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shall be served by him in the same kind, if he should happen to fall into the same circumstances. And as he disturbs others, so he cannot securely enjoy himself; for how can that man be secure that acts as an enemy to mankind, and for that reason hath just cause to suspect that every man is his enemy who is conscious to his injurious behaviour? the fear of which must necessarily deprive him of all satisfaction for the present, and of all security for the future. So that unjust persons are a plague to themselves and others; and like frighted porcupines they are disturbed within, whilst they dart their quills at all without them. What a dark rude chaos then would this reasonable world be, should justice and righteousness forsake it; should rapine and violence, falsehood and oppression, reign, and the strongest arm be sole arbitrator of right and wrong ; should all promises and professions be converted into traps and snares; and every man lay ambushes in his words, and lurk behind them in reserved meanings, only to wait an opportunity to surprise and ruin every one he converses with! What would the consequence of this be, but the disbanding of all society, and the converting of this human world into a den of wolves and cannibals! For by reason of men's continued experience of each other's falsehood and insincerity, all mutual trust and confidence would be banished from among them; and every one would be forced to stand upon his guard in a constant expectation of mischief from every one; and so all their intercourse would consist in a trade of diabolical knaveries, in doing and retaliating injuries, and in circumventing and playing the devils with one another. Which would be such a dreadful state of things, that I ve
rily believe, were it left to my option, I should rather choose to languish out an eternity in some dismal dungeon alone, and there converse only with my own silent griefs, than to dwell for ever in the garden of the world, accompanied with such false and villainous creatures. But now, do but turn the other end of the perspective, and imagine that you saw judgment running down like water, and righteousness as a mighty stream; that you beheld a world of upright people, balancing all their actions and intercourses in the impartial scale of justice, and mutually weighing to one another their natural and acquired rights without any respect or partiality, the superiors graciously condescending, the inferiors cheerfully submitting, and the equals dealing equally with one another! O good God! what a blessed and happy people would this be! With what content and satisfaction, peace and mutual security would they deal and converse with one another! Here would be no quarrels or contentions, no jealousies or suspicions, no dark designs or false pretences; but every one would converse with every one with the greatest openness and freedom, and all would be inviolably safe in each other's sincerity and justice: here would be no justling or rencountering, no clashing or interfering of interests; but every one would sit happy and contented under his own vine, without any unjust desire of trespassing on his neighbour's enclosure, or disquieting fear of being ejected from his own. O! were I but an inhabitant of such a world as this, though of the lowest rank and form, how should I despise and pity the most prosperous circumstances of this unrighteous world we live in ! and how loath should I be to change my world for any other, but that of angels and of glorified spirits! O justice, justice, would men but call thee down from heaven again, and permit thee to rule and govern their actions, into what a blessed world wouldst thou convert this stage of rapine, cruelty, and blood! How wouldst thou separate this dark chaos, and distinguish its confusions into order and beauty! How soon wouldst thou reform it into an emblem of heaven, or lively figure of that celestial ether, where all is harmony, and light, and peace, and love, and happiness! If therefore it be eternally reasonable that men should study their own happiness, that is an everlasting reason why they should deal justly by one another; since without so doing it is for ever impossible for them to be happy. These are the eternal and immutable reasons, which constitute justice a moral good, and do eternally oblige us to deal justly by one another.
And now what remains, but that we betake ourselves to the conscientious practice of this great and comprehensive virtue, to give to every man what is due to him either by constitution or by just acquisition; to deal with every man with whom we have any intercourse, as with a rational creature; to treat him equitably, and do him all that good which we might reasonably expect from him, if we were placed in his circumstances; to allow him the liberty to judge for himself, so far as he is capable, and not endeavour to impose our opinions upon him by violent and forcible means; to leave him at liberty to follow the dictates of right reason, and not seek to debauch him by persuasion or threatenings into immoral and vicious courses ; to treat him humanely and suitably to the dignity of his nature, and not use him like a dog, or as if he were an animal of an inferior species ? For all those things are due to him as he is a rational creature, and cannot be denied to him without high injustice. Again; to deal with him as he is a rational creature placed by God in a mortal body; and neither to ravish his body to satisfy our lust, nor to maim or destroy it, unless it be in our own defence; nor to captivate and enslave it, unless it be upon free consent, or upon just forfeiture; nor to suffer it to perish for want of bodily sustenance, so long as it is in our power to support and relieve it. These things he hath a claim to, as he is the tenant of God, and cannot be denied without foul injustice. Once more; to use him as a rational creature united to me by natural relations: if he be my father, to honour and reverence and obey him; if he be my child, to love and instruct him, maintain and provide for him; if my brother or sister or consanguineous relation, to cherish and advise, support and assist him according to my ability. These are the dues of natural relation, and cannot be withheld without great unrighteousness. Lastly, to treat him as one whom God and nature hath united to me in the bands of human society, to love him, and live peaceably with him, to speak truth to him, and, when I am lawfully called, to swear nothing but truth concerning him, and perform my promises and oaths to him, so far as it is lawful and possible; not to blast his reputation, but to defend his person, good name, and estate, so far as I am able, and to allow him a competent share of all those profits which accrue to me from my dealing and intercourse with him. These are the natural dues which justice requires me to render him, and
which I cannot withhold from him without being injurious to the human nature within him. And as I am obliged in justice to render to every one his natural dues, so I am no less obliged by it to render him his acquired ones ; to render him whatsoever is due to him upon the account of any sacred or civil relation to me; not to intrench upon his legal possessions either by fraud or violence; to render him those honours and respects which are owing to his personal accomplishments, or to his outward rank and quality; and not to defraud, oppress, or overreach him in his contracts and bargains with me. These are the particulars, as I have shewed you at large, to which this comprehensive virtue extends itself; and oh that now, having seen upon what everlasting reasons it is built, we would be persuaded to betake ourselves to the serious practice of it.
Of the sinfulness and unreasonableness of injustice. AFTER the explication of the immutable reasons and grounds of justice, it may be proper to add some motives and considerations against injustice.
And first, consider the great repugnancy of injustice to the terms and conditions of the Christian religion. I know there are some people that look upon honesty and justice as one of the beggarly elements of religion, a sort of heathen virtue belonging to carnal and mere moral men, that are utterly unacquainted with the spirit and power of godliness :