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its being now allowed of, shews the corruption of the present times; and they who use it are no better than time-servers : so that you may with justice adopt the motto of the poet; Tempora mutantur, et nos mutamur in illis; As the times change, so change we.
As a minister of the gospel, I have a right to use my liberty, and to drop a word against a dishonest lawyer or any other dishonest man, and leave conscience to apply it. And, however censorious you may think me to be, this is no new opinion. One who probably knew more of law, and lawyers too, than ever I did, or perhaps ever shall, has gone beyond me, and left his judgment of the profession in general in a very singular epitaph, which I heartily recommend to your perusal, leaving you to make your own application. The epitaph alluded to may be seen in the buryingground of St. Pancras, to the following effect: This stone is inscribed to the memory of Mr. Thomas
Abbot, of Swaffham, in the county of Norfolk, Attorney at Law; who died lamented by his friends, (enemies he had none) after a painful and tedious illness, which he bore with the patience, resignation, and fortitude of a dying man. He departed this life August 16, Anno Domini 1762. Aged 48.
Here lieth one, (believe it if you can ;)
I think it is a pity that you introduce the scriptures into your empty harangue. You might have shot your bolts at me, and let the word of God alone; for it is but a parable in the mouth of a fool at best. “ Jonathan, David's uncle, was a counsellor, a wise man, and a scribe.” He might belong to David's privy-council, be a wise politician, and a secretary of state, and yet be destitute of that wisdom which makes a man wise to salvation. We read of God's taking the wise in their own craftiness, and carrying the counsel of the froward headlong. Graceless counsellors, however wise, instead of inheriting Solomon's better portion, are entitled to the worst : “ The wise [in Christ] shall inherit glory, but shame shall be the promotion of fools.” Ahithophel was one of David's counsellors, 1 Chron. xxvii. 33; "and the counsel which he counselled was as if a man had inquired at the oracle of God,” 2 Sam. xvi. 23. He was David's equal, his guide, and his acquaintance; with whom he took sweet counsel, and walked to the house of God: yet all this did not entitle him to glory; nor was his end like that of the perfect and the upright, which is peace.
There were scribes who were writers and expounders of the law of God; such as Ezra, who stood in a pulpit, and read, gave the sense, and caused his audience to understand the reading, Neh. viii. 4, 8. These were spiritual lawyers, who handled the weighty matters of the law, and carried on a holy suit between God and conscience. And there are such still, who are spiritual scribes,
instructed unto the kingdom of God; who bring forth things out of their treasures, new and old. These are scribes and wise men that the wisdom of God sends; who are to be persecuted by the wicked, that they may fill up the measure of their wickedness by doing it. These spiritual scribes handle the law of God lawfully, and the law of faith evangelically; and, by their life and doctrine, plunder the devil's kingdom, and are useful to souls, and of more value to Christ than many sparrows. But there are another sort of lawyers, who handle the laws pertaining to civil justice, and to personal right and property; such as Samuel's sons, who perverted justice and took bribes. These are men who sue at law, not to rescue souls from Satan, but to strip the bodies of men of their cloaks and coats; who judge for hire, and look for gain every one from his quarter; that prey upon the widow, and rob the fatherless; who cast truth down in the street, and forbid equity to shew her face; who turn judgment into wormwood, and the fruit of righteousness into hemlock. These sit at times in the gates of the city, watching for the prey as the spider in the web; who catch at every mite as she does at the fly; who fill their tables with spoil, and their bellies with plunder;
“ Let us fill ourselves with strong drink; and to-morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant.” These are the lawyers at whom the Saviour's wo is levelled; who judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked; who abuse their godlike office, as devils did their dignity and habitation; who are compared to a bowing wall and a tottering fence: therefore it is no wonder if they die like men, and fall like one of Satan's princes.
If you make a second appearance, do not come forth like Sanballat, an enemy in the bush; nor like Mr. Latitat; he lies hid. Shooting in secret may become you as a lawyer, but not as a hearer at the Lock. I am for plain dealing, but no friend to a cunning hunter. Mr. Latitat is not hid: I know where he lives, and his friend too; but wish no acquaintance with either.