A DISCOURSE Whether it may be Lawful to take USE FOR MONEY

Written by Sir ROBERT FILMER, And published by Sir Roger Twisden, with his PREFACE to it.

LONDON, Printed for Will. Crook at the Green Dragon without Temple-Bar. 1678.

TO THE Reader.

AS soon as I had under­standing in the affairs of this World, I be­came sensible how grievous it was to lie under the heavy disease of paying Interest, Consideration, or Use, (term it how you will) for Money: And finding it generally cond [...]mned by those Judgments and Learning I did most esteem, I began to que­stion with my self whether the sin were not of that rature that I my self in [...]aying did concur in the s [...]me offece [Page] with the taker, according to thatRom. 1. 32. of St. Paul, in the vul­gar Latine, qui talia agunt dig­ni sunt morte, non solùm qui fa­ciunt sed etiam qui consentiunt facientibus. Which doubt I found after propounded by Aquinas 2a 2ae q. 78. a. 4. but neither so resolved by him, or his learned Commentator Cajetan, as that I received sa­tisfaction in the point. Up­on which occasion I began to search farther, and as for the Scripture I confess the prohi­bitions in it seemed to me to have much of the Lawsframed for no other than the Com­monwealth of the Jews; And to be of the same nature the Levit. 25. 8. Jubile, Numb. 35. 11. Deut. 19. 3. the Cities for Refuge,Deut. 15. 1, 2. The Release to be made every seventh year were: for it is no way proba­ble God who commanded them neitherExod. 21. 22, 23. 9. to vex, nor [Page] oppress a stranger (which it is apparent was of such an one to them as they were to the E­gyptians) would have permit­ted the free exercise of Use towards, him could it not have been without either op­pression or vexing. And pro­hibited the Jews who (either in respect of their often Re­leases and Jubilees) could not give the assurances might be required in such contracts, or for some other reasons a­lone known to the Divine Wisdom. As for the other places in the Psalms, Ezekiel, &c. they ever seemed to me no more prohibitions, but were to be referred to the first limitations of it. Besides, what was me thought very considerable, no one Writer I met with condemned the taking Increase upon lone of Money if offered with wil­lingness [Page] and not contracted for; be the party never so poor that payed it, yet I observed that to be against Levit. 25. 36. as all oppression in buying and selling. verse 14.

Touching the practice of the Primitive Christians there is nothing more plain, than that it was not onely common amongst them, but allowed by Laws, for proof of which there needs no more than the Title De Vsuris, found in both the Codex of Theodosius and Justinian, and that in so high a manner as the Empe­rour Constantine at the very time the Council of Nice sate, seems to have moderated the excess,De Usu­ris, leg. 1. Cod. The­od. l. 2. yet so as he that lent two Bushels was to re­ceive a third, usurae nomine, quae lex ad solas pertinet fruges: Nam pro pecunia ultra singulas Centesimas creditor vetatur ac­cipere. [Page] I know it is not with­out question what is the mean­ing of Centesima; Accursius sayes it was as much as the principal in a year.Gloss­ad Novel. 2. c. 4. ad verbum Centesi­ma. Est Centesima quae sorti in anno ae­quiparatur. And elsewhere gives this example.Gloss­in Cod. de Usuris, Leg. 26. ad verb. ter­tiam par­tem, & ad Leg. 28. in princi­pio. Sors est duodecim usura fit in anno qualuor, sed et si octo tunc est bes­sis, si aequiparatur sorti tunc est centesima. And so understands it, he that made the Gloss up­on Gratian Dist. 47. c. 2. verb. Cen­tesima. Centesima dici­tur usura quae sorti aequiparatur in anno. So that by Constan­tine's allowance no man was to receive of Fruits above a third, but for money by the year the whole sum, which was intolerable. Others are of opinion, that the Roman manner of paying for the lone of money being by the month, which Horace Epist. 2. in fine. shews,

Haec ubi locutus foenerator Al­phius,
Jam jam futurus Rusticus,
Omnem relegit Idibus pecuni­am;
Quaerit Kalendis ponere.

And of a Debtor to pay use, ‘—Satyr. 3. l. 3. Tristes misero venêre Ka­lendae.’

They thereforeBudae­us de asse. l. 1. think no man should pay more than the hundredth part of the principal by the month, called therefore Centesima, which was 12 per Cent. in the year, a large increase, enough to ruine any Borrower. But be it which it will, it clearly shews asDe usu­ris Cad. Theod. Leg. 2. the Emperour Valentinian and Theodosius say, Usury or in­crease for money was jure per­missum.

Neither the Laity alone, but Bishops themselves (not so careful of their pastoral fun­ction [Page] as was fit) didCyprian de lapsis Annotat. Pamel. 23. cap. 4. per alienas provincias oberrantes, negotiationis quaestuosae nundi­nas aucupari, esurientibus in ecclesia fratribus non subvenire, habere argentum largiter velle, fundos insidiosis fraudibus ra­pere, usuris multiplicantibus foe­nus augere, so that not content with what the Law allowed, they did increase their stock by use upon use, which how unconscionable it might be, and how performed, I will not here dispute, he that would understand how it past, may read Accursius his Gloss. ad Leg. 28. Cod. Vsuris.

These exorbitances in the Clergy procured the 17 Ca­non in the Council ofConc. general. edit. Ro­mae. 1608. p. 23. Nice, which yet reached none but those that were [...], within the rule of the Church. And is undoubtedly there set down not as a thing in its own [Page] nature bad and forbid jure di­vino, but as we say, jure positi­vo, upon the Churches com­mand. For, first, it did not ex­tend to the Laity, which had it been a sin in it self, could not have been exempted out of the command. Secondly, At the same time the Emperor, so renowned to all posterity for piety and equity in ma­king Laws, establish't the thing it self by an Edict, as did divers godly Princes who succeeded. Thirdly, It only provides for the future, [...], he that should after that time take Vsury, not with any re­ference to the past, which had been most inconsiderately o­mitted, had the thing been in its own nature bad.Neque in ulla Le­ge praete­ritumtem­pus repre­henditur nisi ejus rei quae sua sponte scelerata ac nefaria est, ut eti­am si lex non e [...]et magnope­re vitanda foret. Cice­ro lib. 3. in Verrem. n. 76. p. 75. edit. Rob. Stephani. 1339. As the Heathens observed, Laws looked not at offences past, if the thing were not in its own [Page] nature faulty. So when it provides only for the future, without any censure of the past, there is a great probabi­lity it was tolerable before. Fourthly, the other particu­lars provided for with the like severity, are cleerly juris posi­tivi, as that none should use any manual occupation, for fo I interpret [...] there. Which how­ever it may be very indecent­ly exercised in any of the Clergy, yet certainly hath no other ground for being un­lawful than the command of the Church; for St. Paul doubtless did it, Act. 5. 18. 3. 1 Cor. 4, 12, &c. Lastly, the offence seems to be much in the quantity, for they exacted not less than [...], that is, the whole and half.

Conformable to this decree of so famous a Council, divers [Page] provincial ones held atConc. Carthag. 1. cap. 13. Arelaten. 1. cap. 12. Arel. 11. c. 14. Carthage, Arles, and elsewhere, did prohibit Usury, but ever­with the restriction to the Clergy only; indeed the Council of Carthage being put in mind by one that in his parts it was condemned in Church-men, Gratus the Bi­shop of that Sea replies, quod in laicis reprehenditur, id multo magis in clericis oportet prae­damnari, which plainly shews it not to be condemned as in its own nature a sin, for then the Laity as well as the Priest had been in all times culpable, but as of that which how­ever in some it might be tole­rable, yet was not fitting for them to exercise. And truly the excesses then taken, did so much pass all proportion of Charity, as it well deser­ved reprehension, and cause the Fathers to speak with [Page] more earnestness against it than other sins to which men were by nature less addicted than that of Covetousness. And for proof of it, there needs no other testimony than that of Justinian, whose care was veterem duram & gravissi­mam usurarum molem ad me­diocritatem ducere, &c. and doth therefore establish what should be taken; too long to be here inserted; he that would know more particu­larly, may have recourse to De u­suris, Leg. 26. cod. Just. the law it self. It sufficeth me, that the Emperour having there proportioned what peo­ple of several conditions should take, he concludes, Caeteros autem omnes homines dimidiam tantummodo Centesi­mae usurarum nomine posse sti­pulari, & eam quantitatem usu­rarum etiam in aliis omnibus cafibus nullo modo ampliari in [Page] quibus citra stipulationem usurae exigi solent; what dimidium Centesimae was, I must refer you to that I have said before, though Acursius explains it to be half the principal, by this verse, quaerere semisses possunt communiter omnes: It seems by Novel. 121. 138. and other Laws, Use in those times, how­ever thus moderated by the Emperour (who likewise took awayIbid. Leg. 28. Use upon use) was very high.

If any shall question how these Laws were censured by the holy Fathers of those times, I confess my self to have read nothing in particu­lar of those concern Vsury, yet in generalDe vi­ta Con­stantini, l. 1. c. 26. Eusebius observes Constantine reduced old Laws to more equity, and indeed so we find him to have De ex­actionibus Leg. 3. l. 11. Cod. The­od. done, even those did per­tain to debts, which are of [Page] near Relation. And of Justi­nian we find this testimony in the sixth general Council,Conc. general. p. 45. b. tom. 3. edit. Rom. 1612. Act. 4. Sext. Syn. [...], Which I translate thus; Justinian a King of hap­py memory, above all things jea­lous of the true and Apostolique Faith, the truth of whose belief, as much as it did please God by his sincere confession, so much did he raise the most Christian policy; the Godly memory of whose de­votion [Page] is to this day famous, and the truth of his Faith dis­pers'd throughout all the World by his Imperial Edicts is praised. And somewhat afterIbid. p. 58. Epro­pe finem Actionis 4. [...]. That is, The great Justinian, the last, but most worthy of all, whose vertue and godliness reduced all things to a better order. How can we then imagine Princes, so pious, so careful to correct all they found amiss, should permit what was so full of sin as some now take it to be?

And thus for ought I know stands it amongst the Eastern Christians to this day, unless the Mahumetan have made in some parts an alteration. But in Europe after the year 800, [Page] that Charles the Great divided the Empire, it received some change: For in his Capitulars we find a clear determination that it ought not to be;Carol. Magn. & Ludovic. pi [...] capit. Lib. 5. cap. 36. lib. 1. c. 5. 38. 130. &c. Vsuram non solùm clerici sed nec laici exigere debent: Which is the first prohibition I have at all met layd upon the Lay. The Council of Nice, and the Can. A­post. cap. 44. at post Gratian. cap. 43. Canons attributed to the Apostles, did condemn it in the Clergy, and so likewise did some particular Synods. And that of Carthage did not approve it them; and Leo the first, who went farthest, did grieveLeo Epist. 1. cap. 3. p. 5. condolere the exer­cise of it did cadere in Laicos qui Christianos se dici cupiunt, intimating it had been a great­er perfection of Charity, had they abstained from it; but none extended to a command, or to determine it a thing they [Page] ought not to do, before this Decree of the Emperor; which no doubt wanted not Pens to defend it; for about two hundred years after, cer­tain learned men collecting out of Councils and Fathers, such Rules as were most apt for the Government of the Church, and direction of a Christian, called therefore Canonists, as those who were the beginners of the Canon-Law, such were Burchardus Bishop of Wormes, Ivo of Chartres, and Gratian a Bene­dictine Monk, who writ the last of them, yet began his Work 1151,Hist. Bologn. da Ghirrar­dacci lib. 3. and finish­ed it ten years after; neither of them omitted sundryBurch. lib. 2. cap. 129. Ivo. par. 6. cap. 196. & par. 13 in principio Gratian. Dist. 47. caus. 14. q. 3. Chapters in condemnation of Vsury, and were therein fol­lowed by Canonists, Casuists, and Schoolmen, insomuch as [Page] there is hardly any collection of theDecre­tal. lib. 5. tit. 19. in sexto lib. 5. tit. 5. Clerent. lib. 5. tit. 5, &c. Canon-Law since, without one title de usuris, it turning infinitely to the ad­vantage of the Ecclesiastick, who by that was made judge of almost all Agreements be­tween man and man, as who shall read the Title in the Canon-Law, and what the Doctors have writ of Vsury, restitution upon it, and par­ticipation with the Vsurer, &c. may plainly discern. And not content with what hath past in foro animae, in private, they have gone so far, as a Hieron de Geval. de cognit i­one per vi­am violen­tiae par. 2. q. 96. Temporal Judge, being sometimes ready to give sen­tence upon a Contract, hath been stopt by the Ecclesia­stick, on a pretence the Bar­gain was Usurious. Yet the necessity of humane com­merce hath caused divers, so great enemies to the name of [Page] Vse, with theirA Moun­tain of Piety, is a stock of Money raised by the Chari­ty of good people, who ob­serving the poor ruined by the Usury of Jewes, did voluntarily con­tribute good store of Treasure, to be preserved and lent unto them, whereby they upon security might have money at a low rate to relieve their wants, which because the mass is great, and the thing pi­ous and charitable in it self, is called a Mountain of of Piety. But in respect the Officers and other charges incident unto it cannot be had without some emolument, therefore the borrower pays somewhat by the Moneth for the lone of that he receives. Ca­jet opusc. de monte pietat. cap. 1. There is another sort, which is, when a Prince or State hath need of a good quantity of Money, and doth for his supply, either impose a Lone up­on particular men, or voluntarily receive a good summ from them, and for their security assigns of his Revenue 5, 6, 7, or 8 per cent. This differs from Use-money with us, in that the lender can­not at his will call it in, or make use of the money it self, otherwise than by transferring his right in the Bank to another, only the Prince at his pleasure may, by paying all in, dissolve the Bank. Anto­nin. par. 2. tit. 1. cap. 1 [...]. in principio. And there wants not learned men which hold both these ways receiving increase to be Usurious, and likewise that defend the contrary, that neither of them is, See Matheo Villani lib. 3. cap. 106. Mountains of Piety, their distinctions of lucrum cessans, and damnum emergens, to palliate so the thing it self, as to call that no Usury, which hath the same effect, at least to my un­derstanding.

[Page] After the year 1200 much of the Ecclesiastick power, especially what concerned He­resie, was delegated by the Pope to certain Inquisitors (called since the Court of In­quisition) Insexto de usuris c. 8. 9. de quaestioi­bus. whom Alexan­der the fourth, about the year 1255 did expresly charge not to meddle with any Question of Vsury, though there want­ed not some, who in that Age affirmed, Vsuram non esse pec­catum mortale, as appears byIn Cle­ment. de usuris cap. Unico. & Giovan. Villani. l. 12. c. 57. History, and that resolution of Clement the fifth in the Council of Vienna, 1311. Si quis in illum errorem inciderit ut pertinaciter affirmare praesu­mat, exercere Usuras non esse peccatum, Decernimus eum ve­lut haereticum puniendum. Up­on which the Inquisitors grew [Page] very busie in many parts. At Florence in the year 1345,Gio­van. Vil­lani ib. upon a great disorder that then fell out, they were for­ced by Laws conformable to those of Perugia, Spain, &c to regulate their power though inLudovi. a Paramo. de origine Inquisit. lib 2. c. n. 36. Arragon by a, Bull of Leo the tenth it seems they now proceed in such causes. In Venice, that wise State would never admit the InquisitionTatta­to d'Inqui­sitione. c. 23. 30, 31. Che si trattino causa di usura di qual si voglia sorte, to meddle with any kind of Vsury, nor the Trade of any Artisan, &c.

Touching the Church of England, farther than that the Council of Nice was re­ceived both by theEpist. Constant. apud Socr. lib. 1. c. 6. & apud Theod. lib. 1. Hist. cap. 10. Bri­tans andBeda l. lib. 4. c. 17. Saxons even at the very first, I know no par­ticular prohibition of Vsury, if we omit that imperf [...]ct clausec. 17. p. 299. con­cil. Spelm. in the Council [Page] of Calcuith, about 787, till Edward the Confessor, who having lived long in France, and seasoned with the Princi­ples of that Kingdomcap. 37. Leg. Ed. p. 151. did

First, banish all Usurers out of his Kingdom.

Secondly, if any after that prohibition should be found to exercise it, he then confis­cated all he had.

Thirdly, he barr'd them of the Protection the Law affor­ded, and gives this reason, that having lived in the French Court, he had learnt, quod usura radix omnium ma­lorum esset. But as aCook In­stit 3. c. 74. p 163. lear­ned Gentleman wisely ob­serves, Too severe Laws are never duely executed; so hapned it with this, which certainly was not all put in practice in England, for in the year 1126 inSim. [...]. An. 1126. Col. 254. 19 tit Con­tuat Flo­rent. [...]i­gorn. Anno 1125. p. 501. a Council held at West­minster, by Cardinal de Cre­ma [Page] the Popes Legate, and the Clergy of England, we find it only prohibitory to those of the Church; Vsu­ram & turpe lucrum clericis omnimodis prohibemus, qui ve­ro super crimine tali confessus fuerit aut convictus, à proprio gradu dejiciatur. And again in another held at the same place byApud Richard. Hagulstad. p. 327. 66. Albericus Bishop of Hostia the Popes Legat 1138, thus, Foenoratores Cle­ricos & turpia lucra sectantes, & publica secularium negotia procurantes, ab officio Eccle­siastico nihilomnius removen­dos censemus: Which is indeed no more than a renewing the Niiene Canon, of which be­fore. After this I do not re­member any one made direct­ly against it in England. Nei­ther hath Lynwood any Title of it, though there be so ma­ny in the Common Law, nor [Page] at all that I know doth he touch upon it, unless in one De pig­noribus. c. unico ver­bo Usura, fol. 81. a. place, and that very light­ly, which shews clearly it was not much prosecuted here.

By these steps that which at the first was exercised by Bishops and others, after­wards forbid the Clergy, as what might2 Tim. 2. 4. intangle them in the affairs of this world, and shew minds1 Tim. 3. 8. too gree­dy of filthy lucre, allowed by so many Imperial Edicts of the most pious Emperours, first became disliked in the Lay, after that prohibited, and then they proceeded so far, as to determine to affirm it no sin, was Heretical.

Upon the whole matter I could not conclude, either by express words, or necessary inference out of Scripture, or the practice of the Primi­tive [Page] Church, either giving, or taking use for money lent, to be in its own nature a­mongst Christians sinful, so as no other circumstance made it so, as either the ex­acting the height the Law permitted, or upon the bor­rowers poverty, not accept­ing what he is willing and able to pay, but with rigour forcing from him the utter­most penalty, or using some other way against Charity, not so fit for me to explicate; In short, I saw no reason not to submit to that of Alstedius, Cas. Conscienc. c. 20. n. 29. p. 418. Vsura non est intrinsciè sive suo genere mala, sed est res in­differens; nor to deny that of Epist. 383. Calvin, Nullo testimonio Scripturae mihi constat usuras omnino damnatas esse.

Yet I do not take upon me to determine it to be ab­solutely lawful, I leave that [Page] to some learned Divine, on­ly I have here historically re­lated what I met with in the inquiry. I know many of Con­science and Learning are of a contrary opinion, and I take this to be of that nature Enchi­rid. c. 69. to. 3. St. Augustine in one place held Purgatory, utrum ita sit, quaeri potest et aut inveniri aut latere, that every man ought to satisfie himself, and do ac­cordingly. Men of great Sin­cerity and Judgment may differ in Theological tenets. Cardinal Cajetan, of that in­tegrity Chamier hath left this testimony of him,Chani. de canone. to 1. lib. 12. c. 1. n. 34. p. 424. Vir meo judicio quamvis Papista tamen candidus, plurimumque distans ab ea pertinacia quam in reli­quis deplorare cogimur, is ful­ly of opinion the paying mo­ny for loan to those Banks are called Mountains of Piety is Cajet. opuscul. to 3. de monte. pietat. cap. 6. 9. unlawful and usurious. [Page] Cardinal Tolet, in whose Wri­tings, to use Casaubon's words, Causab. ad Fron. to­nem Du­aeum. Epist. p. 38. cum excellente rerum Philo­sopharum et Theologicarum no­titia par certat modestia, is clearly contrary and against him, holding them very law­ful. In these disputes I can­not but think of that ofQuaest. quodlibet. ut citatur apud Anto­nin. par. 2. c. 11. Sect. 28. Aquinas Quando quaestio qua quaeritur de aliquo actu utrum sit peccatum mortale vel non, ni­si ad hoc habeatur auctoritas ex­pressa Scripturae sacrae, aut Ca­nonis, seu determinationis ec­clesiae, vel evidens ratio, non nisi periculosissimè determinatur; and indeed, if he mean by the determination of the Church the four, nay that of Faith that was resolved in the six first general Councils, I know nothing to oppose a­gainst it; but of this too much.

Whilst I was thus in search, [Page] this piece I now give thee, wch was written almost thirty years since by Sir Robert Filmer, (a very learned Gentleman) for satisfaction of a person of worth, and relation unto him, fell into my hands, fromwhence some friends were importu­nate for copies of it, I fear­ing the thing it self might re­ceive injury by ill Transcribers (as those of someS. Aug. Retract. 2. cap. 13. famous writers have done) I have put it to the Press. If thou beest a Lender and it shall not satisfie thee in the receiv­ing profit for loan of money, I can assure thee it hath me fully in the paying of it. Farewel.

Roger Twisden.

The Author's PREFACE.

IF Exceptions be taken ei­ther to the Argument or Author of these Notes, The Answer must be, This question of Usury con­cerns no Article of Faith; But is a point of Morality, and case of Conscience, and in that regard it admits of a disputation without Scan­dal: the rather, for that the Church of England hath not Defined or Described Usury. The Divines of the reformed Churches are divided in this Controver­sie; The greatest part of them oppose or mislike the rigid assertion of such as con­demn all Contracts for gain by lend­ing; [Page] Namely, Bishop Babington, Mr. Perkins, Dr. Willet, Dr. Mayer, Mr. Brinsley, and others here at home; and abroad, Calvin, Martyr, Bucer, Bul­linger, Danaeus, Hemingius, Zanchi­us, Ursinus, Bucanus, Junius, Pola­nus, Molineus, Scultetus, Alstedius, Amesius, Grotius, Salmasius.

The Author, though he be neither Di­vine by calling, nor by profession a Scho­lar, yet as he is a rational man he may, and as he is a Christian he ought, for the direction of his own practice, to ex­amine what may be done with a safe Con­science, and what not. The Civilians and Canonists frequently dispute of the na­ture of Usury, he knowes not but that any other Laique may do the like. The Ar­ment was first undertaken for the satis­faction of the tenderness of the conscience of others, and not to justifie any practice of the Authors, who hath always given, but not taken Usury. This point of Usu­ry, as it is at this day controverted, is a meer popish question; first broached by the Schoolemen and Canonists, no an­cient [Page] Father or Writer that I know of ever defined or disputed it. Since the Re­formation Melancthon and Chemni­tius are the only noted men abroad, and here at home Dr. Downam Bishop of London-derry in Ireland, Dr. Fen­ton, and learned Dr Andrews late Bishop of Winchester. I have made choice of Dr. Fenton's Treatise to examine, be­cause it is the latest, and I find little of any moment but is in him. I desire his book may be first throughly read, for otherwise, what I write will not so easily be understood. To give some brief ac­compt to the Reader of the substance of the scattered arguments in this Tractate, he must know; That my scope and in­tention is to shew that Usury is no where in Scripture forbidden to Christi­ans: but that it is as lawful as any other contract or Bargain, unless the laws of the Land do prohibit or moderate it, as a point of state or policy. And that no State or common-wealth can or ever did stand without it, or that which in contracts is equivalent to it, since the valuation of [Page] the use of money is the foundation and rule which govern the valuation of all o­ther sorts of Bargains. I further main­tain, that Usury was never forbidden to the Jewes; only by (reason that by a more special appointment of God they dwelt in a land in the midst of many strangers) Moses made a politick Judi­ciall law, that the Jews should take Usu­ry of those strangers, and not of their poor brothers, not much unlike, as if the King should ordain in London, That Citizens should take Usury of men of Midlesex, and not of poor tradesmen of the City. More particularly, I undertake to manifest, that the Definitions of Usu­ry (wherein Dr. Down and Dr Fen­ton mainly differ between themselves) are neither warrantable by the rules of art, nor justifiable by any proof or ground in Scripture, or by any testimony of anti­quity either in Councels or Fathers. And that the laws given by God about Usury are such as by the Coherence of the Texts, and the conference of other places, do shew that those laws did only intend a [Page] prohibition of taking Usury of such as borrowed in case of extreme necessity, and were so poor that they were in Charity to be relieved. And yet those laws which did in such case only prohibit Usury to the Jewes, were not moral or perpetual, but Judiciall and temporary, and no way bind us, but we are left to the laws and customs of the Kingdom to guide us in our Contracts so long as they be not con­trary to the rules of Charity. I shew that all the properties of Letting do agree to money. And that Usury in it self is neither unnatural, ungodly, unjust, or uncharitable. Lastly, I do shew that Dr Downam, Dr Fenton, and all oth­ers that do most condemn Usury, are forced to confess at last that Usury may be lawful; they all allow the taking of In­terest, Mortgages, Annuities and Leases for yeares, all which by their own exposi­tions and confessions are of the same na­ture with Usury, and do only differ in the manner of the security or contract: af­ter they have eagerly disputed that all Contracts for gain by lending are Usuri­ous [Page] at the end they quietly conclude, that the Contracts are not Usury, but only the secret intention of the heart makes it to be Usury or not Usury.

Thus in few words they overthrow at last the foundation of their own doctrine, and play fast and loose by a multitude of their irresolute distinctions, so that either their conclusion must be that Usury is lawful, or else they can conclude nothing at all.

If I wrong either Dr. Fenton, or the truth, I desire friendly to be shewed my error. I do not follow him here Line by Line, for so I might tire my self, and vex others with unnecessary tautologies: I have only endeavoured to extract the quintessence of his reasons, and to apply my self to the examination of them. His Reasons not his Rhetorick I except a­gainst, whether Justly or Unjustly let o­thers judge, to whose Censure I submit these Papers.

I would fain know of the Ministers of the Gospel, who do often reckon up in the pulpit Vsury as one of the Cry­ing [Page] sins, what warrant they have in the Gospel for such boldness: we find several sins numbred up by our Savi­our and the Apostles, but Usury never so much as named for a sin in the whole New Testament. St. Paul in the fift to the Galatians, doth with one breath rec­kon up together seventeen sins which he reproves, and yet Usury is none of them. But many preachers cannot Reckon up se­ven deadly sins except they make Usury one of them.

Robert Filmer.


  • 1. TOuching the Definition of Usury.
  • 2. Of Testimonies of Scripture.
  • 3. Of the names of Usury.
  • 4. Of the Properties of Letting.
  • 5. Concerning humane Testimonies of Fathers, Councils, Divines, Heathens, and Laws.
  • 6. Arguments against Usury.
  • 7. Of the unnaturalness of Usury.
  • 8. Of the ungodliness of Usury.
  • 9. Of the injustice of Usury.
  • 10. Of the uncharitableness of Usury.


Touching the Definition of Usury.

I Let pass Dr. Fenton's Chapter of names of Vsury, because he Con­fesseth that by them he hath proved little or no­thing at all, Page 12.

The main point is the Definition, which he saith must not be omitted, or slightly passed over, because it is a [Page 2] great and necessary question to resolve the understanding what that Vsury is, whereof we dispute, pag. 13. And therefore he doth intitle his first book wholly about the Definition of Vsury: although when he comes unto the point, he doth nothing less than de­fine it; As may thus appear: Actual Vsury (saith he) pag 15. is of divers diversly described, a variety tedious to relate. First, in stead of all unlawful Usury, he speaks of a description of part only, to wit of actual usury; whereas he should first define, and then divide: but inverting the Rule of method, he suffers mental usury (which he saith is a sin) to escape out of his description.

Neither doth he so much as de­scribe actual usury, only he tells us of diversity of descriptions of others, but never lets us know which he ap­proves. Yet at last he contracts the pith in three words, but resolves not how we should place them; so leaves us to a thus, or thus, or thus. First, [Page 3] he puts Lucre in the place of the Ge­nus, and Covenant in the room of a dif­ference. Secondly he makes Cove­nant the Genus, and Lending the dif­ference; and lastly he puts Lending for a Genus, and Lucre for a diffe­rence. Thus by turning the Genus into the difference, and the difference into the Genus, he leaves us uncertain of his description, yet concludes that within the compass of three words we may find Vsury; but who knows not that three words diversly placed breed many times different, and some times contrary senses. Yet this is all the de­finition you are like to find in him. And thus in few lines he passeth over slightly that necessary question which would resolve our understanding what Vsury is.

But let us draw a little closer, and examine the pith of these three de­scriptions cited by Dr. Fenton, and contracted in three words.

Pactum ex mutuo Lucrum.

[Page 4]Usury is

  • Lucre for Lone upon Co­venant; or
  • The Covenant of Lucre for lending, or
  • Lending upon Covenant for Lucre.

1. Whereas he saith Vsury is Lucre, he seems to make Lucre or Gain to be the Genus of Vsury. This undoubt­edly is a false Genus; For certain­ly Vsury is a sin of Commission, and therefore an action of operation; so that Lucre, or gain which is only a passion or product of Lending, cannot be the Genus of it.

2. He maketh Covenant to be the Genus; Let me ask him but this que­stion; A Father to stir up only, and trie the industry of his Son, doth lend him an hundred pound with a peira­stical covenant for Gain, not intend­ing with himself to take any interest at all of his Son; Doth any man take this to be Vsury in the Father, who ne­ver meant to take the least increase from his Son? Surely then the bare [Page 5] Covenant cannot be the sin of Vsury in this case.

3. He saith, Vsury is lending upon Co­venant for Lucre. In this description, asalso in the two former, I find a ma­nifest contradiction of his own Princi­ples and Grounds. To lend for gain is no lending at all; for Lending (saith he, pag. 16.) in its own proper nature is free; Letting is for hire or gain. So that by this his Doctrine, Lending for gain is no lending at all, but letting or hiring out. Therefore if Dr. Fen­ton had been true to his own princi­ples, he should have defined Vsury to have been Letting upon Covenant for Lucre; or in brief, Letting or Hiring of Money, But both Dr Fenton, and all other Antidaenists cannot endure to have Vsury called Letting or hiring of money.

Moreover, I find in these three de­scriptions, that he imagineth the Gain or Lucre is for the bare act of Lending; In which he is much mistaken: It is not for the lending, but for the using [Page 6] of the thing lent that men give Vsu­ry: and answerable to the time for which Money is let, the increase or Vsury is more or less, although the simple act of Lending be alike in both. The ordinary word Vsury (which Dr. Fenton derives from u­sus rei, the use of the thing) teacheth, even children, that usury is given for the Use of the thing, and not for the bare Lending,

Again, in these his three descripti­ons the word Covenant is perpetually found, without any warrant of Scrip­ture: Yet he pretends by deduction to fetch it out of the Text in Exod. 22. 25. Thou shalt not be as an Vsurer unto him, thou shalt not oppress with Vsury. In the Original it is, Thou shalt not exact, and, thou shalt not impose Vsury. From whence Dr. Fenton concludes, that there can be no exaction or im­position upon a free person, but by way of Covenant. pag. 26. Under fa­vour, this his inference is false; for exaction may be of things neither [Page 7] covenanted for, nor due. In the con­struction of our common Law, and of our vulgar phrase, Extortion, and Ex­action are thus distinguished, Extorti­on is a wrong in taking more than is due, Exaction is the taking of that which is not due at all: Which distin­ction were false, if that Exaction must be by precedent contract. The poor Jews did ordinarily borrow victuals, money, and other necessaries upon Pawns, as may appear by many Texts. The Lender, who did take the pledge as a caution for his Principal, might detain it from the poor Borrower un­till he would allow some gain above the Principall, and by such unjust means exact or impose an unconsciona­ble increase, without any precedent Covenant.

There is small reason to imagine, that such indigent people (as are de­scribed by Moses) who borrowed on­ly to supply a present want, should have credit sufficient to take up so large a sum for so long a time as might [Page 8] deserve an Obligation or Covenant for the payment of encrease. A man who could not have his Bond taken, might yet have his Garment received for a Pledge; and Pledges were or­dinarily given with intention of spee­dy redemption, because raiment is al­most as necessary as food. The bor­rowing in this kind being of things of so small value (that the use of them for a small season was hardly valua­ble) might be a great reason of the prohibition of Vsury by Moses in such cases: Neither is a man that lends upon Pawns in the like hazard with him that takes Bonds, or such securi­tie.

It is the confession of Dr. Fenton, that When the Law against Vsury was given, there was none that borrowed but only the poor for need, and upon necessity. Therefore without better warrant by direct and literal proof from the Scrip­ture, it cannot be evinced that this word (Covenant) must necessarily be required in the definition or descrip­tion [Page 9] of Usury, although Dr. Fenton conclude, it is no Vsury except it be by Covenant, or by some dumb Contract at the least.

Dr. Downam omits this word Co­venant in his definition of Vsury. I am strongly perswaded by a place in Nehemiah, to think that Vsury doth not consist in contracting for gain. I find in the sixth Chapter, a grievous oppression described; A great cry of the people against their Brethren the Jews, they were forced to take up Corn for them­selves, their sons and daughters, upon mortgage of their lands, vineyards, and houses, they sold their children for bond­slaves. These were men opprest by Contracts, and were to pay twelve in the hundred, as appeareth by the eleventh verse. And yet for all this, there are such passages and circum­stances of the text as move me to think that this Oppression was not proper­ly Usury.

First, Nehemiah never calls it Vsu­ry, but only a Burthen; neither the [Page 10] word Neshec, nor Tarbith, nor Mar­bith is to be found in this Chapter, and yet these are the only words in the Law to express Vsury.

Secondly, Nehemiah never tels the the Nobles and the Rulers, that they had broken the Law against Usury. Any man would think, that to re­buke and reclaim men from their sin, the way had been to have named it in particular, or the Law by which it was prohibited: but Nehemiah doth neither of these, he only tells them, it was not good what they did, and askes them if they ought not to walk in the fear of their God, because of the reproach of the heathen their enemies; not because of a particular Law against Vsury, but for that the nane of God should not be blasphemed by the heathens, when they saw how miserably the Jews did oppress one another.

Thirdly, Nehemiah tells the Nobles, that he and his servants might have exacted as well as the other Nobles: Whereas if this exacting had been V­sury, [Page 11] he could not justly say, that he might have exacted, for it had been a­gainst the Law.

Lastly, Nehemiah doth not threaten to punish them as he was a Magistrate, but entreateth them by his charitable example to leave off their exacting that Burthen.

So then Nehemiah never naming V­sury, nor mentioning the Law against it, but supposing the act of the Nobles to be lawful, but not expedient, doth encline my belief to think, that this Oppression was not properly Vsury, although it had a Covenant for gain.

And one reason why this was not Vsury might be, because the people were not primarily such poor necessi­tated brethren as are described in the firrst Laws against Vsury: For though these fell into want, yet at the first they had lands, houses, vineyards, and olive-grounds, for which they were to pay unto the King a yearly Tribute.

Another reason that avails with me to perswade that all contracts for gain [Page 12] are not prohibited as usurious, is the testimony of our Saviour, Luke 19. 23. who mentions a Bank of Vsury in the Jewish Common-wealth, out of which a man by delivering in his money, might at length receive his own with Vsury. Although our Saviour do nei­ther shew dislike nor approbation of such a Bank, yet for it to be within any City of the Common wealth of Israel, without the ordinance, or at least allowance of the Prince or Ma­gistrate, is a thing most improbable. And almost as unlikely that the State should tolerate such a Bank if all Vsu­ry were of it self unlawful, and also so pernicious to the Common-wealth by the oppression of it as Dr. Fenton pre­tends.

I find many reproofs in the Gospel of the false glosses and interpretations of the Scribes and Pharisees, whereby they perverted the Law in many things; but I find not any rebuke of the Magistrates for this of Vsury; if it had been such a [...] violation [Page 13] of the Law, it could not have been forgotten by our Saviour Christ and all his Apostles.

But to what purpose it is to dispute about the terms of the description of Vsury? or what sort of Contract it is? when it appears plainly in Dr. Fenton, that not only the Covenant of lend­ing, but also (in his opinion) buying, selling, letting, exchanging, and the rest, may be all Contracts of Vsury. To give an instance, these are his words, pag. 21. With a hundred pound I purchase an annuity of twenty pound per annum for ten yeares: this is Bar­gain and Sale, differing in the manner of the Covenant, yet is it the same thing in truth with Vsury. And so in ano­ther place (pag. 129.) he saith the like. I must say this is an express con­tradiction, to affirm that purchasing is buying, and another manner of Covenant differing from Lending, and yet to say in truth it is the same with Vsury, which he saith is Lending, this is to make buying and lending all one. And to [Page 14] confound all Contracts.

As the term of Covenant is not to be found within the Texts against Vsury, so in the Fathers of the Church there is no mention of it; they abuse us therefore, who pretend the consent of the Primitive Church for the con­demning of all Contracts of gain for the use of money. The truth is, the Canonists and School-men were the first broachers of these descriptions of Vsury which are now pressed upon us by some few Modern Divines. An­tiquity was more modest and obser­vant of the phrase of Scipture, which doth deliver the Laws against Vsury in such restrained terms as are by a just construction appliable properly to the Rules of Charity and Equity, for the relief of the poor only.

From the Canon-Lawyers (who are the Popes learned Counsell in the Law) hath Dr. Fenton borrowed not only his descriptions, but also his ar­guments and distinctions at the se­cond or third hand: For he takes all [Page 15] from Dr. Downam, Dr. Downam from Melancthon and Chemnitius, and these two fetch it from Canonists, Casu­ists, and School-men. And although Dr. Fenton be free from the sin of Vsury by borrowing freely his whole Trea­tise from Dr. Downam without pay­ing the interest of one new Argument or Reason: Yet if Dr Fenton did not Contract with Dr. Downam for the borrowing of the Treatise, he is little less than a Plagiary, and if we take this word in as large signification as they doe the word Vsury, it will fol­low, that though Dr Fenton be not guilty of paying Usury, yet he hath offended against another Law in Ex­od. 21. 16 Deut. 24. 7. which is the greater sin; for although the Law of God appoints no punishment for an Vsurer, yet a Plagiary was to be pun­ished by death.

2. Of Testimonies of Scripture.

I should have proceeded now to examine the properties of lending and le [...]teng, and how they differ; but be­cause [Page 16] I find mention of them in sever­al places of my Author, I will reserve them a while, and first handle the Texts of Scripture that are most mate­riall in this controversie.

Three texts onely are to be found in the law of Moses about Vsury. In the two first the poor is most expresly named, and in the third necessarily implied. Exod. 22. 25. If thou lend to my people the poor with thee, thou shalt not be as an Vsurer unto him. Thou, shalt not oppress with Vsury, Levit. 25. 35. If thy brother be impoverished or fal­len into decay with thee, thou shalt re­lieve him—take thou no Vsury of him or increase—thou shalt not give him thy money upon Vsury, nor lend him thy victualls for increase. By these two texts we have an exact description of the poor, who must be one impover­ished and fallen into decay, one whose hand (as the text is) is weakened and shaketh that he cannot labour, one whom thou hast need to receive and relieve, and one who is forced to bor­row [Page 17] victuals for necessity. The third text though it doth not expresly name the poor; yet that it hath reference only to such is most probable. First, because as in the former text in Levit. where the poor are described, and one of their properties mentioned to be borrowing of Victuals, so in Deut. 23. 19. where the name of poor is omitted, yet the property of borrowing food is set down, which to be the Custome only of the poor in extreme necessity, common experience doth daily teach us. Secondly, the law here doth only use the word of biting or Nescher, which word is also onely used in the first text, where the poor is named. Third­ly, if we will allow (as all men do, and as we needs must) this law in Deut. to be the same with that in Ex­od. and Levit. then it must have the same object the poor, and the same end, which is the relief of the same poor, for we find no other reason or end al­leged in Scripture for the prohibiti­on of Vsury, but that the poor brother [Page 18] may live with thee and have sufficient for his need. God where he tyes men to lend, he provides and binds them to lend freely. The law is, if there be among you a poor man of one of thy Bre­thren, thou shalt not harden thy heart, nor shut thy hand from thy poor brother, but thou shalt open thy hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need in which he wanteth. Deut. 15. 7, 8. For the observation of this law God was careful that this lending should be without Vsury: He makes no law to bind men to lend unto the Rich, and therefore there is no law to restrain taking Vsury of them: The lending to the poor was to be so free that it must be in the next degree to giving, and we find that to this law that commanded Lending, is added in the very next verse, Thou shalt surely give him, and thy heart shall not be griev­ed when thou givest unto him. Like­wise in Levit. 25. it is said, thou shalt relieve him, and then it followes pre­sently take no Vsury of him. Thus the [Page 19] Scripture doth couple the work of Charity with the prohibition of V­sury, to teach, that they are both con­versant about one and the same object. Therefore he that shall make the Rich also the object of this law in Deut. he must of necessity invent some new End and Reason of it more than the Scripture doth afford, and also make the laws themselves to differ; wher­as a true reason why the law in Deut. is in so short termes, may be for that the law having been twice before more particularly set down, Moses doth in Deut. only repeat it in brief and few words, as being sufficient to call it to their remembrance, now they were ready to enter into the land of promise. If we consider also the unmercifulness of the Jews a­mongst themselves, it was high time to make provision for the poor, they would not stick it seems to strip a poor man stark naked for a debt, as appears by the law concerning the re­stitution of pledges before sun-set if [Page 20] they were the covering only and ray­ment for the skin wherein a man might sleep, Exod. 22. 26. Besides, they would sorbear to lend to the poor because they were in danger to lose their debt if they did not recover it before the seventh year. The law is Deut. 15. 1. E­very seventh year, every creditor that lendeth ought unto his neighbour shall re­lease it,—that which is thine with thy brother thy hand shall release. This re­leasing of debts had the same end with the prohibition of Vsury, the relief of the poor; and although this law of releasing be delivered in the general terms of neighbour and brother, yet they must be understood only of the poor brother, as it is most ap­parent by the exception following in the fourth verse, which saith this release must not be save where there shall be no poor among you: and in the 11. verse, after the releasing of debts, and the lending to the poor enjoyned, the conclusion is, for the poor shall never cease out of the Land, therefore lend to [Page 21] thy Brother, to thy poor, and to thy nee­dy in the Land. These places do teach us that this word Brother is sometimes in a special sense used for the Poor. This law of releasing made men afraid to lend, and therefore God warnes them in the ninth verse, Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked (or Belial) heart Saying, the Seventh year, the year of release is at hand, and thy eye be evil against thy poor Brother, and thou givest him nought.

Now since the law of God which prohibiteth usury only in three places, hath in the two first expresly named the poor, and described them, and in the third cleerly intimated them, By what reason, Conscience, and Chari­ty, can any man extend those lawes to all men in general, which the Holy Ghost hath so carefully restrained to the poor? And since the Law first given against Vsury doth mention oppressi­on of the poor, I wonder Dr. Fenton would not fetch his definition from the text, and call Vsury oppressive [Page 22] lending to the poor: but never men­tioning oppression of the poor, he calls it a Covenant of gain for lending; which is quite beside the text, which seemes only to forbid Vsury to such as stand in need to be relieved by our Chari­ty

And for this cause I do conjecture Calvin did say, that unto him it did not appear by any testimony of Scripture that all Vsury is altogether condemned, and it is conceived that one reason why the law of Moses doth appoint no kind of Judicial punishment for Vsury, might be, because the sin is determi­nable only by the judgment of a mans own Conscience, and not by any precedent contract for gain.

As for those texts in the Psalms, Proverbs and Ezekiel, their general words cannot make any new law, but their rebukes and exhortations re­ [...]e to the breach or observance of the law formerly gived by Moses: And even Ezekiel who most declaims against Vsury, Ezek. 18. 17. joynes it [Page 23] with making the poor Sorrowful, not giving bread to the hungry, and not Cloath­ing the naked. Nor can these texts be any exposition of the laws of Moses a­gainst Vsury, because the laws them­selves are expressed and explained in more particular significant terms by Moses than by David, Soloman, or Ez­ekiel, who give but a touch.

3 Of the names of Vsury

I know the adversaries to all Vsury do much triumph in their Origination of the Hebrew term for Vsury; be­cause it is derived from a root that signifies to bite, they conclude it is like the sting of a Serpent, and in that regard to be esteem'd as an abomina­ble sin. Answ. First we must remem­ber that Dr. Fenton doth confess that names have been no definitions, and therefore are not demonstrative argu­ments in any question. Secondly, I do acknowledge that the Original word Neshec might well denote some malignant quality in Vsury, and I [Page 24] conceive a true reason of it might be, for that the first kind of borrowing which was in the world, or at the time when the law against Vsury was giv­en, was in Case only of necessity, and to ask an overplus in such Cases was a sin that well deserved the worst name. We all know that Riches of mony and many other goods were brought into the world by degrees, as arts and trades were multiplied by the industry and wit of man. State­ly buildings, rich furniture, gorgeous apparel, and dainty feasts were not prepared against the Creation of Ad­am; It was a long time before so much silver was digged up and Coined as would fill mens Coffers that they might spare or employ large sums by the negotiations and traffique of o­thers; men first looked after things necessary only, and the want of such things taught them to borrow of one another

Also when the law was given, the People of God (saith Dr. Fenton p. 10.) [Page 25] were travelling in the desert, and after­wards being troubled with wars in the Land of Canaan, there was little borrow­ing of money, but only by the Poor for the Supply of their want, and of them to take Vsury was more sensible biting, and oppression, in that they borrowed not to lay out for Commodities, but to spend for necessity. Therefore David in his trou­blesome dayes used the word Neshec only for Vsury, as best fitting those times where the poorest were most bitten by this sin.

In these passages of Dr. Fenton, we may note, what manner of borrow­ing Caused the first name of Vsury, which name afterwards for the simili­tude only of the increase might be ap­plied to all other sorts of borrowing, although they were not of the same uncharitable nature. The like obser­vation of a good name used for a bad thing Dr. Fenton produceth in the Latin name of Vsury. Usura (saith he) was originally a good honest word, until Vsury did marre it. For Usura in truth is nothing but usus rei, primi­tively [Page 26] taken for the use of other things as well as money.

In conclusion, although the uncha­ritable gain that was practised upon necessitated borrowers did justly de­serve a befitting name of biting, yet a Gain that is taken from such as borrow where necessity constraineth not, is but an equivocal biting, Because pro­perly there can be no biting but where there is oppression, and oppression is only of the poor. A man may deceive a Rich man, but oppress him he can­not, the reason is evident, oppression is a Violent action of Injustice, necessity com­pels a poor man to borrow, and the lender forceth him to pay an increase, in this is a violence which a rich man cannot be subject unto, because no ne­cessity forceth him to borrow, it is not necessary but arbitrary whether he will borrow upon increase: for al­though there be a moral necessity that if he will borrow he must pay an overplus, yet that he must borrow is not absolutely necessary; so then it is [Page 27] the necessity of the borrower that must concur to make a violent action in the lender

If a rich man be forced to pay the whole forfeiture of a bond, it was his own folly to enter into such an obli­gation without necessity, whereby he doth enable the lender to deceive him by a legal meanes, who in extremity makes benefit of all that which the law did provide only for a caution of his indemnity: This deceit of the lender is injustice, but it is not the vi­olent sin of oppression which is pro­perly found in Biting Vsury.

A second word there is found in Scripture which they say is an Exege­tical addition, which signifieth any increase at all. If what were said were true, it neither hurts nor helps the question if the text be understood of the poor only, for although all in­crease from the poor, yet what is that to the taking Vsury of the Rich? But let us see a little how they restrain this word [tarbith] for increase, first [Page 28] if tarbith do signifie of it self a multi­plying, as it doth indeed, or an exces­sive increase, it is then all one with Neshec, which Dr Fenton makes to consist in the quantity of the gain, but I think to be in the quality of the per­son from whom it is taken, and then where will they find their exegesis if these terms be Synonymaes. Secondly, I would know how Dr. Fenton can prove that the Scripture useth tarbith for the Vsury of mony: The Prophets (saith he) who be true expositors of the law, joyn both words together, applying them both indifferently evermore to one and the same thing. It is true that the Prophet Ezek. joynes Neshec and tar­bith, and so doth Solomon; but it is false that they apply them both indif­ferently evermore to one and the same thing, for they apply them not at all, they neither name mony nor victuals; I can find them but once applied in the whole Scripture, and that is by Moses in Levit. 25. 36, there Dr. Fen­ton might have found them both nam­ed [Page 29] together, and then applied, Neshec to mony, and tarbith to victuals, so that the law of God no where in plain termes forbids the increase of Mony: which point is carefully observed by the translators of our Bible; for they all consent and agree to translate Ne­shec only for Vsury: the words tarbith or marbith they have never translated by the name of Vsury. And in the Proverbs 28. 8. whereas in the Original it is tarbith, our Divines have rendred it Vnjust gain, thereby intimating they did not think all increase or gain to be meant, but only such as was unjust.

It will be said, that since Mony and Victuals are both in the same text, they are both of one nature, so that tarbith may be referred indifferently to either of them. Answ. The text doth con­joyn them, not for being of one nature in spending or using, but the law did intend only the mention of such things as the poor in extremity do necessari­ly borrow for maintenance of life, [Page 30] which is either victuals it self, or mo­ny, which doth easiliest and soonest procure victuals: Otherwise these two differ as Dr. Fenton hath shewed in the example of a loaf and mony, the first is spent, the latter is used: victu­als then when they are spent or quite consumed, and no further use can be made of them, it is otherwise with mony which cannot properly be said to be spent; the same 100 l. that hath been used by one, may be used after by a 100 men successively: and in the passing of it away some other Commo­dities may be procured by it of great­er or equal value, which may be used for increase; so that the use of money is in asort Perpetual. This difference well considered, there might be a greater reason to prohibit the usury and increase of Victuals, than Vsury only of mony: But I do not rely up­on the argument from the names of Neshec or tarbith, and the rather be­cause I think the true propriety of them (as of many other words) is quite lost as to us.

[Page 31] A third strain of Dr. Fenton is to have the word tarbith to expound and explain the term Neshec: we find Ne­shec used alone in Exod. Deut. and the Psalmes: tarbith is never used alone, but is joyned with Neshec in Levit. Prov. and Ezek: so then the first is used in all texts, the latter but in some. Now the question is, whether a par­ticular word which is always used shall expound a general which is used but sometimes; or on the contrary as Dr. Fenton thinks, for he telleth us p. 39. it is the manner of Scripture after a law is given and a sin forbidden in a sensible term, by the addition of a more general to express Gods meaning more fully, lest men should seek liberty in re­straining the former termes more nar­rowly; thus he, but what sense is there in his words to express a sensible by a general? he should have said a parti­cular by a general, or a sensible by an insensible, and then his error would have been more sensible; for I trust it is the nature of things sensible to ex­press [Page 32] things insensible, and of particulars to expound generals, as may manifest­ly appear by the instance alleged by Dr. Fenton, and which makes some­what strongly against himself. Theft saith he, is set down in the Sensible term of stealing, the Holy Ghost addeth deal­ing falsely or Circumventing, teaching thereby over-reaching in bargaining by Cunning to be theft. Here I ask if Steal­ing be a sensible term, whether deal­ing falsely or circumventing by cunning be a General, surely Dr. Fenton must not say it, for deceit in contracts is but a particular kind of theft or steal­ing, and therefore not a more but a less general term than stealing: so that quite contrary to Dr. Fenton his Do­ctrine the general sin of stealing is ex­plained & expressed by the particular sin of deceit in dealing, therefore it is more reasonable that the particular term of biting should expound the meaning of the general word encrease, since nothing is more usual than when a matter hath been particularly ex­pressed, [Page 33] to mention it afterwards in more general termes.

Besides this shift of expressing the Sensible by the more general term, is to imagine the wisdom of God subject to humane infirmitie, as if God had not been able to perfect his law till the ca­vils of men, and their Seeking liberty to restrain the termes taught him how to mend it. No doubt if the law of God had intended the prohibition of all increase, it could have done it in plain and short termes (as it doth in Mur­ther, Theft, and Adultery) by saying thou shalt take no increase by lending or letting mony, but instead of increase the Law saith biting or oppressing of the poor; if Murther and Vsury were pro­hibited and permitted alike, why doth not the Commandement say, thou shalt not murther thy poor brother, but a stran­ger thou mayest murther? Surely God doth not use these qualifications for nought. It is demanded by Dr. Fen­ton, upon the law thou shalt not trouble any widow or fatherless Child, whether [Page 34] it follow that I may trouble a married woman or a child that hath a father? Answ. I may not. But yet the reason is not for that I am prohibited by this special law for Widowes and Or­phans, but for that by a general Com­mandment of not stealing I am forbid­den to oppress or trouble any man: The like may be said of the words of Solomon, Thou shalt not rob the poor, yet I may not rob the rich, though these words forbid me not; but because of the former general Commandement. But the like cannot be said of Vsury, there being no former general law that forbids taking increase of the rich.

But Dr. Fenton saith that Vsury bites the rich as well as the poor, and doth promise to prove it, but it seems he forgat it, I am in doubt he is never able to do it. Indeed he would per­swade us that to lend to the Rich is to enable him to oppress the Common-wealth and so consequently the poor: But he doth not shew how the Com­mon-wealth [Page 35] can be wronged by Vsu­ry, and yet no particular person be first oppressed; sure I am the text speaks not of oppressing the Common-wealth, but expresly names particular­ly thy poor brother to whom thou lendest that he be not oppressed. So that the law points at an apparent and sensible person whom Vsury bites.

But Dr. Fenton comes and tells us p. 36, Alas good simple widows! can they tell when, or whom, or how many their Vsury doth bite? nay can the wis­est Vsurer of them all tell? Thus Dr. Fenton because he sees that in some cases he cannot shew how any parti­cular person is oppressed by Vsury, therefore he flies for Sanctuary to the Common-wealth, to hide himself in the croud, whilest he must confess he can­not tell who is oppressed, but yet the Common-wealth or some body in it (God knows who) is oppressed.

But let us see how he knowes in general that the Common-wealth is op­pressed [Page 36] by Vsury, Forsooth he saith, it makes things dearer and enhaunces the prices of the Mercat. p. 36. Ans. the dearness of things is caused either by the scarcity of the things themselves, or by the plenty of mony. As for the scarcity of Commodities it cannot be caused by Vsury, for it neither eats up corn nor cattel, nor weares out apparel, nor destroyes the native com­moditie of any Country. But contra­rily merchants and others (who by Vsury are inabled to trade) do export such things as are cheaper and plenti­fuller here than in other Countries, that so they may gain there: and do bring back such things as are dearest and of most necessity at home, that so also they may gain here. So that V­sury doth not only not cause a scarci­ty; but it is the meanes of plenty in a kingdom, for as it Consumes not that we have, so it procures us that we want. As for dearness by reason of plenty of mony, it is no misery but the happiness of any Realm to know [Page 37] such a dearth: those places are not the Richest where things are cheapest, for then Scotland would excell England, but it is the want of mony which makes things cheap in such Countries: Nor let any man think that if Vsury were not, things would be one whit cheap­er, for by Dr. Fenton's confession, p. 38. if Vsury were not, men would ten­ter their wits either in trading themselves or imploying others, so that the same gain would be raised an other way; for in the point of Vsury the question is not whether gaines may be made of mo­ny, but who shall have the gains.

As for raising the mercat it is not caused by Vsury, the Governours and Rulers of the Rates and Prices of all things are the owners of mony and masters of stocks, for the Lenders rule the Borrowers, and the richer govern the meaner. The monyed men pro­portion the valuation of goods, and by practice and custom agree in a common gain to be raised by the Con­tracts of bargaining, selling, letting [Page 38] and the like. For instance, the ma­sters of mony of this kingdom by their trading raise so much gaines as ordi­narily amounts to 20. or 30. in the 100 at the yeares end; which being considered by the meaner sort of peo­ple, they reckon with themselves, that if they can borrow at 10 in the hun­dred that then by such trading their gaines may both pay the use and leave them 20 or 10 l. gainers: so that the borrowers do trade by buying and selling in the Mercat at the same prices that the owners of money do, and it is the rates of the Mercat that rules their using, and not their Vsury the Mercat: The difference is onely that the owners prove the greater gainers and grow richer than the bor­rowers who keep but part of their gettings, because that their stocks are not their own: And questionless the Common estimation of men would not valew at 8. or 10 in the hundred if it did not ordinarily produce a Com­petent increase both for borrower and [Page 39] lender. If any man object that the prime gain which comes by buying and selling, and leads the rate of Vsu­ry, is too great, I know no other an­swer but this, if Common custom may not determine reasonable gaines, I know not how it will be resolved, since there is no rule in Scripture for it: but that men may grow rich by gain I find both practised and war­ranted by Scripture, neither are men restrained from gaining more by trade than is simply necessary for life and being.

If Dr. Fenton and those that con­demn all Vsury had been so observant of the letter or literal sense of the Laws as they do pretend, they would never have troubled themselves so much about Contracts which are not named in the Law: but would rather have Concluded that the very taking of Vsury or increase (though it be not contracted for) is utterly unlawful by the law in Levit. 25. 36. where it is said, Take thou no Vsury of him. How [Page 40] then can these men justifie the Taking of their foenus liberale, which they commend, or the foenus nauticum, which they allow, or the Contractus So­cietatis, or partnership, which they so much extol, since all these are expres­ly forbidden by the Law, If to take increase be unlawful? To the Jews themselves the letter of the Law did seem to condemn the taking of a gra­tuity, nay, some of them did think it Vsury if a man did but salute or bid good morrow to him that had lent him mony, if he did not use to do so before he borrowed it; because in the Original it is said, thou shalt take no Vsury of any word, Deut. 23. our trans­lation hath it, Vsury of anything: Sure­ly such saluations were not contract­ed for, nor were of any valuable price, or mony worth.

I do not find any text brought by Dr. Fenton out of the New Testa­ment against Vsury; for the truth is, there is none, although Dr. Downam and some others do cite two texts, first [Page 41] Mat. 5. 42. Give to him that asketh; and from him that would borrow of thee turn not away. If we ask Dr. Dow nam whether every one be bound to lend to every one that asketh, his an­swer is, Respect is to be had of thine abili­ty, and of his necessity, and also (if it be not a Case of urgent and present necessity) of his honesty: if his necessity urge him to borrow, and thine estate enable thee to lend, thou art bound to lend unto him, especially if his honesty deserve to be re­spected, Lect. on the 15. Psalm. pag. 224. Why may not the same respects be observed in the interpretations of all texts against Vsury? Secondly he cites Luke. 6. 35 Lend, looking for no­thing thence. Lastly both he and Dr. Fenton do apply all texts that do men­tion lending freely, or charitableness to the poor, or mercifulness to our neighbour, as heaps of so many pla­ces against Vsury, although the name be not so much as to be found in the whole New testament as Condemned. For my part I do gladly hear all ex­hortations [Page 42] to Charity, and think them more than needful; and if any man be so great an Vsurer as that he make himself thereby unable to be merci­ful to the poor, such a man may be justly condemned, and I shall never defend him: But to conclude, because a man must give to the poor, therefore he may not let to the rich, is no good consequence, The text that bids me lend freely, doth not thereby forbid not to let at all, but that upon several occasions and according to divers Cir­cumstances I may do either; if the Commanding to observe one sort of Contract were the Prohibiting of all other kinds, it would follow that I might neither give mony to the poor, nor fell victuals to the rich, because I am Commanded to lend both.

But let us admit that both in the Old and New testament the laws a­gainst Vsury had been Moral and de­livered in as general terms as can be devised: Be there not many laws and texts which must of necessity be ex­pounded [Page 43] otherwise than the bare letter sounds, and according to such a sense as may stand with natural reason, so that it contradict not any other plain or necessary doctrine, nor overthrow the analogie of Faith? There is a law of our Saviour Christ that saith, swear not at all, and again he saith, to him that asketh, Give; Neither of these Laws must be literally understood, but in­terpreted according to the rule of na­tural reason, and discretion. Christ for­biddeth his Diciples to carry gold, or silver, or any manner of coin in their pur­ses: I do not think that Dr. Fenton and others have followed the letter of this law, but I trust they will grant an interpretation over and besides the bare letter. There be divers such texts, as, if thy eye offend thee, pull it out; pray continually; if any sue thee for thy Coat, let him have thy Cloak also: all which if they were not otherwise un­derstood than the bare words do bear, would bring great confusion with them, and such inconvenience [Page 44] as no reason nor law could or might allow in any case. The light of Nature must help to guide us in the interpre­tation of many texts. It is Dr. Fentons own confession p. 34. that Vsury is a Question of that nature, as is not only de­terminable by the law of God in Scrip­ture, but also by the law of Nature, those Maximes and Principles of Common e­quity, which are written in the hearts of men by the finger of God; which point had need be well considered, because as Mr. Hooker saith, a number there are who think they cannot admire as they ought the Power and Authority of the word of God, if in things divine they should attribute any force to mans reason, for which Cause they never use reason so willingly as to disgrace reason. p. 97. Nor let any man think (saith he) that fol­lowing the judgment of Natural discreti­on we can have no assurance to please God; for to the Author and God of Nature how shall any operation proceeding in natural sort, be in that respect unacceptable? the nature which himself hath given to work [Page 45] by, he cannot but be delighted with, when we exercise the same any way without Commandement of his to the Contrary. p. 60. Now if any place in the Bible may receive an interpretation from the rules and principles of natural reason, why might not the texts of Vsury? since it is conversant altogether about Covenants and Contracts which are grounded only upon the laws of Na­ture and Nations: and many Cases there be which are confessed by all to be no apparent breaches of Charity, nor any injustice found in them; In­somuch that Dr. Downam is brought thereby to such a straight as he is forc­ed to maintain that there be other re­spects which makes usury unlawful besides the hurt of our neighbour p. 44. and 125. But if Charity be the fulfilling of the whole law, I will give them leave to talk their fill, yet I cannot beleeve how Vsury can be a sin if it hurt not my neighbour. Their pretences of the oppression of the Common-wealth by taking Vsury of the Rich is but a meer [Page 46] Sanctuary of ignorance, and a fiction which can never be proved, since it is practised in the Richest Common-wealths.

Whether the law of Vsury be Judicial.

To prove the laws against Vsury to be Moral and not Judicial D. Downam produceth a main argument which is not in Dr. Fenton, his words are, The law which commandeth free lending is not Judicial, but Moral; for the same law which commandeth the affirmative for­biddeth the Negative. Answ. 1. Dr. Dow­nam mistakes in thinking free lending and lending for gain to be termes of affirmation and negation: Lending and not lending which are Contradictorily opposed are only Affirmative and Ne­gative terms; Lending freely or for gain are only several sorts of lending, and differing in qualities, and though their qualities differ yet they are both positive and affirmative, for it is an ax­iome Contrariorum utrumque membrum [Page 47] est positivum, In Contradictions and Privations, one term is always nega­tive, but it is not so in Contraries. Se­condly let me retort Dr. Downams ar­gument in a stronger Case. The law which commandeth resting on the Sabbath is not Judiciall but Moral, therefore the law which forbiddeth Kindling a fire on the Sabbath day is Moral, for the law which Commandeth the affirmative, forbiddeth the negative,: what will Dr. Downam answer to this his own argument? here is affirmation and ne­gation, Resting and not Resting in the kindling of a fire, not Contraries only but Contradictories, yet I presume Dr. Downam will not conclude that kind­ling a fire on the Sabbath day is a breach of the Moral law. Dr. Fenton is of opinion that if God doth forbid biting and oppressing Vsury only by his law, that then the law must needs be Mo­ral and not Judicial, except we will give liberty to Christians to oppress and bite their Brethren. pag. 44. The answer is, The Equity of the law is still in force, the [Page 48] Rigor of it is abrogated; or thus, that the poor should not be oppressed is Moral, that they should not be oppressed by Vsury is Judicial. To make the meaning of this distinction clear, we must know that all Judicial laws were made for that hedging in or enclosing of the Mo­ral law, and whereas the Morall law was delivered either in General affir­mative commandements, or negative prohibitions, the Judiciall comes after and gives some particular politick di­rections in the observation of them; for example, the Moral law saith in general thou shalt Sanctifie the Sabbath, then comes the Judicial and saith, Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your ha­bitations upon the Sabbath day, Exod. 35. 3. so the Moral law tells us thou shalt not steal, the Judicial adds, if a man steal an oxe, or a sheep, he should pay five or four fold for it, and in most cases but double, Exod 22. 1. 4. So then there is a general equity in all Judicials which is Moral and eternal. There is a law Levit. 25. 23. the land shall not [Page 49] be sold for ever: whereby selling of in­heritance is forbidden, and this law did bind Naboth 1 Kings 21. 3. that he would not sell his inheritance to king Ahab. The equity of this law which binds all men, even infidels, to preserve or procure an inheritance or estate for their posterity, remaines still in force; yet absolutely, not to sell a­ny land is esteemed no otherwise than a Judicial law fitted for the Common-wealth of the Jews: so the perpetual equity of Sanctifying the Sabbath, and of not Stealing abides, although the kindling of a fire on that day is now arbitrary; and the Compensation of stealing is left to the positive laws of each nation. The same law that for­bids us to steal, bids us to relieve the poor, and so doth the equity of the law of Vsury. It is sufficient that the general equity of this law be observ­ed, and the poor relieved, but that in particular they must be relieved by the not taking Vsury of them is not necessary. It was a sin in any Jew to [Page 50] take Vsury of his poor, although he did relieve him otherways, because God did restrain him to that particu­lar manner of relieving the poor. But with us it is otherwise; if by any o­ther meanes we do sufficiently relieve the poor, then even the taking of V­sury of them is no sin nor oppressi­on.

Concerning the Judicials of Moses we must also observe, that they were not so particular, but that many things were left to the Ordinance of the Magistrate or high Priest, and hu­mane ordinances (as Mr. Hooker doth observe) are many times presupposed as grounds in the statutes of God, Deut. 24. 10, There is a Judicial Law which ordereth only the manner how a pledge must be taken; this necessari­ly doth presuppose some former hu­mane law that did order that pledges might be taken. Even that ill law or Custome of divorce, Deut. 24. 1. is regulated by a Judicial law, that it might thereby be made less hurtful. [Page 51] The reason why I note these things is, because the law of God concerning Vsury did presuppose and was ground­ed on a former law or custom of the Jews which was then in use and pra­ctice; And the speciall caution for the Poor might leave the Rich to the cu­stoms and laws of the Magistrates which did always regulate all sorts of contracts. And wheras the law of Mo­ses did allow Vsury only to Strangers; It doth not follow but that others that were neither Poor nor Strangers were left to the ordinary laws of the Coun­try. No Magistrate could give a dis­pensation for Vsury towards the Poor, nor a Prohibition for it towards Stran­gers: so much as God ordered no hu­mane laws might alter; as for other cases not specified, they were left to the ordinary policy of the State. For we must not think that God provided all the civil laws of Israel: His especial care was to ordain laws for the refor­mation of such sins as had been learnt by his people of the Egyptians, or for [Page 52] the prevention of such as might be taught them by the Canaanites.

I know that Dr. Fenton doth inferre that the law which prohibits Vsury is Moral, pag. 45. because the allowance of it to strangers is only a Judicial, for unless it had been a sin, what needs a toleration: since lawful things have no need of a permission? Answ. 1. If the allowing of Vsury to strangers be no Law at all but only an Exception or proviso annexed to a former law, then it can be no Judicial; all laws do Command or forbid something, but this if it be an exception doth nei­ther, because it leaves the thing in­different as it is the nature of all such provisoes in statutes. But if they will have it to be a Law, then it must bind affirmatively, and not only that one May but that one Must take Vsury of a stranger, for in the Original it is thou shalt lend upon Usury or shalt cause to bite; And the Hebrews understand this to be a Commandement and not a Permission only.

[Page 53] Secondly, whereas they Compare the allowance of Vsury to the permis­sion of Divorce, they erre notoriously: for the difference between allowing and permitting is most manifest, as Dr. Downam confesseth pag. 298. We al­low those things only which we sup­pose to be good, or at least indiffe­rent: But we permit only such things as are esteemed evill. God hath said by Moses thou mayst or thou shalt take Vsury of a stranger, he never saith thou mayst divorce thy wife if she displease thee, or thou shalt put her away. But the law is, If she do displease thee, and find no fa­vour in thine eyes, and if thou shalt put her away, and if she do marry another, and if he also put her away, Then (saith the law) her first husband may not take her again. Deut. 24. 1. 2, 3, 4. so that the end of the whole law of divorce is only to keep the woman from return­ing to her first husband after a second marriage; all that goeth before is but by way of supposition: But if any man will contend that the writing of a bill [Page 54] of divorce is enjoyned in the law, it must follow that it is not a Permission but a Command, contrary to our Sa­viours doctrine who calls it a Permis­sion, Mat. 19. 8. And if it be a Com­mand, we must needs understand it as an order only how and after what man­mer the divorce should be, to wit by bill in writing: but not as an order that did command men simply to be divor­ced. It is very little less than blasphe­my to say that Moses law should al­low any thing that was evil. It is the power of the law-giver to make both the Rule and the Exception to it. It is an over-bold speech of Dr. Fenton to say, that notwithstanding Moses law had given liberty to the Jews to take V­sury of strangers, yet it was a sin to do it, and that they could not be absolved in the Court of Conscience, although they might be absolved in the external Court, pag. 45.

Whereas Dr. Fenton doth pretend that a Reason that moved God to per­mit this sin of Vsury to strangers, was [Page 55] to prevent the greater oppression of his own People, and that the hardness of the Jewish hearts was such that if they might not have taken Vsury of strangers they would have made a Prey of their own Brethren. ib. Answ. How much doth this derogate from the laws of God? as if they were not able to bridle one sin but by the toleration of some o­ther; and if the hardness of mens hearts must be born with, since mens hearts are as much hardned in other sins as in Vsury, why are not some o­ther sins tolerated as well as Vsury? surely the Idolatry of the Jews was as great as their Vsury, and their hearts went a whoring after strange Gods, yet Dr. Fenton cannot shew that any Ido­latry was permited them in any kind.

I find some Criticism used by Dr. Downam; upon the Hebrew names in Scripture which signifie a stranger, pag. 208. but I cannot find that Dr. Fen­ton doth make any use, the three sorts of Ger, Tashab, and Nocre (which he translates to be Advena, Inquilinus, and [Page 56] Hostis) are insisted upon by him. He would have Nocre to signifie an alien by birth, Religion, affection, and Dwell­ing. This distinction he labours not to prove, neither do I think it sound, because I am informed by those that are skilful in the tongues that the He­brew root doth signifie to be ignorant or not to know, so that whosoever was unknown, was Nocre, a stranger, though he were not of another nation, if he were but only of an unknown family; the word is used by Solomon Pro. 5. 20. and 6. 24. where he calls a Whore a strange woman, no man must think that he meanes such whores only as are of another nation or religion, but all such as were not to be known to them as wives; So God forbids the Jews Deut. 17. 15. that they should not set a stranger to be King over them: surely he meant such strangers as dwelt amongst them, there was little danger that they would choose an Enemy that dwelt in another Country. I find in Levit. 22. 10. it is said, there shall no stranger [Page 57] eat of the holy thing, that is, whosoever is not of the Priests family; so that the word stranger may sometimes sig­nifie an Israelite of another family or tribe.

D. Downam affirms that a Jew was permitted to take Vsury of such stran­gers only as were enemies and aliens both in affection and religion, birth and habitation: so that if a stranger did but dwell or converse amongst the Jews, they might not take Vsury of him. But Dr. Downam should remem­ber that a Brother and a Stranger in the Levitical law are Membra dividen­tia, he that is not a brother is a stran­ger, and è contra, &c. Now a brother Le­vit. 25. 42. is only an Israelite circum­cised brought out of Egypt, If therefore the law had prohibited only the tak­ing of Vsury of an Israelite, and allow­ed only the taking of it of an enemy stranger, then the law had been very imperfect and defective, because there had been no direction in the law for such strangers as had been sojourners [Page 58] or proselytes, who are neither Brethren nor Enemies; if any man think that a proselyte or sojourner might be accompt­ed a Brother let him but read Levit. 25. verse 39, 40, 42, 44, 45, and 46.

I know Dr. Fenton p. 46. would have us think that a Jew might take Vsury of a stranger, because he might also kill him: But I must deny that any private man might kill a stranger but in a publick warre; neither can the like text be shewed for the allow­ing of the murther of a stranger by a private man. Many places there be in which the Jews were enjoyned to be Charitable to strangers, Thou shalt not vex a stranger, Exod. 22. 21. Love ye the stranger, for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt, Deut. 10. 19. Thou shalt not oppress a stranger, for ye know the heart of a stranger, because ye were stran­gers in the land of Egypt, Exod, 23. 9. There was in many Cases the self same Charity to be shewed to the stranger as to the poor; The corners of the har­vest-field, [Page 59] the gleanings of it, and the single grapes, Thou shalt leave for the poor and the stranger, Levit, 19. 9. Also the third yeares tyth, the forgotten sheafs, the feasts of Pentecost, and of Tabernacles, were appointed for the relief and benefit of the stranger, fa­therless and the widow.

There are many more laws to be found in the book of Moses which are made for the benefit of the poor; the equity of them certainly continues unto this day; but no man but a Jew is so mad as to say the rigorous obser­vation of them is to be required of us; why then must they law against Vsury more than all the rest be necessary? It may as well be affirmed that all the Judicial laws are Moral; let them shew us by what rules they do distin­guish these laws: I do apprehend that the Judicials were conversant about the morality of outward actions, as about the distinctions of rights, the distributions of inheritance, the Pun­ishment of crimes, as of Blasphemy, [Page 60] Perjury, Murther, Adultery, Man­slaughter, Fornication, or the like, a­bout the rites of Marriage, of Divorces, of Bondage, of Vsury, of Witnesses, and of many other actions, the equity of all which is reducible to some one Commandment or other of the Moral law.

If all the Levitical laws be read over, it cannot be found that ever any Ju­dicial was delivered with such restri­ctions, qualifications, and diminishing termes, as the law of Vsury: thy bro­ther, thy poor brother, thy poor brother that is with thee; the general name of neighbour is not so much as used a­bout it: it is no where said thou shalt take no Vsury of thy neighbour. Besides, this law hath an allowance which no o­ther Judicial hath. And lastly, this law of Vsury taken in the sense of our adver­saries (for all increase from the rich also) can be no breach of Charity in some Cases, and then there will be no Equity in it, which is found even in all Judicials. Indeed I find Dr. Dow­nam [Page 61] brought to such straights as to maintain that there be other respects which make Vsury unlawful besides the hurt of the neighbour, pag. 295. But if it be forbidden by the Moral law, and that law be a branch of the second ta­ble (as Dr. Fenton affirms) how it can be a sin without breach of Charity to the neighbour, passeth my under­standing, since Charity is the fulfilling of the law.

Whereas Dr. Downam doth com­pare Vsury to an officious lye, which is a sin, though it hurt not but help the neighbour, pag. 277. It is true an offi­cious lye is a sin: but a sin against the first Commandement of the first Table as it is repugnant to Truth which is an essential Attribute of God: Every one that lyeth doth there­by deny and forsake the true God. Let Dr. Downam tell us, which Com­mandement of the first Table is by V­sury violated. It is not sufficient to say, that all Vsury is a breach of our allegiance to God, this is but begging [Page 62] of the question, unless this disobedi­ence can be referred to some particular precept of the Decalogue, as the offi­cious lye is to be first; as for general disobedience, it is a sin that goeth through all the Commandement, and is to be referred to each particular pre­cept according to the several objects of it.

It is further insisted on, that the prohibition of Vsury is coupled in Ezekiel 18. with sins against the Mo­ral law, from thence an inference is made that it self must be Moral.

Answ. 1. If we look upon other Scriptures we shall find Judicials and Morals mingled together in the giv­ing of the Law: We may see in Levit. 19. 9. the prohibition of Reaping the corners of the field, and gleaning the Vineyards, which were Judicials, set immediately before the forbidding of Stealing, Lying, and Swearing, which are parcels of the Moral Law. In the 13. verse of the same Chapter it is said, Thou shalt not defraud thy neigh­bour, [Page 63] nor rob him: The wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night untill the morning. The former of these is Moral, the latter is Judicial. And also in the 16. verse, the prohibi­tion of Enchantment, or Witchcraft, is set between the forbidding of eating bloud, and rounding the corners of the head, and marring the corners of the beard.

Secondly, Whereas Dr. Downam saith pag 219. The Holy Ghost deciphers a wicked man, that should dye the death if he did any of these things: We find first that the words in the Orginal are, if he do like to any one of these things; or as our new Translation hath it in the Margent, or that doth to his brother besides any of these.

Thirdly, Whereas Dr. Downam con­joyns these sins by the disjumctive Or, our new translators use the Copula­tive And,

Lastly, To confound Dr. Downam's opinion, the Text in the 13. verse saith, He hath done all these abominati­ons, [Page 64] he shall surely dye. And good rea­son; for some of the crimes were ca­pital by the Law of Moses, as Idola­try and Adultery, but Vsury, or the taking and keeping of a Pledge hath no kind of Punishment appointed by Moses, neither hath any man denied, but that the law of restoring the pledge was Judicial, and not Moral.

But let it be granted to Dr. Dow­nam (that which he can never prove) that death is threatned by Ezekiel to Usury; May it not still be a Judicial Law for all that? Was not the Law in Exod. 21. 1. a Judicial, whereby it is ordered that an Hebrew-bond-ser­vant should at seven years end be free and at liberty? Yet God doth threa­ten the People for breaking this Law, by reassuming their servants with a liberty to the Sword, to the Pestilence, and to the Famine, Jerem. 34. 17. Also in Numb. 15. 35. the man that gathered sticks on the Sabbath day was stoned by Gods appointment, and yet the Law was but Judicial, and not Moral.

[Page 65] Before I conclude this question a­bout the nature of the Law against Usury, it is not impertinent to remove a scruple that is objected. It may be asked of me that maintain there is no Law in Scripture now in force against Usury, what Text can be shewed that it is lawful?

Answ. There needeth none; for if the Law of God do not now forbid it, it is sufficient that the Law of Na­ture, Reason, and Custom doth make it lawful. About things easie and manifest (saith Mr. Hooker) by common sense, there needeth no higher consultation—the means of some things is such, that to search the Scripture of God for the ordering of them, were to derogate from the reverend authority, and dignity of the Scripture.

If I should ask Dr. Fenton what Text he hath to prove that Letting of Land is lawful, it would ask him some time to find it; or how he can war­rant the selling of Land, which is ex­presly forbidden in the Law, Levit. 25. [Page 66] 23. It may be I can alledge as good a Text for Usury. I think the 6th of Luke which is alleged against it may with better reason be produced for it, and if we will stand to the literal and common sense of the word in the Original, we may conclude that it is not only allowed, but commanded there; what exceptions can be taken if a man should translate [...] lend upon Vsury? Is not that the proper signification of the word in all Au­thors? Hath not the Latin borrowed the words Danista an Vsurer, and Danisma Vsury, from the Greek? Al­though our Translation saith only Lend, this general word may also com­prehend Lending upon use. It accords with the Original, and crosseth not the Translation. But it may be Lend­ing upon Vsury may be here in this Text allowed by our adversaries, if we will observe, as it followeth in the Text, to look for nothing again. These words of looking or hoping for nothing a­gain although they be answerable to [Page 67] the vulgar Translation, yet in the Ori­ginal they have another more proper signification, as is shewed by Beza, who is no friend to Vsury; you shall have his words in his Annotations up­on Luke. 6. 35. I confess (saith he) that I never read in any other place the word [...] in this signification [to hope for] when as properly it signifieth to Despair. And surely it may seem that our Lord in this place did consider what doth many times hinder men from lending their mony to their poor brethren (to wit the fear lest they lose what they lend to the poor) and therefore he would remove that fear from us, and bring us to this pass, that as often as we help our neighbour for Gods sake, we should never think that it may be to our loss, since God makes himself a pledge and surety that we shall receive with much Vsury whatsoever we lend: If we follow this interpretation, then instead of [looking for] we must say [despair­ing] and so the Syriack Interpreter un­derstood this place—They are decei [...]ed which wrest this place for the prohibition [Page 68] of Vsury; as if Christ had forbidden us to covenant or exact any thing above the principal. Thus far Beza; wherein we have his opinion and reason, and by the help of his direction the Text may be most fitly translated, Lend up­on Vsury not despairing; for to lend looking for nothing again, is, as the Bishop of Winchester hath observed, not to Lend but to Give.

4. Of the Properties of Letting.

Dr. Fenton and Dr. Downam can­not endure to hear that Vsury should be called Letting of mony. Many are the properties that are (as they think) inseparable from Letting, and cannot be found in the putting out of mo­ney. Hiring or Letting (say they) is of such things as are not spent in the use, but have a fruitful use in themselves na­turally; which use may be valued apart and be let, the property remaining in the Letter, and the thing if it miscarry with­out the fault of the hirer belongeth to the Letter only. If we ask from whence [Page 69] they collect these distinctions and properties of Letting, or whether they have any rule for them in Scrip­ture; They answer, though there be no Text for them, yet the Law of Nature and Reason which ordereth and regulateth all humane contracts, doth teach them. Let it be so: And let us have leave a little to examine by the same Law of Reason and com­mon sense these properties of Let­ting, and see whether any or all of them may be applied to money.

I confess things hired are not to be spent in their use. Neither is money properly said to be spent in the use, it is not to speak like a Grammarian, to say any thing is spent in the use, for spending and using are in propri­ety of speech distinct actions, how­soever by reason of some similitude between them they be used pro­miscuously by the vulgar phrase. A thing used doth remain the same after the use to be used again; but a thing spent perisheth or is consumed [Page 70] in the spending, so that no further use can be made of it. Mony is not thus spent, at the most it is but said to be spent to him that hath made no profi­table use of it, in it self it remaines un­spent and useful to others. Thus much Dr. Fenton saw very well, and there­fore he doth not urge this property as Dr. Downam doth, but seems to yield, and say pag. 65. That also of spending mony in the first use, as if the use and property were inseparable, so stood upon by School Divines (he might al­so have said Canonists) is much sub­ject to cavil, for there is sensible dif­ference between spending a loaf of bread, and disbursing mony for gain—a loaf once eaten hath no second use to him that eat it, or to any other: mony laid out remaineth still the same to be used by another; and the same in the Equiva­lent to him that laid it out: and the same individual peices which once deliver­ed shall never happily return again to the same person; there may be some differ­ence in a Philosophers brain, but not [Page 71] in a merchants purse, it is all one whether it be the same shilling or another as good.

Things let (say they) must have a fruitful use naturally in themselves. If this property were true, I would confess money might not be Let. But common sense doth confute this assertion. What fruitful use hath a house naturally? doth one house beget or bring forth another? is it not an artificial thing, as tools, in­struments, and furniture? all which are lawfully Let, although they have no more fruitful use by nature than money hath. All things that are useful either by Nature or Art, that have either fructum in themselves, or questum by industry, are the object of Letting: no man will deny the artificial use of mony, yet I find Dr. Fenton to contradict himself in this point of the use of mony, his words are, p. 20. The monies of a Tradesman be his tools by which he getteth his living: if therefore they be re­tained from him to his sensible detriment, satisfaction is due in justice & equity with­out [Page 72] touch of Vsury, In an other place (pag. 94.) forgetting this he deter­mines that Nothing whatsoever it be, na­tural or artisicial, but it serveth either to feed, or to cloath, or to work withal, or to play withal, yet for mony there is no use to be made of it.

Mony have thus an artificial use di­stinct from the spending of it, this use of it is valuable apart, and to be guid­ed by the same rule which serves for the true valuation of any other Let­table thing: we see by daily experi­ence that the valuation of the use of mony is more certain than of other things. It remaines then, that Money hath an artificial use which is valuable, and in that respect may be let as other artificial things are.

To proceed. Another property (say they pag. 16.) of Letting is, that the use only is passed over, the property resting in the Lender. Whereas Lending passeth over the property with the use for the time it is Lent. Is this true? Then a man had need take heed of Lending, If [Page 73] when he lends he loseth the property of the thing lent: Surely I should think that the use and possession only (and not the property) is passed a­way in Lending and Letting also. He that hath Lent his mony during the time that it is Lent & out of possession, hath power in law and a right to give or bequeath at his pleasure, that which he could not dispose of, if he had no property in it. A property in the sum Lent, or to the equivalent, which is all one, as Dr. Fenton hath ingenuously confessed. It is a frivolous exception to say he hath not a property in that Individual shilling which he lent, since art hath so ordered it that all shillings are the self same in use, and as one shilling. If all other natural and ar­tificial things, which are confessed to be Lettable, were of equal value and use; if all horses and sheep were alike in all things without any real diffe­rence in their goodness and use, it would be all one to him that had let his horse, to receive his own horse or another.

[Page 74] We must understand (saith Dr. Fen­ton) a special kind of Lending which for penury of words, and narrowness of our English wanteth a proper term. in La­tine it is called [Mutuum] or Mutua­tio—which is (saith he) the free passing over both of use and property for a time, at the time ended to receive the like gain; thus he. If it be passed over but for a time, then at the time ended the same again. must be restored; why then doth he name only the like a­gain? if only the like be restored then the thing it self is passed over for e­ver.

Dr. Wilson the Civilian in his Book of Vsury puts the Case how hiring of mony may be lawful; if a man bor­row a 100 l. only to make shew of, ei­ther at some Bank, or otherwise to perswade the world that he hath a 100 l. of his own, and if he never spend it but presently restoreth the self same 100 pound which he bor­rowed, in this Case the Lender may lawfully take and Contract for hire or [Page 75] use of his mony because it is not spent in the use. This Case is borrowed from the Papists, and allowes a man to take Vsury for helping to Co­sen the world, although himself be no way damnified by the want of his mony.

But the grand impediment of Letting money is, that the Borrow­er (say they, pag. 17.) stands to the hazard of it, which they think to be against the law of Exod. 22. 14.

Answer. Concerning hazards, we find that in the Law Exod. 22. 12. about beasts delivered to a neigh­bour only to keep, that if a beast be stollen he shall make restitution to the owner thereof; which Case shews the owner doth not stand to the hazard but the keeper only, who yet hath not so much as the use or property but only the posses­sion of the beast, so Jacob tells Laban Gen. 31. 39. that if any of his sheep were stoln by day or by night, that he made them good; [Page 76] therefore their rule faileth which saith every thing perisheth to the right owner. pag. 17.

It may be answered, that whatso­ever the Law was for things deposited, yet for things Let the Law is Cleer that the borrower shall not make it good or stand to the hazard, because it came for the hire. Exod. 22. 14. This Text is either not understood, or wrested to a false sense, as may best appear if we cite the whole Text which Dr. Fenton hath curtail'd to fit his own turn; the words are, If a man borrow ought of his neighbour and it be hurt or dye, the owner thereof not being with it, he shall surely make it good, but if the owner thereof be with it, he shall not make it good, If it be a hired thing it came for the hire.

Answ. 1. It may be thought the Text intends beasts only, and not o­ther goods or mony, because the four precedent verses, to which the Text hath reference, are restrained to oxe, asse, or sheep, or any beasts: [Page 77] and the same words of dying and hurting are used in this verse which are used in the tenth verse where beasts only are meant, which words are not so proper to express all sorts of ha­zards of other goods: withall there is greater reason that the hazards of beasts should not light upon the borrower, because, they by the course of nature are daily subject to decay and perish, and many secret diseases lurk in them which the borrowers cannot discern; whereas other goods, and especially mony, are not of so pe­rishable a disposition, but their sud­dain destruction is most times by the act or folly of man, and not from the God of Nature. But if it be granted that the Text understands all goods, then indeed it comes home to the point of Vsury; but it makes for it and not against it: for the law is for things let, that if they be hurt the owner thereof not being by, he (the Borrower) shall surely make it good. Now in U­sury the owners do not, and for the [Page 78] most part cannot stand by and see how their mony miscarries. Indeed when a thing is hired for some particular end wherewith the Letter is made acquain­ted, then he may stand by and see how it perisheth, and of such a lending the Text is best understood. It is plain that the Letter (though he had the property) did not alwayes stand unto the hazard, but only when he stood by, that it might appear (saith Dr. Fen­ton, p. 17.) not to be the Borrowers de­fault. The Rabbines exposition of this text may give some light to the under­standing of it, and it is thus; The words are, if it be hurt or dye: that is, hurt in the use, or dye in the work for which it was hired: If a man (say they) hire a tool for some particular use, if it be hurt in doing the work it must not be made good: so if I hire a horse to plow with, and the horse whilest he is in plowing dye, then I am free. But if I borrow goods or beasts, and they be lost or stoln, or hurt, or taken away by violence, or dye, I am bound to pay all, if such violence do not befall it in [Page 79] the time of the work. If I borrow a horse to plow with, and he dye either before or after the plowing, I must make him good.

To apply this Text to money, the most that can be gathered is, that if money be hurt in the using of it, without the Borrowers default, it must be at the Lenders hazard. But since mo­ney is not ordinarily hired for any one particular use expressed, but in general to be employed at the Bor­rowers discretion; how can the Lender of money be comprehended within that law, which did onely re­lieve the Borrower in case the thing hired did perish in that special use for which it was borrowed? The ground of the equity of this Law is, if the thing hired be not able in its own nature to do the thing for which it was hired without perishing, the Hi­rer is not to be at the hazard of it; mo­ney all men know to be able of its own nature to do the thing for which it was hired; if by any casual or exter­nal accident money perisheth, the [Page 80] Law provides no remedy in such Ca­ses. It is one of the singular benefits and the priviledge of mony in traf­fique that it is not of a perishable na­ture. The ends why policy found out the use mony were many: the Chief are, that it might be Durable, Porta­ble, and Partible.

But to grant them that he that stands to the hazard should have all the gains: Is there not hazard to be found in the Letter as well as in the Borrower of money? many that have contracted for Vsury by bonds and other security have lost both Principal and Use, and have been thereby undone; surely such people find hazard in it. It is a rule in the Civil law, that omnis mutuatio plerum­que damnosa, eoque meretur compensati­onem. It is fit therefore in equity, that since the Lender stands in ha­zard there should be a gain due to him also.

But this gain they allow, So it may be conditional, if the borrower gain. [Page 81] And this conditional gain can only be by Partnership. As for letting of mo­ny upon Condition of the Borrow­ers gain, it is a course as mischievous and impossible as the letting of land upon like Condition; without expe­rience no man can sufficiently describe it. It would make all bargaines to be nothing but sutes in law, no debts should be due but upon proof and witnesses examined; nay there is no possibility of knowing mens gaines or losses without racking their Conscien­ces, and opening a gap to perjury for every unthrift in his own Cause. Or if loss and gain could be discover­ed, how shall it appear, whether it be by default of the party or by the act of God? many times they both concur, and are so twisted that no eye of reason can distinguish them. In ef­fect, hereby every man is tyed to have an eye to watch the disbursing of eve­ry penny which he lends, which is a thing impossible, and therefore the law of reason and of all nations doth [Page 82] think it fitter to tolerate sometimes a mischief which may happen by an un­fortunate bargain upon an absolute con­tract, than to allow of a perpetual inconvenience, which would follow a Conditional Covenant and over­throw the contracts of all Common-wealths. In all letting there is a con­sideration had of the casualties, and because there may be a possibility of extraordinary gaines it must counter-value the extraordinary loss if any happen, both which being contingent, and seldom happening, they are set one against the other, and a middle indifferent rate between them, which doth ordinarily happen, belongs to the Lender, who is not to partake in the extremes: Because it is rarely to be shewed that any loss can befall a man in lifeless goods meerly by the act of God, without the concurrence of some fault of man, either of negli­gence, ignorance, indiscretion, will­fulness, or the like. To conclude, the rule that guides the valuation of [Page 83] all Contracts, is not what Casually is or may be, but what ordinarily is like to happen.

As for Partnership (which is a pro­ject much magnified by the adversaries of Vsury) let it be examined what it is. Those are truly Partners who in a Joynt stock communicate their paines and travel: so that an equal industry and privity goes along with the im­ployment of the stock. There the Trust being reciprocal, the covenants may be equal and the Laws do relieve men upon their Covenants and mutu­al agreements in such Partnership: But in this their pretended Partnership, where there is but a trust of one side, no equality of paines, no privity in trade, no partnership in the matter of stock, nor in the form or consent of negotiation, but only a Partnership in the gaines, this cannot truly be called a Partnership, but it is only the office of Master and Servant under another name, or false title, and differs only in the manner of the wages, which [Page 84] this their case of Partnership is contin­gent, and in the other absolute. Be­sides, in this their counterfeit Partner­ship, a man may make no covenants that can be good in Law, nor so much as take a Bond for his Principal, but he must only trust to the honesty of his friend, since no articles can be made that shall be legal except they be Vsurious: nor can be drawn so rea­sonable as an honest man will be bound by them, or so firm that a dis­honest man cannot safely break them.

It seems to me, that after all the stir about Vsury, Dr. Fenton, and all his fellows do allow of Vsury under another name, Interest; they all agree a man may lawfully take so it be a­gainst his will; that is, when a man detaines his mony from him against his will; but if a man be so courteous as to consent that another shall keep his mony, he must then stand to the courtesie of the Borrower.

Now that which they do call Inter­est, [Page 85] they do allow in two cases; Either where there is, first Damnum contin­gens, a loss arising; or secondly, where there is Lucrum cessans, gain ceasing: so that if either a man receive dam­mage, or that his gain be but hindred, he may take interest. Now in all lending a mans gain is hindred, be­cause he hath not his mony to employ when occasion serveth, or shall be of­fered: Nor is it requisite that ceasing gain must be certainly proved; for that is impossible, being a thing con­tingent, but a probable estimation of it may be allowed (by Dr. Downams confession pag. 166.) and in all pro­bability gain ceaseth, or is hindred, wheresoever there is Lending. There­fore by this their own Scholastical di­stinction there is Interest due for all Lending. Only successive or intervsury which is before delay of Payment they would fain exclude. But if Interest be (as their own Melancthon saith) a debt which he oweth by the law of Nature, who hath been to another an effectual cause of [Page 86] dammage, or hath hindred his gain, be­cause Nature teacheth that no man must be enriched by the hindring of another, according to the rule of St. Paul 2 Cor. 8. 13. That one be not eased, that another may be burdened: Then it will follow, that delay of Payment doth naturally begin from the first minute of Lending; if any will abridge himself of the pri­viledge of Nature by the giving day for payment, yet if it be by a Cove­nant conditional to pay so much inter­est at the day appointed, then such a Contract is but the ratifying of a na­tural debt, with a dilatory payment for the benefit of the Borrower.

Thus after all their pretended impe­diments of Letting mony, they are for­ced to confess at last, that an Interest may be justly due and taken; which is nothing else but a hire, a recompence, or an increase of it. The sole doubt they make is about the contracting for interusury. Neither is Dr. Fenton nor Dr. Downam, so stiff against contracts when they come to the point, as at first [Page 87] they made shew of. Dr. Fenton saith, pag. 64. It is great reason that the debtor should trust the creditors charity, and not the creditor rely upon the fidelity of the debtor; and Bonds may in some cases be lawfully made, which cannot so lawfully be exacted. This he speaks of contracts with­out any condition of hazard expressed.

Also Dr. Downam doth adde, That if there be a covenant of the one side in e­ventum lucri, to partake of the gain, and on the other side but a purpose of bearing part of the loss—I would not altogether condemn such a contract, pag 163.

Thus both these Divines do con­sent that a contract may be made for interest, if there be but a purpose in the Lender not to exact or oppress thereby. Yet like men uncertain and doubtful what to conclude, they some­times allow a man to take interest so he do not contract for it, at other times to contract for it, so he do not take it, (p. 27.) One while a bond may be lawfully made, so it be not exacted; ano­ther while it is lawful to take where it [Page 88] is not lawful to covenant or contract. Again, Dr. Fenton saith, pag. 129. That the poyson of Vsury is in some con­tracts so closely and cunningly conveyed, as the very turn of the intention of the mind may alter the case to make it just or unjust; the contract remaining one and the same. If one and the same con­tract may be just and unjust, then all contracts are not unjust by his own confession. In another place (p. 125.) he tells us, We may puzzle him with some cases so cunningly contrived where­in we can find no difference either in Ju­stice or Charity from other lawful con­tracts: Then quaere whether it be within the Definition of Vsury—If it appear just and lawful, it shall not appear usu­rious, it may perhaps border or coast upon Vsury. Yet our conclusion shall still re­main entire, That Usury properly so called is simply unlawful. A trim Con­clusion. But what are we the wiser for knowing that all Vsury is unlawful, unless he teach us what is properly cal­led Vsury? This is the main doubt, [Page 89] what is Vsury, and what is not; whe­ther all increase, or increase only from the poor; whether all contracts for gain by money be Vsury. If Dr. Fenton may be puzled, and be not able to tell us what Contracts differ from Justice and Cha­rity, and what not; If one and the same contract may be just and unjust; if that usurious contracts, as they do approach unto equity so far forth do de­cline the nature of Vsury, then are we still ignorant what properly is Vsury, on­ly we may know that it is unlawful if we knew what it were. This is the last and safest retreat that Dr. Fenton findeth.

5. Concerning humane Testimonies of Fathers, Councils, Divines, Hea­thens, and Laws.

As for the Testimonies of Fathers and Councils, we do affirm, that nei­ther Father nor Council did ever de­fine Vsury to consist in the contracting for gain, they were not so curious or subtle in those ages as to define it [Page 90] at all. But most of those few passages that are in them may best be under­stood to mean only such Vsury as was an oppression to the poor.

As for Aristotle, Plutarch, Cato, Sene­ea, Pliny, and some others, I shall offer the confession of Dr. Fenton, (p. 65.) Who is perswaded that the very conceit of these grounds (of the Philosophers ar­guments) hath moved many to think more favourably of Vsury it self than there is just cause—The force of the Phi­losophers argument taken from the barren­ness of money, and the unnatural brood of Vsury, being mingled with metaphors, if it be not rightly apprehended, is obscure and doubtful. That also of spending mo­ney in the first use, as if use and property were inseparable—is much subject to cavil.

By these passages we may see what little confidence Dr. Fenton putteth in the arguments of the Heathen Philo­sophers against Vsury. As for the bare authority of these men, the specu­lative determinations of so few Phi­losophers, are no way to be compared [Page 91] with the grave wisdom of whole States, which by practice & by Customs in all ages have approved thereof. I know the abuse of Vsury hath given just cause both to Christians and Heathens to de­clame bitterly against it. Merchan­dizing (as Dr. Fenton tells us) also Letting of Land, and other tradings have their manifold abuses, and yet are things lawful in themselves; and whereas all other trades do oppress but within their own Circle or li­mits, and in such particulars where­in they deal, Vsury dealing with mo­ney which is used in all trades, hath made the abuse thereof more gene­ral, and therefore all men have the more frequent occasion to speak a­gainst it.

The Civil Law which was gathered out of all the best antient Laws both Heathen and Christian, and which is most in use at this day, doth allow Vsury. The Laws of Venice, Genoa, and the Low-Countries (three simply the richest States in Europe) do allow [Page 92] thereof, and yet are free from poor, which perswades that Vsury is not so hurtful to a state. As for the statute Laws of this land they do vary, and one statute mislikes and repeals ano­ther, but they all allow Vsury of Or­phans; And the Law last made since the death of Dr. Fenton in the 21. year of King James doth allow eight in the hundred.

The constant practice of the Com­mon Law of this land, and also of the Chancery in point of equity, doth not only allow Interest where there is a Contract for it, but also doth give it where there is none.

To end this point, if all Laws and States had thought all Vsury to be unlawful, and also mischievous to a Common-wealth, And if that Partnership be a meanes both law­ful and beneficiall, It were strange that no practice nor Law of any Na­tion would never establish this lat­ter; And for all the world to tole­rate a sin when so easy a remedy had [Page 93] been at hand, had been an universal madness.

6. Argument against Vsury.

It is to some Doubtful, therefore unlaw­ful; because Whatsoever is not of faith is Sin.

Answ. This argument doth not make it simply unlawfull to all, but only to such as doubt, and therefore it proves not the point. For Dr. Fen­ton his position is, that all Vsury is of it self a sin, and so nothing indiffe­rent. By this Doctrine he first per­plexeth the understanding of the weak, and so makes them doubt, and when he finds them doubtful, he useth their doubting to prove it unlawful, because they doubt, whereas if it be simply a sin of it self it is as well a sin if a man doubt not as if he doubt. And the place of St. Paul Rom▪ 14. by him alledged, speaks not of sins, but of things indifferent (as eating) which by doubting only are made sins to the [Page 94] doubters, and to no body else. Now if the Cause why men doubt whether all Usury be sin, be only for that Dr. Fen­ton and some others teach so, then the sin of those that doubt may fall heavy upon the Causers of it. And if Dr. Fen­ton allow Usury to be doubtful, it can­not but argue rashness peremptorily to determine there is no doubt of it, thereby to ensnare the Consciences of the simple.

Besides the doubting spoken of by the Apostle, though it were of things indifferent, yet formerly before the coming of Christ they were things ne­cessarily prescribed by the Law, but, after, taken away by the Gospel, so that to doubt of them was consequently to condemn the Gospel, and deny the faith in Christ. But the doubting of Usury is no establishing of the Cere­monial Law, or overthrowing of our belief and faith in the Gospel. Neither is all doubting meant but such only as overcometh Faith, for there is no faith but it is mingled with some doubt­ing. [Page 95] Lastly, it is not necessary that faith should be alwayes grounded upon the Word of God, for if a man be perswa­ded of any thing by the light of Rea­son, or by Sense, he is justly said to be­lieve it. To the confirmation of this doctrine, I must produce some places of judicious Hooker. The will of God (saith he) by which we are to judge our actions, no sound Divine in the world ever denied to be in Part made manifest, even by the light of Nature, and not by Scripture a­lone, pag. 97. And he adds in another place, that there may be a certain belief grounded upon other assurance than Scrip­ture—we are said to believe whatsoe­ver we are certainly perswaded of, whe­ther it be by reason or sense, pag. 60. And in a third he gives this reason; It is not required, nor can be exacted at our hands, that we should yield unto any thing other assent than such as doth an­swer the evidence which is to be had of that we assent unto: for which cause, even in matters divine, concerning some things we may lawfully doubt; of some things [Page 96] we may very well retain an opinion that they are probable, and not unlikely to be true. Then are our Consciences best re­solved and in most agreeable sort unto God and Nature settled, when they are so far perswaded, as those grounds of perswa­sion which are to be had will bear, which thing I so much the rather set down, for that I see how a number of Souls are for want of right information in this point oftentimes grievously vexed, when bare and unbridled conclusions are put into their minds: they finding not themselves to have thereof any great certainty Imagin this proceedeth only from lack of faith, and that the Spirit of God doth not work in them, as it doth in true believers: by this means their hearts are much trou­bled, they fall into anguish and perplexi­ty; whereas the truth is that how bold and confident soever we may be in words, when it cometh to the point of tryal, such as the evidence is, which the truth hath either in it self or through proof, such is the hearts assent thereto, neither can it be stronger, being grounded as it [Page 97] should be: page 73. 74. Thus far Mr. Hooker. Therefore it is no argument to conclude that because the Scripture doth not allow Vsury, therefore it may not be used: for if the Scripture do not absolutely condemn it, it is suffi­cient if Reason or Sense do guide our belief for the practice of it.

I leave those that doubt to consider what Dr. Fenton himself saith within a few lines in the same page, p. 75. This Vsury which we have in hand is no principle of faith, no mystery of Salva­tion to be apprehended in the simplici­ty of belief: but a point of Morality belonging to the second Table, and so determinable by the rules of Equity and Charity.

It is objected (p. 77.) that it is Scan­dalous, and therefore unlawful.

Answ. If Scandal be taken and not given, it is not in it self unlawful. Still he flies from the question.

7. Of the unnaturalness of Vsury.

A fourth Reason of Dr. Fenton is, p. 91. that the encrease of mony is un­natural. Therefore unlawful.

Answ. This is no argument of Divi­nity from Scripture, but of Philosophy from Aristotle.

Secondly, If it were of force, it serves only against Vsury of mony, but not of all other things.

Thirdly, It is confessed, that mony considered as it is a metal, is not per­haps by nature apt to generation & in­crease; and yet even that may be doubted of: But mony considered as it is mony, which Art not Nature hath produced, may be allowed an ar­tificial increase or gain, as well as houses, ships, and mamy other things not natural. Policy hath ordained the value of Metals to be the com­mon rule and measure for the worth of all things vendible, and by com­mon estimation it is accompted in the [Page 99] place and stead of such things; so that in opinion and use mony is both land, house, horse, corn, or any thing that is valued by it; even man himself, who in worth exceeds all other creatures, is by Gods own valuation, prized at a certain sum of mony, and fifty Shekels of Silver were accepted by God in the place and stead of a man who by vow belonged unto him. Levit. 27, 3.

It being then so apparent, that Mo­ny is by Art taken, and used for all things valuable, both by man and God himself (who had his peculi­ar Coin, the Shekel of the Sanctu­ary, for all sacred uses, Exodus 30. 13.) It follows in all reason, that since the nature of most things that are valued and sold is to bring forth an increase, that Mony it self also which is esteemed for them should doe the like, or else Art is frustrated of her intention, who found out the use of mony only for the ease and benefit of Trade, which proves to be a discommoditie if the benefit of in­increase [Page 100] be lost by the conversion into mony.

It is further objected by Dr. Fen­ton, that mony may not be let for hire, as a horse, a house, or a cow, because these things are the worse for letting.

Answ. What thinks he, may a man take hire for a house when he binds the Lessee to leave it in as good repair as he found it? Many times a horse by a moderate journey after long rest is the better, whether may the Letter take mony for his hire? If this Argu­ment were sound, that no hire ought to be taken, but where the things are the worse for using, then I believe all the Rent that hath been paid for land since Noahs Floud hath been unjustly taken: For it will hardly appear that any Acre of Land is worse now than in his dayes; since many Acres are bettered by tillage and manuring, which by lying waste are hurt; and houses also decay most for want of inhabiting. The true rule of Letting is not only the Lenders loss in the im­pairing [Page 101] of the thing lent, but the Borrowers gain by the use of it. And we must consider, as well what the owner is the worse by the want of that use, as what the thing lent is impair­ed. If another use my land, though it be not the worse, yet he is the better by having the crop of it, and I am the worse by wanting that benefit of it which he made; therefore I justly challenge Rent for it. The like case is for mony, the Borrower hath the use of it, and though the mony be not the worse for using, yet the Lender is the worse by missing the commoditie which the other makes of it, and the Borrower is bettered by the employ­ment of it.

Also it is objected (pag. 148.) That mony is void of all immediate use in it self to the possessor while he doth enjoy it.

Answ. So it is with Land, which immediately neither clothes nor feeds any man, but by the mediation of til­lage and pasturage both are effected, [Page 102] and though no man immediately eats or wears mony, yet by the meanes of it food and raiment are procured.

Another objection is, That mony the more it doth increase the more it may, which is unnatural, and contrary to other increase.

Answ. It is so in other sorts of in­crease; for one sheep brings forth a Lamb, and that Sheep and Lamb in time bring forth a double increase, which multiplies to a third, and so for­ward: so one hundred pound brings forth ten pound, and both together in time increase to produce eleven pound. The only difference is, that mony is more durable than other fruit­ful things, which by course of Nature are more perishable.

8. Of the ungodliness of Vsury.

It is ungodly and impious, against the first Table, because it dependeth not upon Gods Providence, but is assured by Bonds against the Act of God.

[Page 103] Answ. 1. Dr. Fenton forgets that he said Vsury belongs to the second Table; Why is it here made a breach of the first?

Secondly, the Vsurers security is to arm himself against the ordinary frauds, negligences, or other follies of the Bor­rower. If by the hand of God an ex­traordinary loss do happen, by the like meanes also an extraordinary gaine may be raised sometimes, both which be­long to the borrower, except the mer­cy of the lender, to whom he is to trust, relieve him. And surely the V­surer hath greater cause, and seems also to trust God more than any other man, and is least armed against him. He had need pray against foul weather, tempest, wind, and wrack; for al­though he be no Husbandman, Mer­chant, Tradesman, no Labourer, yet by the thriving of all these he must live, if all or any of these miscarry, it is not his bonds many times which help him. Neither against the hand of God only is he unarmed, but against [Page 104] the frauds of men many times his se­curity cannot defend him. How ma­ny have been defrauded of their prin­cipal debts by fraudulent deeds of gift, by concealing of goods, and divers other wayes? It is true some few in a City may sometimes attain to a noted wealth by Usury; but these are but as cyphers in comparison of hundreds, who living by the like employment of money, do scarce attain to a moderate gain whereby to maintain themselves in their first condition; and many times as skilful Usurers as the best, what by the loss sometimes of interest, sometimes of Principal, and other whiles of both, and many times by the lying still of their mony for want of reasonable security, have proved in the end perfect Beggars by this trade. And what greater Argument can there be of the hazard and danger of mony that is lent, than the Common opinion of the world, which esteems a small revenew in land of Fee simple, more safe and certain than almost a [Page 105] double encrease in mony with perpe­tual hazard? and for this cause land is dearer than mony.

As for taking of Bonds for payment, it is no more injurious to the Provi­dence of God than to have a bond or covenant of a Tenant for the payment of his rent; for although some years by the unseasonableness of the year, or by some other act of God, the land yields not the rent contracted for, yet the Tenant is absolutely bound to pay it without any condition of gaining so much by the land: And the reason is grounded upon great equity, and is all one both for contracts of land and mony to be absolute.

Nither GOD nor Nature have proportioned the valuation of Lands, Commodities, or Moneys; no Text can be brought to prove an Acre must be just sold at such a price, or a commo­dity at such a rate; the worth of things in proportion one to another, is a hu­mane arbitrary custome, grounded upon the several necessities or opinions of [Page 106] each particular Nation. Thus the com­mon estimation doth allow Lands, Goods and Mony taken with all casu­alties, hazards and charges, to be worth one year with another about a certain value; and it is reasonable that such a certain value should be contracted for: so that as the Seller or Letter is not to participate of the extraordina­ry gaines that may be raised, so he is not to sustain the losses if any do hap­pen.

9. Of the Injustice of Vsury

It is further urged, (pag. 98.) that it is unjust, because it takes hire for loan, and sels Charity, which should be free, so that things are not lent but let, if they goe for hire.

Answ. 1. Dr. Fenton can shew no reason why mony may not be let, as well as lent; as well as a house or a horse which may be both: I ought in great necessity to lend freely to the poor, yet this work of Charity doth [Page 107] not hinder me from letting the same thing where there is not the like ne­cessity.

If the use of money for a time be worth money in buying and selling, as Dr. F. confesseth (pag. 99.) The rule may better hold in Letting, which is no work of Charity, though both in Let­ting and Selling Charity is to guide us. It doth not follow that because I must lend a shilling for a day, there­fore I may not lend a pound for a year. Besides, even in letting for hire, there is often both Charity and Friend­ship shewed: As, if I let a thing for half the value the use of it is worth, to one whom others dare not trust with their goods. If some things which are spent in the first use may be sold for increase, why may not o­ther things that are used be let in the same sort, since letting is but a tempo­rary kind of selling, and selling in ef­fect a perpetual kind of letting. If such things as are bought this day for ten pound may be sold to morrow for [Page 108] eleven pound, may not the same ten pound which by buying and selling may encrease in one day to this ele­ven pound, may it not by letting in­crease in a whole year to as much?

Nor can there be any reason shew­ed, since money hath a gainful use in it self (and as Solomon saith, answer­eth all things) why I may not as well let a hundred pound in money, as a hundred pounds worth of Cattel, Houses, or Lands, which I buy with my money: And because they often tell us that he that bears the hazard must have the gain, I must ask what they will say to a Lease for Life where­in both Parties hazard, yet but one gains.

Dr. Andrews Bishop of Winchester hath an argument against Vsury, ta­ken from the Rule of our Saviour, Luke 6. 31. as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. Nemo (saith he) sibi vellet Vsuras in­fligi, cum fratre sio agat igitur. No man is willing to have Vsury taken of [Page 109] him, therefore he must not take him­self; every man desires to borrow freely, therefore he must lend freely.

Answ. The Rule of our Saviour must necessarily be thus expounded, Whatsoever ye will, that is, Whatsoever you will according to right reason or com­mon Justice; for if any man be so un­reasonable or so frantick as to will that others should kill him, yet my Lord of Winchester will not say that therefore that man may kill another. So he that desires to borrow freely, breaks the Rule of common equity and rectified reason, by coveting his neighbours goods; for he that desi­reth to benefit himself by the use of another mans goods, doth therein uncharitably desire the hindrance of his neighbour.

Also it is objected, that the great­ness of gain which is made by Vsury is unlawful. pag. 100.

Answ. 1. This is no proof against all increase of money; but onely a­gainst excessive gains: whereas it [Page 110] should be proved that Vsury of a pen­ny in the hundred is a sin, as well as of ten pounds.

Secondly, By this Rule all gain of merchandizing is condemned, which is ordinarily far greater than that of ten in the hundred.

Thirdly, The greatness of gain by Lending must be estimated by the common opinion of the Countrey: otherwise how can any mans Consci­ence warrant him to purchase any inheritance? Men buy Land to them and to their heirs for ever, that is till Dooms-day; which when it will come no man knows, and yet as if every purchaser knew the hour, he bargain­eth for Land at fifteen or sixteen years purchase. But the last day may come within a year, or within fifteen, or perhaps not within fifteen hun­dred years: howsoever it be uncer­tain, yet the publick valuation doth esteem it Certain; And no man buyes land at fifteen years purchase, upon Condition that Dooms-day come not [Page 111] before, because perhaps then he may have a dear penny-worth: Nor upon Condition that if the World last lon­ger than fifteen years, that thence­forward the Purchaser should pay a further sum. No, but Custome thinks fit to make an absolute bargain, though by the meer act of God it may be made a dear purchase.

As the Argument of the greatness of gain in Vsury makes against trading or merchandizing, so thereby also bargaining for Leases for term of years will be made unjust; And this may the better appear if we examine one of Dr. Fenton's examples of Vsu­ry in this kind: If (saith he, pag. 21.) purposely to avoid the Statute, I will pur­chase an annuity of twenty pound per annum with an hundred pound for ten years, this is bargain and sale, yet the very same with Vsury, differing only in parchment, and manner of Covenant­ing, subject to the same iniquity and in­equality; poisoned with purpose of avoid­ing the Statute and penalty of Vsury.

[Page 112] Ans. 1. If onely the purpose to a­void the Statute makes his Case to be Vsury, then before the Statute it was no Vsury, for there could be no purpose to avoid a penalty that was not, and this is to make Vsury a breach only of Mans Law and not of God's. Let us ask Dr. Fenton whe­ther a Lease for years and annuity bought with money be Vsury simply in it self; he dares not say it, his answer is, pag. 129. We cannot con­demn it for Vsury; and yet he seeth most apparently it is of the very self­same nature with Lending upon Bonds, and differs only in the security: upon Bond a man ties himself, upon a Lease a man ties his Land, in both these there is the like increase by Money, and both pay alike at the end.

Secondly, This Case I find put of a Lease that brings in above ten in the hundred, thereby to make it more odious: but give us leave to put it in other termes, and then ask his opini­on, [Page 113] If with a hundred pound I pur­chase an annuity of ten pounds per annum and twenty shillings over year­ly for ten yeares, is this Vsury because it is an increase above the principal? It is the very self-same bargain in na­ture with his, it differs only in the quantity of increase. Now both by his definition and argument, as well the increase of a penny is Vsury as of ten pounds in the hundred, so then by his doctrine a man may not buy a lease worth one penny more than his prin­cipal. If it be pretended that bargain and sale of leases be lawful if it be reasonable, otherwise not; then if the unreasonableness only of the bargain make it a sin of Vsury, then the for­mer doctrine which saith all increase is Vsury, is thereby denied, And I confess that an unreasonable bargain is a sin, but of theft in general not of Vsury.

Thirdly, The principal purpose in buying an annuity or lease for yeares is to gain by a hundred pound, which since it could not safely be done by [Page 114] bonds, therefore by a second intenti­on men labour to avoid the Statute, so that to gain and in gaining to a­void the Statute is the purpose of such Contracts, and not chiefly to avoid the Statute, which might best be a­voided by not purchasing at all.

Fourthly, It is no sin to avoid a Statute by lawful meanes; if the Con­tract of bargain and sale be in it self lawful, why should it be a vice and not a vertue thereby to avoid the pe­nalty of the Law, since laws are pur­posely made to force men to avoid them by lawful meanes.

Fiftly, Whereas Dr. Fenton (pag. 129.) concludeth, that if simply with­out any pretence such annuity of rent be bought or sold, we cannot condemn it for Vsury. It follows that the pretence or intention of the heart, and not the Contract makes it Vsury: and that (as he himself confesseth pag. 128.) if the intention be right, that which formally is Vsurious, upon the matter may in justice be equivalent to a lawful Contract. If formal [Page 115] Vsury may be no Vsury, we must look for a new definition of Vsury in the Consciences of men, and not in Dr. Fenton's treatise; And if Vsury be com­mitted in Buying and Selling, what Contract will be found in the world without Vsury.

To Instance in some other Con­tracts, let us consider of the absolute buying and selling of land, or of pur­chasing an annuity for life; because these two Contracts are esteemed by most men to be the lawfullest of all o­thers, yet in both these, the just and ordinary valuation both of fee simple land and of leases for lives is ground­ed and guided by Vsury only, and as the use of mony goeth higher or low­er, so the prices of these rise and fall, so that in very truth he that purchas­eth land is the greatest Vsurer in the world, because he maketh the great­est and certainest gain by his bargain, for example; Admit land is bought and sold for sixteen yeares purchase, and let the inheritance of the land be [Page 116] made away for so little a summ as the land will bring home in sixteen years; what Conscience is there to keep that for ever, which in so short a time pay­eth the purchaser his principal? There can be no other reason yielded for this great disproportion but this, that both the Purchaser and Seller do e­qually value the use of the mony, and do make the bargain accordingly. The purchase-mony considered with the Use of it would last about a 1000 years in paying yearly so much as the Rent of the land is, therefore the Purchaser expects to enjoy, and the Seller in­tends to part with the land for ever, because the inheritance of the land af­ter a thousand yeares is not valuable, for that ordinarily within four or five hundred yeares the possessions of the ancientest families come to a period, or decay. In like manner, an annuity for life is bought for nine yeares pur­chase, not because a mans life is ordi­narily taken to last but nine years, but because the mony with the use will [Page 117] last almost twice nine years in paying the annuity: so that if the Purchaser of the annuity dye within eighteen years, the Grantor may be a gainer, or at the least a saver, by the bargain; but if he live above eighteen yeares the Grantor must be at a loss. This Casualtie of a lease for life, wherein the Buyer hopes by his own life to be a gainer, and the Seller hopes by the death of the Buyer to be a gainer, hath made some men (if we will be­lieve Thomas Aquinas) to think that a lease for life is the worst kind or double Vsury, beause there is an Usu­rious intention on both sides, as well in the Grantor as in the Grantee to gain.

If many men who are fit for Call­ings live idlely on Vsury, they sin, but no otherwise than those that let their lands: they may and ought to serve God and their Country in some Call­ing, if they do not, it is no fault of Vsury, but an abuse of it. Neither let any man fear that Vsury will bring [Page 118] idleness in the world, for if all men be idle there can be no Vsury. It is the usury-imployment of men by their trading that makes the use of mony to be at so high a value, and many must be idle if they borrow not a stock to set them on work.

10. Of the Vncharitableness of Vsury.

In the last Chapter of Dr. Fenton his second book, I did expect some ex­traordinary argument against Vsury, because it treats of the breach of Cha­rity by Vsury, and the opposition be­tween them: I did long to see it prov­ed; but now I am come to it, I find it the shortest Chapter in his book, both in quantity, and proof, the little that he saith is in effect, that Vsurers are commonly uncharitable pag. 106.

Answ. I. did expect to have it prov­ed that all Usury is in it self unchari­table, and he tels us that all Vsurers are so: It is the fault of the men, and [Page 119] not of the thing. Thrift which of it self is a vertue, being abused is the hinderance of Charity, and yet Thrift is no breach of Charity: A thrifty man and an Vsurer may be merciful to the poor, because they are many times better able than others. If Vsury of it self were a breach of Charity: then not to lend to Vsury were an act of Charity: which is but a meer Privati­on and no Act at all. The reason why Vsurers be commonly found merci­less, is for that in many men Cove­tousness makes them Vsurers, and not Vsury brings them to be Covetous. Many Vsurers are found well disposed to Charity, and give twice as much to Charitable uses as those that have twice their estate in Lands and are no Vsu­rers. Since then all Vsurers are not un­charitable, and those that be, are found, and not made such by Vsury, it is but small Charity to say that Vsu­ry of it self is the breach of Charity.


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  • 52. A Modest Plea for the Clergy, wherein is briefly considered the Original, Antiquity, Necessity, to­gether [Page] with all the Occasions of their Contempt, 8o. price 1 s. 6 d.
  • 53. The Astrological Judgment and Practice of Physick, deduced from the Position of the Heavens at the Decumbiture of the Sick Person. By Richard Saunders, a Practitioner 30 years, 8o.
  • 54. There is printing an Excellent Piece of Natural Philosophy in Eng­lish. Written by Tho. Hobs of Malms­bury, 8o.
These 11 Plays are Printed and Printing.
  • 1. The White Devil, or Vittoria Co­rombona, 4o.
  • 2. The Old Troop, or Monsieur Rag­gou, 4o.
  • 3. Cataline's Conspiracy, 4o.
  • 4. The Amorous Gallant, or Lov [...] in fashion 4o.
  • 5. The Mock Duellist, or Frenc [...] Valet, 4o.
  • 6. The Wrangling Lovers, or Incessi­sible Mistris, 4o.
  • [Page] 7. Tom Essence, or the Modish Wife, 4o. printing.
  • 8. The French Conjurer, 4o.
  • 9. Wit led by the Nose, or the Poets Revenge, 4o.
  • 10. The Rival Kings 4o.
  • 11. Constant Nymph, or Rambling Shepherd, 4o.
  • 56. A Treatise of Wool and Cat­tel, 4o.

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