Imatges de pàgina
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the term [he] because when the Jews put the queltion to him, W bo art thou? his answer was, even the fame that I said unto you, from the beginning.

So then, the meaning of the whole sentence, I think, appears to be this, viz. you wicked Yews, who tho you pretend to be worshippers, and servants of the true God, yet live in a constant violation of his Laws; if you do not give your affent to this truth, (upon that rational evidence which hath been afforded for your conviction) that I am the Mesiah or Christ, which God hath sent into the world, to offer terms of peace and reconciliation to mankind; and if you do not accept of God's grace, on those terms on which he offers it to you by my ministry, in turning every one of you from the evil of your ways, and by bringing forth the fruits of newness of life, ye shall die under the guilt of your fins, without having any share in the mercy of God, which is now graciously offered to mankind : and on the other side, if you do believe that I am the Christ, the Son, and sent of God, and if you do accept of his gracious offer, by yielding up yourselves a lively sacrifice acceptable, and well pleasing in his sight, ye shall be saved.

Thus we see, what is the true christian faith, with relation to the Person, and the personal character of our Lord Jesus Christ, as we have it from his

own mouth, which surely must be our best guide, with respect to the present question. So that, we are not required to believe any thing concerning his nature or essence, much less that he is the supreme God, or equal to him ; but only that he is the Meffiah or Christ, the Son, and sent of God, and that the good news is true, which he is the messenger of: consequently, whoever believes in him as frech, and fubmits to his government, and is faithful unto death, such an one is a true christian, whom Christ will own and approve, when he shall come to judge ckę world,

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ENQUIRY Concerning PROPERTY, wherein is considered Liberty of Conscience.

EFORE I enter upon this enquiry, I think it proper to premise, that as magis

exercise of a regular govern. ment in human fociety is the ordinance of God; so the great and main end of government is the good and happiness of the society in which it is exercised, by being a security to every one's property, and a keeping every one in the quiet poffeffion of his own; consequently, magistrates or governours can have no right to invade that which the nature and end of their office oblige them to secure. This being premised, I observe, that property is originally God's peculiar; because God hath a sole property in every thing which he is the original supreme cause of, and that is every thing without himself; so that we have no property, with respect to God, whatever we are, and whatever we have derived from, and dependent upon him : and therefore when I speak of property, I mean that right and property which creatures have, with relation to one another. Property, with respect to men, is either natural or obtained. By natural, I mean such property as we are born into, and which takes place with our very being, which is founded in the nature and reason of things, and so is independent of the will of all creatures, Thus for example, every man has a natural right

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126 to life, till the giver thereof shall be pleased to take it from him. Now, this is a property which is independent of the will of all creatures, being founded in the nature and reason of things, and takes place with our very being. We no fooner begin to live, but we have a natural right to enjoy our life, so long as God, the giver, shall be pleased to continue it to us, except we forfeit that right. And whosoever invades this natural property is guilty of a great injustice. Obtained property is such as is not founded in nature, but depends upon industry, natural contract, free gift, or some other like caufe. Thus, for example, if a man should agree with a fervant to have his la. bour for a year, the servant's labour, for that time, becomes the master's property; not from any natural right that he hath to another man's labour, but from that compact and agreement between the master and the servant, in which compact, he that had the natural right to that labour conveyed it to him whose servant he hath put himfelf to be.

And as property is thus distinguished into forts, viz. original, natural, and obtained, fo I think the degrees of property in these (if I may so speak) are in one greater than another; that is, the original property which God hath in all things is greater than that natural or obtained property, which creatures have in any thing they are poffeffed of; and the natural property which any creature hath in any thing is greater than any obtained property whatever: consequently, it must be a greater crime in any one to invade the natural than the obtained property of another, and it must be yet a greater crime to invade the original property of

God than the natural or obtained property of any creature.

Again, the subje£t of property may be greater or leid, tho' the property it felf, or right to enjoy

it, may be equally the same. Thus, a man may have two estates, one of twenty pounds per annum, and the other of an hundred, and his title or right to enjoy may be equally the same, as ta both. He has as great a right, and as just a title (and so in that respect as great a property) in the lesser as in the greater estate; and yet it would be a much greater wrong to him, and consequents ly a much greater crime to have his property invaded in the greater than in the ļesser, because of the much greater advantage he reaps by it, tho* his right to enjoy them is equally the same.

Seeing then the great end of government is the good and happiness of the society in which it is exercised, by securing to every one his property, and keeping every che in the quiet poffeßion of his own, it will follow from hence, first, that the non-provision for the security of any property in any government, is a defect in that government; and the greater that property is (whether with respect to it felf, or with respect to its subject) which is non-secured, the greater is the defect and įmperfection of that government. Secondly, if any · government should be so far from defending any property, whether natural or obtained, as that it actually invades that property which it should secure, this would be a crime in that goveļnment; and the greater that property is whịch is invaded (whether with respect to itself, or with respect to its subject ) the greater and more heinous would the crime of that government bę, Thus, for example, it hath pleased God to make man a free accountable creature, by planting in him an understanding heart, in the use and exercise of which he is made capable of examining and judga ing of the agreement or disagreement, of the fit, nefs or unfitness, of the good or evil, and of the truth or falseness of things, and of determining

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and directing his practice accordingly. Man being placed in such a state, it is not only his duty to examine and judge what is truth, and what is error, in all those cases wherein any branch of his duty or interest is concerned, and to deter: mine his practice accordingly, I say, it is not only his duty thus to do, but it is also his just right and natural property in all cases whatever, so far as he is capable of such an examination and judgment, except his liberty is restrained by the principles of natural or revealed religion, such as the examining and judgingof other men's faults. And as it is every man's natural right to examine and judge for himself, in all those cases wherein he is capable of so doing, and not to be determined in his judgment by the examination and judgment of other men; so it is the duty and business of

go: vernment not only to permit and tolerate the society committed to its care, in the use and exercise of this their undoubted right, but also to defend and guard them from the insults and reproaches, the injuries and wrongs

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should attempt to affict them with upon this account, and to fecure then in the enjoyment of this their natural property. But if governours should be so far from fecuring, or even tolerating the society in the enjoyment of the aforesaid natural property, that on the contrary they set up a scheme of principles and opinions as the standard of the society's judgment, and require the members of that fociety to submit their

judgments to that standard, forbidding them to embrace any principle or opinion which is contrary thereunto, and fo prevent every one from examining and judging for himself, and persecute those that do; this is such a notorious invasion of the property of the society

of the society as is highly criminal in any government, and has been as fatal in its consequences as the invasion of any property L

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