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The progress of the dispute to the theologians of our own country. The supreme authority of divine truth. Who they are, and what kind of men, who have gone into factions about this matter. The Coryphrzus of the adversaries, the very illustrious Twiss. The occasion of his publishing his opinion. The opinion of the Armenians. The effects of the death of Christ, what. Twiss acknowledges punitory justice to be natural to God. The division of the dispute with Twiss. Maccomus's answers to the arguments of Twiss. The plan of our disputation.
We come now to those, and the consideration of their opinion whoa agreeing with us concerning the satisfaction of Jesus Christ, as revealed in the Scriptures, yet, it being supposed that God willed the salvation of sinners, contend, that the whole necessity of it flowed from the most free-will of God; though they by no means deny sin-avenging justice to be natural to God.
But those who maintain this opinion are so numerous and respectable, and men who have merited so highly of the church of God, that, although the free man of Christ, and taught to call no man on earth master, in matters of religion, unless I had on my side, not fewer, and equally famous men, I should have a religious scruple s to differ from them. I acknowledge, that every, even the least particle of divine truth is furnished from heaven with authority towards every disciple of Jesus Christ, who is the way, the life, and the truth, of holding it fast in the love and admiration of it, and of enforcing its claim, defence, and declaration, even though the whole world should rise up against him. But, perhaps, it would be unbecoming in one who would cheerfully enter as a disciple, to oppose such great learned men, and those too so well trained to the field of dispute, unless supported by the dignity and suffrages of others, not inferior even to those in merit.
But if modesty must be violated, all will agree, that it ought to be violated in the cause of truth; and especially,
• They agree, that the satisfaction by Christ is the way of salvation revealed in the Scriptures; but that it is so, because God willed it should be so : and deny, that there was any necessity for such a satisfaction arising from the nature of divine juslice.
as I perceive, that the authority of some theologians is of so great weight with many of. our countrymen, that not having duly weighed and pondered the matter, but relying on this, they go into the opinion, contrary to that which we have undertaken to defend. Considering it of importance to weigh the arguments which these very illustrious men have used, although I knew myself not only unequal to the task, but that in marshalling the line for such a controversy, I am not deserving of even a third or fourth place from the van, having been only accustomed to the popular mode of declaiming; however, I do not fear to engage in this undertaking, whatever it be; nothing doubting, but that from my attempt, though weak, the readers will easily perceive, that the truth might triumph gloriously, were any one furnished with better abilities to come forward in its defence.
But here, first, of all the antagonists, and who indeed is almost equal to them all, the very learned. Twiss opposes himself to us; concerning whose opinion, in general, a few things are to be premised, before we come to the answers of objections.
The consideration of Arminius's opinion, concerning the efficacy of the death of Christ, and its efficiency, gave occasion to this learned man of first publishing his own sentiments. Arminius contends,' That Christ, by his satisfaction only accomplished this much, that God now, consistent with the honour of his justice (as it had been satisfied), might pardon sinners, if he willed so to do.'
This most absurd opinion, so highly derogatory to divine grace, and the merit of the death of Christ, this illustrious man was inclined to differ from, so far, that he maintained, that, that consideration, viz. 'That God could forgive sins, his justice not opposing it (as having been satisfied), had no place among the effects of Christ's death.'
But Arminius is the only one, so far as I know, among our opponents of this opinion: and he himself, in asserting it, is scarcely uniform and self consistent. I may venture to affirm, that of his followers there are none, unless it be some mean skulker, who swears by the words of his master. The opinion of Corvinus, which Twiss afterward discusses, is plainly different. Episcopius, likewise, after Arminius, the Coryphaeus of that cause, and by far its most noble charmpion, defends this very sentiment of this learned man. The Pelagian tribe have become reconciled with the Socinians, rather than brandish any more that very sharp-pointed weapon which cut the throat of their own desperate cause.
Nor can I at all see how this divine truth of ours should contribute to the support of Arminianism, as this illustrious writer seems to signify: for is he who says, that Christ by his death and satisfaction effected this, that God might forgive sins, his justice not opposing, bound also to affirm, that he accomplished nothing farther? God forbid. Yea, he who withoutthe consideration of the oblation of Christ, could not but punish sins (that oblation being made), cannot punish those sins for which Christ offered1' himself. Yea, that he is more bound in strict right, and in justice, in respect of Jesus Christ, to confer grace and glory on all those for whom he died, I have, in its proper season, elsewhere demonstrated.
The learned Twiss grants, that punitory, or sin-avenging justice, is natural to God ; or that it is an essential attribute of the divine nature. This he very eloquently maintains; and several times, when it is introduced by the0 adversaries whom he selected, to refute, he gives his suffrage in its favour. But what else is that justice, but a constant will of punishing every sin, according to the rule of his right? The learned gentleman then grants, that an immutably constant will of punishing every sin, is natural to God: how then is it possible that he should not punish it? For who hath opposed his will?
There are two parts of the Twissian controversy. The first is contained in four principal arguments, supported by various reasons, in which he attacks this sentiment, viz. 'That God cannot, without a satisfaction, forgive sin.' In the second, he endeavours to answer the arguments of Piscator and Lubbertus, in confirmation of this point; and he intersperses, every where, according to his custom, a variety of new arguments on the subject. We shall briefly consider what this learned man hath done in both parts.
As to what relates to the first or introductory part, perhaps our labour may appear superfluous. The judicious Muccovius hath, with great success, performed this task; giving, by no means trifling, but rather, for the most part, very solid answers to these four arguments, which Twiss calls his principal; and in a very plain and perspicuous manner, as was his general custom, in all his writings.
b Rom. iii. 23—25. 1 Viz. Piscator and Lubbertui.
But neither the plan of our work permits us to withdraw from this undertaking, though unequal to it; nor perhaps hath Maccovius satisfied his readers in every particular. Indeed, some things seem necessary to be added, that this controversy with Twiss may occasion no trouble to any one for the future. This veteran leader, then, so well trained to the scholastic field, going before, and pointing us out the way, we shall, with your good leave, reader, briefly try these arguments by the rule of Scripture and right reason ; and I doubt not, but we shall clearly demonstrate, to all impartial judges of things, that this learned man hath by no means proved what he intended.
Twiss's first argument. Its answer. A trifling view of the divine attributes. Whether God could, by his absolute power forgive sins without a satisfaction: to let sins pass unpunished, implies a contradiction ; and that twofold. What these contradictions are. Whether God may do, what man may do? Whether every man may renounce his right 1 Whether God cannot forgive sins because of his justice? The second argument. Its answer. Distinctions of necessity. God doth no work, without himself, from absolute necessity. Conditional necessity. Natural necessity twofoldGod doth not punish to the extent of his power, but to the extent of his justice. God always acts with a concomitant liberty. An argument of the illustrious Vossius considered. God a consuming fire, but an intellectual one. An exception of Twiss's. Whether independent of the divine appointment, sin would merit punishment? In punishment, what things are to be considered. The relation between obedience as to reward, and disobedience as to punishment not the same. The comparison between mercy and justice, by Vossius improperly instituted.
The first argument of this great man is this: 'If God cannot forgive sins without a satisfaction, it is either because he
cannot, on account of his justice, or because he cannot by his power: but neither of these can be affirmed.'
Am. That enumeration of the divine attributes, as to the