|« Prev||ARTICLE IX||Next »|
The temporal afflictions of believers are not correctly termed "CHASTISEMENTS," but are PUNISHMENTS for sins. For Christ has rendered satisfaction only for eternal punishments.
This Article is attributed to me by a double and most flagrant falsehood: the first of which will be found in the Article itself, and the second in the reason appended.
1. Concerning the FIRST. Those who are mere novices in Divinity know that the afflictions and calamities of this animal life, are either punishments, chastisements, or trials. That is, in sending them, God either intends punishment for sins, in regard to their having been already committed, and without any other consideration; or, He intends chastisement, that those who are the subjects of it may not afterwards fall into the commission of other or similar offenses; or, in sending afflictions and calamities, God purposes to try the faith, hope, charity, patience, and the like conspicuous virtues and graces of his people. What man would be so silly as to say, when the Apostles were called before the Jewish Council, and were beaten with rods, that "it was a PUNISHMENT!" although "they departed from the presence of the Council, that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name." (Acts v. 41.) Is not the following expression of the Apostle familiar to every one? "For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are CHASTENED, (reproved and instructed,) OF THE LORD, that we should not be condemned with the world." (1 Cor. xi. 30-32.) By not reflecting on these and similar passages of scripture, the persons who attributed these articles to me betrayed their ignorance, as well as their audacity. If they had bestowed the least reflection upon such texts, by what strange infatuation of mind has it happened, that they ascribe to me a sentiment which is thus confuted by plain and obvious quotations from the word of God?
On one occasion, when the subject of discussion was the calamities inflicted on the house of David on account of criminal conduct towards Uriah; and when the passages of scripture which were adduced tended with great semblance of truth to prove, that those calamities bore some relation to PUNISHMENT, I stated, that "no necessity whatever existed for as to allow ourselves to be brought into such straits by our adversaries the Papists, from which we could with difficulty escape; since the words appear to make against the opinion which asserts that they have by no means any reference to punishment. And because sin merits both an eternal punishment corresponding with its grievous enormity, and a temporal punishment, (if indeed God be pleased to inflict the latter, which is not always his practice even with respect to those who persevere in their transgressions, as may be seen in Psalm 73, and Job 21,) it might, not unseasonably, be said, that, after God has pardoned the guilt so far as it is meritorious of eternal punishment, he reserves or retains it in reference to temporal punishment." And I shewed, that, "from these premises, no patronage could be obtained for the Popish dogma of a Purgatory," which was the subject of that discussion.
2. With regard to the REASON appended, it is supported by the same criminal falsehood as the preceding part of the Article, and with no less absurdity of object, as I will demonstrate. For I affirm, in the first place, that this expression at no time escaped from my lips, and that such a thought never entered my imagination. My opinion on this subject is, "Christ is our Redeemer and saviour from sins, which merit both temporal and eternal death; and He delivers us not only from death eternal, but from death temporal, which is the separation of the soul from the body." But it is amazing, that this opinion "Christ has rendered satisfaction for temporal punishments alone," could possibly have been attributed to me by men of discretion, when the scriptures expressly declare, "Christ was also a partaker of flesh and blood, that, through death, he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil." (Heb. ii. 14.) By the term DEATH in this place must be understood either "the death of the body alone," or "that in conjunction with eternal death. "The Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil." (1 John iii. 8.) And among those works to be destroyed, we must reckon death temporal. For "by the envy of the devil, death entered into the world." In another passage it is said, "For since by man came death, by MAN came also the resurrection of the dead;" this man is Christ. (1 Cor. xv. 21.) "Christ shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself." (Phil. iii. 21.) The greatest necessity exists for that man to become conversant with the scriptures, who denies, that "by the death, of Christ we are redeemed from temporal death, and obtain a right and title to a happy resurrection."
The following is an affirmation which I have made: "We are not actually delivered from temporal death, except by the resurrection from the dead, through which our last enemy, death, will be destroyed. These two truths, therefore, are, in my judgment, to be considered and taught, (1.) Christ, by his death, immediately took away from death the authority or right which he had over us, that of detaining us under his power, even as it was not possible that Christ himself should be holden by t]he bonds [pains] of death. (Acts ii. 24.) But (2.) Christ will in his own time deliver us from its actual dominion, according to the administration or appointment of God, whose pleasure it is to concede to the soul an early period of liberation, and to the body one that is later." But, I confess, that I cannot with an unwavering conscience assert, and therefore, dare not do it as if it were an object of certain knowledge, that temporal death, which is imposed or inflicted on the saints, is not a punishment, or has no regard to punishment," when it is styled "an ENEMY that is to be destroyed" by the Omnipotence of Christ.
The contrary opinion to this is not proved by the argument, that "our corporeal death is a passage into eternal life:" because it is a passage of the soul, and not of the body; the latter of which, while it remains buried in the earth, is held under the dominion of death. Nor is it established by the remark that "the saints long for the death of the body." (Phil. i. 21, 23.) For when they "have a desire to be dissolved [to depart] and be with Christ," that desire is according to the soul; the body in the mean time remaining under the dominion of death its enemy, until it likewise, (after being again united to its own soul,) be glorified with it. The address of Christ to Peter may also be stated in opposition: "When thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wildest not. This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God." (John xxi. 19.)
The framers of these articles, therefore, have imputed this opinion to me, not only without truth, but without a sufficient sanction from their own discretion. Of this weakness of their judgment I observe, in this Article, other two tokens:
FIRST. They do not distinguish between the magnitude of each error in a proper manner. For he falls into a far greater error who DENIES, that "Christ has rendered satisfaction for corporeal punishments," that is, for the punishment of death temporal, than is his who ASSENTS, that "the death of the body has regard to punishment, since it is inflicted even on holy persons." But they have placed the latter error as the proposition; and the former one is brought, as a reason, for its confirmation. When they ought to have adopted an opposite mode of stating them, according to the relative estimate of each of these errors thus, "Christ has rendered satisfaction for eternal punishment alone. Therefore, the temporal afflictions of believers are not correctly called chastisements, but are punishments for sins."
SECONDLY. Because they make me employ an argument, which I cannot discover to be possessed of any force towards proving the proposition. For I grant, that Christ has rendered satisfaction even for temporal punishments; and yet I say, "It may likewise be true that temporal death has a reference to PUNISHMENT, even when it is inflicted on believers."
THIRDLY. From these considerations, a third mark of an inconstant and wavering judgment discovers itself. For when they employ this mode of argumentation, "Christ has liberated us from temporal punishments. Therefore our death cannot have any respect to punishment," they do not perceive that I might with equal facility draw from the same premises the following conclusion, "Therefore, it is not equitable that the saints should die a temporal death." My method of reasoning is [direct] a re ad rem, from subject to subject, "Because Christ has borne the death of the body, it is not to be borne by us." Their method is [relative] a re ad respectum rei, from the subject to its relation, thus, "Because Christ has borne the death of the body, it is indeed inflicted on us, but not so as to have any reference to punishment."
God will himself approve and verify this argument a re ad rem, from subject to subject, by the effect which He will give to it at some future period. But the argument will be prepared and stated in a legitimate form, thus, "Christ has borne the death of the body; and, (secondly,) has taken it away, which fact is apparent from his resurrection. Therefore, God will take away death from us in his own good time."
|« Prev||ARTICLE IX||Next »|
►Proofing disabled for this book
► Printer-friendly version