Satisfaction for SinMiscellanies by Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)
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245. Intercession of Christ. The satisfaction of Christ by his death is certainly a very rational thing. If any person that was greatly obliged to me, that was dependent on me, and that I loved, should exceedingly abuse me and should go on in an obstinate course of it from one year to another, notwithstanding all I could say to him, and all new obligations continually repeated: — though at length he should leave it off, I should not forgive him, unless upon gospel considerations. But if any person that was a much dearer friend to me, and one that had always been true to me, and constant to the utmost, and that was a very near relation of him that offended me, should intercede for him, and out of the entire love he had to him, should put himself to very hard labours and difficulties, and undergo great pains and miseries to procure him forgiveness; and if the person that had offended should, with a changed mind, fly to this mediator and should seek favor in his name, with a sense in his own mind how much his mediator had done and suffered for him: — then I should be satisfied and feel myself inclined, without any difficulty, to receive him into my entire friendship again, but not without the last-mentioned condition: that he should be sensible how much his mediator had done and suffered. For if he was ignorant of it, or thought he had done only some small matter, I should not be easy nor satisfied. So a sense of Christ’s sufficiency seems necessary in faith.
449. The Blood of Christ Washes Away Sin. So it is represented in the Scripture, that we are washed from our filthiness in Christ’s blood. Whereas, although the blood of Christ washes from our guilt, yet it is the spirit of Christ that washes from the pollution and stain of sin. However, the blood of Christ washes also from the filth of sin, as it purchases sanctification. It makes way for it by satisfying, and purchases it by the merit of obedience implied in it. The sacrifices under the law typified Christ’s sacrifice, not only as a satisfaction, but as meritorious obedience. They are called a sweet savor upon both these accounts. And therefore we find obedience compared with sacrifice, Psa. 40:6, etc.
The sacrifice of Christ is a sweet savor, because as such it was a great honor done to God’s majesty, holiness, and law, and a glorious expression of Christ’s respect to that majesty, etc. That when he loved man, and so greatly desired his salvation, he had yet so great respect to that majesty and holiness of God, that he had rather die than that the salvation of man should be any injury or dishonor unto those attributes. And then, 2ndly, It was a sweet savor, as it was a marvelous act of obedience, and some expression of a wonderful respect to God’s authority. The value of Christ’s sacrifice was infinite, both as a propitiation and as an act of obedience, because he showed an infinite regard to the majesty, holiness, etc. of God, in being at infinite expense from regard to those divine attributes.
451. Infinite Holiness of Christ’s Sacrifice The sacrifices under the law are said to be most holy. But the sacrifice of Christ may properly be said to be infinitely holy, as it was an expression of an infinite regard to the holiness, majesty, etc. of God.
764a. Christ’s Mediation. It was needful that he that was a Mediator between two parties that are distant and alienated one from the other, to be the middle person to unite them together, should himself be united to both. Otherwise he could not, by coming between them, be a bond of union between them. And if he be a Mediator between God and guilty men, it was necessary that he should unite himself to them, or assume them as it were to himself. But if he unites himself to guilty creatures, he of necessity brings their guilt on himself. If he unites himself to them that are in debt, he brings their debt on himself. He cannot properly unite himself to a rebel against God, and one that is obnoxious to God’s wrath, and is condemned to condign punishment, to be a Mediator to bring God to be at peace with him, without voluntarily taking his sufferings on himself, because otherwise his undertaking for such a one, and uniting himself to such a one, will appear like countenancing his offense and rebellion. But if at the same time that he unites himself to him, he takes it upon himself to bear his penalty, it quite takes off all such appearance. He shows that though he loves the rebel that has affronted the Divine Majesty, yet he at the same time has the greatest possible abhorrence of the injury to God’s majesty, and dishonor to his name, in that he regards the honor of God’s majesty so much as to be willing to endure so extreme sufferings, that the divine glory and majesty may not be injured, but fully maintained.
779. The Necessity of Satisfaction for Sin and the reasonableness of that Christian doctrine may appear from the following considerations:
1. Justice requires that sin be punished, because sin deserves punishment. What the demerit of sin calls for, justice calls for, for it is only the same thing in different words. For the notion of a desert of punishment is the very same as a just connection with punishment. None will deny but that there is such a thing, in some cases, as the desert or demerit of a crime, its calling for or requiring punishment. And to say that the desert of a crime does require punishment is just the same thing as to say the reason why it requires it is, that it deserves it. So that the suitableness of the connection between the crime and the punishment consists in the desert, and therefore, wherever desert is, there is such suitableness. None will deny that some crimes are so horrid, and so deserving of punishment, that it is requisite that they should not go unpunished, unless something very considerable be done to make up for the crime: either some answerable repentance, or some other compensation, that in some measure at least balances the desert of punishment, and so, as it were, takes it off, or disannuls it. Otherwise the desert of punishment remaining, all will allow that it is fit and becoming, and to be desired, that the crime should be severely punished. And why is it so, but only from the demerit of the crime, or because the crime so much deserves such a punishment? It justly excites so great abhorrence and indignation that it is requisite there should be a punishment answerable to this abhorrence and indignation that is fitly excited by it. But by this, all is granted that needs to be granted, to show that desert of punishment carries in it a requisiteness of the punishment deserved. For if greater crimes do very much require punishment, because of their great demerit, lesser crimes will also require punishment, but only in a lesser degree, proportionably to their demerit, because the ground of the requisiteness of the punishment of great crimes is their demerit. It is requisite that they should be punished, on no other account but because they deserve it.
And besides, if it be allowed that it is requisite that great crimes should be punished with punishment in some measure answerable to the heinousness of the crime, without something to balance them (some answerable repentance or other satisfaction), because of their great demerit and the great abhorrence and indignation they justly excite: — it will follow that it is requisite that God should punish all sin with infinite punishment, because all sin, as it is against God, is infinitely hateful to him, and so stirs up infinite abhorrence and indignation in him. Therefore, by what was before granted, it is requisite that God should punish it, unless there be something in some measure to balance this desert: either some answerable repentance and sorrow for it, or other compensation. Now there can be no repentance of it, or sorrow for it, in any measure answerable or proportionable to the heinousness of the demerit of the crime, because that is infinite, and there can be no infinite sorrow for sin in finite creatures. Yea, there can be none but what is infinitely short of it, none that bears any proportion to it. Repentance is as nothing in comparison of it, and therefore can weigh nothing when put in the scales with it, and so does nothing at all towards compensating it, or diminishing the desert or requisiteness of punishment, any more than if there were no repentance. If any ask, why God could not pardon the injury on repentance, without other satisfaction, without any wrong to justice, then I ask the same person, why he could not also pardon the injury without repentance? For the same reason, could he not pardon with repentance without satisfaction? For all the repentance men are capable of, is no repentance at all, or is as little as none, in comparison with the greatness of the injury, for it bears no proportion to it. And it would be as dishonorable and unfit for God to pardon the injury without any repentance at all, as to do it merely on the account of a repentance that bears no more proportion to the injury, than none at all. Therefore, we are not forgiven on repentance, because it in any wise compensates, or takes off, or diminishes the desert or requisiteness of punishment, but because of the respect that evangelical repentance has to compensation already made.
If sin, therefore, deserves punishment, that is the same thing as to say that it is fit and proper that it should be punished. If the case be so, that sin deserves punishment from men, in those cases it is proper it should receive punishment from men. A fault cannot be properly said to deserve punishment from any, but hose to whom it belongs to inflict punishment when it is deserved. In those cases, therefore, wherein it belongs to men to inflict punishment, it is proper for them to inflict that punishment that is deserved of them.
Again, if sin’s desert of punishment be the proper ground of the fitness of its connection with punishment, or rather be that wherein fitness of the connection consists, it will thence follow, not only that it is fit that sin that deserves punishment should be punished, but also that it should be punished as it deserves.
It is meet that a person’s state should be agreeable to the quality of his dispositions and voluntary actions. Suffering is suitable and answerable to the quality of sinful dispositions and actions. It is suitable that they that will evil, and do evil, should receive evil in proportion to the evil that they do or will. It is but justice that it should be so, and when sin is punished, it receives but its own, or that which is suitably connected with it. But it is a contradiction to say that it is suitably connected with punishment, or that it is suitable that it should be connected with it, and yet that it is suitable it should not be connected with it. All sin may be resolved into hatred of God and our neighbor, as all our duty may be resolved into love to God and our neighbor. And it is but meet that this spirit of enmity should receive a return in its own kind, that it should receive enmity again. Sin is of such a nature, that it wishes ill, and aims at all to God and man: but to God especially. It strikes at God. It would, if it could, procure his misery and death. It is but suitable that with what measure it metes it should be measured to it again. It is but suitable that men should reap what they sow, and that the rewards of every man’s hand should be given him. This is what the consciences of all men do naturally declare. There is nothing that men know sooner, after they come to the exercise of their reason, than that, when they have done wickedness, they deserve punishment. The consciences not only of Christians, and those who have been educated in the principles of divine revelation, but also the consciences of heathens, inform them of this. Therefore, unless conscience has been stupified by frequent violations when men have done wickedness, there remains a sense of guilt upon their minds, a sense of an obligation to punishment. It is natural to expect that which conscience or reason tells them it is suitable should come, and therefore they are afraid and jealous, and ready to flee when no man pursues.
Seeing therefore it is requisite that sin should be punished, as punishment is deserved and just, therefore the justice of God obliges him to punish sin. For it belongs to God, as the Supreme Ruler of the universality of things, to maintain order and decorum in his kingdom, and to see to it that decency and righteousness take place in all cases. That perfection of his nature whereby he is disposed to this, is his justice: therefore his justice naturally disposes him to punish sin as it deserves.
2. The holiness of God, which is the infinite opposition of his nature to sin, naturally and necessarily disposes him to punish sin. Indeed his justice is part of his holiness. But when we speak of God’s justice inclining him to punish sin, we have respect only to that exercise of his holiness whereby he loves that holy and beautiful order that consists in the connection of one thing with another, according to their nature, and so between sin and punishment, and his opposition to that which would be so unsuitable as a disconnection of these things. But now I speak of the holiness of God, as appearing not directly and immediately in his hatred of an unsuitable, hateful disconnection between sin and that which is proper for it, but in his hatred of sin itself, or the opposition of his nature to the odious nature of sin.
If God’s nature be infinitely opposite to sin, then doubtless he has a disposition answerable to oppose it in his acts and works. If he by his nature be an enemy to sin with an infinite enmity, then he is doubtless disposed to act as an enemy to it, or to do the part of an enemy to it. And if he be disposed naturally to do the part of an enemy against sin, or which is the same thing, against the faultiness or blameworthiness of moral agents, then it will follow that he is naturally disposed to act as an enemy to those that are the persons faulty and blameworthy, or are chargeable with the guilt of it, as being the persons faulty. Indignation is the proper exercise of hatred of anything as a fault or thing blamable. and there could be no such thing either in the Creator or creature, as hatred of a fault without indignation, unless it be conceived or hoped that the fault is suffered for, and so the indignation be satisfied. Whoever finds a hatred to a fault, and at the same time imputed the fault to him that committed it, he therein feels an indignation against him for it. So that God, by his necessary infinite hatred of sin, is necessarily disposed to punish it with a punishment answerable to his hatred.
It does not become the Sovereign of the world, a being of infinite glory, purity, and beauty, to suffer such a thing as sin, an infinitely uncomely disorder, an infinitely detestable pollution, to appear in the world subject to his government, without his making an opposition to it, or giving some public manifestations and tokens of his infinite abhorrence of it. If he should so do, it would be countenancing it, which God cannot do, for “he is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on iniquity;” Hab. 1:13. It is natural in such a case to expect tokens of the utmost opposition. If we could behold the infinite fountain of purity and holiness, and could see what an infinitely pure flame it is and with what a pure brightness it shines, so that the heavens appear impure when compared with it, and then should behold some infinitely odious and detestable filthiness brought and set in its presence: — then would it not be natural to expect some ineffably vehement opposition made to it? And would not the want of it be indecent and shocking?
If it be to God’s glory that he is in his nature infinitely holy and opposite to sin, then it is to his glory to be infinitely displeased with sin. And if it be to God’s glory to be infinitely displeased with sin, then it must be to his glory to exercise and manifest that displeasure, and to act accordingly. But the proper exercise and testimony of displeasure against sin, in the Supreme Being and absolute Governor of the world, is taking vengeance. Men may show their hatred of sin by lamenting it, and mourning for it, and taking great pains, and undergoing great difficulties, to prevent or remove it, or by approving God’s vengeance for it. Taking vengeance is not the proper way of fellow- subjects’ hatred of sin, but it is in the Supreme Lord and Judge of the world, to whom vengeance belongs, because he has the ordering and government of all things, and therefore the suffering of sin to go unpunished would in him be a conniving at it. Taking vengeance is as much the proper manifestation of God’s displeasure at sin, as a mighty work is the proper manifestation of his power, or as a wise work is the proper manifestation of his wisdom. There may be other testimonies of God’s displeasedness with the abhorrence of sin, without testifying his displeasure in condign punishment. He might declare he has such a displeasure and abhorrence. So there might be other testimonies of God’s power and wisdom, besides a powerful wise effect. He might have declared himself to be infinitely wise and powerful. But yet there would have been wanting the proper manifestations of God’s power and wisdom, if God had only declared himself to be possessed of these attributes. The creatures might have believed him to be all-wise and almighty, but by seeing his mighty and wise works, they see his power and wisdom. So if there had been only a declaration of God’s abhorrence and displeasure against sin, the creature might have believed it, but could not have seen it, unless he should also take vengeance for it.
3. The honor of the greatness, excellency, and majesty of God’s being, requires that sin be punished with an infinite punishment. Hitherto I have spoken of the requisiteness of God’s punishing sin, on account of the demerit and hatefulness of it absolutely considered, and not directly as God is interested in the affair. But now, if we consider sin as leveled against God, not only compensative justice to the sinner, but justice to himself, requires that God should punish sin with infinite punishment. Sin casts contempt on the majesty and greatness of God. The language of it is that he is a despicable being, not worthy to be honored or feared, not so great that his displeasure is worthy to be dreaded, and that his threatenings of wrath are despicable. Now the proper vindication or defense of God’s majesty in such a case is for God to contradict this language of sin, in his providence towards sin that speaks this language, or to contradict the language of sin in the event and fruit of sin. Sin says that God is a despicable being, and not worthy that the sinner should fear him; and so affronts him without fear. The proper vindication of God’s majesty from this is for God to show, by the event, that he is worthy that the sinner should regard him and fear him, by his appearing in the fearful, dreadful event to the person guilty, that he is an infinitely fearful and terrible being. The language of sin is that God’s displeasure is not worthy that the sinner should regard it. The proper vindication of God from this language is to show, by the experience of the event, the infinite dreadfulness of that slighted displeasure. In such a case, the majesty of God requires this vindication. It cannot be properly vindicated without it, neither can God be just to himself without this vindication, unless there could be such a thing as a repentance, humiliation, and sorrow for this, proportionable to the greatness of the majesty despised. When the majesty of God has such contempt cast upon it, and is trodden down in the dust by vile sinners, it is not fit that this infinite and glorious majesty should be left under this contempt, but that it should be vindicated wholly from it, and that it should be raised perfectly from the dust wherein it is trodden, by something opposite to the contempt, which is equivalent to it, or of weight sufficient to balance it: either an equivalent punishment, or an equivalent sorrow and repentance. So that sin must be punished with an infinite punishment.
Sin casts contempt on the infinite glory and excellency of God. The language of it is that God is not an excellent being, but an odious one, and therefore, that it is no heinous thing to hate him. Now it is fit that on this occasion omniscience should declare and manifest that it judges otherwise, and that it should show that it esteems God infinitely excellent, and therefore, that it looks on it as an infinitely heinous thing, to cast such a reflection on God by infinite tokens of resentment of such a reflection and such hatred.
God is to be considered, in this affair, not merely as the Governor of a world of creatures, to order things between one creature and another, but as the Supreme Regulator and Rector of the universe, the orderer of things relating to the whole compass of existence, including himself. He is to maintain the rights of the whole and decorum through the whole, and to maintain his own rights and the due honor of his own perfections, as well as to preserve justice among his creatures. It is fit that there should be one that has this office, and this office properly belongs to the Supreme Being. And if he should fail of doing justice to himself in a necessary vindication of his own majesty and glory, it would be an immensely greater failure of his rectoral justice than if he should deprive the creatures (that are beings of infinitely less consequence) of their right.
4. There is a necessity of sin’s being punished with a condign punishment, from the law of God that threatens such punishment. All but Epicureans will own that all creatures that are moral agents, are subjects of God’s moral government, and that therefore he has given a law to his creatures, that law must have sanctions, i.e. it must be enforced with threatenings of punishment. Otherwise it fails of having the nature of a law, and is only of the nature of counsel or advice, or rather of a request. For one being to express his inclination or will to another, concerning anything he would receive from him, any love or respect, without any threatening annexed, but leaving it with the person to applied to, whether he will afford it or not, whether he will grant it or not, supposing that his refusal will be with impunity, is properly of the nature of a request. It does not amount to counsel or advice, because when we give counsel to others, it is for their interest. But when we express our desire or will of something we would receive from them, with impunity to them whether they grant it or not, this is more properly requesting than counseling. No doubt it falls far short of the nature of lawgiving. For such an expression of one’s will as this, is an expression of will, without any expression of authority. It holds forth no authority for us merely to manifest our wills or inclinations to another, nor indeed does it exhibit any authority over a person applied to, to promise him rewards. So persons may, and often do, promise rewards to others, for doing those things that they have no power to oblige them to. So may persons do to their equals, and so may a king do to others who are not his subjects. This is rather bargaining with others, than giving them laws.
That expression of will only is a law, which is exhibited in such a manner as to express the lawgiver’s power over the person to whom it is manifested, expressing his power of disposal of him, according as he complies or refuses: that which shows power over him, so as to oblige him to comply, or to make it be to his cost if he refuses.
For the same reason that it is necessary the divine law should have a threatening of condign punishment annexed, it is also necessary that the threatening should be fulfilled. For the threatening wholly relates to the execution. If it had no connection with execution, it would be wholly void and would be as no threatening: and so far as there is not a connection with execution, whether that be in a greater or lesser degree; so far and in such a degree it is void, and so far approaches to the nature of no threatening, as much as if that degree of unconnection was expressed in the threatening. As for instance, if sin fails of threatened punishment half the times, this makes void the threatening in one half of it, and brings it down to be no more than if the threatening had expressed only so much, that sin should be punished half the times that it is committed.
But if it be needful that all sin in every act should be forbidden by law, i.e. with a prohibition and threatening of condign punishment annexed, and that the threatening of sin with condign punishment should be universal, then it is necessary that it should be universally executed. A threatening of an omniscient and true being can be supposed to signify no more punishment than is intended to be executed, and is not necessarily to be understood of any more. A threatening, if it signifies anything, is a signification of some connection betwixt the crime and the punishment. But the threatening of an omniscient being, cannot be understood to signify any more connection with punishment than there is.
If it be needful that there should be a divine law, it is needful that this divine law should be maintained in the nature, life, authority, and strength that is proper to it as a law. The nature, life, authority, and strength of every law, consists in its sanction, by which the deed is connected with the compensation, and therefore depends on the strength and firmness of the connection. In proportion as that connection is weak, in such proportion does the law lose its strength, and fails of the proper nature and power of a law, and degenerates towards the nature of requests and expressions of will and desire to receive love and respect, without being enforced with authority.
Dispensing with the law by the lawgiver, so as not to fulfill it or execute it, in its nature does not differ from an abrogation of it, unless the law contains in itself such a clause, that it shall or may be dispensed with, and not fulfilled in certain cases, or when the lawgiver pleases.
But this would be a contradiction. For if the law contained such a clause, then not to fulfill it would be according to the law, and fulfillment of the law, and therefore there would be no dispensing with the law in it, because it is doing what the law itself directs to. The law may contain clauses of exception, wherein particular cases may be excepted from general rules, but it cannot make provision for a dispensation. And therefore, for the lawgiver to dispense with it, is indeed to abrogate it. Though it may not be an abrogating it wholly, yet it is in some measure changing it. To dispense with the law, in not fulfilling it on him that breaks it, is making the rule give place to the sinner. But certainly it is an indecent thing that sin, which provokes the execution, should procure the abrogation of the law.
The necessity of fulfilling the law, in the sense that has been spoken of, appears from Mat. 5:18, “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, until all be fulfilled.” The words will allow of no other tolerable sense.
It is necessary that the law of God should be maintained and executed, and not dispensed with or abrogated for the sake of the sinner, for the following reasons:
First. The nature and being of the law requires it. For as has been already shown, by such dispensation it loses the life and authority of a law, as it respects the subject. But it does not only fail of being a law in this respect, it fails of being a rule to the Supreme Judge. The law is the great rule of righteousness and decorum, that the Supreme and Universal Rector has established and published, for the regulation of things in the commonwealth of the universality of intelligent beings and moral agents, in all that relates to them as concerned one with another. It is a rule, by which things are not only to be regulated between one subject and another, but between the king and subjects, that it may be a rule of judgment to the one, as well as a rule of duty to the other. It is but reasonable to suppose that such a rule should be established and published for the benefit of all that belong to this universal commonwealth, to be a rule to direct both their actions towards each other, and their expectations from each other, that they may have a fixed and known rule by which they are to act and to be dealt with, to be both active and passive as members of this commonwealth. The subject is most nearly concerned, not only in the measure of his own actions, but also in the consequences of them, or the method of his judge’s determinations concerning him.
None that own the existence of a divine law, with threatenings annexed, can deny that there actually is such a rule as this, that relates both to the manner of the creature’s acting, and also the judge’s acting toward him as subject to that law. For none will deny that the precepts relate to the manner of the subject’s acting, and that the threatenings relate to the manner of the judge’s proceeding with the subject, in consequence of his obedience or disobedience.
It is needful that this great rule for managing affairs in this universal commonwealth, should be fixed and settled, and not be vague and uncertain. So far as it fail of this, it ceased to be of the nature of a rule. For it is essential to the nature of a rule, that it be something fixed. But if it be needful that it be something fixed, then it is needful that the author, and he by whom it subsists, should maintain and fulfill it, and not depart from it, because that is in a measure to disannul it. If he does so, therein the rule becomes unfixed, and it so far ceases to be a rule to the judge.
Second. That the law should be made to give place to the sinner is contrary to the direct design of the law. For the law was made that the subject should be regulated by it and give place to it, and not to be regulated by the subject and to give place to him, especially to a wicked, vile, rebellious subject.
The law is made that it might prevent sin and cause it not to be, and not that sin should disannul the law and cause it not to be. Therefore it would be very indecent for the Supreme Rector to cause this great rule to give place to the rebellion of the sinner.
Third. It is in nowise fit that this great rule should be abrogated and give place to the opposition and violation of the rebellious subject, on account of the perfection of the lawgiver. The holiness of rectitude and goodness of this great rule, which the Supreme Lawgiver has established for the regulation of the commonwealth of moral agents, and its universal fitness and wisdom, and absolute perfection, render a partial abrogation, for the sake of them that dislike it, and will not submit to it, needless and unseemly. If the great rule should be set aside, for the sake of the rebel, it would carry too much of the face of acknowledgment in the lawgiver: of want of wisdom and foresight, or of some defect in point of holiness or righteousness, in his law. He that breaks the law, finds fault with it and casts that reflection on it, that it is not a good law, and if God should in part abrogate the law upon this, it would have too much the appearance of a conceding to the sinner’s objection against it.
But God will magnify his law, and make it honorable, and will give no occasion for any such reflections upon it, nor leave the law under such a reflection.
If this great rule of righteousness be so excellent and good a law, it is not only unfit that it should give place to rebellion, as this would be a dishonor to the excellency of the law and lawgiver, but also a wrong to the public good, which the Supreme Rector of the world has the care, and is the guardian of. If the rule be perfect, perfectly right and just and holy, and with infinite wisdom adapted to the good of the whole, then the public good requires that it be strongly established. The more firmly it is settled and the more strongly it is guarded and defended, the better, and the more is it for the public good. And everything by which it is weakened, is a damage and loss to the commonwealth of beings.
But I have already shown how every departure from it weakens it, unfixes it, and causes it to fail of the nature of a settled rule, and in some measure disannuls it.
Fourth. The sacredness of the authority and majesty of the Divine Lawgiver requires that he should maintain and fulfill his law, when it is violated by a rebellious subject. I have before spoken of the greatness and majesty of his being, and how that is concerned in it. I now would consider the sacredness of his authority, as he stands related to his creatures as their Lawgiver. The majesty of a ruler consists very much in that which appears in him that tends to strike the subject with reverence and awe, and dread of contempt of him, or rebellion against him. And it is fit that this awe and dread should be in proportion to the greatness and dignity of the ruler, and the degree of authority with which he is vested. But this awe and dread is by an apprehension of the terrible consequences, or the degree of the danger of those terrible consequences, or the degree of connection of that rebellion with those consequences. Therefore, if it be meet that this awe or this apprehension should be in proportion to the greatness and dignity of the ruler, then it is fit that the consequences of contempt of the Supreme Ruler of the world should be infinitely terrible, and the danger that it brings of punishment, or connection that it has with it, be strong and certain, and consequently, that the threatenings which enforce his laws should be sure and inviolable. It is fit the authority of a ruler should be sacred proportionally to the greatness of that authority, i.e. in proportion to the greatness of the ruler, and his worthiness of honor and obedience, and the height of his exaltation above us, and the absoluteness of his dominion over us, and the strength of his right to our submission and obedience. But the sacredness of the authority of a sovereign consists in the strength of the enforcement if it, and guard that is about it, i.e. in the consequences of the violation to him that is guilty, and the degree of danger if these consequences. For the authority of a ruler does not consist in the power or influence he has on another by attractives, but coercives. The fence that is about the authority of a prince, that guards it as sacred, is the connection there is between the violations of it and the terrible consequences, or in other words, in the strength of sureness of the threatening. Therefore, if this connection be partly broken, the fence is partly broken: in proportion as the threatenings are weak, the guard is weak. But certainly it is fit that the authority of the infinitely great and absolute Lord of heaven and earth should be infinitely sacred, and a fence without any breach in it. And it is not becoming the sacredness of the majesty and authority of the great ðáíôïêñáôùñ, that that perfectly holy, just, and infinitely wise and good law, which he has established as the great rule for the regulation of all things in the universal commonwealth of beings, should be set aside, to give place to the infinitely unreasonable and vile opposition that sinners make to it, and their horrid and daring rebellion against it.
Fifth. The truth of the lawgiver makes it necessary that the threatening of the law should be fulfilled in every punctilio. The threatening of the law is absolute: Thou shalt surely die. It is true that the obligation does not lie in the claim of the person threatened, as it is in promises, for it is not to be supposed that the person threatened will claim the punishment threatened. And indeed, if we look upon things strictly, those seem to reckon the wrong way that suppose the necessity of the futurity of the execution to arise from an obligation on God in executing, properly consequent on his threatening. For the necessity of the connection of the execution with the threatening, seems to arise directly the other way, viz. from the obligation that was on the omniscient God in threatening, consequent on the futurity of the execution. Though, strictly speaking, he is not obliged to execute because he has threatened, yet he was obliged not absolutely to threaten, if he at the same time knew that he should not and would not execute, because this would not have been consistent with his truth. So that from the truth of God, there is an inviolable connection between absolute threatening and execution, not so properly from an obligation on God to conform the execution to the past absolute threatening, as from his obligation to conform his absolute threatening to the future execution. This God was absolutely obliged to do, as he would speak the truth. For if God absolutely threatened contrary to what he knew would come to pass, then he absolutely threatened contrary to what he knew to be truth. And how any can speak contrary to what they know to be the truth, in declaring, promising, or threatening, or any other way, consistently with perfect and inviolable truth, I cannot conceive. Threatenings are significations of something, and if they are made consistent with truth, or are true significations of anything, they are significations of truth, or significations of that which is true. If absolute threatenings are significations of anything, they are significations of the futurity of the thing threatened. But if the futurity of the thing threatened is not true, then how can the threatenings be true significations? And if God in them speaks contrary to what he knows and contrary to what he intends, then how he can speak true is to me inconceivable. It is with absolute threatenings, as it is with predictions. When God has foretold something that shall come to pass hereafter, which does not concern our interest, and so is of the nature neither of a promise nor threatening, there is a necessary connection betwixt the prediction and the fulfillment, but not by virtue of any claim we have to make, and so not properly by virtue of any obligation to fulfill, consequent on the prediction, but by virtue of any obligation on an omniscient Being in predicting, consequent on what he knew he would fulfill: an obligation to conform the prediction to the future event. It is as much against the veracity of God, absolutely to threaten what he knows he will not accomplish, as to predict what he knows he will not accomplish, for to do either, would be to declare that that will be, which he at the same time does not intend shall be. Absolute threatenings are a sort of predictions. God in them foretells or declares what shall come to pass. They do not differ from mere predictions, in the nature of the declaration or foretelling, but partly in the thing declared or foretold, being an evil to come upon us, and a mere prediction being of a thing different, and partly in the end of foretelling. In a threatening, the end of foretelling is to deter us from sinning. and predictions of things indifferent are for some other end. Absolute threatenings are God’s declarations of something future, and the truth of God does as much oblige him to keep the truth in declarations of what is future, as of what is past or present. For things past, present, and future, are all alike before God — all alike in his view. And when God declares to others what he sees himself, he is equally obliged to truth, whether the thing declared be past, present, or to come. And, indeed, there is no need of the distinction between present truth and future, in this case. For if any of God’s absolute threatenings are not to be fulfilled, those threatenings are declarations or revelations contrary, not only to future truth, but such a threatening is a revelation of the futurition of a punishment. That futurition is now present with God, when threatens: — present in his mind, his knowledge. And if he signifies that a thing is future, which he knows not to be future, then the signification he gives is contrary to present truth, even contrary to what God now knows is future. Again, an absolute threatening is a signification of the present intention of him that threatens, and therefore, if he threatens what he does not intend to fulfill, then he signifies an intention to be, which is not, and so the threatening is contrary to the present truth. God’s absolute threatenings are a revelation to his subjects, of the appointed measures of their Judge’s proceeding with respect to their breaches of his law. And if they do not reveal what is indeed the intended method of the Judge’s proceeding, then it is not a true revelation.
There is a necessity of the fulfillment of God’s absolute promises both ways; viz. both by an obligation on God to foretell or declare, or foredeclare the future benefit, according to what he foresaw would be and he intended should be, and also be an obligation on him to fulfill his promise consequent on his predicting, and by virtue of the claim of the person to whom the promise was made.
And there is also an obligation on God to fulfill his absolute threatenings consequent on his threatenings, indirectly, by virtue of many ill and undesirable consequences of the event’s being, beside the certain dependence or certain expectations raised by God’s threatenings, in the persons threatened, and others that are spectators, which consequences God may be obliged not to be a cause of. But threatenings do not properly bring an obligation on God that is consequent on them as threatenings, as it is with promises.
As to those threatenings that are not positive or absolute, they are not necessarily followed with the punishment mentioned in them, because the possibility of escaping the punishment is either expressed or understood in the threatening. But the divine truth makes it necessary that there should be a certain connection between them, that as much punishment be inflicted as is signified by them. If certain suffering be not signified by them, then there is no necessary connection between them and certain suffering. If it be only signified in them that there is great danger of the suffering, according to God’s ordinary method of dealing with men, and that therefore, they, as they would act rationally, have great reason to fear it, seeing that God does not see cause to reveal what he will do to them: if this be all that is really contained and understood in the threatening, then this is all that the threatening is connected with. Or if the proper meaning of the threatening be, that such suffering shall come, unless they repent, and this be all that can be fairly understood, then the truth of God makes no more necessary. But God’s truth makes a necessary connection between every threatening and every promise, and all that is properly signified in that threatening or promise.
As to any objection that may be made against the force of the foregoing arguments from the practice of all, and even the wisest of human legislators, their dispensing with their own laws and forbearing to execute them and pardoning offenders, without anyone’s being made to suffer in their stead: — the case is vastly different in the Supreme Lawgiver and subordinate lawgivers, and in the Supreme Judge and subordinate judges. The case is vastly different in them that give rules only to a certain small part of the commonwealth of moral agents and with relation only to some few of their concerns (and for a little while), in lawgivers that are weak and fallible and very imperfect in the exercises of a limited, subordinate, and infinitely inferior authority: — from what is in him, who is the great, infinitely wise, omniscient, holy, and absolutely perfect Rector of all, to whom it belongs to establish a rule for the regulation of the whole university of beings, throughout all eternity, in all that concerns them in the exercise of an infinitely strong right of supreme, absolute dominion and sovereignty. The laws of men may be dispensed with, who cannot foresee all cases that may happen, and if they could, have not both the laws and the state of the subject perfectly at their own disposal, so that it is possible for them universally and perfectly to suit one to the other. And moreover, there is a superior law, i.e. the divine law, that all are subject to, and a superior tribunal, to which all are obnoxious, to which inferior tribunals when the exigency of affairs, or anything extraordinary in the case, requires it, may refer offenders, dispensing with inferior subordinate laws made by men. But there is no wise and good law, but that care should be taken that it ordinarily be put in execution, and the nearer any human law approaches to the supreme or divine law in perfection, and in extent of jurisdiction, the more care should be taken of its execution: the wisdom of nations teaches this. And besides, persons’ repentance may be proportionable and answerable, at least in some measure, to offenses against men. And as to the public truth which is to be upheld in execution of the threatenings of human laws, there ought to be great care to uphold it, according to the true intent and meaning of those threatenings. If all that is meant by them, and all that, by the very nature of the public constitution (that is the foundation on which all their laws stand), is to be understood by those threatenings, is that the punishment shall be inflicted, excepting when the exigence of the public requires otherwise, or when the pleasure of the prince is otherwise: — then the public truth obliges to no more, and this being done, the public truth is maintained.
798. If the threatening of death be not executed, the devil’s horrid suggestion, and our first parents’ wise suspicion, will be verified and fulfilled; viz. that God said otherwise than what he knew, when he threatened, Thou shalt surely die.
846. Christ’s Satisfaction vs. Merit. The satisfaction of Christ, by suffering the punishment of sin, is properly to be distinguished, as being in its own nature different from the merit of Christ. For merit is only some excellency or worth. But when we consider Christ’s sufferings merely as the satisfaction for the guilt of another, the excellency of Christ’s act in suffering does not all come into consideration; but only those two things, viz. 1. Their equality or equivalence to the punishment that the sinner deserved. 2. The union between him and them, or the propriety of his being accepted in suffering, as the representative of the sinner. Christ’s bearing our punishment for us, is not properly meriting that we should not bear it, any more than if it had been possible for us ourselves to have borne it all, that would have been meriting that we should not be punished any more. Christ’s sufferings do not satisfy by any excellency in them, but by a fulfillment. To satisfy by a fulfillment, and to satisfy by worthiness or excellency in them, are different things. If the law be fulfilled, there is no need of any excellency or merit to satisfy it, because it is satisfied by taking place and having its course. Indeed, how far the dignity or worthiness of Christ’s person comes into consideration, in determining the propriety of his being accepted as a representative of sinners, so that his suffering, when equivalent, can be accepted as theirs, may be matter of question and debate. But it is a matter entirely foreign to the present purpose.
912. Man’s Pardon Requires Atonement. That God should all along require sacrifices in his church, and that something should be done by all that came near to him and worshipped him, or appeared in his presence to make atonement for their sins; insomuch that sacrificing was obtained throughout the world in all nations and ages; and that such a multitude of sacrifices should be appointed; that sacrifices should be offered so continually and on so many occasions and joined with all their public worship: — This all was a plain testimony of God, that a real atonement or satisfaction to his justice was necessary, and that God did not design that in his manner of dealing with mankind, men should be pardoned and accepted without atonement. And if there was nothing of true and real atonement and sacrifice, in those beasts that were offered, then doubtless they were an evidence that there was to be some other greater sacrifice, that was to be a proper atonement or satisfaction, of which they were only the presage and signs: as those symbolical actions which God sometimes commanded the prophets to perform were signs and presages of great events which they foretold.
God abundantly testified by the sacrifices from the beginning of the world, that an atonement for sin was necessary and must be insisted on in order to his acceptance of the sinner. This proves that a sacrifice of infinite value was necessary, and that God would accept of no other.
For an atonement that bears no proportion to the offense is no atonement. An atonement carries in it a payment or satisfaction in the very notion of it. And if satisfaction was so little necessary, that the Divine Majesty easily admitted one that bears no proportion at all to the offense, i.e. was wholly equivalent to nothing when compared with the offense and so was no payment or satisfaction at all, then he might have forgiven sin without any atonement. And then an atonement could not be so greatly to be insisted upon, as is represented by all the prodigious expense and labor, and multitude of services, and ceremonies, and so great an apparatus, and so great pomp, which with so much exactness were prescribed to be continued through so many ages, respecting their typical sacrifices and atonements, and from God’s church were propagated through the world of mankind.
That no mere creature could offer to God that true sacrifice of real atonement, of which the Old Testament sacrifices were resemblances or shadows, is evident by the Old Testament. For by the Old Testament it is evident that that is not sufficient to be looked upon by God as any real atonement or sacrifice for sin, which is God’s before it is offered to him. In the fiftieth Psalm we have a prophecy of Christ’s coming to set up his kingdom in the world. There it is said in the 5th and following verses, “Gather my saints together unto me: those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice” (where we may observe that the necessity of sacrifices is implied). “And the heavens shall declare his righteousness; for God is judge himself. Selah. Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, and I will testify against thee: I am God, even thy God. I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices, or thy burnt-offerings, to have been continually before me. I will take no bullock out of thy house, nor he-goats out of thy folds. For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains, and the wild beasts of the field are mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell thee; for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof.” But no mere creature can have anything to offer to God which is not his already: for all that he has is God’s gift to him.
915. The Devil and Punishment for Sin. “Had God violated his Word in the threatening of death for sin, he had justified the devil in his arguments for man’s rebellion. The devil’s argument is a plain contradiction to God’s threatening. God affirms the certainty of death; the devil affirms the certainty of life. Gen. 3:4, ‘Ye shall not surely die.’ Had no punishment been inflicted, the devil had not been a liar from the beginning. God would have honored the tempter, and justified the charge he brought against him, and owned that envy the devil accused him of, and thereby have rendered the devil the fittest object for love and trust. As the devil charged God with a lie, so, had no punishment been inflicted, God would have condemned himself and declared Satan, instead of a lying tempter, to be the truest counselor. He had exposed himself to contempt, and advanced the credit of his enemy, and so set up the devil as God instead of himself. It concerned God therefore to manifest himself true, and the devil a liar, and acquaint the world, that not himself, but the evil spirit, was their deceiver; and that he meant as he spoke.” Charnock, vol. 2, p. 924.
1005. How Christ Could Bear the Wrath of God. Christ suffered the wrath of God for men’s sins in such a way as he was capable of, being an infinitely holy person, who knew that God was not angry with him personally, knew that God did not hate him, but infinitely loved him. The wicked in hell will suffer the wrath of God, as they will have the sense, and knowledge, and sight of God’s infinite displeasure toward them and hatred of them. But this was impossible in Jesus Christ. Christ therefore could bear the wrath of God in no other but these two ways.
I. In having a great and clear sight of the infinite wrath of God against the sin of men, and the punishment they had deserved. This it was most fit that he should have, at the time when he was suffering their stead, and paying their ransom to deliver them from that wrath and punishment. That he might know what he did, that he might act with full understanding at the time when he made expiation and paid a ransom for sinners to redeem them from hell. First. It was requisite that at that time he should have a clear sight of two things, viz. of the dreadful evil and odiousness of that sin that he suffered for; that he might know how much it deserved the punishment; that it might be real and actual grace in him; and that he undertook and suffered such things for those that were so unworthy and so hateful, which it could not be, if he did not know how unworthy they were. Second. It was requisite he should have a clear sight of the dreadfulness of the punishment that he suffered to deliver them from. Otherwise he would not know how great a benefit he vouchsafed them in redeeming them from this punishment, and so it could not be actual grace in him to bestow so great a benefit upon them: as in the time that he bestowed, he would not have known how much he bestowed, and he would have acted blindfold in giving so much. Therefore Christ, doubtless, actually had a clear view of both those things in the time of his last suffering: everything in the circumstances of his last suffering concurred to give him a great and full sight of the former, viz. the evil and hateful nature of the sin of man. For its odious and malignant nature never appeared so much in its own proper colors, as it did in that act of murdering the Son of God, and in exercising such contempt and cruelty towards him. Likewise, everything in the circumstances of his last sufferings tended to give him a striking view of the dreadful punishment of sin. The sight of the evil of sin tended to this, and so did the enduring of temporal death, that is a great image of eternal death, especially under such circumstances: with such extreme pain, God’s hiding his face, his dying a death that by God’s appointment was an accursed death, having a sight of the malice and triumph of devils, and being forsaken of his friends, etc. As God ordered external circumstances to help forward this purpose, so there is all reason to think that his own influences on Christ’s mind were agreeable hereto, his spirit acting with his providence to give him a full view of these things. Now the clear view of each of these must of necessity be inexpressibly terrible to the man Christ Jesus. His having so clear an actual view of sin and its hatefulness, was an idea infinitely disagreeable to the holy nature of Christ, and therefore, unless balanced with an equal sight of good that comes by this evil, must have been an immensely disagreeable sensation in Christ’s soul, or which is the same thing: immense suffering. But that equally clear idea of good, to counterbalance the evil of sin, was not given at that time, because God forsook Christ, and hid himself from him, and withheld comfortable influences or the clear ideas of pleasant objects. Thus, Christ bare our sins. God laid on him the iniquities of us all, and he bare the burden of them, and so his bearing the burden of our sins may be considered as something diverse from his suffering God’s wrath. For his suffering wrath consisted more in the sense he had of the other thing, viz. the dreadfulness of the punishment of sin, or the dreadfulness of God’s wrath inflicted for it. Thus, Christ was tormented not only in the fire of God’s wrath, but in the fire of our sins, and our sins were his tormentors. The evil and malignant nature of sin was what Christ endured immediately, as well as more remotely, in bearing the consequences of it.
Thus Christ suffered that which the damned in hell do not suffer. For they do not see the hateful nature of sin. They have no idea of sin in itself, that is infinitely disagreeable to their nature, as the idea of sin was to Christ’s holy nature, though conscience in them be awakened to behold the dreadful guilt and desert of sin. And as the clear view of sin in its hatefulness necessarily brought great suffering on the holy soul of Christ, so also did the view of its punishment. For both the evil of sin and the evil of punishment are infinite evils, and both infinitely disagreeable to Christ’s nature: the former to his holy nature or his nature as God, the latter to his human nature or his nature as man. Such is human nature, that a great, clear, and full idea of suffering, without some other pleasant and sweet idea to balance it, brings suffering, as appears from the nature of all spiritual ideas. They are repetitions (in a degree at least) of the things themselves of which they are ideas. Therefore, if Christ had a perfectly clear and full idea of what the damned suffer in hell, the suffering he would have had in the mere presence of that idea, would have been perfectly equal to the thing itself, that is, if there had been no idea in Christ in any degree to balance it: such as some knowledge of the love of God, of a future reward, future salvation of his elect, etc. But pleasant ideas in this clearness being in a great measure withholden by reason of God’s hiding his face, hence the awful ideas of eternal death which his elect people deserved, and of the dismal wrath of God, of consequence filled the soul of Christ with an inexpressible gloom.
Though Christ knew the love of God to him, and knew he should be successful in his sufferings, yet when God forsook him, those dismal views, those gloomy ideas, so fixed and swallowed up his mind that though he had the habitual knowledge of those other objects, yet he could not attend to them. He could have comparatively but little comfort and support from them, for they could afford support no farther than they were attended to, or were in actual view.
Christ’s great love and pity to the elect (that his offering up himself on the cross was the greatest act and fruit of, and consequently which he was then in the highest exercise of) was one source of his suffering. A strong exercise of love excites a lively idea of the object beloved. And a strong exercise of pity excites a lively idea of the misery under which he pities them. Christ’s love then brought his elect infinitely near to him in that great act and suffering wherein he especially stood for them, and was substituted in their stead. And his love and pity fixed the idea of them in his mind, as if he had really been they and fixed their calamity in his mind, as though it really was his. A very strong and lively love and pity towards the miserable tends to make their case ours, as in other respects, so in this in particular, as it does in our idea place us in their stead, under their misery, with a most lively feeling sense of that misery, as it were feeling it for them and actually suffering it in their stead by strong sympathy.
Corollary. 1. Hence we may see how the same thing, the same ideas that distressed the soul of Christ and brought on his amazing sufferings, engaged him to go through them. It was ordered that the bitterness of the cup, though exceedingly dreadful, was of that nature, or consisted in that: that the tasting of that bitterness was the thing that engaged him to go on to drink up the cup, and that as the bitterness of it arose from each of the aforementioned things. (1.) As it arose from the clear idea he had then given him of the infinitely hateful and dreadful nature of sin. The more lively this idea was, the more dreadful was it to the soul of Christ. And yet, the more lively his idea of the hatefulness and dreadfulness of sin was, which consist in disobedience to God, the more did it engage him not to disobey, himself, that great command he had received of his Father, viz. That he should drink this cup, and go through those sufferings.
The more he had a sense how dreadful it is to contemn the authority of God and to dishonor his holy name, the more would he be engaged to remove and abolish this dishonor and to honor the authority of God himself. The more he had a sense of what an odious and dreadful thing sin was, the more would his heart be engaged to do and suffer what was necessary to take away this dreadful and odious thing from those his heart was united to in love, viz. those that the Father had given him. (2.) It was the lively exercise of love and pity to those that the Father had given him, that was one thing that occasioned so lively a view of the punishment they had exposed themselves to, whereby his soul was filled with a dismal sense, and so he suffered. But this lively love and pity at the same time engaged him to suffer for them, to deliver them from their deserved punishment that he had an idea of. And as pity towards his elect excited a lively idea of their misery: so, on the other hand, the increase of his idea of their misery excited strong exercises of pity, and this pity engaged him still to endure those sufferings in their stead.
Corollary. 2. From what has been said, we may learn how Christ was sanctified in his last sufferings. The suffering of his soul in great part consisted in the great and dreadful sense and idea that he then had given him of the dreadful horrid odiousness of sin, which was done by the Spirit of God. But this could not be without a proportionable increase of his aversion to and hatred of sin, and consequently of his inclination to the contrary, which is the same thing as an increase of the holiness of his nature. Beside the immediate sight he had given him of the odious nature of sin, he had that strong sense and that great experience of the bitter fruit and consequences of sin, to confirm his enmity to it. Moreover he was then in the exercise of his highest act of obedience or holiness, which, tending to increase the principle, the bringing forth of such great and abundant fruit, tended to strengthen and increase the root. Those last sufferings of Christ, were in some respect like a fire to refine the gold. For though the furnace purged away no dross or filthiness, yet it increased the preciousness of the gold; it added to the finite holiness of the human nature of Christ. Hence Christ calls his offering himself up, his sanctifying himself. John 17:19, “And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also may be sanctified through the truth.” Hence he calls those last sufferings a baptism that he was to be baptized with. It was a baptism to him in two respects, as it purged him from imputed guilt, and as it increased his holiness by the Spirit of God, that gave him those terrible but sanctifying views. And so this is one way in which the captain of our salvation is made perfect by sufferings: Heb. 2:10, and Heb. 5:9, and Luke 13:32. Thus Christ, before he was glorified, was prepared for that high degree of glory and joy he was to be exalted to, by being first sanctified in the furnace.
II. Another way in which it was possible that Christ should endure the wrath of God was to endure the effects of that wrath. All that he suffered was by the special ordering of God. There was a very visible hand of God, in letting men and devils loose upon him at such a rate, and in separating from him his own disciples. Thus it pleased the Father to bruise him and put him to grief. God dealt with him as if he had been exceedingly angry with him, and as though he had been the object of his dreadful wrath. This made all the sufferings of Christ the more terrible to him, because they were from the hand of his Father, whom he infinitely loved, and whose infinite love he had had eternal experience of. Besides, it was an effect of God’s wrath, that he forsook Christ. This caused Christ to cry out once and again, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” This was infinitely terrible to Christ. Christ’s knowledge of the glory of the Father, and his love to the Father, and the sense and experience he had had of the worth of the Father’s love to him, made the withholding the pleasant ideas and manifestations of his Father’s love as terrible to him, as the sense and knowledge of his hatred is to the damned, that have no knowledge of God’s excellency, no love to him, nor any experience of the infinite sweetness of his love.
It was a special fruit of the wrath of God against our sins, that he let loose upon Christ the devil, who has the power of death, is God’s executioner, and the roaring lion that devours the damned in hell. Christ was given up to the devil as his captive for a season. This antitype of Jonah was thrown to this great leviathan, to be swallowed up as his prey. The time of Christ’s suffering, was the time of the prevalency of the power of the devil, wherein Christ was delivered up to that power, as implied in Luke 22:53. “When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness.” And therefore, when Christ’s last sufferings were approaching, Christ said, John 14:30, “The prince of this world cometh.” He was let loose to torment the soul of Christ with gloomy and dismal ideas. He probably did his utmost to contribute to raise his ideas of the torments of hell.
1035. Our Sin Imputed to Christ. That Christ indeed suffered the full punishment of the sin that was imputed to him, or offered that to God that was fully and completely equivalent to what we owed to divine justice for our sins, is evident by Psalm 69:5. “Oh God, thou knowest my foolishness, and my sins” (my guiltiness it is in the Hebrew) “are not hid from thee.” That the person that is the subject of this Psalm and that is here speaking is the Messiah, is evident from many places in the New Testament, in which it is applied to Christ: as John 15:25; John 2:17; Rom. 15:3; 2 Cor. 6:2; John 19:28-30 with Mat. 27:34, 48; Mark 15:23; Rom. 11:9-10, Acts 1:20. And by the Psalm itself, especially when compared with other Psalms and prophecies of the Old Testament, it is plain that David, in this Psalm, did not speak in his own name, but in the name of the Messiah. — See Of the Prophecies of the Messiah, in a succeeding part of this volume.
But if it be the Messiah that is here speaking, then by the sin and guiltiness that he here speaks of, must be intended not sin that he himself committed, but that sin that was laid upon him, or that he took upon him, spoken of Isaiah 53. And when Christ says, “O God, thou knowest my foolishness, and my guiltiness is not hid from thee;” thereby must be meant that God did not forgive that which was imputed to him, but punished it. When God forgives sin and does not execute punishment for it, then he is said not to behold iniquity, nor see perverseness, and to cover, hide, and bury their sins, so that they cannot be seen or found, and to turn away his face from beholding them, and not to remember them any more. But when God does not remit sin, but punishes it, then in the language of the Old Testament, he is said to find out their sins, to set them before him in the light of his countenance, to remember them, to bring them to remembrance, and to know them. And therefore, when it is said here, “O God, thou hast known my foolishness, and my guiltiness hast thou not hid;” thereby is intended that he forgives nothing to the Messiah, but beholds all his guiltiness by imputed sin, has set all in the light of his countenance, and does not cover or hide the least part of it.
1076. Satisfaction for Sin must be complete. God declares that those sinners that are not forgiven, shall pay the uttermost farthing and the last mite, and that all the debt shall be exacted of them, etc. Now it seems unreasonable to suppose that God, in case of a surety and of his insisting on an atonement made by him, will show mercy, by releasing the surety without a full atonement, any more than that he will show mercy to the sinner that is punished, by not insisting on the complete punishment.
1145. Christ’s Glory Through Humiliation. Christ’s knowing his own infinite dignity and glory, and having it in view in the time of his humiliation, is mentioned as a circumstance that is important and of great consequence in that humiliation. John 13:3, 4, “Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God,” etc.
1173. Interpretation of Doctrinal Expressions. “Those expressions of the apostle [concerning Christ’s satisfaction and righteousness, and the operations of the Spirit] are to be understood in the common sense and meaning of the words, and not as far-fetched metaphors. For it is evident that in all this he does not affect the arts of oratory, nor assume a magnificent air of writing, nor does he raise himself into sublimity of style, nor rant in an enthusiastic manner, when he treats of these subjects. But while he is explaining to us these great things of the gospel, he avoids the wisdom of words and oratory, and he talks in a plain, rational, argumentative method, to inform the minds of men, and give them the clearest knowledge of the truth.” Watts’s Orthodoxy and Charity.
1212. The Necessity of God’s Punishment of Sin. [Texts taken from Rawlin on Justification, which show that the holiness and justice of God insist on sin’s being punished.] Lev. 10:3, “Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the Lord spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified.” Psa. 11:6-7, “Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire, and brimstone, and a horrible tempest; this shall be the portion of their cup. For the righteous Lord loveth righteousness: his countenance doth behold the upright.” Exo. 34:7, “Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, and transgression, and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.” Job 34:10-11, “Therefore hearken unto me, ye men of understanding. Far be it from God that he should do wickedness, and from the Almighty that he should commit iniquity. For the work of a man shall he render unto him, and cause every man to find according to his ways.” Job 10:14, “If I sin, then thou makest me, and thou wilt not acquit me from mine iniquity.” Chapter 7:20, “I have sinned, what shall I do unto thee, O thou preserver of men? Why hast thou set me as a mark against thee, so that I am a burden to myself?” Jos. 24:19, “And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the Lord; for he is a holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.”
1214. God’s “Obligation” to Punish Sin. It is said that God is not obliged to fulfill his threatenings of punishment of sin. — Not to dispute about the import of the word obliged, let it be considered, whether it is not fit that God should fulfill his threatenings. If any answer no, then I would inquire further, whether the fitness of things does not require that God should pay some regard to his threatenings that belong to his law as its sanction; whether the law with its sanctions be not published or exhibited, that his subjects may view it as a rule of proceeding between the Lawgiver and his subjects; and whether it can have the influence intended, or indeed any significancy, if it be not understood as such in some measure. Therefore, if it be not fit that God should act impertinently and insignificantly, it surely is fit that some regard should be paid to the law, not only in the actions of the subject, but also in the proceedings of the Judge. And if it be fit that some regard should be paid to it, how great a regard? If the rule may be set aside and departed from in one instance, why not in two? and why not in four? where are the limits? The threatenings are no farther sanctions than they are supposed to be declarations of truth. Therefore is it not fit that the threatenings of the law should be neglected. Truth is a thing which should always attend them in an inviolable manner. If God has reserved to himself the liberty of departing from the rule at his pleasure, without any signification, beforehand, or any reason given to determine what his pleasure will be, then how can the subject know but that he will always depart from it?
1217. The Dignity of Christ’s Sufferings. “It were (as an excellent writer has expressed it) manifestly more honorable and worthy of God, not to have exacted any recompense at all, than to have accepted, in the name of a sacrifice, such as were unproportionable, and beneath the value of what was to be remitted and conferred. What had been lower, must have been infinitely lower. Let anything be supposed less than God, and it falls immensely short of him. Such is the distance between created being and uncreated, that the former is as nothing to the latter. And therefore, bring the honor and majesty of the Deity to anything less than an equal value, and you bring it to nothing. And this had been quite to lose the design of insisting upon a recompense: it had been to make the majesty of heaven cheap, and depreciate the dignity of the divine government, instead of rendering it august and great.” Rawlin on Justification, p. 104, 105.
1232. The Dignity of Christ’s Sufferings. “Besides the dignity of Christ’s sufferings directly arising from the dignity of his person, there is another consideration, by which the value of our Savior’s sufferings ought to be estimated. As an indignity is always rated by the presumption, and as the presumption bears an exact proportion to the meanness of the person insulting, and to the greatness of the party insulted. So, in like manner, all acts of condescension are estimated by the humility, and that again by the dignity, of the condescending person, and by the lowness and demerit of the party condescended to.” Deism Revealed, edit. 2. vol. I. p. 252, 253.
1295. The Inviolable Law of God. Late philosophers seem ready enough to own the great importance of God’s maintaining steady and inviolable the laws of the natural world. It may be worthy to be considered, whether it is not of as great or greater importance, that the law of God, that great rule of righteousness between the supreme moral Governor and his subjects, should be maintained inviolate.
1352. The Substitutionary Atonement. The apostle when he would express his willingness to be made a sacrifice for his brethren the Jews, says, “I could wish myself accursed from Christ for my brethren:” Rom. 9:3. See concerning Moses, Exo. 32:32; 2 Sam. 18:33, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would God I had died for thee.” This text expresses substitution; Mat. 20:28, “To give his life a ransom for many.” Concerning this text, and the force of the preposition áíôé, see Moncrief’s Review and Examination of the Principles of Campbell, p. 113, 114.
The laying of hands on the head of the sacrifice, was a token of putting the guilt of sin upon a person, agreeably to the customary signification of the imputation of guilt among the Hebrews. Thus the phrase, his blood shall be upon his own head, or on our heads, etc. was a phrase for the imputation of guilt of blood. So Jos. 2:19; 1 Kin. 2:32- 33, “And the Lord shall return his blood upon his own head, who fell upon two men more righteous and better than he, and slew them with the sword, my father David not knowing thereof, to wit, Abner the son of Ner, captain of the host of Israel, and Amasa the son of Jether, captain of the host of Judah. Their blood shall therefore return upon the head of Joab, and upon the seed, and upon his house, and upon his throne, shall there be peace for ever from the Lord.” 1 Kin. 2:37, “For it shall be, that on the day thou goest out and passest over the brook Kidron, thou shalt know for certain that thou shalt surely die; thy blood shall be upon thine own head.” Verse 44, “The king said moreover to Shimei, Thou knowest all the wickedness which thine heart is privy to, that thou didst to David my father; therefore the Lord shall return thy wickedness upon thine own head.”
Abigail, when mediating between David and Nabal, when the former was provoked to wrath against the latter and had determined to destroy him, 1 Sam. 25:24, “fell at David’s feet and said, Upon me let this iniquity be, and let thy handmaid, I pray thee, speak in thy audience, and hear the voice of thy handmaid.” And in verse 28, she calls Nabal’s iniquity her iniquity. By this it appears that a mediator’s putting herself in the stead of the offender, so that the offended party should impute the offense to him and look on the mediator as having taken it upon him, looking on him as the debtor for what satisfaction should be required and expected, was in those days no strange notion, or considered as a thing in itself absurd and inconsistent with men’s natural notion of things.
Heb. 12:24-26, “And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaketh better things than that of Abel. See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escape not who refused him that spake on earth; much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: whose voice then shook the earth. But now he has promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, etc.
He that speaks, whom the apostle warns us not to refuse, who spoke once on earth, and whose voice shook the earth, and who now speaks from heaven, and his voice shakes not only the earth but heaven, is he that is spoken of, Heb. 12:24, Jesus the mediator, etc. whose blood speaketh. The word îñçìáôéæù signifies to speak divine oracles, and in Scripture is applied to God alone. When it is said he spoke on earth, respect is had to God’s giving the law at mount Sinai, when his voice shook the earth. It is plain it was not the voice of Moses, or any created angel that is intended, by the whole history of the affair in Exodus. The people made great preparation to meet with God: God descended on the mount: he was there in the midst of angels. Psa. 68:17, “From his right hand went the fiery law.” Deu. 33:2. And in giving the law he says, “I am the Lord thy God,” etc. He that in the book of Hag. 2:6-7, which the apostle refers to, says, “Yet once more I shake the heaven and earth,” is God. See Owen in loc. P. 273, 274, 278.
Christ is often represented as bearing our sins for us: Isa. 53:4, “Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.” Verse 11, “For he shall bear their iniquities.” Isa. 53:12, “He bare the sin of many.” And with an evident reference to this last place, the apostle says, Heb. 9:28, “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many: and to them that look for him, he shall appear the second time, without sin unto salvation.” And with a plain reference to verses 4, 5, of this 53d chapter of Isaiah, the apostle Peter says, 1 Pet. 2:24, “Who his ownself bare our sins in his own body on the tree.”
The word translated here in Isa. 53:4 and verse 12 is the same word, and the same phrase, of bearing sin and bearing iniquity, is often used concerning things which are the types of Christ’s priesthood and sacrifice, viz. the Levitical priests and sacrifices. It was no uncommon phrase, but usual, and well understood among the Jews, and we find it very often used in other cases and applied to others besides either Christ or the types of him. And when it is so, it is plain that the general meaning of the phrase is: lying under the guilt of sin, having it imputed and charged upon the person, as obnoxious to the punishment of it, or obliged to answer and make satisfaction for it, or liable to the calamities and miseries to which it exposes. In such a manner it seems always to be used, unless in some few places it signifies to take away sin by forgiveness. See Dr. Owen on Heb. 9:28 and Pool’s Synopsis on Isaiah 53. And concerning their laying their hands on the head of the sacrifice, see also Pool’s Synopsis on Lev. 1:4.
That God in the instituted ceremonies concerning the scapegoat, and the other goat that was sacrificed for a sin offering, intended that there should be a representation of laying the guilt of sin on those goats; see Pool’s Synopsis on Lev. 16:21, 22, 28. — It was an evidence that the two goats were to appear as if they were made sinful with the sins of the people or unclean with their uncleanness (or guilty with their guilt), in that he that brought the one and he that let go the other were both unclean, and were therefore to wash themselves with water, etc. Lev. 16:26, 28.
The translation of guilt or obligation to punishment was not a thing alien from men’s conceptions and notions of old in scripture times, neither the times of the Old Testament nor New, as appears by what the woman of Tekoa says, 2 Sam. 14:9, “My lord, O king, the iniquity be on me and on my father’s house, and the king and his throne be guiltless.” And by what the Jews said, when Pilate said of Christ, “I am innocent of the blood of this just person, see ye to it;” Mat. 27:24-25, “His blood be on us and on our children.” And the words of Rebekah, when Jacob objected against doing as she proposed, that he should bring a curse on himself and not a blessing; Gen. 27:13, “On me be thy curse, my son, only obey my voice.”
1 Cor. 15:17, “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins,” plainly shows how necessary it was that there should be something more than reformation, which was plainly in fact wrought, in order to their being delivered from their sins, even that atonement, the sufficiency of which God attested by raising our Great Surety from the grave.” —Doddridge in loc.
Definition. 1. By merit in this discourse, I mean anything whatsoever in any person or being, or about him or belonging to him, which appearing in the view of another is a recommendation of him to that other’s regard, esteem or affection. I do not at present take into consideration, whether that which thus recommends be real merit, or something that truly, according to the nature of things, is worthy to induce esteem, etc. but only what actually recommends and appears worthy in the eye of him to whom it recommends the other: which is the case of everything that is actually the ground of respect or affection in one towards another, whether the ground be real worth, or only agreement in temper, benefits received, near relation, long acquaintance, etc. etc. Whatever it be that is by the respecting person viewed in the person respected, that actually has influence and is effectual to recommend to respect, is merit or worthiness of respect or fitness for it in his eyes.
Definition. 2. By patron, I mean a person of superior dignity or merit, that stands for and espouses the interest of another, interposes between him and a third person or party, in that capacity to maintain, secure, or promote the interest of that other, by his influence with the third person, improving his merit with him, or interest in his esteem and regard for that end. And by client, I mean that other person whose interest the patron thus espouses, and in this manner endeavors to maintain and promote.
Having explained how I use these terms, I would now observe the following things:
1.It is not unreasonable or against nature, or without foundation in the reason and nature of things, that respect should be shown to one on account of his relation to, or union and connection with, another, or (which is the same thing) that a person should be thought the proper object of respect or regard, viewed in that relation or connection, which he is not the proper object of, viewed as by himself singly and separately, or (which is still the same thing) that a person should be thought worthy of respect, or meriting respect, on the account of the merit of the other person whom he stands related to, which he would not merit viewed by himself, taking word here as it has been explained.
2. Whenever one is thus viewed, as having a merit of respect on the account of the merit of another that he stands related to, who has not that merit considered by himself, the merit of the person he is related to is imputed to him, and these persons so far are substituted the one in the place of the other. This is plain, for the person now accepted as having merit of respect, has not that merit in himself considered alone, but only as related to another that has merit in himself, and so is respected for the sake of the merit of that other, which is the very same things as in our view or consideration: transferring that merit from that other person to him, and viewing it in him as his merit, or merit that he is interested in, merit whose recommending influence becomes his in some degree. So that in all such cases there is an imputation and substitution in some degree. The merit of the one becomes the merit of the other in some degree, or in other words, the recommending property, virtue, and influence of the one, becomes the recommending influence of the other, or influence that prevails to recommend the other, which is the same thing. Thus it is, when anyone respects a near relation, or a child, or the spouse of a friend that is very dear and greatly esteemed for such a friend’s sake, or shows the relative or friend greater regard, seeks his welfare more, and shows him more kindness, than he would do if he were viewed out of such a relation or connection, and entirely by himself.
Thus it is reasonable and natural that one should be respected for the merit of another, and so his merit be in some degree imputed to another, and one person be substituted for another according to the natural sense of all mankind.
3. As it is the relation of one to another, or his union with him, that is the ground of the respect that is shown towards him for the other’s sake, and so the ground of substitution of the other in his stead, and of the imputation of the other’s merit in some degree, as has been observed: — so it is manifest that the greater or nearer that relation is, and the stricter the union, so much the more does it prevail for the acceptance of the person, or the object of respect, for the sake of him to whom he is united. Or, in other words, the union, by how much greater and closer it is, by so much more it is a ground of his being accepted, as if he were one with the other, or of the other’s being substituted for him, and his merit’s being imputed in a greater degree, and more, as if he were the same.
4. If there be any such thing as a union of a person to another, as, for instance, a patron to a client, in such a certain degree, or in such a manner, as that, on the account of the degree and manner, it shall be peculiarly fit to look upon them as completely one and the same, as to all that concerns the interest of the client, with relation to the regard of the friend of the patron: — then especially may the patron be taken by his friend as the substitute of the client, and his merit be imputed to him.
If it be inquired, what degree or manner of union may be looked upon thus complete: — I answer, When the patron’s heart is so united to the client that when the client is to be destroyed, he, from love, is willing to take his destruction on himself, or what is equivalent thereto, so that the client may escape, then he may be properly accepted as perfectly one with regard to the interest of the client, for this reason: that his love to the client in all that concerns his interest, even so as to absorb or swallow up his whole interest. Because his love actually puts him in the room of the beloved, in that suffering or calamity which, being his total destruction, does swallow up and consume all his interest, without leaving the least part of it. Therefore, love that will take that destruction, evidently takes in his whole interest. It appears to be an equal balance for it. If his love puts him thoroughly in his client’s stead. If his love were such as made his willing to put himself in the other’s stead, in many cases where his interest was concerned, but yet not in a case where all is concerned, the union is not complete. He is partially, and not thoroughly, united. But when the love of the patron is such as to go through with the matter, and makes him willing to put himself in the other’s stead, even in the case of the last extremity, and where the beloved is to be utterly and perfectly destroyed, then he is, as to his love, sufficiently united, so as to be accepted as completely one by his friend, in all that concerns the client’s welfare.
5. If a friend that is very dear to any person, and of great merit in the eyes of any person, not only stands in a strict union with another, but also does particularly express a great desire of that other’s welfare, and appears much to seek it: — then it is agreeable to nature that the welfare of the person united to him should be regarded for his sake, and on his account, as if it were his own welfare. For by means of this desire of the other’s welfare, his welfare becomes his own. For that good which anyone desires, sets his heart upon, and seeks, thereby becomes his own good: it becomes a good that is grateful to him, or which tends to gratify and delight him: for it is grateful to all to have their desires gratified.
In such a case, the dear and worthy person makes the other’s interest his own by his explicit choice. By his own act he places his interest in the interest of the other, and so substitutes himself in the other’s stead, as to the affair of interest or welfare.
And the greater that desire appears, the more earnestly he seeks the other’s welfare, and the greater things he does to obtain it: so much the more does his interest become his own, and so much the more does he substitute himself in the room of the other.
6. Especially is the client’s welfare properly and naturally regarded, for the sake of the patron that is very dear and worthy in the eyes of any person, when the way in which the patron expresses the desire of the client’s welfare, that he is closely united to and in which he seeks it, is by suffering and being at expense of his own personal and private welfare in any degree, for the welfare of the client. Expending one’s good or interest for another, is properly transferring the interest in the good expended into the good sought: the expended good, which is the means, is properly set aside and removed, in the regard of him that is at the expense, and whose regard is placed on that good which is the end. The good of the price is parted with, for the good of the thing purchased. And therefore, here is proper substitution of one in the place of the other.
In such a case therefore, in a more special manner, will it be proper and natural for one in whose eyes the patron is very worthy, and to whom he is very dear, to have regard to the welfare of the client for the patron’s sake, or for the sake of the patron’s merit: as suppose the client of the excellent and dear patron be a child or spouse in captivity, and the patron lays out himself exceedingly for the client’s redemption, and goes through many and very great hardships, and is at vast expense for the obtaining of it.
7. If the patron who seeks the welfare of the client, in his seeking of it, does particularly and directly apply himself to the person who has so high an esteem and affection for him, expressing his desires of the client’s welfare in request to him, and the endeavors that are used with him, and what is expected for the client’s welfare be given to him, expended for him, for his sake, promoting his ends, or for something that his friend regards as his own interest: — then especially is it natural that the person, of whom his client’s welfare is sought, should be ready to grant it for his sake.
8. It is still more highly proper and natural to regard the client’s welfare on account of the patron’s merit, or to reckon the merit of the patron to his client’s account; if the merit of the patron consists, or especially appears, in what he does for his client’s welfare; or if the virtues and worthy qualities have their chief exercise and do chiefly exhibit their amiableness in those excellent and amiable acts which he performs in seeking the good of the client: in the deeds he performs on the account of the interest of the client and in his applying to his friends for it, and in the acts he performs as an intercessor with his friend for it and the service he does him on this account. In this case, it is peculiarly natural to accept the client, on the account of the merit of the patron. For the merit is on his account, and has its existence of the sake of the client.
9. More especially is it natural, when his merit, above all, consists and appears in the very expense the patron is at of his own welfare, for the welfare of the client, or in the act of expending or exchanging the one for the other. For as was observed before, such expense is properly regarded as a price of the client’s welfare. But when such merit is added to the price, this merit becomes the worth, value, or preciousness of the price: preciousness of another kind, besides merely the value of the natural good parted with. It adds a moral good to the price, equal to the natural good expended, so that the worthiness of the patron and the value expended are offered both together in one, as the price of the welfare of the client.
10. The thus accepting the patron’s merit, as being placed to the account of the client, will be more natural still, if the patron puts himself in the place of that client (undertaking to appear for him, to represent him, and act in his stead by an exceeding great change in his circumstances), and clothes himself with the form of his client (goes where he is, takes his place in the universe, puts himself into his circumstances, and is in all things made like unto him), wherein this may be consistent with maintaining his merit inviolable. If the client be unworthy, and an offender, and has deserved ill of the person whose favor he needs, then abating and dismissing resentment, or lessening or withholding the evil deserved, for the sake of the merit of the patron, is equivalent to a positive favor for his sake, in case of no offense and demerit of punishment.
11. If the person that needs favor be an offender and unworthy, then in order to a proper influence and effect of the union and merit of a patron, to induce his friend to receive him into favor on his account, the union of the patron with his client and his undertaking and appearing as his patron to seek favor for him, should be in such a manner and attended with such circumstances, as not to diminish his merit. So that his union with and intercession for the client, shall not in the least infringe on these two things, viz. the patron’s own union with his friend, whose favor he seeks for the client, and his merit strictly so called, i.e. his own virtue. For if his own worthiness be diminished by his union with one that is unworthy, then his influence to recommend the client one way, is destroyed one way, at the same time that it is established another. For that recommending influence consists in the two things, viz. his merit, and his union with the client. Therefore, if one of these is diminished or destroyed, as the other is advanced and established, then nothing is done on the whole toward recommending the client. Therefore, in order that, on the whole, the client be effectually recommended, it is necessary that the patron’s union to an offending unworthy client should be attended with such circumstances, that it shall not be at all consistent with these two things: his regard to his friend, and his regard to virtue or holiness. For in these two things consists his merit in the eyes of his friend. And therefore it is necessary that his appearing united to his unworthy and offending client should be with such circumstances as most plainly to demonstrate that he perfectly disapproves of his offense and unworthiness, and to show a perfect regard to virtue, and to the honor and dignity of his offended injured friend. There is no way that this can be so thoroughly and fully done, as by undertaking himself to pay the debt to the honor and rights of his injured friend, and to honor the rule of virtue and righteousness the client has violated, by putting himself in the stead of the offender, into subjection to the injured rights and violated authority of his offended friend, and under the violated law and rule of righteousness belonging to one in the client’s state; and so, for the sake of the honor of his friend’s authority and the rule of righteousness, suffering the whole penalty due to the offender, and which would have been requisite to be suffered by him for the maintaining the honor and dignity of those things; and himself, by such great condescension and under such self-denial, honoring those rights and rules by his obedience and perfect conformity to them. Hereby he gives the most evident testimony to all beholders: — Although he loves his client and seeks his welfare, yet he had rather be humbled so low, deny himself so greatly, and suffer so much, than that his welfare should be in the least diminished, his authority weakened, and his honor and his dignity degraded.
1360. The Substitutionary Atonement. [This is a continuation of M 1352]
12. If the patron be, in the eyes of him whose favor is sought, of the very great dignity, it is agreeable to reason and nature that this should have influence to procure greater favor to the client than if he were of less dignity. And when it is inquired, whether there be a sufficiency in the patron and his relation to his client, to answer such a degree of favor as is proposed to be obtained for him, then the dignity of the patron is one thing that is to be estimated and put into the scales, with the degree of favor sought, in order to know whether it be sufficient to countervail it. By dignity, I here intend not only the degree of virtue and relation to his friend, of whom he seeks favor, but the greatness of the person of the patron.
If in adjusting this matter, the dignity that is viewed in the patron, and his friend’s regard to him, be so great that considered with the degree of the patron’s union with his client, there is a sufficiency to countervail all the favor that the client needs, or the utmost that he is capable of receiving: — then there is a perfect sufficiently in the patron for the client; or a sufficiency completely to answer and support the whole interest of the client; or a sufficiency in his friend’s regard to the patron, wholly to receive, take in, and comprehend the client, with regard to his whole interest or all that pertains to his welfare; or which is the same thing, a sufficiency fully to answer for him as his representative and substitute, in all that pertains to his welfare.
13. If the patron and client are equals as to greatness of being or degree of existence, and the degree of the patron’s union with his client should be such (and that were possible) that he regarded the interest of the client equally with his own personal interest: — then it would be natural for the patron’s friend to regard the client’s welfare for the sake of the patron, as much as he regards the patron’s own personal welfare. Because, when the case is so, the patron is as strictly united to the client as he is to himself, and his client’s welfare becomes perfectly, and to all intents and purposes, his own interest, as much as his personal welfare. And therefore, as the love of his friend to him disposes him to regard whatever is his interest, to such a degree as it is his interest, so it must dispose him to regard the client’s welfare in an equal degree with his own personal interest, because, by the supposition, it is his interest in an equal degree. But this must be here provided or supposed, viz. not only that so strict a union of the patron and client be possible, but also that it be proper, or that there be no impropriety or unfitness in it. Because if it be unfit, then the patron’s being so strictly united to him, diminishes his merit, because merit, at least in part, consists in a regard to what is proper and fit. And if the degree of union be unfit, it diminishes the influence of that union to recommend the client one way, as much as it increases it another.
14. If the patron and client are not equals, but the patron be greater and vastly superior as to rank and degree of existence, it gives greater weight to his union, as to its influence with the friend of the patron, to recommend the client. So that a less degree of union of the patron with the client may be equivalent to a greater union, in case of equality. Therefore, in this case, though the union be not so great as that his regard to the client’s interest should be equal with his own personal interest, but may be much less, yet his regard to it may be such, that this recommending influence may be equivalent to that which is fully equal in the case of equality of persons. And therefore this union may be sufficient to answer the same purposes towards the client, and consequently to be perfectly sufficient for the client, with regard to the client’s whole interest.
15. From these things, we may gather this as a rule whereby to judge whether there be a sufficiency in the patron’s union with his client to answer for the whole interest of the client with the patron’s friend, with respect to the degree of union of the patron, and the degree of greatness where there is no defect of merit in other respects, viz. that the patron’s union with the client shall be such, that considering jointly both the degree of greatness and degree of union, the patron’s union with his client shall be as considerable and weighty, and have as much recommending influence, as if, in case of equality of the patron with his client, the union between them was so great that the patron’s regard to the welfare of the client were equal to his own.
16. Then the union of the patron has its measure and proportion according to the rule now mentioned, and so is sufficient to answer his whole interest, when the degree of his regard to his client’s interest stands in the same proportion to his regard to his own personal interest, as the degree of the capacity of the client stands in to the degree of his own capacity. For the degrees of capacity are as the greatness or the degrees of existence of the person.
17. When the patron’s regard to his client is thus proportioned, that is, when he regards the client’s interest as his own, according to the client’s capacity, then such a union may most fitly and aptly be represented, by the client’s being taken by the patron to be as a part or member of himself, as though he were a member of his body. For men love each part of themselves as themselves, but yet not each part equally with themselves; but each part as themselves, according to the measure of the capacity of the part. A man loves his little finger as himself, but not equally with the head, but yet with the same love he bears to himself, according to the place, measure, and capacity of the little finger.
18. The most proper and plain trial and demonstration of this sufficiency of union of the patron with the client, consisting in such a proportion of regard to his welfare as has been mentioned, is the patron’s being willing to bear sufferings for the client, or in his stead, that are equivalent to sufferings which properly belong to the latter: which equivalence of sufferings must be determined by a joint estimation of these two things, viz. the degree of suffering and the greatness of the sufferer. When the effect of the patron’s love to the client is a suffering for the client that is equal in value or weight to the client’s suffering, considering the difference of the degree of person, it shows that the love to the client, which is the cause of this suffering, is also equal or equivalent to his love for himself, according to the different degree of the persons.
The most proper and clear trial of the measure of love or regard to the interest of another, is the measure of suffering, or expense of personal interest, for the interest of the beloved. So much as the lover regards the welfare of the beloved, so much in value or weight of his own welfare will he be willing to part with for it. If the value of the welfare obtained, be, in the regard of the sufferer, fully equal to the value of the welfare parted with, then, there being an equal balance, no preponderation of self-love will hinder parting with one for the other. The love therefore is sufficient and equal to self-love, allowing only for the difference of capacity or greatness of the persons: as the sufferings are equal, allowing for the same difference of the degree of persons.
19. There can be but one thing more requisite, according to the nature of things, in order to its being to all intents and purposes proper and suitable that the patron should be accepted as one with the client in what pertains to the client’s interest, and his merits being imputed to the client, and his having favor on the account of it, which is this: — That seeing the client is an intelligent being, capable of act and choice, he should therefore actively and cordially concur in the affair; that the union between the patron and him should be mutual; that as the patron’s heart is united to the client, so the client’s heart should be united to the patron; that as there is that disposition and those acts appearing in the patron that are proper to the character and relation of a patron, in undertaking for the client to appear for him before his friend, as his representative, guardian, deliverer, and savior, and condescending to him to do and suffer all for him needful for his help and advancement. So there must also appear in the client those dispositions and acts that are proper to the character and relation of a client, cleaving to him, committing his cause to him, and trusting in him, in an entire approbation of the patron’s friendship, kind undertaking, and patronage. There must also be, not only an approbation of the patron’s union to him, by which he avails for his being looked upon as one with him, but also of the patron’s union to his friend, whose favor he seeks, which union with his friend avails to the acceptance of the patron, and also an entire approbation of the benefits which the patron seeks of his friend for the client, or, in one word, a cordial and entire faith of the client in his patron. When there is thus a mutual union between the patron and client, and a union throughout between them both, and the friend whose favor is sought, together with those things before mentioned, there is everything requisite in order to the fitness of the acceptance of the client on the account of the patron, and his receiving such favor from the patron’s friend, as is requisite to all that pertains to the client’s welfare. So that such acceptance and such favor shall be in all respects proper, according to the nature of things, and common sense of intelligent beings, and of no evil or improper consequence.
Consider the following two works by Edwards that have been updated and republished for easy reading:
Ripe for Damnation: Sermons on the Book of Revelation – by Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758). Are you hungry for more of Edwards’ sermons? On the book of Revelation? These new works are not found anywhere on A Puritan’s Mind, and there are new ones not found in his large 2 volume works. 4 deal with the plight of the wicked, and 2 deal with the bliss of saints in heaven. These sermons are powerful, practical, and biblical, glorifying the Lord Jesus Christ, and contain 2 never before published sermons.
Justification by Faith Alone – by Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758). In this classic work, Edwards covers the intricacies of how believers are made righteous only through Christ’s merits, and that this justifying righteousness is equally imputed to all elect believers. This is accomplished by the condition of faith as an instrument.