A SERMON PREACHED AT HERTFORD Assise, August 6. 1669.
S. JOHN XVIII. 31.
A Strange Assise is the Evangelist recording in his story here: the Judge of all the World judged and condemned: and he before whose tribunal all sinners must once stand, standing and falling be∣fore a sinful tribunal: such a person sentenced, such injustice in that sentence, that the World never did, never must see its parallel.
But who is he, and where is he that durst presume in his heart to do such a thing? As Ahasuerus once in a far lesser matter? And the an∣swer may be given in the words of Esther, that immediately follow [the name only changed] The adversary and the enemy is this wicked Pilate: The adver∣saries and the enemies are these wicked Jews, whom you have discoursing in the words of the Text; and whom you have acting all along this Tragedy.
Whose persons, Logical method calls upon us first to consider, and then to consider of their words and discourse.
Pilate said, and the Jews answered. Persons, if you look wistly upon them you may see more than their bare persons. For you may read the Roman power and tyranny in the one, and the Jews malice and mischievousness in the other: and upon the full view the Roman and the Jew conspiring together and becoming guilty of this horridest fact that ever was committed under the Sun, the murthering of the Lord of life and glory.
Let us begin first with Pilate, who stands first in mention in the Text, as he stands re∣presentative of Rome, whose authority he carried, and whose Tyranny in this case he exercised. Methinks there is hardly a more remarkable passage in the whole book of the Revelations, then that Chap. XIII. 2. The Dragon gave his power, and seat, and great au∣thority unto the Beast. Which in plain English is this, The Devil gave his power, and seat, and great authority to Rome. For that by the Dragon is meant the Devil, there is none but grant, and that by the Beast is meant Rome, even Romanists themselves do not deny. When you read that passage in S. Luke IV. 5, 6. that the Devil shewed our Saviour all the Kingdoms of the World, and the glory of them; do you not presently conceive, that he shewed him Rome her Empire and Glory? For then where was the pomp and glory of the World, but within that City and Empire? And when you read that he said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them, do you not presently conceive that he offered to make him Caesar, or Lord of that vast Empire, if he would fall down and worship him? And how pat do these words of his, for that is delivered to me, and toPage 1109whomsoever I will, I give them, agree with these in the Revelations, The Dragon gave his power and seat and great authority unto the beast?
It neither is, nor indeed could be said so of the other Monarchies or Empires that had gone before. It is not said the Dragon gave his power to the Babylonian Empire, nor to the Persian nor Grecian nor Syrogrecian: nor indeed could it be so truly and pertinently said so concerning them, as concerning Rome. For the Dragon had a business for Rome to do, which the other neither did nor could do for him, which was to put the Lord of life to death. The old Serpent knew from of old, that he was to bruise the heel of the seed of the woman, that he was to compass the death of Messias, and it was reserved to Rome and her power and tyranny to be the instrument of such an action, and the Dragon gave his power, seat, and authority to that City for that purpose, that it might do his business in murthering Christ, and his members after him.
Pilate, who carried with him the authority and commission of that City, confessed him innocent, and yet condemned him, pleaded for him that he was not guilty, and yet crucified him; and that mainly upon the account of Rome, and for her sake, because forsooth there must be no King but Caesar, or who was set up or kinged by Caesar.
In Revel. XI. 8. where mention is made of slaying the two witnesses, it is said, their dead carcasses shall lie in the streets of that great City, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. The last clause, where also our Lord was crucified. may seem to direct your eyes to Jerusalem, but the title, The great City, which Chap. XVII. ult. is defined, The great City, which ruleth over the Kings of the Earth, calls them back again to look at Rome, as our Lords crucifier, by whom, that work must be done, or not done at all, for to such a tenour do the Jews tell Pilate in the Text, when they say, It is not lawful for us.
Before ever I should turn Romanist, I must be satisfied in this scruple and question. How comes the Jew and Jerusalem, so cursed a Place and Nation for the murther of our Lord, and the Romanist and Rome, so blessed, as to be the holy mother Church of all the World, when that City and Nation had as deep and bloody a hand in the murther of the Saviour of the World, as the other, if not deeper?
I remember the story of one of the Grand Seigniors, that when he had received a foul and base foil before a poor and contemptible Town, Scodra, if I mistake not the name, for very rancour and vexation, and that he might be whetting on himself continually to revenge, he commanded him that waited nearest on him, to be minding him continu∣ally with these words, Remember Scodra. May I be so bold as to hint such a memoran∣dum to you against Rome. As oft as you read, or rehearse, or hear rehearsed that article in our Creed, He suffered under Pontius Pilate, Remember Rome, and that under that it was our Saviour suffered: and the article minds you of so much: and if it were not in∣tended for such a memorandum, had it not been enough to have said He suffered, with∣out any mention of Pontius Pilate at all? Let us reason with the Romanist a little after the manner of his own Logick. He argues thus, Peter was at Rome and sat Bishop there, and suffered martyrdom and died there; Ergo, Rome is the mother Church, and head of all Churches. We argue in like manner, Pilate was at Jerusalem, sat Judge there, con∣demned and crucified the Lord of life there, and that by the Power and Authority of Rome; Ergo, let Rome look to it, how she clears her self of that fact and guiltiness. And so I have done with the first party in mention in the Text, Pilate, and he invested with the Roman authority.
The other party are the Jews, more peculiarly the Sanhedrin invested also wi•• the Jewish power, and Representatives of the whole Nation. How busie and active the Jews were in this bloody business needs no illustration of mine, the Sacred pens of the Evan∣gelists have done that abundantly.
Only I might speak to this circumstance, and not impertinent question, whether the Jews did not indeed think him to be the Messias, and yet murthered him?
Pilate condemned him, though he knew him innocent, and did not they murther him though they knew him to be the very Christ?
Methinks that passage in the Parable of the husbandmen in the Vineyard speaks very fairly for the Affirmative, Matth. XXI. 38. When the husband men saw the Son, they said, this is the heir, come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. They knew him to be the heir, and yet they kill him, nay they kill him because they know him to be the heir, and that by killing him they shall get the inheritance. It is said indeed, they knew him not, Act. XIII. 27. which if you interpret, that they knew not the dignity of his person, and that he was God as well as man [the Jews will not be perswaded of the Godhead of Messias to this day] that does not deny, but that they might take him for the Messias howsoever. But I shall not dispute this case. If they took him for Messias, they thought he was not a Messias for their turn, nor that he was likely to answer their expecta∣tion, in what their wretched traditions had taught them to look for from Messias. For,
- Page 1112I. From Messias they expected Pomp and Stateliness, a royal and victorious Kingdom: they see him appear in a low condition, and contemptible poverty.
- II. From Messias they expected an advancing and heightening the rites of Moses: they saw that he began to take them down.
- III. By the Messias they expected to be redeemed and delivered from their subjection to the Roman yoke. He taught them to give Caesar his due, and to submit to the govern∣ment God had set over them.
- IV. By the Messias they expected, that the Gentiles should be subdued, trod under their feet and destroyed. He taught that they should be called, converted and become the Church.
So that if they took him for Messias, they thought he was a Messias that would mar all, and was far unlike the Messias their traditions had taught them to look for. And there∣fore be he Messias or no, they will rather kill the heir, than they themselves lose the in∣heritance, which they thought they should have done, if he should have liyed.
It were worth the labour, if that were the task that were before us, to trace these two Nations, Jew and Roman, after this fact; as I may say, by the blood, and to con∣sider, as they made themselves yoke-fellows, like Simeon and Levi, in this guilt and evil, so whether God yoked not them also together under the like curse and ven∣geance.
Yokefellows indeed are the Jew and Romanist above all the people of the World, in a deluded fancying their own bravery and privilege above all the World besides. He that comes to read the Jewish Writings, especially those that are of the nature of Sermons, will find this to be the main stuffing of them, almost in every leaf and page, How choise a people is Israel, how dearly God is in love with Israel, what a happy thing it is to be the seed of Abraham, how blessed the Nation of the Jews above all Nations, and such stuff as this all along: And is not the style of the Romanist to the very same tune? How holy the Church of Rome, how glorious the Religion of the Church of Rome, what superiority and preeminence hath the Church above all Churches; and all the men in the World are Hereticks and Apostates and Castaways, if they be not Romanists. Where∣as if both the Nations would but impartially look upon themselves, they would see that there are such brands upon them two, as are upon no Nation under Heaven, now ex∣tant; I shall but glance at these few particulars.
I Is not the Jew Antichrist, viz. Thes. II? Examine the place seriously, and compare it with 1 Joh. II. 18. and with II. Joh. 7. and other places in the Epistles, and you may see it plain. And is not Rome Antichrist in the Revelations? Rome her self doth not deny it, if you allow her but her distinction of Heathen and Christian.
II. Have you not observed a horrid Apostasie in the Apostles time in the Church of the Jews, of those who had imbraced the Gospel? Evidences are abundant in the New Testament, I shall name but two, 2 Tim. I. 15. All Asia is fallen away, and departed from Paul at one clap. This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia are turned away from me. And in XII. Matth. 49. our Saviour compares that generation to one that had the Devil cast out of him, but he returns again into him with seven worse Devils, so shall it be, saith he, to this wicked generation.
And who also hath not observed a horrid Apostasie in the Church of Rome, (They themselves only excepted, who will not see) from that Faith and Religion, for which that City was once renowned through the whole World, I. Rom. 8? And that direful Apostasie in the Christian Church of the Jews, was never so matched and paralleld in the World as by the Apostasie in the Church of Rome.
III. Were there ever two Nations, two Churches under Heaven so besotted with Tra∣ditions and the Doctrines of Men, as the Jew and Roman? Weigh them well together, and is not that as true of the Roman to every tittle, that our Saviour speaks of the Jew, XV. Matth. 3, 9. That they had made the Commandment of God of none effect by their tra∣ditions, and that they taught for Doctrines the Commandments of men?
He that shall seriously compare their Doctrines together, about Opus operatum, Sin ve∣nial, the merit of Works, Purgatory, Freewil, the point of Justification, and multitudes of other points in Religion and Divine Worship, will see the Romanist has gone to School to the Jew, and indeed the Scholar is not a whit behind the Master.
IV. And to spare more, Is not the Jew doomed to a perpetual curse in that passage, Esay LXV. 15. Ye shall leave your name for a curse unto my chosen? And in other passages of like nature, that might be produced, not a few:
And is not Rome doomed to perpetual perdition in that passage, Numb. XXIV. 24. Ships shall come from the coast of Chittim, and shall afflict Assar, and shall afflict Eber, and he [Chittim] shall perish for ever. Where Chittim is Rome or Italy by the consent both of Jews and Christians, both of Protestants, and even Romanists themselves.
Page 1111And thus much concerning the persons before us. Pilate and the Jews, Representatives of the Jewish and Roman Nation, Actors of the Jewish malice and Roman tyranny.
And now let us consider their words, the handling of which will bring our discourse nearer the present occasion.
Pilate said, Take him, &c. for he very well knew they might do so▪ for any restraints the Romans, who were their Lords, had put upon them in that case. Josephus tells us the Romans suffered them to live by their own Laws and Religion; and he records a speech that Titus their Conqueror made to them, while he besieged their City, to perswade them to yield, in which he useth this argumentation. The Romans have always permitted you to live by your own Laws, and why then should you rebel against them? And he also re∣cords a speech that himself made to them to the same purpose, to perswade them to yield, in which he useth the very same argument. And certainly Pilate did not speak it in a way of jearing of them; when he bid them Take him, &c. as knowing they were re∣strained by the Romans.
They, though such a restraint were not upon them, yet answer, It is not lawful, &c. It is not lawful, i. e. we cannot, we may not, it is not in our power; for such a constru∣ction will the Greek expression very well bear; and if they used their own Jerusalem language, I doubt not but their words were 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 which is an expression very obvious and frequent in the writers in that Language, and signifies in that latitude, as to mean, we have not liberty, power, privilege.
Now how or when, or whereupon, did they lose this power? If the Romans had taken it away from them, how then did they afterwards arraign and condemn and exe∣cute S. Stephen, and would have done no less without all doubt to S. Paul, if they might have had their own way? And their own stories tell us of their judging and condemning to the fire, after this, a Priests daughter for playing the whore in her fathers house, and execution was done accordingly. And yet, they say, they cannot judicially put any man to death, which power indeed if they had lost, they lost it more like fools, than like slaves, and it was not at all taken from them by the Romans, but they let it drop from them by their own folly.
Their own Writers and Records do tell us at what pass it was with them at this time, in this manner.
Forty years, say they, before the destruction of the Temple, did the great Sanhedrin, or chief Court or Councel rise, and depart out of the room Gazith, and then the power of judg∣ing in Capital matters was taken away from Israel. Gazith, the room where this great Court sat, was in the Court of the Temple near unto the altar; or as themselves ex∣press it, near to the divine presence, which, they supposed, dwelt upon the altar, and looked on them how they acted in judgment. They thought therefore that by the very reverence and venerableness of the place, and presence, they were bound to judge male∣factors, and to execute them unfailingly, which at the last they saw, they could not do, and therefore they resolve to rise and depart from that place.
The case was now with them much like to that gloss of some of the Hebrew writers upon the first words of the book of Ruth. The words properly are thus, It came to pass in the days when the Judges judged. But they invert it thus, It came to pass in the days, when they judged the Judges. And a shrewd inversion indeed, when the people judge their Judges, and malefactors aw and over-power the Magistracy. And just such was their case now. Their Country did so swarm with all manner of wickedness and villa∣nies, that they were grown beyond the correction of the Magistracy, that they out da∣red the Magistracy. As Jezebel. The Sanhedrin could not, durst not judge them. Nay these go further than defie and da•e, they even conquer and master. So that not any but is glad to yield and resolve, that they will not go about to punish such villanies and wickedness any more, for they saw that it was but in vain to go about it, and that they could not do it without their own danger. And so their own Records tell us, That adul∣teries were grown so common and open, that the Sanhedrin determined, there should be no more trial of the suspected or adulterous wise by the bitter waters, which God had prescribed, Numb. V. That murders were so common and ordinary, that the Sanhedrin determined, there should be no more the beheading of a Heifer, which God had prescribed for the expiation of an uncertain murder, Deut. XXI. And Murtherers so numerous and potent and impu∣dent, that the Magistrate could not, durst not judge them for fear of being themselves murde∣red. And therefore the great Sanhedrin resolves, Come let us rise and sit here no longer, for it is better for us to rise and depart hence, than by sitting here to contract guilt to our selves, when the very place challengeth from us, that we do judgment and executi∣on, and we cannot do it. And so they rose and went thence, and then ceased and failed the judging of Capital offenders through out all the Courts of Israel. And this account do their Writers and Records give, how it came to pass that they lost that power, that they could not, might not, put any malefactor to death. And so you have a CommentaryPage 1112 of their own Nation and Historians, upon their words here in the Text. I might yet add further from them.
- 1. That sometimes they returned to the Hall or room Gazith to sit upon Capital of∣fendors, as blasphemers, false Prophets, notoriously incestuous, &c. when they thought good; but never returned thither to sit upon murther.
- 2. That when they did sit there and Judged and Sentenced, yet they hardly ever exe∣cuted, but referred the offendors to the punishment of God. And they will tell you, That God at one time or other, did bring them to some kind of death in some sort sutable to that the Sanhedrin should have put them to.
Sometimes indeed malice and spite made them venture an execution doing, when they saw they might do it without their own danger, when they executed S. Stephen for a He∣retick, and Bensatda for a Seducer, if by him they meant not our Saviour himself.
But that that we have the most reason to consider of, is how the Nation came to this pass of Vice and Villany, that Vice and Villany were not only incorrigible, but were grown terrible to those that should correct them: Wickedness strong, and Magistracy feeble: Murthers, Plunderings, Assassinations, all manner of Abominations swarming, and no power in them that were in power to punish them.
Not to speak of the secret disposal of God for the executing of his vengeance upon that sinful Nation in giving them up to themselves and to confusion, but to look only at those things that are apparent.
I. The growth of Villany was from the not punishing of villanies in time: and the Magistrates want of executing Judgment made them lose the power of executing Judg∣ment. And they could not punish malefactors when they should, because they would not do it, when they might. The sword of Justice rusted in the scabbard, that they could not draw it, because they let it rest in the scabbard when they should have drawn it.
As that generation was the wickedest that the Earth had carried in our Saviours chara∣cter, A wicked and adulterous generation, a faithless and perverse generation, a Serpent and Viper generation, a generation wicked above expression, as appears by that expression of the Prophet Esay LIII. 8. Who shall declare his generation, i. e. the generation wherein he lived; so the same Prophet speaking of the very same time and generation, shews from whence the above wickedness of the generation grew, Esay LIX. 14. Judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: truth is fallen in the streets, and equity cannot enter. And it displeased the Lord, that there was no judgment. Which very Scrip∣ture the Jews themselves do produce to prove that the Messias should come in the worst of times and generations. Now
II. There were two things that hindred and spoiled the execution of Justice and Judgment, like two worms lying at the root of Judicature; that like the worm that smote Jonas gourd, kild execution of Judgment at the very root, that that tree was clean blasted, dried up and withered.
The first let me Emblem by this homely Emblem. The Ape loving and hugging her young so dearly, that she hugs, and presses, and crushes them to death. They had so foolish and fond a prizing and tenderness to a Jew forsooth, because he was a Jew, that that very fondness helpt to hug and crush the Nation to this confusion and ruine. O noli tangere, meddle not with him so severely, he is an Israelite of the seed of Abraham, he is not to be dealt with as you would with another man. I could tire you with evidences of this fondness and folly in multitudes of instances. Shall I but give you one of their own stories.
A father sent out his son to hire labourers to come to work with him. The son agreed with him for so much mony a day, and meat and drink; when his father under∣stood that he had agreed to find them their diet, Ah son, saith he, what hast thou done? Though thou shouldest keep as noble and royal a Table for them as ever Solomon did, thou could∣est never make good thine agreement for their diet; for they are the children of Abraham, and no treatment or entertainment can rise up to their desert and dignity. John Baptist very well knew how high their pulse beat upon this delirium, which he bids, Think not to say with∣in your selves, we have Abraham to our Father: for this they thought, was privilege enough and would serve for all things.
It was the Doctrine of their Schools and Pulpits, That every Israelite was to have a por∣tion in the World to come, in the benefits and happiness of the days of Messias, for so the expression means there. And why, I pray you, every Israelite? Why forsooth be∣cause he is an Israelite. And this very Maxim learnt, and believ'd, and taught by Nicode∣mus, made the Pharisee at a nonplus, when our Saviour told him he could not see the Kingdom of Heaven or Messias except he were born again. For he thought his being born a Jew and Israelite would serve well enough for that purpose and that he needed no more.
Page 1113I could produce you instances in their own Authors, where this very argument is used to check and hinder execution of justice upon a malefactor Jew. O do it not, for he is a child of Abraham, of the stock of Israel, and flock of God. Though never so horrid a villain, yet O do not put him to death, for he is a Jew. Nay, they stick not to tell, that Elias himself hath appeared to hinder the execution of malefactors with this very argument. And some of their great Doctors and Grandees have not stuck to say, That that Sanhedrin that puts one man to death in seven years, nay in seventy years is a bloody Court; And if we had been in those times, say they, when executions were done, there should never have been any in our time done.
Needed there any other seed for the breeding of mischief and villany in the Land, of all sorts and sizes and without number, than such a fond and senceless principle and practice as this? Sow but such remisness of executing justice and judgment in a Nation, and presently you will have a very plentiful crop of all manner of mischief, like that Hemlock crop in Hos. X. 4. Judgment springeth up as Hemlock in the furrows of the field.
By the way upon this fond and mad principle of theirs, of Jew-prizing. I cannot but observe these two things.
I. Their deadly spleen and malice against our Saviour, when contrary to this their Na∣tional principle, they did not only pursue him eagerly to put him to death, but for that end delivered him up to the Heathen power, which I question whether they had ever done so by Jew before.
II. How heavy the hand and vengeance of God was upon them in their Civil Wars and Seditions among themselves, when contrary to their Nation-principle of Jew-prizing, they fell Jew to destroy Jew, the seed of Abraham to murther the seed of Abraham, in the horridest assassinations and destractiveness, that any story recordeth.
A second hinderer and destroyer of the execution of justice among them I may em∣blem by that foolish Roman Emperor, that while he should have been busied in consult∣ing and taking care about the great affairs of state, he made it a very great business and employment he followed, to catch flies. Our Saviour tells you these men did much the like, Matth. XXIII. 22. You tithe mint, and annise, and cummin, and have omitted the great things of the Law, Judgment, Mercy and Faith. They were punctual about things of little or no weight, and remis about matters of moment, and the greatest import, severe about things, that were indeed as good as nothing, and careless about those things, that were indeed all in all. Like Israel at the battel of Gibeah, Judg. XIX. zealous to avenge the quarrel and injury of a whorish woman, the Levites Concubine, but never mind the avenging of the quarrel and injury done to God by the setting up Michals and the Danites Idol. They were extreme punctual in requiring the washing of hands before meat, but as our Saviour tells them, their tradition gave leave to starve their parents with saying, Corban, or let whatsoever I should relieve thee by, be dedicated for sacred, and they made no matter of letting father or mother perish for want of sustenance. They were very exact in looking that no one should come into the mount of the Temple with staf in hand, or shoes on their feet, or their purse at their girdle, against which they had a strict Law; but they made nothing to keep a Market or Fair of Oxen and Sheep and Doves there: they had Tabernae, Shops there, where they sold Salt and Oyle and Fran∣kinsence and such things as they used about the Altar. And the Sanhedrin it self, when it removed out of the room Gazith, came and sat down close by those Shops, and never quecht at it, to make the Temple an house of Merchandize. What a deal of doe do they keep about our Saviours healing on the Sabbath day, but when a woman is taken in adul∣tery in the very act, the Sanhedrin brings her to our Saviour to lay a trap for him by try∣ing what he would determine in that case: but of more done to her for her crime you have no news. And to spare more, He that reads their Pandects and Canons and their de∣terminations, and debates there, may justly stand amazed to see how serious and grave they be in a thousand things, that are but trash and chaf, and that deserve nothing but laughter, and how slight and little looking after these great things that concern true Piety, Justice, Charity and a holy Life. How smartly they measure the violation of a tradition of the Elders about toys and trifles, and take no notice of the violation of the Divine Law of God about the greatest matter. And so our Saviour speaks enough of this in that short passage, Ye strain at a gnat and swallow a Camel. Those traditions were the ruine of Religion and Justice in the Nation, and proved consequently the utter ruine of the Nation it self.
It is observable concerning that unhappy Nation▪ that before their Captivity into Babylon, they were all for Idolatry, but after their return out of Captivity they abhorred Idolatry, but were all for Traditions, they changed naught for naught, or rather naught for worse. For indeed their Traditions, one may justly say, were more destructive than their Idolatry. Their Traditions wrought them and brought Page 1114 them to murder the Lord of life and glory, which their Idolatry would hardly ever have brought them to. And the very principles of their Traditions were such, that they had not been right Scholars in that School, they had not been faithful to their principles, if they had not destroied him. So directly contrary to the tenor of the Gospel, and to the quality and appearance of Christ were those cursed Traditions, that if they sought not withal might and main, to destroy them and root them out, the beast did not work ac∣cording to the nature of the beast, but clean contrary to it.
It is very generally conceived that God rejected that Nation for the murther of the Lord of life. And that was a very just cause and reason why they were rejected. But if I should say, God rejected the bulk and mass of that Nation long before the death of Christ for those cursed Traditions, I believe, I should not speak it without good proof and warrant. And it is observable that John Baptist calls them a generation of Vipers, which in plain English is, The seed of the Serpent, at his first preaching among them. And it is observable, that which we are upon, that wickedness and villanies were grown so abounding and so predominant, that they were past the Magistrates correcting, before ever our Saviour comes to be arraigned. And it is no wonder they were grown so abounding and predominant, when their very Principles led them to make crimes of those that were but trifles, and no crimes of those that were crimes indeed: to omit the great things of the Law, whereby they might have beaten down cruelty, dishonesty, and debauchery, and to make all their business only about toys, only for the promoting of formality and hypocrisie, and seeming goodness.
And thus you see wickedness uncorrected till it grow incorrigible: an unhappy Magi∣stracy asleep, till it wake, like Sampson, with the locks of his strength cut, and over∣powred by the Philistins: and a miserable Nation bleeding to death, and weltering in its own blood, because the Physitian would not let blood when he should have done, in due time and in the right vein.
And now do I need to say any thing by way of Application? As the Apostle concern∣ing Abel, He being dead, yet speaketh; so I of Judea, she is here dying, and do you not hear her speak? nay as he of old, Loquere ut te videam. Do you not see her speak? The very looking on her may read a Lecture. As the Lacedaemonians read a silent Lecture against drunkenness to their children, only by shewing them their slaves Swine-drunk. So tis a silent Lecture against neglecting of the execution of Justice and Judgment, and against partiality in executing of Judgment and Justice, only to look upon her, and her undone condition.
It is well known to you all that pass by, behold and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, that is done unto me. And who wrought it to thee, O unhappy Nation? Oh! I was wounded in this house of my friends. Folly and fondness, partiality and foolish ten∣derness, sloth and sleepiness have been my undoing. Discite justitiam moniti▪ Take warning by my fate, all Nations and Countries, and set your selves to execute Judgment and do Justice, lest wickedness grow that there be no curbing, and so vengeance follow, that there be no healing.
The Grandees of that Nation, though so careless as to practise this, will tell you, that all the six hundred and thirteen precepts contained in the Law of Moses, are couched and included within those two in Esay, LVI. 1. Keep judgment, and do justice. And in∣deed how much and how great things are included in those two, keeping or observing Judgment in causes Controversal, and doing just in causes Criminal? The Greek Poet will tell you,
That in Justice is comprehended all Vertues; and the Scripture will tell you, that under the name of righteousness is comprehended all piety; by the use of the name: a righteous man for one after Gods own heart.
I might speak how much piety is comprehended in doing Justice, and how much cha∣rity, how much service to God, how much benefit to the Country. But need I to il∣lustrate these things that are so plain?
It is something strange, and not to be passed by without observation, that in the New Testament in several places, the second Table is cited and taken for the whole Law with∣out mention of the first Table at all. In Matth. XIX. 16. when a man comes and asks, what he should do to have eternal life? Christ bids him, keep the Commandments: When he demands, which? He refers him only to the second Table, Thou shalt do no murder. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness. Ho∣nour thy Father and thy Mother. And Thou shall love thy neighbour as thy self. You have the like reference to the second Table, Rom. XIII. 8. Ow nothing to any man but to lovePage 1115one another, for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the Law. And there going to reckon up the Commandments of the Law, he mentions only those of the second Table. And you may observe the Apostle S. James using the same style, Jam 11. 8. If ye fulfil the Royal Law according to the Scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thy self, ye do well.
What then is the younger sister fairer than the Elder, the second Table more lovely than the fi•••, that Jacob m••t serve his •pprenticeship for Rachel the younger, rather than for I••ah the elde•?
As Micah VI▪ 8. He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good, and what the Lord re∣quires of thee, to do justly, and love mercy. For these two are the Urim and Thummim of the second Table, the very life of true Christian piety, and of a true Christians acting. And the Lord thus directs men to the duties of the second Table, as the touch∣stone of Piety, whereby to try whether we love God, by our love to our neighbour; whether he will do God right, by doing right to his neighbour. If time would per∣mit I m•ght speak,
- I. How great a duty Justice is of the second Table.
- II. How great a charity to a place or Country.
- III. How great a tye upon all, not Judges and Magistrates only, but Juries, Witnesses, all in their places to promote it.
- IV. How great a misery, and undoing of a Nation to have the current of it stopped.