« AnteriorContinuar »
thy of no reward, no praise, no honor or respect from God or man ; because his Will was not indifferent, and free, either to these things, or the contrary; but under such a strong inclination or bias to the things that were excellent, as made it imfossible that he should choose the contrary ; that upon this account (to use Dr. Whitby's language) it would be sensibly unreasonable that the human nature should be rewarded for any of these things. According to this doctrine, that creature who is evidently sct forth in scripture as the first born of every creature, as having in all things the fireeminence, and as the highest of all creatures in virtue, honor, and worthiness of esteem, praise and glory, on the account of his virtue, is less worthy of reward or
praise, than the very least of saints; yea, no more worthy
than a clock or mere machine, that is purely passive, and moved by natural necessity. -
If we judge by scriptural representations of things, we have reason to suppose, that Christ took upon him our nature, and dwelt with us in this world, in a suffering state, not only to satisfy for our sins, but that He, being in our nature and circumstances, and under our trials, might be our most fit and proper example, leader and captain, in the exercise of glorious and victorious virtue, and might be a visible instance of the glorious end and reward of it; that we might see in Him the beauty, amiableness, and true honor and glory, and exceeding benefit, of that virtue, which it is proper for us human beings to practise ; and might thereby learn, and be animated, to seek the like glory and honor, and to obtain the like glorious reward. See Heb. ii. 9.... 14, with v. 8, 9, and xii. 1, 2, S. John xv. 10. Rom. viii. 17. 2 Tim. ii. 11, 12. 1 Pet. ii. 19, 20, and iv. 13. But if there was nothing of any virtue or merit, or worthiness of any reward, glory, praise or commendation at all, in all that he did, because it was all neccssary, and he could not help it; then how is here anything so proper te animate and excite us, free creatures, by patient continuance in well doing, to seek for honor, glory, and immortality ?
God speaks of Himself as peculiarly well pleased with the righteousness of this servant of his. Isa. xlii. 21. “The Lord is well pleased for his righteousness sake.” The sacrifices of old are spoken of as a sweet savour to God, but the obedience of Christ as far more acceptable than they. Psal. xl. 6, 7. “Sacrifice and offering Thou didst not desire : Mine ear hast Thou opened,” [as thy servant performing willing obedience;] “burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required: Then said I, Lo, I come,” [as a servant that cheerfully answers the calls of his master :] “I delight to do thy will, O my God, yea, thy law is within mine heart.” Matth. xvii. 5. “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” And Christ tells us expressly, that the Father loves him for that wonderful instance of his obedience, his voluntary yielding himself to death, in compliance with the Father's command. John x. 17, 18. “ Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life: No man taketh it from me ; but I lay it down of myself....This commandment received I my Father.
And if there was no merit in Christ’s obedience unto death, if it was not worthy of praise, and of the most glorious rewards, the heavenly hosts were exceedingly mistaken, by the account that is given of them, in Rev. v. 8.... 12. “ The four beasts and the four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odors; and they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worThy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof; for thou wast slain....And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne, and the beasts, and the elders, and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, worthy is the lamb that was slain, to receive power and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing.
Christ speaks of the eternal life which he was to receive, as the reward of his obedience to the Father's commandments. John xii. 49, 50. “I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, He gave me a commandment what I should say, and what I should speak; and I know that his commandment is life everlasting : Whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.” God promises to divide him a portion with the great, &c. for his being his righteous servant, for his glorious virtue under such great trials and sufferings. Isa. liii. 1 1, 12. “He shall see the travail of his soul and be satisfied : By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many ; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he hath poured out his soul unto death.” The scriptures represent God as rewarding him far above all his other servants. Phil. ii. 7, 8, 9. “He took on him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men : And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross ; wherefore Gop also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name above every name.” Psal. xlv. 7. “Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness; therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. There is ho room to pretend, that the glorious benefits bestowed in consequence of Christ's obedience, are not properly of the nature of a reward. What is a reward, in the most proper sense, but a benefit bestowed in consequence of something morally czcellent in quality or behavior, in testimony of well pleasedness in that moral excellency, and respect and favor on that account : If we consider the nature of a reward most strictly, and make the utmost of it, and add to the things contained in this description, proper merit or worthiness, and the bestowment of the benefit in consequence of a promise ; still it will be found, there is nothing belonging to it, but that the scripture is most express as to its belonging to the glory bestowed on Christ, after his sufferings; as appears from what has been already observed : There was a glorious benefit bestowed in consequence of something morally excellent, being called Righteousness and Obedience ; there was great favor, love and well pleasedness, for this righteousness and obedience, in the bestower; there was proper merit, or worthiness
of the benefit, in the obedience; it was bestowed in fulfilment of promises made to that obedience; and was bestowed therefore, or because he had performed that obedience. I may add to all these things, that Jesus Christ, while here in the flesh, was manifestly in a state of trial. The last Adam, as Christ is called, Rom. v. 14. 1 Cor. xv. 45, taking on Him the human nature, and so the form of a servant, and being under the law, to stand and act for us, was put into a state of trial, as the first Adam was....Dr. Whitby mentions these three things as evidences of persons being in a state of trial (on the five Points, p. 298, 299) namely, their afflictions being spoken of as their trials or temptations, their being the subjects of promises, and their being exposed to Satan's temptations. But Christ was apparently the subject of each of these. Concerning promises made to him, I have spoken already. The difficulties and afflictions he met with in the course of his obedience, are called his temptations or trials.” Luke xxii. 28. “Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations or trials.” Heb. ii. 18. “For in that he himself hath suffered, being tempted, [or tried] He is able to succor them that are tempted.” And chap. iv. 15. “We have not an high priest, which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”. And as to his being tempted by Satan it is what none will dispute.
The Case of such as are given up of God to SIN, and of fallen MAn in general, proves moral Mecessity and Inability to be consistent with blameworthiness.
DR. WHITBY asserts freedom, not only from coaction, but Necessity, to be essential to any thing deserving the name of Sin, and to an action's being culfiable ; in these words (Discourse on the five Points, edit. iii. p. 348.) “If they be thus necessitated, then neither their sins of omission or commission could deserve that name; it being essential to the nature of Sin, according to St. Austin’s definition, that it be an action a quo liberum est abstinere. Three things seem plainly necessary to make an action or omission culpable. 1. That it be in our power to perform or forbear it ; for, as Origen, and all the Fathers say, no man is blameworthy for not doing what he could not do.” And elsewhere the Doctor insists, that “when any do evil of Necessity, what they do is no vice, that they are guilty of no fault," are worthy of no blame, dispraise,f or dishonor, but are unblamable.S”
If these things are true, in Dr. Whitby's sense of Necessity, they will prove all such to be blameless, who are given up of God to sin, in what they commit after they are thus given up. That there is such a thing as men's being judicially given up to sin is certain, if the scripture rightly informs us; such a thing being often there spoken of ; as in Psal. lxxxi. 12. “So I gave them up to their own hearts' lust, and they walked in their own counsels.” Acts vii. 42. “ Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven.” Rom. i. 24. “Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their
* Discourse on the Five Points, p. 347, 360, 361, 377. * 303, 329, 3-9, and many other places, f 371. § 3o4, 361.