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hope to borrow of:’ or else ‘Lend not only to them that are able to pay you, and where your stock is secured, but to the needy where your money is hazarded; and though they will pay you if they are able, yet you have little or no hope that ever they should be able to repay : lend so, as to be willing to make a gift of it in case the borrower never repay it.” And there is no other text that can be pretended against it, in the New Testament. 3. And that the law of nature doth not forbid all usury, will appear by examining the several parts of it. The law of nature forbiddeth but three sorts of sin: 1. Those that are against piety to God. 2. Those that are against our own welfare. 3. Those that are against our neighbour's good: and that is, 1. Against justice. 2. Against charity. There is none that falleth not under some of these heads. 1. And that usury is not naturally evil as against piety to God; 2. Or as against ourselves, and our own welfare, I need not prove, because no reason nor reasonable person doth lay any such accusation against it. Though they that think it absolutely unlawful, say that it is consequently against God, as every violation of his law is. But that is nothing to the case. 3. Therefore there is no doubt but the whole controversy is resolved into this last question, ‘Whether all usury be against justice or charity to our neighbour.’ Justice obligeth me to give him his own; charity obligeth me to give him more than his own, in certain cases; as one that love him as myself. That which is not against justice, may be against charity: but that which is against charity, is not always against justice strictly taken. And that which is an act of true charity, is never against justice; because he that giveth his neighbour more than his own, doth give him his own and more. There is an usury which is against justice and charity. There is an usury which is against charity, but not against mere justice : and there is an usury which is against neither justice nor charity. If I prove it charitable it is superfluous to say more. All the instances before given are notoriously charitable. That which is for the preservation of the lives and comforts of the poor, and of orphans, or for the enriching of my neighbour is an act of charity; but such is some usury, past all doubt, as is before declared. Where the contrary is an act of cruelty, the usury is not against charity, but for it. For the rich to deny to the poor and orphans a part of that gain, which they make by the improvement of their own money, is oppression and cruelty: if it be cruel to let a beggar die or starve, when we should feed and clothe him of our own; much more to let the poor and orphans starve and perish rather than give them the increase of their own, or part of it at least. As for them that say, ‘It may be as well improved otherwise, they are inexperienced men:’ it is a known falsehood as to the most; though some few may meet with such opportunities. At least it is nothing to them that cannot have other ways of improving it; who are very many. Moreover, when it is not an act of charity, yet it may be not against charity in these cases: 1. When the lender is poor and the borrower rich: yea, it may be a sin to lend it freely. “He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that gives to the rich, shall surely come to want “.” It is a giving to the rich to lend freely that money which they improve to the increase of their riches. 2. When the lender is not obliged to that act of charity, though the borrower be poorer than himself. Which falleth out in a hundred cases; and may be comprised under this one general; When the lender is obliged to expend that same money in some other greater, better work: as at the same time while a man that is worth but twenty pounds a year, is in debt to a man that hath a thousand pounds a year, there may be an hundred or a thousand poor people worth nothing, ready to perish, whom the rich is rather bound to succour, than him that hath but twenty pounds a year. And there may be works of piety (as to set up a school, or promote the preaching of the Gospel), which may be as great as either. And the richest that is, cannot do all the good that is to be done, nor relieve all the persons that are in want; therefore when he must leave much undone, if he would give all his substance, it is (‘casteris paribus') a sin, to give that to a man that can make shift without it, and pass by an hundred in much deeper necessity and distress; so that he who either exerciseth charity in his
usury, or doth nothing against charity and justice, certainly sinneth not by that usury. For all the Scriptures which speak against usury, speak against it as a cruel or uncharitable thing. Object. “But it is sometimes necessary for a law to forbid that which otherwise would be good, when it cannot be done, without encouraging others to a greater evil; such as ordinary usury is; and then that law must be observed.” Answ. This is true “in thesi,' that such cases there are; but it is unproved and untrue in this case; for, 1. There is no such law. 2. There is no such reason or necessity of such a law. For God can as well make laws against unrighteous or uncharitable increase or usury, without forbidding that which is charitable and just, as he can make laws against unrighteous or uncharitable buying or selling without condemning that which was good and just : or as he can forbid gluttony, drunkenness, idleness, pride, without forbidding eating, drinking, apparel or riches. He can easily tell men of whom and in what case to take use, and when not. He that would see all other objections answered, and the case fully handled, hath many treatises on both sides extant to inform him, II. That there is a sort of usury which is evil I know of no man that doubteth, and therefore need not stand to prove. * Quest. “When is usury sinful?’ Answ. As is before said, When it is against either justice or charity; 1. When it is like cheating bargaining, which under pretence of consent and a form of justice doth deceive or oppress, and get from another that which is not truly ours but his. 2. When you lend for increase where charity obligeth you to lend freely; even as it is a sin to lend expecting your own again, when charity obligeth you to give it. 3. When you uncharitably exact that which your brother is disabled utterly to pay, and use cruelty to procure it, (be it the use or the principal.) 4. When you allow him not such a proportion of the gain as his labour, hazard or poverty doth require; but because the money is yours, will live at ease upon his labours. 5. When in case of his losses you rigorously exact your due without that
abatement, or forgiving debts (whether use or principal), which humanity and charity require. In a word, when you are selfish and do not as, according to true judgment, you may desire to be done by, if you were in his case. Quest. “But when am I bound to exercise this charity in not taking use 2' Answ. As I said before, 1. Whenever you have no more urgent, and necessary, and excellent work, to lay out that money on, which you are so to receive. 2. Yea, though another work may be in itself better, (as to relieve many poorer, better men with that money,) yet when you cannot take it, without the utter undoing of the debtor, and bringing him into as bad a case, as any single person whom you would relieve, it is the safer side to leave the other unrelieved, (unless it be a person on whom the public good much dependeth) rather than to extort your own from such a one to give another. Because that which you cannot get without a scandalous appearance of cruelty, is “quoad jus in re' not yours to give, till you can better get possession of it; and therefore God will not expect that you should give it to another. In all this I imply that as you must prefer the lives of others in giving alms, before your own conveniences and comforts, and must not say, ‘I cannot spare it,” when your necessity may spare it, though not your pleasure; so also in taking use, of those that you are bound to shew charity to, the same rule and proportions must be observed in your charity. Note also, that in all this it appeareth, that the case is but gradually different, between taking the use and taking the principal. For when the reason for remitting is the same, you are as well bound to remit the principal as the use. But this difference there is, that many a man of low estate may afford to lend freely to a poorer man for a little time, who cannot afford to give it. And prudence may direct us to choose one man to lend freely to for a time, because of his sudden necessity, when yet another is fitter to give it to. Quest. x 111. ‘Is lending a duty 2 If so, must I lend to all that ask me, or to whom ''
Answ. Lending is a duty, when we have it, and our brother's necessity requireth it, and true prudence telleth us, that we have no better way to lay it out, which is inconsistent with that. And therefore rich men ordinarily should both lend and give as prudence shall direct. But there is an imprudent and so a sinful lending; as 1. When you will lend that which is another's, and you have no power to lend. 2. When you lend that which you must needs require again, while you might easily foresee that the borrower is not like to pay. Lend nothing but what you have either great probability will be repaid, or else which you are willing to give in case the debtor cannot or will not pay; or at least when suing for it, will not have scandalous and worse effects than not lending. For it is very ordinary when you come to demand it and sue for it, to stir up the hatred of the debtor against you, and to make him your enemy, and to break his charity by your imprudent charity; in such a case, if you are obliged to relieve him, give him so much as you can spare, rather than lend him that which you cannot spare, but must sue for. In such cases, if charity go not without prudence, nor prudence without charity, you may well enough see when to lend, and how much. Quest. xiv. “Is it lawful to take upon usury in necessity, when the creditor doth unjustly or unmercifully require it?” Answ. Not in case that the consequents (by encouraging sin or otherwise) be like to do more hurt, than the money will do you good. Else, it is lawful when it is for your benefit; as it is lawful to take part of your wages for your work, or part of the worth of your commodity, when you cannot have the whole; and as it is lawful to purchase your rights of an enemy, or your life of a thief as is aforesaid. A man may buy his own benefit of an unrighteous Inan. Quest. x v. “Doth not contracting for a certain sum of gain, make usury in that case unlawful, which might lawfully be taken of one that is free ?’ Answ. Yes, in case that contracting determine an uncertain case without sufficient cause: as if you agree, that whether the borrower gain or lose, and be poor or rich, I will have so much gain; that is, whether it prove merci