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will not lend, when he knoweth your case. And you must not at all conceal it from him. Object. “But it may be my ruin to open my full state to another.’ Answ. You must not live upon cheating and thievery to prevent your ruin: and what can it be less to get another man's money against his will, if you hide your case, which if he knew he would not lend it you. Object. “But what if I tell him plainly, that I will pay him certainly by borrowing of another, though I cannot pay him for mine own, and though I be not like to pay the last?” Answ. If you truly thus open your case to every one that you borrow of, you may take it, if they will lend it; for then you have their consent: and it is supposed, that every one is willing to run the hazard of being the last creditor. Quest, 1x. ‘May I lend upon pledges, pawns, or mortgages for my security ?” Answ. Yes, so you take not that from a poor man for a pledge, which is necessary to his livelihood and maintenance : as the bed which he should lie on, the clothes which he should wear, or the tools which he should work with ; and be not cruel on pretence of mercy. Quest. x. ‘May I take the forfeiture and keep a pledge or mortgage upon covenants o' Answ. If it be among merchants and rich men, an act of merchandize, and not of mere security for money lent, then it is another case: as if they make a bargain thus, ‘Take this jewel or this land for your money; and it shall be yours if I pay you not at such a day: I am willing to stand to the hazard of uncertainty; if I pay you not, suppose it is for my own commodity, and not through disability.” In this case it is lawful to take the forfeiture, or detain the thing. But if it be properly but a pledge to secure the money, then the final intent is but that your money may be repaid : and you may not take the advantage of breaking a day, to take that from another which is none of your own. Justice will allow you only to take so much as your money came to, and to give the overplus (if there be any) to the debtor. And mercy will require you rather to forgive the debt, than to keep a pledge which he cannot spare, but to
his ruin and misery (as his food, his raiment, his tools, his house, &c.) unless you be in as great necessity as he. Quest. x 1. ‘May I take the bond or promise of a third person as security for my money?' Answ. Yes, in case that other be able and willing to be responsible; for you have his own consent; but great caution should be used, that you take no man that is insufficient, from whom mercy forbiddeth you to take it, in case the principal debtor fail; unless you take his suretiship but “in terrorem,” resolving not to take it of him: and also that you faithfully tell the sureties that you must require it of them in case of non-payment, and therefore try whether indeed they are truly willing to pay it: for if they be such as truly presume that you will not take it of them, or will take it ill to be sued for it, you should not take their suretiship, unless you purpose not to seek it (except in necessity). Quest. x11. “Is it lawful to lend upon usury, interest, or increase ?” Answ. This controversy hath so many full treatises written on it, that I cannot expect that so few words as I must lay out upon it, should satisfy the studious reader. All the disputes about the name of usury I pass by ; it being, ‘The receiving any additional gain as due for money lent,’ which is commonly meant by the word, and which we mean in the question. For the questions, “Whether we may bargain for it, or tie the debtor to pay it?” “Whether we may take it after his gain as partaking in it, or before ?' “Whether we must partake also in the loss, if the debtor be a loser 7" with other such like, are but subsequent to the main question, “Whether any gain (called use) may be taken by the lender as his due for the money lent” My judgment is as followeth. I. There is some such gain or usury lawful and commendable. II. There is some such gain or usury unlawful and a heinous sin. I shall first give my reasons of the first proposition. I. If all usury be forbidden it is either by the law of nature, or by some positive law of supernatural revelation: if the latter, it is either by some law of Moses, or by some law of Christ: if the former, it is either as against the rule of piety to God, or against justice or charity to men. That which is neither a violation of the natural laws of piety, justice, or charity; nor against the supernaturally revealed laws of Moses or of Christ, is not unlawful. But there is some usury which is against none of these; therefore there is some usury which is not unlawful. I will first lay you down the instances of such usury, and then prove it. There is a parcel of land to be sold for a thousand pounds, which is worth forty pounds per annum, and hath wood on it worth a thousand pounds: (some such things we have known :) John N. is willing to purchase it; but he hath a poor neighbour, T. S. that hath no money, but a great desire of the bargain. J. N. loving his neighbour as himself, and desiring his wealth, lendeth him the thousand pounds upon usury for one year. T. S. buyeth the land, and selleth the wood for the same money, and repayeth it in a year, and so hath all the land for almost nothing, as if J. N. had purchased the land and freely given it him, after a year or two ; the gift had been the same. Object. ‘Here you suppose the seller wronged by selling his land almost for nothing.’ Answ. 1. That is nothing at all to the present case, but a different case by itself. 2. I can put many cases in which such a sale may be made without any wrong to the seller: as when it is done by some prince, or state, or noble and liberal person, purposely designing the enriching of the subjects, or after a war, as lately in Ireland. So that the question is, whether J. N. may not give T. S. a thousand or eight hundred pounds worth of land, taking a year's rent first out of the land, or a year's use for the money, which cometh to the same sum. Another, a rich merchant trading into the East Indies, having five thousand pounds to lay out upon his commodities in traffic, when he hath laid out four thousand five hundred pounds, lendeth in charity the other five hundred pounds to one of his servants to lay out upon a commodity, which when it cometh home will be worth two thousand pounds; and offereth him to secure the carriage with his own; requiring only the use of his money at six per cent. Here the taking of thirty pounds use, is but the giving him one thousand four hundred and seventy pounds, and is all one with deducting so much of the gift.
Another instance; certain orphans having nothing left them but so much money as will by the allowed use of it, find them bread and poor clothing: the guardian cannot lay it out in lands for them; and if he maintain them upon the stock, it will be quickly spent, and he must answer for it: a rich man that is their neighbour tradeth in iron works, (furnaces or forges,) or lead works, or other such commodities, in which he constantly getteth the double of the stock which he employeth, or at least twenty pounds or forty pounds in the hundred ; the guardian dare not lend the money to any poor man, lest he break and never be able to pay it; therefore he lendeth it this rich man. And if he have it without usury, the poor orphans give the rich man freely twenty pounds or forty pounds a year, supposing their stock to be an hundred ; if he take usury, the rich man doth but give the poor orphans some part of his constant gain. Another instance; in a city or corporation where there is a rich trade of clothing or making silks, there is a stock of money given by legacy for the poor, and intrusted into the hands of the richest of the city, to trade with and give the poor the use of it: and there is another stock left to set up young beginners, who have not a stock to set up themselves; on condition that they give the third part of their gain to the poor, and at seven years' end resign the stock: the question is, “Whether the poor should be without this use of their money, and let the rich go away with it? or whether they may take it?” Now I prove that such usury is not forbidden by God. 1. It is not forbidden us by the law of Moses: (1.) Because Moses's law never did forbid it: for, l. It is expressly forbidden as an act of unmercifulness; and therefore forbidden only to the poor and to brethren, Exod. xxii. 25. Levit. xxv. 36, 37. Yea, when the poor are not named, it is the poor that are meant; because in that country they did not keep up stocks for merchandize or trading, but lent usually to the needy only ; at least the circumstances of the several texts shew, that it is only lending to the needy, and not lending to drive on any enriching trades, which is meant where usury is forbidden". 2. And it is expressly allowed to be used to strangers, Deut. xxiii. 19, 20., to whom nothing unjust or uncharitable might be done; only such a measure of charity was not required towards them, as unto brethren. And there were more merchants of strangers that traded with them in foreign commodities, than of Jews that fetched them home : so that the prohibition of usury is in the law itself restrained only to their lending to the poor; but in the prophets who do but reprove the sin, it is expressed without that limitation, partly because it supposeth the meaning of the law to be known, which the prophets did but apply: and partly because there was little or no lending used among the Jews, but to the needy as an act of charity. (2.) And if it had been forbidden in Moses's law only, it would not extend to Christians now ; because the law of Moses as such, is not in force: the matter of it is much of the law of nature indeed; but as Mosaical, it was proper to the Jews and proselytes, or at least extended not to the Christian Gentiles; as is plain in 2 Cor. iii. 7. Gal. iii. 19. 24. v. 3. Ephes. ii. 15. 1 Tim. i. 7. Heb. vii. 12. 16. 19. Moses's law as such never bound any other nations, but the proselytes that joined themselves to the Jews (nor was all the world obliged so to be proselyted as to take up their laws): much less do they bind us that are the servants of Christ, so long after the dissolution of their commonwealth. So much of them as are part of the law of nature, or of any positive law of Christ, or of the civil law of any state, are binding as they are such natural, Christian, or civil laws. But not one of them as Mosaical: though the Mosaical law is of great use to help us to understand the law of nature in many particular instances, in which it is somewhat difficult to us. 2. There is no positive law of Christ forbidding all usury: as for Luke vi. 32. 35. it is plainly nothing to the case; for he saith not, “Lend, looking for no gain or increase,’ but ‘looking for nothing again.” And the context sheweth that the meaning must be one of these two : either q. d. “Lend not only to them that will lend to you again when you are in want; but even to the poor, that you can never
* Exod. Xx. 21. “ Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him.” Exod.
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