Page images

that God would disinherit him of his birth right, and make him of all men in the world the only tenant in common with his children ?" 0. 211.

$36. The prejudices of our own ill-grounded opinions, however by us called probable, cannot authorize us to understand Scripture contrary to the direct and plain meaning of the words. I grant it is not probable that Adam's private dominion was here abrogated; because it is more than improbable (for it will never be proved) that Adam had any such private dominion: and since parallel places of Scripture are most probable to make us know how they may be best understood, there needs but the comparing this blessing here to Noah and his sons, after the flood, with that to Adam after the creation, Gen.i. 28, to assure any one that God gave Adam no such private dominion. It is probable, I confess, that Noah should have the same title, the same property and dominion after the flood, that Adam had before it: but since private dominion cannot consist with the blessing and grant God gave to him and his sons in common, it is a sufficient reason to conclude that Adam had none,'especially sinee, in the donation made to him, there are no words that express it, or do in the least favour it; and then let my reader judge whether it

may best be understood, when in the one place there is not one word for it, not to say what has been above proved, that the text itself proves the contrary; and in the other, the words and sense are directly against it.

$ 37. But our author says, “ Noah was the sole heir of the world ; why should it be thought that God would disinherit him of his birth right?” Heir indeed, in England, signifies the eldest son, who is by the law of England to have all his father's land; but where God ever appointed any such heir of the world, our author would have done well to have showed us; and how God disinherited him of his birth right, or what harm was done him if God gave his sons a right to make use of a part of the earth for support of themselves and families, when the whole was not only more than Noah himself, but infinitely more than they all could make use of, and the possessions of one could not at all prejudice, or, as to any use, straiten that of the other.

$ 38. Our author probably foreseeing he might not be very successful in persuading people out of their senses, and, say what he could, men would be apt to believe the plain words of Scripture, and think, as they saw, that the grant was spoken to Noah and his sons jointly; he endeavours to insinuate, as if this grant to Noah conveyed no property, no dominion; because

subduing the earth and dominion over the creatures are therein omitted, nor the earth once named." And therefore, says he,“ there is a considerable difference between these two texts ; the first blessing gave Adam a dominion over the earth and all creatures ; the latter allows Noah liberty to use the living creatures for food : here is no alteration or diminishing of his title to a property of all things, but an enlargement only of his commons," 0. 211. So that, in our author's sense, all that was said here to Noah and his sons, gave them no dominion, no property, but only enlarged the commons; their commons, I should say, since God says, “ to you are they given;" though our author says his; for as to Noah's sons, they, it seems, by sir Robert's appointment, during their father's lifetime, were to keep fasting-days.

$ 39. Any one but our author would be mightily suspected to be blinded with prejudice, that in all this blessing to Noah and his sons, could see nothing but only an enlargement of commons : for as to dominion, which our author thinks omitted, “ the fear of

you, and the dread of you, says God, shall be upon every beast,” which I suppose expresses the dominion, or superiority, was designed man over the living creatures, as fully as may be; for in that fear and dread seems chiefly to consist what was given to Adam over the inferior animals, who, as absolute a monarch as he was, could not make bold with a lark or rabbit to satisfy his hunger, and had the herbs but in common with the beasts, as is plain from Gen. i. 2, 9, and 30. In the next place, it is manifest that in this blessing to Noah and his sons, property is not only given in clear words, but in a larger extent than it was to Adam. “ Into your hands they are given,” says God to Noah and his sons; which words, if they give not property, nay, property in possession, it will be hard to find words that can; since there is not a way to express a man's being possessed of any thing more natural, nor more certain, than to say, it is delivered into his hands. And ver. 3, to show, that they had then given them the utmost property man is capable of, which is to have a right to destroy any thing by using it: “Every moving thing that liveth, saith God, shall be meat for you ;' which was not allowed to Adam in his charter. This our author calls “ a liberty of using them for food, and also an enlargement of commons, but no alteration of property,” 0. 211. What other property man can have in the creatures, but the “

“ liberty of using them,” is hard to be understood : so that if the first blessing, as our author says, gave Adam “dominion over the creatures,” and the blessing to Noah and his sons gave them “such a liberty to use them” as Adam had not; it must needs give them something that Adam with all his sovereignty wanted, something that one would be apt to take for a greater property; for certainly he has no absolute dominion over even the brutal part of the creatures, and the property he has in them is very narrow and scanty, who cannot make that use of them which is permitted to another. Should any one, who is absolute lord of a country, have bidden our author subdue the earth, and given him dominion over the creatures in it, but not have permitted him to have taken a kid or a lamb out of the flock to satisfy his hunger, I guess he would scarce have thought himself lord or proprietor of that land, or the cattle on it; but would have found the difference between “ having dominion,” which a shepherd may have, and having full property as an owner. So that, had it been his own case, sir Robert, I believe, would have thought here was an alteration, nay an enlarging of property; and that Noah and his children had by this grant not only property given them, but such a property given them in the creatures, as Adam had not: for however, in respect of one another, men may be allowed to have propriety in their distinct portions of the creatures; yet in respect of God the maker of heaven and earth, who is sole lord and proprietor of the whole world, man's propriety in the creatures is nothing but that “ liberty to use them,” which God has permitted; and so man's property may be altered and enlarged, as we see it here, after the flood, 'when other uses of them are allowed, which before were not. From all which I suppose it is clear, that neither Adam, nor Noah, had any “ private dominion,” any property in the creatures, exclusive of his posterity, as they should successively grow up into need of them, and come to be able to make use of them.

$ 40. Thus we have examined our author's argument for Adam's monarchy, founded on the blessing pronounced, Gen. i. 28. Wherein I think it is impossible for any sober reader to find any other but the setting of mankind above the other kinds of creatures in this ha. bitable earth of ours. It is nothing but the giving to man, the whole species of man, as the chief inhabitant, who is the image of his Maker, the dominion over the other creatures. This lies so obvious in the plain words, that any one but our author would have thought it necessary to have shown, how these words, that seemed to say the quite contrary, gave “ Adam monarchical absolute power" over other men, or the sole property in all the creatures; and methinks in a business of this moment, and that whereon he builds all that follows, he should have done something more than barely cite words, which apparently make against him; for I confess, I cannot see any thing in them tending to Adam's monarchy, or private dominion, but quite the contrary. And I the less deplore the dulness of my apprehension herein, since I find the apostle seems to have as little notion of any such“ private dominion of Adam" as I, when he says, “ God gives us all things richly to enjoy;" which he could not do, if it were all given away already to monarch Adam, and the monarchs his heirs and successors. To conclude, this



text is so far from proying Adam sole proprietor, that, on the contrary, it is a confirmation of the original community of all things amongst the sons of men, which appearing from this donation of God, as well as other places of Scripture, the sovereignty of Adam, built upon his“ private dominion,” must fall, not having any foundation to support it.

$ 41. But yet, if after all any one will needs have it so, that by this donation of God Adam was made sole proprietor of the whole earth, what will this be to his sovereignty? and how will it appear, that propriety in land gives a man power over the life of another? or how will the possession even of the whole earth give any one a sovereign arbitrary authority over the persons of men? The most specious thing to be said is, that he that is proprietor of the whole world, may deny all the rest of mankind food, and so at his pleasure starve them, if they will not acknowledge his sovereignty, and obey hiş will. If this were true, it would be a good argument to prove, that there never was any such property, that God never gave any such private dominion; since it is more reasonable to think, that God, who bid mankind increase and multiply, should rather himself give them all a right to make use of the food and raiment, and other conveniencies of life, the materials whereof he had so plentifully provided for them; than to make them depend upon the will of a man for their subsist ence, who should have power to destroy them all when he pleased, and who, being no better than other men, was in succession likelier, by want and the dependence of a scanty fortune, to tie them to hard service, than by liberal allowance of the conveniencies of life to pro mote the great design of God,“ increase and multiply: he that doubts this, let him look into the absolute monarchies of the world, and see what becomes of the conveniencies of life, and the multitudes of people.

$ 42. But we know God hath not left one man so to the mercy of another, that he may starve him if he please : God, the Lord and Father of all, has given no one of his children such a property in his peculiar pore

[ocr errors][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »