Formally considered, sin is not, with respect to God, of the nature of a personal injury, but an offence against his law and government. “He that committeth sin transgresseth also the law, for sin is the transgression of the law.” As sin is not to be viewed, in regard to God, as a private offence, so divine punishment is not to be considered as an act of private revenge, but as an act of retributive justice for the vindication of law and government. Were sin to be viewed, as committed against God, as a private injury, and divine punishment as of the nature of private revenge, there would be no room for satisfaction by substitution; for revenge will rest satisfied with nothing short of the ruin of its object. But since sin is an offence against the law and government of God, and punishment, under his administration, is for the vindication of the honour of his law and government, if this end of punishment can be gained even more effectually by satisfaction from a surety than it could possibly be by the eternal destruction of the sinner, the doctrine of satisfaction by substitution must be compatible with the honour of God’s law and moral administration.
George Stevenson, The Offices of Christ