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demption by Christ, would be attended with contumacy for ever: were it not for that consideration then, it would be unworthy of God to pardon the sins of any sinner.
Crellius adds, "Punishment is not owing to the sinner, but he owes it, and owes to him, on whom all the injury will ultimately redound, who is God.' But because punishment is not owing to the sinner, but he owes it to the ruler, it doth not follow, that the ruler may not inflict that punishment: punishment, indeed, is not so owing to the sinner that an injury would be done him, were it not inflicted: the debt of a sinner is not of such a kind, that he can ask or enforce the payment of it: and a debt, properly speaking, implies such a condition. But the sinner hath merited punishment in such a manner, that it is just he should suffer it: but again, the infliction of punishment belongs not to God, as injured; which Crellius signifies, but as he is the Ruler of all, and the Judge of sinners, to whom it belongs to preserve the good of the whole, and the dependance of his creatures on himself.
He thus proceeds: ‘But if you consider the thing in itself, every one has it in his power to prosecute his right, and likewise not to prosecute it, or to yield up of it as much as he pleases.'
Ans. As Socinus himself, in his third book of the Saviour,' chap. 2. hath afforded an opportunity to all our theologians who have opposed Socinianism, of discussing this foolish axiom, 'that every one may recede from his right;' we shall answer but in few words to these positions of Crellius, and to the conclusions which he there draws, as flowing from them.
There is then a double right: in the first place, that of a debt; in the second place, that of government : what is purely a debt, may be forgiven; for that only takes place in those things, which are of an indifferent right; the prosecution of which neither nature nor justice obliges. There is also a debt, though perhaps improperly so called, the right of which it is unlawful to renounce; but our sins, in respect of God, are not debts only, nor properly, but metaphorically" so called.
* The debt of a sinner is not any valuable consideration due to him, as a debt is to * a creditor; but due by him as a debtis by a debtor: and in consequence of the failure of payment, punishment becomes due to him, i. e. is or may be inflicted in vindication of violated justice; but this is what he could not either claim, or would wish to receive.
The right of government, moreover, is either natural or positive; the positive right of government, so to speak, is that which magistrates have over their subjects; and he who affirms that they can recede wholly from this right, must be either a madman or a fool; but this right, as far as pertains to its exercise in respect of the infliction of punishment, either tends to the good of the whole republic, as in ordinary cases ; or, as in some extraordinary cases, gives place, to its hurt: for it is possible that even the exaction of punishment, in a certain condition of a state, may be hurtful : in such a situation of things, the ruler or magistrate has a power not to use his right of government, in respect of particular crimes ; or rather, he ought to use it in such a manner as is the most likely to attain the end : for he is bound to regard principally the good of the whole ; and the safety of the people ought to be his supreme law. But he who affirms, that in ordinary cases a magistrate may renounce his right, when that renunciation cannot but turn out to the hurt of the public good, is a stranger to all right. The same person may also affirm, that parents may renounce their right over their children, so as not to take any care at all about them; and that they might do so lawfully, that is, consistent with honour and decency. Yea, this is not a cessation from the prosecution of right, but from the performance of a duty : for the right of government supposes a duty: ‘for rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil : wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: for he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid, for he beareth not the sword in vain : for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil."i The question is not what magistrates do, but what as the guardians and protectors of the law they ought to do. See Psal. ci. 8.
There is also a natural right of government: such is the
b Sin is most accurately defined by our Westminster divines, in that inimitable compendium of sound doctrine, the shorter catechism, to be 'any want of conformity unto, or transgression of the law of God.'
i Rom. xiii. 3, 4.
divine right over the creatures: the right, I say, of God over rational creatures is natural to him, therefore immutable, indispensable, and which cannot by any means be derogated. Thence too, the debt of our obedience is natural and indispensable, nor is there any other kind of obligation to punishment. God, from the very nature of the thing, has dominion over us, and our subjection to him, is either by obedience or a vicarious punishment, which succeeds in case of any omission or transgression on our part, as Crellius himself acknowledges. Those then who say, that it is free to God to use this right or not, as he pleaseth, may as well say, that it is free to God, to be our God and Lord or not. For the demand of obedience, and the exaction of punishment, equally belong to God. But the Judge of the universe exercises his right; and his perpetual right, whence sinners are accounted worthy of death, he cannot but preserve unimpaired and entire.
The remaining objections which are interspersed here and there in that book of his concerning God,' against the vindicatory justice of God, either fall in with those which have been mentioned from the 'Racovian catechism,' or shall be reduced to the order of those which follow.
We think proper, by way of conclusion, to annex some concessions of Crellius. There is,' says he, 'a certain regard to honour with which God himself cannot dispense." Every transgression then of that regard hath a punishment coeval with itself, which, from the justice of God must necessarily be inflicted. “Yea,' says he, neither the holiness nor majesty of God permit that his commands should, in any respect, be violated with impunity. But the holiness of God is natural to him : an essential, then, and necessary attribute of God requires the punishment of sinners : but he himself farther adds, it is unworthy of God to let the wickedness of obstinate sinners pass unpunished : for this is the first and perpetual effect of divine severity, not to pardon those who do not repent.'m But we know for certain, that all siņners would continue obstinate to all eternity, unless God be pleased, for Christ's sake, to renew them by his omnipotent grace to repentance. Crellius then grants, that it is unwor
k Book i. chap. xxiii. p. 180. 'Of the true Religion.' 1 Book i. chap. xxviji.
m Chap. xxii. 186, and chap. xxviii.
thy of God to let the sins of those pass unpunished, for whom Christ hath not made satisfaction. He again testifies also, that God hates and abhors all sin;" and grants that the mode of conducting the punishment of sin is derived from the divine justice. But the thing itself is from that same being, from whom the mode or manner of it is derived: if the mode of punishment be from divine justice, the punishment itself can flow from no other source.
CHAP. X. The opinion of Socinius considered. What he thought of our present ques..
tion,a viz. that it is the hinge on which the whole controversy, concerning the satisfaction of Christ turns. His vain boasting, as if having disproved this vindicatory justice, he had snatched the prize from his adversaries. Other clear proofs of the satisfaction of Christ. That it is our duty to acquiesce in the revealed will of God. The truth not to be forsaken. Mercy and justice not opposite. Vain distinctions of Socinus concerning divine justice. The consideration of these distinctions. His first argument against vindicatory justice. The solution of it. The anger
and verity of God, what. Universal and particular justice, in what they
agree. The false reasoning and vain boasting of the adversary. WE come now to Socinus himself. In almost all his writings he opposes this punitory justice. We shall consider what he hath written against Covetus, in that treatise of his entitled, Of Jesus Christ the Saviour;' and what he only repeats in other places, as occasion required. In the first book, and first chapter; and also in the third book, and first chapter of that work, expressly, and of set purpose, he opposes himself vehemently, and with all his might, to the truth on this point. But because he very well understood, that, by the establishment of this justice, a knife is put to the throat of his opinion, and that it cannot be defended (that is, that no reason can be given why Christ our Saviour is called Jesus Christ), he maintains that the whole controversy concerning the satisfaction of Christ hinges on this very question. The reader will perceive from the arguments already used, that I am of the same opinion. For, it being granted that this justice belongs to God, not even SoChap. xxx. 3. 9.
• Chap. i. p. 78. of bis Answer to Grotius. a Viz. Whether vindicatory justice be essential and natural to God, and the exercise of it or the punishment of sin, consequently necessary?
cinus, though doubtless a man of a great, very artful, and fertile genius, could devise any way of obtaining salvation for sinners without a satisfaction. For had he either found out one, or even feigned it upon a supposition, he would not have wanted the effrontery of imposing it on the minds of the credulous and fanatic, which, however, he nowhere hath attempted.
But on the other hand, gallantly supposing that he had removed this justice out of the way, as if the business were entirely settled, and the strong tower of his adversaries destroyed, he highly glories in the triumphs acquired for himself and his followers: 'for,' says he, having got rid of this justice, had we no other argument, that human fiction of the satisfaction of Jesus Christ must be thoroughly detected and totally vanish.' This vain boasting of his, the learned and pious have long ago sufficiently checked by innumerable testimonies from Scripture.
And forasmuch as the fact is abundantly clear, that Christ bore our sins, God laying them upon him, and that by his satisfaction he purchased eternal salvation; though it had even pleased God to keep the causes and reasons of this infinitely wise transaction, hid to all eternity, in the abyss of his own goodness and wisdom, it would have been our duty to acquiesce in the infinite holiness and wisdom of his will. So also it is beyond any doubt, that no helps of our faith are to be despised, and that no revelations of the divine nature and will are to be neglected, by which our merciful Father leads us into a more intimate and saving knowledge of this mystery of holiness.
We also, to whom the most sacred deposit of this divine truth hath been committed, would immediately judge ourselves unworthy of it, should we spontaneously betray any one point or jot of it, much less so strong a pillar of our faith and hope to its adversaries.. Though then we have other unanswerable proofs of the satisfaction of Christ, which the gates of hell shall in vain oppose, and numberless testimonies of the God who cannot lie; so that we may suppose Socinus is only idly insulting those, who grant that God might forgive sin without any intervention of a satisfaction, but that he would not, an expression which I by no means approve, we however think it necessary that