« FöregåendeFortsätt »
or punitive justice. Plutarch has his tract; De serà Numinis vindi&ta. The Poet can say, Raro antecedentem scelestum de seruit pede pæna claudo. The earth is full of divine judgments, or the awful demonstrations of divine. justice. Many are cut off in their. fins, as if they were not to be forgiven. Many are so punished, as if it were design'd, that their sin should be read in their punishment. Upon commission of notorious sin, conscience is fo terrify'd, that many: choose strangling and d:ath, rather than the horrors of their own inind ; occult um quatiente intus tortore. flagellum. And our Author says, (p. 126.) They (the rational Beings) ought to keep it well impres; upon their minds, that he (GOD) is the Being, upon. whom their very existence. depends, &c. That they are always in his presence; that he is a Being of perfect reason; that if it be reasonable, that the transa gresors of reason should be punished, they will, most certainly, one time or other be punished,
Here a punitive justice is attributed to GOD, as. à Being of perfect reason.. 'We must suppose, that. the transgressors of divine law are the transgressors. of reason (of divine and human reason). Now if all. the transgressors of reason (i.e. all finners) muft, one time or other, be most certainly punish'd (and that as far as divine reason, that is, justice, shall require) then, I fear, there will be no room for pardon. And then, the Religion of Nature, I fear will. perifh
It is said (as has been seen already) that, perhaps, mercy and justice may more properly be called together, divine reason. It is usually noted, that reason fignifies either the intellective power, or the act of ratiocination. That divine mercy and justice are to be look'd upon as the intellective power, or the intellect of GOD, I suppose, the theological world, will scarce admit. And the same world is wont to suppose also, that ratiocination is too imperfect an act, to be afcrib’d to the infinite intellect. But let mercy and justice together, be called divine reason, and the divine reason, thereupon, sustain the notion both of mercy and of justice. Then, if divine reafon, under the notion of mercy, judges it reasonable, that pardon should be granted to the world, and that as far as perfect (i. e. infinite) mercy will allow, then there inay be no place for certain punishment. How then shall we know the measures or methods of divine reason, considered as mercy and as justice ? or, the more incompetent our reason is to adjust the process of divine reason (and to be sure, its thoughts are not as ours) and to determine the modes and inethods of divine mercy and justice, the more we shall need some superior information, to certify us in such moinentous affairs of the divine government.
If the divine reason is, and must be, concern'd in the divine government; and that reason is mercy and justice, then mercy and justice must both be concern'd and employ'd in the government of this world. Then, shall we not rationally suppose, that they must act together (being both the divine reason) in most 3
wise harmony and sweet confort ? And so, if divine reason consider'd as mpwy, determines that forgiveness and impr ihall be granted to the world, it must determine it in conjunction with reason, confider'd as justice. And so, it must be determind, that the defign'd forgiveness and impunity shall be granted in such a way and upon such a foot, as shall be congruous to the honour and regard, that must be had of divine justice. And so it may be rationally and congruously determind, that the pardon and impunity, that is inercifully defign'd for mankind, shall be founded upon a rich and suitable, propitiation (or propitiatory sacrifice) offer'd up to divine justice. Here mercy and justice will embrace each other in the adininistrations of divine reafon. Here's wonderful mercy in resolving upon forgiveness for such despicable delinquents, when it is well seen, at the same time (or in the same instant of reason) that justice inuft be solv'd and satisfy’d.
Here's soveraign favour and grace (in conjunction: with reason, consider'd as:wisdom) in providing (for human reason cannot) and admiting the propitiation or piacular victim. Here's supreme justice in apprehending and slaying the pure, piacular victim, instead of the transgressors themselves, who are, in due time, to be discharged. This method will much more comport with divine reason (in which justice and mercy are sunrosd to be connected, and are jointly to be consider'd) than will a mere gratuitous pardon, in which
is paid to divine justice. And
ivine reason, we are led to a 1. These rational Beinifice, in which (or in whom, cording to truth) must enda
as being a personal facrifice) we have redemption through his blood, even the simillion of sins, according to the riches of divine grace;' tio...
Hisenstic! (orace) he hath abounded towards us in all wisdom and prüdence (in all the mysterious depths of divine reason, consider'd as wisdom, as well as mercy or justice). Thus divine reason will lead us to a propitiation of justice. Then
2. Consideration inay be had of the Author's rule of truth. The conduct and actions of rational Beings are so to be orderd, that no truth (either of facts or propositions) is to be denied. Since this rule is set up antecedently to the consideration of the divine existence, it should seem to be a rule, by which all intelligent Beings are to be guided ; and confequently, the divine Being, as well as others. In the dispensation, then, of forgiveness to the world, the divine Being will fo act, as not to deny himself, or any perfection of his own nature, which naturally occurrs to be displayed. But should he vouchsafe an absolute, gratuitous forgiveness (without consulting the honour of his justice or righteousness, in a valuable propitiation) he will seem to deny his justice, or the excellency of it, or the high regard and deference that is to be paid thereto.
3. Consideration should be had, whether they may not be pertaining to the divine Reing, something analogous to what, in superiors as of this wortunence. is called, sense of honour ; pose, that they must is but a due care to act acce divine reason) in most
sphere and dignity. The divine Being cannot but be conscious of his own incomparable perfection and efsential glory, of his transcendent dominion and authority, and of the vast obligation he has laid upon all intelligent Beings (whose eflence and powers he upholds) to regard his law and will. And if, in this view of his own incomparable glory, he sees it unmeet and unsuitable to his matchless Highness and Grandeur, to forgive a world of impiety (idolatry, enmity, blasphemy, and all manner of abomination) committed against himself, without a suitable, vast propitiation, what has the world to say against it! surely, reason (the reason of nature ; or the nature of things) has something to say, that the religion of guilty nature (if there be any such religion, which must thxpend upon divine forgiveness of fin) should be trounded upon some great and glorious propitiation, presented to the Majesty of heaven.
VI. But let us suppose, that forgiveness of fin is defign'd for the guilty world, and thereupon is some way or other, by the GOD of nature, and by the light of nature, revealed there, for the support and encouragement of the Religion of Nature, (if thou, Lord, jhould mark iniquities, O Lord, who fball stand (in thy presence ?) But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be fear'd, mayelt be religiously attended and adored) then, there will rationally ensue such articles of the Religion of Nature, as these.
1. These rational Beings (since they inuft act according to truth) must endeavour to be apprehensive d