The true doctrine of justification asserted and vindicated, from the errours of Papists, Arminians, Socinians, and more especially Antinomians in XXX lectures preached at Lawrence-Iury, London
Burgess, Anthony, d. 1664.
Page  94

LECTURE XII.


HEBREWS 4.13.

All things are naked and opened to him, &c.

*THe second answer made by the Antinomians to this Argu∣ment from Gods omnisciency, is this, For when we say, how weak and absurd is it, to hold, God doth not see that, which we see? They answer (Honey-Comb pag. 61.) Here we oppose the power of God against his will, for he seeth all things, saving that which he undertakes to abolish out of his own sight, that he may not see it, so that by his mysticall cloathing of us with his sons righteousnesse, he hath abolished it out of his own sight, though not out of ours. Now we told you that this answer is not universally to be slighted, for our Divines, Pareus and others (as I mentioned before) (maintaining that remission of sin, though it be the utter deletion of the guilt, yet not the ful eradication and abolition of the filth, but that it still continueth in us) make this objection to themselves, Nothing is hid or covered from Gods eyes, if therefore sin be there, God cannot but see it. To this they answer, God seeth all, but what he will not see, and that is a known saying of Austins, Noluit advertere, noluit animadvertere, noluit agnoscere, maluit ignos∣cere, God will not take notice of the sins of justified persons, he will not punish them, he had rather forgive them. It seemeth then by this, that God will not see sin in Believers to condemnation but yet he will to castigation; but if Christ hath fully satisfied Gods wrath, and it be a meer arbitrary thing in God, whether he will chastise or no, why then should not Gods anger and his chastise∣ments be removed from the godly by Christs death as well as his justice and punishments? It's therefore worthy the inquiry, how Page  95 far Gods taking notice of sin so as to chastise or punish it, is subject to the meer liberty of his will: And in answering of this, I will not range as far as this question will carry me, for the totall discus∣sion of it in its large extent will be when we speak of the meri∣torious cause of justification against Socinians.* To speak there∣fore in a more restricted way of this matter: Consider these Pro∣positions, some whereof are ground-works and foundations, the other more immediatly reaching to our scope in hand.

First, There is in God a liberty and free-will, whereby he doth whatsoever he pleaseth, so that as the Psalmist saith, He that made the eye to see, shall not he see? He that maketh man to know, shall not he know? and thus he that gave man and Angels this perfe∣ction of freedom, shall not he much more be free? * Therefore those titles of 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 and 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, which the Greek Fathers sometimes give to the will of man, are too proud and lofty, and do more properly belong to God. Indeed so far as freedom is con∣ceived in creatures to have some potential〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 indifferency, or 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, a suspendedness to be determined by some other, so far we are not to conceive it in God; for this mutability or Potentiall indetermination, is an imperfection; and so that same potest as peccandi, power to sin, which some make necessary to liber∣ty, and which they call a perfection▪ though they grant the action of sin it self to be an imperfection (though this should be granted, which must not) yet neither could this be found in Gods liberty, and no marvell, seeing that it is not in the liberty of Christs hu∣mane will, for though Christs obedience was truly and properly so, being under a command of God, yet not only as he was God, but as he was man, he was 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, and 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉impeccablo, or free from the temptation of sin. Therefore its detestable blas∣phemy of Durand and other Schoolmen, saying, Christ might have sinned, lib. 3. Sentent. dist. 12. quae. 2. as also of the Remon∣strants who say, Christ after he had taken this Office of a mediator∣ship, might have forsaken it, and given it over, but of this more in its proper place; God therefore is a free agent, Psal. 135.6. He hath done whatsoever he pleased in heaven and earth, so that he made not the world as the fire burneth, or the Bees make their Honey-Combs, by a naturall necessity, but according to the counsel of his will; hence it is that all his spiritual mercies become Page  96 commended unto us, under the title of grace. There was no naturall or morall necessity, obliging God to elect us, to give his Son for us, or to save us, and indeed it could not be liberality, if it were not a libero, from one that is free.

*Propos. 2. According to the different descriptions of liberty and freedom; so it may be extended larger or narrower unto the actions of God. Those who make liberty consistent with a necessity of im∣mutability, and do not think indifferency necessary, but only knowledge, and judgement going before, they extend it even to the goodnesse and holinesse of God; so they say, God is liberè bonus, freely good, and doth freely love himself, so they make the con∣firmed Angels and Saints, freely to love God, though necessarily, thus we sin freely, though necessarily: But others, who make a power to do, or not do, necessary to liberty, think it a kinde of blasphemy to say, God doth freely will that which is good: hence they make liberty not an attribute of his nature, as holinesse, om∣nipotency, &c. are, but an affection of his will only, and they think that necessarium and contingens, under which liberty is comprehended, are differences of ens in its full latitude, as fini∣tum and infinitum; therefore as the same thing cannot be finite and infinite, so neither necessary and free, but this is to put the definition of liberty into too strait fetters, as in time may be shewn. I join with those, that think immutability and liberty may be in the same act, and that God doth freely, though unchangeably love himself; but that freedom of his actions to the creatures, is with a power to do otherwise if he pleaseth.

There is also another kinde of liberty mentioned by the learn∣ed, which is opposed to servitude, and is the same with sui juris; now God in all things is this way free: He hath no law imposed upon himself by any other, but only what he prescribeth him∣self, that doth he work by; therefore when we say, its just with God to damn an impenitent sinner, this justice ariseth not from any obligation put upon him by another, but what he hath eternally prescribed himself.

*Propos. 3. Gods omnisciency, or his bare seeing and taking no∣tice of sin, when it is, is not subject to his liberty, He cannot but see, whatsoever is, and also possible to be, so that we cannot say pro∣perly God seeth all things because he will see them; for this is an Page  97 attribute founded in the nature of God; but if we take know∣ledge or seeing for the effects accompanying them, as the Scri∣pture for the most part doth, because God is not an idle spectator of things, but upon his seeing, there is either care and protection, or anger and punishment, then in this sense, all these effects are subject in some sense to the liberty and free-will of God. God cannot but see the adultery of David, but whether he will so see it, as to punish David for it in his own person, or in Christ; or whether he will chastise him at this time, or in this manner; that is meerly at the good pleasure of God. Whether indeed he is free to punish at all, or chastise at all, you will hear in the other Propositions; thus much we may conclude, That God cannot abolish sin so out of his sight, so that with his eyes of omniscien∣cy he should not behold it, when it is there.

Propos. 4. In respect of Gods liberty and freedom,*there is great difference between the attributes of God, as also the exercises and a∣ctions of them. There are some properties that require no object for their exercise, but they make it; thus the omnipotency of God, doth not finde, but make its object. Again there are others, which though they require an object, yet not any condition, or circumstance in it; so the wisdom of God, can and doth order every object, let it be what it will be, to a glorious end. It or∣dered an harmonious world out of a Chaos, he made all things, qua omnipotens, as omnipotent, and ordered them all qua sapi∣ens, as a wise God. But then there are other attributes, which though essential to him, yet cannot be exercised, but where the objects are so and so conditionated; as that mercy of God, whereby he doth forgive sins, requireth an object penitent and believing: so that Justice of God, whereby it is punitive and vindicative of sin, requireth an object, that is a sinner and impe∣nitent. Now in the actions about the objects of the former sort, God is every way free, he might have created the world, or not have created it; but in the actions of the latter sort, though he be also free, yet not so as to use Justice, or not Justice, when there is an object with its due condition. As now it was free to God, whether he would make man or no, it was free for him, whe∣ther he would permit man to fall or no, but when fallen, not free whether he would be just or no: Thus God is free, whe∣ther Page  98 he will procure, or prepare an object of justice; but then when he hath so prepared an object, then he is not loosned from the obli∣gation of Justice. To procure an object of Justice ariseth from the Soveraignty and meer freedom of God: Hence Gods permission of sin, or reprobation negative. which is the passing by of some, are not acts of Justice properly so called; but condemnation for sin is tru∣ly and properly Justice. The former arise from Gods supream do∣minion and freedom. When an Object of Justice is, there is an obligation to execute the same upon it, but not when an object of mercy is, because its necessary to mercy, that it should be indebi∣ta, but to justice, debita.

I do not here intend to meddle with that Question, Whether God absolutely might not have let sin go unpunished, and yet forgive it, as we see men can: (This is disputed even among the Orthodox; some are for the Negative, as Pisator, Luber∣tus, &c. Others for the Affirmative, as Davenant, Twist, &c. but the proper place for this will be, when we speak of Christs satisfaction) nor yet with that other of the Schoolmen, Whe∣ther God may absolutely accept of a sinner to pardon, and eter∣nal life, though he do not regenerate, or sanctifie him; these are to be handled in their proper place. You see by this delivered, how far the actions of Gods Justice may be said to be free, or not free.

* Propos. 5. Whatsoever may be said in an absolute sense about Gods Justice, yet since that threatning promulged (In the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt die the death) God cannot in Iustice, but punish sinners. Though it be in his freedom whether he will give thee a being, or no, yet if thou art an obstinate sinner, it is not in his freedom, whether he will damn thee or no; so that as God can∣not but love that Image of his holinesse where he seeth it, so he cannot but hate the contrary, wheresoever it is, though that ha∣tred shall not alwayes fall upon the person in whom it is, because removed by Christ.

It is Camerons opinion, That the word Iustitia,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, when attributed to God, doth alwayes signifie Goodnesse, Salva∣tion, Redemption, but never in the Scripture (saith he) doth it denote an affection in God, whereby he avengeth himself upon sinners; but that the words Ira and Iudicium, AngerPage  99 and Iudgement expresse this; But though the word signifie so sometimes, yet in some places it must needs mean this disposi∣tion in God, Psal. 9.5. 1 Tim. 4.8. 2 Thess. 1.6. so that in some sense, we may with several Orthodox men, say, Iustice is es∣sential to God. Sin is not indeed Physically contrary to God, as water is to fire, for if it were so, God would not suffer it to be, because he is an infinite good; as if there were infinite fire, or light, there could not be any water or darknesse; but it is morally contrary to him, Hab. 1. Thou art of purer eyes then to be∣hold iniquity; even sins against any positive command of God, that are sins only because prohibited, they are thus far against his nature, and not his will only; because it is against his na∣ture, to have his will and commands disobeyed in any thing, he being the supream and most holy Lawgiver. If God did only punish sin because he will, and not because he is essentially just, there could no true cause be given, why Heathens should have terrour in their consciences after sins committed, seeing the Word is not revealed unto them, declaring Gods will: and when the Scripture speaks of God punishing sins, it doth not at∣tribute it to Gods meer will, because he will do so, but to his Iustice, Rev. 16.5, 7. Thus Exod. 24. God is described by this property, Not acquitting the guilty. Now when we say, God cannot but punish sin with death since the promulgation of the threat∣ning, that is not so to be understood, as if then only the tie and obligation of Iustice came upon God, but it was from eternity: for as God did in time reveal this threatning; so he did from all eternity will this threatning; and so therefore from all eternity it was just with God to punish a sinner, neither could he forgive him without a satisfaction. This is diligently to be observed, because men speak sometimes, as if vindicative Iustice were then only due when the actual threatning was; whereas the executions of God in time, are, as his decrees were from eter∣nity; and truly we should not give way to such Disputes, Whe∣ther God could have pardoned absolutely, or provided any o∣ther way and remedy, when we see God pitching upon this, and the Scripture only revealing this. Hence the Scripture com∣mandeth us to eschew sins, not meerly because of his will onely, but because he is holy in his nature, Lev. 11.44. Josh. 24.19. It Page  100 is true Gods hatred and displicency of sin cannot but be, yet the destination of it actually to punishment comes in some sense under his liberty.

*Prop. 6. Though God cannot but take notice of sin, so as to punish it, yet it is under his freedom, whether he will punish it in their own persons or in a surety; and by this means the wisdom of God found out an excellent temperament of Iustice and Mercy, so that the one doth not oppose the other; notwithstanding Gods justice, yet his love and wisdom put him upon that remedy, which neither men or Angels could have excogitated; so that God doth not let sin go unpunished, only he provideth a Ram to be sa∣crificed for Isaac, a Mediator to come between his wrath and us. It is true, reason (as we see) doth much gainsay this mystery; but we may say, mulier ista taceat, let this woman hold her peace in the Church of God: Though therefore God cannot but execute justice upon sinners, yet his justice did admit of a temperament, whereby God doth proceed to see the sins of his people, to hate them, but yet to punish them upon Christ.

*7. Prop. There is a great deal of difference between Iustice, as it is an essential property in God, ad intra, and between the effects of it, ad extra. These latter come much under the liberty and freedom of God; which appeareth in the variety of his judgements upon wicked men, some being consumed one way, and some another, so that it is meerly at his pleasure, whether he will stir up more or lesse wrath, Ps. 2. there is a little anger of his spoken of: but you may read a remarkable expression, Ps. 78.38. He turned away his wrath from thm and stirred not up all his wrath. Here you see the anger of God subject to his free-will. If the effects of Gods justice should flow from him as burning from fire, or drowning from wa∣ter, the whole world were not able to endure before him who is a consuming fire. How could it come about, that the wicked do so overflow with prosperity in this world, if so be that God did necessarily punish and destroy, which are effects of his Iustice? So that there is a great difference between Iustice taken for an at∣tribute, and Iustice for the effects; God cannot but be alwayes just the former, whereas there is a liberty in the latter. As in man, the power of laughing is an essential property in him, yet the act of laugh∣ter ariseth in some measure by the freenes of his will. Hence it is Page  101 that Gods essential Iustice doth not receive more or lesse, but the ef∣fects of his Iustice may be more or lesse: If many men be in the same sin, and God doth punish some of them with a remarkable temporal judgement, we may not say, God dealeth more justly with these then the other; yet we may say, the effects of his Iu∣stice are greater upon some then others.

8. Propos. Christ satisfied God as a just Iudge, not as a Father provoked, and by this means, though punishments are taken away,* yet afflictions for sin are not; and this doth directly answer the whole Question, whereas it is demanded, seeing Christ fully reconciled God to us, and thereby all punishments are taken away, why not as well all afflictions? If he hath removed great∣er, will he think much at the lesse? The answer lieth fully in this, Christ by his bloud and satisfaction undertook that the justice of God should never fall upon us to punish us, not that he should never be angry with us a Father, to chastise us. By this redem∣ption, its Christs will that God should not as a just Iudge, require compensation of us; not, that as a provoked Father, he should not scourge us for our sins when committed. The reason is clear, because fatherly anger is an ffect of love; but punishment the fruit of hatred. And thus now you see, why God will not see sin to condemnation, because Christ hath made up that; yet he will see it in believers to angry castigation, because Christ did not interpose there: it is therefore no derogation to Christs death, no injury to his suf∣ferings, if notwithstanding them, God doth afflict for sin, even his own children.

9. Propos. By reason of this anger of God against sin,*even still abiding, those afflictions which come upon believers, are from a con∣veniency with the justice of God. Although we cannot say rigidly, That if God did not chastise believers for their sins, he were unjust; yet we may say, his afflicting of them, is beseeming his Iustice, part∣ly, because he hath prescribed this law to himself, 1 Sam. 7.14. Even as to wicked men upon their obstinate sinning, to punish them, so upon his own, if they offend, to chasten them; and part∣ly by afflicting of his people for their sin, he demonstrates the hatred of it unto the world. Although therefore God do not alwayes chastise every godly man, but sometimes by their repen∣tance these very chastisments are either prevented or removed, Page  102 yet when God doth thus break out in his anger against them, this is becoming his just nature, and the world thereby seeth how he is displeased with it. One of the Articles which Arminius relateth, as laid against him, was, that he should hold, The temporal afflictions of believers, were not chastisements but punish∣ments, properly so called. To this he answereth, pa. 103. Resp. ad Artic. 31. That the calamities inflicted upon David for his sin, in the matter of Ʋriah, may be called punishments properly; and that the Text seemeth to be better explained so, and yet withall, that there will be no favour to the Popish opinion: for he grants, That Christ satisfied both for eternal and temporal punishments, but yet God when he takes off the spiritual punishment, may for a while reserve the temporal, as though Christ hath taken away the jus, the power and right death hath over us, yet he hath not quite destroyed actual death: but all this is a meer itching, to innovate needlesly in Religion; for if Christ have satisfied for temporal death, then though it be not removed presently, yet it cannot abide as a punishment strictly.