Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. IV. Eighteenth Century
By William Law (16861761)
From The Spirit of Love
LOOK we now at the Scripture account of the nature of the atonement and satisfaction of Christ, and this will further show us, that it is not to atone, or alter any quality or temper in the divine mind, nor for the sake of God, but purely and solely to atone, to quench and overcome that death and wrath and hell, under the power of which man was fallen.
As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive. This is the whole work, the whole nature, and the sole end of Christs sacrifice of Himself; and there is not a syllable in Scripture that gives you any other account of it: it all consists, from the beginning to the end, in carrying on the one work of regeneration; and therefore the Apostle says, the first Adam was made a living soul, but the last or second Adam was made a quickening spirit, because sent into the world by God, to quicken and revive that life from above, which we lost in Adam. And He is called our ransom, our atonement, etc., for no other reason but because that which He did and suffered in our fallen nature, was as truly an efficacious means of our being born again to a new heavenly life, of Him and from Him, as that which Adam did, was the true and natural cause of our being born in sin, and the impurity of bestial flesh and blood.
And as Adam, by what he did, may be truly said to have purchased our misery and corruption, to have bought death for us, and to have sold us into a slavery under the world, the flesh, and the devil, though all that we have from him, or suffer by him is only the inward working of his own nature and life within us; so, according to the plain meaning of the words, Christ may be said to be our price, our ransom, and atonement, though all that He does for us, as buying, ransoming, and redeeming us, is done wholely and solely by a birth of His own nature and spirit brought to life in us.
The Apostle says, Christ died for our sins. Thence it is that He is the great sacrifice for sin, and its true atonement. But how and why is He so? The Apostle tells you in these words, The sting of death is sin. But thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. And therefore Christ is the atonement of our sins, when by and from Him, living in us, we have victory over our sinful nature.
The Scriptures frequently say, Christ gave Himself for us. But what is the full meaning, effect, and benefit of His thus giving Himself for us? The Apostle puts this out of all doubt, when he says, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify to Himself a peculiar people; that He might deliver us from this present evil world, from the curse of the law, from the power of Satan, from the wrath to come; or, as the Apostle says in other words, that He might be made unto us wisdom, righteousness, and sanctification.
The whole truth therefore of the matter is plainly this: Christ given for us, is neither more nor less than Christ given into us. And He is in no other sense our full, perfect, and sufficient atonement, than as His nature and spirit are born and formed in us, which so purge us from our sins, that we are thereby in Him, and by Him dwelling in us, become new creatures, having our conversation in heaven.
As Adam is truly our defilement and impurity by his birth in us, so Christ is our atonement and purification, by our being born again of Him, and having thereby quickened and revived in us that first divine life, which was extinguished in Adam. And therefore, as Adam purchased death for us, just so in the same manner, in the same degree, and in the same sense, Christ purchases life for us. And each of them solely by their own inward life within us.
This is the one Scripture account of the whole nature, the sole end, and full efficacy of all that Christ did, and suffered for us. It is all comprehended in these two texts of Scripture. (1) That Christ was manifested to destroy the works of the devil. (2) That as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive. From the beginning to the end of Christs atoning work, no other power is ascribed to it, nothing else is intended by it, as an appeaser of wrath, but the destroying of all that in man which comes from the devil; no other merits, or value, or infinite worth, than that of its infinite ability, and sufficiency to quicken again in all human nature that heavenly life that died in Adam.