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objection against the time present, for pute ting this duty in execution, but only that it is present; which will always be the case, whenever we shall come to disgorge our unjust gains; till at last we shall die in our impenitence, and shall consequently perilh in our iniquity.
Let us haften with the same zeal to restore that part of our poffeffions, if any such there be, which hath not been fairly come by, as we would to get so much when a seasonable opportunity offers, and then we shall need no other incitement. The opportunity of restoring is always at hand: Let us not pass it over from day to day, and from year to year ; whilst at the same time we catch at every shadow of advantage for acquiring.
My second motive is drawn from the principles of our common humanity, or love to our neighbour ; whom we are commanded to love even as ourselves. If we are moved with any tolerable degree of this affection, we shall not endure to behold him deprived of his right, or kept out of
his poffeffions, by other men's fraud or violence, without a fellow-feeling of his calamities, and a yearning of our bowels towards him; much less shall we ourselves be authors of such injustice to him. He is framed of the same materials with us; and in a few generations backwards is descended of the same stock. He hath as much a desire to live well and happy, as we have; and hath as much an aversion, if he could could prevent it, to be oppressed by force or stratagem. He wilheth, as much as ourselves, to enjoy his own, and hath as much right to it; at least, hath a much better right to keep it, than we have to take or with-hold it from him. And let us not measure unto him that usage, which we would think hard to receive from him in the like circumstances.
A THIRD motive may be urged from the principle of self-love; from a regard to ourselves, and our own peace of mind. As a clear conscience is the greatest happiness, which we are capable of here below; so a foul conscience is the most in
fufferable torment. And nothing can be more deplorable, save only the condition of that man who is hardened to an insené fibility, and hath filenced the rebukes of his own mind for his misdoings. But though he hath cast his conscience into a deep sleep for a time, yet may no man hope that it will not awake one day, and recoil terribly upon him. Yea, let not the unjust man wish that it may always sumber ; for then he is deprived of his most faithful, though it be a sedere friend and counsellor.
So that the unjuft man intangleth him. self in this fatal snare ; either that he shall endure intolerable anguish of mind, or else that he shall feel no remorse and be undone. But such is God's infinite mercy, that the unjust man seldom escapeth out of this world, without the horrors and alarms of his own conscience for his iniquities. The hour of affliction; or of fickness, is the time when it begins to be uneasy; and happy is it for him, if it can force him to discharge his unjust acquisitions, Especially at the approach of death, a man's conscience is busy and rest
less; and the less time there is remaining wherein to make restitution, so much the more is it pressing and importunate, and is not quelled but by the stroke of death. As therefore we love ourselves, let us remove the occasion of these troubles and sorrows; and create no occasion for the future.
My next motive shall be drawn from the principal of natural affe&tion, or love to our children and posterity. If we think it hard for ourselves to make restitution, let us not think it will be easier for those that come after us; since we find by experience, that the longer a thing is deferred, the more difficult it becomes. If we can be content to be for ever miserable ourselves, yet let us not contribute all that is in our power to render them so likewise. The goipel represents even the damned in hell, to be solicitous for the welfare of those to whom they are allied by blood or
Let us not entail misery upon those, on whom we have already entailed, a being. Vol. IV. Co
Let them have no fins to answer unto God for, but those of their own proper contracting. Let us not, by our neglect of performing this hard duty, ourselves, bring upon them fo dangerous a temptation and a snare; which will in as much probability, prevail over them, as it hath prevailed already over us, and will consequently bring them at length into the same place of torment: And fo will the plague, which began with us, defcend and diffuse itself, from generation to generation.
ANOTHER motive to quicken the praca sice of this duty, may be this; Perbaps it has been long deferred. Possibly this may seem, at first, an argument rather to the contrary, that since it hath not been done for so long a time, it may as well now be let alone, and the injury by length of time will be forgotten. And if God could forget it, this might be some plea. But a little reflection will satisfy us, that the longer restitution is deferred, the. greater is the fin. And although human laws, to prevent disorder and confusion,