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ing for bread; and making those habitations that would otherwise be nurseries of virtue, the abode of contention, vice, and misery. How much it is retarding the progress and the triumphs of the gospel, it is unnecessary for me to say. It seems more than any other vice subservient to the purposes of that evil Spirit, who is described as a murderer from the beginning, as a liar and the father of lies ;--and who by this, as by other artifices, prevents the light of the glorious gospel of God from shining into the mind. The amount of evil that issues from it in a large city, in the ruin of health, the waste of life, the destruction of the soul, is greater than the corresponding good which the friends of religion, and the ministers of the gospel, with their combined labours and efforts, can accomplish.
Of such vast importance, and so numerous are the obligations included in the duty of obeying the divine command in holding life sacred. It is an easy and natural extension of it to apply it to the life of the soul; and to infer from it the obligation of doing all in our power to place the means by which this life is conveyed within the reach of our fellow-creatures. If we are to care for the body, can we be innocent if we neglect the health and the happiness of the immortal part,—the soul? Is it not to this that our chief attention should be continually directed, as that which is to live when the body moulders in the dust, and which is capable of happiness or of misery for ever?
What shall it profit a man, though he should gain. the whole world, and lose his own soul; or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” It was to
impart this eternal happiness to man, that God has instituted an economy of grace, that “ He has so loved the world as to give his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” While he commands not to impair or to injure the life of the body, he enjoins not to disregard that better life which he bestows, and to make choice of that good part that shall never be taken
We are required by the law written on the heart, not less than by the law which was written on tables of stone, to refrain from injuring the property of others. “ Thou shalt not steal,” is the authoritative command of heaven; which evidently requires the lawful procuring and furthering the wealth and outward estate of ourselves and others; and forbids whatsoever doth or may unjustly hinder our own or our neighbour's wealth, or outward estate. To take our neighbour's property, therefore, and to turn it to our own use, without his consent, is unjust and sinful.
We can much more easily trace the origin and progress of property than satisfy ourselves, at least in some cases, of the justice or expediency of the tenure by which it is held. That one man should retain possession of what is more than adequate for the maintenance of a thousand, while there are many
around him who are scarcely able to procure a subsistence, is an order of things which at first view seems as little consonant to our reason as it is to our feelings. You see the ninety-nine toiling and scraping together a heap of superfluities for one,-and this one too, oftentimes the feeblest and the worst of the whole set,--a child, a madman, or a fool ;-getting nothing for themselves all the while, but a little of the coarsest of the provision which their own industry produces; looking quietly on, while they see the fruits of all their labours spent or spoiled; and if one of the number take or touch a particle of the hoard, the others joining against him, and hanging him for the theft.”
It surely is necessary that reasons, ample and sufficient, should be assigned to justify this seemingly harsh inequality. Such reasons do exist, and their sufficiency will presently be made to appear.
Every man, doubtless, has a right to the fruits of his own labour. To deprive him of any part of this without an equivalent is unjust. For if it were allowable to take away a share of the fruit of his industry, without an equivalent, the order and designs of human society would be frustrated;-men would rob from others that to which they have no good claim :-property, being wasted by the idle and the profligate, would soon disappear, and the most fertile parts of the earth would become a barren wilderness. The authority of the Supreme Legislator and Proprietor decides the question; and gives to every man the exclusive right to that which he has acquired by his ingenuity or labour.
But without a reasonable degree of security in the enjoyment of property, who would undergo the toil and the trouble necessary to its attainment? Who would relinquish that indolence which is so natural to man, and steadily pursue a course of industrious exertion? The history of society shews that the prospect of wealth is not of itself a motive sufficiently powerful, unaccompanied with the security which law and regular government afford. Hence the necessity as well as the origin of laws for securing to the rightful owner the undisturbed possession of his property. .
proportion as such laws are impartially enforced will industry and all its fruits increase and multiply. In confirmation of this remark many illustrations might be given from the history of every civilized people, proving that in the most fertile countries the inhabitants may be poor and indolent and wretched, while on a less genial soil, they may be active, and rich, and happy
“ Perhaps there is no part of Europe,” says a distinguished traveller, “more fruitful than the Valteline, and yet there is no country in which the peasants are more wretched. The first and principal cause is the form of government*."
• What a contrast,” says Brydone, an intelligent traveller, “is there between this (Sicily) and the little uncouth country of Switzerland. To be sure the dreadful consequences of oppression can never be set in a more striking opposition to the blessings and charms of liberty. Switzerland, the very excrescence of Europe, where nature seems to have thrown out all her cold and stagnating
humours; full of lakes, marshes, and woods, and surrounded by immense rocks, and everlasting mountains of ice, the barren but sacred ramparts of liberty: -Switzerland, enjoying every blessing where every blessing seems to have been denied ; whilst Sicily, covered by the most luxuriant hand of nature, where heaven seems to have showered down its richest blessings with the utmost prodigality, groans under the most abject poverty, and with a pale and wan visage starves in the midst of plenty. It is liberty alone that works this standing miracle. Under her plastic hands the mountains sink, the lakes are drained, and these rocks, these marshes, these woods."
I shall only adduce another illustration, from Dr. Clarke's Travels, to shew how much the human character is degraded, and the design of society frustrated by the insecurity of property, whether it arise from the weakness or from the oppression of the govern
. ment.“ In Circassia,” he observes, “ that the sower scattering the seed, or the reaper who gathers the sheaves, are constantly liable to an assault; and the implements of husbandry are not more essential to the harvest than the carbine, the pistol, and the sabre.” Of the isle of Cyprus, he says, “the soil
“ everywhere exhibited a white marly clay, said to be exceedingly rich in its nature, although neglected. The Greeks are so oppressed by their Turkish masters, that they dare not cultivate the land; the harvest would instantly be taken away from them if they did. Their whole aim seems to be, to scrape together barely sufficient, in the course of the whole year, to