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this sin, to leave it in the power of any man to imagine, that what is said in the Old is abrogated. No man must imagine that this monstrous sin is contracted to, or in any one climate or region, and affected only by those of any one religion; it is equally spread amongst all nations, and more practised and countenanced amongst those of the catholic, than of the reformed religion; at least was first introduced and practised by them, before it was by these. Emperors and kings contrive and permit it; and popes themselves no otherwise contradict it, than that they would not have it committed without their special license and dispensation; by which it was first planted in England, and as warrantably propagated afterwards by him, who had as much authority to do it himself, as with the consent of the pope. They who know how many abbeys, and other ecclesiastical promotions, are at present possessed by laymen, and what pensions are daily granted upon bishoprics, and other revenues of the church, to laymen and other secular uses, throughout the catholic dominions of Germany, Italy, France, and Spain, will rather wonder that there is so fair revenues yet left to the church in protestant countries, than that so much hath been taken away;

which for the most part was done in catholic times, and by catholic authority: and it is a wonderful thing how little hath been said in the one church or the other, in justification or excuse of what hath been so much practised in both; and they who have attempted it have done it so obscurely, upon such suppositions, and with such reservations and distinctions, as if they endeavoured to find out or contrive a more warrantable and decent way to do that which ought not to be done at all; and what they allow proves to be as unlawful by their own rules, as what they condemn; which falls out very often to be the case in the writings of the school-men, and amongst the modern casuists. And it may be, they who are most conscientiously troubled and afflicted with the sense of the sin, and the punishment that must reasonably attend it, and to see so many noble and great families involved insensibly under a guilt, that is already in some degree punished, in their posterities degenerating from the virtue of their ancestors, and their noble blood corrupted with the most abject and vulgar affections and condescensions; I say, these good men are not enough affected, to search and find out expedients and cures, to redeem these transgressions, and to wipe out the guilt from

those who do heartily desire to expiate for the errors and faults of their forefathers.— Many men are involved in sacrilege without their privity or consent, by inheritances and descents; and it may be, have made purchases very innocently of lands which they never knew had been dedicated to the church: and it cannot reasonably be imagined that either of these, especially if they have no other estates, or very little, but what are marked with the same brand, will, out of the conscience of their great-grandfather's impiety, ransom themselves from a leprosy which is not discernible, by giving away all they have; and which by established laws is as unquestionably their own, as any thing can be made to belong to any man: but they will rather leave their ancestors to pay their own forfeitures, and be very indulgent to those arguments which would persuade them, that what was sacrilege a hundred years since, is so purged away in so many descents that it ceases to be so in the present possessor: however, he will never file away the stain that may yet remain in his skin, with an instrument that will open all his veins, till his very heart's blood issue and be drawn out. Nor can it be expected that he who hath innocently and lawfully purchased what was innocently and lawfully to be sold, because he finds afterwards that those lands had so many years since belonged to some religious house; which if he had known he would not have bought, will therefore lose his money, and leave the land to him whose conscience will give him leave to take it; for though he might innocently, because ignorantly, buy it, he cannot after his discovery sell it with the same innocence; but he will choose a lawyer rather than a bishop for his confessor, and satisfy himself with that title which he is sure can be defended. In a word, he must depart too much from his natural understanding, who believes it probable, that all that hath been taken from the church in former ages, will be restored to it in this or those which shall succeed, to the ruin of those many thousand families which enjoy the alienations, though they do not think that it was at first with justice and piety aliened; but will satisfy themselves with the possession, and by degrees believe, that since it must not be restored to those uses and ends, to which it was at first dedicated and devoted, it may be as justly enjoyed by them with their other title, as by any other persons to whom it may be assigned. Whereas, if learned, prudent, and conscientious men, upon a serious deliberation and reflection of the great mercy

of God, and that under the law he both permitted and prescribed expedients to expiate for trespasses and offences, which, by inadvertency and without malice, men frequently run into, and therefore that it may be piously hoped, that in a transgression of this nature, he will not be rigorously disposed to exact the utmost farthing from the heirs of the transgressors, who, with the authority of the government under which they lived, and in many cases with the consent and resignation of those in whom the interest was fully invested, became unwarily owners of what in truth, in a manner, was taken from God himself; I say, if such men, upon such and other recollections which might occur to them, would advise a reasonable method, in which they who are possessed of estates and fortunes of that kind, may well assign a proportion of what they enjoy to such pious and charitable uses, as may probably do as much good as those estates did when they were in their possession from whom they were taken, and yet not deprive the owners of more than they may without great damage part with. It is very possible, that very many, out of the observation of the misfortunes which have often befallen the posterity of those who have been eminently enriched by those sacred spoils, and

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