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though he received entire satisfaction, for he might in right have refused it.
Now these things being supposed, although the blood of Christ was a price so precious that it can be valued by God only that received it, and might worthily have redeemed a thousand worlds, yet the effects of it are to be dispensed according to the eternal covenant between the Father and the
and the tenor of it is revealed in the gospel, viz. that repentance and faith are the conditions, upon which the obtaining of pardon of sin, and all the blessings which are the consequence of it, depend; thus Christ, who makes satisfaction, and God that accepts it, declare. The commission of the apostles from his own mouth, was, to preach“ repentance and remission of sins in his name to all nations,” Luke xxiv. 47; and he was exalted by God" to be a Prince and Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins," Acts v. 31.
The establishing of this order is not a mere positive command, wherein the will of the Lawgiver is the sole ground of our duty; but there is a special congruity and reason in the nature of the thing itself; for Christ hath satisfied justice, that God may exercise pardoning mercy in such a manner as is suitable to his other perfections. Now it is contrary to his wisdom to dispense the precious benefits of his Son's blood to impenitent unbelievers; to give such rich pearls and so dearly boucht, to swine that will trample them under their feet; to bestow salvation on those who despise the Saviour. It is contrary to his holiness to forgive those who will securely abuse his favour, as if his pardon were a privilege and licence to sin against him. Nay, final impenitency is unpardonable
, to mercy itself; for the objects of justice and mercy cannot be the same. Now an impenitent sinner is necessarily under the avenging justice of God. It is no disparagement to his omnipotency that he cannot save such ; for although God can do whatsoever he will, ye he can will nothing but what is agreeable to his nature. Not that there is any law above God that obliges him to act, but he is a law to himself. And the more excellent his perfections are, the less he can contradict them. As it is no reflection upon his power that he cannot die, neither is it that he can do nothing unbecoming his perfections. On the contrary, it implies weakness to be liable to any such act. Thus supposing the creature holy, it is impossible but he should love it; not that he owes any thing to the creature, but in regard he is infinitely good : and if impenitent and obstinate in sin, he cannot but hate and punish it; not that he is accountable for his actions, but because he is infinitely just. And from hence it appears, that the requiring of repentance and faith in order to the actual partaking of the blessings our Redeemer purchased, doth not diminish the value of his satisfaction, they being not the causes of pardon, but necessary qualifications in the subject that receives it.
2. It doth not lessen the completeness of his satisfaction, that believers are liable to afflictions and death; for these are continued, according to the agreement between God and our Redeemer, for other ends than satisfaction to justice, which was fully accomplished by him. This will appear by several considerations.—Some afflictions have not the nature of a punishment, but are intended only for the exercise of their graces ; “that the trial of their faith, patience, and hope, be ing much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise,” 1 Peter i. 7. Now these afflictions are the occasion of their joy, and in order to their glory. Of this kind are all the sufferings that Christians endure for the promotion of the gospel. Thus the apostles esteemed themselves dignified in suffering what was contumelious and reproachful for the name of Christ, Acts v. 41. And St. Paul interprets it as a special favour, that God called forth the Philippians to the combat:
To you it is given in the behalf of Christ to suffer,” Phil. i. 29 : not only the graces of faith and fortitude, but the affliction was given So believers are declared happy, when they are
partakers of Christ's sufferings: for the spirit of glory resteth on them," 1 Peter iv. 14. Now it is evident that afflictions of this nature are no punishments; for since it is essential to punishment to be inflicted for a fault, and every fault hath a turpitude in it, it necessarily follows, that punishment, which is the brand of a crime, must be always attended with infamy, and the sufferer under shame. But Christians are honourable by their sufferings for God, as they conform them to the “ image of his Son," who was consecrated by sufferings. Afflictions are sent sometimes not with respect to a sin committed, but to prevent the commission of it: and this distinguishes them from punishments; for the law deters from evil, not by inflicting, but threatening the penalty. But in the divine discipline there is another reason; God af
flicts to restrain from sin: as St. Paul had “a thorn in the flesh” to prevent pride, 2 Cor. xii. 7. Those evils that are inflicted on believers for sin, do not diminish the power and value of Christ's passion; for we must distinguish between punishments which are merely castigatory for the good of the offender, and those which are purely vindictive for the just satisfaction of the law. Now believers are liable to the first, but are freed from the other; for Christ“ hath redeemed them from the curse of the law, being made a curse for them.”
The Popish doctrine of satisfaction to offended justice by our suffering temporal evils, is attended with many pernicious consequences.—It robs the cross of Christ of one part of its glory; as if something were left us to make up in the degrees and virtue of his sufferings.—It reflects on God's justice, as if he exacted two different satisfactions for sin; the one from Christ, our Surety, the other from the sinner.-It disparages his mercy, in making him to punish whom he pardons, and to inflict a penalty after the sin is remitted.-It is dangerous to man, by feeding a false presumption in him; as if by the merit of his sufferings, he could expiate sin, and obtain part of that salvation which we entirely owe to the death of our Redeemer.
The difference between chastisements, and purely vindictive punishments, appears in three things:
In the causes from whence they proceed. The severest sufferings of the godly are not the effects of the divine vengeance. It is true, they are evidences of God's displeasure against them for sin, but not of hatred; for being reconciled to them in Christ, he bears an unchangeable affection to them, and love cannot hate, though it may be angry. The motive that excites God to correct them, is love: according to that testimony of the apostle, “Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth,” Heb. xii. 6. As sometimes out of his severest displeasure he forbears to strike, and condemns obstinate sinners to prosperity here, so from the tenderest mercy he afflicts his own. But purely vindictive judgments proceed from mere wrath.
They differ in their measures. The evils that believers suffer are always proportioned to their strength. They are not the sudden eruptions of anger, but deliberate dispensations. David deprecates God's judgment as it is opposed to favour: “Enter not into judgment with thy servant, O Lord,”
Psalm cxliii. 2; and Jeremiah desires God's judgment as it is opposed to fury: “ O Lord, correct me, but with thy judgment, not in thine anger,” Jer. x. 24. It is the gracious promise of God to David, 2 Sam. vii. 14, with respect to Solo
“ If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men;" that is, chastise him moderately; for in the style of the scripture, as things are magnified by the epithet “divine” or “ of God,” as “the cedars of God," that is, very tall; and Nineveh is called the city of God, that is, very great: so, to signify things that are in a mediocrity, the scripture uses the epithet “human” or “of men.” And according to the rule of opposition, the rod of God is an extraordinary affliction which destroys the sinner; it is such a punishment as a man can neither inflict nor endure: but the rod of men is a moderate correction, that doth not exceed the strength of the patient. But every purely vindictive punishment which the law pronounces, is in proportion to the nature of the crime, not the strength of the criminal.
They are distinguished by the intention and end of God in inflicting them.-In chastisements God primarily designs the profit of his people, that they may be “ partakers of his holiness,” Heb. xii. 10. When they are secure and carnal, he awakens conscience by the sharp voice of the rod, to reflect upon sin, to make them observant for the future, to render their affections more indifferent to the world, and stronger towards heaven. The apostle expresses the nature of chastisements, “ When we are judged, we are chastened" or instructed “by the Lord,” 1 Cor. xi. 32: they are more lively lessons than those which are by the word alone, and make a deeper impression upon the heart. David acknowledges, Before I was afflicted, I went astray: but now I have kept thy word,” Psalm cxix. 67. Corrupt nature makes God's favours pernicious, but his grace makes our punishments profitable. Briefly, they are not satisfactions for what is passed, but admonitions for the time to come. But purely vindictive judgments are not inflicted for the reformation of an offender, but to preserve the honour of the sovereign, and public order, and to make compensation for the breach of the law. If any advantage accrue to the offender, it is accidental, and beside the intention of the judge. The end of chastisements upon believers is to prevent their final destruction: “When we are judged, we are chastened
of the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world,” 1 Cor. xi. 32. And this sweetens and allays all their sufferings; as the Psalmist declares, “ Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head," Psalm cxli. 5. But the vindictive punishment of a malefactor is not to prevent his condemnation; for death is sometimes the sentence. In this respect the temporal evils that befall the wicked and the godly, though materially the same, yet legally differ; for to the wicked they are so many earnests of the complete payment they shall make to justice in another world, the beginning of eternal sorrows; but to the godly they are in order to their salvation. They are as the Red Sea, through which the Israelites passed to the land of promise, but the Egyptians were drowned in it. Briefly, their sufferings differ as much in their issue, as the kingdoms of heaven and hell.
That death remains to believers, doth not lessen the perfection of Christ's satisfaction. It is true, considered absolutely, it is the revenge of the law for sin, and the greatest temporal evil; so that it may seem strange, that those who are redeemed by an all-sufficient ransom, should pay this tribute to the king of terrors: but the nature of it is changed. It is a curse to the wicked inflicted for satisfaction to justice, but a privilege to believers: as God appointing the rainbow to be the sign of his covenant, that he would drown the world ng more, ordained the same waters to be the token of his mercy, which were the instrument of his justice. “Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord,” Rev. xiv. 13. And the
Psalmist tells us, that “precious in the sight of the Lord is | the death of his saints,” Psalm xvi. 15. Christ hath taken
away what is truly destructive in it. It is continued for their advantage. Corruption hath so depraved the sensitive appetite, that during our natural state we are not entirely freed from it: but death, that destroys the natural frame of the body, puts an end to sin. And in this respect there is a great difference between the death of Christ and of believers; the end of his was to remove the guilt of sin, of theirs to extinguish the relics of it. It is a delivery from temporal evils, and an entrance into glory. Death and despair seize on the wicked at once, “but the righteous hath hope in his death." The grave shall give up his spoils at the last. It retains the body for a time, not to destroy, but purify it. Our Saviour