« AnteriorContinuar »
Bunday 9. Yet besides this, there want not other ; XII.
among which, one there is of such a Nature,
as may prevail with the arrantest Worldling; is not and that is, That this Course doth not really way to tend to the enriching of him; there is a secret
Curse goes along with it, which, like a Canker, eats out all the Benefit was expected from it. This no Man can doubt, that believes the Scripture, where there are Mulcitudes of Texts to this purpose: Thus Prov. xxii. 16. He that oppresseth the Poor, to increase his Riches, shall surely come to want. So Habak. ii. 6.
Wo to him that increaseth that which is not his ! how long ? and he that ladeth him with thick Clay. Shall they not rise up suddenly that shall bite thee ? and awake that shall
. vex thee? and shou shalt be for Booties to them. This is commonly the Fortune of those that spoil and deceive others, they at last meet with some that do the like to them. : But that Place in Zachary is most full to this purpose, chap. v. where, under the Sign of a flying Roll, is signified the Curse that goes forth against this Sin, ver. 4. I will bring it forth, saith the Lord of Hofts, and it shall enter into the House of the Thief, and into the House of him that sweareth falfly by my Nome: and shall consume it, with the Timber thereof, and the Stones thereof. Where, you see, Theft and Perjury are the two Sins against which this Curse is aimed, (and they too often go together in the Matter of Defrauding ;) and the Nature of this Curfe, is,
to consume the House, to make an utter De- Sunday
XII. struction of all that belongs to him, that is guilty of either of these Sins. Thus whilft thou art ravening after thy Neighbour's Goods or House, thou art but gathering Fuel to burn thiņe own. And the Effect of these Threatnings of God,we do daily see in the strange Improsperousness of ill-gotten Estates, which every Man is apt enough to observe in other Mens Cases ; he that sees his Neighbour decline in his Estate, can presently call to mind, this was gotten by Oppression or Deceit; yet so sottish are we, so bewitch'd with the love of Gain, that he that makes this Observation, can seldom turn it to his own use, is never the less greedy or unjust himself, for that Vengeance he discerns upon others.
10. But, alas! if thou could it be sure that It ruins thy unjust Possessions should not be torn from the soul thee, yet when thou remembrest how dear eternally. thou must pay for them in another World, thou hast little reason to brag of thy Prize: Thou thinkest thou haft been very cunning when thou hast over-reach'd thy Brother ; but, God knows, all this while there is another pver-reaching thee, and cheating thee of what is infinitely more precious, even thy Soul : The Devil herein deals with thee, as Fishers use to do; those that will catch a great Fish, will bait the Hook with a less, and so the great one coming with greediness to devour that, is himself taken. So thou that art
Sunday gaping to swallow up thy poor Brother, art XII. thyself made a Prey to that great Devourer.
And, alas! what will it ease thee in Hell, that thou hast left Wealth behind thee
the Earth, when thou shalt there want that which the meanest Beggar here enjoys, even a drop of Water to cool thy Tongue ? Consider this, and from henceforth resolve to imploy all that Pains and Diligence thou hast used to deceive others, in rescuing thyself
from the Frauds of the grand Deceiver. be Neces
11. To this purpose, it is absolutely necefy of Re- fary, that thou make Reftitution to all whom turion,
thou hast wronged ; for as long as thou keepest any Thing of the unjust Gain, 'tis, as it were, an Earnest Penny from the Devil, which gives him full right to thy Soul. But perhaps it may be faid, It will not in all Cases be poffible to make Reftitution to the wronged Party; peradventure he may be dead : In that case, then, make it to his Heirs, to whom his Right descends. But it may further be ob jected, That he that hath long gone on in a Course of Fraud, may have injured many that he cannot now remember, and many that he hath no means of finding out : In this Case, all I can advise is this ; first, To be as diligent as is possible, both in recalling to mind who they were, and endeavouring to find them out, and when, after all thy care, that proves impossible, let thy Restitutions be made to the Poor; and that they may not
be made by halves, be as careful as thou canst Sunday to reckon every the least mite of unjust Gain : XII. but when that cannot exactly be done, as ’tis fure it cannot by those who have multiplied the Acts of Fraud, yet even there let them make some general Measures, whereby to proportion their Restitution; as for example, A Tradesman that cannot remember how much he hath cheated in every single Parcel, yet may possibly guess in the gross whether he have usually over-reach'd to the Value of a Third, or a Fourth Part of the Wares; and then, what proportion soever he thinks he has fo defrauded, the same proportion let him now give out of that Estate he hath raised by his Trade : but herein it concerns every Man to deal uprightly as in the Presence of God, and not to make advantage of his own Forgetfulness, to the cutting short of the Restitution, but rather go on the other Hand, and be sure rather to give too much than too little. If he do happen to give somewhat over, he need not grudge the charge of such a Sin offering; and 'tis sure he will not, if he do heartily desire an Atonement. Many other Difficulties there may be in this Business of Reftitution, which will not be foreseen, and so cannot now be particularly spoke to ; but the more of these there are, the greater Hora ror ought Men to have of running into the Sin of Injustice, which it will be so difficult, if not impossible, for them to repair ; and the
Dunday more careful ought they to be to mortifie KIII. that which is the Root of all Injustice ; to
Whisperings. Of Scoffing for Infirmities,
HE Fourth Branch of Negative Justice, concerns the
Credit of our Neighbours, is Credit.
which we are not to lefsen or impair by any means, particularly, not by falle Reports. Of false Reports, there may be two Sorts; the one is, when a Man says something of his Neighbour, which he directly knows to be False ; the other, when possibly he has some slight Surmise or Jealousy of the thing ; but that upon such weak Grounds, that 'tis as likely to be False as True. In either of these Cases, there is a great Guilt lies upon the Reporter. That there doch so in the first of them, no body will doubt, every one acknowledging, that it is the greatert Baleness to inyent a Lye of another : but there is as little reason to question the other; for he that reports a thing as a Truth, which is but un