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and Consequences of Sin. --So that as well Chas rity (for the greatest Tenderness may go along with a Prosecution ) I say then, as well Charity to the Persons injuring us, and an Endeavour to prevent the same Sin in others; as the Security of ourselves, and a Right of maintaining the publick Good ; lay a strong Obligation upon us to resist such Evils as all indifferent Persons shall judge in their own Nature insupportable, or in their Consequences pernicious. To prevent such Mischiefs as arise from Licentiousness, and wou'd of Course be hurtful to the Community and destructive of Order and Government; the Sanction of Civil Eftablishment is added to Chriftianity, and thereby a Power of redrefsing Injuries in general granted by publick Authority to all Ranks and Degrees of Men:
Which leads me to the next Enquiry. For since the Unlawfulness of private and personal Revenge appears on several Accounts,
What Method must be taken in refifting Evils?
We must have Recourse to the Magistrates, who are appointed by, and derive their Power from God; whose indispensible Duty it is to defend those from wrong, who are under their Care and Charge ; to work upon Offenders by Punishments suitable to their Offences, or remove such Instruments of Wickedness, as are unwor
thy of All, but more especially Christian Society. They are not to bear the Sword in vain, but to execute Wrath on them that do Evil, and by this Means discourage, and suppress, as much as possible, all kind of Vice, and Immorality. For what Purpose are Laws enacted, and what is the Design of the frequent Returns of these Solemnities, but to direct the Ignorance, to restrain the Exorbitances, and control the licencious Practices of unruly Men ? Our Saviour never intended to set aside the Force of Laws; for the Laws, we are assured are good, if a Man use them lawfully. His Injunction extends no further than to prohibit all violent and male-, volent Profecutions in Courts of Judicature. Certainly it is one of the greatest Blessings upon Earth, that we are under Jurisdiction ; that we have prescrib'd Rules to go by; Laws to maintain our Right, resolute, faithful, and impartial Magistratęs to execute them. Hereby our just Privileges and Properties are secur'd, and Society is regulated. And since we cannot but acknowledge the Greatness of this Blessing we enjoy, we ought to make use of the Means, which God himself has given us for our Defence, and to make the Laws our Security, which he intended shou'd be so.
Now we have consider'd, what Evils we may guard against, and seek to have redress’d by a Legal Proceeding, we find the Commandment of our Saviour does not appear so disagreeable to Human Nature ; because we are at Liberty to prosecute those, that have done such Injuries, as ought to have a strict Notice taken of them. We have the Laws on our Side, if the Prosecution is just, and God also, if it be not malicious.
Let this therefore be a Caution, that we at no Time maliciously, or unjustly engage ourfelves in any Astion ; for great Injuries will no more justify Malice, and Oppression, than small ones a Prosecution. But this indeed is a Piece of Counsel, which we may rather wish, than expect to have pursued, so long as Men have such various, ungovernable Passions, and oppofite Interests; so long as Numbers stand ready to excite Diffentions, to nourish and improve Discord, and Enmity, among Men, and to juftify the wicked for a Reward.
But I proceed to the
Second Consideration propos'd, viz. What Evils we are commanded not to resist, and the Motives to this Duty.
All such as are easy to be born; Such as, without any great Detriment to the Party injur’d, may be overlook’d, and dispens'd with. Thus much may be infer'd from the particular Injuries mention’d in the Verses immediately following the Text ; Such as Smiting on the Cheek; taking away a Coat; compelling one to go a Mile, and the like. By these we shou'd form a Judgment of what Injuries we ought to deem Small; and according to our Lord's Directions, remit them. A seeking for Retribution of such Injuries tends only to perpetuate Strife. We shou'd therefore be ready to recede a little from our Right, in Matters of no great Moment, and not let every slight Encroachment upon our Privileges excite our Resentment, and set us one against another. - So that Self-Security, in these Cases, will be no good Plea for Resistance, when Patience much better becomes us. For here not only private Revenge, but even exacting of Legal, before Men in Power, and Authority, (which, in Strictness of Justice, may perhaps be thought allowable,) is notwithstanding forbidden.
And if we consider the Design of the Precept in the Text, which is directly oppos’d to, what the Scribes were so eager for, and the Jews daily put in Execution, the Law of Retaliation, we
may perceive, it was to raise the Spirit of Chriftians above the Indulgences of a Jewish OEconomy, and make them sit down quietly under Injuries, they cou'd, without any great Inconvenience, bear.
Here indeed lies the Difficulty, to aflign what particular Injuries are to be supported by one, what by another. The same may not be felt by this Man, which that, (so different are Men's Conditions, and Circumstances) if he does not sue for Justice, may sink under. This therefore must be left to every one's Discretion, and Conscience, which, if they are faithful, and just, God will guide :- Whose Forbearance and Mer
I Thall consider as one Motive to prevail upon us not to resist Evil.
Can we reflect upon his Mercy, which is too great for the Heart of Man to conceive, or the Tongues of Men, and Angels to express; which is so infinite, that no Proportion can be thought of between It, and any Thing in this World ; No Affection in Nature, which comes in any Degree up to it? (For as to the Love of Mothers to the Fruit of their Womb; And the Heigth of Heaven above the Earth, the one hath been always thought only a faint Resemblance, the other a very insufficient, and scanty Measure of it.) Can we think of, what his Mercy so e