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inflict it to the utmost of his power, as fire burns with all its force: but this cannot be said without blasphemy.'
Here again, this learned man draws absurd conclusions from a false supposition. The nature of God requires that he should punish as far as is just, not as far as he is able. It is necessary, sin being supposed to exist, that he should inflict punishment; not the greatest that he is able to inflict, but as great as his right and justice require : for in ordaining punishment, he proceeds freely according to the rule of these. It is necessary that the glory of the divine holiness, purity, and dominion, should be vindicated; but in what manner, at what time, in what degree, or by what kind of punishment, belongs entirely to God; and we are not of his counsels: but I am fully confident, that the arguments last urged by this learned gentleman, may be answered in one word. I say, then, God punishes according to what is due to sin by the rule of his right, not to what extent he is able. As for instance, God does not use his omnipotence from an absolute necessity of nature; but supposing that he wills to do any work without himself, he cannot act but omnipotently. Neither, however, doth it hence follow, that God acts to the utmost extent of his power; for he might have created more worlds. We do not then affirm, that God is so bound by the laws of an absolute necessity, that like an insensible and merely natural agent, it would be impossible for him, by his infinite wisdom, to assign, according to the rule and demand of his justice, degrees, modes, duration, and extension of punishment; according to the degrees of the demerit, or circumstances of the sin; or even to transfer it upon the surety, who has voluntarily, and with his own approbation, submitted himself in the room of sinners; but we only affirm, that his natural and essential justice indispensably requires that every sin should have its just recompense of reward : and were not this the case, a sinful creature might emancipate itself from the power of its Creator and Lord. This very learned man having, according to his usual custom, introduced these preliminary observations, at length advances his answers to Piscator's argument; the nature and quality of which we shall particularly consider. That which he chiefly depends upon, which he forges from the Scripture, that asserts God, in respect of sin, to be “a con
suming fire,' we have examined in the proof of our second argument, and have shewn of how little weight it is to invalidate the force of our argument.
To that asseveration of Abraham, 'Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right ?' he thus answers; . He will do right certainly; but his own right, and will exercise it according to his own free appointment; but without the divine appointment, I acknowledge no right, to the exercise of which God can be influenced by any kind of necessity.'
Ans. That God exerciseth his right, or doeth right, according to his own free appointment, may be admitted in a sound sense; for in that exercise of his right he uses volition and understanding; or more properly, he hath not appointed or determined so to act; for so to act is natural and essential to him concerning the things about which there is no free determination. It is indeed of the free determination of God, that any right can be exercised, or any attribute manifested; for he freely decreed to create creatures, over which he hath a right; but he might not have decreed it so; and in every exercise of his right, there are certain things which we have mentioned before, which are not the objects of free determination; but that no right belongs to God, without his divine appointment, to the exercise of which he. is bound, is asserted without probability, and appears evidently false ; for supposing that God willed to create rational creatures, does it depend upon his free determination, that the right of dominion, and the exercise of it should belong to him? If so, God might be neither the Lord nor God of his creatures;, and a rational creature may be neither creature nor rational; for both its creation and reason suppose a dependance on, and subjection to, some Lord and Creator. If the right then of dominion depended on the free determination of God, then God might freely and justly determine that he would neither have nor exercise such right; for he might determine the contrary of that which he hath freely determined, without any injustice or any incongruity. From himself, then, and not from any one without himself, that is, from his own nature, he receives the obligation to exercise his right, both of dominion and of justice; thus, by nature he must speak truly, if he wills to speak.
But I cannot,' says this renowned man,'sufficiently express my astonishment at this very grave divine's assertion," viz. That God without injury to his justice, may will evil antecedently to whomsoever he pleases (for which I do not find fault with him), but that he does not assert that God, for the same, or a better reason, might do good to a creature, notwithstanding its demerit, by pardoning its sin.'
If by 'willing evil antecedently' be understood his willing to inflict evil without regard to the demerit of sin, it is a point too intricate for me to determine; if the evil refer to the infliction of it, I must differ from this learned doctor. If it refer to the willing, the assertion avails not his cause; for, if we suppose that God, without doing injury to any one, without dishonouring any of his own attributes, without regard to sin, hath decreed to punish a creature for the sin that it was to commit; would it not thence follow, that God might let sin pass unpunished, in despite both of his own glory, and to the entire destruction of the dependance of rational, creatures; nor is the following comment of our celebrated opponent of any greater weight, viz. “That God would not be omnipotent, if he necessarily punishes sin; for thence it would follow, that God cannot annihilate a sinful creature which he created out of nothing; which,' says he, ‘ is evidently contrary to omnipotence.'
But how many things are there which this learned gentleman himself acknowledges, that God, with respect to his decree, cannot do without any disparagement to his omnipotence? He could not break the bones of Christ; but the person must be deprived of reason who would assert, that this is any diminution of the divine omnipotence. If, then, there be many things which God cannot do without any the smallest detraction from his omnipotence, because by a free determination he hath decreed not to do them, is he to be thought less omnipotent, so to speak, because he cannot, on account of his justice, let sins committed pass unpunished ? Is God not omnipotent, because on account of his nature he cannot lie? Yea, he would not be omnipotent if he could renounce his right and justice; for to permit a sinful creature to shake off his natural dominion, is not a mark of omnipotençe bụt of impotence; than which nothing is, more remote from God.
a Viz, Piscator's. b Because if he punished a creature for sin merely, because he willed or determined so to do; and not because the nature of sin necessarily so required; he might as easily will the contrary, and consequently the subordination of the creature would be entirely subverted.
After having brought the dispute thus far, and accurately weighed what remains of Dr. Twiss's answer to Piscator, there seemed to me nothing that could occur to give any trouble to an intelligent reader; as there is no reason, then, either to give farther trouble to the reader or myself on this point, we here conclude the controversy: and this I do with entertaining the strongest hopes that no person of discretion, or who is unacquainted with the pernicious devices which almost every where abound, will impute it to me as a matter of blame, that I, a person of no consideration, and so very full too of employment, that I could devote only a few leisure hours to this disputation, should have attacked the theological digression of a man so very illustrious and renowned; not only among our own countrymen, but even in foreign nations; as the attack has been made in the cause of truth.
Rutherford reviewed. An oversight of that learned man. His opinion of punitory justice. He contends that divine justice exists in God freely. The consideration of that assertion. This learned writer and Twiss disagree. His first argument. Its answer. The appointment of Christ to death, twofold. The appointment of Christ to the mediatorial office, an act of supreme dominion. The punishment of Christ an act of punitory justice. An argument of that learned man, easy to answer. The examination of the same. The learned writer proves things not denied ; passes over things to be denied. What kind of necessity we ascribe to God in punishing sins. A necessity upon a condition supposed. What the suppositions are upon which that necessity is founded. A difference between those things which are necessary by a decree, and those which are so from the divine nature. The second argument of that learned man. His obscure manner of writing pointed out. Justice and mercy different in respect of their exercise. What it is to owe the good of punitory justice to the universe. This learned man's third argument. The answer. Whether God could
forbid sin, and not under the penalty of eternal death. Concerning the management of punishment in human courts from the divine appointment. The manner of it. What this learned author understands by the internal court of God. This learned author's fourth argument. All acts of graçe have a respect to Christ. His fifth argument. The answer. A dissertation on the various degrees of punishment. For what reason God may act unequally with equals. Concern
ing the delay of punishment, and its various dispensations. The consideration of the arguments advanced by Mr. Samuel Rutherford against this truth which we are now maintaining, shall conclude this dissertation. He maintains, as I have observed before, That punitory justice exists not in God by necessity, of nature, but freely. And he has said, that Twiss hath proved this, by a variety of arguments; one of which, in preference to the others, he builds on, as unanswerable.
But, with this great man's leave, I must tell him, that Twiss hath never even said, much less proved, “That punitory justice exists freely in God, and not from a necessity of nature ;' nor, indeed, can it be said by any one, with any, shew of reason : for punitory justice denotes the habit of justice; nor is it less justice because it is punitory. But be assured the accurate Twiss hath never main
d In his book on Providence, chap. 22. page 345.