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That he is the Lord God, merciful and
g and abundant in goodness,'d which
iese two, viz. his long-suffering or slow
lis abundant goodness, or great mercy,
s will, the one of which is surpassed in
er ; and they cannot consist with one
are limited: whereas those qualities
rent in God, have no limit, and are all
another, and in respect of their great
rain very improperly applies a compa
external acts, to the internal habits
iger and compassion, which are only
ffectively, are free effects of the divine
ir object, and unequal, which cannot be
ime person, in their highest degree, we
eason that what is applicable to acts, or ould also be applicable to the perfec\ow. But in that promulgation of the fod which we have in Exod. xxxiv. 6. of what kind his disposition is towards
e hath purchased as his peculiar people
»t; and what patience, long-suffering and isposed to exercise towards them :e but her sinners, he concludes, 'that he will
r the guilty,' or deliver them from the indeed, strikes at the very root of Soci
conclude from this, that the divine perfecone to another, unequal, or surpassing »atness, is only the extreme folly of one, ghteousness, or justice, of God, and going
a righteousness, or justice, of his own.'
manifest how grievously they err, who afstice and mercy of God to be infinite: for
g deceived by the appearance of the word, t they say no more than this, that the seve
God are infinite, contrary to the most exj of the sacred Scriptures, which, as we have
Numb. xiv. 18. « See 2 Pet. iii. 9, &c.
reduced to that justice which is manifested in them, are also infinite; in respect of their effects, they have their limits assigned them, by the wisdom and justice of God: these things, however, have been proved before.
But let the pious reader judge, whether our opponent, who hath presumed to call, the highest mystery of the gospel, the alone foundation of the salvation of sinners, the darling jewel of our religion, the greatest testimony of the divine love, our victory over the devil, death, and hell, 'a human fiction,' had sufficient cause to annex so dreadful an expression to the conclusion of this so long continued debate. He adds, in the last place,
'But as to mercy, that is the pardon of sins, how dare they affirm that to be infinite, when it is evident from the whole of Scripture, that God doth not always use it, but frequently exerciseth vengeance and severity. Why, but be-' cause they have so shockingly blundered, that they have not attended to this, that these are only different effects of the divine will, but are not any properties, and have persuaded themselves, that both of them are inherent in God: but how could they ever entertain such a persuasion, when, as we have said, the one destroys the other? But this they deny, and maintain that God exercised both of them perfectly in the salvation procured for us by Christ, which will more clearly appear from what follows to be not only false, but ridiculous. Meantime let them tell us, pray, when God punishes the guilty, but especially when he doth not even grant them time to repent, what kind of mercy he exerciseth towards these? But if God doth many things, in which not even any trace of that mercy appears, although he be said to be merciful and full of compassion in Scripture, must we not say that he doeth many things, in which that justice is by no means discernible, to which he is said to be exceeding slow ? We must then conclude, according to our opinion, that there is no such justice in God, as expressly dictates the necessary punishment of sin, and which he hath not a power to renounce. And since this is the case, it is abundantly evident, that there is no reason why God cannot freely pardon the sins of whomsoever he may please, without any satisfaction received.'
Ans. On these heads a few observations shall suffice:
1. It is affirmed, without any shew of .reason, that mercy in God is not infinite, because sometimes he exerciseth severity, that is, that God cannot be called merciful, if he punish any guilty and impenitent sinners: to prove mercy to be an essential property of God, it is sufficient, that he exercises it towards any: for in this very matter, that ought to be set down as a natural perfection in God, which is the proper and immediate source and ground of that operation. Which attributes have no egress but towards objects placed in particular circumstances; nor have they any effects, without some free act of the divine willh intervening: nor does it any more follow that the effects of mercy ought to be infinite, if it be itself infinite, than that the works of God ought to be immense, because immensity is an essential property of his nature.
2. By what argument will our opponent prove, that the relation between mercy and justice is, in such a manner the same, that because God exerciseth no mercy towards some, that is, so as to pardon their sins, that therefore he should not account it necessary to exercise justice towards every sin? We have formerly mentioned in what view they are distinct; namely, that God is bound to exercise mercy to none: but that, he cannot but exercise his justice towards sinners (provided he be inclined to be just), if he would preserve his natural right and dominion over his creatures, and the holiness and purity of his nature uninjured and entire; for disobedience would take away all dependance of the creature on God, unless a compensation were made to him by a vicarious punishment: but according to the sacred Scriptures we maintain, that God exercised both the one and the other, both justice and mercy; in justly punishing Christ, in mercifully pardoning sins which he laid upon him, to us, who deserved everlasting punishment: which things, though they may be ridiculous to Socinus (for the things of the Spirit of God are foolishness to him) no divine truth however, of any kind whatever, is more frequently, more plainly, or more clearly declared in the sacred writings. 'For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood; to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through, the forbearance of God : to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him, who believeth in Jesus." But, setting the consideration of Christ altogether aside, there is no doubt, but that Socinus would carry off the prize in this contest. But while it is reckoned worth while to have any regard to him, it is easy to perceive that this heretic uses nothing but continued false reasonings and false conclusions. For it is made evident to us in Christ the Son, how, and by what means, God, infinitely merciful and infinitely just, acting on the principles of strict justice with some, and of mere grace with others, but in exercising both the one and the other, both justice and mercy, in and through the Mediator; the one indeed, in his own proper person, and the other towards those for whom he was surety, hath declared himself.
h See Rom. ix. 13.
But while Socinus despised and set at nought him and his grace, is it to be wondered at, if he 'became vain in his imaginations, and that his foolish heart was darkened V
For what need I say more? doth not God exercise supreme and infinite mercy towards us miserable and lost sinners, in pardoning our sins through Christ? Have we deserved any such thing, who, after doing all that we can do, even when roused and assisted by his grace, are still unprofitable servants? Did we appoint a sacrifice, that his anger might be averted, and that an atonement to his justice might be made, from our own storehouse, sheepfold, or herd? Yea, when we were enemies to him, alienated from his life, witht help, and without strength, dead in trespasses and in sins, knowing of no such thing, wishing for, or expecting no such thing, he himself' made Christ to be sin for us who knew no -in: that he might free us from the wrath to come;' that an <piation being made for our sins, we might be presented 'ameless before him, to the praise and glory of his grace. i wither he shewed the strictest justice and severity toir surety, over whom he exercised a most gracious h on his ownk account, and for our sakes, and whom "it spare, shall afterward be considered.
'Rom. iii. S3—26. ly servant whom I uphold; mine elect in. whom my soul delighteth;