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dispose him to pardon, and his wisdom direct him to it, in such a manner as will be most fitting and expedient; i.e. most for the general good : but these cannot, perhaps, be so properly said to be the rules of his pardoning mercy; or however, if they may be said to be so, they are no otherwise so, than as they are the rules of his justice too : my meaning is, that he will act according to their dictates, as well when he inflicts punishment, as when he shews mercy. But whatever may be the rules of pardoning mercy; it can hardly be supposed, that a wise and good lawgiver will exercise it, or mitigate the rigour of his law, especially in many instances, without shewing at the same time, in one or another, his regard to the reasonableness of his law, and the equity of its sanctions, or, which is the same, to the demands of his law and justice: because otherwise, his conduct would be an encouragement to disobedience, and, of consequence, his mercy, though a favour to a few, would be injustice to the whole, (No. 165.) I readily allow, “that several just con‘siderations (as you observe) may possibly
“occur to satisfy the lawgiver ; or to ren‘der it expedient and proper for him, to “relax the penalty of the law, and to ex“tend his favour and mercy to offenders:’ and that “by the pardoning mercy of the ‘lawgiver, offenders may be released from ‘the penalty or curse of the law most “effectually, and to all manner of intents ‘and purposes.” But supposing a lawgiver may be disposed, for good reasons, to pardon offenders, and has it in his power, by reason of his prerogative, to pardon them most effectually ; are we therefore to imagine, that he will actually do it, if he be a wise and good lawgiver, especially in many instances, without shewing some regard to his law and justice 2 surely we cannot imagine it. That he may do it, if he pleases, is not to be doubted: but that he will do it; or that it has in fact been done, under the government of such a one ; or that it is at all expedient, that it should be done, is not so clear. To me it seems, so far as I can judge from reason or facts, to be expedient, that it should not be done ; I mean, that the lawgiver should not pardon many offenders, without doing, or appointing someo, thing to be done, which will conspicuously shew his regard to his law, and make him, as I may say, some satisfaction for the injury which has been done it ; I say satisfaction ; for when any thing is done by his appointment, or with his consent, which is both designed and fitted (at the same time that he grants a pardon) to display his abhorrence of disobedience, and resolution to punish it, if obstinately persisted in ; I cannot see but that by what is so done, satisfaction may very reasonably and properly be said to be made, either to his law and justice, or to him as a just and righteous lawgiver. Nor can I find, that any thing more is or need to be intended by the phrase, when applied to the sufferings of Christ, than that they were such, as that it pleased God to consider and accept of them, as sufficient to manifest his displeasure against sin, and to vindicate the honour of his justice and laws ; at the same time that he was pleased to shew mercy to the sinner. And if something of this kind only be intended by the phrase, of our Lord’s satisJying the divine justice or law ; I cannot see, but that he may be said to do so, with as much truth and propriety, if not indeed with more propriety (considering the true meaning of the Latin word satisfacere) thán any considerations can be said to satisjoy,” i.e. to convince or persuade a lawgiver, that it is expedient and proper for him, in some cases, to relaac the penalty of the law, &c. I readily own, sir, that “the scripture ‘ never speaks (in so many words). of ‘Christ's satisfying the divine law or jus‘tice :’ neither does it use some phrases, which occur in your writings (as might be easily shewn) which yet may properly enough represent some doctrines of the gospel : but if the scripture leads us by other words, as, I think, it does, to entertain such thoughts concerning the sufferings of Christ, as are intended to be conveyed by that phrase ; I see no reason why we may not use it: unless this should be judged to be one, that some ingenious men seem to have contracted a kind of prejudice against it. However, I am not fond of contending about words or phrases ; and therefore, if you think, and choose rather to say, that * all the ends of redemption may be ob“tained,—by satisfying the wisdom of the ‘lawgiver;” I am willing to acquiesce: provided your meaning be, as to the case before us, that the divine wisdom is satisfied with the sufferings of Christ, as sufficient to discover his abhorrence of sin, at the same time that he pardons the returning sinner. Though, whether this is a more proper and natural way of speaking, or less liable to objection, than the common one, may be justly questioned. But if, in the place referred to, your meaning be, that it was enough for all the purposes of redemption, if the divine wisdom was satisfied of the expediency of granting a pardon ; and
* What is said here is occasioned by what you observe in this paragraph, viz. ‘ that several considerations * may occur to satisfy the lawgiver, or to render it expe‘dient and proper for him, to relax the penalty,’ &c. Where the word satisfy is printed in Italicks ; I suppose, to intimate to us, that this is the only sense, in which a lawgiver can be satisfied, unless it be by the strict execution of the law. But though the lawgiver’s being satisfied, i.e. convinced of the expediency of relaxing, &c. be a very different thing, it must be owned, from his being satisfied for violations done to his law ; yet to me it seems as easy and natural to conceive of his receiving satisfaction, in the latter sense of the word, as in the former ; and, so far as I can judge, it is as expedient, in some instances at least, that he should receive it, in the one case, as in the other.