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more than he expendeth, by avoiding the displeasure of men in power: he may keep up his interest, by which if he be faithful, he may do God and his country more service, than if he had given so much to the poor. And when really it is a needful means to a greater good, it is a duty; and then to omit it, and give that cost to the poor, would be a sin. Object. “But if this rule hold, a man must never do but one kind of good; when he hath found out the greatest, he must do nothing else.' Answ. He must always do the greatest good : but the same thing is not at all times the greatest good. Out of season and measure a good may be turned to an evil: praying in its season is better than ploughing; and ploughing in its season is better than praying, and will do more good; for God will more accept and bless it. Object. “Therefore it seemeth the most prudent way to divide my expences according to the proportion of others of my quality; some to the poor, and some to necessary charges, and some to actions of due civility ?’ Answ. That there must be a just distribution is no question; because God hath appointed you several duties for your expences: but the question is of the proportions of each respectively. Where God hath made many duties constantly necessary, (as to maintain your own bodies, your children, to pay tribute to the king, to help the poor, to maintain the charges of the church,) there all must be wisely proportioned. But entertainments, recreations, and other such after to be mentioned, which are not constant duties, may be sometimes good and sometimes sinful: and the measure of such expences must be varied only by the rule already laid down, viz. according to the proportion of the effect or good which is likely to follow : though the custom of others of the same rank may sometimes intimate what proportion will be suitable to that lawful end : and sometimes the inordinate custom of others will rather tell one what is to be avoided. Therefore true prudence (without a carnal bias) comparing the good effects together, which rationally are like to follow, is the only resolver of this doubt. Which having so largely shewed, I shall refer you to it, in the solution of many of the following questions.
Inst. III. Another way of sinful wasting is upon unnecessary, sumptuous buildings. Quest. 111. “When is it prodigality to erect sumptuous edifices !’ Answ. Not when they are for the public good, either in point of use, or ornament and honour, so be it no greater good be thereby omitted. Therefore it is not churches, hospitals, burses, or common halls that I am speaking of. Nor when they are proportioned to the quality of the person, for the honour of magistracy, or for a man's necessary use. But when it is for ostentation of a man's riches, or rather of his pride, and for the gratifying of a carnal, irrational fancy: and when a man bestoweth more upon buildings, than is proportionable to his estate, and to his better expences; and (to speak more exactly) when he bestoweth that upon his buildings, which some greater service calleth for at that time; it is then his prodigality and sin. Quest. Iv. ‘Here once for all let us inquire, Whether it be not lawful, as in diet, so in buildings, recreation and other such things, to be at some charge for our delight, as well as for our necessities?” Answ. The question is thus commonly stated, but not well: for it seemeth to imply, that no delights are necessary and so putteth things in opposition, which are often coincident. Therefore I distinguish, 1. Of necessity: some things are necessary to our being, and some to our felicity, and some but to our smaller benefits. 2. Of delight: some delight is sinful; as gratifying a sinful humour or disposition: some is unnecessary or wholly useless; and some is necessary, either to our greater or our lesser good. And so the true solution is: (1.) The sinful delight of a proud, a covetous, a lustful, a voluptuous mind, is neither to be purchased or used. (2.) A delight wholly needless, that is, un profitable, is sinful if it be purchased, but at the price of a farthing, or of a bit of bread, or of a minute's time: because that is cast away which purchaseth it. (3.) A delight which tendeth to the health of the body, and the alacrity of the mind, to fit it for our calling and the service of God, (being not placed in any forbidden thing,) may be both indulged and purchased, so it be not above its worth. (4.) So far as WO L. VI. B B
delight in houses, or sports, or any creature, tendeth to corrupt our minds, and draw us to the love of this present world, and alienate our hearts from heaven, so far must they be resisted and mortified, or sanctified and turned a better way. (5.) In the utensils of our duty to God, usually amoderate, natural delight, is a great help to the duty, and may become a spiritual delight: as a delight in my books, in the preacher's utterance, in the melody of psalms, in my study, and its conveniences, in my walk for meditation, &c. And a delight in our food and recreations, maketh them much fitter to cherish health, and to attain their ends; so it be not corrupt, immoderate, or abused to evil ends. Inst. iv. Another way of prodigality, is in needless, costly recreations. Quest. v. ‘Is all cost laid out upon recreations unlawful ?” Answ. No : but “caeteris paribus,' we should choose the cheapest, and be at no needless cost on them; nor lay out any thing on them, which ‘consideratis considerandis’ might be better bestowed. But of this before. Inst. v. Another way of prodigality is in overcostly apparel. Quest. “What may be accounted prodigality in the costliness of apparel ?” ..Answ. Not that which is only for a due distinction of superiors from inferiors, or which is needful to keep up the vulgar's reverence to magistrates. But, 1. All that which is merely serviceable to pride or vain curiosity, or amorous lust, or an affectation to be thought more comely and beautiful than others. 2. All that which hath more cost bestowed on it, than the benefit or end is worth. 3. Or which hath that cost which should be rather laid out another way, upon better uses. The cheapest apparel must be chosen which is warm and comely, and fittest to the right ends. And we must come nearer those that are below our rank, than those above it. - Inst. vi. Also, prodigality is much shewed in the cost which is laid out for needless pomp and ostentation of greatness or curiosity, in keeping a numerous retinue, and in their gallantry, and in keeping many horses, and costly furniture, and attendance.
Quest. v11. “When is a costly retinue and other pompous furniture to be accounted prodigality?” Answ. Not when they are needful to the honour of magistracy, and so to the government of the commonwealth: nor when it is made but a due means to some lawful end, which answereth the cost. But when it is either the fruits and maintenance of pride, or exceedeth the proportion of men's estates, or (especially) when it expendeth that which better and more necessary uses call for. It is a most odious. and enormous crime, to waste so many hundred or thousand pounds a year in the vanities of pomp, and fruitless curiosities, and need-nots, while the public uses of the state and church are injured through want, and while thousands of poor families are racked with cares, and pinched with necessities round about us. Inst. vii. Another way of prodigality is that which is called by many, keeping a good house, that is, in unnecessary abundance, and waste of meat and drink, and other provisions. Quest. viii. “When may great housekeeping be accounted prodigality ? Answ. Not when it is but a convenient work of charity to feed the poor, and relieve the distressed, or entertain strangers, or to give such necessary entertainment to equals or superiors as is before described: but when the truest relief of the poor shall be omitted, (and it may be poor tenants racked and oppressed,) to keep up the fame and grandeur of their abundance, and to seem magnificent, and praised by men for great housekeepers. The whole and large estates of many of the rich and great ones of the world goeth this way, and so much is devoured by it, as starveth almost all good works. Inst. v1.11. Another way of prodigality is cards and dice, and other gaming; in which whilst men desire to get that which is another's, they lose and waste their own. Inst. 1x. Another act of prodigality is giving over-great portions with children: it being a sinful waste of our master's stock, to lay it out otherwise than he would have us, and to serve our pride and self-interest in our children instead of him.
Quest. 1x. “When may our children's portions be accounted prodigality or too great?'
Answ. Not when you provide for their comfortable living according to your estates, and give them that due proportion which consisteth with the discharge of other duties: but when all that men can get is thought little enough for their children; and the business of their lives is to live in fulness themselves as long as they can, and then to leave that to their posterity which they cannot keep themselves | When this gulf of self-pampering and providing the like for children, devoureth almost all that you can gather, and the poor and other needful uses, are put off with some inconsiderable pittance: and when there is not a due proportion kept between your provision for your children, and the other duties which God requireth of you. “Their inward thought is, that their houses shall be perpetuated, and their dwelling places to generations: they call their lands after their own nameS. This their way is their folly; yet their posterity approve their sayings".” “Behold, these are the ungodly who prosper in the world, they increase in riches".” “They have their portion in this life:- they are full of children, or their children are full,) and they leave the rest of their substance to their babes".” A parent that hath an heir, or other children so wise, religious, and liberal, as that they are like to be more charitable and serviceable to good uses, than any other whom he can trust with his estate, should not only leave such children sufficient for themselves, but enable them as much as he can to do good : for they will be more faithful trustees to him than strangers. But a parent that hath but common and untrusty children, should do all the good he can himself, and what he would have done when he is dead, he must commit to them that are more trusty, and allow his children but their proper maintenance. And parents that have debauched, wicked, ungodly children, (such as God commanded them to cause to be put to death, Deut. xxi.) should allow them no more than their daily bread, if any thing at all, (which is their own to dispose of). -
Inst. x. Also to be careless in many small expenses or
* Psal. xlix. 7–9, 11.13. * Psal. lxxiii. 12. * Psal. xvii. 4.