« AnteriorContinua »
have said, that which is without measure, bounds, or limitation, and to which there can be no addition. Satisfaction is the answering to the full the demand of another, whether that demand be just or unjust, finite or infinite. Just demands, are such as are exactly proportionable to the damage or demerit of the offence, or to the merit of the thing rewarded, or to any other right of claim. Unjuft demands are such as are not thus proportionable, but are either greater or less than the damage or demerit of the offence, or the merit of the thing rewarded, &c. Finite demands are such as are limited, and are capable of being extended to a greater degree. Infinite demands are: such as are without bounds, or limitation, and are uncapable of any extension or addition. From which it appears, that infinite satisfaction supposes an infinite demand, and an infinite' demand, if the demand be juft, supposes an infinite crime, or an infinite merit, or fome other right of claim equally infinite. We will only consider this matter, as it relates to an infinite crime, because the case is the same, when applied to infinite merit, or to any other right of claim. Now with relation to a crime, it is very uncertain whether there be any such thing as an infinite crime. For, first, the committing a crime against an infinite being does not make that crime infinite; and this will appear, if we consider that the crimes which are committed against God, who is an infinite Being, do admit of degrees, some are greater, some are less, whereas in infinity there is no such thing as degrees. We read, 1 Kings xvi. 25. Omri wrought evil in the eyes of the Lord, and did worse than all that were before him. And, 2 Chron. xxxiii
. 9, ; Manafjeb made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem 10 err, and to do worse than the beathen whom the Lord had destroyed before the children of Israele 2 Tim.
iii. 13. Evil mon and seducers fall (or will) was worse and worse, &c. : Secondly, It is a question, whether a finite being can be guilty of an infinite crime, seeing the committing a crime against an infinite being does not make it so? Thirdly, Suppofing that a finite being can be guilty of an infinite crime, yet it remains a question, whether there has been any fuch infinite crime ever committed ; because it is a thing above our faith and knowledge, whether the greateft crime that was ever committed, even the sin of the devil himfelf, was infinitely aggravated, and to which there could be no farther degree of aggravation added ? For, that is properly an infinite crime, which is without bounds, or limitation, and to which there could be no degree of aggravation added, to make it yet more criminal. Seeing then that it is so very uncertain, whether there be any such thing as an infinite crime, it will follow, that it is equally uncertain, whether there be any such thing as an infinite demand, and consequently whether there be any such thing as an infinite satisfaction,
Some farther OBSERVATIONS. Forasmuch as the justice of God is often referr'd to, in certain controversies, it may not be amiss here to observe some common mistakes relating there. to. First, that God is, in justice, absolutely and necessarily obliged to punish the breach of his laws either in the offender; or in some other that shall be substituted to suffer in the place of the offender, Secondly, That he which is substituted to suffer in the place of the offender, must fo fuffer, in the his suffering shall be strictly, and in the nature of the thing, equal to the demerit of the crime. These premises being taken for granted as true, from hence it hath been inferr'd, Thirdly, That he which suffers, in the finner's behalf, myf be, in all points, equal to, and the same as the supreme lawgiver; or else, say they, he cannot so fuffer as to satisfy divine justice, nor can the finner be discharg'd upon his account. The foregoing premises being taken for granted to true, and the foregoing inference being supposed to be justly drawn from them, it has been farther concluded, Fourtbly, That forasmuch as the finner is acquitted upon the account of the sufferings of Christ, therefore Christ is, in all points equal to, and the fame as the supreme God the Father; for otherways, fay they, his sufferings would not have been to satisfactory, neither would the finner be dir. charged upon their account.
But as the foregoing premises are erroneous, so are the conclusions too hasty, which are drawn from them. For fupposing God is, in justice, obliged to punish for the breach of his laws, and Tuppofing his justice could not be satisfied, except the suffering was strictly equal to the demerit of the crime, which are both mistakes; because if God is obliged to punish for fin, yet this obligation arises not from his justice, but from his truth and holiness, and because ic lies wholly in the breast of the lawgiver, to demand what satisfactia on he pleases for the breach of his laws, provided the demand does not exceed the demerit of the crime. But, I say, fuppofing the premises to be true ; yet it does not follow from hence, that he which suffers, in the finner's behalf, must be in all respects the same as the original lawgiver, but the contrary. For if God is obliged, by the laws of equity or justice, to act so strictly in this case then it will follow, first, that the person suffering must be neither fuperiour, nor inferiour, but exactly equal to, and in all respects the same as the offender; because the sufferer is substituted to fill up the the place of, or personate the offender and
not the offended. Secondly, The suffering or pue nishment must be for kind, measure, and duration, neither greater nor less, but exactly equal to the demerit of the offence. Seeing then that it was man which transgressed, it will follow, that he which is substituted to suffer, in man's stead, must be neither superiour, nor inferiour, but exactly cqual to, and in all points the same as man; or elle his sufferings will not satisfy divine justice, neither will the finner be discharged upon their account. But the truth is, God is not obliged, from the principles of justice, to make any of the foremena tioned demands, as has been made evident in the foregoing enquiry, concerning the justice of God; but he may require, or may accept what punishment, or what fatisfaction he himself alone, in his infinite wisdom, fall think fit.
ENQUIRY Concerning Faith and MYSTERIES :
A four-fold enquiry; first, what faith sis; secondly, what the object of faith
is ; thirdly, what a mystery is fourthly, whether a mystery is the object of faith.
VIRST, What faith is? In order to ans
fwer this enquiry, it is to be observed, that as the understanding has truth tor its ob
ject; fo. also there are various ways by which truth is conveyed to the understanding; namely, first, by our external fenses, viz. seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting, and smelling. For example, that honey is Tweet, is a truth which is conveyed to the understanding by our external fense of tasting. Secondly, Truth is conveyed to the understanding by our internal senses, that is, by the reflections of the mind. For example, that there is a God, is a truth which is conveyed to our understandings by reflection. God is a Being which is immaterial, and so is not the object of our external senses ; therefore gur external senses cannot convey thar to our understandings, which comes not within their