The harmony of the divine attributes in the contrivance and accomplishment of man's redemption by the Lord Jesus Christ, or, Discourses wherein is shewed how the wisdom, mercy, justice, holiness, power, and truth of God are glorified in that great and blessed work
Bates, William, 1625-1699.
Page  222

CHAP. XII.

Divine Justice concurs with Mercy in the work of our Redemption. The Reasons why we are Redeemed by the Satisfaction of Justice are specified: to de∣clare Gods hatred of Sin, to vindicate the honour of the Law, to prevent the secure commission of Sin. These Ends are obtained in the Death of Christ. The reality of the Satisfaction made to Divine Justice considered. The requisites in order to it. The ap∣pointment of God, who in this transaction is to be considered not as a Judg, that is Minister of the Law, but as Governour. His right of Jurisdiction to relax the Law as to the execution of it. His Will declared to accept of the compensation made. The consent of our Redeemer was necessary. He must be perfectly Holy. He must be God and Man.

THe Deity in it self is Simple and Pure, without mixture or variety: The Scripture ascribes Attributes to God for our clearer understanding. And those as essential in Him are simply one: They are distinguish'd only with respect to the diverse objects on which they are terminated, and the diffe∣rent effects that proceed from them.

The two great Attributes which are exercised to∣wards reasonable Creatures in their lapsed state, are Mercy and Justice: these admirably concur in the work of our Redemption. Although God spared guilty Man for the honour of his Mercy, yet He spared not his own Son, who became a Surety for the Page  223 offender, but delivered Him up to a cruel Death, for the glory of his Justice. For the clearer understan∣ding of this, three things are to be considered;

1. The Reasons why we are redeemed by the Sa∣tisfaction of Justice.

2. The Reality of the Satisfaction made by our Redeemer.

3. The compleatness and perfection of it. Con∣cerning the first there are three different Opinions, among those who acknowledge the reality of Satis∣faction.

1. That 'tis not possible that Sin should be par∣doned without Satisfaction. For Justice being a natural and necessary excellency in God, hath an unchangable respect to the qualities which are in the Creatures: That as the Divine Goodness is necessa∣rily exercised towards a Creature perfectly holy, so Justice is in punishing the guilty, unless a Satis∣faction intervene. And if it be not possible, con∣sidering the perfection of the Deity, that Holiness should be unrewarded, far less can it be, that Sin should be unpunisht: since the exercise of Justice, upon which Punishment depends, is more necessary than that of Goodness, which is the cause of Re∣muneration. For the Rewards which Bounty dispenses are pure Favours, whereas the Punish∣ments which Justice inflicts, are due. In short, Since Justice is a Perfection, 'tis in God in a supreme de∣gree, and being infinite 'tis inflexible. This Opi∣nion is asserted by several Divines of eminent Learning.

The Second Opinion is, That God by his Abso∣lute Dominion and Prerogative, might have releas'd the Sinner from Punishment without any Satis∣faction. Page  224 For as by his Sovereignty He transfer'd the Punishment from the guilty to the innocent; so He might have forgiven Sin, if no Redeemer had in∣terposed. From hence it follows, that the Death of Christ for the Expiation of Sin was necessary only with respect to the Divine Decree.

3. The Third Opinion is, That considering God in this transaction as qualified with the Office of Su∣preme Judg and Governor of the World, who hath given just Laws to direct his Creatures in their Obe∣dience, and to be the rule of his proceedings with them as to Rewards and Punishments, He hath so far restrain'd the exercise of his Power, that upon the breach of the Law, either it must be executed upon the Sinner, or if extraordinarily dispenst with, it must be upon such terms as may secure the Ends of Government: and those are His own Honour, and publick Order, and the Benefit of those that are governed. And upon these accounts 'twas requisite, supposing the merciful design of God to pardon Sin, that his Righteousness should be declared in the Sufferings of Christ. I will distinctly open this.

In the Law the Sovereignty and Holiness of God eminently appear: And there are two things in all Sins, which expose the Offender justly to Punish∣ment:

1. A Contempt of God's Sovereignty, and in that respect there is a kind of equality between them. He that offends in one,*is guilty of all, they being ratified by the same Authority. And from hence 'tis, that Guilt is the natural Passion of Sin, that alwaies ad∣heres to it. For as God hath a Judicial Power to inflict Punishment upon the Disobedient by vertue of his Soveraignty, so the desert of Punishment Page  225 arises from the despising it in the violation of his Commands.

2. In every Sin there is a contrariety to Gods Ho∣liness. And in this the natural turpitude of Sin consists, which is receptive of degrees. From hence arises Gods hatred of Sin, which is as essential as his Love to Himself: the infinite Purity and Recti∣tude of his Nature, infers the most perfect abhor∣rence of whatever is opposite to it.*The righteous Lord loves righteousness, but the wicked his soul hates. Now the Justice of God is founded in his Sovereign∣ty and his Holiness, and the reason why 'tis exer∣cised against Sin, is not an arbitrary Constitution, but his Holy Nature, to which▪ Sin is repugnant. These things being premised, it follows, That God in the relation of a Governor is Protector of those Sacred Laws, which are to direct the Reasonable Creature. And as 'twas most reasonable that in the first giving the Law, He should lay the strongest restraint upon Man for preventing Sin, by the threatning of Death, the greatest evil in it self, and in the estimation of Mankind; so 'tis most congruous to Reason, when the command was broke by Mans Rebellion, that the Penalty should be inflicted either on his Person, according to the immediate intent of the Law, or something equivalent should be done, that the Majesty and Purity of God might appear in his Justice, and there might be a visible discovery of the value He puts on Obedience.

The life of the Law depends upon the execution of it: for impunity extenuates Sin in the account of Men, and incourages to the free commission of it. If Pardon be easily obtained, Sin wil be easily committed. The first temptation was prevalent by this perswasi∣on, Page  226 that no punishment would follow. Besides, if up∣on the bold violation of the Law no punishment were inflicted, not only the glory of God's Holiness would be obscured, as if He did not love Righteousness and hate Sin, but suffered the contempt of the one, and the commission of the other without controul; but it would either reflect upon His Wisdom, as if He had not upon just reason establisht an alliance between the Offence and the Penalty: or upon His Power, as if He were not able to vindicate the Rights of Heaven. And after His giving a Law, and declaring the ac∣cording to the tenor of it, He would dispense Re∣wards and Punishments, if Sin were unrevenged, it would lessen the sacredness of his Truth in the esteem of Men. So that the Law, and Lawgiver would be ex∣posed to contempt. By all which it appears, that the Honour of God was infinitely concerned in His requiring satisfaction for the breach of his Laws.

Temporal Magistrates are bound to execute wise and equal Laws, for the preservation of publick order, and civil societies. 'Tis true, there be some cases wherein the Lawgiver may be forced to dispense with the Law, as when the sparing of an offender is more advantage to the State than his punishment: Besides, there is a superior Tribunal to which great Offenders are obnoxious, and good Magistrates, when through weakness they are fain to spare the guilty, refer them to God's Judgment. But 'tis otherwise in the Divine Government: For God is infinitely free from any necessity of Compliance. There is no exigency of Government that requires, that any Offenders should escape his Severity. Neither is there any Justice above his, which might exact Sa∣tisfaction of them. Besides, the Majesty of his Laws Page  227 is more Sacred than of those which preserve Earthly States, and ought to be more inviolable. The sum is, to declare Gods hatred of Sin which is essential to his nature, to preserve the honour of the Law which otherwise would be securely despised, to prevent sin by keeping up in Men an holy fear to offend God, which should be an eternal respect of the rational Creature to Him, 'twas most fit, that the presumptu∣ous breach of Gods Command should not be unpu∣nished. Now when the Son of God was made a Sacri∣fice for Sin, and by a bloody Death made expiation of it, the World is convinced, how infinitely hateful Sin is to him, the dignity of the Law is maintained, and Sin is most effectually discouraged. There is the same terror, though not the same rigor, as if all man∣kind had been finally condemned. Thus it appears how becoming God it was, to accomplish our Salva∣tion in such a manner, that Justice and Mercy are revealed in their most noble and eminent effects, and operations.

2. The reality of the satisfaction made to Divine Justice is next to be proved. This is the center, and heart of the Christian Religion, from whence all vi∣tal and comforting influences are derived: and for the opening of it, I will first consider the requisites in order to it: which are

1. The Appointment of God, whose Power and Will are to be considered in this transaction.

1. His Power: for 'tis an act of supremacy to ad∣mit that the sufferings of another should be effectual to redeem the offender. God doth not in this affair sustain the Person of a Judge, that is the Minister of the Law, and cannot free the guilty by transferring Page  228 the punishment on another, but is to be considered as Governour, who may by pure Jurisdiction dispense in the execution of the Law, upon those consi∣derations which fully answer the ends of Govern∣ment.

The Law is not executed according to the Letter of it, for then no sinner can be saved: but repenting Believers are free from condemnation. Nor is it abro∣gated, for then no obligation remains as to the du∣ty, or penalty of it: but Men are still bound to o∣bey it, and impenitent Infidels are still under the Curse: The Wrath of God abides upon them. But 'tis relaxt as to the punishment, by the merciful con∣descension of the Lawgiver.

Some Laws are not capable of relaxation in their own nature: because there is included moral iniqui∣ty in the relaxation. As the commands to love God, and obey Conscience, can never lose their binding force. 'Tis an universal rule that suffers no excepti∣on, God cannot deny himself; therefore he can ne∣ver allow sin, that directly opposes the perfections of His Nature. Besides, some Laws cannot be re∣laxt ex hypothesi, upon the account of the Divine De∣cree which makes them irrevocable, as that all who die in their impenitency shall be damned. Now there was no express sign annext to the Sanction of the origi∣nal Law, to intimate, that it should be unalterable as to the letter of it. The threatning declared the desert of Sin in the Offender, and the right of pu∣nishing in the Superior; but 'tis so to be understood, as not to frustrate the power of the Law-giver, to relax the punishment upon wise and just reasons.

The Law did neither propound, nor exclude this Page  229 expedient: for judging without passion against the Sinner, it is satisfied with the punishment of the Crime. For 'tis not the evil of the sufferer that is primarily designed by the Law, but the preservation of publick order, for the honour of the Lawgiver, and the benefit of those that are subjects. So that the relaxing the punishment, as to the person of the Sin∣ner, by compensation, fully answers the intent of the Law.

2. As by the right of Jurisdiction God might re∣lax the Law, and appoint a Mediatour to interpose by way of Ransom, so he hath declared his will to accept of Him. The Law in strictness obliged the Sinning person to suffer, so that he might have re∣fused any other Satisfaction. Therefore the whole Work of our Redemption is referred to His Will as the primary cause.* Our Saviour was sent into the World by the order of God: He was sealed, that is, authorised for that great Work by commission from Him. He was called to His Office, by the voice of his Father from heaven,*Thou art my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. God anointed him with the HolyGhost, and with Power, which signifies as the enduing of Him with the Graces of the Spirit, so the investing Him in the dignity of Mediator, as Kings, Priests, and Prophets were. And both were necessary: for his Graces without his Office are unprofitable to us, and His Office without His capacity, of no advantage. In short, the Apostle observes this as the peculiar ex∣cellency of the New Covenant, and the foundati∣on of our hopes, that the Mediatour was constitu∣ted by a solemn Oath, The Lord hath sworn,*and will not repent, thou art a Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

Page  2302. The Consent of our Redeemer was necessary, that he might by Sufferings satisfie for us. For being the Lord from Heaven, there was no Superiour Authority to command, or Power to compel him. 'Tis true, having become our Surety, 'twas ne∣cessary He should be accountable to the Law: But the first undertaking was most free. When one hath entred into Bonds to pay the Debt of an insolvent person, he must give satisfaction; but 'tis an act of liberty and choice to make himself liable.* Our Saviour tells us, It behoved Christ to suffer; he doth not say that the Son of God should suffer, but that Christ. This Title signifies the same Person in substance, but not in the same respect and consi∣deration. Christ is the Second Person cloathed with our Nature. There was no necessity that obliged God to appoint his Son, or the Son to accept the Office of Mediator; But when the Eternal Son had undertook that charge, and was made Christ, that is, assumed our Nature in order to redeem us, 'twas necessary that He should suffer.

Besides, His Consent was necessary upon ano∣ther account. For the Satisfaction doth not arise meerly from the Dignity of his Person, but from the Law of substitution, whereby He put himself in our stead, and voluntarily obliged Himself to suffer the Punishment due to us. The efficacy of his Death is by vertue of the Contract between the Father and Him, of which there could be no cause but pure Mercy, and His voluntary Condescension.

Now the Scripture declares the willingness of Christ, particularly at his entrance into the World, Page  231 and at his Death. Upon His comming into the World, He begins his Life by the internal Obla∣tion of Himself to his Father; Sacrifice and Offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: that is, He entirely resigned himself to be Gods Servant, Burnt-Offering and Sin-Offering hast thou not required. Then said I, Lo, I come,*in the volume of thy book 'tis written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God, yea thy Law is within my heart. He saw the Divine Decree, and embrac'd it; the Law was in his Heart, and fully possest all his Thoughts and Affections, and had a commanding influence upon his Life. And his Willingness was fully exprest by Him, when He approacht to His last Sufferings. For al∣though He declin'd Death as Man, having natural and innocent desires of Self-Preservation, yet as Mediator he readily submitted to it. Not my Will, but thine be done, was his voice in the Garden. And this argued the compleatness and fixedness of his Will, that notwithstanding his aversation from Death absolutely considered, yet with an unabated election He still chose it as the means of our Salva∣tion. No involuntary Constraint was laid upon him, to force him to that submission; But the sole causes of it were his free Compliance with his Fa∣thers Will, and his tender Compassion towards Men. He saith, I have power to lay down my life,*and power to take it up; this command I received of my Father. In his Death, Obedience and Sacrifice were united. The Typical Sacrifices were led to the Al∣tar, but the Lamb of God presented Himself:* 'tis said, He gave himself for us, to signifie his willing∣ness in dying. Now the Freeness of our Redeemer Page  232 in dying for us, qualified his Sufferings to be meri∣torious.* The Apostle tells us, that By the obedience of one many are made righteous: that is, By his volun∣tary Sufferings we are justified: for without his Consent, his Death could not have the respect of a punishment for our Sins. No Man can be compel∣led to pay anothers Debt, unless he make himself Surety for it. Briefly, The Appointment of God, and the Undertaking of Christ, to redeem us from the Curse of the Law by his suffering it, are the Founda∣tion of the New-Testament.

3. He that interpos'd as Mediator must be per∣fectly Holy, otherwise he had been liable to Justice for his own Sin. And guilty Blood is impure and cor∣rupt, apter to stain by its effusion and sprinkling, than to purge away Sin. The Apostle joins these two as inseparable,*He appeared to take away Sin, and in Him is no sin. The Priesthood under the Law was imperfect; as for other reasons, so for the sins of the Priests. Aaron the first and chief of the Levi∣tical Order, was guilty of gross Idolatry, so that Reconciliation could not be obtained by their Mi∣nistry: For how can one Captive ransom another, or Sin expiate Sin? But our Mediator was absolute∣ly innocent, without the least tincture of Sin original, or actual. He was conceived in a miraculous man∣ner, infinitely distant from all the impurities of the earth. That which is produced in an ordinary way receives its propriety from second Causes, and con∣tracts the defilement that cleaves to the whole spe∣cies: Whatever is born of blood, and the will of the flesh, that is form'd of the substance of the Flesh, and by the sensual Appetite is defiled: but though He Page  233 was form'd of the substance of the Virgin, yet by vertue of an Heavenly Principle, according to the words of the Angel to her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee,*and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that Holy thing that shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God. He came in the appearance only of sinful flesh. As the Brazen Ser∣pent had the figure,* and not the poison of the fiery Serpent. He was without actual Sin; He foil'd the Tempter in all his arts and methods wherewith he tried Him. He resisted the Lust of the Flesh, by refusing to make the stones Bread to asswage his Hunger; and the Lust of the Eyes, in despising the Kingdoms of the World with all their Treasures; and the Pride of Life, when he would not throw him∣self down, that by the interposing of Angels for His rescue, there might be a visible proof that He was the Son of God. The Accuser himself confest Him to be the Holy One of God:* he found no cor∣ruption within Him, and could draw nothing out of him. Judas that betrayed him, and Pilate that con∣demned him, acknowledged his Innocence. He perfectly fulfill'd the Law, and did alwaies what pleased his Father. In the midst of his Sufferings, no irregular motion disturbed his Soul, but He al∣waies exprest the highest Reverence to God, and in∣credible Charity to Men. He was compared to a Lamb, (for his Passion and his Patience) that quietly dies at the foot of the Altar.

Besides, We may consider in our Mediator not only a perfect freedom from Sin, but an impossibility that he should be toucht by it. The Angelical Na∣ture was liable to folly; but the Humane Nature by its intimate and unchangeable Union with the Page  234 Divine is establisht above all possibility of Falling. The Deity is Holiness 〈◊〉 self, and by its personal presence, is a greater preservative from sin, than ei∣ther the vision of God in Heaven, or the most perma∣nent habit of Grace. Our Saviour tells us the Son can do nothing of himself, but according to the pattern the Father sets him.* Now the perfect Holiness of our Redeemer hath a special efficacy in making his Death to be the expiation of Sin, as the Scripture fre∣quently declares.*For such an high Priest became us who is holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners. And he that knew no sin, was made sin for us, that we might be made the Righteousness of God in him.*We are Redeemed not with corruptible things, as Silver, and Gold,*but with the precious Blood of Christ as of a Lamb without blemish,*and without spot. And by his knowledg shall my righteous Servant justifie many.

4. 'Twas requisite the Mediator should be God and Man. He must assume the nature of Man, that he might be put in his stead in order to make satisfacti∣on for him. He was to be our representative, there∣fore such a conjunction between us must be, that God might esteem all his People to suffer in him. By the Law of Israel the right of Redemption belonged to him that was next in blood: Now Christ took the Seed of Abraham, the original element of our nature, that having a right of Propriety in us as God, He might have a right of Propinquity as Man. He was allied to all Men, as Men: that His suffer∣ings might be universally beneficial. And He must be God: 'tis not his Innocency onely, or Deputati∣on, but the Dignity of His Person that qualifies Him to be an all-sufficient Sacrifice for Sin, so that God may dispense pardon, in a way that is honourable to Page  235 Justice. For Justice requires a proportion between the Punishment and the Crime: and that receives its quality from the dignity of the person offended. Now since the Majesty of God is infinite against whom sin is committed, the guilt of it can never be expiated but by an infinite Satisfaction. There is no name under Heaven, nor in Heaven that could save us, but the Son of God,* who being equal to Him in greatness, became Man.

If there had been such compassion in the Angels as to have inclined them, to interpose between Justice and us, they had not been qualified for that Work: not only upon the account of their different nature, so that by substitution they could not satisfie for us; nor that being immaterial substances, they are ex∣empted from the dominion of death, which was the punishment denounc'd against the sinner, and to which his Surety must be subjected: but principally that being finite Creatures they are incapable to atone an incensed God. Who among all their glorious Orders durst appear before so consuming a fire? who could have been an Altar whereon to sanctifie a Sa∣crifice to Divine Justice? no meer Creature how worthy so ever could propitiate the supreme Majesty when justly provoked. Our Redeemer was to be the Lord of Angels. The Apostle tells us that it pleased the Father that in him all fulness should dwell. This respects not his original Nature, but his Of∣fice, and the reason of it is, to reconcile by the blood of the Cross, things in Heaven, and in the Earth. From the greatness of the Work we may infer the quality of the means, and from the quality of the means, the Nature of the Person that is to perform it. Peace with God who was provoked by our Rebellion, could Page  236 only be made by an infinite Sacrifice. Now in Christ the Deity it self, not its influences, and the fulness of it, not any particular perfection only, dwelt really and substantially. God was present in the Ark in a shadow, and representation; He is present in na∣ture by his sustaining Power, and in his Saints by special favour, and the eminent effects, the Graces and Comforts that proceed from it; but he is present in Christ in a singular and transcendent manner. The Humanity is related to the Word not only as a Creature to the Author of its being, for in this re∣gard it hath an equal respect to all the persons, but by a peculiar conjunction: for 'tis actuated by the same subsistence as the Divine Essence is in the Son, but with this difference, the one is voluntary, the other necessary; the one is espoused by Love, the other received by Nature.

Now from this intimate Union, there is a commu∣nication of the special qualities of both natures to the Person of Christ: Man is exalted to be the Son of God, and the Word abased to be the Son of Man. As by reason of the vital Union between the Soul and Body, the essential parts of Man, 'tis truly said that he is rational in respect of his soul, and mortal in respect of his body. This Union derives an infinite merit to the obedience of Christ. For the humane nature having its complement from the Divine Per∣son, 'tis not the nature simply considered, but the person that is the fountain of actions. To illustrate this by an instance: the civil Law determines that a tree transplanted from one soile to another, and taking root there, it belongs to the owner of that ground; in regard that receiving nourishment from a new earth, it becomes as it were another tree, though Page  237 there be the same individual root, the same body, and the same soul of vegetation as before. Thus the humane nature taken from the common mass of Mankind, and transplanted by personal Union into the Divine, is to be reckoned as intirely belonging to the Divine, and the actions proceeding from it are not meerly humane, but are raised above their natural worth, and become meritorious. One hour of Christs Life glorified God more, than an everlast∣ing duration spent by Angels and Men in the prai∣ses of him. For the most perfect creatures are li∣mited, and finite, and their services cannot fully correspond with the Majesty of God; but when the Word was made Flesh, and entered into a new state of subjection, he glorified God in a Divine manner and most worthy of him. He that comes from above, is above all. The all sufficiency of his Satisfaction arises from hence, He that was in the form of God,*and thought it no robbery to be equal with God; that is,* in the truth of the Divine Nature He was equal with the Father, and without sacriledge, or usurpation possest Divine Honour, he became obedient to the Death of the Cross. The Lord of Glory was Crucified.*We are purchased by the Blood of God.*And the Blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all Sin. The Di∣vine Nature gives it an infinite and everlasting effica∣cy.

And 'tis observable, that the Socinians the declar∣ed enemies of his Eternity, consentaneously to their first impious error, deny his Satisfaction. For if Jesus Christ were but a titular God, his Sufferings how deep soever, had been insufficient to expiate our offence: in His Death He had been only a Martyr, not a Mediator. For no Satisfaction can Page  238 be made to Divine Justice, but by suffering that which is equivalent to the guilt of sin, which as 'tis infinite, such must the Satisfaction be.