De Moor on God's Essential Vindicatory Righteousness: The Satisfaction of Christ, Part 4



And so nothing appears to remain, to which, as a sufficient, predisposing cause in God, we might trace all these sufferings, indeed, that death and curse, endured by Christ for us; after the sacrifices of the Law had foresignified that the shedding of blood was necessarily required for the expiation of sins, and that hence there was going to be a satisfaction by such a method in the future through a more worthy sacrificial victim for the sins of the Elect: nothing, I say, but that Avenging Righteousness of God, necessarily requiring a congruous avenging and satisfaction of it. In this my assertion (I suppose) the Benevolent Reader is going to place greater confidence, when I will have cited some passages of Sacred Scripture making especially for the confirmation of the same. And, first, those texts that treat of the imperfection of the Levitical Sacrifices appear worthy to be produced here: such are Hebrews 9:9, καθ᾽ ὃν δῶρά τε καὶ θυσίαι προσφέρονται, μὴ δυνάμεναι κατὰ συνείδησιν τελειῶσαι τὸν λατρεύοντα, in which (that is, καιρὸν/time) were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; Hebrews 9:23, ἀνάγκη οὖν τὰ μὲν ὑποδείγματα τῶν ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς, τούτοις καθαρίζεσθαι, αὐτὰ δὲ τὰ ἐπουράνια κρείττοσι θυσίαις παρὰ ταύτας, it was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these; Hebrews 10:1, σκιὰν γὰρ ἔχων ὁ νόμος τῶν μελλόντων ἀγαθῶν, οὐκ αὐτὴν τὴν εἰκόνα τῶν πραγμάτων, κατ᾽ ἐνιαυτὸν ταῖς αὐταῖς θυσίαις ἃς προσφέρουσιν εἰς τὸ διηνεκές, οὐδέποτε δύναται τοὺς προσερχομένους τελειῶσαι, for the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect; Hebrews 10:4, ἀδύνατον γὰρ αἷμα ταύρων καὶ τράγων ἀφαιρεῖν ἁμαρτίας, for it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. These same things, or nearly the same, the Apostle, proceeding to draw a conclusion from what precedes, repeats again in verse 11. When the Apostle so frequently and so expressly makes mention here of the absolute ἀδυναίαν/inability of the legal Sacrifices to make true expiation, and the ἀνάγκην/necessity of offering a more excellent Sacrifice; does he not appear to assert an intrinsic ἀδυναίαν/inability with respect to the thing itself and the nature of such sacrifices; namely, because through this sort of offering of brutes a sufficient λύτρον/ransom, requirded by Divine Righteousness, was not able to be paid to God on behalf of men: rather than that we should think of the impossibility arising from arbitrary institution? You will say, the Apostle did not add this: but neither did he add that he speaks concerning the impossibility arising from the mere divine constitution, although we do not deny the latter to be added to the former; and, while he absolutely makes mention of ἀδυναμίας/ inability, not adding whence this is to be derived, he appears altogether to favor our position. Let the most illustrious SCHMIDT be heard upon this matter, in his Commentario on Hebrews 9:23, But what is the ἀνάγκη/ necessity? For the matter itself does not appear to import any necessity, since God out of His own bare freedom established Levitical cleansing. Estius on this passage notes these things: What he says, it is necessary, indicates divine ordination, etc. But that necessity certainly does not appear to be sufficient; even indeed for this reason, that it was not consistent with the Sacrifice of Christ, which was necessary, not by reason of the divine constitution alone, but by reason of Justice and the matter itself, etc. We suppose the necessity of both (namely, of typical and heavenly things) to be founded in the matter itself and in divine Righteousness. For, the matter itself and divine Righteousness require the most excellent sacrifice of all, that it might be able to make satisfaction for the sins of men: and the matter itself requires that, when a satisfaction for our sins, to be furnished to divine Righteousness, must be suitably represented, it is in any event represented by the bloody sacrifices of brute beasts. And on Hebrew 10:4, Impossible denotes absolute impossibility: for, if it should denote only a relative impossibility, there would be a ταυτολογία/tautology here; since in verse 1 the Apostle already said that the Levitical sacrifices were not able to make perfect: that is, according to the circumstances of the divine ordination, which denied power to them. And so the argument of the Apostle is this: wherever there is an absolute impossibility of taking away sins, there nothing is left except the remembrance of sins, and by consequence perfection is not yielded. But in the blood of bulls and goats there is an absolute impossibility of taking away sins. Therefore, etc. The Major is evident of itself. The Minor is founded on the nature of the blood of goats and calves, which he will nevertheless confirm in verse 5, etc. And indeed, if by the very nature of the case it was impossible that God should be placated by such sacrifices, it does not appear that as sufficient for this, in contrast to the Sacrifice of Christ, absolute ἀδυναμία/inability is able so many times to be attributed to them. And I ask, if it would not have hindered this, whether it would not have been most agreeable to God, so that He might be able to spare His Son, to choose sacrifices of this sort for the redemption of the Elect, and somehow to cause His Righteousness to be testified to among men in their immolation?

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Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.

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