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Of the Satisfaction of Divine Justice.

1.— Christ suffers and dies for sinners. A substitute for transgressors is found in the crucified Son of Mary. Divine Justice is satisfied. The atonement is made. Such are the expressions which are often heard in the creeds and teachings of the existing churches. Similar expressions are found in the Bible. “He is wounded for our transgressions; he is bruised for our iniquities.” “Behold the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world.” The true and interior meaning of such expressions, the meaning which is adapted to that higher development of the human race which exists at the present time,—may be supposed to be as follows.

2.— When we say that Christ suffered on the Cross, or suffered in any way, we make the inquiry in connection with such expressions, as we are constantly making the inquiry in other connections, Who and what is Christ? Christ is not merely an outward form, not merely a physical organization; but a living principle, a spiritual Essentiality or Divine Love;
Christ not only was but is. The Christ spirit — we do not say every man who bears outwardly the name of Christ, — but the Christ-spirit, the Essential Christ, does everything and suffers everything which can be justly done and suffered for transgressors. This is right. And nothing short of this is right. The Christ-spirit compared with any and every other principle of life, is the spirit of all knowledge, of all truth, of all joy, all glory. Freed from the disturbing and blinding influences of self, it sees where the sinner does not see; it knows where the sinner does not know. It has strength where the transgressor is weak. It has heaven in its present and its future, with the knowledge, that the sinner has no heritage of happiness, either now or hereafter if he continues in his sins. It is right therefore that the Essential Christ should suffer. It was right that he should suffer upon the Cross. It is right that he should suffer now.

4.— Divine Justice, the divine perception of the absolute right, requires that the true people of God should sympathize with, should act and should more or less suffer, for the good of sinners. Divine Justice is not satisfied, and cannot be satisfied, till this divine ransom of toil and suffering, — without which the Christ-spirit would fail to be the Christ-spirit, — is fully paid. The child of God who is not willing to act and suffer for God’s cause, by doing good to others who stand in need of his labors, cannot claim to be the child of God. And therefore it may be truly said, that Divine Justice in such a case is not satisfied. When Christ died justice was satisfied. He did that which it was right or just for him to do.

5.— At this point it is possible, that a simple illustration may aid us in understanding the subject. A person for instance is a physiologist. Through the good providence of God which has watched over him and instructed him, he has been made acquainted with the mechanism and laws of the human constitution; and understands perfectly what injurious and destructive results follow from intemperance in eating and drinking. I think that such a man is bound, in other words, that “divine justice” requires him to communicate such information to his brother man for his good; although it may cost him time, labor, opposition, rebuke, persecution. And when he has done his duty in this respect, then and not till then divine justice is satisfied.

If Christ, with all his knowledge and love, with his deep insight into the causes and consequences of sin, had failed to stand up as a teacher, or had failed to verify his teachings by patient endurance and suffering even unto death, he could not have said, “I have finished the work which Thou gavest me to do.” John 17:4. And it was in this way, that Christ or the Essential Love Life satisfied, what the divine or perfect justice required. A very different sort of satisfaction and nearly the reverse of what it is generally supposed to be.

6.— Now all who are Christ’s people, just so far as they are like Christ, possess the true Christ nature which is love, and are called to proclaim the truth, although this necessarily brings them into antagonism with error, which involves in the course of the conflict, more or less of trial and suffering. It is a great truth, therefore a permanent truth, if God’s people under any circumstances fail to labor and suffer for the good of transgressors up to the light which is given them, the divine justice fails to be satisfied. The cross therefore, namely, labor and suffering for the good of others, becomes a permanent fact, a divine and unchangeable necessity under a government of which God who is Love is the great Centre.