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acts by will and understanding, we have said that his nature as necessarily requires him to punish any sin committed, as natural and insensible fire burns the combustible matter that is applied to it. But the learned gentleman does not deny this, nay, he even confirms it, granting that, with respect to sin, God 'is a consuming fire,' though only an intelligent and rational one.
I am sorry that this very learned author should have used the expression, that this fire burnt something not consumable,' when he punished his most holy and well-beloved Son for God did not punish Christ as his most holy Son, but as our Mediator, and the surety of the covenant, ‘whom he made sin for us, though he knew no sin;' surely, 'he laid upon him our sins,' before the chastisement of our peace was upon him:' but in this sense he was very susceptible of the effects of this fire, viz. when considered as bearing the guilt of all our sins, and therefore it was that by fire the Lord did plead with him, therefore, what this very learned man asserts, in the third place, falls to the ground; for the conclusion from such a very false supposition, must necessarily be false. We go on to the third argument.
The third argument. The non-punishment of sin is contrary to the glory of God's justice. Likewise of his holiness and dominion. A fourth argument. The necessity of a satisfaction being made by the death of Christ. No necessary cause, or cogent reason for the death of Christ, according to the adversaries. The objection refuted. The use of sacrifices. The end of the first part of the dissertation.
OUR third argument is this: It is absolutely necessary that God should preserve his glory entire to all eternity; but sin being supposed, without any punishment due to it, he cannot preserve his glory free from violation; therefore, it is necessary that he should punish it. Concerning the major proposition, there is no dispute; for all acknowledge, not
g Isa. lxvi. 16.
a Our author here speaks in the language, and reasons in the manner of logicians, the prevalent mode of reasoning at the time when he wrote: for the sake of those unacquainted with that art, it may not be improper to observe, that the above argument is what they call a syllogism; and that a syllogism consists of three propo
only that it is necessary to God that he should preserve his glory, but that this is incumbent on him by a necessity of nature, for he cannot but love himself; he is Jehovah, and will not give his glory to another. The truth of the assumption is no less clear, for the very nature of the thing itself proclaims, that the glory of justice, or of holiness and dominion, could not otherwise be preserved and secured, than by the punishment of sin.
For first, The glory of God is displayed in doing the things that are just; but in omitting these, it is impaired, not less than in doing the things that are contrary. 'He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are an abomination to the Lord." Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?' or, what is just? But it is a righteous or just thing with God to recompense tribulation to the disobedient,d and to punish those, who, on account of sin, are worthy of death. Suppose, then, that God should let the disobedient, whom it is a just thing for him to punish, go unpunished, and that those who are worthy of death should never be required to die, but that he should clear the guilty and the wicked, although he hath declared them to be an abomination to him; where is the glory of his justice? That it is most evident, that God thus punishes, because he is just, we have proved before. Is God unrighteous or unjust, who taketh vengeance? God forbid; for then, how shall God judge the world?' And he is righteous, or just, because he hath given them blood to drink, who were worthy of it;" and would be so far unjust, were he not to inflict punishment on those deserving it.
Secondly, A proper regard is not shewn to divine holi ́ness, nor is its glory manifested, unless the punishment due to sin be inflicted. Holiness is opposed to sin, 'for God is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on iniquity;" and is the cause why he cannot let sin pass unpu
sitions: the first is called the major, the second the minor, and the third the conclusion. In the above argument the major proposition is, it is absolutely necessary that God should preserve his glory entire to all eternity.' The minor is, but sin being supposed, without any punishment due to it, he cannot preserve his glory free from violation.' The conclusion is, 'therefore it is necessary that he should punish it.' The minor is sometimes called the assumption, and sometimes the conclusion is so named. They are both included under this title by our author in the following
d 2 Thess. i. 6. Rom. i. 32. f Hab. i. 13.
nished, 'ye cannot serve the Lord; for he is a holy God : he will not forgive your transgressions, nor your sins,' said Joshua to the Israelites. For why? Can any thing impure and polluted stand before his holy Majesty? He himself declares the contrary, that he is not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness;' that, 'evil shall not dwell with him;' that 'the foolish shall not stand in his sight;' that he hateth all the workers of iniquity.' And that, 'there shall in no wise enter into the New Jerusalem, any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination or maketh a lie." Nor can Jesus Christ present his church to his Father, till it be sanctified and cleansed, with the washing of water by the word, and made a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but holy, and without blemish." And we are enjoined to be holy, because he is holy. But all things are to be purged with blood, and without shedding of blood, there is no remission."k
Thirdly, We have sufficiently shewn above, that the natural dominion which God hath over rational creatures, and which, they by sin renounce, could not otherwise be preserved, or continued, than by means of a vicarious punishment. And now let impartial judges decide, whether it be necessary to God, that he should preserve entire the glory of his justice, holiness, and supreme dominion, or not?
Fourthly, And which is a principal point to be considered on this subject, were the opinions of the adversaries to be admitted, and were we to suppose that God might will the salvation of any sinner, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to assign any sufficient and necessary cause of the death of Christ. For, let us suppose that God hath imposed on mankind a law, ratified by a threatening of eternal death; and that they, by a violation of that law, have deserved the punishment threatened, and consequently are become liable to eternal death. Again, Let us suppose, that God in that threatening, did not expressly intend the death of the sinner; but afterward declared what, and of what kind he willed that the guilt of sin should be, and what punishment he might justly inflict on the sinner, and what the sinner himself ought to expect (all which things flow from the free determination of God), but that he might by his nod, word,
8 Josh. xxiv. 9. h Psal. v. 4-6. Rev. xxi. 27.
i Eph. v. 26, 27.
k Heb. ix. 22.
without any trouble, though no satisfaction were either made, or received, without the least diminution of his glory, and without any affront or dishonour to any attribute, or any injury or disgrace to himself, consistent with the preservation of his right, dominion, and justice, freely pardon the sins of those whom he might will to save; what sufficient reason could be given, pray then, why he should lay those sins so easily remissible to the charge of his most holy Son, and on their account subject him to such dreadful sufferings?
While Socinians do not acknowledge other ends of the whole of this dispensation and mystery, than those which they assign, they will be unable, to all eternity, to give any probable reason, why a most merciful and just God should expose a most innocent and holy man, who was his own Son, by way of eminence, and who was introduced by himself into the world in a preternatural manner, as they themselves acknowledge, to afflictions and sufferings of every kind, while among the living he pointed out to them the way of life; and at last to a cruel, ignominious, and accursed death.
I very well know that I cannot pretend to be either ingenious or quick-sighted; but respecting this matter, I am not ashamed to confess my dulness to be such, that I cannot see that God, consistent with the preservation of his right and glory entire, could, without the intervention of a ransom, pardon sins, as if justice did not require their punishment, or that Christ had died in vain. For why? Hath not God set him forth to be a propitiation for the demonstration, or declaration of his sin-punishing justice? But how could that justice be demonstrated by an action which it did not require? or, if the action might be omitted without any diminution of it? If God would have been infinitely just to eternity, nor would have done any thing contrary and offensive to justice, though he had never inflicted punishment upon any sin? Could any ruler become highly famed and celebrated on account of his justice, by doing those things, which, from the right of his dominion, he can do without injustice, but to the performance of which he is no way obligated by the virtue of justice? But if the adversaries suppose, that, when God freely made a law for his rational creatures, he freely appointed a punishment for transgression, freely substituted Christ in the room of transgressors in
fine, that God did all these things, and the like, because so it pleased him, and that therefore we are to acquiesce in that most wise and free-will of his disposing all things at his pleasure; they should not find me opposing them; unless God himself had taught us in his word, that sin is that abominable thing which his soul hateth,' which is affrontive to him, which entirely casteth off all regard to that glory, honour, and reverence, which are due to him: and that to the sinner himself, it is something evil and bitter, for he shall eat of the fruit of his doings, and be filled with his own counsels;' and that God, with respect to sinners, is a 'consuming fire,' an everlasting burning, in which they shall dwell; that 'he will by no means clear the guilty,' that he judgeth those who are worthy of death, and by his just judgment taketh vengeance on them; and that, therefore, without the shedding of blood, there can be no remission;' and that without a victim for sin, there remaineth to sinners, 'nothing but a fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, that shall consume the adversaries;' and that he had appointed from the beginning, his only-begotten Son, for the declaration and satisfaction of his justice, and the recovery of his glory, to open the way to heaven, otherwise shut, and to remain shut for ever: if, I say, God had not instructed us in these and such-like truths from his word, I should not oppose them: but these being clearly laid down in the word, we solemnly declare our belief, that no sinner could obtain the remission of his sins, provided that we are disposed to acknowledge God to be just, without a price of redemption.
Perhaps, some one will say, it doth not follow from the death of Christ, that God necessarily punisheth sin, for Christ himself, in his agony, placeth the passing away of the cup among things possible. All things,' saith he, Father, are possible with thee. Let this cup pass from me.'
I answer, it is well known, that the word 'impossibility' may be considered in a twofold point of view the first is in itself absolute, which respects the absolute power of God, antecedent to any free act of the divine will: in this respect, it was not impossible that, that cup should pass from Christ. The second is conditional, which respects the power of God, as directed in a certain order, that is determined, and (if I
1 Or ransom.