« PreviousContinue »
that therefore there was no necessity for the satisfying the divine justice ; if, I say, this be your meaning, as, upon considering the whole paragraph, it seems to be ; then, I would observe, that your reasoning cannot be just, unless you can shew, that it was by no means necessary (or expedient) that the divine Being, at the same time that he shewed mercy to sinners, should do any thing, or appoint any thing to be done, in order to secure that reverence and regard, which are due to his law and justice : for if you allow this ; then, you will evidently allow in effect, that it was necessary or expedient, that the divine law and justice should be satisfied. But if that is what you will not admit, and you can shew, that it was neither necessary nor expedient, that any thing should be done to secure that reverence and regard; then it will be time to cease contending for the expediency of satisfying the divine law or justice : but that is a task, which it seems to me at present not easy to perform ; and what, I should think, you, sir, cannot very consistently undertake, considering what you have said, No. 165.
Your next paragraph, (156.) in which you endeavour to shew, that “the notion “of Christ's dying in our stead, will not “bear the test of scripture or reason ;’ I need not, I apprehend, consider so largely: because a great part of it is, either such as has been obviated already, or such as no one, who has tolerable sentiments of the matter, will think himself concerned to answer. However, it may not be altogether unnecessary to observe,
1. That your first argument (in proof of your assertion just mentioned) which is, that “this notion never enters into the no‘tion of atonement by sacrifice,” has been considered already. 2. The former part of your second argument proceeds upon this supposition ; that law and justice can no otherwise be satisfied, than by the punishment of the offender : which is true, as has been observed, in your sense of the words ; but is not so, in the sense, in which they are commonly understood. The justice of the Gibeonites, for instance (in the history referred to before) was satisfied, fully satisfied, if you please, with the death of the seven sons of Saul, for the injury they had received from his bloody house ; as indeed, the justice of God himself was ; at least so far as upon their death to remove the famine, which the Israelites had so long laboured under : and yet, it is very probable, that several who were guilty were not punished; i.e. that law and justice, in your sense of the words, were not satisfied.* So that what you assert here, viz. That ‘law and justice “can never admit of one man’s dying in ‘the stead of another,” may be allowed to be true, in one sense ; at the same time that it is evidently not so, in another. But you are pleased to add under this head of argument as follows; “If the lawgiver “should insist upon vicarious punishment, “or require the innocent to die, or accept ‘the voluntary death of the innocent, by “way of commutation for the death of the * nocent, this seems more inconsistent with
* The Gibeonites, in the story to which I refer, are evidently considered, as having a demand upon the Israelites for their breach of the laws of humanity and friend. ship subsisting betwixt them, and as demanding and receiving from them, satisfaction for their violation of them : so that the Gibeonites not being superior in power and authority, or strietly speaking, legislators with respect to the Israelites, cannot justly give occasion of objection
to what is said above.
‘righteousness and justice, and more re“mote from all the ends of moral govern‘ment, than simply to pardon the nocent ‘without any consideration at all. For it ‘seems more contrary to justice and ‘equity both to acquit the nocent and pun“ish the innocent, than only to acquit the * nocent, and suffer him to go unpunished.” Not to observe here, that the latter clause in this passage, though brought in, in support of the former, contains little or nothing more in it, than an assertion, in other words, of the same thing : I cannot see, for my own part, why it should be thought so inconsistent with righteousness and justice, or so remote from all the ends of moral government ; if a lawgiver accepts of the voluntary death.* of an innocent person, especially in some circumstances, instead of the death of such offenders as he is disposed to be merciful to: it cannot be said, in such a case, that he does the innocent person any wrong; because what he suffers is supposed to be voluntary: and as to the ends of moral government ; his conduct,
* The reason, why the case of a lawgiver's accepting of the voluntary death of an innocent person instead of that of offenders, is the only one I take notice of here, is ; because the two other cases mentioned by you, are such as I do not apprehend myself concerned in.
in this particular, can as little be said to
destroy or interfere with them ; unless it
can be shewn to have a tendency upon the whole, to encourage disobedience, or dis
courage innocence ; which, in the case here particularly referred to, it certainly has not; supposing our Lord actually died in the stead of sinners. On the contrary, should a lawgiver pardon the nocent (especially many such) without any considera
tion at all ; it seems to me, that it would be very inconsistent, both with the demands of his righteousness and justice, and the great ends of his moral government : since it would manifestly abate the fear of the threatenings of his law, and afford great encouragement to disobedience.
Whereas, supposing (what seems to have been really the case) the Deity, being gra
ciously inclined to pardon many offenders, and yet desirous, at the same time, of maintaining the authority of his government and laws; supposing, I say, in such a case, he should appoint a person of as great dignity as innocence (who is himself also, both in obedience to his will, and out of