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'verse 18. Why is my pain perpetual, and my wound incurable, which refufeth to be healed? Wilt thou be altogether unto me as a liar, and as waters that fail? These then are the groans of Jeremiah under his burden, and his desire that God would appear for his help, and no longer difappoint his hope and expectation.
As to the other complaint of Jeremiah, Chap, xx. 7. 0 Lord, thou bast deceived me, and 1 was deceived: thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed: I answer, The case plainly appears to be this i Jeremiah had cried, or proclaimed the word of the Lord to the people of Judea; but it was so far from having any good efsect upon theirs that on the contrary they made it, and Jeremiah on the account of it, the subject of their mockery and derision daily, verses 7. 8. Upon this, the Prophet resolv'd that he would make no more mention of God to them, nor speak any more in his name, verse 9. but tho' he had thus resolv'd not to speak to them any more, in the name of God, yet God thought fit to difappoint or deceive his resolution, in that he would not sufser him to sit still, and let them alone in their folly, verse 9. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bone's; and 1 was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay, that is, he could no longer refrain from declaring the word of the Lord to the people. So that God's deceiving of Jeremiah, and his being stronger than he, was his deceiving or difappointing, and overcoming his resolution of not speaking any more in the name of God, and it was not any failure of prediction, as some have imagined.
As to the case of Jonah, chap. iii. 4. Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be destroyed; I answer, the end of all divine threatening is the preventing the
evil evil threatened, either by preventing that fin and folly which makes men the objects of divine dis* pleasure, or else by bringing them to that repentance which makes them the objects of Gpd's pardoning mercy; and therefore when Jonah pVeach'd, yet forty days and Nineveh fhaii be destroyed, it was plainly to be understood in that very threatening, that is" the Ninevites did repent, and turn to God, it would be a means of preventing the evil threatened, for otherways that threatening would not have been given; for the Ninevites might justly have reason'd thus, If God had so determin'd the destruction of our city, and if he did intend that his threatening mould be so understood as that nothing should hinder the executing of it, then there was no need of this threatening, nor of his care in sending his Prophet so long and tedious a journey to publish it; because it could answer no good end, nor be of any manner of use to us; and therefore it is just and reasonable for us to inser from this very threatening, that God hath sent his Prophet in kindness to us, to warn us of our danger, and so bring us to that repentance and reformation which may avert the evil threaten'd; and it is plain that the Ninevites did thus understand the threatening; for if they had understood it so that God would not, upon any terms, avert the evil threatened, then this threatening would effectually have driven them to despair, but it could not have brought them to repentance, which we find it did. If it should be here replied, what is this to falve the truth of God, who faid, expressly, yet forty days and Nineveh shall be destroyed, when at the fame time he forefaw that it would not be destroy'd? I answer, as God forefaw that Nineveh would not be destroy'd, so he .forefaw that the threatening that destruction would be the very means by which it would be prevented; "and therefore when God
faid, yet forty days and Nintrveh Jhall be destroy'd, he could not, with any colour of reason or justice, be supposed to intend any more by his threatening than this, viz. that as the Ninevites, by their sin and folly, had made themselves the objects of God's displeasure, so, if they did not repent and turn to God, his patience and long-suffering should be exercis'd no longer than forty days more towards them. And as this is a just interpretation of God's threatenings, from the nature and reason of the thing, so it is agreeable to that declaration which God made by Jeremiahs chap, xviii. 7—«. 10. At what instant I Jhall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; if that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I wilt repent ef the evil that I thought to do uuto them. And at ivhat time I jbaU speak concerning a nation, and. concerning a kingdom, to builds and to plant it; if it do evil in m) fights that it obey not my voice, then I will repmi of the good wherewith I said I would benefit them.
Thus we see that those texts, which the objection supposes to impeach God of falshood and injustice, when they are tried by the standard of human reason, are very Consistent with both. May we all so know the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent, as that we may be conformed to his likeness, and may be changed from glory to glory, as. by the spirit of the Lord-.
A N t.
E N Q^U I R Y
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Concerning Infinite justice, and infinite satisfaction.
THIS enquiry is two-fold, first, whether there be any such thing as infinite justice? and, secondly, whether there be any such thing as infinite satisfaction? First, Whether there be any such thing as infinite justice? In order to answer this enquiry, it is necessary to state the notions both of infinite, and of justice. Infinite, is that which is without measure, bounds, or limitation, and to which there can be no addition. Justice, is the balance of common equity, by which is weighed out or dispensed good, and evil, in a proportion exact and equal to the merit, or demerit of things, or to any other right of claim. So that justice, in the administration of good, is the exact mean between bounty and fraud; the balance of justice standing upon such an even poize, as that if it turn to one side it is bounty, if to the other it is fraud: and the exercising either bounty, or fraud, in the administration of good, is-a. breaking the balance of justice, that is, it is unjust, strictly speaking. Again, justice, in the administration of evil, i$ the exact mean between mercy and cruelty; the balance of justice standing upon such an even poize, as that if it turn to one side it is mercy, if to the other it is cruelty: and the exercising of either mercy or cruelty, in the administration of evil, is a breaking the balance of justice, that is, it is unjust, strickly speaking. This being so, it follows, that justice admits of no such distinctions as finite or infinite, because in justice there arc no degrees; justice being the lame in all its acts, none is greater or less than others, all and every of its acts, being equally great alike : for in the administration of evil, it is as great an act of justice to proportion a lesser evil to a lesser crime, as it is to proportion a greater evil to a greater crime: it is the highest act of justice in an inseriour magistrate to punish the smallest offence with a proportionable punishment: and it is the lowest act of justice, even in the supreme God, to punish the greatest offence with a proportionable punishment; justice being the fame in both cases, viz. an equaling the punishment to the demerit of the offence. Justice may be administered by a finite, or by an infinite being, and it may be administred to a finite, orto an infinite being, but still justice is the fame in either: and if we do suppose an infinite crime (for crimes do admit of degrees, some are greater, some are less) I fay, supposing we do admit of an infinite crime, all that justice isconcern'd to do, with rer lation to this infinite crime, is to proportion a punishment in an exact equality to the demerit of this infinite offence: and there is as much as this done in proportioning a punishment in an exact equality to the least offence possible. The case is the fame with relation to justice in the administration ot good; from all which it appears, that there is no such thing, properly speaking, as infinite justice.