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the penalty, there is no compliance, and, consequently, no satisfaction. It signifies nothing to
say, that some person obeyed in their stead, or suffered in their stead. Neither the obedience nor the suffering of this person is what the law demands: each is something else: it is no compliance, and therefore cannot be satisfaction. were to require one thing of me, and I were to give you another, it could never be said that I had satisfied your demand. You, indeed, may be satisfied with something different from what you required; you may be changed: but, if the law be changed, it will not be the law which we are considering. Indeed, it was never supposed to be changed. It should be remembered, however, that nothing can be more extravagant than to affirm any law to be satisfied, while its demands remain unsatisfied: and that these can only be satisfied by a compliance with what is demanded; and that, as the obedience and sufferings of Christ are no such compliance with what the law of God demands (which is the obedience or suffering of its own subjects), therefore Christ hath not satisfied the law of God, in the room and stead of sinners.
And that justice cannot be satisfied by the vicarious punishment of an innocent person, is sufficiently evident from this one consideration: that justice absolutely forbids to punish the innocent. This you acknowledge, when you say (in regard to sickness and pain) that infants would not be punished, if they were not guilty. However, you say, that as Christ consented to endure punishment,
that consent rendered him in justice punishable. Did it then take away his innocence? Did it render him properly criminal? If not, how then could it make him punishable? Will you affirm that it is in the nature of such consent so to do? and that any one who consents to be punished is punishable in justice? Sure you will not. But if you do, I must contradict you, and declare, that a being is not punishable on account of his consent, but only on account of his crime. It is really wonderful, that people should imagine justice might be satisfied by what is a violation of justice.
With respect to the doctrine of imputed righteousness, viz. that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to men, so as to become their righteousness, I would observe, that to impute or reckon to me what is not mine, is wrong imputation, or wrong reckoning; it is declaring a thing to be what it is not. Moreover, it is impossible to make that right conduct, which I never performed, to become truly mine, merely by declaring it so to be. Suppose a person in great affliction be by some other person relieved, and made easy and happy; and suppose it should be generally reported that you relieved this distressed person, when you are conscious that you have not done it: it is then imputed and reckoned to you; but it is a wrong imputation; and it is plainly and utterly impossible that this deed should become your deed. Let who will declare it so to be, the matter is not altered hereby, and such declaration must inevitably be untrue. There are some who
understand this doctrine somewhat differently from what I have defined it to be; but you, sir, I think, do not. Indeed I take yours to be the true and proper idea of the doctrine: for if a person only derive benefit from Christ's righteousness, there is no imputation in the case*.
I really shudder to reflect on the counterpart of this doctrine: the imputation of the sins of men to the blessed son of God. But if you be a consistent believer in imputed righteousness, you must believe in such imputation of sins. Indeed, I hope you are not consistent; for, if you be, you can have no objection to that horrid assertion, which I dare say you are not unacquainted with, viz. that the great God turned away his face from his expiring son as from an abominable object. This tenet is by no means compatible with the idea of the innocent enduring punishment instead of the guilty; but I am not surprised at the inconsistency.
Yet all these doctrines, you think, are warranted by the word of God. And do you really think, sir, that the sacred word can warrant such doctrines as these? I think myself well authorized to declare them absurd, impossible, impious, and therefore false. If you deny the charge, you should prove the contrary: which if you do, you will perform great and eminent service for the cause in in which you are embarked. Till this is effected,
* You believe (if I do not misunderstand you) that if a man be approved of God, it is not on account of his own righteousness, but on account of the righteousness of Christ, with which the man is adorned, as with a glorious robe.
either by you or somebody else, I must think it is not doing the word of God much real honour to say, as you do, that these doctrines are not only warranted by it, but are the principal and most excellent doctrines which it delivers to us. I sincerely bless God that he hath taught me to put a much better and a more natural interpretation upon his word, which has been lamentably obscured by the glosses of both ill-meaning and well-meaning persons. And, as I esteem the revelation which God has given us in the scriptures to be an invaluable treasure, I am very sorry to see it so sadly perverted, as to be made to countenance opinions which are a reproach to religion. Such opinions (pardon me, sir) I must hear, and little else, if I attend upon your ministry. I must hear the most unworthy and degrading representations of the glorious Deity, and, what is still worse, I must hear injustice and cruelty charged indirectly upon him who is perfectly just and infinitely benevolent. I must hear another represented as equal to him who is declared to be "the ONLY true God;" and who himself hath, in his own person, said, "I am God, and there is none else." I must hear prayers (in which I would not join for the whole world), wherein penitent confession is made to him who created and formed us of a sinful nature, and a heart naturally full of wickedness: I must hear this confession, instead of a devout thanksgiving for those intelligent and moral faculties, whereby we are made capable of religious and heavenly felicity. And I must hear praise
and thanks ascribed to the ever-blessed God, for satisfying justice by that which his soul must utterly abhor, by the punishment of his holy, and innocent, and beloved son, &c. &c. Sir, I am shocked and grieved to hear these things.
I have a little more to add, and I have done. I cannot help observing a very remarkable difference between your preaching and that of many whose principles are a good deal similar to your These persons judging, that although men are naturally corrupt, they are moral agents still; and judging, moreover, that the gospel hath revealed nothing more plainly than this truth," that "the present state is a state of trial and discipline, "having respect to another state, where we are to "be dealt with according to our behaviour in "this," they do generally explain and enforce those duties which are required of us, insisting on the various arguments and motives drawn from the nature of things, as well as those peculiar to the gospel. Now, it is true, sir, I have heard you acknowledge, that the present state is a state of trial; but your preaching totally excludes this truth: for you deny the moral agency of mankind; affirming, that men are no more able to do any thing truly good, than a dead corpse is able to arise and walk; and one great part of your business is to describe the misery and sinfulness of this which you call our natural state. Instead of counselling your hearers (as was the apostle Paul's manner) to "labour that they may be accepted of "God: because we must all appear before the