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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by names due to a better nature, the more
easily to deceive people into the practice of
them. And truly, so very blind and insensi-
ble are most, of what spirit they are, and
ignorant of the meek and self-denying life of
holy Jesus, whose name they profess, that to
call each other Rabbi, that is Master ; to bow
to men, which I call worship, and to greet
with flattering titles ; and do their fellow-crea-
tures homage; to scorn that language to them-
selves that they give to God, and to spend
their time and estate to gratify their wanton
minds ; the customs of the Gentiles, that
knew not God, pass with them for civility,
good breeding, decency, recreation, accom-
plishments, &c.

O that man would consider, since there are
but two spirits, one good, and the other evil,
which of them it is that inclines the world to
these things ! Is it Nicodemus or Mordecai
in thee, who doth befriend these despised
Christians, which makes thee ashamed to dis-
own that openly in conversation with the world,
which the true light hath made vanity and sin
to thee in secret? Or, if thou art a despiser,
tell me, I pray thee, which dost thou think thy
mockery, anger, or contempt most resembles,
proud Haman, or good Mordecai 1 No man
hath more delighted in, or been more prodigal
of those vanities called civilities, than myself;
and could I have covered my conscience under
the fashions of the world, truly, I had found
a shelter from showers of reproach, that have
fallen very often and thick upon me. But had
I conformed to Egypt's customs, I had sinned
against my God, and lost my peace. I would
not have thee think it is a mere thou or title,
simply in themselves, we boggle at, or that
we would set up any form inconsistent with
sincerity or true civility : there is too much
of that already : but the esteem and value
which the vain minds of men put upon them,
that ought to be crossed and stripped of their
delights, constrain us to testify so steadily
against them. And this know, from the sense
God's Holy Spirit hath begotten in us, that that
which requires these customs and begets fear



to leave them, and pleads for them, and is dis-
pleased if they are not used and paid, is the
spirit of pride and flattery in the ground,
though frequency, use, or generosity, may
have abated its strength in some : This being
discovered by the light that now shines from
heaven, in the hearts of the despised Christians
I have communion with, necessitates them to
this testimony, and myself, as one of them,
and for them, to reprove the unfaithful who
would walk undiscerned, though convinced to
the contrary ; and for an allay to the proud
despisers, who scorn us as a people guilty of
affectation and singularity.

The eternal God, who is great amongst us,
and is on his way in the earth to make his
power known, " will root up every plant that
his right hand hath not planted." Wherefore
let me beseech thee, reader, to consider the
foregoing reasons, which wei'e mostly given
me from the Lord, in that time, when my con-
descension to these fashions would have been
purchased at almost any rate ; but the certain
sense I had of their contrariety to the meek
and self-denying life of holy Jesus, required
of me my disuse of them, and a faithful testi-
mony against them. I speak the truth in
Chi'ist ; I lie not ; I would not have brought
myself under censure and disdain for them,
could I, with peace of conscience, have kept
my belief under a worldly behaviour. It was
extremely irksome to me, to decline and expose
myself; but having an assured and repeated
sense of the original of these vain customs,
that they rise from pride, self-love, and flattery,
I dared not gratify that mind in myself or
others. And for this reason it is, that I am
earnest with my readers to be cautious how
they reprove us on this occasion ; and do
once more entreat them, that they would
seriously weigh in themselves, whether it be
the spirit of the world, or of the Father, that
is so angry with our honest, plain, and harm-
less Thou and Thee : that so every plant that
God, our heavenly Father, hath not planted
in the sons and daughters of men, may be
rooted up.

1. Pride leads people to an excessive value of
their persons. 2. It is plain from the noise that
is made about blood and families ; also in the
case of shape and beauty. 3. Blood no nobility,
but virtue. 4. Virtue no upstart : antiquity, no
nobility without it, else age and blood would
bar virtue in the present age. .5. God teaches
the true sense of nobility, who made of one
blood all nations: there is the original of all
blood. 6. These men of blood, out of their

feathers, look like other men. 7. This is not
said to reject, but humble the gentleman : the
advantages of that condition above others. An
exhortation to recover their lost economy in
families, out of interest and credit. 8. But the
author has a higher motive; the Gospel, and
the excellencies of it, which they profess. 9.
The pride of persons, respecting shape and
beauty: the washes, patches, paintings, dress-
ings, &c. This excess would keep the poor:
the mischiefs that attend it. 10. But pride in
the old, and homely, yet more hateful : that it is
usual. The madness of it. Counsel to the
beautiful, to get their souls like their bodies;
and to the homely, to supply the want of that,
in the adornment of their lasting part, their
souls, with holiness. Nothing homely with
God, but sin. The blessedness of those that
wear Christ's yoke and cross, and are crucified
to the world.

1. But pride stops not here; she excites
people to an excessive value and care of their
persons : they must have great and punctual
attendance, stately furniture, rich and exact
apparel: all which help to make up that pride
of life, that John tells us, " is not of the Father,
but of the world." A sin God charged upon
the haughty daughters of Zion, Isaiah iii. and
on the proud prince and people of Tyrus,
Ezek. xxvii. 28. Read these chapters, and
measure this age by their sins, and what is
coming on these nations by their judgments.
But at the present I shall only touch upon the
first, viz. the excessive value people have of
their persons ; leaving the rest to be con-
sidered under the last head of this discourse,
which is luxury, where they may be not im-
properly placed.

2. That people are generally proud of their
persons, is too visible and troublesome : es-
pecially if they have any pretence either to
blood or beauty. The one has raised many
quarrels among men ; and the other among
women, and men too often, for their sakes,
and at their excitements. But to the first :
what a pother has this noble blood made in
the world, antiquity of name or family ?
Whose father or mother, great grandfather or
great grandmother, was best descended or
allied ? What stock, or what clan, they came
of? What coat of arms they gave, or which
had, of right, the precedence? Methinks, no-
thing of man's folly has less show of reason
to palliate it.

3. For first, what matter is it of whom any
one is descended, that is not of ill-fame ; since
his own virtue must raise, or his vice depress
him ? An ancestor's character is no excuse to
a man's ill actions, but an aggravation of his



degeneracy : Since virtue comes not by gene-
ration, I am neither the better nor the worse
for my fore-father ; to be sure not in God's
account, nor should it be in man's. Nobody
would endure injuries the easier, or reject fa-
vours the more, for coming by the hand of a
man well or ill descended. I confess, it were
greater honour to have had no blots, and with
an hereditary estate to have had a lineal de-
scent of worth : but that was never found, no,
not in the most blessed of families upon earth,
I mean Abraham's. To be descended of
wealth and titles, fills no man's head with
brains, or heart with truth : those qualities
come from an higher cause. It is vanity then,
and most condemnable pride, for a man of
bulk and chai'acter to despise another of less
size in the world and of meaner alliance, for
want of them ; because the latter may have
the merit, where the former has only the
effects of it in an ancestor. Though the one
be great, by means of a forefather ; the other
is so too, but it is by his own ; and which is
the braver man of the two ?

4. O, says the person proud of blood, it
was never a good world, since we have had
so many upstart gentlemen ! But what should
others have said of that man's ancestor, when
he started up first into the knowledge of the
world? He, and all men and families, aye,
and all states and kingdoms too, have had
their upstaiis, that is, their beginnings. It is
like being the true church because old, not
because good, for families to be noble by being
old, not by being virtuous. No such matter :
it must be age in virtue, or else virtue before
age ; for otherwise a man should be noble by
the means of his predecessor, and yet the
predecessor less noble than he, because he
was the acquirer : which is a paradox that
will puzzle all their heraldry to explain !
Strange, that they should be more noble than
their ancestor, who got their nobility for them !
But if this be absurd, as it is, then the upstart
is the noble man ; the man who got it by his
virtue: and those only are entitled to his hon-
our, who are imitators of his virtue ; the rest
may bear his name from his blood, but that is
all. If virtue gives nobility, which heathens
themselves agree, then families are no longer
truly noble, than they are virtuous. And if
virtue go not by blood, but by the qualifications
of the descendants, it follows that blood is ex-
cluded : else blood would bar virtue ; and no
man who wanted the one, should be allowed
the benefit of the other : which were to stint
and bound nobility for want of antiquity, and
to make virtue useless.

No, let blood and name go together ; but
pray let nobility and virtue keep company, for
they are nearest of kin. It is thus fixed by

Vol. I.вАФ No. 7.

God himself, who best knows how to apportion
things with an equal and just hand. He
neither likes nor dislikes by descent; nor does
he regard what people were, but are. He re-
members not the righteousness of any man
who leaves his righteousness ; much less any
unrighteous man for the righteousness of his

5. But if these men of blood please to think
themselves concerned to believe and reverence
God, in his Holy Scriptures, they may learn,
that in the beginning he made of one blood
all nations of men, to dwell upon all the face
of the earth ; and, that we all descended of
one father and mother. A more certain ori-
ginal than the best of us can assign. From
thence go down to Noah, who was the second
planter of the human race, and we are upon
some certainty for our fore-fathers. What
violence has raped, or virtue merited since,
and how far we that are alive are concerned
in either, will be hard for us to determine but
a very few ages off.

6. Methinks, it should suffice to say, our
own eyes see that men of blood, out of their
gears and trappings, without their feathers and
finery, have no more marks of honour by
nature stampt upon them, than their inferior
neighbours. Nay, themselves being judges,
they will frankly tell us that they feel ail those
passions in their blood, that make them like
other men, if not farther from the virtue which
truly dignifies. The lamentable ignorance and
debauchery that now rages among too many
of our greater sort of folk, is too clear an
evidence in the point : and pray tell me, of
what blood are they come 1

7. Howbeit, when I have said all this, I in-
tend not, by debasing one false quality, to
make insolent another. I would not be
thought to set the churl upon the present
gentleman's shoulder ; by no means : his
rudeness will not mend the matter. But what
I have written is, to show all where true no-
bility dwells, that every one may arrive at
it by the ways of virtue and goodness. But
for all this, I must allow a great advantage to
the gentleman ; and therefore prefer his station,
just as the apostle Paul, who, after he had
humbled the Jews, who insulted the Christians
with their law and rites, gave them the advan-
tage upon all other nations in statutes and
judgments. I must grant, that the condition
of our great men is much to be preferred to
the ranks of inferior people. For first, they
have more power to do good : and, if their
hearts be equal to their abilit}^, they are bless-
ings to the people of any country. Secondly,
the eyes of the people are usually directed "to
them; and if they will be kind, just, and help-
ful, they shall have their affections and servi-




ces. Thirdly, they are not under equal straits
with the inferior sort ; and consequently, they
have more help, leisure, and occasion, to polish
their passions and tempers with books and
conversation. Fourthly, they have more time
to observe the actions of other nations ; to
travel, and view the laws, customs and interest
of other countries, and bring home whatever
is worthy or imitable. And so an easier way
is open for great men to get honour; and such
as love true reputation, will embrace the best
means to it. But because it too often happens,
that great men do little mind to give God the
glory of their prosperity, and to live answer-
able to his mercies ; but on the contrary " live
without God in the world," fulfilling the lusts
thereof, his hand is often seen, either in im-
poverishing or extinguishing them, and raising
up men of more virtue and humility to their
estates and dignity. However, I must allow,
that among people of this rank, there have
been some of more than ordinary virtue, whose
examples have given light to their families.
And it has been natural for some of their de-
scendants to endeavour to keep up the credit
of their houses, in proportion to the merit of
their founder. If there be any advantage in
such descent, it is not from blood, but educa-
tion : for blood has no intelligence in it, and
is often spurious and uncertain; but education
has a mighty influence, and strong bias upon
the affections and actions of men. In this,
the ancient nobles and gentry of this kingdom
did excel : and it were much to be wished,
that our great people would set about to re-
cover the ancient economy of their houses,
the strict and virtuous discipline of their an-
cestoi's, when men were honoured for their
achievements, and when nothing exposed a
man more to shame, than his being born
to a nobility which he had not virtue to sup-

8. But I have an higher motive, even the
glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ, which having
been taught in this northern isle, and all ranks
professing to believe in it, let me prevail upon
you to seek the honour it has brought from
heaven, to all the true disciples of it, who are
indeed the followers of God's Lamb, who
*' takes away the sins of the world." Receive
with meekness his gracious word into your
hearts. It subdues the world's lusts, and leads
in the holy way to blessedness. Here are
charms no carnal eye hath seen, nor ear
heard, nor heart perceived ; but they are re-
vealed to such humble converts by his spirit.
Remember you are but creatures, and that
you must die, and after all be judged.

9. But personal pride ends not in nobility
of blood. It leads folks to a fond value of
their persons, be they noble or ignoble ; es

pecially if they have any pretence to shape or
beauty. It is admirable to see, how much it
is possible for some to be taken with them-
selves, as if nothing else deserved their regard,
or the good opinion of others. It would abate
their folly, if they could find in their hearts to
spare but half the time to think of God and
their latter end, which they most prodigally
spend in washing, perfuming, painting, patch-
ing, attii'ing and dressing. In these things
they are precise, and very artificial ; and for
cost they spare not. But that which aggra-
vates the evil is, the pride of one might com-
fortably supply the need of ten. " Gross im-
piety it is, that a nation's pi'ide should not
be spared to a nation's poor !" But what is
this for, at last? Only to be admired, to have
reverence, draw love, and command the eyes
and affections of the beholders. And so fan-
tastic are they in it, as hardly to be pleased
too. Nothing is good, or fine, or fashionable
enough for them : the sun itself, the blessing
of heaven and comfort of the earth, must not
shine upon them, lest it tan them, nor the
wind blow, for fear it should disorder them.
O impious nicety! Yet while they value them-
selves above all else, they make themselves
the vassals of their own pride, worshipping
their shape, feature, or complexion, which
ever is their excellency. The end of all this
is, too often, to excite unlawful love, which I
call lust, and draw one another into as mise-
rable as evil circumstances. In single persons
it is of ill consequence ; for if it does not
awaken unchaste desires, it lays no foundation
for solid and lasting union; the want of which
helps to make so many unhappy marriages in
the world. In married people, the sin is aggra-
vated ; for they have none of right to please,
but one another ; and to affect the gaiety and
vanity of youth, is an ill sign of loving and
living well at home; it looks rather like dress-
ing for a market. It has sad effects in fami-
lies ; discontents, partings, duels, poisonings,
and other infamous murders. No age can
better tell the sad effects of this sort of pride,
than this we live in ; for as it is excessively
wanton, so how fatal it has been to sobriety,
virtue, and to the peace and health of families
in this kingdom.

10. But I must needs say, that of all crea-
tures this sort of pride least becomes the old
and homely, if I may call the ill-favoured and
deformed so ; for the old are proud only of
what they had ; which shows, to their reproach,
that their pride has out-lived their beauty, and
when they should be repenting, they are
making work for repentance. But the home-
ly are yet worse, they are proud of what they
never had, nor ever can have. Nay, their
persons seem as if they were given for a per-



petual humiliation to their minds ; and to be
proud of them, is loving pride for pride's sake,
and to be proud without a temptation. And
yet in my whole life I have observed nothing
more doating on itself: Strange infatuation
and enchantment of pride ! what ! not to see
right with their eyes, because of the partiality
of their minds? This self-love is blind indeed.
But to add expense to the vanity, and to be
costly upon that which cannot be mended, one
would think they were downright mad ; es-
pecially if they consider that they look the
homelier for the things that are thought
handsome, and do but draw their deformity
more into notice, by that which does so little
becoiTfie them.

In the follies of such pei'sons we have a
specimen of man ; what a creature he is in
the lapse from his primitive image. All this,
as Jesus said of sin of old, comes from within ;
from the disregard man and woman have to
the word of their Creator in their hearts,
which shows pride, and teaches humility and
self-abasement, and directs the mind to the
true objects of honour and worship, with an
awe and reverence suitable to his sovereignty
and majesty. Poor mortals ! but living dirt,
made of what they tread on ; who, with all
their pride, cannot secure themselves from the
spoil of sickness, much less from the stroke
of death. O ! did people consider the incon-
stancy of all visible things, the cross and ad-
verse occurrences of man's life, the certainty
of his departure, and of eternal judgment, it
is to be hoped, they would bring their deeds
to Christ's light in their hearts, and see if they
were wrought in God or no, as the beloved
disciple tells us from his dear Master's mouth.
Art thou shapely, comely, beautiful ; the exact
draught of an human creature ? Admire that
power that made thee so. Live an harmo-
nious life to the curious make and frame of
thy creation ; and let the beauty of thy body
teach thee to beautify thy mind with holiness,
the ornament of the beloved of God. Art
thou homely or deformed ? magnify that
goodness which did not make thee a beast ;
and with the grace that is given unto thee,
(for it has appeared unto all) learn to adorn
thy soul with enduring beauty. Remember,
the King of heaven's daughter, the church
of which true Christians are members, is all
glorious within: and if thy soul excel, thy
body will only set off the lustre of thy mind.
Nothing is homely in God's sight but sin.
That man and woman, who commune with
their own hearts, and sin not ; who in the
light of holy Jesus, watch over the movings
and inclinations of their own souls, and sup-
press every evil in its conception, they love
the yoke and cross of Christ, and are daily

by it crucified to the world, but live to God in
that life, which outlives the fading satisfactions
of it.

1. The character of a proud man : a glutton upon
himself. Is proud of his pedigree. 2. He is
insolent and quarrelsome, but cowardly: yet
cruel. 3. An ill child, subject and servant.
4. Unhospitable. 5. No friend to any. 6.
Dangerous and mischievous in power. 7. Of
all things pride is bad in ministers. 8. They
claim prerogative above others. 9. And call
themselves the clergy : their lordliness and
avarice. 10. Death swallows all. 11. The
way to escape these evils.

1. To conclude this great head of pride, let
us briefly see upon the whole matter, what is
the character of a proud man in himself, and
in divers relations and capacities. A proud
man then is a kind of glutton upon himself,
for he is never satisfied with loving and ad-
miring himself; whilst nothing else with him
is worthy either of love or care. If good
enough to be the servant of his will, it is as
much as he can find in his heart to allow ; as
if he had been only made for himself, or
rather that he had made himself. For as he
despises man, because he cannot abide an
equal, so he does not love God, because he
would not have a superior. He cannot bear
to owe his being to another, lest he should
thereby acknowledge one above himself He
is one who is big with the honour of his an-
cestors, but not of the virtue that brought them
to it ; much less will he trouble himself to
imitate them. He can tell you of his pedigree,
his antiquity, what estate, what matches ; but
forgets that they are gone, and that he must
die too.

2. How troublesome a companion is a proud
man ! Ever positive and controling, and if you
yield not, insolent and quan-elsome : yet in
the end cowardly ; but if strongest, cruel.
He has no compassion for adversity, as if it
were below him to be sensible : he feels no
more of other men's miseries, than if he was
not a man, or it was a sin to be sensible.
Not feeling himself interested, he looks no
farther: he will not disquiet his thoughts with
other men's infelicities: it shall content him to
believe they are just : and he had rather
churlishly upbraid them as the cause, than
be ready to commiserate or relieve them.
Compassion and charity are with him as use-
less, as humility and meekness are hateful.

3. A proud man makes an ill child, servant
and subject: he contemns his parents, master



and prince : he will not be subject. He thinks
himself too wise, or too old, to be directed ;
as if it wei'e a slavish thing to obey ; and that
none were free, who may not do what they
please ; which turns duty out of doors, and de-
grades authority. On the other hand, if he be
an husband, or father, or master, there is scarce-
ly any enduring him. He is so insufferably
curious and testy, that it is an affliction to live
with him : for hardly can any hand carry it
even enough to please him. Some peccadillo
about his clothes, his diet, his lodging, or at-
tendance, quite disorders him ; but especially
if he fancies any want in the state and respect
he looks for. Thus pride destroys the natui'e
of relations : on the one side, it learns to con-
temn duty ; on the other side, it turns love
into fear, and makes the wife a servant, and
the children and servants, slaves.

4. The proud man makes an ill neighbour
too ; for he is an enemy to hospitality : he
despises to receive kindness, because he wduld
not show any, nor be thought to need it. Be-
sides, it looks too equal and familiar for his

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 53 of 105)