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mentioned under this Gifth head may be referred also to charity and mercy, of which I shall speak hereafter ; but for as much as the light of nature and the Jaw of God, require these beneficial actions of men towards each other, I have here placed them under the head of justice.
VI. The last piece of justice which I shall mention, is reparation to those whom we have wilfully injured, as far as possible ; and this is a certain duty, whether we have done them injury in their souls, in their bodies, in their estates, or their reputation.
If we have led them into errors or heresy by our conversation ; if we tempted them to sin by our allurement or example ; if we have solicited their assistance in any base or guilty practices of our own ; we ought seriously to employ our best powers and prayers toward their recovery from the snare of the devil; if we have wilfully injured their health ; if we have blasted their credit; if we have thrown a blot upon their good name ; if we have defrauded them of any part of their due, or wasted their substance, let us know and consider that the law of justice requires us to make what restitution we are capable of; but still it must be done in such a manner as must consist with our duty to the rest of our fellowcreatures round about us.
It is a vain thing to pretend to be sorry and repent that we have done our neighbour a wilful injury, or to flatter him with idle compliments of asking his pardon, while it lies in our power to repair the damage he sustains in a way of consistence with our other duties, and yet we obstinately refuse it; such a repentance as this cannot be sincere in the sight of God, nor have we any reason to hope that his justice or mercy will condescend to accept it.
We have heard these various instances of justice, this large and particular account of what is due to our neighbour, in the manifold relations and businesses
of life. i grant there are several dificulties ivai may attend some of these instances in the particular practice of them, by reason of the infinite variety of circumstances which may surround our actions, and the unforeseen occurrences of human life. The strictest rules of equity or justice in some cases require a mitigation; and it is impossible to say beforehand what shall be precisely and exactly due to our neighbour in every new accident or occurrence. But a sincere love of justice wrought deep into the heart, and a sacred regard to the golden rule of equity which Christ has given us, will lead us through most of these perplexities, into the paths of righteousness and truth.
It is time now to have the question put close to conscience, “ Has this been the manner of our life? Has this been our conduct toward our fellow-crea. tures ? Are we children, and have we paid all due honour and obedience to our parents? Has the father no cause to copplain that we have disobeyed bis authority ? Has the mother no reason to say, that we have scorned her advice, or abused her tenderness and compassion ? Are we servants, have we never wasted the goods of our master, nor spent that time in idle company, in folly or in sin, which should have been employed in his service ? Have we dealt with our relatives in the same family as becomes a brother, a sister, or a near kinsman, and fulfilled the duties to which we were born ? Do we never neglect to make due acknowledgments for favours received ? Have we loved those that love us, and practised the law of justice and gratitude to those who have rescued our souls and bodies from distress and danger, or laid obligations upon us by peculiar benefits? Am I a trader, and do I practise strict justice and truth in all that I buy, and in all that I sell ? Have I been carefully sollicitous to wrong no man, to defraud no man, to cheat and
cozen no man? Do I hate the arts of falsehood and knavery? Have I paid the full due to all that 1 deal with, and do I keep the proper time of payment, which contract or custom bave appointed ? Have I defended my neighbour from injury, and assisted him in the day of his distress, as I myself should reasonably hope for his defence and assis. tance ? Have 1.sought to rescue his good name from reproach and slander when it has been attacked? Or have I rather fallen in with slanderers, and joined in the wilful scandal ? Ilave I honestly sought to make restitution to another where I have been guilty of wilful injury, and done what in me lies to repair the damage that my injustice has brought upon him? Have I attempted to repair his losses, so far as is consistent with the duties of my other relations in life?” Where is the person that can lay his hand upon his heart, and say, I am guiltless before God in all this? Who can wash his hands in innocency, and pronounce himself righteous ? Surely such a discourse as this is, should awaken conscience to sensible acts of repentance and mourning; we should be willing and ready to yield to the conviction, where the word of God fastens the charge upon us, and lay ourselves low before the throne of a righteous God. « Blessed Lord God, if thou art strict to mark iniquities, who can stand before thee! But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared. We have failed in many instances of duty toward our fellowcreatures, as well as toward thee our Creator; we have neither given to God nor to our neighbour the full due of love which thy righteous law requires ; we lie in the dust before tbee, and betake ourselves to the refuge that is set before us ; Jesus the righteous is our hope, he not only paid to God and man all their due, in the course of his holy life, but he also restored that honour to thy justice by his death, which we had taken away by our unrighteousnesses. 0 may every soul of us be forgiven for his sake, and created a-new in Christ Jesus unto good works ! Amen."
HYMN FOR SERMON II.
our ways, Have they been just and right? Is the great rule of equity
Our practice and delight?
What we would have our neighbour do,
Have we still done the same?
Nor injured his good name?
Do we relieve the
Nor treat them with abuse?
Have we not found our envy grow,
To hear another's praise ?
By sly malicious ways.
In all we sell, and all we buy,
Is justice our design?
And fear the wrath divine ?
In vain we talk of Jesu's blood,
And boast his name in vain,
And prove, unjust to men.