Moreover, the apostle testifies this revelation to be made from heaven. Even the most abandoned cannot but observe punishments of various kinds making havoc every where in the world, and innumerable evils brooding, as it were, over the very texture of the universe. But because they wish for and desire nothing more ardently, than either that there were no God, or that he paid no regard to human affairs, they either really ascribe, or pretend to ascribe all these things to chance, fortune, the revolutions of the stars and their influence, or finally, to natural causes. In order to free the minds of men from this pernicious deceit of atheism, the apostle affirms that all these things come to pass from heaven; that is, under the direction of God, or, by a divine power and providence punishing the sins and wickedness of men, and manifesting the justice of God. Thus, 'The Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven;' Gen. xix. 24. Which cities, by that punishment inflicted on them from heaven, he hath set up as an example, in every future age, to all those who should afterward persevere in the like impieties. To these considerations add, that the apostle, from this demonstration of the divine anger from heaven against the sins of men, argues the necessity of appointing an atonement through the blood of Christ; ver. 23-25. which would by no means follow, but upon this supposition, that that anger of God was such that it could not be averted without the intervention of an atonement.

But not to be tedious, it is evident that God, by the works of his providence, in the government of this world, gives a most copious testimony to his vindicatory justice, not inferior to that given to his goodness, or any other of his attributes; which testimony, concerning himself and his nature, he makes known, and openly exhibits to all by innumerable examples, constantly provided and-appointed for that purpose. He then who shall deny this justice to be essential to God, may for the same reason reject his goodness and long-suffering patience.

[ocr errors]

The fourth argument shall be taken from the revelation of that name, glory, and nature, which God hath exhibited to us in and through Christ; John i. 18. No man hath seen God at any time; the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him:' him who, though

he be light itself, and dwelleth in light inaccessible, yet in respect of us, who, without Christ are naturally blinder than moles, is covered with darkness. In creation, in legislation, and in the works of providence, God indeed hath plainly marked out and discovered to us certain traces of his power, wisdom, goodness, justice, and long-sufferance. But besides that, there are some attributes of his nature, the knowledge of which could not reach the ears of sinners but by Christ; such as his love to his peculiar people, his sparing mercy, his free and saving grace: and even others, which he hath made known to us in some measure, by the ways and means above-mentioned, we could have no clear or saving knowledge of, unless in and through this same Christ; for in him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge:' in him, God hath fully and clearly exhibited himself to us to be loved, adored, and known; and that not only in regard of his heavenly doctrine, in which he hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel ;" God finishing the revelation of himself to mankind, by the mission and ministry of his Son; but also exhibiting both in the person of Christ, and in his mediatorial office, the brightness of his own glory, and the express image of his person, he glorified his own name, and manifested his nature, to all those at least, who being engrafted into Christ, and baptized into his Spirit, enjoy both the Father and the Son. But in the whole matter of salvation by the Mediator, God-man, there is no excellence of God, no essential property, no attribute of his nature, the glory of which is the chief end of all his works, that he hath more clearly and eminently displayed than this punitory justice.

It was for the display of his justice, that he set forth Christ as a propitiation through faith in his blood. He spared him not, but laid the punishment of us all upon him. It was for this that he was pleased to bruise him, to put him to grief, and to make his soul an offering for sin.

The infinite wisdom of God, his inexpressible grace, free love, boundless mercy, goodness, and benevolence to men, in the constitution of such a Mediator, viz. a God-man,

ot more illustriously displayed, to the astonishment of d angels, in bringing sinful man from death, conion, and a state of enmity, into a state of life, of sal

• 2 Tim. i. 10.

vation, of glory, and of union and communion with himself, than is this punitory justice, for the satisfaction, manifestation, and glory of which, this whole scheme, pregnant with innumerable mysteries, was instituted. But that attribute, whose glory and manifestation God intended and accomplished both in the appointment of his only-begotten Son to the office of mediator, and in his mission must be natural to him. And there is no need of arguments to prove, that this was his vindicatory justice. Yea, supposing this justice, and all regard to it entirely set aside, the glory of God's love in sending his son, and delivering him up to the death for us all, which the Scriptures so much extol, is manifestly much obscured, if it do not rather totally disappear. For what kind of love can that be which God hath shewn, in doing what there was no occasion for him to do?

We will not at present enter fully into the consideration of other arguments by which the knowledge of this truth is supported; among which that of the necessity of assigning to God (observing a just analogy) whatever perfections or excellencies are found among the creatures, is not of the least importance. These we pass: partly that we may not be tedious to the learned reader; partly, because the truth flows in a channel, already sufficiently replenished with proofs. It would be easy, however, to shew that this justice denotes the highest perfection; and by no means includes any imperfection; on account of which it should be excluded from the divine nature; neither in the definition of it does one iota occur that can imply any imperfection; but all perfection, simple or formal, simply and formally is found in God. But when this perfection is employed in any operation respecting another being, and having for its object the common good, it necessarily acquires the nature of justice.

I shall not be farther troublesome to my readers; if what has been already said amount not to proof sufficient, I know not what is sufficient. I urge only one testimony more from Scripture and conclude.

It is found in Heb. x. 26. For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment, and fiery indignation.' But, perhaps

[ocr errors]

God will pardon without any sacrifice; the apostle is of a contrary opinion; where there is no sacrifice for sin,' he argues, that from the very nature of the thing, there must be 'a looking for of judgment and fiery indignation;' the very point that was to be proved.


I could heartily wish that some sinner, whose conscience, the hand of the omnipotent God hath lately touched, 'whose sore ran in the night and ceased not,' and whose 'soul refused to be comforted,' whose 'grief is heavier than the sand of the sea,' in whom the arrows of the Almighty stick fast, the poison whereof drinketh up the Spirit," were to estimate and determine this difficult and doubtful dispute. Let us, I say, have recourse to a person, who being convinced by the Spirit, of his debts to God, is weighed down by their burden, while the sharp arrows of Christ are piercing the heart; Psal. xlv. 5. and let us inform him, that God, with the greatest ease by his nod, or by the light touch of his finger, so to speak, can blot out, hide, and forgive all his sins. Will he rest satisfied in such a thought? Will he immediately subscribe to it? Will he not rather exclaim, 'I have heard many such things, miserable comforters are ye all? nay, ye are preachers of lies, physicians of no value.' The terrors of the Lord which surround me, and beset me day and night, you feel not; I have to do with the most just, the most holy, the supreme Judge of all, who will do right, and will by no means clear the guilty.' Therefore 'my days are consumed like smoke, and my bones are burnt as an hearth; my heart is smitten and withered like grass; so that I forget to eat my bread. By reason of the voice of my groaning, my bones cleave to my skin. I am afflicted and-ready to die from my youth up; while I suffer thy terrors, I am distracted. Thy fierce wrath goeth over me, thy terrors have cut me off;' I wish I were hid in the grave, yea, even in the pit, unless the judge himself, say to me, 'Deliver him from going down to the pit, I have found a ransom." Indeed, when the recollection of that very melancholy period comes into mind, when first God was pleased by his Spirit effectually to convince the heart of me, a poor sinner of sin, and when the whole of God's controversy with me


k Job vi. 2-4.
1 Job. vi. 2.
Psal. lxxxviii. 15, 16.


m Psal. cii. 3-5. • Job xxxiii. 24.

for sin is again presented to my view, I cannot sufficiently wonder what thoughts could possess those men, who have treated of the remission of sins, in so very slight, I had almost said, contemptuous a manner. But these reflections are rather foreign to our present business.


Another head of the first part of the dissertation. Arguments for the necessary egress of vindicatory justice from the supposition of sin. The first argument. God's hatred of sin; what. Whether God by nature hates sin, or because he wills so to do. Testimonies from holy Scripture. Dr. Twiss's answer. The sum of it. The same obviated. The relation between obedience as to reward, and sin as to punishment, not the same. Justice and mercy, in respect of their exercise, different. The second argument. The description of God in the Scriptures, in respect of sin. In what sense he is called a consuming fire. Twiss's answer refuted. The fallacies of the answer.

We have sufficiently proved, if I be not mistaken, that sinpunishing justice is natural to God. The opposite arguments, more numerous than weighty, shall be considered hereafter. We are now to prove the second part of the question, viz. that the existence and sin of a rational creature being supposed, the exercise of this justice is necessary. And granting what follows from what we have already said concerning the nature of justice, especially from the first argument, our proofs must necessarily be conclusive. The first is this


He who cannot but hate all sin, cannot but punish sin; for to hate sin is, as to the affection, to will to punish it; and as to the effect, the punishment itself. And to be unable, not to will the punishment of sin, is the same with the necessity of punishing it: for he who cannot but will to punish sin, cannot but punish it. For our God is in the heavens, he hath done whatsoever he pleaseth;' Psal. cxv. 3. Now, when we say that God necessarily punishes sin, we mean, that on account of the rectitude and perfection of his nature, he cannot possess an indifference of will to punish. For it being supposed that God hates sin, he must hate it either by nature, or by choice; if it be by nature, then we have gained 2 E


« VorigeDoorgaan »