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William Evans.

The Friends' library : comprising journals, doctrinal treatises, and other writings of members of the religious Society of Friends (Volume 1) online

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fice, that I will punish the princes, and the
king's children, and all such as are clothed
with strange apparel." Of how evil conse-
quence was it in those times, for the greatest
men to give themselves the liberty of follow-
ing the vain customs of other nations ; or of
changing the usual end of clothes, or apparel,
to gratify foolish curiosity ?

2. This did the Lord Jesus Christ expressly
charge his disciples not to be careful about ;
intimating that such as were, could not be his
disciples : for, says he, " Take no thought,
saying, what shall we eat ? or what shalfwe
drink ? or wherewithal shall we be clothed ?
(for after all these things do the Gentiles seek)
for your heavenly Father knoweth that you
have need of all these things ; but seek' ye
first the kingdom of God, and his righteous-
ness, and all these things shall be added unto
you." Under eating, and drinking, and appa-
33



258



NO CROSS, NO CROWN.



rel, he comprehends all external things what-
soever; and so much appears, as well because
they are opposed to the kingdom of God and
his righteousness, which are invisible and
heavenly things, as that those very matters
he enjoins them not to be careful about, are
the most necessary and the most innocent in
themselves. If then, in such cases, the minds
of his disciples were not to be solicitous, much
less in foolish, superstitious, idle inventions, to
gratify the carnal appetites and minds of men;
so certain it is, that those who live therein, are
none of his followers, but Gentiles ; and (as
is elsewhere said) " the nations of the world
who know not God." If then the distinguish-
ing mark between the disciples of Jesus and
those of the world, is, that one minds the
things of heaven, and God's kingdom, that
" stands in righteousness, peace, and joy in
the Holy Ghost," being not careful of external
matters, even the most innocent and necessary,
and that the other minds eating, drinking, ap-
parel, and the affairs of the world, with the
lusts, pleasures, profits, and honours that be-
long to it ; be you entreated for your souls
sakes, O inhabitants of England, to be serious,
to reflect a while upon yourselves, what care
and cost you are at, of time and money, about
foolish, nay, vicious things : so far are you
degenerated from the primitive Christian life.
What buying and selling, what dealing and
chaffering, what writing and posting, what toil
and labour, what noise, hurry, bustle, and con-
fusion, what study, what little contrivances and
over-reachings; what eating, drinking, vanity
of apparel, most ridiculous recreations ; in
short, what rising early, going to bed late,
and expense of precious time, is there about
things that perish? View the streets, shops,
exchanges, plays, parks, coffee-houses, &c.
Is not the world, this fading world, written
upon every face ? Say not within yourselves,
How otherwise should men live, and the world
subsist? a common, though frivolous objec-
tion : There is enough for all ; let some con-
tent themselves with less ; a few things plain
and decent serve a Christian life. It is lust,
pride, avarice, that thrust men upon such
folly : Were God's kingdom more the exer-
cise of their minds, these perishing entertain-
ments would have but little of their time or
thoughts.

3. This self-denying doctrine was confirmed
and enforced by the apostles in their example,
as we have already shown ; and in their pre-
cepts too, as we shall evince in those two
most remarkable passages of Paul and Peter;
where they do not only tell us what should be
done, but also, what should be denied and
avoided. "In like manner I will that women
adorn themselves in modest apparel : (what is



that?) with shame-facedness and sobriety; not
with broidered hair, or gold, or pearls, or
costly array, [then it seems these are im-
modest] but, which becometh women profess-
ing godliness, with good works :" absolutely
implying, that, those who attire themselves
with gold, silver, broidered hair, pearls, or
costly array, cannot in so doing be women
professing godliness ; making those very things
to be contrary to modesty and what is good ;
and consequently that they are evil, and un-
becoming "women professing godliness." To
which the apostle Peter joins another precept
after the like sort, viz. "Whose adorning, let
it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the
hair, and of wearing of gold, or putting on
apparel : (what then ?) but let it be the hidden
man of the heart, in that which is not cor-
ruptible, even the ornament of a meek and
quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of
great price." And as an inducement, he adds,
" for after this manner in the old time, the
holy* women, who so trusted in God, adorned
themselves." Which doth not only intimate,
that holy women were so adorned, and that it
behoves such as would be holy, and trust in
the holy God, to be so adorned; but also, that
they who used those forbidden ornaments, ~
were the women and people in all ages, who
(for all their talk) "were not holy, nor did
trust in God." Such are so far from trusting
in God, that the apostle Paul expressly says,
that " she that liveth in pleasure is dead (to
God) whilst she liveth:" and the same apostle
farther enjoined, " that Christians should have
their conversation in heaven, and their minds
fixed on things above : walk honestly as in
the day, not in rioting and drunkenness, not
in chambering and wantonness, not in envy
and strife. Let not fornication, uncleanness,
or covetousness, be once named amongst you ;
neither filthiness, nor foolish talking or jest-
ing, which are not convenient ; but rather
giving of thanks : and let no corrupt commu-
nication proceed out of your mouth, but that
which is good, to the use of edifying, that it
may minister grace unto the hearers. But
put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no
provision for the flesh, to fulfil the desires
thereof. And grieve not the Holy Spirit ;
(intimating that such conversation doth) but
be ye followers of God, as dear children :
walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise;
redeeming the time, because the days are evil."
4. Measure yourselves by this, O inhabi-
tants of this land, who think yourselves
wronged, if not accounted Christians : see
what proportion your life and spirit bear with



* Note, not a word of men, as if this vanity be-
longed not to the sex ; let them observe that.



NO CROSS, NO CROWN.



259



these most holy and self-denying precepts and
examples. Well, my friends, my soul mourns
for you : I have been with and among you :
your life and pastime are not strangers to my
notice; and with compassion, yea, inexpressi-
ble pity, I bewail your folly. O that you
would be wise ! O that the just One in your-
selves were heard ! O that eternity had time
to plead a little with you ! Why should your
beds, your glasses, your clothes, your tables,
your loves, your plays, your parks, your
treats, your recreations, poor perishing joys,
have all your souls, your time, your care,
your purse, and consideration? Be admonish-
ed, I beseech you, in the name of the living
God, by one who, as some of you know, hath
had his share in these things, and consequently
time to know how little the like vanities con-
duce to true and solid happiness. No, my
friends, God Almighty knows (and would to
God, you would believe and follow me) they
end in shame and sorrow. Faithful is that
most Holy One, who hath determined, that
every man and woman shall reap what they
sow. And will not trouble, anguish, and dis-
appointment, be a sad and dreadful harvest for
you to reap, for all your mis-spent time and
substance about superfluities and vain recrea-
tions? Retire then; quench not the Holy Spirit
in yourselves ; redeem your precious, abused
time ; frequent such conversation as may
help you against your evil inclinations ; so
shall you follow the examples, and keep the
precepts of Jesus Christ, and all his followers.
For hitherto we have plainly demonstrated,
that no such way of living, as is in request
among you of the land, ever was, or can be
truly Christian.

5. The best recreation is to do good : and
all Christian customs tend to temperance, and
some good and beneficial end; which more or
less may be in every action. For instance :
if men and women would be diligent to follow
their respective callings, frequent the assem-
blies of religious people, visit sober neighbours
to be edified, and wicked ones to reform them;
be careful in the tuition of their children, ex-
emplary to their servants, relieve the necessi-
tous, see the sick, visit the imprisoned, admin-
ister to their infirmities and indispositions,
endeavour for peace amongst neighbours :
also study moderately, commendable and pro-
fitable arts, as navigation, arithmetic, geome-
try, husbandry, gardening, handicraft, medi-
cine, 6z;c. And, that women spin, sow, knit,
weave, garden, preserve, and the like house-
wifely and honest employments (the practice
of the greatest and noblest matrons and youth,
among the very heathens) helping others, who,
for want, are unable to keep servants, to ease
them in their necessary affairs ; frequent and



private retirements from all worldly objects,
to enjoy the Lord ; secret and steady medita-
tions on the divine life and heavenly inheri-
tance : which to leave undone, and prosecute
other things, under the notion of recreations,
is accursed lust and damnable impiety. It is
most vain in any to object, that they cannot
do these always, and therefore, why may not
they use these common diversions? For I ask,
what would such be at? what would they do?
and what would they have ? They that have
trades, have not time enough to do the half
of what hath been recommended. And as for
those who have nothing to do, and indeed do
nothing, which is worse, but sin, which is
worst of all, here is variety of pleasant, of
pi'ofitable, nay, of very honourable employ-
ments and diversions for them. Such can
with great delight sit at a play, a ball, a
masque, at cards, dice, &c. drinking, revel-
ing, feasting, and the like, an entire day; yea,
turn night into day, and invert the very order
of the creation, to humour their lusts. And
were it not for eating and sleeping, it would
be past a doubt, whether they would ever find
time to cease from those vain and sinful pas-
times, till the hasty calls of death should sum-
mon their appearance in another world. Yet
they think it intolerable, and hardly possible
for any to sit so long at a profitable or religious
exercise.

6. How do these think to pass their vast
eternity away ? " for as the tree falls, so it
lies." Let none deceive themselves, nor mock
their immortal souls, with a pleasant, but most
false and pernicious dream, that they shall be
changed by a constraining and irresistible
power, just when their souls take leave of
their bodies. No, no, my friends, "what you
sow, that shall you reap:" If you sow vanity,
folly, visible delights, fading pleasures; no
better shall you ever reap Ihan corruption,
sorrow, and the woful anguish of eternal dis-
appointment. But alas ! what is the reason
that the cry is so common. Must we always
doat on these things? Most certainly it is this,
they know not what is the joy and peace of
speaking and acting as in the presence of the
most holy God. This passes such vain under-
standings, darkened with the glories and plea-
sures of the god of this world ; whose religion
is so many mumbled and ignorantly devout-
said words, as they teach parrots. If they
were of those whose hearts are set on things
above, and whose treasure is in heaven, there
would their minds inhabit, and their greatest
pleasure constantly be. Such who call that a
bui-den, and seek to be refreshed by such pas-
times as a play, a morrice-dance, a puncha-
nello, a ball, a masque, cards, dice, or the
like, I am bold to affirm, not only never knew



260



NO CROSS, NO CROWN.



the divine excellency of God, and his truth,
but thereby declare themselves most unfit for
them in another world. For how is it possible
that they can be delighted to eternity, with
that satisfaction which is so tedious and irk-
some for thirty or forty years ; that, for a
supply of recreation to their minds, the little
toys and fopperies of this perishing world
must be brought into practice and request?
Surely, those who are to reckon for every idle
word, must not use sports to pass away the
time, which they are commanded so diligently
to redeem ; considering that no less work is
to be done, than making their " calling and
election sure." Much less must they study to
invent recreations for their vain minds, and
spend the greatest part of their days, and
months, and years therein, not allowing a
quarter of that time toward the great concern-
ment of their lives and souls, for which that
time was given them.

7. There is but little need to drive away
that, by foolish diversions, which flies away
so swiftly of itself; and, when once gone, is
never to be recalled. Plays, parks, balls,
treats, romances, musics, love-sonnets, and
the like, will be a very invalid plea for any
other purpose than their condemnation, who
are taken and delighted with them, at the
revelation of the righteous judgment of God.
O my friends ! these were never invented,
but by that mind which had first lost the joy
and ravishing delights of God's holy presence.

So that we conclude, first, that of those
many excellent employments already men-
tioned, as worthy to possess such minds as
are inclined to these vanities, there is store
enough of time, not only to take up their spare
hours, but double so much, and that with great
delight, diversion, and profit, both to them-
selves and others; were they but once weaned
from vain and fruitless fopperies, and did they
but consider, how great the satisfaction, and
how certain the rewards are, which attend this,
and the other life, for such universal benefits
and virtuous examples.

The second conclusion is, that what is
alleged by me can be displeasing and un-
grateful to none, but such as know not what
it is to walk with God, to prepare for an
eternal mansion, to have the mind exercised
on heavenly and good things, to follow the
examples of the holy men and women of
former happy ages : such as know not Christ's
doctrine, life, death and resurrection, but only
have their minds fastened to the flesh, and by
the objects of it are allured, deceived, and
miserably ruined : and lastly, who despise
heaven and the joys that are not seen, though
eternal, for a few perishing trifles that they do
see, though they are decreed to pass away.



How these are baptized with Christ, into his
holy life, cruel sufferings, shameful death, and
raised with him to immortal desires, heavenly
meditations, a divine, new life, growing into
the knowledge of heavenly mysteries, and all
holiness, even unto the measure of the stature
of Jesus Christ, the great example of all :
how, I say, these resemble most necessary
Christian qualifications, and what share they
have therein, let their consciences tell them,
upon a serious inquiry in the cool of the day.

8. In the next place, such attii'e and pas-
times do not only show the exceeding worldli-
ness of people's incUnations, and their very
great ignorance of the divine joys, but by imi-
tating these fashions, and frequenting these
places and diversions, not only much good is
omitted, but a certain door is opened to much
evil to be committed. As first, precious time,
that were worth a world on a dying bed, is
lost: money, that might be employed for some
general good, vainly expended : pleasure is
taken in mere shame ; lusts are gratified, the
minds of people alienated from heavenly things,
and exercised about mere folly : pride is taken
in clothes, first given to cover nakedness,
whereby the creature is neglected, and the
noble creation of God disregarded, and men
become acceptable by their trims, and the
alamodeness of their dress and apparel: from
whence respect to persons doth so naturally
arise, that for any to deny it, is to affirm the
sun shines not at noon-day : nothing being
more notorious, than the cringing, scraping,
sirring, and madaming of persons, according
to the gaudiness of their attire, which is de-
testable to God, and so absolutely forbidden in
the Scriptures, that to do it, is to break the
whole law, and consequently to incur the
punishment thereof. Next, what great holes
do the like practices make in mens' estates :
how are their vocations neglected ; young
women deluded ; the marriage-bed invaded ;
contentions and family-animosities begotten ;
partings of man and wife ; disinheriting of
children ; dismissing of servants. On the
other hand, servants made slaves, children
disregarded, wives despised and shamefully
abused, through the intemperance of their
husbands ; which either puts them upon the
same extravagance, or, laying such cruel in-
justice to heart, they pine their days in grief
and misery.

But of all these wretched inventions, the
play-houses, like so many hellish seminaries,
do most perniciously conduce to these sad and
miserable ends ; where little besides frothy,
wanton, if not directly obscene and profane
humours, are represented; which are of noto-
rious ill consequence upon the minds of most,
especially the youth that frequent them. And



NO CROSS, NO CROWN.



261



thus it is that idle and debauched stagers
are encouraged and maintained ; than which
scarcely a greater abomination can be thought
on of that rank of impieties, as will anon par-
ticularly be shown; and truly, nothing but the
excessive pleasure people take therein could
blind their eyes from seeing it.

9. But lastly, the grand indisposition of
mind in people to solid, serious, and heavenly
meditations, by the almost continual as well as
pleasant rumination in their minds, of those
various adventures they have been entertained
with, which in the more youthful can never
miss to inflame and animate their boiling and
airy constitutions. And in the rest of the
common recreations of balls, masques, treats,
cards, dice, &c. there are the like opportuni-
ties to promote the like evils. And yet farther;
how many quarrels, animosities, nay murders
too, as well as expense of estate and precious
time, have been the immediate consequences
of the like practices? These wei-e the ways of
the Gentiles that knew not God, but never the
practice of them that feared him : nay, the
more noble among the heathens themselves,
namely, Anaxagoras, Socrates, Plato, Antis-
thenes, Heraclitus, Zeno, Aristides, Cato,
Tully, Epictetus, Seneca, &c. have left their
disgust to these things upon record, as odious
and destructive, not only of the honour of the
immortal God, but of all good order and
government, as leading into looseness, idle-
ness, ignorance and effeminacy, the great
canker, and bane of all states and empires.
But such is the latitudinarian impudence of
this age, that they canonize themselves for
saints, if not guilty of every Newgate-filth,
and kennel-impiety. The pretended inno-
cency of these things steals away their minds
from that which is better into the love of them :
nay, it gives them confidence to plead for them,
and by no means will they think the contrary :
but why? because it is a liberty that feeds the
flesh, and gratifies the lustful eye and palate
of poor mortality : wherefore they think it a
laudable condition to be no better than the
beast that eats and drinks but what his nature
doth require, although the number is very
small of such ; so very exorbitant are men
and women grown in this present age. For
either they do believe their actions are to be
ruled by their own wills; or else, at best, that
not to be stained with the vilest wickedness is
matter of great boasting : and indeed it is so,
in a time when nothing is too wicked to be
done. But certainly, it is a sign of universal
impiety in a land, when not to be guilty of
sins, which the very heathens loathed, is to
be virtuous, yes, and Christian too, and that
to no small degree of reputation : a dismal
symptom to a country ! But is it not to be



greatly blinded, that those we call infidels
should detest those practices as infamous,
which people, who call themselves Christians,
cannot or will not see to be such, but gild
them over with the fair titles of ornaments,
decency, recreation, and the like. My friends,
if there were no God, no heaven, no hell, no
holy examples, no Jesus Christ, who in cross,
doctrine and life is to be conformed unto ; yet
would charity to the poor, help to the needy,
peace among neighbours, visits to the sick,
care of the widow and fatherless, with the
I'est of those temporal good oflices already re-
peated, be a nobler employment, and much
more worthy of your expense and pains. Nor
indeed is it to be conceived, that the way to
glory is smoothed with such variety of carnal
pleasures ; for then conviction, a wounded
spirit, a broken heart, a regenerate mind, in
a word, immortality would prove as mere
fictions as some make them, and others there-
fore think them : no, these practices are for
ever to be extinguished, and expelled all
Christian society. For I affirm, that to one
who internally knows God, and hath a sense
of his blessed presence, all such recreations
are death ; yea, more dangerously evil, and
more apt to steal away the mind from the
heavenly exercise, than grosser impieties.
For these are so big, they are plainly seen;
so dirty that they are easily detected : educa-
tion and common temperance, as well as con-
stitution in many, teach us to abhor them ;
and if they should be committed, they carry
with them a proportional conviction. But
these pretended innocents, these supposed
harmless satisfactions, are more surprising,
more destructive ; for as they easily gain an
admission by the senses, so the more they
pretend to innocency, the more they secure
the minds of people in the common use of
them ; till they become so insensible of their
evil consequences, that with a mighty confi-
dence they can plead for them.

10. But as this is plainly not to deny them-
selves, but, on the contrary, to employ the
vain inventions of carnal men and women to
gratify the desire of the eye, the desire of the
flesh, and the pride of life ; all which exercise
the mind below the divine and only true plea-
sure, (or else, tell me what does?) so, be it
known to such, that the heavenly life and
Chi'istian joys are of another kind, as hath
already been expressed. The true disciples
of the Lord Christ must be hereunto crucified,
as to objects and employments which attract
downwards, and their affections raised to a
more sublime and spiritual conversation, to
use this world, even in its most innocent en-
joyments, as if they used it not. If they take
pleasure in anything below, it should be in



262



NO CROSS, NO CROWN.



such good offices as beforementioned ; where-
by a benefit may redound in some respect to
others : in which God is honoured over all
visible things, the nation relieved, the govern-
ment bettered, themselves rendered exemplary
of good, and thereby entitled to present hap-
piness and a sweet memorial with posterity,
as well as to a seat at his right hand, where
there are joys and pleasures for ever : than
which, there can be nothing more honourable,
nothing more certain, world without end.



CHAPTER XVL

1. Luxury should not be used by Christians, be-
cause of its inconsistency with the spirit of
Christianity. 2. The cup of which Christ's
true disciples drink. 3. O ! who will drink of
this cup] 4. An objection answered of the
nature of God's kingdom, and what it stands in.
5. Of the frame of the spirit of Christ's fol-
lowers.

1. The luxury opposed in this discourse,
should not be allowed among Christians, be-
cause that which invents it, delights in it, and
pleads so strongly for it, is inconsistent with
the true spirit of Christianity ; nor doth the
very nature of the Christian religion admit
thereof. Immortality and eternal life wex'e
brought to light, that all the invented pleasures
of mortal life in which the world lives, might
be denied and relinquished ; and for this reason
it is, that nothing less than immense rewards
and eternal mansions are promised, that men
and women might be encouraged willingly to
forsake the vanity and fleshly satisfactions of
the world, and encounter with boldness the
shame and sufferings they must expect to re-
ceive at the hand it may be, of their nearest



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 57 of 105)