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Calvin on Economic Issues

     "Those who employ usefully whatever God has committed to them are said to be engaged in trading. The life of the godly is justly compared to trading ... the industry with which every man discharges the office assigned him, the calling itself, the power of acting properly" (John Calvin, Opera, 5, 469, quoted in The Constructive Revolutionary by W. Fred Graham, 1971

     "It is not enough when one can say, 'Oh, I work, I have my trade, I set the pace.' This is not enough; for one must be concerned whether it is good and profitable to the community and if it is able to serve our neighbors. (Opera, 51, 639 in Graham, p. 80)

     "God prohibits taking as security all that is necessary to the poor to gain their livelihood and to maintain themselves. ... The one, then, who takes as security that which sustains the life of a poor man is cruel. It is as if he grabbed the bread from a starving man, and his life itself which is, as it were, cut off in denying the means of maintaining himself." (Opera, 24, 677 in Graham, p. 82)

     "When a robber kills a man and sucks, so to speak, his blood, afterwards sends him away naked and needy; this is more atrocious than if he violently killed a stranger." (Opera, 38, 383 in Graham, p. 84)

     "When a man has someone in his service, he ought to ask himself: 'If I were in his place, how would I want to be treated? I would want to be supported.' When it is a question of our profit or loss, we are very able judges; but when it is a question of others', we are blind." (Opera, 27, 347 in Graham, p. 85) "If the poor demand vengeance from God against you; who will be your lawyer, or your advocate, so that you will be able to escape?" (Opera, 28, 11 in Graham, p. 86)

     "See how often the rich are on the watch for occasions so that they can subtract half the wages of the poor, when the latter do not know at what to be employed." (Opera, 28, 189 in Graham, p. 86)

     "There will be those who would rather that the wheat spoil in the granary so that it will be eaten by vermin, so that it can be sold when there is want (for they only wish to starve the poor people). ... The speculator will gather it in granaries and lock it up securely, till finally the cry of famine is heard and that's no longer possible." (Sermon - Dt 15:11-15 in Graham, p. 56)

     "Let those, then, that have riches, whether they have been left by inheritance, or procured by industry and efforts, consider that their abundance was not intended to be laid out in intemperance or excess, but in relieving the necessities of the brethren!" (Opera, 46, 406 in Graham, p. 68)

     "Jesus only intended to show that we must not be satisfied with bestowing on the poor what we can easily spare, but that we must not refuse to part with our estates, if their revenue does not supply the wants of the poor. As if he said, 'Let your liberality go so far as to lessen your patrimony, and dispose of your lands.'" (Sermon - Dt 15:11-15 45, 205 in Graham, p. 69)

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