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all, in all that he did, because it was all necessary, and he could not help it ; then how is here any thing so proper to animate and incite us, free creatures, by patient continuance in well-doing, to seek for honour, glory, and virtue ?
God speaks of himself as peculiarly well pleased with the righteousness of this distinguished servant. (Isai. 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 1, Lo, I come (as a servant that cheerfully answers the calls of his master :) I delight to do thy will, o my God, and thy law is within mine heart.” (Matt. 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 of 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, (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 odours :-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 honour, 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 affictions, (Isa. lii. 11, 12.) 6. 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.-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 God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name above every name.
(Psal. xlv. 7.) - Thou lovest righteous
. ness, and hatest wickedness ; therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows."
There is no 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 excellent in quality or behaviour, in testimony of well-pleasedness in that moral excellency, and of respect and favour 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 what the scripture most expressly ascribes 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 favour, love, and well pleasedness, for this righteousness and obedience, in the bestower ; there was proper merit, or worthi ness 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, (1 Cor. xv. 45. Rom. v. 14.) 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. 289, 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 succour 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 Necessity 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 being culpable; in these words, (Discourse on Five Points, edit. 3. 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 à 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, or dishonour, but are unblameable."
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 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. Ixxxi. 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 dishonour their own bodies between themselves.” (Ver. 26.) “For this cause God gave them up to vile affections.” (Ver. 28.) “And even as they did
* Discourse on the Five Points, p. 347, 360, 361, 377, + 303, 326,329, and many other places. 371. $ 304, 361.
not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things that are not convenient."
It is needless to stand particularly to inquire, what God's “ giving men up to their own hearts' lusts” signifies, it is sufficient to observe, that hereby is certainly meant God so ordering or disposing things, in some respect or other, either by doing or forbearing to do, as that the consequence should be men continuing in their sins. So much as men are given up to, so much is the consequence of their being given up, whether that be less or more.
If God does not order things so, by action or permission, that sin will be the consequence, then the event proves that they are not given up to that consequencc. If good be the consequence, instead of evil, then God's mercy is to be acknowledged in that good; which mercy must be contrary to God's judgment in giving up to evil. If the event must prove, that they are given up to evil as the consequence, then the persons who are the subjects of this judgment, must be the subjects of such an event, and so the event is necessary.
If not only coaction, but all necessity, will prove men blameless, then Judas was blameless, after Christ had given him over, and had already declared his certain damnation, and that he should verily betray him. He was guilty of no sin in betraying his Master, on this supposition ; though his so doing is spoken of by Christ as the most aggravated sin, more heinous than the sin of Pilate in crucifying him. And the Jews in Egypt, in Jeremiah's time, were guilty of no sin in their not worshipping the true God, after God had “sworn by his great name, that his name should be no more named in the mouth of any man of Judah, in all the land of Egypt.” (Jer.
Dr. WHITBY (Disc, on Five Points, p. 302, 303) denies, that men in this world are ever so given up by God to sin, that their wills should be necessarily determined to evil; though he owns, that hereby it may become exceeding difficult for men to do good, having a strong bent and powerful inclination to what is evil. But if we should allow the case to be just as he represents, the judgment of giving up to sin will no better agree with his notions of that liberty, which is essential to praise or blame, than if we should suppose it to render the avoiding of sin impossible. For if an impossibility of avoiding sin wholly excuses a man ; then for the same reason, its being difficult to avoid it excuses him in part ; and this just in proportion to the degree of difficulty.-If the influence of moral impossibility or inability be the same to excuse persons in not doing, or not avoiding any thing, as that of natural inability, (which is supposed) then undoubtedly, in like man
ner, moral difficulty has the same influence to excuse with natural difficulty. But all allow, that natural impossibility wholly excuses, and also that natural difficulty excuses in part, and makes the act or omission less blameable in proportion to the difficulty. All natural difficulty, according to the plainest dictates of the light of nature, excuses in some degree, so that the neglect is not so blameable as if there had been no difficulty in the case : and so the greater the difficulty is, still the more excusable, in proportion to the increase of the difñculty. And as natural impossibility wholly excuses and excludes all blame, so the nearer the difficulty approaches to impossibility, still the nearer a person is to blamelessness in proportion to that approach. And if the case of moral impossibility or necessity be just the same with natural necessity or coaction, as to its influence to excuse a neglect, then also, for the same reason, the case of natural difficulty does not differ in influence to excuse a neglect, from moral difficulty arising from a strong bias or bent to evil, such as Dr. Wutby owns in the case of those that are given up to their own hearts' lusts. So that the fault of such persons must be lessened, in proportion to the difficulty and approach to impossibility. If ten degrees of moral difficulty make the action quite impossible, and so wholly excuse, then if there be nine degrees of difficulty, the person is in great part excused, and is nine degrees in ten less blameworthy, than if there had been no difficulty at all; and he has but one degree of blameworthiness. The reason is plain, on Arminian principles ; viz. because as difficulty, by antecedent bent and bias on the will, is increased, liberty of indifference, and self-determination in the will, is diminished : so much hindrance, impediment is there, in the way of the will acting freely by mere self-determination.And if ten degrees of such hindrance take away all such liberty, then nine degrees take away nine parts in ten, and leave but one degree of liberty. And therefore there is but one degree of blameableness, ceteris paribus, in the neglect; the man being no further blameable in what he does, or neglects, than he has liberty in that affair ; for blame or praise (say they) arises wholly from a good use or abuse of liberty.
From all which it follows, that a strong bent and bias one way, and difficulty of going the contrary, never causes a person to be at all more exposed to sin, or any thing blameable : because, as the difficulty is increased, so much the less is required and expected. Though in one respect exposedness to sin is increased, viz. by an increase of exposedness to the evil action or omission; yet it is diminished in another respect to balance it ; namely, as the sinfulness or blameableness of the action or omission is diminished in the same proportion.