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and glorious mercy, of God, sending out his emissaries to denounce war with designs of peace. A great Italian general, seeing the sudden death of Alfonsus, duke of Ferrara, kneeled down instantly, saying, " And shall not this sight make me religious?" Three and twenty thousand fell, in one night, in the Assyrian camp, who were all slain for fornication. And this so prodigious a judgment was recorded in Scripture for our example and affrightment, that we should not, with such freedom, entertain a crime which destroyed so numerous a body of men in the darkness of one evening. Fear, and modesty, and universal reformation, are the purposes of God's judgments upon us, or in our neighbourhood.
8. Fifthly Concerning judgments happening to a nation, or a church, the consideration is particular, because there are fewer capacities of making sins to become national than personal; and therefore, if we understand when a sin is national, we may the rather understand the meaning of God's hand, when he strikes a people. For national sins grow higher and higher, not merely according to the degree of the sin, or the intention alone, but according to the extension; according to its being national, so it is productive of more or less mischief to a kingdom. Customary iniquities amongst the people do then amount to the account of national sins, when they are of so universal practice as to take in well near every particular; such as was that of Sodom, not to leave "ten righteous" in all the country: and such were the sins of the old world, who left but " eight persons" to escape the angry baptism of the flood. And such was the murmur of the children of Israel, refusing to march up to Canaan at the commandment of God, they all murmured but Caleb and Joshua; and this God, in the case of the Amalekites, calls "the fulfilling of their sins," and a "filling up the measure of their iniquities." And hither also I reckon the defection of the ten tribes from the house of Judah, and the Samaritan schism: these caused the total extirpation of the offending people. For although these sins were personal and private
• Fœcunda culpæ secula nuptias
Primùm inquinavere, et genus, et domos.
Hoc fonte derivata clades
In patriam populumque fluxit. - Hor. lib. iii. Od. 6.
at first, yet, when they come to be universal, by diffusion and dissemination, and the good people remaining among them are but like drops of wine in a tun of water, of no consideration with God, save only to the preservation" of their own persons P;" then, although the persons be private, yet all private or singular persons make the nation. But this hath happened but seldom in Christianity: I think indeed never, except in the case of mutinies and rebellion against their lawful prince, or the attesting violence done in unjust wars. But God only knows, and no man can say, that any sin is national by diffusion; and therefore, in this case, we cannot make any certain judgment or advantage to ourselves, or very rarely, by observing the changes of Providence upon a people.
9. But the next above this, in order to the procuring popular judgments, is public impunities, the not doing justice upon criminals publicly complained of and demanded, especially when the persons interested call for justice, and execution of good laws, and the prince's arm is at liberty and in full strength, and there is no contrary reason, in the particular instance, to make compensation to the public for the omission, or no care taken to satisfy the particular. Abimelech thought he had reason to be angry with Isaac, for saying Rebecca was his sister; for "one of the people might have lain with thy wife, and thou shouldst have brought evil upon us:" meaning, that the man should have escaped unpunished, by reason of the mistake, which very impunity he feared might be expounded to be a countenance and encouragement to the sin. But this was no more than his fear. The case of the Benjamites comes home to this present article; for they refused to do justice upon the men, that had ravished and killed the Levite's concubine: they lost twenty-five thousand in battle, their cities were destroyed, and the whole tribe almost extinguished. For punishing public and great acts of injustice is called, in Scripture, "putting away the evil from the land ;" because, to this purpose, the sword is put into the prince's hand, and he "bears the sword in vain," who ceases to protect his people: and not to punish the evil is a voluntary retention of it, unless a special case
P Ezek. xiv. 20.
9. Deut. xvii. 12. xix. 13, 19. xxi. 9, 21, et alibi.
intervene, in which the prince thinks it convenient to give a particular pardon; provided this be not encouragement to others, nor without great reason, big enough to make compensation for the particular omission, and, with care, to render some other satisfaction to the person injured in all other cases of impunity, that sin becomes national by forbearing, which, in the acting, was personal; and it is certain the impunity is a spring of universal evils, it is no thank to the public, if the best man be not as bad as the worst.
10. But there is a step beyond this, and of a more public concernment: such are the " laws of Omri," when a nation consents to, and makes ungodly statutes; when "mischief is established as a law," then the nation is engaged to some purpose. When I see the people despise their governors, scorn, and rob, and disadvantage the ministers of religion, make rude addresses to God, to his temple, to his sacraments; I look upon it as the insolence of an untaught people, who would as readily do the contrary, if the fear of God and the king were upon them by good examples, and precepts, and laws, and severe executions. And farther yet, when the more public and exemplar persons are without sense of religion, without a dread of majesty, without reverence to the church, without impresses of conscience and the tendernesses of a religious fear towards God; as the persons are greater in estimation of law, and in their influences upon the people, so the score of the nation advances, and there is more to be paid for in popular judgments. But when iniquity or irreligion is made a sanction, and either God must be dishonoured, or the church exauthorated, or her rites invaded by a law; then the fortune of the kingdom is at stake. No sin engages a nation so much, or is so public, so solemn iniquity, as is a wicked law. Therefore, it concerns princes and states to secure the piety and innocency of their laws: and if there be any evil laws, which, upon just grounds, may be thought productive of God's anger, because a public misdemeanour cannot be expiated but
Fatalis incestusque Judex,
Et mulier peregrina vertit
In pulverem, ex quo destituit Deos
Mercede pactà Laomedon. Hor. lib. iii. Od. 3.
by a public act of repentance, or a public calamity, the laws must either have their edge abated by a desuetude, or be laid asleep by a non-execution, or dismembered by contrary provisoes, or have the sting drawn forth by interpretation, or else, by abrogation, be quite rescinded. But these are national sins within itself, or within its own body, by the act of the body (I mean) diffusive or representative, and they are like the personal sins of men in or against their own bodies, in the matter of sobriety. There are others in the matter of justice, as the nation relates to other people communicating in public intercourse.
11. For, as the intercourse between man and man, in the actions of commutative and distributive justice, is the proper matter of virtues and vices personal; so are the transactions between nation and nation, against the public rules of justice, sins national directly, and in their first original, and answer to injustice between man and man. Such are commencing war upon unjust titles, invasion of neighbours' territories, confederacies and aids upon tyrannical interest, wars against true religion or sovereignty, violation of the laws of nations, which they have consented to as the public instrument of accord and negotiation, breach of public faith, defending pirates, and the like. When a public judgment comes upon a nation, these things are to be thought upon, that we may not think ourselves acquitted by crying out against swearing, and drunkenness, and cheating in manufactures, which, unless they be of universal dissemination, and made national by diffusion, are paid for upon a personal score; and the private infelicities of our lives will either expiate or punish them severely. But while the people mourn for those sins of which their low condition is capable, sins that may produce a popular fever, or, perhaps, the plague, where the misery dwells in cottages, and the princes often have indemnity, as it was in the case of David: yet we may not hope to appease a war, to master a rebellion, to cure the public distemperatures of a kingdom, which threaten not the people only, or the governors also, but even the government itself, unless the sins of a more public capacity be cut off by public declarations, or other acts of national justice and religion. But the duty which concerns us, in all such cases, is, that every man, in every capacity,
should inquire into himself, and for his own portion of the calamity, put in his own symbol of emendation for his particular, and his prayers for the public interest: in which it is not safe that any private persons should descend to particular censures of the crimes of princes and states, no, not towards God, unless the matter be notorious, and past a question; but it is a sufficient assoilment of this part of his duty, if, when he hath set his own house in order, he would pray with indefinite significations of his charity and care of the public, that God would put it into the hearts of all whom it concerns, to endeavour the removal of the sin, that hath brought the exterminating angel upon the nation. But yet there are, sometimes, great lines drawn by God, in the expresses of his anger, in some judgments upon a nation; and, when the judgment is of that danger as to invade the very constitution of a kingdom, the proportions that judgments many times keep to their sins, intimate that there is some national sin, in which, either by diffusion or representation, or in the direct matter of sins, as false oaths, unjust wars, wicked confederacies, or ungodly laws, the nation, in the public capacity, is delinquent.
12. For as the nation hath, in sins, a capacity distinct from the sins of all the people, inasmuch as the nation is united in one head, guarded by a distinct and a higher angel, as Persia by St. Michael, transacts affairs in a public right, transmits influence to all particulars from a common fountain, and hath intercourse with other collective bodies, who also distinguish from their own particulars: so, likewise, it hath punishments distinct from those infelicities which vex particulars, punishments proportionable to itself, and to its own sins; such as are changes of governments, of better into worse, of monarchy into aristocracy, and so to the lowest ebb of democracy; death of princes, infant kings, foreign invasions, civil wars, a disputable title to the crown, making a nation tributary, conquest by a foreigner, and, which is worst of all, removing the candlestick from a people, by extinction of the church, or that which is necessary to its conservation, the several orders and ministries of religion: and the last hath also proper sins of its own analogy; such as are false articles in the public confessions of a church, schism from the catholic, public scandals, a general vicious