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common sense of mankind, than that sins committed against any one, must be proportionably beinous to the dignity of the being offended and abused; as it is also agreeable to the word of God, I Sam. ii. 25. “ If one man sin against another, the Judge shall judge bim;" (i. e. shall judge him, and inflict a finite punishment, such as finite judges can inflict;)" but if a man sin against the Lord, who shall intreat for him ?” This was the aggravation of sin that made Joseph afraid of it, Gen. xxxix. 9. “ How shall I commit this great wickedness, and sin against God ?” This was the aggravation of David's sin, in comparison of which he esteemed all others as nothing, because they were infinitely exceeded by it. Psalm li. 4. 6 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned.”—The eternity of the punishment of ungodly men renders it infinite; and it renders it no more than intinite ; and therefore renders no more than proportionable to the heinousness of what they are guilty of.
If there be uny evil or faultiness in sin against God, there is certainly infinite evil; for if it be any fault at all, it has an infinite aggravation, viz. that it is against an infinite object. If it be ever so small upon other accounts, yet if it be any thing, it has one infinite dimension; and so is an infinite evil. Which may be illustrated by this: If we suppose a thing to have infinite length, but no breadth and thickness, (a mere mathematical line,) it is nothing: but if it have any breadth and thickness, though never so small, and infinite length, the quantity of it is infinite; it exceeds the quantity of any thing, however broad, thick, and long, wherein these dimensions are all finite.
So that the objections made against the infinite punishment of sin, from the necessity, or rather previous certainty of the futurition of sin, arising from the unavoidable original corruption of nature, if they argue any thing, argue against any faultiness at all: for if this necessity or certainty leaves any evil at all in sin, that fault must be infinite by reason of the infinite object.
But every such objector as would argue from hence, that there is no fault at all in sin, confutes himself and shews his own insincerity in his objection. For at the same time that he objects, that men's acts are necessary, and that this kind of necessity is inconsistent with faultiness in the act, his own practice shews that he does not believe what he objects to be true: otherwise why does he at all blame men? Or why are such persons at all displeased with men, for abusive, injurious and ungrateful acts towards them ? Whatever they pretend, by this they shew that indeed they do believe that there is no necessity in men's acts that is inconsistent with blame. And if their objection be this, that this previous certainty is by God's own ordering, and that where God orders an antecedent cer
tainty of acts, he transfers all the fault from the actor on him. self; their practice shews, that at the same time they do not believe this, but fully believe the contrary: For when they are abused by men, they are displeased with men, and not with God only.
The light of nature teaches all mankind, that when an injury is voluntary, it is faulty, without any consideration of what there might be previously to determine the futurition of that evil act of the will. And it really teaches this as much to those that object and cayil most as to others; as their universal practice shews. By which it appears, that such objections are insincere and perverse. Men will mention others' corrupt nature when they are injured, as a thing that aggravates their crime, and that wherein their faultiness partly consists. How common is it for persons, when they look on themselves greatly injured by another, to inveigh against him, and aggravate his baseness, by saying, “ He is a man of a most perverse spirit: he is naturally of a selfish, niggardly, or proud and haughty temper : he is one of a base and vile disposition." And yet men's natural corrupt dispositions are mentioned as an excuse for them, with respect to their sins against God, as if they rendered them blameless.
2. That it is just with God eternally to cast off wicked men, may more abundantly appear, if we consider how much sin they are guilty of. From what has been already said, it appears, that if men were guilty of sin but in one particular, that is sufficient ground of their eternal rejection and condemnation. If they are sinners, that is enough. Merely this, might be sufficient to keep them from ever lifting up their heads, and cause them to smite on their breasts, with the pubJican that cried, “ God be merciful to me a sinner.” But sinful men are full of sin ; principles and acts of sin; their guilt is like great mountains, heaped one upon another, till the pile is grown up to heaven. They are totally corrupt, in every part, in all their faculties; in all the principles of their nature, their understandings and wills; and in all their dispositions and affections. Their heads, their hearts, are totally depraved; all the members of their bodies are only instruments of sin; and all their senses, seeing, hearing, tasting, &c. are only inlets and outlets of sin, channels of corruption. There is no thing but sin, no good at all. Rom. vii. 18. « In me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing." There is all manner of wickedness. There are the seeds of the greatest and blackest crimes. There are principles of all sorts of wickedness against men; and there is all wickedness against God. There is pride; there is enmity; there is contempt; there is quarrelling; there is Atheism; there is blasphemy. There are these things in exceeding strength; the heart is under the power of them, is sold under sin, and is a perfect slave to it. There is hard-heartedness, hardness greater than that of a rock, or an adamant-stone. There is obstinacy and perverseness, incorrigibleness and inflexibleness in sin, that will not be overcome by threatenings or promises, by awakenings or encouragements, by judgments or mercies, neither by that which is terrifying, nor that which is winning. The very blood of God our Saviour will not win the heart of a wicked man.
And there are actual wickednesses without number or measure. There are breaches of every command, in thought, word, and deed: a life full of sin ; days and nights filled up with sin; mercies abused, and frowns despised ; mercy and justice, and all the divine perfections, trampled on; and the honour of each person in the Trinity trod in the dirt. Now if one sinful word or thought has so much evil in it, as to deserve eternal destruction, how do they deserve to be eternally cast off and destroyed, that are guilty of so much sin!
II. If with man's sinfulness, we consider God's sovereignty, it may serye further to clear God's justice in the eternal rejection and condemnation of sinners, from men's cavils and objections. I shall not now pretend to determine precisely what things are, and what things are not, proper acts and exercises of God's holy sovereignty; but only, that God's sovereignty extends to the following things.
1. That such is God's sovereign power and right, that he is originally under no obligation to keep men from sinning; but may in his providence permit and leave them to sin. He was not obliged to keep either angels or men from falling. It is unreasonable to suppose, that God should be obliged, if he makes a reasonable creature capable of knowing his will, and receiving a law from him, and being subject to his moral government, at the same time to make it impossible for him to sin, or break his law. For if God be obliged to this, it destroys all use of any commands, laws, promises, or threatenings, and the very notion of any moral government of God over those reasonable creatures. For to wbat purpose would it be, for God to give such and such laws, and declare his holy will to a creature, and annex promises and threatenings to move him to bis duty, and make him careful to perform it, if the creature at the same time has this to think of, that God is obliged to make it impossible for him to break his laws? How can God's threatenings move to care or watchfulness, when, at the same time, God is obliged to render it impossible that he should be exposed to the threatenings? Or, to what purpose is it for God to give a law at all? For according to this supposition, it is God, and not the creature, that is under law. It is the lawgiver's care, and not the subject's, to see that his
law is obeyed; and this care is what the lawgiver is absolutely obliged to! If God be obliged never to permit a creature to fall, there is an end of all divine laws, or government, or authority of God over the creature; there can be no manner of use of these things.
God may permit sin, though the being of sin will certainly
on that permission; and so, by permission, he may dispose and order the event. If there were any such thing as chance, or mere contingence, and the very notion of it did not carry a gross absurdity, (as might easily be shewn that it does,) it would have been very unfit that God should have left it to mere chance, whether man should fall or no. For chance, if there should be any such thing, is undesigning and blind. And certainly it is more fit that an event of so great import. ance, and which is attended with such an infinite train of great consequences, should be disposed and ordered by infinite wisdom, than that it should be left to blind chance.
If it be said, that God need not have interposed to render it impossible for man to sin, and yet not leave it to mere contingence or blind chance neither; but might have left it with man's free-will, to determine whether to sin or no: I answer, if God did leave it to man's free-will, without any sort of disposal, or ordering (or rather, adequate cause] in the. case, whence it should be previously certain how that free-will should determine, then still that first determination of the will must be merely contingent or by chance. It could not have any antecedent act of the will to determine it; for I speak now of the very first act or motion of the will, respecting the affair that may be looked upon as the prime ground and highest source of the event. To suppose this to be determined by a foregoing act is a contradiction. God's disposing this determination of the will by his permission, does not at all infringe the liberty of the creature. It is in no respect any more inconsistent with liberty, than mere chance or contingence. For if the determination of the will be from blind, undesigning chance, it is no more from the agent himself, or from the will itself, than if we suppose, in the case, a wise divine disposal by permission.
2. It was fit that it should be at the ordering of the divine wisdom and good pleasure, whether every particular man should stand for himself, or whether the first father of mankind should be appointed as the moral and federal head and representative of the rest. If God has not liberty in this matter to determine either of these two as he pleases, it must be because determining that the first father of men should represent the rest, and not that every one should stand for him. self, is injurious to mankind. For if it be not injurious, how is it unjust ? . But it is not injurious to mankind; for there is
nothing in the nature of the case itself, that makes it better that each man should stand for himself, than that all should be represented by their common father; as the least reflection or consideration will convince any one. And if there be nothing in the nature of the thing that makes the former better for mankind than the latter, then it will follow, that they are not hurt in God's choosing and appointing the latter, rather than the former; or, which is the same thing, that it is not injurious to mankind.
3. When men are fallen, and become sinful, God by his Bovereignty has a right to determine about their redemption as he pleases. He has a right to determine whether he will redeem any, or not. He might, if he had pleased, have left all to perish, or might have redeemed all
. Or, he may redeem some, and leave others; and if he doth so, he may take whom he pleases, and leave whom he pleases. To suppose that all have forfeited his favour, and deserved to perish, and to suppose that he may not leave any one individual of them to perish, implies a contradiction, because it supposes that such an one has a claim to God's favour, and is not justly liable to perish ; which is contrary to the supposition.
It is meet that God should order all these things according to his own pleasure. By reason of his greatness and glory, by which he is infinitely above all, he is worthy to be sovereign, and that his pleasure should in all things take place. He is worthy that he should make himself his end, and that he should make nothing but his own wisdom his rule in pursuing that end, without asking leave or counsel of any, and without giving account of any of his matters. It is fit that he who is absolutely perfect, and infinitely wise, and the Fountain of all wisdom, should determine every thing [that he effects] by his own will, even things of the greatest importance. It is meet that he should be thus sovereign, because he is the first being, the eternal being, whence all other beings are. He is the creator of all things ; and all are absolutely and univer. Rally dependent on him; and therefore it is meet that he should act as the sovereign possessor of heaven and earth.
APPLICATION. In the improvement of this doctrine, I would chiefly direct myself to sinners who are afraid of damnation, in an use of conviction. This may be matter of conviction to you, that it would be just and righteous with God eternally to reject and destroy you. This is what you are in danger of. You who are a Cbristless sinner, are a poor condemned creature: God's wrath still abides upon you ; and the sentence of condemna. tion lies upon you.
You are in God's hands, and it is uncerVOL. VI.