« AnteriorContinuar »
He who is a public person, may do that wherein he alone is concerned, but he cannot do so as he is a public person. Wherefore, as Socinus and those that follow him would have Christ to have offered for himself, which is to make him a mediator for himself, his offering being a mediatory act, which is both foolish and impious; so to affirm his mediatory obedience, his obedience as a public person, to have been for himself, and not for others, hath but little less of impiety in it.
6. It is granted, that the Lord Christ having a human nature, which was a creature, it was impossible but that it should be subject unto the law of creation. For there is a relation that doth necessarily arise from, and depend upon, the beings of a creator and a creature. Every rational creature is eternally obliged from the nature of God, and its relation thereunto, to love him, obey him, depend upon him, submit unto him, and to make him its end, blessedness, and reward. But the law of creation thus considered, doth not respect the world, and this life only, but the future state of heaven, and eternity also. And this law, the human nature of Christ is subject unto, in heaven and glory, and cannot but be so, whilst it is a creature, and not God, that is, whilst it hath its own being. Nor do any men fancy such a transfusion of divine properties into the human nature of Christ, as that it should be self-subsisting, and in itself absolutely immense; for this would openly destroy it. Yet none will say, that he is now vπò vóμov, 'under the law,' in the sense intended by the apostle. But the law in the sense described, the human nature of Christ was subject unto on its own account, whilst he was in this world. And this is sufficient to answer the objection of Socinus, mentioned at the entrance of this discourse; namely, that if the Lord Christ were not obliged unto obedience for himself, then might he if he would, neglect the whole law, or infringe it. For besides that it is a foolish imagination concerning that holy thing which was hypostatically united unto the Son of God, and thereby rendered incapable of any deviation from the divine will; the eternal indispensable law of love, adherence, and dependance on God, under which the human nature of Christ was, and is, as a creature, gives sufficient security against such suppositions.
But there is another consideration of the law of God, namely, as it is imposed on creatures by especial dispensation, for some time, and for some certain end; with some considerations, rules, and orders, that belong not essentially unto the law, as before described. This is the nature of the written law of God, which the Lord Christ was made under, not necessarily as a creature, but by especial dispensation. For the law, under this consideration, is presented unto us as such, not absolutely and eternally, but whilst we are in this world, and that with this especial end, that by obedience thereunto, we may obtain the reward of eternal life. And it is evident, that the obligation of the law, under this consideration, ceaseth when we come to the enjoyment of that reward. It obligeth us no more formally by its com'mand, 'do this and live,' when the life promised is enjoyed. In this sense the Lord Christ was not made subject unto the law for himself, nor did yield obedience unto it for himself. For he was not obliged unto it by virtue of his created condition. Upon the first instant of the union of his natures, being 'holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners,' he might, notwithstanding the law that he was made subject unto, have been stated in glory. For he that was the object of all divine worship, needed not any new obedience, to procure for him a state of blessedness. And had he naturally, merely by virtue of his being a creature, been subject unto the law in this sense, he must have been so eternally, which he is not. For those things which depend solely on the natures of God and the creature, are eternal and immutable. Wherefore, as the law in this sense was given unto us, not absolutely, but with respect unto a future state and reward; so the Lord Christ did voluntarily subject himself unto it for us, and his obedience thereunto was for us, and not for himself. These things added unto what I have formerly written on this subject, whereunto nothing hath been opposed, but a few impertinent cavils, are sufficient to discharge the first part of that charge laid down before, concerning the impossibility of the imputation of the obedience of Christ unto us; which indeed is equal unto the impossibility of the imputation of the disobedience of Adam unto us; whereby the apostle tells us, 'that we were all made sinners.'
The second part of the objection or charge against the
imputation of the obedience of Christ unto us, is, That it is useless unto the persons that are to be justified. For whereas they have in their justification the pardon of all their sins, they are thereby righteous, and have a right or title unto life and blessedness; for he who is so pardoned, as not to be esteemed guilty of any sin of omission or commission, wants nothing that is requisite thereunto. For he is supposed to have done all that he ought, and to have omitted nothing required of him in a way of duty. Hereby he becomes not unrighteous, and to be not unrighteous, is the same as to be righteous; as he that is not dead, is alive. Neither is there, nor can there be any middle state between death and life. Wherefore, those who have all their sins forgiven, have the blessedness of justification; and there is neither need nor use of any farther imputation of righteousness unto them. And sundry other things of the same nature are urged unto the same purpose, which will be all of them either obviated in the ensuing discourse, or answered elsewhere.
Ans. This cause is of more importance, and more evidently stated in the Scriptures, than to be turned into such niceties, which have more of philosophical subtlety, than theological solidity, in them. This exception, therefore, might be dismissed without farther answer, than what is given us in the known rule, that a truth well established and confirmed, is not to be questioned much less relinquished on every entangling sophism, though it should appear insoluble. But as we shall see, there is no such difficulty in these arguings, but what may easily be discussed. And because the matter of the plea contained in them, is made use of by sundry learned persons who yet agree with us in the substance of the doctrine of justification, namely, that it is by faith alone, without works, through the imputation of the merit and satisfaction of Christ; I shall, as briefly as I can, discover the mistakes that it proceeds upon.
1. It includes a supposition, That he who is pardoned his sins of omission and commission, is esteemed to have done all that is required of him, and to have committed nothing that is forbidden. For without this supposition, the bare pardon of sin, will neither make, constitute, nor denominate any man righteous. But this is far otherwise, nor is any such thing included in the nature of pardon. For in the
pardon of sin, neither God nor man do judge, that he who hath sinned, hath not sinned; which must be done, if he who is pardoned be esteemed to have done all that he ought, and to have done nothing that he ought not to do. If a man be brought on his trial for any evil fact, and being legally convicted thereof, is discharged by sovereign pardon; it is true, that in the eye of the law, he is looked upon as an innocent man, as unto the punishment that was due unto him; but no man thinks that he is made righteous thereby, or is esteemed not to have done that which really he hath done, and whereof he was convicted. Joab and Abiathar the priest were at the same time guilty of the same crime. Solomon gives order that Joab be put to death for his crime; but unto Abiathar he gives a pardon. Did he thereby make, declare, or constitute him righteous? Himself expresseth the contrary, affirming him to be unrighteous and guilty, only he remitted the punishment of his fault; 1 Kings ii, 26. Wherefore, the pardon of sin dischargeth the guilty person from being liable or obnoxious unto anger, wrath, or punishment, due unto his sin, but it doth not suppose, nor infer in the least, that he is thereby or ought thereon to be esteemed or adjudged to have done no evil, and to have fulfilled all righteousness. Some say, pardon gives a righteousness of innocency, but not of obedience. But it cannot give a righte ousness of innocency absolutely, such as Adam had. For he had actually done no evil. It only removeth guilt, which is the respect of sin unto punishment, ensuing on the sanction of the law. And this supposition, which is an evident mistake, animates this whole objection.
The like may be said of what is in like manner supposed, namely, that not to be unrighteous, which a man is on the pardon of sin, is the same with being righteous. For if not to be unrighteous be taken privatively, it is the same with being just or righteous: for it supposeth, that he who is so, hath done all the duty that is required of him, that he may be righteous. But not to be unrighteous negatively, as the expression is here used, it doth not do so. For at best it supposeth no more, but that a man as yet hath done nothing actually against the rule of righteousness. Now this may be when yet he hath performed none of the duties that are required of him to constitute him righteous, because the
times and occasions of them, are not yet. And so it was with Adam in the state of innocency; which is the height of what can be attained by the complete pardon of sin.
2. It proceeds on this supposition, That the law, in case of sin, doth not oblige unto punishment and obedience both; so as that it is not satisfied, fulfilled, or complied withal, unless it be answered with respect unto both. For if it doth so, then the pardon of sin, which only frees us from the penalty of the law, doth yet leave it necessary, that obedience be performed unto it, even all that it doth require. But this, in my judgment, is an evident mistake, and that such as doth not establish the law, but make it void.' And this I shall demonstrate.
1. The law hath two parts or powers. 1. Its preceptive part, commanding and requiring obedience, with a promise of life annexed: Do this and live.' 2. The sanction on
supposition of disobedience, binding the sinner unto punishment, or a meet recompense of reward. In the day thou sinnest, thou shalt die.' And every law properly so called, proceeds on these suppositions of obedience or disobedience, whence its commanding and punishing power are inseparate from its nature.
2. This law, whereof we speak, was first given unto man in innocency; and therefore, the first power of it was only in act; it obliged only unto obedience. For an innocent person could not be obnoxious unto its sanction, which contained only an obligation unto punishment, on supposition of disobedience. It could not therefore oblige our first parents unto obedience and punishment both, seeing its obligation unto punishment could not be in actual force, but on supposition of actual disobedience. A moral cause of, and motive unto, obedience it was, and had an influence into the preservation of man from sin. Unto that end it was said unto him, 'In the day thou eatest, thou shalt surely die.' The neglect hereof, and of that ruling influence which it , ought to have had on the minds of our first parents, opened the door unto the entrance of sin. But it implies a contradiction, that an innocent person should be under an actual obligation unto punishment from the sanction of the law. It bound only unto obedience, as all laws, with penalties, do before their transgression. But,