(Owen, Trinity. part 8)

requiring the punishment of sin; but that that which in him requires
and calls for the punishment of sin is his anger and wrath; which
expressions denote free acts of his will, and not any essential
properties of his nature." So that God may punish sin or not punish
it, at his pleasure; therefore there is no reason that he should
require any satisfaction for sin, seeing he may pass it by absolutely
as he pleases.
  Ans. 1. Is it not strange, that the great Governor, the Judge of all
the world, which, on the supposition of the creation of it, God is
naturally and necessarily, should not also naturally be so righteous
as to do right, in rendering unto every one according to his works?
  2. The sanction and penalty of the law, which is the rule of
punishment, was, I suppose, an effect of justice, - of God's natural
and essential justice, and not of his anger or wrath. Certainly, never
did any man make a law for the government of a people in anger.
Draco's laws were not made in wrath, but according to the best
apprehension of right and justice that he had, though said to be
written in blood; and shall we think otherwise of the law of God?
  3. Anger and wrath in God express the effects of justice, and so are
not merely free acts of his will. This, therefore, is a tottering
cause, that is built on the denial of God's essential righteousness.
But it was proved before, and it is so elsewhere.
  Thirdly, they say, "That the sacrifice of Christ was only
metaphorically so," - that he was a metaphorical priest, not one
properly so called; and, therefore, that his sacrifice did not consist
in his death and blood-shedding, but in his appearing in heaven upon
his ascension, presenting himself unto God in the most holy place not
made with hands as the mediator of the new covenant.
  Ans. 1. When once these men come to this evasion, they think
themselves safe, and that they may go whither they will without
control. For they say it is true, Christ was a priest; but only he was
a metaphorical one. He offered sacrifice; but it was a metaphorical
one. He redeemed us; but with a metaphorical redemption. And so we are
justified thereon; but with a metaphorical justification. And so, for
aught I know, they are like to be saved with a metaphorical salvation.
This is the substance of their plea in this matter: - Christ was not
really a priest; but did somewhat like a priest. He offered not
sacrifice really; but did somewhat that was like a sacrifice. He
redeemed us not really; but did somewhat that looked like redemption.
And what these things are, wherein their analogy consists, what
proportion the things that Christ has done bear to the things that are
really so, from whence they receive their denomination, it is meet it
should be wholly in the power of these persons to declare. But, -
  2. What should hinder the death of Christ to be a sacrifice, a
proper sacrifice, and, according to the nature, end, and use of
sacrifices, to have made atonement and satisfaction for sin? (1.) It
is expressly called so in the Scripture; wherein he is said to "offer
himself, to make his soul an offering, to offer himself a sacrifice,"
Eph. 5: 2; Heb. 1: 3, 9: 14, 25, 26, 7: 27. And he is himself directly
said to be a "priest," or a sacrificer, Heb. 2: 17. And it is nowhere
intimated, much less expressed, that these things are not spoken
properly, but metaphorically only. (2.) The legal sacrifices of the
old law were instituted on purpose to represent and prepare the way
for the bringing in of the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, so to take
away the sin of the world; and is it not strange, that true and real
sacrifices should be types and representations of that which was not
so? On this supposition, all those sacrifices are but so many
seductions from the right understanding of things between God and
sinners. (3.) Nothing is wanting to render it a proper propitiatory
sacrifice. For, - [1.] There was the person offering, and that was
Christ himself, Heb. 9 14, "He offered himself unto God." "He," that
is, the sacrificer, denotes the person of Christ, God and man; and
"himself," as the sacrifice, denotes his human nature whence God is
said to "purchase his church with his own blood," Acts 20: 28; for he
offered himself through the eternal Spirit: so that, - [2.] There was
the matter of the sacrifice, which was the human nature of Christ,
soul and body. "His soul was made an offering for sin," Isa. 53: 10;
and his body, "The offering of the body of Jesus Christ," Heb. 10: 10,
- his blood especially, which is often synecdochically mentioned for
the whole. (4.) His death had the nature of a sacrifice: for, - [1.]
Therein were the sins of men laid upon him, and not in his entrance
into heaven; for "he bare our sins in his own body on the tree," 1
Pet. 2: 24. God made our sins then "to meet upon him," Isa. 53: 6;
which gives the formality unto any sacrifices. "Quad in ejus caput
sit," is the formal reason of all propitiatory sacrifices, and ever
was so, as is expressly declared, Lev. 16: 21, 22; and the phrase of
"bearing sin," of "bearing iniquity," is constantly used for the
undergoing of the punishment due to sin. [2.] It had the end of a
proper sacrifice; it made expiation of sin, propitiation and atonement
for sin, with reconciliation with God; and so took away that enmity
that was between God and sinners, Heb. 1: 3; Rom. 3: 25, 26; Heb. 2:
17, 18, 5: 10; Rom. 8: 3; 2 Cor. 5: 18, 19. And although God himself
designed, appointed, and contrived, in wisdom, this way of
reconciliation, as he did the means for the atoning of his own anger
towards the friends of Job, commanding them to go unto him, and with
him offer sacrifices for themselves, which he would accept, chap. 42:
7, 8; yet, as he was the supreme Governor, the Lord of all, attended
with infinite justice and holiness, atonement was made with him, and
satisfaction to him thereby.
  What has been spoken may suffice to discover the emptiness and
weakness of those exceptions which in general these men make against
the truth before laid down from the Scripture. A brief examination of
some particular instances, wherein they seek not so much to oppose as
to reproach the revelation of this mystery of the gospel, shall put a
close to this discourse. It is said, then, -
  First, "That if this be so, then it will follow that God is gracious
to forgive, and yet it is impossible for him, unless the debt be fully
  Ans. 1. I suppose the confused and abrupt expression of things here,
in words scarcely affording a tolerable sense, is rather from weakness
than captiousness; and so I shall let the manner of the proposal pass.
2. What if this should follow, that God is gracious to forgive
sinners, and yet will not, cannot, on the account of his own holiness
and righteousness, actually forgive any, without satisfaction and
atonement made for sin? The worst that can be hence concluded is, that
the Scripture is true, which affirms both these in many places. 3.
This sets out the exceeding greatness of the grace of God in
forgiveness, that when sin could not be forgiven without satisfaction,
and the sinner himself could no way make any such satisfaction, he
provided himself a sacrifice of atonement, that the sinner might be
discharged and pardoned. 4. Sin is not properly a debt, for then it
might be paid in kind, by sin itself; but is called so only because it
binds over the sinner to punishment, which is the satisfaction to be
made for that which is properly a transgression, and improperly only a
debt. It is added, -
  Secondly, "Hence it follows, that the unite and impotent creature 
more capable of extending mercy and forgiveness than the infinite and
omnipotent Creator."
  Ans. 1. God being essentially holy and righteous, having engaged his
faithfulness in the sanction of the law, and being naturally and
necessarily the governor and ruler of the world, the forgiving of sin
without satisfaction would be no perfection in him, but an effect of
impotency and imperfection, - a thing which God cannot do, as he
cannot lie, nor deny himself. 2. The direct contrary of what is
insinuated is asserted by this doctrine; for, on the supposition of
the satisfaction and atonement insisted on, not only does God freely
forgive, but that in such a way of righteousness and goodness, as no
creature is able to conceive or express the glory and excellency of
it. And to speak of the poor having pardons of private men, upon
particular offenses against themselves, who are commanded so to do,
and have no right nor authority to require or exact punishment, nor is
any due upon the mere account of their own concernment, in comparison
with the forgiveness of God, arises out of a deep ignorance of the
whole matter under consideration.
  Thirdly. It is added by them, that hence it follows, "That God so
loved the world, that he gave his only Son to save it; and yet that
God stood off in high displeasure, and Christ gave himself as a
complete satisfaction to offended justice."
  Ans. Something these men would say, if they knew what or how; for, -
1. That God so loved the world as to give his only Son to save it, is
the expression of the Scripture, and the foundation of the doctrine
whose truth we contend for. 2. That Christ offered himself to make
atonement for sinners, and therein made satisfaction to the justice of
God, is the doctrine itself which these men oppose, and not any
consequent of it. 3. That God stood off in high displeasure, is an
expression which neither the Scripture uses, nor those who declare
this doctrine from thence, nor is suited unto divine perfections, or
the manner of divine operations. That intended seems to be, that the
righteousness and law of God required the punishment due to sin to be
undergone, and thereby satisfaction to be made unto God; which is no
consequent of the doctrine, but the doctrine itself.
  Fourthly. It is yet farther objected, "That if Christ made
satisfaction for sin, then he did it either as God or as man, or as
God and man."
  Ans. 1. As God and man. Acts 20: 28, "God redeemed his church with
his own blood." 1 John 3: 16, "Hereby perceive we the love of God,
because he laid down his life for us." Heb. 9: 14. 2. This dilemma is
proposed, as that which proceeds on a supposition of our own
principles, that Christ is God and man in one person: which, indeed,
makes the pretended difficulty to be vain, and a mere effect of
ignorance; for all the mediatory acts of Christ being the acts of his
person, must of necessity be the acts of him as God and man. 3. There
is yet another mistake in this inquiry; for satisfaction is in it
looked on as a real act or operation of one or the other nature in
Christ, when it is the apotelesma or effect of the actings, the doing
and suffering of Christ - the dignity of what he did in reference unto
the end for which he did it. For the two natures are so united in
Christ as not to have a third compound principle of physical acts and
operations thence arising; but each nature acts distinctly according
to its own being and properties, yet so as what is the immediate act
of either nature is the act of him who is one in both; from whence it
has its dignity. 4. The sum is, that in all the mediatory actions of
Christ we are to consider, - (1.) The agent; and that is the person of
Christ. (2.) The immediate principle by which and from which the agent
works; and that is the natures in the person. (3.) The actions; which
are the effectual operations of either nature. (4.) The effect or work
with respect to God and us; and this relates unto the person of the
agent, the Lord Christ, God and man. A blending of the natures into
one common principle of operation, as the compounding of mediums unto
one end, is ridiculously supposed in this matter.
  But yet, again; it is pretended that sundry consequences,
irreligious and irrational, do ensue upon a supposition of the
satisfaction pleaded for. What, then, are they?
  First. "That it is unlawful and impossible for God Almighty to be
gracious and merciful, or to pardon transgressors."
  Ans. The miserable, confused misapprehension of things which the
proposal of this and the like consequences does evidence, manifests
sufficiently how unfit the makers of them are to manage controversies
of this nature. For, - 1. It is supposed that for God to be gracious
and merciful, or to pardon sinners, are the same; which is to confound
the essential properties of his nature with the free acts of his will.
2. Lawful or unlawful, are terms that can with no tolerable sense be
used concerning any properties of God, all which are natural and
necessary unto his being; as goodness, grace, and mercy, in
particular, are. 3. That it is impossible for God to pardon
transgressors, according to this doctrine, is a fond imagination; for
it is only a declaration of the manner how he does it. 4. As God is
gracious and merciful, so also he is holy, and righteous, and true;
and it became him, or was every way meet for him, in his way of
exercising grace and mercy towards sinners, to order all things so, as
that it might be done without the impeachment of his holiness,
righteousness, and truth. It is said, again, -
  Secondly, "That God was inevitably compelled to this way of saving
men; - the highest affront to his noncontrollable nature."
  Ans. 1. Were the authors of these exceptions put to declare what
they mean by God's "uncontrollable nature," they would hardly
disentangle themselves with common sense; such masters of reason are
they, indeed, whatever they would fain pretend to be. Controllable or
uncontrollable, respects acting and operations, not beings or natures.
2. That, upon the principle opposed by these men, God was inevitably
compelled to this way of saving men, is a fond and childish
imagination. The whole business of the salvation of men, according
unto this doctrine, depends on a mere free, sovereign act of God's
will, exerting itself in a way of infinite wisdom, holiness, and
grace. 3. The meaning of this objection (if it has either sense or
meaning in it) is, that God, freely purposing to save lost sinners,
did it in a way becoming his holy nature and righteous law. What other
course Infinite Wisdom could have taken for the satisfaction of his
justice we know not; - that justice was to be satisfied, and that this
way it is done we know and believe.
  Thirdly. They say it hence follows, "That it is unworthy of God to
pardon, but not to inflict punishment on the innocent, or require a
satisfaction where there was nothing due."
  Ans. 1. What is worthy or unworthy of God, himself alone knows, and
of men not any, but according to what he is pleased to declare and
reveal; but, certainly, it is unworthy any person, pretending to the
least interest in ingenuity or use of reason, to use such frivolous
instances in any case of importance, which have not the least pretence
of argument in them, but what arises from a gross misapprehension or
misrepresentation of a doctrine designed to opposition. 2. To pardon
sinners, is a thing becoming the goodness and grace of God; to do it
by Christ, that which becomes them, and his holiness and righteousness
also, Eph. 1: 6, 7; Rom. 3: 25. 3. The Lord Christ was personally
innocent; but "he who knew no sin was made sin for us," 2 Cor. 5: 21.
And as the mediator and surety of the covenant, he was to answer for
the sins of them whom he undertook to save from the wrath to come, by
giving himself a ransom for them, and making his soul an offering for
their sin. 4. That nothing is due to the justice of God for sin, -
that is, that sin does not in the justice of God deserve punishment, -
is a good, comfortable doctrine for men that are resolved to continue
in their sins whilst they live in this world. The Scripture tells us
that Christ paid what he took not; that all our iniquities were caused
to meet upon him; that he bare them in his own body on the tree; that
his soul was made an offering for sin, and thereby made reconciliation
or atonement for the sins of the people. If these persons be otherwise
minded, we cannot help it.
  Fourthly. It is added, that "This doctrine does not only
disadvantage the tribe virtue and real intent of Christ's life and
death, but entirely deprives God of that praise which is owing to his
greatest love and goodness."
  Ans. 1. I suppose that this is the first time that this doctrine
fell under this imputation; nor could it possibly be liable unto this
charge from any who did either understand it or the grounds on which
it is commonly opposed. For there is no end of the life or death of
Christ which the Socinians themselves admit of, but it is also allowed
and asserted in the doctrine now called in question. Do they say, that
he taught the truth, or revealed the whole mind and will of God
concerning his worship and our obedience? We say the same. Do they
say, that by his death he bare testimony unto and confirmed the truth
which he had taught? It is also owned by us. Do they say, that in what
he did and suffered he set us an example that we should labour after
conformity unto? It is what we acknowledge and teach: only, we say
that all these things belong principally to his prophetical office.
But we, moreover, affirm and believe, that as a priest, or in the
discharge of his sacerdotal office, he did, in his death and
sufferings, offer himself a sacrifice to God, to make atonement for
our sins, - which they deny; and that he died for us, or in our stead,
that we might go free: without the faith and acknowledgment whereof no
part of the gospel can be rightly understood. All the ends, then,
which they themselves assign of the life and death of Christ are by us
granted; and the principal one, which gives life and efficacy to the
rest, is by them denied. Neither, - 2. Does it fall under any possible
imagination, that the praise due unto God should be eclipsed hereby.
The love and kindness of God towards us is in the Scripture fixed
principally and fundamentally on his "sending of his only begotten Son
to die for us." And, certainly, the greater the work was that he had
to do, the greater ought our acknowledgment of his love and kindness
to be. But it is said, -
  Fifthly, "That it represents the Son as more kind and compassionate
than the Father; whereas if both be the same God, then either the
Father is as loving as the Son, or the Son as angry as the Father."
  Ans. 1. The Scripture refers the love of the Father unto two heads:
- (1.) The sending of his Son to die for us, John 3: 16; Rom. 5: 8; I
John 4: 9, lo. (2.) In choosing sinners unto a participation of the
fruits of his love, Eph. 1: 3-6. The love of the Son is fixed signally
on his actual giving himself to die for us, Gal. 2: 20; Eph. 5: 25;
Rev. 1: 5. What balances these persons have got to weigh these loves
in, and to conclude which is the greatest or most weighty, I know not.
2. Although only the actual discharge of his office be directly
assigned to the love of Christ, yet his condescension in taking our
nature upon him, - expressed by his mind, Phil. 2: 5-8, and the
readiness of his will, Ps. 40: 8, - does eminently comprise love in it
so. 3. The love of the Father in sending of the Son was an act of his
will; which being a natural and essential property of God, it was so
far the act of the Son also, as he is partaker of the same nature,
though eminently, and in respect of order, it was peculiarly the act
of the Father. 4. The anger of God against sin is an effect of his
essential righteousness and holiness, which belong to him as God;
which yet hinders not but that both Father, and Son, and Spirit, acted
love towards sinners. They say again, -
  Sixthly, "It robs God of the gift of his Son for our redemption,
which the Scriptures attribute to the unmerited love he had for the
world, in affirming the Son purchased that redemption from the Father,
by the gift of himself to God as our complete satisfaction."
  Ans. 1. It were endless to consider the improper and absurd
expressions which are made use of in these exceptions, as here; the
last words have no tolerable sense in them, according to any
principles whatever. 2. If the Son's purchasing redemption for us,
procuring, obtaining it, do rob God of the gift of his Son for our
redemption, the Holy Ghost must answer for it; for, having "obtained"
for us, or procured, or purchased, "eternal redemption," is the word
used by himself, Heb. 9: 12; and to deny that he has laid down his
life a "ransom" for us, and has "bought us with a price," is openly to
deny the gospel. 3. In a word, the great gift of God consisted in
giving his Son to obtain redemption for us. 4. Herein he "offered
himself unto God," and "gave himself for us;" and if these persons are
offended herewithal, what are we, that we should withstand God? They
say, -
  Seventhly, "Since Christ could not pay what was not his own, it
follows, that in the payment of his own the case still remains equally
grievous; since the debt is not hereby absolved or forgiven, but
transferred only; and, by consequence, we are no better provided for
salvation than before, owing that now to the Son which was once owing
to the Father."
  Ans. The looseness and dubiousness of the expressions here used
makes an appearance that there is something in them, when indeed there
is not. There is an allusion in them to a debt and a payment, which is
the most improper expression that is used in this matter; and the
interpretation thereof is to be regulated by other proper expressions
of the same thing. But to keep to the allusion: - 1. Christ paid his
own, but not for himself, Dan. 9: 26. 2. Paying it for us, the debt is
discharged; and our actual discharge is to be given out according to
the ways and means, and upon the conditions, appointed and constituted
by the Father and Son. 3. When a debt is so transferred as that one is
accepted in the room and obliged to payment in the stead of another,
and that payment is made and accepted accordingly, all law and reason
require that the original debtor be discharged. 4. What on this
account we owe to the Son, is praise, thankfulness, and obedience, and
not the debt which he took upon himself and discharged for us, when we
were nonsolvent, by his love. So that this matter is plain enough, and
not to be involved by such cloudy expressions and incoherent
discourse, following the metaphor of a debt. For if God be considered
as the creditor, we all as debtors, and being insolvent, Christ
undertook, out of his love, to pay the debt for us, and did so
accordingly, which was accepted with God; it follows that we are to be
discharged upon God's terms, and under a new obligation unto his love
who has made this satisfaction for us: which we shall eternally
acknowledge. It is said, -
  Eighthly, "It no way renders men beholden or in the least obliged to
God, since by their doctrine he would not have abated us, nor did he
Christ, the least farthing; so that the acknowledgments are peculiarly
the Son's: which destroys the whole current of Scripture testimony for
his goodwill towards men. O the infamous portraiture this doctrine
draws of the infinite goodness! Is this your retribution, O injurious
  Ans. This is but a bold repetition of what, in other words, was
mentioned before over and over. Wherein the love of God in this matter
consisted, and what is the obligation on us unto thankfulness and
obedience, has been before also declared; and we are not to be moved
in fundamental truths by vain exclamations of weak and unstable men.
It is said, -
  Ninthly, "That God's justice is satisfied for sins past, present,
and to come, whereby God and Christ have lost both their power of
enjoining godliness and prerogative of punishing disobedience; for
what is once paid, is not revocable, and if punishment should arrest
any for their debts, it argues a breach on God or Christ's part, or
else that it has not been sufficiently solved, and the penalty
complete sustained by another."
  Ans. The intention of this pretended consequence of our doctrine is
that, upon a supposition of satisfaction made by Christ, there is no
solid foundation remaining for the prescription of faith, repentance,
and obedience, on the one hand; or of punishing them who refuse so to
obey, believe, or repent, on the other. The reason of this inference
insinuated seems to be this, - that sin being satisfied for, cannot be
called again to an account. For the former part of the pretended
consequence, - namely, that on this supposition there is no foundation
left for the prescription of godliness, - I cannot discern any thing
in the least looking towards the confirmation of it in the words of
the objection laid down. But these things are quite otherwise; as is
manifest unto them that read and obey the gospel. For, - 1. Christ's
satisfaction for sins acquits not the creature of that dependence on
God, and duty which he owes to God, which (notwithstanding that) God
may justly, and does prescribe unto him, suitable to his own nature,
holiness, and will. The whole of our regard unto God does not lie in
an acquitment from sin. It is, moreover, required of us, as a
necessary and indispensable consequence of the relation wherein we
stand unto him, that we live to him and obey him, whether sin be
satisfied for or no. The manner and measure hereof are to be regulated
by his prescriptions, which are suited to his own wisdom and our
condition; and they are now referred to the heads mentioned, of faith,
repentance, and new obedience. 2. The satisfaction made for sin being
not made by the sinner himself, there must of necessity be a rule,
order, and law-constitution, how the sinner may come to be interested
in it, and made partaker of it. For the consequent of the freedom of
one by the suffering of another is not natural or necessary, but must

(continued in part 9...)

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