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Chapter V

Retributive justice is retrospective in its primary aim. It looks back at what has been doue in the past. Its first object is requital. A man is hung for murder, principally and before all other reasons, because he has transgressed the law forbidding murder. He is not punished primarily from a prospective aim, such as his own moral improvement, or for the purpose of preventing him from committing another murder, or for the purpose of deterring others from committing murder. It is true that moral improvement may be the consequence of the infliction of the penalty. But the consequence must not be confounded with the purpose. Cum hoc, non ergo propter hoc. The criminal may come to see and confess that his crime deserves the punishment, and in genuine unselfish penitence may take sides with the law, and go into eternity relying upon that great atonement of Christ which satisfies retributive justice for his sin; but even this greatest benefit of all, is not what is aimed at in man's punishment of the crime of murder. For even if there should be no such personal benefit as this attending the infliction of human penalty, the one sufficient reason for inflicting it still holds good, viz., the fact that the law has been violated, and demands the punishment of the offender for this reason simply. Only upon this view of justice, is the true dignity of man maintained. When he is punished because, as a rational and free being, he has responsibly violated the law, there is a recognition of him as a person endowed with free will. But if he is seized and made to suffer for the benefit of others, he is treated like a chattel, or a thing that may be put to use. "The nature of ill-desert and punishableness," says Kant (Practischer Vernunft, 151, Ed. Rosenkranz), "is always involved in the idea of voluntary transgression; and the idea of punishment excludes that of happiness in all its forms. For although he who inflicts penalty may, it is true, also have a benevolent purpose to produce by the punishment a beneficial effect upon the criminal, yet the punishment itself must be justified first of all as pure and simple requital and retribution: that is, as a kind of suffering that is demanded by the law, without any reference to its prospective beneficial consequences; so that even if no moral improvement and no personal advantage should accrue to the person from the punishment, he must acknowledge that righteousness has been done to him, and that his experience is exactly conformed to his conduct. In every punishment, as such, justice is the very first thing, and constitutes the essence of it. A benevolent purpose, it is true, may be conjoined with punishment; but the criminal cannot claim this as his due, and he has no right to reckon upon it. All that he deserves, is punishment; and this is all that he can expect from the law which he has violated." The same view is taken of the retrospective aim of justice by Muller, in his lucid discrimination between chastisement and punishment. Doctrine of Sin, I. 244 seq. The opposite view, that punishment is prospective in its primary purpose, and aims only at reformation, was maintained by the Greek sophists. Protagoras is represented by Plato as saying, that " no one punishes the evildoer under the notion, or for the reason that he has done wrong; only the unreasonable fury of a tyrant acts in that way." Protagoras, 324. Plato (Laws, X. 904, 905) holds that punishment is retributive. Cicero (De Legibus, I. 14) contends that virtue has regard to justice, not to utility. Grotius defines penalty, as " the evil of suffering inflicted on account of the evil of doing." Coke, Bacon, Selden, and Blackstone explain punishment by crime not by expediency. Kant, Herbert, Stahl, Hartenstein, Rothe, and Woolsey (Political Science, II. viii), define punishment as requital. Beccaria and Bentham found punishment on utility and expedience. Penny Cyclopaedia, Article, Beccaria. Paley notices the difference between human punishment and divine. In the former, there is a combination of the retributive with the protective and reformatory, but not in the latter. Moral Philosophy, VI. ix.

If the good of the public is the chief end of punishment, the criminal might be made to suffer more than his crime deserves. If he can be used like a thing, for the benefit of others, there is no limit to the degree in which he may be used. His personal desert and responsibility being left out of view, he may be made to suffer as much, or as little as the public welfare prescribes. It was this theory of penalty that led to the multiplication of capital crimes. Tbe prevention of forgery, it was claimed in England, required that the forger should be executed; and npon the principle that punishment is for the public protection, and not for exact justice and strict retribution, the forger was hanged. But a merely civil crime against property, and not against human life, does not merit the death penalty. Upon this theory, the number of capital offences became very numerous, and the criminal code very bloody. So that, in the long run, nothing is kinder than exact justice. It prevents extremes in either direction: either that of indulgence, or that of cruelty. Shedd: Endless Punishment, pp. 118-140.

Commutative justice implies an exchange of values between two parties, wherein each gives and receives in return. This species has no place in reference to God; for "who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed to him again?" Rom. 11: 35.

Public or general justice, is a distinction invented by Grotius, for the purpose of meeting certain Socinian objections to the Anselmic doctrine of strict satisfaction. It is a relaxed form of justice, by virtue of which God waives a full satisfaction of legal claims, and accepts a partial satisfaction in lieu thereof. Analyzed to its ultimate elements, "public justice " is benevolence, not justice. Justice is the exact distribution of reward or of punishment. Anything therefore that is inexact, is in so far unjust. Too much or too little suffering for a crime is not pure justice. Says the younger Edwards (Against Channcey, ch. IV.), "general or public justice is an improper use of the word justice; because, to practise justice in this sense is no other than to act from public spirit, or from love to the community; and with respect to the universe, it is the very same with general benevolence." Giotius agreed with Socinus, and both of them agreed with Duns Scotus, in making punitive justice optional, not necessary. Grotius held that punishment could be waived and not inflicted, if God s0 decided. It is not necessary that sin be punished with such a punishment as strictly, and fully corresponds with the guilt. An inferior penalty may be inflicted, or even no penalty at all, if God s0 determine. What then was the difference between Grotius and Socinus? It was this. Socinus asserted that when God decides to waive legal claims, he need not do anything to guard against the evil consequences of so doing. lle can release the sinner from all punishment, and let the matter drop there. Grotius, on the other hand, though agreeing with his opponent that God can dispense with penalty altogether, yet maintained that he cannot do it with safety to the universe, unless he gives some expression to his abhorrence of sin. This he does by the death of Christ. When God remits penalty by this method, he guards against the abuse of his benevolence; which abuse Socinus made no provision for in his system. According to Grotius, the substituted sufferings of Christ are not a strict equivalent for the penalty due to sin, but an accepted equivalent, as when a creditor agrees to take fifty cents for a dollar, in the settlement of a commercial debt.

Grotius applies the principles of commercial justice to the doctrine of Christ's atonement. He employs an illustration from the Roman commercial law, as presented in the Pandects of Justinian. Commercial justice can be satisfied by word of mouth. If a creditor calls a debt paid, it is paid; and the release is denominated " acceptilatio," or acquittance by word of mouth. Commercial justice has no further demands to make, when the creditor has said that the debt is paid. In like manner, if God will say that the moral law is satisfied by an inferior penalty, it is satisfied; and if he should say that it is satisfied with no penalty at all, it would be satisfied. There are no claims standing against the sinner, because the claims being of a positive, not a necessary nature; being constituted by the optional will of God; they can be abrogated by the same almighty will. Socinus (De Servatore, IIL i.) argues "that God is our creditor. Our sins are debts which we have contracted towards him. But a creditor can by an act of will surrender his claim, without making any legal provision for so doing." This abolishes the distinction between commercial and moral indebtedness, and assumes that the claims of justice and government, like those of a pecuniary creditor, have no necessary quality, but are voidable by an act of will. A pecuniary creditor can abolish his claim by a volition, but a magistrate cannot so abolish a moral claim. Shedd: History of Doctrine, II. 347 sq.

The Goodness of God is the Divine essence viewed as energizing benevolently, and kindly, towards the creature. It is an emanent, or transitive attribute, issuing forth from the Divine nature, and aiming to promote the welfare and happiness of the universe. It is not that attribute by which God is good; but by which he does good. As good in himself, God is holy; as showing goodness to others, he is good or kind. The Septnagint renders aits by yjpr\trrbs = useful. "Good (xpr7oro?) art thou, O Lord, and thou doest good," Ps. 119 : 68. In Rom. 5: 7, holiness is designated by Sucatos, and kindness by ayaSo<;: "Scarcely for a righteous (Sbccuo<:) man will one die; yet peradventure for a good (dyaS6<;) man, some would even dare to die." In Luke 18 :19, the reference is to benevolence, not to holiness: "None is good (dyaS6s), save one, that is God."

Goodness is a special attribute with varieties under it. 1. The first of these is Benevolence. This is the affection which the Creator feels towards the sentient and conscious creature, as such. Benevolence cannot be shown to insentient existence; to the rocks and mountains. It grows out of the fact that the creature is his workmanship. God is interested in everything which he has made. He cannot hate any of his own handiwork. The wrath of God is not excited by anything that took its origin from him. It falls only upon something that has been added to his own work. Sin is no part of creation, but a quality introduced into creation by the creature himself.

God's benevolent love towards his creatures, considered as creatures merely, is infinitely greater than any love of a creature towards a creature. No earthly father loves his child with a benevolence equal to that which the Heavenly Father feels towards his created offspring. Luke 6:35, "The Highest is kind (^p^oro?) unto the unthankful and to the evil." Matt. 5:45, "Your Father which is in heaven maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." Disobedience and ingratitude deaden and destroy the benevolent feeling of man towards man, but not that of God towards his creatures. Sinful men are the objects of God's providential care, as well as renewed men. Even Satan and the fallen angels are treated with all the benevolence which their enmity to God will admit of. God feels no malevolence towards them.

The benevolent interest which God as a creator takes in the sentient creature, as the product of his omnipotent power, is illustrated by the following from Aristotle. "The benefactor loves him whom he has benefited, more than he who has been benefited loves the benefactor. The workman loves his own work, more than the work loves the workman. All men feel greater love for what they have acquired with labor; as those who have earned their money love it more than those who have inherited it. Mothers are more fond of their children than fathers are; for the bringing them forth is painful. Parents have greater love for their children, than children have for their parents." Ethics, IX. vii. Upon this principle, the benevolent affection of God towards his creatures is greater than that of creatures towards each other. God's compassionate love is more tender than that of an earthly father or mother. Ps. 27 :10, "When my father and mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up." Men are commanded to imitate the Divine benevolence as the highest form of this affection. Matt. 5 :44: "Love your enemies, do good to them that hate yon; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven. Be ye therefore perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect." Compare Plato: Republic, I. 33. Montaigne: Essays, VI. viii. (Of the Affection of Fathers).

God's benevolent interest in the sentient creature, and his care for its welfare, is proportioned and suited to the nature and circumstances of the creature. (a) It extends to the animals: Ps. 145 :16, " Thou opeuest thine hand, and suppliest the desire of every living thing." Ps. 104:21, "The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God." Compare the whole psalm. Job 38:41, "Who provideth for the raven his' food?" Matt. 6 : 26, "Behold the fowls of the air, for they sow not, yet your heavenly Father feedeth them." Ps. 36 : 6, " Thou preservest man and beast." (5) It extends to man. Acts 14: 17, "He left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven." (c) It extends to sinful man. Matt. 5 :45, "He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good." Acts 14 :17, "He suffered all nations to walk in their own ways, nevertheless, filling their hearts with food and gladness." Neh. 9 :17, "But thou art a God slow to anger, and of great kindness, and forsookest them not."

The Divine benevolence varies in its degrees, in accordance with the capacity of the object to receive it. The brute experiences all of it that he is capable of. As he is physical only, he can receive from his creator only physical good. Man is both physical and mental; and receives both physical and mental good. Sinful man is deprived of a full manifestation of the Divine benevolence, only by reason of his sin. God manifests to the sinner all the benevolence that he is qualified to receive. He sends him physical and temporal good: rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling his heart with food and gladness ; but he cannot bestow upon a sinful and hostile man his approving love, and fill him with heavenly peace and joy. The Divine benevolence, therefore, is infinite. It is not limited in its manifestation by anything in itself, but only by the capacity and characteristics of the creature.

The chief objections to the doctrine of the Divine benevolence are the following: 1. The permission of sin. 2. The existence of suffering here upon earth. 3. The slow progress of redemption. Respecting the first, it is to be observed that the permission of sin has cost God more than it has man. No sacrifice and suffering on account of sin has been undergone by any man, that is equal to that which has been endured by incarnate God. This shows that God is not acting selfishly, in permitting sin. At the very time that he permits it, he knows that it will result in an infinite sacrifice on his part. Respecting the second, it is to be said, that the suffering of both animals and man is often greatly exaggerated. The " struggle for existence" in the animal world is not so great as Darwin and others represent. The majority, certainly, survive. If they did not, the species would diminish, and gradually become extinct. But the fact is, that generally they are steadily increasing. And in the human world, there is no struggle at all for existence. Men do not feed upon one another. The amount of enjoyment, in both the animal and the human world, is greater than the amount of suffering. "The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord," Ps. 35 : 5. "After all( it is a happy world," said Paley. See his proof, in his Natural Theology, XXVI. "It is manifest," says King (Foreknowledge, II.),"that though good be much mixed with evil in this life, yet there is much more good than evil in nature, and every animal provides for its own preservation by instinct or reason, which it would never do, if it did not think or feel its life, with all the evils annexed, to be much preferable to non-existence. This is a proof of the wisdom, goodness, and power of God, who could thus temper a world infested with so many miseries, that nothing should continue in it which was not in some measure pleased with its existence, and which would not endeavor by all possible means to preserve it." Furthermore, it must be remembered that in the human world suffering is the effect of sin. Most of the suffering among mankiud comes from poverty and disease; and these are due very greatly to the two vices of intemperance and sensuality. And finally, pain is not an absolute evil for man, unless it is hell-pain. All suffering except that of eternal remorse and despair may be a means of good to him. Respecting the third objection, the success of redemption must be estimated at the end of the process, not at the beginning, or in the middle of it. Thus estimated, the great majority of the human family are redeemed by Christ.

2. Mercy is a second variety of the Divine Goodness.. It is the benevolent compassion of God towards man as a sinner. This attribute, though logically implied in the idea of God as a being possessed of all conceivable perfections, is free and sovereign in its exercise. Consequently, it requires a special revelation in order to establish the fact that it will be exercised. As omnipotence is a necessary attribute of God, and yet its exercise in the creation of the universe is not necessary but optional, so, though mercy is a necessary attribute, its exercise is not also necessary. "The goodness of the Deity is infinite," says Charnocke (Goodness of God), "and circumscribed by no limits; but the exercise of his goodness may be limited by himself. God is necessarily good in his nature; but free in his communication of it. He is not necessarily communicative of his goodness, as the sun of its light; which chooses not its objects, but enlightens all indifferently. This were to make God of no more understanding than the sun, which shines not where it pleases but where it must. He is an understanding agent, and hath a sovereign right to choose his own subjects. It would not be a supreme, if it were not a voluntary goodness."

Accordingly, the fact that the attribute of mercy will be exercised towards sinful man is taught only in the written revelation. Indeed, this constitutes the most important and principal part of the teaching of inspiration. In the very first communication made to the fallen pair, there was a promise on the part of God, to show mercy in and by the "Seed of the woman:" the Son of man, the incarnate God, Gen. 3 :15. And in the yet more explicit revelation made to Moses on the mount, in connection with the giving of the law, "Jehovah passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful (Dirn tender, compassionate), and gracious ('pan, showing kindness), long-suffering, a"nd abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin," Ex. 34: 6, 7. To quote all the proof-texts for this attribute, would be to quote the bulk of both the Old and the New Testament.

Grace is an aspect of mercy. It differs from mercy, in that it has reference to sinful man as guilty, while mercy has respect to sinful man as miserable. The one refers to the culpability of sin, and the other to its wretchedness. The two terms, however, in common use are interchangeable. Grace, like mercy, is a variety of the Divine goodness.

Both mercy and grace are exercised in a general manner, towards those who are not the objects of their special manifestation. All blessings bestowed upon the natural man are mercy, in so far as they succor his distress, and grace, so far as they are bestowed upon the undeserving. Matt. 5 :45, "He maketh his sun to rise upon the evil." Ps. 145 : 9, "The Lord is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works." Fs. 145:15, 16," The eyes of all wait upon thee."

This general manifestation of mercy and grace is in and by the works of creation and providence. It is also seen in one aspect of the work of redemption. Men who are not actually saved by the Divine mercy, yet obtain some blessings from it. (a) The delay of punishment is one; namely, the pretermission {irdpeat,<;) of sin, in distinction from its remission (a^eo-t?). Rom. 3 : 25. God's forbearance and longsuffering with a sinner who abuses this by persistence in sin, is a phase of mercy. This is " through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." It is made possible by it. Without Christ's work, there would have been instantaneous punishment, and no long-suffering. This is also taught in 1 Pet. 3:20, " The long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah." (b) The common influences of the Holy Spirit are another manifestation of mercy in its general form.

Special grace and mercy are exercised only in redemption, and towards those whom God is pleased to fix upon. Eph. 1: 4-6, "According as he hath chosen us in him, having predestinated us unto the adoption of children to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted (i^apiraaev) in the Beloved." Rom. 9:15, "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion."

The Truth or veracity of God, is that attribute of his nature by virtue of which he performs what he has said. Num. 23 :19, " God is not a man, that he should lie." It is seen: 1. In revelation. 1 Pet. 1: 25, " The word of the Lord endureth forever." Ps. 100 : 5, " His truth endureth to all generations." Matt. 5 :18, "One jot or tittle shall not pass from the law till all be fulfilled." 2. In redemption. Heb. 10 : 23, "He is faithful that promised." Heb. 6:17, "God willing [desiring] more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his council, confirmed it by an oath." 1 Cor. 1:9," God is faithful, by whom ye were called." 2 Tim. 2 :13, "He abideth faithful; be cannot deny himself." 3. In retribution. Heb. 3 :11, "So, I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest." Compare with Heb. 4:1 seq.