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doubt not, but under that character which your Lordship bears, they will be sufficiently recommended to the world : and that they may effectually promote the good of it, is the hearty prayer
THE CHRISTIAN LIFE.
CHAP. I. Of justice, as it preserves the natural rights of men; and
particularly in reference to their bodies. HAVING in a former discourse asserted and explained the nature of moral good and evil in human actions, I shall now distinctly consider the sum of all that moral duty which we owe to God and to our neighbour, as the prophet hath comprised it in these words; He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, to love mercy, and walk humbly with thy God? Micah vi. 8. I begin with that duty which God requires of us towards our neighbour; and it is all implied in the two distinct virtues of justice and mercy.
In discoursing of justice, I shall endeavour these two things: 1. To shew what that justice is which is required of us towards our neighbour. 2. To prove that it is grounded upon such immutable reasons as do render it a moral good.
1. I shall endeavour to shew what that justice is which is owing to our neighbour. In general, therefore, justice consists in giving to every one his due; in which latitude it comprehends all matter of duty:
for every duty is a due to God, or our neighbour, or ourselves; and accordingly every performance of every duty is a payment of some due; and, as such, is an act of righteousness. And therefore in scripture good men are frequently styled righteous, and the whole of virtue and goodness is called righteousness, because it is a payment of some due, either to God, ourselves, or our neighbours. But justice, being here considered as a distinct and particular virtue, must be understood in a more limited sense; viz. for honesty in all our dealings with men, or giving to every man his due with whom we have any inter
And wherein this consists will best appear by considering what those things are which are due from one man to another, or what those dues and rights are which men may claim by the eternal laws of righteousness. And these are twofold, 1. Natural, and, 2. Acquired.
I begin with the first, viz. The natural rights of men, which are such as appertain to men as they are reasonable creatures, and dwelling in mortal bodies, and joined to one another by their natural relations, and by society. For in all these capacities there accrue to men certain natural rights which we are obliged in justice not to violate, but so far as we can to secure and make good to one another.
First, therefore, we will consider men as dwelling in mortal bodies.
Secondly, As rational creatures.
Thirdly, As joined to one another by natural relations.
Fourthly, As naturally united in society. And I will shew what rights there are redounding to them from all these respects and considerations.
I. We will consider men as dwelling in mortal bodies, in which there is a twofold right accruing to them: 1. A right to their bodies: 2. A right to their bodily subsistence.
1. As dwelling in mortal bodies, they have a natural right to their bodies, and to all the parts of them; for their bodies being the tenements which the great Landlord of the world hath allotted to their souls during their abode in this terrestrial state, are upon that account their undoubted right; which unless they forfeit, they cannot be deprived of without manifest injury and injustice. For if God
gave this body to my soul, it is certain that immediately under him my soul hath a right to it, and holding in capite as it doth from the supreme proprietor, is tenant at will to none but him for this its earthly habitation : so that antecedently to all human laws and constitutions, every soul is vested with a natural right to its own body; as being placed in, and put in possession of it by the God of nature; and, till by its own free act it hath alienated or forfeited its right, there is none but God (who hath reserved to himself the sovereign and absolute disposal of it) can justly either dispossess a soul of its body, or of any part or member of it; or offer any violence to the body, or put it any farther out of its soul's disposal, than God himself hath done by placing it under the outward restraints of government. So that for any one either to kill or dismember a body, whose soul hath not forfeited its right to it, to enslave or imprison a body, whose soul hath neither alienated nor forfeited its right to dispose of it, is a piece of high and crying injustice. In short, God hath placed the immortal soul of man in the tene