The Economy of the Covenants Between God and Man by Herman Witsius

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Herman Witsius (1636-1708)

Arguably known for the best work on Covenant Theology in print (at least in the top 5).

Herman Witsius (1636-1708) was Professor of Divinity in the Universities of Franeker, Utrecht, and Leyden. A brilliant and devout student, he was fluent in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew by the age of fifteen, when he entered the University of Utrecht. He was ordained at twenty-one and served in several pastorates, filling both the pulpit and the academic chair over the course of his life.

This, his magnum opus, is a reflection of some of the most fruitful and mature thinking on federal theology during the seventeenth century, and still holds a preeminent place in our own day.

Chapter VI: What Sufferings of Christ are Satisfactory

I. BUT it is really to be lamented, that, in these our days, a new question should be started among the orthodox; namely, which of the suffering of Christ ought to be deemed satisfactory in our room. There is one in particular, who seems to acknowledge none of the sufferings of Christ to be satisfactory for us, but those which Christ underwent during the three hours of the solar darkness, while he was upon the cross, and before he expired; excluding from the number of satisfactory sufferings, that agony and horror, which he endured in the garden of Olivet* the night in which he was apprehended, and that blood which he shed before and when he was crucified, and after he expired on the cross. He had not, says he, commenced his satisfactory actions, when, by a word, he levelled his enemies with the ground, cured Malchus, and promised paradise to the thief: no expiation was yet made, when an angel came to strengthen him. Nay, he affirms that Christ did not suffer corporal death as our surety, and in our room, and that consequently it belongs not to the satisfaction which he made to the justice of God, if indeed he then fully satisfied God, when he died. But in case Christ should seem to have suffered all these things in vain, the learned person concludes, that they were done in order to satisfy the veracity of God, which had foretold that thus it should be, and to fulfil the types by which they were prefigured in the Old Testament; distinguishing, moreover, between convincing and compensating punishments, between warlike sufferings and judiciary. He calls those compensating and judiciary, which Christ endured during the three hours of darkness: the others only convincing and warlike sufferings; having this tendency, that Christ might become a merciful High Priest.

II. But it will be worth while to trace the hypothesis of this very learned person from the foundation, which he has done himself very accurately, in a letter to a friend, published after the first and second editions of my work. For he maintains: 1st, That when God threatened man, if he sinned, with death, he meant that death, which our first parents incurred on the very day they sinned, and which Christ the surety underwent in the room and stead of some, and which the damned themselves, who are without a surety, shall suffer and be forced to undergo for themselves. But that is the death of the whole man; because the subject of it is man, made up of soul and body united; and consists, not only in the privation of the sense of God’s favour, and of communion with him, and of a joyful delight in the enjoyment of him, but it is also attended with all the torture and racking pain, which the almighty wrath of God can inflict. 2dly, Our first parents underwent that death immediately upon their sin: for in the cool of the same day in which they sinned, when drawing towards the evening, they heard the voice of the Lord continually walking in the garden. It was not that articulate voice which Adam was before accustomed to hear, and was afterwards pleased with its sound, but such as was heard at Sinai, Ex. 19:16, 17; and described Psa. 29 and 77:18, 19. The voice of thunder and lightning, a token of God’s powerful wrath, which the guilty creature could neither bear nor avoid, which made Adam and Eve hide themselves in the thickest of the trees of the garden, just as the damned will desire to do, Rev. 6:15. 3rdly, While our first parents endured this threatened death, satisfaction was made to the veracity of God, but not to his justice, demanding a plenary and sufficient compensation. But, on account of the mediatorial covenant between the Father and Son, there intervened the long-suffering of God, or a deferring of his wrath, which removed that death from man, and deferred it to the day of wrath and the last judgment. 4thly, Christ the surety, in the fulness of time, underwent this same death of the whole man, in soul and body united: while on the cross he was forsaken of God, and, at the same time, had the sensation of his most dreadful wrath, who, while demanding payment of him, was pleased to bruise him; a bruising not inflicted by men, but immediately by God, who punished him with affliction and imprisonment, which will be the punishment of the damned; as it was of Christ, who is said to be מעזנה and עצר afflicted and in prison, Is. 53:4–8. 5thly, Men were not able to behold this dreadful part of his punishment; for a most horrid and outward darkness concealed Christ from every eye. His whole man suffered this death, till divine justice was satisfied; and it sufficiently appeared to have been satisfied, when God removed the darkness, that the creature, who had before acted as an enemy against him, on whom God was taking vengeance, might again refresh himself, and when he likewise comforted him with such a sense of his paternal love, as now to be able to call God his Father, and commend his spirit into his hands, &c. 6thly, Moreover, he felt and properly bore this death on the cross, when he cried out, “My God! why hast thou forsaken me?” He dreaded this death in the garden, as he saw it coming upon him, and this, therefore, is called the antepassion; and he was delivered from it, when he said, “It is finished!” 7thly, The mediator, Christ, was bound, by his covenant engagement, to this alone, and neither to spiritual death, which supposes a want of rectitude, nor to corporal death. For when he was made known in the first Gospel promise, Gen. 3:15, no mention was yet made of corporal death, till verse 19. He therefore could not be bound to that by any vicarious title. The apostle tells us what his corporal death was, Heb. 10:20. When the blood of the sacrifice was shed for sin, atonement was made; but in order to present it to God, the priest carried the blood, which procured the atonement, into the holy of holies; the veil, which denoted the separation by sin, being made to give way. In like manner, also, when Christ completed his death, or endured the whole load of anguish and wrath, having obtained eternal redemption, which he testified by his saying, “It is finished;” he was to carry his blood, or soul, into the heavenly sanctuary. The veil standing in the way was his human nature, which, upon taking upon him the sins of the elect, kept him at a distance from God; but after satisfaction made, that veil was rent asunder by the separation of soul and body, and conveyed his spirit, by an open way, to the presence of God. And thus the corporal death of Christ belongs not to the meritorious (which may be done by the alone death of man, not separated with respect to his essential parts), but to the representing satisfaction. Thus far this learned person. And who can deny, but these things are ingeniously devised, and learnedly connected? But whether they are as solid as they are uncommon, I imagine I may, with the consent of the lovers of truth, modestly inquire.

III. I remember to have learned, in the communion of the reformed church, to the following effect: 1st, That the death wherewith God threatened man for sin, comprises, in its whole extent, all that misery which, by the justest displeasure of God, has followed upon sin, and to which the sinner man is obnoxious all his life, and whose principal part consists in the want of the favour of God, and in the keenest sense of the divine curse, to be chiefly inflicted when it shall so please God. 2dly, That Christ, by the interposition of his engagements for the elect, took upon himself all that curse which man was liable to on account of sin: hence it was, that, in order to the payment of the debt he engaged for, he led a life in the assumed human nature, subject to many vicissitudes of misery, just like the life of a human sinner. 3rdly, That as God uses much forbearance with respect to sinners, and moderates the bitterness of life with some sweetness of patience, till the day of vengeance, and of the retribution of his righteous judgment, when the whole weight of the curse shall light upon the condemned sinner; so also Christ, when in the form of a servant, had not always a sense of the painful effects of the sins that were laid upon him, but sometimes rejoiced in an eminent mixture of favour, till the hour and power of darkness came, when, being called to the bar, he had every thing dreadful to undergo. 4thly, That as the death, which consists in the separation of soul and body, is inflicted on the sinner man, as the sad effect of the wrath of God; so, in like manner, Christ underwent the same death, that in this respect also, making satisfaction to divine justice, he might remove all the curse of that death from the elect. 5thly, In fine, that as all those miseries taken together are what sin deserves; so Christ, who by his engagement took upon himself all the debt of the elect, did, by all these miseries, to which he was subject all his life, satisfy divine justice; so that, taken altogether, they constitute the ransom which was due for our sins. This, if I mistake not, is the common opinion of our divines, which our Catechism has also expressed, quest. 37; namely, that all the sufferings which Christ endured both in soul and body, through the whole course of his life, constitute his one and perfect satisfaction; though it be certain that those were the most grievous sufferings with which he encountered on the last night and day; and that what he bore in his body were far exceeded by those that oppressed his soul: Just as the whole of Christ’s most holy obedience is imputed to us for righteousness, though he gave an eminent demonstration of it when he was obedient to his Father to the death, even the death of the cross; which consisted in a voluntary submission of soul, rather than in any thing he endured in the members of the body, directed by his holy soul. Which we prove from Scripture in the following manner:—

IV. 1st, When the Scripture speaks of the satisfaction of Christ, it ascribes it to the sufferings of Christ in general, as Is. 53:4, “Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;” that is, he hath suffered all the pains and sorrows due to us for sin; and that not only for our good, but in our stead. For, ver. 5. “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities;” so that these sins were the meritorious cause of the griefs and anguish of Christ; because the Lord הפגיע בו “made them to light or rush upon him,” v. 6; and for these “he was afflicted,” ver. 7, when the iniquity of us all נגש was exacted by God, as judge and avenger. But that affliction even then lay upon him, and our iniquity was exacted of him, when he was “brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers, was dumb:” which certainly happened before the three hours of darkness, ver. 7. He therefore gives too great scope to his fancy, who restrains the things which are affirmed of the afflictions, griefs, and anguish of Christ in general, to the three hours’ sufferings.

V. Add what the apostle writes, Heb. 2:10: “For it became him to make the captain of their salvation perfect (to consecrate) through sufferings.” So that those sufferings which Christ endured (and who shall pretend to except any, the apostle speaking in such general terms?) were requisite, in order to Christ’s being a perfect Saviour to us, and a sacrifice consecrated and acceptable to God; for this τελείωσις or perfecting of Christ, signifies the performing of all those things to which he bound himself by his suretiship, and especially of those required to the full accomplishment of his sacerdotal expiation. And the apostle applies the sufferings of Christ to this perfecting or consecrating. Whence Chrysostom concludes well: “Wherefore the sufferings are the perfecting and the cause of salvation.” Nay, the sacred writer had here in view all those sufferings “by which he learned obedience; for being made perfect by them, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him,” Heb. 5:8, 9. But he learned obedience not only by his three hours’ sufferings, but in general by all his suffering; from which he learned and experienced the full extent of that obedience to which he voluntarily submitted: nay, indeed, he principally learned obedience from his foregoing sufferings, for by these, as by certain principles, he was trained up to undergo those that were extremely painful. And thus the cause of our salvation is ascribed to all the sufferings which Christ endured in the days of his flesh.

VI. Peter, 1 Epist. 2:21, speaks the same language: “Christ ἐπαθεν ὑπερ ὑμων suffered for us.” To suffer here denotes to be in affliction; for all those sufferings are here intended in which Christ has left us an example of patience. These sufferings he affirms to be for us, that is, undergone as well in our stead, as for our good. For this is ordinarily the signification of the word ὑπερ: as in Euripides in Alceste, μη θνησχʼ ὑπερ τοῦ δʼ ανδρὸς, οὐδʼ ἐγὼ πρὸ σοῦ, “Die not for this man, as little shall I for thee;” which is to be understood in no other sense but that of substitution; as the subject of the tragedy, exhibiting the wife dying in the room of her husband, plainly shows. In the same manner, Demosthenes in Corona, says, ἐρὼτησον τούτους, μᾶλλον δὲ ἐγὼ τοῦθʼ ὑπὲρ σοῦ ποιήσω, “Ask these, or rather I shall do it for you.” And that this is the true meaning of Peter, we conclude hence, that in chap. 3:18, he says, Christ suffered for sins; namely, that he might be “the propitiation for our sins,” 1 John 4:10. But the sufferings which Christ underwent in our room, I imagine, may be said to be satisfactory.

VII. In fine, as “the likeness of sinful flesh,” or the sorrowful and contemptible condition of Christ, runs parallel with the whole course of his life, and he took it upon him for sin; so that God did therefore condemn sin, and declare it had no manner of right over believers, either to condemn them or reign over them, Rom. 8:3; it is manifest, that the Scripture ascribes the satisfaction of Christ to the whole of his humiliation: consequently, they do not take the Scriptures for their guide, who confine it to the sufferings only of those three hours.

VIII. 2dly, The Scriptures so expressly declare, that Christ’s death, even his corporal death, is to be esteemed a part of his satisfaction, that it is astonishing how any one could deny it. Thus, Is. 53:10, “When thou shalt make his soul (when his soul shall make itself) אשם an offering for sin;” which Christ himself, Matt. 20:28, calls, “to give his life a ransom for many,” and he says, John 10:15, “I lay down my life for the sheep.” But “to give his life,” is to die a corporal death, which the resurrection puts an end to. For, thus Christ explains it, verse 17, “I lay down my life, that I may take it again.” And John says, chap. 19:30, when describing the corporal death of Christ, “he gave up the ghost.” The argument will still be stronger, if we consider, that here an allusion is made to that typical satisfaction, which was effected by shedding the blood of the victim, so separated from the body, as to be accompanied with death. But the blood is given for the life. And therefore, a true satisfaction was made by the separation of the soul from the body of Christ, in order to keep up the resemblance between the type and antitype.

IX. Add what Paul writes, Heb. 10:20, “By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;” the flesh of Christ was doubtless the veil, which hindered our access. For, while it still continued entire, it was an indication that sin was not yet abolished, nor the curse removed. It was therefore necessary, that the veil or flesh of Christ should be rent, which was done, when the spirit quitted the flesh; for, then the body, ceasing to be a system of organs, became a heap of dusty particles, soon to return to dust, unless a speedy resurrection prevented it. And thus a new way was consecrated for us, that is, complete liberty purchased, and full right to the heavenly sanctuary. This was signified and sealed by that rending of the veil in the temple, at the very instant of Christ’s death, Matt. 27:51. Hence the body of Christ is said to be broken for us, 1 Cor. 11:24. It is not improperly observed by the learned person, that upon shedding the blood of the sacrifice, expiation was made, which was afterwards to be presented to God by bringing the blood into the holy of holies. But I wish he would consider, what I have just hinted, the separation of the soul of Christ from the body answered to the shedding of the blood, which is the rending of the veil, and breaking of the body; as the bringing the soul into heaven, to present to God the satisfaction made by death, answers to the introduction of the blood into the holy of holies.

X. And what is more evident than that passage? 1 Pet. 3:18, “Christ hath suffered once for sins, being put to death in the flesh,” that is, in the body; where the death of the body is set forth as a part of those sufferings, which Christ endured for sins; and Col. 1:20, 22, “He hath reconciled you in the body of his flesh through death:” Rom. 5:10, “We were reconciled to God by the death of his son:” Heb. 9:15, “that by means of death for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.” And what death does Paul here mean? Doubtless that which must intervene for the confirmation of the testament, verses 16, 17, which certainly is the death of the body: Rom. 8:34, “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died.” To explain all this in such a manner, as by death not to understand what, in every language, the death of a man signifies, namely, the separation of soul and body, is harsh and unreasonable.

XI. 3dly, Besides, both Isaiah and Peter affirm, that our healing is, in a more especial manner, owing to the stripes of Christ, as a part of his sufferings, Is. 53:5, 1 Pet. 2:24; while they say, “By (or with) his stripes we are healed.” For, by that cruel scourging, whereby the whole body of the Lord Jesus was so mangled, as in a manner to become one continued stripe, together with his other sufferings, he merited that we should be delivered from the sufferings of Satan, and the strokes of divine vengeance. And when we further contemplate the sufferings of Christ, and, among them, that cruel scourging whereby the Lord Jesus was made a spectacle to men and angels, we then understand what the holiness of God is; what God requires, in order to the remission of sins; what the sinner must undergo, if he would make satisfaction to God and to his holiness; what a dreadful thing sin is; and, in fine, how much we are indebted to Christ, for enduring so much for us. And this healing from sin is ours, if we dread the wrath of God, are in love with his holiness, and make returns of love to Christ. And thus it appears, though we say we are healed by the stripes of Christ as by an example; yet there is in the scourging of Christ, a demonstration of the justice of God, that we may know it; and, by knowing it with due affection, be restored to the likeness of God. In these stripes there is מוסר שלומינו, an exemplary punishment bringing peace to us: as we lately showed that wood imports.

XII. 4thly, Nothing can appear more absurd than to exclude from the satisfactory sufferings of Christ, by way of eminence, that sorrow of his soul, that great trouble and heaviness, that horror and amazement, that exceeding great sorrow, even unto death, those clots of bloody sweat, those prayers and supplications, with tears and strong cries, the result of all this agony; which the Holy Ghost so circumstantially describes. This exceeding trouble and agony did not arise only from the sympathy of the soul with the body, nor from the mere horror of impending death; it was something else that afflicted the soul of Christ; namely, his bearing the sins, not of one, but of all the elect. He had beheld the awful tribunal of God, before which he was presently to appear, in order to pay, what he took not away; he saw the Judge himself armed with all the terrors of his incomprehensible vengeance, the law brandishing all the thunders of its curses, the devil and all the powers of darkness, with all the gates of hell just ready to pour in upon his soul; in a word, he saw justice itself, in all its inexorable rigour, to which he was now to make full satisfaction: he saw the face of his dearest Father, without darting a single ray of favour upon him, but rather burning with hot jealousy in all the terrors of his wrath against the sins of mankind, which he had undertaken to atone for; and whithersoever he turned, not the least glimpse of relief appeared for him, either in heaven or on earth, till, with resolution and constancy, he had acquitted himself in the combat. These, these are the things which, not without reason, struck Christ with terror and amazement, and forced from him his groans, his sighs, and his tears. And if all this was not for the expiation and satisfaction for our sins, what reason can be assigned, why the other sufferings of Christ, within the three hours of darkness, should be accounted so?

XIII. He certainly forms too slender a judgment of them, who affirms that those horrors and this anguish were, in comparison of the more grievous tortures, which Christ endured on the cross itself, only to be deemed an antepassion, or a kind of prelibation or foretaste. But neither do the Scriptures, which represent these things with such a flow of words, nor our expositors on Heb. 5:7, speak in this manner, though a certain person perverts their words to that purpose. And it would be difficult to point out what the soul of Christ endured on the cross itself, which could so vastly exceed these horrors. There he complained of sorrow, here he was not silent; there he bore the curse due to us, here he almost sunk under it; there he complained of being forsaken of his Father, here he almost fainted away on taking the most bitter cup of wrath: nay, greater signs of consternation could scarce be observed on the cross, than what appeared here. We shall presently reply to what we read about the comforting angel. It must indeed have been an exceeding great distress, at the first onset of which, resolution and constancy itself began to “be amazed, in heaviness, and exceeding sorrowful even unto death,” that made him offer prayers and supplications to him, who could preserve him from death, with strong cries and tears; that made him struggle with so much agony, as rendered the appearance of a comforting angel necessary, and made his sweat trickle down his body, like clots of blood falling to the ground: this discovered a commotion of the spirits and blood, as we scarce, if ever, meet with a similar instance in history. Let us therefore beware, that we take not upon us, with too much confidence, to determine what sufferings of Christ, and in what degree, some were more grievous than others: let us rather prize all of them, and acknowledge their proper weight and satisfactory value. This is far more suitable to the glory of Christ, and to the sincerity of our faith.

XIV. 5thly, and lastly, Christ endured all those sufferings, either as a surety, or in some other respect. If as a surety, we have what we plead for; for he engaged to satisfy divine justice, not only for our good, but in our room, by undergoing the punishment of our sins, the guilt of which he voluntarily took upon himself. This is a fundamental point among the orthodox: nor will the learned person, whose opinion we have taken in pieces, deny it. If we seclude the consideration of a suretiship, Christ can be no otherwise considered than as innocent and perfectly holy. But it does not seem to be very consistent with the justice of God, that an innocent person, as such, should be punished, to the shedding of his blood, to cruel and inexpressible agony of soul, in a word, to death itself. Or, should God, at any time, be pleased to expose an innocent creature to such dreadful torturer, in order to show his incontestable authority; it is not likely he would choose to give such a proof of it in the person of his only-beloved Son, who fully acknowledges the right or authority of the Father. And then, of what use were those sufferings of Christ, if not undergone in our room? Was it, in order to confirm his doctrine? Or to give a pattern of patience, and show us the way by which, through straits and difficulties, we might reach to things noble and divine? Or was it, that, being made a merciful High Priest, he might readily afford assistance to the tempted? Or was it to fulfil the truth of the prophecies, and answer the signification of the types? But all these particulars, the blasphemous Socinus, with his followers, will easily admit. And if we here stop short, we allow no greater value to the sufferings of Christ, than what has been done by these worst perverters of our religion, and of the hope and consolation of believers.

XV. But the very learned person takes a far different course, whose observations, which lately came to hand on account of their late publication, deserve a particular hearing. Seeing the sinner, man, says he, was, according to what God had threatened, become liable to death, till he had satisfied divine justice, Gen. 2:17, and was brought into that condition by the devil, who conquered man, and thereby became his lord, 2 Pet. 2:19, under whose dominion and captivity man afterwards lived; in order to deliver, and perfectly restore him, it was necessary, because he could do neither of these things himself, both that another should undergo and conquer for him the death which he deserved, and that another should rescue him from the power of the devil, and deliver him by force and military prowess. The former requires a surety, who, taking guilt upon himself in man’s name, should willingly and patiently undergo the just penalty from the hands of the most righteous judge to his full satisfaction. The latter calls for a Redeemer,* who, by a just claim, may rescue slaves out of the hands of an unjust tyrant, such as is he who, by fraud and violence, acquires a dominion; and, by opposition and resistance, injures the innocent. For both these purposes God appointed his own Son, whom, by an eternal covenant, he chose to the mediatorial office; and revealed in his word, that he should be the valiant conqueror of the serpent, and the deliverer of some men, Gen. 3:15; also, a vicarious surety, and afterwards, a sacrifice, which was pointed out by clothing our first parents with skins, verse 21. The sufferings of Christ therefore are twofold; one judicial, which he endured as surety, justly on the part of God, for the debts of others, which he had undertaken to pay, and which being done, a reconciliation is the consequence; the other warlike, which he endured as deliverer or redeemer, unjustly from the hands of his enemies, Satan and his instruments, because he will bring to salvation those whom he redeems by his ransom. Both these kinds of sufferings belong to the perfecting of Christ.

XVI. In this discourse of the very learned person, every thing savours of learning: much also is genuine and solid, which I heartily approve; for it is certain, that Christ is not only our surety, but also our deliverer: what merits our consideration here is only this, whether, when Christ, by his judicial sufferings as surety, fully satisfied divine justice, other sufferings are also requisite, by which, as Redeemer, he might overcome Satan, and bring the redeemed to heaven by his ransom? To me the matter appears in this light; namely, as all the sufferings of men arise from the demerit of their sins, no matter whether immediately inflicted by God, or by means of Satan and his instruments, Jer. 2:15, 16, 17; so, in like manner, all the sufferings of Christ arose from the demerit of our sins: and when he had satisfied divine justice for these, he merited deliverance for his own, not only from the wrath of God, but also from the tyranny of the devil; but, in order to deliver his redeemed from these, there is no occasion for sufferings of another kind, but only for his power and authority. It is sufficient for this, that he is “the mighty God,” Is. 9:6: “the mighty one of Jacob,” Is. 60:16: “stronger than the strong man,” Luke 11:21, 22. I own Christ had to struggle with the devil, which he could not do without sufferings: but even this very thing was owing to the demerit of our sins. For, when man had suffered himself to be overcome by Satan, and when God had, by a just sentence, delivered him up as a slave to his tyranny; it was necessary that Christ, as man’s surety, should be exposed to and harassed by the devil, that in that respect also he might satisfy divine justice: nor could the devil and his instruments ever have been able to give any vexation to Christ, had he not been charged with the guilt of our crimes, and by God, the most righteous Judge, exposed to injuries from them, Acts 2:23. But we are to speak more at large of this presently.

XVII. And thus we are come to the examination of those distinctions, by which the learned person explains and maintains his cause; namely, he distinguishes between compensating and convincing punishments, between judiciary and warlike sufferings. The meaning of the distinctions, if I rightly take them, is this: compensating punishment is that whereby satisfaction is made to divine justice, of which Rom. 2:5, 6, 8, 9, and called “the wrath to come,” Matt. 3:7, 1 Thess. 1:10. Convincing punishment is that which is only inflicted in order thereby to convince man of his sin, though by undergoing it no satisfaction is made to divine justice, nor any guilt removed, but still remains to be further avenged. Such punishment he Scriptures call תבחות המה convictions of wrath, “furious rebukes,” Ezek. 5:15. Of these it is said, Psa. 50:21, “אוכיחך I will convince, reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes.” Judiciary sufferings are those which are inflicted by God, as an impartial Judge, for a compensation or satisfaction to his justice, and in which there is wrath; and thus they are the same with compensating punishments. Warlike sufferings are those to which Christ was exposed when conflicting with the devil, who persecuted him immediately upon his birth by means of Herod, afterwards tempted him in the wilderness, and many ways reviled and maltreated him by the enraged ministers of his malice, according to what God says, Gen. 3:15, “And I will put enmity,” &c. In these, with respect to Christ, there was no wrath of God; but rather they tended to grace and glory, when as one suffers for righteousness, sake, 1 Pet. 4:14.

XVIII. To this we reply as follows: No doubt a distinction is to be made between the calamities whereby God brings believers and his elect to the knowledge and sense of their sins, and which spring from love, and are called, Heb. 12:6, “fatherly chastisements;” and the calamities, which are inflicted on the wicked who are under the wrath and curse of God. But to make some of the punishments of the wicked only convincing, and others compensating, has neither the countenance of Scripture nor reason.

XIX. The Scripture, indeed, speaks of “the wrath to come,” which, doubtless, is compensating; but they also frequently mention a present wrath and curse, Psa. 56:8, and Psa. 59:25 compare 2 Thess. 2:16, John 3:36, “the wrath of God abideth on him.” Wherefore unregenerate sinners are called, Eph. 2:3, “τέκνα ὀργης, children of wrath,” not only because they are liable to the wrath to come, but also on account of the wrath and curse of God actually hanging over them, while they are not translated into the kingdom of his dear Son. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men,” Rom. 1:18. Which wrath of God against the wicked, being very different from that with which he is said to be angry against the sins of his own children, no reason can be assigned why it may not be deemed compensating, as it is the beginning of the eternal curse, from which it differs not in essence, but only in degree.

XX. Add, that this present wrath is a judiciary punishment, inflicted by the righteous sentence of God on the wicked. The obstinate unbeliever “ἢδη κεκριται, is condemned already,” John 3:18. God, in punishing the wicked in this life, “שפטים באף ובהמה executes judgments in anger and in fury,” Ezek. 5:15: as in Egypt, he executed “שפטים גדלים great judgments,” Ex. 6:6, and 7:4, that all may know, “אלהים שפטים בארץ that he is a God that judgeth in the earth,” Psa. 58:11. But why may not a judiciary punishment be also deemed compensating?

XXI. And then those punishments of the wicked, called in Scripture “תיכחות rebukes,” are sometimes so described as that they must be compensating. For what else is a compensating punishment, but the vengeance of an offended God on those that despise him, in order to manifest his hatred against them? But all this is contained in those convincing rebukes, which the Lord denounces against the Philistines, Ezek. 25:17: “And I will execute great vengeance upon them with furious rebukes; and they shall know that I am the Lord, when I shall lay my vengeance upon them.”

XXII. Convincing or rebuking punishments are also no less compensating. Who shall deny that it is a compensating punishment, when God consumes the wicked in his fury? For that, in the highest degree convinces them of their guilt. Psa. 59:13: “Consume in wrath, consume them, that they may not be; and let them know, that God ruleth in Jacob unto the ends of the earth.” And surely nothing can convince the wicked more of the heinousness of their sins, than a punishment heightened to the greatest degree, as a compensating punishment is, and in which there is a most evident demonstration of the wrath of God. Deservedly, therefore, we reject that distinction, which has not any foundation in Scripture, and whose parts are contrary to the rules of sound logic.

XXIII. But though we should admit that distinction in general, how is it applicable to the sufferings of Christ? Here I own I do not fully understand the learned author’s meaning. To what purpose is this distinction of convincing and compensating punishments? Is it, that, as the punishments which the wicked endure in this life are only convincing; and a compensating punishment will at length be inflicted at the day of wrath and judgment; so also the sufferings which Christ underwent during the whole time of his life answer to those convincing punishments, and the three hours’ sufferings to the compensating punishment? But what necessity to exact convincing punishments of Christ, seeing he both perfectly owned and voluntarily confessed the guilt of those sins he had taken upon him, and most willingly performed every thing by which he might expiate that guilt? Was it perhaps with this view, that, from a sight of the sufferings of Christ, believers might be convinced of their sins? But that cannot be done more effectually than when they consider them as punishments due to their sins, and as a satisfaction for them. As, therefore, no punishments of Christ can be said to be merely convincing, it remains, that all of them are compensating or satisfactory; which is what we contend for.

XXIV. The distinction between judiciary and warlike sufferings is no less impertinent. For Christ incurred no sufferings but by the sentence of God the judge. When Christ “was afflicted, the iniquity of us all נגש, was exacted,” Is. 53:7. But that was the exaction of the judge. When Satan with his infernal powers assaulted Christ, then was “the power of darkness,” Luke 22:53. God, in consequence of a determinate sentence, permitted the prince of darkness to harass Christ; and Christ, in preparing himself for that conflict, had in view that sentence or commandment of God, as he himself speaks, John 14:31.

XXV. What else is that very word of God, from which the original of the warlike sufferings is derived, than the sentence of God the judge against the serpent, who was to be destroyed by Christ, and against Christ’s human nature, in which he trod the earth, which was to be harassed and slain by the serpent? I would fain know, if what is foretold concerning the bruising of his heel, does not also comprise those sufferings of Christ which are judiciary. If not, the first gospel promise does not explain the method of obtaining salvation by the satisfaction of a Mediator; and, if the words contain an enigmatical summary of our belief, we must then be obliged to believe that they signify less than they can, or is proper that they should; but if, as is certainly right, we allow that the satisfactory sufferings of Christ are comprehended in these words, it is wrong to build this new distinction upon them.

XXVI. Let us dwell a little longer on this meditation. Whatever power the devil has to harass wicked men, before they are dragged to eternal death, he has it by the righteous sentence of the judge. Peter mentions the consequence of this, 2 Pet. 2:19. The elect themselves, as sinners, were also subject to that power, and, on that account, are truly said to be not only the “prey of the mighty,” but Is. 49:24 are likewise called, “lawful captives,” he having a right over them by the sentence of the supreme judge. But as Jesus the surety came in their room, so in virtue of the same sentence he became subject to the buffetings of Satan. And by this means all he suffered from the devil was in the most proper sense judiciary.

XXVII. It is no objection to this truth, that those conflicts with Satan proved glorious to Christ, as having endured them, because of the justice and for advancing the glory of God. For all Christ’s sufferings, even those which according to this new hypothesis we shall call judiciary, if the cause and event be considered, were highly glorious to him. He never more gloriously displayed his love to God and man, he never undertook a more excellent work, which the whole choir of angels beheld with great applause, and God the Father himself was never more pleased with it, than when, hanging on the cross, he resolutely struggled with the horrors of eternal death. But if we consider this thing as an evil contrary to nature, which is earnestly bent upon its own advantage, certainly in these harassings of Satan, there was the wrath of God against sin, which Christ had taken upon himself.

XXVIII. And why should not those sufferings be called warlike, which, according to this hypothesis, are judiciary? For who will deny that Christ, when hanging on the cross, was as it were wrestling with the infernal powers, and the horrors of eternal death? Indeed, Paul testifies that Christ had then “spoiled principalities and powers, made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in the cross,” Col. 2:15. But who can refuse, that there was first a conflict before such a noble triumph and victory? From all these things we conclude, that the distinction of punishments into convincing and compensating, and of sufferings into warlike and judiciary, is both unscriptural, antiscriptural, and irrational.

XXIX. Let us now come to the arguments of the opposite side, as far as they have come to our knowledge. Some of them are general against all the sufferings of Christ, and others more special against some parts of his sufferings. The general are partly taken from Scripture, partly from the Apostles’ Creed, and partly from the Catechism.

XXX. From Scripture they argue in the following manner: 1st, That the sin of the whole earth shall be removed in one day, according to Zech. 3:9. And Paul several times affirms, that the one offering of Christ, once made on the cross, was that expiatory sacrifice, by which all the elect are perfected, Heb. 9:28. and 10:10, 12, 14; and therefore, the preceding sufferings of Christ were not satisfactory. 2dly, Farther, that Christ, from the beginning of his life, was neither a priest who could offer an expiatory sacrifice, nor a sacrifice which could be offered. Not a priest, because he could not lawfully be one before the thirtieth year of his age; not a sacrifice, as a lamb could not be such before the seventh day. But the truth of the types ought to appear in Christ. 3rdly, Moreover, that Christ through the whole of his life, except for a few hours, was in the favour of God, Luke 2:52, “increased in favour with God:” Matt. 3:17, was declared to be the beloved Son of God: Matt. 17:2, was glorified in the mount: Luke 10:21, “rejoiced in spirit.” But at the time in which he was in the favour of God and rejoiced, he did not bear the wrath of God.

XXXI. From the Creed it is observed, that professing our faith concerning the satisfactory sufferings of Christ, we do not barely say that “he suffered,” but that “he suffered under Pontius Pilate;” words never to be disjoined, to teach us that only those sufferings were satisfactory which he endured under Pilate.

XXXII. From the [Heidelberg] Catechism are quoted Questions 31, 67, 70, 75, 80, where the impetration of our salvation is referred to the one offering of Christ, once made on the cross. But as to what is alleged to the contrary, from Question 37, where it is said, that “for the whole time of his life which he lived upon earth, especially at the end thereof, he sustained the wrath of God against the sin of all mankind, both in body and soul;” they answer, that, to sustain the wrath of God there cannot signify to feel the wrath of God, but to be bound to endure it. They illustrate and prove this explication by Question 84, where it is declared, concerning unbelievers and hypocrites, that “the wrath of God and eternal damnation do lie on them so long as they go on in their sins,” which cannot be understood of a compensating punishment, unless we would suppose, that the wicked by suffering on earth make satisfaction to divine justice, which is absurd. It therefore follows, that we explain this of their being obnoxious to divine wrath and eternal damnation. Since in the same sense our Lord declares, John 3:36: “He that believeth not the Son, the wrath of God abideth on him,” that is, he is obnoxious to wrath.

XXXIII. To these arguments we humbly reply, as follows: and to the first we say, that all Christ’s sufferings together ought to be esteemed one full accomplishment of that sacerdotal office, which our Lord undertook, in order to expiate our sins, which was at last fully completed, when Christ, dying on the cross, offered himself to the Father for a sweet-smelling savour—then the uttermost farthing was paid; this being done, God declared he was satisfied to the full, and on that day he blotted out the sins of the whole earth, and crossed them out of his book. But from this it cannot be inferred, that the preceding sufferings of Christ were not satisfactory; but that then only the satisfaction was completed, of which completion this was the fruit, that on that very day the sins of all the elect were blotted out. And this is the mind of God in Zechariah. But what Paul so often speaks of the one offering, by which we are perfected, is to be understood in the same sense: namely, since the sufferings of Christ, when on the cross, were the most grievous, and the complement of the whole, therefore, the Scriptures commonly ascribe the expiation of our sins to the cross of Christ; because without that, his foregoing sufferings had not been sufficient, as the payment of the utmost farthing completes the satisfaction, which is immediately followed by tearing the hand-writing, and giving a discharge.

XXXIV. To the second we reply, That here are many things asserted, which we can by no means yield to. 1st, It is not true, that Christ was not a priest from the beginning of his life. For from the beginning of his life he was the Christ, that is, the Lord’s anointed, no less to the sacerdotal than to his other offices. And since, when he lay in the manger, he was saluted King by the wise men, and, when twelve years old, he showed himself a Prophet amidst the doctors; who will, after all this, presume to deprive him of the honour of his priesthood? And as it belonged to the priests “to stand in the house of the Lord,” Psa. 134:1; was there not some display of his sacerdotal office in that apology to his parents, “Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” Luke 2:49. Nay, even before his incarnation, he exhibited some prelude of his sacerdotal function by his intercession for the church, Zech. 1:12, 13. We own, indeed, that Christ was publicly inaugurated in the thirtieth year of his age to his mediatorial office; but we can no more infer from that that Christ was not a priest, than that he was not mediator, before that time.

XXXV. I cannot but here subjoin the very solid reasoning of the celebrated Cloppenburg, from his Disputat. de Vita Christi Privati, §. 15, 16: “It could not be, but that, in the daily practice of piety, and the obedience due to God, which he performed in the days of his flesh, Christ, who knew his unction from a child (as appears from Luke 2:49), should offer prayers and supplications for the salvation of the church, whose king and Saviour he was born: compare Luke 2:11, with Heb. 5:7. And there is no reason why we may not extend the words of the apostle to all the days of his flesh, and all the sufferings he endured from his infancy, because by these he learned obedience; and so it was altogether the constant apprenticeship or novitiate of the mediatorial office of Christ, who walked from a child with God; wherein he from day to day fulfilled, by a persevering obedience, the work which the Father had given him for the redemption of the church, which was to be fully completed by crowning his whole obedience with the offering up of himself a sacrifice, when he should be publicly called thereto.” John 17:4, Acts 2:23.

XXXVI. 2dly, Neither is it true, that Christ was not a sacrifice from the beginning of his life. For though his offering was completed on the cross and by his death, yet he was even before that “the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world,” John 1:29. The iniquities of us all were laid upon him; and it was for no other cause that he took upon him the form of a servant, and the likeness of sinful flesh; and though he was rich, yet for our sakes became poor; and in fine, was exposed from his very infancy to griefs, sorrows, and persecutions. All these calamities proceeded from this, that, as both priest and sacrifice, he took our sins upon himself, in order to their being at last fully abolished by his death.

XXXVII. 3dly, The proof of this paradoxical assertion, taken from the types of the Old Testament, is, in many respects defective. For, 1. There is no solid foundation for that hypothesis, that all the circumstances of the types ought, in the same manner, to be found in the antitype. For then it would follow, that Christ must have been slain at a year old, according to the type of the paschal lamb. 2. It is also a rash assertion, that none could act as a priest before his thirtieth year. There is no such command in sacred writings. The Levites, indeed, were, by the annal law*, not admitted before their twenty-fifth year, Numb. 8:24, nor before their thirtieth year, to the full exercise of their function, Numb. 4:3. “But, indeed, I find no where among the rabbins,” says Selden, de Succession, ad Pontificat. Ebræor. lib. ii. c. 4. “that the years of the Levites, as Levites, indicated the legal age of the priests. And I very much wonder that great men should admit of this, even while they sharply criticise upon others.” It is the constant tradition of the Hebrews, that a priest is fit for his office at his thirteenth year, after his years of puberty, though he is not bound to take his turn with the rest before his twentieth year. See Outram de Sacrific. lib. i. c. 5. §. 3. Josephus relates of Aristobulus, “that when a young man, and out of his seventeenth year, he by the law ascended the altar to officiate.” It is astonishing the very learned person did not attend to these things, which, from his skill in the Hebrew ritual, he could not be ignorant of. 3. If this argument is to be urged, it would thence follow, that Christ could have been a sacrifice after the seventh day from his birth, and immediately upon his thirtieth year be a priest; which is contrary to what is supposed in the sentiment we here oppose.

XXXVIII. To the third, we reply, 1st, That the question is not, whether Christ did, all his life long, so endure the wrath of God as in the meantime to be favoured with no consolation or joy of the comforting Spirit: none will affirm this. But the question is, whether all those sufferings which Christ at any time endured, and all that form of a servant which he assumed, belong to the perfection of his satisfaction? A thing that cannot be overthrown by some shining intervals of joy, now and then. 2dly, To be the beloved Son of God, and at the same time to suffer the wrath of God, are not such contrary things, as that they cannot stand together. For, as Son, as the Holy One, while obeying the Father in all things, he was always the beloved; and indeed, most of all, when obedient even to the death of the cross; for that was so pleasing to the Father, that on account of it he raised him to the highest pitch of exaltation, Phil. 2:9; though, as charged with our sins, he felt the wrath of God, burning, not against himself, but against our sins, which he took upon himself. Who can doubt that Christ, even hanging on the cross, was in the highest love and favour of God, so far as he was Son, though at the same time he was made a curse for our sins? 3dly, It has never been proved, that it was a thing improper and inconsistent for Christ to have some mitigation granted him, while he satisfied for our sins, by means of some rays of consolation, at intervals, shining in upon him, by which he might be animated resolutely to acquit himself in the conflict. Nor is it credible that he had always the sensation of divine wrath, or that it was always equally intense, even on the very cross itself; or that it was always equally intense, even on the very cross itself; or that he was as much pressed down by his agonies, when he made a promise of Paradise to the thief, and spoke so affectionately with his mother and John, as when he complained he was forsaken of God. See that kind address of God the Father to Christ, when “despised by every one,” and “abhorred by the nation,” and “a servant of rulers,” Is. 49:7.

XXXIX. What is argued from the Creed, scarce deserves any answer. For when Christ is said to have suffered under Pontius Pilate, it was with no such intention, as to distinguish the satisfactory sufferings of Christ from those which are not—a fiction, I imagine, that none ever thought of—but simply to specify the time in which Christ completed his sufferings, and the person by whose authority he was condemned to the cross. Nor will the maintainer of this paradox affirm, that all the sufferings, which Christ endured under Pilate, or by his authority, were satisfactory; for if the satisfaction must be restricted to the three hours of darkness, then both the scourging, and those indignities which Christ suffered in the pretorium, and his condemnation, nay, his very crucifixion and death, must be excluded.

XL. It is certain a violence is done the Catechism, which refers the impetration of our salvation to the one offering of Christ, with no other design, than what Paul does, whose meaning I have already explained. The words of Quest. xxxviii. appear to be perverted and misinterpreted. 1st, Because it is an answer to this question: “What believest thou, when thou sayest, He suffered?” But that expression, “he suffered,” does not signify the bare susception of guilt, but the enduring of sorrows. 2dly, If to endure the wrath of God does not there signify to feel it, but only to take its guilt upon himself, or be exposed to it, it would follow that even at the close of his life he did not feel the wrath of God. For in the same sense the Catechism affirms, that very thing of the whole of Christ’s life, and of the close thereof. 3dly, Ursinus is a more faithful interpreter of the Catechism, when he writes, “Under the appellation of suffering are understood all the infirmities, miseries, griefs, racking tortures of soul and body, to which, on our account, Christ was obnoxious, from his nativity to his last breath,” &c. 4thly, It is in vain to seek for any pretence to this forced sense from Quest. lxxxiv., and John 3:36. For it is not an obnoxiousness to the wrath of God that alone hangs over unbelievers and hypocrites, but they are really in a state of wrath and curse; and that curse which they are now under is the beginning and a part of those pains which they shall suffer for ever.

XLI. The more special arguments or exceptions, either regard the death of Christ, or his agonies in the garden, or are taken from the beginning and end of the solar eclipse; which I shall set in such a light as at the same time to refute them.

XLII. If any shall say, that the Scripture, when ascribing our redemption to the death of Christ, means, by that death, those very intense pains of eternal death, which Christ endured both in soul and body together, when he complained that he was forsaken of God; I answer, that indeed they are not, on any account, to be secluded from the compass or extent of the word death; but the death of Christ is not to be confined to them, so as to exclude the death of the body, or the separation of soul and body. For Peter speaks expressly of his being put to “death in the flesh,” 1 Pet. 3:18, and the whole Scripture ascribes our ransom to that death; from which Christ arose from by his resurrection; and in fine, Paul makes the sacrifice which Christ offered, to consist in a death, which is like to that which is appointed for all men once to undergo, Heb. 9:27, and which, verse 26, is a sacrifice, and was shadowed forth by the slaying of the legal sacrifices. And we have already mentioned several places which cannot, without manifest violence, be so explained as to exclude the death of the body from being included in his death.

XLIII. If you object that Christ had before said, “It is finished,” I answer, it ought to be understood of his finishing all those things which he was to suffer and do in life, so that nothing remained but to conclude the whole by a pious death. Just as Paul said, 2 Tim. 4:7, “I have finished my course.” And Christ himself, John 17:4, “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” Whence one would absurdly infer, that there remained for Christ, on saying this, nothing further to be done or suffered; when he was still to be made perfect by his last sufferings. The meaning is evident; namely, that Christ, in discharging his office, had perfectly performed all he was thus far to perform.

XLIV. If you insist upon it, that his death was calm and gentle, without the appearance of any pains of eternal death, having already undergone these; I answer, it was a gentle death indeed, in so far as the faith of Christ, now victorious over all temptations, was well apprised that he had surmounted the greatest pains, and was secure about his resurrection and the promised reward; but yet he died a cursed death, inflicted by the wrath of God against sin, and the curse of it was typically figured by his hanging on the tree, which still continued in and after death. For while he hung on the tree, so far he was doubtless under the curse, according to Gal. 3:13. By which it signified, that his punishment ought to be taken as holding forth guilt, and the curse of God.

XLV. But, say you, believers are still to die; and therefore Christ did not satisfy for them by his death. I answer, the Catechumens have been taught to answer this objection from Quest. 42 of the Heidelberg Catechism.* By the death of Christ, death hath ceased to be, what it was before, the punishment inflicted by an offended judge, and the entrance into the second death, and is become the extermination of sin, and the way to eternal life; and at the last day it shall be altogether abolished. And if you go on to argue in this manner, I shall easily make it appear from your own hypothesis, that even that very anguish of Christ, when he complained of his being forsaken of God, was not satisfactory for us; for believers themselves often complain of spiritual desertion. But Zion said, “עזבני יהוה the Lord hath forsaken me,” Is. 49:14. Where we have the very same word which the Lord Jesus uses, Psa. 22:2. And Zion says so truly, with respect to the sense of grace, and the influence of spiritual consolation. The difference between the desertion, whereby Christ was forsaken of his Father, and that of believers, consists in this, that, in the former, there was the wrath and curse of God, and the formal nature of punishment, which are not in the latter; neither are these in their death.

XLVI. What is objected to our argument, taken from the agonies of Christ in Gethsemane, is very inconsistent. They say, that these sufferings were not satisfactory, because then an angel appeared to comfort him; whereas a good angel could not have done this without a most grievous sin against God, if Christ was then actually making satisfaction; especially as he was to tread this wine-press alone, and it was foretold that, while making satisfaction, he should be deprived of all consolation. Psa. 69:20, “there is none to take pity, comforters I found none;” for, 1st, That angel did not tread the wine-press together with the Lord Jesus; nor bear any part of his sufferings; nor, by any natural influence, did he assist Christ in carrying that burden. He strengthened Christ only in a moral sense, by setting before him the glorious issue of the conflict he had undertaken, and by other arguments to the like purpose. 2dly, There is no reason why some small share of comfort should not be administered to Christ while in the act of making satisfaction; especially if with a view to preserve him for more, and not fewer sufferings. The words of Psa. 69 are not to be taken in such a general sense, as to exclude all manner of consolation and pity; for “a great company of people and of women bewailed him,” Luke 23:27, as did also “all the people that came together to that sight, and smote upon their breasts,” ver. 48, and the beloved disciple John, and above all his pious mother, “whose soul then a sword pierced,” Luke 2:35. Nor is there any thing in the words of the Psalm which obliges us to confine these things to the three hours of darkness. It treats of that time in which “they gave him gall for his meat, and in his thirst gave him vinegar to drink,” ver. 21, which was not done during the darkness. 3rdly, It cannot be inferred, that God the Father, in sending that angel, had not then either begun to act, or, at that time, ceased to act, as a strict and impartial judge; any more than it can be inferred, that the disposition of Christ’s enemies was softened to pity, when they laid the cross on Simon of Cyrene in order to carry it after him. For both was done with a view lest Christ, sinking under his present pains, should escape those that were to ensue. 4thly, We shall by this be better able to form a judgment of the incredible load of anguish with which that mighty lion of the tribe of Judah was so pressed down, that he appeared almost ready to sink under it, unless he was, in some manner at least, encouraged. 5thly, Nor on any pretence can that angel be accused of any sin in strengthening Christ, while satisfying for us; since, by that consolation, he neither intended to rob Christ of his glory, to whom alone the praise of satisfying remains entire; nor to oppose the decree of God, for he animated Christ to execute that with resolution; not to put any bar in the way of our salvation, for he encouraged our Lord to acquire the right to that by constancy in his sufferings.

XLVII. To pretend to infer from the beginning and end of the solar eclipse, during the passion of Christ, the beginning and end of his satisfaction, is a cabalistical fancy, founded neither on Scripture, nor solid reason. I do not deny, that, in that darkness, there was a kind of type of the very thick darkness, with which the greatly distressed soul of the Lord Jesus was then overwhelmed, without a single ray of consolation breaking in upon him, but what his unshaken faith, grounded on the inviolable promises of his father, and not staggering as to the certainty of the future reward, darted in at times upon his trembling soul. But the question is not, whether Christ was then actually satisfying! This we all allow: the question is, whether then only?

XLVIII. But let us now conclude this debate, which has so much disquieted the mind of this very learned person, as his friends wished the world know from letters, published after his death. But God and my conscience are my witnesses, that nothing but the love of truth, which is only to be derived from, and defended by the Scriptures, obliged me to enter upon this subject. I know not in what I can be blamed, unless in the liberty I have taken to dissent from the author. But if, by taking a wrong path, I have strayed from the truth, how acceptable will the kind admonition be! How readily shall I own and correct the error! I heartily wish we could generally endeavour to please ourselves less, in order to please God more. I ever had a veneration for this learned person, though, after our dispute, I found he was much disgusted. But I thought this should be no hinderance to my profiting by his learned commentaries, which I own I did; with a just commendation of the author, as my other writings abundantly testify.

Bible Verse:

“I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless,” (Gen. 17:1).

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