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as an ill example, to the common good, so I may be bound to it). Nay, were it not for the said criminal respect, I am bound rather to let him take it, than to vindicate it by any such means as would break charity, and do more hurt than good.
Prop. vii. If I am absolutely trusted with the person or estate of another, I may so far forgive the wrongs done to that other, upon sufficient reasons, as well as against myself.
Prop. vIII. A private man may not usurp the magistrate's power, or do any act which is proper to his office, nor yet may he break his laws, for the avenging of himself: he may use no other means than the law of God and his sovereign do allow him. Therefore he may not rail, or revile, or slander, or rob, or strike, or hurt any, (unless in case of defence, as afterward,) nor take any other prohibited
Prop. Ix. No rigour or severity must be used to right myself, where gentler means may probably do it; but the most harmless way must first be tried.
Prop. x. In general, all wrongs, and debts, and damages, must be forgiven, when the hurt is like to be greater, which will come by our righting ourselves, than that which by forbearance we shall sustain and all must be forgiven where God's law or man's forbiddeth us not to forgive. Therefore a man that will here know his duty, must conduct his actions by very great prudence, (which if he have not himself, he must make use of a guide or counsellor :) and he must be able to compare the evil which he suffereth with the evil which will in probability follow his vindication, and to discern which of them is the greater: or else he can never know how far and when he may and must forgive. And herein he must observe,
1. The hurt that cometh to a man's soul is greater than the hurt that befalleth the body: and therefore if my suing a man at law be like to hurt his soul by uncharitableness, or to hurt my own, or the souls of others by scandal or disturbances, I must rather suffer any mere bodily injuries, than use that means: but if yet greater hurt to souls would follow that bodily suffering of mine, the case is then altered the other way. So if by forgiving debts or wrongs, I be
like to do more good to the soul of him whom I forgive, or others, than the recovery of my own, or the righting of myself is like any way to equal, I am obliged to forgive that debt or wrong.
2. The good or hurt which cometh to a community or to many, is cæteris paribus' to be more regarded than that which cometh to myself or any one alone. Because many are of more worth than one; and because God's honour ('cæteris paribus') is more concerned in the good of many than of one. Therefore I must not seek my own right to the hurt of many, either of their souls or bodies, unless some greater good require it.
3. The good or hurt of public persons, magistrates, or pastors is (cæteris paribus') of more regard than the good or hurt of single men: therefore cæteris paribus' I must not right myself to the dishonour or hurt of governors: (no, though I were none of their charge or subjects:) because the public good is more concerned in their honour or welfare than in mine. The same may be said of persons, by their gifts and interests more eminently serviceable to God and the common good than I am.
4. The good or hurt of a near relation, of a dear friend, of a worthy person, is more to be regarded by me,' cæteris paribus,' than the good or hurt of a vile, unworthy person, or a stranger. And therefore the Israelites might not take usury of a poor brother, which yet they might do of an alien of another land! The laws of nature and friendship may more oblige me to one than to another, though they were supposed equal in themselves. Therefore I am not bound to remit a debt or wrong to a thief, or deceiver, or a vile person, when a nearer or worthier person would be equally damnified by his benefit. And thus far, (if without any partial self-love a man can justly estimate himself,) he may not only as he is nearest himself, but also for his real worth, prefer his own commodity before the commodity of a more unworthy and unserviceable person.
5. Another man's necessities are more regardable than our own superfluities; as his life is more regardable than our corporal delights. Therefore it is a great sin for any man to reduce another to extremity, and deprive him of necessaries for his life, merely to vindicate his own right in super
fluities, for the satisfaction of his concupiscence and sensual desires. If a poor man steal to save his own or his children's lives, and the rich man vindicate his own, merely to live in greater fulness or gallantry in the world, he sinneth both the sin of sensuality and uncharitableness: (but how far for the common good he is bound to prosecute the thief as criminal, is a case which depends on other circumstances). And this is the most common case, in which the forgiving of debts and damages is required in Scripture, viz. When the other is poor and we are rich, and his necessities require it as an act of charity: (and also the former case, when the hurt by our vindication is like to be greater than our benefit will countervail).
Quest. 11. What is the meaning of those words of Christ, "Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: but I say unto you, that ye resist not evil; but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also; and if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also: and whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him two give to him that asketh thee; and from him that would borrow of thee turn thou not away a?"
Answ. The meaning of the text is this: as if he had said, Because you have heard that magistrates are required to do justice exactly between man and man, and to take an eye for an eye, &c., therefore you may perhaps believe those teachers who would persuade you, that for any man to exact this satisfaction is no fault: but I tell you that duties of charity must be performed, as well as justice must be done and though it be the magistrate's duty to do you this justice, it is not your duty always to require it, but charity may make the contrary to be your duty. Therefore I say unto you; overvalue not the concernments of your flesh, nor the trifles of this world, but if a man abuse you, or wrong you in these trifles, make no great matter of it, and be not presently inflamed to revenge, and to right yourselves; but exercise your patience and your charity to him that wrongeth you, and by a habituated stedfastness herein, be ready to receive another injury with equal patience, yea, many such, rather than to fly to an unnecessary vindication
a Matt. v. 38-42.
of your right. For what if he give you another stroke? Or what if he also take your cloak? Or what if he compel you to go another mile for him? Let him do it; let him take it; how small is your hurt! What inconsiderable things are these! Your resistance and vindication of your right may violate charity and peace, and inflame his passion, and kindle your own, and hurt both your souls, and draw you into other sins, and cost you dearer than your right was worth: whereas your patience, and yieldingness, and submission, and readiness to serve another, and to let go your own for peace and charity, may shame him, or melt him, and prevent contention, and keep your own and the public peace, and may shew the excellency of your holy religion, and win men's souls to the love of it, that they may be saved. Therefore instead of exacting or vindicating your utmost right, set light by your corporal sufferings and wrongs, and study and labour with all your power, to excel in charity, and to do good to all, and to stoop to any service to another, and humble yourselves, and exercise patience, and give and lend according to your abilities; and pretend not justice against the great duties of charity and patience." So that here is forbidden both violent and legal revenge for our corporal abuses, when the law of charity or patience is against it: but this disobligeth not magistrates to do justice, or men to seek it, in any of the cases mentioned in the seven first propositions.
Quest. 111. Am I bound to forgive another, if he ask me not forgiveness? The reason of the question is, because Christ saith, "If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him and if he repent, forgive him; and if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent, thou shalt forgive him"."
Answ. In the resolving of this, while some have barely affirmed, and others denied, for want of distinguishing, they have said worse than nothing. It is necessary that we distinguish,
1. Between the forgiving of an enemy, and of a stranger, and of a neighbour, and of a brother, as such.
2. Between the several penalties to be remitted (as well
as revenges to be forborne). And so briefly the case must be thus resolved.
Prop. 1. An enemy, a stranger and a neighbour, as such, must be forgiven (in the cases before asserted) though they ask not forgiveness, nor say, I repent: for,
1. Many other Scriptures absolutely require it.
2. And forgiving them as such, is but the continuing them in our common charity, as men or neighbours; that is, our not endeavouring to ruin them, or do them any hurt, and our hearty desiring and endeavouring their good, according to their capacities and ours; and thus far we must forgive them.
Prop. 11. A brother must be also thus far forgiven, though he say not, I repent; that is, we must love him as a man, and wish and endeavour his good to our power.
Prop. 111. A brother as a brother, is not to be so forgiven, as to be restored to our estimation, and affection, and usage of him as a brother, either in spiritual account, or intimate special love and familiarity, as long as he is impenitent in his gross offences; and that is, till he turn again and say, I repent. A natural brother is still to be loved as a natural brother. For that kind of love dependeth not on his honesty or repentance. But,
1. A brother in a religious sense.
2. Or a bosom, familiar friend, are both unfit for to be received in these capacities, till they are penitent for gross offences; therefore the church is not to pardon the impenitent, in point of communion, nor particular Christians to pardon them in their esteem and carriage; nor am I bound to take an unfit person to be my bosom friend to know my secrets; therefore if either of these offend, I must not forgive them, that is, by forgiveness continue them in the respect and usage of this brotherhood, till they repent; and this (first especially) is the brother mentioned in the text.
Quest. IV. 'Is it lawful to sue a brother at law? The reason of the question is, from the words of the apostle Paul, "There is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another: why do you not rather take wrong? Why do you not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?" Answ. 1. Distinguish betwixt going to law before hea
e 1 Cor. vi. 7.