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our point; if by choice, or because he wills it, then it is possible for him not to hate it; nay, he may even justly will the contrary, or exercise a contrary act about the same object for those acts of the divine will are most free, viz. which have their foundation in the will only; that is to say, that it is even possible for him to love sin; for the divine will is not inclined to any object, but that if it should be inclined to its contrary, that might, consistent with justice, be done. This reasoning Durandus agrees to, and this, Twiss urges as an argument: the conclusion then must be, that God may love sin, considered as sin:
The sons of circumcision may receive
The wond'rous tale, which I shall ne'er believe.-FRANCIS, HORACE.
For, God hates all workers of iniquity;' Psal. v. 5. ‘He calls it the abominable thing that he hateth;' Jer. xliv. 4. Besides these, other passages of Scripture testify that God hates sin, and that he cannot but hate it. Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity;' Hab. i. 13. On account of the purity of God's eyes, that is, of his holiness, an attribute which none hath ever ventured to 'deny, he cannot look on iniquity,' that is, he cannot but hate it. Thou art not a God that hast pleasure in wickedness,' says the psalmist; Psal. v. 4, 5. that is, thou art a God who hatest all wickedness, for 'evil shall not dwell with thee, and the foolish shall not stand in thy sight, thou hatest all the workers of iniquity.' Is it a free act of the divine will that he here describes, which might or might not be executed without any injury to the holiness, purity, and justice of God? or, the divine nature itself, as averse to, hating and punishing every sin? Why shall not the foolish stand in God's sight? Is it because he freely wills to punish them? or, because our God, to all workers of iniquity is a consuming fire? Not that the nature of God can wax hot at the sight of sin, in a natural manner, as fire doth after the combustible materials have been applied to it; but, that punishment as naturally follows sin, as its consequence, on account of the pressing demand of justice, as fire consumes the fuel that is applied to it.
But it is not without good reason that God, who is love,
so often testifies in the Holy Scriptures his hatred and abomination of sin, the wicked, and him that loveth violence, his soul hateth ;' Psal. xi. 5. Speaking of sinners, Lev. xxvi. 30. he says, and my soul shall abhor you.' He calls sin that abominable thing: there is nothing that God hates but sin, and because of sin only, other things are liable to his hatred. In what sense passions and affections are ascribed to God, and what he would have us to understand by such a description of his nature and attributes, is known to every body. But of all the affections of human nature, hatred is the most restless and turbulent, and to the person who is under its influence, and who can neither divest himself of it, nor give a satisfactory vent to its motions, the most tormenting and vexatious. For as it takes its rise from a disagreement with and dislike of its object, so that object is always viewed as repugnant and offensive: no wonder then, that it should rouse the most vehement commotions and bitterest sensations. But God, who enjoys eternal, and infinite happiness and glory, as he is far removed from any such perturbations, and placed far beyond all variableness or shadow of change, would not assume this affection so often, for our instruction, unless he meant clearly to point out to us this supreme, immutable, and constant purpose of punishing sin, as that monster, whose property it is to be the object of God's hatred, that is, of the hatred of infinite goodness, to be natural and essential to him.
The learned Twiss answers, 'I cannot agree, that God by nature equally punishes and hates sin, unless you mean that hatred in the Deity to respect his will as appointing a punishment for sin in which sense I acknowledge it to be true, that God equally, from nature and necessity, punishes and hates sin but I deny it to be necessary that he should either so hate sin, or punish it; if hatred be understood to mean God's displeasure, I maintain that it is not equally natural to God to punish sin, and to hate it; for we maintain it to be necessary that every sin should displease God; but it is not necessary that God should punish every sin.' The sum of the answer is this; God's hatred of sin is taken either for his will of punishing it, and so is not natural to God, or for his displeasure, on account of sin, and so is natural to him but it does not thence follow, that God necessarily
punishes every sin, and that he can let no sin pass unpunished.
But, first, This learned gentleman denies what has been proved; nor does he deign to advance a word to invalidate the proof. He denies that God naturally hates sin, hatred being taken for the will of punishing; but this we have before demonstrated both from Scripture and reason. would be easy, indeed, to elude the force of any argument in this manner. Afterward he acknowledges, that every sin must necessarily be displeasing to God; this, then, depends not on the free-will of God, but on his nature; it belongs then immutably to God, and it is altogether impossible that it should not displease him. This, then, is supposed, that sin is always displeasing to God, but that God may or may not punish it, but pardon the sin, and cherish the sinner, though his sin eternally displease him; for that depends upon his nature, which is eternally immutable. Nor is it possible, that what hath been sin, should ever be any thing but sin. From this natural displeasure, then, with sin, we may with propriety argue to its necessary punishment; otherwise, what meaneth that despairing exclamation of alarmed hypocrites? Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?'*
The learned doctor retorts; 'Obedience must necessarily please God, but God is not bound by his justice necessarily to reward it.' But the learned gentleman will hardly maintain, that the proportion between obedience as to reward, and disobedience as to punishment, is the same; for God is bound to reward no man for obedience performed, for that • is due to him by natural right; Luke xvii. 10. 'So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.' Psal. xvi. 2. My goodness extendeth not unto thee.' But every man owes to God obedience, or is obnoxious to a vicarious punishment; nor can the moral dependance of a rational creature on its Creator be otherwise preserved. The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life;' Rom. vi. 23.
Away, then, with all proud thoughts of equalling the proportion between obedience as to reward, and sin as to pu
a Isa. xxxiii. 14.
nishment. Who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen;' Rom. xi. 35, 36. What hast thou, O man, that thou hast not received? But if thou hast received it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?' 1 Cor. iv. 7. God requireth nothing of us but what he hath formerly given us, and therefore he has every right to require it, although he were to bestow no rewards. What? Doth not God observe a just proportion in the infliction of punishments, so that the. degrees of punishment, according to the rule of his justice should not exceed the demerit of the transgression? Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?' But beware, Dr. Twiss, of asserting, That there is any proportion between the eternal fruition of God, and the inexpressible participation of his glory, in which he hath been graciously pleased, that the reward of our obedience should consist, and the obedience of an insignificant reptile, almost less than nothing. Whatever dignity or happiness we arrive at, we are still God's
It is impossible, that he who is blessed for ever and ever, and is so infinitely happy in his own essential glory, that he stands in no need of us, or of our services; and who, in requiring all that we are, and all that we can do, only requires his own, can, by the receipt of it, become bound in any debt or obligation. For God, I say, from the beginning, stood in no need of our praise; nor did he create us that he might have creatures to honour him, but that agreeable to his goodness he might conduct us to happiness.
But he again retorts, and maintains, That God can punish where he does not hate; and therefore, he may hate and not punish; for he punished his most holy Son, whom God forbid, that we should say he ever hated.' But besides, that this mode of arguing, from opposites, hardly holds good in theology: though God hated not his Son when he punished him, personally considered, he however hated the sins, on account of which he punished him (and even himself substitutively considered with respect to the effect of sin), no less than if they had been laid to any sinner: yea, and from this argument it follows, that God cannot hate sin, and not punish it; for when he laid sins, which he hates, to the
charge of his most holy Son, whom he loved with the highest love, yet he could not but punish him.
The representation or description of God, and of the Divine nature, in respect of its habitude to sin, which the Scriptures furnish us with, and the description of sin, with relation to God and his justice, supply us with a second argument. They call God 'a consuming fire," a God who will by no means clear the guilty.'
They represent sin as 'that abominable thing which he hateth, which he will destroy, as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff.' As then consuming fire cannot but burn and consume stubble, when applied to it, so neither can God do otherwise than punish sin, that abominable thing, which is consuming or destroying it, whenever presented before him and his justice.
But the very learned Twiss replies, That God is a consuming fire, but an intelligent and rational one, not a natural and insensible one; and this,' says he, 'is manifest from this, that this fire once burnt something not consumable, namely, his own Son, in whom there was no sin; which,' says he,' may serve as a proof, that this fire may not burn what is consumable, when applied to it.'
But, in my opinion, this very learned man was never more unhappy in extricating himself: for first, he acknowledges God to be a consuming fire,' though a rational and intelligent one, not a natural and insensible one; but the comparison was made between the events of the operations, not the modes of operating. Nobody ever said that God acts without sense, or from absolute necessity and principles of nature, without any concomitant liberty; but although he
b Habitude means the state of a person or a thing, with relation to something else: the habitude of the divine nature with respect to sin, is a disposition to punish it.
c Rom. xii. 29. Deut. iv. 24. Isa. xiii. 13. d Exod. xxxiv. 7.
e Jer. xliv. 4. Isa. v. 24.
The word in the original is combustibile,' meaning something that is susceptible of, and consumable by fire. It must be evident to every one that the phrase is used in allusion to the metaphor, which represents God as a consuming fire. The Son of God then was not, strictly and properly speaking, consumable, or susceptible of this fire; that is, he was by no means the object of divine anger, or punishment, considered as the Son of God, and without any relation to mankind; but on the contrary, was the beloved of his Father, with whom he was always well pleased: but he was liable to the effect of this fire, that is, of God's vindicatory justice, as our representative and federal head. And every sinner is consumable by this fire, that is, is properly and naturally the object of divine wrath and punishment.