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sert. The degree of ill desert there is in sin, is determined by the penalty threatened in the divine law.
God's giving his Son to die in our stead, to redeem us from the curse of the law, has led some to think that God is not inclined to punish sin according to its desert; whereas his inclination to punish sin according to its desert, induced him to give bis Son to die in our stead. When Zalucus made a law, that the adulterer should have both his eyes put out as the punishment of his crime; bis inclination to punish adultery, according to what he supposed it deserved, induced bim, in order to save his son, who had committed adultery, from losing both his eyes, to consent, that one of his own should be put out instead of one of his. And his consenting to this, and its being actually donc, instead of arguing that he was not inclined to punish adultery according to its supposed desert, was really the fullest proof of his inclination so to do, that could have been given. Nor could the supreme King of the universe have given a clearer and stronger proof, that his inclination to punish sin according to its desert was well grounded, fixed, and unchangeable, than to give his own Son to suffer in the room of the sinner, altogether equivalent to what he was exposed to; to be made a curse, to redeem him from the curse. And the impenitent sinner may depend upon it, he shall not escape. For if these things were done in the green tree, what shall be done in the dry?
Vindictive justice in the Deity, has nothing in its nature inconsistent with his infinite goodness. And his infinite goodness, has nothing in its nature inconsistent with vindictive justice. All the divine perfections are harmonious. Nay, all the moral perfections of the Deity are really but oneGod is LOVE
Love is the sum of that duty which God requires of us in the moral law. The moral law is a transcript of the moral perfections of the divine nature. Therefore, love is the sum of the moral perfections of the divine nature.
God is love. Love to being in general. Chiefly to the first, the great, the infinite Being, the fountain and source of all being. And secondarily, to finite beings, and love to virtue, to order, to harmony, in the intellectual system. And 30 all his nature is summed up in this edict, the fundamental law in bis kingdom, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and thy neighbour as thyself. Which is suited to give unto God the glory due unto his name, and to bring all finite intelligences to feel and conduct towards him and one another, as is fit, in which also their highest happiness lies.
To break this fundamental law of his kingdom, is implicitly to turn enemy to being in general ; to God, the infinitely great and glorious Being, to the system, to virtue, to order, to harmony; in a word, to all-good. Love itself, therefore, as it exists in the Deity, who is at the head of the universe, and whose office it is to govern the world, is a consuming fire with respect to sin. And armed with almightiness, and directed by infinite wisdom, is immutably determined to bear testimony against it, as an infinitely odious, hateful, ill-deserving thing. And so the words of the law express the temper of God's heart. Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things. But this fury and wrath is nothing but love. This curse to the sinner, is love to being in general, i. c. love to God, and to the best good of the universe. As when a wise and righteous monarch puts a traitor to death, it is not because he delights in the death of his subjects, or takes pleasure in their pain
simply considered ; but it is because he delights in the honour and safety of his crown, and the general good of his kingdom. And all his loyal subjects, who are affected towards his crown and kingdom, as he is, will see a beauty in his conduct d.
d Will see a beauty in his conduct, and yet not “ delight in the misery" of their fellow-creatures; and so we may see the beauty of vindictive justice, and be affected accordingly, and yet “ pot delight in our own eternal destruction." Indeed, if an earthly monarch required his subjects, on pain of death, to do what was in its own nature ‘utterly impossible,' not through the badness of their hearts, but as being inconsistent with the constitution of reasonable creatures ; then, as in this case, no punishment would be deserved ; so he could have no motive to punish his subjects, unless he delighted himself in their destruction. And so no beauty could be seen in a monarch's inflicting pain in such a case, unless we suppose it beautiful in him to love the misery of his subjects. And for one doomed to death under such a monarch, to see a beauty in his conduct, would. I own, be the same thing, as to love his own misery. And this seems to be Mr.
For many reasons private revenge is altogether improper and unfit: not that executing righteous vengeance, is in itself a bad thing. We strictly forbid private revenge among our children. “If your brother strikes you, you shall not strike him again,” says the father ; “but tell me, and I will take care of the matter." So parents order in their little kingdoms, and all the children in the family stand conscience convinced, when a naughty child is corrected by a wise and good father, that the father has done well. And all dutiful children will revere him the more, and love him the better for it. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men, says the apostle. An exhortation as full of benevolence as any one in the New Testament. To which he adds, in the same spirit, dearly beloved, atenge not yourselves. But why? was vengeance a bad thing in the apostle's eyes ? No; but they were not the proper persons. That matter belonged to the infinitely wise God, whose are all things in heaven and earth, and to whom the government of the world appertaios. For it is written, vengeance is mine, and I will repay, saith the Lord. Rom. xii. 18, 19. It is God's province to execute vengeance, and it is a God-like, glorious thing in him to do it.
Cudworth's view of the divine character, as exhibited in his law; to love which he thinks is the same thing, as to “ love our own eternal destruction.” Mr. Cud. worth’s notions of the Deity are surprisingly inconsistent. One while, God is supposed to be so much made up of malevolence, that to esteem his character beautiful, is “ to love our own eternal destruction." And to love this God, is pronounced utterly impossible ;” yea, contrary to the law of God.” And yet the indisputable duty of mankind : but a duty which none ever did, or ever will, or ever lawfully can do. Another while, God is all made up of love to his creatures, only “ disposed to make them happy, and to oppose what is contrary to their happiness ;” and so of a character altogether lovely, even in the eyes of the vilest sinners, let them but believe," that God loves them in particular.” And so here are two Gods; the one a cruel, hateful being, requiring on pain of damna. tion, that we should do that, which is, in its own nature, wicked, “ contrary to the law of God.” And this God, it is “utterly impossible" to love. The other is a good, and lovely being, who aims at nothing but our happiness ; and only requires us to believe that he loves us, and in that belief love again. And thus it was with the Manicleans in the early ages of the Church, they maintained that there were two Gods, the God of the Old Testament, a cruel, hateful Being ; and the God of the New Testament, a good and lovely Being. Fur ther Defence, p. 221. 226.
Wherefore, when Pharaoh, (the type of finally impenitent sinners, Rom. ix. 17.22.) and his host lay overwhelmed in the Red sea, Moses, inspired by heaven, sang, The Lord hạth triumphed gloriously! Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods! Who is like unto thee, glorious in holiness ! Exod. xv. And when all the congregation of the children of Israel murmured and rebelled against the Lord, on the return of the spies, for which they were by God doomed to fall in the wilderness, it was, in the eyes of the HOLY ONE, so glorious and God-like a piece of conduct, that he said, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord. Nụmb. xiv. 21. And when, in the days of Isaiah, God revealed his purpose for their many crimes, to give up the Jews to blindness, and deafness, and hardness, till the land should be utterly desolate, the inbabitants of heaven are represented, as in an ecstacy, crying one to another, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of his glory. Isai. vi. And when the children of Moab and Ammon, the Edomites and Philistines, and all the neighbouring nations around the holy land, who from spite to the true God, and to the true religion, rejoiced in the destruction of Jerusalem, and captivity of the Jews; when, I say, they are by God devoted to destruction, it is constantly represented as a conduct worthy of the HOLY ONE of Israel, and to his honour, by the continual repetition of these words, and they shall know that I am the Lord, along through eight chapters together, from Ezek. xxv. And concerning Babylon, say the pious Jews, guided by inspiration, happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones. Ps. cxxxvii. 9. And when mystical Babylon shall sink as a mill-stone into the sea, under the vengeance of the Almighty, and thousands be sent to hell at once, all heaven is represented as resounding with loud hallelujahs, while the smoke of their torment uscendeth for ever and ever. Rev. xix. So that nothing can be plainer, than that vindictive justice is a glorious perfection in the divine nature, a beauty in his character, in the sight of holy beings, through the intellectual system. But,
e Glorious in holiness. Vindictive justice is a holy, and so a glorious perfec. tion. The holiness of the divine nature, inclines him to hate and punish sin. The great evil of sin, consists in its being against God. Against thee, thee only have I sinned. Ps. li. 4. And it is chiefly in this view that God hates and pu: nishes it; because it is a despising God, (2 Sam. xii. 10.) and it is a glorious thing in God to punish it in this view. Mr. Cudworth thinks, that there is no loveliness in any thing in God, but merely as it " tends to make us happy, and to oppose what is contrary to our happiness.” p. 221. If God punishes sin merely for our good, it is lovely, let the punishment be so circumstanced, as to be an act of goodness and kindness to us, and it is beautiful, viewed in this light. But if it be viewed as an act of holiness, as an expression of God's regard to the honour of his great name, and hatred of sin as it is against God, then there is no loveliness in it; and why? Because we naturally love ourselves, but regard not the honour of his great name. And so, to take care of our interest appears beautiful to us; but to take care of the rights of the Godhead, has no beauty in it. And so the atonement of Christ, on this hypothesis, has no beauty in it, considered as doing honour to God and to his law. And so all religion consists merely in selfish affections. And thus when Pharoah was punished for his crimes, it appear. ed beautiful to the carnal Israelites, as they were safe themselves, and as his destruction was for their interest. But when it came to their own turn, their hearts were full of hatred and heart risings. However, the divine conduct, in their punishment, was as beautiful as in the punislıment of the Egyptians. And nothing but criminal blindness could prevent its appearing to them in this light. To be sure, it appeared in this light in the eyes of the HOLY ONE of Israel. VOL. II.
I. If vindictive justice is a glorious and amiable perfection in the Deity, then the whole dark side of things, as some writers phrase it, in his moral government of the universe, is full of light, glory, and beauty. The ejection of the sinning angels out of heaven down to eternal darkness and despair, turning our first parents out of paradise, and dooining them and all their race to death, and the final sentence to be passed on apostate angels and apostate men, at the day of judgment, are all perfect in beauty. The divine character, as exhibited to view in these facts, is altogether glorious, and infinitely worthy of love ; for it is a glorious thing in God thus to punish sin according to its desert. Therefore,
It can be owing to nothing but criminal blindness, to the spirit of a rebel, of an enemy, in any of God's subjects, that the glory of his character, as thus exhibited, does not shine into their hearts. It is a full proof they are unattached to the honour of God, and to the welfare of his holy kingdom, and care only for their own private interest.--And therefore,
No sooner is a sinner renewed, by the regenerating influences of the holy spirit, but he begins to see the beauty of vindictive justice, and to be affected accordingly. The lazo, as