Page images
[ocr errors]

tial to him, that, in virtue of it, he is bound and necessitated to punish sins, is highly absurd and unworthy of God."

XII. From this also we may, by a very evident consequence, infer, that the death and sufferings of Christ were in vain, and without any fruit or effect: which I thus demonstrate: If there is in God, even before, and exclusive of the satisfaction of Christ, a power of remitting sins, notwithstanding his vindictive justice, Christ has therefore done no-, thing by suffering and dying in order to the existence of such a power in God. But the remonstrants strenuously declare and maintain, that God can, without satisfaction, and without the violation of his essential justice, let sins go unpunished, and that the contrary is highly absurd: Christ therefore procured nothing by his death. For what he is said to have obtained by it did already exist without it. "God could have saved us without the satisfaction of Christ: but did not chuse to do it, says Corvinus, in his Censura Anatom. Molinæi, p. 436.

XIII. In a word, this assertion of Arminius is inconsistent with theological truth. For, 1st, The Scripture no where declares, that the fruit of Christ's death is a possibility of the remission of sins: Nor does Arminius produce any passage of Scripture to that purpose. But to speak of the fruit of Christ's death without Scripture is untheological. dly, Nay, the Scripture asserts the contrary, as we have at large shewn $ 3. 4. 5. 3dly, It is also contrary to all reason to say, that the proper effect of Christ's most perfect satisfaction was, that God might let the captive go free, yet so that the captive might always remain in prison and be liable to pay the debt. How absurd! that God should receive full satisfaction by the death of his Son, for the sins of any particular person, and yet, notwithstanding this plenary satisfaction of Christ, that man is to be sent to eternal fire, there to satisfy, in his own person, for those very sins which Christ had fully satisfied for already? 4thly, Such a bare possibility of remission, which, from the nature of the thing, may never become actual, overturns the unchangeable covenant between the Father and the Son; the sum of which Arminius himself has well expressed in his oration de Sacerdotio Christi, p. 14. "God required of Christ, that he should make his soul an offering for sin, give his flesh for the life of the world, pay the price of redemption for the sins and captivity of mankind: and promised, if he did so, that he should see is seed, and become an eternal priest. The priest accepted this condition," &c. Christ, relying on this infallible promise, did willingly VOL. I.



give himself up to death. But from this assertion of Arminius and the remonstrants, it was possible, that Christ, after having paid the ransom, should see no seed, be a king without any kingdom of grace, an everlasting father without any children, a bridegroom without a bride, a head without a body. All which are most abominable.

XIV. Arminius, however, defends his opinion by three argu ments. The first is this: God has fully right to impart those benefits to whom he thinks proper, and on what conditions be is pleased to prescribe. Whence it follows, that Christ has not merited the bestowing those benefits actually upon any one; for this is the tendency of these words of Arminius. I answer, 1st, We deny that God may not impart those benefits which Christ has merited to those for whom he died. God might indeed appoint the persons Christ was to die for: but this appointment being once settled, God is not at liberty not to give that grace and glory which was purchased by the death of Christ to those for whom he died. 2dly, Arminius is further mistaken, when he says that God had a full right to impart those benefits on what conditions he pleased to prescribe, supposing that the performance of these conditions, namely faith and repentance, or the grace necessary to the performance of them, was not among those blessings which Christ had merited for us by his passion. For, it was agreed in that covenant between the Father and the Son, by which Christ gave himself up to death, that all adult persons should, in the way of faith and repentance, come to the saving enjoyment of the other blessings of it: nor can any other conditions be now settled by agreement. Besides, it was also fixed that the Father should, from the consideration of Christ's merit, grant the spirit of grace for faith and repentance, to those for whom Christ had died, as we have already seen Arminius himself orthodoxly reckoning the Spirit of grace among the effects of the sacerdotal office of Christ. For, seeing God hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Christ, Eph. i. 3. that is, through and for the merits of Christ, and the gift of faith is one of the most excellent of these blessings, Phil. i. 29. that likewise must certainly come to us on account of his merits. 3dly, Nor is it agreeable to Scripture language, to say, that faith and repentance are requisite conditions, before any effects of Christ's death are communicated to a person. Certainly they are not required previous to our regeneration and vivification from the death of sin, and our deliverance from this present evil world, which are reckoned among the effects of Christ's death by Paul, Eph. ii. 5. and Gal. i. 4. We may therefore say, if you will, that these are


conditions requisite for applying to our consciences that consolation purchased by the death of Christ, yet, in such a manner, as it is from the merit of Christ, that the grace, that is powerfully and abundantly effectual to perform those conditions must flow. XV. Arminius's second argument is this. "If the actual remission of sins, &c. be the effect of Christ's death, we must then allow, that, according to the very rigour of God's justice and law, both an eternal life and an immunity from punishment, are due to the elect, and that therefore they are entitled to ask those benefits of God, in right of the payment and purchase made; without God's having any right to require of them faith. in Christ and conversion to God." I answer, 1st, We are wholly of opinion, that one who is renewed may come boldly to the throne of grace, and ask for those blessings at God's hand, in right of the payment and purchase made by Christ. For, why should we not venture to ask of God that he would perform for us what he was pleased to make himself a debtor to his Son and to his merits? This is the appaís, or boldness of our faith, to expect the crown of righteousness from God, as a merciful and gracious giver, in respect of our unworthiness, but as a just judge, in respect to the merits of Christ, 2 Tim. iv. 8. 2dly, It is an invidious reflection of Arminius, to say, "without God's having any right to require of us faith in Christ, and conversion to himself." For it is impossible for any who approach to, and ask those blessings from God, net to perform those duties. For how can any ask those benefits of God in the name of Christ, and without conversion to the Father and the Son? 3dly, But to speak plainly. If we admit of Christ's satisfaction, and of the ratification of the covenant of grace, and New Testament, then God can by no right require faith and conversion from the elect, as conditions of the covenant of grace, in the sense of Arminius and the remonstrants ; namely, 1st, To be performed by us, without grace working them in us supernaturally, effectually and invincibly. 2dly, As, by some gracious appointment of God, coming in the place of that perfect obedience to the law, which the covenant of works required. For, in this manner, Arminius explains these things; that, instead of perfect obedience, which the covenant of works required, the act of faith succeeds in the covenant of grace; to be, in God's gracious account, imputed to us for righteousness, that is, to be our claim of right to ask eternal life. But the nature of the covenant of grace admits of no such conditions, however framed, on which to build a right to life eternal, either from the justice, or the gracious estimation of God. And thus far Arminius concludes well, if the Mediator has so satisfied for us, as if we ourselves had by him paid our debts, no condiHh 2 tion

tion can, by any right, be required of us, which, in any respect, can be reckoned instead of payment. The whole glory of our right to eternal life, must be purely ascribed to the alone merit of our Lord; and on no pretence be transferred to any one of

our acts.

XVI. There is still one argument, which Arminius imagines to be very cogent. "The righteousness, says he, wrought out by Christ, is not ours as wrought out, but as imputed to us by faith" I answer, 1st, What does Arminius infer from this? Does he conclude that besides the satisfaction of Christ, faith is also necessary to salvation? And what then? Therefore Christ did not obtain for us the actual remission of sins. We deny the consequence. For, faith is not considered as impetrating, but as applying the impetrated remission. And as the presupposed object of saving faith is remission, already impet:ated for all the elect by Christ, it must certainly be the proper effect of the death of Christ. 2dly, This righteousness of Christ. was really his, as it was wrought out by him; and it is ours, as it was wrought out for us: therefore, in a sound sense, even ours before faith, being the meritorious cause of that grace which is effectual to produce faith in us. It is ours, I say, in respect of right, because both in the decree of God the Father, and the purpose of the Son, it was wrought out for us, and in the appointed time to be certainly applied to us. Tho' it was not yet ours by possession, as to our actual translation from a state of wrath, to a state of grace, and our acknowledgment and sense of so great a benefit vouchsafed unto us: The distinction between active and passive justification is well known. The former is that sentence of God, by which he declares his having received satisfaction from Christ, and pronounces that all the elect are made free from guilt and obligation to punishment, even before their faith, so far as never to exact of them any payment. The latter is the acknowledgment and sense of that most sweet sentence, intimated to the conscience by the Holy Spirit, and fiducially apprehended by each of the elect. The one precedes faith, at least as to that general article which we just proposed; the other follows it. And thus we have defended the value and efficacy of Christ's satisfaction against the cavils of Arminius.

* Others distinguish the justification of the elect, into that which is decretive, virtual and actual. The first is God's eternal purpose to justify sinners in time, by the righteousness of Christ; but God's eternal purpose to justify the elect is one thing, and the execution of it another. There was also a virtual justification upon Christ's having made satisfaction; and justification is actual when the elect sinner is enabled to believe in the Son of God, and by faith is united to him. See book I. chap. VIII. §. 57, &c.


Of the Necessity of Christ's Satisfaction.

J. HAVING explained from Scripture the value and efficacy

of the satisfaction of our Lord Jesus Christ, to the glory of God, and for the consolation of the elect, it will not be un seasonable to treat of the necessity of this satisfaction; seeing what we have shewn, sect. 21. from the apology of the Remonstrants, naturally leads to this. And here we chuse not to state the controversy in the manner, we observe, the otherwise great Chamierus has done in his Pancratia; namely, "whether God could not, by an act of his absolute power, grant remission of sin, without any satisfaction.". We are not willing to enter into any dispute about the absolute power of God; since the consideration of that seems not to suit this present controversy. For this debate is not to be explained, and finally determined from the attribute of the power of God, but from those of his holiness, justice and the like. Some, when they consider the power of God alone, affirm every thing about it: not reflecting, that God can do nothing but consistently with 'his justice, holiness, veracity, wisdom, immutability, in a word, with all his other perfections. The lawyer Papinian ff. lib. xxviii. Tit. vii. Leg. 15, has said well concerning a good man: that we are to believe, that he" neither does, nor can do, any thing prejudicial to piety, reputation, modesty, and in general, that is contrary to good manners." This certainly ought much more to be affirmed of the Great God; that whatever is not a display of, or whateverthrows a slur on any perfection or on the glory of God, cannot be the work of God. Origen has judiciously pleaded this cause against Celsus, lib. iii. p. 154." According to ús God, indeed can do all things, consistently with his Deity, wisdom, and goodness. But Celsus (not understanding how God may be said to do all things) affirms, he cannot will any thing unjust, granting he can do what is so, but not will it. But we say, that as what is capable of imparting its natural sweetness to other things, cannot imbitter any thing, because that would be contrary to its nature: nor as what naturally enlightens, can as such darken: so neither can God act unjustly. For the power of acting unjustly is contrary to his very Deity, and to every power that can be ascribed to God." And therefore we think it very unbecoming, on every question about the most sacred right of God, to appeal to his absolute power. We would ra


« PreviousContinue »