misdeeds, so there is an ethical demand of God?s nature that penalty follow sin.
The holiness of God has conscience and penalty for its correlates and consequences. Gordon, Christ of Today, 210 ? ?In old Athens, the rock on whose top sat the Court of the Areopagus, representing the highest reason and the best character of the Athenian state, had underneath it the Cave of the Furies.? Shakespeare knew human nature and he bears witness to its need of atonement. In his last Will and Testament he writes: ?First, I commend my soul into the hands of God, my Creator, hoping and assuredly believing, through the only merits of Jesus Christ my Savior, to be made partaker of life everlasting.? Richard III, 1:4 ? ?I charge you, as you hope to have redemption by Christ?s dear blood shed for our grievous sins, That you depart and lay no hands on me.? Richard II, 4:1 ? ?The world?s Ransom, blessed Mary?s Son.? Henry VI, 2d part, 3: ? ?That dread King took our state upon him, To free us from his Father?s wrathful curse.? Henry IV. 1st part, 1:1 ? ?Those holy fields, Over whose acres walked those blessed feet, Which fourteen hundred years ago were nailed For our advantage on the bitter Cross.? Measure for Measure, 2:2 ? ?Why, all the souls that are were forfeit once; And he that might the vantage best have took Found out the remedy.? Henry VI, 2d part. 1:1 ? ?Now, by the death of him that died for all!? All?s Well that Ends Well, 3:4 ? ?What angel shall Bless this unworthy husband? He cannot thrive Unless her prayers, whom heaven delights to hear And loves to grant, reprieve him from the wrath Of greatest justice.? See a good statement of the Ethical theory of the Atonement in its relation to God?s holiness, in Denney, Studies in Theology, 100-124.
Punishment is the constitutional reaction of God?s being against moral evil ? the self-assertion of infinite holiness against its antagonist and would be destroyer. In God this demand is devoid of all passion and is consistent with infinite benevolence. It is a demand that cannot be evaded, since the holiness from which it springs is unchanging. The atonement is therefore a satisfaction of the ethical demand of the divine nature, by the substitution of Christ?s penal sufferings for the punishment of the guilty.
John Wessel, a Reformer before the Reformation (1419-1489): ?ipse deus, ipse sacerdos, ipse hostia, pro se, de se, sibi satisfecit? = ?Himself being at the same time God, priest and sacrificial victim, he made satisfaction to himself, for himself. [ I.e., for the sins of men to whom he had united himself] and by himself [by his own sinless sufferings].?
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