ADVICE OF WILLIAM PENN TO HIS CHILDREN
Site Editor's Preface
Penn writes this marvelous treatise while he was preparing for his first trip from England
to his newly granted territory in America,
which he named Pennsylvania,
unsure of his ever returning to see his children again. As with the rest of Penn's writings, the language and punctuation have been updated to better communicate Penn's incredible thoughts and wisdom. He was a very educated man, widely read, and comfortable with a large vocabulary. Infrequently used words tend to fall into obscurity over time, and so it is necessary to update his language with the aid of the 1828 Webster Dictionary, making every effort to convey his original meaning, only more clearly.
Text in Light Blue or bold Light Blue can be "clicked" for backup in scripture or detail in writings.
MY DEAR CHILDREN
NOT knowing how long it may please God to continue me among you, I am willing to embrace this opportunity of leaving you my advice and counsel, with respect to your Christian and civil capacity and duty in this world; and I both beseech you and charge you, by your being related to me, and the affection I have always shown to you, and indeed received from you, that you lay up the same in your hearts as well as your heads with a wise and religious care.
I will begin with what is the beginning of all true wisdom and happiness, the holy fear of God.
Children, Fear God: that is to say, have a holy awe upon your minds to avoid what is evil, and a strict care to embrace and do what is good. The measure and standard of which knowledge and duty, is the light of Christ in your consciences, by which, as in John 3:20-21, you may clearly see if your deeds, yes, and your words and thoughts too, are wrought in God or not; or are they the deeds of the mind, for which you must be judged. I say, with this divine light of Christ in your consciences, you may bring your thoughts, words, and works, to judgment in yourselves; and have a right, true, sound, and unerring, sense of your duty towards God and man. As you come to obey this blessed light in its holy convictions, it will lead you out of the world's dark and degenerate ways and works; and bring you to Christ's way and life, to be of the number of his true self-denying followers, to take up your cross for his sake, that bore his for your sake; and to become the children of the light, putting it on, as your holy-armor; by which you may see and resist the fiery darts of Satan's temptations, and overcome him in all his assaults.
Let me briefly explain this principle to you. It is called light, John 1:9, John 3:19-21, John 8:12, Eph 5:8,13-14. 1 Thess 5: 5,1 John 1:5-7. Rev 21:23, because it gives man a sight of his sin. And it is also called the quickening spirit; for so He is called; and the Lord from heaven, as 1 Cor 15:45,57, who is called, and calls himself, the light of the world, John 8:12. And why is he called the Spirit? Because he gives man spiritual life. In, John 16:8, Christ promised to send his Spirit to reprove all the world [every man] of their sins. Therefore, what convinces you and all people of their sins, is the Spirit of Christ; this is highly prized, Rom 8, as you may read in that great and sweet chapter, for the children of God are led by it. This reveals the things of God, that pertain to man's salvation and happiness, as 1 Cor 2:10-12. It is the promise God gives his people, 2 Cor 5:5. It is the great end and benefit and blessing of the coming of Christ, that is: The shining forth of this light, and pouring forth of this spirit. Yes, Christ is not received by those who resist his light and Spirit in their hearts; nor can they have the benefit of his birth, life, death, resurrection, intercession, etc., who rebel against the light. "God sent his Son to bless us, in turning us from the evil of our ways." Therefore have a care of evil, for that turns you away from God. Whatever you have done evil, do it no more, but be turned my dear children, from that evil, in thought as well as in word or deed, or that will turn you from God, your Creator, and Christ, whom he has given you for your Redeemer. He redeems and saves his people from their sins, Tit 2:14, not in their sins. Read Acts 2, and Heb 8, and the Christian dispensation will appear to be that of the Spirit, which sin quenches, hardens the heart against, and bolts the door upon.
This holy divine principle is also called grace, Tit 2:11-14, there you will see the nature and office of it, and its blessed effects upon those who were taught of it in the primitive days. And why grace? Because it is God's love, and not about what we deserve; but his good-will, his kindness. He so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son into the world, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life, John 3:16. It is this holy Son, that in John 1:14,16, is declared to be "full of grace and truth," and that of his grace we receive grace for grace; that is, we receive of him, the fullness of what measure of grace we need. The Lord told Paul in his great trials, when ready to stagger about the sufficiency of the grace he had received to deliver him: My grace is sufficient for you, 2 Cor 12:9. Oh children, love the grace, obey this grace. It will teach you, it will sanctify you, it will lead you to the rest and kingdom of God; just as it taught the saints of old, first, what to deny, that is: "To deny ungodliness and worldly lusts; and then what to do, that is: To live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, Tit 2:11-12. He that is full of grace, is full of light; and he that is full of light is full of the quickening Spirit, that gives a manifestation of his Spirit to every one to profit with, 1 Cor 12:7. He that is the quickening Spirit, is the truth. I am the way, the truth, and the life, said he to his poor followers. John 14:6. And if the truth shall make you free, he said to the Jews, then are you free indeed," John 8:31-32, 36. This truth sheds abroad itself in man, and creates truth in man's inward parts, which makes false, rebellious, hypocritical man, a true man to God again. Truth in the inward parts is of great price with the Lord. Why is this called Truth? Because it tells man the truth of his spiritual state; it shows him his state, deals plainly with him, and sets his sins in order before him. So that my dear children, the light, spirit, grace, and truth are not several principles, but several words, or descriptions, given to one eternal Power and heavenly principle in you; though not of you, but of God, according to the manifestation or operation thereof in the servants of God of old time:
So that just as darkness, death, sin, and error, are the same; light spirit, grace, and truth, are the same.
This is what comes by Christ and a measure of this light, spirit, grace, and truth, is given to every man and woman to see their way to go by. This is what distinguishes Friends [early Quakers] from all other societies, as they are found walking in the same, which leads out of vain honors, compliments, lusts, and pleasures of the world. Oh, my dear children, this is the pearl of price; part with all for it, but never part with it for all the world. This is the gospel leaven, to leaven you; that is, sanctify and season you in body, soul, and spirit, to God your heavenly Father's use and service, and your own lasting comfort. Yes, this is the divine and incorruptible seed of the kingdom; of which all truly regenerate men and women, Christians of Christ's making, are born. Receive it into your hearts, give it room there, let it take deep root in you, and you will be fruitful unto God in every good word and work. As you take heed to it, and the holy enlightenings and motions of it, you will have a perfect discerning of the spirit of this world, in all its appearances, in yourselves and others; the motions, temptations, and workings of it, as to pride, vanity, covetousness, revenge, uncleanness, hypocrisy, and every evil way; you will see the world in all its shapes and features, and you will be able to judge the world by it, and the spirit of the world, in all its appearances. You will see as I have done, that there is much to deny, much to suffer and much to do; and you will see that there is no power or virtue, but in the light, spirit, grace, and truth of Christ, to carry you through the world to God's glory and your everlasting peace. Yes, you will see what religion is from above, and what is from below; what is of God's working, and of man's making and forcing; also what ministry is of his Spirit and giving, and what of man's studying, framing, and imposing. You will, I say, discern the rise, nature, tokens and fruits of the true from the false ministry and what worship is spiritual, and what is carnal; and what honor is of God, and what that honor is which is from below, of men, yes, fallen men, that the Jews and the world so generally love, and which is spoken against in John 5:44. You will see the vain and evil communication, that "corrupts good manners;" the snares of much company and business, and especially the danger of the friendship of this present evil world.
And you will also see, that the testimony the eternal God has brought our poor friends unto, as to religion, worship, truth-speaking, ministry, plainness, simplicity, and moderation, in apparel, furniture, food, salutation, as you may read in their writings, from the very beginning, is a true and heavenly testimony of his mind, will, work, and dispensation in this last age of the world to mankind, being the revival of true primitive Christianity: where your most tender father prays that you may be kept, and charges you to watch, that you may be preserved in the faith and practice of that blessed testimony; and count it no small mercy from God, nor honor to you, that you come of parents that counted nothing too dear or near to part with, nor too great to do or sure, that they might approve themselves to God, and testify their love to his most precious truth in the inward parts, in their generation. And I do also charge you, my dear children, to retain in your remembrance those worthy ancients in the work of Christ, who remained alive to your day and memory, and yet remain to your knowledge; more especially that man of God, and prince in Israel, the first born and begotten of our day and age of truth, and the first and the great early instrument of God among us, George Fox; and what you have heard, seen and observed of those heavenly worthies, their holy wisdom, zeal, love, labors, and sufferings, and particular tenderness to you, treasure up for your children after you, and tell them what you have heard, seen, and known, of the servants and work of God, and progress thereof, as a holy, exemplary, and edifying tradition unto them. And be sure that you forsake not the assembling yourselves with God's people, as the manner of some was, Heb 10:25, and is at this day, especially among young people, the children of some friends, whom the love of this present evil world has hurt and cooled in their love to God and his truth. But do you keep close to meetings, both for worship and business of the church, when of an age and capacity proper for it; and that not out of novelty, formality, or to be seen of men, but in pure fear, love, and conscience to God, your Creator, as the public, just, and avowed testimony of your duty and homage to him. In which be exemplary, both by timely coming, and a reverent and serious deportment during the assembly; in which be not weary, or think the time long till it will be over, as some did of the Sabbaths of old time; but let your eye be to him whom you come to wait upon and serve, and do what you do as to him, and he will be your refreshment and reward; for you shall return with the seals and pledges of his love, mercy and blessings.
Above all things, my dear children, as to your communion and fellowship with friends, be careful to keep the unity of the faith in the bond of peace. Have a care of slanderers, detractors, and backbiters that undervalue and undermine brethren behind their backs; or who slight the good and wholesome order of truth, which preserves matters quietly, sweetly, and honorably in the church. Have a care of novelties, and airy changeable people - the conceited, censorious, and puffed up, who at last have always shown themselves to be clouds without rain, and wells without water, who would rather disturb and break the peace and fellowship of the church, where they dwell, so that their wills and ways can prevail. I charge you, in the fear of the living God, that you carefully beware of all such people; mark them, as the apostle says, Rom 16:17, and have no fellowship with them; but to advise, exhort, entreat, and finally reprove them, Eph 5:11. For God is, and will be, with his people in this holy dispensation we are now under, and which is now among us, unto the end of days. This dispensation shall grow and increase in gifts, graces, power, and luster, for it is the last and unchallengeable one; and blessed are your eyes, if they see it, and your ears if they hear it, and your hearts if they understand it; which I pray that you may, to God's glory and your eternal comfort.
Having thus expressed myself to you, my dear children, as to the things of God, his truth and kingdom, I refer you to his light, grace, spirit, and truth within you, and the holy scriptures of truth without you, which from my youth I loved to read, and were ever blessed to me; and which I charge you to read daily. Read the Old Testament, for history chiefly; the Psalms, for meditation and devotion; the Prophets, for comfort and hope; but especially the New Testament, for doctrine, faith, and worship. For they were given forth by holy men of God in several ages, as they were moved of the holy Spirit; and are the declared and revealed mind and will of the holy God to mankind under several dispensations. They are certainly able to [help] make the man of God perfect, through faith, unto salvation; being such a true and clear testimony to the salvation that is of God, through Christ, the second Adam, the light of the world, the quickening Spirit, who is full of grace and truth. Whose light, grace, spirit, and truth, bear witness to them, in every sensible soul; as they frequently, plainly and solemnly, bear testimony to the light, spirit, grace and truth, both in himself, and in and to his people, to their sanctification, justification, redemption, and consolation; and in all men, to their visitation, reproof, and conviction in their evil ways. I say, having thus expressed myself in general, I refer you, my dear children, to the light and spirit of Jesus, that is within you, and to the scriptures of truth without you, and such other testimonies to the one same eternal truth as have been borne in our day; and shall now descend to particulars, that you may more directly apply what I have said in general, both as to your religious and civil direction in your pilgrimage upon earth.
I WILL begin here, also, with the beginning of time, the morning: as soon as you awaken, retire your mind into a pure silence from all thoughts and ideas of worldly things and in that frame wait upon God, to feel his good presence to lift up your hearts to him, and commit your whole self into his blessed care and protection. Then rise, if well, immediately. Being dressed, read a chapter, or more, in the scriptures, and afterwards dispose yourselves for the business of the day; ever remembering that God is present, the overseer of all our thought, words, and actions; and demean ourselves my dear children, accordingly; and do not you dare to do that in his holy all-seeing presence, which you would be ashamed for a man, yes, a child, to see you do it.* And as you have intervals from your lawful occasions, delight to step home, (within ourselves I mean), and commune with your own hearts, and be still; and, as Nebuchadnezzar said on another occasion, "One like the Son of God," you shall find and enjoy, with you and in you: a treasure the world knows not of, but is the aim, end, and diadem of the children of God." This will bear you up against all temptations, and carry you sweetly and evenly through your day's business, supporting you under disappointments, and moderating your satisfaction in success and prosperity. The evening come, read again the holy scripture, and have your times of retirement, before you close your eyes, as in the morning; that so the Lord may be the Alpha and Omega of every day of your lives. And if God blesses you with families, remember good Joshua's resolution, Josh 24:15. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
Fear God; show it in desire, refraining, and doing. Keep the inward watch, keep a clear soul and a light heart. Mind an inward sense while doing anything. When you read the scripture, remark the notable places as your spirits are most touched and affected, in a common-place book, with that sense, or opening, which you receive; for they come not by study, or in the will of man no more than the scripture did; and they may be lost by carelessness, and overgrowing thoughts and businesses of this life. Do the same in pursuing any other good or profitable book. But it is better to meditate than read much. For the Spirit of a man knows the things of a man; and with that spirit, by observation of the tempers and actions of men you see in the world, and looking into your own spirit, and meditating upon it, you will have a deep and strong judgment of men and things. For from what may be, what should be, and what is most probable or likely to be, you can hardly miss in your judgment of human affairs; and you have a better Spirit than your own, in reserve for a time of need, to pass the final judgment in important matters.
In conversation, mark well what others say or do, and hide your own mind, at least until last; and then open it as sparingly as the matter will let you. A just observance and reflection upon men and things, gives wisdom; those are the great books of learning, seldom read. The laborious bee draws honey from every flower. Be always on your watch, particularly in company of other men; then be sure to have your wits about you, and your armor on. Speak last and little, but to the point. Interrupt none, anticipate none; read Prov 10:8,13. "Be quick to hear, slow to speak," Prov 17:27. It gives time to understand, and ripens an answer. Don't address with many words, limit your words to the subject; and limit them to be pertinent and plain. The truest eloquence is plainest; and brief speaking, (I mean, brevity and clearness, to make ourselves easily understood by everybody, and in as few words as the matter will admit of), is the best.
Prefer the aged, the virtuous, and the knowing; and choose those who excel for your company and friendship; but despise not others.
Return no answer to anger, unless with much meekness, which often turns it away; but rarely make replies, much less a critical reply; for that adds fuel to the fire. Answering anger is the wrong time to vindicate yourselves, the true ear being then never open to hear it. Men are not themselves, and do not understand what spirits they are of. Silence to passion, prejudice, and mockery is the best answer, and silence often conquers what resistance inflames.
Learn, and teach your children, fair writing, and the most useful parts of mathematics; and some business when young, whatever else they are taught.
Calculate your income, and live on half; if you can, one third; reserving the rest for casualties, charities, portions.
Be plain in clothes, furniture and food, but clean; and then the plainer the better; the rest is folly, and a snare. Therefore, next to sin, avoid daintiness and choiceness about our person and houses. For if it is not an evil in itself, it is a temptation to it; and may be accounted a nest for sin to brood in.
Avoid differences: those not avoidable, refer [to arbitration in the church]; and respect judgments required of you strictly, and without grudging. Read Prov 18:17,18. Prov 25:8. Matthew 5:38-41. 1 Cor 1:10-13. It is good counsel.
Be sure to draw our affairs into as narrow a compass as you can, and in method and proportion, time, and other requisites proper for them.
Have very few acquaintances, and fewer intimates, but of the best of their kind.
Keep your own secrets, and do not covet others': but if trusted, never reveal them, unless they are of danger to somebody else; and not then, before warning the party to desist and repent. Prov 11:13. Prov 25:9,10.
Trust no man with anything critical to you [particularly your chance to find LIFE], and avoid being trusted.
Make few resolutions, but keep them strictly.
Prefer elders and strangers on all occasions: be rather last, than first, in accommodation and respect; but first in all virtues.
Beware of procrastinating, trusting in tomorrow's efforts, for there is only one chance, to find LIFE in your life; and it is not wise to build on a cliff. Wisdom says do what is important beforehand, and teaches to choose seasonably and pertinently; therefore ever strike while the iron is hot. But if you lose an opportunity it differs, in this, from a relapse; less caution and more resolution and industry, must recover it.
Above all, remember your Creator; remember yourselves and your families, when you have them, in the youthful time and early part of your life; for good methods and habits obtained then, will make you easy and happy the rest of your days. Every estate has its snare: youth and middle age, pleasure and ambition; old age, greed for more gain. Remember, I tell you, that man is a slave where either prevails. Beware of the destructive lusts of the eye, and the flesh, and the pride of life, 1 John 2:15,16,17, which are not of the Father, but of the world. Get higher and nobler objects for your immortal part, Oh, my dear children, and be not tied to possessions; for then you can never have the true and free enjoyment of yourselves to better things; no more than a slave in Algiers has of his house or family in London. Be free, live at home, (within yourselves I mean), where lies greater treasures hidden than in the Indies. The pomp, honor, and luxury of the world, are the cheats; and the unthinking and inconsiderate are deceived by them. But the retired man is upon higher ground, he sees and is aware of the trick, condemns the folly, and bemoans the deluded.
Choose God's trades before men's. Adam was a gardener, Cain a plough-man, and Abel a grazier or shepherd; these began with the world, have the least of snares, and most of use. When Cain became a murderer, as a witty man said (Cowley, in his Works on Agriculture), he turned into a builder of cities, and quit his husbandry. Making things, as crafts, are also commendable; but they are but a second brood, and younger brothers. If grace does not employ you, let nature and a useful art; but avoid curiosity there also, for it devours much time to no profit. I have seen a ceiling of a room [with frescoes, carvings, art, etc.] that cost half a much as the house; this is folly and sin, too.
Have but few books, but let them be well chosen, and well read, whether on religious or civil subjects. Shun radical opinions; measure both religion and learning by what is practical; reduce all to that, for that brings a real benefit to you, the rest is a thief and a snare. Indeed, reading many books only takes the mind off too much from meditation. Reading about ourselves and nature, in the dealings and conduct of men, is the truest human wisdom. The spirit of a man knows the things of a man; and more true knowledge comes by meditation and just reflection than by reading; for a lot of reading is an oppression of the mind, and extinguishes the natural candle; which is the reason of so many senseless scholars in the world.
Do not that which you blame in another. Do not do to another, which you would not another should do to you. But above all, do nothing in God's sight that you would be ashamed for a man to see you do.
So that you may order all things profitably, divide your day: with a share of time for your retirement and worship of God; a proportion for your business; in which remember to ply that first which is first to be done; so much time for yourselves, be it for study, walking, visits, etc. In this be firm, and let your friends know it, and you will cut off many impertinencies and interruptions, and save a treasure of time to yourselves, which people most unaccountably lavish away. And to be more exact, (for much lies in this) keep a journal of your time, though a day may only require a line in it; many advantages flow from it.
Keep close to the meetings of God's people, wait diligently at them, to feel the heavenly life in your heart. Look for that, more than words in ministry, and you will profit most. Above all look to the Lord; but do not despise the instruments of the Lord, [those commanded to his service] man or woman, young or old, rich or poor, learned or unlearned.
Avoid discontented persons, unless to inform or reprove them. Abhor divisiveness, the sin of fallen angels, and the worst sin of fallen men.
Excuse faults in others, own them in yourselves; and forgive those trespasses against yourself, as you would have your heavenly Father and Judge forgive you. Read Prov 17:9, and Matthew 6:14-15. Christ returns and dwells upon that passage of his prayer above all the rest - forgiveness, the hardest lesson to man, who of all other creatures most lacks it.
Be natural [of affection] with others; and remember, that to be void of natural affection is a mark of apostasy set by the apostle, 2 Tim 3:3. Let not time, I charge you, wear out your natural affection; it may be common, according to custom, but it is an ill one, therefore do not follow it. It is a great fault in families at this day. Beware of it, and shun that unnatural carelessness. Live as near as you can, visit often, correspond more often, and communicate with kind hearts to one another, in proportion to what the Lord gives you; and do not be closed, nor hoard up from one another, as if you had no right or claim in one another, and did not depart of one most tender father and mother.
What I write is to ours, as well as you, if God gives you children. And in case a prodigal [a rebel from God] should ever appear among them, make not his folly an excuse to be a stranger or closed, and so to expose such one to more evil; but show bowels [of love], as John did to the young man that fell into ill company, whom with love he reclaimed after his example that sends his sun and rain upon all. (Euseb. Ecc. Hist. 3:23).
Love silence, even in the mind; for thoughts are to the mind, as words to the body, troublesome; much speaking, as much thinking, waste your life; and in many thoughts, as well as words, there is sin. True silence is the rest of the mind; and is to the spirit, what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment. It is a great virtue; it covers folly, keeps secrets, avoids disputes, and prevents sin. See Job 13:5, Prov 10:19. Prov 12:13, Prov 13:3, Prov 18:6-7, Prov 17:28.
The wisdom of nations lies in their proverbs, which are brief and pithy; collect and learn them for they are notable measures and directions for human life. You have much in little; they save time and speaking; and, upon occasion, may be the fullest and safest answers.
Never meddle with other folks' business and less with the public, unless called to the one by the parties concerned, (in which move cautiously and uprightly), and required to the other by the Lord, in a testimony for his name and truth; remembering that old, but most true and excellent proverb, Bene qui latuit, bene vixit, "He lives happily who lives hidden or privately," for he lives quietly. It is a treasure to them that have it; study it, get it, feel it; too many miss it that might have it; the world does not know the value of it. It doubles a man's life, by giving him twice the time to himself, that many friends, or much business, will allow him.
Have a care of resentment of, or in, improper occurrences; a natural, ready, and most dangerous passion. But be ready to remit than resent; it is more Christian and wise, or as softness often conquers, where rough opposition fortifies; so resentment, seldom knowing any bounds, often creates many times greater fault than to what it reacts. For some people have out-resented their wrong [done to them] so far, that they made themselves faultier, by which they cancel the debt, through a boundless passion overthrowing their interest and advantage, thus becoming a debtor to the offender.
Be unwavering. Never aggravate. Never revile or give ill names: it is unmannerly, as well as unchristian. Remember Mat 5:22, who it was said, "He that calls his brother fool, is in danger of hell-fire."
Be not morose, or conceited; one is rude, the other troublesome and nauseous.
Avoid questions and strife; it shows a busy and contentious disposition.
Beware of jealousy, except it is godly, for it devours love and friendship; it breaks fellowship, and destroys the peace of the mind. It is a groundless and evil surmise.
Be not too easily believing. Read Prov 14:15. Caution is a medium; I recommend it.
Speak not of religion, neither use the name of God, in a unconstrained manner.
Meddle not with government; never speak to it; let others say or do as they please. But read such books of law as relate to the office of a justice, a coroner, sheriff, and constable; also read The Doctor and Student; some book of clerkship, and a treatise of wills; all to enable you about your own private business only, or a poor neighbor's. For it is a charge I leave with you and yours: Meddle not with the public, neither business nor money; but understand how to avoid it, and defend yourselves, upon occasion, against it. For much knowledge brings sorrow, and much doings more. Therefore know God, know yourselves; love home, know your own business, and mind it, and you will have more time and peace than your neighbors.
If you incline to marry, then marry your inclination rather than for material gain; I mean, what you love rather than what is rich. But love for virtue, temper, education, and person, before wealth, or quality, and be sure you are beloved in return. In all this be not hasty, but serious; lay it before the Lord, proceed in his fear, and be you well advised. And when married, according to the way of God's people, out of whom only choose your spouse, strictly keep covenant. Avoid occasion of misunderstanding, allow for weaknesses, and variety of constitution and disposition, and take care of showing the least disgust or misunderstanding to others, especially our children. Never lie down to sleep with any displeasure in your minds but avoid occasion of dispute and offense; overlook and cover failings. Seek the Lord for one another; wait upon him together morning and evening, in his holy fear, which will renew and confirm your love and covenant. Give way to nothing that would in the least violate it; use all means of true endearment that you may recommend and please one another; remembering, our relation and union is the figure of Christ's to his church. Therefore let the authority of love only control our whole life.
If God gives you children, love them with wisdom, correct them with affection. Never strike in anger, and suit the correction to their age as well as their fault. Convince them of their error, before you chastise them; and try them, if they show remorse, before severity; never use that, but in case of obstinacy or impenitency. Punish them more by their understandings than the rod, and show them the folly, shame, and lack of duty of their faults rather with a grieved than an angry countenance, and you will sooner affect their natures, and with a nobler sense, than a servile and rude chastisement can produce. I know the methods of some are severe corrections for faults, and artificial praises when they do well, and sometimes rewards; but this course awakens passion worse than their faults. For the former creates base fear, if not hatred; the later creates pride and vain glory; both which should be avoided in a religious education of youth; for they equally vary from it, and deprave nature. There should be the greatest care imaginable what impressions are given to children; that method, which earliest awakens their understandings to love, duty, sobriety, just and honorable things, is to be preferred. Education is the stamp parents give their children; they pass for those who breed them, or less value perhaps, all their days. The world is in nothing more lacking and reprovable, both in precept and example, than what they do with their children's soul when they put them out in boarding [schools] for so much a year. They will trust their estates or shops with none but themselves; but for their souls and posterity, they have less concern. So you breed [raise] your children yourselves, I mean as to their morals, and be their bishops and teachers in the principles of conversation: as they are instructed, so they are likely to be qualified, and your posterity by their precepts and examples, which they receive from you. If mankind in this were more cautious, they would better discharge their duty to God and posterity; and their children would owe them more for their education than for their inheritances. Be not unequal in your love to your children at least in the appearances of it; it is both unjust and indiscreet: it lessens love to parents, and provokes envy among children. Let them wear the same clothes, eat of the same dish, have the same allowance as to time and expense. Breed them to some employment, and give all equal but the eldest; and to the eldest a double portion is very well. Teach them also frugality, and they will not lack substance for their posterity. A little beginning, with industry and thrift, will make an estate; but there is great difference between saving, and sordid. Be not scanty, any more than superfluous; but rather make bold with yourselves than be strait to others; therefore let your charity temper your frugality and theirs. What I have written to you, I have written to your children, and theirs.
You will have servants, but remember the fewer the better, and those rather aged than young; you must make them such or dispose of them often. Change is not good; therefore choose well and the rather because of your children; for children, thinking they can take more liberty with servants than with their parents, often choose the servants' company, and if they are idle, wanton, ill examples, children are in great danger of being perverted. Let them, therefore, be friends, with such as are well recommended. Let them know their business well as their wages, and as they do the one, pay them honestly for the other. Though servants, yet remember they are brethren in Christ, and that you also are but stewards, and must account to God. Therefore, let your moderation appear unto them and that will provoke them to diligence for love, rather than fear, which is the truest and best motive to service. In short, as you find them, so keep, use, and reward them, or dismiss them.
Distrust is of the nature of jealousy, and must be warily entertained upon good grounds, or it is injurious to others and instead of safe, troublesome to you. If you trust little, you will only have little cause to distrust. Yet I have often heard a whisper in myself of persons and things at first sight [first impressions - gut reaction] and motion that hardly ever failed to be true; though by neglecting the sense, or allowing myself to be argued or rationalized from it, I have more than once failed in my expectation. Have therefore a most tender and nice regard to those first sudden and unpremeditated sensations.
For your conduct in your business, and in the whole course of your life, though what I have said to you, and recommended you to might be sufficient; yet I will be more particular as to those good and gracious qualifications. I pray God Almighty to season and accomplish you with, to his glory, and your temporal and eternal felicity.
Be humble. It becomes a creature, a depending and borrowed being, that lives not of itself, but breathes in another's air, with another's breath, and is accountable for every moment of time, and can call nothing its own, but is absolutely a tenant at will of the great Lord of heaven and earth. You cannot lack this excellent quality of humility, if you dwell in the holy fear of the omnipresent and all-seeing God. For that will show you your vileness, and his excellence; your spiritual poverty, and his majesty; and, withal, the sense of his love to such poor worms, in the testimonies he gives of his daily care, mercy and goodness; that you cannot but he abased, laid low, and humble. I say, the fear and love of God fosters humility, and humility fits you for God and men. You cannot step well amiss, if this virtue dwells but richly in you; for then God will teach you. The humble he teaches his ways, and they are all pleasant and peaceable to his children: yes, he gives grace to the humble, but resists the proud, Jam 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5. He regards the proud afar off, Psalm 138:6. They shall not come near him, nor will he hear them in the day of their distress. Read Prov 11:2, Prov 15:33, Prov 16:18-19. Humility seeks not the last word, or first place; she offends none but prefers others and thinks lowly of herself; is not rough or self-conceited, high, loud, or domineering; blessed are those who enjoy her. Learn of me, Christ said, for I am meek, and lowly in heart. He washed his disciples' feet, John 13:5. Indeed himself was the greatest pattern of it. Humility goes before honor, Prov 18:12. There is nothing that shines more clearly through Christianity than humility; of this the holy author of it is the greatest instance. He was humble in his incarnation; for he thought equality with God was not to be grasped, and humbled himself to become a man; and many ways made himself of no reputation. As first, in his birth, or descent it was not of the princes of Judah, but a virgin of low degree, the espoused of a carpenter; and so she acknowledges, in her heavenly anthem, or recitation, Luke 1:47,48,52, speaking of the great honor God had done her: And my Spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior, for he has regarded the low estate of his hand-maiden; he has put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. Secondly, He was humble in his life: he kept no court except in deserts and mountains, and in solitary places; neither was he served in state, his attendants being lowly fishermen and tradesmen. By the miracles he performed, we may understand the food he ate, namely, barley-bread and fish; and it is unlikely they were elegantly prepared. And we have reason to believe his apparel was as moderate as his table. Thirdly, He was humble in his sufferings and death. He took all affronts patiently, and in our nature triumphed over revenge; he was despised, spit upon, buffeted, whipped, and finally crucified between two thieves as the greatest worker of evil; yet he never reviled them, but answered all in silence and submission, pitying, loving, and dying for those, by whom he was ignominiously put to death. Oh, mirror of humility! Let your eyes be continually upon it, that you may see yourselves by it. Indeed his whole life was one continued great act of self-denial: and because he needed it not for himself, he motivation was to live it for us; thereby leaving us an example, that we should follow his steps, 1 Peter 2:21. And as he was we should be in this world according to the beloved disciple, 1 John 2:6. So what he did for us, was not to excuse, but excite, our humility. For as he is like God, we must be like him; and that the forward, the contentious, the revengeful, the striker, the fighter, etc., cannot be said to be humble, being very evident. The more to illustrate this virtue I would have you consider the folly and danger of pride, its opposite. For pride was what threw the angels out of heaven, man out of paradise, destroyed cities and nations, was one of the sins of Sodom ( Ezek 16:49) the destruction of Assyria and Israel (Isa 3:16) and the reason given by God for his great vengeance upon Moab and Ammon. Zeph 2:9,10. Besides, pride is the vainest passion that can rule in man because he has nothing of his own to be proud of; and to be proud of another's, [your body and the whole world is God's] shows a lack of wit and honesty too. Man not only did not make himself; but is born naked and the most helpless of almost all creatures. Nor can he add to his days or stature or so much as make one hair of his head white or black. He is so absolutely in the power of another, that, as I have often said, he is at best but a tenant at the will of the great Lord of all, holding life, health, substance, and everything at his sovereign disposal; and the more man enjoys, the less reason he has to be proud, because he is the more indebted, and engaged to thankfulness and humility.
Therefore avoid pride, as you would avoid the devil; remember you must die, and consequently those things must die with you, that could be any temptation to pride; and that there is a judgment follows at which you must give an account, both for what you have enjoyed and done.
From humility springs meekness. Of all the rare qualities of wisdom, learning, valor, etc., with which Moses was endued, he was denominated by his meekness; this gave the rest a luster they must otherwise have wanted. The difference is not great between these excellent graces; yet the scripture observes some. God will teach the meek his way, and guide the meek in judgment. Meekness seems to be humility perfectly digested, and from a virtue becomes a nature. A meek man is one that is not easily provoked, yet easily grieved; not peevish or testy, but soft gentle and inoffensive. Oh, blessed will you be my dear children, if this grace adorns you! There are several great and precious promises to the meek in the scripture. That God will clothe meek with salvation; and blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth, Psalms 37:11, Matthew 5:5. Christ presses it in his own example, Learn of me for I am meek and lowly. Matthew 11:29. And requires us to become as little children, in order to receive salvation, Matthew 18:3. And a meek and quiet spirit is of great price with the Lord, 1 Peter 3:4. It is a fruit of the Spirit, Gal 5:22,23, exhorted to, Eph 4:2, Colossians 3:12, Tit 3:2, and many places more to the same effect.
Patience, is an effect of a meek spirit and flows from it; it is a bearing and suffering, disposition; not peevish, or easily moved to wrath, or vindictive; but readily to hear and endure too, rather than be swift and hasty in judgment or action. Job is as much famed for patience, as was Moses for meekness; without patience there is no running the Christian race, or obtaining the heavenly crown; without patience there can be no experience of the work of God, Rom 5:3-5. For patience works, said the apostle experience; and hope of an eternal recompense, for experience works that hope. "Therefore, says James, "Let patience have its perfect work," James 1:4. It made the saints' excellence; Here is the patience of the saints, Rev 13:10. It is joined with the kingdom of Christ, Rev 1:9 . Read Luke 21:19: In patience possess your souls. Rom 12:12, Rom 15: 4, 2 Cor 6:4 , 1 Thes 5:14. Be patient towards all men. Tit 2:2, Heb 6:12, Heb 10:36, which shows the excellence and necessity of patience, as the true dignity of a man shows patience. It is wise, and will give you great advantage over those you converse with, on all accounts. For passion blinds men's eyes, and betrays men's weakness; patience sees the advantage and improves it. Patience inquires, deliberates, and brings to a mature judgment. Through your civil, as well as Christian course, you cannot act wisely and safely without it; therefore I recommend this blessed virtue to you.
Show mercy, whenever it is in your power; that is, forgive, pity, and help - signs of mercy. Mercy is one of the attributes of God, Gen 19:19, Exod 20:6, Psalm 86:15, Jer 3:12. It is exalted in the scripture above all his works and is a noble part of his image in man. God has recommended it, Hosea 12:6. Keep mercy and judgment, and wait on the Lord. God has shown it to man and made it his duty, Micah 6:8. He has showed you, Oh, man, what is good and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly, or to humble yourself to walk, with your God: a short but ample expression of God's love and man's duty, happy are you if you mind it; in which you see mercy is one of the noblest virtues. Christ has a blessing for them that have it: Blessed are the merciful for they shall find mercy, Matthew 5:7; a strong motive indeed. In Luke 6:35-36, he commands it. Be merciful, as your Father is merciful. He tells the Jews, who were so over righteous, but so very unmerciful, "learn what this means; I will have mercy and not sacrifice," Mat 9:13. He hit them in the eye. And in his parable of the lord and his servants, he shows what will be the end of the unmerciful steward, Mat 18:34-35, that having been forgiven much by his master would not forgive a little to his fellow-servant. Mercy is a great part of God's law, Exod 20:6. It is a material part of God's true fast, Isaiah 58:6,7. It is a main part of God's covenant, Jer 31:34. Heb 8:12. And the reason and rule of the last judgment, Mat 25:31, to the end: please read it. It is a part of the undefiled religion, James 1:27, James 3:17. Read Prov 14:21-22. But the merciful man's mercy reaches farther, even to his beast; then surely to man, his fellow-creature, he shall not lack it. Therefore, I charge you, oppress nobody, man nor beast. Take no advantage upon the unhappy; pity the afflicted; make their case your own, and that of their wives and poor innocent children the condition of yours, and you will have no lack of sympathy, bowels, forgiveness, or a disposition to help and succor them to your ability. Remember it is the way for you to be forgiven and helped in time of trial. Read the Lord's prayer, Luke 11:1-4. Remember the nature and goodness of Joseph to his brethren; follow the example of the good Samaritan, and let Edom's unkindness to Jacob's stock, Obadiah 1:10-16 , and the Heathen's to Israel, Zechariah 1:21. Zechariah 2:8,9, be a warning to you. Read also Prov 25:21,22. Rom 12:19,20.
Charity is a near neighbor to mercy. It is generally taken to consist in this, Not to be censorious, and to relieve the poor. For the first, remember you must be judged, Matthew 7:1. And for the last, remember you are but stewards. "Judge not, therefore, lest you be judged." Be clear yourselves, before you fling the stone. Get the beam out of your own eye; it is humbling doctrine, but safe. Judge, therefore, at your own peril; see that it is righteous judgment, as you will answer it to the great Judge. This part of charity also excludes whispering, backbiting tale-bearing, evil surmising, most pernicious follies and evils, of which beware. Read, 1 Cor 13. For the other part of charity, relieving the poor, it is a debt you owe to God; you have all you have or may enjoy, with the rent-charge upon it. The saying is, "He who gives to the poor, lends to the Lord:" but it may be said, not improperly, "The Lord lends to us to give to the poor." The poor are, at least partners by providence with you, and have a right you must not defraud them of. You have this privilege, indeed, when, what, and to whom; and yet, if you heed your guide, and observe the object, you will have a rule for that too.
I recommend little children, widows, infirm and aged persons chiefly to you; spare something out of your own belly, rather than let theirs go pinched. Avoid that great sin of needless expense on your person and on your houses, while the poor are hungry and naked. My bowels have often been moved, to see very aged and infirm people, but especially poor helpless children, lie all night, in bitter weather, at the threshold of doors, in the open streets, for lack of better lodging. I have made this reflection, "If you were so exposed, how hard would it be to endure!" The difference between our condition and theirs has drawn from me humble thanks to God, and great compassion supplying some to those poor creatures. Once more, be good to the poor: what do I say? Be just to them, and you will be good to yourselves; think it your duty, and do it religiously. Let the moving passage, Mat 25:35, to the end, live in your minds: I was an hungry, and thirsty, and naked, sick, and in prison, and you administered unto me, and the blessing that followed: also what he said to another sort, I was an hungry, and thirsty, and naked, and sick, and in prison, and you administered not unto me!" For a dreadful sentence follows to the hard-hearted world. Woe be to them that take the poor's pledge, Ezek 18:12-13, or eat up the poor's right. Oh, devour not their part! Less lay it out in vanity, or lays it up in bags, for it will curse the rest. Hear what the Psalmist says, Psalms 41. Blessed is he who considers the poor; the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble. The LORD will preserve him and keep him alive, And he will be blessed on the earth; You will not deliver him to the will of his enemies. The LORD will strengthen him on his bed of illness; You will sustain him on his sickbed. This is the reward of being faithful stewards and treasurers for the poor of the earth. Have a care of excuses; they are, I know, easily taken: but read Prov 3:27,28. "Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do it. Say not to your neighbor, Go, and come again, and tomorrow will give, when you have it by you. Also bear in mind Christ's doctrine, Mat 5:42. Give to him that asks you, and from him that would borrow of you, turn not you away. But above all, remember the poor woman, that gave her mite, which Christ preferred above all, because she gave all, but it was to God's treasury, Mark 12:42-44.
Liberality [of giving], or bounty, is a noble quality in man, possessed by few, yet praised by all; but the covetous dislike it because it reproaches their greed. In this liberality differs from charity, that she has sometimes other objects, and exceeds in proportion. For she will cast her eye on those who do not absolutely want, as well as those who do; and always outdoes necessities and services. She finds out virtue in a low degree, and exalts it. She eases their burden that labor hard to live; many kind and generous spells such find at her hand, that do not quite want, whom he thinks worthy. The decayed are sure to hear of her; she takes one child, and puts out another, to lighten the loads of overcharged parents; more, to the fatherless. She shows the value of services, in her rewards; and is never a debtor to kindnesses, but will be creditor on all accounts. Where another give six pence, the liberal man gives twenty; and returns double the tokens he receives. But liberality is moderate too; she is not extravagant, any more than she is greedy; for she hates Vanity Fair's feasts, as much as Pharisee's fasts; and as she is free, and not stiff, so she is plentiful, but not superfluous and extravagant. You will hear of her in all histories, especially in the scripture, the wisest as well as best of books; her excellence and reward are there. She is commanded and commended, Deut 15:3,4,7,8, and Psalm 37:21,26. The righteous shows mercy, and gives; and the good man is merciful and ever lends. He shows favor, and lends, and disperses abroad," Psalm 112:5,9. There is that scatters, and yet increases; and there is that withholds more than is correct, but it tenders to poverty; the liberal soul shall be fat, Prov 11:24-25. The bountiful eye shall be blessed: Prov 22:9. The churl and liberal man, are described, and a promise to the latter, that his liberality shall uphold him, Isa 32:78. Christ makes it a part of his religion, and the way to be the children of the highest (read Luke 6:34-35) to lend and not receive again, and this to enemies as well as friends; yes, to the unthankful, and to the evil; no exception made, no excuse admitted. The apostle Paul, 2 Cor 9:5,10, enjoins it, threatens the strait-handed, and promises the openhearted a liberal reward.
From your excess, practice generously giving to others -- particularly the poor. Luke 12:33, 2 Cor 9:9
Wherever, therefore, my dear children liberality is required of you, God enabling of you, sow not sparingly nor grudgingly but with a cheerful mind, and you shall not go without your reward; though that ought not to be your motive. But avoid a showy display of your liberality, for that is using virtue to vanity, which will run you to an extreme, and then to want; which begets greediness, and that avarice, the contrary extreme; as men may go westward till they come east, and travel till they, and those they left behind them, stand as opposite as up and down.
Justice or righteousness, is another attribute of God, Deut 32:4. Psalm 9: 7-8. Psalm 5:8. Dan 9:7, of large extent in the life and duty of man. Be just, therefore, in all things, to all: to God, as your Creator, render to him what is his - your hearts; for that ownership he has reserved to himself, by which you are entitled to the comforts of this and a better life. And if he has our hearts, you have him for your treasure and with him all things required for our happiness. Render also to Caesar what is his, lawful subjection; not for fear only, but conscience-sake. To parents, a filial love and obedience. To one another, natural affection. Treat all people as you would be treated by them. Hurt no man's name or person. Covet no man's property of any sort. Consider well of David's tenderness to Saul, when he sought his life to excite your duty; and Ahab's unjust covetousness, and murder of Naboth, to provoke your abhorrence of injustice. David, though anointed king, took no advantages; he believed, and therefore did not make haste, but left it to God, to conclude Saul's reign, for he would not hasten it. A right method and a good end, my dear children; God has shown it you, and requires it of you.
Remember the Law. It was God who gave it; and who will judge you by it. It comprehends restitution as well as acquisition and especially the poor man's wages, Lev 19:13, Deut 24:14,15. Jer 22:13. Amos 5:11. Mal 3:5. Samuel is a great and good example of righteousness, 1 Sam 12:3. He challenged the whole house of Israel, as to naming any, whom he had oppressed or defrauded. The like did the apostle to the Corinthians, 2 Cor 7:2. He exhorted the Christians to be careful that they did not defraud anyone, 1 Thes 4:6. For this reason, that God was the avenger of the injured. However serious an injustice received, there must be no going to the civil courts among Christians, 1 Cor 6:7. To your utmost power, therefore, owe no one anything but love and that in prudence as well as righteousness for justice gives you reputation and adds a blessing to your substance; it is the best security you can have for it.
I will close this topic with a few-sculptures to each branch.
To your superiors: Submit ourselves to every ordinance of man, for the Lord's sake, 1 Peter 2:13. Obey those who have the rule over you, Heb 13:17. Speak not evil of dignities, Jude 1:8. 2 Peter 2:10. My son, fear the Lord and the king and meddle not with them that are given to change, Prov 24:21. To your parents: Honor your father and your mother that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God shall give you, Exod 20:12. Children, obey your parents, it is the first command with promise, Eph 6:1-2. Great judgments follow those who disobey this law, and defraud their parents of their due. Who robs his father or his mother and said, It is no transgression, the same is the companion of a destroyer, Prov 28:24. Or such would destroy their parent if they could. It is charged by the prophet Ezekiel upon Jerusalem, as a mark of her wicked state: In you have your princes set lightly by father and mother, oppressed strangers, and vexed fatherless and widows, Ezek 22:6-7. To your neighbor: hear what God's servants taught. To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the Lord, than sacrifice, Prov 21:3.
Several different weights and measures are also an abomination unto the Lord," Levi 19:36. Deut 25:13-16, inclusive. Prov 11:1. Prov 20:10,23. Read Prov 22:16, 22,23. Prov 23:10,11. Peruse Micah 6, also Zechariah 8:16,17, and especially Psalm 15, as a short, but full, measure of life, to give acceptance with God.
I have only said a little to you about distributing justice, or being just in power or government; for I should desire you may never be concerned in this, unless it is based on your own principles; and then the less the better, unless God requires it from you. But if it ever is our lot, consider no man based on his flesh; know neither rich nor poor, great nor small, nor kindred, nor stranger, but consider the cause, according to our understanding and conscience, based upon deliberate inquiry and information. Read Exod 23:1-10. Deut 1:16-17. Deut 16:19-20. Deut 24:17. 2 Sam 23:3. Jer 22:3-4. Prov 24:23. Lam 3:35-36. Hosea 12:6. Amos 8:4-8. Zeph 2:3. Zeph 3:1,3. Zechariah 7:9-10. Jer 5:4-6 and Jer 8:6-7, which show both God's commands and complaints; and man's duty in authority; which, as I said before, wave industriously at all times. For privacy is free from the clamor, danger, encumbrance and temptation, that attend stations in government; never meddle with it, unless it is for God's sake.
Integrity, is a great and commendable virtue. A man of integrity is a true man, a bold man, and a steady man; he is to be trusted and relied upon. No bribe can corrupt him; no fear daunt him, his word is slow in coming, but sure. He shines brightest in the fire, and his friend hear of him most in time of his friend's greatest need. His courage grows with danger, and conquers opposition by faithful consistency. Just as he cannot be flattered or frightened into doing what he dislikes, so he hates flattery and evasive delay in others. He runs with truth, and not with the times; with right, and not with might. His rule is straight; soon seen, but seldom followed; it has done great things. It was integrity that preferred Abel's offering, translated Enoch, saved Noah, raised Abraham to be God's friend, and father of a great nation, rescued Lot out of Sodom, blessed and increased Jacob, kept and exalted Joseph, upheld and restored Job, honored Samuel before Israel, crowned David over all difficulties, and gave Solomon peace and glory, while he kept it. It was integrity that preserved Mordecai and his people, and so signally defended Daniel among the lions, and the children in the flames, that it drew from the greatest king upon earth and an heathen too, a most pathetical confession to the power and wisdom of the God that saved them, and whom they served. Thus is the scripture fulfilled, The integrity of the upright shall guide them, Prov 11:3. Oh, my dear children! Fear, love, and obey this great, holy, and unchangeable God, and you shall be happily guided, and preserved through your pilgrimage* to eternal glory.
Gratitude, or thankfulness, is another virtue of great luster, and so esteemed by God and all good men. It is an acknowledging of benefits received, to the honor and service of those who confer them. Indeed it is a noble sort of justice and in a sense might be referred as a branch to justice, though with this difference: that since benefits exceed justice, the tie is greater to be grateful than to be just; and consequently there is something baser, and more reproachful in ingratitude than injustice. So that although you are not obliged or legally bound by judgments to restitution with due interest, your virtue, honor, and humanity bind you to being thankful; and the less you are externally bound, the more your inward ties are valued as stronger. Those who can break them, would know no bounds; for it is a truth that with no fear of the law, the ungrateful would be unjust too. Always acknowledge, therefore, the benefits you receive; and then choose how the benefits received may most honor or serve those who conferred them. Some have lived to need the return of favors they have done, they should not be required to ask, when they should have been volunteered. No matter if they have nothing to show for it; they show enough, when they expose their need to those they have obliged; and such see enough to induce their gratitude, when they see their benefactors in adversity. The less law, the more grace, and the stronger tie. It is an evangelical virtue, and works as faith does, only by love. In this way it exactly resembles the Christian state: we are not under the law, but under grace, and it is by grace, and not by merit, that we are saved. But are our obligations the less to God because he heaps his favors so undeservedly upon us? Surely not. It is the same here; what we receive is not owed, or compelled, but freely given; so there is no tie except choice, a voluntary goodness without bargain or condition; but is there no resulting security? Yes, certainly, the greatest; a judgment written and acknowledged in the mind; he is his to the altar with a good conscience; but how long? As long as he lives. The characters of gratitude, like those of friendship are only defaced by death, else indelible. A friend loves at all times, says Solomon, Prov 17:17. And your own friend and your father's friend do not forsake. Prov 27:10. It is injustice, which make gratitude a precept. There are three sorts of men that can hardly be grateful: the fearful man, for in danger he loses his heart, with which he should help his friend; the proud man, for he takes virtue for an object of contempt; and he who unwillingly remembers he owes anything to God, will also not readily remember he owes any gratitude to man. History lays it to the charge of some of this sort of great men, that, uneasy to see the authors of their greatness, have not been at rest, till they have accomplished the ruin of those who raised them. Lastly, the covetous man is as ill at it as the other two; his gold has spoiled his memory, and will not let him dare be grateful, though perhaps he owes the best part, at least the beginning of it, to another's favor. As there is nothing more unworthy in a man, so nothing in man is so frequently reproached in the Scripture. How often does God put the Jews in mind for their forgetfulness and unthankfulness for the mercies and favor they received from him, read Deut 32:15, "Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked against God, grew unmindful, forgot and forsook his Rock, that had done mighty things for him." Thus Moses, Deut 31:16,17. Also Judges 10:11-13. and 1 Sam 8:8. David likewise, in his Psalms 78, Psalms 105, Psalms 106, gives a history of God's love to Israel, and their ingratitude. So Isaiah 17:1-11. Likewise Jer 2:31-32, Jer 5:7-20, Jer 15:6, Jer 16:10-12,20-21, Jer 18:15, Hosea 8:9. It is a mark of apostasy from Christianity, by the apostle, 2 Tim 3:2.
Diligence is another virtue, useful and laudable among men. It is a discreet and understanding application of one's self to business; and avoids the extremes of both idleness and drudgery. It gives great advantages to men. It loses no time, it conquers difficulties, recovers disappointments, gives dispatch, supplies want of parts; and is that to them, which a pond is to a spring; though it has no water of itself, it will keep what it gets, and is never dry. Though that has the heels, this has the wind; and often wins the prize. Nor does it only concern business and bodily affairs; the mind is also engaged, and grows foul rusty, and distempered without it. It belongs to you, throughout your whole man. Be no more sauntering, in your minds than in your bodies. And if you would have the full benefit of this virtue, do not balk it by a confused mind. Shun diversions; think only of the present business till that is done. Be busy to purpose; for a busy man, and a man of business, are two different things. Lay your matter right, and diligence succeeds them; else pains are lost. How laborious are some to no purpose! Consider your end well, suit your resources to it, and then diligently employ them, and you arrive where you desire to go, with God's blessing. Solomon praises diligence very highly. First, it is the way to wealth: The diligent hand makes rich, Prov 10:4. The soul of the diligent shall be made fat, Prov 13:4. There is a promise to it, and one of another sort to the sluggard, Prov 23:21 Secondly, it prefers men, Prov 23:29. See you a man diligent in his business, he shall stand before kings. Thirdly, it preserves an estate: Know well the face of your flocks; set your heart on your herds; for riches are not forever, Prov 27:23-24. There is no living, upon the principal [of an estate]; you must be diligent to preserve what you have whether it is acquisition or inheritance; otherwise it will be consumed. [You must use your estate to generate what to live on.] In short, the wise man advises, Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might. Eccl 9:10. As diligence changes our material state, the spiritual state cannot can be obtained or kept without it. Moses earnestly presses it upon the Israelites, Deut 4:9. and Deut 6:7. The apostle Paul commends it in the Corinthians, and Titus to them for that reason, 2 Cor 8:7,22. So he does Timothy to the Philippians on the same account, and urges them to work out their salvation, Philippians 2:12,20,21. Peter also exhorts the churches to that purpose: Wherefore the rather, brethren, says he, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if you do these things you shall never fail, 2 Peter 1:10. and in 2 Peter 3:14. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that you look for such things (the end of the world and the last judgment), be diligent that you may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. Thus diligence is an approved virtue; but remember, that is a reasonable pursuit or execution of honest purposes, and not an overcharging, or oppressive prosecution, to mind or body, of most lawful enterprises. Abuse it not therefore, to ambition or avarice. Let necessity, charity, and convenience govern it, and it will be well employed, and you may expect prosperous returns.
Frugality is a virtue too, and not of little use in life; the better way to be rich, for it has less toil and temptation. It is proverbial, "A penny saved is a penny earned:*" it has a significant moral; for this way of getting is more in your own power, and less subject to hazard, as well as snares, free of envy, void of suits, and anticipates calamities. For many get, that cannot keep; and for want of frugality, spend what they get, and so come to want what they have spent. But have a care of the extreme: want not with abundance, for that is avarice, even to greed. It is proper for you conserve for children, age, and casualties; but never pretend those things, to palliate and gratify covetousness. As I would have you liberal, but not recklessly wasteful; and diligent, but not one who works to excess; so I would have you frugal, but not greedy. If you can, lay up one half of your income for contingencies; in which let charity have at least the second consideration; but not Judas's, for that was in the wrong place.
Temperance (or self-control) I most earnestly recommend to you, throughout the whole course of your life; it is numbered among the fruits of the spirit, Gal 5:23, and is a great and requisite virtue. Properly and strictly speaking, it refers to diet; but in general may be considered as having relation to all the affections and practices of men. I will therefore begin with it in regard to food, the sense in which it is customarily taken. Eat to live, and not live to eat, for that is below a beast. Avoid curiosities [new taste sensations] and provocations; let you principal sauce be a good stomach, which temperance will help you obtain. You cannot be too plain in your diet, so that you remain clean; nor too sparing, so you have enough for nature. For what keeps the body low, makes the spirit clear; as silence makes it strong. It conduces to good digestion, that to good rest, and that to a firm constitution. Much less provide feasts of food for anyone, except for the poor; as Christ taught, Luke 14:12,13. For entertainments are rarely without sin; but receive strangers readily. As in diet, so in apparel, observe and maintain an exemplary plainness in dress. Choose your clothes for their usefulness, not for the fashion; and for covering, and not finery, or to please a vain mind, in yourselves or others. Those who think clothes can give beauty to man are fallen souls. Is not life is more than clothing . Matthew 6:25. Man cannot alter God's work, for man cannot give either life or body parts. When men underrate God's workmanship (I was going to say his image) compared to a tailor's invention [of clothing], they show little esteem for the wisdom and power of their Creator; gross folly and profanity! But do you, my dear children, call to mind who they were of old, that Jesus said, took so much care about what they should eat, drink, and put on. Were they not gentiles, heathens, and a people without God in the world? Read Matthew 6, and when you have done that, peruse those excellent passage of the apostles Paul and Peter, 1 Tim 2:9,10 and 1 Peter 3:3-5. There you will find the exhortation to women only, an effeminate preoccupation, and therefore a shame for men to use such arts and cost [of elegant and costly apparel] upon themselves. Follow the example of those primitive Christians, instead of sensual gentiles, who perverted the natural order of things; for they set lust above nature and the means above the end, and preferred vanity to convenience; an unrestrained excess, which has no sense of God's mercies, and therefore cannot make a right use of them, much less yield the returns they deserve. In short, these intemperances are great enemies to health and to posterity; for they disease the body, rob children, and disappoint charity and are of evil example; very appealing, as well as pernicious evils. Nor do they end there; they are succeeded by other vices, which made the apostle put them together in his epistle to the Galatians 5:20,21. The evil fruits of this part of unrestrained self-control, are so many and great, that, upon a serious reflection, I believe there is not a country, town or family, almost, that does not labor under the mischief of it. I recommend to your perusal the first part of "No Cross, No Crown," and of the "Address to Protestants," in which I am more particular in my censure of it; as are the authorities I bring in favor of moderation. But the virtue of temperance does not only regard eating, drinking, and apparel, but furniture attendance, expense, gain, stinginess, business, diversion, company, speech, sleeping, watchings, and every passion of the mind, love, anger, pleasure, joy, sorrow, resentment, are all concerned in it. Therefore limit your desires - teach your wills subjection, taking Christ for your example as well as your guide. It was he that led and taught a life of faith in providence, and told his disciples the danger of the cares and pleasures of this world; they choked the seed of the kingdom, stifled and extinguished virtue in the soul, and rendered man barren of good fruit. His sermon upon the mount is one continued divine authority in favor of a universal temperance. The apostle, well aware of the necessity of this virtue, gave the Corinthians a seasonable caution. Don't you know not in a race, all run, but one receives the prize. So run, that you may obtain. And every man that strives for mastery (or seeks victory), is temperate in all things:" (he acts discreetly, and with a right judgment.) "Now, they do it to obtain a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, as not uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that breathes the air: but I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection; lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should become a castaway," 1 Cor 9:25,27. In another chapter he presses the temperance almost to indifference: But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remains then, that both they that have wives, be as though the had none; and those who weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice as though they rejoiced not; and they that use this world, as not abusing it. All this is not without reason; he gives a very good one for it: For the fashion of the world passes away; but I would have you without carefulness, 1 Cor 7:29-32. It was for this cause he pressed it so hard upon Titus to warn the elders of that time to be sober, grave, temperate, Tit 2:2, not eager, violent, obstinate, tenacious, or inordinate in any sort. He makes it an indispensable duty in pastors of churches, that they be not self willed, soon angry, given to wine or filthy lucre, but lovers of hospitality, of good men, sober, just holy, temperate,Tit 1:7-8. And why so? Because against these excellent virtues there is no law. Gal 5:22-23.
I will conclude this topic (having touched upon it in several places of this advice) with this one most comprehensive passage of the apostle, Phil 4:5. Let your moderation be known unto all men, for the Lord is at hand. As if he had said, "Take heed! Look to your ways! Have a care what you do! For the Lord is near you, even at the door; he sees you; he marks our steps, tells your wanderings, and he will judge you." Let this excellent, this home and close sentence live in your minds: let it ever dwell upon your spirits, my beloved children, and influence all your actions, yes, your affections and thoughts. It is a noble measure, sufficient to regulate the whole; they that have it, are easy as well as safe. No extreme prevails; the world is kept at arm's length, and such have power over their own spirits, which gives them the truest enjoyment of themselves and what they have; a dominion greater than that of empires. Oh, may this virtue be yours! You have grace from God for that end, and it is sufficient; employ it, and you cannot miss of temperance, nor within self-control, the truest happiness in all your conduct.
I have chosen to speak in the language of the scripture; which is that of the Holy Spirit, the spirit of truth and wisdom, that needed no art or direction of man to speak by, and express itself fitly to man's understanding. But yet that blessed principle, the Eternal Word, I began with to you, and which is that light, spirit, grace and truth, I have exhorted you to in all its holy appearances or manifestations in yourselves, by which all things were at first made and man enlightened to salvation, is:
who as they thus styled the eternal word, so for the appearance of it in man, they wanted not very significant words:
Of which you may read more in the first part of The Christian Quaker, and in the Confutation of Atheism, by Dr. Cudworth.
These are some of those virtuous Gentiles commended by the apostle, Rom 2:13-15, who though they had not the law given to them, as the Jews had, with those instrumental helps and advantages, yet doing by nature the things contained in the law, they became a law unto themselves.
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