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have broken all the rules of equity in the treatment of their fellow-creatures. This the heathens themselves have taken notice of. And they thought this to be so necessary for the government of the world, that their priests have invented a sort of goddess called Nemesis, whose office is to avenge the practice of fraud or violence, and to bring down curses on the head of this kind of criminals.
As the antient records of the heathen world give us some histories of divine vengeance, so the Bible abounds with more awful and illustrious instances of this kind which leads me to
The fourth head of my discourse ; and that is, to consider what forcible arguments and motives the Christian religion affords for the practice of justice among men.
If I were to speak of distributive justice, or that which belongs to the practice of the magistrate, never was it more gloriously manifest, than in and hy God the Father, when he refused to pass by our iniquities without punishment, and laid the dreadful weight of it upon the head and soul of his Son. Never could magistracy receive such a glary, as when our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, hung and died upon the cross, suffering the penalty that the law of God, the supreme magistrate, had denounced against sinners.
And as punishing justice was glorified in all its terrors, so rewarding justice also appeared most illustrious. Because our Lord Jesus Christ had fulfilled obedience not only to the broken law which we lay under, but to those peculiar laws which God the Father also gave him as a mediator ; therefore it pleased God highly to advance him, according to his own eternal covenant. God rewarded him, as a magistrate distributing justice to a person who had done the greatest things for the honour of his sovereign; he exalted him at his own right hand, and gave hima name above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow ; for he deserved it at the hands of his Father, and bis Father distributed rewards equal to his desert.
Rewarding justice again appears glorious, in that God the Father communicates unto us the rewards of the sufferings of his own Son. God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, because the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, has paid for all our follies and unrighteousness; 1 John i. 9. faithful and just to his Son, that he may not go without the rewards of his sufferings : faithful and just to us, because it was in our name and stead that the Son suffered.
But not to insist upon this longer, commutative justice is abundantly enforced also by many considerations drawn from the books of the Old Testament, as wellas from the gospel of Christ.
If we consult the moral statutes of God, which were given to the Jews, we shall find them full of righte
These statutes are of everlasting force, and their divine solemnity should impress our consciences. That which is altogether just shalt thou follow, that thou mayest live and inherit the land ; and the judges and officers shall judge the people with righteous judgment, and shall shew no respect to persons, nor take a gift to pervert justice. Deut. xvi. 18, 19, 20. Ye shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another. Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbour, nor rub him. The wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning. Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in weight, or in measure. Just balances and just weights shall ye have ; I am the Lord your God, Lev. xix. A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a jast weight is bis delight, Prov. xj. 1. To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice, Prov. ii. 15.. Woe to bim that buildeth his house by unrighteousness, and
his chamber by wrong, who uses his neighbour's service without wages, and giveth him not for his work,” Jer. xxii. 13. Remove not the antient landmarks, nor enter into the fields of the fatherless ; for their Redeemer is mighty, and he shall plead their cause with thee; Prov. xxiii. 10, 11.
If we review the records of the Jewish history, we shall find the cruel and the covetous, the tyrant and the oppressor, made terrible examples of the vengeance of God against unrighteousness. Survey the plagues of Egypt, and the dreadful desolations of that fruitful country, with the destruction of the first-born by the mid night pestilence, and the armies of Pharaoh drowned in the Red sea, and you may read there the wrath of God against the unrighteousness of men, written in dreadful characters. They treated the race of Israel with cruelty and sore oppression ; they destroyed their male children, and provoked God to bring swift destruction upon themselves. Behold Adonibezeck, king of the Canaanites, with his thumbs and his great toes cut off by Joshua, and confessing the justice of the great God. " Threescore and ten kings, said he, with their great toes and their thumbs cut off, have gathered their meat under my table; as I have done so, God hath requited me, Judges i. 7. See the dogs licking up the blood of Ahab in the place where he slew Naboth the Jezreelite, in order to take unjust possession of his vineyard, 1 Kings xxi. 19. These things which were written of old time, remain upon record for our instruction in the days of Christianity.
But let us take more special notice what influences may be derived from the gospel, and from the name of Christ to inforce the practice of justice among men.
I. If we look to our Lord Jesus as a law-giver, how various and how plain are his solemn and repeated commands: not only in his sermon upon the
mount, but upon other occasions too, that justice be practised between man and man. He liath explained to us that glorious rule of equity, on purpose to make the practice of justice easy, plain, and universal, love your neighbour as yourself; that is, do to others, as you would that others do to you.
We cah not think that the holy soul of our Lord Jesus was concerned to secure the practice of justice not and righteousness among his_followers, when we read bis terrible rebuke to the Pharisees for the neg. lect of it, and a curse pronounced upon them; Matt. xxiii. 23. Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, for ye pay tythe of mint, and anise, and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith. Judgment in that place may signify commutative and distributive justice ; all manner of exercise of righteousness towards their fellow-creatures. Under a pretence of serving God better than your neighbours, and crowding his temple with your presents, and his altar with sacrifices and gifts, ye abandon common justice, ye neglect the righteousness due to your fellow-crea. tures. There is a woe denounced upon you, and my Father will inflict the curre, for he hates robbery for burnt-offering, Isa. Ixi. 8. Nor will the God of heaven excuse you from paying your dues to men on earth, under pretence of paying honours or sacrifices to him.
There are many other threatenings in the New Testament written against those that neglect justice, and pronounced by the apostles in the name and authority of Christ, their exalted Lord. The covetous and extortioners, those that take away the right of their fellow-creatures, are shut out from the heavenly blessedness ; 1 Cor. vi. 10. Know ye not, says the apostle, that none of these shall inherit the kingdom of God! As much as to say, it is so very obvious a thing, than an unjust man can never enter
into heaven, (whatsoever pretence he makes) that I may appeal to the meanest capacity, ye all know it. God will repay vengeance to them that do wrong to their neighbours, whether they be great or mean, for there is no respect of persons with him, Col. iii. 25.
II. Consider Christ as a pattern of justice and righteousness. Look to the example of our Lord Jesus; you see him, who was the sovereign magistrate and Lord of all, who could distribute crowns and kingdoms to men, submitting himself to commutative justice among creatures.
Behold the Son of God, who was the brightness of his Father's glory, and the delight of his soul before the creation, behold him stooping down to our world, and taking flesh and blood upon him to become our brother, that he might shew us how we ought to love our brethren. It was an unparalleled instance of divine love that Christ has given us, when he came down from heaven to become our neighbour, and to dwell amongst us, that he might teach us to love our neighbours as ourselves.
Behold the glorious Son of God subjecting himself to his earthly parents, to Joseph the carpenter, and to Mary his mother, that he might instruct us how to pay obedience to our superior relations. Sce how the King of kings pays tribute to Cæsar, when he was so poor, that he was forced to send Peter a fishing, to procure the tribute-money by a miracle. And though the beasts of the field were his, and he could have commanded the cattle upon a thousand hills, to make provision for his followers ; yet he would not dispossess the owners of them, but created food on purpose to feed four and five thousand in the wilderness.
III. If we consider Christ as a glorious benefac.. tor, who has taken care to provide for us the necesa saries of this life, and hath purchased for us ai the