Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

indeed is essential to him, but justice arbitrary. This error, however, will be easily refuted, if we consider what this divine justice really is ; that is to say, that it is a hatred against sin, and a will to punish it, and to preserve the relation between crime and suffering. Now, this hatred against sin, and this will to punish it, arise necessarily and essentially from the love of sanctity, and the will to maintain the connexion between sanctity and felicity. And who does not see that this love of sanctity, and this desire to preserve the relation which it has with felicity, is so essential to God, that it is not possible to form an idea of the Divinity without distinctly conceiving this virtue? It is not possible, then, that justice, which is nothing else but the hatred of crime, and the will to preserve its relation with suffering, should not be essential to the Divinity. We must conceive of four things in God. (1.) The love of sanctity. (2.) The will to maintain the relation between it and felicity. (3.) The hatred of sin. (4.) The will to preserve the relation which it has with penal suffering. Of these four things, it is evident that the second necessarily arises from the first. By consequence, it is also evident that the fourth arises from the third. But the third necessarily arises from the first; or, to speak still more correctly, the third and the first are but one and the same thing ; and they are both so essential to God, that it is not possible to conceive of him without them. The second and the fourth, then, are in like manner essential to him, and he could not violate them without denying himself, which is impossible.

2. A second reason of this (that sin cannot be pardoned by a simple exercise of mercy, without any satisfaction to justice) may be derived from the fact, that God is essentially the Sovereign Ruler of the world, and, consequently, the Protector of order, and the Vindicator of equity and right. It is therefore impossible that he should not exercise justice, and, by consequence, that he should not punish crime, since crime is nothing else than the violation of the natural order in which all things should continue, and the transgression of eternal laws. A Magistrate may be considered either as a private person or as a Magistrate. In the first position, he may be offended, and feel resentment against the injuries done to him ; he may be damaged in property or person, and desire reparation for it; he may also indulge hatred without real cause against certain persons, and he may be surprised by violent passion; and by any or all of these motives he may be induced to occasion suffering to others. But he may also choose not to occasion it, for he is the master of his own concerns; and he may, therefore, pass over the damage which he has personally received: he is also the master of his own rights, and he may relax his demands for reparation for the injustice that he has suffered; he may change his hatred, and he may repress his passions. But, as he is a Magistrate, he is bound by the laws which he has in charge to protect and to execute : he is not their master; and it does not at all depend on himself whether they should be violated with impunity. The natural order of things being, that crime should be joined to penal suffering, he cannot change it at his pleasure, nor allow crime to pass unpunished. To apply this example to God, I would say that he may be considered either as a private person or as the Sovereign Magistrate of the world. As a private person, he is incapable of a capricious or an ill-founded hatred, or of rash or violent passion ; nor can he receive any damage from us either in himself or in what belongs unto him; for, as “our goodness extendeth not unto him,” (Psalm xvi.,) so neither does our evil and malice: he is raised far above the attempts of his creatures; but he inay be the object of outrages or injuries in what concerns his exterior glory; and in this respect he may be considered as an offended party, who might, perhaps, relax his rights, since he is absolutely master of them. But it is not in this character that God exercises his justice. He does this as the Sovereign Magistrate, as the Vindicator of order, and Sovereign Protector of equity. “But,” you will say, “ this very order, and this equity, should they not be ranged among the number of his creatures, since they are only the natural relations which things have among themselves ? And does it not from that follow that God is master of them, that he may change them as seems good to him, and, by consequence, that this same order, which thus fixes the connexion between punishment and crime, is not something inviolable in God?I reply, that those who take the sole will of God for the first and fundamental rule of the establishment of order, and who recognise nothing as it were prior, and more radical, than the mere goodpleasure of God,-if so I may speak,—who has made virtue virtue, and vice vice; who has established the connexion between physical good and moral good, and between physical evil and moral evil; it being free to him to make any other disposition : such persons, I confess, must be driven to allow that God is the Master of his own laws, and that it depends entirely upon him to change them if he pleases ; to observe them, or not to observe them; to relax their severity, or to execute them rigorously : and from all this, it follows necessarily that he may certainly pardon the sins of men without any satisfaction. From the same principle follows something yet more strange ; for we may thus conclude that God may crown the crimes of man with all his benedictions, and cause his sin, his disobedience, his rebellion, to be henceforth considered as admirable virtues. Thus, also, might we conclude, that such an order could be established by God, that the creature should be obliged to hate him, to blaspheme him, to regard him with thanklessness and contempt; and if you wish to go further, you may conclude that God might free the creature from every obligation, render him master of himself, and elevate him to a throne and an authority, not only superior to all the creatures of God, but superior to God himself. I say that all these consequences follow necessarily from the principles of the persons to whom we are referring ; for if the first, the radical and fundamental rule on which all order depends, is nothing but the simple will and good-pleasure of God; then, as he might have chosen to establish the order that we see, he might also have established some very different order, or have established no order at all, or even have established disorder in the place of order; so that what we now call disorder would, in that case, have been the veritable order. But it is not difficult to understand, not only that this principle is false, but that it is very mischievous, leading men to contemn the difference between vice and virtue as a merely arbitrary difference, established without reason and without necessity, to murmur against God and righteousness, and so casting all things into a frightful confusion. It is certain, then, that the first and fundamental rule of order is not the good pleasure of God, merely considered as such, and therefore as altogether arbitrary, and capable of change. You will say, “ Must we, then, conceive of something co-eternal with God, not depending on him, but on which, on the contrary, himself depends? How little would that differ from the old Stoical Fate?" No, we must conceive of nothing coeternal with God, and differing from himself. But we must say that this first and fundamental rule of order is the very essence and nature of the Godhead, considered in regard to its moral attributes; and as it would be absurd and impious to say that the essence of God is arbitrary in him ; that is to say, that it depends on his mere will to be such as he is, or not to be such as he is not ; since, on such a supposition, it might depend on him to be, or not to be, God; and we should have to conceive a divinity in him changeable, and susceptible of all sorts of characters; it would also be absurd and impious to say, that it depends on the mere liberty of God, on his arbitrary good pleasure, to preserve or to break that natural order which fixes the connexion of punishment and crime, of physical and moral evil. We must therefore regard this order as that which is inviolable, constant, and incapable of any change ; as being established on a fixed foundation, finn, and necessary ; that is to say, the moral virtues which are essential to the Divinity.*

God, then, in quality of Sovereign Magistrate, being the Guardian and Avenger of this order, can only exercise a justice which is incapable of change, a justice which imposes on him a sacred necessity, in consequence of which he can in no wise dispense with it. “But,” you will perhaps say, "is it not shocking to advance, that there can be anything which imposes a necessity upon God, who is clothed with an infinite majesty, and who is above all?" I reply, that if we conceived of a necessity imposed on him by & something out of himself, there would indeed be impiety in the very thought : but we are now only speaking of a necessity which arises from his very nature; and so far is it from being an imperfection in God that he is necessarily what he is, and that he has a nature and an essence in themselves inviolable, and not at all dependent on his own good pleasure, or on any supposed arbitrary will of his own,-that, on the contrary, this is his Sovereign perfection, and the opposite thought which would attribute to him, as it were, a power over his own nature, would attribute to him the last of all imperfections, for it would establish in him nothing permanent; no, not even this very good pleasure, nor this pretended right of making or of unmaking himself, as should seem good to him ; for if the divine essence be thus mutable, why should not this pretended right be so likewise ? Whence it would follow, that this principle of inconstancy which changes all, which establishes all merely as seems good to him, is yet unable to change itself, and establish or destroy as it pleases ; a principle which, as every one must see, cannot be conceived without extravagance. “But,” some one may say, "although we should admit the principle, that God exercises his justice against crime, as he is the supreme Magistrate of the world, it is

• Mr. Wesley, in his first sermon on the “ Original," &c., “ of the Law," speaks very strongly on this subject. The sentences he employs constitute one of the most profoundly philosophical, and beautifully eloquent, passages in all his Works. Our readers, we trust, are no strangers to them. A few, as instances, we quote: the whole will amply repay repeated and most thoughtful perusal. Of the “moral law," he thus speaks : “ This law is an incorruptible picture of the High and Holy One that inhabiteth eternity. It is He whom, in his essence, no man hath seen or can see, made visible to men and angels. It is the face of God unveiled. It is the heart of God disclosed to man. What is the law but divine wisdom and virtue assuming a visible form? What is it but the original ideas of truth and good, which were lodged in the uncreated mind from all eternity, now drawn forch and elothed with such a vehicle as to appear even to human understanding ? The law of God (speaking after the manner of men) is a copy of the eternal mind, a transcript of the divine nature; yea, it is the fairest offspring of the everlasting Father, the brightest efflux of his essential wisdom, the visible beauty of the Most High." This is the true foundation of all morals. They have a higher source than human nature; a more stable basis than can be furnished by any principles evolved in a course of metaphysical ratiocination. They are unchangeable and eternal, as resting on the Moral Nature and Perfections of God. -TRANS.

so far from following that God cannot pardon sin without a satisfaction, that it is rather the contrary which necessarily follows ; for the end which the Supreme Magistrate should propose to himself, is the conservation of the republic, without which neither could order nor laws serve to any end whatsoever. It is for this reason that jurisconsults and politicians have that maxim perpetually in their mouth, -Salus populi suprema lex esto.* When, then, the question only concerns the ruin of some individuals, it is certain that the Magistrate must exercise justice, because the public good must be preferred to that which is merely private, and the inviolable conservation of law to that of particular persons.

Immedicabile vulnus Ense recidendum est, ne pars sincera trahatur.t But when the question relates to the destruction of the entire body, then the Sovereign Magistrate can no longer thus exercise justice, because the laws would destroy themselves, if they destroyed the whole republic ; therefore in this case, the laws should give way to the safety of all the community, and the Magistrate must proclaim an amnesty." To all this I reply, (1.) That there are two sorts of laws : some which are made for the republic, and not the republic for them : others which are not made for the republic ; on the contrary, the republic is made for them. To the first kind of laws, the objection is applicable ; I confess it; but I deny that it is applicable to the second ; on the contrary, when a republic is only made for the observance of certain laws, if, in the place of observing them, it violates them, the laws demand, necessarily and justly, its ruin, and the Sovereign Magistrate, who is not their master, cannot prefer the safety of a criminal republic, to the sacred majesty of these laws. But as to the matter now in hand, I say that the republic of creatures has been made for the observance of the divine laws, and not the divine laws for the conservation of the republic; for the creatures have for their end the glory of God; it is that to which they are destined, and, without this, God would not have made them. And this glory of God consists in the observance of his laws, and we are not to say that these Divine Laws, which are a ray of those moral virtues which are in God, (or, to speak better, which are only the moral virtues themselves,) have the creatures for their end, and that solely to this are they naturally destined. I reply further, (2.) That there are sovereign Magistrates of two kinds : one which cannot destroy the criminal republic without destroying itself, or without destroying absolutely the quality of sovereign Magistrate, which would extinguish in it all its majesty, and reduce it to the position of a mere individual, or at least without greatly diminishing the splendour of its majesty, in proportion to the extent of the republic so destroyed : and such are all the Sovereigns of the earth. But God is a Sovereign Magistrate of another kind : for although, generally, he should destroy all men, he would not therefore cease to reign over angels, and over inanimate creatures, and even although he should destroy all creatures universally, not only would he still subsist in himself, infinitely happy, and infinitely perfect, but he might, likewise, when it so pleased him, form new creatures, and re-establish that exterior glory which nevertheless is not at all necessary to him, and which augments

* “ Let the well-being of the public be the supreme law."

+ “ The incurable wound must be cut away by the sword, that the sound part become not infected."

not in the least the essential depths and interior glory of his majesty ; for God is sufficient to himself. Thus is there nothing to move God to grant pardon to sinful men without a previous satisfaction.

To these two reasons which I have just assigned, a third may be added, taken from the truth of the satisfaction itself. For if God could have pardoned sin without satisfaction, it is not likely that he would have withheld from men this sweet effect of his mercy, or have sent his Son into the world, and required, as he has required, the shedding of his precious blood as the price of our redemption. God and Nature, it has been said, do nothing in vain. But we see what God actually has done. But as the strength of this reason depends on the scriptural establishment of the verity of satisfaction, and this is not the place in which we design to speak on that subject, we shall now pass on to something else. Another question is sometimes asked on this point: that is to say, even supposing the necessity of satisfaction to be established, was it also necessary that Jesus Christ should be sent into the world? or, if the divine wisdom could not have found another medium than that of the death of the Son of God? And it is true that there are many who acknowledge the first, who do not admit the second, thinking that we should give no such narrow limits to the power and inexhaustible wisdom of God. I confess that to myself the question appears to be somewhat too curious, and in some respects even useless : in my opinion it is sufficient for us to know that the divine wisdom has actually employed this medium, and no other; and that it is only in the death of his Son that God has determined to renew his covenant with men, and to call them back to the fellowship forfeited by sin. It is enough to know this, without setting ourselves to inquire whether other means might not be possible in the depths of the divine wisdom. At the same time, I would observe, that when we carefully examine the nature of human sin, and the rights of the divine justice, the sacred majesty of eternal law which has been violated, and the necessity of repairing the outrage which has been done to the moral perfections of God, which are the original and fundamental rule of the duty of the creature; we shall find that such reparation was only possible by a satisfaction such as this was, because one was required which should correspond to the august majesty of the holiness of God, and therefore one that should possess an infinite value, which by consequence required a personage of infinite dignity. The real greatness of outrages is measured by the greatness of the object against which they are committed, not by the quality of the persons committing them. On the contrary, the greatness of a satisfaction is measured by the dignity of him who makes it, not by the greatness of him who receives it. Whence it follows, that God himself being the party offended, (not only inasmuch as the authority of his word and commandment has been violated, his covenant with men broken, and his goodness and power contemned ; but also inasmuch as his holiness, which is, if I may venture so to speak, that which appears as though it had most of the greatness of majesty, even of divinity itself in God, has been outraged by human transgression,) sin is therefore infinite, and can only be expiated by an infinite reparation, which shall raise the honour and glory of the divine holiness in proportion to the outrage which has practically abased it. But, this being so, it is evident that satisfaction could not be made by angels, by men, or by any other creature whatsoever, nor even by all creatures put together; for at their highest elevation they are still so far beneath God that they can never raise his glory to the point from which sin had dishonourably lowered it. Now,

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »