The GOSPEL TRUTH
NO CROSS, NO CROWN
A Discourse showing the Nature and Discipline of the Holy Cross of Christ, and that, the Denial of Self, and Daily Bearing of Christ's Cross, is the alone Way to the Rest and Kingdom of God.
By William Penn
Founder of the Colony of Pennsylvania
THERE is another piece of our nonconformity to the world that renders us very clownish to the breeding of it, and that is, thou for you, and that without difference or respect to persons; a thing that to some looks so rude it cannot well go down without derision or wrath. But as we have the same original reason for declining this, as the foregoing customs, so I shall add what to me looks reasonable in our defence; though it is very probable height of mind, in some of those that blame us, will very hardly allow them to believe that the word reasonable is reconcileable with so silly a practice as this is esteemed.
2. Words of themselves are but as so many marks set and employed for necessary and intelligible mediums, or means, whereby men may understandingly express their minds and conceptions to each other: from whence comes conversation. Now, though the world be divided into many nations, each of which, for the most part, has a peculiar language, speech, or dialect, yet have they ever concurred in the same numbers and persons, as much of the ground of right speech. For instance: I love, thou lovest, he loveth, are of the singular number, importing but one, whether in the first, second, or third person: also we love, ye love, they love, are of the plural number, because in each is implied more than one. Which undeniable grammatical rule might be enough to satisfy any that have not forgotten their accidence, that we are not beside reason in our practice. For if thou lovest, be singular, and you love, be plural; and if thou lovest signifies but one; and you love, many; is it not as proper to say, thou lovest, to ten men, as to say, you love, to one man? Or, why not, I love, for we love: and we love, instead of I love? Doubtless it is the same, though most improper, and in speech ridiculous.
3. Our next reason is: if it be improper or uncivil speech, as termed by this vain age, how comes it that the Hebrew, Greek, and Roman authors, used in schools and universities, have no other? Why should they not be a rule in that, as well as other things? And why, I pray then, are we so ridiculous for being thus far grammatical? Is it reasonable that children should be whipped at school for putting you for thou, as having made false Latin; and yet that we must be, though not whipped, reproached, and often abused, when we use the contrary propriety of speech?
4. But in the third place, it is neither improper nor uncivil, but much otherwise; because it is used in all languages, speeches, and dialects, and that through all ages. This is very plain: as for example, it was God's language when He first spake to Adam, viz. Hebrew: also it is the Assyrian, Chaldean, Grecian, and Latin speech. And now among the Turks, Tartars, Muscovites, Indians, Persians, Italians, Spaniards, French, Dutch, Germans, Polonians, Swedes, Danes, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, as well as English, there is a distinction preserved, and the word thou is not lost in the word which goes for you. And though some of the modern tongues have done as we do, yet upon the same error. But by this it is plain, that thou is no upstart, nor yet improper, but the only proper word to be used in all languages to a single person; because otherwise all sentences, speeches, and discourses may be very ambiguous, certain, and equivocal. If a jury pronounce a verdict, or a judge a sentence, three being at the bar, upon three occasions, very differently culpable, and should say, You are here guilty and to die; or innocent, and discharged; who knows who is guilty or innocent? May be but one, perhaps two; or it may be, all three: therefore our indictments run in the singular number, as Hold up thy hand: thou are indicted in the name of, &c., and for that thou, not having the fear of God, &c. And it holds the same in all conversation. Nor can this be avoided but by many unnecessary circumlocutions. And as the preventing of such length and obscurity was doubtless the first reason for the distinction, so cannot that be justly disused till the reason be first removed; which can never be whilst two are in the world.
5. But this is not all; it was first ascribed in way of flattery to proud popes and emperors, imitating the heathen's vain homage to their gods; thereby ascribing a plural honour to a single person: as if one pope had been made up of many gods, and one emperor of many men; for which reason, you only to be used to many, became first spoken to one. It seems the word thou looked like too lean and thin a respect; and, therefore, some bigger than they should be would have a style suitable to their own ambition: a ground we cannot build our practice on; for what began it only loves it still. But supposing you to be proper to a prince, it will not follow it is to a common person. For his edict runs, We will and require. because, perhaps, in conjunction with his council: and therefore you to a private person is an abuse of the word. But as pride first gave it birth, so hath she only promoted it. Monsieur, sir, and madame were originally names given to none but the king, his brother, and their wives, both in France and England; yet now the ploughman in France is called monsieur, and his wife madame: and men of ordinary trades in England, sir, and their wives, dame--which is the legal title of a lady, or else mistress--which is the same with madame in French. So prevalent hath pride and flattery been in all ages, the one to give and the other to receive respects, as they term it.
6. But some will tell us, custom should rule us; and that is against us. But it is easily answered, and more truly, that though in things reasonable or indifferent, custom is obliging or harmless, yet in things unreasonable or unlawful, she has no authority. our custom can no more change numbers than genders, nor yoke one and you together, than make a man into a woman, or one into a thousand. But if custom be to conclude us, it is for us: for as custom is nothing more than ancient usage, I appeal to the practice of mankind, from the beginning of the world through all nations, against the novelty of this confusion, viz. you to one person. Let custom, which is ancient practice and fact, issue this question. Mistake me not: I know words are nothing, but as men give them a value or force by use; but then if you will discharge thou, and that you must succeed in its place, let us have a distinguishing word instead of you to be used in speech to many: but to use the same word for one and many, when there are two, and that only to please a proud and haughty humour in man, is not reasonable in our sense: which we hope is Christian, though not modish.
7. But if thou to a single person be improper or uncivil, God Himself, all the holy fathers and prophets, Christ Jesus, and his apostles, the primitive saints, all languages throughout the world, and our own law proceedings are guilty; which, with submission, were great presumption to imagine. Besides, we all know it is familiar with most of our authors to preface their discourses to the reader in the same language of thee and thou: as, Reader, thou art desired, &c. Or, Reader, this is written to inform thee of the occasion, &c. And it cannot be denied that the most famous poems dedicated to love or majesty are written in this style. Read of each in Chaucer, Spenser, Waller, Cowley, Dryden, &c. Why then should it be so homely, ill-bred, and insufferable in us? This, I conceive, can never be answered.
8. I doubt not at all that something altogether as singular attended the speech of Christ and his disciples, for I remember it was urged upon Peter in the high priest's palace, as a proof of his belonging to Jesus, when he denied his Lord: "Surely," said they, "thou art also one of them: for thy speech betrayeth thee" (Matt.26:73). They had guessed by his looks but just before that he had been with Jesus; but when they discoursed with him, his language put them all out of doubt: surely then he was one of them, and he had been with Jesus. Something it was he had learned in his company that was odd and observable; to be sure, not of the world's behaviour. Without question, the garb, gait, and speech of his followers differed, as well as his doctrine, from the world; for it was a part of his doctrine it should be so. It is easy to believe they were more plain, grave, and precise, which is more credible from the way which poor, confident, fearful Peter took to disguise the business; for he fell to cursing and swearing--a sad shift. But he thought that the likeliest way to remove the suspicion that was most unlike Christ. And the policy took; for it silenced their objections, and Peter was as orthodox as they. But though they found him not out, the cock's crow did; which made Peter remember his dear suffering Lord's words: and he went forth, and wept bitterly that he had denied his Master, who was then delivered up to die for him.
9. But our last reason is of most weight with me, and because argumentum ad hominem, it is most heavy with our despisers, which is this: it should not therefore be urged upon us, because it is a most extravagant piece of pride in a mortal man to require or expect from his fellow-creature a more civil speech or grateful language than he is wont to give to the immortal God and his Creator in all his worship to Him. Art thou, O man, greater than He that made thee? Canst thou approach the God of thy breath and great Judge of thy life with thou and thee, and when thou risest off thy knees scorn a Christian for giving to thee, poor mushroom of the earth, no better language than thou hast given to God but just before? An arrogancy not to be easily equalled! But again, it has either too much or too little respect; if too much, do not reproach and be angry, but gravely and humbly refuse it; if too little, why dost thou show to God no more? Oh whither is man gone! To what a pitch does he soar! He would be used more civilly by us than he uses God; which is to have us make more than a God of him: but he shall want worshippers of us, as well as he wants the divinity in himself that deserves to be worshipped. Certain we are that the Spirit of God seeks not these respects, much less pleads for them, or would be wroth with any that conscientiously refuse to give them. But that this vain generation is guilty of using them, to gratify a vain mind, is too palpable. What capping, what cringing, what scraping, what vain, unmeant words, most hyperbolical expressions, compliments, gross flatteries, and plain lies, under the name of civilities, are men and women guilty of in conversation! Ah, my friends! whence fetch you these examples? What part of all the writings of the holy men of God warrants these things? But, to come nearer to your own profession, is Christ your example herein, whose name you pretend to bear; or those saints of old that lived in desolate places, of whom the world was not worthy (Heb. 11:38): or do you think you follow the practice of those Christians that, in obedience to their Master's life and doctrine, forsook the respect of persons, and relinquished the fashions, honour, and glory of this transitory world; whose qualifications lay not in external gestures, respects, and compliments, but in a meek and quiet spirit (1 Peter 3:4), adorned with temperance, virtue, modesty, gravity, patience, and brotherly kindness; which were the tokens of true honour, and only badges of respect and nobility in those Christian times? Oh! no. But is it not to expose ourselves both to your contempt and fury, that we imitate them, and not you? And tell us, pray, are not romances, plays, masks, gaming, fiddlers, &c., the entertainments that most delight you? Had you the Spirit of Christianity indeed, could you consume your most precious little time in so many unnecessary visits, games, and pastimes; in your vain compliments, courtships, feigned stories, flatteries, and fruitless novelties, and what not; invented and used to your diversion, to make you easy in your forgetfulness of God: which never was the Christian way of living, but entertainment of the heathen that knew not God? Oh! were you truly touched with a sense of your sins, and in any measure born again; did you take up the cross of Jesus and live under it, these, which so much please your wanton and sensual nature, would find no place with you. This is not seeking the things that are above (Col. 3:1), to have the heart thus set on things that are below; nor working out your own salvation with fear and trembling, to spend your days in vanity. This is not crying with Elihu, "I know not to give flattering titles to men; for in so doing my Maker would soon take me away." This is not to deny self, and lay up a more hidden and enduring substance, an eternal inheritance in the heavens, that will not pass away. Well, my friends, whatever you think, your plea of custom will find no place at God's tribunal: the light of Christ in your own hearts will overrule it; and this Spirit, against which we testify, shall then appear to be what we say it is. Say not I am serious about slight things; but beware you of levity in serious things.
10. Before I close, I shall add a few testimonies from men of general credit, in favour of our nonconformity to the world in this particular.
Luther, the great reformer, whose sayings were oracles with the age he lived in, and of no less reputation now, with many that object against us, was so far from condemning our plain speech, that in his Ludus, he sports himself with you to a single person as an incongruous and ridiculous speech, viz. Magister, vos estis iratus? Master, are you angry? As absurd with him in Latin, as My masters, art thou angry? is in English. Erasmus, a learned man, and an exact critic in speech, than whom I know not any we may so properly refer the grammar of the matter to, not only derides it, but bestows a whole discourse upon rendering it absurd: plainly manifesting that it is impossible to preserve numbers if you, the only word for more than one, be used to express one: as also, that the original of this corruption was the corruption of flattery. Lipsius affirms of the ancient Romans, "The manner of greeting now in vogue was not in use amongst them." To conclude: Howell, in his History of France, gives us an ingenious account of its original; where he not only assures us that "anciently the peasants thou'd their kings, but that pride and flattery first put inferiors upon paying a plural respect to the single person of every superior, and superiors upon receiving it." And though we had not the practice of God and man so undeniably to justify our plain and homely speech, yet, since we are persuaded that its original was from pride and flattery, we cannot in conscience use it. And however we may be censured as singular by those loose and airy minds that, through the continual love of earthly pleasures, consider not the true rise and tendency of words and things; yet to us whom God has convinced by his light and Spirit in our hearts of the folly and evil of such courses, and brought into a spiritual discerning of the nature and ground of the world's fashions, they appear to be fruits of pride and flattery: and we dare not continue in such vain compliances to earthly minds, lost we offend God, and burden our consciences. But having been sincerely affected with the reproofs of instruction, and our hearts being brought into a watchful subjection to the righteous law of Jesus, so as to bring our deeds to the light (John 3:19-21), to see in whom they are wrought, if in God or not; we cannot, we dare not conform ourselves to the fashions of the world that pass away; knowing assuredly, that "for every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment" (Matt.12:36).
11. Wherefore, reader, whether thou art a night-walking Nicodemus, or a scoffing scribe; one that would visit the blessed Messiah, but in the dark customs of the world, that thou mightest pass as undiscerned, for fear of bearing his reproachful cross; or else a favourer of Haman's pride, and countest these testimonies but a foolish singularity; I must say, Divine love enjoins me to be a messenger of truth to thee, and a faithful witness against the evil of this degenerate world, as in other, so in these things; in which the spirit of vanity and lust hath got so great a head, and lived so long uncontrolled, that it hath impudence enough to term its darkness light, and to call its evil offspring by the names due to a better nature, the more easily to deceive people into the practice of them. And truly, so very blind and insensible are most of what spirit they are, and ignorant of the meek and self-denying life of holy Jesus, whose name they profess; that to call each other Rabbi, that is, master; to bow to men, which I call worship; and to greet with flattering titles, and to do their fellow-creatures homage; to scorn that language to themselves that they give to God, and to spend their time and estate to gratify their wanton minds; the customs of the Gentiles, that knew not God, pass with them for civility, good-breeding, decency, recreation, accomplishments, &c. Oh that man would consider, since there are but two spirits, one good the other evil, which of them it is that inclines the world to these things; and whether it be Nicodemus or Mordecai in thee, that doth befriend these despised Christians, which makes thee ashamed to disown that openly in conversation with the world, which the true light hath made vanity and sin to thee in secret! Or if thou art a despiser, tell me, I pray thee, what dost thou think thy mockery, anger, or contempt doth most resemble, proud Haman or good Mordecai? My friend, know that no man hath more delighted in, or been prodigal of those vanities called civilities than myself; and could I have covered my conscience under the fashions of the world, truly I had found a shelter from showers of reproach that have fallen very often and thick upon me; but had I, with Joseph, conformed to Egypt's customs, I had sinned against my God and lost my peace. But I would not have thee think it is a mere thou or title simply or nakedly in themselves we boggle at, or that we would beget or set up any form inconsistent with sincerity or true civility, there is but too much of that; but the esteem and value the vain minds of men do put upon them, that ought to be crossed and stripped of their delights, constrain us to testify so steadily against them. And this know, from the sense God's Holy Spirit hath begotten in us, that that which requires these customs, and begets fear to leave them, and pleads for them, and is displeased if not used and paid, is the spirit of pride and flattery in the ground; though frequency, use, or generosity may have abated its strength in some: and this being discovered by the light that now shines from heaven in the hearts of the despised Christians I have communion with, necessitates them to this testimony; and myself, as one of them and for them, in a reproof of the unfaithful who would walk undiscerned, though convinced to the contrary; and for an allay to the proud despisers, who scorn us as a people guilty of affectation and singularity. For the eternal God, who is great amongst us, and on his way in the earth to make his power known, will root up every plant that his right hand hath not planted. Wherefore let me beseech thee, reader, to consider the foregoing reasons, which were mostly given me from the Lord, in that time when my condescension to these fashions would have been purchased at almost any rate; but the certain sense I had of their contrariety to the meek and self-denying life of holy Jesus, required of me my disuse of them, and faithful testimony against them. I speak the truth in Christ; I lie not: I would not have brought myself under censure and disdain for them, could I, with peace of conscience, have kept my belief under a worldly behaviour. It was extremely irksome to me to decline, and expose myself; but having an assured and repeated sense of the original of these vain customs, that they rise from pride, self-love, and flattery, I dared not gratify that mind in myself or others. And for this reason it is, that I am earnest with my readers to be cautious how they reprove us on this occasion; and do once more entreat them that they would seriously weigh in themselves, whether it be the spirit of the world or of the Father, that is so angry with our honest, plain, and harmless thou and thee: that so every plant that God our heavenly Father hath not planted in the sons and daughters of men may be rooted up.
BUT pride stops not here; she excites people to an excessive value and care of their persons: they must have great and punctual attendance, stately furniture, rich and exact apparel. All which help to make up that pride of life that John tells us is not of the Father, but of the world (1 John 2:16). A sin God charged upon the haughty daughters of Zion (Isa. 3:16), and on the proud prince and people of Tyrus (Ezek. 22 & 28.). Read these chapters, and measure this age by their sins, and what is coming on these nations by their judgments. But at the present I shall only touch upon the first, viz. the excessive value people have of their persons; leaving the rest to be considered under the last head of this discourse, which is luxury, where they may be not improperly placed.
2. That people are generally proud of their persons is too visible and troublesome; especially if they have any pretence either to blood or beauty; the one has raised many quarrels among men, and the other among women, and men too often for their sakes and at their excitements. But to the first: What a pother has this noble blood made in the world:--antiquity of name or family, whose father or mother, great grandfather, or great grandmother was best descended or allied; what stock or what clan they came of:--what coat of arms they gave:--which had, of right, the precedence! But methinks nothing of men's folly has less show of reason to palliate it.
3. For, first, what matter is it of whom any one is descended that is not of ill fame: since it is his own virtue that must raise, or vice depress him? An ancestor's character is no excuse to a man's ill actions, but an aggravation of his degeneracy: and since virtue comes not by generation, I neither am the better nor the worse for my forefather; to be sure, not in God's account, nor should it be in man's. Nobody would endure injuries the easier, or reject favours the more, for coming by the hand of a man well or ill descended. I confess it were greater honour to have had no blots, and with an hereditary estate, to have had a lineal descent or worth; but that was never found: no; not in the most blessed of families upon earth, I mean Abraham's. To be descended of wealth and titles fills no man's head with brains or heart with truth: those qualities come from a higher cause. It is vanity then and most condemnable pride for a man of bulk and character to despise another of less size in the world and of meaner alliance for want of them: because the latter may have the merit, where the former has only the effects of it in an ancestor: and though the one be great by means of a forefather, the other is so too, but it is by his own: then, pray, which is the braver man of the two?
4. Oh, says the person proud of blood, It was never a good world since we have had so many upstart gentlemen! But what should others have said of that man's ancestor, when he started first up into the knowledge of the world? For he and all men and families, aye, and all states and kingdoms too, have had their upstarts, that is, their beginnings. This is being like the true church, because old, not because good: for families to be noble by being old, and not by being virtuous. No such matter: it must be age in virtue, or else virtue before age; for otherwise a man should be noble by the means of his predecessor, and yet the predecessor less noble than he, because he was the acquirer: which is a paradox that will puzzle all their heraldry to explain. Strange! that they should be more noble than their ancestor that got their nobility for them! But if this be absurd, as it is, then the upstart is the noble man: the man that got it by his virtue; and those are only entitled to his honour that are imitators of his virtue: the rest may bear his name from his blood, but that is all. If virtue then give nobility, which heathen themselves agree, then families are no longer truly noble than they are virtuous. And if virtue go not by blood, but by the qualifications of the descendants, it follows blood is excluded: else blood would bar virtue; and no man that wanted the one should be allowed the benefit of the other: which were to stint and bound nobility for want of antiquity, and make virtue useless.
No, let blood and name go together; but pray let nobility and virtue keep company, for they are nearest of kin. It is thus profited by God Himself, that best knows how to apportion things with an equal and just hand. He neither likes nor dislikes by descent; nor does He regard what people were, but are. He remembers not the righteousness of any man that leaves his righteousness (Ezek. 18:26); much less any unrighteous man for the righteousness of his ancestor.
5. But if these men of blood please to think themselves concerned to believe and reverence God in his holy Scriptures, they may learn that "in the beginning he made of one blood all nations of men to dwell upon all the earth "(Acts 17:26); and that we all descended from one father and mother. A more certain original than the best of us can assign. From thence go down to Noah, who was the second planter of the human race, and we are upon some certainty for our forefathers. What violence has reaped or virtues merited since, and how far we that are alive are concerned in either, will be hard for us to determine but a very few ages off us.
6. But, methinks it should suffice to say, our own eyes see that men of blood, out of their gear and trappings, without their feathers and finery, have no more marks of honour by nature stamped upon them, than their inferior neighbours. Nay, themselves being judges, they will frankly tell us, they feel all those passions in their blood, that make them like other men, if not further from the virtue that truly dignifies. The lamentable ignorance and debauchery that now rages among too many of our greater sort of folks is too clear and casting an evidence in the point: and pray tell me of what blood are they come?
7. Howbeit, when I have said all this, I intend not, by debasing one false quality, to make insolent another that is not true. I would not be thought to set the churl on the present gentleman's shoulder; by no means; his rudeness will not mend the matter. But what I have written is to give aim to all where true nobility dwells, that every one may arrive at it by the ways of virtue and goodness. But for all this, I must allow a great advantage to the gentleman, and therefore prefer his station: just as the Apostle Paul, who after he had humbled the Jews, that insulted the Christians with their laws and rites, gave them the advantage over all other nations in statutes and judgments. I must grant that the condition of our great men is much to be preferred to the ranks of our inferior people. For, first, they have more power to do good; and if their hearts be equal to their ability, they are blessings to the people of any country. Secondly, the eyes of the people are usually directed to them; and if they will be kind, just, and hopeful, they shall have their affections and services. Thirdly, they are not under equal straits with the inferior sort; and consequently they have more help, leisure, and occasion to polish their passions and tempers with books and conversation. Fourthly, they have more time to observe the actions of other nations: to travel and view the laws, customs, and interests of other countries, and bring home whatsoever is worthy or imitable. And so an easier way is open for great men to get honour; and such as love true reputation will embrace the best means to it. But because it too often happens that great men do but little mind to give God the glory of their prosperity, and to live answerable to his mercies; but on the contrary, live without God in the world, fulfilling the lusts thereof, his hand is often seen, either in impoverishing or extinguishing them, and raising up men of more virtue and humility to their estates and dignity. However, I must allow that among people of this rank there have been some of them of more than ordinary virtue, whose examples have given light to their families. And it has been something natural for some of their descendants to endeavor to keep up the credit of their houses in proportion to the merit of their founder. And to say true, if there be any advantage in such ascent, it is not from blood, but education: for blood has no intelligence in it, and is often spurious and uncertain; but education has a mighty influence and strong bias upon the affections and actions of men. In this the ancient nobles and gentry of this kingdom did excel: and it were much to be wished that our great people would set about to recover the ancient economy of their houses, the strict and virtuous discipline of their ancestors, when men were honoured for their achievements, and when nothing more exposed a man to shame, than being born to a nobility that he had not a virtue to support.
8. Oh! but I have a higher motive. The glorious gospel of Jesus Christ, which having taught this northern isle, and all ranks professing to believe in it, let me prevail upon you to seek the honour that it has brought from heaven, to all the true disciples of it, who are indeed the followers of God's Lamb, that takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). Receive with meekness his gracious word into your hearts, that subdues the world's lusts, and leads in the holy way to blessedness. Here are charms no carnal eye hath seen, nor ear heard, nor heart perceived, but they are revealed to such humble converts by his Spirit. Remember you are but creatures, and that you must die, and after all be judged.
9. But personal pride ends not in nobility of blood; it leads folks to a fond value of their persons, be they noble or ignoble; especially if they have any pretence to shape or beauty. It is admirable to see how much it is possible for some to be taken with themselves, as if nothing else deserved their regard, or the good opinion of others. It would abate their folly if they could find in their hearts to spare but half the time to think of God and their latter end, which they most prodigally spend in washing, perfuming, painting, patching, attiring, and dressing. In these things they are precise, and very artificial; and for cost they spare not. But that which aggravates the evil is that the pride of one might comfortably supply the need of ten. Gross impiety that it is, that a nation's pride should not be spared to a nation's poor! But what is this for at last? Only to be admired, to have reverence, draw love, and command the eyes and affections of beholders. And so fantastic are they in it, as hardly to be pleased too. Nothing is good, or fine, or fashionable enough for them: the sun itself, the blessing of heaven, and comfort of the earth, must not shine upon them, lest it tan them; nor the wind blow, for fear it should disorder them. O impious nicety! Yet while they value themselves above all else, they make themselves the vassals of their own pride; worshipping their shape, feature, or complexion, whichsoever is their excellency. The end of all which is but too often to excite unlawful love, which I call lust, and draw one another into as miserable as evil circumstances: in single persons it is of ill consequence; for if it does not awaken unchaste desires, it lays no foundation for solid and lasting union: the want of which helps to make so many unhappy marriages in the world: but in married people the sin is aggravated; for they have none of right to please but one another; and to affect the gaiety and vanity of youth is an ill sign of loving and living well at home: it looks rather like dressing for a market. It has sad effects in families: discontents, partings, duels, poisonings, and other infamous murders. No age can better tell us the sad effects of this sort of pride than this we live in; as, how excessively wanton, so how fatal it has been to the sobriety, virtue, peace, and health of families in this kingdom.
10. But I must needs say, that of all creatures, this sort of pride does least become the old and homely, if I may call the ill-favoured and deformed so; for the old are proud only of what they had, which shows, to their reproach, their pride has outlived their beauty, and, when they should be repenting, they are making work for repentance. But the homely are yet worse, they are proud of what they never had, nor ever can have: nay, their persons seem as if they were given for a perpetual humiliation to their minds; and to be proud of them is loving pride for pride's sake, and to be proud, without a temptation to be proud. And yet in my whole life I have observed nothing more doting on itself: a strange infatuation and enchantment of pride! What! Not to see right with their eyes, because of the partiality of their minds? This self-love is blind indeed. But to add expense to the vanity, and to be costly upon that which cannot be mended, one would think they should be downright mad; especially if they consider, that they look the homelier for the things that are thought handsome, and do but thereby draw their deformity more into notice, by that which does so little become them.
But in such persons' follies we have a specimen of man; what a creature he is in his lapse from his primitive image. All this, as Jesus said of sin of old, comes from within (Matt. 15:11-20); that is the disregard that men and women have to the word of their Creator in their hearts (Deut. 30:14; Rom. 10: 8); which shows pride and teaches humility, and self-abasement, and directs the mind to the true object of honour and worship; and that with an awe and reverence suitable to his sovereignty and majesty. Poor mortals! But living dirt! Made of what they tread on: who, with all their pride, cannot secure themselves from the spoil of sickness, much less from the stroke of death! Oh! did people consider the inconstancy of all visible things, the cross and adverse occurrences of man's life, the certainty of his departure and eternal judgment, it is to be hoped they would bring their deeds to Christ's light in their hearts (John 3:20,21), and they would see if they were wrought in God, or not, as the beloved disciple tells us from his dear Master's mouth. Art thou shapely, comely, beautiful--the exact draught of a human creature? Admire that Power that made thee so. Live an harmonious life to the curious make and frame of thy creation; and let the beauty of thy body teach thee to beautify thy mind with holiness, the ornament of the beloved of God. Art thou homely or deformed? magnify that goodness that did not make thee a beast; and with the grace that is given unto thee, for it has appeared unto all, learn to adorn thy soul with enduring beauty. Remember the King of heaven's daughter, the church, of which true Christians are members, is all glorious within. And if thy soul excel, thy body will only set off the lustre of thy mind. Nothing is homely in God's sight but sin; and that man and woman that commune with their own hearts and sin not; who, in the light of holy Jesus, watch over the movings and inclinations of their own souls, and that suppress every evil in its conception, they love the yoke and Cross of Christ, and are daily by it crucified to the world, but live to God in that life which outlives the fading satisfactions of it.
TO conclude this great head of pride, let us briefly see, upon the whole matter, what is the character of a proud man in himself, and in divers relations and capacities. A proud man then is a kind of glutton upon himself; for he is never satisfied with loving and admiring himself; whilst nothing else, with him, is worthy either of love or care; if good enough to be the servant of his will, it is as much as he can find in his heart to allow: as if he had been only made for himself, or rather that he had made himself. For as he despises man, because he cannot abide an equal, so he does not love God, because he would not have a superior: he cannot bear to owe his being to another, lest he should thereby acknowledge one above himself. He is one that is mighty big with the honour of his ancestors, but not of the virtue that brought them to it; much less will he trouble himself to imitate them. He can tell you of his pedigree, his antiquity, what estate, what matches; but forgets that they are gone, and that he must die too.
2. But how troublesome a companion is a proud man! Ever positive and controlling; and if you yield not, insolent and quarrelsome: yet at the upshot of the matter, cowardly; but if strongest, cruel. He feels no more of other men's miseries than if he were not a man, or it were a sin to be sensible. For not feeling himself interested, he looks no further; he will not disquiet his thoughts with other men's infelicities; it shall content him to believe they are just: and he had rather churlishly upbraid them as the cause, than be ready to commiserate or relieve them. So that compassion and charity are with him as useless as humility and meekness are hateful.
3. A proud man makes an ill child, servant, and subject; he contemns his parents, master, and prince; he will not be subject. He thinks himself too wise or too old to be directed; as if it were a slavish thing to obey; and that none were free that may not do what they please; which turns duty out of doors and degrades authority. On the other hand, if he be a husband, or father, or master, there is scarcely any enduring: he is so insufferably curious and testy that it is an affliction to live with him; for hardly can any hand carry it even enough to please him. Some peccadillo about his clothes, his diet, his lodging, or attendance quite disorders him; but especially if he fancies any want of the state and respect he looks for. Thus pride destroys the nature of relations: on the one side learns to contemn duty; and on the other side, it turns love into fear, and makes the wife a servant, and the children and servants slaves.
4. But the proud man makes an ill neighhour too, for he is an enemy to hospitality: he despises to receive kindness, because he would not show any, nor be thought to need it. Besides, it looks too equal and familiar for his haughty humour. Emulation and detraction are his element; for he is jealous of attributing any praise to others, where just; lest that should cloud and lessen him, to whom it never could be due; he is the man that fears what he should wish, to wit, that others should do well. But that is not all; he maliciously miscalls their acts of virtue, which his corruptions will not let him imitate, that they may get no credit by them. If he wants any occasion of doing mischief, he can make one: either they use him ill, or have some design upon him; the other day they paid him not the cap and knee: the distance and respect he thinks his quality, parts, or merits do require. A small thing serves a proud man to pick a quarrel; of all creatures the most jealous, sullen, spiteful, and revengeful: he can no more forgive an injury, than forbear to do one.
5. Nor is this all: a proud man can never be a friend to anybody. For besides that his ambition may always be bribed by honour and preferment to betray that relation, he is unconversable; he must not be catechised and counselled, much less reproved or contradicted; no, he is too covetous of himself to spare another man a share, and much too high, stiff, and touchy: he will not away with those freedoms that a real friendship requires. To say true, he contemns the character; it is much too familiar and humble for him: his mighty soul would know nothing besides himself and vassals to stock the world. He values other men, as we do cattle, for their service only; and if he could, would use them so; but as it happens, the number and force are unequal.
6. But a proud man in power is very mischievous; for his pride is the more dangerous by his greatness, since from ambition in private men it becomes tyranny in him: it would reign alone; nay live so, rather than have competitors: Aut Caesar aut nullus. Reason must not check it, nor rules of law admit it; and either it can do no wrong, or it is sedition to complain of the wrong that it does. The men of this temper would have nothing thought amiss they do; at least, they count it dangerous to allow it to be so, though so it be; for that would imply they had erred, which it is always matter of state to deny: no, they will rather choose to perish obstinately than, by acknowledging, yield away the reputation of better judging to inferiors, though it were their prudence to do so. And indeed, it is all the satisfaction that proud great men make to the world for the miseries they often bring upon it, that, first or last, upon a division, they leave their real interest to follow some one excess of humour, and are almost ever destroyed by it. This is the end pride gives proud men, and the ruin it brings upon them, after it has punished others by them.
7. But above all things, pride is intolerable in men pretending to religion, and of them in ministers; for they are names of the greatest contradiction. I speak without respect or anger to persons or parties; for I only touch upon the bad of all. What shall pride do with religion, that rebukes it? Or ambition with ministers, whose very office is humility? And yet there are but too many of them, that, besides an equal guilt with others in the fleshly pride of the world, are even proud of that name and office which ought always to remind them of self-denial. Yea, they use it as the beggars do the name of God and Christ, only to get by it: placing to their own account the advantages of that reverend profession, and thereby making their function but a political handle to raise themselves to the great preferments of the world. But Oh then! how can such be his ministers that said, "My kingdom is not of this world"? (John 18:36). Who, of mankind, more self-conceited than these men? If contradicted, as arrogant and angry, as if it were their calling to be so. Counsel one of them, he scorns you: reprove him, and he is almost ready to excommunicate you: "I am a minister and an elder:" flying thither to secure himself from the reach of just censure, which indeed exposes him the more to it: and therefore his fault cannot be the less, by how much it is worse in a minister to do ill, and spurn at reproof, than an ordinary man.
8. Oh! but he pleads an exemption by his office: what! Shall he breed up chickens to pick out his own eyes? Be rebuked or instructed by a layman or parishioner? A man of less age, learning, or ability? No such matter: he would have us believe that his ministerial prerogative has placed him out of the reach of popular impeachment. He is not subject to vulgar judgments. Even questions about religion are schism: believe as he says: it is not for you to pry so curiously into the mysteries of religion: never good day since laymen meddle so much with the minister's office. Not considering, poor man, that the contrary is most true: not many good days since ministers meddled so much in laymen's business. Though perhaps there is little reason for this distinction, besides spiritual gifts, and the improvement of them by a diligent use of them for the good of others.
Such good sayings as these, Be ready to learn: answer with meekness: let every man speak as of the gift of God that is in him: if anything be revealed to him that sits by, let the first hold his peace: be not lords over God's heritage, but meek and lowly; washing the feet of the people, as Jesus did those of his poor disciples;--are unreasonable and antiquated instructions with some clergy, and it is little less than heresy to remind them of these things; a mark of great disaffection to the church in their opinion. For by this time their pride has made them the church, and the people but the porch at best; a cipher that signifies nothing, unless they clap their figure before it: forgetting, that if they were as good as they should be, they could be but ministers, stewards, and under-shepherds; that is, servants to the church, family, flock, and heritage of God: and not that they are that church, family, flock, and heritage, which they are only servants unto. Remember the words of Christ, "Let him that would be greatest be your servant" (Matt. 20:26).
9. There is but one place to be found in the holy Scripture, where the word Clerus can properly be applied to the church, and they have got it to themselves; from whence they call themselves the clergy, that is, the inheritance or heritage of God. Whereas Peter exhorts the ministers of the gospel not to be lords over God's heritage, nor to feed them for filthy lucre (1 Peter 5:2,3). Peter, belike, foresaw pride and avarice to be the ministers' temptations; and indeed they have often proved their fall: and to say true, they could hardly fall by worse. Nor is there any excuse to be made for them in these two respects, which is not worse than their sin. For if they have not been lords over God's heritage, it is because they have made themselves that heritage, and disinherited the people; so that now they may be the people's lords, with a salvo to good old Peter's exhortation.
And for the other sin of avarice, they can only avoid it, and speak truth thus; that never feeding the flock, they cannot be said to feed it for lucre: that is they get the people's money for nothing. An example of which is given us, by the complaint of God Himself, from the practice of the proud, covetous, false prophets of old, that the people gave their money for that which was not bread, and their labour for that which did not profit them (Isa. 60:2): And why? Because then the priest had no vision; and too many now despise it.
10. But, alas! when all is done, what folly, as well as irreligion, is there in pride! It cannot add one cubit to any man's stature: what crosses can it hinder? What disappointments help, or harm frustrate? It delivers not from the common stroke; sickness disfigures, pain mis-shapes, and death ends the proud man's fabric. Six feet of cold earth bounds his big thoughts; and his person, that was too good for any place, must at last lodge within the straight limits of so little and so dark a cave: and he who thought nothing well enough for him is quickly the entertainment of the lowest of all animals, even worms themselves. Thus pride and pomp come to the common end; but with this difference, less pity from the living, and more pain to the dying. The proud man's antiquity cannot secure him from death, nor his heraldry from judgment. Titles of honour vanish at this extremity; and no power or wealth, no distance or respect, can rescue or insure them. As the tree falls, it lies; and as death leaves men, judgment finds them.
11. Oh! what can prevent this ill conclusion? And what can remedy this woeful declension from ancient meekness, humility, and piety, and that godly life and power which were so conspicuous in the authority of the preachings and examples of the living of the first and purest ages of Christianity? Truly, nothing but an inward and sincere examination, by the testimony of the holy light and spirit of Jesus, of the condition of their souls and minds towards Christ, and a better inquiry into the matter and examples of holy record. It was his complaint of old, "that light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil" (John 3:19). If thou wouldst be a child of God, and a believer in Christ, thou must be a child of Light. O man, thou must bring thy deeds to it and examine them by that holy lamp in thy soul, which is the candle of the Lord, that shows thee thy pride and arrogancy, and reproves thy delight in the vain fashions of this world. Religion is a denial of self; yea, of self-religion too. It is a firm tie or bond upon the soul to holiness, whose end is happiness; for by it men come to see the Lord. The pure in heart, says Jesus, see God (Matt. 5:8): he that once comes to bear Christ's yoke is not carried away by the devil's allurements; he finds excelling joys in his watchfulness and obedience. If men loved the Cross of Christ, his precepts and doctrine, they would cross their own wills which lead them to break Christ's holy will and lose their own souls in doing the devil's. Had Adam minded that holy light in Paradise more than the serpent's bait, and stayed his mind upon his Creator, the rewarder of fidelity, he had seen the snare of the enemy, and resisted him. Oh! do not delight in that which is forbidden. Look not upon it, if thou wouldst not be captivated by it. Bring not the guilt of sins of knowledge upon thy own soul. Did not Christ submit his will to his Father's, and for the joy that was set before Him, endure the cross and despise the shame (Heb. 12:2) of a new and untrodden way to glory? Thou also must submit thy will to Christ's holy law and light in thy heart, and for the reward He sets before thee, to wit, eternal life, endure his cross, and despise the shame of it. All desire to rejoice with Him, but few will suffer with Him, or for Him. Many are the companions of his table; not many of his abstinence. The loaves they follow, but the cup of his agony they leave: it is too bitter, they like not to drink thereof. And divers will magnify his miracles, that are offended at the ignominy of his cross. But, O man, as He, for thy salvation, so thou, for the love of Him, must humble thyself (Phil. 2:7), and be contented to be of no reputation, that thou mayst follow Him, not in a carnal, formal way, of vain man's tradition and prescription, but as the Holy Ghost, by the apostle, doth express it, in a new and living way (Heb. 10:19,20), which Jesus had consecrated, that brings all that walk in it to the eternal rest of God: whereunto He Himself is entered, who is the holy and only blessed Redeemer.
I AM come to the second part of this discourse, which is avarice or covetousness, an epidemic and a raging distemper in the world, attended with all the mischiefs that can make men miserable in themselves, and in society; so near akin to the foregoing evil, pride, that they are seldom apart: Liberality being almost as hateful to the proud, as to the covetous, I shall define it thus: Covetousness is the love of money or riches (Ephes. 5:3,5): which, as the apostle hath it, "is the root of all evil" (1 Tim. 6: 9,10). It branches itself into these three parts: first, desiring of unlawful things; secondly, unlawful desiring of lawful things; and lastly, hoarding up or unprofitably withholding the benefit of them from the relief of private persons, or the public. I shall first deliver the sense of Scripture, and what examples are therein afforded against this impiety: and next, my own reasons, with some authorities from authors of credit. By which it will appear, that the working of the love of riches out of the hearts of people is as much the business of the Cross of Christ, as the rooting out of any one sin that man is fallen into.
2. And first, of desiring, or coveting of unlawful things: it is expressly forbidden by God Himself, in the law He delivered to Moses upon Mount Sinai, for a rule to his people the Jews to walk by: "Thou shalt not covet," said God, "thy neighbour's house: thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his man-servant, nor his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbour's" (Exod. 20:17). This God confirmed by thunderings and lightnings, and other sensible solemnities, to strike the people with more awe in receiving and keeping of it, and to make the breach of these moral precepts more terrible to them. Micah complains in his time, "They covet fields, and take them by violence" (Micah 2:2); but their end was misery. Therefore was it said of old, "Woe to them that covet an evil covetousness;" this is to our point. We have many remarkable instances of this in Scripture; two of which I will briefly report.
3. David, though otherwise a good man, by unwatchfulness is taken; the beauty of Uriah's wife was too hard for him, being disarmed, and off from his spiritual watch. There was no dissuasive would do; Uriah must be put upon a desperate service, where it was great odds if he survived it. This was to hasten the unlawful satisfaction of his desires, by a way that looked not like direct murder. The contrivance took; Uriah is killed, and his wife is quickly David's. This interpreted David's covetousness. But went it off so? No, his pleasure soon turned to anguish and bitterness of spirit: his soul was overwhelmed with sorrow: the waves went over his head (Psalm 51; 77; 42:7): he was consumed within him: he was stuck in the mire and clay; he cried, he wept: yea, his eyes were as a fountain of tears (Psalm 69:2,14). Guiltiness was upon him, and he must be purged; his sins washed white as snow, that were red as crimson, or he is undone for ever. His repentance prevailed: behold, what work this part of covetousness makes! What evil! What sorrow! Oh that the people of this covetousness would let the sense of David's sorrow sink deep into their souls, that they might come to David's salvation! Restore me, saith that good man: it seems he once knew a better state: yes, and this may teach the better sort to fear, and stand in awe too, lest they sin and fall. For David was taken at a disadvantage; he was off his watch, and gone from the cross; the law was not his lamp and light, at that instant; he was a wanderer from his safety, his strong tower, and so surprised: then and there it was the enemy met him, and vanquished him.
4. The second instance is that of Naboth's vineyard (1 Kings 21): it was coveted by Ahab and Jezebel: that, which led them to such an unlawful desire, found means to accomplish it. Naboth must die, for he would not sell it. To do it they accuse the innocent man of blasphemy, and find two knights of the post, sons of Belial, to evidence against him. Thus, in the name of God, and in show of pure zeal to his glory, Naboth must die; and accordingly was stoned to death. The news of which coming to Jezebel, she bid Ahab arise and take possession, for Naboth was dead. But God followed both of them with his fierce vengeance. "In the place where the dogs licked the blood of Naboth," said Elijah, in the name of the Lord, "shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine; and I will bring evil upon thee, and take away thy posterity;" and of Jezebel, his wife and partner in his covetousness and murder, he adds, "The dogs shall eat her flesh by the walls of Jezreel." Here is the infamy and punishment due to this part of covetousness. Let this deter those that desire unlawful things, the rights of others: for God, that is just, will certainly repay such with interest in the end. But perhaps these are few; either that they do not, or dare not show it, because the law will bite if they do. But the next part hath company enough, that will yet exclaim against the iniquity of this part of covetousness; and, by their seeming abhorrence of it, would excuse themselves of all guilt in the rest: let us consider that.
5. The next, and most common part of covetousness is the unlawful desire of lawful things; especially of riches. Money is lawful, but the love of it is the root of all evil. So riches are lawful, but they that pursue them fall into divers temptations, snares, and lusts; He calls them uncertain, to show their folly and danger that set their hearts upon them. Covetousness is hateful to God; He hath denounced great judgments upon those that are guilty of it. God charged it on Israel of old, as one of the reasons of his judgments: "For the iniquity of his covetousness," saith God, "was I wroth and smote him" (Isa. 57:7). In another place, "Every one is given to covetousness, and from the prophet to the priest, every one dealeth falsely" (Jer. 6:13); "therefore will I give their wives unto others, and their fields to them that shall inherit them" (Jer. 13:10). In another place God complained thus: "But thine eyes and thine heart are not but for thy covetousness" (Jer. 22:17). By Ezekiel, God renews and repeats his complaint against their covetousness: "And they come to thee as the people cometh, and sit before thee as my people; they hear thy words, but will not do them; with their mouth they show much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness" (Ezek. 33:31). Therefore God, in the choice of magistrates, made it part of their qualification to hate covetousness; foreseeing the mischief that would follow to that society or government where covetous men were in power; that self would bias them, and they would seek their own ends at the cost of the public. David desired that his heart might not incline to covetousness, but to the testimonies of his God (Psalm 19:36). And the wise man expressly tells us, "He that hateth covetousness shall prolong his days" (Prov. 28:16): making a curse to follow it. And it is by Luke charged upon the Pharisees as a mark of their wickedness: and Christ, in that evangelist. bids his followers "take heed and beware of covetousness"; and He giveth a reason for it that carrieth a most excellent instruction in it; "for," said He, "a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth" (Luke 12:15): but He goeth further; He joins covetousness with adultery, murder, and blasphemy (Mark 7:2I,22). NO wonder then if the Apostle Paul is so liberal in his censure of this evil: he placeth it with all unrighteousness, to the Romans (Rom.1:29); to the Ephesians he writeth the like, adding, "Let not covetousness be so much as named among you" (Eph.5:3): and bids the Colossians mortify their members: and names several sins, as fornication, uncleanness, and such like, but ends with "covetousness: which," saith he, "is idolatry" (Col. 3: 5). And we know there is not a greater offence against God: nay, this very apostle calls "the love of money the root of all evil;" "which," said he, "whilst some have coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. For they that will be rich fall into temptations, and a snare, and many foolish and hurtful lusts. O man of God," said he to his beloved friend Timothy, "flee these things, and follow after righteousness, faith, patience, and meekness" (1 Tim. 6:9-11.
6. Peter was of the same mind; for he maketh covetousness to be one of the great marks of the false prophets and teachers that should arise among Christians, and by that they might know them, "who," saith he, "through covetousness shall with reigned words make merchandise of you" (2 Peter 2:3). To conclude, therefore, the author to the Hebrews, at the end of his epistle, leaves this, with other things, not without great zeal and weight upon them: "Let," says he, "your conversation be without covetousness" (Heb. 13:5); he rests not in this generality, but goes on, "and be content with such things as ye have; for God hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee." What then? Must we conclude that those who are not content, but seek to be rich, have forsaken God? The conclusion seems hard; but yet it is natural; for such, it is plain, are not content with what they have; they would have more: they covet to be rich, if they may: they live not with that dependence and regard to Providence to which they are exhorted, nor is godliness, with content, great gain to them.
7. And truly it is a reproach to a man, especially to a religious man, that he knows not when he hath enough; when to leave off; when to be satisfied: that notwithstanding God sends him one plentiful season of grain after another, he is so far from making that the cause of withdrawing from the traffic of the world, that he makes it a reason for launching further into it; as if the more he hath, the more he may. He therefore reneweth his appetite, bestirs himself more than ever, that he may have a share in the scramble, while anything is to be got: this is as if cumber, not retirement; and gain, not content, were the duty and comfort of a Christian. Oh that this were better considered! for by not being so observable nor obnoxious to the law, as other vices are, there is more danger for want of that check. It is plain that most people strive not for substance, but for wealth. Some there be that love it strongly, and spend it liberally when they have got it. Though this be sinful, yet more commendable than to love money for money's sake; that is one of the basest passions the mind of man can be captivated with; a perfect lust, and a greater, and more soul-defiling one, there is not in the whole catalogue of concupiscence. Which considered, should quicken people into a serious examination, how far this temptation of love of money hath entered them; and the rather because the steps it maketh into the mind are almost insensible, which renders the danger greater. Thousands think themselves unconcerned in the caution, and yet are perfectly guilty of the evil. Now can it be otherwise, when those that have, from a low condition, acquired thousands, labour yet to advance, yea, double and treble those thousands; and that with the same care and contrivance by which they got them? Is this to live comfortably, or to be rich? Do we not see how early they rise; how late they go to bed? How full of the change, the shop, the warehouse, the customhouse; of bills, bonds, charter-parties, &c., they are? Running up and down, as if it were to save the life of a condemned innocent. An insatiable lust, and therein ungrateful to God, as well as hurtful to men, who giveth it to them to use, and not to love: that is, the abuse. And if this care, contrivance, and industry, and that continually, be not from the love of money in those that have ten times more than they began with, and much more than they spend or need, I know not what testimony man can give of his love for anything.
8. To conclude: It is an enemy to government in magistrates; for it tends to corruption. Wherefore those that God ordained were such as feared Him and hated covetousness. Next: It hurts society, for old traders keep the young ones poor: and the great reason why some have too little, and so are forced to drudge like slaves to feed their families, and keep their chin above the water, is, because the rich hold fast and press to be richer, and covet more, which dries up the little streams of profit from smaller folks. There should be a standard, both as to the value and time of traffic; and then the trade of the master to be shared among his servants that deserve it. This were both to help the young to get their livelihood, and to give the old time to think of leaving this world well, in which they have been so busy, that they might obtain a share in the other, of which they have been so careless.
9. There is yet another mischief to government: for covetousness leads men to abuse and defraud it, by concealing or falsifying the goods they deal in: as bringing in forbidden goods by stealth: or lawful goods, so as to avoid the payment of dues, or owning the goods of enemies for gain; or that they are not well made, or full of measure; with abundance of that sort of deceit.
10. But covetousness has caused destructive feuds in families; for estates falling into the hands of those whose avarice has put them upon drawing greater profit to themselves than was consistent with justice, has given birth to much trouble, and caused great oppression; it too often falling out, that such executors have kept the right owners out of possession with the money they should pay them.
11. But this is not all: for covetousness betrays friendship; a bribe cannot be better placed to do an ill thing, or undo a man. Nay, it is too often a murderer both of soul and body; of the soul, because it kills that life it should have in God: where money masters the mind, it extinguishes all love to better things: of the body, for it will kill for money, by assassinations, poisons, false witness, &c. I shall end this head on covetousness, with the sin and doom of two covetous men, Judas, and Simon the sorcerer.
Judas's religion fell in thorny ground: love of money choked him. Pride and anger in the Jews endeavoured to murder Christ; but till covetousness set her hand to effect it, they were all at a loss. They found Judas had the bag, and probably loved money; they would try him, and did. The price was set, and Judas betrays his Master, his Lord, into the hands of his most cruel adversaries. But to do him right he returned the money, and to be revenged on himself, was his own hangman. A wicked act, a wicked end. Come on, you covetous: what say you now to brother Judas? was he not an ill man? did he not act very wickedly? Yes, yes: would you have done so? No, no: by no means. Very well; but so said those wicked Jews of stoning the prophets, and that yet crucified the beloved Son of God; He that came to save them, and would have done it, if they had received Him, and not rejected the day of their visitation. Rub your eyes well, for the dust is got into them; and carefully read in your own consciences, and see if, out of love to money, you have not betrayed the Just One in yourselves, and so are brethren with Judas in iniquity. I speak for God against an idol; bear with me. Have you not resisted, yea, quenched the good Spirit of Christ in your pursuit after your beloved wealth? Examine yourselves, try yourselves; know ye not your own selves: if Christ dwell not, if He rule not, and be not above all beloved in you, ye are reprobates: in an undone condition! (2 Cor. 13:5).
12. The other covetous man is Simon the sorcerer, a believer too: but his faith could not go deep enough for covetousness (Acts. 8:9--24). He would have driven a bargain with Peter: so much money for so much Holy Ghost; that he might sell it again, and make a good trade of it; corruptly measuring Peter by himself, as if he had only a better knack of cozening the people than himself, who had set up in Samaria for the great power of God, before the power of God in Philip and Peter undeceived the people. But what was Peter's answer and judgment? "Thy money," says he, "perish with thee; thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity." A dismal sentence. Besides, covetousness tends to luxury, and rises often out of it: for from having much, they spend much, and so become poor by luxury: such are covetous to get, to spend more, which temperance would prevent. For if men would not, or could not, by good laws well executed, and a better education, be so lavish in their tables, houses, furniture, apparel, and gaming, there would be no such temptation to covet earnestly after what they could not spend: for there is but here and there a miser that loves money for money's sake.
13. Which leads to the last and basest part of covetousness, which is yet the most sordid, to wit, hoarding up, or keeping money unprofitably, both to others and themselves too. This is Solomon's miser, that makes himself rich, and hath nothing (Prov. 13:7): a great sin in the sight of God. He complained of such as had stored up the labours of the poor in their houses; he calls it their spoils, and it is a grinding of the poor, because they see it not again. But he blesseth those that consider the poor, and commandeth every one to open freely to his brother that is in need (Psalm 41:1; Deut. 15:7,8); not only he that is spiritually, but naturally so; and not to withhold his gift from the poor. The apostle chargeth Timothy, in the sight of God, and before Jesus Christ, that he fail not to "charge them that are rich in this world, that they trust not in their uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth liberally; and that they do good with them, that they may be rich in good works" (1 Tim. 6:17,18). Riches are apt to corrupt; and that which keeps them sweet and best is charity: he that uses them not gets them not for the end for which they are given, but loves them for themselves, and not their service. The miser is poor in his wealth: he wants for fear of spending; and increases his fear with his hope, which is his gain; and so tortures himself with his pleasure; the most like to the man that hid his talent in a napkin, of all others, for this man's talents are hid in his bags out of sight, in vaults, under boards, behind wainscots: else upon bonds and mortgages, growing but as underground; for it is good to none.
14. The covetous man hates all useful arts and sciences as vain, lest they should cost him something the learning: wherefore ingenuity has no more place in his mind than in his pocket. He lets houses fall, to prevent the charge of repairs: and for his spare diet, plain clothes, and mean furniture, he would place them to the account of moderation. O monster of a man! that can take up the cross for covetousness, and not for Christ.
15. But he pretends negatively to some religion too; for he always rails at prodigality, the better to cover his avarice. If you would bestow a box of spikenard on a good man's head; to save money, and to seem righteous, he tells you of the poor: but if the poor come, he excuses his want of charity with the unworthiness of the object, or the causes of his poverty, or that he can bestow his money on those that deserve it better; who rarely opens his purse till quarter-day for fear of losing it.
16. But he is more miserable than the poorest; for he enjoys not what he yet fears to lose; they fear not what they do not enjoy. Thus he is poor by overvaluing his wealth: but he is wretched that hungers with money in a cook's shop: yet having made a god of his gold, who knows, but he thinks it unnatural to eat what he worships?
17. But, which aggravates the sin, I have myself once known some that to get money have wearied themselves into the grave; and to be true to their principle, when sick would not spare a fee to a doctor, to help the poor slave to live; and so died to save charges: a constancy that canonizes them martyrs for money.
18. But now let us see what instances the Scripture will give us in reproof of the sordid hoarders and hiders of money. A good-like young man came to Christ, and inquired the way to eternal life: Christ told him he knew the commandments: he replied he had kept them from his youth: it seems he was no loose person, and indeed such are usually not so, to save charges. And "yet lackest thou one thing," saith Christ; "sell all, distribute it to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven, and come and follow me" (Matt. 19:20,21). It seems Christ pinched him in the sore place; He hit the mark, and struck him to the heart, who knew his heart; by this He tried how well he had kept the commandment "to love God above all." It was said, the young man was very sorrowful, and went his way; and the reason which is given is, that he was very rich. The tides met, money and eternal life: contrary desires: but which prevailed? Alas! his riches! But what said Christ to this? "How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!" He adds, "It is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 19:23,24): that is, such a rich man, to wit, a covetous rich man, to whom it is hard to do good with what he has: it is more than a miracle: Oh who then would be rich and covetous! It was upon these rich men that Christ pronounced his woe, saying, "Woe unto you that are rich, for ye have received your consolation here" (Luke 6:24). What! none in the heavens? No, unless you become willing to be poor men, can resign all, live loose to the world, have it at arm's end, yea, under foot; a servant and not a master.
19. The other instance is a very dismal one too: it is that of Ananias and Sapphira. In the beginning of the apostolical times, it was customary for those who received the word of life to bring what substance they had and lay at the apostles' feet: of these Joses, surnamed Barnabas, was exemplary. Among the rest, Ananias and his wife Sapphira, confessing to the truth, sold their possession, but covetously reserved some of the purchase-money from the common purse to themselves, and brought a part for the whole, and laid it at the apostles' feet. But Peter, a plain and bold man, in the majesty of the Spirit, said, "Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost; and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whilst it remained, was it not thine own? And after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? Why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God" (Acts 5:3,4). But what followed this covetousness and hypocrisy of Ananias? Why, "Ananias hearing these words, fell down, and gave up the ghost." The like befel his wife, being privy to the deceit their avarice had led them to. And it is said that "great fear came upon all the church, and those that heard of these things:" and also should on those that now read them. For if this judgment was shown and recorded that we should beware of the like evils, what will become of those who, under the profession of Christianity, a religion that teaches men to live loose from the world, and to yield up all to the will and service of Christ, and his kingdom, not only retain a part, but all: and cannot part with the least thing for Christ's sake? I beseech God to incline the hearts of my readers to weigh these things. This had not befallen Ananias and Sapphira, if they had acted as in God's presence, and with that entire love, truth, and sincerity that became them. Oh that people would use the light that Christ has given them, to search and see how far they are under the power of this iniquity! For would they but watch against the love of the world, and be less in bondage to the things that are seen, which are temporal, they would begin to set their hearts on things above, that are of an eternal nature. Their life would be hid with Christ in God, out of the reach of all the uncertainties of time, and troubles, and changes of mortality. Nay, if people would but consider how hardly riches are got, how uncertainly they are kept, the envy they bring; that they can neither make a man wise, nor cure diseases, nor add to life, much less give peace in death; no, nor hardly yield any solid benefit above food and raiment (which may be had without them), and that if there be any good use for them, it is to relieve others in distress; being but stewards of the plentiful providences of God, and consequently accountable for our stewardship; if, I say, these considerations had any room in our minds, we should not thus post to get, nor care to hide and keep such a mean and impotent thing. Oh that the Cross of Christ, which is the Spirit and power of God in man, might have more place in the soul, that it might crucify us more and more to the world, and the world to us; that, like the days of paradise, the earth might again be the footstool, and the treasure of the earth a servant, and not a god to man!--Many have written against this vice; three I will mention.
20. William Tindal, that worthy apostle of the English reformation, has an entire discourse, to which I refer the reader, entitled "The Parable of the wicked Mammon." The next is--
21. Peter Charron, a famous Frenchman, and in particular for the book he wrote of wisdom, hath a chapter against covetousness; part of which take as followeth: "To love and affect riches is covetousness: not only the love and affection, but also every over-curious care and industry about riches. The desire of goods, and the pleasure we take in possessing them, are grounded only upon opinion: the immoderate desire to get riches is a gangrene in our soul, which with a venomous heat consumeth our natural affections, to the end it might fill us with virulent humours. So soon as it is lodged in our hearts, all honest and natural affection, which we owe either to our parents, our friends, or ourselves, vanisheth away: all the rest, in respect of our profit, seemeth nothing; yea, we forget in the end, and condemn ourselves, our bodies, our minds, for this transitory trash: and as our proverb is, We sell our horse to get us hay. Covetousness is the vile and base passion of vulgar fools, who account riches the principal good of a man, and fear poverty as the greatest evil; and not contenting themselves with necessary means, which are forbidden no man, weigh that which is good in a goldsmith's balance, when nature hath taught us to measure it by the ell of necessity. For what greater folly can there be than to adore that which nature itself hath put under our feet, and hidden in the earth, as unworthy to be seen; yea, rather to be contemned, and trampled under foot? This is that which the sin of man hath only torn out of the entrails of the earth, and brought unto light to kill himself. We dig out the earth, and bring to light those things for which we would fight: we are not ashamed to esteem those things most highly which are in the lowest parts of the earth. Nature seemeth even in the first birth of gold, after a sort, to have presaged the misery of those that are in love with it; for it hath so ordered the matter, that in those countries where it groweth there groweth with it neither grass nor plant, nor other thing that is worth anything: as giving us to understand thereby, that in those minds, where the desire of this metal groweth, there cannot remain so much as a spark of true honour and virtue. For what thing can be more base than for a man to degrade, and to make himself a servant and a slave to that which should be subject unto him? Riches serve wise men, but command a fool: for a covetous man serveth his riches, and not they him: and he is said to have goods as he hath a fever, which holdeth and tyrannizeth over a man, not he over it. What thing more vile than to love that which is not good, neither can make a good man? Yea, is common, and in the possession of the most wicked in the world; which many times perverts good manners, but never amends them: without which, so many wise men have made themselves happy; and by which so many wicked men have come to a wicked end. To be brief: what thing more miserable, than to bind the living to the dead, as Mezentius did, to the end their death might be languishing, and the more cruel; to tie the spirit unto the excrement and scum of the earth; to pierce through his own soul with a thousand torments, which this amorous passion of riches brings with it; and to entangle himself with the ties and cords of this malignant thing, as the Scripture calls them, which doth likewise term them thorns and thieves, which steal away the heart of man, snares of the devil, idolatry, and the root of all evil? And truly he that shall see the catalogue of those envies and molestations which riches engender into the heart of man, as their proper thunderbolt and lightning, they would be more hated than they are now loved. Poverty wants many things, but covetousness all: a covetous man is good to none, but worse to himself." Thus much of Charron, a wise and great man. My next testimony is yielded by an author not unlikely to take with some sort of people for his wit; may they equally value his morality, and the judgment of his riper time.
22. Abraham Cowley, a witty and ingenious man, yieldeth us the other testimony: of avarice he writeth thus: "There are two sorts of avarice, the one is but a bastard kind, and that is a rapacious appetite of gain; not for its own sake, but for the pleasure of refunding it immediately through all the channels of pride and luxury. The other is the true kind, and properly so called, which is a restless and insatiable desire of riches, not for any further end or use, but only to hoard and preserve, and perpetually increase them. The covetous man of the first kind is like a greedy ostrich which devoureth any metal, but it is with an intent to feed upon it, and in effect, it maketh a shift to digest and excern it. The second is like the foolish chough, which loveth to steal money only to hide it. The first doth much harm to mankind, and a little good to some few: the second doth good to none; no, not to himself. The first can make no excuse to God or angels, or rational men, for his actions: the second can give no reason or colour, not to the devil himself, for what he doth: he is a slave to mammon without wages. The first maketh a shift to be beloved, aye, and envied too, by some people: the second is the universal object of hatred and contempt. There is no vice hath been so pelted with good sentences, and especially by the poets, who have pursued it with satires and fables, and allegories and allusions, and moved, as we say, every stone to fling at it; among which I do not remember a finer correction than that which was given it by one line of Ovid's:--
' Multa Luxuriæ desunt, omnia avaritiæ,'
' Much is wanting to luxury, all to avarice.'
"To which saying I have a mind to add one member, and render it thus: poverty wants some, luxury many, avarice all things. Somebody saith of a virtuous and wise man, that having nothing, he hath all. This is just his antipode, who having all things, yet hath nothing.
' And O! what man's condition can be worse
Than his, whom plenty starves, and blessings curse?
The beggars but a common fate deplore,
The rich poor man's emphatically poor.'
"I wonder how it cometh to pass that there hath never been any law made against him: against him do I say? I mean for him. As there are public provisions made for all other madmen, it is very reasonable that the king should appoint some persons to manage his estate, during his life, for his heirs commonly need not that care, and out of it to make it their business to see that he should not want alimony befitting their condition; which he could never get out of his own cruel fingers. We relieve idle vagrants and counterfeit beggars, but have no care at all of these really poor men, who are, methinks, to be respectfully treated, in regard of their quality. I might be endless against them, but I am almost choked with the super-abundance of the matter. Too much plenty impoverisheth me, as it doth them." Thus much against avarice, that moth of the soul, and canker of the mind.
I AM now come to the other extreme, and that is luxury, which is an excessive indulgence of self, in ease and pleasure. This is the last great impiety struck at in this discourse of the holy Cross of Christ, which indeed is much the subject of its mortifying virtue and power. A disease as epidemical as killing: it creeps into all stations and ranks of men: the poorest often exceeding their ability to indulge their appetite; and the rich frequently wallowing in those things that please the lusts of their eye and flesh, and the pride of life: as regardless of the severe discipline of Jesus, whom they call Saviour, as if luxury, and not the cross, were the ordained way to heaven. What shall we eat, what shall we drink, and what shall we put on? once the care of luxurious heathen is now the practice of, and which is worse the study of pretended Christians. But let such be ashamed, and repent; remembering that Jesus did not reproach the Gentiles for those things, to indulge his followers in them. They that will have Christ to be theirs must be sure to be his; to be like-minded, to live in temperance and moderation, as knowing the Lord is at hand. Sumptuous apparel, rich unguents, delicate washes, stately furniture, costly cookery, and such diversions as bails, masques, music-meetings, plays, romances, &c., which are the delight and entertainment of the times, belong not to the holy path that Jesus and his true disciples and followers trod to glory. No. "Through many tribulations," says none of the least of them, "must we enter the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22). I do earnestly beseech the gay and luxurious, into whose hands this discourse shall be directed, to consider well the reasons and examples here advanced against their way of living; if happily they may come to see how remote it is from true Christianity, and how dangerous to their eternal peace. God Almighty, by his grace, soften their hearts to instruction, and shed abroad his tender love in their souls, that they may be overcome to repentance, and to the love of the holy way of the cross of Jesus, the blessed Redeemer of men. For they cannot think that He can benefit them, while they refuse to lay down their sins for the love of Him that laid down his life for the love of them. Or that He will give them a place in heaven, that refuse Him any in their hearts on earth. But let us examine luxury in all its parts.
2. Luxury has many parts; the first that is forbidden by the self-denying Jesus, is gluttony, "Take no thought, saying, What shall we eat, or what shall we drink?--for after these things do the Gentiles seek "(Matt. 6:31,32): as if He said, The heathen, such as live without the true God, whose care is to please their appetite more than to seek God and his kingdom: you must not do so, but "seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matt. 6:33). That which is convenient for you will follow: let everything have its time and order.
This carries a serious reprehension to the luxurious eater and drinker, who is taken up with an excessive care of his palate, what shall he eat, and what shall he drink: who being often at a loss what to have next, therefore has an officer to invent, and a cook to dress, disguise, and drown the species, that it may cheat the eye, look new and strange; and all to excite an appetite, or raise an admiration. To be sure there is great variety, and that curious and costly; the sauce, it may be, dearer than the meat; and so full is he fed, that without it he can scarce find out a stomach; which is to force a hunger, rather than to satisfy it. And as he eats, so he drinks: rarely for thirst, but pleasure; to please his palate. For that purpose he will have divers sorts, and he must taste them all: one, however good, is dull and tiresome; variety is more delightful than the best; and therefore the whole world is little enough to fill his cellar. But were he temperate in his proportions, his variety might be imputed rather to curiosity than luxury. But what the temperate man uses as a cordial, he drinks by full draughts, till inflamed by excess, he is fitted to be an instrument of mischief, if not to other persons, yet always to himself, whom perhaps at last he knows not: for such brutality are some come to, they will sip themselves out of their own knowledge. This is the lust of the flesh, that is not of the Father, but of the world; for upon this comes in the music and dance, and mirth, and the laughter, which is madness (Eccl. 2:2); that the noise of one pleasure may drown the iniquity of another, lest his own heart should deal too plainly with him. Thus the luxurious live: they forget God, they regard not the afflicted. Oh that the sons and daughters of men would consider their wantonness and their iniquity in these things! How ill do they requite the goodness of God in the use and abuse of the plenty He yields them! How cruel are they to his creatures, how lavish of their lives and virtue, how thankless for them: forgetting the Giver, and abusing his gifts, and despising counsel, and casting instruction behind them! They lose tenderness and forget duty, being swallowed up of voluptuousness, adding one excess to another. God rebuked this sin in the Jews, by the prophet Amos: "Ye that put far away the evil day, and cause the seat of violence to come near; that lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the stall; that chant to the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves instruments of music, like David; that drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments; but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph" (Amos 6:3-6). These, it seems, were the vices of the degenerate Jews, under all their pretence to religion; and are they not of Christians at this day? Yea, they are, and these are the great parts of luxury struck at in this discourse. Remember the rich man, with all his sumptuous fare, went to hell: and the apostle pronounces heavy woes upon those "whose god is their belly: for such glory in their shame" (Phil. 3:19).
Christ places these things to the courts of worldly kings, not his kingdom: making them unseemly in his followers: his feast, therefore, to the multitude, which was his miracle, was plain and simple; enough, but without curiosity or art of cookery: and it went well, for they were hungry; the best and fittest time to eat. And the apostle, in his directions to his much-beloved Timothy, debases the lovers of worldly fulness; advising him to godliness and content as the chiefest gain: adding, "and having food and raiment, let us therewith be content" (1 Tim. 6: 6,8). Behold the abstemious, and most contented life of those pilgrims, the sons of heaven, and immortal offspring of the great power of God; they were in fasts and perils often, and ate what was set before them; and in all conditions learned to be contented. O blessed men! O blessed spirits! Let my soul dwell with yours for ever.
3. But the diseases which luxury begets and nourishes make it an enemy to mankind; for besides the mischief it brings to the souls of people, it undermines health, and shortens the life of man, in that it gives but ill nourishment and so leaves and feeds corrupt humours, whereby the body becomes rank and foul, lazy and scorbutic; unfit for exercise, and more for honest labour. The spirits being thus loaded with ill flesh, and the mind effeminated, a man is made inactive, and so useless in civil society; for idleness follows luxury, as well as diseases. These are the burdens of the world, devourers of good things, self-lovers, and so forgetters of God: but which is sad, and yet just, the end of those that forget God, is to be turned into hell (Psalm 9:17).
4. But there is another part of luxury that has great place with vain man and woman, and that is the gorgeousness of apparel, one of the most foolish, because most costly, empty, and unprofitable excesses people can well be guilty of.
5. Nor is it otherwise with recreations, as they call them; for these are nearly related. Man was made a noble, rational, grave creature; his pleasure stood in his duty, and his duty in obeying God: which is to love, fear, adore, and serve Him; and in using the creation with true temperance and godly moderation; as knowing well that the Lord, his judge, was at hand, the inspector and rewarder of his works. In short, his happiness was in his communion with God: his error was to leave that conversation, and let his eyes wander abroad to gaze on transitory things. If the recreations of the age were as pleasant and necessary as they are said and made to be, unhappy then would Adam and Eve have been, that never knew them. But had they never fallen, and the world been tainted by their folly and ill example, perhaps man had never known the necessity or use of many of these things. Sin gave them birth, as it did the other; they were afraid of the presence of the Lord, which was the joy of their innocency, when they had sinned; and then their minds wandered, sought other pleasures, and began to forget God; as He complained afterwards by the prophet Amos, "They put far away the evil day: they eat of the fat of the flock: they drink wine in bowls: they anoint themselves upon beds of ivory: they chant to the sound of the viol, and invent unto themselves instruments of music, like David," not heeding or remembering the affliction and captivity of poor Joseph (Amos 6:3-6): him they wickedly sold, innocency was quite banished, and shame soon began to grow to custom, till they were grown shameless in the imitation. And truly, it is now no less a shame to approach primitive innocence by modest plainness, than it was matter of shame to Adam that he lost it, and became forced to tack fig-leaves for a covering. Wherefore in vain do men and women deck themselves with specious pretences to religion, and flatter their miserable souls with the fair titles of Christian, innocent, good, virtuous, and the like, whilst such vanities and follies reign. Wherefore to you all, from the eternal God, I am bound to declare, you mock Him that will not be mocked, and deceive yourselves (Gal. 6:7); such intemperance must be denied, and you must know yourselves changed, and more nearly approached to primitive purity, before you can be entitled to what you do now but usurp; for none but those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God (Rom. 8:14); which guides into all temperance and meekness (Gal. 5:23).
6. But the Christian world, as it would be called, is justly reprovable, because the very end of the first institution of apparel is grossly perverted. The utmost service that clothes originally were designed for, when sin had stripped them of their native innocence, was, as hath been said, to cover them, therefore plain and modest; next, to fence out cold, therefore substantial; lastly, to declare sexes, therefore distinguishing. So that then necessity provoked to clothing, now, pride and vain curiosity; in former times some benefit obliged, but now, wantonness and pleasure: then they minded them for covering, but now, that is the least part; their greedy eyes must be provided with gaudy superfluities: as if they made their clothes for trimming, to be seen rather than worn; only for the sake of other curiosities that must be tacked upon them, although they neither fence from cold, nor distinguish sexes; but signally display their wanton, fantastic, full-fed minds, that have them.
7. Then the recreations were to serve God, be just, follow their vocations, mind their flocks, do good, exercise their bodies in such a manner as was suitable to gravity, temperance and virtue; but now that word is extended to almost every folly; so much are men degenerated from Adam in his disobedience; so much more confident and artificial are they grown in all impieties; yea, their minds, through custom, are become so very insensible of the inconveniency that attends the like follies, that what was once mere necessity is now the delight, pleasure, and recreation of age. How ignoble is it, how ignominious and unworthy of a reasonable creature! Man, who is endued with understanding, fit to contemplate immortality, and made a companion (if not superior) to angels, that he should mind a little dust, a few shameful rags; inventions of mere pride and luxury; toys so apish and fantastic, entertainments so dull and earthly, that a rattle, a baby, a hobby-horse, a top, are by no means so foolish in a simple child, nor unworthy of his thoughts, as are such inventions of the care and pleasure of men! It is a mark of great stupidity that such vanities should exercise the noble mind of man, and image of the great Creator of heaven and earth.
8. Of this many among the very heathen of old had so clear a prospect that they detested all such vanity, looking upon curiosity in apparel, and that variety of recreations now in vogue and esteem with false Christians, to be destructive of good manners, in that it more easily stole away the minds of people from sobriety to wantonness. idleness, effeminacy, and made them only companions for the beast that perishes: witness these famous men, Anaxagoras, Socrates, Plato, Aristides, Cato, Seneca, Epictetus, &c., who place true honour and satisfaction in nothing below virtue and immortality. Nay, such are the remains of innocence among some Moors and Indians in our times, that if a Christian (though he must be an odd one) fling out a filthy word, it is customary with them, by way of moral, to bring him water to purge his mouth. How much do the like virtues and reasonable instances accuse people professing Christianity, of gross folly and intemperance! Oh that men and women had the fear of God before their eyes; and that they were so charitable to themselves, as to remember whence they came, what they are doing, and to what they must return: that so more noble, more virtuous, more rational and heavenly things might be the matters of their pleasure and entertainment; that they would be once persuaded to believe how inconsistent the folly, vanity, and conversation they are mostly exercised in, really are with the true nobility of a reasonable soul; and let that just principle, which taught the heathen, teach them; lest it be found more tolerable for heathen than such Christians, in the day of account. For if their shorter notions, and more imperfect sense of things could yet discover so much vanity; if their degree of light condemned it, and they, in obedience thereunto, disused it, doth it not behove Christians much more?
9. Again: these things, which have been hitherto condemned have never been the conversation or practice of the holy men and women of old times, whom the Scriptures recommend for holy examples, worthy of imitation. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were plain men, and princes, as graziers are, over their families and flocks. They were not solicitous for the vanities so much lived in by the people of this generation, for they pleased God by faith. The first forsook his father's house, kindred, and country; a true type or figure of that self-denial all must know, that would have Abraham to their father. They must not think to live in those pleasures, fashions, and customs they are called to leave; no, but part with all hopes of the great recompense of reward, and that better country which is eternal in the heavens (Heb. 11:26,16; 2 Cor. 5:1). The prophets were generally poor; one a shepherd, another a herdsman, &c. They often cried out unto the full-fed wanton Israelites to repent, to fear and dread the living God, to forsake the sins and vanities they lived in; but they never imitated them. John the Baptist, the messenger of the Lord, preached his embassy to the world in a coat of camel's hair, a rough and homely garment (Matt. 3;4). Nor can it be conceived that Jesus Christ himself was much better apparelled, who, according to the flesh, was of poor descent, and in life of great plainness; insomuch that it was usual in a way of derision to say, "Is not this Jesus, the carpenter, the son of Mary?" (Matt. 13:55; Mark 6:3). And this Jesus tells his followers that as for "soft raiment, gorgeous apparel and delicacies, they were for kings' courts" (Luke 7:25): implying, that He and his followers were not to seek after those things; but seems thereby to express the great difference that was betwixt the lovers of the fashions and customs of the world, and those whom He had chosen out of it. And He did not only come in that mean and despicable manner Himself, that He might stain the pride of all flesh, but therein became exemplary to his followers, what a self-denying life they must lead, if they would be his true disciples. Nay, He further leaves it with them in a parable, to the end that it might make the deeper impression, and that they might see how inconsistent a pompous, worldly-pleasing life is with the kingdom He came to establish and call men to the possession of: and that is the remarkable story of Dives, who is represented first, as a rich man (Luke 16:19-31); next as a voluptuous man in his rich apparel, his many dishes, and his pack of dogs; and lastly, as an uncharitable man, or one who was more concerned to please the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life, and fare sumptuously every day, than to take compassion of poor Lazarus at his gate: no, his dogs were more pitiful and kind than he. But what was the doom of this jolly man, this great rich man? We read it was everlasting torment; but that of Lazarus, eternal joy with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of God. In short, Lazarus was a good man, the other a great man: the one poor and temperate, the other rich and luxurious: there are too many of them alive; and it were well, if his doom might awaken them to repentance.
10. Nor were the twelve apostles, the immediate messengers of the Lord Jesus Christ, other than poor men, one a fisherman, another a tent-maker and he that was of the greatest, though perhaps not the best employment, was a custom gatherer (Matt.14:18; 9:9; Acts 18:3). So that it is very unlikely that any of them were followers of the fashions of the world: nay, they were so far from it, that, as became the followers of Christ (1 Cor. 4:9-14), they lived poor, afflicted, self-denying lives; bidding the churches to walk as they had them for examples (Phil. 3:17; 1 Peter 2:21). And to shut up this particular, they gave this pathetic account of the holy women in former times, as an example of godly temperance (1 Peter 3:3,4), namely, that first they did expressly abstain from gold, silver, plaited hair, fine apparel, or such like; and next, that their adornment was a meek and quiet spirit, and the hidden man of the heart, which are of great price with the Lord; affirming that such as live in pleasure are dead whilst they live (1 Tim. 5:6): for that the cares and pleasures of this life choke and destroy the seed of the kingdom (Luke 8:14), and quite hinder all progress in the hidden and divine life. Wherefore we find that the holy men and women of former times were not accustomed to these pleasures and vain recreations; but having their minds set on things above, sought another kingdom, which consists in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit: who, having obtained a good report, and entered into their eternal rest, therefore their works follow, and praise them in the gates (Rom. 14:17; Heb. 11:2; 4:9; Rev. 14:13).
BUT such excess in apparel and pleasure was not only forbidden in Scripture, but it was the ground of that lamentable message by the prophet Isaiah to the people of Israel: "Moreover the Lord saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched-forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet; therefore the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the Lord will discover their secret parts; in that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments, and their cauls [or net-works, in the Hebrew], and their round tires like the moon; the chains and the bracelets, and the mufflers; the bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the head-bands, and the tablets, and ear-rings, the rings and nose-jewels; the changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping-pins; the glasses, and the fine linen, and the hoods and the veils; and it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell, there shall be a stink; and instead of a girdle, a rent; and instead of well-set hair, baldness; and instead of a stomacher, a girding of sackcloth, and burning instead of beauty: thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war; and her gates shall lament and mourn, and she being desolate, shall sit upon the ground" (Isa. 3:16-26). Behold, O vain and foolish inhabitants of England and Europe, your folly and your doom!*(*The very practice, and garb, and vanity of this age being as liable to the wrath of God, which hangs over England and Europe, and is ready to be executed on their rebellions inhabitants.) Yet read the prophet Ezekiel's vision of miserable Tyre, what punishment her pride and pleasure brought upon her; and amongst many other circumstances these are some: "These were thy merchants in all sorts of things; in blue clothes and broidered work, and in chests of rich apparel, emeralds, purple, fine linen, coral and agate, spices, with all precious stones, and gold, horses, chariots," &c.; for which hear part of her doom: "Thy riches, and thy fairs, thy merchandise, and all thy company, which is in the midst of thee, shall fall into the midst of the sea in the day of thy ruin; and the inhabitants of the isles shall be astonished at thee; and their merchants hiss at thee; thou shalt be a terror, and shalt be no more" (Ezek. 27). Thus hath God declared his displeasure against the luxury of this wanton world. Yet further the prophet Zephaniah goes, for thus he speaks: "And it shall come to pass in the day of the Lord's sacrifice, that I will punish the princes, and the king's children, and all such as are clothed with strange apparel" (Zeph. 1:8). Of how evil consequence was it in those times, for the greatest men to give themselves the liberty of following 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: insinuating that such as were could not be his disciples: for, says He, "Take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or What shall we 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 righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matt. 6:31-33). Under which of eating, and drinking, and apparel, He comprehends all external things whatsoever; 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 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 the Gentiles; and as He elsewhere says, "The nations of the world who know not God" (Luke 12:22-33). If now then the distinguishing 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" (Rom. 14:I7); being not careful of external matters, even the most innocent and necessary: and that the other minds eating, drinking, apparel, and the affairs of this world, with the lusts, pleasures, profits, and honours that belong to it; be you intreated for your souls' sakes, O inhabitants of England, to be serious, to reflect awhile 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 confusion, what study, what little contrivances and overreachings, what eating, drinking, vanity of apparel, most ridiculous recreations; in short, what rising early, going to bed late, expense of precious time is there about things that perish! View the streets, shops, exchanges, plays, parks, coffee-houses, &c., and is not the world, this fading world, written upon every face? Say not within yourselves, How otherwise should men live and the world subsist? The common, though frivolous objection. There is enough for all. Let some content 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 exercise of their minds, these perishing entertainments 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 precepts too, as we shall yet 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; with shamefacedness and sobriety, not with broidered hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array (then it seems these are immodest) but which becometh women professing godliness, with good works" (1 Tim. 2:9,10). Absolutely implying, that those who attire themselves with gold, silver, broidered hair, pearls, costly array, cannot in so doing be women professing godliness; making those very things to be contrary to modesty, and consequently that they are evil, and unbecoming 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, and of putting on of apparel:" what? then. "But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price" (1 Peter 3:3-5). And as an inducement, he adds: "For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves." Which doth not only intimate that both 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, that, 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 whilst she liveth" (1 Tim. 5:6). And the same apostle further enjoined, that Christians should have their conversations in heaven, and their minds fixed on things above (Phil. 3:20; Col. 3:1-4); "walk honestly as in the day, not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in envy and strife" (Rom. 13:13): "let not fornication, uncleanness, or covetousness be once named among you: neither filthiness, nor foolish talking nor jesting, which are not convenient; but rather giving of thanks" (Eph. 5:3,4): "let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good, to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers" (Eph. 4:29); but "put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof" (Rom. 13:14). And "grieve not the Holy Spirit" [intimating such conversation doth] (Eph. 4:30): 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" (Eph. 5:1,15).
4. By this measure yourselves, O inhabitants of this land, who think yourselves wronged, if not accounted Christians: see what proportion your life and spirit bear with 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, inexpressible pity, I bewail your folly. Oh that you would be wise! Oh that the just principle in yourselves would be heard! Oh 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 ye admonished, I beseech you, in the name of the living God, by one that some of you know hath had his share in these things, and consequently time to know how little the like vanities conduce 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 disappointment be a sad and dreadful harvest for you to reap, for all your misspent time and substance, about superfluities and vain recreations? 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. But 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 (1 Peter 1:15; Heb. 10:25; 1 Peter 4:9-11; Matt. 25:36,37). For instance, if men and women would be diligent to follow their respective callings; frequent the assemblies of religious people; visit sober neighbours to be edified, and wicked ones to reform them; be careful in the tuition of their children, exemplary to their servants; relieve the necessitous, see the sick, visit the imprisoned; administer to their infirmities and indispositions, endeavour peace amongst neighbours: also, study moderately such commendable and profitable arts, as navigation, arithmetic, geometry, husbandry, gardening, handicraft, medicine, &c.; and that women spin, sew, knit, weave, garden, preserve, and the like housewife and honest employments, the practice of the greatest and noblest matrons, and youth, among the very heathen: helping others, who for want are unable to keep servants, to ease them in their necessary affairs; often and private retirements from all worldly objects, to enjoy the Lord: secret and steady meditations on the divine life and heavenly inheritance; which to leave undone and prosecute other things, under the notion of recreations, is 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 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 profitable, yea, of very honourable employments and diversions for them. Such can with great delight sit at a play, a ball, a masque, at cards, dice, &c., drinking, revelling, feasting, and the like, an entire day; yea, turn night into day, and invert the very order of the creation, to humour their lusts (Amos 6:3-8); 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 pastimes, till the hasty calls of death should summon their appearance in another world: yet do they think it intolerable and hardly possible, for any to sit so long at a profitable or religious exercise.
6. But how do these think to pass their vast eternity away? "For as the tree falls, so it lies" (Eccl. 11:3). 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" (Gal. 6:4-9): if vanity, folly, visible delights, fading pleasures, no better shall you ever reap than corruption, sorrow and the woeful anguish of eternal disappointments. But alas! what is the reason that the cry is so common, Must we always dote on these things? Why 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 that passeth such vain understandings (Eph. 4:18-20): darkened with the glories and pleasures of the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:4); whose religion is so many mumbling and ignorantly devout said words, as they teach parrots; for 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: and such who call that a burden, and seek to be refreshed by such pastimes as a play, a morrice-dance, a punchinello, a ball, a masque, cards, dice, or the like, I am bold to affirm, they not only never knew 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 irksome 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 (Matt. 12:36), must not use sports to pass away that time which they are commanded so diligently to redeem, considering no less work is to be done than making their calling and election sure (Eph. 5:16; Phil. 3:14; 2 Peter 1:10; Col. 4: 5): much less 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 concernment of their lives and souls, for which that time was given them.
7. There is but little need to drive away that, by foolish divertisements, which flies away so swiftly of itself; and, when once gone, is never to be recalled. Plays, parks, balls, treats, romances, music, 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 mentioned 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 themselves 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 ungrateful 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, that 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 new divine 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 (Rom. 6:3-8; 1 Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:27; Col. 2:12,13; Eph.4:13): 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. But in the next place, such attire and pastimes do not only show the exceeding worldliness of people's inclinations, and their very great ignorance of the divine joys; but by imitating these fashions, and frequenting these places and diversions, not only much good is omitted, but a certain door is open 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 the general good, vainly expended; pleasure is taken in mere shame; lusts are gratified; the minds of the people alienated from heavenly things, and exercised about mere folly; and men become acceptable by their trims and the à-la-modeness of their dress and apparel; from whence respect to persons doth so naturally arise (James 2:1-9), that to deny it is to affirm the sun shines not at noonday; nothing being more notorious than the cringing, scraping, sirring, and madaming of persons, according to the gaudiness of their attire: which is detestable 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 men's 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 injustice to heart, they pine away their days in grief and misery. But of all these wretched inventions, the playhouses, 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 notoriously ill consequence upon the minds of most; especially the youth that frequent them. And thus it is that idle and debauched stages are encouraged and maintained; than which scarcely a greater abomination can be thought on of that rank of impieties, as will anon particularly 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 opportunities to promote the like evils. And yet further; 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! In short, these were the ways of the Gentiles that knew not God, but never the practice of them that feared Him (Eph. 4:17-25): nay, the more noble among the heathen themselves, namely, Anaxagoras, Socrates, Plato, Antisthenes, 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, idleness, ignorance, and effeminacy, the great cankers and bane of all states and empires. And the pretended innocency 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 will; 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 the sins the very heathen loathe, 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 that 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? Well, my friends, if there were no God, no heaven, no hell, no holy examples, no Jesus Christ, in cross, doctrine, and life, to be conformed unto; yet would charity to the poor, help to the needy, peace amongst neighbours, visits to the sick, care of the widow and fatherless, with the rest of those temporal good offices already repeated, 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 a variety of carnal pleasures; for then conviction, a wounded spirit, a broken heart, a regenerate mind (Prov. 18:14; Psalm 51:17; Matt. 5:4; Luke 6:25; Rom. 2:7; Psalm 40: 8; Rom. 7:22; Heb. 11:13-16; Rom.1:25-30); in a word, immortality, would prove as mere fictions as some make them, and others therefore 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 they are so big they are plainly seen; so dirty they are easily detected: which education and common temperance, as well as constitution in many, teach them to abhor: and if they should be committed, they carry with them a proportionable conviction. But these pretended innocents, these supposed harmless satisfactions (Job 1:4), 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 their evil consequences, that with a mighty confidence they can plead for them.
10. But as this is plainly not to deny themselves (1 John 2:15-17), 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 pleasure, or else, tell me what does), so be it known to be such, that the heavenly life and Christian joys are of another kind, as hath already been expressed: yea, that the true disciples of the Lord Christ must be hereunto crucified as to objects and employments that attract downwards, and that their affections should be raised to a more sublime and spiritual conversation, as to use this world, even in its most innocent enjoyments, as if they used it not. But if they take pleasure in anything below, it should be in such good offices as before mentioned, whereby a benefit may redound in some respect to others: in which God is honoured over all visible things, the nation relieved, the government bettered, themselves rendered exemplary of good, and thereby justly entitled to present happiness, a sweet memorial with posterity, as well as to a seat at his right hand, where there are joys and pleasures for ever (Job 36:7; Psalm 5:12; Prov. 10:7,11); than which there can be nothing more honourable, nothing more certain, world without end.
BUT the luxury opposed in this discourse should not be allowed among Christians, because both 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. For therefore was it, that immortality and eternal life were 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 therefore 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 receive at the hand of, it may be, their nearest intimates and relations.
For if the Christian religion had admitted the possession of this world in any other sense than the simple and naked use of those creatures, really given of God for the necessity and convenience of the whole creation; for instance, did it allow all that pride, vanity, curiosity, pomp, exchange of apparel, honours, preferments, 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 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 all reproach, scorn, hard usage, bitter mockings, and cruel deaths? What need these things? And why should they be expected in order to that glorious immortality and eternal crown, if the vanity, pride, expense, idleness, concupiscence, envy, malice, and whole manner of living among the called Christians, were allowed by the Christian religion? 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 principle of life, into a lustful of unlawful seeking after the enjoyments of this perishing world, nay, inventing daily new satisfactions to gratify the carnal appetites, so did He not less foresee the difficulty that all would have to relinquish 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: no, rather the contrary, at least to take these things in their course; but He speaks to them in a higher strain; namely, 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 who should believe and obey Him. Further, that they should be taken into that near alliance of loving friends, yea, the intimate divine relation of dear brethren, and co-heirs with Him of all celestial happiness, and a glorious immortality. Wherefore, if it be recorded that those who heard not Moses were to die, much more they who refuse to hear and obey the precepts of this great and eternal Rewarder of all that diligently 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 of, 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, prints, perfumes, costly clothes, curious trims, exact dresses, rich jewels, pleasant recreations, plays, treats, balls, masques, revels, romances, love-songs, and the like pastimes of the world: no, no, alas! but by forsaking all such kinds of entertainments, yea, and sometimes more lawful enjoyments too; and cheerfully undergoing the loss of all on the one hand, and the reproach, ignominy, and the most cruel persecution from ungodly men on the other. He needed never to have wanted such variety of worldly pleasures, had they been suitable to the nature of his kingdom: for He was tempted, as are his followers, 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 Gentiles," that know not God, "do seek" (Matt. 6:19-33); (and Christians that pretend to know Him too), but "having food and raiment, therewith to be content" (1 Tim. 6:6-11); He, I say, that 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 (Luke 14:26,27,33).
3. Oh who will follow Him? Who will be true Christians? We must not think to steer another course, nor to drink of another cup, than hath the Captain of our salvation done before us (Heb. 2:10): 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 with?" (Matt. 20:22). 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 principle of life, and freely write a bill of divorce for every beloved vanity; and all, under the Sun of Righteousness is so, compared with Him.
4. Objection 1. But some are ready to object who will not seem to want Scripture for their lusts, although it be evidently misapplied. The kingdom of God stands not in meats, or in drink, or in apparel, &c. Answer. 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, as our not conforming to them renders us obnoxious to your reproach; which how Christian, or resembling it is of the righteousness, peace, and joy in which the heavenly kingdom stands, let the just principle in your own consciences determine. Our conversation stands in temperance, and that stands in righteousness, by which we have obtained that kingdom, your latitude and excess have no share or interest in. If none, therefore, can be true disciples but they that come to bear the daily cross, but those who follow the example of the Lord Jesus Christ (Phil. 3:10; 1 Peter 4:13; Titus 2:11-13; John 1:9; Rom. 6:6; Gal. 2:20; 5:24; 6:4), through his baptism, afflictions, and temptations; and that 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 of immortality to light; if none are true disciples but such, as most undoubtedly they are not, then let the people of these days a little 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" (Gal. 5:11; 1 Cor. 1:18); that every lust and vanity may be subdued, and the creature brought into a 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, and by the immortality He brought and daily brings to light, He might stain the glory of their fading rests and pleasures (1 Cor. 1:27-29); 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" (2 Cor. 4:18), and those they were, and all true Christians are, to be redeemed from resting in: but the things that are not seen are eternal; those they were, and all are to be brought to, and have their affections chiefly fixed upon.
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 if they were not: that having such things as are necessary and convenient, he be therewith content, without the superfluity of the world (1 Tim. 6:8); 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 (John 15:4,7,8), which He requires at the hand of his followers, and wherein his Father is glorified. But as 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 delighting in those bewitching rallies, the very reason why they are so ignorant and insensible of Him: Him who continually stands knocking at the door of their hearts (Rev. 3:20); 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 slain and crucified; that so they might feel the heavenly life to spring up in their hearts, and themselves 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 (Col. 3:1; Rom. 9:5). Amen.
NEXT, 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: who, instead of fearing their Creator in the days of their youth, and seeking the kingdom of God in the first place (Eccl. 12:1), expecting the addition of such other things as may be necessary and convenient (Luke 12:30, 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 (Jer. 18:18-20), which becomes their most delightful entertainment: all which do but evidently beget lustful conceptions, and inflame to inordinate thoughts, wanton discourses, 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 grieve the Holy Spirit, consider of an eternal doom, prepare for judgment; and the best return that is usual is reproachful jests (Eph. 5:3,4), profane repartees, if not direct blows. Their thoughts are otherwise employed: their mornings 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 (Psalm 12:2; Isa. 5:12; 59:3,4); whilst their afternoons are as commonly bespoke for visits and for plays; where their usual entertainment is some stories fetched from the more approved romances; some strange adventures, some passionate amours, unkind refusals, grand impediments, importunate addresses, miserable disappointments, wonderful surprises, unexpected encounters, castles surprised, imprisoned lovers rescued, and meetings of supposed dead ones; bloody duels, languishing voices echoing from solitary groves, overheard mournful complaints, deep-fetched sighs sent from wild deserts, intrigues managed with unheard-of subtlety; and whilst all things seem at the greatest distance, then are dead people alive, enemies friends, despair turned to enjoyment, and all their impossibilities reconciled: things that never were, nor are, nor ever shall or can be, they 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 invent; not only express lies, but utter impossibilities to very nature, on purpose to excite their minds to those idle passions, and intoxicate their giddy fancies with swelling nothings but 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 adventure theirs by imitation: but if disappointed,--as who can otherwise expect from such mere phantasms? the present remedy is latitude in 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 affections by entertainments most taking to their senses. On such occasions it is their hearts breed vanity, and their eyes turn interpreters to their thoughts, and their looks whisper the secret inflammations of their intemperate minds (Prov. 7:10-21); wandering so long abroad, till their lascivious actings bring night home, and load their minds and reputations with lust and infamy.
2. Here is the end of their fashions and recreations, to gratify the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16); clothes that were given to cover, now want a covering for their shameful excess; and that which should remind men of lost innocency, they pride and glory in: but the hundredth part of these things cost man the loss of Paradise, that now make up the agreeable recreation, aye, 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 greatest 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, that know Christ indeed, to be by his eternal power redeemed and raised to the love of immortality: which is yet a mystery to those who live and have pleasure in their curious trims, rich and changeable 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 request: for as these had never been, if man had stayed 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 enquiry after those things that are eternal. Oh that there should be so much noise, clutter, invention, traffic, curiosity, diligence, pains, and vast expense of time and estate, to please and gratify poor vain mortality! And that the soul, the very image of divinity itself, should have so little of their consideration. What, Oh 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 believe them innocent, but persuade themselves they are good Christians all this while; and to rebuke them is worse than heresy (Luke 8:14; Prov. 1:30; 10:17; 12:1; 15:14; Isa. 58:1-10; Jer. 14:19-21; Matt. 6:7). Thus are they strangers to the hidden life; and by these things are they diverted from all serious examination of themselves: and 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 their intention, as their works show, than it was the young man's in the Gospel, that 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, and these they attend, and these are their most familiar associates. 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 received ideas of those toys and fopperies into their loose and airy minds; and if in all things they cannot practise them, because they want the means of it, yet as much as may be, at least to dote upon them, be taken with them, and willingly suffer their thoughts to be hurried after them. All which greatly indisposes the minds, and distracts the souls of people from the divine life and principle of the holy Jesus; but, as it hath been often said, more especially the minds of the younger sort: to whom the like divertisements (Jer. 2: 5), (where their inclinations being presented with what is very suitable to them, they 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 rewards, and joys unspeakable and full of glory: so vain, so blind, and so very insensible are men and women, of what truly makes a disciple of Christ (Rom. 13:11,12; Matt. 15:7-14). 0! that they would ponder on these things, and watch against, and come 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 further manifests the unlawfulness of these numerous 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 the same; by which nothing but lust and folly are promoted: or the contrivances of indigent and impoverished wits, who make it the next way for their maintenance: in both which respects, and upon both which considerations, they ought to be detested. For the first licenses express impiety, and the latter countenances a wretched way of livelihood, and consequently diverts from more lawful, more 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 fashions would there be! Surely their tailor would find but little custom, although we read, it was God Himself that made them coats of skins (Gen. 3:21). The like may be asked of all the other vanities, concerning the holy men and women through all the generations of holy writ. How many pieces of ribbon, and what feathers, lace-bands, and the like, did Adam and Eve wear in Paradise, or out of it? What rich embroideries, 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, or strange colours, rich points, trimmings, laced gowns, embroidered petticoats, shoes with slip-slaps laced with silk or silver lace, and ruled like pigeons' feet, with several yards, if not pieces of ribbons? How many plays did Jesus Christ and his apostles recreate themselves at? What poets, romances, 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 jesting, profane babblings, and fabulous stories (Eph. 5:1-5,15,16; 2 Tim. 2:16, 22; Matt. 25:13; Phil. 2:12,13; Col. 3:1,2,5) 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 Gentiles, that knew not God; for some amongst them detested them, as will be shown; they were the pleasures of an effeminate Sardanapalus, a fantastic Miracles, a comical Aristophanes, a prodigal Charaxus, a luxurious Aristippus; and the practices of such women as the infamous Clytemnestra, the painted Jezebel, the lascivious Campaspe, the immodest Posthumia, the costly Corinthian Laïs, the most impudent Flora, the wanton Egyptian Cleopatra, and most insatiable Messalina: persons whose memotics have stunk through all ages, and that carry with them a perpetual rot: these, and not the only self-denying men and women in ancient times, were devoted to the like recreations and vain delights. Nay, the more sober of the very heathen 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, and the grave Cornelia, with many others, could find themselves employment enough among their children, servants, and neighbours; they, though nobles, next to their devotion, delighted most in spinning, weaving, gardening, needlework, and such like good house-wifery, and commendable entertainment: who, though called heathen, expressed much more Christianity in all 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 so passionately beloved comedies; than which, as there is not any one diversion that is more pernicious, so not one more in esteem, and fondly frequented? Why, I will tell you: their great-grandfather was a heathen, and that not of the best sort: his name was Epicharmus. It is true, he is called a philosopher, or a lover of wisdom; but he was only so by name; and no more in reality than the comedians of these times are true Christians. It is reported of him by Suidas, a Greek historian, 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 invention? 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. And do not you think this an ill original? And is it less in any one to imitate, or justify the same, since the more sober heathen have themselves condemned them? Nay, is it not abominable, when such as call themselves Christians do both imitate and justify the like inventions? Nor had the melancholy tragedies a better parentage, namely, one Thespis, an Athenian poet; to whom they also do ascribe the original of that impudent custom of painting faces, and the counterfeit, or representation 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 poetical raptures of admiration, indeed sordid effeminacy, if not idolatry; they call him Alcman or Alcina, a Lydian: he, being exceedingly in love with a young woman of his own country, is said to have been the first person that gave the world a sight of that kind of folly, namely, love stories and verses; which have been so diligently imitated by almost all nations ever since in their romances.
7. Objection 2. I know that some will say, But we have many comedies and tragedies, sonnets, catches, &c., that are on purpose to reprehend vice, from whence we learn many commendable things. Though this be shameful, yet many have been wont, for want of shame or understanding, or both, to return me this for answer. Now I readily shall confess, that amongst the heathen it was the next remedy against the common vices to the more grave and moral lectures of their philosophers, of which number I shall instance two: Euripides, whom Suidas calls a learned tragical poet, and Eupolis, whom the same historian calls a comical poet. The first was a man so chaste, and therefore so unlike those of our days, that he was called one that hated women, that is, wanton ones, for otherwise he was twice married; the other he characters as a most severe reprehender of faults. From which I gather, that their design was not to feed the idle lazy fancies of people, nor merely to get money; but since by the means of loose wits the people had been debauched, their work was to reclaim them, rendering vice ridiculous, and turning wit against wickedness. And this appears the rather, from the description given, as also that Euripides was supposed to have been torn in pieces by wanton women; which doubtless was for declaiming against their impudence: and the other, being slain in the battle betwixt the Athenians and Lacedæmonians, was so regretted, that a law was made that never after such poets should be allowed to bear arms: doubtless it was because in losing him they lost a reprover of vice. So that the end of the approved comedians and tragedians of those times was but to reform the people by making sin odious: and that not so much by a rational and argumentative way, usual with their philosophers; as by sharp jeers, severe reflections, and rendering their vicious actions shameful, ridiculous, and detestable; so that for reputation sake they might not longer be guilty of them: which is to me but a little softer than a whip or a bridewell. Now if you that plead for them will be contented to be accounted heathen, and those of the more dissolute and wicked sort too, that will sooner be jeered than argued out of your sins, we shall acknowledge to you that such comedies and tragedies as these may be serviceable; but then, for shame, abuse not the name of Jesus Christ so impudently as to call yourselves Christians, whose lusts are so strong, that you are forced to use the low shifts of heathen to repel them to leave their evils not for the love of virtue, but out of fear, shame, or reputation. Is this your love to Jesus, your reverence to the Scriptures, that through faith are able to make the man of God perfect? Is all your prattle about ordinances, prayers, sacraments, Christianity and the like, come to this: that at last you must betake yourselves to such instructors as were by the sober heathen permitted to reclaim the most vicious of the people that were amongst them? And such remedies too as below which there is nothing but corporal punishment?
8. This is so far from Christianity that many of the nobler heathen, men and women, were better taught, and better disposed; they found out more heavenly contemplations, and subjects of an eternal nature to meditate upon. Nay, so far did they outstrip the Christians of these times, that they not only were exemplary by their grave and sober conversations; but for their public benefit the Athenians instituted the Gynæçosmi, or twenty men, who should make it their business to observe the people's apparel and behaviour; that if any were found immodest, and to demean themselves loosely, they had full authority to punish them. But the case is altered; it is punishable to reprove such; yes, it is matter of the greatest contumely and reproach. Nay, so impudent are some grown in their impieties, that they sport themselves with such religious persons: and not only manifest a great neglect of piety, and a severe life by their own looseness, but their extreme contempt of it, by rendering it ridiculous, through comical and abusive jests on public stages. Which, how dangerous it is, and apt to make religion little worth in the people's eyes, besides the demonstration of this age, let us remember that Aristophanes had not a readier way to bring the reputation of Socrates in question with the people, who greatly reverenced him for his grave and virtuous life and doctrine, than by his abusive representations of him in a play; which made the airy, wanton, unstable crowd rather part with Socrates in earnest than Socrates in jest. Nor can a better reason be given why the poor Quakers are made so much the scorn of men, than because of their severe reprehensions of sin and vanity, and their self-denying conversation, amidst so great intemperance in all worldly satisfactions; yet can such libertines all this while strut and swell for Christians, and strut it out against precept and example; but we must be whimsical, conceited, morose, melancholy, or else heretics, deceivers, and what not? O blindness! Pharisaical hypocrisy! As if such were fit to be judges of religion; or that it were possible for them to have a sight and sense of true religion, or really to be religious, whilst darkened in their understandings by the god of the pleasures of this world; and their minds so wrapped up in external enjoyments, and the variety of worldly delight: no, in the name of the everlasting God, you mock Him, and deceive your souls; for the wrath of the Almighty is against you all, whilst in that spirit and condition; in vain are all your babbles and set performances, God laughs you to scorn; his anger is kindling because of these things: wherefore be ye warned to temperance, and repent.
9. Besides, this sort of people are not only wicked, loose, and vain, who doth invent and act these things: but by your great delight in such vain inventions you encourage them therein, and hinder them from more honest and more serviceable employments. For what is the reason that most commodities are held at such excessive rates, but because labour is so very dear? And why is it so, but because so many hands are otherwise bestowed, even about the very vanity of all vanities? Nay, how common is it with these mercenary procurers to people's folly, that when their purses begin to grow low, they shall present them with a new and pretendedly more convenient fashion; and that perhaps before the former costly habits shall have done half their service; which either must be given away, or new vamped in the cut most à-la-mode. O prodigal, yet frequent folly!
10. Objection 3. I know I am coming to encounter the most plausible objection they are used to urge when driven to a pinch, viz.: But how shall those many families subsist whose livelihood depends upon such fashions and recreations as you so earnestly decry? I answer: it is a bad argument to plead for the commission of the least evil that never so great a good may come of it: if you and they have made wickedness your pleasure and your profit, be ye content that it should be your grief and punishment till the one can learn to be without such vanity, and the others have found out more honest employments. It is the vanity of the few great ones that makes so much toil for the many small: and the great excess of the one occasions the great labour of the other. Would men learn to be contented with few things, such as are necessary and convenient (the ancient Christian life), all things might be at a cheaper rate, and men might live for little. If the landlords had less lusts to satisfy, the tenants might have less rent to pay, and turn from poor to rich, whereby they might be able to find more honest and domestic employments for their children than becoming sharpers and living by their wits, which is but a better word for their sins. And if the report of the more intelligent in husbandry be credible, lands are generally improvable ten in twenty: and were there more hands about more lawful and serviceable manufactures, they would be cheaper, and greater vent might be made of them, by which a benefit would redound to the world in general; nay, the burden lies the heavier upon the laborious country, that so many hands and shoulders as have the lust-caterers of the cities should be wanting to the plough and useful husbandry. If men never think themselves rich enough, they may never miss of trouble and employment; but those who can take the primitive state and God's creation for their model may learn with a little to be contented; as knowing that desires after wealth do not only prevent or destroy true faith, but, when got, increase snares and trouble. It is no evil to repent of evil: but that cannot be whilst men maintain what they should repent of: it is a bad argument to avoid temperance, or justify the contrary, because otherwise the actors and inventors of excess would want a livelihood; since to feed them that way is to nurse the cause instead of starving it. Let such of those vanity hucksters as have got sufficient, be contented to retreat, and spend it more honestly than they got it; and such as really are poor, be rather helped by charity to better callings: this were more prudent, nay Christian, than to consume money upon such foolish toys and fopperies. Public workhouses would be effectual remedies to all these lazy and lustful distempers, with more profit and a better conscience. Therefore it is that we cannot, we dare not square our conversation by the world's: no, but by our plainness and moderation to testify against such extravagant vanities; and by our grave and steady life to manifest our dislike, on God's behalf, to such intemperate and wanton curiosity: yea, to deny ourselves what otherwise perhaps we lawfully could use with a just indifferency, if not satisfaction; because of that abuse that is amongst the generality.
11. Objection 4. I know that some are ready further to object: Hath God given us these enjoyments on purpose to condemn us, if we use them? Answer: But to such miserable, poor, silly souls, who would rather charge the most high and holy God with the invention or creation of their dirty vanities than want a plea to justify their own practice, not knowing how, for shame, or fear, or love to throw them off; I answer: that what God made for man's use was good, and what the blessed Lord Jesus Christ allowed or enjoined, or gave us in his most heavenly example, is to be observed, believed and practised (Luke 8:14; 12:28-31). But in the whole catalogue the Scriptures give of both, I never found the attires, recreations, and way of living, so much in request with the generality of the Christians of these times: no certainly, God created man a holy, wise, sober, grave, and reasonable creature, fit to govern himself and the world: but divinity was then the great object of his reason and pleasure; all external enjoyments of God's giving being for necessity, convenience, and lawful delight, with this proviso too, that the Almighty was to be seen, and sensibly enjoyed and reverenced in every one of them. But how very wide the Christians of these times are from this primitive institution is not difficult to determine, although they make such loud pretensions to that most holy Jesus, who not only gave the world a certain evidence of a happy restoration by his own coming, but promised his assistance to all that would follow Him in the self-denial and way of his holy cross (John 8:12; 15:7,8; 17:20); and therefore hath so severely enjoined no less on all, as they would be everlastingly saved. But whether the minds of men and women are not as profoundly involved in all excess and vanity, as those who know Him not any further than by hearsay; and whether being thus banished the presence of the Lord, by their greedy seeking the things that are below, and thereby having lost the taste of divine pleasure, they have not reigned to themselves an imaginary pleasure, to quiet or smother conscience, and pass their time without that anguish and trouble which are the consequences of sin, that so they might be at ease and security while in the world, let their own consciences declare (Rom. 2:8,9). Adam's temptation is represented by the fruit of a tree (Gen 3:6), thereby intimating the great influence external objects, as they exceed in beauty, carry with them upon our senses: so that unless the mind keep upon its constant watch, so prevalent are visible things that hard it is for one to escape being ensnared in them (Mark 13:33-37); and he shall need to be only sometimes entrapped, to cast so thick a veil of darkness over the mind, that not only it shall with pleasure continue in its fetters to lust and vanity, but proudly censure such as refuse to swear them, strongly pleading for them, as serviceable and convenient: that strange passion do perishing objects raise in those minds where way is made, and entertainment given to them. But Christ Jesus is manifested in us, and hath given unto us a taste and understanding of Him that is true; and to all such a proportion of his good Spirit, as is sufficient would they obey it, to redeem their minds from that captivity they have been in to lust and vanity, and entirely ransom them from the dominion of all visible objects, and whatsoever may gratify the desires of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life (1 John 2:15,16); that they might be regenerated in their minds, changed in their affections, and have their whole hearts set on things that are above, where moth nor rust can never pass, nor enter to harm or destroy.
12. But it is a manifest sign of what mould and make the persons are, who practise and plead for such shameful Egyptian rags, as pleasures. It is to be hoped that they never knew, or to be feared they have forgotten, the humble, plain, meek, holy, self-denying, and exemplary life, which the eternal Spirit sanctifies all obedient hearts into; yea, it is indubitable that either such always have been ignorant, or else they have lost sight of that good land, that heavenly country, that blessed inheritance they once had some glimmering prospect of (Gal. 5:22-25; Eph. 5:8-11,15,16). Oh that they would but withdraw a while, sit down, weigh and consider with themselves where they are, and whose work and will they are doing! that they would once believe the devil hath not a stratagem more pernicious to their immortal souls than this of exercising their minds in the foolish fashions and wanton recreations of the times! Great and gross impieties beget a detestation in the opinion of sober education and reputation; and therefore, since the devil rightly sees such things have no success with many, it is his next, and most fatal design to find some other entertainments that carry less of infection in their looks (though more of security, because less of scandal), and more of pleasure in their enjoyment, on purpose to busy and arrest people from a diligent search and inquiry after those matters which necessarily concern their eternal peace (Eph. vi. ~2-~9): that, being ignorant of the heavenly life, they may not be induced to press after it; but being only formally religious, according to the traditions and precepts of others, proceed to their common pleasures, and find no check therefrom, their religion and conversation for the most part agreeing well together, whereby an improvement in the knowledge of God, going on from grace to grace, growing to the measure of the stature of Jesus Christ Himself (Eph. 6:12,13), is not known; but as it was in the beginning at seven, so it is at seventy; nay, not so innocent, unless by reason of the old saying, "Old men are twice children."
Oh! the mystery of godliness, the heavenly life, the true Christian, are another thing. Wherefore we conclude that as the design of the devil, where he cannot involve and draw into gross sin, is to busy, delight, and allure the minds of men and women by more seeming innocent entertainments, on purpose that he may more easily secure them from minding their duty and progress, and obedience to the only true God, which is eternal life (}ohn 17:3); and thereby take up their minds from heavenly and eternal things; so those who would be delivered from these snares should mind the holy, just, grave, and self-denying teachings of God's grace and Spirit in themselves, that they may reject, and for ever abandon the like vanity and evil (Titus 2:11-15); and by a reformed conversation condemn the world of its intemperance: so will the true discipleship be obtained: for otherwise many enormous consequences and pernicious effects will follow. It is to encourage such impious persons to continue and proceed in the like trades of feeding the people's lusts; and thereby such make themselves partakers of their plagues, who, by continual fresh desire to the like curiosities, and that way of spending time and estate, induce them to spend more time in studying how to abuse time; lest, through their pinching and small allowance, those prodigals should call their father's house to mind: for whatsoever they think, more pleasant baits, alluring objects, grateful entertainments, cunning emissaries, acceptable sermons, insinuating lectures, taking orators, the crafty devil has not ever had, by which to entice and ensnare the minds of people, and totally to divert them from heavenly reflections and divine meditations, than the attire, sports, plays, and pastimes of this godless age, the school and shop of Satan, hitherto so reasonably condemned.
BUT should these things be as indifferent, as they are proved perniciously unlawful; for I never heard any advance their plea beyond the bounds of mere indifferency; yet so great is their abuse, so universal the sad effects thereof, like to an infection, that they therefore ought to be rejected of all; especially those whose sobriety hath preserved them on this side of that excess, or whose judgments, though themselves be guilty, suggest the folly of such intemperance. For what is an indifferent thing, but that which may be done, or left undone? Granting, I say, this were the case, yet do both reason and religion teach that when they are used with such an excess of appetite as to leave them would be a cross to their desires, they have exceeded the bounds of mere indifferency, and are thereby tendered no less than necessary. Which being a violation of the very nature of the things themselves, a perfect abuse enters; and consequently they are no longer to be considered in the rank of things simply indifferent, but unlawful.
2. Now that the whole exchange of things, against which I have so earnestly contended, are generally abused by the excess of almost all ages, sexes, and qualities of people, will be confessed by many who yet decline not to conform themselves to them; and to whom, as I have understood, it only seems lawful, because, say they, the abuse of others should be no argument why we should not use them. But to such I answer, That they have quite forgotten, or will not remember, they have acknowledged these things to be but of an indifferent nature; if so, and vanity never urged more, I say, there can be nothing more clear than since they acknowledge their great abuse, that they are wholly to be forsaken: for since they may as well be let alone as done at any time, surely they should then of duty be let alone when the use of them is an abetting the general excess, and a mere exciting others to continue in their abuse, because they find persons reputed sober to imitate them, or otherwise give them an example (Phil.3:17). Precepts are not half so forcible as examples.
3. Every one that pretends to seriousness ought to inspect himself, as having been too forward to help on the excess, and can never make too much haste out of those inconveniences that by his former example he encouraged any to; that by a new one he may put a seasonable check upon the intemperance of others. A wise parent ever withdraws those objects, however innocent in themselves, which are too prevalent upon the weak senses of his children, on purpose that they might be weaned: and it is as frequent with men to bend a crooked stick as much the contrary way, that they might make it straight at last. Those that have more sobriety than others should not forget their stewardships, but exercise that gift of God to the security of their neighbours. It was murdering Cain that rudely asked the Lord, "Am I my brother's keeper?" (Gen. 4:9). For every man is necessarily obliged thereto; and therefore should be so wise as to deny himself the use of such indifferent enjoyments as cannot be used by him without too manifest an encouragement to his neighbour's folly.
4. God hath sufficiently excited men to what is said; for in the case of the brazen serpent (2 Kings 18:3,4), which was a heavenly institution and type of Christ, He with great displeasure enjoined it should be broken to pieces, because they were too fond and doting upon it. Yes, the very groves themselves, however pleasant for situation, beautiful for their walks and trees, must be cut down: and why? Only because they had been abused to idolatrous uses. And what is an idol but that which the mind puts an over-estimate or value upon? None can benefit themselves so much by an indifferent thing as others by not using that abused liberty.
5. If those things were convenient in themselves, which is a step nearer necessity than mere indifferency, yet when by circumstances they become prejudicial, such conveniency itself ought to be put off; much more what is but indifferent should be denied. People ought not to weigh their private satisfactions more than a public good; nor please themselves in too free a use of indifferent things, at the cost of being so really prejudicial to the public as they certainly are, whose use of them, if no worse, becomes exemplary to others, and begets an impatience in their minds to have the like. Wherefore it is both reasonable and incumbent on all to make only such things necessary as tend to life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3), and to employ their freedom with most advantage to their neighbours. So that here is a two-fold obligation; the one not to be exemplary in the use of such things, which though they may use them, yet not without giving too much countenance to the abuse and excessive vanity of their neighbours. The other obligation is, that they ought so far to condescend to such religious people, who are offended at these fashions, and that kind of conversation as to reject them (Rom. 14:1-23).
6. Now those who, notwithstanding what I have urged, will yet proceed; what is it but that they have so involved themselves and their affections in them, that it is hardly possible to reform them; and that for all their many protestations against their fondness to such fopperies, they really love them more than Christ and his Cross? Such cannot seek the good of others, who do so little respect their own. For, after a serious consideration, what vanity, pride, idleness, expense of time and estates have been and yet are! How many persons debauched from their first sobriety, and women from their natural sweetness and innocency to loose, airy, wanton, and many times more enormous practices! How many plentiful estates have been overrun by numerous debts; chastity ensnared by accursed lustful intrigues; youthful health overtaken by the hasty seizure of unnatural distempers, and the remaining days of such spent upon a rack of their vice's procuring, and so made slaves to the unmerciful but necessary effects of their own inordinate pleasures! in which agony they vow the greatest temperance, but are no sooner out of it, than in their vice again (Lam 4:5; Job 21:13,14; Psalm 55:23; 37:10; Eccl. 8:12; Psalm 37:1,2; Prov. 2:22).
7. That these things are the case, and almost innumerable more, I am persuaded no ingenuous person of any experience will deny: how then, upon a serious reflection, any that pretend conscience, or the fear of God Almighty, can longer continue in the garb, livery, and conversation of those whose whole life tends to little else than what I have repeated, much less join with them in their abominable excess, I leave to the just principle in themselves to judge (Jer. 16:5-9). No, surely! this is not to obey the voice of God, who in all ages did loudly cry to all, Come out of--of what?--the ways, fashions, converse, and spirit of Babylon (Isa. 3:13-16; Jer. 1:8; 15:6,7; Amos 6:3-7). What is that." The great city of all these vain, foolish, wanton, superfluous, and wicked practices, against which the Scriptures denounce most dreadful judgments; ascribing all the intemperance of men and women to the cup of wickedness she hath given them to drink: whose are the things indifferent, if they must be so. And for witness, John in his revelation says, in her description, how much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her. And the kings of the earth, who have lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her and lament her; and the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth her merchandise any more; the merchandise of gold, and silver, .and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and thyine-wood, and all manner of vessels of ivory, and all manner of vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble; and cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men (Rev. 18:7,9,11-13). Behold the character and judgment of luxury; and though I know it hath a further signification than what is literal, yet there is enough to show the pomp, plenty, fulness, idleness, ease, wantonness, vanity, lust, and excess of luxury that reign in her. But at the terrible day who will go to her exchange any more? Who to her plays? Who will follow her fashions then? And who shall traflic in her delicate inventions? Not one; for she shall be judged. No plea shall excuse or rescue her from the wrath of the Judge; for strong is the Lord who will perform it (Rev. 18:8). If these reasonable pleas will not prevail, yet however I shall caution such in the repetition of part of Babylon's miserable doom: mind, my friends, more heavenly things hasten to obey that righteous principle which would exercise and delight you in that which is eternal; or else with Babylon, the mother of lust and vanity, the fruits that your souls lust after shall depart from you, and all things which are dainty and goodly shall depart from you, and you shall find them no more: O Dives! No more (Rev. 18:14). Lay your treasures, therefore, up in heaven, O ye inhabitants of the earth, where nothing can break through to harm them (Luke 12:33,34); but where time will shortly be swallowed up of eternity.
8. But my arguments against these things end not here: for the contrary most of all conduces to good; namely, temperance in food, plainness in apparel, with a meek, shame-faced, and quiet spirit, and that conversation which doth only express the same in all godly honesty: as the apostle saith, "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace to the hearers; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, but rather giving of thanks: for let no man deceive you with vain words, because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience" (Col. 4:5, 6; 1 Thess. 4:11,12; 1 Peter 3"1-4; Eph. 4:29; 5:3-6; 1 Tim. 4:12; Phil. 3:16-20). And if men and women were but thus adorned after this truly Christian manner, impudence would soon receive a check, and lust, pride, vanity, and wantonness find a rebuke (2 Peter 2:12; Prov. 31:23-31; James 2:2-9). They would not be able to attack such universal chastity or encounter such godly austerity: virtue would be in credit, and vice afraid and ashamed, and excess not dare to show its face. There would be an end of gluttony and gaudiness of apparel, flattering titles, and a luxurious life (2 Peter 3:11; Psalm 26:6); and then primitive innocency and plainness would come back again, and that plain-hearted, downright, harmless life would be restored, of not much caring what we should eat, drink, or put on (Luke 12:22-30), as Christ tells us the Gentiles did, and as we know this age daily does, under all its talk of religion; but as the ancients, who with moderate care for necessaries and conveniences of life, devoted themselves to the concernments of a celestial kingdom, and more minded their improvements in righteousness than their increase in riches; for they laid their treasure up in heaven (Matt. 25:21), and endured tribulation for an inheritance that cannot be taken away.
9. But the temperance I plead for is not only religiously but politically good: it is the interest of good government to curb and rebuke excesses: it prevents many mischiefs. Luxury brings effeminacy, laziness, poverty, and misery (Prov. 10:4; Eccl. 10:16-18); but temperance preserves the land. It keeps out foreign vanities, and improves our own commodities: now we are their debtors, then they would be debtors to us for our native manufactures. By this means, such persons who by their excess, not charity, have deeply engaged their estates, may in a short space be enabled to clear them from those incumbrances which otherwise, like moths, soon eat out plentiful revenues. It helps persons of mean substance to improve their small stocks, that they may not expend their dear earnings and hard-got wages upon superfluous apparel, foolish May-games, plays, dancings, shows, taverns, ale-houses, and the like folly and intemperance, of which this land is more infested, and by which it is rendered more ridiculous than any kingdom in the world: for none I know of is so infested with cheating mountebanks, savage morrice-dancers, pick-pockets, and profane players and stagers, to the slight of religion, the shame of government and the great idleness, expense, and debauchery of the people: for which the Spirit of the Lord is grieved, and the judgments of the Almighty are at the door, and the sentence ready to be pronounced, "Let him that is unjust be unjust still" (Rev. 22:11; Eccl. 12:1). Wherefore it is that we cannot but loudly call upon the generality of the times, and testify both by our life and doctrine against the like vanities and abuses, if possibly any may be weaned from their folly, and choose the good old path of temperance, wisdom, gravity, and holiness, the only way to inherit the blessings of peace and plenty here, and eternal happiness hereafter.
10. Lastly, supposing we had none of these foregoing reasons justly to reprove the practice of the land in these particulars; however, let it be sufficient for us to say, that when people have first learned to fear, worship, and obey their Creator, to pay their numerous vicious debts, to alleviate and abate their oppressed tenants; but above all outward regards, when the pale faces are more commiserated, when the famished poor, the distressed widow, and helpless orphan, God's works and your fellow-creatures, are provided for; then, I say, if then, it will be time enough for you to plead the indifferency of your pleasures. But that the sweat and tedious labour of the husbandman, early and late, cold and hot, wet and dry, should be converted into the pleasure, ease, and pastime of a small number of men; that the cart, the plough, the flail, should be in that continual severity laid upon nineteen parts of the land to feed the inordinate lusts and delicious appetites of the twentieth, is so far from the appointment of the great Governor of the world, and God of the spirits of all flesh, that, to imagine such horrible injustice as the effects of his determinations, and not the intemperance of men, were wretched and blasphemous. As on the other side, it would be to deserve no pity, no help, no relief from God Almighty, for people to continue that expense in vanity and pleasure, whilst the great necessities of such objects go unanswered: especially since God hath made the sons of men but stewards to each other's exigencies and relief. Yea, so strict is it enjoined, that on the omission of these things, we find this dreadful sentence partly to be grounded, "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire," &c. (Matt. 25:34-41). As on the contrary, to visit the sick, see the imprisoned, relieve the needy, &c. are such excellent properties in Christ's account, that thereupon He will pronounce such blessed, saying, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you," &c. (Matt. 25:34-41). So that the great are not, with the leviathan in the deep, to prey upon the small, much less to make a sport of the lives and labour of the lesser ones, to gratify their inordinate senses.
11. I therefore humbly offer an address to the serious consideration of the civil magistrates, that, if the money which is expended in every parish in such vain fashions as wearing of laces, jewels, embroideries, unnecessary ribbons, trimmings, costly furniture, and attendance, together with what is commonly consumed in taverns, feasts, gaming, &c., could be collected into a public stock, or something in lieu of this extravagant and fruitless expense, there might be reparation to the broken tenants, workhouses for the able, and alms-houses for the aged and impotent. Then should we have no beggars in the land, the cry of the widow and the orphan would cease, and charitable relief might easily be afforded towards the redemption of poor captives, and the refreshment of such distressed Protestants as labour under the miseries of persecution in other countries: nay, the Exchequer's needs, on just emergencies, might be supplied by such a bank: this sacrifice and service would please the just and merciful God; it would be a noble example of gravity and temperance to foreign states, and an unspeakable benefit to ourselves at home.
Alas! why should men need persuasions to what their own felicity so necessarily leads them? Had these vitiosos of the times but a sense of heathen Cato's generosity, they would rather deny their carnal appetites than leave such noble enterprises unattempted. But that they should eat, drink, play, game, and sport away their health, estates, and, above all, their irrevocable precious time, which should be dedicated to the Lord as a necessary introduction to a blessed eternity, and than which, did they but know it, no worldly solace could come in competition: I say, that they should be continually employed about these poor low things, is to have the heathen judge them in God's days, as well as Christian precepts and examples condemn them. And their final doom will prove the more astonishing, in that this vanity and excess are acted under a profession of the self-denying religion of Jesus, whose life and doctrine are a perpetual reproach to the most of Christians. For He was humble, but they are proud; He forgiving, they revengeful; He meek, they fierce; He plain, they gaudy; He abstemious, they luxurious; He chaste, they lascivious; He a pilgrim on earth, they citizens of the world: in fine, He was meanly born, poorly attended, and obscurely brought up; He lived despised, and died hated of the men of his own nation. O you pretended followers of this crucified Jesus! examine yourselves, try yourselves, know you not your own selves; if He dwell not, if He rule not in you, that you are reprobates? (2 Cor. 13: 5) Be ye not deceived, for God will not be mocked (at last with forced repentances), such as you sow, such you must reap (Gal. 6:7,8). I beseech you to hear me, and remember you were invited and entreated to the salvation of God. I say: as you sow, you reap: if you are enemies to the Cross of Christ--and you are so if you will not bear it, but do as you list, and not as you ought--if you are uncircumcised in heart and ear, and you are so, if you will not hear, and open to Him that knocks at the door within, and if you resist and quench the Spirit in yourselves, that strives with you to bring you to God (and that you certainly do who rebel against its motions, reproofs, and instructions), then you sow to the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof, and of the flesh will you reap the fruits of corruption, woe, anguish, and tribulation (Rom. 2:8,9), from God, the Judge of quick and dead, by Jesus Christ. But if you will daily bear the holy Cross of Christ, and sow to the Spirit; if you will listen to the light and grace that comes by Jesus, and which He has given to all people for salvation, and square your thoughts, words, and deeds thereby, which leads and teaches the lovers of it to deny all ungodliness and the world's lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present evil world, then may you with confidence look for the blessed hope and joyful coming, and glorious appearance of the great God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ (Titus 2:11-13). Let it be so, O you Christians, and escape the wrath to come! Why will you die? Let the time past suffice: remember, that No Cross, No Crown. Redeem then the time, for the days are evil (Eph. 5:16), and yours are but very few. Therefore gird up the loins of your minds, be sober, fear, watch, pray, and endure to the end; calling to mind for your encouragement and consolation, that all such as through patience and well-doing wait for immortality (Rom. 2:7) shall reap glory, honour, and eternal life in the kingdom of the Father: whose is the kingdom, the power, and the glory for ever. Amen.
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