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Comments on social issues
84,1. It can now be asked, since the Lord never introduced a right of ownership, and therefore never gave any commandment by which one should specifically respect the accumulated fortune of so many stingy usurers, and that in contrast to a host of the very poorest people, - whether one then may steal; namely, what such "usurers" contrary to the Divine law, have accumulated? Because one takes away, according to earthly laws, the stolen items from a thief as soon as he is found. Should one then not have the right to take away from the most base thieves and robbers who transgressed against the Divine law, the accumulated riches and distribute them amongst the needy?
84,2. According to the intellectual conclusion, none could not object to this demand; but the true man has higher powers in himself than his intellect. But what will these say to this intellectual endorsement?
84,3. Let us ask our charity and our love of God. What does it say in our inmost, eternally living spirit out of God? It says nothing but what the Lord Himself has spoken, namely: "My kingdom is not of this world - and who loves his outer life, he will lose the inner; but he who flees his outer life and pays little attention to it, will keep his inner self." This is what the inner spirit speaks.
84,4. Nowhere do we see an invitation to help ourselves from the goods of the rich. The Lord Himself says: "Pay to the Emperor what belongs to the Emperor." Likewise does He not command the rich young man to sell his goods, but only gives him friendly counsel and the promise of eternal life.
84,5. Therefore, since we nowhere come across a commandment from the Lord, by which He had expressly commanded to somehow seize the wealth of the usurers, it is certainly as clear as day, that a true Christian has no right to disown the goods of the rich. Even the one who is in the greatest distress has no justifiable right to seize the goods of even the basest thief, but in the case of a great state of emergency, a whole people has the right to do so.
84,6. Why then? Because then the Lord Himself appears among the people as a ruler and thus causes a just judgment for the insatiable usurers. Not even then should anyone, except in the highest emergency, allow himself to assassinate the usurers and the hard-hearted rich, but should only take from them as much of their most superfluous treasures as the people need to support themselves, to get themselves on their feet again to be able to peacefully acquire sustenance again.
84,7. But the rich usurer should still be left so much that he does not suffer in the world; because that is his only reward for his work. The Lord does not want to punish anyone, but only reward everyone according to the nature of his activity.
84,8. But since the rich and the usurer cannot expect anything after this earthly life, it is quite fair that he finds his reward there for his talent, where he worked.
84,9. The Lord also will not judge a person completely in this world, so that there can still be a possibility for everyone to voluntarily turn from the world and return to the Lord. If everything were taken away from such a rich usurer, he would already be completely judged; for despair will take possession of him and anendless anger, in which he can never possibly enter the path of salvation. But if a sufficient fortune has been left for him, he is for the time being exposed to no earthly misery and does not appear completely unrewarded for his austerity; but secondly, in this condition, he is not yet completely judged, and he still can obey the counsel that the Lord has given to the rich youth, to thereby attain eternal life.
84,10. But where such extreme action would be taken by a deeply impoverished people, it should never be done in a gruesome way; for as soon as this happens, the Lord no longer works with the people, and the people will not see their deeds blessed! For if they prevail today, they will be beaten again tomorrow, and one bloodbath will flow into the other! Man should never forget that all men are his brothers. He should always do what he does with a love-filled heart; He should never want to do anything bad to anyone, but only to do something good at all times, especially regarding the spiritual share of eternal life.
84,11. If this is his purpose, then the Lord will bless his action, but on the contrary, curse it! For if the Lord, even though all authority in heaven and on earth is His, and He has no one to query what He does or does not do, does Himself not want to be an eternally deadly Judge, the less should any man on earth do something according to his ardent will.
84,12. But woe to the people which rises without the utmost necessity against the rich and powerful! These will be bitterly punished for this act; because poverty is of the Lord. He who loves the Lord loves poverty too; the wealth and the well-being, however, are of the world and of Satan! He who seeks that which is of the world, and loves it, has taken Satan into himself from head to toe!
84,13. Therefore, as long as any people can only be partly saturated once a day and still be able to sustain life, so long should it not rise. But when the rich and usurers have taken almost everything, so that thousands of poor people are evidently threatened with starvation, then it is time to rise and share the superfluous goods of the rich among themselves; for then the Lord wants the rich to be chastised to a great extent for their shameful self-love and greed.
84,14. At the end of the treatise on this commandment, perhaps someone might ask whether the interest on borrowed capital is not, to a certain extent, contrary to the seventh commandment. Here I say: If in a state the interest rate is determined by law, then it is also permissible, according to this interest rate, to gather the interests of the rich; but if someone has lent necessary capital to a needy person, he should not charge any interest.
84,15. If this poor man has helped himself with this capital to the extent that he is now bourgeois in his trade, he should be inclined to repay the borrowed capital to his friend. If he wants to pay the legal interest out of gratitude, the lender should not accept it, but he should remind the payer to give it to his poorer brothers according to his ability.
84,16. But no one should lend capital to the poor, but what one gives them, should given them completely. That is the will of the Lord in this regard. He who does this, will love the Lord. Since we have thus touched everything concerning this commandment, we may at once go to the Eighth Hall, in which case we shall learn a commandment which in many respects will be like this seventh.
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