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which you gain unlawfully.' The reckoning time is yet to come. Either you will truly repent or not; if you do, it must cost you remorse and sorrow, and shameful confession, and restitution of all that you have got amiss; and is it not better forbear to swallow that morsel, which must come up again with heart-breaking grief and shame? But if you repent not unfeignedly, it will be your damnation; it will be opened in judgment to your perpetual confusion, and you must pay dear for all your gain in hell. Never look upon the gain therefore, without the shame and damnation that must follow.. If Achan had foreseen the stones, and Gebazi the leprosy, and Ahab the mortal arrow, and Jezebel the licking of her blood by dogs, and Judas the hanging or precipitation, and Ananias and Sapphira the sudden death, or any of them the after misery, it might have kept them from their pernicious gain. Usually even in this life, a curse attendeth that which is ill-gotten, and bringeth fire among all the rest.
Direct. x. . If you are poor, consider well of the mercy which that condition may bring you, and let it be your study how to get it sanctified to your good.' If men understood and believed that God doth dispose of all for the best, and make them poor to do them good, and considered what that good is which poverty may do them, and made it their chief care to turn it thus to their gain, they would not find it só intolerable a thing, as to seek to cure it by fraud or thievery. Think what a mercy it is, that you are saved from those temptations to overlove the world, which the rich are undone by! And that you are not under those temptations to intemperance, and excess, and pride as they are. And that
you have such powerful helps for the mortification of the flesh, and victory over the deceiving world! Improve your poverty, and you will escape these sins.
Direct. xi. 'If you are but willing to escape this sin, you may easily do it by a free confession to those whom you have wronged, or are tempted to wrong.' He that is not willing to forbear his sin, is guilty before God, though he do forbear it. But if you are truly willing, it is easy to abstain. Do not say, that you are willing till necessity pincheth you, or you see the bait: for if you are so, you may easily prevent it, at that time when you are willing. If
ever you are willing indeed, take that opportunity, and if you have wronged any man, go and confess it to him, (in the manner I shall afterwards direct). And this will easily prevent it: for shame will engage you, and self-preservation will engage him to take more heed of you. Or if you have not yet wronged any, but are strongly tempted to it, if you have no other sufficient remedy, go tell him, or some other fit person, that you are tempted to steal and to deceive in such or such a manner, and desire them not to trust you. If you think the shame of such a confession too dear a price to save you from the sin, pretend no more that you are truly willing to forbear it, or that ever you did unfeignedly repent of it.
Tit. 2. Certain Cases of Conscience about Theft and Injury.
Quest. 1. • Is it a sin for a man to steal in absolute necessity, when it is merely to save his life?
Answ. The case is very hard. I shall, I. Tell you so much as is past controversy, and then speak to the controverted part. 1. If all unquestionable means be not first used, it is undoubtedly a sin. If either labouring or begging will save our lives, it is unlawful to steal. Yea, or if any others may be used to intercede for us. Otherwise it is not stealing to save a man's life, but stealing to save his labour, or to gratify his pride and save his honour. 2. It is undoubtedly a sin if the saving of our lives by it, do bring a greater hurt to the commonwealth or other men, than our lives are worth. 3. And it is a sin if it deprive the owner of his life, he being a person more worthy and useful to the common good. These cases are no matter of controversy.
4. And it is agreed of, that no man may steal beforehand out of a distrustful fear of want. 5. Orif he take more than is of necessity to save his life. These cases also are put as out of controversy.
But whether in an innocent, absolute necessity it be lawful to steal so much as is merely sufficient to save one's life, is a thing that casuists are not agreed on. They that think it lawful, say that the preservation of life is a natural duty, and preservation of propriety is but a subservient thing which must give place to it. So Amesius de Conscient. lib. v. cap.
50. maketh it one case of lawful taking that which is another's, ' Si irrationabiliter censeatur dominus invitus : ut in eis quæ accipit aliquis ex alieno ad extremam et præsentem suam necessitatem sublevandam, cui alia ratione succurrere non potest. Hoc enim videtur esse ex jure naturali, divisione rerum antiquiore et superiore; quod jure humano quo facta est divisio rerum non potuit abrogari : Quo sensu non male dicitur, omnia fieri communia in extrema necessitate.'
On the other side, those that deny it say, that the same God that hath bid us preserve our lives, hath appointed propriety, and forbidden us to steal, without excepting a case of necessity, and therefore hath made it simply evil, which we may not do for the procurement of any good : and the saving of a man's life will not prove so great a good, as the breaking of God's law will be an evil.
For the true determining of this case, we must distinguish of persons, places, and occasions. 1. Between those whose lives are needful to the public good and safety, and those that are not of any such concernment. 2. Between those that are in an enemy's or a strange country, and those that are in their own. 3. Between those that are in a commonwealth, and those that are either in a community, or among people not embodied or conjoined. 4. Between those that take but that which the refuser was bound to give them, and those that take that which he was not bound to give them. And so I answer,
1. Whensoever the preservation of the life of the taker, is not in open probability, like to be more serviceable to the common good, than the violation of the right of propriety will be hurtful, the taking of another man's goods is sinful, though it be only to save the taker's life. For the common good is to be preferred before the good of any individual.
2. In ordinary cases, the saving of a man's life will not do so much good, as his stealing will do hurt. Because the lives of ordinary persons are of no great concernment to the common good : and the violation of the laws may encourage the poor to turn thieves, to the loss of the estates and lives of others, and the overthrow of peace and order. Therefore ordinarily it is a duty, rather to die, than take another man's goods against his will, or without his consent. --- 3. But in case that the common good doth apparently
more require the preservation of the person's life, than the preservation of propriety and the keeping of the law in that instance, it is then no sin, (as I conceive): which may fall out in many instances.
As, (1.) In case the king and his army should march through a neighbour prince's country, in a necessary war against their enemies ; if food be denied them in their march, they may take it rather than perish. (2.) In case the king's army in his own dominions have no pay, and must either disband or die, if they have not provision, they may rather take free quarter, in case that their obedience to the king, and the preservation of the country forbiddeth them to disband. (3.) When it is a person of so great honour, dignity, and desert, as that his worth and serviceableness will do more than recompense the hurt: as if Alexander or Aristotle were on ship-board with a covetous ship-master, who would let them die rather than relieve them. (4.) When a child taketh meat from a cruel parent that would famish him, or a wife from such a cruel husband! Or any man taketh his own by stealth from another who unjustly detaineth it, when it is to save his life. For here is a fundamental right' ad rem,' and the heinousness of his crime that would famish another, rather than give him his own, or his due, doth take off the scandal and evil consequents, of the manner of taking it. (5.) But the greatest difficulty is, in case that only the common law of humanity and charity bind another to give to one that else must die, and he that needeth may take it so secretly that it shall in likelihood never be known, and so never be scandalous, nor encourage any other to steal! May not the needy then steal to save his life? This case is so hard, that I shall not venture to determine it; but only say that he that doth so in such a case, must resolve when he hath done, to repay the owner if ever he be able, (though it be but a piece of bread ;) or to repay him by his labour and service, if he have no other way, and be thus able; or if not so, to confess it to him that he took it from, and acknowledge himself his debtor, (unless it be to one whose cruelty would abuse his confession).
Quest. 11. If another be bound to relieve me and do not, may I not take it, though it be not for the immediate saving of my life?
Answ. If he be bound only by God's law to relieve you, you must complain to God, and stay till he do you right, and not break his law and order, by righting yourself, in case you are not in the necessity aforesaid. If he be bound also by the laws of man to relieve you, you may complain to the rulers, and seek your right by their assistance; but not by stealth.
Quest. u. “If another borrow or possess my goods of money, and refuse to pay me, and I cannot have law and justice against him, or am not rich enough to sue him, may I not take them if I have an opportunity ?'
Answ. If he turn your enemy in a time of war, or live under another prince, with whom you are at war, or where your prince alloweth you to take it, there it seemeth undoubtedly lawful to take your own by that law of arms, which then is uppermost. But when the law that you are under forbiddeth you, the case is harder. But it is certain that propriety is in communities, and is in order of nature antecedent to human government in republics ; and the preservation of it is one of the chief ends of government. Therefore I conceive that in case you could take your own so secretly, or in such a manner as might no way hinder the ends of government as to others, by encouraging thievery or unjust violence, it is not unlawful before God, the end of the law being the chief part of the law: but when you cannot take your own without either encouraging theft or violence in others, or weakening the power of the laws and government by your disobedience, (which is the ordinary case,) it is unlawful: because the preservation of order and of the honour of the government and laws, and the suppression of theft and violence, is much more necessary than the righting of yourself, and recovering your own.
Quest. iv. If another take by theft or force from me, may I not take my own again from him, by force or secretly, when I have no other way??
Answ. Not when you do more hurt to the commonwealth by breaking law and order, than your own benefit can recompense: for you must rather suffer, than the commonwealth should suffer : but you may when no such evils follow it.
Quest. v, 'If I be in no necessity myself, may I not take