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things different from that, which divine wisdom has appointed.
When therefore, Grotius, Stillingfleet, and Clarke are charged (as they are in H. Taylor's B. Mord. Let. 5.) with contending for “ the necessity of a vindication of God's honour, either by the suffering of the offenders, or by that of Christ in their room," they are by no means to be considered as contending, that it was impossible for God to have established such a dispensation, as might enable him to forgive the Sinner without some satisfaction to his justice, which is the sense forcibly put upon their words : but that, according to the method and dispensation which God's wisdom has chosen, there results a moral necessity of such vindication, founded in the wisdom and prudence of a Being, who has announced himself to mankind, as an upright Governor; resolved to maintain the observance of his laws.
That by the necessity spoken of, is meant but a moral necessity, or in other words a fitness and propriety, Dr. Clarke himself informs us : for he tells us, (Sermon 137. vol. ii. p. 142. fol. ed.) that “when the honour of God's laws had been diminished by sin, it was reasonable and necessary, in respect of God's wisdom in governing the world, that there should be a vindication," &c. And again, (Sermon 138. vol. ii. p. 150.) in answer to the question, “ could not God, if he had pleased, absolutely, and of his supreme anthoritv
without any sufferings at all, have pardoned the sins of those, whose repentance he thought fit to accept?" he says, " it becomes not us, to presume to say he had not power so to do :" but that there seems to be a fitness, in his testifying his indignation against sin: and that “the death of Christ was necessary, to make the pardon of sin reconcileable, not perhaps absolutely with strict justice (for we cannot presume to say that God might not, consistently with mere justice, have remitted as much of his own right as he pleased)—but it was necessary, at least in this respect, to make the pardon of sin, consistent with the wisdom of God, in his good government of the world ; and to be a proper attestation of his irreconcileable hatred against all unrighteousness."
That the word necessary is imprudently used by Dr. Clarke and others, I readily admit; as it is liable to be misunderstood, and furnishes matter of cavil to those, who would misreprésent the whole of the doctrine. But it is evident from the passages
I have cited, that so far from considering the sacrifice of Christ, as a debt paid to, because rigorously exacted by, the divine justice, it is represented by Dr. Clarke, and generally understood, merely as a fit expedient, demanded by the wisdom of God, whereby mercy might be safely administered to sinful man. Now it is curious to remark, that H. Taylor, who so warmly objects to this notion of a necessity of vindicating God's
honour, as maintained by Clarke, &c. when he comes to reply to the Deist, in defence of the scheme of Christ's mediation, uses a mode of reasoning, that seems exactly similar. “God, he says (B. Mordec. Let. 5.) was not made placable by intercession; but was ready and willing to forgive, before, as well as after : and only waited to do it in such a manner, as might best shew his regard to righteousness.”—Is not this in other words saying, there was a fitness, and consequently a moral necessity, that God should have forgiven sins through the intercession and meritorious obedience of Christ, for the purpose of vindicating his glory as a righteous Governor ?
The profound Bishop Butler makes the following observations upon the subject of this Number.-Certain questions (he says) have been brought into the subject of redemption, and determined with rashness, and perhaps with equal rashness contrary ways. For instance, whether God could have saved the world by other means than the death of Christ, consistently with the general laws of his government. And, had not Christ come into the world, what would have been the future condition of the better sort of men ; those just persons over the face of the earth, for whom, Manasses in his prayer asserts, repentance was not appointed. The meaning of the first of these questions is greatly ambiguous : and neither of them can properly be answered, with.
out going upon that infinitely absurd supposition, that we know the whole of the case. And
perhaps the very enquiry, what would have followed if God had not done as he has, may have in it some very great impropriety, and ought not to be carried on any farther, than is necessary to help our partial and inadequate conceptions of things. (Butler's Analogy, p. 240.)-Such were the reflexions of that great divine and genuine philosopher, who at the same time maintained the doctrine of Atonement in its legitimate strictness. Will it then still be said, that divines of the Church of England uphold, as, a part of that doctrine, the position, that men could not have been saved, had not Christ died to purchase their forgiveness?
NO. XVIII.-ON THE MODE OF REASONING WHERE
BY THE SUFFICIENCY OF GOOD WORKS WITHQUT MEDIATION IS ATTEMPTED TO BE DE
FENDED FROM SCRIPTURE.
PAGE 24. (1)-Dr. Priestley enumerates a great variety of texts to this purpose, in his 3rd. paper of the signature of Clemens. (Theol. Repos. vol. i.) Dr. Sykes, in the 2d. ch. of his Scripture Doctrine of Redemption, and H. Taylor, in his 5th and 6th Letters, (B. Mord.) have done the same. Dr. Priestley adds to these texts, the instances of Job, David, Hezekiah, Nehemiah, and Daniel, to shew that on good works alone, de
pendance was to be placed for acceptance : and that the pardon of sin is every where in Scripture represented, as dispensed solely on account of man's personal virtue, without the least regard to the sufferings or merit of any being whatever. A
great display is constantly made of texts of this nature, by all who oppose the received doctrine of atonement. But it is to be remarked, that as they all amount merely to this, that repentance and a good life are acceptable to God; the inference derived from them can only have weight against that doctrine, when its supporters, shall disclaim repentance and a good life, as necessary concomitants of that faith in Christ's merits, whereby they hope to be saved : or when it shall be made to appear from Scripture, that these are of themselves sufficient. But do those writers, who dwell so much on good works, in opposition to the doctrine of atonement, seriously mean to insinuate, that the advocates of this doctrine, endeavour to stretch the beneficial influence of Christ's death, to the impenitent and disobedient?
-Or can it be necessary to remind them, that obedience and submission to the divine will, are the main ingredients of that very spirit, which we hold to be indispensable to the producing and perfecting of a Christian faith? And again, do they wish to infer, that because these qualities are acceptable to God, they are so in themselves, and independent of all other considerations? Is it