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by occupying a piece of ground, a man inseparably mixes his labour with it; by which means it afterwards becomes his own, as it cannot be taken from him without depriving him, at the same time, of something which is indisputably his. To distinguish this right from that of possession, I would call it the right of labour. This, as Paley observes, is a fair ground, where the value of the labour bears a considerable proportion to the value of the thing; or, where the thing derives its chief use and value from the labour. Thus, game and fish, though they be common whilst at large in the woods or water, instantly become the property of the person that catches them; because an animal, when caught, is much more valuable than when at liberty; and this increase of value, which is inseparable from, and makes a great part of, the whole value, is strictly the property of the fowler or fisherman, being the produce of his personal labour.
A third opinion on this subject is, that as God has provided liberally for the wants of all his creatures, he has given leave to each to take what his necessities may require; and that by virtue of this grant a man may appropriate what he needs without asking or waiting for the consent of others. This opinion is just only in cases in which the things that I want are unappropriated. For, though the God of nature has provided an ample feast for all his children, I cannot sit down and eat, if it has been already appropriated before I come into the world, unless I can offer the possessors what they will consider as an equivalent.
Admitting that these opinions afforded a perfect solution of the question, “ In what is the right of property founded ?” they would be of little use in vindicating our present claims of property in land, unless it were more probable than it is, that our estates were actually acquired at first in some of the ways which these accounts suppose; and that a regular regard had been paid to justice in every succeeding transmission of them since*.
Without any further analysis of this subject, we are prepared, by the different views that have been taken of it, to give our assent to the general position, that all right is founded on the will of God, and that this will, in relation to property, is in general expressed by the law of the land. If we have shewn that the intentions of God with regard to the fruits of the earth could not be fulfilled in any other way than by establishing the right of property, we have in reality shewn that it is his will that it should be established; and if we have succeeded in proving that the efforts and the feelings to which property gives rise are essentially connected with the progress of reason, and the happiness of mankind, there can be no doubt, that it is the will of God that this right should be universally recognised.
If these principles be just, it follows, that the right to an estate does not at all depend on the manner or justice of the original acquisition, nor upon the justice of each subsequent change of possession. The law of the land, which is the ordinance of God not less than the institution of property, must be regarded as in this case the rule of right.
* See Paley's Moral Philosophy.
INDIRECT MODES IN WHICH THE RIGHT OF PROPERTY IS
VIOLATED: IDLENESS, AND PRODIGALITY.
The command which gives to every one an exclusive right to that property which is his own, is violated in a variety of ways; by indirect as well as by direct means,
We shall begin with the consideration of the in direct means of doing injustice to others in their property. Of these, idleness presents itself foremost to our contemplation. This does injury to the property of others, by preventing us from giving them their due ; and it does injury to ourselves and to the members of our family, by depriving them of the comfort and respectability which otherwise they would enjoy. “ I went by the field of the slothful,” says Solomon,
and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding, and lo! it was all grown over with thorns ; and nettles had covered the face thereof; and the stone wall thereof was broken down. Then I saw and considered it well. I looked upon it, and re: ceived instruction. Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep. So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man.'
In idleness there is a misimprovement of time, a waste of talents, and a neglect of the varied advantages which providence puts within our reach. If industry and labour be the source of wealth, do we
not inflict an injury on ourselves, on our families, and on all who have claims upon us, when we yield to indolence? Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep; and an idle soul shall suffer hunger. Besides the inconveniences to which he subjects himself and his dependants in their scanty food and clothing, and uncomfortable lodging, he exposes himself to many temptations. Without supposing him to yield to the temptation of putting forth his hand to steal, he will be constantly liable to do so ;-and being without any useful engagement, he will naturally associate with the seditious and the profligate. He might learn from the inferior animals the criminality of his conduct in neglecting the improvement of the trust committed to him. Go to the ant thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest."
The evil of idleness, and the duty of industry, in the disciples of Christ, are clearly taught in the New Testament. For, even when we were with you, says the Apostle, addressing the Thessalonians, “ this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now, them that are such, we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.” The duty of making provision for ourselves and dependants, by an industrious prosecution of our calling, is repeatedly enforced by the same authority. "If any provide not for his own, and
especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” The good works and alms deeds, of which Dorcas was full, and the coats and the garments which she had made, are alluded to as proofs of that industry which was orna, mental to her christian profession. Nor does any situation in life exempt us from the exercise of this habit : “ Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.” The habit of active and persevering
” industry will thus be formed, and will lead us, almost without effort, to derive our happiness from the improvement of our talents ;—from the redemption of time ;-from the usefulness of our lives ;-and from the extent in which we are instrumental in accom. plishing the beneficent designs of Providence, and in doing good to others. It will foster that spirit of honourable independence which is so conducive to our virtue and happiness, and which is so compatible with all the decorum and loveliness of christian hu, mility.
Prodigality is another means of sinfully wasting property. It is somewhat difficult to define, -since it has a relation to the circumstances in which we are placed, and to our capability of spending, without encroaching on the rights of justice, and the duties of charity. Mere waste, without relation to circumstances, must be wrong in itself; though the criminality is doubtless aggravated when it is a direct dissipation of that to which our families are entitled to look for comfort and respectability, and our creditors for payment of their just claims. A man may be termed prodigal when he is incon