The Missing Cross to Purity


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 defense; though it is very probable height of mind, in some of those who blame us, will very hardly allow them to believe that the word reasonable is reconcilable with so silly a practice as this is esteemed.

[In Penn's time, the use of thee and thou was taught in the schools as proper forms of singular address. People of lower class were addressed in the singular, thee and thou. People of the upper class wanted to be addressed in the plural, you, which was to honor them. The honoring of "important" people with the plural address is what God "laid to the dust." Today, the you is taught as singular in all the schools; it is no longer a form of honor to address any person as you. You instead of thou is also in the majority of Bible translations available today, including the New King James Version.

Those who continue to use thee and thou, thinking to please God, only incur his condemnation for their show of "godliness." Beware of the scribes, which desire to walk in long robes, and love greetings in the markets ... the same shall receive greater damnation. (Luke 20:46-50). But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. (Mat 23:5). Rather than peculiar dress, peculiar words, or outward crosses, all outward show, being your testimony to religion; let your kindness, along with moderation in your dress and conversation, be your "badge" of religion.

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 where 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 love, he loves, are of the singular number, importing but one, whether in the first, second, or third person: also we love, you 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 love, be singular, and you love, be plural; and if you love signifies but one; and you love, many; is it not as proper to say, you love, 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 spoke to Adam, namely Hebrew: also it is the Assyrian, Chaldeans, Grecian, and Latin speech. And now among the Turks, Tar ears, Muscovites, Indians, Persians, Italians, Spaniards, French, Dutch, Germans, Apollonian, Swedes, Danes, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, as well as English, there is a distinction preserved, and the word you 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 you 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? Maybe but one, perhaps two; or it may be, all three: therefore our indictments run in the singular number, as Hold up your hand: thou are indicted in the name of, etc., and for that thou, not having the fear of God, etc. 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 until the reason be first removed; which can never be while 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 honor 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 you 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 has she only promoted it. Monsieur, sir, and madam 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 madam: 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 madam in French. So prevalent has 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, namely 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 you, 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 humor in man, is not reasonable in our sense: which we hope is Christian, though not fashionable.

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 you and you: as, Reader, you are desired, etc. Or, Reader, this is written to inform you of the occasion, etc. 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, Wall er, Crowley, Dryden, etc. 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, "you are also one of them: for your speech betrays you" (Mat 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 behavior. 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 that it should be different. 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 change. 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 they thought Peter was as orthodox as they. But though they did not discover him, 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 argument um ad hominess, 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. Are you, O man, greater than He that made you? Can you approach the God of your breath and great Judge of your life with you and you, and when you rise off your knees scorn a Christian for giving to you, poor mushroom of the earth, no better language than you have given to God but just before? An arrogance not to be easily equaled! 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 do you 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 insincere expressions, compliments, gross flatteries, and plain lies, under the name of civilities, are men and women guilty of in conduct! Ah, my friends! where do you obtain 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, honor, 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 honor, 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, etc., 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 rather was the entertainment of the heathen who did not know God? Oh! were you truly touched with a sense of your sins, and in any measure born again; were you to take up the cross of Jesus and live under it, these, which so much please your immoral 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 is spending your days in vanity working out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 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 everyone is doing it 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 you should beware of levity in serious things.

[Regarding titles and addressing persons : In Penn's time, strong lines of demarcation separated the different classes in society. The nobility looked down on the merchant, and he in his turn disdained the artisan. The mode of addressing them was different. Only a great merchant was worthy to prefix Master or Mr. to his name, and the addition of Esquire would have thrown the court into a tumult. The judge must be termed Most Worshipful, the minister Reverend, and the whole style of conversation was full of unmeaning compliments. Among the country people and working class, the pronouns thee and thou were always used, but it was considered a great insult to address a person of higher rank in this manner. He was supposed to embody in his person a consequence equal to two or more ordinary individuals. Thus he demanded to be addressed as you, and became violent if not so addressed. It is sad to consider that today the word Reverend is only laughed at by astute pundits, instead of the entire population. As for me, I will never address a false prophet, or even a true prophet as Reverend; and a judge is not worthy of being addressed Your Honor, much less the ridiculous Most Worshipful; he is simply addressed as Judge. We are not to seek the approval of men, only of God; and to address men with flattering titles, is to seek their approval.

What are some examples of flattering titles?—your majesty, your honor, master, reverend, etc.

Let me not, I pray you, show partiality to any man, neither let me give flattering titles to man.
For I do not know how to give flattering titles; in so doing my maker would soon take me away. Job 33:21-22

But if you have respect to persons [showing partiality to certain people, not treating everyone equally], you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. James 2:9

Fortunately, in the today's western world we don't have the bowing and curtseying that was so prevalent in Penn's time. And to put your minds at ease, I have received instruction from the Lord that we have free usage of the common forms of letter address and conclusion, including Dear Sir, Dear Madam, Mr. (Mister), Sincerely, Respectfully yours, etc. There is no class distinction today in the use of these addresses, so there is no honor given by their usage. In Penn's time, there was preferential honor attached, and therefore forbidden by the Lord.

10. Before I close, I shall add a few testimonies from men of general credit, in favor 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 Lauds, he sports himself with you to a single person as an incongruous and ridiculous speech, namely Magisterial, vows testis hiatus? Master, are you angry? As absurd with him in Latin, as My masters, are you 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. Impious affirms of the ancient Romans, "The manner of greeting now in vogue was not in use among 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 compliance to earthly minds, for fear 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 [non-edifying] word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment" (Mat 12:36).

11. Therefore, reader, whether you are a night-walking Nicodemus, or a scoffing scribe; one that would visit the blessed Messiah, but in the dark customs of the world, that you might embrace without discernment, for fear of bearing his reproachful cross; or else a favorer of Haman's pride, and counts these testimonies just a foolish peculiarity; I must say, divine love orders me to be a messenger of truth to you, and a faithful witness against the evil of this degenerate world. A world in which the spirit of vanity and lust has become so prevalent, and lived so long uncontrolled, that it has impudence enough to term its darkness light, and to call the evil offspring of darkness by the names [Christians] reserved to a better nature, the more easily to deceive people into the practice of lust and vanity. Most people are so very blind and insensible of what spirit they possess, and so ignorant of the meek and self-denying life of holy Jesus, whose name they profess; that they call each other Rabbi, that is, master; that they bow to men, (which I call worship); and greet each other with flattering titles, and pay homage to their fellow-creatures; and to spend their time and estate to gratify their unrestrained minds; all these customs of the Gentiles, that knew not God, are embraced by them as civility, good-breeding, decency, recreation, accomplishments, etc. [ manners]. Oh that man would consider, since there are only two spirits, one good the other evil, which of them it is that inclines the world to these things; and whether it is Nicodemus or Mordecai in you, that befriends these despised Christians, and which spirit makes you ashamed to admit in conversation with the world, what the true light has shown you to be vanity and sin in secret! Or if you are a despiser, tell me, I pray you, what do you think your mockery, anger, or contempt does most resemble, proud Haman or good Mordecai? My friend, know that no man has more delighted in, or been profuse in 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 would have sinned against my God and lost my peace. But I would not have you think it is a mere you or title simply or nakedly in themselves we boggle at, or that we would create or set up any form inconsistent with sincerity or true civility, for there is far too much of that. But the esteem and value which the vain minds of men attribute them, that ought to be crossed and stripped of their delights, dictate us the necessity to testify so steadily against them. Know this, from the sense that God's Holy Spirit has produced in us, that spirit which requires these customs, and produces fear to leave them, and pleads for them, and is displeased if not used and paid, is based in the spirit of pride and flattery; though frequency, use, or generosity may have abated its strength in some. This is 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 without discernment, though believing they are; and for reproof of an ally to the proud despisers, who scorn us as a people guilty of affectation and singularity. For the eternal God, who is great among us, and on his way in the earth to make his power known, will root up every plant that his right hand has not planted. Therefore let me implore you, reader, to consider the foregoing reasons, which were mostly given me from the Lord, in that time when my embrace of these fashions would have been purchased at almost any price; but the certain sense I had of their violation of 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, if I could have had peace of conscience and kept my belief under a worldly behavior. It was extremely irksome for me to decline their usage, 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. 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 those who they would seriously weigh in themselves, whether it is the spirit of the world or of the Father, that is so angry with our honest, plain, and harmless thee and thou: that so every plant that God our heavenly Father has not planted in the sons and daughters of men may be rooted up.

[Penn speaks as an upper class English Admiral's son, but also as having spent two years in the court of Louis IV, where his father sent him to escape the influence on him of the Quakers in England, hoping he would become a "normal" aristocrat. The decadence of the French court surpassed England's greatly, and on his return to England, he was described as a French gentleman in dress and demeanor. Yet, he went on to deny the great man's life, to embrace a life of simplicity. While in prison (where he wrote this book) at the Tower of London, Sir John Robinson, the Lieutenant of the Tower asked, "Why should you render yourself unhappy by associating with such a simple people?" "I confess," frankly answered Penn, "I have made it my choice to relinquish the company of those who are ingeniously wicked, to converse with those who are more honestly simple."]


But pride does not stop here, exciting people to an excessive value and care of their persons. They must have many fine servants, 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 Tyre. 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, namely 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 tumult 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 I think nothing of men's folly has less show of reason to diminish it.

[At least in America, such pride in name or blood is rare. For those who have such pride, this chapter applies. For the rest of us commoners, it can be ignored.]

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 favors the more, for coming by the hand of a man well or ill descended. I confess it were greater honor 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 poorer 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, yes, 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 honor 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 (Eze 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, I think 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 honor by nature stamped upon them, than their inferior neighbors. No, 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. Nevertheless, 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 honor; 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 honored 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 honor 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 has 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 what 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, for fear 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, whatever is their excellence. 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 say, that of all creatures, this sort of pride does least become the old and homely, if I may call the ill-favored 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: no, 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 what 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 (Mat 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 honor 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.

Are you shapely, comely, beautiful — the exact draught of a human creature? Admire that Power that made you so. Live an harmonious life to the curious make and frame of your creation; and let the beauty of your body teach you to beautify your mind with holiness, the ornament of the beloved of God. Are you homely or deformed? Magnify that goodness that did not make you a beast; and with the grace that is given to you, for it has appeared to all; learn to adorn your 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 your soul excel, your body will only set off the lusts of your 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.

[We have to remember that we are each a created being. Good looks can be a curse, tempting us to have pride in something we had no role in creating; rather we should be focusing on "beauty is as beauty does." Are we kind? Are we gentle? Or do we easily get angry, or boisterous, or demanding?

Pride can not only result from good looks but also athletic prowess, a capability, or intelligence. If we can run faster than a man in a wheel chair, is that something to take pride in? Should we compete with our fellow creatures to see who can run the fastest, who can sing the prettiest, who is the smartest; or should we realize all of that only builds pride that must be removed in this life by the inward cross of self-denial or in the next life the hard way?

A created being should have no pride; there is no true glory possible for a created being. Everything we have is owed to our creator. Learn on earth to bear this in mind the easy way, or learn it in the next life the hard way.]


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 several relations and capacities. A proud man then is a kind of glutton upon himself; for he is never satisfied with loving and admiring himself; while 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, for fear he should thereby acknowledge one above himself. He is one that is mighty big with the honor 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 will not yield to him, he becomes 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 sensitive. For feeling himself uninterested, he looks no further; he will not disturb his thoughts with other men's unhappiness. He is content to believe they deserve their circumstances; and he had rather churlishly upbraid them to be responsible for their problems, than be ready to sympathize 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 bad child, employee, and citizen; he disrespects his parents, boss, and government; he will not be subject. He thinks he is too wise or too old to be directed; as if it were a slavish thing to obey; and that all are free to do what they please; which turns duty out of doors and degrades authority. On the other hand, if he is a husband, or father, or master, there is scarcely any tolerance. He is so insufferably difficult to please and testy that it is an affliction to live with him; for no service is enough to please him. Some slight problem regarding his clothes, his diet, his lodging, or service from others greatly disturbs him; especially if he feels deprived of the state and respect he looks for. Thus pride destroys the nature of relations. He learns to avoid his responsibilities to his relations; and his pride turns love into fear, and makes the wife a servant, and the children and servants slaves.

4. But the proud man makes a bad neighbor 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, kindness of a neighbor appears a claim of the giver's equality and familiarity, a burden to the proud man's haughty, irritable disposition. Strife and detraction are his element; for he is jealous of attributing any praise to others, even when justified; for fear that should cloud and lessen him, which is impossible to justify. He is the man that fears what he should wish, namely, that others might do well. But that is not all; he maliciously denies their acts of virtue, which his corruptions will not let him imitate, that they may get no credit by them. If he lacks any excuse for harming others, he can make up one: either they use him wrongly, or they have some design upon him; such as, the other day they failed to remove their the cap and or bend the knee in curtsey; the distance and respect he thinks his quality, parts, or merits do require. A small thing is excuse for a proud man to pick a quarrel; of all creatures he is the most jealous, sullen, spiteful, and revengeful; he can no more forgive an injury, than restrain himself for creating an injury.

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 honor and preferment to betray any friendship, he is incommunicable; he must not be taught and counseled, 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 sacrifice his evil freedoms that a real friendship requires. He truly despises the character of friendship.It is much too familiar and humble for him. His mighty soul would know nothing besides himself and vassals to stock his 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, their number and force prevent his desire.

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, with power it grows to become tyranny in him. It would reign alone; rather die than have competitors: Aut Caesar aut nullus. (Caesar can do no wrong.) Reason must not check it, nor rules of law permit 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 he does thought to be wrong; at least, they count it dangerous to allow such a thought. For that would imply they had erred, which always must be denied. They will rather choose to perish stubbornly than, by acknowledging, defer judging to inferiors, it were prudent to do so. 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 someone exceptionally deceptive, and are almost always 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 be religious, and those who are ministers; for ministers 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 place does pride have in a religion that rebukes it? Or ambition with ministers, whose very office is supposed to be humility? And yet there are 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. Yes, 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 artful name to raise themselves to the great status in the world. But Oh then! how can they be Christ's ministers who said, "My kingdom is not of this world"? (John 18:36). Who, of mankind, is more self-conceited than these ministers? If contradicted, they become as arrogant and angry, as if it were their right to be so. Counsel one of them, and he scorns you; reprove him, and he is almost ready to excommunicate you; "I am a minister and an elder;" fleeing there to defend himself from the reach of just censure, which indeed by fleeing he only exposes himself the more; and therefore his fault cannot be the less, by how much it is worse in a minister to do wrong, 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 criticism. He is not subject to vulgar judgments. Even questions about religion are divisive. Believe as he says; it is not for you to pry so curiously into the mysteries of religion. It has never been a good day since laymen meddled so much with the minister's office. Not considering, poor man, that the contrary is most true; there have not been many good days since ministers meddled so much in laymen's business. Though perhaps there is little reason for this distinction, except 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 unloyalty to the church in their opinion. For by this time their pride has made them the church, and the people only the porch [outside the temple, 2nd class] at best; a name that signifies nothing, unless they place themselves at the head of it. Thus they forget that if they were as good as they should be, they would 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 to. Remember the words of Christ, "Let him that would be greatest be your servant" (Mat 20:26).

9. There is but one place to be found in the holy Scripture, where the word Clerus [as in cleric] can properly be applied to the church, and they have usurped it to themselves; from where 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, likewise, foresaw pride and avarice to be the ministers' temptations; and indeed they have often proved to be their fall; and truly, they could hardly fall by a worse method. Nor is there any excuse to be made for them in these two respects, [lording it over the flock and fleecing the flock] which is not worse than their sin. For if they think they have not been lords over God's heritage, it is because they have made themselves the people, and disinherited the people; so that now they may be the people's lords, with a blast to good old Peter's exhortation.

And for the other sin of greed, they can only avoid it by claiming that since they never truly feed the flock, they cannot be said to feed it for lucre [money]: 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 what was not bread, and their labor for what did not profit them (Isa 55:2). And why? Because then the priest had no vision; and too many now despise true vision and prophecy.

10. But, alas! when all is done, what folly, as well as lack of religion, 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 maladies; sickness, disfigurements, painful deformities, 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 age cannot secure him from death, nor can his social prestige keep him from judgment. Titles of honor 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 sad ending? 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 you would be a child of God, and a believer in Christ, you must be a child of Light. O man, you must bring your deeds to it and examine them by that holy lamp in your soul, which is the candle of the Lord, that shows you your pride and arrogance, and reproves your delight in the vain fashions of this world. Religion is a denial of self; yes, 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 (Mat 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 will. 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 would have seen the snare of the enemy, and resisted him. Oh! do not delight in what is forbidden. Look not upon it, if you would not be captivated by it. Bring not the guilt of sins of knowledge upon your 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? You also must submit your will to Christ's holy law and light in your heart, and for the reward He sets before you, namely, 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 do not like to drink of it. And several will testify of his miracles, that are offended at the shame of his cross. But, O man, as He, for your salvation, so you, for the love of Him, must humble yourself (Phil 2:7), and be contented to be of no reputation, that you may follow Him, not in a carnal, formal way, of vain man's tradition and prescription, but as the Holy Ghost, by the apostle, does 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; where He Himself has entered, who is the holy and only blessed Redeemer.

<Continued to Chapter 13 >>

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