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terity for his sin, until it can be shown that the very same punishment may be inflicted without regard to any sin.
But having already received Dr. Emmons's opinions respecting original sin, we will direct our attention to the dangerous doctrine which he defends, in regard to the threatenings of God; namely, that he is under no obligation from his veracity to execute them. He makes a wide difference between the obligation to fulfil promises, and the obligation to inflict threatened punishment. An attempt is made to prove that neither temporal nor spiritual death was any part of the penalty of the law of Paradise; but that the death mentioned in connexion with the precept was nothing less than eternal death. Now as Adam did not die a temporal or eternal death on the day in which he sinned; and as spiritual death is no part of the penalty of the law, the threatening, "In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die," could not have been executed. From these assumed principles, he draws the conclusion, that God is not bound to execute his threatenings. The obvious objection to this doctrine, from the veracity of God, he fairly states, as follows: "It is said that a divine threatening. always pledges the divine veracity; so that whatever death God threatened to Adam, he was obliged to inflict upon him, or violate the truth, which was morally impossible; for God cannot lie. But he did not die temporal or eternal death, the day he sinned, which proves that spiritual death was the only death threatened." To which he answers: "It must be allowed that this reasoning is just and conclusive, if God does pledge his veracity to inflict the punishment which he threatens to the transgressors of his laws. But he never does pledge his veracity to inflict the punishment threatened in any law." This falls strangely on our If it is so, then his threatenings do not mean what the words import. Suppose a man were solemnly to declare that if a servant or son committed a specified offence he should certainly be expelled from his house; would there be no breach of veracity in omitting to execute his own threatening? And shall man be more regardful of his word than the God of truth? If God says positively to man, In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die, has he not spoken the word, and will he not do it? Most certainly his veracity is pledged in every word which he speaks; and in regard to this point, it matters not whether the declaration be a promise, a threatening, or a mere asser
tion. To deny this is to deny one of the plainest principles of duty which could be stated; yet this doctrine sets up a plea to justify God in solemnly declaring one thing, while it is his secret purpose to do the contrary. Away with such Jesuitical pretences, fitted to cast dishonour upon the veracity of our God. For if God is not bound to execute threatenings which are not conditional, how do we know that he will fulfil his promises? If he can omit to execute the one, he may neglect to fulfil the other. And if this doctrine is true, there is no certainty that God will ever execute any of his threatenings of future and eternal punishment: after all, these may be a mere brutum fulmen, intended to frighten man. God is very merciful, and delighteth not in the death of the sinner, and therefore at the day of judg ment, instead of saying to the wicked, "Depart into everlasting fire," he may say the contrary; and no punishment whatever may be inflicted on men or devils. This consequence did not escape the acute perception of our author, and he made an effort to obviate it. "There is," says he, "a wide difference between a divine threatening, and a divine prediction and promise. God always pledges his veracity to fulfil a promise or prediction; but he never pledges his veracity to fulfil a bare threatening. A legal threatening is always a bare threatening, which implies neither a promise nor prediction." "There is a wide difference between his predicting, or promising to punish the wicked, and his merely threatening to punish them; and the reason is, that in predicting, or promising to punish the wicked, he expresses his design, intention, or determination to punish them; whereas, in his threatening, he expresses his disposition, not his design, or determination to punish." "We may hence conclude that God might have pardoned and saved Adam, notwithstanding he had threatened to punish him with eternal death for the first offence."*
A horrible doctrine! It tends directly to cast a deep blot on one of God's glorious attributes; and by calling in question the truth of his word, in one class of his most positive and solemn declarations, breeds distrust of all that he has ever said in regard to the final destiny of the wicked. "But let God be true and every man a liar." As to the subtle and pretended distinction between a threatening and a prediction it is without the least foundation. An absolute threatening
*Volume iv. pp. 473-4.
is nothing else than a prediction of the evil which God will bring upon sinners; and a prediction of such evil is precisely a threatening of the same. There is no difference whatever in the things. In some cases, as in that of Nineveh, the threatening was evidently conditional: although the condition was not expressed it was implied; for Jonah was sent to call the people to repentance; and when they repented, of course the threatened judgment was averted.
But in regard to the threatening against Adam, there was no need to invent any such doctrine to save the divine veracity. The death threatened comprehended all sorts of evils which will ever follow in consequence of sin. It included, therefore, every kind of death to which men are subject, and under whatever circumstances, temporal, spiritual, and eternal. For as to our author's reasoning that spiritual death cannot be the punishment of sin, it has no force, and is the old, stale Pelagian objection which has been answered a thousand times, and by none better than by Augustin himself. Suppose we allow, that eternal death was the only thing meant in the threatening. It must have a beginning, and can never be inflicted wholly in any limited time. It began then when Adam was cast out of the favour of God and lost his image. When we consider what eternal death is, it cannot be separated from that spiritual death which, Dr. Emmons confesses, commenced on the day of Adam's fall. The continuance and maturity of spiritual death is eternal death. Remove this, and hell would lose more than half its horrors. The threatening, then, was literally executed. Adam did die, in the most important sense of the word. The body became corrupt, diseased, and mortal. Death that day began to operate on it. The soul died, by being separated from the love and communion of God, and by the loss of his image.
It is pretended that if God's threatenings must be executed, then there could be no salvation for fallen man, but that the penalty must be executed. The penalty is executed. God hath revealed to us a plan of substitution by which one fully qualified can bear the penalty of the law in the room of the guilty. This is the grand mystery of divine wisdom, now revealed to us in the ever blessed gospel. Christ, our mediator, has completely fulfilled the law and satisfied divine justice for all whom the Father hath given to him.
We have not time nor space to review Dr. Emmons's
theory of Conscience. It leads to the greatest absurdities, and is contrary to all just principles of mental philosophy, and to all experience. But as it is rather a subject for the metaphysician than the theologian we shall not detain the reader with any of our remarks on the subject.
Let us rather inquire into the opinions of Dr. Emmons, respecting the work of the Mediator. Here the doctrine of the Atonement, as being the central point in the Christian system, demands our special attention; and no doctrine of scripture has been more perverted and corrupted by the New Divinity than this. Indeed, some of the views on this subject, which have been published and zealously circulated, approach so near to those of Socinus and his followers, that there is not much to choose between them. It appears from Dr. Emmons's life, prefixed to his works, that his sentiments, published in several sermons, gave no small offence; and that some of his friends were grieved on account of the boldness of his opinions. One of them, who is represented as a man of some distinction, wrote to him: "My dear sir, I have read your sermon on the atonement, and have wept over it. Yours affectionately, A. B. C." These admonitory words were no sooner read, says Professor Park, "than the following reply was written and sent to the Post Office, Dear Sir, I have read your letter and laughed at it. Yours, Nathanael Emmons."" The reverend professor descries a charm in this laconic repartee. If a sound judgment and delicate taste had guided the pen of the biographer, the coarse and flippant witticism would have been suppressed, as altogether unbecoming in such a theologian as Dr. Emmons.
The sermon on the Necessity of the Atonement,' the first in the fifth volume of his works, contains in the body of the discourse, a concise but just statement of the grounds of this necessity; and what he says respecting the substitution of Christ, to suffer in the room of sinners is correct, though very inconsistent with opinions which he elsewhere expresses.
But it is in the improvement,' or inferences of Dr. Emmons's sermons, that we are to look for his most startling and erroneous opinions. In these, he comes on his readers by a surprise, and deduces from the preceding discourse such inferences as probably no other man would have thought of. So in this discourse there are no less than eight inferences, no one of which is, in our opinion, any inference ́at all from
the matter of the discourse to which they are appended. The first is, "that if the atonement was necessary entirely on God's account, that he might be just in exercising pardoning mercy to penitent sinners, then it was universal." Now from the doctrine of the body of the discourse, the very contrary would seem to be the logical inference; namely that Christ died only for those in whose room he suffered. The second inference is, " that if the atonement of Christ was necessary on God's account to satisfy his justice towards himself in exercising pardoning mercy to the guilty, then it did not satisfy justice towards sinners themselves." We have never met with a greater confusion of ideas than in this sentence. The notion of a satisfaction to justice on God's account, which is no satisfaction for the sinner, is simply preposterous. The true state of the case is this: man having transgressed the law, and incurred its penalty, lies under the curse of God, from which he cannot be released, unless an atonement be made. The thing to be effected by the atonement is the satisfaction of the laws of justice, which bind the sinner to suffer the penalty. A mediator interposes and undertakes to make the requisite atonement; that is, to satisfy the law for the sins committed. This can be done only by enduring the penalty, which otherwise must have fallen on the sinner. It is evident, therefore, that when justice is satisfied in relation to God, it must be a satisfaction to justice for the sinner. The notion of a satisfaction to justice, which has no relation to the sins which have provoked divine justice, is utterly idle. The author goes on to say, "that justice as it respects them (sinners) stands in full force against them. Nothing which Christ did or suffered, altered their characters, deserts, or obligations."-" Both the precept and the penalty of the law are founded in the nature of things; and Christ did not come to destroy these, nor could he destroy them by obedience or sufferings. The atonement which Christ has made has left sinners in the same state they were in before." Here we see the fountain from which some of our modern writers have derived their opinions. And here we have the doctrine of the New Divinity fairly brought out; throwing into confusion the whole system of the gospel, and actually subverting the scriptural doctrine of atonement.
The third inference deduced from this sermon, is even more extraordinary than either of the former. It is this: "If the atonement of Christ was necessary entirely on God's