The mere bringing the question into the courts of law would have availed
nothing, had there not been provision made for so ordering their processes
and judgments that the sinner might be righteously acquitted; that God might
be ‘just and the justifier” (Rom 3:26), “a just God and a Saviour” (Isa 45:21);
that law might be brought to be upon the sinner’s side; his absolver, and not
This provision has been made by means of substitution, or transference of the
penalty from him who had incurred it to One who had not.
God has introduced the principle of substitution into His courts. There He sits
as judge, “just and justifying”; acting on the principle of transference or
representation; maintaining law, and yet manifesting grace: declaring that
“all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23); that “by the
deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in His sight, for by the law is
the knowledge of sin” (Rom 3:20); yet presenting a divine Surety, as “a
PROPITIATION through faith in His blood, to declare His RIGHTEOUSNESS for
the remission of sins that are past” (Rom 3:25).
Horatius Bonar, The Everlasting Righteousness