Some Fruits of Solitude In Reflections
Site Editors Preface
These Reflections and Maxims were written in a strange time for William Penn. He was virtually confined to his home because he had been accused of plotting against William and Mary, when they had succeeded his friend, King James II, to the throne of England. Penn had been a courtier in James' court, performing as the sole lobbyist of influence for the Quakers, including securing the freedom of 1300 Quakers from prison, some of whom had been in prison for 12-15 years. He stressed with the King freedom of religion, and could not in good conscience, suggest such freedoms be denied to those of the Roman Catholic faith; so he supported freedom for Catholics too - leading to widespread opinions that he was a Jesuit in disguise. When the King went too far in promoting the influence of Catholics, the whole country revolted, replaced him, and condemned Penn to be his accomplice. Penn went promptly to King William and plainly explained he was personally fond of King James, but in no way supported any plots or plans for his return. William was convinced of Penn's innocence, but his angry council resisted letting Penn completely off the hook, so they sent him to the solitude of his home.
As with Paul in prison, and Fox in prison, Penn's gentle confinement gave him three years of peace and quiet - which he had never experienced the privilege of before, and as the Lord's servant and friend, he wrote prodigiously; including the following, which has been updated to current language and clarified, where needed to easily understand his excellent observations.
Reader - I present you with this manual, the Fruit of Solitude, a school few care to learn in, though nothing instructs us better than solitude. Some parts of this manual are the result of serious reflection, others the flashes of lucid intervals, written for private satisfaction, and now published as a help to human conduct.
I blessed God for the retirement given to me, and kiss the gentle hand which led me into it, for if this writing should prove barren to the world, it can never be so to me.
I have now had some time that I can call my own; a property I was never so much master of before, in which I have taken a view of myself and the world; and observed how I have hit and missed the mark; what might have been done, what mended, and what avoided in this human conduct; together with the omissions and excesses of others, as well societies and governments, as private families, and persons. And I truly think, were I to live over this life again, I could not only, with God's grace, serve Him, but my neighbor and himself, better than I have done, and have seven years of my time to spare. And yet perhaps I have not been the worst or the idlest man in the world; nor am I the oldest. All this is said so that it might enliven, you, reader, to lose none of the time that is yet yours.
There is nothing of which we are likely to be so wasteful of, as time; and about which we ought to be more careful; since without it we can do nothing in this world. Time is what we want most, but unfortunately, what we use worst; and for which God will certainly most strictly hold us to account, when time shall be no more.
It is of that moment to us, in reference to both worlds, that I can hardly wish any man better, than that he would seriously consider what he does with his time; how and to what ends he employs it; and what returns he makes to God, his neighbor and himself for it. Will a man never keep track of his time? This tracking of time is the greatest wisdom and work of life.
To come but once into the world, and trifle away our true enjoyment of it, and of ourselves in it, is lamentable indeed. This one reflection would yield a thinking person great instruction. And since nothing below man can so think; man, in being thoughtless, must necessarily fall below himself. And that, to be sure, they do, who as are unconcerned in the use of their most precious time.
Site Editor's Comment: Penn speaks of true enjoyment. Most people think seeking God is to give up enjoyment, to become dour and weighted. But, in truth, to find union with God exceeds all joys and pleasures of the world. But these joys and pleasures are not detailed - for God wants us to come to him in love of truth, in love for our unseen creator, in a desire to please him - not to obtain a specified, visible reward. The rewards are there, but must be sought in faith of his goodness, and confidence in his general promises. You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
A withdrawal from the world for a period of solitude can be helpful to see the world more clearly as it is. From the Lord: "withdraw from the world long enough to see the inconsideration and hate within it." And, "withdraw from your sect, not out of pride and prejudice, but separate yourself long enough to see its false rulings."
This is but too evident, if we will allow ourselves to consider, that there is hardly anything we approach correctly, or improve it to its just advantage.
We understand little of the works of God, either in nature or grace. We pursue false knowledge, and misuse education extremely. We are violent in our affections, confused and without method in our whole life; making life a burden, which was given for a blessing; and so of little comfort to ourselves or others; failing to comprehend the true notion of happiness, and so missing of the right use of life, and way of happy living.
And until we are persuaded to stop, and step a little aside, out of the noisy crowd and encumbering hurry of the world, and calmly take a prospect of things, it is impossible to make a right judgment of ourselves or know our own misery. But after we have made the just considerations which retirement will help us to do, we shall begin to think the world in great measure mad, and that we have been in a sort of bedlam all this while.
Reader, whether young or old, do not think it is too soon or too late to turn over the pages of your past life; and be sure to fold down where any passage of it may affect you; and dedicate your remainder of time, to correct those faults in your future conduct, whether in relation to this or the next life. What you would do, if what you were to have it to do again, be sure to do as long as you live, in similar circumstances.
Our resolutions seem to be vigorous, as often as we reflect upon our past errors. But, alas! Our resolve is likely to evaporate again upon fresh temptations to the same things.
I does not pretend to deliver you an exact piece. My business is not to boast, but to love. This work is miscellaneous in the subjects of it, and by no means artificial in the composure. But it contains hints, that may serve you for texts to preach to yourself about, and which comprehend much of the course of human life. Since whether you are a parent or child, a prince or subject, a master or servant, single or married, public or private, low class or high class, rich or poor, prosperous or impoverished, in peace or controversy, in business or solitude; whatever your inclination or aversion, practice or duty is, you will find something suitably said for your direction and advantage. Accept and improve what deserves your notice. The rest excuse, and place to account of good will to you and the whole creation of God.
1. It is worthy to consider how many millions of people come into, and go out of the world, ignorant of themselves, and of the world they have lived in.
2. If one went to see Windsor Castle, or Hampton Court, it would be strange not to observe and remember the situation, the building, the gardens, fountains, etc., that make up the beauty and pleasure of such a place. And yet few people know themselves. No, not their own bodies, the houses of their minds, the most curious structure of the world - a living walking tabernacle. Nor do they know the world of which it was made, and out of which it is fed; which would be so much to our benefit, as well as to our pleasure, to know. We cannot doubt this, when we are told that the invisible things of God are brought to light by the things that are seen; and consequently we read our duty in them as often as we look upon them; a duty to him that is the great and wise author-creator of them, if we only looked properly.
3. The world is certainly a great and stately volume of natural things; and can be properly styled the hieroglyphics of a better world. But, alas! how very few leaves [of the world's book] of it do we seriously turn the pages of! This ought to be the subject of the education of our youth, who, at twenty, when they should be fit for business, know little or nothing of it.
4. We go to great trouble to make them scholars, but not men! To talk, rather than to know, which is true speech.
5. The first thing obvious to children is what is sensible; and we don't make that part of their basic education.
6. We press their memory too soon, and puzzle, strain, and load them with words and rules; to know grammar and rhetoric, and a strange language or two, which until they reach about age ten would never be useful to them; leaving their natural genius to mechanical and physical, or natural knowledge uncultivated and neglected; which would be of great use and pleasure to them through the whole course of their life.
7. To be sure, languages are not to be despised or neglected, but other things are still more important.
8. Children should rather be making of tools and instruments of play: shaping, drawing, framing, and building, etc. than getting some rules of propriety of speech by heart. And those also would result in their more judgment, and less trouble and time.
9. It would be better if we studied nature more in natural things; and acted the way nature does; whose rules are few, plain and most reasonable.
10. Let us begin where nature begins, go at her pace, and close always where nature ends, and we cannot miss being good naturalists.
11. The creation would no longer be a riddle to us: the heavens, earth, and waters, with their relative, various and numerous inhabitants. Their productions, natures, seasons, sympathies and opposites; their use, benefit and pleasure, would be better understood by us. An eternal wisdom, power, majesty, and goodness, would be very conspicuous to us, through those sensible and passing forms. The world wearing the mark of its maker, whose stamp is visible everywhere, and the characters very legible to the children of wisdom.
12. That would go a long way to caution and direct people in their use of the world, if they were better studied and understanding in the creation of it.
13. For how could man find the confidence to abuse the things of the creation, when they could see the great creator stare them in the face, in all and every part of it?
14. Their ignorance makes them insensible, and that insensibility disrespectful in misusing this noble creation, that has the stamp and voice of a deity everywhere, and in everything to the observing.
15. Therefore it is a pity that books have not been composed for youth, by some curious and careful naturalists, and also craftsmen, to be used in schools, that they might learn things with words. Things obvious and familiar to them, and which would make any language easier to be learned by them.
16. Many able gardeners and husbandmen are still ignorant of the reason of their profession exists; as most artisans are of the reason of their own rules that govern their excellent workmanship. But a naturalist and craftsman before described is master of the reason of both, and might be of the practice too, if his industry kept pace with his understanding; which is commendable; and without which he cannot be said to be a complete naturalist or craftsman.
17. Finally, if man is the key or epitome of the world, as philosophers tell us, we have only to understand ourselves well to be educated in the creation. But because there is nothing we less regard than the qualities of the power that made us, which are so clearly written upon us and the world he has given us, and can best tell us what we are and should be, we are even strangers to our own genius. Our own genius mirrors that we should see the true instruction and that agrees with what can be observed in nature, to the admiration of that wisdom, and adoration of that Power which made us all.
18. And yet we are very likely to be full of ourselves, instead of Him that made what we so much value; and, except for Him we can have no reason to value ourselves. For we have nothing that we can call our own; no, not even ourselves. For we are all only tenants, (at the will of the great Lord of ourselves), of this great farm, the world that we live upon.
19. But I think we cannot perform what is required for ourselves or for our Maker, in living and dying ignorant of what we are, and thereby ignorant of our creator and the obligations we are under to Him for ourselves.
20. If the value of a gift values the obligation, and directs the return of the person who receives it; he that is ignorant of the gift with its value, has no appreciation of the gift or the Giver.
21. Here is man in his ignorance of himself. He does not know how to estimate his Creator, because he does not know how to value his creation. If we consider his creatures, and lovely composition; the several levels of his lovely structure. If we see His various members, their order, function and dependency; the instruments of food, the vessels of digestion, the several changes it passes. And how nourishment is carried and diffused throughout the whole body, by most innate and imperceptible passages. How the animal spirit is refreshed by this, and with an unspeakable externality and motion sets all parts at work to feed themselves. And last of all, how the rational soul is seated in the animal, as its proper house, as is the animal in the body. I say if this rare fabric alone were only considered by us, with all the rest by which it is fed and comforted, surely man would have a more reverent sense of the power, wisdom and goodness of God, and of that duty he owes to Him for it. If he would become acquainted with his own soul, its noble faculties, its union with the body, its nature and end, and the providences by which the whole frame of humanity is preserved, he would admire and adore his good and great God. But man has become a strange contradiction to himself; by being corrupted, not by his nature but by himself.
Site Editor's Comment : Penn has described what today is argued as intelligent design. Today the problem is worse. The schools teach evolution; telling us that we and everything we see is an accident, ignoring the million interlocking patterns of the designer of the world; as well as ignoring the absent evidence of the necessary countless unsurviving random evolutions of things, our complex world illogically being the sole evidence of random evolution. This leads a child to reject that there is even a God, and any study of nature without any appreciation of its maker, including ourselves. If we truly recognize that we are a created being, then our natural curiosity eventually leads us to seek understanding of who he is and what he requires of us, his created being.
22. Man would have others obey him, even his own kind; but he will not obey God, who is so much above him, and who made him.
23. Man will lose none of his authority; no, he will not give up a bit of it. He is ill natured to his wife, he beats his children, is angry with his servants, strict with his neighbors, revenges all affronts to the extreme. But, alas, he forgets all the while that he is the man; and is more in debt to God, who is so very patient with him, than they [wife, children, etc.] are to him, with whom he is so strict and impatient.
24. He is diligent to wash, dress, and perfume his body, but careless of his soul. The one shall have many hours, the other not so many minutes. The body shall have three or four new suits in a year, but the soul must wear its old clothes still.
25. If he is to receive or see a great man, how careful and anxious is he that all things are in order? And with what respect and flattery does he approach the great man? But to God, how dry and formal and constrained in his devotion?
26. In his prayers he says, thy will be done; but means his own. At least he acts his own will.
27. It is all too frequent for man to begin with God and end in the world. But God is the good man's beginning and end; his Alpha and Omega.
28. Our delicacy has now become such, that we will not eat ordinary meat, nor drink weak liquor; we must have the best, and the best cooked for our bodies, while our souls feed on empty or corrupted things.
29. In short, man is spending all on an empty house, and has little or no furniture within to show for it; which is preferring the jewel box more than the jewel, a lease of seven years before a lifetime inheritance. Despite all his proud pretences to wisdom and understanding, man is absurd.
30. The lack of due consideration is the cause of all the unhappiness man brings upon himself. For his second thoughts rarely agree with his first, which result in considerable curtailing or correction. And yet that sensible warning [of the fallibility in his thinking] is, too frequently, not precaution enough to change his future conduct towards true importance.
31. We are victims of our own making; since we do even what we know is wrong.
Disappointment And Resignation
32. As for disappointments that come not by our own foolish making, they are the trials or corrections of heaven. And it is our own fault, if they do not prove to our advantage, [if we do not wake up and take stock as to why we are being corrected].
33. To complain about our troubles does not change them. It is only to grumble at our creator. But to see the hand of God in them, with a humble submission to his will, is the way to turn our water into wine, and engage the greatest love and mercy on our side.
34. We only disturb ourselves, if we only look at our losses. But if we consider how little we deserve what we have, our passion will cool, and our murmurs will turn into thankfulness.
35. If our hairs do not fall to the ground, we or our goods will not fall without God's providing for us.
36. Nor can we fall below the arms of God, however low we fall.
37. For though our savior's passion is over, his compassion is not. His compassion never fails his humble, sincere disciples. In him, they find more than all that they lose in the World.
38. Is it reasonable to be offended, when someone requires from us something [our possessions, our souls] that they truly own? All that we have is the Almighty's. And shall not God have what he owns when he asks for it?
39. To be unhappy when the owner asks for return is not only being ungrateful, but unjust. For we are both unthankful for the time we had it, and not honest enough to restore it, trying to retain it.
40. But it is hard for us to look on things in such a mirror, and at such a distance from this low world; and yet it is our duty, and would be our wisdom and our glory to do so.
41. We are quick at criticizing others, but cannot take criticism ourselves. And nothing shows our weakness more than to be so sharp-sighted at seeing other men's faults; while being blind to our own.
42. When we look at the actions of a neighbor, we are very smart, are so quick and critical we can split a hair, and discover their every failure and weakness. But we are without feeling, or have very little understanding of our own failings.
43. Much of this comes from being bad tempered, as well as from an inordinate value of ourselves. For we love looking at others better than ourselves, and blaming those who are unhappy, rather than protecting and relieving them.
44. On occasions of others' misfortunes, some show their malice, and are cleverly critical. Others show their justice, they can reflect fairly. But few or none show their kindness; especially if it requires money.
45. You shall see an old miser come forth with a set gravity, and so much severity against the distressed, (to excuse having to open his purse), that he will, whatever he has done, put it out of all question. He thinks riches are evidence of righteousness. Your problem, says he, is the fruit of your wastefulness (as if, poor man, covetousness were no fault); or, of your various projects, or grasping after a great trade; while he himself would have done the same thing, if he had the courage to venture so much ready money out of his own trusty hands, even though it had brought him back the Indies [an entire part of the world] in return. But the Proverb is just, vice should not correct sin.
46. They, who have a heart to help, have a right to to censure. The rest is cruelty, not justice.
Bounds Of Charity
47. Lend not beyond your ability, nor refuse to lend within your ability; especially when it will help others more than it can hurt you.
48. If your debtor is honest and capable, you will have your money again, if not with increase, with praise from your maker. If your debtor proves insolvent, don't ruin him to get that, which it will not ruin you to lose. For you are only a steward, and another is your owner, Master and judge.
49. The more merciful acts you do, the more mercy you will receive; and if with a charitable employment of your temporal riches, you gain eternal treasure, your purchase is infinite. You will have found the art of multiplying true treasure [heavenly] indeed.
Frugality Or Bounty
50. Frugality is good if accompanied by liberality. Frugality avoids unnecessary expenses; liberality gives to others that are in need. Frugality without liberality produces covetousness; liberality without frugality produces reckless waste. Both together make an excellent mixture. Wherever this mixture exists, happiness is found.
51. If this excellent mixture were universal, we would be cured of two extremes, poverty and excess; and the one would supply the other, and so bring both nearer to an equality; the just degree of earthly happiness.
52. It is shame to religion and government to allow so much poverty and excess. [Penn speaks of a time when government had little to no role in relief of the poor and needy; and fails to give priority to religion - the voluntary sharing, vs. government - the forced sharing].
53. Were the extreme excesses of a nation valued, and as a perpetual tax or benevolence, there would be more housing for the poor than poor to live in; more schools than scholars; and enough to spare for government besides.
Site Editor's Comments : The time of Penn was one of extreme poverty and extremely rich. To put the poverty in perspective, of which he is speaking, consider this statement of the Quaker's care for the poor from Fox's Journal:
Sometimes there would be two hundred of the poor of other people to come and wait until the meeting was done, for all the country knew we met about the poor; and after the meeting, Friends would send to the bakers for bread, and give everyone of those poor people a loaf, however many there were of them; for we were taught 'to do good to all, though especially to the household of faith.'
Now ask yourself this question: Of the poor you know today, how many would walk one block, much less the miles that were likely walked above, and then patiently wait until the meeting was over, all for a free loaf of bread? Poverty is a relative term. The poor of the 21st Century's industrialized nations would not be called impoverished by the standards of Penn's time. The poor starved. The poor died for lack of food and medical assistance. The poor froze to death on the streets. The handicapped had no assistance from the government. The old had no assistance. Poor was poor. While the rich sat in solid silver chairs. A different time, different problems.
54. Entertainment of guests is good, if the poor are the recipients of our bounty; to entertain the rich is too near to being a wasteful excess.
Site Editor's Comment : Jesus said: “When you give a dinner or a supper, do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor rich neighbors, lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” George Fox tells us in Letter 302:
So here you may see how Christ ordered you to make a feast or a dinner,
and to whom, contrary to the world;
and though it is a cross to them, yet it is to be obeyed, and observed,
for it is the heavenly man's doctrine, and command, and will
and he that does it shall know his doctrine;
and this will judge the world in their vain feasts, dinners, and suppers,
which they make for the rich, for which they have self-reward.
But Christ's command being obeyed, denies self,
and has the Lord's recompense;
and all that call him Lord, should do as the Lord commanded;
and they that are his disciples, and do love him, will keep his commands;
for said Christ, "If you love those who love you, what thank have
For sinners also love those who love them.
And if you do good to those who do good to you, what thank have you?
For sinners also do even the same. So give and it shall be given unto
Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over into your
and the Lord is kind to the unthankful, and therefore,
"be you merciful, as your heavenly Father is merciful" Luke
And therefore as you have forsaken all the world's vain feastings, dinners,
(if so), give the blind, the lame, the maimed, the widow, the fatherless,
and the poor,
a feast or a dinner, and obey Christ, the heavenly man's doctrine,
though it do cross old earthly Adam's will and practices;
and though he is angry, never heed him, but obey the Lord.
This is a hard part of the cross, but with a promised reward - worth the hardship!
55. If you desire to be happy and at peace in your family, above all things observe discipline.
56. Everyone in the family should know their duty; and there should be a time and place for everything; and whatever else is done or omitted, be sure to begin and end with God.
57. Love labor. For if you do not need to labor for food, you may labor as a type of medicine. Labor is wholesome for your body, and good for your mind. It prevents the fruits of idleness, which many times comes of nothing to do, and leads too many to do what is worse than nothing.
58. A garden, a laboratory, a work shop, improvements, and breeding [of their animals] are pleasant and profitable diversions to the idle and ingenious. In such occupations of time, they avoid bad company, and converse with nature and art; whose variety are equally grateful and instructing; and preserve a good constitution of body and mind.
59. To this a spare diet contributes much. Eat therefore to live, and do not live to eat; which is like a man, but is below a beast.
60. Have wholesome, but not costly food, and rather cleanly than dainty in ordering it.
61. The varieties of cooking have increased greatly, but a good stomach [ease of digestion] excels them all; to which nothing contributes more than industry and temperance.
62. It is a cruel folly to waste the lives of creatures to serve a vain display of foods, to treat ourselves; just as as it is wasteful to spend more for the sauce than for the meat. [French cooking was becoming a problem with its emphasis on the sauces and gravies, more than the meat. The tail wagged the dog.]
63. The Proverb says: "That enough is as good as a feast;" but enough is certainly better, if extreme excess is a fault, which never fails to be at festivals.
64. If you rise with an appetite, you are sure never to sit down without one.
65. Rarely drink but when you are dry; nor then, between meals, if it can be avoided.
66. The weaker the drink, the clearer the head, and the cooler the blood; which are great benefits in temper and business.
67. Strong liquors are good at some times, and in small proportions; being better for medicine than food, for cordials than common use.
68. The most common things are the most useful; which shows both the wisdom and goodness of the great Lord of the family of the world.
69. What therefore he has made rare, don't you use too commonly; lest you should invert the use and order of things; become wanton and voluptuous; and your blessings prove a curse.
70. Let nothing be lost, said our savior. But what is misused is lost.
71. Neither ask another to do what you are unwilling to do yourself, nor do yourself what looks to you undesirable, and immoderate in another.
72. All excess is poor behavior, but drunkenness is of the worst sort. It spoils health, prevents good judgment, and unmans men. It reveals secrets, is quarrelsome, lustful, rude, dangerous and mad. In fact, he that is drunk is not a man because he is so long void of reason, which distinguishes a man from a beast.
73. Excess in apparel is another costly foolishness. The cost of the vain world's superfluous ornamentation would clothe all the naked of the world.
74. Chose your clothes by yours own eyes, not another's. The more plain and simple they are, the better. Neither poor fitting, nor with disfunctional decor; and for use and decency, and not for pride.
75. If you are clean and warm, it is sufficient; for more only robs the poor, and pleases the covetous nature.
76. It is said of the true Church, the King's daughter is all glorious within. Let our care therefore be of our minds more than of our bodies, if we would be of her communion.
77. We are told with truth, that meekness and modesty are the rich and charming attire of the soul; and the plainer the dress, the more distinctly, and with greater luster, their beauty shines.
78. It is great pity such beauties are so rare, and those of Jezebel's forehead are so common; whose dresses are incentives to lust; which inhibits instead of motivates, to love or virtue.
Site Editor's Comment: Somewhat related to sexual immorality, women must dress chastely. Provocative dress is poison to men; and if you would do unto others as you would have them do unto you, you will not expose your body to men to be "attractive" or "in style," for in doing so, you are only appealing to their unholy lusts. So keep your waist, hips, and chest covered; keep your dresses at a decent length; not burkas, but decent. From the Voice of the Lord: " dress as you would if attending a women's club." Dress simply, without flash. Likewise, men who are seeking must not encourage women's provocative dress and behavior with whistles, wows, stares, compliments, etc.
79. Never marry except for love; but see that you love what is lovely.
80. If love is not your principal motive, you will soon grow weary of a married state, and stray from your promise, to search out your pleasures in forbidden places.
81. Let not enjoyment lessen, but augment affection; it is the basest of passions to like when we have not, what we slight when we possess.
82. It is the difference between lust and love, that love is fixed, that lust is volatile. Love grows, lust wastes by enjoyment; and the reason is, that one springs from a union of souls, and the other from an union of sense.
83. Lusts have several originations, and so are of different families. Love is inward and deep, lusts are superficial; lusts are transient, and love is permanent.
84. They, who marry for money, cannot have the true satisfaction of marriage; the indispensable way is required.
85. Men are generally more careful in the selection of breeding mates for their horses and dogs than spouses for their children.
86. Mates for their animals must be of the best sort, for shape, strength, courage and good conditions. But as for their children, their own posterity; money shall answer all things. With money, it makes the crooked straight, sets squint-eyes right, cures madness, covers folly, changes ill conditions, mends the skin, gives a sweet breath, repairs honors, makes young, works wonders.
Site Editor's Comment : Today we don't usually marry for money, but not for love either, only looks. We are blind to the true qualities of a person: honesty, integrity, gentleness, a positive attitude, humility, faithfulness to their parents, etc. Beauty covers all faults. Consider the words wisdom of Penn, from No Cross No Crown:
Are you shapely, comely, beautiful - the exact draught of a human creature? Admire that Power that made you so. Live an harmonious life to the curious make and frame of your creation; and let the beauty of your body teach you to beautify your mind with holiness, the ornament of the beloved of God. Are you homely or deformed? Magnify that goodness that did not make you a beast; and with the grace that is given to you, for it has appeared to all, learn to adorn your soul with enduring beauty. Remember the King of heaven's daughter, the church, of which true Christians are members, is all glorious within. And if your soul excels, your body will only set off the lusts of your mind. Nothing is homely in God's sight but sin; and that man and woman that commune with their own hearts and sin not; who, in the light of holy Jesus, watch over the movings and inclinations of their own souls, and that suppress every evil in its conception, they love the yoke and Cross of Christ, and are daily by it crucified to the world, but live to God in that life which outlives the fading satisfactions of it.
87. Oh how mercenary has man become! Man, the noblest creature in the world, as a god on Earth, and the image of him that made it; thus to mistake Earth for Heaven, and worship gold for God!
88. Covetousness is the greatest of monsters, as well as the root of all evil. I have once seen the man that died to save money What! Give $100 to a doctor, and have a pharmacy bill besides, that may come to I know not what! No, not he: valuing life less than$200. But indeed such a man could not well set too low a price upon himself; who, though he lived up to the chin in money bags, had rather die than find in his heart to open one of them, to help to save his life.
89. Such a man is a suicide, and does not deserve a christian burial.
90. He is a common nuisance, a dam across the stream, that stops the current. An obstruction, to be removed by a purge of the law. The only gratification he gives his neighbors, is to let them see that he himself is as little the better for what he has, than they are. For he always looks like Lent: a sort of lay Minim, [one of an order of monks pledged to the observance of perpetual Lent]. In some sense he may be compared to Pharaoh's lean cows, for all that he has does him no good. He commonly wears his clothes until they leave him, or that no body else can wear them. He pretends to be thought poor, to escape robbery and taxes. By looking as if he wanted a handout, excusing himself from giving any. He always goes to markets late, to cover buying the worst [the leftovers]; but he does it because that is cheapest. He lives of the offal, [cuts of meat considered unfit for humans]. It is an unbearable punishment to live to any level of moderation except his own; and there is no greater torment to him on earth, than to live as other men do. But the misery of his pleasure is, that he is never satisfied with acquiring, and always in fear of losing what he cannot use.
91. How vilely has he lost himself, so that he becomes a slave to his money, and exalts it to the dignity of his Maker! Gold is the god, the wife, the friend of the money-monger of the world.
92. But in marriage be wise; prefer the person before money; virtue before beauty, the mind before the body. Then you have a wife, a friend, a companion, a second self; one that bears an equal share with you in all your toils and troubles.
93. Chose one that measures her satisfaction, safety and danger, by yours; and of whom you are sure, as of your most secret thoughts; a friend as well as a wife, which indeed a wife implies. For she is but half a wife that is not, or is not capable of being such a friend.
94. Sexes make no difference; since in souls there is none; and souls are the basis of friendship. [Penn is saying that sexual attraction is temporary, since in souls there are no sexes; as the Lord has told us that in heaven there are not male and female, for all are sons. Therefore do not seek to marry who is sexually attractive, for that is superficial to the heart, mind, and soul where true beauty lies.]
95. He that focuses on a body of a person and not their soul, does not have the better part of a relationship; and will consequently lack the noblest comfort of a married life.
96. The satisfaction of our senses is low, short, and transient; but the mind gives a more raised and extended pleasure, and is capable of a happiness founded on reason, not bounded and limited by the circumstances, which bodies are confined to.
97. Communion of the souls is what we ought to seek for our pleasure, where the field is large and full of variety, and of an enduring nature; sickness, poverty, or disgrace, is not able to shake it, because it is not under the moving influences of worldly contingencies.
98. The satisfaction of those, who do commune in their souls, is in well-doing, and in the assurance they have of a future reward; that they are best loved of those they love most, and that they enjoy and value the liberty of their minds above that of their bodies; having the whole creation for their prospect, the most noble and wonderful works and providences of God, the histories of the ancients, and in them the actions and examples of the virtuous; and lastly, themselves, their affairs and family, to exercise their minds and friendship upon.
99. Nothing can be more entire and without reserve; nothing more zealous, affectionate and sincere; nothing more contented and constant than such a couple; nor no greater worldly happiness than to be one of them.
100. Between a man and his wife, nothing ought to rule but love. Authority is for children and servants; yet not without sweetness.
101. As love ought to bring them together, so it is the best way to keep them well together.
102. Therefore do not use your wife as a servant, but rather like Jacob did, as one whom you would, perhaps, have served seven years to have obtained.
103. An husband and wife that love and value one another, show their children and servants, that they should do so too. Others visibly lose their authority in their families by their contempt of one another; and teach their children to be unnatural by their own example.
104. It is a general fault, not to be more careful to preserve nature in children; who, descending from their naturally born state, hardly have any feeling for their parents; which must be an unpleasant reflection to affectionate parents.
105. Frequent visits, presents, intimate correspondence, and intermarriages within allowed bounds, are means of keeping up the concern and affection that nature requires from relatives.
106. Friendship is the next pleasure we may hope for; and where we find it not at home, or have no home to find it in, we may seek it abroad. It is a union of spirits, a marriage of hearts, and the bond thereof virtue.
107. There can be no friendship where there is no freedom. Friendship loves a free air, and will not be penned up in straight and narrow enclosures. It will speak freely, and act so too; and take nothing ill where no ill is meant. No, where friendship is, it will easily forgive, and forget too, upon small admissions of error.
108. Friends are true twins in soul; they sympathize in everything, and have the love and aversion.
109. One is not happy without the other, nor can either of them be miserable alone. As if they could change bodies, they take their turns in pain as well as in pleasure; relieving one another in their most adverse conditions.
110. What one enjoys, the other cannot want. Like the primitive Christians, they have all things in common, and no property but in one another.
Qualities Of A Friend
111. A true friend speaks freely, advises justly, assists readily, adventures boldly, takes all patiently, defends courageously, and continues a friend unchangeably.
112. Since these are the qualities of a friend, before we chose a friend, we should insist on these qualities as qualification.
113. The covetous, the angry, the proud, the jealous, the talkative, cannot but make poor friends, as well false friends.
114. In short, chose a friend as you chose a wife, until death separates you.
115. Yet do not carry friendship beyond God's requirements, but let virtue bound your friendship; else it is not friendship, but an evil confederacy.
116. If my brother or relative will be my friend, I ought to prefer him before a stranger, or I show little duty or nature to my parents.
117. And as we ought to prefer our relatives in establishing affectionate friendship, they also should be the object of our charity, providing they are equal in need and deserving.
Caution And Conduct
118. Don't make friendships hastily, for fear of finding a reason to back off, making an enemy instead of a good neighbor.
119. Be reserved, but not sour; grave, but not formal; bold, but not rash; humble, but not servile; patient, not insensible; constant, not obstinate; cheerful, not light; rather sweet than familiar; familiar, than intimate; and intimate with very few, and upon very good grounds.
120. Return the civilities you receive, and be grateful for favors.
121. If you have done an injury to another, rather acknowledge it than defend it. One way you gain forgiveness, the other, you double the wrong and reckoning.
122. Some oppose honor to submission; but it can be no honor to maintain, what it is dishonorable to do.
123. To confess a fault, that is none, out of fear, is indeed poor; but not to be afraid of standing in one, is brutish.
124. We should make more haste to right our neighbor, than we do to wrong him; and instead of being revengeful, we should leave him to be judge of his own satisfaction or dissatisfaction with his unjust acts.
125. True honor will pay three times the damages, rather than justify one wrong with another.
126. In such controversies, it is all too common for some to say, both are to blame, excusing their own unconcern, which is a immoral neutrality. Others will cry, they are both alike; thereby involving the injured with the guilty, to diminish the matter of the guilty, or cover their own injustice to the wronged party.
127. Fear and greed are great perversions of mankind, and where either prevail, good judgment is violated.
Rules Of Conversation
128. Avoid company where it is not profitable or necessary; and in those occasions speak little, and last.
129. Silence is wisdom, where speaking is folly; and always safe.
130. Some are so foolish as to interrupt and anticipate those who speak, instead of hearing and thinking before they answer; which is uncivil as well as silly.
131. If you think twice, before you speak once, you will speak twice the better for it.
132. Better say nothing than something irrelevant. And to speak pertinently, consider both what is fit, and when it is fit to speak.
133. In all debates, let truth be your aim, not victory, or an unjust interest. Endeavor to win over to your side, rather than to expose your antagonist.
134. Give no advantage in argument, nor lose any that is offered. This is a benefit which arises from cool head.
135. Don't use yourself to dispute against your own judgment, to show wit, for fear it prepares you to be too indifferent about what is right; nor against another man, to vex him, or for mere trial of skill; since to inform, or to be informed, ought to be the end of all conferences.
136. Men are too likely to be concerned for their credit, more than for the cause of its loss.
137. There is a truth and beauty in rhetoric [elegant, forceful speech]; but it more often serves bad purposes than good ones.
138. Eloquence is a good means of addressing a subject, be it by literal or figurative speech. Where the words are appropriate, and allusions very natural, certainly it has a moving grace; but it is too artificial for simplicity, and often too artificial for truth. The danger is that by eloquence we delude the weak, who in such cases may mistake the handmaid for the mistress, if not error for truth.
139. It is certain: truth is least indebted to eloquence, because truth has the least need of it, and least uses it.
140. But eloquence is a reprovable subtle skill in those who despise truth in plain clothes.
141. Such luxuries of eloquence stem from false appetites; like those gluttons, that by sauces force them to eat more, where they have no stomach, and sacrifice to their taste, not their health: which cannot be without great vanity, nor that without some sin.
142. Nothing does reason more right, than the coolness of those who offer it, for truth often suffers more by the heat of its defenders, than from the arguments of its opposers.
143. Zeal always follows an appearance of truth, and the assured are too likely to be warm; but it is their side in argument; zeal being better shown against sin, than persons [the sinner] of their mistakes.
144. Where you are obliged to speak, be sure to speak the truth; for avoiding the fullness of truth is half-way to lying, as lying is the whole way to hell.
145. Believe no report against another person unless it comes from good authority; and don't report what may hurt another, unless it might become a greater hurt to others to conceal it.
146. It is wise not to seek a secret, and honest not to reveal one.
147. Only trust yourself, and another shall not betray you.
148. Openness has the mischief, though not the malice of treachery.
149. Never agree to merely please others. For that is, besides flattery, often untruth; and discovers a mind liable to be servile and base. Don't contradict simply to irritate others, for that shows an ill temper, and provokes, but profits nobody.
150. Do not accuse others to excuse yourself; for that is neither generous nor just. But let sincerity and ingenuity be your refuge, rather than craft and falsehood, for cunning borders very near upon dishonesty.
151. Wisdom never uses nor wants cunning. Cunning to the wise, is as an ape to a man.
152. Interest has the security, though not the virtue of a principle. As the world goes is the surer side; for men daily sacrifice both relatives and religion to follow their interest.
153. It is an odd sight, but very evident, that families and nations, of cross religions and humors unite against those of their own, where they find an interest to do it.
154. We are tied down by our senses to this world; and where that is in question, with worldly men, they always forsake all other considerations for their interest.
155. Have a care of vulgar errors. Dislike them, but allow them reasonably.
156. Inquiry is human; blind obedience brutal. Truth never loses by the inquiry, but often suffers by blind obedience.
157. The most useful truths are simplest; and while we keep to them, our differences cannot rise high.
158. There may be a lack of restraint in inquiry, as well as a stupidity in trusting. It is great wisdom equally to avoid the extremes of either.
Right - Timing
159. Do nothing improperly. Some are witty, kind, cold, angry, easy, stiff, jealous, careless, cautious, confident, close, open, but all in the wrong place.
160. It is in mistaking what is important that results in improper actions.
161. It is not enough that a thing is right, if it is not fit to be done. If not wise, even though just, it is not advisable. He that loses by getting, had better lose than get.
162. Knowledge is the treasure, but judgment the treasurer of a wise man.
163. He that has more knowledge than judgment, is made for another man's use more than his own.
164. It cannot be a good constitution, where the appetite is great and the digestion is weak.
165. There are some men like dictionaries; to be looked into upon occasions, but have no connection, and offer little entertainment.
166. Less knowledge than judgment will always have the advantage upon the injudicious knowing man.
167. A wise man makes what he learns his own, the other shows he's but a copy, or a collection at most.
168. Wit is an happy and striking way of expressing a thought.
169. It is not often though it be lively and a covering, that it carries a great body with it.
170. Wit therefore is more appropriate for diversion than business, being more based in imagination than judgment.
171. Less judgment than wit, is like more sail than ballast, [without judgment, wit is wind].
172. Yet it must be confessed, that wit gives an edge to sense, and recommends it extremely.
173. Where judgment has wit to express it, there's the best orator.
Obedience To Parents
174. If as a father you would be obeyed, then be obedient as a son.
175. He that fathers you, owns you; and has a natural right over you.
176. Your responsibility next to God, is your parents; next to them is the government.
177. Remember that you are not more indebted to your parents for your nature, than for your love and care.
178. Therefore rebellion in children was made death by God's Law, and the next sin to idolatry in the people; which is renouncing of God, the parent of all.
179. Obedience to parents is not only our duty, but our interest. If we received our life from them, we prolong it by obeying them; for obedience is the first commandment with promise.
180. The obligation is as not dissolvable as the relation.
181. If we must not disobey God to obey them; at least we must let them see, that there is nothing else in our refusal [to obey them because it would be disobeying God]. For some unjust commands cannot excuse the general neglect of our duty. They will be our parents, and we must be their children still; and if we cannot act for them against God, neither can we act against them for ourselves or anything else.
182. A man in business must put up many insults and slights, if he loves his own peace.
183. We must overlook many faults, if we desire peace.
184. If we take issue with everything that is disputable, our dispute would be endless.
185. A vindictive temper is not only uneasy to others, but also to those who have it.
186. Rarely promise; but if lawful, constantly complete your promises.
187. Hasty resolutions are of the nature of vows, and they are to be equally avoided.
188. "I will never do this," says one, yet does it. "I am resolved to do this," says another; but retreats upon second thoughts; or does it, though awkwardly, for his word's sake; as if it were worse to break his word, than to do nothing in keeping it.
189. Wear none of your own chains [from hasty promises]; but keep free, while you are free.
190. It is an effect of passion that wisdom corrects; to lay yourself under resolutions that cannot be well made; and worse, must be performed.
191. Trust others as little as possible, but do your utmost to discharge the trust you undertake; for carelessness is injurious, if not unjust.
192. The glory of a servant is fidelity, which cannot be without diligence as well as truth.
193. Fidelity has enfranchised slaves, and adopted servants to be sons.
194. Reward a good servant well; and rather discharge them than worry yourself with an bad one.
195. Mix kindness with authority; and rule more by discretion than excessive sternness.
196. If your servant is faulty, strive rather to convince him of his error, than show your anger; and when he is sensible, forgive him.
197. Remember he is your fellow-creature, and that God's goodness, not your merit, has made the difference between you and him.
198. Let not your children domineer over your servants, nor allow servants to slight your children.
199. Suppress informers in general; but where a matter requires notice, encourage the complaint, and right the aggrieved.
200. If a child, he ought to request, and not to command; and if a servant, to comply where he does not obey.
201. Though there should be but one master and mistress in a family, yet servants should know that children have the succession.
202. Don't indulge impolite things in your master's children, nor refuse them what is reasonable; for one is the highest unfaithfulness, and the other, indiscretion as well as disrespect.
203. Do your own work honestly and cheerfully; and when that is done, help your fellow; that so another time he may help you.
204. If you will be a good servant, you must be true; and you cannot be true if you defraud your master.
205. A master may be defrauded many ways by a servant: as in time, care, pains, money, trust.
206. But, a true servant is the contrary; he is diligent, careful, trustworthy. He tells no tales, reveals no secrets, refuses no pains; not to be tempted by gain, nor awed by fear, to unfaithfulness.
207. Such a servant, serves God in serving his master; and has double wages for his work, that is , in this life and the next.
208. Be not jealous of what is imagined for that is foolish; as to be reasonably jealous, is wise.
209. He that tracks every detail of another man's actions, cheats himself as well as injures them.
210. To be very subtle and scrupulous in business, is as hurtful, as being over-confident and secure.
211. In difficult cases, such a state is timid; and procrastinates violating promptness.
212. Experience is a safe guide, a practical head, and a great happiness in business.
213. We are too careless of posterity; not considering that as we are, so the next generation will be [or likely worse].
214. If we would change the world, we should change ourselves; and teach our children to be, not what we are, but what they should be.
215. We are too apt to awaken and turn up their passions by the examples of our own; and to teach them to be pleased, not with what is best, but with what pleases best.
216. It is our duty, and ought to be our care, to ward against that passion in them, which is more especially our own weakness and affliction; for we are in great measure accountable for them, as well as for ourselves.
217. In this, we truly are one who turns the world upside down; for money is first, and virtue last, and least in our care.
218. It is not how we leave our children, but what we leave them.
219. Among the rich, virtue is only a supplement, and not the principal or core of their character; and therefore we see so little wisdom or goodness among the rich, in proportion to their wealth.
A Country Life
220. The country life is to be preferred; for there we see the works of God; but in cities we see little else but the works of men, and the works of God makes a better subject for our contemplation than the works of man.
221. As puppets are to men, and dolls to children, so is man's workmanship to God's; we are the picture, God is the reality.
222. God's works declare his power, wisdom and goodness; but man's works, for the most part declare his pride, folly and excess. God's are for practical use; man's works are chiefly for show and lust.
223. The country is both the philosopher's garden and his library, in which he reads and contemplates the power, wisdom, and goodness of God.
224. The country is his food as well as study; and gives him life, as well as learning.
225. The country is a sweet and natural retreat from noise and talk, and allows opportunity for reflection, and gives the best subjects for it.
226. In short, the country is an original, and the knowledge and improvement of it, is man's oldest business and trade, and the best use he can be of.
Art [craftsmanship] and Projects
227. Art, is good, where it is beneficial. Socrates wisely bounded his knowledge and instruction by practice.
228. Have a care therefore of projects; and yet despise nothing rashly, or in the lump.
229. Ingenuity, as well as religion, sometimes suffers between two thieves: pretenders and despisers.
230. Though injudicious and dishonest projectors often discredit art, yet the most useful and extraordinary inventions have not, at first, escaped the scorn of ignorance; as their authors, rarely, have cracking of their heads, or breaking their backs.
231. Undertake no experiment, in speculation, that appears not true in art; nor then, at yours own cost, if costly or hazardous in making.
232. As many hands make light work, so several purses make cheap experiments.
233. Industry, is certainly very commendable, and supplies the want of parts.
234. Patience and diligence, like faith, remove mountains.
235. Never give up while there is hope; but hope not beyond reason, for that shows more desire than judgment.
236. It is a profitable wisdom to know when we have done enough; much time and pains are spared, in not flattering ourselves against probabilities.
237. Do good with what you have, or it will do you no good.
238. Seek not to be rich, but happy. The one lies in bank accounts and portfolios, the other in content; which wealth can never give.
239. We are apt to call things by wrong names. We call prosperity, happiness; and adversity, misery; though adversity is the school of wisdom, and often the way to eternal happiness.
240. If you would be happy, bring your mind to your condition, and have an indifference for more than what is sufficient.
241. Have but little to do, and do it yourself; and do to others as you would have them do to you so you cannot fail of happiness while on earth.
242. Most people are worse off for their plenty; the sensuous man consumes it, the miser hides it. It is the good man that uses his plenty, and to good purposes. But such are hardly found among the prosperous.
243. Be rather bountiful, than addicted to the expensive.
244. Neither make nor go to feasts, but let the laboring poor bless you at home in their solitary cottages.
245. Never voluntarily want what you already possess; nor spend it so that you are in unavoidable need.
246. Do not be tempted to become overconfident by success; for many that have accumulated much, have lost it all, by coveting to get more.
247. To hazard much to get much, is more greed than wisdom.
248. It is great prudence both to limit and use prosperity.
249. Too few know when they have enough; and fewer know how to spend it wisely.
250. It is equally advisable not to part lightly with what is difficult to obtain, and not to harbor what is easily replaced.
251. Act not the shark upon your neighbors; nor take advantage of the ignorance, extravagance or necessity of anyone; for that is kin to fraud, and at best, only makes but an unblessed gain.
252. It is often the judgment of God upon greedy rich men, that he allows them to push on their desires of wealth to the excess of over reaching, grinding or oppression, which poisons all the rest they have gotten; so that it commonly runs away as fast, and by as bad ways as it was heaped up together.
253. Never esteem any man, or yourself, the more for money; nor think poorly of yourself or another for lack of it: virtue being the just reason of respecting, and the want of it, of slighting any one.
254. A man like a watch, is to be valued for his performance.
255. He that prefers him upon other accounts [than his performance], bows to an idol.
256. Unless virtue guides us, our choice must be wrong.
257. An able bad man, is an ill instrument, and to be as shunned as the plague.
258. Be not be deceived at the first appearances of things, but give yourself time for consideration to be in the right.
259. Show, is not substance; realities govern wise men.
260. Have a care therefore where there is more sail than ballast, [more sizzle than steak].
261. In all business it is best to put nothing to dangerous risk; but where it is unavoidable, be not rash, but firm and resigned.
262. We should not be troubled for what we cannot help; but if it was our fault, let us not repeat the same. Amendment is repentance, if not reparation, [restoration or compensation for any damages].
263. As a desperate game needs an able gamester, so consideration would often prevent, what the best skill in the world cannot recover.
264. Where the probability of gain does not exceeds the risk of loss, wisdom never adventures.
265. Success on a dangerous risk is well; but to chose it, is more of vanity than judgment.
266. To be dextrous in danger is a virtue; but to court danger to show your evasive skills, is weakness.
267. Have a care of that base evil, disparagement. It is the fruit of envy, as that is of pride; the immediate offspring of the devil: who, of an angel, a Lucifer, a son of the morning, made himself a serpent, a devil, a Beelzebub, and all that is obnoxious to the eternal goodness.
268. Virtue is not secure against envy. Men will make less of what they won't imitate.
269. Dislike what deserves disparagement, but never hate; for that is of the nature of a desire to see others suffer; which is almost always to persons, not things, and is one of the blackest qualities that sin creates in the soul.
270. It would be a happy day if men could limit and qualify their resentments with kindness to the offender; for then our anger would be without sin, and better convict and edify the guilty; which alone can make it lawful.
271. Not to be provoked is best. But if moved, never correct until the anger is spent; for every stroke our anger strikes, is sure to hit ourselves at last.
272. If we only observed the allowances our reason makes upon reflection, when our passion is over, we could not lack a rule for how to behave ourselves again in similar occasions.
273. We are more prone to complain than amend and retract, and to censure than excuse.
274. It is next to unpardonable, that we can so often blame what we will not once forgive. It shows, we know, but will not do our Master's will.
275. Those who censure, should practice forgiveness and overlooking; or else let them have the first stone, and the last too.
276. Nothing needs a trick but a trick; sincerity loathes one.
277. We must take care to do right things rightly; for a just sentence may be unjustly executed.
278. Circumstances give great light to true judgment, if well weighed.
279. Passion is a sort of fever in the mind, which always leaves us weaker than it found us.
280. But since passion is not constant, we have the opportunity to cure it with care.
281. More than anything passion deprives us of the use of our judgment, for it raises a dust very hard to see through.
282. Like wine, whose sediment fly by being jogged, it is too muddy to drink.
283. It may not unfairly be termed, the mob of the man, that commits a riot upon his reason.
284. I have sometimes thought, that a passionate man is like a weak spring that cannot stand long locked unsprung.
285. And as true, that those things are unfit for use, that can't bear small knocks, without breaking.
286. He, who won't hear, can't judge, and he who can't tolerate contradiction, may, with all his wit, miss the mark.
287. Objection and debate sift out truth, which needs moderation as well as judgment.
288. But above all, observe it in resentments, for there passion is most extravagant.
289. Never censor because you are angry, but only for instruction.
290. He that corrects out of passion, raises revenge rather than repentance.
291. Passion has more of unrestraint than wisdom, and resembles those who eat to please their palate, rather than their appetite.
292. Passion is the difference between a wise and a weak man; the wise judges by the whole, the weak by parts and their connection.
293. The Greeks use to say, all cases are governed by their circumstances. The same thing may be good or bad as circumstances change or vary the matter.
294. A man's strength is shown by his conduct. To do good and bad with endurance is the role of a king.
295. Reflect [look back at your life's actions] without thought of revenge but with what need of wisdom you had.
296. Despise no one, and no condition; for fear may it come to be your own.
297. Never rail nor taunt. The one is rude, the other scornful, and both evil.
298. Be not provoked by injuries, to commit them.
299. Upbraid only ingratitude.
300. Haste makes work which caution prevents.
301. Tempt no man; for fear you fall for it.
302. Have a care of presuming upon a second game played to reverse the issue of the first. For if that misses, all is gone.
(Don't chase lost money, which was poorly invested, with good money.)
303. Opportunities should never be lost, because they can hardly be regained.
304. It is well to cure, but better to prevent a disease. The first shows more skill, but the last more wisdom.
305. Never make a trial of skill assume a challenge in difficult or hazardous cases.
306. Do not refuse to be informed, for that shows pride or stupidity.
307. Humility and knowledge in poor clothes, excel pride and ignorance in costly attire.
308. Neither despise, nor oppose, what you do not understand.
309. We must not be concerned above the value of the thing that engages us; nor raised above reason, in maintaining what we think reasonable.
310. It is too common an error, to invert the order of things; by making an end of that which is a means, and a means of that which is an end. [but however holy the end, it never justifies an evil means of attainment].
311. Religion and government do not escape this mischief. Religion is too often made a means instead of an end, government an end instead of a means.
312. Thus men seek wealth rather than subsistence, and the end of clothes is the least reason of their use. Nor is the satisfying of our appetite our end in eating, so much as the pleasing of our palate. The like may also be said of building, furniture, etc. where the man rules not the beast, and appetite submits not to reason.
313. It is great wisdom to proportion our esteem to the nature of the thing. For in that way things will not be undervalued, so neither will they engage as above their intrinsic worth.
314. If we allow little things to have great hold upon us, we shall be as much influenced by them, as if they deserved it.
315. It is an old proverb, Maxima bella ex levissimis causis: The greatest feuds have had the smallest beginnings.
316. No matter what the subject of the dispute is, it is the importance that we we give it in our minds that governs our concern and resentment.
317. It is one of the most fatal errors of our lives, when we spoil a good cause by bad management. And we may have meant well in a bad business; but that does not justify it.
318. If we are sure the end is right, we are too likely to skim over all limits to accomplish it; not considering that lawful ends may be very unlawfully attained.
319. Let us be careful to take just ways to accomplish just things, so that they may have lasting benefits to us.
320. There is a troublesome disposition some men have, that if they may not lead, they will not follow; but had rather a thing were never done, than not done their own way, though other ways are very desirable.
321. This comes of an over-fullness of ourselves; and shows we are more concerned for praise, than the success of what know is a good thing to be done.
322. Try not to be seen, and men will see your weakness less.
323. They that show more than they are, raise an expectation they cannot answer; and so lose their credibility, as soon as they are discovered.
324. Avoid popularity. It has many snares, and no real benefit to yourself; and uncertainty to others.
325. Remember the proverb. They are happy who live in privacy.
326. If this is true, princes and their noblemen, of all men, are the unhappiest, for they live alone the least. And they that must be enjoyed by everybody, can never enjoy themselves as they should.
327. Is is the advantage that little men have over them; they can be private, and have leisure for family comforts, which are the greatest worldly contents men can enjoy.
328. But those who take pleasure in greediness, seek satisfaction there; and we see in some natures, an ambition to rule; just as privacy is the choice of others.
329. Government has many shapes; but that is sovereignty, though not freedom, in all of them.
330. Rex and Tyrannus are very different characters. One rules his people by laws, to which they consent; the other by his absolute will and power. The first is called freedom, the second tyranny.
331. The first is endangered by the ambition of the people, which shakes the composition of the ruler; the tyranny is endangered by bad administration, which endangers the tyrant and his family.
332. It is great wisdom in rulers of both sorts, not to stress matters too far with their people. For whether the people have a right to oppose them or not, they are always sure to attempt it, particularly when things are carried too far; though the remedy oftentimes proves worse than the disease.
333. Happy is the ruler who is great, based on his justice administered; and happy are those people who are free by obedience.
334. Where the ruler is just, he may be strict. Strictness without justice is likely to create trouble for the ruler. And even though he should prevail in a rebellion, he cannot be a winner, when his people are the losers.
335. Rulers must not have passions in government, nor resent things beyond their needs and what religion teaches.
336. Where example keeps pace with authority, power hardly fails to be obeyed, and magistrates to be honored.
337. Let the people think they govern and they will be governed.
338. This cannot fail, if those they trust, are trustworthy.
339. That ruler that is just to the people in great things, and humors them sometimes in small ones, is sure to have and keep the people from all the world.
340. For the people are the political wife of the ruler, who may be better managed by wisdom, than ruled by force.
341. But where the official is partial and serves badly, he loses his authority with the people; and gives the populace opportunity to gratify their desires, and lays a cause for stumbling of his people.
342. It is true, that where a citizen is more popular than the ruler, the ruler is in danger. But it is also as true, that it is his own fault; for nobody has the means, interest or reason, to be as popular as he.
343. It is an unaccountable thing, that some rulers prefer to be feared than loved; despite that fear does not any more often secure a prince against the dissatisfaction of his people, any more than love makes too many subjects for such a prince.
344. Certainly service upon preference is likely to go farther than obedience upon compulsion.
345. The Romans had a just sense of this, when they ascribed Optimus (goodness) before Maximus (severity), to their most illustrious captains and Caesars.
346. Besides, experience tells us, that goodness raises a nobler passion in the soul, and gives a better sense of duty than severity.
347. What did Pharaoh get by increasing the Israelites task? Ruin to himself in the end.
348. Rulers, principally in goodness and justice, should imitate God; their mercy should be above all their works.
349. The difference between the prince and the peasant, is in this world. But restraint ought to be observed by him who has the advantage here, because of the judgment in the next world.
350. The end of everything should direct the means. Since the end of government should be the good of the whole, nothing less should be the aim of the ruler.
351. As often as rulers endeavor to attain just ends by just means, they are sure of a quiet and easy government; and as sure of upheavals, where the nature of things are violated, and their order overruled.
352. It is certain, rulers ought to have great allowances made them for faults in government; since they see by other people's eyes, and hear by their ears. But ministers of state, their immediate confidantes and instruments, have much to answer for, if to gratify private passions, they misguide the ruler that results in public injury.
353. Ministers of state should undertake their posts at their peril. If rulers overrule them, let them obey the law, and humbly resign. If fear, gain or flattery rules them, let them answer to the penalties of the law.
354. The prince cannot be preserved, except where the minister is punishable; for people, as well as princes, will not endure
an empire within an empire.
355. If ministers are weak or ill men, and so spoil their positions, it is the prince's fault that chose them. But if their positions spoil them, it is their own fault to be made worse by them.
356. It is only just that those who reign by their princes, should suffer for their princes; for it is a safe and necessary maxim, not to shift heads in government, while the ministers that should answer for them are still in place.
357. And yet it would be intolerable to be a minister of state, if everybody may be an accuser and judge.
358. Therefore let the false accuser no more escape an exemplary punishment, than the guilty minister.
359. For it profanes government to have the credit of the leading men in it, subject to vulgar censure; which is often without basis.
360. The safety of a prince, therefore consists in a well-chosen council; and that only can be said to be so, where the persons that compose it are qualified for the business that comes before them.
361. Who would send to a tailor to make a lock, or to a blacksmith to make a suit of clothes?
362. Let there be merchants for trade, seamen for the Admiralty, travelers for foreign affairs, some of the leading men of the country for internal business, and common and civil lawyers to advise of legality and right who should always keep to the strict rules of law.
363. Three things contribute much to ruin governments: looseness, oppression, and envy.
364. Where the reins of government are too slack, there the behavior of the people is corrupted; and that destroys industry, creates excessive refinement, and provokes heaven against it.
365. Oppression makes a poor country and a desperate people, who are always waiting for an opportunity to change.
366. He that rules over men, must be just, ruling in the fear of God, said an old and a wise king.
367. Envy disturbs and distracts government, clogs the wheels, and perplexes the administration. And nothing contributes more to the disorder, than an unfair distribution of rewards, and punishments in the sovereign.
Let men be good, and the government will not be bad; if it is ill they will cure it. But if the men are bad, let the government be ever so good, they will endeavor to warp and spoil it to their turn. Let men be good.
368. As it is not reasonable that men should be compelled to serve; so those employed should not be expected to be happy when fired.
369. Where the state intends a man no affront, he should not affront the state.
A Private Life
370. Private life is to be preferred; the honor and gain of public posts, bearing no proportion with the comfort of it. One is free and quiet, the other servile and noisy.
371. It was a great answer of the Shulamite woman, I dwell among my own people.
372. Those who live their own lives, neither need, nor often prefer to wear the uniform of the public.
373. Their subsistence is not during pleasure; nor have they admirers to please or present.
374. If they are not advanced, neither can they be disgraced. And as they do not know the smiles of majesty, so they do not feel the frowns of greatness; or the effects of envy.
375. If they lack the pleasures of a court, they also escape the temptations of it.
376. Private men, finally, are so much their own, that after paying common dues, they are sovereigns of all the rest.
A Public Life
377. Yet the public must and will be served; and they that do it well, deserve public marks of honor and profit.
378. To do so, men must have public minds, as well as salaries; or they will serve private ends at the public cost.
379. Governments can never be well administered, but where those entrusted follow their conscience in well discharging their duty.
380. Five Things are requisite to a good officer: ability, clean hands, prompt response, patience, and impartiality.
381. He who does not understand his employment, whatever else he knows, is unfit for it, and the public suffers by his inexpertness.
382. Those who are able, should also be just; or the government may be the worse for their having the position.
383. Covetousness in such men prompts them to prostitute the public for gain.
384. The taking of a bribe or gratuity, should be punished with as severe penalties, as the defrauding of the state.
385. Let men have sufficient salaries, and if they obtain additional bribes or graft, let them at their peril.
386. It is a dishonor to government, that its officers should live by charity; as it ought to be disgraceful for officers to dishonor the public, by being twice paid for the same business [bribes].
387. But to be paid, and not to do business, is rank oppression.
388. Dispatch [prompt response] is a great and good quality in an government officer; where duty, not gain, energizes it. But of this, too many make their private source for bribes to supplement their wages. Thus the salary is for doing, and the bribe, for dispatching the business; as if business could be done before it were dispatched, or what ought to be done, ought not to be dispatched; or they were to be paid apart, one by the government, the other by the party.
389. Prompt completion is as much the duty of a government official, as the act itself; and very much the honor of the government he serves.
390. Delays have been more injurious than direct injustice.
391. They too often starve those they dare not deny.
392. The very winner is made a loser, because he pays twice for his own; like those who purchase estates mortgaged beyond the full value.
393. Our law says it well: to delay justice is injustice.
394. To be without a right, and to be delayed in its exercise, differs little.
395. To refuse or to respond promptly is the duty and wisdom of a good officer.
[for no decision, is a decision].
396. Patience is a virtue everywhere; but it shines with great luster in the men of government.
397. Some are so proud or testy, they won't hear what they should remedy.
398. Others are so weak, they sink or burst under the weight of their office, though they can lightly run away with the salary of it.
399. Business can never be well done, that is not well understood; which requires patience.
400. It is cruelty indeed not to give the unhappy a hearing, whom we ought to help. But it is the worst of oppression to browbeat the humble and modest miserable, when they seek relief.
401. Some, it is true, are unreasonable in their desires and hopes; but then we should simply inform them so, not rail at and reject them.
402. It is therefore as great an instance of wisdom as a man in business can give, to be patient under the insolence and contradictions that attend it.
403. A system of policy and procedure goes far to prevent trouble in business; for it makes the task easy, hinders confusion, saves an abundance of time, and instructs those who have business, both what to do and what to hope.
404. Impartiality, though it is the last, is not the least part of the character of a good official.
405. It is noted as a fault, in Holy Scriptures, even to regard whether a person is poor; how much more to regard wealth in forming judgments?
406. If our compassion is not to sway us; our fears, profits or prejudices should certainly not.
407. Justice [the statue] is justly represented as blindfolded, because she sees no difference in the parties concerned.
408. She has only one scale and weight, for rich and poor, great and small.
409. Her sentence is not guided by the person, but the cause.
410. The impartial judge in judgment, knows nothing but the law. The prince no more than the peasant, his relatives no more than a stranger. Even his enemy is sure to be upon equal terms with his friend, when he is upon the bench.
411. Impartiality is the life of justice, as it is the life of government.
412. Nor is it only a benefit to the state, for private families cannot subsist comfortably without it.
413. Parents who are partial, are poorly obeyed by their children; and masters who are partial are not served better by their servants.
414. Partiality is always indirect, if not dishonest; for it bypasses reason, even if it does not cause injury, which justice everywhere forbids.
415. Since it makes favorites without reason, so it uses no reason in judging actions; confirming the proverb: the crow thinks her own baby bird the fairest.
416. What some see to be no fault in one person, they see as criminal in another.
417. How ugly do our own failings look to us in another person, which we do not see in ourselves.
418. And it is too common for some people, not to know their own guidelines and principles in the mouths of other men, when they use them.
419. Partiality corrupts our judgment of persons and things, of ourselves and others.
420. It contributes more than anything to factions in government, and feuds in families.
421. It is wasteful passion, that seldom returns until it is hungry, and disappointments bring it within bounds.
422. And yet we may be indifferent, to a fault of another.
423. Indifference [disregard] is good in judgment, but bad in relatives, and a disaster in religion.
424. And even in judgment, our indifference must be to the persons, not causes. For one cause, to be sure, is right.
425. Neutrality is something else than indifference; and yet of kin to it too.
426. A judge ought to be indifferent, and yet he cannot be said to be neutral.
427. The one being fair and consistent in judgment, and the other not to meddle at all.
428. And where it is lawful, to be sure, it is best to be neutral.
429. He that supports parties, can hardly divorce himself from their fate; and more fall with their party than rise with it.
430. A wise neutral person joins with neither; but uses both, as his honest interest leads him.
431. A neutral person only has room to be a peace-maker; for being of neither side, he has the means of mediating a reconciliation of both.
432. And yet, where right or religion gives a call, a neutral person must not be a coward or an hypocrite.
433. In such cases we should never be backward; but not so rash as to be mistaken.
434. When our right or religion is in question, then is the best time to assert it.
435. Nor must we always be neutral where our neighbors are concerned; for though meddling is a fault, helping is a duty.
436. We have a call to do good, as often as we have the power and occasion.
437. If heathens could say: we are not born for ourselves; surely Christians should practice it.
438. Christians are taught so by his example, as well as doctrine, from whom they have borrowed their name.
439. Do what good you can anonymously; and do not be vain about what should be felt inside yourself rather than seen outside by others.
440. The humble, in the parable of the day of judgment, forgot their good works; Lord, when did we do so and so?
441. He that does good, for good's sake, seeks neither praise nor reward; though sure of both in the end of all.
442. Content not yourself that you are virtuous in general; for if you lack one link, the chain is defective.
443. Perhaps you are innocent rather than virtuous, and owe more to your temperament, than your religion.
444. Innocent, is not to be guilty. But to be virtuous is to overcome our evil inclinations.
445. If you have not conquered yourself in that which is your own particular weakness, you have no title to virtue, even though you are free of other men's weaknesses.
446. For a covetous man to criticize against excess, an atheist against idolatry, a tyrant against rebellion, or a liar against forgery, and a drunkard against intemperance, is for the pot to call the kettle black.
447. Such reproof would have little success because it would carry little authority with it.
448. If you would conquer your weakness, you must never gratify it.
449. No man is compelled to evil; only his consent makes it his.
450. It is no sin to be tempted. Sin is to be overcome.
451. What man in his right mind, would conspire his own hurt? Men are beside themselves, when they go against their convictions.
452. If you would not sin, don't desire; and if you would not lust, don't embrace the temptation. No, don't look at it, or think about it.
453. You would take much pains to save your body; take some, I pray, to save your soul.
454. Religion is the fear of God, and its demonstration is in good works; and faith is the root of both. For without faith we cannot please God, nor can we fear what we do not believe.
455. The devils also believe and know in abundance, but in this is the difference: their faith does not work by love, nor does their knowledge work by obedience; and therefore they are never the better for them. And if our faith is not based in love and obedience, we of the devil's church, not of Christ's: for as the head is, so must the body be.
456. He was Holy, humble, harmless, meek, merciful, etc. when among us; to teach us what we should be, when he was gone. And yet he is among us still, and in us too, a living and perpetual Preacher of the same grace, by his Spirit in our consciences.
457. A minister of the gospel ought to be one of Christ's making, if he would pass for one of Christ's ministers.
458. And if he is one of Christ's making, he not only talks his beliefs, he walks in obedience as well as believes.
459. That minister whose life is not the model of His doctrine, is a babbler rather than a preacher; a quack rather than a physician of value.
460. Of old time they were made ministers by the Holy Ghost; and the more they are now [trained and gifted by the Holy Spirit], the fitter they are for the work of ministers.
461. Running streams are not so likely to be polluted; nor traveling evangelists, as a stationary preacher; but the traveling evangelists are not to run before they are sent.
Site Editor's Comment : Nowhere in the Bible is a "call" anything but a summons or being named. Being touched by God, or having a spiritual experience, is not his "call" to be a preacher; it is a summons to seek him: many are called, few are chosen. Far, far too many people interpret a touch by God to be a call to preach. If he wants you to be a preacher, he will first educate you himself and then give you direct orders as to what to do and when to do it. He doesn't leave you to guess about a feeling, a call, an opinion, an inspiration, a burden, a desire, or a "door opening" to walk through. I know one minister whose "call" was being accepted into seminary and not into a secular college.
Perhaps the greatest error in Christianity today is to presume. To presume one is 'born again;' to presume one is 'saved,' all based on reading selective scriptures - like the Pharisees finding eternal life in the scriptures. To presume the touch of God, given to awaken us to his reality and only a call, without yet being chosen; to presume such to be the baptism of the Holy Spirit or the evidence of being 'born again,' or worst of all: to be misinterpreted as evidence to being made a minister or designated a prophet, thereby obligated to go out and preach the letter without spirit, resulting in spiritual retardation and death of the soul.
462. As they freely receive from Christ, so they should give.
463. They will not make that a trade [source of income], which they know ought not, in conscience, to be one.
464. Yet there is no fear of their living who design not to live by it [their preaching].
465. The humble and true teacher meets with more than he expects.
466. He accounts content with godliness great gain, and therefore does not seek to make a gain of godliness.
467. As the ministers of Christ are made by him, and are like him, so they beget people into the same likeness.
468. To be like Christ then, is to be a Christian. And regeneration is the only way to the Kingdom of God, which we pray for.
469. Let us today, therefore, hear his voice, and not harden our hearts; who speaks to us many ways. In the Scriptures, in our hearts, by his servants and his providences. And the sum of all is holiness and charity.
470. James gives a short definition of this matter, but very full and reaching: pure religion and undefiled before God the Father, is this, to visit the fatherless and the widows in their affliction, and to keep ourselves unspotted from the world. Which is comprised in these two words, charity and righteousness.
471. Those who truly make these their aim, will attain them; and with them, the peace that follows so excellent a condition.
472. Amuse not yourself therefore with the numerous opinions of the world, nor value yourself upon verbal orthodoxy, philosophy, or your skill in languages, or knowledge of the fathers, (too much the business and vanity of the world). But in this rejoice, that you know [from experience, not reading about Him] God, who is the Lord, who exercises loving kindness, and judgment, and righteousness in the earth.
473. Public worship is very commendable, if well performed. We owe it to God and good example. But we must know, that God is not tied to time or place, who is everywhere at the same time. And this we shall know, (as far as we are capable, if ever we are), our desires are to be with him.
474. People generally confine serving God to the acts of public and private worship; and the more zealous people oftener repeat those in hopes of acceptance.
475. But if we consider that God is an infinite Spirit, and, as such, everywhere; and that our savior has taught us, That he must be worshipped in Spirit and in Truth; we shall see the shortness of such a notion.
476. For serving God concerns the conduct of our spirits, in the whole course of our lives; on every occasion we have, in which we may show our love to his ways.
477. For as men in battle are continually in danger of being shot, so we, in this world, are always within the reach of temptation. And in this we serve God, if we avoid what we are forbidden, as well as do what he commands.
478. God is better served in resisting a temptation to evil, than in many formal prayers.
479. Formal prayer is only two or three times a day; but resisting evil is every hour and moment of the day. So much more is our continual watch, than our evening and morning devotion.
480. Would you then serve God? The do nothing when alone, what you fear to do if another is watching.
481. Don't take God's name in vain, or disobey your parents, or wrong your neighbor, or commit adultery even in your heart.
482. Neither be vain, unrestrained sexually, proud, drunken, revengeful or angry; nor lie, detract, backbite, overextend, oppress, deceive or betray. But watch vigorously against all temptations to these things; as knowing that God is present, the overseer of all your ways and most inward thoughts, and the avenger of his own law upon the disobedient, and you will acceptably serve God.
483. Is it not reasonable, if we expect the thanks to those who receive our favors, that we should reverently pay ours to God, our most magnificent and constant benefactor?
484. The world represents a rare and rich palace, mankind the great family in it, and God the mighty Lord and Master of it.
485. We are all sensible what a stately seat it is: The heavens adorned with so many glorious lights; and the earth with groves, plains, valleys, hills, fountains, ponds, lakes and rivers; and the variety of fruits, and creatures for food, pleasure and profit. In short, how noble a house He keeps, and the plenty and variety and excellency of his table; his orders, seasons and suitableness of every time and thing. But we must be as sensible, or at least ought to be, what careless and idle servants we are, and how short and disproportional our behavior is to his bounty and goodness; how long he puts up with us, and often he reprieves and forgives us; who, despite our broken promises, and repeated neglects, has not yet been provoked to break up the house, and send us to cope for ourselves. Should not this great Goodness raise a due sense in us of our lack of duty, and a resolution to alter our course and mend our ways; that we may be for the future more worthy participants at our Master's good and great table? Especially since we deserve to feel his displeasure, if we continue to be unprofitable servants.
486. But though God has replenished this world with an abundance of good things for man's life and comfort, yet they are all only imperfect goods. He only is the Perfect Good to whom they point. But alas! Men cannot see him for them; though they should always see him in them.
487. I have often wondered at the lack of accountability of man in this, among other things; that though he loves changes so much, he should care so little to hear or think of his last, great, and best change too, if he pleases.
488. Since, as to our bodies, composed of changeable elements, we with the world, are made up of, and exist from change, [made from clay, return to dust], but since our souls are of a different more noble nature, we should seek our rest in a more enduring habitation than our bodies which perish.
489. The truest end of life is: to know the life [in God] that never ends.
490. He that makes this his care, will find it his crown at last.
491. Without a care to know the life [in God] that never ends, life is a misery rather than a pleasure; a judgment, not a blessing.
492. For to able to know, regret and resent; to be able to desire, hope and fear; this is more than a beast can do; but then to not live beyond a beast, is to make a man less than a beast.
493. It is the compensation of a short and troublesome life; that doing well, and suffering ill, entitles man to a future life that is longer and better.
494. This ever raises the good man's hope, and gives him tastes beyond to the other world.
495. There is nothing else worthwhile in this life, than to aim for the next one; so none else can hit the mark.
496. Many think about the next life, but it is the good man's practice to prepare for it.
497. His work keeps pace with his life, and so leaves nothing to be done when he dies.
498. And he that lives to live forever, never fears dying.
499. Nor can the means to live forever [the self-denial of the inward cross of Christ] be terrible to him who heartily believes the end.
500. For though death is a dark passage, it leads to immortality, and that is recompense enough for suffering of it.
501. And yet faith lights us, even through the grave, being the evidence of things not seen.
502. And this is the comfort of the good, that the grave cannot hold them, and that they live as soon as they die.
503. For death is no more than a turning of us over from time to eternity.
504. Nor can there be a transformation [change from one body to the next eternal body] without it; for it supposes the disintegration of one form, in order to have the succession of another.
505. Since death is part of the way and condition of life; we cannot love to live, if we cannot bear to die.
506. Let us then not deceive ourselves with the shells and husks of things; nor prefer form to power, nor shadows to substance. Pictures of bread will not satisfy hunger, nor those [external forms of worship, not in Spirit and Truth] of devotion please God.
507. This world is a form; our bodies are forms; and no visible acts of devotion can be without forms. But yet the less form in religion the better, since God is a Spirit. For the more internal our worship, the more adequate to the nature of God; the more silent, the more suitable to the language of a Spirit.
508. Words are for others, not for ourselves; nor for God, who does not hear not as bodies do; but as spirits should.
509. If we would know this dialect; we must learn of the Divine Principle in us. As we hear the dictates of that, so God hears us.
510. There [inward, in us] we may see Him too in all his attributes; though only a little, yet as much as we can understand or bear. For as he is in himself, he is incomprehensible, and dwells in that Light which no eye can approach. But in his Image we may behold his glory; enough to exalt our fear of God, and to instruct us in that worship which pleases him.
511. Men may tire themselves in the maze of searching, and talking of God; but if we truly wish to know him, it must be from the impressions [in us, in our hearts] that we receive the things of him. And the softer our hearts are, the deeper and livelier those will be upon us.
512. If he has made us sensible of his justice, by his reproof; of his patience, by his forbearance; of his mercy, by his forgiveness; of his holiness, by the sanctification of our hearts through his Spirit; we have a grounded knowledge of God. This is an experience with the ways of God, anything else is speculation. This is enjoyment, the other is hearsay. In short, this is undeniable evidence, with the realities of religion, and will stand all winds and weathers.
513. As our faith, so our devotion should be lively. Cold meat won't serve at those meals.
514.It is a coal from God's altar that must kindle our fire; and without fire, true fire, there is no acceptable sacrifice.
515. Open you my lips, and then, said the royal prophet, my mouth shall praise God. But not until then. [The spirit must speak in us for our praises to be pleasing to God. If we speak praises from our own minds, we speak abominations; the spirit must control; until then, silence. Be silent, O all flesh, before the LORD.]
516. The preparation of the heart, as well as answer of the tongue, is of the Lord; and to have it, our prayers must be powerful, and our worship grateful.
517. Let us choose, therefore, to commune where there is the warmest sense of religion; where devotion exceeds formality, and practice most corresponds with profession; and where there is at least as much charity as zeal. For where this society is to be found, there shall we find the Church of God.
518. As good, so bad men are all of a church; and everybody knows who must be head of it.
519. The humble, meek, merciful, just, pious and devout souls, are everywhere of one religion. And when death has taken off the mask, they will know one another, though the several uniforms they wear here make them strangers.
520. Great allowances are to be made of education, and personal weaknesses. But it is a rule with me, that the man who is truly religious, is he that loves the persuasion he is of, for the righteousness rather than ceremony of it.
521. Those who have one end, can hardly disagree when they meet. At least their concern is in the greater, and moderates the value and difference about the lesser things.
522. It is a sad reflection, that many men hardly have any religion at all; and most men have none of their own. For that which is the religion of their learning, and not of their judgment, is the religion of another, and not theirs.
523. To have religion upon knowledge, and not upon conviction, is like a watch, to be set forwards or backwards, as he pleases that has it in keeping.
524. It is a preposterous thing, that men can venture their souls where they will not venture their money. For they will take their religion upon trust, but not trust their church to use their money for purposes that are noble.
525. They will follow their own judgment when their money is concerned, whatever they do for their souls.
526. But to be sure, such a untrustworthy religion cannot be right, and a man is the worse for having it.
527. No religion is better than an unnatural one.
528. Grace perfects, but never sours or spoils the human nature of its workings.
529. To be unnatural in defense of grace, is a contradiction.
530. Hardly anything looks worse, than to defend religion by ways that show it has no credit with us.
531. A devout man is one thing, a stickler is quite another.
532. When our minds exceed their just bounds, we discredit what we would recommend.
533. To be furious in religion, is to be irreligiously religious.
Site Editor's Comment: Having been through many sects seeking the true way, having had many heated discussions over religious beliefs in the past, I have seen a truth. The more you are secretly insecure in your false beliefs, the more violently you react to anyone that contradicts them. The more you are grounded in faith that is based on hearing God's teaching, and receiving his changing, purifying grace, the less any argument can shake you - and anger is only a poor way to run from the truth.
534. If he who is without guts and courage, is not a man; How then can he be a Christian?
535. It would be better to be of no Church, than to be bitter for any.
536. Bitterness comes very near to enmity, and that is Beelzebub; because it is the perfection of wickedness.
537. A good end cannot purify evil means; nor must we ever do evil, so that good may come of it.
538. Some folks think they may scold, rail, hate, rob and kill too; if it is for God's sake.
Site Editor's Comment: Many Roman Catholic persecutions were justified by Saint? Augustine's famous: Why ... should not the Church use force in compelling her lost sons to return, if the lost sons compelled others to their destruction?" - A classic example of the end justifies the means, which looses sight of the principal command of Christ to "love enemies," not destroy them. And they ignore Christ's reply to his disciples when they wished to punish the people who would not listen to him, severely rebuking them with: Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. If someone is violating the standards of the church, (sinning), they are supposed to be warned by one, then warned by two or three, then censured by the whole body of believers, - and if they fail to repent of their error, they are supposed to be expelled and shunned - not killed, or imprisoned, or tortured, or lose their property.
539. But nothing in us that is unlike him, can please him.
540. It is as great presumption to send our own passions upon God's errands, as it is to lessen them with God's name.
541. Zeal done in love, is good; without it, good for nothing. For without love zeal devours all it comes near.
542. They must first judge themselves, that presume to censure others; such will not likely to overshoot the mark.
543. We are too ready to retaliate, rather than forgive; or gain by love and information.
544. And yet we could hurt no man, who we believe loves us.
545. Let us then try what love will do; for if men saw that we loved them, we would soon find they would not harm us.
546. Force may subdue, but love gains; and he that forgives first, wins the laurels.
547. If I am even with my enemy, the debt is paid; but if I forgive it, I oblige him to owe me forever.
548. Love is the hardest lesson in Christianity; but, for that reason, it should be our greatest care to learn it. Those things are difficult which are beautiful.
549. It is a severe rebuke upon us, that God makes us so many allowances, and we make so few to our neighbor; as if love had nothing to do with religion; or love with faith, which ought to work by it.
550. I find all sorts of people agree, whatever were their animosities, when humbled by the approach of death. Then they forgive, then they pray for, and love one another; which shows us, that it is not our reason, but our passion, that makes and holds up the feuds that reign among men in their health and fullness. They, therefore, who live nearest to that which they should die, must certainly live best.
551. If we believe in a final reckoning and judgment; or think enough of what we do believe, we would allow more love in religion than we do; since religion itself is nothing else but love to God and man.
552. He that lives in love lives in God, says the beloved disciple; and to be sure a man can live nowhere better.
553. It is most reasonable men should value the benefit, which is the most durable. Now tongues shall cease, and prophecy fail, and faith shall be consummated in sight, and hope in enjoyment; but love remains.
554. Love is indeed heaven upon earth; since heaven above would not be heaven without it. For where there is not love; there is fear; but perfect love casts out fear. And yet we naturally fear most to offend what we most love.
555. What we love, we will hear; what we love, we will trust; and what we love, we will serve, yes, and suffer for too. If you love me (says our Blessed Redeemer) keep my commandments. Why? Why then he will love us; then we shall be his friends; then he'll send us the comforter; then whatever we ask, we shall receive; and then where he is we shall be also, and that forever. Behold the fruits of love; the power, virtue, benefit and beauty of love!
556. Love is above all; and when it prevails in us all, we shall all be lovely, and in love with God and one with another.
This web site's purpose is to show how to become
free from sin
by benefiting from the changing power of God through the cross,
which leads to union with God in his Kingdom.