March 23, 2019

Joseph Hacon’s (1603–1662) Response to the Double Payment Argument

Now because you think that you must maintain, some sins are forgiven absolutely, as of due debt, because otherwise universal Redemption, presupposeth two payments of the same debt, one from the Savior of the world, and another from the person impenitent or unbelieving, pag. 61. [“It is unjust to require two payments of the same debt.”] I desire your attention to what I shall now say. The work of the Son of God in behalf of lost mankind is set forth to us diversely; under the term and likeness of Reconciliation, or Atonement of parties that are at distance: of a Sacrifice offered to propitiate the Deity: of Adoption, whereby not only part for malefactors, but further, the state of sons and heirs is procured: of Redemption, whereby captives are ransomed by some price paid: of one that is punished in another’s stead, or for another’s fault, or that doth satisfy or discharge the debt, which some other owes. These particulars, with divers others, being of a different nature one from another, cannot all of them, perfectly agree to the work of man’s salvation, that Jesus Christ wrought. With men ordinarily, there is a numerical punishment, applied to a numerical or individual fault. But when Christ was smitten for our sins, the punishment was one, but of infinite value, applicable to the sins of all men, were there more than there are, or ever will be. In this similitude therefore, the respect of punishing the same fault twice, must be forborn: so must that also, touching a double payment of the same debt. But take the other similitudes; Reconciliation there may be, and Adoption there may be, which may come to nothing for want of the condition: and a general ransom may be many ways defective, as to some persons: and a Sacrifice may be offered, and the God not appeased; according as the Latins make a difference between Sacrificare and Litare: to your argument therefore I answer, when the payment or satisfaction is absolute, as to all effects, then there is no other satisfaction to be expected.

But when it is absolute as to some effect, and conditional, as to some other, then it is neither against reason, nor justice, nor custom, but that a payment, pardon or satisfaction may be twofold. The General ransom is absolute thus far, that God’s justice or wrath is appeasable. All sins are venial, and way made for pardon, the Covenant of works notwithstanding. But thus far it is conditional, that it shall not be actually beneficial for any to life eternal, but according to the tenor of the Covenant of Grace, namely, upon Repentance and Belief in the Son of God. I gave you the similitude of a general pardon granted from the King: to which you say not one word to the purpose, but most impertinently betake yourself to the point of Free-will, in the fourth Section of your former chapter. And as for the injustice you speak of, I answer, had we ourselves of our own, paid these our debts: or had our Surety and Redeemer paid them and satisfied for them so as that all men should by virtue of his sacrifice have been instantly discharged from all their sins, and admitted to possession of life, no condition whatsoever intervening: or had Almighty God made any such promise or agreement, with his son our Savior, to bestow faith and repentance upon all those, for whom he was to lay down his life: in any of these cases it had not been just to demand a second payment. But inasmuch as God himself did freely procure the ransom and satisfaction for our sins, it was free for him to annex thereto, what conditions it pleased him. There is therefore no wrong done to such persons as are punished for their sins, after the price of their ransom is accepted, because they did neither pay that ransom, nor perform the condition required.
Joseph Hacon, A Vindication of the Review. Or, the Exceptions formerly made against Mr. Horn’s Catechisme set free from his late allegations, and maintained not to be Mistakes (Cambridge: Printed by John Field, 1662), 141–143.

Hacon was a native of Topcroft, Norfolk, where he was born on the 17th of May, 1603. He was educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and, after entering Holy Orders, was made Rector of Massingham in his 40th year. After a few years, he was made Registrar of the Parish. He was buried at Massingham Parva on the 18th September, 1662. See Ronald F. McLeod, Massingham Parva: Past and Present (London: Waterlow & Sons, 1882), 113–114.

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