« PreviousContinue »
of receiving a benefit. For, God is as capable of receiving satisfaction as injury. It is true, he cannot properly be profited ; so neither can he be properly burt. But, as rebelling against him, may properly be looked upon as of the nature of an injury or wrong done to God, and so God is capable of being the object or injuriousness , so, he is as capable of being the object of that which is the opposite of injuriousness, or the repairing of an injury. If you say, what need is there that God have any care for repairing the honour of his majesty, when it cm do him no good, and no addition can be made to his happiness by it ?-you might as well say, what need is there that God care when he is despised and dishonoured, and his authority and glory trampled on; since it does him no hurt? It is a vain thing here to pretend, that God cares only, because it hurts creatures' own happiness for them to cast contempt on God. Is that agreeable to the natural light of all men's minds, to the natural sense of their hearts, and to the dictates of conscience, which unavoidably and necessarily arise, after some very direct, most profane, and daring opposition to, and reproach of the Most High, that God is now angry and much provoked, only because the audacious sinner has now greatly hurt himself, and hurt his neighbours, that happen to see him? No, this is entirely diverse from the voice of natural sense in such a case, which inevitably suggests, that God is provoked, as one who will regard himself for himself, as having a direct respect for liis dignity and majesty. And this is agreeable to the strictest reason. It is impossible, if God infinitely loves and lionours himself, as one infinitely worthy to be loved and esteemed, but that he should, from the same principle, proportionably abhor and oppose opposition to, and contempt of bimself. And if it be in its own nature decent and proper for him thus to love himself, then it is in its own nature fit and becoming in him to hate opposition to himself. And for the same reason, and from the same principle, God, when he is contemned and injured, and his authority and glory are trampled in the dust, will be disposed to repair the injury done to his honour, and raise his injured majesty out of the dust again.
$ 39. The satisfaction of Christ, by suffering the punishment of sin, is properly to be distinguished, as being in its own nature different from the merit of Christ. For merit is only some excellency or worth. But when we consider Christ's sufferings merely as the satisfaction for the guilt of another, the excellency of Christ's act in suffering, does not at all come into consideration ; but only those two things, viz. Their equality or equivalence to the punishment that the sinner deserved; and, 2dly, The union between him and them, or the propriety
of his being accepted in suffering, as the representative of the sinner. Christ's bearing our punishment for us, is not properly meriting that we should not bear it, any more than, if it had been possible for us ourselves to have borne it all, that would have been meriting that we should not be punished any more. Christ's sufferings do not satisfy by any excellency in them, but by a fulfilment. To satisfy by a fulfilment, and to satisfy by wortbiness or excellency, are different things. If the law be fulfilled, there is no need of any excellency or merit to satisty it ; because it is satisfied by taking place and having its course. Indeed, how far the dignity or worthiness of Christ's person comes into consideration, in determining the propriety of his being accepted as a representative of sinners, so that liis suffering, when equivalent, can be accepted as theirs, may be matter of question and debate ; but it is a matter entirely foreign to the present purpose,
$ 40. The blood of Christ washes away sin. So it is represented in the scripture. But although the blood of Christ washes away our guilt, it is the Spirit of Christ that washes away pollution and stain of sin. However the blood of Christ wasbes also from the filth of sin, as it purchases sanctification; it makes way for it by satisfying, and purchases it by the merit of obedience implied in it. The sacrifices under the law, typified Christ's sacrifice, not only as a satisfaction, but as meritorious obedience. They are called a sweet savour upon both these accounts. And therefore we find obedience com. pared with sacrifice, Psal. xl. 6, &c.
§ 41. Late philosophers seem ready enough to own the great importance of God's maintaining steady and inviolable the laws of the natural world. It may be worthy to be considered, whether it is not of as great, or greater importance, that the law of God, that great rule of righteousness between the supreme moral Governor and his subjects, should be maintained inviolate. As to any objection that may be made from the practice of human legislators, their dispensing with their own laws, and forbearing to execute them, and pardoning offenders, without any one being made to suffer in their stead; the case is vastly different in the Supreme Lawgiver and subordinate lawgivers, and in the Supreme Judge and subordinate judges. The latter give rules only to a certain small part of the commonwealth of moral agents, and with relation only to some few of their concerns, and for a little while. Human lawgivers are weak and fallible, and very imperfect in the exercises of a limited, subordinate, and infinitely inferior authority. But God is the great, infinitely wise, omniscient, boly, and absolutely perfect, Rector of all; to whom it belongs to establish a rule for the regulation of the whole universe of beings, through all eternity, in all that concerns them in the exercise of an infinitely strong right of supreme, absolute dominion and sovereignty. The laws of men may be dispensed with, who cannot foresce all cases that may happen; and, if they could, bave not both the laws and the state of the subject perfectly at their own disposal, so as universally and perfectly to suit one to the other. But there is no wise and good law, but that care should be taken that it ordinarily be put in execution : and the nearer any human law approaches to the supreme or divine law in perfection, and in extent of jurisdiction, the more care should be taken of its execution: the wisdom of nations teaches this. Besides, repentance may be proportionable and answerable, at least in some measure, to offences against men. And as to the public truth which is to be upheld in execution of the threatenings of human laws, there ought to be great care to uphold it, according to the true intent and meaning of those threatenings. If all that is meant, and all that, by the very nature of the public constitution, the foundation on which all their laws stand,) is to be understood by those threatenings, is, that the punishment shall be inflicted, excepting when the exigence of the public requires otherwise, or when the pleasure of the prince is otherwise; then the public truth obliges to no more; and this being done, the public truth is maintained.
§ 1. Faith is a belief of a testimony; 2 Thess. i. 10. 6 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.” 2 Thess. ii. 13. “ But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren, beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth.” 1 John y. 10.“ He that believeth on the Son of God, hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God, hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son."
§ 2. It is the proper act of the soul towards God as faithful. Rom. iii. 3, 4. “ For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect ? God forbid : yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.” It includes a sense of glory and excellency, or at least it is with such a
Matt. ix. 21. “ She said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole.” 1 Cor. xii. 3.“ Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God, calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.” There is also in it a spiritual taste and relish of what is excellent and divine. Luke xii. 57. “ Yea, and why, even of yourselves, judge ye not what is right?” Believers receive the truth in the love of it, and speak the truth in love. Eph. iv. 15. “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, wbich is the head, even Christ.'
§ 3. The object of faith is the gospel, as well as Jesus Christ. Mark i. 15. “ And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent ye, and believe the gospel.” Jobn xvii. 8. “ For I have given unto them the
words which thou gavest me; and they received them, and · have known surely that I came out from thee, and they
have believed that thou didst send me.” Rom. x. 16, 17. “ But they have not obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report ?—So then, faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” It includes a knoa ledge of God and Christ. 2 Pet. i. 2, 3. “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord; according as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue.” John xvii. 3. “ And this is life eternal, that they miglit know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whoin thou bäst sent.” And a belief of promises and depending on them, is a great part of faith. Heb. xi. 6 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen," &c. Gal. v. 5. “ For we through Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith."
§ 4. Faith is a receiving of Christ. Jolin i. 12. “ But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name." 66 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in hiin: rooted and built up in him; established in the faith, as ye have been taught; abounding therein with thanksgivings." And it is receiving Christ into the heart. Rom. x. 6—10.“ But the righteousness which is of faith, speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above ;) or, Wbo shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee,
) even in thy mouth, and in thy heart, (that is, the word of faith, which we preach ;) That it thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. -For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." True faith includes accepting the gospel. 1 Tim. i. 14, 15. 6 And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” 2 Cor. ii. 1. “ For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached; or if you receive another Spirit, which ye have not received; or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might bear with him.”
$5. It is something more than merely the assent of