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the present possessors are justly entitled to them by that original law of division. And that they have thus passed, all laws now extant do suppose. The law of nations supposes those countries that are held by right of conquest to have been justly forfeited to the conqueror; and that unless they are so, his conquest is robbery, and not right. The municipal laws of countries do suppose the estates of particular families to be held by the right of donation or purchase from the true proprietor, and that unless they are so, their first possession was a theft and not a right: and therefore neither the law of nations nor the law of countries do allow either conquerors or families to be rightful possessors of their conquests and estates, so long as there appears any just claim against them. But though the first possession should be obtained either by unjust conquest or by fraud and oppression, yet if it continue in the lineage or family of the unjust possessor till all just claim against it be extinguished, the law must suppose it to be obtained justly, because there appears no evidence to the contrary. And indeed when a dominion or an estate, which was at first unjustly obtained, hath been so long successively possessed, as that no man can produce a just claim and title to it, it must be either the present possessor's or nobody's. But then when God, who is the supreme proprietor of all, doth by his providential permission continue an ill-got possession till all lawful claim to it is worn out, he doth thereby entitle the present possessor to it, and creates it his right and property. For though God's providence can be no rule against his revealed will, nor consequently can authorize any

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man to possess what another hath a just claim to, because his revealed will forbids it, yet it is to be considered, that when no man can justly claim what I possess, I wrong no man in possessing it, and consequently am in no wise forbidden it by God's revealed will: and therefore, in this case, by his providential continuance of the inheritance of it to me, he gives me free leave to possess it; and that leave is an implicit conveyance of a just right and title to it. So that legal possession, when there is no just or legal claim against it, is an undoubted right, a right founded on the free donation of God, who is the supreme proprietor of all things: and therefore justice obliges us not to rob or deprive men of what they are entitled to by law, nor to despoil any man by stealth, or strip him by violence, or defraud him by craft and cunning insinuation of any right or property to which the law entitles him; because by thus doing, we do not only wrong man of that right which by legal conveyance he derives from God, but we also wrong God himself, by presuming to alienate his bequests, and to reverse and cancel his donations. For he who by stealth, or robbery, or fraud, deprives another of his property, doth impiously invade God's right of bestowing his own where he pleases, and refuses to stand to that division and allotment which his providence hath made in his own world: he doth in effect declare in his actions that God hath nothing to do to share his world among

his creatures, that he will not endure him to reign Lord and Master in his own family of beings, nor allow his providence to carve and distribute his own bread and meat among his children; but that he will snatch from every one's trencher, and carve what he pleases for himself out of every man's commons and allowance. So that to deprive another, you see, of what he is legally possessed of, is a high and crying injustice against God and men : for he that will needs have more of God's goods than God hath given him is an impious robber of God; and he that will needs have those goods of God which he hath given to another must be an unjust robber

of man.

If therefore we have injuriously deprived another of his legal rights, we are bound, by all the ties of religion towards God, and of honesty towards men, to make what restitution we are able: for it is certain that my wrongful seizure of what is another man's doth not alienate his right to it; so that he hath the same right to it while I keep it from him, as he had at first when I took it from him; and consequently, till I restore it to him, I persist to wrong him of it; and my detaining it is a continued repetition of that fraud, or theft, or oppression, by which I wrongfully seized it. And whilst I thus persist in the sin, the guilt of it abides upon me; and I am justly responsible to the tribunal of heaven for being a robber of God and men. Whilst therefore I unjustly detain what is another's right, I keep the earnest-penny which the Devil gave me to entitle him to my soul for ever; and so long as I possess the spoils of my injured brother, I maintain so many evidences to give testimony against me, and to raise a cry on me as high as the tribunal of God.

CHAP. VI. Of justice, in reference to the rights acquired by personal

endowments or outward rank. III. THERE are other rights acquired by personal accomplishments, such as wisdom and learning, integrity and courage, generosity and goodness, which do naturally render men exceeding useful and beneficial to the world; and therefore by these men do acquire a just right to be highly esteemed and honoured by all that know them. For praise and honour are the natural dues, the birthright and patrimony of excellency; which by its own inherent merit challenges esteem and veneration. He who excels another hath a right to be preferred before him in the esteem and value of the world; to have his light reflected with a more glorious splendour, and his excellenciés resounded with higher eulogiums. Now the excellency of a man consists in the graces and ornaments of his mind : and as we do not esteem a ship to be excellent because it is curiously carved and inlaid, but because it is exactly fitted to all the purposes of navigation; as we do not account a sword to be excellent because it hath a rich hilt or embroidered scabbard, but because it hath a keen edge, a sharp point, or a good guard and temper: so none but fools will esteem a man to be excellent, because he hath a great estate, or a comely body, or wears fine clothes and rich trappings, but because he hath a brave and a goodly mind, a soul well adorned with intellectual or moral accomplishments. These are the glories of the man; whereas all the rest are only the embellishments of his case and outside. So that the true stamp of nobility is upon the minds of men ; and consists in those graces of understanding and will, whereby we represent and resemble God, who is the pattern of excellency and the fountain of honour. So that true honour is nothing else but a due acknowledgment of the excellencies of men's minds and wills, or their own intellectual or moral accomplishments echoed and reverberated upon them in just acknowledgments and commendations; which to withhold from one that truly deserves them is great injustice and dishonesty. For he who detains from a worthy person those honourable acknowledgments that are due to his virtues, robs virtue itself of one of the fairest jewels in her diadem, and that is her honour and glory; he strips and despoils her of her garments of praise, steals from her her native rays and lustre, and buries her alive in darkness and obscurity : and therefore since to rob a virtuous person of his honour and reputation is so great an outrage to virtue itself, it must needs be highly unjust and dishonest. And herein consists the great iniquity of detraction, and of lessening or debasing men's deserved praises and commendations; which is a higher injustice than to pick their purses: for he that clips or embases a man's honour, robs him of his best and dearest

property; and whilst he sucks the veins of another's reputation to put colour into the cheeks of his own, , he lives upon the spoils of his neighbour, and is every whit as injurious to him, as if he should pull down his house about his ears to build himself another in its ruins. And yet how common is this unrighteous practice among men! How doth this grovelling serpent lurk almost in every hedge, to snap at the heel of every nobler creature that

passes

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