I having in what goes before said enough for the opening of the true notion of our Savior’s expiating of sin, under the present head I have but two things further to speak unto—the one referring to the nature of the act, the other to the extent of the act.

1. As to the nature of the act, know that Christ hath so expiated sin’s guilt as that it shall never be imputed to the believing sinner, in order to the inflicting of eternal punishment upon him. This must be rightly apprehended, or else we shall run ourselves upon great mistakes. When you read of the expiating, condemning, taking away of sin, (and so on in the other expressions named but now,) you are not only to understand them as pointing to the removal of sin’s guilt, in their proper and primary intention, but also as holding forth no more about that removal of guilt than the non-imputation thereof to punishment. Christ indeed, by the sacrifice of himself, hath done all that which I am speaking of; but how? Not but that believers have yet guilt upon them; that that guilt, as considered in itself, makes them liable to the penalty threatened; that the formal intrinsic nature of guilt, viz., obligation to punishment, doth yet remain, and is the same in them which it is in others. All, therefore, which it amounts unto is only this, that this guilt shall not be charged upon such, or imputed to them for eternal condemnation. Sin is sin in the godly as well as in the ungodly; thereupon there is guilt upon them as well as on the other, and upon this guilt they are equally obnoxious to the law’s sentence. But now here comes in the expiation by the obedience, death, satisfaction of Christ, by which things are brought to this happy issue, that though this be so, yet these persons shall be exempted from wrath and hell, and the punishment deserved shall not be inflicted. Thus far we may safely go, but beyond this we cannot; we may, for the encouraging of faith, the heightening of comfort, set this sin-expiatory act of Christ very high, but we must not set it so high as to assert contradictions. But these things will be more fully stated when I .shall come to the handling of the main doctrine of justification.

2. For the extent of the act, that must be considered two ways; either as it respects the subject for which this expiation was wrought, or as it respects the object, the thing expiated.

As to its extent in reference to the subject. And so Christ’s expiatory sacrifice reaches, (1.) both to Jew and Gentile; not to the one or to the other exclusively, but to both: 1 John ii. 2, ‘And he is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.’ (2.) To those who lived under the law, as well as to those who now live under the gospel. The former had the benefit of Christ’s expiation of sin as well as the latter: Rom. iii. 2.5, ‘Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness, for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God’—where by sins past you are to understand those that were committed under the first testament, before Christ’s coming in flesh. So the apostle opens it: Heb. ix. 15, ‘And for this cause he is the mediator of the New Testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.’ Nay (3.) there is a sufficiency of virtue and merit in Christ’s sacrifice to expiate the sins of all men in the world. Yet (4.) in point of efficacy it extends no further than to true believers. Others may receive some benefits by a dying Christ; but this of the full and actual expiation of sin belongs only to those who have saving faith wrought in them. As this which I here assert is matter of controversy, I have no mind to engage in it. As it is practically to be improved and enlarged upon, so I shall speak to it in the use; therefore at present I will say no more to it.

Thomas Jacombe, Sermons on the Eight Chapter of the Epistle to the Romans (Edinburgh: James Nichol, 1868), 309-310. [Some spelling modernized, underlining mine.]

[Notes: Jacombe here echoes Thomas Aquinas on this verse, and this view was later taken up by Charles Hodge.]

Credit to Tony for the find

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