Imágenes de páginas

thereof, and all of them are frustrate, and fail in the issue, if they do not finally end in all moral goodness and righteousness. For these do import the fullest imitation of God, and the exactest participation of the divine nature : for by these we are made partakers of the divine nature.

And to resemble God in these perfections, that I have been speaking of, is to partake of it. This is the gospel obtaining in effect ; and in the ultimate issue, this is to have Christ formed in us; and the gospel in its final accomplishment. And when Christ Thall have subdued all things to himself; when there is nothing but subordination to God and conformity to him, nothing but love and good-will, and righteousness among men ; and when men are brought to the right temper of fobriety, modesty, and humility ; then shall Christ deliver up his kingdom to God, and God shall be all in all. For then there skall be nothing else but God ; and what is reconciled to him, and hold upon him. And this is that which St. John faith, that he which doth righteousness is righteous, even as God is righteous. There is nothing more according to the sense of rational nature than that God who is original of all, be also final to all, and be adored as the chiefest beauty and loved as the first and chiefest good : that the rule of right should govern among all reasonable creatures : that bodily sense should be moderate, limited and

governed by the dictates of fober reason, and understanding. These are principles of everlasting righteousness, of unchangeable truth and goodness : and of this I may say, that it is not a law that is subject:


to any power whatsoever : 'tis a law against which there can be no exception or abatement : 'tis a law of its own nature ; it is that which is according to the nature of God; and that is the law of heaven.

Thus I have given you an account what that righteousness is, that God, when he comes to challenge the world, doth intend to countenance, and to bring the apostate world back again unto. And this is that which we understand by the moral part of religion : and to this, the gospel superadds the going to God in, and through Jesus Christ. And that is the provisionary part of religion, upon the ill accident of fin, and the foul miscarriage of mortals, in departing from the rule of right.


The JUSTICE of one Man towards


MICAH vi. 8. What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do juftly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God ?

To do juftly.


Here are in religion things that are of a mu. table and alterable nature, and those things

that are immutable and unchangeable, which in no time admit of any alteration, or relaxation.


[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Whatsoever is by institution, may, by the same authority that imposed it, be discharged, and abated. As the great institution of circumcision, which began in the Days of Abraham ; as also the whole Mofaical dispensation. Nay the gospel-manifestation shall in great part expire when our Saviour shall de liver up his mediatory kingdom to God his father and become subject to God, that put all things under him, that God тау

be all in all, 1 Cor. xv. But there are other things that are of an unchangeable nature, and that continue to all perpetuity. Some of these things I meet with in this text ; and some others which are æterna jura : as for instance, to do justly, to do righteous things ; to be modest and humble, and to live in the due fear, reverence, and regard of God : and nothing is more knowable than things of this nature ; that God is to be worshipped by all creatures which are made capable of him ought to deal fairly, justly and equally one with another ; that we ought to be modest and humble in respect to the frame of our mind, and sober and temperate as to our body, left it prove not only a temptation to wickedness, but an annoyance to our souls. And these things are good in themselves, and known by natural light : but, being prejudiced and somewhat obscured by the defection of man in his fall, and by the practice of iniquity, they are since reinforced by the gospel, and charged upon us under a new obligation.

Morever, about these things, all persons do agree that are of any education and improvement : and they which have none, come hardly under the rank



that we

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

of men.

For we are born only with faculties, which without use and improvement, signify little ; especially if men are not debaucht ; for some by abuse of themselves do work themselves into an unnatural estate ; and we must seek for the law of nature, only among those that live according to nature, and not among them that have abused themfelves, by ill use, custom and practice. For it is truly observed by Tully, that the law of nature is a true rule and principle, that is in every man's mind, that lives congruous to nature. It was excellently said by Appollonius concerning the edicts of that monfter of men, Nero : never did I think that thy commands should so far prevail, as to contradict the unwritten laws of God, which are not of to day, nor yesterday, but from eternity ; not by mens opinions, but by nature, right is determined.

But briefly to apply myself to that which I have chosen to speak to : among all the great materials of religion, or matters of natural knowledge, I have singled out this of righteousness between man and man. To do juftly.

There is some difference between that which we call justice and equity, tho' sometimes they are put together, and are taken for the fame. What the laws and common reason will allow, that we call just : but equity takes into consideration all the circumstances of the case, and will grant allowance, if they do require it. Equity doth moderate the sigour of the law. Sometimes there may be justice and no equity in the case : but sometimes there is both just and equal in the matter. Now wherefo

ever there is equity against strict right and justice, there equity ought to take place : strict right is not always to be stood upon, nor contended for.

And when we consider how much we are beholden to God, and how liberally we have received of his favour, we shall not then think it safe to appear in the defence of strict right, nor to stand upon all that strict right can desire. For this is the apostle's rule, let your moderation be known to all men, Phil. iv. 5. Let your moderation, i. e. your clemency, compaflion, be known unto all men. And if we do not do thus, we shall not only depart from the nobleness of a gospel spirit, but we shall take such a course that a cancelled obligation may return upon us ; as it did upon

that wicked servant, who because he did not forgive his brother a small debt, after his Lord had so freely forgiven him a great one, was afterwards taken and cast into prison, because he had not compassion on his fellow-servant, even as his Lord had pity on him, Mat. xviii. 34.

I am sure there is no one but expects this meafure from God, when he makes application to him, that he would overlook our weakness, and forgive qur manifold fins and infirmities ; that he would not be extream to mark what we have done amiss

; for if he should do this, who should stand ? Which is agreeable to that admirable prayer of Daniel : we read it, Dan. ix. 16. O Lord, according to all thy righteousness I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away. But in the septuagint it is rendred, O Lord, according to all thy clemency, bowels and compassion, let thine anger and fury be turned away, VOL. II.



[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »