Read Chapter XV - Duty learned from two sources of Usury A Scriptural‚ Ethical and Economic View , free online book, by Calvin Elliott, on

In this discussion we learn our duty from two sources. Two authorities are recognized. One is the revelation of God in his written Word. The other is the book of nature; this includes the ethical nature of man, his social relations, and the laws that govern material things.

The author of the Bible is the God of nature. They are but two volumes from the same mind and hand. They must speak in harmony when both are understood. Truth found in the inspired Word cannot be contradicted in nature; and no facts in the works of God can be found in conflict with the Word He has spoken. A truth found in either is always consistent with the truths made plain in the other.

Familiarity with one prepares us to better understand the other. The devout student of the Word has his mind aroused, and his susceptibility so quickened that he is able to read more clearly the lessons in the volumes of nature open before him. The student of nature, who has searched its mysteries and taken in its beauty and designs of infinite wisdom everywhere appearing, must be the more ready and competent to appreciate the revealed love and grace.

The Bible is not a treatise on natural science, nor does natural science teach revealed religion, yet they do not conflict. The special student of either may have perfect confidence that whatever he has found true in his chosen field will be found consistent with truth in other fields of special study.

Chemistry, biology and all studies of nature, are found only to give a higher conception of the God of all grace. The same wisdom and power shine out in His works that are revealed in His Word.

Again, the laws of God, whether fixed in nature or revealed in His Word, are for the highest interest of the physical, mental and spiritual man. Every truth in the Word works for the welfare of man’s body and soul. The laws of nature, physical and psychological, obeyed, promote man’s bodily and mental vigor. Strict obedience to the laws of God, as revealed in both Word and nature, produces the completest physical and mental manhood.

God had the highest welfare of every man at heart when He prepared the earth for his abode and gave him dominion over it. And He yearned for his deliverance from a fallen estate when He gave him a revelation of His infinite redeeming love. The eye of God is upon each individual of the race, as upon every sparrow. He has in thought, in word and in works, not the favoring of one of an hundred, while the ninety and nine are crushed or neglected, but the happiness and highest good of every one of the hundred.

The ethics of the Bible and the ethics of nature, as wrought out by the earnest heathen philosophers, mainly agree. It is an astonishment to some that there is so much agreement in the systems of heathen morals and the revealed moral law. The moral law is written on men’s hearts, and can be read there by the diligent and careful student; but the consciences of men, enlightened and quickened by the revealed Word, produce the highest ethical types the world knows.

The Bible is not a work on political economy, yet there is nothing out of harmony with the most perfect political institutions. When we find political principles clearly revealed, we shall find the same truths when we study the most orderly relations of men in their social organization.

The Bible is not a work on economics, yet it advances no economic principles that work a hardness or injustice to any. When we find economic principles clearly stated, we shall surely find the same truths confirmed in a careful study of the nature of things.

As the written Word forbids usury or interest, it can be presumed that the nature of things and man’s highest good also forbids it; that it is not an arbitrary prohibition, but is given in love because it is in its very nature a ruinous evil. As we find a positive prohibition of taking usury or interest in the old dispensation and the confirmation of it in the new, both by the words of the Master and the understanding and practice of the disciples and fathers, we may confidently expect that it will be confirmed by a correct and careful study of ethics and of the relation of man to things.

We may learn duty from either or both sources. To some men the Bible comes with the greatest clearness and the utmost force of authority. Others find in nature their highest conception of the Infinite, and their best directions for a correct life. If usury or interest is found to be a sin from the Word, there is no need for those to enter into the economic proof who have no taste for this character of study or reasoning. If it is found to be “malum per se” from the nature of things, even those who reject the divine revelation must array themselves against it. If it is shown to be evil by both revelation and economic law, then all peoples, Christian and heathen, should combine against it.