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Jeremiah Sullivan Black

As a matter of fact, Jesus Christ died that sinners might be reconciled to God, and in that sense He died for them; that is, to furnish them with the means of averting Divine justice, which their crimes had provoked. A man who, by any contrivance, causes his own offenses to be visited on the head of an innocent person is unspeakably depraved. But are Christians guilty of this baseness, because they accept the blessings of an institution which their great Benefactor died to establish? Loyalty to the King who erected a most magnificent government for us at the cost of His life — fidelity to the Master who bought us with His blood — is not the fraudulent substitution in place of the criminal.

— from “The Claims of the Christian Religion,” in North American Review (1881), by Jeremiah Sullivan Black


Jeremiah Sullivan Black (1810–1883) was a member of president James Buchanan’s administration, first as the United States attorney general from 1857–1860 and then as secretary of state from 1860 to 1861. As attorney general, he successfully challenged 19,000 square miles of California land claimed by squatters and the Mexican government. A self-educated man, Black would be admitted to the Pennsylvania bar as a minor. He is considered one of the preeminent practitioners of the law in U.S. history.

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