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William Evans.

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himself, in his dying reflections ; an account
of which I have had from some who visited
him in his sickness, besides that larger one
made public by the present bishop of Salisbury.
It was then that he came to think there was a
God, for he felt his lashes on his conscience ;
and that there was such a thing as virtue, and.
a reward for it. Christianity was no longer
a worldly or absurd design ; but Chi'ist a
Saviour, and a most merciful One ; and his
doctrines plain, just and reasonable, and the
true way to felicity here and hereafter — ad-
miring and adoring that mercy to him, which
he had treated with so much infidelity and ob-
stinate contempt — wishing only for moi'e life
to confute his past one, and in some measure
to repair the injuries he had done to religion
by it — begging forgiveness for Christ's sake,
though he thought himself the most unworthy
of it for his own. Thus died that witty lord
Rochester ; and this retreat he made from the
world he had so great a name in. May the
loose wits of the times, as he desired, take
warning by him, and not leave their repent-
ance to a dying-bed.

32. A noble young man of the family of
Howard, having too much yielded to the
temptations of youth, when upon his sick-bed,
which proved his dying-bed, fell under the
power and agony of great convictions, might-



318



NO CROSS, NO CROWN.



ily bewailing himself in the remembrance of
his former extravagancies ; crying strongly to
God to forgive him, abhorring his former
course, and promising amendment, if God
renewed life to him. However he was willing
to die, having tasted of the love and for-
giveness of God ; warning his acquaintance
and kindred who came to see him, to fear
God, and forsake the pleasures and vanity of
this world ; and so willingly yielded his soul
from the troubles of time, and frailties of mor-
tality.

33. The late princess Elizabeth of the
Rhine, of right claims a memorial in this dis-
course; her virtue giving greater lustre to her
name than her quality, which yet was of the
greatest in the German empire. She chose a
single life, as being most free of care, and best
suited to the study and meditation she was
always inclined to ; and the chief diversion
she took, next the air, was in some such plain
and housewifely entertainment, as knitting, &c.
She had a small territory, which she governed
so well, that she showed herself fit for a greater.
She would constantly, every last-day in the
week, sit in judgment, and hear and determine
causes herself; where her patience, justice and
mercy were admirable ; frequently remitting
her forfeitures, where the party was poor, or
otherwise meritorious. And, which was ex-
cellent, though unusual, she would temper her
discourses with religion, and draw concerned
parties to submission and agreement ; exer-
cising not so much the rigour of her power,
as the force of her persuasion. Her meekness
and humility appeared to me extraordinary.
She never considered the quality, but the merit
of the people she entertained. Did she hear
of " a retired man, hid from the world, and
seeking after the knowledge of a better," she
was sure to set him down in the catalogue of
her charity, if he wanted it. I have casually
seen, I believe, fifty tokens sealed and super-
scribed to the several poor subjects of her
bounty, whose distances would not suffer them
to know one another ; though they knew her,
whom yet some of them had never seen.
Thus, though she kept " no sumptuous table
in her own court, she spread the tables of the
poor in their solitary cells ; breaking bread to
virtuous pilgrims, according to their want, and
her ability ; abstemious in herself, and in
apparel void of all vain ornaments."

I must needs say, her mind had a noble
prospect. Her eye was to a better and more
lasting inheritance than can be found below ;
which made her often despise the greatness of
courts, and learning of the schools, of which
she was an extraordinary judge. Being once
at Hamburgh, a religious person, whom she
went to see for religion's sake, telling her " It



was too great an honour for him, that he
should have a visitant of her quality come
under his roof, who was allied to so many
great kings and princes of this world ;" she
humbly answered, " If they were godly, as
well as great, it would be an honour indeed ;
but if you knew what that greatness was, as
well as I, you would value less that honour."
Being in some agony of spirit, after a reli-
gious meeting we had in her own chamber,
she said, " It is an hard thing to be faithful to
what one knows. Oh, the way is strait! I am
afraid I am not weighty enough in my spirit
to walk in it." After another meeting, she
uttered these words; "I have records in my
library, that the Gospel was first brought out
of England hither into Germany by the Eng-
lish, and now it is come again." She once
withdrew, on purpose to give her servants the
liberty of discoursing us, that they might the
more freely put what questions of conscience
they desired to be satisfied in ; for they were
religious ; suffering both them, and the poor-
est of her town, to sit by her, in her own bed-
chamber, where we had two meetings. I
cannot forget her last words, when I took my
leave of her : " Let me desire you to remem-
ber me, though I live at this distance, and you
should never see me more. I thank you for
this good time ; and know and be assured,
though my condition subjects me to divers
temptations, yet my soul hath strong desires
after the best things." She lived her single
life till about sixty years of age, and then de-
parted at her own house in Herwerden, which
was about * two years since ; as much la-
mented, as she had lived beloved of the peo-
ple: to whose real worth, I do, with religious
gratitude for her kind reception, dedicate this
memorial.

34. BuLSTRODE Whitlock has left his own
character in his " Memorials of English af-
fairs ;" a book that shows both his employ-
ments and greater abilities. He was almost
ever a commissioner and companion with those
great men, whom the lords and commons of
England, at several times, appointed to treat
with king Charles I. for peace. He was com-
missioner of the great seal, ambassador to the
crown of Sweden, and sometimes president
of the council: a scholar, a lawyer, a states-
man ; in short, he was one of the most ac-
complished men of the age. Being with him
sometime at his own house in Berkshire, where
he gave me that account I have related of
chancellor Oxcistern, amongst many serious
things he spoke, this was very observable.

" I ever have thought, said he, there has



■♦■ She died in 1680. And this passage was in-
serted in a second edition of this treatise, an. 1682.



NO CROSS, NO CROWN.



319



been one true religion in the world ; and that
is the work of the spirit of God in the hearts
and souls of men. There have been indeed
divers forms and shapes of things, through
the many dispensations of God to men, an-
swerable to his own wise ends, in reference to
the low and uncertain state of man in the
world ; but the old world had the spirit of
God, for it strove with them ; and the new
world has had the spirit of God, both Jew and
Gentile, and it strives with all ; and they that
have been led by it, have been the good peo-
ple in every dispensation of God to the world.
And I myself must say, I have felt it from a
child to convince me of my evil and vanity ;
and it has often given me a true measure of
this poor world, and some taste of divine
things ; and it is my grief I did not more
early apply my soul to it. For I can say,
since my retirement from the greatness and
hurries of the world, I have felt something of
the work and comfort of it, and that it is both
ready and able to instruct, and lead, and pre-
serve those who will humbly and sincerely
hearken to it. So that my religion is the good
spirit of God in my heart; I mean, what that
has wrought in me and for me." Afler a
meeting at his house, to which he gave an en-
tire liberty for all that pleased to come, he was
so deeply affected with the testimony of the
light, spirit, and grace of Christ in man, as
the Gospel dispensation, that after the meeting
closed in prayer, he rose up, and pulled off his
hat, and said, " This is the everlasting Gospel
I have heard this day ; and I humbly bless
the name of God, that he has let me live to
see this day, in which the ancient Gospel is
again preached to them that dwell upon the
earth."

35. A sister of the family of Penn, of
Penn, in Buckinghamshire, a young woman
delighting in the finery and pleasures of the
world, was seized with a violent illness which
proved mortal to her. In the time of her
sickness she fell into great distress of soul,
bitterly bewailing the want of that inward
peace which makes a dealh-bed easy to the
righteous. After several days languishing, a
little consolation appeared after this manner.
She was some hours in a kind of trance ; in
which she apprehended she was brought into
a place where Christ was ; to whom if she
could deliver her petition, she hoped to be re-
lieved. But her endeavours increased her
pain ; for as she pressed to deliver it, " He
turned his back upon her," and would not so
much as look towards her. What added to
her sorrow, was, "That she beheld others ad-
mitted." However, she gave not over impor-
tuning him ; and when almost ready to faint,
and her hope to sink, " he turned one side of



his face towards her, and reached forth his
hand, and received her request : at which her
troubled soul found immediate consolation."
Turning to those about her, she repeated what
had befallen her ; adding, " Bring me my new
clothes ; take off the lace and finery ;" and
charged her relations, " Not to deck and adorn
themselves after the manner of the world; for
that the Lord Jesus, whom she had seen, ap-
peared to her in the likeness of a plain coun-
try MAN, without any trimming or ornament
whatever ; and that his servants ought to be
like him."

36. My own Father, after thirty years
employment, with good success, in divers
places of eminent trust and honour in his own
country; upon a serious reflection not long
before his death, spoke to me in this manner,
" Son William, I am weary of the world ; I
would not live over my days again, if I could
command them with a wish ; for the snares of
life are greater than the fears of death. This
troubles me, that I have offended a gracious
God, who has followed me to this day. O
have a care of sin ! That is the sting both of
life and death. Three things I commend to
you : First, Let nothing in this world tempt
you to wrong your conscience; I charge you,
do nothing against your conscience ; so will
you keep peace at home, Avhich will be a feast
to you in a day of trouble. Secondly, What-
ever you design to do, lay it justly, and time
it seasonably ; for that gives security and dis-
patch. Lastly, Be not troubled at disappoint-
ments ; for if they may be recovered, do it ;
if they cannot, trouble is vain. If you could
not have helped it, be content ; there is often
peace and profit in submitting to Providence :
for afflictions make wise. If you could have
helped it, let not your trouble exceed instruc-
tion for another time. These rules will carry
you with firmness and comfort through this
inconstant world." At another time he in-
veighed against the profaneness and impiety
of the age ; often crying out, with an earnest-
ness of spirit, " Wo to thee O England ! God
will judge thee O England ! Plagues are at
thy door, O England !" He muc^ bewailed,
that divers men in power, and many of the
nobility and gentry of the kingdom, were
grown so dissolute and profane ; often saying,
"God has forsaken us; we are infatuated; we
will not see our true interests and happiness ;
we shall be destroyed !" Apprehending the
consequences of the growing looseness of the
age to be our ruin; and that the methods most
fit to serve the kingdom with true credit at
home and abroad, were too much neglected ;
the trouble of which did not a littlehelp to
feed his distemper, which drew him daily
nearer to his end : and as he believed it, so less



320



NO CROSS, NO CROWN.



concerned or disordered I never saw him at
any time; of which I took good notice. Wea-
ried to hve, as well as near to die, he took his
leave of us ; and of me, with tliis expression,
and a most composed countenance : " Son
William, if you and your friends keep to your
plain way of preaching, and keep to your
plain way of living, you will make an end of
the priests to the end of the world. Bury me
by my mother: live all in love: shun all man-
ner of evil: and I pray God to bless you all;
and he will bless you."

37. Anthony Lowther of iVIask ; a per-
son of good sense, of a sweet temper, a just
mind, and of a sober education ; when of age
to be under his own government, was drawn
by the men of pleasure of the town into the
usual freedoms of it, and was as much a judge
as any body, of the satisfaction that way of
living could yield. But some time before his
sickness, with a free and strong judgment, he
would frequently upbraid himself, and contemn
the world, for those unseasonable as well as
unchristian liberties, which so much abound
in it ; and this apprehension was increased by
the instruction of a long and sharj) sickness.
He would often despise their folly, and abhor
their guilt : breathing, with some impatience,
after the knowledge of the best things, and the
best company; losing as little time as he could,
that he might redeem the time he had lost ;
testifying often, with a lively relish, to the
truth of religion, from the sense he had of it
in his own breast: frequently professing, "he
knew no joy comparable to that of being as-
sured of the love and mercy of God." As he
often implored these with strong convictions,
and deep humility and reverence, so he had
frequently tastes thereof before his last period ;
pressing his relations and friends, in a most
serious and affectionate manner, to " love God
and one another more, and this vile world
less." Of this he was so full, that it was
almost ever the conclusion of his discourses
with his family. Though he sometimes said,
" he could have been willing to have lived, if
God had pleased, to see his younger children
nearer a settlement in the world ; yet he felt
no desire to live longer in the world, but on
the terms of living better in it :" for he did
not only think virtue the safest, but the happi-
est way of living : commending and com-
manding it to his children upon his last bless-
ing.

I shall conclude this chapter of retired,
aged and dying persons, with some collec-
tions I have made out of the life of a person
of great piety and quality of the French
nation.

38. Du Renti, a young nobleman of
France, of admirable parts, as well as gi'eat



birth, touched with a sense of the vanity of
the world, and the sweetness of a retii^ed and
religious life, notwithstanding the honours and
employments that waited for him, abandoned
the pride and pomp of the world, to enjoy a
life of more communion with God. Do but
hear him : " I avow, saith he, that I have no
relish in anything, where I find not Jesus
Christ. And for a soul that speaks not of
him, or in which we cannot taste any effect
of grace flowing from his spirit, which is the
principle of opei'ations, both inward and out-
ward, that are solidly Christian, speak not to
me at all of such an one. Could I, as I may
say, behold both miracles and wonders thei'e,
and yet not Jesus Christ, nor hear any talk of
him, I count all but amusement of spirit, loss
of time, and a very dangerous precipice. Let
us encourage ourselves to lead this life un-
known and wholly hid from men, but most
known to, and intimate with God ; divesting
ourselves, and chasing out of our minds all
those many superfluities, and those many
amusements, which bring with them so great
a damage, that they take up our minds, in-
stead of God. When I consider that which
thwarts this holy, this sweet and amiable
union, which we should have continually with
God, it appears, that it is only a monsieur, a
madame, a compliment or chatting, indeed a
mere foolery ; which, notwithstanding, doth
ravish and wrest from us the time that is so
precious, and the fellowship that is so holy
and so desirable. Let us quit this, I pray
you, and learn to court it with our own
master. Let us well understand our part,
our own world, as we here phrase it; not that
world, I mean which we do I'enounce, but that
wherein the children of God do their duties to
their Father. There is nothing in this world
so separate from the world, as God ; and the
greater the saints are, the greater is their re-
tirement into Him. This our Saviour taught
us, whilst he lived on earth, being in all his
visible employments united to God, and retired
into the bosom of his Father. Since the time
that I gave up my liberty to God, as I told
you, I was given to undei'stand, to what a
state the soul must be brought, to render it
capable of union with Him : I saw removed
all exterior things, kingdoms, great offices,
stately buildings, rich household-stuff, gold
and silvei*, recreations, pleasures ; all which
are great incumbrances to the soul's passing
on to God; of which therefore his pleasure is,
that she be stripped, that she may arrive at
the point of nakedness and death, which will
bring her into possession of solid riches and
real life. Assure yourself, there is no security
in any estate, but this of dying ; which is, to
be baptized into Christ's ' death,' that we live



NO CROSS, NO CROWN.



321



the life of mortification. Our best way is
therefore, to divest ourselves of all, that the
holy child Jesus may govern all. All that
can be imagined in this lower world, is of
small concernment, though it were the losing
of all our goods ; this poor ant-hill is not
worthy of a serious thought. Had we but a
little faith, and a little love, how happy should
we esteem ourselves, in giving away all, to
attend no more, save on God alone ; and to
say. My God, and my all !

"Being, saith he, in a chapel richly wain-
scotted and adorned with very excellent sculp-
ture, and with imagery, I beheld it with some
attention, having had some skill in these things,
and saw the bundles of flowers-de-luce, and of
flowers in form of borders, and of very curious
workmanship; it was on a sudden put into my
mind, ' The original of what thou seest, would
not detain thee at all in seeing it.' And I per-
ceived that all these, and the flowers them-
selves, not in pictures, would not have taken
me up ; and all the ornaments which archi-
tecture and art invent, are but things mean
and low, running in a manner only upon flow-
ers, fruits, branches, harpies and chimeras ;
yet man renders himself a slave of them ; as
if a good workman should stand to copy out
and counterfeit some trifles and fopperies. I
considered by this sight how poor man was
cheated, amused and diverted from his Sove-
reign good. And since that time, I could
make no more stand to consider any of these
things ; and if I did it, I should reproach
myself for it ; as no sooner seeing them in
churches, or elsewhere, but this is presently
put upon my spirit, the original is as nothing,
the copy and the image is yet less : Each
thing is vain, except the employment of oui'-
selves about God alone. An absolute abne-
gation will be necessary to all things, to follow
in simplicity, without reserve or reflection,
what our Saviour shall work in us, or appoint
for us, let it be this or that. This way was
showed me, in which I ought to walk towards
him ; and hence it is, that all things to me
ordinarily are without any gust or delight.
I assure you, it is a great shame to a Chris-
tian to pass his days in this world more at
ease than Jesus Christ passed his. Ah! Had
we but a little faith, what repose could we
take out of the cross !" I will conclude his
sayings with his dying blessing to his sur-
viving children.

" I pray God bless you ; and may it please
him to bless you, and to preserve you by his
grace from the evil of the world, that you
may have no part therein : and above all, my
children, that you may live in the fear and
love of God, and yield due obedience to your
mother."

Vol. I.— No. 9.



Expressions of weight and moment to the
immortal good of men, which abundantly
prove that the author was a man of an en-
lightened mind, mortified to the world, and
quickened to some tastes of a supernatural
Hfe. Let his youth, let his quality, adorned
with so much zeal and piety, so much self-de-
nial and constancy, become exemplary to those
of worldly quality, who may be the readers
of this book. Some, perhaps, will hear that
truth from the several authors I have reported,
whose names, death and time have recovered
from the envy of men, who would hardly en-
dure it from me, if at all from the living. Be
it as it will, I shall abundantly rejoice, if God
shall please to make any part of this discourse
effectual to persuade any into the love of holi-
ness, without which, certain it is, no man
shall see the Lord : But the pure in heart shall
behold him for ever.

To conclude : I cannot omit this reflection
upon what is observed of the sayings of dying
men, and which to me seems to have great in-
struction in it : viz. All men agree, when
they come to die, it is best to be religious ; to
live an holy, humble, strict, and self-denying
life; retired, solitary, temperate, and disencum-
bered of the world. Then, loving God above
all, and our neighbours as ourselves, forgiving
our enemies, and praying for them, are solid
things and the essential part of religion, as
the true ground of man's happiness : then, all
sin is exceeding sinful, and yields no more
pleasure ; every inordinate desire is burden-
some and severely reproved ; then, the world,
with all the lawful comforts in it, weighs light
against that sense and judgment, which such
men have between temporal and eternal things.
And since it is thus with dying men, what in-
struction is it to the living, whose pretence,
for the most part, is a perpetual contradiction?
O ! that men would learn to " Number their
days, that they might apply their hearts to
wisdom ;" of which the fear of the Lord is
the true and only beginning. And "Blessed
are they that fear always, for their feet shall
be preserved from the snare of death."



CHAPTER XXII.

1. Of the way of living amongst the first Chris-
tians. 2. An exhortation to all professing Chris-
tianity, to embrace the foregoing reasons and
examples. 3. Plain dealing with such as reject
them. 4. Their recompenses. 5. The author
is better persuaded and assured of some : An
exhortation to them. 6. Encouragement to the
children of light to persevere, fi'om a considera-
tion of the excellency of their reward ; the end
41



322



NO CROSS, NO CROWN.



and triumph of the Christian conqueror. The
whole concluded with a brief supplication to
Almighty God.



THE CONCLUSION.



1. Having finished as many testimonies,
as my time would give me leave, in favour of
this subject, No Cross, No Crown; no tem-
perance, no happiness ; no virtue, no re-
ward ; no mortification, no glorification ; I
shall conclude with a short description of the
life and worship of the Christians, within the
first century, or hundi'ed years after Christ :
What simplicity, what spirituality, what holy
love and communion, in that blessed age,
abounded among them ! It is delivered origi-
nally by Philo JudfEUS, and cited by Euse-
bius Pamphilius, in his Ecclesiastical history;
" That those Christians renounced their sub-
stance, and severed themselves from all the
cares of this life ; and forsaking the cities,
they lived solitarily in fields and gardens.
They accounted the company of those who
followed the contrary life of cares and bustles,
unprofitable and hurtful to them; to the end
that with earnest and fervent desires, they
might imitate those who led this prophetical
and heavenly life. In many places, says he,
this people live, for it behoveth as well the
Grecians as the Barbarian, to be partakers of
this absolute goodness; but in Egypt, in every
province they abound ; and especially about
Alexandria. From all parts the better sort
withdrew themselves to the place of these
worshippers, as they were called, as a most
commodious place, adjoining to the lake of
Mary, in a valley very fit, both for its security
and the temperance of the air. They are



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 70 of 105)