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CHAPTER III.

OF CHRISTIAN JUSTICE.

Justice is, by the Christian religion, enjoined in all its parts by these two propositions in Scripture: “Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, even so do them.” This is the measure of commutative justice, or of that justice which supposes exchange of things profitable for things profitable: that as I supply your need you may supply mine; as I do a benefit to you, I may receive one by you. And because every man may be injured by another, therefore his security shall depend upon mine: if he will not let me be safe, he shall not be safe himself; (only the manner of his being punished is, upon great reason, both by God and all the world, taken from particulars, and committed to a public disinterested person, who will do justice, without passion, both to him and to me;) if he refuses to do me advantage, he shall receive none when his needs require it. And thus God gave necessities to man, that all men might need; and several abilities to several persons, that each man might help to supply the public needs, and, by joining to fill up all wants, they may be knit together by justice, as the parts of the world are by nature. And he hath made all obnoxious to injuries, and made every little thing strong enough to do us hurt by some instrument or other; and hath given us all a sufficient stock of self-love and desire of self-preservation, to be as the chain to tie together all the parts of society, and to restrain us from doing violence lest we be violently dealt withal ourselves.

The other part of justice is commonly called distributive, and is commanded in this rule, “Render to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. Owe no man any thing, but to love one another.”151151Rom. xiii 7. This justice is distinguished from the first; because the obligation depends not upon contract or express bargain, but passes upon us by virtue of some command of God or of our superior, by nature or by grace, by piety or religion, by trust or by office, according to that commandment — ‘As every man hath received the gift, so let him minister the same, one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.’1521521 Pet. iv. 10. And as the first considers an equality of persons in respect of the contract or particular necessity, this supposed a difference of persons, and no particular bargains, but such necessary intercourses as by the laws of God or man are introduced. But I shall reduce all the particulars of both kinds to these four heads: 1. Obedience; 2. Provision; 3. Negotiation; 4. Restitution.


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