The Satisfaction of Christ’s Death | James Durham

satisfaction-of-christs-deathJames Durham

A Commentary Upon the Book of Revelation

Chap. V, Lecture II

pp. 295-299

Concerning the nature of Christs death, or, if it be properly a satisfaction.

Beside what Observations have been already hinted at and held forth from this Chapter, there are two more; which being clear of themselves from the words, and contributing much to the clearing of two concerning Truths, in these dayes not a little controverted; we may insist a little more in speaking to them, as the place giveth ground. The one, is, concerning the nature, the other, is, concerning the extent of the merit of Christs death.

The first Observation, is, That Christs death and sufferings are properly a price and satisfaction for sin, and were purposly offered unto the Justice of God as such. So that when the Majesty of God (to say so) was wronged by the sin of man, and when (at least, by the necessity flowing from the established Law and Curse) there behoved to be a satisfaction to Justice, before any sinner could be freed from the sentence, Then our Lord Jesus did offer Himself to suffer in the room of the Elect for the satisfying of Justice; which accordingly was afterward performed by Him, and, upon that account, accepted by God. The scope of this Doctrine, is, to shew, first, That not only Christs death and sufferings were for the confirmation of the Doctrine He preached: Nor yet, in the second place, only to give thereby a patern of obedience to us: for, these two may be, and are in the death and sufferings of many Martyrs; and to attribute no more to the death of Christ, is blasphemous: Nor, in the third place, only to procure to Himself this prerogative of forgiving sinners their sins freely: for, Christ, being God, had power with the Father to forgive sins before His becoming Man: and even this pretended end, doth imply Christs death to be a price for making of a purchase, seing it supponeth, that He, by honouring God, and doing what was pleasant to Him, did procure this priviledge to forgive others freely; which certainly doth imply, that these sufferings of His had a meritorious and satisfying vertue before God. But these ends of the Socinians, being such as destroy the God-head and personality of our Lord Jesus, as the second Person of the Trinity; and being purposly moulded for the supporting of that blasphemy, We need not stand much upon the disproving of them; but, we say, beyond these our Lord Jesus His death was purposly intended by Him, and actually accepted by JEHOVAH as a proper price and satisfaction.

To clear this a little, when we speak of satisfaction, these things shortly are intended. First, That as a man had made himself liable to the curse for provoking of God, and (to speak after the manner of men, as most of all this must be understood) thereby had wronged the Majesty of God, by daring to disobey Him and to slight His Authority; so there is in Christs taking on of that debt, and humbling of Himself to suffer for the same, a proportionablnesse, and an equivalencie for the vindicating of the Glory of the Holinesse, Justice, and Soveraignty of God, and to make these shine more, than if the sinners had been actually put-at for satisfying in their own persons: for, that the Fathers fellow-equal, and only begotten Son should humble Himself and become Man, and in that nature suffer; and that the Majesty of God should make His Sword awake against Him, and smite Him, &c. doth much more abundantly declare and set forth the Justice of God, that will prosecute His threatnings, and His Soveraignty and Authority, in that He is obeyed and submitted unto, by such an excellent Person, as His only begotten Son, than if either man had not sinned, or he who is but a wretched creature should have been casten into Hell: for by this, Justice had never been satisfied, nor had the Authority of God been manifested by such a glorious instance as the obedience of the Man Christ Jesus. So that we are to conceive of satisfaction, in this matter, as that word useth to be understood amongst men, that is, when an injured, or wronged person, is appeased and satisfied in reference to the party that hath done him injury, by the interveening recompence and satisfaction of some other, purposly, by such an equivalent compensation, intending the same. Secondly, When we speak of satisfaction in this case, it doth respect Gods purpose and intention in designing the death and sufferings of the Mediator for this very end in the Covenant of Redemption: so that when there was no imaginable satisfaction to be expected from creatures, whereby there might be a vindication of Gods Justice, that so way might be made to pardon Elect sinners; for this very end, a Body was designed and prepared for the Mediator; and, as it is, Isa. 53.6. The Lord laid upon Him the iniquities of us all, and in His counsel and decree, did appoint Him, who knew no sin, to become sin for others, and thereby as a Cautioner to be liable to their debt. Thirdly, This also is intended, that the Mediator, in His accepting of the offer, and in laying down of His life, did purposly intend thus to satisfie: for, when Sacrifices and Burnt-offerings, &c. could not please God, nor satisfie Him in this respect, Then did the Son willingly undertake with delight to do Gods will, as it is, Psal. 40.6, 7, &c. And it is on this ground, that Christ is called the Cautioner, Heb. 7.22. because He undertook the satisfying for our debt; and upon this ground, was there accesse in Justice to exact it of Him, though He Himself knew no sin. For which, see Isa. 53.7, and 10, 2Corinth. 5.21. In the fourth place, this is included, That by the Lord JEHOVAH, the offended party, this death and willing suffering of our blessed Lord Jesus, was actually accepted, as satisfactory and well-pleasing to Him, in the room and stead of these who had offended; so that thereby He, in the order agreed upon, doth lay by quarrels at the offending party, as men do discharge the principal Creditor the debt, when the Cautioner hath satisfied in his name. Hence the Lord pronounceth often, that in His beloved Son He is well pleased, and that He hath found a ransom, Iob 33. vers. 24. and from this it is, that His death is called a Propitiation, as being acceptable to God, when other Sacrifices could not be. That in these respects, Christs death is truely a satisfaction for sin, may from this Text thus be made out:

First, If by Christs death we be redeemed, and if the effect flowing from His death be a Redemption, Then is His death (under which all His sufferings are comprehended) a proper price and satisfaction for sin; But the former is true. Therefore, &c. There is a double strength in this Argument to make out the Connexion, first, in the word Redemption: Which, (as we shew in the exposition) beside other things, doth imply, 1. That sinners by sin are sold and mor-gaged, and the Law, and Curse have obtained a right over them. 2. That, at least, in respect of that established Law and Curse (that day thou eatest, thou shalt die) there was no dissolving of that right, but by some interveening satisfaction: otherwise the Lord, who pronounced it, might be thought not to be just and true in His threatnings. 3. This is implyed, that when men and creatures could give no price, our Lord Jesus did actually undertake, and accordingly did pay, Therefore it is a Redemption, because it is a freedom that was bought; and He is a Redeemer, because He did buy it, and satisfie for it: and this expression, being borrowed from the manner of men, will infer no lesse, as is said. The second part of the strength of the Argument, is in this, That this Redemption is attributed to His death, and bloud, Thou hast redeemed us by Thy bloud; and these, put together, make it exceeding strong: for, the very price of the Redemption is thereby clearly held forth. So, if it be asked, Why is Christ called a Redeemer? Answ. Because He redeemed us. If again it be said, Wherewith did He redeem us, or, With what price? It is answered, with His bloud; And indeed there can be no other reason why so frequently our Redemption is attributed to His death, but because His death cometh-in in a peculiar respect thereunto; so that when we (as once Isaac was to his father) were lying obnoxious to the stroke of Gods Justice, He offered Himself in our room (as there was a Ram provided in the place of Isaac) that thereby we might escape, as it is, 2 Cor. 5.21. Gal. 3.13, 14. He redeemed us from the curse, being Himself made a curse for us; which must be understood, to be in our stead.

Secondly, (which is almost one with the last branch of the former) It is clear by this, that all the good that cometh to the redeemed, is still reckoned as the effect and purchase of Christs suffering; which must respect the merit and efficacy of His bloud, as by way of satisfaction procuring the same. And in this respect, it may be said singularly of the Mediator, the second Person of the God-head, that He hath procured this Redemption, otherwise than can be said of the first and third Person of the blessed Trinity. Therefore also we are said to be loved by him, and washen by his own bloud, Chap. 1.5. But of this Argument was spoken in the former.

Thirdly, This is brought as the Song of all the redeemed, and as that which will agree to all of them, when the Congregation of the first-born shall be brought together: Now, what other influence can the bloud of Christ have upon these who were redeemed by Him, from the foundation of the world, and before His death, when the example thereof could have no effect, or upon young ones, upon whom His sufferings can have no morall influence by opening or confirming to them Doctrinally the way to Heaven? and yet, both these may well be capable of the efficacy thereof, as it is considered as a satisfaction: now, considering that all the redeemed, are equally, and in the same respects, oblieged to Christs death for their life, and for that cause do joyntly concur in the same Song of praise; we must either say, that none such as have been formerly instanced, are saved; or, we must say, that they are all saved without any respect to His sufferings: both which, are false and absurd: or, lastly, we must acquiesce in this, That by Christs sufferings, as by a satisfaction, this was procured to them; and therefore consequently, that His death is to be considered as such, seing no otherwise it can have influence on their Redemption. And there being but one Redemption, and one way by which it is procured, to wit, Christs death; and one Song, comprehending the acknowledgement of all the redeemed; and seing to some, it must be a satisfaction: Therefore it must be esteemed to be so, in reference to all others also, who are, or shall be partakers thereof.

Fourthly, This fruit of His death, to wit, Redemption, is peculiar to some of all Kindreds, and Nations, and is not common to all. It must therefore be considered as flowing from His death, as a satisfaction meritoriously procuring the same: otherwise, these effects, which may follow upon His confirming His Doctrine by His death, giving an example to others, &c are common indifferently to all that are bearers of the Gospel: for, in these respects He is so, and doth so to all. This therefore, being peculiar to some, (as the next Doctrine will further clear) must be understood as qualified by the Covenant of Redemption to be for the satisfying in the room of such and such, and not of others: which consideration doth plainly bring it to the notion of a satisfaction.

Fifthly, There is a speciall emphasis and significancy in this, that Thou hast redeemed us by Thy bloud, &c. which doth respect the excellency of the Person who did lay down His bloud for making of this purchase. It is Thou, who art the first and last, who was dead, and is alive, and liveth for ever, who art the Son of God; yea, who art God, Act. 20.28. as was more fully cleared, Chap. 1.4. for, Thou and Thy, relate to the Person described by such titles in the former part of this Prophesie. This doth give ground for this Argument, If the purchase made by the bloud of Jesus Christ be such as could be made by none, but by the bloud of Him who was, and is God, Then His death and sufferings for that end, must be a satisfaction, and by their merit and efficacy procure the Redemption purchased; But the former is true. Therefore, &c. The reasons of the consequence, are, because, First, all the other ends of suffering may be in the sufferings of a meer man. Secondly, There were not need of such an excellent price, if the merit and worth thereof did not concur, by way of satisfaction, for obtaining of this Redemption. Thirdly, This respect to the excellency of the Person, sheweth where-from mainly their Redemption doth flow, to wit, that the Person dying, was of such worth; and that therefore His death and sufferings are accounted of great price before God. And lastly, There is here a clear opposition, Thou hast redeemed us by Thy bloud, that is, Thou, who art God, hast condescended to lay down Thy life, and shed Thy bloud for us who were of little worth: which doth import, that His sufferings were estimated in the stead of what should have been other wayes exacted from them.

These Arguments will be the more clear, if we consider that opposition which is made by the Apostle, Rom. 5. betwixt our blessed Lord Jesus, the second Adam, and the first Adam, of whom men have their sinfull being: for, in that comparison and opposition, Christ is not only made the Author of life to these that are by Faith His seed, as the first Adam was the author of death to these that descend from him; but also and especially in this, that as by the disobedience and transgression of Adam, death was brought upon his Posterity, as being procured by the guilt and demerite (to speak so) of that offence; So by the obedience, Righteousnesse and sufferings of the other, life and freedom from the dominion of sin is purchased, and that by way of merit and satisfaction equivalent to the former offence. For, as by Adams fall, the Holinesse and Justice of God were wronged, So by the obedience of the second Adam, they were wonderfully made to shine. And this being the Apostles scope, to compare these two Adams together, both in respect of the opposite effects that flow from them to their seed, and in respect of the opposite means by which these are procured, This which is asserted must necessarily follow.

It is also observable, and doth exceedingly confirm, the truth laid down, and discover the horridnesse of the opposite blasphemie, that the denying of Christs death to be a satisfaction, and the denying of His blessed God-head, are so knit together, that the asserting of the one, doth infer the other. Therefore these wretched Socinians, who denie the eternall God-head, and the personality of the second person of the God-head, must also denie the merit and excellency of His obedience in His death, without which it could not be a satisfaction. But, on the contrary, the redeemed, who have the right thoughts of Christs God-head, have also this impression of His death, that it is a satisfaction laid down in their name; upon both which grounds, they praise in this Song, to wit, that so excellent a Person should redeem them by so excellent a price as the bloud of God: and this doth demonstrate their engagement to Him, that when (upon supposition of the threatned curse, at least) there was no other that could undertake their debt, or satisfie for them, but He who was God, That even then He, who was the Son of God, did undertake the same. We are perswaded, that all who ever shall share in this Song, shall acknowledge both these truths, and heartily blesse the Son of God for making satisfaction by His bloud. And considering that the Abbettors of this blasphemie do by this denie the God-head of our blessed Lords Person, and altogether make void the efficacy of His Sacrifice and Priestly office, so that neither His Person nor His Offices are acknowledged by them, which yet are the two great and solid foundations of Christianity, Therefore they are not worthy to be disputed with, nor accounted Christians; but rather to be joyned with, and reckoned among, Heathens, or the followers of Mahomet and the receivers of His Alcaron. For which cause, Christians would guard against this most horrid Errour, as being most blasphemous against the Mediator, and most destructive to their own Salvation; for, by these grounds, they can neither have a Redeemer, nor a Redemption. It is reported of Socinus, (the great Patron of this blasphemie, by a Learned man, to wit, Cameron, who writeth that he had it from one of his disciples) that he privately denied the world to be made of nothing, lest thereby he should be necessitated to acknowledge the infinitenesse of Gods power; which afterward was more publickly avowed and contended-for by some of his followers. What horrible things are there, that mens corruptions will not conceive and foster? and what hieght or depth will not the devil drive men to, where he getteth liberty? These things have ever been abhorred as most detestable, even as to the very mentioning of them; yet this horrid blasphemie wanteth not its Patrons in this spring-time of Errour: And therefore men ought to walk the more circumspectly in reference to the same.


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