Bunyan's Economics

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py3ak

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In the Life and Death of Mr Badman Bunyan has quite a section on economic sins where he reveals the knavish tricks that Mr Badman used to impose on his customers and his creditors, and details the sinfulness of them. When Mr Attentive asks Mr Wiseman for some general guidance on godliness in buying and selling this is a part of the answer:

John Bunyan, The Life and Death of Mr. Badman
These things duly considered, and made use of by thee to the preparing of thy heart to thy calling of buying or selling; I come in the next place to shew thee how thou shouldest live in the practick part of this art. Art thou to buy or sell?

1. If thou sellest, do not commend; if thou buyest, do not dispraise, any otherwise, but to give the thing that thou hast to do with, its just value and worth; for thou canst not do otherwise knowingly, but of a covetous and wicked mind. Wherefore else are comodities over-valued by the Seller, and also under-valued by the Buyer. It is naught, it is naught, says the buyer, but when he hath got his bargain he boasteth thereof. What hath this man done now but lyed in the dispraising of his bargain? and why did he dispraise it, but of a covetous mind, to wrong and beguile the seller?

2. Art thou a seller, and do things grow dear? set not thy hand to help, or hold them up higher; this cannot be done without wickedness neither; for this is a making of the sheckle great:
Art thou a buyer, and do things grow dear? use no cunning or deceitful language to pull them down: for that cannot be done but wickedly too. What then shall we do? will you say. Why I answer:
Leave things to the providence of God, and do thou with moderation submit to his hand. But since, when they are growing dear, the hand that upholds the price, is, for the time, more strong than that which would pull it down; That being the hand of the seller, who loveth to have it dear, specially if it shall rise in his hand: therefore I say, do thou take heed, and have not a hand in it. The which thou mayest have to thine own and thy neighbours hurt, these three ways:

1. By crying out scarcity, scarcity, beyond the truth and state of things: especially take heed of doing of this by way of a prognostick for time to come. 'Twas for this for which he was trodden to death in the gate of Samaria, that you read of in the book of Kings. This sin has a double evil in it. 1. It belieth the present blessing of God amongst us: and, 2. It undervalueth the riches of his goodness, which can make all good things to abound towards us.

2. This wicked thing may be done by hoarding up, when the hunger and Necessity of the poor calls for it. Now that God may shew his dislike against this, he doth, as it were, license the people to curse such an hoarder up. He that withholdeth corn, the people shall curse him, but blessing shall be upon the head of him that selleth it.

3. But if things will rise, do thou be grieved; Be also moderate in all thy sellings, and be sure let the poor have a pennyworth, and sell thy Corn to those in necessity: Which then thou wilt do, when thou shewest mercy to the poor in thy selling to him, and when thou for his sake, because he is poor, undersellest the market. This is to buy and sell with good conscience: thy buyer thou wrongest not, thy Conscience thou wrongest not, thy self thou wrongest not, for God will surely recompense thee.

I have spoken concerning Corn, but thy duty is, to let thy moderation in all things be known unto all men, the Lord is at hand.
 
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