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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for the measure of these things is necessity,
not voluptuousness : but we have made them
pernicious and they must be sought with art



and skill. Nature sufficeth to that which she

Appetite hath revolted from nature, which
continually inciteth itself, and increases with
the ages, helping vice by wit. First, it began
to desire superfluous, then contrary things ;
last of all, it sold the mind to the body, and
commanded it to serve the lusts thereof. All
these arts, wherewith the city is continually
set at work, and maketh such a stir, do centre
in the affairs of the body, to which all things
were once performed as to a servant, but now
are provided as for a lord. Hence the shops
of engravers, perfumers, &c., of those that
teach effeminate motions of the body, and
vain and wanton songs : for natural behaviour
is despised, which satisfied desires with ne-
cessary help : now it is clownishness and ill-
breeding, to be contented with as much as is
requisite. What shall I speak of rich mar-
bles, curiously wrought, wherewith temples
and houses do shine 1 what of stately galle-
ries and rich furniture 1 These are but the
devices of most vile slaves, the inventions" of
men, not of wise men : for wisdom sits deeper ;
it is the mistress of the mind. Wilt thou know
what things she hath found out, what she hath
made ? Not unseemly motions of the body,
nor variable singing by trumpet or flute ; nor
yet weapons, wars, or fortifications ; she
endeavoureth profitable things ; she favours
peace, and calls all mankind to an agree-
ment ; she leadeth to a blessed estate ; she
openeth the way to it, and shows what is evil
from what is good, and chaseth vanity out of
the mind ; she giveth solid greatness, but de-
baseth that which is puffed up, and would be
seen of men ; she bringeth forth the " Image
of God to be seen in the souls of men ;" and
so from corporeal, she translateth into incor-
poreal things. Thus in the ninetieth epistle
to Lucilius :

To Gallio he writes thus : " All men,
brother Gallio, are desirous to live happy ;
yet blind to the means of that blessedness, as
long as we wander hither and thither, and
follow not our guide, but the dissonant clam-
our of those that call on us to undertake
different ways. Our short life is wearied and
worn away amongst errors, although we la-
bour to get us a good mind. There is nothing
therefore to be more avoided, than following
the multitude without examination, and be-
lieving anything without judging. Let us
inquire what is best to be done, not what is
most usually done; and what planteth us in
the possession of eternal felicity ; not what is
oi'dinarily allowed of by the multitude, which
is the worst interpreter of truth. I call the
multitude as well those that are clothed in
white, as those in other colours : for I examine

not the colours of the garments, wherewith
their bodies are clothed; I trust not mine eyes
to inform me what a man is ; I have a better
and truer light, whereby I can distinguish
truth from falsehood. Let the soul find out
the good of the soul. If once she may have
leisure to withdraw into herself, oh ! how will
she confess, I wish all I have done were un-
done, and all I have said, when I recollect it;
I am ashamed of it, when I now hear the like
in others. These things below, whereat we
gaze, and whereat we stay, and which one
man with admii'ation shows unto another, do
outwardly shine, but are inwardly empty.
Let us seek out somewhat that is good, not in
appearance, but solid, united and best, in that
which least appears : let us discover this.
Neither is it far from us ; we shall find it, if
we seek it. For it is wisdom, not to wander
from that immortal nature, but to form oui*-
selves according to his law and example.
Blessed is the man who judgeth rightly :
blessed is he who is contented with his pre-
sent condition : and blessed is he who giveth
ear to that immortal principle, in the govern-
ment of his life."

An whole volume of these excellent things
hath he written. No wonder a man of his
doctrine and life, escaped not the cruelty of
brutish Nero, under whom he suffered death ;
as also did the apostle Paul, with whom, it is
said, Seneca had conversed. When Nero's
messenger brought him the news that he was
to die; with a composed and undaunted coun-
tenance he received the errand, and presently
called for pen, ink and paper, to write his last
will and testament ; which the captain refu-
sing, he tui'ned towards his friends, and took
his leave thus : Since, my loving friends, I
cannot bequeath you any other thing in ac-
knowledgment of what 1 owe you, I leave
you at least the richest and best portion I
have, that is. The image of my manners and
life ; which doing, you will obtain true happi-
ness. His friends showing great trouble for
the loss of him, where, saith he, are those
memorable precepts of philosophy ; and what
is become of those provisions, which for so
many years together we have laid up against
the brunts and afflictions of providence ? Was
Nero's cruelty unknown to us ? What could
we expect better at his hands, who killed his
brother, and murdered his mother, but that he
would also put his tutor and governor to death?
Then turning to his wife, Pompeja Paulina, a
Roman lady, young and noble, he besought
her, for the love she bore him and his phi-
losophy, to suffer patiently his affliction; For,
saith he, my hour is come, wherein I must
show, not only by discourse, but by death,
the fruit I have reaped by my meditations.



I embrace it without grief; wherefore do not
dishonour it with thy tears. Assuage thy
sorrow, and comfort thyself in the knowledge
thou hast had of me, and of my actions; and
lead the rest of thy life with that honest in-
dustry thou hast addicted thyself to. And dedi-
cating his life to God, he expired.

75. Epictetus, contemporary with Seneca,
and an excellent man, thought no man worthy
of the profession of philosophy, who was not
purified from the errors of his nature. His
morals were excellent, which he comprised
under these two words, Sustaining and Ab-
staining ; or Bearing and Forbearing : To
avoid evil, and patiently to suffer afflictions ;
which are the perfection of the best philosophy
that was at any time taught by Egyptians,
Greeks or Romans, when it signified virtue,
self-denial, and a life of religious solitude and

How little the Christians of the times are
true philosophers, and how much more these
philosophers were Christians than they, let the
righteous principle in every conscience judge.
But is it not then intolerable, that they should
be esteemed Christians, who are yet to learn
to be good heathens, who prate of grace and
nature, and know neither ; who will presume
to determine what is become of heathens, and
know not where they are themselves, nor
mind what may become of them ; who can
run readily over a tedious list of famous per-
sonages, and calumniate such as will not, with
them, celebrate their memories with extrava-
gant and superfluous praises, whilst they make
it laudable to act the contrary ; and no way to
become vile so ready, as not to be vicious ?
A strange paradox, but too true : so blind, so
stupified, so besotted are the foolish sensualists
of the world, under their great pretences to re-
ligion, faith and worship. Ah ! did they but
know the peace, the joy, the unspeakable
ravishments of soul, which inseparably attend
the innocent, harmless, still and retired life of
Jesus ; did they but weigh within themselves
the authors of their vain delights and pastimes,
the nature and disposition they are so grateful
to, the dangerous consequence of exercising
the mind and its affections below, and arresting
and taking them up from their due attendance
and obedience to the most holy voice crying
in their consciences, " Repent, Return : All is
vanity and vexation of spirit." Were but these
things reflected upon; were the incessant woo-
ings of Jesus, and his importunate knocks and
intreaties, by his light and grace, at the door
of their hearts, but kindly answered, and He
admitted to take up his abode there ; and
lastly, were such resolved to give up to the
instructions and holy guidance of his eternal
spirit, in all the humble, heavenly and righte-

ous conversation it requires, and of which he
is become our captain and example; then, oh!
then, both root and branch of vanity, the na-
ture that invented, and that which delights
herself therein, with all the follies themselves,
would be consumed and vanish. But they,
alas! cheat themselves by misconstrued Scrip-
tures, and daub with the untempered mortar
of misapplied promises. They will be saints,
whilst they are sinners ; and in Christ whilst
in the spirit of the world, walking after the
flesh, and not after the spirit, by which the
true children of God are led. My friends,
mind the just witness and holy principle in
yourselves, that you may experimentally know
moi'e of the divine life ; in which, and not in
a multitude of vain repetitions, true and solid
felicity consists.

IV. Nor is this reputation, wisdom and vir-
tue, only to be attributed to men : there were
women also, in the Greek and Roman ages,
who honoured their sex by great examples of
meekness, prudence, and chastity: and which
I do the rather mention, that the honour his-
tory yields to their virtuous conduct may raise
an allowable emulation in those of their own
sex, at least to equal the noble character given
them by antiquity. I will begin with

76. Penelope, wife to Ulysses, a woman
eminent for her beauty and quality, but more
for her singular chastity. Her husband was
absent from her twenty years ; partly in the
service of his country, and partly in exile ;
and being believed to be dead, she was earn-
estly sought by divers lovers, and pressed by
her parents to change her condition ; but all
the importunities of the one, or persuasions of
the other, not prevailing, her lovers seemed to
use a kind of violence, that where they could
not entice, they would compel : to which she
yielded, upon this condition; That they would
not press her to marry, till she had ended the
work she had in hand : which they granting,
she undid by night what she wrought by day ;
and with that honest device delayed their de-
sire, till her worthy husband returned, whom
she received, though in beggar's clothes, with
an heart full of love and truth. A constancy
that reproaches too many women of the times,
who, without the excuse of such an absence,
can violate their husbands' bed. Her work
shows the industry and employment, even of
the women of great quality in those times ;
whilst those of the present age despise such
honest labour, as mean and mechanical.

77.' HiPPARCHiA, a fair Macedonian virgin,
noble of blood, as they tei'm it, but more truly
noble of mind, I cannot omit to mention; who
entertained so earnest an affection for Crates,
the cynical philosopher, as well for his severe
life as excellent discourse, that by no means



could her relations or suitors, by all their
wealth, nobility and beauty, dissuade her from
being his companion : Upon this strange I'eso-
lution, they all betook themselves to Crates, be-
seeching him to show himself a true philoso-
pher, in persuading her to desist : which he
strongly endeavoured by many arguments ;
but not prevailing, went his way, and brought
all the little furniture of his house, and showed
her : This, saith he, is thy husband ; that, the
furniture of thy house: consider on it, for thou
canst not be mine, unless thou foUowest the
same course of life ; for being rich above
twenty talents, which is more than fifty thou-
sand pounds, he neglected all, to follow a re-
tired life: All this had so contrary an effect,
that she immediately went to him, before them
all, and said, I seek not the pomp and etfemi-
nacy of this world, but knowledge and virtue.
Crates ; and choose a life of temperance, be-
fore a life of delicacies : for true satisfaction,
thou knowest, is in the mind ; and that plea-
sure is only worth seeking, which lasts for ever.
Thus she became the constant companion
both of his love and life, his friendship and
his virtues , travelling with him from place to
place, and performing the public exercises of
instruction with Crates, wherever they came.
She was a most violent enemy to all impiety,
but especially to wanton men and women and
those whose garb and conversation showed
them devoted to vain pleasures and pastimes :
effeminacy rendering the like persons not only
unprofitable, but pernicious to the whole world.
Which she as well made good by the example
of her exceeding industry, temperance and
severity, as those are wont to do by their in-
temperance and folly : for ruin of health, es-
tates, virtue, and loss of eternal happiness,
have ever attended, and ever will attend, such
earthly minds.

78. LucEETiA, a most chaste Roman dame,
whose name and virtue is known by the tra-
gedy that follows them. Sextus, the son of
Tarquin the proud, king of Rome, hearing it
was her custom to work late in her chamber,
did there attempt her, with his sword in his
hand, vowing he would run her through; and
put one of his servants in the posture of lying
with her, on pui'pose to defame her, if she
would not yield to his lusts. Having forced
his wicked end, she sent for her father, then
governor of Rome, her husband and her
friends, to whom having revealed the matter,
and with tears lamented her irreparable ca-
lamity, she slew herself in their presence ;
that it might not be said Lucretia out-lived her
chastity, even when she could not defend it.
I praise the virtue but not the act. But God
soon avenged this, with other impieties, upon
that wicked family ; for the people hearing
Vol. I.вАФ No. 8.

what Sextus had done, whose flagitious life
they equally hated with his father's tyi'anny;
and their sense of both, aggravated by the
reverence they conceived for the chaste and
exemplary life of Lucretia, betook themselves
to their arms ; and headed by her father, her
husband, Brutus and Valerius, they drove out
the Tarquin family : in which action the
hand of Brutus avenged the blood of Lucre-
tia upon infamous Sextus, whom he slew in
the battle.

79. Cornelia, also a noble Roman mat-
ron, and sister to Scipio, was esteemed the
most famous and honourable personage of
her time, not more for the greatness of her
birth, than her exceeding temperance. His-
tory particularly mentions, as one great in-
stance of her virtue, for Avhich she was so much
admired, That she never was accustomed
to wear rich apparel, but such attire as was
very plain and grave ; rather making her
children, whom her instructions and example
had made virtuous, her greatest ornaments : a
good pattern for the vain and wanton dames
of the age.

80. PoNTiA was another Roman dame, re-
nowned for her singular modesty: for though
Octavius attempted her with all imaginable
allurements and persuasions, she chose rather
to die by his cruelty, than be polluted. So
he took her life, though he could not violate
her chastity.

81. Arria, wife to Cecinna Psetus, is not
less famous in story for the magnanimity she
showed, in being the companion of her hus-
band's disgraces, who thrust herself into prison
with him, that she might be his servant.

82. PoMPEiA Plautina, wife to Julianus
the emperor, commended for her compassion
of the poor, used the power her virtue had
given her with her husband, to put him upon
all the just and tender things that became
his charge, and to dissuade him from what-
soever seemed harsh to the people : particu-
larly, she diverted him from a great tax
which his flatterers advised him to lay upon
the people.

83. Plotiwa, the wife of Trajan, a woman,
saith a certain author, adorned with pietv,
chastity, and all the virtues that a woman is
capable of. As an instance of her piety;
When her husband was proclaimed emperor,
she mounted the capitol after the choice ;
where, in a religious manner, she said, " Oh
that I may live under all this honour, with
the same virtue and content that I enjoyed be-
fore I had it !"

84. PoMPEiA Paulina, a Roman lady of
youth and beauty, descended of the most noble
families of Rome, fell in love with Seneca,
for the excellency of his doctrine, and the




gravity and purity of his manners. They
married and Uved together examples to both
their sexes. So great was her value for her
husband and so little did she care to live
when he was to die, that she chose to be the
companion of his death as she had been of his
life : and her veins were cut as well as his,
whilst she was the auditor of his excellent
discourses : but Nero hearing of it, and fear-
ing lest Paulina's death might bring; him great
reproach, because of her noble alliance in
Rome, sent with all haste to have her wounds
closed, and, if it were possible, to save her
life : which, though as one half dead, was
done, and she against her will lived.

85. Thus may the voluptuous women of
the times read their reproof in the character
of a heathen ; and learn, that solid happiness
consists in a divine and holy composure of
mind, a neglect of wealth and greatness, and
a contempt of all corporal pleasures, as more
befitting beasts than immortal spirits : and
which are loved by none but such, as not
knowing the excellency of heavenly things,
are both inventing and delighting, like brutes,
in that which perisheth; giving the preference
to poor mortality, and spending their lives to
gratify the lusts of flesh and blood, " that
shall never enter into the kingdom of heaven :"
By all which their minds become darkened,
and insensible of celestial glories, that they
do not only refuse to inquire after them, but
infamously scoff and despise those who do, as
a foolish and mad people : To this strange de-
greee of darkness and impudence this age has
got. But if the exceeding temperance, chas-
tity, virtue, industry and contentedness of very
heathens, with the plain and necessary enjoy-
ments God has been pleased to vouchsafe the
sons and daughters of men, as sufficient to
their wants and conveniency, that they may
be the more at leisure to answer the great end
of their being born, will not suffice, but that
they will exceed the bounds, precepts and ex-
amples, both of heathens and Christians ; an-
guish and tribulation will overtake them, when
they shall have an eternity to think, with gnash-
ing teeth, on -what to all eternity they can never
remedy: these dismal wages are decreed for
them who so far affront God, as to neglect
their salvation from sin here, and wrath to
come, for the enjoyment of a few fading plea-
sures. For such to think, notwithstanding
their lives of sense and pleasure, wherein
their minds become slaves to their bodies, that
they shall be everlastingly happy, is an addi-
tion to their evils ; since it is a gi'eat abuse to
the holy God, that men and women should be-
lieve Him an eternal companion of their car-
nal and sensual minds: for, "as the tree falls,
so it lies;" and as death leaves men, judgment

finds them : and there is no repentance in the
grave. Therefore I beseech you, to whom
this comes, to retire : withdraw a while ; let
not the body see all, taste all, enjoy all ; but
let the soul see too, taste and enjoy those
heavenly comforts and refreshments, proper
to that eternal world of which she is to be an
inhabitant, and where she must ever abide in
a state of peace or plagues, when this visible
one shall be dissolved.


1. The doctrine of Christ from Matt. v. about
denial of self. 2. John Baptist's example. 3.
The testimony of the apostle Peter, &c. 4.
Paul's godly exhortation against pride, covet-
ousness and luxury. 5. The primitive Chris-
tians nonconformity to the world. 6. Clemens
Romanus against the vanity of the Gentiles.
7. Machiavel of the zeal of the primitive Chris-
tians. 8. TertuUian, Chrysostom, &c. on Matt,
xii. 36. 9. Gregory Nazianzen. 10. Jerom.
11. Hilary.' 12. Ambrose. 13. Augustine. 14.
Council of Carthage. 15. Cardan. 16. Gratian.
17. Petrus Bellonius. 18. Waldenses. 19.
What they understood by daily bread in the
Lord's Prayer. 20. Their judgment concern-
ing taverns. 21. Dancing, music, &c. 22. An
epistle of Bartholomew Tertian to the Walden-
sian churches, &c. 23. Their extreme suffering
and faithflilness. Their degeneracy reproved
that call them their ancestors. 24. Paulinus,
bishop of Nola, relieving slaves and prisoners.
25. Acacius, bishop of Aiiiida, his charity to

Having abundantly shown, how the doc-
trine and conversation of the vii'tuous Gentiles
condemn the pride, avarice and luxury of the
professed Christians of the times ; I shall, in
the next place, to discharge my engagement,
and farther fortify this discourse, present my
I'eader with the judgment and practice of the
most Christian times ; as also of eminent
writers both ancient and modern. I shall
begin with the blessed Author of that re-

1, Jesxjs Christ, in whose mouth there
was found no guile, sent from God with a
testimony of love to mankind, and who laid
down his life for their salvation ; whom God
hath raised by his mighty power to be Lord
of all, is of right to be first heard in this
matter ; for never man spake like him, to our

* The doctrine and practice of the blessed Lord
Jesus and his apostles, the primitive Christians,
and those of more modern times, in favour of this



point; short, clear and close; and all opposite
to the way of this wicked world. " Blessed,"
says he, " are the poor in spirit, for theirs is
the kingdom of God :" he doth not say.
Blessed are the proud, the rich, the high-
minded : here humility and the fear of the
Lord are blest. " Blessed are they that mourn,
for they shall be comforted :" he doth not say.
Blessed are the feasters, dancers and revellers
of the world, whose life is swallowed up of
pleasure and jollity : no, as he was a man of
sorrows, so he blessed the godly-sorrowful.
" Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit
the earth :" he doth not say. Blessed are the
ambitious, the angry, and those who are puffed
up : he makes not the earth a blessing to them :
and though they get it by conquest and rapine,
it will at last fall into the hands of the meek to
inherit. Again, " Blessed are they which do
hunger and thirst after righteousness:" but no
blessing to the hunger and thirst of the luxu-
rious man. " Blessed are the merciful, for
they shall obtain mercy :" he draws men to
tenderness and forgiveness, by reward. Hast
thou one in thy power who hath wronged thee?
be not rigorous, exact not the utmost farthing;
be merciful, and pity the afHicted, for such
are blessed. Yet farther, " Blessed are the
pure in heart, for they shall see God :" he
doth not say. Blessed are the proud, the covet-
ous, the unclean, the voluptuous, the malicious:
no, such shall never see God. Again, " Blessed
are the peace-makers, for they shall be called
the children of God :" he doth not say. Blessed
are the contentious, back-biters, tale-bearers,
brawlers, fighters, makers of war ; neither
shall they be called the children of God,
whatever they may call themselves. Lastly,
"Blessed are you, when men- shall revile you,
and persecute you ; and say all manner of evil
against you falsely, for my sake; rejoice and
be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in
heaven :" he blesseth ijie troubles of his people,
and translates earthly suffering into heavenly
rewards. He doth not say. Blessed are you
when the world speaks well of you, and fawns
upon you : so that his blessings cross the
world's ; for the world blesseth those as
happy, who have the world's favour : He
blessed those as happy, who have the woi'ld's
frowns. This solveth' the great objection,
" Why are you so foolish to expose your-
selves to the law, to incur the displeasure of
magistrates, and suffer the loss of your estates
and liberties? Cannot a man seiwe God in his
heart, and do as others do? Are you wiser
than your fore-fathers ? call to mind your an-
cestors. Will you question their salvation by
your novelties, and forget the future good of
your wife and children, as well as sacrifice the
present comforts of your life, to hold up the

credit of a party ?" a language I have more
than once heard: I say, this doctrine of Christ

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 65 of 105)