« PreviousContinue »
CONCERNING THE NECESSITY AND REASONABLENESS OF THE
CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE OF SATISFACTION FOR SIN.
§ 1. The necessity of satisfaction for sin, and the reasonableness of that Christian doctrine, may appear from the fol. lowing considerations: Justice requires that sin be punished, because sin deserves punishment. What the demerit of sin calls for, justice calls for; for it is only the same thing in different words. For the notion of a desert of punishment, is the very same as a just connection with punishment. None will deny but that there is such a thing, in some cases, as the desert or demerit of a crime, its calling for, or requiring punishment. And, to say that the desert of a crime does require punishment, is just the same thing as to say, the reason why it requires it is, that it deserves it. So that the suitableness of the connection between the crime and the punishment, consists in the desert; and therefore, wherever desert is, there is such suitableness. None will deny that some crimes are so horrid, and so deserving of punishment, that it is requisite they should not go unpunished, unless something very considerable be done to make up for the crime; either some answerable repentance, or some other compensation, that in some measure at least balances the desert of punishment, and so, as it were, takes it off, or disannuls it; otherwise, the desert of punishment remaining, all will allow, that it is fit and becoming, and to be desired, that the crime should be severely punished. And why is it so, but only from the demerit of the crime, or because the crime so much deserves such a punishment ? It justly excites so great abhorrence and indignation, that it is requisite there should be a punishment answerable to this abhorrence and indignation that is fitly excited by it. But by this, all is granted that needs to be granted, to shew, that desert of punishment carries in it a requisiteness of the punishment deserved. For if greater crimes do very much require punishment, because of their great demerit, lesser crimes will also require punishment, but only in a lesser degree, proportionably to their demerit; because the ground of the requi
siteness of the punishment of great crimes, is their demerit, It is requisite that they should be punished, on no other account but because they deserve it,
$ 2. Besides, if it be allowed that it is requisite that great crimes should be punished with punishment in some measure answerable to the heinousness of the crime, without something to balance them, some answerable repentance or other satisfaction, because of their great demerit and the great abhorrence and indignation they justly excite; it will follow, that it is requisite that God should punish all sin with infinite punishment; because all sin, as it is against God, is infinitely heinous, and has infinite demerit, is justly infinitely hateful to him, and so stirs up infinite abhorrence and indignation in him. Therefore, by what was before granted, it is requisite that God should punish it, unless there be something in some measure to balance this desert. Now there can be no repent, ance of it, or sorrow for it, in any measure answerable or proportionable to the heinousness of the demerit of the crime; because that is infinite, and there can be no infinite sorrow for sin in finite creatures; yea, there can be none that, bears any proportion to it. Repentance is as nothing in comparison of it, and therefore can weigh nothing when put in the scales with it, and so does nothing at all towards 'compensating it, or diminishing the descrt or requisiteness of punishment, any more than if there were no repentance. If any ask, why God could not pardon the injury on repentance, without other satisfaction, without any wrong to justice; I ask the same person, why he could not also pardon the injury without repentance. For all the repentance men are capable of, is as no repentance at all, in comparison with the greatness of the injury; for it bears no proportion to it. And it would be as dishonourable and unfit for God to pardon tbe injury without any repentance at all, as to do it merely on the account of a repentance that bears no more proportion to the injury, than none at all. Therefore, we are not forgiven on repentance, because it in any wise compensates, or takes off, or diminishes the desert or requisiteness of punishment; but because of the respect that evangelical repentance has to compensation already made.
§ 3. If sin, therefore, deserves punishment, that is the same thing as to say, that it is fit and proper that it should be punished. If the case be so, that sin deserves punishment from men; in those cases it is proper it should receive punishment from men. A fault cannot be properly said to deserve punishment from any, but those to whom it belongs to inflict punishment when it is deserved. In those cases, there. fore, wherein it belongs to men to inflict punishment, it is proper for them to inflict that punishment that is deserved of them. Again, if sin's desert of punishment be the proper ground of the fitness of its connection with punishment, or rather be that wherein fitness of the connection consists; it will thence follow, not only that it is fit that the sin which deserves punishment, should be punished, but also that it should be punished as it deserves. It is meet that a person's state should be agreeable to the quality of his dispositions and voluntary actions. Suffering is suitable and answerable to the quality of sinful dispositions and actions; it is suitable that they who do evil should receive evil in proportion to the evil that they do or will. It is but justice that it should be so; and when sin is punished, it receives but its own, or that which is suitably connected with it. But it is a contradiction to say that it is suitably connected with punishinent, or that it is suitable that it should be connected with it, and yet that it is suitable it should not be conncted with it. All sin may be resolved into hatred of God and our neighbour; as all our duty may be resolved into love to God and our neighbour. And it is but meet that this spirit of enmity should receive a return in its own kind, that it should receive enmity again. Sin is of such a nature, that it wishes ill, and aims at ill to God and man; but to God especially. It strikes at God; it would, if it could, procure his misery and non-existence. It is but suitable, that with what measure it meles, it should be measured to it again. It is but suitable that men should reap what they sow, and that the rewards of every man's hand should be given him. This is what the consciences of all men naturally declare. There is nothing that men know sooner, after they come to the exercise of their reason, than that, when they have done wickedness, they deserve punishment. The consciences not only of Christians, and those who have been educated in the principles of divine revelation, but also the consciences of heathens inform them of this: therefore, unless conscience has been stupified by frequent violations, when men bave done wickedness there remains a sense of guilt upon their minds; a sense of an obligation to punishment. It is natural to expect that which conscience or reason tells them it is suitable should come; and therefore they are afraid and jealous, and ready to flee when no man pursues. Seeing therefore it is requisite that sin should be punished, as punish ment is deserved and just; therefore ihe justice of God obliges him to punish sin. For it belongs to God, as the Supreme Ruler of the universality of things, to maintain order and decorum in his kingdom, and to see to it that decency and righteousness take place in all cases. That per
fection of his nature whereby he is disposed to this, is his justice: therefore his justice naturally disposes him to punish sin as it deserves.
$ 4. The holiness of God, which is the infinite opposition of his nature to sin, naturally and necessarily disposes him to punish sin. Indeed his justice is part of his holiness. But when we speak of God's justice inclining him to punish sin, we have respect only to that exercise of his holiness whereby he loves that holy and beautiful order that consists in the connection of one thing with another, according to their nature, and so between sin and punishment; and his opposition to that which would be so unsuitable as a disconnection of these things. But now I speak of the holiness of God as appearing not directly and immediately in his hatred of an unsuitable, hateful disconnection between sin and that which is proper for it; but in his hatred of sin itself, or the opposition of his nature to the odious nature of sin. If God's nature be infinitely opposite to sin, then doubtless he has a disposition answerable to oppose it in his acts and works. If he by his nature be an enemy to sin with an infinite enmity, then he is doubtless disposed to act as an enemy to it, or to do the part of an enemy to it. And if he be disposed naturally to do the part of an enemy against sin, or, which is the same thing, against the faultiness or blameworthiness of moral agents; then it will follow, he is naturally disposed to act as an enemy to those that are the persons faulty and blameworthy, or are chargeable with the guilt of it, as being the persons faulty. Indignation is the proper exercise of hatred of any thing as a fault or thing blamcable; and there could be no such thing either in the Creator or creature, as hatred of a fault without indignation, unless it be conceived or hoped that the fault is suffered for, and so the indignation be satisfied. Whoever finds a batred to a fault, and at the same time imputes the fault to him that committed it, he therein feels an indignation against him for it. So that God, by his necessary infinite hatred of sin, is necessarily disposed to punish it with a punishment answerable to his hatred.
$5. It does not become the Sovereign of the world, a being of infinite glory, purity, and beauty, to suffer such a thing as sin, an uncomely disorder, an infinitely detestable pollution, to appear in the world subject to his government, without his making an opposition to it, or giving some public manifestations and tokens of bis infinite abhorrence of it; for “ he is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on iniquity;" Hab. i. 13. It is natural in such a case to expect tokens of the utmost opposition. If we could behold the infinite Fountain of purity and holiness, and could see what an infinitely pure flame it is, and with wbat a pure brightness it shines, so that the heavens appear impure when compared with it; and then should behold some infinitely odious and detestable filthiness brought and set in its presence : would it not be natural to expect some ineffably vehement opposition inade to it? and would not the want of it be indecent and shocking?
§ 6. If it be to God's glory that he is in bis nature infinitely holy and opposite to sin; then it is to bis glory to be infinitely displeased with sin. And if it be to God's glory to be infinitely displeased with sin; then it must be to bis glory to exercise and manifest that displeasure, and to act accordingly. But the proper exercise and testimony of displeasure against sin, in the Supreme Being and absolute Governor of the world, is taking vengeance. Men may shew their hatred of sin by lamenting it, and mourning for it, and taking great pains, and undergoing great difficulties to prevent or remove it, or by approving God's vengeance for it. Taking vengeance is not the proper way of fellow-subjects' hatred of sin; but it is in the Supreme Lord and Judge of the world, to whom vengeance belongs; because he has the ordering and government of all things, and therefore the suffering of sin to go unpunished would in him be a conniving at it. Taking ven. geance is as much the proper manifestation of God's displeasure at sin, as a mighty work is the proper manifestation of his power, or as a wise work is the proper manifestation of his wisdom. There may be other testimonies of God's displeasedness with and abhorrence of sin, without testifying his displeasure in condign punishment. He might declare he bas such a displeasure and abhorrence. So there might be other testimonies of God's power and wisdom, besides a powerful wise effect. He might have declared himself to be infinitely wise and powerful. But yet there would have been wanting the proper manifestations of God's power and wisdom, if God had only declared himself to be possessed of these attributes.The creatures might have believed him to be all-wise and almighty; but by seeing his mighty and wise works, they see his power and wisdom. So if there had been only a declaration of God's abhorrence and displeasure against sin, the creature might have believed it, but could not have seen it, unless he should also take vengeance for it.
§ 7. The honour of the greatness, excellency and majesty of God's being, requires that sin be punished with an infinite punishment. Hitherto I have spoken of the requisiteness of