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De Moor IV:46: God's Remunerative Justice


ARISTOTLE divides Particular Righteousness into Commutative and Distributive. Commutative Righteousness/Justice, which is to be observed in contracts and commerce, does not have a place in God; since, 1. it is posited in the equality of the thing given and the thing received, with the Arithmetical proportion preserved, and, 2. by it ownership is transferred; neither of which is able to be said of God, Romans 11:35; 1 Corinthians 4:7; Genesis 32:10; 1 Chronicles 29:14, 16. Rather, God’s Judiciary Righteousness comes near to Distributive Righteousness/Justice; although, with respect to the distribution of Rewards made to the pious, a Distribution of this sort, in which a Geometric proportion is preserved, is hardly able to be attributed to God, and to such an extent analogically, more than properly, this Distributive Righteousness agrees: since God’s Remunerative Righteousness supposes no merit in man according to the Gospel, nor any proportion between that works that he renders and the reward that God bestows. Hence AUGUSTINE on Psalm 102, more truly Psalm 103,[1] opera, tome 4, column 838, “He crowns thee, because He crowns His gifts, not thy merits.” And on Psalm 98, § 8, column 799, “Who in us is not going to crown our merits, but His own gifts, as far as exaltation is due?” compare PITCAIRN’S[2] Harmoniam Euangelicam Apostolorum Pauli et Jacobi, section IV, article VIII, point IV, page 224.

That is, since God has entered into a twofold Covenant with man, the one of Works, the other of Grace, a twofold way of receiving Remuneration arises on the human side, and hence a twofold manner of exercising Justice/Righteousness on the divine side. But, as far as Evangelical Remuneration according to the structure of the Covenant of Grace is concerned, that certain follows upon a man Repenting and Believing upon Christ according to the most liberal promises made to Him; but only because of the altogether perfect merity of Christ, by which graciously imputed to him, in that very Justification man as sinner now acquires the Right of possessing eternal life and a heavenly inheritance; for the actual possessing of which he then exerts himself in the Way of holiness as a result of faith, so that he might conduct himself in a manner worthy of the divine communion granted to him anew in Christ, and of the Grace already bestowed upon him and continually enlarged; but in such a way, 1. that he furnishes nothing here without divine Grace, which grants to him the ability to walk in a manner worthy of his Calling, since the same Christ, who was made to him Righteousness, is also made to him Sanctification, 1 Corinthians 1:30. 2. That he knows that he deserves nothing in this manner, since he acknowledges himself to be God’s debtor, Luke 17:10. 3. That on his works he founds no right for seeking eternal life and glory from God, since he knows that this has already been bestowed upon him in Christ, and since he sees the Grace bestowed upon him as so polluted and stained by the sinful imperfections adhering to him and intervening, that he always holds it to be necessary to deprecate the just judgment of God, Psalm 143:2. Therefore, they expect reward κατὰ χάριν, according to grace, which is opposed to reward κατὰ ὀφείλημα, according to debt, Romans 4:4; neither do they esteem anything to be owed to them by God, since they know themselves to deserve nothing. And so eternal Life remains the χάρισμα τοῦ Θεοῦ ἐν Χριστῷ, gift of God in Christ, which is opposed to reward due for our works, Romans 6:23. Death is paid for sin, as the wages of sin; eternal Life is given contrary to merit, as an undeserved gift. And so, when it is said that God as the Righteous Judge is going to recompense a reward of Righteousness on the last day, 2 Timothy 4:8, our men, against the Remonstrants, who are destitute of any genuine understanding of divine Grace in Christ, observe that here the Righteousness of divine Veracity and Faithfulness, whereby God has made Himself a debtor by promise, comes into consideration, rather than Distributive Righteousness properly so called, whereby one is held to render to each his due; lest the sight of divine Grace in the generosity of the reward of eternal life, worthy of eternal proclamation, vanish from our eyes. But meanwhile, although the Good works of Believers considered with respect to God or in relation to Him, deserve no reward that is owed to them by Divine Justice; yet the Faithful God, when He by a gracious Remuneration will crown His own gifts, will preserve that proportion in Remuneration, so that, if you regard the good works of believers comparatively among themselves, He is going to distribute a more eminent degree of gratuitous reward to those that were by divine gift eminent in this life for a greater degree of holiness: and so God is going to render to each according to his works, Romans 2:6, not only with respect to the Quality of the same, but also the Quantity: see Censuram Confessionis Remonstrantium, chapter II, § 11, page 45; Apologiam Remonstrantium, pages 46b, 47a; TRIGLAND’S Antapologiam, chapter IV, pages 74, 75; add Confessionem Remonstrantium, chapter XIX, § 2, page 255; Censuram Confessionis, page 257; Apologiam Remonstrantium, chapter XIX, pages 219b, 220a; TRIGLAND’S Antapologiam, chapter L, pages 645b, 646; and also TRIGLAND’S Kerckelycke Geschiedenissen, volume 4, pages 566-568.

But by Legal Remuneration God, according to the structure of the Covenant of Works, upon a man perfectly and constantly fulfilling the Law in his own person confers the appropriate and promised reward. Nevertheless, because of the Fall of the first man, and the natural Impotence of Fallen humanity with respect to Good, this actuall obtains in the case of no mere man.

[With respect to this Righteousness, equally with God’s unstained Holiness, and consummate Goodness, it is not able to happen that God would deprive a completely Innocent and Holy man of Reward and afflict him with eternal Punishments.] This against various Scholastics, Hobbes in de Cive, chapter XV, § 5, 6, and Leviathan, chapter XXXI, page 168 (see the Most Illustrious VAN DE WYNPERSSE’S[3] Dissertationem de Libertinismo, page 34), and some of Our Men, we observe: 1. Reason itself settles the matter of Punishment, which evidently supposes the demerit of sin, when the Right of inflicting Punishments is to be restrained to a sinful creature alone. Neither is any distinction to be made between eternal Torments and eternals Punishments: for the πρῶτον ψεῦδος, fundamental error, that there are eternal Torments that do not have regard to Punishment, is absurd. 2. The Holy God is inclined to this by nature, that by the very work He might declare that the conformity with Himself of rational creatures through the study of virtue is not less pleasing to Him, than deformity from Himself of the same through sin is displeasing to Him, Psalm 11:7. 3. It is not fitting that the Most Righteous Judge hold the faithful worshipper of His Majesty and a wicked enemy in the same place even to this extent: but, as by Righteousness He holds His own will constant of allotting to each one, so to those observing His Law perfectly He is inclined to recompense the reward graciously annexed by liberal covenant to this observance, to preserve in good repair the connection between righteousness and life, no less than that between sin and death, Genesis 18:25; Romans 8:3. 4. It is not consistent with infinite Goodness not to show Himself such by the works of His hands; but by the same God is given to doing good to those loving Him, Job 10:3.

[1] The numbering of the Psalms in the Septuagint-Vulgate tradition (followed by Augustine) differs from the numbeing of the Psalms in the Hebrew original.

[2] Alexander Pitcairn (1622-1695) was a Scottish minister and scholar, and a stalwart defender of Presbyterianism. He was deprived in 1662 (although, due to his popularity, the deprivation was not able to be actualized for almost twenty years), eventually was forced to flee to the Netherlands, and returned after the Toleration of 1687.

[3] Dionysius van de Wynpersse (1724-1808) was a Dutch Reformed Theologian and Philosopher, Professor of Logic, Physics, and Metaphysics at Groningen (1752-1769).

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