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HESE Lectures were prepared at the request
of the Committee of the Congregational Union of England and Wales, and were delivered in the Memorial Hall, Farringdon Street, during the months of February, March, and April in the present year.
Concerning the method which I have followed, there is little to be added to the explanations contained in the Lectures themselves. It may, however, be well to state that in
state that in illustrating the testimony of our Lord Jesus Christ and of His Apostles to the Fact of the Atonement, my intention is simply to show that the Death of Christ is conceived and described as being the objective ground on which we receive the Remission of sins. The premature attempt to construct a Theory of the Atonement on the basis of those descriptions of the Death of Christ which represent it as a Ransom for us, or as a Propitiation for the sins of the world, or on phrases in which Christ is described as dying for us, or dying for our sins, has been the mischievous cause of most of the erroneous Theories by which the glory of the Fact has been obscured.
Until we have considered the actual relations of the Lord Jesus Christ, both to the eternal Law of Righteousness which the sins of men have violated, and to the human race, and until we have discovered what light these relations throw upon the Fact that His Death is the ground on which sin is forgiven, - it appears to me that we are in no position to determine with any confidence to what extent the Death of the Lord Jesus Christ, which is described as a “ Ransom," is analogous to other ransoms, or to what extent the Death of Christ, which is described as a “ Propitiation,” is analogous to the propitiatory acts by which men are accustomed to allay the anger of those whom they may have offended, or to the propitiatory sacrifices by which the heathen have attempted to avert the displeasure of angry gods. These descriptions cannot be made the foundation of a theory of the Atonement, but they are sure tests by which we may ascertain the accuracy of a theory. Unless our conception of the Death of Christ gives a natural explanation of all the forms in which it is represented by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the writers