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of a penal law; not as a law which, as was before observed, originates from the justice of government, but as a penal law.
For if such a law were not made necessarily, it might be possible that God, should lose his natural right and dominion over his creatures, and thus he would not be God; or, that right being established, that the creature might not be subject to him, which implies a contradiction, not less, than if you were to say, that Abraham is the father of Isaac, but that, Isaac is not the son of Abraham. For, in case of a failure in point of obedience (a circumstance which might happen, and really hath happened), that dependance could be continued in no way, but through means of a vicarious punishment: and there must have been a penal law constituted, necessarily requiring that punishment. Hence arises a secondary right of punishing, which extends to every amplification of that penal law, in whatever manner made. But it has a second egress in the infliction of punishment.
4. And here it is to be remarked, that this justice necessarily respects punishment in general, as including in it the nature of punishment, and ordaining such a vindication of the divine honour, as God can acquiesce in: not the time, or degrees, or such like circumstances of punishment. Yea, not this, or that species of punishment; for it respects only the preservation of God's natural right, and the vindication of his glory ; both which may be done by punishment in general, however circumstanced. A dispensation, therefore, with punishment (especially temporary punishment) by a delay of time, an increase or diminution of the degree, by no means prejudiceth the necessity of the exercise of this justice, which only intends an infliction of punishment in general.
5. But again, though we determine the egresses of this justice to be necessary, we do not deny that God exercises it freely: for that necessity doth not exclude a concomitant liberty, but only an antecedent indifference. This only we deny, viz. that, supposing a sinful creature, the will of God can be indifferent (by virtue of the punitive justice inherent in it) to inflict, or not inflict punishment upon that creature, or to the volition of punishment, or its opposite. The whole of Scripture, indeed, loudly testifies against any such indifference; nor is it consistent with God's supreme
right over his creatures : neither do they who espouse a different side, contend with a single word brought from the Scriptures. But that God punishes sins with a concomitant liberty, because he is of all agents the most free, we have not a doubt. Thus his intellectual will is carried towards happiness by an essential inclination antecedent to liberty, and notwithstanding it wills happiness with a concomitant liberty : for to act freely is the very nature of the will; yea, it must necessarily act freely.
Let our adversaries therefore dream as they please, that we determine God to be an absolutely necessary agent, when he is a most free one ; and that his will is so circumscribed by some kind of justice, which we maintain, that he cannot will those things which, setting the consideration of that justice aside, would be free to him. For, we acknowledge the Deity to be both a necessary and free agent: necessary in respect of all his actions, internally, or in respect of the persons in the godhead towards one another : the Father necessarily begets the Son and loves himself : as to these and such like actions, he is of all necessary agents the most necessary. But in respect of the acts of the divine will, which have their operations and effects upon external objects, he is an agent absolutely free, being one who worketh all things according to the counsel of his own will.' But of these acts there are two kinds; for some
are absolute and admit no respect to any antecedent condition.
Of this kind is his purpose of creating the world, and in it rational creatures, properly adapted to know and obey the creator, benefactor, and Lord of all. In works of this kind, God hath exercised the greatest liberty : his infinitely wise and infinitely free will is the fountain and origin of all things. Neither is there in God any kind of justice, or any other essential attribute, which could prescribe any limits or measure to the divine will. But this decree of creating being supposed, the divine will undergoes a double necessity, so to speak, both in respect of the event, and in respect of its manner of acting. For in respect of the event, it is necessary, from the immutability of God, that the world should be created : and in respect of the manner of doing it, that it should be done omnipotently, because God is essentially omnipotent; and it being once supposed that he wills
to do any work without himself, he must do it omnipotently. Yet, notwithstanding these considerations, in the creation of the world, God was entirely a free agent: he exercised will and understanding in acting, although the choice of acting or not acting, and of acting in one particular way or another, is taken away by his immutability and omnipotence.
There is another kind of the acts of the divine will, which could have no possible existence but upon a condition supposed.
This kind contains the egresses and exercise of those attributes which could not be exercised but upon a supposition of other antecedent acts; of which we have treated before. Of this kind, are all the acts of the divine will, in which justice, mercy, &c. exert their energy. But these attributes of the divine nature are, either for the purpose of preserving or continuing to God what belongs to him of right, supposing that state of things which he hath freely appointed; or for bestowing on his creatures some farther good. Of the former kind is vindicatory justice, which, as it cannot be exercised but upon the supposition of the existence of a rational being, and of its sin; so, these being supposed, the supreme right and dominion of the Deity could not be
preserved entire, unless it were exercised. Of the latter kind is sparing mercy, by which God bestows an undeserved good on miserable creatures. For setting aside the consideration of their misery, this attribute cannot be exercised; but that being supposed, if he be inclined to bestow any undeserved good on creatures wretched through their own transgression, he may exercise this mercy, if he will. But again, in the exercise of that justice, although if it were not to be exercised, according to our former hypothesis, God would cease from his right and dominion, and so would not be God, still he is a free, and not an absolutely necessary agent; for, he acts from will and understanding, and not from an impetus of nature only, as fire burns: and he freely willed that state and condition of things, which being supposed, that justice must necessarily be exercised. Therefore, in the exercise of it, he is not less free than in speaking ; for, supposing, as I said before, that his will were to speak any thing, it is necessary that he speak the truth. These loud outcries, therefore, which the adversaries so unseason
ably make against our opinion, as if it determined God to be an absolutely necessary agent in his operations ad extra, entirely vanish and come to nought. But we will treat more fully of these things, when we come to answer objections.
Finally, let it be observed, that the nature of mercy and justice are different in respect of their exercise : for, between the act of mercy and its object, no natural obligation intervenes : for God is not bound to any one, to exercise any act of mercy, neither is he bound to reward obedience: for this is a debt due from his natural right, and from the moral dependence of the rational creature, and indispensably thence arising. But between the act of justice and its object, a natural obligation intervenes, arising from the indispensable subordination of the creature to God, which supposing disobedience or sin, could not otherwise be secured than by punishment. Nor is the liberty of the divine will diminished in any respect more by the necessary egresses of divine justice, than by the exercise of other attributes : for these necessary egresses are the consequence, not of an absolute, but of a conditional necessity ; viz. a rational creature and its sin being supposed, and both existing freely in respect of God: but the necessary suppositions being made, the exercise of other perfections is also necessary; for it being supposed, that God were disposed to speak with man, he must necessarily speak according to truth.
A series of arguments in support of vindicatory justice. First, from the
Scriptures. Three divisions of the passages of Scripture. The first, contains those which respect the purity and holiness of God. The second, those which respect God as the judge. What it is to judge with justice. The third, those which respect the divine supreme right. A second argument is taken from the general consent of mankind. A three-fold testimony of that consent. The first, from the Scriptures. Some testimonies of the heathens. The second, from the power of conscience. Testimonies concerning that power. The mark set upon Cain. The expression of the Emperor Adrian, when at the point of death. The consternation of mankind at prodigies. The horror of the wicked, whom even fictions terrify. Two conclusions. The third testimony, from the confession of all nations. A vindication of the argument against Rutherford. The regard paid to sacrifices among the nations. Different kinds of the same. Propitia
tory sacrifices. Some instances of them. These preliminaries being thus laid down to facilitate our entrance on the subject, I proceed to demonstrate, by a variety of arguments, both against enemies, and against friends from whom I dissent, that this punitive justice is natural to God, and necessary as to its egresses respecting sin. But because, since the entrance of sin into the world, God hath either continued, or increased the knowledge of himself, or accommodated it to our capacities by four ways, namely, by the written word, by a rational conscience, by his works of providence; and lastly, by the person of Jesus Christ his only-begotten Son, and by the mystery of godliness manifested in him; we will shew, that by each of these modes of communication he hath revealed and made known to us this his justice. Our first argument then is taken from the testimony of the sacred writings, which in almost numberless places ascribe this vindicatory justice to God.
The passages of Holy Scripture which ascribe this justice to God, may be classed under three divisions. The first contains those which certify, 'that the purity and holiness of God, hostilely oppose and detest sin. Whether holiness or purity be an attribute natural to God, and immutably residing in him, has not yet been called in question by our adversaries. They have not yet arrived at such a pitch of madness. But this is that universal perfection of God,