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mentioned in a literal sense, and therefore said, Lord, here are two swords ; fo Christ answered them in the same kind of language as before, and said, it is cnough; that is, two swords were enough, because there would be no use nor place for any. Had Christ's person been to have been defended in the use of swords, and by his disciples repelling force with force, then two swords would have been a great deal too little for them, to have defended themselves and their master against the multitude, who were come with fwords and staves to take him. And when one of these swords had been used, in cutting off the ear of a servant of the high-priest, Christ sharply rebuked him that used it, and condemned the use of it. Matthew xxvi.
52. Put up again thy sword into his place ; for all they that take the sword, Mall perish with the fword. Christ here reproved and condemned the use of the sword, and, perhaps, all refistance of evil, (consonant to what he had before taught his disciples) in the same kind of language with which murder had been reproved and condemned. Genesis ix. 6. Whofo Meddeth man's blood, hy mian Jhall bis blood be shed. All they that take the sword, mall perish with the sword. What I observe
is, that if God's will is changeable, with regard to men's behaviour one to another, as in the inftance above, whilst the natures, relations, and circumstances of men and things continue the fame ; then such change must be grounded on arbitrary pleasure, and sometimes, not only without, but against reason ; and if that is the case in one instance, then it may be so in any other; and as such change may possibly take place without our having any notice thereof, so it must always be
very zincertain what the will of the Lord is.
But farther, as some of Christ's laws have a peculiarity in them, being different from the laws given by all other law-givers ; fo from hence, Christ's Disciples, or, at least, some of those who pretend to be such, have taken occasion to boast, that christian morals are more excellent and perfect than any other system of morals that hath been exhibited to men; that the morals, or rules of life, given by heathen philosophers and the wisest of men in all ages, have fallen greatly short, in point of excellency and perfection to christian morals. Whether this is the case, or not, will best appear by an examination of fame particulars ; only it is to be
premised, that such rules of life, when complied with, as contribute most to the publick good, I think, are to be deemed more exceltent and perfeet, than those which come in conpetition with them. And, first, let us begin with the precept before-mentioned, viz.the universal 110n-resistance of evil, put in competition with that equal resistance and retaliation of injuries appointed by Moses's law, or any other civilconstitution ; and then the question will be, whether an universal non-resistance of evil, or whether a proper universal resistance and retaliation of it, taking mankind as they are, will contribute most to human happiness? If the former be the case, then it gives it for christian morals; but if the latter be the case, then it gives it against christian morals; that is, if resistance and retaliation of injury, when properly administered, will contribute more to the fafety and happiness of mankind, than a total non-resistance of it, then christian morals are less excellent and perfect, in this instance, than thosemorals that stand in competitionwiththem.
AGAIN, Christ faith, Matthew v. 33. re have heard that it bath been said by then of old time, or ye may have read, Leviticus xix. 12. Numbers xxx.2. Thou shalt not for swear
thyself, but salt perform unto the Lord thine Oaths. Under the dispensation of Mofes, when a dispute arose betwixt neighbour and neighbour, and no witness could be brought, to shew or prove on which side of the question truth and right lay ; then the law directed, that the defendant, or party accused, thould vindicate himself by his own testimony, as no proof could be brought against him ; which testimony was to be given upon oath, and that was to end the strife ; only it was required and expected, that the person swearing should not forfwear himself, but should perform to the Lord his oath, the Lord being, in some sense, made a party in the cause. And sometimes, likewise, a person voluntarily charged himself, upon oath, to do what otherwise he was not obliged to do; in which case, tho' antecedent to his oath he wås free, yet when he had bound his soul with this bond, then it was required and expected, that he should make good his vow, or perform to the Lord his oath ; this was the swearing that was allowed and appointed of old time, or under the dispensation of Moses. As to idle and profane swearing, in common conversation, it is quite out of the question, as no such
thing was allowed, or had been appointed, nor indeed does the case suppose it, or admit it ; because all such swearers, of whom it was required and expected they should not forswear themselves, but perform to the Lord * their oaths, these do not come under the denomination of idle and prophane, but religious swearers. But then, tho' such religious swearing was allowed, and appointed
by * An Oath, I apprehend to be this, viz. A Person when going to deliver his teftimoniy, with relation to any thing, action, or fact, whether he be required, or voluntary, in order to obtain credit to that testimony, lie professes that he has then upon his mind a sense of the presence of God, as an omniscient, omnipotent, and a most righteous being ; which sense of the divine presence is supposed to have such a commanding and restraining influence apon the testifier, as to engage him to declare nothing more or less than the naked truth; and this circumstance, viz. the testifier profesing that he has upon his mind a sense of God's presence when he gives his testimony, is supposed to add weight to that testimony, and to render it more worthy of credit than without it it would be. And tho', in this case, God is a witness to what is teftified, whether it be true, or false ; yet he is not made, nor constituted to be such, by any declaration, appeal, or act of the testifier or others, because he muft of necessity be such a witness, whether the testifier will or no, and whether he be declared, be appealed to, be called upon to be so, or not. The professed sense of God's presence, upon the mind of the testifier, is shewn forth, either by some mode of speech, such as by God, before God; or as in the presence of God; or else by some action, or actions deputed for that purpose, such as the laying the hand upon, and kiling a book, as in courts of justice among us. This, I apprehend, is what constitutes an oath or swearing; and thus far the Deity may be said to be a party in the cause.