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from rich men to give to the poor who are in extreme necessity ? Answ. The answer to the first case may suffice for this: in such cases wherein a poor man may not take it for himself, you may not take it for him. But in such cases he may take it for himself, and no one else is fit to do it, he himself being unable, you may do it, (when no accidental consequents forbid you). Quest. vi. “If he have so much as that he will not miss it, and I be in great want, though not like to die of famine; may I not take a little to supply my want?” Answ. No; because God hath appointed the means of just propriety; and what is not gotten by those means, is none of your's by his approbation. He is the giver of riches; and he intendeth not to give to all alike: if he give more to others, he will require more of them: and if he give less to you, it is the measure which he seeth to be meetest for you, and the condition in which your obedience and patience must be tried: and he will not take it well, if you will alter your measure by forbidden means, and be carvers for yourselves, or level others. Quest. v11. ‘There are certain measures which humanity obligeth a man to grant to those in want, and therefore men take without asking: as to pluck an apple from a tree, or as Christ's disciples, to rub the ears of corn to eat: if a Nabal deny me such a thing, may I not take it?" Answ. If the laws of the land allow it you, you may : because men's propriety is subjected to the law for the common good. But if the law forbid it you, you may not: except when it is necessary to save your life, upon the terms expressed under the first question. Quest. v1.11. ‘May not a wife, or child, or servant take more than a cruel husband, or parent, or master doth allow 2 Suppose it to be better meat or drink?" Answ. How far the wife hath a true propriety herself, and therefore may take it, dependeth on the contract and the laws of the land; which I shall not now meddle with. But for children and servants, they may take no more than the most cruel and unrighteous parents or masters do allow them; except to save their lives upon the conditions in the first place: but the servant may seek relief of the magistrate; and he may leave such an unrighteous master: and the child must bear it patiently as the cross by which it pleaseth God to try him; unless that the government of the parent be so bad, as to tend to his undoing; and then I think he may leave his parents for a better condition: (except it be when their own necessity obligeth him to stay and suffer for their help and benefit). For it is true that a child oweth as much to his parents as he can perform, by way of gratitude, for their good: but it is true also, that a parent hath no full and absolute propriety in his child, as men have in their cattle, but is made by nature their guardian for their benefit: and therefore when parents would undo their children's souls or bodies, the children may forsake them, as being forsaken by them; further than as they are obliged in gratitude to help them, as is aforesaid. Quest. 1x. ‘If a man do deserve to lose somewhat which he hath by way of punishment, may I not take it from him?” Answ. Not unless the law either make you a magistrate or officer to do it, or allow and permit it at the least; because it is not to you that the forfeiture is made: or if it be, you must execute the law according to the law, and not against it. For else you will offend in punishing offences. Quest. x. “But what if I fully resolve, when I take a thing in my necessity, to repay the owner, or make him satisfaction if ever I be able 7" Answ. That is some extenuation of the sin, but no justification of the fact; which is otherwise unjustifiable, because it is still without his consent. Quest. x1. ‘What if I know not whether the owner would consent, or not ?” Answ. In a case where common custom and humanity alloweth you to take it for granted that he would not deny it you (as to pluck an ear of corn, or gather an herb for medicine in his field) you need not scruple it; unless you conjecture that he is a Nabal and would deny you. But otherwise if you doubt of his consent, you must ask it, and not presume of it without just cause. Quest. x11. ‘What if I take a thing from a friend but in a way of jest, intending to restore it?” Answ. If you have just grounds to think that your friend
would consent if he knew it, you will not be blamable; but if otherwise, either you take it for your own benefit and use, or you take it only to make sport by : the former is theft, for all your jest; the latter is but an unlawful way of jesting. Quest. x 111. ‘What if I take it from him, but to save him from hurting his body with it: as if I steal poison from one that intended to kill himself by it: or take a sword from a drunken man, that would hurt himself: or a knife from a melancholy man: or what if it be to save another; as to take a madman's sword from him, who would kill such as are in his way, or any angry man's that will kill another ?” Answ. This is your duty according to the sixth commandment, which bindeth you to preserve your neighbour's life: so be it these conditions be observed. 1. That you keep not his sword for your benefit and advantage, nor claim a property in it; but give it his friends, or deliver it to the magistrate. 2. That you do nothing without the magistrate, in which you may safely stay for his authority and help : but if two be fighting, or thieves be robbing or murdering a man, or another's life be in present danger, you must help them without staying for the magistrate's authority. 3. That you make not this a pretence for the usurping of authority, or for resisting or deposing your lawful prince, or magistrate, or parent, or master, or of exercising your own will and passions against your superiors: pretending that you take away their swords to save themselves or others from their rage, when it is indeed but to hinder justice. Quest. xiv. ‘May I not then much more take away that by which he would destroy his own or other men's souls: as to take away cards or dice from gamesters; or heretical or seditious books, or play-books and romances; or to pull down idols which the idolaters do adore, or are instruments of idolatry?" Answ. There is much difference in the cases, though the soul be more precious than the body: for, 1. Here there is supposed to be so much leisure and space as that you may have time to tell the magistrate of it, whose duty primarily it is ; whereas in the other case it is supposed that so much delay would be a man's death. Therefore your duty is to acquaint the magistrate with the sin and danger, and not to anticipate him, and play the magistrate yourself. Or in the case of cards, and dice, and hurtful books, you may acquaint the persons with the sin, and persuade them to cast them away themselves. 2. Your taking away these instruments is not like to save them : for the love of the sin, and the will to do it remain still: and the sinner will be but hardened by his indignation against your irregular course of charity. 3. Men are bound to save men's bodies whether they will or not ; because it may be so done; but no man can save another's soul against his will And it is God's will that their salvation or damnation shall be more the fruit of their own wills, than of any other's. Therefore though it is possible to devise an instance, in which it is lawful to steal a poisonous book or idol from another (when it is done so secretly as will encourage no disobedience or disorder; nor is like to harden the sinner, but indeed to do him good, &c.) yet ordinarily all this is unlawful, for private men, that have no government of others, or extraordinary interest in them'. Quest. xv. ‘May not a magistrate take the subjects' goods, when it is necessary for their own preservation ?” Answ. I answered this question once heretofore in my “Political Aphorisms :” and because I repent of meddling with such subjects, and of writing that book, I will leave such cases hereafter for fitter persons to resolve. Quest. xvi. “But may I not take from another for a holy use as to give to the church or maintain the bishops. If David took the hallowed bread in his necessity, may not hallowed persons take common bread o' Answ. If holy persons be in present danger of death, their lives may be saved as other men's on the terms mentioned in the first case. Otherwise God hath no need of theft or violence; nor must you rob the laity to clothe the clergy; but to do such evil on pretence of piety and good, is an aggravation of the sin,
* A wife or near friend that is under no suspicion of alienating the thing to their own commodity, nor of ill designs, may go somewhat further in such cases, than an inferior or a stranger.
General Directions and particular Cases of Conscience, about Contracts in general, and about Buying and Selling, Borrowing and Lending, Usury, &c. in particular.
Tit. 1. General Directions against injurious Bargaining and Contracts.
Besides the last Directions Chap. xviii. take these as more pertinent to this case. Direct. 1. ‘See that your hearts have the two great principles of justice deeply and habitually innaturalized or radicated in them, viz. The true love of your neighbour, and the denial of yourself; which in one precept are called, The loving of your neighbour as yourself.” For then you will be freed from the inclination to injuries and fraud, and from the power of those temptations, which carry men to these sins. They will be contrary to your habitual will or inclination; and you will be more studious to help your neighbour, than to get from him. Direct. 11. ‘Yet do not content yourself with these habits, but be sure to call them up to act, whenever you have any bargaining with others; and let a faithful conscience be to you as a cryer to proclaim God’s law, and say to you, ‘Now remember love and self-denial, and do as you would be done by.” If Alexander Severus so highly valued this saying, ‘Quod tibi fieri non vis, alteri ne feceris,’ as to make it his motto, and write and engrave it on his doors and buildings, (having learned it of some Christians or Jews saith Lampridius;) what a crime and shame is it for Christ's own professed disciples neither to learn or love it. Put home the question when you have any bargaining with others, “How would I be dealt with myself, if my case were the same with his?" Direct. 111. “When the tempter draweth you to think only of your own commodity and gain, remember how much more you will lose by sin, than your gain can any way amount to.” If Achan, Gehazi, Ahab, Judas, &c. had foreseen the end, and the greatness of their loss, it would have