Hopkins' Haughty Hypothetical

The following is from Ezekiel Hopkins on the possibility of God saving another way than through the blood of Christ.

"Had it been possible for men to have quitted scores with Divine justice by what they could do or suffer, Heaven would not have been so needlessly lavish as to send Christ into the world to lead an afflicted life and to die an accursed death only for our redemption and salvation.

Again: The pardoning grace of God is not free in respect of Christ, but it cost Him the price of blood. It is the blood of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world that crosseth off the debt-book: 'without shedding of blood is no remission,' says the apostle (Heb. ix. 22). And 'this is My blood which is shed for many for the remission of sins' (Matt, xxvi. 28). 

And although possibly God might according to His absolute sovereignty have freely remitted all the sins of the world without any kind of satisfaction (only by a free and gracious act of mercy). Yet considering that He had otherwise declared in His unalterable word of truth that there must be a recompense made Him for all our offences, it had been a wrong to His veracity, if not to His justice, to have granted the pardon of any one sin without the intervention of a full price and satisfaction; no satisfaction could be made correspondent to the wrong done to an infinite God but by an infinite person who was God Himself" (Ezekiel Hopkins, A Practical Exposition on the Lord's Prayer).

Ezekiel Hopkins is not the first damnable heretic to engage in this kind of vain speculation on whether the necessity of the satisfaction of Christ was "relative" or "absolute." John Owen in his The Death of Death speculated in a similar manner:

“It is true indeed [that] supposing the decree, purpose, and constitution of God that so it should be, that so he would manifest his glory by the way of vindicative justice it was impossible that it should otherwise be; for with the Lord there is ‘no variableness, neither shadow of turning' (James i. 17; 1 Sam. xv. 29). But to assert positively that absolutely and antecedently to his constitution he could not have done it, is to me an unwritten tradition, the Scripture affirming no such thing, neither can it be gathered from thence in any good consequence” (John Owen, Death of Death, p. 93; underlining mine).

According to Owen, God's constitution (i.e., His essential nature) that is revealed in His decree is justice and immutability (Owen citing James 1:17). But despite God's essential constitution being immutable (James 1:17) and "a just God and a Savior" (Isaiah 45:21), Owen asserts that this essential nature ("constitution") does NOT preclude Him from alternative ways of making satisfaction by Christ. Thus for Owen, God's essential justice could be revealed as injustice. Owen concludes with an exhortation to rest contented in this quote from Augustine: 

"Though other ways of saving us were not wanting to his infinite wisdom, yet certainly the way which he did proceed in was the most convenient, because we find he proceeded therein" (Owen's quotation of Augustine; The Death of Death, p. 93).

To return to Hopkins. Hopkins asserts with speculative and eisegetical force that God could, according to His absolute sovereignty, "freely [remit]" sins "without any kind of satisfaction (only by a free and gracious act of mercy)." A question for Hopkins: To quote your own words back to you: Is it not "needlessly lavish...to send Christ into the world to lead an afflicted life and to die an accursed death" when free remission might be accomplished "without any kind of satisfaction"? According to Hopkins, Christ's satisfaction is NOT the only way to manifest "a free and gracious act of mercy." 

Hopkins stated that God could freely remit sins "without any kind of satisfaction." But the concept of "satisfaction" is inescapable. It is NOT a question of WHETHER there will be "any kind of satisfaction," but WHAT kind of "satisfaction" will it be? Hopkins' hypothetical sets forth God's essential and absolute sovereignty as a "satisfaction" (sacrifice) for sin. Though this is "merely" Hopkins' hypothesis, it clearly reveals what kind of "god" Hopkins worships. He worships a "god" whose essential and absolutely sovereign nature implies his equal freedom and ability to reveal himself as "a just God and a Savior" (Isaiah 45:21) or as an unjust "god" and a "savior;" whose essential and absolutely sovereign nature implies his equal freedom and ability to manifest "no variableness, neither shadow of turning" or to manifest variableness, and shadow of turning. Hopkins' "god" is a "god" in whom resides the freedom and ability to sovereignly eclipse his own glory.