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punishing every sin according to the rule of divine wisdom and right : impudent to a high degree indeed then must Socinus have been, who hath maintained that, that perfection of Deity by which he punisheth sin, is not called justice, but always anger or fury. Anger indeed and fury, analogically and effectively, belong to justice.
So much for our first argument.
The universal consent of mankind furnishes us with a second ; from which we may reason in this manner: What common opinions and the innate conceptions of all assign to God, that is natural to God. But this corrective justice is so assigned to God; therefore this justice is natural to God.
The major proposition is evident; for what is not natural to God, neither exists in him by any mode of habit, or mode of affection, but is only a free act of the divine will; and the knowledge of that can by no means be naturally implanted in creatures: for whence should there - be a universal previous conception of an act which might either take place, or never take place. No such thing was at the first engraven on the hearts of men, and the fabric of the world teaches us no such thing.
But the minor proposition is established by a three-fold proof. 1. By the testimony of the Scripture. 2. By the testimony of every sinner's conscience. 3. And by that of the public consent of all nations.
The Holy Scriptures testify that such an innate conception is implanted by God in the minds of men. Thus the apostle to the Romans, chap.i. 32. ' who knowing the judgment of God, that they who do such things are worthy of death. He is here speaking of those nations that were the most forsaken by God, and delivered over to a reprobate mind : yet even to these he ascribes some remaining knowledge of this immutable right of God, which renders it necessary, that every transgression should receive its just recompense of reward,' and that sinners should be deserving of death in such a manner, that it would be unworthy of God not to inflict it; that is to say, although the operations of this observing and acknowledging principle should often become very languid, and be even almost entirely overwhelmed by abounding wickedness; for what they know
naturally as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves,'yet, that mankind must cease to exist before they can altogether lose this innate sense of divine right and judgment. Hence the barbarians conclude against Paul, then a prisoner, and in bonds, seeing the viper hanging on one of his hands, that no doubt he was a murderer, whom, though he had escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffered not to live.' Here they argue, from the effect to the cause, which in matters relating to moral good or evil, they could not, unless 'convinced in their consciences, that there is an inviolable connexion between sin and punishment, which they here ascribe to justice.
Evidences of God's justice, from Pagan writers.
Justice among them, according to their fabulous theo. logy, which was particularly favoured by the bulk of the people, was the daughter of Jupiter, whom he set over the affairs of mortals, to avenge the injuries which they should do to one another, and to inflict condign punishment on all those who should impiously offend against the gods.
Hence, Hesiod speaking of Jupiter, says,
He married a second wife, the fair Themis, who brought forth the Hours,
Who should watch o'er the actions of mortal men.--Hesiod in Theog.
Justice is a virgin, descended from Jupiter,
Indirectly committing the injury, &c.--Hesiod in Oper.
I sing the eye of Justice, who looketh behind her, and is fair,
likewise sits upon the sacred throne of sovereign Jupiter,
God bath a just eye;
God hath found the transgressor.
In all which, and in numberless other such passages, the wisest men in those times of ignorance, have announced their sense of this vindicatory justice.
And among the Latins, the following passages prove their sense of the same.
Aspiciunt oculis, &c.
Raro 'antecedentem, &c. Seldom hath punishment, through lameness of foot, left off pursuit of the wicked man, though he hath had the start of her.-Horace.
Also, that celebrated response of the Delphic Oracle, recorded by Ælian :
But divine justice traces out the sources of crines,
heads of their
This then, as Plutarch says, is the ancient faith of mankind; or in the words of Aristotle, 'opinion concerning God,' which Dion Prusæensis calls 'a very strong and eternal persuasion, from time immemorial received, and still remaining among all nations.'
Secondly, The consciences of all mankind concur to corrobate this truth; but the cause which has numberless witnesses to support it, cannot fail. Hence, not only the flight, hiding places, and fig-leaf aprons of our primogenitor, but every word of dire meaning and evil omen, as terror, horror, tremor, and whatever else harasses guilty mortals, have derived their origin. Conscious to themselves of their wickedness, and convinced of the divine dominion over them, this idea, above all, dwells in their minds, that he with whom they have to do, is supremly just, and the avenger of all sin. From this consideration, even the people of God have been induced to believe, that death must inevitably be their portion, should they be but for once sisted in his presence. Not that the mass of the body is to us an obscure and dark prison (as the Platonists' dream), whence, when we obtain a view of divine things, being formerly enveloped by that mass, it is immediately suggested to the mind, that the bond of union between mind and body must be instantly dissolved.
It must indeed be acknowledged, that through sin we have been transformed into worms, moles, bats, and owls; but the cause of this general fear and dismay is not to be derived from this source.
The justice and purity of God, on account of which he can bear nothing impure or filthy to come into his presence, occurs to sinners minds : wherefore, they think of nothing else, but of a present God, of punishment prepared, and of deserved penalties to be immediately inflicted. The thought of the Deity bursting in upon the mind, imme
diately every sinner stands confessed a debtor, a guilty and self-condemned criminal. Fetters, prisons, rods, axes, and fire, without delay, and without end, rise to his view. Whence some have judged the mark set upon Cain to have been some horrible tremor, by which, being continually shaken and agitated, he was known to all. Hence too these following verses:
Whither flyest thou Enceladus ? Whatever coasts thou shalt arrive on,
Thou wilt always be under the eye of Jupiter. And these, *
As every one's conscience is, so in his heart he conceives hope or fear, according to his actions.
- This is the firtsa punishment, that even in his own judgment, no guilty person is acquitted.
You may think that we have passed over those whom a guilty conscience holds abashed, and lashes with its inexorable scourge; the mind, the executioner shaking the secret lash.'—See Voss. on Idol. book i. chap. 2.
It is the saying of a certain author, that punishment is coeval with injustice; and, that the horror of natural conscience is not terminated by the limits of human life.
Sunt aliquid manes : lethum non omnia finit,
And the light spirit escapes the vanquished funeral pile. Hence the famous verses of Adrian, the Roman Emperor, spoken on his death-bed:
Animula vagula, blandula,
Nec (ut soles) dabis joca. * Alas, my soul, thou pleasing companion of this body, thou fleeting thing, that art now deserting it! Whither art thou Aying ? To what unknown scene ? All trembling, fearful, and pensive! What now is become of thy former wit and humour ? Thou shalt jest and be gay no more.'
Translated thus by Pope. Ab fleeting spirit; wandering fire,
That long hast warm’d my tender breast, Must thou no more this frame inspire ? No more a pleasing cheerful guest?
a Or, Chief.
Whither, ah whither art thou flying!
To wbat dark undiscover'd shore ?
And wit and humour are no more ! • That which is truly evil,' says Tertullian, 'not even those who are under its influence, dare defend as pod. All evil fills nature with fear, or shame. Evil doers are glad to lie concealed; they avoid making their appearance: they tremble when apprehended.' Hence the Heathens have represented Jove himself, when conscious of any crime, as not free from fear. We find Mercury thus speaking of him in Plautus :
Etenim ille, &c.
There is no reason to wonder, that he should fear for himself. Hence too, mankind have a dread awe of every thing in nature that is grand, unusual, and strange; as thunders, lightenings, or eclipses of the heavenly bodies ; and tremble at every prodigy, spectre, or comet; nay, even at the hob-goblins of the night, exclaiming, like the woman of Sarepta, upon the death of her son, What have I to do with thee? Art thou come to put me in remembrance of my iniquities?' Hence, even the most abandoned of men, when vengeance for their sins hangs over their heads, have confessed their sins, and acknowledged the divine justice.
It is related by Suetonius, that Nero, that disgrace of human nature, just before his death, exclaimed, “My wife, my mother, and my father, are forcing me to my end." Most deservedly celebrated too is that expression of Mauricius the Capadocian, when slain by Phocas, 'Just art thou, O Lord, and thy judgments are righteous.'
But moreover, while guilty man dreads the consequences of evil, which he knows he has really committed, he torments and vexes himself even with fictitious fears and bugbears : hence these verses of Horace;
c Somnia, terrores magicos, miracula, sagas,
Nocturnos lemures, portentaque Thessala finxit. [rides?) b His mother, Agrippa, had poisoned her last husband, the Emperor Claudius, to make way for his succession; and Nero rewarded her, by causing her to be murdered. He likewise caused his wife, Octavia, and his tutor, Seneca, to lose their lives; and was, in every respect, perhaps one of the greatest monsters of wickedness that ever disgraced human nature.
c Hor. Epis. ii. 2. 208.