Obrazy na stronie

able to restore, be concluded in such a desperate estate as I have mentioned before? No, God forbid!Sol. If in such circumstances a man shall be unfeignedly sorry for his misdeeds, and withal resolve, if God shall hereafter bless him with abilities, to make restitution, our merciful God will accept of that good inclination of his heart, as if he had perfectly satisfied and restored to each man his due for, without all question, God will never condemn any man because he is not rich.

40. Obj. 3. If it shall be again questioned, and the supposition made, that a man (for example, a tradesman) cannot possibly call to remembrance each particular man's name, whom he hath wronged, (as, indeed, it is almost impossible he should) what advice shall he take in such a case?— Sol. I answer, that he must in this case consider, that by this sin he hath not only wronged his neighbour, but God also; therefore, since he cannot find out the one, let him repay it to the other. Let him be so charitable, and do that kindness to God, as to bestow it in alms upon his poor servants; or, since God himself is grown so poor and needy (especially in this kingdom) that he hath not means enough to repair his own houses, nor scarce to make them habitable, he may do well to rescue God's churches from being habitations of beasts, and stables for cattle; or, lastly, which more concerns you, since God is here grown so much out of purse, that he has not means enough to pay his own servants' wages equal to the meanest of your household servants, let not them any longer be the mocking-stocks of those Canaanites, your enemies, that so swarm in your land. Here is a subject fit indeed for your charity:

and a miserable case it is, God knows, that they should be the persons, who of all conditions of men stand in greatest need of your mercy and charity.

41. Oh! but will some men say, we have found now at what the preacher aimeth: all this ado about restitution is only to enrich the clergy. If such thoughts and jealousies as these arise in your hearts (as I know by experience it is no unlikely thing they should) O then, I beseech you, for the mercies of God, consider in what a miserable state the church must needs be, when the most likely course to keep the ministers of God from starving, must be your sins: when those, to whom you have committed your souls in trust, as they that must give God an account for them, shall through want and penury be rendered so heartless, and low-spirited, that for fear of your anger, and danger of starving, they shall not dare to interrupt or hinder you, when you run headlong in the paths that lead you to destruction: when, out of faintheartedness, they shall not dare to take notice, no, not of the most scandalous sins of their patrons; but, which is worst, be the most forward, officious parasites to sooth them in their crimes, and cry peace unto them, when God and their own consciences tell them, that they are utter strangers from it, and neither do, nor are ever likely to know, the ways of peace. Lastly, when these messengers of God shall be the most ready to tell you, that those possessions and tithes, which have been wrested out of God's hands, are none of God's due; that they are none of the church's patrimony; that their right is nothing but your voluntary alms and charitable benevolence; and that they shall think themselves sufficiently and liberally

dealt withal, if you shall account them worthy to be the companions of the basest and meanest of your servants. I could almost be silent in this cause, did not our enemies in Gath know of it, and if it were not published in the streets of Askalon; insomuch, that you have given cause to the enemies of God to blaspheme our glorious and undefiled religion.

42. I will conclude this doctrine of restitution, most necessary certainly to be prosecuted in these times, only with proposing to your considerations two motives, which in all reason ought to persuade you to the practice of it: the one shall be, that you would do it for your own sakes; the other, for your children's sake. For the former, though I could never be scanted of arguments sufficient to enforce it, though I should make it the subject of my sermons to my life's end; yet because I perceive it is time for me to hasten to your release, I will only desire you to remember how much I have told you already, that this doctrine concerns you, since it is impossible for any man, while he is guilty of the breach of this duty, to put in practice even the most necessary and indispensable precepts of the Christian religion.

43. But concerning the second motive, which I desire should induce to the practice of restitution, namely, that you should be persuaded to it even for your children's sake, I beseech you, take this seriously into your consideration: that whereas it may be you may think, that by heaping wealth, howsoever purchased, upon your heirs, you shall sufficiently provide for them against all casualties; yet that God also hath his treasures in store to countervail yours, and to provide so,

that your heirs shall take but little content, God knows, in all their abundance: for, as it is in Job xx. 8. "God will lay up the iniquity of sinners for their children;" i. e. he will not satisfy himself with wreaking vengeance of other men's wrongs upon your heads, that have done them, but will take care, also, that your children shall be no gainers by the bargain: therefore, as you desire the welfare of those, for whose sake especially you dare adventure to hazard your own souls, bequeath not to them for a legacy a canker and moth, that will assuredly consume and devour all your riches: take pity of those poor souls, who are nothing interested, in their own persons, in those crimes, wherewith their wealth was purchased, and leave not unto them a curse from God upon their inheritance. But I see I must be forced even abruptly to break from this argument of restitution: I come, therefore, briefly, to my last particular, namely, the excess and extraordinary measure of Zaccheus's restitution, which he professeth shall be fourfold, to be dispatched in one word.

44. However, I found it something a hard task, to clear my first particular of confession from the danger and neighbourhood of popery; yet I fear that, in most men's opinions, it will prove more difficult to do as much for this: for here is an action performed by Zaccheus (namely, fourfold restitution), without all question good and acceptable to God, and yet not enjoined by virtue of any commandment; and what is that but plain popish supererogation? For the judicial law of restoring fourfold, is only in strictness and propriety applicable to plain, direct stealing.

45. Sol. I confess, that some particular men, for fear of this consequence, have thought themselves obliged to dissent not only from St. Paul's distinction of counsels from precepts in the gospel, but also from the general, uniform consent of all antiquity; whereas, if we shall well consider it, they have feared where no fear was: for our churches never condemned that distinction, as if there were danger from thence of making way for popery; but this is that abomination of more than pharisaical, self-justifying pride in the church of Rome, that upon so weak a foundation they have most inartificially erected their Babel of supererogation, whereby they teach, that they can, not only through the whole course of their lives, exactly perform all the commandments of God, without offending in any one mortal sin; by this means challenging at God's hands remission of their sins, and everlasting salvation for themselves; but also by their voluntary, unrequired obedience unto evangelical counsels, leave God in arrearages unto them, and make an extraordinary stock of merits, which shall be left unto the pope's care and providence to manage and dispense to any man's use for ready money. This is that doctrine, which the church of England, in express words, most worthily professeth a detestation unto, in their fourteenth article, which hath been transcribed into the five-and-fortieth of this church. And yet, for all this, neither of these churches has any quarrel to that distinction of St. Paul, when, speaking of voluntary chastity, he saith, *"I have received no such commandment from

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