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for men thereby be deceived, which would give no money at all for such merchandise, if they were taught and warned of their abuses.
Likewise, lawyers, advocates, serjeants, attornies, and proctors, are thieves before God, when they for their own gains do counsel a man to wage the law, making him to believe that bis matter is good, when indeed they think it naught. Or, when for money they will so craftily handle or plead a matter, that they with their shifts and colours will purposely hide the truth, and make a good cause to seem bad, and a bad cause to ap: pear good: wherewith they shall so deceive the judge, that they will cause bim unjustly to give sentence on their side. And the judge himself is a thief before God, when he for bribes, or any corruption, doth wittingly and willingly give wrong judgment: for he taketh from the party that hath the good cause his just title and interest, and giveth it to the other party that hath no right to it at all. And this is also no small theft, when men craftily defraud the true heirs of their inheritance, or forge false testaments, and will not bring to light the true will, but hide and suppress it.
Furthermore, merchantmen, brokers, cbapmen, merchants, factors, are thieves when they require unreasonable gains in selling of their merchandise, or wben they utter corrupt and naughty ware for good, when they deceive their neighbours with false weight and measure, when with forged letters and feigned news they persuade others to be
basty to sell that kind of ware good cheap, which they know will be dear shortly after; or else, by such-like craft, entice men to buy of them great plenty of that kind of merchandise, of the which they know that the price will shortly after decay, or when, with their lies and perjuries, they cause a man to give more money for any stuff than he would have done, if that he had known that they had lied. Also, when the rich merchantmen and usurers have the heads of the poor handicraftsmen so bound under their girdles, that the poor men of necessity are compelled to bring their ware to them; and when the handicraftsmen do come to them and offer their stuff, then they feign that they have no need of such wares at that time, and by such means compel them to sell their wares better cheap than they may be able to afford them, not regarding what great loss their poor neighbour doth suffer thereby. Also, when by forestalling, regrating, agreements in halls to raise the price of things, engrossing of merchandise, when one man or one company getteth all in their own hands, that no man may have gain but they only, when by these or such-like deceits they compel the poor to buy at their own price such wares as they must needs occupy, then they be arrant thieves before God: for by such frauds they beguile their poor neighbours, and poolle them of their money against their wills. The handicraftsmen and daily labourers are also thieves, when they do not apply their work diligently and faithfully, but sell counterfeited and
slightly wrought wares for substantial stuff, or re. quire more for their labour and pains than they have deserved.
Likewise, it is of husbandmen in the country, to whom lords and gentlemen let their land to farm, to the intent that they should plough and till it, that thereby the commonwealth may have plenty of corn, and dearth may be avoided ; then, if they be negligent or slothful in ploughing the ground, or sell their corn, cattle, or other victual, at unreasonable prices, to enrich themselves thereby, they be very thieves before God. For kings, lords, and gentlemen, do not give to their farmers the propriety or inheritance of their lands, but only for certain rents and services do let their ground out by lease, for this intent and purpose, that the farmers should till the same. And the farmer or husbandman to whom such lease is made, is nothing else but a servant appointed by the lord so to occupy his ground, that thereby the common people may be fed and nourished. Now, therefore, if he do not diligently plough and sow the ground as he is appointed, or else if he set so excessive a price upon his corn, that the multitude (wbom his duty is to feed) is not able to buy it, then he is guilty of theft before God. For if farmers and husbandmen were so owners of their farms and lands, that they might choose whether they would plough them or no, then they should neither be able to pay their rent due unto their - landlords, and the common people should perchance die for hunger.
Likewise, this Commandment is to be understood of household servants, whether they be men or women, 'prentices, journeymen, or hired labourers. For all these receive wages for this intent, that they should labour and work for their master's profit, and help their masters in true getting and faithful keeping of their goods, to the maintenance of their household. But when such servants be untrusty, negligent, or slothful in doing their duty, when they wastefully spend or consume their master's goods, when they require greater wages than they be worthy to have, when they start or run from their masters, or tarry not so long as they were bound by their covenant: then they break this Commandment, “ Thou shalt not steal;" forasmuch as they withdraw from their masters that profit which of duty they owe unto them, and do as much as lieth in them to impoverish and undo their masters..
And to be short, they, that pay not to their servants or workmen their wages in due time, according to their covenant; they which will not, at the day appointed, restore that money which they have borroweds they which can and will not pay their debts for their own lucre; they that do not render things which they have found as far as they can come to knowledge of the true owners; they that do not give again such things as be committed to their custody for a time; and generally all they that do hawk and hunt for other men's goods against the will of the owners, or do hurt them in any part of the same, or else if they seek not their
neighbour's profit as they ought to do; all these (I say) are thieves before God, although the world doth not so judge them, por punish them for the same. Hereby you may perceive, good children, how great misery reigneth in this wretched world, and that men swim, as it were, in a flood of sin. For the world is full of privy thieves; and there is almost no state or kind of life, from the highest to the lowest, of the which there be not many, that have broken this Commandment. And yet we count it a villany to be called a thief, and not without good cause: for thieves be punished with most sbameful death, hanging on the gallows or gibbet; and although they escape hanging in this world, yet many times God punisheth them, so that they live wretchedly all their life-time; for commonly evil-gotten goods are ill spent, and the third heir doth scarcely enjoy them............
Wherefore, good children, when you shall be demanded, “How understand you the Seventh Commandment ?" you shall answer, We ought to fear and love our Lord God above all things, and for his sake willingly to abstain from our neighbour's goods and cattle, to take nothing from him, but to help bim in his need, and to defend and augment his riches and commodities.