Of Christian Magistracy.

A SERMON Preach'd in the Cathedral-Church OF St. PETER in YORK, AT The ASSIZES Held There, July the 26th, 1697. Before the Right Honourable Mr. Justice Nevill and Baron Turton.

By CHRISTOPHER WYVILL, D. D. And Dean of Ripon.

LONDON, Printed for B. Aylmer at the Three Pigeons in Cornhill, and F. Hildyard Bookseller in York. 1697.

TO THOMAS PVLLEINE, Esq HIGH-SHERIFF OF THE County of YORK.

SIR,

YOV have been pleased to set too great a Value upon my serving You at the last Assizes, by thinking my Sermon fit to be made Publick in so Critical and Judicious an Age as this is. However, in complyance with Your Request, I have suffer'd it to appear in Print, and do Dedicate it to You, not only because I Composed it for Your Service, (to whom there­fore in right it doth belong,) but because I Re­spect and Honour You for that You are a true Lover of Your Country, of the Church of [Page] England, and of His Present Majesties Happy Government: The real Good and Prosperity of all which is aim'd at and intended in the ensuing Discourse, and is most heartily pray'd for, and shall upon all Occasions be sincerely endeavoured after to the utmost of his Power, by him who is,

Your most Obedient, And Most Humble Servant, Chris. Wyvill.

Of Christian Magistracy.

1 COR. vj. 1, 2, 3.

Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?

Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? And if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?

Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?

THAT which is the great Blessing and Happiness, as well as the main stay and support of any Nation or Society of Men, next under Gods Providence and Protection, is the right Administration of its Civil Govern­ment; whereby the Publick Safety is provided for, every Mans Rights and Priviledges are secured to him, and whole­some Laws put in execution for the good of the whole Com­munity. Which great Blessing there have been some who would deprive all Christian Societies of; who under the specious pretence of Christian Liberty have taught that Christians were under no obligation to any Humane Ordi­nance, [Page 2] that Courts of Judicature are not necessary in a Christian State, that the Christian Religion hath abrogated the Authority of Civil Powers, and that the Office of a Judge or Civil Magistrate is inconsistent with the Profession of a Christian.

These were the wild Fancies of the Gnosticks in the times of the Apostles, and of the Anabaptists and other Sectaries in this latter Age. Thus by pulling down Magistracy they would erect a Babel of Confusion, and by making way for Liberty introduce Licentiousness and Disorder.

For the confutation of which fond Conceits, besides ma­ny other passages that might be produced out of the Holy Scriptures, this Chapter of my Text may be sufficient: Wherein although St. Paul doth indeed blame the Christians of the Church of Corinth for impleading one another at the Bar of Heathen Judges, yet he allows them to do so before Judges that professed the Christian Faith; and for that pur­pose would have them constitute and appoint fit and proper Persons amongst themselves, of their own Religion, to be Judges of their Law-suits, who should hear their Causes, and determine their Controversies, and to whose decretory Sentence they were to submit. Which Permission we may be sure he would not have granted unto them, if to be a Christian and to be a Judge were incompatible, or if it were unlawful for Chirstians to make use of or to apply them­selves unto a Christian Court of Judicature.

For dare any of you, (saith he) i. e. will any of you, ha­ving a matter against another, i. e. against another Christian, go to law, i. e. implead or accuse one another before the unjust, that is, before Heathens or Unbelievers, (as they are called in the 6th Verse) and not before the saints, i. e. before Christian Judges? For by the word Saints we must in this place understand no more than Believers or Professors of the Gospel, that is, Christians: Of whom he saith, Do ye not know that the saints, i. e. Christians, shall judge the world, [Page 3] i. e. all wicked Men? And if the world shall be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know you not that we, i. e. that we Christians, shall judge angels, i. e. the Apostate Spirits, how much more things that pertain to this life? These Interrogatives do imply so many strong Affir­matives: As if he should have said, You ought not to go to Law before Heathen Judges, but rather before Christians. You know very well that you shall one day judge these In­fidels and Unbelievers, and all wicked Men, and therefore surely you are fit to judge in matters of less moment, you are not unworthy of smaller Judicatures. You cannot be ignorant that you shall judge even Angels, and therefore you are now much more worthy of Inferiour Seats of Judg­ment, to judge of matters which pertain to this Life. He attributes, you see, a sort of a Judicature to the Saints here­after, and therefore would have them to be Judges now: He adviseth them to set out those amongst them who should try their Causes, so as that they need not go to Heathen Courts: Wherefore (saith he, in the Verse immediately fol­lowing my Text) if ye have judgment of things pertaining to this life, that is, if ye have any secular Controversies, set them to judge who are least esteem'd in the church, v. 4. Which Expression may perhaps at first sight, or at first hearing, seem very strange and unreasonble: For what? Would he have the Judgment-seats fill'd with Persons who were the least esteemed in the Church? When St. Paul advised them to set up Judges amongst themselves to hear and determine their Causes, would he have them to be the refuse and scum of the People? When the Office of a Judge requires the great­est Wisdom, Knowledge, and Experience, (which gains him Esteem, and Reputation, and Honour in the World) would he have such to be Judges amongst them who are destitute of those Qualities that must make them fit for so high a Calling, as those who are least esteemed in the Chruch must be presumed to be? No surely; this could not be the [Page 4] meaning or intention of the Apostle: We must not conceive that he spoke this by way of Precept, commanding them to set the weakest and the simplest of their Brethren to judge betwixt one Christian and another, but it must be supposed that he spoke this only by way of comparison, that they had better do so, than implead one another at the Bar of Infidel Judges. But what if we should make another con­struction of the words, different indeed from the common interpretation, but more agreeable to St. Pauls meaning, and to the Original Greek? What if by [...] we should understand (not the causes or things pertaining to this Life which are to be tryed and judged, as most Interpreters seem to understand them, but) the secular places or seats where such Causes are tryed, and Judgment given? What if by [...] we should understand, not the mean­est and simplest Christians, but the Heathens and Infidels who are of little or no esteem in the Church? So as that the Apostles meaning may be this, (viz.) If you esteem these Men, the Heathens and Unbelievers, to be of little or no account in the Church (as you have no Reason to think otherwise of them) then set up Secular Judgment-seats amongst your selves, and fill them with fit and proper Per­sons. For, as he proceeds in the next Verse, ver. 5. I speak to your shame Is it so that there is not a wise man amongst you? no not one, that shall be able to judge between his brethren? By which words he clearly intimates, that he ought to be a Wise Man, and no contemptible Person, who should have the Authority of a Judge in the Church. Far therefore was it from the Apostles meaning to bid them set contemptible Persons, those who were least esteem'd in Seats of Judgment: But he rather checks and reproves them for that although they were generally great Preten­ders to Knowledge and Wisdom, yet they would chuse to appeal to the Courts of Infidels, as if there were not [Page 5] a Wise Man among them who might try and judge their Causes.

It may be very likely indeed, that the Persons I speak of were to be but in the nature of Referees or common Arbi­trators, to whose Judgment the Christians were by joynt consent to submit their Differences. For what else could the Apostle grant to Christians who at that time were de­stitute of publick Authority? And if in the Circumstances they were then in, he gave them a permission to chuse Christian Arbitrators for the decision or composing of what Causes they had to bring before them, we may be sure that when a Nation became Christian, when the Christian Faith should be not only countenanced and encouraged, but by Law established and upheld, he would much more allow of Christian Arbiters or Judges appointed by Publick Authority for the ends of Common Justice.

What therefore I have farther to say upon this Subject, and from the words of my Text, shall be comprehended in these following Particulars.

First, I shall enquire for what Reasons St. Paul would not have the Christians make their Appeals to the Bar of Unbelieving Judges, at the Tribunal of Heathen Magi­strates.

Secondly, I shall consider that Reason which he gives, why a Christian may be a Judge, why he should under­take the Office of a Civil Magistrate, with what other Reasons may be assign'd for it.

Thirdly, When Christian Judges are set apart and ap­pointed by Publick Authority, I shall consider the Matters that may be brought before them; which according to my Text are said to be things pertaining to this Life, and those are commonly of two sorts:

1. Matters of Civil Controversie betwixt one Man and another engaged in Suits of Law. And,

[Page 6]2. Criminal Matters, or Things done contrary to the Laws by such Offenders and Evil-doers as are to be punished according to their Deserts.

With respect to the first of which, I shall consider how far and upon what accounts a Christian may go to Law, and with what Tempers and Dispositions of Mind he should do so when there is occasion for it.

With respect to the second, I shall consider the Reason­ableness and the Necessity of it.

Lastly, I shall conclude with some Inferences from the whole, such as may be suitable to our present Solemnity, and by Gods Blessing profitable to us all.

First, Then I shall consider for what Reasons St. Paul would not have the Christians make their Appeals to the Bar of Unbelieving Judges, at the Tribunal of Heathen Magistrates. For what? Was it because he thought it a Sin to do so? That cannot surely be supposed, because he himself appeal'd unto Caesar, Acts 25.11. and offered his Cause to be try'd at the Bar of one of the worst of Hea­thens. Was it because he thought, as some have since imagined, that Dominion is founded in Grace, and that con­sequently the Heathens being destitute of Divine Grace and the means of obtaining it, should have no Dominion, nor Authority, nor Power in the World? No such matter; for he knew very well that Dominion, in whomsoever it is lodged, is Originally of Divine Right; and that there is no power but of God, that the powers which be (whether they be Heathen or Christian) were ordained of God, Rom. 13.1. and that Christ himself acknowledged the Authority which Pilate, a most Graceless Heathen Judge, had over him, John 19.11. Was it because Christianity hath abrogated the Power of the Civil Magistrate, hath divested him of all Right to Rule and Govern, and absolved all Men from Submission unto him, unless he becomes Christian? No [Page 7] certainly; for the Rights and Priviledges of Temporal Ru­lers and Governours, whether they be Kings as Supream, or other Inferiour Magistrates authorised and sent by them for the ends of Publick Government, are no where better secured than in the Christian Religion, Rom 13, 5. all Persons by the Rules of its Doctrine being enjoyn'd Obe­dience to those in Authority, not only for wrath but also for conscience sake, 1 Pet. 2.13, 14. It designs indeed, and earnestly desires their Conversion to the Christian Faith, and their professing the Gospel of Christ; but if that cannot be effected, it leaves them the exercise of their just Power notwithstanding.

It was not therefore for these or any such like Reasons that St. Paul prohibited the Corinthians to whom he writes from appealing unto or impleading one another before the unjust, the unbelieving Magistrates: But it was because great Scandal was thereby raised upon themselves, and an ill Report upon the Church of Christ; and great occasion was thereby given to the Heathens of being offended at Christs Religion, and of standing farther off from making profession of it. For the Christians of the Church of Co­rinth, to whom St. Paul writes, were very much given to Contentions and Litigations amongst themselves, and would do wrong and defraud one another, 1 Cor. 6.8. whereupon a Suit of Law was presently commenced, which 'tis likely they prosecuted with no small Heat and Passion, and there­fore the Heathens, before whom they brought their Causes to be heard and try'd, could not but discern how much they were addicted to Fraud and Violence which for the most part occasion'd their Suits, how impatient of Injuries and Wrongs done them, how desirous of Revenge, how Covetous and Worldly-minded, how very Litigious and Quarrelsome they were. Upon which accounts the Chri­stians were exposed to their scorn and derision, and their very Religion brought into contempt and scandal, as if it [Page 8] authorised or permitted such Irregularities and Disorders. And therefore our Apostle, for the avoiding of Scandal and for fear of giving Offence to the Enemies of the Church, had great Reason to forbid them going to Law before the Unbelievers, and making their Appeals to the Bar of Hea­then Judges. In which prohibition he may be conceived to have had respect to a common and known saying amongst the Jews, (viz.) That he who prosecuteth an Israelite at the Tribunal of the Gentiles, profanes the Name of God.

Besides, there is one thing farther to be considered in the case, namely, That the Heathen Judges being already suf­ficiently prejudiced against the Christians, when they had them in their Power by having them at their Bar, they would be sure to treat them with the utmost Rigour and Severity.

Nay moreover, they by being Heathens and Unbelievers might be presumed to be also Unjust in the strictest sense of the word, like the unjust Judge in the Gospel, who nei­ther feared God nor regarded man, Luke 18.2. and then what Justice or Equity could the poor Christians expect from them? And therefore St. Paul had good Reason to say unto them, Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints, rather?

There may be also another Reason why he forbad them to appeal to Heathen Judges, and that was because it re­flected upon the Wisdom and Authority of the Church, and look'd as if none of themselves were worthy of or fit for such an Honour; therefore, saith he, bring not your Causes to be try'd before the Infidels, give them not that occasion to triumph and exult over you; but if you must go to Law, let it be done before the Saints. And this pro­hibition we must look upon to concern chiefly the Plaintiffs who are not bound to sue, and not to belong to the Defen­dants who if prosecuted are bound to stand to Tryal.

[Page 9] Secondly, And thus I come in the second place to consi­der the Reason which our Apostle gives why a Christian may be a Judge, why he should undertake the Office of a Civil Magistrate. For although there needs no Reason to be given for it, (the thing it self being so very evident and plain, the general practice whereof declares its Reason­ableness and Necessity too,) yet that which the Apostle gives is a very considerable one, and deserves our particular remark; and that is, Because the Saints shall judge the world, yea even Angels themselves: For do you not know, saith he, that the saints shall judge the world? And if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels, how much more things that pertain to this life?

Now the proper signification of Saints is Men of Holi­ness, such as were all the Faithful Servants of God under the Old Testament, such as all under the New are supposed or required to be. And being that all Christians are called unto an Holy Calling, and without great and apparent Reason to the contrary ought in Charity to be presumed to live answerably to their Calling, therefore they may very well be accounted and called Saints. And although it be true that not all who are called Saints shall hereafter judge the World, but they only who have lived according to that Calling, yet if any shall, the Argument holds good that therefore they may be Judges and Magistrates here.

For the better understanding of which it will be neces­sary that we should consider what kind of Judicature the Saints shall exercise, and in what sense they may be said to judge.

Now although there may be several ways whereby this may be understood, yet waving all the rest, as thinking it needless to trouble you with a particular enumeration and discussion of them I shall at present mention but one, as [Page 10] being most plain and natural, and most apposite to what St. Paul intends; and that is this, viz. That when our Lord Christ, (who by Gods appointment is design'd to be the Supream Judge of all the World,) when He shall de­scend from Heaven at the end of the World to judge the Quick and the Dead, the Saints of God shall first be judged and absolved themselves, and then be assumed as assessors unto him, and bear him company in Judging and Condem­ning the rest of the World, that is to say, all Wicked Men and all Apostate Angels. This Explication seems to be the most Reasonable, and is what the best Expositors are agreed upon, and which seems to be the meaning of what our Sa­viour said to his own Apostles when he told them that when He the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, they also shall sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel, Mat. 19.28.

Now if the Saints of God, if Christians who have lived here according to their Holy Profession, if they in the Great and Final Judgment of all the World shall be vouchsafed that Honour as to be Assessors with Christ, and to sit in Judgment with Him on the Wicked World, if they shall have any thing to do in matters of so high importance, they may Reasonably enough be accounted worthy to have the Judgment of inferiour things committed to their trust; well may they take upon them the Power and Authority of Judges and Magistrates now, who shall hereafter be con­cern'd in adjudging the Eternal Being both of Angels and Men. This is that Reason which St. Paul gives why a Christian may be a Judge, why he should undertake the Office of a Civil Magistrate; and if there be any who are yet unsatisfied with it, if there are still any so unreasonable as not to admit of a Legal Magistracy amongst Christians, other Reasons there are not unworthy our Consideration that may be alledged for it.

[Page 11]For 1st, We find it no where mentioned in the Gospel of Christ that so high and useful a Calling is inconsistent with the Profession of it. And if it were Unlawful for a Christian to bear that Office we may be sure that either Christ himself, or some of his Apostles, would have ex­presly forbidden it. Which being they have no where done, we cannot but conclude their Censure rash and foolish who do condemn it. Nay, so far is the Christian Religion from interdicting it to Christians, that there are many things in it which make manifestly for it. All Civil Magistrates and Rulers are by St. Paul said to be the Ministers of God, Rom. 13.4. even they who do not profess the Faith of Christ, much more Reasonably therefore may they be esteem'd so who really do. We read in the New Testament of some Eminent Persons in great Power and Authority who were Disciples of Christ and converted to his Religion; but we no where find that they laid down their Offices when they became Christians. Besides, if there were to be no Chri­stian Magistrates or Governours, or Judges amongst Chri­stians, they must then either be exposed to all the Confu­sion and Disorder which an ungovern'd Society is lyable unto, (which we cannot imagine that our Lord did ever design they should be) or they must be govern'd by those who are not of their Religion, by such as are either ene­mies of it, or at least no good friends or well-wishers to it. And then what favour, or kindness, or protection, could they expect from them? Nay would not their condition be rather very calamitous and deplorable? Would Magistrates and Judges who are no Christians, give encouragement or countenance to the Christians Religion? Would they pro­mote the real Interest of the Church of Christ, and make it prosper and flourish? 'Tis scarce imaginable that they would. It was under the Government of Heathen Rulers that the Primitive Christians suffer'd the greatest Persecu­tions, nor could they hope for or expect much Peace and [Page 12] Prosperity till Christianity became the Prosession of their Kings and Emperors. It is therefore for the good of Chri­stians, for the benefit of Christs Church, for the furtherance of his Gospel, and for the encrease of true Religion and Piety, that a Christian Magistracy is not only expedient but necessary too. To which we may also add, that a Chri­stian is of all others the fittest person for so high a Calling, and the better Christian a Man is (provided that in other respects he be but duely qualified) the more fit he must needs be for it, as by instancing in those Christian Vertues, which are the great Ornament as well as the necessary En­dowments of a Magistrate, might be easily proved, were it necessary to be done. I come therefore now in the Third place,

Thirdly, To consider the Matters that may be brought before Christian Judges; which according to my Text are said to be things pertaining to this Life; and those are com­monly of two sorts, whereof the first are Matters of civil Controversie betwixt one Man and another engaged in Suits of Law; with respect whereunto there are two things which I design to do:

(1.) To consider how far and upon what accounts a Christian may go to Law.

(2.) To shew with what Tempers and Dispositions of Mind a Suit of Law should be managed when there is oc­casion for it.

(1.) Then I shall consider how far and upon what ac­counts a Christian may go to Law. And this ought to be seriously observed, and very well understood, because there are some Persons so very scrupulous and nice as to think it utterly Unlawful for a Christian upon any account whatso­ever to go to Law at all, and others on the other hand are so very Contentious and Litigious that they will sue their [Page 13] Neighbour upon every slight and trivial occasion, and pre­tend to justifie their doing so by alledging that the Law is open and free, and think that they do no harm if they have the Law on their side.

Now in the first place that it is not Unlawful, i. e. not sinful, for Christians to go to Law, is plain enough from this place of my Text, where for the decision of emergent Questions St. Paul allows of Christian Judges. He tells the Christians indeed in the 8th Verse of this Chapter, that it was a fault that they went to Law. But that may be supposed to be spoken with respect to their going to Law before the Unjust, the Unbelieving Magistrates; which is the chief thing which in this place he reproves them for: Or perhaps it was because they impleaded one another for small and trifling accounts, such as might easily have been put-up and past-by. However it be, he calls it but a Fault, i. e. a defect or a failing, but not such as can be accounted a Sin. He does not call it [...] or [...], but [...], that is, a diminution or a less degree of Christian Perfection, and that is all that is meant by those words.

But then on the other hand although it be true that the Law is free and open for all Persons, and that the Christian Religion hath not absolutely forbid Christians to go to Law, yet it is certain that it doth not become a Christian to take all that advantage which the Law will give him, nor to have recourse unto it upon every petty wrong or slight in­jury done him. It is very much distant from the meekness and forbearance and gentleness of a Christian to commence a Suit, or to contest with his Neighbour for mere trifles. There are many sorts of small and supportable wrongs and injuries which a good Christian ought to forgive and put up without appealing to the Laws for redress. It is more becoming a Disciple of Christ to bear with some Damages, to over-look some Trespasses, and even wholly to forgive inconsiderable Debts, then to trouble Courts of Justice [Page 14] about them. Nor can this I hope give any Reasonable Cause of Offence to the Gentlemen of the Law (whose Pro­fession I honour) since they themselves cannot but be of­fended to have Matters brought before them which are un­worthy of or below the Gravity of Laws and the Solemnity of a Court. Besides, it is but what is agreeable to our Lords Doctrine in the 5th of St. Matthews Gospel, ver. 39, 40, 41. where he obligeth all his Disciples and Followers to remit all smaller and tolerable Injuries, so as not to make them Matters of Complaint or seek for a Legal Reparation, whether they be such as concern our Body and Reputa­tion, or our Goods and Possession, or our Freedoms and Priviledges.

But now although the Christian Religion obligeth us to forgive Injuries and Wrongs, and would not have us pro­secute all sort of Offences, although it restrains a Man from making the utmost advantage of Humane Laws, and allows him not to sue his Neighbour upon every trifling and pitiful account, yet it leaves every Man free to seek for redress by the benefit of the Laws for great Wrongs and less support­able Injuries done him, or even to secure himself against them in case he be threatned with them, or have just Cause to fear them. There is no doubt therefore but that when great Injustice is offered or considerable Damage is done us, it is Lawful to provide for our Security against the one, and to endeavour to repair the other by a due Course of Law.

But besides the Cases of great and considerable Injuries, 'tis certain also that is Lawful to appeal to the decision of the Law in Cases of Disputable Right, when the Mat­ter is of great weight and moment. For Men do not al­ways go to Law because either Party hath done Wrong to the other, (thou that oftentimes is the occasion of most of our Suits) but because neither Party can determine the just Right and Title to the Thing they contest about, so [Page 15] that each Party thinks himself in the right, and neither of them hath wronged the other. Now in this case the Law is the fittest and indeed the only Umpire betwixt them; and if the Matter cannot otherwise be decided, recourse may Lawfully be had thereto.

We may then go to Law upon great and weighty ac­counts, such as are great Indignities and Wrongs, for our guard against them, for our reparations of them, for the recovery of our just Rights, and for a Legal determination of what is right or wrong in Disputable Causes that are or may be of great concern to us. And in vain it would be to have either Laws or Magistrates, if this use might not be made of the benefit of those and the ministry of these.

(2.) But Secondly, be the Case what it will upon which we enter an Action at Law, or be the occasion of it never so justifiable, yet we ought to take great care that we ma­nage it with due Tempers and Dispositions of Mind. First then;

1. In the commencing of every Suit at Law we should in the first place consider, that by Christian Charity we are obliged to manage it with all possible calmness, meekness, and kindness, forbearing all manner of uncharitable Inve­ctives, bitter Railings and malicious Accusations of one another. We should quietly leave the Matter to be fairly and equally decided by a due Course of Law, and the Sen­tence of the Judge. And in the mean time we should em­brace one another with a friendly and courteous Behaviour, and amicably converse together. It is without doubt Law­ful for any Man to sue for what may be his own, or what he thinks to be so, especially if it be a matter of concern, and will admit of no other decision: But then to proceed in it with a rough and surly Demeanour, to bespatter each other with scurrilous and spightful Words, to raise Refle­ctions and foment Suspicions extrinsecal to the Business in dispute, is neither the right way to obtain the Cause, nor [Page 16] agreeable to that Charity which the Gospel enjoyns us.

2. Moreover; in all Suits of Law we should discharge our Minds from all inclinations to Revenge, and beware of a bitter and passionate Spirit. We must not hale our Ad­versary to the Bar of the Magistrate on purpose to be re­venged on him, but to right our selves and redress our Wrongs, nor must we design any more harm to him than what is necessary for our own Lawful Vindication, and for the ends of Publick Justice.

3. We should consider also farther that it is not becom­ing us either as Christians or Men, when we have carried the Cause and got the better of our Adversary, insolently to boast and triumph over him. We should not mock or abuse him, nor aggravate his loss by reproachful or scornful Language. We should rather remember and observe the Advice of Solomon, Rejoyce not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth, Prov. 24.17.

4. Lastly it is the duty of both Parties in all Actions at Law to rest satisfied with the definitive Sentence and De­termination of the Judge. He that hath obtain'd his Cause, to be sure will; he that hath lost it, in right Reason and Prudence ought to do so too. He should be patient if he thinks himself injured, and charitable if he be wronged. He should not envy the Adversary that got the better, nor murmur at the Jury that brought a Verdict contrary to his mind, nor suspect the Integrity of his Councellour, as if he had not pleaded for him to the best advantage, much less speak ill of the Judge that gave the Cause against him. He should quietly sit down and submit to peace, if he thinks his just Cause is rejected and oppressed: His just Cause? Nay he should rather suspect his own Judgment, and con­clude that his Cause was neither right nor just, but that he himself was in the wrong, since in a Court of Justice be­fore Wise, and Understanding, and Impartial Men, the [Page 17] Cause was carried against him. Thus humbly and meekly should he carry himself, rather than rail at or accuse any of the adverse Party, and he should depart the Court with­out regret, and quietly rest contented with the loss of his Pains and Cost. To do otherwise will but discover a re­vengeful malicious Spirit, inconsistent with the meekness and patience and humbleness of a Disciple of the meek and the patient and the humble Jesus. And thus much may suffice to be spoken with respect to the first sort of Matters that may be brought before a Christian Judge or Magistrate, and those are Matters of Civil Controversie betwixt one Man and another engaged in Suits of Law.

2. The second are Criminal Matters or things done con­trary to the Laws by such Offenders and Evil-doers as are to be punished according to their deserts; with respect to which I shall shew the Reasonableness and the Necessity of it.

Now although it be true that the Christian Judges, of whom my Text speaks, had not the Power of Judging in Criminal Matters nor of punishing Offenders with the Civil Sword, because the Civil Power was at that time in the hands of the Heathens; yet when a Nation is become Christian, and the Civil Power is lodged in the hands of Christian Magistrates, 'tis but very fit and reasonable that they also should have the cognizance of Criminal Matters, and award Punishments according to the Malefactors de­serts. Without this Power the Christian Common-wealth could not subsist in safety, nor the particular Members of it be protected from Violence and Oppression. And therefore even a Christian Ruler hath the Power of the Sword com­mitted to him, which he [...]eareth not in vain, for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doth evil, Rom. 13.5. And the Governours or Magistrates who are deputed and delegated by him are sent for the [Page 18] punishment of evil-doers as well as for the praise of them that do well, 1 Pet. 2.14. And though there be a Judgment to come hereafter, when the Wicked shall be condemned to endless Punishments, for the Crimes they have committed in this Life, yet for the security of Publick Peace and Order in the World it is not safe to leave Men to Terrors at such a distance, but to commit to Magistrates the Power of exe­cuting Vengeance on Evil-doers here, that others by their Examples may learn to do well, at least that they may be with-held from offending for Wrath, if not for Conscience sake.

Now there are divers sorts of Criminal Matters that may be brought to the Bar; and several sorts of Offenders against the Law that reasonably may and most justly ought to be punished by it. But of all sorts there are some so no­torious and so very remarkable, that I cannot but mention them, not barely to excite the Government against them, but to shew the Justice and Equity of its Proceedings in Punishing them, together with the Reasonableness and the Necessity thereof, and to deter others from following their pernicious Examples.

1. The first sort of those Offenders which I shall take no­tice of, are those amongst our selves, who being the natural born Subjects of this Land do most unnaturally endeavour to disturb our Peace by Commotions and Rebellions, who seek to subvert our Laws and Government by promoting a Foreign Invasion; and to that end and purpose do plot and contrive the most barbarous Murder of our King.

It is a great Blessing of God which we of this Nation do enjoy, that although we are engaged in a Just War with our Enemies Abroad, yet we are at Peace amongst our selves at Home, and free from those distresses and hardships which our Neighbouring Nations that are made the Seat of the War do groan under. But how desirous are some amongst us to disturb this our Peace? How industrious have they of [Page 19] late been (and may perhaps be still) to procure our Enemies to invade us, and bring great Miseries and Calamities upon us, and to overwhelm us all in Blood and Confusion? For what can be the end and design of calling in the French amongst us? Is it out of good Will towards us? Is it be­cause they love us, and have a kindness for us, and design to do us good? Let them believe it that can. Is it not ra­ther through the side of our King to give a deadly wound to our Church and State? Is it not through a stream of Royal Blood to make a passage to our own Bowels? Is it not to subvert our present Peace and Tranquillity, our Quietness and Security, and utterly to subvert and ruine whatsoever is near and dear to us?

'Tis easie to imagine, 'tis natural to believe that the French, those sworn and implacable Enemies to our Church and State, would endeavour an Invasion upon our Land with a design on purpose to extirpate our Religion, Laws and Liberties, and to make our Nation become Tributary to their own. But that any Englishmen, the natural born Subjects of this Kingdom, should sollicit them to it, should be aiding and assisting therein, that in order thereto, and to the facilitating thereof, they should contrive to assassinate the Person of an Anointed and Crown'd King, of that King who so often and so bravely hath hazarded His Royal Person in the defence of this Kingdom, and for the vindi­cation of the Common Liberties of Mankind against the Power and Violence of the Common Enemy and Oppressor, that Protestants should joyn with Papists to bring about a Popish Invasion for the destruction of a Protestant King and Nation; this is that which we cannot but with horrour stand amazed at.

It is our great Happiness that we live under the Govern­ment of a King whom we may, without Flattery, reckon to be one of the best of Princes, by whom we have our Laws, our Liberties, our Properties, our Religion, all en­tirely [Page 20] preserved, and through Gods Goodness secured to us. Concerning whom we may, without a Compliment, make use of those words of Tertullus the Orator to Felix the Go­vernour, Seeing that by thee very worthy deeds are done unto this nation by thy providence, we accept it always and in all▪ places most noble Felix with all thankfulness, Acts 24 2, 3. Even those very Persons who through Prejudice or Ignorance, or a misinform'd Conscience, cannot or will not comply with the Oaths to His Government, even they, if they please, may live quietly and peaceably and undisturbedly under it. And therefore with what horrour and indignation can we but think upon, what Punishment can we think too great for those Miscreants who by a treacherous and bloody Assassination would deprive us of the benefit of His Life?

These are certainly Malefactors in grain, Offenders of the greatest size, and justly deserve that Vengeance which some of their Associates have already suffered; the unsuc­cessfulness of whose Attempts and the example of whose deserv'd Punishment may serve to deter all others from the like Treasonable and Base Designs.

2. Another sort of Evil-doers there are, who, although they have no design against the Kings either Life or Govern­ment, do deface His Image and Superscription, and impose upon the Nation with Counterfeit ones, whereby they do great injury to the Publick, and deserve Punishment as well as common Highway-men and Robbers. And though se­veral of these Evil-doers have of late been taken off by the Justice of the Laws against which they so highly offended, yet the spawn and generation of them is not yet extirpated, but 'tis rather to be feared that they still grow more nume­rous, as if the great Blessing of God to the first Race of Mankind had been design'd for them, Be fruitful and mul­tiply, Gen 1.28. And therefore 'tis every good Mans concern and interest to discover, so far as he can, these enor­mous Criminals, and to bring them to the Bar of Justice, [Page 21] that, if it be possible, our Land may at last be freed from those Defacers and Counterfeiters of Majesty.

3. Another sort of Offenders whom I shall take notice of, are the common Debauchees of the Nation, they who trample under foot the Laws both of God and Man, and are so far from being ashamed of their Lewdness and Im­pieties that they openly talk and brag of them, and make a glory of that which should be their greatest shame. These are the worst Enemies which the Government hath, how great Friends soever they may pretend to be to it, forasmuch as for their notorious Sins and open Impieties the Great and Just God may be highly provoked by unforeseen and un­thought-of ways to unhinge the Government, to weaken the nerves and sinews of it, to blast the publick underta­kings for our good, and to deprive us utterly of our Reli­gion, Laws and Liberties, since we make no better use of them But now the Power and Authority of the Civil Magistrate may avert those Judgments by causing condign Punishments to be awarded upon these impious Offenders, which perhaps may be more available to a publick Refor­mation than the best Discourses and Sermons of the most able Preachers, and we may then hope for and expect the Blessing of God upon the Nation, when by good Laws and Statutes, (such as are already made, such as the Wisdom of the Government shall hereafter think fit to make) and the due execution of them, the flood-gates of these common Impieties shall be stopt up.

Other Criminals and Evil-doers there may be whom the Justice of the Laws may find out: But whosoever they are that will not obey the laws of God, and the laws of the King, 'tis but fit and right, reasonable and necessary (for the dis­countenancing of Vice, for the encouragement of Vertue, for the preservation of Peace and good Order in the Chri­stian State) that Judgment should be executed speedily upon [Page 22] them, whether it be unto death, or to banishment, or to confis­cation of goods, or to imprisonment, Ezra 7.26.

Now from all that I have hitherto said we may dis­cern.

1. That we have great Reason to bless and praise the great Mercy and good Providence of Almighty God, for that we are now blessed with Judges and Magistrates who are not only Christians, but Professors of that Christianity which is the purest and the best reformed in the World. You see that St. Paul would not have the Christians to whom he writes to have any thing to do with the Heathen Judges, with Infidel Magistrates; and have not we then great Reason to think our selves happy that we are not under the Power of Popish ones? Would Popish Judges put the Pro­testant Laws in execution? Would a Popish Magistracy promote the good and welfare of a Protestant Church and Nation? Just as much as the Heathens would that of the Primitive Christians. 'T would suit neither with their In­terest nor their Principles. And therefore we have great Reason to thank God and the King that we are not con­cern'd with them.

2. We may from hence also discern the great Unreason­ableness and the great Injustice of private Revenge and per­sonal Vindication of Injuries. For it is an usurping of the Power of the Civil Magistrate, who is Gods Representative and Deputy, appointed under him to be the publick aven­ger; and therefore 'tis written, Avenge not your selves, but rather give place unto wrath; for vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord, Rom 12.19. Deut. 32.35. He does it by his Ministers, the Judges and Magistrates, and there­fore no private Person ought to intermeddle with it.

3. We may moreover, from what I have said, perceive how great encouragement we have to live answerably to our Holy Calling by walking in Holiness and Righteousness [Page 23] of Life, and by becoming truly Saints here, since if we do so, we shall be advanced to the Honour of sitting with our Lord among the Saints in Judgment hereafter.

4. And lastly, We may from hence take an occasion very seasonably and profitably to meditate upon that great and general Assize which shall be at the end of the World, when we shall all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, accord­ing to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad, 2 Cor. 5.10 Let us therefore from the Formalities of a Court of Judicature here fix our thoughts upon that which will be hereafter, when we shall all be summon'd before the Tribunal of that Impartial Judge who even now keeps a private Sessions in every Mans Breast. Here the Earthly Judges, Men like our selves, come unto us with indeed some little shew of outward Pomp and Slendour, as 'tis fit they should: But what is that to the coming of our Lord him­self, who shall descend from hea [...]en with a shout, with the voice of the arch-angel and with the trump of God? Even the Lord Jesus himself shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, taking vengeance on those that know not God, and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 Thess. 1.8, 9. Here indeed Malefactors of all sorts may so sculk and hide themselves, as that they cannot be found out and discovered, and consequently may avoid the danger and shame of being set to the Bar to be try'd: But there every Man shall make his personal appearance, and nothing shall hide them or cover them from the presence of the Judge. Here we have need of Witnesses and Informers to prove the Inditement; but there our own Consciences shall testifie against us, and God himself will set before us the things that we have done. Here through collusion and pre­varication the Truth may be conceal'd; but there all things will be open and manifest to him with whom we have to do: Who both will bring to light the hidden things of dark­ness, [Page 24] and will make manifest even the very counsels of the Heart. Here a notorious Offender through Partiality and Favour, or through Bribery and Foul-dealing may escape the Punishment due to his Crimes; but there nothing shall avert the execution of that dreadful Sentence, Go ye, cursed into everlasti [...]g fire, Mat. 25.41. The utmost Punishment that the stroke of Justice can here inflict on Evil-doers may be perhaps but Banishment into another Climate, or Confis­cation of some perishable Goods, or some Pecuniary Mulct, or some Corporal Castigations, or Imprisonment during Life, or Temporal Death at the farthest; but they that shall be condemned at that Bar shall be banished from the Glorious Kingdom of Heaven, shall lose the most durable and most desirable Goods, shall undergo never ceasing Pains, shall be detain'd in Everlasting Chains of Darkness, shall suffer the second Death both of Body and Soul for ever. Here the acquittal from the Judge is only a restitution to our former state of Life; but there it will extend to a new, far better, much more glorious condition. O therefore let such Thoughts as these sink down into our Hearts, and produce in us an answerable Conversation. This is that good use which we may all make of these Inferiour Courts of Justice, seriously considering what will be the sad and most deplorable case of all wicked and impenitent Sinners at the terrible Bar of that irrespective Tribunal, where their Appearance will be certain, the Sentence of Condem­nation irreversible, and the Punishment consequent there­upon intolerable. Wherefore let us make it our business so to behave our selves here that we may appear with comfort when that great and terrible day of the Lord comes. Let us endeavour to make our peace with God whilst we live, by a sincere Repentance of our former Sins, a firm resolu­tion to lead a new Life, and a stedfast Faith in his Son Jesus; that so at the general Resurrection of the Dead when we shall all appear at that Judgment-seat, we may be set [Page 25] on the Right-hand, and receive with joy that blessed Sen­tence which the Lord the Righteous and Eternal Judge shall then pronounce to all that love and fear him, saying, Come ye blessed children of my Father receive the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world, Mat. 25.41. Which God of his Infinite Mercy grant unto us all, through the Merits of Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom with the Fa­ther and the Holy Ghost, the ever-blessed and adorable Trinity, be all Honour, Glory and Praise, now and for evermore. Amen.

FINIS.

Books Printed for Brabazon Aylmer at the Three Pigeons against the Royal Exchange in Cornhil.

A Brief Exposition on the Creed, the Lords Prayer, and Ten Commandments: To which is added the Do­ctrine of the Sacraments. By Isaac Barrow, D. D. and late Master of Trinity College in Cambridge. This on the Creed never before Published; being very different from the Vo­lume of Sermons on it in 8vo.

A Defence of the B. Trinity. By Isaac Barrow, D. D. late Master of Trinity College in Cambridge. Never before Printed.

The Council of Trent no Free Assembly: More fully discovered by a Collection of Letters and Papers of the Learned Dr. Vargas and other great Ministers, who assisted at the said Synod in Considerable Posts. Published from the Original Manuscripts in Spanish, which were procured by the Right Honourable Sir William Trumbull's Grand-Father, Envoy at Brussels in the Reign of King James the First. With an Introductory Discourse concerning Councils, shewing how they were brought under Bondage to the Pope. By Michael Geddes, LLD. and Chancellor of the Cathedral Church of Sarum.

Twelve Sermons Preach'd on several Occasion. By Richard Lord Bishop of Bath and Wells. In 8vo.

A Seasonable Vindication of the B. Trinity. Being an Answer to this Question, Why do you believe the Doctrine of the Trinity? Collected from the Works of the Most Reve­rend Dr. John Tillotson, Late Lord Archbishop of Canter­bury. And the Right Reverend Dr. Edward Stillingfleet, Now Lord Bishop of Worcester. In 8vo.

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