« PreviousContinue »
ment of a mortal body, in which it hath thereupon the right of a tenant at will, that holds at the pleasure of his landlord; by whom it is empowered to enjoy it for its own habitation, to defend it against outward violence, and dispose of it for its own needs and conveniences. So that unless he be empowered by God, there is no man can rightfully destroy or dismember, or without his consent enslave or imprison, another man's body; unless it be in defence of his own life, livelihood, or liberty, which every man hath a natural right to defend. But then, since for the common good and defence of all, God hath placed his reserved authority over our bodies in the hands of human government, it is no violation of the right of our souls, for the government under which we are placed to destroy or dismember, enslave or imprison our bodies, whenever, by offending others, we render it necessary for the defence and good of all. And since the government hath, so far as the common weal requires, God's own authority over our bodies in its hands, it is no more injurious to our souls, for that to dispose of our lives and members, livelihoods and liberties, for the common security and good, than if God himself should do it immediately; since the government doth it by his right and authority, which is paramount to all the natural rights of our souls. But for any others, either to take away the life or members of another's body, except it be necessary for their own defence, or to enslave or imprison another's body, except it be upon free consent or just forfeiture, is an outrageous invasion of the natural rights of human souls.
2. As men dwell in mortal bodies, they have also
a right to their bodily subsistence. For, for God to give them a tenant's right in their mortal bodies would be very insignificant, unless we suppose he hath therewith given them some right to those outward goods that are necessary to their maintenance and subsistence: for God being the supreme proprietor of this lower world, as well as of those tenements of flesh we live in, it must needs be supposed, that, as by placing our soul in this body he hath given her a right to it, so by placing our body in this world, he hath given it a right to such a portion of this world's goods as are necessary to its repair and maintenance. And though in the unequal division of the world that now is, he hath given to some a larger share of it than to others ; yet it is not to be supposed he hath so appropriated all to some, as to leave nothing for all the rest. all men are equal in their natural faculties and endowments, so according to original constitution they were also equal in their outward properties and possessions; and all things being promiscuously exposed to the use and enjoyment of all, every one from the common stock assumed as his own right what he needed. And as for the inequality and private interests that are now among us, they were by-blows of our fall; for it was sin that introduced our degrees and distances, that devised the names of rich and poor, begot engrossings and enclosures of things, and forged those two pestilent words meum and tuum, which have since engendered so much strife and mischief in the world. And though God hath made these enclosures rights by his long and continued permission of them, yet he hath not thereby parted with his own right to them.
He by an
immutable right is still paramount of all his creation, and every thing in it unalienably belongeth to him. And as for those enclosed properties with which he hath vested us in such unequal proportions, he hath committed them to us as stewards, and not transferred them upon us as masters; and so without any injury to us may appropriate what part of them he pleaseth to what use he pleaseth; which when he hath done, we cannot without manifest injustice otherwise dispose of that appropriate part, than to the use and service for which he hath appointed it. Now out of every man's estate and property he hath actually reserved some appropriate portion to be disposed of to the poor and needy, who have nothing else to subsist by; and in this part of our estates the poor have the same right from God that we have in all the other parts of it. So that this world being now cantoned out so very unequally among men, yet according to God's allotment every man hath right to such a share of it as is at least sufficient to keep him from being starved, or pinched with extremity of need ; and in this method God hath assigned to every man a child's portion, which in some fair way or other ought to be obtained, viz. either by legal right or by humble request; which latter, in conscience, ought to take effect, as well as the former. For now, according to this latter constitution, he hath appointed the rich to be his stewards and treasurers for the poor; with a strict charge that they dispense to every one his meat in due season. The honour of distributing is conferred on the former, as a trial of their fidelity and bounty; the right of receiving is conferred on the latter, as a trial of their patience and gratitude :
and thus God hath wisely projected, that all his children should be both effectually and quietly provided for; that one man's abundance should supply another's wants, that so there might be an equality, as St. Paul expresses it, 2 Cor. viii. 14. For since no man can enjoy more than he needeth, and every man ought to have so much as he needeth, there could be no great inequality among men, if things were administered according to the institution of God. But if out of our abundance we refuse to relieve the poor man's necessities, we are unjust both to God and him ; to God, because we misapply his goods, and cross his orders; to him, because we wrongfully usurp, and detain from him the portion which God hath allowed him; and so, under a vizard of right and possession, we are no better than robbers in the account of God: when by refusing to relieve our brother's necessities we spoil him of his goods; his goods, I say, by the very same title that any thing is ours, even by the free donation of God. It is the hungry man's bread which we hoard up in our barns, his meat that we glut, and his drink that we guzzle; it is the naked man's apparel that we shut up in our presses, and do so exorbitantly ruffle and flaunt in; and what we deny out of our abundance to an object of real pity and charity, is in the account of God an unjust usurpation of his right. For by the institution of God, I owe every man this right; not to see him pine, and perish for want, whilst I surfeit, and swim in plenty. And thus you see what rights appertain to a man in his first capacity, viz. as inhabiting a mortal body.
CHAP. II. Of justice in preserving the rights of men, considered as
rational creatures. II. I PROCEED in the second place to observe, that there are other rights accruing to men, as they are rational creatures : for it is this indeed that gives a right to common justice, to be governed by laws, and by rewards and punishments, that we are free and rational agents, who can choose or refuse, and determine ourselves which way soever we think fit or reasonable. For without reason and free-will, we could no more be capable of laws, nor subject to rewards and punishments, than stones or trees are. For no law can oblige a being that hath no power over his own actions ; nor can he deserve to be rewarded when he doth well, nor punished when he doth evil, if it be not in his power to do otherwise : and therefore beasts cannot be said to do either justly or unjustly towards one another; because whatsoever good or evil they do one another, they do it necessarily, and it was not in their power to do otherwise. But because men are free agents, and have power to determine themselves either to do good or evil to one another; therefore of right they claim of each other the mutual performance of such goods, and forbearance of such evils, as agree or disagree with the state and condition of their natures. And hence every rational creature hath a right to be used and treated by those of his own kind agreeably to the state of his rational nature; and for one man to treat another otherwise, is not only hurtful, but also injurious. Now the rights
. which one rational creature may by the condition of