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losses, because they are but little things, and let any such thing be cast away, is sinful prodigality. Quest. x. ‘How far is a duty to be frugal in small matters, and the contrary a sin '' Answ. We must not overvalue any thing, great or small; nor be sparing out of covetousness; nor yet in an imprudent way, which seemeth to signify baseness and worldliness when it is not so ; nor must we be too tinking in bargaining with others, when every penny which we get by it, is lost to one that needeth it more. But we must see that nothing of any use, be lost through satiety, negligence or contempt; for the smallest part is of God's gifts and talents, given us, not to cast away, but to use as he would have us; and there is nothing that is good so small, but some one hath need of it, or some good use or other may be made of it. Even Christ when he had fed thousands by a miracle, yet commanded his disciples to “gather up the broken bread or fragments, that nothing be lost”,” which plainly sheweth that it is a duty which the richest man that is, is not exempted from, to be frugal, and sin in the greatest prince to be wasteful of any thing that is good; but this must not be in sordid covetousness, but in obedience to God, and to do good to others. He is commendable who giveth liberally to the poor, out of his abundance; but he is much more commendable, who is a good husband for the poor, as worldlings are for themselves; and frugally getteth and saveth as much as he can, and denieth all superfluities to himself and all about him, that he may have the more to give to pious and charitable uses. Inst. x 1. Idleness also and negligence in our callings, is sinful wastefulness and prodigality: when either the pride of gentility maketh people think themselves too good to labour, or to look after the matters of their families, or slothfulness maketh them think it a life too toilsome for their flesh to bear. “He that is slothful in his work, is brother to him that is a great waster":” these drones consume that which others labour for, but are no gatherers themselves. Quest. xi. “Is every one bound to labour in a calling 2'
* John vi. 12. • Prov, xviii. 9.
Answ. This is answered before in its due place, Part i. Every one that is able, rich or poor, must live in some profitable course of pains or labour. Quest. x 11. “Is it a duty to desire and endeavour to get, and prosper, and grow rich by our labours, when Solomon saith, “Labour not to be rich * * * Answ. It is a sin to desire riches as worldlings and sensualists do, for the provision and maintenance of fleshly lusts and pride; but it is no sin, but a duty, to labour not only for labour sake, formally resting in the act done, but for that honest increase and provision, which is the end of our labour; and therefore to choose a gainful calling rather than another, that we may be able to do good, and relieve the poor. “Let him labour, working with his hands the thing that is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth'.” Quest. x 111. ‘Can one be prodigal in giving to the church 7' Answ. Yes, if it be in a blind zeal to maintain a useless pomp or superstition; or if he give that which should be used or given otherwise; but this is a sin that few in these days are in much danger of 8. Quest. xiv. “Can one be prodigal in giving to the poor?” Answ. Yes, when it is blindly done, to cherish idleness in wandering beggars; or with a conceit of meriting in point of commutative justice from God; or when that is given to the poor, which should be given to other uses (as in public tribute, maintenance of children, furtherance of the Gospel, &c.), but this is a sin that few have need to be restrained from. Quest. xv. ‘May a rich man expend any thing upon (otherwise) lawful pomp, or conveniencies, or pleasures, at such a time when there are multitudes of poor families in extremity of want? As now when the flames which consumed London, have left many thousands in distress?’ Answ. Doubtless every man should spare as much for the relief of others as he can ; and therefore should not only forbear all needless expenses, but those also that are needful but to such conveniences and accommodations as may be
• Prov. xxiii. 4. * Eph. iv. 28.
spared without a greater hurt, than is the want of such as that charge would relieve. To save the lives of people in want, we must spare any thing from ourselves, which our own lives can spare. And to relieve them in their deep poverty, we must abate much more in our superfluities. To expend any thing on pride or lust, is a double sin at such a time, when Lazarus is at our doors in want. If that Luke xvi. were well studied, (wherein it was that the rich man's sin and danger lay, in being clothed in purple and silk, and faring sumptuously every day, while Lazarus wanted,) it would make some sensualists wiser than they are. But yet it must be confessed, that some few persons may be of so much worth and use to the commonwealth (as kings and magistrates), and some of so little, that the maintaining of the honour and succours of the former, may be more necessary than the saving the lives of the latter. But take heed lest pride or cruelty teach you to misunderstand | this, or abuse it for yourselves. There are divers other ways of prodigality or sinful waste, which I pass by, because they are such as few are concerned in ; and my purpose is not to say all that may be said, but all that is needful. As in needless music, physic, books, (which Seneca handsomely reproveth,) gifts to servants which need not in mere ostentation of pride to be well spoken of, and many the like; and in unlawful wars, which is the greatest sinful waster in all the world. And as for expenses in debauchery and gross wickedness, as whoredom, revenge; in sinful lawsuits, &c., I here pretermit them. Direct. 11. “Understand well the aggravations of this sin of prodigality: viz. 1. It is a wasting of that which is none of our own, and a robbing God of the use or service due to him in the improvement of his gifts. They are his, and not ours; and according to his pleasure only must be used. 2. It is a robbing the poor of that which the common Lord of the world, hath appointed for them in his law: and they will have their action in heaven against the prodigal. 3. It is an inhuman vice, to waste that upon pleasures, pride and needless things, which so many distressed persons stand in need of 4. It is an injury to the commonwealth, which is weak
ened by the wasteful. And the covetous themselves (that are not oppressors) are much better members of society than the prodigal. 5. It feedeth a life of other vice and wickedness. It is a spending of God's gifts to feed those lusts which he abhorreth. 5. It usually engageth many others in trades and labours which are unprofitable, that they may serve the lusts of these sensual prodigals. 7. And in the conclusion, it prepareth a sad account for these wretches when they must answer at the bar of God, how they have used all his gifts and talents. Remember all these aggravations. Direct. 111. ‘Carefully mortify that greedy fancy, and fleshly lusts, which is the wasting sin, and the devouring gulf.’ Quench the fire, and you may spare all this fuel. Cure the fever or dropsy, and you may spare both your drink and life. A greedy throat, and a diseased fancy are never satisfied, till they have wasted the peace of your consciences with your estates, and brought you to the end of brutish sinners: wisdom, and duty, and real benefit, are contented with a little; but lust is insatiable; the voluptuous brute saith, “I must have my cups, my lusts, my pleasure,” and the effeminate, vicious fancy of those empty souls that mind no great and solid things, is still ranging after some vanity or other; and like children, crying for every thing that they see another have; and the most needless, yea, burdensome things seem necessary to such ; they say, ‘I must needs have this, and I must needs have that,’ there is no being without it; when nothing needeth it, but a diseased mind, which much more needeth a cure by grace and true mortification. Subdue pride, and sensuality, and fancy, and you may escape prodigality. Direct. Iv. “Remember the nearness of your account, and ask your consciences what way of expenses will please you best in the review.’ Whether at death and judgment it will be your comfort to find on your account, “So much laid out on needless bravery, to set out this carcase which is now turning into dust; Item, so much upon proud entertainments of great ones; Item, so much on cards, and dice, and stage-plays; and so much on hounds and needless pleasures, &c.” Or rather, “So much to promote the preaching of the Gospel; so much to set poor children to 'prentice, or to school; so much to relieve distressed families, &c.’ Let Matt. xxv. be well read, and your account well thought on.
Direct. v. ‘Keep an account of your expenses, and peruse them before a fast or a sacrament; and ask conscience how it judgeth of them;’ Yea, ask some holy, prudent friend, whether such proportions are allowable before God, and will be comfortable to you in the day of your extremity. If you are but willing to be cured, such means as these will not be in vain.
Cases and Directions against Injurious Lawsuits, Witnessing
and Judgment. Tit. 1. Cases of Conscience about Lawsuits and Proceedings.
Quest. 1. ‘IN what cases is it lawful to go to law with others ?’ Answ. 1. In case of necessary defence, when the plaintiff doth compel you to it. 2. When you are entrusted for orphans or others whom you cannot otherwise right. 3. When your children, or the church, or poor, whom you should do good to, are like to suffer, if you recover not your talent that God hath trusted you with for such uses, from the hands of unjust men; and they refuse all just arbitrations and other equal means which might avoid such suits. 4. When your own necessity constraineth you to seek your own, which you cannot get by easier means. 5. When your forbearance will do more hurt by encouraging knaves in their injustice, than it will do good. 6. Whenever your cause is just, and neither mercy, peace, nor the avoiding of scandal do forbid it: that is, when it is like to do more good than harm, it is then a lawful course. But it is unlawful to go to law, 1. When you neglect just arbitrations, patience and other needful means to avoid it. 2. When your cause is unjust. 3. When you oppress the poor by it. 4. When it is done in covetousness, revenge or pride. 5. When the scandal or hurt to your bro