Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Date and Dabitur

I recounted the tale of an online surfing safari. I noted it began with a hunt for an article about usury. That search led, fruitfully, also, to a blog post . . . whose author, I discovered, quotes from Martin Luther by way of explaining the otherwise obscure name of his blog: "Date-Datur."

The following text comes from Martin Luther (The Table Talk of Martin Luther, William Hazlitt, Trans (London: H.G. Bohn, 1857). "Of Justification," CCCXVI--pp. 151-152):
I would not boast, but I well know what I give away in the year. If my gracious lord and master, the prince elector, should give a gentleman two thousand florins, this should hardly answer to the cost of my housekeeping for one year; and yet I have but three hundred florins a year, but God blesses these and makes them suffice.

There is in Austria a monastery, which, in former times, was very rich, and remained rich so long as it was charitable to the poor; but when it ceased to give, then it became indigent, and is so to this day.

Not long since, a poor man went there and solicited alms, which was denied him; he demanded the cause why they refused to give for God's sake? The porter of the monastery answered: We are become poor; whereupon the mendicant said: The cause of your poverty is this: ye had formerly in this monastery two brethren, the one named Date (give), and the other Dabitur (it shall be given you). The former ye thrust out; the other went away of himself.

We are bound to help one's neighbor three manner of ways - with giving, lending, and selling. But no man gives; every one scrapes and claws all to himself; each would willingly steal, but give nothing, and lend but upon usury. No man sells unless he can over-reach his neighbor; therefore is Dabitur gone, and our Lord God will bless us no more so richly. Beloved, he that desires to have anything, must also give: a liberal hand was never in want, or empty.

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