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and beginneth to touch us with his hand, we should relent presently. To be sinning and suffering is the condition of the damned in Hell. The Holy Ghost sets a brand upon Ahaz, “ And in the time of distress did he trespass yet more against the Lord; this is that king Ahaz” (2 Chron. xxviii. 22). If we keep our pride, luxury, vanity, wantonness, our avarice, coldness in religion, Sabbath-profanation, if we be not brought by all our afflictions to fear God the more, such a brand will be put upon us; yea, our judgments will be increased, and the furnace heated seven times hotter; as, when the child is stubborn and obstinate, the father redoubleth his strokes. Therefore we are to beg his Spirit with his rod, that we may be the better by all his corrections: “If her father had but spit in her face, should she not be ashamed seven days?" (Num. xii. 14.) So if our heavenly Father be displeased and casts contempt upon us, &c.
USE II.-It reproveth those that triumph over the fallen, and declaim and inveigh against their sins, but do not consider their own. We should rather tremble and learn to fear from every judgment executed, though upon the worst of men, and say, 'Well, God is a righteous God; and whosoever provoketh him to wrath, shall not escape unpunished.' But this tigaiperaria, this insulting over and upbraiding others with their evil and afflicted condition, is a sin which God cannot endure and will certainly punish: “And he that is glad at calamities, shall not be unpunished " (Prov. xvii. 5). If God hath stricken them, and the hand of justice found them out, we should be tender to them: “Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth; lest the Lord see it, and it displease him, and he turn away his wrath from him” (Prov. xxiv. 17, 18). Some read it, Et convertat iram suam in te, he turn his wrath upon thee. Thine enemy is not he that thou hatest, for a Christian should hate nobody, but he that hateth thee: if we rejoice in their evil, certainly it is a sign we hate them, however we please ourselves with the thoughts of forgiving them; as not when he falleth, so not when he stumbleth, not at lesser evils that befall them. Many will say, they do not wish their destruction, but a little evil they could be glad of; which showeth how rare true piety is. God will give him like advantage against thee; as the leprosy of Naaman doth cleave to Gehazi. David, when he heard of the death of Saul, rent his clothes, and wept and fasted (2 Sam. i. 11, 12). Therefore to feed our eyes with the misery and torment of others, is no holy affection. Job disclaimed it: “If I rejoiced at the destruction of him that hated me, or lifted up myself when evil found him; neither have I suffered my mouth to sin by wishing a curse to his soul” (Job xxxi. 29, 30). Revenge is sweet to carnal nature; but such a disposition as that, cannot or should not find room in a gracious heart; to evidence his integrity, Job produceth this vindication. Though they that hate us be our worst enemies, and should have spirits steeped in bitterness and wormwood against us; yet ought we not to rejoice at the misery of an enemy. Yea, to mourn at their fall becometh us more, if we would act as Christians; and to fear because of it, is an act of piety. Therefore this whole leaven of malice and revenge must be purged out, this being inwardly delighted when we hear of the fall of those that hate us. When thine enemy falleth, consider, Either I myself am like him, or worse, or better than he.' If better, who made thee to differ? If worse, thou hast cause to wonder thou art spared, and to fear before the Lord. Let us therefore observe the judgments of God executed according to his word. Lactantius telleth us,
Quod non metuitur, contemnitur ; quod contemnitur, utique non colitur ; if the wrath of God be not feared, it is contemned; and, if God be contemned, he cannot be worshipped.
SERMON CXXXII. VERSE 121.-I have done judgment and justice ; leave me not to mine
oppressor's. Here is, 1. David's plea. 2. His prayer.
His plea, “ I have done judgment and justice.” Defensio est, non arrogantia, saith Ambrose; he doth not speak this boasting or trusting in his own righteousness, but by way of apology and just defence: it is no pleading of merit, as if God were his debtor ; but an asserting of his innocency against slanderers. There is justitia persone, the righteousness of the person; and justitia cause, the righteousness of the cause, wherein any one is engaged. We may propound the justice of our cause to God as the Judge of the earth, and appeal to him how innocently we suffer, when we are not able to plead the righteousness of our persons, as to a strict and legal qualification : “ Enter not into judgment with thy servant, for in thy sight shall no man living be justified” (Psalm cxliii. 2). Well then, David pleadeth the equity and justice of his cause, and his right behaviour therein. They cannot condemn him of any unrighteousness and injustice, and yet endeavour to oppress him ; therefore he pleads, “Lord, thou knowest where thy right lieth, so far as concerneth their slanders; I appeal to thee for my integrity and sincerity; thou knowest that I have given up myself to do just and right things; though they are thus forward to mischief, I have done them no wrong: “ Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness" (Psalm iv. 1.) They that look to be protected by God, must look that they have a good cause, and handle that cause well; otherwise, we make him the patron of sin: when we suffer as evil-doers, it is the Devil's cross, not Christ's, that we take up.
But let us see how David expresseth his innocency, “I have done judgment and justice:” these two words are often joined together in Scripture. When God is spoken of, it is said of him, “ He loveth righteousness and judgment” (Psalm xxxiii. 5); and in 2 Sam. viii. 15, it is said that “David executed judgment and justice unto all his people.” Muis distinguisheth them thus, Judicium adversus sccleratos, justitia erga bonos ; judgment in punishing the wicked, justice in rewarding the good. Besides that, David speaketh not here as a king, but as a poor, oppressed man. The words will hardly admit that notion. Some think they are only put to increase the sense, 'I have done judgment justly, exactly. I suppose the one referreth to the law or rule itself, according to which every one is to do right; that is, judgment, a clear knowledge of what ought to be done: the other referreth to the action that followeth thereupon. So that judgment is a-doing of what we know, an acting according to received light: “Do that which is lawful and right” (Ezek. xviii. 5): it is in the margin, do judgment and justice. Now, when this is attributed to public persons, judgment signifieth due order in trying and finding out the state of a cause; and justice, the giving out sentence on that trial and judgment,
or causing justice to be executed for righting the wronged, and punishing the wrong-doer. When to private men, the one implies the direction of conscience, the other the rectitude of our actions. By judgment we discern between right and wrong, and by justice doing things justly according to the rule. Thus it is said, “ Blessed are they that keep judgment, and he that doth righteousness at all times” (Psalm cvi. 3). There is another notion of these two words, which I had almost forgotten: first, judgment seemeth to be opposite to rigour and extremity, and seemeth to import equitable carriage, mixed with mercy and moderation in exacting our own from others. Certainly, so judgment is sometimes taken: “O Lord, correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing" (Jer. x. 24). Secondly, justice is just and faithful, dealing in and about those things which we owe to others, or are employed about, or are intrusted with, by others.
DOCTRINE.-It is a comely property in God's children, and very comfortable to them, to do judgment and justice.
First, It is an excellent property.
Ist, Because by it we are made like God. Righteousness is part of God's image, and herein we do most resemble his perfection : “The Lord is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works” (Psalm cxlv. 17). There is a perfect holiness in his nature, and a condecency in all his actions. Therefore it is Godlike in us, when our natures are sanctified, and all our actions are righteous and holy. It is said, “ The new nian which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph. iv. 24), according to the pattern of God, much like to him : they that are most so, are most like him. Natural conscience doth homage to the image of God: “Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man ” (Mark vi. 20).
2ndly, It is acceptable and pleasing to God. The just man is an object of God's complacency: “He loveth him that followeth after righteousness” (Prov. xv. 9). God loveth all his creatures with a general love, but with a special love those that bear his image. He doth not love men because they are rich and mighty, fair and beautiful, valiant and strong, but as holy and just. It is said, “ To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice" (Prov. xxi. 3). God hath required both, and we should make conscience of both ; but yet the one is better than the other, though the one be a duty of the first table, the other of the second : because moral and substantial duties are better than ceremonial, internal before external, and duties evident by natural light before things of positive institution. It appeareth in this that God doth accept of moral duties without ceremonial observances; fur “in every nation, he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him” (Acts x. 35); but ceremonial observances without moral duties are of no account in God's sight: he still rejecteth their offerings when they neglect justice; not thousands of rams and rivers of oil, but to show mercy and to do justly (Mic. vi. 7, 8), this is good. Again, he dispenseth with the ceremonials and the externals of religion, when they come in competition with moral duties, even of the second table; as David's eating the shew-bread when he was hungry (Matt. xii. 4). Well then, how right and punctual soever we be in other things, unless we show mercy and do justice, we are not accepted with God; though zealous for and against ceremonies, of the stricter party in religion. It is true, we cannot say that they are better than faith and love, and the fear of God, and hope in his grace; for these are the substantial duties of the first table. And compare substantials with substantials, de ordine modus, first-table duties are more weighty. But compare internals of the second with externals of the first; moral duties of the second, with the ceremonies of the first; natural and evident, with the merely positive and instituted: these latter are more weighty. Give to God what is God's, and to men what is men's.
3rdly, Because it fitteth for communion with God. When you are just and righteous, you may call for and look for such blessings as you stand in need of; for the righteous have an easy access to him, and are sure of audience : “ As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness” (Psalm xvii. 15). I cannot behold the face of Saul, he will not see my face; but this comforts me, that I can behold thy face. Lord, thou wilt look upon me, and be gracious to me, and hear my prayers. Otherwise, God will not hear the unjust; as he saith, he would not accept of their peace-offerings, till judgment ran down as a river, and righteousness as a mighty stream (Amos v. 23, 24), and rejects the Jewish fasts, because they did not loose the oppressed, &c. (Isa. lviii.) On the other side, he had assured the pro. tection of his providence to him that is just: “He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly, he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil; he shall dwell on high; his place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks; bread shall be given him, his waters shall be sure” (Isa. xxxiii. 15, 16). God will minister to him sure comforts and sure supplies. They that walk in a continual course of righteousness and just dealing of all sorts, shall be as safe as if in a fort impregnable, not to be taken by any force, and sufficiently furnished with store of provisions to hold out any siege: a high, craggy place is such. Bread and water are tokens of God's full and final deliverance: “Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness” (Isa. li. 1). None must look to be thus qualified but the righteous.
4thly, It is so suitable to the new nature, as fruits to such a tree. What are works meet for repentance: “That they should repent, and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance” (Acts xxvi. 20); and, “Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance” (Matt. ïïi. 8). They are the kindly products of faith in Christ and repentance towards God. It is as unsuitable to those that are gracious to be unjust, as that the egg of a crow should drop from a hen, or venomous berries should grow upon a choice vine. That grace that is put into our hearts, which maketh us submissive and dutiful to God, doth also make us kind and harmless to men. These things are required of us as the fruits of true faith and repentance: “Wash you, make you clean, put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes ; cease to do evil, learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, jndge the fatherless, plead for the widow” (Isa. i. 16, 17). This is particularly insisted upon as the proper fruit of their change. So,
Break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by showing mercy to the poor” (Dan. iv. 27). Repentance is a breaking off the former course of sin: the king, an open oppressor, Daniel preacheth righteousness and mercy to him. They that continue their former unjust courses, never yet truly repented: “ These are the things that ye shall do, speak ye every man the truth to his neighbour ; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates, and let none of you imagine evil in your
hearts against your neighbour, and love no false oath; for all these are things that I hate, saith the Lord” (Zech. viii. 16, 17). He would have their repentance thus expressed.
5thly, Because it is so lovely and venerable in the eyes of the world. A Christian, if he had no other engagement upon him, yet, for the honour of God and the credit of religion, he should do those things that are lovely and comely in themselves, and so esteemed by the world; for he is to glorify God (1 Peter ii. 12), and adorn religion (Titus ii. 10), to represent his profession with advantage to the consciences of men. God is dishonoured by nothing so much as injustice, which is so odious and hateful to men; and wicked men are hardened, the hopeful discouraged, atheism prevaileth: “Also I said, It is not good that ye do; ought ye not to walk in the fear of our God, because of the reproach of the Heathen our enemies?" (Neh, v. 9.) On the contrary, when we give every one their due, we bring honour to God, and credit to religion, you can the better hold up the profession of it against contradiction, hold up head before God and man. Now, justice is so lovely, partly as it is a stricture of the image of God, as before, in which respect it is said, “ The righteous is more excellent than his neighbour" (Prov. xii. 26). Men are convinced that he is a more perfect man, fitter to be trusted, as being one that will deal faithfully. And partly, because the welfare of human society is promoted by such things : “ These things are good and profitable unto men” (Titus iii. 8).
6thly, And indeed that is my last reason, it conduceth so much to the good of human society. A Christian is a member of a double community, of the church and of the world ; the one in order to eternal life, the other in order to the present life; as a man, and as a Christian. Without justice, what would the world be, but a den of thieves? Remove justitiam, fc., saith St. Augustine. The world cannot subsist without justice: “The throne is established by righteousness” (Prov. xvi. 12). The nation gets honour and reputation by it abroad : “Righteousness exalteth a nation ; but sin is a reproach to any people" (Prov. xiv. 34). Never did the people of the Jews, or any other nation whose history has come to our cars, flourish so much as when they were careful and exact in maintaining righteousness. And as to persons, all commerce between man and man is kept up by justice. And if this be a truth, that God, and not the Devil, doth govern the world, and distribute rewards and the blessings of this life ; surely then, justice, which is a compliance with God's will, is the way to be exalted, and to live well in the world, and not lying, cozening, and dissembling.
Secondly, It is very comfortable to us to be just. The comfort of righteousness is often spoken of in Scripture: “In the transgression of an evil man, there is a snare; but the righteous doth sing and rejoice" (Proy. xxix. 6). Whatever befalleth him, good or evil, much or little, in life or death. Good or evil; if good, he hath comfort in his portion; because what he hath, he hath by the fair leave and allowance of God's providence: “ The righteous eateth to the satisfying of his soul” (Prov. xiii. 25); he hath enough, because he hath what God seeth fit for him, he hath enough to supply his wants, enough to satisfy his desires; sometimes it is much, sometimes it is little. It is much sometimes; for they are under the blessing of the promise: “ That which is altogether just shalt thou follow, that thou mayest live, and inherit the land which the Lord thy God giveth VOL. II.