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The same Measures should be taken when Circumstances are such, that Restitution is not necessary, notwithstanding that Opportunities of making it may easily be found. Such are the Circumstances of Persons corrupted by Bribery. For since every Bribe is at once a Voluntary Gift, and the Fruit of Injustice, the Sordid Giver hath forfeit– ed all Rightful Claim to it, and there

fore Equity does not require that it

should be restored to him; and yet it cannot Lawfully be retained by the Polluted Hands of him who receives it, because he hath no Propriety in it, unless Propriety can be grounded upon Injustice: And therefore it should be appropriated to Works of Charity. And in General, all Unlawful Possessions should be intirely given up by Restitution, where that is Possible and Necessary; and where it is not, they should be disposed of in

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relief of the Poor. Indeed we find, that amongst the First Christians the Rich did admit the Indigent to a Free and Illimited Participation of their Riches: The Bounty of the one was determined by no measure but the Wants of the other. For as “ they had all things Common, which they possessed; so, when the Possessors of Lands or Houses sold them, t Distribution was made unto every Man according as he had Need. These were Eminent and Glo– rious Effects of Charity; but we do not find these Degrees of it Indispensably and Universally required. Our Blessed Saviour indeed lays this Injunction upon the Ruler; t Sell all that thou has, and diffribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven. This Person was without doubt under a Necessary Obligation to Obey this Command, which was Particularly given to Him; but it does not seem Obligatory, upon those, to whom it is not Particularly given; unless the Obligation of it should arise from some Uncommon and

* Aéts iv. 32, f Ver, 34, 35. # Luke xviii. 22.

Extraordinary Occasion. For such Extraordinary Events may offer, in relation to the Christian Church, or to some particular Branches of it, as may introduce a Necessity, not only to Sell all that we have, but likewise * to lay down our lives for the Brethren. But in ordinary occurrences, and according to the usual state of Things, the general Rules of Charity are, that every Man should give Liberally and Cheerfulby, considering that when he hath made competent Provision for himself and Deendents, That which is superfluous should i. the Portion of the Poor. In order therefore to discharge our Obligations to Charity, 'tis needful to enquire, what is properly to be esteemed Superfluous? And under this enquiry, it may be of some use to refle&t upon a Distinétion frequently made by Scholastick Writers; who observe, that Superfluity does either relate purely to Life and Subsistence, or, to the particular Circumstances and Stations of Men in the World, Whatsoever is possessed more than is Necessary to the preservation of Life, is called Superfluous to Life; And whatsoever is possessed more than is Necessary to support Mens Respective Charaćters and Stations, is styled Superfluous to State, or Condition. 'Tis obvious then, that those things, which are Superfluous to a Man's Life, are yet Necessary to that Decency which belongs to his Station. And therefore, if no Extraordinary Occasions should offer themselves, he is not obliged to dispense, in Aćts of Charity, all that is Superfluous unto Life: For if this were, in all cases an indispensable Duty, that variety of Orders and Offices, which runs through Human Society, must sink; which would at once break up the very foundations of the Civil Constitution, and be likewise highly prejudicial to the State of Religion. The Measures therefore of Common Charity would easily be fixed, if Men did but determine what is Superfluous to their several Stations. But, in the determination of this point, they are very apt to Disobey God, Deceive themselves,

* I John iii. 16. more

and Defraud the Poor. For if they will resolve, at any rate, and to the utmost of their Power, to Indulge, and Inrich, and Aggrandize themselves and their Families; 'tis then no wonder, that they will never acknowledge themselves possessed of any thing Superfluous. If Ambition, or Sensuality, or Covetousness be admitted into our enquiries, concerning what is Necessary, and what Superfluous, the Question will certainly be determined on the Uncharitable side. But if these fountains of Prejudice and of all Iniquity, do not derive their Impure Streams upon Mens Hearts; if they do impartially and Sincerely enquire into their Duty, it will easily and plainly appear, that their Temporal Blessings are generally more than equal to their own exigencies, to the proper Decency and Dignity of their Stations, to that suitable Provision, which they are obliged to make for their Families, and to that Provision likewise, which may be made, with regard to future Ne

cessities. Men may indeed raise excuses for themselves, without any ground or founda

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