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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intimates and relations.

If the Christian religion admitted the pos-
session of this world in any other sense, than
the simple and naked use of those creatures,
really given of God for the necessity and con-
venience of the whole creation ; for instance,
did it allow all that pride, vanity, curiosity,
pomp, exchange of apparel, honours, prefer-
ments, fashions, and the customary recreations
of the world, with whatever may delight and
gratify their senses; then what need of a daily
cross, a self-denying life, "working out our
salvation with fear and trembling," seeking
the things that are above, having the treasure
and heart in heaven, no idle talking, no vain
jesting, but fearing and meditating all the day
long, undergoing reproach, scorn, hard usage,
bitter mockings and cruel deaths ? What need
of these things, and why should they be ex-
pected in order to that glorious immortality

and eternal crown ; if the vanity, pride, ex-
pense, idleness, concupiscence, envy, malice,
and whole manner of living among the (called)
Christians, were allowed by the Christian re-
ligion? No, certainly; but as the Lord Jesus
Christ well knew in what foolish trifles and
vain pleasures, as well as grosser impieties,
the minds of men and women were fixed, and
how much they were degenerated from the
heavenly spirit of life, into a lustful or unlaw-
ful seeking after the enjoyments of this perish-
ing world, nay, daily inventing new satisfac-
tions to gratify their carnal appetites, so did
he foresee the difficulty all would have to re-
linquish and forsake them at his call, and with
what great unwillingness they would take their
leave of them, and be weaned from them.
Wherefore to induce them to it, he did not
speak unto them in the language of the law,
that they should have an earthly Canaan, great
dignities, a numerous issue, a long life, and the
like ; but rather the contrary, at least to take
these things in their course. He speaks to
them in a higher strain. He assures them of
a kingdom and a crown that are immortal,
that neither time, cruelty, death, grave or hell,
with all its instruments, shall ever be able to
disappoint, or take away from those that
should believe and obey him. Further, that
they should be taken into the near alliance of
loving friends, yea, the intimate divine relation
of dear brethren, and co-heirs with him of
celestial happiness, and a glorious immortality.
If it be I'ecorded that those who heard not
Moses were to die, much more shall they who
refuse to hear and obey the precepts of this
great and eternal Rewarder of all who dili-
gently seek and follow him.

2. And therefore it was that he was pleased
to give us, in his own example, a taste of what
his disciples must expect to drink deeply ;
namely, the cup of self-denial, cruel trials,
and most bitter afflictions. He came not to
consecrate a way to the eternal rest through
gold and silver, ribbons, laces, paints, per-
fumes, costly clothes, curious trims, exact
dresses, rich jewels, pleasant recreations,
plays, treats, balls, masques, revels, roman-
ces, love songs, and the like pastimes of the
world : no, no, but by forsaking all such
entertainments, yea, and sometimes more
lawful enjoyments too ; and cheerfully under-
going the loss of all on the one hand, and the
reproach, ignominy, and cruel persecution of
ungodly men on the other. He needed not to
have wanted such variety of worldly pleasures,
had they been suitable to the nature of his
kingdom. He was tempted, as are his follow-
ers, with no less bait than all the glories of
the world ; but he commanded to " seek
another country, and to lay up treasures in



the heavens that fade not away," and therefore
charged them, never to be much inquisitive
about what they should eat, drink, or put on,
because saith he " after these things the Gen-
tiles, that know not God, do seek ;" (and Chris-
tians that pretend to know him too) " but,
having food and raiment, therewith be con-
tent." He who enjoined this doctrine, and led
that holy and heavenly example, even the
Lord Jesus Christ, bade them that would be
his disciples, " take up the same cross, and
follow him."

3. O who will follow him? Who will be
true Christians ? We must not think to steer
another course, or drink of another cup than
the Captain of our salvation hath done before
us : No : no ; for it is the very question he
asked James and John, the sons of Zebedee
of old, when they desired to sit at his right
and left hand in his kingdom, " Are ye able
to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and
to be baptized with the baptism that I am
baptized withal?" otherwise no disciples, no
Christians. Whoever they are that would
come to Christ, and be right Christians, must
readily abandon every delight that would steal
away the affections of the mind, and exercise
it from the divine spirit of life, and must freely
write a bill of divorce for every beloved vanity ;
and all, under the Sun of righteousness, is so,
compared with him.

4. But some are ready to object, (who will
not seem to want Scripture for their lusts, al-
though it be evidently misapplied) "The king-
dom of God stands not in meats, or in drinks,
or in apparel," &c. Ans. Right ; therefore
it is that we stand out of them. But surely,
you have the least reason of any to object this
to us, who make those things so necessary to
conversation, that our not conforming to them
renders us obnoxious to your reproach. How
Christian this is, or how far it resembles the
righteousness, peace, and joy in which the
heavenly kingdom stands ; let the just princi-
ple in your own consciences determine. Our
conversation stands in temperance, and that
stands in righteousness, by which we have
obtained a kingdom your latitude and excess
have no share or interest in. If none can be
true disciples, but they that come to bear the
daily cross, and none bear the cross, but those
who follow the example of the Lord Jesus
Christ, through his baptism, and afflictions
and temptations ; and none are so baptized
with him, but those whose minds are retired
from the vanities in which the generality of
the world live, and become obedient to the holy
light and divine grace, with which they have
been enlightened from on high, and thereby
are daily exercised to the crucifying of every

contrary affection, and bringing immortality
to light ; if none are true disciples but such,
(as most undoubtedly they are not) then let
the people of these days soberly reflect upon
themselves, and they will conclude, that none
who live and delight in these vain customs,
and this un-christ-like conversation, can be
true Christians, or disciples of the crucified
Jesus: for otherwise, how would it be a cross,
or the Christian life, matter of difficulty and
reproach ? No, the offence of the cross would
soon cease, which is the power of God to
them that believe ; that every lust and vanity
may be subdued, and the creature brought into
an holy subjection of mind to the heavenly
will of its Creator. For therefore has it been
said, that Jesus Christ was and is manifested,
that by his holy, self-denying life and doctrine,
he might put a baffle upon the proud minds of
men, and by the immortality he brought, and
daily brings, to light, might stain the glory of
their fading rests and pleasures ; that having
their minds weaned from them, and being
crucified thereunto, they might seek another
country, and obtain an everlasting inheritance:
" for the things that are seen are temporal,"
and these all true Christians are to be redeemed
from resting in ; but the things that are " not
seen, are eternal," to which all are to be
brought and have their affections chiefly fixed

5. Wherefore, a true disciple of the Lord
Jesus Christ is to have his mind so conversant
about heavenly things, that the things of this
world may be used as if they were not :
having such things as are " necessary and
convenient, he is to be therewith content,"
without the superfluity of the world, whereby
the pleasure, that in times of ignorance was
taken in the customs and fashions of the world,
may more abundantly be supplied in the hidden
and heavenly life of Jesus: for unless there be
an abiding in Christ, it will be impossible to
bring forth that much fruit which he requires
at the hands of his followers, and wherein his
Father is glorified. It is clear, that such as
live in the vanities, pleasures, recreations, and
lusts of the world, abide not in him, neither
know him ; for they that know him, depart
from iniquity; so is their abiding and delight-
ing in those bewitching follies, the very reason
why they are so ignorant and insensible of
him : "Him who continually stands knocking
at the door of their hearts," in whom they
ought to abide, and whose divine power they
should know to be the cross on which every
beloved lust and alluring vanity should be
crucified ; that so they might feel the heavenly
life to spring up in their hearts, and them-
selves to be quickened to seek the things that



are above ; " that when Christ shall appear,
they might appear with him in glory, who is
over all, God blessed for ever. Amen."


1. The customs, fashions, &c. which make up the
attire and pleasure of the age, are enemies to
inward retirement. 2. Then- end is to gratify
lust. 3. Had they been solid, Adam and Eve
had not been happy, who never had them. 4.
But the confidence and presumption of Chris-
tians (as they would be called) in the use of
them, is abominable. 5. Their authors farther
condemn them, who are usually loose and vain
people. 6. Mostly borrowed of the Gentiles,
that knew not God. 7. An objection of their
usefulness considered and answered, and the
objectors reproved. 8. The best heathens ab-
horring what pretended Christians plead for.

9. The use of these things encourages the au-
thors and makers of them to continue in them.

10. The objection of the maintenance of fami-
lies answered. None must do evil, that good
should follow : but better employs may be found
more serviceable to the world. 11. Another
objection answered : God no author of their in-
ventions, and so not excusable by his institution.
12. People pleading for these vanities, show
what they are. An exhortation to be weighty
and considerate. A great part of the way to
true discipleship is, to abandon this school and
shop of satan.

1. Those customs and fashions, which
make up the common attire and conversation
of the times, do eminently obstruct the inward
retirement of people's minds, by which they
may come to behold the glories of" immortality.
Instead of " fearing their Ci-eator in the days
of their youth, and seeking the kingdom of
God in the first place," expecting the addition
of such other things as may be necessary and
convenient, according to the injunctions of
God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, as soon as
they can do anything, they look after pride,
vanity, and that conversation which is most
delightful to the flesh, which becomes their
most delightful entertainment : all which do
but evidently beget lustful conceptions, and
inflame to inordinate thoughts, wanton dis-
courses, lascivious treats, if not at last to
wicked actions. To such it is tedious and
offensive to speak of heaven, or another life.
Bid them reflect upon their actions, not to
grieve the Holy Spirit, to consider of an eter-
nal doom, or prepare for judgment; and the
best return that is usual, is reproachful jesls,
profane repartees, if not direct blows. Their

thoughts are otherAvise employed : their morn-
ings are too short for them to wash, to smooth,
to paint, to patch, to braid, to curl, to gum, to
powder, and otherwise to attire and adorn
themselves ; whilst their afternoons are as
commonly bespoken for visits, and for plays ;
where their usual entertainments are some
stories fetched from the more approved ro-
mances ; some strange adventures, some
passionate amours, unkind refusals, grand
impediments, importunate addresses, misera-
ble disappointments, wonderful surprises, un-
expected encounters, castles surprised, im-
prisoned lovers rescued, and meetings of
supposed dead ones ; bloody duels, languish-
ing voices echoing from solitary groves, over-
heard mournful complaints, deep-fetched sighs
sent from wild deserts, intrigues managed with
unheard-of subtilty : and whilst all things seem
at the greatest distance, then are dead people
alive, enemies friends, despair turned to en-
joyment, and all their impossibilities recon-
ciled ; things that never were, are not, nor
ever shall or can be, all come to pass. And
as if men and women were too slow to answer
the loose suggestions of corrupt nature ; or
were too intent on more divine speculations
and heavenly affairs, they have all that is
possible for the most extravagant wits to in-
vent, not only express lies, but utter impossi-
bilities to very nature, on purpose to excite
their minds to those idle passions, and intoxi-
cate their giddy fancies with swelling nothings
and airy fictions ; which not only consume
their time, effeminate their natures, debase
their reason, and set them on work to reduce
these things to practice, and make each ad-
venture theirs by imitation ; but if disappointed,
as who can otherwise expect from such mere
phantasms, the present remedy is latitude to
the greatest vice. And yet these are some of
their most innocent recreations, which are the
very gins of satan to ensnare people ; contrived
most agreeable to their weakness, and in a
more insensible manner mastering their affec-
tions, by entertainments most taking to their
senses. In such occasions it is that their
hearts breed vanity, their eyes turn interpret-
ers to their thoughts, and their looks whisper
the secret inflammations of their intemperate
minds ; wandering so long abroad, till their
lascivious actings bring night home, and load
their minds and reputations with lust and in-

2. Here is the end of all their fashions
and recreations, " to gratify the lust of the
eye, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of
life:" clothes, that were given to cover shame,
now want a covering for their shameful ex-
cess ; and that which should remind men of
lost innocency, they pride and glory in. The



hundredth part of these things cost man the
loss of paradise, that now make up the agree-
able recreation, nay, the accomplishment of
the times. For as it was Adam's fault to
seek a satisfaction to himself, other than what
God ordained ; so it is the exercise, pleasure,
and perfection of the age, to spend the great-
est portion of their time in vanities, which
are so far from the end of their creation,
namely, a divine life, that they are destructive
of it.

3. Were the pleasures of the age true and
solid, Adam and Eve had been miserable in
their innocency, who knew them not : but as
it was once their happiness not to know them
in any degree, so it is theirs, who know Christ
indeed, to be by his eternal power redeemed
and raised to the love of immortality. This
is a mystery to those who live and have plea-
sure in their curious trims, rich and change-
able apparel, nicety of dress, invention and
imitation of fashions, costly attire, mincing
gaits, wanton looks, romances, plays, treats,
balls, feasts, and the like conversation in re-
quest. For as these had never been, if man
had staid at home with his Creator, and given
the entire exercise of his mind to the noble
ends of his creation ; so certain it is, that the
use of these vanities is not only a sign that
men and women are yet ignorant of their true
rest and pleasure, but it greatly obstructs and
hinders the retirement of their minds, and
their serious inquiry after those things that
are eternal. O, that there should be so much
noise, clutter, invention, traffic, curiosity, dili-
gence, pains, and vast expense of time and
estate, to please and gratify poor vain mor-
tality! and that the soul, the very image of
Divinity itself, should have so little of their
consideration ! What, O what more pregnant
instances and evident tokens can be given,
that it is the body, the senses, the case, a little
flesh and bone covered with skin, the toys,
fopperies, and very vanities of this mortal life
and perishing world, that please, that take,
that gain them; on which they dote; and think
they never have too much time, love or money,
to bestow upon them.

4. Thus are their minds employed, and so
vain are they in their imaginations, and dark
in their understandings, that they not only be-
lieve them innocent, but persuade themselves
they are good Christians all this while, and to
rebuke them is worse than heresy. Thus are
they strangers to the hidden life; and by these
things are they diverted from all serious ex-
amination of themselves ; and a little by-rote-
babble, with a forced zeal of half an hour's
talk in other men's words, which they have
nothing to do with, is made sufficient ; being
no more their states, or at least tJicir intention,

Vol. I.вАФ No. 7.

as their works show, than was it the young
man's in the Gospel, who said, " he would go,
and did not." But alas ! why? Oh, there are
other guests! What are they? Pharamond,
Cleopatra, Cassandra, Clelia ; a play, a ball,
a spring-garden ; the park, the gallant, the
exchange; in a word, the world. These stay,
these call, these are importunate ; these they
attend, and these are their most familiar asso-
ciates. Thus are their hearts captivated from
the divine exercise ; nay, from such external
affairs as immediately concern some benefit
to themselves, or needy neighbours ; pleasing
themselves with the ideas of those toys and
fopperies in their loose and airy minds. And
if in all things they cannot practise them, be-
cause they want the means, yet, as much as
may be, at least they dote upon them, are
taken with them, and willingly suffer their
thoughts to be hurried after them. All these
greatly indispose the minds, and distract the
souls of people fi'om the divine life and spirit
of the holy Jesus : but, as it hath been often
said, more especially the minds of the younger
sort, to whom the like divertisements, (where
their inclinations being presented with what is
very suitable to them, become excited to more
vanity, than ever they thought upon before)
are incomparably dearer than all that can be
said of God's fear, a retired life, eternal re-
wards, and joys unspeakable and fall of glory.
So vain, so blind, and so very insensible are
men and women, of what truly makes a dis-
ciple of Christ ! O ! that they would ponder
these things, and watch (out of all these
vanities,) for the coming of the Lord, lest
being unprepared and taken up with other
guests, they enter not into his everlasting rest.
5. That which farther manifests the unlaw-
fulness of these fashions and recreations is,
that they are either the inventions of vain,
idle, and wanton minds, to gratify their own
sensualities, and raise the like wicked curiosity
in others to imitate them ; by which nothing
but lust and folly are promoted : or the con-
trivances of indigent and impoverished wits,
who make it the way for their maintenance ;
upon both which considerations, they ought to
be detested. For the first licenses express im-
piety ; and the latter countenances a wretched
way of livelihood, and consequently diverts
from more lawful, moi'e serviceable, and more
necessary employments. That such persons
are both the inventors and actors of all these
follies, cannot be difficult to demonstrate : for
were it possible, that any one could bring us
father Adam's girdle, and mother Eve's apron,
what laughing, what fleering, what mocking
of their homely fashion would there be ?
surely their tailor would find but little cus-
tom, although we read, it was God himself



" that made them coats of skins." The like
may be asked of all the other vanities, con-
cerning the holy men and women through all
the generations of hol)^ writ. How many
pieces of riband, and what feathers, lace-
bands, and the like, did Adam and Eve wear
in paradise, or out of it? What rich embroide-
ries, silks, points, &c. had Abel, Enoch,
Noah, and good old Abraham ? Did Eve,
Sarah, Susannah, Elizabeth, and the Virgin
Mary use to curl, powder, patch, paint, wear
false locks of strange colours, rich points,
trimmings, laced gowns, embroidered petti-
coats, shoes with slipslaps laced with silk or
silver lace, and ruffled like pidgeons feet, with
several yards, if not pieces of ribands '.' How
many plays did Jesus Christ and his apostles
recreate themselves at 1 What poets, roman-
ces, comedies, and the like, did the apostles
and saints make, or use to pass away their
time withal ? I know they bid all " redeem
their time, to avoid foolish talking, vain jest-
ing, profane babblings and fabulous stories;
as what tend to ungodliness : and rather to
watch ; to work out their salvation with fear
and trembling, to flee foolish and youthful
lusts, and to follow righteousness, peace,
goodness, love, charity ; and to mind the
things that are above, as they would have
honour, glory, immortality and eternal life."
6. But if I were asked. Whence came they
then? I could quickly answer. From the Gen-
tiles, that knew not God ; for some amongst
them detested them, as will be shown; they
were the pleasures of an effeminate Sardana-
palus, a fantastic Miracles, a comical Aristo-
phanes, a prodigal Charaxus, a luxurious
Aristippus ; and the practices of such women
as the infamous Clytemnestra, the painted
Jezebel, the lascivious Campaspe, the im-
modest Posthumia, the costly Corinthian Lais,
the most impudent Flora, the wanton Egyptian
Cleopatra, and most insatiable Messalina : per-
sons whose memories have stunk through all
ages, and that carry with them a perpetual
rot. These, and not the holy self-denying
men and women in ancient times, were devo-
ted to the like recreations and vain delights.
Nay, the more sober of the very heathens
themselves, and that upon a principle of great
virtue, as is by all confessed, detested the like
folly and wanton practices. There is none of
them to be found in Plato, or in Seneca's
works : Pythagoras, Socrates, Phocion, Zeno,
&c. did not accustom themselves to these
entertainments. The virtuous Penelope, the
chaste Lucretia, the grave Cornelia, and mod-
est Pontia, with many others, could find them-
selves employment enough amongst their chil-
dren, servants and neighbours ; they, though
nobles, next to their devotion, delighted most

in spinning, weaving, gardening, needle-work,
and such like good house-wiiery, and com-
mendable entertainment. Though called hea-
thens, they expressed much more Christianity
in their actions, than do the wanton, foolish
people of this age, who notwithstanding will
be called Christians. But above all, you play-
mongers, whence think you came your pas-
sionately beloved comedies, than which, as
there is not any one diversion, that is more
pernicious, so not one more in esteem, and
fondly frequented? I will tell you. Their
great grand-father was an heathen, and that
not of the best sort : his name was Epichar-
mus. It is true, he is called a philosopher, or
a lover of wisdom ; but he was only so by
name, and no more one in reality than the
comedians of these times are true Christians.
It is reported of him by Suidas, a Greek his-
torian, that he was the first man who invented
comedies ; and by the help of one Phormus,
he made also fifty fables. But would you
know his country, and the reason of his in-
vention? His country was Syracuse, the chief
city in Sicily, famous for the infamy of many
tyrants ; to please and gratify the lusts of
some of whom, he set his wits to work. Do
not you think this an ill original ? and is it
less in any one to imitate or justify the same,
since the moi'e sober heathens have themselves
condemned them. Nay, is it not abominable,
when such as call themselves Christians both
imitate and justify the like inventions? Nor
had the melancholy tragedies a better parent-
age, namely, one Thespis, an Athenian poet ;
to whom they also ascribe the original of that
impudent custom of painting faces, and the
counterfeit or repi'esentation of other persons
by change of habit, humours, &c., all which
are now so much in use and reputation with
the great ones of the times. To these let me
add that poetical amoroso, whom an inordinate
passion of love first transported to those poeti-

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 58 of 105)