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In the Body of my Letter I have said, " that the Right of punishing was vested « in God as the sovereign Lawgiver of the « whole, who could not consistently with “ the common Good of the whole, for “ ought we can prove, have remitted the
Punishment without a Satisfaction.” This you will scarce be able to disprove. “Why “ might not then our Saviour satisfy to God “ the Father, considered in this Capacity ?” You will answer; that if God was the supreme Lawgiver, and our Saviour God, then the supreme Lawgiver satisfied to the fupreme Lawgiver. But what if our Saviour might be truly God, (i, e, ennobled with all the Esential Perfections of the Godhead) at the same Time that he divested himself of the Capacity of a Lawgiver ; I mean, during the Time that he was tranfacting the gracious Scheme of our Redemption? For to be the fovereign Lawgiver is no effential Perfection of the Deity-If it were, He could never have been without it. He must have been Lawgiver ab æterno : That is, he must have been Lawgiver when there were no Beings to give Laws to. It is plain then, that to be fovereign Lawgiver is no essential Perfection of the Deity, but only a relative Property,
This seems to overturn your main Argument, that the Divine Nature fatisfied itself. For if God did not require Satisfaction, as vested with the Divine Nature, or, as God, but as the supreme Lawgiver; then your Argument, to have been valid, ought to have run thus: That the supreme Lawgiver fatisfied the supreme Lawgiver : Which I have thewn, was not the Case.
To be Lawgiver, then, is no Perfection essential to the Nature of the Deity-Consequently our Saviour, still retaining the essential Properties of the Godhead, might put off the Character of Lawgiver-consequently needed no Satisfaction himself and so might satisfy the Father, in whom that Character was lodged. The rest your own Thoughts will supply.
THE SECOND LETTER.
FTER having attempted to shew,
that you had proved no absolute Imposibility in the Doctrine of the Satisfaction, my Intention was
to caution you against mistaking Difficulties for Impossibilities, and letting your Thoughts fally out into Matters where you could have no SureFooting. My Caution was well meant. I was afraid the Disputer of this World would get the better of the Christian. If my Fears were ill-grounded, pardon my Mistake, and accept of my good Design. Though No-body can have an higher Opinion of your distinguished Abilities
and disinterested Love of Truth; yet I considered, that an Affectation of being wise above what was written in the deep Things of God, and of pushing our Inquiries beyond our Capacities, had misled the ableft Writers, down from CARTESIUS and MALEBRANCHE, to NEWTON, CLARKE, etc. into almost as great Absurdities, as an implicit Acquiescence in the common received Notions of their Country has betrayed the unthinking Vulgar. There is a speculative
Fool-hardiness, a metaphysical Quixotism in Men of very great but enterprizing Geniufes, which prompts them to grapple with Objects, to which every judicious By-stander fees their Strength to be vastly unequal.
Notwithstanding all your Art and Finelle, your Proposition, which I excepted to, will not, I doubt, admit of thofe Softenings, with which you would qualify its Harshnefs. “ I must own it,” you say, '“ to be my “ firm Persuasion, that it is impossible
Christianity should be true, if what relates " to this Point in the Scripture appears to “ be absurd." Relates to what Point, I beseech you, Sir? Why? To a Point to which our Faculties are not fuited, viz. How the Divine Nature could fatisfy it felf. Your Sense is confined, by your own Words, to Points too fublime for human Comprehenfion, and resolves into this Propofition : “ In Matters wherein (becaufe they bear
no Proportion to our Faculties) we cannot s distinctly perceive a Doctrine to be absurd, " we ought to difcard that Dodrine, if “ it have but the Appearance of an Absur
-By what appears to be abfurd, must be understood, either what we evidently perceive to be a Faldhood, or what we only conceive to be fo. If the former; it is true, that evident Perception necessarily extorts our Affent; but this is foreign to your Purpose bere. Indeed you explain yourself
in that Sense, but the Subject we are upon must exclude that Meaning. For, since our Ideas of the intrinsick Nature of God, the Unity and Distinction of that Nature, åre very obscure, short, and indistinct; lince our Knowledge can rise no higher than our Ideas; we never can have any certain, clear, and distinct Knowledge, where all our Ideas are obfcure and indistinct.
The latter Sense of your Expression, viz. what appears to be absurd, you will not contend for : It is plain from numerous Instances, that we may conceive, or (if you will give me Leave to use an Expression so highly obnoxious to you) fancy a thousand Things to be absurd which are not fo. We may form precipitate Judgments (the main Source of Error) without distinct Perception. We may go before the Light, instead of following it. If then you have clear and diftinct Ideas of the unfathomable Depths of the Divine Nature, which produce distinct Knowledge in you; though they must be your own peculiar Property, yet be fo generous as to impart them to a Friend. But if you have not; do not complain that I took Advantage of the Inaccuracy of your Expresion; but fairly confess, that your Words either meant nothing at all, or mult mean your conceiving a Thing to be absurd from your very indistinct Notices.