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course of prosperity, we had well-nigh forgotten: if this be the fruit of them, to take away our sins, and to make us partakers of his holiness: let the affliction be never so sharp and heavy, though the burden of it be as much as we can possibly stand under, yet there is nothing of the malignity of the curse in it; for where afflictions make men better, God never lays them on as curses.
But, if any suffering be inflicted, as a punishment, in order to the satisfaction of divine justice, then it is properly a curse; and, how light and easy soever it be, it flows from the malediction of the Law; and, whosoever he be, that undergoes them, he is an accursed person. The law is, The soul, that sinneth, it shall die. The penalty of this law is death, which ought to be taken, in its most comprehensive sense, for all sorrows and miseries, all evils and sufferings, both here and hereafter, in this world and the world to come. Now, when divine justice exacts this penalty of us as a recompence and satisfaction for our transgressing the Law, then are we properly said to be accursed.
And, therefore, by the way, all those blind methods of Popish Penance, in cruciating and tormenting the body, in order to the satisfaction of justice and expiating the guilt of their sins, are but the fond inventions of a company of men, who most preposterously seek happiness by making themselves accursed, and think to escape the vengeance of God by feeling the effects of it: for, to be accursed, is, properly, to undergo any evil or suffering; not simply, as it is painful, but as it is penal and ordained as a satisfaction to wronged and offended justice.
I have the longer insisted upon this, because it is much to be regarded; as being, indeed, the very basis and foundation of all that remains to be treated of on this subject.
And from this we may borrow much light, for the clearing up of,
ii. The second thing propounded, HOW" JESUS Christ, WHO is GOD BLESSED FOR EVER, COULD BE MADE A CURSE, OR BECOME ACCURSED.
This, at the first glance of our thoughts upon it, seems very difficult, if not impossible, to be reconciled. And the difficulty is increased, partly, because the true faith acknowledgeth our Lord Jesus Christ to be the True God, blessed for ever; and, partly, because the Apostle tells us, That no man, speaking by the Spirit of God, calleth Jesus accursed: 1 Cor. xii. 3. Yet, upon the grounds already laid, and by considering what a curse is, and upon what account any person is said to be accursed, the difficulty will soon vanish, and the reconciliation between them appear easy and obvious.
1. Then, certain it is, that Christ is essentially blessed, being the most blessed God, co-equal and co-eternal with the Father, possessing all the infinite perfections of the Deity, invariably and unmeasurably. Yea, and he is the Fountain of all Blessing, whence flow all our hopes and happiness. And, whosoevef shall, in the least, derogate from the infinite dignity of his person and essential blessedness, because he is represented to us as accursed, let such a one be himself accursed.
But, although he is for ever blessed essentially, yet
2. Mediatorily, he was accursed: and that, because the economy and dispensation of his mediatory office required, that he should be subjected unto sufferings: not only as they were simply evil; but as they were penal, and inflicted on him to this very end, that justice might be repaired and satisfied. The whole course of his humiliation, from first to last; his obscure birth, and laborious education, and afflicted life; his travels, and weariness, and thirst, and hunger; his bearing the reproaches of men, and the wrath of God; but then, especially, when the whole load of it was laid upon him on the cross; were all penal, and God exacted this from him as a satisfaction and amends, that he ought to make unto offended justice. And, therefore, all these seized upon him as so many curses, wherewith he was stigmatized and branded by the divine vengeance.
iii. But, the curse of the Law being only due unto sin and guilt, it remains yet to be enquired, How This Curse Could BE
JUSTLY INFLICTED ON OUR SAVIOUR, WHO WAS INFINITELY PURE
And Innocent; and to whom the Scripture gives this testimony, that he did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 1 Pet. ii. 22.
To this I answer: That sin may be considered, either as personal or imputed.
1. Christ was Freefrom all Personal Sin; whether of corruption of nature, or transgression of life.
(1) He was free from all Corruption of Nature, through his miraculous conception by the Holy Ghost.
For, since the contagion of original sin was necessarily to seize on all the posterity of Adam, that descended>from him in an ordinary way; therefore, that Christ might be free from this general infection, which, like a hereditary leprosy, is derived down upon all mankind in a continued succession, it pleased the infinite wisdom of God, after a wonderful and extraordinary manner, to prepare a body for him, that he might be made of the seed of Abraham, and yet not contract the sin of Adam. There was no sinful ignorance in his understanding; no seeds of rebellion, contumacy, and frowardness in his will; no tumults nor disorders in his affections: but a perfect purity and harmony in his whole soul; enjoying the same innocence, but a far greater stability, than Adam before his fall. For,
(2) As he was free from all original sin, by his extraordinary conception; so from all Actual Sin, by the hypostatical union of the divine nature with the human: whereby, being God-Man in one person, it was altogether as impossible for him to sin, as for God himself.
And, indeed, had there been but any one transgression in our Saviour, he would not have been made a curse for us, but for himself. And, therefore, we find in the Law, that all the sacrifices, that were offered up unto God ought to be without spot and blemish; typifying unto us the spotless purity and perfection of Jesus Christ, our great propitiatory sacrifice. But, 2. Although Christ were free from all personal, yet he was Not Free from all Imputed Sin and Guilt. The sins of all the world assembled and met together upon him.
So that, upon this account, some have made bold, with no bad intent, to call Jesus Christ the greatest sinner that ever lived. God, as it were, raked together the filth of all the world, and spread it all upon Christ; so that never was there so much wickedness represented at once, as in his most holy and sacred person. The sins of all ages and of all persons were here contracted together. The guilt of Noah's drunkenness, Lot's incest, David's murder and adultery, Peter's perjury; yea, the guilt of his own crucifixion; yea, the many millions of sins, which many millions of persons have committed since the world stood, and shall commit till the final dissolution of it; were all charged upon him: and all those treasures of wrath, which were particularly due to each of these sins, were all emptied forth upon him. And, therefore, as the loose and scattered beams of the sun, though hot, and in some places scorching and intolerable, yet, when they are collected into a burningglass, become far more intense, and presently fire what they touch; and, the more of them are united into one point and centre, the more sudden and fierce is the burning: so, here, although the wrath of God, as it is scattered abroad in the world, and falls upon this and that particular sinner, be terrible and insupportable; to what excess think you, must it needs arise, when all the scattered flames of it were united together in one point, all its rage and fervour twisted together into one, and that beating full upon Jesus Christ, who as in his own person he sustained the guilt of all, so in his own person he suffered the wrath and curse that was due unto all? He suffered, at once, for every one, that, which, else, every one must have suffered eternally in hell.
And thus you see how Christ is said to be made a curse, because he was ordained to sufferings; and those sufferings to the satisfaction of divine justice, and to make a recompence for sins: which, though they were not his own personally, yetthey were his by imputation; God proceeding with him, as if they had all been committed by him.
iv. But, for the fuller illustration of this great mystery, Two THINGS YET REMAIN TO BE ENQUIRED INTO.
Whether it be consistent with the justice of God, to punish an innocent person, for the sins of those that are guilty. Whether Christ did bear the same wrath and the same curse, which were due to us for our sins; or some other punishment, in lieu thereof. 1. To the first I answer,
(1) In general, that it is not unjust for God, to punish the sins of one person upon another, who hath not committed them. We find frequent instances of this in the Scripture. Exod. xx. 5. God threatens, that he will visit the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generation. And, Lam. v. 1. Our fathers have sinned.....and we have borne their iniquities. Canaan is accursed for the impious fact of Ham: Gen. ix. 25. Saul's children are hanged, by divine approbation, for their father's sin: 2 Sam. xxi. 1—14. Threescore and ten thousand are cut off by the sword of the destroying angel, for the pride and vain-glory of David; who also clears them from partaking in his guilt: 2 Sam. xxiv. 17. / have sinned, and I have done wickedly: but these sheep, what have they done? Many other like instances might be given, were it needful.
(2) It is just with God, to inflict the punishment of our sins upon Christ, though innocent.
And there are Two Things, upon which this justice and equity are founded: Conjunction and Consent.
[I] There is a near Conjunction, between Christ and us: upon which account, it is no injustice to punish him in our stead.
And this conjunction is twofold: either Natural, or Mystical.
1st. There is a Natural Conjunction between us, as Christ is truly man, and hath taken upon him our nature; which makes a cognation and alliance between us. We are bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh.
It was therefore necessary, that Christ should take our nature, upon a threefold account.
(1st) That thereby the same person, who is God, might become passive; and a fit subject, to receive and bear the wrath of God: for, had he not been man, he could not have received it; and had he not been God, he could not have borne it.
(2dly) That satisfaction might be made to offended justice, in the same nature which transgressed; that, as it was man which sinned, so man also might be punished.
And, yet farther,
(3dly) That the right of redemption might be in Christ, being made near of kin unto us, by his taking our flesh and our nature. For, we find in the Law, that the person, who was next of kin, was to redeem to himself the lands of his relations, when they were fallen to decay, and constrained by poverty to sell them: Lev. xxv. 25. Ruth iii. 12. and iv. 4. Whereby was typified unto us our redemption by Jesus Christ; who, having a body prepared for him, is now become near of kin unto us, and is not ashamed to call us brethren. Now, because of this natural conjunction, the transferring the punishment from us, who are guilty, unto Christ, who is guiltless, doth, at least in this respect, answer the rules and measures of justice; that, although the same person be not punished, yet the same nature is. But this is not all: for,
2dly. There is a nearer conjunction between Christ and us: and that is Mystical; whereby we are made one person with him.
And, by reason of this, God, in punishing Christ, punisheth not only the same nature, but the same person. For there is such an intimate union by faith between Christ and a believer,
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