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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
Justice of God
is that perfection whereby he is infinitely righteous, both in himself and in all his proceedings. Mr. Ryland defines it thus: "The ardent inclination of his will to prescribe equal laws as the supreme governor; and to, dispense equal rewards and punishments as the supreme judge" (Revelation 16:5; Psalms 145:7; Psalms 97:1-2). This attribute of the Supreme Being is the necessary result of the divine holiness, as exhibited in all his external relations to intelligent creatures. As holiness, in relation to God, is subjective, declaring his perfect purity justice is objective, exhibiting his opposition to sin as the transgression of his law. (These two aspects are exactly exhibited by the two Hebrew terms above.) Divine justice is distinguished as legislative, and rectoral or distributive. Legislative justice must approve and require that rational creatures conform their internal and external acts to the dictates of the moral law, which, either by the influence of the Holy Spirit on the conscience or by direct revelation, has been made known to all men. Rectoral or distributive justice is God's dealing with his accountable creatures according to the sanctions of his law, rewarding or punishing them according to their deserts (Psalms 89:14). The latter is again distinguished into remunerative and punitive justice. Remunerative justice is a distribution of rewards, the rule of which is not the merit of the creature, but God's own gracious promise (James 1:12; 2 Timothy 4:8). Punitive or vindictive justice is the infliction of punishment for any sin committed by men (2 Thessalonians 1:6). That God will not let sin go unpunished is evident:
1. From the word of God (Exodus 34:6-7; Number 14:18; Nehemiah 1:3);
2. From the nature of God Isaiah 1:13-14; Psalms 5, 5, 6; Hebrews 12:29);
3. From sin being punished in Christ, the surety of his people (1 Peter 3:18);
4. From all the various natural evils which men bear in the present state. The use we should make of this doctrine is this:
1. We should learn the dreadful nature of sin, and the inevitable ruin of impenitent sinners (Psalms 9:17).
2. We should highly appreciate the Lord Jesus Christ, in whom justice is satisfied (1 Peter 3:18).
3. We should imitate the justice of God by cherishing an ardent regard to the rights of God and to the rights of mankind.
4. We should abhor all sin, as it strikes directly at the justice of God.
5. We should derive comfort from the consideration that the judge of all the earth will do right as regards ourselves, the Church, and the world at large (Psalms 97:1-2).
See Ryland, Contemp. 2, 439; Witsius, Economy, lib. 11, ch. 8, 11; Owen, On the Justice of God; Gill, Bode of Divinity, 1, 155, 8vo; Elisha Cole, On the Righteousness of God;
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McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Justice of God'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/j/justice-of-god.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.
the Second Week after Epiphany