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a better order and more pious government in his own house, (making it as a church,) than can be expected in poor families; and his servants will (for soul and body) have a much better life, than if they married and had families, and small tenements of their own; but in a country that rather wanteth people, it is otherwise. Quest. x. ‘May one man be a tenant to divers tenements 2' Answ. Yes, if it tend not, 1. To the wrong of any other. 2. Nor to depopulation, or to hinder the livelihood of others, while one man engrosseth more than is necessary or meet: for then it is unlawful. Quest. x 1. ‘May one man have many trades or callings 2' Answ. Not when he doth, in a covetous desire to grow rich, disable his poor neighbours to live by him on the same callings, seeking to engross all the gain to himself: nor yet when they are callings which are inconsistent: or when he cannot manage one aright, without the sinful neglect of the other. But otherwise it is as lawful to have two trades as One.
Quest. x 11. “Is it lawful for one man to keep shops in several market towns 2'
Answ. The same answer will serve as to the foregoing question.
Cases about, and Directions against, Prodigality and Sinful Wastefulness.
Because men's carnal interest and sensuality, is predominant with the greatest part of the world, and therefore governeth them in their judgment about duty and sin, it thence cometh to pass that wastefulness and prodigality are easily believed to be faults, so far as they bring men to shame or beggary, or apparently cross their own pleasure or commodity: but in other cases, they are seldom acknowledged to be any sins at all; yea, all that are gratified by them, account them virtues, and there is scarce any sin which is so commonly commended; which must needs tend to the increase of it, and to harden men in their impenitency in it; and verily if covetousness, and selfishness or poverty did not restrain it in more persons than true conscience doth, it were like to go for the most laudable quality, and to be judged most meritorious of present praise and future happiness. Therefore in directing you against this sin, I must first tell you what it is; and then tell you wherein the malignity of it doth consist: the first will be best done in the definition of it, and enumeration of the instances, and examination of each one of them. Direct. 1. ‘Truly understand what necessary frugality, or parsimony, and sinful wastefulness are.” Necessary frugality or sparing is an act of fidelity, obedience and gratitude, by which we use all our estates so faithfully for the chief Owner, so obediently to our chief Ruler, and so gratefully to our chief Benefactor, as that we waste it not any other way. As we hold our estates under God, as Owner, Ruler and Benefactor, so must we devote them to him, and use them for him in each relation: and Christian parsimony cannot be defined by a mere negation of active wastefulness, because idleness itself, and not using it aright, is real wastefulness. Wastefulness or prodigality is that sin of unfaithfulness, disobedience and ingratitude, by which either by action or omission we misspend or waste some part of our estates to the injury of God, our absolute Lord, our Ruler and Benefactor; that is, besides and against his interest, his command, and his pleasure and glory, and our ultimate end. These are true definitions of the duty of frugality, and the sin of wastefulness. w Inst. 1. One way of sinful wastefulness is, In pampering the belly in excess, curiosity or costliness of meat or drink, of which I have spoken Chap. viii. Part i. tx Quest. 1. ‘Are all men bound to fare alike 2 or when is it wastefulness and excess?' Answ. This question is answered in the foresaid Chapter of Gluttony, Part iv. Tit. l. l. Distinguish between men's several tempers, and strength, and appetites. 2.
And between the restraint of want, and the restraint of God’s law. And so it is thus resolved : 1. Such difference in quantity or quality as men's health or strength, and real benefit requireth, may be made, by them that have no want. 2. When want depriveth the poor of that which would be really for their health, and strength, and benefit, it is not their duty who have no such want to conform themselves to other men's afflictions; except when other reasons do require it. 3. But all men are bound to avoid real excess in matter, or manner, and curiosity, and to lay out nothing needlessly on their bellies; yea, nothing which they are called to lay out a better way. Understand this answer and it will suffice you. Inst. II. Another way of prodigality is by needless, costly visits and entertainments. Quest. 11. ‘What cost upon visits and entertainments is unlawful and prodigal?' Answ. 1. Not only all that which hath an ill original, as pride or flattery of the rich, and all that hath an ill end, as being merely to keep up a carnal, unprofitable interest and correspondency; but also all that which is excessive in degree. I know you will say, But that's the difficulty to know when it is excessive: it is not altogether impertinent to say, when it is above the proportion of your own estate, or the ordinary use of those of your own rank, or when it plainly tendeth to cherish gluttony or excess in others: but these answers are no exact solution. I add therefore, that it is excess when any thing is that way expended, which you are called to expend another way. Object. “But this leaveth it still as difficult as before.” Answ. When in rational probability a greater good may be done by another way of expence, ‘consideratis considerandis;’ and a greater good is by this way neglected, then you had a call to spend it otherwise, and this expence is sinful. Object. “It is a doubt whether of two goods it be a man's duty always to choose the greater.’ Answ. Speaking of that good which is within his choice, it is no more doubt than whether good be the object of the will. If God be eligible as good, then the greatest good is most eligible. Object. “But this is still a difficulty insuperable: how can a man in every action and expence discern which way it is that the greatest good is like to be attained ? This putteth a man's conscience upon endless perplexities, and we shall never be sure that we do sin: for when I have given to a poor man, or done some good, for aught I know there was a poorer that should have had it, or a greater good that should have been done.’ Answ. 1. The contrary opinion legitimateth almost all villany, and destroyeth most good works as to ourselves or others. If a man may lawfully prefer a known lesser good before a greater, and be justified because the lesser is a real good, then he may be feeding his horse, when he should be saving the life of his child or neighbour, or quenching a fire in the city, or defending the person of his king: he may deny to serve his king and country, and say, I was ploughing or sowing the while. He may prefer sacrifice before mercy: he may neglect his soul, and serve his body. He may plough on the Lord's day, and neglect all God's worship. A lesser duty is no duty, but a sin, when a greater is to be done. Therefore it is certain that when two goods come together to our choice, the greater is to be chosen, or else we sin. 2. As you expect that your steward should proportion his expences according to the necessity of your business, and not give more for a thing than it is worth, nor lay out your money upon a smaller commodity, while he leaveth your greater business unprovided for: and as you expect that your servant, who hath many things in the day to do, should have so much skill as to know which to prefer, and not to leave undone the chiefest, while he spendeth his time on the least: so doth God require that his servants labour to be so skilful in his service, as to be able to compare their businesses together and to know which at every season to prefer. If Christianity required no wisdom and skill, it were below men's common trades and callings. 3. And yet when you have done your best here, and truly endeavour to serve God faithfully, with the best skill and diligence you have, you need not make it a matter of scrupulosity, perplexity, and vexation: for God accepteth you, and pardoneth your infirmities, and rewardeth your fidelity. And what if it do follow that you know not but there may be some sinful omission of a better way? Is that so strange or intolerable a conclusion 2 As long as it is a pardoned failing, which should not hinder the comfort of your obedience? Is it strange to you that we are all imperfect? And imperfect in every good we do? Even by a culpable, sinful imperfection? You never loved God in your lives without a sinful imperfection in your love? And yet nothing in you is more acceptable to him than your love. Shall we think a case of conscience ill resolved, unless we may conclude, that we are sure we have no sinful imperfection in our duty 2 If your servant have not perfect skill, in knowing what to prefer in buying and selling, or in his work, I think you will neither allow him therefore to neglect the greater and better, knowingly, or by careless negligence, nor yet would you have him sit down and whine, and say, I know not which to choose; but you would have him learn to be as skilful as he can, and then willingly and cheerfully do his business with the best skill, and care, and diligence he can, and this you will best accept. So that this holdeth as the truest and exactest solution, of this and many other such cases. He that spendeth that upon an entertainment of some great ones, which should relieve some poor distressed families, that are ready to perish doth spend it sinfully. If you cannot see this in God's cause, suppose it were the king's, and you will see it: if you have but twenty pounds to spend, and your tax or subsidy cometh to so much; if you entertain some noble friend with that money, will the king be satisfied with that as an excuse Or will you not be told that the king should have first been served? Remember him then, who will one day ask, “Have you fed, or clothed, or visited me?” You are not absolute owners of any thing, but the stewards of God! And must expend it as he appointeth you. And if you let the poor lie languishing in necessities, whilst you are at great charges to entertain the rich without a necessity or greater good, you must answer it as an unfaithful servant. And yet on the other side, it may fall out that a person of quality, by a seasonable, prudent, handsome, respectful entertainment of his equals or superiors, may do more good than by bestowing that charge upon the poor. He may save