covered up, the vitality and the strength of the tree will be preserved. Notwithstanding the wound, it may produce as large a luxuriance of foliage, and bear as large an amount of fruit, and live as many years, as though no wound had been inflicted on it. This is an arrangement in itself quite as independent as the creation of medicine to cure diseases; but it has this peculiarity, that, instead of being outside, it is incorporated into the very nature of the tree, or is self-acting. So there exists a similar arrangement for throwing out new shoots and limbs when the first growth shall be pruned away. To a certain extent this is found, probably, in all trees; and the provision in the case is invaluable for the purpose of training the tree to a desired form, and even for producing fruit. The arrangement is not, indeed, that the same limb will shoot out again; but it is that others will be formed which will answer the same or a better purpose; which will grow up more densely or more sparsely; which will come out in more desirable places; or which will supply the place of those that are decayed and dying. This arrangement, we may suppose, might have been found in restoring the wings of a bird or the limbs of a horse or a man, and there seems to have been no reason in the nature of things why it should not have been incorporated into the structure of all animals, for something like this is found in some of the lower species of animals, and, so far as we can see, it seems to have been a mere purpose of will, though founded, doubtless, on some good reason why it should not have been extended through all departments of the animal kingdom.
(2.) We may refer to the arrangement for the reunion of a bone when broken. There was nothing in the nature of the case which made it necessary that the fragments of a bone when broken should have a tendency to reunite. A bone would have been complete if this tendency had not existed. We can easily conceive of a bone as having no such property; and it is clear that the arrangement might have been such as to show that it was never contemplated that a bone would be broken, or, if broken, that it should forever remain so. The provision for its 'knitting' or uniting is quite a distinct and independent matter,—as much so as the creation of bark to be given in a fever.
It is, too, among the most delicate of all the arrangements in the human system, involving separate and peculiar forms of process for the formation of new bone in a manner quite distinct from that in which the bones are originally formed and are made to increase; a method of secreting bony matter, and of conveying it to the broken part, and of depositing it there, which is in no wise necessary in the idea of the formation of bone. All this shows that it was contemplated in the original creation that a bone might be broken, and it might, at least, suggest the inquiry whether an arrangement may not exist for repairing moral evils.*
(3.) As a third illustration of the general principle, we may refer to the case of a broken bone where it would be difficult or impracticable to form bone so that the broken parts could be reunited, and where the object is accomplished by the formation of cartilage. Such a case occurs when the knee-pan is broken. The knee-pan is, as Dr. Paley observes, a remarkable part of the human frame, that seems to have been added to the original conception. "It appears," says he, "to be supplemental, as it were, to the frame; added, as it should almost seem, afterward; not quite necessary, but very convenient. It is separate from the other bones; that is, it is not connected with any other bones by the common mode of union. It is soft, or hardly formed, in infancy, and produced by an ossification, of the inception or progress of which no account can be given from the structure or exercise of the part."f The knee-pan, though not so liable to fracture as many other of the bones of the human frame, may be broken. And yet it is not easy so to lay it down, so to bandage it, so to confine it, so to compress it together, as to secure a reunion of the broken parts: perhaps, detached as it is from the other bones, it would not be easy to secure the secretions necessary for its 'knitting' consistently with the present arrangement. Possibly, too, if this could be done, it could not be so confined and bandaged as to secure a reunion of bone without injury to the delicate mechanism of the knee itself. However this may be, it does not reunite as the other bones do. But the evil is not left without any remedy. Though the broken fragments of the bones will not unite, yet a cartilage may be formed between them, which will restore the injured bone to a useful function. This is accordingly done. The case is one that shows that there is a pervading law in the system of things by which a remedy for evils that occur is provided, and it may suggest the probability that somewhere there will be found an arrangement to meet the higher evils that may come into the system.
*See Paget's Surgical Pathology, pp. 160-174. f Natural Theology, chap. 8, v.
(4.) A similar arrangement occurs in regard to the arteries and veins. It was possible, evidently, so to make the human frame that there would never have been an opportunity for the performance of a surgical operation; that is, so to make it that, on the supposition that an amputation was to be performed, the patient would bleed to death. But, as the results have shown, it was very important that the frame should be constructed on the supposition that amputation might become necessary. And it was equally important, if this should be done, that provision should be made for carrying the blood around the system in some regular mode of circulation, or that its natural flow should not be permanently stopped: in other words, that it should be practicable not only to tie an artery and to prevent bleeding, but that the blood should continue to flow through the artery thus arrested, and be conveyed around again to the lungs and the heart. But this was a delicate, and apparently an impossible, arrangement. Yet it has been accomplished. By one of the most wonderful contrivances in the human frame, the blood ploughs out for itself a new channel, and thus secures a free circulation. It is not like water that is obstructed, and that makes a way for itself over or through the embankment by mere mechanical force: it is as if in a system of water-pipes laid under ground there was a self-acting power in the water, by which, if one of the pipes should be injured or cut off, it should plough out a channel in the ground for a pipe, and construct a new pipe, connecting it carefully with the obstructed part, and so laying it down as to connect itself again with the main pipe, and securing—though by a slightly circuitous course—the regular flow of the water. Obviously, there is no human mechanism that can accomplish this; but it is accomplished in the human frame, and is one of those wonderful provisions in nature which indicate the existence of remedial systems, and which naturally suggest the inquiry whether some plan may not have been contemplated which would be fitted to remove all the evils, physical and moral, which would be likely to come into and disturb the general system.
The process to which I have here referred, by which the blood in the case of amputation forms for itself a new channel and secures the proper circulation, is so interesting, and is such a beautiful exhibition of the Divine wisdom and goodness, that I cannot better illustrate my subject than by copying the description of the process from a well-known book on surgery:—
"The method may be termed an outgrowth from the vessels already formed. Suppose a line or arch of capillary vessels passing below the edge or surface of a part to which new material has been superadded [as in the annexed figure]. The vessel will first
present a dilatation at one point, and coincidently, or shortly after, at another, as if its wall yielded a little near the edge or surface. The slight pouches thus formed gradually extend, as blind canals or diverticula, from the original vessel, still directing their course towards the edge or surface of the new material, and crowded with blood-corpuscles, which are pushed into them from the main stream. Still extending, they converge, they meet; the partitionwall that is at first formed by the meeting ends, clears away, and a perfect arched tube is formed, through which the blood, diverging from the main or former stream and then rejoining it, may be continually propelled.
"In this way, then, are the simplest blood-vessels of granulations and the like outgrowths formed. The plan on which they are arranged is made more complex by the similar outgrowths of branches from adjacent arches, and their mutual anastomoses; but, to all appearance, the whole process is one of outgrowth and development from vessels already. formed. And I beg of you to consider the wonder of such a process: how, in a day, a hundred or more of such loops of fine membranous tube, less than one-thousandth of an inch in diameter, can be upraised,—not by any mere force of pressure, though with all the regularity of the simplest mechanism, but each by a living growth and development as orderly and exact as that which we might trace in the part most essential to the continuance of life. Observe that no force so simple as that of mere extension or assimilation can determine such a result as this; for to achieve the construction of such an arch it must spring with due adjustment from two determined points, and then its flanks must be commensurately raised, and these, as with mutual attraction, must approach and meet exactly in the crown. Nothing could accomplish such a result but force determining the concurrent development of the two outgrowing vessels. We admire the intellect of the engineer who, after years of laborious thought, with all the appliances of weight and measure and appropriate material, can begin, at points wide apart, and force through the solid masses of the earth, a tunnel, and can wall it in secure from external violence and strong to bear some ponderous traffic; and yet ho does but grossly and imperfectly imitate the Divine work of living mechanism that is hourly accomplished in the bodies of the least conspicuous objects of creation,—nay, even in the healing of our casual wounds and sores."*
* Paget's Surgical Pathology, pp. 146, 147.
In connection with these cases, the following general remarks may be made, as bearing on the subject before us:—
(a.) They all proceed on the supposition that there might be violations of law, or that injuries might occur, which it would be desirable to repair. Whether such violations of law would in fact exist, might be another question; but it is clear that in the original arrangement it was contemplated that they might, and that some remedial arrangement would be desirable.
(b.) They are remedial in their design. They have no other object. Whether independent arrangements, as in materia mediea, or whether inwrought in the constitution of things, they are designed for this end alone, and are, in either case, so far an independent arrangement that they are in no way necessary to the original existence of that to which they are adapted, or to its perfect action, if no violation of law were to occur.
(c.) They naturally suggest the idea of repairing moral evils. Tbey bring the question to the mind whether it is not probable that the Author of all things, having made such arrangements for repairing the injuries resulting from a violation of the laws of health,—an injured tree, or a broken bone,—would not also make provision for repairing the higher evils that might disturb the moral system. This inquiry has increased force in proportion to the greatness of the evils to be repaired, and to the difficulty of such a higher adjustment; for, from all that we know of the displays of Divine wisdom in creation and providence, does not the fact that it is difficult render it more probable that such an arrangement will be made, since it will furnish a suitable occasion for the display of such wisdom? In other words, is it probable that an arrangement would be made involving so much care and skill for allaying a fever or healing a wound in a tree, or in mending a broken bone, and none be made to save the soul?
The following remarks may, without impropriety, be introduced here as showing how the arrangements for the repairs of injuries in the human frame naturally suggest the question about a higher remedy to meet the evils of sin in the soul of man. They have the more value as a part of my argument from the fact that they are the remarks of a surgeon, not of a professed theologian:—
"If I may venture on so high a theme, let me suggest that the instances of recovery from disease and injury seem to be only examples of a law yet larger than that within the terms of which they may be comprised; a law wider than the grasp of science; the law that expresses our Creator's will for the recovery of all lost perfection. To this train of thought we are guided by the remembrance that the healing of the body was ever chosen as the fittest emblem of His work whose true mission was to raise man's fallen spirit and repair the injuries it had sustained; and that once, the healing power was exerted in a manner purposely so confined as to advance, like that which we can trace, by progressive stages to the complete cure. For there was one upon whom, when the light of heaven first fell, so imperfect was his vision that he saw, confusedly, 'men, as trees, walking,' and then, by a second touch of the Divine Hand, was 'restored, and saw every man clearly.' Thus, guided by the brighter light of revelation, it may be our privilege, while we study the science of our healing art, to gain, by the illustrations of analogy, a clearer insight into the oneness of the plan by which things spiritual and corporeal are directed. Even now we may trace some analogy between the acts of the body and those of man's intellectual and moral nature. As in the development of the germ, so in the history of the human spirit, we may discern a striving after perfection; after a perfection not viewed in any present model, (for the human model was marred almost as soon as it was formed,) but manifested to the enlightened Reason in the 'Express Image' of the 'Father of Spirits.' And so, whenever, through human frailty, amid the violences of the world and the remaining 'infection of our nature,' the spirit loses aught of the perfection to which it was once admitted, still, its implanted power is ever urgeut to repair the loss. The same power, derived and still renewed from the same Parent, working by the same appointed means and to the same end, restores the fallen spirit to nearly the same perfection that it had before. Then, not unscarred, yet living,—' fractus sed invictus,'— the spirit yet feels its capacity for a higher life, and passes to its immortal destiny. In that destiny the analogy ends. We may watch the body developing into all its marvellous perfection and marvellous fitness for the purpose of its existence in the world; but, this purpose accomplished, it passes its meridian, and then we trace it through the gradual decays of life and death. But for the human spirit that has passed the ordeal of this world there is no such end. Emerging from its imprisonment in the body, it soars to the element of its higher life: there, in perpetual youth, its powers expand as the vision of the Infinite unfolds before it; there, in the very presence of its Model, its Parent, and the Spring of all its power, it is 'like him, for it sees him as he
III. In illustration of the idea that it is probable that there would be a Divine interposition in behalf of men for removing the evils that had come into the world, and as perhaps at the same time suggesting the kind of interposition which might be anticipated, we may refer to the fact that we are often preserved from evils to which we are exposed, by the personal sacrifices of others.
Facts of this kind are so numerous that it is unnecessary to attempt to specify them. The arrangements of society seem constituted much on this principle, that sacrifices are to be made by one portion to ward off impending evils from another, or to procure those blessings which are to be transmitted to other generations. If we look at our enjoyments we shall perhaps be surprised to find how few of them have been obtained directly by our own exertions, and equally surprised to find to how great an extent we are indebted for them to the sacrifices which others have made. I allude to those sacrifices of time, comfort, property, which are made by men not altogether, if they are mainly, for themselves, and to those which, in numerous cases, are made in a great measure, if not entirely, for others. We are saved in infancy and childhood from cold, starvation, and nakedness because there are those who are willing to toil for us and to deny themselves of ease and comfort that we may be happy. We are saved from oppression and slavery because others have been willing to peril their lives in the cause of freedom. Others minister to us in sickness by much personal sacrifice, and in numerous cases we are preserved from death because they are willing to forego ease and comfort in our behalf. The blessings of religion have come to us because, in troublous times, there have been those who were willing to practise self-denial, to forego ease and comfort, to face the terrors of persecution, to give themselves to death, that they might make the gospel known to a perishing world.
* Paget's Surgical Pathology, p. 117.
A history of the sacrifices and self-denials of the men who have devoted themselves to the cause of patriotism, humanity, and religion would constitute a very considerable part of the history of the world. The most interesting chapters of that history are those which record the deeds of such men as Howard; the facts that most relieve the pained eye in contemplating the general selfishness of the race are the acts of generous self-denial and sacrifice which have occurred. A few of these things have been recorded,—though but few; for men have been much more disposed to rear monuments to perpetuate the fame of the desolators of the world than of its benefactors, and not a few of these generous deeds have occurred in such humble life that they are unnoticed by the historian. Yet they do occur. They are found in every sick-room, in every hospital, in every prison, almost in every family; in every case where life is perilled to save men from flame and flood; in the self-denials of every missionary of the cross who forsakes the comforts of a civilized land to go among wretched savages, that he may raise them to the dignity and purity of civilized life and make known to them the method by which sinners are saved. Evil would long since have had the entire ascendency in our world if it had not been for such generous self-sacrifice; and the fact that, with all the depravity of the world, such deeds of self-denial, if collected and recorded, would constitute so material a part of the history of our race, shows that it may be a general principle in the Divine administration that evil shall be removed by sacrifices endured in behalf of the wretched and the guilty.
That this may be a general principle, and that these facts should be allowed to suggest the idea that there may be a higher intervention of this sort than those which ordinarily pass under the observation of mankind, may be made to appear more probable from the following considerations:—
(a.) There is a fitness for such interventions in the actual condition of things. There is guilt, there is temptation, there is danger, which seem adapted—if not designed—to suggest the idea of such interventions, and to lay the foundation for them. Facts in these respects are such as they would be on the supposition that it was contemplated that there would be occasion for the intervention of self-sacrifice and self-denial.
(b.) Such intervention by self-sacrifice and selfdenial is made necessary if these evils are to be removed. There is no other method by which this can be done; and they would not be removed if there were no such interventions. Sickness would terminate in death; nations would be enslaved; the blind, the dumb, the insane, would perish; the heathen would sink to ruin; the world would be ignorant, degraded, lost, if it were not for such acts of generous self-sacrifice in the behalf of others. Liberty, intelligence, civilization, and the ordinary comforts of life, are the fruits of such deeds of self-denial in behalf of others; and even now the civilized portions of the earth would sink again to barbarism, degradation, and wretchedness if the spirit which prompted to such acts were not continued in the world.
- (c.) Such intervention answers the end contemplated. The evil is removed. It is impossible, indeed, now to ascertain what the condition of the world would have been if there had been no such self-sacrifice in the cause of liberty and human rights, of the oppressed and the down-trodden, of the suffering and the sad. Long before this, so far as appears, the liberties of the world might have been trampled out effectually and forever, and the earth might have been wholly under the sway of oppression or made desolate by war; just as, in a somewhat parallel case, the world would have been wholly overrun by wild beasts, reptiles, and monsters if there had been no resistance on the part of man, nothing done to check their growth and triumph.
(d.) This arrangement brings into exercise, if not into existence itself, a higher virtue than could otherwise have been developed, if it would have existed at all. It is undeniable that some of the loftiest virtues exhibited on the earth are those which are manifested in the benevolence shown to the suffering; in attendance on the sick; in the defence of the rights of man; in the establishment of liberty; in founding and sustaining hospitals and asylums for the insane, the deaf, the blind. Many of the very highest virtues ever exhibited on earth have been developed, if not absolutely created, in this manner. And they are mere virtues. They are acts of pure benevolence. What is done would not have been necessary if there had been no evil to be repaired, no suffering to be alleviated, no wrong to be redressed, no sin to be checked or forgiven. These virtues might have existed, indeed, in the germ,—as all these virtues may be supposed thus to exist in a perfectly holy being—but they could not have been developed; and it is not easy to see how, except to an omniscient being, their existence could have been known. Under the existing arrangement, however, the virtues thus created or developed may be regarded as absolute gain in the moral system; that is, there is just so much more in the system to be seen and admired, to contribute to the honour of the individual or the good of the whole, and to display the character of God. We cannot, indeed, suppose a watch to be made to go wrong in order to show the skill of the watchmaker in correcting the evil; or a tree to be so made that it would be injured in order to show the wisdom of the Creator in arranging a healing process; or a limb to be so made that it would be broken in order to show the art and benevolence of surgery in the process of healing; or man made to be a sufferer in order to develop the virtues of benevolence in attending on the sick and in founding hospitals; but, on the supposition that a watch does go wrong, or that a tree is injured, or that a bone is broken, or that man is a sufferer, we can see how the wisdom and benevolence evinced in repairing the evil become the occasion of originating or developing a new and peculiar order of virtues in the world, and thus the source of a positive gain in the cause of virtue. The result may be set down as something absolutely gained in the great system of things on the earth; something which but for this could not have been known.
May it not be possible that these principles may have a more general prevalence in the universe, and influence the minds of the dwellers in other worlds? Is it unreasonable to suppose that what we regard as so great a virtue on earth may be found to exist among heavenly beings? And as among those beings there can be no suffering to relieve, no sick-beds to visit, none who are oppressed and down-trodden that need the interposition of others to deliver them, none who are insane, deaf, blind, needing the sympathy and care of others, may we not regard it as probable—or, at least, as not improbable—that the sympathy of those beings may find an opportunity for developing itself by coming to the aid of those of an humbler order—the dwellers on earth—who do need such sympathy? May we not, therefore, suppose that angelic beings might stoop to self-denial and self-sacrifice in behalf of man? Would it be a departure from this great principle if the feeling of sympathy should be found in a still higher form in the bosom of one related to the Eternal Father as the Son of God is represented to be, and that he should be willing to come to the earth to illustrate the principle on the highest scale possible by making an atonement for the sins of the world?
TV". In illustration of the same point, we may refer to the fact that there have been expectations widely cherished that an atonement would be made for sin, expectations founded on what were regarded as Divine predictions. At this stage of the argument it would not be logical to assume that the predictions in the Old Testament are really of Divine origin; nor, in the view in which I propose to consider them, would it be necessary to assume that they had such an origin; but they may be referred to as showing what, for some reasons, however it may be explained, have been the anticipation, in the mind of man on the subject. We may, therefore, in this view of the case, and at this point in the argument, look at the Hebrew prophets, not as acknowledged prophets, but as men giving utterance to an expectation, laid somehow in the nature of man, that there would be in future times such an interposition in behalf of our world as would be implied in the work of the atonement.
The fact here referred to is this: That there existed from time to time in Judea a remarkable class or succession of men, known by the appellation of 'prophets,' who undoubtedly entertained the belief that an atonement for sin would be made at some future time, and who proclaimed this as the foundation of an extensive national hope and belief. The peculiarity in the case was, that it was not a single man who did this under the influence of high poetic feeling, as Virgil may have done,* but that these men appeared sometimes in groups and sometimes in succession; that their appearing was not the result of any system of education and was not regulated in any precise order; that they did not always, or even commonly, spring out of the established order of the priesthood; that they had as prophets nothing to do in offering the sacrifices which typified an atonement; that they were of different ranks of society, now springing up in the lowest grades of social life and employment, and now in the most elevated; that their predictions were sometimes in prose and sometimes in song; that they were all men of eminent moral worth,— men who gave evidence that they walked with God,—men who, from some cause, had an insight into the Divine purposes and counsels which was not vouchsafed to the community at large. Besides these traits which characterized them as an order of men, there are three other things to be noticed as bearing on the point before us. (a.) The first is, that they all claimed to have been sent from God, and to speak in the name of God. (6.) The second is, that they founded their predictions on that fact, and never assumed that they were the utterances of their own genius, (c.) The third thing is, that these utterances were undoubtedly made before the appearing of Jesus of Nazareth on the earth, and, consequently, before any claim was set up by his followers that he had died to make an expiation for the sins of men.
* In the Pollio.
The burden of their message, as I shall now show, was, that there would be in some future time a deliverer from sin; that one would come who would be a voluntary sacrifice for the transgressions of the world; that by the sacrifice which he would make he would supersede all the sacrifices which were then appointed to be made; that he would introduce a new economy, under which men would be pardoned, purified, and saved; that by his substituted sufferings, his sorrows and his death, the malady of sin would be healed.
The predictions on this subject may be arranged in two classes: such as express an anticipation in general that a remarkable personage or deliverer would come; and such as describe his work as making a sacrifice or expiation for sin.
Of the former class are such statements as the following. "The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be." (Gen. xlix. 10.) "And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the Lord." (Isa. lix. 20.) "And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come." (Haggai ii. 7.) "Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me; and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts." (Mai. iii. 1.) "And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, aud a branch shall grow out of his roots; and the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord." (Isa. xi. 2.) "Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy. Know, therefore, and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem, unto the Messiah the Prince, shall be seventy weeks, and threescore and two weeks." Dan. ix. 24, 25.
These passages illustrate the undoubted fact that among the Hebrew people there was a class of men, claiming to be sent from God, who announced that a remarkable personage would appear in some future time, under the general character of a deliverer; and they furnish at the same time a reason for what is as undoubted a fact that this expectation obtained a general prevalence among their countrymen.
The other class of passages pertains more definitely to the point now before us. They are such as served to excite the expectation that that personage would be a sufferer; that his life would be cut off by violence and injustice; and that somehow by his sufferings and death he would lay the foundation for the pardon of sin.
The passages now referred to are such as the following:—"And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, But Not For Himself." (Dan. ix. 26.) "In the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease." (Dan. ix. 27.) "Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people, and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness." (Dan. ix. 24.)* "And in this mountain [in Jerusa lem] shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined. And in this mountain he will destroy the face of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces." (Isa. xxv. 6, 7, 8.) "He [the Messiah] is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief." "He hath home our griefs and carried our sorrows." "He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities." "The chastisement of our peace," that is, the chastisement by which our peace is effected, "was upon him." "With his stripes we are healed." "The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." "He was cut off out of the land of the living." "For the transgression of my people was he stricken." "When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin." "He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall justify many, for he shall bear their iniquities." "He bare the sin of many." Isa. liii. 3-11.*
* For an illustration of these passages, and for proof that they refer to the Messiah and to his death as an atoning sacrifice for sin, I may be permitted to refer to my Notes on Daniel in loc.
In reference to these texts of Scripture as bearing on the point before us, two remarks may be made:—
(a.) If they are admitted to be a Divine communication, they settle the point that there was a wellfounded presumption that an arrangement would be made for an atonement. They show that the prevailing expectation that an atonement would be made was more than a presumption founded on the analogies of nature. They explain how the anticipation sprung up in the human mind, and they justify all the expectations of an atonement that were ever cherished in the world. They serve, too, to explain how it was that sacrifices considered as types were kept up so long and with so much interest in Judea, and how the Hebrew people were cheered with the hope that a period would arrive when the necessity of sacrifices would cease and their painful and expensive offerings would come to an end.
(b.) If they are not regarded as a Divine communication, then the fact that they were uttered must be explained in some other way. That such utterances were made, and that they became a permanent record, stimulating the hopes of men and laying the foundation of a widely-cherished expectation, is an undoubted fact; and the only question, so far as pertains to the point now before us, is, how they are to be accounted for, or what is their origin. If not of Divine origin, they must either have been suggested by some instinctive feeling of the soul, or by some observed analogies of nature, or by some prevailing belief in regard to the character of God, or by some floating fragmentary tradition; and in either case they would illustrate and confirm the position now before us, that there was some ground or reason for supposing that God would interpose in behalf of mankind, or that some arrangement would be made for removing the evils of sin. All these things combined—the fact that there was a general expectation in the world that a deliverer would come; the fact that there are remedial arrangements for the removal of physical evils; the fact that dangers are often prevented or removed by personal sacrifices; and the fact that there were expectations and announcements, claiming to be of Divine origin, that an atonement would be made—may be regarded as demonstrating the probability that an arrangement would be made to meet the evils of sin and to remove the difficulties in the way of pardon.
* For an illustration of these passages, and for proof that they refer to the Messiah and to the atonement, I may be permitted also to refer to my Notes on Isaiah in loc