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595

Chapter XV.

The defence of Sibrandus Lubbertus against Twisse — The agreement of these very learned men in a point of the utmost importance — A vindication of his argument from God’s hatred against sin — Liberality and justice different — The opinion of Lubbertus undeservedly charged with atheism — What kind of necessity of operation we suppose in God; this pointed out — The sophistical reasoning of this learned writer — How God is bound to manifest any property of his nature — The reasons of Lubbertus, and Twisse’s objections to the same considered — That passage of the apostle, Rom. i. 32, considered and vindicated — His173173    Namely, Twisse’s. — Tr. mode of disputing rejected — The force of the argument from Rom. i. 32 — The “righteous judgment of God,” what — Our federal representative, and those represented by him, are one mystical body — An answer to Twisse’s arguments, Exod. xxxiv. 6, 7 — The learned writer’s answer respecting that passage — A defence of the passage — Punitory justice a name of God — Whether those for whom Christ hath made satisfaction ought to be called guilty — Ps. v. 4–6, the sense of that passage considered — From these three passages the argument is one and the same — Lubbertus’ argument from the definition of justice weighed — How vindicatory justice is distinguished from universal — The nature of liberality and justice evidently different — Punishment belongs to God — In inflicting punishment, God vindicates his right — Will and necessity, whether they be opposite — The end of the defence of Lubbertus.

The learned Twisse, when about to reply to the arguments of Lubbertus,174174    A learned protestant divine, who was born in Friesland, and lived 1556–1625. He wrote several works against Bellarmine, Socinus, Arminius, etc., but his best work is said to be “De Papâ Romanâ.” — Ed. brings forward two assertions of his, to the first of which he consents, but not to the latter. The first maintains “corrective justice to be essential to God,” which he approves; and herein we congratulate this very learned man that thus far, at least, he assents to the truth, and in so doing hath given cause to the Socinians to grieve. But, that “it is natural to God to hate and punish sin,” which is Lubbertus’ second assertion, he denies. The nicety of his discrimination here is truly astonishing; for what is God’s hatred against sin but this corrective justice? How, then, is it possible that that justice should be natural to God, and the hatred of sin not so likewise? I very well know that the learned man will not allow that there is any such affection as hatred in God, properly so called. What is it, then, else than the constant will of punishing sin? but that is the very vindicatory justice of which we treat. Besides, if to hate sin be not natural to God, then it is a thing free and indifferent to him; he may then not hate it; he may, according to the opinion of Scotus formerly mentioned, as approved by Twisse, will its contrary, — that is, he may love and approve of sin, though “he be of purer eyes than to behold iniquity.” But, with good reason, he farther 596maintains that “mercy is essential to God, and yet that it is not necessary that he should show mercy to any one; but of his free good pleasure he showeth mercy to whomsoever he showeth mercy.” We have again and again before shown that justice and mercy, in respect of their exercise, are different. God is under no obligation to exercise mercy towards any one, but he owes it to himself to preserve his own natural right and dominion over his rational creatures; and the learned gentleman cannot show that there is any such obligation, arising from the nature of the thing itself, between remunerating justice and liberality, on which he next insists, and their objects, as there is between corrective justice and its objects.

But he brings a grievous charge, no less than even that of atheism, against this sentiment of Lubbertus, and on a double account: for, first, he says that “hence it follows that God is a necessary and not a free agent;” and he calls that proposition a spreading gangrene. 1. But theologians agree, and without any risk of atheism, that God is, in respect of his operations within himself, a necessary agent. 2. If it be necessary that God should do any thing upon some condition supposed, is he therefore to be accounted a necessary and not a free agent? Perhaps never any one hath made God more a necessary agent than Twisse himself doth, for he everywhere maintains, that upon the supposition of a decree, it is necessary that God should do all things in conformity to it; which, however, I do by no means mention as finding fault with. Upon the supposition of a decree, for instance, God could not but create the world; but is he therefore to be called a necessary agent in the creation of the world? By no means. But you will say, “That necessity flows from the free will of God, but that which you dream of arises from the principles of his nature, and therefore how widely different!” I willingly grant, indeed, that the decree of creating the world flowed from the free will of God; but this being supposed, it was necessary to the divine nature, which is immutable, that it should be created. Nor do we ascribe any other kind of natural necessity to God in punishing sins. The decree of creating rational creatures bound to render him obedience, and so far liable to his right and dominion, and that he willed to permit these creatures to transgress the law of their creation, flowed merely from his free will; but these things being once supposed, it necessarily belongs to the divine nature, as it is just, to punish those who so transgress. But that God exerciseth a concomitant liberty in punishing them, we have several times allowed, and we have no doubt but, if this be atheism, it is also Christianity.

Secondly, “Is God at all bound,” says our very learned antagonist, “or in any manner obliged, to manifest his justice, more than to manifest his mercy, munificence, and liberality? It is evident that God is not bound to exercise any one property whatever more than 597another. Wherefore, either all things must be said to be necessarily performed by God, and even that the world was not made of his free will, but from a natural necessity; or that all things have been, and still are, freely done by God.” But besides that this reasoning is sophistical, it injures not our cause. The whole matter may be clearly explained in one word: God is not absolutely bound to manifest any property of his nature, much less one more than another, for this respects the free purpose of God; but upon a condition supposed, God may be more bound to exercise one property than another, for this relates to its exercise. But none of us have said that it is necessary that God should punish sin because he is necessarily bound to demonstrate his justice: in this very thing he demonstrates his justice indeed;175175    Rom. i. 18. but it is necessary that he should punish sin because he is just. The learned writer then confounds the decree of manifesting the glory of the divine properties, to which God is absolutely bound by none of his properties, with the exercise of these properties upon a condition supposed; which we have endeavoured to prove to be necessary with respect to vindicatory justice.

In what sense all things are said to be done by God necessarily, though he be a free agent, hath been already explained. By these arguments, then, whereby he endeavours to weigh down our opinion with prejudices, it is evident that our antagonist hath nothing availed himself. Let us now see whether he hath been more successful in his replies to Lubbertus than in his system of opposition.

He briefly states five arguments of Lubbertus, each of which he answers in order.

That passage of the apostle to the Romans, chap. i. 32, “Who, knowing the judgment” (that is, the just right or righteous judgment) “of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death,” is quoted as a proof of this doctrine by Lubbertus. Twisse thus replies: “I acknowledge that they who commit such things are worthy of death. But it by no means follows from this that it is necessary that God should punish them; which I shall demonstrate by a twofold argument: For if that followed, it would follow that they who commit such things must necessarily be punished; but the elect, because of sin, are worthy of death, but they are not punished at all, much less necessarily. Will you say, because they who have committed such things are worthy of death, that therefore it is necessary, from an absolute necessity, that either they or others, — that is, that either they themselves, who are deserving of death, or some one else on their account, though innocent, — should be punished? Who can digest such a consequence as this? Again: If they are worthy of death, then they shall die the death; either, then, a temporal or eternal one. Beyond all doubt, he will answer an eternal 598death. It is necessary, therefore, that they should exist to all eternity, and by an absolute necessity, to the end that they may be punished to all eternity. And so, then, God cannot annihilate a creature.”

But, with this great man’s good leave, neither his mode of disputing, — namely, by substituting a double argument in the place of one solid and clear answer, — is at all satisfactory, nor are these arguments of any service to his cause, the first of which is captious and not at all solid, the other too nice and curious. For, first, Lubbertus does not contend that God cannot pardon sin without satisfaction, because simply, by some reason or other, sinners are worthy of death; but for this reason only, because the righteous judgment or just right of God is, that they who commit such things are worthy of death, and that, therefore, it would be unjust in God not to inflict that punishment, — namely, because, according to the justice of God, which Twisse himself acknowledges to be natural and essential to him, they are worthy of death, and therefore necessarily to be punished. But the arguments of Twisse do not prove the contrary; for the elect themselves are worthy of death, and therefore necessarily to be punished, — not from an absolute necessity in respect of the mode of acting in God the punisher, but in respect of a condition supposed, and which excludes not the liberty of the agent. That is to say, God may inflict the punishment due to one on another, after, — in consequence of his own right and the consent of that other, — he hath laid the sins upon that other on account of which he inflicts the punishment. He might punish the elect either in their own persons, or in their surety standing in their room and stead; and when he is punished, they also are punished: for in this point of view the federal head and those represented by him are not considered as distinct, but as one; for although they are not one in respect of personal unity, they are, however, one, — that is, one body in mystical union, yea, one mystical Christ;176176    See 1 Cor. xii. 12, etc., “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ,” etc. — Tr. — namely, the surety is the head, those represented by him the members; and when the head is punished, the members also are punished. Nor could even he himself be called a surety absolutely innocent: for although he was properly and personally innocent, he was imputatively and substitutively guilty; for “God made him to be sin for us;” He “laid on him the iniquity of us all.”177177    2 Cor. v. 21; Isa. liii. 6.

The second argument which this learned writer uses to confute the conclusion of Lubbertus is of no greater weight. We are not in the counsels of God, so that we can precisely pronounce with regard to his judgments and his ways. That God is able absolutely to reduce to nothing any creature that he hath created out of nothing, 599no one can doubt; but it being supposed that that creature is guilty of sin, and that that sin, according to the right and justice of God, deserves eternal death, we with confidence maintain that God, who cannot deny himself, cannot reduce it to nothing. Neither is there anything absurd that can be inferred from this.

To the second proof brought from the word of God, declaring himself by that name of his, “Who will by no means clear the guilty,” Exod. xxxiv. 6, 7, he answers: “It is true that God will by no means clear the guilty, yet it is evident that not a few are cleared by God. The guilty, then, whom he doth not clear, must be those who have neither repented nor believed in Christ. Hence it follows that every one hath either been punished or will be punished, either in himself or in Christ; which we do not at all deny. But it doth not at all follow hence that God doth this from a necessity of nature, for it is possible that it may proceed from the free will of God; neither doth it belong to him to exercise his mercy and bounty from a necessity of nature, but of his free will.”

But, 1. It is of no service to his cause to urge that God does not punish some guilty sinners in their own persons, but clears them, when this learned man grants, yea, contends, that they have all been punished in Christ their head, by whom justice was fully satisfied. 2. It hath been several times shown before how God, from a necessity of nature, punishes sin, and yet with a concomitant liberty of will; and the difference between justice and mercy, in respect of their exercise and egress towards their proper objects, hath been shown; so that we do not think it proper to insist farther on these at present. These considerations, then, being set aside, it is evident that this learned man has not attended to the force of the argument: for it does not amount to this, that in respect of the event God clears none unpunished, either in themselves or in their surety, — an assertion which nobody but a Socinian speaks against; but rather to this, that as punitory justice is a natural attribute of God, a very considerable portion of his essential glory, yea, a well-known name of God, he can “by no means clear the guilty,” unless he were to deny himself, and deliver up his glory to another, — than which nothing is farther from God. But those for whom the divine justice hath been satisfied by Christ ought not, in respect of the demand of that justice, to be called guilty, for their obligation to punishment, namely, the guilt of sin, is taken away; so that it is just with God to deliver them from the wrath to come, although it be free to him at what time he may will that that deliverance, in respect of them, should take place and be manifested to their consciences, that so “being justified by faith, they may have peace with God.”

To those verses cited by Lubbertus from Ps. v. 4–6, he thus replies: “The prophet is testifying,” says he, “that God hates all 600who work iniquity; however, it is sufficiently evident that God does not punish all who work iniquity, for he does not punish the elect. I acknowledge that God will in his own time destroy all the wicked out of Christ; but of his free will, and from no consideration of necessity, as he is an agent entirely free.”

I am not altogether satisfied with this assertion, “That God doth not punish all who work iniquity;” neither does the instance of the elect confirm it, for even the learned gentleman does not deny that all their sins have been punished in Christ. We maintain alone that God cannot but punish every sin, because he is just; but whether he choose to do this in their own persons or in their surety rests entirely with himself: therefore, it doth not derogate from his justice that he transferred the sins of some upon Christ, and punished them in him. But they themselves, though personally guilty before Christ took their guilt upon himself, are not, however, punished, nor can be accounted guilty in respect of the judgment of God, their sins not being imputed to them; or, they ought to be said to have been punished in Christ their head, with whom they are now closely united. In the second place, we have shown before, and the learned gentleman acknowledges it, that a free act of the will may be consistent with some regard to necessity.

Allow me, then, from these three passages of Scripture cited by Lubbertus to collect one argument only; which, if I mistake not, no one of the various arguments of our very learned antagonist, nor even all of them, will be able to overthrow. It is to this purpose: If that just right or righteous “judgment of God” be essential, — namely, that which is made manifest and known to all by nature;178178    Rom. i. 32. if his avenging justice be such that he “will by no means clear the guilty;”179179    See Exod. xxxiv. 7. if as he hates sin, so he will “destroy all the workers of iniquity,”180180    Ps. v. 4–6. then it is natural to God to punish sin, and he cannot let it pass unpunished, for he can do nothing contrary to his natural attributes, exercised about their proper objects. But the former part of the argument is true;181181    Being founded on the words of Scripture. — Tr. so also must the latter.

But Lubbertus likewise reasons by an argument taken from the common definition of justice, to which Twisse also refers. “Vindicatory justice,” says he, “is the eternal will of God to give to every one his own; therefore, it belongs truly or naturally to God.” Twisse cites these words from Lubbertus; for his writings against Vossius I have not by me at present. Now, although this justly celebrated man sometimes agrees to this conclusion, yet as he twitches182182    “Objects to the argument on various grounds, which we shall, as briefly as possible, consider in succession.” — Ed. the argument various ways, we shall, as briefly as possible, bring it in 601regular order to a point. “First of all,” says he, “allow me to put you in mind that that definition of justice holds good only with regard to justice in general, but not with regard to vindicatory justice in particular; for the whole of justice is employed in giving to every one his own.” I have said before that that definition of the civilians was not quite agreeable to me, nor in every respect satisfactory. But the objection of Twisse is of no weight: for vindicatory justice is not distinguished from universal justice, or justice generally so called, as to its habit, but only in respect of its egress to its proper object; and, therefore, nothing ought to be included in the definition which is not found also in the thing itself. Although, then, the learned opponent throws obstacles in the way, he cannot deny that vindicatory justice is “a will to give to every one his own, or what is due to him.”

“But let Lubbertus bethink himself,” says Twisse, “whether the divine bounty is not likewise the eternal will of the Deity to give to some beyond what is their own. Would it not, then, justly follow that it is necessary, and even from absolute necessity, that he should exercise his bounty towards some?”

But neither is this comparison between things dissimilar of the smallest advantage to our adversary’s cause: for, — 1. The objects themselves about which these attributes are employed are very different; for who does not see that there cannot be any comparison formed between the giving to every one according to his right, and giving to some beyond their right? That to give to any one beyond his right is a most free act of the will, the thing itself declares; but to give to every one his own, or what is due to him, the very thing itself requires. All acknowledge that it depends on the mere good pleasure of the Deity whether he may will to be bounteous, towards any; but who but an impious wretch would be bold enough to dispute whether he may will to be just towards any? But besides; supposing a constant will in the Deity of giving to some beyond their right, or of bestowing on them more than they deserve, in what respect it would not be necessary (the question does not respect absolute necessity) to him to exercise that bounty towards these some, I absolutely do not comprehend. But with regard to the divine bounty, and in what sense that is ascribed to God, and what kind of habitude of the divine will it denotes, this is not the place to inquire.

He again says: “If hence it follow that it is necessary that God should give to each his due, it will certainly be necessary that he should give to each of us eternal damnation.”

That punishment belongs not to us, but to God himself, the learned gentleman will afterward acknowledge. But God may give to every one his own, or what is due to every one, in the infliction of punishment, although he do not inflict it on the sinners themselves, but on their surety, substituted in their room and stead. Thus he 602gives glory to his justice, and does no injury to us: for no one can demand it as his right to be punished; for no one hath a right to require punishment, which is an involuntary evil, but rather becomes subject to the right of another.

To these he replies: “If justice be only the will of giving to every one his own, it is not the necessity of giving it.”

But here the learned gentleman trifles; for will and necessity are not opposed, as a thing itself may be prior, and the mode or affection of it posterior, to some other things, either in the first or second act.183183    God’s will of giving to every man his own was from everlasting, justice being an essential attribute of his unchangeable nature; but it is only after the supposition of a rational being that had sinned, that he must necessarily, — that is, from the very principles of his nature, — exercise that will towards sinners, and give them the wages of sin, namely, death. — Tr. The Latin is: “Cum prior res ipsa sit, posterior aliquarum rerum, vel in actu primo vel secundo, modus seu affectio,” — “Since the former is the thing itself, the latter a mode or affection of some things,” etc. — Ed. Neither hath any one defined the justice of God by necessity, although from his justice it is necessary that he should act justly. Though it be the will of God, namely, “to give every one what is his due,” yet it is a constant and immutable will, which, as it differs not in any respect from the divine essence itself, must exist necessarily; and a proper object for its exercise being supposed, it must necessarily operate, though it act freely.

In the last place, then, this celebrated writer denies that “punishment can properly be called ours, in such a sense that, from his will of giving to every one his own, it should be necessary that God should inflict it upon us sinners;” but he asserts that “it belongs to God, as having the full power either of inflicting or relaxing it.” That punishment is ours, or belongs to us, cannot be said with propriety; it must be traced to the source whence it hath its rise, that is, whence it is just that it should be inflicted upon sinners; but this is the just right or righteous judgment of God, Rom. i. 32. Thus far, then, it may be reckoned among the things that belong to God, as it is his justice that requires it should be inflicted. But it does not follow that God has a full power of inflicting it or relaxing it, because in this sense it may be accounted among the things which belong to him. God owes it to himself to have a proper regard to the honour of all his own perfections.

We choose not to enter any farther on the arguments which this learned writer advances, either in his disputations against Lubbertus, or in his answers to his arguments; partly as they coincide with those mentioned before, and have been considered in the vindication of the argument taken from the consideration of God’s hatred against sin; and partly as they militate only against a natural and absolute necessity, which in the present case we do not assert.


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