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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this care, contrivance and industry, and that
continually, be not from the love of money,
in those who have ten times more than they
began with, and much more than they spend
or need, I know not what testimony a man
can give of his love to anything.

8. To conclude. It is an enemy to govern-
ment in magistrates; for it tends to corruption.
Wherefore those that God ordained, were such
as feared him, and hated covetousness. Next,
it hurts society; for old traders keep the young
ones poor : and the great reason why some
have too little, and so are forced to drudge
like slaves to feed their families, and keep
their chin above water, is, because the rich
hold fast, and press to be richer, and covet
more, which dries up the little streams of
profit from smaller folks. There should be
a standard, both as to the value and time of
traffic ; and then the trade of the master to
be shared among his servants who deserve
it. This were both to help the young to get
their livelihood, and to give the old, time to
think of leaving this world well, in which they
have been so busy; that they might obtain a
share in the other, of which they have been so

9. There is yet another mischief to govern-
ment; for covetousness leads men to abuse and



defraud it, by concealing or falsifjdng the goods
they deal in : as bringing in forbidden goods
by stealth, or lawful goods, so as to avoid the
payment of dues, or owning the goods of ene-
mies for gain ; or that they are not well made,
or full measure ; with abundance of that sort
of deceit.

10. Covetousness has caused destructive
feuds in families ; for estates falling into the
hands of those, whose avarice has put them
upon drawing greater profit to themselves than
was consistent with justice, has given birth to
much trouble, and caused great oppression.
It too often falling out, that such executors
have kept the right owners out of possession
with the money they should pay them.

11. But this is not all ; for covetousness
betrays friendship : a bribe cannot be better
placed to do an ill thing, or undo a man. Nay,
it is a murderer too often, both of soul and
body : of the soul, because it kills that life it
should have in God ; where money masters
the mind, it extinguishes all love to better
things : of the body, for it will kill for mioney,
by assassinations, poisons, false witness, &c.
T shall end this head of covetousness, with the
sin and doom of two covetous men, Judas and
Simon Magus.

Judas's religion fell in thorny ground: love
of money choked it. Pride and anger in
the Jews endeavoured to murder Christ ; but
till covetousness set her hand to effect it, they
were all at a loss. They found Judas had the
bag, and probably loved money ; they would
therefore try him, and did. The price was set,
and Judas betrays his Master, his Lord, who
never did him wi'ong, into the hands of his
most cruel adversaries. But to do him right,
he returned the money, and to be revenged of
himself, was his own hangman. A wicked
act, a wicked end. Come on you covetous !
"What say ye now to brother Judas? W^as he
not an ill man? Did he not very wickedly?
Yes, yes. Would you have done so? No, no,
by no means. Very well ; but so said those
evil Jews of stoning the prophets, and who yet
crucified the beloved Son of God ; he that
came to save them, and would have done it,
if they had received him, and not rejected the
day of their visitation. Rub your eyes well,
for the dust is got into them ; and carefully
read in your own consciences, and see, if, out
of love to money, you have not betrayed the
just One in yourselves, and so are brethren
with Judas in iniquity. I speak for God
against an idol ; bear with me : have you not
resisted, yea, quenched many times the good
spirit of Christ, in your pursuit after your be-
loved wealth? "Examine yourselves, try your-
selves ; know ye not your own selves, that if
Christ dwell not, (if he rule not, and be not

Vol. I.— No. 7.

above all beloved) in you, ye are reprobates;"
in an undone condition ?

12. The other covetous man is Simon
Magus, a believer too ; but his faith could not
go deep enough for covetousness. He would
have driven a bargain with Peter, so much
money for so much Holy Ghost; that he
might sell it again, and make a good trade of
it ; corruptly measuring Peter by himself, as
if he had only a better knack of cozening the
people than himself, who set up in Samaria
for the great power of God, before the power
of God in Philip and Peter undeceived the
people. But what was Peter's answer and
judgment ? " Thy money perish with thee :
thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter :
thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the
bond of iniquity :" a dismal sentence.

Besides, it tends to luxury, and rises often
out of it : for from having much they spend
much, and so become poor by luxury : such
are covetous to get, to spend more, which
temperance would prevent. For if men would
not, or could not, by good laws well executed,
and a better education, be so lavish in their
tables, houses, furniture, apparel, and gaming,
there would be no such temptation to covet
earnestly after what they could not spend: for
there is but here and there a miser who loves
money for money's sake :

13. This leads to the last and basest part
of covetousness, which is yet the most sordid;
to wit, hoarding up, or keeping money un-
profitably, both to others and themselves too.
This is Solomon's miser, " that makes himself
rich, and hath nothing:" a great sin in the
sight of God. He complained of. such as
had stored up the labours of the poor in their
houses ;• he calls it their spoils, and that it is
grinding the poor, because they see it not
again. But he blesseth those who consider
the poor, and commandeth every one, " to
open freely to his brother who is in need ;"
not only he that is spiritually, but naturally
so; and, not to withhold his gift from the
poor. The apostle chargeth Timothy in the
sight of God, and before Jesus Christ, " that
he fail not to charge them that are rich in
this world, that they trust not in their un-
certain riches, but in the living God, who
giveth liberally ; and that they do good with
them, that they may be rich in good works."

Riches are apt to corrupt ; and that which
keeps them sweet and best, is charity. He
who uses them not, gets them not for the end
for which they are given ; but loves them for
themselves, and not their service. The ava-
ricious is poor in his wealth : he wants for fear
of spending, and increases his fear wdth his
hope, which is his gain, and so tortures him-
self with his pleasure. Pie is the most like



the man that hid his talent in a napkin, of
all others ; for this man's talents are hid in
his bags, out of sight, in vaults, under boards,
behind wainscots ; else upon bonds and mort-
gages, growing only under ground; for it doth
good to none.

14. This covetous man is a monster in na-
ture ; for he has no bowels ; and is, like the
poles, always cold. An enemy to the state,
for he spirits their money away. A disease
to the body politic, for he obstructs the cir-
culation of the blood, and ought to be removed
by a purge of the law : for these are vices at
heart, that destroy by wholesale. The covet-
ous hates all useful arts and sciences, as vain,
lest they should cost him something for learn-
ing : wherefore ingenuity has no more place
in his mind, than in his pocket. He lets
houses fall, to prevent the charge of repairs.
His spare diet, plain clothes, and mean fur-
niture, he would place to the account of
moderation. O monster of a man ! that can
take up the cross for covetousness, and not for

15. But he pretends negatively to some re-
ligion too ; for he always rails at prodigality,
the better to cover his avarice. If you would
bestow a box of spikenard on a good man's
head ; to save money, and to seem righteous,
he tells you of the poor. If the poor come,
he excuses his want of charity with the un-
worthiness of the object, or the causes of his
poverty, or that he can bestow his money
upon those who deserve it better ; but rarely
opens his purse till quarter-day, for fear of
losing it.

16. He is more miserable than the poorest;
for he enjoys not what he yet fears to lose ;
they fear not what they do not enjoy. Thus
is he poor by overvaluing his wealth ; he is
wretched, that hungers with money in a cook's
shop: yet having made a god of his gold, who
knows, but he thinks it unnatural to eat what
he worships ?

17. What aggravates this sin is, as I have
myself once known, that to get money, some
have wearied themselves into the grave ; and
to be true to their principle, when sick, would
not spare a fee to a doctor, to help the poor
slave to live ; and so died to save charges : a
constancy that canonizes them martyrs for

18. Let us now see what instances the
Scripture will give us in reproof of the sordid
hoarders and hiders of money. A goodly
young man came to Christ, and inquired the
way to eternal life ; Christ told him he knew
the commandments : he replied, he had kept
them from his youth ; it seems he was no loose
person, and indeed such are usually not so, to
save charges ; " and yet lackest thou one thing

(saith Christ) sell all, distribute it to the poor,
and thou shall have ti'easure in heaven, and
come and follow me." It seems Christ pinched
him in the sore place ; he hit the mark, and
struck him to the heart, who knew his heart :
by this he tried how well he had kept the
commandment, to love God above all. It is
said, the young man was very sorrowful, and
went his way; and the reason, which is given
is, that he was very rich. The tides met,
money and eternal life: contrary desires; and
which prevailed? alas! his riches. What said
Christ to this ? " How hardly shall they that
have riches enter into the kingdom of God ?"
He adds, " It is easier for a camel to go
through a needle's eye, than for a rich man,
to enter into the kingdom of heaven:" that is,
such a rich man, to wit, a covetous rich man,
to whom it is hard to do good with what he
has : It is more than an ordinary miracle : O
who then would be rich and covetous ! It was
upon these rich men that Christ pronounced
his woe, saying, " Woe unto you that are
rich, for ye have received your consolation
here :" What ! none in the heavens ? no, un-
less you become willing to be poor men, can
resign all, live loose to the world, have it at
arm's-end, yea, underfoot, a servant, and not
a master.

19. The other instance is a very dismal one
too : it is that of Ananias and Sapphira. In
the beginning of apostolic times, it was cus-
tomary for those who received the word of
life, to bring what substance they had, and lay
it at the apostles' feet : of these, Joses, sur-
named Barnabas, was exemplary. Among
the rest, Ananias and his wife Sapphira, con-
fesssing to the truth, sold their possession, but
covetously reserved some of the purchase-
money from the common purse, to themselves,
and brought a part for the whole, and laid it
at the apostles' feet. But Peter, a plain and a
bold man, in the majesty of the spirit, said,
" Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart
to lie to the Holy Ghost ; and to keep back
part of the price of the land 1 Whilst it re-
mained, was it not thine own? and after it
was sold, was it not in thine own power ?
V/hy hast thou conceived this thing in thine
heart ? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto
God." But what followed this covetousness
and hypocrisy of Ananias? Ananias heai'ing
these " words fell down, and gave up the
ghost." The like befel his wife, being privy
to the deceit to which their avarice had led
them. And it is said, that " great fear came
upon all the chui'ch, and those that heard of
these things :" and also should on those that
now read them. For if this judgment was
shown and recorded, that we should beware
of the like evils, what will become of those,



who under the profession of Christianity, a
religion that teaches men to live loose from
the world, and to yield up all to the will and
service of Christ and his kingdom, not only
retain a part, but all ; and cannot part with
the least thing for Christ's sake. I beseech
God to incline the hearts of my readers to
weigh these things. This had not befallen
Ananias and Sapphira, if they had acted as in
God's presence, and with that entire love, truth
and sincerity, that became them. Oh that
people would use the light that Christ hath
given them, to search and see how far they
are under the power of this iniquity ! For if
they would watch against the love of the
world, and be less in bondage to the things
that are seen, which are temporal, they would
begin to set their hearts on things above, that
are of an eternal nature. Their life would be
hid with Christ in God, out of the reach of all
the uncertainties of time, and troubles and
changes of mortality. Nay, if people would
but consider how hardly riches are got, how
uncertainly they are kept, the envy they bring ;
that they can neither make a man wise, nor
cure diseases, nor add to life, much less give
peace in death : no, nor hardly yield any solid
benefit above food and raiment, which may be
had without them, and that if there be any
good use for them, it is to relieve others in dis-
tress ; being but stewards of the plentiful
providences of God, and consequently ac-
countable for our stewardship: if, I say, these
considerations had any room in our minds, we
should not thus haste to get, nor care to hide
and keep, such a mean and impotent thing.

that the cross of Christ, which is the spirit
and power of God in man, might have more
place in the soul, that it might crucify us, more
and more, to the world and the world to us ;
that, like the days of paradise, the earth might
again be the footstool; and the treasures of the
earth a servant, and not a god, to man ! — Many
have written against this vice; three of whom

1 will mention. —

20. William Tindal, that worthy apostle of
the English reformation, has an entire dis-
course, to which I refer the reader, entitled,
" The Parable of the Wicked Mammon." The
next is —

21. Peter Charron, a famous Frenchman,
and in particular for the book he wrote of
Wisdom, hath a chapter against covetousness ;
part of which is as followeth : " To love and
affect riches, is covetousness : not only the
love and affection, but also every over-curious
care and industry about riches. The desire
of goods, and the pleasure we take in possess-
ing them, is grounded only upon opinion.
The immoderate desire to get riches, is a gan-
grene in our souls, which, with a venomous

heat, consumeth our natural affections, to the
end it might fill us with virulent humours. So
soon as it is lodged in our hearts, all honest
and natural affection, which we owe, either to
our parents or friends, or ourselves, vanisheth
away. All the rest, in respect of our profit,
seemeth nothing ; yea, we forget in the end,
and condemn ourselves, our bodies, our minds,
for this transitory trash ; and as our proverb
is. We sell our horse to get us hay. Covet-
ousness is the vile and base passion of vulo-ar
fools, who account riches the principal good
of a man, and fear poverty as the greatest
evil ; and not contenting themselves with ne-
cessary means, which are forbidden to no man,
weigh that which is good in a goldsmith's bal-
ance, when nature has taught us to measure it
by the ell of necessity. For, what greater
folly can there be, than to adore that which
nature itself hath put under our feet, and hid-
den in the bowels of the earth, as unworthy to
be seen ; yea, rather to be contemned, and
trampled under foot 1 This is that which the
sin of man hath only torn out of the entrails
of the earth, and brought unto light, to kill
himself We dig out the bowels of the earth,
and bring to light those things, for which we
would fight : We are not ashamed to esteem
those things most highly, which are in the
lowest parts of the earth. Nature seemeth,
even in the first birth of gold, to have presaged
the misery of those that are in love with it ;
for it hath so ordered the matter, that in those
countries where it groweth, there groweth with
it neither grass, nor plant, nor other thing that
is worth anything: as giving us to understand
thereby, that, in those minds where the desire
for this metal groweth, there cannot remain so
much as a spark of true honour and virtue.
For what thing can be more base, than for a
man to degrade, and to make himself a serv-
ant, and a slave, to that which should be sub-
ject unto him? Riches serve wise men, but
command a fool. A covetous man serveth his
riches, and not they him : and he is said to
have goods as he hath a fever, which holdeth
and tyranniseth over a man, not he over it.
What thing more vile, than to love that which
is not good, neither can make a good man?
yea, is common, and in the possession of the
most wicked in the world; which many times
perverts good manners, but never amends
them? without which, so many wise men have
made themselves happy, and by which so
many wicked men have come to a wicked end.
To be brief; what thing more miserable, than
to bind the living to the dead, as Mezentius
did, to the end their death might be languish-
ing, and the more cruel ; to tie the spirit unto
the scum of the earth, to pierce through his
own soul with a thousand torments, which



this passion of riches brings with it ; and to
entangle himself with the ties and cords of
this malignant thing, as the Scripture calls
them ? which doth likewise term them thorns
and thieves, which steal away the heart of
man ; snares of the devil, idolatry and the
root of all evil. And truly, he that shall see
the catalogue of those envies and molestations,
which riches engender in the heart of man, as
their proper thunderbolt and lightning, they
would be more hated than they are now loved.
Poverty wants many things, but covetousness
all: a covetous man is good to none, but worse
to himself." My next testimony is yielded
by an author not unlikely to take with some
sort of people for his wit ; may they equally
value his moi'ality, and the judgment of his
riper time.

22. Abraham Cowley, a witty and ingenious
man, writeth thus: "There are two sorts of
avarice; the one is a rapacious appetite of
gain; not for its own sake, but for the pleasure
of refunding it immediately through all the
channels of pride and luxury. The other is
the true kind, and properly so called, which
is a restless and insatiable desire of riches,
not for any farther end or use, but only to
hoard and preserve, and perpetually increase
them. The covetous man of the first kind is
like a greedy ostrich, which devoureth any
metal, but it is with an intent to feed upon it,
and in effect it maketh a shift to digest and
excern it. The second is like the foolish
chough, which loveth to steal money, only to
hide it. The first doth much harm to man-
kind, and a little good to some few: the second
doth good to none, no, not to himself. The
first can make no excuse to God or angels, or
rational men, for his actions : the second can
give no reason or colour, not to the devil him-
self, for what he doth : he is a slave to mam-
mon without wages. The first maketh a shift
to be beloved, ay, and envied too, by some
people : the second is the universal object of
hatred and contempt. There is no vice hath
been so pelted with good sentences, and es-
pecially by the poets, who have pursued it
with satires, and fables, and allegories, and
allusions, and moved (as we say) every stone
to sling at it : among all which, I do not re-
member a more fine correction, than that
which was given it by one line of Ovid's :

" Multa

Luxuriae defunt, omnia avaritiae."

Which is. Much is wanting to luxury, All to
avarice. To which saying I have a mind to
add one member, and render it thus : Poverty
wants some, luxury many, avarice all things.
Somebody saith of a virtuous and wise man,
that having nothing, he hath all. This is

just his antipode, who having all things, yet
hath nothing.

" And oh ! what man's condition can be worse,
Than his, whom plenty starves, and blessings

curse ']
The beggars but a common fate deplore ;
The rich-poor man's emphatically poor.

" I wonder how it cometh to pass, that there
hath never been any law made against him :
against him, do I say ? I mean, for him. As
there are public provisions made for all other
mad-men, it is very reasonable that the king
should appoint some persons to manage his
estate during his life; (for his heirs commonly
need not that care) and out of it to make it
their business to see, that he should not want
alimony befitting his condition ; which he
could never get out of his own cruel fingers.
We relieve idle vagrants and counterfeit
beggars, but have no care at all of these
really poor men, who are, methinks, to be re-
spectfully treated, in regard of their quality.
I might be endless against them ; but I am
almost choked with the superabundance of
the matter. Too much plenty impoverisheth
me, as it doth them." Thus much against
avarice, that moth of the soul, and canker of
the mind.

1. Luxury, what it is, and the mischief of it to
mankind. An enemy to the ci'oss of Christ.
2. Of luxury in diet, how unlike Christ, and
contrary to Scripture. 3. The mischief it does
to the bodies, as well as minds of people. 4.
Of luxury in the excess of apparel, and of re-
creations ; that sin brought the first coat : peo-
ple not to be proud of the badge of their misery.
5. The recreations of the times enemies to vir-
tue : they rise from degeneracy. 6. The end
of clothes allowable ; the abuse reprehended.
7. The chiefest recreation of good men of old,
was to serve God and do good to mankind, and
follow honest vocations, not vain sports and
pastimes. 8. The heathens knew and did
better things. The sobriety of infidels above
Christians. 9. Luxury condemned in the case
of Dives. 10. The doctrine of the Scripture
positively against a voluptuous life.

1. I AM now come to the other exti'eme, and
that is luxury, which is, an excessive indul-
gence of self in ease and pleasure. This is
the last great impiety struck at in this dis-
course of the holy cross of Christ, which in-
deed is much of the subject of its mortifying
virtue and power. It is a disease as epidemi-
cal as killing. It creeps into all stations and



ranks of men ; the poorest often exceeding
their ability to indulge their appetite ; and the
rich frequently wallowing in those things that
please the lusts of their eye and flesh, and the
pride of life ; as regardless of the severe dis-
cipline of Jesus, whom they call Saviour, as
if luxury, and not the cross, were the ordained
way to heaven. " What shall we eat, what
shall we drink, and what shall we put on'.'"
once the care of luxurious heathens, is now
the practice, and which is worse, the study, of
pretended Christians. But let such be ashamed,
and repent; remembering that Jesus did not re-
proach the Gentiles for those things to indulge
his followers in them. They that will have
Christ to be theirs, must be sure to be his, to
be like-minded, to live in temperance and
moderation, as knowing the Lord is at hand.
Sumptuous apparel, rich unguents, delicate
washes, stately furniture, costly cookery, and
such diversions as balls, masques, music-
meetings, plays, romances, &c. which are
the delight and entertainment of the times,
belong not to the holy path which Jesus and
his true disciples and followers trod to glory:
no, " through many tribulations," says none
of the least of them, " must we enter into the
kingdom of God." I do earnestly beseech the
gay and luxurious, into whose hands this dis-
course shall be directed, to consider well the
reasons and examples here advanced against
their way of living ; if haply they may come
to see how remote it is from true Christianity,
and how dangerous to their eternal peace.
God Almighty, by his grace, soften their
hearts to instruction, and shed abroad his
tender love in their souls, that they may be
overcome to I'epentance, and to the love of the
holy way of the cross of Jesus, the blessed
Redeemer of men. For they cannot think
that he can benefit them, while they refuse
to lay down their sins for the love of him
who laid down his life for the love of them ;

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 55 of 105)