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have to prove two things : Ist. That in that state God intended men to possess everything in common. Now, they can never prove this intention of the Creator; first, because there is no positive revealed indication of such intention; and secondly, because the real and actual differences among men, as to qualities of mind and body, on which private ownership is radically founded, point to a different conclusion, and indicate that the Creator meant the very opposite. Even Billuart concedes that, supposing men to have remained in original justice, most probably private ownership would have been established in view of the social wants of men. (Bill., De Just., Diss. 4. Art. 1.) The first supposition failing, the second also vanishes.
It assumes as conceded that, in the original state of justice and according to the intention of the Creator, man would have felt more love for others than for himself, and would have cared much more for the common good than for his own private interests. Now, by the very fact that a man is a personality distinct from another, a personality whom God Himself respects and treats with all possible regard and consideration, and even with reverence, as the Scripture has it, he must have for himself and his personality a legitimate and proper regard, a reasonable care for the preservation and progress of his physical, intellectual and moral life; in one word, a paramount consideration for the welfare of his personality and of those who are connected or whom he joins by his voluntary and free acts with the weal or woe of his individuality. It is not necessary to add that all this is man's bounden duty. To say that in the original state man would not have been sui amans, alieni negligens, cupiditati et ambitioni serviens, is to talk the sheerest nonsense. An irregular and inordinate love of himself, an illegitimate desire for the goods of this earth, a restless and unbounded ambition, might not have been found in that happy state, on the supposition of man's perseverance in original justice and righteousness. We say, "on the supposition," because, as it is clear, man could have fallen at any moment, and his temporary perseverance in original justice was no guarantee that he would have continued in it for
Given human liberty and the state of trial and probation, man could have fallen at any time as Adam did, as far as we can conjecture, soon after his creation. If man, therefore, had remained in the state of original justice, he would not have yielded to an unruly love of himself and of all belonging to him, he would not have nourished in his bosom covetousness, envy, ambition, and lust after domination and supremacy; but he would certainly have yielded to the natural, sacred love of himself, his personality, his physical, intellectual, moral and social welfare, and that of all depending upon and connected with him, in preference to any single individual or community. “Every one,” says Aristotle, “ loves himself much more than he loves others; hence we must not condemn all kinds of love of self, but only the immoderate love of self." (Polit., Lib. 2, Ch. 3, Art. 1.)
If love for one's personality, therefore, if a legitimate desire for one's interests and those of one's family, be the motive which prompted mankind to introduce private ownership, such motive would have existed and prevailed just as well in the primitive state as in the present; and individual proprietorship would have been the necessary consequence. Suarez, who is a great advocate of the Compact, freely admits the result. It is to be remarked that men in that state might have tilled the earth, and perhaps sowed a part of it. The necessary consequence would be, that after one had cultivated a certain portion of the earth it would have been unjust in another to have deprived him of the use and almost of the possession of it, because natural reason and order demand this. (De Opere Sex Dierum, 15, Ch. 7, n. 18.)
The division of the earth and private ownership, therefore, would have been necessary either in the state of original justice or in that of fallen nature. But what is necessary to man in any state must spring from the aspirations, cravings, and wants of his being and faculties. Therefore, private ownership is a natural right and not an arbitrary or gotten-up law of man's will and pleasure.
This remark introduces us to the other part of our demonstration, which is the very essence and marrow of the question, to wit, that if the reasons alleged by the Compactists in favor of the jus gentium have any value, they prove the natural origin of the right of property.
Modern authors reason as follows: Either individual proprietorship is a necessity imperatively demanded by man's nature to satisfy all the wants he feels in his capacity as individual, as family, and as social being, or it is not at all demanded, but is only an expedient and a better and easier means, a more convenient way to procure man's welfare in all those respects. If the former be admitted, then it is owned that individual proprietorship originates in the natural law; because what is imperatively necessary to man's nature is natural and not artificial or arbitrary, according to Billuart's criterion. If individual proprietorship is claimed not as at all necessary, but as a better expedient, a greater convenience, an easier way of managing and supplying the wants and aspirations and cravings of men and of society, then it follows that, absolutely speaking, man's wants, those of the family and of the body civil, can be provided for, the social order and welfare maintained, and all social progress and advancement obtained in the state of Communism.
The upholders of the Compact freely acknowledge this consequence. "I maintain,” says Billuart, " that even supposing the corruption of nature, the division of goods was not at all simply and absolutely necessary for the social life and administration of possessions; because, absolutely speaking, all these things could be attained, though with greater difficulty, under the community principle; but the division is much more suitable to these ends." (Bill., Diss. 4, Art. 1.)
The evident consequence of such principles is that neither the possession of goods in common nor the holding of them in private is necessary to the existence, life, and progress of man, of the family, of society; that man, the family, society, could get along under either form of holding possessions; only, under the communistic form, with a little more difficulty. Should men prefer to get along more peaceably and more expeditiously, they had better cling to the compact made for them by their ancestors.
Modern authors, in the first place, beg to know from their opponents whether, according to reason and common sense, a means acknowledged to be the best, the speediest, the easiest, and the most convenient to the attainment of a certain end, is not the proper legitimate natural means as compared with another which may attain the same object, but only with much greater difficulty.
In the second place, they most emphatically deny what Compactists take for granted and, without the least suspicion to the contrary, look upon as something well proved and put beyond the possibility of a doubt, that man's wants can be satisfied, and that all that he requires for his physical, intellectual, moral, and social existence, development and progress, can be obtained nearly as well by Communism as by private ownership.
This arbitrary, gratuitous assumption is absolutely contradicted. How do the Compact defenders prove such an assertion? What! all the means which man requires for the maintenance and preservation of his individual life in all orders, physical, intellectual, and moral; all the means which he requires to create and establish domestic society, to provide for all its wants and necessaries, to defray all expenses needed to educate and train the family; all that is demanded for the establishment and preservation of order in the State; for the maintenance of tranquillity and peace among citizens, for the avoiding of strife and quarrels, for the prevention of endless disputes and litigations, and for the settling of them according to law and order; all that is imperatively required for the guidance of the State toward a continual development, progress, and civilization, by the amelioration of the conditions of all classes, by the promotion of all legitimate, bold, and successful enterprises, —all these grand objects can be procured, all this multitude of the
most necessary as well as beneficial results can be obtained nearly as easily by Communism as by the partition of the earth and all permanent goods and their distribution among individuals ? Are the upholders of such a stupendous assertion prepared to substantiate it? For if they do not and cannot, they must yield up their theory as absolutely groundless.
In plain English, the Compactists maintain that mankind can get along nearly as well under a communistic form of possession and government as under a government having for its basis private ownership. They must maintain that, or their theory vanishes as a bubble. Why did it require a convention and a compact to divide the land and to establish private ownership ? Because the right of private ownership is not proclaimed as necessary by the natural law, men being well able, strictly speaking, to have all their wants supplied by a system of Communism.
Neither Communism nor private property is at all a necessary and indisputable means. Either of them will do. One is nearly as good as the other. Let, then, Compactists prove that assertion before urging their imaginary and mythical compact and convention, and if they cannot prove it let them forego their absurd system.
Modern writers, on the other hand, having established that Communism in every possible and imaginable form is contrary to all the ends for which the material world and the earth were made, having proven that the wants of men cannot be supplied by such a system, having demonstrated that it could not exist for a moment without trampling under foot the most legitimate inborn, sacred rights of human personality, conclude that private ownership is a sheer necessity, an imperative, exclusive sole means of satisfying man's wants and of respecting his rights, and that, therefore, the right of individual proprietorship is an inborn, inherent right, resulting from the very essence and nature of human personality.
THE REUNION OF CHRISTENDOM.
ON the ist of March of the present year there was presented
to the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Bishops then assembled in conference at Lambeth Palace, an address from the " Association for the Promotion of the Unity of Christendom," to which the attention of Catholics may well be invited.
The address begins by stating that “the object of the Association is to induce Christians of all confessions to join in prayer for the restoration of unity, but it does not bind its members to any special theory as to the mode of such restoration." It then renders thanks for the gracious manner in which a similar memorial was received by the Lambeth Conference in 1878, approval having been given to the annual observance of a special day of prayer for the unity of Christendom, and it attributes to these intercessions the constantly increasing desire for that unity which, it says, has been manifested on all sides during the ten years that have since elapsed. After instancing various evidences of this in Europe, in America, and even in the far East, the petitioners continue:
“ The manifest advances thus apparent on all sides call for more earnest prayer, lest by precipitate action or by any false step the great work to which God is evidently calling His people may be hindered."
Three principles, which seem to be fundamental with the Association, are then laid down:
“In the midst of our divisions we must never forget that the truths we hold in common are more numerous, and of greater importance, than the points on which we differ; and that there can be no complete and final reunion of Christendom which does not embrace all who are fighting in the name of Christ against Atheism, Infidelity and Sin; but, on the other hand, that mutual tolerance is not unity, and must not be confounded with it;" which last principle might profitably be pondered by our Evangelical Alliance and Church Congresses.
After adducing, as reasons for encouraging reunion in every possible way, the increase of Atheism and Rationalism and the persistence of Heathenism and Mohammedanism, it alleges a reason of telling significance for all who have read the Comedy of Convocation, or have meditated on the facts it treats of:
“The danger of fresh heresies arising from attempts to obviate the apparent collisions between science and religion, without the guidance of a competent spiritual authority.”