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LORD knoweth how to reserve the unjust unto the Day of Judgment to be punished. 2 Pet. ii. 9.
There is yet another Sort of Iniquity to be taken Notice of, as inconsistent with that just and righteous Manner of Dealing with others, which the eighth Commandment obliges all Men to, viz, the Giving and Taking Bribes.
A Bribe is any Gift to another, to bias, or incline him to do something he ought not to do, or to omit doing something he ought to do.
And the righteous God, to prevent'all unjust Practices among Men, has strictly forbidden this Iniquity. In Exod. xxiii, 8. he has said, Thou shalt take no Gift: For the Grift blindeth the Wise, and perverteth the Words of the Righteous. It occasions Perfons to form a wrong Judgment, or to give an unjust Sentence in a Cause, or to pervert, or misinterpret the Words of the Righteous, with whom they have to do.
In Deu!. xvi. 18, 19, 20. the Holy God said to his People, Judges and Officers shalt thou make thee in all thy Gates which the Lard thy God giveth thee, throughout all thy Tribes : And they shall judge the People with jus Judgment. Thou shalt not wrejt Judgment ; thou shalt not respect Persons, neither take a. Gift: For a Gift doth blind the Eyes of the Wife, and pervert the Words (or Matters, as the Expresfion is translated in the Margin) of the Righteous. That which is altogether juft salt thou follow, that thou mayest live, and inberit the Land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. Which last Clause implies that by receiving Bribes, and not following that which is altogether just, they would provoke God by fome Stroke of Judgment to cut short their Lives.
In Prov. xvii. 23. it is said, A wicked Man taketh a Gift out of the Bofom (i. e. fecretly) to pervert the Ways of Judgment, signifying that he is a wicked Man indeed that receiveth a Bribe,
Thus wicked were Joel, and Abiab, the Sons of Samuel, whom he made Judges over Israel, they turned aside after Lucre, and took Bribes, and perverted Judgment, see i Sam. viii. 1, 2, 3.
And this Wickedness became general in the Days of the Prophet Isaiah, see Ifa. i. 23, 24. where it is written, Every one loveth Gifts, and followeth after Rewards : they judge not the Fatherless, neither doth the Cause of ihe Widow come unto them. Therefore, thus saith the Lord, the Lord of Hosts, the mighty one of Israel, Ah, I will ease me of mine Adversaries, and avenge me of mine Enemies.
This Declaration signifies, that such Sinners are Enemies to God, and that he will avenge himself of them; and that they have Reason to fear a Destruction from the Almighty, when he visits a Nation for Sin,
But gracious Promises are made to the Righteous, that maketh his Hands from holding of Bribes, for it is said, He shall dwell on bigh: His Place of Defence, shall be the Munition of Rocks, Bread shall be given bim, bis Waters shall be sure, Ifa. xxxiii. 15, 16. which Declarations import that altho’ Persons guilty of Bribery are obnoxious to the Miseries of a Day of God's Visitation for Sin, yet that the Righteous, who abhor the taking of Bribes, may hope for the divine Protection, and be provided for, and comforted in Times of publick Calamities.
Many Sins bring Guilt only on single Persons, but a Bribe is an accursed Thing, which pollutes two Persons, and renders them both guilty before God, and obnoxious to his Wrath, viz. the Giver and the Receiver of it, and the Nature of this Iniquity ought to be known to all Men, and abhorred by all Men. And the Action of the Giver, and the Action of the Receiver as to its Signification deserves ferious Notice,
The Intention of a Brive is to prevail with the Receiver of it, to do something in itself sinful, as for a Judge to pass an unrighteous Judgment on a Cause, or else to do something, which the Receiver apprehended to be sinful, and therefore was unlawful for him to do.
In both these Cases the Giver endeavours to corrupt the Receiver, and engage him to sin against the holy God, to wound his own Soul, and expose himself to eternal Damnation ; a dreadful Crime ! vile in its Nature, and destructive in its Consequences, both to him that gives, and him that takes the Bribe. A sad Matter to be considered by the Guilty; beside the Injury which may be brought on others by Means of a prevailing Bribe.
The Action of the Giver signifies that he is a Man of corrupt Principles, that he fears not God, has no Regard to his Glory, and the Pleasing him, nor to the Welfare and Salvation of the Soul of the Person whom he bribes; it signifies that he joins his Endeavours with the Devil's to ruin for ever the Person whom he has corrupted.
And the Action of the Receiver signifies, that he is destitute of a right, and good Principle, that he has yielded to, and been overcome by the Temptation, and that he has sold the Favour of God, and his Soul, and Salvation for the Price of the Bribe he has received.
Thefe Remarks have a like Foundation when a Bribe is given to prevail with any one not to do a Thing which the Law of God has made his Duty, or which he apprehends that God requires of him.
Both the Givers, and Receivers of Bribes, are Men of very corrupt Minds; and without sincere Repentance, and a thorough Reformation, they will never escape the Damnation of Hell, though they Thould be suffered to escape Punishment in this
These Things deserve the serious Confideration both of those, who at Elections of Members to serve in Parliament, give Bribes to engage Votes, and of those who receive them.
XIV. Persons who bear false Witness against others are another Sort of Sinners who have just Reason to fear Punishment when God visits a Nation for Sin.
These are Transgressors of the ninth Commandment, which says, Thou shalt not bear false Witness against tby Neighbour, Exod. xx. 16.
The Prohibition is not limited to the bearing false Witness against others on Trials in Courts of Judicature, altho' that is a most aggravated Kind of false Witness-Bearing, because of the Oath taken by Witnesses, wherein they appeal to God for the Truth of what they say falsely. But a Man's Reputation, and Livelihood may be ruin’d by false Witnesses that are never called before Magistrates.
A Man bears false Witness against his Neighbour, when he speaks that of another, which he knows to be false ; whether it be in a Way of Affirmation, or Negation ; whether he affirins of another that he spoke such Words, or did such Things, which he knows he did not; or denies his having spoken Words, which himself heard, or his doing Things which to his Knowledge the other really did.
All false Witnesses are Liars, and all Liars Mall have their part in tbe Lake which burnetb with Fire and Brimstone, as it is said in Rev. xxi. 8.
Wherefore (faith St. Paul) putting away Lying, Speck every Man Truth with his Neighbour : For we are Members one of another, Ephef. iv. 25,
A faithful Witness will not lie.: But a false Witness will utter Lies, it is said Prov. xiv. 5. and Verse 25. a true Witness delivere:h Souls, but a deceitful Witness Speaket b Lies.
In Prov. xix, 15. it is declared, He that justifieth the Wicked, and be that condemneth the Just, even they both are Abomination to the LORD.
The supreme Lawgiver says, Thou shalt not raise a false Report : Put not thine Hand with the Wicked to be an unrighteous Witness, Exod. xxiii. 1.
And in Prov, xix. 5. it is declared that, A false Witness fall not be unpunished, and be that speaketh Lies shall not escape. This Declaration shews, that thefe Sinners have Reason to expect Punishment in the Day of the Lord's Visitation for Sin.
The speaking falsely of others is a pernicious Practice; and the doing so as Witnesses in Courts of Judicature has brought innocent Persons to suffer Death for Crimes they never committed, and others to loose their Eftates, which were their just Property, or to loose their good Reputation, a Blessing more valuable than Life.
They who are guilty of this cruel Iniquity do not deal towards others, as they would have others to deal with thein.
They imitate their Father the Devil, who is the Accufer of the Bretbren, see Rev. xii. 9, 10.
And altho' they may for a while escape Punishment, the Day is coming when the righteous God will take Vengeance on them, when they shall neither be able to escape, nor able to bear his Wrath.
XV. Coverous Persons, are another Sort of Sinners marked by divine Threatnings for suffering Punishment in the Day of the Lord's Visitation for Sin.
These are Transgreffors of the tenth Commandment, which says, 'Thou shalt not covet thy Neighbour's House, thou shalt not covet thy Neighbour's Wife, nor his Man-Servant, nor bis Maid-servant, nor bis Ox, nor bis Afs, nor any Thing that is thy Neigh. bours, Exod. xx. 19.