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warning, to bid you take heed for the time to come. If you are thus brought to repentance, or to the more careful life, by occasion of men's censures, they will prove so great a benefit to you, that you may bear them the more easily.
Cases and Directions about Trusts and Secrets.
Tit. 1. Cases of Conscience about Trusts and Secrets.
Quest. 1. 'How are we forbidden to put our trust in man? And how may it be done ?'
Answ. 1. You must not trust man for more than his proportion, and what belongs to man to do: you must not expect that from him which God alone can do. 2. You must not trust a bad, unfaithful man to do that which is proper to a good and faithful man to do. 3. You must not trust the best man, being imperfect and fallible, as fully as if you supposed him perfect and infallible : but having to do with a corrupted world, we must live in it with some measure of distrust to all men; (for all that Cicero thought this contrary to the laws of friendship). But especially ignorant, dishonest, and fraudulent men must be most distrusted. As Bucholtzer said to his friend that was going to be a courtier, ' Commendo tibi fidem diabolorum, crede et contremisce:' he that converseth with diabolical men, must believe them no further than is due to the children of the father of lies. But we must trust men as men, according to the principles of veracity that are left in corrupted nature: and we must trust men so far as reason sheweth us cause, from their skill, fidelity, honesty, or interest: so a surgeon, a physician, a pilot may be trusted with our lives : and the more skilful and faithful any man is, the more he is to be trusted.
Quest. II. · Whom should a man choose for a matter of trust ?
Answ. As the matter is : one that hath wisdom, skill,
and fidelity, through conscience, honesty, friendship, or his own apparent interest.
Quest. 111. “In what cases may I commit a secret to another?
Answ. When there is a necessity of his knowing it, or a greater probability of good than hurt by it, in the evidence which a prudent man may see.
Quest. iv. · What if another commit a thing to me with charge of secresy, and I say nothing to him, and so promise it not: am I bound to secresy in that case ?'
Answ. If you have cause to believe that he took your silence for consent, and would not else have committed it to you, you are obliged in point of fidelity, as well as friendship : except it be with robbers or such as we are not bound to deal openly with, and on terms of equality.
Quest. v. “What if it be a secret, but I am under no command or promise at all about it?'
Answ. You must then proceed according to the laws of charity and friendship: and not reveal that which is to the injury of another, without a greater cause.
Quest. vi. What if it be against the king, or state, or common good ?'
Answ. You are bound to reveal it, so far as the safety of the king, or state, or common good requireth it: yea, though you swear the contrary.
Quest. vii. 'What if it be only against the good of some third ordinary person ?
Answ. You must endeavour to prevent his wrong, either by revealing the thing, or dissuading from it, or by such means as prudence shall tell you are the meetest, by exercising your love to one, without doing wrong to the other.
Quest. vui. · What if a man secretly intrust his estate to me, for himself or children, when he is in debt, to defraud his creditors ?
Answ. You ought not to take such a trust: and if you have done it, you ought not to hold it, but resign it to him that did intrust you. Yea, and to disclose the fraud, for the righting of the creditors, except it be in such a case as that the creditor is some such vicious or oppressing person, as you are not obliged to exercise that act of charity for; or when the consequents of revealing it, will be a greater hurt,
than the righting of him will compensate; especially when it is against the public good.
Quest. ix. "What if a delinquent intrust me with his estate or person to secure it from penalty ?'
Answ. If it be one that is prosecuted by a due course of justice, cujus pæna debetur reipublicæ,' whose punishment the common good requireth, the case must be decided as the former: you must not take, nor keep such a trust. But if it be one whose repentance giveth you reason to believe, that his impunity will be more to the common good than his punishment, and that if the magistrate knew it, he ought to spare or pardon him, in this case you may conceal his person or estate; so be it you do it not by a lie, or any other sinful means, or such as will do more hurt than good.
Quest. x. · What if a friend intrust me with his estate to secure it from some great taxes or tributes to the king ? May I keep such a trust or not?'
Answ. No; if they be just and legal taxes, for the maintenance of the niagistrate or preservation of the commonwealth : but if it be done by an usurper that hath no authority, (or done without or beyond authority, the oppressing of the subject, you may conceal his estate or your own) by lawful means.
Quest. xi. . What if a man that suffereth for religion, commit his person or estate to my trust?'
Answ. You must be faithful to your trust, 1. If it be true religion and a good cause for which he suffereth. 2. Or if he be falsely accused of abuses in religion. 3. Or if he be faulty; but the penalty intended, from which you secure him, is incomparably beyond his fault and unjust. Supposing still that you save him only by lawful means, and that it be not like to tend to do more hurt than good, to the cause of religion or the commonwealth.
Quest. xu. What if a Papist or other erroneous person intrust me (being of the same mind) to educate his children in that way, when he is dead, and afterward I come to see the error, must I perform that trust or not?'
Answ. No: 1. Because no trust can oblige you to do hurt. 2. Because it is contrary to the primary intent of your friend; which was his children's good. And you may
suppose that had he seen his error, he would have intrusted you to do accordingly: you are bound therefore to answer his primary intention, and truly to endeavour his children's good.
Quest. XIII. • But what if a man to whom another hath intrusted his children, turn Papist or heretic, and so thinketh error to be truth? what must he do ?'
Answ. He is bound to turn back again to the truth, and do accordingly.
Object. ' But one saith this is the truth and another that; and he thinketh he is right.'
Answ. There is but one of the contraries true. Men's thinking themselves to be in the right doth not make it so: and God will not change his laws, because they misunderstand or break them. Therefore still that which God bindeth them to is to return unto the truth. And if they think that to be truth which is not, they are bound to think otherwise. If you say, They cannot; it is either not true, or it is long of themselves that they cannot: and they that cannot immediately, yet mediately can do it, in the due use of
Quest. xiv. What if I foresee that the taking of a trust may hazard my estate, or otherwise hurt me, and yet my dying (or living) friend desireth it ?'
Answ. How far the law of Christianity or friendship oblige you to hurt yourself for his good, must be discerned by a prudent considering what your obligations are to the person, and whether the good of your granting his desires, or the hurt to yourself is like to be the greater, and of more public consequence; and whether you injure not your own children or others by gratifying him: and upon such comparison prudence must determine the case.
Quest. xv. · But what if afterward the trust prove more to my hurt than I foresaw ?'
Answ. If it was your own fault that you foresaw it not, you must suffer proportionably for that fault. But other
you must compare your own hurt with the orphans in case you do not perform the trust; and consider whether they may not be relieved another way; and whether you have reason to think that if the parent were alive and knew your danger, he would expect you should perform your
trust, or would discharge you of it. If it be some great and unexpected dangers, which you think upon good grounds the parent would acquit you from if he were living, you fulfil your trust if you avoid them, and do that which would have been his will if he had known it. Otherwise you must perform your promise though it be to your loss and suffering?
Quest, xvi. ' But what if it was only a trust imposed by his desire and will, without my acceptance or promise to perform it?'
Answ. You must do as you would be done by, and as the common good, and the laws of love and friendship do require. Therefore the quality of the person, and your obligations to him, and especially the comparing of the consequent good and evil together must decide the case.
Quest. xvii. 'What if the surviving kindred of the orphan be nearer to him than I am, and they censure me and calumniate me as injurious to the orphan, may I not ease myself of the trust, and cast it upon them ?
Answ. In this case also, the measure of your suffering must first be compared with the measure of the orphan's good; and then your conscience must tell you whether you verily think the parent who intrusted you, would discharge you if he were alive and knew the case. If he would, though you promised, it is to be supposed that it was not the meaning of his desire or your promise, to incur such suffering : and if you believe that he would not discharge you if he were alive, then if you promised you must perform ; but if you promised not, you must go no farther than the law of love requireth.
Quest. xvii. · What is a minister of Christ to do, if a penitent person confess secretly some heinous or capital crime to him, (as adultery, theft, robbery, murder :) must it be concealed or not?'
Answ. 1. If a purpose of sinning be antecedently confessed, it is unlawful to farther the crime, or give opportunity to it by a concealment : but it must be so far opened as is necessary for the prevention of another's sin ; especially if it be treason against the king or kingdom, or any thing against the common good.
2. When the punishment of the offender is apparently