Billeder på siden

God's punishing sin, on account of the demerit and hatefulness of it absolutely considered, and not directly as God is interested in the affair. But now, if we consider sin as levelled against God, not only compensative justice to the sinner, but justice to himself, requires that God should punish sin with infinite punishment. Sin casts contempt on the majesty and greatness of God. The language of it is, that he is a being not worthy to be honoured or feared; not so great, that his displeasure is worthy to be dreaded; and that his threatenings of wrath are despicable. Now, the proper vindication or defence of God's majesty in such a case is, for God to contradict this language in his providence towards sin that speaks it, or to contradict the language of sin in the event and fruit of sin. Sin says, God is a being not worthy that the sinner should fear him; and so affronts him without fear. The proper vindication of God's majesty from this is, for God to shew, by the event, that he is an infinitely fearful and terrible being. The language of sin is, that God's displeasure is not worthy that the sinner should regard it. The proper vindication of God from this language is, to shew, by the experience of the event, the infinite dreadfulness of that slighted displeasure. In such a case, the majesty of God requires this vindication. It cannot be properly vindicated without it, neither can God be just to himself without this vindication; unless there could be such a thing as a repentance, humiliation, and sorrow, proportionable to the greatness of the majesty despised. When the majesty of God has such contempt cast upon it, and is trodden down in the dust by vile sinners, it is not fit that this infinite and glorious majesty should be left under this contempt; but that it should be vindicated by something opposite to the contempt, which is equivalent to it, or of weight sufficient to balance it ; either an equivalent punishment, or an equivalent sorrow and repentance. So that sin must be punished with an infinite punishment.

§ 8. There is a necessity of sin's being punished with a' condign punishment, from the law of God that threatens such punishment. All but Epicureans will own, that all moral agents, are subjects of God's moral government: and that therefore he has given a law to his creatures. But if God has given a law to his creatures, that law must have sanctions, i. e. it must be enforced with threatenings of punishment; otherwise it fails of having the nature of a law, and is only of the nature of counsel or advice; or rather of a request. For one being to express his inclination or will to another, concerning any thing he would receive from him, any love or respect, without any threatening annexed, but leaving it with the person applied to,

whether he will grant it or not, supposing that his refusal wili be with impunity; is properly of the nature of a request. It does not amount to counsel or advice; because, when we give counsel to others, it is for their interest. But when we express our desire or will of something we would receive from them, with impunity to them whether they grant it or not, this is more properly requesting than counselling. No doubt it falls far short of the nature of law-giving. For such an expression of one's will as this, is an expression of will, without any expression of authority. It holds forth no authority, for us merely to manifest our wills or inclinations to another; nor indeed does it exhibit any authority over a person applied to, to promise him rewards. So persons may, and often do promise rewards to others, for doing those things that they have no power to oblige them to. So may persons do to their equals: So may a king do to others who are not his subjects. This is rather bargaining with others, than giving them laws. That expression of will only is a law, which is exhibited in such a manner as to express the law-giver's power over the person to whom it is manifested, expressing his power of disposal of him, according as he complies or refuses; that which shews power over him, so as to oblige him to comply, or to make it be to his cost if he refuses.


9. For the same reason that it is necessary the divine law should have a threatening of condign punishment annexed, it is also necessary that the threatening should be fulfilled.For the threatening wholly relates to the execution. If it had no connection with execution, it would be wholly void, and would be as no threatening and so far as there is not a connection with execution, whether that be in a greater or lesser degree; so far and in such a degree is it void, and so far approaches to the nature of no threatening, as much as if that degree of unconnection was expressed in the threatening. As for instance, if sin fails of threatened punishment half the times, this makes void the threatening in one half of it, and brings it down to be no more than if the threatening had expressed only so much, that sin should be punished half the times that it is committed. But if it be needful that all sin in every act should be forbidden by law, i. e. with a prohibition and threatening of condign punishment annexed, and that the threatening of sin with condign punishment should be universal; then it is necessary that it should be universally executed. A threatening of an omniscient and true being can be supposed to signify no more punishment than is intended to be executed, and is not necessarily to be understood of any more. A threatening, if it signifies any thing, is a signification of some connection

between the crime and the punishment. But the threatening of an omniscient being, cannot be understood to signify any more connection with punishment than there is.

10. If it be needful that there should be a divine law, it is needful that this divine law should be maintained in the nature, life, authority and strength that is proper to it as a law. The nature, life, authority and strength of every law, consists in its sanction, by which the deed is connected with the com pensation; and therefore depends on the strength and firmness of that connection. In proportion as that connection is weak, in such proportion does the law lose its strength, and fails of the proper nature and power of a law, and degenerates towards the nature of requests and expressions of will and desire to receive love and respect, without being enforced with authority. Dispensing with the law by the lawgiver, so as not to fulfil or execute it, in its nature does not differ from an abrogation of it, unless the law contains in itself such a clause, that it shall or may be dispensed with, and not fulfilled in certain cases, or when the lawgiver pleases. But this would be a contradiction. For, if the law contained such a clause; then, not to fulfil it, would be according to the law, and a fulfilment of the law; and therefore there would be no dispensing with the law in it, because it is doing what the law itself directs to. The law may contain clauses of exception, wherein particular cases may be excepted from general rules; but it cannot make provision for a dispensation. And therefore, for the lawgiver to dispense with it, is indeed to abrogate it. Though it may not be an abrogating it wholly, yet it is in some measure changing it, To dispense with the law, in not fulfilling it on him that breaks it, is making the rule give place to the sinner. But certainly it is an indecent thing, that sin, which provokes the execution, should procure the abrogation of the law. The necessity of fulfilling the law, in the sense mentioned, appears from Matt. v. 18. "For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, until all be fulfilled." The words will allow of no other tolerable sense.

§ 11. It is necessary that the law of God should be maintained and executed, and not dispensed with or abrogated for the sake of the sinner, for the following reasons:

The nature and being of the law requires it. For, as has been already shewn, by such dispensation it loses the life and authority of a law, as it respects the subject. But it does not only fail of being a law in this respect; it fails of being a rule to the Supreme Judge. The law is the great rule of righteousness and decorum, that the Supreme and Universal Rector has


2 H

established and published, for the regulation of things in the commonwealth of the universality of intelligent beings and moral agents; a rule, by which things are not only to be regulated between one subject and another, but between the king and subjects; that it may be a rule of judgment tothe one, as well as a rule of duty to the other. It is but reasonable to suppose, that such a rule should be established and published for the benefit of all that belong to this universal commonwealth, to be a rule to direct both their actions towards each other, and their expectations from each other, that they may have a fixed and known rule by which they are to act and to be dealt with, to be both active and passive as members of this commonwealth. The subject is most nearly concerned, not only in the measure of his own actions, but also in the consequences of them, or the method of his judge's determinations concerning him. None that own the existence of a divine law, with threatenings annexed, can deny that there actually is such a rule as this, that relates both to the manner of the creature's acting, and also the judge's acting towards him as subject to that law. For none will deny, that the precepts relate to the manner of the subject's acting, and that the threatenings relate to the manner of the judge's proceeding with the subject, in consequence of his obedience or disobedience. It is needful that this great rule for managing affairs in this universal commonwealth, should be fixed and settled, and not be vague and uncertain. So far as it fails of this, it ceases to be of the nature of a rule. For it is essential to the nature of a rule, that it be something fixed. But if it be needful that it be something fixed, then it is needful that the author, and he by whom it subsists, should maintain and fulfil it, and not depart from it; because that is in a measure to disannul it. If he doth so, therein the rule becomes unfixed, and it so far ceases to be a rule to the judge.

§ 12. That the law should be made to give place_to the sinner, is contrary to the direct design of the law. For the law was made, that the subject should be regulated by it, and give place to it; and not to be regulated by the subject, and to give place to him, especially to a wicked, vile, rebellious subject. The law is made, that it might prevent sin, and cause it not to be; and not that sin should disannul the law and cause it not to be. Therefore it would be very indecent for the Supreme Rector to cause this great rule to give place to the rebellion of the sinner.

§ 13. It is in nowise fit that this great rule should be abrogated and give place to the opposition and violation of

the rebellious subject, on account of the perfection of the law, and as it is an expression of the perfection of the lawgiver. The holiness, and rectitude, and goodness of this great rule, which the Supreme Lawgiver has established for the regulation of the commonwealth of moral agents, and its universal fitness, wisdom, and absolute perfection, render a partial abrogation for the sake of them that dislike it, and will not submit to it, needless and unseemly. If the great rule should be set aside, for the sake of the rebel, it would carry too much of the face of acknowledgment, in the lawgiver, of want of wisdom and foresight, or of some defect, in point of holiness or righteousness, in his law. He that breaks the law, finds fault with it, and casts that reflection on it, that it is not a good law; and if God should in part abrogate the law upon this, it would have too much the appearance of a conceding to the sinner's objection against it. But God will magnify his law, and make it honourable, and will give no occasion for any such reflections upon it, nor leave the law under such a reflection. If this great rule of righteousness be so excellent and good a law, it is not only unfit that it should give place to rebellion, as this would be a dishonour to the excellency of the law and lawgiver; but also a wrong to the public good, of which the Supreme Rector of the world has the care, and is the guardian. If the rule be perfect, perfectly right and just and holy, and with infinite wisdom adapted to the good of the whole; then the public good requires that it be strongly established. The more firmly it is settled, and the more strongly it is guarded and defended, the better and the more it is for the public good; and every thing by which it is weakened, is a damage and loss to the commonwealth of beings. But I have already shewn how every departure from it, weakens it, unfixes it, and causes it to fail of the nature of a settled rule, and in some measure disannuls it.

§14. The sacredness of the authority of the Divine Lawgiver requires, that he should maintain and fulfil his law, when it is violated by a rebellious subject. I have before spoken of the greatness and majesty of his Being, how that is concerned in it-I now would consider the sacredness of his authority, as he stands related to his creatures as their Lawgiver. The majesty of a ruler consists very much in that which appears in him; that tends to strike the subject with reverence and awe, and dread of contempt of him, or rebellion against him. And it is fit that this awe and dread should be in proportion to the greatness and dignity of the ruler, and the degree of authority with which he is vested. But this awe and dread is by an apprehension of the terribleness of

« ForrigeFortsæt »