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and the transgression of a law that is denomi. nated holy, and just, and good; surely it cannot be unjust to punish it.
The relation between sin and punishment is not, says Bishop Stillingfleet, the result of God's arbitrary will; but is founded in the nature of the things;: so that as it is just for God to punish offenders, so it would be unjust to punish the most innocent person without any. respect to sin.'
The penal sanction of the law runs thus, • Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them.' Now this awful sanction is just, or it is not: if
it be just, it cannot be unrighteous to enforce , it; if it be unjust, it was an act of injustice to appoint it. One of these consequences must inevitably follow.
Was the divine Lawgiver sincere, I would ask; did he or did he not mean what he said when he prohibited sin, and annexed a penalty to the. precept? If sincere, his truth and faithfulness. stand pledged to inflict the punishment incurred. • Shall Truth fail to keep her word, Justice di. vine not hasten to be just!' To suppose that he who is emphatically styled the God of Truth the true and faithful witness, should bear testi. mony to a falsehood-should be guilty of such duplicity as would stamp infamy on the character of man, is the height of impiety. But the Lord is the God of truth, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indig. nation- Justice and judgment are the habitation of his throne- he will judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth.” To imagine that sin can escape punishment, is highly dishonourable to the moral government of God. For as moral precepts are a transcript of the holiness and rectitude of the divine nature, it is impossible that the sanction by which infinite justice has guarded these precepts should either be annulled or relaxed. If the infliction of punishment for crime depended on the mere sovereignty of the divine will, sin, instead of being that abominable thing which his soul hateth, might become the object of his appro
bation and delight, which it is blasphemy to suppose.
The severities of God against sin, says the admirable Charnock, bare not vain scare-crows, they have their foundation in the righteousness of his nature; 'tis because he is a righteous and holy God, that he will not forgive our transgressions and sins: that is, that he will punish them. -Whatsoever is contrary to the nature of God, will fall under the justice of God; he would else violate his own nature, deny his own perfection, seem to be out of love with his own glory and life. He doth not hate it out of choice, but from the immutable propension of his nature; 'tis not so free an act of his will, as the creation of man and angels, which he might have forborn as well as effected. As the detestation of sin results from the universal rectitude of his nature, so the punishment of sin follows upon that, as he is the righteous governor of the world; 'tis as much against his nature not to punish it, as it is against his nature not to loath it; he would cease to be holy, if he ceased to hate it; and he would cease to hate it, if he ceased to punish it. Nei
ther the obedience of our Saviour's life, nor the strength of his cries, would put a bar to the cup of his passion; God so hated sin, that when it was but imputed to his Son, without any commission of it, he would bring a hell upon his soul. Certainly, if God could have hated sin without punishing it, his Son had never felt the smart of his wrath: his love to his Son had been strong enough to have caused him to forbear, had not the holiness of his nature been stronger to move him to inflict a punishment according to the demerit of sin. God cannot but be holy, therefore cannot but be just, because injustice is.a part of unholiness.?
Now, if it be a fact that man has transgressed the rule given for the direction of his conduct, the curse denounced in the law must of neces. sity be executed; but if men are saved, and Christ, as their surety, never bore this curse, it has not been executed; it must have been annulled, which is directly contrary to what he himself inculcated when he said. Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I
say unto you, till'heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” This emphatical and comprehensive language has reference both to the precepts and the penalty of the law: conformity to which was illustriously exemplified in our adorable Substitute; the former by his immaculate life; and the latter, when he poured out his soul unto death, and was numbered with transgressors.
"In the holy nature, the righteous life, and satisfactory death of God's own Son, sent forth in the likeness of sinful flesh, we have a perfect comment upon the precepts and penalties of the law as a covenant of works. Here we are taught what we must be, and what we must do, and what we must suffer, before the law can accept our persons, or regard our works, or forgive our sins. The obedience unto death of the Son of God in our nature, is a glass that fully reflects the perfect righteousness of the law. This doctrine is the ministration of death and condemnation to every unbeliever: for, if the law did not abate the smallest jot or tittle, either in its