The Justice of God.

Position 1.—God is infinitely, absolutely and unchangeably just. The justice of God may be considered either immanently, as it is in Himself, which is, properly speaking, the same with His holiness; or transiently and relatively, as it respects His right conduct towards His creatures, which is properly justice. By the former He is all that is holy, just and good; by the latter, He is manifested to be so in all His dealings with angels and men. For the first, see Deut. 32:4; Psa. 92:15; for the second, Job 8:3; Psa. 145:17. Hence it follows that whatever God either wills or does, however it may, at first sight, seem to clash with our ideas of right and wrong, cannot really be unjust. It is certain that for a season He sorely afflicted His righteous servant Job, and, on the other hand, enriched the Sabeans, an infidel and lawless nation, with a profusion of wealth and a series of success; before Jacob and Esau were born, or had done either good or evil, He loved and chose the former and reprobated the latter; He gave repentance to Peter and left Judas to perish in his sin; and as in all ages, so to this day, “He hath mercy on whom He will, and whom He will He hardeneth.” In all which He acts most justly and righteously, and there is no iniquity with Him.

Position 2.—The Deity may be considered in a three-fold view: as God of all, as Lord of all, and as Judge of all. (1) As God of all, He created, sustains and exhilarates the whole universe; causes His sun to shine, and His rain to fall upon the evil and the good (Matt. 5), and is the Preserver of all men (1 Tim. 4:10). For as He is infinitely and supremely good, so also is He communicative of His goodness, as appears not only from His creation of all things, but especially from His providential benignity. Everything has its being from Him as Creator, and its well-being from Him as a bountiful Preserver.

(2) As Lord or Sovereign of all, He does as He will (and has a most unquestionable right to do so) with His own, and in particular fixes and determines the everlasting state of every individual person, as He sees fit. It is essential to absolute sovereignty that the sovereign have it in his power to dispose of those over whom his jurisdiction extends, just as he pleases, without being accountable to any; and God, whose authority is unbounded, none being exempt from it, may, with the strictest holiness and justice, love or hate, elect or reprobate, save or destroy any of His creatures, whether human or angelic, according to His own free pleasure and sovereign purpose.

(3) As Judge of all, He ratifies what He does as Lord by rendering to all according to their works, by punishing the wicked, and rewarding those whom it was His will to esteem righteous and to make holy.

Position 3.—Whatever things God wills or does are not willed and done by Him because they were in their own nature and previously to His willing them, just and right, or because, from their intrinsic fitness, He ought to will and do them; but they are therefore just, right and proper because He, who is holiness itself, wills and does them.

Hence, Abraham looked upon it as a righteous action to slay his innocent son. Why did he so esteem it, because the law of God authorised murder? No; for, on the contrary, both the law of God and the law of nature peremptorily forbade it; but the holy patriarch well knew that the will of God is the only rule of justice, and that what He pleases to command is, on that very account, just and righteous.[1]

Position 4.—It follows that, although our works are to be examined by the revealed will of God, and be denominated materially good or evil, as they agree or disagree with it, yet the works of God Himself cannot be brought to any test whatever, for, His will being the grand universal law, He Himself cannot be, properly speaking, subject to or obliged by any law superior to that. Many things are done by Him, such as choosing and reprobating men, without any respect had to their works; suffering people to fall into sin, when, if it so pleased Him, fie might prevent it; leaving many backsliding professors to go on and perish in their apostacy, when it is in His Divine power to sanctify and set them right; drawing some by His grace, and permitting many others to continue in sin and unregeneracy; condemning those to future misery whom, if He pleased, He could undoubtedly save; with innumerable instances of the like nature (which might be mentioned), and which, if done by us, would be apparently unjust, inasmuch as they would not square with the revealed will of God, which is the great and only safe rule of our practice. But when He does these and such like things, they cannot but be holy, equitable and worthy of Himself; for, since His will is essentially and unchangeably just, whatever He does, in consequence of that will, must be just and good likewise. From what has been delivered under this fifth head, I would infer that they who deny the power God has of doing as He will with His creatures, and exclaim against unconditional decrees as cruel, tyrannical and unjust, either know not what they say nor whereof they affirm, or are willful blasphemers of His name and perverse rebels against His sovereignty, to which, at last, however unwillingly, they will be forced to submit.

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[1] Compare also Exod. 3:22 with Exod. 20:15.



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