The Missing Cross to Purity


Penn's Farewell Advice to Family

on His First Journey to Pennsylvania

Beautiful love, wisdom, and authority.

MY DEAR WIFE AND CHILDREN:

My love, which neither sea nor land nor death itself can extinguish or lessen toward you, most dearly visits you with eternal embraces, and will abide with you forever; and may the God of my life watch over you and bless you, and do you good in this world and forever! Some things are upon my spirit to leave with you in your respective capacities, as I am to the one, a husband, and to the rest a father, if I should never see you more in this world.

My dear wife, remember you were the love of my youth, and much the joy of my life; the most beloved as well as most worthy of all my earthly comforts; and the reason of that love was more your inward than your outward excellencies, which yet were many. God knows, and you know it, I can say it was a match of Providence's making; and God's image in us both was the first thing, and the most amiable and engaging ornament in our eyes. Now I am to leave you, and that without knowing whether I shall ever see you more in this world; take my counsel into your bosom and let it dwell with you in my position while you live.

First: Let the fear of the Lord and a zeal and love to his glory dwell richly in your heart; and you will watch for good over yourself and your dear children and family, that no rude, light, or bad thing is committed; else God will be offended, and He will repent himself of the good He intends you and yours.

Secondly: Be diligent in meetings for worship and business; stir up yourself and others in this; it is your duty and place; and let meetings [waiting on the Lord in silence] be kept once a day in the family to wait upon the Lord who has given us much time for ourselves. And, my dearest, to make your family matters easy to you, divide your time and be regular; it is easy and sweet; your retirement will afford you to do it; as in the morning to view the business of the house and fix it as you desire, seeing all be in order; that by your counsel all may move, and to you render an account every evening. The time for work, for walking, for meals, may be certain at least as near as may be; and do not grieve yourself with careless servants; they will disorder you; rather pay them and let them go if they will not be better by admonitions; this is best to avoid many words, which I know wound the soul and offend the Lord.

Thirdly: Cast up your income and see what it daily amounts to; by which you may be sure to have it in your sight and power to keep within your means; and I beseech you to live low and sparingly till my debts are paid; and then enlarge as you see it convenient. Remember your mother's example when your father's public-spiritedness had diminished his estate, which is my case. I know you love plain things, and are adverse to the pomps of the world, which is a nobility natural to you. I write not as doubtful, but to quicken you, for my sake, to be vigilant in it, knowing that God will bless your care, and your poor children and you for it. My mind is wrapped up in a saying of your father's, 'I desire not riches, but to owe nothing;' and truly that is wealth; and more-than-enough-to-live is a snare attended with many sorrows. I do not need to tell you to be humble, for you are so; nor meek and patient, for it is much of your natural disposition; but I pray you will often be in retirement with the Lord, and guard against encroaching friendships. Keep them at arm's length; for it is giving away our power; yes, and self too, into the possession of another; and that which might seem engaging in the beginning may prove a yoke and burden too hard and heavy in the end. Therefore, keep dominion over yourself; and let your children, good meetings, and Friends be the pleasure of your life.

Fourthly: And now, my dearest, let me recommend to your care for my dear children; abundantly beloved of me as the Lord's blessings, and the sweet pledges of our mutual and endeared affection. Above all things endeavor to breed them up in the love of virtue, and that holy plain way of it which we have lived in, that the world, in no part of it, may get into my family. I had rather they were homely than finely bred as to outward behavior; yet I love sweetness mixed with gravity and cheerfulness tempered with sobriety. Religion in the heart leads into this true civility, teaching men and women to be mild and courteous in their behavior, an accomplishment worthy indeed of praise.

Fifthly: Next breed them up in a love one of another. Tell them it is the charge I left behind me, and that it is the way to have the love and blessing of God upon them; also what his portion is who hates, or calls his brother a fool. Sometimes separate them, but not long; and allow them to send and give each other small things to endear one another with. Once more I say, tell them it was my counsel they should be tender and affectionate one to another. For their learning is to be liberal. Spare no cost; for by such parsimony all is lost that is saved; but let it be useful knowledge, such as is consistent with truth and godliness, not cherishing a vain conversation or idle mind; but ingenuity mixed with industry is good for the body and mind too. I recommend the useful parts of mathematics, as building houses or ships, measuring, surveying, dialing, navigation; but agriculture is especially in my eye let my children be husbandmen and housewives; it is industrious, healthy, honest, and of good example; like Abraham and the holy ancients, who pleased God and obtained a good report. This leads to consider the works of God and nature, of things that are good, and diverts the mind from being taken up with the vain arts and inventions of a luxurious world. It is commendable in the princes of Germany and the nobles of that empire, that they have all their children instructed in some useful occupation. Keep an ingenious person in the house to teach them, rather than send them to schools, where too many evil impressions are commonly received there. Be sure to observe their genius, and do not cross it as to learning: let them not dwell too long on one thing; but let their change be agreeable, and all their diversions have some little bodily labor in them. When grown tall, have the most care for them; for then there are more snares both within and without. When marriageable, see that they have worthy persons in their eye, of good life, and good fame for piety and understanding. I need no wealth, but sufficiency; and be sure their love is dear, fervent, and mutual, that it may be happy for them. I do not choose that they should be married to earthly, covetous people. And of cities and towns of large populations beware; the world is apt to stick close to those who have lived and obtained wealth there; a country life and estate I like best for my children. I prefer a decent mansion, of an hundred pounds per annum, before ten thousand pounds in London, or such like place, in a way of trade.

In particular, my dear, endeavor to breed them dutiful to the Lord, and his blessed light, truth, and grace in their hearts, who is their Creator, and his fear will grow up with them. Teach a child, says the wise man, the way you will have him to walk, and when he is old he will not forget it.

Next, teach them to be obedient to you, their dear mother; not to avoid punishment, but because it is right and for their consciences' sake; to be liberal to the poor, pitiful to the miserable, humble and kind to all. May my God make you a blessing, and give you comfort in our dear children; and in age gather you to the joy and blessedness of the just, where no death shall separate us forever!

And now, my dear children, who are the gifts and mercies of the God of your tender father, hear my counsel, and lay it up in your hearts; love it more than treasure, and follow it, and you shall be blessed here and happy hereafter.

In the first place, remember your Creator in the days of your youth. It was the glory of Israel in the second of Jeremiah; and how did God bless Josiah because he feared Him in his youth! and so he did Jacob, Joseph, and Moses. My dear children, remember and fear and serve Him who made you and gave you to me and your dear mother; that you may live to Him and glorify Him in your generations!

To do this, in your youthful days seek after the Lord, that you may find Him; remembering his great love in creating you; that you are not beasts, plants, or stones, but that He has kept you, and given you his grace within, and substance without, and provided plentifully for you. This remember in your youth, that you may be kept from the evil of the world; for in age it will be harder to overcome the temptations of it.

Therefore, my dear children, eschew the appearance of evil, and love and cleave to that in your hearts which shows you evil from good, and tells you when you do amiss, and reproves you for it. It is the light of Christ that He has given you for your salvation. If you do this, and follow my counsel, God will bless you in this world, and give you an inheritance in that which shall never have an end. For the light of Jesus is of a purifying nature; it seasons those who love it and take heed to it, and never leaves such till it has brought them to the city of God, that has foundations. O that you may be seasoned with the gracious nature of it! Hide it in your hearts, and flee, my dear children, from all youthful lusts; the vain sports, pastimes, and pleasures of the world; redeeming the time because the days are evil! - You are now beginning to live - what would some give for your time? If I were as young as you, in the flower of youth, I could have lived better! Therefore love and fear the Lord, keep close to meetings, [waiting on the Lord in family or in Quaker meetings] and delight to wait on the Lord God of your father and mother, among his despised people, [the early Quakers] as we have done; and count it your honor to be members of that Society, and heirs of that living fellowship which is enjoyed among them, for the experience of which your father's soul blesses the Lord forever.

Next, be obedient to your dear mother, a woman whose virtue and good name is an honor to you; for she has been exceeded by none in her time for her plainness, integrity, industry, humanity, virtue, and good understanding; qualities not usual among women of her worldly condition and quality. Therefore, honor and obey her, my dear children, as your mother, and your father's love and delight; no, love her, too, for she loved your father with a deep and upright love, choosing him before all her many suitors; and though she is of a delicate constitution and noble spirit, yet she descended to the utmost tenderness and care for you, performing the most painful acts of service to you in your infancy, as a mother and a nurse, too. I charge you, before the Lord,* honor and obey, love and cherish your dear mother.

Next, undertake to yourselves to some honest, industrious course of life, and that not of sordid covetousness, but for example and to avoid idleness. And if you change your condition, and marry, choose with the knowledge and consent of your mother, if living, or of guardians or those who have charge of you. Mind neither beauty nor riches, but the fear of the Lord, and a sweet and amiable disposition, such as you can love above all this world, and that may make your habitations pleasant and desirable to you.

And, being married, be tender, affectionate, patient, and meek. Live in the fear of the Lord, and he will bless you and your offspring. Be sure to live within your means; borrow not, neither be beholden to any. Do not ruin yourselves by kindness to others; for that exceeds the due bounds of friendship, neither will a true friend expect it. Small matters I heed not.

Let your industry and parsimony go no further than for a sufficiency for life, and to make a provision for your children, and that in moderation, if the Lord gives you any. I charge you help the poor and needy; let the Lord have a voluntary share of your income for the good of the poor, both in our Society and others; for we are all his creatures; remembering that 'he that gives to the poor lends to the Lord.'

Know well your incomings, and your outgoings may be better regulated. Love not money nor the world; use them only, and they will serve you; but if you love them, you serve them, which will debase your spirits as well as offend the Lord. Pity the distressed, and hold out a hand of help to them; it may be your case; and as you give to others God will give to you again.

Be humble and gentle in your conversation; of few words, I charge you; but always pertinent when you speak, hearing out before you attempt to answer, and then speaking as if you would persuade, not impose.

Affront none, neither revenge the affronts that are done to you; but forgive, and you shall be forgiven of your heavenly Father.

In making friends consider well first; and when you are fixed be true, not wavering by reports nor deserting in affliction, for that becomes not the good and virtuous. Watch against anger, neither speak nor act in it; for, like drunkenness, it makes a man a beast, and throws people into desperate inconveniences.

Avoid flatterers, for they are thieves in disguise; their praise is costly, designed to evade those to whom they speak; they are the worst of creatures; they lie to socially gab, and flatter to cheat; and, which is worse, if you believe them you cheat yourselves most dangerously. But the virtuous, though poor, love, cherish, and prefer. Remember David, who asking the Lord, ' Who shall abide in your tabernacle? Who shall dwell upon your holy hill? ' answers, ' He that walks uprightly, works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart; in whose eyes the vile person is condemned, but honors them that fear the Lord.'

Next, my children, be temperate in all things; in your diet, for that is medicine by prevention; it keeps, no, it makes people healthy, and their generation sound. This is exclusive of the spiritual advantage it brings. Be also plain in your apparel; keep out that lust which reigns too much over some; let your virtues be your ornaments, remembering life is more than food, and the body than raiment. Let your furniture be simple and cheap. Avoid pride, avarice, and luxury. Read my No Cross, No Crown. There is instruction. Make your conversation with the most eminent for wisdom and piety; and shun all wicked men as you hope for the blessing of God and the comfort of your father's living and dying prayers. Be sure you speak no evil of any, no, not even of the worst; much less of your superiors, as magistrates, guardians, tutors, teachers, and elders in Christ.

Do not be busybodies; do not meddle with other folks' matters, except when in conscience and duty you are pressed; for it procures trouble, and is ill manners, and very unseemly to wise men.

In your families remember Abraham, Moses, and Joshua, their integrity to the Lord; and do as you have them for your examples.

Let the fear and service of the living God be encouraged in your houses, and that plainness, sobriety, and moderation in all things as becomes God's chosen people; and as I advise you, my beloved children, if God should give you children, counsel them. Yes, I counsel and command them as my posterity, that they love and serve the Lord God with an upright heart, that He may bless you and yours from generation to generation.

And as for you, who are likely to be concerned in the government of Pennsylvania and my parts of East-Jersey, especially the first, I do charge you before the Lord God and his holy angels,* that you be lowly, diligent, and tender, fearing God, loving the people, and hating covetousness. Let justice have its impartial course, and the law its free passage. Though to your loss, protect no man against the law; for you are not above the law, but the law is above you. Live, therefore, the lives yourselves you would have the people live, and then you have right and boldness to punish the transgressor. Keep upon the mark, for God sees you; therefore, do your duty, and be sure you see with your own eyes, and hear with your own ears. Entertain none who are pretenders, cherish no informers for gain or revenge; use no tricks; flee to no devices to support or cover injustice; but let your hearts be upright before the Lord, trusting in Him above the schemes of men, and no one shall be able to hurt or dislodge you.

Oh! the Lord is a strong God, and He can do whatever He pleases; and though do not men consider it, it is the Lord that rules and overrules in the kingdoms of men, and He builds up and pulls down. I, your father, am the man that can say, he that trusts in the Lord shall not be confounded. But God, in due time, will make his enemies to be at peace with Him.

If you behave yourselves in this way, and so become a terror to evil-doers and a praise to them that do well, God, my God, will be with you in wisdom and a sound mind, and make you blessed instruments in his hand for the settlement of some of those desolate parts of the world, which my soul desires above all worldly honors and riches, both for you that go and you that stay; you that govern and you that are governed; that in the end you may be gathered with me to the rest of God.

Finally, my children, love one another with a true endeared love, and your dear relations on both sides, and take care to preserve tender affections in your children to each other, often marrying within themselves [first cousin marriages], so as it is without the bounds forbidden in God's law [which are not forbidden by God], that so they may not, like the forgetting unnatural world, grow out of kindred and as cold as strangers; but as becomes a truly natural and Christian stock, you and yours after you may live in the pure and fervent love of God towards one another, as becomes brethren in the spiritual and natural relation.

So, my God, that has blessed me with his abundant mercies, both of this and the other and blessed life, be with you all, guide you by his counsel, bless you, and bring you to his eternal glory! That you may shine, my dear children, in the firmament of God's power with the blessed spirits of the just, that celestial family, praising and admiring Him, the God and Father of it, forever. For there is no God like Him; the God of Isaac and of Jacob, the God of the prophets, the apostles, and martyrs of Jesus, in whom I live forever.

So farewell to my three times dearly beloved wife and children!

Yours, as God pleases, in that which no waters can quench, no time forget, nor distance wear away, but remains forever,

William Penn

WORMINGHURST, 4th of Sixth month, 1682

*Penn writes from the presence of God, in his Kingdom.

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free from sin
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