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tice, in a public person, differs nothing from legal and universal justice. Although he maintains that there is a peculiar species of justice in a private person; a position which, I confess, I do not understand, since punishment, considered as punishment, is not the right of a private person. God certainly does not punish us, as being injured, but as a ruler and judge. But again, concerning this justice, another question arises, whether it be natural to God, or, an essential attribute of the divine nature; that is to say, such that the existence of sin being admitted, God must necessarily exercise it, because it supposes in him a constant and immutable will to punish sin: so that while he acts consistent with his nature, he cannot do otherwise than punish and avenge it? Or, whether it be a free act of the divine will, which he may exercise at pleasure? On this point theologians are divided. We shall consider what has been determined on the matter, by the most notorious enemies of divine truth, and especially by those of our own times.
1. Then, they own, 'That such a kind of justice is applicable to God, which, were he always inclined to exercise, he might, consistent with right, destroy all sinners, without waiting for their repentance, and so let no sin pass unpunished.'
2. 'That he will not pardon any sins, but those of the penitent.'
Nor do they deny, so far as I know,
3. That God hath determined the punishment of sin, by the rule of his right and wisdom.'
But they deny,
1. That perfection by which God punishes sins, either to be his justice, or to be so called in Scripture; but, only anger, fury, or fierce indignation, expressions, denoting in the clearest manner, the freedom of the divine will in the act of punishing. Although some of Socinus's followers, among whom is Crellius, have declared openly against him on this point.
Again, they deny.
2. That there is any such attribute in God as requires a satisfaction for sins, which he is willing to forgive; but maintain, that he is entirely free to yield up his claim of right,' as they phrase it, at pleasure; that therefore divine
justice ought, by no means, to be reckoned among the causes of Christ's death; nay more, say they, such a kind of justice may be found in the epistles of Iscariot to the Pharisees (they are the words of Gitichius), but is not to be found in the Holy Scriptures.
Such are the opinions of those concerning whom we are disputing at this present day, whether they be heretics; certainly they are not Christians. Between their sentiments and ours on this point, there is the widest difference: for we affirm, the justice by which God punishes sin, to be the very essential rectitude of Deity itself, exercised in the punishment of sins, according to the rule of his wisdom, and which is in itself no more free, than the divine essence.
This kind of justice Socinus opposes with all his might, in almost all his writings, but especially in his Theological Lectures of the Saviour, book i. chap. i. &c. Moscorovius also on the Racovian catechism, chap. viii. quest. 19. Ostorodius, a most absurd heretic, in his Institutions, chap. xxxi. and in his Disputations to Tradelius Volkelius, of the true Religion, book v. chap. xxi. Also Crellius, the most acute and learned of all the adversaries, in that book which he wished to have prefixed to the Dissertations of Volkelius, chap. xxviii. and in his Vindications against Grotius, chap.i. In a little work also, entitled, Of the Causes of the Death of Christ,' chap. xvi. He pursued the same object in almost all his other writings, both polemical and dogmatical, and likewise in his commentaries; a very artful man, and one that employed very great diligence and learning in the worst of causes. Michael Gitichius has the same thing in view, in his writings against Pargus, and in his dispute with Ludovicus Lucius, in defence of his first argument, a most trifling sophist, a mere copyist of Socinus, and a servile follower of his master. Of mightier powers too rise up against us, Valentinus Smalcius against Franzius; and, who is said to be still alive, the learned Jonas Schlichtingius. All these, with the rest of that herd, place all their hopes of overturning the doctrine of the satisfaction of Christ, in opposing this justice.
But these are not the only adversaries we have to do with there are others, pious, worthy, and very learned divines, who, respecting the point of Christ's satisfaction, are
most strictly orthodox; and who, though they cannot find in their hearts directly to deny that such an attribute or power is essential to God: yet maintain all its egresses, and its whole exercise, respecting sin, to be so free and dependant on the mere free motion and good pleasure of the divine will, that should not that oppose, God might by his nod, by his word, without any trouble, by other modes and ways, besides the satisfaction of Christ, if it only seemed proper to his wisdom, take away, pardon, and make an end of sin, without inflicting any penalty for the transgression of his law. And this, it is said, was the opinion of Augustine. By which, I will say, rash and daring assertion, be it spoken without offence, for they are truly great men, by their nod and breath they suspend and disperse the very strongest arguments, by which the adversaries feel themselves most hardly pushed, and by which the belief of Christ's satisfaction is strongly supported; and deliver up our most holy cause, I had almost said, defenceless, to be the sport of the Philistines. Nay, not very long ago, it has been discovered and lamented by the orthodox, that very considerable assistance has been imprudently given by a learned countryman of our own, to these aliens, who defy the armies of the living God. For, if we could but get rid of this justice, even if we had no other proof,' says Socinus, that human fiction of Christ's satisfaction would be thoroughly exposed, and would vanish.' Soc. of the Saviour, book iii. chap. 1, &c.
Of our own countrymen, the only one I know is Rutherford, a Scotch divine, who roundly and boldly asserts, Punitive justice to be a free act of the divine will:' nor is he content with the bare assertion, but supported chiefly by his arguments, to whom the schoolmen are so much indebted, he defends the fallacy, against both Cameron and Voetius, those two thunderbolts of theological war; though, in my opinion, neither with a force of argument nor felicity of issue equal to his opponents. But both the one and the others grant, that God hath decreed to let no sin pass unpunished without a satisfaction: but that decree being supposed, with a law given, and a sanction of the same by threatenings, that a satisfaction was necessary: but, that punitive justice necessarily requires the punishment of all sins, ac
cording to the rule of God's right and wisdom, this is what they deny, and endeavour to overturn.
But to me, these arguments are altogether astonishing; viz. 'that sin-punishing justice should be natural to God, and yet that God, sin being supposed to exist, may either exercise it, or not exercise it.' They may also say, and with as much propriety, that truth is natural to God; but upon a supposition that he were to converse with man, he might either use it, or not: or, that omnipotence is natural to God; but upon a supposition that he were inclined to do any work without himself, that it were free to him to act omnipotently, or not: or, finally, that sin-punishing justice is among the primary causes of the death of Christ, and that Christ was set forth as a propitiation, to declare his righteousness, and yet that, that justice required not the punishment of sin. For if it should require it, how is it possible that it should not necessarily require it, since God would be unjust, if he should not inflict punishment? Or farther, they might as well assert, that God willed that justice should be satisfied by so many and such great sufferings of his Son Christ, when that justice required no such thing; nay more, that setting aside the free act of the divine will, sin and no sin are the same with God, and that man's mortality hath not followed, chiefly as the consequence of sin, but of the will of God. These and such like difficulties, I leave to the authors of this opinion (for they are very learned men) to unravel. As to myself, they fill me with confusion and astonishment.
But this I cannot forbear to mention, that these very divines, who oppose our opinion, when hard pushed by their adversaries, perpetually have recourse in their disputations to this justice, as to their sacred anchor; and assert, that without a satisfaction, God could not pardon sin, consistent with his nature, justice, and truth. But as these are very great absurdities, it would have seemed strange to me, that any men of judgment and orthodoxy should have been so entangled in some of these sophisms, as to renounce the truth on their account, unless I had happened at one time myself to fall into the same snare; which, to the praise and glory of that truth, of which I am now a servant, I freely confess to have been my case.
But to avoid mistakes, as much as possible, in discussing the nature of this justice, we will make the following observations.
1. There are some attributes of Deity which, in order to their exercise, require no determined object antecedent to their egress of this kind are wisdom and power. These attributes, at least, as to their first exercise, must be entirely free, and dependant on the mere good pleasure of God only; so that antecedent to their acting, the divine will is so indifferent as to every exercise of them, on objects without himself, that he might even will the opposite. But if we suppose that God wills to do any work without himself, he must act omnipotently and wisely.
There are again, some attributes, which can, in nowise, have an egress, or be exercised without an object predetermined, and, as it were, by some circumstances prepared for them: among these is punitive justice; for the exercise of which there would be no ground, but upon the supposition of the existence of a rational being, and its having sinned; but these being supposed, this justice must necessarily act according to its own rule.
2. But that rule is not any free act of the divine will, but a supreme, intrinsic, natural right of Deity, conjoined with wisdom, to which the entire exercise of this justice ought to be reduced. These men, entirely trifle then, who, devising certain absurd conclusions of their own, annex them to a supposition of the necessity of punitive justice as to its exercise as for instance, that God ought to punish sin to the full extent of his power, and that he ought to punish every sin with eternal punishment, and that therefore he must preserve every creature that sins to eternity, and that he cannot do otherwise, I say they trifle; for God does not punish to the utmost extent of his power, but, so far as is just; and all modes and degrees of punishment are determined by the standard of the divine right and wisdom.
Whether that necessarily requires that every sin should be punished with eternal punishment, let those inquire who choose. Nobis non licet esse tam disertis.'
3. But the existence of a rational creature, and the moral dependance which it has, and must have upon God, being supposed, the first egress of this justice is in the constitution