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Chapter II.

The universal justice of God — The idle fancies of the schoolmen — The arguments of Durandus against commutative justice — Suarez’s censure of the scholastic reasonings — His opinion of divine justice — The examination of it — A description of universal justice from the sacred writings — A division of it in respect of its egress — Rectitude of government in God, what, and of what kind — Definitions of the philosophers and lawyers — Divisions of the justice of government — A caution respecting these — Vindicatory justice — The opinions of the partisans — An explication of the true opinion — Who the adversaries are — The state of the controversy farther considered.

We are first, then, briefly to treat of the universal justice of God, or of his justice considered in itself and absolutely, which contains in it all the divine excellencies. The schoolmen, treading in the steps of the philosophers, who have acknowledged no kind of justice 501which has not naturally some respect to another object, are for the most part silent concerning this justice. And once, by the way, to take notice of these [hair-splitters], on this, as almost on every other subject, they are strangely divided. Duns Scotus, Durandus, and Paludamus deny that there is commutative justice in God.4040    Palud. on the Sent., book 4. dist. 46.

For the Master of the Sentences himself calls God an impartial and just distributer, but says not a word of commutation. Thomas Aquinas4141    Thomas, first page of quest. 21, and Cajetan, ii. 2, q. 61, a. 4. and Cajetan do the same; though the latter says “that some degree of commutative justice is discernible.” So also Ferorariensis, on the same place; and Scotus, in the third book of his treatise, “Of Nature and Grace,” chap. vii. Durandus, in particular, contends, with many arguments, that this kind of justice ought not to be assigned to God; — first, Because that this justice observes an equality between the thing given and received, which cannot be the case between us and God; — and, secondly, Because that we cannot be of any service to him (which he proves from Rom. xi. 35; Job xxii. 3, xxxv. 7; Luke xvii. 10), whereby he can be bound to make an equality with us by virtue of commutation; — and, thirdly, Because that we cannot make an equal return to God for benefits received; — and, finally, That as there is no proper commutative justice between a father and his children, according to Aristotle’s4242    Ethics, book viii. chap. 8. opinion, much less can it subsist between God and us.

But the same Durandus likewise denies to God distributive justice,4343    On dist. 46. because he is not indebted to any one. He, however, acknowledges some mode of distributive justice, and Pesantius4444    In ii. 2, Thomas. follows his opinion.

But Gabriel, on the same4545    A work to which he alludes. — Tr. distinction, asserts commutative justice to be inherent in God; for there is a certain equality, as he says, between God and man, from the acceptation of God the receiver. Proudly enough said, indeed!

But what shall we say of these triflers? They resemble those advocates in Terence, whose opinion, after Demipho, embarrassed by the cheats of Phormio the sycophant, had asked, he exclaims, “Well done, gentlemen; I am now in a greater uncertainty than before!” so intricate were their answers, and resembling the practices of the Andabatæ.4646    A kind of fencers who fought on horseback hood-winked. — Tr.

Hence, Francis Suarez himself, after he had reviewed the opinions of the schoolmen concerning the justice of God, bids adieu to them all, declaring, “That the expressions of Scripture had greater weight with him than their philosophic human arguments,” Opusc. vi. de Just. Div. sec. 1. But with much labour and prolixity he insists that both distributive and commutative justice are to be ascribed to God 502that so he might pave the way for that rotten fiction concerning the merits of Roman Catholics with God, — a doctrine which, were even all his suppositions granted, appears not to follow, much less to be confirmed.4747    Suarez’s Lectures of the Justice of God. This opinion of Suarez concerning vindicatory justice, as it is deservedly famous in scholastic theology, we think proper to lay before you in few words.

In his discourses concerning the justice of God,4848    Sect. 5. he contends that the affection4949    Or quality. — Tr. of punishing, which he calls “a perfection elicitive5050    That is, inducing to, or drawing forth, the act of punishing. — Tr. of the act of punishing,” is properly and formally inherent in God; and it is so because it hath a proper object, namely, to punish the guilt of sin, which is honourable; nor does it include any imperfection; and, therefore, that some formal and proper divine attribute ought to correspond to that effect.

He farther maintains that this affection of punishing is neither commutative nor distributive justice. His conclusions here I do not oppose, though I cannot approve of many of his reasonings and arguments. In fine, he contends that vindicatory justice in God is the same with universal, or legal, or providential justice, which we call the justice of government. But he makes a dishonourable and base conclusion from a distinction about the persons punished, namely, into such as are merely passive sufferers, and such as spontaneously submit themselves to punishment, that they may satisfy the punitory justice of God; reasoning in such a manner, that after he has forced the whole doctrine concerning the commutative and distributive justice of God to become subservient to that sacrilegious and proud error concerning the merits of man with God, and even of one from the supererogation of another,5151    In the original, “Immo etiam ex condigno,” “And that, too, of condignity.” — Ed. he strenuously endeavours to establish a consistency between this doctrine of vindicatory justice and a fiction not less impious and disgraceful to the blood of Christ, which “cleanseth us from all sin,” about penal satisfaction, to be performed by such ways and means as God hath never prescribed, or even thought of.

“― Ut turpiter atrum

Desinat in piscem mulier formosa superne.


Dismissing these bunglers (who know not the righteousness of God), then, from our dissertation, let us attend to the more sure word of prophecy. That word everywhere asserts God to be just, and possessed of such justice as denotes the universal rectitude and perfection of his divine nature. His essence is most wise, most perfect, most excellent, most merciful, most blessed; that, in fine, is the justice of God, according to the Scriptures, namely, considered absolutely and in itself. Nor would the holy Scriptures have us to understand 503any thing else by divine justice than the power and readiness of God to do all things rightly and becomingly, according to the rule of his wisdom, goodness, truth, mercy, and clemency. Hence the above-mentioned sophists agree that justice, taken precisely and in itself, and abstracting it from all human imperfections, simply means perfection without intrinsic imperfection; for it is not a virtue that rules the passions, but directs their operations.

Hence it presides, as it were, in all the divine decrees, actions, works, and words, of whatsoever kind they be. There is no egress of the divine will, no work or exercise of providence, though immediately and distinctly breathing clemency, mercy, anger, truth, or wisdom, but in respect thereof God is eminently said to be just, and to execute justice. Hence, Isa. li. 6, he is said to be just in bringing salvation; Rom. iii. 25, 26, just in pardoning sin; Rev. xvi. 5, 6, just in avenging and punishing sin; Rom. iii. 5, 6, just in all the exercises of his supreme right and dominion, Job xxxiv. 12–14; Rom. ix. 14, 15, 18, he is just in sparing according to his mercy; just in punishing according to his anger and wrath. In a word, whatsoever, by reason of his right, he doeth or worketh “according to the counsel of his will,” whatever proceeds from his faithfulness, mercy, grace, love, clemency, anger, and even from his fury, is said to be done by, through, and because of his justice, as the perfection inducing to, or the cause effecting and procuring, such operations. It is evident, then, that justice, universally taken, denotes the highest rectitude of the divine nature, and a power and promptitude of doing all things in a manner becoming and agreeable to his wisdom, goodness, and right.

The more solemn egresses of this justice, to which all particular acts may be easily reduced, have been already pointed out; but equity in legislation, fidelity and truth in threatenings and promises annexed to it, in which God is often said to be just, and to execute justice, I think may be passed over, as being too remote from our purpose. But as it appears that some light may be thrown on this subject which we are now treating of, from the consideration of the relation of rectitude and divine wisdom, that is, of universal justice, to government and judgment, we must say a few words on that head.

But rectitude of government, to which that justice analogically corresponds, is that which philosophers and civilians unanimously agree to be the highest excellence, though they have variously described it. Aristotle calls it “a habit by which men are capable of doing just things, and by which they both will and do just things;”5252    Ethics, book v. chap. 1. attributing to it aptitude, will, and action. Cicero calls it “an affection of the mind, giving to every one his due;”5353    De Finibus. understanding by 504“affection” not any passion of the mind, but a habit. The civilians understand by it “a constant and perpetual will, assigning to every one his due.” The propriety of their definition we leave to themselves. That “constant and perpetual will” of theirs is the same as the “habit” of the philosophers; which, whether it be the proper genus5454    Or class. — Tr. of this virtue, let logicians determine. Again; as they constantly attribute three acts to right, which is the object of justice, — namely, “to live honestly, to hurt nobody, and to give every one his due,” — how comes it to pass that they define justice by one act, when doubtless it respects all right? therefore it is, they say, that to give every one his due is not of the same extent in the definition of justice and in the description of the acts of right.

But let them both unite in their sentiments as they please, neither the “habit” or “affection” of the philosophers, nor the “living honestly and hurting nobody” of the civilians, can be assigned to God; for in ascribing the perfection of excellencies to him, we exclude the ratio of habit or quality, properly so called, and every material and imperfect mode of operation. He must be a mortal man, and subject to a law, to whom these things apply.

Moreover, those (I speak of our own countrymen) who divide this justice of government into commutative and distributive rob God entirely of the commutative, which consists in a mutual giving and receiving. For, “Who hath first given to him?” “Who maketh thee to differ from another?” “He giveth not account of any of his matters.” But distributive, which belongs to him as the supreme governor of all things, who renders to every one his due, is proper to himself alone. This we have above asserted to be the justice of government or judgment. Of this justice of government frequent mention is made in the sacred writings. It is that perfection of the Divine Being whereby he directs all his actions in governing and administering created things, according to the rule of his rectitude and wisdom. But this excellence, or habitude for action, in no wise differs from universal justice, unless in respect of its relation to another being. But what is a law to us, in the administration of things, in God is his right, in conjunction with his most wise and just will; for God, as it is said, is a law unto himself. To this justice are these passages to be referred, Zeph. iii. 5; 2 Chron. xii. 6; Ps. vii. 9; Jer. xii. 1; 2 Tim. iv. 8, with almost innumerable others. But in all the effects and egresses of this justice God is justified, not from the reason of things, but from his dominion and supreme right. Thus, Job xiv. 14, xxxiii. 12, xxxiv. 12–15. And this is the first egress of the divine rectitude in works.

The other egress of this justice is in judgment, the last member of the divisions of which, above mentioned, — namely, that by which 505God punishes the crimes of rational beings, to whom a law hath been given, according to the rule of his right, — is the vindicatory justice of which we are treating.

Here again, reader, I would wish to put you in mind that I by no means assert many species of universal justice, or, so to speak, particular or special justices, as distinct perfections in God, which others seem to do, but one only, — namely, the universal and essential rectitude of the divine nature variously exercised; and therefore I maintain that this vindicatory justice is the very rectitude and perfection of the Deity.

Some of the schoolmen, however, agree with me in opinion; for Cajetan5555    Quest. 2, 2, quest. 108, a 2. upon Thomas grants that vindicatory justice in a public person differs nothing from legal and universal justice; although he maintains that there is a peculiar species of justice in a private person, — a position which, I confess, I do not understand, since punishment, considered as punishment, is not the right of a private person. God certainly does not punish us as being injured, but as a ruler and judge. But again, concerning this justice, another question arises, Whether it be natural to God, or an essential attribute of the divine nature, — that is to say, such that, the existence of sin being admitted, God must necessarily exercise it, because it supposes in him a constant and immutable will to punish sin, so that while he acts consistently with his nature he cannot do otherwise than punish and avenge it, — or whether it be a free act of the divine will, which he may exercise at pleasure? On this point theologians are divided. We shall consider what has been determined on the matter by the most notorious enemies of divine truth, and especially by those of our own times.

1. Then, they own, “That such a kind of justice is applicable5656    Competere, “belongs.” — Ed. to God, which were he always inclined to exercise, he might, consistently with right, destroy all sinners without waiting for their repentance, and so let no sin pass unpunished.”

2. “That he will not pardon any sins but those of the penitent.” Nor do they deny, so far as I know, —

3. “That God hath determined the punishment of sin by the rule of his right and wisdom.” But they deny, —

1. That perfection by which God punishes sins either to be his justice or to be so called in Scripture, but only anger, fury, or fierce indignation, — expressions denoting in the clearest manner the freedom of the divine will in the act of punishing; although some of Socinus’ followers, among whom is Crellius, have declared openly against him on this point. Again, they deny, —

2. That there is any such attribute in God as requires a satisfaction for sins, which he is willing to forgive, but maintain that he is 506entirely free to “yield up his claim of right,” as they phrase it, at pleasure; that, therefore, divine justice ought, by no means, to be reckoned among the causes of Christ’s death. Nay more, say they, “Such a kind of justice may be found in the epistles of Iscariot to the Pharisees” (they are the words of Gitichius ad Luc.), “but is not to be found in the holy Scriptures.”

Such are the opinions of those concerning whom we are disputing at this present day, whether they be heretics because they are not Christians. Between their sentiments and ours on this point there is the widest difference; for we affirm the justice by which God punishes sin to be the very essential rectitude of Deity itself, exercised in the punishment of sins, according to the rule of his wisdom, and which is in itself no more free than the divine essence.

This kind of justice Faustus Socinus opposes with all his might in almost all his writings, but especially in his Theological Lectures of the Saviour, book i. chap. 1, etc.; Moscorovius, also, on the Racovian Catechism, chap. viii. quest. 19; Ostorodius, a most absurd heretic, in his Institutions, chap. xxxi., and in his Disputations to Tradelius; Volkelius, of the True Religion, book v. chap. 21; also Crellius, the most acute and learned of all the adversaries, in that book which he wished to have prefixed to the Dissertations of Volkelius, chap. xxviii., and in his Vindications against Grotius, chap. i.; in a little work, also, entitled, “Of the Causes of the Death of Christ,” chap. xvi. He pursued the same object in almost all his other writings, both polemical and dogmatical, and likewise in his commentaries; — a very artful man, and one that employed very great diligence and learning in the worst of causes. Michael Gitichius has the same thing in view in his writings against Paræus, and in his dispute with Ludovicus Lucius in defence of his first argument; — a most trifling sophist, a mere copyist of Socinus, and a servile follower of his master. Of mightier powers, too, rise up against us Valentinus Smalcius against Franzius; and (who is said to be still alive) the learned Jonas Schlichtingius. All these, with the rest of that herd, place all their hopes of overturning the doctrine of the satisfaction of Christ in opposing this justice.

But these are not the only adversaries we have to do with: there are others, pious, worthy, and very learned divines, who, respecting the point of Christ’s satisfaction, are most strictly orthodox, and who, though they cannot find in their hearts directly to deny that such an attribute or power is essential to God, yet maintain all its egresses and its whole exercise respecting sin to be so free and dependent on the mere free motion and good pleasure of the divine will, that should not that oppose, God might by his nod, by his word, without any trouble, by other modes and ways besides the satisfaction of Christ, if it only seemed proper to his wisdom, take away, pardon, 507and make an end of sin, without inflicting any penalty for the transgression of his law; and this, it is said, was the opinion of Augustine. By which, I will say, rash and daring assertion, — be it spoken without offence, for they are truly great men, — by their nod and breath, they suspend and disperse the very strongest arguments by which the adversaries feel themselves most hardly pushed, and by which the belief of Christ’s satisfaction is strongly supported, and deliver up our most holy cause, I had almost said defenceless, to be the sport of the Philistines. Nay, not very long ago, it has been discovered and lamented by the orthodox, that very considerable assistance has been imprudently given by a learned countryman of our own to these aliens, who defy the armies of the living God. “For if we could but get rid of this justice, even if we had no other proof,” says Socinus, “that human fiction of Christ’s satisfaction would be thoroughly exposed, and would vanish,” Soc. of the Saviour, book iii. chap. 1, etc.

Of our own countrymen, the only one I know is Rutherford, a Scotch divine, who roundly and boldly asserts “punitive justice to be a free act of the divine will.” Nor is he content with the bare assertion, but, supported chiefly by his arguments to whom the schoolmen are so much indebted, he defends the fallacy against both Cameron and Voetius, those two thunderbolts of theological war; though, in my opinion, neither with a force of argument nor felicity of issue equal to his opponents. But both the one and the others grant that God hath decreed to let no sin pass unpunished without a satisfaction; but that decree being supposed, with a law given, and a sanction of the same by threatenings, that a satisfaction was necessary. But that punitive justice necessarily requires the punishment of all sins, according to the rule of God’s right and wisdom, this is what they deny, and endeavour to overturn.

But to me these arguments are altogether astonishing, — namely, “That sin-punishing justice should be natural to God, and yet that God, sin being supposed to exist, may either exercise it or not exercise it.” They may also say, and with as much propriety, that truth is natural to God, but, upon a supposition that he were to converse with man, he might either use it or not; or, that omnipotence is natural to God, but upon a supposition that he were inclined to do any work without himself, that it were free to him to act omnipotently or not; or, finally, that sin-punishing justice is among the primary causes of the death of Christ, and that Christ was set forth as a propitiation to declare his righteousness, and yet that that justice required not the punishment of sin, for if it should require it, how is it possible that it should not necessarily require it, since God would be unjust if he should not inflict punishment? Or farther, they might as well assert that God willed that justice should be 508satisfied by so many and such great sufferings of his Son Christ, when that justice required no such thing; nay more, that setting aside the free act of the divine will, sin and no sin are the same with God, and that man’s mortality hath not followed chiefly as the consequence of sin, but of the will of God. These and such like difficulties I leave to the authors of this opinion (for they are very learned men) to unravel; as to myself, they fill me with confusion and astonishment.

But this I cannot forbear to mention, that those very divines who oppose our opinion, when hard pushed by their adversaries, perpetually have recourse in their disputations to this justice as to their sacred anchor,5757    The largest anchor in a vessel, used only in extreme danger, was so called. — Ed. and assert that without satisfaction God could not pardon sin consistently with his nature, justice and truth. But as these are very great absurdities, it would have seemed strange to me that any men of judgment and orthodoxy should have been so entangled in some of these sophisms as to renounce the truth on their account, unless I had happened at one time myself to fall into the same snare; which, to the praise and glory of that truth, of which I am now a servant, I freely confess to have been my case.

But to avoid mistakes as much as possible in discussing the nature of this justice, we will make the following observations:—

1. There are some attributes of Deity which, in order to their exercise, require no determined object antecedent to their egress; of this kind are wisdom and power. These attributes, at least as to their first exercise, must be entirely free, and dependent on the mere good pleasure of God only; so that antecedent to their acting, the divine will is so indifferent as to every exercise of them, on objects without himself, that he might even will the opposite. But if we suppose that God wills to do any work without himself, he must act omnipotently and wisely.

There are, again, some attributes which can in no wise have an egress or be exercised without an object predetermined, and, as it were, by some circumstances prepared for them. Among these is punitive justice, for the exercise of which there would be no ground but upon the supposition of the existence of a rational being and its having sinned; but these being supposed, this justice must necessarily act according to its own rule.

2. But that rule is not any free act of the divine will, but a supreme, intrinsic, natural right of Deity, conjoined with wisdom, to which the entire exercise of this justice ought to be reduced. Those men entirely trifle, then, who, devising certain absurd conclusions of their own, annex them to a supposition of the necessity of punitive justice, as to its exercise: as, for instance, that God ought to 509punish sin to the full extent of his power, and that he ought to punish every sin with eternal punishment; and that, therefore, he must preserve every creature that sins to eternity, and that he cannot do otherwise. I say they trifle, for God does not punish to the utmost extent of his power, but so far as is just; and all modes and degrees of punishment are determined by the standard of the divine right and wisdom.

Whether that necessarily require that every sin should be punished with eternal punishment, let those inquire who choose. “Nobis non licet esse tam disertis.

3. But the existence of a rational creature, and the moral dependence which it has, and must have, upon God, being supposed, the first egress of this justice is in the constitution of a penal law; not as a law which, as was before observed, originates from the justice of government, but as a penal law.

For if such a law were not made necessarily, it might be possible that God should lose his natural right and dominion over his creatures, and thus he would not be God; or, that right being established, that the creature might not be subject to him, which implies a contradiction not less than if you were to say that Abraham is the father of Isaac, but that Isaac is not the son of Abraham: for in case of a failure in point of obedience (a circumstance which might happen, and really hath happened), that dependence could be continued in no way but through means of a vicarious punishment, and there must have been a penal law constituted necessarily requiring that punishment. Hence arises a secondary right of punishing, which extends to every amplification of that penal law, in whatever manner made. But it has a second egress, in the infliction of punishment.

4. And here it is to be remarked, that this justice necessarily respects punishment in general, as including in it the nature of punishment, and ordaining such a vindication of the divine honour as God can acquiesce in: not the time or degrees, or such like circumstances of punishment, yea, not this or that species of punishment; for it respects only the preservation of God’s natural right and the vindication of his glory, both which may be done by punishment in general, however circumstanced. A dispensation, therefore, with punishment (especially temporary punishment), by a delay of time, an increase or diminution of the degree, by no means prejudiceth the necessity of the exercise of this justice, which only intends an infliction of punishment in general.

5. But, again, though we determine the egresses of this justice to be necessary, we do not deny that God exercises it freely; for that necessity doth not exclude a concomitant liberty, but only an antecedent indifference. This only we deny, — namely, that supposing a 510sinful creature, the will of God can be indifferent (by virtue of the punitive justice inherent in it) to inflict or not inflict punishment upon that creature, or to the volition of punishment or its opposite. The whole of Scripture, indeed, loudly testifies against any such indifference, nor is it consistent with God’s supreme right over his creatures; neither do they who espouse a different side contend with a single word brought from the Scriptures. But that God punishes sins with a concomitant liberty, because he is of all agents the most free, we have not a doubt. Thus, his intellectual will is carried towards happiness by an essential inclination antecedent to liberty, and notwithstanding it wills happiness with a concomitant liberty: for to act freely is the very nature of the will; yea, it must necessarily act freely.

Let our adversaries, therefore, dream as they please, that we determine God to be an absolutely necessary agent when he is a most free one, and that his will is so circumscribed, by some kind of justice which we maintain, that he cannot will those things which, setting the consideration of that justice aside, would be free to him; for we acknowledge the Deity to be both a necessary and free agent, — necessary in respect of all his actions internally, or in respect of the persons in the Godhead towards one another. The Father necessarily begets the Son, and loves himself. As to these and such like actions, he is of all necessary agents the most necessary. But in respect of the acts of the divine will which have their operations and effects upon external objects, he is an agent absolutely free, being one “who worketh all things according to the counsel of his own will.” But of these acts there are two kinds; for some are absolute, and admit no respect to any antecedent condition.

Of this kind is his purpose of creating the world, and in it rational creatures, properly adapted to know and obey the Creator, Benefactor, and Lord of all. In works of this kind God hath exercised the greatest liberty. His infinitely wise and infinitely free will is the fountain and origin of all things; neither is there in God any kind of justice, or any other essential attribute, which could prescribe any limits or measure to the divine will. But this decree of creating being supposed, the divine will undergoes a double necessity, so to speak, both in respect of the event and in respect of its manner of acting: for in respect of the event, it is necessary, from the immutability of God, that the world should be created; and in respect of the manner of doing it, that it should be done omnipotently, because God is essentially omnipotent, and it being once supposed that he wills to do any work without himself, he must do it omnipotently. Yet, notwithstanding these considerations, in the creation of the world God was entirely a free agent; he exercised will and understanding in acting, although the choice of acting or not acting, and 511of acting in one particular way or another, is taken away by his immutability and omnipotence.

There is another kind of the acts of the divine will which could have no possible existence but upon a condition supposed.

This kind contains the egresses and exercise of those attributes which could not be exercised but upon a supposition of other antecedent acts, of which we have treated before. Of this kind are all the acts of the divine will in which justice, mercy, etc., exert their energy. But these attributes of the divine nature are either for the purpose of preserving or continuing to God what belongs to him of right, supposing that state of things which he hath freely appointed, or for bestowing on his creatures some farther good. Of the former kind is vindicatory justice; which, as it cannot be exercised but upon the supposition of the existence of a rational being and of its sin, so, these being supposed, the supreme right and dominion of the Deity could not be preserved entire unless it were exercised. Of the latter kind is sparing mercy, by which God bestows an undeserved good on miserable creatures; for, setting aside the consideration of their misery, this attribute cannot be exercised, but that being supposed, if he be inclined to bestow any undeserved good on creatures wretched through their own transgression, he may exercise this mercy if he will. But again; in the exercise of that justice, although, if it were not to be exercised, according to our former hypothesis, God would cease from his right and dominion, and so would not be God, still he is a free and also an absolutely necessary agent; for he acts from will and understanding, and not from an impetus of nature only, as fire burns. And he freely willed that state and condition of things; which being supposed, that justice must necessarily be exercised. Therefore, in the exercise of it he is not less free than in speaking; for supposing, as I said before, that his will were to speak anything, it is necessary that he speak the truth. Those loud outcries, therefore, which the adversaries so unseasonably make against our opinion, as if it determined God to be an absolutely necessary agent, in his operations ad extra, entirely vanish and come to naught. But we will treat more fully of these things when we come to answer objections.

Finally, let it be observed that the nature of mercy and justice are different in respect of their exercise: for between the act of mercy and its object no natural obligation intervenes; for God is not bound to any one to exercise any act of mercy, neither is he bound to reward obedience, for this is a debt due from his natural right, and from the moral dependence of the rational creature, and indispensably thence arising. But between the act of justice and its object a natural obligation intervenes, arising from the indispensable subordination of the creature to God; which, supposing disobedience or sin, could not otherwise be secured than by punishment. Nor is 512the liberty of the divine will diminished in any respect more by the necessary egresses of divine justice than by the exercise of other attributes; for these necessary egresses are the consequence, not of an absolute but of a conditional necessity, — namely, a rational creature and its sin being supposed, and both existing freely in respect of God, but the necessary suppositions being made, the exercise of other perfections is also necessary; for it being supposed that God were disposed to speak with man, he must necessarily speak according to truth.

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