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De Moor IV:47: God's Vindictive Righteousness and the Three Forms of Unity

And so it is not at all strange that our Symbolic Formulæ also consider the Punishment of sinners as necessary, not by virtue of the divine Good Pleasure indifferently free, but by the very Righteousness of God requiring this. Thus the Heidelburg Catechism has it, question XI, “Is not God then also merciful? Answer: God is indeed merciful, but in such a way that He is also just; therefore His justice requires, that sin which is committed against the most high Majesty of God, be also punished with extreme, that is, with everlasting, punishments of body and soul.” And question XL, “Why was it necessary for Christ to humble Himself even unto death? Answer: Because with respect to the Righteousness and Truth of God, satisfaction for our sins could be made no otherwise, than by the death of the Son of God.” That what things are found in questions X[1] and XII[2] concerning the Will of punishing sins in God are not opposed, JAN VAN DEN HONERT teaches in his præfatione ante Ursini Thesaurum Catacheticum, part III, chapter II, page 159. The Canons of Dort speak in a similar manner, chapter II, Doctrine, article I, “God is not only supremely merciful, but also supremely Just. And His Justice requires [as He hath revealed Himself in His Word], that our sins committed against His infinite Majesty should be punished, not only with temporal, but with eternal punishment, both in body and soul: which we cannot escape unless satisfaction be made to the Justice of God.”

[1] Heidelburg Catechism 10: “Will God suffer such disobedience and rebellion to go unpunished? Answer: “By no means; but is terribly displeased with our original as well as actual sins; and will punish them in His just judgment temporally and eternally, as He hath declared, ‘Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things, which are written in the book of the law, to do them.’”

[2] Heidelburg Catechism 12: “Since then, by the righteous judgment of God, we deserve temporal and eternal punishment, is there no way by which we may escape that punishment, and be again received into favor? Answer: God will have His justice satisfied: and therefore we must make this full satisfaction, either by ourselves, or by another.”

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