TWO Assize SERMONS Preached at WINCHESTER.

THE FIRST Feb. 26. 1694. JAMES HUNT of Popham, Esq Being Sheriff of the County of Southampton.

THE SECOND July 14. 1686. CHARLES WITHER of Hall, Esq Being Sheriff, &c.

BY E. YOUNG, Fellow of Winchester-College, and Chaplain in Ordinary to His Majesty.

LONDON: Printed for Walter Kettilby, at the Bishop's Head in St. Paul's Church-Yard. M DC XCV.

TO JAMES HUNT, Esq

Dear Nephew,

THE Obligation was so natural for me to be Your Preacher, that my declining the Office would have look'd like want of Affection; and this was the Reason why I did not decline it, as otherwise I should have done, in re­gard of that great Indisposition of Body which has of late afflicted me. It is the Wisdom of those that are Well, but the Necessity of the Sick, to think upon Awful things; And at the time when You came to bespeak me for Your Service, a Thought of that sort was lying upon my mind, which I found apposite to determine my Subject: That Thought I pursued into the Sermon which I now Publish; and the more willingly, because part of its Matter seems to me to come too little into pub­lick Consideration; although there are not many Things we can consider, that are of greater mo­ment to Christian Living. Let me deal familiarly with You, and desire You to make Your self Judge [Page] in the case; Peruse this Sermon sometimes at a retired hour, and contemplate the naked Argu­ment, which is purely Scriptural (for I would not be interpreted to recommend any thing in it that is Mine,) and tell me whether You do not find it well conducing to the great End You aim at; which is (I know) to be a Good Man, and to finish those Commendable Respects which You bear to Your King, Church, and Country, with a just and proper Sense of God: To whose Blessing I heartily recommend You, and rest

Your Affectionate and Humble Servant
E. Young.

ERRATA.

PAge 17. line 13. for unto read us to. Pag. 28. l. II. for avoid r. void. P. 39. l. ult. for Importance r. Impertinence. P. 40. l. I. r. Inconsiderate.

SERMON I.

HEB. iv. 13.‘—But all things are naked and opened to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.’

AFter that the Law has provided against Ungodliness and Wrong never so wise­ly, and the Magistrate attended on its Execution never so Diligently; yet still Human Justice will find great Obstruction from the bare want of Evidence: Facts will be Obscure; and Circumstances Doubtful, and Allegations Presumptive, and Testimonies Inconsistent; so that the probably Guilty must often go un­punish'd, lest the possibly Innocent should suf­fer; which would be the greater Evil of the Two.

But my Text points at a Tribunal set above the reach of this Obstruction: a Tribunal where [Page 8] all the Matters of Cognisance are throughly Known, and the Proofs all ready for Convicti­on, and the Evidence as unexceptionable as the Justice.

And this is the very Scope of the Words: Wherein we have (1.) God set forth as the Judge, [...], with whom we have to do, so runs our Translation; but it is somewhat short of expressing the Original; which signifies more fully, To whom we are to give an Account: For [...] when it is applyed to Matters in Charge, signifies an Account: As when it is said to the Unjust Steward (Luke xvi. 2.) [...]; we render it Give an Account of thy Stewardship. So then We are to give an Account unto God: This is the First In­timation of the Text.

And then (2.) to intimate that This Account shall be Clearly taken, and the Judgment upon it lyable to no Exceptions for want of Evidence; It tells us, that To the Eyes of our Judge all things are Naked and Opened, [...] signifies that which has no Outward Co­vering, and [...] signifies that whose Inside may be look'd into: For it signifies prima­rily a Beast opened down the Chine; as it was the Manner of the Priests to Chine the Sacri­fice, [Page 9] and open it so that the state and found­ness of every Entrail might appear. And thus All things we do are so Manifest unto God, that they are not capable of any Covering; either from without by Secrecy or Collusion, or from within by Palliation or Denial.

The Words therefore are an Argument for a Circumspect and Upright Conversation, drawn both from the Omniscience, and the Justice of God; Because God Knows all things, and be­cause He will Judge all things. But I shall not now meddle with the Second Part of the Argu­ment, Gods Justice; I shall confine my self to the Consideration of his Omniscience: And in Treating of this, I shall not take in the whole Extent or the Attribute, (as whereby God knows the Nature, State, Qualities, Defects, Powers, and Possibilities of All Things, that either Are, or Can be) but I shall speak only to Those Things for which we stand Accountable; As the Scope of my Text prescribes me.

Now the things for which we stand Ac­countable are of three Kinds, (viz.) Actions, Words and Thoughts; For Each of These are capable of Moral Good and Evil, and as so they make up the matter of our Account. My Business therefore shall be,

  • [Page 10]I. To shew that God does Know Each of these Things: and then
  • II. To make some Reflections upon the Doctrine, that may farther conduce to Practice.

That God knows all our Actions, Words and Thoughts, the Scripture is every where Ex­press. And,

I. As to our Actions. Thou art about my path, and about my bed, and spiest out all my ways, says the Psalmist, Psal. cxxxix. 3. And lest we should interpret that this Inspection of God was Peculiar upon the Actions of that particular Man; Solomon tells us that the same Inspection is of Universal extent; Prov. xv. 3. For the eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good: whence it is Evident that God not only can Know, if he will, but likewise that he actually wills to Know all that we do. It is Profane to imagine that the Divine Nature is Incurious or Regardless: And accordingly it is observable that as Holy David calls it Brutishness to think in any Case that God does not Know what we do; Understand, O ye brutish among the people, he that formed the eye, shall not he see? So he calls it Blasphemy to think that God does not Regard what we do; How long shall the wicked blaspheme God, saying, thou God carest not for it?

[Page 11]II. As to our Words.There is not a word, in my tongue, but that thou knowest it altogether; says the Psalmist, Psal. cxxxix. 4. And to bring this Home to every ones case, The Author of the Book of Wisdom, Ch. i. 10. tell us, that Gods ear is the ear of jealousie; that is, an Ear not only Quick of hearing, but likewise always Intent to hear; so that when we sometimes speak that which either Shame or Fear will not suffer us to speak aloud, yet the Caution of Whispering will not conceal it from God: For (as that Au­thor goes on) The ear of jealousie heareth all things; and the noise of whisperings is not hid; and there is no word so secret, that it shall pass for nought.

III. As to our Thoughts, that is Inclusively, our Deliberations, Judgments, Choices, Wishes and Desires, the Searcher of hearts is acquainted with them All. So says Holy Job, Ch. xlii. 2. I know that no thought can be witholden from thee. But the Psalmist speaks yet Higher to the Point, and cries Psal. cxxxix. 1. Thou knowest my thoughts long before: Thou Knowest my Thoughts long Before; even Before they are Conceived. Nor does this Expression give any ground to Argue, that because God foreknows our Thoughts (as likewise he does our Actions) that therefore he does Predetermine and Ordain them; This would [Page 12] be clearly to acquit our selves, and to charge God with the Fault of our Miscarriages: And I doubt not but many would fain have the Charge run so, and therefore are Fond of this Opinion: But on the contrary, as God tempts no man (in the Words of S. James) so much less does he force or predetermine any one to Sin: No, He leaves us to our Liberty to Think either Better or Worse, and yet this notwithstanding he foreknows our Thoughts; Because, Having an Intimate Knowledge of the State of our Souls, of all the Affections, Passions, Springs, and Weights wherewith they are moved, he knows Infallibly how every possible Object, that presents it self will determine our Judgments and Choices, tho He himself does not Determine them at all. As the Man that sees the Setting of the Chimes, can tell several hours before what Tune they will Play, without any Positive Influ­ence either upon their Setting, or their Playing.

Thus the Scriptures represent the Omniscience of God. And farther, they offer us Two Espe­cial Considerations, whereby this Notion may be better cleared, and the Conviction of it made to set Firmer upon our Minds.

The First Consideration is that of Gods Pre­sence: the Second is that of his Power.

[Page 13]I. Gods Presence is that which we call an Omnipresence, that is an Universal Presence, In all places, and with all persons: And this the Au­thor of the Book of Wisdom makes his Argument for Gods Omniscience, Ch. i. 7. God (says he) is witness of the reins, and a true beholder of the heart, and a hearer of the tongue; For (this is the Proof of it, because) the spirit of the Lord filleth the world: that is, God Knows Every Thing, be­cause he Is Every Where. And the Psalmist as­serting the Omniscience of God at large, Psal. cxxxix. confirms his Argument, and in­culcates the Belief of the Doctrine with This Reflection, ver. 6. Whither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy Presence? If I climb up to heaven, thou art there; and if I go down to hell, thou art there also, &c.

Now this Consideration of the Omnipresence of God is useful and proper to prevent those Mistakes in our Opinion of Him, which we are wont to take up by Thinking of him Weakly, i. e. with Resemblance to our selves. For so, In Our First Thoughts, we are apt to Confine God to a Place, and to Limit him to a Distance in the Perception of Things; Because we our selves are so Limited and Confined. And so we are apt to imagine that a Constant Inspection and Ob­servation [Page 14] of all Men, and all their Actions would beget either Trouble or Weariness, or Distraction in God; because any Great Applica­tion does so in us. Most of the Great Men a­mong the Heathens were overtaken with these Prejudices. Whereas, on the Contrary, the Notion of Gods Being Every where Leads our Understanding to apprehend that it is as Easie for Him to observe Every Man, as One Man; and Every Action, as One Single Action of our Lives. Remember therefore that God is as near to our Mouth, when we Speak, as that Man is, that Leans his Ear to our Whispers: He is as near to our Actions, when we act in Secret, as they are whom we admit into our Confede­racy: He is as near to our Thoughts, when we Purpose, Wish, or Design any thing, as is Our own Soul that conceives them; and in Conse­quence he is as Familiarly acquainted with them.

The Second Consideration which the Scripture offers to inculcate the belief of God's Omnisci­ence, is that of his Power, viz. that Plastick Ope­rative Power, whereby he is the Fountain and Author of all our Beings: From which Topick the Psalmist thus argues: Psal. xciv. 9, 10. He that planted the ear, shall not he hear? He that formed the eye, shall not he see? He that teacheth [Page 15] man knowledge, shall not he know? The Argu­ment (You see) reaches each Particular of my Matter, Words, Deeds and Thoughts; and to shew the Strength of it, I shall consider it some­what more exactly. If we resolve it into a ge­neral Form of Reasoning, it may run thus; All our Faculties of Knowing, all our Organs and Instruments of Information we have from God, and can we think then that God wants any for his Own Use? All of us are his Creatures, and can we think he has made any Creature of such a Capacity as to act any thing beside his Pri­vity, or beyond his Comprehension? This would be a Weak, and (as the Psalmist calls it) a Brutish Imagination. But to come to the par­ticular Instances.

God hath planted the Ear, and Formed the Eye: And yet when all is done, 'Tis neither our Ear that hears, nor our Eye that sees; but 'tis our Spirit that hears and sees through these, as its proper Instruments. 'Tis our Spirit therefore only that has the Power of Hearing and Seeing: And tho Our Spirits are limited to the Use and Assistance of such Instruments, we must not therefore imagine but that Spirits of a Su­perior Order can perform all Their Perceptions without Them. To think otherwise would be [Page 16] as Absurd, as if a Man of Weak Eyes should argue that it is Impossible for Any Eye to see without a Glass. When therefore God or An­gels are said to have Ears or Eyes, 'tis only in Accommodation to our Mode of Thinking; For when we come to Reason upon the Subject we must acknowledge that it is Part of their Per­fection to need no such Helps.

Whereas therefore, First, We account that the Sense of Hearing is Limited to a Respective Distance; And this Thought makes us Bold to whisper that, which we dare not Speak aloud; However we account of our Own Hearing, we ought not to esteem That of Others to be so Limited. Nay when we find by Experience that the Softest Whisper, when conveyed by a Smooth or Hollow Surface, will reach our Ear distinctly, though at a great distance from the Speaker; We have so little reason to doubt whether God hears our Whispers, that we may be sure (on the other hand) he can command a small Ring of Air to carry our Whispers to the End of the Earth, and make them heard by whoever else he pleases. And by This very Means the Prophet Elisha might hear what was spoken in the King of Assyria's Bed-Chamber, 2 Kings vi. 12. as well as by the Intercourse or Mini­stry of an Angel.

[Page 17]II. Though Our act of Seeing be confin'd to the Assistance of Outward Light; we must not conclude That of Others is so: If I say, per adven­ture darkness shall cover me, then shall my night be turned into day: the darkness is no darkness with thee; the light and darkness to thee are both alike: says the Psalmist. Nay, we may learn from the most Contemptible Creatures, that Outward Light is not Necessary to Seeing; For the Batt and the Owl can See without it: And perhaps Providence designed these Contemptible Creatures to teach us the Lesson, that Darkness is no Covering; and to provoke unto Jealousie and Apprehension that Thousands may see our Retired Actions, whom we see not, and therefore foolishly are not Aware of them: Good Spirits can see us and lament, and Evil Spirits can see us and re­joyce at the Issues of our sin and folly.

III. It is God that teacheth man knowledge, shall not he know? We allow that God gives us the whole Faculty and Power of Knowing; And, if so, to think that we can know any thing in our selves, which God does not Know, is a Con­tradiction; for it implies that we have power to Know something without God.

The most awful Faculty that God has given us, and that which lies most under our present [Page 18] Consideration is that of Knowing or Remem­bring what we have done, together with the Con­sciousness of that Good or Evil that is in it: Now let us consider how this Faculty performs its Office: How come we to Know at any time what we have Spoken, Done, or Thought, af­ter once those Acts of Speaking, Doing, or Thinking are past? Is it not by seeing the Images or Impressions which those several Acts do pro­duce within us? Do we not by seeking find such Images of things, which we have Spoken, Done, or Thought of several years before? Nay do not those Images frequently present themselves without our seeking, and make us see them whether we will or no? Which is a Proof that they have a Real Being and Lasting Subsistence within us, and are wholly Indepen­dent on our Will; for we cannot extinguish or erase any of them at our Pleasure; we cannot do it, would we never so fain. We may con­clude therefore, that whatsoever we either Speak or Do, Purpose, Wish, or Design, so far as these Acts are of a Moral Concern, and bear Relation to Virtue or Vice, they leave the No­tices of themselves upon our Consciences, im­printed there in Characters Fair and Intelligible, nay I may add, Indelible too: For though it must [Page 19] be allowed that we Forget many things which we have been Conscious of; yet in that Case, the Notices of such things are not Erased or Ex­tinguished, they are only Covered over. There is no Forgetfulness in a Spirit; Its Forgetfulness is only Accidental, and occasioned by the Im­pediments of the Flesh: As we may observe that sometimes a Man of a Faithful Memory, will by the Disorder of a Sickness grow Deli­rous, and forget all that ever he Knew; and yet upon the Removal of his Disease, all his former Notices will appear Fresh again. And how Reasonable is it to believe that our Souls, whether in the State of Separation from the Body, or of Re-union to the Body when Defecated and made free from Ob­structions (so far as All Bodies even of the Un­just shall be at the Resurrection) I say, how Reasonable is it to believe, that our Souls shall Then have a Clear View and perfect Remem­brance of all that we have done; Though Now most of those Notices lie in us like the Inscripti­ons of a Marble covered over with Dust and Rubbish.

Now if Conscience be thus like a Written Book, and Faithful Register of our Behaviour, there is no room to doubt but God can read that Book, [Page 20] as well as we: Nay, He can Read through all those Impediments that Shade it, which we can­not: Nay he can, when he pleases, make this Book Legible to all Others, as much as it is to our selves. For He can so far Elevate the Understand­ings of all Men, or Open their Eyes (in that Sense that he is said to have opened the eyes of Elisha's servant, that he might see the host of An­gels: 2 Kings vi. 14.) I say, God can open the Eyes of all Men to such a Spiritual Intuition, as that All shall be able, at a short glance, to Read each others History (imprinted on their Consci­ences in Intelligible Signatures) as familiarly as if it were graven on their foreheads, or printed in a Book. And thus we may probably Conceive that those Books mentioned by the Prophet Da­niel, Ch. vii. 10. and by S. John in his Revela­tion, Ch. xx. 12. Books that are to be opened in order to the Universal Judgment, are no other than that Volume of things Recorded in every Mans Conscience; which being opened and ex­posed to View, shall make (as it were) a Tally or Counterpart to that Memorial which God himself Keeps of all we do.

Having said thus much for the Stating or Ex­plication of Gods Omniscience, I shall now pro­ceed to make some Reflections upon the Do­ctrine, [Page 21] that may farther conduce to Practice.

God Almighty has planted Two Passions in our Souls; whose most proper Use is to deter us from sin; and they are Shame and Fear: The Object of Fear is Punishment, and the Object of Shame is Discovery: and his Omniscience does import both these Consequences to sin (viz.) that it shall be discovered, and that it shall be punish'd: For Gods Omniscience does not termi­nate in bare Knowing; he Sees and Knows in order to farther Acts of Justice; so he tells, Jer. xvii. 19. I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doing. I shall not now extend my Reflections so far as the Punishment of sin (though that be of the most moving Importance) I shall insist only up­on the Discovery of it; and shew what Shame is threatned to it from Gods Omniscience. In or­der hereto, my first Inference from the Doctrine shall be This (viz.) That no sin can be Secret; (absolutely speaking, no sin can be so.)

Now did this Notion sit so close upon our minds as it ought to do, it would necessarily be of great advantage to the Cause of Virtue; be­cause nothing gives more occasion to sin in the world, than the contrary Expectation, and hopes [Page 22] of Secrecy. For even after a Man has devested his Soul of Probity, he cannot so easily devest it of Shame; and therefore when he has never so strong an Inclination to sin, yet still he will start at the apprehension of being discovered; and be still willing to retain that Reputation, which is the Shadow of Virtue, though he has been so hardy as to shake hands with the substance. How many Calumnies, Dissimulations, Frauds and Falshoods; how many of all Kinds of sinful acts (wherein there is any acknowledged Baseness and Turpitude) would be absolutely prevented; if so be the Actors, when they began to medi­tate the doing of these things, were throughly persuaded that they would come to light, and be made known, and so expose them to pub­lick Reproach? Now, is not that sin sufficiently known, of which we acknowledge that God does know it? And is not the knowledge of God sufficiently Awful, since He is most of all affront­ed by our Guilt? And how comes it to pass then that our Shame is so Jealous and Quick in regard of Men, but so remiss and languishing in regard of God? How come we to be able to blush at the ap­prehension of a Man seeing us; When yet the Con­sideration that God sees us, that the most Just sees our Iniquities, that the most Holy sees our Filthi­ness, [Page 23] that the most Loving sees our Unthankfulness, when this Consideration is not able to move the Passion or provoke a blush? For we must ac­knowledge that this is the common State of that Passion in us; so partial and unreasonable is our Shame; It acts as if Men alone had the Custo­dy of our Credit, and Gods Estimation were of no Importance to it.

The best Reason that can be given for such an Unreasonable behaviour, can be no other than a Bad one; but I take the Best to be this, (viz.)

We presume all Men to be subject in some measure to such Passions, as would tempt them (should they be acquainted with our sins) to be severe upon us, to insult over us, and to pub­lish our Reproach; and therefore we dare not trust our Secret, and consequently our Reputa­tion with Men: But, on the other hand, we look upon God as purely Merciful; and at the same time we look upon it as an Office of Mer­cy to Cover sins: So that although God knows our sins, yet we imagine he alone shall know them; For, by some method of Repentance which we propose to our selves, we hope to attone Gods displeasure; and so to have our sins both forgiven and covered, and our selves secured both from punishment and scandal too. But for [Page 24] Correction of this Mistake (for so it is) I shall draw my Inference one Step farther, and argue from the Omniscience of God:

II. That All sin shall be brought to an Univer­sal and publick Discovery: so that it is but despe­rate hope for any Man to think he shall escape the Shame that is due unto his Guilt.

That Gods Omniscience carries in it the Power of such a Discovery is no Dispute; the Questi­on is, Whether he actually will make such a Dis­covery? And let us fairly consult Scripture and Reason, what we ought to believe concerning this.

The Apostle tells us (Rom. ii. 16.) that, In that day God shall judge the secrets of all men: and to signifie that the Judging of Secrets implies the Revealing of Secrets, he tells us again (1 Cor. iv. 5.) that in order to Judgment, He will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make mani­fest the Counsels of the heart. Again he tells us (1 Tim. iii. ult.) that of the actions of Men (both Good and Evil) Some are manifest in this life; and what are Otherwise cannot be hid. And what can be more Express than that of our Saviour (S. Luke viii. 17.) Nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be known, and come abroad: Which words (as they are not capable of any adequate Com­pletion [Page 25] till the day of Judgment, so) the Anti­ents interpret them purely to respect the Process of That Day. Now the Importance of all these Texts is clearly this; That God will make a Discovery of all human Actions in order to his Judicial Sentence, whether of Absolution, or Con­demnation.

All that Reason can have to alledge against This, must (as I have intimated already) be founded on this supposition, That it is an Office of Mercy to Cover sins: as indeed the Scripture frequently expresses it to be. And so undoubtedly it is, During this Life; Where, if all sins were Discovered, many Men would be impeded in their Repentance, and many cut off from the opportunity of Repenting: And, besides, the World would only be so much the worse for the Example; For sin would only grow more In­solent and Shameless, by reason of the more ap­parent number of its Party. But hereafter the Case will be quite otherwise: There Repentance will have no Opportunity to lose; nor Ill Ex­ample be able to do harm any longer: And when God passes Sentence upon the Lives of Men, his Mercy will be as much exalted by the Discovery of those sins he shall pardon; as his Justice will be Cleared by the Discovery of those he shall punish.

[Page 26]I know the main strength of the mentioned Objection must be borrowed from those places of Scripture, where the Terms of Blotting out; and Covering sins, are applied to God as a pro­per act of his Mercy. It is holy David's Prayer; Lord, Blot out all mine Iniquities: and so he pro­nounces them Blest, whose sins are Covered: And God himself says in the Prophet (Is. xliii. 25.) I even I am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins. But now, to know the proper Meaning of these Expressions, let us begin with the Last of them, wherein God says, I will not Remember thy sins: Now it is certain that this Phrase of Gods not Remembring cannot be taken literally; because it is impossible for God to Forget; But the Meaning is, that He will not Remember so, as to punish: And so, in like manner, by Blotting out and Covering is not meant literally the Concealing of sins, but only the Abolishing of their Condemning power. And this we may evidently confirm from the Instance of David himself, in that ve­ry place where he uses these Expressions: 'Tis Psalm li. 9. where he cries, Hide thy face from my sins, O Lord, and Blot out all my misdeeds: But here his Petition is so far from meaning the Con­cealment of his sins from the Knowledge of the [Page 27] World, that he was then actually proclaiming them, and registring them in a Form of Con­fession, which he intended not only for the Ex­ercise of his Own Repentance, but likewise for the Conduct of all Others: so that we cannot in­terpret him to have deprecated the Notoriety of his sins, but merely the Wrath of God, where­by he might justly have been Condemned for them.

We may therefore look upon it as one Cer­tain Consequence from the Omniscience of God, that all human Actions shall be exposed to pub­lick View and Censure; That a Light shall be struck into all the Works of Darkness, through all the Recesses of Subtlety, through all the Dis­guises of Hypocrisie: That then the Masque shall be pull'd off from all dissembled Virtues, and every Vice shall appear in its proper Colour, and every Secret Injury shall proclaim its Author: That there shall be no summary Absolutions, no Pardons in Gross without Enquiry into the Retail, as the slight Repentances of Men do seem to require; but that Repentances shall be weighed as well as Sins; and Mercy dispensed upon Rational Terms, and the Pardon of Sin­ners justified by the Measures of their Contrition.

[Page 28]If this Reflection can work in us any more a­bundant Shame for what we have done amiss, it has its proper and wholesome Effect upon us. It is the hope of being Undiscovered that makes the Sinner walk haughtily; and (on the contra­ry) the Belief of a Certain Discovery ought in all Reason to render us more Abject and Vile in our own Eyes; which is the first step to True Re­pentance. Shame thus Taken upon our selves is the only Expedient the Sinner has to prevent the Future: Penitential shame will avoid the Judi­cial, and break that Blow that will otherwise strike us with Unknown Confusion. For be assured That Shame for Sin is a Natural Debt; and it must be paid at one time or other; and we can escape it no more than we can escape Death.

Indeed there are some Men who seem to be Proof against the Influence of this Reflection; I mean such as are arriv'd to sin boldly and open­ly; who as they seek no Covering, so they seem to fear no Discovery, but bid Defiance to Shame. In respect of such I shall add One Reflection more, (viz.) That

Although the Knowledge of Men may not have the power of working Shame in a hardy Sinner; yet the Omniscience of God, when it [Page 29] comes to manifest it self, shall bring even the Shameless to Shame; and make it appear that, As Shame for sin can be escaped no more than Death, so it can be defy'd no more than Hell.

To open the Truth of this Assertion; Let us but consider, How it comes to pass that since sin is naturally Shameful (as being a Baffle to Man's Reason, as well as a Blow to his Consci­ence) I say, since sin is naturally Shameful, how comes it to pass that Men can sin and yet not be ashamed.

Now this Effect may follow from Three Causes, (1.) From Corrupt Notions. (2.) From Common Guilt: and (3.) From Impudence of Temper.

I. Shamelesness in sin may proceed from Cor­rupt Notions. For so it is, The World has past its Verdict, and Christians to their Scandal are led by the Anticipation, That there are some sins that have nothing shameful in them. 'Tis al­lowed perhaps that Fraud and Lying, and Ingra­titude, and Perfidiousness (and the like) are of a Nature marked with Infamy; But then to be a Witty Scoffer, to be a brisk Revenger, to be stout in Intemperance, and the like, are no other then fa­shionable Commendations; and why then should any be ashamed for these? Now this is a Dream that [Page 30] may hold till the World be better awakened; but when all Actions shall be brought to their true Standard, as it will then appear, that to serve God is Mans greatest Honour; so it will appear, that there is Shame in every thing whereby we do offend him: And that those sins which Men boast of in the doing, are as Unworthy and Inglo­rious, as those which they acknowledge are not fit to bear the Light.

II. Common Guilt may make Men sin without Shame. For even in those sins, which the World owns for Shameful, Partnership will be able to carry off the Shame: Thus a Thief will not be ashamed to be surpriz'd by a Thief, nor an Adulterer by an Adulterer; though a Man of an Awful Character would produce a Blush from such a one at the surprize: And therefore we may Observe, that they who give themselves up to any Vice, do generally withal give them­selves up to Calumniating, i. e. they take pleasure to represent, or to suppose all others as bad as themselves: And all is for this very purpose, That they may beat down the Reverence that is due to any Good Example, and so contemn the Censures of all Men alike. But this is a Me­thod that cannot take place when God comes to make the Discovery; For as his Holiness is be­yond [Page 31] the Reach of Calumny; as none shall be able to say of God, that He is either Unrighteous, or Friend to those that are so; so his Awful Cen­sure will not fail to reduce every Guilty mind to its proper Acknowledgments.

But, III. That which consummates the Evil is Impudence of Temper: such as the Prophet Je­remy laments in the people of Israel, after that Affluence and Luxury had brought them to a great height of wickedness (Ch. vi. 15.) Were they Ashamed, when they had committed Abomina­tion? Nay they were not ashamed at all, neither could they blush.

Now this Impudence is a Temper contracted by Industrious Iniquity, and raised upon the Ruins of Reason: It can be no otherwise; be­cause Shame for sin is so Connatural to Reason, that it cannot be extinguish'd but with Reason it self. Which we may contemplate in the In­stance of Fools and Madmen; the only Cause­why they are not ashamed, being this, that they want Reason to reflect upon the Turpitude of what they do. And 'tis certain that whoso­ever grows Impudent, he so far keeps Reason a Prisoner, suffers it not to act, holds it in servi­tude to his Lusts, and so sets his Soul in the nearest approach unto Brutality.

[Page 32]But this is a State that will not always last: For when God comes to do Right to his Crea­tures, Reason shall be asserted to its Liberty of acting; and then Shame shall be let loose to de­mand all its Arrears: It shall be let loose like an Armed Man; and undoubtedly it shall act then with the same Force upon all Bold Transgres­sours, that it does now sometimes upon those Un­happy Souls that makes themselves away to avoid its Lashes: For as these flee from Life (though the greatest Blessing they have) so they then shall flee from God with the same Confusion; And being not able to bear the Terrour of his Maje­sty, shall voluntarily betake themselves to any place that is abandoned by Him, and that is sim­ply Hell. So that the Impudent Sinner seems not to need any Compulsion to settle him in the place of Torment, but that of his Own Shame: That will be his [...] his proper, his natural place; To Which (we know) all things move of their own accord. And no less is intimated concerning Judas, according to our Common Version of that passage (Acts i. 25.) where 'tis said that Judas by transgression fell from his part in the Apostleship, that he might go to his Own place; [...] his Own, his Proper place: Imply­ing that Judas's shame sunk him down to Hell, [Page 33] as naturally as weight sinks a Stone down towards the Center.

These Reflections upon Gods Omniscience are such as seem proper to make the Consideration of it Useful to us. And as for the Conduct of our particular Practice, the best of all Rules may be borrowed from Holy David's Example, Psal. xvi. 9. where he says I have set God always be­fore me: So let us: God is always By us, let us set him always before us; His Eyes are always upon Us, let Ours be likewise proportionably upon Him: Let us keep our minds in a Lively Sense of the Venerableness of his Presence, and the Awfulness of his Inspection; And this is the best Method to guard us from treating that Inspection irreverently, and to keep us ten­der of doing any thing unsuitable to such a Presence.

Come see the man that told me all that ever I did, cries the Woman of Samaria, after her Conver­sation with our Saviour at Jacob's Well: Think a little upon that Conversation, or upon such a possible one with thy self: Think what Com­motions, what Strugling of several Passions started up in that Womans Breast, so soon as she found One, whom she look'd upon as a pure Stranger to her, to break in upon all her Secrets: [Page 34] The same shall one day be every ones Case; The same Jesus (though in more awful Circumstan­ces) shall tell every one of us all that ever we did: And say then where lies our Wisdom but in a Constant Endeavour to do that that will bear the Telling? Happy are they that pursue this En­deavour! Almighty God assist us all to do so by his Merciful Grace!

To whom be Glory and Thanksgiving for ever and ever.

Amen.

AN Assize SERMON Preached at WINCHESTER, July 14. 1686. CHARLES WITHER of Hall, Esq Being Sheriff, &c.

TO CHARLES WITHER, Esq

SIR,

MY publishing the foregoing Sermon puts me in mind of a Debt of the same Kind to Your self, which I shall dis­charge by publishing that which follows. Why it was not publish'd when first de­sired, the Sermon it self will speak my Apology. I there represent Good King Jehosaphat giving such Counsel to His Judges, as was not given to the Judges of this Realm in the Year 1686. &c. And although, preaching upon such an Occasion, I thought it no less than my Duty to Speak what I did; yet to Print it (which was beyond my Duty) would have been no other than an Officious Im­prudence. [Page 38] The Printing it Now gives me a Fresh Admonition to be Thankful to God for the wonderful Providence whereby we were delivered from those fearful apprehensions which possest us at that Time; and whereby we are settled in such a state of Happiness and Freedom, that any One may say what is Consonant to Law and Justice, without fear of Thwart­ing the Measures of the Government; or hazard of being brought under Censure for it. And Your self may now Safely (which then you could not) espouse the Dedicati­on, as a Testimony of my Respect, who am

Sir, Your Affectionate and humble Servant,
E. Young.

SERMON II.

2 CHRON. xix. 6.‘Take heed what ye do, for ye judge not for men, but for the Lord.’

THE Heathens themselves did never set about any Solemn Business, but they began with Religious Offices: And Hierocles (one of them) gives us account of the Notion on which this their Piety was grounded; He says, They pray'd to the Gods, before they set a­bout their Business, for Two Reasons (1.) That they might procure the Divine Assistance in what they went about, and (2.) That in Contemplation of that Assistance, they might act Soberly and in such a manner as to do nothing Unworthy of it. The Rea­sons are as Enforcing, as the Example is Com­mendable; and I hope there is no Soul in this Assembly so Loose as not to be suitably affected with Both: I hope none here is so Profane as to account Going to Church the Great Importance of a [Page 40] Circuit; or so Inconsiderable as to think that the Administration of Justice is a Business of such a Nature as may be done well enough without particular Regard to Gods Assistance: Let a Man but weigh the Words now read unto you, he shall find Reason in them sufficient to con­fute any such Apprehension.

They are the Words of King Jehosaphat, of whom the former Verse tells us, That He set Judges in the land throughout all the Cities of Judah: and in this Verse, He is brought in as giving In­struction and Caution to those Judges in this Form, Take heed what ye do, for ye judge not for men, but for the Lord.

For the Explication of which Words I shall use no other Method than the making of this Paraphrase upon them in the Person of the King: ‘Ye Men (and Now, ye Principal Men) of Judah! I have advanc'd You to the Ma­gistracy, and made You the Guardians of Peace and Justice; It is become Your Pro­vince to give Life to the Laws, to redress the Injur'd, to check the Insolent, and to bound the Unruly: Power and Honour always at­tend Your Persons, and Submission waits on Your Decrees: But this notwithstanding, let me advise You, Be not over-much Pleased with Your Station, but rather Take heed, Con­sider [Page 41] and be afraid: For Magistracy does not only advance, it likewises Indicates and Tries; Your Honour is ballanc'd with Duty, and Your Power is clog'd with Temptation; Please not Your selves therefore in thinking that I have confer'd on You the Power to do Great things, but rather Take heed what ye do: For You cannot but be tempted to do Amiss; You will find Your Integrity assaulted through Every Passion. Among those Persons over whose Causes You will Preside, some are Great, and they may possibly byass You by Your Fear; some are Bountiful, and they will not fail to bait Your Desire; some are Insinuating, and they may chance to warp You by Affection; But Take heed, and remember that Ye Judge not for Men. I my self, Your King, what a Temptation must I needs be to You? You can­not but reflect in all Your Transactions, that You are Mine by Original Duty, Mine by present Obligation, Mine by all Future Ex­pectances; and what Prudence then can hin­der You from concluding that My Pleasure ought to be Your Supreme Rule? But re­member that You Judge not even for Me: For though I can communicate that Power to You, which I have received from God; yet I can­not prescribe any other Ends and Uses of that [Page 42] Power, than what God himself has prescribed both to You and Me; I can give You Autho­rity to Judge, but God has fix'd the Mark and Scope of Your Judgment in the In­dispensable Measures of Right and Truth: Remember therefore that You Judge for the Lord; It is Gods Business that Your Chara­cter engages You in; 'Tis His Cause You have now undertaken.’

To this Effect that Good and Wise King cau­tioned his Judges: and it well became Him; but I am aware that to the Manners of Other Men there must be Other Measures; and for such a One as I am, to pursue the same Ad­vice to Persons of that Conspicuous Order were too great an Indecency.

I shall therefore choose to extend the Concern of the Advice to All that either do, or may any way Relate to Publick Justice.

And the Words will very well bear that Ex­tension; When we consider that in the Transa­ctions of Judicature, many may be said to Judge in Effect, besides him who pronounces the Last Sentence: For as in a Clock, though the Hand only indicates the Point of Time; yet the Weight and Spring, and every subordinate Wheel influen­ces the Motion to that Point which the Hand does Indicate: so in the Administration of Ju­stice, [Page 43] they that Inform and Testifie; They that Inquire and Report, they that Colour and Repre­sent what is alledged, do all judge in Effect, i. e. They have all a necessary Influence upon the Issue; and the Sentence of the Judge is no more than the Index of a Judgment, which Remoter Agents do move and direct to.

To All therefore that either do, or may Relate to Judgment; The Words offer these two Pro­positions:

  • I. That the Judgment is for the Lord: and
  • II. That This Consideration is of great Impor­tance to make Men act as they ought to do in that Affair. Take heed, &c.

I. The Judgment is for the Lord: By Judg­ment I mean (suitably to the Notion of the Text) that Business which this Honourable Assembly is by and by proceeding upon; (viz.) The Admi­nistration of Justice in all its Acts and Offices, whether Punitive, Coercive, or Decisive: Con­cerning which Judgment the Vulgar Opinion is, that it is indeed the Great Civil Affair, the Prime and most important Business of the Govern­ment; And this Opinion is True, but it is Short; For my Text alledges that this Judgment is moreover a Religious Affair, and the very Business of God: Ye Judge for the Lord: And the Truth of [Page 44] this Assertion I shall clear to you in these Four Positions; Each of them bringing in a several In­stance for the Proof of it; (viz.)

  • I. That the Power of Judgment is Gods Right.
  • II. That the Matter of Judgment is Gods Cause.
  • III. That the Issue of Judgment is Gods End: and
  • IV. That the Formal Judgment, that is, The Sentence of Judgment is Gods Sentence.

The first Position is this, that the Power of Judgment is Gods Right.

None may doubt but that every Supreme Ma­gistrate is vested with a proper Judicial Power; which Power He may either Exercise Himself, or else Delegate it to any Others whom he shall think Fit for the Exercise of it: But this I as­sert; That no Supreme Magistrate can pretend to the Right of this Judicial Power from any Human Title, or manner of Acquisition: It is a Prerogative above any Station or Character that One Man can advance Another unto; And Every one that has it, has it derived to him from God, in as real a Sense, as he can be said to de­rive it to any Inferiour and Deputed Minister or Judge.

[Page 45]Our Saviour has told us what we are to be­lieve in this Matter, from his Own Case: Who upon the Insinuation of Pilat, the Roman Judge, that He was One who had Power either to Condemn, or to Release him, makes this Reply; I know thou couldst have no power over me, unless it were given thee from above: [...], (not from Rome, but) from Heaven; from Cesar indeed Immedi­ately, but Fontally and Originally from God.

And so Sacred a thing is the Exercise of this Power, that not only Princes themselves, but even their Deputed Ministers of Justice are there­fore honoured in the Scripture with the Style of Gods; as sustaining Gods Person in Judgment, and acting in His Right.

The Evidence that the Holy Scripture brings in to this Assertion is Abundant: And He whose Curiosity seeks for Conviction of another kind, let him Consider this Instance: (viz.) The Ma­gistrate Bears the Sword (as S. Paul expresses it) which is the Ensign of the Judicial Power, and imports a Jurisdiction extending over Life; and he Bears it not in vain (says the same Apostle) that is, He has Right to use it: But now, let any one Consider by what possible Human Right the Magistrate can acquire a Jurisdiction that extends Over Life: For no Man has this Right [Page 46] in Himself; no Man has Power over his Own Life; and How then can any confer it on A­nother?

I know any Man may forfeit his Life by his Crimes; but when he has so done, no Other Man can take that Forfeiture, without Gods Claim: And therefore after a Man has deserved to Die never so Justly, it is not Lawful for him to Ex­ecute that Judgment upon himself; Nor yet can he, by his Own Act, render it Lawful for any Other to execute It upon him; And therefore the Magistrate, which bears the Sword for that purpose, and has the Only Right of Executing this Judgment, is for that very Reason call'd by S. Paul, in the same place, [...], the Mi­nister of God, as Invested with Gods Authority, and acting in His Right; who as he is the only Author, so (therefore) He is the only Lord of Life.

II. The Matter of Judgment is Gods Cause; I call the Matter of Judgment such Matters and Cases as properly fall under Judicial Cognisance: And they (for the greatest part) are such as are Intrinsically Moral, involving Good or Evil in their Own Nature: such as are all the Concerns of Truth, Right, Equity, Mercy; and all the Contrary Violations that proceed from Maiice, [Page 47] Falshood or Unfaithfulness. Now All these are properly Gods Cause; For they were the Matters of His Law before they were of Man's; and Hu­man Laws in Respect of those are only the Transcripts of that which is Divine and Eter­nal: And that is the Reason why the Just Deter­mination of all such Cases (which is the Exe­cuting of True and Righteous Judgment) is said in the Holy Scripture to be the Direct and Pro­per Service of God, and is required of Magi­strates under that Notion. And this is the Reason why the Heathens, though they knew not the True God, were yet interpreted to honour and serve the True God by the Offices of Justice and Judgment: For so the Fathers doubt not to assert that God prospered even Ido­latrous Nations for this Reason; and particularly that the Romans extended their Empire to that height of glory by Gods blessing upon their Eminent Justice. For as the Author of the Book of Wisdom argues (on the other hand) concern­ing Perjury in those Idolaters; that when they swore falsly, though it were by False Gods, yet they were punished by the True, because the sin was against Him: (Meaning that every Deviation from the Natural Law, or the Dictates of our Consciences, is a sin against that God that planted [Page 48] these Dictates in us, in order to this that they should be our Law:) So likewise (on the con­trary) so long as those Idolaters did observe these Natural Dictates, and assert and maintain them in their Publick Judgments, they pleased and served the True God (though to them Un­known) and were accordingly prospered and blessed by him for it.

It is no Doubt but that in Cases where the Matter under Determination appertains to Na­tural Right, the Cause is Gods, and an Equi­table Determination of them is His Proper Ser­vice: But we must allow that there are many Cases of Judicial Cognisance, whose Matters are not of Natural, but only of Positive Right; which happens as often as Laws are enacted a­bout things that are in their Own Nature In­different. Now it is certain, these Matters do not Directly belong to Gods Cause; and yet they do Consequentially; Because Indifferent things do generally carry in them the Advantages and Encouragements of Necessary Things; And, whether they do or no, God will have our Obedience approved in Indifferent Things as well as Necessary. We conclude therefore that Moral Things (which are most commonly the Matter of Human Laws) are Gods Cause [Page 49] by Antecedent Relation; and that Indifferent things when they once are made Matter of Human Laws, do then become Gods Cause by Espousal: And therefore it is that Both are charged upon the Consciences of Men by the Apostle; and Both are to be observed for the sake of God; Or in Case they are not observed, the Animadversion upon those that do not observe them, is no less than a Judgment executed in Gods Behalf.

III. The Issue of Judgment is Gods End. The Political End of Judgment is the Maintenance of the Laws, the securing of Rights, the en­couragement of Industry, and the establishing of Peace; in which consists that Political Happiness that Every Government aims at: But God has a Greater End in it than All this, and that is the making of Men Internally Good and Virtuous, and lay­ing in them the Foundation of a Future Happiness, a Happiness that will last when all the Polities of the World are past off the Stage and expired.

So that we ought to look upon Judgment as a Part of Gods Providence, whereby he governs the World to his most holy Purposes. For as we all acknowledge that God has a Pro­vidence whereby he does govern the World; so if we enquire into the Nature and End of that Providence, we shall find it to be no other than a series of several Methods to make Men Good; to [Page 50] which End this of Human Judgment is con­ducing in the most Eminent manner. For no doubt but Judgment is the greatest possible Ex­ternal Bond of Human Virtue; and the most effectual Check of disorderly Passions: It guards Men from doing Ill by a Wholsome Fear; and those that have done Ill, it brings to Repentance by Suffering: Insomuch that in the Scripture it is recommended as the great Disposition to Christi­anity, and the great Preparatory to the salvation of God: For the Prophet Isaiah speaking of the Coming of our Saviour, and explaining as it were that future Message of John the Baptist; Prepare ye the way of the Lord, he does it in these Words, Isaiah lvi. 1. thus saith the Lord, keep ye judgment and do justice, for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed. And to the same sense is that Passage Psalm xcvii. where after it has been said (verse 1.) The Lord reigneth, the earth may be glad thereof; it follows (verse 2.) justice and judgment are the establishment of his throne; As if, according to the Ordinary nature of Things, God could not Reign, where the Government did not assert him: He may in Com­passion hover over a People; but he can never pitch his Tent and Dwell amongst them, unless the Magistrate fix him a Throne, by looking to that [Page 51] Point, which S. Paul therefore calls the very End of Magistracy, viz. To be a terrour to evil doers and a Praise to them that do well.

Thus God has put into the hands of the Magi­strate not only a Godlike Power, but likewise the Power of a Godlike Retaliation; For as He makes them Govern; so they may (and who questions but that they ought to) make Him Govern Reci­procally.

I know indeed that God has had a Church in the World (and that the most glorious Church that ever was in the World) without the Assi­stance of Magistrates: But that was in an Age of Visible Miracles, and at a time when the World and the Church stood notoriously distinguish'd; and while those that were of the Church were kept so Humble by Persecution, and Mortify'd by Poverty, and Sober by the Daily Expectation of Death, that they needed no Other Laws to re­strain their Appetites: But now that the World it self is come into the Church, and Men can maintain their Temporal Hopes and Passions, and their Christian Profession together, it is im­possible but that the Tares of Common Cor­ruption should choak and wast the Good seed, un­less the Magistrate step in to weed and to pluck up, and assist in the Cultivation of the Field.

[Page 52]IV. The Formal Judgment, i. e. the Sen­tence of Judgment, is Gods Sentence. For says the Psalmist, God is judge himself, Psal. 1. 6. And though Delegated Powers act for him at present, and pass the Sentence; yet he Recog­nizes and Imputes that Sentence, and takes it into his Own Account. We are aware that God has appointed a Day in the which he will Judge the World in Righteousness; And the Rule of Pro­ceeding in that Day (as the Holy Scripture a­vouches) shall be this, viz. Men shall Reap as they Sow; and He that hath done Wrong, shall receive for the Wrong that he hath done: Now the very same being the Rule of all Human Judicature, we ought to look upon every Judicial Sessions here to be no other than a Particular Dispatch of Bu­siness, subordinate and preparatory to the Univer­sal Judgment. Thus when wrong is Recompen­sed by Human Judgment, the Judgment of God is so far Prevented. If indeed the Sen­tence it self happen to be Wrong and Injurious, then (in the Psalmist's Style) The poor committeth himself to God, that he may take the matter into his own hands: Thus, I say, it happens should the Sentence of Judgment be in it self Wrong and Injurious; But both the Law, and Good Man­ners look upon this as the Supposition of an [Page 53] Impossible thing (Turpe est Impossibile, says the Rule of Law) and therefore without farther supposing it, I shall form This Conclusion, viz. That Every Sentence of Human Judgment is Ingredient to the Retribution of the Great Day; and that All that Men suffer here for their Crimes (if they suffer it with a just sense of their Crimes) shall then be imputed to such a Measure of their Purgation; and All the Impunity that Guilt meets with here, shall be reckon'd for in the Sentence that shall then be passed. I say not, that a Man may work out his Future Absolution by any satisfacti­ons that he can make here to Publick Justice; or that he cannot be Absolved in the Future with­out such satisfactions here paid: Blessed be the Love of Christ, whose Satisfactions are All­sufficient! But this I say, that since God has made True Repentance a necessary Condition, without which none can lay hold on that Satisfaction which Christ has made; and no Repentance is True that does not engage a Man to make what Satisfaction he is able himself, both to Men by Compensation for Injuries, and to God by Sor­row for Guilt; And since Men left to their Own Discretion, are usually so Indulgent to them­selves as not to reach the Measures of such a Re­pentance, but to take up with that which is [Page 54] slight and deceiving; upon this Consideration I say, Kind and Friendly is the Force of Publick Justice that does oftentimes terrifie and compel Men to Repent: Happy is the Necessity that procureth Vertue; But especially, Adorable is the Mercy that will accept of that Vertue which Necessity doth procure!

Thus I apprehend my self to have sufficiently cleared my first Proposition: And now the Re­mainder of my Business is to shew, that this Consideration is of Great Importance to make Men act as they ought to do in every Relation they bear to Publick Justice. And this I shall do Distinctly according to the Method of my former Positions, shewing what Arguments for Integrity do Naturally arise from the Considera­tion of Each of them.

I. The Doctrine of the First Position was this; That the Magistrate in Judgment Sustains the Person of God, and acts for Him. Now this Consideration is of a Reasonable Force to keep the Magistrate Just and Upright in his De­terminations; and no other but this.

For let the Magistrate suppose himself to sustain any other Person, or to act by or for any other whatsoever, but only God, he shall find him­self immediately faln under the power of such [Page 55] Reasons as will pervert him from being Just; because there is no Person in the World, but God alone, whose Ends may not sometimes be better served by Injustice: Gods Ends are always served by Justice, and no bodies always so, but His.

And hence Springs the Great Difficulty of be­ing Just, and the necessity of that Caution, which we find so frequently inculcated to Magistrates in the Holy Scripture, viz. That they should be Strong, Couragious, very Couragious: Because it is but Needful that He whose Duty will not permit him to Oblige in what is Unjust, should arm himself against the possible Malevolence of Many, who will account themselves Disoblig'd by the Direct Issues of Justice. He therefore that will be Just, must harden himself against all the Impressions of Interest; tho in that he may seem Imprudent; against all the Impressions of Affe­ction, though in that he may seem Ill-natured; against all the Impressions of Benefits, though in that he may seem Ingrateful; nay, against all the Impressions of Vulgar Pity, though in that he seem Hardhearted: He must render himself disengaged from all the World, and from Him­self above all; Because Self is undoubtedly the greatest Byass to Human Prevarication.

[Page 56]But these (in the mean time) are Difficulties, which I think no other Consideration can enable a Man to surmount, but only the Respect of God, and the Conscience of doing that service which God himself doth both Require and Reward.

I know indeed that to be Just is in it self a very glorious thing, without any farther Religi­ous Prospect: And therefore there are some Spi­rits (naturally Generous) which though it shall happen that they have not much of Religion, will yet despise all the Temptations of Interest, and be Just for the very Glory of being so: But then we must observe that Glory it self is another Byass, and can draw Men from their Integrity, as well as any other Passion; And so it some­times happens that a Man, that could not have been bribed with Gold, will yet be bribed with Air, that is, the Affectation of a Popular Fame. An Instance of this kind is intended in that Pre­cept, Ex. xxiii. 3. where 'tis said, Thou shalt not countenance a poor man in his cause: Intimating, that when a Poor Man has a Bad Cause, though there can be no Other Temptation, yet there may be that of Vain-glory, to be Unjust: Because a Sentence given in behalf of a Poor Man is so Popular and Specious, that though it [Page 57] should be Unjust, yet it may gain a Man the Reputation of a more Impartial Justice. And in­deed when a Man comes to affect Glory from any thing, though from Vertue it self, he is faln into the Temptation of preferring the Glory above the Vertue; and so of Leaving the Vertue for the Glory's sake, if at any time they shall happen to be Divided. So Important a Reason there is for that Precept of the Apostle, Let him that glorieth, glory in the Lord: To which let me subjoin; Let him that will be just, be just for the Lord; Because it is impossible for any one to be accurately Just for any other Prospect.

II. The second Position was this, That the Matter of Judgment is Gods Cause: And this Con­sideration is very forcible to engage all Others to bring in their Respective due Assistances to Pub­lick Justice.

'Tis a Notion to be met with more than once among the Heathen Moralists, that A Good Man is a Perpetual Magistrate; and that, though he be not made so by the Governing Power, he is made so by Nature; that is, A Good Man can­not but be a Friend and Patron to the Laws; His Love to Vertue and the Publick Good will not suffer him to be Unconcern'd, when he sees them broken and contemned. And if it be so with a [Page 58] Good Man; I am sure it cannot be otherwise with a Good Christian: It is impossible that such a one should see and bear with Indifference, that the Concerns of Truth, the Offices of Morality and Religion (which I say are the general Mat­ters of the Law) those Duties wherein Gods Honour, and the Common Welfare, nay the Com­mon Salvation are so nearly concerned, should be broken and neglected without a proper Animad­version.

We all conclude that He wants Compassion, and sins against the Law of Humanity, who will suffer the Poor to perish for want of Re­lieving; But if the Perishing of Souls be of grea­ter Moment than the Perishing of Bodies, I am sure he has less Compassion, and sins more against the Law of Humanity, who will suffer Good Manners to be run down for want of Asserting, I do not say that every Good Christian should rise up like Phineas, and execute the Judgment of Zeal (as the Rabbins call it;) but this I say, that every Good Christian ought to have a constant Regard to the Ends of Publick Justice, which are the Restraint of Vice, and the Maintenance of Good Manners; and to these Ends he ought never to be wanting in any sort of Prudential As­sistance.

[Page 59]And in this Point I humbly wish that the Gentlemen would be pleased to hear me as their Particular Remembrancer. Whether they are Magistrates or no, let them always bear in mind, that an Awful Example carries Magistracy in it self; and he that lives Christianly is the Best Justiciary; he gives the Best Assistance to Publick Justice, and cures most Crimes among the People.

God has given this Precept among other Judi­cial Laws, Lev. xix. as that which has a most direct Influence upon the Affairs of Publick Ju­stice, viz. Thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neigh­bour, and not suffer sin upon him. The Charge is given to All, but it obliges the Gentleman most, whose Fortunes give him the Advantage of Executing it with the happiest success: For in Matters of Duty, Our Power is always the Measure of our Obligation.

It is an Ill Crisis, when Mens Religion comes to be so Modest, that they will not Rebuke sin, or keep Vertue in Countenance, for fear of In­vading the Preachers Office; as if it were pure Officiousness in Others, and exceeding the Mea­sures of their Obligation. But tell me, ye Men of Quality and Power, superior to those that are about you! Tell me how God who is the Equal [Page 60] Father of All, came to distinguish You from the Crowd of Indigents, and to prefer You to such an Unequal Distribution. Can you say it is for Services already done? I must say it is for Servi­ces to be Done; It is not for Nought: God has put your Fortunes as a Tryal and Opportunity into your hands: Your Fortunes are the Means of your Influence upon Men; and your Influence upon Men is your Power of doing Good; and your Power of doing Good is your Debt to do it; And if you do it not, you run into Debt even for that which is your Own.

It would trouble me to doubt of any of your Zeal for that Religion, which You and the Laws profess: Look where you will, you will never find any Constituted of a more saving Wis­dom than that is: But be pleased to bear in mind, That to appear for Religion, and not to appear against Vice, is in effect a Contradiction; and he that will not assert his Religion better than so, is in the nearest hazard of losing it.

III. The third Position was this, That the Issue of Judgment is Gods End. And this Con­sideration does most Effectually discover the Great Iniquity of Perverting Judgment. We know that Christianity permits no Evil to be done, tho softned with the Issue of never so Good a Conse­quence: [Page 61] But much more Inexcusable is the Evil, whose Product is likewise evil; this is a Double Sin: And so is every Iniquity interposed in the Administration of Justice; It is a solemn Evil in the Act, and yet a Worse in the Effect it produces. Ex. Gt. All Corruption or Falshood in Evidence is a Solemn Evil; It is a great Affront to the God of Truth; especially considering that God himself is called in to be Witness to the Affront: All Partiality of Verdicts is a Solemn Evil; It is a breach both of Truth and Trust, and an Im­plicit Defiance of the Christian Faith, which is there plight and pawn'd as a Pledge of Integri­ty: All Prevarication in Pleadings is a Solemn Evil; wherein Parts and Learning are imployed to elude Right, and Colour Frauds; which is no other than a Profane prostituting the Talents of God to the service of Mammon: Torturing the Laws to make them speak Contrary to the Inten­tion of the Makers is a Solemn Evil; It is the Extremest Violation and Contempt of the Go­verning and Legislative Power, which if not held Sacred in one Point, it has no security of be­ing so in Any: All these are Solemn Deliberate Iniquity in the Act; And yet the Effect of them is Worse, for it tends to no other Issue (to the Publick) than this, viz. to Harden Men in their [Page 62] sins by the Means of Impunity. For the only End of Publick Justice is to Correct ill Men, and make them do Right whether they will or no; to bring Criminals to Repentance, and meliorate the World by the Example of their Punishment: Whereas All those Artifices through which Men aim at Impunity, directly frustrate this Good End, and render Men secure in the pursuit of their Ill Inclinations: which they must stand Ac­countable for, who might have hindered it.

IV. The Last Position was this, That the Sentence of Judgment is Gods Sentence: i. e. It is espoused by God, and taken into his Own Account, and shall be so Imputed at the Judg­ment which shall be Universal. And this Con­sideration may serve as Effectually to discover the Folly of perverting Judgment.

The Traveller when overtaken by a Storm gets himself to a Tree, and when he is there, he pleases himself with the Commodiousness of his Shelter; but if the Shower happen to be so strong as once to break through the Boughs, then he finds to his disappointment that the Standing, wherein he lately pleased himself, is Now be­come more Insufferable than any part of the Open Road: And just so it happens when any Man meets with Protection or Covert from any [Page 63] Unjust or Misguided Sentence of Judgment; when either his False Titles are Confirmed, or his Injuries Concealed by any Favour or Misre­presentation of the Court: The Foolish Liti­gant hugs himself, that now he is safe, because he has a Verdict on his side; because his Penny is saved, or his Credit unexposed, by reason of those Practices which have past on his behalf; But he thinks not in the mean time, that by and by the Storm will certainly beat through the Covert, and then his Station will be able to afford him no safety; Then he will complain of that Success, which now he calls his Good For­tune; and wish that either Force had brought him to Right, or Shame to Repentance; that so he might have taken Refuge under some more Durable Shelter.

You therefore, whosoever pretend to have Favour for Any, whose Faults have made them Obnoxious to the Laws, shew your Friendship in this, Help to clear them against the Great Assize; Help to bring them to Repentance and Satisfa­ction; and Remember that it is absolute Cruelty to assist a Man from being Just and Good.

And You (My Lords) give me Leave to offer You One Advice, which is this, That You would look upon Your selves and Your Assi­stants [Page 64] as the most Lively Resemblance that the World affords, of our Saviour Christ coming in the Clouds with his Holy Angels: Be pleased there­fore but to think this of Yourselves, and to act in Contemplation of this Resemblance; And then we doubt not but All You do will tend to the Publick Welfare, and to the Glory of Him for whom You are to Judge.

To whom be Glory and Thanksgiving for ever and ever.

Amen.

FINIS.

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