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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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understand it not : but they can give the hat
and knee; and this they are very liberal of;
nor are any more expert at it. This is to us
a proof, that no true honour can be testified
by those customs, which vanity and looseness
love and use.

24. Next to them, I will add hypocrisy and
revenge too. For how little do many care for
each other? Nay, what spite, envy, animosity,
secret back-biting, and plotting one against
another, under the use of these idle respects ;
till passion, too strong for cunning, breaks
through hypocrisy into open aftront and re-
venge. It cannot be so with the Scripture-
honour : to obey, or prefer a man, out of spite,
is not usually done ; and to love, help, serve
and countenance a person, in order to deceive
and be revenged of him, is a thing never heard
of: these admit of no hypocrisy nor revenge.
Men do not those things to palliate ill-will,
which are the testimonies of quite the contrary.
It is absurd to imagine it, because impossible
to be done.

25. Our sixth reason is, that honour wast
from the beginning, but hat-respects and most
titles are of late : therefore there was true
honour before hats or titles ; and consequently
true honour stands not in them. And that
which ever was the way to express true hon-
our, is the best way still ; and this the
Scripture teaches better than dancing-masters
can do.

26. If honour consists in such like ceremo-
nies, then will it follow, that those are most
capable of showing honour, who perform it
most exactly, according to the mode or fashion
of the times ; consequently, that man hath
not the measure of true honour, from a just
and reasonable principle in himself, but by the
means and skill of the fantastic dancing-
masters of the times : and for this cause it is,
we see, that many give much money to have
their children taught honours, falsely so called.
And what doth this but totally exclude the
poor country people ; who, though they plough,
sow, till, reap, go to market, and in all things
obey their justices, landlords, fathers and mas-
ters, with sincerity and sobriety, rarely use
those ceremonies. And if they do, it is so
awkwardly and meanly done, that they are
esteemed by a court-critic so ill-favoured, as
only fit to make a jest of and be laughed at :
but what sober man will not deem their obe-
dience beyond the other's vanity and hypoc-
risy ? This base notion of honour turns out of
doors the true honour, and sets the false in its
place. Let it be farther considered, that the
way or fashion of doing it, is much more in
the design of its performers, as well as view
of its spectators, than the respect itself.



NO CROSS, NO CROWN.



231



Whence it is commonly said, he is a man of
good mien ; or, she is a woman of exact be-
haviour. And what is this behaviour, but
fantastic, cramped postures, and cringings,
unnatural to their shape, and, if it were not
fashionable, ridiculous to the view of all peo-
ple ; and is therefore to the Eastern countries
a proverb.

27. Real honour consists not in a hat, bow,
or title, because all these things may be had
for money. For which reason, how many
dancing-schools, plays, &c. are there in the
land, to which 5^outh are generally sent to be
educated in these vain fashions 1 whilst they
are ignorant of the honour that is of God,
and their minds are allured to visible things
that perish ; and instead of remembering their
Creator, are taken up with toys and fopperies;
and sometimes so much worse, as to cost
themselves a disinheriting, and their indiscreet
parents grief and misery all their days. If
parents would honour God in the help of his
poor, with the substance they bestow on such
an education, they would find a better account
in the end.

28. Lastly, we cannot esteem bows, titles,
and pulling off of hats, to be real honour, be-
cause such like customs have been prohibited
by God, his Son and servants in days past.
This I shall endeavour to show by three or
four express authorities.

29. My first example and authority, is taken
from the story of Mordecai and Haman; so
close to this point, that methinks it should at
least command silence to the objections fi'e-
quently advanced against us. Haman was
first minister of state, and favourite to king
Ahasuerus. Tlie text says, " That the king
set his seat above all the princes that were
with him ; and all the king's servants bowed
and reverenced Haman, for the king had so
commanded concerning him : but Mordecai
bowed not, nor did him reverence." This, at
first, made ill for Mordecai : a gallows was
prepared for him at Haman's command. But
the sequel of the story shows, that Haman
proved his own invention, and ended his pride
with his life, upon it. Speaking as the world
speaks, and looking upon Mordecai without
the knowledge of his success ; was not Mor-
decai a very clown, at least a silly, morose
and humorous man, to run such a hazard for
a trifle 1 What hui't would it have done him
to bow to and honour one the king honoured?
did he not despise the king, in disregarding
Haman ? nay, had not the king commanded
that respect? and are not we to honour and
obey the king ? One would have thought, he
might have bowed for the king's sake, what-
ever he had in his heart, and yet have come
off well enough ; as he bowed not merely to



Haman, but to the king's authority ; besides,
it was but an innocent ceremony. It seems
however, Mordecai was too plain and stout,
and not fine and subtle enough to avoid the
displeasure of Haman.

Howbeit, he was an excellent man : " he
feared God, and wrought righteousness." And
in this very thing also, he pleased God, and
even the king too at last, who had most cause
to be angry with him : for he advanced him
to Haman's dignity ; and, if it could be, to
greater honour. It is true, sad news first
came ; no less than destruction to Mordecai,
and the whole people of the Jews besides, for
his sake. But his integrity and humiliation,
his fasting and strong cries to God prevailed,
and the people were saved, and poor condemned
Mordecai comes, after all, to be exalted above
the princes. O this has great doctrine in it,
to all those that are in their spiritual exercises
and temptations, whether in this or any other
respect ! They who endure faithfully in that
which they are convinced God requires of
them, though against the grain and humour
of the world, and themselves too, shall find a
blessed recompense in the end. My brethren,
remember the cup of cold water ! " We shall
reap, if we faint not :" and call to mind, that
our captain bowed not to him who told him,
" if thou wilt fall down and worship me, I will
give thee all the glory of the world." Shall
we bow then? O no ! let us follow our blessed
leader.

30. Before I leave this section, it is fit I
should add, that in conference with a late
bishop, and none of the least eminent, upon
this subject and instance, I remember he
sought to evade it thus : " Mordecai did not
refuse to bow; as it was a testimony of respect
to the king's favourite ; but he being a figure
and type of Christ, he refused it, because
Haman was of the uncircumcision, and ought
to bow to him rather." To which I replied ;
that allowing Mordecai to be a figure of Christ,
and the Jews of God's people or church; and
that as the Jews were saved by Mordecai, so
the church is saved by Christ: this makes for
me. For then, by that reason, the spiritual
circumcision, or people of Christ, are not to
receive and bow to the fashions and customs
of the spiritual uncircumcision, who are the
childi'en of the world. Such practices as were
condemnable so long ago, in the time of the
type and figure, can by no means be justifiably
received or practised in the time of the anti-
type or substance itself. On the contrary, this
shows expressly, that we are faithfully to de-
cline such worldly customs, and not to fashion
ourselves according to the conversation of
earthly-minded people; but to be renewed and
changed in our ways; and keep close to Mor-



232



NO CROSS, NO CROWN.



decai, who having not bowed, we must not
bow, that are his people and followers. And
whatever be our suffering, or reproaches, they
will have an end. Mordecai, our captain, who
appears for his people throughout all the
provinces, in the king's gate, will deliver us
at last; and, for his sake, we shall be favoured
and loved of the king himself too. So pow-
erful is faithful Mordecai at last. Therefore
let us all look to Jesus, our Mordecai, the
Israel indeed ; he that has power with God,
and would not bow in the hour of temptation,
but has mightily prevailed ; and therefore is a
prince forever, and of his government there
shall never be an end.

31, The next Scripture-instance I shall urge
against these customs, is a passage in Job, thus
expressed ; " Let me not, I pray you, accept
any man's person ; neither let me give flatter-
ing titles unto man, for I know not to give
flattering titles ; in so doing my Maker would
soon take me away." The question that will
arise upon the allegation of this Scripture, is
this, viz. What titles are flattering ? The an-
swer is as obvious, namely. Such as are empty
and fictitious, and make him more than he is.
To call a man what he is not, to please him ;
or to exalt him beyond his true name, office,
or desert, to gain upon his affection ; who, it
may be, lusteth to honour and respect. Such
as these. Most excellent, most sacred, your
grace, your lordship, most dread majesty,
right honourable, right worshipful, may it
please your majesty, your grace, your lord-
ship, your honour, your worship, and the like
unnecessary titles and attributes ; calculated
only to please and tickle poor, proud, vain,
yet mortal man. Likewise to call man what
he is not, as my lord, my master, &c. and
wise, just, or good, when he is neither, only
to please him, or to show him respect.

It was common to do thus among the Jews,
under their degeneracy ; wherefore one came
to Christ and said; "Good master, what shall
I do to have eternal life ?" It was a salutation
or address of respect in those times. It is
familiar now : good my lord, good sir, good
master, do this, or do that. But what was
Christ's answer ? how did he take it ? " Why
callest thou me good ?" says Christ, " there is
none good save one, that is God." He re-
jected it, who had more right to keep it than
all mankind : and why? because though there
was no one greater than he ; yet he saw the
man addressed it to his manhood, after the
way of the times, and not to his divinity which
dwelt within it ; therefore He refused it, in-
structing us that we should not give such
epithets and titles commonly to men: for good
being due alone to God and godliness, it can



only be said in flattery to fallen man, and
therefore sinful to be so said.

This plain and exact life well became him,
who was on purpose manifested to restore
man from his lamentable degeneracy, to the
innocency and purity of his first creation,
who has taught us to be careful, how we use
and give attributes unto man, by that most
severe saying, " That every idle word that
men shall speak, they shall give an account
thereof in the day of judgment." That which
should warn all men of the latitude they take
herein, and sufliciently justify our tenderness,
is this, that man can scarcely commit greater
injury and offence against Almighty God, than
to ascribe any of his attributes unto man, the
creature of his word, and the work of his
hands. He is a jealous God of his honour,
and will not give his glory unto another. Be-
sides, it is near the sin of the aspiring, fallen
angels, who affected to be greater and better
than they were made by the great Lord of
all. To entitle man to a station above his
make and orb looks so like idolatry, the un-
pardonable sin under the law, that it is hard
to think, how men and women professing
Christianity, and seriously reflecting upon
their vanity and evil in these things, can con-
tinue in them, much less plead for them, and
least of all reproach and deride those, who
through tenderness of conscience cannot use
and give them. It seems that Elihu did not
dare to do it ; but put such weight upon the
matter, as to give this as a reason of his for-
bearance, to wit, "Lest my Maker should soon
take me away :" that is, for fear God should
strike me dead, I dare not give man titles,
that are above him, or titles merely to please
him. I may not, by any means, gratify that
spirit which lusteth after such things. God
is jealous of man's being set higher than his
station: he will have him keep his place, know
his place, know his original, and remember
the rock from whence he came. What he has
is borrowed, not his own, but his Maker's
who brought him forth, and sustained him ;
which man is very apt to forget. And lest
I should be accessary to it by flattering titles,
instead of telling him truly and plainly what
he is, and using him, as he ought to be
treated, and thereby provoke my Maker to
displeasure, and he, in his anger and jealousy,
should take me soon away, or bring sudden
death and an untimely end upon me, I dare
not use, I dare not give such titles unto men.
32. But if we had not this to allege from
the Old Testament-writings, it should and
ought to suffice with Christians, that these
customs are severely censured by the great
Lord and Master of all their religion ; who is



NO CROSS, NO CROWN.



233



so far from putting people upon giving honour
one to another, that he will not indulge them
in it, whatever be the customs of the country
they live in : for he charges it upon the Jews,
as a mark of their apostacy : " How can ye
believe, which receive honour one of another,
and seek not the honour that cometh from
God only?" Their infidelity concerning Christ
is made the effect of seeking worldly, and not
heavenly honour only. And the thing is not
hard to apprehend, if we consider, that self-
love and desire of honour from men, is incon-
sistent with the love and humility of Christ.
They sought the good opinion and I'espect of
the world ; how then was it possible, they
should leave all and follow him, whose king-
dom is not of this world ; and who came in a
way so cross to the mind and humour of it?
That this was the meaning of our Lord Jesus,
is plain: for he tells us, what that honour was
they gave and received, which he condemns
them for, and of which he bid the disciples of
his humility and cross to beware. His words
are these, and he speaks them not of the rab-
ble, but of the doctors, the great men, the men
of honour among the Jews, " They love the
uppermost rooms at feasts ;" that is, places of
greatest rank and respect; "greetings," that is,
salutations of respect, such as pulling off the
hat, and bowing the body are in our age; "in
the market-places," viz. in the places of note
and concourse, the public walks and exchanges
of the country; and, lastly, "They love to be
called of men. Rabbi, Rabbi:" one of the most
eminent titles among the Jews. A word com-
prehending an excellency equal to many titles :
it may stand for your grace, your lordship,
right reverend father, &c. It is upon these
men of breeding and quality, that he pro-
nounces his woes, making . these practices
some of the motives of his threatening against
them. But he leaves it not here ; he pursues
this very point of honour, above all the rest,
in his caution to his disciples ; to whom he
gave in charge thus : " But be not ye called
Rabbi, for one is your master, even Christ,
and all ye are brethren. Neither be ye called
masters ; but he that is greatest among you
shall be your servant : and whosoever shall
exalt himself, shall be abased." These pas-
sages carry a severe rebuke, both to worldly
honour in general, and to those members and
expressions of it in particular, which, as near
as the language of Scripture and customs of
that age will permit, do distinctly reach and
allude to those of our own time; for the
declining of which, we have suffered so much
scorn and abuse, both in our persons and
estates: God forgive the unreasonable authors
of it !

33. The apostle Paul has a saying of
Vol. I.— No. 6.



great weight and fervency, in his epistle to
the Romans, very agreeable to this doctrine
of Christ ; it is this : " I beseech you there-
fore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that
ye present your bodies a living sacrifice,
holy, acceptable unto God, which is your
reasonable service : and be not conformed to
this world, but be ye transformed by the re-
newing of your mind, that ye may prove
what is that good, and acceptable and perfect
will of God." He wrote to a people in the
midst of the ensnaring pomp and glory of
the world : Rome was the seat of Csesar, and
the empire : the mistress of invention. Her
fashions, as those of France now, were as laws
to the world, at least at Rome: whence it is
proverbial.

Cumfueris Roma;, Romano vivito more.
When thou art at Rome, thou must do as Rome does.

But the apostle is of another mind : he warns
the Christians of that city, " that they be not
confoi'med ;" that is, that they do not follow
the vain fashions and customs of this world,
but leave them. The emiphasis lies upon this,
as well as upon conformed, and it imports,
that this world, which they were not to con-
form to, was the corrupt and degenerate con-
dition of mankind in that age. Wherefoi'e
the apostle proceeds to exhort those believers,
by the mercies of God, the most powerful and
winning of all arguments, " that they would
be transformed," i. e. changed from the way
of life customary among the Romans ; " and
prove what is that acceptable will of God."
As if he had said, examine what you do and
practise ; see if it be right, and that it please
God : call every thought, word and action to
judgment ; try whether they are wrought in
God or not ; that so you may prove or know
what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect
will of God.

34. The next Scripture authority we appeal
to, in our vindication, is a passage of the
apostle Peter, in his first epistle, written to the
believing strangers throughout the countries of
Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bith-
inia; which were the churches of Christ Jesus
in those parts of the world, gathered by his
power and spirit. It is this, " Gird up the
loins of your mind; be sober, and hope to
the end, for the grace that is to be brought
unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as
obedient children, not fashioning yourselves
according to the former lusts of your igno-
rance." That is, be not found in the vain
fashions and customs of the world, unto which
you conformed in your ignorance: but as you
have believed in a more plain and excellent
way, so be sober and fervent, and hope to the
end : Do not give out ; let them mock on ;
30



^34



NO CROSS, NO CROWN.



bear ye the contradiction of sinners constantly,
as obedient children, that you may receive the
kindness of God, at the revelation of Jesus
Christ. And therefore does the apostle call
them strangers, a figurative speech, people
estranged from the customs of the world, of
new faith and manners; and so unknown of the
world : And if such strangers, then not to be
fashioned or conformed to their pleasing re-
spects and honours, whom they were estranged
from : because the strangeness lay in leaving
that which was customary and familiar to them
before. The following words proved he used
the word strangers in a spiritual sense : Pass
the time of your sojourning here as strangers
on earth in fear : not after the fashions of the
world. A word in the next chapter farther
explains this sense, where he tells the believers,
that " they are a peculiar people :" to wit, a
distinct, singular and separate people from the
rest of the world ; not any longer to fashion
themselves according to its customs. I do not
know how that could be, if they were to live
in communion with the world, in its respects
and honours ; for that is not to be a peculiar
or separate people from them, but to be like
them, because conformable to them.

35. I shall conclude my Scripture testimo-
nies against the' foregoing respects, with that
memorable and close passage of the apostle
James against respect to persons in general,
after the world's fashion: "My brethren, have
not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the
Lord of glory, with respect of persons : for if
there come unto your assembly, a man with a
gold ring, in goodly apparel ; and there come
in also a poor man, in vile raiment, and ye
have respect to him that weareth the gay
clothing, and say unto him sit thou here in a
goodly place, (or w^ell and seemly as the word
is) and say to the poor, stand thou there, or
sit here under my foot-stool ;• are ye not then
partial in yourselves, and are become judges
of evil thoughts [that is, they knew they did
amiss?] If ye fulfil the royal law, according
to the Scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour
as thyself, ye do well ; but if ye have respect
to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced
of the law as transgressors." This is so full,
there seems nothing left for me to add, or
others to object. We are not to respect per-
sons, that is the first thing ; the next is, if we
do, we commit sin and break the law; at our
own peril be it. And yet, perhaps, some will say,
that by this we overthrow all manner of dis-
tinction among men, under their divers quali-
ties, and introduce a reciprocal and relational
respect in the room of it. If it be so, I cannot
help it, the apostle James must answer for it,
who has given us this doctrine for Christian and
apostolical. And yet one greater than he told



his disciples, of whom James was one, viz. "Ye
know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise
dominion over them, &c. But it shall not be
so among you ; but whosoever will be great
among you, let him be your minister ; and
whosoever will be chief among you, let him
be your servant:" that is, he that affects rule,
and seeks to be uppermost, shall be esteemed
least among you. And to say true, upon the
whole matter, whether we regard those early
times of the world, that were antecedent to
the coming of Christ, or soon after, there was
a greater simplicity, than in the times in which
we are fallen. For those early times of the
world, as bad as they were in other things,
were great strangers to the frequency of these
follies : nay, they hardly used some of them,
at least very rarely. For if we read the
Scriptures, such a thing as my lord Adam,
though lord of the world, is not to be found ;
nor my lord Noah neither, the second lord of
the earth ; nor yet my lord Abraham, the
father of the faithful ; nor my lord Isaac ;
nor my lord Jacob ; but much less my lord
Peter, and your holiness, or your grace.
Even among the Gentiles, the people wore
their own names with more simplicity, and
used not the ceremoniousness of speech that
is now practised among Christians, nor yet
any thing like it. My lord Solon, my lord
Phocion, my lord Plato, my lord Aristotle, my
lord Scipio, my lord Fabius, my lord Cato,
my lord Cicero, are not to be read in any ol
the Greek or Latin stories, and yet they were
some of the sages and heroes of those great
empires. No, their own names were enough
to distinguish them from other men, and their
virtue and employment in the public were their
titles of honour. Nor has this vanity crept
far into the Latin writers, where it is familiar
for authors to cite the most learned, and most
noble, without any addition to their names,
unless worthy or learned : and if their works
give it them, we make no conscience to deny
it them. For instance : the fathers they only
cite thus ; Polycarpus, Ignatius, Irenteus,
Cyprian, Tertullian, Origen, Arnobius, Lac-
tantius, Chrysostom, Jerom, &c. More mod-
ern writers ; Damascen, Rabanus, Paschasius,
Theophylact, Bernard, &c. And of the last
age; Luther, Melancthon, Calvin, Beza, Zuing-
lius, Marlorat, Vossius, Grotius, Dalleus, Ama-
ralldus, &c. And of our own country ; Gildas,
Beda, Alcuinus, Horn, Bracton, Grosteed,
Littleton, Cranmer, Ridley, Whitaker, Sel-
den, &c. And, yet I presume, this will not
be thought uncivil or rude. Why then is our
simplicity honestly grounded, as conscience
against pride in man, that so eagerly and per-
niciously loves and seeks worship and great-
ness^ so much despised, and that by professed



NO CROSS, NO CROWN.



235



Christians too, who take themselves to be the
followers of him, who has forbidden these
foolish customs, as plainly as any other im-



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 51 of 105)