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Serm.vs.0f Punishment is, the evil 'Tendency which Sin must have, if unpunished. For, all evil Tendency apart, to punish would be to make the Being punished miserable, without a sufficient Cause: Now, though Sin, as something personal, cannot be removed from the Sinner; yet the ill Consequences of Sin unpunished may be removed, by a valuable Consideration, fitted to obtain every End, which could be proposed from his personal Punishment, and offered and accepted in lieu of it. When there is no Reason/or putting a Creature to Pain, when no desirable End or Advantage can be compassed by it; there is always a Reafonagainjl doing it, viz. that it is a Pain, unnecejjary Pain. Some Writers, however, have asserted, that, notwithstanding all the Ends of Government could be answered, and the general Happiness secured, by the Interposition of another Person; yet - such a Procedure would be contrary to the Truth and Right of the Cafe. But what Truth would be violated? Not certainly moral Truth. For a Truth, which has no Reference to Happiness^ must be. ?. Matter of Indifference j it must be a speculative unconcerning Truth, and therefore
fore not a moral Truth. If an Action, sermv1which was neither designed for, nor is productive of, Benefit or Harm, be, as it undoubtedly is, an indifferent Action j an Action which, in the Whole of it's Effects, increases Happiness and lessens Misery, (supposing a right Intention in the Agent,) must be morally good, in Proportion to the Moment of Good, which it produces j and therefore such a Procedure, as was calculated for the general Good, without any Injury done, as I shall prove immediately, to the mediating Party, must be morally good.'
It may be objected, that in the Subject, in which the Fault is, in that fame Subject should the Punishment be 5 and that it is a flagrant Injustice, to punish an innocent Person instead of the Guilty.
And, it is granted, that it is Injustice to punish a Person, merely because he is innocent: But it is not so, notwithstanding he is innocent, when he deliberately chuses to undergo the Punishment 3 when he has an uncontested Right to dispose of himself, and when great and important Ends are answered by it. There can be no Injustice, where there is no Invasion of any Property j Vol. II. D d and
Serm^vi. an(j there could be no Invasion of any Property; when our Saviour, by a free, generous, unconstrained Act resigned, what he had an undisputed Right to lay down, his own Life. Nor is it any Impeachment of God's Goodness to let an Evil of Suffering take Place, an Evil, which was productive of an universal prepollent Good. It could be no Injury to our Saviour, for another Reason, viz. that he received an ample Recompence for the Hardships, which he sustained in his human Nature, by distin.guished Rewards, and an Accession of Glory to it. The Arguments, which are brought to prove, that he, who was no ;Sinoer, ought not to have been a Sufferer for us, prove as strongly, at least, that he ought to have been no Sufferer at all. For he no more deserved those Sufferings on his own Account, than he did on ours. And yet we fee innocent Persons; Children, for Instance, who are capable of no actual Guilt, suffer daily. And if they may suffer for no assignable End, which we can comprehend; Why might not our Saviour suffer for so valuable an End, as to avert Misery from, and procure an endless Felici. ty for, all penitent Sinners? Nor is it any ... "4 . .more more an Absurdity, that God should per- f^Y*: mit a guiltless Person, to part with that, which he has a Right to dispose of, to save a whole World from Ruin 3 than that he should command an innocent Person, to give away some Part of his Possessions and Property, to rescue a Family, that has ">• volved itself, from Ruin. In both Cases the Innocent suffer for the Guilty; and part with what is dear and valuable to them, to promote, what is more dear and valuable j the Good of their Fellow-Creatures. Had Men as full a Power lodged in them, to dispose of their Lives, as they have, confessedly, of their Money, for the Benefit of Mankind 3 such Acts would indeed be Injustice, when imposed upon them: But, when they proceeded from their own Choice and free Conserft, they would be Instances of heroic Goodness.
It has been represented as a strange Expedient, to deter Beings from Sin, or to shew Displeasure against it 3 that an innocent Person should suffer instead of the Sinner: To insist upon this, we are told, is obstinately to persist in Error, without the least Face of an Argument. To which I answer; That there is an Obstinacy in D d a Error
Error some where or other: But where it lyes, will appear, by and by, by laying open the Chicanery of this Objection: Which is as follows. The Objectors consider our Saviour abstractedly, as to his own Nature; without considering him in his relative Capacity, as to the Office he undertook* Whatever Right he had to be treated as an innocent Person, antecedently to his offering himself as a Ransom ;.-yet, when he had offered himself as a Substitute, he voluntarily waved and relinquished that Right: And therefore might, be treated, not according to that Right which he had foregone, or made a Ceslion of; but according to the Capacity which he had assumed. Now to apply what is here laid down, in order to unravel this Piece of Sophistry: They very artfully drop the Idea of Substitute, retaining only that of an innocent Person: They take into the Account his Nature, omitting his Office: And thus, suppressing a material Part of the Truth, they confound unattentive Readers, (which the Bulk of Readers ever will be) with this specious Fallacy, viz. To punish an innocent Person, as our Saviour was, instead of the Guilty, is so far from being a Testimony