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present cause, is mere trifling; for what God cannot do in respect of one attribute, he can do in respect of none: or, in other words, that which cannot be done, because of any one essential property, cannot be done, because of them all. As for instance, if there be any thing which God cannot do, in respect of truth, he cannot do that in any manner, or in any respect. In the acts of the divine will, purely free, the case is otherwise; for, in a divided sense, God may do any thing (that is, he may create new worlds), which, if a decree of creating this, and no other, be supposed, he could not do. But the objects presented to any attribute of the divine nature, admit not of various respects, but are in their own kind absolutely necessary: therefore, we deny the minor. Neither in respect of justice, nor in respect of power, can this be done.
But our learned antagonist leads the proof of it through its parts; and first, after a marginal animadversion on a certain dream of Piscator's he affirms, that it cannot be maintained, that God cannot forgive sins by his power without a satisfaction.
'For,' says he, ' if God by his might, or absolute power, cannot pardon sin, then it is absolutely impossible for sin to be pardoned, or not to be punished; therefore, not to pardon sin, consists of contradictory terms; the contradiction then ought to be shewn, as none appears from the formal terms. And on the other hand, it is evident, that man not only can pardon, but that it is his duty to pardon his enemies, when they,trangress against him.'
Ans. The non-punishment of sin, implies a contradiction; not indeed formally, and in the terms, but virtually, and eminently, in respect of the thing itself: for, in the first place, it implies, that God is the Lord of mankind, by a natural and indispensable right, but that mankind are not subject to him, neither as to obedience, nor as to punishment; which would be the direct case, if sin should pass with impunity. For that natural and necessary dependance being cut off (which also in another respect is moral), which accords to a rational creature in respect of its Creator and supreme Lord, which really comes to pass by means of sin, it cannot be renewed, or made amends for, but by punishment. In the second place, to hate sin, that is, to will to punish it, and not to hate sin, to will to let it pass unpunished, are manifestly contradictory.
If you say that God hath it in his power, not to hate sin, you say that he hath the contrary in his power, that is, that he can love sin; for if he hate sin, of his free-will, he may will the contrary. For the divine will is not so dis inclined towards any secondary object, by any thing in itself, that can justly oppose its inclination to its opposite; this Scotus maintains, and Twiss agrees with him. But to will good, and to love justice, are not less natural to God, than to be himself. Here is then a double contradiction in that assertion of this very learned man, viz. 'That God can forgive sin, absolutely, without any satisfaction received.'
'But it is manifest,' says he,'that man not only can pardon, but that it is his duty to pardon his enemies, and therefore, this does not imply a contradiction.'
Ans. The supposition is denied, that God may do, what man may do. That learned man raises this objection himself, that man may sin, which God cannot do, and at great length, and with much erudition, explains away this example. But as this instance of Twiss's is not quite satisfactory to us, we think proper to proceed in a different manner.
I say, then, in the first place, that divine and human forgiveness are plainly of a different kind; the forgiveness of man only respects the hurt, the forgiveness of God respects the guilt. Man pardons sins, so far as any particular injury hath been done himself; God pardons sin, as the good of the universe is injured. Secondly, Neither is it in the power of any man to let sins pass unpunished, yea, of none absolutely, to whom the right of punishing is competent; for, although a private person may recede from his right, which, for the most part, is of charity; yet it is, by no means allowed to a public person to renounce his right, which is a right of government, especially if that renunciation should in any way turn out to the hurt of the public. In the third place, then, I say that, that instance is nothing to the purpose: for although a private person may at certain times renounce his right and dominion in certain cases, and ought to do so, it doth not follow from that, that God, whose right and dominion is natural and indispensable, and which he cannot renounce unless he deny himself, can do the same.
In the fourth place, the non-punishment of sin, is an injury to the universe; for the glory of divine justice would be affronted with impunity.
Our celebrated antagonist proceeds to the consideration of divine justice: 'But neither,' says he,' can it be consistently said, that God cannot do this because of his justice; if it be supposed, that he can do it by his power.' But Scotus reasons with more judgment and accuracy on this point. 'The divine will is not so inclined towards any secondary object, by any thing in itself,' says he, 'that can oppose its being justly inclined towards its opposite, in the same manner as without contradiction it may will its opposite; otherwise, it may will absolutely and not justly, which is inconsistent with divine perfection.'
Ans. We maintain that God, from his nature cannot do this; and therefore, that he cannot either by his power or his justice; and as our learned antagonist produces no argument to prove that God can do it without resistance from his justice, but what flows from this false supposition, that he can do it by his power, it is not necessary to give ourselves any trouble on this head. But to Scotus, we answer: the divine will may incline to things opposite, in respect of the egresses of all those divine attributes which constitute and create objects to themselves; but not in respect of those attributes which have no egress towards their objects, but upon a condition supposed : as for instance, God may justly speak or not speak with man: but it being supposed that he wills to speak, the divine will cannot be indifferent whether he speak truth or not. So much for his first principal argument.
The second is this:
'If God cannot let sin pass unpunished, then he must punish it from an absolutenecessity: but this no one can • maintain consistent with reason.'
This consequence the learned doctor supposes, without any argument to support it: but we deny the consequence, nor will he ever be able to prove, that there is no other kind of necessity but an absolute necessity. There is also a necessity arising from a supposed condition, and which deprives not the agent of a concomitant liberty. God could not but create the world; but God did not create the world from an Vol. ix. 2 H .
absolute necessity, although it was necessary, upon a supposition, that it should be created. It is necessary that God should speak truly, but he doth not speak from an ab solute necessity; but it being supposed that he wills to speak, it is impossible, that he should not speak truly. We say, therefore, that God cannot but punish sin, or, that he necessarily punishes sin, not, however, from an absolute necessity of nature, as a father begets a son, but upon the suppositions* before-mentioned, by a necessity which excludes an antecedent indifference, but not a concomitant liberty in the agent; for in punishing sins he acts by volition, and with understanding.
But that necessity (you will say), of what kind soever it be, flows from the nature of God, not his will or decree. But all necessity of nature seems to be absolute. I acknowledge, indeed, that all necessity of nature, considered in the first act, and thing signified, is absolute in its kind; but in the second act, and in its exercise, it is not so. The reader will easily perceive now, that our very learned antagonist had no reason for freely supposing that consequence, which I reckon the very lowest of all the devices he has fallen upon.
'If then,' says he,' God must punish sin from a natural necessity, he must necessarily punish it, to the extent of his power; but this, with great accuracy, he shews to be absurd, by a variety of arguments.'
Ans. Maccovius hath, sometime ago, very clearly answered this reasoning. We reject his consequence, as built upon a false supposition. For that necessity, from which God punisheth sin, does not require that he should punish it to the extent of his power, but so far as is just. We do not conceive God to be a senseless inanimate agent, as if he acted from principles of nature, after a natural manner, without a concomitant liberty ; for he doth all things freely with understanding and by volition, even those things which, by supposition, he doeth necessarily, according to what his most holy nature requires.
The argument which the celebrated Vossius uses against our opinion, is of no greater weight. 'Every agent (says that very learned man), that acts naturally, acts upon an object naturally receptive of its action: wherefore, if to punish were natural, viz. in that acceptation which necessity carries with it, such action could not pass from the person of a sinner to another person.'
a Vij. That he willed to create a rational being, and to permit it to transgress the law of its creation.
But this learned man is mistaken, when he imagines that we affirm God to be such a natural agent, as must, without sense, and immediately operate upon the object that is receptive of it, in a manner altogether natural, and without any concomitant liberty, that is, without any free act of understanding or volition. For although God be ' a consuming fire,'he is an intellectual one. Nor is a sinner alone an object properly receptive of the exercise of God's vindicatory justice, as he hath committed the transgressions in his own person; for antecedent to every act of that justice, properly so called, in respect of the elect, God appointed a surety, and this surety being appointed, and all the sins of the elect laid upon him, he in their room and stead, is the proper object of this vindicatory justice, so far as relates to their sins.
But Twiss thus replies,' If God punish as far as he can, with justice, that is, as far as sin deserves; then it must be either as far as sin deserves, according to the free constitution of God; or without any regard to the divine constitution. If according to the divine constitution, this is nothing else but to assert, that God punishes not so far as he can; but so far as he wills. If without any regard to the divine constitution, then without the divine constitution, sin so deserves punishment, that God ought to punish sin, because of his justice: but I conclude this to be false in this manner: if disobedience deserve punishment in this manner, that is, without the divine constitution ; therefore obedience will also, in like manner, deserve a reward, without the divine constitution; for no reason can be shewn, that any one should maintain that even angels have merited, by their obedience, that God should reward them with celestial glory.'
But although these arguments are specious, yet, strictly considered, they have no greater weight than those already discussed; for in the punishment of sin, two things are to be considered: 1. The punishment itself, so far as it is in its own nature something grievous and troublesome to the creature, and proper to recover the violated right of God. In