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   Chapter 9 [BADMAN'S FRAUDULENT DEALINGS TO GET MONEY.]

The Works of John Bunyan Volume 3 By John Bunyan Characters: 20890

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


ATTEN. But pray, do it with as much brevity as you can.

WISE. Why, are you weary of my relating of things?

ATTEN. No: but it pleases me to hear a great deal in few words.

WISE. I profess myself not an artist that way, but yet, as briefly as I can, I will pass through what of his life is behind; and again I shall begin with his fraudulent dealing, as before I have showed with his creditors, so now with his customers, and those that he had otherwise to deal withal.

He dealt by deceitful weights and measures. He kept weights to buy by, and weights to sell by; measures to buy by, and measures to sell by: those he bought by were too big, those he sold by were too little.

Besides, he could use a thing called slight of hand, if he had to do with other men's weights and measures, and by that means make them whether he did buy or sell, yea though his customer or chapman looked on, turn to his own advantage.

Moreover, he had the art to misreckon men in their accounts, whether by weight, or measure, or money, and would often do it to his worldly advantage, and their loss. What say you to Mr. Badman now? And if a question was made of his faithful dealing, he had his servants ready, that to his purpose he had brought up, that would avouch and swear to his book or word. This was Mr. Badman's practice. What think you of Mr. Badman now?

ATTEN. Think! Why I can think no other but that he was a man left to himself, a naughty man; for these, as his other, were naughty things; if the tree, as indeed it may, ought to be judged, what it is, by its fruits, then Mr. Badman must needs be a bad tree. But pray, for my further satisfaction, show me now, by the Word of God, the evil of this his practice; and first of his using false weights and measures.

WISE. The evil of that! Why the evil of that appears to every eye. The heathens, that live like beasts and brutes in many things, do abominate and abhor such wickedness as this. Let a man but look upon these things as he goes by, and he shall see enough in them from the light of nature to make him loathe so base a practice, although Mr. Badman loved it.

ATTEN. But show me something out of the Word against it, will you?

WISE. I will willingly do it. And first, look into the Old Testament: 'Ye shall,' saith God there, 'do no unrighteousness in judgment, in mete-yard, in weight, or in measure; just balances, just weights, a just ephah and a just hin shall you have' (Lev 19:35,36). This is the law of God, and that which all men, according to the law of the land, ought to obey. So again: 'Ye shall have just balances, and a just ephah,' &c. (Eze 45:10).

Now having showed you the law, I will also show you how God takes swerving therefrom. 'A false balance is not good' (Prov 20:23). 'A false balance is abomination to the Lord' (Prov 11:1). Some have just weights, but false balances; and by virtue of these false balances, by their just weights, they deceive the country. Wherefore God first of all commands that the balance be made just. A just balance shalt thou have; else they may be, yea are, deceivers, notwithstanding their just weights.

Now, having commanded that men have a just balance, and testifying that a false one is an abomination to the Lord, he proceedeth also unto weight and measure. Thou shalt not have in thy bag divers weights, a great and a small; that is, one to buy by, and another to sell by, as Mr. Badman had. 'Thou shalt not have in thine house divers measures, a great and a small. (And these had Mr. Badman also.) But thou shalt have a perfect and just weight; a perfect and just measure shalt thou have, that thy days may be lengthened in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. For all that do such things [that is, that use false weights and measures], and all that do unrighteously, are an abomination unto the Lord' (Deut 25:13-16). See now both how plentiful, and how punctual the Scripture is in this matter. But perhaps it may be objected, that all this is old law, and therefore hath nothing to do with us under the New Testament. Not that I think you, neighbour, will object thus. Well, to this foolish objection, let us make an answer. First, he that makes this objection, if he doth it to overthrow the authority of those texts, discovereth that himself is first cousin to Mr. Badman. For a just man is willing to speak reverently of those commands. That man therefore hath, I doubt, but little conscience, if any at all that is good, that thus objecteth against the text. But let us look into the New Testament, and there we shall see how Christ confirmeth the same; where he commandeth that men make to others good measure, including also that they make good weight; telling such that do thus, or those that do it not, that they may be encouraged to do it: 'Good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal, it shall be measured to you again' (Luke 6:38). To wit, both from God and man. For as God will show his indignation against the false man, by taking away even that he hath, so he will deliver up the false man to the oppressor, and the extortioner shall catch from him, as well as he hath catched from his neighbour; therefore, another scripture saith, 'When thou shalt make an end to deal treacherously, they shall deal treacherously with thee' (Isa 33:1). That the New Testament also hath an inspection into men's trading, yea, even with their weights and measures, is evident from these general exhortations, 'Defraud not'; 'lie not one to another.' 'Let no man go beyond his brother in any matter, for the Lord is the avenger of all such.' 'Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord,' 'doing all in his name,' 'to his glory'; and the like. All these injunctions and commandments do respect our life and conversation among men, with reference to our dealing, trading, and so, consequently, they forbid false, deceitful, yea, all doings that are corrupt.

Having thus in a word or two showed you that these things are bad, I will next, for the conviction of those that use them, show you where God saith they are to be found.

1. They are not to be found in the house of the good and godly man, for he, as his God, abhors them; but they are to be found in the house of evil doers, such as Mr. Badman's is. 'Are there,' saith the prophet, 'yet the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked, and the scant measure that is abominable!' (Micah 6:10). Are they there yet, notwithstanding God's forbidding, notwithstanding God's tokens of anger against those that do such things! O how loth is a wicked man to let go a sweet, a gainful sin, when he hath hold of it! They hold fast deceit, they refuse to let it go.

2. These deceitful weights and measures are not to be found in the house of the merciful, but in the house of the cruel; in the house of them that love to oppress. 'The balances of deceit are in his hand; he loveth to oppress' (Hosea 12:7). He is given to oppression and cruelty, therefore he useth such wicked things in his calling. Yea, he is a very cheat, and, as was hinted before concerning Mr. Badman's breaking, so I say now, concerning his using these deceitful weights and measures, it is as bad, as base, as to take a purse,[49] or pick a pocket; for it is a plain robbery; it takes away from a man that which is his own, even the price of his money.

3. The deceitful weights and measures are not to be found in the house of such as relieve the belly, and that cover the loins of the poor, but of such as indeed would swallow them up. 'Hear this, O ye that swallow up the needy, even to make the poor of the land to fail, saying, When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and the Sabbath, that we may set forth wheat, making the ephah small, and the shekel great [making the measure small, and the price great], and falsifying the balances by deceit? That ye may buy the poor for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes, and sell the refuse of the wheat. The Lord hath sworn by the excellency of Jacob, Surely I will never forget any of their works' (Amos 8:4-8). So detestable and vile a things is this in the sight of God.

4. God abominates the thoughts of calling of those that use false weights and measures, by any other term than that they be impure ones, or the like: 'Shall I count them pure,' saith he, 'with the bag of deceitful weights?' (Micah 6:11). No, by no means, they are impure ones; their hands are defiled, deceitful gain is in their houses, they have gotten what they have by coveting an evil covetousness, and therefore must and shall be counted among the impure, among the wicked of the world.

Thus you see how full and plain the Word of God is against this sin, and them that use it. And therefore Mr. Badman, for that he used by these things thus to rook and cheat his neighbours, is rightly rejected from having his name in and among the catalogue of the godly.

ATTEN. But I am persuaded that the using of these things, and the doing by them thus deceitfully, is not counted so great an evil by some.

WISE. Whether it be counted an evil or a virtue by men, it mattereth not; you see by the Scriptures the judgment of God upon it. It was not counted an evil by Mr. Badman, nor is it by any that still are treading in his steps. But, I say, it is no matter how men esteem of things, let us adhere to the judgment of God. And the rather, because when we ourselves have done weighing and measuring to others, then God will weigh and measure both us and our actions. And when he doth so, as he will do shortly, then woe be to him to whom, and of whose actions it shall be thus said by him, 'TEKEL, thou art weighed in the balances, and are found wanting' (Dan 5:27). God will then recompense their evil of deceiving upon their own head, when he shall shut them out of his presence, favour, and kingdom, for ever and ever.

ATTEN. But it is a wonder, that since Mr. Badman's common practice was to do thus, that some one or more did not find him out, and blame him for this his wickedness.

WISE. For the generality of people he went away clever with his knavery. For what with his balance, his false balance, and good weight, and what with his slight of hand to boot, he beguiled sometimes a little, and sometimes more, most that he had to deal with; besides, those that use this naughty trad

e are either such as blind men with a show of religion, or by hectoring the buyer out by words. I must confess Mr. Badman was not so arch at the first; that is, to do it by show of religion; for now he began to grow threadbare, though some of his brethren are arch enough this way, yea, and of his sisters too, for I told you at first that there were a great many of them, and never a one of them good; but for hectoring, for swearing, for lying, if these things would make weight and measure, they should not be wanting to Mr. Badman's customers.

ATTEN. Then it seems he kept good weights and a bad balance; well that was better than that both should be bad.

WISE. Not at all. There lay the depth of his deceit; for if any at any time found fault that he used them hardly, and that they wanted their weight of things, he would reply, Why, did you not see them weighted? will you not believe your own eyes? if you question my weights, pray carry them whither you will, I will maintain them to be good and just. The same he would say of his scales, so he blinded all by his balance.

ATTEN. This is cunning indeed; but as you say, there must be also something done or said to blind therewith, and this I perceive Mr. Badman had.

WISE. Yes, he had many ways to blind, but he was never clear at it by making a show of religion, though he cheated his wife therewith; for he was, especially by those that dwelt near him, too well known to do that, though he would bungle at it as well as he could. But there are some that are arch villains this way; they shall to view live a whole life religiously, and yet shall be guilty of these most horrible sins. And yet religion in itself is never the worse, nor yet the true professors of it. But, as Luther says, in the name of God begins all mischief.[50] For hypocrites have no other way to bring their evils to maturity but by using and mixing the name of God and religion therewith. Thus they become whited walls; for by this white, the white of religion, the dirt of their actions is hid. Thus also they become graves that appear not, and they that go over them, that have to do with them, are not aware of them, but suffer themselves to be deluded by them. Yea, if there shall, as there will sometimes, rise a doubt in the heart of the buyer about the weight and measure he should have, why, he suffereth his very senses to be also deluded, by recalling of his chapman's religion to mind, and thinks verily that not his good chapman but himself is out; for he dreams not that his chapman can deceive. But if the buyer shall find it out, and shall make it apparent, that he is beguiled, then shall he be healed by having amends made, and perhaps fault shall be laid upon servants, &c. And so Mr. Cheat shall stand for a right honest man in the eye of his customer, though the next time he shall pick his pocket again.

Some plead custom for their cheat, as if that could acquit them before the tribunal of God. And others say it came to them for so much, and, therefore, another must take it for so much, though there is wanting both as to weight and measure; but in all these things there are juggles; or if not, such must know that 'that which is altogether just,' they must do (Deut 16:20). Suppose that I be cheated myself with a brass half-crown, must I therefore cheat another therewith? if this be bad in the whole, it is also bad in the parts. Therefore, however thou art dealt withal in thy buying, yet thou must deal justly in selling, or thou sinnest against thy soul, and art become as Mr. Badman. And know, that a pretence to custom is nothing worth. It is not custom, but good conscience that will help at God's tribunal.

ATTEN. But I am persuaded that that which is gotten by men this way doth them but little good.

WISE. I am of your mind for that, but this is not considered by those thus minded. For if they can get it, though they get, as we say, the devil and all, by their getting, yet they are content, and count that their getting is much.[51]

Little good! why do you think they consider that? No; no more than they consider what they shall do in the judgment, at the day of God Almighty, for their wrong getting of what they get, and that is just nothing at all.

But to give you a more direct answer. This kind of getting is so far off from doing them little good, that it doth them no good at all; because thereby they lose their own souls; 'What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?' (Mark 8:36). He loseth then, he loseth greatly that getteth after this fashion. This is the man that is penny-wise and pound-foolish; this is he that loseth his good sheep for a half-penny-worth of tar;[52] that loseth a soul for a little of the world. And then what doth he get thereby but loss and damage? Thus he getteth or rather loseth about the world to come. But what doth he get in this world, more than travail and sorrow, vexation of spirit, and disappointment? Men aim at blessedness in getting, I mean, at temporal blessedness; but the man that thus getteth, shall not have that. For though an inheritance after this manner may be hastily gotten at the beginning, yet the end thereof shall not be blessed. They gather it indeed, and think to keep it too, but what says Solomon? God casteth it away. 'The Lord will not suffer the soul of the righteous to famish; but he casteth away the substance of the wicked' (Prov 10:3; Jer 15:13, 17:3).

The time, as I said, that they do enjoy it, it shall do them no good at all; but long, to be sure, they must not have it. For God will either take it away in their lifetime, or else in the generation following, according to that of Job: 'He,' the wicked, 'may prepare it, but the just shall put it on, and the innocent shall divide the silver' (Job 27:17).

Consider that also that it is written in the Proverbs; 'A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children's children, and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just' (Prov 13:22). What then doth he get thereby, that getteth by dishonest means? Why he getteth sin and wrath, hell and damnation, and now tell me how much he doth get.

This, I say, is his getting; so that as David says, we may be bold to say too; I beheld the wicked in great prosperity, and presently I cursed his habitation; for it cannot prosper with him (Psa 73). Fluster and huff, and make ado for a while he may, but God hath determined that both he and it shall melt like grease, and any observing man may see it so. Behold the unrighteous man, in a way of injustice, getteth much, and loadeth himself with thick clay, but anon it withereth, it decayeth and even he, or the generation following decline, and return to beggary. And this Mr. Badman, notwithstanding his cunning and crafty tricks to get money, did die, nobody can tell whether worth a farthing or no.

ATTEN. He had all the bad tricks, I think, that it was possible for a man to have, to get money; one would think that he should have been rich.

WISE. You reckon too fast, if you count these all his bad tricks to get money; for he had more besides. If his customers were in his books, as it should go hard but he would have them there; at least, if he thought he could make any advantage of them, then, then would he be sure to impose upon them his worst, even very bad commodity, yet set down for it the price that the best was sold at; like those that sold the refuse wheat; or the worst of the wheat; making the shekel great, yet hoisting up the price (Amos 8). This was Mr. Badman's way. He would sell goods that cost him not the best price by far, for as much as he sold his best of all for. He had also a trick to mingle his commodity, that that which was bad might go off with the least mistrust. Besides, if his customers at any time paid him money, let them look to themselves, and to their acquaintances, for he would usually attempt to call for that payment again, especially if he thought that there were hopes of making a prize thereby, and then to be sure if they could not produce good and sufficient ground of the payment, a hundred to one but they paid it again. Sometimes the honest chapman would appeal to his servants for proof of the payment of money, but they were trained up by him to say after his mind, wright or wrong; so that, relief that way, he could get none.

ATTEN. It is a bad, yea, an abominable thing for a man to have such servants. For by such means a poor customer may be undone, and not know how to help himself. Alas! if the master be so unconscionable, as I perceive Mr. Badman was, to call for his money twice, and if his servant will swear that it is a due debt, where is any help for such a man? He must sink, there is no remedy.

WISE. This is very bad, but this has been a practice, and that hundreds of years ago. But what saith the Word of God? 'I will punish all those that leap on the threshold, which till their masters' houses with violence and deceit' (Zeph 1:9).

Mr. Badman also had this art; could he get a man at advantage, that is, if his chapman durst not go from him, or if the commodity he wanted could not for the present be conveniently had elsewhere, then let him look to himself, he would surely make his purse-strings crack; he would exact upon him without any pity or conscience.

ATTEN. That was extortion, was it not? I pray let me hear your judgment of extortion, what it is, and when committed?

WISE. Extortion is a screwing from men more than by the law of God or men is right; and it is committed sometimes by them in office, about fees, rewards, and the like:[53] but it is most commonly committed by men of trade, who without all conscience, when they have the advantage, will make a prey of their neighbour. And thus was Mr. Badman an extortioner; for although he did not exact, and force away, as bailiffs and clerks have used to do, yet he had his opportunities, and such cruelty to make use of them, that he would often, in his way, be extorting and forcing of money out of his neighbour's pocket. For every man that makes a prey of his advantage upon his neighbour's necessities, to force from him more than in reason and conscience, according to the present prices of things such commodity is worth, may very well be called an extortioner, and judged for one that hath no inheritance in the kingdom of God (1 Cor 6:9,10).

ATTEN. Well, this Badman was a sad wretch.

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