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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piety condemned in his doctrine ? I earnestly
beg the lovers, users, and expecters of these
ceremonies, to let what I have written have
some consideration and weight with them.

36. Christians are not so ill-bred as the
world thinks, for they show respect too ; but
the difference between them lies in the nature
of the respect they perform, and the reasons
of it. The world's respect is an empty cere-
mony, no soul or substance in it : the Chris-
tian's is a solid thing, whether by obedience
to superiors, love to equals, or help and coun-
tenance to inferiors. Their reasons and mo-
tives to honour and respect, are as wide one
from the other : for fine apparel, empty titles,
or large revenues, are the world'3 motives,
being things her children worship : but the
Christian's motive is, the sense of his duty in
God's sight; first, to parents and magistrates;
then to inferior relations ; and lastly, to all
people, according to their virtue, wisdom, and
piety : which is far from respect to the mere
persons of men, or having their persons in
admiration for reward ; much less on such
mean and base motives as wealth and sumptu-
ous raiment.

37. We shall easily grant, that our honour,
as well as our religion, is more hidden ; and
neither is so discernible by worldly men, nor
grateful to them. Our plainness is odd, un-
couth, and goes mightily against the grain ;
but so does Christianity too, and for the same
reasons. But had not the heathen spirit pre-
vailed too long imder a Christian profession,
it would not be so hard to discern the right
from the wrong. O that Christians would
look upon themselves, with the glass of righte-
ousness, that which tells true, and gives them
an exact knowledge of themselves ! and then
let them examine, what there is in them, and
about them, that agrees with Christ's doc-
trine and life ; and they may soon resolve,
whether they are real Christians, or but
heathens christened with the name of Chris-

Some testimonies from ancient and modern
leriters, in favour of our behaviour.

38. Marlorat out of Luther and Calvin,
upon that remarkable passage, I just now
urged from the apostle James, gives us the
sense those primitive reformers had of respect
to persons, in these words, viz. " To respect
persons, here, is to have regard to the outward
habit and garb : the apostle signifies, that such
respecting of persons is so contrary to true
faith, that they are altogether inconsistent.
If the pomp, and other worldly regards.

prevail, and weaken what is of Christ, it is a
sign of a decaying faith ; yea, so great is the
glory and splendor of Christ, in a pious soul,
that all the glories of the world have no
charms, no beauty, in comparison of that,
unto one so religiously inclined. The apostle
maketh such respecting of persons, to be re-
pugnant to the fight (within them) insomuch,
as they, who follow those practices, are con-
demned from within themselves. So that
sanctity ought to be the reason, or motive, of
all outward respect; and that none is to be
honoured, upon any account, but holiness :"
If this be true doctrine, we are much in the
right in refusing conformity to the vain respects
of worldly men.

39. But I shall add to these the admonition
of a learned ancient writer, who lived about
twelve hundred years since, of great esteem,
namely Jerom, who, writing to a noble matron,
Cclantia, directing her how to live in the midst
of her prosperity and honours, amongst many
other religious instructions, speaks thus :
"Heed not thy nobility, nor let that be a
reason for thee to take place of any ; esteem
not those of a meaner extraction to be thy
inferiors ; for our religion admits of no re-
spect of persons, nor doth it induce us to re-
pute men from any external condition, but
from their inward frame and disposition of
mind: it is hereby that we pronounce men
noble or base. With God, not to serve sin,
is to be free ; and to excel in virtue, is to be
noble. God has chosen the mean and con-
temptible of this world, whereby to humble
the great ones. Besides, it is a folly for any
to boast his gentility, since all are equally
esteemed by God. The ransom of the poor
and rich cost Christ an equal expense of
blood. Nor is it material in what state a
man is born ; the new creature hath no dis-
tinction. But if we will forget that we all
descended from one Father, we ought at least
perpetually to remember, that we have but one

40. Since I am engaged against these fond
and fruitless customs, the proper effects and
delights of vain and proud minds, let me yet
add one memorable passage more, as it is re-
lated by the famous Causabon, in his Dis-
course of Use and Custom ; where he briefly
reports what passed between Sulpitius Severus,
and Paulinus, bishop of Nola, who gave all to
redeem captives, whilst others of that function,
that they may show who is their master, are
making many both beggars and captives, by
countenancing the plunder and imprisonment
of Christians, for pure conscience to God.
He brings it in thus : " He is not counted a
civil man now, of late years amongst us, who
thinks it much, or refuseth, to subscribe him-



self servant, though it be to his equal or infe-
rior. Yet Sulpitius Severus was once sharply
chid by Paulinus, for subscribing himself his
servant, in a letter of his ; saying, " Take
heed hereafter, how thou, being from a ser-
vant called into liberty, dost subscribe thyself
servant unto one who is thy brother and fel-
low-servant ; for it is a sinful flattery, not a
testimony of humility, to pay those honours
to a man, and a sinner, which are due to the
one Lord, one Master, and one God." This
bishop was of Christ's mind, " Why callest
thou me good 1 there is none good but one."
By this we may see the sense of some of the
more apostolical bishops about the civilities
and fashions, so much reputed with people
who call themselves Christians and bishops,
and who would be thought their sucessors. It
was then a sin, it is now an accomplishment ;
it was then a flattery, it is now respect ; it was
then fit to be severely reproved ; and now,
alas ! it is to deserve severe reproof not to use
it. O monstrous vanity ! how much, how
deeply, have those who are called Christians
revolted from the plainness of the primitive
days, and the practice of holy men and women
in former ages ! How are they become de-
generated into the loose, proud and wanton
customs of the world, which knows not God ;
to whom use hath made those things condem-
ned by Scripture, reason and example, almost
natural ! And so insensible are they of both
their cause and bad effects, that they not only
continue to practise them, but plead for them,
and unchristianly make a very mock of those
who cannot imitate them. But I shall pro-
ceed to what remains yet farther to be said
in our defence for declining another custom,
which helps to make us so much the stum-
bling block of this light, vain, and inconside-
rate age.


1. Another piece of non-conformity to the world,
which is our simple and plain speech, Thou for
You. 2. Justified from the use of words and
numbers, singular and plural. 3. It was and is,
the Hebrew, Greek, and Latin speech, in schools
and universities. 4. It is the language of all
nations. 5. The original of the present custom
defends our disuse of it. 6. If custom should
prevail, in a sense it would be on our side. 7.
It cannot be uncivil, or improper ; for God him-
self, the fathers, prophets, Christ and his apostles
used it. 8. An instance given in the case of
Peter, in the palace of the high priest. 9. It is
the practice of men to God in their prayers : the
pride of man to expect better to himself. 10.

Testimonies of several writers in vindication of
us. 11. The author's convictions ; and his ex-
hortation to his reader.

1. There is another piece of non-con-
formity to the world, that renders us very
clownish to the breeding of it, and that is,
Thou for You, and that without difference or
respect to persons : a thing which, to some,
looks so rude, it cannot well go down without
derision or wrath. But as we have the same
original reason for declining this, as the fore-
going customs, so I shall add what, to me,
looks reasonable in our defence ; though, it is
very probable, height of mind, in some of
those that blame us, will very hardly allow
them to believe that the word reasonable is
reconcileable with so silly a practice as this is

2. Words, of themselves, are but so many
marks set and employed for necessary and
intelligible mediums, or means, whereby men
may understandingly express their minds and
conceptions to each other ; from whence comes
conversation. Now, though the world be di-
vided into many nations, each of which, for
the most part, has a peculiar language, speech,
or dialect, yet have they ever concurred in the
same numbers and persons, as much of the
ground of right speech. For instance; I love,
Thou lovest. He loveth, are of the singular
number, importing but one, whether in the
first, second, or third person : also. We love,
Ye love. They love, are of the plural number,
because in each is implied more than one.
Which undeniable grammatical rule might be
enough to satisfy any, that have not forgot
their accidence, that we are not beside reason
in our practice. For if Thou lovest, be singu-
lar, and You love, be plural; and if Thou
lovest, signifies but one ; and You love,
many ; is it not as proper to say Thou lovest,
to ten men, as to say. You love, to one man?
Or, why not I love, for We love, and We
love, instead of I love ? Doubtless it is the
same, though most improper, and in speech

3. Our next reason is ; if it be improper
or uncivil speech, as termed by this vain age,
how comes it that the Hebrew, Greek and
Roman authors, used in schools and universi-
ties, have no other? Why should they not be
a rule in that, as well as other things? And
why, are we so ridiculous for being thus far
grammatical ? Is it reasonable that children
should be whipt at school for putting You for
Thou, as having made false Latin ; and yet
that we must be reproached and often abused,
when we use the contrary propriety of speech?

4. But in the third place, it is neither im-
proper nor uncivil, but much otherwise ; be-



cause it is used in all languages, speeches and
dialects, and through all ages. This is very
plain ; as for example, it was God's language
when he first spake to Adam, viz. Hebrew :
also it is the Assyrian, Chaldean, Grecian, and
Latin speech. And now amongst the Turks,
Tartars, Muscovites, Indians, Persians, Ital-
ians, Spaniards, French, Dutch, Germans,
Polonians, Swedes, Danes, Irish, Scottish,
Welch, as well as English, there is a distinc-
tion preserved ; and the word Thou, is not
lost in the word which goes for You. And
though some of the modern tongues have done
as we do, yet upon the same eri'or. But by
this it is plain, that Thou is no upstart, nor
yet improper ; but the only proper word to be
used in all languages to a single person ; be-
cause otherwise all sentences, speeches, and
discourses may be very ambiguous, uncertain,
and equivocal. If a jury pronounce a verdict,
or a judge a sentence, three being at the bar
upon three occasions, very differently culpable,
and should say, You are here guilty, and to
die, or innocent and dischai'ged, who knows
who is guilty or innocent? It may be but one,
perhaps two ; or it may be all three. There-
fore our indictments run in the singular num-
ber, as hold up Thy hand : Thou art indicted
by the name of, &c. ! and it holds the same in
all conversation. Nor can this be avoided,
but by many unnecessary circumlocutions.
And as the preventing of such length and
obscurity was doubtless the first reason for
the distinction, so cannot that be justly disused,
till the reason be first removed ; which can
never be, whilst two are in the world.

5. But this is not all : it was first ascribed,
in way of flattery, to proud popes and emper-
ors ; imitating the heathens vain homage to
their gods ; thereby ascribing a plural honour
to a single person ; as if one pope had been
made up of many Gods, and one emperor of
many men. For which reason. You, only to
be used to many, became first spoken to one.
It seems the word Thou looked like too lean
and thin a respect; and therefore some, bigger
than they should be, would have a style suita-
ble to their own ambition : a ground we can-
not build our practice on ; for what began it,
only loves it still. But supposing You to be
proper to a prince, it will not follow it is to a
common person. For his edict runs, " We
will and require," because perhaps in conjunc-
tion with his council ; and therefore You to a
private person, is an abuse of the word. But
as pride first gave it birth, so hath she only
promoted it. Monsieur,* sir, and madam were,
originally, names given to none but the king,
his brother, and their wives, both in France

* Howel's History of France.

and England ; yet now the ploughman in
France is called Monsieur, and his wife,
madam : and men of ordinary trades in Eng-
land, sir, and their wives, dame ; which is the
legal title of a lady, or else mistress, which is
the same with madam in French. So preva-
lent hath pride and flattery been in all ages,
the one to give, and the other to receive respect,
as they term it.

6. But some will tell us, custom should rule
us ; and that is against us. It is easily an-
swered, and more truly, that though in things
reasonable or indifferent, custom is obliging
or harmless, yet in things unreasonable or
unlawful, she has no authority. For custom
can no moi'e change numbers than genders,
nor yoke one and You together, than make a
man into a woman, or one a thousand. But
if custom be to conclude us, it is for us : for
as custom is nothing else but ancient usage,
I appeal to the practice of mankind, from the
beginning of the world, through all nations,
against the novelty of this confusion, viz. You
to one person. Let custom, which is ancient
practice, and fact, issue this question. Mistake
me not : I know words are nothing, but as
men give them a value or force by use : but
then, if you will discharge Thou, and that
You must succeed in its place, let us have a
distinguishing word in room of You, to be
used in speech to many. But to use the same
word for one and many, when there are two,
and that only to please a proud and haughty
humour in man, is not reasonable in our
sense ; which, we hope, is Christian, though
not modish.

7. If Thou to a single person be improper
or uncivil, God himself, all the holy fathers
and prophets, Christ Jesus and his apostles,
the primitive saints, and all languages through-
out the world, are guilty; which, with submis-
sion, were great presumption to imagine. Be-
sides, we all know, it is familiar with most
authors, to preface their discourses to the
reader in the same language of Thee and
Thou : as reader. Thou art desired, &c. or,
reader, this is written to inform Thee of the
occasion, &c. And it cannot be denied, that
the most famous poems, dedicated to love or
majesty, are written in this style. Read of
each in Chaucer, Spencer, Waller, Cowley,
Dryden, and why then should it be so homely,
ill-bred, and insufferable in us 1 This, I con-
ceive, can never be answered.

8. I doubt not at all, but that something
altogether as singular attended the speech of
Christ and his disciples: for I remember it
was urged upon Peter in the high priest's
palace, as a proof of his belonging to Jesus,
when he denied his Lord : " Surely (said they)
Thou also art one of them ; for thy speech



bewrayeth Thee." They had guessed by his
looks, but just before, that he had been with
Jesus ; but when they discoursed him, his
language put them all out of doubt : surely
then he was one of them, and he had been
with Jesus. It was something he had learned
in his company, that was odd and observable ;
not of the world's behaviour. Without ques-
tion, the garb, gait, and speech of his followers
differed, as well as his doctrine, from the
world ; for it was a part of his doctrine that
it should be so. It is easy to believe, they
were more plain, grave and precise ; which is
more credible from the way which poor, con-
fident, fearful Peter took to disguise the busi-
ness; for he fell to cursing and swearing. A
sad shift! but he thought that the likeliest
way to remove the suspicion, which was most
unlike Christ. And the policy took ; for it
silenced their objections : and Peter was as
orthodox as they. But though they found him
not out, the cock's-crow did ; which made Peter
remember his dear suffering Lord's words, and
" he went forth and wept bitterly," that he had
denied his Master, who was then delivered up
to die for him.

9. But our last reason is of most weight
with me ; because it is most heavy upon our
despisers ; which is this : It should not there-
fore be urged upon us, because it is a most
extravagant piece of pride in a mortal man,
to require or expect from his fellow-creature
a more civil speech, or grateful language, than
he is wont to give the immortal God, his Crea-
tor, in all his worship to him. Art thou, O
man, greater than he that made thee ? Canst
thou approach the God of thy breath, and
great judge of thy life, with Thou and Thee,
and when thou risest off thy knees, scorn a
Christian for giving to thee, poor mushroom
of the earth, no better language than thou hast
given to God but just before ? An arrogancy
not to be easily equalled ! But again, it is either
too much or too little respect ; if too much,
do not reproach and be angry, but gravely
and humbly refuse it. If too little, why dost
thou show no more to God? O whither is man
gone! to what a pitch does he soar? Pie would
be used more civilly by us, than he uses God ;
which is to have us make more than a God of
him : But he shall want worshippers of us, as
well as he wants the divinity in himself that
deserves to be worshipped. We are certain
that the spirit of God seeks not these respects,
much less pleads for them, or would be wroth
with any that conscientiously refuse to give

But that this vain generation is guilty of
using them to gratify a vain mind, is too pal-
pable. What capping, what cringing, what
scraping, what vain unmeant words, most

hyperbolical expressions, compliments, gross
flatteries, and plain lies, under the name of
civilities, are men and women guilty of in
conversation ! Ah my friends ! whence fetch
you these examples ? What part of all the
writings of the holy men of God warrants
these things'? To come near to your own pro-
fessions ; Is Chi'ist your example herein, whose
name you pretend to bear? or those saints of
old, who lived in desolate places, of whom the
world was not worthy. Or do you think you
follow the practice of those Christians, who,
in obedience to their Master's life and doctrine,
forsook the I'espect of persons, and relinquished
the fashions, honour and glory of this transi-
tory world ; whose qualifications lay not in
external gestures, respects and compliments,
but in a meek and quiet spirit, adorned with
temperance, virtue, modesty, gravity, patience,
and brotherly-kindness, which were the to-
kens of true honour, and the only badges
of respect and nobility in those Christian
times ?

But is it not to expose ourselves to your
contempt and fury, that we imitate them, and
not you? And tell us, are not romances, plays,
masks, gaming, fiddlers, &c. the entertain-
ments that most delight you ? Had you the
spirit of Christianity indeed, could you con-
sume your niost precious little time in so many
unnecessary visits, games, and pastimes ; in
your vain compliments, courtships, feigned
stories, flatteries, and fruitless novelties, and
what not ? invented and used for your diver-
sion, to make you easy in your forgetfulness
of God. This never was the Christian way
of living, but the entertainment of the heathens
that knew not God. Oh, were you truly
touched with a sense of your sins, and in any
measure born again ; did you take up the
cross of Jesus, and live under it, these things
which so much please your wanton and sen-
sual nature would find no place in 5'ou ! It is
not seeking the things that are above, to have
the heart thus set on things that are below ;
nor, " working out your own salvation with
fear and trembling," to spend your days in
vanity. This is not crying with Elihu, " I
know not to give flattering titles to men ; for
in so doing my Maker would soon take me
away :" this is not to deny self, and lay up a
more hidden and enduring substance, an eter-
nal inheritance, in the heavens, that will not
pass away. My friends, whatever you think,
your plea of custom will find no place at God's
tribunal : the light of Christ in your own
hearts will overrule it, and this spirit, against
which we testify, shall then appear to be what
we say it is. Say not, I am serious about
slight things : but beware you of levity and
rashness in serious things.



10. Befoi'e I close, I shall add a few testi-
monies from men of general credit, in favour
of our non-conformity to the world in this

Luther, the great reformer, whose sayings
Were oracles with the age he lived in, and of
no less reputation now, with many that object
against us, was so far from condemning our
plain speech, that, in his Ludas, he sports
himself with You to a single person, as an in-
congruous and ridiculous speech, viz. Magis-
ter, vos estis iratvs ? Master, are you angry ?
as absurd with him in Latin, as, Masters, art
Thou angry ? is in English. Erasmus, a
learned man, and an exact critic in speech,
than whom, I know not any we may so
properly refer the grammar of the matter to,
not only derides it, but bestows a whole dis-
course upon rendering it absurd : plainly
manifesting, that it is impossible to preserve
numbers, if You, the only word for more than
one, be used to express one : as also, that the
original of this corruption was the corruption
of flattery. Lipsius affirms of the ancient
Romans, that the manner of greeting, now in
vogue, was not in use amongst them. Hov/el,
in his History of France, gives us an ingenious
account of its original ; where he not only
assures us, that anciently the peasants Thou'd
their kings, but that pride and flattery first put
inferiors upon paying a plural respect to the
single person of every superior, and superiors
upon receiving it. And though we had not
the practice of God and man so undeniably
to justify our plain and homely speech, yet,
since we are persuaded that its original was
from pride and flattery, we cannot in con-
science use it. And however we may be
censured as singular, by those loose and airy
minds, who, through the continual love of
earthly pleasures, consider not the true rise
and tendency of words and things, yet, to us,
whom God has convinced, by his light and
spirit in our hearts, of the folly and evil of
such courses, and brought into a spiritual dis-
cerning of the nature and ground of the world's
fashions, they appear to be fruits of pride and
flattery, and we dare not continue in such vain
compliances to earthly minds, lest we offend
God, and burden our consciences. But having
been sincerely affected with the reproofs of
instruction, and our hearts being brought into
a watchful subjection to the righteous law of
Jesus, so as to bring our deeds to the light, to
see in whom they are wrought, whether in
God, or not; we cannot, we dare not conform
ourselves to the fashions of the world, that
pass away ; knowing assuredly, that " for
every idle word that men speak, they shall
give an account in the day of^ judgment."

11. Wherefore, reader, whether thou art a

night- walking Nicodemus, or a scoffing scribe;
one that would visit the blessed Messiah, but
in the dark customs of the world, that thou
mightest pass undiscerned, for fear of bearing
his reproachful cross ; or else a favourer of
Ha man's pride, and countest these testimonies
but a foolish singularity ; divine love enjoins
me to be a messenger of truth to thee, and a
faithful witness against the evil of this degene-
rate world, as in other, so in these things : in
which the spirit of vanity and lust hath got
so great an head, and lived so long uncon-
troled, that it hath impudence enough to term
its darkness light, and to call its evil off-spring

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 52 of 105)