Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

ist, admits that there is possible “ a breed of barren metal.” “ It may well be called a generation-a generation of vipers, evil offspring of evil parentage.” The idea that good can come out of lending for “ interest” surpasses, he declares, the riddle of Sampson. “Out of the inhuman come forth humanity ? Men do not gather grapes of thorns, figs of thistles, nor humanity of usury. Twelve per cent. men! Ten per cent. men! I shudder to mention them. They are exactors by the month, like the demons who produce epilepsy, attacking the poor as the changes of the moon come round!”

Of later representative Christians, 17 Bishop Jewell, after defining usury, describes its effects in language which is recalled by the disinterested conclusions of that most grim and terrible of contemporary treatises, Mr. Brooks Adams's Law of Civilization and Decay. The exaction of “ interest” is, says the Bishop,

" . . . such a kind of bargaining as no good man, or godly man, ever used; such a kind of bargaining as all men that ever feared God's judgment have always abhorred and condemned. . . . It is a monster in nature; the overthrow of mighty kingdoms; the destruction of flourishing states ; the decay of wealthy cities, the plague of the world, and the misery of the people. It is theft; it is the murdering of our brethren; it is the curse of God, and the curse of the people. . . . Tell me, thou wretched wight of the world, thou unkind creature, which art past all sense and feeling of God; which knowest the will of God and doest the contrary: how darest thou come into the church? It is the church of that God which hath said, “Thou shalt take no usury'; and thou knowest He hath so said. How darest thou read or hear the word of God ? It is the word of that God which condemneth usury; and thou knowest He doth condemn it. How darest thou come into the company of thy brethren ?"

And of faithful priests of God in modern times, who have dared declare the law of His Church, one, preaching in Lombard Street itself, has used such words as these:

“I do openly declare that every minister and every churchwarden throughout all Eng

land are actually perjured and forsworn by the iogth canon of our Church, if they suffer any usurer to come to the sacrament till he be reformed, -and there is no reformation without restitution. ... And that ye may know what usury is forbid by the word of God, turn to Ezekiel xviii., 8, 13, and you will find that, whoever giveth upon usury, or taketh any increase,-mark it !—he that taketh any increase, above the principal,—not six in an hundred, but let it be never so little, and never so moderate,-he that taketh any increase, is a usurer, and such an one as shall surely die for his usury, and his blood shall be upon his own head. This is that word of God by which you shall all be saved or damned at the last day, and all those trifling and shuffling distinctions that covetous usurers ever invented shall never be able to excuse your damnation.

“Heretofore all usurious clergymen were degraded from Holy Orders and all usurious layinen were excommunicated in their lifetime and hindered Christian burial after death, till their heirs had made restitution for all they had gotten by usury.”

Such, without possibility of denial, has always been the Christian position as exhibited until late days in the actual practice of the Church, no less than in the uniform texts of its canons, decrees and definitions, and the consentient teaching of its Doctors and Fathers. In this particular, therefore, at least, I am calling, not for some new, unheard-of interpretation of Christian duty, but for the return of renegades and apostates to the standard adhered to with absolute unanimity through all the earlier centuries.

But the complexity of the modern social organization makes the ancient rule so much more difficult! It does not render it any less righteous. It would involve so much, -so many private fortunes, so many educational and religious foundations, even! It would disturb all values, it would upset the world! Why, the preachers of such a doctrine advocate revolution! Jesus was something of a revolutionist. He was executed in the name of good order. The Apostles were the detested social conspirators of their day. Everywhere they went, they set the cities in an uproar. They made no attempt to conceal it: they were seeking to turn the world upside down, saying that there is another King, one Jesus.

It is all very hard ? It is hard. Those who embrace the doctrine will suffer ? Truly they will. Their dependents will suffer ? All are involved in the common fate, and the innocent must bear the sins of the guilty. Many are doing that now, of necessity. Salvation will come when some voluntarily take up the burden. The way of salvation is the Way of the Cross.

The Way of the Cross—can none be found to enter upon it ?–Upon the answer which some perhaps of us will give hangs the decision in the minds of the millions living and to follow, as to whether Jesus Christ were a crack-brained poet, or very and eternal God in human flesh, assumed to persuade us, with the invincible convincing power of infinite love, how we ought to live; Who died upon the Cross to give us strength to imitate His brave contempt for dignities and ease; as to whether He were a phantom who performed a part and vanished, or is an eternal Saviour Who, in the guise of His majesty radiant through humility, infallibly dwells among His people still, bruised, wounded, covered with reproach, misunderstood, denounced,

« PoprzedniaDalej »