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the consequences of that contempt and rebellion, and the degree of the danger of those terrible consequences, or the degree of connection of that rebellion with those consequences : Therefore, if it be meet that this awe or this apprehension should be in proportion to the greatness and dignity of the ruler, then it is fit that the consequences of contempt of the Supreme Ruler of the world should be infinitely terrible, and the danger that it brings of punishment, or connection that it has with it, be strong and certain, and consequently, that the threatenings which enforce his laws should be sure and inviolable. It is fit the authority of a ruler should be sacred proportionably to the greatness of that authority, i. e. in proportion to the greatness of the ruler, and his worthiness of honour and obedience, and the height of his exaltation above us, and the absoluteness of his dominion over us, and the strength of his right to our submission and obedience. But the sacredness of the authority of a sovereign consists in the strength of the enforcement of it, and guard that is about it, i. e. in the consequences of the violation to him that is guilty, and the degree of danger of these consequences. For the authority of a ruler does not consist in the power or influence he has on another by attractives, but coercives. The fence that is about the authority of a prince, that guards it as sacred, is the connection there is between the violations of it, and the terrible consequences; or, in other words, in the strength or sureness of the threatening. Therefore, if this connection be partly broken, the fence is partly broken; in proportion as the threatenings are weak, the guard is weak. But certainly it is fit that the authority of the infinitely great and absolute Lord of heaven and earth should be infinitely sacred, and should be kept so with an infinitely strong guard, and a fence, without any breach in it. And it is not becoming the sacredness of the majesty and authority of the great TavroкpaTwp, that that perfectly holy, just, and infinitely wise and good law, which he has established as the great rule for the regulation of all things in the universal commonwealth of beings, should be set aside, to give place to the infinitely unreasonable and vile opposition that sinners make to it, and their horrid and daring rebellion against it.
15. The truth of the lawgiver makes it necessary that the threatening of the law should be fulfilled in every punctilio. The threatening of the law is absolute: Thou shalt surely die. It is true, the obligation does not lie in the claim of the person threatened, as it is in promises: for it is not to be supposed, that the person threatened will claim the punishment threatened. And, indeed, if we look upon
things strictly, those seem to reckon the wrong way, who suppose the necessity of the execution to arise from an obligation on God in executing, properly consequent on his threatening. For the necessity of the connection of the execution with the threatening, seems to arise directly the other way, viz. from the obligation that was on the omniscient God in threatening, consequent on the futurity of the execution. Though, strictly speaking, he is not obliged to execute because he has threatened, yet he was obliged not absolutely to threaten, if he at the same time knew that he should not and would not execute; because this would not have been consistent with his truth. So that, from the truth of God, there is an inviolable connection between absolute threatening and execution; not so properly from an obligation on God to conform the execution to the past absolute threatening, as from his obligation to conform his absolute threatening to the future execution. This God was absolutely obliged to do, as he would speak the truth. For if God absolutely threatened contrary to what he knew would come to pass, then he absolutely threatened contrary to what he knew to be truth. And how any can speak contrary to what they know to be the truth, in declaring, promising, or threatening, or any other way, consistently with perfect and inviolable truth, I cannot conceive. Threatenings are significations of something; and if they are made consistent with truth, or are true significations of any thing, they are significations of that which is true. If absolute threatenings are significations of any thing, they are significations of the futurity of the thing threatened. But if the futurity of the thing threatened is not true, then how can the threatenings be true significations? And if God, in them, speaks contrary to what he knows, and contrary to what he intends; how he can speak true, is to me inconceivable.
§ 16. It is with absolute threatenings, as it is with predictions. When God has foretold something that shall come to pass hereafter, which does not concern our interest, and so is of the nature neither of a promise nor threatening, there is a necessary connection betwixt the prediction and the fulfilment, but not by virtue of any claim we have to make; and so not properly by virtue of any obligation to fulfil, consequent on the prediction, but by virtue of an obligation on an omniscient Being in predicting, consequent on what he knew he would fulfil; an obligation to conform the prediction to the future event. It is as much against the veracity of God, absolutely to threaten what he knows he will not accomplish, as to predict what he knows he will not accomplish; for to do either, would be to declare, that something will be, which he at the same time does not intend shall be. Absolute threatenings are a sort
of predictions. God in them foretels or declares what shall come to pass. They do not differ from mere predictions, in the nature of the declaration or foretelling; but partly in the thing declared or foretold, being an evil to come upon us-a mere prediction being of a thing indifferent-and partly, in the end of foretelling. In a threatening, the end of foretelling is to deter us from sinning; and predictions of things indifferent are for some other end. Absolute threatenings are God's declarations of something future; and the truth of God does as much oblige him to keep the truth in declarations of what is future, as of what is past or present. For things past, present and future, are all alike before God-all alike in his view. And when God declares to others what he sees himself, he is equally obliged to truth, whether the thing declared be past, present, or to come. And, indeed, there is no need of the distinction between present truth and future, in this case. For if any of God's absolute threatenings are not to be fulfilled, those threatenings are declarations or revelations contrary to future truth. But such a threatening is a revelation of the futurition of a punishment. That futurition is now present with God, when he threatens: present in his mind, his knowledge. And if he signifies that a thing is future, which he knows not to be future; then the signification he gives is contrary to present truth, even contrary to what God now knows is future.-Again, an absolute threatening is a signification of the present intention of him that threatens and therefore, if he threatens what he does not intend to fulfil, then he signifies an intention to be, which is not; and so the threatening is contrary to present truth. God's absolute threatenings are a revelation to his subjects, of the appointed measures of their Judge's proceeding with respect to their breaches of his law; and if they do not reveal what is indeed the intended method of the Judge's proceeding, then it is not a true revelation.
§ 17. There is a necessity of the fulfilment of God's absolute promises both ways, viz. both by an obligation on God to foretel or declare, or foredeclare, the future benefit, according to what he foresaw would be, and he intended should be; and also by an obligation on him to fulfil his promise consequent on his predicting, and by virtue of the claim of the person to whom the promise was made. And there is also an obligation on God to fulfil his absolute threatenings consequent on his threatenings, indirectly, by virtue of many ill and undesirable consequences of the event being, beside the certain dependence or certain expectations raised by God's threatenings, in the persons threatened, and others that are spectators; of which consequences God may be obliged not to be a cause.
But threatenings do not properly bring an obligation on God, that is consequent on them as threatenings, as it is with promises. As to those threatenings that are not positive or absolute, they are not necessarily followed with the punishment mentioned in them, because the possibility of escaping the punishment is either expressed or understood in the threatening. But the divine truth makes it necessary that there should be a certain connection between them, that as much punishment be inflicted as is signified by them. If certain suffering be not signified by them, then there is no necessary connection between them and certain suffering, according to God's ordinary method of dealing with men, and that, therefore, they, as they would act rationally, have great reason to fear it, seeing that God does not see cause to reveal what he will do to them: if this be all that is really contained and understood in the threatening, then this is all that the threatening is connected with. Or, if the proper meaning of the threatening be, that such suffering shall come, unless they repent, and this be all that can be fairly understood, then the truth of God makes no more necessary. But God's truth makes a necessary connection between every threatening and every promise, and all that is properly signified in that threatening or promise.
§ 18. The satisfaction of Christ by his death is certainly a very rational thing. If any person greatly obliged to me, who was dependent on me, and whom I loved, should exceedingly abuse me, and should go on in an obstinate course of it from one year to another, notwithstanding all I could say to him, and all new obligations continually repeated; though at length he should leave it off, I should not forgive him, unless upon gospel considerations. But if any person that was a much dearer friend to me, and one that had always been true to me, and constant to the utmost, and that was a very near relation of him that offended me, should intercede for him, and, out of the entire love he had to him, should put himself to very hard labours and difficulties, and undergo great pains and miseries to procure him forgiveness; and the person that had offended should, with a changed mind, fly to this mediator, and should seek favour in his name, with a sense in his own miud how much his mediator had done and suffered for him ; I should be satisfied, and feel myself inclined, without any difficulty, to receive him into my entire friendship again; but not without the last mentioned condition, that he should be sensible how much his mediator had done and suffered. For if he was ignorant of it, or thought he had done only some small matter, I should not be easy nor satisfied. So a sense of Christ's sufficiency seems necessary in faith. Abigail, when mediating between David and Nabal, when
the former was provoked to wrath against the latter, and had determined to destroy him, 1 Sam. xxv. 24. "fell at David's feet and said, Upon me let this iniquity be, and let thy handmaid, I pray thee, speak in thy audience, and hear the voice of thy handmaid." And in verse 28. she calls Nabal's iniquity her iniquity. By this it appears, that a mediator putting himself in the stead of the offender, so that the offended party should impute the offence to him, and look on the mediator as having taken it upon him, looking on him as the debtor for what satisfaction should be required and expected, was in those days no strange notion, or considered as a thing in itself absurd and inconsistent with men's natural notion of things.
§ 19. Christ is often represented as bearing our sins for us: Isaiah liii. 4. Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. Verse 11. "For he shall bear their iniquities." Verse 12. "He bare the sin of many." And with an evident reference to this last place, the apostle says, Heb. ix. 28. "So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many and to them that look for him, he shall appear the second time, without sin unto salvation." And with a plain reference to verses 4, 5, of this 53rd chapter of Isaiah, the apostle Peter says, 1 Pet. ii. 24. "Who his ownself bare our sins in his own body on the tree."
The word translated here in Isaiah liii. 4. and 12. is NW; the same word, and the same phrase, of bearing sin and bearing iniquity, is often used concerning things which are the types of Christ's priesthood and sacrifice, viz. the Levitical priests and sacrifices. It was no uncommon phrase, but usual and well understood among the Jews; and we find it very often used in other cases, and applied to others besides either Christ or the types of him. And when it is so, it is plain, that the general meaning of the phrase is lying under the guilt of sin, having it imputed and charged upon the person, as obnoxious to the punishment of it, or obliged to answer and make satisfaction for it; or liable to the calamities and miseries to which it exposes. In such a manner it seems always to be used, unless in some few places it signifies to take away sin by forgiveness. See Dr. Owen on Heb. ix. 28. and Pool's Synopsis on Isaiah liii. And, concerning their laying their hands on the head of the sacrifice, see also Pool's Synopsis on Levit. i. 4.
§ 20. By merit, I mean any thing whatsoever in any person or belonging to him, which appearing in the view of another is a recommendation of him to that other's regard, esteem, or affection. I do not at present take into considera.