The complete works of Thomas Brooks
by Thomas Brooks
- Login or register to forward title to your Kindle or delivery email
- download the converted book to your desktop.
- Enter rr2.mobi/bG8 in your Kindle browser to download
- Click on cover to see Google Books preview
1 Of the Guild of Merchant Tailors: son of John Turner of Kirk-Leedham in Cleveland, Yorkshire. See Herbert's History of the Companies, ii. 426. This admirable magistrate won the praise of Richard Baxter: Eeliquire Baxterianse, «. n.—O.
Certainly rulers have no better friends than such as make conscience of their ways; for none can be truly loyal but such as are truly religious. Witness Moses, Joseph, Daniel, and the three children.1 Sincere Christians are as lambs amongst lions, as sheep amongst wolves, as lilies amongst thorns. They are exposed more to the rage, wrath, and malice of wicked men, by reason of their holy profession, their gracious principles and practices, than any other men in all the world. Now did not God raise up magistrates, and spirit magistrates, to own them, to stand by them, and to defend them in all honest and just ways, how soon would they be devoured and destroyed! Certainly the sword of the magistrate is to be drawn forth for the natural good, and civil good, and moral good, and spiritual good, of all that live soberly and quietly under it. Stobseus2 tells us of a Persian law, that after the death of their king every man had five days' liberty to do what he pleased, that by beholding the wickedness and disorder of those few days, they might prize government the better all their days after. Certainly had some hot-headed, and little-witted, and fierce-spirited men had but two or three days' liberty to have done what they pleased in this great city during your lordship's mayoralty, they would have made sad work in the midst of us. When a righteous government fails, then (1.) Order fails; (2.) Religion fails; (3.) Trade fails; (4.) Justice fails; (5.) Prosperity fails; (6.) Strength and power fails; (7.) Fame and honour fails; (8.) Wealth and riches fails; (9.) Peace and quiet fails; (10.) All human converse and society fails. To take a righteous government out of the world, is to take the sun out of the firmament, and leave it no more a Koa-p.ot, a beautiful structure, but a \ao<;, a confused heap. In such towns, cities, and kingdoms where righteous government fails, there every man's hand will be quickly engaged against his brother, Gen. xxvi. 12. Oh the sins, the sorrows, the desolations, and destructions that will unavoidably break in like a flood upon such a people 1
Public persons should have public spirits; their gifts and goodness should diffuse themselves for the good of the whole. It is a base and ignoble spirit to pity Cataline more than to pity Rome, to pity any particular sort of men more than to pity the whole. It is cruelty to the good to justify the bad; it is wrong to the sheep to animate the wolves; it is danger, if not death, to the lambs not to restrain or chain up the lions; but, Sir, from this ignoble spirit God has delivered you. The ancients were wont to place the statues of their princes by their fountains, intimating that they were, or at least should be, fountains of the public good. Sir, had not you been such a fountain, men would never have been so warm for your continuance. My Lord, the great God hath made you a Koivov ayadbv, a public good, a public blessing; and this hath made your name precious, and your government desirable, and ydur person honourable in the thoughts; hearts, and eyes of all people.1 Many—may I not say most?—of the rulers of this world are, as Pliny speaks of the Roman emperors, Nomine dii^ naiurd diaboli, Monsters, not men; murderers, not magistrates. Such a monster was Saul, who hunted David as a partridge, slew the inno* cent priests of the Lord, ran to a witch, and who was a man of so narrow a soul that he knew not how to look or live above himself, his own interests and concernments. The great care of every magistrate should be to promote the public interest more than their own, as you may see by comparing the scriptures in the margin together.2 It was C'jesar's high commendation, that he never had himself after the world had him for a governor; his mind was so set on the public, that he forgot his own private affairs. The stars have their brightness, not for themselves, but for the use of others. The application is easy.
1 The three things which God minds most, and loves best below heaven, are his truth, his worship, and his people.
1 Stobwus, serm. xlii. p. 294. [i.e., his Florileginm or Sermones. otherwise X«7<o*.—0.]
My Lord, several philosophers have made excellent and elegant orations in the praise of justice. They say that all virtues are comprehended in the distribution of justice.3 Justice, saith Aristotle, is a synopsis and epitome of all virtues. All I shall say is this, the world is a ring, and justice is the diamond in that ring) the world is a body, and justice is the soul of that body. It is well known that the constitution of a man's body is best known by his pulse: if it stir not at all, then we know he is dead; if it stir violently, then we know him to be in a fever; if it keep an equal stroke, then we know he is sound, well, and whole. So the estate and constitution of a city, kingdom, or commonweal is best known by the manner of executing justice therein; for justice is the pulse of a city, kingdom, or commonweal. If justice be violent, then the city, kingdom, or commonweal is in a fever, in a very bad estate; if it stir not at all, then the city, kingdom, or commonwealth is dead • but if it hath an equal stroke, if it be justly and duly administered, then the city, kingdom, or commonweal is in a good, a safe, and a sound condition. When Vespasian asked Apollonius what was the cause of Nero's ruin, he answered, that Nero could tune the harp well, but in government he did always wind up the strings too high or let them down too low. Extremes in government are the ready way to ruin all. The Romans had their rods for lesser faults, and their axe for capital crimes. Extreme right often proves extreme wrong. He that will always go to the utmost of what the law allows, will too too often do more than the law requires. A rigid severity often mars all. Equity is still to be preferred before extremity. To inflict great penalties and heavy censures for light offences, this is to kill a fly upon a man's forehead with a beetle.1 The great God hath put his own name upon magistrates: Ps. Ixxxii. 6, ' I said that ye are gods.' Yet it must be granted that you are gods in a smaller letter: mortal gods—gods that must die like men. All the sons of Ish are sons of Adam. Magistrates must do justice impartially;' for as they are called gods, so in this they must be like to God, who is no accepter of persons, Deut. i. 17; Lev. xix. 15. He accepts not of the rich man because of his robes, neither doth he reject the poor man because of his rags. The magistrates' eyes are to be always upon causes, and not upon persons. Both the statues of the Theban judges and the statues of the Egyptian judges were made without hands and without eyes, to intimate to us that, as judges should have no hands to receive bribes, so they should have no eyes to see a friend from a foe, or a brother from a stranger, in judgment. 2 And it was the oath of the heathen judges, as the orator relates, Avdtilm accusatorem el reum sine qffeclitrus, et personarum respectione: I will hear the plaintiff and the defendant with an equal mind, without affection and respect of persons. In the twelfth Novel of Justinian you may read of an oath imposed upon judges and justices against inclining or addicting themselves to either party; yea, they put themselves under a deep and bitter execration and curse in case of partiality, imploring God in such language as this: 'Let me have my part with Judas, and let the leprosy of Gehazi cleave to me, and the trembling of Cain come upon me, and whatsoever else may astonish and dismay a man, if I am partial in the administration of justice.' The poet in the Greek epigram taught the silver axe of justice that was carried before the Roman magistrates to proclaim, ' If thou be an offender, let not the silver flatter thee; if an innocent, let not the axe affright thee.' The Athenian judges judged in the night, when the faces of men could not be seen, that so they might be impartial in judgment. My Lord, your impartiality in the administration of justice in that high orb wherein divine providence hath placed you, is one of those great things that hath made you high and honourable in the eyes and hearts of all that are true lovers of impartial justice. Some writers say, that some waters in Macedonia, being drunk by black sheep, change their fleece into white. Nothing but the pure and impartial administration of justice and judgment can transform black-mouthed, black-handed, and black-hearted men into white. There is nothing that sweetens, satisfies, and silences all sorts of men like the administration of impartial justice. The want of this brought desolation upon Jerusalem and the whole land of Jewry, Isa. i. 23, 24, and upon many other flourishing kingdoms and countries, as all know that have but read anything of Scripture or history. St Austin plainly denies that ever the Roman polity could be called properly a commonwealth, upon this ground, that Ubi non est justitia, nan est republica. He calls1 commonwealths without justice but magnet, latrocinia; or in Lipsius his language, congeries, confusio, turba.J It is but an abuse of the word respublica—commonwealth—where the public good is not consulted by an impartial justice and equity; it is but a confused heap, a rout of men; or if we will call it so at present, it will not be so long without impartial justice, partly because injustice and oppression makes the multitude tumultuous, and nils the people's heads with dangerous designs, as you may see by comparing the scriptures in the margin together;2 and partly because it lays a nation open and obnoxious to the wrath and vengeance of God, as might easily be made good by scores of scriptures. Impartial justice is the best establishment of kingdoms and commonwealths. 'The king by judgment establisheth the land,' Prov. xxix. 4: see Num. xxv. 11; 2 Sam. xxi. 14, It ia the best security against desolating judgments, 'Eun ye through the streets of Jerusalem, and seek in the broad places thereof, if ye can find a man, if there be any that executeth judgment, and I will pardon it/ Jer. v. 1.