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RESPECTING PRIVATE PROPERTY,
AUTHORITY AND PERPETUITY OF THE APOSTOLIC
INSTITUTION OF A COMMUNITY OF GOODS.
FROM A PERIODICAL OF 1827,
RESPECTING PRIVATE PROPERTY, &c.
" As it must be extremely difficult to establish such wise regulations where private property takes place, it may justly be doubted whether property must not be excluded out of the most perfect government.” — Wallace, Various Prospects of Mankind, 8c.
“A scheme of government may be imagined that shall, by annihilating property and reducing mankind to their natural equality, remove most of the causes of contention and wickedness.”—Dr. Price's Four Dissertations on Providence, 1777, p. 138 (Note).
HOWEVER opposed to the opinions now generally prevalent, it is, I confess, no wonder to me, that from the first promulgation of Christianity there have, at various times, been found many amongst its most sincere disciples, who considered its spirit and tendency to be directly opposed to the acquisition of personal riches, or the system of private property. The example of Jesus Christ, in conjunction with a multitude of precepts and maxims, repeated from time to time during the whole course of his ministry, pointing out the evils which result from the pursuit of riches, and the vices and failings of the rich,—the humble rank of the persons whom he chose as his first disciples, * —and the numerous precepts which they have left us, agreeing with those of their Master,-may well account for the prevalence of the opinion among the first Christians, that the system of private property was incompatible with the prevalence of the Gospel. And when we find how continually the Christian Scriptures inveigh against the pursuit of wealth, and the temper and conduct of its votaries, and how constantly and repeatedly the first teachers of Christianity dwell upon this subject, we might rather wonder at the little attention it excites among professors of Christianity in the present day, than that their predecessors should neither have overlooked nor explained away a doctrine so prominent in the Christian code.
Christ came to preach the gospel to the poor. “Blessed be ye poor,” said he, “ for yours is the kingdom of God. But woe unto you that are rich; for ye have received your consolation.”+ The benediction, as recorded by another Evan
* Judas, the only one who proved unworthy, was corrupted through the love of money.
† Luke vi. 20, 24. By “rich," he undoubtedly meant those who possessed and coveted individual riches.