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are worth to you, though it be above the common price; seeing the buyer is free to take or leave them. 4. But if that which you have to sell be extraordinarily desirable, or worth to some one person more than to you or another man, you must not make too great an advantage of his convenience or desire; but be glad that you can pleasure him, upon equal, fair, and honest terms. 5. If there be a secret worth in your commodity which the market will take no notice of, (as it is usual in a horse,) it is lawful for you to take according to that true worth if you can get it. But it is a false rule of them that think their commodity is worth as much as any one will give. Quest. v. ‘Is it lawful to make a thing seem better than it is, by trimming, adorning, or setting the best side outward or in sight; or to conceal the faults of what I am to sell ?” Answ. It is lawful to dress, polish, adorn, or set out your commodity, to make it seem as it is indeed, but not to make it seem better than it is ; except in some very few unusual cases: as if you deal with some fantastical fool, who will not buy it, nor give you the true worth, except it be so set out, and made in some respects to seem better than it is. It is lawful so far to serve their curiosity or humour, as to get the worth of your commodity. But if you do it to get more than the worth by deceiving, it is a sin. And such glossing hath so notable an appearance of deceit, that for that scandal it should be avoided. 2. And as for concealing the fault, the case is the same: you ought not to deceive your neighbour, but to do as you would be done by: and therefore must not conceal any fault which he desireth, or is concerned to know. Except it be, when you deal with one who maketh a far greater matter of that fault than there is cause, and would wrong you in the price if it were known : yea, and that exception will not hold neither, except in a case when you must needs sell, and they must buy it : because 1. You may not have another man's money against his will, though it be no more than the thing is worth. 2. Because it will be scandalous when the fault is known by him that buyeth it. Quest. vi. “What if the fault was concealed from me when I bought it, or if I were deceived or overreached by
him that sold it me, and gave more than the worth, may I not repair my loss by doing as I was done by ?” Answ. No : no more than you may cut another's purse, because yours was cut: you must do as you would be done by, and not as you are done by. What you may do with the man that deceived you, is a harder question: but doubtless you may not wrong an honest man, because you were wronged by a knave. Object. “But it is taken for granted in the market, that every man will get as much as he can have, and that ‘ caveat emptor’ is the only security; and therefore every man trusteth to his own wit, and not to the seller's honesty, and so resolveth to run the hazard.” Answ. It is not so among Christians, nor infidels who
profess either truth or common honesty. If you come.
among a company of cut-purses, where the match is made thus, ‘Look thou to thy purse, and I will look to mine, and he that can get most let him take it!” then indeed you have no reason to trust another. But there are no tradesmen or buyers who will profess that they look not to be trusted, or say, ‘I will lie or deceive you if I can. Among thieves and pirates such total distrust may be allowed: but among sober persons in civil societies and converse, we must in reason and charity expect some truth and honesty, and not presume them to be all liars and deceivers, that we may seem to have allowance to be such ourselves. Indeed we trust them, not absolutely as saints, but with a mixture of distrust, as fallible and faulty men: and so as to trust our own circumspection above their words, when we know not the persons to be very just. But we have no cause to make a market a place of mere deceit, where every one saith, “Trust not me, and I will not trust thee; but let us all take one another for cheats and liars, and get what we can!' Such censures savour not of charity, or of just intentions. Quest. vii. “What if I foresee a plenty and cheapness in a time of dearth, which the buyer foreseeth not, (as if I know that there are ships coming in with store of that commodity which will make it cheap,) am I bound to tell the buyer of it, and hinder my own gain?’ Answ. There may be some instances in trading with enemies, or with rich men, that regard not such matters, or
with men that are supposed to know it as well as you, in which you are not bound to tell them. But in your ordinary equal trading, when you have reason to think that the buyer knoweth it not, and would not give so dear if he knew it, you are bound to tell him : because you must love your neighbour as yourself, and do as you would be done by, and not take advantage of his ignorance. Quest. v1.11. ‘If I foresee a dearth, may I keep my commodity till then?” Answ. Yes; unless it be to the hurt of the commonwealth, as if your keeping it in, be the cause of the dearth; and your bringing it forth would help to prevent it. Quest. 1x. ‘May one use many words in buying and selling?” Answ. You must use no more than are true, and just, and useful : but there are more words needful with some persons who are talkative and unsatisfied than with others. Quest. x. ‘May I buy as cheap as I can get it, or give less than the thing is worth?’ Answ. If it be worth more to you than the market price, (through your necessity,) you are not bound to give above the market price. If it be worth less to you than the market price, you are not bound to give more than it is worth to you, as suited to your use. But you must not desire nor seek to get another's goods or labour for less than it is worth in both these respects, (in common estimate, and to you.) Quest. x 1. ‘May I take advantage of another's necessity to buy for less than the worth, or sell for more: as e.g. a poor man must needs have money suddenly for his goods though he sell them but for half the worth; and I have no need of them: am I bound to give him the worth when I have no need? and when it is a great kindness to him to give him any thing in that strait? So also when I have no desire to sell my horse, and another's necessity maketh him willing to give more than he is worth, may I not take it?” Answ. To the first case: you must distinguish between an act of justice and of charity; and between your need of the thing, and the worth of it to you. Though you have no need of the poor man's goods, yet if you buy them, both justice and charity require that you give him as much as they are worth to you, though not so much as they are worth in the market: yea, and that you buy them of him in his necessity; for if you give him but what they are worth to you, you are no loser by it: and you should do another good, when it is not to your own hurt or loss. By ‘what they are worth to you,' I mean so much as that you be no loser. As, if it be meat or drink, though you have no present need, perhaps you will shortly have need, and if you buy not that, you must buy as much of somewhat else. In strict justice you may be a saver, but not a gainer, by buying of the poor in their necessity. 2. But if you buy a durable commodity for less than it is worth, you should take it but as a pledge, and allow the seller liberty to redeem it if he can, that he may get more after of another. 3. And to the poor in such necessity, charity must be exercised as well as justice. Therefore if you are able to lend them money to save them the loss of underselling, you should do it: (I account that man only able who hath money which no greater service of God requireth). And if you are not able yourself, you should endeavour to get some others to relieve him, if you can without a greater inconvenience. And for the second case, it is answered before: you may not take more than it is worth, ever the more for another's necessity: nor in any other case than you might have done it in, if there had been no such necessity of his. Quest. x 11. ‘May I not make advantage of another's ignorance or error in the bargaining 7' Answ. Not to get more than your commodity is worth, nor to get his goods for less than the worth: no, nor to get the true worth against his will, or with scandal: but if it be only to get a true worth of your commodity when he is willing, but would be offended if his ignorance in some point were cured, you may so far make use of his ignorance to a lawful end, as is said before in the case of concealing faults. Quest. x 111. ‘May I strive to get before another, to get a good bargain which he desireth !' Answ. Yes, if you do it not out of a greedy mind, nor to the injury of one that is poorer than yourself: you should rather further the supply of your neighbour's greater needs: otherwise speed and industry in your calling is no fault, nor yet the crossing of a covetous man's desires: you are not bound to let every man have what he would have.
Quest. xiv. May I buy a thing out of another's hand, or hire a servant, which another is about or is treating with ? Or may I call a chapman from another to buy of me?’ Answ. There are some cases in which you may not do it, and some in which you may. You may not do it out of greedy covetousness; nor to the injury of the poor; nor when the other hath gone so far in the bargain that it cannot be honestly broken; for then you injure the third person, and tempt the other to a sin: nor may you do it so as to disturb that due and civil order, which should be among moderate men in trading. And it is a great matter how the thing is accounted of by the custom of the country or market where you bargain: for where it is of ill report, and accounted as unjust, the scandal should make you avoid such a course. But yet in some cases it is lawful, and in some a needful duty. It is lawful when none of the aforesaid reasons (or any such other) are against it. It is a duty when charity to the poor or oppressed doth require it: as, e. g. a poor man must needs sell his land, his horse, his corn or goods; a covetous oppressor offereth him less than they are worth; the poor man must take his offer if he can get no more; the oppressor saith that it is injustice for any one to take his bargain out of his hand, or offer money till he have done: in this case it may be a duty, to offer the poor man the worth of his commodity, and save him from the oppressor. A covetous man offereth a servant or labourer less than their service or labour is worth, and will accuse you, if you interrupt his bargain, and would offer his servant more: in this case it may be your duty to help the servant to a better master. A chapman is ready to be cheated by an unconscionable tradesman, to give much more for a commodity than it is worth; charity may oblige you in such a case to offer it him cheaper. In a word, if you do it for your own gain, in a greedy manner, it is a sin: but if you do it when it is not scandalous or injurious, or do it in charity for another's good, it is lawful, and sometimes a duty. Quest. xv. ‘May I dispraise another's commodity to draw the buyer to my own 2' Answ. This case is sufficiently answered in the former : 1. You may not use any false dispraise. 2. Nor a true one out of covetousness, nor in a scandalous manner. 3. But