’Tis the first sanction Nature gave to man,
Each other to assist in what they can;
Just or unjust, this law for ever stands;
All things are good by law which she commands;
The first step, man t’wards Christ must justly live,
Who t’us himself, and all we have, did give;
In vain doth man the name of just expect,
If his devotions he to God neglect;
So must we rev’rence God, as first to know 9
Justice from Him, not from ourselves, doth flow;
God those accepts who to mankind are friends,
Whose justice far as their own power extends;
In that they imitate the power Divine;
The sun alike on good and bad doth shine;
And he that doth no good, although no ill,
Does not the office of the just fulfil.
Virtue doth man to virtuous actions steer,
’Tis not enough that he should vice forbear;
We live not only for ourselves to care,
Whilst they that want it are denied their share. 20
Wise Plato said, the world with men was stored,
That succour each to other might afford;
Nor are those succours to one sort confined,
But sev’ral parts to sev’ral men consign’d;
He that of his own stores no part can give,
May with his counsel or his hands relieve.
If Fortune make thee powerful, give defence
’Gainst fraud and force, to naked innocence:
And when our Justice doth her tributes pay,
Method and order must direct the way. 30
First to our God we must with rev’rence bow;
The second honour to our prince we owe;
Next to wives, parents, children, fit respect,
And to our friends and kindred, we direct;
Then we must those who groan beneath the weight
Of age, disease, or want, commiserate.
’Mongst those whom honest lives can recommend,
Our Justice more compassion should extend;
To such, who thee in some distress did aid,
Thy debt of thanks with int’rest should be paid: 40
As Hesiod sings, spread waters o’er thy field,
And a most just and glad increase ’twill yield.
But yet take heed, lest doing good to one,
Mischief and wrong be to another done;
Such moderation with thy bounty join,
That thou may’st nothing give that is not thine;
That liberality’s but cast away,
Which makes us borrow what we cannot pay.
And no access to wealth let rapine bring;
Do nothing that’s unjust to be a king. 50
Justice must be from violence exempt,
But fraud’s her only object of contempt.
Fraud in the fox, force in the lion dwells;
But Justice both from human hearts expels;
But he’s the greatest monster (without doubt)
Who is a wolf within, a sheep without.
Nor only ill injurious actions are,
But evil words and slanders bear their share.
Truth Justice loves, and truth injustice fears,