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Agreeably thereto, there are two things in sin, besides the action itself, (in sins of commission, which may be called the substratum, or the To materiale of sin, which is metaphysically good). First, The disconformity of the action in sins of commission), and of the power and principle of action (in sins of omission,) to the law of God; which may be called the To formale of sin, being that which constitutes the action, or the power, sinful. Secondly, There is the guilt of it; which is an obligation to punishment: and this is a consequent of sin, flowing both ex natura rei, et. ex institutone Dei ; from the nature of sin itself; and the sanction of the divine law.
2. The guilt of sin may be considered two ways (1.) In actu primo. (2.) In actu secundo. As it is considered under the former notion, it denotes the intrinsic demerit of sin, whereby the sinner, in whatsoever state he be, doth indeed deserve the wrath and curse of God for his sin, and that so much the more as the sin is aggravated by light, mercies received, and the like. And thus believers are more guilty than others. In this sense, guilt cannot be separated from sin, no more than risibility from a man, or heat from the fire. The guilt of sin considered in actu secundo, denoted an actual obligation to undergo the penalty denounced in the law, whether a remission be to follow or not. There is a vast difference betwixt these two, and therefore the distinction is carefully to be noticed in this question. The difference betwixt them is as great, as betwixt a man's deserving a sentence of death to pass upon him, and the actual passing of the sentence. And although guilt under the former notion is inseparable from sin, yet in this sense it is separable therefrom ; even as the three children in the fiery furnace were in actu primo combustible ; but not in actu secundo ;* the fire could have no power over them. The pardon of sin takes away the guilt of it in the last sense, though in the former it still remains. And so Christ took on our guilt in the latter, but it remains with us in the former sense. Turretine calls the one potential guilt, the other actual ; f the one, says he, respects condemnability, the other condemnation.
3. We must also distinguish betwixt actual guilt, or the actual binding over the sinner to punishment; and the execution, or actual inflicting of the punishment. The former may be where the latter shall never follow; as the elect unconverted are lying under the condemnatory sentence of the law, though it shall never be executed upon them. The confounding of these two cannot but lead men into mistakes. All the three do clearly appear, if we compare the case
Mares. in dist. Castan. p. 19. Ameoii medulla, cap. 12. thes. 5. Loc. de pecatto.
of a sinner with that of malefactors committing capital crimes. The malefactor by his deed first deserves death, then he is adjudged thereto, and last of all the sentence is executed. All these are not only to be distinguished, but they may indeed be divided; which I need not stand to enlarge upon.
4. Panishment is taken either largely or strictly. Largely, it is used for the afflictions, or mala tristia, that come upon men, * whether good or bad, for their sin. So the scripture useth it, so orthodox divines use it sometimes ; and therefore we may make use of the word in the present inquiry without any imputation of heterodoxy. Strictly so called, it respects only those evils that are inflicted for sin upon men, by the Lord as a just judge, without any mixture of fatherly love; and so it is termed judicial punishment, in opposition to the evils inflicted on the children of God, flowing from fatherly love. In respect of the end of punishment, it is either correctory or vindictive. The first is inflicted for the correction of the offender; the other for the satisfying of justice without respect to the amendment of the party; which I understand of God's intention simply: for as to the vindictive punishments inflicted on the reprobates, on this side of time at least, the amendment of the party may be justly looked on as the finis operis, though we cannot rationally suppose it to be the finis operantis, seeing it is not effected. In respect of its duration, it is either temporary or eternal. Correctory punishments are temporary, in regard the end of them is effected, therefore are they confined within the limits of time; but the other are eternal, and never have an end, in regard men are never able completely to satisfy the justice of God.
5. Lastly, The sins of believers are of two sorts. First, Some such as they having fallen into, do lie in, at least for a time, through the growing power of corruption, not having risen therefrom by the renewed acts of grace. In this case was David when Nathan camo unto him, 2 Sam. xii. Secondly, Some they have fallen into; but, by the influences of the Spirit upon the principles of grace in their hearts, putting grace in exercise, they have recovered therefrom, having renewed their faith and repentance. In this case find we David, Psal. li. These things premised, we
ASSERT I. That the sins of believers whether repented of or not, in regard of their disconformity to the law of God, make them liable in actu primo, not only to temporal, but to eternal punishment. This is so clear that none who know what God is, or what sin is, will deny it, but will cheerfully subscribe to the truth of it.
Therefore David testifies,* that no man living can be justified in God's sight; and when the worst comes upon us bere from our Father for sin, we must still say, " That with us he hath not dealt as we sin-, ned. Therefore believers not only may, but ought to confess their sins, mourn over them, condemn themselves for them, &c. And the contrary practice is so far from a gospel spirit, that it doth evidently argue a licentious spirit, regardless of the honour of God, and the purity of his law. Believers, so far as in them lies, by their sins do cast themselves into the fiery furnace of eternal wrath, 80 that if there were not one with them, “ like unto the Son of God," the fire should actually fasten on them; wherefore they may look on themselves, as indeed they are, “ brands plucked out of the fire; and sing that song, “ Not unto us, Lord, not to us,"I &c. And the truth is, as one says well,|| In some respects the sins of the godly are worse than the sins of others; for they grieve the Spirit nore, they dishonour Christ more, they grieve the saints more, they wound the name of God more, they are more against the love, and grace, and favour of God, than other men's sins are.
Assert. II. The sins of believers while unrepented of, make them liable actually to the temporary strokes of God's fatherly hand. So that a guilty conscience in a believer, fearing a stroke from the hand of God, doth not fear where no fear is : for though God" no iniquity in Jacob, nor transgression in Israel," so as to punish them in a way of vindictive justice, as he does the reprobate, though Papists would have it so, yet no doubt he sees it in them, so as to panish them with the stroke of a fatherly hand; which is manifest (whatever Antinomians say to the contrary) from the many instances thereof recorded in scripture, as Moses, Samson, David, and many others; and from that plain scripture, Psal. Ixxxix. 30, 31, 32 “ If his children forsake my law—Then will I visit their transgres, sion with the rod, &c." of which more anon.
AssERT. III. The sins of believers, even while unrepented of, do not make them liable, in actu secundo, to the stroke of vindictive justice, or make them not actually liable to eternal wrath. Take it in hypothesi thus : David being a gracious man, even while he lay under the sins of murder and adultery unrepented of, though he did lay himself open to the temporary strokes of God's paternal anger, and deserved eternal death thereby, yet he was not actually liable to eternal wrath.
ARGUMENT. I. That promise Psal. lxxix. 30, 31, 32, 33. seems to carry it so, “If his children forsake my law—Then will I visit
* Psal. cxliii. 2.
† Psal, ciii. 10. Psal. cxv. 1.
| Bridge's Lifting up, p. 60.
their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes Nevertheless, my loving-kindness will I not utterly take from him, por suffer my faithfulness to fail.” Where it is evident, that by the rod and stripes, he means only temporary strokes of his fatherly anger. This is a repetition of that promise, 2 Sam. vii. 14, 15. Let us inquire to whom these scriptures do relate, that it may be seen how they favour our purpose. To exclude David and his son Solomon here, and the continuance of David's line and kingdom, were unaccountable, especially considering that clause, 2 Sam. vii. 15. “As I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee.” But surely it looks farther than to David and his seed, even to the Lord Jesus Christ; as appears from 1 Chron. xxii. 10. He is the true Solomon, the builder of the Lord's lionse, whose kingdom is established for ever indeed; and of him Solomon, the king was a type. David himself testifieth this, while he shews that these promises were to be fulfilled in him, 2 Sam. vii. 21. “For thy word's sake (says he) hast thou done this.” Compare 1 Chron. xvii. 19. “For thy SerFant's sake hast thou done all this.” Where it is observed by Witsins * and others before him, that whom he calls in the one place, the Lord's Word, in the other place he calls, the Lord's Servant, meaning thereby the Messiah. But the Apostle puts it beyond all doubt ; when speaking of Christ, he cites that scripture, and applies it to him, “I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a son," Heb. i. 5. From all which it seems to be plain, that the promise mentioned does belong to Christ's spiritual seed; that is, believers ; " who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” John i. 12, 13. Here then is a promise of temporary punishments, which are to be merely correctory, to bring them in from the extravagancies into which, by temptation, they may fall. And I think I may call it a promise of the covenant:t for it is much to be doubted, if the gospel and covenant of grace know any threatenings properly and strictly so called. And truly this fatherly nurture is that which the children of God cannot want; yea, these rods and stripes are the peculiar privilege of those who are his; and they have as good right to them by the covenant, as to any other benefit. Here we have a discovery of the Lord's way of dealing with his people as plainly laid down as any where else : yet not the least hint of any actual liableness to eternal wrath. So that we may justly conclude, that their liableness to temporal strokes, is their utmost bazard; which will more clearly appear, if we consider,
* Exerc. de serm. Deo. th. 18. Rivet in Psal. ii. 7.
† Wits. de cec, fæd.
under what notion the Lord deals thus with them; even as they are Christ's seed, the fruit of his soul-travail under the pangs of death, in which he having taken on their guilt, they can be no more liable : only the rod of a reconciled God remains to them, called “the rod of men
2 Sam. vii. 14. Arg. II. If the sins of believers, even while unrepented of, do make them actually liable to eternal wrath, it must be by virtue of some law: wherefore there must be one found in this case, who may say of the believer, as the Jews said of Christ, “ We have a law, and by our law he ought to die ;” or, which is all one upon the matter, he must be liable to death by some covenant: for however God might have exacted obedience of man, and threatened and inflicted punishment in case of disobedience, merely upon the account of his sovereignty, without making any covenant with him; yet being pleased to enter into a covenant with man, he deals with him covenant-ways; which I think I need not stand to prove. But I say, there is no such law, and no such covenant, by virtue whereof the believer can be made actually liable to eternal wrath: for if there were any such, it must either be the covenant of grace, or the covenant of works. I can scarcely think it will be said, That it is the covenant of grace, by virtue whereof the believer under sin unrepented ought to die; for that were to bring in the law, with its cursing and condemning power, into the new covenant, and so utterly to overturn it, and make it a covenant of works. The tenor of the covenant of grace runs thus, “ Believe, and thou shalt be saved ;” but it does not say, “He that believeth not, shall be danmed;" for the covenant of works says that completely, and secures the destruction of those that despise the covenant of grace : but Frustra fit per plura, &c. It must needs be said then, that it is by virtue of the covenant of works, or by the law. But the Scripture teacheth us, that believers being now under the covenant of grace, are no more under that of works; for a man cannot be under both; they are therein incompatible. We are plainly taught in God's word, that believers are “dead to the law," Rom. vii. 4. “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body," i, e. the sufferings of Christ in his body), (Pars pro toto, Senec., that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead ; that is, to Christ. It seems then that the Apostle is of opinion, that a man cannot be married to Christ, unless
Be She Bet Ana Shim, with the rods of old or weak men : for even as an old man layeth on but a weak blow, so doth the Lord correct his children but with a faint blow. Heems cit. Leigh in Crit.