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William Evans.

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haughty humour. Emulation and detraction
ax"e his element ; for he is jealous of attributing
any praise to others, even where it is just, lest
that should cloud and lessen him, to whom it
never could be due. He is the man that fears
what he should wish, to wit, that others should
do well. But that is not all ; he maliciously
miscalls their acts of virtue, which his cor-
ruptions will not let him imitate, that they may
get no credit by them. If he wants any occa-
sion of doing mischief, he can make one ;
either, they use him ill, or have some design
upon him ; the other day they paid him not
the cap and knee ; the distance and respect
he thinks his quality, parts, or merits require.
A small thing serves a proud man to pick a
quarrel. He is, of all creatures the most
jealous, sullen, spiteful, and revengeful : he
can no more forgive an injury, than forbear
to do one.

5. Nor is this all ; a proud man can never
be a friend 1o any body. For besides that his
ambition may always be bribed by honour and
preferment to betray that relation, he is un-
conversible ; he must not be catechised and
counselled, much less reproved or contradicted.
He is too covetous of himself to spare another
man a share, and much too high, stiff, and
touchy; he will not away with those freedoms
that real friendship requires. To say true,
he contemns the character; it is much too
familiar and humble for him : his mighty
soul would know nothing besides himself, and
vassals to stock the world. He values other
men as we do cattle, for their service only,
and if he could, would use them so ; but as
it happens, the number and force are unequal.



6. A proud man in power is very mischiev-
ous ; for his pride is the more dangerous by
his greatness, since from ambition in private
men, it becomes tyranny in them : it would
reign alone ; nay live so, rather than have
competitors: aut Cmsar, aut nuUus.* Reason
must not check, nor rules of law limit it; and
either it can do no wrong, or it is sedition to
complain of the wrong that it does. The men
of this temper would have nothing they do
thought amiss ; at least, they count it danger-
ous to allow it to be so, though so it be ; for
this would imply they had erred, which it is
always matter of state to deny. No, they will
rather choose to perish obstinately, than by
acknowledging, yield to inferiors the reputa-
tion of better judging ; though it were their
prudence to do so. Indeed, it is all the satis-
faction proud great men make to the world,
for the miseries they often bring upon it, that
first or last, upon a division, they leave their
real interest to follow some one excess of hu-
mour, and are almost ever destroyed by it.
This is the end pride gives proud men, and
the ruin it brings upon them, after it has pun-
ished others by them.

7. But above all things, pride is intolerable
in men pretending to religion ; and, of them,
especially in ministers ; for they are names of
the greatest contradiction. I speak without
respect or anger to persons or parties ; for I
only touch upon the bad of all. What shall
pride do with religion, that rebukes it? or am-
bition with ministers, whose very office is hu-
mility ? And yet there are too many of them,
who, besides an equal guilt with others in the
fleshly pride of the world, are even proud of
that name and office, which ought always to
remind them of self-denial. They use it as
the beggars do the name of God and Christ,
only to get by it : placing to their own account
the advantages of that reverend profession,
and thereby making their function but a po-
litic handle to raise themselves to the great
preferments of the world. But, O then how
can such be his ministers, that said, " My
kingdom is not of this world ?" Who is there
of mankind, more self-conceited, than these
men ? If contradicted, they are as arrogant
and angry as if it were their calling to be so.
Counsel one of them, and he scorns you ; re-
prove him, and he is almost ready to excom-
municate you. " I am a minister and an
elder :" flying thither to secure himself from
the reach of just censure, which indeed ex-
poses him but the more to it ; and therefore
ins fault cannot be the less, for how much
worse is it in a minister to do ill, and spurn at
reproof, than an ordinary man.



* " Ca3sar or nobody."



NO CROSS, NO CROWN.



245



8. But he pleads an exemption by his office!
What ! shall he breed up chickens to pick out
his own eyes ? be rebuked or instructed by a
lay-man, or parishioner ! a man of less age,
learning, or ability ! no such matter ; he
would have us believe that his ministerial pre-
rogative has placed him out of the reach of
popular impeachment : He is not subject to
vulgar judgments. Even questions about re-
ligion are schism. Believe as he says ; it is
not for you to pry so curiously into the mys-
teries of religion. It was never a good day
since lay-men meddled so much with the min-
ister's office. Not considering, poor man ! that
the contrary is most true; not many good days
since ministers meddled so much in lay-men's
business ; though perhaps there is little reason
for the distinction except spiritual gifts, and
the improvement of them by diligent use, for
the good of others.

Such good sayings as these, " Be ready to
teach ; answer with meekness : let every man
speak as of the gift of God, that is in him :
if anything be revealed to him that sits by,
let the first hold his peace ; be not lords over
God's heritage, but meek and lowly ; washing
the feet of the people, as Jesus did those of
his poor disciples," are unreasonable and anti-
quated instructions with some clergy. It is
little less than heresy to remember them of
these things ; and a mark of great disaffection
to the church in their opinion. Their pride
has made them the church, and the people but
the porch at best ; a cipher that signifies no-
thing, unless they clap their figure before it :
forgetting, that if they were as good as they
should be, they could be but ministers, stew-
ards, and under-shepherds ; that is, servants
to the church, family, flock and heritage of
God ; and not that they are that church,
family, flock, and heritage, to which they are
only servants. Remember the words of Christ,
" Let him that would be greatest be your
servant."

9. There is but one place to be found in the
Holy Scripture, where the word clerifs(x.>ivj^o$)
can properly be applied to the church, and
they have got it to themselves ; from whence
they call themselves the clergy, that is, the
inheritance or heritage of God. Whereas
Peter exhorts the ministers of the Gospel,
" not to be lords over God's heritage, nor to
feed them for filthy luci'e." Peter foresaw
pride and avarice to be the ministers' tempta-
tions ; and, indeed, they have often proved
their fall: and, to say true, they could hardly
fall by worse. Nor is there any excuse to be
made for them in these two respects, which
is not worse than their sin. For if they have
not been lords over God's heritage, it is be-



cause they have made themselves that heritage,
and disinherited the people : so that now they
may be the people's lords, with a salvo to good
old Peter's exhortation.

And for the other sin of avarice, they can
only avoid it and speak truth, thus, " that
never feeding the flock, they cannot be said
to feed it for lucre :" that is, they get the
people's money for nothing. An example of
which is given us, by the complaint of God
himself, from the practice of the proud,
covetous, false prophets of old, " that the
people gave their money for that which was
not bread, and their labour for that which
did not profit them :" and why ? Because then
the priest had no vision ; and too many now
despise it.

10. But alas ! when all is done, what folly, as
well as irreligion, is there in pride? It cannot
add one cubit to any man's stature. What cross-
es can it hinder? What disappointments help,
or what harm frustrate ? It delivers not from
the common stroke ; sickness disfigures ; pain
mis-shapes ; and death ends the proud man's
fabric. Six feet of cold earth bounds his big
thoughts ; and his person, which was too good
for any place, must at last lodge within the
straight limits of so little and so dark a cave;
and he who thought nothing well enough for
him, is quickly the entertainment of the lowest
of all animals, even worms themselves. Thus
pride and pomp come to the common end ;
but with this difference, less pity from the
living, and more pain to the dying. The
proud man's antiquity cannot secure him
from death, nor his heraldry from judgment.
Titles of honour vanish at this extremity ; and
no power or wealth, no distance or respect
can rescue or insure them : as the tree falls,
it lies ; and as death leaves men, judgment
finds them.

11. O ! what can prevent this ill conclusion?
and what can remedy this woful declension
from ancient meekness, humility, and piety,
and that godly life and power, which were so
conspicuous in the authority of the preaching,
and examples of the living, of the first and
purest ages of Christianity ! Truly, nothing
but an inward and sincere examination, by the
testimony of the holy light and spirit of Jesus,
of the condition of their souls towards Christ,
and a better inquiry into the matter and ex-
amples of holy record. It was his complaint
of old, " that light, was come into the world,
but men loved darkness rather than light, be-
cause their deeds were evil." If thou would-
est be a child of God, and a believer in Christ,
thou must be a child of light. Thou must
bring thy deeds to it, and examine them by
that holy lamp in thy soul, which is the candle



246



NO CROSS, NO CROWN.



of the Lord, that shows thee thy pride and
arrogancy, and reproves thy deUght ha the
vain fashions of this world.

Religion is a denial of self; yea of self- re-
ligion too. It is a firm tie or bond upon the
soul to holiness, whose end is happiness ; for
by it men come to see the Lord. " The pure
in heart," says Jesus, " see God :" he that
once comes to bear Christ's yoke, is not
carried away by the devil's allurements ; he
finds excelling joys in his watchfulness and
obedience. If men loved the cross of Christ,
his precepts and doctrine, they would cross
their own wills, which lead them to break
Christ's holy will, and lose their own souls in
doing the devil's. Had Adam minded that
holy light in paradise more than the serpent's
bait, and stayed his mind upon his Creator,
the rewarder of fidelity, he had seen the snare
of the enemy, and resisted him. O do not
delight in that which is forbidden ! look not
upon it, if thou wouldest not be captivated by
it. Bring not the guilt of the sins of know-
ledge upon thy soul. Did Christ submit his
will to his Father's, and, for the joy that was
set before him, endure the cross, and despise
the shame of a new and untrodden way to
glory ? Thou also must submit thy will to
Christ's holy law and light in thy heart, and
for the reward he sets before thee, to Mat,
eternal life, endure his cross, and despise the
shame of it. All desire to rejoice with him,
but few will suffer with him, or for him.
Many are the companions of his table ; not
many of his abstinence. The loaves they
follow, but the cup of his agony they leave.
It is too bitter : they like not to drink thereof
And many will magnify his miracles, who are
offended at the ignominy of his cross. But,
O man ! as he for thy salvation, so thou for
the love of him, must humble thyself, and be
contented to be of no reputation, that thou
mayest follow him ; not in a carnal, formal
way, of vain man's tradition and prescription,
but as the Holy Ghost by the apostle doth ex-
press it, " In the new and living way," which
Jesus hath consecrated, that brings all who
walk in it to the eternal rest of God : where-
into he himself is entered, who is the holy and
only blessed Redeemer.



CHAPTER XIII.

1. Avarice, the second capital lust, its definition
and distinction. 2. It consists in a desire of
unlawful things. 3. As in David's case about
Uriah's wife. 4. Also Ahab's about Naboth's
vineyard. 5. Next, in unlawful desires of law-
ful things. 6. Covetousness is a mark of false
prophets. 7. A reproach to religion. 8. An



enemy to government. 9. Treacherous. 10.
Oppressive. 11. Judas an example. 12. So
Simon Magus. 13. Lastly, in unprofitable
hoarding of money. 14. The covetous man a
common evil. 15. His hypocrisy. 16. Gold
his god. 17. He is sparing to death. 18. la
reproved by Christ and his followers. 19. Ana-
nias and Sapphira's sin and judgment. 20.
William Tindal's discourse on that subject
referred to. 21. Peter Charron's testimony
against it. 22. Abraham Cowley's witty and
sharp satire upon it.

1 . I AM come to the second part of this dis-
course, which is avarice, or covetousness, an
epidemical and a raging distemper in the
world, attended with all the mischiefs that can
make men miserable in themselves, and in so-
ciety. It is so near a-kin to the foregoing
evil, pride, that they are seldom apart ; libe-
rality being almost as hateful to the proud as
to the covetous. I shall define it thus: Covet-
ousness is the love of money or riches,
" which" as the apostle hath it, " is the root of
all evil." It brancheth itself into these three
parts. First, Desiring of unlawful things.
Secondly, Unlawfully desiring of lawful things.
And lastly. Hoarding up, or unprofitably with-
holding the benefit of them from the relief of
private persons, or the public. I shall first
deliver the sense of Scripture, and what ex-
amples are therein afforded against this im-
piety ; and next, my own reasons, with some
authorities of credit; by which it will appear,
that the working of the love of riches out of
the hearts of people, is as much the business
of the cross of Christ, as the rooting out of
any one sin that man is fallen into.

2. And first, of desiring or coveting unlaw-
ful things. It is expressly forbidden by God
himself in the law he delivered to Moses upon
Mount Sinai, for a rule to his people, the Jews,
to walk by : "Thou shalt not covet thy neigh-
bour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neigh-
bour's wife, nor his man-servant, nor his maid-
servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything
that is thy neighbour's." This, God confirmed
by thunderings and lightnings, and other sen-
sible solemnities, to strike the people with more
awe in receiving and keeping it, and to make
the breach of these moral precepts more terri-
ble to them. Micah complains in his time,
" They covet fields and take them by violence,"
but their end was misery. Therefore was it
said of old, " Woe to them that covet an evil
covetousness :" this is to our point. We have
many remarkable instances of this in Scrip-
ture ; two of which I shall briefly report.

3. David, though otherwise a good man, by
un watchfulness is taken ; the beauty of Uriah's



NO CROSS, NO CROWN.



247



wife was too hard for him, being disarmed,
and off from his spiritual watch. There was
no dissuasive would do. Uriah must be put
on a desperate service, where it was great
odds if he survived it. This was to hasten
the unlawful satisfaction of his desires by a
way that looked not like direct murder. The
contrivance took : Uriah is killed, and his wife
is quickly David's. This interpreted David's
covetousness. But went it off so? No. "His
pleasure soon turned to anguish and bitterness
of spirit : his soul was overwhelmed with sor-
row : the waves went over his head : he was
consumed within him : he stuck in the mii'e
and clay ; he cried, he wept ; yea, his eyes
were as a fountain of tears. Guiltiness was
upon him, and he must be purged ; his sins
washed white as snow, that were as red as
crimson, or he is undone for ever." His re-
pentance prevailed : behold, what work this
part of covetousness makes ! what evil, what
sorrow ! O that the people of this covetous-
ness would let the sense of David's sorrows
sink deep into their souls, that they might
come to David's salvation ! " Restore me,"
saith that good man : it seems he once knew
a better state : yes, and this may teach the
better sort to fear, and stand in awe too, lest
they sin, and fall. For David was taken at a
disadvantage: he was off his watch, and gone
from the cross : the law was not his lamp and
light, at that instant: he was a wanderer from
his safety, his strong tower, and so surprised:
then and there it was the enemy met him, and
vanquished him.

4. The second instance is that of Naboth's
vineyard : it was coveted by Ahab and Jezebel :
that which led them to such an unlawful de-
sire, found means to accomplish it. Naboth
must die, for he would not sell it. To do it,
they accuse the innocent man of blasphemy,
and find two knights of the post, sons of Belial,
to evidence against him. Thus, in the name
of God, and in a show of pure zeal to his
glory, Naboth must die, and accordingly was
stoned to death. The news coming to Jezebel,
she bid Ahab arise and take possession, for
Naboth was dead : but God followed both of
them with his fierce vengeance. " In the place
where the dogs licked the blood of Naboth,"
saith Elijah in the name of the Lord, " shall
dogs lick thy blood : even thine, and I will
bring evil upon thee, and take away thy pos-
terity :" and of Jezebel, his wife and partner
in this covetousness and murder, he adds "the
dogs shall eat her flesh by the walls of Jezreel."
Here is the infamy and punishment due to this
part of covetousness. Let this deter those
who desire unlawful things, the rights of
others : for God, who is just, will certainly
repay such with interest in the end. But per-



haps these are few ; either that they do not,
or dare not show it, because the law will bite,
if they do. But the next part hath company
enough, who will yet exclaim against the
iniquity of this part of covetousness ; and by
their seeming abhorrence of it, would excuse
themselves of all guilt in the rest : let us con-
sider that.

5. The next and most common part of
covetousness is, the unlawful desire of lawful
things; especially of riches. Money is lawful,
but " the love of it is the root of all evil," if
the man of God say true. So riches are law-
ful ; but they that pursue them, " fall into
divers temptations, snares and lusts ;" if the
same good man say right. He calls them
"uncertain," to show their folly and danger,
who set their hearts upon them. Covetousness
is hateful to God : he hath denounced great
judgments upon those that are guilty of it.
God charged it on Israel of old, as one of the
reasons of his judgments : " For the iniquity
of his covetousness was I wroth, and smote
him." In another place, "Every one is given
to covetousness ; and from the prophet to the
priest, every one dealeth falsely ; therefore will
I give their wives unto others, and their fields
to them that shall inherit them." In another
place, God complained thus : " But thine eyes
and thy heart are not but for thy covetousness."
By Ezekiel, God renews and repeats his com-
plaint against their covetousness : " and they
come to thee as the people cometh, and sit be-
fore thee as my people: they hear thy words,
but will not do them ; with their mouths they
show much love, but their hearts go after
covetousness." Therefore God, in the choice
of magistrates, made it part of their qualifica-
tion, to hate covetousness; foreseeing the mis-
chief that would follow to that society or
government where covetous men were in
power ; that self would bias them, and they
would seek their own ends at the cost of the
public. David desired, "that his heart might
not incline to covetousness, but to the testimo-
nies of his God." The wise man expressly
tells us, that, " He that hateth covetousness,
shall prolong his days;" making a curse to
follow it. it is by Luke charged upon the
Pharisees, as a mark of their wickedness;
and Christ, in that evangelist, bids his follow-
ers "take heed and beware of covetousness;"
giving a reason for it, that carrieth a most ex-
cellent instruction in it ; " for (saith he) a
man's life consisteth not in the abundance of
the things which he possesseth." But he goeth
farther ; and joins covetousness with adultery,
murder and blasphemy. No wonder then if
the apostle Paul is so liberal in his censure of
this evil : he placeth it with all unrighteous-
ness, to the Romans: to the Ephesians he



248



NO CROSS, NO CROWN.



writelh the like; and addeth, "Let not covet-
ousness be so much as named among you ;"
he bids the Colossians, " mortify their mem-
bers;" and names several sins, as fornication,
uncleanness, and such Uke, but ends with
covetousness ; with this at the tail of it, which
is idolatry. And we know there is not a
greater offence against God : nay, this very
apostle calls " the love of money the root of
all evil ; which whilst some have coveted after,
they have erred from the faith, and pierced
themselves through with divers sorrows : for
they that will be rich, fall into temptation,
and a snare, and many foolish and hurtful
lusts. O man of God," saith he to his be-
loved friend Timothy, " flee these things, and
follow after righteousness, faith, love, patience,
and meekness."

6. Peter was of the same mind ; for he
maketh covetousness to be one of the great
marks of the false prophets and teachers, that
should arise among the Christians ; by which
they might know them ; " Who (saith he)
through covetousness, shall, with feigned
words, make merchandize of you." To con-
clude, the author to the Hebrews, at the end
of his epistle, leaves this, with other things,
with great zeal and weight upon them : " Let
your conversation be without covetousness."
He rests not in this generality, but goes on,
"and be content with such things as you have;
for God hath said, I will never leave thee, nor
forsake thee." What then? Must we conclude
that those who are not content, but seek to be
rich, have forsaken God ? The conclusion
seems hard ; but yet it is natural. For such,
it is plain, are not content with what they
have ; they would have more ; they covet to
be rich, if they may; they live not with those
dependencies and regards to Providence, to
which they are exhorted ; nor is godliness,
with content, great gain to them.

7. Truly it is a reproach to a man, es-
pecially the religious man, that he knows not
when he hath enough ; or when to leave off;
and be satisfied. That notwithstanding God
sends him one plentiful season of gain after
another, he is so far from making that the
cause of withdrawing from the traffic of the
world, that he makes it a reason of launching
farther into it ; as if the more he hath, the
more he may have. He therefore reneweth
his appetite, bestirs himself more than ever,
that he may have his share in the scramble,
while anything is to be got. This is as if
cumber, not retirement; and gain, not content,
were the duty and comfort of a Christian. O !
that this thing was better considered : for by
not being so observable nor obnoxious to the
law as other vices are, there is the more dan-
ger, for want of that check. It is plain that



most people strive not for substance, but
wealth. Some there be who love it strongly,
and spend it liberally, when they have got it.
Though this be sinful, yet more commendable
than to love money for money's sake. This
is one of the basest passions the mind of man
can be captivated with : a perfect lust ; and a
greater, and more soul-defiling one there is
not in the whole catalogue of concupiscence.
This considered, should quicken people into a
serious examination, how far this temptation
of love of money hath entered them ; and the
rather, because the steps it maketh into the
mind are almost insensible, which renders the
danger greater.

Thousands think themselves unconcerned
in the caution, who yet are perfectly guilty of
the evil. How can it be otherwise, when those
that have, from a low condition, acquired thou-
sands, labour yet to advance, yea, double and
treble those thousands ; and that with the same
care and contrivance by which they got them.
Is this to live comfortably, or to be rich ? Do
we not see how early they rise ; how late they
go to bed ? how full of the exchange, the shop,
the ware-house, the custom-house ; of bills,
bonds, charter-parties, &c. they are? running
up and down, as if it were to save the life of
a conde"mned innocent. An insatiable lust,
and therein ungrateful to God, as well as
hurtful to men ; who giveth it to them to use,
and not to love : this is the abuse. And if



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 54 of 105)