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all God's creatures, and God hath made us capable of himself, and of doing him service ; and therefore God by our make, hath a due of obedience from us, and a demand from us ; and if we fail, then God hath jus pænarum for his just security, whereby he may exact from us his due of obedience.
But now if God be master of his own right, then he mit and forgive fin; it he may not, he is not so much master of his right as if he might ; for every owner may depart from his right if he will, and abate and cut himself short of his right if he please. It is just, if a man requires what is owed him ; it is not unjust, if he do not : therefore we must not deny this to God; for he is not master of his right so far as he might, if he have no power to use it; but God being master of his own right, hath power to use it if he please ; and there is no such attribute in God, as necessitates him to punish fin whether he will or no, or to punish sin repented of; and it will consist with goodness for God so to do ; and this it is, that when we consider a wicked world, we wonder at divine patience ; for if God were under a necessity of punishing the world condignly, the world would not stand one moment; but this is what we resolve it into none of us knows the length of divine patience.
I confess it is just, and it is good, that obstinacy and contumacy in sin, and impenitency be controuled and chastized; for a malefactor not to receive justice, is a very great evil, because it doth countenance and encourage fin ; but if there be repentance, I am perfuaded God is not bound to punish; for repentance, where-ever it is, doth alter the case ; and God is not
bound to punish sin condignly, if the finner repent and condemn himself, and deprecate God's just displeasure, and return to duty and obedience ; for then there is the effect of punishment before punishment ; for punishment is the medicine and cure of wickedness; punishment is only where monition will not take effect to bring a creature to repentance and a better mind, to consider and know his duty, and to obey it. Therefore they are too severe, who insist upon the rule of justice, to exclude mercy, goodness, compassion, and power to forgive : they rob God of the honour of his grace, and make him less master of his own right; they discourage conversion and endeavourings to return to God, to duty, and to obedience ; yea, they lay a foundation of desperation.
Therefore it is thus. That which we call the rule or law of justice, requires that to be done which juftly ought to be done ; but it doth not require every thing to be done which justly may be done ; it justly may be, that a sinner, as a sinner, be punished ; but you cannot say that, of right, God ought to punish, though a finner do repent. If of right it ought to be, that every fin ought to be punished ; then our Saviour engaged in a case that is not feasible ; he hath Thewed his good-will indeed, but we can receive no relief from him ; and if God's righteousness did compel him not to forbear a finner in order to reformation, then he were only as a judge determined by a law, which he cannot vary from, but he must execute it : but to every supremacy of power and authority (as undoubtedly it is in God) there is annexed a power of indulging, qualifying, moderating, and (if he sees
cause) forgiving. Therefore though it may be done of right, to punish all delinquents, yet it is not of right that all must be punished; because God is supreme and hath power to moderate, remit and abate. This I will grant that upon delinquency or an evil act done, there is a desert and worthiness of punishment, there is a potential guilt contracted, and the person is virtually under an obligation to punishment but not actually under an obligation to be punished ; for the actual obligation may be prevented and taken off by the clemency, benignity, and goodness of God; he being master of his own right, and under no law at all, but the law of his own nature, and the law of his own will. So you see there is great use of this distinction; just, that of right may be done ; and just, that of right must be done. And this I have here interposed, because this is very satisfactory to tender minds, that are afraid that their fins cannot be pardoned ; and because it is highly necessary for men that are serious and considerate, and do weigh how they shall be discharged of the guilt of sin, and secured from the justice of God because of their faultiness, to know and understand that the law of justice obliges a righteous person to do that which ought to be done, but not to do every thing that justly may be done.
But now to proceed : I shall show next, how just and equal are stated; what makes just, and what makes equal.
Just is determined two ways ; either by the preportion of things one to another ; or by positive conflitution of persons, who have right and power,
1. Juft or right, is determined by the proportion of things one to another ; and this you have resolved well by Tully. “ Right and just is not determined by “ particular fancy or arbitrary will, but by the nature 6 and reason of things.” That is right, which the right of the matter doth resolve and determine itself to.
2. Other things are juft or right, by positive constitution or voluntary determination ; and that is either by a proprietor, or a law-giver ; for where a man hath right of property, he may refolve in his own property as he himself fees cause; and he that hath power to make laws, may constitute and make laws, and determine in the sphere of his activity as he thinks fit. I will give you two instances. I. It seems to me reasonable, that murder should be punished with death; and this not only because God hath said it, but because God hath declared it from principles of reafon : for if you observe, when God forbids murder, he did not forbid it upon the account of his will, but upon a moral reason, because God made man in his own image : therefore whosoever sheds man's blood, by man fixall bis blood be thed; for God requires blood for Blood. 2. But now for every felon to be punihed with death, the right of this depends upon human conftitution ; for this is the reafon that we go upon ; rather a mischief in particular, than a general inconvenicnce ; rather a particular person who indeed is a malefactor, rather he be feverely dealt with, than all fober persons should be abused and disturbed. So here is an instance of both : the one juft by the reason of proportion, the other by positive conflitution ; which takes in also a general reason to govern itself by.
Now this fame positive conftitution is either general or particular ; if general, it is that which we call the law of the place ; if particular, then what every man will, in the ordering of his own right; yet both of these, the proprietor and the law-giver, though they have privilege so far as privilege takes place, yet both of them are to be determined by the reason of things i for this, both in heaven and on earth, is the supreme and sovereign law : the reason of things is an univerfal law, to which every body's liberty ought to vail and submit : now taking this for the rule, I contess other-where every body is free, and may make use of his own right and property as himself fees caufe : for these are two maxims; every man may dispose of his own ; and every man may abate and remit of his right, if he himself will. Now the former of the forementioned instances, namely things that are determined by their relation each to other, are those that we call the great rights of the world, that govern above and below, and are never to be controuled, never to yield or give place ; for they are a law with God, and according to the nature of God; they are as unchangeable and as unalterable as God himself. The latter instance, are the leffer and particular rights which depend upon human constitution ; these are variable and changeable. The former are of easy determination and universal confent; but about this latter is all the difference. And now because it is a matter of great importance, I will make these appear in particular examples.
And ift. There are things that are in themselves resolved and determined by their relation each to other.