The Atonement; Smiting and Atonement; Sufferings of Christ

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MY DEAR BROTHER,-As to your question as to page 36 [" Collected Writings," vol. vii. p. 305], " This is not atonement, but there is sorrow and smiting"-they had better read what the scripture does say, and see if they believe it, and seek to be taught of God, and whether they understand what is there, than pervert expressions to make them obnoxious. When it is said, "Those whom thou hast wounded" (Psalm Nil-. 26, 27), it cannot mean atonement. The effect of atonement is not to say, "Add iniquity unto their iniquity, and let them not come into thy righteousness." I say that atonement is not considered here, but the contrary. I believe the smiting was on the cross, and that there the atonement was wrought, but by the forsaking of God as to His soul; He was wounded there for Israel's transgressions; and scripture thus brings all into one point. But the smiting, or fact of His death, is not solely applied to atonement; it is referred to as cutting Messiah off instead of His taking the kingdom, or the sorrow of death itself; and it is looked at here certainly not as atoning in its effect, though the fact of His being smitten (when atonement was wrought) is spoken of. I believe the cutting off of Messiah is looked at fully in the Psalms as well as atonement. "He weakened my strength in my journey; he shortened my days. I said, O my God, cut me not off in the midst of my days" (Psa. 102:23, 2423He weakened my strength in the way; he shortened my days. 24I said, O my God, take me not away in the midst of my days: thy years are throughout all generations. (Psalm 102:23‑24)): this was not the aspect of atonement, though in that in which it was done atonement also was wrought. The thought is separated in scripture. "Smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered," is not, "I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." It is mischievous to confound anything with the true work of atonement in the forsaking of God on the cross; and the fact of the removal of Messiah so as to scatter Israel, even the just, is contemplated in scripture, and spoken of distinctly. I have not said there were blows which were not atonement, but this-sufferings in which others are associated, is not atonement, though there is smiting and wounded ones spoken of.
As regards the second point. People• have taken the description of the state which they were in for whom Christ suffered, as if it was a statement of the state He was in; but for this there is no kind of ground. He entered into the sorrow and endured in His spirit what flowed from it, but He was not in it; and this I have frequently stated and went through it twenty years ago, in which I find this question was fully gone into as an answer to Newton. It is stated there,* "Christ, then, does enter in spirit into this sorrow of the remnant fully; but it is not His relation to God as due to Him as associated with the people." This is the tract which has been quoted to say I then thought such sufferings must be excluded. Christ went through what enabled Him to feel for people not reconciled to God. He was not in an unreconciled state; to say that would be blasphemy. But was not He dreading wrath? He had to go through really that which they are comparatively feebly dreading, and never will go through, because He has-He did go through the dread of death, and cried to be delivered from it. He went through it (as I have stated in the tracts) in a different way, because in communion with His Father (not speaking of atonement, but fearing). Was it not Satan's hour and the power of darkness, He perfect in going through it with God, as I have expressly said? People may call it experience, or anything they like, but if they make it His experience as flowing from the state He was in, it is what I have expressly denied. But the same reasoning would apply to the atonement, though it be—I admit it is—a very different case; but if the suffering a thing proved that one was in the state that caused the suffering, then He was in it then before God.
(*[" Collected Writings," vol. xv. p. 109.])
It is all a delusion applying the state He suffered for, and into the sorrow of which He entered, with being in the state which brings the sorrow. This last was Mr. N.'s doctrine -born in it, extricating Himself out of it. Supposing, as I have said, a mother had her son hanged for thieving, and she was in agony at one so dear to her coming to such an end, would that prove she was a thief, though he was in agony at coming to such an end too; or, that she had a thief's experience? Yet she is in an agony because of one she loves being in it: it is not mere sympathy—that she may show too—yea, conceal her distress to do so. There is the difference, that Christ really went on to take Himself the consequences. But it is the most extraordinary delusion to suppose that the description of the state a person is in spirit entering into, is a statement that he is in the state or relationship in respect of which he suffers.
I have never, dear brother, stood up for the expressions. I attach no importance to them—would give them all up tomorrow—have said so in the preface to the tract. But the question has now been raised as to the doctrine: it has been said to be pretty much the same as Mr. N.'s.
It is fully stated in my answer to him twenty years ago, as setting aside his doctrine, and chewing the true force of what he used. When the substance of the doctrine is cleared up, I shall have no difficulty in changing the expressions. The material thing at present is, is the doctrine dishonoring to Christ and false? Explain to any one that is stumbled, of course I am bound to do, but I do not hold to any expressions of it; only, I am not going to yield up the truth.
Your affectionate brother in Christ.
June 10th, 1866.