(This is in the public domain. Do whatever you want with it.

) From page four through five of the Vol. 7, No. 1 Lutheran Witness, June 7, 1888: Against the Sin of Usury. —— A Catechetical Lecture in three parts, read before the Cleveland Pastoral Conference in July 1880, by Rev. Pres. H. C. Schwan. —— PART I. WHAT IS USURY. “He that augumenteth his substance by usury and increase, gathereth it for him that hath pity on the poor.” Prov. 28, 8.

Formerly Christians, Jews and Gentiles knew what usury is and that it is wrong. But, alas, at the present time most of the very Christians no longer know this, and a great number, too, do not want to know. For this reason, beloved children, lay well to heart our present lesson. In the first place, then, What is usury? In our Bible — and in all books of the Hebrew, Greek and Latin tongues and with all German and English authors up to the second half of the sixteenth century — the word usury denotes an augmenting of one's substance by premiums stipulated for the use of money or of other goods. REQUIRING IN REPAYMENT OF MONEY OR GOODS LENT ANYTHING MORE THAN WAS LENT, IS USURY. This was the doctrine of the whole world, thus Jews, Gentiles and Christians always understood it till the later part of the 16. century. The same idea is conveyed by the word increase, namely every thing we stipulate beyond the principal lent. The only difference which some expounders make between usury and increase, is that usury refers to a compensation stipulated for the use of money, increase to a compensation stipulated for the use of goods. In every other respect they denote the same. Now repeat the definition of usury. We must pay close attention to the several members of our definition. 1. Our definition refers us to money and goods LENT. Now, if my

transaction does not refer to things lent, but, for instance to things bought and sold, if in my sale of goods I ask somewhat more than I paid, would that be usury? No. Usury, therefore, is practised only in which things? In things lent. Now bear in mind, people sometimes call things lent, which in fact were not lent. Let me give you a pertinent illustration. A laboring man has saved $100. His neighbor is a merchant. Says the merchant to the laboring man: Invest your money in my business. Of what I gain, you shall have your share of profit. If I lose, you must bear your share of loss, too. The risk of my labor and money shall also be the risk of your money.—Well, the laboring man lets the merchant have his money. What, then, did the laboring man do with his money? He lent it to the merchant. No, he did not do this. He put it out, but he did not lend it. People may term this a lending, but it is no lending. Mind this first. Now another instance. Suppose the merchant would say, I am just now in distress, help me out for a while with your $100. I shall see to it that your money is made safe and at such and such time you shall receive it back duly. Now the laboring man lets him have his $100 on this condition. Now, did he advance his money in the same manner in both instances or is there a difference? There is a difference. Certainly. a) In the first instance his money should benefit himself; in the second instance it should aid his neighbor. b) In the first instance he remains possessor of his money; in the second instance the merchant becomes the possessor, though indeed only for a certain time. c) If the money is lost, in the first instance the laboring man is the loser. Now mind! In the first instance the laboring man entered into partnership with the merchant, entered into business with him. In the second instance he LENT him his money. And only the latter is in truth lending proper: giving to another the temporary use of a thing so that it becomes during this time the property of the borrower. * Now to proceed, Only for the use of what money should we not ask a premium? Only for the use of the money lent. Does God, then, require us to draw no gain from our money, not that even of honest business? God requires no such thing. But in what manner shall we indeed draw NO gain from our money? Not by lending. For how is the gain termed that is stipulated for the use of the money lent? Usury. And this God hath expressly and severely prohibited. 2. Our definition says: Requiring any thing MORE than was lent. Is it wrong, therefore, to require even the repayment of the principal, or is it right? It is right. Correct! Else it were not lent, but simply given. Lending presupposes repayment. But because the Lord Jesus saith, “Lend, hoping for nothing again” (Luke 6, 35), we must indeed, if we would be His disciples, not only lend when we have certain hope of receiving the principal again, but in many cases we must run the risk of receiving it again or of losing it. The principal lent we may indeed hope to receive again. But are we allowed

to require more than was lent? No. For what would that be? Usury, increase. 3. Our definition says: Any thing more than was lent. Does it matter then whether the premium stipulated be of a high or low rate? Is it usury only, when we stipulate a compensation beyond the rate of interest established by law? No. Of course, in the present case asking two per cent is as much usury as asking twenty per cent. or does a difference perhaps rest in the person of the lender? Is it no sin for a poor man to require more than he lent? It is a sin for him too, the wrong is the same. Or does the person of the borrower perhaps change the face of the matter? Is it right to require from a rich man any thing more than was lent him? No. 4. Our definition says: REQUIRING any thing more than was lent. Is it wrong then for the lender to accept what the borrower give him voluntarily, though the lender stipulated no repayment of anything save the principal? Such is not usury. When is it usury? When repayment of more than was lent is required. Correct; may this Requiring be made in explicit terms, or by intimation or by the hidden desire of the heart. 5. Our definition says: Requiring in repayment of MONEY or GOODS lent. Is there a difference then in the matter that was lent? whether this be money, grain, flour, or anything else that was lent? Is it wrong to require a premium for lending money, but right to require a compensation for the lending of corn, hay, and the like? It is allowed in nothing. Observe, then, these points; nothing more and nothing less did God prohibit when he prohibited usury, and God did prohibit usury. For how does our proof-passage, Prov. 28, 8. read? “He that augmenteth his substance by usury and increase, gathereth it for him that hath pity on the poor.” What do we name a man that augmenteth his substance by usury? A usurer. And what does our passage say of such a one? “He gathereth it for him that hath pity on the poor.” Why, this does not read at all like a prohibition and threat, on the contrary it reads more like a promise, a praise! If the usurer gathers for the poor, he does a good work, as it would seem! But can such be the sense of our passage? No. Mind, one may gather in pity of the poor, and one may gather without any such pity. One may gather with the intention of benefiting the poor, and one may gather without any such intention. Now, on which side, do you think, will the usurer be found? He has no desire of gathering for the poor. Indeed not; and yet he must gather for the poor without knowing and desiring it. When the usurer shall have filled his hands with the gain of usury, God will visit him unexpectedly and strike it from his hands to make it fall to the ground that it may be gathered by the poor. That is to say, God will at last deprive usurers of their mammon and oftentimes they must see their wealth go to such parties as

would never have been favored by them. Such is the punishment which God, in our proof-passage, threatens to inflict upon the usurer. That such is really the true sense of our proof passage, yea that usurers will be visited by a still greater punishment, you will learn from the following quotation. What do we read in Ezekiel 18, 13? “He that hath given forth upon usury, and hath taken increase: shall he then live? he shall not live: he hath done all these abominations; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon him.” In these words usury is called an “abomination” and a deadly sin; therefore they must refer to usury wilfully practised against better knowledge. If such a usurer then does not sincerely repent, may he expect eternal life, or do death and eternal condemnation await him? Only death and eternal damnation. Is usury then, in the face of God, a small or a great sin? It is a great sin. (To be continued.)

(This is in the public domain. Do whatever you want with it.) From page twelve of the Vol. 7, No. 2 Lutheran Witness, June 21, 1888: Against the Sin of Usury. —— A Catechetical Lecture in three parts, read before the Cleveland Pastoral Conference in July 1880, by Rev. Pres. H. C. Schwan. —— PART II. WHY GOD PROHIBITED USURY. “He that augumenteth his substance by usury and increase, gathereth it for him that hath pity on the poor.” Prov. 28, 8.

But right here a great many people say, they could not conceive in the least, Why God prohibited the requiring of interest from money lent. But the good will to see the point in the question will soon remove the difficulty. God prohibited usury: 1. Because usury militates against justice. If a business-transaction, a contract or bargain should be just; must it then be just for one party or for both parties? For both parties. That's the bearing of the word just. But dare such an action be unequal or must it be equitable? It must be marked by a due consideration for what is just and fair for both parties. Now if I invest my money in another man's business under condition: If he gains, I want to share in the gain, of course in the proper proportion; if he loses, I shall share in the loss, of course in proper proportion; if he loses his whole investment, I am willing to lose my whole investment—is this contract equal for both parties, or not? is it, therefore, just or unjust? It is equal and just. Observe, for this reason God in no way prohibited such business-contracts. But if I place my money in another man's hand and stipulate: You must bear the burden of labor, risk and loss, not I; you may lose even so much, I want to lose nothing; I want my money safe, I want my money fully repaid in due time, and in addition I require THIS AND THAT MUCH MORE than the principal—is such a bargain fair and just for both sides? No, it is unfair and unjust. Observe now that such is the very character of the usury-contract, and this is the first reason why God prohibited the same. 2. The second reason is, because usury militates against true charity. God requires of a Christian not only to act according to justice. God requires still more. A Christian must also act conformably to charity. What is, therefore, the sum and substance of the second table? Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Now tell me, Does true charity apply to herself, or only

to whom? To our neighbor. What does Scripture say, Does charity seek her own or rather what? She seeks her neighbor's good. Does he, then, who seeketh his own good, caring nothing for his neighbor's loss—does he act charitably or uncharitably? Uncharitably. And whose good does the usurer seek by his usurious contract? Only his own good. How, then, does usury agree with charity? It does not agree at all. The usurer, of course, says, he were practising charity by lending his money to the other party. But tell me, do we require payment for any service rendered from pure charity? No. Any service for which we require payment, ceases to be what in itself? It ceases to be a charitable act. Why? Because we render it for remuneration and not for charity's sake. Now tell me, does the usurer ask pay for his services or not? He asks pay. His lending on interest can therefore impossibly be a service of what kind? Of a charitable kind. True, God never commanded that we should require no pay for any work whatever. But He wants us not to ask payment for all services we render. Some services should indeed remain which men shall render one to another gratuitously and from charity. Among such services He hath numbered lending without which human society cannot thrive. Lending shall be and remain a charitable act. See, this is the second reason why usury is sin, because it militates against charity. Even if God had nowhere prohibited usury in express terms, yet its prohibition would be comprised in the sum of the second table. But in order to render us fully excuseless, God added in Scripture also some express prohibitions. Whence, then, does it flow that people require contrary to justice and charity payment for lending? From avarice, from love of money. And whence floweth the love of money? From unbelief. And notwithstanding this fact people continue to inquire, Why God should have prohibited usury. 3. And now, children, if you observe how usury renders the hearts of men so cold and hard, how it misleads into lying, deceiving and all kinds of injustice; how it ruins innumerable men in body and soul; yea, threw into distress whole nations, for which reason all intelligent pagans have condemned it time and again; if you knew what distress and misery is caused thereby in the commerce of our country; if you knew, for instance, that it is only because of those usurious corners in wheat, corn, coffee, etc., that poor people must continue to pay the same price for bread, corn, coffee, etc., though God Almighty causes three times more to grow than is necessary—if you knew all these things you would not be surprised at the fact that it is this very usury against which God threatened such severe punishments. (To be continued.)

(This is in the public domain. Do whatever you want with it.) From page twenty through twenty-one of the Vol. 7, No. 3 Lutheran Witness, July 7, 1888: Against the Sin of Usury. —— A Catechetical Lecture in three parts, read before the Cleveland Pastoral Conference in July 1880, by Rev. Pres. H. C. Schwan. —— PART III. OBJECTIONS ANSWERED. “He that augumenteth his substance by usury and increase, gathereth it for him that hath pity on the poor.” Prov. 28, 8.

But usurers have all kinds of objections and subterfuges wherewith they attempt to justify their doings. Their main objections I shall now mention, and yourselves shall say whether their excuses are acceptable or not. 1. They say: “If God hath once in former days suffered the lending of money upon usury, at least unto a foreigner (Deut. 23, 20), this cannot have been a sin then. For God never suffers anything that is sinful. If in those days usury was no sin, neither is it a sin now; for with God there is no shadow of turning.” But bear in mind, in those days it was also suffered to abruptly give one's wife a writing of divorcement (Matth. 19, 7). Now if some one would say at the present day: If they were suffered to do such divorcing in former days, I am suffered to do the same now too, would such reasoning be right or wrong? Wrong. For what does Christ say, why Moses must for a time suffer the Jews to do this? Because of the hardness of their heart. Correct; this was the very cause why God suffered it, that is, such divorcement was not then punished by the civil authorities. Civil authorities may also in other cases punish only the grossest sins. Now if a husband had even in those days wickedly given his wife a writing of divorcement and in so doing had reasoned, because God does not insist on having me punished for this act by the civil authorities, therefore it must be lawful also before God, would such reasoning have been right or wrong? Wrong. Certainly any one that would be a child of God, was not permitted to do such divorcing even under the Old Dispensation, and less still are we permitted to practice it under the New Dispensation. In which words does our Savior clearly teach this? In these: “But from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery.” Now mind, just so it hold also with

usury. Though God suffered, under the old Dispensation, various cases of usury to be practiced without visiting them by external punishments, in His judgment be always reproves it. And if the civil authorities of the present day punish usury only in its grossest form or rather no longer punish usury anywhere. Christians must not thereby screen themselves, for God reproves it in His Word. 2. Another objector will say: “Oh, the prohibitions of usury pertain to the civil law of the Old Testament and this law no longer obtains, as is known.” But this objection even you, children, may certainly refute. For you have already learnt the three marks by which we may know that a commandment really belongs to the moral law which never ceases and is binding upon all men. Which is the first mark? Answer: If the transgression of a commandment be also reproved in the heathen, because such commandment was indeed also written in the heart of the heathen. But what is proved by the very fact that also the intelligent pagans always condemned usury? It proves that this too is written in the heart of men, that usury is really prohibited by the natural or moral law. Which is the second mark? Answer: That a commandment of prohibition necessarily flows from the sum of the commandments. And what have we already observed concerning the prohibition of usury? That it necessarily flows from the commandment of love and charity. Which is the third mark? Answer: That such commandment or prohibition be also repeated in the New Testament for Christians, Now in which words does Christ repeat the prohibition of usury? In these words: “Lend, hoping for nothing again.” Luke 6, 35. Now if Christ forbids, in lending to hope for anything again, he of course thereby also forbids to hope for the interest of usury.— 3. Some objectors adduce Exodus 22, 25 and Leviticus 25, 35, 37, “If thy brother be waxen poor . . . take thou no usury of him or increase; but fear thy God; that thy brother may live with thee. Thou shalt not give him thy money upon usury, nor lend him thy victuals for increase,”—and argue thus: “We must accordingly not lend upon usury to such as would thereby become still poorer. But there is no danger of this as far as rich people are concerned; this makes it patent that we are not forbidden to lend upon usury to rich people.” True, it is a twofold cruelty to extort usury from a a poor man, but it is and remains wrong too to derive usury from the very richest. Or does God, when he forbids us to oppress the widow and the orphan, does he thereby give us permission to torment all other men that they are not widows and orphans? Certainly not. Does He then allow to lay usury upon all such as are not made poor thereby? Most certainly not. 4. Other objectors argue on this wise: “It is lawful to rent out houses and to hire our horses and the like and to require a compensation for their use. Now we cannot see why it should be wrong to do the same with our capital.

We can see no difference between renting and lending.” Answer: There is a difference between renting and lending. First in this respect that houses, horses, etc. require a continual outlay to keep them in proper condition, they are such perishable goods as put their owner under a running expense. This is certainly not the case with money. Hundred dollars will be hundred dollars in hundred years from now. But money may be lost. So may houses and horses. But money must be paid on money. So on houses and horses. Therefore this feature remaineth that money remains in its condition of fixed value and does not deteriorate by being used. There is therefore a natural difference between renting and lending. We are indeed required to lend our distressed neighbor our house, horse, etc. without asking any compensation. For thus God saith in Isa. 58, 7: “Is it not to deal they bread to the hungry, and that though bring the poor that are cast out to thy house.” In these words God certainly bids us to give free shelter to our afflicted neighbor until his distress be relieved. And the good Samaritan certainly lent his beast of burden to the man that was half dead, for thus we read Luke 10, 33: “He had compassion on him . . . and set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn and took care of him.” The good Samaritan paid rent for a room to lend it to the ill-used Jew and he also lent him his beast of burden. If the Samaritan had asked a compensation from the Jew for room and horse, why the Jew must have perished and the Samaritan would never have been recorded as an example of compassionateness. But if such people as are not in distress ask the use of my house or horse because they are not minded to build and keep one of their own; or because they squander their money, which they might save by industry and frugality; or because they prefer to invest their money in other enterprises: in such cases we are not bound to deal with them according to the precepts of charity, but according to the justice and equity of business. Hence it is plain that we are required to lend our house, horse, etc. to our afflicted neighbor without any compensation; but if he is able to hire and to rent, it is perfectly lawful also with God to require the compensation of it and rent. 5. Another objector will say: “Why, the debtor is perfectly willing to pay the stipulated interest, therefore it cannot be a sin for me to require the interest.” But do you really believe, your debtor would still be so willing if he could borrow the needed money absolutely without paying the interest of usury? A proverb saith: “He doeth it very willingly with compulsion. The high priests also gave to Judas those thirty pieces of silver very willingly; but did their willingness justify Judas in receiving or requiring them? Equally then does the objection mentioned excuse usury. 6. Another objector will say: If I am bound to lend to everyone that ask me for a loan, in compliance with the passage Matth. 7, 42, 'From him that would borrow of thee turn not away,' and moreover, I shall ask no compensation for lending: why, everybody will want to borrow my money,

even those who need it not, and thus all others will draw that benefit from my money except myself, the owner.” But tell me, please, Where is it written that we must lend our money without any exception to each and every one, though such borrowers want our money only for the purpose of lending it upon usury and for other speculations and nontwithstanding the fact that ourselves need the money and our family? Nowhere is such a thing written. In what case then shall we not turn away from him that would borrow of us? Only in case of real distress on his part and in case of ability to aid him on our part. Correct; more than this is not required by God. But this you must now also put into practice whenever an occasion offers itself; and you must do it with singleness of heart, that is, from love towards God and your neighbor. 7. In conclusion, beloved children, you must not forget to observe another point. One may refrain from usury externally and yet be a twofold usurer in heart. Reversely, one may have money on interest and yet in his heart and in the face of God he is not numbered among condemned usurers. Perhaps he does not know better, because the pure doctrine concerning usury has been sadly obscured for ages. If he knew better, he would do better. You know better now. Do then above all things guard your hearts, lest earthly-mindedness and the love of money gain the ascendancy therein. And thereafter if money and property increase with you, beware of all transactions and of all business which are in the least tainted with manifest usury. One the other hand lend willingly whenever you may. Though then nothing accrue to you from men, be of good cheer still. The Lord will respect it as lent unto Himself and He will make up the difference here and reward you openly hereafter.

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