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this bulwark of punitory justice, a point beyond all doubt of the last importance to the cause, however it shall be disposed of, should be defended from the insults of adversaries.
In the first place, then, in the first chapter of the beforementioned book, when going to dispute against this justice, he supposes, that according
to our opinion, it is opposed to mercy, and that it is contrary to; it and builds upon this false supposition, through the whole of his treatise, both in making his objections and answers. I acknowledge that he seized the opportunity of making this blunder from Covetus, against whom he is combating, who improperly and inaccurately hath said, that this justice is opposed to mercy, because they have different effects ; but we have formerly shewn, that they are neither essentially, nor actually, nor effectively opposite, as both of them are the very perfection of Deity itself, but that they are only distinguished as to their object, and not as to their subject. In all the sophisms then, in which he afterward endeavours to prove, that the Scripture acknowledges no such justice in God, as is opposed to mercy, he trifles through a perpetual mistake of the argument. But that justice which we mean, he
is twofold, in God. The first,' as he says, 'is that by which he punishes and destroys the wicked and ungodly, that is, those who obstinately persevere in wickedness, and who are not led from a repentance of their sins to have recourse to God. The second is that, by which, even those whom in his great goodness he approves as just, were he so to will it, could not stand in his presence.'
But he again affirms in the same chapter, 'that the justice of God is twofold, that one kind he always uses when he punishes abandonedly wicked and obstinate sinners, sometimes according to his law; the other kind when he punishes sinners neither obstinate, nor altogether desperate, but whose repentance is not expected.' And of both these kinds of justice he brings some proofs from Scripture.
That punitory justice is one alone and individual, we affirm; but that it is variously exercised, on account of the difference of the objects about which it is employed, we acknowledge; but this, by no means proves it to be twofold; for he ought not, among men, to be said to be endowed with a twofold justice, who renders different recompenses to those who merit differently. But his whole treatise, from beginning to end, is disgracefully built on a mistaken and falsely assumed principle: for he supposes, that every sin shall not receive its just recompense of reward,' from divine justice; but that God punishes some sins, and can punish others only if he please. From an exceeding desire to exclude all consideration of the satisfaction of Christ entirely, in the matter of inflicting punishment for sins, he stumbled against this stone: for God most certainly will finally pu.. nish the impenitent to all eternity; because he is just, and because there is no sacrifice for their sins: nor is it less true, that God casts out and destroys many, who are strangers to the covenant of grace, not waiting for their repentance; but that he effectually leads others to repentance; not because he exerciseth a twofold justice, but because his justice hath been satisfied for the sins of the latter by Christ, whereas it is not so with regard to the former. See Rom. iii. 25. But because he would not acknowledge the foundation for that distinction, which may be seen in the acts or exercise of the divine justice concerning sinners, to be laid in the blood of Christ, he hath feigned a twofold justice, and a twofold mercy opposed to it, of which there is not the most distant mention made in the sacred Scriptures ; and which ought not by any means to be ascribed to the divine nature, which is in itself most simple.
But coming to himself again, he denies that in the sacred writings there is any mention at all made of any kind of justice that is opposed to mercy; we, indeed, have never said that justice is opposed to mercy; but as it clearly appears, that it is his wish to deny to God the whole of that kind of justice, whence in punishing sins he is said, or may be said to be just (which punishment is an effect different from the pardon of sin that flows from mercy), we choose not to contend about words. Let us see then what kind of arguments he produces to support his robbing God of this essential attribute. He says, ' that the word justice, when applied to God in the sacred writings, is never opposed to mercy, but chiefly, and for the most 'part, means rectitude and equity.'
It hath been already several times shewn, that justice
and mercy are not opposite. We have likewise demonstrated by many proofs adduced before, that the rectitude of supreme perfection of the divine nature, is often called justice in Scripture : but this, I am sure, is by no means of advantage, but of much hurt to the cause of. Socinianism. Let him proceed then.
But that,' says he, 'which is opposed to mercy, is not named justice by the sacred writers; but is called severity, or anger, or fury, or vengeance, or by some such name.'
But our opponent avails himself nothing by this assertion; for that which is false proves nothing. By that, which he says, is opposed to mercy, he understands that virtue in God, by which he punishes sins and sinners according as they deserve. But that this is never called justice in Scripture, or that God is not thence said to be just, is so manifestly false, that no body would dare to affirm it, but one determined to say any thing in support of a bad cause. Let the reader but consult the passages adduced on this head in the third chapter, and he will be astonished at the impudence of the man. But all are agreed, that anger, fury, and words denoting such troubled affections, ought not properly to be ascribed to God, but only in respect of their effects ; though analogically and reductively they belong to corrective justice; because, in exercising his judgments, God is said to use them; but they do not denote any perfection inherent in God, any farther than they can be reduced to justice; but only a certain mode of certain divine actions ; for God doth not punish sins because he is angry, but because he is just; although in the punishment of them, according to our conception of things, he discovers anger.
He next proceeds to produce some passages, in order to prove that the justice of God, in the sacred writings, viz. that universal justice, which we have before described, is often used for the infinite rectitude of the divine nature (what nobody ever denied), where, in mentioning the justice of faithfulness and remunerative justice, agreeable to his faithfulness, which always hath respect to the covenant of grace, ratified and established in the blood of Christ, God is said to pardon sins, and to reward those that believe according to his justice; and thence he concludes,' that a justice opposed to mercy, by which God must punish sin; is not inherent in God.' For what,' says he,' is more agreeable to the divine nature, and consequently, more equitable and just, than to do good to the wretched and despised race of mankind, though unworthy; and freely to make them partakers of his glory.'
b i. e. by consequence.
This surely is trifling in a serious matter, if any thing can be so called, for even novices will not bear one to argue from a position of universal justice to a negation of particular justice; much less shall we readily assent to him, who maintain, that that particular justice is by no means distinguished from the universal rectitude of the divine nature; but that that rectitude is so called, in respect of the egresses, that it has, in consequence of the supposition of sin; but it is consonant with sound doctrine, 'that that which is agreeable to the divine nature, should be considered also as righteous and just;' and this Socinus acknowledges. We agree, that it is agreeble to the divine nature to do good to sinners ; but at the same time we dare not deny, 'that the right of God is, that those who transgress are worthy of death ; both which properties of his nature, he hath very clearly demonstrated in the satisfaction of Christ; 'whom he hath set forth to be a propitiation, through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins;' whom, while the heretic rejecteth, he walketh in darkness, a stranger to the true and saving knowledge of God, and engaged wholly in his own vain imaginations.
But Socinus, as if having achieved some great exploit, at length thus concludes: That punitory justice is not a virtue inherent in God, or a divine quality or property, but the effect of his will; and that that justice, by which God always punishes impenitent sinners, is so called, not properly, but by accident, viz. because it is agreeable to true justice or rectitude. We have already considered the arguments that he has produced in support of this opinion; whether they be of such weight, that they should induce us to deny this justice; and whether, to punish sinners be essential and proper to God, or only accidental, let the readers, from what hath been said on the subject, determine. So much for our first skirmish with Socinus.
The arguments of Socinus against punitory justice weighed. A false hy
pothesis of his. Sins, in what sense they are debts. The first argument of Socinus, in which he takes for granted what ought to have been proved. A trifling supposition substituted for a proof. Whether that excellence, by virtue of which God punishes sins, be called justice in the Scriptures. The severity of God, what. Our opponent's second argument. It labours under the same deficiency as the first. It is not opposite to mercy to punish the guilty. There is a distinction between acts and habits. Our opponent confounds them. The mercy of God infinite, so also is his justice. A distinction of the divine attributes. In pardoning sins through Jesus Christ, God hath exercised infinite justice and infinite mercy. The conclusion of the contest with Socinus.
In the third part, and first chapter of his treatise, being determined to contend, to his utmost, against the satisfaction of Christ, he maintains, 'that God, consistent with his right, could pardon our sins, without any real satisfaction received for them. And he endeavours to support the assertion, chiefly by the following argument, viz. “ That God is our creditor, that our sins are debts, which we have contracted with him; but that every one may yield up his right, and more especially God, who is the supreme Lord of all, and extolled in the Scriptures for his liberality and goodness. Hence, then, it is evident, that God can pardon sins without any satisfaction received; and that he is inclined to do so, he uses his best endeavours afterward to prove.'
But because he foresaw that his first supposition, the foundation of his whole future reasoning, was too much exposed and obnoxious to the divine justice, he labours hard, in the first chapter, to remove that out of the way entirely. Let us attend then to his reasoning, and follow him step by step; for if he have not insuperably, and beyond all confutation proved, that God can forgive sins without a satisfaction, what he afterward argues concerning the will, liberality, and mercy of God, will become of no weight or consideration; yea, the foundation being destroyed, the whole edifice, or Babylonish tower, must instantly tumble to the ground. He thus proceeds:
• But you will say, It is necessary that God should take