1. Let us see the next most common, eminent, and mischievous effect of this evil. Pride extremely craves power, which has proven more troublesome and destructive to mankind than anything. This is not difficult to prove, since most of the wars of nations, depopulation of kingdoms, ruin of cities, with the slavery and misery that have followed, both our own experience and history show to have been the effect of ambition, which is the lust of pride after power.
2. However plausible might be the pretences of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, against Moses, it was their emulation of his mighty power in the camp of Israel that put them upon conspiracies and mutinies. They longed for his authority, and their not having it was his crime; for they wanted to be the heads and leaders of the people. Num 16:1-2,8-10. The consequence of which was a remarkable destruction to themselves and all their unhappy accomplices. Num 16:24-35.
3. Absalom, too, was for the people's rights against the tyranny of his father and his king (2 Sam 15); at least with this pretence he disguised his ambition; but his rebellion showed he was impatient for power, and that he had resolved to sacrifice his duty as a son and subject to the insistence of his restless pride; which brought a miserable death to himself and an extraordinary slaughter of his army.
4. Nebuchadnezzar is a prominent instance of the excessive lust of pride for power. His successes and empire were too intoxicating for him; so much too strong for his understanding that he forgot he did not make himself, or that there was a superior to his power. He made an image, and all had to bow to it, or be burnt. And when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to comply, he said "who is the God that shall deliver you out of my hands?" (Dan 3:15). And despite the convictions from God he had previously received, at the certainty of those excellent men, and Daniel's interpretation of his dreams, it was not long before the pride of his power had filled his heart, and then his mouth, with this haughty question, "Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom, by the might of my power, and for the honor of my majesty?". But we are told that, while the words were in his mouth, a voice from heaven rebuked the pride of his spirit, and he was driven from the society of men to graze among the beasts of the field. Dan 4:30-33.
5. If we look into the histories of the world, we shall find many instances to prove the mischief of this lust of pride, [the desire for power]. I will mention a few of them for their sakes who have either not read or considered them.
Solon made Athens free by his excellent constitution of laws; but the ambition of Pisistratus began the ruin of it before his eyes. Alexander, not contented with his own kingdom, invaded others, and spoiled and slaughtered in those countries he subdued; and the man was right, who, when Alexander accused him of piracy, told him to his face that Alexander was the greatest pirate in the world. It was the same ambition that made Caesar* turn traitor to his superiors, and with their own army, (entrusted to him for their service), subdue them to his yoke, and usurp the government. Thus Caesar destroyed freedom and virtue together in that commonwealth; for goodness quickly grew to be isolated in Rome. Sobriety and wisdom, which had always been to Rome's senators esteem, instead became dangerous to their safety; so much so that Caesar's successors hardly left one they did not kill or banish, unless they turned to be flatterers of their unjust acquisition, and the imitators of their debauched manners.
6. The Turks are a great illustration of pride's effect. To extend their dominion, they have caused much shedding of blood, and laid many stately countries waste.
And yet they are are outdone by apostate Christians; whose practice is therefore more to be condemned, because they have been better taught. They have had a master of another doctrine and example. It is true, they still call Him Lord,* but they let their ambition reign. They love power more than one another; and to get it, kill one another. And they kill even though Christ commanded them not to strike, but to love and serve one another. This tragedy gets worse because all natural affection is sacrificed to the fury of this lust with examples of their murder of parents, children, uncles, nephews, masters, etc.
7. If we look abroad into remoter parts of the world, we shall rarely hear of wars; but in Christendom we rarely hear of peace. In Christendom, small matters are too often the basis of a quarrel between nations. In Christendom any pact or treaty can be broken and dissolved to increase territory. The ambitious must have their desire, no matter who, nor how many are slain, made widows and orphans, or lose their estates and livelihoods; what countries are ruined; what towns and cities spoiled. Just in the last sixty years, we have had many wars begun on a poor excuse, and ended in great desolation. No, the last twelve years of our time are the worst example of Christendom's ambition destruction of any age. It is too tedious, nor is it my business, to be particular: it has been often well observed by others, and is almost known to all. I mean the French, Spanish, German, English, and Dutch wars.
8. But ambition does not only dwell in courts and senates. It is too natural for every individual to strain for power. We daily see how much men labor their utmost wit and interest to be great, to get higher places, or greater titles than they have, that they may look bigger and be more acknowledged; take place of their former equals, and so equal those who were once their superiors: compel friends, and be revenged on enemies. This makes Christianity of worldly men so little loved. True Christianity's kingdom is not of this world. Though the worldly Christian talks about the Kingdom, it is the world they love. We may truly say, people profess Christianity, but they follow the world. They are not for seeking the kingdom of heaven first, and the righteousness thereof, Mat 6:33, and to trust God with the rest; but instead seek to secure wealth and the glory of this world, while being concerned about salvation only when sick or in a crisis of life, if still they believe in a life after death.
9. To conclude this topic: Great is their peace, who know a limit to their ambitious minds; who have learned to be contented with the appointments and bounds of Providence; who are not striving to be great; but being humble do good and so are great. Such keep their wits with their consciences, and with an even mind can at all times measure the uneven world, rest fixed in the midst of all its uncertainties. Such have an interest in a better world, to come in the good timing and will of God, when they cheerfully leave this world. But the ambitious, conscious of their evil practices, and weighed down to their graves with guilt, must go to a tribunal that they can neither awe nor bribe.
1. THE third evil effect of pride is an excessive desire for personal honor and respect. Pride therefore loves power, that she might be reverenced, and that every one may give her honor, and those who fail to do so, expose themselves to her anger and revenge. And as pride, so this evil effect is more or less diffused through corrupt mankind; and has been the occasion of great animosity and mischief in the world.
2. We have a classic example in the scripture of what malice and revenge a proud man is capable of, when not gratified in this particular. It had almost cost Mordecai his neck, and the whole people of the Jews their lives, because he would not bow himself to Haman, who was a great favorite to king Ahasuerus. And the practice of the world, even in our own age, will tell us, that not striking a flag or sail, and not saluting certain ports or garrisons, yes, even less important things have given rise to great wars between states and kingdoms, to the expense of much treasure, but more blood. The like has followed about the precedence of princes and their ambassadors. Also the envy, quarrels, and mischiefs that have happened among private persons, upon conceit that they have not been respected to their degree or quality among men, without hat, knee, or title: to be sure, duels and murders not a few. I was once myself in France, ( which was before I professed the communion I am now of), set upon about eleven at night, as I was walking to my lodging, by a person, that waylaid me, with his naked sword in his hand, who demanded satisfaction of me for taking no notice of him, at a time when he civilly saluted me with his hat; though the truth was, I had not seen him at the time. I will suppose he would have killed me, for he made several passes at me. I, in my defense, could have killed him, when I disarmed him, as the nearby Earl of Crawford's servant saw. I ask any man of understanding or conscience, if the whole affair was worth the life of a man; considering the dignity of man's nature, and the importance of a man's life; and considering them with respect to God his Creator, himself, and the benefit of civil society.
3. But the truth is, the world, under its degeneracy from God, has departed from true honor and respect, as in other things. Much of the honors and respects that are expressed in the world are merely for show, and are typically vain. As the apostle Paul speaks of false science, are honors and respects false, having nothing of the nature of true honor and respect in them. Instead, have been devised by degenerate men, loving to be honored; so pride only loves and seeks them, and is affronted and angry if denied to them. If men knew the true Christian state, and the honor that comes from above, which Jesus teaches, they would not covet these very vanities, much less insist upon them.
4. Here is my opportunity to define the reasons more particularly, why I, and the people with whom I walk in religious society, have declined, as vain and foolish, several worldly customs and fashions of respect, much in request at this time of day. I implore you, reader, to lay aside all prejudice and scorn, and with the meekness and inquiry of a sober and discreet mind, read and weigh what may be here alleged in our defense; and if we are mistaken, rather pity and inform, than despise and abuse our simplicity.
5. The first and most pressing motive upon our spirits is to decline the practice of these present customs of pulling off the hat, bowing the body or knee, and giving people gaudy titles and epithets in our salutations and addresses. This quality, given to us by a sight and sense of God by his light and Spirit within us, was the cause of the Christian world's apostasy from God and the effects of that great and lamentable defection. In the discovery the cause of this defection, the sense of our state came first before us, and we were made to see Him whom we pierced, and to mourn for it. A day of humiliation overtook us, and we lost the pleasures and delights we once loved. At first our works were judged, and a thorough search was made, and the words of the prophet became well understood by us: "Who can abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appears? He is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap" (Mal. 3:2). And as the apostle said, "If the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?" (1 Peter 4:18). "Therefore," says the Apostle Paul, "Knowing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men" (2 Cor 5:11): what to do? To come out of the nature, spirit, lusts, and customs of this wicked world: remembering that, as Jesus has said, "For every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment" (Mat 12:36).
This concern of mind and dejection of spirit was visible to our neighbors; and we are not ashamed to own that the terrors of the Lord took such hold upon us, because we had long, under a profession of religion, grieved God's Holy Spirit, that reproved us in secret for our disobedience; that as we abhorred to think of continuing in our old sins, so we feared to use lawful things, for fear we should use them unlawfully. Our heaven seemed to melt away, and our earth to be removed out of its place; and we were like men, as the apostle said, upon whom the ends of the world had come. God knows it was so in this day; the brightness of his coming to our souls discovered, and the breath of his mouth destroyed, every plant* He had not planted in us. He was a swift witness against every evil thought and every unfruitful work; and, blessed be his name, we were not offended in Him, or at his righteous judgments. Now it was that a grand inquest came upon our whole life: every word, thought, and deed was brought to judgment, the root examined, and its tendency considered. "The lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life" (1 John 2:16), were opened to our view; the mystery of iniquity in us. By knowing the evil leaven, and its several evil effects in ourselves, how it had wrought, and what it had done, we came to have a sense and knowledge of the states of others; and what we could not, no, we dare not let live and continue in ourselves, as being manifested to us to proceed from an evil principle in the time of man's degeneracy, we could not comply with in others. Now this I say, and that in the fear and presence of the all-seeing, just God, the present honors and respect of the world, among other things, became burdensome to us. We saw they had no being in paradise, that they grew in the nighttime, and came from an ill root; and that they only delighted a vain and ill mind, and that much pride and folly were in them.
6. And though we easily anticipated the storms of reproach that would fall upon us for our refusing to practice these honors of men, yet we were so far from being shaken in our judgment, that the anticipated reproaches greatly confirmed our belief in their necessity. Man is so exalted and so loves honor and respect, even from his fellow-creatures, that as soon as our tenderness of conscience towards God resulted in our ceasing these honors, he [other men] ignored everything else we said that related salvation, while focusing solely on our not honoring him with vain superficialities. Whatever principles we stated related to the honor of God and our own salvation, he [other men] considered it far more important, and a greater heresy and blasphemy to refuse him the honor of removing our hat; or denying him flattering titles; or denying a pledge to his healths, [in drinking alcohol, a toast to one's health], or refusing to play cards and dice with him. Whatever else our religion practiced, was not important to him, for all other practices of our religion were eclipsed by our refusal to honor him with vain superficialities.
[But if you have respect to persons you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. James 2:9
7. It is frequently argued that our denial is only precise outward forms of godliness, but that accusation is only a rallying falsehood for our opposers. I do declare, in the fear of Almighty God, that these arguments imagined and vain constructions are of uninformed men. These opposers do not have the understanding, which the Lord has given us, of what arises from the right and the wrong roots in man. When such censurers of our simplicity shall be inwardly touched and awakened by the mighty power of God, so that they see things as in light of their proper natures and seeds; then they will then know their own similar obligations. They could then easily see our innocence, and wrongness of their previous charges of our folly and hypocrisy in our refusal to honor men.
8. They say that we strain at small things, which is incompatible with our pretensions of liberty and freedom of spirit. I answer with meekness, truth, and sobriety; first, nothing is small that God makes matter of conscience to do, or leave undone. Next, however small our objectors say these strained things are, our objectors consider our withholding of them important enough to be beat us , imprison us , refuse justice us, etc.; ignoring the derision and reproach that has been frequently flung at us on this account. So that if we had wanted a proof of the truth of our inward belief and judgment, our opposers' violent reactions was sufficient confirmation. Suffice to say, that "wisdom is justified of her children" (Mat 11:19); we only passively cease the practice of what we are taught to believe is vain and unchristian. A passive cessation cannot be attributed as a form of godliness; for in removing practices, we do not set up new forms.
9. The world is so set upon outward ceremonies, that is has been the wisdom of God in all ages to bring forth his dispensations with very different appearances to their settled customs. Thus God's dispensation has contradicted human inventions, and so proved the integrity of his confessors. No, the refusal of honor is a test upon the world. It tries what patience, kindness, sobriety, and moderation they have. If the rough and rude outside of truth do not stumble from this removal of honor, whose beauty is within, a great discovery occurs within them. For he who refuses a precious jewel, because it is presented in a plain box, will never esteem it to its value, nor set his heart upon keeping it. Therefore I call it a test, because it shows where the hearts and affections of the people are stuck, after all their great pretence to more excellent things.
10. It is also a mighty trial upon God's people. When the world discovers of their contradiction to the customs generally received and esteemed in the world, they [God's people] are exposed to the wonder, scorn, and abuse of the multitude. But there is a hidden treasure in this: it insulates us to derision, it teaches us to despise the false reputation of the world, and to silently undergo the contradiction and scorn of the world's devotees; and finally, with a Christian meekness and patience to overcome their injuries and contempt. Add to this; it weans you of your acquaintances; for being slighted of them as a idiot, a fool, a fanatic, etc., you are delivered from a greater temptation; and that is the power and influence of their vain conversation. Last of all, it lists you of the company of the blessed, mocked, persecuted Jesus; to fight under his banner against the world, the flesh, and the devil; that after having faithfully suffered with Him in a state of humiliation, you may reign with Him in a state of glorification; who glorifies his poor, despised, certain followers with the glory He had with the Father before the world began (John 17:5). This is the first and principal reason of our declining to practice the before-mentioned honors, respect, etc.
11. The second reason why we decline and refuse the present use of these customs in our addresses and salutations, is from the consideration of their very emptiness and vanity; that there is nothing of true honor and respect in them, even if they were not evil. Just as religion and worship have degenerated into form and ceremony, and they [Christianity's forms and cermonies] are not according to early Christian's practice, neither is honor and respect also [not according to early Christian's practice]. There is as little true honor in the world as well as true religion and worship; and to be sure, in these customs, none are justifiable by Scripture or reason.
12. In Scripture we find the word honor often and frequently used. First for obedience: as when God said, "those who honor me" (1 Sam 2:30); that is, that keep my commandments. "Honor the king" (1 Peter 2:17); that is, obey the king. "Honor your father and mother" (Exo 20:12); that is, said the apostle to the Ephesians, "Obey your father and your mother in the Lord, for that is right" (Eph 6:1-2); take heed to their precepts and advice: pre-supposing always, that rulers and parents command lawful things, else they dishonor themselves to enjoin unlawful things; and subjects and children dishonor their superiors and parents, in complying with their unrighteous commands. Also Christ uses this word so, when He says, "I have not a devil, but I honor my Father, and you do dishonor me" (John 8:49); that is, I do my Father's will in what I do, but you will not hear me; you reject my counsel, and will not obey my voice. It was not refusing hat and knee, nor empty trifles; no, it was disobedience, resisting Him that God had sent, and not believing in Him. This was the dishonor He taxed them with; accusing Him as an impostor, whom God had ordained for the salvation of the world. And of these dishonorers there are but too many at this day. Christ has a saying to the same effect: "That all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father; and he that honors not the Son, honors not the Father, which has sent him" (John 5:23); that is, those who listen not to Christ, and do not worship and obey Him, they do not hear, worship, nor obey God. As they pretended to believe in God, so they were to have believed in Him; He told them so. This is clearly shown in the case of the centurion, whose faith was so much commended by Christ; where, giving Jesus an account of his honorable station, he tells Him he had soldiers under his authority, and when he said to one, Go, he went; to another, Come, he came; and to a third, Do this, he did it (Luke 7:8). In resulting actions, He placed the honor of his capacity, and the respect of his soldiers, and not in hats and bowing; nor are such customs yet in use among soldiers, being effeminate, and unworthy of masculine gravity.
13. In the next place, honor is [supposed to be] used with superior placement of trust and eminent employments. So the Psalmist, speaking to God: "For you have crowned him with glory and honor": again, "Honor and majesty have you laid on him" Psalm 8:5,21:5; that is, God has given Christ power over all his enemies, and exalted Him to great dominion. Thus the wise man intimates, when he says, "The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom, and before honor is humility" (Pro 15:33). That is, before advancement or preference is humility. Further, he says, "As snow in summer, and as rain in harvest, so honor is not appropriate for a fool" (Pro 26:1); that is, a fool is not capable of the dignity of trust, employment, or preference; which require virtue, wisdom, integrity, diligence, with which fools are unfurnished. And yet if the respects and titles in use among us [the people of England in the 17th Century] are to go for marks of honor, Solomon's proverb will take place, and doubtless does, upon the practice of this age, that yields so much of that honor to a great many of Solomon's fools; who are not only silly men, but wicked too; such as refuse instruction, and hate the fear of the Lord (Pro 13:18); which [instruction and fear] only makes one of his wise men.
14. As virtue and wisdom are the same, so folly are and wickedness. Thus Shechem's lying with Dinah, Jacob's daughter, is called (Gen 34:7); so is the rebellion and wickedness of the Israelites in Joshua (Joshua 7:15). The Psalmist expresses thus: "My wounds stink, because of my foolishness" (Psalm 38:5); that is, his sin. And, "The Lord will speak peace to his saints, but let them not turn again to folly" (Psalm 85:8); that is, to evil. "His own iniquities," says Solomon, "shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be held with the cords of his sins: he shall die without instruction, and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray" (Pro 5:22-23). Christ puts foolishness with blasphemy, pride, theft, murders, adulteries, wickedness, etc. (Mark 7:21-22). I was the more willing to add to these passages, to show the differences between the mind of the Holy Ghost, and the notion that those ages had of fools, that did not deserve honor, and what is generally meant by fools and folly in our time; that we may better understand the disproportion there is between honor, as then understood by the Holy Ghost, and those who were led by it; and the apprehension of it, and the practice of those latter ages of professed Christians.
15. But honor is also taken for reputation, and is so understood with us: "A gracious woman," says Solomon, "retains honor" (Pro 11:16); that is, she keeps her credit; and by her virtue maintains her reputation of sobriety and chastity. In another place, "It is an honor for a man to cease from strife" (Pro 20:3); that is, it makes for his reputation, as a wise and good man. Christ uses the word thus, where He says, "A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country" (Mat 13:57); that is, he has credit, and is valued, except at home. The apostle to the Thessalonians has a saying to this effect: "That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel [control his body] in sanctification and honor" (1 Thes 4:4); that is, in chastity and sobriety. In all which nothing of the fashions by us declined is otherwise concerned than to be totally excluded.*
16. There is yet another use of the word honor in Scripture, and that is to functions and capacities: as, "An elder is worthy of double honor" (1 Tim 5:17); that is, he deserves double esteem, love, and respect; being holy, merciful, temperate, peaceable, humble, etc., especially one that labors in word and doctrine. So Paul recommends Epaphroditus to the Philippians; "Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness, and hold such in honor" (Phil 2:29); as if he had said, Let them be valued and regarded by you in what they say and teach; which is the truest, and most natural and convincing way of testifying respect to a man of God. As Christ said to his disciples, "If you love me you will keep my sayings." Further, the apostle tells us to honor widows indeed: that is, such women who are of chaste lives and exemplary virtue are honorable.
17. The word honor, in the Scripture, is also used from superiors to inferiors. Which is plain in the instance of Ahasuerus to Haman: "What shall be done to the man whom the king delights to honor?" (Esther 6:6). Why, he mightily advanced him, as was Mordecai afterwards. And more particularly it is said, that "the Jews had light, and gladness, and joy, and honor" (Esther 8:16); that is, they escaped the persecution that was about to fall upon them, and by the means of Esther and Mordecai, they enjoyed not only peace, but favor and countenance too. In this sense the Apostle Peter advised Christian men "to honor their wives" (1 Peter 3:7); that is, to love, value, cherish, countenance, and esteem them, for their fidelity and affection to their husbands, for their tenderness and care over their children, and for their diligence and circumspection in their families. There is no ceremonious behavior, or gaudy titles requisite to express this honor. Thus God honors holy men: "those who honor me," says the Lord, "I will honor; and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed" (1 Sam. 2:30); that is, I will do good to them, I will love, bless, countenance, and prosper those who honor Me, that obey Me; but those who despise Me, that resist my Spirit, and break my law, they shall be lightly esteemed, little set by or accounted of; they shall not find favor with God, nor righteous men. So we see it daily among men: if the great visit or concern themselves to aid the poor; we say, that such a great man did me the honor to come and see, or help me, in my need.
18. I shall conclude this with one passage more, and that is a very large, plain, and pertinent one: "Honor all men, and love the brotherhood" (1 Peter 2:17): that is, love is above honor, and that is reserved for the brotherhood. But honor, which is esteem and regard, that you owe to all men; and if all, then your inferiors. But why for all men? Because they are the creation of God, and the most noble part of his creation too; they are also your own kind; be natural, and assist them with what you can; be ready to perform any real respect, and yield them any good or kindness you can.
19. And yet there seems a limitation to the command, Honor all men, in that passage of godly David, "Who shall abide in your tabernacle? Who shall dwell in your holy hill? He in whose eyes a vile person is despised; instead he honors those who fear the Lord" (Psalm 15:1-4). Here honor is confined and affixed to godly persons; and dishonor is made the duty of the righteous to the wicked; and a mark of their being righteous, that they dishonor, that is, slight or disregard the ungodly. To conclude this Scripture inquiry after honor, I shall contract the subject of it under three capacities: superiors, equals, and inferiors; honor, to superiors, is obedience; to equals, love; to inferiors, countenance and help. These are examples of honor according to God's mind, and the holy people's fashion of old.
20. But how little of all this is to be seen or had in a poor empty hat, bow, cringe, or gaudy, flattering title, let the truth-speaking witness of God in all mankind judge. For I must not appeal to corrupt, proud, and self-seeking man, of the good or evil of those customs. As seldom would such a man practice these honors to others, they are loved and sought by him, and he is out of humor and angry if he does not receive them.
This is our second reason why we refuse to practice the accustomed ceremonies of honor and respect; because we find no such notion or expression of honor and respect, recommended to us by the Holy Ghost in the Scriptures of truth.
21. Our third reason for not using them as testimonies of honor and respect is, because there is no discovery of honor or respect to be made by them; it is rather eluding and equivocating it, cheating people of the honor and respect that is due to them, and giving them nothing in the pretence of something. Within them [ceremonies of honor and respect] is no obedience to superiors, no love to equals, no help or countenance to inferiors.
22. We are, we declare to the whole world, for true honor and respect; we honor the king, our parents, our masters, our magistrates, our landlords, one another; yes, all men, after God's way, a practiced by holy men and women of old time. But we refuse these customs [of removing the hat, bowing, flattering titles], as vain and deceitful; not answering the end they are used for.
23. But, fourthly, there is yet more to be said: we find that vain, loose, and worldly people are the great lovers and practicers of them, and those who most deride our simplicity of behavior. Now we assuredly know, from the sacred testimonies, that those people cannot give true honor that live in a dishonorable spirit; they understand it not; but they can give the hat and knee, and that they are very liberal of, nor are any more expert at it. This is to us a proof that no true honor can be testified by those customs which vanity and looseness love and use.
24. Next to them I will add hypocrisy, and revenge too. For how little do many care for each other! No, what spite, envy, animosity, secret backbiting, and plotting one against another, under the use of these idle respects; until passion, too strong for cunning, breaks through hypocrisy into open affront and revenge! It is incompatible with the Scripture's definitions of honor. To obey, or prefer a man, out of spite, is not usually done; and to love, help, serve, and show kindness to a person, in order to deceive and be revenged of him, is a thing never mentioned in scripture. Scripture never advocates hypocrisy nor revenge. Men do not give superficial respects to diminish ill-will; the testimonies are quite the contrary. It is absurd to imagine it, because impossible to be done.
25. Our sixth reason is, that honor was from the beginning, but hat-respects and most titles came later. Therefore there was true honor before hats or titles; and consequently true honor stands not in them. And whatever was the way to express true honor is the best way still; and this the Scripture teaches better than dancing-masters can do.
26. Seventhly, if honor consists in such-like ceremonies, then will it follow that they are most capable of showing honor who perform it most exactly, according to the mode or fashion of the times; consequently, that man has not the measure of true honor, from a just and reasonable principle in himself, but by the means and skill of the fantastic dancing-masters of the times; and for this cause it is we see that many give much money to have their children learn their honors, falsely so called. And what does this but totally exclude the poor country people; who, though they plough, till, sow, reap, go to market, and in all things obey their justices, landlords, fathers, and masters, with sincerity and sobriety, rarely use those ceremonies; but if they do, it is so awkwardly and poorly done that they are esteemed by a court critic so ill favored as only fit to make a jest of and be laughed at; but what sober man will not deem their obedience beyond the other's vanity and hypocrisy? This base notion of honor turns out of doors the true, and sets the false in its place. Let it be further considered, that the way or fashion of doing it is much more in the design of its performers, as well as view of its spectators, than the respect itself. Where it is commonly said, He is a man of good mien [character]; or, She is a woman of exact behavior. And what is this behavior but fantastic, cramped postures and cringing, unnatural to their shape; and, if it were not fashionable, ridiculous to the view of all people; and is therefore to the Eastern countries a proverb.
27. But yet, eighthly, real honor consists not in [removing] a hat, bow, or title, because all these things may be had for money, for which reason, how many dancing-schools, plays, etc., are there in the land, to which youth is generally sent to be educated in these vain fashions! While they are ignorant of the honor that is of God, and their minds are allured to visible things that perish; and, instead of remembering their Creator, are taken up with toys and fopperies; and sometimes so much worse, as to cost themselves a disinheriting, and their indiscreet parents grief and misery all their days (Pro 3:9). If parents would honor God in the help of his poor with the substance they bestow on such an education, they would find a far better account in the end.
28. But lastly, we cannot esteem bows, titles, and pulling off of hats, to be real honor, because such-like customs have been prohibited by God, his Son, and servants in days past. This I shall endeavor to show by three or four express authorities.
29. My first example and authority is taken from the story of Mordecai and Haman; so close to this point, that I think it should at least command silence to the objections frequently advanced against us. Haman was first minister of state, and favorite to king Ahasuerus. The text says that the king set his seat above all the princes that were with him; and all the king's servants bowed and reverenced Haman; for the king had so commanded concerning him; but Mordecai, it seems, bowed not, nor did him reverence (Esther3:1,2). This at first made ill for Mordecai; a gallows was prepared for him at Haman's command. But the sequel of the story shows that Haman proved [was hung on] his own invention, and ended his pride with his life upon it. Well now, speaking as the world speaks, and looking upon Mordecai without the knowledge of the success; was not Mordecai a very clown, at least, a silly, morose, and humorous man, to run such a hazard for a trifle [as bowing to Haman]?
What hurt had it done him to have bowed to and honored one the king honored? Did he not despise the king, in disregarding Haman? No, had not the king commanded that respect; and are not we to honor and obey the king? One would have thought he might have bowed for the king's sake, whatever he had in his heart, and yet have come off well enough; for that he bowed not merely to Haman, but to the king's authority; besides, it was only an innocent ceremony. But it seems Mordecai was too plain and stout, and not fine and subtle enough to avoid the displeasure of Haman.
Nevertheless, he was an excellent man; he feared God, and wrought righteousness. In this very thing also he pleased God, and even the king too, at last, who had most cause to be angry with him for he advanced him to Haman's dignity; and if it could be, to greater honor. It is true, sad news first came; no less than destruction to Mordecai, and the whole people of the Jews besides, for his sake; but Mordecai's integrity and humiliation, his fasting, and strong cries to God prevailed, and the people were saved; and poor, condemned Mordecai comes, after all, to be exalted above the princes, whether in this or any other respect. Those who endure faithful in what they are convinced God requires of them, though against the grain and humor of the world, and themselves too, they shall find a blessed recompense in the end. My brethren, remember the cup of cold water: "We shall reap if we faint not." And call to mind, that our Captain bowed not to him that told Him, "If you will fall down and worship me, I will give you all the glory of the world:" shall we bow then? Oh no! Let us follow our blessed Leader.
30. But, before I leave this section it is fit I add, that in conference with a late bishop, and none of the least eminent, upon this subject and instance, I remember he sought to evade it thus: "Mordecai," says he, "did not refuse to bow, as it was a testimony of respect to the king's favorite; but he, being a figure and type of Christ, refused, because Haman was of the uncircumcision, and ought to bow to him rather." To which I replied that, allowing Mordecai to be a figure of Christ, and the Jews of God's people or church; and that as the Jews were saved by Mordecai, so the church is saved by Christ; this makes for me; for then, by that reason, the spiritual circumcision, or people of Christ, are not to receive and bow to the fashions and customs of the spiritual uncircumcision, who are the children of the world; of which such as were condemnable so long ago in the time of the type and figure, can by no means be justifiably received or practiced in the time of the anti-type or substance itself. On the contrary, this shows expressly we are faithfully to decline such worldly customs, and not to fashion ourselves according to the conduct of earthly-minded people; but be renewed and changed in our ways, and keep close to our Mordecai; who having not bowed, we must not bow, that are his people and followers. Whatever is our sufferings or reproaches, they will have an end; Mordecai, our captain, who appears for his people throughout all the provinces, in the king's gate, will deliver us at last; and, for his sake, we shall be favored and loved of the king himself too. So powerful is faithful Mordecai at last. Therefore let us all look to Jesus, our Mordecai, the Israel indeed; He that has power with God, and would not bow in the hour of temptation, but has mightily prevailed; and therefore is a Prince for ever, and "of his government there shall be no end" (Isa 9:7).
31. The next Scripture instance I urge against these customs is a passage in Job, thus expressed: "Let me not, I pray you, show partiality to any man; neither let me give flattering titles to man, for I know not to give flattering titles; in so doing, my Maker would soon take me away" (Job 32:21-22).
The question that will arise upon the allegation of this Scripture is this, namely: what titles are flattering? The answer is as obvious, namely: titles that are empty and fictitious and make him more than he is; as to call a man what he is not, to please him; or to exalt him beyond his true name, office, or desert, to gain upon his affection; who, it may be, lusts to honor and respect such as these: most excellent, most sacred, your grace, your lordship, most dread majesty, right honorable, right worshipful, most worshipful, may it please your majesty, your grace, your lordship, your honor, [reverend], your worship, and the like unnecessary titles and attributes, calculated only to please and tickle poor, proud, vain, yet mortal man. Likewise to call man what he is not, as my lord, my master, etc., and wise, just, or good, when he is neither, only to please him, or show him respect.
This was done among the Jews, under their degeneracy: Therefore one came to Christ, and said, "Good master, what shall I do to have eternal life?" (Luke 18:18). It was a salutation or address of respect in those times. It is familiar now: good my lord, good sir, good master, do this, or do that. But what was Christ's answer? how did He take it? "Why do you call me good?" says Christ; "there is none good, save one, that is God" (verse 19). He who rejected it had more right to keep it than all mankind: and why? Because there was one greater than He? And He saw that the man addressed it to his manhood, as the custom of the times, and not to his divinity, which dwelled within the man. Therefore Christ refused it, showing and instructing us that we should not give such epithets and titles commonly to men; for since good is alone due to God and godliness, it can only be said in flattery to fallen man, and therefore sinful to be so said.
This plain and exact life well suited Christ, that was on purpose manifested to return and restore man from his lamentable degeneracy, to the innocence and purity of his first creation; who has taught us to be careful how we use and give attributes to man by that most severe saying, "That every idle word that man shall speak, he shall give an account thereof in the day of judgment" (Mat 12:36). And what should warn all men of the latitude they take here, and sufficiently justifies our tenderness is this: that man can scarcely commit greater injury and offence against Almighty God than to ascribe any of his attributes to man, the creature of his word, and the work of his hands. He is a jealous God of his honor, and will not give his glory to another. Besides, it is so near the sin of the aspiring fallen angels that affected to be greater and better than they were made by the great Lord of all. To entitle man to a station above his make and orb, looks so like idolatry, (the unpardonable sin under the law), that it is hard to think how men and women professing Christianity, and seriously reflecting upon their vanity and evil in these things, can continue in them, much less plead for them; and least of all reproach and deride those who through tenderness of conscience cannot use and give them. It seems that Elihu did not dare to do it; but put such weight upon the matter as to give this for one reason for his forbearance, namely: "For fear my Maker would soon take me away": that is, for fear God should strike me dead, I dare not give man titles that are above him, or titles merely to please him. I may not, by any means, gratify that spirit which lusts after such things. God is to be exalted, and man abased. God is jealous of man's being set higher than his station. He will have him keep his place, know his original, and remember the rock from where he came; that what he has is borrowed, is not his own but his Maker's, who brought him forth and sustained him; which man is very apt to forget. For fear I should be accessory to it by flattering titles, instead of telling him truly and plainly what he is, and using them as he ought to be treated, and thereby provoke my Maker to displeasure, and He in his anger and jealousy should take me soon away, or bring sudden death and an untimely end upon me, I dare not use; I dare not give flattering titles to men.
32. But if we had not this to allege from the Old Testament writings, it should and ought to suffice with Christians, that these customs are severely censured by the great Lord and Master of their religion; who is so far from requiring people to give honor one to another, that He will not indulge them in it, whatever are the customs of the country they live in. For He charges it upon the Jews as a mark of their apostasy: "How can you believe that receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor that comes from God only?" Thus their infidelity concerning Christ is made the effect of seeking worldly honor instead of only heavenly honor. This easily understood, if we consider that self-love and desire of honor from men is inconsistent with the love and humility of Christ. They sought the good opinion and respect of the world; how then was it possible they should leave all and follow Him, whose kingdom is not of this world; and who came in manner unexpected, which violated the mind and unrestraint of it? The meaning of our Lord Jesus is plain for He tells us what that honor was they gave and received, which He condemned them for, and of which He told the disciples to beware of the world's reaction to his humility and cross. His words are these, and He speaks them not of the rabble but of the doctors, the great men, the men of honor among the Jews: "They love," says He, "the uppermost rooms at feasts" (Mat 23:6), that is, places of greatest rank and respect; and "greetings" (Mark 12:38-39), that is, salutations of respect, such as pulling off the hat, and bowing the body are in our age, in the market-places, namely in the places of note and concourse, the public walks and exchanges of the country. And lastly, "they love," says Christ, "to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi:" one of the most eminent titles among the Jews. A word comprehending an excellence equal to many titles, it may stand for your grace, your lordship, right reverend father, etc. It is upon these men of breeding and quality that He pronounces his woes, making these practices some of the evil marks by which to know them, as well as some of the motives of his threats against them. But He is not yet finished in his teachings regarding honor. He pursues this very point of honor above all the rest in his caution to his disciples; to whom He commanded: "But be not you called Rabbi; for one is your master, even Christ, and all you are brethren. Neither be you called masters; but he that is greatest among you shall be your servant; and whoever shall exalt himself shall be abased" (Mat 23: 8-12). Is is plain that these passages carry a severe rebuke, both to worldly honor in general, and to those members and expressions of it in particular, which, as near as the language of Scripture and customs of that age will permit, do distinctly reach and allude to those of our own time; for the declining of which we have suffered so much scorn and abuse, both in our persons and estates. God forgive the unreasonable authors of it!
33. The Apostle Paul has a saying of great weight and fervency, in his epistle to the Romans, very agreeable to this doctrine of Christ; it is this: "I implore you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service; and be not conformed to this world, but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God" (Rom 12:1-2). He wrote to a people in the midst of the ensnaring pomp and glory of the world. Rome was the seat of Caesar, and the empire; the mistress of invention. Her fashions, as those of France now, were as laws to the world, at least at Rome; where it is proverbial: Cure fueris Romæ, Romano vivito more — " When you are at Rome, you must do as Rome does." But the apostle is of another mind; he warns the Christians of that city that they be not conformed; that is, that they do not follow the vain fashions and customs of this world, but leave them. The emphasis lies upon this, as well as upon conformed; and it implies, that this world, which they were not to conform to, was the corrupt and degenerate condition of mankind in that age. Therefore the apostle proceeds to exhort those believers, and that by the mercies of God, the most powerful and winning of all arguments, that they would be transformed; that is, changed from the way of life customary among the Romans; and prove what is that acceptable will of God. As if he had said, examine what you do and practice; see if it be right, and that it pleases God; call every thought, word, and action to judgment (John 3:21); try whether they are wrought in God or not; that so you may prove or know, what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.
34. The next Scripture authority we appeal to, in our vindication, is a passage of the Apostle Peter, in his first epistle written to the believing strangers throughout the countries of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia; which were the churches of Jesus Christ in those parts of the world, gathered by his power and spirit. It is this: "Gird up the loins of your mind; be sober and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance" (1 Peter 1:13-14). That is, be not found in the vain fashions and customs of the world, to which you conformed in your former ignorance; but as you have believed in a more plain and excellent way, so be sober and fervent, and hope to the end. Do not give up; let them mock you; bear the contradiction of sinners constantly, as obedient children, that you may receive the kindness of God, at the revelation of Jesus Christ. And therefore the apostle calls them strangers, a figurative speech, people estranged from the customs of the world, of new faith and manners; and so unknown of the world. And if such are strangers, then they are not to be fashioned or conformed to their pleasing respects and honors, whom they were estranged from, because the strangeness lay in leaving what was customary and familiar to them before. The following words prove he used the word strangers in a spiritual sense: "Pass the time of your sojourning here in fear" (1 Peter 1:17); that is, pass the time of your being as strangers on earth in fear; not after the fashions of the world. A word in the next chapter further explains his sense, where he tells the believers that they are a peculiar people; namely, a distinct, a singular and separate people from the rest of the world; not any longer to fashion themselves according to their customs. But I do not know how that is possible, if they live in communion with the respects and honors of the world, such behavior is not being a peculiar or separate people from the fashions of the world, but rather to be like them, conforming to them.
35. I shall conclude my Scripture testimonies against the foregoing respects, with that memorable and close passage of the Apostle James against respect of persons in general after the world's fashion: "My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come to your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel; and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment, and you have respect to him that wears the celebrant clothing, and say to him, Sit you here in a good place [or, well and seemly, as the word is]; and say to the poor, Stand you there, or sit here under my footstool; are you not then partial in yourselves, and have become judges with evil thoughts?" (James 2:1-4). That is, they knew they did wrong: "If you fulfil the royal law, according to the Scripture, You shall love your neighbor as yourself, you do well; but if you show partiality of persons, you commit sin, and are conviced of the law as transgressors" (James 2:8-9). This is so complete there seems nothing left for me to add, or others to object. We are not to respect [show partiality to particular] persons, that is the first thing; and the next thing is, if we do, we commit sin, and break the law,* at our own peril. Yet perhaps some will say that by this we overthrow all distinctions among men, under their several qualities, and introduce a reciprocal and relational respect in place of it. But if it be so, I cannot help it; the Apostle James must answer for it, who has given us this doctrine. Yet One greater than he told his disciples, of whom James was one, "You know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them," .... "But it shall not be so among you; but whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant" (Mat 20:25-27). That is, he that desires to rule, and seeks to be uppermost, shall be esteemed least among you. To say true on the whole matter, whether we regard those early times of the world, that were prior to the coming of Christ or soon after, there was yet a greater simplicity than in the times in which we have fallen. For those early times of the world, as bad as they were in other things, were great strangers to the frequency of these follies: no, they hardly used some of them, at least very rarely. For if we read the scriptures, such a title as my lord Adam, though lord of the world, is not to be found; nor my lord Noah neither, the second lord of the earth; nor yet my lord Abraham, the father of the faithful; nor my lord Isaac, nor my lord Jacob; but much less is my lord Paul, etc., to be found in the Bible; and less your holiness, or your grace. [Or how about today's reverend or your honor?] No, among the Gentiles, the people wore their own names with more simplicity, and did not use the ceremony of speech that is now practiced among Christians, or yet anything like it. My lord Solon, my lord Phocion, my lord Plato, my lord Aristotle, my lord Scipio, my lord Fabius, my lord Cato, my lord Cicero, are not to be read in any of the Greek or Latin stories, and yet they were some of the sages and heroes of those great empires. No, their own names were enough to distinguish them from other men, and their virtue and employment in the public service were their titles of honor. Nor has this vanity yet crept far into the Latin writers, where it is familiar for authors to cite the most learned and the most noble, without any addition to their names, unless worthy or learned: and if their works give it them, we make no conscience to deny it them. For instance: the Fathers they only cite thus: Polycarpus, Ignatius, Irenaeus, Cyprian, Tertullian, Origen, Arnobius, Lactantius, Chrysostom, Jerome, etc. More modern writers: Damascen, Rabanus, Paschasius, Theophylact, Bernard, etc. And of the last age: Luther, Melanchthon, Calvin, Beza, Zuinglius, Marlorat, Vossius, Grotius, Dalleus, Amyralldus, etc. And of our own country: Gildas, Beda, Alcuinus, Horn, Bracton, Grosteed, Littleton, Cranmer, Ridley, Jewel, Whitaker, Seldon, etc. And yet I presume this will not be thought uncivil or rude. Why then is our [the Quakers] simplicity, (and so honestly grounded too, as conscience against pride in man, that so evilly and perniciously loves and seeks worship and greatness), so much despised and abused; and that abuse by professed Christians too, who claim themselves to be the followers of Him that has forbidden these foolish customs, as plainly as any other impiety condemned in his doctrine? I earnestly beg the lovers, users, and expecters of these ceremonies, to let this writing have some consideration and weight with them.
36. However, true Christians are not so ill-bred as the world thinks, [withholding the vanities of honor to men], for they show respect too. But the difference between them lies in the nature of the respect they perform, and the reasons of it. The world's respect is an empty ceremony, with no soul or substance in it. The true Christian's respect is substantial, whether by obedience to superiors, love to equals, or help and kindness to inferiors. Next, their reasons and motives to honor and respect are greatly different. Fine apparel, empty titles, or large revenues are the world's motives, being things her children worship. But the Christian's motives are the sense of his duty in God's sight: first to parents and magistrates, and then to inferior relations; and lastly to all people, according to their virtue, wisdom, and piety; which is far from respect to the mere persons of men, or having their admiration for reward; much less on such poor and base motives as wealth or elegant clothing.
37. We shall easily grant that our honor and our religion is more hidden; and that neither are so discernible by worldly men, nor appreciated by them. Our plainness is odd, uncouth, and goes mightily against the grain; but so did and does Christianity and for the same reasons. If the heathen spirit had not prevailed too long under a disguise of a Christian profession, it would not be so hard to discern the right from the wrong. Oh that Christians would look upon themselves with the mirror of righteousness; what tells true, and gives them an exact knowledge of themselves! And then let them examine what in them, and about them, agrees with Christ's doctrine and life; and they may soon resolve, whether they are real Christians, or simply heathen christened with the name of Christians.
SOME TESTIMONIES FROM ANCIENT AND MODERN WRITERS
38. Marlorat, from study of Luther and Calvin, regarding that remarkable passage I just now quoted from the Apostle James, gives us the sense those primitive reformers had of respect to persons in these words, namely "To respect persons here is to have regard to the habit and garb. The apostle signifies, that such respect of persons is so contrary to true faith, that they are altogether inconsistent. But if the pomp, and other worldly regards prevail, and weaken what is of Christ, it is a sign of a decaying faith. Yes, so great is the glory and splendor of Christ in a pious soul, that all the glories of the world have no charms, no beauty, in comparison of that, to one so righteously inclined. The apostle makes such respecting of persons to be repugnant to the light within them, so that those who follow these practices are condemned from within themselves. So that sanctity ought to be the reason or motive of all outward respect; and that none are to be honored, upon any account except holiness." Thus much Marlorat. But if this is true doctrine, we are very correct in refusing conformity to the vain respects of worldly men.
39. But I shall add to these, the admonition of a learned ancient writer, who lived about 1200 [500 AD] years ago, of great esteem, namely, Jerome, who, writing to a noble matron, Celentia, directing her how to live in the midst of her prosperity and honors, among many other religious instructions, speaks as this: "Heed not your nobility, nor let that be a reason for you to rule over any; esteem not those of a poorer extraction to be your inferiors; for our religion admits of no respect of persons, nor does it induce us to think highly of men, based on any external condition, but only from their inward frame and disposition of mind. It is by this, that we pronounce men noble or base. With God, not to serve sin is to be free; and to excel in virtue is to be noble. God has chosen the poor and contemptible of this world, by which to humble the great ones. Besides, it is a folly for any to boast his of his gentility, since all are equally esteemed by God. The ransom of the poor and rich cost Christ an equal expense of blood. Nor is it material in what state a man is born; the new creature has no distinction. Even if we will forget how we are all descended from one Father; we ought at least perpetually to remember that we have but one savior."
40. But since I am engaged against these fond and fruitless customs, the proper effects and delights of vain and proud minds, let me still add one more memorable passage as it was related by the famous Casaubon, in his discourse of Use and Custom, where he briefly reports what passed between Sulpitius Severus and Paulinus, bishop of Nola (who had given all, to redeem captives; while others of that function, that they may show who is their master, are making many both beggars and captives, by approving the plunder and imprisonment of Christians, for pure conscience to God). He states the case this way: "He is not counted a civil man now, of late years among us, who thinks it much, or refuses to subscribe himself servant, though it be to his equal or inferior." To the contrary, Sulpitius Severus was once sharply chided by Paulinus for subscribing himself his servant, in a letter of his, saying, "Take heed, hereafter, how you, being from a servant called into liberty, do subscribe yourself servant to one who is your brother and fellow-servant; for it is a sinful flattery, not a testimony of humility, to pay those honors to a man, and a sinner, which are due to the one Lord, and one Master, and one God." By this we may see the sense of some of the more apostolic bishops, about the civilities and fashions so much reputed with people that call themselves Christians and bishops, and who claimed to be their successors. What before was a sin, by them has become an accomplishment; it was then a flattery, it is now respect; it was then fit to be severely reproved; and now, alas! it is to deserve severe reproof not to use it. Oh monstrous vanity! How much, how deeply, have those who are called Christians revolted from the plainness of the primitive days, and practice of holy men and women in former ages! How have they become degenerated into the loose, proud, and wanton customs of the world which are not of God; to whom use has made these things, condemned by Scripture, reason, and example, almost natural! And so insensible are they of both their cause and bad effects, that they not only continue to practice them, but plead for them, and unchristianly make a very mock of those who cannot imitate them. But I shall proceed to what remains yet further to be said in our defense, for declining another custom, which helps to make us so much the stumbling-block of this light, vain, and inconsiderate age.
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