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p472 MY DEAR BROTHER, - I had little difficulty as to - 's letter, but on a scriptural word or phrase I never like to answer with out examining it thoroughly; one often learns oneself a good deal. As regards the use of reconciling the Father to us, it is quite evident that it cannot there* have the meaning of bringing back into favour, or it would be bringing back the Father into our favour, which is clearly not what the article means. Though in a certain sense, this is nearer the scriptural truth, absurd as it is when so stated; because God has wrought in perfect grace to win our confidence to Him, and so far to be in our good favour. The simple expression, baldly given, would of course be absurd and shocking, and I refer to it here to shew that, in the article, it is impossible to use it in the sense Mr. - would give to the word. His argument goes to another point: that the use of it in scripture as regards us, for it is confessedly never used of God expressly, is equivalent doctrinally to the use of it in the article as regards the Father. But this is a mistake, and begging the question. Reconciled means, he says, restored to favour: supposing it were so, it does not follow therefore that restoring us to favour was by changing God's feeling towards us. Reconciling does suppose hostility, as we see in scripture in ἐχθρός, "when we were enemies we were reconciled" - "alienated and enemies in our minds by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled." This leaves no doubt as to the meaning of ἐχθρός or καταλλάσσω. God is unchangeable in His nature and estimate of good and evil, and when we turn through grace, or the precious word of Christ is presented, that same righteous and perfect estimate does necessarily favour us. He is angry, and His anger is turned away: He is righteous and just to forgive. Hence "propitiate" is a true word, and God forbid it should be changed by any Socinian enfeebling of its force.

{*[Second Article, Church of England.]}

The nearest verbal justification to be had is "to make reconciliation for the sins of the people;" but there it is ἱλάσκεσθαι "to make propitiation:" so Christ is an ἱλασμός and an ἱλαστήριος. This is fundamental truth, and it is just because reconciling takes it off this ground, and puts it as if God was against us and Christ for us, so as to turn Him, that the expression is mischievous. And I do not think the Reformers were wholly clear of this, at any rate, in the liturgical part of their system. It is just the Popish view of the matter: only with them Christ has to be turned too, and Mary is the gracious person - 'that God retained justice unto Himself and granted mercy to her': 'He (Christ) finds Himself in the same disposition with the Father towards sinners, namely, to reject them; so that the difficulty is to induce Him to exchange the office of a judge for that of a supplicant': so Mary 'appeases the wrath of her Son.'

All this gives a false idea of God, even where Mary has nothing to say to it. The sense of unchangeable holiness cannot be too strong, so that propitiation is needed; but what weakens the sense of love in God Himself, as the source and spring of all, destroys the nature of Christianity. The Son of man must be lifted up, but God so loved that He gave His only-begotten Son. Now I must say that the article does not give this aspect to Christianity; nor am I aware of any that does, so as to correct the impression which it leaves. If I were to say you had done everything to reconcile your father to me, certainly I should not think that his love was the source of it all. Reconciling does suppose entering into good graces, where it is mutual, but that is properly διαλλάσσω, as in Matthew 5:24. And even in 2 Corinthians 5:18, the mind thinks of the world entering into favour with God, but by the activity of God's love, not by His being reconciled; and the work wrought is wrought, or sought to be wrought, in the world's mind, not in the mind of God: God was doing it. It was not done in Him, though the effect might be His favour. Καταλλάσσω is to change, even as money; and the change was to be wrought not in God's state but in the world's, though it might be true it is implied that His favour would thereon flow out. But reconciling Him is quite another thing. From man's nature we suppose hostility to an enemy, and favour to return on their being reconciled, particularly the last when there is authority. And so far Mr. - is right. But to apply this to God is just the evil. Hostis in Latin originally only meant a stranger, Cicero I think tells us. There is not a trace of such a meaning of ἐχθρός as - suggests* in the New Testament.

{*["One who is hated," or "under wrath."]}

Ever yours in Christ.