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William Evans.

The Friends' library : comprising journals, doctrinal treatises, and other writings of members of the religious Society of Friends (Volume 1) online

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O how is the greater part of Christendom de-
generated from David's example ! No won-
der that this good man tells us, " truly my
soul waiteth upon God ;" and that he gives it
in charge to his soul so to do ; " O my soul,
wait thou upon God ; for my expectation is
from him." As if he said, none else can pre-
pare my heart, or supply my wants ; so that
my expectation is not from my own voluntary
performances, or the bodily worship I can
give him ; they are of no value : they can
neither help me, nor please him. But I wait
upon him for strength and power to present
myself so before him, as may be most pleas-
ing to him ; for he that prepares the sacrifice,
will certainly accept it. In two verses he re-
peats it thrice, " I wait for the Lord — My soul
doth wait — My soul waiteth for the Lord, more
than they that watch for the morning." Yea,
so intently, and with such unweariedness of



NO CROSS, NO CROWN.

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217



soul, that he says in one place, " Mine eyes
fail, while I wait for my God." He was not
contented with so many prayers, such a set
worship, or a limited repetition. He leaves
not till he finds the Lord and the comforts of
his presence ; which bring the answer of love
and peace to his soul.

Nor was this his practice only, as a man
more than ordinarily inspired ; for he speaks
of it as the way of worship amongst the true
people of God, the spiritual Israel, the circum-
cision in heart, of that day, " Behold as the
eyes of servants look to the hand of their
masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the
hand of her mistress, so our eyes wait upon
the Lord our God, until he have mercy upon
us." In another place, " Our soul waiteth for
the Lord, he is our help and shield. I will
wait upon thy name, for it is good before thy
saints." It was in request with the truly
godly of that day, and the way by which they
came to enjoy God, and worship him accept-
ably. From his own experience of the benefit
of waiting upon God, and the saints' practice
of those times, he recommends it to others :
"-Wait upon the Lord, be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thy heart: wait, I say,
upon the Lord." Wait in faith and patience,
and he will come to save thee. Again, "Rest
in the Lord, and wait patiently upon him :"
cast thyself upon him ; be contented ; and
wait for him to help thee in thy wants : thou
canst not think how near he is to help those
that wait upon him : O try, and have faith !
Yet again, he bids us, " wait upon the Lord,
and keep his way." Behold the reason so
few profit! they are out of his way, and such
can never wait rightly upon him. Great
reason had David for what he said, who had
with so much comfort and advantage met the
Lord in his blessed way.

11. The prophet Isaiah tells us, that though
the chastisements of the Lord were sore upon
the people for their backslidings, yet in the
way of his judgments, in the way of his re-
bukes and displeasure, they waited for him,
and the desire of their soul (that is the great
point) was to his name, and the remembrance
of him. They were contented to be chid and
chastised, for they had sinned ; and the know-
ledge of him in this way, was very desirable
to them. But, did he not come at last, and
that in mercy too 1 Yes, he did, and they
knew him when he came, a doctrine the
brutish world knows not. " Lo, this is our
God, we have waited for him, and he will
save us." O blessed enjoyment ! O precious
confidence. Here was a waiting in faith which
prevailed.

All worship, not in faith, is fruitless to the
worshipper, as well as displeasing to God:

Vol. I.— No. 6.



This faith is the gift of God, and the nature
of it is to purify the heart, and give such as
truly believe " victory over the world." But
they go on : " We have waited for him, we
will be glad, and rejoice in his salvation."
The prophet adds, " Blessed are all they that
wait upon God :" and why 1 " For they that
wait upon the Lord, shall renew their strength ;
they shall never faint, never be weary :" The
encouragement is great. O hear him once
more! "For since the beginning of the world,
men have not heard, nor perceived by the
ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God ! besides
thee, what he hath prepared for him that wait-
eth for him." Behold the inward life and joy
of the righteous, the true worshippers I those
whose spirits bowed to the appearance of
God's spirit in them, leaving and forsaking all
that it appeared against, and embracing what-
ever it led them to.

In Jeremiah's time, the true worshippers
also waited upon God ; and he assures us,
" That the Lord is good to them that wait for
him, to the soul that seeketh him." Hence
it is that the prophet Hosea exhorts the church
to turn and wait upon God : " Therefore turn
thou to thy God ; keep mercy and judgment,
and wait on thy God continually." Micah is
very zealous and resolute in this good exer-
cise : " I will look unto the Lord, I will wait
for the God of my salvation : my God will
hear me." Thus did the children of the spirit,
who thirsted after an inward sense of him.
The wicked cannot'say so; nor they that pray,
unless they wait. It is charged upon Israel
in the wilderness, as the cause of their diso-
bedience and ingratitude to God, that they
" waited not for his counsels." We may be
sure it is our duty, and expected from us ; for
God requires it in Zephaniah : " Therefore
wait upon me, saith the Lord, until the day
that I arise, &c." O that all who profess the
name of God, would so wait, and not offer to
arise to worship without him ! and they would
feel his stirrings and arisings in them, to help,
and prepare, and sanctify them. Christ ex-
pressly charged his disciples, that they should
not stir from Jerusalem, but wait till they had
received the promise of the Father, the bap-
tism of the Holy Ghost, in order to prepare
them for preaching the glorious Gospel of
Christ to the world. And though that was an
extraordinary elfusion for an extraordinary
work, yet the degree does not change the kind.
On the contrary, if so much waiting and prep-
aration by the spirit was requisite to fit them
to preach to man ; some, at least, may be
needful to fit us to speak to God.

12. I will close this great Scripture doctrine
of waiting, Avith that passage in John, about
the pool of Bethesda. " There is at Jerusalem,
28



218



NO CROSS, NO CROWN.



by the sheep-market, a pool, which is called
in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five
porches ; in these lay a great multitude of im-
potent folk, of Wind, halt, and withered,
waiting for the moving of the water. For an
ano-el went down at a certain season into the
pool, and troubled the water : whosoever then
first, after the troubling of the water, stepped
in, was made whole of whatsoever disease he
had." This is a most exact representation of
what is intended by all that has been said upon
the subject of waiting. For as there was then
an outward and legal, so there is now a Gos-
pel and spiritual Jerusalem, the church of God,
consisting of the faithful. The pool in Old
Jerusalem, in some sort, represented that
fountain which is now set open in the New
Jerusalem. That pool was for those who were
under infirmities of body ; this fountain is for
all that are impotent in soul. There was an
angel then that moved the water to render it
beneficial ; it is God's angel now, the great
angel of his presence, that blesseth this foun-
tain with success. They who went in before,
and did not watch the angel, and take advan-
tage of his motion, found no benefit of their
stepping in. Those now who wait not for the
moving of God's angel, but by a devotion of
their own forming and timing, rush before
God, as the horse into the battle, and hope for
success, are sure to miscarry in their expecta-
tions.

Therefore, as then, they that wanted and
desired to be cured, waite'd with all patience
and intentness upon the angel's motion ; so do
the true worshippers of God now, who need
and pray for his presence, which is the life of
their souls, as the sun is to the plants of the
field. They have often tried the unprofitable-
ness of their own work, and are now come to
the sabbath indeed. They dare not put up a
device of their own, or offer an unsanctified
request, much less obtrude bodily worship,
where the soul is really insensible or unpre-
pared by the Lord. In the light of Jesus they
wait to be prepared, retired, and recluse from
all thoughts that cause the least distraction and
discomposure in the mind, till they see the
angel move, and till their beloved please to
awake ; nor dare they call him before his
time. They fear to make a devotion in his
absence ; for they know it is not only unprofit-
able, but reprovable: "Who has required this
at your hands V " He that believes makes
not haste."

They that worship with their own, can only
do as the Israelites, turn their ear-rings into a
molten image, and be cursed for their pains.
Nor fared they better, who gathered sticks of
old, and kindled a fire, and compassed them-
selves about with the sparks that they had



kindled ; for God told them, " they should lie
down in sorrow." It should not only be of
no advantage, and do them no good, but incur
a judgment from him : sorrow and anguish
of soul shall be their portion. Alas ! flesh
and blood would fain pray, though it cannot
wait ; and be a saint, though it cannot abide
to do or sufler the will of God. With the
tongue it blesses God, and with the tongue it
curses men, made in his similitude. It calls
Jesus Lord, but not by the Holy Ghost ; and
often names the name of Jesus, yea, bows the
knee to it too, but departs not from iniquity :
this is abominable to God.

13. There are four things so necessary to
worshipping God aright, and which put its
performance beyond man's power, that there
seems little more needed than the naming of
them. The first is, the sanctification of the
worshipper. Secondly, the consecration of
the offering, which has been spoken to before
somewhat largely. Thirdly, what to pray for ;
which no man knows, that prays not by the
aid of God's spirit ; and, therefore, without
that spirit no man can truly pray. This the
apostle puts beyond dispute ; " We know not,"
says he, " what we should pray for, as we
ought, but the spirit helpeth our infirmities."
Men unacquainted with the work and power
of the Holy Spirit, are ignorant of the mind
of God; and those, certainly, can never please
him with their prayers. It is not enough to
know we are in want ; but we should learn,
whether it be not sent us as a blessing ; dis-
appointments to the proud, losses to the covet-
ous, and to the negligent stripes : to remove
these, were to secure the destruction, not help
the salvation of the soul.

The vile world knows nothing, but carnally,
after a fleshly manner and interpretation; and
too many who would be thought enlightened,
are apt to call providences by wrong names.
For instance, afflictions they style judgments;
and trials, more precious than the beloved
gold, they call miseries. On the other hand,
they call preferments of the world by the name
of honour, and its wealth happiness ; when
for once that they are so, it is much to be
feared they are sent of God an hundred times
for judgments, at least trials, upon their pos-
sessors. Therefore, what to keep, what to
reject, what to want, is a difficulty God only
can resolve the soul. And since God knows,
better than we, what we need, he can better
tell us what to ask, than we can him. This
made Christ exhort his disciples to avoid long
and repetitious prayers; telling them, that
their heavenly Father knew what they needed,
before they asked : He therefore gave them a
pattern to pray by ; not as some fancy, to be
a text to human liturgies, which of all services



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219



are most justly noted and taxed for length and
repetition; but expressly to reprove and avoid
them.

If those wants that are the subject of prayer,
were once agreed upon (though that might be
a weighty point) yet how to pray is still of
greater moment than to pray ; it is not the re-
quest but the frame of the petitioner's spirit.
The what may be proper, but the how defective.
As I said, God needs not be told of our wants
by us ; he must tell them to us ; yet he will
be told them from us, both that we may seek
him, and that he may come down to us. But
when this is done. To this " man will I look,
saith the Lord, even to him that is poor, and
of a contrite spirit, and that trembleth at my
word :" To the sick heart, the wounded soul,
the hungry and thirsty, the weary and heavy
laden ones ; such sincerely want an helper.

14. Nor is this sufficient to complete Gospel
worship ; the fourth requisite must be had, and
that is faith, true faith, precious faith ; the faith
of God's chosen, that purifies their hearts,
overcomes the world, and is the victory of the
saints. This is that which animates prayer
and presses it horhe, like the importunate
widow, who would not be denied. Or she to
whom Christ said, " O woman, great is thy
faith." This is of the highest moment on our
part, to give our addresses success with God.
Yet it is not in our power, for it is the gift of
God : from him we must have it ; and with
one grain of it more work is done, more de-
liverance is wrought, and more goodness and
mercy received, than by all the runnings,
willings, and toilings of man, with his inven-
tions and bodily exercises. This duly weighed,
will easily show why so much worship brings
so little profit to the world, as we see it does,
viz. True faith is lost. They ask, and receive
not; they seek, and find not; they knock, and
it is not opened unto them. The case is plain :
their requests are not mixed with purifying
faith^ by which they should prevail, as good
Jacob when he wrestled with God and pre-
vailed. The truth is, the generality are yet
in their sins, following their hearts lusts, and
living in worldly pleasures, being strangers
to this precious faith. The reason rendered
by the deep author of the epistle to the He-
brews, of the unprofitableness of the word
preached to some of those days, is, its " not
being mixed with faith in them that heard it."
Can the minister then preach without faith ?
No: and much less can any man pray to pur-
pose without faith, especially when we are
told, " That the }ust live by faith." For wor-
ship is the supreme act of man's life ; and
whatever is necessary to inferior acts of reli-
gion, must not be wanting there.

15. This may moderate the wonder in any



why Christ so often upbraided his disciples
with, " O ye of little faiih !" Yet he tells us
that one grain of it, though as little as that of
mustard, one of the least of seeds, if true and
right, is able to remove mountains. As if he
had said, there is no temptation so powerful
that it cannot supply : Therefore those who
are captivated by temptations, and remain un-
supplied in their spiritual wants, have not this
powerful faith : that is the true cause. So
necessary was it of old, that Christ did not
many mighty works where the people believed
not ; and though his power wrought wonders
in other places, faith opened the way : so that
it is hard to say, whether that power by faith,
or faith by that power, wrought the cure. Let
us call to mind what famous things a little
clay and spittle, one touch of the hem of
Christ's garment, and a few words out of his
mouth did, by the force of faith in the patients.
" Believe ye that I am able to open your eyes?"
Yea, Lord, said the bhnd, and they saw. To
the ruler, " only believe ;" he did, and his dead
daughter recovered life. Again, If " thou
canst believe :" I do believe, says the father,
help my unbelief; and the evil spirit was
chased away, and the child recovered. He
said to one " Go, thy faith has made thee
whole;" and to another, "Thy faith has saved
thee ; thy sins are forgiven thee." And to
encourage his disciples to believe, when they
were admiring how soon his sentence was
executed upon the fruitless fig-tree, he tells
them, " Verily, if ye have faith, and doubt
not, ye shall not only do this, which is done
to the fig-tree ; but also, if ye shall say unto
this mountain, be thou removed and cast into
the sea, it shall be done; and all things what-
soever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye
shall receive." This one passage convicts
Christendom of gross infidelity ; for she prays,
and receives not.

16. But some may say, it is impossible to
receive all that a man may ask. It is not im-
possible to receive all that a man, that so be-
lieves, can ask. The fruits of faith are not
impossible to those who truly believe in God,
who makes them possible. When Jesus said
to the ruler, " If thou canst believe," he adds,
"all things are possible to him that believeth."
But some will say, it is impossible to have such
faith. This very faithless generation would
excuse their want of faith by making it im-
possible to have the faith they want. But
Christ's answer to the infidelity of that age,
will best confute the disbelief of this. " The
things that are impossible with men, are pos-
sible with God." It will follow then, that it
is not impossible with God to give that faith ;
though, it is certain, that "without it, it is im-
possible to please God ;" for so the author to



220



NO CROSS, NO CROWN.



the Hebrews teaches. And if it be impossible
to please God, it must be so to pray to God,
without this precious faith.

17. But some may say, What is this faith,
that is so necessary to worship, and that gives
it such acceptance with God, and returns that
benefit to men? I say, it is an holy resignation
to God, and confidence in him, testified by a
religious obedience to his holy requirings,
which gives sure evidence to the soul of the
things not yet seen, and a general sense and
taste of the substance of those things that are
hoped for ; that is, the glory which is to be
revealed hereafi;er. As this faith is the gift of
God, so it purifies the hearts of those that re-
ceive it. The apostle Paul is witness, that it
will not dwell, but in a pure conscience : He
therefore in one place, couples a pure heart
and faith unfeigned together: in another, faith
and a good conscience. James joins faith
with righteousness, and John with victory
over the world : " This," says he, " is the
victory which overcomes the world, even your
faith."

18. The heirs of this faith are the true
children of Abraham, though the uncircum-
cision in the flesh, for they walk in the steps
of Abraham, according to the obedience of
faith, which only entitles people to be the
children of Abraham. This lives above the
world, not only in its sin, but righteousness ;
to which no man comes, but through death to
self, by the cross of Jesus, and an entii'e de-
pendence, by him, upon God.

Famous are the exploits of this divine gift :
time would fail to recount them : all sacred
story is filled with them. But let it suffice,
that by it the holy ancients endured all trials,
overcame all enemies, prevailed with God, re-
nowned his truth, finished their testimony, and
obtained the reward of the faithful, a crown
of righteousness, which is the eternal blessed-
ness of the just.



CHAPTER VII.

1. Of pride, the first capital lust, its rise. 2. Its
definition and distinction. 3. That an inordi-
nate desire of knowledge in Adam, introduced
man's misery. 4. He thereby lost his integrity.
5. Who are in Adam's state. 6. Knowledge
puffs up. 7. The evil effects of false, and the
benefit of true knowledge. 8. Cain's example
a proof in the case. 9. The Jews pride in pre-
tending to be wiser than Moses, God's servant,
in setting their post by God's post. 10. The
effect of which was the persecution of the true
prophets. 11. The divine knowledge of Christ
brought peace on earth. 12. Of the blind guides
the priests, and the mischief they have done.



13. The fall of Christians, and the pride they
have taken in it, hath exceeded the Jews:
under the profession of their new-moulded Chris-
tianity, they have murdered the witness of the
Lord Jesus. 14. The angels sung peace on
earth, at the birth of the Lord of meekness and
humility : but the pride of the Pharisees with-
stood and calumniated him. 15. As Adam and
the Jews lost themselves by their ambition, so
the Christians, losing the fear of God, grew
creed and worship-makers, with this injunction,
conform or burn. 16. The evil effects of this
in Christendom (so called.) 17. The way of
recovery out of such miserable defection.

1. Having thus discharged my conscience
against that part of unlawful self, that would
be a Christian, a believer, a saint, whilst a
plain stranger to the cross of Christ, and the
holy exercises of it ; and briefly discovered
what is true worship, and the use and business
of the holy cross therein, to render its per-
formance pleasing to Almighty God ; I shall
now, the same Lord assisting me, more largely
prosecute that other part of unlawful self, which
fills the study, care, and conversation of the
world, presented to us in these three capital
lusts ; that is to say ;

Pride, avarice, and luxury ; from whence
all other mischiefs daily flow, as streams from
their proper fountains. The mortifying of
these makes up the other, and indeed a very
great part of the work of the true cross ; and
though last in place, yet it is first in experi-
ence and duty. It introduces in the room of
those evil habits, the blessed effects of that
so-much-needed reformation, to wit, " mortifi-
cation, humility, temperance, love, patience,
and heavenly-mindedness," with all other
graces of the spirit, becoming the followers of
the perfect Jesus, that most heavenly Man.

The care and love of all mankind are either
directed to God or themselves. Those that
love God above all, are ever humbling self to
his commands, and only love self in subservi-
ency to him who is Lord of all. But those
who are declined from that love to God, are
lovers of themselves, more than God : for su-
preme love must centre in one of these two.
To that inordinate self-love, the apostle rightly
joins pride and high-mindedness. For no
sooner had the angels declined their love,
duty, and reverence to God, than they inordi-
nately loved and valued themselves ; which
made them exceed their station, and aspire
above the order of their creation. This was
their pride, and this sad defection their dismal
fall ; who are reserved in chains of darkness
unto the judgment of the great day of God.

2. Pride, that pernicious evil, began the



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221



misery of mankind : a most mischievous quali-
ty ; and so commonly known by its motions
and sad efTects, that every unmortified bi-east
carries its definition in it. Pride is an excess
of self-love, joined with an undervaluing of
others, and a desire of dominion over them :
the most troublesome thing in the world.
There are four things by which it hath made
itself best known to mankind, the consequences
of which have brought an equal misery to its
evil. The first is, an inordinate pursuit of
knowledge. The second, an ambitious seek-
ing and craving after power. The third, an
extreme desire of personal respect and defe-
rence. The last excess is that of worldly
furniture and ornaments. To the just and
true witness of the eternal God, placed in the
souls of all people, I appeal as to the truth of
these things.

3. To the first, it is plain that an inordinate
desire of knowledge introduced man's misery,
and brought an universal lapse from the glory
of his primitive state. Adam would needs be
wiser than God had made him. It did not
serve his turn to know his Creator, and give
him that holy homage to which his being and
innocency naturally engaged and excited him ;
nor to have an " understanding above all the
beasts of the field, the fowls of the air, and
the fishes of the sea;" joined with a power to
rule over all the visible creation of God. He
must be as wise as God too. This unwarrant-
able search, and as foolish as unjust ambition,
made him unworthy of the blessings he re-
ceived from God. This drove him out of para-
dise ; and instead of being lord of the whole
world, Adam became the most wretched vaga-
bond of the earth.

4. A sad change ! that instead of being as
gods, they should fall below the very beasts;
in comparison of whom even God had made
them as gods. The lamentable consequence
of this great defection has been, an exchange
of innocency for guilt, and a paradise for a
wilderness. But which is yet worse, in this state



Online LibraryWilliam EvansThe Friends' library : comprising journals, doctrinal treatises, and other writings of members of the religious Society of Friends (Volume 1) → online text (page 48 of 105)