Imatges de pàgina
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and Confequences of Sin.So that as well Cha rity (for the greatest Tenderness may go along with a Prosecution) I fay then, as well Charity to the Perfons injuring us, and an Endeavour to prevent the fame Sin in others; as the Security of ourselves, and a Right of maintaining the publick Good; lay a ftrong Obligation upon us to refist such Evils as all indifferent Perfons shall judge in their own Nature infupportable, or in their Confequences pernicious. To prevent fuch Mischiefs as arife from Licentioufnefs, and wou'd of Course be hurtful to the Community and deftructive of Order and Government; the Sanction of Civil Establishment is added to Chriftianity, and thereby a Power of redreffing Injuries in general granted by publick Authority to all Ranks and Degrees of Men:

Which leads me to the next Enquiry. For fince the Unlawfulness of private and perfonal Revenge appears on feveral Accounts,

What Method must be taken in refifting Evils? -We must have Recourfe to the Magiftrates, who are appointed by, and derive their Power from God; whose indifpenfible Duty it is to defend thofe from wrong, who are under their Care and Charge; to work upon Offenders by Punishments fuitable to their Offences, or remove fuch Inftruments of Wickednefs, as are unworthy

thy of All, but more efpecially Chriftian 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 fupprefs, as much as poffible, 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 reftrain the Exorbitances, and control the licentious Practices of unruly Men? Our Saviour never intended to set aside the Force of Laws; for the Laws, we are affured are good, if a Man use them lawfully. His Injunction extends no further than to prohibit all violent and male- ̧ volent Prosecutions in Courts of Judicature. Certainly it is one of the greatest Bleffings 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 Magiftrates to execute them. Hereby our just Privileges and Properties are fecur'd, and Society is regulated. And fince we cannot but acknowledge the Greatness of this Bleffing 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 fhou'd be fo.

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Now we have confider'd, what Evils we may guard against, and feek to have redress'd by a Legal Proceeding, we find the Commandment of our Saviour does not appear fo disagreeable to Human Nature; because we are at Liberty to prosecute those, that have done fuch Injuries, as ought to have a ftrict Notice taken of them. We have the Laws on our Side, if the Profecution is juft, and God also, if it be not mali

cious.

Let this therefore be a Caution, that we at no Time maliciously, or unjustly engage ourfelves in any Action; for great Injuries will no more justify Malice, and Oppreffion, than small ones a Profecution. But this indeed is a Piece of Counsel, which we may rather wish, than expect to have purfued, fo long as Men have fuch various, ungovernable Paffions, and oppofite Interests; fo long as Numbers stand ready to excite Diffentions, to nourish and improve Discord, and Enmity, among Men, and to justify the wicked for a Reward.

But I proceed to the

Second Confideration propos'd, viz. What Evils we are commanded not to refift, and the Motives to this Duty.

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All fuch as are easy to be born; Such as, without any great Detriment to the Party injur'd, may be overlook'd, and difpens'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 fhou'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 fhou'd therefore be ready to recede a little from our Right, in Matters of no great Moment, and not let every flight Encroachment upon our Privileges excite our Refentment, and set us one against another. So that Self-Security, in these Cafes, 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 Juftice, may perhaps be thought allowable,) is notwithstanding forbidden.

And if we confider the Defign of the Precept in the Text, which is directly oppos'd to, what the Scribes were fo eager for, and the Jews daily put in Execution, the Law of Retaliation, we

may

may perceive, it was to raise the Spirit of Chriftians above the Indulgences of a Jewish OEconomy, and make them fit down quietly under Injuries, they cou'd, without any great Inconvenience, bear.

Here indeed lies the Difficulty, to affign what particular Injuries are to be fupported by one, what by another. The fame may not be felt by this Man, which that, (fo different are Men's Conditions, and Circumstances) if he does not fue for Juftice, may fink under. This therefore must be left to every one's Discretion, and Conscience, which, if they are faithful, and just, God will guide:-Whofe Forbearance and Merсу I fhall confider as one Motive to prevail upon us not to refift 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 infufficient, and scanty Measure of it.) Can we think of, what his Mercy so eB 2 minently

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