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TO IETI YOOK PUBLIC
ASTO, I FOX AND TILDE FLATIONS
E. Biackader, Printer, Took's Court, Chaneery Lane.
CON TEN TS.
rity in Matters of Religion
FRAGMENTS, or MINUTES of Essays
ERT A TA.
P. 60. 1. 5. for this Dnad reud his Duad.
92. 1. 3. from the bottom, for Sabellus read Sabellius. 190. 1. 9. for unbelievers that, read unbelievers, that
ESSAY THE FOURTH,
NHRISTIANITY had not been established
many centuries in the West, before a claim to universal property was set on foot in favour of the faithful, that is of Christians; nor be. fore the bishop of Rome claimed universal empire, not only over the religious, but over all civil societies. ' St. Austin shall vouch for what I advance here on the first head, and what I say on the second has publick notoriety for it's voucher. The saint, in a letter to Macedonius*, takes notice of a passage in the Proverbs of Solomont, which runs to this effect in the Septuagint version. “ To the faithful man " belongs a whole world of riches; to the infidel, " or unfaithful, not even a farthingt.” What sense the passage may receive, I inquire not: but this is the comment of St Austin upon it. “We " have property in that which we possess of
* Ep. 54, ed. Basil. + Prov. xvii, 6.
Fidelis hominis totus mundus divitiarum est, infidelis au. tem nec obolus.
right; we possess of right what we possess justly;
we possess justly what we possess well; whatever “ is ill possessed therefore belongs to another ; but "he possesses a thing ill, who makes an ill use of it.” On this admirable foundation the good bishop establishes the right of such saiņts as himself, “ fideles et pii quorum jure sunt omnia,” to the property of the whole world. The right is in them, though the iniquity of the unrighteous possessors be tolerated. “ Toleratur iniquitas male “ habentium, et quædam inter eos jura consti“ tuuntur quæ appellantur civilia.” This however he is willing to connive at for the sake of present expediency, instead of insisting on an immediate cession of all this wealth, or on an actual repeal of all the laws of civil government. His words are so gracious, that they deserve to be quoted.
“ Sed tamen etiam hic non intercedimus, ut secundum mores legesque terrenas non - restituantur aliena, &c. I believe this great doctor of the church appears to you, as he does to me, a casuist fit for Venner and the tribe of the fifth monarchy : and I cannot persuade myself, that he was so inconsistent as to refuse any eslates, or other donations, that were offered to the church, or to restore any that had been given, though it has been asserted, I remember not on what authority, that he did so.
Thus early, and thus violently, did a spirit of avarice possess the religious society : and we may easily conceive what a spirit of stupid bigotry and implicit resignation possessed the laity at the same