« PreviousContinue »
the right of God, or that which we call Jus Domini, a right, power, and liberty of rule or government. For it is not enough that any one be righteous to enable him to act righteously, with respect to others, but moreover he must have a right so to act; and this right in God is supreme and sovereign, arising naturally and necessarily from the relation of all things to himself; being all placed in an universal, indispensable, and absolutely unchangeable dependence on him, according to their natures and capacities.
The right of God, therefore, to rule over us, is wholly of another kind and nature, than any thing is or can be among the sons of men; for it is a sovereign right to deal with us, and act towards us, according to the infinite, eternal rectitude of his nature. And as he hath a right so to do, so he cannot do otherwise, supposing the state and condition wherein we are made and placed, with the nature of our relation to, and dependence on God; for God can act no otherwise towards us but according to what the essential rectitude of his nature doth direct and require; which is the foundation of what we plead in the case before us, concerning the necessity of the priesthood.
$3. Again, the righteousness of God may be considered with respect to its exercise, which supposeth the right of God before declared. For, suppose the creation of all things, and it is as natural and essential to God to be the ruler over them, as it is to be God. Now, the exercise of the righteousness of God, in pursuit of his right of rule, is either absolute and antecedent, or respective and consequential. In the former respect it is exercised in his laws and promises; in virtue of the latter. he distributes rewards and punishments to his creatures according to their work. And one part of this consists in the punishing of sin, as it is
a transgression of his law; and this is that wherein, at present, we are concerned; for we say that the rightcousness of God, as he is the Supreme Ruler of the world, doth require, necessarily, that sin be punished, or the transgression of that law, which is the instrument of his rule, be avenged.
$4. The exercise of this righteousness in God presupposeth, the creation of intelligent rational creatures in a moral dependence on himself, capable of being ruled by a law, in order to his glory and their own blessedness; the nature of the law given to those creatures, as the means and instrument of their moral, orderly dependence on God, which order the breach of that law would disturb; the eternal, natural, unchangeable right that God hath to govern these creatures, according to the tenor of that law; the sin of these creatures, which was destructive of all that order of things, which ensued on the creation, and the giving of the law; for it was destructive of the principal end of the creation, and of the dependence of the creatures upon God; and was introductory of a state of things utterly opposite to the universal rectitude of the Divine nature.
We say, then, that upon a supposition of all these antecedaneous free acts, and of the necessary continuance of God's righteousness of rule and judgment, it was necessary that the sinning creature should be punished according to the sentence of the law.
Hence the necessity and special nature of the priesthood of Christ. Designed it was in grace, as we have before proved, on supposition that God would save sinners, but it was this justice that made it necessary, and determined its nature. For this was that, which indispensably required the punishment of sin, and, therefore, was it necessary, that he who would save sinners should undergo for them the punishment that was due to them. But because this could not be done by men suffering or enduring punishment, which is a thing in its own nature indifferent, the will and obedience of Christ, in the manner of undergoing it, was also required. This made his priesthood necessary; whereby, whilst he underwent the punishment due to our sins, "he offered himself an acceptable sac"rifice,” for their expiation.
$5. What is now distinctly proposed to confirmation, is, “That the justice, or righteousness of God, as “exercised in the rule and government of his rational “creatures, did indispensably and necessarily require, “that sin committed should be punished;" whence ariseth the special nature of the priesthood of Christ. But we shall premise a few observations, which tend to the right explication of the truth.
1. There are some attributes, as the wisdom and power of God, which do not find, but produce the objects of their first actings ad extra. These, therefore, in these actings must needs be absolutely and every way free, being limited and directed only by the sovereign will and pleasure of God. But there are properties of the Divine nature, which cannot act according to their nature, without a supposition of an antecedent object, and that qualified in such or such a manner. Such is his vindictive justice, and pardoning mercy; for if there be no sinners, none can be punished or pareloned.
2. The rule of God's acting from his vindictive justice, is not a mere free act of his will, but the natural dominion and rule which he hath over sinning creatures, in answer to the rectitude and holiness of his Own nature, Neither does he punish sin as he can; that is, to the utmost of his power, but as the rule of
his government, and the order of things in the universe disposed to his glory, do require.
3. This justice exerted itself in one signal act antecedent to the sin of man; namely, in the prescription of a pænal law; that is, in the annexing of the penalty of death to the transgression of the law. This God did not merely because he would do so, nor because he could do so; but because the order of all things, with respect to their dependence upon himself, as the Supreme Ruler of all, did so require. For had God only given men a law of the rule of their dependence on, and subjection to him, and not inseparably annexed a penalty to its transgression, it was possible, that man, by sin, might have cast off all his moral dependence on God, and set himself at liberty from his rule. And having broken and disannulled the sole law of his dependence, what should we have had more to do with him? But this case was obviated by the justice of God, in pre-disposing the order of punishment, to succeed in the room of the order of obedience,
if that were broken. And that this provision should be made, the nature of God indispensably required.
4. This justice of God, I say, required a punishment of sin, as a punishment; but the way and degree, the time, season, and manner of it; belong to his sovereign will and wisdom; and I say not that God punisheth sin necessarily, as the sun gives out light and heat, or as the fire burns, or as heavy things tend downward by necessity of nature; he doth it freely, exerting his power by a free act of his will. For the necessity asserted doth only exclude an antecedent indifference upon all the suppositions laid down. It denies, that on these respects it is absolutely indiferent with God, whether sin be punished, or no. Such
an indifference, I say, is opposite to the nature, law, truth, and rule of God; and, therefore, such a necessity as excludes it, must herein be asserted. But herein God is a free agent, and acts freely in what he doth. Suppose the determination of his will, and the Divine nature necessarily requireth an acting suitable to itself. It is altogether free to God, whether he will speak to any of his creatures or no; but supposing the determination of his will, that he will so speak, it is absolutely necessary, that he speak truly; for truth is an essential property of his nature; whence he is God, that cannot lie. It was absolutely free to God, whether he would create this world or no; but on supposition that he would create it, he could not but create it omnipotently and wisely; for so his nature doth require, because he is essentially omnipotent, and infinitely wise. So there was no absolute necessity in the nature of God, that he should punish sin; but on supposition that he would create man, and would permit him to sin, it was necessary that his sin should be avenged; for this his righteousness and dominion over his creatures did require.
86. It is objected, “That on the same supposition, “it will be no less necessary that God should pardon “sin, than that he should punish it; for mercy is no less "an essential property of his nature, than justice.” But those by whom the substitution of the Son of God to answer Divine Justice is denied, can give no tolerable account, why all are not condemned, seeing God is infinitely righteous; or all are not pardoned, seeing he is infinitely merciful. But the truth is, there is not the same reason of the actual exercise of justice and mercy. For
the entrance of sin, as it respects the rule of God, the first thing that respects it, is justice, the province of which is, to preserve all things in