posed ; nor can it be, because punishment supposes some quality in God opposite to mercy, for that which is opposite to mercy is cruelty; but God is free from every suspicion of cruelty, yet he punishes the sins of the impenitent, as the Socinians themselves acknowledge.

But that punitory justice, say they, which you assign as the source of punishment, is opposite to mercy. How, I say, can that be? Punitory justice, essentially considered, is the very perfection and rectitude of God itself, essentially considered ; and the essence of meřey, so to speak, is the same. But the essence of God, which is most simple, is not opposed to itself; moreover, both have their actual egresses by means of the acts of the divine will, which is always one alone and self-consistent. Objectively considered, I acknowledge they have different, but not contrary, effects; for to punish the impenitent guilty, for whom no satisfaction hath been made, is not contrary to the pardoning of those who believe and are penitent, through the blood of the Mediator, which was shed for the remission of sins. In one word, it is not necessary, that, though actions be contrary, the essential principles should also be contrary.

But they again urge, Wisdom is naturally inherent in God, and he never doeth any thing contrary to it; for whatsoever he doeth, he doeth all things wisely.' We answer, It hath been proved before that the punishment of sin is not contrary to mercy. But they urge something farther, and insinuate that God not only cannot act contrary to his wisdom, but that in every work he exerciseth it; 'whatsoever he doeth,' say they, he doeth wisely.' But the nature of all the divine attributes, in respect of their exercise, is not the same; for some create and constitute an object to themselves, as power and wisdom, which God must necessarily exercise in all his works; some require an object constituted for their egress; and for these it is sufficient, that no work be done that is opposite, or derogatory to their honour; of this kind are mercy and justice, as was said before.

Thus far concerning mercy.

The objections that they bring against justice are easily answered : “ If justice be naturally inherent in God,' say they, then he could let no sin pass unpunished. We readily grant that God passes by no sin unpunished, nor can do it.

2 F


He forgives our sins, but he doth not absolutely let them pass unpunished; every sin hath its just recompense of reward, either in the sinner, or the surety; but to pardon sin for which justice hath been satisfied, is nowise contrary to justice; that the nature of justice and mercy, in respect of their relation to their object, is different, hath been shewn before. Such is their first argument; the second follows, which is this:

• That justice which the adversaries oppose to mercy,' say they, whereby God punisheth sins, the sacred Scriptures nowhere point out by the name of justice, but call it the anger and fury of God. We answer, in the first place, that it is a very gross mistake, that we oppose justice to mercy. These catechists have need themselves to be catechized.

In the second place; Let those, who shall please to consult the passages formerly mentioned and explained on this head, determine, whether the Sacred Scriptures call this justice by its own proper name or not? In the third place; Anger or fury are, in reality, as to their effects, reducible to justice; hence that which is called 'wrath' or 'anger' in Rom. i. 18. in the thirty-first verse is called ' judgment. Such is their second, and now follows the third argument.

• When God forgives sins, it is attributed in Scripture to his justice. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all iniquity. Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ, whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness; that he might be just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus.' We answer; that we have already shewn, at great length, that justice, universally taken, is the perfection and rectitude of God, and has various egresses both in words and in deeds, according to the constitution of the objects about which it may be employed : hence effects distinct and in some measure different, are attributed to the same virtue. But the justice, on account of which, God is said to forgive sins, is the justice of faithfulness, * This point is treated, at great length, and clearly proved in the third chapter.


o Theoriginal word means a just sentence, or righteous judgment.

C 1 John i. 9. Rom. ii. 24-26.

which has the foundation of its exercise in this punitory justice, to which, when satisfied, God, who cannot lie, promises the forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ, which promise beyond all doubt he will perform, because he is faithful and just. And thus vanishes in smoke all that these unhappy catechists have scraped together against this divine truth.



Crellius taken to task. His first mistake. God doth not punish sins as being endowed with supreme dominion. The first argument of Crellius. The

The translation of punishment upon Christ, in what view made by God. Whether the remission of sins, without a satisfaction made, could take place, without injury to him to whom punishment belongs. Whether every one can resign his right. Right twofold. The right of debt, what: and what that of government. A natural and positive right. Positive

right, what: a description also of Iratural right. Concessions of Crellius. Crellius treats this subject at great length, and with his usual artifice and acuteness, in his first book of the true Religion,' prefixed to the works of Volkelius, on the same subject.

First, then, he asserts, “That God hath a power of inflicting and of not inflicting punishment; but that it is by no means repugnant to divine justice, to pardon the sinner whom by his right he might punish.'

But here Crellius, which is a bad omen, as they say, stumbles in the very threshold; supposing punishment to be competent to God, as he hath, or is endowed with an absolute and supreme dominion over the creatures. God never punisheth, or is said to punish, as using that power : it is the part of a governor or judge to inflict punishment, and the Scriptures furnish sufficient evidence that both these relations belong to him in the infliction of punishment. b There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. He maintaineth right, and sitteth on his throne judging right. He is Judge of all the earth. He is the supreme Judge. He hath prepared his throne for judgment, and he shall judge the world in righteousness: he shall minister judgment to the people in righteousness. He is Judge of the earth, who will render a reward to the proud. He is Jehovah, our Judge, our Lawgiver, and our King. And God the Judge of all.' In all the acts of his absolute dominion and supreme power, God is most free, and this the apostle openly asserts with regard to his decrees making distinctions among mankind, in respect of their last end, and the means thereto conducing, according to his mere good pleasure ; see Rom. ix. Moreover, in some operations and dispensations of providence concerning mankind, both the godly and ungodly, I acknowledge, that God frequently asserts the equity and rectitude of his government, from that supreme right which he possesseth, and may exercise.

a Chap. xxiii. title, 'Of the Power of God;' p. 181, &c. James iv, 12. Psal. ix. 4, 5. Gen. xviii. 25. Psal. i. 6. ix. 8, 9. xciv. 2. Heb. xii. 23, &c.

• Behold, -God is greater than man. Why dost thou strive against him; for he giveth not an account of any of his matters.” “ Yea, surely, God will not do wickedly, neither will the Almighty pervert judgment. Who hath given him a charge over the earth? or, who hath disposed the whole world? if he set his heart upon man, if he gather to himself his spirit and his breath; all flesh shall perish together, and man shall return again unto dust.'

But that God punishes omissions, and avenges transgressions, as the supreme Lord of all, and not as a Ruler of the universe and Judge of the world, is an opinion supported by no probable reason, and by no testimony of Scripture. But let us hear what Crellius himself has to say. He thus proceeds :

• He injures none, whether he punish or do not punish; if so be that the question is only respecting his right: for the punishment is not owing to the offending person, but he owes it; and he owes it to him upon whom the whole injury will ultimately redound, who in this matter is God; but if you consider the matter in itself, every one has it in his power to prosecute his right, and likewise not to prosecute it, or to yield up of it as much as he pleases : for this is the nature of a proper and sovereign right.

c Job xxxiii. 12, 13. a As supreme Lord of the universe, be exerciseth an uncontrolled dominion, doing in the armies of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth, whatsoever seemeth good unto him.' But as the Ruler and Judge of the world, he distributeth impartial justice, 'giving to every one according to his works.' The force of this argument then is this, that in viewing God, as punishing sin, we are not to consider him as supreme Lord, who may exercise an absolute and uncontrolled will; but as a righteous Judge, bound by a law to administer justice, and by a law founded in his nature, necessarily requiring him so to do.

Ans. It is easy to be seen, that the former fallacy diffuses its fibres through the whole of this reasoning. For the right, a dispensation with which he maintains to be lawful, he affirms to be a sovereign right, or the right of a lord and master; but this right is not the subject in question. It is a ruler and judge to whom punishment belongs, and who repays it; I would not, indeed, deny that God's supreme and sovereign right has a place in the matter of the satisfaction made by Christ in our stead: for although to inflict punishment be the office of a ruler and judge, yet the very translation of guilt from us upon Christ, constituting him sin for us, is a most free act, and an act of supreme power; unless, perhaps, the acceptance of the promise made by the surety, belong of right to him as ruler, and there be no other act to be assigned to God.

But let us consider these arguments of Crellius severally. He injures no one,' says he,' whether he punish or not:' but an omission of the infliction of punishment, where it is due, cannot take place without injury to that justice on which it is incumbent to inflict the punishment. For he that justifieth the wicked, is an abomination to the Lord.' And a heavy woe is pronounced on them that call evil good, and good evil. It is true, that God neither injures nor can injure any one, either in what he hath done, or might do: • for who hath first given to him, and it shall be restored to him again.' Nor is it less true, that he will not, yea, that he cannot do injury to his own justice, which requireth the punishment of every sin. An earthly judge may oftentimes spare a guilty person without injury to another, but not without injustice in himself; yea, Crellius asserts, that God cannot forgive the sins of some sinners; namely, the contumacious, without injury to himself; for this, as he says, would be unworthy of God. But we are sure, that every sin, without exception, setting aside the consideration of the re

[ocr errors]

e That both these relations, viz. of a Ruler and Judge, are to be assigned to God, the Scriptures amply testify. See p. 41, &c.

| Prov. xvii. 15. Isa. v. 20.

« VorigeDoorgaan »