« PreviousContinue »
that the finners deliverance from condemnation was, in a proper and literal sense, merited by Christ's sufferings and death. I answer as before, that these are figurative expressions, like as what God said to Israel, Isaiah xliii. 3. I gave Egypt for thy ransom ; but Egypt was not given as a ransom for Ifrael, because it was Egypt they were in bondage to; but God gave Egypt to deftruétion, and wrought the Israelites deliverance thereby; and this, by a figure of speech, is called a ransom. In like manner, Christ gave his life a ransom for many; not properly, because God discharges the finner freely, forgiving him all trespasses, Rom. iii. 24. Col. ii. 13. but figuratively, as Christ's death was subservient to the sinner's deliverance, as I have shewn above,
Object. III. If the sufferings and death of Christ did not merit, or buy off the finner from condemnation, then they are of no more advantage, than the sufferings and death of the Apostles, or any other Martyrs. Answer, As the rendering to all their due is a general rule or law of equity; so, I think, we ought to follow that rule in the present case. God is the first mover, Christ is the prime instrument, and the Apostles and others are Jubordinate instruments in the work of man's falvation, John iii, 16, 17. God so loved the world, that he gave bis only begotten Son, that whofoever be lieveth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life : For God sent not his Son into the world, to condemn the world, but that the world, through bim, might be saved. i Cor. iii. 9. We are labourers together with God; ye, are God's husbandry, ye are God's building. Eph. ii. 20. And are built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ bimself being the chief corner-stone. James v. 20, Let him know, tbat he which converteth e finner from the error of bis way, shall save a soul from death,
änd shall cover a multitude of sins. Here we see, that as God's love is the first moving cause, and as Christ is the prime instrument ; fo
perfon, who sets forward the falvation of finners, is
subordinate instrument in the work of salvation ; and yet this does not set their labours or sufferings upon a level, because they are not alike subservient to that end..
Obje£t. IV. If the foregoing account of salvation, by Chrift, is true, then those, who lived before Christ's time, would have no benefit by his death. Anfier, Tho' the fufferings and death of Christ could not be an argument with such, to repent and return to God, yet they may be sharers in the benefits. of 'it ; becaufe it could as well be a sacrifice of atonement to those who lived before Chrift's time, as to those who lived after it ; and because the benefits of his intercefforship, the doing and suffering unto death, may extend as ground and cause of which us well to those who were before him, as to those who were after him; and, upon this account, Christ might be said to be a lamb pain from the foundation of the world; as in Rev. xiii. 8.
EN QU I RY
HIS Enquiry is three-fold ; firf, what justice is; fecondly, what rules must be obferved by those that adminifter it; and,
thirdly, whether God is a just Being; after which are objections with their answers.
First, What justice is ? Justice is the balance of common equity, by which is weighed out, or dispepsed, good and evil, in an equal proportion to the merit or demerit of things, or to any other right of claim that one being hath upon another : I say, to any other right of claim, because there may be a right of claim without merit, as in the café of free promises; for when one person makes a promise to another, to give him some good thing, free and unconditional, he doth, by that act, confer on him not only a right to claim and expect, but also of receiving and enjoying the good thing promised to him. And though the making of that promise may only be an act of bounty, because it is free and unconditional ; yet the keeping of that promise is an act of justice, because the benefactor is not free and at liberty, after such promise is made. Again, justice is a mean, in the adminiftration of good, between bounty and fraud, the balance of justice standing upon such an even poize, as that if it furn to one side it is bounty, if to the other it is fraud. Again, justice is a mean in the admini
ftration of evil, between mercy and cruelty, the balance of justice standing upon such an even poize, as that if it turn to one side it is mercy, if to the other it is cruelty.
Secondly, What rules must be observed by those that administer justice? In order to administer justice, according to the laws of common equity, every administrator must have regard to every juft claim, so as that all may have their due. And here it is to be noted, that, by the laws of common equity, every one has right to dispose of his own peculiar property, according to his own will, otherways the notion of property is destroy'd, or at leaft the having a propriety in any thing can. not be a privilege, for all the advantage arising krom property consists in this, that the proprietor is free and uncontroulable in the using, enjoying, and disposing of his own property, and is under no obligation, nor accountable to any, for the using, enjoying, or disposing of the same. But tho' every one may dispose of his own property, according to his own will, yet he has no right to dispose of the property of another ; therefore, in the administration of justice, two rules must be kept, according to the two different capacities the administrator may act in. The first rule is to be observ'd by him who hath no right or property concerned in the administration, but only acts by appointment. as an indifferent person. The rule is, he must keep the balance of justice upon an even poize, not varying a tittle on either side, whether in the administration of good or evil, but each party's right must equally be regarded; for, if either party is wrong'd, it becomes an act of criminal injustice in the administrator. The fecond rule is to be observ'd by him who acts as a party concerned in the adminiftration, and whose own property or right is as much concerned, as
the right and property of him to whom justice is administered. The rule is, he must have a strict regard to the right of him to whom justice is administered, so as not to break in upon it in the least degree ; if he administer evil, not to exceed the demerit of the crime ; if good, not to come short of the merit of the thing rewarded; for in both cases there is juft ground of complaint, and the administrator becomes guilty of criminal injustice. But, in regard of his own right; he is left free, to exercise either bounty, in rewarding beyond the merit, or mercy, in punishing less than the demerit of the thing, and if this is unjuft, as indeed strictly speaking it is, yet we conceive it is not criminal, yea, it would be so far from being a crime, that on the contrary it would be excellent and glorious, if the object be proper and suitable for that bounty or mercy to be ex
Thirdly, Whether God is a just Being ? This is answered in the affirmative. The argument for it is taken from God's goodness, and stands thus; if God is a good Being, then God is just; but God is a good Being, therefore God is just.
That God is good, is here taken for granted, as being allowed by all christians. And that his goodness proves him to be just, appears by what follows. Justice is a negative virtue, and when we say that God is just, we only say what he is not, namely, that he is not criminally unjust. Here it is to be noted, that, in the exercising of justice, God stands in the capacity of a party concerned, that is, God's right and property is as much concerned in that administration, as the right and property of him to whom justice is administered, and in this capacity he only stands engaged, by the laws of common equity, to have regard to the right of himn to whom justice is ad