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duct of kings and rulers bring misery on their subjects, who are not accessary to their follies. The sins of parents, in like manner, bring poverty, diseases, and even death, on their innocent children.-On the other hand, the wisdom and justice of princes, are productive of happiness to their people: The virtues also and heroic deeds of parents bring honours and riches to their defcendants, which remain with them often to the latest pofterity.
This constitution of God, whereby evils are brought on imó. cent persons, for the faults of others in which they were nowise concerned; and blessings are conveyed to the unworthy, for the good deeds of others to which they contributed nothing, is not repugnant to the ideas which mankind entertain of juftice and goodness. For, by universal consent, in all well regulated human "governments, without any imputation of injustice, a similar constitution is established by law, through which, on the one hand, children are involved in the punishment inflicted on their parents, for crimes of which the children are entirely innocent; and on the other, are made to share in the honours and rewards conferred on their parents, for virtues, to which the children contributed nothing.
Since then, by the appointment of men, so many evils befal the innocent, and so many benefits come to the undeserving, on account of actions performed by others, in which they had not the least concern, why should it be thought inconsistent with the justice and goodness of God, as moral governor of the world, to have subjected Adam's posterity to fin and death on account of his offence, notwithstanding they were in no respect accessary thereto? And having subjected them to these evils, it certainly must appear both proper and just, that he should have provided a remedy for them by the obedience of his Son, although the persons benefited by it, contributed nothing to his obedience. Wherefore, the account which revelation hath given of the introduction of sin and misery into the world, and of the method in which these evils are remedied, cannot be found fault with, although in either case, no regard was had to the personal demerit of the individuals affected thereby : But in both, God acted agreeably to the sovereignty of his own will.
To prevent any mistake, however, on this head, let it be observed, that from what hath been advanced, it by no means follows, that mankind are not to be rewarded or punished according to the nature of their own deeds.' For, as B. Butler hath observed, Analogy, part ii. chap. 5. sect. 7. “The world's “ being under the righteous government of God, does indeed « imply, that finally and upon the whole, every one, shall re« ceive according to his personal deserts : And the general doc", trine of the whole scripture is, That this shall be the com“ pletion of the divine government. But during the progress, « and, for ought we know, even in order to the completion of “ this moral scheme, vicarious punishments may be fit and ab“ folutely neceffary.” And if so, vicarious rewards may be neceffary for the fame end.
Secondly, To the foregoing vindication of the account given in revelation of the ruin and recovery of the human species, it may be objected, that the evils, which, according to the present constitution of things, are brought on the innocent by the vices of the guilty, and the benefits which the undeserving receive through the good deeds of the virtuous, are things merely acci. dental, owing to the natural relations by which mankind are connected : Consequently, that no argument can be drawn from such a constitution, to prove that it was consistent with the justice and goodness of God, to subject Christ, an innocent person, to sufferings and death, for the sake either of saving the guilty from the penal consequences of their transgreslions, or of bestowing favours on the undeserving. True. . Such an argument does not follow from that part of the constitution of things just now explained : But it follows from another part
of the same constitution, equally original and equally evident. For to use Butler's words immediately following those already quoted: “ Men by their follies run themselves into extreme distress, into
difficulties which would be absolutely fatal to them, were it “ not for the interposition and affistance of others. God com« mands by the law of nature, that we afford them this affistance,
cases where we cannot do it without “ pains and labour and sufferings to ourselves. And we see in o what variety' of ways, one person's sufferings contribute to " the relief of another; and how or by what particular means, “ this comes to pass or follows from the constitution and laws « of nature which come under our notice: and being fami“ liarized to it, men are not shocked with it.” For example, many, by their vices and follies, bring on themselves diseases, and a variety of accidents, which would often prove fatal to them, were it not for the timely assistance afforded to them by others, who, in lending them that assistance, fometimes expose themselves to great dangers, and sometimes subject themselves to long and painful sufferings. Having, therefore, in the present constitution of things, instances of innocent_persons suffering voluntarily, by the express appointment of God, extreme evils, for the sake of alleviating or removing the temporal penal consequences of the sins of others, it cannot be thought inconsistent with the justice and goodness of God, in his original plan of the government of our world, to have provided that the eternal penal consequences, which he hath connected with sin, shall not in every case and to every person, inevitably follow their transgression : and even that this deliverance should be accomplished by a person, different from the finner himself, who, for a purpose so benevolent, voluntarily exposed himself to the greatest sufferings for a time. To object against this appointment, is in reality to object against God's original constitution of nature, and against the daily course of his providence in the government of the world. For, as the before mentioned ex. cellent author hath observed, Anal. part ii. ch. 5. sect. 7. “ The « world is a constitution or system, whose parts have a mutual « reference to each other: And there is a scheme of things gra. dually carrying on, called the course of nature, to the
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very great o cause,
carry“ ing on of which, God has appointed us, in various ways, to o contribute. And when in the daily course of natural provi“ dence, it is appointed that innocent people should suffer for “ the faults of the guilty, this is liable to the very same objection « as the instance we are now considering. The infinitely greater “ importance of that appointment of Christianity which is « objected against, does not hinder but it may, as it plainly is,
an appointment of the very same kind, with what the world " affords us daily examples of. Nay, if there were any force us at all in the objection, it would be stronger, in one respect, « against natural providence, than against Christianity. Be
" cause, under the former, we are in many cases commanded, “ and even necessitated, whether we will or no, to suffer for “ the faults of others. Whereas the sufferings of Christ were
Thirdly, To the efficacy of the sufferings and death of Christ in preventing the future penal consequences of fin, it hath been objected, That we do not understand how they can have any such efficacy. True; we do not understand this, because revelation hath only discovered to us the fact, without explaining the manner in which it is brought to pass. Nevertheless from the filence of scripture, and from our ignorance of the manner in which Christ's sufferings and death operate, in preventing the future penal consequences of sin, it doth not follow, that his offerings and death have that efficacy, by an arbitrary and tyrannical appointment. They may have it in the way of natural consequence. For, to use B. Butler's words, Anal. part ii. c. 5.
" What has been often alleged in justification of this “ doctrine, even from the apparent natural tendency of this “ method of our redemption ; its tendency to vindicate the au“ thority of God's laws, and deter his creatures from fin; this “ has never yet been answered, and is, I think, plainly unan• swerable: though I am far from thinking it an aceount of o the whole of the case. But without taking this into consi“ deration, it abundantly appears, from the observations above “ made, that this objection, is not an objection against Chrisor tianity, but against the whole general constitution of nature. « And if it were to be considered as an objection against “ Christianity, or considering it as it is, an objection against 6 the constitution of nature; it amounts to no more in conclu« fion than this, That a divine appointment cannot be necessary « or expedient, because the Objector does not discern it to be a fo: though he must own that the nature of the case is such,
renders him incapable of judging whether it be so or not, “ or of seeing it to be necessary, though it were fo.”—Farther, as the fame excellent reasoner observes in the same page, “ Though it is highly right, and the most pious exercise of our “ understanding, to, enquire with due reverence into the ends “ and reasons of God's dispensations : Yet when those reasons
“ are concealed, to argue from our ignorance, That such dis“pensations cannot be from God, is infinitely absurd. The “ presumption of this kind of objections, seems almost lost in “ the folly of them; And the folly of them is yet greaters “ when they are urged, as they usually are, against things in “ Christianity, analogous or like to those natural dispensations “ of providence, which are matter of experience. Let reason “ be kept to, and if any part of the scripture-account of the “ redemption of the world by Christ, can be shewn to be really contrary to it, let the scripture, in the name of God, be
But let not such poor creatures as we, go on « in objecting against an infinite scheme, that we do not “ see the necessity or usefulness of all its parts, and call this “ reasoning."
Fourthly, To the efficacy of the sufferings and death of Christ in preventing the future penal consequences of sin, it hath been objected, that it is unneceffary; because finners being rendered capable of pardon by repentance, God, whose goodness is infinite, will pardon them without any atonement: that is, he will in consequence of the finner's repentance, prevent the future penal consequences of his fins from befalling him. But, before an objection of this kind is urged, the objector ought to know, whether there are any reasons which make the punishment of sin necessary, under the moral government of God.' And if there are such reasons, whether they may be dispensed with in every case where repentance takes place. And what effect the dispensing with these reasons, and the pardoning of the finner simply on his repentance, would have on the other subjects of God. To the determining of these questions, such a knowledge of the whole plan of God's moral government, and of the relation of its various parts to each other, and of the purposes for which, and the means by which he carries on his government, is neceffáry, as doth not fall within the comprehenfion of human reason. In such a state of ignorance, for any one to determine, in opposition to the scheme of salvation made known in revelation, that God may, and will pardon finners simply on their repentance, seems not a little presump