In a Sermon preached at Southampton the 18. day of Iuly, being Thursday, and their Lecture day, 1633.

By ROGER TVRNER Mr. of Arts, and Minister of Gods Word neere SOVTHAMPTON.

AVG. in Psal. 36. Serm. 3.

Qui prohibit te esse foeneratorum ille jubet te esse foeneratorem.

LONDON, Printed by E. P. for Robert Bostocke, and are to be sould at his shop in Pauls Church-yard, at the signe of the Kings head, 1634.

TO THE RIGHT Worshipfull the Maior, Alder­men, Burgesses, and the rest of that ancient and famous Corporation of Southampton, the Author wisheth the blessings of this life and of a better.

GENTLEMEN, here is that presented to your eyes, which not long since sounded in your eares; that common Apologie for being men in print, (the importunity of friends) cannot be altogether mine, for some whom this may most concerne, will least desire it; but when I remember that ancient saying of Lucian, Encomien pe­triae. [...], that the smoake of a mans owne country is better than the fire of another; I doubt not but that these my tender labours (which are but smoaky vapours of ignorance, compared to the enlightning fire of others knowledge, such as daily you heare) shall finde an easier passage into your acceptance, because here I had my first being where you all have your happy dwelling. 'Twas once farre from my meaning to have exposed my selfe to the paraphrase of this censorious age, but rather to have hid this weak conception, never to have [Page]come to the birth: but when it would no longer endure to be imprisoned in the womb, but violently breake forth; I thought (being my first borne) to deale cautelously with it, though not with the Aegyptians cruelly to murther it; yet with Moses his parents charitably to hide it for my owne private use, it might have had the hap to have been still-borne, but it hath cried, and some that then heard it, have since desired to heare it speake, thinking it may live and doe some good, and although it speake somewhat bitterly, and bite so close (which perhaps some may not re­lish) yet it bites nothing but sinne, I see no reason why we should spare the least sinne, since for it the world was drowned to punish it, the Law given to prevent it, the Sonne of the most high dyed to satisfie for it, and the world shall againe be destroyed to finish it, much lesse a sinne of this nature, so hainous, so detestable. For the matter hereof I have imitated, not the spider, but the Bee, the spiders web is not the more commendable because it is woven out of its owne bowels, nor the Bees honey lesse use­full and pleasant because it is gathered from severall flowers, what ever it be 'twas yours first in the intention and occasion; now in the protection and nourishment: 'tis not so farre put forth to nurse, but that the parents shall quickly see the good usage of it, if it thrive in your kee­ping, you have crowned the desires and endeavours of him who is at

Your service in Christ, and for his truth, ROGER TVRNER.


MATH. 25.27.

Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the Ex­changers, that when J had come, J might have had my owne with Ʋsury.

THese words at the first view may seeme to countenance a sinne, too frequently pra­ctised in these gold-thirsty dayes; I meane that biting sinne of Vsury, grown now to a profession; but the Text being parabolicall, cannot be a sufficient foun­dation, whereon to raise an argument to prove the lawfulnesse thereof: for it is an ancient saying in the Schooles, that Scriptura parabolica non est argumentativa: & besides,22. q. 78. art. 1.1. m. this Vsury here in the Text is taken metaphorically (as Aquinas observes) for spirituall thriftinesse, and the increase of those spirituall gifts and gra­ces which God bestowes upon us, willing us to profit, gaine, and goe forward in them; which tends to our advantage, not unto his; this will more easily appeare if wee observe but the scope and drift of this parable, which I will but touch, that so it may appeare how farre they are mistaken, who make this Text a foundation whereon to ground the lawfulnesse of Vsury.

The Parable begins thus; The Kingdome of heaven is like unto a man who going into a farre Country called his servants and delivered them his goods, to one he gave five tallents, to another two, to a third one, to each man according to his abi­lity, prudence, and faculty to gaine thereby, the first that had received five tallents by his industry doubled them and gained five more;Verse 16. so he that had received two, gained likewise other two; but he that received one, fearing that if he should have im­ployed his tallent, instead of gaine hee might reape some de­triment or losse, hee therefore digs and hides his talent in the earth, thinking that he had done sufficiently if he restored his money whole to his Master as he received it.

After a long season, the Master of these servants returnes to call them to account; the first that by the well imployment of his five tallents had gained five more, is entertained by his Master both with praise and reward; so likewise the second; but the third, when he came to give an account, confesseth that he had hid his tallent in the earth, and begins by laying an ac­cusation on his Master to excuse himselfe for so doing: I knew (saith he to his Master) that thou wert an hard man,Verse 24. reaping where thou sowedst not, and gathering where thou strowedst not; I was therefore afraid, and went and hid my talent in the earth, behold thou hast thine own; but his Master by way of increpation retorts his owne words, calling him evill and slothfull servant; seeing, saith he, thou knewest me to be such a one as thou saiest, reaping where I sowed not, and gathering where I strowed not, thou oughtest therefore to have given my money to the Exchangers, &c.

Now for the explication hereof, by a certaine man here is meant our blessed Savior, by going into a far country is meant his departure from earth to heaven, where hee now sits at the right hand of his Father, till he shall returne unto judgement, he called his servants, that is, us Christians into his Church, to us be hath delivered his goods i. e. gifts and blessings both corporall and spirituall, for all are the gifts of God, now because God gives not to every man alike, but on some he be­stowes greater gifts, on other lesser: therefore the Master is [Page 3]here said to give to one servant five tallents, to another two, to a third one, yet all these tallents, i. e. these gifts and bles­sings are bestowed on us, not that they should be idle, but im­ployed to advantage and profit; now they are said to gaine by their tallent who religiously imploy those gifts of God, as the understanding, will, memory, the faculties of soule and body, arts, sciences, and all vertues, and so are every day made richer in good workes, and they are compared to the evill and slothfull servant, who having received many great and singu­lar gifts from God, doe as it were fold them up in a Napkin, bury them in the earth, and suffer them to rust for want of im­ployment, neither benefiting themselves nor profitting their neighbours; for in the interpretation of S. Hierome, he is said to hide and bury his tallent in the earth, who savouring of no­thing but earthly things, gives himselfe over to the pleasures of this life, neglects the Commandements of God, and choaks the good feed of faith by the thorny cares of this world. This part of the parable then is interpreted of all those gifts in generall, which man receives from God, whether naturall or supernaturall, all being bestowed that they may be improved in spirituall thriftinesse, in the workes of piety and holinesse, and it agrees to all Christians in generall, but more especially (in the opinion of Marlorat and others) to the Ministers and Pastours of the Church.

Concerning the tallent, there are diverse interpretations thereof, some by the five tallents, understand the gift of the five senses, by the two tallents knowledge and memory; by one, reason whereby men are distinguisht from beasts; others by the tallent understand the Word of God heard and taught; others the gift of faith; others the gift of teaching; or any o­ther gift or faculty whatsoever, whereby a man may doe good unto his Neighbour, whether by authority to protect him, or by riches to helpe him, or by learning and wisdome to in­struct him, or by any other meanes whereby thou maist helpe or profit thy brother. But I hasten to the Text.

Which is nothing else but an Exprobration of the slothfull servant, for not imploying his tallent as the two former had [Page 4]done: and this rebuke or checke is drawne from the custome of men in these dayes who were wont to let out their money upon Vsury; the word in the originall is [...], Table­mates, they were called Campsores or Foeneratores Exchan­gers, men that did either exchange great summes of money and so gained thereby, or else they were such as were wont to borrow money upon Vsury; for such kind of men, wanting oftentimes great summes of money (as Merchants are wont to doe) were wont to take upon use, and afterward pay it againe with some profit to the lender; now this kind of gaine was without danger in respect of the principall. Therefore the Master saith to the evill and slothfull servant, thou oughtest to have given my mony to the Exchangers, where there might have beene gaine without danger. Now because our Saviour by drawing a similitude, frames a comparison from the cu­stome of those times. Shall any man therefore make this Text a plea to justifie him in the practise of Vsury?Math. 16.10. as well may we prove the lawfulnesse of injustice from that Parable of the theevish Steward; or of theft, because it is said, that Christ shall come like a theefe in the night;1 Thes. 5.2. or of heathenish Olym­picke-games, in comparing the practise of Christians to those rates;1 Cor. 9.24. Math. 11.17. or of dancing from that parabolicall speech, Wee have piped unto you, and yee have not danced: But because this Text hath been urged by some to prove the lawfulnesse there­of, and that I have so oportunely met with this sinne so fre­quently practised, so seldome preacht against; nay, some that should tell Iudah of this fault, and Israel of this transgression, are such as the Prophet Esaiah speakes of,Esa. 56.11. where the Prophet is very bitter, men looking after their owne wayes, every one for his owne advantage, and for his owne purpose, practisers hereof themselves. I shall not goe farre beyond the limits of my Text, if I a little prosecute this sinne, and yet I must pre­vent a prejudicate opinion, I come not like Aesops Foxe, that having no tayle, would needs perswade all the rest to cut off theirs: or had I beene bitten, I would not have come hi­ther to snarle, the sinne is all I ayme at, which I intend to pursue.

'Twas the saying of a merry man, that in Christendome,Heysin Geogr. p. 222. there were neither Schollers enough, Gentlemen enough, nor Iewes enough, and when answer was made that of all these there were rather too great a plenty than any scarcity at all, he replyed, that if there were Schollers enough, there would not be so many double and treble beneficed men as there are; if Gentlemen enough, so many peasants would not be ranked amongst the Gentry; and if Iewes enough, so many Christi­ans would not professe Vsury, a sinne which the Christians first learned of the Iewes; and what a shame is it that they should now be thought to equall, if not exceed their teachers. But before we censure this sinne, let us first know what it is: the description of it is this, Pastum ex mutuo lucrum; Wils. Dist. a gaine exacted by covenant, above the principall onely, in lieu and recompence of the lending. There are five things belon­ging to Vsury as necessary: First, a principall, as wares, or summes of money; Secondly, lending; thirdly, gaine; fourth­ly, a chiefe purpose by lending to increase the stocke; and lastly, a covenant for that end, as the very desire and expecta­tion of gaine, for lending onely is mentall and intentionall Vsury, so the imposing, or by covenant afore-hand agreeing for increase above the principall is actuall Vsury, which is cleane opposite unto Gods Word, and may very fitly bee termed biting lucre, so the Hebrewes termes it [...], which comes from the root [...], which signifies to bite, and 'tis no ordinary biting, but 'tis usually taken for the biting of Ser­pents, so the word is usedNumb. 21.9. [...] when the Ser­pent had bitten a man, then hee looked to the Serpent of brasse and lived; now this kind of Vsury, positive Lawes doe not onely restraine but not allow, and the Law of God doth every where condeme, in the 22 of Exod. 25. Levit. 25.36, 37. the words are perspicuous and plaine to every mans capacity. Jf thou lend money to my people that is the poore amongst you, thou shalt not be as a Vsurer unto him, thou shalt not oppresse him with Ʋsury; yet covetousnesse here Nodum in hoc scir­po quaesivit hath found out a two-fold evasion to shunne this precept, the first exception is verball drawne from the etymo­logy [Page 6]of the word; the other is personall from the expresse mention of the poore, here (say some) Vsury is forbidden, but the word there used is [...] which (as you now heard) is deri­ved from a word which signifies to bite, so that if it bee not uncivill Vsury, if it be toothlesse, if it be not biting Vsury, 'tis no breach of this precept, but first tis to be observed, that it is a true and an ancient saying in the Schooles,Bishop Andr. de Vsura theolog. determ. [...], the derivation of words is but a false wit­nesse, and not alwayes to be trusted; and againe, this answer will not suffice, for there is no Vsury but bites more or lesse, some like the morning Wolfe greedy of his prey, fastens the teeth more deepely, and that which is but moderated or qua­lified (as men thinke) perhaps, five, sixe, or seven in the hun­dred; yet what is this, but as it is in the Greeke proverbe, [...], to shave to the very skin; and like the Dog, flee to draw some blood: so that although all kind of Vsury bite not alike, yet there is no Vsury at all that is toothlesse: Againe, this answer overthrowes the very ground of the Law which bids us to love our Neighbour as our selves; 'tis but pharisaicall to say, so it bee not biting Vsury it matters not, this is spoken like a goood Christian, Let mee lend to my brother, so I may profit him, so I may doe him good there­by.

Againe, in Exodus 22. and Leviticus 25. there is expresse mention made of the poore; therefore (say some) so long as we put not our money to use to poore men the matter is safe enough, but this is easily answered, that although these two places make mention of the poore, yet in the 23. of Deut. 19. there is an absolute law without any relation at all to the poore man, thou shalt not give to Vsury to thy Brother, usury of money, usury of meale, usury of any thing that is put to usury; and whereas it is said in the verse fol­lowing, unto a stranger thou maist lend upon Vsury; this was permitted for a time, not as lawfull, but for a­voiding of a greater mischiefe, and for the hardnesse of their hearts, as our Saviour speakes of their other pra­ctisesMath. 19.8. but wee that live in the glorious Sunne-shine of [Page 7]the Gospel, ought to account every man our Neighbour and our Brother.

But to proceed, because the Law forbids taking Vsury of the poore man, doth it therefore permit taking Vsury of the rich? this can neither bee good consequence nor good Divinity, let mee paralel this place with some other places of Scripture;Exod. 22.22. it said yee shall not trouble any widdow or fatherlesse child, doth it therefore follow that it is lawfull to wrong him that hath a father, or her that hath a husband?Deut. 27.18. The Law sayes, Cursed is he that maketh the blind goe out of his way, doth it therefore permit not to shew the way to him that can see?Deut. 24.14. The Law provides that the hired ser­vant if hee be needy and poore shall not bee oppressed, but have his wages paid him; shall we therefore conclude, that if hee be not needy and poore, hee shall be deprived thereof? But to come a little neerer I would gladly know the reason, seeing it is unlawfull to lend money upon usury to the poore, why should it be lawfull to the rich? is it because his bagges are fuller, he may better spare it without prejudice or detri­ment? and is not this to plead the case of the Theefe, may not the same reason serve for the Theefe as for the Vsurer, the Theefe may say thus with himselfe, this is a poore man and to be pittied, but that's a rich, a well monyed-man, I will rob him, because he can spare it, he can want it without de­triment or wrong unto his estate; but we all know that be a man poore or be he rich, theft is utterly unlawfull; so that here Vsury is made no lesse than a kinde of robberry, and as one tearmes it, Terrestris piratica, a kinde of land-pyracy: So then you see that neither the word, neither in the Text, nor yet the expresse mention of the poore hinders, but that this precept is universall, and that all kind of Vsury, whe­ther civill or uncivill, whether exacted from those of the lowest condition, or from the richer sort of men, but is here condemned as unlawfull.

I will urge this precept a little further. In the Law there are three things the thing forbidden, the censure, and the pe­nalty; the thing forbidden you have already heard, the cen­sure [Page 8]followes; that is, how this sinne of Vsury hath beene thought on, and amongst what sinnes it hath beene ranked in former ages, and if you reade the Scriptures (which is al­waies wont to admire Saul amongst the Prophets) you shall finde a very severe and heavy taxation of this sinne, read butEzek. 18.8. Basill. where you shall find this sinne to use the words of a Father [...], the holy Prophet reckons it in the very midst of most abominable sinnes, upon the committing of one of which, death followes, as vers. 13. or hath given forth upon usury, or hath taken increase shall he live? and 'tis answered in the very next words, Hee shall not live, hee shall dye the death, and his blood shall bee upon him. The penalty is next, and that is two-fold, in this life, and that which is to come: First, in this life readeProv 28.8. He that increa­seth his riches by Vsury and interest, gathereth them for him that will be mereifull to the poore; where this transferring of such riches to uncertaine heires is an argument of an un­just possession, and therefore unjustly possessed, because un­justly gained: Secondly, in the life to come, and that is the curse of God. Out of thePsal. 15.5. Saint Ambrose frames this Ar­gument, if he be blessed that hath not given his money upon Vsury, then doubtlesse he is cursed that hath. Now from the Law it selfe I proceed to the intent and purpose of it: Saint Paul doth very aptly explaine that generall rule and true meaning of all lawfull contracts [...],2 Cor. 8.14. that there may be equality (saith he) which was by the very hea­thens themselves called the fountaine of Iustice; this equali­ty is of two sorts, either internall of the minde, or else in things themselves externally covenanted for: That equality or proportion of minde our Saviour (the best interpreter of his Fathers will) hath placed in this that whatsoever wee would that men should doe unto us, even so also should wee doe unto themMat. 7.12.. Now marke, there is none (I presume) that desires to have the yoke of Vsury laid on his necke, no not so much as toothlesse Vsury (as they tearme it) but ra­ther none than any at all. Let a man then deale thus with his Brother, let our Saviours rule flourish, let Vsury perish; [Page 9]and as for things themselves, if we looke to the covenant for loane, there is no equity or equality at all, Doct. Fent. de Vsura. for the borrower is bound to make good the principall, and to pay the in­crease for the use or the same principall for the time it is lent: I demand then during the time of loane, whose is the prin­cipall, thine or the borrowers? it was thine before thou lentst it, and shall be thine at the day of payment, but during the time of loane it is the borrowers, for thou hast by covenant passed over both use and property unto him, so that during that time hee is the owner of it, and if it perisheth, it peri­sheth to the borrower as to the right owner for that time; I aske then by what right canst thou covenant to receive hire for the use of that which is none of thine, during the time it is not thine. If a man let a house or land, he may covenant to receive hire, because he hath passed over the use onely, reser­ving the property to himselfe, therefore if a man make waste upon such land, the owner may justly complaine, because the property is still his; but it is not so in money, why then should a man covenant for hire for the use of that wherein he hath no right or property; therefore 'tis an unequall bargain the borrower hath the use onely of thy principall and payeth for the use which alone is his, why then should he beare the perill of thy principall, which is none of his? This is a nice quiddity or Schoole-tricke,Exod. 22.15. but the equity of Gods owne Law, the borrower shall not make it good, for if it be a hi­red thing it came for the hire, it is added, if the owner there­of stand by (to wit) that it appeare to perish, or by hurt, not by any default of the borower, so admit that money could by Vsurers be made a hired thing, yet the equity of Gods Law binds that if it appeare to miscarry without the fault of the owner, the borrower shall not make it good, because it came for hire. So you see here is no equity, the Vsurer re­ceives great gaine without labour, cleere gaine without cost, certaine gaine without perill, out of the industry, the char­ges, the meere uncertainties of the borrower, a cleanely Alchymist that can extract much silver and wast nothing in [Page 10]smoake, these are the Kine of Bashan, that feede upon the Commons.Amos 4.1.

As Nature teacheth men to doe that which is seemly, kind, and naturall, so Religion teacheth Christians in all their af­faires, to depend upon Gods providence, and expect a bles­sing from heaven; so it ought to be, and so it is in all profes­sions except Vsury, Nullum de Deo hominum genus pejus sentiunt quam Danistarum, of all sort of men, the Vsurer thinkes worst of God, and will least trust him, bee it faire or foule, hee will bee sure of his mony. The Husbandman lookes up to the clouds, and prayes for seasonable weather; the Merchant observes the wind, and prayes God to deliver him from tempest and wracke; the Trades-man wisheth the people may have money that he may vent his wares at a reasonable rate, and live in some good fashion; the labou­ring man prayes for worke and health, that hee may be able to get a poore living by the sweat of his browes; onely the Mony-monger hath least need of all other men to say his prayers, bee it wet or dry, bee it tempest or calme, let the wind blow East, West, North, or South; be he well, or bee he sicke, be hee gowty or lame, or sound of body, let him be what he will, or doe what he list, he shall bee sure of his mo­ny, for time onely workes for him; all the dayes in the Al­manacke are set aworke to worke out his gaine; nay the Sab­bath shall not be omitted, the red letter is as good for his pur­pose as the blacke, to helpe make up the number of daies, of weekes, of moneths, so the time goes out, and his money comes in, and hee seemes not to stand in that need of Gods providence as other honest men doe, and can wee thinke in conscience, that God is pleased with such a life?

And thus you see in the first place, that Vsury is absolutely condemned from the authority of sacred Scriptures; and where this oracle vouchsafes to speake, we need no farther authority for confirmation; but unto this may be added a cloud of witnesses, as first the consent of Churches East and West, and if wee reverence the judgement of reverend men both for their learning and sanctimony of life, they ought to [Page 11]be a great motive to sway our judgements herein; all which were so farre from moderating or qualifying this practise of Vsury, that whensoever they met with it, they sharpned their pens, as if their spirits were moved and stirred in them more than ordinarily.

So likewise the Church assembled in Counsells, have flat­ly decreed against it; Clergy-men for this sinne to be degra­ded; the Laity to be excommunicated: all this (I suppose) is enough to prove Vsury a sinne. But yet if the light of nature bee able to discover the same, 'twill aggravate the matter much more; there are Moats which are not discerned but in the Sun-shine; Saint Paul faithRom. 7.7. that hee had not knowne that concupiscence had beene a sinne, except the law had ma­nifested the same; and suppose that Vsury were but as a moat in the eye, yet that were troublesome, because the eye is tender, as the conscience of every Christian ought to be, but if the inhabitants of the Regions of darkenesse that never saw the sun-shine of revealed truth, shall notwithstanding dis­cerne Vsury to be inordinate and vitious, doubtlesse then 'tis no Moat; beames may be discovered by the twi-light of na­ture, and so hath Vsury ever beene held even amongst the heathens themselves for a grosse inormity.

Plato in his Lawes, and his Scholer Aristotle in his Po­liticks, have forbidden it as unlawfull,1 Lib. cap. 7. polit. Cic. de Off. lib. 2. Seneca lib. 7. de Benef. and condemned it as unnaturall; Cato makes it twice as bad as theft, and equals it with murder [...] Quid foenerari? quid hominem occidere? (Seneca in his 7. booke De Benef.) Quid foenus & Kalen­darium & Vsura nisi humanae cupiditates extra naturam quaesita nomina; he findes a place for it in the Kallender, but not in nature.Plutarch. [...]. Plutarch writes that Vsurers mocke the Philosophers for that old Principle, Ex nihilo nihil fit, be­cause they can make something of nothing; and hence hap­pily it is that the Latines proper tearme for Vsury is Foenus quasi foetus pecuniae, the brood of mony; and in the same sense did the Greekes call it [...], which signifies to breed or bring forth, though some would derive [...] from the Hebrew word [...] which signifies deceit or [Page 12]oppression; as if Vsury were not to be misliked for its owne sake, unlesse it were convicted of some sensible oppression, but the consent of the Grammarians fetcheth it neerer hand, taking the Nowne from the Verbe, and the primitive signifi­cation of [...] is birth, next it signifies the issue it selfe, as the first-borne is called [...] and according to these two significations, some have given a double reason of this name,Ambrose lib. de Tobia cap. 12. Graeci appellarunt Vsuras [...] eo quod dolores par­tus animae debitoris excitare videantur, the Grecians call Vsury by a name which signifies birth, because it brings the pangs of travell upon the soule of the Debtor; a woman in travell doth not sweat and labour to bring forth with grea­ter anguish of mind, than a Debtor compelled to bring home the principall with increase. Another [...]asi [...]. makes Month [...] the onely fathers; and borrowers, the onely mothers to bring forth this unnaturall brood of Vsury, unnaturall even as the brood of Vipers, which eate thorow the entralls of their mother; so doth the borrower bring forth to the Vsurer, to the destruction oftentimes of himselfe and family. And Saint Chrysostome sayes that mony thus lent,In quintum Ma­thei. is like the biting of the Serpent, called Aspis, for he that is stung by that Serpent feeleth a kind of pleasant itch, whereby he falls asleepe, Doct. Wilsoa de Vsura. and through the pleasantnesse of his sleepe dyes in pleasure, for then the poison by little and little, disperseth it selfe through ali the parts of the body; so after a man hath once taken up mony upon Vsury, and lives pleasantly there­with for a time, at length the Vsury so pierceth through his whole estate, that neither lands nor livings are able to pay his debts. Pliny makes mention of a worme called Teredos that breeds in Timber,Plin. lib. 7. Nat. Hist. which being touched or handled, seemes very soft, and yet hath such hard teeth, that it de­stroyes all manner of wood, the Barke, and out side remain­ing intire. Many men now adayes make a faire shew with other mens mony thus borrowed, but if every Bird should fetch his feather, would be as naked as Aesops Crow, for when death hewes them downe, their estates prove like a hollow tree, no sound Timber for posterity to build withall; [Page 13]for this worme of Vsury hath gnawed away their substance: Mony thus taken up is like a new piece put into an old gar­ment, which being taken away the rent is made worse.

Now he that is a Vsurer, if you aske what hee is, Doct. Fent. or of what profession, he will not gladly owne that name; mens consciences are more troubled at the name, than at the pra­ctise of the sinne: some therefore calls him a man that puts out his mony, but this is ambiguous, hee may put it out, as the Lion puts out his claw, and then woe bee to him that comes neere his grate; but most commonly, he is tearmed one that lives upon his mony, and this is without all excep­tion; for as the Gentlemen lives upon his rents; the poore labourer upon the sweat of his browes; the Merchant and Trades-man, upon their adventures, skill, and industry; the Husband-man and Grasier, upon the increase of the earth, and breed of Cattell; so the Vsurer lives upon his monies, that yeanes, and foales, and calves to him once in six months at farthest. What a foole then was Aristotle, to call mony barren, which yeelds a double harvest, at the least, every yeere, and the former crop makes seed-Corne for the next.

Nature hath established to all things under the Sunne, a certaine tearme, and pitch, when they shall make stay of increase, and multiplying; the land if it want a jubile, will in time grow heartlesse; houses if they be not re-edified, will decay; trees will leave bearing; cattell breeding, when they grow old; mens labours and skill will faile with yeeres, on­ly the Vsurers mony doth multiply infinitely, the longer the lustier, if he can but live he may see his monies monies mo­ny; even to an hundred generations; and is not this unna­turall? Surely it hath but small resemblance to that naturall increase, which the God of nature hath established, as most innocent amongst men; is it not strange, that men of all a­ges should inveigh so bitterly against this sinne, it seemes 'tis of a most devouring nature, as the Poet sayesLucan. Hinc Vsura vorax avidum (que) in pectore foenus, and brings men to strange extremities,Aristoph. comaed. de nubibus. as it did poore Strepsiades (whose estate was ship-wrackt by fraighting with Vsury) that could devise no [Page 14]better shift than to a hire a Witch to pull the Moone out of Heaven, that the Vsurers moneths might never come a­bout.

If this sinne then can find no footing, either in Divinity or Nature, how shall it stand? Divines have excommunicated it out of the Church; Philosophers have proved it a Monster in Nature; yet for all this it hath taken deepe root in Com­mon-wealths, both Heathenish and Christian; the ancient Romans, seeing the mischiefe of Vsury, would tollerate but their Foenus unciarium, Tacitus lib. 5. [...]nalium. one in the hundred (as Cornelius Tacitus relates) and whosoever exceeded that, should bee punished foure-fold; whereas by the Law of their twelve Tables, theft was to he punished but two-fold; it seemes in those dayes if theeves had been scarse, Foeneratores bis fures, a Vsurer was to goe for two: Mahomet himselfe hath con­demned it amongst the Turkes,Alcoran Azoar 4.6.11. as is to be seene in their Al­coran, and ascribes the miseries of the Iewes to this sinne of Vsury. So carefull have Governours ever beene amongst Heathen and Barbarians to suppresse this Monster; for what Country hath Vsury ever beene suffered in, which in time hath not rued the same? Doct. Andr. de Vsuris. Cicily was in great bondage by it, till Cato set it at liberty; Sparta in no lesse calamity, till Licurgus redeemed it; all Aegypt so plagued with it, that they were glad to make a Law, that none should borrow, unlesse he laid his Fathers corps to pawne; Athens infected with it, till Agis his bone-fire of Vsurers bonds had purged that City.

Meditating upon that plague of Flies, which was the fourth plague which God sent upon the EgyptiansExod. 8.24.. Con­sidering the nature of these, we may not unfitly compare V­surers unto them, for as these flies did sucke out the Egypti­ans blood, by byting and stinging, and causing of smart, so these men with their, Noverint Vniversi, make a universall ruine of many a mans estate, and so fetch him in still with the condition of the obligation, that at length his condition is wofull, and his very heart breakes with the bitter thought of, Bee it knowne unto all men: these are cursed flies, the [Page 15]suckers of mens sap, the drinkers of their blood, the Egyp­tian Flie was nothing like these, but it was a great plague of God, sent to punish the sinnes of men, but withall let us re­member that these flies of Egypt had but a time, God sent them in wrath, and tooke them away in mercy: upon in­treaty, some Moses or other, may in time stand up, and God may send a strong West-wind to sweep these canker wormes away; if England were as well cleered of these, as it is of Wolves, it would be so much the happier.

What then must bee the conclusion of all the premisses, Charity, Iustice, Piety; Nature her selfe, the Lawes of God and of men, all authority, ancient and moderne, joyning their forces against the Vsurer, how can be stand environed with such a cloud of witnesses, or justifie himselfe against the day of triall? Yet few men there are in these dayes that have any re­morse or touch of conscience for this sinne, their consciences are caute rized as with a hot iron, there is such a thicke skin growne over their hearts, that they will hardly be circumci­zed in this point, and this senselesse stupidity seemes to pro­ceed originally from three principall causes; first, the gene­rall practise of Vsury makes every one in particular to thinke that he shall shift as well as others; now custome and exam­ple though it would not be admitted in Schooles for an argu­ment, yet it workes much upon vulgar understandings, for the people being as Labans sheepe, led by the eye, conceive as they fee; seeing therefore Vsury so much practized of all sorts, men are thereby without farther consideration much moved to thinke it lawfull. If it be so hainous a sinne to take Vsury as you make it (say some) what shall become of such and such, who (I am sure) have as good soules to God as I? pray God I have no greater sinne to answer for than this, and then I hope I shall do well enough. See the power and efficacy of example, but let none be so simple as to thinke that the cu­stome of any thing should make it lawfull; this is a fearefull temptation to be drawne into sinne by imitation; 'twas that which turned so many legions of Angels into Devils, to see the brighter and more glorious Spirits leave their station by [Page 16]disobedience; but did that mitigate Gods wrath toward them of inferiour rancke? no, Divine justice required that they who were drawn into the same fault, should be enwrapped in the same condemnation: when there were but two in all the world to transgresse, concerning that onely forbidden fruit, the example of the one inticed the other, but did that extenu­ate the fault? Nothing lesse: if any man therefore through ignorance hath beene drawne to the practise [...] [...]f this sinne? (and I perswade my selfe did some know how dangerous a practise Vsury is, they would never venter their soules upon it) let such as they tender their owne soules, take notice how this of ignorance will not excuse, but rather condemne them that have so good meanes of better resolution, if God would move their hearts to seeke after it: be well resolved then be­fore your practise, trust not your owne resolution in this case; Mammon is subtle to beguile you, therefore be as diligent to take counsell for your soules in Religion, as you are for your bodies in Physicke, or your goods in law; and desire no lesse security of conscience in this question of Vsury, than you doe for your principall in the practice of it: Let not the practise of some one minister amongst you encourage any to the like practise, or because it is a question, therefore because it is a question, let it not arme any against remorse or touch of conscience. Doct. Fent. Those that have written most favourably of it, reverend Master Calvin, who is the supposed Patron of Vsury, doth no way countenance it, as it is practised in these dayes: If any man therefore shall take you aside, as Peter did Christ, Mat. 26.23. to favour your dealing herein, suspect that whis­pering to savour not the things which bee of God, but the things that be of men.

From example, let us come in the second place to affecti­on, which is as perverse in judgement, as the former is po­werfull, to lead into errour; this seemes to arise out of Cha­rity, but Charity is no Charity if it oppose Iustice: 'tis a cru­ell pitty that tenders the outward estate of any to the hurt and prejudice of the soule. If Vsury (say some) be not law­full for any to practise: Alas! What shall become of the [Page 17]poore Orphants and Widowes, in these unjust dayes, that have Stockes of Money left them, and want skill to imploy the same? By Gods helpe they shall doe well: Our greater care should be, what shall become of poore Orphans and Widowes, in these uncharitable dayes, that have no Stockes at all left them: though (I confesse) both the one and the other are alike in this, that they are not so able to helpe themselves as others be; therefore there be no two estates among men, over whom God hath a more provident and tender care, than over Widowes and fatherlesse children;Exod. 22. v. 22. he hath provided for them by a speciall Law, Thou shalt not trouble any Widow or fatherlesse child: No one Law more iterated by Moses, and frequently urged by the Prophets, than this, for the safegard of Orphants and Widowes: Whom, if mortall men shall neglect, God himselfe (in his fatherly providence) will be their protector:Psal. 68. v. 5. He is a Father of the fatherlesse, and a Iudge of the Widow; even God in his holy habitation (as the Prophet David speakes.) Yea, God would worke a Miracle, rather than the poore Widow of the sonne of the Prophets, with her two fatherlesse chil­dren,2. Kings 4.1. should want. The Sonne of God shewes the like ten­der affection, in denouncing a Woe against such as devoured Widowes houses: And his Apostle Iames measures true Re­ligion,Matth. 23.14. Iam. 1. and undefiled before God, even the Father, by charitie towards the fatherlesse and Widowes. Hath God then so many wayes bound himselfe by promise to provide for Wi­dowes and Orphants; and shall these, by Vsurie, withdraw themselves out of his fatherly providence? Shall these be secured by Vsurious Contracts, against the Act of God him­selfe? Certainely, God will take it more unkindly at their hands than at any other. Observe but the difference in this point, betwixt the wisdome of God and the World: The World thinkes Vsurie the best and safest way for Orphants and Widowes, because it doth secure them most from all ca­sualties which may fall vpon their estates by any act, eyther of God or man: the wisdome of God contrariwise is, That these persons should most of all cast their care upon him, [Page 18]because he cares most for them. But of all practises, Vsurie doth most withdraw them from dependance upon Gods fa­therly providence; which best beseemes their condition. If Vsurie then be unlawfull in case of Orphants, 'tis most un­lawfull: And doubtlesse, if Almightie God had thought it fit to have tolerated Vsurie in these persons, he might as easily have mentioned the same,Deut. 23.19. as hee doth the toleration of len­ding to strangers. But it was so farre from his meaning, that in the very same place where hee makes a Law for the safe­gard of Orphants and Widowes, presently upon it is annexed the Law against Vsurie.Exod. 22.22. &c. Shall these then, who are so well provided for by a speciall Law of God, be transgressors of the very next Law unto it? God forbid! Orphants are comming into the World, Widowes (who intend to con­tinue so) are going out of the World. And shall these two Ages (which of all other ought to be most heavenly, the one for innocencie, the other for devotion) be stayned with Vsurie? Christ is Alpha and Omega unto us, the first and the last, the beginning and the end: And shall the Alpha of our Nonage, and the Omega of our Dotage, be dedicated to Vsurie? Christ calls himselfe by the name of a Letter, the first Letter in the Alphabet, Doct. Fent. de Vsur. that children may learne Christ so soone as they are able to know their Letters: And shall we suffer our children to be dyed in the Wooll of their infan­cie with that scarlet sinne of Vsurie?

And as for Widowes that professe themselves now in their latter age, to leave the World, to betake themselves to God, to be so married unto their onely Husband, Christ, as that they may quietly say their Prayers, heare Sermons, and live upon Vsurie: Alas! Who ever taught them thus to joyne God and Mammon together? Let such looke into their owne estate and condition: God hath made them Stewards of their owne Stocke of Money; 'tis they that stand answerable before God, for the use or abuse of such Summes put forth into the hands of others: and when they gaine eight in the Hundred, the Borrowers must gaine a great deale more cleare, besides many Charges and Duties [Page 19]to be payd out of their Gaine: And how doe these Widowes know who is opprest or bitten by this Gaine? Let such then be troubled in Conscience for this sinne;Bernard. Mordeat hic ut moriatur illic: Let the Worme bite here, that it may dye elsewhere.

As for old men, who decaying in the faculties of minde and body, are forced to leave their Trade; and then they aske what they shall doe, having gotten some Money to­gether in a lawfull Calling, and are not able to follow it any longer? For my part, I can tell them what they must not doe. Is there no Fruit in the Garden, but the forbidden Fruit? Have they spent their strength, and worne their sen­ses, to live at ease (without labour) when they are old; and have they not taken some care for the ease of conscience, how to live without sinne, when they are aged? Will they intangle their soules in the practice of Vsurie, when they have one foot in the grave? Hath God blessed their labours in youth, and will they forsake him in age? What a shame is it, that they should pollute themselves with filthy Lucre, when they should be most dedicated to Devotion? The unjust Steward when hee was to give over his Stewardship,Luke 16. (and so must old men shortly doe) hee consults with him­selfe what to doe; Fodere nescio mendicare erubesco; take paines hee cannot, those dayes are past; spend upon the Principall, would soone bring him to beggerie: at last hee concludes; I know what I will doe, I will turne a hundred into a hundred and eight. I commend these men, as our Saviour did the unjust Steward, for doing wisely: wise, in that they make choyse of so easie, so secure a gaine: (For Plinie calls Vsurie, Quaestuosa segnitius; and another as wittily, Chimiani Satanae, the Devils Alchimie) I say so great and certaine gaine, fit for such Seniors: for they are attentiores ad rem, quo minus viae eò plus viatici; most studious of provision in age, when the way is shortest. The children of this World (sayth our Saviour in the same Chapter) are wiser in their generations than the children of [Page 20]Light; wiser than the Patriarkes and Prophets of the Old Testament; wiser than the Apostles and Evangelists of the New; wiser than the Fathers and Councels of succeeding ages; wiser than any of the Saints of God that lived in for­mer times; for wee read of none of them that had the wit either to practise Vsury themselves, or by any distinction to approve of it, finde it lawfull in others: nay, the Schoole­men with their most acute and subtle wits, who did set themselves to coyne distinctions, and to finde out the most exact difference of things, that were able to dart an argu­ment, as the men of Gibeon did stones at a haires breadth;Iudg. 20.16. yet were never so quicke-sighted as some in these dayes are, to finde out a distinction to salve a Vsurers conscience.

Others againe, urge a supposed necessity of Vsury, pre­tending that the state of a Corporation cannot stand, traf­ficke cannot be maintained, Trades-men cannot live without it; I confesse my ignorance in matters of pollicy, but I am sure that rule of the Apostle holds true in Divinity,Rom. 3. We must not doe evill that good may come thereof. Besides, I would aske these men, that pretend they cannot live without taking up mony at interest; is their meaning that they cannot live in that pompe they doe, maintaine their wives in those fashi­ons that they doe, drive their Trades to that height which they doe? if this be all, the answer is easie? perhaps God would not have them beare so great a sayle as they doe, but to drinke of the waters of their owne Well,Prov. 5.15. to be content with such blessings as Gods fatherly providence doth offer them; there is no necessity for a man to enrich himselfe by such practises as are forbidden, or unlawfull: Better is a little with the feare of the Lord,Prov. 15.16. than great treasure with trouble. Gods Law did ever intend that men should lend one another in charity, to the poore in friendship, to their equalls to receive the like courtesie againe; which duty, if men would but practice, there were no necessity of Vsury. A Drunkard hath brought his body to such a habit, that unlesse he drinke liberally, even to the turning of his braines, [Page 21]he will be sicke againe; is not drunkennesse in that man sin­full, because so necessary? A proud woman hath beene wedded so long to her will, that if shee be crossed in it, shee will grow mad for pride, like Nabuchadnezzar, or else dye with fretfulnesse (like a Weezill in a Cage) shall her wil­fulnesse be excused, because her devillish stomacke is growne too strong for her wit? So then you may take notice of the weaknesse of this argument, that Vsury must therefore needs be lawfull, because some mens ambition or covetousnesse hath made it necessary. And here may be touched that que­stion moved by Aquinas, 2.2.73. quest. art. 4. whether a man may lawfully borrow mony upon Vsury? for the Apostle saith; that they are worthy of death, not onely they that doe the same,Rom. 1.31. but they that favour them that doe them. 'Tis answered that no man ought to induce another to sinne, yet a man may make use of another mans sinne to some good end, so God oftentimes makes use of some mens wickednes to good pur­poses; so a man may lawfully give Vsury where inevitable occasions shall inforce an invincible necessity, eyther for the preservation of his credit and estate, or for supply of pre­sent wants, eyther of nature or person, as it is lawfull for a man (falling amongst Theeves) to tell how much money hee hath, to the end, hee may have his life: According to the example of those tenne men,Ier. 41.8. who said to Ismael, Slay us not, for wee have Treasure in the Field. If these occasions bee imposed and not drawne upon a man by some former negligence or default, if he attempt to borrow no more than hee shall be able to pay at the time, if upon such occasions he cannot borrow free­ly, then is he no agent in the sinne, but a meere patient in the opression of Vsury.

To conclude then, let not those poore evasions of biting and toothlesse Vsury deceive us, they are but as figge leaves, shapen by some indulgent wits to cover the nakednesse of that which the Law of God, of nature, and equity have dis­covered to be deformed and naked in it selfe, as if there were [Page 22]some Vsury without the meaning of Gods Law, or as if God had never meant to condemne Vsurers, but onely to muzzle them for biting: some are content to moderate them­selves in this kinde of gaine, and then if it be a sinne, 'tis but a little one (as Lot said of Zoar) and my soule shall live;Gen. 19.20. Modicae s [...] quae perdunt nos, they are little ones that und [...]e us; a meat in the eye, if it bee not gotten forth in time, may grow to a pinne and a webbe: And a mans conscience may suffer shippe-wracke as well on a sand as upon a rocke; he that heapes up moderate sinnes wrackes his soule upon a sand, and so sinking by little and little, his conscience is at length swallowed without any sense or fee­ling at all.

And as for that personall exception, let not that deceive us, because some will not oppresse the poore; therefore they will lend their money to a rich Merchant. Doth the Asse bray,Iob 6.5. when hee hath Provender; or loweth the Oxe [...], when hee hath Fodder? To what end doth bee borrow, being of sufficient wealth already? but onely that hee may compasse greater matters than his owne stocke will reach unto; what warrant is there in equity and con­science, either for him to borrow, or such to lend? let him plow with his owne Heifer, and drinke of the Waters of his owne Well;Heb. 13.5. let him follow the Apostles rule, to be content with what hee hath: If this were practised, then would not the greater Merchants, like the great Fishes, swallow the lesser Frie, but all might live comfortably one by another.

Lastly, let Charitie, Iustice, Pietie, Nature her selfe, the Lawes of God and man, all authoritie ancient and moderne, (joyning their forces against this sinne) at last prevaile against it. For my owne part, I have endevoured to satisfie my selfe in this point; for I had rather finde my selfe at home in my owne conscience, than seeke my selfe abroad, in other mens practises.1 King. 18. And in the next place, I have presumed a little to trouble Israel in this sinne: I know I shall incurre varietie [Page 23]of censure; so that being thought too busie, perhaps I shall be constrained to take up that Text of Scripture,Zach. 13.6. * Loe thus am I wounded in the house of my friends. But be they friends, or be they strangers; let them strike with their tongue, and wound at their pleasure; if I haue awakened but any one mans conscience, to see the wounds that this sinne hath made in it, I have my reward. Let me crave your attention to one observation upon the Text, and so I will conclude: Thou oughtest to have given my money to the Exchangers, &c. that when I had come, I might have had my owne [...], with advantage, 'tis in some Translations; the Vulgar, cum Vsura; Beza, cum foenore: the word is properly, with Vsurie. Here we see God is the Vsurer, len­ding Talents unto men to lay out, that he may have his owne againe with interest. Qui prohibet te esse foeneratorem ille jubet te esse foeneratorem (sayth Saint Augustine. In Psal. 36. Serm. 3.) Hee that forbids thee to be an Vsurer, commands thee to be an Vsurer, (viz.) in the dispensation of those spirituall gifts which God bestowes upon us.Exod. 25.25. * In the Tabernacle there were small and great Vessels; some smaller Cups, some greater Goblets: yet all these Vessels, both small and great, did serve for the use of the Tabernacle. So should it be in the Church: euery one should imploy the Talent which hee hath received, to the best advantage that he can; to the glory of God, and the salvation of his owne soule. Nolite qui­escere lucrari Christo quia lucrati estis à Christo (sayth Saint Augustine.) Let us not cease to bee gayners unto Christ, because wee our selves were gayned by him. The Ministers must give their Money to the Exchangers, (i.) they must preach the Word of God unto the people, (so venera­ble Bede upon Luke 19.) Qui verbi pecuniam à Doctore percipit emitque credendo necesse est eam cum Ʋsuris sol­vat operando, ut quod auditu didicit exequatur & actu; Hee that hath received that heavenly Money of Gods bles­sed Word from the mouth of the Preacher, [...] must [...]ay it againe with interest, (i.) Hee must [...] [Page 24]hath heard with his eare, to expresse in his life and conver­sation; labouring to say with Saint Paul: 1. Cor. 15.10. The grace that was in me, was not in vaine. Where God soweth, hee ex­pects his Harvest: and no Graine so meane in our estima­tion, out of which in proportion hee expects not a timely Croppe.

This is that spirituall Vsurie which God requires at our hands: Which if wee strive to pay him here, wee shall here­after, both Pastor and people, heare that happie Welcome which our Saviour himselfe pronounceth to those two faith­full Servants in the 23. Verse of this Chapter, Enter into the joy of your Master. Into which joy, thou O Father, bring us all, for thy deare Sonnes sake, Christ Iesus: to whom, with thy selfe and blessed Spirit, be ascribed all ho­nour, &c.


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